Friday, May 31, 2019

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 5, Episode 10 “Chapter Ninety-One” (B+)

One of the things that this show does best is showing how Jane reacts when someone tells her definitively that she can’t do something, which in almost all cases results in her doing just that to spite them. Rafael putting his foot down about Mateo not being tested for a learning disability was nearly negated by Petra easily convincing him to be okay with it, but Jane having already set up the appointment just infuriated him to the point of storming off. Getting into a fender bender as Jane was pursuing him was something that he couldn’t really blame on her, and it was very funny to watch her flail as she evaded the questions about the house that she was hopeless to be able to answer. That help will hopefully make him much more open to a positive relationship between them, even if a changed custody agreement is still what he wanted to do next. I’ve been championing Petra and JR’s relationship for a while now, and it’s sad to see it end in this way when Petra’s overstepping act of assistance ended up showing JR just how much Petra was controlling what she could do. It was nice that Jane could be there for Petra when she needed her, even it meant adding yet another distraction to her workload. Dena refusing to speak to Rogelio and only talking through Jane was never going to work, and I enjoyed that he convinced her of his changed ways by having Xiomara, Darcy, and River vouch for him. Rose trapping Luisa by explaining that she did sign the papers willingly so long ago worked, and Rafael was partially responsible for pushing her away and right into the position Rose has so long desired for her to fill. The storytelling device in this episode was especially effective, with Jane confusing real life, her novel, and the pilot script, highlighted by the strong representation of Mateo’s ADHD and Alba in a spacesuit telling Rogelio that he couldn’t have sex because he wasn’t married in a Catholic ceremony.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 4, Episode 8 “A Whole Bouillabaisse of Crazy” (B)

The jolly security footage screening that closed out the previous episode turned out not to be the big issue of this episode, but it created a handful of other problems. Lala let it go, content to have Izzy come clean up the mess, but Emma and Jack both noticed the intimacy with Nathan. Emma saying that she didn’t want a third child – or any more children for that matter – sounded harsh, though it is understandable, but it was more worrisome that she and Jack seemed like a united front against Izzy. Fortunately, all seems to be well now, after Izzy clarified with Nathan that she didn’t see him as anything more than a friend and then managed to take down their snooty neighbor Will by forcing him to get them the house back and telling him he couldn’t judge what went on within their walls anymore. Shaun managed to fully anger Nina with his approval of the flirtatious job candidate and his failure to notice just how close to exploding she was, and it seems like both the professional and personal relationships might be over. I liked Ben’s subtle role in a good portion of this episode, hilariously devastated at Shaun’s failure to pick up on his attempted advice and then targeted flirtatiously by Lala before Izzy shut that down. It wasn’t mentioned at any point during this episode, but Jack’s closing visit to his mother suggests that the big news he’s about to learn is going to dominate the remainder of this season.

Pilot Review: The Hot Zone

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.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

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

Good Girls: Season 2, Episode 13 “King” (C+)

I’m not sure what I expected from this finale, but it was far from satisfactory. Beth confessing to Boomer’s murder so that everything she was accused of would be cast into doubt when Boomer showed up to turn himself in, very much still alive, was a likely ending for all of this, but one that left far too many threads unresolved. Of those, I wouldn’t have thought that Agent Turner’s determination to put Beth behind bars would be the most severe, but apparently it was enough to inspire Rio to finally take action, which is just puzzling. Giving Beth the gun to kill him was foolish, but the worst part of this is that it’s not over. Turner always insisted he wanted to work his way up the food chain, so keeping Rio alive after he kidnapped and beat him so that he can turn on Beth makes no sense at all. It’s almost as illogical as Noah somehow thinking that he and Annie have a future, with casual revelations like the fact that he has a child and he’s just up and moving to Phoenix. What’s much more compelling is the notion that Beth is obsessed with continuing in this line of work, baking counterfeit money that will look like the real thing, prompting contradictory looks from her two partners-in-crime. Knowing that Turner is watching them and they’re committing crimes all on their own might be interesting, but I’m going to be tuning in to the season premiere whenever this show returns considerably less excited. This season has been consistently disappointing, a serious downturn from the first, and I’m not sure I’ll continue to watch if it’s really headed nowhere.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Christina Hendricks as Beth

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 4, Episode 10 “New Year’s Day” (B-)

A week off from this show feels a lot longer when a holiday that happened months ago is being celebrated, though of course that means something completely different on this show. Orrin’s refusal to answer Wendy’s questions about whether she could win was a pessimistic start, and their mock interrogation was rather brutal. Chuck bringing up his own treacherous act of going through her confidential notes on her phone really infuriated her, and he’s not doing himself any favors when he repeatedly indicates that he doesn’t care about her nearly as much as Axe does, coming back early from his vacation and energetically reminding her of their first meeting. Lonnie helping Taylor to prep at the same time demonstrated a comparative sense of calm, though Mafee’s eagerness to ask Lauren out nearly created some awkwardness that both Sara and Taylor were quick to stomp out. Wendy’s apology to Taylor went exceptionally poorly, though I do think that Wendy was sincerer than Taylor believed even if they’ve both become far too affected by the influence of Axe. I have no words about Wags and his cuddler, the only truly peculiar moment in a more normative episode of this show. Bryan is going after Chuck and his father with everything he’s got, but his new interest in personal training may end up creating just the weakness they’re going to need him to experience in order to survive. Going to his brother to have him break into a safe represents a line being crossed that’s going to be problematic when his investigation doesn’t come out as squeaky clean when looked at under a microscope down the road.

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve (Season Finale)

Killing Eve: Season 2, Episode 8 “You’re Mine” (B+)

This episode took an unexpected turn that I actually liked, though it’s hard to know what will come now after that climactic final scene. Villanelle saw the video footage of Aaron committing a murder and then used the safe word, luring Eve away just as Hugo got shot. Villanelle slitting Aaron’s throat when he offered her a job and commanded her to kill Eve was almost inevitable, but what was much more surprising was the revelation of how it was planned exactly that way. Eve wasn’t happy to learn that Carolyn had instructed her repeatedly not to kill Aaron specifically so that would happen, and Villanelle seemed even more upset that Konstantin was playing dumb about wanting her to kill Aaron all along. The notion that these two were manipulated purposely is so interesting, and, after both their handlers tried to get them to abandon the other and return to what they do best, they would have no choice but to go on the run together, abandoned by anyone they had previously trusted. Villanelle hiding her gun so that Eve would have to be the one to kill Raymond made it so that they are indeed the same in a way, but Eve still sees the world through less murderous eyes. Villanelle offering to make dinner and travel to Alaska seemed initially attractive to Eve, but her failure to just live in the moment with Villanelle as she’s always wanted made it so that she’s the one bleeding at the end of this season. I don’t have any idea what comes next but this ending made me more intrigued than I’ve been in the past and more okay with the Emmy love this show is sure to get this year. Please don’t forget Jodie Comer!

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Jodie Comer as Villanelle

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Pilot Review: What/If

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: Dead to Me

Dead to Me: Season 1, Episode 4 “I Can’t Go Back” (B+)

Obstacles and roadblocks may emerge, but it seems that the relationship that’s the most stable on this show is the one between Jen and Judy. When Judy woke up in Steve’s bed as his pretentious podcast alarm went off, it appeared that things were moving very fast when he decided not to put the house on the market and to have her move back in. Yet somehow, after everything that happened over the course of this episode, Judy most trusted her new friend Jen, who went to Steve’s door to aggressively tell him to put the house back on the market because he and Judy weren’t actually getting back together. The experience has also empowered Judy to be comfortable driving again, which isn’t nearly as worrisome as the fact that a vengeful Steve is likely to try to manipulate Judy by using the secret they share. He won’t report her to the police, but it seems inevitable that Judy will confess to Jen or that Jen will discover it on her own at the worst possible moment. Going to the bar to track down Bambi went pretty much as expected, with Jen being exceedingly harsh and Judy trying to pick up on helpful information that might reduce the tension. I like that, after Jen stormed out, it was Judy who pretended to be Jen and told Bambi that she was Ted’s wife, only to learn the terrible truth that Ted had made Bambi think his situation was what Jen’s is now, a low blow that makes it hard to be sympathetic to the dead man.

What I’m Watching: Ramy

Ramy: Season 1, Episode 6 “Refugees” (B+)

There wasn’t any indication that this show would suddenly be shifting to an episode devoted entirely to Dena, but I’m so glad it happened. We’ve seen the world through Ramy’s perspective thus far and how people treat him as a Muslim and an Egyptian-American, and it’s so fascinating to see the difference in how his sister is viewed by her family and others. Opening with a childhood speech from her father about how sex before marriage is the worst thing ever and that, on a variation from the typical crumpled flower metaphor, the Coke wouldn’t be good anymore the next day. Getting rushed by Ramy and her mom while she was in the shower trying to masturbate was one thing, and her hallucinated sex interruption experience was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying. I was pleased to see Jake Lacy, a familiar face from “Girls,” “The Office,” and “Obvious Child,” as the barista Kyle who seemed very into her. He was so much sweeter in person with his homemade hummus than in her dream where he read her virginity after she stumbled following his position question, but then it got really weird when he wanted her to treat him like a white infidel. Lamenting being a boring white guy was hardly a sell, and she was right to get out of there. I like that Ramy told her that she just shouldn’t listen to her parents, though she did take it a bit far by chewing Nissim out for commenting on her appearance. I hope we see more of her in the future – this has been enormously enlightening and worthwhile.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol (Season Finale)

Doom Patrol: Season 1, Episode 15 “Ezekiel Patrol” (B+)

Only on this show would it not seem all that weird for the major villains in the finale to be named Ezekiel the Cockroach and Admiral Whiskers. Mr. Nobody teaming up with them as a way to exact more vengeance on the Chief made some sense, but now there’s the added element of the Chief’s immensely powerful daughter who was able to enlarge them and reveal to Mr. Nobody that his animal allies weren’t actually his friends. I’ve been wondering for so long about how all of these characters are the same age that they were when their disfiguring accidents or otherwise traumatizing incidents occurred, and I’m glad that it was at least partially addressed in this closing hour. How the Chief kept himself young and also presumably did the same with his daughter while he was using his test subjects remains a mystery, but I’ll take what we have at this point. The backstories of how each of them was made part of the program as a result of the Chief’s interventions were extremely enlightening and also rather depressing. Seeing Rita as an acting teacher and Larry working hard with the negative spirit was optimistic, while Cliff got food every day to leave for the spiraling Jane. Once they decided to step up and go into the painting, it was fascinating to see everything shift as Rita acted like she meant it and convinced Mr. Nobody to narrate the story in a way that would help get them free. Emerging with the Chief’s daughter but pint-sized except for Larry is a problem to be explored another time, and I so hope that DC Universe commissions a second season. This is one of the most creative and immersive shows I’ve seen in a while, and I’ll continue to recommend it to anyone I meet looking for an intriguing and fascinating show.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Everyone!

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

Better Things: Season 3, Episode 12 “Shake the Cocktail” (B+)

Sam spends so much of her time dealing with ungrateful children and misbehaving adults, and it makes sense that even her birthday wouldn’t be all about her. Frankie refusing to come home was the height of her rebellious behavior, far angrier than anything Max has ever done and far more mean-spirited than even the newly foul-mouthed Duke could concoct. Being told that Frankie’s “having a moment” and that she’d eventually be back so that Sam could wish that she was gone again was a nice bit of perspective, one coming from the daughter who Sam couldn’t get rid of even if she tried. During her absence, Sam got to enjoy the sight of Max, her friends, and Duke all singing along and rocking out to the “Phineas and Ferb” theme song in her kitchen, far from the craziest moment that has occurred around her. Not that Dr. Miller should have much credit anymore now that most of his sessions with Sam are spent with them engaging in a romantic relationship, but he did have a good point when he recommended that she focus on the children who do accept her parenting. That resulted in a powerful scene at Frankie’s recital which found Sam reconciling with Pats while his much younger boyfriend got to be sweet with Duke. Frankie coming home only to ask to use Sam’s bathtub and not actually return was hardly mature, but at least it and her birthday card gave Sam a bit of comfort as she got to celebrate with the two kids she has left. This has been a solid season, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Pamela Adlon as Sam

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 4, Episode 6 “Recovery Discipline Psycho Labor” (B)

This was actually a better episode than this show has produced in a while, though there were still pieces of it that I found to be lackluster. Tim getting Joan to walk with him was actually pretty sweet, and their excitement at playing skee-ball together was perfectly harmless. Tim has always been looked down upon as part of the family, and it was good to see him exert some control in the direction of his relationships, even expressing his disappointment at what Joan had or had not said to him previously that had hurt him. It makes absolute sense that John would reluctantly volunteer at Sophia’s school and befriend the one man everyone found completely terrifying, who didn’t do himself many favors by showing up in the middle of a horror movie with a chainsaw that he claimed could saw through bone. It was touching to see Sophia go to apologize to Mr. Sissel, though its endearing nature ended abruptly with the entire class screaming when they came in holding hands. Jen and Greg trying to rush through Lark’s birthday party so that they could give her own last bit of full attention was entertaining, and I enjoyed Joan’s reaction to some of their antics and the way that they predicted exactly what Colleen and Matt would do by pretending to have forgotten the gift. The sudden adoption of Lucas has been relatively heartwarming, though I’m never fond of an opportunity to see Dougie, one of this show’s worst characters. At least it led to a wonderful moment with Matt telling Lucas he couldn’t climb into bed with them only to realize that it was actually the best possible result.

Monday, May 27, 2019

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 5, Episode 4 “Dot Zom” (B+)

It’s strange to remember that, even in this zombified world, Seattle is still a major tech capital. It was far less pronounced than last week’s dancer brain, but I did enjoy watching Liv wax poetic on things like “what is an idea?” and get everyone around her to roll their eyes or express confusion at her entirely too philosophical perspective on simple matters. Discovering that the crime was rooted in protecting zombies rather than hurting them is intriguing since it’s becoming increasingly difficult for law enforcement to be conducted with the interests of both humans and zombies equally emphasized. Liv had a great solution to the problem of the teacher being fired after he was outed as a zombie, but unfortunately there’s a new menace in town who is a zombie but also has it out for the good zombies who has other ideas. There’s also another wild card in the form of journalist Al Bronson, who is both a zombie and a woman who’s playing Blaine for helpful information that he doesn’t quite realize she’s after. Blaine had a creative method for dealing with the “paparazzi” lurking outside his club trying to identify zombies, an unsurprisingly violent move for the veteran criminal. Peyton carefully supervising the development of the “Hi, Zombie” production isn’t going too smoothly, and it’s fair to assume that finding a good balance between informative and entertaining will not be easy. On a more serious note, it is cool to see Liv addressed directly as Renegade by both admirers and detractors.

What I’m Watching: The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 9 “The Blue Scorpion” (B-)

I didn’t find this episode to be especially involving, starting from a point nowhere near as fascinating or terrifying as previous installments. I do like Chris O’Dowd, an actor known for comedy work in films like “Bridesmaids” and TV shows like the short-lived but great “Family Tree,” and I also appreciated his more dramatic turn in “Calvary.” I was also excited to recognize Amy Landecker, one of the most underrated players on “Transparent,” as his ex-wife, though she really didn’t have much of a role. The bullet bearing his name and the gun seeming intent on not being sold by going off as soon as he said he wanted it out of his life were early indicators of some strangeness, though the effectiveness of this hour was captured for me in just one moment. He sounded rather crazy and even acknowledged it when he was talking about how he keeps meeting all these Jeffs in his life, and then the response was that one of the two people was also named Jeff. This particular trip through the Twilight Zone didn’t seem especially worthwhile, eerie and mysterious but also seemingly aimless. Watching an anthology series like this is bound to be disappointing to a degree since one really solid hour won’t ever be extended or revisited. I did find the casting of O’Dowd here to be a good choice; I’m just not sure that the plot surrounding this part was as well thought-out. Intrigue doesn’t always equal satisfaction, and this episode was lacking in the latter.

What I’m Watching: Brockmire (Season Finale)

Brockmire: Season 3, Episode 8 “Opening Day” (B+)

I like how pieces of this episode tied together in unexpected ways, from the very first scene to the last. I wasn’t sure why it was that we were seeing Shirley with her sons in the car, though I guess watching Art’s rant against the conspiracy of the mainstream media and the progressive establishment was enough reason. A charge to keep baseball pure sounded absurd, but not only were they able to make a stand and ruin Brockmire’s jacket, the network appeared to be backing them. After everything, it was extremely sweet to see Brockmire and Gabby read the statement prepared for them by the network and then add their own very pointed commentary about where society is to it. I was worried, as Gabby and Jean were, that Brockmire would take the news of Jules’ engagement badly and obsess over her to Maggie, but instead he chose the other extreme and proposed. It turns out that she too, like everyone, follows Jules on Instagram, and she was nowhere near as invested in their relationship as Brockmire was. It was great to have Christine Woods on the show, but I guess pairing Brockmire off romantically rather than platonically or professionally wouldn’t really make sense since he’s better as a lone wolf. He was even able to be there for Shirley when everything got to her, helping out his sponsor in his moment of need. I’ve greatly enjoyed this season, and am anticipating season four in a way that I really wasn’t at this time last year.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Hank Azaria as Brockmire

Sunday, May 26, 2019

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 5, Episode 9 “Chapter Ninety” (B+)

It was a lot of fun to see Jane and Rogelio together wearing matching space helmets to pitch “This Is Mars,” and they were even able to easily overcome River’s expected objections to having Rogelio’s daughter write the scripts. Jane was never going to leave the sight of her editor’s number on the back of Rogelio’s notes, and discovering that he promised to pay the publishers back if ten thousand copies of her book didn’t sell dealt a huge blow to her the perception of her success. Fortunately, Jane is learning to let things go, ultimately forgiving him and using the trajectory of their relationship as the inspiration for her book. She was also open to the idea of Rafael being at Alba’s wedding, and they’re in a good place as co-parents, especially after she decided to let Luisa meet Mateo. That couldn’t have come at a worse time for Luisa, who’s being manipulated by her bestie Bobby in a way that’s going to end up looking like she’s in cahoots with Rose when she’s just being played and used. JR’s solo time with Anna and Ellie did not go well, but good for JR for standing up for herself and Petra for following Jane’s solid advice to discuss ground rules with her. Alba’s whole wedding plotline was very sweet, and I particularly enjoyed that Jane gave her a flower which in turn made her get self-conscious about having sex before marriage. It’s good to see that relationship finally working out the way it should have all along.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 4, Episode 7 “Now Who’s Got Egg in Her Hair?” (B)

Izzy and Nathan’s efforts to push each other out of their comfort zones is definitely leading to some collateral damage, and neither of them are really prepared for the consequences. Gabriel’s last name couldn’t have been any less convenient for him at that time, though his actions were hardly noble. Even if his reputation with everyone else at school has been ruined, he appears to have won over Sasha, not that she’s going to let him tell her what to do or when not to step in to help him out. Gabriel nearly getting expelled was going to be bad news for Izzy and Nathan since they couldn’t possibly own up to their mistake, and Sasha’s evidence of them being somewhere else at the time of the crime was a true saving grace. Izzy was hardly subtle when she showed up at home with egg in her hair, and Jack immediately realized what had happened when he saw Lala cleaning her door. It’s hard to imagine why Jack and Emma are so eagerly playing along with Lala’s security footage screening, but hopefully it’s their way of making peace by throwing Izzy partially under the bus. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come at a bad time when Izzy is already wondering what her developing feelings for Nathan mean. I love that Shaun refused to let Nina tell him not to hum and that he was so oblivious to her efforts to show him that he needed her, resulting in quite the effort to stay in bed all day to avoid her problems.

Pilot Review: Blood and Treasure

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.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

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

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 16 “Hey, World!” (B-)

Well, that’s a wrap on a weird season of this show that was definitely entertaining even if I wasn’t so taken with its focus. I like the solution that they came up with to have the many magical creatures who were aboard the Wave Rider be housed in Hayworld, and it was fun to see Sara, Nate, and Gary dress up as Supergirl, Green Arrow, and the Flash in an ad. I had seen that photo in an article about the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover and thought it was from another world in which they had different identities. The appearance of the Monitor in the audience was definitely indicative of something, and as long as it’s not hell on earth, I’m fine with that. Discovering that to be Neron’s goal made some sense, and it looks like Constantine’s brief ally may now cause many problems for him. Finding Ray in hell playing Jenga with a much nicer Vandal Savage was quite an amusing fate, and it’s good to see that everyone managed to survive. I don’t quite understand or buy that the power of song managed to revive Nate after he got the chance for a bonding moment with his father, but I guess on this show death is relatively negotiable. The legends are starting to couple up, with Nate and Zari official and Ray very happy to see Nora upon his return to the land of the living. I’m still up for more of this show, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get a chance to see the legends during the fall crossover before their show returns during mid-season.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Charlie

What I’m Watching: Barry (Season Finale)

Barry: Season 2, Episode 8 “berkman block” (B+)

There’s a switch that seems to go off in Barry’s brain when he goes into an operation with just one aim in mind, and it’s mesmerizing to watch. Esther recognized him when he came in screaming for Fuches and he just shot her, targeting anyone who stood in his way after that. Barry’s inability to help Hank when he called him was the perfect in for Fuches, who hilariously strolled out to talk to Cristobal and Esther while they tried to figure out if he was actually talking to them since they couldn’t hear anything. Fuches lamenting his own split with Barry was sweet, though it seems his intentions were a bit more malicious than just trying to get Barry back into his life. Barry dropping a Chechen pin into the trunk so that the police wouldn’t hold Gene could have solved the whole thing, but Fuches knew exactly what he was doing by whispering that Barry did it into his ear while he was still in shock. I don’t know how he’s going to handle that information, but it won’t be good. Sally asking Barry how his audition went before immediately telling him that she wasn’t actually looking for an answer indicates some increased coldness in their relationship, which may have contributed to her totally shifting the balance of power in her big scene. Watching her get showered by praise after an uncertain reaction from her team of agents was unexpected, and it may lead to greater roles for her in the future. I love that Hank called customer service to ask questions about the heroin table he couldn’t quite find online, and that he greeted his replacement with casual friendliness after the big shootout. This has been another superb season, and I can’t wait for season three.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Bill Hader as Barry

What I’m Watching: Good Girls

Good Girls: Season 2, Episode 12 “Jeff” (C+)

I find it very hard to believe that Mary Pat was not only able to cover up the sudden death of her husband but also to drag away Boomer’s body without her kids noticing and somehow not hear anything from him for months when he’s actually been alive the whole time. I’m glad to see that Allison Tolman is taking a role in a new TV pilot this fall, not that “Emergence” looks great, but hopefully it will be a better showcase for her talents than this truly lackluster part. It makes more sense that Marion always believed in her grandson despite what Annie told her about him, and that she’s been hiding him in her attic since his disappearance. Somehow, I imagine they’ll be able to convince him to turn himself in or help them cover up their actions so that they avoid prison time, since that’s looking all but likely for Stan at the moment and the others soon down the road. Agent Turner coming to church to taunt Ruby and Stan felt inappropriate even by his standards, and Noah telling Annie he loves her isn’t going to help matters at all since there’s no way she’s testifying against Beth. Dean’s inability to understand that his new role was contingent only on following the simple rule of not upselling customers was typically frustrating, and he should be able to find some fulfillment in doing his job without swindling buyers. Dumping his dinner on his shirt was infantile, but he made up for it with his first-ever good idea – a shared apartment that could help make the divorce not so bad. That breakup is going better than Rio telling Beth he doesn’t work on vacation. I can’t imagine the finale will be satisfying, but I’m hopeful it will make me interested to tune in for season three.

Friday, May 24, 2019

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones (Series Finale)

Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 6 “The Iron Throne”

This finale was always going to be divisive, though I’m really not sure things could have ended any differently. Episodes three and five of this season were all about the action, and there were only so many sides left at the start of this extended hour. I found the sequence with Daenerys rallying her victorious troops to eternal war to be brilliantly staged and extremely visually compelling, the last great scene of its kind on this show. Tyrion throwing his hand’s pin down the stairs was a forceful, defiant gesture, though it was Jon opting to stab his beloved queen and aunt that was the most impactful decision. Skipping ahead to Tyrion coming out of his cell with a long beard felt almost too quiet, and then it all got particularly bureaucratic. I wasn’t all too convinced by the laughter everyone bellowed at Sam’s suggestion of all-out democracy, but it’s fair to assume that it could never work in this realm. Instead, the notion of a king who couldn’t have sons was indeed the ultimate solution that no one could argue with since Bran, speaker of riddles, is even fairer and more averse to destruction than Jon. Sansa insisting upon an independent kingdom in the North was a worthwhile victory, one that transforms the structure of power much more than a new ruler of the seven kingdoms since there are now just six. Jon being sentenced to a nomadic life with the Night’s Watch is in some ways fitting, since living happily in one place was never his destiny. In some ways, this was a lackluster finish, one reminiscent of “The Return of the King” with its incessant endings, but the experience of watching this final season was one I haven’t recently felt. The urgency to watch an episode immediately to avoid any spoilers and the overall intensity going into each hour was something that I’m not sure will be soon matched again by any show. I’m not feeling nearly as let down as most fans, including my brother, and I still think this show will make a killing at the Emmys this fall. I’ll revisit each of the actors’ chances in a few weeks, but I think there could be a serious contender in each race. I do believe that Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Maisie Williams (Arya), followed by never-nominated Sophie Turner (Sansa), are more worthy of praise than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey (Jaime and Cersei) based on this work this season. Even if the show for some reason falters in the top race, I’d expect it to take home at least a few trophies.

Series finale: B
Series grade: B+
Season MVP: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion
Season grade: B+
Series MVP: Peter Dinklage
Best Season: Seasons 2 and 7
Best Episode: The Winds of Winter

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 2, Episode 7 “Wide Awake” (B+)

It’s pretty mesmerizing to see Villanelle in action being courted by Aaron and letting him do things like order food for her and demand that she sit still. I thought that forcing her to spit out the chocolate she was enjoying would be the last straw, but she managed to keep her cool and has more access to him than anyone else has seemingly ever had. It also appeared that he caught on to her recording their conversations when he was watching her on the screen, but he hasn’t. Villanelle’s performance under pressure may have been commendable, but the sight of Niko waking up to see a suffocated Gemma sitting all wrapped up across from him demonstrates that she’s taking out her urges to kill in a far more destructive and horrific manner. Hugo thanking Eve for the threesome was so on-point, and though Eve didn’t seem to expect the question about whether she and Villanelle have sex, there’s definitely an attraction shared between them. I’m not sure what Villanelle’s aim was in killing Gemma other than to punish Niko for mistreating Eve, but I’d think that she would want to get rid of the competition rather than encourage Niko to run back and warn Eve about the psychopath far too involved in her life. Carolyn and Konstantin are working so closely together that they have to understand what might be happening between their best and most unpredictable assets. I’m curious to see where things go after the upcoming season finale.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Season Finale)

Supergirl: Season 4, Episode 22 “The Quest for Peace” (B)

This was a pretty decent, action-packed finale, though I’m not terribly excited by what’s coming next based on the ending of this hour. Lex had a blast singing along and playing the hero after we saw that the president is truly a puppet he finds irritating, and he enjoyed summoning his sister and mother to the White House even though it took mere moments for his mother to try to poison him. The notion of harnessing alien power and selling it is indeed an interesting if immoral business plan, and it seems that some of Lex’s allies are okay with that but don’t want to have to deal with his obsessive attitude towards Kryptonians and need for world domination. Lockwood was particularly upset with being manipulated by Lex, though that didn’t take away his fury towards Supergirl for representing the aliens he continues to hate. Red Daughter surviving and saving Supergirl was a fitting way to send out that character, and I like that they were able to defeat Lex in part thanks to the power of journalism, which in this world managed to work even if such things aren’t always as successful in real life these days. Dreamer and Hank did a formidable job of saving everyone, and it’s good to have the old Brainy back. Lex saved his best trick for last, revealing to Lena that she couldn’t trust her best friends since they had lied to her all along about Kara being Supergirl. The fact that she didn’t confront Kara when she came over for game night means her hatred is going to stew and build, making her a true enemy for the team. The appearance of the Monitor at the end of the episode and the introduction of Hank’s vengeful brother hardly seems like the best focus for the next season, though hopefully that will all play out in a magnificent way in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover that may well serve as the opener in the fall. This has been a good season if not a fantastic one, and I’m still on board for more in the future.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Sam Witwer as Ben Lockwood

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Pilot Review: Catch-22

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.

Take Three: Dead to Me

Dead to Me: Season 1, Episode 3 “It’s All My Fault” (B+)

It’s helpful to get the clarification that Steve wasn’t aware that Jen’s husband was the man they hit, since it seemed extremely manipulative for him to be considering Judy crazy when he was acting pretty terribly by working with her to sell his house. This reveals instead that he’s just not that bright, evidenced also by his excuse to his parents that his “tummy” hurt when she called him to be bailed out, eliciting a fantastic response from Judy that he should be able to come up with something better given that he’s forty-four years old. I don’t think that the two of them lapsing back into a romance is the best idea given that Judy seems to be doing well with Jen and her family, though the guilt she’s feeling is eating away at her. I was worried, as I’m sure everyone watching was, that Judy’s very enlightening balloon message would come floating back down, and instead we got a surprise of different order in the form of a woman on Jen’s husband’s game who appears to have been sleeping with him. I don’t think she’ll express the same rage when she tracks her down as she does when she’s hunting dented cars, but I am eager to learn more. Jen has a very harsh relationship with her mother-in-law, who is incredibly condescending and terrifies the hilarious Christopher, who got a great showcase in this episode. I also enjoyed Abe’s less-than-friendly greeting when Steve showed up to see Judy.

What I’m Watching: Ramy

Ramy: Season 1, Episode 5 “Do the Ramadan” (B+)

This was a really great episode, and it’s so interesting to see the parallels between Islam and Judaism, the latter of whichis far more familiar to me. Sarah named one, which is that she doesn’t even fast for Yom Kippur and he avoids food and other voices all day for an entire month. Watching Orthodox Jews and his uncle eating while he was at work demonstrated the way that the world doesn’t conform to or stop based on his observance, and the run-in with his construction worker classmate whose mom was sick exemplified both how religion is often tied into everyday life in a simple, casual way like praying out on the street and how people often want spontaneous prayer when that’s not a concept natural to either Islam or Judaism. “Don’t break my balls, do the Ramadan” was a memorable line, and, after everything, he found out at the end of the episode that his mother did die, a sad note on which to conclude as accompanied by the woman’s son asking him if he was a bad guy. Being interviewed by a woman seeking marriage made for the most entertaining scene of the episode, with a few backhanded compliments praising his own assessment of his flaws and suggesting the atonement that he could be doing if he actually wanted to do it. I liked his idea about taking Arabic with his kids so that he could demonstrate a commitment to continued learning, a notion she shot down brutally with a scientific conclusion that the brain stops developing at twenty-five.

What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol: Season 1, Episode 14 “Penultimate Patrol” (B+)

We’re getting towards the end here, and while I’ve seen some reports that this show was renewed for a second season before the first premiered, I’m not entirely sure that’s the case. This focused hour involved the welcome return of Danny the Street, a friend of Flex’s and a helpful ally who gave them useful information despite still not wanting to cross Mr. Nobody. While their victory wasn’t nearly as decisive as they seemed to think, it’s true that this Doom Patrol isn’t the same team they were the first time Mr. Nobody tried – and succeeded – to get in their heads. Recognizing the situation that was around them was a huge first step, and kudos to Rita for realizing that she too could narrate and take away some of Mr. Nobody’s power. Stripping his ego down was a far more effective manner of combat than Cyborg just showing up to blast him away, though apparently that didn’t actually happen. Shifting to the Chief experiencing a wonderful morning filled with breakfast and followed by the certain destruction of the team over and over was a formidable way of demonstrating that the threat he poses is far from gone, and if he really is so invincible and unstoppable, I don’t know how things can end next episode. Unlike Mr. Nobody, I don’t feel that this show has really gone off-course in the time since its pilot, but it’s still good to return to where it all started. I’m excited for the finale, and I really hope there’s much more of this show after it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 3, Episode 11 “Get Lit” (B+)

This show aired its season finale this past week, and so I just have one more installment left after this and I’ll be fully caught up. I was surprised to see this show listed as one of Entertainment Weekly’s official early predictions to make a first-time appearance in the Best Comedy Series race when Emmy nominations are announced this year, and I’m curious whether installments like this one – and the others like it this season – will play with voters. It’s definitely hypnotic, but there’s a non-narrative aesthetic that’s both captivating and also hard to grasp onto since the plot rarely proceeds in a straightforward way. Opening the episode with a psychic in the house talking about a male presence was entertaining for the vicious treatment he got from Phil, who was ready to call out each of his parlor tricks as being easily contrived and guessed. Sam going ballistic on Max’s friends for smoking in the house was a solid scene, and she even managed to make Paisley cry, something that doesn’t seem all that hard, similar to Max’s own master manipulation of her mother. Frankie’s poetry contest performance was indeed impressive, though Sam should have realized that she wouldn’t be thrilled to be shown physical affection given the nature of her writing’s content. Sam’s response to the woman talking about her grandchild in the bathroom was pretty hilarious, commenting on the intensity of her experience and eliciting a simple disapproving “no” from her. It’s moments like those that really enhance this show.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 5, Episode 3 “Five, Six, Seven, Ate!” (B+)

This is the first time in a while that we’ve seen such an immersive episode based on the brain(s) that Liv was eating. I like that she was able to choose between two brains so that they could deduce as much as possible about the dancers, and that Ravi was bullied immensely by the first brain she ate and then supported entirely by the second. Ravi was so nervous about his performance, yet he somehow managed to keep up the act and actually do pretty decently when forced to dance, even with Liv out of the picture after a sudden flash of memory was triggered during their set. The best part of this episode was Clive, who got to express sentiments not usually seen in two different major plotlines. His enthusiasm for dancing was a lot of fun, and I liked seeing him and Liv dance as they were trying to show Ravi that he would be able to learn. Attending birthing classes with Dale was fun to watch too, with his attentiveness to notetaking and his planning for the worst, quickly shifted to tremendous awkwardness when Michelle showed up in the class expecting a baby that he thought might be his. Dale choosing to be nice to her was refreshing. Major and Peyton making nice after their tiff was good to see, and the knowledge that humans have died helping zombies is an important step forward in positive societal relations. This episode didn’t provide a neat ending to its mystery, and I’m curious to learn more about who has been poisoning all these dancers.

What I’m Watching: The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 8 “Point of Origin” (B)

This episode was decidedly dark, taking its protagonist from her high perch in society to a place where she couldn’t even help herself, unable to identify what’s real about her own history or to deny what other people tell her is true. I appreciated the casting of Ginnifer Goodwin as Eve since I remember being disappointed by the lackluster nature of her real-world character in “Once Upon a Time,” and it’s good to see her display so much energy here, transforming Eve from disconnected socialite to powerless prisoner. James Frain from “True Blood” was a natural choice to play the interrogator, who has a sinister presence in everything he does, even if he’s supposed to be good guy. His demeanor here didn’t indicate any sympathy for the woman he was questioning, and he was all too happy to apologize only to her husband and sons for treating them wrongly when he still didn’t release her. Tricking her into believing that she was released and confiding in her husband was enough to get her to confirm what he had suspected all along, though that wasn’t nearly as horrific as the real reaction her husband had when she was able to catch a ride home with the ice cream man. I suppose the moral of this episode was that we really can’t change where we come from even if we accomplish so much, an important parable with easily recognizable parallels to immigration in the United States as expressed early on by the relationship between Eve and Anna.

What I’m Watching: Brockmire

Brockmire: Season 3, Episode 7 “Disabled List” (B+)

I’ve been very pleased with how this season has played out, remaining consistently engaging and making fantastic use of its characters. I’ve been waiting for Christine Woods to be showcased as Maggie, and we got that in a big way here. Brockmire experiencing a lack of sex drive could have been an irritating, throwaway plotline, but something about this new sober version of him has made him considerably more appealing and sympathetic. As a result, it was fun to see him so frustrated by his situation, in one case taking out his anger on a wheelchair-bound member of his addiction support group. Shirley gives it to him straight, and it’s entertaining to see her explain to him why he doesn’t have it nearly as bad as he thinks. Maggie was also appropriately encouraging in a different way, and it seems like the two of them may just last if they managed to surmount this obstacle in a lighthearted way. And they even got it to work in the car at the end of the episode, something that Maggie celebrated with surprise as it lasted a whole lot longer than she expected once it finally started. Brockmire may have been overly optimistic about Matt’s chances for recovery, but it turns out that he was able to be there in exactly the right way for him at the end. I don’t think that this show has terrific Emmy prospects, but I’d love to see some love in the guest categories for both J.K. Simmons and Woods, not to mention a few of the other guest stars we’ve seen this season.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 5, Episode 8 “Chapter Eighty-Nine” (B+)

It’s nice to be right in the middle of the narrative here as most of the other shows I’m watching are finishing out their seasons. This was a difficult episode to watch since Jane got so excited by the idea that Rafael wanted to initiate plans with her and that them rocking it as educational co-parents was a sign that their relationship was going to work out. As usual, a grand romantic gesture works better in practice – or on paper – than in real life, especially when, as has tended to be the case, she ends up putting Rafael in a truly uncomfortable position at work. I like that Rogelio and Jane’s relationship was also the focus of this episode, and they were both able to teach each other plenty about what’s important. The Ro-morse basket was a nice touch, and I enjoyed Rogelio cautioning Jane about her texting when every instinct of his was telling him to do the opposite. It was wonderful to see Jorge finally realize after they rocked the immigration interview that he does love Alba, and now they can be together when they’re not actually required to anymore. Petra discovering that it was her daughters who were staging threats so that they could rid of JR was devastating, and good for JR for matching the determination that Petra showed a little bit ago and declaring that she wasn’t going to give up on them just yet. Seeing that Rose’s henchman, who is also posing as Luisa’s best friend, is tailing Rafael is a bad note on which to end the episode, a sign of much more drama to come soon.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 4, Episode 6 “Eat Your Strangers and Don't Talk to Vegetables!” (B)

I liked this episode better than the previous one now that the guru isn’t being prominently featured hacking away at the stability of this thruple. The seeds of doubt, however, are there, and the literal gifting of a door from Jack and Emma wasn’t going to make up for that. Izzy and Nathan are still trying to figure out ways to push each other beyond their respective comfort zones, something that isn’t going all too well at the moment. Izzy isn’t nearly as realistic about boundaries and what’s actually possible as the other two partners in her relationship, and now this show is shifting its focus slightly to the younger generations at school. I guess it makes some sense that the sexual orientations and identities of those exploring themselves in high school would be worthy of spotlighting, which in itself presents some complications as people try to be more interesting and diverse than they are in order to appear more attractive. I still don’t find that nearly as enticing as following the main characters, and there’s no way this show could continue without its three protagonists still fully at its center. Lala has made herself new friends and allies in Emma’s next-door neighbors, and the Trakarskys seem to be their primary targets, not that she has nearly as much power as she likes to believe and try to wield. I like that we nearly saw Carmen and Dave together again, though she pulled the typical trick pretending that the signal was cutting out on them.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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

The Flash: Season 5, Episode 22 “Legacy” (B+)

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty good finale, even if it has felt for the past few episodes like things have dragged a bit, especially when it came to Cicada. I’m usually all for the time travel that occurs on this show, but I don’t know why it was that Eobard’s execution in the future was so synced-up with the moment in the present when the dagger was destroyed. It was cool to see Barry and Nora show up there to reverse the time that he had used to take out the guards around him, but now he’s gotten away and declared that he’ll Barry at the next crisis, which apparently is coming sooner than expected as a result. Nora disappearing from existence has been a long time coming because of the extensive time she spent with Team Flash before her birth, and now it’s going to be up to Barry and Iris to actually have a child and raise her in a different way than she experienced during her childhood. Cicada’s disappearance took a bit longer, but at least the younger Grace is going to have a better life with a much kinder outlook on the universe. Cisco taking the metahuman cure makes more sense after learning that Carlos Valdes is leaving the show, and while he’s been an integral part of it since season one, there are more than enough people around now to fill the void created by his absence. I like that Singh acknowledged that he’s known for a while that Barry was the Flash, and Joe’s promotion to captain is a deserved one that honors his many years of service to the force. Overall, this hasn’t been a fantastic season, but I’m still eager to see what comes next for this show and its characters.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Grant Gustin as Barry

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 15 “Terms of Service” (B-)

It was interesting starting this episode with young Zari in 2019 watching Neray (a great name) broadcasting warnings of dangerous monsters among the human population. I did notice that they left the backpack with the dragon egg in it, resulting in an ending that reminded me of young Ray meeting an untimely end back when he and the rest of the legends were going to be wiped from the timeline. This show is trying to balance its demonic content with the Fairy Godmother, who expressed no qualms with fellow witch Nora only to trick her into agreeing to take on her role, both freeing her and indebting her to Gary, which ultimately might not have turned out to be so bad had he not instantly banished her to hell without realizing who she was now. Punitively turning the legends into a big baby, a high school nerd, and nonstop dancers was rather petty, but it was a good point that Gary made when he noted that he didn’t want to send them to hell but instead just to hang out with them. Now that he’s officially a part of the team, they may be able to defeat Neray, though Constantine isn’t doing too well in hell since he has precious few friends there, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’m not sure what will be resolved in the finale, but I’m hopeful that the focus will shift from Constantine and these magical creatures and instead to some new threat for which the legends are hopelessly unprepared but nonetheless eager to combat.

Pilot Review: LA's Finest

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.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

What I’m Watching: Veep (Series Finale)

Veep: Season 7, Episode 7 “Veep”

It doesn’t feel bittersweet for this show to come to an end since it has really has run its course. Sixty-five episodes is a lot in the modern day of cable television, and the last season of this show that I found to be truly terrific was season four. This shortened final run has still been entertaining, and this extended episode did include quite a bit of content. Tom reentering the race was a curveball that Selina struck down immediately by planting the right seeds of doubt in the head of Rhea Seehorn’s Michelle, the chief of staff she previously demeaned by dictating a coffee order to her. What that newfound alliance showed is that Selina, similar to a current inhabitant of the White House, does not truly value any friendship or relationship, willing to throw anyone to the wolves if it will help her and to promise anything to a potential ally even if it contradicts a previous pledge she’s made. After her accidental transgender bathroom bill statement in North Carolina, her most cutthroat moves were to have Gary arrested for all the Meyer Fund activity and to get same-sex marriage overturned. Seeing how the people formerly closest to her, namely Catherine and Marjorie, who for once got heated in this episode, didn’t even attend her funeral demonstrates just how little she actually mattered in the end due to the prioritization of her choices. The fact that both Kent and Amy couldn’t believe that Selina actually chose Jonah was a sign of how even they couldn’t support her desperate politics, and it’s a relief that he apparently got impeached before the Christian mathematician who corrected the term “ex-husband” with “step-husband” could do all that much damage to the country. Seeing everyone in older makeup at the funeral twenty-four years later was a fitting if moderately depressing way to say goodbye, emphatically ending this show on a sour note rather than an overly humorous one. At least Richard became president and managed to concoct a three-state solution to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so there’s some hope. I do expect this show to do well at the Emmys again this year, and I’ll just put in my regular promotion for Timothy Simons as Jonah and Sam Richardson as Richard since they’ve been excellent for years and did some of their best work this year.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: B+
Season MVP: Timothy Simons as Jonah
Season grade: B
Series MVP: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina
Best Season: Seasons 1-4
Best Episode: D.C.

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Audition” (B+)

This episode totally reframed things, shifting almost entirely into the crazy world of theater and acting. What Lindsay saw of Sally’s scene prompted her agent team to see different potential in her, putting her in the room with the famed TV producer who actually wanted to make her a show called “Payback Ladies” with the tagline “It’s that time of month – for revenge.” It was good that she passed on it, though she received quite a bit of anger and judgment from all those who couldn’t believe that she would turn down any opportunity to be a lead. Barry, on the other hand, scored an audition for a leading role simply because of his height, and even after he didn’t put any effort or emotion into the audition, they were still talking about how tall he was and how good he’d look on the poster. This is an entertaining skewering of the way the industry works, exaggerated to a degree but also so rooted in truth. I love and have missed Sally’s nonstop rants, and I like that Barry didn’t even respond to anything she said but just kept doing his next line. I’m intrigued to see if Sally’s show goes well in the new venue Lindsay found her as an apology. I do hope that Hank isn’t going to meet an untimely demise after he delivered a melancholy speech while the revolt was happening around him since he continues to be a great and memorable character. Gene, on the other hand, doesn’t seem long for this world, at least not in his current capacity. Fuches bringing him to the car that has Moss’ body in the trunk and calling the police to confess as him was a clever ploy, and it’s not one that Barry will likely be able to refute, certainly not without exposing his true identity to his acting teacher.

What I’m Watching: Good Girls

Good Girls: Season 2, Episode 11 “Hunting Season” (B-)

I’m not sure what the significance of getting a thumb in the mail was supposed to be, and it’s hardly a stretch that they would find a body in a freezer, bury it in Beth’s yard, and then discover that it actually belongs to someone else. These three can’t catch a break, but that’s mainly because they keep making bad choices which take them in the wrong direction. Ruby is doing everything she can to come up with money to help Stan, and something tells me that the defense is still going to suggest that he earn some time, even after the exorbitant fees they’re charging when they should be even moderately sensitive to the family’s situation. Beth and Dean are at least being honest with each other now, as he claims he has to get out because Beth can’t and she freely admits that she enjoys sleeping with Rio. Their game of twenty questions when he found her snooping in his apartment was a bit strange, but I guess there’s a certain kind of intimacy that has developed even as he continues to force her to pay off debts for the rest of her life. I’m glad that Annie found a smart way to tail Noah and discover his true identity, and hopefully they’ll be able to score a win for once by using the information he doesn’t know she knows to combat Turner’s efforts to take Beth down in a way that gets her more than just Martha Stewart time. Using Sadie to get to Annie was a low blow, and he’s going to have to pay for that once all the cards are on the table.

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 4, Episode 9 “American Champion” (B-)

After an episode of direct confrontation between Axe and Taylor, we’re back to subtler, more devious interactions as they each try to up their game and make the latest chess move. Ben Kim bringing up the fund caused a whole lot of problems at Axe Cap, and choosing Ari to be their spokesperson felt like a very bad idea. Naturally, it was all a big scheme perpetrated by Taylor so that Axe would be off his game and distracted as Taylor attempted to poach Bonnie. That wouldn’t have been a good move, in my mind, and so instead Bonnie got to prove her allegiance to Axe and then start getting it on with Dollar Bill, creating a rather formidable and scary power couple. Lauren did an exceptional job setting Taylor up for success by arranging a meeting at Kellogg’s, and she was rewarded with a positive reaction to the move she made on Taylor, which really is better kept secret from Sara, who likely wouldn’t be pleased with the close attachment her boss is developing for one of her employees. Taylor lost this round to Rebecca, and I do wish that they were both on the side since Taylor is clearly a better person than Axe. Wendy asking Chuck to scorch earth to make sure that she doesn’t lose her medical license was an understandable request, and he did appear to be trying as much as possible without risking adverse consequences for his wife. Things don’t look good for them, but they’re not out of this fight just yet.

Friday, May 17, 2019

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones (Penultimate Episode)

Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 5 “The Bells” (B+)

Well, this was quite an episode. Despite all the death and brutality we’ve seen over the years, I’m not sure I’ve found another installment to be quite as disturbing as this one. I think it’s because all of the reckless collateral damage that cost so many innocent lives came as a direct result of the actions of someone who, up until this point, was a hero rather than a villain. Positioning Cersei as the last step on Daenerys’ ascension to the true throne was a red herring for this episode that allowed her to do very little, standing defiantly as her city was attacked and then crumbling like the walls around her when defeat was closing in. After sentencing Varys to death for his would-be treason, Daenerys ignored Tyrion’s pleas for a peaceful resolution that wouldn’t result in so much death, and after Cersei’s forces surrendered, she didn’t accept it and went on a rampage with her one remaining dragon. Jon doesn’t want to be a leader but he’s going to have to, using his rightful claim to the throne as a way to take down a ruler who, like so many before her, have given in to their primal instincts and allowed them to prove ruinous for their subjects. Arya’s continued survival felt endless, but I think that was the point – to show just how devastating the assault of Daenerys and her dragon was on the people, destroying everything around them rather than liberating them from the shackles of a tyrant. I think Jon has to be the one to ultimately kill Daenerys, but we’ll see. The Hound plunging to a fiery death with his unstoppable brother was far from my favorite part of the episode, but I suppose it was the only way for a character no one else could kill to be felled, especially since he was more concerned with not backing down from a fight than protecting his queen. It certainly seems like Jaime and Cersei are dead after being crushed by the rubble around them, but we didn’t see them die, and this show never likes to provide an unconfirmed off-screen demise. I’m ready for the finale this weekend – let’s hope it proves satisfying.

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 2, Episode 6 “I Hope You Like Missionary!” (B+)

I can’t say that I really understand how we’ve gotten to a point where Konstantin and Villanelle are just openly and freely working with everyone from MI-6, but I am finding it to be extremely entertaining. Konstantin eagerly beating eggs and celebrating lots of old friends being in the same house was just the start, and now we have Eve in Villanelle’s ear while she’s out on an operation. Villanelle, for one, is having a blast, giving her “partner” Eve a range of accents to choose from, including the American one she opted for her to use. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Villanelle is completely unpredictable out in the field, even pushing a woman she didn’t like into traffic so that she’d be instantly decapitated by a bus. Apparently Carolyn is more irritated by the idea of breakfast than the notion of one of the people she’s supposed to be handling casually opting to murder someone. Villanelle managed to get close to Aaron remarkably quickly, and he picked up the contradictions in her created character right away. I’ve enjoyed playing Dix-it in the past with my sister, and so it was fun to see that as the real catalyst for him to point out that she was supposed to have these advanced degrees but couldn’t understand the basic rules of a game made to be played by children. Eating her earpiece and then punching him in the nose when he started bullying her was an intense play but one that feels totally like her, and maybe it will manage to get her closer to Aaron than anyone else. While Nico and Eve had an exciting night together, their marriage does seem to be in serious trouble, and Nico is playing right into Villanelle’s hands in distancing himself from his wife.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 4, Episode 21 “Red Dawn” (B+)

As the end of the season approaches, the endgame is becoming increasingly clear and rather irreversible at this point. Kara did a cool trick to gain the upper hand while tied to a chair but opened the door to find Red Daughter there with a wig and holding Kryptonite, just the first instance of the two similar but opposite super-powered beings going head-to-head, as indicated by the opening credits with Supergirl’s name spelled out in a distinctly foreign language. Fortunately, three very strong women were working hard to find solutions to help while Supergirl was otherwise occupied. Lena bringing a truth-seeker and poisoning her mother to get her to help was clever, and it turned out to be extraordinarily useful when James went into a sort of shock after trying to stop Lockwood from taking out Otis. Dreamer was eager to risk everything to help those in need, which would have been great had Brainy not been immediately identified when he brought her in as Lockwood. Watching his reboot meltdown was intense, and now he’s so emotionless that he doesn’t mind putting both Dreamer and Hank in serious danger so that they have the best chance of success. Alex was the most crucial player, triggered by the sight of Supergirl fighting for her life to remember who her sister really is and able to encourage her to harness the power of the grass (I guess?) to save her own life. President Baker thanking Lex Luthor on TV for killing Supergirl is going to be a hard announcement to come back from, and I don’t think it’s going to end simply with Supergirl back in the public’s good graces.

Pilot Review: The Society

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.

Round Two: Dead to Me

Dead to Me: Season 1, Episode 2 “Maybe I’m Crazy” (B+)

I liked this second outing just as much as the first, mainly because it didn’t try to make Judy living with Jen and her sons seem like something normal. Charlie and Henry had different reactions to her being there, with a particularly contentious relationship smoothed over by the introduction of marijuana and pizza. Jen did notice that Judy was sleeping outside, which is definitely weird, and Judy seems to be acting strangely both because she’s just an odd person and because she feels so tremendously guilty for having been responsible for the death of her husband. It’s interesting to see the relationship developing between Steve and Jen even as he’s actively trashing Judy and taking out a restraining order on her. James Marsden is indeed charismatic, and therefore it was extremely intriguing to learn that he was in the passenger seat of the car during that fateful hit-and-run. Evidently that shared experience contributed to the dissolution of their relationship, but he’s much less innocent than he claims to be even if he thinks she’s crazy. I was pleased to recognize Ed Asner, who just showed up on last week’s episode of “Doom Patrol,” as a well-named character – Abe – who appears to be Judy’s closest confidante at the moment. It’s really something to see Jen exhibit her rage against those who are irresponsible drivers, calling the police repeatedly and then going to town with a purpose on that flashy yellow car when she happened upon it while they were out driving.

What I’m Watching: Ramy

Ramy: Season 1, Episode 4 “Strawberries” (B+)

I was intrigued enough by this flashback episode to Ramy’s childhood before things took a serious turn with the revelation of just what day in Ramy’s past this was. Going into a chat room to ask questions about masturbation reminded me of the very entertaining film “Yes, God, Yes,” which I saw at SXSW, and I like that someone told him to search for “nice boobs” and he ultimately chose the magazine cover to serve as the proper inspiration. It was fascinating to watch the shift that happened after news of the terrorist attacks broke and, just as that moment, he heard Arabic emanating from the walkie-talkie that his mother insisted upon calling a cell phone because its functions were essentially the same in her view. His friends casually asking him if he was a terrorist on the walk to school was insensitive but not in an entirely cruel way, though forcing him to go into the woods to masturbate to prove that he wasn’t lying about everything did cross a certain line. It somehow felt natural for Ramy to wander into the kitchen late at night to find none other than Osama Bin Laden going through his fridge looking for whipped cream before delivering a lecture about the western appropriation of strawberries. After that head trip and a visit from the woman on the cover of the magazine to provide the appropriate encouragement, it was sweet to see the roots of his friendship with Steve long before his sense of humor took a dark turn.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol: Season 1, Episode 13 “Flex Patrol” (B+)

I guess I hadn’t realized that the man in the cell next to Vic was none other than the legendary comic-leaving Flex Mentallo, whose coolest ability in my opinion is his ability to hear and understand things that others only hear in their heads, namely Grid and the negative spirit. Watching him being broken at the ant farm as he was planning his escape so many years ago with the spirit was tough, and his current state when they found him was indeed poor. I like that he described a chief’s evil twin brother taking his place only for Jane to realize that he was describing a soap opera, which led to the episode on which Cliff happened to have made an appearance. Hearing him champion the Daytime Emmy buzz that never materialized for his wooden acting was entertaining, and it’s nice to see some friendly bickering and mockery happen when the fate of the world is at stake most of the time. I was surprised to recognize Ed Asner, who will turn ninety later this year, as the patient who Rita helped not knowing that he was actually Mr. Nobody, who apparently believes that he scored a victory in convincing her to have Vic sit out the big battle as they finally take the fight to him. We’re back to the manipulative fourth-wall antics of Mr. Nobody, pausing his iPad as he sits in his Doom Patrol gear and burns the show poster down to celebrate the fact that, with just two episodes left in the season, things are really heating up.

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 3, Episode 10 “Show Me that Magic” (B+)

It’s so interesting to see how Sam’s relationships with the men in her life are portrayed. As soon as Lala’s husband showed up to interrupt their girl time, she exploded, angry that he would dare to intrude on them. Lala didn’t take her reaction lying down, standing up to her in a way that the adults in Sam’s life rarely do. The fact that she still wanted to watch Sam’s movie after that was surprising, but I think these women realize that they just want to be together rather than engaging in the kind of battles they have to fight with other people in their lives. Sam getting into the car to see her father sitting in the backseat was yet another haunting reminder of the influence that he’s had on her, and I liked her response to Duke asking her about him and then pointing out that she’s close to fifty herself. The most memorable scene of the episode was Sam’s latest ill-advised session with Dr. Miller, which started with her bizarre request for him to lie to her kids about the adverse effects of their bad behavior towards her. Making out during the session was quite the development, and I like that Dr. Miller felt the need to point out that he wasn’t going to be charging her for the hour. A normal relationship doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for her right now, but maybe this is just the kind of diversion that she needs at the moment.

What I’m Watching: Abby’s

Abby’s: Season 1, Episode 7 “Soda Gun” (B+)

NBC announced its primetime schedule for the fall earlier this week, and apparently the fate of this show and a few other freshmen still airing episodes hasn’t been decided yet. I for one am enjoying this show even if it’s hardly the best comedy on the air, and I’d be happy to see it return, especially since the last time Natalie Morales had a sitcom I enjoyed, “The Grinder” got cancelled after just one season. This installment was fun since the crew at the bar rallied to figure out how to make Fred happy after Bill bringing in a real handyman to fix the soda spout got him feeling useless and unwanted. I like that Rosie has a checklist prepared of the possible things Fred could be mad about, including categories where nature, man, and Fred himself are the causes of distress. James was eager to let Fred win at dominoes through he’s apparently never actually beat him, yet another one of his very selectively useful skills. Abby going into Fred’s smoky car to talk directly to him and thank him for the burrito he brought her was an endearing moment, far more effective than their misguided attempt to give him the prized token. My favorite part of the episode was Bill trying to get into the spirit of the token cult even as he realized how patently absurd it was, knowing the type of behavior he needs to model if he’s ever going to move up from the position of favorite punching bag for everyone else at the bar.

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 4, Episode 5 “Sonogram Frog Rub Family” (C)

I found most of this episode to be highly forced, with the first three segments feeling entirely contrived. Greg had to try very hard to say things that sounded bad and then pretend like he didn’t realize their double meanings, and it was obvious from the start of that vignette that he would steal the photo, they would take it home, and they’d eventually discover that they were going to be having a girl. Why they would trust Tim’s medical opinion is a mystery, and the only worthwhile part of that whole bit was the parting quip about a son’s hockey game and how he was his best friend, something Greg oneday hopes to experience. I don’t know too much about different animal species, but it seems unlikely that the internet would recommend to exterminate a type of frog immediately upon discovery, which is both violent and rather repugnant. Leave it to this crew of teenagers to fail completely because all of them except for Tyler were far too sympathetic to the plight of poor Michael. I didn’t know why Tim’s plotline took a sharp turn last episode, and now we see that it was the prelude to him being far too friendly in a way that should merit a response from the Short family that has had no trouble telling him how little they think of him in the past. The fourth segment was the only saving grace, though it too took an unexpected dramatic turn. Why the woman who delivered bad news by pushing a box of tissues towards her clients didn’t think of this match that seems likely to come to fruition is unknown, but maybe this new family could work out splendidly, fulfilling the longtime dreams of these eager soon-to-be parents.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 5, Episode 2 “Dead Lift” (B+)

I was very pleased to see the return of annoying Liv on the given brain of the week, this time a fitness freak who lectured Clive on how many calories are in a pint of ranch dressing and then chastise Ravi for having enjoyed fifty-seven empty calories when he excitedly identified the blood as corn syrup. I knew all along that the human murder scene had been staged, though it was interesting to see how Major decided to play it, pretending to exercise vicious justice against zombie perpetrators in his own midst to make sure that he appeared like a forceful and bold leader. Zombies are definitely in danger with the human forces working against them, and the police force needs to be united in order to provide the protection necessary to all the people within the Seattle borders. Major’s going through a tough time, and he’s punishing himself by not indulging in delights like Liv’s home-cooked brain meal, a nice sentiment that would have been unfathomable at the beginning of this show when he was all muscle and Liv broke off their engagement out of fear that she’d hurt him. I like seeing Peyton’s increased role in daily affairs, having to negotiate between the two city council members who happened to be different species, and her enthusiasm and resourcefulness with Ravi’s proposed “Hi, Zombie” idea. After he was so gruff and unpleasant in the previous episode, it’s good to Ravi get such delight from coming up with smart ways to solve the problems he sees around him.

What I’m Watching: The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 7 “Not All Men” (B)

This episode felt like the closest to horror that we’ve seen yet on this show, with a clear issue spreading and threatening to turn every possible ally into a violent and uncontrollable enemy. I recognized a whole bunch of actors in this episode, starting with Luke Kirby from “Rectify” playing a far less sympathetic role as the first man to become infected by the meteor. Taissa Farmiga, recently seen in films like “The Mule,” “What They Had,” and “In a Valley of Violence,” was the lead who began to notice this horrific shift, and Rhea Seehorn, one of the most valuable players on “Better Call Saul,” as the sister who took a bit more time to start believing her. Ike Barinholtz, usually far more obnoxious in projects like “The Mindy Project,” was a creative but effective casing choice as Mike, whose creepy rendition of “Happy Birthday” was by far the most memorable scene of the episode. I knew I recognized Cole, who was played by Percy Hynes White from the recently-cancelled “The Gifted.” I like that Seehorn’s Martha wanted to harness the power of the meteors that was turning the men into superpowered fighters, though the rules of this nightmare didn’t allow for that. The near-closing interaction with the guard who was evidently affected demonstrated, as this show usually does, that all is decidedly not well, and understanding what the problem is doesn’t mean that it can be easily solved. A happy ending is rarely in the cards on this show, even if characters did manage to survive.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What I’m Watching: Brockmire

Brockmire: Season 3, Episode 6 “Placed on Waivers” (B+)

I really liked this episode. It’s a tribute to this show’s format that it could work well without bringing back the two supporting characters that always made it for me, and it’s also refreshing to see Brockmire as the sane one giving advice to someone else who is spiraling out of control. Celebrating the news of Gabby’s pregnancy was exciting, and that bubble burst quickly when she returned home to find Gayle in the tub with Dakota, who apparently loves Instagram and isn’t great at holding her breath for long periods of time. Watching Gabby’s subsequent meltdown was pretty spectacular, and I do wonder whether Panda Express paid for all the advertising that they got in this half-hour since it was mostly negative about the quality of the food and the establishment over all. It appears that things are indeed progressing for Brockmire with Christine Woods’ Maggie, and I did enjoy watching her reaction to being lambasted for her sauce-related failure. I suppose it does make great entertainment to have the broadcasters air their meltdowns during a game, and Brockmire did try his best to talk some sense into Gabby and encourage her to save some of her feelings for a time when everyone wasn’t listening in to their conversation. He did succeed at getting her to use a pseudonym for the wife that she wanted to complain about, one we likely won’t see again after the unsubtle message that Gabby left for her on their garage door. I liked seeing this side of Gabby and hope to see more of it in the future!

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 5, Episode 7 “Chapter Eighty-Eight” (B)

I understand that this episode may have been structurally necessary, but it wasn’t a terribly productive use of the limited time this show has left. Jane was never going to do well in Montana, though, to her credit, she let go of some of the reservations she had about trying new things. It was more than inconvenient that she didn’t have any cell service to be able to talk to Mateo or work through her thoughts with Xiomara, but it did help her to make a decision all on her own, even if she enjoyed a sweet goodnight kiss with Michael when they ended up having to camp out overnight because they weren’t going to make it back before the sun went down. I knew that I recognized Charlie from somewhere and was excited to learn that she was played by Haley Lu Richardson, a standout performer from “Support the Girls” and “The Chaperone.” I’m more than happy to be done with all this Michael business, which now represents a stumbling block on the path back to victory for the side I’ve always been on, #teamrafael! Unfortunately, the man she now knows that she wants to be thinks it’s too late and that he can’t trust her anymore. While that was sad news, I’m glad to see that Jane isn’t willing to give up just yet, and when she puts her mind to something, she’s not going to let anything stop her. I imagining her path back to his good graces will be awkward and uncomfortable, but I’m looking forward to following it.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 4, Episode 5 “Santa Claus Rides Loch Ness Monster into Atlantis!” (B-)

I didn’t find this episode to be terribly worthwhile, mainly because this thurple commits plenty of poly fouls they’re capable of dealing with on their own. Attending this absurdly overpriced seminar with no refunds felt unnecessary, and it was just an opportunity for Jack to realize that Emma is right about some of the issues she always warns them about and for Izzy to panic even more about being an afterthought in their relationship. Being spoken to as someone who would want her own pairing since she could never truly be a part of theirs is a worrisome thought that no one has brought up for a while, and it’s just going to be another reason that she’s going to try to bolt. I enjoyed the opportunity for Carmen and Nina to spend some time together at the impromptu binge night, with Nina blaming Carmen for taking her best friend away as an extension of the suburbs. Lala is being rehabilitated in much the same way that Lori was when she was still a part of the show, and though she definitely talks during the show a lot more than she’s supposed to, she’s growing both on me and seemingly on the residents of the neighborhood as well. It was announced last week that this show will be ending with its fifth season, which to me is totally fine since it’s been on the air a while and is no longer quite as good as it used to be in season one.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 5, Episode 21 “The Girl with the Red Lightning” (B)

I didn’t realize that this was the penultimate episode of the season – I’ll soon have a chance to watch the finale, which aired last night. I’m ready to be done with Cicada just dropping in and then shooting up into the air, and I think this show has more ground it can cover than just one big bad. Inviting metas into CCPD so that they can all get the cure was an interesting plan, and one that seemed to make the usually unflappable Joe go into panic mode. I liked the opportunity to see Irene again, and to see her use her powers when Cicada came after her and Sherloque told her he knew she had abilities. Sending her to a different Earth for her protection was a sweet move, and maybe he’ll travel there with her at the end of the season if he manages to survive. Seeing Barry and Nora run together and Nora get into Cicada’s head with her negative energy was intriguing, and it was once again endlessly frustrating to see Nora disregard the express instructions her parents gave her. I’m more sympathetic to her after she made the argument that she’s an adult and they have to start helping her face it rather than keeping her away from it. The last-minute reveal about Eobard’s true intentions does make things much more exciting – and worrisome – since it shows that the bad guy we’ve been told to trust all season has actually been masterminding a major move that might result in him getting back to a time he wants to be in and taking down some good guys on the way. I’m eager to see what happens in the finale!

Pilot Review: Chernobyl

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: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 14 “Nip | Stuck” (B-)

I can give this episode the most credit for its clever title and for Ava’s casual coining on the phrase “nip-notized” to describe the “Gary is all the man we need” effect. It’s not always a good idea for these characters to act unlike themselves, but in this case, it was worthwhile to see Ava and Nora fall under his nip-spell and then get knocked out of it when Mona’s Wolfie bashed their heads together. For the first time, Mona managed to conjure up her alternate personality at just the right moment, though now it appears she’s been taken prisoner by Neron, Gary, and Tabitha the fairy godmother. I wasn’t impressed by Neron’s trip back in time with Constantine to show him how his ancestor was responsible for creating a rift between humans and magical creatures, and I’d like to hope that the focus on Neron means that season five won’t deal as much with Constantine and all these spells. I like that Mick and Sara started to argue after he made the call for Gideon to fire, and that they reminisced and acknowledged that the two of them and Ray were the only originals left. I do like the team as it stands right now, especially with Nate and Zari finally getting together and Charlie having a blast. Going into hell to rescue Constantine is sure to be a dark journey, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s this crew. It will certainly be messy, but they’re up for the job.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What I’m Watching: Veep (Penultimate Episode)

Veep: Season 7, Episode 6 “Oslo” (B)

I’m not even sure what to say about this show anymore. I know it’s already over, and I’m sure the finale – which is coming up soon on my watchlist – will be memorable. This episode threw in a whole bunch of curveballs, namely Selina accidentally admitting to being a war criminal to her least favorite ambassador, Minna, which resulted in her being reported to the International Criminal Court. In this show’s not-all-that-exaggerated version of America, somehow that helped her, until of course she tried to mitigate the damage by showing that only elephants were killed. It was truly awkward and uncomfortable to watch Selina have to repeat over and over her dedication to keeping Tibet free after she had just casually offered it back to China as a debt to be repaid upon her victory. I did much more enjoy hearing Minna irritate Selina to no end, first by asking for Selina’s forgiveness and then telling her she could not forgive her for killing innocents, and hilariously confirming that they would be sharing a room in the embassy. Michael McKean’s governor didn’t last long, and now Richard is one step closer to his likely selection by Selina as a running mate since he’s pretty much the only person she doesn’t want to snub for the job. Other humorous subplots included Dan bringing Amy’s abortion doctor to Jonah’s dad’s funeral and Mike being hired for CBS News as the youngest correspondent by a long shot. Jonah killing his dad after being patient zero in the spread of adult chicken pox to anti-vaxxer communities along the campaign trail was an absurd event that would happen only on this show, and something tells me that Jonah’s eager embrace of killing a good number of immigrants may ultimately make him Selina’s fiercest opponent in this truly deplorable contest.

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Truth Has a Ring to It” (B+)

One of the best things about this show is that it’s often hard to determine just who the good guys and the bad guys are, especially since we’re always rooting for Barry and he spends a lot of his time killing people. That has sort of shifted in this episode, since we’re also on Hank’s side, and his attempted coup against Esther, which would have resulted in many people dying, appears to have failed miserably. I do hope that Hank won’t have to endure fatal consequences for his actions since I hope that we’ll see other scenes like him leading a Chechen song and dance in Barry’s honor. Barry’s police problems went away entirely thanks to the open-and-shut classification of the case, and it seems like the dead cop’s partner is off the scent too. Watching Barry channel the darkness not only of his wartime kill but also of coming face-to-face with Moss at the end of last season was intense, and he delivered a truly terrifying performance opposite Sally that had everyone in the class completely entranced. Gene’s assurances that Barry, unlike Sam, is not an inherently violent guy didn’t assuage him all that much, but he’s doing his best to make a clean break. Cutting off Fuches won’t work out all that well for him, as the formerly affable ally is now set on going after Barry’s new mentor in a way that likely won’t end well for anyone. Seeing this new side of Fuches is indeed interesting, and I’m very intrigued to see where it’s going to lead.