Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 3 “Two Broken Fingers” (B+)

Everything really is connected, though of course the writers on this show have the opportunity to link it all together because they’re the ones writing it. Panto Trost got hit by a car being driven by Suzie’s son, her zombified husband runs the motel where our friends were staying, and Dirk Gently, once again, is at the center of it all. Though she’s far less impressive inside a prison cell, it was great to see Bart show up and repeatedly mention how she was just going around killing people, prompting these truly superb police officers to leave her all alone in the jail while running around investigating things with their other prisoners. Tina offering Farah weed gummies while having her hold her gun in the passenger seat was among the hour’s most entertaining moments. Suzie is trying to step back up the social ladder with her newfound powers, but she’s doing more damage than good, particularly with the women of the book club who she used to call friends. She doesn’t even know what she’s dealing with, since it’s apparently the wand itself and not her that has the powers, and Mage is back and ready to reclaim this weapon. As Hugo haplessly played with his toy, Mr. Priest switched into lethal mode against orders, but fortunately Amanda hoping that something would happen led to her and Vogle getting transported somewhere else, an exciting development that seems to have left Mr. Priest quite riled up and ready to use even more force to take out this threat.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 3 “Chapter Sixty-Seven” (B+)

Some of our plotlines are moving remarkably fast, with important developments that present irreversible consequences for the relationships involved. The two most unfortunate run-ins happened when Mateo heard that Rafael didn’t like Adam and when a very bold Katherine decided to confront Jane on as a rageaholic when Rafael told her that Jane had a three-week rule about meeting Mateo. Adam did a fantastic job when he was around Mateo, talking about his superpowers and even impressing Rafael, and his suspicious texts were explained away as a gesture of kindness to Jane. The fact that he’s panicking now is worrisome, but his speaking up and the putting off of the subsequent conversation give me hope that all is not lost for them. I’m much more concerned about Rafael’s response to Katherine crossing the line with Jane since she doesn’t appear to have any endearing qualities, representing a whole different kind of likeable villainy than Petra did way back in the day. I’m no fan of Magda, and therefore I’m hopeful that she and Anezka will head back to the Czech Republic soon, and the arrival of Rose’s muscle can’t be good news for anyone. Darcy’s pregnancy felt like the biggest beneficiary of the fast-forwarding done by the narrator in this episode, and while it ended with two naked men in the birthing pool and a baby that came out very quickly, it also seems to have left Rogelio in love with his new child - understandably - and Xiomara worried about being left on the sidelines. They’ve made it through worse, but this could be a rocky patch.

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3, Episode 3 “Josh is a Liar” (B)

This is definitely the simplest title an episode of this show has ever featured. This is also the closest Rebecca has ever been to having all of her dirty secrets aired in public, and the episode’s ending, featuring Paula, Valencia, Heather, and Darryl all showing up to confront Rebecca after Father Brah called Paula to reveal the contents of Trent’s dossier. I was almost sure that it was going to be full of nothing since Trent didn’t actually want to ruin Rebecca’s life but rather just scare Josh away, and I can’t imagine that what’s happening now is what he desired. Rebecca pushed the “Josh is a liar” angle pretty hard and managed to get a scathing article discrediting him published very quickly, and even if some of the things in there were untrue, his friends seemed angry enough at the insinuation of motivations behind behaviors with which they were all too familiar. I’m not too fond of Rebecca hallucinating the younger version of herself and speaking out loud to her, and so I’m hopeful that device will be dropped quickly. Things are going to change going forward since her friends are now aware of her past, which is almost more problematic than everything that happened with Josh, and so I have no idea what will come next. I like that George is back as a regular player, advising a very overeager Nathaniel on how to power through rejection. He’s doing his best to sweep Rebecca off her feet, and I feel like he’s going to run if he finds out what she’s been through (or he’ll find it oddly attractive). His “I go to the zoo” song was weird but fun. I also liked Heather’s sudden focus on not being a student anymore, something that should hopefully allow her to pursue new plotlines since she really isn’t featured all that much.

Monday, October 30, 2017

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

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 1 “Chapter Nine: Madmax” (B+)

After waiting a full year to watch this show because I thought it was horror, I’m happy to report that, less than two months after wrapping season one, I’m completely on board for season two. I’m pleased to see that the horror elements are getting less and less prominent, and instead we have some more science fiction-style developments, namely with the introduction of another member of the experiment who was able to make a cop think that he saw a tunnel collapse only to reveal that nothing had happened save for his own cessation of the chase. It’s weird to see Will around and hanging out with his friends again, though he is in a different frame of mind considering his frequent trips to the freaky upside-down that happen in the middle of trips to the arcade and other social activities. I enjoyed Nancy’s attempt to give Steve some edits on his paper, and it seems that the moderately good guy is still around and still just as idiotic. There are a few new faces on the show, including Sean Astin as Joyce’s new boyfriend who is the definition of uncool per her sons, Paul Reiser as the doctor who checks in on him and is definitely involved in some sinister things, and Brett Gelman as the man touting Russian conspiracy theories about Eleven. Of course this show would introduce a new mystery girl at school who becomes the subject of the boys’ fascination primarily because they think that she beat the high score on their favorite videogame. The best surprise of the episode was saved for last, as Hopper returned home to his cabin in the woods to greet his live-in companion: none other than Eleven, who apparently isn’t trapped in the upside-down but is very much alive with a full head of hair! I’m excited to see what’s to come this season.

Take Three: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 3 (B)

I was wondering when Anna Torv of “Fringe” fame would show up, since I’m always surprised when notable streaming stars don’t appear for a few episodes because it takes me a few weeks to meet them as compared with most viewers who binge and finish the season is days or hours. Her Dr. Wendy Carr is changing the game in a big way for Holden, who never would have thought that people would be interested in reading a book on the work they’re doing. Of course, said book is the basis for this show, so that’s good to know, but I think it will definitely help to have a purpose for the research they’re conducting other than just separate interviews that aren’t as formal as Wendy would have expected. Bill was right to remark that they shouldn’t give killers notice that they’re going to interview them since they might decline, and for the moment they pretty much just have Kemper to regale them with stories of murder while they’re eating pizza with him in jail. Even if he isn’t a terribly affectionate or complimentary boss, Bill did commend Hold by asserting that he was a great FBI agent because Kemper thought that Holden was his friend. As Bill realizes that their work is worthwhile, Holden is ready to push the boundaries further, changing terms of deviancy after being inspired by a joke about sex in his own life. I’m sure he’ll get some flak down the road for that, but it also shows a dynamic perspective on what it means to stray from the norm and how those definitions shape truly deviant behavior.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 4, Episode 6 “I Never Promised You a Promised Land” (B+)

This family has trouble getting along when it’s just the American branch in California, and when they’re in Israel with cousins and siblings they didn’t even know existed, it’s a wonder that everyone made it through unscathed. The bus ride was particularly compelling to watch, as the security guard challenged Ali’s use of what he claimed to be a made-up word – Palestinians – as she argued that one oppression didn’t justify another, Josh suggested they destroy all the buildings and start from scratch, and Sarah just wanted to have a dance party. Speaking of Sarah, she and Len had quite the Skype sex session with Lila, prompting Len to hilariously decry that wi-fi in Israel sucks. He also made the latest Israel-U.S. comparison by identifying their Jerusalem experience as like visiting Venice Beach, while Sarah compared the Western Well to an Orthodox Jewish Disneyland. Ali’s experience at the Western Wall was particularly fascinating, since she didn’t like the gender inequality she saw there, and her decision to put on a yarmulke and head over to the men’s side seemed to give her enormous fulfillment. No one noticed or said anything, and I think that the dual function of being able to defy norms and to feel what it’s like to live in a different skin of sorts made it a very valuable experience. As the family continues their Moshe-organized tour, including a sleepover at the Bedouin tents, Ali and everyone else are sure to have many more complicated feelings towards what it is that they’re seeing and experiencing.

What I’m Watching: Narcos

Narcos: Season 3, Episode 9 “Todos Los Hombres del Presidente” (B+)

Talk about a stressful hour. After so many innocent people have lost their lives, it’s good to see the good guys win for a while, even if that victory was detracted from substantially by the fact that Crosby has been aware the whole time of the corruption at the top of the government which he ignored and even endorsed. The brutal fridge delivery was Miguel’s last destructive act before he got behind bars, and just like the apprehension of Gilbero, this has highly dramatized in extraordinary fashion as he seemed to be making a getaway only to be sideswiped and then taken in before the show did its usual effective cut to real news footage of his capture. David’s paranoia, it turned out, was legitimate, and it’s a good thing that Miguel didn’t have time to suffocate Jorge before Feistl got there and that Van Ness made it to his home to protect his family just moments before David arrived ready to shoot the place up. If I haven’t said it already, Matias Varela is the undisputed MVP of this season for his performance as Jorge, who stayed cool under pressure before surviving what seemed like his final moments. The second most memorable player of the season had a great scene at the end of this episode, and that was Pêpê Rapazote as Chepe, who called the police on himself and then treated them to a meal before he let himself get arrested. With Gilberto and Miguel reunited in jail and the other two on their way there, Pena should be celebrating, though I imagine he’s realizing that the next big takedown is going to be of an operation that the United States expressly helped to create.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 2, Episode 7 “Blackout” (B+)

I liked this episode a lot, since it featured a minor catastrophe and Sam’s typically casual reaction to it, followed by some unexpected intimacy that didn’t go as anyone planned. After Frankie tricked her mom into throwing her phone in the sink so that she’d have to buy her a new one, making smoothies and watching TV were suddenly off the table thanks to a power outage. The way that Sam speaks to her daughters isn’t entirely her own fault – they do make some dramatic accusations. Max seemed to think it was a nuclear strike and they were all going to die, and Frankie was preoccupied with Sam saying they weren’t going to die and then it coming true anyway, while Duke was as usual the most relaxed of the three. After Sam left with Jeff, the conversation took a more mature direction, with Jeff summing up that the worst part about divorce was being asked about it all the time when Sam wasn’t at all interested in talking about Xander and his relationship with his daughters. Running into Robin at the hardware store was extremely awkward, particularly because Sam didn’t bother to clarify that she wasn’t dating Jeff. When he made a move in the car, Sam had quite the reaction, repeating “no” over and over while holding her hand over his mouth until he came out with a poorly thought-out “Well…” and then proceeded to say some rather blunt and vile things that made her laugh to think that she even considered something happening between them. “I think that we should bone mainly because I really want to bone you right now” was the truly classic and memorable line of the hour.

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 9, Episode 5 “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying” (B+)

There are so many things about this show, including this episode’s admittedly clever title, that serve as reminders that it was born out of the 1990s, and it really is wonderful to see that so much of it still works today. Maybe taking a decade off is just what other shows that had gone on past their primes need, but something tells me that this show is special. We got a rare glimpse of Will’s work life, which seemed truly miserable and isolating, and then Will broke down at exactly the wrong moment when Grace’s prospective new client, Eli Wolff, played by Max Greenfield from “New Girl,” came over for their date. Fortunately, Will forgave Grace quickly after she realized that she was a piece of trash for not even asking if he had made partner, and they’re about to embark on an exciting collaboration that’s going to drive Will crazy since he’s not used to going out on a limb and taking a chance. Leslie Jordan’s Beverly Leslie is always a welcome guest, and addressing his closeted homosexuality was mildly amusing if only for his denial and Karen’s pointed insistence. Also, the actor is only sixty-two years old in real life, not ninety like his character. As usual, Sean Hayes helped to enhance an only moderately-appealing plotline in which his dollar helped a colleague win a $2,000 lottery prize. He played the scene where we walked in sipping from the tiny espresso cup perfectly. This show also isn’t afraid to address so many political themes, including how you can’t hit gay or black people (sort of).

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 2, Episode 7 “Janet and Michael” (B+)

I really like this show, but I feel like each episode flies by and I want to spend much more time with all of our characters. We didn’t actually see the humans for most of the half-hour, and instead got to focus on two immortal beings and their relationship. Michael is a great, dynamic villain for this show since he’s really not all that bad, and seeing how far he’s come with his feelings towards Janet makes him even more sympathetic. I like the way in which she’s glitching, as well as seeing how a Bad Janet’s head literally crumpled when she tried to be nice rather than stick to her original programming. Michael did a great job deducing what she was doing that didn’t align with her directives, and her refusal to accept it was very entertaining. I love the notion that there are emotions and relationships that transcend timelines and memories, and that Janet formed a connection with Jason after growing close to him over the course of the eight hundred reboots. After getting some questionable advice from Eleanor, naturally Janet would respond in a way only she could by creating a person out of thin air. In an instance of truly superb casting that this show has become known for, Jason Mantzoukas from “I’m Sorry” and “Sleeping with Other People” is the one to play Derek, who bears a lot of similarities to the Jason on this show. I can’t I imagine that having a boyfriend is going to prevent Janet from glitching further, but it should be fun to watch.

What I’m Watching: You’re the Worst

You’re the Worst: Season 4, Episode 8 “Worldstar!” (B+)

So much for the sweet romance that was the rekindling of Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship with their episode-ending phone call. They stayed on the phone throughout the night, but Gretchen’s conversational attempts were drowned out by Jimmy’s very loud snoring. He was so excited when he showed up later, thrilled about his book and ready to get back together with Gretchen, and it’s a real shame that Max felt the need to tell him that Boone showed up to the party. Jimmy’s decision to call Catherine because of how much better he was doing than her was a poor, embarrassing one, and it turns out that, not only had she become very successful, she was quite mean. Even though she claimed she would never go for it, they did have some hate sex, which Gretchen showed up to see and instead of running, she decided to stick around and allow herself some twisted pleasure from watching it. There’s not much hope for these two. I also don’t know what to make of Edgar’s decision to exert a bizarre elitist power over his fellow veteran, paying him $50 to speak the chimichurri sauce on his steak in front of a wowed Max (who I don’t particularly like as a character, by the way). Fortunately, things are looking up for Lindsay and Becca, who got off to a rough start when Lindsay was robbed of her speech opportunity when her mom was there and then got her anger rejected before things devolving into a physical altercation. Walking in on Vernon masturbating to a video of their mother actually helped to cut the tension, and watching the video of their mother neglecting them was actually quite therapeutic for all involved, something that could only happen on this show.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 3 “eps3.2_legacy.so” (B+)

This show has never been one to present its events in a linear fashion, and therefore I’d argue that this is the most straightforward, comprehensible hour this show has produced yet. It’s ironic since it fills in the many things that it left unknown before now, tracing the entire trajectory of Tyrell Wellick when he was absent for all but the final moments of the second season. It’s incredible to see the devotion he expresses for Elliot based mainly on the fact that the gun jammed when Mr. Robot tried to shoot him. While I don’ think Mr. Robot values him nearly as much, he did seem satisfied with the notion of him being the perfect kind of crazy who could protect “me from me.” The fact that he wanted to get dressed up and look his best when he finally saw Elliot afte so long was Anytime we see Bobby Cannavale’s Irving is more than fine by me, and he did quite a job controlling Tyrell, telling him invented stories about his nonexistent children and bringing him Swedish Fish so that he would feel like he was back at home. The fact that he’s writing a novel is interesting, and I wonder if we’ll ever see more of that. I also liked seeing Wallace Shawn as another fixer who hit Tyrell with question after question about Sharon, his wife, and his loyalty, which he kept putting off until he finally cracked and said that he was loyal to Elliot. Tyrell’s decision to venture out into civilization resulted in a broken finger and a dead cop, and the revelation that Agent Santiago is working against the FBI’s best interests, putting Dom in more danger than we realized. Hearing that Whiterose wanted to back Trump as a candidate for president was intriguing, since only this show could insert a transformative event like his election as a believable piece of its narrative.

What I’m Watching: Liar

Liar: Season 1, Episode 5 “Checkmate” (B)

I’m still puzzled a bit by the focus of this show, but this episode took things to an irreversible place where both Laura and Vanessa are certain that Andrew raped them and he isn’t doing much to deny it, only to suggest that they’re not going to be able to prove it. Fortunately, Rory didn’t hesitate when Vanessa told him what she suspected, and so hopefully he’ll prove to be just the ally they need when it comes time to try to nail Andrew for his crimes. Laura finding out about Tom and Katy led to a huge blowout for all parties involved, and watching Laura react was particularly harrowing since this is the opposite of what she needs right now, and she’s lost her number one confidante. As soon as she showed up to the bar where Andrew was, I thought to myself that they really shouldn’t be meeting like this. For her to suggest that he give her a ride home was crazy, but not as much as injecting him with the GHB so that she could bring him to a remote location and tie him up. She did make some good points about the specifics of consent before she taunted him and made him think that she was going to kill him, and he wasn’t shy about freely admitting that he dared his wife to kill herself and couldn’t believe she actually went through with it. The fact that Laura has to lie to get people to believe her is truly lamentable, and this show sort of turned into a horror movie when Andrew got loose and told her not to run. Vanessa’s timing was fortuitous, and it’s just a matter of whether Laura’s ill-advised action will now make it impossible for them to take him down. The season is already over in the UK, and I’m pleased to report that it’s been renewed for a second season. Even if I haven’t been sure about this season’s direction, I do think this show is worth watching.

Round Two: Loudermilk

Loudermilk: Season 1, Episode 2 “Shark Week” (B+)

This show held up well in its second episode, which proved that anyone in Loudermilk’s immediate vicinity really isn’t a great person. Ben in particular played a big role in this episode, making things difficult for Claire because he wasn’t being straight with his roommate. After he enjoyed a more casual drink when Allison came to knock on their door at the end of the last episode, he now was drinking far more generously during the day, which proved problematic when Claire showed up to use the bathroom. He didn’t have to work hard to convince Loudermilk that it was Claire’s bottle and not his, and it seems that this “vision quest” trick is commonplace and did manage to keep her sober without her realizing. She’s got quite the personality of her own, hilariously demonstrated by her unwillingness to move during her first group session which resulted in her being physically picked up by the big guy who wanted her seat and deposited on another chair. Allison asking Loudermilk to sign a copy of his book was a good sign for the development of a relationship, but when her ER doctor boyfriend answered the door, he ripped that front page right out. I love that even the priest swears at Loudermilk since he knows he’s a jerk, and I hope that we’ll see snippets of Loudermilk espousing sensibilities like those expressed by Larry David on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” at the beginning of each episode. Loudermilk’s fury at being given directions “as the crow flies” was fantastic.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 2, Episode 5 “Brothers” (B+)

This was a helpful episode for explaining the relationship between Randall and Kevin, starting at a point when Kevin was very meant to his brother while Randall was making lists of things he could stop doing so that he wouldn’t be perceived as annoying and ending up in the present where Randall is doing a great job of being a dad under difficult circumstances and Kevin is spiraling out of control. Déjà’s eagerness to go to the gala was a great opportunity for Randall to step in, and he did the right thing by standing outside the bathroom and hearing her when she said that he couldn’t grab her like that because of bad experiences she had in her previous foster home. We haven’t seen Sophie in a while, and while her reintroduction in this hour started off in a semi-comic way with an auction featuring Kevin as the hot ticket, it turned much more sour when Kevin was on the phone trying to get a refill he wasn’t eligible for of painkillers. Kevin needs some serious help, and I’m not sure that anyone is paying enough attention to help him get it. Jack deciding to be a good father to his sons rather than be there for the father who was never there for him said something about his commitment to family, and it seems that he had a brother who we’ve never heard mentioned in the past, who seemingly isn’t alive anymore but I imagine we’ll still meet in some time period. Toby’s reaction to Kate telling him she was pregnant, after he threw everything off his desk, was fantastic, and hopefully she’ll appreciate his celebration in the bar and not be too thrown off by his enthusiasm. I’m not too fond of the support group meetings and Madison, and I think her spat with Kate ending in a joint moment of happiness was the weak point of this episode.

Friday, October 27, 2017

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 3 “Zari” (B+)

I like that time travel on this show isn’t limited just to the past, and going to 2042 proved to be a real adventure for the legends. The Metahuman Act of 2021 seems like very bad news for anyone we know with powers, but fortunately that didn’t hinder their ability to try to get the job done. Gary is truly inept and is in good company with the legends, who, thanks to Ray, immediately revealed to Zari. Fortunately, this show is adding a new cast member to its regular roster, and that’s Tala Ashe as Zari, who, like a few of the legends, didn’t have the smoothest introduction to the group but should do just fine, especially since Mick likes her, which is no small feat. I think Amaya will be equally happy to have her on board, since Nate helping her hallucinate was a kind gesture but won’t do much for her in the long run. I’m pleased to report that Kuasa, the meta created by or summoned by the witch at the end of the last episode, is turning out to be a cool villain, capable of awesome manipulation of water to her advantage and able to hold her own in hand-to-hand combat with Sara. Is she the one who has just met an all-too-eager young Ray years earlier? That doesn’t seem like it’s going to play out well. Sara demonstrated her resilience in this episode with one hell of a performance in a game of chicken with Agent Sharpe.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 4, Episode 3 “Luck Be a Lady” (B+)

This episode started out on a surprisingly comic note, with the Thinker, as he’s apparently called, trying to make the best of a story about literally the unluckiest person in the world. It turned out into a very effective and strong episode as her biggest weakness ended up correlating directly to her newfound power, since her lucky streak was everyone else’s worst day. Even Barry was slipping and sliding as a result of being in her vicinity, and the fact that she was winning so big had an intense exponential effect on all of Central City, including Joe’s rapidly collapsing house. Tying in the loss of two wedding venues for Barry and Iris was fun since it showed just how much of a mess it’s all become, and hopefully they’ll be back on track to get married the way they both want after Iris tried to rush a funeral and move past a priest choking so that they could get it over with before there were any more interruptions. Cisco and Harry bickering led to a great moment where Harry made the right call to save the date, and I’m glad to see that this show can’t lose Tom Cavanagh no matter how many of his characters it kills off. Jesse breaking up with Wally was an unfortunate development – delivered horribly by her father – and Wally was right to speak up and announce his decision to leave since no one even noticed he was gone. I’m glad that our characters are going to take a proactive approach to finding the other affected metas from the bus, and hopefully they can have the upper hand for once, though the Mechanic and the Thinker are watching and know what progress they’ve made. The look on Joe’s face when he heard that Cecile was pregnant was unforgettable, and that’s a plot twist that’s going to change the dynamic of things on this show in a big way.

Pilot Review: Loudermilk

Loudermilk (Audience Network)
Premiered October 17 at 10:30pm

Here’s the second Audience Network comedy I didn’t get a chance to review last week, and I’m thrilled to report that this one is infinitely better than the other one. The opening featured a pretty memorable exchange about chivalry and the selfishness of coming in with a coffee order for one hundred people, and this show did its best to very quickly and effectively portray Sam Loudermilk as a despicable person, who does things like push old men down the stairs. He strikes me as a cross between David Duchovny’s Hank on “Californication” and Hank Azaria’s title character on “Brockmire,” meaning well but not trying all that hard to make sure that his self-serving actions aren’t misunderstood as what they really are. The fact that he runs an organization that helps people and that he leads AA meetings makes him very interesting, and I think that Ron Livingston, recently seen in a very different but equally memorable role on “Search Party,” is absolutely the right person to play this character, a far cry from his signature “Office Space” character. The summary of this show on epguides.com explains that Loudermilk puts the “S.O.B. in sobriety,” and I think that’s a fitting way of summing up this show’s warped sense of humor. I’m not sure yet what will come of the focus on his friend Ben or the new neighbor he’s trying and failing to impress, Allison, but I think there’s something very substantial here. I’ll certainly be back to check out episode two, which conveniently is already available and will be reviewed shortly!

How will it work as a series? Maintaining his sobriety is probably the least of Loudermilk’s challenges since he has to keep his group together and try - hard - not to offend every person with whom he comes into contact. Watching him navigate that should be very entertaining, and this show feels fresh enough to sustain itself.
How long will it last? Without much to go off in terms of ratings data, I’ll point to the simple fact that this show got much better reviews that its lead-in series, “Hit the Road,” and therefore it’s likely that Audience Network will choose to invest in seeing where it goes. I’d hope for and expect a renewal.

Pilot grade: B+

Pilot Review: Hit the Road

Hit the Road (Audience Network)
Premiered October 17 at 10pm

This is one of two new comedies on Audience Network that I’m a bit late on reviewing since I neglected to watch them right away. This one has the draw of starring Jason Alexander, most well-known for his role as George Costanza on “Seinfeld.” Since then, he has anchored two sitcoms, “Bob Patterson” and “Listen Up,” neither of which made it past a first season. I certainly hope the same fate will befall this show, because it’s truly awful. What might have originally been titled “The Swallows” is a truly unfunny and very crowded show about a family of musicians on the road with a bit of talent but no sense of decorum or decency. It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s so bad about this show, but I’d start with its profane nature. It’s meant to stand in stark contrast to the family image that they’re trying to create which is contradicted constantly by the things they do and in particular by Ken’s cursing tirade during a radio interview. The depravity also feels very dated, with Ken pretending that his very gullible adopted son had AIDS to garner sympathy promotion, and an exchange of sexual favors that comes off as especially ill-timed with all the recent sexual harassment scandals and would certainly not be portrayed as funny if Ken weren’t male. I think I’d like this show better if it starred the cast and characters of “Shameless,” since these people are just unlikeable and not the ones to carry whatever this show was supposed to be.

How will it work as a series? They’re going to keep having to do ridiculous things as they struggle to put together a tour, and going to Idaho because Ken read it off a magazine isn’t likely to pan out very well. There are sure to be hijinks along the way that should provide material, but I can’t imagine it will be funny.
How long will it last? I can’t find much in the way of ratings data, but the reviews are expectedly poor. I don’t think that Alexander is the hook that people think he is, not when he’s in this kind of role, at least. With a stronger series airing after this one, I suspect that Audience will opt not to keep this one on the road.

Pilot grade: F

Thursday, October 26, 2017

What I’m Watching: Me, Myself, and I

Me, Myself, and I: Season 1, Episode 5 “Family Tree” (B+)

Now here’s a situation where Abby is considerably more excited about something than Alex, and where he has to let her call the shots to come to terms with an earth-shattering revelation. That question about what each person thought when they first met their child quickly led to the accidental disclosure of Ron’s status as Alex’s stepdad, and, for as much time as this show spends focused on the unified parenting force of Ron and Maggie, no real mention has been made previously of Alex’s father, who seemed like he was going to make an appearance in this episode and then didn't when Abby decided to accept the family she already had as real enough. The younger version of Alex is just as insatiable as Abby, eager to go to every event that just happens to conflict which something that’s going on in the household. Maggie was much more excited about participating in the talent show with their new extended family - and quite ferocious in her demonstration of krav maga - and it was nice to see that, after he saw the thoughtful gift Ron had gotten him to make up for the missed outing, Alex let loose and perform the MC Hammer routine. In the future, it was fun to see Alex try to behave around Abby’s latest boyfriend after a humorous montage of all the ones who came before him that Alex disliked for a number of miniscule reasons. Abby realizing that this guy wasn’t as “magnificent” as he claimed was a great way to show that father and daughter do agree on some things. The best moment of the episode was Ron celebrating Justin’s point that there were actually 365 other days that year.

What I’m Watching: The Gifted

The Gifted: Season 1, Episode 4 “eXit strategy” (B+)

Okay, so now we’re getting somewhere. This episode started with another cool power, which involved the ability to see far and hinder the eyesight of those in the distance, which turned into something far more dangerous for mutantkind. It was reminiscent of but far better-executed than a similar dampener on “Heroes Reborn,” and Pulse is actually a person who, for some reason, has been corrupted to work for Sentinel Services, which of course has no problem employing a mutant as long as he’s using his powers to prohibit other mutants from using theirs. Not a great move by the guard in the truck to take off Polaris’ collar since her powers weren’t going to work anyway, and she had a lot of fun when her abilities returned. Reed proved his trustworthiness by offering up the metal in his leg, whose removal looked quite painful. I started calling Lauren and Andy the Wonder Twins in my mind when they began using their powers together, and now the entire family has been reunited. Jace went from a “shoot to kill” order to telling his men to stand down, and now he’s really, really angry about the escape and ready to turn his not-quite wrath on anyone who even thinks about helping mutants. Hopefully our friends can all settle down somewhere for a bit and regroup, get to know each other, decide who’s in charge, and come up with some plan for how they’re going to continue to survive when they’re being hunted by those who aren’t just seeking to understand them.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 3, Episode 3 “Far from the Tree” (B)

Forget the fact that Hank and Kara drove to Mars in a classic car reminiscent of the super-powered vehicle from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” For me, this was a flashback to 2002 when I got into two popular, award-winning hip shows of the time thanks to the two guest stars who played never-before-seen characters of two increasingly relevant characters. The first was Carl Lumbly, who played the endearing Dixon on “Alias,” who here starred as Hank’s father, another Green Martian to have survived despite the alleged extinction of the race. It was good to see Hank bond with someone since he doesn’t get that chance often, and maybe he’ll even become a recurring player at this point. The other visiting father is very unlikely to return thanks to his harsh reaction to his daughter living her life as a lesbian after he worked so hard to get acceptance of his foreign nationality, and he was played by Carlos Bernard, whose hairstyle is far more deliberate than when he went into the pilot episode of “24” without realizing that he wouldn’t be able to shave his soul patch for the entire season. Let’s hope that Maggie and Alex can overcome this latest hurdle since an intolerant father isn’t the biggest of their problems. The visit to Mars was fun but didn’t feel all that emphatic, and I’m more eager to get back to Earth and to get to know Samantha a bit more. Plus, we can see more of Lena and James struggling for control of Catco.

What I’m Watching: Good Behavior

Good Behavior: Season 2, Episode 2 “I Want You to Leave a Person Alive for Once” (B+)

I continue to value this show for its uniquely plot-driven nature, where the events are truly what guide the plot and compel the characters to do what they do. It is certainly hypocritical that Javier believes that he should be able to kill someone to get them the money needed for Jacob’s school - a big get considering how the receptionist who eagerly scheduled Jacob’s interview told someone over the phone mere moments earlier that there were absolutely no spots - but Letty wasn’t allowed to try her own illegal ways to come up with that sum. He does have a point that she’ll go to jail if she gets caught and lose Jacob forever, but he’s already being hunted by the FBI and he was seen by Carin’s daughter with Bryce as he jumped to his death. This was not a good situation at all since first Letty showed up and then Carin with the kids, and the only saving grace is that, aside from a witness not likely to be believed, and even less likely to speak up, he ended his life on his own with no visible foul play. It’s unfortunate that all this happened and involved Letty in a way that sent her back to a substance she really shouldn’t be touching. Jacob’s immediate defense of Javier was very logic-based, and I’m so curious about what comes next now that he told Javier and Letty what he was told. The introduction of Teo was extremely interesting to Ava’s daughters, and I wonder whether his connection to Javier is one that he still finds positive.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What I’m Watching: Vice Principals

Vice Principals: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Most Popular Boy” (B+)

I’ve never been happier to find out that I was wrong. I was ready to write this review approaching it as the second-to-last episode of this show, but it turns out there are actually three installments left! The way that this one ended left me feeling great about this show’s completely unique style thanks to the incomparable delivery of “Take a picture, it’ll last longer” to the gawking teachers from another school. Neal becoming popular is an interesting journey since it’s not actually what he’s always wanted, and only he and Amanda among the mob personified by the overly aggressive Ms. Abbott realized that not teaching to the tests meant not just Lee would fail but also the students. I’m not sure there’s a romantic ending in this for him and Amanda, but he did get an awkward hug of sorts at the end after he stepped in to help her. Lee and Christine seemed to be doing okay when Lee’s honesty led him to offer up to cook dinner, and the meal itself went great, until she realized that he had lied about the whole thing, prompting her to pick up and leave. It was triumphant to see him, in his misery, be on the right side of things with an enthusiastic Nash’s help so that this foursome was able to hilariously fill in all of the right answers on the tests - the kind of feat only possible in movies or television - so that the kids would pass and Lee wouldn’t get fired. I can’t say what’s going to happen next, but this was a great episode.

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 9, Episode 4 “Running with the Bulls” (B+)

This show is great at episode-long running jokes, and it also includes a few concepts that come up every few installments. The return of the fatwa was one such instance of the latter, when Larry mistook a funeral nod and caused a mass panic over an arm in a cast, and the death of Funkhouser’s nephew was something that no one directly blamed on Larry but which is sure to come up again soon, especially when Cheryl finds out that Larry was the one responsible for procuring him a prostitute. The casting of Bryan Cranston as his therapist Dr. Templeton was brilliant since the Emmy-winning actor, originally known for his “Malcolm in the Middle” comedy and now for his “Breaking Bad” drama, knew just how to respond to all of Larry’s stupid suggestions in therapy, like his concern over the lack of the 72nd virgin and his opinion that he bought the good chair for himself rather than his patients. The concept of “patient-doctor confidentiality” is hilarious, and I love that Larry’s attempt to show his respect for the made-up thing in earshot of Templeton made him look so suspicious that Susie knew something was up with Jeff. Forcing him to buy the house that was way out of his price range because she knew he was sleeping with the realtor was revenge fitting for this show. Larry’s long-running competition with Richard Lewis for the better seat was entertaining, and of course it blew up at the funeral when Larry’s bribe to reserve a seat didn’t work out too well.

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan: Season 5, Episode 11 “Michael” (B-)

As much as I want to, I don’t think I’m going to get what I want from Ray. His steely, uncommunicative nature is part of what makes him who he is, and therefore he naturally wouldn’t try to have a heart-to-heart with his daughter upon getting her released from jail for threatening someone at gunpoint, nor would he raise his voice at all to try to protest her decision to fly back to New York to be with a man she knows is going to die. The only person that Ray really opened up to was Abby, and now that he’s having dreams about Abby which allow Paula Malcolmson to use her real Northern Irish accent, he’s left with just a bottle of alcohol and few family members by his side. I’m not sure what Mickey thinks he’s going to do from inside prison to make Ray pay, and no one in the family is together at this point. Hopefully Bunchy and Teresa can make amends after her infidelity since he needs someone to be with right now, and I’d say that Maureen coming to Ray even though she and Terry are no longer together is a good sign. I don’t know what all that mime business with Terry was, and I think it’s just another indicator that the Donovan boys are losing their grip on reality. This show just got renewed for a sixth season, something I’m really not feeling like it needs at the moment, and so let’s hope for a fresh reboot that makes this show invigorating and enthralling again.

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

The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 1 “Mercy” (B)

Here we go again. I went into this episode without much excitement since I feel that, even more than rolling my eyes at how cyclical this show has become, I just don’t care what’s happening anymore. Negan is likely the most formidable, evil villain this show has seen yet, though I’m partial to the Governor’s first season since I think the show was much stronger back then. At this point, Rick has demonstrated something he hasn’t felt for a while, which is that he’s confident, and his people are organized. Negan didn’t seem bothered when they showed up, but he did run when Rick and crew started firing at them. Darryl riding and causing explosion after explosion to keep the walkers behind him was cool and seemed to serve some purpose, but Negan was still the one asking Gabriel if he brought the right pants because of the big surprise that he had in store for them. Gregory proved totally useless, trying to scare off the Hilltop residents and failing, and then bailing and taking one of the vehicles with him. There was something enticing about seeing Ezekiel, Jesus, Rick, Maggie, and Gabriel having a pow-wow before battle, but all the quick shots of the supporting characters reminds me how little we’ll learn of most of them before they disappear for episodes at a time and then return to be shot in the eye with an arrow. Our good guys aren’t being nice anymore, killing on sight and setting walkers on those they leave alive, and there’s an odd silver lining to all this, featuring a gray-haired Rick in some probably imagined future. I don’t get it, and I don’t think we’ll have clarity anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 6 “Lethe” (B)

This episode filled in some helpful information that proves I’m not a true Trekkie. Most loyal viewers of the franchise would have known right off the bat that Sarek was Spock’s father, but I just assumed that there was more than one Vulcan family in this universe. It turns out that’s not really the case, and though we haven’t yet and didn’t now see him, Michael was indeed raised as Spock’s older sister, and his status as a half-Vulcan forced Sarek to make the unfortunate choice to have Michael rejected from the Vulcan Academy. It’s interesting to see the strength of their bond play out as Sarek was nearly killed by a faction of his people against negotiation with the Klingons, and his mind was powerful enough to eject Michael from it even as he was dying. Michael’s conclusion was an important one, that she expected something from her father that she was never going to get in the same way that he held expectations of her that would never come to fruition for much more logical reasons. I hope we get to see of Mia Kirshner as her mother Amanda - I like the “24” and “L Word” actress, especially when she’s playing a normal character. While Sarek’s situation was regrettable, the rebellious Vulcan agents were correct to some degree, in that the Klingons truly can’t be trusted. It was brave of Admiral Cornwell to go to the negotiations in Sarek’s place, and now she’s become their most valuable prisoner. It’s good timing for Lorca for his boss to get captured, though I hardly think that now is the time for him to start asking for orders when boldly charging ahead without giving any thought to the consequences has worked so well for him in the past.

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

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 2 “Fans of Wet Circles” (B+)

I still couldn’t tell you what’s going on with that medieval plotline and why it’s playing out in the present, but I’m almost as excited as Dirk and Todd are that they’ve been reunited. As if the Patrick Spring case wasn’t complicated enough, now they have to solve a mystery that’s been puzzling the rural Montana town for fifty years. I’m very happy with the new additions to this show, with Tyler Labine’s double-flashlighted Sherriff Sherlock Hobbs and his Todd-adoring deputy Tina, Amanda Walsh’s wand-waving Suzan, and, most excitingly, Alan Tudyk of “Firefly” flame as Mr. Priest, who is giving the totally inept Sergeant Friedkin a much-needed lesson in how to do his job. Theorizing that Dirk peed himself invisible was a particular low point for the hapless man in charge, and Ken almost negotiated his freedom from the taxi when he realized his interrogator’s stupidity. Out in the real world, or as real as it’s supposed to be on this show, Hobbs and Tina letting Dirk, Todd, and Farah out because they were bored was both a humorous and productive development, and I love that Hobbs knew what a holistic detective was and that Farah couldn’t stand how unorganized the pens on his desk were. Amanda’s search for Dirk is also exciting, and it’s great to see how fearless she’s become, lying on train tracks to stimulate a vision and then recognizing that her Pararibulitis for what it is. Suzan is having fun with her new powers, and now she knows just how much she can do, freezing Bob in the middle of his uncomplimentary conversation and maintaining an unprecedented silence in her home.

Pilot Review: Superstition

Superstition (Syfy)
Premiered October 20 at 10pm

I’m trying hard to watch the first episode of every new show, but I’m still not excited by the idea of sampling horror. I opted to skip Amazon’s “Lore” and wasn’t sure about this one. Fortunately, nothing about this show was particularly scary, even if it was pretty disgusting. I’ve never considered myself a member of the target audience for a show like this, and therefore I can only judge its quality based on how it would compare to a show I would enjoy watching. The opening scene of this pilot made it seem like returning soldier Calvin Hastings didn’t know what he was getting himself into, but that was hardly the case. Weird things happen on this show all the time, and people touching coins and then starting to act like snakes aren’t especially out of the ordinary. Mario Van Peebles’ Isaac has quite the presence, though that changed in a big way at the end of the episode. I’m not sure I’ve seen a show where the protagonist has his head cut off by his own son in the first episode, but this show is all about fighting demonic forces that I guess are known to play tricks on the good guys. It’s hard to have a show where there are no rules about what’s possible and believable, but that also leaves the door open for infinite storylines and villains. I’ll say no thank you to the bleak and somewhat freaky darkness, but imagine that those who like the genre will be pleased.

How will it work as a series? Well, I’m not sure if Isaac is gone forever or if he’ll be reanimated or incarnated in some way, but Calvin has some serious stepping up to do either way. The Dredge may be a nemesis going forward, but I assume there will be lots of foes for the Hastings family to fight.
How long will it last? I can barely find any review or ratings data online for this show – I seem to be one of the few who watched it. From what I can interpret of simple numbers, this show didn’t perform as well as the recently-cancelled “Dark Matter” did before its cancellation, which makes me thinks that its days are numbers unless it can resurrect its chances.

Pilot grade: C-

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 2 “Chapter Sixty-Six” (B+)

Maybe it’s just because we’ve only seen one episode since this show finished its previous season back in May, but I had forgotten about its tendency to feature episode-long gimmicks to frame the events of each hour. The telenovela drama is more than enough, but that’s always a fun addition. In this case, Fun Jane and Mom Jane sitting on Jane’s shoulders (metaphorically, since they were full-size) proved enormously entertaining and helpful as she balanced her strong performance in drinking games with her realization that jumping off a roof was probably a bad idea. I’m glad that the worsening discord between Jane and Rafael seems to have settled in a good place at the moment, since watching them fight was very unpleasant, particularly when Jane accused Rafael of wanting to lie his way out of a tricky situation when it was in fact her grandmother’s suggestion. The relationship between Rafael and Petra, however, is going to take a serious nosedive after Petra broke up with him, and she’s going to be miserable with the return of her mother, who Anezka somehow sprung from prison? Let’s hope that she’s the one who our narrator has just revealed is going to die. Hopefully Rafael won’t go too far off the deep end with his newfound romantic freedom. Adam is quite sweet, though I’m still #teamrafael and wish that would just happen already. Rogelio rising above Darcy’s truly cruel insults was a lot of fun, and it was great to see him combat Fabian sending his grandmother in to the focus group with a winning performance of his own. It was satisfying to see Xiomara lash out at Darcy for saying that she was going into this alone, and unfortunately Emilio romancing her is something that no one wants.

Monday, October 23, 2017

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3, Episode 2 “To Josh, With Love” (B+)

Rebecca was already being told by the people closest to her, who are now fully on her side, that what she was planning to do to Josh wasn’t the smart way to go about it. Turning to Nathaniel to help her execute her revenge was an exceptionally poor idea, and it played out horribly on two fronts. The first was that, after an exciting masquerade ball where she had to keep all of her liberal thoughts to herself while distracting the wives of the people that Nathaniel was talking to, he revealed the truly terrible things he had set in motion to affect not Josh but the perfectly innocent members of his family who Rebecca actually likes. Once she understood what he had done – and that Nathaniel wasn’t the right person for her despite their mutual attraction – she decided to get her moment and face Josh in her wedding dress, before realizing just how bad it was that she had told Josh that she moved to West Covina for him and all of the other crazy-seeming things that followed. Josh’s reaction, that he shouldn’t feel any guilt, wasn’t right at all, and he’s managing to do a poor job of this whole becoming a priest thing since he doesn’t want to do any of the work and just have the glory. Rebecca is going to have to damage control on the information she’s put out into the world, and I think Josh is going to turn into more of a villain since his selfishness is showing through more than anything. Tim doesn’t usually play a notable part in the episodes, and his solo about the discovery of the electric toothbrush was quite memorable. There were several moments in this hour, but I’d say “choke on his cocksuredness” was the most risqué line.

Round Two: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 2 (B)

I’m very mixed on how I feel about this show. In its first few minutes, I found it relatively uninviting, and I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. After Bill makes some creepy cracks about how nothing good would come of Holden talking to Ed Kemper, we got a chance to see Holden sit down with the world’s politest serial killer, who wanted to make sure that his FBI visitor had an egg salad sandwich before they started talking. This was an interesting first interview to showcase, since Ed really does love opening up, fully aware that a lobotomy is a likely outcome and that he’s done deplorable things. As he put it, “I’m just an extremely accomplished murderer who spent my adult life evading capture until I gave myself up.” It’s intriguing to see just how much Holden opens up and lets his guard down when speaking to a convicted killer, and it makes any future conversations he has with far less forgiving audiences likely to get him into major trouble. The time montage and song that chronicled their many travels, cars, suits, and food demonstrated how quickly this show wants to move, chronicling the rise of this kind of work and profiling in the FBI. There’s no denying that this is off-putting material that is very, very dark, but I do think that there’s something here. Now that they have official approval to move down to the basement and start interviewing more killers, I’m curious to see what insights they’ll gain and willing to give this show another shot as they begin their real work.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 4, Episode 5 “Born Again” (B)

This show has done this before, focusing last season on Rabbi Raquel when she wasn’t even really connected to the plot anymore. I’ve always found Davina to be a strong character, but she hasn’t been germane to the main storyline in a long time. Checking in on her in the middle of one fight with Sal that was apparently enough to get her to move out seemed completely random, and of course Ali happened to be in Israel so that when she called Maura there was a place for her to be able to stay and a pool in which to reflect on her past with friends. It just feels pretty random, the way that most things on this show do since nothing is really terribly chronological. The same was true for flashing back to when Ali was born, complete with Molly Bernard’s dead-on impression of Judith Light, which to me is much more impressive than Mario, who is slowly driving Josh insane. Taking the whole family, including Bryna, to Israel for a mega-reunion is sure to be a memorable event, and Ali and Maura are just quietly preparing for it in that white house. I’m most excited for Sarah and Len to stop by Lila’s mom’s house to give her the gift sent by her daughter since I imagine that they’re going to have an awkward time describing exactly what their relationship with her is because, well, even they don’t really know. Something tells me the woman will understand if she knows her daughter well.

What I’m Watching: Narcos

Narcos: Season 3, Episode 8 “Convivir” (B+)

This show is a masterful thriller, in this episode taking two intense events and playing them out at the same time to maximize suspense and intensity. For every minor win the good guys on this show get, there’s a major setback that proves utterly devastating, making everything that led up to it feel worthless. Jorge’s situation is not good, and it’s a wonder that he managed to survive this episode. Getting called in to stay for dinner with Miguel ruined the previous operation, making it inevitable that Enrique would be a suspect. Recording David talking to his henchmen while he was in Enrique’s home was smart, and he kept his cool when he saw Enrique being tortured, stepping in to plant the pager on him because he knew that, at that point, Enrique was a dead man anyway. This has earned him a temporary stay of execution, but he’s obviously upset enough that he broke down to his wife. I’d hope that Feistl and Van Ness can get him out, but I’m not optimistic. As Nicolas gets more and more into the family business, Gilberto is losing his control, unhappy with the public displays of violence that are weakening the possibility for them to surrender in any form like the one originally negotiated. Pena’s connection to Don Berna made the rescue of the captured Christina relatively simple, and she wasn’t shy about reminding him just how many farmers, as she put it, had to be executed just so that she could be brought to make her husband talk. The murder of Franklin in custody was a crippling blow, and unless Jorge can help produce Pallomari, who is sure not to talk if captured, taking down the Cali cartel is going to be near-impossible from this financial direction.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 2, Episode 6 “Eulogy” (B+)

This show, which just earned a renewal for a third season, is certainly a unique specimen, one that looks at being a single mother in a very unusual way. This episode started out with Sam acting as a life advisor to people who aren’t her children but her students. Her notes to be “tougher in life and weaker in the scenes” were decidedly harsh, and telling the scene partner that he was just boring, something he should work on, was brutal and not terribly helpful. Sam trying to prove to her students that they were putting too much effort in and needed to realize that they wouldn’t achieve much fulfillment from the roles that they were going to get was illustrated in the clearest possible way by the next extended scene, as she filmed the same take over and over again. Her costar was miserable making driving sounds with his lips, and there was so little difference between each successive shot. But that’s what the work is sometimes, and it’s understandable that Sam would want to catch a glimpse of the finished product on television at home. Telling her daughters that she wished they would give her a bit more praise in life was fair, and Frankie’s response that she was a loser was quite hurtful, especially as said in front of her two adult friends. Only on this show would she return home to a simulated funeral, with Duke comforted by the knowledge that she died along with her mom and her other two daughters there to say honest but nice things about her. If she’s looking for a solid Emmy submission for next year, I’d say this is it.

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 9, Episode 4 “Grandpa Jack” (B+)

I’d say this is about the best reaction Jack could have had to the fact that he is a grandfather, and that’s because he was able to have a powerful and much-needed impact shortly after meeting him. His sexual orientation was quickly identified after Jack’s demonstration of the pajama party position, which Skip immediately assumed upon entering the apartment. It’s hard to believe that Elliot would end up with a conservative woman from Texas who would so affect his worldview as to convince him to send his son to a gay conversion therapy camp. This show isn’t afraid to tackle big issues like that through a deeply comic lens, and casting Andrew Rannells from “Girls” and “The New Normal” and Jane Lynch from “Glee” as the counselors of the camp was definitely the best way to mock the notion. I’m not sure another show would make light of a character wearing a shock collar designed to help “pray the gay away,” but this show managed it. And at the very least, Elliot realized that he was wrong to send him there, whether or not that means we’re going to see him or Skip again anytime soon. Jack talking and saying the plan along with Will was entertaining, mainly because Will just let it happen without cutting Jack off in the middle of a sentence. To add to its commentary on conservative ideology about being gay, this episode even featured a nod to President Trump with Karen tossing a roll of paper towels to Grace’s preferred employee.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Trolley Problem” (B+)

I’ve encountered the famed Trolley Problem recently on an another TV show, with Kimmy Schmidt being forced to show her true colors during a crossing guard exam. Here, Michael immediately failed the test by showing that he had found a way to kill all six people instead of choosing the few or the one who had to die. He was excited to make the problem less theoretical, putting Chidi into the actual situation so that he could repeatedly kill people every time he failed to make the right decision. I love that the train was called the Ethics Express, and kudos to Eleanor for once again realizing that Michael was back to his old ways, tormenting Chidi instead of trying to learn about how to be a better being. What’s funny is that the old Eleanor and Michael are actually pretty similar, and they find the same things hilarious. Chidi wasn’t impressed with his gift, but Michael’s “opposite tortures” were actually pretty thoughtful. Eleanor sure does love shrimp! I love where Tahani and Jason’s secret relationship is going, as the usually idiotic Jason was smart enough to pick up on the fact that it wasn’t normal that she felt a need to keep their romance secret, and he was kind enough to agree to keep it on the “DL” in exchange for a few opportunities at juvenile displays of affection. Janet acting as a therapist works rather well, though her thumb flying off and a frog coming out of her throat show that there’s something wrong with her serving this function and now, as our four friends are pretending to be tortured, Janet helping them out is going to cause the neighborhood to collapse.

What I’m Watching: You’re the Worst

You’re the Worst: Season 4, Episode 7 “A Bunch of Hornballs” (B+)

Only on this show would characters think to throw a divorce party, and only on this show would the ex-husband show up to cackle like a supervillain and ruin the night without doing anything truly horrific or violent. There wasn’t anything good that came from the party aside from a relationship development between Gretchen and Boone, but even that was tainted by the self-destructive follow-up step taken by Gretchen, which was to immediately call Jimmy, who couldn’t get away fast enough from his vomiting, orgasm-free erotica writer, and share a pleasant conversation reminiscent of old times, complete with classic splitscreen and smiles on both their faces. Boone was hesitant about Gretchen meeting his daughter, and she didn’t exactly wait for his approval to introduce herself. Them going down the road together would be great, but it’s clear that she’s still attached to Jimmy, and he’s obviously into her even if he’s doing all the wrong things. Edgar planned an epic party but, as always, wasn’t tuned in to the reality of what he was doing, and now he’s going to have to find a way to pay for everything that surely won’t help his mental health. Lindsay’s response of “Where are the good ones” to Carl the human participation trophy wasn’t kind, but neither were her coworkers’ text attacks on her. I can’t imagine something positive will come once she returns to work. As this show has progressed, Becca has become just as deplorable as our main characters, making out with her gay best friend in front of Vernon and making the affable doof truly miserable.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 2 “eps3.1_undo.gz” (B+)

This episode felt like the pilot in a really great way. Elliot, now employed at Evil Corp, was pitching an idea to help undo some of the damage done by his alter ego to distracted managers who he systematically took done by exposing the illegal activities in which they were involved to the authorities, establishing a routine and a comfortable way of living his life that made him fulfilled and productive. When he finally got to someone who wanted to listen, it was a great achievement. Yet, as always, the excitement of hacking and accomplishing things was overwhelmed by the crippling sadness he felt at home. His appointment with Krista was fascinating. He forgot his birthday, and then when he told the story of the Macaulay Culkin snowman, he got stuck on the fact that he could have sworn that he had told her before that his dad pushed him out a window. Suggesting that Mr. Robot talk to her was a mesmerizing idea, and it was an incredible transformation that this show has really mastered. Presumably it’s Mr. Robot and not Elliot who realized that the FBI hacked his computer with Darlene’s help, and Dom has no idea what she’s up against when she sees him on her screen. While she was making the rounds to demonize Scott and make Tyrell appear more innocent, Joanna met a surprisingly premature end thanks to a vengeful Derek showing up and not being content with being told off by her driver. She was always an intriguing character but hardly the show’s best. Phillip’s public challenge to Whiterose seems to have been a poor calculation, since his currency war has now inspired Whiterose to go forward with Stage 2 even if it isn’t necessary to accomplish their aims.

What I’m Watching: Liar

Liar: Season 1, Episode 4 "Catherine" (B)

As much as I’m intrigued by this show, I still don’t quite understand what its take on sexual assault is. When the guy at the airport bar kept hounding Laura to give him a shot and then later sent her flowers, that seemed like the perfect time for a conversation about consent which she dismissed in favor of apologizing for her state of mind. We saw Andrew break into Vanessa’s home after apparently drugging her, proving that he’s not just a rapist who thinks he can get away with it but a very dangerous sexual predator who calculates his criminal activities. I think this show could have enough to say about sexual harassment, a notion that’s trending heavily on both my Facebook news feed and in my real news sources, without casting its suspected rapist as someone who isn’t just overconfident about his ability to mistreat women but deliberately malicious in the situations he engineers to willingly take advantage of them. As Vanessa realized - too late - that she needs to get out of this line of work for the sake of her future child, Laura is continuing to try to take action to ensure that Andrew doesn’t get away with what is now a devastating pattern of behavior. She had no luck with his mother-in-law, and she almost had Catherine on her side before the chef realized that little good was guaranteed to come from her speaking up, and forgetting about his influence in her life was the far better choice for her to make.

Friday, October 20, 2017

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 2, Episode 4 “Still There” (B)

This was an episode about relationships and realizing the things that are toxic and unavoidable in them. I mistakenly thought that Rebecca’s helicopter mother was portrayed by Margaret Colin from “The Missing Person” and “Veep,” but it turns out that she’s actually played by Elizabeth Perkins of “Weeds” and “Big” fame. Rebecca calling her out on being a racist for not giving Randall the same attention as her other two grandchildren was bold, and it’s a shame that he was within earshot when she said it, though he got his licks in later with his “about time” quip when she complimented him. His desire to get the chickenpox was entertaining, and Jack didn’t turn out to be much use when he too got infected. Randall and Beth’s present-day parenting struggles are far more severe, since Beth was able to achieve a monumental breakthrough by identifying Déjà’s alopecia and braiding her hair, only to have it all undercut by Randall’s very well-meaning gesture of friendship that revealed that the two parents had communicated about something she meant only to share with her foster mother. The expression on her face when she showed up to the breakfast table with her cut hair was one of defiance, and this is going to continue to be a major struggle. After producer Brian Grazer, playing himself, showed up to check on Kevin, he had a tough recovery that seems to have gone well enough even if it was the least compelling focus of this hour. Toby is trying to make sure that Kate is happy while she’s being healthy, and he’s about to be in for a big surprise, one that had my wife cheering while we watched the episode - they’re going to have a baby! I hope he’ll be thrilled when she breaks the news to him.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 2 “Freakshow” (B)

It’s fitting for many reasons that the legends would have a run-in with the circus where they would end up taken captive and conscripted for mandatory entertainment service due to their special abilities. It turns out that this show’s version of P.T. Barnum, as portrayed by Billy Zane of “Titanic” fame, was a pretty terrible person, and he just wanted the show to go on, no matter how little some of his performers wanted to be part of the troupe. I was sure that Nate navigating the dating app on his phone in the middle of the bar while drinking heavily would be enough to inspire a technological anachronism, but all it did was enabled his poor buddies Jax and Ray to get captured and forcing Stein to dress up as a clown so that he could get close enough to infiltrate the circus and merge with Jax, creating yet another spectacular display of entertainment for Barnum to celebrate. I’m glad that Amaya’s back, and it’s good that she’s acknowledging to the team that the animal is starting to take over when she uses her powers. Mick was spectacularly bad at watching the shrunken tiger, letting it out almost immediately, as if that wasn’t a bad enough problem already. Sara and Agent Sharpe had a pretty solid fight, and I’m sure they’re going to continue to clash as they meet throughout time. The news that Rip has been hiding something that even the Time Bureau is afraid of is miserable since it’s even worse than the neverending legacy of the first season: an actual witch who was able to create some sort of being from the water, both off-putting and creepy. Let’s hope that doesn’t take center stage – I’m really not excited by it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 4, Episode 2 “Mixed Signals” (B+)

Last season, we saw how Alchemy gave a whole bunch of people powers that they had in other multiverse, and now there’s someone operating from the future or somewhere else doing something similar. This episode was a pretty classic case of a powered individual going after the people he believed ruined his life because they took credit for his idea and then made lots of money off of it, and he got rid of them in pretty brutal ways, starting with a violent elevator drop. Sheila was unapologetic and extremely rude when he confronted her, but it was Tim who was tormented after Barry was able to run quickly and break apart his car so that he was just on a seat with a steering wheel. There were a lot of funny moments in between the serious ones in this hour related to getting the team back together, and I for one am thrilled that Caitlin has returned, even if she has some issues controlling the Killer Frost within her. Cisco thought of all these technological improvements to the suit, most of which are absurd and wholly unnecessary, and they managed to backfire tremendously when the suit got hacked by Kilgore. The sumo flotation mode was the most ridiculous. Breaking down the situation with “Silicon Valley” comparisons was great, and there’s a certain joy I get from imagining that the characters I watch on TV also watch the same TV shows I do. Iris bringing Barry to couples’ therapy was a lighter dramatic development, and it’s good that he realizes that he’s not behaving the way he should after his long absence. I enjoyed the romantic moments between Cisco and Gypsy, who revealed her softer side by talking about “1-1-1 Day” and using the word “shmoopy.” That couple never seemed like they would last, but now, they’re looking strong.

What I’m Watching: Me, Myself, and I

Me, Myself, and I: Season 1, Episode 4 “Star Wars” (B+)

It makes complete sense that Alex would be obsessed with “Star Wars,” and this episode captured that perfectly in all three of his timelines. His excitement at going to see the one-night-only showing of the movie in 1991 was understandable given that he hadn’t seen it on the big screen ever and Justin had taped over part of it with “Cheers.” I had a fun flashback to when I used to tape shows and sometime just used the same VHS tape for any number of episodes of different series. Maggie and Ron putting up a united front led to a very sweet act of fatherly protection by Ron, who decided to take the blame for Alex sneaking out when he realized that they were both trying to adjust to a new situation. I love that, after Alex tried to get back at Ron when he thought that he had shown his daughter “Star Wars,” it turned out that he had just shown her “The Phantom Menace,” which made it all better. Of course, she didn’t even like it, and he was mature enough to watch “The Princess Bride” instead. As the sixty-five-year-old Alex was preparing to finally go into space, he was more than ready to give that lifelong dream up to spend the day with Eleanor, saving her by being her line cook. She might still have a fiancé, but something tells me that Alex just worked his way back into her heart as more than just a friend.

Take Three: The Gifted

The Gifted: Season 1, Episode 3 “eXodus” (B-)

If nothing else, this show features mutants with some pretty cool powers. The bartender’s ability to turn himself and an entire van invisible is awesome, and everything that happened outside Daniel’s house was intense in a great way too. Unfortunately, I don’t think that interesting abilities, including Dreamer planting a fond memory in Blink’s head so that she would open up a portal and save the man she thought she loved, are enough to carry this show. We’re running into a situation where everyone is perpetually on the run, and only so much can be accomplished when characters are moving nonstop. What is clear from this episode is that the public doesn’t like mutants, and parents were ready to storm Daniel’s home and kill their kids’ friends just because they had powers. Even after his house turned into a war zone, Daniel was loyal to his sister, who refuses to accept the idea that she won’t see her husband again. While Amy Acker is good, her role isn’t written nearly as well as Stephen Moyer’s, and it was great to see Reed talk his way into getting transported to his family and then decide that it was worth facing whatever punishment or torture might come next to save the mutant mother who took his pain away and all other mutants who might be imperiled by his act of selfishness. I suspect that, sooner than later, Jace will switch sides, especially if he gets pressured by Garret Dillahunt’s Dr. Campbell into turning over the mutants that he just wants to imprison for whatever experimentation purposes he seeks them.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 3, Episode 2 “Triggers” (B+)

It’s nice to see that the CW is a friendly network where even the stars of its non-superhero shows still get gigs on other shows. Yael Grobglas, a regular on “Jane the Virgin” and guest last year on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” had a fun role here as Psi, the villain who used fears to paralyze those she was robbing. It’s jarring to see Kara frozen as she remembers her childhood trip since it somehow does more damage to her than something typical like Kryptonite or a strong alien. Fortunately, Alex knows exactly how to help her sister out, which proved to be a helpful discretion from the newly-emerged disagreements in her relationship with Maggie. Arguing about whether to have a band or a DJ in one thing, a subject that Hank hilariously weighed in on, but not knowing whether you want to have kids is a topic that requires considerably more conversation than just a dismissive, “that’s okay with you, right?” We’re seeing some issues at the workplace between Lena and James, and while Lena’s tough love gave Kara the quick-start she needed to get her head back in the game, the professional relationship between the guy who’s been in charge and the woman who now is remains very rocky. We’re just getting to know Samantha, and while she’s insistent that she doesn’t have powers, her daughter Ruby was eager enough to push her to reveal them that she punched someone in the face and nearly got herself killed. It’s interesting to see where Samantha fits in to the regular plotline and I’m curious how that will play out. And, in other news, Hank is headed to Mars to help Megan, a character I always thought contributed pretty well to this show.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What I’m Watching: Vice Principals

Vice Principals: Season 2, Episode 5 “A Compassionate Man” (B+)

This show always manages to be more complex than it might seem at first glance. Things going awry was pretty inevitable, and it’s not as if all the teachers’ perceptions of Lee could really get any worse. One thing that has definitely changed since this show started is that Lee and Neal really are friends now, and, when everyone was against him, he was there to stand by his friend. Christine’s meltdown was epic, and it’s good to see the quietest, least featured character really show just how unhappy she is since Lee very clearly made up rumors about Kevin, who seems much more interested in her than Lee ever is, so that they would break up and he could make his move. With just two episodes left in this series, which still makes me sad, I don’t think this will have any real impact on Lee’s career or on the show in general, but this was completely in keeping with this show’s style, particularly Neal’s decision to bring Robin with him to the party rather than a date. The best part was Neal’s reaction to learning that Ms. Abbott has drugged Brian’s drink so that he would look stupid. Initially, he appeared to express concern and realize that this wasn’t okay, ready to run to Amanda to tell her that he knew it was wrong. But then he came to a different conclusion, that she was doing something nice for him, which means they’re going to sleep together, something she’s always wanted and he’s resisted. I can’t imagine that will have a positive impact on his chances with Amanda, but maybe it will make him happy briefly, which is something.

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

Good Behavior: Season 2, Episode 1 “The Heart Attack is the Best Way” (B+)

I’m so glad this show is back – it was one of my favorites last year and I didn’t think that we’d get to experience a second season. This opener was superb, showing this family unit trying to establish a new identity in a place where they sort of could fit in fine if they were really able to give up their old ways of life. We’ve never seen quite this much of Jacob, and I like the way that he interacts with his mother, pushing back on her quick acceptance of home schooling as a natural choice and advocating for being able to choose his own fake name. There’s no competing with Letty’s ability to completely control any situation with lies quickly concocted on her feet, starting with googling Georgia law when the cop told her that Jacob couldn’t be alone and highlighted by her magnificent Gwyneth Paltrow recipe thievery narrative. I’m intrigued by Apple and her mother Carin, and I hope we’ll see more of them in the future. I’m beyond thrilled that Ann Dowd is still around as Rhonda, even though that’s bad news for Javier and Letty, and I enjoyed her movie conversation with Rob, who she thought was Estelle’s son. Letty’s relationship with Christian continues to be fantastic, and I liked his response to her answering the phone with “Hi.” After Javier nearly got killed by another hitman and then brought his body home, he’s in rough shape, reeling from the loss of Silk and from a sense of being in control of his life. This is sure to be a great season.

Pilot Review: White Famous

White Famous (Showtime)
Premiered October 15 at 10pm

It’s always interesting to learn something about a show after you’ve watched it that helps to put it all into a bit more context. I was a big fan of “Californication,” which had a few really great seasons and a few others that weren’t as good, and I did feel that a few of the scenes in this hourlong pilot were reminiscent of that show. Learning that this comes from creator Tom Kapinos and that it’s supposed to be set in the same universe as his previous does make some sense, and it’s been enough time that I didn’t remember that Stephen Tobolowsky had played producer Stu Beggs before. This show provides a great platform for “Saturday Night Live” alum Jay Pharoah to take the lead, and he’s clearly comfortable in the spotlight. I’m not quite sure what to make of the rest of this show, which in just its first two episodes featured a handful of recognizable faces chewing a lot of scenery. Jamie Foxx wearing a skirt and having a conversation mid-sex made quite an impression, and Michael Rapaport’s Teddy Snow is an incredibly outrageous character for whom the actor is a pretty good match. I also liked seeing Steve Zissis as a terrible hand-shaker and Lyndon Smith as Gwen, the actress who played her part very well and threw Floyd for a loop. I’m thrilled that Lonnie Chavis, who played young Randall on “This Is Us,” is getting more roles like this one. This show is very frontal and certainly addresses some hot-button issues, but I’ve seen far more appealing showcases of popular comedians than this one.

How will it work as a series? We went from a racist rant in episode one to a guy who knows he’s crazy and doesn’t care, and Floyd continues to get talked into doing things that he’s dead set against, like taking on a role or encouraging his son to go to private school. It’s a fun setup that’s someone reminiscent of a far more comedic “Atlanta,” and considerably more unhinged.
How long will it last? The first of these two episodes was made available online a few weeks early, and the reviews appear to be generally okay but not all that great. I haven’t seen much ratings data yet, but I think that, given Showtime’s previous affiliation with Kapinos and the desire to see Pharoah succeed, this one will get a decent shot.

Pilot grade: B-

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 9, Episode 3 “A Disturbance in the Kitchen” (B+)

Of all this show’s tropes, I think that “a disturbance in the kitchen” perfectly epitomizes what Larry is all about. Most people would accept such a line and just move on, but Larry just wouldn’t let it go. What was especially funny about this episode is that the manager ended up spewing a whole lot of unhelpful nonsense, refusing to answer even a simple question and making Damon Wayans Jr.’s cop just as angry. Leave it to Larry to beep a cop because he hadn’t noticed the light had turned green, and then for Larry to be sort of right about Ted’s horn when he beeped somehow and nearly got pulled out of his car by a furious driver who definitely didn’t know who he was. I think we can all agree that Larry’s disguise being gone is a good thing, and getting some coaching from Salman Rushdie on using the fatwa to his advantage to be able to opt out of things you don’t want to do and attract women because of the danger factor. Elizabeth Banks is a funny actress who was just right for this role, comparing her cat Mr. Noodle to the daughter that Susie thinks her lost little sister is and then repeatedly saying “Arnold Parkers” while putting on a horrendous spontaneous performance with accents in front of the cop. I enjoyed seeing Gary Anthony Williams from “I’m Sorry” as the judge who didn’t go for Larry comparing himself to famous black icons as a pioneer and refused the cough drop that Larry promptly demanded back.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan: Season 5, Episode 10 “Bob the Builder” (B)

Even more than last episode, it feels like everything’s falling apart, and there’s not one character whose narrative is looking up at the moment. It seemed like Ray was broken by Natalie’s death, but he was still up for completely disregarding Sam’s explicit direction not to mention Doug to the police and then taking his brothers to go steal back Bunchy’s money. Most people who get arrested don’t set out to commit a crime just hours later, but Ray has always operated by his own rules. His choice of a home shopping network was strange, and I guess that’s what constitutes a meltdown for this fixer. It is an art, one that Daryll and Mickey haven’t quite mastered. Jay’s decision to call in the district attorney was bold given that he did still kill someone and then tried to cover it up even though it was an accident. Mickey seems like a big enough fish, but I don’t think Jay really got Daryll to admit anything, and, following his long-standing erection, Mickey isn’t going to back down and give in to this fate. Bridget tried to take matters into her own hands by going after Dr. Bergstein, played by Kim Raver from “24,” and all she managed to do was join the family lineup as the latest Donovan to get arrested. Ray’s not done breaking the law either, and though he was resistant to Sam’s request for him to kill Doug, I have a feeling that he’s going to try to clean this mess up in a way that somehow helps honor Natalie’s memory, which may well involve getting rid of someone who made her unhappy.

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 5 “Choose Your Pain” (B-)

I’m becoming less and less enamored with this show. I know that it’s just the name of the ship, but I still feel like we should be getting to explore and feel a sense of wonder from the many different alien races, cultures, and planets that the crew meets. Yet this show seems completely obsessed with the Klingons, who in this version are terribly uninteresting, and the being aboard the ship that Michael managed to prove felt pain and wouldn’t be able to do well with so many quick jumps that Saru ordered. Lorca was taken captive by the Klingons pretty easily, and not once did he seem to sweat his situation, which speaks partially to his fearlessness but also to the predictability of him being rescued. Now, he did do more to help his situation than most might have, and teaming up with Lieutenant Tyler to escape worked pretty well, though it didn’t seem like they had to put up much of a fight. I immediately recognized Rainn Wilson from “The Office” as Harry, and I’m not entirely sure what that character’s contribution to the episode really was. This whole “choose your pain” thing didn’t impress me too much either, and given that it’s the title of this episode, I don’t think that’s an established Klingon tradition in Trek lore. Tilly’s excited reaction to the fact that she’s not the source of Michael’s annoyance was endearing, as was learning that the increasingly likeable Lieutenant Stamets and Dr. Culber are a couple.

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Season Premiere)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 1 “Space Rabbit” (B)

In my undying excitement for this show to return, I forgot just how little sense this show can make sometimes. I know that’s completely intentional, but it’s still a bit frustrating and makes it hard to latch onto since it’s impossible to follow the story. With all of our characters scattered – or confined – in different places, there were a lot of new faces added in this episode that may or may not return in the future. The one likeliest to stick around is Amanda Walsh, who I loved a decade ago on “Sons and Daughters,” as Suzan Boreton, who appears to have some powers of her own which may have been what inspired Bart to spare her life rather than her search for a new best friend. John Hannah, fresh off “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” made quite an impression in an almost unrecognizable appearance, and I think he’s going to be back too. Roger Cross from “Dark Matter” showed up as Farah’s brother and Tyler Labine from “Reaper” was the talkative sheriff slash tow truck operator, but I think this is probably the last we’ll see of either of them. Hugo got pretty annoyed and bored with all of his interrogations, and poor Ken is stuck in a taxi being tortured even though he doesn’t have any powers at all. As Todd, suffering from his condition and low on pills, chases after rabbits, it seems that Dirk is about to get freed from his captivity by some truly strange and inexplicable trippy forces. I like that Amanda is now leading some of the Rowdy Three around, comfortable with her situation but unhappy in life, and I’m eager for everyone to be reconnected since, as we know, everything is connected.

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

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 1 “Chapter Sixty-Five” (B+)

It’s very fitting that we should get a new competing narrator for Adam given that the show introduced him without any warning at the end of last season. The narrator is one of the most entertaining parts of this extremely entertaining show, and having him compete with someone else for attention is a delight. It’s fun to see a different Jane, one who was so sure that she wanted to get married when she was way too young, uniting both her mother and her grandmother against the idea. It’s interesting to see how they pushed Jane this episode, since I remember how Alba was fiercely #teammichael way bay when while Xiomara endorsed #teamrafael and his bad boy nature. Now that Rafael is just a rich guy living in a house on the other side of town, it’s a different story, yet his feeling that he knows what’s best for their son, whose look has changed given a new actor portraying him, was enough to push Jane away and get her clothes all back on very quickly. Rafael totally was flirting, and it doesn’t seem fair that he should get to go right after Petra after leading Jane on and nearly ruining her chances with Adam. As Rogelio decided to try to make peace with the truly mean Darcy for the sake of their pending coparenting, Rafael and Jane are now on very bad terms. Another joint operation – Luisa and Anezka’s revenge plan – wasn’t going so well since Petra was impersonating Anezka, but it seems that the lesser sister survived again and is going to remain around to cause more trouble.

Monday, October 16, 2017

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

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3, Episode 1 “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge” (B+)

This was an important premiere since this show, so fantastic in its first season, took a few questionable turns in season two in its reveal that Rebecca actually does have some certifiable issues to address that have come up before. What this episode did was pick things back up to show up how everyone sees Rebecca and how she’s embracing the more positive attention that she’s getting. It’s mostly concern towards her now, since before she was operating completely on her own and lying to those around her to try to get with Josh, but now that she’s been through that and come out the other hand, she’s part of a crew with Paula, Heather, and Valencia. They realize that her big return with the fancy white dress and her new demeanor were just ways of coping with Josh having left her at the altar, and they wanted to encourage her but make sure she didn’t go too far, like when she was literally about to have sex with the actor who looked exactly like Josh. She’s getting back to a better place, in theory, but she’s still sending cupcakes inspired by “The Help” to Josh, channeling her inner crazy while putting on a saner public front. I like that Nathaniel is now trying hard to get her because she’s not showing any interest, and it appears that Scott Michael Foster has become a full-time series regular now. Darryl’s relationship with White Josh continues to get sweeter and sweeter, and I loved his eventual enthusiasm about the anteater costume, accompanied by the not-quite-right “honk honk” sound. Paula reconciling with Scott also seems to be going well, even if she had a strange moment where she wanted him to call her Tonya. I think this is going to be a good season.