Wednesday, March 31, 2021

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Christina Applegate’s angry widow (Dead to Me), Linda Cardellini’s well-intentioned friend (Dead to Me), Kaley Cuoco’s frazzled flight attendant (The Flight Attendant), Annie Murphy’s PR guru (Schitt’s Creek) and Catherine O’Hara’s eccentric actress (Schitt’s Creek).

For your information: Both eligible nominees from last year are back. In addition to last year’s bid, O’Hara was nominated in 2010 for “Temple Grandin” and as part of her ensemble last year, along with Murphy, who earns her first solo bid this year. In addition to last year, Applegate was nominated three times in a row in this category for “Samantha Who?” a decade ago. She’s joined by costar Cardellini, who was nominated as part of the “Brokeback Mountain” ensemble in 2005. Cuoco contended six times as part of the “Big Bang Theory” ensemble, most recently in 2016. O’Hara and Murphy both won Emmys this past fall, and O’Hara won the Golden Globe. Supporting actresses have won this prize eleven times in twenty-six years. Out of nine times that two women from the same show have contended for this prize, only once did it lead to a win, in 2018 for Rachel Brosnahan. This is only the third time in SAG history, after 2003 and 2018, that two shows have earned two nominations each in the same year. All three shows represented here also have their ensembles nominated.

Who should win? Cuoco was terrific, but I’d choose Cardellini for her incredible and underappreciated work.

Who will win? I don’t see how O’Hara loses this.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Nicholas Hoult’s gloating monarch (The Great), Dan Levy’s small business owner (Schitt’s Creek), Eugene Levy’s motel manager (Schitt’s Creek), Jason Sudeikis’ giddy coach (Ted Lasso), and Ramy Youssef’s aspiring religious example (Ramy).

For your information: This list is entirely new. Both Levys were nominated last year as part of their ensembles, but otherwise, this is the first SAG mention for all five of these men. Both Levys won Emmys this fall, and Sudeikis and Youssef are the two most recent Golden Globe winners. Two nominees from one show is a very frequent occurrence, but only twice in the history of this category has it led to one of those men winning – David Hyde Pierce in 1995 and Robert Downey Jr. in 2000. Supporting actors have won this prize seven times in twenty-six years. All but Youssef are also nominated as part of their ensembles.

Who should win? I think Sudeikis is terrific but nothing compares for me to Hoult.

Who will win? I think this is a relatively easy win for Sudeikis given the likelihood of the Levys cancelling each other out.

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer (Season Finale)

Snowpiercer: Season 2, Episode 10 “Into the White” (B)

Well, this didn’t turn out like I expected it to, and it at least means something very different going into season three when this show eventually returns. This final episode didn’t waste any time in kicking things off, with Andre and Ruth escaping their confinement in rather brutal fashion, demonstrating that they were quite literally taking no prisoners and intent on success. Alex was obviously on board to join them and things couldn’t have been any more well-timed as allegiances became clear. I really did think that Audrey had been spying all along for Andre, but it turns out that wasn’t the case at all, and instead she became a hostage and a bargaining chip for Andre and crew to use against Wilford when they plotted their big move, which Josie, who never seriously considered joining the wrong side, helped to execute with her newfound tolerance for the cold. The notion of a runaway train that is operating a rebel mission is appealing, though I’m not sure that all the science checks out with them stopping for an extended period of time to heat up as a search party went out to look for Melanie. It seems surprising to me that Jennifer Connelly would exit the show in such a quiet and undramatic way, with that final scene of her watching the train go by, and not seeing her dead body means she could always return at some future point. But now there’s a worthwhile set up, one that gives the good guys the advantage for the first time in a while and seems to set Ruth up as the leader of any insurrection aboard the main train given the apparent fact that she got stuck on the wrong one. I’ll admit, I’m intrigued.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Alison Wright as Ruth

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer: Season 2, Episode 9 “The Show Must Go On” (B-)

This is the first half of the two-part season finale, but I’m watching the episode separately and considering them on their own. I hadn’t realized when things went all haywire in the previous hour that there were only two episodes left in the season, and therefore things are going to have to move quickly in order to get to whatever resolution or, more likely, cliffhanger is planned before it goes on hiatus. Andre being forced to work doing the compost for the train was a rather unpleasant punishment, though he handled it better than Ruth did when she was shipped off to join him because she refused to announce to the train that they wouldn’t be going back for Melanie. I’m not sure if Wilford is meant to be a parallel for Trump but there are many obvious comparisons, namely the support he has from the common people when he indulges in absurd luxuries like a carnival on the train and caviar with fancy plate settings for a private dinner. This is a prime example of hoarding of resources, and he’s intent on being the richest man left alive at the end of the world. I’m not sure what Javi, who apparently has to ask for bathroom breaks, passing a message about Melanie being out there to Ruth and Andre, who have no communication with the outside world, is meant to do since Wilford can just as easily not go rescue her even if she is alive. Alex would have been the likely candidate to lead an uprising, but she’s in the brig, so it’s going to be left to Bess, who will have to recover from watching the brutal punishment Wilford meted out on the men he hired to pull everyone together to lead yet another revolt.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

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

This show is starting to feel a bit different as it’s nearing the end of its run. “All By Myself” playing as Deb contemplates what her life with Frannie looks like not sharing the same house as all of her family members is one such example, but at least it means the characters are getting a chance to decide what’s important to them. Ian made that decision for him and Mickey somewhat unilaterally, though I’m not sure there’s really any other way to do something when Mickey is involved. Moving to an area where one beer costs more than a six-pack on the South Side and runners are constantly shouting very clear instructions to those standing around on the sidewalk feels like a strange move, but it’s a new step. The same is true for Kev and Veronica, whose Kentucky relocation makes a lot of sense and will enable them to afford considerably more and actually do something they both want to do. Caring for Frank, who can’t remember committing any of the robberies he’s been doing lately, has fallen on Liam, who does seem well-suited for the task if not the one who should have to do it consider how very little Frank did for him. Carl taking a stand against police injustice by arresting the Mercedes-driving landlord played by Patrick Sabongui, who plays the chief of police on “The Flash,” was an interesting move, one that serves to support this show’s less than enthusiastic attempt to cover police brutality and racism in its own way.

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 7 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Memory” (B)

There were some pieces of this episode that felt clunky, but I like where things ultimately ended up. It seemed obvious from the start that Zoey needed to go on her own to try to recreate an experience she had with her father, or at least to go with friends who weren’t Leif and Tobin. Missing the once-in-a-lifetime vision that Tobin was hogging while Leif was singing a heart song got her understandably upset, and it was sweet that she ended up being able to just enjoy being with the right people in the right place, even if she once again didn’t have a chance to see what it was that was supposed to be so stunning and incredible. I like that the workplace characters, who I always felt were the weakest part of this show, are being turned into more believable, three-dimensional people, particularly Leif, who is more sophisticated than he lets on and who was very hurt both by the insinuation that a prospective match was just using him for his work connections and then the truth that she actually was. Mo managed to win over the fire marshal in a big way, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him in a different context. David trying hard to join a band feels like a bit of a random plotline, but I guess it’s good to see him doing something other than arguing in court or complaining about how little sleep he gets as a new parent.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Round Two: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Star Spangled Man” (B+)

It’s still not entirely clear what the premise of this show is meant to be, though it’s considerably less confusing than “WandaVision,” which was all about dissecting the specifics of its mystery and how it could all have been possible. In this case, Sam and Bucky are struggling to move on with their lives and find a way to combat nefarious forces, but what’s bothering them most at the moment is the existence of a new Captain America. The ending scene from the first episode gave us just a brief glimpse of him, and I’m glad that we got more of a backstory here, with John Walker revealed to be a rather competent choice to play the country’s top hero. Showing up to help Sam and Bucky while they were in a precarious situation and introducing himself didn’t earn him anything but contempt, but after he sprang Bucky from jail and got rebuffed again, he demonstrated a less patient attitude that conveys an anger at the lack of respect they were willing to give him. I like Lemar, also known as Battlestar, and I imagine we’ll be seeing these two duos fighting similar missions alongside each other and ultimately teaming up when need be to fight the major evils. The banter between Sam and Bucky is probably the best reason to watch this show, though I’m also curious about these international events and the man they’re going to see in prison. I also want to make sure to mention the guest appearance of one Carl Lumbly, best known for playing Dixon two decades ago on “Alias,” as Isaiah.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Gillian Anderson’s resilient prime minister (The Crown), Olivia Colman’s steadfast monarch (The Crown), Emma Corrin’s Princess Diana (The Crown), Julia Garner’s loyal deputy (Ozark), and Laura Linney’s calculating entrepreneur (Ozark).

For your information: This category contains just one returning nominee, Colman. Though she has won three Golden Globes, and an Oscar two years ago, Colman has yet to win a SAG Award, despite contending for this performance last year and in 2018 for “The Favourite.” She is also nominated this year for her film role in “The Father.” Linney and Garner both return after their show took a year off. This is Linney’s third bid for this part, and she has two previous film nominations and a win for the miniseries “John Adams” in 2008. This is Garner’s second nomination. Anderson won this prize in 1995 and 1996 for “The X-Files,” and earned four more individual nominations for that role and three bids as part of her ensemble. This is Corrin’s first nomination. She defeated Colman and Linney for the Golden Globe, while Anderson beat Garner, who has won two Emmys in a row. Double nominees from one show are common. This is the first time that the category has been represented by only two series. Both times – 2001 and 2002 – that two shows earned multiple nominations, a lead from one of them won. The only time three women were nominated from one show – 1999 – also resulted in the lead, Edie Falco, winning. Three supporting actresses have won this prize – Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson, and Maggie Smith. Both of these series also have their ensembles nominated.

Who should win? Though it doesn’t represent a range of shows, this list is strong. I think I would choose Anderson or Corrin, but I wouldn’t be disappointed with any of them.

Who will win? This is very competitive and it could be any of them. I’m thinking it could be Linney, but Anderson will be my pick.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Jason Bateman’s protective patriarch (Ozark), Sterling K. Brown’s loyal father and brother (This Is Us), Josh O’Connor’s Prince Charles (The Crown), Bob Odenkirk’s inventive lawyer (Better Call Saul), and Regé-Jean Page’s bachelor duke (Bridgerton).

For your information: The only returning nominee from last year is Brown, who won three years ago and also previously contended for “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” Bateman and Odenkirk are both back after their shows took a year off the air. Bateman won the last time he was nominated, his second bid for this show, and was also nominated twice before for “Arrested Development.” Odenkirk has three previous nominations, and won as part of the “Breaking Bad” ensemble. O’Connor, who won last year as part of his ensemble, earns his first solo nomination. This is Page’s first nomination. All but Brown contend as part of their ensembles, though Brown’s show has actually won the ensemble prize twice in the past (he also won as part of the “Black Panther” ensemble in 2018). From 2010 to 2015, this category saw three back-to-back winners. O’Connor won the Golden Globe, defeating Bateman and Odenkirk.

Who should win? I only watched the first episode of “Bridgerton,” and I can’t say that I remember any of the characters or players. This is a fine list otherwise, and I think I’d choose Odenkirk over the rest.

Who will win? It could easily be Bateman or Brown again, or O’Connor, but I’m going to bet on Odenkirk to finally win for the season that somehow didn’t manage to earn him an Emmy nomination.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Pilot Review: The Irregulars

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: Invincible

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: Call Me Kat (Season Finale)

Call Me Kat: Season 1, Episode 13 “Cat-a-versary” (B-)

This finale was absolutely representative of everything this show has been so far, as it signs off for the moment and likely for good given its lackluster reviews and ratings. While I have stuck with it, I wouldn’t be too disappointed to see it not return given that it never reached that level of really being worth watching. That said, every time it felt so standard, like Randi and Carter’s secret friends with benefits arrangement resulting in them losing the ashes and having to replace them something, it turned into something more emphatic and watchable, like Max professing his love for Kat after seeing the note she sent Brigitte, or Oscar showing up after having driven to Chicago to get the ashes for her as a sincere gesture of apology for minimizing the death of a cat. I’m mixed on Phil’s bantery flirting since I still believe that Leslie Jordan is an enormously talented actor who isn’t always given the best parts since he stands out so much and could probably do more than just the flurry of double entendres he usually gets. I don’t have much to say about Sheila and her dressing like a cat to get a part, since she represents the disconnect with reality that this show often displays. To me, this show would be much better if it took the characters it has and transplanted them out of a typical sitcom, but that’s not the idea for a series which continues to feel much less worthwhile due to the casual waving all the cast members do to the camera at the end of each episode.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Mayim Bialik

Saturday, March 27, 2021

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 7 “Desert Island” (B+)

This was an episode of harsh truths, ones that hit its characters hard and are going to be hard to walk back. The brief scenes of a mall bathroom birth haven’t been all that informative since we’ve only seen a few of the characters, and it’s definitely possible that one or multiple of them won’t be in the same state of mind at that point (or alive at all, though I really hope that’s not the case). Rather than tell any of his friends, Chester opted to profess his affection directly to Sam, who was rightfully horrified when he was clued in to the fact that Chester was the one who had been messaging him, and it’s good that Sam coldly shut down the desert island question, even though Chester took it very badly. Similarly, a game of truth-and-dare was enough for Arianna to realize how Nathan felt about Chester, and now Arianna is almost certainly going to be aligning herself with the other sibling again. Greta and Riley getting roomed together seemed like the perfect opportunity for romance, but the speed at which Riley moved rubbed Greta the wrong way, and her response had an even more detrimental effect on Riley, who went ahead and did exactly what Greta had called her out for with someone else. While it was much less serious than anything else that happened in this episode, the sight of someone gratuitously licking a toilet bowl was very off-putting, especially during a pandemic and since that scene actually had to be filmed.

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Wheels on the Bussy” (B+)

After an episode set in different locations with the same three people, it was nice to have an opportunity to see everyone in close quarters for the whole time, keeping themselves busy on a bus ride that predictably led to much tension and angst. Before we got to that, Nathan just doesn’t know how to not get his sister angry at him, and Naomi crashing into a few trash bins because Nathan and Arianna hooking up in the back distracted her was understandable. Megan wasn’t at all helpful in what her daughter perceived as a hypocritical lecture, and Greta also got a shock related to her mom that threw her off. Getting a fake ID that wasn’t a great match didn’t help matters, and Riley really should learn to pick up more on the impact of her actions. By the end of the episode, they seemed to be doing quite well and getting very close after Riley finally moved to sit with her following her making a new friend at the bus stop and getting photographed by Riley. Chester seemed very shaken by Sam grabbing his arm when the bus got a flat tire, and he’s very close to revealing his crush to someone – probably Greta or Riley – and saying it aloud is likely going to make it all too real for the older and theoretically responsible member of that would-be couple. Never Have I Ever is never a good game to play, and Naomi and Nathan were very cruel to each other in a way that was clearly just entertaining everyone else but really stinging in their vicious hurling of personal secrets.

What I’m Watching: Call Your Mother

Call Your Mother: Season 1, Episode 8 “California Jeanin’” (B-)

It wasn’t too hard to figure out where this episode was headed as soon as Sharon arrived in Los Angeles. I saw Sherri Shepherd featured recently in the upcoming FX documentary “Hysterical” and remember her very funny performance as an assistant with many very specific medical conditions on “Trial and Error,” and I just don’t feel this show gives her a great role at all. Seeing her show up and emphasize as many Midwestern stereotypes as possible in just a few minutes didn’t feel all that necessary, and I suspect that her sticking around for a whole month is going to lead to much more friction than anything else. It’s certainly not going to help with Jean’s developing relationship with Danny, whose first impulse to buy her the last bra she’d ever need might have been practical but whose final enduring plant idea was actually very sweet. I don’t think he calculated for having an extra tenant who will enable him even fewer private moments with Jean. Freddie and Jackie have a clearly competitive relationship, and it seemed inevitable that Jackie’s less flashy gift would outshine Freddie’s poorly-wrapped call for attention. Celia’s dinner party with an uncooked main course and clothing items that even the birthday girl wasn’t allowed to wear was rather intense, but at least she’s feeling like she’s part of the family. And Lane did a nice job with his song, pouring out his heart and affirming his connection to his beloved Mother Raines through a heartfelt expression of music.

Friday, March 26, 2021

What I’m Watching: Resident Alien

Resident Alien: Season 1, Episode 9 “Welcome Aliens” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what the opening scene was going to have to do with the main content of this episode, but I really like that its universe exists in one that also involves a variation of all the alien mythology people have come to know over the years. Harry laughing off ridiculous notions and confirming for Asta what was real was extremely helpful, and it got much more dramatic when he was face-to-face with the Alien Tracker, who begged him not to cut out the alien technology in him because it was the only link he had to the child who had been taken. That’s not what I would have expected from a role played by Terry O’Quinn, but it was good to see him even in a small part. The way that Asta is approaching her newfound knowledge is very entertaining, holding his device and threatening to push the button unless he said thank you, and what she shared about her alien experience was actually quite touching. The warning she got about his true intentions is one she should heed, especially since Harry doesn’t have noble aims. Sahar observing that aliens were also put off by strong women and Harry affirming that he loves soap and eats it all the time were amusing moments in a dynamic that I’m really enjoying. Kate went ahead and invited Lisa and David right into her house, and fortunately Max caught Lisa’s snooping on camera even if Kate believed her excuse. Mike’s karaoke badge proposal to Liv was sweet, and it’s good to see them back together professionally again. Darcy is always underestimated by people, and now she’s the first one to find out about Harry in the wrong way, something that he and Asta are going to have a tough time explaining if they manage to find her before she reports it.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Best of Smallville” (B)

I half-expected to see some familiar faces from “Smallville” in the flashbacks to a teenage Clark and Martha Kent, but I guess that wouldn’t really be possible since Tom Welling is a full decade older than Tyler Hoechlin and the Arrowverse seems more intent on showing that the series and characters we’ve known before do exist but in a separate multiverse. Among those is that Captain Luthor, who is far less intimidating and threatening when he’s casually asking to share a byline with Lois, was actually married to her in another life, one that I’d be very curious to see and visit. For now, he’s just one of the threats posed to Superman, since Derek came after him but didn’t manage survive long enough for Clark to get any real answers that would help him. One side of Clark and Lois that we saw for the first time was them having to be disciplinary parents, a role that doesn’t really suit them since they tend to make exceptions for extenuating circumstances like, say, superpowers, threats to humanity, and heartbreak caused by an unexpected major move. As Jonathan channeled his anger into bad choices, Jordan became much more sympathetic, and it was disappointing to see Sarah make a declaration that she just wanted them to be friends after spending a difficult night with her drunken dad. Lana organizing the dedication of the bench to Martha was sweet, and it’s good to have some positive memories anchoring the Kent family to this small town. Tag’s sudden return isn’t great, and it’s likely to trigger even more uncontrolled power development from Jordan.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 11 “One Small Step…” (B)

It’s always interesting to learn more about the home life of a previous Pearson generation, especially since Nicky even existing wasn’t a concept that was introduced until a few seasons in. It doesn’t alter the dynamic between Jack and his father all that much, but it does show he moved on and realized he needed to take new steps with his life that couldn’t involve him always being home to change how things were there, while Nicky saw that his presence had a clear effect on how his father treated his mother. I thought that Nicky was about to have an epic romance with Sally, played by Genevieve Angelson from “Good Girls Revolt,” and her van Pearl (also my grandmother’s name), especially after Jack bought him a suitcase, but that wasn’t fated to happen, and instead he would have to wait decades until he connected with Kevin and then found a good friend in Cassidy. Seeing him function during the pandemic and get upset when his carefully-created and wrapped snowglobes weren’t let through security was tough, but at least he made it there and got a warm welcome from his startled hosts. Jack meeting with his commanding officer, played by Scott Michael Campbell from “Shameless,” was mostly about what he was able to do which Nicky couldn’t, to separate himself from the war and to find a way to move forward. It looks like the adult Nicky will be sticking around for a while, and though he’s blunt and a bit gruff, it should be a positive experience for the family.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 4 “Central City Strong” (B)

It’s honestly hard to keep track of what villains we’ve seen before on this show, especially when Abra Kadabra and Mister Mxyzptlk have both appeared on CW Arrowverse series. I like the theme of this season so far, which is that the bad guys can redeem themselves after they see the error of their ways. The notion that Abra was experiencing memories of a life he had never lived similar to how Caitlin and Cisco first became metas was very intriguing, and though it is indeed difficult to stay on top of the many different timeline modifications that exist even just within the one universe that now exists, it’s cool to see people act in different ways and especially to carry memories with them from one unlived life to another. Like Eva, Abra changing his tune after Barry helped him to see that what he had endured didn’t mean he actually wanted to cause suffering for others came too late as another enemy appeared, and that supercharged giant was a far more human-seeming meta than we’ve previously seen. Iris coming to terms with what she’s been through was an important development, and promoting Allegra to full-time staff member is probably smart since it gives her something to focus on now that Nash is gone. I’m relatively excited by the notion of Caitlin and Killer Frost existing in separate bodies, and I wouldn’t mind if that’s something that proves enduring, provided that it doesn’t mean that it threatens the life of the one person who used to house both of them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

What I’m Watching: Breeders

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

Calling this show a comedy has never felt entirely accurate, especially when it features an ending like this one that shows that its characters from all three generations aren’t feeling at all resolved about what happened over the course of this episode. I remember the untimely death of Ally’s father being one of the most poignant moments of season one, and here we got to start off comically with her mother, who insisted on pronouncing a hard “t” in dementia and lecturing her children on how eating makes you fat. Like Ally, I thought she was just feigning nervousness about the security of her situation to get to spend some time with her friendly neighbor, but that parting shot indicated that she is actually afraid. Similarly, Luke not sleeping was more than just keeping his phone on at night or falling behind in school, and Paul and Ally aren’t quite on the same page about how they want to proceed with him being officially diagnosed or taking medication to help concentrate and feel good. Paul flashing back to earlier memories with a younger Luke was sweet, particularly because, for once, he wasn’t yelling at his kids, and it enabled him to take a softer approach to helping him now. Paul’s father was perhaps the most comforting, assuring Paul that he turned out great and that he would know exactly what to do when he got to his son. Paul working through his anger has been a fascinating plotline, and it’s nice to see him shine and be there in just the way his kids need him to be.

What I’m Watching: Breeders (Season Premiere)

Breeders: Season 2, Episode 1 “No Surrender” (B+)

I’m so glad to have this show back – it was one of my favorite new series of last year and I had completely forgotten about its existence in the almost full year since season one ended (aside from to praise it as one of the top new series at the end of 2020). The first of these two new episodes was a great reintroduction to these characters, showing Luke and Ava as real people who are going to give their parents even more of a challenge as they develop personalities and turn into teenagers. Paul cycling through therapists who don’t want to hear that anger is healthy and who are unsurprisingly not flattered by his assessment that it was mostly time wasted is an entertaining and helpful framing device, especially since he’s evidently not doing a superb job of controlling his anger. Ally getting even more upset was less expected, but luckily everything seems to have worked out okay for now, with Paul connecting even more deeply than before with his son when he found out he was just spending time by himself, getting to return the camera neither of them really wanted, and Ava getting a phone so she could walk home from school on her own. I enjoyed Paul talking to his parents about technology, parenting, and responsibility, and how he misinterpreted his father emphasizing the bigger picture as a metaphor rather than a comment about the actual size of the new television Paul had just hooked up for them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

What I’m Watching: Genius: Aretha (Season Premiere)

Genius: Aretha: Season 3, Episode 1 “Respect” (B)

I watched the pilot episode of this anthology series, which featured Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein, and never managed to watch any of season two, where Antonio Banderas portrayed Pablo Picasso. As I’ve spent more time getting into limited series over the past few years, I thought it would be worthwhile to check out the first installment of the latest incarnation of this show, which was originally intended to be about Mary Shelley but instead shifted focus to the incredible singer Aretha Franklin. I was extremely impressed by Cynthia Erivo’s performance here, coming off an Oscar-nominated turn in “Harriet” and the first film role I saw her in, “Widows,” which I thought was terrific. She manages to convey a real spirit and disappear into the role in a way that elevates this otherwise relatively standard biopic format. Courtney B. Vance, fresh off a stint in the first season of “Lovecraft Country,” is a great choice to play her father, the preacher who casually gave away his car to racist vandals rather than engage in a bad situation, and David Cross is a somewhat puzzling but passable choice to play the music producer Jerry Wexler. I wasn’t as taken with the casting of Malcolm Barrett, a fine comedic actor from “Better Off Ted” and “Timeless,” as Ted White, but I suppose he wasn’t all that distracting. This all feels well enough done and I am intrigued by her story, but I’m not sure if this series will be able to keep up with the caliber of both its star actress and its title character. Eight episodes over the course of four nights is a lot – at the time of this writing, I haven’t yet decided if I plan to watch the whole thing.

Pilot Review: The Gloaming

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, March 22, 2021

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 9 “Survivors” (B+)

It’s starting to feel like things are winding down, with a few shenanigans left to go before this show signs off for good. I was worried when Debs hatched her latest plan that she and Lip were going to head into unforgivable territory, but that calmed down very quickly when he understood the gravity of what Liam was experiencing, trying to get put either in a foster home or in juvy to avoid becoming homeless. That closing moment was extremely sweet, with Liam so happy to learn that Lip and Tami wanted him to come live with them. He really is the purest and least problematic Gallagher, and I think he’ll contribute more to that household than any of the other siblings would. Ian wasn’t exactly comforting to Mickey in his time of mourning, and it was a bit of a stretch to learn that Terry had fallen in love with a Jewish girl from a religious family, and that his conversion and studying didn’t impress her father so he just decided to kill him. On the note of religion, Carl got put back with Officer Tipping, whose newly serene attitude was worse than his previous do-nothing obsession, but at least he’s back to being bored and not being complicit in criminal activity. On that note, Lip and Brad seem to be off the hook now that a mob boss only wanted to use their talents, not torture them to get them to admit what they did. Kev is going to have some serious explaining to do to Veronica when he does find his two daughters who ate a bunch of pot brownies, and maybe that’s how she’ll be able to convince her mother to move back to Chicago.

Pilot Review: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

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.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pilot Review: Country Comfort

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: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 1, Episode 12 “Salsa” (B-)

There’s only one episode left in this show’s initial order, and it’s hard to know whether it’s going to end up getting renewed or not since another Thursday night comedy, “Mr. Mayor,” finished out its run a few weeks ago without any word yet on whether it’s coming back. I feel like it might not, and therefore the finale is going to be an important half-hour, one that’s going to pick up right at the end of the dramatic cliffhanger here, one that it was difficult to take seriously given that they all started giddily waving at the camera just seconds later, a device I’ve never found necessary. I do like that, ridiculous as it may have been, Kat taking a sleeping pill meant that she externalized all the things she’s only previously talked to us audience members about, like Brigitte, who became much more than just a hallucination of hers when she e-mailed the real Parisian. Max is surely angrier about it because he knows that he has feelings for Kat, but it’s not going to bode well for Kat’s relationship with Oscar since she’ll obviously dwell too much on it and make it into a problem for her newfound romance. Randi and Carter almost hooking up felt like it came from out of nowhere, but I’m intrigued to see how it develops and how they keep it secret from everyone else. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Phil and Sheila’s plotline, which was predictable and not very funny, but I did enjoy Phil’s surprisingly vicious threats about getting Dolly back from Sheila however he needed.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 5 “Gays and Confused” (B+)

This episode felt much more grounded in the moment and three specific characters than the ones we’ve seen before, aside from a brief introduction where the father was identified and he showed up with a shopping cart to help transport the baby out of the bathroom. If this show had a lead, which I’m not sure it does, I’d say it would be Justice Smith as Chester. He’s a grounding force, even though he does seem singularly intent on destroying Sam’s life by implicating him in sending inappropriate pictures to a minor without knowing it. Chester got exactly the responses he wanted from Sam with the shirtless selfie and an acknowledgment that he was falling in love with someone he wasn’t supposed to “as we speak.” Hopefully that won’t end as destructively as I’m predicting it will. Riley seems fully aware of how Greta feels about her but equally uninterested in typical relationship descriptors. The idea of “hooking up” with a girl is far more plausible and logical to her than the concept of dating. After a visit to Greta’s home that found her more embarrassed than anything and her two friends charmed by everything that humiliated her, the end of the episode felt rather tame, with Greta in bed smiling next to Riley, an intimate if unexpectedly understated moment. I like that this show seems to be more about its characters than about what happens to them, intent on following their personalities and journeys rather than any predetermined arcs that might more typically fit a TV season.

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 4 “Pussy Power” (B+)

As if the teenage generation on this show wasn’t interesting enough, it’s riveting to learn about the adults. We hadn’t previously seen much of Martha Plimpton’s Megan aside from a few clues about her straight-laced nature on the boat, and this was a formidable opportunity to see just how she interacts with the world. Going off on accommodating gluten allergies and diabetic needs in the meetings was pretty intense, and I enjoyed her strong reaction to her daughter’s use of the term “you do you.” Things got infinitely more uncomfortable when Mark invited Joe and Patrick over and launched into a diatribe against Brad Pitt’s more sophisticated filmography and then dismissed the notion of bisexuality when they explained that it didn’t necessarily mean that he was doing every wild thing imaginable. Nathan managed to get his sister angry again by going to make out with Arianna, who he of course asked if she enthusiastically consented, and I’m sure that will complicate the dynamic between those three going forward. Chester is really pushing to get into Sam’s personal life, and his affirmation of Chester’s big speech at the GSA is not going to make those boundaries any more secure. I don’t think the point of this show is to highlight the fragile and potentially dangerous nature of student-staff relationships, but some accusations of inappropriate behavior seem inevitable, particularly because Chester does nothing to hide his attraction towards his guidance counselor and Sam hasn’t been shutting it down in an emphatic or clear manner.

Friday, March 19, 2021

What I’m Watching: Resident Alien

Resident Alien: Season 1, Episode 8 “End of the World As We Know It” (B+)

As I’m watching this show, I feel like it’s charting exactly the course I’d expect it to, but that’s a relief rather than a disappointment. There’s something so familiar, welcome, and fantastic about it. Getting trapped in a situation where his identity was finally revealed to Asta was inevitable, but it also presented the perfect opportunity for her to find out, be alarmed, disgusted, angry, and confused, and then realize that she’s ultimately going to help her friend however she needs to, which includes ditching Darcy after she managed to recover from her “127 Hours”-style final video message and get them out of there. Asta managed to get a good deal of information out of Harry about his real life and the genderless partner he had 342 children with, a far more appealing story than him talking about Isabelle having sex with him repeatedly or his response to her accidentally brushing an area of his lower body. His interpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” as Dorothy invading the poor monkeys’ territory provided an interesting perspective, though we know it’s hard to sympathize with the alien who was celebrating that no one was dying today, but how about tomorrow? I liked Dan’s reaction to seeing Harry’s true form on his table, and he didn’t seem too into chopping off Harry’s leg, something Asta was all set to do. I also loved that we got to see more of the competitive relationship between Mike and Ben, which influenced the mayor to be far too bossy with his wife while they were out at dinner while Mike had to see Liv come to the office to collect her things and not talk to him. Kate’s bathroom run-in with Lisa after she saw Max’s poster was concerning, and it’s clear that she’s going to stop at nothing to find this alien, no matter who she has to kill (if David doesn’t stop her) along the way.

I’m also beyond excited that this show has been renewed for a second season! I can’t wait for more.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 4 “Haywire” (B+)

Most people have a lot of commitments to balance, but Clark’s load feels particularly full. It doesn’t help that his father-in-law is judging him and Lois for telling their sons about his powers and making him feel guilty for not being on call all the time, and that Lois wanted him to be there to help her out while he was busy trying to stop a maniacal villain and protect his kids. At least he was able to respond by taking a calculated risk and lightly harming a few civilians to stop Killgrave (also a memorable Marvel villain with a different spelling in “Jessica Jones”) and smart enough to do something romantic for Lois to show her that he still cares. I like that, after she very bluntly confronted Edge and told him that she was determined to take him down, Lois blew off steam by going for a drink with Lana, who seemed just as frustrated with her husband’s behavior and the way that he was dismissive of Edge’s attempt to exert some sort of ownership over her when he found out that she was an employee. While Kyle doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, I have a feeling that he’s going to turn out to be like Lana’s boyfriend Whitney from “Smallville,” who was initially a nemesis for Clark but ended up becoming an ally before his character left the show. I’m interested to see what other powers develop within the school community in Smallville, but for now it’s Edge’s latest actions and Sam’s secretive moves that deserve the most attention.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 10 “I’ve Got This” (B+)

The dinner table conversation between Toby and Kevin reminded me of a “Friends” episode that highlighted the differences in financial stability among the group, and this was a far more serious way of addressing the fact that friends and even family members often have vastly disparate income, which can get uncomfortable when spending money is made to seem trivial. Kevin continuing to insist that what was his was all of theirs didn’t help matters much, though there was a true intent on his part to share what he has with those he loves that he relayed to Kate after things quieted down a bit. I was worried that Toby was going to display overly chauvinistic tendencies in preventing Kate from doing what she wanted to do, but they seem to have reached a good place. It was nice to see Rebecca step in to manage the finances after Jack took a bold risk that ended up costing them a lot of money, and to see her thanked for that decades later by Kate in a way only this show could make possible. I know many who can relate to Carol overstaying her welcome at the Pearson home, but of course being there meant more to her in a good way than it did to the rest of them in a bad way, and it was good to see that moment of connection between Beth and Carol. Malik coming to Randall for advice about what to do with his ex wanting to come back into his daughter’s life was almost as great as Randall going through her Instagram with Déjà to make fun of her.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 3 “Mother” (B-)

I’m not sure if this is what was intended to be the storyline for the season finale, but it all felt a bit too easy. Theoretically, Eva realizing that she wasn’t actually the woman she thought she was should have made her less emotional, like the calculating Barry we saw in the previous episode, but instead it seemed to keep her human, since Iris was able to point out that she never wanted to be evil but had unintentionally done just that. I am intrigued by the idea of Iris having more long-lasting powers since I don’t think that negatively impacts any of the characters, because they all still have their roles to play on the team. It did feel particularly clunky to have Ralph in a suit that masked his face while he vowed to be back again soon, which just felt like a stall tactic for anyone who knows that actor Hartley Sawyer most definitely will not be back at any point, and they’ll have to recast the part if they’re going to bring back the character. I wouldn’t mind seeing Sue and actress Natalie Dreyfuss on a more regular basis, especially since she was clever enough to pretend to be someone she wasn’t when literally everyone in Central City was doing the same thing given their mirrorverse possession. I like that the original Harrison Wells came back and that he can travel through time at will, which should enable him to return too when they most need him. Whatever happened at the end with those energy beams isn’t likely to have good consequences, and I’m intrigued to see what threat next emerges for Team Flash after a successful if unlikely victory against the last one.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer: Season 2, Episode 8 “The Eternal Engineer” (B)

I felt like I blinked towards the end of the episode and suddenly a coup had been successfully staged with Wilford victorious and back in command of his train. That said, it shouldn’t exactly be called a coup since he was retaking control of what he originally built before first Melanie and then Andre took the reins right out from under him. It all seemed so simple though, with Wilford coming over and accusing them of ruining his train as Andre was well aware that this was probably a trap. It’s hard to know where things will go from here, with Andre under arrest and Roche apparently headed for deep storage. Melanie is still out there and Alex is probably going to be loyal to her given what she’s seen of Wilford’s aggressive quest for power and how he’s shutting her out of the process. Knowing that there’s a way to get back to the world outside without certain death isn’t likely to interest Wilford since he’s in charge here and has all the luxury he needs aboard the train. Yet he’s still experimenting, and Josie was pretty elated to discover that she could stick her arm out and it didn’t immediately freeze. I’m curious that he didn’t send Ben right to the brig and instead had him hand over the train, and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the final two episodes of the season and whether this was Audrey’s plan all along or if she’s working a deep cover mission for Andre.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 8 “Cancelled” (B+)

It felt a bit strange to see the entire family gathered in a hospital room at the end of the episode waiting to hear news of how Frank is doing since he’s never exhibited the same care for the wellbeing of any of them, but I suppose he hit a new low when he stripped down in front of the man he thought was a bully from his childhood. Lip telling him that they were there because of his alcoholic dementia sounded angry since he was clearly blaming Frank for his fate but also acknowledging that they would have to, in some way, take care of him now that he’s actually not capable of taking care of himself. Things could turn out like they did for Terry, when he scared off his first two non-white nurses and then found himself asphyxiated by a no-nonsense nun who believed he was evil. Mickey appeared to be very sentimental towards his father, something Ian couldn’t quite understand. After Lip held up well under questioning at the police station, Tami saved the day by moving the bikes, but she did seem to get a bit too into the criminal lifestyle and express eagerness to “get rid of” Brad. Kev planning a surprise wedding for Veronica was sweet if somewhat random – I guess I forgot about that storyline, whenever it was. Debs went all-out in self-destructive behavior, and her unwillingness to even talk to Sandy when she was there waiting on her doorstep was rather harsh. Carl just can’t seem to find an honest cop who actually does policework, and he was clever enough to use his connections to help Lip and to crash a fancy car into a parked car right outside the Alibi to save his friends from getting shut down. Frank may not be a role model for anyone, but the idea that no one’s name was good enough for the school does border on absurd.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Pilot Review: The One

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

What I’m Watching: Clarice

Clarice: Season 1, Episode 5 “Get Right with God” (C+)

There wasn’t any chance that Clarice was going to end up getting killed in the fifth episode of a brand-new show with her name as the title, and as a result the suspense factor here was virtually nonexistent. It wasn’t exactly believable that she would be able to concentrate fully enough to perform psychiatric analysis on the woman holding her captive and drugging her so that she couldn’t fight back, withstanding torture designed to weaken her defenses yet somehow maintaining both the intellectual and physical upper hand throughout it all. The hallucinations she was experiencing were undeniably dark, and I think this show tends to drown in that bleak misery, something that I did see to some degree in the films I liked a lot – “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Red Dragon” – but not to this extent. I’m more intrigued by the fact that Krendler has a complicated personal situation, one in which he and his former partner are both dealing with addiction and he isn’t able to get custody of his children since she’d never allow it to happen. Ardelia working closely with Shaan and the rest of the team to find Clarice will hopefully bring her in to Clarice’s life in a work capacity that isn’t simply adversarial, and I’m interested to see what that looks like as they take on cases that are grander than just this one large-scale conspiracy where people involved are more willing to die than to have to answer for what they’ve done or give up who hired them to do it.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 1, Episode 11 “Moving In” (B-)

I think the point of this show is that Kat is a klutz, and that every time you think she’s managed to embarrass herself with some exaggerated physical pratfall, there’s still time left in the episode for her to one-up that and trip or spill something again. It very much tracks that she would be the person who saves up twenty receipts for a promotion that, during the very long period of time that she’s collecting, expires and then demand that it be honored to the robotic employee who just doesn’t care, played to perfection by Robert Clendenin. She also doesn’t do a great job of paying attention to detail, like pushing send again ten times on that racy photo without bothering to check who it was actually going to, something that could easily have been deduced. It didn’t seem to do all that much, since Max laughed it off and it encouraged CJ to pay attention to his tutor, and we’re still likely a few episodes away from Max declaring his feelings for Kat, just as things are getting very serious with Oscar, who continues to be the world’s nicest and most understanding guy. Kat volunteering to help Randi move obviously led to her learning something about him that was going to make things weird, and a photo of him getting married to another woman was definitely that. Because this is a sitcom and nothing more, all worked out by episode’s end even with Phil being unable to keep a secret and Kat deciding that breaking into Randi’s house to apologize was the best way to deal with the situation.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 1, Episode 11 “Recessive Gina” (B+)

They tend to be short, but I do enjoy the opening scenes with Jason Kravits’ humorless Dr. Baskin, who didn’t respond too well to Drew making assumptions about what he was going to tell him and his bedside manner. Drew is obviously very susceptible to and motivated by the judgments of others, and the honest advice of his fellow dialysis patients, including Gina’s unfiltered and harsh wisdom, compelled him to make sure that Gina wasn’t going to potentially end up worse off after helping him. I was most pleased to see Norma used in a productive fashion here, not just to fire off one-liners but to accompany Gina and Drew on the drive to Philadelphia to get some closure on her familial relationships while also dealing in a way with Norma’s own fractured connection to her daughter. Lying about her dad being dead shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise given that she routinely makes up social security numbers, but her resistance to Norma and Drew’s pleas to consider giving him a chance led to the devastating revelation that he had in fact died and no one told her. Norma and Drew helping Gina to say goodbye to her father via a ketchup bottle at the very sketchy diner was sweet, and provided a nice complement to the humorous bickering between her two carmates. Norma calling Drew Dr. Freud was particularly funny, and Drew celebrating the small victories he was able to achieve was nice too. It’s good to see characters used well and opposite other players they don’t tend to share scenes with on a regular basis.

Take Three: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 3 “Toasted” (B+)

We got some more clarity on who it is having the baby in the mall bathroom, though even Delilah doesn’t seem to know all that much about how it happened. We saw an earlier moment between Arianna and Delilah on the boat that explains a bit of their relationship, but otherwise we’ll have to settle for shots of Arianna shouting about reparations while she’s taking a stack of cups and running through the mall with an inflatable tub from Target. The most magnetic and watchable moments of this episode featured Naomi and Nathan, who weren’t being particularly subtle about their penis-inspired rift and chose to resolve it during their toasts at an occasion meant to celebrate their other sibling as she was getting married. Nathan hearing from Arianna that he doesn’t “give off gay vibes” was enough to push him to confront Naomi in a very public forum after she alluded to qualities she would appreciate in a loyal sibling, outing himself as bisexual to everyone gathered there in the process. Jumping into the water and being saved by Chester was a positive and dramatic ending, at least. Martha Plimpton’s mom is quite a character, and I enjoyed the brief appearance of Sam Trammell from “True Blood” as their father who has evidently fed into their complicated family dynamic. Greta and Riley’s romance seems to be developing relatively well, even if Riley doesn’t seem aware of the emotional impact her hooking up with Pablo had on Greta. Chester’s pep talk was helpful, even if he got a little off-course in the process.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Round Two: Genera+ion

Genera+ion: Season 1, Episode 2 “Dickscovery” (B+)

This second outing didn’t disappoint, trapping all of the characters – or at least most of them – together in a classroom so that they could bond a little bit and let their best and worst traits show. The relationship that’s developing between Chester and Sam is definitely way too intimate, and Sam pretending that his family was Chechnyan to elicit backpedaling from him was just one indication that he feels he can take a more hands-on approach to relating to students that’s surely going to get him in trouble. I couldn’t figure out where I knew Sam from, and it turns out that actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett played Tony in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and starred in a memorable episode of “Soulmates” opposite Bill Skarsgard. The rest of the characters seem to have worked their way into tricky situations, though for the moment Arianna has actually avoided any controversy despite her uproarious statements that she continues to qualify as inoffensive because of her two gay dads. Riley seems very open to a friendship at the very least with Greta, and she didn’t dwell at all on the embarrassing series of text missteps Greta fired off earlier that morning. Nathan may have appeased Naomi by deleting the hickey picture of her, but that birthmark on the penis that her boyfriend sent him a picture of seems to have gotten them both into plenty of trouble. It’s not quite as dramatic as, say, having a baby in a mall food court bathroom with a security guard claiming to be an expert on menstrual cycles outside, but this show has plenty of ground to cover in multiple moments in time. I’m in for episode three and beyond.

Pilot Review: Generation

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.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Pilot Review: Cold Courage

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: Resident Alien

Resident Alien: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Green Glow” (B+)

I enjoy the little tidbits that we learn about what humans don’t know, like that the universe is tiny and of course this is just basic knowledge that all aliens know so well. Isabelle showing up as he was about to get taken out by Lisa and David turned out to be useful so that he could very obviously say that he just needed space as a typical male. Lisa was ready to shoot him anyway even though she completely believed him, and it’s a good thing that David was there to stop it from happening. Harry did manage to get rid of Isabelle by demanding that she make him dinner instead of talking through their relationship, though that sent him spiraling and trying various ways of coping with the resulting feelings, including picturing the many careers he might be able to have. I love that he got high with Asta and Darcy and then went to talk to his octopus cousin before showing up in Max’s bedroom so that he could request that popcorn be added to the shopping list. Realizing that Max could see the green glow and help him get to his spaceship was productive but also elicited real concern from Max over his wellbeing, and now Asta and Darcy put themselves in danger by running after him onto the glacier. Kate was very angry with Harry’s misdiagnosis of her son, and Ben didn’t do himself any favors by agreeing too strongly with her admission that she could be controlling sometimes. Liv venting about Mike digging into her yogurt and not sharing her umbrella before she bonded with Jimmy about colleagues not listening to them led to Mike talking to Liv about her improper use of contractions and alleged disrespect to him, and he’ll have to do some groveling, which is absolutely not his style, to get her to come back and work with him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower” (B+)

Smallville really is a small town, and the Kent and Cushing families are interacting on a number of levels in both generations. Sarah declaring to her mother that she could talk to her about anything in front of Jonathan and Jordan led to a good deal of personal information being revealed that will probably serve to make them even closer, especially her and Jordan, who she seemed to want to be interested in her coming to the game after she finally broke up with Sean. Jordan was smart to knock Sean down on the football field and then apologize to him for the “not cool” act of kissing Sarah, and hopefully that will be one less thing he’ll have to worry about. Clark volunteering to be assistant coach of the football team will likely lead to comedy, though it will also enable him to keep a closer eye on his sons. I did chuckle at Clark thinking that Lana had mistaken Jonathan for Jordan since actor Jordan Elsass portrays Jonathan, which I’m sure creates confusion on set. On a more dramatic note, I liked the quickness with which Lois pushed her beacon and Superman showed up to burst through a wall and try to fell her attacker. Things didn’t work out so well for him after he managed to get away, and it seems like there are more powerful super-powered beings ready to do Edge’s dirty work and clean up any messes. Lois and her new editor aren’t going to back down from this investigation, and they’ll likely end up in harm’s way again soon.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 2 “The Speed of Thought” (B+)

I did like this episode, even if it feels like this season is still revving up. The opening was somber, with Cisco paying tribute to the many people they’ve lost and might have completely forgotten if not for the nano-engraved, timeline-resistant wall. Naturally, saying goodbye to Wells was never going to be permanent, and though I think I’d give myself a pounding headache by trying to understand whether Eobard Thawne still exists in any timeline or multiverse after being erased seemingly countless times, it appears that the real Wells, who none of Team Flash ever met, may now be back thanks to some speedster, maybe our Flash, going back in time to revive him just moments after he was killed so that Thawne could take his place. In the meantime, Barry has become a malevolent speedster, using his speed-thinking to process out all emotion-based hesitancy and do only what was most logical to ensure the success of the mission. Iris was right to suspect that something was wrong when Barry robotically told her to come with him, and now she may not have even made the jump back to the real world I one piece. Barry’s emotions seemed to have returned at least in part thanks to the complete failure of his carefully-calculated plan, but he’s managed to fell most of his allies, so he’ll have to figure out a way to save the day on his own. Outing Eva as someone other than the person she believed herself to be has, as Caitlin warned, turned her into a villain who wants to tap into her evil side, which is good for absolutely no one.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer: Season 2, Episode 7 “Our Answer for Everything” (B-)

Well, none of this is good. Things escalated very quickly aboard Snowpiercer after the murder of the brakemen, and Wilford’s devious plan to get the passengers to turn on each other worked like a charm. They were ready to freeze off Pike’s arm before Andre bravely and impulsively offered up his own in exchange, a horrific event that Ruth stepped in to stop because of all the past guilt she felt about having done that same thing to many people as punishment for alleged insubordinate behavior. Ruth and Roche seemed to see eye-to-eye on fidelity to the train and their conflicted feelings towards Wilford, though Ruth appears to have made up her mind more than Roche as they saw the will of the train being put on display in the corkscrew, a powerful symbol of loyalty to someone who absolutely does not have the interests of the people in mind. Finding out that Kevin isn’t dead but that he was being held for Audrey to come in and creepily brainwash him into licking Wilford’s sleeper wasn’t exactly a positive turn of events, and Alex being kept out of Wilford’s plotting will hopefully lead to hear pushing to find out what’s going on and working to subvert him. When even the train chaplain is going around and killing people, you know things have gotten bad and aren’t likely to get better anytime soon. There are enough passengers in the tail to stage another revolution against Wilford if he does regain control, but that’s pretty much starting back at square one and ensuring plenty of casualties.

Monday, March 8, 2021

What I’m Watching: Good Girls (Season Premiere)

Good Girls: Season 4, Episode 1 “One Night in Bangkok” (C)

When this show ended up signing off a few installments early last May, I declared that I shouldn’t be watching it upon its return but that I probably would since I’m moderately intrigued by the story and characters. While this shouldn’t be technically considered a premiere since it’s merely continuing storylines that were supposed to be explored throughout season three, there’s no reason that it should have continued dragging on like this without any truly enticing new content. The incompetency of every character is irritating, particularly with the FBI, who wanted to ignore Phoebe’s very in-depth undercover operation as a boot camp instructor and pin the entire thing on Dean, who we know isn’t bright at all even if he’s demonstrating previously unseen work ethic. The health inspector prided herself on shutting down the hot tub store but was then so easily bribed with boatloads of cash placed in front of her, which didn’t exactly track. Ruby and Stan have to contend with a potential misdiagnosis of their son’s condition and what his needs will be, which will of course require extra money to be able to put him in the best place. Annie is distraught about not connecting with Ben and having no idea what he’s doing in his life, and she already has enough trouble focusing. While Beth managed to deal with her own distractions much better than the other two, solving this particular moment’s Rio problem and cooking up an impossible amount of baked goods, she is apparently the one getting in the way of James completing his assigned job. It would be nice if that plotline could just be wrapped up and these women could have someone other than Rio to work for, but I’m sure that won’t be the case. Will I come back next week to watch? I hope not, but probably.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 7 “Two at a Biker Bar, One in the Lake” (B)

This episode felt a bit more cringeworthy than usual because it wasn’t just our favorite characters making depraved decisions but instead doing things that were absolutely stupid and sure to have very problematic consequences. Kev wins that prize for this hour, looking at the bike with the full knowledge that he shouldn’t take it for a spin and then getting pulled over, which might have been problematic enough without the cop being intent on buying the stolen bike. I’m not sure why cell reception seems to be so bad that Kev and Lip couldn’t get through to each other at any point, but this last-ditch effort to cobble together enough money to avoid living with Tami’s family falling through was enough to push Lip to the edge. Debs was already riled up by Sandy’s lack of desire to be a mother to her son, and Lip showing up with a sledgehammer seemed to really scare her. The police couldn’t have come to question Lip at a worse time, and I hope that his family, both the Gallaghers and Tami, will be there for him. It was good to see Liam taking a stand for himself after some guidance from Veronica, while Carl managed to mess his situation up in a major way by accusing the latex-averse Tish of plenty of things that she hadn’t actually done. Watching Frank wander around Chicago so impossibly lost produces complicated feelings, because he was using his newly-diagnosed dementia as a way to con others until he lost sight of where he was, deserving of compassion but also unlikely to give it to anyone else under similar circumstances.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

What I’m Watching: WandaVision (Series Finale)

WandaVision: Season 1, Episode 9 “The Series Finale” (B+)

It’s hard to get into a show and then see it go after just one season, possibly even more when it is well-received and audiences would definitely be up for more (see: “Watchmen”). In this case, it’s good to know that most of the characters will indeed be back in other Marvel Cinematic Universe projects, even if those take a few years to come out. I know that this finale was divisive, but I’m pretty pleased. It delivered the payoff I wanted after not exactly being sure where it was all headed at the start when things were still all sitcom-centric. The white Vision fighting the one we know was most worthwhile not for the physical combat but for the intellectual conversation they had about his prime directive and whether the Vision that Wanda brought back to life actually constituted the entity he was charged with destroying. Wanda demonstrating her true power when Agatha tried to harness it from her was a formidable sight, and Agatha’s fate to be trapped in the sitcom role felt extremely punitive though likely appropriate given her nefarious aims. Having the boys hold off the soldiers while Darcy showed up to stop Hayward provided a nice way to close off those storylines. Seeing just how much the people of Westview reviled Wanda as she walked through to meet Monica was intense, and having to go from being a member of a loving family to all alone is sure to have a devastating effect on her psyche, though the Scarlet Witch’s machinations in the second post-credits scene suggest that Wanda isn’t really in control. I hope that “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is just as enthralling and creative as this show, and that whatever comes next with all these characters does them justice. It’s been a fun and mind-bending ride. To anyone who liked this show, please watch “Legion” on Hulu next.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Elizabeth Olsen

What I’m Watching: Clarice

Clarice: Season 1, Episode 4 “You Can’t Rule Me” (B-)

It’s good to see that this show employs purposeful and moody cinematography choices and aerial shots in an effort to make it more than just a standard procedural. But, unfortunately, it hasn’t really felt elevated in any respect, especially over the course of this episode, which felt like unnecessary filler. There was no way that VICAP was going to get shut down even though things did not look good, and it all seemed like a dragged-out debacle that was just going to lead to the team feeling more united. They got to have fun with Murray covering for his absent colleagues while they went out and did actual investigating, while Krendler played mind games with Tony, who clearly had a personal vendetta to air with him. He was more than happy to put himself on the chopping block to protect his team, and was all about defending Clarice’s instincts even while acknowledging his own initial doubts about their veracity. Tomas made fun of Clarice’s crappy car but was a good partner for her in the field, and she could use some help right now given the very precarious situation in which she’s found herself. Ardelia getting assigned to investigate VICAP made things very uncomfortable for her and Clarice, and it’s going to be hard for them to continue as friends without what happened getting in the way of that. I do think that Ardelia could be a worthwhile character in her own right, and exploring her more outside of just her relationship with Clarice will likely be interesting.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 1, Episode 10 “B Negative Part 2” (B+)

I’m not usually fond of episodes in which characters do drugs and then start acting in a very silly manner. That definitely happened here, except of course for the actual taking of drugs since Drew was delusional because he skipped dialysis and not because of the Tylenol that Gina gave him from the bag of mints in her fanny pack. It is refreshing to see him at least confronting the reality of the situation and trying to find ways to get comfortable with the uncertainty. It’s good that he wasn’t planning to go to Iceland with Maddie and that he was sending Julia with her instead, though his airport sendoff wasn’t a great moment when he made the ill-advised choice to run past TSA to give Maddie her guidebook. He pegged Gina’s skill at being a cheerleader and that he wasn’t in the mood, but she isn’t one to give up easily. It was sweet to see that his dialysis group showed up to look for him, and that Gina and Eli got to bond while they were walking around on the snowy-ish streets. Seeing Drew in a hospital bed at the end of the episode felt more dramatic than this show tends to be, but the mood lightened considerably when Samantha mocked him trying to breastfeed a garden gnome and opted to visit Jerry so that she wouldn’t have to come back and pay for parking again. Even Jerry got to let someone else be the punching bag for once, and he returned the favor by thanking Drew for giving him a reason to live (and laugh).

Friday, March 5, 2021

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 1, Episode 10 “Business Council” (B-)

The setup of this episode felt a bit obvious, with Kat completely oblivious to the fact that Carter wanted to “butter her up with a vegan sandwich” and Carter failing to consider that there could be legitimate reasons that Kat would decide to vote against his proposed extended hours. I also get that there’s an idea of unyielding loyalty, and it was good therefore to see them reconcile in serious fashion after Kat showed up first with tap shoes and then with hand-written signs spelling out a message that he wasn’t interested in hearing. Kat was definitely wrong to think that no one had manipulated her in the past since she’s highly susceptible to flattery and generally gullible, but it is affirming to see her sticking to her principles when the arguments do compel her to make the right choice and to cancel her proclamation that the “season of Carter is over.” I’m not exactly sure how Daniel not being available for Randi’s photo shoot led to her taking naked pictures of Phil and the two of them taking a foot bath together, but sometimes it’s better to ignore the questionable origin on the sitcom plotlines here and just go with it so that you can enjoy the friendship between Kat’s two employees. It was fun to see Max’s reaction to Kat suggesting another option for the furniture that he was supposed to be taking, an exercise that didn’t work out all that well for anyone given the fate of Kat’s dad’s jukebox.