Sunday, November 19, 2017

What I’m Watching: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 6 (B+)

I was very puzzled when I saw that this episode was only thirty-four minutes long since every other hour has been closer to sixty. I’d argue that it was actually a positive thing for this show, since this episode felt much fuller and more engaging than the installment that came before it. Picking up right in the middle of the other case in Park City, Kansas did feel strange, and what ended up happening there was a conclusion that all three were complicit in the murder. I thought Wendy did an excellent job blunting summing up how they were all involved, but it seems that law enforcement and, more importantly, the judicial system aren’t ready for this kind of complex understanding of criminality. We got a peek into the home lives of the other two main characters that haven’t yet been featured, and Wendy’s was fascinating. Casting Lena Olin as her partner was a great choice, and she wasted no time in ripping the notion of her working more with the FBI to shreds. Wendy wears an incredible mask when she’s with Holden, who is very inquisitive, and her response to whether her colleagues knew she was a lesbian was so immediately dismissive but also tracks with her not revealing any aspect of her personal life despite many questions. Bill’s home was pretty tranquil, with his wife eagerly chatting Debbie and Holden up. It’s crazy to think that Bill has a son he comes home to, and that made his conversation with Holden about children all the more interesting.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 4, Episode 9 “They Is On the Way” (B)

This was a bit of a scattered episode, in keeping with the other installments this season has produced and following its tendencies to reduce episode runtimes so that they feel like they’ve over almost before they started. Everyone looked miserable on the bus but then they went to the Dead Sea, where it seems like they were able to let loose a bit. I enjoyed the discussion about having to wait fifteen minutes before swimming and how Len outright rejected that myth. After some arguing last episode, Sarah and Len appear to have reached an important place, which is the decision that they’re going to move forward without Lila as part of their relationship. She’ll probably shrug it off and they’ll have trouble getting over her, but I suppose a normative relationship couldn’t be the worst thing for this couple to try. Josh, who was kind enough to help his mother into the water, couldn’t get off Ali’s absence, and their conclusion that Ali was a “they” seemed like exactly the conversation Ali would admonish them for having since it assumes that they know what she’s going through (using that pronoun since Ali hasn’t otherwise expressed that she should be called they). Ali’s dip into the Dead Sea appeared to provide some fulfillment, and we’ll see how things turn out when the family gets back to the United States. We got a strange glimpse of Davina at the house, with an initially worrisome and then just plain weird interaction with the tenant, who I sincerely hope leaves as soon as they return. It’s not satisfying to check in with characters like this for just a scene every few episodes, and I’m not sure what to expect from the season finale for any of these people.

What I’m Watching: Better Things (Season Finale)

Better Things: Season 2, Episode 10 “Graduation” (B+)

This episode, which was a very fitting finale, offered something this show rarely does - a chance to see all the characters we know together in one room. We had the immediate family, Marion, Dormin, Rich, Tressa, Sunny, and Jeff all there to make Max feel wanted after Xander predictably bailed on one of the most important and influential days of her life. I enjoyed seeing them all interact together, and that’s an element of this often-insular show that I’d love to see more of in the future, particularly Marion’s relationships with the likes of Rich, Sunny, and his mother. We’ve come to know Duke as the adventurous one, Frankie as the rebellious one, intent on not answering the door only because her mother was yelling at her, and Max as the less-than-intelligent and mostly whiny one. Her strict demands for things like a keg weren’t all that bright, and she fell for Sam’s trick that had her bite into an onion to cure her hangover. Ultimately, Sam got her something completely unexpected, a family dance routine that had her smiling from ear to ear. Xander not showing up is inconsequential since it’s always just been Sam in this family of women, and I’m sure that’s going to be even more the case going forward as Louis C.K.’s involvement with this presumably falls off completely in season three next year. This has been a good season, and there’s no denying the strength of this cast, particularly its Emmy-nominated leading actress who has truly found a perfect role for her talents and affect.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Pamela Adlon

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 3 “Treasure Ride Poker Hearing” (B)

Usually, it’s Matt who’s the unaccomplished sibling no one likes, but in terms of the three siblings, Greg is definitely the one who was never on the same page. His excitement about being included in digging up the time capsule was childish but unsurprising, and his inability to comprehend that both of his pets had been killed by his own father was a familiar sitcom plot. The second segment was one that incorporated modern-day technology a lot more, with Jen concerned about her dismal 1.2 rating on Lyft that she did nothing to be able to help aside from bring Sophia along with her to charm the drivers. Sophia, never one to miss an opportunity, was all about getting the unlimited sugar, resulting in a humorous but totally absurd phone call made by the Lyft driver to report a passenger for immediate suspension. I’m sure that doesn’t exist, and there’s also a difference between someone being sick and vomiting and an obviously drunk person getting into the car and throwing up. Joan’s relationships with other people have always been a bit bizarre, and her determination not to take any of her neighbor’s lemons lest she give her an excuse to use some of her trash allocation was typically stubborn. One thing Joan doesn’t seem like is a con artist, but she managed to take everyone’s money and leave their heads spinning by pretending not to play poker. John doesn’t often seem to be on the same page as the rest of the family members, and therefore hearing what he wanted was an expected development. Turning the volume down on Tim at the table with a big smile on his face was a moderately endearing ending that allows him to live in his own volume-controlled world.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pilot Review: There’s Johnny!

There’s Johnny (Hulu)
Premiered November 16

Following its major Emmy wins for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu is making a play to be a top-tier streaming service, up there with Netflix and Amazon, offering high-quality programming. This is the second new show launched by Hulu this week alone, a period comedy about a guy who just wants to have the chance to work on Johnny Carson. His Nebraska enthusiasm took him to the set for what he thought was a live taping, and from there things just started happening around him, as George Carlin was nearly not present and he was able to stand-in as a runner with no experience whatsoever. The choice to have Carson and his guests appear only in archive footage as themselves, similar the way Joseph McCarthy was portrayed in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” is an intriguing one, since it helps the supporting players to stand out but also almost guarantees that there will be no interaction with the big dogs, at least nothing substantive since they aren’t likely to ever appear in non-taped scenes. Ian Nelson seems affable and excitable enough as Ian, and it’s good to see familiar faces like Roger Bart and Tony Danza in the cast, both having a great time playing their characters. I’m happiest to see the always-superb Jane Levy, who stole this entire pilot episode as Joy, who puts up with a lot and also manages to get a lot done. I’m not overly familiar with Carson, so the nostalgia factor doesn’t work as well on me as I’m sure it does on others, but I’ll give this show another chance to see where it goes.

How will it work as a series? Andy may have found himself a permanent job at the lowest level as a result of his misunderstanding and his curious attitude, and something tells me his positivity is going to propel him through all of the misery that might affect others, though it’s going to be a complicated journey with all the jokes he doesn’t get and the relationships that he can’t hope to comprehend.
How long will it last? Like “Future Man,” which premiered earlier this week, the entire first season – which here consists of seven episodes – was released on day one. Reviews seem to be pretty good, if not as strong as some of the network’s other shows, and it will just be a question of whether it manages to achieve any popularity. I think it’s possible, and I’d learn toward this one being renewed for a second season.

Pilot grade: B+

Pilot Review: Back

Back (Sundance Now)
Premiered November 16

Here we have the latest British import to air on the Sundance streaming service, this one without any recognizable actors in the cast but with an influential name in comedy at the helm. Simon Blackwell was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the screenplay for “In the Loop,” is an Emmy-winning writer and producer on “Veep,” and was also involved in a lesser-known movie that I really like, “Four Lions.” Here, he’s created a comedy that isn’t quite as outrageous in nature but definitely features a sad sap trying to make it through life with so many obstacles being thrown at him. Struggling to figure out how to talk to his dead dad seemed hard enough before a foster brother who lived with them years earlier for only five months showed up to steal his spotlight, and the fact that everyone loves Andrew just makes things much less bearable for Stephen. He really is the unluckiest guy in the world, gifted a dog he didn’t want by a woman who purported that she was just leaving it for him to watch for a moment. This show employs some creative and intriguing devices like showing Stephen as a young boy remembering his interactions as a child in particular moments, and that makes its relatively entertaining plot a bit more clever. This is a show that I could take or leave, and given that its British humor isn’t raucously funny, I think I’m perfectly happy to leave it for now.

How will it work as a series? Andrew has already won over everyone in the family, and the fact that he’s had such an easy time fitting in is surely going to drive Stephen mad as he continues to try to wrap his head around the fact that his father is gone and that he’s not the preferred son anymore. That should make for some fun antics, but this show is more subdued than anything else.
How long will it last? Six episodes were commissioned for the first season, which aired over the course of six weeks beginning in September on Channel 4 in the UK and are all available as of Thursday to stream on Sundance Now. While it appears to have been well-reviewed, I don’t believe it made much of a splash back home, and so this is likely all we’ll see of the show.


What I’m Watching: You’re the Worst (Season Finale)

You’re the Worst: Season 4, Episodes 12 and 13 “Like People” and “It’s Always Been This Way” (B+)

It’s always a relief to go into a season finale knowing that the show you’re watching is definitely slated to come back, and fortunately that was the case here, since this series earned a fifth and final season pickup. While I’ll be sad to see it go, I think that five seasons is an awful lot for a show that switched networks, and it’s still been a fun ride along the way. It’s hard to believe the season is over already, and I was glad to see that there was a good deal of honesty to be found in this episode. Gretchen was right to panic when Jimmy wasn’t there in the morning even though he just went out to get breakfast, and she shouldn’t have so readily accepted Boone’s offer to move in with him, especially since he only proposed that since Lindsay tried to scare him away when she hid in the trash can. Lindsay was an unexpected problem solver in this episode, recognizing that Gretchen was going to become Olivia’s La Bamba dad and then proposing a solution to Paul’s baby dreams which would also manage to help keep the completely hapless and apparently narcoleptic Vernon from going bankrupt as a result of his botched surgery. It was no surprise that Max asked not to work with Edgar anymore, but at least he wasn’t so horrible about it. I don’t care much what happens there since I don’t think this was an especially interesting season for Edgar. After Jimmy got chewed out by a jogger for shouting out that she had dropped something, he actually came and fought for Gretchen, punching the wrong guy and proving to Gretchen in the process that he cares for her. I was pulling for Boone since I think that Colin Ferguson was the best thing to happen to this season, but I suppose Gretchen and Jimmy starting over together can’t be all bad. I look forward to season five next year - despite its title, this show is always much more like the best.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Colin Ferguson as Boone

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 6 “” (B+)

I’m really liking the narrative format that the recent episodes have followed, and it’s clear that this show is capable of delivering enormously when it follows a standard timeline instead of just trying to piece together different pieces of information that are difficult to understand. What’s most fascinating is the dynamic that exists between Elliot and Mr. Robot, as he felt himself switching over and losing time over and over again as he was trying to stop the attack. When Mr. Robot resorted to just trying to physically stop him in his tracks, Elliot opted to go a different route. The fact that they were able to collaborate to stop the attack and that they might be on the same side now is immensely interesting, though of course Elliot wasn’t able to see the bigger picture which involved taking down seventy-one other facilities around the world. So much for Whiterose playing nice and laughing at Phillip’s jokes. Flashing back to Angela talking to Elliot’s real father when she was a child demonstrated her warped perception of what death means and how to undo it, and her fearlessness in the face of an armed robber on the subway shows that she doesn’t think anything can kill her. Darlene barging into her apartment doesn’t seem to have accomplished much, and their relationship has obviously changed since we first saw them going to yoga together. I love the great pounding music that scored the three separate plotlines throughout this episode, and watching Dom work is always thrilling. She managed to find the cellar and then end up right there when Tyrell got arrested, but she still doesn’t know that her duplicitous boss knew exactly what was supposed to happen that Elliot and his alter ego stopped.

Friday, November 17, 2017

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 2, Episode 8 “Number One” (B-)

Plotting out this show must be a very interesting process, since there are so many time periods and points in our characters’ lives to spotlight. Seeing what the next two episodes are titled, it’s clear that we’re doing a deep dive on each of the three children, starting with the bastion of self-pity, Kevin. His attitude as a teenager when he felt like he was too good to have to try to get into a lesser college was pretty awful, and he wasn’t much better in the present when he was drinking his way through a return to his hometown high school for an honor. Sleeping with a classmate he didn’t even remember could have given him some perspective, but instead he used the opportunity to steal a sheet from her prescription pad and run out, returning later to try to claim the one thing he had to remind him of his father, with whom he had a complicated relationship that was explored in detail in this episode. Jack telling an injured Kevin that he could be whatever he wanted was inspiring, and it was nice to see him high-five Randall and hold Kate’s hand on his way out of the hospital. He obviously waited too long to reach out to either of his siblings, and now he was hit with the devastating news that Kate has lost the baby, a tragic development that’s sure to be covered in the next episode which I hope will be a bit more even.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 6 “Helen Hunt” (B+)

I was confused about the title of this episode because I didn’t think this should would feature someone like Helen Hunt, but instead it was another Helen who proved to be difficult for the legends to catch. This was a strong episode for female empowerment, with not one but two female guest stars from history who turned out to be capable of much more than their contemporary men gave them credit for. Like how both “Timeless” and this show went back to the space race around this time last year when “Hidden Figures” was released, I enjoyed an appearance by Hedy Lamarr in this episode just as a really great documentary about the actress and inventor is opening in theaters next week. It was cool that her role in history was much more than just acting in movies, and that her technological innovations led, in this universe’s timeline, to everything that made the Wave Runner run. Helen was more sophisticated than she seemed too, and it was nice that Zari dropped her off somewhere far from the war that she had accidentally caused when she returned her to her time. I’m having some trouble understanding how Dahrk, who is a great villain, won’t just kill each of the legends without much trouble given his near-omniscient powers, but I suppose there will be compromises and parlays and all that which pit the legends against their chosen nemeses in his new entourage. Kuasa revealing herself to be Amaya’s granddaughter changes things, and I’m sure their next run-in will be considerably more intense. Stein and Jax switching bodies was fun, and they each had a great time speaking like the other. Stein flirting with Hedy as Jax was especially entertaining - Victor Garber will surely be missed when he leaves this show for Broadway.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 4, Episode 6 “When Harry Met Harry…” (B+)

Let’s start by addressing this episode’s title and the fact that, eager to prove that he had friends, Harry invited three hilarious versions of himself from the multiverse to be part of his think tank. I can’t decide which one of them was my favorite, but it was definitely fun to see them together. They made quick work once they stopped bickering in finding out which Devoe they were looking for, leading to a bizarrely calm final scene in which Devoe appeared like a normal human and answered the door for Barry and Joe. I’m not sure what he’s up to, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. This episode’s Sioux plotline wasn’t all that engaging, but the villain of the Black Bison had some awesome, freaky powers, able to animate objects and use them against those in pursuit of her. Bringing the t-rex to life was probably the highlight, though each one of her reanimations was presented in a formidable way. As he got upset about the dreary, boring look of the suit that Cisco made for him, Ralph found some cool ways to use his powers, like absorbing bullets and accidentally redirecting them back to the person who shot them, and he struggled to learn that saving people’s lives is more important than always getting to catch the bad guy. He’s especially prone to hypnosis, apparently, but he’s also good with kids, capable of using his stretchiness to make balloon animals out of his skin for one little girl.

Pilot Review: Future Man

Future Man (Hulu)
Premiered November 14

I didn’t know anything about this show going on, and, the way it started, I would have expected it to be a much more kid-friendly show. That was far from the case thanks to the violence of its signature video game, the strong language featured throughout, and of course Josh’s unforgettably unfortunate introduction to the two very real soldiers from the game. This concept is a cool one, with an expert video gamer without any other real accomplishments to speak of regarded as a highly intelligent and capable savior thanks to his ability to master a video game which was actually a simulation sent to find the one person who could beat it. There are a number of fun references to other well-known instances of time travel in popular culture, though this show shouldn’t be confused for anything like “Back to the Future.” It’s far from the smartest show around, but its brilliance makes more sense when put into the context of producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who made “Superbad,” a movie that was much smarter than it looked or sounded. Josh Hutcherson is making a leap from action fare for teenagers to a far less censored kind of series, one that allows him to use its know-how to keep his future friends from completely giving themselves away and killing everyone in their path, guilty or not. I’m most excited about the casting of Eliza Coupe from “Scrubs” and “Happy Endings” in a role that’s perfect for her as the impatient, no-nonsense Tiger. Ed Begley Jr. is also great as Josh’s father, and the late Gleanne Headly was a good scene partner for him as his mother. I didn’t expect to like this show, but I look forward to seeing what episode two has to offer.

How will it work as a series? They went back to 1969 and have to stop Keith David’s Dr. Kronish from contracting herpes – an outrageous mission in itself – and I assume they’ll encounter many things that the future soldiers won’t be able to understand, leading Josh to enlighten them with his particular brand of wisdom. That should manage to be pretty fun, though it could get ridiculous.
How long will it last? The reviews seem to be pretty good, and, with the recent cancellation of “Difficult People,” this is now one of Hulu’s only comedy series. I think it’s going to attract a good enough audience for the streaming service, and I have little doubt that it will be renewed for a second season.

Pilot grade: B+

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pilot Review: Ill Behaviour

Ill Behaviour (Showtime)
Premiered November 13 at 10:30pm

I watch so many shows that it’s fair to assume that I’ll see the same actors at least a few times. It’s rare that there’s an actor I know from just one role, and Chris Geere, so great at playing a terrible person on “You’re the Worst,” fits that bill. I can’t think of a more fitting project for him to star in than what’s being described as a comedy-thriller about two friends who kidnap another friend to forcibly give him chemotherapy. It’s an odd premise to be sure, and one that sort of works given that it’s mainly focused on the comedy angle and not as much on the fact that there are going to be serious repercussions for this illegal act for those who committed it if Charlie somehow miraculously survives. One thing he sort of has going for him is the involvement of the completely crazy Nadia, played by the always excellent Lizzy Caplan. She was more subdued and less funny on “Masters of Sex,” and it’s fun to see her playing this kind of part. I’m also impressed with Jessica Regan as Tess, and I think she provides a good balance for Geere’s Joel. Together, they’re a nutty combination sure to terrorize and likely make Charlie miserable, which could prove entertaining if it’s not too disturbing. This is an experimental format, one that I think could have the potential to work but doesn’t feel like it manages to be either all that funny or all that serious, and as a result not as memorable as it should be.

How will it work as a series? We haven’t really gotten to the “thriller” part of this show yet, just the “really bad ideas.” I’m not sure how this show can possibly end, and I guess it’s all about just how absurd the journey is and whether Charlie actually survives and is happy about the treatment he’s been forced to receive.
How long will it last? This show has already finished airing on the BBC in the UK, and it’s slated to air over the course of just six weeks on Showtime. I don’t see it being something that’s going to continue past that, though I assume it’s always possible that it could be extended. The reviews don’t seem to be too great, and I think it’s likely to be divisive.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: The Gifted

The Gifted: Season 1, Episode 7 “eXtreme measures” (B)

I don’t think we’re really getting anywhere here, with Jace preparing to completely get rid of any remaining civil liberties afforded to mutants and infighting among the Mutant Underground threatening to be its undoing. It’s very clear that Dr. Campbell is suggesting very sinister measures, and Jace’s only concern seems to be with convincing others that this is the right way to move forward to contain the mutant threat. It is true that there are those mutants who make the others look back, namely Carmen and her associates, and Eclipse in the process when he used his abilities for nefarious purposes to serve her aims. A flashback to three years earlier helped clue in the fact that Polaris was one of the originals and Eclipse was brought in somewhat unwillingly to help out, and the connection they’ve made should be able to overcome the fact that Eclipse lied to her. Now that she has a few free minutes from performing emergency surgery on every mutant in her immediate vicinity, Caitlin is putting education first, and her style is a little less forward-thinking than Polaris’ blindfolded, rock-hurling training. I’d think that Reed, humbled by the revelation that both of his children are mutants after he spent years working to bring their kind in, would be a little slower to judge those with surprising pasts, and Wes did just fine when he took responsibility for what he had done. Now, let’s get everyone united and working to give mutants a fighting chance of winning or at least surviving this war.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 3, Episode 6 “Midvale” (B)

Towards the start of this episode, when Kara drove off in Hank’s car with a heartbroken Alex in the passenger seat, I was thinking that this episode didn’t feel a lot like a regular installment. It turns out that was true since it was almost entirely a flashback hour, one that helped to shed some light on how Kara and Alex came to be close after an initially icy relationship. The most impressive thing about this episode was how those responsible for casting found two young actresses who looked just like Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh – Izabela Vidovic and Olivia Nikkanen. This teenage mystery saga presented some serious issues, like a student-teacher relationship and a local sheriff murdering a kid, but it was treated in more lighthearted terms dealing with bullying and Alex’s slowly-emerging nice side as she broke with the popular girls and started hanging out with her adopted sister. It was sweet to see them bonding and for a young Alex to ask her sister if she could use the bathroom first the next day rather than Kara using her powers to rush ahead of her and get in there first. I’m not sure how much a day really did, especially since neither sister opened up about what losing these relationships have done to them, but I think it’s fine if we get back to more important things like saving the planet from extraterrestrial threats and the likes of human threats like Morgan Edge and whatever Sam is becoming.

What I’m Watching: Vice Principals (Series Finale)

Vice Principals: Season 2, Episode 9 “The Union of the Wizard and The Warrior”

I don’t think this show could have ended any other way. I was glad to find out that Lee wasn’t the one who shoot Neal after all, but we saw a whole lot of Ms. Abbott acting pretty crazy. Releasing a live tiger during a graduation so that she could get revenge on the close relationship that Lee and Neal had with each other was nuts, and only a show like this would there ever have been a live tiger at a graduation. After Gale and Ray expressed shock that Amanda was able to actually get Neal to listen to reason and then she nearly got killed in the bathroom by Ms. Abbott, Neal sprang into action the only way he knew how by evacuating the graduation with calm and poise. I loved that the only way to block Ms. Abbott from escaping in her car was to plow right into it, and that things got so messy in the process. Seeing Neal become principal in a new school while Lee ended up in middle management for a role that suited him a whole lot more than being around kids, with Amanda able to pursue her love of writing and actually make something it, was very sweet. That knowing nod between the two of them when they were in the same food court was great, and I like that this is how things ended. I would have loved to see many more seasons of this show, but this was a superb note for the show to go out on. Additionally, casting Steve Little as Neal’s vice-principal was really fun since it helped to link this show with “Eastbound and Down,” lending hope to the idea that we’ll see another series with Danny McBride as an educator of children soon. And wouldn’t it be great to have Walton Goggins back in a role like this too? Maybe HBO will decide that this show is worth revisiting – one can only hope!

Series finale: B+
Series grade: A-
Season MVP: McBride and Goggins
Season grade: A-
Series MVP: McBride and Goggins
Best Season: Season 1
Best Episode: The Foundation of Learning

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Round Two: SMILF

SMILF: Season 1, Episode 2 “1800 Filet-o-Fishes and One Small Diet Coke” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what to make of this episode for a while, and then it all came together in a really interesting way by the end. This show is blunt and honest, and the way its characters behave isn’t some huge secret they’re all keeping from each other. The fact that Bridgette let the kids each macaroni and cheese again, took a bath in Ally’s bathwater, and had sex with her son on the bed didn’t faze Ally at all, not that she knew about the last item, because she was going through some of her own things. And I would have thought that Ally felt bad about not being able to care for her son because she had to work late, but she didn’t have any issue relaxing while his father did some of the work. Best of all, his aversion to vaccinations was overridden by the surprisingly sweet and sincere Nelly. I’ve been confusing her storyline with that of John Hawkes’ new wife Penelope in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and that’s possibly because it’s the same actress, Samara Weaving, playing both of them! I guess it’s a similar role, although she’s far more intelligent and full of depth here. Bridgette is infusing her personality into all of Larry’s experiences, like saying “a woman” when everyone else says “amen.” Even her relationship with her mother is complex and well played-out on screen. I think I’ll be back to watch more of this show since it’s piqued my interest much more in this episode than it did in the pilot.

What I’m Watching: Good Behavior

Good Behavior: Season 2, Episode 5 “You Could Discover Me” (B+)

As always, this show just rolls with the punches, with Letty deciding that she needs to dress up as a drag queen so that she can get into the club where all of the money the FBI is about to seize is being stashed. I found the scenes at the FBI to be the weakest featured by this show in a while, thanks in large part to the simplicity of their writing. Rhonda is better as an enigma who is determined to get her job done with or without orders, firing texts to “Lefty” and using her AOL e-mail account. Javier just wanted to eat as if he had actually been to jail, and he got to play a different role of his own in this hour after coming back from an unsuccessful confrontation with Ava and Teo. The revelation that Mickey and Rose were the same person complicated things, but Letty still managed to distract Rose and the entire club with her show-stopping number. I love that Javier said she sounded great to which she had to point out that she was lip-synching, something he pretended didn’t matter. As Estelle used a fake Jacob emergency to get Letty to pick up the phone, she got some of her best advice from her dim-witted husband, who really is showing just how good a guy he is even if he doesn’t present as all that’s bright: “It’s not like if Jacob doesn’t eat all his green beans, Javier was going to murder him.” And I don’t think that has anything to do with Jacob not having money.

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 9, Episode 7 “Namaste” (B)

My wife informed me during this episode that yoga teachers don’t actually talk like that, but Larry has an incredible ability to make anyone hate him. I knew instantly that I recognized Tina, who I discovered was Alison Becker, who I know best from her role as Shauna Malwae-Tweep on “Parks and Recreation.” To think that someone would actually want to date Larry after hearing about him from Susie is crazy, but that was Lauren Graham’s censor who did very well with him despite his pointing out her few flaws during their couch discussion of how the date went and his iffy reaction to her son having Asperger’s, something that he tried to adopt to get him out of tough situations, a plotline that wasn’t all that funny. Where this show really hits its stride is with things like Larry’s low Uber rating which he blamed on the Romanian driver who got insulted when Larry said women from his country weren’t attractive and hilariously described how he was writing a computer program to change the rating. Larry expressing surprise that Jeff hadn’t mentioned his friend was black somehow worked out in his favor when he had Leon play him when the guy whose car he hit, played by Marc Evan Johnson, also a “Parks and Recreation” vet and currently appearing on “The Good Place,” was intimidated into agreeing to pay for all the damages to his car when he saw that Larry was apparently black. The bus storyline didn’t do much for me, and, funny as Larry’s assertion that, given two minutes, he could tell if Jews were Reform or Conservative, was, this show doesn’t really have that kind of depth and should stick to more surface humor.

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 4 “Some Guy” (B)

This show has been in the middle of the action for its entire season so far, and we’re seeing selected flashbacks to explain just how calm and serene things were only a short while ago. Ezekiel’s triumphant “And yet I smile” speech was indeed pretty inspirational to his flock, and cutting from their big group hug to lots of dismembered body parts on the ground was brutal. This episode felt much more violent than all of the other hours in which we see the undead ripping into the barely alive, probably because we saw so many dead bodies in pieces and then Ezekiel’s captor cleaved in half by Jerry. Carol holding her own against some determined Negan followers put her in a convenient place to show up and save the day, letting the guys get away with the guns but rescuing Ezekiel and Jerry from certain doom in the process. It makes complete sense that Ezekiel was a zookeeper, someone capable of taming a tiger but in a way that tracks with a pre-apocalyptic world. He’s obviously not ready for the realness of what this world sometimes looks like, as compared with the cool-under-pressure attitude both Jerry and Carol have. Ezekiel doesn’t want to be a king anymore, just some guy, but he’s still got a tiger, which always seems to manage to show up and save the day. While the other three were stressed trying to stay alive, Rick and Darryl seemed like they were having a blast, playing video game target practice with the two Negan allegiants they ran off the road while losing a theoretically very useful vehicle and nearly getting shot to pieces in the process. Believable? Not so much, but at least Rick and Darryl are loosening up a bit.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 8, Episode 2 “Where’s My Meth?” (B+)

It’s really something to see a renewed Frank entering the workforce as a legitimately productive and responsible member of society. He impressed in his interview thanks to his blunt honesty, and now he’s most concerned with safety, dedicated enough that he got promoted to supervisor almost right away! Fiona’s also moving up in the world, trying to give poor people like her a break only to realize that they’re even seedier than she is, resorting to running away, writing obnoxious fake checks, and faking a dog to avoid paying their rent. Bringing Debs in to break down their door was smart, and though she might make the money she’s due, she’s not going to make many friends other than the one she already has. Kev’s surgery went well despite his panic, and I’m curious to see what his new lease on life will look like. Lip having a special Hawaiian pizza sent to Charlie to get him off the wagon was a low point, and somehow, even after a pretty bad-looking leg injury, he has accidentally convinced Charlie that he’s trying to help him on his road to recovery. Ian’s Monica tattoo went wrong, and it’s an irreversible decision that is sure to not let him forget his mother anytime soon. Debs is making some bad decisions with her hickey and erotic hair wash, and Neil is rightfully getting jealous since she’s treating him terribly. I loved Liam’s sleepover with his rich friend and then the utopia they had which was promptly disrupted by Dylan’s mom having him take off his clothes outside the home so that she could throw them right into the trash.

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 9 “Into the Forest I Go” (B)

I thought that this show was going off the air for months before I saw that it will actually return in January, which really isn’t that far away. I’ve wondered why it is that I continue to watch this show since it hardly boasts the same exploration-based energy that previous incarnations of this franchise have. But I feel like it’s usually worthwhile to stick with a show like this even if it doesn’t provide the desired level of excitement. I am pleased to report that this episode was more fast-paced and enthralling than usual, thanks to the intensity of the 144 jumps that they made in order to stay out of the line of fire from the Klingons and use the trackers planted by Michael and Tyler to decode their cloaking technology. I really do wonder if there’s a point in our society where we’ll actually develop something like transporter technology, and if there are going to be issues picking up the wrong heat signatures, like, say, if someone is midair when they’re whisked away or if they have a Klingon wrapped around their neck. Fortunately, Michael made it off with a memento of her old captain, her traumatized boyfriend, and the admiral that we thought might have been dead. Now, after Lorca rightly determined that Lieutenant Stamets should be the recipient of an honor for his bravery, they’re lost somewhere in space. I would have hoped for a slightly more emphatic conclusion, and I can only hope that time travel or a mirror universe is involved. This show needs something to make it feel like the old series.

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 5 “Shapes and Colors” (B+)

We’ve come to a point on this show where all of the characters are so into the “everything is connected” methodology that to suggest that it’s not real or the right way is an affront. Dirk was down on himself in this episode, after he changed his clothes only and expressed his intent to be a real detective going forward, but even his new attitude couldn’t change the fact that, of course, Scott Boreton would scream out his name just as he passed by our team so that they wouldn’t need to look for the needle in the haystack. After Suzie’s wand accidentally released a wave of magical happiness over the crowd, we got to see Dirk, Todd, Farah, and Tina at their most euphoric and most honest, which was fun. It was more affirming than the earlier more serious incident involving (a) the son, who was played by Tony Amendola, who I guess I recognize as Geppetto from “Once Upon a Time,” which I watched for its entire first season. Amanda’s very trippy conversation with her inner monologue – not sure if that’s accurate but it’s the best understanding I can get of it what’s going on – was productive in that it helped her to achieve some self-control and managed to bring the other three members of the Rowdy Three to Wendimoor! Things aren’t looking so good for Hobbs, whose run-in with the Mage may have had fatal consequences. I was thrilled to see Bart and Pento Trost bond in jail, and Bart dancing to music to cheer him up was really sweet. I think she’s found her new Ken.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 5 “Chapter Sixty-Nine” (B+)

I was wondering what happened to Lina, and I assumed it was just that Diane Guerrero’s role on “Orange is the New Black” was amping up and she was spending more time on that show. While helping Lina to determine that she should in fact marry her fiancĂ© was a decent subplot, it was all secondary to Danny recognizing Adam and revealing the shocking news that he used to date a guy. While it’s hardly something that should be appalling in this show’s world, it was most entertaining because Jane got in her head, tried to kiss Lina, and then heard the most crucial confirmation from him that he only had eyes for her. I enjoyed the clarification of the “male gaze,” not to be confused with “male gays.” Rogelio having trouble preparing for a vasectomy was no surprise at all, and it was fun to hear him give an emotional speech that was supposed to be delivered to a giant kidney stone and not to his own penis. It was good to see Jane have a sweet heart-to-heart with Rafael after stifling her more sentimental urges earlier following his being “Villanuevad,” as Petra put it. After Luisa expressed some serious rage towards her brother, he did the right thing and tried to talk her down from her latest psychotic episode. It seemed for a second like Rafael and Petra had been plotting to take Luisa down so that they regain control of the Marbella, it turned out to be much worse than that – Anezka and Magda hired someone to play Carl so that Luisa could seem crazy when it fact she was being manipulated all along. Oh boy, as our narrator would say!

Monday, November 13, 2017

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3, Episode 5 “I Never Want to See Josh Again” (B)

I have complicated feelings about this episode, though it’s hard to deny that this show is a layered series just as capable of drama as it is of comedy. Following those at the office in Rebecca’s absence cast a spotlight on two characters we rarely see, Maya and Jim. I’ve never been a huge fan of Maya since she sort of sporadically appears and gets treated meanly by everyone else in the office, and in this episode she became super millennial and even more chattery in her quest to befriend Rebecca’s replacement Cornelia. I can’t remember Jim even speaking before, and I would have preferred that George appear in this episode alongside Maya and Darryl. Cornelia was a decent character who just wanted to be professional, and by the episode’s end she had more than enough claims to file with HR so that she could move on to pursue her life’s dreams. Paula also got to assume her mother role at the office when she tried to use a sick day to go on vacation, something that she clearly won’t be penalized for in this warped fantasy setting. Back home, Rebecca really did have a lovely time with her milkshake-making mother until she realized what she was trying to do, and the final scene on the airplane, complete with a sweet, kindhearted flight attendant and a “help” sign that she read as “hope,” set things in much more dramatic motion which should hopefully lead to her waking up in a hospital bed in Los Angeles surrounded by her friends, starting this show’s journey back to relative normalcy, with Rebecca trying to figure out how she fits into a world where everyone knows her innermost secrets but still loves her.

Pilot Review: Love You More

Love You More (Amazon)
Premiered November 10

This is the third of Amazon’s pilot season offerings that I watched, and I have to say that I really didn’t enjoy all three. This one is, theoretically, the one with the most potential, but it’s also a mess. There’s way too much going on, and for it to start with some relatively intense and uncensored sex then move to a home for adults with Down syndrome. There are parts of this show that I feel like I could like, such as the endearing relationship built between Karen and her roommate Jean, played by Loni Anderson, once Karen realized that she was lonely since her daughters made fun of her, and of course the sweet conversation she had with the new resident of the home who said he had only touched her breast so that he could hide the fact that he was gay, something for which she immediately accepted him. The rest of this show, however, is far from appealing, and, these instances aside, Karen isn’t a particularly nice person. I sat down right after I watched this episode to watch “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and I’m more than satisfied with that being the only musical comedy in my life after the unfortunate song about nipples she performed in the dressing room. Bridget Everett, who I don’t think I’ve seen before in other projects but has apparently been building momentum recently, has potential, but this show has no idea what it wants to be and shouldn’t be the vehicle for her breakthrough.

How would it work as a series? Buying a bra was a big step to help Karen in one aspect of her life, but it’s not clear where this show would focus if it returned for more episodes. I think it’s very uneven and capable of moderate decency, but the thirty or so minutes we saw here were far too disjointed and ambitious without any real return.
Will it make it to series? While I noted in my review of “Sea Oak” that the Glenn Close starrer was probably the most likely to be picked up, there’s no set number of shows Amazon can make. Michael Patrick King being associated with this show is a plus, and it feels like the most typical Amazon series of these three. It’s far from guaranteed, but I think this one might make it.

Pilot grade: D

Pilot Review: Sea Oak

Sea Oak (Amazon)
Premiered November 10

Why is this possibly what Glenn Close wants to be doing with her career right now? This is an actress who has been nominated for six Oscars and won three Emmys, and I can’t imagine what possessed her to think this was a good idea. There are more than enough shows about zombies, including something like “iZombie” which deals with its dead as passable members of society, and the need for this one just puzzles me completely. I thought to myself midway through this pilot that this show was killing off Close, which made no sense since that was just about the only thing it had going for it, but then it went and brought her back from the dead. Since I barely have anything positive to say about this show, I should note that Jane Levy from “Suburgatory” is terrific as one of Bernie’s nieces, though I worry that she’s much, much better than this role and certainly than this show. The stupidity that both great-nieces express when testing each other with trivia questions and just having everyday conversation is similar to the stupidity of this show in general, one that doesn’t have much going for it yet still, inexplicably, attracted Close as its marquee star for a role that might be fun for her but is surely not going to be the high point of her career. I’d sooner suffer through numerous repetitive, cyclical hours of the first season of “Damages” again before subjecting myself to any more of this.

How would it work as a series? What we have here is three remarkably unaccomplished young adults who are now going to be pushed to actually do things by their tyrannical new zombie great aunt. There’s comedy to be found there somewhere, though I’m not sure it will be very funny, and also a huge range of possibilities for what her new state means and enables her to do. I’m not at all optimistic based on this pilot.
Will it make it to series? Of Amazon’s three new offerings, I’d say this is the likeliest to get picked up if only for the involvement of Close. I’m not sure it merits it, but her affiliation means that it has a draw for a certain audience. I’m not holding my breath, but I think this one may be picked up.

Pilot grade: F

Pilot Review: The Climb

The Climb (Amazon)
Premiered November 10

Amazon pilot season is here again, and I’m making sure that I’m watching each one of its new offerings. This first one is a particular disappointment, a completely unappealing and uninviting show that feels like a desperate ripoff of “Insecure” with none of the energy and creativity. Highwire is a social media invention meant to mock the connected nature that everyone in our society craves, and it’s embodied by the character of Cooper Lewinsky, who has successfully become famous for doing nothing. What’s worse is that Nia admires that lifestyle, commending Copper on figuring out how to be Barbie and be sexy for a living, much to the chagrin of her disapproving stepmother. The fact that Nia is so interested in exemplifying that worldview that she refuses to learn what her company does just for the sake of proceeding along without knowing doesn’t make her the antiheroine this show thinks it does, ready to roar like a lion in an office meeting, but instead cements her as a truly millennial character, one who is meant to represent the worst in today’s hippest generation. Of course, her friend Misty is, somehow, even worse, not even interested in staging any sort of rebellion and even less interested in having her married mailman boyfriend talk while they’re having sex or he’s searching for her missing birth control. This is a show that I want to quickly forget, since experiencing the pilot has contributed nothing to my life much like its central character seems to be doing for those in hers.

How would it work as a series? Nia is going to need to start exploring herself and figuring out what she wants to be, if it really is more than just someone who excels at talking to people about nothing. I don’t think that’s all that interesting, and the dynamic of these two friends on this show really left me wanting more, so I wouldn’t be up for watching this show if it did get picked up.
Will it make it to series? Of Amazon’s three new offerings, this is the one that lacks a hook. Most of the shows that the streaming network has brought to life have been high-concept or specific in nature and this one, like its protagonists, feels far too aimless and general. I’d err on the side of this one not being picked up.

Pilot grade: F

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 3 “Chapter Three: The Pollywog” (B+)

This episode was all about the eighties and the things it offered that aren’t true anymore in today’s world, like Dustin having to distract the librarian so that he could check five books out when he already had five sitting at home and Joyce tracing the TV so that she could have a copy of the image from the VHS tape. Radioshack hasn’t been celebrated like this in a long time, with both Joyce and Nancy realizing that Bob and his employer were crucial to their investigations. What I like about this show is that its main characters don’t deny the existence of the Upside-Down; instead, they just don’t understand it and how it works. Joyce panicked because Will wasn’t where he was supposed to be, but she should be much more worried that Will took Bob up on his monster-defense advice, which has apparently resulted in a whole lot of that monster swirling like a storm through Will, which can’t be good. Mike lashing out at Max and telling her that she couldn’t replace Eleven was unfortunately timed since all Eleven saw was Mike laughing with a girl, and though he raced out to try to find her, she was obviously angry enough to make Max fall off the skateboard. I look forward to their eventual meeting, though I suspect it’s going to be another few hundred days. I love that Dustin thought he had discovered a new species – which he sort of has – and that he’s intent on keeping his close relationship with the thing a secret while Will is well aware that it’s much more dangerous than anyone else realizes.

What I’m Watching: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 5 (B-)

This episode shifted its focus to an active case, one that it didn’t even really manage to solve, and I for one wasn’t too thrilled about that. This show has been a very dark slow burn since it started, and going back over a case over it’s been very much closed is a completely different thing than participating in an open investigation. I understand that’s the point, and that Holden and Bill want to apply what they’ve learned to help law enforcement identify and anticipate trends like the ones that have led to serial killers emerging and cutting short the lives of many victims who could otherwise have been saved. Yet there was something about this episode that felt like it stalled, and it was really hard to get into it. Ending on a question was also peculiar, and felt very unsatisfying, and not in the kind of way that piqued my interest to return to find out how questions like this can be answered going forward. I’ve read a few things about how Holden has some sociopathic tendencies, and that’s more intriguing than most of the rest of this episode’s content. Bill suggesting they get different rooms and asking Holden to get off his bed was a sign not of any discomfort with sharing a room with another male but with the fact that Holden has no sense of boundaries and gets so zoned-in with he’s on a case that he tunes the rest of the world out. Let’s hope for a return to more compelling interviews without so much crying in the coming weeks, otherwise I may have to stop watching this show.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 4, Episode 8 “Desert Eagle” (B+)

After some tumultuous interactions, now we just have all the members of this extended family hanging out in the desert and getting a bit stir-crazy spending so much time together. Sarah’s intense fever dream about Lila giving birth to multiple babies was a real head trip, and Len telling her that he was doing all of this for her paved the way for a more important conversation about how she’s living on a high and that’s not all a relationship and life are for him. Maura trying to talk to Moshe didn’t yield the results that she wanted, with Moshe boiling down her transgender status to him not being a proper male role model, and his subsequent conversation with Shelly was just as insightful. She seemed truly surprised that Maura was now considering herself a heterosexual woman, and she got truly hysterical when traumatic experiences from her past boiled over with a gun pointed at her by her son. While Josh’s usual weapon of choice is self-loathing, he didn’t want to hold a gun and probably shouldn’t have considering the spiral that he’s been going through lately, and it all ended with a pretty upsetting scene in the middle of the desert. After a liberating time spent away from her family, Ali seemed very distressed and eager to get back to them, a journey that didn’t prove to be so simple. She’s already found a lot of the oppression that she perceives in this country to be triggering, and the guy who gave her a ride getting stopped as she just walked through only made things worse. With only two episodes left this season, I can’t imagine much more can implode on this trip.

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 2, Episode 9 “White Rock” (B+)

This show has been introducing a lot of new characters lately without much backstory, and it takes a bit of time to understand who they are and what their relationships are to the characters that we know. We haven’t seen Phil in a while, and apparently she has a perfectly lovely brother and sister-in-law that we’ve never met who were more than happy to have Sam and her daughters visit. After Frankie acknowledged that she didn’t want to help Sam with the luggage when they arrived, things got considerably sweeter with the relationships that were forming. Frankie showing interest in woodworking as an activity to do with her great-uncle was really nice, and Max sobbing when she said goodbye to her great-aunt was sweet too (she really does cry a lot). Duke was out on her own, watching a woman who she didn’t know if was real and then hilariously summing up all the possibilities of what she could be seeing in a sentimental goodbye speech. Now, the most memorable and impactful part of this episode was the news casually revealed by Lester that Sam had an aunt she never knew about, who was apparently put in a mental institution when she was a teenager and had died years earlier. Sam’s conversation with the woman who answered the phone and wanted to mail her Marion’s records was this episode’s dramatic backbone, and Sam’s refusal to acknowledge her mother behind her at the end of the episode shows how betrayed she feels. The season finale airs next week, and this show has already been renewed for a third season, which may be impacted by the allegations that have come out against Louis C.K. but likely won’t since Pamela Adlon is more than capable of steering this ship.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 2 “Bunny Single Nightmare Drinking” (B)

 I expected that the opening vignette of this hour would lead to a big revelation about the fact that Jen has a child and is not a vegan, but instead it was a simple issue of her not being able to remember her boss’ wife’s name after she said that she was going to write her a check for to her very own charity. I was surprised to see a similar technique applied here to one showcased on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” recently, which was the recovery mode for Greg to call Jen “bunny” after they had stupidly assumed that was her name rather than a pet name. I’ll always remember Andy Buckley as David Wallace from “The Office,” and therefore casting him as a relatively square manager type is right on point. Nothing about Tyler’s new situation with Clementine is ideal, and it’s hard to figure out which one of them is less intelligent. I was delighted to see Christine Woods from “Hello Ladies” and “The Walking Dead” as the extremely overzealous date he brought home who then moved her entire family in the next day, something that Tim didn’t notice and instead thought had to do with a weird fantasy being acted out by Tyler for his one-night stand. Greg’s nightmare was excessive and extreme, and while I’m sure they’d have quite an experience bringing a baby into the world, both of his siblings have kids so it would hardly be all that groundbreaking. Greg did get to experience what it’s like to be one of the top two children when Heather was way, way too much for Joan to handle, and she took the cake for the most oblivious character in this hour, giving Joan a day off by sending her family away to Disneyland and then ruining it with the clarification that she’d be staying home. Time to get to work on that house indeed!

What I’m Watching: You’re the Worst

You’re the Worst: Season 4, Episode 10 “From the Beginning, I Was Screwed” (B+)

Jimmy is not a particularly nice person, but it’s still not fun to see him get beat up on in such in a miserable way. Lindsay was trying to do something positive by offering to be the wardrobe consultant for the game show host, but in doing so she inadvertently tipped him off to the way that Jimmy made fun of him, prompting him to be especially cruel. When Vernon woke up to shout Jimmy’s pre-prepared heckle, one of his fellow contestants pounced even on him being dead and no one caring before he had a chance to chime in and be self-deprecating. Gretchen’s inappropriate country pitch was a worrisome sign, but then she brought it all back together and even got a hug from Olivia. Of course, she went right from that sweet moment to making out with Jimmy in a bar, something she couldn’t even attribute to a blackout. I always forget that she knows Ben Folds, and it’s not an easy task to make Sam and his colleague whose name I won’t write out here look put together. I don’t know much about the real-life musician aside from some of his songs, but it is a very funny self-mockery regardless. There’s nothing quite like the intensity with which Edgar talks about the many disturbing things he experienced during his time in the military, and though Sam was ready to listen to all of it, it seems to have turned him off enough for them to stop working together, which leaves Edgar once again friendless and craving Jimmy’s attention.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 5 “eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00” (B+)

Now this was a riveting episode. All installments of this show are mesmerizing and captivating in their own way, but this one felt so incredibly claustrophobic and focused, with real, unavoidable events taking place as Stage 2 appears to have gone into effect. I love that Elliot diagnosed his experience as a runtime error, and that he accidentally told his coworker what he meant to say to his imaginary friend the audience, which prompted him to ask himself, what did he do this weekend? Watching him spring into action when he realized that he was about to be fired and escorted off the premises was fantastic since he melded so easily into his surroundings, posing first as the IT guy who targeted the wrong hapless offender and then boldly insisting that he was in the right conference room when he clearly wasn’t. I love that he asked the audience what to do when he conjured Mr. Robot, who he acknowledged wasn’t even the usual split personality but just a hallucination, a difference most wouldn’t bother to break down. After Darlene told him that she was working with the FBI and that Angela is the one who’s been working against him, we got an amazing shift to Angela’s own escape attempt in the building, which was a real nail-biter. This show’s representation of chaos is unrivaled, and Irving’s cool coaching provided a sharp contrast to Angela nearly got in trouble multiple times. The intense musical scoring with the numbers as the hired protesters went up the elevator was extremely effective, and Angela running straight into Elliot as she made her exit was a whopper of an ending to a truly terrific episode.

Pilot Review: Damnation

Damnation (USA)
Premiered November 7 at 10pm

I knew that this show was about a priest, and I figured that it would either fit the bill of AMC’s “Preacher” or FOX’s “The Exorcist.” Instead, this show doesn’t include any supernatural factors, and instead some pretty vicious people with no powers. I don’t think I expected a period drama from USA, a network that has proven capable of delivering lighthearted entertainment and, more recently, the incomparable head trip “Mr. Robot.” This is a more serious show set in the 1930s in the Midwest, a decided departure from the usual fare for USA. It seems to be a relatively successful experiment, since there is a whole lot of intrigue in this pilot and some truly colorful characters. Killian Scott’s false preacher isn’t even close to the juiciest part, though the following that he achieves with his unconventional gospel is formidable. Sarah Jones, who I first got to know on “Alcatraz,” proves once again that she’s capable of great things, here as the ice cream-referencing preacher’s wife. I’m always happy to see Christopher Heyerdahl from “Hell on Wheels,” cast in the rare role of law enforcement, though he’s evidently engaged in a good deal of corruption. Playing the Tom Hardy role is Logan Marshall-Green, who I remember back when he got his start on “24” and “The O.C.” This is a much better use of his talents. This show is relatively brutal and grim, but there’s something to be said for its styling, which isn’t quite a Western. I don’t know that I’ll be back for a second episode even though I found this to be far more involving than I had expected.

How will it work as a series? There are some surprising connections between the preacher stirring things up and those doing their own havoc-wreaking, and those should be quite interesting, especially since neither of them actually live in the places they’re disrupting. There will be a lot of destruction and casualties along the way, and maybe even some decent drama.
How long will it last? The reviews don’t seem to be all that great, but they’re not so bad either. The same is true of the ratings for the pilot, which put it below some recent USA premieres but not anywhere too problematic. I think that, without any strong advocates for this show, it’s likely to be forgotten, though a second season is still possible.

Pilot grade: B

Friday, November 10, 2017

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Most Disappointed Man” (B+)

I have to say, I’m really enjoying how Kate and Toby are dealing with this pregnancy news. It was cute to see them done matching zip-up sweatshirts so that they could tell a very distracted Kevin, and Toby wearing multiple sweatshirts to propose to Kate was extremely sweet. For all of the things that Kate has been through, she was able to very quickly identify that Toby had serious issues with telling his mom when he totally freaked out and nearly left her a message with the news. At least they seem to be on the same page after Toby realized how important getting married was for her. Kevin screwed up in a really big way by picking out three rings and then essentially breaking up with Sophie when he came to her door after disappointing her many times, and I don’t see a way forward for this couple. Randall and Beth are looking out for their new daughter, and I think this connection is going to have to be temporary since her mother, despite being in a very different circumstance, is determined to get her back. Randall’s adoptive parents fought hard for him, leading to a heartwarming moment of triumph when Delroy Lindo’s judge recused himself because he was too emotionally invested in the case. Pairing this with William’s own experience of being set on the straight path by a judge before nearly relapsing just as Randall knocked on his door was very effective, helping to make this the strongest episode of the season so far.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 5 “Return of the Mack” (B+)

After a Halloween episode featuring monsters last week, now it’s a vampire making trouble in the late 19th century. Having these actors play other people is always fun, and casting Victor Garber as Stein’s ancestor the actor was entertaining. Nate always seems to find himself in precarious situations, and this episode was no exception. Zari was all too willing to engage with the fortune-teller who did a very believable job of communicating with the dead, and it’s much better to see her and Amaya realizing that they have similar powers that continue to come back to them rather than anyone who would try to steal their amulets. Much as I don’t love the idea of another immortal being similar to Vandal Savage being this season’s big bad guy, I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s come to life in the form of Damien Dahrk. While I would love to see Neal McDonough getting roles like the ones he had on “Boomtown” and “Justified,” having him play someone with the same personality and charisma as Dahrk but infinitely greater abilities is definitely a plus. Rip has gone through an interesting cycle on this show, and Sara calling the Time Bureau on him was an unexpected twist that makes this familiar face who never seems to trust the right people someone that we likely won’t encounter again anytime soon. I’d think that, in the wake of the deaths of so many Time Bureau agents at Dahrk’s hands (or is Mallus’ hands?), the legends could use all the help that they can get. On a lighter note, it was fun to see Jax trying to hide the memories he was losing like Stein’s morning craving for grapefruit.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 4, Episode 5 “Girls Night Out” (B)

This episode was a bit silly in its structure, but I’m not sure I would have expected anything else from the pretty unforgettable bachelor and bachelorette parties for Barry and Iris. It’s always good to see Felicity, who was the only one truly full of enthusiasm of the bunch gathered for Iris’ celebration, as Caitlin was rightfully concerned about distracting factors and Cecile was thinking about her own future. I don’t really understand how Killer Frost works and how she sort of allied herself with Iris, and it’s even more puzzling to me that Iris stopped her from killing Amunet since she’ll obviously be back to make their lives miserable. Fortunately, that’s great news for us viewers, since Katee Sackhoff, veteran of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Longmire,” is completely terrific with a very strong fake British accent in the performance that I think allows her to have the most fun she’s ever had on screen. Her power is pretty cool too, so I do hope she’s back to go toe-to-toe with our characters. The boys had a less productive night, with Ralph hijacking Barry’s bachelor party and landing them in jail. Barry getting drunk thanks to Cisco’s elixir was entertaining, and he was totally useless. Joe got to have an interesting parenting moment with Cecile’s daughter, the undercover strip cover dancer penning a book on the female experience, which should prove an interesting topic to revisit. The prisoner whose tears are like opioids is intriguing, and the Thinker is clearly invested enough in him to hover around in plain sight to make sure he completes his designated task.

What I’m Watching: The Gifted

The Gifted: Season 1, Episode 6 “got your siX” (B)

I keep asking myself where all this is headed and whether this show is going to get to a point where its characters aren’t on the run with the law in hot pursuit. That doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, with Jace intensifying the hunt and disregarding protocol due to his anger about having his daughter’s death erased from his memory. Polaris is now training the young mutants on how to use their powers as they run into enormous capacity problems with other safe havens being raided, and hopefully this army will be able to do good rather than just learn to hate the humans trying to capture and kill them. As usual, this show’s greatest asset is the awesome nature of its mutants’ powers, with new addition Wes having a cool ability to make others think that they are seeing something that they’re not which came in very handy when they had to help the huge truck make a big getaway. Andy’s powers are strong but not nearly as finessed, and therefore he’d be the natural choice to break down an impenetrable wall. It also helped him and Reed to bond, though that relationship still isn’t all that warm. We still don’t know much about Garret Dillahunt’s Dr. Campbell, and now that he’s able to exercise some influence over Jace, his motivations are likely to become much clearer and surely be revealed to be sinister. Whether Jace will be able to resist since he actually just wants to be a good person is going to be the real question.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 3, Episode 5 “Damage” (B+)

Adrian Pasdar really is a great actor, and I think he’s perfectly suited to play a comic book villain. Morgan Edge was a formidable foe for Lena Luthor and Supergirl, posing for a photo op at Lena’s own hospital claiming that her reckless actions had caused lead poisoning in a number of children after he himself poisoned a pool to ensure that everyone would become afflicted. It seems that he’s going to become a season-long villain since he engineered events so that he couldn’t be implicated in his torment and attempted murder of Lena, and I’m curious to see what he comes up with next. At least his actions have brought Lena and James closer, away from the unfriendly usage of last names and uncomfortable bickering, and they should make good allies now. Alex and Maggie went through quite the emotional breakup, and it really does seem like the relationship is over now. I imagine we’ll see Maggie again, though Kara appears to be taking steps to ensure that her sister can experience some healing back home away from familiar triggers. As Sam becomes more prominent on this show, she’s getting clue after clue that she has powers, the latest of which is a bullet that was deflected by her apparently impenetrable skin. It’s not clear to me why she has such a big role and the discovery of her powers is being featured so prominently, but I’m intrigued to see what happens next and whether she becomes a hero or a villain.

What I’m Watching: Vice Principals (Penultimate Episode)

Vice Principals: Season 2, Episode 8 “Venetian Nights” (B+)

Imbued with the knowledge that Lee was the one who shot him, naturally Neal would turn immediately to a ridiculous revenge plan. Bringing a gun to school probably wasn’t the smartest idea, and only Lee could fail to even try to deny the accusations and instead just attack the man he didn’t see as much of a threat. Telling Amanda everything, including all they did to Brown, was a bold move, and it was thrilling to see that, despite her shock and speechlessness, she stood by him and wanted to help him unite everyone against Lee. Neal going nuts on him with his bat during the live broadcast was quite a spectacle and, entertaining as that was, I preferred Neal bringing together the cafeteria employees, the gold star teachers, and the bad kids to take down his longtime rival and former best friend. Going to see Christine and gaining access to his sister’s diary was a smart play, and it didn’t actually take much to get Lee to resign. Neal kissing Amanda before dancing with her at the prom was very sweet, and ending the episode with a furious Ms. Abbott watching them sets an ominous tone for the series finale. I still can’t believe that this unparalleled show comes to an end this weekend, and I can only hope for one hell of a memorable sendoff that does its characters justice. I’m eager to hear what both Danny McBride and Walton Goggins are doing next – these have been superb roles for them.

Pilot Review: SMILF

SMILF (Showtime)
Premiered November 5 at 10pm

This pilot has been available to stream for two weeks already, though naturally I only had the chance to watch it just a few hours before it premiered on television. This show is notable both for its title and for the fact that it stars Frankie Shaw, who I remember as a strong asset of “Mr. Robot” back in season one. Here, she’s full of personality, playing a mom who doesn’t seem to pay too much attention to her baby in public but dotes on him in private while having some very sexually explicit conversations about her body and her life. I didn’t know that this was based on an award-winning Sundance short written and directed by Shaw, and knowing her personal involvement in all aspects of this show, which is based in part on her real life, makes it considerably more appealing. It’s also a perfect show to follow “Shameless,” just as depraved but with far fewer characters to get to know. I also like the Connie Britton featured in this show, one who’s very unfiltered but still exceedingly polite in the way that she says everything. I’m not sure that we got a good enough sense of what the specific plot of this show is going to be from just this episode alone, but I’m intrigued enough by the format, the network, and the lead actress to tune in again and see what happens next with this single mom who has her own way of going through the world.

How will it work as a series? The acronym that serves as this show’s title was used in a text in this episode, and I think that Shaw’s Bridgette is going to try to own it as a positive identifier, scoffing at those who would look down at her and living life the way she wants to, which should prove entertaining.
How long will it last? Reviews appear to be pretty good, and I imagine a lot of people weren’t optimistic about this show only because of its title. Paired with “Shameless,” this show is off to a great ratings start, besting a lot of recent premieres deemed successful, and I think it’s pretty much set to enjoy a long and creative run.

PIlot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 9, Episode 6 “The Accidental Text on Purpose” (B+)

Who would have thought that Larry actually had some good advice, which in this case didn’t really backfire? Suggesting that Richard call everyone “honey” was very smart and worked, only to be felled by Richard himself when he skipped another step and referred to her as his girlfriend. The “accidental text on purpose” notion is also pretty hilarious and definitely something that works a good deal of the time in life if it’s not overused. This was an excellent episode for guest casting, with three actresses who have all been memorable on other comedy series. Elizabeth Perkins, a veteran of “Weeds,” was very funny and mean as a woman who insisted on serving unfiltered tap water, which I guess is much worse than New York City water. I was worried that Andrea Savage of “I’m Sorry” might be wasted as Richard’s non-girlfriend, but her appearance turned out to be pretty great. And I was so excited when June Diane Raphael from “Grace and Frankie” sat down next to Larry on the plane, though as someone who always gets an aisle and gets up to pee at least once or twice even on a short flight, I didn’t appreciate that joke all that much. Ed Begley Jr.’s failure to get up during a medical emergency on the plane led to a very humorous bit of karma when someone else took his joke and Larry said he was off-duty when the doctor had a comedy emergency that he declined to help him treat.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What I’m Watching: Good Behavior

Good Behavior: Season 2, Episode 4 “I Think it’s a Sign” (A-)

This is officially the show that I’m now going to make sure to recommend to anyone I speak to about what’s great on television these days. I’m not even sure where to start with how awesome this episode was, assisted by incredibly creative dialogue and amazing performances. I’d say that Rob is the best character on this show, but honestly, they’ll all fantastic and I’m not sure I’d choose him. The fact that he was able to make a great point about what Estelle was feeling that she chose to pretend she didn’t hear was great, and I like how he described Javier as a “good bad guy” like Batman. I think a compelling case could also be made for Rhonda, who had so many classic lines in this episode, including, “You’re an FBI agent, but only if it’s nice weather” and “I’m a founding member of HIE Rewards.” The way she talks about cinnamon rolls is fantastic. Here’s hoping that she wins another Emmy this year for her performance on this show. Her relationship with Christian, who punched out Agent Backup when he went on a tirade against her, is so interesting, and the way in which she interacts with Letty is so intriguing. Letty’s realization that it didn’t quite seem real helped add to the mystery of this whole thing, and lines like “lightning does strike twice, just not in the same place” and “I’m in handcuffs, and I’m not a magician; you’re not a magician either” were so in keeping with this show’s unique style. On what other series could a Holiday Inn Express sign come crashing through a hotel window and lead to arrested criminals playing a drinking game with a traumatized FBI agent? I suspected this wouldn’t be the end for Letty and Javier, but I never imagined that they would team up with Rhonda to screw over the FBI. I can’t even guess what will come next?

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 3 “Monsters” (C+)

I’ve come to a point where I just don’t care what happens to any of these characters. Any of them could die and I don’t think I’d care, even someone like Maggie who’s been around since the beginning. I also feel like there are so many landscapes and buildings that look exactly the same that it’s hard to keep track of where the good guys are, where the bad guys are, and why it is that they seem to be getting continually ambushed after having the upper hand. There are just two people who don’t want to kill everyone they meet, and Jesus is literally fighting with his allies about it while Rick isn’t bothering to argue when less understanding forces like Darryl are around and ready to shoot first. Morgan has lost it completely, expressing an uncontrollable desire for blood while others like Tara simply say that they don’t see the good in keeping people alive. Maggie nearly turned Gregory away at the gates, which would have been a fitting punishment for his traitorous actions, but then she let him in and had to argue just moments later that it wasn’t smart for Jesus to invite in all the prisoners. I don’t believe that there’s going to be a time anytime soon that will be post-Negan since this show is so endlessly cyclical and we haven’t even seen the big bad in a while. Or, worse, they’ll become Negan, because like a dead man said, “Yeah, I’m Negan, I had to be to make it this far.”

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Season Premiere)

Shameless: Season 8, Episode 1 “We Become What We ... Frank!” (B+)

After we got two seasons of this show in the 2016 calendar year, I genuinely had no idea that one of the most entertaining shows on television was returning. I’m pleased to report that, eight seasons in, this show hasn’t lost any steam, and it’s now reached a point where even the kid who used to be a baby is talking with a plotline of his own. Of course this show would feature Liam as the token diversity student of his new school, literally pulled out of school on a regular basis to wave to tour groups. Everyone seems to be set up for much more success now, with Lip and Ian trying – and failing – to move on from relationships that they sabotaged, Carl embracing the military lifestyle wholly, and Debs holding down a good job and learning plenty while she tries to make something of herself. Fiona has graduated to a new level, setting sex standards and renting the apartment for much more than she thought, making a new friend in the process who is definitely going to convince her that being with a woman is a worthwhile idea. Frank making amends without any concept of what was wrong is typical, and I’m sure that will lead to even more ridiculous places. This show handled current events in a great way when Veronica tried to report Svetlana to ICE only to be told that Russians aren’t a priority, something that was reluctantly cast aside when she mentioned the other illicit activities she was running at Putin’s Paradise. I’m not sure what comes next, but Kevin’s lump that was discovered by a peeping cardiologist will definitely complicate matters. I’m excited for what’s sure to be a superb season!

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 8 “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” (B-)

This episode picks up right after the events of the sixth hour, forgetting entirely the time loop that everyone was stuck in last week. That is, except for Lieutenant Stamets, who Tilly is noticing is starting to act a little weird, something he can’t quite describe but is definitely cause for concern. I’ve grown very, very tired of all these Klingon antics, namely the extra-large subtitles and my inability to distinguish any of the Klingons from the pack. Admiral Cornwell appears to have met her end pretty quickly during an escape attempt she didn’t even engineer, though I suppose it’s possible that she’s actually still alive, not that she has any true hope of getting off the ship. Michael really is one for procedure, and not being able to use the technology of a species not really capable of communicating normally without getting their express permission was inconvenient to say the least. It was interesting to see Saru turn on Michael and Ash when the serenity of the planet and its music-inclined species got to him, and for him to use his abilities to realize that Ash was lying to him. Ash had a far more relaxed position about this war, ready to leave the transmitter so that the war could continue to prioritize the needs of the few instead of him going back to his lake house and her going back to prison. After she successfully got them rescued, Michael also managed to have the planet of Pahvo put out a call to bring the Klingons to the Discovery’s doorstep, which should make for a moderately enticing fall finale.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 4 “The House within the House” (B+)

Was this a completely out-there episode? Totally. But it managed to tie things together in a very cool way, as Amanda and Vogel got transplanted to Wendimoor, Dirk spent some time in a house that may also have existed there, and the Mage revealed himself to be the ruler of Wendimoor there to ensure that none other than Dirk Gently would be taken out rather than stand in his way. Amanda and Todd seeing each other was awesome, but not as much as Amanda actually having powers which helped her to take everyone out. I enjoyed the conversations between Panto Trost and Bart in jail, and I think that he may be just the friend that Bart has been looking for. Ken isn’t much closer to getting out of that room, but he has made some important progress that could help him in that quest and will certainly aid Hugo in gaining control of the situation back. Farah nearly put everything together without much help from the hapless Tina, but Hobbs called at just that moment to make sure that they couldn’t walk in to find the Mage with his wand at Suzie’s throat. Something tells me she’s just the person to try to kill Dirk Gently, and her next meeting with Bart isn’t going to be nearly as friendly as their first one. Dirk might not have been sure during this episode, but at least we know now that everything truly is connected, and we’re headed for even wilder revelations soon.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 4 “Chapter Sixty-Eight” (B+)

There are plenty of troublesome things going on here, but this show managed to save the two craziest developments for last by making them seem far more innocuous than they actually are. Luisa scheming to plant termites in the hotel and then burn it down for the insurance money because Rose’s henchman told her to do it is one thing, but discovering that he’s just a hallucination means that Luisa has gone off the deep end. Similarly, Katherine continued to be abrasive and rude in her confrontations with Jane, and when Rafael did his best to come clean about his feelings following Alba’s powerful speech about money, she said she would take some time to think before hitting him with her car. Jane’s relationship with Adam also got kick-started again thanks to Mateo calling him, and Alba gave Jane good advice about Adam’s “putting up with it” comment not meaning what she thought it did and giving him a chance. After he tried out baby name after baby name in casual conversation, Rogelio finally noticed what he needed to about Xiomara’s worries and helped her to take an important step away from the poledancing industry. I don’t know about naming a baby “Baby” but at least Michaelina pays tribute to someone dearly beloved by this show, its protagonist, and, most of all, Rogelio. Petra telling Jane that the drama was behind them was a fun build-up to their entertaining chase scene in the kids’ club, a lighter moment for an otherwise dramatic episode.

Pilot Review: Alias Grace

Alias Grace (Netflix)
Premiered November 3

It’s fair to anticipate another show based on the writings of Margaret Atwood after the incredible production that was the first season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This book was written about a decade after that one, and it’s not set in some dystopian future, but rather revolves around real events brought to life with some fictionalization. This show premiered in Canada a few weeks ago before making its way to Netflix for the instant release in its entirety. There is an air of mystery that makes finding out about Grace’s life intriguing, and this pilot offered snippets of Grace’s time leading up to the visit from this sympathetic doctor that demonstrated that there is much more to be learned about who she was and why she was compelled to so eagerly confess to false crimes that earned her a life of imprisonment, servitude, and torment by doctors seeking to understand her in brutal ways. That premise sounds much more interesting than I found this first hour to be only mildly engaging. I remember Sarah Gadon from “11.22.63” and I couldn’t really pick out Zachary Levi from “Chuck” and Anna Paquin from “True Blood,” two faces I was excited to see in the supporting cast. I didn’t recognize David Cronenberg, a noted Canadian director, who plays the Reverend. This show might be able to tell an interesting story, but this pilot didn’t manage to draw me in the way I hoped it might, and in a sea of shows with worthwhile premises, this one doesn’t stand out in its execution.

How will it work as a series? Set up as a six-episode miniseries, I imagine that it will simultaneously exploring Grace’s past and what got to her the murder charge and Dr. Jordan’s conversations with her that help to shed light on what her mental state is like now. It’s a strong setup, one that will likely get more interesting as it goes on.
How long will it last? Though I believe “The Handmaid’s Tale” was originally slated to be just one season (based on the source material), I think there might be more to fill in there than here. The season has already finished airing in Canada, and seems to be well-received here, so I guess it’s always possible that CBC and Netflix could decide to continue it.

Pilot grade: B-

Monday, November 6, 2017

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 2 “Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak” (B+)

On most shows, a Halloween installment might be especially scary, but on this show, it’s just par for the course. Explaining Eleven’s time between when she disappeared in the classroom to her wandering in the woods and throwing animals at passersby and eventually ending up in Hopper’s house. Her idea to go trick-or-treating as a ghost was actually pretty smart, but it is likely that something would have happened that might have revealed her. The four boys dressing as the Ghostbusters for their excited parents to take pictures of was great, and they handled the fact that they were the only ones in costume at school pretty well. Dustin and Lucas did an awkward job inviting Max to join them, and she got them back by scaring the hell out of them later on. Whereas Eleven got Lucas mad at Mike, now it’s Max who is making Mike angry at Dustin and Lucas while Will isn’t really taking sides since he keeps going to the upside-down. Max’s brother is pretty crazy, and I’m curious what his story is. Hopper’s investigation into the corrupted pumpkin crops was eerie but well-timed, and it’s clear that there are malicious forces at work. Nancy is not in good shape, with Steve’s attempts to curb her drinking failing miserably, and I wonder whether she’ll press on and we’ll soon see Barb again. Something tells me that Bob’s suggested move out of Hawkins won’t happen anytime soon – Joyce is pretty tethered to this place and the people in it.

What I’m Watching: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 4 (B)

I don’t think that I’ve made note yet of the bizarre, unfinished tone to the opening sequences that this show employs, seemingly recreating a moment that would later play into a serial killer’s crime without much definition or closure. It’s unsettling, to be sure, but I wish that it was a bit more connected. After the completely open experience of talking to Ed, Holden and Bill encountered a less cooperative and certainly less polite interviewee who was much more interested in what it was that they were planning to do with his answers. Bill had no qualms about cutting to the chase, giving his opinion on the despicable nature of what he had done and explaining that he couldn’t hope to understand how someone could do it. Later on, Bill was the more composed and reserved one, showing Holden that he had to work a different way with local law enforcement since they’re not as interested in the bigger picture and more in the investment to solve just one case. Wendy doesn’t seem to want to spend any time on active individual cases but rather on the work as a whole, and, somehow, it appears that they’ve received more than adequate funding to be able to pursue the research full-time. I liked seeing Debbie meet Wendy and how they spoke to each other with Holden there, and it was also intriguing to see how strongly Bill reacted when they got into their car accident, forcefully protective of Holden and ready to reign hell on the man who dared to hit them.