Saturday, November 30, 2019

What I’m Watching: Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher: Season 1, Episode 5 “Invisible Fence” (B+)

Eve just can’t really catch a break. She tried her best to come on to a guy at the party she went to with Margo, bossing him around and playing rather hard to get only to have him get far too into the role play and then not even concern himself with her satisfaction after they ditched the bathroom for his bedroom. Leading with a line about how she watches a lot of porn probably wasn’t her best bet, and that meant that, despite enjoying a large slice of pizza, she ended the night passed out on her bed, unaware that someone who would have done whatever it was she wanted was texting her that he couldn’t stop thinking about her. It’s interesting to contrast Eve’s experiences with those of her son, who again has no clue what to say when he’s around people he doesn’t quite understand. Chloe dressed him down in a fantastic way by pointing out that he’s uncomfortable for the first time in a way that most people are all the time, and for some reason she still felt he deserved a kiss for his lackluster efforts. Zack didn’t seem pleased at all with Brendan’s intrusion into this part of his life and his forced nonchalance about his sexual orientation, and I wonder how that will affect their friendship going forward. We can all cheer for Curtis and Margo, who managed to get together despite some initial awkwardness and will now just have to navigate what their relationship looks like when they get back to class.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 6, Episode 5 “Tethics” (B+)

I’m pretty familiar with the typical format of this show and all of its episodes, but I was pretty proud of myself that I knew as soon as Richard told Gavin that he was well aware of all the plagiarism he had done that he was going to find a way to screw him in confessing to his many misdeeds. Richard impressed by identifying a line from his code of “tethics” from a restaurant menu, and, unfortunately, he went about it the wrong way and managed to get himself into serious trouble following his nervousness about not knowing how to act when things were going well for a change. I was curious why we were seeing Russ at the start of the episode, worrying that it might just be a moderately worthwhile parade of former players before this show’s finale, but his absurd “Mad Max: Fury Road” takeoff turned out to be a potential saving grace for Richard and everyone at Pied Piper. Getting into business with him is definitely going to be a bad idea, but I’m sure it will be an adventure. Dinesh would get a terrible allergic reaction from stealing the lei that was supposed to be worn by his unbearable underling who stole his first class upgrade, and of course it would happen when he was supposed to be soaking in the sun in Hawaii. My favorite part of the episode was watching Monica and Gilfoyle compete for who could get the most people to like them to improve their interpersonal ratings, something they settled by tanking the entire system to get back at Tracy.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 8 “408 Request Timeout” (B)

I liked parts of this episode, but this season has been so much in chaos mode that it’s hard for anything real or concrete to be accomplished by anyone. Elliot was completely stuck in a flashback to his childhood with Angela, someone I’ve forgotten about even though she was a big part of this show for most of its run. The fact that Krista still wants to help him is surprising given what she endured, and Elliot is lucky to have her looking out for him. After he followed his younger self down the rabbit hole, it was powerful to see Mr. Robot show up again and reassure Elliot that he was never his father but instead, as Elliot confirmed, the father he needed. I wasn’t optimistic about Darlene and Dom surviving being held hostage and tortured by Janice, and seeing her minions burst into Dom’s family’s home so that they could grab all of them to use as pawns was an unsettling development that seemed like it could turn very ugly. Janice telling Darlene about Dom pleasuring herself to the interrogation video was actually probably helpful because it made Darlene realize how Dom felt about her. Ultimately, it was Dom who saved the day, with her new friend Deegan assuring her family’s safety and Dom, who was bleeding out on the ground, managing to take out all three of their captors almost instantly. It’s sad that she isn’t going to make it, but she made sure her family was okay and gave Darlene and Elliot a fighting chance to succeed.

Friday, November 29, 2019

What I’m Watching: Watchmen

Watchmen: Season 1, Episode 6 “This Extraordinary Being” (B+)

This episode didn’t introduce us to a new character, but it did give us some deep and crucial breakdown on one we had already met. It was very disorienting to see Angela experience Will’s memories, occasionally showing up in his clothes to represent how she was living in these moments. Laurie was likely right that it’s not a good idea to take someone else’s pills since you could easily lose yourself, and even if Angela was willing herself not to be pulled out of it when her husband came to remind her who she was, she definitely wasn’t fully in control of the situation. I like that things we’ve seen before, like the movie playing in the theater in 1921 that was interrupted by the race riot, are being brought back into the story in a coherent and significant way, and opening this hour with the TV show starring Cheyenne Jackson as Hooded Justice was informative because it showed what the American public actually knows and what they absolutely don’t. This origin story was powerful, and Jovan Adepo from “The Leftovers” was a solid choice to play the young Will. I didn’t realize that it was Jake McDorman from “Limitless” playing Nelson Gardner, who initially seemed like a great ally for Will until he told him to deal with the black community’s problems all on his own. The most memorable guest star of this hour was the eternally dependable Glenn Fleshler, who has appeared in shows like “Boardwalk Empire” and “Billions,” as the man who burned down a Jewish deli, told Will that he wouldn’t remain in custody, and then didn’t even remember him when he met his death at Will’s hands. The mind-control video was disturbing, and, though we skipped over some years and details, it’s apparently what Will used to get Judd to hang himself. I’m completely hooked and eager to learn more.

What I’m Watching: Shameless


Shameless: Season 10, Episode 3 “Which America?” (B+)

I’m glad to see that, despite a first visit that ended with a shotgun blast aimed right at Frank, Liam has managed to find himself a good black role model to help him learn more about his heritage. Mavar seems like a nice enough guy, though his quick denial of his homosexuality hit Kev the wrong way, prompting this absurd exercise to try to find Veronica a new best friend who was a woman and far less harmful to the state of his manhood. It may have worked, even if he got a whole lot of people mad at him for wasting their time when he wasn’t actually looking for someone to date. If there’s one positive instance of friendship on this show, it’s the one that’s formed between Frank and Mikey. There aren’t many people Frank would value over himself, taking them to get medical attention and sticking by them throughout the entire process. If only they had nobler aims than stealing all of the stuff that Debs had bought to later return, screwing her up completely, a situation that only got worse when Debs showed up to find a union protest started that could last for months. She went from being on board with all the potential benefits she could get to eagerly asking how she could apply to be a scab very quickly. Mickey letting Ian go was an entertaining and ultimately sweet process, and no one else had to get stabbed in the process! It’s no surprise that Carl is dealing with the same sexual harassment from his boss that used to happen, but his desire to start a relationship with Anne while he’s already dating Kelly is all on him, a very Gallagher sort of self-sabotage. Even if she struggled to hold the baby because she was in so much pain, it was good to see Tami again, alert enough to reassure me and other viewers that she’ll be in this with Lip.

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Amy Adams (Sharp Objects)
Patricia Arquette (Escape at Dannemora)
Connie Britton (Dirty John)
Laura Dern (The Tale)
Regina King (Seven Seconds)

I don’t always predict this category in such detail, but given that, once again, I’ve seen a lot of the first episodes of these limited series and actors, I figured it was worth writing about it. Emmy nominees Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon), Joey King (The Act), and Niecy Nash (When They See Us) are likely to be included. Helen Mirren (Catherine the Great) seems like a sure thing. I’m pulling for Merritt Wever (Unbelievable), and I’d love to see her costar Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable) also nominated. Kathryn Hahn (Mrs. Fletcher) would be a great choice too. Miley Cyrus (Black Mirror), Renee Zellweger (What/If), and Kerry Washington (American Son) could also show up, as could any number of others I’m not considering.

Current predictions:
Kathryn Hahn (Mrs. Fletcher)
Joey King (The Act)
Helen Mirren (Catherine the Great)
Merritt Wever (Unbelievable)
Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Antonio Banderas (Genius: Picasso)
Daniel Bruhl (The Alienist)
Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Patrick Melrose)
Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal)

I don’t always predict this category in such detail, but given that, once again, I’ve seen a lot of the first episodes of these limited series and actors, I figured it was worth writing about it. Expect Emmy nominees Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us), Jared Harris (Chernobyl), and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon) to show up. Enthusiasm for the project may propel Aaron Paul (El Camino) to a bid even if Globe voters were never as into him as the Emmy Awards were. Sacha Baron Cohen (Spy), a nominee last year for his comedy series work, seems like a good bet, and there are a few others in contention, including Russell Crowe (The Loudest Voice), who I’d love to see nominated, Benedict Cumberbatch (Brexit), Idris Elba (Luther), and plenty more.

Current predictions:
Sacha Baron Cohen (Spy)
Russell Crowe (The Loudest Voice)
Jared Harris (Chernobyl)
Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us)
Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown)
Alison Brie (GLOW)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Debra Messing (Will and Grace)

New contenders:
Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)
Kirsten Dunst (On Becoming a God in Central Florida)
Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll)
Hailee Steinfeld (Dickinson)

Potential first-time nominees:
Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Returning series:
Helen Hunt (Mad About You)

Past nominees:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Unlike most of the other races, this category could remain mostly intact, with only Bergen out of the running for sure. I wouldn’t bet on Messing returning, and Brie and Bell are also unlikely. Two-time defending champion Brosnahan should be back, and she might face Louis-Dreyfus, whose prominence at the Emmys far outweighs her mentions here. Count on Waller-Bridge to show up and likely win, and Lyonne and Dunst are good bets too. I’m not sure about Applegate, and I have a feeling that Hunt could end up here instead. This is a competitive category, and I’m not sure what to expect.

Current predictions:
Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Kirsten Dunst (On Becoming a God in Central Florida)
Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Jim Carrey (Kidding)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Who Is America)

New contenders:
Don Cheadle (Black Monday)
Ricky Gervais (After Life)
Danny McBride (The Righteous Gemstones)
Ben Platt (The Politician)
Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself)
Ramy Youssef (Ramy)

Potential first-time nominees:
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek)

Returning series:
Paul Reiser (Mad About You)

Past nominees:
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Eric McCormack (Will and Grace)
William H. Macy (Shameless)

Only two of last year’s nominees are even eligible to return, thanks to delayed new seasons for Carrey and Glover and the cancellation of Baron Cohen’s. The new list seems pretty set, though this category is sure to give us surprises. Douglas won this race last year and Hader won the Emmy twice in a row, so expect them both to be back. This is probably the time that Danson finally breaks through after two Emmy nominations, and Rudd and Platt seem like strong choices to fill the rest of the lineup. Cheadle is always possible since he’s a favorite in this category, and there are any number of other options. Let’s see how this one plays out.

Current predictions:
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Bill Hader (Barry)
Ben Platt (The Politician)
Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Caitriona Balfe (Outlander)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Julia Roberts (Homecoming)
Keri Russell (The Americans)

New contenders:
Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)
Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Regina King (Watchmen)
Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show)
Zendaya (Euphoria)

Potential first-time nominees:
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Mj Rodriguez (Pose)
Sarah Snook (Succession)

Newly eligible in this category:
Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies)
Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies)

Past nominees:
Mandy Moore (This Is Us)

This list is likely to experience a major shakeup, even with three of its nominees eligible again. I’d think that Balfe is finally off the list after unexpected returns each year, and Moss is probably gone too after her show, which won the top category two years ago, was less off last year. The winner of this award last year, Oh, would have been a shoo-in had her costar Jodie Comer not beat her for the Emmy, so it’s possibly both, neither, or just one of them will make the cut. There are two other duos who are strong contenders: Kidman and Witherspoon, last nominated in the miniseries race for the first season of their show. The other pair is Aniston and Witherspoon again for Apple TV Plus’ new flagship show. I see a scenario in which Witherspoon gets two nominations, but I’m just not sure. The other contender to depend on to be here is Colman, an Oscar winner last year taking over for Claire Foy, who won this category three years ago for the same role. Other possibilities include King, who is more beloved by the Emmy Awards than Globe voters, and Zendaya, both of whom star on hot new HBO shows. I’d expect some surprises here in this very crowded field.

Current predictions:
Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)
Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies)
Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama


Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Stephan James (Homecoming)
Richard Madden (Bodyguard)
Billy Porter (Pose)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

New contenders:
Kevin Bacon (City on a Hill)
Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Jason Momoa (See)
Forest Whitaker (Godfather of Harlem)

Potential first-time nominees:
Brian Cox (Succession)
Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter)
Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
Jeremy Strong (Succesion)

Past nominees:
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)
Billy Bob Thornton (Goliath)

Last year offered a good number of surprises, and this year, only two of them are in the running again. That would be Emmy winner Porter and SAG winner Bateman, both of whom are likely to return but not guaranteed. It’s a good bet that Menzies will be included because he’s a past Globe nominee for his role on “Outlander” and now stars on a revered series with a brand-new cast. It’s actually likely that the other nominees will come from returning rather than new shows, with both Cox and Strong likely to make up for lackluster enthusiasm for their show last year and Groff also a potential beneficiary of delayed buzz. Harington is probable but far from guaranteed since Globe voters have never embraced his show too warmly. I feel like we’ll get an odd inclusion here like Bacon, but I’m really not sure what to expect – the actress and comedy races are much richer with candidates.

Current predictions:
Brian Cox (Succession)
Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Billy Porter (Pose) Jeremy Strong/b> (Succession)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan


Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 2 “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (B)

I’m not surprised, but I’m also not pleased. I wasn’t feeling great about this show continuing to be on the air, but if something had really changed, like say Mickey being dead and Ray needing to move on from that certainty, that might be different. Instead, Mickey managed to fake his own death, though I would have thought that the detective trailing Ray could easily have seen him come in and knock on the door at his own unofficial memorial service. This just feels like doing the same thing over and over again, and we already had to suffer through a season of slowly losing Abby through flashbacks, a creative choice I didn’t love. What I did appreciate more about this episode was Bunchy’s newfound fearlessness, a far cry from his last response to being held up, which enabled him to take down the would-be robbers and save the day. Terry and Daryll also rarely interact, and so their rather blunt conversation was entertaining and enlightening. Lena making Bridget promise that she won’t get pregnant with either her boss’ baby or Smitty’s was some worthwhile advice, and I wonder whether her return to Los Angeles means we won’t see her anymore. Smitty sure didn’t seem too comfortable with all the stories of shooting priests that were being shared so freely around the family circle. At least they’re all united in their efforts to cover up their role in the death of those three cops, though the likelihood of them getting away with it seems to be dwindling with every new development.

What I’m Watching: God Friended Me

God Friended Me: Season 2, Episode 9 “Prophet and Loss” (B-)

Though it makes for some relative melancholy viewing, I’m glad to see that Miles is finally experiencing the consequences of his actions. Susan telling him that she knows how the God account works and was wondering where their happy ending was really stung, and now Miles has lost Cara by letting himself get in the way when he tried to argue that it was the God account doing it. Obviously they’re going to have to work to get back together at some point, like Rakesh has now been motivated to do with Jaya, but it took them long enough to realize their attraction to one another, so I wouldn’t count on anything happening too quickly. My wife immediately recognized Paul from actor Tom Everett Scott’s role as Mike on “I’m Sorry,” which made me think he'd be particularly nice, which of course he was. Going along with a scheme he knew wasn’t entirely lawful was a mistake, but at least his only concern was with protecting his family, even if he was trying to go about that the wrong way. Arthur should have learned by now that he really has to be honest with Trish about everything rather than waiting for one of his kids to fill her in on whatever he was doing or contemplating. It wasn’t like him to dismiss a challenger rather than try to work for them, but getting rid of Reverend Elias seems to have been the right choice in this case. William Sadler, a familiar actor who I think I first saw in “Die Hard 2” nearly thirty years ago, was a solid choice to play the rather unpleasant traditional reverend.

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 3, Episode 2 “Margaretology” (B+)

Now this was a great episode, one that all but assures that Helena Bonham Carter will provide a fierce challenge to Meryl Streep in “Big Little Lies” at next fall’s Emmy Awards. I was excited to see Carter in this role, and her awards chances are considerably stronger than Vanessa Kirby’s simply because she has a much higher profile. She was also terrific here, acting in exactly the way that her onscreen sister dreaded. Interestingly, Margaret’s behavior in front of President Johnson probably made him more sympathetic to the crown since she represented the opposite of the fancy stuffiness he so despised, and he got to take a shot at Kennedy in front of an audience because she did it first. I recognized actor Clancy Brown from “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Carnivale” by his voice, and I think he was a great choice to play Johnson, who has little affinity for much of what his office requires, not all that dissimilar from Margaret. Tony continues to be a miserable presence, constantly negative and selfish, giving Margaret a run for her money. I remember actor Ben Daniels from the film “The Exception,” and he’s a good fit in this part, taking the role over from Emmy nominee Matthew Goode. Elizabeth getting the play-by-play about Margaret’s misdeeds was entertaining, and we got a more serious look at the history of the two sisters with the flashback to their childhood, when Margaret tried to buck traditional inheritance and take charge of what she believed was rightfully hers. Let’s see more of Margaret this season, please!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Round Two: Dollface

Dollface: Season 1, Episode 2 “Homebody” (B)

I want to like this show, and I’m up for giving it another shot. At this point, it doesn’t feel vital just yet, and I’m not sure how sustainably interesting it is. Its gimmick was present at the start of the episode with the demeaning workout app that kept minimizing her goals, and then it showed up again when she had to physically hold the table together as it was opening up. Getting stuck in the parka was a more literal interpretation of her misery, and shattering the wrong kind of glass while asking her boss, played by Malin Akerman from “Billions,” for a raise was just unfortunate. Like her character on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Esther Povitsky’s Izzy is a little much, not aware of just how terrible a roommate she makes. She also managed to mess things up between Madison and Stella for Jules, but at least they seem like they’re settling after they convened at the hospital and then to retake some of the space owed to them from the completely clueless and obnoxious Jeremy. Wanting to be platonic roommates while he prepares for his sister’s wedding and tries to find a new girlfriend on a dating app is far from wise, and good for the eternally apologetic Jules for finally trying to claim something for herself. I like Kat Dennings a lot and I still think she’s perfect for this role. I hope that as Jules gains more confidence, Dennings will rise to the occasion and truly deliver as she has in lesser roles.

What I’m Watching: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 1, Episode 4 “That Woman” (B+)

I’m pleased to see that, after the initial three-episode premiere, this show isn’t showing any signs of letting up. I thought that the big moment of the hour was going to come when Bradley accidentally revealed that she had an abortion at age fifteen on live television, but it turns out that she was more than ready to try for authenticity after that hammed-up fabrication of her childhood with her mom when she got to sit down and talk to Mitch’s accuser. Fred always goes berserk whenever something starts to happen, Chip gets angry, and Cory just gets excited, eager for it to keep going so that the show can actually be dynamic and interesting. There’s only so much more that both Bradley and Alex can do and get away with, though I guess they have the benefit of their on-air presences to prevent too many penalties since audiences get to react before the producers and network executives. As an investigator is brought in to interview everyone about Mitch, I’m appreciating the focus on Yanko and Claire, and I’m thrilled for the showcase for actress Bel Powley, who argues that she has the power imbalance over him rather than the other way around. Mia being revealed as the one who reported Mitch without the intention of getting him fired is interesting, and Bradley sure pushed her without understanding the whole picture. I can honestly say I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I’m officially hooked and on board for the rest of the season.

What I’m Watching: Living with Yourself

Living with Yourself: Season 1, Episode 6 “Neighbors and Friends” (C+)

One of the benefits of Netflix and other streaming shows is that episodes can be whatever length they need to, leading to an installment of the usually hour-long “Mindhunter” season one running just thirty-four minutes because that’s all that was relevant for the selected storyline. Cable and streaming shows are also considerably truncated from the typical twenty-two or so episode usually commissioned from broadcast networks, which means there shouldn’t be a filler episode in which pretty much nothing happens. That’s what I felt about this twenty-two-minute episode that didn’t feature much of anything, and did so little to move the story forward. Kate dinged Miles in a way that he didn’t realize at the start, telling him that it was funny how different the two of them actually were, and he went in for his fertility appointment without his wife knowing, which could lead to something down the road but not if she’s already made other arrangements. Trying to salvage the debate didn’t go too well, and getting peed on and finding out that his clone hasn’t shown up to work in a week were not good news at all. Now it seems like he’s being kidnapped by someone, and I do hope that the final two episodes of the season can course-correct. I’d like to see more of Kate and also the two clones conducting their parallel lives, since, as this show seems to suggest, Miles as a character isn’t particularly interesting, and so featuring just him wallowing in his misery naturally won’t be terribly compelling.

What I’m Watching: Modern Love

Modern Love: Season 1, Episode 6 “So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?” (B+)

I liked this episode a lot, both because of its storyline and because of the two featured actors. I’ve been a fan on Julia Garner for a while now since I saw her in the films “Grandma” and “One Percent More Humid,” and of course she skyrocketed in popularity recently with an Emmy win for her supporting role on “Ozark,” in which she is indeed good. Shea Whigham usually plays supporting parts, and I first noticed him as Nucky’s brother on “Boardwalk Empire,” then on “Vice Principals,” “Waco,” and, most recently, “Homecoming.” They’re not a conventional pair, but this episode didn’t portray a conventional relationship. Maddy’s attraction to Peter wasn’t a romantic one, though that wasn’t nearly as clear-cut as she thought it was, and clearly not to him either, particularly when he kissed her and she reacted very badly. I liked a lot of the lines in this episode, like “He smelled like wine and oranges and dependability” and “Aren’t you a little old to be crying?” Their dynamic was great, and when things were going very well, it was all endearing and inspiring. Peter’s affinity for music entranced Maddy, even if was the kind of thing that didn’t actually interest her but instead impressed her, and Maddy’s friend was so wowed by him plunging the toilet that had her poop in it that she wanted one of her own. I loved the last scene with him telling her that he was proud of her and then her realizing far too late that maybe she was ready to grow up and move on. This was a great episode!

Monday, November 25, 2019

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 5 “The Grief Panda” (B-)

I wasn’t optimistic at the start of this episode about the Grief Panda as a character, and it was actually a little better than I expected it to be. Handing cards that had extremely personalized answers, like with Grace and Krispy Kreme, was decidedly absurd, but that’s the nature of this sometimes and I guess I just have to embrace it. I’m glad that, even though he wrestled with the panda, there wasn’t a moment at which the panda took off his head and turned out to be someone we knew, like, say, McCoy himself. Will wanting to keep the photo of him and McCoy when he had a cold because it happened, even if it didn’t end well, was a nice dramatic moment that felt far more permanent and appropriately serious than most of what is featured on this show. Karen interrupting Grace each time before she could say the word “baby” was repetitive, and that situation got a whole lot sappier than I ever would have thought when she confessed that she was hurt that Grace didn’t want her to be part of the baby’s life. Selecting a godmother who, before she was informed of that choice, had been throwing out every baby-related package that arrived may not have been the smartest decision, but it’s good for Grace to feel validated and heard by Karen for once in her life. I’m constantly distracted by how much Vanessa Bayer’s portrayal of Amy reminds me of someone I know, but she’s definitely a good fit for this show’s irreverence.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 9 “The Answer” (B+)

I’ll admit, this show is frustrating to watch because I often feel that twenty minutes goes by way too fast and we haven’t actually gotten that far. There are also only four episodes left, which is very sad to me, but I’ll take what I can get since this show does truly deliver each and every week. It’s been a while since we got to look back at the pasts on Earth of our protagonists, and my favorite part of this Chidi-centric episode was actually the opportunity to see the old sarcastic Eleanor again, going for it and kissing Chidi even while he was convinced that his soulmate was the terrifying raven-keeper Esmerelda. Opening with baby Chidi getting a tummy ache because he wasn’t sure if he liked his name was fun, and we got to experience some of his more infuriating personality traits, like a 3,600-page thesis and a penchant for making Venn diagrams to deal with friend decisions. His presentation convincing his parents not to get divorced was indeed impressive, though he never had an opportunity to actually relax and just enjoy life. What was cool was how Chidi turned to his friends for help, trying to understand how Jason never stops to truly consider anything before he does it and how Tahani has the confidence to swoop in and take charge. I loved the ending of the episode when Chidi finally got woken up, asking Janet for the note that told him there was no “answer” but that Eleanor was always the wander. That’s pretty wonderful, and I can’t wait to see how that guides him.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 9 “So Long, Marianne” (B+)

It’s always easy to tell that this show is going on hiatus for a little bit because of a monumental reveal that comes in the form of a flash-forward. Rebecca losing her phone and experiencing a number of memory issues was a fake-out, shown as if it was happening as Randall was worried about her not coming home in time for Thanksgiving, but instead she showed up and confessed to her son that she was developing her own concerns about her memory. How we go from that moment to Kevin’s fortieth birthday party with them no longer speaking to Randall is a mystery, and I think I’m less turned off by that shocker than I have been in the past since I’m really finding this show to be experiencing its strongest storylines yet a few years into its run. I hope that Kevin’s pregnant wife is Cassidy, but we’ll have to wait to find that out too. It was sweet to see Kevin help Tess with her big dilemma, resulting in a celebratory coming out experience. Kate and Beth bonding over the terrible things they were feeling was fun, and it was good that Deja still expressed a need for Beth after she got jealous about Shauna. The lighter moments that were pretty hilarious were Beth commenting on how she was alone while Miguel was there and Nicky talking about how he was looking forward to getting to know Russell. There’s obviously a lot to be sorted out, particularly between Kate and Toby, but I like the notion that a grown baby Jack was still keeping up the newly-established family tradition of Thanksgiving shrimp. I look forward to this show’s return in January.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 6, Episode 6 “License to Elongate” (B)

It feels a bit like we’re just killing time until the crisis begins (two more episodes remain before that), and also that Ramsey just happens to turn up whenever he feels like it the same way that Cicada, Savitar, and Zoom all did before him. That said, this episode felt decently worthwhile by its end thanks to the differentiating of Ralph and Barry from their alter egos. Barry creating a public opportunity for the Flash to officially hand off the job of saving the city to Elongated Man was the perfect inspiration for Ralph to show Barry that he had plenty of value without his powers and his secret identity. I especially liked when Barry got to pretend to be drunk on stage and create an appropriate distraction to buy Ralph some time. Barry being presented with the medal of honor was moving, and it’s a nice thought that, if the lead character on this show did somehow end up dying, both the Flash and Barry Allen would be missed by the residents of Central City. Carlo Rota from “24” and “Jane the Virgin” seemed to have a blast chewing scenery as Remington Meister, and I liked Barry mocking Ultraviolet’s Mortal Kombat get-up. Allegra and Nash made a surprising connection while Cecile got way too involved in the wrong way in Chester’s love life. I’d like to see more of Chester, a character whose energy matches Cisco’s and could be put to good use. Team Flash could always use more members, and he’d be a great official addition.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Take Three: His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Spies” (B)

It’s definitely good news that the Gyptians are the ones who surprised Lyra at the end of last week’s episode, though that didn’t make for an overly exciting episode. All of the different representatives being called for to charge north felt all too much like a “Game of Thrones” episode that didn’t provide too much specificity but instead featured endless characters who will likely all meet an unfortunate end before important new details about what they’re up against are revealed. The Gyptians are at least starting to realize Lyra’s significance, namely that she can read the alethiometer all by herself, which is apparently unprecedented, and that may lead to those who see her value trying to exploit her. Mrs. Coulter did manage to get one of her spy flies back, and so she’ll likely show up with her vast new security team to try to find the always-traveling Gyptians, just a formidable a threat as the Magisterium that paid them a visit earlier. I remembered also that Mrs. Coulter was Lyra’s mother, news that apparently only Lyra didn’t know since it was well-established in the Gyptian community. Lyra hasn’t had a chance to confront her about it yet, but we did see Tony try to find her on his own and end up coming back alone after Benjamin chose not to talk but instead to jump to his death. Even Mrs. Coulter’s daemon seemed startled and shaken by the disintegration of Benjamin’s daemon, a powerful physical manifestation of the loss of life.

What I’m Watching: Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher: Season 1, Episode 4 “Parents’ Weekend” (B+)

Eva was pretty angry when she found out that her ex-husband was going to go to parents’ weekend instead of her, and she was right to anticipate that it wouldn’t be a great idea. Ted bringing his new wife and son was understandable, but not telling Brendan that he was doing that set the wrong kind of expectations for the weekend. What was far more informative than how Brendan behaved when his younger brother stole the spotlight was how Ted interacted with him, encouraging his chauvinism by throwing around the football in the exhibit meant to challenge their lack of understanding about the patriarchy. Throwing away his brother’s prized piece of comfort that he found on the ground in the bathroom demonstrated his maturity level. Eve trying to give Roy a kiss at his funeral earned her the full fury of his son, and she was ready to have a relaxing and therapeutic night after that. Her earlier daydream about having a threesome with Julian and Roy was humorous, and she got to talk openly about her fantasies with Amanda while they were in the hot tub. Amanda didn’t respond all too poorly to Eve giving her a very passionate kiss, but Eve is going to find a real outlet for her pent-up energy, which may just be Julian. Margo is feeling tremendously awkward about her budding relationship with Curtis, and he should really try to be clearer about his feelings for her and that he actually has to move plans around for the night she suggested.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 6, Episode 4 “Maximizing Alphaness” (B)

I found the character of Ethan to be wholly irritating here, and it took way too long for Richard to finally do anything about it and his new loyal intimidating assistant Holden to step in to make sure that he never got out of line again. Richard punching him and injuring himself was the only worthwhile part of that, especially when Tracy explained that she would never advocate violence but still proceeded to demonstrate where to keep your thumb if you were going to punch someone. Jared finding his birth parents was surprisingly easy, and his visit with them was totally absurd if completely on-brand. Learning that they didn’t want him because he was a third child who wasn’t convenient for travel was completely crippling, followed up by the fact that they ended up having a third kid when they felt like it and truly valued the family time that Jared wasn’t going to get to be a part of at any point. Telling him that they weren’t impressed by his presentation was cruel, but perhaps it was just what he needed so that he could feel back at home at Pied Piper. Both Monica and Gilfoyle are encountering obstacles to their professional successes and ego, but those shouldn’t be too problematic or long-standing. Gavin refusing to talk tech isn’t helping anyone, but he’s never been one to adhere to any conventions of normalcy, and something things seem to work out for him in the end every time regardless of that approach.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 7 “407 Proxy Authentication Required” (B)

I’m not thrilled with the excessive focus on Fernando, especially since it meant we didn’t see any of Darlene or Dom and their unfortunate predicament in this hour. The opener here cut to the chase with Fernando droning on to a different captive, and it got gradually more interesting as Elliot started trying to poke holes in his ego. Considering Elliot a formidable adversary was important, but the bigger aim was for Fernando to be on the same level as him, which he was for just one moment before Krista finally cut him off by stabbing him. There is something to be said, I suppose, for Elliot being undone by someone that he messed with rather than a real bad guy from E Corp or the Dark Army, making a decision that was seemingly harmless back then and turned out to have extraordinarily destructive implications. Invoking Shayla caught me off-guard since it was a reference to someone we haven’t seen in so long. It was pretty cool to see Mr. Robot come out and act all unimpressed with Fernando, though that didn’t last too long before Fernando exerted control by forcing Krista to have a therapy session. The revelation that Elliot’s father had abused him is earth-shattering for Elliot because he considers Mr. Robot to be his father rather than another personality, and it’s going to be hard for him to keep going now with that knowledge. Let’s hope Krista can help set him on the right track so that he can rescue the family member he does still have left alive who’s in serious trouble.

What I’m Watching: Shameless


Shameless: Season 10, Episode 2 “Sleep Well My Prince for Tomorrow You Shall Be King” (B+)

I’m glad that we’re seeing Ian again after actor Cameron Monaghan left the show and then returned almost right away, and it’s very entertaining to watch him fight with Mickey over who gets to stab someone so that they’ll get sent to solitary and can take a break from their now-toxic relationship. Carl selling his military gear to some poor kid who didn’t expect a lecture on what his future might not hold was funny, and I like that he got his old job back and found a side business that can help give a lost Liam a sense of purpose in his community. Debs’ return scheme sort of imploded, but she made a guy who wanted to exploit her for a sex act question his entire existence, and then got her own talking-to from Mikey, who meant “Who’s your daddy?” very literally. It’s sweet that he and Frank have developed a real friendship, and they unfortunately chose the wrong two Uber drivers to try to con. Kev embraced his newfound light criminal activity thanks to the Amazon delivery guy who nearly killed himself during autoerotic asphyxiation, and I think that’s just going to be the beginning of his entrepreneurial dreams. Lip smoking with one hand in a glove so that he wouldn’t get anything on the baby rather than quitting smoking was both clever and absurd, and he appears to be in for a rough transition to parenthood, especially as he’s doing it all by himself at the moment.

What I’m Watching: Watchmen

Watchmen: Season 1, Episode 5 “Little Fear of Lightning” (B+)

I love the way that this show introduces and explores its characters’ backstories, and, the more I learn, the more intrigued I am. Tim Blake Nelson is a fantastic actor, most recently very memorable in the opening segment of “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” and he also has an upcoming role in the film “Just Mercy.” Additionally, he’s actually from Tulsa, which is cool. Learning that he was religious and was prophesizing the end of days before being left naked in a hall of mirrors so that he survived that crazy squid attack on New York City was definitely unexpected, and it helps to contextualize him a lot. He hides a lot of his anxiety well at work under that reflective mask, which apparently helps to shield him from a future attack as he executes countless drills at home to prepare. I recognized Paula Malcomson from “Ray Donovan” and “Sons of Anarchy” as Renee, the woman he met at his support group who led him right to a group of 7K followers, including none other than Senator Keane, whose voice Wade immediately identified. The subtle mentions of differences between this world and ours are fascinating, like how, in this reality, Steven Spielberg made a movie about the squid attack instead of “Schindler’s List.” I’m still mystified by the video of Adrian predicting the future and what that means, but Wade made a choice presumably to save Angela by having her arrested by Laurie. We’ll see if that leads anywhere good, but color me just as confused and compelled as ever.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 7 “Tremors” (B-)

I was thinking about just how gullible Kara is to let Lena use the technology in the Fortress of Solitude because she claimed to be excited about interfacing with it, and at least we finally got some brutal honesty. After they subdued a common threat together, Lena let Kara have it, chewing her out for lying to her over and over. Her final line that she wasn’t a villain and shouldn’t have been treated by one would have been more effective if she hadn’t revealed herself to be just that. I don’t know what this all means for Ma’alefa’ak, who appeared to be convinced quite easily by looking into Hank’s vulnerable mind that they could in fact reunite again, not that Hank bothered to ask any questions about why he was where he was. It’s convenient to have Jedi-like abilities to summon up the dead and have conversations with them about proud fathers and all that, and Brainy also received a helpful dose of information that led them right to where they needed to be. Kelly has already explained the trauma of worrying about her partner dying, and I don’t know how many more times we’re going to only see her when she comes to express her concern for Alex. I was pleased to see this episode’s major guest star: Mitch Pileggi of “The X-Files” fame as Rama Khan. It was a good turn, but now he’s definitely one, and the most powerful person at Leviathan seems to be Gamemnae, played by Cara Buono from “Mad Men.”

Friday, November 22, 2019

What I’m Watching: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 7 “Tell Me the Truth” (B-)

It was pretty convenient to have yet another person who knows that Kate is Batwoman show up so that Kate could offer incontrovertible proof that she isn’t Batwoman to Sophie. That said, I’d imagine that Julia wouldn’t have been so eager to stand in for her when there was a gun out there rumored to be able to pierce Batwoman’s armor and kill her. It was lucky that Alice intervened to make sure that the gun wouldn’t actually work so that she could keep her sister safe; otherwise, things would have gotten very tragic. Sophie managed to really embarrass herself by confessing how she felt to a woman that wasn’t actually her ex, and I don’t buy one bit of her show of commitment to her husband. The flashbacks are decently informative, and it’s worthwhile to see Kate as a figure who wants to fight to be who she is, opening up a gay bar right across the street from the restaurant where she was turned away because she was a lesbian. It’s good to know that she has a skilled ally in the form of Julia, who is likely to return again as Batwoman needs help to keep Gotham safe. We didn’t get to see Jacob confront Kate about being Batwoman, and presumably now he won’t do that anytime soon. More disconcertingly, these face masks are getting to be very dangerous, particularly now that Mouse is wearing one that looks just like Jacob, allowing him lots of access into places where he can do lots of damage.

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.