Friday, November 22, 2019

What I’m Watching: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 8 “The Last Grenelle” (C+)

It’s not at all surprising to me that there was someone else before Miles who used to get friend suggestions from the God account. It also tracks that said person would have concluded that he had to make a choice between following it and his life, and that he wouldn’t be eager to be drawn back into it by the typically invasive Miles. It was odd that both Miles and Cara whined about how everyone they meet always tells them to leave at a certain point since they never listen to them, and all that Miles had to argue about in this case was that Gideon was certain that the God account was actually God, not just someone behind a computer. T.R. Knight from “Grey’s Anatomy” was a fine choice to play Gideon, who predictably ended up helping Miles and Cara just enough to resolve some of Audrey’s issues and not impact his personal life too much. I also recognized Jennifer Ferrin from “Hell on Wheels” as Madeline, who was obviously going to reconnect with Audrey without much trouble despite the circumstances that drove them apart in the first place. Thanks in no small part to what Miles said, Trish appears to have forgiven Arthur for his dishonesty and looks ready to give him a chance to try to balance being bishop and her husband. There was no way that lying about being together to her parents was going to be good for Jaya and Rakesh, but I didn’t see it imploding quite as badly as it did, leaving Rakesh now heartbroken and single, which isn’t going to be good for anyone.

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan (Season Premiere)

Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 1 “Faith. Hope. Love. Luck.” (B)

I had forgotten entirely about this show’s existence, mainly because I wasn’t terribly fond of the most recent season, and also because Showtime hasn’t aired new episodes of a series in the 8pm hour on Sundays before, at least as far as I can remember. While I definitely wouldn’t argue that this show needs to continue, I will say that this premiere at least felt like a fresh start of sorts. Ray screaming at someone he was supposed to beat up and then returning to apologize was a change, and Stu evidently wasn’t pleased with his new attitude. The fact that he’s finally listening to Alan Alda’s therapist is big, and he seems to have a semi-legitimate operation going with Lena and Smitty. He’s still dealing, of course, with the heads of cops he killed surfacing, and of course the major bombshell that took place at the end of the episode. Mickey not making a run for it was a surprise, and it looks like he may finally be out of the picture for good, though I imagine that would be way too easy. I’m glad to see that Terry is exploring something new to try to help with his condition, and though we only saw Bunchy for a brief moment, he looks like he might be happy too. For the first time, Ray’s relationship with his daughter also seems to be going somewhat well, so maybe this will be just the turnaround this show needs. If not, I’m not sure I’ll stick through the season.

What I’m Watching: The Crown (Season Premiere)

The Crown: Season 3, Episode 1 “Olding” (B+)

I’ve neglected to watch the most recent seasons of many streaming shows that I like a lot because there’s just too much television on right now, but I felt like I had to try to keep up with some of the major awards magnets, especially since I only watched season one after it already collected its first few prizes. I had forgotten how slow this show sometimes is to start, but fortunately this opening hour proved to be very memorable and worthwhile by its end. The big change, of course, is that the entire cast is now portrayed by older actors, a gamble that wasn’t too risky given the enormous talent involved. Olivia Colman does a superb job of playing a completely different regal presence than the one she took home an Oscar for in “The Favourite,” and I’m very excited to see more of Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Ben Daniels from “The Exception” as Tony. Since I’ve never seen “Outlander,” I’m not familiar with actor Tobias Menzies, but he seems like a good fit to play Philip. I was also impressed by Samuel West as Anthony Blunt, whose story took us to the closing words printed on screen that always inspire an eagerness for further research into what actually happened. Seeing John Lithgow in an episode with an entirely new cast was trippy also because I just saw him in “Bombshell” as a far different public figure, Roger Ailes. He might well earn a deserved guest Emmy nomination for a fitting farewell. Seeing Elizabeth apologize to the new prime minister for misjudging him was an effective way of showing who the queen has now become, and even if this isn’t the fastest-moving show I’ve ever seen, I’m looking forward to experience this new season over the course of the new month or two.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pilot Review: Dollface

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: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 1, Episode 3 “Chaos is the New Cocaine” (B+)

I’m beginning to understand why Apple TV Plus chose to debut the first three episodes all at once. I’ve enjoyed getting to experience them one a time, but as one set, it’s definitely a strong opener. I also see why the praise for Jennifer Aniston has been so robust, and it’s very likely that she’s going to earn awards given the writing for her character and the sharpness of her delivery, in contrast with much of her previous work. Reese Witherspoon is just as good, and while I wasn’t too fond of her accent initially, I’m glad to see her branching out from an equally great turn in “Big Little Lies” for which she could actually compete with herself at the Golden Globes and other awards ceremonies. The two of them were superb in this hour, and I also very much appreciated Billy Crudup’s performance as Cory, who successfully changed the narrative and owned this major bombshell delivered by Alex and then had an entertaining back-and-forth with Bradley about just how combative she was. Mia stepping up to be Bradley’s producer was an interesting move, and she and Alex had a loaded conversation about their personal relationships with Mitch. It’s so intriguing to see how Mitch continues to be determined to tell his story while finding few friends. Martin Short’s Dick quickly revealed himself to be far more extreme than Mitch, and it was no surprise that he took Mitch’s identification of him as a predator as an insult. The final shot of the episode offered what I guess counts for Alex as a gesture of support: the least comforting instance of hand-holding I’ve ever seen.

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

The Politician: Season 1, Episode 8 “Vienna” (B+)

Well, this was quite the finale. I had accidentally read something about a time jump and tried to forget it, and fortunately I think I had until I sat down to start this episode and wasn’t too surprised to see “three years later” opening the hour. It makes sense that Payton would end up at a school like NYU, which he probably considered a serious step down from Ivy options like Harvard, though I was a bit puzzled that his friends in from out of town were Infinity and Skye, who now are pals too after only sharing the distinction of being Payton’s running mate at different points. It felt strange to me that, when everyone came together to convince Payton to run, Infinity was nowhere to be found. I would have thought she’d be a crucial part of the team, especially if Skye was there. I had no idea why we were meeting the Texas senator played by Sam Jaeger from “Parenthood,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Why Women Kill,” and I was also surprised to recognize Judith Light from “Transparent” as State Senator Dede Standish and Bette Midler of all people as her chief of staff Hadassah Gold. I thought the focus might be shifting to a different campaign altogether, but I love the twist that Payton is going to run against her when she’s actually being groomed to be vice president, separating her from a real-life person like Joe Crowley who didn’t have such grand ambitions. Astrid knowing that Dede is part of a thruple with Joe Morton from “God Friended Me” and “Scandal” and Teddy Sears from “The Flash” and “Masters of Sex” suggests it might be a dirty campaign, but I’m all in for what’s sure to be a totally entertaining second season. Even if the last two episodes I saw were a bit over the top, this has been a real blast. I won’t soon get the incredible music and fantastic ensemble out of my head, and I hope this show will fare well with awards groups.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Ben Platt as Payton

What I’m Watching: Living with Yourself

Living with Yourself: Season 1, Episode 5 “Va Bene” (B+)

Maybe it’s a good thing I decided to stick with this show. This was the best installment yet, and that was mainly because it was all about Kate. Aisling Bea already turned in some fine work in the previous episode, and now she delivered in an incredible way this time. I enjoyed the measure of time as “B.C.” or before cloning, and I like that the moment, always scored with the same music, of the real Miles walking in to deliver his clone’s punchline is a central turning point for every episode’s catch-up. I was happy to see Ginger Gonzaga from “Kidding” as Kate’s business partner Meg, who for once had less to say than the person she was with, at least when Kate finally chose to let their client have it by telling him forcefully that he needed to grow up. That was a formidable scene, and it made sense that she’d need to have an outburst like that after dealing with the client who thought they were from Goodwill and the overconfident Da8er CTO. What I didn’t realize is that she had made a profile on the dating site just before Miles went in to close himself, just as serious a step as going in to try to put the deposit down on the IVF without Miles being involved. Showing up to the date at the end demonstrated that she wants to retake control of her life, but meeting the other Miles is a major move that’s going to make the real Miles really mad, unless this is a clone of Kate that we’re seeing, which will even worse since the real Kate won’t be happy one bit about that.

What I’m Watching: Modern Love

Modern Love: Season 1, Episode 5 “At the Hospital, an Interlude of Clarity” (B+)

I enjoyed this episode a lot. It felt like this half-hour was even more intimate than previous installments, focused so much on these two people that didn’t really know each other at all but got very close as a result of some unexpected circumstances. It wasn’t clear at first what their relationship was exactly, and I like that we got to know them as they got to know each other. I recognized John Gallagher Jr. immediately from his charming role as Jim on “The Newsroom,” and here he played someone who was just as awkward and naturally ended up slipping and seriously hurting himself while trying to be flirtatious. I didn’t know Sofia Boutella, though I guess I did see her in “Star Trek Beyond.” Their chemistry was very sweet, and I like that Yasmine insisted that he answer with a preference rather than just have her give him whatever she decided. To me, this is what this show is supposed to be about: unexpected love stories that come about in strange ways. We’ve seen platonic relationships and ones tinged with crucial diagnoses, and this one felt very simple in that it was just a first date that turned into something much more. It was odd for me to watch it immediately after attending a screening of the upcoming movie “Queen and Slim,” which also finds two people who haven’t yet even officially started a relationship drawn together by events far deadlier than just falling on some glass. Both are good, but they’re totally different.

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 4 “The Chick and the Egg Donor” (B-)

There was something nice about having Will and Grace go through this process of having children together, but that wasn’t likely to continue for long. I didn’t think that Matt Bomer would be sticking around regularly, and as a result, he got to break the news to Will as a result of a text that he had some serious reservations about their plans to become parents. It’s possible that, like Grace, Will will decide that he’s going to do this on his own, but it’s also possible that they’re going to raise one child together instead. This of course all contradicts what happened in the original series finale where they hadn’t spoken in years and their children ended up meeting years later, but I know that we’re supposed to pretend that never happened because NBC opted to bring this show back. Being married to someone doesn’t do much for the other two characters, whose spouses rarely appear. Jack was actually offering moderately good advice to Karen while dressed as a baseball player, though what he suggested wasn’t nearly as helpful as Vanessa Bayer’s returning cake baker and baseball enthusiast Amy. Though it’s miserable to watch Amy take so much abuse from her new intern supervisor, Bayer is quite committed and great. I hope we’ll see more of Patton Oswalt’s Danley since it’s a role perfectly made for him, supporting the absurd character of Stan with his vengeful brother who actually just wants a chance to be with his former sister-in-law.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 8 “The Funerals to End All Funerals” (B+)

I think I sort of expected that things were going to go this way, that Michael would somehow find a way to convince the judge that the point system was indeed flawed but it wouldn’t result in whatever our main characters thought it would. It’s very fair that the three decent humans got better and that Brent ended up with just a slight decrease since his overconfidence that he belonged in the best place made him more horrible but then he shot way up at the very end when he almost had the chance to say something nice to Chidi. Eleanor, Tahani, Jason, and Janet having funerals for each other was an entertaining process, with a fitting tribute to who each of them have become. I’d liked to have seen what Chidi would have wanted for his funeral, but I guess we’ll have to settle for having him step in to figure a new point system to save Earth in just forty-five minutes. I found the judge’s eagerness to bring back “Ally McBeal” a bit odd, though it made much more sense when she got to say that she was essentially rebooting it by restarting all of Earth. What I didn’t see coming was Janet’s ability to hide the earth wiper-outer from the judge and Bad Janet showing up to reveal that she had read the manifesto and convinced all the Janets to stand against the judge to hide the device from her. There are few comedies that end on a cliffhanger every episode, and I’m just glad that another new episode comes very soon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 8 “Sorry” (B+)

I like that this show is exploring new chapters in its characters’ lives rather than feeling like it’s not headed anywhere new. There is a bit of that, like with Deja wanting to reconnect with her mother, but that’s natural given everything going on in her life. I like that Malik tried to respect her privacy at first by telling Beth that it wasn’t his place to tell her, but she kept pushing and he remained as loyal as he could be while still sticking up for her. Kevin picturing his father every time Nicky spoke to him sent him spiraling, and it’s a good thing that he chose to look for a beating instead of deciding to drink instead. Fortunately, he cleaned himself up well enough with some help from Cassidy, and now Nicky is even going to come for Thanksgiving, where I’m sure he’ll strike up thrilling conversations with Deja’s mother. It was sad to see the look on Kate’s face when she realized that the wonderful moment she shared with Gregory didn’t include Toby, and I hope she tells him about it before it turns into something much bigger that she’s hiding. It’s very worthwhile to see the transformation of the young, awkward Randall into the much more confident man we see today, and sticking up for his mother after she almost didn’t get a job because of her lack of computer experience was a great instance of that. Her negative response to being asked about her memory indicates that she doesn’t want him to overstep his bounds as a child when she’s still the parent, yet another way in which this show sometimes so sharply captures real life.

What I’m Watching: The Conners

The Conners: Season 2, Episode 6 “Tempest in a Stew Pot” (B)

I think this is going to be my last episode of this show. I’m always reluctant to give up on comedies because they’re usually just half an hour, but that’s still time I don’t need to be spending with a series that isn’t either fulfilling me or one that I’d revisit anyway come Emmy time because it’s nominated for a handful of awards. I just don’t care if the family all comes back together again, and I miss Darlene’s multiple boyfriends. Becky and Jackie planning this elaborate stew restaurant did nothing to convince Darlene that it was a better option than the other offer that she had gotten, and they both seem ready to be militant just for the sake of it and stay bitter instead of accepting her decision. Harris isn’t exactly radiating positive qualities, lying to both her mother and her grandfather about seeing her friend Odessa again after the bike incident. I think part of the issue is that it’s not Odessa who’s the problem, but Harris herself, who seems intent on breaking every rule just for the hell of it without ever trying to do anything nice for someone else. As Darlene pointed out, people do like Mark, and his efforts to make Thanksgiving more personal were sweet. I also liked Dan’s line in response to his objection to Dan’s use of the word Indians to describe Native Americans about how he and his kind are on their way out. That’s a fine note for me to end on – I’d be happy watching an occasional episode in the future, but I’m ready to be done with regular viewing.

Pilot Review: The Mandalorian

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.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Round Two: His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Idea of North” (B+)

I’m enjoying watching this show as I try to remember bits and pieces of what I know from the books, like that Lord Asriel is Lyra’s father, and blissfully ignoring other revelations until they’re made so that I’m in for some surprises. I did realize ahead of Lyra that the General Oblation Board could be abbreviated to Gobblers, something that only scratches the surface of what Mrs. Coulter is doing. There is a childlike sense of adventure here that’s captured most in Lyra’s behavior, and then an undercurrent of disturbing violence shown through Mrs. Coulter burning the abducted children’s letters and by the physical crushing of a daemon by an unfeeling Lord Boreal. We’re getting a few more hints of what’s going on, like Lord Boreal being able to cross into another world that looks a whole lot more like ours than the one Lyra lives in, and I presume that Lord Asriel’s absence in this hour won’t become a pattern, though he’s sure going to have some explaining to do when he next comes face-to-face with Lyra. I’m very happy to see Ruth Wilson in the role of Mrs. Coulter since it’s so different than the role she played on “The Affair,” and it’s continuously difficult to deduce where her allegiances actually lie. In the process on waiting for clarity on what exactly is at play in these two worlds, the visual effects, costumes, and production design are more than satisfactory. This feels like a very worthwhile and well-staged production, far better than the 2007 film version of “The Golden Compass.”

Take Three: Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher: Season 1, Episode 3 “Care Package” (B+)

I really liked this episode because it delved into the minor characters we’ve only seen and met briefly, embellishing their stories so that they feel human and three-dimensional. I suspected that Josh Pais would have a larger role as Barry, who got to treat everyone to an enjoyable and transformative evening at his bar and react in a regrettable way to the revelation that Margo was trans. A romance between Julian and Eve was inevitable, and they both started to realize that something was happening at the same time when Julian was looking up at Eve’s feet. Telling her that she was pretty before he threw up a whole lot put the brakes on anything concrete for the moment, and I was also surprised that the connection between Julian and Brendan came up without much fanfare aside from Eve’s correct conclusion that they were not friends. I like that Brendan did eventually call his mother back a while after he heard her angry voicemail, and she was perfectly satisfied at the end of the episode just eating and enjoying herself on the floor, a more successful run than her earlier attempts at pleasure that didn’t result in much. Brendan did a terrible job of reading the room at the support group, and it’s puzzling that Chloe is still into him. I’m hopeful that Margo and Curtis becoming closer won’t end poorly, and the class is sure going to be different the next time they meet back in their dreary setting.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 6, Episode 3 “Hooli Smokes!” (B+)

I’ve missed the crazy stakes present on this show and just how quickly fortunes can be gained and lost in the span of a single episode. Buying Hooli is a big get, but there could easily be a few more major moves in the remaining four episodes given this show’s usual pace. Maximo teaming up with Colin and Laurie was bad news, and regardless of whose math was right, things were not looking up for everyone. Leave it to Gavin to have a flash filled with kombucha instead of alcohol, and for him to turn down Richard’s brilliant mutually beneficial deal just because he doesn’t believe in playing nice. Having people literally push him and change him during the triathlon was typical, and I’d hope that his win would be discredited if it actually mattered now that he’s been ousted from his own company. Richard and the team did move very quickly, and their takeover went smoothly, which now positions them to be in great shape to potentially survive for a bit. Jared hid his emotions during Richard’s apology behind his sunglasses, and I imagine he’ll come back to work with Pied Piper or Hooli if Richard invites him. I enjoyed the brief appearance by Ben Feldman as Richard’s lawyer Ron, who offered to be honest with Richard for once, a statement that rightfully worried his top client. We don’t see enough of Jian-Yang or Big Head anymore – I hope we’ll have the chance to spend more time with them before this show signs off for good.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 6 “406 Not Acceptable” (B)

I wasn’t too sure at the very start about spending more time with Christmas music, but hearing Fernando spin his story to it to a predictably tied up Krista was undeniably intimidating and mood-setting. He made his point to be sure, and I’m curious whether her episode-ending call to Elliot was in fact to warn him or whether she was still his prisoner, not that it mattered much because he ended up in the trunk of car headed nowhere good. The more intense transformation in this hour was that of Elliot, who even Mr. Robot couldn’t support in the way that he shifted into ruining Olivia’s life. I hoped that maybe he hadn’t actually put drugs into her drink, though that would have been even more horrible if she had succeeded in her suicide attempt. Making sure that he knew that he was just as evil as the people she worked for was appropriately harsh, and I’m not even sure he’ll be able to do anything with the information he got now that he’s headed for some miserable fate thanks to Fernando. Dom’s future isn’t looking much brighter, thanks to Janice walking in at the worst possible time when Dom was trying to have Darlene kill her as the only possible way out of this situation. The choice she made won’t end up benefiting her, since Janice will not likely take it out on her family, and Darlene is likely to be tortured in some awful way as Janice tries to extract Elliot’s location. The only way this all ends well if the Dark Army and Fernando take each other out and no one gets hurt in the process.

Pilot Review: Back to Life

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: Watchmen

Watchmen: Season 1, Episode 4 “If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own” (B+)

This show continues to offer rewarding showcases for fantastic actors, and it’s wonderful to be able to meet Lady Trieu, played by Hong Chau, in this hour. I loved Chau in her Golden Globe-nominated role in “Downsizing,” and wasn’t so impressed with her follow-up parts in “Homecoming,” “Driveways,” and “American Woman.” Playing the mysterious trillionaire here seems like a perfect fit, and she made an incredible impression showing up to see the Clarks, putting a timer on the table, and offering them a ready-made child in exchange for their home. She’s aware that her daughter felt tired from a dream that was evidently more real than she knows, and she’s working directly with Will potentially in cooperation with some faction of the Rorschach group. I’m glad that we got confirmation of Laurie’s past and her relation to the Watchmen we know, referred to as the Minutemen here, and I’m all about the intriguing technology used like the Ances-Tree in which Angela was able to plant her acorn to learn about her great-grandparents. I love the music used for Sister Night, and it pounded into full effect when she chased that unknown figure until he or she slid into the grate in a very cool and astounding fashion. Whatever Adrian, who was referenced by Laurie when they went to go see Trieu, is up to is getting far more sinister, as even his new creations seem shocked by the devastation he has wreaked upon all the poor clones he butchered in a fit of rage.

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Season Premiere)

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 1 “We Few, We Lucky Few, We Band of Gallaghers!” (B+)

It’s rare to find a show that’s just as good going into season ten as it was when it first premiered. Because this show finally split its most recent season into two parts, it’s only been a little over half a year since we last saw the Gallaghers. Fiona’s exit was known since the beginning of season nine, and therefore her absence here was felt only in its starkness when everyone showed up to see Lip at the end of the episode. The conclusion of this episode was unusually serious, with Tami needing emergency surgery and set up to potentially not survive, which would leave Lip in a very different situation than his younger sister, who is still playing mom to her young child while taking Fiona’s place as family money manager and working on a side operation of her own. The other creative entrepreneur of the hour was Kev, who found a niche that could make him a good deal of side cash that he’ll hopefully decide to spend on something smarter than sneakers that don’t make him any better at basketball. Liam’s new hairdo and cultural superiority aren’t doing him any favors, but at least he’s bonding with Veronica in the process. I’m thrilled to see the fantastic Luis Guzman back as Mikey, working hand-in-hand with Frank to steal a couch and share the spoils of his pharmaceutical acquisitions. Carl made quite a negative impression on his instructors at military school, and it looks like he’s in for one hell of a ride while Kelly is still around trying to achieve a world record in having sex.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Pilot Review: The Dublin Murders

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: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 6 “Confidence Women” (B)

This episode provided a welcome interruption from the seemingly endless battles and storylines that we’ve seen so far this season. I appreciated how the story of Lena’s friendship with Andrea was interwoven with her becoming close with Kara, something that sort of just happened on the show without much explanation. We also saw Jon Cryer as Lex again briefly, which makes me think that maybe he’ll return on a more regular basis to the show soon since a short guest spot like a lot of work if he wasn’t going to do more. I recognized two other familiar TV faces who played major roles in Andrea and Lena’s lives, though it’s possible this is the only time we’ll see them. Steven Bauer, who played Avi on “Ray Donovan” was Andrea’s father, for whom she sold her soul and agreed to be an assassin on demand for Leviathan. Rahul Kohli, who played Ravi on “iZombie,” was Jack, who was close with Lena during a time where she really needed someone and who I didn’t remember had previously appeared in a season two episode, “Ace Reporter.” I knew that Lena was going to pull Andrea away during a difficult time, but it turns out it was Andrea who betrayed her by lying about the medallion. We found out that Russell wasn’t bad just in time for him to get killed as punishment for Andrea trying to shirk her duties, along with the revelation that her powers don’t come from the medallion. Lena incepting Russell to kill himself if Andrea didn’t do what she wanted proved just how little she values other people, even those she wants called friends, and probing Eve’s memories only reinforces that.

Friday, November 15, 2019

What I’m Watching: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 6 “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury” (C+)

Our main characters are coming together in very intimate ways that makes it feel like, eventually, everyone’s going to know that Kate is Batwoman, which can’t be what she wants. Mouse used his creepy skill to get Alice to reveal Batwoman’s identity, which is much more dangerous than Sophie knowing since he actively hates the woman he thinks is going to try to steal his sister. The “Alice in Wonderland” references are getting tiresome, and as if Kate’s outlook on life wasn’t disturbing enough, now we have Mouse, who is going to be able to effortlessly pretend to be someone else and pose a real threat to the security of Gotham. After Sophie confirmed her theory and called Batwoman Kate right before she passed out, it was nice to see Mary give Sophie a piece of her mind without realizing quite how stinging her comments were by asking her if betrayal was her thing. Sophie isn’t going to tell Jacob, though Kate should realize that the longer she hides her secret identity from her father, the worse it’s going to be when the truth eventually comes out at exactly the wrong time. I suppose this episode deserves moderate credit for creating a villain who was very specific in how he took out his victims, killing htem in the same way that an executioner would in Gotham’s prisons. It’s hardly on the level of “Se7en,” though I wouldn’t expect anything like that from this show. Luke’s connection to his father is interesting, and I wonder if we’ll ever return to that storyline in the future.

What I’m Watching: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 7 “Instant Karma” (C)

Is it bad that I enjoyed watching Rakesh and Miles key in new eleven-digit combinations hoping they would be the matching code only to be disappointed each time that they weren’t? Things continue to be a bit too easy for these interfering know-it-alls, and yet again, everything managed to work out in the end. Finding a lottery ticket that was a million-dollar winner would happen to these do-gooders, and as a result they had to keep hounding Sameer, who didn’t want to incur any more karma, before being pressured into cashing it in by Jai, only to have Sameer insist that he had to sign it over to Judy, the rightful buyer. Of course it would be her hospital wristband number that would ultimately crack the code, a rather undeniable sign that the God account must have some supernatural power or otherwise just be a super-smart computer capable of generating the wristband number to match it. Audrey is quite a character, leaving her car on a New York City curb because she assumed it had to be a valet post. It felt like there were more predictable moments than ever before here, like Judy being revealed as the ticket buyer, Ali wanting to go into church work, and Cara showing up to finally tell Miles that she loved him. I was caught off-guard by Ali actually being given lines that weren’t merely in reference to helping other people, and perhaps her return to her roots will be a great opportunity to reconnect with her father as he takes his next big step.

Round Two: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 1, Episode 2 “I have never seen ‘Volcanoes’” (B+)

I wasn’t entirely sure if I needed to be watching more of this show, but I’m glad I stuck around it since I think it does have something to offer. The very stylized opening credits were only the first indication of this show’s funkiness, which I think works entirely to its advantage. It expresses a self-awareness about the era it portrays, like with Lavina asking herself if she’s been knitting all day, that could eventually get annoying, but for now, it’s fair enough since it allows an entire generation of suppressed women to be spoken for through this creative exploration of what Emily Dickinson’s experience might have been. Emily harped on having gotten a maid as a way for her to get out of housework, something that didn’t go over well with anyone, and it was Mrs. Dickinson who was most upset about it since it felt to her like she had been replaced in the crucial function she wanted to fill. Emily being told that she wasn’t allowed to go to the Professor Hitchcock lecture at the college was essentially just encouragement for her to do exactly that, and after their thin disguises managed to fool almost everyone, Emily had to go ahead and expose herself when she shouted out and excitedly removed her hat to reveal her long hair. Her father’s response is only going to make her act out more. Sue at least seemed to be more on the same page by episode’s end than at the beginning, as indicated by the passionate final scene. I don’t feel an urgent need to be watching this show but I’m interested in seeing more.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Round Two: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 1, Episode 2 “A Seat at the Table” (B+)

Well, this was quite the follow-up to an already very memorable pilot episode. I’m glad to see that the big scenes that both Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston got in the first hour weren’t one-time shots, and they both got to express themselves a few times in this installment. After being blindsided by the news about Mitch, Alex is reclaiming whatever power she can, demanding cohost approval and refusing to go on until Chip promised to get it for her. After she freaked out in the car on the way to the event and then got knocked down by Cory when he told her she’d never get cohost approval and that they had bought the award for her, she executed the perfect revenge by calling Cory’s bluff and publicly announcing Bradley as her new cohost. That’s going to be very interesting considering how much she hates her, and I suspect they’ll only end up becoming allies because Alex realizes she can use her to get what she wants and make Cory pay for being so cruel. Steve Carell got a few great scenes too as a man with far too much to say and few friends left. His “first they came for the rapists” bit was cringe-worthy, and it’s a relief that he decided to go home rather than crash the function. I like that we’re seeing a bit of the supporting players, like Hannah trying to get the woman who wanted to talk about Mitch to do it on their show and Yanko and Claire, whose secret relationship with “climate change” as a safe word might look very different under a new microscope. I’m definitely on board for episode three and beyond.

What I’m Watching: The Politician

The Politician: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Assassination of Payton Hobart: Part 2” (B)

Everything pretty much blew up in this episode, in a way that was entertaining but also just as over-the-top as this show has tended to be in the past. After being completely obsessed with his wife earlier in the season, Keaton was ready to dismiss her – and Payton as a result – because of her near-departure to run off to Wyoming with her lover. Payton got to see River while he was in his coma, and fortunately Infinity rushed over there to save his life by explaining precisely what it was that Ricardo had shot him with, but Payton doesn’t have much left in his life following the reveal of his secrets. Principal Vaughn was all too satisfied to be able to angrily demand his resignation, and his mother’s departure leaves him even more alone, supported only by McAfee, who he’ll still probably choose not to trust even after she called the police to turn Skye in for trying to kill Payton. Payton’s question of whether he can bounce back from this felt all too unrealistic, but it’s certainly possible he’ll set his aims on something higher with a real comeback narrative going for him one day. Dusty accidentally shooting Ricardo while she was trying to shoot herself was a misstep that she probably can’t take back, and while Ricardo hardly comes off as the most reliable witness, there’s just too much going against Dusty now for her to be able to crawl back from it, left with no one to support her. Astrid’s father being proud of her for calling the FBI on him shows how much he valued their relationship, and she seems to be headed on a one-way trip out of this show’s narrative. I have no idea what to expect from the finale, but I’m sure it will be enthralling to say the least.

What I’m Watching: Living with Yourself

Living with Yourself: Season 1, Episode 4 “Soul Mate” (B)

This episode was an improvement, though I’m still not sure that I’m seeing this show’s long-term viability. In catching us up to the shocking ending of the last episode, we saw how the two Miles really couldn’t coexist very well, and how original Miles got fed up with his clone overstepping. Introducing his twin brother, also somehow named Miles, proved awkward, but it was nothing compared to Kate’s reaction back at the house. Watching this episode was totally worth it for the formidable showcase of Aisling Bea’s talents, underused up until this point. The way she dealt with two different Paul Rudds was absolutely fantastic, and I think there’s a great case for her as a deserving awards contender after her work here. She really didn’t like the idea of the clone being in her house, and obviously she was on good enough terms with the original version of her husband who decided to go in for a dangerous medical procedure on his own to be sleeping with him when the clone came over to get some hair so that he could have a clone wife of his own. That’s a worrisome twist since she’d surely go ballistic if it ended up happening. Though we only saw them for a brief scene, I enjoyed the welcoming, wandering wisdom from Miles’ sister Maia, played by Alia Shawkat from “Search Party,” and Jon Glaser from “Parks and Recreation” and “Girls” as Henry. We’ll see how far it gets clone Miles, who has set his sights firmly on the one woman he can’t have, unless there are two of her.

What I’m Watching: Modern Love

Modern Love: Season 1, Episode 4 “Rallying to Keep the Game Alive” (B+)

This was probably my favorite episode yet, if only for the fantastic back-and-forth between Tina Fey, a multiple Emmy winner for “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live,” and John Slattery, a nominee for his role on “Mad Men.” Fey in particular is a great actress who knows how to do subtle comedy, not always going big like when she ate an entire sandwich on camera at an airport security line but capable of making the most of small moments that could otherwise not be worth much. Slipping on her way out of therapy every time and reacting to her husband’s inability to even notice the fact that she fell was a prime example, and her lack of interest in playing a modified version of tennis was similar. Slattery demonstrated the perfect blissful ignorance of his wife’s unhappiness, and it was sweet to see him spring back into action when she finally confronted him at dinner about her feelings and her desire to get back to a good place. I also recognized the therapist, who was played by Sarita Choudhury, probably best known for “Homeland,” and who contributed exactly what she needed to in her scenes. This wasn’t a particularly enticing story of romance, but I don’t think anyone thinks of this show as representing what always works and is sunny, looking instead at the off-kilter and questionable instances in which things just haven’t worked out but there might still be some hope for salvaging a relationship down the road with the right effort.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 3 “With Enemies Like These” (B-)

This episode was, as has recently been the case, very entertaining but decidedly unserious. Mrs. Timmer banning upstairs food deliveries so that Grace’s endless stream of takeout couldn’t continue felt extreme and vindictive, and somehow it turned out that they’re actually related, with Mrs. Timmer’s criticism of Grace now feeling like what she might hear from her mom. All of the jokes about the physical appearance of any of these four people are always exaggerated since they all look spectacular for their ages, and Will did make a good point about how they should try to support each other rather than constantly criticizing. Chris Parnell, who I’ll eternally remember as Dr. Spaceman on “30 Rock,” was a perfect choice to play the doctor who wanted to shout Will’s hair loss numbers all across the office and who eagerly showed him pictures of his past clients, including one with Jack’s eyes covered but a shirt that said his name on it. Tricking Jack into shaving his head was a fun prank, and I thought for a second that Will had actually done it before he peeled off the prosthetic he had put on (and which likely covered Sean Hayes’ hair as well). I wasn’t sure if we had seen Patton Oswalt before as Stanley’s much smaller brother, and I’m consistently impressed with the roles the actor takes since he’s such a fantastic fit for each of them. He completely embraced this show’s love of double entendres and went shot for shot with Karen as he saddled her with a baseball team who she’ll apparently now be keeping naked all the time while she mixes up sports metaphors.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 7 “Help Is Other People” (B+)

One of the things that I like about this show and which also often frustrates me is how the end credits start to pop up on the bottom of the screen before something big happens in the final seconds of the episode. In this case, it felt much longer when Brent realized that he was actually headed to the real bad place and then got up to tell Chidi that he thought of him as a true friend…or something to that effect, since the experiment ended and they both froze. It seemed midway through the episode that Simone had pieced it all together, but choosing not to trust the others in their group wasn’t a good idea, and it took until almost the last minute for Chidi to be the one to figure it out. Michael’s eagerness to do human magic didn’t prove too helpful, even if it did allow them an excuse to nearly have Brent swallowed up in a giant hole. As has been the case recently, it was Jason to the rescue with the logic that it’s never too late to blow something up, providing a few solid ideas that made Tahani genuinely concerned that he might be a demon in a Jason suit. We’ll have to see how the judge rules going forward and what happens after that, and I’m also worried that, even if Brent somehow manages to be read as redeemed, John didn’t exactly make much progress, and, for that matter, Simone didn’t behave terribly kindly to those around her during the experiment. I suspect it will all work out, though we still have a few episodes to go before the final fates of all these characters are sealed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 7 “The Dinner and the Date” (B+)

This was a remarkably uncomfortable episode, possibly the most awkward one that this show has yet produced, but I also found it to be very effective. Tuning out the present-day problems faced by Kevin and Kate was a smart choice, continuing the theme of similar events in different time periods to underscore what it means to be these people. Rebecca couldn’t understand why Jack was so eager to have Mr. Lawrence over when Kevin had repeatedly asked to invite the nurse whose breasts he liked, and watching Jack fight to be the most relevant parent was not a good look. Kevin’s comments weren’t helpful either, but fortunately Jack decided to follow him outside to have a real conversation about what role Mr. Lawrence could continue to play in his journey towards self-discovery and how Jack could best support that. Having Randall in a very different position as the less open-minded parent to his wife’s open-toed attitude made for a considerably testier interaction, one that started with Kelly shushing her hosts because the baby was asleep and resulted in full-blown confrontation between the mothers. The performances by Omar Epps and Marsha Stephanie Blake as Darnell and Kelly are really terrific, and I’d be very open to seeing them again on this show. Also, how can Susan Kelechi Watson not get an Emmy nomination for playing Beth after this episode? Seeing the sweet nature of Malik and Deja’s relationship demonstrates the connection between the two of them, each trying to overcome their own circumstances, and it’s great that Randall and Beth decided to officially approve of the romance rather than try to push them away from each other.

Monday, November 11, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 6, Episode 5 “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” (B-)

I guess it’s a good thing that Barry and Iris found some time to jet off to a tropical vacation before Barry’s impending death, and they certainly seemed relaxed both heading into it and coming back from it. I love that Cisco created an artificial intelligence version of Barry that he called B.A.R.I. to calculate and predict what Barry would do if he were there, to the point of knowing his actual favorite movie rather than the one he first said when asked the question. Naturally, Barry being away would bring a huge crisis for Cisco in the form of Gypsy’s death. I didn’t expect to see a guest appearance from actress Jessica Camacho since she’s busy with both “All Rise” and “Another Life,” and this was much more about Cisco needing to prove his own innocence after a bad-news alter ego of his had actually tapped into his white noise machine and framed him. It was ultimately a positive bonding experience for him and Kamilla, a very cool-under-pressure ally who deserves to be made a full-time member of Team Flash. Ralph and Killer Frost proved to once again be a strong duo, showing up just in the nick of time to save Joe and Nash from death. Nash wasn’t eager to share what he was working on, but it’s good to see him finally be open and upfront about the fact that, thanks to his multiversal frequency knowledge, he’s on to a solution to save Barry, good news we could all use!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pilot Review: His Dark Materials

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, November 9, 2019

Round Two: Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher: Season 1, Episode 2 “Free Sample” (B+)

I liked the second episode of this show, which served as a strong follow-up to the first. There isn’t much that’s glamorous about Eve’s life, and she’s finding excitement in unexpected ways by watching a whole lot of porn at home. Her supermarket encounter with the woman giving free samples was quite racy, and it seems thus far that she’s keeping all of her fantasies to herself rather than trying to act on them in the real world. She eventually agreed to go on a date with Emily’s friend Peter, but there was something too sterile and unenticing about the place where she met him that inspired her to make up an excuse about leaving something on at home and ditch the date. Roy’s constant masturbation got him kicked out, further angering his son George, and Eve seemed perfectly happy to see him when he surprised her during her skinny-dipping session. I recognized Josh Pais from “Touchy Feely” and “Ray Donovan” as Barry in her group, and I wonder whether he’ll have a larger role going forward. Brendan is proving to be even more awful than he seemed in the first episode, declaring that he’s only at college so that he can get a six-figure job. It’s funny that actor Neil Casey is playing Devin, his advisor, since he is also appearing on “Silicon Valley,” which airs right before this show. The representative from the vegan club had Brendan’s number by refusing to even engage with him when he looked her up and down, but autism club representative Chloe, played by Jasmine Cephas Jones from “Blindspotting,” seemed ready to give him more of a chance while also pegging him perfectly. His participation in the consent simulation was far from serious, and what he took away from that hardly underscores his internalization of the material.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 5 “405 Method Not Allowed” (B)

It’s weird to keep watching heavily-themed Christmas episodes so much before winter officially kicks into gear (though I’m currently in Los Angeles, where winter isn’t really a thing). Aside from that, this episode felt very insular as Elliot and Darlene got to work together in close quarters with a lot of pressure on around them. It was eerie not to see Mr. Robot at all, a forceful reminder that Elliot is just one person, and just because we’re often shown the other side of his personality, he doesn’t actually have someone there to help him at all times. After they successfully eluded security several times, Elliot got spotted very directly by one of their agents, and his decision to burst through the door and run from the police seemed like it was going to result with him back in prison, sacrificing himself so that Darlene could get away. The pace of the episode was decidedly intense from that point on, and somehow they managed to reunite and escape together. They might have eluded the police, but Janice was onto them with an amazingly clear picture, and let’s hope that Dom can covertly alert her old pal Darlene that she and her brother are in a lot of danger. Seeing Krista multiple times throughout the episode was foreboding since we knew that Elliot’s presence in her life would eventually put her in harm’s way, and Fernando showing up to help her with her groceries is the confirmation that she’s officially involved in a way that she really doesn’t want to be.

Friday, November 8, 2019

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 6, Episode 2 “Blood Money” (B+)

It’s hard to believe that it took Jared this long to quit given how much he’s been marginalized in the company that he helped to create. Richard wasn’t happy at all with his decision to jump ship, and the value he was adding became clear within just this episode as Jared’s counsel was needed when no one else could help Richard make the important decision about whether to take the blood money. Jared has always been a bit off, which is part of why he saw a kindred spirit in Qwart, and Richard managed to send him off the deep end by insulting her, which was quite the frightening sight. Getting drunk with Maximo Reyes and netting what he thought was an amazing offer didn’t look quite as appealing in the light of day when Monica revealed the reasons that his even more generous funding proposal wasn’t a good idea. I thought I recognized actor Arturo Castro, and it turns it’s from his very relevant role in the third season of “Narcos.” It seems like Richard is trapped now, and not mining user data is going to be difficult given Maximo’s conditions. Monica was genuinely floored by the $1 billion offer, smoking two cigarettes at the same time and then taking herself out of the decision equaton. Laurie hasn’t changed much since her time away, and I wonder whether we’ll see her again. Gavin’s eagerness to move what’s left of the company to Georgia made some sense before he clarified that he meant the country and not the state, a situation that Hoover and Denpak cleverly schemed to prevent from happening. Tracy’s power play with Gilfoyle was extremely entertaining, and even he recognized and acknowledged her skill in executing it.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 5 “Dangerous Liaisons” (B-)

I feel like there was a point recently on “The Flash” where Barry got so angry about what was going on that he couldn’t really contain it anymore, and it seems like Kara is reaching that headspace now. She’s playing dumb with William pretending to look randomly for clues so that she can stay close to what’s going on, and she’s not getting very far, which is frustrating her as the people around her continue to be in harm’s way. There are so many threats that she’s not even aware of, namely Lena, who has successfully mastered mind control over Ma'alefa'ak, an impressive feat considering how he was able to knock Eve over when she tried to take the first step earlier in the episode. Andrea isn’t the head honcho at Leviathan but she’s definitely involved, and the four-armed villain that William was so sure had killed his best friend is – unsurprisingly – none other than that same friend, somehow transformed into a mindless agent of destruction who just follows orders. It’s a good thing that Dreamer is on call to be able to stop giant tidal waves capable of killing billions, and at least every one of the super friends seems to be contributing something to the operation. The virtual mega-launch with the contact lenses was pretty creepy, and the metaphor of the wave crashing down on them was far from subtle. Kelly’s concern about losing another partner on the frontlines really got to her, but Alex’s gift of a helmet may have provided just the right amount of comfort for the time being.

What I’m Watching: The Affair (Series Finale)

The Affair: Season 5, Episode 11

Well, this journey is finally done. I actually found this episode to be mostly decent, though it didn’t necessitate an entire season of half-perspectives that felt entirely tangential to the main story, whatever that still was. Ruth Wilson’s decision to leave the show probably should have ended it since her absence was truly felt, and only in this final hour did it seem worthwhile to have her felt rather than seen. I’m not sure what the significance of the names without a numbered part was supposed to be, and I’d assume there wasn’t any since that device has been without purpose for a while now. It was strange to have the episode open with Noah choreographing a flash mob dance, but I guess the point was that Noah was doing so much for this wedding only to sit all by himself in a motel room reading a book while everyone else was dancing. He even bonded with Colin, a fairly worthless character who didn’t contribute much, and Whitney was far from kind to everyone on her wedding day until she convinced her siblings to help her stage an escape with the help of a conveniently lucid Bruce. We’ve barely seen any of them except for Whitney, so their sudden relevance was weird, but at least the whole Solloway family got some sort of happy ending. I was surprised that Noah and Joanie didn’t recognize each other when they met since it seemed from her previous conversations with EJ that she was well aware of who he was, and I’m glad they got their therapeutic moment later which also helped to repair Alison’s reputation in her daughter’s mind. The reveal that EJ was Eddy was something I didn’t see coming, and helps to explain how he fit in there, similarly to Sierra, attached but without a true defined role. I still feel that this final season was probably unnecessary, and I’d point any interested viewers to the first two seasons of this show and recommend that they stop there to preserve an entirely positive perspective.

Series finale: B
Series grade: B
Season MVP: Maura Tierney as Helen
Season grade: B-
Series MVP: Maura Tierney as Helen
Best Season: Season 1
Best Episode: Episode 107

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Take Three: Watchmen

Watchmen: Season 1, Episode 3 “She Was Killed by Space Junk” (B+)

I thought I had seen Jean Smart’s name in the list of cast members for this show, and her first appearance delivered extraordinarily. The three-time Emmy winner has a similar role here to the one she had on “Legion,” communicating with a distant former lover whose messages she wasn’t entirely sure he could hear and aware of far more than the young generation can understand. The extended joke she was recording for Dr. Manhattan was unsettling, and she kicked into high gear immediately when she staged a bank robbery surrounded entirely by FBI agents to set a trap for a vigilante. Asking about the man’s civil rights having been violated before expressing that she didn’t care was an unexpected moment, and she demonstrated her no-nonsense attitude when she shot the bomber in the head just as Senator Keane was about to go with him. She’s a proper partner for Sister Night, just as committed to figuring out what happened, but neither of them seem eager to work with anyone else. I’m trying to let this show speak for itself but also doing a bit of research on who these characters are, namely that Laurie, also known as Silk Spectre, was played by Malin Akerman in the 2009 movie, and Jeremy Irons’ Adrian Veidt is the former Ozymandias, portrayed by Matthew Goode in the film. I like that, with the exception of Adrian, most of the characters are gathered together in Tulsa trying to assess the threats against them, sure to offer some very intriguing developments in the near future.

What I’m Watching: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Fighter” (C)

Every episode, our friends get brasher and brasher, bursting in uninvited to invade someone’s privacy and blow up their life, unconcerned what they might initially think because they’re just that confident that they’re in the right. It helps their case when a former skeptic like Ray is the one making an introduction. I’d still say it’s a bit cavalier to just laugh off accusations of domestic violence when the situation is revealed to be something else entirely, but there’s no accounting for style with this crowd. Similarly, the way in which they so freely hack into people’s data like it’s some sort of puzzle to be assembled is unsettling, and they’re not even slightly bothered by it. The devotion they have to the God account is not unlike a religion, especially since they’re attributing such power to it, including the appointment of Arthur as the new bishop of New York. He did not learn his lesson from his chief of staff gig and decided once again not to tell the people most important to him until after he had already made the decision and taken steps to move forward with it, and it’s hard to know how he thought Trish would respond when he knew all along that she didn’t approve and was looking forward to some time for just the two of them. Since the mystery has to take certain stage, Miles is continuing along on his (indulged) delusions of grandeur by finding the elusive artist and proclaiming himself to be the one designed for the message hidden in her work.

What I’m Watching: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 5 “Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale” (C+)

This episode’s title was unfortunately accurate, signifying a larger trend that this show just isn’t getting off the ground. I’m on board at least through episode eight when the mega-crossover begins, but as I realize that I’m watching too much television and should really give something up, this feels like the strongest candidate for that dishonor. It seemed like we were getting a new villain in the form of the Skin Pirate, an unappealing moniker for a disturbing obsession, but it turns out that was just Alice, who got captured by Kate before turning the tables on her by bringing her to a diner and encouraging her to order an obviously spiked beer. Alice’s story was indeed unsettling, featuring her lengthy captivity by a predatory man who also kept his own son hidden from the world, and I have little desire to see what comes of that. The fact that Jacob and Kate came so close to finding Beth only to be tricked into abandoning her is lamentable, and it’s hard to understand why Alice blames them given what she knows about how they were made to believe she was dead. The writing on this show isn’t great, and the emphasis on Alice in Wonderland puns is tiresome at best. Jacob now knows that Alice is Beth, but he’s still most concerned with the daughter who hasn’t become an eager killer. Sophie should have total confirmation now that Kate is Batwoman, but she’ll likely not act on that knowledge anytime soon. The most worthwhile, if still overdone, part of the episode was Mary irritating the hell out of Luke while proclaiming just how sorry she was on behalf of her mother’s actions to her dear sister.

Take Three: Living with Yourself

Living with Yourself: Season 1, Episode 3 “Green Tea” (B-)

I found this episode to be tiresome, and my desire to be a devoted fan isn’t exactly being fulfilled. Miles was doing a decent job of creating a helpful balance between his two selves, somehow managing to allay questions from his wife about his major money withdrawal and finding time to pursue his passions while his other self was a true superstar at work. Watching him set up in the morning when his clone left right after Kate did felt almost rhythmic, though it’s understand that eventually he was going to find it unsustainable. I’m not sure what to make of Jerry Adler from “Rescue Me” and “The Good Wife” as Mr. Hillston, who was obsessed with the fanciest possible pork, served with a side of terrifying stories from his time in a concentration camp sending an innocent boy off to be killed. Why that was included makes little sense to me, and I think the character could have been drawn differently and still prompted a similar response from Miles. I was ready to give up on this show completely, but then the final scene had to go and really change everything, making me wonder if it’s about to finally get undeniably interesting. Dan spotted the other Miles approaching and seemed to realize that something was going on, though he doesn’t necessarily know that his amazing treatment was actually a cloning operation since his former self didn’t survive. The combination of finishing the punchline and the music worked well to convince me that at least one more episode might be worth it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Take Three: Modern Love

Modern Love: Season 1, Episode 3 “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” (B)

It’s probably an improper choice of words to describe Anne Hathaway as a polarizing actress. Some really like her, and it’s hard to deny the impact of certain performances of hers, namely “Rachel Getting Married,” the one that won me over, and her Oscar-winning turn in “Les Miserables.” Watching the first half of this episode, I had the impression that she was miscast, though it made some more sense as the episode went on and more about Lexi was revealed. She was irritatingly energetic and positive when she first met Jeff in the supermarket, coming on very strong and ready to move forward with the relationship without a moment’s thought. Seeing her sink into a depression shortly after changed the tone of the episode, and Jeff was rather impolite in response to her total shift in mood, though he didn’t understand that it wasn’t merely disinterest but rather an inability to simply put on a happy face. It was undeniably weird, but there was something endearing about her dated theme song with a special appearance by Judd Hirsch. It was cool to see how Lexi being honest with her (former) coworker enabled her to realize that she wasn’t alone, and that being honest with other people about being bipolar could actually have very positive effects. I’m sure that’s not a universal thing, but it was sweet to see it, and to watch as Lexi came out of her shell and repaired a number of relationships by being honest and opening up to others about what she needs.

What I’m Watching: The Politician

The Politician: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Assassination of Payton Hobart” (B)

This episode, twice the length of the last installment, felt more than a bit overstuffed. I’m hopeful that news of this show being renewed for a second season, which has been circulated but not confirmed, is indeed true since there’s a whole lot more left to explore here. Astrid dropping out of the race so that Payton’s victory was meaningless was the ultimate power play, and it was even more crippling for Payton to discover that his big ideas about water fountains and other projects weren’t even considered, mainly because Principal Vaughn didn’t respect him. The fact that he lost by two votes shouldn’t matter much, but to him it will mean everything, as will Vaughn’s comparison of him to Gerald Ford rather than Barack Obama. I like that Payton and Infinity, and apparently Ricardo, are starring in the school production of “Assassins,” further fueling this show’s presidential obsession, and things got much more dramatic towards the end of the episode when Ricardo’s possum poison plan was revealed. McAfee is a real punching bag on this show, getting dumped by Skye after she accused her of lacing the icing and then told by Payton that she couldn’t be trusted anymore. Payton can use any friends he has left now that he’s been shot and potentially poisoned, and hopefully his mother won’t blame him for forcing her to give up her Montana dream escape. I honestly have no clue what comes next, and two episodes probably won’t be enough to satisfactorily process it all.

What I’m Watching: Undone (Season Finale)

Undone: Season 1, Episode 8 “That Halloween Night” (B+)

I don’t know how else this season could have ended, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t know yet if this will be it or if intelligent minds will decide that this incredible story should be permitted to continue. I for one am totally one board with that idea, though it’s not clear if the way this episode concluded was meant to leave it all up to the imagination. Alma’s ability to bring Jacob back with her to the night that he left was very impressive, and she gleaned some very crucial information that her father either neglected to tell her or was no longer able to recall because of the circumstances of his temporal reincarnation. Seeing her mother at the lab to confront Jacob about Alma saying that he had experimented on her was a monumental discovery, and Camila divorcing Jacob was yet another thing he hadn’t mentioned. Jacob evidently realized what was going on and tried to send her back to the moment they started, but Alma has evolved beyond being controlled. Finding out that no one killed him and that it was him who drove the car off the road in some twisted attempt to get rid of Farnaz was devastating, but it does resolve one mystery which Jacob may in fact have need help unpacking. Sam trying to work with Camila to get Alma help showed that he didn’t really believe what she said, but Camila confirmed what Alma had seen during her last trip into the past. Becca coming to find her and support her was a sweet way to end, and I won’t soon stop thinking about this show, its potential, and the extraordinary vision it has presented about time, perception, and the meaning of life. I don’t know what kind of awards it might contend for, but it deserves a lot!

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Rosa Salazar as Alma

What I’m Watching: Unbelievable (Series Finale)

Unbelievable: Season 1, Episode 8 (B+)

I’ve previously encountered actor Eric Lange on shows like “Lost,” “The Bridge,” and “Narcos,” portraying unlikeable characters who aren’t terribly friendly. I thought that he had been cast in an unspectacular role here as Detective Parker, but his performance in this episode demonstrates why he was just the man for the job. The phone call from Grace prompted his typical response, that Marie had actually been lying and that they had to charge her with making a false report, but then the look on his face when he started to understand how wrong he had been conveyed his deep sense of regret over what happened. While Marie wasn’t terribly receptive to the information that he came to surprise her with, Detective Pruitt didn’t even feel the need to apologize when he had been even more aggressive in demeaning her. It was affirming to see her take charge and decide to sue the city, not concerned with trying to get more than she thought would be enough to be able to help her get her life back together. The perpetrator’s refusal to share the password that would only incriminate him further made sense, and Karen stood in for the audience with her incredulousness at his getting to make demands. This series strongly and powerfully dramatized a real-life case, which I’m sure is very triggering and upsetting for many viewers. All three leading actresses turned in truly fantastic performances. I hope they’ll be recognized come Emmy time along with the show itself.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Merritt Wever as Grace

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Pilot Review: Dickinson

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: The Morning Show

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: For All Mankind

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: See

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.

Monday, November 4, 2019

AFT Awards: Best Comedy Series

This is the twentieth and final 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 Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Barry, The End of the F***ing World, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Santa Clarita Diet

Emmy nominees: Barry, Fleabag, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Russian Doll, Schitt’s Creek, Veep

Finalists: Barry, Casual, Dead to Me, Insecure, Jane the Virgin, Shameless

The nominees:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Good Place

The winner:

Fleabag churned thoughtful, surprising comedy out in plentiful portions with a remarkable urgency that is all too often reserved for dramas.

Next up: That’s a wrap! It’s almost Oscar time – head over to for complete coverage!

AFT Awards: Best Drama Series

This is the nineteenth 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 Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Counterpart, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Narcos, Stranger Things

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

Finalists: Game of Thrones

The nominees:

Doom Patrol
Better Call Saul
Narcos: Mexico

The winner:

Counterpart improved on an already mesmerizing first season as it dug deeper into the subtle divisions between its two equally compelling worlds.

Next up: Best Comedy Series

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 2 “Pappa Mia” (B-)

This episode had its entertaining moments but was decidedly over the top on all fronts. Both Will and Grace seem to be set on having the babies they first mentioned and discovered last week, and now it’s a matter of how and who to parent. Will’s concern about having a son who’s straight led to some humorous antics with Jack being shockingly good at basketball because he learned how to play the sport so that he could get a part in a play. I wasn’t too into Jack’s horrifyingly-bent finger that caused him to pass out multiple times in a row, though at least Will scored a win when the nurse was impressed with how good a dad he was to the grown man she thought was his son, who claimed incorrectly to not have been alive in 1976 (Sean Hayes was actually born in 1970). Reid Scott returned just as quickly as I expected to play Marcus, who insisted on serial killer lefthandness running in his family and a vasectomy he didn’t actually have. Karen was delighted to be able to drag in the three men that she somehow found who Grace had slept with in Europe, all of whom didn’t represent themselves entirely honestly. I most enjoyed Paul Ben-Victor, a familiar face from “In Plain Sight” and other projects, putting on an accent to play the Italian taxi driver who didn’t represent Grace. The college student Steve Buscemi was fun too, and though Grace has vowed that she’s going to do this on her own, I think that Marcus will probably be back at some point before the show ends.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 6 “A Chip Driver Mystery” (B)

I’m not sure exactly where things are going at the moment, though Michael seems confident enough, and releasing Bad Janet out of the kindness of his (demon) heart shows that he might just have a plan up his (human suit) sleeve. While John is an unrepentant gossip, Brent is the truly deplorable resident of the good place, so obsessed with his own superiority that he’s blind to anything going on around him. His three-and-a-half-themes book seemed truly awful, and his desire for praise from everyone revealed a need to be respected, something that he’s now only starting to see isn’t even close to true. I like that it was Tahani and not Simone who had an outburst and shared her sincere opinions with him, though it appeared to bounce off of him since he’s entirely unable to hear any criticism since he believes that he’s actually in the good place. I’d love to see these characters, particularly Chidi and Simone, realize just like Eleanor that they’re actually not in the good place, but it doesn’t seem like that’s likely. Chidi stepping in to interfere was unexpected, and it’s always nice to see some atypical behavior from a character who tends to revert to certain tendencies. Jason was full of only mildly useful and mostly terrible ideas, namely setting himself on fire, and I think that Brent isn’t even capable of being tricked into doing something good for someone else. With the final season almost half over, this team could use a win, one they’ll probably get from Shawn coming undone after reading Michael’s triumphant manifesto.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

AFT Awards: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

This is the eighteenth 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 Ensemble in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: The Good Place, Loaded, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, People of Earth, Santa Clarita Diet

Finalists: None

The nominees:

The Good Place
Jane the Virgin

The winner:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel artfully mimicked another era thanks to the contributions of each one of the members of its rich ensemble.

Next up: Best Drama Series

AFT Awards: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

This is the seventeenth 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 Ensemble in a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: Good Behavior, The Handmaid’s Tale, Narcos, Sneaky Pete, Stranger Things

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Game of Thrones

The winner:

Doom Patrol brought together a band of super-powered misfits made fantastically and often hilarious real by the excellent team of actors portraying them.

Next up: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Writing in a Comedy Series

This is the sixteenth 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 Writing in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Chapter One: Make Your Mark (Barry), The Burrito (The Good Place), Pilot (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), A Change of Heart (Santa Clarita Diet), Kimmy Disrupts the Paradigm! (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

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

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Everything Is Bonzer (The Good Place)
Janet(s) (The Good Place)
Finale (Casual)
Episode 6 (Fleabag)

The winner:

Episode 1 (Fleabag) reintroduced audiences to its characters after a long absence in the most utterly creative and twistedly delightful way.

Next up: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

AFT Awards: Best Directing in a Comedy Series

This is the fifteenth 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 Directing in a Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees: Episode 1 (The End of the F***ing World), Dance Dance Resolution (The Good Place), The Expo (Loaded), Pilot (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), The Most Popular Boy (Vice Principals)

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

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Episode 1 (Fleabag)
Finale (Casual)
Midnight at the Concord (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Episode 6 (Fleabag)

The winner:

Ne Me Quitte Pas (Ramy) felt like a magical dream, zooming out from its protagonist’s worldview to show a distinctly different and extremely worthwhile perspective.

Next up: Best Writing in a Comedy Series

Saturday, November 2, 2019

AFT Awards: Best Writing for a Drama Series

This is the fourteenth 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 Writing for a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: The Crossing (Counterpart), The Sincerest Form of Flattery (Counterpart), Beyond the Wall (Game of Thrones), Pilot (Good Girls), Smart Power (The Handmaid’s Tale)

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

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Pilot (Doom Patrol)
The Word (The Handmaid's Tale)
The Comedian (The Twilight Zone)
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (Game of Thrones)

The winner:

Twin Cities (Counterpart) mesmerizingly traced the divergent genesis of its two worlds, capturing the effects of even the smallest of different actions.

Next up: Best Directing in a Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Directing for a Drama Series

This is the thirteenth 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 Directing for a Drama Series

Last year’s nominees: The Sincerest Form of Flattery (Counterpart), I Think It’s a Sign (Good Behavior), Unwomen (The Handmaid’s Tale), Impact (Lost in Space), eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00 (Mr. Robot)

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

Finalists: None

The nominees:

Twin Cities (Counterpart)
The Long Night (Game of Thrones)
Pilot (Doom Patrol)
Replay (The Twilight Zone)

The winner:

Episode 1 (Bodyguard) was a taut, gripping hour of television that never let up for a moment, immediately inviting viewers into its concentrated universe.

Next up: Best Writing for a Drama Series

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 6 “The Club” (B)

This season has really been framing all of its episodes with a certain pivotal event or place, and in this case, that was golf, which I didn’t find to be quite as relevant or stirring as other recent devices. It was most interesting to see how Jack responded to Randall expressing such closeness to Mr. Lawrence, with whom he apparently bonded after getting written up on day one, concerned more about the fact that his teacher wasn’t communicating what he was going through to his parents. Jack’s own time on the golf course as a younger man with his father-in-law was a puzzling display of boldness, since he got far drunker than he should in a questionable effort to show Dave that he wasn’t going to go away and abandon a future with his daughter. Randall’s performance was exceedingly poor despite that initial training with his father, though it appears that, after all of it, he managed to achieve his original aim, which was to rectify an important relationship he might have damaged by being pulled in too many different directions. The opening montage of Kate and Toby’s relationship was very sweet, and it was really great to see that problematic fight resolved with Kate cutting up the wrong pair of Toby’s pants to demonstrate her acceptance of what he had been through and his desire not to go back. It’s about time Cassidy realized that she was attracted to Kevin, and they’ve definitely reached a new level that’s going to make whatever eventual breakup might happen especially painful.