Thursday, April 22, 2021

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 4 “Lost Souls” (C+)

This title is an appropriate one for a storyline that I feel isn’t headed anywhere interesting anymore, and I’d just like to get Kara back from the Phantom Zone and all of the phantoms gone from National City. It took some effort for them to find a mirror that would enable them to escape the Phantom Zone, and, unsurprisingly, Nyxly showed herself to be far less pure and well-intentioned than the far too trusting Kara had thought her to be. Whether Zor-El can survive in the real world after so much time spent in this mental and physical captivity is still uncertain, but Nyxly has particularly nefarious aims that Kara recognized were too dangerous to permit her to escape, even if that meant Kara had to keep herself trapped in the process. Lena had a great solution that could have saved Kara but meant worse things for others, and she’s feeling a tremendous amount of guilt for what Lex did that’s not allowing her to make rational decisions like what Alex is able to do regarding her own sibling. I’m not sure exactly what going back to high school will do, but I’m certainly up for that trip if it gets us to a different place and format for this show. Everything Brainy is going through as he’s processing his own shortcomings is getting more and more grating by the minute, and I think this team could use a win in the near future before the next big and theoretically final threat emerges.

What I’m Watching: Breeders

Breeders: Season 2, Episode 6 “No Choice” (B+)

Things progressed very quickly from Ally thinking she was pregnant in the last episode to them trying IVF, though Ally evidently wasn’t on board with the whole thing, something she tried desperately to communicate to an either uninterested or unavailable audience. Keeley would have been a great sounding board but she had other problems to deal with, and Darren was hardly a suitable substitute, so out of touch with what Ally needed. As usual, it’s those flashbacks that really make the episode, with Ally and Paul being enamored with their home when they first saw it and Paul dubbed every single room the “sex room.” Ally responded honestly when Paul talked about finding his dream home, and I think that both having another child and finding another place to live are things that aren’t going to happen anytime soon. I imagine that her kissing another man won’t be a lingering issue, but it wasn’t a great moment – at least he recoiled right away. Jim and Jackie weren’t being particularly helpful in their comments to Ally, and even their big planned move didn’t end up happening when the size of their fish and chips helped clue them in to the fact that the idyllic setting they wanted to have as their daily life wasn’t what it used to be. I’m enjoying the brief moments of interaction we get between Paul and the kids, and Paul’s total shock at Luke’s willingness to give up his cell phone – presumably because he didn’t have any bars anyway – was a close second to Luke reluctantly accepting stuff being stored in his area when Paul sarcastically offered to take it all back down four flights of stairs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Pilot Review: Mare of Easttown

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 10 “Zoey's Extraordinary Girls' Night” (B+)

It was funny to see the radically different expectations for the girls’ nights that Zoey and Emily had planned. Zoey’s reaction to seeing Emily’s outfit was almost as great as Emily’s immediate demand that Zoey change her shoes from the very comfortable footwear to something more suited for going out to party. It did take a lot for Zoey to be able to break through the barriers that Emily was putting up, and having Emily sing a song while in the bathroom stall was a particularly effective device. That worked well also for Deb to come barging in to the house when it appeared that Maggie forgot all about her but had instead already let her know about the postponement of their plans. Their outing to the casino was certainly over-the-top, and an ultimate reminder that it’s not possible to entirely escape your own life, no matter who you try to be. It’s reassuring to know that two romances are in great shape, as Rose was relieved by Max’s desire to find a way to stay together despite her departure and Perry decided to bring his kids to meet Mo during his big solo, which went fantastically on all fronts. Zoey spending so much time with Emily meant that she was neglecting Simon, and her not telling him about her powers is more than just about keeping a secret, since the nature of their relationship and their whole connection is based in part on her being able to see more deeply into his mind than he ever could into hers. It’s good then that she’s trying to talk it out and work with the therapist played by Oscar Nuñez from “The Office” and “People of Earth,” and I just hope that he’ll work through what he might believe are metaphors rather than stopping to focus on the comical element that she is exaggerating or imagining things.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Pilot Review: Big Shot

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Pilot Review: Frank of Ireland

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1, Episode 5 “Truth” (B+)

This was an interesting episode in that it appeared to close the door on the storylines we’ve known thus far and move on to other issues before returning starkly to those very present and worrisome threats as the hour concluded. I’m not classifying this as a penultimate episode since I believe that, unlike “WandaVision,” it is not intended to air for just one season. John was not happy about the idea of relinquishing the shield, insistent that he was Captain America and that no one could take that away from him, a position that seems based on a relatively short tenure and dependent very much on him having taken over the mantle from someone else. He was summarily dismissed by the government and military without being given the chance to argue his case, and that parting post-credits shot of him crafting his own shield was definitely foreboding. If there’s one actress I wouldn’t have ever expected to see in the MCU, it’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but it is fun and exciting to have her as a clear villain who wields her intelligence as a weapon. Sam training with the shield now that he’s back at home is helping him to fulfill a destiny he previously turned down, and he’s going to need to spring into action soon now that Karli has put her plan into action and global security is very much at risk. I have no doubt that an eventful, action-packed finale awaits, and I’m curious how things will be left with no second season yet confirmed but some major plan surely already meticulously in the works.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Round Two: Rebel

Rebel: Season 1, Episode 2 “Patient X” (B)

I’m still so baffled by the extraordinary talent present on this show, and this episode even added two more to that list. I’ve been a big fan of Abigail Spencer since I first saw her on “Rectify” and “Mad Men,” and while she was fun on “Timeless,” it’s good to see her back in a role that gives her a bit more actual acting to do like that of Misha, who speaks quickly and isn’t about to let herself be ghosted by Nathaniel again now that she’s working with him in running this study. Dan Bucatinsky won an Emmy for his guest-starring role on “Scandal” and was most recently memorable in “The Baker and the Beauty,” and after finally managing to prove, with Rebel’s help, that his neo-Nazi student had been harassing him, he’s now Patient X and ready to help the case move forward, which finally has Cruz’s emotional support after Helen called him out for not being fully invested in it. Grady moving all of Rebel’s things into the guest house was a bold and unkind move, and she showed how she felt about that by taking a shot at his car. There might be hope for them now that their daughter has mandated marriage counseling, though there’s plenty more chaos sure to be on the way with Cassidy now working the other side of the case her old firm is handling. The very clear attraction that Luke has to her isn’t going to help to make things any less awkward in this very incestuous, interconnected show.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 1, Episode 14 “Love Life Support” (B+)

I’m glad that all of this sneaking around didn’t last long, even though it was funny to see how much Gina appeared to manage to cover up her stumbling in late at night and waking up Drew and Norma. Drew’s knowledge of the whole thing meant that it was out in the open and needed to be deal with, and him being the “mystery meat in their love Sloppy Joe” ended up leading to a truly awkward and excessive display of support for their relationship from a clearly unhappy Drew. Trying to buy all the flowers the woman in the restaurant was selling for the happy couple was a particular low point, though Jerry and his stolen butter took the bigger brunt of all that when Samantha reacted angrily to his offer of a flower for her. It wasn’t Drew but Gina who nearly undid things in her newfound relationship after she panicked following Gabby and Norma convincing her that Eli inviting her to come to a family wedding in Las Vegas was serious. She nearly got away with having Paul sleep over until he returned for his bagel and a kiss, and luckily Eli does seem invested enough in trying to make this work that he was open to giving her another chance. Paul mistaking Norma and Drew for Gina’s parents was a very entertaining moment, and though I don’t think it will go anywhere, Norma pointing out that she knows Drew has feelings for Gina was probably better said than left unsaid.

Take Three: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 1, Episode 3 “Shorts/Neykar” (B)

One of my favorite things on TV shows is when characters who don’t typically interact spend time together. That happened in a great way in this episode, as Al got concerned that he offended Lizzie because Riley talked to her about dressing more conservatively around him, and he was so determined not to come into her room even though she was completely fine with it. Her reaction to her brother’s poorly-conceived request was entertaining enough, and she expressed genuine surprise at Al revealing that he hadn’t ever experienced barely-clothed women or shorts. He got very distracted by the driving examiner wearing shorts to the point of backing into a tree when he was supposed to be pulling forward, and it was just unfortunate that a T-shirt car wash was happening when he was otherwise nailing his retake. It was fun to meet some of the family members in this installment, like Al’s mom, who is not a fan of shorts and who wanted him to be more like Riley with his pants. Riley and Vanessa’s daughter Hazel proved to be very precocious within moments of meeting Al, realizing that his eagerness to get to know his goddaughter could make him a particular useful adult to manipulate into doing and getting things her parents would never allow. Art’s story that was meant to compare his own experience was humorously far off-course, showing once again that he operates in a totally different manner than his children do and often lives in a fully different world.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

What I’m Watching: Made for Love (Season Finale)

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 8 “Let’s Meet” (B+)

As of this writing, there’s no word on whether a second season of this show is going to be made, and I’d like to argue that it should. The opening installments of this rather quick run were extremely intriguing, and I feel like there are so many characters and subplots – Fiffany, Herringbone, and Bangles – who we barely got to see and know who could have entire episodes devoted to their backstories. There wasn’t actually much that played out over the course of this finale, but what little did happen was monumental. Hazel saw that she finally had the power in their dynamic for the first time and used it to her advantage, forcing Byron to back up his offer of vulnerability and actually allow himself to be exposed. The fact that he teared up as he was revealing details about himself was winning him points, but then he went ahead and had an involuntary reaction that indicated an entirely different sentiment that he was feeling. Offering to help Herbert in exchange for Hazel returning to the hub was a manipulative but predictable move, and the quickness with which she responded that she would rather let him die – which Herbert heard – made it seem like she wouldn’t even consider it. Instead, the big payoff from the over-the-top ridiculousness of Judiff bugging the ketchup turned out to be crucial to the plot, and Hazel knew that the ability of the hub to mimic at least the look of the outside world would probably be enough to keep Herbert from thinking anything unusual was going on. It’s the ultimate show of respect to the father she’s reconnected with even though he didn’t ask for it and may not have wanted it, but we’ll see how all that plays out in the second season that will hopefully exist.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Cristin Milioti as Hazel

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 7 “I Want to Feel Normal” (B+)

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Byron feels no loyalty to anyone and that he wouldn’t reward someone sacrificing their convictions with anything other than betrayal. It’s not as if Herringbone does much that makes him endearing, though at least he wasn’t actually going to hurt Bennett. But he did seem very willing to throw Fiffany under the bus, and now the two of them are trapped in the pasture cube together, permanently on the run from whatever it is that seemed legitimately terrifying. Byron is taking further steps to convince Hazel that he’s serious, but I think we all know – and hopefully she does too – that it’s psychological manipulation, and that he wants her to see the divorce papers as a gesture that she doesn’t need to sign since him offering them was enough of an indication that he’s changed. Hazel did spend this episode doing something selfless, preparing Diane as if she was real and making it so that her father could see that she understood how he felt, even if it wasn’t something normal that she had initially accepted. Getting everyone at the restaurant to act nicely was sweet, and it’s just a shame that her very human interaction with her new coworker got cut short because of Byron’s announcement. Herbert offering to give Diane up if Hazel decided to keep the plane made it clear that he and his daughter have reached a very good place, and now we’ll just see how he supports her as she considers an important step in her own relationship.

What I’m Watching: Call Your Mother

Call Your Mother: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Prime Of Miss Jean Raines” (B)

It seems like Sharon’s visit is coming to an end, which is really fine since she’s probably better as a distant sounding board for the antics in Jean’s life. Their Vegas trip might have been a worthwhile event to see, but it was also entertaining to see them getting very drunk in the backyard in preparation for all the craziness that definitely did ensue. Jean got hung up on the fact that there was a much bigger age difference between her and Danny than she thought, something that he of course had known all along given that she had to give him her driver’s license when she first came to stay. Their relationship is interesting since they clearly like each other but both aren’t quite sure at what speed they should be moving. Freddie so bluntly saying that he and Celia were never having kids prompted a big reaction from her, and I liked that after she tossed the remote control and swatted away the donut from him, she kicked the donut so that his five-second rule could no longer apply. As usual, they worked it all out and seem to be headed in a good direction, while Jackie went from a very peculiar plan to one that actually makes a lot of sense. I like that Nick was rightfully concerned that he was either about to get seduced or murdered when Jean tried to overtly warn Jackie not to ask him outright to be her sperm donor, and it was a graceful pivot to her asking him out, something he readily agreed to because he thought they were already on a date.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Round Two: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 1, Episode 2 “Mermaid Taffeta Wedding Dress, $1,999” (B+)

This episode was a pretty entertaining follow-up to the first one, showing how family dynamics can spiral out of control when it’s definitely someone else’s turn to shine. The money inequality thing wasn’t the cause of tension but rather that Tom, who does appreciate the opportunity to be praised for his writing abilities, felt like he was constantly relied on to do the hard work so that Connor could skate by. Unfortunately for them and humorously for those of us watching, it all exploded during a toast that Connor was giving to his friend Spags at his wedding. It’s fun to see them both get so riled up, stealing the microphone from each other and turning their lifelong issues into a very public squabble. Sarah also made the evening about herself in a peculiar way after she tried to deprogram Denise’s notions of longing for the fancy wedding she never had and ultimately realized that giving her a semblance of normal traditions might help to abate her lingering feelings of resentment. Like in the opening episode, Marina was a particularly great supporting player, cherishing the opportunity to be away from her kids for a night and executing a carefully-planned drinking schedule that included vomiting at a certain point so that she could continue to enjoy her night in a way that she never gets to during real life. I’m definitely on board for more of this show, which I think succeeds more than perhaps it should thanks to its well-cast ensemble.

Pilot Review: Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Round Two: Chad

Chad: Season 1, Episode 2 “Sword” (B-)

I’m not sure that this is a show that I need to keep watching, in part because it’s just so cringe-worthy, but it must be said that Nasim Pedrad is so fantastic as Chad. He’s such an ungrateful brat, one who not only demands presents on his sister’s birthday but actively insults them right away. Naturally, he would bring the sword to school right away after he was told explicitly not to, and he made poor Peter carry his cello out of the case while he hid it in there. Gathering everyone together for his big announcement was indeed a disappointment, but what made it infinitely worse was that he was so excited that Reid liked it that he just went ahead and offered it to him. Actor Thomas Barbusca, who plays Reid, looks so familiar to me but I can’t place where I know him from even after looking at his credits, which include “Black Monday” and “Schooled.” Jumping through the back window of Reid’s car while he was there watching was particularly uncomfortable, and things just got pretty sad after that, including the guidance counselor tackling him after he promised he wouldn’t. It wasn’t a shock to learn that Chad’s father wasn’t the one who got him the sword at all but his mother trying to stand in for his other absent parent, and even though Chad definitely won’t learn from this lesson, he was able to appreciate all that she does for him, which was nice for a moment.

Friday, April 16, 2021

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 1, Episode 11 “All Kinds of Snakes” (B-)

I guess I missed the memo, but apparently this is the hottest show on the air, attracting a wave of actors I’m very happy to see back on television. When I saw Michael Raymond-James in the previous episode, I went back to reference my 2008 review of the “True Blood” season one finale, in which I expressed excitement at the addition of Michelle Forbes to the cast. It turns out that she’s here too playing his character’s mother, and Britt Robertson, another impressive actress who has done plenty since a young age, is his sister, who’s far more sensible and reserved but still perfectly willing to threaten uninvited out-of-town guests as the need arises. Though it’s a close call, Horst seems to be the most volatile member of that family, pulling a gun during nighttime games and accusing Jenny of trespassing while she was talking to his wife. No one in this town seems too inviting, with the motel clerk far too inquisitive and creepy, and the sheriff totally uncooperative before his deputy went out to arrest Cassie and bring her somewhere other than the police station. Jenny’s situation doesn’t seem much better, as she’s now trapped in a pit with the most unhinged Kleinsasser salivating over what he can do to her. Ronald isn’t at risk of getting found out back at home or with the truck he failed to properly scrub, but Scarlet found his taser and was a little too into the purpose she suspected it served, triggering his frantic disciplinary mode that’s not going to enable him to stay hidden in this idyllic life for long, even after he was somehow able to charm her discerning and gossipy sister.

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 1, Episode 10 “Catastrophic Thinking” (C+)

This show is back after a two-month hiatus, and things do feel relatively different. I’m starting to understand who is meant to be the focus of this show, especially seeing the names of certain series regulars that have been dropped from the credits, like Jade Pettyjohn (Grace) and Natalie Alyn Lind (Danielle), who don’t seem relevant anymore. Instead, it’s Jenny and Cassie who are the protagonists, with Ronald still existing for some unknown reason since he’s really rather unbearable. Calling and breathing into the phone so that Jerrie, who is at least being put to good use as the new office assistant for the P.I. agency, could know it was him was one thing, but lurking outside in his disguise was definitely a sign of idiotic behavior. That he managed to win over a woman and her daughter enough that they would trust him and not notice his peculiarities is hard to believe, and that the mere presence of an unexpected element would cause him to express silent anger with his taser in the bathroom makes it unlikely that he’ll be able to keep up this façade for much longer. Fortunately, I’d like to think that the infusion of so many new characters means he’ll soon fade from memory. We already saw two new bad guys introduced and killed, but I’ll focus instead on three familiar faces that I’m happy to see here even if I’m unsure that the material can live up to their talents. Ted Levine was great both as a cop on “Monk” and as a serial killer in “The Silence of the Lambs,” and he seems quite angry and powerful here, and Michael Raymond-James from “True Blood” is a great choice to play his inmate son with an apparent connection to Cassie. Omar Metwally is another great performer from “The Affair” and “Mr. Robot,” and he seems intent on following in Timothy Olyphant’s footsteps as an eccentric U.S. Marshal with an unusual way of regarding his job. Maybe they’ll be able to enliven this show and improve its quality.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 13 “Brotherly Love” (B+)

This show is doing a remarkable job this season of portraying white fragility and the uncomfortable conversations many people are finally having about passive racism. Exploring the way that Randall was always singled out because of the color of his skin has been fascinating, and it was best exemplified by Jack telling the crew member from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” that “it happens all the time” when he mistakenly thought two white boys were his sons. Kevin is also the perfect person to grapple with this concept since he tends to use grand gestures to show his emotions and he, like many other white people, want resolution and to feel as if their apologies have been heard and accepted. Randall telling him that he was trying not to be annoyed and refusing to do anything more than acknowledge his appreciation of his “monologue” didn’t sit well with Kevin, and they got to pour out their honest feelings that are complicated by years spent looking at each other in different ways and with plenty of baggage. The flashbacks to Randall insulting Kevin’s painting and Kevin calling him Carlton were highly informative, and it’s nice to see that, in spite of everything, they’re able to coexist and find tremendous value in each other. Hearing about Randall’s ghost kingdom was particularly poignant, and Kevin’s response to that, to his credit, was far more appropriate and supportive than I would have expected. It’s important to know that things won’t ever be completely okay between them but that they’ve reached a good place.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 3 “Phantom Menaces” (C+)

I don’t know what it is, but I’m not feeling energized by any of the storylines on this show right now. I recognize that Kara being stuck in the Phantom Zone may last a long time, but that’s a particularly draining plot point that hardly seems in a rush to be resolved. Additionally, it’s likely that her new friend Princess Nyxlygsptlnz might have ulterior motives and not be someone that she wants to free from the prison her mother created, and I also suspect that Zor-El won’t fare all that well in the real world either. Seeing her still alive there and knowing that she’s the protagonist of this show makes the despair that her colleagues and friends on Earth are feeling less genuine, even if they truly believe that she might be trapped forever and gone from their lives. M’gann being injured could have led to her death since she is a recurring character and not entirely central to any of the others’ stories aside from Hank, but of course she managed to survive and affirm Hank’s dedication to what he does (I know I should be calling him J’onn but I’m sticking with Hank). Lena and Brainy probably should have realized that messing with Lex was going to lead to consequences, and setting a hospital on fire to villainize Lena tracked with his tendency to enjoy showmanship and theater above all else. Brainy’s angry freakout was a bit much, and I’m not sure that Lex really will tire himself out the way Lena thinks he will now that she’s opted to walk away so that he can’t manipulate her as he always has.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 7 “Growing Pains” (B)

It’s definitely jarring having the speed force just parade around and show up everywhere in a flash as Nora, and her/its presence was messing with Barry’s ability to control his powers. Fortunately, after Barry got pretty worked up about it, they found a good balance that enabled him to channel his abilities and use the speed force as a positive motivation. Chester was awfully excited about his first solo crime scene tech call, and just like Barry and Cisco have often found themselves, he wasn’t able to do match to help protect the meta suspect that he knew wasn’t actually the culprit in this case. I was pretty sure that Joe had set things up so that Caitlin could be arrested and then proven not to be Killer Frost because Frost was elsewhere doing something at the same time, but it wasn’t anything that elaborate, and Frost was ready to get herself implicated because she wanted to break Caitlin out of custody. I wasn’t sure what was going on when Frost got very distracted by the bartender’s shirtless body, but the attraction became obvious later once it was revealed that he was the ice-touting meta who had framed her. I had forgotten how Allegra came into this show and what she did before she joined Team Flash, and it was interesting to see her allegiance to Frost as a fellow reformed criminal. I didn’t expect Frost to turn herself in at the end since nothing good can come from that, but it is true that she didn’t kill anyone and it’s possible that she’ll be rewarded for a recent shift to heroic behavior.

What I’m Watching: Breeders

Breeders: Season 2, Episode 5 “No Baby” (B+)

One of the most powerful elements of this show is something that’s far from original: the interspersing of flashbacks with moments from the present. Every time we see Paul try to control his anger, we’re treated to the explanation for why he wants to do so because we see what happened a previous time when he completely lost his temper. The best instance of that in this episode was Ally remembering how horribly Paul responded when she told him she was pregnant with Ava, which of course made her put off telling him that she was once again pregnant. He ended up being the one to bring it up, even if he didn’t think he was being serious, and he actually did a decent job of being legitimately surprised and uncertain about what to do but not negatively dismissive of the entire thing. Ally consoling Ava after she heard the comment about how hard the post-pregnancy time was turned out to very sweet, and it was probably good for her to have that great motherly moment before she found out that she wasn’t actually pregnant but instead experiencing perimenopause. Seeing how Paul and Ally dealt with the news that Luke had lied to them and was in fact smoking was entertaining, and they really do choose their battles since making too big a deal of it might have ended up sending the wrong message. Ally’s mother asking Ally if she had told him she was pregnant in front of Paul was pretty hilarious, and I enjoyed all of the reactions that came immediately after that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Series Finale)

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 12 “Father Frank, Full of Grace”

Series finales are tricky because they need to do their best to provide a fitting finish to so much that’s come before in just a short span of time. In this case, there were 133 hours of content leading up to this, and so I’d say this episode did just fine even if it couldn’t cover anything. I’m impressed that there wasn’t undue weight put on new characters, with Heidi there to serve as a distraction and potential draw to a new life for Debs and Arthur as Carl’s new police pal who might end up being his partner in a cop bar, should that idea actually lead to anything. There were no big cameos, much as I would have liked to see Fiona in some form other than as part of a hallucinated flashback of Frank’s. We didn’t actually get all that many answers, with Lip likely accepting less than half of what he had hoped for and turning down Ian’s generous offer of his share because, like always, he’ll figure it out. Mickey played dumb for the whole day while Ian got mad so that he could surprise him with an anniversary party at the Alibi, and all of a sudden they might be able to have a kid since Tami is probably pregnant again. Debs was attracted to the danger Heidi represented, and that relationship might be akin to Ian’s romance with Mickey in that there’s nothing she can do to control her criminal partner. Carl is still a cop and doing what he’s doing, with an unknown future ahead of him. And Liam was able to recognize how his siblings had all depended on Frank at some point, and now it was his turn. Frank’s narration and levitating into the air as he rose to the sky was a strange device, but the notion that he would die alone in a hospital when he could have been surrounded by his family is fitting and somewhat tragic at the same time. I’ve greatly enjoyed and appreciated this show, and while I would have loved to see it continue for years and years, I’m very happy with the eleven seasons we got that I’ll be sure to revisit and recommend in the future.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: A-
Season MVP: Christian Isaiah as Liam
Season grade: B+
Series MVP: Emmy Rossum as Fiona
Best Season: Do I have to pick?
Best Episode: This Is Chicago!

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 9 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Mystery” (B+)

It’s enjoyable to see Zoey’s powers on the fritz, mainly because it provides an opportunity for everyone to act differently. Her not being able to swear at the beginning was a fun way to start. Working with Mo and his board of pictures to determine whose song was supposed to go with which person was remarkably entertaining. I think that the best part of this episode was probably Simon launching into a very passionate and animated rendition of “What Does the Fox Say.” I liked the clever opening of them remarking how weird it was, not to sleep together, of course, but to switch sides of the bed, and things are going well aside from Zoey’s potentially smart decision not to tell Simon the truth about her biggest secret. Max’s advice was smart, and it was good to see him react so positively to the news of Rose’s sobriety which allowed them to move forward in a very good way. Mo may be the one sabotaging his relationship with Perry, but meeting Perry’s kids – plus that great number from Perry’s son – suggests that the characters are here to stay and things might ultimately work out. I also enjoyed Zoey flashing her VIP science museum badge like she was super cool. Maggie singing both parts of “Anything You Can Do” after the dinner party that went poorly was a strong scene, as was the “One in the Loneliest Number” performance by the competing teams at work, a song that immediately made me think of the great film “Magnolia.” While it wasn’t all that much of a surprise that the M meant Emily, the seriousness of her situation was, and it was powerful to see Zoey show up and offer her immediate and full support to her sister-in-law who was clearly in distress.

Pilot Review: The Nevers

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Whole World Is Watching” (B+)

This episode was easier to follow even without the context of who people are, and the main summary was people who have generally similar beliefs fighting with each other instead of focusing on their real enemies. Ayo made her terms clear, and of course it was Zemo who managed to get away when John took the wrong approach with the Wakandans, resulting in Bucky getting his arm ripped off and plenty of other unpleasantness. Zemo is smart and knows how to stay alive, getting just as much information as he needs and keeping it from those who would take it and then punish him rather than understand his necessary value. As Sam was making an appeal to Karli to change her ways, she was also making an appeal to him to join her cause, something that we know he won’t do but which does seem more understandable when presented that way. Unfortunately, John’s impulsive arrival meant that Karli doesn’t trust him, and she’s shown that she’s ready to reach him in different ways, namely through his sister. The biggest and most memorable moment of this episode came after the unexpected death of Lemar, a character I thought was very interesting, and the immediate impact it had on John. Sam and Bucky have been telling him repeatedly that he’s not Captain America, but even if he’s never going to be Steve, he very much is Captain America for the entire world, who have now just witnessed him violently beating someone to death with his shield. That’s going to have major implications for the final two episodes of this show, and I’m definitely more intrigued than I’ve been thus far.

Pilot Review: Them

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Pilot Review: Rebel

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Monday, April 12, 2021

What I’m Watching: Clarice

Clarice: Season 1, Episode 7 “Ugly Truth” (B-)

I stated last week that I might be giving up on this show but that the final scene had intrigued me enough to try another hour, and I’m not really sure what to make of this follow-up. It took remarkably little time for Clarice to see the man whose face she had finally recognized from her ordeal on a magazine cover on Krendler’s desk, truncating what I had expected would take at least several episodes to play out. Krendler confronted it but also denied what was likely happening, and now he’s in a very problematic spot, blackmailed into keeping the team off his new divorce lawyer’s tail while they’re all fully aware that Clarice has identified him and that he has connections that all but assure his criminality. It makes me wonder what the point is of this show exactly, and where it’s all supposed to end up. Ideally, Krendler would continue telling Hudlin what he wanted to hear while secretly working with his team to follow him and build a case, but I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen, especially as they’re busy investigating dark cases of those who aren’t as adept at covering their tracks and manipulating others into doing their bidding. Ardelia feels like a full part of the team now, though she’s also being pulled in multiple directions by a complicated relationship with her father and concerns about making herself too visible at work. History was certainly affecting Murray as he got very upset with everyone while investigating a case that hit way too close to home.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 1, Episode 13 “Inflammatory Response” (B)

Well, at least this is something new and mildly unexpected. Gina did seem to feel quite comfortable and at home with Drew and his dialysis buddies, and a romance was probably inevitable. It might have been entertaining to see Samantha go after Gina even though she would only be interested in the kidney, and instead we got a quick connection between Eli and Gina. Getting her way too many flowers because he didn’t know which option she’d like felt like a move but she liked it, and deciding not to move ahead because it might complicate things with Drew getting the kidney didn’t last long. I suspect that Eli is a better secret keeper than Drew and can succeed in not having him find out that they’re still seeing each other for a while, but Gina will probably feel more guilt about it and opt to tell him when he’s not even close to finding out. His night at the cigar bar went pretty well even if he stole a phone number intended for Eli and claimed it at his own, and it’s good to see him have a win. I wasn’t optimistic about how Norma staying with them and turning Drew’s house into her own following the heat lamp incident was going to go, but it was nice to see that it ended up being a bonding moment for her and Drew, where she got to pretend that he was her son for the police officer who brought her home and he got to make her a genuine and warm offer of hospitality. It’s affirming when comic relief characters are also capable of serving other functions.

Round Two: The United States of Al

The United States of Al: Season 1, Episode 2 “Repair/Tarmim” (B-)

This show definitely doesn’t get a lot of points for its writing or creativity, but there is a certain heart to its content that makes me want to stick around to watch more of it. That final scene in particular suggests the depth to the relationship between Riley and Vanessa that means they are meant to be together, something Al is completely sure of even if both of them have accepted things and moved on. There’s evidently fault to be placed not just on Riley but also on Vanessa, and it was entertaining to learn that, after continuously denying that anything was happening with Freddie, Vanessa was in fact now dating the man, something that she knew would anger Riley. After some initial poor reactions, he did come around to it and approached it in a surprisingly mature way, something he almost immediately undercut by acknowledging their positive communication that in his mind still shouldn’t lead to sex. Al’s failure to respect any boundaries is going to push buttons but also lead to unexpected dialogue between people who have no interest in talking to each other. Art’s love affair with his metal detector was a bit much, but it was nice to see him step in right away to help Lizzie search for Michael’s missing dog tags and then go back out to look the next morning after a very lengthy and unproductive first attempt. The Lizzie we saw happily engaged to Michael at the end of the episode was very different, and I think it will be interesting to see more of who she was and who she is now.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 6 “I Want You to Give a F*** about Me” (B+)

All the time Byron has spent in a simulated world has made him pretty much incapable of functioning in the real one, though at least he’s aware of how what he’s experiencing isn’t actually reality. Trying to amplify the distractions he might encounter at the beach proved to be very unhelpful, and once he did venture with Bennett into Los Angeles, he didn’t bother paying attention to the ticket he got and to the fact that he was being surveilled and photographed in an environment that he wasn’t controlling. It’s reassuring to know that the main character of this show didn’t die, mainly because Byron didn’t execute the merge, and that, even though Fiffany and Herringbone were only interested in taking the chip out to serve their own interests, they decided to let her go after Hazel compared Fiffany to Byron, something she didn’t appreciate at all. Things didn’t work out positively for Fiffany, who appeared to secure her exit package only to find herself trapped indefinitely by her angry employer. Hazel managed to communicate how she was feeling over the course of this episode very well to other people in her life besides Byron, chewing her father out for not caring about her nearly as much as he did about his sex doll partner. I enjoyed seeing Kym Whitley, who just appeared in last week’s episode of “Call Your Mother,” as Judiff, another peculiarly-named individual who became a nun to infiltrate the church and expose its crimes, and who knew how she might be able to help Hazel provided she didn’t look directly at her. Finding out about Diane seemed to change her perspective, but at least Hazel and Herbert got to a pretty good place bonding at the cemetery as the episode ended.

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 5 “I Want a Lawyer” (B+)

It does seem futile for Hazel to try to figure out a way to get away from Byron without him knowing since he is watching and listening to everything she does, and Herbert is too lazy to use their very convenient secret language to mask their conversations. I’m not sure what it is that Bengals did with Diane overnight that got Herbert upset, but at least he was relatively interested in helping Hazel to connect with his typically sleazy divorce lawyer contact at the bowling alley. Biff – a great name for such a character – was all about minimizing the abuse she described so that it didn’t sound bad at all, and he was only interested once Herbert mentioned Byron’s name and he realized how much money he stood to make from a settlement. That productive development was short-lived as Byron demonstrated his omnipotence with the blackmail photos appearing instantaneously on the bowling alley TV screens, but what he was actually doing was far worse. It tracks that both Fiffany and Herringbone aren’t really on the side of morality but rather money, though it’s possible that selling the chip to Ignacio will also weaken Byron enough that he will no longer possess the problematic power he does now. Things don’t look good for Hazel after Byron apparently executed the merge, but maybe she’ll somehow spring back to life once they take the chip out, or she’ll act like Byron does? I’m sure that would be entertaining, though there has to be some way back from this.

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 4 “I Want a New Life” (B+)

I am, generally speaking, a big fan of lengthy flashbacks that help fill in a lot of the important gaps in what we know about characters on a show. That worked very well here in establishing how Hazel and Byron first met, though obviously there’s a lot more to cover about how they got to a point of comfort that then began to disintegrate when Hazel realized that a life with this enigmatic billionaire inventor wasn’t actually what she wanted. Hazel is definitely scrappy and creative, and she’s more effective at that when she doesn’t feel totally paranoid that someone is watching her every move. The fact that she met Byron pulling a scam to get money and then that she got cash to pay her father his carefully-calculated rent by doing something very similar indicates that she hasn’t changed all that much, she’s just falling back into old habits now that she’s trying life on the outside. It took me a while to figure out where I knew her old friend from, and I realized that she’s played by Patti Harrison, a fantastic presence in the upcoming film “Together Together” that just released a trailer a few days ago and is slated for release in just a few weeks. She’s a great addition to this show’s cast and vibe, and I love how much Herbert detests her. Byron’s plan to win Hazel back by recreating the experiences she just wants to have in the outside world is going to fail miserably, and his hapless lackey, who reminds me so much of the AI guy from “Upload,” isn’t trying so hard to make it all happen. I am intrigued by Fiffany and her apparent allegiance to her missing colleague Herringbone, and I’m curious if those two have some secret plan to undermine Byron brewing because they’re aware of just how much he’s willing to risk to achieve his far-reaching goals.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pilot Review: Home Economics

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Pilot Review: Kung Fu

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Pilot Review: Chad

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Friday, April 9, 2021

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 12 “Both Things Can Be True” (B+)

I hadn’t thought much about what a Miguel-Nicky relationship would look like, though it’s also not such a distant memory when the Pearson children weren’t nearly as warm to Miguel as they should have been because they always blamed him for taking the place of their very much dad father, who happened to be his best friend. I liked that the relatively grumpy Nicky clarified that he had no interest in giving a toast, he just hadn’t wanted Miguel to do it when he was being petty. Miguel stepped in to show Rebecca’s father how much of a mistake he was making by agreeing only to tolerate his daughter marrying someone like Jack, and he earned himself a ring extraction via dental floss from the rather intimidating man as a result. The dynamic between Kevin and Randall is indeed complicated, and it was good to see Kevin so eager to fly out and try to repair things, even if he has no idea what he’s about to encounter from the newly validated Randall, whose transracial adoption support group seems to be opening his mind up to important realizations. If you’d asked me what actor I would never have expected to get cast on this show it would have been Chris Geere, a superb fit for “You’re the Worst” whose unpleasantness as Kate’s miserable boss Phillip was not at all a surprise. Beth got some major wisdom from her mother in how she should approach her relationship with Tess and her romance with Alex, and I think it should get better from here. The brief montage of Kevin’s exes all finding out about his engagement at the end of the episode was nice, and I’d very much like if all of them got invited to the wedding.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 2 “A Few Good Women” (B-)

I didn’t know what exactly was happening at the start of this episode with a suspected vampire who turned out to be an alien from the planet of Transylvan whose real existence had inspired all of the stories we’ve come to know. Him having a connection to the Phantom Zone since he tried desperately to find his missing husband made more sense, though it still caught me off-guard as completely random. Knowing that her mother was alive but not being able to be with her all the time was peculiar enough, and now Kara has the chance to be with her also very-much-living father, who has taken an “Inception”-like plunge where he believes that there’s no way out of the Phantom Zone even if they tried. Brainy training Nia is hardly what I would call gentle, and she’s already running all over the place thanks to having to babysit William. I suppose it shouldn’t be all that far-fetched that Lex would find a way to get himself completely exonerated in court, but I wonder what the longer game is here, especially since Lena could have wiped more of his memory so that he wouldn’t pose such a continuous threat to all of them. He discredited Eve with ease and then still managed to win over the jury even after Lena baited him, and she’s going to have to work with Andrea to find a way to take him down in the court of public opinion and the press if she can’t do it in the court of law, provided she doesn’t find herself facing charges too.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 6 “The One with the Nineties” (B)

I love a good time loop – they’re actually among my favorite phenomena in film and television – and this one had some of the workings of a good one but not all. I appreciated the specificity of “The Matrix” being cited as a 1998 film when it in fact came out in 1999, and it was fun to see all of the characters in the present get made over into outfits that were more befitting of the stylish times, including Caitlin ending up as a buttoned-up scientist while the rest of them were decked in something much more fun. Maybe it’s that I prefer episodes that make better use of all of Team Flash, even if characters like Chester could use some more alone time so that we can get to know him. He geeked out over meeting Nora, or rather the speed force in physical form, and then he got to bond with his dad in a totally unexpected way the day before he died, completely transforming the way he saw the mostly absent father figure who was killed in a car crash when he was very young. Working with his father to help get them back to the present was nice, and he’ll likely be inspired to finish their work on his own. It was good for Iris and Nora to talk about how Barry seeing his mother’s face made him feel, and even if it doesn’t make all that much sense to see the speed force in this human form, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone – or something – who cares deeply for the Flash just as his mother would if she were still alive. Joe going to Frost to tell her what was coming for her didn’t end well, and now it seems much likelier that she will end up getting captured given her attitude.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

What I’m Watching: Breeders

Breeders: Season 2, Episode 4 “No Faith” (B+)

I love how Paul tries to navigate everything that comes up with his children so carefully since he knows that they’re automatically going to be worried that he’ll overreact and get very angry. The look on his face when he saw his daughter praying and crossing herself was priceless, and he went about it in exactly the right way, asking her what she believed and felt and then encouraging the behavior if it was something that she wanted to do. Praising her intelligence but questioning her faith in her grandfather’s prayers being somehow responsible for Luke getting better was also done surprisingly sensitively, to his true credit. He wasn’t quite as gentle with his parents, affirming that he too hoped they would die before him when they told they weren’t infirm but were definitely not firm. Exploring with his father how him turning away from religion hurt his mother was interesting, and it’s good to have those two around to make Paul think constantly about his choices and attitudes. Keeley’s sudden return seemed like enough of a disruption to what counts as regular routine for this bunch, but it seems like Ally is about to add an entirely unexpected new factor to the equation which should change things very dramatically. I thought Ally just couldn’t stand the idea of being vegan and that’s why she was sneaking meat from the refrigerator, coupled with the severe hangover she was nursing, but it looks like Keeley’s hunch was right and another baby may be on the way for these stunned parents.

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Penultimate Episode)

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 11 “The Fickle Lady is Calling it Quits” (B+)

It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end, and even wilder to think that Frank might not make it to the finale. After everything he’s been through and the medical assessments that he’ll survive the apocalypse along with the cockroaches, him going out on his own terms in his own house would be pretty crazy. It’s very sweet that Liam wanted to spend the day with him doing “Frank things” and that he was serving as the kind of parent he never had for his own father. No one else had terribly positive news aside from Kev and Veronica, who managed to get a great offer on their house so that the only thing stopping them from saying goodbye to Chicago was their concern about the other’s feelings of longing, which were certainly stronger in Kev than in Veronica. It’s hard to watch Lip get torn down again and again, since he did do a masterful job negotiating with the woman who came and offered him $200,000, and now he’s sold all of the furniture and appliances with no offer to show for it. Mickey didn’t give his new digs much of an effort, but it’s nice to see that he and Ian have found some common ground in Mickey getting permission to pee in the pool in exchange for coming with Ian to a yoga class, something I’m sure won’t go well. I was worried that Mickey was going to go ballistic when he found out that the furniture they saw wasn’t actually included, but maybe he’ll make a minimal effort to adjust to his new surroundings. Debs was ready to give up hope and then she got held up by exactly the right person for her, someone even more volatile than Mickey, but I have a feeling it’s all going to work out. Carl getting demoted to meter maid after he went off on the rich landlord has given him a new sense of purpose, which is entertaining, though now he’s going to be obsessing over whether Tish is pregnant with his baby. I know that there’s not much hope, but I’m still holding out for Emmy Rossum to appear again in the finale since this show just isn’t the same without her. Either way, I’m eager for whatever bittersweet conclusion is to come!

Pilot Review: Atlantic Crossing

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 8 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Birthday” (B+)

It’s difficult to keep track of who on this show is actually a couple and what romantic feeling still exist between potential partners. Like on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” when songs helped characters realize who they were and who they liked, the dizzying duets that showed the many couples who were actively interested in each other were extremely informative. It was a lot for Zoey to take, and also hinted at some brewing romances like the one between Rose and Tobin that might eventually emerge out of their endless banter. Tatiana singing to Simon and him not singing back to her was key to her realizing that it was a romance she could once again pursue – though I was under the impression that they were already a couple – and I can’t quite understand why it is that Zoey and Max don’t just un-hit the “pause” button so that they can restart if they know that they feel a certain way about each other. Mo’s new relationship seems like it’s off to a good start even if Perry appreciates directness more than Mo might be willing to give, and that should be a healthy distraction for Zoey’s nosy neighbor. Aiden’s proclamation of love for Zoey was a bit random and served mainly as a way to detach David from the already auxiliary band plotline. His own marriage has heated up again, which is good, and even Maggie found a positive outlet in the planning of the big party to channel her energy somewhere.

Pilot Review: The Serpent

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Take Three: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1, Episode 3 “Power Broker” (B)

I’ll confess something that will surely make diehard Marvel Cinematic Universe fans shiver. I’m not sure what was happening in 2016, but for some reason I never managed to see “Captain America: Civil War.” I didn’t go back to watch it at any point, and eventually just opted to screen both “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” months after they were first released, presuming I could piece together what I had missed, which I think I largely did. Evidently, that gap in knowledge is presenting itself as most problematic here, since there are probably many more cues that I’m supposed to be getting which I’m not. One such character was Zemo, who made sense to me mostly because of the quality of Daniel Brühl’s performance. He’s an actor I’ve always found to be terrific, most memorably in films like “Inglourious Basterds” and “Rush.” Zemo’s eagerness to cause chaos while theoretically helping the good guys was entertaining and very watchable. We also met someone else I was supposed to know, Sharon Carter, played by Emily Van Camp, who I remember from one of the first TV series I regularly watched, “Glory Days,” which came before “Everwood,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “Revenge,” and now “The Resident.” There’s plenty going on and it’s not all that easy to keep up, but the Sam-Bucky duo continues to be fun to watch, and this show is not at all short on action, even if it’s not always clear who’s fighting for what and why certain characters are mad at others.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

What I’m Watching: Clarice

Clarice: Season 1, Episode 6 “How Does It Feel to Be So Beautiful” (C+)

I was completely ready to give up on this show, which I hadn’t even realized was coming back so soon after two weeks off the air so early in its run, and then that final scene went and happened, which makes him ever so slightly intrigued to stick around and find out what’s going to play out next. Much of this hour felt like an overdramatic dinner party, which it was, one that was wholly inappropriate to start with and which Ruth never should have organized. The nature of her relationship with Clarice is deeply problematic since she is backing her professionally for personal reasons, and inviting her to come help Catherine cope with the aftermath of her trauma didn’t go well for anyone. Clarice is not in a particularly good place right now either, and she’s pushing herself to the limit to recall information that is going to be critical to the investigation but also put her more at risk. Her colleagues are coming up against major roadblocks that show them how connected the people they’re going up against are, even to the point of a warrant not being issued for fear of repercussions on staff members, and the biggest reveal was the one that was unexpectedly tied to Krendler and his disintegrating marriage. I suspect that the man chewing potato chips like they were scenery is indeed a divorce lawyer, but he’s obviously many other things too that are going to put the entire team is jeopardy as he learns more about Krendler’s personal life.

Pilot Review: Law and Order: Organized Crime

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Law and Order: SVU

Law and Order: SVU: Season 22, Episode 9 “Return of the Prodigal Son” (B-)

This is actually the first full episode of this long-running series that I’ve ever watched and reviewed. My father-in-law can be found watching this show on endless repeat when he’s not doing other things, but I’ve never found the procedural particularly appealing. I did watch half a season of the original “Law and Order” back in 2008 during the writers’ strike, but otherwise that’s it for this franchise. My only reason for tuning in to this episode was that it serves as the first part of a crossover with the brand-new “Law and Order: Organized Crime,” which aired its pilot right after this. I had expected that the endlessly-promoted scene where Olivia breathlessly says “Elliot” to take place in the closing moments leading into the new show, but instead it happened right away, with a focus entirely on Stabler returning and mourning the injury and later death of his wife. I’m still not enthralled by the way this police show works and the minimal involvement of the heavily-accented DA, and I think I was waiting most for more clarification on Stabler’s new role and why he might have been a target. I recognized Matthew Rauch from his role on “Banshee” as the lawyer who showed up to get Sacha to stop talking right away, and I was surprised that he didn’t have a bigger part, though it appears he played the same lawyer a few seasons ago in another episode. I won’t be watching more of this show anytime soon, though I did find its spinoff to be a bit more intriguing. My next post will explain why!

Monday, April 5, 2021

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 1, Episode 12 “Canine Extraction” (B-)

Drew’s sudden infatuation with the dog that had made him miserable for quite some time felt like it came from out of nowhere, but I do understand that it was meant to be symbolic for how Drew felt about the loss of a relationship with his young, adoring daughter. It was entertaining to see how excited Drew when he told Gina about his planned dog-napping, and the genuine pleasure he felt when Gina acknowledged that she knew it was transference, a concept that he definitely didn’t think she would know. It did feel like Gina could probably have asked if she might be able to keep the dog or at least watch over it every once in a while. Samantha’s coldness followed by her turning into an instant sap when the dog came over and licked her was amusing, and she did her best to pretend that she might be interested in a doctor who wasn’t nearly as edgy as she had hoped. Gina getting caught between being the cool role model for Maddie and being a good friend to Drew led to an uncomfortable and short-lived situation, and Maddie definitely didn’t help matters by showing her disdain for the idea of hanging out with her father. It was sweet that she showed up with Gina at the end with Maddie in tow to recreate the important part of her annual memory, which was, of course, spending time with her father whether the ducks were present or not. This show’s endearing side is pretty charming and works well.

Pilot Review: The United States of Al

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Take Three: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 3 “Love Is Strange” (B+)

The way in which this episode was structured was very helpful in terms of filling in the backstory and getting us to the place where we are now. I was happy to see Nyasha Hatendi from “Casual” as Keegan James, the journalist eagerly sharing the opportunity to go inside the mystifying private residence where Byron and Hazel have lived since they first met. There were so many warning signs that Hazel wasn’t happy and that she wasn’t on board with Byron’s approach to both life and their relationship, but it’s likely that they were edited out of the aired interview. What the public knows and what they don’t may not be that important, since Byron knows that he can do anything he wants and exert unchecked control over anyone who gets in his way. I liked that it was the dolphin who saw and understood Hazel’s pain and showed her the way out, and I’m curious to know more about that compassion and understanding. Herbert may not be good for much, but him showing up to pitch a bunch of drawn-out ideas was just the right thing to distract Byron from being able to go after Hazel. Keeping a close eye on her turned out not to be a benefit, as she knew just what to do to show him how much she didn’t want to be with him. Talking her new friend through a weird but fulfilling experience wasn’t about him or her but about underlining her contempt for Byron, a message he definitely got but isn’t willing to accept.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Round Two: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 2 “Another” (B)

I was wondering after watching the first episode of this show whether Hazel was always going to look frantic as she tried to run from something that was literally inside her head, and the answer is apparently yes. She has good reason to be panicked, especially considering that the one ally she does have, her father, thinks that she must have done something wrong and that Byron could be convinced to take her back. The flashbacks to earlier moments in their relationship are definitely disturbing, and seeing her pass out and then get strapped down and hooked up so that they could insert the chip into her head was an unnerving sight. Herbert seems to be a fan of the big plans that can’t quite materialize, and he has some baggage coming into town after being deemed a pariah due to his romance with an inanimate sex doll that he’d like to think is perfectly acceptable and just a little bit not normal. Herringbone is the henchman that keeps showing up and trying to convince Hazel that he’s just there to help, and Dan Bakkedahl from “Life in Pieces” and “Veep” is definitely the perfect person for the role, making him relatively creepy and slimy and most certainly not trustworthy. Hazel isn’t into trusting anyone else right now, and I have a feeling that her direct approach of telling Byron that she wants a divorce isn’t going to be particularly successful either, though at least it’s one way of confronting the problem.

Pilot Review: Made for Love

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Generation (Mid-Season Finale)

Generation: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Last Shall Be First” (B+)

It’s good to know that this show will be back for more episodes since its first season is split into two halves, and sixteen episodes feels like a very generous and worthwhile count that will only be increased once this show is hopefully renewed for a second season. I like that we got a quick fast-forward from the main events we had been seeing to the quick flashes to the future bathroom birth rather than go through all of the time that happened in between. Chester really did not seem like himself, wearing traditional clothing and walking around understandably dejected after Sam told him that he would be working with a new guidance counselor, and it was very sweet to see his teammates rally for an International Chester Day by taking their shirts off and getting him to smile and do the same. He made a new friend who is unfortunately going to distract him from looking at Nathan in the way that he sees him, and I’m not sure if listening to that long, meandering voicemail is going to change any of that. Nathan did do a formidable job of standing up to his mother when she saw the video and called to proclaim her intent to go “Old Testament,” and I’m eager to see how his newfound confidence changes him. We only saw a few lingering shots of Greta in the rearview mirror, but it seems that Riley isn’t ready to move on and there may be hope yet for a romance between the two of them. This show is very well-done and has terrific characters, and I look forward to its return at some point in the near future.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

What I’m Watching: Call Your Mother

Call Your Mother: Season 1, Episode 9 “One Bad Mother” (B-)

This episode felt even more exaggerated than this show usually does, but at least it was still entertaining. Sharon’s continued presence is making things awkward in a different way than I had expected, which is that her completely out-of-control behavior after she takes sleeping pills led to her crawling into Danny’s bed multiple times and cuddling with them. As someone who has frequently used sleep aids, I’ve never experienced anything like this, but I know it’s typically fodder for comedy, and it was most fun to see Danny freak out after he thought something had happened between them. The far more intimidating presence in the episode was that of Barbara, Lane’s mother, whose visit prompted him to purge any potentially vulnerable elements of his life. She was understandably upset when she heard Lane call her Mother Raines and saw a warm connection between the two of them, and I like that she responded to that by trying to steal Jean’s own children and provide them comfort, particularly the dejected Jackie who couldn’t catch a break. She’s usually much snarkier and more defensive of her actions, but here she was just all about stacking food and daring herself to eat it as she somehow didn’t feel a phone underneath her. Celia and Freddie should probably work on their communication since this all had an easy solution, though Freddie doesn’t seem great at mustering up the courage for confrontation, like the conversation he’ll never have with Celia about needing to shut down all of his games and devices before unplugging them.

What I’m Watching: Resident Alien (Season Finale)

Resident Alien: Season 1, Episode 10 “Heroes of Patience” (B+)

I’m very glad that this show has already been renewed for a second season since this would have been one hell of an ending to never get resolved. As I’ve been saying this entire time, it’s hardly a surprise that Max would have stowed away on the ship and ended up in space with Harry as he was hurtling back to his home planet, but that’s exactly what should have happened, and I’m so eager to see what happens next. Sahar and Max were clever in their unsuccessful efforts to outsmart Lisa and David, and ultimately it came down to Ben and Kate going nuts on them and reaffirming their marital connection through a shared defense of their family. Ethan appears to have been collateral damage who will likely be held or killed because they thought he was the town’s doctor, and that’s sad to me only because I like Michael Cassidy a lot and would have loved to see him featured more (which is still possible). Somehow, D’Arcy didn’t figure out that Harry was an alien even though she had Mike and Liv come to search his house, but she did help Jaye and enjoy the opportunity to get revenge on Jimmy for being such a terrible person. I also really liked that Liv was so touched by Mike getting her the Nespresso machine, something he tried to brush off as "for the office." Harry getting distracted from his mission by the appeal of pizza and conversations with the dead real Harry were entertaining diversions, and I enjoyed how Asta shifted from a sentimental goodbye to harried rushing of him when he casually said that his device was going to kill everyone in eighty seconds. The revelation that it was the real Harry who killed Dr. Hodges is intriguing, and I’m not sure what to make of it. But I do know that I really like this show, and can’t wait until it comes back for season two and beyond.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Alan Tudyk as Harry

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Season Premiere)

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 1 “Rebirth” (B-)

It’s strange to come back into this show a little bit later in the season than a few of its Arrowverse counterparts, and I’m honestly much more intrigued by what was going on in the last show to hold this timeslot, “Superman and Lois,” which is due back in a little under two months when this show in turn goes on hiatus. I know that this wasn’t intended to be the season premiere and all this Lex/Obsidian business was likely going to be wrapped at the end of season five, but it’s now all still going on as this show begins its final season. That’s also odd to know given that the other series have all been enthusiastically renewed for more, whereas this one is ready to sign off at just six seasons, which is two fewer than even the already-ended “Arrow” got. I am glad at least to see the characters evolving and that there’s a great team at play here, with Lena firmly deciding which side of this battle she wants to be on and encouraging Alex to be honest with Kelly since not opening up to close friends is exactly what pushed her away from Kara so viciously. M’gann and Hank seem to have a good bond going, and they’ll presumably lead the charge to find Kara and bring her back from the Phantom Zone. Now that she’s separated from her father and Obsidian control, it seems like Andrea is stepping back into the journalism business full-time, and it will be interesting to see where she directs William, especially in Kara’s absence.