Friday, December 31, 2021

What I’m Watching: Hawkeye (Season Finale)

Hawkeye: Season 1, Episode 6 “So This Is Christmas?” (B+)

I’m choosing to label this a season finale rather a series finale since I think that these characters really should come back for more, and though Kingpin’s introduction into the official MCU is a big deal, I’m not sure that there’s another way to involve the other players, particularly Kate, who was terrific. I’d also love to see much more of Yelena, who was absolutely fantastic when she was complementing Kate and getting her mad that she was making her like her. It was evident that Yelena wasn’t going to end up killing Clint, but that didn’t make the path to get there any less fabulously entertaining. I enjoyed that the LARPers stepped in to help and take on the roles they had always wanted to play, and it was a pretty epic battle with the Rockefeller Christmas tree coming down, though a bit less deadly than say, the many Avengers taking on Thanos and his army of acolytes. I love that Kate was excited that Clint was wearing his new costume, and that she came over to be with his family for Christmas after all the action. The trick arrow she shot didn’t too much to fell Kingpin, though Maya may have taken care of that, even if it’s far from likely that he’s actually dead. Eleanor helped save Kate but she still called the police on her, which makes sense, while Jack got redeemed and even got invited to find his destiny as a LARPer. What didn’t wow me quite as much was the post-credits performance of the Avengers musical since that just isn’t as enticing to me, but I would absolutely return to see the continued adventures of Hawkeye and his as-yet-unnamed sidekick, or, better yet, Kate and Yelena teaming up to take down the next villain. This was fun.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Hailee Steinfeld as Kate and Florence Pugh as Yelena

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11, Episode 9 “Igor, Gregor, and Timor” (B)

It’s getting more and more difficult to feel any sort of sympathy for Jeff because of the revelations about Jeff Garlin’s real-life conduct, and the fact that he didn’t want to shell out a lot of money to make up for the affair he had wasn’t easy to generate. Why a $10,000 vase really means something to Susie when Jeff has plenty of money is a mystery, but that’s part of what this show is about, the illogical nature of the things that make people happy. Larry, for instance, was trying to get Irma to get vaginal rejuvenation surgery specifically so that he wouldn’t have to have sex with her for six weeks, but in getting Susie to lie for him – never a good idea – he accidentally prompted her to scare her off of doing it, while Susie got the idea to do it herself. It felt particularly random for Bill Hader to show up playing three apparent siblings who all gave Larry and Jeff unhelpful advice and made their lives more difficult, but Hader was funny and it was a great reminder that the show that won him two Emmys, “Barry,” hasn’t returned to HBO since it finished its second season in May 2019 but fortunately was included in HBO’s preview of content that will premiere in 2022. Larry’s ability to break two $10,000 vases was remarkably impressive, and it’s a wonder that he only screws up a portion of the things in his life when you’d think he would manage to ruin it all.

What I’m Watching: Insecure (Penultimate Episode)

Insecure: Season 5, Episode 9 “Out, Okay?!” (B+)

This was a great episode to really shake things up, seeming like it could have been fine to have everyone in the same place and that completely imploding at the end of the half-hour, making things completely uncertain for the final installment. Opening with Issa and Nathan looking for an apartment together was fun, and even if they were both equally upset that they didn’t get it, they were united in that sense of wanting to be together and being disappointed that it wasn’t going to happen in that way. Unfortunately, Lawrence got convinced that he didn’t fight enough for her, and when he actually saw her in person, he felt compelled to say something. Bantering with Nathan about the best kind of barbecue seemed innocuous enough, especially with Taurean getting serious about ordering some since he was quite high, but then things got very bad when Nathan walked up to Lawrence expressing his feelings and Issa trying to play it off as nothing. At least Taurean and Molly seem like they’re going to work out and that they’ll be very good for each other, certainly a better fit than Molly and her ex who also happened to be at the party. I loved how awkward Taurean was when he pretended that the edibles he brought were actually just trash he had to throw out since he didn’t think it was that kind of party. I’m looking forward to whatever happens in the finale – this has been a great last season of a great show.

What I’m Watching: Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets: Season 1, Episode 6 “Saints” (B)

That was a freaky start to this episode, with screams of terror moments before the deadly crash happened right in front of the car, indicating a supernatural element of this show that I haven’t been eager to confront. That was also definitely present both in the past and the present with Taissa eating dirt while seeming possessed, and it’s hard to know what to make of that. The near-drowning was also pretty intense, as if being stranded away from the rest of civilization wasn’t concerning enough. The dynamic that exists between Shauna and Jackie’s family is definitely awkward since they obviously would have preferred that their daughter was still alive and that she was married to Jeff, but, despite his shortcomings as a husband, he at least said the right thing to show his support for her. He wasn’t aware, of course, that Adam was texting her to tell her how much he missed her. I was intrigued that Natalie brought along her new/old boyfriend on an errand then went with him to his son’s game, where she gave him helpful advice, but she really would do better to steer clear of Misty. If there was a villain on this show even more nefarious than whatever lurks in the shadows and takes control of the girls both in the past and the present, it would be her. She steals pills from work, has a camera watching people who have no idea, and, most disturbing of all, she lured Jessica into her car and then chained her to the bed in her basement.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

What I’m Watching: Dexter: New Blood

Dexter: New Blood: Season 9, Episode 7 “Skin of Her Teeth” (B+)

The idea that Angela doesn’t need Jim but she needs Dexter has a meaning she doesn’t even realize, since she thinks that Dexter is merely a forensics expert and not a serial killer who takes out the trash that she would be more than happy for him to dispose of unless she has to directly confront it. All signs seem to point to Kurt as the culprit, though he was very calm and had a detailed story to spin about the terrible things this father used to do when he got brought in for questioning. He’s too embedded within this town’s culture to be a legitimate suspect now that he’s been identified, and he evidently has a huge support network ready to rise to his defense, and potentially to abduct Dexter given the alarming final moment of the episode. Dexter didn’t seem interested in letting Harrison have any boundaries, showing up to his work and pressing him not to spend time with Kurt, and Audrey’s effort to express concern at Harrison crossing the line when he broke the other kid’s arm, something he didn’t take well since he didn’t want another person telling him what he could and couldn’t do. Harrison claims he remembers everything, which helped to explained John Lithgow’s guest appearance, though it’s possible he’ll be back for more. As if Dexter didn’t have enough going on, Molly seems to have realized that Dexter couldn’t possibly have overheard her conversation and tipped Angela off to the fact that he hasn’t exactly given up his old ways.

Pilot Review: 1883

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: Dickinson (Penultimate Episode)

Dickinson: Season 3, Episode 9 “Grief is a Mouse” (B+)

Things were looking up for Edward on his ride to Boston, but as soon as he suggested that he wanted to spend time with his family, all of his dreams of being in politics were promptly dashed and he was thrown out of the carriage by Conkey. He wasn’t actually involved in any of the Dickinson family drama after that, but it was sweet to see Austin and Lavinia show up uncertainly to Emily’s urgent invitation and then realize that they can all be together and happy. Lavinia not being surprised about her father’s decision didn’t change the fact that she didn’t like it, and Austin seemed quite amenable to making sure that he didn’t continue the legacy of generations before him. Giving her mother a pep talk was a bit more of a challenge, but fortunately that worked too, and we even got a brief shot of Jane Krakowski dancing, which was awesome. George’s goodbye party should have been melancholy, but instead it helped everyone get back on track, including Austin, who confessed that he paid someone to go to war and in his place and was essentially forgiven by both George and Sue. The biggest and best development was that Emily was comfortable being herself, kissing Sue almost in view of other people, and then she got to read the poem that Sue had published anonymously in front of everyone, with a special emphasis towards her as he read it. Ending with them happy in bed together was wonderful. Higginson’s impending arrival shouldn’t change that much, and hopefully he’ll at least comfort Betty with whatever message he brings from Henry.

What I’m Watching: The Shrink Next Door (Series Finale)

The Shrink Next Door: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Verdict” (B+)

Opening with a flashback of Marty helping Phyllis and her kids escape her previous relationship was a fitting introduction to the final encounter with these characters. It was sad to think about how much Marty missed in terms of time with his family, and his niece was understandably upset at him reaching out without apologizing. Phyllis made quite the entrance when she nearly broke down the door shouting for Marty to open it, and it was sweet to see them slowly reconnect as Phyllis commented about all the absurd changes Marty had made at Ike’s behest. Not wanting to burn Ike’s manuscript showed that he still felt a connection to him, but that changed when Ike showed up and reacted in the worst possible way. After seeing how Marty spoke to Bruce in the way that Ike spoke to him, it seemed like he was never going to escape, but showing Marty at a Passover seder with his family a year later was indicative of how he had broken free but was continually worried that Ike might show back up. Ike was still delusional during the hearing that took place almost in the present, and he was acting as if nothing had changed. Marty was right to point out that it wasn’t all good times, and having him end by saying they were out of time was perfect. This was an exceptionally well-done show, and I hope it earns plenty of acclaim come Emmy time for all its performances and production elements.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Paul Rudd as Ike

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Top 21 New Shows of 2021

Since 2013, I’ve been ranking my XX number of new series in 20XX. In 2021, I screened 162 pilots. My annual TV Awards, the AFT Television Awards, are given out during the summer. It’s always nice to check in midway through the television season to reflect back on all the calendar year introduced us to. As 2021 closes out and 2022 begins, here’s a look back at the best new shows of the year. Click on series titles to read my reviews of every episode!

#21: Rebel (ABC)

#19: Blindspotting (Starz)

#18: Made for Love (HBO Max)

#17: The Pursuit of Love (Amazon Prime Video)

#16: Physical (Apple TV+)

#15: The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video)

#14: Mare of Easttown (HBO)

#13: Halston (Netflix)

#12: Hawkeye (Disney+)

#11: Schmigadoon (Apple TV+)

#10: WandaVision (Disney+)

#9: Resident Alien (Syfy)

#8: The Chair (Netflix)

#7: The End (Showtime)

#5: The Shrink Next Door (Apple TV+)

#4: Genera+ion (HBO Max)

#3: The White Lotus (HBO)

#2: Hacks (HBO Max)

#1: Loki (Disney+)

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

The Great: Season 2, Episode 10 “Wedding” (B+)

It feels much better finishing this season knowing that it’s been celebrated with top-tier nominations, a considerable improvement from its lackluster season one Emmy take. While this finale wasn’t quite as fantastic as the end to season one, it came pretty close, and I will be so incredibly disappointed if it doesn’t return for more. The way in which this season has charted the relationship between Catherine and Peter has been so incredible, and ending with Catherine sobbing after killing Pugachev, who she thought was Peter, before she was so comforted to see the real Peter emerge perfectly fine and alive, was extremely powerful. For someone who has never been all that bright, Peter knew exactly the importance of Catherine having known from Marial about what he did and not killing him on the spot, and he was smart to prepare for a counter-coup but not actually go for it. Catherine was formidable in her violent sit-down with the Sultan, played by William Postlethwaite, son of the great actor Pete, and she was brimming with rage when she came in to the wedding to deliver her list of five points to Peter. Airing their dirty laundry out in public in front of the entire court somehow worked, and it was fascinating to see them react to each other. After her groom went to throw up because he ate too much cake, Marial was horrified to be rounded up with all of Peter’s crew since she was the one who told Catherine the truth. I do hope none of these characters, especially the duplicitous and manipulative Georgina, aren’t executed and instead stick around for season three and beyond. I really want this show to be celebrated widely, not just for its lead performers, who are excellent, but also for an amazing supporting cast, including Phoebe Fox, Sacha Dhawan, Douglas Hodge, Adam Godley, and Belinda Bromilow. I’m anxiously awaiting the season three renewal.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult

What I’m Watching: The Great

The Great: Season 2, Episode 9 “Walnut Season” (B+)

Joanna’s absence hasn’t been felt in the way that I had expected it might, but it is threatening to unravel Peter since he’s deathly afraid that he’ll reveal what he’s done at some point to Catherine, the closer they get. But secrets do have a way of coming up at exactly the wrong time, and that’s what happened when Peter was communicating that fear to Elizabeth and accidentally told her that he had seen his mother drown her son. Fortunately, Elizabeth just sought to care for Paul as if he was her son rather than to exact some sort of revenge on him, and Catherine and Peter became much closer on the ride to get him. Seeing how Peter dealt with the bandits was entertaining, and he really does know how to handle himself and to care for his son. Georgina’s return threw Grigor for a loop, and it was also bad timing given that Marial happened to need a husband when her nephew returned to reclaim his rightful place as head of her family. After humorously discounting a handful of prospective husbands for ridiculous reasons, she found her own solution, which doesn’t seem very practical but may actually work. Archie definitely isn’t doing a great job of controlling his desires, but at least he’s trying to get creative about how and where to act on them. I’m not ready for the final episode of the season just yet, and I certainly hope that this show returns for a third run.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Pilot Review: With 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: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 8 “The End Has No End” (C)

I had to check to see how many times Cassie’s father had even appeared in this show, and apparently he was a regular fixture for the first few episodes before suddenly returning for the last three installments. His death, however, feels a bit forced since he hasn’t really been a consistent player, and it’s not anything like this show killing off its main characters in shocking fashion, like Cody or Rick. Ronald also showed up to specifically not kill anyone, and then it just happened because Joseph tried to not let him leave? That doesn’t add up, and it doesn’t even matter since Wolf came and captured him again, so it won’t be easy to find him unless Mark follows up on his earlier visit. Phoebe didn’t react particularly well to seeing Ronald, but this show also has no concept of how it wants him to be perceived since there’s no reason anyone should feel sympathy for him, as well as the constant plot hole that everyone should be looking for him. It’s still taking Cassie too long to make the connection about Max, even after Jenny told her about it, and now T-Lock is a man on the run confronting Max for the money that he believes she has. Jerrie is out of the picture back home, which is a thread that this show will apparently continue to follow, while another family reunion didn’t go as poorly as it could have, with Ren showing no signs of giving in to her brother.

Pilot Review: MacGruber

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: Firebite

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, December 27, 2021

Pilot Review: Station Eleven

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: And Just Like That

And Just Like That: Season 1, Episode 3 “When in Rome…” (B)

It’s probably for the best that Mr. Big is no longer alive and the characters on this show have to grapple with the unknown aspects of his life given the recent allegations about Chris Noth. Obviously, these scripts were written before all that came out, so the awkwardness is going to have to rest on Carrie not knowing how to approach the things she discovers in the best way. A prime example of that was Natasha, who she tracked to her office, saw in her window after she had been told that she was in Rome, and then nearly spilled coffee all over when she burst into the coffee shop bathroom she was using. Charlotte and Miranda are both encountering next-generation problems with their children, and I enjoyed how Brady’s girlfriend told Miranda that she had “aging bones.” Charlotte learning from Rose that she didn’t consider herself a girl was a bit more complicated, especially since Anthony wasn’t sympathetic to her slow process of self-exploration. I do wish that we got to see Evan Handler more since I really liked him on “Californication” and I imagine he’d still be a lot of fun even those his role is considerably less exaggerated. Charlotte finding a bunch of mini vodka bottles in Miranda’s purse was startling, but Carrie seemed much too distracted to process it. Miranda is definitely bonding with Che, which could present an issue given that she’s very much married to Steve. Stanford having his chair hit repeatedly after he insisted that any three-top could be turned into a four-top was the definition of karma.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Mayor (Holiday Special)

Mr. Mayor: “Mr. Mayor’s Magical L.A. Christmas” (B)

I appreciated an unexpected sampling of this show, which, unlike the rest of the NBC comedy lineup that aired an early episode or two in December, isn’t returning until March for its full second season. It was dependably absurd, the best representation of this show’s warped universe in one short half-hour. The concept of L.A. Christmas Eve being December 22nd, meaning that everyone has to leave for their trips out of town, is exactly the kind of thing that isn’t quite real but somehow could be, and naturally Neil would try to do something nice for all of his staff that ended up keeping them all there late. Orly’s suggestion of an experience instead wasn’t a great idea since that only made it worse, and Taran Killam’s magician was not the attraction he should have been. Bringing everyone together to sing Jaden’s song for him after Neil set his script on fire was a perfectly ridiculous conclusion, and I enjoyed the debate over who the main character in this story was. Tommy not being able to remember the salad name of the weak-armed skeleton crew’s leader was entertaining, and figuring out the way to make him the true hero took a while but eventually worked out. I enjoyed recognizing a “30 Rock” player, Scott Adsit, as Patrick the photographer, whose obsession with Arpi delighted Mikaela but did not make her happy at all, forcing her to stage a happy get-together when she instead whispered a rather harsh warning in his ear. This show really is weird.

What I’m Watching: Hawkeye

Hawkeye: Season 1, Episode 5 “Ronin” (B+)

I can imagine the anticipation that built for people who saw “Black Widow” months ago and were waiting for this moment after they saw the post-credits scene that showed that Yelena would be coming after Clint, and I had to wait less than twenty-four hours between the two. Florence Pugh certainly is fantastic, and it was fun to see her completely own those scenes with Hailee Steinfeld where she was offering her mac and cheese and laughing when Kate said that she was glad she didn’t kill her. The unfortunate part is that there’s just one episode left, and it’s hard to know if the show is going to continue for a second season or not given the tendency of these Disney+ MCU shows to be just one-shot efforts feeding into the overall universe. The biggest news on that front is indeed monumental, since the introduction of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin means that the Netflix Marvel shows are now officially tied in to these, following his role on “Daredevil.” The more crucial element of that for this show is that Eleanor is the one who hired Yelena, something that was previewed when she made a suspicious phone call in the last episode and now indicates that maybe Jack was set up, but not by the person Kate thought. I’m sure the last episode of this season will be action-packed, and I hope that things will continue past this since it’s been a lot of fun and featured some great characters, particularly Kate.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Pilot Review: Grand Crew

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 Flash

The Flash: Season 8, Episode 5 “Armageddon, Part 5” (B+)

I was excited that Darhk showed up again at the start of this episode since he ended up still being around, and for a character that’s been dead for a while, he’s sure been able to be relatively present. It was also good to see Nora briefly since she left the legends, and it’s good to know that, even if their shows aren’t on anymore or don’t regularly feature them, good characters may still pop up again on other Arrowverse series. That includes one person I wasn’t too familiar with, Mia, who showed up upset at the idea that anyone would even think to help Thawne continue to exist, and Despero took advantage of her passion to possess her and use her as a vessel to ensure that future did not come to pass. Despero wanting to be a hero when he really was anything but didn’t turn out too well for him, and now he’s a forgotten threat who likely won’t return again. I understand why this crossover happened like this because of COVID protocols where they had only one person from each show come to this set, but I do find the multi-show crossovers with all the supporting characters from each far more engaging. Now that Despero is gone, we’re back to this show’s universe, and I’m curious to see what the ending flash that shows the other Nora and Bart apparently back in the timeline leads to when this show returns in March, which feels like a very long time from now.

Pilot Review: American Auto

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: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11, Episode 8 “What Have I Done?” (B)

The lengths Larry is going to in order to get Irma to help him get this ordinance changed are quite extensive, and it’s a bit more cringe-worthy to watch than anything else. The positive part of it is, of course, that Tracey Ullman is obviously having a lot of fun essentially playing the female version of Larry, someone so unappealing who makes an issue out of everything. Evidently, this plotline is going to be dragged out through the end of the season, and having her live with him after he managed to get the videographer to do him a favor and film staged footage of him reacting sensitively to the vow renewal. Larry’s behavior when he showed up early to the party and refused to leave was quite entertaining, and I love that he was being watched on the security cameras as he was going around touching everything just for fun. Jeff’s lotion didn’t work well, and Larry’s concern about Jake’s assistant listening in on the phone made for a humorous ending with Susie’s phone call. It’s not quite as funny, of course, to imagine Jeff having an affair following reports of actor Jeff Garlin being fired from “The Goldbergs” as a result of his on-set behavior. Leon’s House Husband concept did seem too good to be true, and of course negotiating down the price resulted in subpar service and all of the people that Leon had gone to help get a better deal expressing anger at him for leaving them in a worse situation than they started.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

What I’m Watching: Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets: Season 1, Episode 5 “Blood Hive” (B)

I find the events of the present much more intriguing than what we’re seeing in the past, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing since a huge part of this show is the massive secret of what transpired in the aftermath of the crash. I’m not a fan of horror, and whatever’s going on with Taissa’s family in the present and that séance in the past were not very appealing at all. It’s also hard to know whether any of this is meant to be supernatural or if it’s more about the potential for evil that humans have without any undead influence. I am very intrigued that Shauna keeps seeing Jackie everywhere, and that she chased after her at the club and ended up following her own daughter. They had a good bonding moment after that where she asked if Shauna was cheating on her father, but Callie tried to turn the tables on her and blackmail her the next morning. As usual, Melanie Lynskey was absolutely fantastic as she talked to her about mutually assured destruction and all the ways in which she would suffer from the consequences of her actions before daring Callie to tell her father. Taissa was never going to drop out of the race, and now she’s actively going to be vengeful in her campaign even though her family doesn’t want her to be involved. I’m glad that the four main characters are getting back together in the present, though it doesn’t seem to be a happy reunion, especially for Misty, whose smile disappeared when she heard what someone really thought about her.

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 5, Episode 8 “Choices, Okay?!” (B+)

We’re getting very close to the end here, so every time we got a glimpse of what Issa’s future could look like, I wondered if that was going to be the path she actually took since things do have to wrap up at some point soon. I’m such a big fan of Mirror Issa, and it’s great that we don’t see her all that often so her appearances are so very much appreciated. Seeing her imagined fantasies and nightmares was quite entertaining, particularly her glee at flying first-class that she tried to pass off as casual and normal, and getting a key to the city as a sign of having truly made it. Crenshawn wanting to team up with Issa after the way their last collaboration went was a bit of a surprise, and it’s fair that she would want to really evaluate her options to be sure that she was making the right choice. She and Nathan seemed to be headed down a great road together, suggesting the idea of moving in together and then moving to a more humorous moment as Nathan told her that she was using his toothbrush. But the fact that Lawrence was present in both futures and then she thought she heard him instead of Nathan in real life shows that she’s not going to be able to just move on without fully putting him behind her. After a draining day of trying to convince her parents to get serious and communicate about their wishes, Molly received exactly the kind of support she needed from Taurean when he sent her wings and wine after she cancelled on him. That relationship may be just right even though she never considered it before this.

What I’m Watching: Succession (Season Finale)

Succession: Season 3, Episode 9 “All the Bells Say” (B+)

I managed to go more than a week after this episode aired without having anything spoiled, despite it being all over Twitter and the Internet. While I do think it was a good episode and I can appreciate this show’s quality, I don’t quite comprehend the way in which so many are saying that this is the greatest hour of television they’ve watched all year or in a long time. It was strange to have it open with Logan reading a book to his grandson since he doesn’t feel like the kind of person who is capable of human connection like that, and we also got to see the adult Roys playing Monopoly, where Willa called Shiv out on cheating. It was good – and a little terrifying – to see Connor freak out and yell at everyone that he was the eldest son, not Kendall, but that hasn’t worked out so well for him, especially since he was completely left out of the attempted mutiny at the end of the episode. At least he’s going to marry Willa, since she expressed that it was worth giving it a shot even if she hardly seems committed to the idea. The way in which the other three siblings worked together after they comforted Kendall following his manslaughter confession was a remarkable improvement over Kendall’s lone effort to take down Logan in season one, and it was intense to watch them all spring into action making phone calls at the same time. They didn’t see the ultimate betrayal coming from the parent they thought was more human and kindhearted, and now they’re really going to be left with nothing. Season four should definitely be interesting, and I look forward to watching along with audiences after this one is enthusiastically celebrated by all awards bodies.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Kieran Culkin as Roman and Matthew Macfadyen as Tom

What I’m Watching: Dexter: New Blood

Dexter: New Blood: Season 9, Episode 6 “Too Many Tuna Sandwiches” (B+)

Seeing Dexter respond to being pulled over by Angela when he thought it was a sex thing and she actually knew who he really was ended up being far less unpleasant than it could have been, particularly because he told her a story that she mostly bought about needing to leave that traumatic point of his life behind. It didn’t help him at all that Harrison got caught in Audrey’s bed by a furious Angela just after that, though it’s good for Harrison to have someone like that to confide in who’s not a secret serial killer. Dexter is not doing a great job of keeping his emotions in check, marching onto the wrestling floor to have a go at Kurt, who is definitely not happy with him after he showed up unannounced at his cabin where he was certainly about to imprison Molly. It’s hard to imagine that she’s not going to press and start researching Kurt now, and she’s likely to find her way to Dexter’s true identity before long. Seeing Dexter and Harrison in therapy together is interesting, and I feel like it would be smart for Dexter to let Harrison in on his dark passenger sooner rather than later since he should give him that important guidance he needs before he goes down an even darker path. He’s not likely to be the target of any police attention at this moment given Angela’s new harrowing discovery, one that is going to shake Iron Lake to its core as old skeletons are literally unearthed.

Friday, December 24, 2021

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 3, Episode 8 “My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –” (B+)

Emily is moving through the world in a way that’s not very tethered to time or space at the moment, seeing flashes of what her life could be if reduced to the worst parts of a single relationship. Edward having her draft his will was a great way for her to be recognized, or she thought, until he revealed just how stuck in his era he was by leaving everything to Austin or his baby son rather than even considering his daughters. Betty was not the right sounding board for her frustration since she does have it much worse than her, and the subsequent interactions Emily had showed her the most frightening elements of her dynamics with the people in her life. Lavinia blaming her for not getting married as she tended to her many husbands was a stark idea, as was Austin resenting her for breaking up his marriage, which wasn’t as far from the truth. Sue becoming more distant because she feels like she’s not attracted to her anymore is putting a serious strain on her, but her mind is also elsewhere. Going to Frazer’s funeral and then conjuring him up to have a conversation with him was more comforting, and having Emily end up back on the battlefield at the end of the episode as she saw a bird was a haunting way to close out this show’s third-to-last episode. I’m not anticipating the end since this show really does have so much to offer and, if it was my choice, could go on for much longer.

What I’m Watching: The Shrink Next Door (Penultimate Episode)

The Shrink Next Door: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Breakthrough” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what to make of the opening of this episode with Ike and Marty playing private eyes in black-and-white, but evidently Marty had become that engrossed in Ike’s life that he was imagining himself as the characters as his only real outlet. It’s hard to believe that we were already in 2010, and Ike’s selfishness had reached such a point that he was minimizing Marty’s very severe stomach problems. Ike not visiting Marty in the hospital after his surgery was one thing, but his failure to care for the koi, especially after he pretended that he would do it because it was just as important to him as it was to Marty, was the last straw. Suggesting that they move to a more expensive warehouse when Bruce presented a very real solution that they relocate to a cheaper option in New Jersey showed how delusional Ike was and how he was only concerned with the way things looked. It was therefore very affirming to see Marty surprise Ike for once by not showing up for his appointment, sending Ike to the completely cleaned-out warehouse. Refusing to take his call was a big power move, and telling him that they no longer had private offices was a particularly delicious moment. Marty telling Ike he shouldn’t come if it was a waste of his time and that Norman had fired him was fantastic, and that round of applause from everyone else in the warehouse was great, though I imagine that it won’t be so easy to undo all the damage he’s caused over the years in the final episode.

What I’m Watching: The Great

The Great: Season 2, Episode 8 “Five Days” (B+)

There really are so many backwards elements of this time that seem truly jarring even in comparison to what has already been featured. The idea that Catherine would have to give birth with an audience is appalling, but she’s been mocked and taunted enough that the idea of assassination isn’t so far off, especially considering the attempt on her life that she survived in this episode. It was hard to feel like Catherine was in control with Joanna there, as she was awkwardly laughing at the things she said that others didn’t find funny and then getting slapped by her mother despite the incredible power that she had. It was her own desire to get what she wanted that did Joanna did, as trying to have sex with Peter resulted in her falling out the window to her death. Elizabeth and Marial sprang into action to clean up that mess, and now hopefully Catherine can move on and get back to ruling the country once she has the baby. I was thrilled with the casting of Jason Isaacs as Peter the Great, and I remember how funny the typically serious actor was in “The Death of Stalin.” I don’t imagine we’ll see him again anytime soon, but he really was great. Peter not wanting to dig his wife and child’s graves was growth, as was his use of those graves to bury his mother, symbolically putting her torment behind him. Peter and Catherine shared a sweet moment together that bodes well for their impending parenthood, which is arriving more imminently than they thought.

What I’m Watching: The Great

The Great: Season 2, Episode 7 “Stapler” (B+)

This episode felt markedly different from the one before it, even if two of its characters – Catherine and Grigor – were profoundly affected by what happened over the course of that fateful hour. Peter was too, to a degree, preaching enlightenment and actually trying to help Catherine achieve her goals. He’s still not quite aligned with reality, decreeing that had been fasting when he had eaten a pheasant and plenty of other food, but he’s doing much better. This was a perfect time for Catherine’s mother to arrive and throw a wrench in all the progress she thought she was making with her very condescending attitude. Gillian Anderson, a recent Emmy winner for playing Margaret Thatcher on “The Crown,” was the perfect choice to play Joanna, whose near-instant question of “what is huzzah?” was just a warm-up for the harshness she was about to deliver. Talking only about Catherine’s sisters led to her proclaiming that the coup was bad for the whole family, and she was particularly cruel to both Marial, who seemed unfazed, and Elizabeth, who was more offended. Peter actually did well but received a harsh rating but then got a far more personal visit that Elizabeth warned him he should not act upon since Catherine would surely kill them both. Catherine spinning Peter’s hijacking of the Norwegian science fair idea into something workable was great, and how fitting that someone no one would have noticed or paid attention to had a notion of how to make it even better. Velementov losing faith in Catherine is definitely a worrisome development, while Orlo has plenty on his mind and Archie is determined to fix his problems in a very violent and emphatic way.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 7 “Little Boxes” (C)

The idea that Mark would go search in exactly the spot that Ronald might be hidden is hard to believe, but it’s equally illogical that Ronald and Scarlet would just be sitting inside with Agatha, with only Ronald’s zapper collar to prevent either of them from crying out. But the bigger issue, aside from Scarlet deciding to take rebellious action against her captors, is that Ronald is still a wanted man, and I’m not sure what he thinks is going to happen when someone does eventually recognize him. As usual, there’s far too much going on for anyone to pay attention to the latest developments here, what with all the severed hands being put in boxes. How can Cassie possibly think this is the right time for romance with Mark? Ren and Tonya are showing up in a few too many places, and Jenny doesn’t have much patience for dealing with all the lying that’s going around. Tonya picked a bad time to start working for Ren in this way now that her brother is in town, and Donno’s response to him showing up indicates why that should be taken seriously. Bridger shouldn’t be as worried about his parents finding out about who’s in his basement as the fact that Ren very much knows where he and his friends are. And then there’s Travis, who’s about to kill someone in an undercover move that he won’t be able to shake if he manages to be survive the rest of the season.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 8 “A Dog, a Mousse and a Bat” (B-)

This show continues to be decently entertaining, but it’s getting harder and harder to take it seriously at all. Bette taunting Spencer with a racy photo of herself shows that romance isn’t dead and that those light plotlines are going to continue to be featured, while we get the more serious and heartwarming elements of a relationship that has lasted much longer. Harry and Meredith’s fifty-fifth anniversary celebration turned out to be very nice with the fancy French dinner, which Bert somehow managed to cook up despite the fact that he had a bar he regularly went to every morning at 8am. After Meredith gave Gina a family heirloom, she had to race off to try to be there for Norma after nearly letting her down, and unfortunately that meant she got arrested, a development that at the very least is going to bring Drew back from the trip that hasn’t gotten him very far. Driving just twelve miles wasn’t a surprise, but the fact that he thought anyone was going to be watching his Instagram Live is a bit more of a stretch. Meeting Hannah and hitting it off right away seemed too good to be true, and it was, since she stole his money before he woke up. This life on the road definitely isn’t for him, and it appears that he’s going to have turn around and be there for Gina to help her get back on track since she was likely intoxicated when she got pulled over or at least held responsible for the many unpaid tickets she has.

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 9 “Christmas/Krismis” (B)

I like that Riley and Vanessa’s relationship has come back into focus after being out of sight for a while, and that it was Vanessa who was much too bothered by Riley bringing a date with him to Art’s party. To be fair, Riley started it by not being open to Hazel being with her on Christmas Day so that Freddy’s parents could see her, and there’s no reason that he shouldn’t have finally asked out Holly, especially since she was half-jokingly upset with him that he hadn’t called her yet. Hazel was very open to the idea, and I like that she asked Riley if she could bring her boyfriend. Holly did a great job bonding with Hazel over a game of basketball, which was sweet to see. Unfortunately, Vanessa didn’t take her presence in stride, and the fact that Freddy, the man who is never bothered by anything, was embarrassed by her, said something. Art has his own relationship issues to navigate with Lois when he found out just how expensive the soft sweater she got him was, and the way they got through it with Lois confirming that he had not yet apologized was sweet and endearing. After everyone kept making sure to wish Al happy holidays rather than Merry Christmas, he just wanted to go caroling, and even though they got wet with the sprinklers trick, I think he enjoyed himself. I also liked Art’s description of his favorite ornaments, all of which he liked because they were free.

Take Two: And Just Like That

And Just Like That: Season 1, Episode 2 “Little Black Dress” (B)

It’s hard to separate this show from the one that spawned it, understandably, and as someone who didn’t watch that series, I imagine that I’m going to end up being just as confused as Carrie, wondering whether I’m supposed to know someone who shows up for the first time when they could have played a big part in the original series. I did look up Molly Price as soon as I recognized her, and Susan Sharon did appear back in an episode or two of the original, as I’m sure did Brenda Vaccaro’s Gloria, who was not treated well by Stanford when she sat in his apparently assigned seat. This was a prime example of many things people shouldn’t do at a funeral, namely compare someone’s loss to your own. Charlotte being misidentified as the mourner given her very visible sadness highlighted the difference in her response to loss and Miranda’s, who swung into protective mode when she first met Che, which did not make for an ideal first meeting. I’m happy to see Niall Cunningham from “Life in Pieces” as Miranda’s son Brady, and I like that he’s not nearly as idiotic in this part but still full of personality. Having Samantha still involved in a distant way is interesting, but I guess that makes more sense than just pretending like she wouldn’t have been in touch. On a more lighthearted note, I did enjoy Miranda continue to bumble through her efforts to be an ally and the fact that she used her heavy book to save Nya from having her back stolen by the thief in the Chucky mask.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Pilot Review: And Just Like That

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: Hawkeye

Hawkeye: Season 1, Episode 4 “Partners, Am I Right?” (B+)

It’s always awkward when a supervillain is closely involved with a member of your family and have to play nice rather than continue to interrogate him. Eleanor seemed most concerned with keeping Kate from being caught up in any of this Avengers business, but she also has unknown motivations which could mean she’s more involved than it appears. Jack was relatively charming, and Kate couldn’t resist smiling when she saw how happy her mom was dancing with him. I enjoyed how Kate showed up at Clint’s with a pizza and a new costume, and that she didn’t bother checking that the marker she was writing the plan with was indeed dry-erase. After all the excitement of the trick arrows from the last episode, her quest to track them down wasn’t quite as thrilling, and instead she needed to make deals that he wasn’t too happy about in order to procure them. Kate was very chatty and giddy about talking to Clint while she was going into the apartment, and coming face-to-face with an angry Maya wasn’t good for anyone. Clint though he was up against the same opponent, but instead it was Florence Pugh’s Yelena, who I had heard would be showing up here soon. Since I have yet to see “Black Widow,” I’m taking now as the opportunity to watch the film so I can know more about who she is when I tune in for what I’ve already read (and tried not to read) is a fantastic fifth episode.

Pilot Review: Abbott Elementary

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 Flash

The Flash: Season 8, Episode 4 “Armageddon, Part 4” (B+)

It always comes back to Eobard Thawne, who never stops trying to figure out how to undo everything Barry has and, in this case, take it for himself. I can’t comprehend why he’s wearing Harrison Wells’ face, especially since Matt Letscher portrayed Thawne on “Legends of Tomorrow” when Neal McDonough played Damien Darhk. It’s not a big deal since Tom Cavanagh, who I thought had left the show for good, is a great actor, and he does a superb job of putting on an act for everyone while taunting Barry in private. I was particularly pleased to see Darhk again, delighted to learn that Thawne was even more evil than he thought and then compelled to help Barry by the promise that he could bring Nora back to life. Barry did manage to somehow convince Iris that she should trust him even though she knew him as the enemy, and it looks like he was successfully able to reset the timeline. Naturally, Thawne isn’t giving up so fast, but presumably he’ll be defeated in the fifth and final crossover installment. We’ll also probably be done with Despero, who was intensely interrogating Cecile while everyone else there appeared to be dead. I’m not sure what a reset timeline means for the unspoken love that had built during all those years between Allegra and Chester, and whether that relationship’s trajectory remains inevitable even if events and dynamics change the way in which they interact and are able to communicate with each other.