Sunday, December 31, 2017

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

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 9 “Chapter Nine: The Gate” (B+)

To think that, just five months ago, I had never seen this show is crazy to me. I’m now a big fan, and though I don’t have to wait as long as everyone else for season three, it’s still going to be at least nine months until it comes out. Fortunately, this has been a really great year, one that I think I found even more enjoyable than seeing one. Reuniting with Eleven was a wonderful moment, though she didn’t actually spend all that much time with the other characters since she was so focused on closing up that bridge to the upside down which she managed to impressively do. Hopper’s reaction to Dustin clarifying the term “demadogs” was one of my favorite parts of the episode, and Steve using sports metaphors and everyone about the dance at the end of the episode rank too. Burning the demagorgon out of Will proved successful, which is a relief, and everyone working together worked out extremely well. I’m a big fan of Max, but I’m still not sure exactly what Billy’s role was in this season. It was good to see both Max and Steve stand up to him and scare him into submission, but otherwise he didn’t stand out much of a character aside from his unexpected flirtation with Nancy’s mom when he stopped by. This season did great things for Nancy, Lucas, and Dustin, and I’m really excited to revisit everyone next year when this show returns for its highly anticipated third season.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 8 “The Twelve Shorts of Christmas” (B)

I suppose this show gets some credit for a harmless double entendre in its title and in trying out something new to celebrate the holiday. Perhaps it also suggests that each of this show’s vignettes are so unsubstantial that they can be boiled down to even shorter segments and still be just as effective (or less than memorable). Out of this bunch, I was entertained by Greg’s little dance number in the car though I find it hard to believe that both he and Matt could be stopped at the same traffic light without getting honked at by cars behind either of them. I’m not a fan of Martin Starr’s creepy repair guy, and I don’t love Martin Mull’s depressed patient either. The suicidal rumba was a strange but moderately clever bit, and the big Christmas party in the little house was predictably claustrophobic. The plotline that felt the most like this show featured the three adult siblings in the bathtub together, with Matt trying to use this as a gift from just him since he’s notoriously terrible at such things. Heather getting angry about her perceived love of cherries was fun, especially considering the gift Sophia, who also starred in her own accidentally alcohol-enhanced scene, had gotten her, and Tim being upset about being left out of the family photos that weren’t all from before he joined the family was a nice way to make him seem less stupid and a little more serious than usual. As Christmas episodes go, this one was at least different.

What I’m Watching: There’s Johnny

There’s Johnny: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Getaway” (B)

This isn’t a show that’s particularly serious about the consequences its characters get for things to happen or that they find out. Andy was typically unprepared for what he was getting himself into when he accepted Angelo’s invitation, and he was definitely surprised by Joy explaining that he has sex with other men. That fact wasn’t bothersome to the relatively open-minded Andy, and what he found so unbelievable was that he had been with his partner for as long as his own parents had been married and were also participating in a sham marriage at the same time. Andy is an honest guy, and that’s why he was so upset when he ran into Rasheed, whose name isn’t Rasheed, with his mysteriously alive parents, and realized that he had just fabricated everything he had shared with him. At least he got some good news, which is that his brother is home and safe even though he’s not entirely okay, but that’s better than the state of death that I thought he was in. I’m not sure what to make of the inclusion of a scene featuring Joy’s father having sex with a woman that wasn’t her mother right before he called her to check in, but I suppose it’s just meant to further underline how much people keep their private lives hidden in this age, with Joy and Andy being the exceptions. There’s just one more episode this season, and while I’ve enjoyed the show so far, I’m curious to see if the finale will provide anything more emphatic and substantial that would make ordering a second season worthwhile.

What I’m Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets” (B+)

I’m starting to really like and appreciate the rhythm of this show after having some initial misgivings with the second episode, and it makes me very excited for the rest of the season. All of the talking is purposeful and entertaining, and it allows for considerably more material to be covered than most shows are able to do in just one hour. This episode was a superb spotlight for Tony Shalhoub, who was insistent that he’s not the kind of man that owns two TVs, later caved to his wife after she pressed it and made her case, and then withdrew his offer when he got angry at Midge for coming home so late. We saw a bit of how Midge has learned much of what she knows from her mother, who also gets up in the middle of the night to make herself pretty for the morning. Suzie is getting funnier and funnier, and the line that made me laugh most in this hour was her claim that thirty percent of comics die from cord-related injuries. She isn’t happy that Midge is writing everything down, and she definitely doesn’t like people who want to take more than one of her hand-written business cards. Midge has a lot to learn in the stand-up comedy business, and something tells me she’s going to develop a few hobbies along the way, like becoming the emblem of a cause she’s never before heard of because she happened to be passing by at a potent moment. She was especially fierce and unforgiving in her takedown of Joel and the nearly identical life he’s created with a woman who’s not Jewish and who’s not her.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

What I’m Watching: Search Party (Season Finale)

Search Party: Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10 “Frenzy” and “Psychosis” (B+)

Okay, so April is definitely crazy, and not, as Elliott and Portia briefly thought when they were following her twin sister, happy crazy. Demanding $60,000 was a bit random, and my favorite part of their whole discussion which Portia couldn’t hear was that Drew logically calculated that if he could get $60,000 in two days, he would get $60,000 every two days. Drew and Dory having sex shows that they’ve reconnected, but that’s not a great thing given how terrible they are at lying together. Drew getting cupcakes that read “I had sex with your wife” so that he could get his promotion went so poorly, and now he’s out of a job altogether. Elliot proposing to Mark in the supermarket was an unexpected development, but he’s someone who doesn’t listen to anything anyone else says and just does exactly what he feels like in every moment. Joy following Fat Frankie nearly worked out perfectly for our friends since she panicked and shot him, but then Chantal had to come and confess that she was actually in Montreal and not New Hampshire, prompting lots of anger from Joy and some quick dot-connecting. Offering up Julien’s sex scandal as a way to keep April quiet was a creative if unproductive solution, but it seems it was all for naught now that Dory has been arrested for the very specific murder of Keith. There’s no word on a third season of this show, but I’m extremely excited to see where it all goes and hopeful that its commission will be announced shortly.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Alia Shawkat as Dory

What I’m Watching: SMILF

SMILF: Season 1, Episode 7 “Family-Sized Popcorn & a Can of Wine” (B+)

There’s often not a lot of ground covered in each of this show’s episodes, but they still work pretty well as small vignettes of the parenting and relationship challenges Bridgette experiences on a daily basis. Trying to potty train Larry didn’t go all that well, and she had normal frustrations when it came to that as she tried to be enthusiastic and encouraging without getting too invested in the likelihood of his progress. Bringing Larry to a horror movie definitely wasn’t the smartest idea, and they rightly got yelled at by the guy behind them for that mistake. On the bus, strangers were a bit more forgiving when she loudly realized that she had forgotten to feed him breakfast and lunch. Bridgette is far from the worst television mother, and her occasional lack of awareness and forgetfulness are forgivable given her sweet intent to make the world a great place for her son. Rafi is more than a bit distracted at the moment, unable to process what happened the night before, and I’m curious to see where that’s going to lead since he too is a good guy in a strong relationship with a nice woman who would surely have a whole lot of trouble handling what the idea of him being attracted to another man means for them. This show’s inaugural season is only eight episodes, which means that the season finale airs tomorrow night, so let’s hope for a memorable and entertaining conclusion that wraps things up well enough while getting us excited for season two.

What I’m Watching: Good Behavior (Season Finale)

Good Behavior: Season 2, Episode 10 “Letty Raines, in the Mansion, with the Gun” (B-)

I don’t like the idea of going into a season finale not knowing if a show has been renewed, and given that it’s been almost two weeks since it aired, it’s especially distressing not to know if more is coming. In theory, this could serve as a fitting resolution given the way that its final scene played out, but I wouldn’t be happy at all given the content of the rest of this episode. I’m not a fan of hallucinations in general, and I don’t think that seeing Brian Baumgartner’s deceased security tech in conversation with Letty as a manifestation of her guilt was necessary or effective. I’ve always admired this show for the way that it just goes wherever its plot takes it, and this episode felt disappointingly formulaic. Letty was freaking out and trying to get away from Javier so that she could punish just herself for killing two people, and, in spite of a car crash where she just handed money to the other guy, they got away without any real issue. Rhonda quit the FBI and is now happily married to Christian, and she didn’t even care if they had just finished disposing of bodies when she came to pick them up. I don’t feel that this finale did justice to everything that’s transpired this season, since it focused on Letty spiraling and then snapping back into a good emotional state and didn’t revisit all of the great supporting characters in a substantial way. I really hope we get a third season of this show because I loved a whole lot of this season, and I think it has enormous potential to continue to be great.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Ann Dowd as Special Agent Rhonda Lashever

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 8, Episode 7 “Occupy Fiona” (B+)

Well, things between Ian and Fiona are definitely not great. Ian waking her up by pouring ice water on her every morning hardly seems kind or mature, and getting all of his kids to camp out in front of the church to chant angry slogans was an admittedly clever but devious move. Fiona has lost some sense of the person she used to be, offering pizza to all of the squatters and then paying them to move so that she could have their makeshift tents cleaned up and removed, though for her it’s less about living to get by than it is refusing to back down to get ahead on her own merits. While Fiona would like to think things are going to be okay, it doesn’t seem that Ian is going to get over it, even after Trevor decided to accept her offer of another building. Lip is going to bat for the two people who have helped get him through hard times in his life, and neither of them are helping themselves. Professor Youens being drunk on the stand was a particular low point, and hopefully his getting sent to jail will be a wake-up call to Lip to really get his life together. I think Carl would be great at making ransom videos, but it seems that he’s gotten much more than he bargained for with his new friend. Debs getting one last chance to keep her parking attendant provided her not with a great reference for the future but a hilarious use of her welding skills to get revenge on the arrogant doctor who felt compelled to rip the gate off its hinges in a fit of rage. Frank isn’t going to find legitimate work anytime soon, so what better way to get by than by being a coyote for those trying to get into Canada? And I loved that, after Kev failed miserably at being dominating, Veronica figured out that him complaining about things she did wrong was the sweet spot for her.

Friday, December 29, 2017

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Series Finale)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 10 “Nice Jacket” (B+)

I’m devastated. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that I knew going into this show that it had already been cancelled since my TV viewing the past few weeks has been so delayed. This was the show I most pointed to as a singular and unique series that others should continue watching since they obviously hadn’t heard of it, and I would have enjoyed watching seasons upon seasons of it. While I do think that season one was superior to season two overall in terms of the specific plot, I was impressed with how things turned out and came together by the end of this season once we realized that everything was indeed connected. Seeing the boy become the boy again in Wendimoor was awesome, and he was quickly able to disarm Suzie and fix everything by bringing all those that were killed back to life and placing them where they should be. Allowing The Beast to join the Rowdy Three so that they’re now six people was the best decision of all. I also like that Amanda has the wand, and that Todd was able to seemingly control it and stop Suzie from killing him when she tried. There’s so much unresolved here that I would have loved to see address, mainly the fact that Ken is becoming evil, to the point that the universe is telling Bart that she should kill him. It was the dim-witted Hugo, apparently well aware that he’s stupid, who stopped Ken from preventing Dirk and Mona from going to Wendimoor to save the day. The boy’s wisdom – “We’re supposed to help fix things” – was touching, and it’s a nice theme for a show that involves a whole lot of broken and incomprehensible stuff. I’m not sure where we would have gone next from here, but I’m going to continue vehemently recommending this show to anyone I talk to. It may well have been the weirdest show on television, but it was also one of the most creative and delightful.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Hannah Marks as Amanda
Series grade: A-
Series MVP: Fiona Dourif as Bart

Pilot Review: Wormwood

Wormwood (Netflix)
Premiered December 15

Sometimes going into a show knowing absolutely nothing about it proves detrimental since it’s hard to understand without any context or introduction. It probably would have been useful to know that this show was about LSD and featured the suicide of an infamous subject on the drug as its central event, especially since this show has a very intense feel to it based on its incorporation of the drug and its history into its plot. I was most taken by the impressive names in the credited cast, though I didn’t see most of them in this initial hour. Peter Sarsgaard, of course, did make an appearance, though we have much more to learn about Frank Olson and the circumstances surrounding his untimely demise that is dramatized in the opening scene and haunting opening credits of this show. Molly Parker and Christian Camargo have both shown that they can do tremendous work on television shows like “House of Cards” and “Dexter,” respectively. I also like Michael Chernus from “The Big C” and “Orange is the New Black.” Tim Blake Nelson is dependable, as is Jimmi Simpson, recently seen on “Westworld.” As for the show itself, I found it hard to get into, and the use of narration and interviews to chronicle events that I’d much rather see play out on screen is disappointing. I’m mildly intrigued both by the premise and by the talent involved, but this opening hour was relatively dull and unmemorable considering the potential it had to be very good.

How will it work as a series? It’s only designed to be a six-episode miniseries, and so I’d imagine that it can take its sweet time in exploring the meat of its story as it wades into all that starting in episode two. I really do think that it’s critical to utilize the cast and make it more engaging than just retelling the story without showing it, though some further research indicates that this is meant as more of a documentary than a narrative project.
How long will it last? I seem to be in the minority in my attitude towards this miniseries, which has a very strong 84 rating on Metacritic. Despite that, I don’t imagine that Netflix is going to renew something that was always meant as a standalone limited series, so I’d be very surprised to hear that more of this same story was being commissioned. Similar projects from director Errol Morris, on the other hand…

Pilot grade: B-

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 2, Episode 2 “A Company of Men” (B+)

I remember reading that the second season of this show was going to focus more on Philip and the crown atop his head than on Elizabeth, and this episode was definitely formatted that way. Philip is a character who has been hard to find sympathetic since the start of this show, so concerned with how this regal position will affect him when he still enjoys many of the liberties of normal life that Elizabeth can’t because she is the queen. You’d expect a certain level of discretion from him while he was out gallivanting around the world on a trip he never wanted to take, and that’s one of the reasons that, fortunately, he hasn’t yet sunk into infidelity. Mike, on the other hand, has, and his wife is well aware of that fact and wants him to pay for it right away. It’s hard to think of a divorce going through in those days, and she certainly got a response that indicated a lack of faith in her own mental state. The health of the British prime minister doesn’t seem to be excellent no matter who’s in office, and I liked Elizabeth’s reaction to the news that he had to go to Jamaica. Back on the boat, I like that the discord Philip and his friends are experiencing includes a beard-growing competition that specified that those with preexisting beards had to shave so that the playing field would be evened. Philip fighting to pick up the stranded man showed that he does have principles and isn’t ready for anyone to tell him what to do, especially if he knows that he holds the real power in the situation.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

What I’m Watching: Longmire

Longmire: Season 6, Episode 5 “Burned Up My Tears” (B+)

This show has always excelled at building up a murder into something completely unexpected by introducing a suspect we didn’t see coming and then ending in their unforgettable demise. The last time that happened on this show was when Barlow himself ended up biting the bullet after it was revealed that he was responsible for his own son’s death. Nothing is back to normal just yet, and Walt and Vic are fighting over who should take public responsibility for killing Chance since neither of them wants to see the other hurt as retribution. Not that it could ever be seen as going well, Walt’s trial did seem to be going especially poorly in this hour, and the fact that Walt’s lawyer didn’t want Lucien to testify on his behalf spoke volumes. Now, things got considerably worse when the lawyer for Barlow’s estate got killed and Walt was the prime suspect with Vic next in line, and that was before the big reveal that it was Lucien who was actually the culprit. He certainly didn’t expect that Walt would be able to identify the twentieth most important character in an 800-page book, and I can say that I didn’t expect any of this to happen. Having them both pull and shoot each other in the hand made this feel very much like the modern-day western that it is, and Lucien running off a cliff and jumping made for quite the intense finale. I thought that would be it, but he had the chance to share some final words that show that there’s at least one person out there who thinks Walt is a good man. It’s been a great performance from Peter Weller, and a character I won’t soon forget.

Friday, December 22, 2017

What I’m Watching: The Punisher

The Punisher: Season 1, Episode 5 “Gunner” (B)

This was a somewhat slow-moving episode, one that left things looking very bad for our main antihero. Frank can put up with a lot, but he was in bad shape at the end of this hour. There’s no denying that Frank is a force to be reckoned with, hunting down the operatives who were after him in the woods and then looking straight into the camera so that Rawlins would know exactly who was coming for him. David isn’t quite as skilled in the field, and instead he’s busy making sandwiches for himself without bothering to ask Frank if he wants one. Dinah seemed to be most concerned about the state of her car after the events of last week, and brushed off the reaction her bruised body got while she was in the middle of having some very passionate sex. Trusting Karen with the information that Wolf was dirty but telling her not to print it shows that she’s well aware that she shouldn’t know this and definitely shouldn’t be spreading it, and hopefully it’s putting her closer and closer to being able to work with Frank once they inevitably meet again. Rawlins getting offered the deputy director job from the newly promoted Marion James, portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, last seen as a series regular on the sadly short-lived “Limitless,” has nefarious connotations since he doesn’t seem to care at all about the ethics of what they’re doing, which is sure to put him and Marion right at the top of Frank’s hitlist. Frank is going to have to fend off a negative reaction from David’s family, though I think he’ll need to be nursed back to health first.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 8 “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer” (B+)

Well, this easily has to be the most action-packed episode of this show yet, and it also delivered a major casualty for one of our series regulars. Mike was smart to come up with the idea to make Will sleep since he was a spy and knew where they were, and Joyce asking him who she was proved that he wasn’t the Will that they knew. Making sure that he didn’t know where he was and spending time appealing to his human nature while he tapped out messages to them was cool, and I was most excited to see everyone together. We now know that Dr. Owens was one of the good ones despite his nefarious origins, staying behind to make sure that everyone could get out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, the gregarious, brave Bob didn’t make it out alive, ducking into the closet to find Joyce waiting for him before the demagorgon pounced on him and then shared him with the others so that they could rip him apart. There were some good classic friend conversations in this episode, like how Dustin and Lucas both broke the rule of law and how Max thought that Eleven must have been really awesome. Fortunately, we just had to wait until the end of the hour for a demagorgon to be thrown into the house where Nancy, Steve, and Lucas were waiting with their gun, bat, and slingshot, respectively, to see that the newly-restyled Eleven was back and ready to team up with our powerless friends to take back Hawkins from these invading creatures.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What I’m Watching: Mindhunter (Season Finale)

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 10 (B+)

I wasn’t sure what the focus of this finale would be, and I think that its two main plotlines in this episode were equally compelling. Holden once again used very coarse, brutal language to get his latest interviewee talking, and, after they set up the room together, it was clear that the other law enforcement officials in the room weren’t comfortable with his line of questioning, itself just as disturbing as the content of what they were hearing from a man discussing fourteen as the age of consent in Georgie. Bill and Holden did go in together to really get them when they had started to convince him he was guilty, but those moments are much rarer these days. Holden and Wendy flying down to speak to the judge after the article got picked up didn’t go well, and it’s clear that they’ve gone past the point of hiding their research and using it only for analytical purposes. Holden being completely honest with the Office of Professional Responsibility made sense as an offensive tactic, but he really is on thin ice. Getting a call that he was Ed’s proxy seemed to show him that he had crossed a line, and when he told Holden that he could kill him before anyone showed up and then had him in his grip, he sent Holden running down the hallway and spinning out both physically and mentally. Holden’s home life is also out of control, as he didn’t even grasp that Debbie asked if he wanted her to shut up and adore him was an angry remark about the unacceptable nature of their relationship. The final scene shows that we’re far from done with all this, and I think season two should be intriguing. I haven’t always loved this show, but I think it is worthwhile and plan to return for more when it comes back.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany as Holden and Bill

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 7 “Thirty-Five Teacher Escape Lottery” (B)

I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly good at determining people’s ages, but I think that any person in their right mind would be able to tell that Jen wasn’t turning 53. Moreover, it’s just a common practice of decency and politeness in the customer service industry that you don’t emphasize someone’s age or suggest that someone is a grandmother when all you’re doing is misreading the situation around you. It was entertaining to watch, and who would have thought that Clementine could be just as persuasive with little girls as she is with teenage boys? Zoe Lister-Jones has always been my favorite actress on this show, and this rare moment of extreme self-pity rather than anger at someone else was fun to watch. Another unexpected discovery was that Tyler’s adult girlfriend, Christine Woods’ Lesley, was Sophia’s teacher. She didn’t make it all that awkward, but she did manage to be extremely unprofessional and petty by picking favorites in class and then switching back to her original choice when Tyler broke up with her. She doesn’t seem to be going anywhere after Sophia sent her flowers and wrote her a note on Tyler’s behalf, and he’s never been a particularly effective communicator in isolating what he really means when he says or does the wrong thing. John fell for that escape room theft in a big way, and now the family is left with no stuff in the house, which I imagine will be milked for future plotlines. I’ve enjoyed watching Colleen’s frugality get her into trouble in the past, and her forgetfulness and tendency to lose stuff took center stage in this half-hour which, most prominently, led Matt to determine that he just needs to be on her side sometimes even if he finds the lottery ticket tucked under the visor of her car.

What I’m Watching: There’s Johnny

There’s Johnny: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Drop” (B-)

This was hardly the most serious episode this show has produced thus far, and that’s strange since it did deal with a relatively serious concept: Johnny getting a stalker. This was also the first time that we really saw Johnny out and about and not just in his televised form on screen, but there seems to be a commitment to not having an actor play him, or at least not be seen by the camera. No one wanted to publicize the fact that there was a threat against Johnny, and the notion of a few stolen typewriters managed to seem legitimate enough to anyone who wasn’t a legitimate suspect. Andy was dismissed pretty quickly when it was determined that he was too goofy and unfocused to be able to do anything, but there was an entertaining moment where he was the top choice by the cops there. It was odd to see the kind of writing you see at the end of movies based on real events that explain how things actually worked out, but I guess it’s because they wanted to drive home the fact that some of this did indeed happen, unlike most of these stories involving our fictional friend Andy. It makes sense that Andy wouldn’t be too familiar with getting high, and I’d say that the funniest part of it was when he saw the beauty queen from his school while he was buying barbecue potato chips and touched her face a few times to make sure she was real.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot (Season Finale)

Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 10 “shutdown –r” (B+)

I certainly couldn’t have predicted that things would end this way, but I was pleasantly surprised to see all of our characters together in two distinct places as everyone was made aware of what was going on, even if some of it really wasn’t pleasant. As expected, Dom finally caught on to the fact that Santiago hadn’t reported that they brought Darlene in, and he was bold enough to knock her out after telling her that she shouldn’t be scared since there were security cameras watching them. Irving made quite the impression on her when he told her to look at the sky and then hacked Santiago apart with an axe while mentioning specific members of her family who she should want to keep safe. She saved some particularly harsh words for Darlene, who wanted to bond with her after they both survived this thanks to a change of heart from Whiterose and a skilled action from Leon. Philip revealing to Angela that he was her father burst her bubble and made her realize that she’s been wrong all along, and now she’s reached an irreversible point. The best part of this episode was Elliot and Mr. Robot realizing they could use each other, and the shot of Mr. Robot coming to sit on the subway seat right across from him was very powerful. I’m excited to see what they could do in season four, which was just announced. This has been another superb year of the show, with fantastic performances all around.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Rami Malek and Bobby Cannavale

Take Three: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1, Episode 3 “Because You Left” (B+)

After a second installment that felt like a bit too much, this third hour worked well for me and helped to show how the series might move forward. Midge and Joel are living separate lives at the moment and there doesn’t seem to be much of a shot that they’ll truly reconcile. But by flashing back to the formative moments in which they first met and in which Midge demonstrated her early knack for comedy by interrupting his speech to his father with a dry request for him to take his clothes off, we see that all hope isn’t necessarily lost. Most importantly, the two fathers want to see them reunited, and Rose’s distressed state even inspired her husband Abe to go down to Moishe’s factory and do something that represented groveling to get the apartment back. Paying for half of it is a bold offer, and having to live with hearing the story of his heroic act of salvation might even be a greater price. Midge has a knack for getting herself arrested, and though she presents herself well in court, she isn’t concerned about filtering what she says to a federal judge. When she says things like, “because I am, after all, a woman,” it’s not meant to be a joke, but it’s fun to see that she has some sarcasm in her voice that only the audience and her lawyer get since the judge thinks it’s her admitting that she does in fact understand the times. My favorite part of this episode was her requesting that they do an activity once she was high, after which she went up and introduced the band with some comedy before forgetting to actually introduce the band.

Monday, December 18, 2017

What I’m Watching: The Gifted

The Gifted: Season 1, Episode 10 “eXploited” (B)

I was using this fall finale as a test of whether I’d continue watching this show, and I can definitely say that I didn’t expect this episode to end this way. I thought this was going to be all about how everyone goes on the run again, with the kids escaping their confines only to stay one small step ahead of their pursuers. Dr. Campbell didn’t waste any time in forcing Agent Turner to hand Lauren and Andy over to him, and he got to work right away on testing their powers, which it turns out are quite strong. Shooting Dreamer in the head shows that characters on this show are expendable, and that he’s a villain through and through, completely unconcerned with ending lives to achieve the ends he thinks are necessary. Esme convincing Reed and Caitlin to appeal to Agent Turner’s humanity, something that worked thanks in no small part to his wife questioning the ethics of what he was doing, was clearly duplicitous when she lied to the rest of the mutants about it, but it seemed that she was a double agent working for Sentinel Services who wanted to show that mutants can be bad and shouldn’t be trusted. Instead, she was revealed to be a much more powerful mutant capable of pushing thoughts onto other people with two clones (or sisters?) with the same abilities. They were ruthless in their murder of the agents, and now they’re going to be guiding these freed mutants through the next stage of whatever their nefarious plan is. I’m intrigued enough to at least see this show through its final three episodes, airing first on January 1st and then closing out with a double-decker finale on January 15th. We’ll see beyond that.

What I’m Watching: Search Party

Search Party: Season 2, Episodes 7 and 8 “Denial” and “Hysteria” (B+)

This show truly is unique, and these two episodes were illustrative of just how unlike any other it really is. Drew and Dory were brought back together by the fact that Drew had to share the threatening note he received with her, and then they needed to clean off the word “murderer” written on the door. It almost doesn’t even matter who knows what they did or if they’re just grasping at straws based on pieces of conversations that they’ve overheard since their paranoia rules their lives and dictates most of what they do anyway. Joy interviewing them made for a mesmerizing scene since Dory was unusually focused and somehow managed to be unsuspicious, covering her tracks every time Joy brought something up that seemed to poke a hole in her story. Drew, on the other hand, was a complete disaster, constantly tripping over himself and rightfully setting off Joy’s radar. I was surprised that Crystal sought Joy out to confirm the Fat Frankie story that Dory had made up, so it’s possible that they might just be able to get away with this if they don’t make it any worse for themselves. Elliot’s therapy seemed like it might be doing good things for him, but apparently what he took away most was that he hates working and never wanted to do it another day of his life, something that I don’t think is going to work out all that well for him. Portia’s debut performance was good but quite the head trip, and her non-relationship with Elijah is definitely messing with her the same way. Julian’s article about playing the victim did not go over well at work, and his candidate’s response was particularly unexpected. I have no idea how things will play out in the final two episodes, and I hope that we’ll get another of this very bizarre but appealing series.

What I’m Watching: SMILF

SMILF: Season 1, Episode 6 “Chocolate Pudding and a Cooler of Gatorade” (B+)

This is my first time writing about this show since it scored surprise Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress and Best Comedy Series. While I do like this show, I didn’t expect it to be rewarded since it just started and hasn’t quite established itself or determined what it is. This episode was a prime example, opening with narration about Bridgette being a famous basketball player before revealing that she had been invited to try out for the WNBA, an audition which included an imagined synchronized routine, the kind of device this show sometimes uses but not consistently. Ally was quick to dismiss her chances because of her height, and it seems like that played a lot more into it than the lack of her ritual lemon water. She can work on her BEEF as much as he wants, but she’s not going to make the cut when she’s competing with women who can dunk. Rafi clearly has a complicated relationship with his own family, and his connection to his priest friend from the gym is turning into something other than he thought it was also. Tutu got a big spotlight in this episode when she tracked down Edmond and got dressed up to go to the dentist. He didn’t seem to have any issue having sex with her in his chair, and it was only after she told him that she wanted a bed next time that she realized he had gotten his matching tattoo removed, ruining the experience for her. Bridgette telling her mom that she was nauseous about the thought of being her age and not having done a lot with her life came out much meaner than I think she meant, but I suspect it won’t take much to repair that relationship.

What I’m Watching: Good Behavior

Good Behavior: Season 2, Episode 9 “And I Am a Violent Criminal” (B+)

Well, last week’s disconcerting ending was quickly rectified at the start of this hour, but after everything, she’s almost in worse shape with two dead bodies lying on the floor of her empty house and girl scouts knocking at her door. Christian tried to be helpful by bringing her to Estelle’s before he realized that she couldn’t be around Jacob like that, and he knew better than to bring her anywhere near Rhonda. Being reunited with Javier was the right move, and their conversations immediately brought back some of this show’s familiar banter. Asking Javier why he was friends with Teo if he was crazy elicited a humorous retort – “Why am I friends with you?” – and both she and the girl scouts thought he was crazy to buy anything but Thin Mints, as always, Javier continues to swear by the heart attack. After he went to the diner to meet Teo, Letty was able to handle the situation all by herself by staying focused on Teo’s cannibal story and get to her gun first. Unfortunately, the timing of the security tech guy just walking in – a questionable practice given that a knock should have happened first – means that she’s in way over her head with the guy’s van parked outside. Focusing a bit on Jacob’s life with Estelle and Rob proved very insightful, as Estelle had a heart-to-heart with her grandson about how he was lying like his mother about Rob’s mower. Letty was right that Jacob isn’t the same as her, and it’s interesting to see how he develops with his unique life experience. I’m excited for a surely great finale and sincerely hope that season three will be ordered soon.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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

The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 8 “How It’s Gotta Be” (B-)

I know that, technically speaking, most shows have fall finales that I haven’t been identifying as such, but this show always airs its seasons in two parts, and I think it’s important to differentiate those two halves. I also think that this is going to be the last episode I watch since I just can’t get over how endless this show seems, particularly because I’ve read that it might continue on forever, which is an unbearable thought. The recently-started device of zooming in on each character’s face continues to be irritating since it just emphasizes how little and how rarely they’re featured, to the point that I forgot that we hadn’t heard anything from Morgan in a while or that he was even still alive when he showed up to see Ezekiel being held captive. It’s been a full season and a half since Negan first showed his face and made an unforgettable impression, and it still feels like our friends won’t ever be able to get out from under him, no matter how many times it seems like they’ve regained control. Maggie is ready to go to war, and, while a good number of the characters survived, they don’t have the facilities they need, and their mole on the inside of Negan’s operation has been revealed and is only going to be helpful from a strategic perspective rather than an operational one. I accidentally saw a headline about Carl portrayer Chandler Riggs’ father being upset about what the show did to his son’s character before I watched this episode, and so seeing him go out with a whimper was pretty lackluster. I just don’t care anymore, so I can’t imagine I’ll be compelled to watch the second half of this season when it returns in February.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 8, Episode 6 “Icarus Fell and Rusty Ate Him” (B+)

This dynamic between Fiona and Ian is predictably tense, and having Fiona experience a crisis of identity at the same time has given her a certain resolve to make a difference. What they’re not agreeing on is what kind of difference to make, since Fiona doesn’t want to be forgotten and have her dead body cleaned out by an uncaring relative who won’t even bother to save a photo of her. Maybe I was wrong and Fiona isn’t going to hook up with Nessa after all, but I guess there’s still time. His new Kentucky identity can’t help Kev with his jealousy about how Svetlana does a better job giving Veronica pleasure than he does, and his efforts to be defiantly gay were extremely entertaining – and equally unsuccessful. His inability to comprehend the notion of domination by having Veronica determine what he would make her do was unsurprising. I knew Frank’s new lease on life might expire at some point, but I think the bubble burst earlier than expected thanks to the closing of his store, and my biggest takeaway was the tone-deafness of an organization that won’t bother to cancel an employee-of-the-month photo shoot taking place the same day as that employee, and all the other employees, were being let go. I wonder if the countdown clock at the bottom of the screen means that Debs really is pregnant again, and something tells me that she’ll be able to, after some struggling, monetize the operation if she ends up with two babies. As Brad spirals out of control, it’s good to see Lip investing so heavily in trying to bring him back from the edge, holding on to that obsession to keep him from slipping back into alcoholism.

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

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 9 “Trouble Is Bad” (B+)

I had forgotten how violent this show can get, and I guess I had expected that the likes of Panto and Silas would live happily ever after. I don’t think that any of Wendimoor will survive past this, and it’s going to be an explosive conclusion that manages to outdo the literal explosion that finally broke the Mage’s spell and hopefully took him out and the killing of pretty much everyone on both sides in Wendimoor. We saw Panto exhibit more violence than ever before as he let Bart relax while he killed all of Priest’s men, and it’s great to see the relationship he’s developed with Bart. It was wonderful to see a joyous reunion between Bart and Ken via tablet, and Bart’s excitement not to be killing people anymore was palpable, though Ken’s unsuccessful attempt to get her to come in means that they won’t be reunited in person anytime soon. When Panto was killed, Bart’s inner killer was unleashed, and we didn’t need to see more than the bullets bouncing off her to know what was coming next. Hugo nearly shooting Ken when Mona transformed into his gun was intense, and I liked the introduction of this holistic actress, a perfect addition to the weird bunch on this show. Things don’t look good for Tina and Farah, both of whom I really hope survive. The ending of this episode was fantastic, just like this time last year, with Dirk getting ready to jump back to the real world to save the day after Todd and Amanda teamed up to transport him with their powers. I can’t wait for the finale, and I really hope we get a season three.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 5, Episode 3 “A Life Spent” (C+)

I’m really just not understanding why this is where we’re spending our time. I was frustrated leading up to the framework because it felt like everyone was being replaced by robots and that things could never go back to the way they were, but then they did and instead of getting to experience the readjustment, everything is just as irreversible now that they’re stranded so far in the future with little hope of getting back to their quaked-apart planet so many years earlier. It doesn’t seem possible that they’ll escape anytime soon, especially considering the newly-revealed treachery perpetrated by Deke, who made sure that Daisy demonstrated her powers for Kasius before he presented her as a valuable item to sell. I find the “silence” device that Kasius and Sinara use on Simmons to be very creepy, and I really can’t imagine how she’ll be able to communicate with anyone on the team to get out of this life of servitude. She managed to save Abby’s life by training her, but all that did was get her sold too. The side mission that Coulson, May, and Mack convinced Tess to take with them didn’t go too awry thanks to the clever thinking to implicate Zev as the traitor, and Yo-Yo’s abilities continue to be extremely convenient and awesome. Going back to Earth seems less and less appealing with the sight of a stranded Zev ready to be taken by the elements after being banished to its surface, and I’m wondering whether I’ll even feel like tuning in next week to continue watching this seemingly aimless saga.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 7 “Chapter Seventy-One” (B+)

I was cheering throughout this episode, since anyone who’s followed my reviews of this show since the beginning knows that I’ve always been #teamrafael, and now it finally looks like it’s going to happen again (though I was convinced that the last scene was just something she imaged happening). The disastrous book tour, filled with video-captured crying and a lackluster review, was helpful in allowing all three Villanueva women to realize something important about themselves. Having all of the reminders about Adam was extremely distracting for Jane, but I think that, in this show’s history, he’s going to be just a blip in Jane’s romantic life, far eclipsed by Michael and Rafael, the two men for whom she’s fallen hardest. I enjoyed the bonding time we got between Rogelio and Rafael since we rarely see those two interact, and Rogelio attributing some of that to Rafael being a playboy when they first met and he was dating Jane was insightful. I was concerned when Rafael convinced Rogelio to be mad at Xiomara for running away, but fortunately it helped the relationship and is now sending them into couples counseling, which should prove entertaining as Rogelio tries to resist it. Alba dashing away from Jorge’s proposal led her to an important realization, but then for some reason she changed her mind at the last minute! Jane reconnecting with Michael’s mother was important and cathartic, and now she really can move on to the next chapter of her life. Petra, on the other hand, won’t ever be rid of her sister, even if she managed to make sure that she’s really dead this time, though we didn’t see the nametag so we can’t know for sure.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3, Episode 7 “Getting Over Jeff.” (B-)

I’ll admit - I watched this episode almost a week ago and didn’t get a chance to write my review until now, so my memory of it isn’t all that clear. I know that it wasn’t my favorite hour, mainly because it took two of our main characters away from home for a visit to Paula’s dad. Being away from her normal surroundings might have been good for Rebecca, and she also noticed that drinking wasn’t actually a trigger for her the way a lot of other things are. Paula ran into her own Josh Chan, whose name was pretty similar to Josh’s, and she had to process that this was just an escape from the regular life that, according to her family, she finds ways to distract herself from with other obsessions on an almost constant basis. Leave it to a precocious child like Madison to be more mature than the adults and help Darryl finally break up with White Josh, a lamentable development that hopefully won’t leave them both in a rut and maybe won’t even be permanent. Josh getting a job as a bartender spoke to his skill and his general ability to do little and make it seem like he’s doing a lot, and that bubble burst in an unfortunate way when his pimple popped right into the drink of the woman he was trying to woo. That was far from his best moment, and he’s going to need to seriously work on his game and improving his self-awareness, something that’s never been his strong suit.

What I’m Watching: The Crown (Season Premiere)

The Crown: Season 2, Episode 1 “Misadventure” (B+)

This show is back for a second season just three short months after I finished the first one, and my opinion of it has definitely risen even if I’m still not as gung-ho about its quality as everyone else I know. It’s still slow but purposefully so, and each episode feels like an epic exploration of isolated figures in monumental moments of history. This one started by revisiting the bickering going on between Elizabeth and Philip, highlighted fantastically by Elizabeth suggesting that one of Philip’s biggest problems was that he complained so much. There were a few moments of more jovial interactions, but mostly it was the cold, kiss-on-the-cheek, unfriendly moments that suggest that even Elizabeth might ascribe to Mike’s joking perspective about marriage being an institution. Elizabeth closing the door on her empty bedroom was another signature ending scored by fantastic music, and she did a great job holding her own as she found out from the prime minister that the Suez Canal operation with the Israelis had been approved without her knowledge. It’s interesting watching this show after seeing “Darkest Hour” a month ago and noting how its portrayals of British diplomacy are similar, if a bit brighter on this show. Margaret’s appearance was as always very memorable, with a fierce jab at Elizabeth for reminding her that she’s alone because she - or, as Elizabeth argues, the crown - forbade her from marrying the one true match that she had found. I’ll be watching this show over the next twelve weeks and look forward to covering some interesting territory.

What I’m Watching: Longmire

Longmire: Season 6, Episode 4 “A Thing I’ll Never Understand” (B+)

There’s a certain point that some shows - especially cop shows - which involve dynamics of sarcasm reach when a main character is either killed or suffers a serious trauma and it’s all about offering uncharacteristically sober support. I think that sort of happened way back when Chance first terrorized Vic, and then when Branch got killed it kicked into gear again since his death, however complicated, was still a big loss to the department. This time, Walt actually had to drive Vic to the hospital and keep her awake during the intense ride, and then they had to deal with the devastating news that she lost the baby. Honestly, I’d say that Vic often shows even less emotion than Walt, and for her to latch on to what sex or blood type the baby would have been was unusually tender, and it’s amazing to see Katee Sackhoff in this role while she’s simultaneously recurring as a costumed British villain on “The Flash.” Maybe she’ll finally give stupid nice guy Travis the chance he deserves after some decent advice on the matter from Walt. Ferg helping out Meg’s mom was a sweet subplot, and the most entertaining part was Bob Clendenin’s Jamie DeBell trying to get Uber started in Absaroka County when it definitely didn’t exist there. I enjoyed Nighthorse and Henry driving to Cheyenne and disagreeing about their favorite candies, and it’s good to see them united in the face of an enemy ready to intimidate and take out both of them for trying to do the right thing.

What I’m Watching: The Punisher

The Punisher: Season 1, Episode 4 “Resupply” (B)

I didn’t find this episode to be as engaging only because I think that Frank’s central storyline is the one that’s most intriguing, and deviating largely from that to focus both on the police investigation and contractor operations didn’t appeal to me as much. Watching Frank and David work together is interesting since they still don’t see eye-to-eye, and what that meant in this episode is that, after a pretty intense car chase, Frank had no intention of harming Dinah, and David crashing into her got him very angry since he was hoping to tiptoe on the line of legality and ensure that innocent people didn’t die. Anyone who’s guilty, on the other hand, is fair game, and therefore Frank was willing to admit that he took out a few henchmen when David seemed disappointed in him. Let’s hope that Frank’s life-saving gesture can convince Dinah that he’s not a bad person and that she should be looking into the boss that he confessed to killing. I don’t know why we’re spending time with Lewis, who so far hasn’t proved to be a very magnetic character, but I’m sure that Anvil will end up playing much more into this, especially if they’re eventually tasked with taking a former operative who went rogue. Frank isn’t exactly great at staying under the radar, though I’d argue that he’s never tried to do that aside from the obviously intelligent steps like not vomiting and leaving DNA behind at a crime scene for the police or anyone worse to find.

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 7 “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister” (B)

I realized a few minutes into this episode that I had read about this seventh episode and how everyone seemed to hate it, which seemed strange to me because I can’t imagine most binge-watchers can identify one episode from another. I do understand that this featured a mostly throwaway plotline that didn’t feel anything like this show usually does, and in all likelihood, we’ll never see any of these characters again except for the one who’s a star of the show. What I found valuable about this episode was that Eleven found her sister and they were able to bond over their shared experiences, and that Eight had some pretty cool powers. Eleven’s abilities have always been one of my favorite elements of this show, and watching her make someone see spiders, turn the group invisible, and create an “Inception”-style barrier to hide their getaway was definitely cool. Whether or not it needed to take up an entire episode, it was still valuable to see Eight try to push Eleven towards violence, something that she resisted since she didn’t think it was necessary unless they were really stopping bad men. Most importantly, she saw Hopper and Mike and realized that they needed her help, prompting her to get on a bus and tell the old lady she was sitting next to that she was going home to see her friends. Bring on chapter eight – I can’t wait until she and Max finally meet, and it will be cool if she and Will get to team up too!

What I’m Watching: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 9 (B+)

We’re getting to the point where the actual interviews encompass a small portion of the hour and it’s the analysis and, in this case, fallout that occupy much more time. Richard Speck was probably the most memorable interviewee yet, mainly due to the showy entrance that Holden and Bill had tried to avoid and the vicious language that he used. It was indeed interesting that Speck was so insistent that he wasn’t crazy like the other people they were talking to, though he didn’t do much to prove that. The most disconcerting part of the entire interview was Holden deciding to use crude language of his own to bait Speck, which worked but also ended up getting the team in hot water after that. The ousted principal’s wife tracking Holden down at home and commenting repeatedly on how young he and Debbie were to be ruining someone’s life was yet another signal that Holden, in his calm, matter-of-fact way of speaking, is going totally rogue. Having Gregg redact Holden’s controversial part of the conversation was a deliberate act, and the fact that no one in the Office of Professional Responsibility actually cared about Speck’s complaints doesn’t negate what happened. Wendy and Shepard listening to the tape indicated that they don’t trust Holden, and their joint decision to destroy the tape didn’t mean much when Gregg decided to mail it in anyway. I’m curious to see what happens in the finale and how that plants the seed for the second season that was recently announced.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/5, picking “The Big Bang Theory” and “Will and Grace” over “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “GLOW”
Who’s missing? Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Will and Grace, Master of None, Transparent, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, SMILF

I want to open with a realization that I missed when this category was announced: four-time winner and eight-time nominee “Modern Family” is not here for the first time ever. That’s a big deal, and it’s been a long time coming. “The Big Bang Theory” also isn’t here after six consecutive bids, and I’m a bit surprised that “Will and Grace,” a past five-time nominee, missed out in favor of Curb Your Enthusiasm and its six-member cast, who I don’t think deserve to be here. I’m fine with GLOW since I found the pilot entertaining enough, and >Black-ish also has a great cast. I’m very happy about three-time defending champ Orange is the New Black continuing to show up since I think it’s one of the best ensembles on TV and Globe and Emmy voters have all but abandoned it. Veep rounding out the list is also no surprise, and it’s possible that it could finally win this year after four losses.

Who will win? I’d say Orange is the New Black continues its reign for a superb showcase this season.

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/5!
Who’s missing? Ozark, House of Cards, Homeland, The Deuce

Is there anyone who didn’t get this right? This list matches the Globes exactly, inserting 2017’s top new Emmy-winning drama and another nominee that inexplicably wasn’t here last year. Only last year’s winner Stranger Things managed two individual bids, while the other four each got one: The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, and This Is Us. I thought “Ozark” might have gotten it after seeing it reap twin acting bids, but apparently not, which I’m completely fine with it since I didn’t like the pilot.

Who will win? I feel like The Handmaid’s Tale could take it unless “Stranger Things” repeats.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Aduba and Louis-Dreyfus
Who’s missing? Ellie Kemper, Pamela Adlon, Issa Rae, Rachel Brosnahan, Frankie Shaw

Well, this wasn’t my best category. Interestingly, we have just one nominee who’s also contending for a Golden Globe, and that’s Alison Brie (GLOW), whose show I didn’t watch past the pilot but did enjoy in its initial hour. She’s also the only new nominee here, unfortunately bumping Kemper. Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie) are clearly popular with SAG voters, as is Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), who is hardly the best part of her terrific ensemble these days. And then we have Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), rebounding from a Globe snub and looking to win her third award for this show and fifth SAG trophy overall.

Who will win? I don’t see why it wouldn’t be Louis-Dreyfus again.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/6, picking McCormack over David and Maron
Who’s missing? Jeffrey Tambor, Tituss Burgess, Ty Burrell, Eric McCormack, Kevin Bacon,

I didn’t even notice that Burrell missed out on a nod (as did his show) after seven nominations, out along with Burgess and Tambor, making way for a list of mostly returning nominees. Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) is the only member of his cast to return after his show’s long hiatus, and this six-time nominee and three-time winner shouldn’t be underestimated. Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is also back after bids in 2005 and 2009, along with his show’s ensemble, which is a bit strange. Two-time winner and reigning champ William H. Macy (Shameless) is back, and how nice it would have been for his show to score an ensemble bid. Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) returns after joining the list last year, and I’m so thrilled for Aziz Ansari (Master of None). And this year’s left-field inclusion is Marc Maron (GLOW), who was interesting in the pilot of that show and who I don’t think anyone expected to show up here. This is a decent list to be sure even if it’s not who I would have picked.

Who will win? I’d go with Hayes over Macy or Ansari.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/5, picking Ryder over Linney
Who’s missing? Winona Ryder, Caitriona Balfe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Katharine Langford

I just don’t understand what voters see in Laura Linney (Ozark), an actress they never nominated for her great work on “The Big C” and whose current show I stopped watching after the pilot. Everyone else here makes sense, with Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) joining three nominees from last year: Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Claire Foy (The Crown), and, expectedly here without her TV husband, Robin Wright (House of Cards).

Who will win? I think Moss takes this unless Foy repeats.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 3/5, picking Malek and Schreiber over Bateman and Harbour
Who’s missing? Rami Malek, Kevin Spacey, Liev Schreiber, Freddie Highmore

I guess I should have paid more attention to the Golden Globe nominees and seen that Jason Bateman (Ozark), whose show I stopped watching after what I found to be a poor pilot, and David Harbour (Stranger Things) should be taken more seriously. I can’t understand why anyone watching “Mr. Robot” wouldn’t nominate Rami Malek again since he’s so excellent, and I would have thought that SAG would have thought better than to dump him after two seasons, especially when they didn’t nominate Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) last year after including him the year before. He’s terrific too, but I would have taken Malek over him. I’m not going to argue with Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) since I know he’s beloved, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is also a great choice as always, still doing superb work on his seven years in.

Who will win? With any past competition out of the way, this seems like a clear path to victory for Brown.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

SAG Predictions

Yesterday, we saw Golden Globe nominations that, on the TV side, weren’t actually as crazy as usual, and I predicted what many cited as the biggest surprise, which was the inclusion of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” in two top categories. “SMILF” also broke through, Kevin Bacon scored a nomination for “I Love Dick,” and “Veep” was shut out. It’s important to remember that all four of those things are extremely unlikely with SAG voters, who proved me wrong last year by honoring four new drama series, which is totally unlike them. The only holdovers from the Globes that I think we can expect to see tomorrow are snubs for “Transparent” and “House of Cards,” though I think that Robin Wright will be nominated again. “The Handmaid’s Tale” will probably break into the race even though it’s new, and otherwise I’m sticking to what’s historically been here given the number of years it usually takes for SAG to embrace new shows. I’ll be paying much more attention to the film side of things. Reactions here and over at Movies With Abe tomorrow - comment below today!

Best Male Actor in a Drama Series
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)

Best Female Actor in a Drama Series
Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)
Claire Foy (The Crown)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Winona Ryder (Stranger Things)
Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
Sean Hayes (Will and Grace)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Eric McCormack (Will and Grace)

Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black)
Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Debra Messing (Will and Grace)
Megan Mullally (Will and Grace)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Best Male Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Robert De Niro (The Wizard of Lies)
Ewan McGregor (Fargo)
Alfred Molina (Feud: Bette and Joan)
Geoffrey Rush (Genius)
Alexander Skarsgard (Big Little Lies)

Best Female Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Laura Dern (Big Little Lies)
Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies)
Jessica Lange (Feud: Bette and Joan)
Susan Sarandon (Feud: Bette and Joan)
Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies)

Best Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Crown
Game of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
Stranger Things
This Is Us

Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Orange is the New Black
Will and Grace

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 6 “Waffle Permission Kidless Boyfriend” (B)

My parents have a great story about an unopened wedding present that I was reminded of when I watched the first segment of this episode. My mom wrote a thank you note for a popcorn maker in which she went into detail about how they had enjoyed making popcorn and watching movies only to open the box ten years later and discover that it was housing a very nice bowl. Returning all the wedding gifts from the registry for cash did seem like a smart idea, but putting a wad of cash in a gift ordered off a registry is decidedly stupid. I was surprised that Joan wasn’t more offended that they had returned a gift they had chosen, but John buying two of them and putting the cash in the wrong box definitely took the cake. Heather wanting to be Tyler’s friend was a fun diversion, especially when they both got their hair straightened, and it only took a very sexually explicit movie about an uncomfortable mother-son dynamic to make them realize that they needed to spend less time together. Naturally, Greg and Jen’s escape from parenthood didn’t go as planned, and accidentally abducting a child certainly wasn’t the outcome Jen had expected from the getaway. For a middle child, Samantha was the subject of an unusual amount of attention in this episode, and she managed to keep Tim on the hook just long enough to leave her alone so that she could do what he was so worried about with her boyfriend.

What I’m Watching: Psych (Movie Special)

Psych: The Movie (B)

I had no idea this was airing and luckily happened to catch a listing that reminded me, since I haven’t thought much about this series, which ended three and a half years ago, since its series finale aired. I always liked this show but never thought it was absolutely superb, and therefore I’d probably resurrect about twenty-five shows ahead of this one if you had asked. The result here is an entertaining but decidedly imperfect one, not sure exactly what it wants to be and willing to indulge Shawn’s fake psychic powers only once over the course of the episode. I can’t help but feel that a bit of the magic is gone, and this film’s cliffhanger ending suggests that there might me much more to come. I’d be happy to watch it, but I just wish it was a bit funnier and cleverer. It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten a lot of the plot points that led us to where we are now, and it was a shame to just see Lassiter acting relatively serious on a phone screen rather than in person. I’m glad that Kurt Fuller’s Woody has somehow become part of this show’s primary cast, and he was among the most entertaining parts of this film. It was fantastic to see guest star Zachary Levi of “Chuck” fame as a blond, British bad guy, and he had a lot of fun milking the character for all it was worth. It took me a few minutes, but I recognized Mena Suvari from “American Beauty” as the ultimate villain who I hadn’t remembered also appeared in one of the show’s more formative finales from years ago (Jimmi Simpson apparently did too, and he was back in a dream sequence as Mary). Emma Tremblay, older sister of actor Jacob and currently starring on “Supergirl” as Reign’s daughter, was also on hand to play the Chief’s daughter, who got herself into a precarious situation but was fortunately rescued by the crew that used such smart techniques as The Table to defeat their very showy enemies. Gus meeting the female version of himself was interesting since she came on very strong, but at least he’s getting a bit of happiness without Shawn driving him too crazy. I would have liked to see more of Psychphrancisco, but I guess that might come with John Cena’s Ewan in the inevitable sequel.

What I’m Watching: There’s Johnny

There’s Johnny: Season 1, Episode 4 “Take Me To Church” (B+)

It’s good to see this show trying to navigate drama in addition to its comedy, continuing to weave a compelling narrative that’s getting more and more interesting as it goes on. This episode even featured Andy interacting directly with Johnny but in a perfectly impersonal way. He was supposed to star in the Charlton Heston speech holding the spear – a marvelous moment of fame that he was excited to tell his parents about – but he ended up getting on air when he tripped while handing a pile of paper to Johnny, after which he acknowledged and thanked him by name. I didn’t imagine Andy as the churchgoing type, but I guess it makes sense given his humble suburban Nebraska upbringing. Standing up to ask everyone at church to keep his brother in the military in mind seemed innocent enough, and it’s hard to believe that such a passive comment could be so incendiary given the degenerate nature of political viciousness these days. At least he didn’t submit that dollar bill, but Freddie did still have to pay a lot of money for the uproar that was caused. Andy was so excited to tell his mom about what ended up happening with the show that the audience couldn’t have been prepared for the tragic development that was revealed on the other side of the phone, which will surely put Andy in an understandable rut for a while. Joy not wanting to get something off the registry and being judged by her therapist, played by David Paymer, seemed entertaining enough, but her realization that she was a terrible person for sleeping with the groom the day after his wedding has clearly had severe effects on her sense of self-worth.

Pilot Review: Happy

Happy (Syfy)
Premiered December 6 at 10pm

I don’t even know what to say about this show. About ten minutes in, I had to break one of my own rules and go online to look up a summary since I couldn’t begin to understand what it was supposed to be about. The synopsis I read on didn’t provide all that much clarity, and I think it’s fair to say that things only got weirder and more off-putting as this hour went on. The shows that I’ve seen recently about imaginary friends or talking animals that only the protagonist or audience can see have been pretty terrible – “Imaginary Mary” and “Downward Dog” come to mind – and while this one isn’t at all like either of those, it’s just as miserable to watch. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of “Law and Order: SVU” but I remember being impressed with Christopher Meloni’s short-lived stint on “True Blood” and noticing that he was more than capable of being maniacal. Here, that’s on full display to an excessive point, and it’s a lot to take. Patton Oswalt is an undeniably perfect fit to voice a role that should never have existed, the blue unicorn who talks to him, and I do wish these two much better things. I’m always happy to see Patrick Fischler in a role that’s made for him, and this one felt like that, though I can’t tell whether he’s going to continue to appear or if he, like everyone else, died in this episode only to be possibly reborn again later. I’m very eager to forget this whole hour and hope that Syfy will start focusing on more great shows like “Alphas” and “Battlestar Galactica” that it used to make.

How will it work as a series? I couldn’t begin to tell you. All of the events are portrayed in a confusing manner, so it’s not even apparent if everything is happening at the same time, or if Nick actually has a daughter who’s been kidnapped, though we’re watching it in front of our eyes. I have a headache and don’t really want to understand.
How long will it last? Ratings seem to be fine, as do the reviews, which is beyond me. I think that Meloni is a big draw, and that Syfy is eager to pursue this kind of violent programming featuring the crude language that’s now allowed on TV. I’d bet that this will be popular and end up being renewed by Syfy soon.

Pilot grade: F

Pilot Review: Knightfall

Knightfall (History)
Premiered December 6 at 10pm

I don’t watch much on History, though I do consider myself a fan of historical dramas. I opted to give this one a chance since I’m really trying to watch everything, but I could tell from the very beginning that this wasn’t a show I was going to like. The Crusades isn’t a particularly appealing time for any sort of optimistic programming, and this one felt far too forced and fabricated to be compelling. I feel like I’ve seen at least a dozen other series where it hasn’t been clear who the main characters are but so many people die in the first episode that it doesn’t seem possible to track it anyway. There was such excessive violence present in this hour that I couldn’t imagine it would be worthwhile to get attached to anyone, and it has been a while since I’ve seen someone stabbed through the face – always a pleasant sight. There was a lot of talk about the grail, but I was much more entertained by each minute of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The suggestion to take money from the Jews rather than have it lent was initially dismissed by a king who wanted to be loved by the people, but things quickly became about framing the Jews for the murder of Christians and then expelling them first for their own safety and then to be killed on the way out. The effects and production design here are poor, but I’m not sure they’re any worse than the writing, which shows that telling a story about an interesting period of time might not be any more worthwhile than merely reading a history book.

How will it work as a series? I still couldn’t pick any of the main characters on this show out of a lineup, and I’d say that’s a flaw of this show to fail to create storylines and personality dynamics that are recognizable or memorable. More violence, persecution of the Jews, and general debauchery is sure to follow in the coming nine episodes.
How long will it last? Reviews aren’t great for this show (though some more positive than mine), but it appears that the ratings are considerably more tremendous. I guess this is what History viewers want to be watching, as it scored the third-highest cable debut of the year. I’d expect that, if this is something History wants to continue producing, it will be back for at least another season given the strong viewership numbers.

Pilot grade: F

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 9 “eps3.8_stage3.torrent” (B+)

I didn’t realize that there’s just one episode left in this season, and I’m hopeful that it’s still popular enough to come back for a fourth season since this year has proven extremely worthwhile. Opening with the Allsafe meeting with Philip, Colby, Tyrell, and Gideon felt like a nostalgic trip to a time long, long ago before things really got crazy. Now, we’ve come to the point where Tyrell has been located and now might even be headed back to his old job, but he has no family and not much to live for anymore. Mr. Robot went to Tyrell to chastise him for what he did and then left a note for Elliot because he’s realizing that they might be better as occasional allies. It’s a troubling scenario when Elliot is the less crazy one in the room, since Angela still believes that everyone is going to be okay somehow and he understands that there’s no way that’s going to be possible. Suggesting Stage 3 to Irving means that he has a plan, and unfortunately, Whiterose and his top adviser seem to know that he’s coming for him. There were many red flags in Dom’s behavior that suggested she was going to get herself into trouble, namely letting Darlene be her wingwoman and then opening the safe in front of her when they were back at her apartment. Darlene’s performance was convincing, and she was just as believable when she confessed to everything after she was caught red-handed. She should have listened to her brother, since Dom is now her only hope of survival after Agent Santiago went ahead and called Irving right after to explain exactly what she was planning to do.

Round Two: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1, Episode 2 “Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme” (B)

Though I watched the pilot episode back when it premiered in March, I watched it again a week or two ago since I never reviewed it. As a result, it’s fresher in my mind than it might otherwise be, and it’s easier to recognize differences in how this episode and presumably the ones after differ from the original installment that was made so long ago. What I noticed most is how fast everyone talks: there’s about five times as much dialogue in here as there was in the first hour. I never actually watched “Gilmore Girls” back when it was on but I need that it was famous for that, and so it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to here. I am pleased to see that the supporting characters are being featured, with Kevin Pollak joining the cast as Moishe, Joel’s father, and immediately making an impression. I like that he clashed so much with Tony Shalhoub’s Abe, who, in addition to having a great name, had quite the mathematical meltdown when he described his daughter’s situation as a graph that he made his students take notes on. Midge seems intent on maintaining normalcy while putting off her comedy training, though she did send the episode off on a fantastic note by bursting onto the stage with another rant routine, complete with officers coming in ready to escort her off stage and into a third episode that I’m looking forward to watching and seeing where it takes our protagonist next.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Golden Globe Nominees: Best TV Series - Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 4/5, picking “Veep” over “SMILF”
Who’s missing? Veep, Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Insecure, GLOW, The Good Place, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Now this is very much like Globe voters: jettisoning the three previous eligible winners, all eligible, and holding on only to last year’s new addition Black-ish. To be fair, they also brought back six-time nominee Will and Grace after a fourteen-year break. I’m happy that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is here, and equally thrilled about SMILF, a surprise nominee that I’ve been enjoying very much. I really liked a lot of Master of None season two, so that being here is great too. This is definitely an original list, even if it doesn’t look exactly like mine.

Who will win? Given Globe voters’ typical enthusiasm for new things, I’d go with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best TV Series - Drama

My predictions: 5/5
Who’s missing? The Deuce, Mindhunter, Ozark

This is my only 5/5 category, but I think everyone else in the world got in right too. As I wrote in my predictions, this is the first time since 2009 that only one nominee was switched out from the year before, and that was the ineligible “Westworld” to make room for Emmy winner The Handmaid’s Tale. I saw Game of Thrones, which I actually thought was better than ever this season, am almost finished with a strong season two of Stranger Things, have thought This Is Us is about the same as it was in season one, and look forward to starting the second season of The Crown as early as tonight. No surprises here - these are the hottest shows on TV.

Who will win? I think it will be The Handmaid’s Tale.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a TV Series

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Dern and Dowd
Who’s missing? Alexis Bledel, Megan Mullally, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lena Headey, Mandy Moore

I didn’t watch Michelle Pfeiffer (The Wizard of Lies) in her TV movie, but I suppose this is a consolation prize for anyone who wanted her recognized on the film side of things for “Mother!” (which I haven’t seen either). I’m disappointed that Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn’t here as one of the only saving graces of this season of “Fargo,” but I am perfectly fine with Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) joining costar Laura Dern (Big Little Lies). Emmy winner Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) is a great choice, and I won’t argue with returning nominee Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) since she has been doing a great job with her material this season.

Who will win? It’s a tough call. I think Dern still triumphs.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a TV Series

My predictions: 3/5, picking Cannavale and Hayes
Who’s missing? Sean Hayes, Joseph Fiennes, Bobby Cannavale

Should I get like 5% credit for picking another actor from the same show in place of Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), who continues to get nominated here despite zero Emmy nominations and his show, which is excellent, not showing up in any other category? I would have chosen Bobby Cannavale for this season, but Slater is great and so is the show. With John Lithgow out of contention, he’s replaced by another regular TV series star, Emmy nominee David Harbour (Stranger Things), who I like but who isn’t quite as good as some of the kids on that show (maybe Lucas for season two over Dustin?). Representing limited series we have Emmy winner Alexander Skarsgard (Big Little Lies) and nominees Alfred Molina (Feud: Bette and Joan) and David Thewlis (Fargo), hardly my favorite part of a weak third season. I don’t have much to say about this category - it’s not the best this year.

Who will win? I’d go with Skarsgard to repeat after his Emmy win.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking Louis-Dreyfus and Messing over Adlon and Shaw
Who’s missing? Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tracee Ellis Ross, Debra Messing, Rachel Bloom, Gina Rodriguez

Now this is the kind of thing that Globe voters like to do, dropping the three previous eligible winners and knocking off the six-time Emmy champ Louis-Dreyfus, whose snub I wish I wasn’t brave enough to predict. In fact, there’s just one returning nominee, the wonderful Issa Rae (Insecure), and she’s joined by another sophomore series actress, Pamela Adlon (Better Things). I’m thrilled about Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) making the cut as I thought even though I’m only two episodes into her show, and I’m thrilled to see the talented Frankie Shaw (SMILF) show up here, which I didn’t expect. And I didn’t stick with her show, but I do like Alison Brie (GLOW) and I’m happy to see her among this list of extremely funny and awesome women.

Who will win? I think it will be Brosnahan, but maybe Shaw or Brie?

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical

My predictions: 3/5, picking Azaria and Gilchrist over Bacon and Macy
Who’s missing? Gael Garcia Bernal, Nick Nolte, Jeffrey Tambor, Larry David, Hank Azaria, Keir Gilchrist

We have just one nominee to preserve in this category from last year, and that’s Anthony Anderson (Black-ish). Strangely, William H. Macy (Shameless), a great actor who for some reason is the only one of his superb ensemble ever to get awards attention, is back after a lone nomination three years ago, which isn’t typical of the Globes. Aziz Ansari (Master of None) makes sense after his nomination for season one, and Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) is back after five consecutive bids through 2003 and as the only acting nominee for his show. I can’t begin to comprehend why Kevin Bacon (I Love Dick) is here since I found that show insufferable, but aside from that, this is a good list of funny men.

Who will win? With a list like this, who knows? I’d say Ansari over McCormack, but it could be any of them.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama

My predictions: 3/5, picking Maslany and Moore over Balfe and Langford
Who’s missing? Tatiana Maslany, Mandy Moore, Keri Russell, Winona Ryder

It’s strange to see Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) here for the third time in a row since the Globes don’t tend to work that way, but I guess I’m just not as excited since I don’t watch the show. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Deuce) made it in despite her show and popular costar James Franco not making the cut, and she was joined by a surprising inclusion: Katharine Langford (13 Reasons Why), whose show I stopped watching after the pilot. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) is here, and rounding out the list we have last year’s winner, Claire Foy (The Crown). I can’t say much since I haven’t seen the latter’s new season and don’t watch three of the shows recognized here.

Who will win? I think Moss will take it.

Golden Globe Nominees: Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Brown and Highmore
Who’s missing? James Franco, Jonathan Groff, Rami Malek

It seems I forgot to change my official predictions on GoldDerby, where I got credit for returning nominee Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and new addition Jason Bateman (Ozark), whose show didn’t score a top bid. In fact, the only nominee here whose film is also recognized for best drama series is Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), who wasn’t nominated last year. Surprisingly, Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) is still going with his fifth nomination, and his show has never been nominated on its own. Rounding out the list is likeable new addition Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor). I didn’t watch past the pilot of his or Bateman’s shows, and this definitely doesn’t look much like my list would.

Who will win? Highmore could get some votes, but I think Brown takes it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Final Golden Globe Predictions

I’m focused much more on the movies right now than I am TV, at least awards-wise, since I’m spending most of my weekend catching up on endless hours of shows that may or may not be nominated. The important thing to remember about the Golden Globes is that they love new shows, and I just don’t think that any of this year’s fare is as hot as a lot of last year’s, which is still popular. For instance, three of last year’s biggest new series are just as big this year – “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” and “This Is Us.” There’s no reason to think that “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the big Emmy winner, won’t join that list, replacing “Westworld,” and “Game of Thrones” will probably be nominated again even though it’s not as Globe-beloved as it is by Emmy voters. Will “The Deuce,” “Mindhunter,” or “Ozark” crack the list? I’m not so sure. On the comedy side, I still think we’ll see a lot of upheaval, but I’m not sure what to make of the resurgence of shows that used to be on like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Will and Grace.” I’m subbing Jonathan Groff in for Kit Harington but leaving Rami Malek, a risky decision, I realize, and similarly swapping Winona Ryder out for Maggie Gyllenhaal and keeping Tatiana Maslany. For some reason, I think that Keir Gilchrist will make the cut, and I’ve replaced Larry David with him. Only the Globes would take out last year’s winner Tracee Ellis Ross to make room for Alison Brie, but that’s what I’m predicting now. I’m adding in Bobby Cannavale in the supporting race in place of Peter Dinklage, and keeping the supporting actress race as is, even though Millie Bobby Brown, Chrissy Metz, Nicole Kidman, or a whole number of other actresses could show up. I’m also really rooting for Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who was far and away the best thing about season three of “Fargo.” As usual, I’m expecting a lot of surprises. As always, let’s hope for good ones. My category-by-category reactions will be up at some point tomorrow, so stay tuned!

No guts, no glory:
Dan Stevens for Best Actor for “Legion”
Frankie Shaw for Best Actress for “SMILF”
Margo Martindale for Best Supporting Actress for “Sneaky Pete”

Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
James Franco (The Deuce)
Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter)
Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)

Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama
Claire Foy (The Crown)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Deuce)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Mandy Moore (This Is Us)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Best Actor in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
Hank Azaria (Brockmire)
Keir Gilchrist (Atypical)
Eric McCormack (Will and Grace)

Best Actress in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical
Alison Brie (GLOW)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Debra Messing (Will and Grace)
Issa Rae (Insecure)

Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Robert De Niro (The Wizard of Lies)
Jude Law (The Young Pope)
Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks)
Ewan McGregor (Fargo)
Geoffrey Rush (Genius)

Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies)
Jessica Lange (Feud: Bette and Joan)
Elisabeth Moss (Top of the Lake: China Girl)
Susan Sarandon (Feud: Bette and Joan)
Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a TV Series
Bobby Cannavale (Mr. Robot)
Sean Hayes (Will and Grace)
Alfred Molina (Feud: Bette and Joan)
Alexander Skarsgard (Big Little Lies)
David Thewlis (Fargo)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a TV Series
Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale) 
Laura Dern (Big Little Lies)
Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Megan Mullally (Will and Grace)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Fargo)

Best Limited Series/TV Movie
Big Little Lies
Feud: Bette and Joan
Top of the Lake: China Girl
Twin Peaks

Best Drama Series
The Crown
Game of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
Stranger Things
This Is Us

Best Comedy Series
Master of None
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Will and Grace

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 9, Episode 7 “A Gay Olde Christmas” (C-)

I’m not sure why a Christmas episode of this show airing on an early December night that it doesn’t usually air on was at all necessary, and it demonstrates that this show isn’t entirely ready for a modern-day comeback. This felt like an infantile exercise, having each of the actors portray other characters in a story about how the immigrant experience is valuable. This show is capable of much subtler, or at least cleverer ways of conveying its desired political and social commentary than this. Grace having to pee so badly that they needed to pay for the four of them to take a tour is exaggerated enough as it is, and I don’t think there was anything accomplished from this entire half-hour. A show like this doesn’t need to have a Christmas episode, and there certainly isn’t much place for this kind of storytelling in current comedies. We’re past the age of clip shows that serve as exciting reminders of what’s come before since DVR and on-demand streaming, and this is only slightly better than that. Casting Karen as the one who had to experience poverty was moderately interesting, but otherwise there’s nothing to be gleaned from this tale. I’m happy to go on pretending that this show isn’t airing any episodes between its last November installment and its January return, hoping that this show being brought back is still a positive experience that indulges in these kind of poor experiments very rarely. I’m optimistic given how the other episodes have been so far.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 9 “Beebo the God of War” (B+)

Score another point for holiday episodes for the CW, with this one starting with Stein in an ugly Hanukkah sweater in 1992 trying to purchase a popular toy for his daughter and then ending up in the Viking age with Beebo perceived as a god. I love that the name for Christmas changing was a sign of how they were doing in terms of fixing the anachronism. Only on this show could this kind of thing work, and I’m pleased to say that it really did. I like when multiple scenarios are pursued, and it was very helpful to see how the legends worked together to make sure that their plan could actually work. Mick and Leo taking out his daughter was an unexpected development, and that was enough to get Dahrk to abandon his plan of New Valhalla domination, but Sara came face to face with a far more formidable threat that I still don’t quite understand. I don’t know much about Constantine, but I guess that he’s going to be involved in whatever comes when this show returns. I loved having Leo around playing therapist to everyone on the ship and trying to get Mick to stop drinking, and though it appears Wentworth Miller will indeed be leaving this show’s expanded universe for good, I’d love to see him return again in the future. I wasn’t expecting Jax to leave, though him still being alive suggests he could be back, though Marty failing to read the “Back to the Future” letter Jax gave him means that he’s gone for good. I like that Agent Sharpe is becoming a more cooperative recurring player, and I’m eager to see her relationship with Sara develop more in the future. Here’s to more of this great show in 2018 when it returns in February for nine straight episodes!