Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 3, Episode 2 “Guardians” (B)

This was a solid improvement over the opening hour, and a sign that we’re probably headed somewhere positive for the remainder of the season. The most significant thing is that this new technology that allows splintering without any sort of tether or an advertisement placed in the classifieds of a newspaper changes the game entirely, and now once again has led to time being changed around them since the both creepy and destructive Magdalena has again gone back in time to sacrifice herself so that their mission, to keep the baby witness safe, can be preserved. Cassandra was rightly horrified that, when she asked to see her son, she was brought just to a mask representative of him as an adult, with his younger newborn form being constantly transported throughout time to assure that he can grow up to be the man/demon/whatever he is that he will eventually become. I couldn’t have been more excited to see Jennifer, who was trapped in 1917 in France and doing what any good stranded time-traveler should, which is to recreate famous elements of pop culture long before they were actually invented, like playing Charlie Chaplin and E.T. That she put together a version of her own story with “Je splinter” was great, and I like that, after initially arriving in his traditional brutish fashion, he made up for it once they restarted the time loop by applauding Jennifer’s performance and telling her that they came to rescue her. Everyone in the future seemed pretty horrified to see her return, and I look forward to what Jones and crew can engineer now with enhanced knowledge.

What I’m Watching: Master of None

Master of None: Season 2, Episode 3 “Religion” (B+)

I liked this episode a lot more than the other installment that can be easily compared to this one, “Parents” from season one. I also found this extremely reminiscent of a forthcoming fantastic film, “The Big Sick,” which stars another famous Muslim-born comic featured on a regular TV show, Kumail Nanjiani of “Silicon Valley,” in his struggles with his family’s religious outlook differing from his own. I can’t remember Dev ever mentioning anything about being a Muslim, though I’m sure it came up in that season one episode, and here he did his very least to convince his more religious relatives that he was in fact a devout Muslim. Encouraging his cousin to try pork while they were out was one thing, but opting to order pork when they were out to dinner together with his aunt and uncle was a much more pointed move that probably wasn’t necessarily. Dev was obviously bothered by the notion that he had to put on a front that wasn’t representative of who he really is, but he crossed a line into disrespectful territory by putting that on display in a way that was evidently going to make them uncomfortable and upset. His father was most concerned with the fact that they weren’t going for seafood, which was his original choice, and less bothered by Dev doing something disrespectful than with his having messed up the calm and made his wife angry. It’s cool that this episode tackled this topic, and I like that one of Aziz Ansari’s inspirations was a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” installment where Larry pretended to be a religious Jew to get his friend a kidney.

What I’m Watching: Sense8

Sense8: Season 2, Episode 5 “Fear Never Fixed Anything” (B+)

It’s affirming and exciting to see the sensates putting together a plan to take down BPO and to wage war against Whispers in a way that will awaken the world to their existence. There were a few setups that didn’t really lead anywhere direct in this episode, like Capheus being pushed against his will to run for office and Kala failing her father’s test of whether she was listening when she acknowledged each absurd thing he said. Lito got a chance to be embraced fully by a community that wanted to welcome him in his new public identity, something he’s still not comfortable with, and Bug was able to gush over the beloved actor with him listening in right next to him via Nomi. Bug’s suggestion of e-death for Nomi seemed to be a good one, and now she might be able to move more freely without fear of being constantly tailed and followed. Sun’s brother has declared war on the air, feigning sympathy for his criminal sister and pleading with her to turn herself in, and her anger is sure to be helpful in getting some aggression directed towards enemies of the other members of the cluster. The most significant moment of the episode, as has been the case with each hour this season so far, came at the very end, as Riley braved a public setting to spread a message of hope and even found another sensate appearing briefly on stage with her. She and Will just barely outran Whispers, but it’s clear that they accomplished the start of what they wanted to, which is a huge success.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 3, Episode 10 “The Labels” (B+)

As regular readers of this site know, one of my favorite things on TV shows is when characters that rarely interact do so. Sol’s eagerness to help Grace and follow her system of applying the labels in an even and neat fashion was entertaining, and I enjoyed Robert and Frankie bonding over being bossed around by her even more. They also had a nice moment together where Frankie confided in Robert about everything she was struggling with related to Jacob’s impending move and his big question, prompting them to exchange a look that forced her to spill the beans to Grace, who was not happy at all with the idea of her moving away and abandoning their business venture. Frankie doesn’t have the same business sense as her partner, and her notion of handing vibrators out on the front lines is far too idealistic to be taken seriously. It turns out that it was Grace and not Frankie who opted to give Allison one of the vibrators, causing Bud some sincere concern and then apparently resulting in some real pleasure for both Allison and Bud. It was very sweet to see Coyote fall for someone, and to hear Nadia offer up a positive spin on her reciprocated feelings with an acknowledgment that they really needed to wait, rectifying the unfortunate situation that came up as a result of Mallory’s efforts to be a matchmaker for the man that she should really be with who parks his house in her yard.

What I’m Watching: Iron Fist

Iron Fist: Season 1, Episode 11 “Lead Horse Back to Stable” (C)

Well, it didn’t take long at all for Colleen to realize that the Hand is bad news. I laughed at the notion that the Hand provides internship placements, one of Bakuto’s championed assets of the group he’s trying to defend as honorable. One of her students called Bakuto on her, another few showed up to bring her in, and then two of them straight up tried to kill her on Bakuto’s orders with the creepy pronouncement that she would serve the Hand in her final moments. We knew that she was good, but it still throws this whole Hand thing into question, and Claire’s suggestion that she should have chosen another body part to name her non-evil part of the organization just about sums up the complexity of the issue. Claire trying to get Davos to appreciate the best pizza in New York was a minor distracting subplot, and there was also far too much emphasis on Davos’ resentment of Danny for taking the Iron Fist that wasn’t supposed to be his and leaving. Davos isn’t the ally that Danny needs in this, and the fact that he made up with Claire, who tried to attack him because she was racked with guilt and had just almost been killed just puts him back where he started. Joy’s expectation that they were going to have Bakuto arrested is unrealistic, but I think all this enthusiastic drive to cut the head off so that the snake will die is going to get to her and cause her to become a liability to the mission.

What I’m Watching: Fargo

Fargo: Season 3, Episode 6 “The Lord of No Mercy” (B+)

Okay, so we’re getting back to the style of this show that helps to make it what it is, with the plot going forward clearly the intersection of all the threads, coming together at the worst possible time. VM’s sprawling stories about the moon landing happening on a soundstage and his assertion to Gloria and Winnie that there were twenty-four Hitlers in the phone book at the start of World War II seemed excessive and irrelevant, but they just serve to reinforce his ability to spin any narrative and make it seem too elaborate to be invented. Googling Gloria and then Eden Valley after crashing Emmit’s interview with the cops showed his active interest in things, and then he had his latest yarn to spin about what happened to Ray when he arrived to do damage control. Emmit calling VM for his help was very reminiscent of Lester calling Lorne for that very same thing back in season one, getting in way over his head. Emmit giving Ray the stamp was a decent peace offering, but of course it didn’t work out as he had hoped and now the hapless parole officer who forgot the getaway money is dead. Nikki, however, is in much better shape, and we’re now headed for what’s sure to be a bloody showdown involving VM, Nikki, and Gloria all converging on the same location, each pretty much aware of what’s going on even if others in their lives don’t agree with their assessment of the situation.

Monday, May 29, 2017

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1, Episode 5 “Faithful” (A-)

This show has been very good since the start, and there was something about this episode that just demonstrated an even further leap into greatness and excellent handing of all its extremely disturbing material. The opening was relatively light, with Offred learning what the commander likes and then using the magazine he gave her to analyze ways to tell how he – and later Nick – felt about her. Offred was not shy about offering her opinion to both the Commander and Serena, chastising him for touching her in front of Serena and snapping at Serena for thinking that she would feel pregnant mere moments after having sex with Nick, which itself is an interesting development. Interspersing Offred’s passion-free act of attempted baby-making with Nick, supervised by Serena, with her first passionate encounter with Luke was enormously effective, and the whole saga of how Moira picked him out off the street and then he eagerly accepted the idea of leaving his wife after Jun asked him was such a huge piece of her background that affects who she is. Ending with her sneaking in to Nick’s cabin for an actual instance of passion was powerful, and it’s clear that she’s not going to play by the rules anymore. It was surprising and enlightening to hear the new Ofglen speak up and show some personality, declaring that her new life is far better and more stable than the one she had before. The old Ofglen, Emily, had her moment as well, experiencing an invigorating joyride before taking it to a deadly level, one that is sure to have even more irreparable consequences for her.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 3, Episode 8 “Eat a Knievel” (B+)

This season has been all about Liv being ridiculous, constantly eating the brains of annoying people and adopting their habits full-force, and that happened yet again in this episode. Liv going into the interrogation room to staple a suspect’s tongue to the table was a poor start, and her excitement at putting glue on the outside of the coffee mug and scaring Clive was extremely entertaining. Liv also used the brain she was on to have another romantic date with Justin, and maybe that whole thing will work out after all. It didn’t take long for Vivian to figure out that Major was human, but, tragically, she got killed in an unfortunate move since any show with Andrea Savage on it is automatically better than a show without her. The brother who is replacing her seems to far more militant and likely to cause deadly carnage as a result of his outlook and orders. As Angus tried to wrest control of the bar from an unamused Don E, Blaine wasted no time in becoming a zombie again, and he had a very well-oriented revenge plan for his father. Trusting Don E and giving him back the control he wanted was absolutely the right move, and now he’s headed back to a lucrative and productive place in society. That final scene with a less white Liv and Ravi trying to get into the meeting where they were checking blood pressure was eerie, and the look on Ravi’s face when Liv left him there was chilling. Let’s hope everything works out okay for our intrepid friends.

What I’m Watching: The Flash (Season Finale)

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 23 “Finish Line” (B+)

So, there was a twist, and Iris isn’t dead. HR made the ultimate sacrifice after he accidentally gave Savitar her location, and it’s a grand way for one of the more peculiar and entertaining characters on this show to go out. The most important thing is that Iris is no longer in danger since Savitar had to kill her in that moment, and because he didn’t, he’s not trying to anymore. Barry trying to appeal to Savitar’s memories as him and Iris being open to that appeared to be working, but then all the evil in him just took hold again. Gypsy and Jay Garrick showed up, along with Wells from Earth-Two, as the other-worldly support that our heroes needed, and after Barry spared Savitar, Iris was there to make sure that he wouldn’t pose any further threat. And Caitlin even came back, though she needs to go on some personal journey to find a happy medium between being Killer Frost and the good-hearted doctor she used to be. After all this, that damn speed force, which I still don’t quite understand, came back to call for a speedster to be trapped within it so that it can be fulfilled or whatever. I do think that the way in which it was presented showcased Barry as a triumphant hero, eagerly fulfilling his destiny to save the world. I don’t know what will get him back, but I’m excited to see what comes next for this show which won’t be ruled by doom and gloom but rather by a world without a Flash which will be eager to retrieve its hero once again.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Grant Gustin as Barry

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What I’m Watching: Casual (Season Premiere)

Casual: Season 3, Episode 1 “Ashes to Ashes” (B)

One of my favorite dramatic comedies is back all of a sudden, and I’m definitely not going to rush three episodes into just one sitting like Hulu keeps doing with its series, debuting them back-to-back on premiere night. I’m taking this show one episode per week, as usual with shows that I like, and so here we are with a very expository installment, one that shows us where we stand and how things aren’t really all that ordinary anymore. Alex has always been an oversharer, demanding far too much time from Val and Leon. Now, he’s moved on to his new tenant, Hans, who he managed to scare away quickly, and Jennifer, who seems to be taken with his charm despite his repeated violation of the boundaries in their therapist-client relationship. Val’s new landlord is far too laidback and crunchy, and describing how she didn’t call her handyman because she didn’t want to interrupt his soul-searching journey was evidently not okay with Val, who tried calling Leon and then Drew before finally telling her landlord off and demanding action. Val and Drew got to do some moderately-effective parenting in splitting the cost of Laura’s tattoo removal while the troublemaker teen managed to be on what for her counts as good behavior. Val was miserable enough at the memorial that her mother put on for her late father before that surprising bit of news was just casually dropped, and if I heard what I thought I did, Val is in for some serious spiraling.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 3, Episode 7 “Expenses” (B+)

It’s remarkable to watch Jimmy work. Sure, I prefer – and I’m sure we all do too – to see him in court arguing something that seems impossible to prove or winning over old ladies with his ability to pen a good will. Jimmy bounced back from a yearlong ban on practicing law to selling the commercial space he had already paid for in less than a day, and now he’s trying to turn it into his regular business. He has an incredible knack for selling, and he went from trying to get two guys in a musical instrument shop to pay for a bulk package to offering it up completely for free, with the understanding that, if the advertising works, they’ll pay the full rate for more. That scene at the end of the episode was really something, since he was clearly getting revenge on his brother by putting him in the crosshairs of the insurance agency, but part of his sob story was true: he can barely afford his minimal bills at this point. Kim lashing out at her Mesa Verde contact was an unexpected moment, but I think she’s grappling with what they’ve done much more than Jimmy is. Nacho is taking on a more central role in the story, and I like that he and Mike have crossed paths again. Seeing Mike in a more sentimental lens with the support group and doing his construction project was very worthwhile, though it’s clear that his new association with Nacho is going to pull him deep in to more criminal enterprises.

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

Jane the Virgin: Season 3, Episode 20 “Chapter Sixty-Four” (B+)

Talk about a lot of developments in this hour to set season four in a while direction! Jane getting ordained as a minister and then being at a loss as to what to say was a mere subplot, and Rogelio and Xiomara were able to get married after all despite everything stacked against them. Darci showing up seven months pregnant was terrible timing, but luckily we didn’t even have to wait for Rogelio to step up and do the right thing, refusing to be swayed by her sudden return and declaring right away that he was going to be contacting her through a joint lawyer with Xiomara. Jane got to read the letter from Michael that she didn’t know existed, and apparently it came to her from a very unlikely source: Jane’s first love, who will likely feature heavily into at least the start of season four. As anyone who’s read my reviews knows, I’m #teamrafael all the way, and it seemed like Rafael was being incredibly romantic in his courtship of Petra, firmly choosing her over Jane, but that wasn’t what was happening at all. Luisa and Anezka sharing a taxi was the worst thing that could possibly happen for their siblings, since now Anezka is reading to kill Petra and a furious Luisa is taking the Marbella back from her brother because he tricked her. The revelation that the real Eileen killed Scott because he had seen Rose moments earlier and could have blown their whole deal was intriguing and actually makes a lot of sense. As always, this show is a terrific source of unique entertainment. I look forward to its return next year!

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Gina Rodriguez as Jane

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Season Finale)

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 22 “Nevertheless, She Persisted” (B+)

I didn’t see this episode’s title until I sat down to review it, and it’s a much more overt political statement, echoing Elizabeth Warren being stifled in her passionate argument against Jeff Sessions, than this show usually tends to make, Cat’s “fake news” dig aside. This episode was very much about standing up to oppressors, and Kara managed to power through kryptonite being wielded at her to make an incredibly difficult decision and save the planet. Mon-El has been a surprisingly strong addition to the show this season, and this was quite a formidable way for him to go out, sent away in a shuttle doomed to never return to Earth after his mother turned to stone and then crumbled. Kara made a heartfelt confession of love to Mon-El as he was getting into the pod, and it’s clear that they got very close and both helped each other a lot. I’d be happy to see Mon-El return, but I’m not sure how that could feasibly play out. It was very sweet to see Alex propose on the spot because she felt so close to Maggie, and I guess there’s a wedding in store next season! Even Hank got some romance with a returning M’gann. Cat, in a welcome return appearance, gave Kara a great pep talk, and it turns out that she does know that her scrappy former assistant is Supergirl. The flashback to the pods being launched on the last day of Krypton suggests that we have a new major villain coming next season, but that’s for another time. This has been a solid second season and I look forward to season three.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Melissa Benoist as Kara

What I’m Watching: Twin Peaks (Series Return)

Twin Peaks: Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2 “The Return – Parts 1 and 2” (C+)

I have a lot to say about this very lengthy premiere. I got into this show probably about a decade ago, and it may not have been my smartest choice not to brush up on what I remembered from the first two seasons. I also didn’t finish the second season since I got tired of it once it got relatively off-track and wasn’t all that interested in how it was going to end. I went to read a recap of these two episodes to provide some more clarity on what happened over the course of what felt like two never-ending hours, and I’ll say that it didn’t help at all. What I used to love about this show was its stylized soapiness and the way some supernatural cleverness played into it, particularly when invoked by the incomparable Dale Cooper. Unfortunately, this opening double-header focused much more of the parts of the show that I really didn’t like, with its severe creepiness and things that just don’t make any sense. So much of this episode took place in that room with the subtitled language, and we even got to see Laura ripped away in a horrible fashion that will be hard to get out of my head. Kyle MacLachlan is playing a very different character, a formidable villain who killed a handful of people in these episodes, and he was joined by some interesting new faces, particularly Madeline Zima from “Californication” and Jane Adams from “Hung.” I also enjoyed the brief appearance by David Lynch regular Patrick Fischler, and I missed most of the cameos from former stars of this show. I’d love to be into this show, but seeing a severed head that doesn’t match the body it was placed above underscores the show’s disturbing nature more than anything else. If I don’t see more of what I used to like about this show in the third hour, I’m not sure I’ll proceed to the fourth.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 6, Episode 6 “Qatar” (B+)

Maybe she’s always been this way, but it does seem to me that Selina is getting more vulgar and hateful every episode. Selina doesn’t really have what most people would call “morals” and that was evident in her analysis of the situation in African countries with totalitarian leaders and horrible treatment of the female population. Getting caught in a photo that made it look like she was cavorting with a Sudanese dictator led to the episode’s best line – calling him a bomber and a photo bomber – and its most awkward content, which was Selina having to censor her speech, which was going to be a scathing indictment of him and of genital mutilation, turning it instead into an extremely forgiving and liberal take on what countries should be allowed to determine for their populations. Her head was a little cloudy on account of her dalliance with Jaffar, and that ended rather abruptly when her whiteness presented a problem. Dan scored a big win in ousting Jane, though I’m sure there will be more than enough trouble to come for his new solo gig. Roger having everyone over to his house where he put on an angelic front for his wife was peculiar, and Jonah was bold enough to try to advocate for a better office while Roger had to be in a kindhearted and forgiving mood. His new girlfriend – or is it fiancĂ©e? – is really something, arranging his life but also helping him to get somewhere aside from just his strict stance on the idiocy of Daylight Saving Time.

Friday, May 26, 2017

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 4, Episode 5 “Blood Boy” (B+)

Things on this show sure move fast, and the rate at which its central characters switch jobs is truly incredible. Gavin is a big idea man and is not at all one to worry about minutia, and the fact that he was multitasking during Richard’s pitch was the least of any of their worries. Getting blood transfusions from a supposed picture of health is a crazy thing to do, but it makes total sense that Gavin would be into that. Anyone who has watched even a minute of the terrible show that is “Quantico” knows that Graham Rogers, who played Bryce here, is not to be trusted. Erlich revealing him as a druggie who was lying about pretty much everything should have been Richard’s smoking gun, and instead it got Gavin to realize that he needed to get out, thereby putting Richard as his team, which newly includes Dinesh, at a total loss. Yes, they have the patent Gavin signed over to them, but they’re without funding and now have to deliver on the big launch that Richard had to agree to as a result of his collaboration with Gavin. Dinesh calling the FBI on his girlfriend to get out of the relationship was a bit extreme, and he’s going to be kicking himself now that he’s left his penis-sorting job to work with his buds. Monica is also is an interesting position, and I think her following mother-of-three Laurie somewhere new is probably a good way to go for her career, though it’s impossible to know how things are going to turn out.

What I’m Watching: The Leftovers

The Leftovers: Season 3, Episode 6 “Certified” (B)

This show seems intent on spending the last of its hours devoted to on major character, looking earlier this season at Matt and Kevin Sr., and now it’s time for Laurie, one of the most complicated personalities on this show, to take center stage. I still contend that the Guilty Remnant was one of the most fascinating and disturbing aspects of this show, and the cult’s absence in this final season has been very felt. Opening with the flashback to her lack of interest in a session that resulted in her donning the white clothing was powerful, as was Nora’s angry reference to her actions while she was part of that cult, but I still feel that this show used to be much more focused, taking its plot points somewhere devastating and immensely powerful. Ending with Laurie ready to scuba dive to her death as she got a call from Jill was thought-provoking but didn’t do enough to address the other things that we learned in this hour, like Kevin’s willingness to be killed and John’s belief that Evie is still alive somewhere. It’s very likely that this show will end the way it started, with some experiencing what they believe to be a cathartic experience that only serves to defend everything that they’ve theorized and others left behind with no more knowledge as to what’s going on in their world. With just two episodes left, I’d like to zoom out a bit more and see what’s going on with everyone as the seventh anniversary approaches.

What I’m Watching: Making History (Series Finale)

Making History: Season 1, Episode 9 “Body Trouble” (B)

I do wish that this wasn’t the final installment of this show, but I would argue that it was far from the best sampling. This show is a comedy first and foremost, and therefore it’s not a surprise that its tackling of the serious issues – or rather, science fiction issues – involved with time travel wouldn’t be the priority. I liked when this show first started exploring that a few episodes back and would have loved to see more of it, but I guess this is all that we’re going to get. Dan going to Dr. Cobell to show him the duffel bag time machine was never a great plan, and the esteemed intellectual having a heart attack when they were in the bag was an unfortunate development. Dan going back minutes and minutes earlier after that only made things worse, and the sight of him with five dead Dr. Cobells in the car was pretty absurd. I liked the logic of no one ever thinking to check the sky, and Deborah suggesting that they should bury the dead bodies in another time was actually pretty smart. Hancock and Adams were insanely over-the-top characters, but they worked. My favorite of all was Deborah, whose passion for ice cream, including a scooping inventory that somehow didn’t result in all of the product melting, was truly inspiring and transcendental of time periods. I wish this show was continuing, especially since we didn’t see Natalie Morales’ intrepid reporter at all. I can’t imagine this will be high on anyone else’s list of cancelled shows to bring back, but I’ll be rooting for it as I fondly look back at one of the most enjoyable comedies of the season.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Leighton Meester as Deborah

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3, Episode 1 “Kimmy Gets Divorced?!” (B)

While this show was on hiatus, I didn’t think about it very much, but I did find myself making comparisons to its universe and its token irreverent nature when describing NBC’s appealing new comedy “Trial and Error.” As with so many streaming shows these days, I nearly missed the start of this one since it seems like there are at least ten new shows premiering each month and a handful returning for a second or third season at the same time. This show’s return is mostly welcome, though I think I had forgotten just how outrageous and absurd a lot of this show was. The mop made up to look like Titus which everyone spoke to was one such instance, and I don’t even know what to say about Lillian’s continued relationship with Fred Armisen’s Robert Durst. Titus having to choose whether to do something truly uncomfortable to get a role on “Sesame Street” was odd but unsurprising, and I don’t know that this show needs to spend too much more time pursuing that plotline. There was a whole lot of Jon Hamm in this episode, but that’s never a bad thing, and the divorce conversation turned very comical as Kimmy, egged on by Jacqueline, refused to give in to his request for a simple signature to dissolve their marriage. It’s nice to see Kimmy so determined and positive, and who knows how long this next chapter will last as Kimmy starts to figure out what she wants to make her happy in life.

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

12 Monkeys: Season 3, Episode 1 “Mother” (C+)

I already have a strict policy about how I watch streaming shows, and I wasn’t about to let a whole season – let alone the penultimate season – of this show go by over the course of just three days. I can’t understand why Syfy decided to air the same thing over one weekend, but I’m going to let it last me throughout part of the summer. That said, I wasn’t too enthralled by this opening hour, which had an intriguing introduction with Jones narrating how they’ve gotten to where they are. The problem is that this show has always been best when it’s dealt with time travel and, in my opinion, visited the recent past or the near future. Heading too far into the future enables the presence of advanced technology which permits villainous characters to go back in time, kill someone to prevent what they know has happened, and then trap someone in an impossible loop from which they have no hope of escaping. What makes even less sense is that Cole, wearing a protective device that allowed him to be present with his former self without causing a paradox, was actually with Cassandra when he told his former self to give up looking for her. I’m not a fan of all this business with the Witness, and I just hope that this new nightmare is over soon so that we can get back to our characters doing what they do best – traveling through time to try to stop evil forces from prevailing. Putting Jennifer front and center again can’t hurt either.

Take Three: I Love Dick

I Love Dick: Season 1, Episode 3 “Scenes from a Marriage” (C-)

I do not love this show. In fact, I really despise it. I had such high hopes for star Kathryn Hahn and her admiring director Jill Soloway, but this show just makes me angry. It’s a mess, first of all, and it’s completely unappealing beyond that. It didn’t take long at all for Chris’ deeply explicit love letters to Dick to get to him, mainly because she dropped them off for him to review, and predictably Sylvere got very angry about it. The whole relationship dynamic between Sylvere and Chris is already very all over the place, and adding his attempt to control her before punctuating it with his actual desire to be controlled by her, as forcefully demonstrated by the episode’s closing scene, only further complicates things. If there was some sort of catharsis or meaning that came from all this, that would be great, but Dick is also a relentlessly boring figure. Devon is so fascinated by everything that Chris has written that she’s essentially living her life through her, and she didn’t even blink at the idea of having been fired because she let her friends be too rowdy in a space that wasn’t hers to disrupt. I don’t feel that this show is going anywhere, and I’m fairly certain that its title is controversial enough that it isn’t likely to pick up a good deal of awards attention for fear of having to print this show’s name anywhere. As a result, I don’t feel any regret giving it up, and I hope to forget about it soon and enjoy the next season of “Transparent” instead.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What I’m Watching: Master of None

Master of None: Season 2, Episode 2 “Le Nozze” (B+)

I didn’t expect to like this episode all that much since I’ve never really been a fan of Arnold. Fortunately, this was his best appearance yet, and his presence in Italy helped Dev to realize what was actually important to him. Dev is his own man, but it was still a lot of fun to see him indulge in the excitement with a surprisingly less irritating than usual Arnold, who was polite enough to ask if they were allowed to have free samples without buying anything and who had Dev come along to the wedding with him so that he wouldn’t do anything he really regretted. He still tried his best, of course, and I’m glad that it was presented in a fashion that didn’t highlight it as the focus of the episode and instead just served as a humorous subplot. The car getting stuck and Arnold getting stuck trying to get out of it was funniest for Dev first taking a selfie for perspective, following up on Arnold’s use of a photo with him to show his size. Best of all, Dev kept walking away to text Rachel a picture of his food or what he was thinking, and knowing that she’s still on his mind and vice versa is truly wonderful. Dev departing Italy was also sentimental, mocking the English of his chef colleague, and I wonder whether we’ll see her again once Dev makes what’s sure to be a difficult transition back to living in New York.

What I’m Watching: Sense8

Sense8: Season 2, Episode 4 “Polyphony” (B+)

We know that Will was a cop, Sun does well in hand-to-hand combat, and Capheus knows how to drive. What I enjoyed most about this episode was how, in the opening escape, Lito continued to the group by putting on a great performance screaming as Riley so that Will could get away. I like the scenes of everyone walking around together, shadowing Will or Riley or whoever it is that’s actually experiencing the moment and getting guidance from the other members of the cluster. Lito was a valuable player in this hour, doing his own detective work tracking down someone related to the person who had helped him have an early positive sexual experience years earlier. Amanita, on the other hand, was put in a much more precarious position as she went out on the town and then found herself being tailed, giving Nomi a good scare. Wolfgang, of course, was late to the party since he’s spending time with someone from a different cluster, which is definitely messing with his head. While we’ve seen more than enough of Daryl Hannah’s Angel since she died in the first episode of the show, it’s still worth noting the unsettling passing of Jonas, who was deemed no longer useful and drilled into by the powers that be which also seek to destroy the sensates we know. I’m more than certain that Jonas will appear again in some form or another, but him getting taken out almost equalizes the victory they scored when Whispers no longer posed a threat.

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 3, Episode 9 “The Apology” (B+)

I’m actually pretty impressed with how this show handled the number of times that characters in this episode wanted to say something nice about Robert’s mother and had to stop themselves to insert something remotely praiseworthy about her. While Sol indulged in his own memories of his mother and then vehemently tried to deny that Robert’s mother was murdered and wasn’t still alive even though he hadn’t seen a body, Robert had a far more cathartic outing with Grace, forcing an employee of the store to model the white dress suit they were going to buy for his mother to wear in the coffin. Apologizing to Grace not loving her back was a very nice moment, and how sweet that he bought her a scarf as an in-the-moment present to show that he cared. Frankie learned some surprising news about her lack of prominence in Jacob’s thoughts about the future, and at least they talked about it now so they can figure out if moving to Santa Fe is totally out of the question because Frankie doesn’t want to leave Grace. Brianna’s excitement at proving Mallory wrong was short-lived when she realized the implications of what being right meant, and encouraging Mallory not to stay unhappily married just for the kids was important. While I expected someone to realize that Coyote was what Mallory needed, I was pleased to see that Brianna reflected on her own missed opportunity with Barry, which is sure to lead to an awkward reunion when whoever it was drinking wine with him presents a huge roadblock to whatever Brianna thinks is going to happen when they see each other.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What I’m Watching: Iron Fist

Iron Fist: Season 1, Episode 10 “Black Tiger Steals Heart” (C)

I don’t know anything – and really don’t care – about the mythology of this show and the Hand. That said, I find it extremely hard to believe that, this whole time, Colleen has actually been a member of the Hand, which she claims is not all bad but is represented poorly by Gao. That’s pretty much the foundation of their relationship, that Colleen had no idea what Danny was rambling about, and now she’s known the entire time who he was and, most importantly, she’s been lying to him about pretty much everything. Bakuto’s whole operation did seem a bit too organized, and now Danny doesn’t have any allies aside from Davos and the increasingly unreliable members of the Meachum family. Joy is experiencing a lot of emotions with her father, who had one moment of pure rage and then, after a meeting with Bakuto, went in to intimidate Lawrence Wilkins into killing himself, only to shoot him in the head before he had the chance. He’s only lying selectively to Joy, and choosing to trust her in his newfound quest to take down Bakuto, who’s far better than Gao but still an enemy. With three episodes left in this season, I’m more than ready to be done with this show, and I hope that Danny and anyone from this show who appears there will prove more tolerable when they are on “The Defenders.” Maybe Claire can prove helpful since she didn’t know Colleen wasn’t actually a good guy, and something tells me that Colleen is still going to prove to be an ally.

What I’m Watching: Fargo

Fargo: Season 3, Episode 5 “The House of Special Purpose” (B)

This episode started out in a fashion very typical for this show and its universe, with the sex tape that Nikki made with Ray posing as Emmit being watched by his wife, prompting her immediate departure and unwillingness to listen to any of his excuses. Ray proposing while they were making it was far from romantic, but it seems the two are now intertwined for good. It’s not great timing since Gloria and Winnie showed up at Ray’s door ready to interrogate him, only to be stopped by a truly stubborn Moe, who refuses to believe the true story that they’ve concocted. As all of this was playing out, V.M. made his presence known in an unpleasant and I believe unnecessary scene featuring some hateful, anti-Semitic slurs directed at Sy and his wife and a rather disgusting desecration of his favorite mug. Sy calling Nikki to threaten her didn’t produce the desired effect, and somehow she seems to have survived the horrific beating that she took from V.M.’s guys who were following Sy. The arrival of Hamish Linklater’s IRS agent to audit Emmit’s books is going to lead to much more hurt considering how V.M. reacted to the news of an innocent conversation between Sy and Gloria about inconsequential matters. I was pleasantly surprised to see Mary McDonnell show up as Ruby Goldfarb, and I’m eager to see what role she’s going to play in all of this, eager to buy a company that isn’t even close to Sy’s to try to sell at this point.

What I’m Watching: Brockmire (Season Finale)

Brockmire: Season 1, Episode 8 “It All Comes Down to This” (B+)

This show, for the fiery, unfiltered nature of its title protagonist, is very unassuming and far from showy in the way that it presents its developments. Brockmire getting an offer for a more primetime gig was inevitable, and naturally he wasn’t going to be very subtle about it. Yet he didn’t tell Jules about it when she came to him after getting petty revenge on Gary with the news that they needed to sell a week’s worth of concessions in one night. Telling everyone about the “Drink a Beer” game worked surprisingly well, mostly because every single occasion called for, you guessed it, drinking a beer, and he got pretty tanked during it. I would have thought that Jules wouldn’t be happy to learn that he was considering leaving, but her reaction was considerably harsher and more unforgiving than I had expected. The fact that he abandoned his bag and drove off with Charles suggests that he was well aware of just how angry he had made her and how little she was interested in giving him a second chance. I’m not sure what the opening flashback to Lucy and Brockmire deciding to move away from Kansas City was supposed to imply, and I do wonder where we’ll find our signature loudmouth come next season. I’m intrigued by this show, and curious to see where it goes in what I hope may be a slightly more impactful and energizing second season after this good if not overly memorable start.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Hank Azaria as Brockmire

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pilot Review: Downward Dog

Downward Dog (ABC)
Premiered May 17 at 9:30pm

I knew two things about this show going into it: it was about a millennial and it starred Allison Tolman. The latter excited me very much, since I firmly believe that Tolman was just as good as her far more recognized costars Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman in the first and completely incomparable season of “Fargo,” which happens to air immediately following this show, on a different network. I couldn’t be more disappointed in what Tolman has chosen as a follow-up to her breakout TV role. I thought that “Imaginary Mary,” which unsurprisingly got axed after just nine episodes by ABC, was enough of a cautionary tale that makes an excellent case for not having anyone other than humans speak on TV. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I realized that Martin the dog was actually the protagonist of this show, not Tolman’s Nan. Having him sound like a millennial, uttering “like” more often than any other word throughout the course of the episode, is a truly infuriating and irritating choice, and it only makes the experience exponentially worse. Nan’s boss being interested solely in French words and nudity is obnoxious as well, and I found nothing salvageable in the entirety of this half-hour. If I liked dogs, I might be slightly more sympathetic, but this show is still completely terrible. I’m eager to forget all about existence since this pilot definitely represents twenty minutes of my life that I will never be able to get back.

How will it work as a series? Well, Martin has concluded that Nan is finally showing an interest in him after he destroyed a whole bunch of things that were important to her, and she has just agreed to work nights and weekends for a year. Those things don’t go together, and so I’m sure we’ll hear many more likes and see plenty more destroyed work by the end of the second episode.
How long will it last? I don’t understand how, but this show somehow has a score of 71 on Metacritic. This was one of the most insufferable series debuts I’ve seen in a while, yet it appears that people actually like it. The show’s ratings weren’t quite as good, and a move to its real timeslot this week will indicate whether this garbage stays on the air or not. I hope not.

Pilot grade: F-

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1, Episode 4 “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” (B+)

This episode’s flashbacks were helpful in showing us how Offred got to where she is now after the religious order had already taken power. Moira’s reaction to learning how to have sex with the commanders and their wives was one of complete disbelief, and we got the answer to why we haven’t seen her around in the present day. I was shocked to see that Offred participated with her in an attempt to run away, stealing the clothes of one of the aunts before she attracted too much attention and gave an encouraging nod to Moira to get on the train to Boston and find her freedom. I’m not sure if we’ll ever know what happened to Moira, and it’s hard to imagine that she made it anywhere safe given that the street and subway signs have all been taken down to keep inhabitants at bay. I did notice from the makeup of the men getting off the train that there seems to be no inherent racism or white nationalism present in this new world, rather just the incredible subjugation of women. We also learned a few helpful hints about other places, like an apparently free Canada and a more cooperative Mexico. The notion that something like the UN still exists is crazy, though I guess we also can’t really know if this order still controls more than just a small area of Massachusetts since we haven’t seen anything of the outside world. Offred’s trip to the doctor was yet another example of a man reacting far less coldly to a handmaid than the women put in charge, as Kristian Bruun, best known as Donnie on “Orphan Black,” offered to impregnate her so that she wouldn’t have to contend with the commander’s likely sterile condition. Offred’s latest Scrabble game with the commander was affirming, and she seems set to tackle her horrific life with just a bit more optimism than before.

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 4, Episode 22 “World’s End” (B+)

I didn’t know how this show was going to deal with Aida and her omnipotence, but it happened all right. I’d say that the image of her face being burned off by Ghost Rider’s fiery whip was plenty disturbing and more than enough proof that the former android is really gone for good. It was strange to see Robby again after so long and to have him play a role after being gone for nearly the entirety of the robot-related part of this season, but that was also fitting, since he was the only one who was able to take down someone so powerful. He also apparently brokered some deal with Coulson which may affect him going forward. I don’t know what to make of them being in space, and I like that we saw them all out eating at a dinner before the arrest that they knew was coming, though I can’t imagine they knew where they were going. The finale of the framework was fitting, with Radcliffe rescuing Yo-Yo, Mack’s daughter just disappearing, and Radcliffe’s world ending without a sound. Simmons using a robot version of herself as a decoy to bait Aida was smart, and though we’ll now have to contend with space and maybe even aliens, at least we’ll know that whichever character we’re seeing is really that person. I wasn’t so happy in the middle of this season, but I’m glad to report that, from episode sixteen on, this show has been firing on all cylinders. With a season five renewal announced and a planned January return date, let’s hope the next installment is more well-rounded and retains the show’s best qualities.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Mallory Jansen as Aida

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 3, Episode 7 “Dirt Nap Time” (B+)

The absence of that much-needed dose of the cure didn’t play a major part in this episode since life – or what remains of it for Liv - must go on. Instead of becoming human again, she got to take on the personality of a preschool teacher obsessed with turning every moment into an opportunity to treat others like his students. This has to be one of the more entertaining iterations of Liv on zombie brain that we’ve seen, and I love that she frequently brought out puppets and put a suspect in time-out while he was being interrogated. The fact that she told both Clive and Major that they could be astronauts if they wanted and that she started her romance with Justin off on a good note since she liked passing notes with him was just as entertaining. It didn’t take Justin long to realize that Major was now human, and keeping that a secret is going to be harder than he thought. Justin going full-zombie on video can’t lead anywhere good, and I hope that he won’t personally suffer the consequences. Blaine has now been excluded from everything – his relationship with Peyton and his business – and getting shot by a man sent by his father seems as fitting an ending as any. Given the number of times he’s bounced back from what seemed like a definitive fate, I can’t imagine that this is the last we’ll see of the white-haired liar who may very well be turned into a zombie once again.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 22 “Infantino Street” (B+)

I’ll be honest – I’ve totally lost track of where Leonard Snart is and how he still exists in this show’s universe. What’s most puzzling to me is why Wentworth Miller felt the need to leave “Legends of Tomorrow” as a regular cast member if he was going to return several times in this season. A bit of quick research reveals that he now has a contract that has to be similar to Rosario Dawson’s deal with Netflix Marvel shows, appearing as needed on a variety of shows that all exist in the same universe. He was helpful in this episode to get Barry close enough to ARGUS to inspire Lyla to give to them, but the craziest thing is that it didn’t work. Savitar showed up posing as Barry to STAR Labs, and HR eagerly let slip Iris’ location, a mistake that he’s sure not to forgive himself for making. The end of the episode was in slow-motion seemingly to underscore the majesty and inevitability of this moment, and having Iris record her telling Barry that she would marry him suggests this really is the final chapter of her story. What that says about the power of speed and time travel is a mystery to me, and I think it’s hard to imagine anything but a much darker version of Barry existing in the near future, unless he somehow goes back in time to reverse the actions that his time remnant doppelganger has engineered. I’m sure we’ll see what happens in the season finale, but I’m not feeling particularly optimistic at the moment.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 3, Episode 6 “Off Brand” (B+)

Sometimes things end with a whimper rather than a bang, and that’s exactly what happened with this court case. Chuck retreated back to his house, refusing to answer the door for anyone, especially the ex-wife who cares deeply about his deteriorated condition. Howard showed up, fully supportive of the man in whom he’s always believed even if it didn’t seem like that all the time, and was let in, all too eager to celebrate a minor victory that kept Jimmy from practicing law for twelve months, a time frame he was sure would be extended when Jimmy inevitably violated its parameters. Jimmy, meanwhile, was quietly congratulating himself and heaping praise on Kim for so marvelously defending him, and, just like that, he’s on to the next big venture. This show has a very dated feel to it, particularly when it shows old-fashioned TV commercials, and I love the idea that this is how Jimmy became Saul Goodman, donning a disguise of sorts and becoming a master commercial hawker before turning into a legitimate lawyer with a particular interest in helping criminals. We also saw a bit of progression in the Salamanca-Fring turf war, with Nacho getting caught in the middle. I don’t remember where Nacho in particular ends up, but I’m eager to see this all come together, especially when Gus and Jimmy have the chance to interact again. I also don’t recall if Stacey is present in the future since I only remember Mike’s granddaughter, but he does seem to be exhausting some positive energy into helping her have an improved life.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 3, Episode 21 “Chapter Sixty-Three” (B+)

Well, that relationship ended hard and fast, and in quite a messy way. Jane was all ready to break up with Fabian, and then she saw that he had access to a white horse, which, in retrospect, was a silly reason to stay with him. The fact that he was wearing a wig when he was being rude to Rogelio and then nearly had a brawl with him made it easier to bear, since the mindless but kindhearted lug didn’t seem capable of that kind of fury. Jane’s attempt not to meddle in another relationship went well at the start, but then she unleashed her opinion full-force. Petra’s reaction to the fake news she overheard Rafael telling Luisa on the phone was telling, and now they might be able to stay together after all. Jane did have a more influential role in the preparation for her parents’ wedding, telling off Jean and Luc when they tried to quash her mother’s dreams. Rogelio’s inability to show up for some of the more formative wedding planning moments isn’t all that promising, but generally things between the two of them seem to be proceeding along decently. One romance that’s been decidedly cut short is that between Luisa and Eileen, mainly due to the fact that the police’s trap worked and got Eileen arrested and unmasked for the Sin Rosestro she really is! I’m not sure what that means for Luisa and for the show going forward, but in the words of our narrator, oh boy!

Friday, May 19, 2017

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 21 “Resist” (B+)

Well, this was a happening episode, which makes sense given that it’s the penultimate installment of the season. Rhea’s hostile takeover produced total chaos, and it’s a good thing our friends were able to band together to try to resist her. An unexpected offer of help came from Lillian Luthor, who was suddenly teaming up with Kara, Alex, and Maggie with Cyborg Superman by her side. It was nice that she wanted to get Lena back, but betraying Supergirl and leaving her and Mon-El behind as soon as her daughter was out of harm’s way was decidedly villainous. Fortunately, Winn had made a backup plan for just this situation, but that didn’t include Supergirl coming back with him. Rhea threatening to take out a hospital to get Mon-El and Lena to agree to marry each other was cold, and now it appears that she has managed to mind-control Superman, which explains why he wasn’t around helping the people of National City during the alien attack. President Marsdin, after charging Air Force One towards Rhea’s mothership, made a dramatic reveal by showing her alien skin, and hopefully that will be just the arm of friendship the DEO needs as the country faces a hostile alien race that doesn’t represent the entire extraterrestrial community. I found her deeply irritating when she was a series regular, but Calista Flockhart’s fiery return as Cat Grant was very welcome in this episode, and I’d be happy to see her stop by on occasion to dominate an episode with her signature flair and completely unflappable confidence.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 6, Episode 5 “Chicklet” (B+)

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this episode part of the way through when Selina and Mike were trashing the house, but that comes with the territory on this show. Mike was only in Selina’s good graces for a little while, edging Gary out for her attention, and the moment that he stopped listening eagerly to all of her stories and questioned one of the many inconsistencies she had described, he was ousted and even had his letter of recommendation appropriated for someone else to curry political favor. I also wasn’t too fond of all this Jewish humor, but if all it really means is that Jonah doesn’t want to say pork because his new girlfriend, who is completely redoing his wardrobe, directing his politics, and bossing him around, is Jewish, I think I’m okay with that. Selina’s wax statue was a disaster, and of course she’d really be the butt of crude sexual photos than be next to Gerald Ford. Dan may be a terrible person when it comes to his treatment of women, but Jane is also being manipulative, not interested in stooping to the level of sleeping with him but more than happy to spread the rumors to keep herself relevant. My favorite part of the episode was Richard being asked to serve as the sperm donor for Catherine and Marjorie. Not only do he and his father both hate butterscotch, he also got to experience something exciting for the very first time that made the women he’s going to help become parents conclude that he’s such a pure soul.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 4, Episode 4 “Teambuilding Exercise” (B+)

As soon as Richard started working with Gavin, I kept waiting for the bottom to fall out. What’s great about this show is that sometimes things don’t fail but instead they succeed in completely different ways than expected without some of the original players attached. Richard went through a very showy process of interviewing candidates and keeping some rather explicit notes about them – the least scathing of which was a callback to his hatred of spaces instead of tabs – that just resulted in him working with Jared and Gilfoyle again. I love that Seefood was only capable of distinguishing between hotdog and not hotdog, and Jian-Yang’s argument that he can quit if Erlich could steal led to a very entertaining turn of events. Erlich having Big Head use his class to scrape the internet for food images failed miserably because the class didn’t like how he was treating Big Head and ended up banding together to create the technology instead. The best part was that Erlich taking an explicit photo to be obnoxious to Jian-Yang led to Seefood turning into a penis filter that netted him $4 million. The absurdity of what happens on this show and the speed with which technology and fortunes change is incredible. Gilfoyle making Dinesh paranoid about his hacker girlfriend getting onto their wi-fi and using his phone while he wasn’t there was fun, even though I’m pretty sure it’s all made up to make the man who has to spend every day looking at penises on the internet go insane.

What I’m Watching: The Leftovers

The Leftovers: Season 3, Episode 5 “It's a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World” (B)

This is what counts as a typical episode of this show lately, focused on one character and the way that they interact with the universe in this imagined future. I really don’t know what’s going to come of finding Kevin in Australia and bringing him home in time for the anniversary, and it seems that Matt has, to a degree, lost his faith in the process. It was jarring to hear Matt tell a dirty joke about a priest in order to get onto the ferry from Tasmania when the plane got diverted, and everything aboard the ship was just plain strange if not excessively disturbing. I guess that’s the kind of thing that’s normal in this show’s world, but it still seems like an unnecessary diversion, one point on which Matt and I agree. I knew I recognized David Burton from somewhere, but the accent threw me off, and I now see that I know Bill Camp from his performance on “The Night Of.” Contending that he was God somehow managed to win Matt over in the end, yet he still got trampled by a lion as he tried to run from the police when he was called to account for his actions. The most unexpected part of this episode for me was the Hebrew liturgical music that played, including “Avinu Malkeinu” from the High Holidays and “Ashrei” from each daily service, meant to deepen the deeply religious nature of Matt’s quest in this episode. It was intriguing but I’d like to get back to what’s most focused about this show in the next episode.

Pilot Review: Anne with an E

Anne with an E (Netflix)
Premiered May 12

There are certain shows that I’m pretty sure I know how I’ll end up feeling about them going in. This is one such series, set at a point in the literary past where action and excitement are unlikely to be found, and far more plodding stories about coming of age and growing into oneself are sure to take up a good deal of the attention. I have no real memory of “Anne of Green Gables,” if I even read it at some point when I was a child or in school, but I know that it’s not the first book I would choose to adapt if I were making a film. I’m partial to something like “Anna Karenina” over “Pride and Prejudice,” though this show doesn’t feature Keira Knightley, just makes me think of the kind of movies she used to make. I am happy to report that, despite the somewhat unending nature of this show’s first episode, it does feature a strong performance from Amybeth McNulty as the impossibly chatty Anne, who is determined to let everyone know how to pronounce her name and to show them that she’s just as good as any boy they could have hoped for. If this show belonged to a genre that I enjoyed, I’m sure I’d be very happy watching it, but given that it doesn’t, I’m more than satisfied with this as a helpful sampling of an extremely Canadian ode to one of the most beloved books that’s ripe for an adaptation like this.

How will it work as a series? Anne sure is a magnetic protagonist, and I’m sure there will be no shortage of things for her to talk about and experience over the course of the show’s even episodes. The source material and creative liberties should be more than sufficient.
How long will it last? This show already wrapped its run on Canadian network CBC, and now it’s coming to a streaming service where I think it will have no trouble finding an audience to slowly make their way through this show. The reviews seem to be pretty strong, and I imagine this is going to be something Netflix wants to continue.

Pilot grade: B-

Round Two: I Love Dick

I Love Dick: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Conceptual Fuck” (C-)

I had mostly forgotten about this show since I watched the erratic premiere back in August, though I had seen that it was being featured as part of the Tribeca TV section of the Tribeca Film Festival last month. I just remembered that it didn’t do much for me, and was yet another instance of the amazing Kathryn Hahn not quite finding the right role for her talents, constantly attached to projects Jill Soloway created. After an intensely sexual and explicit opening, this episode was all over the place, with not much to keep it all together. Kevin Bacon’s Dick is an enigma of sorts but also a much less interesting character than he’s made out to be, and I’m finding this show to be extremely inaccessible, uninviting, and at times downright boring. I don’t think I even have enough to say about it to fill an entire review, other than that its title continues to be a point of contention, since it’s the kind of thing that you don’t want to say too loud in a public place for fear of being either overly explicit or inappropriate, and while it does accurately define its protagonist’s unhealthy obsession with another character, it feels all too attention-grabbing with not nearly enough payoff. Given the greatness of “Transparent,” admittedly a show that was fantastic from the start and didn’t have to get good, I think I might owe this show a third visit, but given how much this installment turned me off, I can’t imagine coming back for more after that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What I’m Watching: Master of None (Season Premiere)

Master of None: Season 2, Episode 1 “The Thief” (B+)

This show has been off the air for a year and a half, and therefore it’s really great to have it back since I had completely forgotten about its existence. It’s also a show that I grew to like as it went on, so I’m so happy to be reunited with it now. I love the idea that Dev actually speaks Italian pretty well, getting fully into the accent before admitting that he’s actually missed a good deal of the advanced part of the conversation. He’s also still prone to things like throwing his alarm clock out the window, following it up with a hearty “allora,” a word whose meaning he doesn’t know. Trying to get “prego mile” to happen and triumphantly throwing a “mangiamo insieme” at the haughty woman behind the counter were two particularly amusing moments that I think I liked even more because of my familiarity with the Italian language from my own time spent there. Meeting a woman who made a reservation for the wrong month and sharing a great birthday dinner with her was wonderful, and not only did he decide not to kiss her, he then had to contend with his phone being stolen by a fast robber on a bike. “Come se dice, funny coincidence” was another great line. At least Rachel’s still e-mailing him from Japan, so I’m hopeful that she’ll come back into his life. The black-and-white was a nice touch that gives this episode an added feeling of immersion into something totally different.

What I’m Watching: Sense8

Sense8: Season 2, Episode 3 “Obligate Mutualisms” (B+)

Our sensates did a strong job of following up on the upper hand that they were able to seize by working against Whispers to go directly to the source. Having Whispers relay messages for them and cut himself out of the exchange, something that he didn’t want to do which led to them subverting him by texting the superior directly, was a huge power play that worked out pretty well. While Will’s meeting at the museum gave him plenty of information, Whispers managed to send one of his fellow sensates there to kill the man he was speaking to and try to take him out too. Sun had quite the brush with death, which let us see every member of the cluster with a noose around their neck, quite an unsettling sight that fortunately didn’t end fatally. In fact, she’s now in much better shape, freed from her confinement thanks to some expert bus driving by Capheus. As usual, the music on this show and in that scene in particular was top-notch. It’s always intriguing when we meet members of other clusters, and Wolfgang getting to know someone with whom he was able to have a certain kind of sex was definitely interesting. It was good to see Jonas again, and nice to know that he’s still out there and kicking. On a less optimistic note, Lito was flying so high after his double-date premiere, and to walk in to work to find his morality clause invoked against him took him down so much in a way that make it very hard to bounce back.

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 3, Episode 8 “The Alert” (B+)

This season has really had a lot to say about getting old and what that means, and it continued that in this installment. Bud buying Grace and Frankie panic alerts was both a physical and psychological way for them to feel old, and the ease with which Frankie’s was triggered, both at home and in the middle of a meeting, demonstrated just how other people looked at them. Having their photos airbrushed to make them look decades younger contradicted everything they had been working to build, and that negated the fact that they didn’t have to do anything since the ideas were being pitched to them. Wendie Malick played a much more normative character than she usually does as Mimi Becker, the prospective new partner. Sol helping Bud to fire his ineffective secretary really turned out to be a wake-up call for himself, enabling him to finally come home and join Robert in the wonders of retirement, silly shoes and all. I like that Mallory enjoys giving Brianna a hard time for the one thing that she’s able to make fun of her for, and Brianna finding out that her man of the night had a wife so that he could keep something real in his life was a serious blow to her self-esteem. Mallory also seems to be realizing that Coyote is a pretty great influence in her life and that of her children, and might be far more dependable than the truly lackluster husband that so rarely factors into this show’s universe.

What I’m Watching: Iron Fist

Iron Fist: Season 1, Episode 9 “The Mistress of All Agonies” (C+)

So, apparently Harold’s alive, and he took quite the bug-eyed walk home, re-experiencing things like sprinklers and street food with a completely new lease on life. I guess he can’t be killed, which is convenient to a degree, though the timing of his long-awaited reunion with Joy was not so fortuitous given that he’s become a completely transformed person. Buying his eager assistant ice cream and then beating him to death when all he wanted was vanilla was deeply disconcerting, and the fact that he’s alive again didn’t sit well with Ward, who promptly got arrested for drug possession and then said exactly the things he needed to get him flagged as a crazy person in strong denial of reality. Danny tried to be as productive as possible in this hour, getting the truth serum to make Gao talk, and it would have been helpful for him to know that he could have used his iron fist to heal Colleen from the start. Gao knows exactly how to get inside everyone’s head, and while Claire and Colleen both put up a good fight, she definitely had an effect on them. It’s not clear what’s going to happen next, but Danny is in theory much closer than he’s ever been to finally taking down the people who ruined his life, starting with the woman in charge. Whether he and Joy will be able to ascend back to where they were in the company from which they’ve now been ousted remains to be seen.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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

The Catch: Season 2, Episode 10 “The Mockingbird” (B+)

It’s not all that fair to expect a show that filmed its season finale and only found out hours before it aired that it was its last-ever episode to provide true closure. I think this show did the best it could, sending its characters on one final adventure and leaving the future somewhat unknown. It could have gone on, sure, but this was a pretty fitting way to close it out. This installment was full of twists, sort of like “The Departed” without all the head shots, and it’s almost dizzying to keep track. Tessa being in league with Felicity was a genuine surprise, but the charm of her family members managed to win her over. I also didn’t see – and don’t buy quite as much – that Rhys has been a bad guy all this time, working with Tommy of all people to take over the Kensington firm and build a new empire for himself. Somehow, in all of this, Ben got branded a violator of his deal, and therefore having him leave on Ethan’s private jet – a nice way to involve the man who won’t win Alice back – with Margot and Tessa seemed fitting. I can’t comprehend how Margot and Danny worked out, and it’s a good thing that Danny didn’t decide to go with them since I don’t think he would do well in England. I would have been more than happy to see this show continue on for a while – I think that it’s more than sufficient fun, and seemed to be providing more casual entertainment than most other shows on the air even if it did go a little overboard sometimes.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Philippa Coulthard as Tessa

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces (Season Finale)

Life in Pieces: Season 2, Episode 22 “Poison Fire Teats Universe” (B)

Each of this episode’s vignettes picked up exactly where they left off last week with the troubles that every member of the family experienced getting to Mexico for Matt and Colleen’s wedding. Greg’s attempt to apologize to the man who he gave a coconut cookie to was entirely ill-fated, and Jen was smart enough to realize that he shouldn’t be officially admitting to anything. While she did manage to stop him from saying anything else incriminating, he was dumb enough to write some of it down in the card that he included which the lawyer promptly bagged for evidence. Tyler and Clementine offering to have the family come stay in their tiny house was pretty funny, and my favorite part was when they put on the coats they collected because they didn’t have anywhere else to put them. “Will and Grace” Emmy winner Leslie Jordan made a helpful appearance to get John distracted by the idea of turning Tank into a show dog, thereby prohibiting a surgery that would leave a scar. Fortunately, all worked out well, which is probably for the best given the frenzied nature of the vet. Colleen hit rock bottom when she threw her wedding dress off the balcony, and it’s nice that Matt was able to put something together to give her the most romantic wedding he could under the circumstances. It wasn’t perfect or all that formal, sure, but it was really sweet and an endearing way to end the season on a heartwarming note.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Zoe Lister-Jones as Jen

What I’m Watching: Fargo

Fargo: Season 3, Episode 4 “The Narrow Escape Problem” (B+)

Now we’re getting somewhere, back to Minnesota to focus on what’s actually happening, not the mysterious past of an accidentally murdered man. I thought I recognized Billy Bob Thornton’s voice as the narrator, and I’m glad to have back on this show. Honestly, I half expected Allison Tolman’s Molly to be the cop in the bathroom at the parole office, but it was good to meet Olivia Sandoval’s Winnie Lopez instead. What we have here is classic fare for this show, with intersecting investigations into things that shouldn’t be all that big of a deal, but because of the way that those interviewed try to deny knowledge of anything, the two cops looking into it are starting to connect the dots. Sy was particularly evasive when cornered about his Humvee parking lot crash, refusing to name anyone in HR, and Ray didn’t do a great job of playing dumb when interrogated by Gloria. Ray experienced a lot over the course of the episode, playing tough to get the bank to drill open his brother’s box and then only taking $10,000 when he suspected there was a full million in there that he could have grabbed. He accepted his termination without any dispute, and now it seems that he’s standing up the woman he’s fallen in love with while he figures out what to do, which isn’t a smart play. I like that Gloria looked back at Nikki as they passed each other outside the parole office, and she’s butting heads quite a bit with her new chief who prefers not to use three-syllable words for a one-syllable problem in a very anti-Midwest attitude. The animals played by musical instruments device was odd but not all that unexpected from this show.

What I’m Watching: Brockmire

Brockmire: Season 1, Episode 7 “Old Timers Day” (B+)

This was a fun episode, and I had no idea that there’s just one half-hour left this season. Fortunately, this show was renewed for a second season on the day that it first premiered, so it will be back. It seems like Brockmire never liked Joe very much at all, yet even after making a sexual joke about his dead mother and then only making it worse upon learning that she was deceased, Joe was still ready to give him a hug. Brockmire was all about the attention that he got, and despite Jules shaking her head to dissuade him from his crude finale, he still got roaring applause from the crowd, so much so that he didn’t even hear Jules shouting at him. She was so excited about the Cubs game and about the opportunity to talk baseball with giants, but she was relegated to events where women were allowed and mistaken for a prostitute when she did start a good conversation. Charles, on the other hand, took full advantage of being left by himself, bringing a Tinder date to indulge in beer served in the most disgusting form possible: ranch dressing containers that weren’t completely washed. Asking for tips and getting them after some poor sexual performance led him to bravely request a return of services, which might have been nice had a guy not shown up to torch the field while it was happening. Now we have yet another problem for Jules to fix which likely has something to do with Brockmire and his inability and lack of desire to censor himself.

Take Three: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1, Episode 3 “Late” (B+)

This show truly is terrifying to watch, and it’s just as equally well-done. The two most horrific things we saw in this episode were the way that women were swiftly marginalized in society and how this religious order punishes what it calls gender traitors. We’re past seeing even mildly pleasant memories of the past, since the most optimistic scene of the entire hour found June and Moira being called sluts by a barista when her card got declined. Seeing all the women summarily fired from June’s office and the protesters being chased down and shot demonstrated the way in which total authority was established, even if we still don’t have all the details of how they first come to power. None of that matters anymore, of course, since they’re in charge, and they deal unforgivingly with anyone who does anything to offend them. What happened to Ofglen as a result of her relationship with the wife of her house was brutal, and her emitted scream at the end of the episode was resounding. When Serena thought that Offred was pregnant, she treated her so well, rushing to stop her torture and offering her special privileges. As soon as she found out that she wasn’t, she was incredibly cruel, utilizing what little power she has left thanks to her gender. If there’s one thing that’s consistent is that unsanctioned relationships do seem to exist at nearly every house between the lower and upper classes, hardly the most fitting terms to describe what they are.

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

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 4, Episode 21 “The Return” (B+)

The aftermath of the framework is not an entirely pleasant place, though at least it’s good that Hydra is a thing of the past. Coulson was on his game, pulling out the cool trick of triggering his pop-up hologram shield to slice off the Russian’s face. The only problem, of course, is that the Russian can replicate himself and be killed over and over again without any worry that he’ll actually be dead. Unfortunately, he and Aida make a formidable team, and they seem set on ruling the world to make it more in their image. The idea that Aida made herself real to become human is fascinating, and Fitz did a tremendous job convincing her to feel empathy, which enabled her to save Mack. That same surge of emotion proved to be immensely destructive when Aida couldn’t understand why Fitz chose Simmons over her, and she lost it in a big way. Aida giving herself more than one power means she’s a true threat, and only Fitz seems to understand that. Yo-Yo going into the framework to rescue Mack by herself wasn’t the best idea she’s ever had, and the fact that she’s strapped down in the middle of a whole lot of chaos does not bode well at all. On top of everything, apparently now is the time that Robbie feels is appropriate to return from hell or wherever he went, as if summoned by May asking about what happened to him. Maybe he’ll come in handy in the finale and help to teleport Mack and Yo-Yo home.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 3, Episode 6 “Some Like It Hot Mess” (B+)

So I guess Blaine has been lying this whole time. I’m not sure I buy that completely, but it does make some sense that he would try to reset everything when he had the chance. It’s crazy that he was changed enough to confess his lies with no coercion to Peyton, though of course the fact that she resents him is exactly what’s going to trigger him to return to a life of villainy. The most important revelation is that the cure does work, and now Major is able to enjoy ice cream and keep his memories. The idea that Liv might be able to be cured has never even crossed my mind, mainly because that’s the entire basis of this show. Her excitement at the possibility of returning to a human life was truly exciting for her, and therefore Major telling them that he gave away his spare syringe was such a devastating way to end the episode since it resets everything back to zero. On a lighter note, I did enjoy the fact that both Clive and Liv rolled their eyes as soon as they realized what they were going to be in for with this latest mess of a brain. Liv stitching her cell phone into a cadaver and drinking and DJing at the club were pretty fantastic moments, but my favorite one was Liv walking into the interrogation room and telling Joel “we’re detectives, we detect things.” I also liked the “Entire Foods” uniforms that the characters were wearing at the start of the episode.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 21 “Cause and Effect” (B)

So the big reveal at the end of the last episode got broken down a bit over the course of this hour, with the generally agreed-upon explanation that it’s not really possible to explain it. What I will say about this episode is that it handled the whole we-wiped-Barry’s-memory plotline very well, creating an energizing and optimistic view of a Barry not stressed by the knowledge of a doomed future. It was also cool that Savitar immediately lost his memories, making Killer Frost quite angry and leading to her coming to Star Labs for help getting him back to normal. It’s always been strange to me to see enemies working together so closely and then just leaving once their joint goals have been accomplished, though at least this instance did provide a moment of return from the old Caitlin, who remembered part of the story that Cisco was telling. Cisco and Julian make a solid tech team, and their glasses with printed words for Barry to read off of during his testimony were a good idea even if they didn’t account for his sweat short-circuiting them. My favorite part of memory-free Barry was his desire to be called Bart. HR’s budding romance with Dr. Brand is extremely welcome, and she seems to making some progress. I’m not too excited about the prospect of having to see King Shark again so that the team can get the power they need to be able to finally stop the time remnant who became Savitar once and for all.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 3, Episode 5 “Chicanery” (B+)

After an episode devoted very little to Jimmy and more to Mike and Gus, neither of those supporting players were present at all in this hour. Instead, the full episode featured the court proceedings, which played out about as expected. Every time Jimmy scores a personal victory against Chuck, it feels horrible and everyone in the room looks at the floor because they don’t want to confront what just happened. Opening with a flashback to better times when Chuck kept his condition from Rebecca was enormously effective as usual, and we’ve come a long way from that point. Kim telling Mesa Verde was Jimmy did before they found out was smart, and she did a very strong job of representing him. Played back in court, the tape really did sound damning, and Jimmy didn’t do a great job initially trying to poke holes in Chuck’s condition to get him riled up. But then, when his lawyer tried to compare his allergy to schizophrenia, he cracked. Jimmy keeping his cell phone in his pocket and having the battery planted on Chuck by his familiar associate showed the lengths he went to in order to set this all up, but it seems to have worked, since the look on everyone’s faces, particularly the panel’s, said it all. Ending with Chuck still sitting on the witness stand was a harrowing and powerful way to close out the hour, and one thing is clear from all this: Chuck and Jimmy’s relationship is never going to be able to be repaired.

What I’m Watching: The Great Indoors (Series Finale)

The Great Indoors: Season 1, Episode 22 “The Company Retreat” (B+)

When I wrote this review, this show hadn't yet been renewed or cancelled, but it was officially axed before the time I had scheduled it to post. I’ve enjoyed it and would have liked to see more of it, but I was already not feeling optimistic. This was a fitting ending in a lot of ways, if that’s what it is, giving us some romantic closure and sending Jack back out into the wild, even just for a few months. When Clark was talking about making a mistake at the company retreat, I had flashbacks to his debut film role in “Superbad” where Jonah Hill excitedly declared, “We could be that mistake!” Calling Greg to let him know that he was making his move was hardly a productive thing, but I like that when he showed up and they were about to fight, they decided just to hug instead. Emma overhearing everything and then kissing Clark was wonderful, and I’m glad that she does remember it even if she’s pretending that she blacked out. I love that Jack, in his own words, Clarked it and called Paul rather than kiss Brooke when the moment was right, and it seems like the long-delayed couple may work out after all. The goodbye to Jack, complete with Clark hiding in his duffel bag, was fun, and if that’s the last we see of this show, it would be a satisfying end. I never expected to enjoy this show so much. Since it got cancelled, I'll be sure to remember it fondly.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Clark

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 3, Episode 18 “Chapter Sixty-Two” (B+)

This episode’s specific themed hook played out mostly in the background, but I did still enjoy that one brief scene with Xiomara, Alba, and Rogelio wearing wigs to look like characters from “Sex and the City” as a nod to Jane’s new online columnist gig. Sex was definitely on Jane’s mind, and she almost had a perfect opportunity for a wild night with Fabian when he stripped naked in mere moments. Unfortunately, leaving led to him getting way too into a serious relationship, filled with book recommendations and meals with his abuela. Jumping on the couch to profess his affection was a little much, and all Jane wanted was a fling anyway. My favorite Fabian moment was his pronunciation of “genre.” I’m very happy to see that Xiomara and Rogelio are increasingly on the same page as their views about their wedding change, and it’s a relief that at least one relationship is, at least for the moment, drama-free. It seems that Chuck might not be such a bad guy after all, though he did appear very villainy and creepy as soon as we knew the truth about him. I’m eager to see what happens with Rafael and Petra since that’s looking likelier to materialize by the minute. Mateo being told by other kids at school that he was artificial was an interesting jumping-off point for Jane and Rafael to have to tackle the conversation of just how he came into this world. I think they did a pretty good job in the end.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 20 “City of Lost Children” (B)

I usually wait until an episode ends to look up who an actor or actress I recognize is if I can’t figure it out by then, but it was bothering me too much over the course of this hour to wait. It turns out that Marcus was played by Lonnie Chavis, who is extremely well-known now for playing the young Randall on “This Is Us.” James, who has been feeling sidelined in his Guardian gig since he first started and Kara didn’t approve of it, got to make a great connection with the kid, giving him some affirmation following crime victims being more scared of him than their attackers. It’s convenient when a few plotlines all converge together to be related, even if what’s happening is immensely problematic. After giving Lena a solid pep talk, Rhea went full-on evil, convincing Mon-El not to shoot her and summoning all of the Daxamite ships from all over the galaxy to come invade Earth as their new planet. With just two episodes left in this season, it’s clear that this is going to be the focus for everyone to rally against. Winn’s dampener won’t even be that helpful anymore since the portal already opened up to bring the ships there, and now they’re going to have to come up with an entirely new solution, especially with Hank incapacitated. On a completely different note, it was jarring to hear Lena and Kara talking about an NSYNC reunion – it’s always strange to think that these things exist in this show’s universe.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 6, Episode 4 “Justice” (B+)

The way that the plot of this episode started out was clever, with Mike, always one to deny everything that he’s accused of even if he hasn’t actually been accused of it, accidentally starting a rumor that Selina was being considered for a vacant spot on the Supreme Court. Selina’s reckless decision to abandon both her library and her book because this was going to be her legacy instead backfired, and instead she ended up getting her biggest investor, who was hardly the most sophisticated or funny character on this show, to go with Jonah instead. I love that Jonah’s complete inability to understand Daylight Saving Time – Ken hilariously underscored its singular grammatical nature – led to him being gifted with a piece of legislation from those who wanted to reduce government control over things like the time. His term has turned out to be one of the best parts of this season so far. Amy’s return to Selina’s side hasn’t worked out all that well for her, as she’s competing with a hapless but totally polite Richard, who for some reason is the one person that Selina doesn’t despise. Hughes getting the seat is the biggest blow possible to Selina, who awkwardly had to try to be nice to Gary when his heart attack ended up being worse than hers. Dan’s reaction to the news that his sperm wasn’t going to cut it was particularly crude, and even though he’s doing well at work now that he’s on Jane’s good side, he’s going to miss it up by going to great lengths to prove that they’re not sleeping together.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 4, Episode 3 “Intellectual Property” (B+)

Walking to the doctor because he felt like he might as well be walking somewhere was a sure sign that Richard isn’t in good shape, though I’ll admit that the great volume of TV that I’ve been watching had me confused for a minute since I thought Andy Daly was a compulsive masturbator, but that’s the forensic tech character that he played on “Trial and Error.” Richard’s antics have taken him far, and going to Gavin’s home to pitch some sort of partnership is a brash decision that’s sure to come with strings attached. I like that Monica being the only person food shopping for herself was what inspired her to get overheard by Ed so that an unexpectedly pregnant Laurie would give her another chance with the See-food app. Erlich redirecting his pitch was clever to a point, but it’s going to combust if the other guys in the incubator don’t step up to help him, which they don’t have much reason to do. Big Head going to apply at Stanford to make his dad happy and ending up with an accidental guest lecturer position was pretty entertaining, and I think he’s quickly becoming my favorite character. I just saw the incredible movie “The Big Sick” starring Kumail Nanjiani, which opens is June, and it’s hard to look at Dinesh the same way. I thought that Gilfoyle was going to steal his new girlfriend, but instead they bonded over their shared hatred of him. The only problem is that Gilfoyle is very skilled at getting in Dinesh’s head, and he did just that by warning him that he could never break up with the hacker for fear of his life being ruined.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What I’m Watching: Billions (Season Finale)

Billions: Season 2, Episode 12 “Ball in Hand” (B+)

That scene at the very end of this episode perfectly encapsulates everything that happened up until this moment since the show started. Axe feels no remorse for what he’s done, and in fact isn’t really even worried about spending time behind bars after his oh-so-intellectual advice from Dollar Bill about what to do as it relates to your stomach before being arrested. And Chuck is fully aware that he’s likely to experience more career fallout than Axe as a result, but he’s fine with it, emphasizing that it’s all been worth it since he got to take Axe down with him. Ira was understandably furious at Chuck, and even though he’s going to recover, there’s no way he’ll ever forgive him. Chuck Sr.’s parting words for his son were particularly harsh and equally fitting. Somehow, Wendy isn’t all that upset, and she was there just as Axe got arrested, hugging him and telling him that it would all be okay. It is extremely interesting to see the triumvirate of Wags, Taylor, and Wendy taking the reins without missing a beat at Axe Capital, with Dollar Bill offering surprising loyalty and deference to Taylor’s proven expertise. Lara hiring Orrin as her lawyer showed where her priorities are, and Axe is not going to find a friendly home waiting for him when he gets released. With all the other shows I watch being cancelled recently, I’m glad to see that this one will be back again, having been renewed for a third season way back in March. I look forward to its return.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Damian Lewis as Axe

What I’m Watching: The Leftovers

The Leftovers: Season 3, Episode 4 “G’day Melbourne” (B)

Well, at least this episode was a bit more focused than the last hour. There did seem to be something sketchy about Nora wanting to go through global entry other than the factual inconsistency that usually the TSA agent checks your ID once you’re already in the appropriate line, and her nonchalance about having gone through security with twenty thousand dollars duct-taped to her body was quite disconcerting. Trying to bust the frauds she believes that she’s meeting with seems like a foolish enterprise, and I think she was actually more interested in proving that it was real. When they wouldn’t take her because she failed the question about what to do with the twins, she was furious, and now it seems that she stayed in a burning hotel because there wasn’t any reason to move, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen to her. Kevin, meanwhile, encountered Evie and got confirmation that she was real, only to have Laurie go along with it and then help him notice at just the right moment that she didn’t look anything like Evie. I’m not sure how to reconcile the discrepancy between this being a hallucination and Nora actually being an Australian woman at the end of the first episode, but I guess we’re getting closer to finding out. The excitement Kevin Sr. displayed when he showed up with Grace to pick Kevin up from the hotel was genuine, and I suspect that Kevin is about to make some big realizations on the other side of the world.

What I’m Watching: Making History (Penultimate Episode)

Making History: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Duel” (B+)

I’m very sad to report that this is the second-to-last episode of this show, since it wasn’t renewed by FOX and tonight it’s pre-empted by the Miss USA pageant before its final installment next Sunday. I’ve really enjoyed this show, and thus far it’s the saddest cancellation of the season for me. This episode was fun because it featured the time-displaced Adams and Hancock entranced by the sight of Melanie the water deliverer, who Deborah also likes a lot, and then deciding to have a duel over her. Shooting Dan and Chris with paintball guns while trying to teach them a lesson was a humorous way for it to end, though it was rather depressing to see Chris with both eyes covered crying at home on his birthday. I much preferred the plotline opened up by Dan’s short-sighted attempt to get publicity for the ice cream shop. It’s great to see Natalie Morales, a very reliable guest and recurring player on a number of TV shows, as the reporter who’s on to the fact that there’s something very weird about what Dan and Deborah are up to, as prompted right away by their inability to agree on where they met. Adams and Hancock deciding to stay in the present and run away is only going to tip her off more, and I do hope that the finale is able to fittingly conclude this show and that thread in particular. Either way, I look forward to one more shot at half an hour of this entertaining silliness.