Sunday, July 21, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3, Episode 9 “Heroic” (B)

June was on display in front of the cameras just two episodes ago, and now she couldn’t possibly be any lonelier. The notion that, because her walking partner was in the hospital, she shouldn’t be allowed to do anything either, seems preposterous but is also clearly designed to keep the handmaids from developing any sort of autonomous identity. It was repulsive to see how hard the doctors worked to save only the baby, unconcerned about whether her mother survived. The performance of the hour came from Gil Bellows, so many years after his breakout role in “The Shawshank Redemption,” as the doctor who remembered June’s mother and convinced her that he had to give her a diagnosis of suicidal thoughts rather than homicidal ones since that would certainly lead to her ending up on the wall. It’s interesting to think about the people who exist in this world who don’t buy into the ideology but do their best to help whoever they can given the context, which in this case was his patient – the baby. Trying to stab Serena seemed more borne of her going stir-crazy, especially since it would likely lead to her execution, but she does have a strong desire to see her dead. Asking Janine to help her kill Natalie demonstrated the extent to which Janine’s worldview has changed since we first met and she had her eye cruelly taken out. It’s impossible to imagine how someone would behave in circumstances like this, and Janine is an example of someone who has chosen to find the brightness in a truly dark and horrific place.

What I’m Watching: The Detour

The Detour: Season 4, Episode 5 “The Year” (B+)

This was a fun episode, one that took a worthwhile break from all the antics of Nate, Robin, and her criminal sister to look back at the year that Delilah’s had while they’ve spend so much time and energy looking for her. While it sometimes seems that Delilah is the brightest member of the family, especially compared to her brother who didn’t know whether the long version or the short version would be faster, it’s also evident that she doesn’t know a lot and is just as ill-equipped for the world as he is. Pretending to be grown up by drinking coffee that she can’t stand was the least severe of her missteps. She reminded me a lot of Nate in this episode as she managed to get hit in the head multiple times by a ball, even when she was inside, and didn’t go over particularly well with any of the social clubs on campus. She came in strong with the acapella puns before demonstrating that she had no ability to match pitch, and her high heels and orthodontic privilege really offended the “oh my science” trio that quickly cast her out too. Spending thousands of dollars on haircuts and nonalcoholic champagne carried by monkeys was a low point, as was peeing herself in front of a huge Christian crowd. Even her grandfather wasn’t impressed with her, and she freaked out a lot when the milk started spilling all over her. This was an odd half-hour, but one that demonstrates that this show still does know how to follow its crazy storylines every once in a while.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

What I’m Watching: Divorce

Divorce: Season 3, Episode 3 “Gaps and Bunches” (B+)

Co-parenting definitely isn’t easy, and in this case the fallout seems to be influencing Robert most after Frances stormed in to an already relatively tense situation to chew Jackie out for daring to suggest to Tom that he didn’t need to go to college because she didn’t and still makes a ton of money. Jackie held her own in that moment, and Robert’s going to regret that he didn’t stand up for his new wife during that encounter. Frances somehow didn’t manage to get in trouble for going at Tom without Robert when they had agreed not to, and she was also able to find the petri dish and win a bet with her new boyfriend. Cathy showing up again was unpleasant for all, and even Jackie grew tired of her after initially loving her stories. It seemed obvious from the start that Robert would eventually give in and just offer her money to cover a lot of their father’s expenses, if only just to get rid of her. Larry does seem quite detached from reality, constantly listening to his headphones and not to his cruel wife, and Robert seems to have gleaned a lot from his comment about the silence speaking volumes. Diane catching Taylor shoplifting turned into something very unexpected, resulting in her eagerly advocating for someone else and lecturing her grandfather, played by Harris Yulin from “24,” was an entertaining opportunity for her to find an outlet for her pent-up frustration that she’s really not so good at hiding.

What I’m Watching: Legion

Legion: Season 3, Episode 4 “Chapter 23” (B)

Now this was one trippy episode that demonstrated just how incredible the vision of the universe is as expressed on this show. I don’t even really know how to break it all down other than to express how mesmerized I was by the disjointed portrayal of time and how each character realized that something was wrong around them. Syd was right to realize that this is how David destroys the world, and that was evident when he was somehow able to set one of the time demons on fire with his mind and scare the rest of them away. The trippiest moment was when a clip from “The Shield” started playing and then jumped forward, which apparently was explained as a way to disorient viewers the same way that all the characters were feeling displaced by what was happening around them. Farouk taking them to a “time between time” was also astonishing, constructed with still photography and giant subtitles in the style this show likes so much. Cary realizing what was going on and bringing Switch with him after rebooting Ptonomy is certainly going to anger David, and he’ll likely stop at nothing to get her back, especially after his reunion with his mother back during World War II. Syd meeting her younger self and trying to switch places was intense, though I’d argue that Lenny endured the most as she watched a life come into the world and then progress so rapidly that she couldn’t possibly keep up with with

Friday, July 19, 2019

What I’m Watching: Years and Years

Years and Years: Season 1, Episode 4 (B)

With a show like this, it’s hard to know how things will turn out, though I guess it’s a wonder that the only character who died up until this point was one who hadn’t even played a major onscreen part. Daniel has exhausted so much effort in trying to be with Viktor and keep him safe, and an unhappy end for the couple was foreshadowed multiple times throughout this episode when he demonstrated an overly elitist attitude in regards to the dangerous conditions of travel they had to endure to get back to the United Kingdom. It wasn’t his fault that he got ripped off for 6,000 EUR before then paying the same amount to end up on a boat that was woefully overcrowded, and he ultimately lost his life making the journey back to his home. Viktor, who has been so strong throughout all this, seemed truly broken when he got to his house and called the family link to tell them all. Everything else that occurred in this hour pales in comparison, but it’s still worth addressing. The recap of world events was even more miserable than before, with the January Revolution in Spain and the tendency for even left-wing governments to turn asylum seekers away. The collapse of many European governments doesn’t feel as inevitable as it should, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade is something most expect to happen long before this distant point in the future. Rosie’s personal and business endeavors seem to be going well despite her sister threatening her new partner, and Stephen’s affair being discovered couldn’t really have played out any worse for him than it did.

Take Three: The Loudest Voice

The Loudest Voice: Season 1, Episode 3 “2008” (B+)

This show works on a number of levels, but it’s at its most resounding when Roger is seen watching a formative moment on television, reminiscent of the picture painted of our current president in office hearing about what’s going on in the world through Fox News. He seemed nearly as devastated seeing Obama victorious as he was seeing the second tower hit on September 11th, and he was ready to go to war on this front too. The eagerness with which he commanded that Obama be referred to by his full name, like either Martin Luther King or John Wayne Gacy, demonstrated just how little he thinks of the man, and getting frozen out of Rupert’s meeting with Obama after the “terrorist fist jab” incident indicated how out of control he’s getting. It’s interesting to see his wife take an interest in standing against the expression of liberal bias by employees of her local newspaper, and getting the pet project of owning it should allow her to feel some sort of satisfaction and purpose with Roger constantly at the office. This “multi-faceted man” doesn’t bother keeping his anger in check at any point, and he’s at his calmest when he’s indulging in his predatory video recording with that tiny little camcorder and demeaning Laurie. Having his son hoist the flag each day was yet another way of championing his patriotism, and the way that his speech in his hometown about making America great again went over is a foreboding indicator of what’s brewing in conservative circles at this moment in recent history.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

What I’m Watching: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Bad Mother” (B+)

I thought that this was the season of Reese Witherspoon, but Nicole Kidman got quite the showcase in this hour. Her entire life really was put on trial in an extremely public way, and Denis O’Hare was born to play the role of the belligerent questioner set on exposing her every potentially unfit action. At least she was honest about pretty much everything, the specifics of Perry’s death aside, and she held up very well considering the onslaught of accusations leveled against her. It was reassuring to see her stand up right before the judge was set to deliver her verdict and demand that Mary Louise be put on trial for her own fitness as a parent, given that she continues to deny that Perry could have been the abusive person everyone else insists he is. That’s sure to make for an explosive finale, one that may also resolve some of the other plotlines prominently featured in this episode. Ed got a relatively straightforward and strings-free offer from Tori that he may well take, and that would probably be the simplest way to be back on good terms with Madeline, who is doing whatever she can to try to atone for her sins and grapple with what she’s feeling now. Bonnie confessing to her mother and expressing her resentment was powerful, and I’m glad that no one overheard that moment of honesty which Bonnie seems desperate to unload. Jane is doing a good job of confronting the people in her life who do things to upset her, and it seems that Corey is interested in being with her, no matter how long it takes for her to trust him again. Renata does go overboard sometimes, but her reaction to finding out that her husband slept with the nanny and that she was demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars for her time felt much more justified than usual.

What I’m Watching: Perpetual Grace, LTD

Perpetual Grace, LTD: Season 1, Episode 7 “Bull Face” (B+)

Sometimes I don’t even know where this show gets its ideas. DeLoash arriving at Grand Central only to get into the Cash Cab felt completely random and surreal, and of course he didn’t understand what a Kardashian was but managed to bypass the “easy” questions so that he could get each of them right, most notably the last one identifying him and Pa as the youngest killers, and win the most prize money ever. This show has mentioned Lenscrafters a whole lot, but this product placement felt even more prominent, namely because it was actually a part of the plot. Pa is in enough trouble after his three hostages turned out to be much more fortified than he thought, and so DeLoash coming for him will have to wait until he gets back across the border somehow. As usual, the dialogue on this show is rather exquisite, with New Leaf giving a whole long speech to Walker about his past and how he just needed to cut him loose rather than trying to interrogate him anymore. It seems that James encouraging Glenn to give his dad the sombrero wasn’t the best idea since the town drunk just went and told Walker about the gift his son brought him back from his latest trip. Scotty has much more personality than it initially seemed, and she’s just the latest person to insert herself into the con that James and Paul are running, one that’s going to get more complicated with no dead bodies to bring back from Mexico.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What I’m Watching: Euphoria

Euphoria: Season 1, Episode 5 “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” (B)

This show tends to have some trouble focusing, like all of its distraction-addled characters, and therefore it was refreshing to see the fallout from the carnival be addressed so specifically, even if what happened was deeply unsettling. We’ve seen how teen gossip works among the students themselves, and previously Kat managed to use a poorly-phrased question against the principal when he asked about the video in which she was allegedly featured. Here, students were sharing plenty with the principal that he didn’t even want to know about after Maddy passed out in class and the marks on her neck became very obvious to everyone, including the police. Maddy’s backstory made a lot of sense for what we’ve seen of her, and after she shut down during this episode, all she wanted more than anything was to be with Nate again, which is troubling enough in itself. Learning that she watches pornography so that she can better know how to act around men was probably the most interesting bit of information revealed about her. We also got to see how Cal acts in a crisis, first asking his son if he did it and then if he admitted to it, eager to get to a “no” on both fronts to best preserve his reputation. Rue and Jules did move rather quickly in getting their painful tattoos, and we didn’t get many other updates on that aside from Rue’s recount of her super brief and (not so) horrifying sexual history and Jules not taking her father up on wanting the three of them to have dinner. Both Cassie and Kat don’t seem sure of what to do in the aftermath of what happened at the carnival, and hopefully they’ll just be open and honest with the men in their lives so that things don’t get even more derailed.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 5, Episode 10 “Night and the Zombie City” (B+)

Now this was an involved episode that fully embraced the mood and nature of the detective brain that Liv was eating. Turning it into a noir was cool, and it worked both for the serious investigative moments and for the humor it involved. Clive insisting that he closes all his cases by the book was one such funny scene, representing his frustration overtaking his amusement with the situation. Liv almost had Blaine against a wall and actually headed to prison, but instead he blamed the whole thing on Crybaby so that he can once again get off without any consequences. Martin was very forthcoming with both Liv and Ravi when confronted about being Beanpole Bob, but they ultimately saw through him and realized that he had far more nefarious aims. Now that the vote has been held, General Mills calling Dolly is a disturbing development, one that’s going to pit them against Martin’s controllable army with all the innocent zombies and humans caught in the middle. In happier news, it was fun to see Peyton let loose and do some karaoke before starting a bar fight, and it was sweet to see Don-E make up for his misstep with a lovely proposal to the girl whose last name he didn’t even know. Darcy, like this show, doesn’t have much time left, and it’s good to see some characters headed for a potentially happy ending. Let’s see if the same is true for everyone with just three hours to go before this show signs off for good.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Emmy Nominees: Best Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/7, missing “Fleabag,” “Russian Doll,” and “Schitt’s Creek”

Well, here are a few surprises. Possibly the biggest snub of the day is “The Kominsky Method,” which was expected completely here, and there’s also no repeat nomination for “GLOW,” no farewell bid for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and the ousting of “Black-ish” from the lineup. Instead, we get the truly shocking inclusion of Schitt’s Creek, here for the first time for its fifth season. I’ve never seen it and will have to check it out. I stopped after episode one of Russian Doll, which did extremely well, so I’ll have to go back and keep watching. I’ve also been meaning to watch season two of Fleabag, a show I loved in season one that really win voters over this year. I’m absolutely thrilled that The Good Place finally made the cut, joining two great shows from last year, Barry and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, both of which upped their totals this year. And lastly, we have Veep, which didn’t dominate the categories the way it has its past two seasons, but it’s evidently still popular enough to merit a place here.

Who should win? I have to watch three of these, but I’m all for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with “The Good Place” and “Barry” as good choices too.
Who will win? I think that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel repeats, but who knows?

Emmy Nominees: Best Drama Series

My predictions: 7/8, missing “Succession”

Well, it seemed like there were eight contenders, and all of them made the cut. That’s not the case, of course, for “Homecoming,” which managed just one technical bid and no other nominations. Game of Thrones pulled off a staggering 32 nominations, eight more than its previous high, and scored ten acting bids, which makes it a formidable frontrunner. The other returning nominees, Better Call Saul and This Is Us, did about as well as they have in the past. Both Ozark and Killing Eve jumped up to nine nominations and a place here for their second seasons. Despite making the cut here, freshmen Bodyguard, Pose, and Succession all performed less fantastically than expected, earning a grand total of one acting nomination among the three of them. I would have loved to see some fun inclusions here, but at least we get a few new shows that seem to be popular.

What should win? I don’t watch “Ozark,” “Pose,” or “Succession.” I think I’d pick “Bodyguard” over “Better Call Saul.”
What will win? I don’t think it’s wise to bet against Game of Thrones, and none of these seem strong enough to beat it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 1/7

The nominees: ronny/lily (Barry), Episode 1 (Fleabag), Janet(s) (The Good Place), Anna Ishii-Peters (Pen15), Nothing in This World is Easy (Russian Doll), A Warm Body (Russian Doll), Veep (Veep)

It seems I accidentally only predicted four nominees here, though I’d like to think that I would have included the series finale of Veep along with the one puzzlingly nominated episode of Barry. I’m thrilled that The Good Place merited a mention here for a clever installment, though it’s a shame that actress and nominations announcer D’Arcy Carden didn’t get credit for that too. I guess I have to start watching Russian Doll, which earned bids for its pilot, which I saw, and its third episode, which I didn’t. I’m utterly shocked that Pen15 made the cut after having seen the first episode, but I’m happy that Maya Erskine, the standout star of the Tribeca film “Plus One,” is an Emmy nominee, so hopefully I’ll like that episode better than the first. And Fleabag, which I really have to catch up on, earned a nomination here along with a whole bunch of other bids.

What should win? I need to watch a few of these hours, but I’m all for “The Good Place” right now.
What will win? I think it will be the pilot of Russian Doll.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6

The nominees: The Audition (Barry), ronny/lily (Barry), The Stockholm Syndrome (The Big Bang Theory), Episode 1 (Fleabag), All Alone (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), We’re Going to the Catskills! (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

This is a decent list, and I think I’m happiest about the two episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel making the cut. I like Barry too, though I’m not sure what people see in the “ronny/lily” episode. The series finale of The Big Bang Theory marks the show’s second consecutive nomination, and I look forward to watching it as I’m sure it’s fun. I really have to catch up on Fleabag, which did enormously well overall. I am surprised that “Veep” didn’t show up at all despite multiple previous nominations in this category each year.

What should win? Of the four I’ve seen, I’d choose either of the Maisel episodes.
What will win? I think All Alone might win.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6

The nominees: Winner (Better Call Saul), Episode 1 (Bodyguard), The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones), Holly (The Handmaid’s Tale), Nice and Neat (Killing Eve), Nobody Is Ever Missing (Succession)

Three of these episodes were also nominated for directing: the series finale of Game of Thrones, one of the “hanging episodes” leftover from season two of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the second episode of Killing Eve. It’s interesting that the pilot of Bodyguard got nominated here rather than for directing, but I’m all for it. I’m a fan of the season finale of Better Call Saul, while I’ll have to catch up and watch the season finale of Succession, which I didn’t watch past the pilot.

What should win? I’d probably be most excited about “Bodyguard,” but “Better Call Saul” or “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be great choices too.
What will win? I actually think Bodyguard might win, but I’m not sure.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/7

The nominees: The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones), The Last of the Starks (Game of Thrones), The Long Night (Game of Thrones), Holly (The Handmaid’s Tale), Desperate Times (Killing Eve), Reparations (Ozark), Celebration (Succession)

As expected, Game of Thrones bests its three-year streak of two nominations each time with three for its final season. Even though it wasn’t eligible in the major categories because it didn’t technically air this season, The Handmaid’s Tale earned a bid here, and a double nominee last year, Ozark is back for its season premiere, which I have to watch. I’m not sure what was so special about the second episode of Killing Eve, and I also wasn’t too fond of the pilot of Succession, which I’ll now have to dive deep into considering it earned a Best Drama Series nomination.

What should win? From what I’ve seen, I’d probably give it to “The Long Night.”
What will win? It’s hard to imagine something other than The Long Night winning.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6, missing Shaw, Scott Thomas, and Thompson

I really should have watched season two of “Fleabag” already. I loved season one, and I’m a fan of both Fiona Shaw (Fleabag) and Kristen Scott Thomas (Fleabag). I’m looking forward to watching them soon. I’m glad that Emma Thompson (Saturday Night Live), who’s having a great year with “Late Night” and “Years and Years,” got nominated, and it’s no surprise that Sandra Oh (Saturday Night Live) did too. She wasn’t the best performer on her show, but I’m a fan of Maya Rudolph (The Good Place), and I’m fine with Jane Lynch (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) even though she too wasn’t the most memorable element of her show.

Who should win? I’ve only seen two of these, so no comments just yet.
Who will win? I’ll have to watch, but I suspect Oh wins here.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/7, picking only MacNicol and Sandler

Well, this is probably my worst category. SNL broke its own record, dominating with four nominations here for Adam Sandler (Saturday Night Live), Robert De Niro (Saturday Night Live), Matt Damon (Saturday Night Live), and John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live). I’ve only seen a bit of De Niro’s work, and I’ll look forward to seeing the comedians’ monologues and the actors’ political impressions. After his nomination was rescinded because he appeared in too many episodes a few years ago, Peter MacNicol (Veep) made the cut again. I thought they might do well, and it turns out that they both scored: Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Rufus Sewell (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), two actors who very memorably connected with Rachel Brosnahan’s title character this season.

Who should win? I’ve only seen three of these performances. I’d love to see Sewell, a consistent standout on “The Man in the High Castle,” honored.
Who will win? I’ll have to watch, but I think Sandler will win.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing Cox

This was a good category for me, and I missed one returning nominee for another expected returning nominee. Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) did actually play a small part this past season, and so it’s decent that she’s nominated, joining repeat nominees Cherry Jones (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder), and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Apocalypse), earning her show its only major nomination following its transition to the drama series races. Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us) becomes the first woman to earn a guest bid for her show, and Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones) scored an expected nomination for a memorable and popular turn.

Who should win? I haven’t seen Tyson or Lange’s work this season, but otherwise I’d probably pick Cox or Rashad.
Who will win? I think Jones wins.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Angarano and Turman

I did pretty well here, though I picked the wrong version of a “This Is Us” character in Griffin Dunne when Nicky’s younger portrayer Michael Angarno (This Is Us) got nominated instead alongside last year’s winner Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us). I’m all for the makeup nomination received by Michael McKean (Better Call Saul). I’m also happy about Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale), and I couldn’t be more ecstatic that Kumail Nanjiani (The Twilight Zone) made the cut, apparently the only recognition for the new anthology reboot. Knowing that he was on the ballot, I should have expected that past winner Glynn Turman (How to Get Away with Murder) would be nominated, and I’ll have to check out his performance on a show I don’t usually like.

Who should win? I need to watch Turman’s work, but otherwise I’d probably vote for Nanjiani with Whitford and McKean as close runners-up.
Who will win? I think Whitford wins unless Turman does.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/8, missing Clifford, Colman, and Goldberg

For the second year in a row, this category has eight nominees, though only four of them are the same even though just one of the eight wasn’t eligible. Last year’s winner Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) got joined by Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), which is marvelous indeed. I should have predicted Sarah Goldberg (Barry), and I’m happy that she’s here. I really have to watch the second season of a show whose first year I loved, and so I’ll have more to say about Sian Clifford (Fleabag) and Oscar winner Olivia Colman (Fleabag) after I do. Though I don’t watch her show, I’m happy that Betty Gilpin (GLOW) made the cut again as her show got dropped from the top race. Expectedly, we have perennial nominees Anna Chlumsky (Veep) for the last time and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) representing her show solo for the first time in three years. It’s a shame that nominations announcer D’Arcy Carden didn’t get nominated for “The Good Place” even though the episode she would have submitted did for its writing.

Who should win? I haven’t seen a lot of these nominees, so I’ll hold off judgment until then.
Who will win? It’s hard to say without having seen so much, but I’ll pick Colman for now.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Carrigan and Root

I’m really happy that voters are watching one HBO show and paying attention to the value of all the supporting players, though I wish that was true for another HBO show too. I loved Anthony Carrigan (Barry) so much in season one, and I’ll take the makeup nomination now, and I’m glad that the eternally underappreciated Stephen Root (Barry) is here along with last year’s winner Henry Winkler (Barry). I’m disappointed, however, that only two-time winner Tony Hale (Veep) made the cut for his show instead of the truly deserving Timothy Simons or Sam Richardson. So much for Tituss Burgess getting recognized for the final season of his series, and, not that it was likely, but Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) wasn’t joined by any other cast members from his show. Though his series majorly underperformed, Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method) still made the cut.

Who should win? I’d probably vote for Shalhoub, Root, or Arkin based on their work this season, but I’m fine with anyone other than Hale again.
Who will win? It will probably be Hale.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Christie and Turner

I read the nominees in this category too quickly, and didn’t notice the sad fact that, despite four male performers getting nominated, Rhea Seehorn still couldn’t manage a nomination. Instead, there are four nominees from the year’s most popular show, with fan favorite Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) joining Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) and past nominees Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones). They were good, sure, but I don’t know that they needed to dominate this category, especially with the deserving female cast members of “This Is Us” left out while their male costars continue to be nominated. Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), who also scored a guest acting nomination for “Fleabag,” got swept up in the popularity of her show, which I’m all for since she’s very good in it. Rounding out the category is Julia Garner (Ozark), an actress I like a lot on a show I don’t watch, and I’m happy she made the cut following her SAG bid.

Who should win? Williams put in the most effort in my mind for this season, but I’m not too behind any one nominee here.
Who will win? Vote-splitting seems likely to impact the GOT stars, but I still think Williams can triumph.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/7, missing Allen, Kelly, and Sullivan

Well, if it wasn’t apparent that “Game of Thrones” was immensely popular, this category was the first serious indicator. Joining expected nominees Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) was fan favorite Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), who didn’t exactly merit the bid with his screentime or performance, but that’s okay. I’m pleased that I predicted Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul) to earn a nomination alongside Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), now the second cast member to be recognized for the same performance on two shows. I guess it makes sense that Chris Sullivan (This Is Us) got nominated for this season of his show, though I don’t know what Justin Hartley has to do in order to earn some love. I don’t have much to say about Michael Kelly (House of Cards) being honored yet again for his performance other than that I’d like to forget all about the final season of that show. I would have included many other performers here, but this is the list we have.

Who should win? Honestly, there’s no real comparing to Dinklage, who’s consistently terrific.
Who will win? I think Dinklage wins his fourth award, and I’m all for it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing O’Hara

I, like everyone else, did not foresee Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek) cracking this list, but I’ll be sure to check out the show. I’m surprised that Pamela Adlon didn’t make the cut when many expected her show, which was shut out, to earn a bid for Best Comedy Series. Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll) scored, as did her show in a really big way. I guess I’ll have to keep watching after the first episode. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) also has reason to celebrate, and I really need to watch the second season of her show after loving the first. I’m ecstatic about Christina Applegate (Dead to Me) making the cut, and I wish Linda Cardellini was here with her too. None of these nominees matter too much since it should still be a battle between last year’s winner Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and six-time consecutive winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep). I like all these nominees even if I might have included a few other names.

Who should win? I haven’t watched enough of half of these nominees, so I’ll hold off judgment until I see more. I don’t think Louis-Dreyfus needs to win again though.
Who will win? I’m still going to bet on Louis-Dreyfus even though Brosnahan might be a smarter choice given her show’s overall performance.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Danson and Levy

Here’s where we get the first true shock of the day - Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek) nominated along with his costar and series for the fifth season of a show everyone has been praising since it started. I’ve never seen it, and I don’t know what clued voters in to watch it now, but I like Levy. I was also wrong about Ted Danson (The Good Place) missing the cut, though I wish he wasn’t the only member of his cast here since they’re all so great (including nominations announcer D’Arcy Carden). Last year’s winner Bill Hader (Barry) is back, accompanied by many costars. Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), whose show missed out on the top category, managed to get in here, edging out the likes of Jim Carrey. This year’s freshman nominees are Don Cheadle (Black Monday) and Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), whose show did not perform nearly as well as everyone expected. I don’t think anyone is sad that William H. Macy isn’t here, but I thought he’d be back again.

Who should win? I haven’t seen Levy’s work or Anderson’s this season, but I’m fine with any of them since I like all the shows and performances.
Who will win? It’s possible that Hader repeats, but Douglas is still probably the smart choice.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/7, missing Davis and Moore

I realized after this list was announced that Julia Roberts was missing, but I had no idea that “Homecoming” got completely shut out aside from a cinematography bid. That’s disappointing, since even though it wasn’t perfect, it definitely had an appeal. Here, there was room for Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) to sneak back in after a year off (though she did manage a guest acting bid for the same role last year), and, most excitingly, Mandy Moore (This Is Us) finally earned the nomination she richly deserved last year. I’m most excited about Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) joining costar and expected winner Sandra Oh (Killing Eve), getting recognition for the show that really blew up this year with nominations all over the place. Laura Linney (Ozark) also got nominated along with her very popular show. It seems unnecessary that Robin Wright (House of Cards) is here for the final season of her show, while I’m much more okay with Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) being honored for an intense and unforgettable turn in the final season of hers.

Who should win? I don’t watch Linney or Davis’ shows regularly, but I’m all in for Comer.
Who will win? I would love for Comer to upset, but I think Oh takes it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing Porter

Here we have one of our biggest snubs – Richard Madden, whose show managed to score in the top race without him! His omission is truly puzzling. The six men who did get nominated all have their shows recognized there too. Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) and Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us) are both back, along with Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) both returning after a season off the air and a season of not being nominated following his promotion to this category. Jason Bateman (Ozark) has cause for celebration, with his show performing much better this year, and he’s joined by the lone freshman nominee and sole representative of his show, Billy Porter (Pose). I don’t watch those last two shows, so I’ll be doing some sampling soon.

Who should win? Of the performances I’ve seen, I’d probably pick Odenkirk, but I’m fine with any of them.
Who will win? Everyone thinks it will be Odenkirk, and with Golden Globe winner Madden out of the way, it probably will be.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Final Emmy Predictions

Tomorrow morning, the nominations for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced. This is probably the most unpredictable race in a long time. Two years ago, we got five freshman nominees for Best Drama Series, and now four of them aren’t in the running because their seasons are premiering too late for eligibility. There are a few shows looking to pick up major bids that I don’t watch, like “Pose,” “Succession,” and “Ozark,” while I’m rooting for the likes of “Bodyguard,” “Homecoming,” and, of course, “Counterpart,” to score across the board. On the comedy side, I’d love to see many supporting players from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Barry” recognized, with the right ones from “Veep” honored, and I’d be overjoyed if “The Good Place” did really well too. I’m less invested in the limited series and TV movie races, even though I’ve seen the first episode of most of the projects eligible. I’m most invested in “A Very English Scandal” and “When They See Us” doing well.

What I want most is for great surprises to come along, and you can check back here all day Tuesday as of about noon for reactions in each category. Click on category headings for full analysis and predictions. Leave your predictions in the comments!

Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
Killing Eve
This Is Us

Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
Richard Madden (Bodyguard)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)

Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Laura Linney (Ozark)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Julia Roberts (Homecoming)
Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul)
Bobby Cannavale (Homecoming)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul)
Justin Hartley (This Is Us)

Julia Garner (Ozark)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul)
Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve)
Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us)
Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)

The Good Place
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Jim Carrey (Kidding)
Don Cheadle (Black Monday)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Bill Hader (Barry)
William H. Macy (Shameless)

Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)
Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Tony Hale (Veep)
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Matt Walsh (Veep)
Henry Winkler (Barry)

Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Betty Gilpin (GLOW)
Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Megan Mullally (Will and Grace)

Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us)
James Cromwell (Succession)
Griffin Dunne (This Is Us)
Michael McKean (Better Call Saul)
Kumail Nanjiani (The Twilight Zone)
Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Connie Britton (American Horror Story: Apocalypse)
Cherry Jones (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Apocalypse)
Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us)
Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones)
Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder)

Matt Bomer (Will and Grace)
Peter MacNicol (Veep)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory)
Adam Sandler (Saturday Night Live)
David Schwimmer (Will and Grace)

Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Jane Lynch (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Sandra Oh (Saturday Night Live)
Sally Phillips (Veep)
Maya Rudolph (The Good Place)
Wanda Sykes (Black-ish)

Episode 1 (Bodyguard)
The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones)
The Last of the Starks (Game of Thrones)
The Long Night (Game of Thrones)
Holly (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Pilot (Pose)

The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones)
Holly (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Stop (Homecoming)
Nice and Neat (Killing Eve)
Pilot (Pose)
Nobody Is Ever Missing (Succession)

The Audition (Barry)
The Stockholm Syndrome (The Big Bang Theory)
Chapter 1: An Actor Avoids (The Kominsky Method)
All Alone (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Discovery Weekend (Veep)
Veep (Veep)

ronny/lily (Barry)
Chapter 2: An Agent Grieves (The Kominsky Method)
Midnight at the Concord (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Vote for Kennedy
Vote for Kennedy! (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Mahershala Ali (True Detective)
Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal)
Jared Harris (Chernobyl)
Ian McShane (Deadwood: The Movie)
Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon)
Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora)

Amy Adams (Sharp Objects)
Patricia Arquette (Escape at Dannemora)
Joey King (The Act)
Emma Stone (Maniac)
Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)
Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Wilson)

Kyle Chandler (Catch-22)
George Clooney (Catch-22)
Paul Dano (Escape at Dannemora)
Michael Kenneth Williams (When They See Us)
John Leguizamo (When They See Us)
Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal)

Patricia Arquette (The Act)
Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects)
Carmen Ejogo (True Detective)
Vera Farmiga (When They See Us)
Emma Thompson (King Lear)
Emily Watson (Chernobyl)

Black Mirror (Bandersnatch)
Deadwood: The Movie
Escape at Dannemora
When They See Us

The Act (Free)
A Very English Scandal
When They See Us

Escape at Dannemora
Sharp Objects
A Very English Scandal
When They See Us

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Deadwood: The Movie
King Lear
My Dinner with Herve

The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
The Masked Singer
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman (Making It)
Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen’s Game of Games)
Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night)
Queer Eye (Queer Eye)
RuPaul Charles (RuPaul’s Drag Race)

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Late Late Show with James Corden
Late Show with Stephen Colbert

At Home with Amy Sedaris
Documentary Now
Drunk History
Saturday Night Live
Who Is America

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 5, Episode 15 “Chapter Ninety-Six” (B+)

There are just three episodes to go, and it makes sense that we’re seeing some plotlines coming to a neater finish while others are just revving up to provide some juicy excitement for the last hurrah. Jane finally getting inspiration to finish her novel was exciting, and it’s nice that she managed to find some sort of representation by the end of the episode after many rejections. Mateo reading the first few words was a wonderful moment, and it’s refreshing to see some serious successes for these characters who have gone through a lot recently. Jane also stood up for herself in a great way with Petra, who continually disregarded her request for her not to tell the girls everything she said, and it was fun to watch the girls get into helping Jane sneak her manuscript in after nicknaming her Lame Jane. Petra was very eager to pull the plug on her mother, as evidenced by her humorous emoji text, and that woman really just won’t die, which is irritating. Rogelio’s plan to sneak in the reedited footage was indeed absurd, and it was sweet to see him realize that maybe he is better off being a supporting player so that he takes center stage in his own life. I was proud of Rafael for realizing that Luisa asking for something meant that he should go right to the police with it, but unfortunately that was just a ploy to get him to open the safe. Seeing multiple women with Rose’s face at the end of the episode was tremendously worrisome, and let’s just hope that all of the characters we like don’t end up suffering too much as a result of this diabolical plan.

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3, Episode 8 “Unfit” (B+)

There really is a cultish nature to the behavior forced upon the handmaids that hasn’t been spotlighted lately as the oppressive figures ruling over them have been raining down horror. It’s both chilling and comforting at times, that the handmaids are supposed to be part of a unit that possesses a special bond. June used that to her advantage to have all the other handmaids shun Ofmatthew, which then resulted in her being shamed at the “testifying session” before ultimately grabbing a gun in the supermarket which she didn’t point quite confidently enough at Lydia. June knows what she can get away with now since she may be needed to make a public appeal for Nichole, but Lydia is still doing everything in her power to keep June from making more trouble. I was extremely excited to see a flashback to Lydia’s past, though, in keeping with this show’s tendencies, it wasn’t quite as enlightening or far-reaching as I would have hoped. Instead, it showed Lydia as a religious woman committed to keeping children safe, even if it was far beyond her purview to determine that. Two memorable guest stars from “Togetherness,” John Ortiz and Emily Althaus, were very effective as the doting principal and absent mother who represented most of her world as an elementary school teacher. Lydia, possibly even more than people like Fred and Serena, was someone set for the rise of Gilead, who believes in the purity of people as the surest way of serving God, whose wishes she can’t hope to question.

Pilot Review: Family Reunion

I'm trying something new with my pilot reviews, so from now on, check out video takes on each new series, which I'll embed below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Detour

The Detour: Season 4, Episode 4 “The B.J.” (B-)

This episode was a course correction of sorts after last week’s dark and strange installment, but when even Jareb is questioning the absurdity of the plotlines, you know that this show is running out of road. There was definitely some decent, if over-the-top, humor in this episode, namely with no one being able to tell which of these twins was Robin. This was a great opportunity for the extremely underrated Natalie Zea to shine with two performances, utterly irritated at the incompetence of the conspiracy theorists as Robin and going way overboard trying to express herself with Nate as BJ. Not knowing Nate’s phone number, middle name, or birthdate but having his credit card number memorized didn’t exactly demonstrate Robin’s commitment to the man she loves, but he doesn’t deserve much credit either for having no clue that he was with a different woman when she literally couldn’t remember a single thing that had happened to them together. AndrĂ©e Vermeulen from “Angie Tribeca” delivered a memorable guest performance as Bernadette, the spa employee who was far too into the vibe BJ was putting out, and it seems like everyone got pretty injured in the pursuit of BJ’s wild dreams. Nate stretching himself too thin and Claude having his brain stick out were particularly unpleasant moments along the way. Jareb walking in on Delilah in the shower was scored with horror music but hardly worthy of that, and it’s good to know that he’s been pretty much sleeping on the job while his parents have been dealing with these antics.

Pilot Review: The Disappearance

I'm trying something new with my pilot reviews, so from now on, check out video takes on each new series, which I'll embed below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Divorce

Divorce: Season 3, Episode 2 “Miami” (B+)

I like the rapport that Robert and Frances have developed now that they’re in relationships with other people, and it was interesting to see the pregnancy announcement go rather south for Robert in a different way than he expected with both kids questioning his safe sex choices due to the nature of the “blessed surprise.” Though his fellow coach, played by Dominic Fumusa from “Goliath” and “Nurse Jackie,” wanted to throw him a bachelor party, it was touching to hear him say that a meal with Frances was actually most fitting. Robert was running around like a crazy person trying to do everything on Jackie’s many lists, and fortunately she forgave him for not getting the stain out of the dress. Frances’ whirlwind trip to Miami wasn’t ever going to happen as smoothly as she wanted, and instead she got news far more important than the fact that Henry is still technically married. His expression of joyful freedom that he would never have to get married again was a bit blunt and unaccommodating, and that felt more crushing than Frances being chastised for her bird humor at her new job. A woman showing up eager to give Diane a tremendous amount of business felt way too good to be true, and it turned out that it was designed to be an act of humiliation akin to Nate causing her family to lose everything. Dallas’ work isn’t going too well either, and her patient quizzing her on how long he had left to live was a particularly low point.

What I’m Watching: Legion

Legion: Season 3, Episode 3 “Chapter 22” (B)

It was only a matter of time before David’s father, the famous founder of the X-Men, came up as part of his story. He wasn’t portrayed in the way he typically is at all, instead spending time in an asylum with Gabrielle, David’s mother, as they both got lost within their own minds and managed to forge a relationship within that context. I immediately recognized Harry Lloyd, a standout player from “Counterpart,” as Charles, and I probably would have realized that Gabrielle was played by Stephanie Corneliussen from “Mr. Robot” if I hadn’t looked it up midway through the episode. This presentation was very dark, with the two of them so haunted by their own demons and Charles encountering literal devils in his pursuit of those like him. David being heard by us rather than seen and then not seen by his mother until his father showed up to expel him from the room was a strange way to portray his accidental trip back to this point in time, one that weakened Switch considerably. What’s continually confusing to me is the disconnect between Farouk the social, clever gentleman played by Navid Negahban and Farouk the monster who ruined most of David’s childhood by making him think he was crazy. Obviously Farouk has changed now that he’s on the other side, but it doesn’t make all that much sense to me. I’d also much rather spend more time in the present getting to see all the show’s characters, though I can understand that David is trying to change the present by heading back to the past.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Take Three: Years and Years

Years and Years: Season 1, Episode 3 (B)

It’s 2026 already, and the world isn’t looking like a fantastic place. There wasn’t much criticism of what America has become in this hour, but instead a more skewering indictment of everything happening within this fictional near-future England. Rook is sharing even more dangerous ideas about what she’ll do in power as she ascends the ladder of influence, like citizens having to take an IQ test in order to vote, and now she’s going to be able to achieve a lot more after her impressive election performance. This show is probably strongest in its representation of subtle technological developments, namely the self-heating meal that managed to put Rosie out of a job. Bethany and her new friend continue to get themselves into trouble by trying to turn their bodies into machines, and it’s no surprise that one of their surgeries got botched in a frightening way. Celeste swooped in to help even though she’s going through a lot, namely Stephen complaining about his miserable job constantly and having an affair that he’s doing a poor job of hiding. Edith is keeping busy with her anarchist behavior, making use of whatever time she has left to bring down those she considers to be villainous. Viktor is quite the lucky guy, managing to escape Ukraine just before the police arrived and seek asylum in Spain, where he was even granted a conjugal visit with Daniel. This relationship may well work out, and eventually they could even be together again, though not likely in England if Rook decides immigrants aren’t part of her vision for British society.

Round Two: The Loudest Voice

The Loudest Voice: Season 1, Episode 2 “2001” (B+)

Skipping ahead a few years to the very formative day of September 11th, 2001 was an effective strategy for this show, demonstrating how Fox News turned into something altogether different when America was attacked. Seeing the look on Roger’s face as he saw the second plane hit the towers explained so much, and we got to see the propaganda machine at work as it first started spinning its wheels. I don’t know what’s documented and what’s not, but a good deal of this does feel a bit overt and puppetmaster-like, much to the chagrin, I’m sure, of all the people portrayed here. It’s still riveting television, and Roger is working his way up so that he can have direct communication to the vice-president as he’s drafting the talking points and actual words that those running the government are delivering to the American people. His wife understands his value and his influence, which is why she was furious about him bringing Rupert to the house on September 11th since that might make them more of a target. Roger is becoming even more unapologetic for his temper tantrums and his complete evisceration of anyone who even mildly irritates him, and while Rupert continues to believe that he’s worth a good deal, he surely won’t be able to stay on top forever. With a number of episodes and years to go, his time as a major influencer and media mogul isn’t even close to finished, and I’m very eager to see what happens next.

What I’m Watching: Perpetual Grace, LTD

Perpetual Grace, LTD: Season 1, Episode 6 “When Doves Cry” (B)

This episode didn’t involve nearly as many plotlines as previous hours have, which made it moderately less enthralling for me. Ma sharing her life story from what she expected to be her final resting place helped to shed some light on her past and her surprisingly progressive views in certain respects. After spending a good deal of time criticizing Hector’s novel, Pa managed to get Hector on rhythm so that they could work together and cut down the tree, resulting in a very reassuring rescue which ensured that Hector’s family wouldn’t be harmed as revenge for Ma being suffocated underground. Hector’s wife wasn’t happy with him at all, and fortunately he’s making the right choice now by putting his family first. The three women driving down the road unlucky enough to be held up by Pa aren’t likely to give in quietly, especially considering their own investment in tracking him down, and perhaps Pa will be feeling a bit more charitable after helping Hector get back on the right track. Walker arresting someone other than both James and Paul was certainly not what he wanted, and the pager going off on the ride back is not good news for anyone. Paul and James celebrating their victory back at home does feel premature, and getting the money they were trying to steal seems like it’s not going to be as easy as planned either. Pa and Ma still have to get back over the border, but they’re much closer to that than either their real son or fake son know.

What I’m Watching: Euphoria

Euphoria: Season 1, Episode 4 “Shook One Pt. II” (B)

This episode was all about metaphorical meaning with a revolving door of romances and sexual encounters at the carnival as the characters were literally going up and down on rides. Opening with a brief history of Jules that acknowledged her gender transition as an almost insignificant moment in her life helped to explain how she tries to fit into the world, embraced by many even if she lacks the same internal self-confidence she displays outwardly. She and Rue didn’t take much time to get back to normal, but then she had to grapple with recognizing Cal as the man she met in the motel before Nate revealed himself and his horrific plan to exercise control over Jules with his child pornography blackmail. He really is a menace, leaving marks on Maddy’s neck after she made a scene in front of his family and everyone. The feeling of rejection has tremendous power to cause people to do regrettable things, illustrated most clearly by Cassie’s ride on the carousel that gave her a lot of pleasure until she realized everyone was watching. Kat had a more productive revenge session that left her feeling victorious, even if she totally misinterpreted what she saw and shouldn’t have actually done it. Rue’s breakfast with Ali wasn’t quite as therapeutic as she was likely hoping, but saving her sister from a similar fate demonstrates that she has the right priorities at the moment. This show was just renewed for a second season, a welcome and expected development that should give it the appropriate time to grow and mature along with its characters.

Friday, July 12, 2019

What I’m Watching: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies: Season 2, Episode 5 “Kill Me” (B+)

This show is all about the parents, and it’s a good to see the kids get a say in things every once in a while. After Celeste’s sons stepped in to defend Ziggy when a bully picked on him, them all getting suspended was hardly an instance of fairness. Celeste has snapped at her sons before, as Perry surely did also, and it was reassuring to hear them express a desire to stay with her and even to lie for her about how they felt about their grandmother if she thought it would help keep them together. Mary Louise didn’t have to do much for an offer to be put forward to Celeste for joint custody, and even if her prospects are looking poor, Celeste’s lawyer isn’t doing too much to help. Having Renata talk to Mary Louise was a mistake since she quickly took down Renata, who was distracted for most of the episode by the fact that she was dropped from the women in power section because of her bankruptcy. Mary Louise knew exactly what to say when she ran into Madeline to set her off by mentioning Abigail’s college prospects, and perhaps Madeline should take a cue from her husband and just accept that some people should be okay not liking each other. Tori hitting on Ed is a worrisome sign since that will only bring new problems, and Bonnie seeing Corey coming out of the police station is another very troublesome occurrence which only spells further complications for the Monterey Five.

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

Life in Pieces: Season 4, Episode 13 “Reverse Burden District Germany”

Well, this is it. It took nearly a year for this show to return after being renewed for its fourth season, and the fact that it lasted this long without earning much buzz or any accolades is a mystery. When one episode only weaves together threads into a semi-coherent narrative, you can only expect so much closure, which this episode tried to provide with its mix of major life decisions and momentous announcements. It’s baffling that Tim would be so concerned that another doctor had no idea what he was doing when the man who argued that handwashing before surgery was just for show, though I suppose that Oscar Nunez, from “The Office” and “People of Earth,” played his part well as the hapless doctor who couldn’t believe how badly someone had botched the vasectomy. Heather’s willingness to have more kids when Tim brought it up once seemed quite generous, and Tim telling the family about their plan to try was indeed highly speculative, as Jen noted. Joan being taken advantage of as a babysitter was bound to happen, and John’s complete lack of awareness was a bit much to believe, even if that’s usually how his character is portrayed. Not being so willing to sell the house to Greg and Jen after they got caught lying to the principal, on the other hand, felt just like him, and this show wanted to give its other couple something big to celebrate too. Colleen’s Germany-themed party for Matt was unsubtle, but I guess this random job that Matt somehow thinks is right to take even though his new employers communicate only in a language he can’t understand may well be the break of a lifetime. This show has been decently enjoyable if just as unfulfilling since it premiered, and I look forward to seeing these actors on new shows in the near future that will hopefully give them better showcases for their talents.

Series finale: C+
Series grade: B-
Season MVP: Betsy Brandt as Heather
Season grade: C+
Series MVP: Zoe Lister-Jones as Jen
Best Season: Season 2
Best Episode: “Musical Motel Property Bingo

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces (Penultimate Episode)

Life in Pieces: Season 4, Episode 12 “Cabana Hero Action Son” (C)

This second-to-last installment doesn’t exactly make a great case for this show continuing, which I guess makes sense given that it’s ending. The introduction of Grandpa Mort so recently as a crucial member of the family was illogical since the entire Short clan minus John’s mysteriously alive parents spend all of their time together, and for him not to be around until now just didn’t track. Now that he’s a character, he’s going to be involved, and as a result they took this big trip to the Bahamas, which ended with a major revelation that, just as unbelievably, John has multiple adult siblings he had no idea existed. Richard Kind was a logical choice to play the guy who Tim saved from choking and then refused to acknowledge it because he wasn’t supposed to be gambling, and for him to turn out to be John’s brother felt a bit obvious and also far-fetched. Matt and Colleen would spend their entire vacation glued to the machine that they thought was giving them good luck, and naturally that would be the only way that Joan and Jen could actually bond after Jen got roped into a multi-hour art class with her mother-in-law. Greg’s lifelong competition with his brother never really strikes me as particularly funny, and that whole segment was really more about Jen getting to make cracks about how little he cared about her or being romantic when some sibling rivalry was at the forefront of his mind. This show has great actors in its cast, and I wish they all got more consistently better material.

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3, Episode 7 “Under His Eye” (B+)

Somehow, this show has managed to become even more disturbing, a feat I didn’t think possible. These executions that the handmaids are forced to carry out are much more about keeping the living in line than punishing those who have erred, and it seems to be working. Being complicit was unsettling enough until June saw the kindly Martha who had helped her with information about where Hannah would be, and then she found out that Ofmatthew had turned her in as a way of relieving her of the temptation to sin. June’s reaction was wholly appropriate since this is real life and has irreversible consequences, and while she’s acting recklessly by bringing her commander’s wife out on a mission to try to see her biological child, she can only get away with so much in this horrific world around her. It was unnerving to hear Emily’s crimes in Gilead recounted to her as facts given to other governments, and that they were documented and compiled in this way make it clearer why totalitarian regimes like this exist in the world today, since the unbearable nature of a place and its terrible laws are seen as somehow legitimate by outside observes. Getting arrested with Moira was mildly refreshing, though the notion that she might be deported back to Gilead, even if it hasn’t been presented and is almost certain not to happen, represents a terrifying possibility. Serena and Fred are really living in a different world separated from this horror, and though he indicated to Serena that he was doing his best to get Nichole back, he’s very likely going to adhere to George’s direction to keep the baby in Canada to use to Gilead’s advantage.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Detour

The Detour: Season 4, Episode 3 “The Sister” (C+)

I’m not sure what to make of this show right now. The lack of any sort of narrative continuity has always been something I’ve forgiven, but I just don’t understand where all these ideas come from and if there’s even any destination in mind. If I remember correctly, last season was all about how Robin had a sister she didn’t know about, and Vanessa has also been a semi-regular presence that represents Robin’s twisted upbringing. That Robin would have an identical twin sister who for some reason was identified by conspiracy theorist private detectives as Delilah seems so far beyond belief, even for this show. I suppose it did give Natalie Zea an excellent opportunity to play a completely different part, indulging in flirtation and general craziness as the suddenly-existent sibling. The introduction of Claude, who I thought I recognized as Greg Pitts from “Sons and Daughters,” just made things weird, and things took a very, very dark turn when the conspiracy theorists suggested that BJ held men in her basement and transformed them into mindless shells of themselves. As soon as Nate realized it was just like “Misery,” the ending twist became clear, with an extremely disturbing shot of Robin chained up at the end of the episode. I don’t know what to expect next episode, but it’s very possible that this will all end up being forgotten within a short period of time. Watching this show is still moderately entertaining, but at a certain point, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stick with it anymore.

What I’m Watching: Divorce (Season Premiere)

Divorce: Season 3, Episode 1 “Charred” (B+)

There are a number of shows that I find myself forgetting about, but I honestly had no clue that this show was returning at all. The news that this third season will be its last is not surprising at all, and I’m just happy that we get a bit more of it since I found season two to be really great. I didn’t remember a lot of what had happened, and that’s why the “previously on” segments are so helpful. Frances’ fortunes are not looking up, and going in to try to get a job with the man who stole her top would-be client didn’t represent an optimistic outlook. Though she definitely overplayed her enthusiasm for birds, she should at least find some purpose in her new job. And it appears that she’s involved in a happy relationship with someone played by James Lesure, recently seen in a far less enticing role on “Good Girls.” Jacqui being on bedrest hasn’t created the expected problems for her relationship with Robert just yet, but it is causing Robert to grapple with having another child at his age and looking more like a grandfather than a father. Telling Frances about the pregnancy went over much better than he thought it would, and maybe happiness lies ahead for both of them. Nick’s apology animal figurines didn’t win Diane over at all, and I love that she intimidated one of the guards into giving her a pen so that Nick could hastily sign the divorce papers. Dallas’ relationship with her son isn’t going well, and I’m eager to see how all of these dynamics play out over the course of the rest of this season.

What I’m Watching: Legion

Legion: Season 3, Episode 2 “Chapter 21” (B)

This episode had its mesmerizing moments, but as I’m increasingly aware of the limited time we have left, I’d rather things moved a bit more quickly. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not, and I don’t expect any more clarity on that before the show ends. At least there are some concrete developments, even if they took a while to play out, and it’s interesting to see when David chooses to use his mind control abilities. He did it several times over the course of the episode, first dismissing Lenny with a sudden hunger and then encouraging Cary to make the power-enhancing device so that he too could enter the time travel area only accessible by Switch. When he communicated with Syd in Luke Skywalker levitation fashion, he started to show her the magic of their first meeting before she shut it down and emphasized that they don’t love each other and it doesn’t matter what he can undo since he did it once already. Farouk offering to train her in how to lie after he was introduced playing “Oh Christmas Tree” on the piano in black-and-white suggests that David won’t be the only one giving in to his inner evil this season. Squirrel getting tossed out of the plane was a bold and somewhat reckless move on the part of the “good guys,” and it seems that David and Lenny set exactly the trap they wanted to get Cary, whose mirror combing scene was quite disconcerting. Whether it’s Cary talking or David feeding words into his brain, the notion that he’s going to save the world means that maybe David isn’t actually going to destroy it.

Round Two: Years and Years

Years and Years: Season 1, Episode 2 (B)

This show continues to be interesting in its second outing, and it’s definitely presenting a world that’s gone off the rails. When a public official being decapitated by a drone isn’t the most outrageous and horrific moment of the hour, there’s certainly cause for concern. The United States is being portrayed as a truly problematic place, with Pence being elected president and seen merely as a puppet for Trump, who of course at that point would be pushing eighty (not to mention that a Pence presidency would be plenty more conservative than the current administration). Either way, the focus remains across the pond, with the bank bust proving to be devastating for Stephen and Celeste, and angering the masses to the point of the police officers who are supposed to be keeping the peace joining in the chaos. I was excited to recognize Daniel’s ex Ralph from actor Dino Fetscher’s role as Stanley on “Humans,” though his character here was considerably less kindhearted, responding to Daniel reaching out by getting Viktor deported, something that happened very quickly and elicited a surprisingly positive outlook from Viktor. Bethany continues to adopt all the newest technology, and there doesn’t seem to be much benefit to having a phone installed in her body. Edith’s return is showcasing the more liberal side of the family, and now the future is getting even darker with Vivienne’s election following her technology-dampening “blink” stunt. Seeing the repercussions of a much more domestic antiestablishment regime should be both intriguing and frightening.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Emmy Predictions: Best Comedy Series

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Atlanta, Barry, Black-ish, Curb Your Enthusiasm, GLOW, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The competition: Last year, we had eight nominees. This year, count out three of them, all of which will return at some point in the future: “Atlanta,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Silicon Valley.” In its final season, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt could just as easily not be nominated as it could show up, and Black-ish could also fall out of the lineup as the last broadcast network holdout. GLOW doesn’t have nearly as much buzz as fellow sophomore entries Barry and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, both of which are sure to be back. For its final season, three-time champ Veep is all but guaranteed to return after being ineligible last year. From among the new fare, Golden Globe winner The Kominsky Method stands the best chance of joining this list, as could Kidding, Russian Doll, Ramy, or Dead to Me. Some series that have likely come close in the past and could break through this year are Better Things, Fleabag, and The Good Place. Watch out for nostalgia to potentially propel The Big Bang Theory to a farewell nomination, and past favorites like Will and Grace and Modern Family could show up too.

The predicted nominees: Barry, GLOW, The Good Place, The Kominsky Method, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep

The predicted winner: I think The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel scores a repeat win.

Next up: Category-by-category analysis on Tuesday, July 16th!

Emmy Predictions: Best Drama Series

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: The Americans, The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, This Is Us, Westworld

The competition: Whereas last year we had seven pretty much set nominees, this year offers the biggest clear opportunity for transformation with a whopping five out of seven shows not eligible. “The Americans” ended last year, and four of the sophomore series are either in the middle of airing third seasons or have yet to premiere them. That leaves just Game of Thrones for its final season and This Is Us for its third. Expect Better Call Saul, ineligible last year but back now, to join those. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. The Golden Globe honorees were freshmen Bodyguard, Homecoming, and Pose. Sophomore series Killing Eve, which likely came close to a nomination in this category last year, joined them, and Ozark, which showed up in a few categories last time, had the most nominations from SAG this year, including an ensemble bid. A past nominee, House of Cards, is eligible again for its shortened season but isn’t likely to place. Now that it’s eligible here, it’s possible that American Horror Story: Apocalypse could show up, but I doubt it. The Chi and Succession have both earned buzz, and some prognosticators think that The Good Fight could show up too. I’d love to champion Counterpart here, but I think that’s highly unrealistic, sadly.

The predicted nominees: Better Call Saul, Bodyguard, Game of Thrones, Killing Eve, Ozark, Pose, This Is Us

The predicted winner: I think that Game of Thrones has it in the bag.

Next up: Best Comedy Series

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Emmy Predictions: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Alligator Man (Atlanta), Barbershop (Atlanta), Make Your Mark (Barry), Loud, Fast, and Keep Going (Barry), Pilot (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Fifty-One Percent (Silicon Valley)

The top contenders:
Episode 1 (After Life)
ronny/lily (Barry)
Pilot (Dead to Me)
Episode 1 (Fleabag)
Andre and Sarah (Forever)
Nothing Shattered (GLOW)
Perverts Are People, Too (GLOW)
Janet(s) (The Good Place)
Chapter 2: An Agent Grieves (The Kominsky Method)
Midnight at the Concord (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy! (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Fake News (Murphy Brown)
Between the Toes (Ramy)
Strawberries (Ramy)
Nothing in This World Is Easy (Russian Doll)
Veep (Veep)
Grace’s Secret (Will and Grace)

Half of last year’s slate is ineligible thanks to “Atlanta” and “Silicon Valley” not airing this past season. Though it’s far from the best-written episode of the season, expect the one submitted half-hour of Barry to be nominated, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel could expand to two slots with both of its submitted episodes. Given its prior dominance of this category when it was last eligible, Veep is guaranteed to be here for its series finale. Two freshman contenders, Ramy and Russian Doll, have multiple episodes submitted, while GLOW and the recently-returned Murphy Brown and Will and Grace could compete as well for any number of episodes. The Kominsky Method seems like the strongest new show that could be here, with Forever, Dead to Me, and After Life also possible. This could also be the year that Fleabag or The Good Place breaks through, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

The predicted nominees: ronny/lily (Barry), Chapter 2: An Agent Grieves (The Kominsky Method), Midnight at the Concord (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy! (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

The predicted winner: This seems like an easy place for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to score.

Next up: Best Drama Series