Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 1, Episode 11 “Chapter Eleven” (B+)

It’s interesting to see Jane take on a writing gig for a soap opera and have her get criticized for not being ridiculous enough when this show is itself a soap opera and manages not to be over-the-top in a preposterous way. It’s funny that the head writer on Rogelio’s show, portrayed by Judy Reyes of “Scrubs” fame, actually embodies the zaniest, soapiest plotline yet, which is that Jane has been kept on as a writer because she’s having an affair with Rogelio’s assistant and I guess they’re conspiring to get Rogelio fired or something of the sort. Jane has clearly become a great teacher in the short time that she’s been at the school, and she’s always had a good sense about people, writing apology letters from her mother to her grandmother to ensure that they wouldn’t let petty arguments get in the way of a lasting relationship. It was entertaining to see Xiomara try to resist Rogelio’s passionate advances, and sweet that he said that he would wait for her no matter how long it would take. Alba couldn’t keep the fact that she heard Xiomara’s vow of chastity a secret, but the truth coming out underlined that Xiomara being a bit more discerning might be a smart idea. Rafael seems pretty well-intentioned too, set on taking good care of Jane while two other men with an axe to grind with him, Lachlan and Michael, seem a bit less honorable in their efforts to win back the women in their lives.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What I’m Watching: Episodes

Episodes: Season 4, Episode 3 (B+)

I have to start this review by saying that I am a huge fan of Andrea Savage, who plays Helen Bash. I didn’t know her before episode two of this season, and I just had the opportunity to see her in a scene-stealing role in the very funny Sundance comedy “Sleeping with Other People.” She’s terrific in it, and I think she’s a fantastic fit for this show too. She handled the terrible pitch from Merc very well, and I like that, even though this means that Carol has now slept with three consecutive bosses, it didn’t feel the same this time, since they had a romantic seduction that caught Carol by surprise since she had no idea that Helen was a lesbian. I’m eager to see where that relationship goes, though it will probably create more trouble than anything. Matt taking Beverly to the free expo was a thoroughly entertaining disaster, and the mess that Beverly came home to was even worse, as Sean’s old colleague seems to have a pretty good case that their new script was actually co-written by him. I enjoyed Matt’s plotline best since we rarely get to see much of Diane, and here we got to see her yell at him for teaching their children lewd art and then get tempted into putting on the rubber dress. Sleeping with Matt is a terrible idea, but it’s going to make things all the more enticing as, for once, Matt didn’t sleep with someone else’s wife but instead may be falling for someone he hasn’t cared about in a long time. I can’t wait to hear what Sean and Beverly have to say about it.

What I’m Watching: House of Lies

House of Lies: Season 4, Episode 3 “Entropy is Contagious” (B+)

Well, this was a rocky episode in the best kind of way. The most explosive part of it unquestionably involved Doug. Sarah trying to tempt him into sex with his mint-condition action figures was among the less crazy things she’s done, but finding out about her nude stalking arrest record was deeply disconcerting. The fact that Clyde was trying to help Doug out by encouraging him not to send Sarah an absinthe-inspired text message telling her that she was nuts emphasized just how bad an idea it was, and that was definitely the case. Draining his bank accounts and acting out her frustration on Doug’s action figures is worrisome to be sure, though it seems like at least Doug has a backup option at the office with Kelsey. She sure does not like Clyde, but I’m glad they’ll be working together on this Uber for doctors idea. Marty and Jeannie fighting is a big joke that Clyde always makes, but it managed to lose them the account when Jeannie went against Marty in the middle of a meeting and tried to pitch her own idea. Malcolm got Marty pretty testy in his home life, and Roscoe had an outburst that shows us that the kid he used to be is completely gone. Jeremiah’s speech was strong, but it’s clear that Marty has lost control of all aspects of his life. On another note, I was thrilled to see Mary McCormack in her guest spot as someone who definitely did not see the value in acquiring Kahn and Associates.

Take Three: Togetherness

Togetherness: Season 1, Episode 3 “Insanity” (B+)

I like that this show has a certain way about it, where Michelle going to a bar on a night alone doesn’t mean she’s going to cheat on Brett and where Alex making awkward conversation is just that, and all that will come of his pretending to be a movie star is that he’ll have to lie to an old woman. I’m glad that it’s agreed that Tina is crazy, but the truth is that she knows how to get what she wants. She snuck Alex into the premiere party, got him to meet the producer he wanted to meet, got him to agree to come to Texas to help her move her stuff, and snagged a lucky night with the producer. Alex’s ability to make boring conversation is impressive, and I like that he and Brett got to have a bonding rock-out session at the end of the episode. Brett clearing the air with the director didn’t go so well, but it was great to see him find his niche by recording the sound of a bird with confused passersby staring at him on the street. Michelle had quite a night, enjoying her time with a few smoking teenagers and then meeting a nice divorced guy who might just be onto something with this charter school enthusiasm. I enjoyed seeing Peter Gallagher as Larry, and the best part of his whole appearance was Alex’s initial comment: “He has more hair on his eyebrows than I have on my head.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What I’m Watching: Girls

Girls: Season 4, Episode 3 “Female Author” (B+)

This show is finding a good way of balancing Hannah being in Iowa and the rest of the characters being in New York, illustrated well with this episode. I thought that Skype would be the only way that we would see Jessa during this half-hour, but it turned out that she actually had the strongest storyline for the first time in a while. She and Adam seemed to have formed a positive relationship, and then she had to go and, to be crude, literally piss on it. I like that, after Ray’s lecture, Adam was sensible enough to make the smart decision and tell Jessa that she is a bad influence. Adam is maturing even more now that he’s not with Hannah, and it’s a shame since she could use him more than ever. Marnie insisting that she wasn’t the mistress in this situation was entertaining but unsurprising, and kudos to her for finally standing up for herself and speaking her mind to Desi. For once, she didn’t sound like the selfish one, and every attempt he made to placate her and tell her that he was right made her sound even more reasonable. Shoshanna’s interview went extremely well, and of course she had to go and mess up what could have been an incredible opportunity by turning down the job on the spot and insulting her interviewer by saying that it was just a rehearsal. And then there’s Hannah, who is having a blast in Iowa and felt it necessary to go around and skewer each of her coworkers in a way that can’t possibly be undone. I’m sure class is going to be fun from now on.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 5, Episode 3 “The Two Lisas” (B+)

This was a pretty transformative episode that had a few big blowups that, as usual, get taken in much more stride than they would in a normal situation. The Gallagher family war sponsored by Frank against the two lesbian Lisas and executed by his children is going decently so far thanks to the successful overnight de-gentrification of the neighborhood, and I’m glad to see that one of the Lisas is not going to be intimidated, which should bring those two characters into greater focus. Debs’ party wasn’t particularly great, even with Milk of the Gods as the drink of choice, and though I thought at first that she tricked Matty into thinking they had sex, it seemed like they actually did. Only on this show would Debs be upset about raping someone and have her brother trying to defend it by saying that many guy would be lucky to be raped by her. Carl’s nickname was pretty legendary, and I do wonder how long this wheelchair-bound stage will last since he’s not managing to get into as much trouble. Fiona reacted pretty competitively to the news that her rocker romancer had a live-in girlfriend, and she may have just found herself a good musician after all. Frank trading his daughter for alcohol creation supplies was typically heartless, and it’s going to be hard to appeal to either of the main women in his life now that he chewed both Sammi and Sheila out pretty cruelly. The house exploding was a perfect literal complement to everything that’s been boiling over recently.

What I’m Watching: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 4 (B+)

When something gets stirred up on this show, it just keeps on building until it boils over and explodes. We’re still talking about Edith’s aggressive godmotherhood, Mary’s impending engagement to any one of her suitors, Violet is spending more time with her Russian would-be beau, Mrs. Patmore is upset about her nephew not being honored in the war memorial, the death of the rapist valet isn’t going away, and Tom’s dear friend is all about angering Robert as much as she possibly can. More news on what may have happened to Michael isn’t promising, and Edith is going to spiral downwards with nothing positive to hold on to in her life. Mary is getting annoying again, weighing her options so publicly with each of the men who want her and seemingly intent on never deciding. It’s unfortunate to see Carson and Mrs. Hughes get such delight from tormenting Mosley by insisting upon treating him as the first footman, and it’s a good thing that he’s the one being given all the works since Thomas is obviously working out some more severe personal problems. Anna being seen in London does not bode well, even if Bates didn’t have anything to do with the murder. Mrs. Hughes and Anna should really come clean with Carson since, though he wouldn’t want to tell a lie, he would be a good ally for them. Robert calling up Daisy and Mrs. Patmore to discuss her teacher’s negative influences was embarrassing, and Violet’s delight at the whole thing was extremely amusing. I like the fact that Isobel got an unexpectedly romantic proposal, since she is probably the show’s purest character and it’s good to see her earn some deserving attention and affection from someone else.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What I’m Watching: Galavant (Season Finale)

Galavant: Season 1, Episodes 7 and 8 “My Cousin Izzy” and “It’s All in the Executions” (C+)

It’s not often that shows address the end of their seasons directly in song. I’m not sure that these episodes were any worse than the six that came before them, but I did get the sense that they were emphasizing ridiculousness rather than actually getting anywhere. This has been an interesting and unique experience, if nothing else, and I still have “Come back for our next show” permanently stuck in my head. The story didn’t go where I expected, certainly, which I guess says something, and that does make it creative at the very least. Madalena is the opposite of what a princess would usually be, and she’s turned out to be infinitely more manipulative than before. Killing the king’s brother after getting both Galvant and Richard to leave was shrewd, and now she and Gareth will be able to rule the kingdom with just as much fervor as Richard but perhaps a bit more intelligently. Galavant kissing Isabella was a long time coming, though now they’re separated, and, puzzlingly, she’s imprisoned in a weird small house built by her tiny cousin. The music on this show was what made it most fun, and I also think that the cast, particularly Joshua Sasse (Galavant), Karen David (Isabella), and Timothy Omundson (Richard), were terrific. I’m not sure that this needs to come back for a second season and I certainly wouldn’t miss it, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this wacky, odd medieval musical comedy either. I don’t think its chances look good, but who knows?

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Timothy Omundson

What I’m Watching: Banshee

Banshee: Season 3, Episode 3 “A Fixer of Sorts” (B+)

For a man who stole someone’s identity, the fake Lucas doesn’t have much luck staying hidden from people who want to kill him. I could not be more thrilled about the introduction of Denis O’Hare as an FBI Internal Affairs agent who know full well that Lucas is not who he says he is. Showing up with a gun and taking Lucas into custody probably wasn’t the smartest idea, and it almost got him killed. As tends to be the case, assumed identities aren’t always better than the original ones, and the real Lucas Hood once again became a problem for his new self. It was only fitting that Lucas pushed the employer of the man who he decapitated under a truck so that he could suffer a similarly brutal and bloody end, though there isn’t really another kind on this show. Nola went out in an unforgettable fashion, fighting to the last moment before suffering what looked to be an enormously painful death. I’m sad to see her go since she was a terrific character, but she made the mistake of charging in to kill Kai without the brute force possessed by her friend Clayton. It was hilarious and exciting to see Job and Sugar getting things done in the field together, and at least they’re both making smart choices while the other two members of their team make unwise ones. The most jarring part of the episode was the look on Siobhan’s face when Lucas walked in, and he is going to be completely honest to get himself out of this one, which is still sure to leave things dramatically changed.

Round Two: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 1, Episode 2 “Mentally Divergent” (B+)

I’m on board after a great second installment of this show, which affirmed the fact that this series is well worth watching. I was particularly impressed with the fact that plot developments like Cole being sent to North Korea in 2006 rather than Philadelphia in 2015 were not embellished or dwelled on for too long and instead just used as a jumping-off point for the fact that this time travel business is not stable. It’s good that they could easily just slingshot him to the right time, and that ultimately made it much simpler for Cassandra to track him down. It does seem that their fates are permanently liked, and I can’t imagine that Cole is going to disappear anytime soon. It was very worthwhile getting to know Jennifer, seeing that she’s not completely crazy but that she does have some problems. She and Cole are actually on remarkably similar levels, and I’m so curious to see what happens next with Jennifer. Kudos to the casting team for bringing Tom Noonan on board as the major villain who calmly threatened Cassandra while she was standing over her dead friend’s body and then came for Jennifer. The fact that he knows who Cole is complicates things, and it’s clear that there is an extraordinary web of bad things that come together in different times to arrange events for the outbreak of this virus, and I am eager to see where this show goes since it’s doing a terrific job so far of turning this concept into a series.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Take Three: Babylon

Babylon: Season 1, Episode 3 (A-)

This episode really sealed the deal for me, hoping that this series will return for a much longer if typically British-in-length run. I’ll get to the ending in due time, but I first want to start by noting that the music in the show is great, infrequent but appropriate in nature. There was the expected humor in this episode, like someone calling the police because of a Facebook post right before a real bomber calling but having his reference to Hegel mistaken for “Hey girl.” Charlie getting stopped for shoplifting – and shoplifting shampoo, at that – was entertaining, and fortunately it didn’t get any more serious than him freaking out and worrying about getting cut of the loop. Liz telling Finn that he needed to get in line or resign sent him reeling, though that’s all going to change now as a result of the episode-ending events definitely change that. Richard admitting to an extramarital affair seemed to negate the tensions between them that had arisen as a result of the ultimatum from last week, but that confession spiraled out of control as Richard eventually revealed that it wasn’t just one affair. Liz was truly angry at him for disappointing her and for being so stupid, and that turned the episode incredibly serious towards its end, accompanied by Warwick mindlessly playing video games and Robbie’s video reporter friend getting canned. Nothing can match the dramatic and shocking impact of Richard stepping off a ledge to fall to his death – a startlingly serious and irreversible decision that, at the very least, is going to be near impossible for Liz to spin.

What I’m Watching: Parenthood (Penultimate Episode)

Parenthood: Season 6, Episode 12 “We Made It Through the Night” (B+)

It’s sad to think that this show is so close to being over, but, truth be told, it’s lasted a solid hundred episodes and covered a decent amount of ground. I like where everything is headed, and the fact that Zeek didn’t die before the end of this episode means that everyone should have a relatively happy ending. I love that Sarah accidentally summoned her entire family to the hospital for false contractions with a confusing text, and that Hank’s efforts to calm his pregnant stepdaughter-to-be in the car failed miserably. Hank getting married at a volcano was never going to happen, but I like that they’re going to do something small in Berkeley to make sure that Zeek can be there and fully present in it. Zeek telling his kids that he’s not going to have the surgery was emotional enough without the actual words having to be said on screen, and it’s good to see the whole family rallying to support her rather than arguing among themselves about what course of care is best for the patriarch. The Luncheonette business was resolved after an unfortunate revelation that threatened to ruin it all and get Jasmine and Adam in plenty of trouble. It was fun to see Adam decide to be a French chef mentor for Edgar, simultaneously debunking Max’s statistic about autistic people getting jobs. Julia and Joel fighting again was discouraging, but at least they were good enough to go into the car to do it so that they wouldn’t upset Victor. The scene with Sarah playing guitar and singing with Amber was a nice treat, and hopefully we’ll have similarly sentimental moments in the series finale later this week.

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 3, Episode 11 “The Illustrious Client” (B-)

Well, this all moved a bit fast. At the end of last week’s episode was the reveal that Kitty’s abductor had come to New York, and now the victims of that kidnapper and murderer have been freed, but it turns out that someone else was the man who took Kitty, and he’s in New York too! I’m fully behind the casting of Stuart Townsend, who I thought was great on ABC’s very short-lived “Night Stalker,” as that very man, but I would think that we could have gotten to know him for a while as Watson’s new employer before Kitty pegged him by his voice form a phone call and news clip. Interestingly, his situation reminds me of Jonny Lee Miller’s character in the fifth season of “Dexter,” where he was a public figure secretly engaging in brutal depravity. I think this show is more than capable of sustaining itself without overambitious arcs, though the season one plotline with Irene and Moriarty paid off monumentally. Kitty transformed in a big way in this hour, stopping by a witness’ home to intimidate her and do enough damage to get her plush consulting gig with the NYPD suspended. I’m sure that Sherlock and Watson will advocate on her behalf, but things are not looking good, and the timing is especially bad considering the news about Kitty’s real abductor being in New York and on the loose. I don’t think this will last too long, but I hope that it will play out slightly more smoothly than I found this hour.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pilot Review: Backstrom

Backstrom (FOX)
Premiered January 22 at 8pm

I feel like I saw the trailer for this show so long ago (and I did, back in the fall), and my excitement for it then was about comparable with my enthusiasm for it now, which was looking listings and realizing that it was starting. I thought Rainn Wilson was a terrific part of “The Office” specifically because he wasn’t the lead character, and playing someone so over the top like Dwight fit in the format of a comedy series. This must the thousandth police drama to premiere featuring an irreverent detective at the helm whose motives and methods make sense to no one yet who miraculously manages to outsmart and outperform everyone else on his team. Wilson does give his all to the role, but it’s a lamentable situation. It’s also disappointing to see Dennis Haysbert, once the great presidential candidate on “24,” in a thankless cop role that won’t allow him much creativity or gravitas at all. This pilot didn’t include anything particularly interesting, as each one of Backstrom’s eccentricities failed to land and instead fell flat. While his partner Nicole may be relatively intelligent, she’s the only mildly intriguing personality in the whole bunch. I don’t know who decided to let Kristoffer Polaha back on television after his horrific performances in “Made in Jersey,” “Ringer,” and so many shows before that, and I’m least entertained by his out-of-place intellectual forensic tech. I don’t think I was ever going to watch this show, but Wilson’s involvement made me think that it might be a bit worthwhile, and this debut installment proved that wholly wrong.

How will it work as a series? This show is based on a book series, and as if there weren’t enough cop plotlines that could be explored, there’s an actual set of stories that could be pulled directly to create scripts. I think this pilot was likely a fitting preview of what the show will be like, which for me is not promising.
How long will it last? The ratings for the pilot weren’t bad, but they’re not terrific by FOX’s standards. Doing better than the short-lived “Rake” did last year in the same timeslot is hardly a badge of honor. I don’t think TV is looking for the next great brilliant detective procedural, and a short midseason life is all this should get.

Pilot review: D-

What I’m Watching: Justified (Season Premiere)

Justified: Season 6, Episode 1 “Fate’s Right Hand” (B+)

I had the chance to watch this premiere a few weeks early thanks to a press kit sent to me by FX, and I opted not to flip through the pages of the kit detailing the many guest stars in the show’s final season before watching so that I could instead be surprised by fresh faces. The only notable new actor in this premiere is Garret Dillahunt from “Raising Hope,” who brings his signature brand of uncertain creepiness to a bearded buyer who shows up to purchase Raylan’s land with cash in hand and a suspicious Raylan eager to send him on his way. While I’m sure there are many talented performers who will show up over the course of the season, it seems like this final stretch is going to be much more about the characters we already know and love. Opening with Winona suggests that Raylan’s home life isn’t as out of reach as it feels, but he’s not going to make getting home a priority if his reckless behavior in Mexico at the start of the episode is any indication. He did get a cold reception from his federale contact, but bringing him back in his trunk wasn’t exactly diplomatic. Every moment of the hour with Dewey was sheer brilliance, particularly Raylan’s assertion that 1000 feet is just a figure of speech. Truth be told, Dewey serving as a decoy for Boyd’s bank robbery was the most useful thing he could have done, but his reaction prompted Boyd to make a decision I expected him to make before the episode was done, to shoot Dewey in the head and rid us of one of the most idiotic but brilliantly written characters on television. It means that Boyd means business and no one is going to get in his way. Ending the episode with him watching Ava sleep is foreboding, especially since her informant relationship with Raylan isn’t exactly going well. I sense a dark season on the horizon, which may be even more fearsome that what we’ve experienced up until now since it’s Boyd who is being cast as the central villain.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 1, Episode 10 “Revenge of the Rogues” (B+)

This was a fun episode, mainly because it paired together the two former stars of FOX’s “Prison Break.” That they got broken out of their transport to prison at the end of the episode was just one of the many great moments highlighting Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, both of whom are selectively good for specific performances. Purcell is great at playing a hothead, which he got to do both literally and figuratively here. His heat powers were the perfect complement to Captain Cool’s icy abilities, and I can’t wait to see what Snark’s sister can do aside from free them. Joe and Dr. Wells are acting like the angel and the devil on Barry’s shoulders, whispering in his ear to tell him what is more important for him to do at the moment. Trying to play the long game of figuring out how to defeat the Reverse Flash was probably the right thing to do until the villainous duo abducted Caitlin, though I am surprised that Robbie didn’t burst in to save the day and instead it was just Joe who was able to outrun a bomb, which does seem to be a bit convenient and tidy. I’m thrilled that Eddie stepped in to protect the Flash and has now realized that he is a good guy, since that’s an important aspect of recognition for Barry and also one less obstacle for him to have to deal with in his crime-fighting capacity. In the end, Iris did move in with Eddie, but at least she and Barry patched things up, and now Barry moved back in with Joe, which is going to make keeping up his alter ago relatively easy as long as Iris doesn’t drop by too often.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Final SAG Winner Predictions

There are three Golden Globe winners nominated tonight – Kevin Spacey, Billy Bob Thornton, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. “The Affair” and “Transparent,” named the best series of the year, aren’t represented at all, and “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez isn’t contending either. The other big difference here is that “True Detective” is competing as a drama series, which means that Matthew McConaughey may finally be rewarded for his performance. I would be so excited about Tatiana Maslany winning, but I sadly just don’t see it happening. Expect last year’s winners, Ty Burrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and “Modern Family,” to triumph in the comedy categories. Any fun surprises to expect? Aside from Maslany, I’m not too enthralled.

I may or may not tune in to part of the broadcast online while I’m at Sundance. Enjoy final predictions below (film here), and offer your thoughts in the comments!

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: His Last Vow)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
House of Cards

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Modern Family

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 7, Episodes 3 and 4 “William Henry Harrison” and “Leslie and Ron” (B+)

I heartily enjoyed this hourlong presentation, which presented a “to be continued” scenario that was continued immediately, which put a positive spin on the fact that this show is being finished off as quickly and ceremoniously as possible. What’s best about both of these episodes is how defiant both Leslie and Ron are, Leslie in her determination not to lose her zeal and her spirit, and Ron in his lifelong staunch attitude of not connecting emotionally with people. I liked how the specific circumstances of Ron’s departure from the Parks department was revealed, with Leslie trying so hard to get Ron to talk and ultimately managing to squeeze a few words out of him and realize just what had happened to make him leave. It’s always great to see his sentimental side, which in this case made him feel lonely and prompted him to muster up the courage to ask Leslie for a job. That she was too busy to be able to meet with him, or even remember her appointment, is a shame, but at least we got to fast-forward through most of their not being friends to this point of wonderful and hilarious reconciliation. The use of the wood from Ann’s door to make a friend of the picture was especially sweet. Among other things, I enjoyed the fact that Jerry has become a notary public and the many different entities who tried to argue for the sanctity of the land. Andy suggesting that he and April each say a word and see if it made a profession was terrific, and I loved that his only word was trampoline.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 1, Episode 10 “Chapter Ten” (B+)

It’s good to hear just from his tone that the narrator is still having fun, and so am I! This show is riding high after giving the CW its first-ever Golden Globe win for star Gina Rodriguez earlier this month, and it’s starting off the year on a great note. I’m glad to see that a “natural disaster event episode” like this didn’t dishonor the nature of the show and take too many leaps in terms of credibility or plot development. It was a terrific impetus to involve the idea of praying, which revealed the sweetness of Alba in teaching Xiomara how to cook so that she wouldn’t embarrass a young Jane at school and cleverly got Xiomara to pledge not to open her legs so that a renewed romance with Rogelio is doubly complicated. Of course, Xiomara knows it was Michael who made sure that Alba wouldn’t be deported, but that’s not something that Jane can know just yet. To his credit, Rafael isn’t being a jerk, and Jane shouldn’t have asked him about who he was going to lay off since it only led to her feeling responsible rather than just powerless. I like that Jane and Rafael ended up in a good place after the layoffs and after Jane confronted him about the passport and money, which he was smart to be honest about (even though that may not be the full story). This plastic surgery cover-up is quite a soapy twist, and I think that Rose has spun one too many webs to be taken at her word that she truthfully suspects that her husband is Sin Rostro. Luisa’s upcoming escape is sure to throw a wrench in the Solano family dynamic, and the impending arrival of Petra’s pursuers will surely make things even messier.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What I’m Watching: Episodes

Episodes: Season 4, Episode 2 (B+)

Things certainly have changed. Matt is going to have to scale back his lifestyle, Sean and Beverly are going to make another show for the network, and Carol is working for a boss who may actually be both brilliant and sane. Matt is hilariously stubborn about what he doesn’t want to give up, and hearing his ridiculous enthusiasm for his plane and for his dinosaur is entertaining, as is the fact that he drank the $126,000 bottle of wine when he was drunk. Dismissing the gardener who sweeps his each was fully preposterous, particularly because he kept making requests for last-minute work before the man left his job of eighteen years. Sean and Beverly going to see their former employee went particularly poorly, but at least they were able to leave with the knowledge that what their other script is attracting quite a bit of attention. The first two executives’ desire to cut out the creative elements of the show was wonderfully contrasted by Helen Bash’s openness about doing whatever they wanted, and it means a rare and unprecedented time of possibility for the network. I love that Carol confessed to her breaking up Helen’s marriage and ultimately ended up asking for sympathy from Helen, who seems nothing more than mildly surprised to learn that this had happened. I’m not sure why, but the sight of Sean and Beverly both wearing checkered shirts and the look they gave each other was one of the highlights of the episode for me.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What I’m Watching: House of Lies

House of Lies: Season 4, Episode 2 “I’m a Motherfucking Scorpion, That’s Why” (B+)

These twin narratives that take place concurrently during Marty’s jail sentence and in the present day are actually working pretty well, and it’s extremely entertaining to see the state of affairs for Marty in prison. I was delighted to see Jon Bass, who played new digital editor Bree on “The Newsroom,” as Gabe, Marty’s new cellmate who was overeager and excessively chatty at best. Pitching the idea that Ellis was going to invent a barber robot, Ellis managed to create a brilliant setup of two maniacal minds. Marty managed to play it extremely cool and shrug off Ellis’ many requests for collaboration, which Marty so slyly manipulated him into wanting. Jeannie played her role to perfection by using her new fierce anger to pick apart Dante Vallerio and get him scared while Marty was working Ellis on the inside. Two present-day scenes were my favorites, however, and those were the opening awkwardness of Doug and Sarah asking Jeannie if they could have her baby and the closing airborne interaction with Monica, who continues to be one of the best parts of the show. She knows just what to say to get under Marty’s skin, though she wasn’t exactly starting from a losing vantage point here when she slinked back from first class to greet her ex-husband in coach. Jeannie breaking the news to Marty that there is no Edwin and it’s actually his baby wasn’t a shock, but it was still pretty damn intense and will surely be hard for both parties to get past.

Round Two: Togetherness

Togetherness: Season 1, Episode 2 “Handcuffs” (B+)

If I wasn’t sure about this show in its first installment, I’m definitely all for it after this second half-hour, which solidifies the fact that these characters are great, and even if it’s going to be an awkward ride, it will be a firmly entertaining and enjoyable one. Seeing Michelle and Brett in their daily lives is extremely enlightening since it conveys the fact that Michelle is bored with the mundane nature of everything, while Brett can’t stand the fact that no one sees the world as he does, where waste shouldn’t be so prevalent and coyote sounds should be accurate for a terrible TV show. Tina encouraging Michelle to act out her fantasies didn’t exactly go well, especially for Brett’s balls, but that’s mainly because Brett had no idea that she was desperately yearning to express her frustrations, and now, after a naked handcuffing, he understands that they need to do something to spice up their sex life, even if it’s definitely not trying that again. I love the relationship between Tina and Alex, grounded in ice water pouring and otherwise built on strengthening each other by dispelling the negative comments others have made to them. Forcing Alex to throw out the pizza was a symbolic sign of the fact that she does care about him, and even though they’re hardly good influences for the baby, they are going to be able to improve each other and themselves as a result of their odd couple friendship. I’m eager to see more of their interactions, even if they’ve already hit a peak of managing to see truly see each other and look past everything superficial. My favorite part of the episode was that Tina very quickly offered up payment in boob flashing to get Alex to help her.

What I’m Watching: Girls

Girls: Season 4, Episode 2 “Triggering” (B+)

I didn’t expect to like this episode as much as I did, but I really found myself enthralled by all of the dialogue and where the story is heading. It’s interesting to see that Hannah, self-centered as she always is, becomes the sole focus of the story, with Marnie skyping in then freezing, only to have the computer closed on her, and Shoshanna and Jessa only referenced as far as Shoshanna not understanding how to accept a collect call. Hannah’s new life in Iowa is equal parts dream and nightmare, as evidenced by her shock at what $250 could get in real estate and her subsequent terror at the arrival of a bat in the house. I couldn’t have been more excited to see Desiree Akhavan, who broke out as the director, writer, and star of “Appropriate Behavior,” which played at Sundance last year and should be arriving in theatres right about now, cast as Hannah’s new classmate and friend who inadvertently help get her bike stolen. Hannah’s story was dark and awful, and she really did have a tough time accepting the critique it received. I like that Hannah is being forced to grow up though resisting it at every turn, regressing to youthful immaturity when Elijah came to town and dancing up a storm, stopping during the night to tell an undergrad how life really is. This episode had a lot of great lines as delivered by Lena Dunham, particularly “Because it’s an affair, and those are generally kept secret,” “TMI is an outdated concept; this is the information age,” and “We’re no different than George W. Bush.” I also heartily enjoyed that her parents asked her what her friends’ names were and then hung up on her so that they could finish playing Scrabble.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 5, Episode 2 “I’m the Liver” (B+)

This episode was such a fantastic return to the fantastic depravity that this show has always been so good at featuring, placing each of its characters in a situation that permits them to chip away at the integrity of society one bad decision at a time. Frank being invited to a meal with all of the other recipients of his liver donor’s organs was a disaster just waiting to happen, and though he didn’t have much to do, I appreciated the casting of Patrick Fischler, most memorable in “Mad Men” and “Lost,” as the father of the son who he taught to fight rather than to run and whose liver Frank is now renting for at least ten years. Sammi getting Chucky to poop in Sheila’s living room was immature but it seems to have achieved the desired effect of getting Sheila to acknowledge her, giving her a harsh talking-to that may be exactly the kind of parenting she needs and wants from her new stepmother. I loved how Mickey’s wife got involved in a few situations in this hour, breastfeeding the twins and cutting Debs’ and Kev’s hair. It was sweet that Fiona took Debs to the show with her in the end, though Fiona is really living dangerously, picking more than one fight on her first day of anklet-free probation. She did her best to seduce Sean but he’s totally right that she’s bad for him, and hopefully this won’t affect their working relationship, especially if she starts dating the musician. Lip seems committed to his new job, and his intellectual superiority doesn’t appear to be a problem. The invasion of the gentrification lesbians is a cool plot for this season, and I’m sure there will be plenty of opposition from all residents of the lower-class neighborhood. Ian’s anger at the funeral protesters spawned in him a furious fire, and Mickey’s plan to humiliate the Westboro Baptist Church stand-in priest was devious and sure to be devastatingly damaging to his cause.

What I’m Watching: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 3 (B+)

This season’s threads are becoming clearer and clearer the more we get into it, though there are a few surprises along the way too. Those come mainly in the form of Russians who much prefer tea and relics of their past to modern criticism by the likes of their leadership by one Sarah Bunting. It’s hard to decide who is more predictably prickly, Robert or Sarah, since the former always gets angry about anything new or untoward and the latter seems to incite furor whenever she shows up and happens to be invited to crash a party. The big shock of the hour was discovering that Violet had a forbidden flirtation much in the style of Cora with a Russian royal back in the day, and this just after she gave Mary such a hard time for being caught by her valet after her night of passion with Tony. I didn’t mention last week just how fantastic Richard E. Grant, who I first saw in “Gosford Park” over a decade ago and who this past year was one of the main reasons to see “Dom Hemingway,” was as Cora’s admirer who got Robert to boil over when he kept her out for the majority of the evening. Mary isn’t letting anyone tell her what to do, and I really like her relationship with Tom as he peruses his different options of how to upset the balance of things. It’s no surprise that Edith came on too strong and has now been barred from seeing her child, and no one is particularly sympathetic since they don’t know the circumstances. Thomas left rather abruptly to go see his dying father, and things seem to have returned to a comfortable place with Mosley and Baxter that hopefully won’t be upset by his impending return.

Take Three: Galavant

Galavant: Season 1, Episodes 5 and 6 “Completely Mad…Alena” and “Dungeons and Dragon Lady” (B-)

After four introductory installments, Galavant finally got to the palace, and, like everything that led up to it, it’s entertaining but also highly odd and random. I do like that Madalena, not content just to be a damsel in distress or a spoiled princess, is taking some initiative and managed to get Galavant saved to help her achieve her own goals. I was not at all thrilled with the Xanax plotline involving Ricky Gervais, who was bound to show up eventually on this show, though it did at least seem to get King Richard back to a good place where he was ready to dismiss Madalena and throw her into the dungeon. Unfortunately, she was clever enough to call up his tough older brother, played by none other than Rutger Hauer, to return to talk or kick some sense into him and reclaim the kingdom. Maybe Galavant will end up siding with King Richard after all, Madalena notwithstanding, to help ensure that the lesser of two evils remains on the throne. Isabella hasn’t yet been able to truly articulate her feelings for Galavant and he hasn’t realized how he feels either, but they’re getting much closer to it with each of their songs. I was surprised to recognize Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy on “Downton Abbey,” as the handmaiden who Madalena pretend to set up with the chef so that she could get Galavant into her chambers. Daisy and Gwynne aren’t really all that different, and it’s fun to see McShera in a servant role in a more outright comedic context.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

The competition: The Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Modern Family, Orange is the New Black, Veep

For your information: Here are the stats: “Modern Family” and is on its sixth nomination. It has won all but for its first year, when it lost to “Glee.” This is the fourth consecutive nomination for “The Big Bang Theory” and the second for “Veep.” Sophomore series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Orange is the New Black” are here for the first time. “Modern Family” has three acting nominations, and all but “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” have exactly one. Only “Orange is the New Black” and “Veep” were nominated for the corresponding Golden Globe race, and neither won.

Who should win: “Veep” or “Orange is the New Black”

Who will win: I’m going to bet on Modern Family again.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

The competition: Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards

For your information: “House of Cards” is the only newcomer to this race for its sophomore season. “Downton Abbey” won two years go after “Boardwalk Empire” won this race the previous two years. This is the fifth consecutive nomination for “Boardwalk Empire,” the third consecutive nomination for “Downton Abbey” and “Homeland,” and the third time “Game of Thrones” has been nominated after 2013 and 2011. “House of Cards” has two actors nominated and all the other shows have exactly one.

Who should win: “House of Cards,” probably

Who will win: I think House of Cards can manage this, but who knows?

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Ellen Burstyn (Flowers in the Attic), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Honourable Woman), Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge), Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart), Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful)

For your information: Tyson has been nominated for three TV Sag Awards before, and Burstyn was nominated once before in this race and once for her film work. McDormand has been nominated three times for films and won once. Roberts has been nominated twice before for film work and won once. Gyllenhaal is a first-time nominee. Roberts and Tyson contended for Emmys and lost to actresses not nominated here, and Gyllenhaal triumphed over McDormand at the Golden Globes.

Who should win: All I’ve seen is one hour of Gyllenhaal’s mini-series.

Who will win: Let’s give this one to McDormand or Tyson.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Adrien Brody’s master escape artist (Houdini), Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock), Richard Jenkins’ companion (Olive Kitteridge), Mark Ruffalo’s gay writer (The Normal Heart), and Billy Bob Thornton’s devious troublemaker (Fargo).

For your information: This is the first TV nomination for these five men, but we have two double nominees represented here this year – Cumberbatch and Ruffalo, who are also recognized for film roles. All but Cumberbatch have been nominated once before for film work, and Thornton was nominated twice before. Cumberbatch won the Emmy and wasn’t nominated for the Golden Globe, which went to Thornton.

Who should win: I’ve only seen Thornton.

Who will win: I think this will go to Cumberbatch, but it could be Thornton too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Uzo Aduba’s hyperactive inmate (Orange is the New Black), Julie Bowen’s neurotic mother (Modern Family), Edie Falco’s pill-popping nurse (Nurse Jackie), Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ sarcastic vice-president (Veep), and Amy Poehler’s dedicated government employee (Parks and Recreation).

For your information: This is Falco’s sixth consecutive nomination, and she won three individual SAG Awards for her role on “The Sopranos.” Louis-Dreyfus won for this role last year and was nominated seven times before for two other TV roles, and won twice for “Seinfeld.” This is Bowen’s third nomination, and Poehler returns to the lineup for the second time after being snubbed last year. This is the first nomination for Aduba. Aduba, Bowen, and Louis-Dreyfus are also nominated as part of their ensemble casts. The Golden Globe winner in the corresponding category, Gina Rodriguez, isn’t nominated here.

Who should win: Poehler or Louis-Dreyfus

Who will win: I don’t see how it goes to anyone but Louis-Dreyfus since SAG voters like what they like.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Ty Burrell’s goofy dad (Modern Family), Louis C.K.’s wry comedian (Louie), William H. Macy’s depraved patriarch (Shameless), Jim Parsons’ stuck-up scientist (The Big Bang Theory), and Eric Stonestreet’s flamboyant music teacher (Modern Family).

For your information: “30 Rock” is gone, but the one man who ever beat Alec Baldwin – Burrell – is back. This is his fifth consecutive nomination. Stonestreet, who wasn’t nominated last year, is back with his third overall nomination. Parsons is also on his third nomination. C.K. wasn’t eligible last year but was nominated the year before that. Macy has been nominated once for film work three times for TV movie and miniseries work. He won in 2002 for “Door to Door.” Burrell, Parsons, and Stonestreet are all nominated as part of their ensembles. The Golden Globe winner in the corresponding category, Jeffrey Tambor, isn’t nominated here.

Who should win: Burrell or Macy

Who will win: It will probably be Burrell again, though multiple Emmy winner Parsons could break through too.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Claire Danes’ eccentric CIA agent (Homeland), Viola Davis’ fearsome legal educator (How to Get Away with Murder), Julianne Margulies’ maternal lawyer (The Good Wife), Tatiana Maslany’s many clones (Orphan Black), Maggie Smith’s wise-cracking countess (Downton Abbey), and Robin Wright’s cutthroat political wife (House of Cards).

For your information: Danes won this award two years ago and receives her third nomination this year. Margulies is back after being snubbed last year and nominated every year before that. She won in 2009 and 2010. Smith won last year on her second nomination. Wright was nominated for “Empire Falls” in 2005. Davis was nominated in 2008 for her film work in “Doubt” and won in 2011 for “The Help.” Maslany is here for the first time. Danes, Smith, and Wright are also nominated as part of their ensembles. The Golden Globe wines in the corresponding categories, Ruth Wilson and Joanne Froggatt, aren’t nominated here.

Who should win: Maslany, obviously

Who will win: I’d love to say Maslany, but I think Davis will win this, though honestly any of them except for Danes probably could.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Steve Buscemi’s Atlantic City gangster (Boardwalk Empire), Peter Dinklage’s talkative heir (Game of Thrones), Woody Harrelson’s carefree cop (True Detective), Matthew McConaughey’s harrowed cop (True Detective), and Kevin Spacey’s corrupt politician (House of Cards).

For your information: This is Buscemi’s fifth consecutive nomination. He won for the first and second seasons of the show. Dinklage and Spacey are both back after being nominated last year. Harrelson and McConaughey are new to the race, each earning their second career nominations. Harrelson was nominated in 2012 for TV movie “Game Change,” and McConaughey won last year for the film “Dallas Buyers Club.” Buscemi, Dinklage, and Spacey are also nominated as part of their ensemble casts.

Who should win: All great choices – I’d probably give it to Dinklage or Spacey.

Who will win: Without Bryan Cranston or “Fargo” in the way, it’s McConaughey vs. Golden Globe winner Spacey. I’ll give the edge tentatively to the former.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pilot Review: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys (Syfy)
Premiered January 16 at 10pm

I don’t remember much about “Twelve Monkeys,” the film that came out in 1995 and earned Brad Pitt an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, other than the fact that I really liked it. I’m all for time travel when it’s done right, and when it works to support a mythology that is truly compelling. That movie did it well, and, fortunately, this show seems to also. Casting Aaron Stanford from "Nikita" in the Bruce Willis role is a stroke of genius, mainly because, unlike Willis, who was still pretty great in the movie, Stanford is able to seem like a depraved maniac one moment and then reveal his inner intelligence the next, thereby legitimizing his apparent craziness. The way in which he explains what’s going on – “this is the past” or “if you believe me, find me two years from now” – is simply superb. I’m also relatively impressed with the Dr. Railly character, since she seems to be capable of grappling with difficult situations and maintaining her sanity, even if she gets looked at like Sarah Connor ranting about the impending end of the world. What made this pilot work well is that it wasn’t afraid to do something big like introduce Zeljko Ivanek’s Leland Goines and then kill him off right away, at Cole’s own hands no less, showing that it wouldn’t be so easy to fix things. That made the episode-ending introduction of Jennifer Goines, a female version of Pitt’s character from the movie, all the more fantastic, since she’s actually nuts and seemingly responsible for the outbreak of the plague that will kill seven billion people. I wasn’t sure I would be, but after this I think I’m hooked.

How will it work as a series? Now this is my only worry. The movie was adapted from a 1962 short called “La Jetée” and itself was only about two hours long, and so crafting a whole series from just that premise might be tough, especially if they have a future to change. That said, I think the characters and storyline might be strong enough to sustain something more lasting, and I’m intrigued to see how it goes.
How long will it last? Syfy cancelled what I thought was their best series, “Alphas,” after just two seasons, and I don’t have too much faith in what they decided to keep on the air instead (like “Defiance”). I’m hoping that this adaptation of a cult film will be just the ticket, and I think the network is excited enough about it to keep it around for a second season.

Pilot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: Banshee

Banshee: Season 3, Episode 2 “Snakes and Whatnot” (B+)

This show’s opening sequence is one of the things I love most about it, and therefore it was jarring to see something different featured at the start of this episode. That said, the music was still there and what was in its place was fascinating – following Kai’s operation from start to finish and transitioning directly into the plot of the hour. Things aren’t exactly going well for the Proctor business, and it’s not entirely Rebecca’s fault, even if shooting a man who insulted Kai in the knees led to an all-out bloodbath. It’s Chayton who’s stirring things up by sending men to abduct Kai, who wasn’t even the one who killed Alex. Nola’s return is just as formidable and fantastic as I knew it would be, and I love the fact that she went into the diner and shared a drink with Carrie. The mobster’s daughter’s new beau couldn’t be a poorer choice, both because he is directly the target of their next score, and he has quite a temper which didn’t bode well for the bribe-taking recruit of his. It also seems to translate into some inappropriate content at work, which threatens the only stable part of her life. I’m intrigued by the neo-Nazi applicant for the vacant deputy position, though the guy who got it is doing well enough by roaming around the reservation and protecting Lucas from certain suicide. Dava stopping by to see Lucas and have her be a father to him was interesting, and while he wasn’t too warm to the idea, let’s hope that his mysterious gun-toting visitor doesn’t rob him of the opportunity to be a good influence for her.

Round Two: Babylon

Babylon: Season 1, Episode 2 (B+)

In its second outing, this show does well. While it may not be as hilarious as the notion of stuffing guards with cheese and eating them, there’s still plenty of humor to be found, but also some serious content which prompts some true and unchecked anger from this show’s two most volatile personalities, Liz and Richard. Liz’s no-nonsense attitude does make it hard for her to make friends, as evidenced by an overheard call in a bathroom stall, and therefore it’s no wonder that she would jump at the chance to appease the one friend she does have by compromising her values and doing drugs. Her internal press network idea was clearly conceived in a moment of high function, and I think she let it get to her a bit and oversold it in her mind. That said, when Richard told her no she got truly angry and railed at him about her ideas not being taken seriously. She’s doing a pretty terrific job otherwise, smartly advising the deputy mayor on how to best spin his son being arrested and booked for drug possession (reminiscent of a lighter version of what happened on “Boss”). The idea of the public tasing was pretty entertaining, and that seems like a productive concept that couldn’t possibly have gone well. It took me a while, but I finally recognized Paterson Joseph, who plays Charles, as Holy Wayne from “The Leftovers.” This role includes a different kind of over-the-top behavior that isn’t as serious as changing people’s lives with a mere embrace.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 3, Episode 10 “Seed Money” (B)

This show really is aiming high in terms of its plotlines, and I’m not sure that it needs to reach for such a specific intellectual level each episode since it used to be more than capable of being enthralling and involving in its own right. Finding an eighty-year-old couple dead in a room apparently of natural causes led to quite a windy and unexpected place involving coded sales, growhouses, bees, and accidental deaths, which all seemed a bit too complicated for its own good. It’s most worthwhile to see how Sherlock and Watson work together, balancing each other out as they each dropped some major bombshells – Watson announcing that she’s folding her private detective business and starting a job at an insurance company, and Sherlock believing that he’s ready to promote his protégé to full-fledged partner. Kitty definitely earned that by helping out someone at her group with her daughter’s well-intentioned but destructive search for her rapist father, which Kitty deduced rather quickly and easily and managed to keep from getting out of hand. Her promotion may have to wait considering the crime scene Sherlock found himself at in the episode’s closing scene, which suggests that, like Moriarty, a British detective’s nemesis isn’t content to leave their former prey alone in New York. On the guest star front, Katie Finneran, underrated star of such short-lived shows as “Wonderfalls” and “The Inside” who recently appeared on the lamentable “The Michael J. Fox Show,” was well-cast as a high-powered woman Sherlock initially suspected who Watson was ultimately able to prove to be guilty.

What I’m Watching: Parenthood

Parenthood: Season 6, Episode 11 “Let’s Go Home” (B+)

This is this show’s third-to-last episode, and we’re definitely headed in a direction that wraps up most of the plotlines in a neat but not unrealistic bow. The most crucial one, of course, involves Joel and Julia. Joel nearly getting caught in Julia’s bedroom by Sydney was entertaining, and the fact that it morphed from not wanting to confuse the kids to Joel showing up at the ice rink to kiss Julia in front of them over the course of just one episode is deeply affirming and wonderful. Seeing how happy Sydney and Victor were was especially great. Speaking of romance, Hank did pretty well for himself, trying to talk with Sarah about his proposal and then agreeing with Max that Sarah talks too much, ultimately earning himself an affirmative answer after he went over to Amber’s to assemble the crib her father had sent her, though he did end up with one extra screw. I guess we have a wedding on our hands, which is a treat. I’m all for characters who never speak to each other interacting, and thus Jasmine’s first-ever chat with Adam proved to be productive, inspiring him to stick it out and try to turn the Luncheonette into something to be proud of once again. Zeek is fading away, but his sudden desire to pass things on to his grandchildren led to an unexpectedly touching final moment that made Zeek and Camille’s sale of the house worth it: seeing how it once again became a family’s home, a strong enough piece of nostalgia to compel Zeek to leave a treasure for some other kid to find someday.

Pilot Review: Man Seeking Woman

Man Seeking Woman (FXX)
Premiered January 14 at 10:30pm

The FX brand, which now includes a network aimed at younger audiences, FXX, has some comedies that I do enjoy, like “Wilfred,” “Married,” and “You’re the Worst.” Others I don’t watch regularly but do appreciate, like “Louie.” And then there are some that just are not for me. Unfortunately, FXX’s newest comedy, which the network was kind enough to send me a press kit of with the first two episodes included, falls into that category. Jay Baruchel, who was the star of a breakout comedy hit called “Undeclared” way back in 2001 that was Judd Apatow’s follow-up to “Freaks and Geeks,” plays Josh Greenberg, the sad sack main character who is more than unlucky in love and generally in life. I went into it knowing nothing more than that the poster for the show and the press kit art shows Josh holding out a rose to a troll on a date. It turns out that it’s not a metaphor or representation of his love life, but an actual scene from the pilot following his successful sister’s idea to set him up with a troll from Sweden. The episode also includes an introduction to Josh’s ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, who happens to be Adolf Hilter, who according to many isn’t as bad as he’s made about to be. This show is not meant to be taken seriously, but it interprets what people often say their worst dates and moments are to be literal occurrences. Some may find that funny; I certainly don’t. This is a grating series that I just can’t stand.

How will it work as a series? I broke my own rule and decided to watch the second episode right away to see if the show gets any better. The second episode includes a control room in which military personnel help Josh craft a text message to a girl he met on the train. In short, the pilot is a perfect indicator of what the series is, and that’s not a good thing.
How long will it last? Headline Planet describes this premiere on Wednesday as “one of the worst-rated and least-watched original offerings on cable.” Even though FXX is not a ratings juggernaut, this show couldn’t match “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and likely won’t be back for a second season until FX Networks really wants to expand its brand.

Pilot review: F-

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 6, Episode 12 “The Big Game” (C+)

Those annoying neighbors are back again, and, predictably, they’re not up to much good and it doesn’t do this show’s storyline any favors. I did enjoy the fact that Luke watches their daughter sunbathing and went out to try to play it cool only to have her call him out on staring at her every day. It seems that her tricking him into admitting that he had never been with a girl only made her seem more attractive to them, so I fear we’ll see her and the family again. Phil calling in his father and his retired RV buddies to intimidate the neighbors into getting rid of their boat failed miserably, nearly resulting in Haley charging into the pot party aboard the boat. Everything did manage to work out in the end, of course, but by that point Claire had already called the police and made the situation infinitely worse. Manny being jealous of Joe didn’t do much for me, but I enjoyed his reaction to the fact that Gloria made up a bunch of early accomplishments for him that he had cherished as defining pieces of his character. Jay potty training Joe was somewhat sweet, even if it was just to get convenience store employees to stop showing him adult diapers. I go back and forth on Cam’s clown obsession, and I think that while Lily pushing Cam over and hurting him to make Mitchell laugh was probably the perfect revenge for Mitchell, it wasn’t all that interesting or fun to watch.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 4, Episode 12 “Control-Alt-Delete” (B+)

I’ll admit that there’s nothing I love more than when this show frames its events from a completely different perspective, and it’s done that four or five times now to great effect. This was probably the least impressive one, mainly because it didn’t offer us much new intel and also had our heroes looking for someone they’re very unlikely to find until Sarah Shahi gives birth to twins and decides to come back to the show in a few years. The reveal that the man and woman wreaking havoc on Control’s operations were Reese and Root was still pretty well-executed, and the team worked well together to combat an enemy that they thought knew far more than she really did. These terrorists who may not have actually been criminals didn’t manage to change Control’s mind, but their very existence is foreboding since it’s clear that Samaritan is manipulating its data in a worrisome way. Root’s friend the precocious kid asking to see the President is a bad sign, since I think Samaritan believes it’s time to take over the world, which seems like a bit of an overreach even if Greer is pulling the strings to a degree. Devon continues to be the moral compass of Control’s operation, and her communicating directly with him suggests that he’ll prove an important ally when her visit to the basement of the stock exchange leads her to be forced to accept the truth that Finch and his band of do-gooders aren’t actually bad guys and that they’re just trying to save the world, something she purports rather unapologetically to be doing with her 800+ kills.

Round Two: Agent Carter

Agent Carter: Season 1, Episode 3 “Time and Tide” (C+)

Well, it didn’t take long for this show to become deathly boring. What might have been seen as fortifying Peggy’s character as an intellectual standout in the two-hour premiere has now become fully ridiculous, as all of the characters except for Sousa have absolutely no substance, and Peggy is reduced to playing dumb and pretending to make mistakes in order to actually accomplish anything. Things got a little too close for comfort with Jarvis being picked up by Peggy’s colleagues, and his treasonous past was revealed awfully quickly. You’d think that someone with Peggy’s training and experience might have researched her new colleague, even if he did come highly recommended by Howard Stark, who has inexplicably taken the blame in Roger’s mind for Ray’s death. As a person and a character, Ray didn’t have much going for him, and he’s sure to be more fondly recalled in death than in life because of how he went out. It’s going to motivate Ray, Jack, and Sousa to push harder to find Stark and to see justice served, and let’s hope Sousa’s cool head prevails and that he can manage to educate his colleagues a bit on the art of good policework. The subplot of no men being allowed in Peggy’s apartment building and one young woman being kicked out because she broke that rule is far from interesting, and I think we really need to see Peggy break out of her shell and kick some ass since the current setup isn’t allowing her to be nearly as terrific a character as she should be.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 4, Episode 13 “Coming Out” (C+)

File this one under theoretically funny but not practically productive. Coach encouraging Jess and Ryan to go public with their relationship so that he could replace Ryan as the desired hot guy at school was an ill-conceived plan from the start, and no possible good could have come from it. The fact that no teacher’s proposal for a field trip can anywhere close to being coherent and Ryan’s was full of creativity and energy was lamentable, and it signaled just how easy it is to rock the boat when it comes to Jess and Ryan’s relationship. The foliage-centered field trip that did end up happening was a disaster in every possible way, and I did chuckle at the notion that the teacher was merely having the students clean his own yard. I’m never too fond of plotlines involving hernias, which usually make me flash back to Joey getting a hernia on “Friends,” since I think that they feel forced and usually end up in the same place, which is to indicate that someone is working too much and a break is sorely needed. That was true for Schmidt, and evading Nick to go back to work didn’t exactly work out well for him as he found out he’s stuck forever in middle management mediocrity. The notion that Nick and his girlfriend just sit on the couch hanging out for days on end is intriguing and fascinating in a sense, but also very hard to believe. I’d like to see something a bit more substantial come of their romance soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation (Season Premiere)

Parks and Recreation: Season 7, Episodes 1 and 2 “2017” and “Ron and Jammy” (B+)

It’s hard to believe that the final season of this show is hardly here, but honestly, is there really anything better on TV? I think not. It’s a shame that this season is going to be so unceremoniously marathoned over the course of just seven weeks, but the upside is that it’s a whole lot of Pawnee in a short amount of time, which can’t possibly be a bad thing. Jumping ahead three years at the end of last season was a big gamble, since there’s a certain point at which you can’t go back. That said, I think these two episodes were marvelously handled, checking in with our characters in a place where they’re still very recognizable but have been hardened by some defining experiences. Leslie preparing to see her most hated rival and it turning out to be Ron was great, since it makes sense that he would abandon his government post held so dear for far more libertarian endeavors. Helping Jamm in episode two was fun mainly because it allowed Leslie and Ron to work together while still standing on opposite sides of the aisle. This was actually Megan Mullally’s best appearance as Tammy to date. It stands to reason that Tom would have everything in his life but a person to share it with, and I was thrilled to see Natalie Morales’ Lucy presented as a viable option. The whirlwind trip to Chicago was romantic and amazing, but of course she has a boyfriend. If Tom can’t win her over, may I suggest Tatiana Maslany as the obvious second choice? I loved seeing April and Andy realize that they were old and boring and try to become more interesting. I didn’t recognize Werner Herzog in his hilarious deadpan role as the seller of the haunted house they decided to buy, and I enjoyed April tormenting Ben by bringing him on her exploration of a career as a mortician. This last season is going to be a blast, and my only fear is that it will fly by far too quickly.

What I’m Watching: Episodes (Season Premiere)

Episodes: Season 4, Episode 1 (B+)

This show is never a disappointment, and it’s really great to have it back on the air for another season. As expected, the resurrection of “Pucks” is a wholly miserable experience that benefits no one except for Elliot Salad, who gets to give NBC the finger by not letting them have Matt LeBlanc. I thoroughly enjoyed his restaurant scene with Carol, and Michael Brandon, who plays Salad, got a handful of the great lines to go head-to-head with the fantastic Kathleen Rose Perkins. Carol being number two again is sure to be problematic for completely different reasons, namely that she had an affair with the woman’s husband years ago and broke up their marriage. I’m curious to see what new ideas she has to rebrand the dying network. The death of Matt’s money guy revealed some unfortunate financial woes, but of course that would mean that Matt lost $32 million but still has $31 million safely in the bank. His conversation with Sean and Beverly was pretty hilarious, and I especially enjoyed Beverly asking him if he ever considered the option of smaller bites. Guessing how much money the two of them had and almost guessing their ages was funny, but what I love most is that this show can turn to something more dramatic in a humorous moment, as Matt’s prodding made Sean think about what they had and prompted him to pick up the phone to agree to let their script be sold against Beverly’s wishes. An awful secretary who never picks up the phone or lets them know about packages is soon to be the least of their problems.

What I’m Watching: House of Lies (Season Premiere)

House of Lies: Season 4, Episode 1 “At the End of the Day, Reality Wins” (B+)

I was excited for “Shameless” and “Episodes” to come back, but my enthusiasm for this show had seriously waned after a decent second season and mixed third season that came nowhere close to the quality of the first season. Fortunately, this fourth season premiere seems promising, and now my attitude towards this show is favorable again, at least for the moment. I was concerned that a device which has stalled this show in the past, piecing together some big part of the plot with flashbacks that offer more and more information, was going to be used again to stretch out the revelation of a secret over the course of the whole season. Instead, it offered us a glimpse of the last moment of near-closeness between Marty and Jeannie before Marty went to prison and Jeannie went off to get pregnant by a guy who may or may not exist, Edwin. Now, things are truly awkward, though at least Marty and Jeannie can be on the same page when chewing out a ratty client. Marty’s work and home life both seem to be crashing and burning, and Roscoe has developed quite an attitude to go with his shady and dangerous lifestyle that involves selling stolen goods and doing a whole host of drugs. I’m sure Marty wishes for the days of his gender uncertainty that now seem tame compared to the current volatile situation. We didn’t see too much of Clyde and Doug on their own in this premiere, but I’m sure that the tattoo-covered techie played by Valorie Curry of “The Following” will end up playing a relatively big part in the season, as will Demetri Martin’s egotistical criminal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 6, Episode 12 “The Debate” (C+)

Starting this episode off with a disclaimer about the fact that it was filmed back in August and that any references to Ferguson should be taken in that light made it seem like it was going to be an enormously impactful hour. This show has long had a tendency to pull from the headlines and to feature current storylines that seem very relevant. I didn’t find this hour to be all that compelling, though I’ll admit that it was refreshing to see it return to being able to multitask and actually handle a few threads all at once. Most problematically, of course, all of Cary’s suffering is forgotten and he feels that, after avoiding spending any time in prison, the best thing to do is side with Diane and opt to essentially oust Alicia from the firm, deciding to hire David Lee, something that she would never do and he honestly wouldn’t either, without even talking to her first. It’s an aggressive move, one that feels more up Diane’s alley but still a bit forced. Alicia did end up doing pretty well with her spontaneous kitchen-set debate with Prady, much better than she was doing out there during the actual debate. It’s strange to have Ramona brought up out of the blue and to see her used as a figure to show his true commitment to the cause of supporting Cole Willis’ widow. The dueling pastors underlined the preachy nature of the episode, which an enthusiastic colleague had told me she loved but warned me that she was probably overselling.

Pilot Review: Togetherness

Togetherness (HBO)
Premiered January 11 at 9:30pm

This comedy was highly anticipated because it comes from the Duplass brothers, who have collectively created a few notable projects. I think that the only one I’ve actually seen is “Cyrus,” which I enjoyed, though I like Jay in his series regular role on Amazon’s Golden Globe-winning “Transparent” and thought Mark was terrific in “Your Sister’s Sister” and “Safety Not Guaranteed,” among others. Mark is the only one to appear in this show, which definitely fits HBO’s new bill of comedy particulars, which include plenty of awkwardness and a serious dramatic undercurrent. There’s not too much laugh-out-loud humor going on, but a whole lot of amusing and smile-inducing moments to go around. I found the first half of the pilot to be somewhat uninviting and dull, but, within the scope of half an hour, it managed to pick up and interest me more, and end on a note that makes it very appealing to tune in for the next episode. I wish that Mark had a funnier role, but I guess he’ll have to settle to be a straight man along with Melanie Lynskey, who played a much less demanding part for years on “Two and a Half Men” and hear gets to be more subtly funny, particularly when she’s caught in bed reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” with some inappropriate support by her husband. I think that the casting of Amanda Peet is spot-on and I really look forward to seeing what she does with the role. Steve Zissis, who I’m much less familiar with, but he seems to do a good job of keeping Alex in check and not making him too ridiculous. I want to see this show do well, and for now I’m up for taking another look and hoping for a more even and solid half-hour next time.

How will it work as a series? This is definitely a dramedy, and so I think a good mix of looking at life through a realistic lens and having some good over-the-top fun should work pretty well. My only worry is that it won’t be accessible enough and that the genre won’t lend itself to being interesting on a regular basis.
How long will it last? Reviews for the show have been pretty good, and since HBO cancelled most of its previous comedy lineup, they’ve been enthusiastic about holding on to what they have. I suspect that will continue to be the case here and that they’ll want to show faith in their latest show and pick it up for a second season sooner rather than later.

Pilot grade: B

What I’m Watching: Girls (Season Premiere)

Girls: Season 4, Episode 1 “Iowa” (B)

I haven’t exactly been anticipating the return of this show, mainly because, despite a strong season finale, last season really lost me. Returning to it now, what I notice most is that none of the main four female characters are particularly likeable. Hannah took that dive a while ago, and heading off to Iowa to pursue some sort of responsibility for her life doesn’t seem like it’s going to change too much. Hannah used to be an extremely compelling character, and there’s just something that’s changed that has made her shrill rather than endearing. That’s more than true of Marnie, who has been heading in this direction for a while now and who doesn’t do a great job of earning sympathy for herself when she breaks down crying after people didn’t listen to her playing since she’s sleeping with her fellow musician and lying to his girlfriend’s face about it. It’s nice to see Ray and Shoshana talking again, even if it was awkward, and I love the fact that both of Shoshana’s parents are named Mel Shapiro, much to their chagrin. Jessa getting her elderly friend to admit that she loves her more than her own blood relative was twisted in her typical way, and I certainly hope that we’ll see more of Natasha Lyonne’s Rickey, who has more than a little bit of contempt for Jessa. Honestly, the character to watch in this installment was Adam, who is occasionally deeply affectionate with Hannah and just as often so entrenched in his work and his perception of self. Somehow, a boy has become this show’s most magnetic character.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Season Premiere)

Shameless: Season 5, Episode 1 “Milk of the Gods” (A-)

I’m so happy to have this show back, and what a great start to a surely entertaining season it was. Awards organizations finally classified this show as a comedy last year when it really became a drama, resulting in a trio of nominations for William H. Macy, and now I think it may be back to being a comedy. The only truly dramatic plotline is the one involving Ian, whose family is concerned about him because, while his drug addiction may have been quelled, his bipolar disorder may still flare up. In the meantime, it is fun to see Ian living with Mickey and his Russian wife, taking their baby for walks and hooking up with a busboy while he’s out. Mickey’s business seems to be booming, though he’s more than likely to piss off a few people as a result. Lip’s parting with his semi-girlfriend was awkward and uncertain, but he definitely doesn’t seem to fit in back home anymore thanks to his intellectual aspirations. Fiona may actually be making good decisions, waitressing and expressing interest in her boss, played by Dermot Mulroney, who seems like a good influence. The conversation about Fiona paying for the pie was uncomfortable, but if anything I think it shows that he’s honest, and she just has to be sure not to be self-destructive with their budding relationship. Steve’s impending return, preceded by Dichen Lachman’s Angela leaving exorbitant tips for Fiona, is sure to blow everything up. Seeing Frank healthy is truly strange, though of course he would create a “milk of the gods” to truly test his new liver and cheat the system. Sheila does like being his wife even if she’s driving him crazy, but obviously she’s not thrilled about having a daughter who she thinks is 45 who’s actually 33 who behaves like she’s 17. Emily Bergl continues to be terrific as Sammi, acting out, stealing her new stepmother’s sex toys, and doing everything she can to get her father’s attention. Chucky is also hilarious, and I loved his bathroom session with Frank. Seeing Kev and Veronica as parents is entertaining, and it’s nice to see Kev step up to the plate when she needed a break, and I’m sure plenty of comedy can be milked from what’s sure to be a wild childhood for the twins.

What I’m Watching: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 2 (B+)

Rose seems to be singlehandedly modernizing this show, eagerly begging Robert to get a radio, resulting in his playing the king’s speech for everyone and then deciding that maybe he should just keep the wireless since they went to the trouble of setting it up in the first place. Robert does seem awfully grumpy lately, judging James and dismissing him at the end of last week’s episode and now groaning about how obnoxious he finds Sarah. He did score one victory, of course, and that was over Carson when they talked to the mother of a soldier killed in the war who made a compelling case for why the memorial should be in the center of town rather than far away from it. Carson did say that he wanted to agree with Robert, which made it not that hard to convince him, and it’s endearing to hear him talk about how his discord with Mrs. Hughes upsets him since he prefers that they see eye to eye. Daisy’s new education is off to a great start with Sarah popping in to give her lessons, though she’s likely either to run off with Tom or be dismissed by Robert before any major progress truly occurs. Everything involving Edith’s godmother role is awkward and she and her co-conspirator are coming on way too strong, and I worry that she’ll soon be exposed for a secret which can’t stay secret for long. Violet and Isobel’s interactions are infinitely entertaining, and though Maggie Smith is a perennial nominee for so many awards, she really is terrific. After his hair dye antics last week, it’s good to see Mosley cast in a more dramatic light with his disappointment about Baxter’s past, and even Thomas is starting to become sympathetic. I guess Anna was just feeling charitable after her uncomfortable and hilarious visit to pick up a contraceptive for Mary in town. Hopefully her dalliance with Tony, which seems quite ambitious, will prove productive in only appropriate ways.

Take Two: Galavant

Galavant: Season 1, Episodes 3 and 4 “Two Balls” and “Comedy Gold” (B-)

It’s hard to get some of this show’s tunes, particularly anything involving Galavant’s name (the words “our next show” are stuck forever), out of my head. I’m not convinced this is a truly compelling and terrific show, but it’s mildly enjoyable enough that I’m keen to stick with it. While some of its content could certainly be taken as offensive, I think that harmless is probably the most accurate way to describe this show. I wasn’t too fond of Sid’s return to his very Jewish home, though I’ll admit that Sidneyland as a name was pretty hilarious. Seeing Galavant be humbled by having to pretend to be Sid’s squire and Isabella jump at the chance to be an actress and really play up her fiancée role was entertaining. I like the relationship that is developing between Galavant and Isabella, which was enough for him to defend her mouth-breathing and for her to tell him the truth about what they were headed into, even if he was too busy looking ahead to hear what she had to say. I was pleased to see Hugh Bonneville, who is ever so serious on “Downton Abbey,” ham it up as a hapless pirate in a great guest spot. My favorite player is still Timothy Omundson, who is delightful delivering awful jokes and trying to be clever and likeable, ultimately succeeding in getting his wife to discard her jester lover even if he had forgotten that was his intention all along by the time it happened. This show definitely has spunk, and it has a unique and pretty wild vision.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What I’m Watching: Banshee (Season Premiere)

Banshee: Season 3, Episode 1 “The Fire Trials” (A-)

I had almost forgotten that this show was coming back, and I was so excited when I realized it was since it’s still the show that I get most excited about watching on a weekly basis. This premiere was truly terrific, tying up a few loose ends from last season that make this season’s upcoming developments infinitely more enticing. Opening with Lucas, Brock, and Siobhan tracking down Emmett’s killer and executing him was a very fitting way to start, especially since his death has still been haunting me as an overly dark occurrence that feels too bleak, even for a show like this. Brock has become quite intense with his new beard and attitude, and his visit to his ex-wife’s house and their angry sex was certainly serious. It seems inevitable that all of the violence of late has transformed him and is going to lead to a break at some point in the near future. Showing Carrie in bed with her new man and Lucas and Siobhan in his dump of a place was a neat fake-out, and it looks like Carrie has her new life under control, even if it involves waiting on her old friends and breaking the occasional rude redneck’s nose. Kai and Rebecca being found naked in bed together demonstrates that they are now unconditionally allied with one another, and Chayton’s chokehold conversation with Rebecca indicates that there is serious trouble coming. Chayton’s revenge plan seems much broader, and killing marines with arrows is definitely an impactful way to go about it. I love that a lack of cooperation from the marines logically led to Lucas deciding that the base should be the next target for his crew, and I can only imagine the trouble that will stir up. I remembered that Alex’s sister Nola made quite an impression when she first appeared, and seeing her return at the end of the episode with the same fury as Chayton but distinctly different goals means that the quiet Sugar has been enjoying is going to be gone for quite a long time starting right now.

Pilot Review: Babylon

Babylon (Sundance)
Premiered January 8 at 10pm

To call this a pilot review isn’t really accurate since this isn’t actually this show’s pilot. My trusted episode titles source,, along with further research, indicates that this Channel 4 UK show aired a 90-minute pilot in February and then its six-episode first season this past November. SundanceTV opted just to air the six episodes, skipping the pilot and launching right into the first season, reminiscent of when Cinemax picked up the second season of “Strike Back” without ever airing the first. Both of SundanceTV’s original series, “Rectify” and “The Red Road,” were intriguing and grew on me, and so I opted to check this out, and I’m very glad I did. There’s no easy way to categorize this show, which is actually more of a comedy than a drama, following police cases but with a deeply satirical slant. A neighbor requesting police help assembling a chair while they were barging into a criminal’s apartment is entertaining and ridiculous to be sure, but what really had me cracking up was when a prison riot led to specific pizza orders and some rather disturbing imagery about where pizzas might end up in relation to the guards if the demands were not met. It’s interesting to see American Brit Marling at the head of this show, though she certainly has the right personality to play an unconventional communications director with no interest in being talked down to by others. I liked her in “The East” and I think this is a perfect follow-up role. James Nesbitt is terrific as the no-nonsense police commissioner who feels like he’s right out of “In the Loop.” It’s also fun to see Nick Blood, who also stars on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as Lance Hunter, as one of the cops. This show definitely feels like it’s worth six episodes, and though I had no such plans to keep watching when I first sat down, I’ll definitely be continuing now.

How will it work as a series? I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The creative minds of Danny Boyle, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, who have been responsible for “The Thick of It” and “Four Lions,” among other things, should be able to produce some truly unique and enjoyable hours based on this first one. I already feel compelled to track down a British copy of the pilot to see how this show got its official start.
How long will it last? That I’m not sure about. I can’t find any record of whether Channel 4 has renewed the show in the UK, but I think that the timing of this show ridiculing the police is far from ideal in the United States, which could lead Sundance to part with it after one season. Let’s hope that’s not the case, and I still have some faith that the network will want to stick with it.

Pilot grade: B+