Friday, January 31, 2020

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Season Finale)

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 12 “Gallavich!” (B+)

It’s a shame that this show is over, but at least we have one more season to look forward to before it signs off for good. What a season ender this was, with a wedding hastily pulled together after Terry burned down the original venue. I love that they had to put Debs in a wedding dress and hide the fact that it was a gay wedding to trick the owners into letting it have them there, and that Ian’s devoted followers were able to keep Terry from interfering. Of course Frank would know and have earned the ire of the owner, but he didn’t actually cause much trouble, and even provided a great honeymoon car thanks to Liam. I was thinking that Julia would make a perfect match for Carl, especially since she’s not actually a lesbian, but she may be getting the Gallaghers into much more trouble than she’s worth. Debs got to run from the police in a way that we’ve seen Frank and Fiona do from other people before, and something tells me she’s not going down for this. It was devastating to see Lip drink after Tami essentially broke up with him, and showing up to ask Brad to come to a meeting with him was the right move. It even seems to have brought Tami back to his line of thinking, willing to give the house down the street a try. This has been a fantastic season that hasn’t felt Fiona’s absence thanks to the richness of all the other characters who I can’t wait to see again in season eleven.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Jeremy Allen White as Lip

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 11 “Back from the Future, Part One” (B)

This was an exciting opportunity to see Winn again, though it’s important to remember that he wasn’t killed off or anything, just conveniently sent to the future since actor Jeremy Jordan was leaving the show. I didn’t expect to see him in two different roles, one as the Winn we know, enhanced with his future knowledge, and as a version of Toyman eager to emulate his father. As we’ve seen when dealing with other people from different earths on “The Flash,” reasoning with your other self doesn’t tend to go too well. It also appears that the evil Winn isn’t going away so soon thanks to the device he left behind. Brainy and Nia are definitely awkward now, and it would be helpful if Brainy opened up to just one person about his secret mission (Hank seems like the obvious choice since he wouldn’t feel the same instinct to tell anyone else that Kara or Alex might insist upon if he went to them with it). It’s good to see that William is finally on the right track, ready to investigate Lex even if everyone claims that he’s squeaky clean. He’s even been invited to game night, something which seems strange given that everyone else there is fully aware of the others’ superhero identities. I guess Lena used to come too, and we all know how that worked out. Let’s see how good a reporter William really is and how much he can figure out on his own.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

What I’m Watching: Shrill (Season Premiere)

Shrill: Season 2, Episode 1 “Camp” (B+)

After a decent start last season, I thought this show got to be very good by the end of its short six episodes. Now, less than a year later, it’s back for eight episodes, which I’ll be watching over the course of the next two months. I liked this opener, which found Annie trying to be a bit too brave in certain respects and seeing what the consequences and rewards of such bold actions are. It’s nice to see Ryan there by her side, actually acknowledging her as a person and finally doing the things she wants to do with her, even if one of those things is an all-too-public sex act that nearly got them into a lot of trouble. Annie hasn’t grown completely to the point that others aren’t dependent on her in an unfair way, like her father being upset about her mother. Fran still treats her the same way as always, and I’m happy to see Lolly Adefope, who is also appearing in the second season of the returning “Miracle Workers” in a new role, here and making sarcasm work to its fullest effect. I’m not really sure what to expect in season two of this show, but it’s nice to see it off to a positive start, one that suggests that Annie could find some more happiness by recognizing what’s meaningful and satisfying to her. I’ll look forward to seeing all that play out and having Aidy Bryant get a truly terrific and deserved showcase.

What I’m Watching: The Morning Show (Season Finale)

The Morning Show: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Interview” (B+)

It took me longer than I had planned to finish this episode, and in that time, Jennifer Aniston managed to win a SAG Award, which I definitely didn’t expect but makes more sense given this powerful finish. Alex wasn’t a big part of this hour in its first half, avoiding Chip as she knew what his fate would be. His getting fired wasn’t a surprise but it still complicated their plans for Mitch’s big interview. Bradley talking to Hannah about her involvement in the story they were going to do did not go well, and, though she knew this job offer based in Los Angeles wasn’t entirely merit-based, the idea of starting over seemed to appeal. Unfortunately, she did not get a happy ending at all, and Bradley coming up to announce her death made Fred’s attempt to spin things against Chip and allegedly in Hannah’s honor all the more despicable. Alex blowing up at the passerby too intent on getting a selfie on the street showed her rage, but she got to say a lot more than that when she got up in the middle of their report and starting pacing in front of the camera. Throwing water in the face of the new producer was just the start, and deciding on-air to go for it with Bradley and say as much as they could before getting cut off made for one of the most formidable scenes this show has presented. Cory waving to Fred while Mia closed the blinds on him was perhaps a bit dramatic, and ending with Chip looking overwhelmed watching it and Mitch sitting all alone with a bruised eye at a long table was powerful. This has been a great first season, and I’m eager to see what season two brings.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Billy Crudup as Cory

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 8 “Lies and Whispers” (B)

There are many things that Will and Grace can do together, and some that just aren’t going to work out for either of them. Having to interview for their unborn children to get into a good preschool was decidedly absurd, but they also leaned in to their supposed hooks a bit more than they should have, failing to realize that being gay or Jewish was hardly a unique quality. I’m not overly fond of precocious children who are much more mature than the adults they’re interacting with, but both Eric McCormack and Debra Messing play well off that, so it wasn’t a big deal. Tim Bagley played a role here not too dissimilar from the one he plays on “Grace and Frankie,” but he’s always up for the task. I wasn’t sure why Karen hadn’t appeared in the previous episode and thought we might not see her in this half-hour either, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. I’m not too familiar with ASMR, but I loved the way it was employed here, with Jack using the fact that they were speaking in calm, soothing voices to avoid Karen’s rage at him for telling Luke what their relationship was. It wasn’t ever going to last, but it was fun while it did, and their goodbye was both entertaining and as sentimental as it could be. I like that Jack and Jenny are getting along so well, though that’s sure to irritate Will down the road. I never pay that much attention to episode titles, but this one was a real winner.

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 7 “What a Dump” (B+)

I’m reviewing this episode now because I got confused since I thought the previous installment had this title due to Will’s assessment of his surrogate’s cluttered home. That means a double dose of this show this week, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though this half-hour was relatively unsophisticated, it was pretty entertaining. Will was delighted to be able to heighten the awkwardness when James came into the elevator, pointing out not only that Grace should tell him that she was pregnant but also underscoring his need to ask whether the father was either his son or his father. He was surprisingly open to the idea of giving their romance another shot, and it took less than twenty-four hours for Grace to screw it up in an irreconcilable way. Though she played it up in truly dramatic fashion, and most people probably haven’t been told by a plumber that such a horrific feat couldn’t have been accomplished by a single person, I do think that it’s a situation and an embarrassment to which many can relate. That female cop didn’t help her out one bit, and that relationship is definitely over. Will correctly pointed out that Jack might be able to afford to pay for his own surgery if he didn’t focus on fancy outfits purchased solely for the flair of it all, and any argument Jack made was lost as soon as he charged Will for other things they hadn’t discussed. Him talking to the “wait” voice at a street crossing was both funny and somehow unsurprising. I enjoyed watching how frustrated Will got when Estefan continually insisted that the stories he knew from home were not the ones Will was referencing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Good Place (Penultimate Episode)

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 12 “Patty” (B+)

I can’t help but think that the content of this episode could have filled up an entire season if this show wasn’t ending, but maybe it’s better that it didn’t since, like the last couple episodes, it was extremely satisfying to see so much happen. Chidi’s excitement about meeting Hypatia was bound to prove disappointing for some reason or another, and while I wasn’t sure initially about the casting of Lisa Kudrow, her efforts to remember what math was called confirmed that it was indeed the right choice. Michael had no clue that the team in charge of the good place were trying to run away and put him in charge instead, and I’ll certainly miss the soothing, authoritative tone of Michael’s voice that Ted Danson does so well. The fact that they all came in to the party together was both sweet and smart, and the weird amalgam of all of their innermost desires helped them to realize that, if they stuck together, they might be able to avoid the brain mush that befell Patty. I guess we don’t need the judge to create a door to permanent death, but it’s possible that we’ll see her one last time in the finale. Aside from the whole what-happens-next question, things are mostly resolved for our characters right now, which is interesting. I’m honestly not sure what the 90-minute series ender, which airs this Thursday, will bring, but it’s been a fantastic run, and I’m so eager to see how it all ends

Pilot Review: Outmatched

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Pilot Review: October Faction

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Pilot Review: Star Trek: Picard

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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Pilot Review: Awkwafina is Nora from Queens

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What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 11 “A Hell of a Week: Part One” (B+)

This episode honed in on just one of our characters, though its title indicates that the next one or two installments will likely cover what happened simultaneously to the other siblings and their families. Randall has always been a fascinating character, and this is the most vivid time I can remember that he’s been featured in so many different incarnations, first as a young child whose father was giving him a pep talk when he couldn’t sleep, then a college student who was having frequent nightmares, and later a full-fledged adult who still hasn’t resolved a lot of the issues he has. Cutting from his childhood to him standing in the kitchen with the intruder was a strong and frightening opening, and fortunately nothing more happened other than him and Beth realizing that he had been in their bedroom to steal some jewelry. Randall seemed understandably distracted at work, especially when Darnell came to see him, and he didn’t want to hear any of what Darnell was telling him about needing to talk to someone. Seeing how Beth supported him when he confessed that he was too scared to sleep alone was sweet, and it was informative to see how he rushed home to deal with something Kate-related and as a result never went to the therapy that could so much have benefited him. At least Kevin was there to talk to him over the phone as he prepared to go to Sophie’s mom’s funeral, and while I’d hope that he’ll once again be able to help Randall through this since he was there for him in the past, we know that’s not quite how it’s going to work out this time.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5, Episode 2 “Meet the Legends” (B+)

I can tell that it’s going to be confusing this season since, for some reason, this is technically considered the premiere, even though I watched an episode of this show last week which was part of the crossover. It seems that hasn’t had much of an effect on our characters here, save for Sara mourning the loss of Oliver. Opening with a documentary crew following the legends to help with their public relations perception was an interesting approach, one that worked better on this show than it might have anywhere else. I liked the quick clip of Mick presenting Best Picture at the Oscars, and this is likely all that we’ll see of that kind of thing given the way in which they pretended it was all fake at the end of the episode following the premiere. Gideon’s virus was a helpful way to get them back into 1917 St. Petersburg, resulting in the director getting left back there so that he could be a puppet for the undead Rasputin to try to channel his energy into the word of cinema. Each legend’s different plan for revenge was entertaining, and somehow it was the well-meaning Ray, now mistaken regularly for Neron, who returned to his full size from inside him, blowing him up in the process. I was confused at first when I saw Behrad as a member of the team, and that final scene clarified things in a big way, explaining that it wasn’t the crisis but the Hayworld event that resulted in Zari being erased and replaced with her brother. I’m very curious to see what comes of that, and I also hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Charlie!

What I’m Watching: Work in Progress

Work in Progress: Season 1, Episode 7 “14 (Pt. 2), 12, 11, 10” (B+)

It’s really devastating to see that, after everything, Chris wasn’t actually so understanding about Abby finding out his dead name, not because she knew but because of how she chose not to be open with him about it. Explaining the advice given to her by Campbell and Julia was meant to underscore the heartache she endured deliberating whether or not to be honest, but instead it just piled on for Chris, demonstrating that Abby was more comfortable talking to other people than him about what was on her mind. We got to see how frozen she was, flashing back to the moment in which she confronted her previous relationship’s demise, admonished for the way in which she kept things to herself and allowed them to explode into those boxes. We haven’t seen Chris anywhere near this upset before, and hopefully he’ll come to terms with who Abby is and why she couldn’t bring herself to talk to him. Abby getting cited for her “work birthday” allowed for an entertaining back and forth in which she seemed determined to temp forever in spite of company policy. Being told that she gained four and a half pounds and that it wasn’t the end of the world helped her realize that focusing on that wasn’t a healthy way to life, though I imagine she’ll now descend back into other problematic habits following this rupture in her relationship. It was nice that Julia called to invite her to the “This American Life” taping, and maybe that’s just what can give her a bit of a re-charging spark.

Friday, January 24, 2020

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season Premiere)

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 10, Episode 1 “Happy New Year” (B+)

It’s been over two years since this show last aired, and it’s just as relevant and hilarious as ever. The timeliest reference was the MAGA hat, and of course Larry would use it as a repellant so that he could avoid annoying lunches, having people sit next to him at the sushi bar, and the possibility of getting hurt by far scarier people when he was the one at fault. A far more innocuous realization was that people do tend to say “Happy New Year” far beyond the first of the year, just one of many typical things that bugged Larry and ended up getting him into trouble over the course of the hour. Ogling the pigs in a blanket and then accidentally grabbing the waitress’ breast got him into trouble, especially when Alice got on the phone with the waitress and compared stories of her own experiences. Jeff being mistaken for Harvey Weinstein is humorous and understandable, and I thought he’d be in bigger trouble for laughing too much at Cheryl and Larry making fun of what Susie was wearing. It’s nice to see a new plot development sure to have lasting implications: Larry sleeping with Cheryl, something she inexplicably still wants to do but might be more complicated now that he put her in the hospital because he put on talcum powder before they had sex. I can’t wait to see how badly Larry fails at opening up a rival coffee shop to get revenge on Mocha Joe. This show is always great fun.

Pilot Review: Avenue 5

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

What I’m Watching: The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q: Season 1, Episode 7 “Lose It All” (B+)

It was clear from the start that a thruple would prove to be complicated for Alice, but this is not how I expected it to go. It didn’t help that Alice had a pretty terrible day at work where the meeting in which she hoped to pitch that Drew should be fired resulted in the news that her show might be cancelled and that he was essentially her only hope to avoid that fate. Coming home to find Nat and Gigi in bed together sent her over the edge, and she’s in part right that they’re working through their marital issues in a way that might not leave space for her. Hopefully this isn’t the end of her relationship with Nat, though it certainly looks that way at the moment. Bette seemed hopeful at the notion of reconciliation with Tina, and finding out that she was engaged to someone else was hard to hear. Maybe now that Sophie, in an understandable moment of grief, kissed Finley, something will finally happen between Dani and Bette, who humorously gets to be the calmer and less abrasive person for once. Tess helped Shane work through some of her hang-ups with Quiara, a relationship that still doesn’t seem destined to last. It was nice to see a focus on Micah as his mom came to town to meet Jose stoned and made things bad right away by bringing up elements of his childhood as a girl. She eventually made up for that behavior with a ringing endorsement of the authenticity of their connection.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 10 “The Bottle Episode” (B+)

In the aftermath of the five-show crisis crossover, I wasn’t sure which shows I’d continue watching. After ten minutes of “Batwoman,” I decided to give up on that series, mainly because it returned right back to the stale storylines that had been featured last year. This show, on the other hand, is all about implications from the multiverse being combined into just one earth. That worked very well in this case as multiple Brainys appeared and they had to deal with what that meant, both personally and for the fate of the universe and all that. I knew I recognized the female Brainy, who it turns out was Meaghan Rath, actor Jesse Rath’s real-life older sister, which was a clever bit of casting. It’s a shame that what came of all this was that Brainy had to close himself off from everything to ally with Lex, which meant dumping Nia and breaking her heart. William starting to doubt Lex’s true intentions was a relief for the flabbergasted Kara who now has to put up with Lex being in charge of the DEO in this newly-modified reality. Bringing a truth seeker so that Lena would trust him was smart, and neither of them minced words about their true intentions. Lillian in particular is the same as she’s always been, not eager to give her daughter a hug since that would be far too weak. Lex showing Brainy a photo of Winn was a surprise, and it will be nice to have him back as a character. On a slightly lighter note, it was very strange and funny to hear an N’Sync song playing during the barfight.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 11 “Location, Location, Location” (B+)

I didn’t realize that this was the second-to-last episode of the season, a realization that stings even more with the recent news that this show has been renewed for an eleventh and final season. Honestly, this show has had a long and great run, and eleven seasons is nothing to scoff at for any series. I’ll have to enjoy whatever’s left! Mickey’s dad showing up at the house threatening to kill Mickey pushed him in a truly insane groomzilla direction, which proved to be extremely entertaining. I thought that more might come of the florist rejecting the idea of working with a gay couple, but instead it was just all a run-up to Ian showing Mickey that he did care about something by finding the perfect person to sing Bon Jovi for their wedding, which I’m sure will be a blast to watch when it happens. Liam managed to find Frank so that he could stay at school, and Frank’s response to his wish to move in with him so that he could get enrolled somewhere better meant that Liam wasn’t interested in coming over when he was scared of the dark in his apparently haunted house. Of course it would end up being another squatter whose crystal meth made Frank feel right at home. Lip buying a house down the street made much more sense for a lot of reasons, but Tami didn’t react well, and their future together may now be in serious jeopardy. Kev was very smart to realize that he could make some money as a personal trainer and get rid of some obnoxious bar chores at the same time. I like that Carl is working as an informant – or undercover, as he likes to think – though naturally he ended up on the wrong side of the law with the cop wanting in on the take rather than to execute true justice. Debs splitting her time between a mother and a daughter was bound to end badly, and the corsage she forgot to take off was her undoing, resulting in the two of them fighting bitterly and forgetting all about her. She even got to rebound with a Milkovich sibling of her own!

Pilot Review: 9-1-1: Lone Star

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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

Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 10 “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (C+)

This was an unspectacular end to a truly disappointing and rather pointless season. I’m unsure why the far superior “Shameless” got its final season announced already while this show’s fate has yet to be determined, but that’s maybe because no one cares enough to find out what might happen next after this lackluster finale. We concluded the flashbacks to a young Donovan family with the revelation that Bridget was pregnant when she killed herself with Jim’s baby, something that might feel more impactful if we had known the character before this season. I don’t understand the need for mystery in identifying who Ray was carrying in that body bag since it really should have been Mickey, but yet again there was someone who was temporarily worse and managed to allow him to live just a little bit longer. Daryll showing up to kill Declan was perhaps a bit too clean, though one person doesn’t think so, and that’s Smitty, who no one even seemed to notice had been apparently killed in the crossfire. Ray shooting Jim is one of the most violent things he’s done in a while, and he did it so emotionlessly that it hardly seems like progress for him. Whether his relationship with Molly continues is unknown since she’s much smarter than any of the women he’s been with in the past, Abby excepted. Terry going to see Dr. Amiot and then heading up to the top of the Empire State building was cause for concern, and his fate remains uncertain. This episode featured yet another unnecessary musical montage, and, if for some reason this show is permitted to return for a swan song, I think I’ll have to come back and read this review to remind me that it’s just not worth it anymore.

Season grade: C+
Season MVP: Kerry Condon as Molly Sullivan

Pilot Review: Little America

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Pilot Review: Diary of a Future President

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What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 11 “Mondays, Am I Right?” (B+)

This show is almost completely done at this point, and I’m so glad to see a half-hour that was quite as productive as this one, working hard to develop the system that’s now going to be used to determine where humans are headed once they die. I was especially pleased to see a familiar face like Vicky, first introduced as the real Eleanor, who had time to take a break from ice cold yoga to demonstrate her flair for the dramatic and desire to be in charge of the new order of things. Tiya Sircar has always been one of the most underappreciated recurring players on this show, and I’m glad that she was given this formidable and purposeful sendoff. Michael didn’t seem to want to relinquish control, but I imagine that he knew exactly what he was doing all along. Tahani has grown enough as a person to realize that Vicky was just baiting her by pretending to be her sister, and I liked how she was immediately impressed by that angle of attack. It’s not entirely clear why Jason was hanging around with Chidi and Eleanor as they were trying to do actual important work, but he provided some almost entirely decent advice to Chidi that helped him realize the approach he needed to accept that Eleanor did in fact want to be with him. Eleanor’s preoccupation with trying to discover which presidents were secretly gay was an entertaining throwback to her less inspired self, which is part of what made her transformation as a character all the more completely watchable. The notion that they were automatically approved to go to the good place is appealing, and I’m so curious to see what the final two installments have in store.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Pilot Review: 68 Whiskey

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What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 10 “Light and Shadows” (B+)

This was a strong midseason premiere, picking up from the surprising revelations of the finale without jumping too far ahead on all of them. Kevin turning to a matchmaker didn’t go too well, highlighted by his date with a woman who was very clearly and unapologetically racist, and of course he’d go and spot an attractive woman who would then become the sole focus of his attention for the entirety of the day. Sophia Bush from “One Tree Hill” and “Chicago PD” was Lizzy, the woman who was absolutely perfect until she revealed that he was her celebrity hall pass and that she was married. It was quite the day that he threw for her, complete with a John Legend performance. That call from Sophie that he missed just as he was going on set likely has implications that will lead to the events we saw in the finale. Randall was indeed very pushy with getting his mother some help, and he clashed with Miguel when he came on too strong and asserted that he was doing the right thing. The results aren’t great, but we still haven’t seen what leads to a total blockade of communication with Randall. That final scene with an intruder is disconcerting, and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s good that Toby didn’t have an affair, but his need to escape his son’s blindness is going to drive a serious wedge between him and Kate. Back in the past, it was interesting to see Jack actually break up with Rebecca, only to have her show up after being encouraged by her mother not to let a man she loved slip away from her.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

The competition: Barry, Fleabag, The Kominsky Method, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt’s Creek

For your information: Three of last year’s nominees are back. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which has three performers – Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, and Tony Shalhoub – nominated, is here for its third season, after winning this award on its first try last year. “Barry” and “The Kominsky Method” return for their second consecutive nominations with one and two actors nominated individually, respectively. “Schitt’s Creek” is in the running for the first time for its fifth season, with actress Catherine O’Hara nominated. “Fleabag,” which won the Emmy, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice Award, has two stars, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Andrew Scott, nominated.

Who should win? I mostly enjoyed what I saw of “Schitt’s Creek,” but it certainly wouldn’t be my choice. I don’t know that the whole ensemble of “The Kominsky Method” deserves the same praise as its stars, while “Barry” is a solid choice even if it doesn’t immediately come to mind. Between “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” I’m torn.
Who will win? It’s possible “Fleabag” wins here too, or “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” repeats, but I’m betting on Schitt’s Creek.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

The competition: Big Little Lies, The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things

For your information: Only one of last year’s nominees, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is back for a second bid. Only two-time winner “This Is Us” was also eligible and snubbed. Three shows that were previously nominated are back after a season off. This is the seventh nomination for “Game of Thrones” and the third for “The Crown.” It’s also the third for “Stranger Things,” which won in 2016. “Big Little Lies” competed as a limited series in 2017, so it wasn’t eligible then. It’s the only show with no individual acting nominations, though “CSI” did win this prize in 2004 with no performers singled out. “The Crown” has two, while all the others have one. “The Morning Show,” which has three solo bids, isn’t represented here. “Game of Thrones” won the Emmy, while “Succession,” which won the Globe and Critics Choice Award, isn’t nominated.

Who should win? This is a fantastic list. I liked “Big Little Lies” season two better than the first, and the cast was definitely strong. While “Game of Thrones” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” continue to be superb, I’d pick either “The Crown” or “Stranger Things” for an absolutely stunning assemblage of talent.
Who will win? I think Game of Thrones finally wins, unless “The Crown” can take it down.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Patricia Arquette’s manipulative mother (The Act), Toni Collette’s determined detective (Unbelievable), Joey King’s sick child (The Act), Emily Watson’s nuclear physicist (Chernobyl), and Michelle Williams’ committed dancer (Fosse/Verdon).

For your information: Arquette won this award last year for “Escape at Dannemora” and in 2014 for her supporting role in “Boyhood,” and had three individual bids for the TV series “Medium.” Collette was nominated in 2009 for “The United States of Tara” and won as part of the “Little Miss Sunshine” cast in 2006. Watson was nominated in 1998 for “Hilary and Jackie” and in 2011 for “Appropriate Adult,” and won as part of the “Gosford Park” cast in 2001. Williams was nominated in 2005 for “Brokeback Mountain,” in 2011 for “My Week with Marilyn,” and in 2016 for “Manchester by the Sea.” This is King’s first nomination. Multiple actresses from one project have been nominated in the past, and often, one of them wins. Arquette won the Emmy and the Globe, Collette won the Critics’ Choice Award, and Williams, in the lead race, won all three.

Who should win? The only performance I watched in its entirety was Collette’s, and I’d love to see her win.
Who will win? Though Arquette is strong, she’s competing with someone else from her project, so Williams should be a safe choice.

Friday, January 17, 2020

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Mahershala Ali’s determined investigator (True Detective), Russell Crowe’s controlling executive (The Loudest Voice), Jared Harris’ Soviet scientist (Chernobyl), Jharrel Jerome’s wrongfully imprisoned defendant (When They See Us), and Sam Rockwell’s fervent director (Fosse/Verdon).

For your information: Ali and Rockwell have won the film award for supporting actor the past three years, for “Moonlight” and “Green Book,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” respectively. Each also took home an ensemble prize for their film work. Rockwell contends this year as part of the “Jojo Rabbit” ensemble. Crowe won in 2001 for “A Beautiful Mind” and received four other individual nominations and six ensemble bids. Harris won in 2009 as part of the “Mad Men” ensemble. Jerome was previously nominated with Ali as part of the “Moonlight” cast. Jerome won the Emmy and the Critics’ Choice Award, and Crowe won the Globe.

Who should win? I only watched all of Crowe and Jerome’s work, and they’re both so fantastic in different ways.

Who will win? I’ll pick Crowe over Jerome, though it could be either of them or even Harris.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Christina Applegate’s angry widow (Dead to Me), Alex Borstein’s sarcastic manager (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Rachel Brosnahan’s budding comic (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Catherine O’Hara’s eccentric actress (Schitt’s Creek), and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s excitable café owner (Fleabag).

For your information: Only two nominees are back from last year despite them all being eligible: defending champion Brosnahan and her costar Borstein. They both shared in the ensemble prize last year. Borstein took home a Critics’ Choice Award for the third season of her show. Applegate was nominated three times in a row in this category for “Samantha Who?” a decade ago. O’Hara was nominated in 2010 for “Temple Grandin.” This is the first nomination for Waller-Bridge, who won the Emmy, Globe, and Critics’ Choice Award. All but Applegate are also nominated as part of their ensembles. Out of nine times that two women from the same show have contended for this prize, only last year resulted in a win.

Who should win? I’m a big fan of this list even if my enthusiasm for O’Hara is less strong than most I know. Honestly, I’d be happy with any of the other four winning, though it’s the last hurrah for Waller-Bridge, who really was excellent.

Who will win? I’m tempted to predict Brosnahan to repeat but Waller-Bridge feels like a lock.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Alan Arkin’s grieving agent (The Kominsky Method), Michael Douglas’ aging acting teacher (The Kominsky Method), Bill Hader’s hitman-turned-actor (Barry), Andrew Scott’s foul-mouthed priest (Fleabag), and Tony Shalhoub’s obsessive husband (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

For your information: Last year brought five new nominees, and now we have only one, in the form of Scott, who earns his first bid. Shalhoub, who was last year’s winner, was nominated seven times in 2002 and 2009 for “Monk,” winning twice. Arkin has two individual film nominations, for “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Argo,” and won as part of both ensembles. Douglas won both of his previous bids, an ensemble prize for the film “Traffic” and in 2013 for his starring role in the TV movie “Behind the Candelabra.” Hader, who won the Critics’ Choice Award and two consecutive Emmys, was nominated for the first time last year. The Golden Globe winner, Ramy Youssef, isn’t nominated. All five men contend as part of their ensembles. Of the eight times that two men from the same show were nominated and the one time three were, not one of them resulted in a win.

Who should win? I like all these a lot. Hader is very strong, and both Douglas and Arkin have superb comic timing. Shalhoub is fantastic as always, but I’d love to see Scott win for a truly terrific turn.

Who will win? I’m sure many would like to see Scott win as I would, and Hader might have a shot without his costar nominated this year, but I think Shalhoub will repeat.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Jennifer Aniston’s morning show host (The Morning Show), Helena Bonham Carter’s reluctant princess (The Crown), Olivia Colman’s steadfast monarch (The Crown), Jodie Comer’s maniacal assassin (Killing Eve), and Elisabeth Moss’ rebellious handmaid (The Handmaid’s Tale).

For your information: Like the best actor race, this category includes just one nominee from last year, and unlike that category, the other four are here for the first times for these performances. Absent are last year’s winner in this race, Sandra Oh, and the Critics’ Choice Award winner, Regina King. Moss earns her third consecutive bid, adding to her career total that also includes two bids for “Mad Men” and one for “Top of the Lake.” Though she has won three Golden Globes, including one this year, and the Oscar last year, Colman has yet to win a SAG Award, contending last year for “The Favourite.” She is also nominated as part of the “Fleabag” ensemble. Aniston was nominated twice for “Friends,” won once as part of its cast, and was nominated in 2014 for her role in “Cake.” Bonham Carter was nominated in 1997 for “The Wings of the Dove” and in 2010 for “The King’s Speech,” for which she won as part of the ensemble, and also contended in 2013 for “Burton and Taylor.” This is the first bid for Comer, who won the Emmy this past year. Two nominees from the same show in this category aren’t uncommon, and, on a few occasions, one of them triumphs. Carter, Colman, and Moss are also nominated as part of their ensembles.

Who should win? This is a superb list. I’m not sure Aniston should be considered with these others, but she is good on her show. Moss is terrific as usual, and I really love Comer. I’d probably pick Bonham Carter or Colman but it’s hard to pick.

Who will win? I’d be surprised if this didn’t go to Golden Globe winner Colman.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Sterling K. Brown’s loyal father and brother (This Is Us), Steve Carell’s disgraced broadcaster (The Morning Show), Billy Crudup’s creative executive (The Morning Show), Peter Dinklage’s intellectual advisor (Game of Thrones), and David Harbour’s high-strung cop (Stranger Things).

For your information: This category doesn’t include the most recent Emmy winner, Billy Porter, the most recent Golden Globe winner, Brian Cox, the most recent Critics’ Choice Award winner, Jeremy Strong, or last year’s SAG winner, Jason Bateman – though he’s the only one who wasn’t eligible. It does feature three past nominees from this field. Brown was nominated last year, won the year before, and was also a contender three years ago for his role in “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” Both Dinklage and Harbour were nominated two years ago when their shows were last eligible. Four-time Emmy winner Dinklage contended five years in a row for this role, was previously nominated for his film performance in “The Station Agent” in 2003, and won as part of the “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” ensemble cast in 2017. Harbour’s first and only solo bid was in 2017, when he also won as part of the show’s ensemble. Carell contended six times for “The Office,” won twice as part of that ensemble, was nominated for film performances in “Foxcatcher” in 2014 and “Battle of the Sexes” in 2017, and won as part of the “Little Miss Sunshine” ensemble in 2006. Crudup was previously nominated as a member of the “Almost Famous” cast in 2000 and won as part of the “Spotlight” ensemble in 2015. He won a Critics’ Choice Award for this role. This is the first time that four out of five nominees are supporting players on their shows. Only one supporting actor has ever won this award, and that was John Lithgow in 2016 for “The Crown.” From 2010 to 2015, this category saw three back-to-back winners. Two nominees from one show is very common, though only twice in the early years of the SAG Awards has one of them won. Only Dinklage and Harbour are nominated this year as part of their ensembles.

Who should win? I watch all of these! I like these choices a lot. Brown is just as good as he’s ever been. Both Carell and Harbour are great. Dinklage is fantastic as always. My choice would actually be Crudup, who’s such a formidable part of his show.

Who will win? This could go to Brown again, but I think Dinklage gets rewarded for years of standout work.

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

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5, Episode 1 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five” (B+)

Now this was a cool finale to this mega-crossover. I had to do a bit of reading after I watched so that I could fully comprehend what was going on, and also to note that many references to other DC projects and characters that I might have missed. It was a pretty startling and awesome opening, with Kara waking up and Alex acting like everything was normal, save for the fact that Lex Luthor was not only her boss but also receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s a fascinating reframe in its own, since it means that this show will continue to exist in a world totally different from the one that we know, with all the same characters and similar relationships between most of them. The bigger head trip is that the multiverses we know have now turned into just one earth, which apparently has more to do with the fact that these shows first existed in different realities because they were developed for different networks. I’d hope this means more future collaborations, but I’m not sure that’s the case since contracts are still contracts and these actors won’t necessarily show up too much more even if they’re often together. I am curious to see how it impacts all five shows, with “Black Lightning,” a series I don’t watch, also potentially influenced. Superman and Lois also apparently have kids, something that’s sure to be a major plot point on their forthcoming new series. Hank’s ability to refresh the memories of those from this new unified earth is awfully convenient, though that’s only going to help those on the show he regularly frequents. I liked that this episode was legends-focused, with Mick autographing books as Rebecca and a giant Beebo attacking. This was a satisfying and transformative crossover in the end, and I’m eager to greet most of its involved shows with a renewed sense of purpose and hopefully quality.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What I’m Watching: Arrow

Arrow: Season 8, Episode 8 “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” (B+)

There’s certainly no arguing the intensity of the first installment of this crossover in the new year, and though so little of it still makes sense to me, I’d say I enjoyed it. I liked that it opened with the Monitor before he had that role, eagerly traveling through time with his wife as the Monitor before he accidentally unleashed whatever energy it was that created the Anti-Monitor, who seems hell-bent on destroying everything he possibly can. Understandably, this hour was very Oliver-centric, in part because it’s the third-to-last episode this show will produce. I plan to check in for the penultimate one since it’s meant as a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff, just the latest one to be announced after Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch got their own show borne of crossovers like this with “Superman and Lois.” But back to trying to save the entire universe and all that, it was definitely irritating in an appropriate way to have Lex modify himself so that he could double-cross Supergirl and try to achieve universal domination, but at least he made himself the paragon of truth, which was helpful when they all had to band together to focus their single energy on defeating the Anti-Monitor. It doesn’t look good for Oliver, which isn’t a problem given that his show is ending, but I also suspect that rebuilding everything won’t be quite so easy. Having Barry return to so many different points in their past before they knew each other was interesting, and hopefully it will be just as powerful to see him work to put things back together, especially since he was never supposed to return to his earth. I haven’t seen any of the films with him in it, but I recognized actor Ezra Miller’s voice as another Barry who was very confused about what was happening.

What I’m Watching: Work in Progress

Work in Progress: Season 1, Episode 6 “15, 14 (Pt. 1)” (B)

This wasn’t my favorite episode, only because it didn’t cover all that much happening, choosing instead to dive deep on a few facets of Abby’s extended universe. Her father’s wedding wasn’t all that dramatic, as it turned out, and he was fairly aware of why Abby might take issue with his getting married again so soon after the death of her mother. This was slightly reminiscent of “Fleabag,” with Abby just a bit more dramatic than the title character on that show and the new stepmother considerably more palatable. I also liked Abby’s conversation with her new stepmother’s son, which got very intimate and demonstrated how they both felt pretty awkward about the whole thing. He hit her well with a zinger about the age difference between her and Chris, and she took it in stride. Things were going relatively smoothly until she accidentally saw Chris’ dead name on the bottle and then was unable to reverse that discovery. Chris was completely oblivious to the fact that anything was wrong, and then he had to go and take her to a restaurant that happened to be his dead name. Blurring it out was a clever way of highlighting just how much it was impacting Abby and dominating her every thought. Keeping this secret bottled up from her partner who has been nothing but understanding isn’t going to go well, and I think we’ll be seeing Abby come undone in a way that will be hard to reverse after the damage is done.

In exciting news, this show has been renewed for a well-deserved second season!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

What I’m Watching: The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q: Season 1, Episode 6 “Loose Ends” (B+)

I was wondering whether we’d seen any of the other characters from the old show, chief among them being Tina, who is the only surviving main character who we haven’t seen from way back in the first season. Having her show up at Bette’s door because their daughter called her is an interesting development, one that wasn’t ultimately all that comforting since Tina still resented that this whole problem came up because Bette made space for someone besides her in her life. While they were reconnecting, it was sweet to see Shane and Quiara bonding over helping Angie to profess her love for Jordi, something that went very well. Their dynamic might need a bit more working out, but they’re getting there, which of course means that Finley gets the boot. I’m pleased that her character is becoming more tolerable every week, and I’m now prepared for her to hook up with Sophie as Dani finally hooks up with Bette, though I’ve been saying that for a while now and it hasn’t yet happened. You’d think Shane would be a bit more understanding of the havoc that she reached on Tess’ life to cause her to relapse, but she’s always been a heartbreaker who never fully took responsibility for the consequences of her decisions and actions. Alice and Nat were on the same page for one second when Gigi came out about their relationship to the waitress, but it increasingly feels like Alice and Gigi are siding against Nat, expressed perfectly in her sitting in the back seat in traffic as Gigi honked repeatedly just to get her angry.

In other news, this show has been renewed for a second season, which was hardly guaranteed!

Pilot Review: The Outsider

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, January 13, 2020

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 10 “Now Leaving Illinois” (B+)

It’s funny to think that Kev and Veronica are so used to strange things like a couple being interested in them so that they could have an orgy, but that they didn’t expect to be so put on display as an example of why it’s bad to be poor for their child. Kev was ready to give away free abortions to every prospective parent who bid on them, so I guess they lucked out just having their social status judged – and misjudged, at that. It’s no surprise at all that Frank was able to argue his way out of a sentence, and I think everyone knew it was going to end up with him walking free and pissing Faye off a whole lot more. I’m glad that Ian and Mickey finally patched things up after awkwardly going after other men, and I like that it was Ian who punched Byron first for complaining about how he just wanted to get rid of the new roommate who was tormenting him. Carl’s time as a garbageman isn’t going all that well, and he hasn’t yet gotten accustomed to eating bagels from the trash. Liam needing to find Frank is a reminder that he is in fact a little kid, and he’s going to have to get creative if he wants to steer clear of the foster care system. Lip considering moving to Wisconsin with Tami to this big, free house is a game-changer, one that doesn’t necessarily take them off the show since there have been no reports of actor Jeremy Allen White leaving. Most entertaining and complicated of all is Debs, who has now been officially blackmailed by her girlfriend’s daughter into going to prom with her. That’s going to be an adventure.

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 9 “Bugs” (B-)

I’m glad to see that there’s just one more episode left in this season since I’ve been considering giving up on it and it’s much easier to do that at the end of an arc rather than in the middle of one. There’s little guarantee that the finale will provide too much closure, and also it’s very likely that the show will be renewed for an eighth season, though that hasn’t happened yet. It’s continually difficult for me to follow Ray’s many allegiances on this show, like whether he was most interested in helping his brother Daryll or in serving his girlfriend’s father and former boss, and if he planned for the cop to get killed after he manipulated events to make sure that Judge Scholl would turn on Feratti. I’m honestly just not that interested any more, and Ray has hurt enough people along the way that it shouldn’t matter who goes to jail. Bridget being asked how she felt cutting people’s heads off makes it clear that Detective Perry should have put the whole family behind bars long ago. I thought for a moment that Dr. Amiot showing up in a scene with Terry meant that he was gathering dirt on Ray the whole time, but the look on his face when Terry mentioned his family name indicated that wasn’t the case at all. Smitty seeking advice and consolation from Mickey is not a good idea, and the only way that the finale would be even moderately satisfying would be if Ray finally killed his father, something he’s almost done but never fully been able to do since the very first season.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Pilot Review: AJ and the Queen

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: Dollface

Dollface: Season 1, Episode 8 “Mama Bear” (B+)

We always thought it was Colin’s age that was going to be the problem for Madison, but it turns out it’s a whole lot worse than that. Jules acted as quickly and defensively as she could when she realized that he was Celeste’s husband, tossing him the drink and hiding herself so that she could figure out what to do. This was the time that she really should have decided to skip the company retreat since she landed herself in an impossible situation, one that found her ultimately doing the right thing by telling Madison only to have her react very poorly and accuse her of being a terrible friend. She probably should have elicited some help from Stella and Izzy so that they could provide backup, but instead now she’s all alone. Stella is going to require some assistance getting back to a good place after her drunken visit to the school where she had big ideas of what she wanted to do, and filming her as if she was a pet or a baby rejecting simple instructions showed how out of control she was at that moment. I was surprised to recognize actress Margot Robbie by her voice as she played Imelda, who was very weird and overbearing, prompting a humorous reaction from Izzy, who unsurprisingly didn’t want to know the exact details of her death. It’s always interesting to see what stars decide to show up in small roles like this, especially when they’re not necessarily recognizable.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 1, Episode 8 “There's a certain Slant of light” (B+)

Who knew that Emily could cook? There was never a proper way to analyze her talent because she just expressed such disinterest in any kind of housework typical of women of her era, and when she’s actually trying to impress someone like Ben, she does a pretty superb job. Even her mother, who was having a tough time with her husband not being there, was pleased with what she could pull off. I was happy to see Jessica Hecht, who recently appeared on “The Affair” and is perhaps best known for her role as Susan on “Friends,” as Aunt Lavinia, who was enticed by the ham-loving Ithamar. It also made a lot of sense that Zosia Mamet, who portrayed Shoshannah on “Girls,” was cast as Louisa May Alcott, who was most interested in getting paid and going for runs, all while conjuring up story ideas like the one that would eventually become “Little Women.” I like that we got to see Sue soften up a bit after she was upset about Emily throwing herself at a married man, playing piano for her and then waiting in her bed to confess that she was jealous. It was a throwback to the closeness between them that we saw at the start of this show, but this time it ended in Sue going to Austin to be honest with him about how she found kids to be scary. Emily’s also getting herself a conservatory courtesy of her father, something that made Lavinia rightfully feel like she never gets anything close to what both of her siblings are given.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 3, Episode 8 “Dangling Man” (B+)

I was glad to see Josh O’Connor again as Prince Charles after his formidable performance in just one episode earlier this season. The sheer delight he got from causing Camilla to jump was wonderful, and I like that he pointed out that it was a rare opportunity for a future king to meet a past king, an observation Elizabeth almost made about former kings usually being dead. Derek Jacobi and Geraldine Chaplin were fantastic choices to play the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the Duke’s interview and subsequent decline were very moving. Elizabeth coming to see him to express her gratitude to him was surprisingly sentimental, and showed once again her willingness to open her mind slightly more than her very blunt husband. Reading her son’s letters to the Duke was enlightening, especially considering her harsh words to him a few episodes back when he opted to express her opinions in a very public speech. Charles and Anne dating people who had previously been together was interesting, and I like that Anne was far more aware of the risks than her brother, sharing that they should be careful not to let Camilla and Andrew play them. Examining how public life affects the personal relationships of these royals is one of the most fascinating aspects of this show, and this episode was superb in that respect. I’d love to see this show win Emmys in just about every acting category, but I think there’s possibly even too much internal competition in each supporting and guest race.

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 3, Episode 6 “Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum” (B+)

This episode featured an intense start, one that saw Nancy hurled across the room and nearly killed by the mind flayer, ending in an even more terrifying way with Eleven made well aware that she didn’t come anywhere near destroying the beast. Eleven was formidable in dispelling it out the window and saving the day, and she pushed herself to go deeper and use as many tissues as possible to get to Billy’s past. There were a lot of visual effects at the end of the episode, representing a more serious and frightening threat in an episode that also saw the hapless Steve being tortured. Robin confessing that she was obsessed with Steve even when he was a jerk was interesting, and she did a better job of holding out than he did. It’s lucky that Dustin burst in when he did, and I like that Erica believed everything he told her except that her brother was involved. I enjoyed Mike and Max arguing about what’s best for Eleven and his accidental proclamation of love that everyone except for her heard. Hopper getting the wrong flavor for his captive led to a very entertaining dynamic, one that allowed him to be right for once and Joyce to assert herself when she didn’t feel heard. I’m not always too fond of Brett Gelman, from “Married,” “Fleabag,” and “Camping,” but I think he’s perfect as Murray, whose paranoia led to him knowing Russian and who adds just the right element to the conversation between Hopper, Joyce, and Dr. Alexei.

What I’m Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 3, Episode 6 “Kind of Bleau” (B+)

Rose and Abe’s extended stay in Florida is proving to be nothing but wildly entertaining, and you can understand why Midge had to resort to comedy when her mother insists on drinking when she thinks she’s going to see her perform and asks for coffee the moment she finds out that it’s not happening. Their enthusiasm for the coconut pancakes early in the episode provided typically fantastic banter, and Joel brought Midge back to reality after he factually pointed out that she is not in fact there. It was nice to see her help Shy out after failing to realize that he was gay and had gotten himself into trouble, and it’s great that they’ve formed a true friendship throughout this tour. Susie had a lot of stress to deal with thanks to her other client, and Sophie and Gavin both calling her to complain before having very loud hate sex was the kind of absurdity she couldn’t make up. I love that she called Nicky and Frank for help and they responded to her comment of “You guys kill me!” with “One day!” Rose responding to Susie trying to temper her drinking with an angry invitation to grow a few inches was hilarious, as was Abe’s analysis of the silence involved in Midge’s performance. I like the addition of Jason Alexander as Abe’s blacklisted playwright friend, and that seems to have inspired Abe to get into a new hobby. Joel has more help than he wants dealing with neighborhood connections, and now he’s gone and gotten himself into a fight to try to ensure that his number one employee doesn’t have problems at home.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Pilot Review: Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector

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

What I’m Watching: Will and Grace

Will and Grace: Season 11, Episode 6 “Performance Anxiety” (B)

This episode wasn’t terrible even if I don’t think I audibly laughed at any point. I like that Will deciding to have a baby means that he gets to examine himself a bit in the process, which in this case allowed him to see that he’s a bit intense and judgmental of others even if he usually gets a lot of shade thrown his way, namely from the people he selflessly cooks for who don’t appreciate it at all. I had to look up who played his surrogate since I’m not at all familiar with Demi Lovato, and she performed about as well as could be expected, playing the kind of person he’d balk at without really trying to get to know her first. Showing up at her door to make his case was sweet, and he still has a long way to go in terms of understanding her humor, while she’s completely got his number, recognizing that the cleaning lady is a gift for him and not for her. Grace pretending to be someone else at the Annie-Con was mostly absurd, and you’d think Jack would have heard about it ahead of time. Debra Messing surely has a better voice than she puts on as Grace, and she didn’t even really get to revel in being able to perform, which she was able to do in front of an audience regardless of its quality. Karen is always sexually charged and ready to lob innuendos at anyone who will listen, and I think her dalliance with the wheelchair-bound veteran was among her better recent bits.

What I’m Watching: The Good Place

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 10 “You’ve Changed, Man” (B+)

I’m really going to miss this show. This episode was probably the most satisfying half-hour it’s produced in a while, mainly because something concrete happened and now we have a new direction for the (sob) final three episodes. All of the judge’s repeated mentions of her TV-watching habits resulted in the wondrous conjuring of Timothy Olyphant as his character from “Justified,” there to convince here to stay and listen but also more than ready to offer an unwanted opinion of his own. I really like confident Chidi, who asked for a chalkboard and warm pretzels and kissed Eleanor when she got into all of the philosophical talk. I liked Michael’s suggestion of a medium place, and the idea only got better as they added new layers to it, like tests to see how well someone understands how they did in the world and a way to have them carry over some of what they’ve learned from reboot to reboot. Shawn was the main impediment to all of this working, and it was great to see Michael convince him to agree so that he’d have something to keep him engaged for the next billion or so years. Chidi saved the day and got them to work together to come up with a plan so that humanity wouldn’t be destroyed, and now it should be a fun ride to see our six protagonists work with architects and other representatives from both the good and bad places to come up with a fair version of what they’ve all been experiencing these past few seasons.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Pilot Review: Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

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: FBI: Most Wanted

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: Work in Progress

Work in Progress: Season 1, Episode 5 “66, 65, 64, 62” (B+)

This show really does present such a seamless blend of comedy and drama that can’t be found too often in other series. We haven’t spent too much time with Campbell up until this point, and in this episode we got to see just how much she tends to push Abby to consider what’s really best for her. Flashing back frequently to her helping Abby move in by herself was extremely informative, and we saw all those boxes labeled with her name before their significance was completely clear. Chris has been very understanding and kind about pretty much everything so far, and he put up with a lot from Campbell in terms of those underhanded comments about his age as compared to Abby’s. She did raise a valid point about how he didn’t want to talk about anything that came before regarding his dead name, which represented most of his life given his young age. But fortunately all seems to be good at the moment, as he reacted in exactly the right way to Abby coming clean about her system of trying to determine what’s wrong with her. In lighter moments, I enjoyed watching everyone get so frustrated with Abby’s dad being completely unintelligible on the phone and the sudden prominence of Mike, who spoke up for Chris and delightfully mispronounced the word “cis” in the process. Having supporting characters who barely appear or get to speak take on a more visible role is always a treat, especially on a show like this.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

What I’m Watching: The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q: Season 1, Episode 5 “Labels” (B+)

I’m puzzled by the fact that Sepideh Moafi, who plays Gigi, is a regular cast member, and Stephanie Allynne, who plays Nat, continues to be credited as a guest star. They’re both terrific, but it’s weird that the one who’s actually married to Alice isn’t supposed to be part of the series as much of her wife’s ex-wife. Their thruple situation is very entertaining, since Nat doesn’t seem excited at all by reentering something that she felt was toxic, and they have some important questions to answer before they can really move ahead in a coherent way. Quiara telling Shane that she was pregnant but didn’t need her to be involved in the baby’s life was a strange sentiment, and I don’t see that working out at all. Bette has once again seen how her problematic affair can lead to consequences, and I’m still waiting for her and Dani to start hooking up. Dani’s father’s prenup clause made her extremely angry, but Sophie seemed bothered by Dani’s response to it. Jamie Clayton turned in a powerhouse performance as Tess in this hour, and finding a kindred spirit in Finley won’t provide much comfort when breaking her sobriety catches up with her. It was good that Rebecca spelled out for Finley what it was that made her so upset, and I don’t think there’s much hope for that relationship to go forward now. I’m glad that Micah and José are navigating their budding romance well, dealing with new challenges and unintended confessions in a mature and productive way.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 9 “O Captain, My Captain” (B+)

If there’s one person I could have guessed wouldn’t really appreciate a promise ring, it’s Mickey Milkovich. Trying to make Ian jealous with another man just resulted in that poor guy having his whole life turned upside down, and now Ian is feeling rather vengeful since Mickey is being completely unreasonable about talking about the future of their relationship. Tami judging Lip for stealing presents an interesting new challenge to their relationship, and I love that Lip tried to do the right thing and then got the money he was going to give back ripped right out of his hand by another less scrupulous thief. Frank’s situation hasn’t improved much, and I can’t imagine how angry Faye is going to be when her frame job doesn’t manage to land Frank in nearly as much trouble as she hopes. Carl’s training program was decidedly a bit too intense, and a transfer to sanitation hardly seems like the career move he really wants. Kev and Veronica’s traveling medication truck turned into something entirely different, but I’m all for them figuring out ways to scam the system and get into the abortion business. Claudia asking Debs to pick up her daughter from school was a recipe for awkwardness since they’re pretty much the same age, but things moved a lot more quickly than I expected in terms of their newfound attraction, which is sure to complicate Debs’ existing arrangement. I’m sure Claudia won’t approve, but I imagine that, in Gallagher fashion, honesty and openness won’t be the first approach.

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 8 “Passport and a Gun” (B-)

I don’t think anyone was surprised by the fact that Smitty was wearing a wire, and Ray was really off his game to not realize that until he saw the van parked outside and put it all together. Despite being out of sorts lately, he didn’t seem too startled when he marched angrily towards the van, ready to talk to likely implicate Jim Sullivan in everything since he may have had something to do with Ray’s sister’s death years earlier. Ray doesn’t have a clue that the way that he treats his brothers drives them away, whether it’s Terry who’s still being pulled by this other world and Daryll who continues to get himself into trouble again and again. Bunchy is headed there to, and Ray should also think that maybe his short sentences and lack of appreciation are what made Lena leave (though of course that was mainly so that actress Katherine Moennig could go star on “The L Word: Generation Q”). Daryll seemed to have a negotiating partner in Declan, but he was quickly double-crossed in a very Mickey-style way, and Jasmine’s decision to shoot had fatal consequences that now leave Daryll with no one to help him out of this mess. This is just the latest instance of Ray working for someone he knows is a terrible person, and he can only do this so many times before his eventual way of getting out of the job results in someone close to him getting hurt as a result of his clever betrayal.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What I’m Watching: Dollface

Dollface: Season 1, Episode 7 “F*** Buddy” (B+)

I liked that this episode brought all four of its main female characters in on the same issue of how to navigate a relationship when modern-day expectations are so damn complicated. It’s a wonder that it took Jules this long to “deep like” a photo on the social media of Jeremy’s new girlfriend, and she didn’t do herself any favors by repeatedly making the wrong follow-up decision to try to rectify it. I enjoyed the concept of J.O.T. where all the eligible men had just one thing wrong with them, and Jules jumped at the chance to be with the guy who was really, really into building Legos. Her visit to the gynecologist was pretty funny as she was told that she had contracted feelings, something that her new f**k buddy couldn’t possibly have gotten since it’s not a condition that afflicts men. Madison freaked out because she thought that Colin’s inability to commit to plans meant that he wasn’t taking their relationship seriously, and I loved every part of Goran Visnjic’s performance, particularly when Colin said that he was going to shower since anything he would say would have been the wrong thing. Stella was clueless about the fact that she was potentially living with her long-distance boyfriend, played by Ben Lawson from “The Deep End” and “Bombshell,” and that turned out not to be the case at all. This was a great use of Izzy, who was awkward and not overly helpful until she nearly became part of a threesome that would have represented the height of excitement in her life up until that point.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 1, Episode 7 “We lose - because we win” (B+)

This episode was interesting because it remained relatively grounded in reality but still presented plenty of conflict in the extended Dickinson family. Emily and Lavinia were far too excited about the circus, and naturally got their request to go denied by their father, who was much more preoccupied with his own election. It wasn’t a surprise to learn that free thinker and fervent Emily supporter Ben doesn’t vote along party lines, and all of Ithamar’s confusing chatter about the Know-Nothing Party was reminiscent of the first two important rules of “Fight Club.” It turns out that he did manage to win, but by that point no one else seemed to care all that much. Emily getting Austin to enter the poetry contest for him netted an expected win, but her father was furious that she had gone behind his back and then responded violently to her pointing out that he was really projecting his own failures on her. The most unexpected display of personality came from Sue, who wasn’t all that put off by Mrs. Dickinson, who took offense at the accusation that she would ever be a suffragette, giving her a book on being a housewife and responded angrily to Emily when she mocked her domestic inclinations. Austin’s grand effort to dig up a dead baby as a show of his eternal commitment to Sue may have been misguided, but his selection of a title to claim credit for Emily’s poem really sent her over the edge. Sue seemed to soften when she came up to check on a clearly ill Emily hallucinating a trip to the circus, and maybe she’s now entering a state not unlike the one that she was faking just recently.

What I’m Watching: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 1, Episode 9 “Play the Queen” (B+)

This show finished airing its first season a few days before I reviewed the previous episode, and I’m catching up now on the remaining two installments right in the thick of awards season after this show failed to win the two Golden Globes I predicted it to this past Sunday night. This episode was intense, the definition of a penultimate installment that’s building for a truly explosive finale to come. Mitch going to see Hannah at the start of the episode to tell her that she could take control of her story seemed to catch Hannah off-guard, but it wasn’t until the scene at the end of the episode where Hannah tried to get Mitch to see things from her perspective that Mitch showed just how unable he is to see his own role in things. Chewing Hannah out for being too smart not to know what was going on was cruel, and the fact that he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong explains why this kind of thing happens so often in the industry. Claire sadly broke things off with Yanko for just that reason, since their relationship was completely consensual but even Hannah thought that it was problematic when it wasn’t. Alex did not react well to Bradley telling her that she met with Mitch, and her going straight to Fred to tell him what Bradley was planning demonstrated just how much she was looking out for herself. Throwing Chip under the bus is a decision she’ll surely regret, but he also didn’t mention anything to her about his separate meeting with Bradley and Cory. I didn’t mention just how excited I was that the incredible Billy Crudup scored a SAG nomination along with costar Steve Carell to go with his show-representing Critics Choice bid.

Monday, January 6, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 3, Episode 7 “Moondust” (B+)

I can see why Tobias Menzies is considered a lead in this season since he’s now had multiple episodes overwhelmingly featuring him, while Helena Bonham Carter and Josh O’Connor were both excellent in specific installments and barely seen the rest of the time. Philip’s obsession with the astronauts was fascinating, and it was interesting to see Elizabeth watch him and understand how he felt about what they were doing. She was proud of the message that she had sent to them and knew that he would be infinitely more excited than she was to have the astronauts come visit the palace. After angrily expressing that fifteen minutes alone wouldn’t possibly be enough time to spend with these amazing men, he was quickly disappointed by the fact that they had colds and seemed more interested in protocol and procedure than having original or extraordinary thoughts. “They delivered as astronauts and disappointed as human beings” was a biting line of criticism, one that says much more about how he would act had he been allowed to live his own life and gone in the same direction. It wasn’t much of a surprise that he ended up opening up to the priests at the retreat center after chewing them out for being lazy underachievers earlier in the hour, coming clean about what he was going through and confessing that he was more afraid to come talk to them than he would have been to land on the moon. That’s undeniably powerful, and this was a truly mesmerizing transformation to watch for this man most concerned with presenting a strong front.

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 3, Episode 5 “Chapter Five: The Flayed” (B+)

It’s episodes like this that explain why this show is often classified as horror (which made me avoid watching it until the overwhelming awards love convinced me I had to try it), though it’s the type that doesn’t bother me or really scare me despite its inherently frightening construction. I was thrilled that two distinctly separate groups came together in this hour when Nancy and Jonathan showed up to convince Mike, Will, Lucas, Max, and Eleven that something seriously bad was going on, though the hospital’s two-visitor policy just served to separate them again. Nancy and Jonathan experienced quite the terrifying pursuit from Tom and Bruce, who weren’t particularly nice before they got flayed. Let’s hope that Eleven isn’t too distracted by Mike sucking up to her with M and Ms to show up to try to defeat the newly-reformed Demogorgon or whatever that is in the hallway between Nancy and Jonathan. The elevator crew encountered their own worrisome sight in the form of a Russian drilling operation to seemingly puncture the Upside-Down, and, resourceful as this crack team of Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica may be, I don’t know that they’ll be able to stop what they’re doing before it’s too late. Hopper was unhinged as ever as he battled some Russians and even managed to capture one, and I can definitely understand why David Harbour is the lone cast member earning awards recognition at this point for this show, even if I’m partial to a handful of the child actors. Brett Gelman’s conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman was nutty as ever, and I like that Joyce wasn’t about to put up with any of his behavior.