Friday, May 31, 2013

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Now that the 2012-2013 TV season is almost over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Deschanel earned her first nomination last year for her role on FOX’s new comedy, and scored Golden Globe nods this and last year as well. Emmy voters tend to get behind leading female stars and stick with them for a while, and so given the fact that her show hasn’t declined in popularity at all and is still fresh, I’d say she’s safe.

Lena Dunham (Girls)
Dunham was an underdog spoiler pick last year, and now she’s one of the sure things. After her show got a Best Comedy Series bid last year, she picked up a Golden Globe for her performance and the series won that awards body’s top prize. Though season two wasn’t beloved by all, Dunham is on fire right now, and a snub would be about as shocking as the omission of “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” for their sophomore seasons.

Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
Falco has been nominated for an Emmy ten times, most recently three years in a row for this show. She picked up a trophy for this role in 2010 and has been back each year since, joined last year by costar Merritt Wever in the supporting race. Falco did get snubbed one season of “The Sopranos” and missed out on a Golden Globe nod this past year, but her show scored its first SAG bid for Best Ensemble this year, so I think it all evens out and she’s still likely to be included.

Tina Fey (30 Rock)
This will be Fey’s last time contending in this race for this role. Critically-speaking, the show she created showed no signs of lagging as it aired its final thirteen episodes, and she’s all but guaranteed to contend for the seventh time in this race. She won for the show’s second season, and I suspect that she might win again this year if voters are feeling nostalgic.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Louis-Dreyfus is a force to be reckoned with at the Emmys, now the proud owner of trophies for three different roles. Her first was in the supporting race for “Seinfeld,” her second in this category for the horrendous “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and last year she won for “Veep,” which picked up an unexpected Best Comedy Series nomination as well. I fully expect her to return since her show is just as good this year and she’s still an Emmy favorite.

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
I did not expect McCarthy to be nominated again last year after she won the year before because of all the buzz for “Bridesmaids.” Yet she did return, along with another bid for hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Her show is now in its third season, and there’s nothing to suggest that she won’t be back again because voters seem to love her and, despite the quality of her show, she’s a very funny woman. She’s likely in.

Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation)
The abomination that was Poehler’s show getting shut out of the Best Comedy Series race last year didn’t extend to Poehler in this race, and she even scored a writing nomination to go along with it. In its fifth season, her show is now NBC’s longest-running current comedy, and I think that, even if voters don’t love it for some reason, they do love her, and she’ll be nominated for sure.

Past nominees:

Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope)
Plimpton was nominated in this race two years ago and last year found herself snubbed, but got quite the consolation prize in an Emmy win for Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her recurring role on “The Good Wife.” While she may return to contend for that part once again, I don’t see her having a resurgence in this category since the show, which was in its freshman year when Plimpton earned her nomination, has hardly gained popularity.

New contenders:

Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project)
Kaling was always a standout supporting player whose role was too small to merit Emmy consideration on “The Office.” Now she has her own show, and voters tend to like actors and actresses who also work behind the scenes on their series. The trouble is that she’s much better than her show, and missing out on a Golden Globe nomination that many expected her to get didn’t help matters at all, so consider her chances uncertain.

Other possibilities:

Laura Dern (Enlightened)
It would be such a fitting tribute to this wonderful, short-lived HBO series for Dern to earn a farewell nomination. After winning a Golden Globe last year, Dern wasn’t even nominated for an Emmy, and then her show took a long break from the air, which meant that she wasn’t eligible for this past year’s Golden Globes. I doubt there’s enough buzz for her show, but it would be nice to see a quirky series like this rewarded. Dern has four Emmy nominations on her resume, but none for regular series work.

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Now that the 2012-2013 TV season is almost over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s ineligible nominees: Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
I shouldn’t be as disgruntled as I am about the fact that Baldwin is eligible for yet another Emmy since this isn’t the SAG Awards, where Baldwin triumphed a horrifying seven years in a row. Baldwin only actually has two Emmys, for the show’s second and third seasons, and he’ll undoubtedly be back to contend for the last time for this role and probably to take home the award again.

Louis C.K. (Louie)
Everyone is predicting once again that “Louie” will make the cut for Best Comedy Series, something I still don’t think is going to happen. More importantly, C.K. will surely be nominated again. After earning a Golden Globe nod and a SAG nod for the first time this past year, C.K. is back on his home turf. Last year, he netted seven total Emmy nominations and took home two trophies for writing. I still don’t think he’s a frontrunner in this race, but he’ll be a nominee for sure.

Don Cheadle (House of Lies)
Last year, Cheadle was the lone representative of Showtime’s freshman ratings hit which never earned too many positive reviews from viewers. Cheadle took home a Golden Globe for his performance in January, which doesn’t mean much for his Emmy chances considering he couldn’t win last year. There’s little to suggest he will or won’t be back, since his show isn’t new and fresh anymore but it seems like he was the only part of it people liked anyway, which means that it shouldn’t matter if voters still love Cheadle.

Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
I’ll never comprehend why people love Cryer so much. Cryer won on his fourth try in the supporting race and then returned for two more nominations before being promoted last year to this category and surprising by winning that trophy too. Clearly, those who adore him outweigh those who hate him, and all evidence points to Cryer being a nominee again this year, since his show is still watched by millions and continues to succeed despite the replacement of its star and the impending exodus of its half man.

Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Parsons bounced back from the Golden Globe snub last year following his win the previous year that put his status in jeopardy with a new Golden Globe mention and his first-ever solo SAG bid. Parsons has been nominated four times now, winning in 2010 and 2011, and his show continues to do well, putting him at the top of the list to return as a nominee this year.

Past nominees:
Jason Bateman (Arrested Development)
I have no idea how Netflix will fare with Emmy voters, but if something is going to do well, it’s this show. Bateman earned one nomination in this category out of a total of three years that his show competed for Best Comedy Series. His chances therefore should be just as good as ever, and I suspect that voters will want to enthusiastically welcome back one of their favorite series, bringing along its lead actor for the ride.

Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Galecki was nominated along with his costar Jim Parsons two years ago in this category, and last year got left off the list while both Parsons and supporting actress Mayim Bialik made the cut. Galecki scored a Golden Globe nod in 2012 in place of Parsons, but this past year, Parsons returned to take his spot again. I see no reason why Galecki would return after his snub last year, and I think he was just the benefactor of enthusiasm for the show at its Emmy peak two years ago.

Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
LeBlanc was nominated for this show’s first season and won a Golden Globe, but the series didn’t air in 2012. After a highly successful and well-received second year, which managed the not insignificant feat of scoring repeat Globe nods for LeBlanc and for Best Comedy Series, it’s likely that LeBlanc will be back again for his self-portrayal, as long as voters haven’t forgotten the series in its absence from the airwaves.

New contenders:
Matthew Perry (Go On)
Perry has not had the same luck as former costars LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow in earning Emmy love for the series he’s starred in following “Friends.” After one nomination for playing Chandler Bing, in 2002, Perry has been back three times as an Emmy nominee, twice for his guest-starring role on “The West Wing,” and once for the TV movie “The Ron Clark Story.” Perry got good marks for his latest part, but his show’s cancellation and his Golden Globe snub don’t bode well for his chances.

Other possibilities:
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Last year, FOX’s new comedy fared decently at the Emmys, earning acting bids for Zooey Deschanel and showy costar Max Greenfield. This year, Johnson made the move from the supporting race to the lead category as his character took a more prominent role in the show. Voters demonstrated their enthusiasm for younger actors last year with Greenfield’s nomination, so maybe Johnson can follow.

Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation)
It’s perplexing to me that Emmy voters are not fans of the best TV comedy currently on the air, giving it a grand total of eight nominations in all categories over four years. Amy Poehler is still the only performer nominated, and Scott’s charming husband would make for a much more solid choice than the equally compelling Rob Lowe, who is great but doesn’t belong in this category. He’s a longshot at best with sadly low chances.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Now that the 2012-2013 TV season is officially over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s ineligible nominees: Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Glenn Close (Damages):
When I saw that Close was a nominee last year, I immediately indicated her as ineligible to return before realizing that the show’s fifth season did in fact air during the 2012-2013 season. Close made the cut after her show switched from FX to DirecTV, and I see no reason why she wouldn’t be nominated again considering how voters like to keep retuning nominees around until their show are truly gone and forgotten.

Claire Danes (Homeland)
Danes is on fire right now. She won this award last year and has since picked up a Golden Globe and a SAG award for her work in the show’s second season. There’s no way that she won’t make the cut this year, and, in fact, she’ll probably win again. Her show is still a major hit, and she’s its most front-and-center asset.

Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)
Dockery got nominated last year as part of the excessive love for “Downton Abbey” in its first year competing in the drama series categories. She followed up that nomination with Golden Globe and SAG bids. Now she’s competing for the show’s third season, and it’s likely that she’ll be back again since voters seem to like her and she stands out from among the ensemble as one of its leads.

Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Margulies, who won this award two years ago, survived the snub of her show in the Best Drama Series category and earned a nomination last year. The show is still popular and managed to pick up six acting mentions last year, and Margulies is all but certain to return this year as the show’s main star and its most dependable player.

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Moss has been nominated four times, three times in this category and once in the supporting race, for the show’s third season. Though her prominence in this season has not been entirely consistent, Moss will still be competing in this race this coming year. When she is featured, however, she has been great, and that should help her get nominated again.

Past nominees:
Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU)
After eight consecutive nominations in this race, Hargitay was left off for the first time last year. As the show enters its fifteenth season, it’s far from certain that Hargitay would be returning again, and how long she might be sticking around after that. It’s not likely that she’ll be welcomed back into the race after a year off, but eight nominations suggests that she shouldn’t be dismissed entirely.

Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
Sedgwick was nominated five times in a row in this race and won in 2010. After that, she was snubbed and hasn’t been nominated since. Sedgwick should be eligible this year because her show aired its final six episodes last summer. Voters may not remember her, however, and she may also have some competition in the star of the spinoff series, Mary McDonnell.

New contenders:
Connie Britton (Nashville)
Britton joined this race three years ago for her role on “Friday Night Lights” and returned with a repeat nomination for the show’s final season. Britton was an Emmy nominee last year too in a different race for “American Horror Story,” which was considered a miniseries during its first season. She scored a Golden Globe nomination for her new part on ABC’s country music show, and might continue her streak for her latest role.

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
The first time that Norman Bates appeared on screen, Oscar nominations ensued. Now, he’s back on TV, and his mother is one of the most notable parts of the show. Farmiga was an Oscar nominee in 2009 for “Up in the Air,” and has a chance at being included this year if voters don’t find the show too dark. She’s also the star of a show on a network that doesn’t have too many scripted originals but has done decently with what it has offered in the past (Shirley Jones’ guest acting nomination for “The Cleaner” comes to mind).

Lucy Liu (Elementary)
Most of the positive reviews for CBS’ procedural have spotlighted the surprisingly good performance by Liu as a re-imagined female version of Sherlock Holmes’ partner Dr. Watson. Liu earned an Emmy nomination in 1999 for her supporting performance on “Ally McBeal,” and she doesn’t have to work as hard to stand out on her own show here. She does, however, have plenty of competition in this race which could impede her ability to place.

Mary McDonnell (Major Crimes)
McDonnell came so close to being nominated for an Emmy in this category for her work on “Battlestar Galactica.” She has, however, been nominated for two Emmys in the guest acting race, the first in 2002 for “ER” and then in 2011 for this very performance on the show that spun this series off, “The Closer.” McDonnell doesn’t stand out as much from her ensemble as Kyra Sedgwick did, but her Emmy track record and the show’s high ratings suggest that she shouldn’t be discounted. Keri Russell (The Americans)
Comparisons are being drawn between the former star of “Felicity” and Claire Danes, who went from a teenage TV role to an Emmy win for “Homeland.” The difference is that Russell only ever won a Golden Globe for the WB’s “Felicity,” so her chances aren’t nearly as good. FX shows sometimes do well, so it’s unclear whether or not Russell will make the cut for her acclaimed performance.

Robin Wright (House of Cards)
Wright is a contender for the strongly-received Netflix series that premiered in February on the streaming service. Her costar Kevin Spacey may make the cut in the male field, and that could open up the door for Wright and some of her supporting costars to get in too. It’s difficult to know whether Netflix can pull off a major Emmy presence, and Wright doesn’t have the awards history Spacey does to guarantee her a spot even if it does fare well.

Emmy Musings: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Now that the 2012-2013 TV season is officially over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s eligible nominees:
Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey)
Last year, this extraordinarily popular show dominated the acting nominations. Though he is the show’s star, Bonneville is far from its showiest player, and he could easily be left off the list if voters aren’t as enthusiastic about the British import anymore. He’s still a good bet to return though consider the show continues to beloved, so don’t count him out just yet.

Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
It aired a while ago, but this show’s third season was its best yet. It’s no longer the hot new series it used to be – Buscemi lost the SAG award he won two years in a row to Bryan Cranston, and the show lost to “Downton Abbey” – but that doesn’t mean he’ll miss out on a nomination since he’s an acclaimed star on a quality show on one of Emmy’s favorite networks. He’s not a lock, but he’s pretty likely.

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Cranston won this award for the first three years of this show, and then returned with a nomination last year for the show’s fourth season after it took a calendar year off the air. Cranston picked up his first SAG trophy for his work on the first half of the show’s fifth season, and the fact that the series finale of the show airs just one week after the Emmy ceremony means that promos for the show’s highly anticipated last eight episodes will be airing just in time for Cranston to establish himself as this year’s likely frontrunner to take home his fourth Emmy.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Most were surprised that Hall made the cut last year after his show fell out of favor with voters, but it’s coming off of its best season in a while as it heads into its final year, which begins just as Emmy voting really kicks into high gear. It’s probably time for voters to let Hall go, especially with new contenders in the mix. His chances are slim but still possible given the fact that he was once truly beloved, particularly during the show’s fourth season when he picked up a Golden Globe and a SAG award.

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
It’s crazy to think that Hamm has yet to win an Emmy, along with every other actor from his show. After the show lost the Best Drama Series award for the first time last year, it was dropped from the corresponding Golden Globe category altogether. Hamm managed to retain his spot, however, and I don’t see him being left out of the race this year since the show is still strong.

Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Last year’s winner had an excellent if potentially divisive second year on his show, and, unless voters aren’t happy with how season two went, he’ll be back again. Lewis took home a Golden Globe for his performance in the show’s second season, which suggests that at least someone liked him enough to reward him again. I suspect he’ll be in the lineup again even if he doesn’t win a second time.

Past nominees:
Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
It’s a shame that this great actor didn’t get nominated for his show’s third season after picking up a nomination for its second. That will make it especially difficult for him to return to the race this year. The fact that he wasn’t front and center in his own show for a good portion of the season also doesn’t help matters, so don’t expect this to be the year that he earns his spot back.

New contenders:
Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
NBC opted not to decide right away about whether or not it wanted to renew its update of the Hannibal Lecter saga, and voters may be equally unsure of whether they want to reward this take on the famous character whose previous cinematic version won a handful of Oscars two decades ago. Its two stars might cancel each other out, but its possible that one or both could make the cut if voters indulge their appetites for this show.

Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
It feels like forever ago that Aaron Sorkin’s masterful and sometimes controversial take on reporting the news aired. SAG voters opted not to reward the ensemble but singled out Daniels, which suggests that he’ll be able to make it in even if his show doesn’t get the same reception. This will be his first foray into Emmy territory, but given how much voters used to like Sorkin, I’d say that he might even be able to win if the show proves memorable enough from last summer.

Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary)
It may get the most viewers, but CBS doesn’t tend to earn much Emmy attention these days. That’s too bad, considering Miller turns in one of the most consistently excellent performances week after week as the legendary detective. Other versions of the classic character, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr., have earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations recently, so why couldn’t Miler? His snub for his great work in season five of the Emmy-friendly “Dexter” suggests his chances are slim.

Matthew Rhys (The Americans) Rhys has a lead role in one of the season’s most acclaimed new series. Emmy voters, however, aren’t always into equal opportunity, and I suspect that Keri Russell may get the bulk of the love for FX’s spy show. Rhys never managed an Emmy nomination while other members of the “Brothers and Sisters” cast did, and he may end up in that familiar situation this year.

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
It’s difficult to predict how Netflix original programming will be received by Emmy voters. “Arrested Development” has a substantial advantage over this show, which, despite being based on a British miniseries that won an Emmy two decades ago, may not earn any Emmy traction. Spacey was a nominee in 2008 for “Recount,” but a good Emmy track record couldn’t help Kelsey Grammer get nominated for a similar role on an untested network last year, so it’s unclear what will happen.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I’m Watching: Longmire (Season Premiere)

Longmire: Season 2, Episode 1 “Unquiet Mind” (B+)

It’s great to have this underrated cop show back for the summer, and this was a fantastic, if off-season, way to start. The first scene containing an animal blocking the road was a subdued beginning for the episode, and, as always, things progressed in a quiet, nuanced manner. It’s no surprise that Walt would opt to follow the escaped serial killer up north despite the threat of an incoming storm, though at least he agreed to bring Vic’s cell phone with him, for all the good that did him. His cold-induced hallucinations were rather powerful, and hopefully we’ll see a much more stable and clearheaded Walt in the episodes to come. Branch appears to be pursuing the sheriff’s office as furiously as ever, though it was reassuring to see him team up with Henry without giving it a second thought to go rescue Walt. Vic punching the agent was pretty terrific, though her disgraced, regretful reaction was the best part since it didn’t turn into something bigger and instead forced her to contemplate the consequences of what she had done. I think that this show uses its remote setting and all the things that come with it – the weather, the Native American population, etc. – to its advantage. I look forward to this being one of my most reliable go-to procedurals this summer. It should prove particularly interesting to see what happens with the election and how Branch will deal with what’s almost guaranteed to be a loss given the title of the show.

What I’m Watching: Revolution

Revolution: Season 1, Episode 19 “Children of Men” (D-)

When I saw the title of this episode, I got excited because I immediately recalled one of the best-ever cinematic vision of dystopian society with some crucial aspect of life missing. This episode was a notch better than recent hours since it introduced Glenn Morshower, another “24” alum famous for playing Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce, as the leader of the group of self-appointed guards of Level 12 in the Tower, taking their jobs very seriously and vowing never to let the power be turned back on. It’s a fine concept, but the execution of the rest of the episode didn’t match. I’m skeptic about Tom and Jason managing to talk the underused Omid Abtahi’s captain into starting a revolt purely because Jason gave his father his first-ever compliment. Tom’s “Women, am I right?” comment to Jason was played just for laughs and completely and totally out of character for him, something that has been happening a lot lately. Charlie also seemed to react knowingly to Aaron’s reference to watching “Mythbusters,” a series she could never possibly remember. While Rachel may have needed Monroe’s help escaping, there’s no reason she had to give him an extremely powerful gun. With just one episode left this season, we can expect a major game-changer leading into season two, and I do hope it’s something that improves this show considerably since it’s unbearable to keep watching and see how many wasted opportunities there are to craft an actually decent, compelling, and thrilling sci-fi show.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 9 “The Better Half” (B+)

This was an epic episode in terms of relationship drama. Most notably, we got a chance to see Don and Betty cheating on their spouses with each other, both considerably happier together than they ever were before. Betty had the most stinging line of the hour, calling Megan a poor girl for not knowing that loving Don is the worst way to get to him. After Don came down to breakfast to see Betty eating with Henry, he seemed to actually do something positive and try to be there for Megan, who almost had her own unexpected sexual encounter. Peggy accidentally stabbing Abe was unfortunate, but it was clear much before this that they weren’t meant to be together. Abe telling her that she’d always be the enemy was particularly harsh. Ted dismissing his feelings for Peggy didn’t help much, and now she’s caught between two warring execs who want to use her to resolve their differences. Roger stopping by Joan’s after being told that he couldn’t see his grandson again after taking him to “Planet of the Apes” only to find the nicest man in the universe, Bob, at her door in a bathing suit was a blow, and I hope Bob doesn’t bear the brunt of his wrath. Seeing Duck again was a treat even if he didn’t have much of a role, and I do hope Pete finds some degree of happiness soon now that he’s become a sympathetic character again.

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 1, Episode 9 “Unconscious Selection” (B+)

Another fantastic installment of this show sadly means we’re one step closer to the end of its first season. This episode was not short on bombshells, and it’s impossible to figure out where season two will go given some of things that our characters have just learned. Sarah didn’t decide to trust Art when he approached her to give her one last chance, and he managed to put the pieces together and realize that Beth is actually dead and Sarah is the one posing as her. I thought that he would confront her, but it looks like he’s lost patience with her lies and instead took what he found out straight to his coworkers. Sarah’s discovery that she and Helena were born as twins is extremely important since they may in fact be the originals, which makes Helena’s fate up in the air at this point. There’s something about this DNA that seems to make monitors fall for their subjects, as Delphine admitted to being enchanted by Cosima, who is not interested in giving her a second chance despite the fact that they were both lying to each other. I love that Alison dealt with her intervention by revealing even more destructive things about those sitting around her, and that Felix was there to share her prescriptions and support her efforts to make the lives of those around her miserable rather than her own. I think one of the show’s best couplings is that of Alison and Felix, who initially despised each other and now are almost best of friends.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fall 2013: The Least Promising Pilots

During this week where TV gets a bit thin in between the broadcast fall season and the summer cable season, it’s the perfect time to look ahead to the fall. If you haven’t seen it already, check out my look at the least promising pilots over at Shockya. Read about the new shows and watch embedded trailers! Follow this link to read the piece.

Fall 2013: The Most Promising Pilots

During this week where TV gets a bit thin in between the broadcast fall season and the summer cable season, it’s the perfect time to look ahead to the fall. If you haven’t seen it already, check out my look at the most promising pilots over at Shockya. Read about the new shows and watch embedded trailers! Follow this link to read the piece.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pilot Review: Save Me

Save Me (NBC)
Premiered May 23 at 8pm

My hopes were not high for this comedy which NBC deemed unworthy of inserting into its schedule during the twelve months since it announced its pickup. Technically, it isn’t any worse than four out of five of NBC’s freshman comedies from this year, “Go On” being the exception, but those all got cancelled, so it doesn’t say much for the state of comedy these days on NBC (“Parks and Recreation” continues to be the network’s only saving grace, as well as “Community” for its devoted fans). This show takes a far-out concept, one of religion inserted into an eccentric woman’s everyday life after she chokes during a drunken binge-eating session, and tries to run with it. What results is an odd, quirky show that doesn’t have a consistent or terribly coherent rhythm. Anne Heche, who was charming in “Men in Trees” and actually quite terrific in “Hung,” is extremely irritating her, emphasizing the gender-neutral nature of her new friend and taking every opportunity to over-exaggerate her newfound situation to make it seem even more extreme. The show took out its best character, Alexandra Breckenridge’s Carly, with a bolt of lightning at the end of its first episode, and now it’s stuck with Madison Davenport’s rude daughter and Michael Landes’ gutless cheating husband. This show truly does feel like a summer show, and it reminds me of the very short-lived 2006 Aidan Quinn vehicle “The Book of Daniel.” Like that series, this one swings for a grand humor-driven take on God, and misses entirely.

How will it work as a series? Airing two episodes at a time should give the plot plenty of opportunity to progress since this show is guided almost entirely by its storyline, if the first episode’s mid-scene ending was any indication. The sentimental finish to the second episode indicates a more emotional undercurrent that should make the show more endearing if still impossibly peculiar.
How long will it last? Not long at all. There’s no chance of it being renewed for a second season, but even in an uncompetitive off-season, it might not even manage to air the thirteen episodes of its initial order. Pretty much matching the ratings of the swiftly-cancelled “Do No Harm” does not suggest a promising fate.

Pilot grade: F

What I’m Watching: Nashville (Season Finale)

Nashville: Season 1, Episode 21 “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” (B-)

This was a powerful episode in many ways, but I’m not compelled by where some aspects of the story are headed. Deacon’s reaction to the news that Maddie might be his daughter is expected, and it really managed to undo him completely, making sure that Teddy was vigilant about Deacon not being in her life and sending him spiraling back into addiction. Maddie was angry with Rayna and wanted to live with Teddy, who is now going to have a whole new scandal to deal with since she is pregnant with a baby that most likely is in fact Teddy’s. Lamar demoting Tandy was his last big misstep, since his apparent return to health makes him ripe for a political takedown. He hasn’t been a central player on this show consistently enough for that plotline to be of extreme interest. The final scene with Will was also puzzling, since he seemed to imply some evil by the look he gave the guy who stared at him, suddenly transformed into some homicidal maniac rather than the shy player who made a move on Gunnar and then pretended it didn’t happen. I’m curious to see whether Gunnar timing his proposal both after their break-up and after Scarlett had to see her uncle unhinged will prove to be a good idea, though she did look awfully cozy with another completely transformed character, Avery, when he called her up on stage to sing with him. I find it odd that Rayna was one of the only people to attend Juliette’s mother’s funeral since she would likely not have wanted her nemesis there. I will admit that it was refreshing to see Glenn again, and to see him back in such a sympathetic, comforting way. Juliette actually has little to lose now as she moves forward, while Rayna and Deacon will surely feel the residual effects of what appears to be a very bad car accident in season two. I did enjoy this first year even if the plot got a bit away from itself sometimes, and I look forward to seeing the show again next year.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Connie Britton as Rayna

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family (Season Finale)

Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 24 “Goodnight, Gracie” (B+)

This season has not been entirely even, with a handful of good episodes at the beginning of the season and scattered throughout, and a mostly disappointing slate otherwise. It’s still much better than most sitcoms even at its worst, but it’s reassuring to see a strong if not entirely hilarious episode as the finale to this show’s fourth year. Starting off with Phil’s mom’s dying was a dramatic gamble, but it paid off well since the episode was laced with humor and some sentimental reactions to her legacy. Phil getting yelled at by the security guard for wanting to feed the ducks was a fun start, and it was entertaining to see his improvised reaction to Claire’s aggressive action, which ultimately turned out to be a positive step that led to a heartfelt crying session for Phil. The gifts that each of the grandchildren got were appropriate, and I like that Alex didn’t realize that she had to open the note and that Luke had his own theories about why there was a chain for the pocket watch. It’s no surprise that Manny felt comfortable with the pace and feel of Florida, though I think that the episode’s final scene with him and Luke was a bit forced. Mitchell’s flair in the courtroom was funny, and I enjoyed the callback to his “Shame!” that he got in while exhausting the judge by flamboyantly representing everyone with an appointment and then getting Gloria off simply by provoking the judge to not being able to tolerate him anymore. Cam creating drama in the book club was predictable but still enjoyable. Jay’s situation was amusing, and it was good to see him occupied while Gloria was off trying to prevent herself from being sent to jail. I know this show still has quality in it, and I hope that the fifth season demonstrates that rather than trying to overextend itself on a regular basis.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Ty Burrell as Phil

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pilot Review: Motive

Motive (ABC)
Premiered May 20 at 10pm

It should come as no surprise that one of ABC’s new series slated for this summer is actually a Canadian show that already aired in its home country. ABC has done this before, with “Rookie Blue,” and other networks have tried it recently with the likes of “Flashpoint,” “The Listener,” and “Merlin,” to name a few. This one comes with a few familiar TV faces attached. Kristin Lehman, who appeared in short-lived series “Killer Instinct” and “Drive,” was most recently seen on AMC’s “The Killing,” and while that initially cancelled show was ultimately revived, her character won’t be returning with it. Lauren Holly will be familiar to fans of “NCIS” as Director Jenny Shepard, and Roger Cross was once part of the phenomenon that is “24.” This show is a standard cop show, with a title and angle that seems to suggest that its cases are approached from an unconventional perch, though that’s hardly the case. This shouldn’t be thought of as a successor to “Boomtown,” with its unconventional take on a police procedural. It may be that the plotline selected for the pilot just wasn’t engaging at all, but identifying the killer at the start but saving the not-so-juicy reason for his crime only served to draw out a dull hour. There’s also nothing particularly fascinating about Lehman’s Detective Angie Flynn, which makes this akin to a less gloomy “Profiler.” There’s nothing original or inventive about this show, and nothing about the pilot makes a case for tuning in for the second installment.

How will work as a series? Presumably the show will move on to some more complicated crimes that don’t involve one isolated event and a kid who wants to stay invisible as the sole motive for a murder. There might be some romantic drama between Flynn and her partner, and some family teenager issues with her son. We’ve seen all of that before.
How long will it last? The show was renewed by its Canadian network, CTV, for a second season several weeks ago. The best case scenario is that ABC decides to air the show every summer after its seasons finish in Canada, but there’s no way that it’s going to be a part of ABC’s crowded regular schedule. We’ll have to see how the show fares in its regular timeslot on Thursday nights.

Pilot grade: C-

What I’m Watching: Rectify (Season Finale)

Rectify: Season 1, Episode 6 “Jacob’s Ladder” (B+)

That scene that I’ve been seeing displayed on the advertisement I walk by every time I take the 7 train from Grand Central finally happened, and it was about as powerful as I had expected. After an episode which found Daniel actually making some good connections, he got himself beaten up and ended up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital as show goes on hiatus until next season. Being urinated on was surely humiliating, but I think the fact that people wanted to hurt him is probably bad enough for the kindhearted Daniel. I think the most effective part of this show is when it flashes back to prison when Daniel is communicating with those in neighboring cells. His rhyming game with his friendly neighbor was great, interrupted of course by the block’s less friendly resident, and that made Daniel’s friend’s walk to his execution all the more emotional. Daniel’s reaction to Jon answering Amantha’s door was fascinating, and I love that the relationship between the very spirited Amantha and Daniel continues to be strong, and was renewed thanks to their bonding trip and Daniel’s apology in this episode. Daniel won’t have an easy future ahead, but I think this show’s second season should prove compelling, especially if we see plenty of the show’s two best characters, Amantha and Tawney, who got a passive ending in this episode when she received Daniel’s appreciate voicemail, spared the knowledge, at least now, of his fate. I’m looking forward to seeing where this intriguing show goes in season two.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Abigail Spencer as Amantha

What I’m Watching: Revolution

Revolution: Season 1, Episode 18 “Clue” (F)

After watching Miles rush off to some random place every time something minor has happened in this show’s post-apocalyptic future, I don’t buy for a second that he would let the one person in the world that he likes, Nora, rot in captivity for weeks. It’s not as if Monroe had her well-hidden either, since he’s far from subtle, and with Tom and Charlie around, it’s impossible that no one would have thought to storm into Philadelphia and demand her return. The fact that Nora gave up information doesn’t seem to have affected any of our heroes, of course, and in fact it was another traitor altogether who caused most of this episode’s deaths, only one of which actually mattered. Jim does seem like the type of man who would do anything to protect his wife, but you’d think that he would have confided in Miles and tried to figure out a way to rescue his wife before this team officially decided that their unintelligent suicide missions that they all always seem to survive weren’t going to be happening anymore. I was amused by Miles’ decision to play a game of charades with the dying pilot, guessing what he was saying and imposing on him to shake his head vigorously rather than seek a more direct way of gleaning information from him. For a moment, I saw a glimpse of the show I want this to be as the helicopter was about to take off and great music was playing, but then it was over. If only Rachel’s grenade would actually detonate, and this show could finally become exciting and worthwhile. There’s no way that’s how it goes down.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What I’m Watching: Defiance

Defiance: Season 1, Episode 6 “Brothers in Arms” (C)

I am not impressed with the ability of the legal authorities in this show’s universe to contain arrested criminals. Though he acted mostly on his own unlike last week’s central prisoner, Madis escaped custody quite easily and managed to do well for himself right up until the moment that Nolan decided that it would be best to shoot him rather than risk him being honored for the horrible things that he did. Discovering that he just liked causing people pain, as the occasionally likable Datak had the pleasure of doing, was unfortunate, and made his sudden demise not all too regrettable. What was less convincing was the character of Eddie, who apparently sacrificed his freedom for Nolan and then, after nearly being ready to shoot him to be able to turn Madis in for a major reward, decided that he would once again give himself up so that his good old friend Nolan could be free to do whatever he wanted and to spend time with Irisa. He’s just going to escape anyway, so it’s not as if his big gesture is terribly consequential. I’m not sure that either Kenya or Nolan is cut out for a traditional relationship, but it would be nice if Kenya wasn’t simply relegated to being part of Nolan’s plotline since she’s more than capable of sustaining her own stories independent of him. I’m not sure how I feel about Gale Harold’s Connor, but I imagine he’ll be back again soon. We’re seeing so little of Nicky and Birch, but what we have seen is intriguing if not entirely fulfilling.

What I’m Watching: The Big C (Series Finale)

The Big C: Season 4, Episode 4 “The Finale”

The final episode of this comedy-turned-drama was always going to be extremely emotional, and it didn’t disappoint. Cathy still exhibited some of her more morbid traits, like recommending a caterer for her funeral and discussing her last words, but it was clear that she really was ready, however much nearly been suffocated last episode may have startled her. Getting booted from hospice after her powerful conversations with various clergy members was an unfortunate development that seemed ready to direct Cathy to a physician-assisted suicide, but, despite the pressure of people around her to stay cheery, she actually did alright with the transition to home. Paul getting her dad was sweet, and he managed to be relatively kind considering what we knew about him and his relationship with his children. Giving the $400 check for flowers that he left for her to Ina was touching, and choosing her being ready to split the pie as the last moment to see Cathy alive was very moving. Paul going to get peonies and arriving back too late was heartbreaking, and the closing shot of Cathy lying in the pool with Marlene was a wonderful note on which to end. Giving the supporting characters their own sense of closure was a nice touch. I loved Sean’s last dose of antiestablishment liberalism, desperately trying to soak up as much left-wing knowledge as possible before giving up his kidney to a man who tried to give him a Rolex. Andrea getting offered an internship by Isaac Mizrahi, however unlikely, was great, and it was refreshing to see Adam apply himself for once and surprise Cathy with the best gift of all, getting to see him graduate. Though she didn’t necessarily say them right before she died, “Lucky me” was a fitting choice for her last words, and this was a very strong way to close a truly terrific Showtime series.

Series finale: A-
Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Laura Linney as Cathy
Series grade: A-
Series MVP: John Benjamin Hickey as Sean
Best Season: Season 3
Best Episode: “Crossing the Line

Pilot Review: The Goodwin Games

The Goodwin Games (FOX)
Premiered May 20 at 8:30pm

I’ll never understand the point of holding a show until the end of the season and then airing it with the express knowledge that it’s going to die a quick and virtually unnoticed death. The wonderful Becki Newton has especially bad luck with this after NBC pulled the same stunt with “Love Bites” two years ago. I remember watching a trailer for this show at last year’s upfronts, back when Jake Lacy was still set to be in the role of Jimmy, and then hearing in November that its series order was cut from thirteen to seven episodes, and then in January that FOX had no faith in the show and probably wouldn’t even air it until summer. The principle of the matter aside, this is not a good show, and it’s probably best that it was saved for summer since people might actually tune it with little else to watch. It’s a silly premise that presumes that Beau Bridges’ patriarch spent his dying days recording endless videos that predict his children’s actions and compel them to play games together to vie for his mysteriously existent fortune. The actors involved are skilled in comedy, but this is hardly the best role for Scott Foley or Newton, who hasn’t had a chance to really show off her skills since “Ugly Betty.” And I can’t keep thinking that Lacy, who was so hilarious in ABC’s “Better With You” a few years ago, would have been so much funnier both than T.J. Miller from “Carpoolers,” who plays the role, and than his decently likeable but otherwise pointless character Pete/Plop on the final season of “The Office.” Mainly, this show is too broad or over-the-top to be taken seriously, and it’s not funny enough to justify the suspension of disbelief it demands.

How will it work as a series? Only seven episodes means that there aren’t too many games that need to be played (as opposed to, say, NBC’s “100 Questions,” which debuted around this same time in 2010 and only managed to answer six questions). A self-contained arc could work well, if the show proves to be more creative than its pilot episode suggests it can be.
How long will it last? Seven episodes, if that. FOX has already announced its fall schedule and this one isn’t close to on it. The pilot episode was put online early (that’s how I watched it), which may give it a boost to ensure that all seven episodes air. Admittedly, I may even watch it since it airs during the period between when broadcast network shows end and summer cable shows begin, but I’m not sure I’m make it through all seven.

Pilot grade: D-

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Round Two: Family Tree

Family Tree: Season 1, Episode 2 “Treading the Boards” (B+)

With this second episode, I’m confident that I like this show, though it’s definitely among the odder entries I’ve seen. Michael McKean really is very funny as the show’s patriarch, and Chris O’Dowd serves as a good lead. We didn’t see much of his sister Bea in this installment, but what we did was rather amusing, and I’m sure that she’ll be back to play a bigger part in episodes to come. Tom’s search for information about his grandfather progressed considerably as he discovered that he was not actually Asian, as his father had colorfully commented on, but an actor who had been dressed in makeup. The trip to the theatre was entertaining, partially because of Pete’s antics but also because of the discovery that Tom’s grandfather was part of a horse costume, which of course prompted Pete and Tom to enter a race with said costume. The silliness of why his ancestor’s partnership with his other half dissolved was emphasized appropriately, and I love that the two-legged animal won the race. My favorite part of the episode, however, was something similar to last week but done just as well in this installment. Pete managed to find another winner in Tom’s date, who this time didn’t believe in dinosaurs but instead was obsessed with bones, which Tom seemed to find so peculiar and disconcerting. The length of that scene was incredible, and I hope that such interactions become a regular and consistent part of this show since so far they’ve been wholly worthwhile.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 2, Episode 6 “Andrew “(B+)

We get to see the foul-mouthed, angry side of Selina quite frequently, but it’s much rarer that we see her put on a show and get caught flirting in the process. I heartily enjoyed hearing how everyone, Gary in particular, disliked Andrew and were nervous about what would happen when he and Selina got together. Catherine did a marvelous job analyzing the various horrific stages of their interactions, and her best comment of the dinner was the expression of her belief that her parents might have sex on the table in front of her, which neither of them seemed to mind. It’s constantly entertaining to see Selina’s actions misinterpreted by the press, and to see her try to change her behavior at the table when she realized people were getting the wrong idea. Mike’a accidental reviving of the “Meyer the Liar” catchphrase was an unfortunate return to form for him, but it was hardly surprising. I was pleased to see not one but two “In the Loop” cast members in this episode – Mimi Kennedy as the House Majority Leader, who I feared would be bleeding from the teeth as she was in that film, where Anna Chlumsky played her assistant, and Zach Woods, who American audiences might know better from his recent role on “The Office” as Gabe. He did a great job as Amy’s date to the party who got a cold reception from Dan and who was devastated to learn that Selina didn’t remember him. Jonah’s scenes with him were tremendous as well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 8 “The Crash” (B)

I wouldn’t call this episode a bad hour, but it had a dreamlike feel that made it hard both to keep a linear narrative straight and to keep track of what was real and what wasn’t. It’s so interesting to see how the as-of-yet-unnamed office works with its various personalities thrown together, but I think that last week’s installment with Ted scolding Don for being late and then Don getting Ted drunk was more than effective enough. We also barely saw Pete in this hour, or Roger for that matter, making it all about our primary characters, Peggy and Don. It was no surprise that Stan made a move on Peggy and that she politely rejected him after giving it a moment’s thought, and she seemed truly annoyed by the sight of him having sex with another woman later. Don’s maniacal researching made him look like a madman, and coming home to a robbed house only to pass out was unnerving. For once, Betty got to be the better parent, furious at Don and Megan for leaving the kids home alone, and Henry had to be the one to try to calm things down. It’s frightening to see just how easily the would-be Grandma Draper snuck in, and paired with flashbacks of Don’s childhood, it gave the episode a bizarre mood. I think the present-day (1960s, that is) timeline is fascinating enough, and sticking there with all the drama that already exists is sufficient to make for a great and compelling episode.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 8 “Second Sons” (B+)

This episode was very focused, cutting out Ned’s sons in favor of some royal happenings that are going to seriously confuse the Lannister-Tyrell lineage. Tyrion vowing never to hurt Sansa was sweet even if she didn’t seem to care, and after being embarrassed by Joffrey during the ceremony when he took his stepstool away, he got his revenge by threatening him when Joffrey planned to go have his way with Sansa. Tywin was wise enough to prevent that situation from turning ugly, but Tyrion isn’t exactly currying favor with Joffrey. A drunken Tyrion commenting on Sansa’s long neck was amusing, and his final remark before passing out was much more worthwhile, telling her that he won’t share her bed until she wants him to. I don’t think she meant to be truly unkind with her response, but she has absolutely no clue what’s going on, and didn’t notice that Shae was pleased to see that the sheets hadn’t been used. Margaery had what definitely ranks as her worst encounter, as Cersei threatened to strangle her if she ever calls her sister again. Daenerys’ journey is filled with murderous individuals, and this latest slimy person appears to be swayed by her beauty and wants to align with her rather than kill her as he had initially planned. I’m glad that Stannis freed Devos and that Melisandre didn’t sacrifice her poor would-be victim. I’m hoping for major movement on that front as well as on Arya’s journey with the hound, and I have no idea what to make of Sam’s latest run-in with the White Walker.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 1, Episode 8 “Entangled Bank” (B+)

I look forward to the arrival of a new episode of this show every week, which I now will only make me more disappointed once this show wraps its initial ten-episode order. Yet I’m confident that it will have a long and thoroughly interesting life since it has already been renewed by BBC America for a second season. It’s never that just one thing happens on this show, and one startling realization on a character’s part is always followed by something else. Art’s discovery of Sarah’s existence led him straight to Mrs. S and to Felix, both of whom handled their interrogations well, but of course he put together the fact that Felix was the one who called him. I love that Alison showed up drunk at Felix’s after opting to have sex with Aynsley’s husband (who I knew would have a bigger part than his one scene in last week’s episodes given the choice of actor), and that Sarah decided to bring her right to Mrs. S so that they could show her what was really going on. Helena taking Kira turned out to be nothing to worry about, but Kira getting hit by a car is the last thing Sarah or any of the clones need right now. It was great to hear how Delphine justified sleeping with Cosima, discussing sexuality as a scientific spectrum, and it was interesting to see that, while she did tell Dr. Leekie a good deal of what she found in Cosima’s files, she left out Kira’s existence. Paul is far from done advocating for his new girlfriend Sarah, and getting on Dr. Leekie’s good side while Olivier got himself taken out definitely puts him in an ideal position to help her.

What I’m Watching: Elementary (Season Finale)

Elementary: Season 1, Episodes 23 and 24 “The Woman” and “Heroine” (A-)

Now this was a finale if I’ve ever seen one. Turning the return of Irene and the search for Moriarty into a two-hour event was a brilliant idea, and this double-episode was gripping from start to finish. I did think it was peculiar to cast a known Brit as the American girlfriend of Sherlock Holmes, and it wasn’t long before Natalie Dormer started using her native accent, as this show pulled an enormously creative move and opted to have Moriarty in this universe be a woman, and none other than Irene herself. I suppose it’s not much of a shock considering that Watson’s gender has already been swapped, but it was a major twist and one that was extremely well-handled. The first episode had a foreboding feel to it as Sherlock had to contend with a broken Irene, while the second saw her in an entirely different light, with Watson set to take her down while Sherlock was grappling with this mind-blowing revelation. I’m glad he didn’t actually overdose, but it was so interesting to hear Moriarty explain that she never expected him to get addicted to drugs. Their initial meeting, however staged on her end, was mesmerizing, and it’s rare to see Sherlock so happy to be around someone. This finale, with its bee-naming conclusion, was much more like a cable series season ender, wrapping up its plotlines neatly rather than introducing a major cliffhanger not to be solved until the beginning of next season. While others would dismiss this show as just another CBS procedural, I would classify this as hands-down the best new broadcast network offering of the season. I eagerly look forward to Sherlock’s return in the fall.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Jonny Lee Miller

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What I’m Watching: The Office (Series Finale)

The Office: Season 9, Episode 23 “Finale”

After about 200 episodes, there was a lot riding on this finale. I personally feel, as I believe most do, that the show peaked in its second and third seasons, and had some great installments in season four too. Sticking with the show even through Steve Carell’s departure was both an act of loyalty to the show and to my enthusiasm for TV, and though this season was frustrating, I think it all paid off with this very fitting finale. Fast-forwarding a year was a useful device that didn’t feel manipulative, and it’s just the right amount of time to be able to recap important life events without having to outfit characters differently to show that they have aged. Jim’s status as best man and his excitement about “guten pranken” was touching, and it’s nice to see that, after everything, he and Dwight became genuine friends. Making up a story about how the best man can’t be younger than the groom was an amazing way to introduce a cameo that I was expecting but still surprised me in the moment, which was Carell back as Michael, set up by Dwight for the most triumphant “That’s what she said” ever. Featuring Michael only enough for Pam to exclaim that he pays for two phones so that he can have more pictures of his kids was probably a result of Carell’s availability more than anything, but it was still just the right note. Bringing both Kelly and Ryan back and having them run off together was great, and it’s good that this episode wasn’t drowning in other return appearances. Erin’s parents both showing up was wonderful, and her character makes more sense now that we know that she was spawned from Joan Cusack and Ed Begley Jr. Stanley retiring and Kevin and Toby being fired were eventualities that were well-handled, and it’s great that Pam decided that she and Jim should move to Texas so that he could work with Athleap. Even Andy got redeemed by his owning of the mockery he was subjected to after his breakdown went public. I don’t think that the past few years justified the wait for this finale, and the focus on the documentary this season wasn’t necessary, but this was a tremendous and satisfying way to end this show. I’ve been thinking about this episode a lot, only good things, since it aired on Thursday. Last week, I re-watched a few of the episodes I remembered liking most, including “The Job” and “Dinner Party,” and in lieu of selecting a best episode right now, I’ll plan to do a retrospective with the best-ever episodes sometime in the next few weeks.

Series finale: A-
Season grade: C+
Season MVP: John Krasinski as Jim
Series grade: B
Series MVP: Steve Carell as Michael
Best Season: Season 3
Best Episode: TBA

What I’m Watching: Nashville

Nashville: Season 1, Episode 20 “A Picture from Life’s Other Side” (B-)

With just one episode to go this season, fans of this show can be secure in the fact that it will be back for a second year. Major changes are already underway as of this hour which are sure to have a lasting impact on the show when it returns. Most devastating is Jolene’s death, which serves to contrast the relief that Juliette might have felt by Dante being removed from the equation. I’m unimpressed with how Dante’s arc progressed, that the betrayed Jolene but then turned out just to be in it for the money, making the crucial mistake of starting with one ultimatum and then presenting another when the first was all set to be met. Offering up an SD card in this day and age hardly carries any weight since it's incredibly easy to copy such a thing. Without her mother in her life, Juliette really will be more along, but the tragedy of it all may help her to focus. Whether that brings Avery into her romantic life is another question, and it’s peculiar to see how that has been fast-tracked to the point of almost being ready to happen. Gunnar continues to make Avery-like mistakes in his relationship with Scarlett, and as if saying that he does what he wants with his love life wasn’t bad enough, he had to go get himself arrested and miss Scarlett’s big debut, likely losing her permanently. Tandy’s hostile takeover attempt is mildly intriguing but ultimately irrelevant since she and Lamar are such minor parts of this show, and it’s much more notable that Rayna went to Lamar for help when Teddy tried to block Deacon from being around his daughters. Promising Teddy that Maddie would never learn the truth was an olive branch, but it seems that one of the parents was too stupid to realize that leaving a paternity test lying around the house in a place Maddie would know where to look might lead to her one day finding it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 4, Episode 23 “Games People Play” (B-)

For the penultimate episode of the season, we have a perfectly unremarkable installment that revisits some traits and tendencies we’ve seen before from all of our characters. While it’s true that Phil has always been less present and aware of what it is his kids are capable of since Claire spends much more time at home with them, it’s less funny when Claire explicitly points out that it’s the case and waits for Phil to wake up to the sheer reality of the situation. That said, it was still entertaining to see Haley, Alex, and Luke get along long enough for things to bubble to the surface and for them all to explode with confessions about their unexpected secrets. Gloria’s ability to break into homes without being detected was an amusing minor plot point in an otherwise repetitive storyline about how Manny doesn’t always want his mother to be present in his life. The fact that he forgot to give them the invitation to the game night after they speculated for a while about why they weren’t invited was hardly satisfying, and I think it would do the show some good to focus on positive familial experiences rather than have its characters assume the worst. Cam and Mitchell proved once again that they can be the world’s most oblivious parents, so set on presuming that their daughter is going to mimic their traits that they don’t even notice when she does something genuinely and uncharacteristically nice for someone else. I do hope that the season finale reaffirms the quality of this show.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What I’m Watching: The Mindy Project (Season Finale)

The Mindy Project: Season 1, Episode 24 “Take Me with You” (C+)

This finale is representative of the entire first season of this show – entertaining and appealing but ultimately inconsistent and unsatisfying. The thought of Mindy going to Haiti to be with Casey at any point never made sense, and that’s also because she doesn’t ever act much like an intelligent doctor. Cutting her hair is something she would never do, and I find it very hard to believe that she was compelled to action after, much more believably, trying to get out of going with Casey by saying that she wouldn’t do it unless they were going to get married. Her little moment with Danny at the end of the episode, however long we’ve been waiting for it, also felt forced, and too easily avoided by Mindy’s confirmation that she and Casey were back together. This show would do better to dwell on its funnier little moments, like Mindy practicing Skyping with Casey. Chloe Sevigny’s Christina is proving to be entirely uninteresting, and it would be good if she could get some personality akin to the admittedly excitable if not fully realistic person that is Casey, whose career as a minister doesn’t quite jive with the way he acts when he’s with Mindy, especially in their more intimate moments. I want to like this show as it goes into its second season, but I’m still not feeling convinced that it has a strong sense of where it’s going. I would be gratified to see that problem resolved at least somewhat when season two premieres.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Mindy Kaling

What I’m Watching: New Girl (Season Finale)

New Girl: Season 2, Episode 25 “Elaine’s Big Day” (B+)

This was an entertaining if occasionally ridiculous episode, and I’m very happy that it played out the way it did. I love how Nick acts around Jess now that they’re technically dating, and having Jess’ dad try to get Nick out of the picture was amusing, though not quite as funny as the fact that he made his “Miami Vice” joke twice. Nick being egged on to participate in the prank specifically because Jess accused him of already being involved was a great way of getting them both to realize how they felt abut each other, and it was very sweet that Jess wanted to “uncall” it and that Nick did too. Their relationship is sure to be rocky, but it’s so worthwhile. Schmidt trying to sabotage the wedding because he thought Cece didn’t want it, rather than because of his feelings for her, was great, though unfortunately Elizabeth wasn’t too happy with it. I really hope Schmidt will choose Cece since seeing them together was a blast. Shivrang running away with Taylor Swift was completely random but a fitting end to that particular saga, and a perfect way to write him out of the show. My favorite moments from the episode included the playing of “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and Nick’s unstoppable dancing, and Winston calling out “Marco” while they were in the ducts together. This season had some strong moments and some weaker ones, but overall it was great fun. It has one of the best ensembles on TV, and I’m definitely looking forward to season three.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Jake Johnson as Nick

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What I’m Watching: The Big C (Penultimate Episode)

The Big C: Season 4, Episode 3 “Quality of Death” (B+)

As the end approaches, it’s clear that Cathy wants to go out on her own terms without impacting anyone else in any way. That doesn’t stop her from taking a wild joyride in the car, and she wants to make sure that she’s leaving an impression, shaming the rude orderly after he mocked one of the other hospice patients. Cathy nearly getting strangled by her new friend and realizing that she wasn’t ready to die was emotional, but nothing was more powerful than the sight of Dr. Sherman showing up and having a nice heart-to-heart with Cathy, which was predictably but still devastatingly revealed to be a hallucination since Dr. Sherman had in fact died a week earlier. Showing up to wear her own dress at the fashion show was quite a triumph, and I suspect that may be the last we’ll see of Cathy up and about and doing well. Adam firing Amber was a satisfying moment since she’s been nothing but irritating, and it did serve to shock Paul back into action after he froze following Cathy’s admission to hospice. Seeing them physically fight, with Adam unsurprisingly ending up on top, was worrisome, but it’s clear that they’re just dealing with Cathy’s condition in their own different ways. Sean having second thoughts about his kidney transplant because of the many risks was expected, and I have a feeling that he’ll go through with it because he needs to feel like he contributed somehow. Next week’s finale is sure to be memorable, and, though it may be on her own terms, Cathy isn’t likely to have a happy ending.

What I’m Watching: Rectify

Rectify: Season 1, Episode 5 “Drip, Drip” (B+)

This episode started out from an odd perspective, seeing Daniel watch his neighbor bash his head into his cell door many times, and then following him on a hypnotic journey broken by the sight of that flying red balloon. Daniel asking his companion “Are you real?” was a haunting way to close off that part of the episode and get back to the rest of our characters. Tawney telling Ted that Daniel was going to be saved could not have gone worse, and it helped to unleash a truly ugly side of Ted that hadn’t quite reared its head before. Going over to visit Amantha and Janet expressly to break the news about his baptism to them was mean-spirited, and it’s clear that Amantha and Ted hate each other equally. Ted deserves full blame for egging Daniel on and speaking harshly to him in the episode’s final scene, and I do hope that Daniel didn’t go too far and that he didn’t break Ted’s neck. The baptism scene was extraordinarily powerful, with the joyous refrain of “Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down” interspersed with dramatic, contemplative silence as Daniel underwent his transformative experience. Daniel ending up in front of the school looking lost was intense, and lashing out at Amantha and telling her to stop living her life for him was an unexpected moment of visible passion from a man who tends to keep his feelings bottled up inside. Asking if he could kiss Tawney was definitely a mistake, but at least he asked rather than just tried it.

What I’m Watching: Revolution

Revolution: Season 1, Episode 17 “The Longest Day” (F)

This show’s use of flashbacks needs serious work, since everything contained within this hour doesn’t actually tell us anything new about the strained relationship between Miles and Rachel. I was amused by Aaron’s response to Rachel being physically wounded, telling her that he didn’t want to hear it and trying to force her to move anyway. Healing her was pretty formidable, but the fact that it spawned an entirely two-faced monster who claimed not to care about helping people at all was appalling and unconvincing. Tom shifted back to the coldhearted tyrant he used to be at the beginning of the episode when he tried to bully Jason into shooting him, and then abruptly morphed back into the more accessible and sensitive person he seems to occasionally be, making him even more inconsistent than ever before. I suppose that Charlie isn’t invincible since Danny did go ahead and get himself killed, but it’s still far from suspenseful to see her life put in jeopardy since she’s obviously not going to die. Monroe capturing Nora is a much bigger problem, especially considering the fact that he opted to have one of his most loyal deputies (and one of the show’s best actors, Mark Pellegrino) taken out because he thought that he must have been planning again him. Foster may be set to surrender, but Monroe is unraveling at an alarming rate after losing Emma and now Jeremy, and I suspect he won’t have the upper hand for long. Whether Georgia will benefit from that is a separate question.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What I’m Watching: Defiance

Defiance: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Serpent’s Egg” (C)

What’s the point of having both the lawkeeper and the mayor accompany a prisoner during transport if they’re going to allow her to pick the lock to her handcuffs not once but twice during the trip? They also did a terrible job vetting their passengers, since only the two clueless husbands turned out to be on the side of the good guys. Olfin waited a while to play her hand, and when the prisoner switches sides, you know you’ve come across someone truly irritating. It appears that Olfin won’t suffer any legal consequences for her illegal act, of course, and now she’s gunning for Amanda, who is now going to have to deal with external pressure in addition to the internal stress she already has. Irisa was awfully quick to abduct and begin torturing the Castithan she remembered from her childhood, and chaining Tommy to the radiator seemed like an ill-conceived plan with not much long-term thinking involved. Letting him go because it would deprive him of the chance to have some sort of purpose was an intriguing solution, and it was jarring to see Nolan show up in savior mode in the flashback, exemplified kindheartedness and warmth that we haven’t seen much from him recently. It’s about time Irisa and Tommy got together, and I suspect their romance, while sure to be complicated, will help Irisa become more okay with the idea of being in Defiance. Unsurprisingly, this show will be back for a second season, which is good news, but disheartening considering that this fare gets deemed more worthwhile than the far superior “Alphas.”

Pilot Review: Family Tree

Family Tree (HBO)
Premiered May 12 at 10:30pm

British humor is something that appeals to some and does nothing for others, and, as presented here from co-creator Jim Piddock fused with the maniacal mind of American auteur Christopher Guest, it’s quite distinctive. Guest has created excellent mockumentaries with “For Your Consideration,” “A Mighty Wind,” and others, and that tactic is still at work here in this new HBO original series. It’s reminiscent in many ways of past efforts by the network to bring offbeat British humor to American audiences, “Life’s Too Short” and “Extras,” and while this one is also airing on BBC Two just like those two, new installments will screen on both networks simultaneously rather than arriving on HBO several weeks or months after airing in England. Chris O’Dowd, who recently wrapped on arc on one of HBO’s biggest hits, “Girls,” is a far more intelligent and sympathetic protagonist than Warwick Davis’s self-portrayal or Ricky Gervais’ Andy Millman, and it’s clear that he’s the one who will be giving the looks of shock to the camera rather than those around him. His reaction to the fact that his date thinks dinosaurs still exist was priceless, and I love just how long she went on justifying her claim. Tom Bennett’s Pete is a great character, so proud of the fact that he continues to work at the zoo, and I think his friendship with O’Dowd’s Tom will be one of the show’s strongest assets. The very definitely American Michael McKean should prove entertaining as patriarch Keith, and I heartily enjoyed Nina Conti’s introduction to Bea, whose life as a ventriloquist makes her job at the bank especially difficult. Discovering that his photographer great-grandfather was apparently Chinese puts this comedy into a very strange but appealing context, and I’m eager to see what becomes of this quirky show.

How will it work as a series? First and foremost, it’s a comedy, with Tom having misadventures thanks to the questionable guidance of those he associates himself with, and Bea presumably having her own hi-jinks due to her eccentric coping mechanism. But having the backdrop of Tom’s search for answers about his lineage should anchor this show in a great way, keeping its tone occasionally serious and making a definite impression on its viewers.
How long will it last? It’s impossible to say with these international co-productions, but the starting numbers were not great, especially after “Game of Thrones” and “Veep,” both of which have already been renewed for next year. “Life’s Too Short” is getting a send-off special, while “Extras” aired just thirteen installments total. I think HBO might be enthusiastic about this one, but I wouldn’t expect more than two seasons at the very most.

Pilot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 2, Episode 5 “Helsinki” (B+)

This Europe song really isn’t going away, and it’s great to have it continue without the messy mastermind that is Mike to manage the crisis, instead putting a clueless Dan in the hot seat. The Finnish Prime Minister was unfriendly enough to Selina, and to have her husband, played by recognizable Canadian actor Dave Foley, grope Selina’s breast made for quite an interesting visit. It’s no surprise that Gary was taught the wrong word for “bagman,” an unimpressive moniker even in its native language, and I enjoyed watching him grapple with the fact that the bag Selina got him has fewer pockets than the one he used to have, something about which Selina was far from apologetic. Seeing snippets of Sue in her home life was jarring and entertaining, and her bizarre sleep schedule was amusing as well. Mike calling Jonah in because he couldn’t handle the numbers was great, and I like that Kent just ignores the presidential liaison’s presence altogether. The revelation that POTUS knew about the spy hostage and expressly told Selina that it wasn’t true is big news, and I have a feeling that she’s going to try to milk this maltreatment for a while. Whether that will get her anywhere is another question, though bringing her back to her home country should help considerably with ensuring that her messages don’t come across in the wrong way quite as frequently as she managed while she was in Finland with a culture that definitely didn’t love her.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 6, Episode 7 “Man with a Plan” (A-)

I had suspected that those from what was once known as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce would be resistant to Don presenting them so bluntly with a merger, but things were actually much more systematic in a fantastic way. Some levels worked together quite well while others didn’t, and one of the highlights was Roger so cheerfully firing Burt Petersen for the second time. Ted opting to start the meeting without Don there was a terrific start to their working relationship, Don getting Ted drunk was a great second act, and leaving Pete behind when he left to deal with his ailing mother was a certifiable act of teamwork that attests to the fact that, different methodologies aside, they are quite the duo. Don’s home life in this hour was hypnotic, and at times I felt like I was watching an episode of “Girls” with Don taking on the role of Adam, who felt it necessary to debase the woman he was currently with despite her lack of interest in playing along. That Sylvia was bored with not being allowed to do anything rather than horrified is telling, and seeing Don shift from controlling to begging was startling. Megan is so far removed from his attention at this point that I see that relationship going down the drain soon. I’m glad that Bob got something worthwhile to do and earned himself the right to keep his job, thanks to a very subtle and effective good word from Joan. Incorporating the second Kennedy’s assassination into the final moments was a strong way to end, and this show really does know how to showcase its history.

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 1, Episode 7 “Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner” (A-)

The plotline on this show is moving forward in an extraordinary way, and it’s difficult not to get caught up in the excitement. It fits with the general vibe of this show that Neolution would also be a club where Olivier based his business, and we got definite confirmation that Olivier is linked to Dr. Leekie, and both are fully aware of what it is that they’re monitoring. Paul risking his own life to warn Sarah that Olivier knew that she wasn’t Beth was unexpected, and it’s interesting to see that, much to Felix’s disgust, they’ve developed an authentic romantic connection which at first was based on lying on both their parts. Olivier’s tail was peculiar at best, but Helena cutting it off, which was brutal to watch, made it worthwhile for the story’s sake. Helena is such a fascinating, off-the-rails character, so into food and convinced that she’s the original, but mysteriously awed by Sarah. Mrs. S revealing that she was told to hide Sarah as a child is big news since it means this thing goes back a long time, but it’s a productive development because it demonstrates that she is once again on Sarah’s side. Cosima making a move on Delphine wasn’t a surprise, but her departure signals that she too may be developing feelings for the person she’s supposed to be monitoring. The most mind-blowing news is that Sarah’s fingerprints just came up in the police database, and everything’s about to get completely crazy in the most awesome way.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (B+)

I’m so impressed that two of this show’s most unlikely relationships, both of which started out filled with animosity and hatred, are now coming to fruition in excellent, but highly different, ways that make them extraordinarily compelling. The first is Brianne and Jamie, who parted ways on a diplomatic and honor-filled note. Jamie using the reputation of the Lannister family name to compel his captors to return for Brianne was great, and it was incredible that he jumped in to help Brianne fend off the bear and managed to negotiate taking her with him. I can’t wait until they arrive in King’s Landing since a handful of people there are going to be mighty shocked. Ygritte is turning out to be a marvelous companion for Jon, routinely mocking him and then getting serious when he expressed his lack of conviction in the likelihood of their siege proving victorious. Daenerys is on the warpath to free slaves, and let’s hope that her desire to punish slave masters doesn’t distract from her ascension to the kingdom. I can’t comprehend why Theon must suffer such terrible things over and over again, and would like to see him come out of it a little less bruised and neutered than he is at the moment. The marriage conversations between Margaery and Sansa, and Tyrion and Shae, proved truly enlightening and provided an unexpected insight into the mindset of those great and complicated characters. Tywin talking down to Joffrey served as one of the episode’s best and most impactful scenes.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What I’m Watching: Vegas (Series Finale)

Vegas: Season 1, Episode 21 “Sons of Nevada” (B-)

It was announced before this episode even aired that this series wouldn’t be returning for a second season, something any loyal or passing viewer has known since this show got sentenced to certain death on Friday nights. Unfortunately, this final installment doesn’t make a great case for keeping it alive, mainly because it resolves things in a way that’s open-ended enough to be clever but still ties up most of the loose ends. Vincent and Ralph teaming up to take down Gainsley, even hiring Jones to help them infiltrate his operation with his calm, creepy, cookie-cooking demeanor, was a cool idea hatched in last week’s episode but hardly a productive or believable one as it played out here. Vincent categorizing the law as overly complicated due to the familial relations in the Las Vegas Sherriff’s department is completely accurate, and it’s one of the problems that has plagued this show since it started. This installment brought back the cowboy mentality, with Jack tipping his hat in solemn fashion after being rebuffed by Mia, who predictably slept with the determined Tommy. Mia and Jack were never going to work, but it was a harsh way for it to end considering Jack was gleefully ready to pop the question. Dixon and Yvonne seem to be headed for somewhere happier, while Ralph and Katherine still haven’t quite recognized their shared feelings for each other. This show was always fun to watch even if it was never excellent, and though I’m not surprised, I am sad to see it go.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Sarah Jones as Mia

What I'm Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 1, Episode 22 "Risk Management" (B+)

I didn't enjoy this episode quite as much as the one before it mainly because there was less happening and fewer consequential characters were involved. The deduction that it was the wife who actually witnessed the sister's murder and therefore framed an innocent man to allow her husband some murderous piece of mind was interesting, but it seems like too much of a game from Moriarty rather than something truly significant. I strongly suspected that Irene would be revealed to be alive by episode's end because I remembered reading that "Game of Thrones" actress Natalie Dormer was slated to appear in three episodes this season and the clock was ticking, but it was still startling to see Sherlock incapacitated by shock upon seeing her alive in front of him. That changes things in a big way, and it makes the two-hour season finale an intriguing event which will likely set things right for the disturbed police consultant but also may signal major transformations for the show's current format. It’s clear that Watson isn’t going anywhere, and Gregson’s efforts to get her to go to Florida just serve to fortify her commitment to sticking around. Even if she does decide to depart in the finale to help Gregson’s friend, she’ll be back soon enough, and Sherlock will feel her absence while she’s gone. I’m hopeful that the eventual appearance of Moriarty, or the continuation of his shadowy storyline, won’t disappoint, and that he’ll prove a fitting nemesis for Sherlock who isn’t the cause of his undoing.

What I'm Watching: Person of Interest (Season Finale)

Person of Interest: Season 2, Episode 22 "God Mode" (A-)

This season ended on a fantastically exciting note, involving more characters than ever before in its final hours and delivering on all fronts. I'd like to express my enthusiasm for the pairing of Reese and Shaw since I think they make a terrific team now that she's relaxed a bit, and they're rather effective together. Reese and Root both getting messages from the Machine and speaking directly to it in a way that Finch rarely does was cool, and the flashbacks were filtered in productively to fill in some blanks that we assumed but never knew. Seeing Nathan's demise was almost as heartbreaking as Finch's decision to let Arlene think that he too had been killed in the past, confirming exactly how Finch got that walking impediment and how he changed his tune about the numbers deemed irrelevant by the Machine. Root's devastation upon finding the Machine impenetrable was well-conveyed, and that final moment with the phone ringing was superbly orchestrated. She’s a true believer, and her passion is likely to keep her involved in the show’s storyline, something I wholeheartedly support since I love Amy Acker. After Hersh ended up the last man standing, it's not clear what's going to happen next and now the modus operandi of our friends will be altered. With Fusco fully absent and Carter made all too aware of her predicament, she made a bold choice to commit murder and save Elias, and I can't wait to see how it plays out. This year was great, and it's left me quite eager for season three.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Sarah Shahi as Shaw

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What I'm Watching: The Office (Penultimate Episode)

The Office: Season 9, Episode 22 "A.A.R.M." (B-)

This episode feels a lot like the one that came before it, celebrating the nostalgia that is inevitably tied to nine years of a show and harping on sentimental accomplishments of its most prolific characters. I'd like to start by acknowledging the futility of Andy's plotline, which was in this episode wholly embarrassing and pointless. It also featured an unproductive use of guest star Jessica St. Clair, who was much better this past week as Gary's irritating girlfriend Dana on "Veep." I don't know what fate awaits Andy, but a career in show business clearly isn't it, and I wish no more time would be wasted on it. We've already moved past the troubles in Jim and Pam's relationship as the other half of the couple reaches out to the fourth wall to involve the documentary crew in his effort to convince Pam of his enduring loyalty. Jim advising Dwight on what to do about Angela was refreshingly honest and sweet, and, while I'm sure it's going to be eventful, it's great to see them finally together, and to find out that Phillip is in fact a Schrute! The search for the assistant to the assistant to the regional manager and its predestined conclusion was entertaining, and Jim and Dwight really do know how to have fun together. Kevin hating on Angela's baby and Darryl returning to the office were less memorable, and I sincerely hope that this show will go out on a high note that will remind viewers like me why we stuck around this long.

What I’m Watching: Nashville

Nashville: Season 1, Episode 19 “Why Don’t You Love Me” (B-)

I’d like to start by addressing one of the most ultimately irrelevant storylines on this show, which is Coleman and his increasingly tangential relation to the greater Nashville universe. After being approached by Tandy in an effort to get him to whip Teddy into shape, he decided that resigning one mere month after being appointed to his prestigious position was the appropriate power play. One would think that he could use a steady paycheck, but apparently making absurd life decisions for no reason is much more productive. It’s astonishing that Avery and Gunnar are pretty much switching roles, as the formerly cruel and selfish Avery doesn’t take the opportunity to bed a country superstar after stepping in as her lead guitarist during her show, and Gunnar can’t be bothered to pay any attention to Scarlett while simultaneously pushing a clueless Will away. It doesn’t seem that Scarlett and Gunnar are going to make it, and I can only hope that she doesn’t continue to subject herself to mistreatment. Though Teddy is concerned about Maddie’s paternity being revealed, he did a great job of trying to get back in his daughter’s good graces, while Rayna is reveling in playing house with an infatuated Deacon. After an extraordinarily self-destructive and embarrassing episode, Juliette is going to hit rock bottom thanks to whatever miserable scheme Dante has in store for her. I don’t think things could get any worse, and I’m curious to see what surprises the final two episodes of this show will bring as the show heads for an uncertain fate with a second season renewal still pending.