Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 2, Episode 3 “The Negotiation” (B+)

Much of this episode was unapologetically silly, but that’s what a lot of this show is about. One of my favorite second generation characters, Coyote, wasn’t around at all, but the other three more than made up for it. Frankie’s demand for $9 million as soon as Brianna announced her intention to market her yam lube was obviously ridiculous, but I love that it didn’t stop there. Bringing Bud in as her legal counsel and then refusing to sit down before Brianna did was pretty hilarious, and it only got more absurd from there as they negotiated and somehow ended up with a good deal that wasn’t what Frankie wanted but was much more than Brianna wanted to give. That’s the message of this show, to me, that people need to find their own attainable place of happiness after settling for less for so many years. I thought I recognized Conchata Ferrell, who earned Emmy nominations for blurting out suggestive insults on “Two and a Half Men,” as Grandma Jean, a fitting too-perfect rival for the less fun Grace, and it was great to see Grace win with her use of the truth and no babying to win over her grandson. Mallory telling her mom why she was shutting her out was also satisfying, and a nice bonding moment for the two of them. Sol reacting badly to things that weren’t his “kind of gay” was more than made up for by his sweet gesture that permitted Robert to have a wonderful experience in his hospital room courtesy of a traveling bingo emcee.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 2, Episode 8 “Oscillate” (B+)

I like this show and where it’s headed, but I’m finding these flashes to 1930s Berlin a bit disjointed. It’s intriguing to think that there is a history of transgender exploration in the Pfefferman family dating back to a time when things were far more dangerous for them than any kind of gender or sexual discrimination. It’s both interesting and distracting to have actors, like Bradley Whitford and Michaela Watkins, who we’ve seen in other tangential roles playing those parts to give a bit of added but confusing context to the drama. Back in the present, Maura is having a tough time adjusting to her life without Davina’s friendship, but she seems to have given herself an important pep talk with Shea’s help as she prepares to volunteer for the suicide hotline, which for obvious reasons should not be referred to as the graveyard shift. Shelly’s relationship with Buzz, who hilariously brands his steaks, has progressed quite quickly, and her enthusiasm for the least kosher of cruise buffet options is palpable, a sign that she’s trying to indulge in as much excess as possible to distract herself from the bad news about Josh and her breakup with Maura. Josh is in truly bad shape, and I hope that he’ll get to a better place soon. I don’t understand Ali’s obsession with Leslie, but it’s definitely driving a wedge between her and Syd. Seeing Ali, Sarah, and Maura drive off singing together was an affirming ending to the episode, and a sign that maybe these forward-thinking Pfefferman women do have happy futures ahead.

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 5, Episode 5 “Shotseeker” (B+)

This show is all about its government oversight storylines and the role technology plays in that. The whole idea of Shotseeker is extremely intriguing and troubling, to think that it’s advanced enough to recognize sounds that appear to be gunshots but faulty enough to misidentify them as something far less serious when the human ear can easily tell otherwise. This week’s number got himself into a sticky situation by being good at his job, and he’s lucky that Fusco was there to act fast and defend him when he nearly fell victim to suicide by cop after being framed for firing gunshots that were never even fired. Fusco gets the most crap of anyone on this show, and it was good to see him rally his colleagues to find the missing Detective Riley and earn the respect of Reese for not backing down when Bruce threatened his kid to get the truth about Elias. The news that Elias is alive shouldn’t be too surprising, but much more disconcerting is the fact that Bruce isn’t going to back down and let go of what he believes should be set right, a precarious position shared by Fusco. The machine losing over and over to Samaritan in Finch’s simulation is not promising, but Root reprogramming their latest number to be deemed only a minimal threat is far more productive and indicative of hope. Jeff is also an interesting new player, since he has no idea who he’s really working for and may now start asking questions after his run-in with Root.

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season Finale)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 3, Episodes 21 and 22 “Absolution” and “Ascension” (B+)

This was one terrific double-decker finale, and it may well be the most I’ve ever enjoyed this show. Hive’s plan to enable instant transformation of anyone – namely and most destructively S.H.I.E.L.D. agents – into the new kind of inhuman who is essentially just a mindless brute was extremely clever and dangerous, and that served to immediately negate the success of freezing Hive in stasis so that he would no longer be a threat. Having Daisy back on the good side of things was refreshing, but it’s clear that she’s not going to be able to forgive herself for what she did because she recognizes that everything was bottled up within her before Hive compelled it to come out. Giyera and James, on the other hand, were all about following Hive and helping him even when they were not under his sway since they agreed with his cause. The plan to set him off and confuse him was cunning, and it worked wonders. What impressed me most about the second episode was the way that Lincoln stepped in to sacrifice himself to save Daisy’s life, an event that was foreseen and could easily have been predicted but still played out dramatically and compellingly. Hive calmly remarking that he and Lincoln would share the one thing that had eluded him – death – was a fitting way for the superbeing to go out. I liked seeing snippets of Fitz and Simmons trying to be romantic with each other, and cutting to six months ahead was an effective choice at the end of the episode. Daisy seems to be a fugitive from justice and things are definitely intense, and I’m excited to see how things play out. I didn’t expect to be this pumped for season four, but this finale really put things into a positive perspective for me.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons

Monday, May 30, 2016

What I'm Watching: You, Me, and Her

You, Me, and Her: Season 1, Episode 9 "Sweet Home Colorado" (B+)

What a shame that, for the first time, this episode didn't end with Izzy showing up at Jack and Emma's door after they spent the entirety of the installment obsessing over her. Hopefully that's what we have the season finale for, though I'm also crossing my fingers that this superb show is going to be renewed for a second season. What was intriguing to me was the fact that Jack and Emma weren't concerned about Izzy for long and instead spent most of their time thinking about conception and then trying to work their way out of their latest pickle. I like that, after she gave Ava "Misery" nightmares, Emma managed to convince Ava that her name would become synonymous with awfulness and that Ava herself used it in such a context only a few minutes later. Involving Dave and Carmen in their antics after Ava's miserable Photoshop effort was fun, and it was nice to see two characters who have played rather peripheral roles come in at a crucial point in the show's run. Izzy deciding to go home to Colorado feels like an easy way to move past everything, and Jack and Emma have done a number on her enough to make her want to abandon anything else good in Portland, namely Nina. It was sweet that Nina tried to convince Izzy that all she had done was in fact normal, though she doesn't seem to have done much other than to be the latest person to let Nina down. I'm eager to see how things play out in the season finale and beyond!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 2, Episode 22 “Invincible” (B+)

I’ve been fond of this show since it first started and I think its quality has remained pretty consistent since that point. But there was something great about this episode that made it seem like things were truly uncertain for the first time in a while and I’m on the edge on my seat after being legitimately caught off-guard by the ending of the episode. Some things seem too easy, like defeating every metahuman except for Zoom by creating a vibrational frequency designed to fell anyone from Earth-2. That moment, however, was amplified by Cisco and Caitlin cleverly posing as their Earth-2 doppelgangers while they confronted and distracted Laurel’s own counterpart, who proved to be quite sinister. Zoom couldn’t have been dealt with that swiftly, and his return to Earth-2 seemed like it might leave things peaceful for a bit. I’ve been wondering about Henry’s sudden presence all the time lately, and that led to a very poignant and superbly powerful final scene in which he got to give Barry the approval he always needed right before Zoom killed him in some twisted attempt to turn Barry into a stone-hearted killer. I can’t imagine that will happen, but this definitely will definitely wound Barry’s optimistic attitude of late. I love the fact that Barry raced off after Zoom without stopping to think that Wally didn’t know his identity, and the look on Wally’s face as he put it together was indescribably awesome. Next week’s finale is sure to be intense, and I’m excited.

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 5, Episode 4 “6,741” (B+)

I could not be more excited to have Sarah Shahi and Sameen Shaw back. I had read that, now that Shahi gave birth to her twins, she would be returning, but I didn’t know when that would be. I thought that, when that fantastic simulation-heavy episode aired, that was the last we’d see of her, but how terrific to have her back, even if she’s really not in good shape. Her escape from custody was pretty impressive, and her past as a doctor came in handy so that she could take out the chip that had been implanted in her herself. She’s not doing too well, passing out frequently just like she did the very first time we met her. Calling in an intended murder so that her friends could find her was smart, and her reunion with Root was quite legendary. What we saw of their sex scene was rough and surprisingly unfiltered, completed by the affirmation that there was “plenty of sucking.” From there, however, things went very downhill, with Shaw realizing that she was being mind-controlled and shooting Greer in the head before putting a bullet in Reese and then shooting herself in the head. As soon as Reese went down, it became clear that this couldn’t be reality, but the revelation that this is the 6,741th time that Greer’s acolytes have run a simulation designed to get Shaw to reveal the location of the machine is crazy. It’s a shame that Root doesn’t know this is going on, since she would surely burst in guns-blazing to save the woman who clearly reciprocates her feelings. I hope we see Shaw again soon and that it’s when she’s finally found and broken out by her friends.

What I’m Watching: Blindspot

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 23 “If I Love a Rebel, Death Will Render” (B)

This episode was full of bombshells fitting for the penultimate episode of a season. The tattooed baby dumped in the park at the beginning was the least of them, but a clandestine effort to engineer a bunch of babies is certainly unsettling. As if Bethany didn’t have enough reasons to be paranoid, the truth that Sofia was working with Oscar and her realization that the woman alternately known as Alexandra or Donna set her up didn’t help much. She got rid of her ankle bracelet pretty easily, and it wasn’t even the people she decided to trust who were her downfall. Getting shot by Oscar after she tracked him down and then saw Jane coming in was an unfortunate way to go, and Jane is going to be so racked with guilt that it’s going to be impossible for anything to continue in the way that it has so far. Bill’s deathbed confession about what he believes he did to Taylor is quite disconcerting, and it should clue Weller in to the fact that there is something seriously shady about Jane. Director Pellington wasn’t shy about sharing his predisposed attitude against Jane, and it’s clear that the team stood behind her fully even though they’ve had their differences. Dylan Baker was a fun choice to play Pellington, always at the ready to be as oily as he needs to be. This is a terrible time for Weller to take the reins, but I’m sure things are going to look completely different after the finale.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin (Season Finale)

Jane the Virgin: Season 2, Episode 22 “Chapter Forty-Four” (B+)

Oh boy, as the narrator would say! This episode was a great mix between sentimental developments related to Jane’s wedding and four back-to-back shockers that emphasized this show’s nature as a telenovela more than anything. Jane going to pitch a new thesis less than an hour before her wedding was not a great idea, and it’s a wonder that she made it. Her thesis advisor congratulating her only on her thesis and not on her wedding was typical, and fortunately everyone else, including surprise guest Bruno Mars, was extremely happy for her. I liked Rogelio and Jane’s dance, and the wedding turned out to be a lot of fun. But on to the drama! We knew Anezka was up to something, and keeping Petra trapped in an awake paralyzed state while she has Rafael all to herself is pretty crazy. Xiomara discovering that she is pregnant with Esteban’s baby after reconciling with Rogelio is very bad news, and while I can’t imagine she’ll come to term with the spawn of Rogelio’s nemesis, it’s going to come to light and cause some serious problems. I have a hard time believing that Susanna never existed, but the reveal that she wasn’t actually from Tuscaloosa was very well done. Michael can’t die, certainly, but what a way to end a wedding night! I hope he’s okay. Susanna turning out to be Rose is nuts, and Luisa is definitely going to have a hard time processing that. I’m excited for what’s to come on this show since season two has been thoroughly satisfying and totally entertaining.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Gina Rodriguez

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What I’m Watching: The Detour

The Detour: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Road” (B+)

I like that this episode slowed things down a little – as the family was literally stopped in traffic for the duration of the episode – and went back in time to fill in some important gaps in this family history instead of driving the plot forward with more present-day shenanigans along the road to somewhere in Florida. I enjoyed how Delilah and Jared showed up in the middle of Nate and Robin’s differing recollections of how they first met and got together to ask questions and react negatively to the horrors about which they were learning. As if their road trip wasn’t enough of a mess, what came before it is even crazier. Getting cocaine all over each other while trying to keep it away from Vanessa was one memorable moment, and his past as a pretty terrible hockey player whose one goal was to distract and enforce was cringe-worthy and entertaining at the same time. Nate’s comparison of Magnum condoms to not wearing tight pants was hilarious and shed considerable light on the way that Delilah and Jared came to be since they didn’t go to Europe. The kids appearing on the ultrasound screen was great, and this is one situation in which Delilah did not seem any more intelligent than Jared, who got stuck on the fact that he was a bastard. The revelation that they’re not even married is pretty shocking, but that’s the least of their problems. Robin not even being able to finish listing the two things she told Nate to never do before he interrupted her to tell her to relax only served to cement her anger, and now Nate is on a road trip all by himself with absolutely no hope of getting back on track.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 2, Episode 5 “Bodies of Water” (B+)

As if all this time stuff wasn’t crazy enough, we now get to see how the Witness speaks to devout followers, which is by forming messages on a hotel wall after they enter a trance-like state. This show has never been particularly grounded in science despite its extensive and rather secure grasp on what time travel could like, and therefore this and the Red Forest aren’t too out there or surprising at this point. I like that Jennifer was so excited to return to the hotel ever day to see if Cole had come back, and when she saw Cassie she was understandably disappointed. The fact that they don’t get along made their interactions all the more enticing, but it didn’t take long for them to bond and Jennifer to applaud Cassie for threatening to kill her when she realized that she was outmatched. Jennifer stabbing Olivia for hurting her friend (how fast she and Jennifer are now pals) was a positive twist, though I’m not sure that the Pallid Man is any less formidable an enemy. Kyle seems intense, and the fact that he knows Cole is coming is troubling to say the least. The West 7 drama in the future felt a bit irrelevant given the impending end of time, but now Deacon has proven himself to be a real fighter who isn’t going to let two former allies betraying him keep him from gaining the upper hand and showing them that he’s not going down that easily. In other news, Todd Stashwick is now a series regular, so Deacon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 5, Episode 4 “Mother” (B-)

This was one of the weaker episodes this show has produced, and it’s a disappointment since it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the hilarity that it has sometimes featured. We all understand that Selina is not a good person, and therefore it’s to be expected that she would put more weight on her reelection to the presidency than on the health of her dying mother. This episode laid her awfulness on thick, and it was a bit much to take. The breakdown that it led to when Selina got very bad news about her reelection as she was about to deliver her mother’s eulogy worked, but I don’t know that we needed a whole episode to deal with this. This show has also been making a few Holocaust jokes recently that I haven’t found too funny – I think it can do better. I did like that Andrew showed up to the funeral and tried to get Charlie to invest in his company and that Mike fell prey to it without even being directly asked. Tom and Charlie’s mutual disdain for each was fun too. The Nevada crew having to flip-flop their position as soon as they realized that all of the recounted votes were going to go to O’Brien was entertaining, particularly when it came to the hapless duo of Jonah and Richard, who were not able to comprehend what they were supposed to do in the slightest. At least they were better aware than Bob, whose congratulatory remark to a devastated Selina couldn’t have been more demonstrative of his incoherence.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 3, Episode 4 “Maleant Data Systems Solutions” (B+)

I love that, when developments happen on this show, they’re almost always accompanied by something else that manages to change everything in a whole new way. Richard was smart to suggest a compromise based on Barker’s chart, but, as he pointed out, it was hard to decide whether their rebellious initiative was more impressive than the speed with which they got caught. Richard slipping at the end of the speech was the epitome of his style, never fully polished the whole way through yet full of good pieces. The way that Richard, Gilfoyle, and Dinesh got into the design of the box even though they still detested the idea was entertaining, but naturally that didn’t live too long. Monica going out on a limb and publicly declaring her support for Richard was bold, and Barker seemed rightfully furious that he was being undermined. Gavin’s call to Richard really did have a completely different effect that the maniacal millionaire intended, and it seems that Lori made her decision to get rid of Barker and leave the CEO chair open may have happened before she was able to officially value the product that is Pied Piper. It’s awesome that Big Head has his own incubator and that he accidentally started a far more effective version of what Erlich had been doing without even trying. As usual, the clueless programmer was perfectly content to let others share in his delight since he had no motivation to do much with it. It’s hilarious that Gavin doesn’t recognize any of the Nucleus staff that now works for Endframe, making his speech all the less genuine.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What I’m Watching: Quantico (Season Finale)

Quantico: Season 1, Episode 22 “Yes” (D)

I’ll admit that the opening scene of this episode was well-executed, showing how Liam was involved in every step of the terrorist plot that went from before everyone arrived at Quantico to the present moment. The problem is that it didn’t really get to the root of why Liam would have been the one engineering the whole thing. My biggest issue is that he actually trained the entire Quantico class, and there’s no reason he couldn’t have shifted the curriculum to mold the trainees to his vision of the FBI rather than create something he wanted to destroy. This show unsurprisingly fell vulnerable to the TV trope of villains being far less careful once the audience knows their identities, with careless decisions like having Miranda tied up in his car that was parked in the FBI garage. Also, in the end, only Nathalie, Elias, Drew, and Clayton, all fringe characters, died, which demonstrates that this show isn’t interested in truly taking risks and letting its characters be put in harm’s way. The one part of it all that is interesting is that Claire conspired with Liam to ensure that her candidacy would be positively affected from all the chaos created by his actions, though I still think there are more than a few holes in that logic. Will Alex join the CIA in season two? I do hope the writing is much better, though I’m also not sure that I’m going to be watching. This season was not very impressive at all – highly watchable but also very poorly-crafted.

Season grade: C-
Season MVP: Do I have to pick someone?

What I’m Watching: House of Lies

House of Lies: Season 5, Episode 6 “Johari Window” (B+)

Since I watched last week’s episode, the news broke that this show has been cancelled. Now, let’s be honest, this show has aired four full seasons and is going to wrap this fifth one with twelve or so episodes each year. Plenty of ground has been covered, and this doesn’t feel like a cancelled show. Still, it’s about to end, and therefore watching this and the remaining four episodes gives this show a sentimental sense of nostalgia. This particular episode was interesting because it presented a new obnoxious client for Marty whose weak spot wasn’t initially clear. I like Keegan Michael-Key but I don’t actually think he’s that terrific in this kind of role, reminiscent of the lackluster part he played in “Pitch Perfect 2” as a music executive. His storyline was a bit more interesting, and it gave Wanda Sykes something to do since I wasn’t really sure why she was guest-starring on the show. Ron Zobel has quite the personality, and his security upgrades to the firm seem to be truly irritating. I like that Clyde’s new mayoral candidate friend has taken an interest in Jeannie, which has shifted Clyde into the position Doug is usually in and put Jeannie in Clyde’s place, tormenting him with ideas about what she’s going to do with him even though she’s not actually interested. Clyde does seem very upset by it all, a sign that he’s either concerned about being part of the campaign or more personally invested in a relationship with the candidate.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 4 “Book of the Stranger” (B+)

Finally, several seasons after Arya nearly got to be reunited with Robb moments before he was murdered, we have two Stark children in the same place for the first time. It was very affirming to see the two of them embrace, and it’s just a shame that their happiness only lasted long enough for them to receive a horrifying letter from the most deplorable character on this show, even worse than Joffrey, who threatened to do awful things to everyone just to be reunited with a woman he detests. I liked the awkward interaction between Brienne, Davos, and Melisandre, with Stannis being the unfortunate link between any all of them. It’s good to see Margaery again and to know that her grandmother is not prepared to let her suffer the same fate that Cersei endured. Daenerys went from a hopeless life of being an imprisoned advisor at best to freeing herself with a formidable show of fire, barely even needing the help of her brave rescuers. Emerging naked from a blaze that engulfed everyone else in it had the desired effect, and now she has a whole new group of people to idolize her and help her in her quest to win this never-ending quest that serves as this show’s title. I enjoyed Tyrion’s fairly successful attempt to make peace with the slavers, complete with a handful of typically terrific lines directed at Missandei and Grey Worm about why it was worth taking a diplomatic approach when a military one clearly wasn’t working.

What I’m Watching: Banshee (Penultimate Episode)

Banshee: Season 4, Episode 7 “Truths Other Than the Ones You Tell Yourself” (B+)

When shows add characters over the course of their runs, events towards the end often feel very slanted towards them in a way that isn’t fully representative of the show. The large role that Calvin, Veronica, and Declan played in this episode fits that mold, and while they’re all strong characters, that’s not the core of this story. Lucas and Brock having a heart-to-heart as they thought they were about to die, on the other hand, was absolutely appropriate for this point in the show’s run. The key difference in each person’s perception of their situation was substantial, since Brock was convinced it was the end and Lucas knew that all hope was not lost. Lucas angrily admitting to everything was extremely compelling, and it’s going to make the show’s final episode all the more awesome, I’m sure. Veronica was resilient up until she was nearly sacrificed, and kudos to this show for not making Declan a dumb villain who didn’t tie her tightly enough or was stupid enough to give her a drink so that she could break free. I do hope that this is the last we’ve seen of Declan and his creepy, creepy cult. Now on to the skinhead who went ballistic at work and walked out with his shirt off and tattoos showing, ready to come for Proctor, his brother, and anyone else who would stand in his way. Job’s revenge was sweet, and it’s good to see him back in good spirits again. How can this show possibly wrap up all its threads in just one hour? I’m eager to see, and sad to see this very unique and very uniquely violent show go.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 5 “Human Raw Material” (B+)

She may be the most simplistic of the clones, but I suspect that Krystal is the most fun one to play. I like that she just happened to be at the clinic to get pregnant while conducting her own investigation into Diad and the sinister things that are going on with this new birthing clinic while Cosima and Donnie were on their stakeout. Donnie’s attempts to keep her occupied by giving her an impromptu massage were entertaining, and I think that Kristian Bruun deserves enormous credit for the way in the which Donnie interacts with all of the clones differently. I like Donnie and Cosima as a pair since neither of them gets on the other’s case for any of their tics or idiosyncrasies, and Donnie did manage to keep things under control for a bit while Cosima snooped around. It was great to watch Susan and Evie get confused by Krystal and Cosima being there at the same time, and I love that Cosima was able to ask such probing questions and Susan actually entertained her and gave her the answers. Sarah not trusting Adele was understandable, but the way that she berated her in front of Felix was foolish, and when the results came in that she was indeed his sister, things looked pretty bad for her. The clones all seem to be on edge, and Sarah and Alison in particular are not doing a good job of getting along. That kind of disunity is not what they need right now with multiple threats facing them.

What I’m Watching: The Catch

The Catch: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Package” (B+)

The little summary of the events that happened to set Margot up as Alice’s therapist was helpful since I was concerned that she was so omniscient that she had always been Val’s therapist, and it turns out that’s not the case at all. It does seem highly risky since Val could easily spoil the whole thing by describing any physical feature of her doctor that doesn’t match Margot, but the professional con woman is getting so much out of the interaction that it’s well worth it, asking every single question she wants to about how much Alice knows and how much Ben shared with her. Margot is far more conniving and manipulative than Rhys, who is more sinister but much poorer at keeping it all under wraps. It took him no time at all to reveal to Ben that he was well aware of Alice’s existence and to threaten her life should he deviate from his every instruction. That was a huge mistake, since it compelled Ben to do something totally surprising and choose a side, going straight to Agent Dao to align himself with him and Alice and take down the real bad guys. I’m curious to see where Margot will fall in all of it, and I hope that Alice is smart enough not to talk about the latest twist in therapy. Learning about Sophie’s singer past was fun, and I enjoyed guest stars Nia Vardalos from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” as the package and Kevin Alejandro from “True Blood” as the seedy producer.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 15 “Destiny” (B)

Some really crazy stuff is going on now, as the time masters are claiming that everything Rip and his team has done up until now has been a direct result of their manipulating events. I’m not sure I quite buy that, and the argument that an alien race is going to try to conquer the earth a few years after Savage already did that will be the only thing that saves humanity doesn’t quite hold sway. Putting the events of this episode alongside Savage’s murder of Rip’s family was moderately effective since it indicates that some fates are unavoidable, but only until that point since the time masters are now defunct and Savage is going to become a time-traveling nemesis more than a world-conquering one. I do hope that in next week’s finale, they vanquish Savage once and for all and move on to other threats, but I suspect that won’t be the case. I do like that Kendra’s attitude is positive and that she’s taunting Savage rather than giving in to the dire nature of her current situation. I enjoyed watching Sara and Snart argue about what to do before Gideon called on the phone, and though I’m very sad to see Wentworth Miller leave this show, his sacrifice was a memorable and heartfelt one, knocking Mick out and taking his place after the big lug did the same thing to Ray, the one man who knows he actually has feelings. Jax’s triumphant return after a trip back to 2016 to the moment that he left was great, and I’m glad everyone except for Snart and Kendra is in a safe place and state heading into what is sure to be an eventful finale.

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 2, Episode 2 “The Vitamix” (B+)

The aftermath of the wedding provided a wake-up call for all the characters who suddenly realized that moving a wedding up to accommodate a heart attack and surgery has consequences that need to be addressed. As usual, it’s the children who were the best part of the episode as they tried to find the best way to deal with all of the vendors and lose as little money as possible. Naturally, they have different methods, and it’s very entertaining to see them all work. The contrast between Brianna’s aggressive, cutthroat nature and Bud’s kind, slow-burn style was especially fun. The fact that they recorded a message detailing all the information they didn’t want the guests to learn and then accidentally sent it was a bit of a stretch, but its unforeseen and very confusing autocorrect form was a great save. Coyote being assigned as the person to watch over Robert and be there when he woke up was a nice treat, since it was full of comedy but then ended up being far more poignant, as they had a heartfelt conversation that got to the root of why Coyote did what he did. The antics at the house with Frankie getting stuck and Grace getting mad were fine, but hardly the highlight of the episode. Sol’s insurance frustrations were wonderfully turned around when he decided to put his lawyer hat on and scare the hell out of the guy behind the desk who really wasn’t prepared to fight that battle without his supervisor.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What I’m Watching: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 2, Episode 2 “Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!” (B)

I had forgotten how far-out this show can be, untethered to reality as it skewers convention and society at least a hundred different ways in a single half-hour. It didn’t take long for Jacqueline to return to the city after realizing that she was out of place back home, and she showed up in style, crashing the police car onto the sidewalk and trying to get inside as quickly as possible. The casting of Anna Camp as Jacqueline’s nemesis Deirdre Robespierre is perfect, especially considering her experience as a vain socialite in the “Pitch Perfect” movies and “True Blood.” She’s considerably more grounded than the often frantic Jacqueline, and they make a great pair of enemies. Kimmy’s willingness to go along with everything despite her objections never ceases to be entertaining, and she even got the chance to make her feelings known and possibly inspire a bit of accidental charity on Jacqueline’s part. Her plan to pay $11.5 million was bold and probably very dumb, but for now it had its desired effect. Titus’ inability to part with his clothes was typically outlandish and excessive, and the fact that he ran into a man who remembered him and thought that having a picture of “hot chick” Tilda Swinton made him seem straight to his colleagues made his treasure hunt for his clothes along a New York City street all the more enjoyable. Titus isn’t one for relationships, but knowing that he – and his clothes – has had that impact on someone gives him great joy and a reason to wake up every morning.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Book of Life” (B+)

It’s been almost four months since I watched this show, and though I’m still catching up with current television that’s airing at the moment, I’ve decided to finish up the final four episodes of this show’s second season. When people talk about how Jewish this show is, I think this is the episode to which they’re referring. I like how multi-faceted it is, showing each of the members of the Pfefferman family members and how they observe Yom Kippur. I think it’s very genuine and honest, especially since it doesn’t presume that they all know everything about the holiday or that they are strictly observant in their practice. But they do all take something away from it, like Sarah who went to see an uninterested and unhappy Tammy to sort of ask her for forgiveness. It’s good that Steve responded to Sarah’s request for rape by pumping the brakes, and Sarah showing up high to the break-fast meal didn’t go over too well. It was tough to see Josh suffer through the meal with everyone asking him when the rabbi was going to show up, especially after Raquel so bluntly told him that they’re over. I like that Shelly brought home a date in the form of Richard Masur’s Buzz, who actually did a great job of taking care of her when she started melting down after Josh broke his news. I love that Ali gave her form of a religious sermon while they were waiting for Raquel. Maura’s decision to tell Davina that she could do better after Sal was too forward with her was a serious mistake, something I don’t think she’ll do again anytime soon after recognizing Davina’s kindness and compassion.

What I’m Watching: Underground (Season Finale)

Underground: Season 1, Episode 10 “The White Whale” (B+)

This was one of the most eventful season finales I’ve ever seen, and it’s hard to know what season two will look like with so many characters dead and in such different circumstances. The most startling and unexpected change is certainly Tom’s death at Ernestine’s hands. He seemed far too casual about the idea of taking Ernestine with him to D.C. when he’s still married to another woman, and of course it couldn’t make up for the fact that he strung up her son and gave a campaign speech above his dead body. Stringing him up was a fitting execution, though Ernestine’s fate may be even worse now that his vindictive wife has decided to sell her and raise James as her own. The plan that John and Elizabeth hatched with Rosalee and Noah was brilliant, and the vengefulness with which John killed Marshal Risdin was frightening. Leaving August to die wasn’t a smart move, but it seems that his decision to kill other slave catchers has now led to his imprisonment by a character I’m intrigued to see more of in season two, Brigid Brannagh’s Patty. Ending the episode with Rosalee having a picnic with William while Noah sat in jail staying strong was very powerful, and Rosalee’s vow to go back was inspirational and exciting. This show turned out to work a lot better than I ever expected, and I’m glad that I stuck around and got to see it all play out. I don’t know what’s in store for season two, but I’m intrigued to find out and I hope that this show gets some well-deserved awards attention when the Emmy nominations are revealed this fall.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 7, Episode 21 “Crazy Train” (B)

This episode gets points for creativity, if nothing else. Setting the episode on a train allowed it to be more inventive and turned out to be much more entertaining than a lot of the destinations this show has traveled to in search of comedy. As Mitchell pointed out, saying “hello!” at the end of every joke doesn’t necessarily make it funny. Fortunately, this episode did turn out to be mostly entertaining. Phil and Cameron running into their favorite author, played by Simon Templeman from “House of Lies,” and ruining his book after he tried to get rid of them by giving them a chapter was a fun use of their time, resulting in them acting the entire thing out to find a way it could work before Haley ruined it and then a newly intelligent Luke showed up to solve it again. Luke’s interest in an older woman led to an unexpected geography lesson, something that Luke accepted even though he really didn’t want to learn. Alex’s time spent in “steerage” was mildly amusing, and of course it all ended with a stolen wallet and a visit from a confused Manny. I’ve never seen a meaner train crew, and you’d think they’d at least give passengers the chance to show their tickets before shouting them down as trying to move up into a different class. Jay struggling to get Dede’s new stepson not to tell his father to call off the wedding was fun, and the fact that Dede is ultimately just as crazy as her new arsonist husband was great. Will the wedding be the main focus of the finale? We’ll see – it could be enjoyable.

Monday, May 23, 2016

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 5, Episode 3 “Truth Be Told” (B+)

I suppose it’s not crazy to expect that there’s still plenty to learn about Reese’s past. What’s more impressive is that, so many years into this show, actors like Annie Parisse are still up for an occasional guest spot as a long-dead recurring character. In the previous episode, we were reminded of the many people that Reese has killed and the notion that he didn’t always save people. Shooting a suspect point-blank before he knew for a fact that he was guilty was a cutthroat and brutal decision, and neither he nor Kara seemed remotely disturbed about it. The fact that he told Brent’s brother that he was innocent and that he was killed in action is a sign of a more compassionate and caring person. What I liked most was that Keith David’s Terence Beale didn’t let the CIA know that Reese is still alive since he likes the idea of him being out there. I didn’t realize that Iris was still in the picture, though unfortunately the end of the episode indicates that she’s moving on since Reese can’t fully let her in. Root installing the malware in a not-networked computer was a bold move, but she and Finch do make a great team who should be able to figure out how Samaritan works and help use the machine to take it down and save the world. As Root keeps mentioning, hopefully they’ll find Shaw in the process and bring the much-missed Sarah Shahi back to the show.

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

The Grinder: Season 1, Episode 22 “Full Circle” (B+)

I thought that this show had a decent chance at a renewal, but unfortunately that didn’t happen, so this is it. I like that the opening moments of the episode solved the mystery of who was behind Cory Manler and the lawsuit against Dean Sr., showing each of the events that led Leonard the prosecutor, played by Kumail Nanjiani of “Silicon Valley” and “Franklin and Bash,” to plot the downfall of the Sanderson family. I suppose that’s exactly how the Grinder would have solved a case on the show-within-a-show that so humorously anchored so many of this show’s episodes, and therefore it was very fitting. The inexplicable, illogical twist that he had a twin brother was even more appropriate, and somehow the entire case got dismissed, which was great. Much like I lamented the underuse of one major female character on “Grandfathered,” I also think that both Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Debbie) and Natalie Morales (Claire) could have been featured more prominently on this show, and this episode gave a bigger spotlight to Debbie as she got drunk and then had to steal her children’s tape recorder back to try to cover for what she said. I do think that Hana Hayes and Connor Kalopsis were great as the kids on this show, and they played a pretty big role in this season. Best of all, Rob Lowe and Fred Savage were a strong pair, never missing a beat in their eternal battle between theatrics and logic. I’m sure Lowe will be back with another show soon, but I did enjoy him here.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Rob Lowe

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 3, Episode 20 “Emancipation” (B)

It’s hard to tell whose side certain inhumans are really on these days, and this episode was all about deception to get to its big and admittedly cool reveal. The first thing I’ll say is that I still haven’t seen “Captain America: Civil War,” and the only thing that seems like news to me is that these accords have divided the Avengers and it’s relevant to this show because the inhumans, as powered people, are supposed to register themselves so that the government can determine whether or not they should be classified as threats. Talbot being paraded through the S.H.I.E.L.D. base to express his constant disapproval at the seeming level of disorganization felt like a waste of time, and then it ended up being even more of a theatrical thing since all Talbot had not seen outweighed the incompetency he thought he was witnessing specifically because of how covert and smooth their operations were. Lincoln seemed all too eager to leave to be with Daisy, and May swapping him out for Lash so that the inhuman-hunter could get rid of the ultimate inhuman was an extremely smart plan. This was the first time we’ve seen anything close to fear in Hive’s eyes via Ward’s body, and it’s a shame that the chain-happy James killed Lash before he could truly finish the job. I don’t think Hive is down for the count, which makes me wonder whether anything can truly defeat him, and this army of zombie inhumans that even Dr. Radcliffe isn’t proud of is going to be a formidable threat to the continued existence of humans and inhumans on earth, one that should be thoroughly addressed in the two-hour season finale.

What I’m Wathcing: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Relationship More Populated” (B+)

This show has developed a certain general format for each episode, which finds Jack and Emma living their lives and fretting about others finding out about their more populated relationship and then shifts gears completely when Izzy shows up at their door to rock their world with a new theory on how to make it work. The main complication of this episode didn’t even come up at all after the opening scene, in which Emma got very defensive and told Ava that no one liked her because of her name. Emma’s temper is very entertaining, and the way that she reacted to meeting Nina, who came up to see them at the bar and asked for their intentions for her girl Izzy, was amusingly prickly. Nina calling them Uncle Jack and Aunt Emma was an added bonus and a victory point for her against the couple she felt was abusing her friend. Speaking of that friend, Izzy showing up to pitch a tent in their living room so that they could have a completely platonic, very drug-assisted night together in their own home was extremely sweet and thoughtful, and it was going so great until Izzy once again dropped a huge bombshell and then got offended when Jack and Emma needed to stop and return to the real world before simply accepting it. I was proud that Jack spoke up honestly and said he was confused since nothing about the tent being pitched in the living room should have suggested that they were ready to have her move in, let alone without being invited. It’s sad to think that they may have broken up, and while we still have two episodes left in this season (and hopefully many more after that!), I’m sure that this relationship isn’t completely done just yet.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What I’m Watching: Grandfathered (Series Finale)

Grandfathered: Season 1, Episode 22 “The Cure” (B+)

At the time that this episode aired, this show hadn’t yet been cancelled, but now, almost two weeks later, that’s been a fact of life for a while now. There wasn’t even much chance of this show surviving, but it’s a shame since I did really enjoy it and would have loved to see more of it. This episode in particular set events in motion for what I imagine would have been an interesting second season with a newfound strained relationship between Jimmy and Sara. It wasn’t too hard for Sara to break up with Craig despite his intent to immediately move in and his poor reaction, but Jimmy chickened out and couldn’t complete his part. That he went to the airport and broke up with her after the fact only made it worse since he never intended to fill Sara in on the timing of it, and that led to the unsatisfying ending to this episode since we now have to permanently picture Jimmy sitting by himself at a concert waiting for a date who’s never going to show up. Fortunately, though Gerald’s proposal plan worked horribly and Vanessa didn’t pick up on the sentimental nature of each of their stops, it was so incredibly sweet that she ended up asking him to marry her while she was throwing up on the side of the road. The thing I’m most sad about regarding this show’s cancellation is that Christina Milian never had enough to do and I think Vanessa was a great character. Oh well, I guess a season is all we’ll get. This was fun while it lasted.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Paget Brewster as Sara

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

New Girl: Season 5, Episode 21 and 22 “Wedding Eve” and “Landing Gear” (B)

These were generally fun episodes, though I don’t know that this show really has a better case for coming back for another round than its two Tuesday night companions that were just cancelled. I’m still going to watch of course, since I don’t think there’s anything that this show could do to really make me stop watching again. I’m glad that, after Jess distracted herself and everyone for an entire episode with a game of True American to avoid getting proposed to by Sam, it finally came out that he needed to break up with her because he was in love with Diane after all. Good riddance to him – he didn’t contribute much, and now Jess has the chance to realize that she’s still in love with Nick. The best part of these two hours was when she yelled at Nick for not realizing how great he was, which was of course closely followed by the news that he was going to give it a try with Reagan. I’m glad that Megan Fox did decide to show back up for the finale, though she definitely seemed much nicer and sweeter than the ice queen who first moved into the loft while Jess was on jury duty. I like how Winston’s relationship with Aly is progressing, and that they got to tell each other “I love you” after Aly was throwing up like crazy. And then there’s Schmidt, who thought it was a good idea to make the ultimate gesture and fly to convince Cece’s mom to come to the wedding when she ended up flying there on her own anyway. Some silly shenanigans followed, and I’m hopeful that their life as a married couple will prove slightly more entertaining than their time as an engaged one. This season wasn’t terrible but it also wasn’t great – this show can do better in season six.

Season grade: C+
Season MVP: Nasim Pedrad as Aly

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 2, Episode 21 “The Runaway Dinosaur” (B-)

I’m not a huge fan of hokey episodes, and that is completely what this was. I don’t really buy the notion of the speed force existing as a physical entity with the ability to personify itself and take the form of people from Barry’s life, and that was an extraordinarily manipulative device that I didn’t find effective. It’s interesting to see what’s happening now and the role that people have in Barry’s life. Henry returning all of a sudden and now claiming to have some interest in an active role in his son’s life is awfully presumptuous, especially because other people, like Harry, have been around and watching over him while his real father was away following his release from prison. Iris sort of declared her love, or rather her desire for love, to Barry, and now they seem to be moving closer together, with an emphatic hug rather than a kiss after she managed to lure him back from permanently staying in the speed force – whatever that means. The simultaneous resurgence of Tony was worthwhile only for Cisco’s “iZombie” reference and the fact that he was played by Greg Finley, who was Drake on that show, which happens to air right after this show on the CW. Zoom’s metahuman gathering at the end of the episode and his threat to Caitlin were foreboding, and it’s hard to see how the returned Barry and his friends will be able to think of a plan that will be able to defeat them.

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest

Person of Interest: Season 5, Episode 2 “SNAFU” (B+)

This was a cool episode that managed to recap the entire show so far and attack the question of whether these characters are really good at their core. At first, the machine was being very trippy and comically mixing up the main characters’ faces, which enabled the cast to do great impressions of each other. After that, it was exciting to see the machine start to spit out numbers, but the thirty it came up with all seemed like false positives than showed just how jumbled it really was. Trapping Finch and Root and then weakening Root showed just how dangerous the machine can be, and that was before Finch put it together that it was the machine and not Samaritan who hired the hitman trying to kill Reese. The machine showing them all the awful things that Root and Reese did was intriguing and thought-provoking, and then Finch got grouped in with them because he destroyed and rebooted the machine forty-two times. Root knocking herself out so that she couldn’t be used as a bargaining chip was a smart idea, and ultimately it was Finch showing the machine all the people they had saved that managed to get it back on their side. Now things should be back to normal, with the team having a nice picnic out in the park and Fusco getting commendation for dealing with his number, the one true threat that he was able to stop. Unfortunately, Reese didn’t keep an eye on another number who has now been hired for a foreboding job that seems a lot like it’s going to be to hunt down those who just brought the machine back to life.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What I’m Watching: Blindspot

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 21 “Of Whose Uneasy Route” (B+)

I actually liked this episode a lot, since it didn’t have anything to do with the tattoos and then ended on an unexpected note that wasn’t related to the major events of the hour. At first, it seemed like the lockdown might just serve as an opportunity for a few of our characters to be sequestered in tight spaces and have some important conversations with each other. That totally happened, with the most effective and informative dialogue coming out between Mayfair and Tasha. At first, Mayfair was lecturing Tasha about going down the wrong path, and then when Tasha finally came clean, she got very angry that Tasha didn’t trust her. Edgar and Sarah were in close quarters and Sarah was really not happy about that, and it’s a shame that, after everything, Sarah told him that she’s moving to Portland and they’re not going to be able to pursue their relationship even if he wanted to start it back up again. I liked the action content of this episode, with Jane sliding under the door just as it is closed and Edgar getting pulled out of the elevator just as it plummeted and would have sent him to his death. I enjoyed Kurt’s museum comment that Patterson took as a compliment even though it wasn’t meant as such. Mayfair getting arrested for murder seemed like it was something that would be dismissed quickly, but Jane realizing that everything that was being thrown at Mayfair was a result of what Oscar had her do confirms that this was a deliberate frame job a long time in the making which makes Mayfair’s future look very uncertain.

What I’m Watching: The Detour

The Detour: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Wedding” (B-)

This show is continuing to get more and more unserious, which makes for good entertainment but not necessarily as high-quality television. The fact that this episode started with the police analysis debrief that they had no idea at the time that Dr. Rob was a pedophile trying to marry the sixteen-year-old daughter of the woman that they thought was his intended bride meant that it was just a matter of time before they realized as they dug themselves deeper and deeper into the hole that was this backwards situation. Vigorously arguing against what they thought was anti-Semitism turned into a truly embarrassing mess as soon as they realized just how much they misread things, which didn’t happen until the very last moment as Robin was about to marry them. Her previous ordination to combat one form of bigotry nearly led her to certify something she definitely didn’t believe in, but until that point she was extremely excited to be able to put it to good use. Oksana was extremely unapologetic about flirting openly with Nate, and his insistence on being a good guy while she thought he was a bad guy was entertaining. Jared sprang into action to try to save the girl he had developed quite the crush on during their time at the bed and breakfast, and though he still lacks some important basic comprehension about how babies are made, it was a valiant effort. It’s about time these guys left town, and I’m sure more crazy misadventures await them as they continue to head south towards their daunting destination.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 2, Episode 21 “Chapter Forty-Three” (B+)

Just as it did at this time last year, this show is seriously amping up the telenovela factor and throwing some crazy wrenches in its plotlines, but I guess that’s to be expected. It’s not too surprising that Anezka has ulterior motives, but her character development doesn’t totally make sense. I thought that she wasn’t actually Petra’s sister and was one of Mutter’s patients who had her face changed, but it appears she’s merely allied with their mother in a nefarious plot to get revenge on Petra. Hopefully Anezka’s good heart will spare Jane’s new competition her life or whatever serious heartbreak awaits her. The bigger shock is that, after we see Mutter conniving with Derek on the boat, we now find her bound and gagged under the Fairwick, a puzzling development that tells us that Derek is working with another partner who I’m pretty sure is not Petra’s mother. All of this business about Mateo’s first birthday party was more of a distraction than anything, but the important takeaway is that they did make it despite everything, and Rafael and Jane are in a good place even if he’s starting to think there’s a spark between them that there definitely isn’t. Missing out on the opportunity to get her book published is a shame, but it’s smart that Jane is waiting. Rogelio going to such great heights – pun intended – to make sure Jane’s wedding could still happened as planned was very entertaining, and finding a way to helicopter Michael’s mother in was a nice touch. I look forward to watching him be the face of the strike as he fights for the rights of the crew members he neglected and abused for so long.

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 2, Episode 4 “Emergence” (B)

I’m going to be honest – I have no idea what’s going on. This whole concept of destroying time itself makes no sense to me, and I’m nodding along eagerly as Jones keeps explaining it anyway since I think it’s well-done and exciting. Ramse heading back to 1944 and missing opportunity after opportunity to interfere and change the past was troubling but extremely well-conveyed as his timeline was interspersed with what we already saw happen with James and Cassie. When he got handcuffed to the radiator by Vivian and Wasp, it seemed that all hope was lost, but his presence there managed to change things. Jones frantically checking the newspaper listings for Ramse’s ad was cool, and I do like how this show handles the passage of time in the past and the passage of time in the future as they correspond to each other. I’m glad that Jay Karnes ended up having a bigger part in which FBI agent character managed to wise up and realize that there was something seriously strange about the three of them and that they weren’t actually German spies. Having him see them disappear as they splintered back was pretty awesome, but that wasn’t the best part of 1944 as it led directly to the future. Vivian staying alive in the past and having a son was a cool twist, and the revelation that he grew up to be the Pallid Man was very intriguing, though it spells trouble for Jennifer, who finally thinks it’s time to stop the voices.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 5, Episode 3 “The Eagle” (B+)

The writing on the wall for Bob Bradley last week, and the extreme level of confidence that Selina placed in him only made the reveal of his deteriorating mental state all the more problematic. Leaving a meeting to hail a taxi and forgetting the gender of the president were particularly lamentable missteps, and Selina’s failure to listen to anything that Amy said didn’t help matters much. Richard’s ability to get the truth during the Whitman meeting without realizing what he had accomplished was typically entertaining, and he’s really shining while Jonah just gets told to shut up by everyone around him. I like that Amy isn’t furious at Dan for sleeping with her sister instead of her but that they’ve instead turned it into a competition, with Amy currently having the upper hand since Dan misheard her sister and thought that she worked for CBS News and not CVS, far more embarrassing than the fact that Dan still slept with Amy’s sister. Mike’s attempt to get a dinner reservation failed miserably, and on a show full of mean, spiteful people, it’s still hard to top Roger Furlong. Announcing the new adoption ban is going to take a toll on Mike, and that’s sure to undo the positive spin they accomplished after Selina tweeted an unfortunate joke she thought she was sending by private message to her new beau. Speaking of Charlie, his affinity for Gary definitely faded after hearing a story one too many stories, and Selina’s delayed arrival couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 3, Episode 3 “Meinertzhagen's Haversack” (B+)

Things were plenty awkward before, and now they’re getting downright impossible to watch. Starting with the repeated tours of the same space in which the box would be installed and the news that a Pied Piper engineer would need to be stationed for 24-hour maintenance for a year projected a dim outcome for the new Pied Piper vision that Barker was selling. Richard’s efforts to go over Barker’s head to Laurie backfired badly, mainly because it got Barker upset and inspired him to show Richard how much power he has as the CEO that Laurie isn’t going to remove, taunting him with the threat that he should have killed the king if he was going to shoot him. It’s unfortunate that Richard getting fired as the CEO is exactly why Barker can’t meet the same fate since it would make her look like someone who just fires CEOs. Gilfoyle’s departure was quick and managed to earn him so much recruiter SWAG that he didn’t even know what to do with it, and the one meeting he did bother to take was with Endframe, where he discovered that they were working with the guys from Nucleus to go to market on a product that’s pretty much going to knock Pied Piper out of the competition. I love that the gang hatched a secret plot to build the product that they wanted while pretending to build the box. It’s just a shame that Richard decided to shred the papers at work and managed to slip and promptly reveal the plans to Barker, who is sure to be furious about this subversive attempt and make them pay for it. Making fun of Dinesh’s chain may be the thing to do, but I prefer laughing at him for the fact that the monitors he wanted are now blocking his view.

What I’m Watching: Quantico

Quantico: Season 1, Episode 21 “Closure” (D)

This is the penultimate episode of the season, and I feel like now that we’ve actually seen a character kill another in cold blood with no ambiguity at all, we finally know who the real terrorist is. There have been so many fake reveals over the course of the past twenty episodes, and I truly believe that the writers were still deciding. The good news is that it’s more credible to have Liam as the terrorist since he was on the show from the very beginning rather than added late which would have been cheating, though there are still some holes regarding his supervision of the case after Grand Central was bombed that I don’t think add up. His grievances with the institutions of the government make sense, and that has been building over the course of the past few episodes, so it’s nothing new. What’s most irritating about this show is the way that these FBI trainees and the agents in charge jump to immediate conclusions and report on each other right away without taking the time to confront the accused and ask what’s actually going on. Shelby gets the blame in this hour for pushing everyone away and not telling them the truth when given the opportunity, and I can’t comprehend why Caleb felt the need to once again assume that he knew what was best for Shelby. How Liam replicated Drew’s voice is a mystery, and of course as an irrelevant character, he was able to get blown up as things are finally going to be resolved if all of the agents don’t bumble too much in the finale. But what will drive season two? I don’t even want to know right now.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 3 “Oathbreaker” (B+)

Jon Snow’s reincarnation has been a thing so long in the making that it’s to be expected that it would be hard to find words to accurately address the situation. His inability to grapple with his rebirth was understandable, and he did manage to put the fear of god – or whatever they thought he was – in his people and take charge once again. His request for last words from the men about to be executed for his murder prompted two haunting declarations, one that he shouldn’t be alive and the other expressing his willingness to do it all over again. Jon’s decree that his watch has ended was emphatic, to be sure, but I don’t know exactly where that leaves him and those sworn to follow him. Ramsay acquiring the least interesting Stark sibling is definitely bad news, and I’m sure he’ll milk that for all it’s worth. Bran’s latest vision gave him reason to doubt much of what his father ever told him, and though the young Stark son isn’t getting too far geographically, he’s making enormous discoveries that will aid him in the near future if he ever encounters the real world again. Tommen standing up for himself is a reassuring sight, though the High Sparrow’s suggestion that Cersei still needs to be tried for her crimes makes it seem like the young king won’t be in power for long. Arya held up well under questioning and in combat, and it seems like she’s been gifted with her sight again, which should help her continue her training to be a formidable and mysterious warrior. I loved that Tyrion got bored and tried to make conversation with Grey Worm and Missandei and had to realize that he couldn’t play a drinking game without drinking.

What I’m Watching: House of Lies

House of Lies: Season 5, Episode 5 “Above Board Metrics” (B+)

I’ve only been on one cruise, but I can tell you that my stateroom wasn’t even a fraction of the size of the living room that our high-paid consultants scored for free. I like that this show has created a cast of recurring characters who can pop back up and be instantly recognizable, and even though I couldn’t recall the specific circumstances of the last interaction between Marty and the insufferable Dushkin twins, I remembered right away that they were impossibly irritating. It was fun to watch the pod pitch a crazy idea to the Dushkins and then subvert it so that they could trick them into backing down on their demands, a plan that worked to perfection. It was other things that were threatening them, namely the consistently destructive effects of alcohol when consumed by any of the members of the pod. Marty and Jeannie drunk-dialing their baby was a pretty legendary moment, but it wasn’t nearly as likely to produce regret as Marty’s decision to give both Clyde and Doug partnerships only an hour or two after Marty told Clyde he was going to call the wambulance. I’m glad that Clyde isn’t going anywhere, though I did think that he was going to sleep with the captain. His false hints did send Doug right to her room though, and he managed to make a great mess of it and get himself locked in his room. Something tells me that it’s a good thing nothing happened since his feelings on the non-exclusive nature of his relationship may not be entirely accurate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife (Series Finale)

The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 22 “End”

It doesn’t feel like this show ran for seven years. I wasn’t fond of the pilot at all, giving it a C-, but I was recapping it for another site anyway, and so by the time I got to episode seventeen, I decided I like it and started reviewing it regularly. Looking back through my reviews, I realized that I found the show to be consistently great from halfway through season one until season five, right up until the point that Will died following an extraordinarily explosive and exciting change of pace with Alicia leaving the firm. While most considered that a creative resurgence, I think the show never got bad until after Josh Charles left the show. Unfortunately, following his departure things went downhill, and the show was never the same. The fact that the show ends on a note related to Peter and yet another corruption charge shows that it didn’t grow in the way that it should have, since by the time Alicia left to start her own firm, Peter and her standing by him was a distant memory. That all came back front and center in this season, and then there was Eli, a great character trapped in poor plotlines, shopping Alicia as a political candidate without letting her know for the umpteenth time. Scoring one year of parole without any jail time was huge, and I really don’t understand why everything had to be drudged up about Lloyd Garber’s guilt. It’s a weird note on which to end this show, and it also meant that Alicia, who was helping to defend a man to whom she didn’t want to marry, put Kurt on the chopping block and made Diane suffer as a result due to the public question about Kurt’s affair. Diane slapping her in the final moments of the episode was memorable and perfectly in character for her, but I don’t believe that Alicia would do that. Apparently, a spin-off with Diane and Lucca has officially been greenlit, which is puzzling to me since the political storylines are really all that had to be retired. Everything about them should remain the same, and I’m not sure why it needs to go on. I liked the addition of Cush Jumbo as Lucca and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Jason this season, but I don’t feel that this show ended on the most satisfying note. I much prefer the earlier seasons and the direction in which the show used to be headed.

Series finale: B-
Series grade: B
Season MVP: Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Jason
Season grade: B-
Series MVP: Josh Charles as Will
Best Season: Season 2
Best Episode: Hybristophilia
Bonus: The Top Ten Episodes

What I’m Watching: Banshee

Banshee: Season 4, Episode 6 “Only One Way a Dogfight Ends” (B+)

It definitely doesn’t feel like this show is only two short hours away from signing off for good, but still it manages to get even bleaker and more disturbing with a woman showing up to the sheriff’s station and setting herself on fire and Carrie’s home being shot up by armed assassins who nearly killed her daughter. Declan is being established as a true villain representing the worst of what Banshee breeds, somehow even more horrifying because of his demonic obsession. Knocking Brock out and then taunting him before disappearing was oddly intimate, but it makes things much more worrisome since he obviously isn’t afraid to show his face. Much more problematic is the fact that he currently has Veronica tied up in his basement and Lucas is very far behind. Cutting between Lucas having sex with Veronica in the present and remembering moments of passion with Siobhan was very effective, and she really is a perfect fit for him, unapologetically explaining her drug habit and prying into his past without giving him much sympathy. I’m not what Kurt standing up to his brother is going to do, but that’s one storyline that’s primed to explode, with Proctor somehow on the good side even though all signs point to him having ordered the hit on Carrie since the loyally buyable Deputy Cruz was one of the armed intruders. Both Deva and Job defended themselves impressively, and I’m sure that Carrie has some formidable revenge planned.

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie (Season Premiere)

Grace and Frankie: Season 2, Episode 1 “The Wish” (B+)

It feels like much less than a year since this show premiered its first season, but it’s been almost exactly that, though watching the way I do took me all the way through last August to get through the first season. I do like this show even it’s not at the top of my must-see list, and I’m going to enjoy watching the rest of this season once the broadcast networks all finish airing their shows and I finally have the chance to be caught up. This premiere seemed like it was going to be all about Frankie and Sol having slept together, which it was to a degree, but Robert’s heart attack really put everything into perspective. Best of all, it brought everyone to the hospital for a big family reunion, and the four adult children even got the chance to hear way too much about the reason that their parents were considering putting off the wedding. Grace and Frankie’s efforts to find a chaplain who could marry them were very entertaining, and I particularly liked Grace’s poor attempt to make up Hebrew names to convince the rabbi to marry them. The hospital wedding ended up being really sweet, highlighted by the shot of his wheeled hospital bed being trailed by a just married sign and a few bottles attached on the floor. Robert’s health is going to take precedence, but soon enough I’m sure we’ll get to the business of Mallory being pregnant with twins, news that Brianna reacted to in a way that was far from supportive but still very amusing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What I’m Watching: Orphan Black

Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 4 “From Instinct to Rational Control” (B+)

This was a less serious in many ways mainly because of the prominent role that Donnie took in the hour, which is always a sign that humor is sure to follow. I like that he was really impressed with Alison’s legwork on the identities that she fabricated for Felix and him to use. His overcompensating while he and Felix posed as gay potential parents was especially entertaining, and his phone sex with Alison as he prepared to give his sample was one of his most memorable moments since he and Alison danced in piles of money. Alison getting recognized as Beth was a surprise, mainly since she’s so rarely in the field. Sarah telling her to do her part for once wasn’t particularly kind, and it clearly stung the already short-tempered Alison. Mrs. S staging a reconciliation between Sarah and Felix was important, and Sarah can use all the friends she can get. MK managed to entrap Ferdinand and nearly murder him for the crimes he committed against her, and it’s very informative to learn about MK’s past and her dear departed friend Nikki. Susan letting Rachel know that she was on to her plan was an unfortunate development, and it’s crazy to think that Rachel has now become a sympathetic character after she was such a nefarious villain in previous seasons. This Evie Cho is very intriguing, reminiscent of a much more self-assured and powerful Delphine who is sure to shake up the clones’ lives and the potential for what their existence means for the future.

What I’m Watching: The Catch

The Catch: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Ringer” (B+)

I’m glad that Ben fought so hard to get Rhys to bring Margot into the job he wanted to pull, though it seems that it was always Rhys’ plan all along. It’s a thrill to see them pull off these jobs, baiting the gambling addict wine baron with a shiny briefcase and then staging an elaborate poker room to take three million dollars from him. Rhys getting drunk and nearly sabotaging the entire operation, forcing them to rely on having literal tricks up their sleeves, was very troubling, but not nearly as much as the reveal that Rhys was in control all along and was playing his sister so that he could score an even more lucrative deal. Alice’s point about picking sides fails to comprehend the complexity of everything, especially since Margot and Rhys aren’t technically allied. The fact that Val’s therapist is Margot is crazy, and she’s well aware that Ben is in frequent contact with his former mark, which can’t be good. On the guest star front, I recognized Vik Sahay from “Chuck” as money-obsessed father Vincent and Annie Wersching from “24” as his wife Karen, who turned out not to be insane but instead to be a human being far more capable of emotion and love than her ex-husband, who could only think of how much keeping his son would cost him. In the wake of so many other cancellations, this show managed to snag a surprising renewal from ABC, a development I’m very happy about considering how much I’m enjoying the show.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 14 “River of Time” (B)

This episode contained plenty of twists, and the repeated flashbacks to just before all of the legends left 2016 gave this episode an added sense of drama the way that the second-to-last episode of a season usually does (there are two more installments left in this case). The notion that, if Savage traveled through time, he could be called before the Time Masters and help exonerate Rip and his crew for their disobedient actions was a huge game-changer. That he turned out to be in league with the Time Masters is a shocker I don’t quite buy, although I guess that does explain the extent to which the Time Masters have been hunting them through time. Without them as allies, I’m not sure how the team can possibly escape their current circumstances. Snart and Sara hiding in their room doesn’t suggest much hope, but maybe Jax can assist them in the jump ship after he makes it back safely to 2016? I really don’t know. I like that Stein thought of that clever solution to save Jax, and the other great moment of the episode was Snart announcing himself as “Leonard Snart, robber of ATMs” to compete with Savage’s self-aggrandizing pronouncement. Carter was a formidable enemy in his brainwashed state, and it was gratifying to see him instantly remember everything and sprout wings. It’s a shame that he immediately got killed by Savage, a development that proved that this team can’t waste any more time keeping their number one enemy alive: Kendra needs to take him out the next time she has the chance.

What I’m Watching: Underground

Underground: Season 1, Episode 9 “Black and Blue” (B+)

The way that this episode ended was full of triumph and joy, and it makes much more sense now that I realize that it’s the penultimate episode of the season. Things seemed like they couldn’t possibly turn out well at the start of the episode with Rosalee captured by August and his new friends, whose numbers were far too daunting for a two-man effort to succeed in pulling off an incredible rescue. Fortunately, all three of them were clever enough to pull it off, even if they didn’t all make it out alive. The hero of the hour was Cato, who played his part well in luring some of the men away from the barn and leaving Noah to save Rosalee. Sacrificing himself with a smile was a great way to go out, and now it’s just Noah and Rosalee, who made it much further to freedom than I thought they had. Rosalee was smart to rub the hallucinogenic flowers on her dress to ensure that no one around her was coherent, and I’m not sure whether her imagined interaction with Tom or August’s tryst with Ernestine was more unsettling. Ben getting stabbed after he let Rosalee go was unfortunate collateral damage, and I assume August is going to let his need for revenge get the better of him. John and Elizabeth have plenty to deal with considering there is a marshal who knows that they run a stop on the Underground Railroad in their basement, but what a wonderful ending this episode had with Noah and Rosalee making it to such an affirming and hopeful destination.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 7, Episode 20 “Promposal” (B)

I’ll admit that this episode actually ended up working in a lot of ways even though I didn’t expect it to when it first started. Cameron and Mitchell helping Manny and Luke to plan “promposals” seemed relatively silly, but it turned out to be the sweetest moment of the episode when it all ended with Mitchell having the kids lie on the floor to spell out the word “prom” with a question mark, asking his own husband to go to prom with him. Luke’s glow-in-the-dark shirt was a nice touch too. Alex, meanwhile, was fielding way too many promposals of her own, and it appears that she ultimately said yes with a no-talking clause. I was not a fan of the Overeaters Anonymous jokes that got made as part of Claire’s mole hunt, and the fact that her frantic search resulted in an honest dinner with Jay was nice. Jay training Joe to be a man at age three and fix a car was pretty funny, and Joe’s objections to the severe conditions of his boxing training were entertaining. I liked the casting of June Squibb from “Nebraska” as Auntie Alice, who purported to be a blameless part of a corporate machine only to be revealed as a conniving thief, and it was very gratifying to see Phil spring into action as a realtor and get her to back down right away with threats about the city coming in to bulldoze her illegal home. How did the man’s rendition of “Snappy” only get twenty-seven hits on YouTube?

What I’m Watching: Person of Interest (Season Premiere)

Person of Interest: Season 5, Episode 1 “B.S.O.D.” (B+)

There are a few things I need to say before I tackle this episode. On the one hand, I can’t understand why this show wasn’t on CBS’ fall or midseason schedule and had to be unceremoniously pushed to just before the summer, ended before its creative forces felt it needed to be, and set to air twice a week on different nights of the week. On the other hand, this season will see the one hundredth episode of the show air, which means it did live a good, long life, and having this show twice a week, while not entirely desirable, is still exciting since it means there’s so much of it to look forward to in a short time. I like the way that this premiere started with Root narrating how they failed while the camera focused in on the abandoned subway car, and this episode was all about a return to normalcy for our friends and the little rebellion they’re trying to keep alive against Samaritan and its total domination of New York City. That they’re all identified as potential threats by Samaritan before their new identities cancel out that suspicion keeps the danger level elevated, and with Elias gone, they seem to be even more marooned than before. Finch in particular is stuck in the past, haunted by recollections of deciding to wipe the machine’s memories every night at midnight to purposely deprive it of a human existence that he didn’t think would be appropriate. What was best about this hour is the way that it firmly established three of its characters and their roles. Fusco still doesn’t have a clear purpose, but I like that Reese admitted his technological incompetence but came through with brute force and smart thinking to cool down the machine, which, so fantastically, is back. There’s a lot of this season in the near future, and while I’m sad there’s only a short season left, I couldn’t be more pumped.

What I’m Watching: The Grinder

The Grinder: Season 1, Episode 21 “Divergence” (B-)

I’m sad to report the news that, earlier this week, this show was officially cancelled by FOX. That was expected for “Grandfathered,” but I had thought that this show’s Golden Globe nomination for Rob Lowe and generally good reviews would save it. Since I’m still catching up on my television, at least I can watch the season finale knowing that it’s the last episode, but that’s not too much of a consolation. I would have liked to see this episode become great, and I don’t think it got there, but I think it could have someday soon. This particular episode wasn’t the strongest case for this show’s continued existence, since it found Dean distracting himself with a completely irrelevant “case” involving Liz and her ex-boyfriend Joel and then walking away right as it was about to end without actually helping to defend him in any way. It was all a side plot, an entertaining device but not the most compelling or focused storyline. I already referenced the absurdity of the S.S. Inkspot in everyday conversation, a positive instance of exaggerated humor. Claire having Todd to do all of her work as a way of occupying himself was fun, and it’s probably the best way for the show to effectively use Todd too. Dean Sr. thinking of running with his grandson was a nice chance to see two characters who rarely interact do so, and Debbie shut down that plan right away with a firm pull back to reality for the two of the men in her life.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Morning After” (B+)

Things started out on a really good note in this episode the morning after the threesome, but all that went seriously south when Izzy suggested that they play hooky and Jack and Emma didn’t exactly react well. Nina summed it up very well towards the end of the episode after her intense fight with Izzy when she said that she freaked them out because she was talking about being seen in public, and that took on a toll on the married couple as they crushed their respective jobs and then met to celebrate their good days. Jack got an especially bad reaction from his disapproving confidante, and it’s clear that this relationship would not go over well in the real world, even to those more inclined to accept different ways of life. Andy witnessing Izzy passionately plant a kiss on Emma wasn’t great, and it seems like he’s gone for good, especially since he already got his revenge and slept with Nina. Izzy seems like she’s in a good place and could even probably convince Jack and Emma to keep things going, but they have a seriously unanticipated problem: Ava. She’s been on to them for a while, and blackmailing them into doing her bidding is a slippery slope that’s sure to at the very least pique the attention of her mother, who is going to deduce what’s going on almost as quickly as her daughter did. This was bound to happen, but it’s still not going to pretty or easy to watch play out.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 3, Episode 19 “Failed Experiments” (B)

Things are intensifying as this show hurtles towards the end of its third season, and I don’t even feel like I’m missing anything despite the fact that another major Marvel movie came out the week this episode aired and I haven’t yet seen it. The big development in this hour was that Hive summoned the Kree to Earth and revealed his plan to turn humans into inhumans. That Daisy supported that plan as a way to get her friends and former allies at S.H.I.E.L.D. to understand what she was feeling was troubling, and she was really about to rip out Mack’s heart before the team showed up to save the day. So much for Dr. Radcliffe resisting the evil temptations of what he was doing, since he was so excited about the scientific advances that he was making that he didn’t bother to weigh the ethical consequences. When Hive’s spell wears off, Daisy and Alisha are going to be very upset at themselves and have a difficult time getting past what they did. James, on the other hand, is pretty much immune, just being himself and reveling in the awesome nature of his position. May found the perfect use for him and executed her plan very well. I like that Fitz and Simmons were competing over who had the worse experience with a former ally and that they are taking careful steps not to let work disagreements get in the way of their newfound relationship. Now, if only Lincoln could get on the same page as them and help the team strike back as their one remaining inhuman weapon.

What I’m Watching: Grandfathered

Grandfathered: Season 1, Episode 21 “The Memorial” (B)

This review begins on a sad note because FOX announced earlier this week that this show was being cancelled along with every other freshman comedy on the network. There was never much hope for this one since it didn’t get the critical acclaim of its timeslot companion “The Grinder,” and the ratings were never all that great. But it does have a certain charm, and I think it’s the kind of modern-day sitcom that could have done well for a while. It’s also sad to see John Stamos take on this great role and end up with yet another one-season show. I’ll miss Paget Brewster most of all, and that sentiment is all the more felt since Sara followed Jimmy into his office and planted a big kiss on him at the end of the episode, suggesting that their relationship is finally going to get started again. It’s a shame that it’s happening as he’s so happy with Catherine, but I’d expect that at this point we won’t see much of the fallout since there’s just one episode left to wrap up this show. The notion that they couldn’t even find one true friend of Jimmy’s father who wanted to attend his memorial service is sad but an appropriate testament to why Jimmy has decided to change his life for the better and avoid a similar fate. I’m excited and nervous for Gerald to propose to Vanessa, and let’s hope that Ravi blowing the surprise is the worst case scenario rather than her deciding that it’s too soon or not what she wants.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 5, Episodes 19 and 20 “Dress” and “Return to Sender” (B)

These episodes were fine but nothing special, and something about having two of them each week doesn’t help because it feels like they’re very rushed and everything is being crammed into a short period of time. Fortunately, the wedding is happening soon, which means that Schmidt and Cece will get to focus on something else other than planning it. The best relevant plotline in these two episodes was Nick’s struggle to invite Reagan to be his date at the wedding, complete with a number of burner phones and false identities and ultimately resulting in her being busy. If Megan Fox was supposed to be a temporary replacement for Zooey Deschanel, it would be nice if she was on call to be available for a guest spot every now and then, since her being referred to and never again seen would become irritating. I like that Schmidt’s father was simply delayed cleaning and actually plans to be there for his son, and it’s a relief that his wedding is going to end up being something visually legendary instead of what the plan was. Jess rushing to finish the dress was funny only for the fact that Schmidt was literally the only male at his company and therefore used the bathroom as a wedding planning room. Similarly, the only worthwhile element of Jess and Cece smashing a breadmaker to bits was that it gave them the opportunity to hang out with Aly, who really is a terrific character and held her own when she got put in mall jail. I liked seeing Caitlin FitzGerald from “Masters of Sex” and Tribeca hit “Always Shine,” and I think that Diane would have been the perfect way to get rid of Sam, a character who really doesn’t add much to the show.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 2, Episode 20 “Rupture” (B+)

This episode’s title is, in a way, a misnomer, since it refers to the alter ego of Dante’s Earth Two doppelganger, a metahuman tricked by Zoom into going after Cisco because he thought that his brother was killed by him rather than by Zoom himself. The reason it’s not the best title for the episode is that Rupture was gone almost before he appeared, taken down easily by the hologram of the Flash that Cisco was projecting and then punished for his failure with a swift execution by Zoom. What’s most worrisome at the moment is the level of access that Zoom has to the personal lives of Barry and the entire team, and he’s going to try to rule the entire city while he possesses this destructive information. That he saw the particle accelerator explosion being recreated and rushed to stop it was nerve-racking, but by the time he got there, the damage was done, and it seems that he wants to have people fear him, which is why he doesn’t bother killing those who know his true identity. I like that Jesse and Wally went stir crazy being kept in secluded safety, and though I’m not sure this is how it’s going to work, I’d love to see the two of them gifted with the speed force and somehow band together to stop Zoom. Barry’s apparent death is immensely troubling, especially since the show is called “The Flash” and not “Barry Allen,” which means that he could well be gone for good. Something tells me that’s not true, though, and I think the remaining three episodes of the season will be more than enough time to bring him back.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

What I’m Watching: Blindspot

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 20 “Swift Hardhearted Stone” (B)

Jane’s tattoos really do show up everywhere, and in this episode their importance was underlined by the fact that a little girl whose father happened to be a major terrorist created her drawings with the help of her photographic memory. I knew immediately that I had seen Mya before, and I realized a few minutes into the episode that Oona Laurence had appeared in “Little Boxes,” which played at Tribeca this year, as a bored middleschooler practicing her dance routine. She did a great job here playing the autistic Mya, a character who gave Patterson and Dr. Borden the chance to show their inner geek and have it work very much to their advantage. I’d like to see the two of them get together, since it would be very therapeutic for Patterson and they’d make a strong intellectual team. Speaking of relationships, Jane found her chance to glean the status of Kurt and Alison, a couple she learned that she had successfully managed to break up. Jane’s demand to meet other members of their organization was a legitimate one, and I’m not sure why she so easily just took another assignment when Oscar ignored her question. Tasha made a fair point to Edgar about double standards with sharing information, and he’s doing a good job of keeping a tight lid on anything Carter-related to protect those he cares about. The statement that anyone Bethany gets close to dies couldn’t have been truer as her date got murdered when she went to get ice, a decision that seems to be poorly thought-out given that a dead body and missing person is much harder to explain away than mere intimidation.

Pilot Review: Houdini and Doyle

Houdini and Doyle (FOX)
Premiered May 2 at 9pm

I almost forgot this show had aired as I’m catching up, still nearly two weeks behind on all my television. This series premiered on ITV in the United Kingdom six weeks earlier and airs each episode at the same time on FOX and Global in Canada. This is definitely an example of international collaboration, especially since it tells the story of an American magician and a British novelist working together to solve crimes with an ahead-of-her-time female constable in London. I like the two stars with whom I’m very familiar from other work. Michael Weston, not to be confused with the lead character of the same name on “Burn Notice,” is a friend of Zach Braff’s who often appears in his projects and also memorably recurred on “Six Feet Under.” He has a very casual way about him that makes Houdini seem even more foreign but all the more cocky at the same time. Stephen Mangan is no stranger to British-American coproductions, having risen to fame on this side of the ocean for starring in “Episodes.” I’m not familiar with Rebecca Liddiard, who plays Constable Stratton, but she seems capable enough. The premise of this show is cool, with the dueling beliefs of Houdini’s insistence on trickery and showmanship contrasted with Doyle’s desire to accept the supernatural as possible. I’m not sure how they’re really going to be able to solve crimes, particularly since the police chief is out to get Stratton, ready to make a chauvinistic case against all women forever just because he wants only men to have good jobs. This is hardly a must-watch, but it is somewhat entertaining.

How will it work as a series? Both men are highly regarded by those in the community and an equal number of people detest them. How that will enable them to work alongside the most hated employee of Scotland Yard is a mystery, but like the notion of subway vibrations creating visual illusions, some of this show will require a certain suspension of disbelief.
How long will it last as a series? Reports on the American side of things have not been promising, and that’s partially due to the puzzling decision to premiere this show just as other series are airing their season finales rather than to wait a week or two more until the pre-summer schedule is light. Either way, reviews have not been strong or affirming enough to save this show, and unless British audiences really want to see more of it, I think the ordered ten episodes will be all this show gets, if even that in the United States.

Pilot grade: B-