Saturday, April 30, 2016

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Season Finale)

Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 20 “Better Angels” (B+)

This was a pretty superb finale, filled with just the right intensity and drama that has always elevated this show. I particularly loved the music that played while Supergirl was making a plea for the citizens of National City to have hope – something that could have been extremely corny but wasn’t – and the music that played as she was preparing to save the world. I know some think that this show is too lighthearted and that everything that isn’t Melissa Benoist needs lots of work, but I think that even some of its more irritating elements, like Cat Grant, have been improved to the point of working well and fitting in to this show’s great universe. Ditto Maxwell Lord, who seemed like he was becoming a hero until we saw a secret exchange between him and General Lane. He may well embark on a relationship with Alex in the future, which should be interesting, but it’s also very problematic if he’s deceiving her to ensure that he has a safeguard against any Kryptonian going rogue in the future. Keeping Lucy as a strong ally of the DEO will hopefully help to counteract that. It was a nice surprise to see Cat give Kara – who she finally called by right name – a promotion, one that is sure to change things considerably in an interesting way. I enjoyed the ending dinner party with our friends, complete with James giving Kara a picture of herself, not dressed as Supergirl, as a gift with a kiss after that. I liked seeing Kara and Hank fly together to see what the next threat is, and that look on Supergirl’s face suggests that there’s quite the shock in store for us all in season two. Though it has yet to be officially renewed, I look forward to the second season that I’m sure CBS will commission.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Melissa Benoist

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season Finale)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 1, Episode 18 “Paula Needs to Get Over Josh!” (B+)

This was a great finale, bringing all of its plotlines to a great place after getting things something back to normal. Paula was equally furious at Rebecca for lying to her about Greg and for not appreciating her insane efforts to help her get Josh, which was recounted through a song that made Paula seem even more obsessive and deranged than Paula. Ultimately, however, everything was much more sweet, and for Darryl to come get Paula and have her come to the party so that she could be on the same page as Rebecca was really wonderful. Greg’s transformation, whether it was an act or not, was an unfortunate but believable one, since he and Rebecca connect on so much in private but have entirely different worldviews about how to interact with others. Greg’s failure to indulge Rebecca in any of the things she wanted to do or love at the wedding cost him that relationship, no matter what he said while he was throwing up back home on the couch. Josh finally standing up for himself with Valencia where she tried to accelerate and orchestrate his proposal was a great thing, and it was Valencia who ended up breaking things off. Having him pull Rebecca out of the wedding and then drive to a romantic destination where they had a wonderful night was very satisfying – and genuine – but Rebecca is already starting to drive him crazy by becoming way too attached after he just got out of another relationship. Hopefully their romance won’t be in such bad shape when the second season starts, but I think this was totally a fantastic ending. I also like that we got to see a bit of development with the White Josh and Darryl plotline, with the two of them smiling and wearing tuxes to the wedding together. This show has easily been one of my favorites this season, and I’m so glad it’s coming back for a second round. Rebecca Bloom for the Emmy!

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Rebecca Bloom

What I’m Watching: Girls (Season Finale)

Girls: Season 5, Episodes 9 and 10 “Love Stories” and “I Love You Baby” (B+)

I feel like this season totally flew by, and maybe that’s because it has aired entirely during the time that I’ve been racing to catch up on TV post-honeymoon. In my mind, this has definitely been the best season of this show since the first, and though it didn’t necessarily get its characters to a great place, it has presented some pretty terrific comedy and drama these past ten episodes. Some things are firmly set in the past, like Fran, who at the beginning of these first two installments got to spew a bit more hate at Hannah as he she closed their relationship up for good. Hannah, somehow, has come through everything a happier and more confident person, quitting her job and telling an earnest story about sex and jealously that landed well. Ending the episode with the title song and Hannah running with a grin on her face was a great way to end the season. I like that we got to meet Jenny Slate’s Tally, and I hope we see her again in season six. Marnie having a sex dream about Ray was strange but a strong impetus for the two of them to finally get together and for Ray to come on the road and help her manage the unstable mess that is Desi. Elijah dressing to impress for Dill led to a heartfelt speech, and it’s just too bad that what he described is exactly what Dill wants, but not with Elijah. Shoshanna spicing up the coffee shop and turning it into the anti-hipster joint it was always meant to be was great, and it’s nice to see her find success back in America. Adam and Jessa had quite the blowout fight about Hannah, and even if they don’t see eye-to-eye on the subject of friendship, they are similarly violent in how they deal with their rage. I’m really impressed with this show, and these two episodes had me looking forward to the sixth and final season in a big way.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Allison Williams as Marnie and Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna

What I’m Watching: Quantico

Quantico: Season 1, Episode 18 “Soon” (D+)

There’s so much on this show that doesn’t make sense. I’ve written many times about how I can’t believe that every single assignment the trainees have involves probing into each other’s secrets, like arguing for who gets a security clearance based on the very public reasons that they have been flagged for review. It’s also crazy that Iris, who was flagged only for employing foreigners, didn’t get her clearance after Shelby and Drew both passed on the second try, and her subsequent decision was one driven by pure stupidity that doesn’t seem fitting for the prickly but intelligent recruit. This show has no understanding of how cults work, and the ease with which both Iris and Shelby were able to learn about and find the cult that operates in public places was simply absurd. I don’t know what Caleb thought he could achieve by beating Will up, and obviously it all doesn’t work out in the end given where he ends up. That said, this episode ended with another perplexing and surely indefensible twist: Caleb, pretending to be a drug addict being sheltered by his mother, is actually working for someone else. Could it be as innocuous as helping the FBI and Ryan? Unlikely. This show likes to drop so many shockers and then not address them that it’s going to lose track and contradict itself soon. At some point, there won’t be enough time left in the past to introduce new things that don’t correspond to what we’ve already seen happen.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What I’m Watching: House of Lies

House of Lies: Season 5, Episode 2 “Game Theory” (B+)

Who knew that Jeannie’s relationship with a man who seemed to be the nicest guy in the world would crash and burn so fast? Forget Ken Marino as a sincere gentleman, and replace him instead with the very casually selfish Mark, who decided that it would be a smart idea to report Jeannie to HR for extensive sexual harassment without thinking it would have any adverse effects on her. That combusted in so many ways, resulting in a humorous montage of Jeannie trying to defend a number of questionable things that she had done and written with Mark and ultimately in her getting fired. That job didn’t last anywhere near as long as I would have expected it to, and now Jeannie is going to be indebted to Marty once again as she finds herself in a very different place. It was strange to see Doug cast in an oddly powerful light in this episode as his “Dungeons and Dragons” enthusiasm came in very handy in helping Marty land a major potential client who thought that he was either professionally or personally interested in her. I like that Marty was so vocal about his contempt for the game and all it stood for, even though he later claimed to have thought that it wasn’t so bad. Wanda Sykes’ guest appearance as Jeremiah’s latest girlfriend was a surprise, though it was quite funny to see Marty’s reaction to a crazy woman in his apartment freaking out at him in the middle of the night and making it seem like he was the intruder.

What I’m Watching: The Good Wife

The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 19 “Landing” (B+)

There was a lot going on in this episode, with just three more hours left before this show signs off for good. For several seasons now, Gabe Woods’ Jeff and Michael Urie’s Stephen have been recurring characters whose wiretapping for the NSA has occasionally come into play, and in this episode it was front and center as Jeff tried and failed to reenter the United States to attend his mother’s funeral. The literal tug-of-war between American and Canadian authorities at the airport was entertaining, and Jayne Atkinson’s presiding magistrate, to be addressed as Your Worship, was good for a lot of fun as she berated the boisterous American way of doing things as compared with blissful Canadian practice. There was so much surveillance of surveillance that it was almost hard to follow, and things seem to have worked out in the end for Jeff. The modified opening credits were cool since Alicia is once again standing by her husband, this time with a better sense of taking charge of her life, as evidenced by her conversation with Jason at the end of the episode in which her response to him wanting things to be simple was that she wanted him. Mike hiring Jason to investigate for Peter was an intriguing choice, one that both men thought strange. Diane was not pleased at all to meet Megan Hilty’s Holly, and it seemed like her reaction was going to push Kurt away, but he returned with an affirming display of commitment to the relationship.

What I’m Watching: Banshee

Banshee: Season 4, Episode 3 “Job” (B)

A lot happened in this episode, but I feel like most of it was away from Banshee and therefore a little less involving. This show always manages to outdo itself in its depiction of misery, and that was truer than ever as we saw a broken Job being tormented by his captors. He was almost unrecognizable, and given how much of a personality he has, it was especially harrowing and unsettling. After being more than ready to perform a foot amputation, our friends did manage to rescue Job, and he got his revenge on his torturer nearly immediately with a direct shot to the head. He’s obviously not going to be the same for a while, and the latest turn of events doesn’t suggest that any of our friends are going to be in good shape. Carrie seemed most worked up by Brock marching in with his deputies to arrest Lucas. Those charges might not stick, but he doesn’t seem to be fighting much. Proctor is very distracted, helping out a young girl who reminds him of Rebecca and regretting it pretty quickly. Rebecca’s parents showing up to demand her body is a reminder that not everyone involved in this is a sinner. It’s useful to know that Cruz is fully in Proctor’s pocket and eager to exploit that relationship even more. Bunker, on the other hand, is definitely a good guy, not too keen to jump at the chance to kill his brother after his wife suggests it. Calvin is ready to explode, and hopefully Bunker won’t pick the wrong time to make his move.

What I’m Watching: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season Premiere)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 2, Episode 1 “Kimmy Goes Roller Skating!” (B+)

Ah, this show. I wasn’t too fond of season one overall but I thought there were some great aspects to it. This premiere, absurd as usual, emphasizes some of the best and most ridiculous elements that make this show work. I’m still not so into Lillian as a character, but she’s in the background enough hanging out with Fred Armisen that it’s not too much of a problem. I worried that Titus being revealed as a married man would lead to a long, drawn-out plotline, but instead it was all neatly wrapped up with a dance routine on the Amtrak platform and a handful of past lives coming back up as part of Titus’ schizophrenic personality. I enjoyed the reframing of Amtrak as a purposefully late destination for reuniting lovers, and I also appreciated Titus referring to Kimmy as Kim Blake Nelson, an especially humorous nickname given the fact that Tim Blake Nelson plays her father on the show. Kimmy’s spirit, as always, continues to be the defining part of the show, going after Dong and nearly getting him into trouble with immigration, constantly driven by positive energy. Seeing Jacqueline in her native habitat was pretty hilarious, as she failed to remember where her house was and then got sent out to the middle of the cornfield to do a dance so that she wouldn’t bother her parents anymore. That’s another plotline that could have gone wrong, yet this show managed to make it work. Here’s hoping for more of that this season, which I’ll get around to watching in full closer to the summer.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What I’m Watching: The Catch

The Catch: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Princess and the I.P.” (B+)

This was a pretty solid episode, finishing a few plotlines in ways that weren’t expected. I’ve been particularly impressed with the princess as a character thus far, and it was good to see that, when her brother showed up to take charge and knock her down a gender peg or too, she didn’t succumb to his influence. Instead, she forged ahead and managed to come up with the hefty sum of $15 million with no trouble at all. And she even gave Ben a parting gift expressly designated for him to give to the woman who got away. Speaking of said woman, it was great to see Alice catch Ben by surprise and show up as a wealthy philanthropist. Working with Agent Dao means that she realizes that she needs to catch him the right way to make him pay, and she obviously wrestled with whether it was what she wanted to do. Her decision to put her finger to her lips and unbutton her shirt to reveal the wire at the very moment that Ben was about to incriminate herself was a wonderful moment, one that indicates that these two are going to have a very complicated relationship going forward that isn’t going to be shared fully with their respective colleagues. Margot dealt with her latest obstacle in an interesting way that does seem to have successfully bought her more time. The case of the week had an unexpected ending, but the good guys appear to have won, which is a plus.

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

Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 1 "The Collapse of Nature" (B+)

I'm so glad to have one of my favorite shows back on the air, and it's a shame that I'm so far behind on TV that it took me two full weeks to watch the premiere. After a great third season that transformed this show's premise by adding the dimension of a set of male clones, this fourth season completely rebooted everything. It's an incredible tribute to the incomparable Tatiana Maslany that she can introduce not one but two new characters and make it feel like an entirely different actress is playing them. It's a particular pleasure to meet Beth, since she's a character who, in death, played such a big role in the start of this show but who we never actually got to see. She's formidable both in her doggedness and in just how controlled she is by addiction. Both Dr. Leekie and the famously-tailed Olivier are back after making exits from the series as well, and it's fascinating to see how Beth fits in to the clone collective. She was definitely in charge, telling Alison what to do, like wiring money to a frustrated and broke Cosima for tuition without an expense report. I like how the show transitioned from a Beth-centric episode back to the present, with Art returning to the picture and this new, mask-wearing clone MK in town to warn Sarah that she's in serious danger. She could have been just like Helena or Katja, yet, like the other clones, she’s so singular in her strangeness. What a superb season it’s sure to be.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 11 “The Magnificent Eight” (B+)

This show is usually all about the science fiction, and therefore it’s nice to see a fully fun episode that resembles the third “Back to the Future” film a lot more than the first two (though I personally like the second film best). I enjoyed Ray’s enthusiasm for getting to experience the Old West and that Rip knew he was hopeless to stop the team from going out and messing with the timeline as they got themselves into a bar brawl within a few minutes. It’s a good thing that Snart had his finger on the trigger to save Professor Stein’s life when he nearly got himself shot from trying to defend a woman’s honor. It figures that they would run into someone who knew that they weren’t from that time, who happened to be Jonah Hex, who I now realize was also the title character played by Josh Brolin in the poorly-reviewed 2010 film. The notion of getting too attached to being in a certain time is intriguing, and it’s evidently the cause of many problems. Anna Deavere Smith playing an older version of Kendra’s past self was pretty trippy, and an important charge for her to defy her destiny. The Pilgrim seems like a formidable and worrisome enemy, especially since she’s starting by taking out every member of this team long before Rip ever found them. I’m not sure how exactly they can combat being hunted that way, and it’s definitely a much more serious and intense threat than they’ve dealt with so far.

What I’m Watching: Underground

Underground: Season 1, Episode 6 “Troubled Water” (B+)

The slaves are still on the run in this episode, slowing making their way to freedom as their pursuers continue to be right on their heels. Coming upon a boat was an interesting development, and August acted quickly to ensure that they wouldn’t be able to navigate before he got shot and started to bloody the water. Ultimately, I think that this show’s weekly format is working well since it’s a grander historical drama, and it gets to play itself out over the course of a full season, plus the second season for which the show has just been unsurprisingly renewed. The cinematography in this episode was very strong, with the small boat floating along in the vast water a powerful image. Rosalee’s ability to swim came in very handy, and she managed to save the day in a tremendous way when the catchers who ran August out of town were about to shoot every one of them. August was formidable in his brief exchange with the Native Americans, and it seems that, despite that relatively peaceful interaction, they’re all for siding with the underdog against the white man. They should prove to be excellent allies for the runaway slaves as long as no other conflicts emerge. John and Elizabeth managed to pull one over on the marshal in a big way, working to establish their allegiance to the cause of catching runaway slaves while hiding one of them in the same wagon as the concussed lawman without him having any idea.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 7, Episode 19 “Man Shouldn’t Lie” (B-)

Some parts of this episode weren’t all that bad, which is nice to see. What I saw as the main plotline, however, was relatively irritating, since Phil being on his own planet is something that happens often but isn’t quite as good as when he’s actually invested in something. Claire trying so hard to make sure that he didn’t find the dog that she had accidentally brought home so that he wouldn’t try to get a pet seemed unnecessary, especially since he nonchalantly identified the pug as soon as he noticed its existence, so long after the dog first entered the home. Jay trying to enjoy his life and embrace his unexpected new friendship with cool guy Reece, who embodies everything Jay admires and knows just about everyone, without giving Gloria the satisfaction of knowing she was right was pretty entertaining. I liked the casting of Adam Arkin, a great actor who has done both comedy and drama recently, as Reece. I wasn’t into Mitchell’s crusade to help his upstairs neighbors come out of the closet, but the twist of Cam ending up as the enthusiastic drummer while the band played the song “Man Shouldn’t Lie” was perfect since that took a truly unfortunate turn that resulted in a mangled attempt by Cam to salvage the situation and impart some tolerant knowledge on the audience. The kid stuff was fine in this episode, relegated to Alex being too scientific with her anniversary gifts and Manny annoying Joe with his questions during his show.

Pilot Review: Game of Silence

Game of Silence (NBC)
Premiered April 12 at 10pm

There’s something about this show’s title that made me not like it long before I knew anything about it, and watching the actual series didn’t do much to help. There are some good actors in this cast, to be sure, but there’s so little about this show that’s appealing. I don’t mind dark or disturbing if it’s worth it, like “Banshee” or “Jessica Jones,” but to me there wasn’t anything that made seeing these young boys who made a mistake joyriding being tormented in prison just because the other prisoners, the guards, and the warden felt like it enticing. On many shows, I feel like I want to learn more about the characters and see where their stories go. In this case, I’d rather forget them as soon as I can. It’s hard for me not to picture star David Lyons as General Monroe on the very poor “Revolution,” though he did star in a more heroic vehicle on the equally terrible “The Cape.” I don’t find him to be a great lead, though he is a good fit for the moral ambiguity that comes with the role. Michael Raymond-James was superb on “True Blood” but I haven’t found anything he has done since then all that memorable. Larenz Tate has been great on “House of Lies” and “Rescue Me,” and he really deserves a better part. And then there’s a man from the aforementioned “Banshee,” Demetrius Grosse, stuck in one of the only inarguably fully villainous roles. I imagine these actors will all be on other shows soon, and I look forward to following some of those series rather than sticking around for this one.

How will it work as a series? There are a number of gaps between what we saw happen when the boys got sent to prison in 1988 and the present, so I imagine there’s quite a narrative to plug those holes. It’s sure to be grim and unpleasant, and there’s also the matter of Jackson needing to keep the secrets of his past from his former boss and future wife, which should up the intensity considerably.
How long will it last? The show premiered okay on Tuesday night at 10pm and then faltered considerably when it moved to its regular Thursday at 10pm slot. It doesn’t seem long for this world. NBC might not get rid of it right away, but there’s no way it’s going to live on past this season.

Pilot grade: D

What I’m Watching: The Grinder

The Grinder: Season 1, Episode 19 “A System on Trial” (B)

Having this show off the air for a while has made me forget all about it, which isn’t necessarily a sign of the quality of the show, but moreso an indicator that it’s not one of my must-watch series. We still have three episodes left before this show closes out its first season and goes on hiatus, possibly forever, though by then I imagine we’ll have the expected confirmation that this show will be back for a second season, which I hope will continue to hone the quality and get us towards a better and more consistent place. What was fun about this episode was that it brought in a focus group, something our friend Dean is very familiar with, to analyze Dean Sr.’s behavior. As always, it ended up backfiring on Stewart, who found himself subject to critique by the focus group and tried to shape his behavior to appear more lawyer-like, among other things that shouldn’t matter given the fact that he, and not Dean, is actually a lawyer. I’m really enjoying the brief interactions between Claire and Debbie. Debbie doesn’t get nearly as agitated as her husband about not being heard, and therefore it’s a delight to see her marvel at Claire’s ability to just not care in any given moment, and to give the impression that she doesn’t care even if she actually does. I’d still like to see Claire put to better use and featured more, but for now having Debbie around to get her to speak is a perfectly adequate and entertaining solution in the interim.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 1, Episode 4 “Check a Box” (B+)

In this episode, our main married characters didn’t even interact with Izzy into the final scene, but, as usual, she was on their mind in a big way. It’s so interesting to see how much Jack and Emma are actually on the same page about going forward with Izzy, since they’re both worried that they are going to become too invested in Izzy and that their own relationship won’t truly be strengthened. That said, they had plenty of great sex without her being there, and just because they were thinking about her the whole time shouldn’t diminish it. I like that we got our first glimpse of Ava acting on the knowledge that she has gotten from spying on her next door neighbors, flirting with Jack and forcing him to come up with a cover story about his twenty-year-old niece that is surely going to come back to haunt him very soon, especially when he has her mother over for a dinner party as part of his plan to win his new position. As Carmen threatened to chase down Emma if she didn’t break things off with Izzy, it was Jack who actually showed up at her apartment to end things. I love how Izzy enticed him to reconsider, and that a furious Nina arrived home and realized who he was, prompting a fabulous cliffhanger ending where he has to answer whether he’s a client or not. I’m extremely eager to find out what he said, though obviously Nina and Izzy’s roommate arrangement is in serious jeopardy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 3, Episode 16 “Paradise Lost” (B+)

This show is really centering back on that original inhuman currently inhabiting Ward’s body and the origins of said race as it relates to Afterlife. We got to see a glimpse of Malick’s past and his family’s immersion in the cult of Hydra, as well as a reappearance of Reed Diamond’s Dr. Whitehall, in prison at the time yet still highly influential on a young Malick. As the pieces came together, it seemed like Malick’s daughter Stephanie, played by Bethany Joy Lenz from “One Tree Hill,” was even more of a true believer than he was. The fact that seeing Hive’s true face only made her more loyal didn’t end up doing anything for her since he opted to punish Malick for his sins by literally sucking the life out of his daughter instead of taking out the disloyal father and keeping his daughter by her side. He has quite the ally in Giyera, who got more screentime than usual as he fell for the trap set for him by Coulson and May but then managed to escape and take control of the ship enough to sabotage it and send it straight to the ground and into enemy territory. I’m not quite sure why Lincoln’s past as an alcoholic is so crucial, but I was impressed by how Daisy dealt with the mines after she successfully separated herself from the first one. Blasting them all away and knocking their unfriendly host unconscious in the process was a neat trick.

What I’m Watching: iZombie (Season Finale)

iZombie: Season 2, Episode 18 and 19 “Dead Beat” and “Salivation Army” (B+)

This season was much longer than season one, increasing from 13 episodes to 19, but I still wish there was more of it. Fortunately, this series was already renewed as part of CW’s network-wide endorsement of its programs, and based on how the finale ended, I’m very eager to see how the show will be different when it returns. There were a number of crucial developments in these two episodes, and enough villains are dead that things have to be substantially transformed simply because the same threats don’t exist. It’s impressive that Liv made it almost two seasons without revealing her true self to Clive, and he didn’t buy it when she finally spilled the beans until she stabbed herself and then pulled the knife out with no problem. There wasn’t much time to think, and fortunately Major survived after his idiotic lawyer, played by the always entertaining Ken Marino, failed to give him the energy bar Peyton delivered. Blaine is no longer a bad guy, now officially the knight in shining armor after she was kidnapped by Boss’ guys, much to Ravi’s disappointment since he too was pining for Peyton. With Blaine’s henchmen and Boss’ team out of the picture, it will be interesting to see what role Blaine plays, although the world has definitely changed in a big way. I’m beyond thrilled to see Andrea Savage from “Episodes” as Vivian Stoll, the military powerhouse who was hanging out and chewing on a brain waiting to meet Liv and tell her the war has started. Vaughn’s death was appropriately gruesome, and though Rita didn’t make it, Major managed to be a true hero in that moment. Drake’s death was tragic but at least we know that he sacrificed himself so that no one else would be hurt. This was a pretty cool double-decker finale, a fantastic capper to a great season that has solidified this show as one of the most consistent and enjoyable on TV.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Rose McIver

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 5, Episode 14 “300 Feet” (C)

If there’s one thing I think that this show didn’t need, it was Jess having a restraining order taken out against her. Jess does enough crazy things that appear stalkerish without having to actually be labeled as one, and this episode’s plot was just a recipe for unfunny disaster. Jess going through a car wash was especially silly and unnecessary, and there are so many moments that she could have avoided the situation and just happened not to, which was unfortunate. Naturally, getting back together with Sam, or at least sleeping with him, was an inevitability, and that’s where Winston came in to reference his cop nature and tried to separate them since Jess was very much in violation of the restraining order at that point. I actually like this show a lot more when Jess is in a committed relationship with someone, though I’d prefer that it was Nick or even Ryan to the pretty useless and inconsistent Sam. Nick and Schmidt were off dealing with the competitor who considered them like annoying ants, and of course they turned that into something much bigger than it needed to be. I enjoyed the casting of Busy Philipps as Connie, and I liked every part of Cece’s role in the whole debacle. This show transitions to two episodes per week for the next four weeks to finish out its season, and I’d like to hope for more consistency and quality, and some general direction other than everyone just waiting out the time until Cece and Schmidt finally tie the knot.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 2, Episode 9 “Nailed” (B+)

This episode did not waste any time in showing all the implications of Jimmy’s late-night copying and doctoring activity. The wrong address on the paperwork was such a simple mistake that it shouldn’t have been a problem, but Jimmy was smart enough to know that it could undo the entire deal, as was the case when the board argued that they had not had a chance to consider the property at 1261, just the one at 1216. It would have been just a simple mistake had Chuck not been in court to see the whole thing combust, since Howard would have assumed that Chuck was just too stressed and had made a minor error. Instead, Chuck knew exactly what had happened, and called Kim over to tell her about it. It’s disheartening but fair that Kim knew right away that Chuck was probably right, and her first response in bed that night was to tell him that they would never talk about it before she warned him that he needed to be careful to cover his tracks. Chuck’s aggravation got the best of him in the copy shop, and that fall looked very bad, which may make things even worse. Mike ripped off the cartel pretty easily, and so far it’s just Nacho who’s on to him, but Tio and the cartel can’t be far behind. My question is when Gus Fring enters the picture if in fact he does, and I’m sure I’m not the only “Breaking Bad” fan who would be happy to have him stop by the show and become a regular player, even though the show is already superb without him.

Monday, April 25, 2016

What I’m Watching: Blindspot

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 17 “Mans Telepathic Loyal Lookouts” (B-)

I noted last week that I wasn’t sure how I fond I was of having David appear as a physical hallucination to Patterson, and this episode featured him almost more than anyone else. These tattoos really don’t lead to good places, as evidenced by the imaginary David leading Patterson down a trail that got her knocked out, tied up, and ready to be sacrificed as soon as the time was right. Not telling anyone what she was looking into was her first mistake, something she should have considered since David could have been saved had it not been for his solo work. Fortunately, everyone knows her well enough to realize that her being late even just an hour or two was cause for concern, and though she nearly froze to death and got shot, she was rescued just in time. It’s hard to believe that an elected official would be complicit in such things when he was so visible, and I feel like that only happens in TV or movies, whereas it’s usually sex addiction, prostitutes, or cheating in real life that leads to the downfall of politicians. Jane is connecting quite a bit with Oscar, opening up to him and trusting the information that he gives her as accurate and honest. Sarah just won’t give up trying to figure out why Edgar stopped seeing her, and he’s doing his best to keep her safe while he’s obviously being watched. Bringing Bethany into the circle of trust was a smart idea, but Tasha is going to be on their heels trying to get information to get out of her own sticky situation.

Pilot Review: The Detour

The Detour (TBS)
Premiered April 11 at 9pm

I’ve wanted to like TBS comedies that have debuted recently and haven’t been too satisfied. I’m evidently still catching up on TV post-honeymoon, reviewing this episode a full two weeks after its premiere. I didn’t expect much, but when I sat down to watch it, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I didn’t know until after I finished the episode that this show was created by star Jason Jones and his wife Samantha Bee, who has her own highly-publicized TBS talk show, and that this series is apparently based on their real-life experiences. My first thought is that a road trip hardly seems like the basis for a weekly TV series, but I’ve made that note a lot recently and it hasn’t been much of a problem. To me, what’s best about this show is that it finally gives Natalie Zea a proper role that makes tremendous use of her talents. I loved Zea back when I first got to know her on “Dirty Sexy Money,” and while she has had some good roles since then, in “Californication” and on “Justified,” among others, she has also starred in duds like the awful “The Following” and Amazon’s “The Rebels,” which didn’t make it past the pilot stage. It’s clear that she is very funny and that the writing on this show is perfect for her. Jones is a bit more unhinged, but purposely so, and I like both of the kids, who proved that they were terrible children when they nearly got taken by truckers who thought they were saving kidnapped kids from their abductors. This isn’t the funniest show I’ve ever seen, but as more Monday shows are ending, I’m inclined to give this show another shot.

How will it work as a series? I didn’t realize until I started writing this review that the second episode of the show actually aired immediately after the first, so I’ll have to tackle that when I review the third, which I’ll do when I catch up another week. As long as the road trip provides more adventures, this show can do okay, but it may also have to reboot itself and air some normal hours if ever they circle back home.
How long will it last? This show was renewed for a second season a week before it even started, and it’s been performing very well since then. Reviews have been pretty good as well, and the network airing Bee’s talk show suggests that it’s all for having two former “Daily Show” correspondents behind some of their most popular flagship series.

Pilot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 2, Episode 17 “Chapter Thirty-Nine” (B)

This show tries to do a lot, and I think that sometimes it pushes the envelope just a bit too much and ends up feeling forced. Jane is a very regimented and by-the-book person, and it’s strictly because of her tendencies that Lina and Xiomara should have known that an all-out rager was not the type of bachelorette party that she wanted, even if they felt that she needed to relax. Rogelio gets pardoned somewhat for being generally self-involved and not realizing that Michael wasn’t actually into a multi-course tasting meal and massages while wearing a t-shirt with his face on it. All in all, things didn’t go so poorly, and Jane was able to bribe her bratty ex-stepsisters into getting the phone back and deleting that message following the horribly embarrassing and totally inappropriate visit from the stripper that she received at school, something that was never a good idea in the first place. The only unfortunate casualty of the evening was Xiomara, who should have been forgiven just like always by Jane but in this case bore the brunt of her extended anger for not growing up after so many years and making the same mistakes over and over again. I’m glad that Michael didn’t compromise his integrity to illegally search Derek’s boat, but it seems that Rafael did. This episode pulled off a spectacular fakeout as it seemed that Petra’s postpartum depression was getting the best of her, only to surprise us with the news that there are two Petras! As the narrator would say, “Oh, boy, let’s find out what’s going on!”

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 19 “Myriad” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what things would be like with all the humans in National City in a trance, and I’m pleased to report that this episode was actually pretty involving. One of the main reasons for that is that there were two very opinionated humans who managed to avoid falling under Myriad’s spell and could still speak up about the crisis that was happening. I love that Maxwell Lord sent Cat earrings that he knew she would wear so that she could be spared and that she didn’t even notice that everyone around her was acting like a zombie. Nan showed up very quickly to taunt Kara, and having three of her colleagues, including Winn and James, throw themselves off the building was pretty terrifying. Fortunately, the only fatality was a character we don’t even know. It was good to see Cat fighting for the survival of the race and trying to limit casualties as Lord prepped his weapon of mass destruction to end the situation as decisively as possible. Alex and Hank did a good job of evading capture by having Hank shift into a little boy, and they didn’t get very far before they turned right around to go back and save the day in National City, with just enough time for Alex’s mom to impress and amuse Hank with her scientific inquisition. Things are not looking good for a seriously wounded Hank and for the impending duel to the death between a mind-controlled Alex and her sister who is going to have to think fast to figure out how to save her.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 1, Episode 17 “Why is Josh in a Bad Mood?” (B)

This is a strange title for this episode since Josh was a supporting character more than ever, but it’s clear that his ego and general state of happiness is deflated considerably when he doesn’t have someone constantly checking in with him to see how he’s doing. Valencia certainly isn’t going to fill that role, and celebrating Rebecca being out of their lives isn’t going to do her much good since Josh still wants to be her friend at the very least. Now it’s Paula who has become obsessed with Josh, to the point that she can’t stand the thought of Greg interfering and getting in the way with what she perceives to be Rebecca’s destiny. Rebecca spending hours on end having sex with Greg is fun to a degree, and naturally both of them would be awkward about trying to define what’s going on between them. Greg’s song celebration of Rebecca’s UTI was pretty absurd, but it’s nothing new for this show. I liked Rebecca’s sing-songy melody more since it felt like a traditional modern-day musical song. I wasn’t too fond of the pie subplot, which ultimately just resulted in Darryl being Darryl and Paula winning right as Rebecca was rushed to be the hospital. That doctor was terrible at making jokes, but he wasn’t as uncomfortable as the state of affairs in that room right now with all angry eyes looking at Rebecca and Greg. I wonder how things will turn out in the season finale and how they will set up the second season that I’m so glad this show will be getting.

Friday, April 22, 2016

What I’m Watching: Togetherness (Series Finale)

Togetherness: Season 2, Episode 8 “For the Kids”

Well, this is it. Every person I’ve talked to who watches this show is equally in disbelief about its cancellation after just two short seasons, especially after this season was so good. Opening with Michelle and Tina getting a sneak peek at the mess that is the “Dune” play didn’t present much hope, but these characters have always been all about thinking creatively and accomplishing great things. Sophie getting injured was an unexpected minor trauma that scared everyone into getting together, with Tina rushing in to action since she was literally the closest, already at the same hospital for a different appointment. Brett’s driving was pretty frightening, and his joy at flooring it on the shoulder was high until he crashed right into the barrier. Seeing Sophie with two casts was an unfortunate sight, and at least one fantastic thing came out of her injury: her expression of enthusiasm for the remnants of the “Dune” project, prompting Michelle to stage a truly terrific plan. Seeing all the kids run around and pull attention away from Anna while she was gloating about the forecasted success of her stuffy French charter school was very gratifying, and the look on her face and Michelle’s were priceless. It’s lovely to know that Brett has completely forgiven Michelle and that they’re going to move back in together. And on what other show would two characters agreeing to have sex purposely because they didn’t have a condom be so sweet? I love this show, and I can only hope that HBO will realize its decision was wrong and revive the show. If not, it’s been a great sixteen episodes.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: A-
Season MVP: Melanie Lynskey as Michelle
Season grade: A-
Series MVP: Amanda Peet as Tina
Best Season: Season 2
Best Episode: “Changetown

What I’m Watching: Girls

Girls: Season 5, Episode 8 “Homeward Bound” (B+)

This was a pretty focused episode that depicted how much of a mess some of these characters are. Fran excitedly proclaiming that they were going away for three months would have been cause for celebration had he not insulted Hannah’s friends in the process, and that one remark resulted in her calling off the entire relationship, prompting some pent-up rage in Fran to finally explode and come out. Hannah is definitely a contender for the most selfish character on television, and while Fran may not have been perfect, he was far more supportive of everything that she put him through than, say, Adam. Calling Ray and trying to thank him with an awkward sexual favor was puzzling since that had never been a part of their friendship. Distracting him enough to crash his brand new $50,000 coffee truck was partially his fault, but Hannah’s failure to understand the significance of what had happened was crazy, as was her quick abandonment of him while he waited for his guy to come rather than be ripped off by someone else. I liked the casting of Guillermo Diaz from “Weeds” and “Scandal” as Hector, who was far nicer than the murderer Hannah briefly believed him to be. Desi having Lisa Bonet’s Tandice ask Marnie not to exist was pretty harsh, but I can’t imagine it’s going to stop her from collaborating with him. Adam ignoring Jessa in favor of taking care of his abandoned nephew was more a sign of his growth than her detached immaturity. Shoshanna’s time back in the United States thus far has been rough, starting with unfriendly pedestrians at the airport and ending with a furious lecture from Scott about how she can’t go on welfare and treat herself to sushi and sake lunches in the middle of the day at the same time.

What I’m Watching: Billions (Season Finale)

Billions: Season 1, Episode 12 “The Conversation” (B+)

It did not take long at all for things to implode in the wake of Chuck’s betrayal of Wendy’s trust. Chuck should realize just how obvious it is that he is using his minions as puppets, and the look on Brian’s face when he heard about the tip Lonnie got said so much. Chuck pushing ahead so aggressively by feeding the information to Lonnie enabled Axe to get wind of it immediately, and he struck right away rather than let Wendy squirm not knowing that he was fully aware of what she had done. Recording her husband’s confession of his actions and playing it for Axe was a bold move, but one that paid off very well, as it got her pardoned and enabled her to leave her job with a $5 million dollar bonus in the bank. She was livid when she realized what Chuck had done, and he did a very poor job of defending himself, with his most hurtful argument being that Wendy was a criminal. Somehow, all of this and the fear that Axe was headed for certain arrest only motivated him to be more effective in retaining clients, ditching his buttoned-up routine and buying casual clothes to really be personal himself. I was pretty surprised that Chuck showed up in person to taunt Axe, and he’s essentially declared war on him, telling him that the only thing holding him back was Wendy, and now that she’s left him, he’s pulling out all the big guns. This has been a fantastic first season, and I’m very eager to see where season two goes.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Giamatti and Lewis

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What I’m Watching: Quantico

Quantico: Season 1, Episode 17 “Care” (C-)

So many other shows are ending their seasons, and this series still has a full five episodes left before it takes a break and then launches into the second season that has already been commissioned. Mainly, I don’t feel that we’re getting anywhere, though the end of this episode provided a clue that prompted many to think that the long-secret identity of the terrorist has been revealed. After sixteen episodes of secretive actions and clandestine phone calls, I can’t imagine that “The Voice” would be careless as to roll down her window and give away her true identity, and I’m all but certain that Shelby is just a pawn. Seeing her there was especially unfortunate given the episode she had, so overjoyed to finally see her parents after the heartbreak of losing out on a relationship with them for so many years. Caleb really is a good friend to protect Shelby in the way that he did, acting to ensure that they got out of Shelby’s life the moment that he realized that they were up to no good, manipulating their daughter into giving them money rather than trying to build an actual relationship with them. The border crossing exercise was just the latest in a series of incredibly unbelievable training simulations that couldn’t possibly happen in real life. Raina and Nimah really did win by deceiving Liam, and I’m not quite sure why Alex got so off course that they ended up in the middle of nowhere covered in snow while everyone else was traveling comfortably. Oh, the many inconsistencies and unexplained script decisions on this show.

Pilot Review: Dice

Dice (Showtime)
Premiered April 10 at 9:30pm

There are so many people who get their own shows, and sometimes it makes plenty of sense. My first and only interaction with Andrew Dice Clay before this show was when he guest-starred as himself on “Entourage,” and I remember absolutely nothing other than that he was essentially like a louder, blunter version of Johnny Drama. I’m not sure who gave him his own show and decided to pair it with “House of Lies,” but here it is. To me, this is most reminiscent stylistically of “Louie,” since it features an actor and comedian playing himself living his normal life in which he constantly embarasses himself and gets himself into exaggerated situations because he just says whatever comes to his mind. Clay is considerably more offensive than C.K. and less apologetic about anything that happens, but it’s the same idea. My initial critique of “Of Kings and Prophets” was similar - who was clamoring for this show to exist? By episode’s end, Dice was looking good to his girlfriend’s brother and his new husband, but he did plenty to upset everyone along the way. And while the notion of him being furious about being charged $5 for ATM usage in the casino was a little funny, his boneheaded nature and inability to comprehend that an electronic fee cannot be waived ahead of a time for an individual user is beyond frustrating and sure to recur over and over on this show. There isn’t anything to particularly recommend this show, and it’s one of the few Showtime series that I won’t be watching again.

How will it work as a series? Dice’s ego and stubborn natures are his biggest crushes, and I’m sure that they are going to be the basis of the R-rated sitcom plotlines for this show. Dice’s bizarre view on marriage is just one of his many eccentric opinions, and maybe this show will end up being more like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as he offends anyone who comes his way, except I have a feeling that Dice will manage to smooth things over with just about everyone he wrongs.
How long will it last? Reviews for the show haven’t been awful, but this definitely is not going to end up as one of the network’s big hits, something that I think they knew going into it. It’s hard to find much ratings data, but I suspect that this show’s chances are really mixed. Showtime has plenty of flashier fare, and I think this is going to be one of its short-lived one-season efforts.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: Fear the Walking Dead (Season Premiere)

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 1 “Monster” (C+)

I struggled to finish this episode, but I figured that I at least owed it the whole hour. I feel like this is a show I should be watching because it’s popular and I don’t want to miss out on being part of it, but I also just don’t think it’s all that interesting. It got renewed for a third season already, which suggests that it might go on forever, but in the grand scheme of things, I watch twenty plus shows at a time and probably over fifty throughout the year, and if this show just doesn’t cut it, why should I stick around? I also feel like there’s something about the Georgia setting that gives the original series in this television franchise a particular appeal, whereas the suburban feel just doesn’t have the same effect. This whole episode being at sea reminded me too much of “The Last Ship,” another dystopian series about a few survivors against a harsh new world that never lived up to its potential. The characters here are not all that great, and separated from the rest of society, they’re becoming even weaker. Alicia did an impressive job of giving away as much information as possibly could about their whereabouts despite being explicitly warned not to, and anyone who thought that taking a swim in the treacherous waters even without knowing there was a walker hanging out in there is pretty dumb. Strand is becoming less appealing as a character by the minute with all his stringent rules, and I just don’t think he’s all that trustworthy despite all the things he’s done for everyone so far. Unfortunately, I just don’t care what’s going to happen, so that’s it for me and this show.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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

House of Lies: Season 5, Episode 1 “Creative Destruction Phenomenon” (B+)

Maybe it’s because this show finished its fourth season over a year ago, but I totally forgot all about this show and everything that happened on it. It’s great to have it back, of course, also because it was so exceptional in its first season then not so great after before bouncing back to a general place of quality. It’s nice to see Marty back on top for once since he’s encountered lots of bad luck recently, and of course that brings an air of cockiness and general obnoxiousness best exemplified by Marty using the show’s token freeze-frame technique to interact with his minions and annoy them. Jeannie is back to her old self, though having the baby has changed her somewhat, namely in influencing her to do things like pick up a random baby and nearly start breastfeeding it before being told by concerned parties around her that it was very much not her baby. I enjoyed her chiefs’ musical routine, and she clearly made a good choice to take this job since she’s doing very well for herself. I like that Ken Marino has joined the cast as Mark, Jeannie’s seemingly very nice boyfriend. Clyde and Doug haven’t gotten far, reduced to fighting over who gets Jeannie’s office and not accomplishing much in the meantime. I was excited to see Richard Schiff return as Skip, and I’m intrigued by his offer. I hope that he’ll stick around for a bit and that things will change in an interesting and entertaining way that keeps him involved.

Pilot Review: The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience (Starz)
Premiered April 10 at 8pm

I feel like it’s very popular these days for TV characters to be high-end escorts while leading cover lives. A few years ago, it was “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” and “Hung,” and now it’s “You, Me, Her” that do a spectacular job crafting characters and storylines around this premise. When I heard about this show before it started, I knew that it was based on the 2009 film of the same name. What I didn’t remember until I looked up my review is that I gave it an F and described it as being completely devoid of plot or anything of interest. Even though I wasn’t too hooked by the first two installments of this TV series, I wouldn’t be nearly as harsh in describing it. What does stand out is that Riley Keough’s Christine lacks enthusiasm in her everyday life which then leads her to charm her clients by getting them to want more since she isn’t talkative or overly flirtatious or anything like that. During her interview, she came off as almost robotic, and she got shut down right away when she tried to take initiative and impress her boss because he doesn’t even want to know she exists. I’m not familiar with Keough, and she’s far less electric a lead than Billie Piper, something that could work well for her but didn’t get me in this first sampling. I loved Paul Sparks in his immortal role as Mickey Doyle on “Boardwalk Empire,” and I don’t think this is quite as great a role for him. It’s also interesting to see Mary Lynn Rajskub from “24” in the cast, though she hasn’t had much to do just yet. I understand why this show could be intriguing, but at this point I haven’t seen anything that distinguishes it from the series I mentioned above, and all three of those were far more enticing even from the start.

How will it work as a series? The second episode isn’t an entirely accurate depiction of the show in regular weekly format since things are still getting going, but I do think that’s part of what will define this show, exposition happening over the course of the whole season and show. It’s much improved from the film’s tedious and lackluster pacing, but still not enough to convince me that it’s worth watching.
How long will it last? Other reviewers seem to have liked the show a lot more than I did, and Starz is looking to define itself as an original programming network, so I suspect that they’ll want to invest in this show and help it become one of their edgier defining series. I’d expect a season two renewal very soon.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: Banshee

Banshee: Season 4, Episode 2 “The Burden of Beauty” (B+)

This show has never been apologetic about how dark it is, and that’s not changing at all in this final season. There are bad people who exist on this show that you’d have to hope don’t exist in the real world, and so many of them seem to live in Banshee. I wasn’t sure what we were watching before the cameras stopped rolling and the police burst in, and Carrie is making use of her time by taking out the trash after an errand Proctor sent Brock on ended up being negated by his instruction for the district attorney to dismiss all charges. Proctor is feeling a lot of rage and needed an outlet, and unfortunately his niece’s boyfriend was the recipient of his fury and paid with his life. Lucas makes a good point that he no longer has to observe the law, not that it stopped him in the past from doing any of the illegal actions he took, and now he’s really out on his own. Asking Proctor what would happen if he ended up being revealed as Rebecca’s killer was interesting, though we of course know that neither Lucas nor Proctor was the one who murdered her. We did see a bloody, unconscious Lucas lying in the back of Rebecca’s car when she stole a bunch of drugs from the hospital, so there’s definitely lots to explain there. I liked Brock’s response to Lucas that spooking their suspect would clue them in about who to chase. I knew I recognized Nestor Serrano as Emilio, Proctor’s new business partner, but I couldn’t peg Dr. Tim Hubbard, who was played by Erik King, best known as Sgt. Doakes from “Dexter.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Take Three: The Catch

The Catch: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Trial” (B+)

This episode was a positive one for this show, upping the intrigue factor and presenting an unexpected communication between Alice and Ben that suggests that neither of them are fully invested in finding him and getting away from her, respectively. Having a separate case each week is a helpful distraction, and it’s good for Alice to dive into those so that she’s not constantly bogged down by the fact that she got conned. Introducing Valerie’s husband and his sister made things much more personal, especially since Christopher was apparently the one who got her a job. Things got pretty crazy after Alice went undercover to test the drug’s effects and then ended up nearly passing out when she couldn’t see straight in the restaurant after she tracked Ben there. Him calling her to tell her to leave was a surprise but an understandable one, and it was their end-of-episode conversation that was really intense. Ben finishing with the warning that she shouldn’t push so that she wouldn’t end up in the trunk of a car even though he wasn’t the one who would put her there was important, especially since we’ve seen that Margot is more than willing to use lethal force in an instant. Killing Qasim was a shock since I expected that he’d be a big part of the story for a while. Instead, Ben has now earned the princess’ full trust, but he’s also exposed himself considerably. I wasn’t sure if I’d get into this show, but now I feel like I’m itching to find out what’s going to happen.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 10 “Progeny” (B)

It’s weird being in the future since the existence of the team isn’t such a crazy thought for Vandal or anyone else, and therefore they’re in considerably more danger. This episode was all about ethical debates since some of the crew believed that killing a kid was justified since it was the only sure way to prevent Vandal’s rise to power. Unfortunately, Rip’s attempt to transmit compassion to Per Degaton, and as a result his perceived weakness only hastened his rise to power with Vandal as his effective mouthpiece. The fact that Rip is so concerned about not destroying the timeline by being present in the same moment twice means that they’re not going to have another shot at this, and instead they’ll have to go back further once again to see where they can really change the tide and figure out a way to set the timeline right. Getting Mick back on their side is a good thing, even if he’s only in it for selfish reasons since he’s now a target of the Time Masters because of his failure to bring them in. I liked Professor Stein’s excitement at verbalizing that they have superpowers, and the best part of this show is always seeing the team in action as they utilize their abilities to take out their foes. The post-1950s romance between Ray and Kendra is going about as well as expected, and he’s being pretty understanding about the impossible circumstances of her immortal bond to Carter. I liked seeing Jewel Staite of fantastic “Firefly” fame even if her role didn’t give her much to do other than to talk about her great-great-great-grandfather and ultimately save the day because she does have Palmer blood in her.

What I’m Watching: Underground

Underground: Season 1, Episode 5 “Run and Gun” (B+)

In the aftermath of the big escape, things are actually relatively calm back on the plantation. While Tom might not be a considered a violent man, he is a careful and methodical one, who is all for investing the time in figuring out a strategy that can best crack those around him. Handing a loaded gun to one of his slaves was bold, but that’s part of his charm - if he trusts them that much, they’re going to prove their loyalty back to him as a result or reveal their treachery in that moment. The sight of Pearly Mae in the stocks was a disturbing one, and being put in a nice dress only to be spoken down to by an impatient Suzanna, whose blood relation to her only made it all worse. Having Ernestine slit her wrists at the end of the episode was about the most peaceful resolution she could have hoped for, which is really a shame. Zeke also met his end in this episode, after a tremendous show of power and strength. It’s great that Rosalee realized that August’s charms were all lies, but it’s too bad that she told him what their plan was before that. I wrote a while ago that I didn’t know this would work as a regular weekly series, and I definitely didn’t expect that we’d be seeing slaves running on top of a train station dodging bullets from a slave hunter’s gun. We didn’t see John and Elizabeth at all in this hour, and I suspect that, before long, they’ll end up playing host to our friends on the run, which should create one hell of an awkward situation.

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 7, Episode 18 “The Party” (C+)

Here we have another episode that isn’t particularly good or bad, defining this show’s nature as a situation-based comedy. The episode’s title only described one aspect of the plot, but that’s because it was the central event that caused everything else to grow from it. With their parents out of the house and Lily bribed with endless soda, Luke and Manny were able to throw a party under cover of baking cookies and painting portraits. That the only real concern was that people’s phones would start dying and therefore conversation could feasibly begin was amusing, but of course someone fell outside before that and gave the whole thing away. Not much happened as a result with Claire and Gloria’s spa trip, and instead the focus was on the other two male duos and their misadventures. Mitchell and Phil are more alike than it might seem at first glance, and their shared inability to comprehend that they were being offered drugs was pretty funny. Everything that happened after that was relatively absurd, but it was hardly the worst portrayal of doing drugs on TV. Jay and Cam bonding over their competitive spirit was fun, and it was reassuring to see them align in some way since the two of them watching a match together seemed like a poor idea. They even managed to miss the entirety of the fight but still got carried away with trying to take others down together instead of Cam being mocked by Jay. At least that helped to avoid more attempts at conversation like Cam asking Jay about the business he retired from months earlier.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Take Three: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 1, Episode 3 “No Penetration” (B+)

Izzy showing up at Jack and Emma’s door at the end of last week’s episode showed that she was also still thinking about the couple who have made her the biggest and most interesting part of their marriage, but it wasn’t clear the degree to which she is thinking about them. She was very upfront about the fact that she left a date with the perfect guy to come see them, and things were going great until they made it all about business, at which point she shut down and put on a cooler professional air. But when she went out with Emma, she was at certain points the one being seduced, and what Nina walked in on her doing shows that she is pretty much as invested in Jack and Emma as they are in her. Emma used Izzy’s distraction technique on Jack to get her way and score the first session with Izzy, but she also made a questionable move by taking Izzy to a place that had romantic significance to her and Jack, a choice made worse by her lack of energy due to the wild night she had night with Izzy. Fortunately, it seems that just talking about Izzy and having her in their lives is enough to excite them and invite some sparks into their relationship, and I’m sure that will only continue as Jack gets to have his second encounter with Izzy in the next episode, which may present similar problems even though Jack isn’t nearly as confident as his wife.

What I’m Watching: Limitless

Limitless: Season 1, Episode 20 “Hi, My Name is Rebecca Harris” (B+)

I think this episode was about as much as we could have hoped for in terms of gratification for Rebecca finally figuring out what was going on and her getting the chance to try NZT for the first time. I love that she decided that she was going to have the upper hand and use the pill allotted for that day for Brian to be able to really read him and figure out whether he was telling the truth. To his credit, he was completely honest, and even though Rebecca was reading him thanks to her NZT abilities, he didn’t try to hold things back or deceive her. As if they didn’t make a good enough team already, Brian and Rebecca together on NZT are definitely formidable, and I’d hope that this is just the start of them working together in secret and accomplishing a lot. Entrapping Sands by making him think that they were going to try to grab his son was especially smart and impressive, and certainly worthy of a high-five. Unfortunately, as this duo did great, Boyle and Naz both took notice, and now they’re going to be gunning for Rebecca the same way Boyle has had it out for Brian, but with good cause and reasonable suspicions. It makes sense that all that remains in this season is a two-part season finale, split over two weeks, and then hopefully the season two renewal that for some reason CBS has been reticent to give thus far. I like this show a lot, and would really like to see more of it.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 2, Episode 17 “Reflections of the Way Liv Used to Be” (B+)

We don’t know too much about what Liv was like before she became a zombie, but I like the few flashes and hints that we are getting. The best part of Liv’s latest meal was that it helped her to be organized and productive, leading to Clive confusedly terming her useful and not distracting for once. The news that Drake was an undercover cop is positive since it has encouraged her to keep hope alive, and of course another cop very involved with the undercover scene was the main subject of this episode. I wasn’t a “Veronica Mars” fan, but I do understand why Rob Thomas devotees would be excited about Enrico Colantoni showing up again, and Thomas himself even got a little shout-out. The effectiveness of the zombie cure is proving unpredictable, though Blaine’s new setup in which he has no memories and seems to think that he is not the boss of his own operation suggests that a blissfully ignorant new start is the best that they can hope for. Ravi did well confronting Major and ensuring that he didn’t put himself in danger doing so, but he didn’t have time to act on what he knew before Major being the prime suspect in the case and got arrested by Dale. There are so many loose ends out there, like Gilda being held captive by her father, that a two-hour blowout season finale seems like the next best thing to getting more than a mere nineteen episodes this year.

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 3, Episode 15 “Spacetime” (B+)

I like when shows deal with concepts like time travel, alternate universes, and the inevitability of the future and address them in a way that acknowledges how absurd such theories sound. Coulson telling Lincoln that he was fired because he had never seen the original “Terminator” was a real highlight of the hour, and I liked hearing Fitz and Simmons go back and forth about their interpretations of Daisy’s vision. To me, the best part was how the team took steps to ensure that the future Daisy saw couldn’t possibly come to pass since it spelled doom for all of them, yet everything managed to work out in the way it was supposed to, namely Coulson realizing that it was a one-way mirror and he wasn’t actually shooting Daisy. And even though she didn’t end up going in so that she could spend a few last minutes with Andrew before he transformed permanently into Lash, May training to choreograph out her assault was very cool. Featuring a family man turned homeless loner due to the severity and mental strain of his new powers was interesting, and the incorporation of fate and purposeful death into it all worked well too. The image of Ward on the screen threatened to throw everything for a loop, but it turns out that no one even ran into the (inhu)man who is most definitely not Ward anymore. After Malick got his chance to feel what real power means, Giyera declared his allegiance and left his former boss behind.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 2, Episode 8 “Fifi” (B+)

I like that Jimmy and Kim are going to be partners - in a fancy egalitarian dentist’s office no less - but they’re still not seeing eye to eye on what kind of lawyers they are going to be. That’s because Jimmy is right, and the first thing that Howard did when she quit, something he responded to very casually and almost dismissively, was to ask his secretary to call Mesa Verde while she was still within earshot. Had she gone with Jimmy’s way, she could have convinced them long before anyone knew she was leaving HHM that they should stick with her. Fortunately, she did a terrific job, and it was nice to see her so happy for once. Unfortunately, Chuck worked his magic and managed to sway them the other way. It took a lot out of him, and that’s what makes Jimmy such a complex character, there to take care of his brother but also taking advantage of his weakened state to plant altered documents in his files. I’m not sure exactly what his plan is and how he’s going to ensure that the wrong address ends up making HHM look very bad, but it is great to watch him work. When he commits to something, he really commits, as evidenced by his war hero effort so that he can get his video guys to make him a new commercial. Ending with a quiet moment involving Mike amping up the security in his granddaughter’s house after operating the drill with her was eerily calm and peaceful, a state I can’t imagine will last long.

What I’m Watching: Blindspot

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 16 “Any Wounded Thief” (B)

It’s never a good thing when chemical weapons show up, but it was awfully convenient that the vial the team found was labeled with its specific intended purpose so that little further detective work was needed. I recognized Sandrine Holt from “House of Cards” and “Hostages” as Vanessa Chang but didn’t suspect her of being the one to arrange for the sale of the weapons to North Korea when South Korea didn’t want to pay as much money. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in this show’s world, and it seems like there could be a better way for whatever Jane’s watchdog group actually is to ensure that these people get taken down than waiting for a tattoo to reveal itself. Jane’s memories are returning in a big way, and remembering her own memorial service at which Weller went after his dad for being there when he was still the prime suspect in Taylor’s disappearance threw her for a loop. Getting tasked with breaking Weller and Allison up was not something Jane saw coming at all, and no one is going to win from that situation since they’re actually pretty happy at the moment and Jane seems to be trusting enough to sleep with Oscar, who tells her that he can’t keep his hands off her or not tell her that he loves her. Speaking of love, Patterson going on her anniversary date without David was sad, but I suppose it was necessary for her to realize that he had decoded another tattoo, even if the way that she remembered, imagining him there, wasn’t the manner in which I would have conveyed the situation.

Friday, April 15, 2016

What I’m Watching: 11.22.63 (Season Finale)

11.22.63: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Day in Question” (B+)

Technically, this is probably the series finale, especially because of the sentimental nature of the ending, but this show hasn’t officially been cancelled and could easily be renewed if Hulu deems it a success. After an entire episode of Jake struggling to remember what happened and piecing together his plan and the grander plan to assassinate JFK, he was much more focused and with it in this hour. The past fought back in an intense way as Jake thought he saw Frank and Sadie thought she saw Johnny as they were rushing through the crowd. Jake’s focus didn’t stop him from fumbling and managing to distract Oswald and get him away from the window after he took the first shot. Sadie dying was an unfortunate turn of events, but the way that it opened up Jake’s perspective on the rest of the episode was actually pretty positive. Getting taken in as the would-be assassin was an unfortunate twist, and for a minute I thought that history wouldn’t be changed in the end and Jake would instead become the second shooter who killed Kennedy, fulfilling the past in whatever twisted way it needed to correct itself. Gil Bellows’ Agent Hosty seemed appropriately shady, and it looked like Jake might be forever trapped in the past. Instead, he got a call from the president and got personally thanked by JFK and by Jackie, which was very gratifying. The future he returned to was incredibly grim, and it’s crazy that he can just jump back into the past, meet Sadie all over again, and go back to the future that he left. Going to the reception honoring an older Sadie as Woman of the Year was very sweet and wonderful, and having her face change back to her younger self as Jake was dancing with her was a nice trick. This show might have been tedious and not as even as I would have been liked, but I think it was worthwhile, if most for this final installment.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Sarah Gadon as Sadie

What I’m Watching: Togetherness (Penultimate Episode)

Togetherness: Season 2, Episode 7 “Sand Situation” (B+)

I’m permanently saddened by the reality that this is the show’s second-to-last episode ever, and I think this episode was especially illustrative of this show’s ability to segue from comedy to drama and back again very easily. Anna has turned into a full-on villain, and she showed up at just the right moment to sabotage Michelle’s efforts to get things back on track by completely transforming the notion of what the school was supposed to be. Michelle’s idea to use Brett and Alex and their enthusiasm for their Dune project was brilliant, and they really rose to the occasion, impressing the audience and turning the tide in Michelle’s favor. I love that they enlisted everyone to come help them steal sand, a fun minor crime that permitted them their own little adventure. Alex pretending to run a workout when the cops showed up was especially hilarious. Natalie showing up because she somehow knew Dudley was a surprise, and it wasn’t really Brett’s fault that it happened. Natalie was very relaxed and cool about the awkwardness of the situation, particularly in how she asked Brett about Michelle. Brett’s wife, on the other hand, was not so calm about it, and she seemed even angrier than Brett when he told Michelle to shut up a few episodes back when she was talking about David. It was quite a scene and a testament to Melanie Lynskey’s acting abilities. She and Brett are going to have a tough time reconciling in the finale, but at least things are looking up for the first time in a while for Alex and Tina.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What I’m Watching: Girls

Girls: Season 5, Episode 7 “Hello Kitty” (B+)

It was interesting to see this episode’s events play out while our main characters struggled with their inability to interact quietly during Adam’s avant-garde play. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Hannah would find it acceptable to get out of trouble with the principal for telling her students that she hated their fellow teachers by inappropriately flashing him, and it’s about time Fran spoke up to let her know how much this bothered him, particularly the fact that she didn’t think it would upset him at all. Hannah realizing that Jessa and Adam were sleeping together was quite a thing to watch, and she didn’t manage to find any of the moral support she needed at that moment thanks to other things going on in the lives of her friends. Marnie pulling Ray aside to tell him that she broke it off with Desi and was excited to be alone was the epitome of her lack of self-awareness. She also did a very poor job of sticking to her guns, eagerly welcoming Desi back into her life, even if not immediately in a romantic sense, as soon as he showed up to tell her that they might have scored a major music gig. More than ever before, Elijah feels apart from the group, but his storyline is pretty worthwhile. The way that Dill played of fthe insignificance and irrelevance of the disparaging claims Elijah heard was extremely smooth and dismissive, and for the moment it seems like Elijah is content with how things are. It’s intriguing to hear that he finds Dill’s friends nice and genuine while he feels that his friends, our girls, are mean people.

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 1, Episode 11 “Magical Thinking” (B)

This was still a good episode, but it wasn’t as even or electric as what has come before this. What this boiled down to was a showcase of long nights had by all the main characters, a time for contemplation, self-exploration, and just letting go. Axe’s session with Wendy was the most official and structured, an attempt for Axe to really open himself up to one of the few people that he trusts. In the process of confessing his sins and getting the weight of shortening Donnie’s life off his conscience, Axe and Wendy managed to alienate both of their spouses. Lara handled it much better than Chuck did, bringing her sister along for a whirlwind night to remember, even though she consumed enough alcohol to forget most of it. Lara and Lou live their lives very differently, and it was good to see them come together for a shared experience. Chuck is a very jealous man, and pulling up to Axe Capital to find Axe and Wendy talking sent him spiraling and headed straight into a sex club to meet with a dominatrix. Finding out he was being followed was an unfortunate development, but not nearly as regrettable as his decision to invade his wife’s privacy and e-mail her notes from the session, a betrayal Wendy is sure to deem unforgivable. I like that Brian and Kate are getting plenty of screen time also, exploring their romance in the most inconvenient of places, namely Chuck’s desk, a total mood killer.

What I’m Watching: Quantico

Quantico: Season 1, Episode 16 “Clue” (D+)

This episode was considerably more boring than most of the hours that came before it, and its quality was about the same. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Hannah managed to get herself found out and pulled from active duty almost immediately as soon as she teamed up with Alex. Part of the problem is that Ryan, who for so long was Alex’s rock and her number one advocate, is now watching her like a hawk, more firmly committed to seeing her downfall than any one of the actual enemies that she has made over the course of the show. And back home, Simon is on Alex’s side, actually making some real progress without drawing the attention of the world. It’s usually true that the flashbacks take up more of the episode than what’s happening in the present, and that was definitely true in this hour. I have to seriously question the choices that the FBI instructors make on this show, employing exercises that may ultimately strengthen the character and effectiveness of their agents but will definitely damage them in the meantime. Running a hostage situation simulation on a plane so that every single attempt could fail hardly seems productive, and it took a lot out of Shelby, who’s already in bad shape. I’m not sure how Caleb and Will will do trying to infiltrate the cult that nearly took Caleb’s youth, but they’re definitely going to try. As has been the case since the start of this show, I’m dubious that the past and present will actually be able to even out and meet somewhere in the middle by the time the former finally catches up to the latter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Season Finale)

Shameless: Season 6, Episode 12 “Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!” (B+)

On this show, it’s always a matter of how long it will take our beloved and deeply flawed characters to self-destruct. This finale was full of such lamentable occurrences, but I’ll start by highlighting the surprising and affirming developments that were particularly positive. The most gratifying success story is Ian’s, since he has overcome so much and even went into the strip club to ask for his old job back but then decided to make a stand and demand the right to be an EMT in spite of lying on his application. Carl is really reforming for Dominique, and I love that her father just won’t accept him and continues to give him a hard time. Threatening to shoot him right there if Dominique’s new dress was getting him too excited was pretty hilarious. Though their situation is by far the least dire, the relationship between Svetlana, Kev, and Veronica is also going well and making them all happy. Debs came to Fiona’s wedding, which was nice, and after a major struggle, Lip is going to rehab, and the desire not to become Frank should inspire him to succeed. One teacher may have abandoned him, but another stuck by him even after all the terrible things he said to him. And then there’s Frank, who could have traumatized Fiona by killing Sean as he planned, but instead he revealed the brutal truth about Sean slipping back into addiction, which destroyed Fiona even more. Some father he is, and what a devastating blow to the woman who was about to finally find happiness. It’s really hard to tell sometimes if this show is actually a comedy. I’m looking forward to an assuredly superb season seven.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Jeremy Allen White as Lip

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead (Season Finale)

The Walking Dead: Season 6, Episode 16 “Last Day on Earth” (B)

This episode had all the makings of an epic finale, with a number of series regulars on the road to nowhere with the goal of survival and ending things for good in sight. Their numerous run-ins with the Saviors were very foreboding, and I couldn’t believe that they just got back into their camper van and drove away after the first meeting on the road. Those freaky sounds were the unfortunate immediate precursor to their being completely surrounded by a tremendous and frightening number of people all wishing them harm. Before we get to the big appearance, I’ll comment that the episode was full of some important interactions, like Abraham and Eugene bonding and Morgan getting back into the killing spirit to save Carol, who just didn’t want to be saved and nearly died a tortured death at the hands of a very vindictive man. Things don’t look particularly good for Carl coming back at this point, but I’m not sure anyone is in particularly positive or optimistic shape. It’s crazy to think that Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s appearance was hyped throughout this entire season and he didn’t appear until the last ten minutes of the final episode, but boy was it worth it. On “The Good Wife,” Morgan plays a private investigator with crazy eyes and few inhibitions. Here, here’s that same type of unhinged but with a spiked bat and a murderous attitude. I’m not so big on having episodes end in mystery like this one when the victim who died a brutal bludgeoned death could easily have been revealed, but my biggest issue is that it doesn’t seem possible at all for this crew to recover and the show to go on. Given how close these events apparently are to the comic book series, I’m sure it will, but I’m left feeling more devastated that I ever have been at the end of a season of this show.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Merritt Wever as Denise

What I’m Watching: Banshee (Season Premiere)

Banshee: Season 4, Episode 1 “Something Out of the Bible” (B)

Maybe I’m just ungrateful, but I was distracted this entire episode by the fact that, for some unexplained reason, this is the final season of this show, which will come to an end after just eight episodes. I suppose that four seasons is nothing to scoff at given how so many other series end much more quickly, but I don’t know why this one had to go off the air so soon. The flashback format of this hour just kept making me think that everything that played out in the two years before season three and this one could have been covered in a season all its own. Putting aside regrets, this premiere was good but not great, only because so much has changed and it’s hard to picture things getting back to normal, whatever that means on this show. Brock has come a long way from being told to shut up and getting slapped by Lucas, finding a way to navigate the political waters in a way that Lucas never could. So many people are gone, with two law enforcement portraits memorializing those losses, and both Gordon and Job completely out of the picture, leaving plenty of mourners in their wake. And then there’s Rebecca, who always caused so much trouble while she was alive, who seems like she is going to be a big part of this season as the events leading to her untimely and bloody demise unfold. As always, I’m pleased to have this dark yet alluring show back, and I’ll gladly take the seven episodes that are left.

Pilot Review: The Ranch

The Ranch (Netflix)
Premiered April 1

Netflix has established itself over the past few years as a television network strongly committed to broadcasting (sort of) a range of original programs. As it has found success with its Emmy-winning shows, it has also branched out to less sophisticated fare. One such effort is “The Ranch,” a comedy starring two actors who rose to fame for starring in a mediocre 1990s sitcom, “That 70s Show.” I don’t think there are many people out there who consider Ashton Kutcher to be a good actor (though I thought he was fine in “The Butterfly Effect," a movie I really enjoyed), and Danny Masterson has definitely come the least far from among all his colleagues on the seventies-set show. What persuaded anyone to create a show about two brothers living together on a ranch in Colorado is beyond me, and I just don’t see the appeal of it. It lives in that strange place between family-friendly and R-rated, with the two adults throwing around expletives every once in a while but nothing else really pushing the envelope. If given the choice, I’d rather the show be as blunt and uncensored as possible, and this show feels hopelessly tame, which is a shame. I like Sam Elliott a lot from his guest spots on “Parks and Recreation” and “Justified,” and this is hardly the best role for him or three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger. Their chemistry as hateful ex-spouses who always end up enjoying each other’s company a little too much is the best part of this show, but unfortunately that’s not saying much. I don’t feel much need to see the remaining nine episodes of this show’s first season.

How will it work as a series? Though it’s set on a ranch, this isn’t an original concept, and it’s really just a matter of Kutcher’s Colt and Elliott’s Beau pushing each other’s buttons enough to keep Masterson’s Rooster entertained while they tend to occasional matters around the home. The promiscuous Colt isn’t much different than Kutcher’s last TV role on “Two and a Half Men,” a show that I fear is a fitting companion for this one.
How long will it last? It’s hard to predict how Netflix shows will do since the network releases so little data on its ratings, but it did renew “Fuller House,” the most similar program currently put out by the network, awfully quickly. It looks like a ten-episode second season (or back half of the first, whichever way you read it) has already been commissioned, so there are at least twenty episodes for those who enjoyed it more than I did to watch.

Pilot grade: C

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pilot Review: Rush Hour

Rush Hour (CBS)
Premiered March 31 at 10pm

It’s very possible I might have been excited about this show fifteen years ago. I enjoyed “Rush Hour” and liked “Rush Hour 2” even better, films I found to be very funny at age thirteen. By the time I was in college and went to a screening of “Rush Hour 3” with director Brett Ratner and was far less impressed, giving the film a D. It’s completely perplexing to me that the film series would be rebooted now, in 2016, almost ten years after the last movie came out, as a TV series. The biggest problem, aside from the fact that no one is clamoring for it, is that the main appeal of the movies was the pairing of action star Jackie Chan with comedian Chris Tucker, who didn’t appear in a single film between the third installment of the series and “Silver Linings Playbook” five years later. This show doesn’t have that at all, with the equally loud but less funny Justin Hires in the role of the American cop who doesn’t play by the rules and the personality-free Jon Foo, who may possess the same martial arts talents as Chan but none of the charm, as the by-the-book Chinese cop sent to America to solve a case. In the supporting cast, there’s Wendie Malick from “Just Shoot Me” and “Hot in Cleveland,” Aimee Garcia from “Dexter” and “Vegas,” and Page Kennedy from “Weeds” and “Desperate Housewives,” all of whom, unsurprisingly, have had better parts. The name of the show isn’t even explained as it was in the first film when it was part of a crucial line. Since I’m still playing catchup from taking a few weeks off TV in February, I’m not looking to add new shows to my repertoire, but if I was, this lackluster action-comedy wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my list.

How will it work as a series? Shows about odd couples can be immensely popular because there is so much opportunity for characters to clash and work together in surprising ways, and this is no exception. I still question what audience is into this show at this point, but I suppose those who enjoyed the movies might find this concept appealing and check back in week after week while it lasts.
How long will it last? The pilot ratings weren’t great, and CBS is always unforgiving. It’s also not a typical show for the network, which has plenty of sitcoms and procedurals but rarely shows that fall somewhere in between. The reviews aren’t all bad, but I still don’t see this one surviving into season two.

Pilot grade: C

Round Two: The Catch

The Catch: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Real Killer” (B)

While I’m not yet committed and fully entranced by this show, I think that my eagerness to see these actors cast in unusual roles succeed may just keep me around. The performances thus far are pretty solid, as it’s clear that neither this top notch private investigator or this con man are as smart as they think they are, namely because the former got conned by the latter and the con man is playing right into the revenge trap set for him by the private investigator. Agent Dao’s interest in catching Ben has led him to circle Alice and trace her every move, even stopping by to pretend to apologize so that he could plant a listening device on her door. Posting an obituary too good for Ben to resist was a brilliant move, and he’s too entranced by his latest mark to notice, which in itself suggests a problematic tendency to go after attractive, powerful women. It’s good that Reggie has his back since he’s drifting far too much towards getting himself caught by Alice without even taking the bait she dropped, and Margot’s reputation of being swift, harsh, and unforgiving seems even more threatening because of her own personal attachment to her number one con artist. I like that there are other plotlines simultaneously at play on this show, like the murder suspect and Ben’s latest mark, making it a layered drama ripe for plenty of soapy storytelling with twists and bombshells around each and every corner.