Thursday, October 31, 2019

Round Two: Watchmen

Watchmen: Season 1, Episode 2 “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” (B+)

This was a solid follow-up to a very strong and intriguing opening hour, providing some answers but still leaving a lot of questions unanswered. The real-life Tulsa race massacre of 1921 is now getting a deserved historical spotlight with viewers of this show like myself googling to find out if it actually happened, which it did, and in this dark universe, one of the only positives is that lifetime President Redford has made an effort to try to atone for the longstanding racist practices and institutions of the United States. How we got from then to the now-105-year-old Will, with his apparent relation to Angela, claiming to have killed and then telepathically strung Judd up remains a mystery, and I’m very interested in seeing where it goes. The flashbacks to the White Night and other events are informative and helpful, and it’s good to be able to see more of Don Johnson as Judd since just having him die in the pilot would have been a waste since I still remember just how much of a standout he was in the underrated dark thriller “Cold in July.” We also got to meet Senator Keene, played by the always reliable James Wolk from “Mad Men” and “Lone Star.” The TV version of the American hero story is unsettling and very violent, and evidently it’s a chronicle of what has recently happened that can appeal to a wide range of audiences. I like the uncontrollable dynamic of Sister Night, Looking Glass, and Red Scare, and I have no idea what’s going on with Jeremy Irons’ mad scientist Adrian Veldt and his army of killable clones or whatever they are.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 4 “In Plain Sight” (C+)

I don’t know what it is since it’s a different voice that’s speaking Ma'alefa'ak’s words each time, but all of his lines sound horribly inauthentic and almost laughable to me. “Meet me at the planetarium” was a particularly unfortunate one, and I’m glad that we at least won’t have to deal with him trying to threaten or incept anyone in the immediate future since he’s now in Lena’s hands as she works with him to exact whatever revenge she’s still trying to get on a team whose handshakes and T-shirts she’ll now be taught. It’s hard to really understand her aims, and she’s not the only one that everyone now needs to worry about working against them in ways they’re not even prepared to consider. William being undercover as a jerk didn’t work too well since Kara and Nia figured out what he was really up to almost right away, and Kara would do well to determine whether he can actually be trusted so that he can be an ally rather than yet another impediment. James deciding he needs to go back to his hometown to find a new purpose in life helping the underserved and impoverished makes some sense given his abrupt dismissal from his job, and I wonder what that means for Mehcad Brooks’ presence on the show. Brainy probably couldn’t have done much better than he tried to do in this hour, but it’s good that he and Nia might be approaching a more productive place given how distracted and unnerved he was by the instability of his relationship.

What I’m Watching: The Affair (Penultimate Episode)

The Affair: Season 5, Episode 10 (C+)

We’re so close to the end here, yet for some reason we have to suffer through a 100-minute series finale. This second-to-last hour was far from satisfying, and my biggest gripe is with its format. Opening with Helen and Noah’s individual perspectives before moving to an unexplained share perspective made little sense, perhaps only to indicate that they actually had an honest conversation they were both able to hear and perceive the same way. Yet it’s just the latest convoluted iteration of a truly creative and effective device that helped to make this show’s first two season so vital and superb. Though Ruth Wilson is no longer a member of the cast, her presence in brief flashbacks reminded me of much better days of this show, which was strong despite the less appealing structuring aspect of the interrogations about the mysterious death that took a while to unravel. The prominence of the California fires felt eerily prescient given that they’ve once again resumed their destruction, something that couldn’t possibly have been predicted when this season was filmed. It’s not a very helpful setting for this drama though, and it just ends up as a forced reason for Noah and Helen to hike to safety and have an opportunity to hash out all of their issues before Helen managed to get bitten by a poisonous snake and survive without an issue. We know that Noah isn’t a great person and he certainly doesn’t respect women in any way that resembles what he believes, and the two of them talking for half an hour after being stubborn in the face of nature is not what I’m looking for after spending fifty hours with these characters. Let’s hope the finale is moderately better.

What I’m Watching: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 5 “The Greater Good” (C+)

This show is extremely cyclical in the way it portrays its characters’ arcs. Once again, it’s absolutely incredible how Miles and Cara interfere in other people’s lives and expect them to be grateful right away when they’re being so intrusive, and I’d love to see them not get thanked one of these times to recognize just how unacceptable their behavior is. They didn’t have any right to accuse Claire of anything after just meeting her, and naturally they went behind her back to tell Arthur and then Bishop Thompson, which made things much worse before it eventually got better. Arthur didn’t think through how his chief of staff test run would be received if any of his family members found out about it before he had the chance to tell him, and I can’t believe he didn’t see the very obvious development that Thompson would recommend him as his replacement just after he had agreed to a more relaxed and committed lifestyle with Trish. Rakesh and Jaya aren’t thinking too far ahead with their relationship in deciding to keep it secret from her parents, and whatever happens isn’t going to end well for them. Ali was right to express doubt at its effectiveness, but she’s barely had a relevant line of dialogue this season. Cara’s office might have been taken while she was gone and her replacement might be pretty competitive, but her attitude is not good, and it’s a positive thing that her would-be nemesis asked her to collaborate before things got truly petty.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What I’m Watching: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 4 “Who Are You?” (B-)

The web of people who know that Kate is Batwoman isn’t getting much bigger, and it would probably be helpful if she had friends who could cover for her rather than give her grief for constantly bailing on events to take care of obscure plumbing issues and the like. It didn’t take much time at all for Kate to get close with Reagan, but she did a poor job of pretending to care about the relationship and coming up with half-decent excuses about why she had to duck out. Alice took a bit of a backseat in this hour with Magpie having a lot of fun with her grand entrances, getting the chance to air her grievances about class imbalance in Gotham to the one person who’s probably working harder than anyone to give everyone a fair shot. The boomerang malfunction was unfortunate, but Kate’s getting the hang of it. Sophie is playing very coy regarding Kate being Batwoman, and I’d like to see that develop further since she has to be the next one to figure it out. I’d give second best odds to Mary, who is wowed into speechlessness every time Batwoman comes to visit and who did some smooth undercover work of her own when she used her patient’s delirium to glean crucial information from him. The biggest game changer game from Catherine, who managed to get her husband furious with her when she confessed that she took steps to manipulate evidence so that Jacob and Kate would think that Beth was dead. When Kate finds out, she’ll be furious, and I can’t imagine what further proof Jacob still needs that Alice is indeed his lost-long daughter.

Pilot Review: Zomboat

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: Will and Grace (Season Premiere)

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 1 “Eat, Pray, Love, Phone, Sex” (B-)

No one ever accused this show of not being entertaining. The premiere of what’s now been confirmed as the final season of this show (and its third of this iteration) was moved up from midseason when the lackluster “Sunnyside” didn’t take and got pulled from the schedule, and now it’s back to the grind with big bombshells to send this show off in extravagant style. I expected that we would see Reid Scott’s traveling companion again and then thought we wouldn’t after Grace revealed just how many people she fooled around with while she was traveling, but I suspect that the father of her geriatric pregnancy is none other than the man played by the “Veep” and “Why Women Kill” actor. Will’s sudden eagerness to have a baby meant that he was able to be genuinely happy for Grace before Jack and Karen burst in to put a true damper on their news. Estefan manages to match Jack’s antics, defending his horrible cuckoo clock and then gallantly diving down the trash chute after his husband so that they could finish their fight and agree to a new policy of openness. There’s some humor to be gleaned from Karen answering the phone in ways that would surely turn off any potential customer who called in, and while there’s no denying Megan Mullally’s commitment and ability to make the most of any material, that phone sex scene went on a little long. This show should still be fun for the rest of its run even if it runs out of steam.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 5 “Employee of the Bearimy” (B+)

I’d say things went pretty well at the Bad Place even though it didn’t seem like that for most of the time Michael and Jason were there. The notion of a Demon-Con that’s insufferable because of just how many slides and hours were involved in a conference designed around new and innovative ways to torture people is of course absurd, but it’s very on-brand for this show. Michael’s plan to go up on stage pretending to be Vicky and then bring Jason up, pretending that he was Glenn in a Jason suit, was smart, and Janet knew exactly how to play along when Jason called her “girl,” triggering her default response, the absence of which was how he managed to figure out that she was actually Bad Janet. Vicky showing up right as Michael got permission to just walk off stage with Janet was unfortunate timing, and I love that all the demons were so interested in watching what they thought was a lifelike demonstration that no one bothered to stop them. Back in the alleged Good Place, Tahani was about to come undone but managed to do a good job in the end of managing the problem that was a frantic Derek, whose handiwork Janet will surely admonish when she returns. Chidi’s excitement at a puzzle with no answers was funny, and Eleanor was obviously touched by it and then upset when she saw him kiss Simone when Chidi did finally show up at the party that Tahani was supposed to throw. I enjoy Eleanor and Tahani’s interactions, and I’m glad to see where their relationship has come to after their initial meeting way back in the pilot.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

AFT Awards: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

This is the twelfth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Becki Newton, Nasim Pedrad, Maya Rudolph, Andrew Savage, Tiya Sircar

Emmy nominees: Jane Lynch, Sandra Oh, Maya Rudolph, Kristin Scott Thomas, Fiona Shaw, Emma Thompson

Finalists: Amanda Peet (Brockmire), Kristin Scott Thomas (Fleabag), Marsha Thomason (Better Things), Molly Gordon (Ramy), Quinn Cooke (Brockmire)

The nominees:

Rachel Grate (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sally Phillips (Veep)
Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place)
May Calamawy (Ramy)

The winner:

Christine Woods (Brockmire) displayed so much energy and positivity in her newfound relationship with the title character to the degree that she might even manage to chance who he was as a person.

Next up: Best Directing for a Drama Series

AFT Awards: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

This is the eleventh category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Bryan Cranston, Colin Ferguson, Jason Mantzoukas, Joel McHale, Navid Negahban

Emmy nominees: Matt Damon, Robert De Niro, Luke Kirby, Peter MacNicol, John Mulaney, Adam Sandler, Rufus Sewell

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Tyrel Jackson Williams (Brockmire)
Zachary Levi (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Rufus Sewell (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Jake Lacy (Ramy)

The winner:

Luis Guzman (Shameless) really was a fitting companion for William H. Macy’s Frank, ready to go lower at any moment to prove his dedication to depravity.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

This is the tenth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Jodi Balfour, Kerry Bishé, Lily Rabe, Katee Sackhoff, Lois Smith

Emmy nominees: Laverne Cox, Cherry Jones, Jessica Lange, Phylicia Rashad, Cicely Tyson, Carice van Houten

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Nina Arianda (Billions)
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Apocalypse)
Alexa Davalos (The Punisher)
Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us)

The winner:

Sanaa Lathan (The Twilight Zone) turned in a formidable performance centered on a defiant insistence on survival despite incredible odds.

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

This is the ninth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Cameron Britton, Ethan Embry, Desmond Harrington, Wentworth Miller, Pepe Rapazote

Emmy nominees: Michael Angarano, Ron Cephas Jones, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael McKean, Glynn Turman, Bradley Whitford

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Kumail Nanjiani (The Twilight Zone)
Samuel Roukin (Counterpart)
Jeremy Allen White (Homecoming)
Damson Idris (The Twilight Zone)

The winner:

Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale) delivered a sardonic turn as a sane man living in a man world who most closely resemble an incredulous audience.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Monday, October 28, 2019

AFT Awards: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

This is the eighth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: D’Arcy Carden, Sara Gilbert, Liv Hewson, Jane Levy, Kathleen Rose Perkins

Emmy nominees: Alex Borstein, Anna Chlumsky, Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman, Betty Gilpin, Sarah Goldberg, Marin Hinkle, Kate McKinnon

Finalists: D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place), Jameela Jamil (The Good Place), Sarah Goldberg (Barry), Tawny Newsome (Brockmire)

The nominees:

Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Sian Clifford (Fleabag)
Hiam Abbass (Barry)

The winner:

Linda Cardellini (Dead to Me) conveyed her character’s deepest fears and regrets in an immensely watchable manner as she put on an act to hide her deepest secrets from everyone around her.

Next up: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

AFT Awards: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

This is the seventh category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Samuel Anderson, Anthony Carrigan, Skyler Gisondo, Manny Jacinto, William Jackson Harper

Emmy nominees: Alan Arkin, Anthony Carrigan, Tony Hale, Stephen Root, Tony Shalhoub, Henry Winkler

Finalists: Nelson Franklin (Abby’s), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place)

The nominees:

Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Andrew Scott (Fleabag)
Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)
Steve Buscemi (Miracle Workers)

The winner:

Timothy Simons (Veep) was the most relevant and hilarious part of his show in its final season, demonstrating how idiocy and a towering stature can be used for truly destructive purposes.

Next up: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

This is the sixth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Thandie Newton, Yvonne Strahovski, Susan Kelechi Watson

Emmy nominees: Gwendoline Christie, Julia Garner, Lena Headey, Fiona Shaw, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams

Finalists: Julia Garner (Ozark), Sarah Snook (Succession)

The nominees:

April Bowlby (Doom Patrol)
Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us)
Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard)

The winner:

Nazanin Boniadi (Counterpart) masterfully kept a handle on opposing forces threatening to tear her life apart.

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

This is the fifth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Bobby Cannavale, Bill Irwin, Caleb McLaughlin, Christian Slater, Matias Varela

Emmy nominees: Alfie Allen, Jonathan Banks, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Kelly, Chris Sullivan

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Bobby Cannavale (Homecoming)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol)

The winner:

Harry Lloyd (Counterpart) contended with his world collapsing around him, clinging desperately to what he thought he could control.

Next up: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Sunday, October 27, 2019

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

This is the fourth category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Jessica Barden, Kristen Bell, Rachel Brosnahan, Issa Rae, Alia Shawkat

Emmy nominees: Christina Applegate, Rachel Brosnahan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Natasha Lyonne, Catherine O’Hara, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Finalists: Kristen Bell (The Good Place), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Geraldine Viswanathan (Miracle Workers), Issa Rae (Insecure), Desiree Akhavan (The Bisexual)

The nominees:
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Regina Hall (Black Monday)
Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)
Emmy Rossum (Shameless)

The winner:

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) was tremendously watchable in every scene as she found a new obsession and discovered very surprising possibilities she didn’t know existed.

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

This is the third category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Ted Danson, Keir Gilchrist, Bill Hader, Alex Lawther, Timothy Olyphant

Emmy nominees: Anthony Anderson, Ted Danson, Don Cheadle, Michael Douglas, Bill Hader, Eugene Levy

Finalists: Don Cheadle (Black Monday)

The nominees:
Hank Azaria (Brockmire)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Bill Hader (Barry)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)

The winner:

Ramy Youssef (Ramy) was real, human, and relatable in his portrayal of a moderately observant Muslim man living in a secular modernity.

*Note: two of last year’s nominees, Keir Gilchrist and Timothy Olyphant, aren’t here because I still haven’t finished the most recent seasons of their show. I wish I had, but I’ll look forward to enjoying them down the road when I have time to catch up on all the streaming shows I need to marathon.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

This is the second category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Jodie Comer, Christina Hendricks, Tatiana Maslany, Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter

Emmy nominees: Emilia Clarke, Jodie Comer, Viola Davis, Laura Linney, Mandy Moore, Sandra Oh, Robin Wright

Finalists: None

The nominees:
Mj Rodriguez (Pose)
Diane Guerrero (Doom Patrol)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
Julia Roberts (Homecoming)

The winner:

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) dug into the rich craziness of her character, locating plenty of maniacal delight and even more twisted depth.

Next up: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

This is the first category of the 13th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2018-2019 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Paul Bettany, Taylor Kitsch, Rami Malek, Giovanni Ribisi, J.K. Simmons

Emmy nominees: Jason Bateman, Sterling K. Brown, Kit Harington, Bob Odenkirk, Billy Porter, Milo Ventimiglia

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Billy Porter (Pose)
J.K. Simmons (Counterpart)
Diego Luna (Narcos: Mexico)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)

The winner:

Richard Madden (Bodyguard) was immensely focused, always ready to spring into action, and the character was enhanced by the conflicted loyalties he demonstrated as he navigated the contradictions of his duties.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Round Two: Living with Yourself

Living with Yourself: Season 1, Episode 2 “Made in a Strip Mall” (B)

It was cool that this episode started with following the new Miles and his experience waking up in the clinic after the procedure and going home with a simple warning that he shouldn’t look the first time he uses the toilet. Barging into the meeting with lots of energy and inspiration took all of his colleagues by surprise, including Dan, who you’d think would have known that this would happen given how the procedure did exactly the same thing for him. Kate seemed shocked that he wanted to cook such a fancy dinner, and being a brand new him isn’t going to just undo all the problems that they’ve had in the past. Encountering his former self at just that moment caught us up to where we were in the first episode, with them heading straight to the clinic to find out just what had happened. The doctor slipping when he was protesting the additional money they wanted as blackmail for not reporting them to the FDA revealed the kind of expectations that people have when they seek a miracle cure like this, putting on his fake accent so that clients wouldn’t think of him as a person. It was never going to be easy for one of the Miles to just leave and head to another country, and getting a call from Kate was enough to prove that solution wouldn’t be permanent. The exposition is slow on this show that’s clearly meant to be binge-watched, and so we’ll see how long I last since I’m not going to be digesting it in that format.

Round Two: Modern Love

Modern Love: Season 1, Episode 2 “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist” (B)

I enjoyed the first episode of this anthology series, and this second one is a decent follow-up, but there’s just something so expected about the structure and feel of this show. The two seemingly lost romances in this installment were endearing, yet neither of them proved to be absolutely magical or energizing in a way that I would have thought this show might be able to achieve. I did recognize all four members of the guest cast, starting with Dev Patel, who earned his first Oscar nomination for “Lion” a few years ago after earlier strong work in “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Newsroom.” I knew right away that it was Caitlin McGee, star of the already-cancelled freshman drama “Bluff City Law,” as the woman who immediately enchanted him and who he then couldn’t get out of his mind. I associated Catherine Keener and Andy Garcia with two relatively melancholy projects, Keener in the dismal war correspondent drama “War Story” and Garcia with his portrayal of the Georgian president in the film “5 Days of War.” Here, there were a bit more charming, with Keener in particular demonstrating a vulnerability and softness that doesn’t often come with the characters she plays. The title is a misnomer since Keener’s character hardly had to pry anything out of Patel’s eager dreamer before he started telling her the whole story, and I liked that he seemed just as genuinely interested in hearing about her missed opportunity even though she was the one interviewing him. Let’s see how episode three is.

What I’m Watching: The Politician

The Politician: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Voter” (B+)

I was surprised to learn that this episode was only 28 minutes long, which is an interesting feature of some Netflix shows – “Mindhunter” did it in its first season also. I guess if the content of a particular story only runs a certain amount of time, why drag it out unnecessarily just to fill forty minutes or an hour? In this case, this was an entertaining opportunity to explore how one completely uninvested student experienced the election, bombarded by campaign analysts and the candidates appealing directly to him when all he wanted to do was play video games and masturbate constantly. This episode really highlighted the absurdity of the high school election, with promises made like a pledge to bring Drake to perform at the prom, all costs covered by a student fundraiser. Skye being allowed to trash Astrid repeatedly on stage felt excessive, though that’s the least of the unbelievable things presented on this show. I’m glad that Infinity didn’t just disappear, showing back up to rail against both candidates with a megaphone and no one really listening to her. Elliot being profiled as an undecided voter just pissed him off as he was continuously berated from all sides, and punching James and pushing Kris were sudden but predictable expressions of his frustration with not being left alone. Payton, to his credit, did seem sincere in trying to convince Elliot that he was actually listening to him, but it didn’t pay off since the unengaged swing voter decided not to even cast a vote after all.

What I’m Watching: Undone

Undone: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Wedding” (B+)

Naturally, Alma would choose the day of her sister’s wedding to investigate a lead that wasn’t going to pan out and which took her into a suspicious person of interest’s hotel room, making her late for the photo session. Showing up after everyone was looking for her and spilling the beans – loudly – about how Becca slept with the bartender was a truly regrettable moment, and in truly fascinating fashion, Alma was able to undo it, to go back and say exactly what she should have said, just like she did when she kept waking up in the hospital. Jacob trying to get her to go back before the wedding seemed like a bad idea, though his encouragement makes more sense when his worldview came into his focus, which is that it won’t matter if she misses the wedding since she’ll come back and he’ll be there as if he’s never not been there. Telling her to enjoy and it will be his own burden to figure it out after she gave Becca an effective heart-to-heart seemed to indicate that things would settle down for a bit, though that’s not likely given that the next episode is the season finale. Realizing that she’s always been doing the dance was a mesmerizing way to transition into her final big leap into the mirror to face her own past and figure out a way to change the present. I don’t want to do any research into if this show has been renewed for a second season yet since I don’t want to risk spoiling anything that happens in what I’m sure will be an intense and invigorating finale.

Friday, October 25, 2019

What I’m Watching: Unbelievable (Penultimate Episode)

Unbelievable: Season 1, Episode 7 (B+)

I really didn’t know how it was that Marie was going to be validated and convinced that what she experienced did indeed happen, and this episode masterfully confirmed it both for her and for the important authorities with two smartly edited scenes. I hadn’t thought about how the rapist took photos of each of his victims and would have surely saved those, and, to his own detriment, also photographed the licenses of the victims so that he knew who they were and would be able to find them if they ever went to the police to talk about what happened. Presenting that incredible breakthrough of an unknown additional victim at the same time as Marie was finally being acknowledged by the warm therapist played by Brooke Smith was extremely effective, and I’m sure she’ll be surprised to hear from the police department. I’d hope that the detectives who demeaned her and convinced her that she was lying will at least be confronted about what they did, though that’s likely not going to happen. Grace and Karen playing gin which Karen distracted her opponent with a story was a nice moment, and Karen got the full glory of the arrest with Taggart there to support her since Grace apparently doesn’t do that part of it. Curtis seemed genuinely shocked about what his brother did, but Chris doesn’t seem to be denying much, and the evidence speaks for itself. I’m very intrigued to see how this all wraps up in the finale.

Pilot Review: Daybreak

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: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 5 “Storybook Love” (B+)

This episode wasn’t quite as fantastic as the one before it, but this show is onto something this season. It was fun to see the ill-fated dinner party hosted by Rebecca at her new home, with a good deal of humor to be found from all participants. Beth went over very well, especially in comparison to the rest of the guests. I loved Kate’s reaction to Miguel bringing his sleeping bag and how Mark asked him who he was again when the non-Pearsons were sitting at the table listening to the family members shout at each other in the other room. I couldn’t figure out where I recognized Kate’s new boyfriend from, and I now know that it’s because Austin Abrams also played the impossibly nice Ethan on “Euphoria.” We know that it doesn’t work out well for Kate, but hopefully whatever breakup is coming won’t be too crushing. Kevin and Sophie really were obnoxious, and it’s good to see Kevin growing up in the present as he starts to realize that there’s more to Cassidy’s impending divorce than he realized. Bonding with Nicky over the cake was a sweet moment too. Tess’ panic attack seems to have also triggered a thinly-stretched Randall, and Beth’s story about William passing that trait down wasn’t enough to compel Randall to address the issue before it becomes a severe problem again. Randall having the family piano delivered to Kate and Toby was a wonderful grand gesture, and it obviously has a big effect on young Jack given what he know his future holds.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 6, Episode 3 “Dead Man Running” (B)

There was a lot going on in this episode, with each set of characters dealing with distinctly different problems. Barry telling the team that he has to vanish (and then die) in the crisis in order for the universe to survive definitely put a damper on things, and Frost took it worst of all. It was sweet to see how the two of them bonded with his attempts to prevent her from going too far with violence all the time and then putting on the birthday party she had always wanted. We saw Ramsey in a more intimate way than I had expected, working directly with Barry without any idea that he’s the Flash and expressing a different worldview from him regarding losing mothers and cowardice. The undead Romero was a force to be reckoned with, and it seems like that’s just the beginning of what Ramsey is going to try to do now that he knows what could be possible. The arrival of a new Harrison Wells marks the welcome return of actor Tom Cavanagh, who really wasn’t gone for long, and it seems that he’s singularly set on finding this Eternium which presumably has something to do with the impending crisis. Cecile working with Ralph and his mother to try to clear her name was a fun subplot even if it was far from serious, but that’s usually what we get with Ralph, who has really grown into himself and his role on the show since his first far more irritating appearance.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Pilot Review: Catherine the Great

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: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 3 “403 Forbidden” (B)

I guess the big reveal from the end of last week’s episode about there being a third personality living inside Elliot will be revisited at some point in the future, with Whiterose’s mysterious identity instead being explored. Flashing back to a love story set in 1982 with an old-fashioned USA Network commercial felt like a real trip, with a sweet romance cut short by societal pressure and a suicide. Whiterose has some interesting plans which don’t seem to be supported by her top lieutenant, and that makes Elliot even more vulnerable. Running into Krista on the street was unexpected, and his eagerness to let her know that he was making progress and talking to Mr. Robot didn’t matter much because of how scared of him she was. She wasn’t the only familiar face we saw in this hour, and she’s likely to be drawn back in to something of which she wants no part. Darlene refusing to be bossed around by Elliot and identifying that it was him rather than Mr. Robot threatening her shows how strained their relationship has become as they’re working more closely together than ever. It was mesmerizing to see Mr. Robot step in and start flirting with Olivia when Elliot’s approach failed, and then to see how Elliot was actually connecting with her even while he was just using her. I feel like we never see Tyrell anymore, and when we do, it’s a harbinger of bad things to come, for him more than anyone.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 3 “Blurred Lines” (B-)

I’ll start with one thing that I’m appreciating about this show at the moment, which is that many different characters who wouldn’t have otherwise interacted in the past are getting the opportunity to do so. Nia and Kelly working with Hank are just two of the examples, and I like that this show is committed to shifting roles around. That said, there’s a bit too much going on at the moment, with Lena, this spider woman, whoever killed her, and Ma’alefa’ak all serving as active threats, not to mention whatever both William and Andrea are up to at what used to be a journalistic institution of some repute. At the same time, Nia is having trouble putting up with Brainy, who made a fair point that he’s only wired to give one hundred percent and can’t actually turn that off even if he tried. I was surprised to see Sean Astin, recently a member of the cast of “Stranger Things” in addition to other cult roles before that, as Pete, the friend of Kelly’s that Ma’alefa’ak shapeshifted into in order to incept her. His delivery of “My inception power, it worked!” felt rather cartoonish, and I doubt we’ll see him in that form again now that only Kelly can identify who he is given their brief brain bonding. Hank discovering that he was the one who erased his father’s memory is going to haunt him for a while, and hopefully that knowledge will help him in burying the hatchet even if his brother isn’t willing to negotiate. Kara bringing Lena lunch from Paris was one thing, but now she’s playing right into Lena’s nefarious plans, and Alex’s counsel didn’t seem to convince her that it was a dangerous move. I have no idea what plotlines will continue in next week’s episode since this show is offering quite the menu of options.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Affair

The Affair: Season 5, Episode 9 (B)

On the plane, Whitney accused Audrey of using her father to represent everything that men have done wrong to women, and it’s interesting that this show is doing the opposite, using Noah to show what men are capable of and how even he (and Helen) can’t recognize what he’s done and how he operates in the world. The story couldn’t have possibly come out any worse for Noah, who, as usual, responded with nothing but anger and denial, unable to acknowledge his own role in hurting other people, even if he believes he’s become better since that time. Whitney confronting Andrea on the plane was an intense and direct move, one which showed how well Whitney can mirror her father’s demeaning tone in how she talks to people, before Audrey turned it all on her and opened her mind to the possibility that her father might in fact be completely guilty as charged. Helen seemed more furious at Sasha than anything, and that’s understandable given how he helped the dots get connected in a completely self-serving way to discredit Noah and earn sole writing accolades for a story that was never his in the first place. Helen should be able to see Sasha for how similar to Noah he is in some respects and to appreciate that at least Noah doesn’t believe that he’s entitled to everything the way that Sasha does. With just two episodes left, it still looks like no one will get a happy ending, and I’m curious if we’ll see the fates of anyone besides Joanie and Luisa.

Pilot Review: Watchmen

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: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 4 “All Those Yesterdays” (B-)

In some ways, this episode wasn’t so far-fetched, but there’s also a crazy degree of monitoring and interference by our friends that was just glossed over as it tends to be. For once, Miles thought that it wasn’t appropriate to say something at a given moment, though it wasn’t actually his decision to make since Joy should have chosen whether or not she wanted to share her own information. It’s a small world indeed as the daughter that Joy never met is on the same soccer team as Cara’s younger sister, providing plenty of family drama as Cara is looking for a new place to live and Joy’s daughter was desperate for answers about her heritage. Ultimately, what Joy chose to do by telling her daughter about her own grandfather in a way that didn’t reveal her own connection to her was sweet and noble, and it appears that her adoptive mother realized the relationship even if she didn’t want to verbally acknowledge it. I’m surprised to see Joy leave so soon after she’s finally gotten on board with all this, and now the team is just excited for a new friend suggestion since they completely missed their chance to meet this mystery artist who can’t be reached and has no plans to ever return to New York, which itself seems highly unlikely. Arthur opting to do a trial run of a job he’ll surely love after Trish told him she wasn’t okay with it is a bad idea, and it’s going to create some serious problems in the run-up to their wedding.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Take Three: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 3 “Down, Down, Down” (B-)

This show is managing to hold my interest slightly while not showing too many signs of substantial improvement. What’s most worthwhile is discovering which characters know what information, since only Kate seems to have the full grasp of everything while anyone else in her orbit is missing key pieces. Alice, who showed up to save her from a man that knew Bruce Wayne was Batman, knows that she’s Batwoman, but not Batman’s secret identity. Sophie really should know that Batwoman is Kate, a suspicion she voiced early on, and her never mentioning Kate before her husband had the chance to meet her has now made it clear to him that there was something worth hiding about that relationship. And Jacob truly knows nothing, with even his wife keeping secrets from him. I do like that Alice and Kate have formed this tentative relationship, one that finds them both constantly breaking promises they’ve made to each other and operating separate from the law in Gotham. Debuting Batwoman with the red wig was an important moment, one that will redefine what Gotham needs, and Kate seems up to the challenge, provided that the two women she cares most about in her life – her ex and her sister – doesn’t screw it all up for her. She should lean more on Mary, who has more than a few tricks up her sleeve that her new bodyguard doesn’t have the first clue exist. Let’s hope that if her assignment becomes permanent, she’s open to working outside of the lines too.

What I’m Watching: The Politician

The Politician: Season 1, Episode 4 “Gone Girl” (B+)

I keep coming back to the music on this show as an incredible driving force of its storylines, though I have to give credit to the exceptional casting as well. I didn’t mention the terrific selection of January Jones of “Mad Men” fame as Astrid’s mother in the last episode, and here she got to express anger at her husband and disapproval at her daughter for thinking that she could change who she was. Running away with the hapless Ricardo to enjoy New York was less sinister than what appeared to have happened, and only on this show and in this universe could she return to more favorable polls and then have the vice-presidential candidate who had held a vigil decrying her likely death try to switch to the other campaign on the day before the election. Skye’s romance with McAfee makes everything all the more complicated, but that should hardly come as a surprise on this show. After Payton got smuggled out of the police station in a trunk, Ben Platt showed why he’s the perfect person for the role when he reacted so intensely to everything Infinity said to him in the church in response to him firing her and lobbing the accusation that her grandmother was making her sick. We’re halfway through the season at this point, and I don’t feel like I have any idea what’s going to happen next. That’s a good thing, since this show is so completely watchable and wildly creative in the best way.

What I’m Watching: Undone

Undone: Season 1, Episode 6 “Prayers and Visions” (B+)

It seems I underestimated Sam. I thought that he wasn’t a good person because he lied to Alma about her having broken up with him, but now that she’s shared with him the very incredible information about her relationship with her dead father, I would have expected him to do something to try to bring her back to what he believes is reality. Instead, he’s being transparent about the fact that he can’t actually understand what she’s going through but wants to do whatever he can to support her. I like seeing the interactions between them, namely Alma arguing that tons of people find her charming and her lack of enthusiasm as compared to his extreme excitement at the notion of going to a food tasting with Becca and Camila. It doesn’t appear that Alma is staying grounded much anymore, nearly repeating a poorly-received introduction to Darrold, and I’m not sure if we should be worried that we didn’t see Jacob at all in this episode. Camila seemed very thrown off by the fact that Reed’s mother wasn’t letting her pay for anything at the wedding, and it was good that Alma showed up when Becca ditched her for the other church. That situation quickly turned sour when Father Miguel tried to reason with Alma about the medication, prompting Camila to find herself unsupported by the man she thought would be an ally in her fight to ensure Alma’s mental health, at least according to the way she sees it.

Monday, October 21, 2019

What I’m Watching: Unbelievable

Unbelievable: Season 1, Episode 6 (B+)

The tone of this episode shifted considerably since we’re no longer hearing stories of what happened but instead now looking very definitively at suspects who both appear to be guilty and also represent a great threat because of their clear preparedness in executing their crimes. Grace gave it a shot early in the episode by going after one cop to get his DNA, but he was onto her immediately, going to the lengths of spitting in her face to express his disdain at her even trying to look into him. Elias was the hero of the hour when he came forward with the information he found, and I like that he insisted that they not cut him off since he had found much more than just a small and inconclusive teaser. It’s good to see Grace and Karen getting closer and appreciating each other’s methodology and worldview, even if most of that comes from Grace mocking Karen’s religious beliefs. I neglected to note the casting of Annaleigh Ashford in last week’s episode, and the “Masters of Sex” alumna made a formidable impression in the first scene when Lilly marched into the police station brandishing a knife, not thinking that they wouldn’t realize it was evidence. I also recognized Aaron Staton from “Mad Men” and “Narcos: Mexico” as the suspect whose coffee cup Karen rushed to confiscate after he got up from the table. Marie has admitted to lying in a court now, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope left for her since her confession is now very officially on the record.

Pilot Review: Living with Yourself

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.

Pilot Review: Looking for Alaska

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Pilot Review: Modern Love

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: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 4 “Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy” (B+)

It’s easy to forget that there are still nefarious forces at work, and that dealing with the obnoxiousness that is Brent and John isn’t all that our friends need to worry about with the bad place in the mix. Glenn’s arrival created plenty of confusion, and even though it appears that Michael was indeed the Michael we know the whole time and not just Vicky in a Michael suit, his behavior and omission of certain key events was indeed suspicious. Opening with Chidi being predictably bad at Pictionary led to a demonic horse nearly killing them all, prompting a naturally unhelpful and overconfident Brent boasting that he could kill it. We didn’t see Brent and John again in the episode, but Glenn did cause discord as Eleanor smartly decided that she couldn’t trust either him or Michael until she had all the information. Despite his very insightful observation that Glenn couldn’t be a devil because he wasn’t wearing Prada and his constant “that’s what you what us to think” comments, Jason was the hero of the episode when he deduced that Janet was actually Bad Janet because she didn’t correct him when he called her “girl.” That was a cool moment, especially since I thought that Michael was Vicki and that he was just bluffing so that they wouldn’t force him to make the ultimate sacrifice. I liked the sight of a well-groomed Jason and Michael heading off on the train tracks to the bad place to rescue the real Janet, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill (Season Finale)

Why Women Kill: Season 1, Episode 10 “Kill Me as if It Were the Last Time” (B+)

Well, this was quite the finale. Showing the characters together in the same house from different time periods was a real head trip, one that worked well to capture the chaos of the moments of violence occurring for all of the couples. Opening with each of them looking at the house to buy it and then closing with them handing the keys off to the next owners was clever, and it was a cool opportunity to get to see the older versions of Beth Ann and Simone as they met with the successive couples. I’m pleased that the deaths didn’t occur as we had expected them to, and all three situations were relatively satisfying. The least creative was in the present, where Jade stabbed Eli but he didn’t die, and Taylor stabbed Jade so that it officially counted as a woman killing. I like that they came back from what they experienced, which actually made sense since their arrangement was mostly agreed-upon ahead of time even if it got a bit out of control. Simone helping Karl to achieve a peaceful death at the time of his choosing after dancing with him was sweet, and I like the idea that Tommy ended up as a great artist who may not have encountered Simone again in his very successful life. It was decidedly creepier to think about Simone and Tommy’s affair when we saw tiny Tommy tell Simone she was pretty when he first met her as a child. April showing up when Ralph was supposed to bang down the door seemed like it was going to mess up Beth Ann and Mary’s carefully-orchestrated plan, but, fortunately, it played out almost exactly as it should have. The smile on Beth Ann’s face when Rob looked at her, realizing that she had tricked him into thinking the gun was loaded, was perfect, an effective instance of revenge after she gave him one last chance to come clean about his many lies. This show has been very involving, and I feel like I really got to become invested in the characters and their drama. The very quick fourth death was, I’d say, more of a joke than anything else, and in season two I presume we’ll meet all new characters. This show was finally renewed for a second season just one day before this finale premiered, which is a relief given the strong potential here. I’m hopeful that a new storyline will help keep it fresh and that this show will continue to offer very watchable material for many seasons to come.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Ginnifer Goodwin as Beth Ann and Lucy Liu as Simone

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Take Three: Almost Family

Almost Family: Season 1, Episode 3 “Notorious AF” (C)

As this show continues, its three main characters seem to become more firmly rooted in the chaos of their respective lives. Julia was the one who really took a hit in this hour as she became the subject of a hugely popular meme that mocked her for sleeping with her brother, and she didn’t respond in the most proactive way, causing further embarrassment for herself and taking on the role of social pariah. Isaac’s idea to have her and her brother boyfriend record a video to own what happened and reframe it was brilliant, but of course we know it actually came from her father, whose influence in all three daughters’ lives has become problematic. Edie was not happy to learn that Leon was responsible for funding her education when she thought she had earned a merit scholarship, and that’s going to make defending him even more difficult, not that it’s been easy since she can’t stop making out with opposing counsel. Roxy is proving to be someone who sees something she wants and then goes for it, without much attention paid to what others need or expect from her. In the case of pursuing Isaac by tracking him down on his daily run, there isn’t much risk for adverse consequences, but messing up a contracted gig so that she could mentor the nanny’s daughter is going to have disastrous effects given what her parents have decided to do in response. Diane obviously loves her other child more than Roxy, and I doubt she and Ron will care much how their testimony affects the daughter who no longer wants anything to do with them.

Pilot Review: Treadstone

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: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 4 “Flip a Coin” (B+)

I’m very pleased to report that this show is better than it’s been in a long time right now. I’d also cite Justin Hartley, who is now the only original Pearson never to be nominated for an Emmy, as the MVP this season, doing great work comically and dramatically. I wasn’t sure how Cassidy was going to fit in when she was first introduced, and in this hour we got to see how Kevin was able to help keep both Cassidy and Nicky entertained and occupied for the day when their meeting turned out to be a lot later than advertised. Kevin seems set on helping Cassidy save her marriage, but I think they’re destined for their own romantic relationship. It’s very compelling watching Kate and Toby as concerned, dedicated parents, and their trip to the beach was sweet. What impressed me most about this episode was how it used the different time periods to tackle parents meeting their children’s significant others, starting with Randall not making a great impression on his future mother-in-law and then demonstrating how Malik was doing great despite Randall’s dorky awkwardness until he mentioned that he had a daughter. The fallout from Randall and Beth’s insistence that Deja not date him will surely be unpleasant, but for now it’s worth celebrating the victory achieved by Beth and her family in salvaging the dance studio opening, which did go great once they relocated it outside. I’d also imagine that Phylicia Rashad is on her way to a deserved second consecutive Emmy nomination for playing Carol in both time periods in this hour.

Friday, October 18, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 6, Episode 2 “A Flash of the Lightning” (B+)

Framing Barry going into the future to see this crisis for himself as akin to getting a second opinion from a doctor is quite the interesting approach, and I don’t think he considered the side effects. After he got injured on his first attempt, it didn’t take much effort to head over to Earth-3 and get an assist from Jay Garrick, who happened to be married to a woman that looked just like Barry’s mother, something she definitely didn’t know when she first met him or Iris. What he experienced does not look good, and though I imagine it’s unlikely that he’ll really die, that’s how it’s looking at the moment. Things weren’t going too well for our friends back home as Ralph got a pretty intense sunburn on his face courtesy of an undead meta who chose the Central City Police Department, a frequently-besieged location, as the target for her assault. Cecile deciding that she wants to become a defense attorney for metas is a productive development, one that’s going to allow her to interact and overlap with the cases that Team Flash investigates. Killer Frost taking over control of Caitlin’s life isn’t going all too smoothly, but at least it was just hurt feelings and some guilty art purchases rather than something truly destructive. Dr. Rosso’s abilities are evolving, as are his experiments, and Team Flash doesn’t have any idea of what they’re truly going to be up against once he can’t contain what he’s working on or his own instincts.

What I’m Watching: The Conners

The Conners: Season 2, Episode 4 “Lanford…Lanford” (B)

I should have guessed that Darlene’s double-dipping would end this way, with her trying to break up with David only to have him beat her to it and then Ben do the same thing as soon as she went to finally come clean with him. It was fun while it lasted, and the shock with which she responded when David preempted her at therapy was indeed entertaining. Sara Gilbert definitely deserves the most credit for her performance on this show, constantly on and delivering each and every line in a way that really lands. Investigating Harris’ costume hidden under two layers of decoy clothing was smart, and it’s a good thing that she’ll no longer have to deal with being blackmailed by her daughter so that she can get back to being able to parent with some degree of authority. Darlene isn’t the smartest texter, drafting a very long message to each of her boyfriends and trying to get that out with limited service rather than just a short note for help. I enjoyed Jackie’s commentary on the whole thing, showing up after David, Ben, and Dan all came to help fix Darlene’s tire and then chanting excitedly for Team Ben when they were analyzing the situation back home. Becky pouring out all of Dan’s beer could have been milked for lazier laughs, but instead it appears that they’re just finding ways to get along in close quarters when neither of them are in particularly great shape at the moment.

What I’m Watching: The Righteous Gemstones (Season Finale)

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 1, Episode 9 “Better is the End of a Thing Than Its Beginning” (B+)

This show certainly knows what it is and what it wants to be, and I can’t say that about every series I watch. I’ll point to Judy’s rather horrifying story about her past and how it was presented in a sentimental tone as the best example, as well as BJ’s response to her final comment that I won’t repeat again here. Eli firing all of his children after finding out that they lied to him about what Jesse did and that they were being blackmailed felt like the breaking up of a dynasty, though that wasn’t destined to last. They’ve always been united in a certain way, starting from the annoying bee flying around right after Aimee Leigh’s death, and that doesn’t necessarily extend to the most spiteful member of the family, Baby Billy. I knew right as soon as the clouds started forming that he was going to get struck by lightning, and it seems that he’s now profiting off his alleged divine interaction by selling drawings of his incredible experience to anyone willing to pay the pretty steep price. I won’t mention much about Kelvin rescuing Keefe from the devil cult since that was the least involving plotline, but at least everyone made it back together by episode’s end. Eli offering Johnny Seasons a job was a nice and noble step, and it’s possible that some of these Gemstones are indeed righteous. I was waiting for Gideon to tell his father that he was shoveling the wrong direction, but even Jesse might be able to change while working selflessly in Haiti. I don’t know what season two holds, but this has been one hell of a ride and I’m happy to return for more.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Danny McBride as Jesse

Thursday, October 17, 2019

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 2 “402 Payment Required” (B+)

It’s simply stunning how this show manages to rewrite history by inserting Whiterose and Ecorp into it, having them be behind everything as world leaders and the internet conspire to rob everyday citizens of any element of privacy. That’s one of the reasons the pilot was so terrific, and this opening felt a lot like that. It’s fascinating to me how characters shift sides, with Angela first and now Philip coming over to be one of the good guys, as much as he can be. The fact that Susan Jacobs was his only contact is bad news, but Elliot may still be able to find a way to salvage that now that he knows what Darlene did. It’s interesting to watch the two siblings as they opt not to mourn their late mother but instead focus on the loss of someone they valued much more, Angela. Mr. Robot was trying to push Elliot to take a moment to deal with his mother’s death, but that not the issue that Elliot needs to address. Mr. Robot was insistent that he wasn’t keeping information he knew from Elliot, and now there’s a third personality buried somewhere within his mind which in all likelihood isn’t on the same side of things, and, by the looks of it, may well be much more in charge. I was shocked that Dom told the FBI agent questioning her that Santiago was a double agent, which made more sense when she pinned it on a drug cartel. As if she’s not isolated and miserable enough, Dom now knows that she holds the lives of others in her control, and asserting 99.9% certainty was enough to get someone killed instantly. Let’s hope she reaches back out to Darlene and somehow helps them take down this seemingly omniscient Dark Army.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 2 “Stranger Beside Me” (B+)

This show is getting personal, investing in its relationships and the way that they play out when it comes to saving the world. Opening with Alex making blueberry pancakes for her deathly allergic girlfriend Kelly and Brainy preparing a perfect breakfast for Nia led to more serious conversations throughout the episode, with the former proving more intense as Kelly’s form was taken on by an alien with nefarious intentions who got Alex pretty shaken up when she had to decide which one of them to shoot. Fortunately, the team seems more than ready for this battle, with Kelly herself taking on a much more prominent role in helping Hank to rebuild his mind and recover the memories of betrayal by his brother that were wiped from his mind. Brainy overwhelming Nia with food was far more comical, and, honestly, their relationship is the best training Brainy could possibly get on the human mind. As is usually the case for superheroes, day jobs and cover identities are proving to be a distraction, and Andrea giving Kara stupid assignments is blinding her from seeing her far more dangerous side work. William will likely soon discover that Kara is Supergirl soon, and something tells me that’s going to come out in a way she won’t like. Lena’s aspirations are indeed intense, and using Eve to ensure that humans will do no harm is sure to be deeply interesting and frightening. And we’ll soon have a return to politics in the form of James the senatorial candidate!

What I’m Watching: The Affair

The Affair: Season 5, Episode 8 (B-)

With just three hours left in this show’s run, I’m continuing to doubt the point. Is it that, so many years after ruining his relationship with Helen, Noah is going to return to build a life with her again. It’s easy to feel sympathetic for Noah after watching the horrific Sasha act like a spoiled, bratty child who just wanted all the attention to be on him when it was Helen’s birthday. Recognizing Sierra’s mother when she showed up showed even more what kind of person he was, and Helen would be smart to be rid of him since he’s hardly what she needs at this point in her life. Noah showing up with the perfect gesture at the end of her perspective was the only saving grace, demonstrating how he was there for her in exactly the way that she needed without even knowing it. His life is imploding for many reasons, namely his promiscuous past and the fact that he responds to every allegation of wrongdoing by snapping that it couldn’t possibly have happened. We saw a few familiar faces from “The West Wing” in the form of Janel Moloney’s Ariel and Richard Schiff’s Jon, in addition to Tracie Thoms’ Joyce and Stephen Kunken’s Harry, and all seemed to agree that Noah was never doing the right thing when it came to dealing with what he had done. Confronting Eden was never going to work, and shrinking back into obscurity (or, as the show’s opening theme would suggest, sinking back into the ocean) would probably be his best bet since nothing good is likely to come in the near – or far – future.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What I’m Watching: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 3 “From Paris with Love” (B-)

This show is pretty much all about suspension of disbelief, and that’s mostly supposed to relate to the God account and whether it’s actually an act of divine intervention or just someone working with technology to achieve the seemingly impossible. Yet it also has to do with the funds possible to cover all of this, which allow those working with full-time jobs to leave them all the time to be able to pursue friend suggestions and other clues, and for Miles to jet across the ocean to Paris to check something out before deciding to come home shortly afterward with Cara in tow. Sure, Simon and his bank account do help to offset the lack of logic, but it still has me scratching my head. I also had expected that Sarah might eventually suggest that she wouldn’t try to enforce the ticket she had given to Joy, though I’d say she deserved it for her horrifically impolite response to seeing the officer ticket her car for a legitimate reason. Helping Sarah to feel less burdened by the weight of a decision she had to make and getting Zeke to be able to play Rakesh’s game was sweet, about on par with this show’s usual sentimentality and frequent attempts at heartwarming storylines. At least Miles and Cara were honest with each other and seem to be okay with where they stand at the moment, though returning to New York together could make that more difficult. Simon and Annie are indeed an unlikely professional couple, and something tells me a romance is just around the corner.

Round Two: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Rabbit Hole” (B-)

I’m trying hard to like this show, not only because I wish I still watched “Arrow” whenever there are multi-show crossovers, but also because I think it has potential. It’s intriguing to me just how dark and gloomy this series is, similar to “Gotham,” representing a grimmer imagining of the universe in which Batman exists. What’s not working so well for me here is how insular the world is, with Kate sure that Alice is actually Beth, and wasting precious little time in sharing that suspicion with just about everyone in her immediate network. It seems like she probably should have done a bit more work trying to prove her theory before telling her father, who definitely likes to shoot first and ask questions later. Sophie isn’t quite the ally she might have initially seemed, sharing where Alice was with Jacob when Kate explicitly didn’t want her to, and I imagine it will take a while for Sophie and Kate to eventually rekindle their romance. Sophie also immediately suspected that Kate was the one wearing the Batwoman suit, and Alice deduced it right away too. “Waffles” was hardly the ultra-secretive code that couldn’t be cracked that Kate thought it was, and surely didn’t represent the confirmation that Kate needed that Alice was indeed her long-lost and presumed-dead sister. I’m still waiting to see what this show can really offer beyond just this insular family drama and whether it will be worth watching all on its own on a weekly basis.

Take Three: The Politician

The Politician: Season 1, Episode 3 “October Surprise” (B+)

This episode didn’t start with presidential trivia as I had expected it might, but it did include a formidable and memorable scene in which Payton referenced his future presidency and used it to convince the Harvard admissions guys that they had better let him in on his own merits so that they wouldn’t miss out on his brilliance. It’s fascinating to see Payton operate on his own, since he works a certain way when he knows he has an audience but is truly a force to be reckoned with when he’s powered by his own confidence and his belief in what he’s saying. I also enjoyed when he went over to Infinity’s house to yell at her and shouted down Dusty, telling her that he didn’t have the patience to deal with her. I hadn’t recognized Ben Platt’s “Dear Evan Hansen” costar Laura Dreyfuss as McAfee, and now I see it every time she appears on screen. It’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing duplicity here, though I like that characters like Payton’s hapless brothers do keep reappearing. James is proving to be a crucial asset, though the assistance he gave to Astrid turned out to be the opposite of helpful. Ricardo sending in that video seems to have truly turned the tide, and he wasn’t happy at all with the fact that it also meant that Infinity doesn’t want to talk to him anymore. The ending of the episode was rather dark, with Dylan McDermott’s father running upstairs to find a major mess and his daughter missing, and it’s hard to know what could possibly come next.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What I’m Watching: Undone

Undone: Season 1, Episode 5 “Alone in This (You Have Me)” (B+)

It’s always gratifying when an episode picks up exactly where the one before it left off, with Alma slicing her finger and her father expressing excitement that she was able to change how things happened. It’s truly disorienting to experience time and space as Alma is currently doing, with Sam’s head showing up in the middle of wherever she was with her father to interrupt their conversation so that she could get back to reality. His response to her confronting him about not telling her that she broke up with him was hardly worthy of commendation, since he was essentially blaming her for not being strong enough to deal with news about a decision that she herself had made. He also implicated her sister in the deception, which reinforces the notion that he must be the living person she can trust most since her sister probably should have told her what she knew had happened. Alma got to explore a lot of her father’s life and some of her early moments in this episode, and the early stages of her implant are particularly compelling to watch, and to hear since they mirror Alma’s experience interacting with the world, initially in a soundless manner and then gradually understanding what sounds mean. Confiding in Sam about what she’s been doing with her dead father was likely a mistake, especially considering his previous communication with Tunde behind her back. Jacob knew it was a bad idea, and hopefully being perceived as crazy won’t cut off her bond with him.

What I’m Watching: Unbelievable

Unbelievable: Season 1, Episode 5 (B+)

Even with such a dark subject matter, this show manages to find plenty of moments for humor, especially when it comes to its two lead actresses. Grace’s excitement at getting Karen to curse was funny, as was the highly mature use of the nose game to determine that Karen would be the one traveling to Kansas to pursue the latest lead. The revelation of the law enforcement angle played itself out in an uncomfortable way, with Grace jumping down Taggart’s throat when he dared to act surprised with this new angle and Grace’s fury at him for not having previously considered it. There are so many different clues and pieces of this, and it’s incredibly infuriating to hear Detective Parker continue to deny the legitimacy of Marie’s claims, even after receiving a phone call from a dubious colleague who said the similarities between the two cases were very strong. Marie is continuing to spiral downwards, and quitting her job is just the last straw, and I’m worried that the moderate amount of justice that she receives will come after she loses everything, if she’s even alive at that point. Karen is ready to go to Kansas at the drop of a hat to look into a new lead, and Grace is experiencing problems in her own relationship because she believes that getting closer to answers in her case is of paramount importance, the rules be damned. Let’s hope that can lead them to Marie sooner rather than later since she’s at her wit’s end and her testimony might be crucial to catching this perpetrator.

What I’m Watching: El Camino

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (B-)

Aside from a recently-concluded epic HBO fantasy series, it’s hard to find a show quite as beloved as “Breaking Bad.” While “Better Call Saul” has been an immensely worthwhile show in its own right, it doesn’t fill the same niche that the original series did. The idea to have a TV movie that brings back one of the most popular characters makes a lot of sense, if only for the viewership numbers that Netflix is sure to get as a result. That said, it’s hardly necessary, and I don’t think much is gleaned from it. Aaron Paul was always great, though I do think he ended up taking a few trophies that should have gone instead to the likes of Giancarlo Esposito, and maybe even Jonathan Banks or Dean Norris. Because of the state in which we found Jesse in the series finale, he didn’t really come alive throughout this movie until he got the cops called on him and had to spring into action to take cover while he thought he was calling Ed’s bluff. It was admittedly fun to see some of the old characters, like Saul, and Walt, and Krysten Ritter’s Jane. I’d argue that the strongest performances in this movie came from Jesse Plemons as Todd, believing deep down that he was treating Jesse kindly when he was keeping him captive, and the late Robert Forster, who died the day this was released, reprising his role from the penultimate episode. I also recognized Larry Hankin, who I know best as Mr. Heckles from “Friends,” as Old Joe, and Scott MacArthur as Neil, a character who bore some resemblance to the part he plays on “The Righteous Gemstones.” This felt like an extension of the show because so much of it featured emotional and nostalgic returns to what he lost, ultimately revealing that, besides those two friends he saw near the start, he doesn’t have anyone in his life anymore after all he’s endured (and done to himself, in part). This was a fine and moderately engaging return to that world, but there’s no real reason that it needed to be made.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Take Three: Carol’s Second Act

Carol’s Second Act: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Zebra” (C)

Color me unimpressed and officially ready to move on from this show. It’s a wonder that this show lasted two full episodes before getting to the idea of the zebra, a patient with an unknown diagnosis that each of the interns wanted to have the honor of assisting. Raise your hand if you knew that Carol would be the one to determine that it was actually her patient, the one who seemed to be in the hospital with nothing other than normal symptoms, who was the zebra. This show follows a very traditional and predictable sitcom setup, and it’s getting tiresome. Daniel is arrogant and it always ends up being detrimental for him, like in this case where he had to try to find the perfect blueberry muffin for Dr. Jacobs to replace the one he accidentally ate. Caleb is an idiot, but that won’t stop Dr. Frost from acknowledging him first at every turn and allowing their lifelong relationship to turn into clear favoritism. Lexie will be subverted by that favoritism and manage to guilt him into giving her some credit and opportunity, but not enough for Dr. Frost to truly recognize her existence. And Carol is going to be peppy as ever, unflappable until she realizes that her friends aren’t actually looking out for her best interests. It’s a lot to take, and there isn’t enough in the way of funny lines or substantial scenarios to make this show worth watching. If Patricia Heaton earns an Emmy nomination, I might check back into it for an episode or two, but I’m good otherwise.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 3 “Chillaxing” (B+)

I’ve never doubted this show before, and even though it seems like our friends aren’t anywhere near the goal of reforming all of their charges, it’s sure to work itself out in its own unique way by the end of the season (and series). The realization that Chidi wasn’t delivering because he wasn’t being tortured and therefore felt no guilt to be a better person was helpful, and I love that Jason was able to contribute in exactly the way he could: by being himself. Michael attempting to turn his eagerness to open a peanut butter jar into a metaphor had me cracking up, getting me closer to my season one affinity for Jason as my favorite character. The exploding motorcycle and the extremely helpful ants were humorous subplots related to the Chidi antics. I like that Tahani is taking on a more prominent role as she tries to get John to realize that there’s more to life – and the afterlife – than just being vain and obsessed with fancy things, and she now seems to think that she’s finally getting somewhere with him after some lackluster initial efforts. Janet dying her hair because it’s one of the ways that she read people cope with breakups is an entertaining development, and it’s good to see every member of this team contributing. Eleanor has become a much better person, but she’s still skilled at making her ex-boyfriends’ lives miserable. That grim reaper on the train doesn’t feel like a good sign, and I can only hope that it’s another illegal visitor from the Bad Place.