Monday, April 23, 2018

Round Two: Lost in Space

Lost in Space: Season 1, Episode 2 “Diamonds in the Sky” (B+)

Consider me impressed. This second installment delivered the same thrill as the first episode, making it seem like our main characters were actually in sincere danger and might not make it out. It’s evident that the family members won’t perish so early on in this show’s run if ever, and therefore it’s particularly commendable that this show can raise the stakes high enough to make it suspenseful. Setting a show on a planet with only a few people inhabiting it means you don’t have the luxury of red shirts to send off on away missions to die while the important series regulars remain immune. After Judy survived her ordeal under the ice, it was great to see Penny spring into action and go off to save her family despite not having too much experience with the rover. Bringing the Oreos along with her was a nice touch, and I like that Maureen was happy to see that as soon as they were reunited. Dr. Smith, or at least the woman pretending to be Dr. Smith, did a masterful job of manipulating Don into buying all of her lies and then setting her up to be rescued while he was nowhere to be found. I’m not usually fond of fill-in flashbacks that show how things we didn’t realize were happening actually were, but it worked well enough here. The fact that the robot made her scared is the one positive sign that its presence may force her to behave, because something tells me she’s going to do anything possible to get ahead at the expense of anyone in her way.

What I’m Watching: Santa Clarita Diet

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2, Episode 5 “Going Pre-med” (B+)

Sheila and Joel’s banter continues to be one of my favorite things about this show, best on display in this episode when Sheila objected to Joel’s “I’m sorry, but” apology and they quarreled over being too free in the sharing of information and friendship with others. Ron’s return couldn’t have been more poorly-timed, and the imitation of Sheila’s undeadness that he did certainly did not help. The worst part, which Sheila and Joel don’t yet know, is that he’s affiliated with the two people that they met trying to clean up the Serbian bile guy, and so they may able to connect the dots and identify our couple. For the moment, we had another entertaining Nazi-killing debate as they set up their kill room and then had to decide if it was okay to kill a guy in a wheelchair. It turns out that he made it very easy for them by demanding to be treated like everyone else, resulting in quite the feast for Sheila and a revolting experience for Joel. Abby’s tray incident almost resulted in her expulsion, but she’s used to standing up to adults who think they’re better than her and managed to talk the principal out of it, and Eric saved the idea by suggesting environmentalism as a punishment. Unfortunately, her boredom and the way that she swooned was wooed by a pickup line are going to send her to more distracting things which likely won’t prove helpful to her attempts to stay out of trouble and save the world.

What I’m Watching: Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Reluctant Taxidermist” (B+)

It’s really incredible to watch Marius work. Spinning that whole narrative about taxidermy was relentlessly boring but also fantastic, and it was great to see Gina work so well with him. The problem is that you can’t have too many con artists around, and Maggie showing up just got it moved to a much more difficult location, one that already has Marius talking about making the Empire State Building disappear. Maggie isn’t really helping anyone these days, trying to get Frank to talk about his dead friend, which can’t be a smart road to go down, and putting Julia’s problematic runaway in a storage unit owned by Luca for the weekend, which also seems like bad news given that something is sure to go wrong before Luca’s out of the picture. Julia seems to be more than capable of defending herself, but she also has no idea what she’s up against, being on Luca’s radar and having the newly-promoted Colin on her tail. Pete’s back in the picture, minimally, no longer happy with Marius because he realizes no one knew he escaped, and him sticking around can only create more problems for the family. Taylor getting the gun from the bridge troll wasn’t all that difficult, but there’s no stopping him from talking to Joyce is she comes asking questions. Audrey seems more interested in the threat posed by her own family members than the people after her, but she’s actually onto something that at least explains why Winslow was after her.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 4, Episode 11 “The Tub” (B+)

Well, this was quite a change to see for Grace and Frankie at the start of this episode, with an informative flashback to explain how it is that they discovered that maybe they shouldn’t be quite as independent anymore. I’m not sure we’ve reached that point just yet, or whether their new living situation is going to be permanent, but both of them experienced an unfortunate downturn in this episode. Grace got sentimental when she visited Phil’s site which had a banner on it that read “no longer in business,” and she made the mistake of trusting a contractor who seemed quite trustworthy at first but appears to have ruined the house and robbed them instead. Frankie was thrilled to drive her granddaughter around, but her track record behind the wheel wasn’t great to begin with, and therefore the fact that she followed an ice cream truck which led her to right by the Mexico border isn’t all that surprising. Bud, who is usually frustrated but still amused, didn’t seem to find much humor in this situation at all. I’ll be curious to see how assisted living suits them, since something tells me that they both might warm to some of the amenities more than they expect. It was a relief to see that Robert and Sol were both equally perturbed by the suggestion of an open marriage, despite support for the idea from Peter and an eager visit from the dashing young Roy. It’s a sign that maybe their troubles will soon be behind them.

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 2, Episode 8 “Woods” (C)

I just don’t understand the purpose of some of this season’s episodes. This show is interesting enough for its portrayal of an up-and-coming artist who isn’t really into putting effort into what he does and getting excited about taking pictures with fans. For him to do that and to smile when someone came up and recognized him at the end of the ordeal that was this episode was big, but I found this half-hour to be just as aimless and peculiar as the one where Darius ended up at the scene of a murder-suicide, though less intriguing in general. It’s true that Earn is hardly the world’s most active manager, and some of what Ciara suggested Earn should be doing is fair. But she also revealed just how vain she is and how she is the type of person who is obsessed with her followers knowing what she does, famous for being famous rather than for actually doing anything. Leaving her at the pedicure to walk on his own was a bad idea, as what he thought were fans turned out to be muggers who he rather impressively fought off, resulting in him wandering through the woods being followed by an older man who just wants to talk and improve his life even though he has no interest whatsoever in being social. I’m sure there are some who are loving every episode of this show in year two, but with just three episodes left, I’m feeling pretty let down by this cultural phenomenon that’s already been cited as a frontrunner to win the Best Comedy Series Emmy. I’d much rather hear more about how Darius learned to cook pasta in a dream.

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 18 “Portrait Plagiarism Renter Scam” (B-)

This episode really spanned the gamut between relatable, realistic storylines and ones that were completely exaggerated and hard to take seriously. The opening segment was definitely one of the latter, with Jen being gifted a painting by an esteemed artist which for no clear reason included Greg with a rock-hard body and was ultimately something she really didn’t want to look at, complicated by the fact that Greg and her parents thought it was appropriate to hang publicly. Tyler and Clementine deciding to rent out their tiny house on AirBNB was no surprise, but you’d think they would be slightly conscious of the fact that should at least notify Heather and Tim that they were going to be responsible for certain things. Clearly, that went way over their heads, and now these horrified parents have two new tenants not paying rent again. Sophia stealing her friend’s Socktopia story was a bit cleverer, though the lack of research that the theoretical authors of the “Chicken Choo Choo” book did was more than a bit worrisome and hard to believe. The final segment, building off of those IRS scam calls everyone kept getting throughout the episode, was a bit more of a saving grace, with a mildly logical train of events almost signaling Joan and John that something was wrong before Heather came in to break the news that it was just a scam. Choosing to barter with the nephew in need of “monies” was an amusing end that showed just how little they had learned.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

What I’m Watching: Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones: Season 2, Episode 7 “AKA I Want Your Cray Cray” (B+)

I may be remembering wrong, but I think this is the first time that we’ve had an episode-long flashback, one that shows us a very different time in Jessica’s life. Seeing her bored at Trish’s show and talking about how she’s going to college wasn’t nearly as strange as her being happy and in love, something that seems so far removed from her current state and the lack of any romance or smiling from her. Stirling did seem nice enough, and I was wondering what it was that would go wrong and ruin their relationship. Hitting Trish up to become an investor the first time he met her was definitely a mistake, but they seemed to get past that. Promising to lend her superpowered services to the thugs who wanted their money back, and doing so while Alisa was watching, was his undoing, and discovering him dead, allegedly at the hands of those thugs, was clearly just the first step in Jessica’s descent into darkness, long before she met Kilgrave. Trish was all over the place, and it’s good to see that, no matter how much trouble she still might get herself into these days, she’s in a better place, just dealing with a different and potentially much more lethal addiction. Ending the episode with Alisa apologizing to Jessica and asking her to forgive her showed us just how far from being ready to do that Jessica is, and I’m curious to see whether she’ll reconsider anything now that Carl has sedated her and they’re going to try to at least come to some peaceful understanding.

Friday, April 20, 2018

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 3, Episode 4 “Inconceivable!” (B+)

Well, that news about her pregnancy hit Emma pretty hard. It was probably the worst time that Kylie could have brought her to meet a power couple that would have given them a leg up, and the scene back at home when Kylie baited her to feed her a lie was intense. Emma managed to win her over more effectively than she did Izzy, but she still showed up at the end of the episode in Portland to let Jack know since she felt she had to. I personally think it’s the perfect solution to everything, since this way Jack and Izzy can move at whatever speed they need to while a baby is being prepared for them by someone they used to love, though I’m sure it would be complicated and far from what Kylie wants. I like that Izzy suggested to Jack that she should be the one to propose to him, and that she almost did it before bolting out the door to decompress with Nina. Starting off with a dinner with her dad is probably smart, though I can’t imagine it will go all that smoothly. It was good to see Shaun show a bit of resistance when Nina called him her slave, though I think he’s nowhere near close to free of her domineering influence just yet. Dave reacting so strongly to their babysitter being stoned was entertaining, and I think that Carmen appreciates his moderate efforts even if he’s not quite fully there yet.

What I’m Watching: Legion

Legion: Season 2, Episode 3 “Chapter 11” (B)

Now this was a trippy episode that felt a bit like a horror movie. The contagious cheerleader tic opener was weird enough, and then things got even stranger when David had to go into the minds of most of the lead characters in order to break them from the chattering trance the monk put them all into. Seeing Farouk dies and his body transported to the monastery indicates that locating it really won’t be all that difficult, but if even the monk is willing to die so that he’s not involved, how can this possibly end well for anyone else? When he was trying to convince David that he was a king dethroned by a white man – David’s father – he made a good point, which is that he’s trying to do something for Future Syd, who will inherently seek to exist if he succeeds in the mission that she’s given him. Lenny begging for David to talk to Farouk or put her out of misery shows just how desperately bored she is, and I’m curious if she’ll be able to rebel against him in some helpful way (probably not). Cary training Kerry how to eat food for himself and then process it out was entertaining, which made Cary’s horrified discovery of a chattering Kerry in the hallway all the more devastating. At least there shouldn’t be any permanent damage from all this, but I’m assuming that Syd’s mind is not going to be a picnic given her intense powers and the fact that she spent some of the episode telepathically chatting with David while inhabiting the body of a cat. Ptonomy’s subconscious desire to be able to forget was fascinating, and that quiet scene was far less eerie than Melanie’s monstrous maze which David quickly lost patience for while they were trying to locate her within it. David wearing priest’s robes while walking past hanging priests on his way into the monastery was freaking, and here’s hoping we can get back to some sense of normalcy, or whatever that means for this show, soon.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 7, Episode 2 “Tuesday Meeting” (B-)

It’s hard to take this show seriously at this point, but this show continues to give me at least one or two audible laughs each episode. Nick’s wildly successful Pepperwood career has never made all that much sense, and it tracks that he doesn’t have a lot of other ideas. Schmidt and Winston feeding him lines from Mao for inspiration might have been a decent plan if he didn’t just go ahead and submit it directly, which prompted his editor, played by Brian Huskey from “People of Earth” and “Veep,” to react in a less-than-pleased manner. Trying to get Ruth to sleep proved to be difficult, and that’s a plotline that’s already wearing a bit thin. It worked better for Cece, who kept herself awake with an odd combination of wine and coffee, prompting her to egg Jess on to participate in the Tuesday meeting that she had been shut out of all her life. It did turn out that she didn’t belong at the divorced fathers meeting, but a data entry desk job was never going to be what she wanted. This episode doesn’t provide any stronger argument than last week for this show coming back for one final round, since it continues to be as wacky as ever, with Winston, Jess, and Nick singing Cece and Schmidt to sleep with a horribly unmelodic medley, something that’s not nearly as entertaining as this show seems to think. I’m still on board for a mildly amusing ride, but I’m not expecting all that much.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 4, Episode 18 “Lose Yourself” (B+)

I really keep thinking that we’re close to the end of the season here based on where the story is going, but, while nearly every other CW show is signing off early, we still have a full five episodes in season four, with a fifth season commissioned a few weeks ago. The events of this episode make defeating DeVoe seem less likely to happen, especially not without any more casualties. Barry managed to convince Ralph that he was better off being Ralph the hero than killing DeVoe in order to keep everyone else safe, and while the only other casualty so far has been Killer Frost, which may not be a permanent loss, Ralph himself was the victim of his own humanity. He and Barry were both so proud that he had found a way to capture DeVoe without killing him, and then, tragically, DeVoe killed him. With no more victims left to kill, DeVoe is going to wear Ralph’s face for the rest of his existence, which will be strange to see, but he also gets the advantage of being able to transform back into his real body, which should be enough to compel Marlize not to rebel, which is pretty much the only way Team Flash will have a leg up in this fight. The way she spoke to Iris when they were fighting doesn’t indicate that she’s at all close to defecting. Harry took himself out of commission trying to use the thinking cap too much, and everyone is going to be considerably worse for wear now that they’re mourning the loss of their newest friend.

What I’m Watching: Roseanne

Roseanne: Season 10, Episode 5 “Darlene v. David” (B)

Not having watched this show during its original run means that I’m not familiar with the recurring characters who are now showing up again. I recognized Johnny Galecki from “The Big Bang Theory” right away as David, Darlene’s absent husband who suddenly showed up back in her life. I didn’t recognize Estelle Parsons, the esteemed Oscar winner from “Bonnie and Clyde” who is now ninety years old, as Roseanne and Jackie’s mother Beverly. I wasn’t all that fond of the content involving Beverly, who is apparently quite the sexually active senior, and who may now be sticking around a permanent basis after being barred from her retirement home due to her classification as a danger to others. David, on the other hand, was plenty entertaining, not pausing on the fact that his new girlfriend’s name was Blue and then launching unprepared into a long speech he didn’t expect to be allowed to finish. Darlene was intoxicated by the notion that they might be able to reconcile, but some helpful heart-to-hearts with her family members showed that their marriage never really worked in the first place. At least their relationship can be civil, with Dan sternly warning him not to mess anything up and Roseanne comforting him with her assurances that she still wants him to prove her right. Harris could use a role model that she didn’t have to guilt into buying her weed or ice cream, and having both of her parents around and a bit happier might just set her in the right direction.

What I’m Watching: Good Girls

Good Girls: Season 1, Episode 8 “Shutdown” (B+)

This business truly is unpredictable, and it’s a wonder that our friends have hung in there this long. Though things are generally looking up and the emergencies have subsided, they still need money, and pushing kids around with housewives on the playground, cleaning toilets during the graveyard shift, and taking orders from an empowered teenager at a donut drive-thru are the miseries they have to endure try to make ends meet. It didn’t take Annie long to come up with another scheme to get rich quick, and it was easy to see just how vindictive she felt when Nancy told her not to lean back on the couch because of her hair oils. Ripping her off was a smart plan, though it would have been great if Annie had confirmed with the drug dealer who also sold Leslie the drugs he used to frame her that he could in fact move what they were stealing. Beth choosing to trust Dean to take care of it was a smart choice, though him forcing the doctor he paid off to lie to Beth about his cancer just complicates everything all that much more. Being honest with him about what they’re doing was unexpected, and hopefully he can help somehow as Ruby is sure to keep prodding into Stan’s work now that she knows he’s on the case that could put her behind bars, something she came way too close to experiencing when she was trying to scare her daughter straight. Mary Pat continues to be an intolerable, unsympathetic nuisance, and they’re going to have to find a permanent solution to that problem soon.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 4, Episode 7 “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” (B+)

It’s weird to see Liv looking more like a human and less like a zombie, especially when she’s on a brain that’s making her act especially sexual. Liv was running wild, texting a number of guys in the middle of the night to ask if they were “down to duck,” and the most entertaining part of it was how she tricked Levon into sharing a passionate kiss with her when he thought that she wasn’t on the brain anymore, only to discover that she was just trying to get rowdy with him. Clive’s efforts at romance were poor, starting with his Tinder photo that made him look teeny and his list of hates that included “This Is Us,” which I would agree, though not nearly as strongly, is somewhat emotionally manipulative. Putting on Liv’s fedora and telling prospective dates about Dale wasn’t much better, but at least he and Dale got to connect on a real level about how they still feel strongly about each other, determined to make it work somehow. I like that Clive knows that Liv is up to something and that his first instinct is to protect her even though she won’t discuss it with him, and hopefully Peyton will be just as sympathetic now that she’s caught Liv printing fake zombie IDs. I wasn’t too fond of all this “fake news” talk, but it does seem clear now that Chase, with Major by his side, is actively working to suppress the reporting of real information and deny what definitely happened, which is a worrisome development. Liv seemed shocked to find out that Angus was Blaine’s father, and I’m curious to see what she’ll do with that information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 3, Episode 14 “Schott Through the Heart” (B)

We haven’t seen this show in a while during its ten-week hiatus where “Legends of Tomorrow” took over its timeslot, and now we’re back into the swing of things with an isolated hour that gives us a break from the world-killer plotline. I loved seeing everyone doing karaoke, particularly Hank’s less-than-emphatic rendition, and the timing for Winn to find out that his father was dead was fitting. Laurie Metcalf, a recent Oscar nominee for “Lady Bird” and cast member on the “Roseanne” reboot, was an interesting choice to play Winn’s mother, returning to apologize for not reaching out to him and telling him to stand up straight before nearly being grabbed by flying monkeys. We also got a guest spot from Brooke Smith, who has gone from terrified victim in “The Silence of the Lambs” almost thirty years ago to the one terrorizing others as the Toymaker’s apprentice. I got momentarily confused when Metcalf’s Mary made a Luke Skywalker reference, mistakenly believing that Mark Hamill was the one who played the Toymaker when in fact he played a similar character on “The Flash” instead – too many superhero shows at the same time, I guess. M’yrnn bonding with Alex was a nice dramatic subplot, and it was good to see Alex and Hank connect once they both learned about M’yrnn’s deteriorating memory. I guess next week we’ll be back to the more urgent business at hand, with Lena hopefully keeping a lid on the Reign problem with Sam unconscious for the time being.

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 1, Episode 4 “Chapter Four: Commit to YOU” (B+)

Barry’s worlds are colliding in a way that he doesn’t seem to realize is very bad. His daydreams about the future are rather simplistic and remarkably specific, with Sally thanking him for the laptop he bought her and Jon Hamm complimenting him on his grilling and asking to use his toilet. Things didn’t pan out quite as well in reality, of course, as her response to the very expensive gift was one of shock and confusion, since it amounted to several months of rent for her. Inviting his Marine buddies to Natalie’s party was a poor idea, and their rowdy behavior was the least of his problems after he got drunk and then confronted eager actor Zach Burrows in an aggressively possessive way that really got Sally angry. They’re not nearly close enough for this kind of thing to happen, and Barry doesn’t yet understand how to pretend to be normal. I enjoyed his very passive take on “Glengarry Glen Ross” and how he managed to make the tirade not mean, and Cousineau performed an effective analysis of his deferential nature. I love that it propelled him to confront an unfazed Fuches. Sally’s would-be agent is a rather despicable guy, making her uncomfortable with a supposed joke about sleeping with her instead of signing her, and then failing to consider her a client when she went on the audition. Cousineau’s magic seemed like it might be working on Detective Moss, but it turns out she was just focused and now has a good lead on identifying Barry’s face from the video footage.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 5, Episode 4 “Tech Evangelist” (B+)

I cringed when Richard spent so much time trying to show that he had no issue with DeeDee’s site being exclusively for gay people, and I couldn’t have predicted that it would be his closeted status as a Christian that would be the undoing of their partnership. As poor a name as Octipipers is, the people that make up the group actually represent a big win for Pied Piper, which is poised to make a great debut the day before the release of the new Box. Laurie having an unexpected connection to someone at a top company through medically-supervised MDMA was odd but helpful, and crazy as their CEO may be, he’s now officially on board. I couldn’t figure out where I knew Colin from, and I was delighted to learn that Neil Casey played Sam Adams on the criminally-underrated and sadly-cancelled “Making History.” Gavin going off the grid with a cryptic message about the bear and the honey drove his minions crazy, and naturally it was just a literal statement about the bear-shaped jar of honey. It took Gilfoyle little time to find out that Jeff was the mole, and I love that they’re punishing him by making him spend time doing things he really doesn’t want to do with Dinesh. I thought that DeeDee had gone to Gavin after being offended by Richard, but instead he went to someone much worse: Jian Yang. Bighead actually owning Erlich’s stake was a great win by Jared, but now they’ll have to contend with Jian Yang’s Chinese New Pied Piper, which could prove to be a problematic competitor.

What I’m Watching: Timeless

Timeless: Season 2, Episode 5 “The Kennedy Curse” (B)

I’m surprised that this sequence of events hasn’t happened more on this show, with a famous person from the past that our team is trying to protect ending up having to be transported to the present. It was easy to identify John F. Kennedy right away in 1934 because of his accent alone, and it was a committed performance from actor Grant Jordan. His reactions to much of the technology that he didn’t understand were entertaining, and then he had a far more serious response to the Wikipedia articles about the deaths of his siblings and the Kennedy Curse. Once again, this show emphasizes its timeline-correcting stance, with Kennedy opting not to go to Dallas but getting assassinated at the same time in Austin instead. It’s good to know that Flynn is working with the team now, with the only real issue being seats in the lifeboat that forced them to leave him behind when they brought Kennedy back instead. The situation with Lucy and Jessica was hopelessly awkward, and I’m really curious if Jessica is a permanent addition to the show or if she’s going to disappear again soon, leaving Wyatt devastated and ready to run right back into Lucy’s arms. Carol taking Agent Christopher hostage to remind her that she too has a family was a foreboding development, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for Nicholas’ orders to take care of Lucy, with Emma as the very eager would-be assassin constantly trying to take her out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 3, Episode 4 “Hell of a Ride” (B+)

It’s truly appalling to see how viciously and unsympathetically some of the people on this show behave. It was no surprise that Dollar Bill was the one to lead the entire company in a celebratory cheer when Craig Heidecker’s shuttle exploded, with only Taylor and Mafee bothering to process the fact they were getting rich because a man died. Wendy took his death particularly hard, and it was interesting to see Chuck step in to comfort her since he understood the nature of their relationship and why he meant so much to her. Chuck really knew how to manipulate another dynamic, stepping in as the surprise guest to present his father with an award from Yale before which he padded his introduction with references to loyalty. The gambit worked, and Chuck got a strangely intimate and extended kiss on the lips from his father in addition to Ira going away as a threat. As Oliver gets angrier and angrier with Bryan for pushing, Chuck’s onetime loyal devotee is being successfully targeted by Axe’s henchmen, who aren’t too busy doing shadowy work for him to help Wags’ eternal resting place, a fittingly odd sudden obsession. As usual, Axe managed to manipulate everyone around him on his foundation board into enthusiastically endorsing his top choice, pitched by Oscar Langstraat, played by Mike Birbiglia from “Orange is the New Black.” For someone who’s trying not to trade, Axe is being awfully unsubtle about directly working with so many people he really shouldn’t be engaging in trading conversations.

Round Two: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 1, Episode 2 “I’ll Deal with Him Later” (B+)

I’m glad I decided to give this show a second chance since I think that this installment showed that it has a much clearer sense of purpose than I had seen in the pilot. Eve still talks a lot, but the way in which Carolyn refuses to even acknowledge her quirkiness makes her mildly more tolerable. It’s good to see that some of the characters we met in the pilot are going to be involved in Eve’s off-the-books investigation, and I like that Bill revealed himself to be less critical of Eve’s leadership, instead showing that he was pushing her to come up with helpful conclusions like the analysis that Villanelle liked killing long before she got paid to do it. The relationship between Villanelle and Konstantin continues to be immensely intriguing, and after she wore a totally uncharacteristic pink dress during her evaluation, she decided to lift the assignment that he opted not to give her and go through with it anyway. Taking out an office executive and then sitting down bored on the office chair was one thing, but there was something more chilling about her calmly watching her mark choke to death after inhaling some of the perfume she made and brought her. Sebastian seemed like a nice enough guy, but unfortunately he wasn’t long for this world, casually disposed of by Villanelle because he was starting to become a nuisance. He definitely couldn’t keep up with the ferocious pace of her intimacy-free sex. The end of the episode was cool, with both Villanelle and Eve realizing that they had met in person, setting the stage for Villanelle to take some undue initiative to track down the only person sincerely on her trail.

Pilot Review: Rellik

Rellik (Cinemax)
Premiered April 13 at 10pm

I try to go into all shows I watch knowing as little as possible about them, and therefore I misinterpreted the meaning of this show’s title. I assumed that it was a reference to the word “relic,” with characters coming back to life after being killed. Instead, it’s the word “killer” backwards, referencing the way in which the story is told. Unfortunately, this is no “Memento,” and the fact that it’s told in reverse is far from helpful. The actual rewind sequences are cool, but I wish that events were actually playing out in a different way that was based on some weird occurrence with a time loop than just being filled in to help the previous scene make more sense. I know I’m supposed to recognize Richard Dormer, who plays DCI Markham, from his role as Beric Dondarrion on “Game of Thrones,” but I don’t. I’m always happy to see Paterson Joseph, currently starring on “Timeless,” who I loved in his last British series role, as a bald deputy commissioner who got caught shoplifting shampoo once. This is hardly as entertaining a role, and this show in general is pretty miserable. The ultimate question with something dark and disturbing is always what the end game is that makes it all worth it, and my worry is that, when all is said and done and we get to the beginning of this story with multiple suspected killers, it’s still going to be a jumbled and uninviting mess. I’m not intrigued enough to keep watching.

How will it work as a series? That’s the operative issue – going only backwards in time is supposed to fill in more missing information, but it’s hard to remember what’s happened already, or rather what will happen, which makes it hard to piece everything together. There may be some worthwhile revelations, like the fact that Markham is married and that his wife knew about the affair, but overall it’s not a productive format for this particular story.
How long will it last? All six episodes of this show aired back in September on BBC1 in the UK, where it had a strong debut and then lost most of its viewership in subsequent weeks. The reviews aren’t great, and while I imagine that, even if this story is a closed loop, a second season could feature another such case in the same format. I doubt that’s going to happen from either BBC1 or Cinemax at this point.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 16 “Chapter Eighty” (B+)

I was wondering about this show doing a bit of a time-jump since I thought that we still had a few episodes left, but for some strange reason seventeen is the magic number this year. It does feel like pretty much everything has been wrapped up at the moment, with the ominous return of Rose and her need for Rafael to give her Luisa’s location as the one outstanding cliffhanger item. I was waiting for that to come back, and hopefully it will lead us to an intriguing fifth season. I’m glad that this show knows which moments to skip over since they’re not all that exciting, like Rafael working on his hotel development deal and Alba being really angry at him for yelling at her after she spanked Mateo. It’s understandable that Alba would feel powerless, especially with Xiomara struggling with her cancer with Rogelio by her side. The introduction of Amy Brenneman’s Donna was a tragically bittersweet addition since she helped Xiomara to feel better for a bit before suffering a relapse and untimely demise to leave her even more alone than before. The pot brownies that she left helped River to realize the importance of keeping telenovelas true to their roots, an apt plotline to be featured on a show that, more than any other show, is the closest America has come to a telenovela of its own. Magda proved not to be much of a problem, and things between Petra and JR may just work out if the newly disbarred lawyer doesn’t turn into an entirely different person without her job.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pilot Review: Lost in Space

Lost in Space (Netflix)
Premiered April 13

I’m confident that I’ve seen the original “Lost in Space,” but I honestly don’t remember anything about it other than “Danger, Will Robinson” being a key catchphrase. As a result, I was going into this remake without much context at all, and I’m pleased to report that this was an engaging opener. The stakes felt very high and these characters quickly became believable, forced to confront dangerous circumstances all on their own as a family. When I mentioned this remake to my mom, she asked about a stowaway aboard the ship, something that was only hinted at as the pilot closed, though Dr. Smith is an adapted character here, with Parker Posey’s mysterious criminal taking a man’s coat from him and stealing his identity while jumping aboard a ship. The familiar face that I knew here aside from Posey was Molly Parker, who I’ve liked since “Swingtown” and has more recently earned an Emmy nomination for her recurring role on “House of Cards.” She has exactly the right composure to play the wife of an absent husband who took it upon herself to make sure that all of her kids – including one who shouldn’t have – passed the necessary requirements to be able to head into space for colonization. Actress Taylor Russell, who plays Judy, was particularly impressive in this hour as it seemed like she wasn’t going to make it to episode two after she got stuck under the frozen water. The production values here are great, and this is a world I’d love to visit again, hoping for just as much intrigue in episode two and beyond.

How will it work as a series? They got lost in space and now they’re stuck on a mysterious planet. As they get to know this new world that they’ll call home, I imagine that we’ll see extensive flashbacks that explain how things got to where they are now and help to develop the characters. As long as that balance stays consistent, I think this show should remain interesting and very watchable.
How long will it last? Reviews don’t seem to be as overwhelmingly positive as I might have expected, and in fact they’re on the lower side of decent. The real question is how many people have already watched and will watch this show, including those who were fans of the original and those who have never heard of it. I think that Netflix will choose to invest in this one for a second season, but we’ll have to see how the numbers stack up.

Pilot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: Santa Clarita Diet

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Queen of England” (B+)

One of the best parts of this show is the relationship between Sheila and Joel, and this episode featured some entertaining banter that involved them shouting the same arguments at each other because they hadn’t moved past their fight to realize that they were in fact in agreement. I also love that they’re so concerned about being perceived well, whether it’s discussing Nazi-occupied bookshelves or the embarrassment of having nothing but a frozen lasagna and tomato soup to serve to Lisa and Ann for their long-postponed dinner. The notion that Ramona was a high-energy auctioneer before she became undead is far-fetched, and she went from using Eric to wanting to keep him forever in a short span of time. After they learned about Mr. Ball Legs, Sheila and Joel did a great job accidentally convincing her that she needed Eric to be her Joel, and I loved the moment where Sheila, Joel, and Abby all decided that they were going to try to protect Eric and save him from her grasp. After some awkward fighting, Abby proved that she is capable of more than just smacking bullies in the face with lunch trays and convinced Ramona to back down and move to Seattle to pursue the Joel she really needed. We still have the unresolved issue of Gary not wanting to die, and I for one really want to see this dinner party actually happen! More crucially, the clam special is the first clue that might explain how Sheila got this way, whether or not that will actually lead them to any more answers.

What I’m Watching: Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete: Season 2, Episode 6 “11 Million Reasons You Can't Go Home Again” (B+)

It would be have been irresponsible to assume that Maggie’s return after so much time away would be without awkwardness. Otto was so overjoyed to see her, while Audrey had considerably more complicated feelings. Maggie telling Audrey that she forgave her was a tense scene, and Carly being obnoxious after drinking too much didn’t help matters at all. Taylor telling his aunt that he didn’t want her causing any trouble was a particularly strong moment since we don’t often see that fiercely protective side of him except when he confronts Marius. It seemed like Joyce was onto Taylor and his collusion with his grandmother, but she seems much more interested in bolstering his ego and flirting with him. As Julia gets more and more money to have to launder, the heat is much more on her alleged cousin and her aunt, who are in the crosshairs of the FBI as their criminal pursuers get closer to them. It would be great if Marius revealed that he did wear a wire and therefore caught Luca’s murderous act on camera to convict him, but I can’t imagine things will be that easy, especially considering the fact that we have four more episodes left this season. I knew that Luca looked familiar, but I didn’t think that he was John Ales, who I remember best as Rehab on “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.” His affinity for coffee was introduced early on in the episode, and Joe being the only one to share it turned out to be his downfall, as he received a violent and scorching face full of his latest brew shortly before being executed. The real Pete is going to have no idea what’s coming for him, and let’s hope the other Murphys don’t suffer in the process.

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 4, Episode 10 “The Death Stick” (B+)

This has been an inarguably tumultuous year for our protagonists, and in this hour we had another death to rile them and make them realize that life is precious. Going to surprise Harriet with vagina balloons left them woefully unprepared for the news that she was dead, having gone out using their vibrator, no less. Grace attempting to do damage control and fielding questions like whether the vibrator was too dangerous for its target demographic was undercut incredibly by Frankie coming over and speaking directly into the recorder with an admission of their status as murderers. Grace made a good point that they had come so far with a business venture that no one expected to see succeed, and Frankie had undone much of that by presuming that they were responsible for her death. Fortunately, her cousin coming over and giving them the “I Am Harriet” shirts provided a huge boost to business, interrupted only by the ominous descent of the bathtub through the floor, which should give them plenty to clean up in the final three episodes of the season. Robert preparing opening arguments for couple’s therapy was entertaining, and I think he and Sol were both equally shocked at the suggestion of an open marriage to help fix their problems. Jessica St. Clair from “Playing House” was a great choice to play Brianna’s nemesis Lauren, and though it didn’t seem like it was going to turn out well for a while, the whole thing inspired Barry to quit and to tell Brianna that he was ready to stick it out with her regardless of whether Say Grace went under.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 2, Episode 7 “Champagne Papi” (B-)

Of course this show would have an episode about one of its characters trying to find a celebrity musician at a party. The manner in which it all played out is very typical of this show, with Van wandering through Drake’s humongous residential home in search of the VIP room that she saw on her phone, trying on clothes and scents along the way. Meeting his Spanish-speaking grandfather and finding out that he’s been on a Euro Tour the entire time was a fittingly disappointing ending. After an installment featuring just Darius, Van got her own spotlight here which showed just how much thinking about Earn is dragging down her life. Fittingly, he didn’t appear, but Darius did show up at the end to wax philosophic about how they’re not really there, babble that Van didn’t have any patience for. I’m not sure what the point of this episode was supposed to be, though there’s plenty of symbolism to be found in the line for photos with the Drake cutout so that they could make it seem like he was there. Drake’s nutritionist’s cousin was definitely overeager, but his willingness to go get Van food when she went into the bathroom made it seem like he wasn’t a bad guy or any real threat. The conversation about white women and black men was rather overt, and I’d like to get back to seeing the main characters on this show experience normal relationship problems and struggle to successfully pursue a music career.

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 17 “Sitter Dating Sister Mattress” (B-)

Why Jen continues to allow Clementine to babysit Lark when she so blatantly makes up excuses to cancel at the last minute is a mystery since she’s a very practical person and someone who probably wouldn’t mind paying for the right person to take care of her child. Discovering something like shoe shopping (but for people) gave them an abundance of candidates, and of course they would get fixated on one who Greg nearly alienated by sending so many messages to apologize for and clarify his previous e-mails. Their dream choice seemed perfect, and you’d think that it could have been something a bit less extreme than believing in ghosts, or at least asking if Lark slept in the bed or levitated above it. Ryan won over Samantha’s parents very easily, and Heather tried to be cool by accepting the open nature of teenage relationships rather than break the news about his many girlfriends to her, which proved to be the wrong choice since all Samantha got from her parents’ prying questions was an opening to say she didn’t want to know about it as long as it didn’t involve her teachers. Matt having slept with Colleen’s half-sister should have been enough to ruin her chances as a surrogate, but somehow her having slept with Greg instead made it worse. Some of John’s antics are relentlessly annoying, and his inability to choose a mattress was one of those. I knew I recognized the overeager salesman, who was played by Zack Pearlman, who recently portrayed Neil on “Shameless.” Picking out your deathbed is an arduous task, but it’s also possible to buy a replacement even if the warranty is still valid.

What I’m Watching: Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones: Season 2, Episode 6 “AKA Facetime” (B+)

I have to admit that I knew some of this was coming. The problem with watching a show that most people binge in a few days over the course is several months is that it’s possible to encounter spoilers. In this case, that wasn’t even what happened – I wanted to make sure that it was Janet McTeer playing the mystery woman we saw, and her character name was listed as Alisa Jones. Jessica’s past has always been unclear, but she evidently recognized the woman as her mother, and that development is one that remains intriguing even though it wasn’t a surprise to me. Her information-gathering process was entertaining as always, confronting Justice on the golf course and then tracking down his miraculously-healed son to convince him to tell her what she needed to know. Jessica did get some stress relief thanks to her paint-covered passion on Oscar’s floor, complete with a painting of her in bed waiting for her when she got home. Malcolm’s jaunt back to campus seemed to prime him for a very necessary conversation with Trish about addiction, but her latest hit prompted her to pounce on him and channel her energy in a different way. Trish is in serious trouble, and Jessica needs to start putting the pieces together rather than letting Trish dismiss her concerns as overbearing. I’m curious to see what will come of Inez’s heart-to-heart with Hogarth following her impulsive plan to steal from her, a potential path to softening the character who’s now surpassed Jessica as the angriest on this show. The best news to share this week – season three of this show has been ordered, and hopefully it will debut less than two and a half years from now!

Take Three: Alex, Inc.

Alex, Inc: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Butterfly Pavilion” (B-)

I’ll admit that this show is decently entertaining, but it feels very juvenile most of the time when it should feel cutting-edge. Some of it’s also just so random, like Eddie, who always thinks he knows what’s best for his cousin, making bus bench ads that make Alex look like a construction worker. Building a booth in the middle of the communal space was equally egg-headed since it meant that they were going to have to pay for the extra space used, and of course it was all just a lead-up to Alex overhearing, thanks to his loyal stalker-producer Deirdre, that Eddie just wanted him to be impressed by him for once. Turning the booth into a music recording studio so that the extra rent would go away was clever, and things appear to be looking up once again for this team. Alex wanting to make his own decisions so badly that he ate a rotten sandwich just to prove the point was ridiculous, but the scene was mildly funny. His son finding a guitar and suddenly being incredible at playing it thanks to a YouTube video was a stretch, and I suppose it’s sweet that he wants to score his father’s podcast. The running joke on this show is that Rooni isn’t the parent that either of her kids look to as reliable, and chaperoning a trip while working and stepping on the butterfly did little to help. Even though she was convicted by the jury of much younger non-peers, getting to teach them a bit about the law seemed like a rewarding opportunity for her.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 3, Episode 3 “Tourist Lesbians and Millennial Twats” (B+)

The real question on this show is that if Emma and Jack really do get divorced, does its title still apply, and what happens next? This episode answered that question in a fantastic way, starting out with Izzy not being mad, just like I had predicted, merely upset that she wasn’t in on the action. Jack is the one who has a lengthy history with Emma, but Izzy seemed completely unprepared to forgive her if she opted to leave again, which she did to try to suck up to her old best friend. Hannah was less dominantly pushy but much clingier than I expected when she met Emma, and she ultimately bowed out to allow them to work through everything. Izzy’s relationship with her dad still hasn’t gone anywhere concrete, but she did get scolded for not really making any progress on her thesis. I’m shocked that she’s the one who got a talking-to since it’s Nina who is spending every moment of her supposed work hours judging the men who want to date her without any real introspection, and I’m just waiting for the moment that Shaun finally explodes at her. Emma pounced on Kylie in a big way as soon as she returned to Seattle, the most obvious sign that she was hiding something. Ending with Jack and Emma turning a discussion about having a baby into foreplay was a clever segue into the hilarious, earth-shattering news that, six weeks later, Emma is the one who’s pregnant, throwing a huge wrench in everything that she had planned.

What I’m Watching: Legion

Legion: Season 2, Episode 2 “Chapter 10” (B)

This episode felt similar to the premiere for me – immensely intriguing but still dragged down a bit by its unapologetic weirdness. What is most interesting is the way in which Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny is figuring in to the storyline now that Amahl Farouk is a person with a body, even if it’s only within Oliver and David’s heads. Oliver told David that his associate was “who she needs to be at this moment” when he questioned her continued appearance given that he knew who she really was, and she made a case to Farouk that she was truly bored and wanted him to help her get a new body, a request that he pretty much denied. It’s fascinating to think that she’s not such a villain and just an accomplice, one who has outlived her purpose and wants to do something more fulfilling with her non-corporeal life. The cool titles sequence in the crystal ball led to Farouk bending the space around him in an equally mesmerizing way, touching the screen and erasing the scene he had created from existence. Battling against David with both of them in wrestling gear was an unexpected sight, and David was creative enough to combat his samurai with a tank. I forgot to mention how weird the new boss and his mustachioed female robot assistants were last week, and that shows no signs of getting any more normative. The newest musical number at least felt a bit more appropriate as Oliver and Lenny sang as they broke in to the compound. Kerry getting the chance to live on the outside of Cary’s body was interesting after Oliver caused their form to change, and their dynamic continues to be one of the best assets of the show. Syd’s questions about her future self were simplistic but informative, since David didn’t bother to address any of them, which nonetheless compelled Syd to suggest that he trust her.

What I’m Watching: New Girl (Season Premiere)

New Girl: Season 7, Episode 1 “About Three Years Later” (B-)

Raise your hand if you forgot this was still on! That’s likely because season six concluded last April, and it wasn’t clear whether it would return for a seventh and presumably final season at that point. The question now is if we needed to go beyond that romantic ending of Jess and Nick making out in the elevator after missing each other outside and in the apartment. The answer thus far is that we didn’t. It’s not that it’s awful, merely that it just didn’t need to exist. Nick did have a great proposal planned for Jess that she would have loved, but other factors, namely their former roommates, got in the way, and now it’s going to be delayed inevitably. It shouldn’t be such a big deal since the others have all coupled off, with Schmidt and Cece now raising a three-year-old and Winston and Aly preparing to have a baby of their own. Jess and Nick getting engaged is now just an inevitability, so why drag it out, especially when Jess’ dad is so excited? I’m also not sure why Dermot Mulroney’s Russell is back to offer Jess a dream job since that’s certainly going to throw Nick off even if his relationship with his ex-girlfriend stays completely professional. Schmidt’s mustache plotline was a waste, while Aly wanting to be treated normally before realizing that she is indeed giving birth to a human life was more worthwhile. I’m not sure what’s going to come of this eviction notice, but, even if this show isn’t anywhere near as great as it once was, I’ll stick around for the final eight episodes.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Take Three: Splitting Up Together

Splitting Up Together: Season 1, Episode 3 “Street Meat” (B-)

This episode got away from the theme of having one parent in charge of the week, mainly because Lena allowed Maya a crack at taking care of the children that she started to think she might want to have. I’m all for giving Diane Farr as much as possible to do since I think she’s a tremendous actress who deserves a much bigger spotlight than a supporting role on this show. She did her best to be the fun parent despite Mae’s constant judgments of her, and then she ended up being happy with how things turned out even if they seemed questionable in the moment. Mason’s Uber date complete with different sexual milestones being offered based on the class of service requested represents the most up-to-date technological humor I’ve ever seen, though I find it hard to believe that these kids would be so well-versed in the different kinds of rides they could take with their parents’ permission. It should have been obvious to Charlotte that Martin was only learning how to dance so that he could woo his ex-wife, and his failure to notice that she was into him was strictly because of that. Unfortunately, her mistaken belief that he was already dating led to Lena opening up to a new guy with a very atypical romp in his car right in front of the house, devastating Martin, who has now missed his chance with a woman who was actually in to him. I’m not feeling so much like I need to catch episode four and beyond, but I may still opt to tune in.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 4, Episode 17 “Null and Annoyed” (B+)

Ralph has definitely grown as a character on this show since he first showed up, and he’s now a legitimate part of the team, one who values joke-telling over taking any situation seriously, something that has really begun irking Barry. Their latest bus meta had quite the cool power, able to levitate objects and people. Having a real getaway car in place so that she could force Barry to let her escape was clever, and of course it had to be Ralph with his unconventional improvisation who saved the day by cuffing her feet and inflating himself to cushion Barry’s landing. I suppose that she wasn’t likely to join them in their quest to defeat DeVoe, and therefore they just have to move on to the other two. It seems like they would have a likelier ally in Marlize, who realized that her husband had been drugging her and that she had previously recorded a video telling herself not to forget and to run. Let’s hope that she did something this time that will help her to remember and switch sides at just the right moment to help Team Flash secure a victory against their most formidable nemesis. As Harry gets more and more frustrated with his own thinking cap not working, he’s apparently up to something more sinister with Gideon where the original Wells used to inspect the future news. Breacher returning was a bit silly but an important lesson about getting old, and I’d really much rather just having Gypsy around full-time than have to put Cisco in the position of considering a move to a new and far less heroic line of work. I don’t know much about Jay and Silent Bob, but I did notice their cameo as the hapless security guards that Null made look even more stupid, a humorous and harmless enough guest spot.

Take Three: Roseanne

Roseanne: Season 10, Episode 4 “Eggs Over, Not Easy” (B)

This show really knows what it wants to be, and after dealing with one problematic grandchild last week, now the focus is on the child we didn’t see in that episode. I had expected that Becky having a baby for Andrea would be a plotline carried throughout the entire season and perhaps beyond, but that dream was derailed pretty quickly. Roseanne didn’t need to call Andrea and tell her that Becky had lied about her age since that very fact made her ineligible to have the baby, prompting Andrea to awkwardly say goodbye and demand her expensive bedazzled egg back. While the first instinct of every member of this extended family is to list a person’s flaws for as long as they can until they’re interrupted, they’re also capable of some affirming interaction as well. Darlene had a few drinks with her sister, and Roseanne honestly admitted that she sometimes forgets that there are other people who apparently want stuff too. After everyone piled on Jackie and how she was the perfect person to get a dog because she had no life and no one to love her, she expressed some of her true individuality by training her dog to be an independent thinker, an excuse Dan realized meant that he didn’t listen to any of her commands. Dan realizing that he had upset Roseanne when he told her to drop it produced a humorous response when he requested something for lunch that had been prepared and sealed somewhere else.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Round Two: The Crossing

The Crossing: Season 1, Episode 2 “A Shadow Out of Time” (B)

I honestly hadn’t expected to stick with this show past episode one, and this installment didn’t really push me either way as far as episode three and beyond are concerned. What this episode did right in its opening moments was to show events in 2187, which is the most appealing part of this episode. We can now understand how Reece deviated from her Apex programming to feel compassion for a baby that her fellow soldier was going to shoot, and then she went rogue after her assigned companion turned her in. Her love for this “common,” as humans are referred to in the future, who is afflicted with a disease engineered by Apex, encouraged her to apparently switch sides, though I can’t imagine the humans of that area would be okay with that. Lindauer is doing his best to keep a lid on the situation, being officially put in charge of these refugees and trying to keep his fellow Apex colleagues from taking action that will prove too decisive. What’s dragging this show down is Jude not knowing whether he can trust Reece and giving her a gun before locking her in so that she can’t hurt anyone. Nestor demanding a full report of “any erotic escapades” is the kind of thing that this show really doesn’t need, and I’d be much more interested in the details of how they found a way to “bend time” and why it is that their trip didn’t go as planned and spat them out in the middle of the water.

What I’m Watching: Good Girls

Good Girls: Season 1, Episode 7 “Special Sauce” (B+)

Things were looking very good for our three protagonists at the start of this episode as they counted up the money they were making and got to indulge in expensive delights: a necklace for Annie, suits for Sadie from Annie, and an absurdly fancy meal for Ruby and Stan that just made them crave pizza. Unfortunately, success breeds greed and other bad things, and Rio wasn’t happy at all to learn that some of the cash hadn’t actually been laundered. Beth had a smart plan to find out which one of their shoppers was lying and just filling out surveys, one that worked very well even if it led them to a different outcome than they had expected. I was pleased to see Allison Tolman from “Fargo” in a role that initially appeared comical when Annie yelled at her for suggesting recycling, but it turns out she’s sticking around for a far more problematic part, blackmailing them for hush money after realizing that Annie mentioning the “same cash” didn’t add up to a legal business. It’s good to see Beth continue to hold her own against Rio, giving him her name instead of the real culprit’s to prevent any bloodshed. Annie sleeping with her ex is sure to have poor implications, but she’s going to need to focus on her arrest after Leslie framed her. Stan did the right thing after spending way too much money on concert tickets, but now he’s going to be way too close to what’s going on as the newest member of Agent Turner’s task force.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 4, Episode 6 “My Really Fair Lady” (B+)

I was pretty thrilled to see a familiar face from another CW series at the start of this episode, though sadly she didn’t make it past the opening scene, even if her theatrical inclinations did. Rachel Bloom from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was a fun choice to play the director of a version of “Rent” adapted for the new zombie reality, and watching Liv motivate her trafficker minions with some acting lessons was a delight. Every show with a foreign performer playing an American role loves to gives its star the opportunity to use their native accent, and it really was jarring to hear Rose McIver sound like she does in real life, latching on to the “Lord of the Rings” New Zealand idea in order to keep the security guard distracted. Though it’s not a major role, I was happy to see Melissa O’Neil from “Dark Matter” as one of the traffickers who was initially not too keen on Liv’s leadership style but then got into the role-playing when they got stopped driving in and she recited the lines right off the script. Liv scratching the people they rescued on camera was intense, and shows her fearless commitment to helping to save lives despite the risks involved. After cruelly turning away a hungry zombie, Blaine now has a much bigger problem on his hands, to the tune of a free lunch for everyone in his father’s church once a week. Though Ravi’s heroin addict phase was a bit over-the-top, I’m so glad to see that it produced a wonderful result that I’ve been hoping for all along: the rekindling of the relationship between Peyton and Ravi!

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow (Season Finale)

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 18 “The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly” (B)

Okay, so this episode was pretty silly. I’m not sure how I expected that the legends were going to be able to defeat Mallus, but it sure wasn’t by holding hands and creating a life-size Beebo to cuddle him to death. This show is first and foremost about entertainment, and that’s what we got in an episode which saw the group’s most formidable foes reincarnated by Mallus to fight against them. It was great to see Jax, apparently now a father, show up with a few other friends in tow to help save the day. I’m curious to see what will come of Ray going back in time with Dahrk so that he could switch places with his daughter, since I’d find it a bit of a stretch for Nora to be welcomed as part of the team after she tried to kill them in a way far less forgivable than other members with questionable past interactions with them. Rip’s sacrifice was noble but hardly relevant in the grand scheme of things since he’s barely been around recently. The other major loss on the good side is that of Amaya, who, especially after seeing a kindhearted version of Kuasa, felt that it was time to return home. Her final scene with Nate demonstrated just how strongly she felt about Nate, and after she decided not to have her memory erased, hopefully that means she may one day return to work with the legends. The return of Constantine with bad news about other demons suggests a less-than-desirable direction for season four, which was officially commissioned last week. I’m excited no matter what – this show is a blast.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Neal McDonough as Damien Dahrk

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 3, Episode 3 “A Generation Too Late” (B+)

It’s so interesting to see the values that are guiding the characters on this show and where they fall on the moral scale. Opening the episode with Ira watching as his future wife casually got $280 worth of truffles on her pasta before he told her he couldn’t afford to propose showed just how miserable he had become, which is why he was unexpectedly open to Axe’s proposal of a buyout for way more money than his company was worth in exchange for being decidedly on Axe’s side in the case. Ira held to his deal with Chuck and stopped Ira as soon as he mentioned Chuck’s involvement in illegal activity, whereas Bryan was much more ready to hear what he had to say. I was worried that Bryan was going to drink and do something stupid, and instead he just opted to make an aggressive move against the guys that he knew he didn’t like. Chuck, on the other hand, is facing a moral dilemma of his own, one which is now going to have him truly working to achieve good, a far nobler aim than his self-serving activities prior to this have been. His father was legitimately surprised that he was open with Wendy about what he had done to him, and it’s a wonder that she’s able to handle all these mind-boggling conflicts of interest. Taylor’s hiring process is fascinating, and I particularly enjoyed seeing Will Roland from “Dear Evan Hansen” as one candidate who tried to be way too cocky and ended up without any shot at getting the job.

Take Three: Barry

Barry: Season 1, Episode 3 “Chapter Three: Make the Unsafe Choice” (B+)

I really like the tone of this show, which was best exemplified in this episode by Hank gleefully calling Barry to tell him he mailed a bullet to the guy Barry is supposed to take out and opening the conversation with a remark about how nice a day it was. Hank and Goran were so excited about the arrival of their replacement hitman, who turned out to be the aging and unhappy Stovka, played by Larry Hankin, who I’ll always remember as Mr. Heckles from “Friends.” Fuches actually played no role whatsoever in bringing about Stovka’s self-inflicted demise, trying instead to compel him to stay alive for reasons only he could help create, and fortunately Goran seems to have taken a liking to him, feeding him a decent meal while still leaving him attached to the chair by bicycle lock. I love how dryly Barry reads all of his lines when he’s going through scenes with Sally, who he truly respects and admires as an actress. Getting called for the role of a mom in the TV version of “We Bought a Zoo,” a movie often mocked for its unimaginative title and less-than-substantive plot, seemed like a real win for Sally, until she found out that the only reason for it was that her little-liked costar from the ill-timed “Bonnie and the Boston Bombers” was the lead. I’m always fond of Kat Foster from “Weeds” and much more, who here got to play the nemesis who made Sally cry and sent her right into the welcoming arms of Barry, who may now be embarking on a positive relationship that is going to conflict greatly with the new work that Fuches has promised the Chechens he’ll do.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 5, Episode 3 “Chief Operating Officer” (B+)

If there’s one thing that Richard doesn’t really need, it’s a new friend. His relationships with the three people he spends time with are already unstable and unpredictable enough, and a person who’s just as awkward and antisocial as him is hardly going to make a proper companion. Ben was far more forthcoming with the conversation than his boss Dana, and his manipulation of the situation ended up pushing Richard to much more decisive and forceful in a positive way than usual, telling him that he hadn’t in fact offered him a job and that he didn’t want to work with someone like him. Jared could use a win after constantly working as a peacemaker between parties that don’t get along and sleeping on the couch while Richard slept in his bed, and his ability to come up with a solution that saved them and didn’t screw Gilfoyle over was fittingly rewarded with the offer of the COO job, one he essentially already does anyway. Gilfoyle taunting Dinesh has officially created some real problems, as Dinesh’s new roommate just happens to be Gavin’s mole. It would be great if Dinesh actually paid some attention to what was going on and didn’t go ahead and tell the person who’s the mole how excited he was that they had a mole. It was impressive to see a seemingly deranged Gilfoyle realize that the fridges were all bugged, a fact that, regardless of whether the recordings had ever been listened to, was enough to make the executives drop their suit and partner with Pied Piper instead. Let’s hope Gilfoyle realizes Dinesh’s stupidity and feeds him false information to prove that he’s the one leaking to the mole before too much more damage is done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What I’m Watching: Timeless

Timeless: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Salem Witch Hunt” (B)

Jessica’s sudden return meant that Wyatt was fully out of commission for this episode, but he did exactly what a person should do when their dead wife is brought back to life thanks a time machine: tell her everything. He was distraught that this version of him had allowed things to get to the point that she had signed divorce papers, and she wasn’t at all ready to believe any of what he told her. Seeing the lifeboat return with its crew dressed in pilgrim clothing was enough, and now I guess he’s going to devote himself to trying to spend time with her for as long as she sticks around. It appears that Carol may have been the one who brought her back rather than a Rittenhouse mission meant to distract the team, since this entire Salem expedition was all a device to allow her to convince Lucy to help save herself from Nicholas’ decisive orders to have her taken out. There are so many different theories of time travel, and this episode employed two things it hasn’t featured all that much before. Upon returning to the present, Gia knew of the Salem Witch Trials as the Salem Witch Revolt and wasn’t familiar with the term “witch hunt,” and Gia’s vision about Rufus killing the pilgrim didn’t play out as she had seen it but did find the timeline correcting itself to ensure his death. On the acting side of things, I recognized familiar guest stars Henri Lubatti from “Sleeper Cell” and Patrick Fischler from “Mad Men” mostly by their voices as pilgrims not fated for greatness.

Pilot Review: Killing Eve

Killing Eve (BBC America)
Premiered April 8 at 8pm

I was very excited for this show, namely because BBC America has produced two of my favorite series in the past few years, the tragically short-lived “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and the praised but still underrated “Orphan Black.” The most appealing thing about this show is that it’s created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the talented mind behind and star of “Fleabag.” I’m also fond of the genre, though I’m not sure that this conforms exactly to a typical thriller since it’s laced with some peculiar comedy. Opening with Villanelle pushes the little girl’s ice cream so that it spilled on her was strange but helpful in establishing the tone here. The introduction to Sandra Oh’s Eve was particularly undramatic, and she still seems to be a questionable lead for this show. I think I would have preferred if Waller-Bridge herself was playing either of these roles, and I don’t think that Oh is the best fit. Jodie Comer, on the other hand, does seem impressive, zipping herself into a suitcase and calmly suggesting a hairstyle for Eve before massacring everyone in the hospital. It’s also good to see Fiona Shaw used in an atypical role for her, far more prominent than the supporting parts she’s played recently in “Lizzie” and “Colette” and more normative and business-oriented than the wild one she had on “True Blood.” I’m still extremely curious to see where this goes, particularly as Eve becomes a secret agent and gets closer to realizing that she saw Villanelle and is the best person to go after all. Let’s hope for a more well-rounded second installment.

How will it work as a series? This show is based on novellas, which means that there’s good source material to inspire the eight-episode first season. What needs to happen – and soon – is to firmly establish Eve as a character capable of more than just following a hunch, as her relationship with Villanelle becomes more complex and intense. I still need to see more to be convinced that it can be truly compelling.
How long will it last? Well, the good news is that this show was renewed late last week in advance of its debut. Reviews seem to be pretty good, and so as long as the ratings deliver, I think this show is going to have a promising future, though I imagine it will only end up being two seasons unless Waller-Bridge wants to continue beyond that.

Pilot grade: B

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 15 “Chapter Seventy-Nine” (B+)

In the very incestuous world that exists on this show, it’s fun to see a character that we’ve gotten to know separately from our primary protagonists get to interact with them for the first time. Rafael showing up early with the girls created the uncomfortable situation of JR walking out of the shower and then professing to Petra that she didn’t like kids, something that proved less problematic for their relationship than the fact that JR really wasn’t too fond of Jane, who proved just how intense and unstoppable she was by cornering JR in an elevator. It’s nice to see where the friendship between Petra and Jane has gone, and we’re actually dealing with an entirely new Petra now too, one who’s about to face a challenge she thought she had overcome, as her mother somehow plans to try to ruin her life once again. Xiomara is showing how much of a force she is, determined to see her mother pass her citizenship test with flying colors and not about to let her cancer get in the way of that. It was cringe-worthy to see Rogelio play the cancer card to get out of telling Darcy about his new show, but fortunately Xiomara didn’t seem too angry and it enabled them to connect about how they might try to be less awful to each other. Jane casually saying “I love you” to Rafael for the first time was sweet, and I love how well their relationship is progressing, with a surprising real estate question that’s going to be a big change! The best news of all is that this show will be back for a fifth season, which will probably be its last – a bittersweet truth, but at least we’ll end up with about a hundred episodes, which isn’t all that bad!

What I’m Watching: Santa Clarita Diet

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2, Episode 3 “Moral Gray Area” (B+)

I enjoy just how much Joel wants them to try to have a normal life, obsessing over getting his Chinese food before the place closes in between delivering Gary’s last wishes to his niece and dealing with his decapitated head in their basement. It isn’t quite clear why they felt they needed to honor Gary’s request, though I suppose burying his head while he was still undead wasn’t the kindest thing to do, even if it was an accident. Things have gotten so far from normal that Abby did find Gary’s head in the basement but didn’t even stop to ask questions or judge her parents because she just didn’t want to deal with it. As Joel was admiring all of Boone’s woodwork, Sheila was thrilled to discover that there is an entire baseball team of Nazis that she can opt to hunt down and eat should she ever get too hungry, the perfect solution to the “moral gray area” issue that they’ve constantly been grappling with as her appetite grows. I was waiting to see what would be wrong with Kayla since she seemed so nice, and her quick switch to angry swearing was a fitting preface to the introduction of her Nazi ex. Eric had quite the experience with the emotionless Ramona, who gave him the time of his life before revealing her utter lack of interest and the fact that she used him for his zombie medication. If nothing else, it was great to see Abby show up in full combat gear and express later to Eric just how attached to him she feels.

Monday, April 9, 2018

What I’m Watching: Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete: Season 2, Episode 5 “The Tower” (B+)

This show continues to astound me with the directions its plot takes and just how expertly Marius gets everyone in his life to work together to help him even though they have no idea who he really is. The reverend holding a gun on Marius and Joe didn’t matter much since she fell asleep, and her referencing his brother’s toe was one of just a few signs that tipped Joe off to the fact that the man he believes is Pete really isn’t. I enjoyed the conversation between Joe and Frank about how they used to like what they were doing and how they had to come up with a plan to avoid being put into acid. Marius found a perfect way to weasel out of Joe’s custody with Marjorie’s help, getting his trusty parole officer James Bagwell to come and pick him up. He didn’t expect Joe to go to him later, a pretty bold move for the criminal henchman, and he also wasn’t necessarily ready to bring him to meet the fake daughter and dog he concocted. It was great to see Julia spring into action to pretend to be the “wrecked” ex-wife and convince Bagwell that it was too much of a headache to stick around. The problem is that too many Murphy family members know the name Marius Josipovic. Taylor tried to throw Joyce off by happening to notice that his grandmother’s car was the same model they were looking for, but she’s definitely onto them and isn’t likely to give up pursuing it anytime soon. In a rare moment of strength, Otto did a great job intimidating the man in possession of the jacket, and with Sam’s help, he was able to get out of his bind and move on to telling Carly move than she ever thought she’d learn about her parents. Maggie showing up at the end of the episode at the family farm and hugging Marius as Pete was a magnificent cliffhanger to end on – I can’t wait for the next episode!

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 4, Episode 9 “The Knee” (B+)

I guess this show doesn’t provide happy endings all the time. I was cheering when “Longmire,” an acquired Netflix show I love, was referenced by Frankie and Jacob since I know very well that its average audience was much, much closer to that of the actors on this show than my own. Unfortunately, snuggling up to watch the slow but strong Wyoming-set mystery series was part of what did in the relationship between Frankie and Jacob, which was felled not by an act of betrayal or any real event at all, merely a realization that a long-distance relationship at this point in their lives wasn’t what Jacob wanted. Grace has had to help Frankie through a lot in the past, even if this season has been more about Grace coming to terms with her physical decline that Frankie is more than willing to acknowledge, and we may see an overly mopey Frankie in the coming episodes. I really enjoyed watching Nick try to be helpful for Grace only to realize that he had never done anything for himself, and Brianna and Mallory teaming up against him was particularly funny. Coyote was quite chivalrous in trying to respect Nadia not wanting to have sex, but those beans were not helpful enough when he spilled them, forcing him to remove his shirt. Parenthood has been covered in sitcoms so many times, and I’m glad to see that this show is doing well by just showing how lost and frazzled Bud and Allison are by their inability to be sure that they’re doing the right thing.

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 2, Episode 6 “Teddy Perkins” (C)

I’m really not sure what to say. My first thought is that it was foreboding to watch Darius drive off to a remote area to meet a mysterious white man after seeing what happened to Lakeith Stanfield in “Get Out.” This episode makes sense in the trajectory of Stanfield’s career, which next includes a role in another project slyly – and wildly – taking on race relations, “Sorry to Bother You,” which will be out in theaters this summer. I think what a lot of people like about this show in particular is how it tends to separate from reality and hone in more on dark parody, like the “B.A.N.” episode last season, not worrying about how or whether it will connect to the main storyline, if this show could even be described as having one. I was curious, as I’m sure all viewers were, what actor that I should have recognized was playing Teddy, and it turns out that it was Donald Glover. I’m not so sure what this episode accomplished, and its weirdness didn’t feel worth it for me because of the uneasy feeling it created for no clear purpose. Darius calling Paper Boi while he was demanding that his burgers come without fries and getting the motivation to close the deal was a nice interruption from everything, and the fact that such a distraction was welcome is a sign that this episode really didn’t need to exist at all. I imagine there are those who loved it, but I’ll just stick with being perplexed.

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 3, Episode 16 “Pageant Bike Animals Jerky” (C)

It’s hard in a sense to grade episodes of this show since the first vignettes can vary so much in quality, and this one felt like a real letdown since only one of them – the last one – was moderately tolerable. The suspension of disbelief necessary on this show is often too much, and some characters get taken way too far in a manner that’s just not necessary since they’re already appealing and funny as they are. Colleen was the prime example in the first segment, playing dress-up with Lark and then somehow deciding that it was appropriate to sign her up for a pageant. Jen yelling at her only to apologize for referencing her real fertility struggles felt out of place since this show rarely does drama, and everything about the routine was a bit much to take. Greg, Matt, and Joan constantly forgetting Tim as they tried to get Joan’s stolen bike back was worthwhile only for the final moment of that segment, in which Tim suggested to the seller who was planning to hold him hostage in exchange for payment for the bike that he might want to try another approach. I hated everything about the musical vignette, and I’d really rather not say anything more about that. Clementine and Tyler are always fun to watch, though they weren’t all that into this whole jerky thing which they thought they could sell with John’s likeness on it for free. Rebranding it as dog food was clever, but also a fitting summary to an off-kilter and ineffective episode.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace (Season Finale)

Will and Grace: Season 9, Episode 16 “It’s a Family Affair” (B)

It’s hard to believe that this show has already aired a full season since returning after its long break off the air. More incredible is the fact that it really didn’t change that much, catching up on current politics but keeping its comic timing and its general format the same. Grace inviting Will’s mother to come to their apartment as a way of getting revenge on Will for accidentally suggesting that her father move in with them did manage to backfire pretty quickly, mainly because she forgot that she too lived would be affected by her presence. It wasn’t at all surprising that the two parents decided to sleep together, and it wouldn’t be a season finale without an impulsive decision like a marriage proposal after just one night of passion. I’m more okay with that than with Jack asking Estefan to propose to him since he’s managed to be extremely irritating after just one episode, and he’s the kind of character who goes for much broader comedy like pretending that he doesn’t know that Grace is a woman. Karen making the choice to stick with Stan was also a bit predictable even if it’s relatively illogical, and having both her and Malcolm plant kisses on Smitty instead of on each other was silly but moderately entertaining physical comedy. I’m not sure I would have brought this show back, especially over the many other series that I’ll one day list which would be my top picks for resuscitation, but some time away has made this show enjoyable again in a harmless way. With two more seasons already ordered, I’m happy to keep watching for the time being.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Sean Hayes as Jack

What I’m Watching: Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones: Season 2, Episode 5 “AKA The Octopus” (B+)

Fortunately, Jessica’s stint in jail didn’t last all that long, but the fact that someone was able to frame her like that was immensely problematic. She was pissed at Hogarth for not just fixing it, and had a great time making light of how she didn’t give the guard a chance to shoot her. It is nice to know that some people are actually are on her side, like Detective Costa, who remembered Kilgrave and appreciated her role in taking him out for good. Malcolm was right to ask Jessica if she had been given a sedative because she was being nice to him for once, and it was strange to see Jessica trying to approach a witness with kindness rather than brawn when she posed as a therapist to interview Dave. She certainly felt out of her element when she showed up to watch Griffin propose to Trish, who made the soul-crushing move of saying “thank you” to his proposal rather than accepting it. Slapping her mother for judging her was one thing, but taking another hit of the energy booster that she really doesn’t need shows that she’s addicted and spiraling out of control, something that Jessica probably won’t be able to notice right now. The mystery woman was playing piano rather civilly only to go crazy and start smashing it when her baby’s neighbor began to cry, and now she’s caused a scene which is going to force Jessica to try to save everyone somehow from the exploding aquarium. I’m excited to see that Callum Keith Rennie from “Battlestar Galactica” as the man who was with her, who seemed much less angry to see her than his superpowered companion.

Round Two: Alex, Inc.

Alex, Inc: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Wax Museum” (B-)

This episode had an important distinction to make, one which affects how this show should be perceived going forward. Either it was going to be a fresh series about someone making it in the podcasting world, or it was going to be Zach Braff being Zach Braff. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it is entertaining, the latter choice makes this show slightly less appealing if only for its lack of originality. Alex having to mediate fighting between Deirdre and Eddie is one thing, but trying to prove that the chair that naturally leans forward actually works fine only to be ejected onto the floor twice emphasizes physical comedy over more depth that’s lacking here. His first idea should have been to have the two meetings together to impress them in one fell swoop, and his lamentable attempt to run between the two while lying through his teeth was a waste of time. Signs like “no arguing in the common areas” take the initial joke of “no podcasting in kitchen area” too far, making it hard to take this show seriously. There is a surprising lack of consequences for anything that he does, namely because his loyal wife is going to step in at every turn before Soraya leaves him a precocious note for when he gets home late. Rooni convincing Ben to dress up as Eleanor Roosevelt was creative, and it was winning most for the way in which it embraced Ben’s unique sensibilities. I’m not sure I need to be watching this show, but I could give it a few more episodes if my wife continues to enjoy it.

What I’m Watching: National Treasure (Season Premiere)

National Treasure: Season 2, Episode 1 “Kiri: Episode 1” (B-)

I was very impressed by Hulu’s import from Channel 4 starring Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, and Andrea Riseborough that anticipated the #metoo era with its portrait of an older actor who honestly couldn’t remember whether or not he had done the terrible things of which he was accused. I would have been very intrigued to see those characters again and have that story continue even though it did had a satisfying conclusion, and instead we get another four-episode story that’s completely unrelated. Objectively, this material isn’t nearly as interesting, although I suppose it’s meant to be topical since it does deal with race relations and childcare. I’m not familiar with Sarah Lancashire, a popular British actress, who here has the role of Miriam, the social worker who managed to let this whole unfortunate process get started. The incredulousness with which she responded to the news of Kiri going missing was truthful, since she doesn’t have a good handle on what she’s supposed to be doing, and now she’s going to take the fall for a situation that involves other parties doing things they shouldn’t be. With more and more four-episode shows like this premiering, mostly from the United Kingdom, I’ve learned that it’s not a whole lot of time to commit, but I have yet to see anything as immensely intriguing and involving as the first season of this show, which impressed me right from the start. This story just doesn’t compare to that one and therefore isn’t something I’ll plan to continue watching.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pilot Review: The Last O.G.

The Last O.G. (TBS)
Premiered April 3 at 10:30pm

Tracy Morgan is back on TV. The former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and Emmy-nominated “30 Rock” star had a long recovery after a serious car accident four years ago, but now he’s returning to a show all his own. I ate a brownie with his face on the wrapper at South by Southwest as part of an advertisement for this show, and I think that TBS is absolutely the right network to be broadcasting this series. Morgan has always been known as a bit of a loose cannon whose similarly-named character Tracy Jordan really wasn’t all that different from him. At the very least, this show gives him an opportunity to play someone just trying to be taken seriously who’s still subject to whims that aren’t all that advisable and don’t help him make the case that he’s a reformed, productive member of society ready to be a parent. The premise of this show actually works pretty well, as his released convict discovers that the hood is gone and that there’s really no place for him in this gentrified society which has even taken his ex-girlfriend away from him. Silly as some of this may have been, the episode’s end was one that was winning and heartwarming, with Tray happily affirming that he’s a father, not bothering to think about the top donor who his cousin just hit with his car and all about that moment of optimism. I still haven’t seen “Girls Trip,” but from what I’ve heard about Tiffany Haddish, I’m not sure this is the best showcase for her comedy skills since it’s hardly the meatiest role. I’d be content checking back in with this show if it earns any awards nominations down the road, and I think it’s exactly the kind of fare that TBS wants to champion as its brand.

How will it work as a series? Shay didn’t even bother to try to deny that the twins are Tray’s, and that’s going to be a mistake she’ll surely pay for as he tries to make his way into their lives and get to know them despite her most serious objections. Hopefully the blend of moderately sincere drama and outright comedy of Tray’s character will be a good and balanced one.
How long will it last? The reviews are decent, but they almost don’t matter. Not only was this premiere the best one TBS has ever seen, it was also the biggest cable comedy premiere in three years. It’s guaranteed a renewal now, and I imagine that it will have a long and productive run given these opening numbers and Morgan’s popularity.

Pilot grade: B

What I’m Watching: Legion (Season Premiere)

Legion: Season 2, Episode 1 “Chapter 9” (B)

I was so excited that this show, my favorite on the air last season, was returning for a second round. While there were some typically astonishing moments in this premiere, it was dominated more by its true irreverence and odd nature that make it a bit hard to love. The opening shot of Oliver and Lenny relaxing in the water inside the mind of Farouk, now played by Navid Negahban from “Homeland,” inside the body of Oliver in the bar was mesmerizing, and that whole concept is one that’s now going to dominate this season as Division 3 tries to stop Farouk from connecting his mind with his body, wherever it may be hidden. I knew I recognized Jon Hamm’s voice as the narrator, a very effective way to describe what the road to psychosis is like as presented on this show. The story of how Division 3 works, with the three separate units headed by our familiar characters, was an interesting one, and it creates a good structure for a show that tends to get distracted by dance numbers with its characters as they go deep within their minds to figure out if they can get back the memories that have been lost within the year that’s gone by since the end of the first season. I’m still a big fan of Cary and Kerry and how they work together, and the bond between Syd and David is compelling as ever. Clark having ice cream put in front of him as David was alleging his amnesia was a great moment, and I’m hoping for more like those in the episodes to come.

Round Two: Splitting Up Together

Splitting Up Together: Season 1, Episode 2 “Devil May Care” (B)

I’m still not sure about the enduring power of this show and its premise, but this second installment was fun. The initial squabble between the former couple about who got the comforter took a backseat to the challenges Martin faced in taking care of the kids and proving that he could be just as competent as Lena. Mae was the one who created difficulty for him, objecting to the way in which he generalized about women, and watching him try to wrestle with her while she just laid there was pretty painful. Putting on pink hats with the boys was a decent attempt at a peace offering that didn’t go over too well, and it was only after he did some serious reading and made an honest effort that he found a way to get through to her. The fact that his unattractive mush turned out to be delicious was a nice win for him, and he’s definitely on the path to being a more present parent even if he’s not aware of the existence of serving utensils for a shared dish. Lena had some troubles of her own going on a date, giving way too much direction on how to kiss to the doctor that she found very charming. I like that she tried to appear less high-strung to the guy at the bar who started chatting her up when he left, but still made sure to note that she wasn’t going to be able to mute her impulses. I’d be curious to see where that relationship goes.