Thursday, April 30, 2015

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 1, Episode 20 “The Trap” (B+)

Things have changed in an irreversible way, and it’s going to be interesting to see where things go from here. This episode put a lot of importance on last names, and told us more than a few things that will be extremely useful to know going forward. Discovering that the byline about the Flash being killed was by Iris West-Allen is quite informative, especially since Eddie, who’s rather clueless, was ready to propose to her in this episode. Joe coldly refusing Eddie’s request for his permission to marry his daughter seemed out of character, but it’s nice to know that he’s rooting for Barry. It seems that Eddie has a larger role to play in things then we might have expected, as a gleeful application of his last name to Iris’ name was later connected by Joe to Eobard, who is apparently a descendant of Eddie’s. That’s something I didn’t expect, and I don’t know nearly enough about the mythology of this universe to know anymore, and I’d rather not research it so that I can be genuinely surprised. Sending in the captured shapeshifter to play him and walk through the force field was an impressive move, and now Wells, which I think I’ll continue to call him because he still wears his face, is now in the wind and gunning for Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin despite his affection for them. I’m sure that the final few episodes of this season will be plenty exciting and build up to an immense and transformative finale.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 1, Episode 20 “Chapter Twenty” (B)

This episode was fine and fun, but I’m not quite as excited about where the plot is headed at the moment. I’m sure I’ll be fine with it once the season ends and it starts again in the fall, but Rafael choosing the hotel over Jane so that he can be successful just doesn’t really track too much with everything we know about him. Jane suing for sole custody is also a surprise, and it seems to have do mostly with Rafael’s refusal to honor her request that Petra be removed from the hotel, something which isn’t so reasonable given the fact that she and Rafael are business partners. Luisa’s return definitely threw that all into whack, as she got her new girlfriend Juicy Jordan a plum wrestling gig and began to wreak havoc everywhere. This episode did do a terrific job of incorporating both its percentiles and its wrestling visualizations. Measuring Jane’s anger level and Petra’s interest level in percentiles was great, and I like that this show uses some device like that, albeit a different one each time, almost every episode. Mommy Long Legs sparring with De La Vengeance was probably my favorite pairing of the imagined wrestling matches, though Jane’s Pregnant Punisher was a close runner-up. It’s good to see Rogelio back on top, especially because he ascended there in such dramatic fashion. Dina showing up with cupcakes and reminding Rogelio that he was the one who has been tweeting about the show’s declining ratings since his departure was particularly amusing sweet revenge.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 4, Episode 3 “Data” (B+)

This show has always been very adept at addressing current issues that are considerably more serious in real life with a humorous, skewering slant. The juxtaposition of Selina having to deal with the personal details of the girl with AIDS being leaked and her casual request to the press to go easy on her daughter was pretty startling, and, as with most things that catch Selina by surprise, she was not at all pleased to learn about it. Catherine complaining about being bullied by her mother not to speak out about being bullied was particularly hilarious. The hunt for a scapegoat was a rough one but Ben seemed completely ready to take the fall and step down. That would have been a shame since he’s one of the strongest characters, most memorable in this scene for his seriously-uttered remark that Dan was having an erotic dream and that he and Kent were about to turn into women and start making out. Dan, on the other hand, is better when he’s seen scrambling, trying to make sense of everything he’s learning from his three iPads. I’m sure he won’t be gone for long, and I’m eager to see what he does next. I like the relationship between Jonah and Richard, one that is defined mainly by neither having any real clue what the other actually means when he says anything. We don’t see much of Sue anymore, and her brief report with her brother-in-law’s update about his organization pulling out was well worth the short screen time and chance to hear her deadpan delivery.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 2, Episode 3 “Bad Money” (B+)

This show is quite a rollercoaster, taking its characters from top of the heap to bottom of the barrel and then bolstering them up again just in the course of three episodes so far this season. Casting Chris Diamantopoulos as the new investor in Pied Piper is pure genius, and Russ Hanneman might as well be a slightly more egocentric version of Caster Soto, the character he played on “Episodes” in season three. He truly is a maniac, raving about how he put radio on the internet and then arriving at Erlich’s home ready to derail the whole process with distractions galore before spending $30,000 on meaningless billboards and taking it out of their cuts. The notion of Dinesh and Gilfoyle having twelve and eleven-person teams is mind-boggling, and even three underlings per person would be quite the change. It’s going to be hard for Pied Piper and its inventors to survive now that Russ has revealed himself to be insane, and I’m eager and nervous to see how that plays out. Gavin comparing billionaires to Jews in the Holocaust was fully preposterous, and his complete lack of self-awareness is what makes him such a formidable and frightening character. His plan to build up Big Head and make him seem like an inarguable genius is fantastic, and watching him walk around cluelessly while his intellect was described was extremely entertaining. Something tells me that he’ll be a terrible patsy, but it’s sure to cause plenty of headaches for Richard and his friends nonetheless.

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 11 “Time and Life” (B+)

This is damn good television, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll admit I’m at a loss about who owns Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce these days and how it all led to what happened in this episode. It feels like so long ago that Bert Cooper sat Harry down and told him that he could come with them to their new firm or they could lock him in a closet all weekend, and I’m not entirely sure what’s happened since then. It’s strange to think of this group as independent since they’ve seemed like a true era-defining corporation, and now the five New York partners are going to go from being top dogs to average workers in a position that might be desirable to anyone else without their prior experience. Don pitching a Los Angeles office and getting shut down immediately was disheartening, especially since he can usually smooth-talk his way out of anything, and the reaction of the entire office when they broke the news was messy. As this all played out, we’re continuing to get useful snippets of different characters’ home lives, with Pete heading out to punch someone who didn’t admit his daughter to school and Peggy worrying that kids don’t like her. It’s nice to know that Joan’s new beau was ready to get on a plane at a moment’s notice when he found out that she needed him, and it’s a relief that at least one of these mad men (and women) has a decent shot at a happy ending.

Pilot Review: Happyish

Happyish (SHO)
Premiered April 26 at 9:30pm

I’m usually a fan of Showtime comedies, knowing full well that they’re sometimes not all that funny, opting for a darker take on comedy instead. This show definitely goes in that direction, casting Steve Coogan in a role that was originally supposed to be played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. There’s no denying that Coogan’s Thom Payne is extremely angry, and he’s ready to curse out Thomas Jefferson, America, and everything else that gets in his way to make it known that he doesn’t want to settle for his miserable existence. I’m curious to see what Hoffman would have been like in the role since it’s not as easy to warm up to Coogan, or rather that Hoffman might have been so fantastically despicable in a way that Coogan’s hyper British demeanor can’t quite allow him to be. I’d also love to see Kathryn Hahn given a meatier role, though I did enjoy her quickness to tell another parent off when she tried to give her parenting advice. Bradley Whitford seems like the most solid and well-cast member of the ensemble, a bitter supervisor who doesn’t feel entitled to the same kind of outburst as Thom despite his similar feelings. This show feels a lot like the workplace version of “Togetherness,” a quiet show about people just waiting to explode. This first episode wasn’t an enticing or intriguing as I might have hoped, but Showtime usually proves dependable, and I’m more than willing to give this show at least a few more tries before I abandon it altogether.

How will it work as a series? This show has an intellectual undercurrent that should serve it very well, intent on underlining the fact that these characters’ states of being are rooted in history and circumstance. I think this could well be a strong show that may ultimately have nothing to do with its premise.
How long will it last? It’s all a question of whether Showtime wants to invest in it. The reviews haven’t been great, with many doubting the enduring positivity of this show and its general quality. This won’t be a ratings smash, surely, but I think that Showtime will still opt to give it another shot and see where it goes in a second season.

Pilot grade: B-

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 6, Episode 20 “The Deconstruction” (C)

So, in the end, Alicia resigned even though she did nothing wrong, and it’s as if her entire political plotline was a waste of time. She’s back to legal antics, trying to renegotiate her partnership at the firm she started with two partners who weren’t even part of the initial break and basing everything she did on false information that made her think that Diane was out to get her. I don’t really see the point anymore, since all the infighting is taking away from their able to actually take clients and try cases. And they even decided that it wasn’t worth reinvesting in Alicia because Reese decided that she was a corrupt Chicago politician and he’d be taking his business elsewhere if she was rehired. What a mess. I did enjoy the reunion of two “The Big C” stars, Oliver Platt as Reese and Phyllis Somerville as the woman facing a mandatory minimum sentence for a crime of which she was evidently not guilty. As with Cary’s trial, pretrial services officer Joy wasn’t much help. And then there’s Kalinda, who rather selfishly pinned the blame for turning on Bishop on a patsy and then blew town so that he would presumably killed and Cary would be left to pick up the pieces. Kalinda’s exit has been so drawn out and feels so sudden at the same time, and it’s a shame given that she used to be one of the show’s best and most consistently interesting characters. Josh Charles’ time spent on the show when he knew he was leaving was among his best; why wasn’t Archie Panjabi’s like that?

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3 “High Sparrow” (B+)

How times have changed, with Margaery no longer afraid of the woman who swore to kill her if she ever called her sister again and now content to mock her new husband’s sexual eagerness to her handmaidens and even tease him in front of his mother. It’s interesting how this wedding happened entirely unceremoniously, signifying Tommen’s insignificance, but honestly he is a good match for Margaery since he is kind to her and treats her well, and she’ll now be able to exercise whatever influence she needs as long as she plays her cards well. Cersei is truly set on still having an active role and influence, seeking out Jonathan Pryce’s intriguing High Sparrow and sending word to Petyr with unmistakable instructions. It was about time Tyrion had some human interaction with someone other than Pycell, but unfortunately it didn’t take him long to get kidnapped by Jorah, who hopefully is taking him exactly where he’s supposed to go in an effort to appeal to Daenerys’ forgiving tendencies. Jon quite unexpectedly did not go that route, preparing a dissenter’s execution to intimidate him and the people and then slicing off his head even after he pleaded for mercy. The best quote of the hour came from Stannis, who decreed that anyone who recommended keeping your enemies close didn’t have many enemies. The idea of Ramsay and Sansa as a couple is strange, though maybe it will make him less of a monster and her more able to assert himself.

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 3, Episode 2 “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” (B)

After last week’s big opener, this episode didn’t deliver on most of what we found out then, driving the plot forward only a little bit to demonstrate just what these male clones are capable of. Rudy emotionlessly shooting Seth when he saw that he was glitching is extremely important because it contradicts the care and compassion that Sarah and the other female clones have expressed for Cosima’s health, Helena’s freedom, and other clone clauses. There’s no debating that Cal is a good guy, and though an expensive apartment in the city was a nice thought, taking Kira far away from all this is probably the best plan. It’s hard to figure out where Paul truly stands at this point, coming over to see Rudy and Seth as a business transaction and then breaking into Cal’s place to threaten him. These experiments in which the clones are asked to weigh a conclusion based on two facts are intriguing, and nothing beats Helena asking where the mangoes are for more clarity on the subject. She doesn’t seem to believe that Sarah and the others have abandoned her, but she is being spoken to by a scorpion, so things aren’t all great there. I eagerly look forward to Allison becoming the number one drug-dealing soccer mom since Nancy Botwin, and I love that it’s how she plans to win her class trustee election. Let’s just hope Donnie doesn’t screw it all up by trying too hard to play it cool and seem hip.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Take Three: Daredevil

Daredevil: Season 1, Episode 3 “Rabbit in a Snow Storm” (B)

This episode is starting to really bring things together, as we get a sense of how Matt functions as a lawyer and as Daredevil, taking cases that he knows involve defending corrupt people for corrupt organizations and then confronting the man he has just freed to interrogate him about who both of them are truly working for. This show definitely has a stylized nature to it, with John strolling in to the bowling alley to kill a mob boss, being assured earlier that the gun will work, and then manually disposing of the mob boss before surrendering himself to the cop. Foggy had no clue how to process his casual consideration of what argument sounded best, and his legal vocabulary truly was impressive. This show features a very old-fashioned sense of the law, with prepared speeches and pleas to morality included, and I think that works well. There’s also a violent undercurrent, most notable in the beating of the mob boss and in John’s self-impalement once he gave up the name of his employer. A bald Vincent D’Onofrio staring at a blank painting certainly is intimidating, and I’m eager to see more of Wilson Fisk’s temperament going forward. Karen pushing to get the truth out and teaming up with Ben is going to cause trouble for both of them, but I suspect that a very perceptive Matt may be able to intervene to keep them both alive for the time being, even if their persistence does inevitably put them in harm’s way.

What I’m Watching: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1, Episode 8 “Kimmy is Bad at Math!” (B-)

The first time Dong appeared on this show, he seemed like a character destined to be a regular player in this universe. His relationship with Kimmy is great in that he has his own warped sense of the world that comes from his mistranslation of many things, and he too latches on only to certain aspects of people’s personalities, failing to correctly interpret the intricacies of what they are trying to convey. Kimmy’s math skills are certainly poor, and it’s fun to see the two of them unintentionally helping each other to improve, which is useful particularly since Kimmy made numerous big mistakes giving change for the deliveries she helped take from Dong. Money played into Jacqueline’s new life as she realized that she wasn’t nearly as well set as she could have been at just the right time, and it’s good to see someone like Jacqueline, however ridiculous she is, get the chance to feel like she’s on top again, ejecting her fake friend who had been invited over as a way to show Jacqueline that single life isn’t that bad. Titus walking around New York City in a werewolf costume and finding that he was treated better than he was as a black man is exactly the kind of exaggerated humor that doesn’t do it for me, complete with an overdramatic unstoppable transformation process that killed his costume at just the moment that his neighborhood was about to be gentrified. At least the timing was right on target.

What I’m Watching: House of Cards

House of Cards: Season 3, Episode 9 “Chapter 35” (B+)

I forget sometimes just how sensationalist this show is, though it’s rarely about the politics and more about the sex, as evidenced by the introductory scene with Kate and Tom having sex with a campaign button for Frank hanging nearby. Kate is doing her very best to piss off the president, and he’s responding aggressively to her questions and to the fact that she just won’t give up. I suspect he won’t be happy at all to discover that Tom has a personal relationship with her, as it might make him paranoid that he is divulging secrets of their interactions. The latest developments with the Russians and the Jordan Valley are certainly disconcerting, especially since Claire was told that it was the Russians who killed their own people so that they could pull out and blame the Americans for being uncooperative and forcing them into a dangerous situation. Doug discovering that Rachel is dead still doesn’t seem finite, but it did get him an audience with the president, which is a big deal. The most notable part of that was Frank calling Dunbar and threatening her life if she ever stressed Doug out again. The joke’s on him, of course, since she was taking the time to sit with the would-be supporter that Frank had Remy drive to the airport. That didn’t go well either, and it’s clear that Remy is not over Jackie, which should complicate things given their close working relationship and her future role as vice-president for Frank’s second term.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

What I’m Watching: The Red Road

The Red Road: Season 2, Episode 4 “A Cure” (B+)

Things are happening fast, even if it doesn’t seem like they’re moving all that quickly. Harold went in to work thinking that he was in trouble for responding to the Lenape call against protocol, and it turned almost right away into his being made captain, something he obviously was not expecting. The mayor responding to his plea to review how Lenape calls are handled was also much more optimistic than he might have thought, and it should be an interesting road going forward. Finding out immediately that there is something big that his predecessor was covering up about the water being poisoned, leading to all the cancer that has spread, is hardly a desirable thing to step into, and he’s going to have to be careful about who he decides to trust with this news. Philip is an interesting ally, coming by to see Jean but actually to report something to the FBI, and then leaving with the assignment of getting his father family photos as a substitute for the $20,000 Harold was never going to give him. Junior’s father burst onto the scene with an immediate axe to grind with Philip, and now it looks like Junior is leaving town to see what it’s like to have a real father. It looks like Lisa Bonet is going to be sticking around this show on a more regular basis as Sky indicated to Philip that she wants to be chief, something that’s sure to come between her and Marie and not help ease external tensions at all.

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 3, Episode 21 “Under My Skin” (B+)

I’ve always been a fan of Alfredo, and it’s good to see him as a focus of sorts for this episode. He didn’t actually appear all that much, but he was a part of the hour’s most poignant scene. Telling Sherlock that they weren’t friends prompted a very interesting response from the police consultant who doesn’t tend to value personal relationships. His willingness to can Alfredo as his sponsor so that he could invest instead in their friendship and helping to ensure that he didn’t get sent to prison or slip back into addiction was sweet, and it prompted an immediate reply from Alfredo that wasn’t terribly warm but indicated an acceptance of the dissolution of their professional connection and a transformation into a personal one. The main case was a fearsome one with a scared injured woman pleading for her life to no avail when her paramedics were shot because she too was killed and left with no organs. It’s a worrisome concept to think that people fly to foreign countries for weight loss surgeries only to be unknowingly outfitted as drug mules. As a plotline on this show, it was very effective, and served as one of the more involving recent mysteries. This show has been featuring the actual commission of a crime at the start of a number of episodes this season, and I like that as a device to introduce the case since it provides some important information but still leaves plenty to be deduced over the course of the episode.

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 6, Episode 20 “Knock ‘Em Down” (C)

This episode was mildly entertaining, but all of its plotlines were hard to latch on to in terms of both their believability and their uncreative nature. Mitchell and Cameron trying hard to be exciting and to stay out late was pretty much just a plotline, yet it was dragged out to them trying to pump themselves up with loud music and make Haley think that they were actually up for going to a bar at 10:30 for a band that wasn’t even going to go on stage until midnight. Haley calling them fifty because she was bad at math was the only worthwhile part of all that. Jay having to flounce around to pretend that he was a gay man was silly, and it’s appalling that after Cameron told him that he needed to pretend so that the league wouldn’t throw them out, he thought it would be a good idea to spill the beans to his arch-nemesis. It’s always fun to see Oliver Platt, but I’d have preferred him to have a much more sophisticated role than someone trying to sniff out a straight man and then falling for Cameron’s excuse that Jay had a crush on him. The mere existence of Steve Zahn’s Ronnie and Andrea Anders’ Amber is a disservice to this show, especially considering their earlier TV roles on “Treme” and “Better Off Ted,” and the notion that they are fancy wine drinkers whose son has to settle for going to Julliard is more than a bit far-fetched.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 1, Episode 6 “Virtual Reality Bites” (B+)

Both this show and its episode titles continue to be fantastic, and I enjoyed this hour immensely. Credit is due to Rose McIver for fully getting into the antics and specificities of the traits that Liv inherits on a weekly basis for her new dose of brains, and this episode was especially fun. Her craving for donuts was just the beginning, and I like how into the video game world she got, which ultimately led to interrogating another player and then revealing the face behind the screen, which turned out to be a teenage boy. Liv’s mom definitely didn’t know what to make of her daughter’s apparent new obsession, though she hit the nail on the head when she expressed some delight at the fact that it was the most into anything that she’d seen her be in a long time. The revelation of why the awful hacker-critic was murdered was actually quite compelling, and I’m impressed with how this show handles its cases. Jackie killing her delivery boy because he didn’t arrive with the brains she needed put Clive onto the scent of something fishy going on in Blaine’s store, and it didn’t take long for Ravi and Liv to put things together too. He’s been turned into an unapologetic villain, murdering Major’s kids and making a profit off of it. Let’s hope that Liv has her new zombie boyfriend to turn to for help once she officially goes to war with the only other major official zombie player in town.

Friday, April 24, 2015

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 2, Episode 18 “The Frenemy of My Enemy” (B)

This episode’s title is perfectly emblematic of the fact that this show isn’t ever quite sure whether it’s supposed to be funny or serious, and often gets caught somewhere in the middle. This was another packed hour which saw everyone running in different directions and converging in the most chaotic of ways. I have trouble believing that Coulson would so easily team up with Ward and that he would go along with it, even treating Coulson like his boss again. I do think it’s a good place for Ward to be, and also to have Agent 33 only partially on their side. Yet Gordon swooping in to take Skye away and May and Simmons getting picture just at the very moment that Coulson and Ward seemed like buddies felt a bit convenient, and there’s no way that things turn out positively going forward, especially since May has decided to trust Bobbie. Given the doubt that both Bobbie and Mack are expressing, it’s probably not the worst idea, but who has time for extra bureaucracy when so much is happening so quickly? And where does Cal fall in all this, weirdly obsessed with ice cream and other novelties that don’t seem to exist in Milwaukee anymore? This show’s signature tone did succeed well in the opening scene in which Fitz was running away from his tail and Coulson got the satisfaction of laughing at one of the agents as they ran right into the invisible bus, an understandable mistake yet a funny one nonetheless.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 1, Episode 19 “Who Is Harrison Wells?” (B+)

This is a strange title for this episode given the fact that the origins of Harrison Wells only make up about a third of the episode. That said, our friends have come very close to the truth, as they realize that the site of his car accident has something to do with time travel and that he has a newspaper in his secret room with a headline about the Flash from 2024. It’s hard to believe that he doesn’t have a camera either at his door or near the secret room in Star Labs, but I guess he just feels a sense of security given that he’s so much more advanced than everyone around him. Additionally, it seems likely that he inherited some humanity from Wells and that he has grown to care about Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry even if his initial motivations were purely malicious. I guess Barry has been doing some appearing on “Arrow” in addition to some of that show’s characters stopping by here, as evidenced by Laurel’s knowledge of his identity. She definitely wasn’t the Black Canary yet back when I watched that show, but it was a treat to see Cisco get so excited about helping her with a part of her suit. Joe bonding with her father was undoubtedly very cathartic. There isn’t much that’s cooler than a shapeshifter, and Hannibal served as a fantastic nemesis for this hour. Kissing Caitlin was one highlight, but I think cycling through his many stolen faces after Barry gave him the serum was the strongest moment.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 1, Episode 19 “Chapter Nineteen” (B)

Things were going so well just a few episodes ago, and now everything has pretty much fallen apart. Jane imagining past versions of herself and of Rafael make their breakup all the more difficult to bear, especially since Rafael seems so uninterested in the idea of getting back together. Their session with Nia Vardalos’ therapist didn’t help much, even it did provide some entertainment as they described the particularities of their relationship. Losing Rafael is going to be an enormous blow to Jane and to her spirit, and Michael is waiting in the wings to swoop right back in after learning that Andie is a stalker and that his partner helped Sin Rostro. I would have thought that he and Petra might end up together, but maybe that’s not in the cards. I love that Roman’s plotline ended with a dramatic “Zaz! Impaled! Again” Jane’s love life isn’t going well, and it looks like Xiomara’s is headed for a bad place too after Rogelio got kissed by Jane Seymour’s Amanda and told Xiomara about it, which prompted her to reveal her stolen kiss with Marco. That I feel like Rogelio will be able to get over, but it’s still worrisome to see his reaction to the news. Alba recognizing Magda means an impending return to some old drama, but it should prove worthwhile since this show always manages to incorporate just the right amount of soapiness. Jane and Petra could use each other as friends at this moment, but seeing them as unintentional nemeses could be just fine too.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 4, Episode 2 “East Wing” (B+)

Leave it to this show to have an episode featuring the Israeli prime minister that doesn’t have anything to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, it’s all about the mishaps of Selina’s administration, which continue to appear insignificant in nature but then get hilariously blown out of proportion. The decision to remove an ugly painting that happens to be the only work of art by a Native American artist in the White House was one such thing, and Gary’s excessive spending on the reception was another. Selina is not a nice person, and she was digging into Gary in a cruel way when she was berating him for his spending. Fortunately, it turned awkward and forgiving pretty quickly, resulting in some bonding over the consumption of the light sponge cake Gary had made in celebration of Selina exceeding William Henry Harrison’s term in office. The hiring of Dierich Bader’s Bill Ericsson should prove interesting, and its first two effects, Jim being told that Bill was hired to replace him and Mike seeing side-by-side photos of him with his colored mustache and him without it, are certainly worth the addition so far. The pairing of Jonah and Richard is perfect since Jonah will soon tire of Richard’s combination of idiocy and oblivious good nature. Kent volunteering to talk to Catherine about the fact that she is so unlikeable after everyone else tried to get out of it was fun, and I enjoyed their straightforward conversation and the episode-ending ceremony Catherine compared to the end of “Star Wars.”

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 2, Episode 2 “Runaway Devaluation” (B+)

It’s impressive to see just how far Pied Piper has fallen after it was on such a high to the point that Richard had to negotiate the terms he was offered down in order to lower expectations. Now, they have nowhere to go, and Erlich did such a stupendous job alienating everyone with his insulting demeanor that no one has any interest in even considering the idea of working with them. It seemed that after a number of botched meetings, the last one might actually go well with Richard and Erlich going in with the right attitude and apologizing right off the bat, but it so happened that the guy they were meeting with was more interested in putting his testicles on the table since Erlich did it the week before. Jared’s lead also proved to be unhelpful since it was just someone trying to steal the science behind Pied Piper, yet another threat to their success. Gavin contacting Richard and meeting up with him was a twist, and I love that we don’t know what Richard was going to say because the mariachi band showed up and starting playing awkwardly over the entire end credits. Monica being told to dress unattractively was entertaining, especially since her new boss had a specific outfit in mind, and I enjoyed hearing Ben Feldman’s Ron basically telling Richard that he’s a terrible lawyer. Dinesh’s cool cousin made a truly stupid app in Bro, and it seems like Gilfoyle’s eternal desire to make Dinesh’s life miserable may have just cost them both a lot of money.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 10 “The Forecast” (A-)

I really like how this show is handling its final season, taking dedicated time to wrap up a few important threads and explain just where some of its characters have ended up after all these years. The notion of Don seeing his empty apartment as a creative opportunity for the realtor and prospective buyers to imagine what they would do with the space speaks to where Don is at the moment, as he said to Ted, with less to do and more to think about. Coming home to a pending sale after effortlessly mediating a squabble between Pete and Peggy and then helping to get Mathis fired because he didn’t want to spell out his advice drove home the fact that he’s really not sure where he’s headed anymore. Sally has such great attitude, and she managed to skewer both her parents and make them feel like terrible people before leaving for her teen tour. Glenn’s reappearance was an awkward but welcome one, especially since Betty didn’t even recognize him. It was great to see Betty enjoy her west coast visit despite a steely welcome from Lou, and Bruce Greenwood’s Richard was quite the charmer. It seemed like divorce was the only obstacle in their whirlwind romance, and then he blew it all by saying that he didn’t want kids at this point in his life. But then he followed it up by showing up with flowers to apologize and take it back, a wonderful gesture that feels like an overdue and very deserved sentiment for Joan. I love that, so many years after alienating his secretary by telling her to write her own recommendation that he’d sign, Don actually bothered to try to help Peggy by reviewing her performance, but his outlook on life managed to make her angrier than not being reviewed at all.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 2 “The House of Black and White” (B+)

It’s always a thrill when characters on this show who never have the chance to interact come closer to meeting each other for the first time, or better yet, even have the opportunity to speak. Podrick recognizing Sansa in the pub was exciting, though Brienne failed pretty miserably to convince her that she should do good on her promise to her mother and protect her. Podrick made a great point that she might be free since both Stark girls had refused her offer of protection, but it doesn’t seem likely that Brienne will give up anytime soon. It was inevitable that Jon Snow was going to be elected commander of the Night’s Watch, and now he may even manage to become a lord, renamed Jon Stark and ready to anoint Stannis as the rightful new king. Cersei is doing a formidable job of alienating her father’s lieutenants, and she’s making more enemies than ever. Alexander Siddig’s Doran Martell seems intent on thinking before acting to avenge his brother, despite the violent and vengeful tendencies of his late brother’s wife Ellaria, who I don’t think I ever noticed was played by Indira Varma of “Human Target.” It’s taking Tyrion a long time to get to Daenerys as he complains about being in a box, and it looks like he’ll arrive at just the time to help advise a ruler whose people are revolting despite her best intentions to mete out justice in a fair way. He could also use some help of his own given how many dwarves Cersei is having executed. Arya being reunited with Jaqen is a relief since she didn’t seem to be doing much upon her arrival.

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black (Season Premiere)

Orphan Black: Season 3, Episode 1 “The Weight of This Combination” (B+)

It’s a truly impressive thing when a show that started off great continues to evolve and turns itself into something completely different. The introduction of a line of male clones in the season two finale was a big deal, and it could have unraveled what’s best about this show. Instead, the males are being defined as having developed into a much more sinister, vicious brood, so keenly aware of who they are and who the females are that they have been hunting them. I’m already having trouble keeping track of each of them, but I’m very impressed with Ari Millen, who is playing all of them. It’s so interesting to see how Delphine has risen and changed into a power player, swooping in to take charge and pressing down on Rachel’s wounded eye to compel her to give up information. The only casualty is her relationship with Cosima, which is heartbreaking to watch dissipate, but it does give Sarah a considerable advantage. Sarah playing Rachel didn’t end up being funny but instead extremely intense, and she did a good job of reading James Frain’s Ferdinand and playing into what he wanted before nearly choking him to death. I’m amused at the idea of Allison running for class trustee, and look forward to that campaign, which I’m sure that Donnie will be very involved in now that he’s quit his job. The opening scene with the happy barbecue seemed far too bright to be real, and discovering that Helena, who has gone from this show’s top villain to one of its most endearing elements, is trapped in a box is unsettling, and let’s hope that her sisters rescue her soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pilot Review: The Messengers

The Messengers (CW)
Premiered April 17 at 9pm

The CW has been on a hot streak lately with three of its new programs this season, but it would be too much to expect that everything the network offered now would be terrific. Enter this show, which has something to do with people being transformed and apparently the devil and the apocalypse. That’s not a premise that seems remotely intriguing to me, but it’s also not one I would have gathered before the end of the pilot episode since there isn’t much clarity or coherence to everything that’s going on. This reminded me of a paler version of “The After,” the Amazon series that was picked up for a full season and then taken off the table before any additional episodes were produced beyond the pilot. I think there might be some compelling elements to this show, but the way that it’s constructed now, there are far too many pieces of the puzzle that just don’t seem worth assembling. The religious aspect is too strong with the preacher with a massive following but a higher power above him telling him that he needs to reel in his individualistic nature, and I can’t imagine that dealing with a custody dispute where the mother and daughter are both now angels, perplexing enough in itself, will prove to be interesting in the long term. I wouldn’t have expected to check back in to this show for another round, and this opening hour did absolutely nothing to make me pause to reconsider that decision.

How will it work as a series? A few of the angels have started to come together, and their own individual journeys will surely start to converge before long. This show is going to have a tough time managing everything and is going to have to depend on its loyal viewers to keep it all straight.
How long will it last? I wouldn’t worry about those loyal viewers since this show got off to an unimpressive start. Airing on Fridays was never promising, and debuting with a reality show starring Cedric the Entertainer didn’t help matters. The CW has enough boda fide successes, and it has no need for this underwatched series to get off the ground.

Pilot grade: D

Round Two: Daredevil

Daredevil: Season 1, Episode 2 “Cut Man” (B)

I get the feeling that this is exactly the kind of show that was made for Netflix, meant to be watched in one sitting so that it feels like it’s developing at a palatable rate. This is an origin story more than anything, and therefore it will be a while before we see a fully polished Daredevil running around the city. For now, it’s going to have to be a man in black hanging out in a dumpster. The introduction of Rosario Dawson’s Claire was well done because it presented someone who could easily have decided that the masked stranger she found was the one to trust over the cop at her door. I think she’ll prove a formidable addition to the show. It’s impossible to argue with the awesomeness of Matt’s abilities, listening to the footsteps of the corrupt cop and then dropping a fire extinguisher so that it would land right on him. Claire obviously got into it by suggesting somewhere that Matt could use to wound him enough to compel him to give up information but not kill him. I don’t expect that Claire and Karen will get along too well, though she’s doing an admirable job of bonding with one of her bosses. I think it’s useful for Karen to be out of her apartment and out in society, and Foggy could definitely use a friend. I’m eager to see more of the broader story develop outside of just these main characters and to see how the many villains of the city play into the grander tale.

What I’m Watching: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1, Episode 7 “Kimmy Goes to a Party” (B-)

This episode surprised me with its dark and dramatic turn at the very end of the episode, after Jacqueline spent the entire half-hour trying to prove that her husband was cheating with the woman who it turned out was helping him to build a robot that effectively managed to replace her. Digging a grave for the robot was the height of silliness, and then, all of a sudden, it became abundantly clear that he was having an affair with their therapist, who had previously been using the shame puppet to convince her that she was insane. Ending the episode with her taking the puppet and swearing at her husband was intense, and that makes me considerably more intrigued about this show. Otherwise, the episode was relatively standard. Titus getting invited to the party as the entertainment was a great way for our two favorite roommates to help each other out, and of course all of Titus’ efforts to impress the big Broadway producer in attendance who be for naught because he was actually just the owner of a theme restaurant. Xanthippe reveled in the opportunity to shame Kimmy and unmask her attempts to pretend to be part of high society, but that’s just Kimmy being Kimmy, unconcerned with such things as being wealthy and much more excited about the chance to get to play the part of someone else. That Logan was still interested in Kimmy after finding out the truth suggests that maybe she’s hit the jackpot and found a guy who might just help open her eyes to the world and not be turned off by her bunker past.

Monday, April 20, 2015

What I’m Watching: House of Cards

House of Cards: Season 3, Episode 8 “Chapter 34” (B+)

The framing of this episode was great, with two completely different stories about the same thing being written by Tom and Kate, each describing Frank Underwood and his marvelous ascent to power. Having the two of them get together and then sleep together underlined how differently the president can be perceived, and it’s fascinating to see them talk to each other about it. Frank’s presidency has not gone terribly smoothly, but a lot of that is due to the fact that Frank has being trying to bulldoze anyone who might get in his way as he always tends to do. An impending hurricane meant very bad news considering he reappropriated all the FEMA funds, and the fact that it didn’t make landfall was inconsequential since Frank had already signed the legislation to get the funding needed for it, effectively killing America Works. If anything, it was worse than the hurricane actually hitting since Frank’s behind-the-scenes machinations are becoming clearer to the general public. It’s hard to tell what Doug is up to, trying to feed information to Frank through an uncooperative Seth by suggesting that Dunbar get Jackie to agree to suspend both their campaigns to help with the disaster relief effort. It was intriguing to see Freddy again and to learn from him that, after his grandson got to sit in Frank’s chair in the oval office, all he wanted was the chance to work somewhere other than a kitchen. Inconsequential though it may have been, it was great to see Claire raise her hand to encourage others to defy Frank in a meeting. Frank’s reelection campaign begins now, and it’s going to be a beast of a thing.

Round Two: The Comedians

The Comedians: Season 1, Episode 2 “Come to the House” (C+)

The second installment of this show continues some of the problems of the first episode without really addressing them, and I fear that’s what we have to look forward to going forward. It couldn’t have been long before Billy and Josh were forced to socialize outside of work, and it was never going to go well. I like the casting of Dana Delany as Billy’s wife Sharon, since she obviously felt bad about casually inviting Josh over when that’s the furthest thing from what Billy would have wanted. Yet when he arrived right as the game was about to start, she still forced her unamused husband to give him the full tour of the house, opting to pause the game and watch it on the DVR. Josh didn’t help matters much by looking up things that happened later in the game and announcing them to those he was watching with, and walking in on Sharon was another big misstep. It looks like this is the last we’ll see of Steven Weber’s director, who had to chase down the impossibly awkward Kristen before revealing that he had feelings for Billy and not for her. It’s impossibly awkward but very entertaining to watch the dynamic between hapless head writer Mitch and lazy assistant Kristen, who failed multiple times to understand that she’s the one who is supposed to do coffee runs and not just put in her order with her boss as if he’s the one going out to do her a favor.

What I’m Watching: The Red Road

The Red Road: Season 2, Episode 3 “Intruders” (B+)

The aftermath of last week’s quietly deadly episode is an hour that feels very intimate and close, featuring just a few characters in their very personal interactions. I liked the pairing of Harold and Frank, who was not at all pleased to have to work with someone who he felt was prejudiced against him and his people from the start. Watching the two men punch each other and then continue on was both troubling and entertaining, and they actually did make a decent team even though they weren’t able to stay civil for even a minute, and Frank bringing up Jean’s recent past didn’t help matters. I couldn’t figure out where I recognized Nick Gomez, who played Frank, from, and a quick bit of IMDB research indicates that it’s probably for his two-episode role as a volatile prison inmate who clashed with the group on “The Walking Dead” a few seasons ago. The home invasion was quite intense and also extremely quick, and leave it to Philip to be casually driving by and to decide that ripping a car door off its hinges and using it as a shield against gunfire was the best idea. It did work, and it’s just a shame that Junior sent the perpetrators in the right direction since he didn’t know who they were. Jean battling the historical extent of her affliction was, as always, somewhat cathartic and somewhat of a step back, in this case as it made her question something she had always held to be true.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 3, Episode 20 “A Stitch in Time” (B)

This wasn’t the most enthralling episode, but what a trajectory! Initially it seemed like real estate scare tactics, then ghosts, and then terrorists whose voices some poor woman reported to have heard. What it actually was turned out to be far less incendiary, but it was still devious, giving a certain trader a distinct advantage over his competitors in terms of gaining crucial knowledge. It was hardly a surprise that Colin Eisley was the perpetrator, given that he was played by Eric Bogosian, an actor I recognize from a show I never watched, “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” He seemed overconfident and shady from the start, and therefore it wasn’t a stretch to believe that he was so driven to succeed and to overcome his law-troubled past that he would commit numerous crimes to do so. The subplot featuring Captain Gregson’s daughter Hannah felt like it came from out of left field, an unusual focus for this show, which so rarely highlights the family lives of any of its characters. Her previous appearance was equally random and oddly timed, and this one felt far less poignant since it was more about Hannah not being cut off for hard, arduous work and less about her fighting arduous and legitimate battles against sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace. Sherlock being so sure that she wasn’t cut out for the job of detective the entire time Watson was helping her felt unsupportive in an unproductive way, since she was really just trying to be a good friend to both Hannah and her father. Unfortunately, he was right, and now no one is really rooting for Hannah’s success.

What I’m Watching: Justified (Series Finale)

Justified: Season 6, Episode 13 “The Promise”

For most of this episode, you wouldn’t have even known that it was a series finale. Most shows go out with a two-hour finish or at least a super-sized final installment, but all this one needed was a standard hour to wrap up six seasons and nearly eighty episodes of Kentucky crime. That’s always been this show’s strength, understated to incredible effect. This episode started out with Raylan having considerable trouble talking his way out of his situation, with a humorless deputy ready to throw him in the trunk of his car. Art deciding to let Raylan go when he realized the absurdity of what was going on was a fortuitous but still risky development, and though it would have been entertaining to see Vasquez blow a gasket one last time, it’s probably for the best that he wasn’t featured at all. Instead, Boyd gave chase and started throwing handmade explosives at Tim, Rachel, and everyone else pursuing him, making it clear that he was the true villain. It didn’t take Boyd long to storm in and take out Avery, who was a formidable addition to this show’s final season. Raylan showing up at a moment where he had the perfect opportunity to shoot Boyd and feel like it was justified was tense, and fortunately he decided it wasn’t the right thing to do. He did still get his chance to have a good old-fashioned shootout with Boone, and though both men went down, they stayed that way as Loretta showed up to prevent Boon from getting his kill shot in and Raylan sat up just as Ava was driving away. Seeing a tranquil and casual Raylan spending time with his daughter four years later was very sweet, and it seems like he’s sufficiently out of harm’s way. Tracking down Ava even went well, and the revelation that she gave birth to Boyd’s child, aptly named Zachariah, exonerated her at least somewhat. The final scene was simple but great, as Raylan and Boyd had a friendly chat that all went back to the fact that, before it all, they dug coal together. As I said, this wasn’t a traditional finale, with barely any big deaths or farewells. That we saw a few ideas of who might have helped Ava get out but never got the real story is great. Thanking the people of Kentucky and the late Elmore Leonard was particularly appropriate and touching. This show definitely deserves a retrospective feature, one I hope to offer in advance of what I’d love to see be a generous and long overdue Emmy show of affection.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: A
Season MVP: Timothy Olyphant
Season grade: A-
Series MVP: Timothy Olyphant
Best Season: TBD
Best Episode: TBD

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 4, Episode 20 “Terra Incognita” (C+)

I’ve always liked this show and found it to be much better than it should have been given the nature of its procedural premise. Yet I do think that it got markedly better as it grew, and the addition of Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi in regular roles definitely improved it even further. I wasn’t fond of Taraji P. Henson’s Carter throughout the first two seasons of the show, and found her to be most compelling in season three right before she died. If I had a choice between Carter returning or Shaw returning, it wouldn’t even be a debate, and as a result this episode didn’t feel highly relevant, especially since a good portion of it was imagined. It did feel strange to see Reese and Carter having such an intimate conversation, and it’s an intriguing introspection on Reese’s part as he’s bleeding out that he falsely remember how close he got to her before realizing that he never let anything get mildly social or emotional. It’s obvious that he wouldn’t die, and so this episode felt a bit like a waste of time, with Root showing up in a wedding dress as a punchline and not much else being accomplished there. The featured case was disturbing to be sure, and the casting of Zachary Booth, who played Patti’s son Michael Hewes on “Damages,” as the lone surviving son of the murdered family was dead on as it pertains to both characters’ coldness and creepiness that make them seem much older than the young men they are.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Take Three: Weird Loners

Weird Loners: Season 1, Episode 3 “Weirded Out” (C)

I want to like this show, and I’ll admit that I do laugh sometimes while watching it, but I wish it was better and a bit more mature. It’s clear that Stosh is the most manipulative, dishonest person that has ever lived, yet everyone still finds him incredibly endearing in the end because of just how charming and devilish he is. Sneaking into Caryn’s apartment to steal every one of her groceries and then bring them back in as if he had bought them was well-intentioned only in that he cooked meals that he knew that she would like, but crude and deplorable in every other way. It was hard to tell whether Stosh was using Caryn’s therapy to work out his own real issues or whether he was merely using it as a distraction tactic to get himself back into Caryn’s good graces. She’ll bounce back, of course. Taking advantage of Eric is a far less defensible thing since he couldn’t hurt a fly and didn’t need to have his work friends disown him after the crappy knockoff TV that Stosh bought with the money left over from what he had to pay the guy who was going to take his kidneys fizzled out right as the game was about to start. Zara driving the van through the tollbooth multiple times so that Stosh could have the opportunity to apologize to Eric was less funny than the unintentional game of telephone that the tollbooth operators play because they can’t hear a thing.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 1, Episode 5 “Flight of the Living Dead” (B+)

Who comes up with the episode titles for this show? They’re pretty great. I liked the plot of this episode, featuring the people whose careers are sponsored by an energy drink that contractually obligates them to do stupid things while drinking it. Obviously that would be a bad idea, and it serves as a very interesting and engaging backdrop for the criminal activity going on that led to the murder of Liv and Peyton’s friend Holly. I was pleased to recognize Ryan Hansen of “Party Down” fame as Carson, the dim-witted prime suspect in the case. I did not recognize Summer Bishil, who I interviewed about her first film role in “Towelhead” back in 2008 along with director Alan Ball, as Eliza, the competitive energy drink company employee who ended up being revealed as the killer. It was disconcerting to see Major go up against Blaine’s new zombie deputy when he saw his sneakers and then get pummeled, and let’s hope that he isn’t too badly injured since Liv will not react well to that news. I enjoyed Liz’s response to the casual revelation that she was talking to another zombie and her subsequent contained joy at being thought of as attractive and romantically pursued by the charming Lowell. It’s good for her to have someone in her life who truly understands her, though Ravi tries hard to do so and does a decent job, though I think this could come at the worst possible time now that her former fiancé may be in dire shape.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 2, Episode 17 “Melinda” (B)

This was an intriguing episode that wasn’t necessarily overcrowded as the last handful of installments have been. Not featuring the elements of the other S.H.I.E.L.D. was a positive since this allows for an introspective focus on our core characters and an eye-opening spotlight on one of them. Seeing a smiling, warm May who was almost more chipper than Coulson was strange, though as soon as she got to Bahrain it was clear that things were going to turn sour. Some aspects of this show are unexpectedly creepy, and the little girl who could control people whose pain she wanted to feed off of was distinctly disturbing. May having to kill her to save the lives of everyone around her hit her hard, and it explains a lot about how she acts in the present day. It tied in nicely with Jiaying’s warning about going through the mist too young and knowing what to do with your newfound abilities. I found Jiaying’s revelation of her relationship to Skye and their subsequent family dinner far less emotional and strong than I would have hoped, but that dinner table provided a very crucial piece of information. Raina’s appearance may have changed for the worse, but her newfound ability – seeing into the future – is absolutely incredible, and very worrisome if used for evil rather than good. On a lighter note, I’m glad to see that Fitz is coherent enough to be able to elude his companions, open the box, and make communication with Coulson and Hunter, who seemed more than eager to be able to teach him how to escape from a locked bathroom.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 1, Episode 18 “All Star Team Up” (B)

When I don’t recognize a guest character on this show, I wonder whether it’s because I’m technically supposed to be watching “Arrow” in order to keep up with the larger universe of this show. I do like Felicity, and I enjoyed seeing Brandon Routh, who has become infinitely more charismatic since making his big debut in “Superman Returns” almost a day ago, as Ray, a billionaire who was incredibly excited about his new flying suit. The way he bonded with Cisco was fun, and it is great to see an expanded team here, with Felicity jumping in to help with the hacking. I do like the regulars – mainly Cisco and Caitlin – but it’s nice to see a broader, enhanced group as well. Barry serving as fifth wheel on the double date wasn’t awkward because of him but much more so because Iris chose that setting to confront Eddie about keeping secrets from her, and it’s a shame that Barry revealing his identity is partially responsible for this. Kudos to Barry for stepping up and defending Eddie, even if it didn’t completely convince Iris. I saw Emily Kinney’s name listed in the opening credits, and wouldn’t have recognized the “Walking Dead” actress otherwise since Brie Larvan barely spoke. Though I’m not sure how it’s possible, I’m thrilled that Cisco is having vivid dreams of his alternate timeline experience being killed by Dr. Wells, and while I’m worried that his life may be in danger, I’m deeply intrigued to see how that continues to play out.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 1, Episode 18 “Chapter Eighteen” (B+)

This episode leaned much more towards the melodrama, and it has a surprisingly heartbreaking and poignant ending considering the casual nature of Jane’s angel and devil representations constantly appearing on her shoulders. Things weren’t looking great for Rafael and Jane at the end of last episode because he was focused too much on his work, but who would have thought that an ill-timed visit from the mother who was paid off to not have a relationship with him would have soured him enough to suggest breaking up with Jane as the best possible course of action? Even if he regrets it and takes it back, Jane won’t have an easy time forgiving him. Could there be a worse time for Michael to be reconciling with his ex, who Jane now knows is her new best friend? At least there’s a silver lining in the fact that Rogelio came to his senses and banished Rita Moreno’s monster of a mother all on his own without having to be prompted, and I think that he and Xiomara should be able to get past the fact that she smooched Marco only minutes earlier. Alba learning that her new beau is a priest certainly changes things, and I’m curious to see where that odd plotline goes. And, logically, Petra’s life would have to be in danger on one of the rare occasions that we feel sympathy for her and there isn’t much to suggest that she has villainous intentions, while an apparently alive Roman may well not be planning something too nice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What I’m Watching: Veep (Season Premiere)

Veep: Season 4, Episode 1 “Joint Session” (B+)

It’s a pleasure to have this hilarious show back, with its main character now in the role of president but still far less secure and stable than one might expect and hope the leader of the free world would be. It’s great fun to see someone else playing second fiddle as vice president, literally racing to the White House to storm a meeting after not being told about it until it was too late for him to make it in time. Of course, that means that Gary is being shut out, separated from his bag and all of his bag man duties, and everyone else is focused on making sure that Selina represents herself well when they can’t even get numbering or lettering a speech right enough to provide her with the correct draft. I’m pleased to see two new members of the cast, Zak Orth from “Revolution” as speechwriter Jim and the incomparable Patton Oswalt as the VP’s chief of staff Teddy, who, like most others, does not like Jonah. I’m leaning towards Sam Richardson’s Richard as my favorite character of the moment, embodying stupidity at its finest at every turn. Diedrich Bader’s Bill Ericsson telling Amy that he may take her job was intense, and I’m sure she won’t go quietly. My favorite line in this episode comes down to a tie: “Can mice levitate” from Sue and “Kent majored in fortune cookies” from Ben, both masters of unamused sarcasm and experts in delivering this show’s particular witty and biting dialogue.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley (Season Premiere)

Silicon Valley: Season 2, Episode 1 “Sand Hill Shuffle” (B+)

This Emmy-nominated comedy, which took most of its truncated first season to grow into itself, is back for a much more self-assured second year, and, as it turns out, it has good ready to be in high spirits given that it has already been picked up for a third season. It’s interesting to see the aftermath of Pied Piper’s big launch, and how everyone is competing to try to woo their business. I highly enjoyed Erlich’s strategy of being as rude as possible to draw out competitive offers from different potential investors. His best remark was “One of you is the ugliest person I’ve ever seen,” prompting considerable skepticism from the two people to whom he had just uttered that offensive comment. Gavin was expectedly furious with how Pied Piper is doing, and leave it to him to make a big speech at a funeral only to have his lawsuit of the company he claims to have been involved in be announced at just that moment. It’s deeply sad that Christopher Evan Welch passed away, and this episode paid great tribute to him with a hilarious neverending story about how Peter died from Monica, who kept leading her listeners in the wrong direction. I love that she advised Richard not to take the overvaluation, and Laurie was quite flummoxed by him negotiating his terms in half so that his worth could be positively and accurately represented. Dinesh and Gilfoyle arguing over who was the CTO was fun as always, and it’s amazing to see just how much those two bicker.

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 9 “New Business” (B+)

This show is doing a mesmerizing job of tying up some of its loose ends and checking with in its more minor characters. We saw Betty, Henry, and Don’s younger kids only as they reaped the benefits of a wondrous homemade milkshake experience begun by Don before he had to leave. His budding but short-lived romance with Diana was well-timed with Megan’s return, which proved rather devastating and miserable for all involved. Don took a strong liking to Diana, and that alluring private relationship timed itself out pretty quickly as Diana realized that Don had hypnotized her into forgetting everything else about her life. Megan was cold and angry during her meeting with Don, in which he casually wrote her a check for one million dollars. Little did he know that Marie had decided to cart off all of his furniture as payment for his poor treatment of Megan, which incurred a surcharge that she naturally assigned over to Roger, who all too willingly showed up to do his part. It’s not as if there was even any juiciness when Megan walked in on her mother and Roger, rather just an anger and a sadness expressed with the utmost disapproval. Stan and Peggy being charmed by the same woman, played by the incomparable Mimi Rogers, was an entertaining subplot that gave us a much deeper view of Stan than we tend to get. The episode’s most amusing moment was definitely Pete’s horrified reaction to the news that Don would have to rent golf attire.

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 6, Episode 19 “Winning Ugly” (B-)

If nothing else, this episode was involving, proceeding its two main storylines along with determined focus as it didn’t really feature any subplots. My issue with both is that suddenly we’re back to Peter cheating in the election years ago and Cary having to testify against Bishop, two plot points that were featured way back, negating all of the progress the show and its characters have achieved since then. This idea of “the party” managed to bolster Alicia and then bring her down awfully quickly, with Ron Rifkin’s esteemed Mr. Randolph showing up to vigorously defend her before putting the blame on her husband and then ultimately outright lying to force Alicia to resign, all at the behest of the party. Alicia recording her conversation was smart, but unfortunately that meant that her subsequent and much more damning interaction was off the record, and now she appears to be out of a post after so much hard work and having done nothing wrong. Diane was understandably furious to find out what Kalinda had done, and it makes so much sense that Kalinda would be the one to testify against Bishop instead of her, especially since Kalinda came forward and shouldered all of the blame as she should have done. Somehow, the incompetent ASA’s office is still interested in bringing down every partner of this show’s featured firm. The dramatic readings by older men of Will and Alicia’s e-mails were decidedly awkward, and I’m not sure what to make of them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones (Season Finale)

Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 1 “The Wars of Come” (B+)

Talk about a show where there’s a lot going on, and where we might not even see characters for an entire season since too many other things are happening at the moment. This was a relatively intense premiere that brought back up some forgotten elements and sent a few major storylines in some fascinating new directions. I’m most excited to see the alliance brewing between Tyrion and Daenerys, two unlikely challengers to the throne who could be great for each other. Tyrion is going to have to be careful to choose allies that won’t turn on him, and Daenerys has to contend with unrest in her kingdom and the mysterious and disconcerting murder of one of the unsullied, in a brothel of all places. Jon getting an audience with Stannis and Davros was intriguing, as is the idea not of the Night’s Watch fighting for him but instead the Wildlings. Evidently, the Wildling “King of Lies,” as he was dubbed by Melisandre, was not eager to compromise his values to fight for another people, and he had to suffer the brutal fate of being burned at the stake. Opening with a flashback to a young Cersei talking to a witch about an eerily accurate fortune helped ground the subsequent funeral for her father, and it seems like she really has wrested control following his death, with Jaime sheepishly standing by and Margaery plotting a subtle rebellion that could take ages to manifest itself. It’s sure to be another dense and impressively packed season!

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys (Season Finale)

12 Monkeys: Season 1, Episode 13 “Arms of Mine” (B+)

The mark of a good season finale is delivering considerable intensity and payoff while also putting a number of new questions on the table. This finale definitely did that, even featuring a few things that likely won’t come up again but could well resurface at an inopportune moment. It was a big leap to see Cole and even Cassandra torturing Aaron, and his death in a fiery explosion was a harsh and unforgiving way for him to go out (but is he really dead?). Cassandra has definitely become a hardened person, and she’s past any sort of patience. Slapping Jennifer when she said that she couldn’t stand her talking because she didn’t have time to waste on her craziness was cruel, and unfortunately it seems that Jennifer was sending them right into a trap. What I love is how the creepy woman was describing how things happened because they were always going to happen and all is preordained, and then Cole made the choice to go back and save Ramsey instead, changing the course of the future. It was equally satisfying to hear Jones say that Cole was never coming back, and then all of a sudden Jennifer showed up, sent by Cole to the future to save her life. I have some serious questions with how the structure of time can be defended here, but I’m hooked, and I found this episode to be enormously exciting. Who are these blue babies, and are they the twelve monkeys? We’ll have to wait until next season to find out. While this show lagged a bit in its confused middle, the start and finish of the first season were well worth it.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Aaron Stanford as Cole

Pilot Review: Daredevil

Daredevil (Netflix)
Premiered April 10

It’s hard to determine which are more prevalent these days: new shows on Netflix or new shows about superheroes. This one has both covered, the first major foray for the streaming service, which is churning out show after show at the moment, into partnership with Marvel and its legion of comic book characters. Just as with the Flash for DC Comics, Daredevil is someone whose story and general saga I’m not familiar with at all, but like all such personalities, he too can become endearing and compelling. This pilot is very much a pilot, in that it offers only a glimpse of who Daredevil is before Matt Murdock takes on his secret identity on a regular basis. The only thing I knew about this show and its cast going into it was that Charlie Cox, who was great in his recurring role as Nucky’s loyal lieutenant Owen on “Boardwalk Empire,” was putting on an American accent to play Murdock. I was pleasantly surprised to see Deborah Ann Woll, best known for playing Jessica on “True Blood,” in what I thought was a guest spot as this episode’s framed murder suspect, and I was delighted to discover that she’ll have a more prominent role as a regular player. This show is darker than a lot of other Marvel offerings (it’s TV-MA), but it still doesn’t have swearing and isn’t quite as intense as grittier fare on the likes of FX or HBO. It’s clear from the ending scene in which Murdock’s boxing practice is interspersed with snippets of a lot of different crime forces at work in the city that there is more than enough in the way of dastardly behavior for Murdock to monitor. This show needs a bit of time to develop, but I’m eager to see where it goes.

How will it work as a series? Daredevil’s legacy is still a mystery at this point to those villainous elements of the city, and so part of this story is going to be his growth into legend, while the building of his practice with Foggy and Karen will take up another portion of the storyline. I think there’s plenty to feature here, and this show should have no shortage of material.
How long will it last? Netflix is pretty gung-ho about reviewing its popular series, granting second seasons even to “Marco Polo” and “Bloodline.” If this show hasn’t already been officially renewed by the time this review goes up, I’d expect it to be picked up before a full week is up.

Pilot grade: B

What I’m Watching: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1, Episode 6 “Kimmy Goes to School!” (B-)

This episode wasn’t much better than the rest, but at least it had a different focus that found Kimmy doing something with her time and even gave Titus a pet project. The casting of Richard Kind as a bad teacher who was never motivated to do anything positive or influence kids in a good way was spot-on. Kimmy’s frustration was defined most by her ability to believe in anything and anyone, immediately assuming that Mr. Lefkovitz had once been driven to inspire and change bright young minds and had simply lost that spark. Of course, he was much more concerned with getting to the rubber room where he could sit in pleasant purgatory for the rest of his career, getting paid to do nothing and finally fulfilling his dream of making it to well below mediocrity. Kimmy rallying her fellow GED students using the meager teaching material Mr. Lefkovitz did bother to bring in was clever, and obviously in this show’s absurd universe Kimmy would get made fun of by someone named Dong because her name in Vietnamese meant the same thing as his did in English. Titus’ video was wholly preposterous, but it’s good to see him getting into a project. Posing as a handyman, however unbelievable that was, also enabled him to get leverage on Xanthippe and use it to secure better treatment by Xanthippe of Kimmy, who, all her quirks aside, really does have a heart of gold that those with less pure intentions can truly appreciate.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What I’m Watching: House of Cards

House of Cards: Season 3, Episode 7 “Chapter 33” (B+)

One of the most intriguing aspects of this show has to be the marriage of Frank and Claire Underwood. At times, it seems that they’re merely asexual allies in an undying quest for power, and that romance is of too little importance for them to concerned themselves with. Starting this episode with the renewal of vows was crucial for a major reconciliation of sorts between the two after they exploded at each other on the plane back from Russia and regretted the credit they took for putting the other into power. Claire flinching when Frank touched her was an important moment to notice, and it’s good that they were able to apologize to each other and move past it to the point of at least getting back to where they were before, ardent supporters there for each other when they needed to be, and even sometimes when they didn’t. I like seeing how Tom is getting to know Frank, realizing just when he is telling him the truth and not just what he wants him to write. I think Tom is professional enough not to betray the president’s confidence, but it’s also clear that he’s getting an unfiltered view of sorts into Frank’s life, the kind that Kate Baldwin would kill for. Doug had an unusual and unexpected opportunity to interact with someone on a very real and intimate level as his physical therapist announced her plan to relocate and invited Doug to her party, after which he spent the night and got to delve into some sincere honesty of his own.

Pilot Review: The Comedians

The Comedians (FX)
Premiered April 9 at 10pm

The notion of pairing two extremely different comedians of different generations and styles is an entertaining one, but also comes with the understanding that they will clash considerably. Billy Crystal was among the funniest personalities of the 1980s and 1990s, and Josh Gad has made a name for himself in a less endearing leading man way. Bringing the two together seems like it should be a recipe for comedic gold, but this pilot episode isn’t entirely promising. Like so many other shows which have characters playing themselves, they’re forced to exaggerate their personalities, and Billy becomes nothing more than an old grump and Josh is a sheepish child constantly complaining about being ignored. It does a disservice to both funnymen to cast them in these broad lights, and it seems like that will be the defining nature of the show. Mockumentaries aren’t for everyone (my wife, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were decidedly not amused with the show’s style), and I think this pilot falls more on the angry humor side of things than anything else. Its intersection with real life, like having Larry Charles, director of “Borat,” guest star as himself and having Billy and Josh play fictionalized versions of themselves, could be productive for the future, and I think this show just might need a bit of time to develop. It reminds me a lot of “Doll and Em,” another uncomfortable show that took some time to get used to and may never have been fully fantastic. I’m willing to give this show another try.

How will it work as a series? This show needs to transcend its premise and allow its characters to be dynamic. Billy needs to get nicer and Josh needs to grow up, and this show should expand to more of their lives than just their negative interactions. Less marching together as sailors and more layered, possibly even dramatic plotlines will help.
How long will it last? Not long. I think this will be a one-season experiment, given the fact that viewership was very low, compared even to FX’s moderately rated comedies, and reviews weren’t too great either, which means that few people will be advocating for its continued existence beyond the first season.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: The Red Road

The Red Road: Season 2, Episode 2 “Graves” (B+)

One of the most interesting things about this show is the way in which it looks at the law, not content to leave its characters comfortably on either side. Philip is believed to have had a part in Mac’s murder, and his former friends and brothers want to see him punished. Harold, on the other hand, might have seriously jeopardized his chances at his promotion by sticking up for Junior in the interrogation room when he was being railroaded in order to produce a confession. And then there’s the complicated relationship between the Kopus and Jensen families, as Junior and Rachel reconnect with a kiss while Jean offers to make him food. Jean and Philip running into each other at the clinic was more than just a coincidence, and the way in which they interact is fascinating. Jean being advised to let the voices in to help with her schizophrenia was definitely worrisome, but it appears to have helped at least to ease her angst, and might prove productive and healthy in the end, as long as it doesn’t make her do something regrettable in the process. The final scene with Jean’s visit to Captain Warren’s home as he grieved for his wife was haunting, and it had nothing to do with the voices Jean heard as she stepped up to do the right thing with full lucidity. Captain Warren admitting that he killed his wife was almost as chilling as the gunshot that Jean didn’t hear as she drove away with her music playing loudly.

What I’m Watching: Elementary

Elementary: Season 3, Episode 19 “One Watson, One Holmes” (B+)

What a great title for this episode, one that pushes the boundaries of the friendship that currently exists between two very effective work partners. What little we’ve seen of Watson’s personal life has never been too affirming, and it was obvious that her involvement in the planning of her friend’s bachelorette party wasn’t really taking her full attention. Sherlock pointing out that their dynamic works so well precisely because there is just one Watson and one Holmes is pretty much his way of saying that he needs and appreciates Watson. This was a case with a fun connection to Sherlock and his occasional interactions with the hacker group Anonymous, who, after enjoying the opportunity to humiliate him on numerous occasions, now are entangled in both a legal and murderous mess. It took me a minute to recognize Sucking Chest Wound, or Petros, as Joseph Cross, who starred in the lead role in “Running with Scissors” back in 2006 and hasn’t done much since then. The murder right after that visit of Species did feel awfully convenient, but it also cast Sucking Chest Wound in too suspicious a light, which made his visit to Sherlock’s loft a defense of his innocence rather than his guilt. Agent Branch showing up seconds after Sherlock and Watson showed up to question Tessee left no doubt that the killer was in fact an FBI informant, raising the ethical dilemma of whether someone’s crimes should be overlooked if they are providing a more crucial service in the name of the greater good. Clearly that’s something that Sherlock wasn’t okay with, and he took irreversible steps to ensure that the truth came to light.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I’m Watching: Justified (Penultimate Episode)

Justified: Season 6, Episode 12 “Collateral” (A-)

It’s still hard to believe that there is just one episode left of this show, but this show is definitely intensifying in the best way as it’s about to sign off for good. There were many excellent moments, but I think the most memorable part, aside from Raylan signing his land over on a piece of scrap paper to someone he was pursuing, was the staging during the scene in the woods at night with Boyd and Raylan. It felt very much like a play, where two different actors stumble around through scenery almost right next to each other but can’t find each other since it’s too dark to be able to see even a few feet. This show has always been both a western and an intellectual story at heart, and it’s wonderful to see that incorporated into the end of this particular tale. There isn’t time left for pleasantries, as evidenced by Boyd’s swift execution of Shea Whigham’s truck driver as he was trying to convince Boyd that legends aren’t passed down by the murdered and Zachariah’s self-detonation in an attempt to put the beast that is Boyd down. In typical fashion for this show, there was plenty going on in that surrounding area, as Bob leapt into action to defend Raylan only to find that he had stolen his car, charged after him, found Ava, and then got shot by Boyd for his troubles. As Raylan was taking Bob to the hospital, cops on Avery’s payroll grabbed Ava, and then Raylan got arrested as soon as he got to the hospital. Kudos to Loretta for thinking on her feet after Boon shot her hapless bodyguard and offering Avery the same partnership she had with Boyd, ensuring her livelihood and her taking her best option in a bad situation. Vasquez has quite the axe to grind with Raylan, and it’s going to be hard to tell who will ultimately be on his side, especially with Boyd still in the wind and Ava in Avery’s clutches. What a finale it’s sure to be!

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 4, Episode 19 “Search and Destroy” (B+)

When someone’s life is being destroyed by an unexpectedly and impossibly specific hack, is anyone but an artificial intelligence to blame? It was interesting to have Khan as a guest character in this hour since he was actually capable of understanding what both Samaritan and the machine are, even though he didn’t live long enough to be able to do something to stop one or both of them. It was funny to see the team eating Chinese food and debating the idea of bringing him in, something that never would have worked out, mainly because he has the technical prowess possessed by Finch and Root but not the heart or do-gooder nature that guides them in their pursuit of helping ordinary people. It’s disconcerting to learn that Samaritan was pretending to search for viruses and instead searching for the machine, meaning it is one step closer to overtaking the good side. Greer shooting Khan for his arrogance and smoking in celebration means that he’s getting cocky, but for good reason. Martine getting permission to kill Root is troubling, but fortunately Root is just as set on killing her, so the score is about even right now. Root stealing the briefcase by smoking out the restaurant with no help from the machine was impressive, and it’s a relief to see that her temporary feud with Finch has been resolved simply by the nature of the circumstances in which they find themselves. It was a pleasure to see Zoe again, swooping in to be eyes and ears in a meeting and commenting to Reese about his new romance while flirting off the charts with him.

Round Two: Weird Loners

Weird Loners: Season 1, Episode 2 “Weird Dance” (C+)

This show obviously isn’t meant to be digested literally, but it’s endearing enough overall to be bearable and somewhat worth it, if only for half an hour each week. It makes some sense that Stosh would put his big Florida adventure on his dead uncle’s credit card knowing full well that Eric would pay for the charges without realizing that he had incurred them, but I don’t see why he’d put in all the effort to go down there just to pretend to show Caryn that he cares. It’s evident that he doesn’t care much about his reputation, fully unapologetic about sleeping with other people’s wives and girlfriends and getting caught doing it. Trying to make out with Caryn while she was both eating yogurt and opening up to him was just one example of his inability to be a true human, and therefore his seemingly selfless trip to Florida was puzzling. My wife and mother-in-law, both of who enjoyed the episode much more than I did, immediately recognized Renée Taylor, famous from her role as Fran’s mother on “The Nanny,” by her voice as Caryn’s nana. I get that Zara is a nice person, but pretending to conjure up the spirit of Eric’s father for an entire day reframes her as a separate entity from Eric, much more intelligent and self-aware if still similarly kindhearted. In the pilot, they were kindred spirits, both bonding over being weird, and I’d like to see that continue rather than to see them defined on such different planes.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 4, Episode 20 “Par 5” (C+)

This was an endearing enough episode, even if it was highly formulaic. Nick and Coach weren’t doing anything at all, which is disappointing since I feel like this show is usually at least firing on all cylinders in terms of giving its characters storylines. I haven’t been too fond of Fawn to this point despite liking Zoe Lister-Jones, and in this half-hour we got the chance to see her try to mold Jess to be more like her and then fall victim to true embarrassment which risks ruining her career. The golf course scenes reminded me of an early episode of “Scrubs” in which Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso both try to impart conflicting words of wisdom and life experiences on young J.D. In this far less funny case, Jess was the starry-eyed one unable to comprehend how things couldn’t just be simple, interested only in getting computers for her students and not networking for the sake of networking. There were a few humorous moments to be found, and it’s good to see Jess standing up for what she believes in. Cece having to put oil on Schmidt was a bit much, but fortunately that was turned immediately into something else with the unfortunate discovery that he got the bronzer with the glitter. Winston trying to date someone who hates cops was an intriguing twist, one that really just had him muttering out of control above all else. I’m not sure that a striptease was mandated so early in the relationship, but this show is all about being irreverent.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 1, Episode 4 “Liv and Let Clive” (B+)

This show is really intent on having Liv fully experience the emotions and tics of whoever’s brain she’s just had the pleasure of eating. She was all over the place in this particular episode, worrying enough to do every piece of laundry in the building and then possessing kung fu moves that enabled her to defend herself from an intruder in the house. It was a close call with Liv’s brother Evan, who wandered in with a pizza and nearly saw his sister going crazy on the burglar. I think he was distracted enough by his lust for her roommate that he didn’t make much of it. Speaking of roommates, I like just how much Major and Ravi bonded when he stopped by the morgue, and I think that they’ll make for great roommates. Liv throwing out the mug she liked so that Major’s new girlfriend couldn’t use it was a fun moment. I also chuckled at her acting surprised to show Clive that you could fake a reaction. It’s a good thing that Clive isn’t dirty since that would have been problematic, and this whole debacle served to strengthen their relationship for the long run. Blaine is definitely up to no good, killing his disloyal employees and replacing them with fresh revived meat, and he’s sure to corner the market now that he’s found a way to make brains taste good. I loved the wise words of his now deceased henchman: “It doesn’t take body fat to have a fat idea.”

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 2, Episode 16 “Afterlife” (B)

The chess pieces are all moving now in a way that doesn’t make it seem like there are so many different operations at work, and it’s becoming ever clearer whose side most of our characters are on. Mike coming in to save the day as Coulson’s backup was a nice surprise, but it’s far less jarring than Coulson’s suggestion of the next possible ally: Ward. What’s good to know is that Fitz and Simmons managed to settle their differences, pretending to go to war over the fact that Simmons was considering helping the new S.H.I.E.L.D. to access the box they found in Coulson’s office only to get away with the box and a sandwich specially made for him by his old friend Simmons. May’s motives were never in question, and so it can’t be long before our friends reclaim their organization. The only question that remains is where Mac and Bobbi end up when it all comes down around them. Gordon has quite the operation going in Tibet or wherever Skye is, leaving Lincoln to help Skye deal with her transition while he manages a very angry Cal and also monitors a spiteful and frightening Reina. I’m excited to see that Dichen Lachman’s Jiaying is still alive, and Skye has a good role model in the form of the mother she has long thought to be dead. People with powers may be cool, but nothing quite compares to Coulson employing the Howling Commandos kit to project a hologram of him and Hunter playing cards to gain the upper hand.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul (Season Finale)

Better Call Saul: Season 1, Episode 10 “Marco” (B+)

This episode felt like a step back for Jimmy, and it was disappointing not to see the plot move forward in a major way after the high that Jimmy was on with his case over the course of the last few episodes. We know that it’s going to be a slower burn to get Jimmy to being the Saul Goodman we call, and I’m really anticipating watching that journey continue. Starting this episode off with a flashback to Jimmy’s less noble days back in Chicago paved the way for a meltdown in Albuquerque while he was reading off bingo numbers, complete with a colorful definition of a Chicago sunroof. That raving outburst stood in stark contrast to his much calmer and more elegant meeting with Howard in which the top partner explained that he never actually disliked Jimmy. His trip back to Chicago brought back his old bad habits, running a coin scheme just for fun to swindle a bar patron out of $110. It’s great to see him work, and it’s a shame that the last hurrah Marco made him stay for resulted in a fatal heart attack that prompted Jimmy to let the money go and stay by his friend to make sure he was okay. Getting recommended by Kimmy to interview at a major firm and work on his case again was a great opportunity, but it’s clear that Jimmy is destined for other things. Not getting charged by Mike for a quick turnaround was a start, and pledging not to be taken advantage of again is energizing and makes the prospect of a second season extremely enticing.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 1, Episode 17 “Chapter Seventeen” (B+)

This episode was much more maternity-focused than usual, but I think that our favorite characters need an important reminder that parenthood is coming. Some of it had to do with growth and realizing that things come full circle, particularly with Jane stepping into the role of the new mother who thinks her own mother has nothing left to teach her. Jane did pretty well babysitting despite how tiresome playing peekaboo over and over was for her, and what’s more concerning is the way that Rafael is focusing on the Marbella and considering the impending birth of his baby to be much less important. The revelation that Roman is still alive is perplexing since Petra noticed a difference in his behavior from the Aaron she was getting to know, which would seem to suggest that both Aaron and Roman are still alive. Maybe there’s a third brother? The budding friendship between Rogelio and Michael is quite hilarious, particularly when it comes to Rogelio oversharing about his physical relationship with Xiomara, and it’s good that he’s putting Jane first and encouraging Michael to move on. Andie and Michael getting back together would be a great thing for everyone except for the fact that Michael would still be too hung up on Jane to really give his old romance a shot. Rogelio telling Xiomara that he can’t say I love you to Xiomara because she and his mother don’t get along isn’t going to lead to anywhere good, and let’s hope it’s at least an entertaining if assuredly bumpy ride.