Saturday, July 31, 2021

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 9 “Let’s Face the Facts” (B+)

The end of this episode definitely felt like a true pivot, one that was going to send things in a new and exciting direction, and that makes sense considering it’s the penultimate installment of the season. It’s always nerve-racking to get to this point without knowing whether a second season is indeed coming, and I do think this show has plenty more to offer, especially when it comes to Breem and to Tyler’s hearing and all the new plotlines introduced in this half-hour. I also like that Simone, perfectly happy to have sex with a married man as she may be, is much more attuned to what Sheila’s actually going through than Danny is, expressing sympathy about the money problems and then pointing out to Danny that she might have a problem with food, something he had never possibly even considered. Getting caught by Maya on the couch doesn’t recommend her too well, but Sheila has, fortunately, moved on to much better things. After being condescended to by Danny about remembering her burying them in debt, not asking her for her input, Sheila took decisive action and chose to be honest with Greta, something that brought together a wonderful ragtag band of free thinkers ready to make some serious money from their tapes. I’m intrigued that Breem wanted to help Sheila make something of her tapes and I enjoyed that she called him on always half-saying something before walking away. Tyler did not do a good job of resisting going back in the ocean after his hearing issue got his board snapped in half, but a heart-to-heart with Bunny did the trick, and now he’ll have a positive outlet for his energy making more of those fantastic tapes, which I really hope do more than just finance Danny’s winning campaign.

What I’m Watching: Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso: Season 2, Episode 2 “Lavender” (B+)

There’s something about Sharon that seems to serious for this show since Hannah, even in her early days of trying to take down Ted as revenge against Rupert had her comedy moments. But Sharon is much more serious, determined to take the approach she’s known to be successful and fully aware of how Ted is going to perceive her as a threat. I like that, even though she doesn’t eat sugar, she was polite enough to try one of Ted’s biscuits before handing him back the box, and she remembered what he had so directly asked her in her office earlier, giving him the response as she was biking home on her fold-up transformer bike. I also enjoyed that she was clearly moving closer and that it wasn’t just an optical illusion that Ted was experiencing. The big challenge that Ted is going to face now is about Jamie coming back to the team, especially Sam was so clear that he made life miserable for him. I have much more sympathy for Jamie now after my very friendly conversation with actor Phil Dunster, and I’m glad he’s back even if the character really is detestable. Roy’s new workplace life is a change, and as long as the censors don’t keep him off the air, he might do fine just being himself to a thunderously enthusiastic audience. I liked his response to catching Keeley with the video of him emotionally retiring, and it’s great to see that his post-football career is absolutely still worth featuring. I’m loving the Higgins pop-up appearances all around the stadium, but I’m not as into Nate not realizing how terribly he’s treating his replacement.

Interviews with Abe: The Pursuit of Love

I had the pleasure of interviewing actress Emily Beecham and actress-director Emily Mortimer about their new series “The Pursuit of Love” for Watch both conversations in full below!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Take Three: The Pursuit of Love (Series Finale)

The Pursuit of Love: Season 1, Episode 3 (B+)

I’ve always found three episodes to be a strange length for a show, especially since I feel like I could have spent a lot longer with these characters. Yet there was something fitting about how much of this show there was, and this installment was a good bookend for what came before it. This really did feel like the ultimate romance between Linda and Fabrice, though it was peculiar, in a way that everyone except for Linda noticed, that he kept her away from everyone all to himself rather than trying to show her off to the world. His reputation apparently preceded him, and I love how Davey and Merlin reacted to finding out who he was. The best comic moment of this episode was surely Merlin explaining that he had to wear glasses because he had such kind eyes and the poor expected him to be generous with them. It was strange to see Linda as a mother judging her daughter for “running away to America” when she was practically paralyzed by the idea of leaving her home for fear of missing a call from her beloved Fabrice. That she didn’t survive and everyone else did also didn’t feel quite right, but it did enable the Bolter to pass judgment on what she could have been. It was also interesting to see Fanny’s relationship with Alfred and the resentment they both felt to the expectations of the time that burdened them. This has been a very enthralling and visually striking series, and I would encourage all fans to check out my interviews with star Emily Beecham, who plays Fanny, and director and star Emily Mortimer!

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Emily Beecham and Lily James

Round Two: The Pursuit of Love (Penultimate Episode)

The Pursuit of Love: Season 1, Episode 2 (B+)

This installment took us away from the large, chauvinistic home where Linda grew up and Fanny spent so much time, showing both women what the world had to offer and how not all of it lasted all that long. It wasn’t a surprise that Linda’s marriage to Tony was a failure from the beginning, but that’s partially because Linda needs excitement, which a life of stability and normalcy didn’t offer. Fighting with Tony over whether their daughter could eat cake was just the start of their problems, and meeting someone new meant an entirely different sort of rebellion. Going to help with the war effort put her in a place she hadn’t been before, and though she wasn’t exactly well-suited for the task, she did bring with it a sort of skill. That relationship didn’t last either, but the nice French man who saw her crying in the train station might have more to offer her now that she doesn’t know what to do with her life. Matthew banning her from the house for getting divorced was typically emphatic and cruel, as was him judging his son for fighting a second-class war when a first-class one would soon be available. I enjoyed Merlin’s description of his horse as being almost domesticated, just like Matthew. Merlin having Fanny give his dogs whiskey rather than water was another great moment, and though her life with Alfred isn’t nearly as fantastical, she still seems to be relatively happy. Seeing Emily Mortimer’s the Bolter again was a wonderful treat too.

Pilot Review: The Pursuit of 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.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill (Season Finale)

Why Women Kill: Season 2, Episode 10 “The Lady Confesses” (B+)

It was hard to expect a happy ending for this episode, but I think that things wrapped up in a pretty fitting way, given the extreme nature of the circumstances in which the characters all found themselves. There are certain members of the ensemble we didn’t even get to see again, like Catherine, who went into on-the-lam mode and managed to evade capture, and both of the men that she shot ended up surviving. Rita going to confront Alma at the big event where she was being officially installed caused exactly enough attention, with Alma so intent on protecting her newfound status that she was ready to kill her in cold blood, which unfortunately ended up staying on her wardrobe and ruining her acceptance speech. It was a haunting way to say goodbye to her, seeing how she loved the attention she got even on the day that she received a death sentence, since she merely swapped out hateful protestors for adoring fans in her mind. Bertram’s fate was considerably sadder, since he tried to take the blame for it all and protect his wife only to have her end up getting arrested anyway. I’m glad there weren’t more casualties, like Dee and Vern, though this was a stressful and suspenseful right up until the end. I’m sad that we won’t get to see these characters again but I very much look forward to seeing what this show has to offer in the season three that I hope we’ll get.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Allison Tolman as Alma

What I’m Watching: Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail

Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail: Season 3, Episode 3 “Hunting Party” (B+)

I’m loving the wealth of opportunities for different characters to interact with one another in this season, and this episode offered plenty of that. It’s unfortunate that Ezekiel took what Prudence said about him the way that Benny interpreted it rather than as the compliment she meant it as, and as a result he felt the need to prove his manliness by going along with them. Just as Prudence is the voice of reason, so too is Ezekiel, who pointed out that the buffalo were large, slow-moving targets that didn’t require much in the way of skill to accurately shoot. Bears, on the other hand, are a bit more menacing, and as painstakingly recounted in the episode-ending funeral, not everyone made it back alive. Prudence asking Benny to train her to be a bandit was an entertaining exercise, one that involved surprisingly few conclusions, namely that it’s a good idea to just start shooting, not that Benny was prepared to do that when he just suggested that they die when they were under siege. Prudence’s eagerness to redo her entrance and show just how much of a natural she was proved entertaining. I was also excited to see the Gunslinger again, whose joke about also being a bounty hunter went over poorly but who was very well-armed under that fur coat of his that he decided to still buy after Benny and Prudence got away. I expect we’ll see plenty of him again, though he’ll always be a step behind the somehow still-alive Benny.

What I’m Watching: Black Monday

Black Monday: Season 3, Episode 9 “Two!” (B-)

These characters are pretty slow on the uptake, and it took them a good few minutes to realize that hatching a perfect plan to be all in the same place so the killer would try to pick them off wasn’t necessary because that was already the case. This season has been all about uninvited and unexpected visitors, and this episode offered plenty of those. The one who had the most miserable time of it was definitely Yassir, who has become a true human punching bag, and that got very literal as he stepped into all of the booby traps that they set for the murderer after them. I enjoyed Dawn’s attempt at gender equality by asserting that the killer could be a woman, which of course wasn’t the case since it’s someone we’ve met and a cast member who seems determined not to leave the show: Lenny! I was surprised to recognize Aaron Stanford, a familiar ace from “12 Monkeys,” as the doctor nursing him back to health, and while I’m not too thrilled with what they did with Ken Marino’s characters, it does seem like this undoes everything that all of them have been trying to achieve this season, which should make for a memorable finale. In terms of startling reveals, I enjoyed Werner admitting to Blair that he was just an intern and that he actually has no power at all with the RNC, which surely will no longer be considering Blair for anything close to the VP slot.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

What I’m Watching: Dead Pixels

Dead Pixels: Season 2, Episode 2 “The Chair” (B+)

I like that this show is true to who its characters are, but I think I do want to see the spinoff that’s never going to be made where Alison goes out into the world only to constantly come home and find her roommates refusing to leave their rooms because they won’t stop playing video games. She was rather blunt about her own personal life in this episode, and I loved the response Nicky gave when she told him that Meg was coming to the gym with her, a quite unexpected development. I think the best moment of this episode was definitely Meg trying to follow up on her crush on the water guy by asking him out for a drink at precisely the moment that she realized that she had drunk way too much water, prompting a hilarious rejection from him in the form of a declaration that she absolutely did not need any more liquids. Nicky wasn’t in much better shape, of course, agreeing to Russell’s excitement at buying his avatar so that he could use it primarily to fart, a feature apparently designed for children, so that Nicky could continue his endless collection of crates. Meeting a female character who enjoyed brutally killing him over and over again seems to have completely redirected his interest, and I hope that translates to a real-life rendezvous. Usman hiding out in a closet because his family thought he had to go to work was typically absurd, and the pest inspector giving him a salute to affirm his enthusiasm for the game was a great ending to this episode.

Take Three: The White Lotus

The White Lotus: Season 1, Episode 3 “Mysterious Monkeys” (B+)

I feel like everything is about to implode, with these people on their vacations interacting in ways that are just going to make them want to jump out of their skin and far too ready to say things that will be problematic and impossible to take back. Quinn having all of his things washed away or ruined isn’t all that consequential since it just means that he needs to use his parents’ phones to watch porn, fulfilling the image of him that Olivia has even if it’s not particularly nice. Mark is going off the deep end thinking about his father’s secret life, and I loved how Murray answered his question about what gay sex was like by asking him if he wanted to find out. It was certainly less drawn-out than Rachel sitting there and listening to Mark drone on about how the spark has died and then launch into a detailed narrative of his sex life even with his son right there and then underline his point by arguing that you don’t watch the same porn clip every time. Shane only becomes more unbearable with each passing episode, flirting with Olivia and Paula and dismissing it to Rachel as nothing and then complaining about how he was being gaslighted since people have been “coming for him” his entire life. Armond was eager to seize an opportunity to ruin Shane’s vacation for real by pairing his romantic candlelit dinner with Tanya’s ashes-scattering trip, and I expected something much more dramatic than Shane offering to open the box for her and then just doing it. Armond hitting on Dylan seemed to catch him by surprise, and Belinda fighting him sleeping in his car suggests that he’s losing his grip, thanks no doubt to the contents of Paula’s bag that he’s pretending he didn’t find. I’m not sure what Olivia is going to do now that she’s seen Paula with the guy she kept saying she didn’t notice, and that’s just one of the many things that will surely grow more volatile in the final three episodes.

What I’m Watching: Blindspotting

Blindspotting: Season 1, Episode 6 “Ghost Dad” (B+)

One of the things I find most intriguing about this show is that Miles is a character who is seen frequently but not as the real version of himself. He’s on the phone talking to us, the audience, at the start of every episode in a style reminiscent of “Shameless,” but that’s just a gimmick to invite viewers back in for each installment. He appeared in a good chunk of this episode, but only hallucinated in a Gatsby outfit for Ashley to work through her doubts about finally telling Sean that his father is in prison. It’s not as if actor Rafael Casal isn’t available, but instead it feels like a purposeful reflection of reality, that he feels so distant and Ashley can only imagine most of their conversations since his incarceration makes it difficult to have them in person, especially when she doesn’t stick around to be able to visit him. This episode’s title was a very fitting one as a result. While Ashley was out for the day, there was considerable panic at home when Nancy, Janelle, and Earl took a proactive approach to ensuring that Sean was sufficiently aware of and well-versed in his blackness, a concern that may indeed have stemmed from an uncertain tone in the insinuating question. Ashley did make the difficult decision to finally tell Sean the truth, and I’m curious how long it will be before we’ll get a chance to see the real Miles and how he reacts to Ashley letting him see Sean in person after he’s been wanting to for so long.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

What I’m Watching: The End

The End: Season 1, Episode 4 “Polar Bear” (B+)

This episode, while not entirely pleasant, showed us that it’s not just the world that these characters are mad at for forcing them to continue existing, but also at each other, as we saw a very vicious interaction between Oberon and his grandmother in which she refused to address him by his preferred pronouns and he rather bluntly questioned why she hadn’t just gone and died already. The most startling development was what Kate decided to do with the concoction she hadn’t actually thrown out, knowing full well what Edie might do with it but suspecting that she was having a better time with life than she was before, thanks in no small part to the truly fantastic Pamela and despite the annoyance of her family, including her granddaughter vomiting in her lap in the car. Their visit to Persephone and Oberon’s father was enlightening, and he seems perfectly content in his situation, making friends and doing all of his research about how Oberon might one day regret the choice he made to leave his former life behind for good. The spotlight on Art is truly heartbreaking, though at least those around him treated him gently, informing him that his payment method wasn’t going through and waiting as he struggled to remember the PIN for his ATM card when he tried to use cash instead. Edie wasn’t quite as gentle, but it seems like that’s not her strong suit and she tends to approach situations in a brasher, less subtle way.

Take Three: The End

The End: Season 1, Episode 3 “Fuck Christmas” (B+)

I didn’t expect that Kate would have a chance to make amends for the judgment call that resulted in her getting suspended from her job, though her willingness to attend the grief support group and even directly apologize weren’t enough. Getting called in after he gave someone a cocktail that didn’t do what it was supposed to do put her in an impossible position, but she sprang into action and helped rectify the situation to the best of her ability. I have a feeling she’s going to continue doing that now since she knows that people are suffering and looking for a way to end their lives peacefully, and that will likely come into conflict with her regular job, if they do end up bringing her back on. I was quite surprised that Edie was even willing to consider performing in public because that seems like exactly the kind of thing that she would hate, but it appears that there’s history with her husband and a lifetime of feeling like she wasn’t allowed to properly express herself. Kate missing that and then being on the phone while Persephone was having her big moment was unfortunate since it doesn’t make it seem like she’s interested or invested when she’s actually dealing with quite a lot, and evidently there’s additional baggage related to the church that makes things even more complicated. Art acknowledging his impending vascular dementia was a melancholy moment, one that emphasized how he knows he’s alone and can’t do anything to stop what’s going to happen to him.

What I’m Watching: Kevin Can F**k Himself (Season Finale)

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 1, Episode 8 “Fixed” (B)

This was a strange note to end on, especially given the fact that there’s still no word on a renewal of this show. Having Kevin appear outside of the house has always felt weird, and I had a feeling that he wasn’t going to be the one who ended up dead when Allison was being questioned by the police. The frame job that she and Patty were trying to execute on the comatose Nick wasn’t even that complicated or problematic, and instead it was Kevin getting his next great stroke of genius that threatened to send Allison over the edge. We did get to see her talk back to Kevin and call him a name for the first time, though he barely even blinked and just latched on to the positive part of what she said he wasn’t. Sam’s efforts to console her failed too because he gave her what she recognized was not a compliment, and Patty saying that the only person she had was Tammy didn’t make things any better at all. I did not expect Neil to be the one to discover what Allison was up to, and that scene turned violent very quickly with him trying to strangle her, a sign that his slapstick comedy, like Kevin’s, is just a mask for abusive behavior that many might dismiss as guys just being guys. I thought that Kurt was going to prod Tammy to look into Patty’s questionable business practices, but she seems determined to get to know Patty better rather than look for problems to dwell on. I’m definitely intrigued by this show and want to see more of it, though this first season has been an unsettling experience more than anything else.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Annie Murphy as Allison

Monday, July 26, 2021

Take Three: Schmigadoon

Schmigadoon: Season 1, Episode 3 “Cross That Bridge” (B+)

The opening flashback to an earlier time was highly informative, both for how Josh so casually noted what he didn’t like doing without caring at all what she didn’t like and how he was able to co-opt a sweet story he heard there and use it to his advantage to try to get the hell out of Schmigadoon. Melissa woke up to a friendly and lavish reception in the morning from Danny, who was singing passionately about her being pregnant and wasn’t listening when she kept telling him that she wasn’t pregnant and in fact had an IUD. Josh’s situation was somewhat more nightmarish, but Melissa didn’t have much sympathy for him given how quickly he had managed to find himself engaged to someone very young. Theorizing that he just needed to find what Schmigadoon considered true love in order to escape it wasn’t a fabulous plan, and it backfired spectacularly as he managed to move through the entire female population of the town and then find an angry Melissa even madder at him than she was before. The name of Mildred’s group, Mothers Against the Future, was very spot-on, and I also enjoyed Florence’s spot-on song about that queer man of hers. I’m intrigued to see that, after these initial antics with Betsy and Danny, Josh and Melissa have both now become enchanted by different prospective partners, Emma Tate, played by Ariana DeBose from “The Prom,” and Doc Lopez, played by Jaime Camil from “Jane the Virgin.” I’m excited to see more of both of them.

What I’m Watching: Intelligence (Season Finale)

Intelligence: Season 2, Episode 6 (B-)

This wasn’t a great note to end on, especially not knowing whether this show will be brought back for a third season. I didn’t quite understand the nature of Jerry’s promotion at GHCQ and what it meant, including why Christine wasn’t sure if he was high-ranking enough to sit at the head of the table and run meetings with her when she was the one who broke that news to him in the first place. I also suspected that Jerry made up the NSA promotion he was up for back home, but we didn’t get much information about that. It wasn’t too surprising that Joseph still came into the very un-secured office since he still had access and didn’t seem to understand what being fired meant, and I enjoyed the back-and-forth where Joseph thought he had been given a PA rather than made one and Evelyn asked if she was getting one even though that’s literally her entire job. A similarly humorous exchange occurred later when Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing got mixed up and Evelyn ended up thinking that Benedict Cumberbatch was dead. The surprise party Joseph threw for Jerry was very awkward, and Christine was all too enthusiastic to toast to never seeing Joseph again. Jerry telling Joseph that he was like a pilot fish was a mildly sentimental act, especially for him, and now it’s surely going to take the team a while to learn that Jerry has been abducted by some unknown group. It was a bit of a dark end, but I’ll dwell instead on the fact that something good finally happened to Joseph, which is that Charlotte wasn’t disappointed that he got fired and that the two of them actually seem to be well-suited for each other. This season has been, like season one, a bit uneven but still full of laughs, and so I’m all for tuning in for a third iteration.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Sylvestra Le Touzel as Christine

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 8 “Let's Not and Say We Did” (B+)

It’s good to see that, disconnected as he may be from what Sheila needs right now and most of the time, Danny is most concerned with protecting her and feels an absolutely loyalty to her over her parents because of their lack of faith in her reports of sexual abuse. Until this point, Sheila’s fractured relationship with her parents had been boiled down Danny being Jewish and them not liking him because he wasn’t rich, but this installment revealed a much deeper rift based on a categorical dismissal of Sheila’s feelings and experiences as valid. She knew she needed the money to get out of the hole that she’s in, and she was willing to let them meet her daughter, but Danny wasn’t going to budge at all on that. I did appreciate the casting of Wendie Malick and Ray Wise, two formidable actors, as Sheila’s parents, though Sheila’s lawn-smashing indicates that we probably won’t see them again. Sheila is going to have to deal with her financial predicament when she gets home and learns that a dead woman in her bed isn’t the best reason not to leave Jerry alone in her house. Greta’s hairstyle change seems to have paid off, with Ernie being much more honest with her and actually noticing her all the time. I’m a big fan of Tyler’s, and I’m glad that his forgotten night out with a new surfboard didn’t result in him getting stabbed by Bunny and that the two of them seem to be a great match for each other.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

What I’m Watching: Ted Lasso (Season Premiere)

Ted Lasso: Season 2, Episode 1 “Goodbye Earl” (B+)

It’s a true joy to have this show back, and I’m glad to see that there are many fun, familiar elements still in place and some new directions that should be entertaining and intriguing to watch. Having Dani accidentally kill the dog while making a shot was a jarring catalyst for what’s sure to be the biggest issue of the season, which is that Ted is threatened by the presence of the new sports psychologist that everyone seems to love. She certainly has a different approach than Ted does, and she’s so warm with each member of the team in a way that she definitely was not with Ted and his hapless welcome team. I’m glad that Dani’s yips don’t appear to be something that will last all season, but she’s evidently not going anywhere, and Ted isn’t going to be happy about that at all since he’s been the stirring force of the team up until now. Ending every game in a draw seems pretty standard for Richmond, and Rebecca is too distracted by other things to be overly invested in a different outcome. I appreciated seeing certified stubborn grump Roy deliver his angry, passionate take on why Rebecca deserved better, and he seems to be living his best life even if he’s not doing what everyone else wants him to, though seeing Jamie on that reality show may prompt him to change his mind. Nate’s new attitude doesn’t seem superb, though I imagine it comes mostly from feeling that his replacement doesn’t take his job seriously enough. I appreciated Ted’s reference to coincidences in “Magnolia” and the clever incorporation of “Wise Up” into the soundtrack of this episode, a great callback to a wonderful film.

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill

Why Women Kill: Season 2, Episode 9 “The Unguarded Moment” (B+)

I really did expect Dee to confront her parents about Mrs. Yost’s murder and for that to lead to some clarity, but instead all we got was more lies, resulting in unfortunate consequences for people who weren’t innocent in all this but did not deserve the fates they’ve apparently gotten. It was miserable to see Bertram moping around, trying desperately to get Dee to see him only to have her continually reject him. That she went to her mother instead, who jumped on her lie about Bertram’s infidelity to continue to mask the truth, meant that no one got the answers they needed and Bertram ended up getting struck by Catherine’s bullet while he was walking home that night. I’m not entirely clear on what Scooter’s real motivations were and if he just wanted to be human to Rita or if he had theoretically been playing Catherine the whole time, but none of that mattered given that she acted based on what she perceived, which prompted her to bring a gun to confront the two lovers on the street. Both she and Rita will now have something to unify them given that they both cared for Scooter, though Catherine is likely to be the one spending time behind bars given the fact that she shot someone in public. Alma’s power-hungry quest to rule the garden club resulted in her failing her one true ally through all of this, and though she looks poised to get away with it, she’s not going to do so without losing the person who always believed in her all along.

Pilot Review: Ultra City Smiths

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.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

What I’m Watching: Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail

Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail: Season 3, Episode 2 “Fording the River” (B+)

I do appreciate that, three years in, this show is still finding new ways to send up both history and modernity and keeping it relatively fresh. Todd deciding to take the nearby ferry so that he wouldn’t get wet and not even considering the fact that he might be able to take something heavy along with him so that the rest of the group didn’t have to literally leave someone behind to die was just the beginning of the absurdity, and I enjoyed that they met a couple of hipster tourists there who were all about taking pictures without actually doing any of the activities portrayed in them. Leave it to Prudence to notice that the woman kept saying “hashtag” and other modern expressions, something explained by her husband as insanity as a result of being kicked in the head by a horse (or was it a horseshoe?). I also liked that Prudence’s departure meant that they no longer wanted to swing, and that Todd was informed that he would have been watching at best had she stayed. Prudence pushing him into the water after she saved Ezekiel from drowning was a great moment, and everyone being surprised by how strong she was underlines the demeaning misconceptions about female ability in the era (and now). Benny trying to figure out what game Ezekiel was running as he was drowning was entertaining, as was his eagerness to show Ezekiel that he didn’t have any good nature in him, like saving someone from a fire just to then rob and shoot him. But they are starting to get along, and that’s fun to see.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 13 “Fail Safe” (B+)

What did I say about never making bold statements like “they’ll never hurt anyone again” when you can’t even keep a supervillain bent on the destruction of the human race locked up for even one episode? It was obvious that Edge was going to break out of his prison, though I don’t think I expected him to do so quite so soon. It was smart that Clark recommended that Sam not get rid of all the Kryptonite weaponry he had, mainly because Clark isn’t the only Kryptonian, despite that nickname he always gets where he’s the last son, who could pose a threat to Earth. It’s good that he has John around to help him and that he’s becoming friendly enough with the Kent family to be staying at their house. Problems are relative, I guess, since Lana and Kyle arguing about moving out of Smallville is hardly as monumental as Clark needing to prepare to save the planet and might be somewhere along the same lines as Lois clashing with her dad about access and comprising her journalistic integrity to protect her family. She really should be honest with Chrissy since she’ll inevitably learn the truth and won’t be nearly as interested in helping Lois at that point. I was amused that both Jonathan and Jordan skipped school to hang out with girls, though Jordan had a much more positive experience even though it ended in him and Sarah being arrested. It’s a shame that Jonathan had to find out that Tegan was only interested in him for his Edge gossip, but at least nothing problematic happened along the way other than him getting grounded for skipping school.

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

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 18 “Heart of the Matter – Part 2” (B-)

I’m a bit puzzled by how and why certain things happened, and I like the fact that this episode ended on a positive note without any villainy so that next season can restart things in a completely new way. I can’t begin to comprehend how Thawne was brought back to life, and it’s oddest to me since it was announced that Tom Cavanagh was going to be leaving the show for good, but they’ve set it up so that he exists again and can easily come back to torment and try to kill Barry again. I’m also not sure why Matt Letscher isn’t the one playing the part and why it is that he’s permanently assumed Harrison Wells’ face, especially since Letscher portrayed him on “Legends of Tomorrow.” But more importantly, bringing him in to defeat Godspeed was a bold move, and naturally he did exert much more violence than Barry ever would to try to take him down. So much for August Heart having the ability to redeem himself and prevent his nefarious future, but I didn’t want to see more of Godspeed anyway, so him being gone is fine. I am most curious about Kramer’s newly discovered abilities to briefly mimic the powers of those around her, and I hope that she sticks around in some capacity now that she’s firmly one of the good guys. A vow renewal seemed a bit premature for Barry and Iris, especially with the adult son they haven’t even conceived yet singing at it, but what’s wrong with a little romance every once in a while, right? This season didn’t wow me but I think there’s hope for good stuff ahead in season eight, and I fully expect to tune in when the show returns in November.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin and Killer Frost

Friday, July 23, 2021

Pilot Review: The Deceived

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: Black Monday

Black Monday: Season 3, Episode 8 “Three!” (C+)

It’s honestly just so hard to keep track of what’s really going on here with so many characters dying each episode and everyone being so damn dishonest with everyone else. Tiff prepping her weapons and a murder sheet and then slicing off the top of a champagne bottle with a sword, and Blair was at least smart enough to switch their food when she said he forgot the poison, though she was fully aware that he had done that. Blair may have ultimately been welcomed back in after wandering into a surprise party that wasn’t for him and being granted a return invitation by the group, but Tiff doesn’t seem to be doing well given that she’s bleeding out on a dance floor, not that copious amounts of blood and a fatal-looking wound mean certain death on this show. I will say that Larry, who survived being dangled off a balcony moments earlier, having his head topple off in the elevator is almost definitely not going to come back, but knowing this show, there’s probably a third Lehman brother who isn’t just Keith trying to take advantage of an opportunity. For anyone reading this review who saw the episode but didn’t watch past the end credits, I’d advise avoiding it since this show is really going all out with the explicitness for no real reason. If there’s one thing this group is not good at, it’s executing a plan, particularly when it involves getting people to say incriminating things on tape. Can two more episodes really clarify what the hell is going on here and why? I’m dubious.

What I’m Watching: Dead Pixels (Season Premiere)

Dead Pixels: Season 2, Episode 1 “Crates” (B+)

I enjoyed watching season one of this show when it made its debut on the CW a little under a year ago, and it’s nice not to have to wait too long for this season, which aired almost two years after its original premiere on E4 in the UK back in January but arrives to American television now. The framing of an expansion pack as the reason to launch back into it was logical and productive, and Meg and Nicky actually seemed to be relatively well-prepared as they barely listened to Alison talk about her impending trip to Greece and told her how they were ready to go pack with the right attitude. Meg’s laptop pants were simultaneously impressive and worrisome, and their reaction to Alison’s request not to pee in any of her nice glasses didn’t seem to startle them though it had clearly happened before. The new game was quite a disappointment in many ways, and while Meg had to pull out after all of the young kids were very mean to her rather than respectful of their elder, Nicky got sucked in and appears to be spending extraordinary amounts of money to open boxes and selling his earthly possessions at work to fund this addictive hobby. Meg inviting herself along to an outdoor, real-world activity with Alison was a shock, but she didn’t last long before she literally ran away from that back to the safety of inside and home. Russell never gets treated too well, and at least he had a positive outlook on how creative the latest trick he fell for was.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Round Two: The White Lotus

The White Lotus: Season 1, Episode 2 “New Day” (B+)

I’m very pleased to see that this show isn’t relying much on flashbacks to anchor its story, settling for that opening scene in the pilot and now remaining firmly in the present as things start to crumble. Good news seems to always be followed by bad news, like with Mark, who was elated not to have cancer but then startled to learn that his father died of AIDS, a jarring revelation best understood by the open-mouthed shock on Nicole’s face. Connie Britton continues to be fantastic, dismissing Paula’s apparent diagnosis and questioning whether her doctor is Lena Dunham. Quinn sleeping in the closet kitchen with no air wasn’t good for him, and, after all the craziness of this episode, he got to see an amazing sight all by himself in the morning. Why Paula is lying to Olivia about her flirting is unknown, and those two friends are going to start losing it now that their stash of drugs is gone and in the hands of Armond, who’s nursing his guilt and indulging in a previously-controlled addiction. I’m intrigued by the relationship between Tanya and Belinda, and the look on Belinda’s face when Tanya suggested bankrolling her was quite interesting. Shane just can’t let the whole wrong-room thing go, and while that’s making things awkward, he showed how much he is really an asshole when he responded to Rachel saying she wanted to do the article by offering to pay her double not to do it. I’m not so sure that the body in the coffin is going to end up being her, but it’s looking more and more like this problematic relationship isn’t going to survive even if both of them do.

What I’m Watching: Blindspotting

Blindspotting: Season 1, Episode 5 “Beaches Be Trippin’” (B+)

This episode certainly had a clever title, and this show manages to keep things uniquely interesting even without too much going on over the course of a half-hour installment. I like that the mutual dislike between Ashley and Trish is acknowledged frequently by both of them, and that Ashley is usually the instigator, tricking her into confirming that she owned a particular kind of bathing suit. Janelle bringing them to the beach to get high and exorcise some of their demons was well-intentioned but naturally missing a few important details, like the fact that they weren’t supposed to have eaten anything beforehand. I appreciated seeing some familiar TV faces on the beach, with Emily Althaus from “Togetherness” and “Orange is the New Black” as Amy, who was even more emotional than the rest of them, and Ginger Gonzaga from “Kidding” and “Mixology” as Maria, who prefers Venmo to Paypal. Their joint trip was indeed trippy, and coming out of it on the beach together at the end felt relatively therapeutic, with the potential even to improve Ashley and Trish’s existing relationship. The highlight of the episode was Earl and his desperate effort to do well at his interview while racing home to make it by 5pm before his monitor kicked back in. While his new boss, played by Susan Park from “Snowpiercer,” probably should not have hired him for a dependable early-morning job requiring a good deal of heavy lifting, he did show a remarkable commitment to being on time when everything depended on it.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 6, Episode 10 “Bad Blood” (B-)

I did not particularly care for Constantine’s adventure with Spooner, and that’s partially because he’s far from my favorite character and I’d rather this show focused more on superpowers than on magic, though I do admit that they’re not all that different in concept. The notable takeaway, of course, is that Constantine didn’t succeed in finding what he was looking for, and when Spooner tried to point that out to him, he transfixed her so that she won’t be able to tell anyone about it. That’s sure to have negative consequences down the line, but of course we may not see those right away. The vampire that Constantine casually invited into his house seems to have put him in a more precarious position than the one that he tricked her into entering, and that’s another can of worms that will surely follow Constantine and the legends. Aboard the ship, I enjoyed the antics of Mick being pregnant and having to be told by his daughter that he’s not making responsible choices. His resistance to even being examined by Gideon was the first real obstacle to making sure he was doing what he needed to, and I have a feeling that he and Lita are going to go on this baby journey together, which could be entertaining if decidedly a bit far-fetched since pretty much everything involving Mick is. I wondered whether Gary losing his glasses was a long-term thing and if actor Adam Tsekhman was leaving the show, but naturally it’s just another example of Gary being Gary, or in this case, being his alien self.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Round Two: The End

The End: Season 1, Episode 2 “Toxic Shock Syndrome” (B+)

This was a strong follow-up to the first episode that very much intrigued me, and I’m excited to follow the trajectories of all of these characters. Edie may have actually experienced the least instability over the course of this half-hour even though she’s acclimating to a new place, and the friend she made at least seems to understand that she’s not happy about being there and might need certain comforts to make it feel a little more like home. She also had a car, which proved to be helpful when Persephone had to pull herself out of taxidermy school to go help Oberon deal with his latest crisis. I appreciate the fact that every main character is given the opportunity to be their own self, like Persephone getting her teammates to chant with her after she rallied them to oppose swimming during this particular time. After her confiscation and her patient’s subsequent suicide, Kate is the one facing the most extreme consequences for her actions, more than just being suspended from school or having a door taken off, and the family of the deceased isn’t too happy with her either since the inevitable promised solution did happen, just without anyone there and likely resulting in a great deal of pain. Right now, there’s plenty of tension and it’s all set to explode soon, and I’m eager to see how these characters choose to confide in each other and to interact based on their shared sense of misery stemming from remarkably different sources and experiences.

Pilot Review: The End

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What I’m Watching: Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 1, Episode 7 “Broken” (B+)

This episode had some real darkness to it, but the way questions are being asked and the narrative is being framed, it’s not clear that Kevin is the one who actually got shot. I’m hoping that’s not the case since this could all turn really bad if something else happened and it comes back to Allison, but we’ll have to wait for the season finale, which will be the last of this show we’ll see unless it ends up getting renewed, which hasn’t happened yet. It’s strange to think that Allison has left Worcester and has a family of her own, though theoretically that doesn’t make her much happier than being at home with Kevin does. Nicky getting fired for assaulting the waiter who bumped him was not a good sign, but the biggest issue with all of Allison’s very careful and purposely obvious planning was Kevin finding the fertility information and declaring his deep desire to be a father. Tammy didn’t seem happy to be talking about Patty when she and her partner, played by Kevin Chapman, were interrogating Allison, but for now they seem to be in great shape, especially considering they even got their sitcom moment of their own where Tammy helped Neil prep for a gritty interrogation. We even got to see Sam at home unhappy with his own life, and these expanded perspectives could make for great season two content. For now, this episode left off on a very serious and haunting note, with Kevin haplessly grabbing the gun he found in the trash and heading down to confront an intruder who’s almost certainly much more prepared for what’s about to happen than he is.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Round Two: Schmigadoon

Schmigadoon: Season 1, Episode 2 “Lovers’ Spat” (B+)

I very much enjoyed this second installment, and I like that there’s a good amount of time spent on the reality of this situation and its inescapability, which of course means very different things to our two protagonists. Melissa picked up quickly on the fact that Josh didn’t think what they had was true love, and he handled every part of that very poorly. Finally getting into the spirit of the town and suiting up to go to the auction because Betsy had indicated her interest was not a good look, though Melissa didn’t respond too well either, drinking a lot of the punch meant only for gentlemen and then getting up there awkwardly to auction herself off. I like that she embraced the chance to get her own musical number with Aaron Tveit’s impossibly charming Danny, while Josh found himself in an intimate situation with Betsy just as he was growing more and more concerned about how young she was, which was made even more problematic by the arrival of her father with a shotgun pointed right at him. I’m thrilled that Alan Cumming is getting such good material on this show, and his mayor fully missed the point Melissa was making when she asked him outright if he was gay. I’m not sure there’s actually some magic recipe for how things might change if both Melissa and Josh find happiness or true love in Schmigadoon, but I’m loving seeing how they both approach their truly bizarre state in very different ways.

Pilot Review: Schmigadoon

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What I’m Watching: Intelligence

Intelligence: Season 2, Episode 5 (B-)

This episode wasn’t as strong in my mind as the one before it, charting a similarly absurd course and not delivering nearly as many laughs. Mary’s cover as a triple agent being blown was great for the setup of Joseph asking how many times, but otherwise it just meant Jerry fretting about how he was going to be handed over in exchange for her mother. I have to imagine such a thing isn’t typical counterintelligence practice, mainly because what’s in Jerry’s head poses a far greater risk to the world should it be used for evil than anything Mary’s mum might share, but I also think Christine enjoyed the opportunity to make Jerry sweat by thinking that he was going to be swiftly tortured and potentially killed. I was proud of Joseph for not allowing Jerry to turn the tables and try torturing him first since that kind of thing typically happens, but it didn’t end up doing much anyway since Mary was all too aware of where her mother might be and Jerry happened to have a combat drone he had borrowed from a thirteen-year-old rabbi friend. Mary’s mother got saved and will live another day to torment her, Jerry earned praise from Rupert for his hapless meddling, and Joseph got fired, which was a sad and serious outcome of all this that will hopefully be rectified in the finale. Though it was very over-the-top, I enjoyed Joseph’s direct parroting of Jerry’s instructions that led to much confusion, as well as Jerry earlier explaining that he sometimes forgets how shot he was.

Monday, July 19, 2021

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 7 “Let's Take This Show on the Road” (B+)

I appreciate the fact that this show is devoted to strong storytelling for all of its characters, not just Sheila, and that it was on full display in this episode. Danny really is a complex personality, one who is devoted more than anything else to his vision and who doesn’t always see the consequences of his actions, like getting high since he thinks it makes him focus better as a driver and not seeing how he treats his wife pretty poorly. He wasn’t happy being dragged to a fundraiser out of town, and it wasn’t even that they didn’t give him the promised showcase to be able to solicit funds that got him up in arms, but rather hearing what his old college pal was saying and how it betrayed all the values he stood for and wanted to make sure remained true. I’m a big fan of Mary Holland, last seen as the awkward sister in “Happiest Season,” and Al Madrigal has appeared in a number of shows including “I’m Dying Up Here” and “About a Boy.” I am excited to see what Sheila’s family is like, though I can only imagine what their role was in shaping her inner voice and making her constantly doubt her ability to do anything. I’m intrigued by the continued focus on Breem and how he’s feeling anxious about what he perceives as Danny’s increased chances in the race. I did not expect Greta to watch Ernie’s tape and find it sexually satisfying, and I’m nervous about what she’s thinking about doing and how it may have unintended consequences for more than just her marriage.

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill

Why Women Kill: Season 2, Episode 8 “Murder, My Sweet” (B+)

It would probably behoove Alma to be honest with her husband since every time she lies to him and manipulates him, he grows more resentful and more remorseful, which may lead to him confessing to a crime no one suspects him of committing. All of this has transformed Alma into someone she would never have wanted to be but she can’t see that, and I did enjoy the comical nature of some of her suggestions, like kidnapping Isabel, which were considerably more entertaining than her bold and deadly move to inject Isabel in the motel room when she said she wasn’t giving them the negative. Bertram did do a good job of writing a suicide note and leaving her to be found on the bed by Vern having confessed to killing Carlo, and it tracks with all of the memories Rita had of her cousin’s gradually-built resentment of her. What will become of Scooter is a mystery since I think even he isn’t sure of whether he’d rather be with Rita or Catherine, and Otto’s plan to oust him didn’t work as he had intended. The real open thread right now is the one caused by Alma and Bertram’s lying, prompting Dee to think that her parents killed Mrs. Yost and to incriminate herself in the return of the items stolen from her home. If she and Vern do elope, she may not be around to answer the police’s questions, but her parents will certainly have plenty to say, a tiny bit of which may even be true.

Pilot Review: American Horror Stories

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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Pilot Review: Dr. Death

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Pilot Review: The North Water

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What I’m Watching: Loki (Season Finale)

Loki: Season 1, Episode 6 “For All Time. Always.” (B+)

I’m relieved to title this review that of a season finale and not a series finale, and that’s the only thing I knew going into this episode. As soon as I saw that the show had officially been renewed just before I had the chance to watch it, I made sure to steer clear of any possible spoilers to give myself the best possible viewing experience. This episode felt completely different from the one before it and from the rest of the series, but, as always, it’s so incredibly grounded in the moment. Opening with that animated clock was weird and unnerving, especially after the absence of the traditional chime music and the present of so many familiar lines of dialogue from other characters we haven’t seen in this show. I was absolutely thrilled to see that Jonathon Majors, who is now an Emmy nominee for a wholly different performance in “Lovecraft Country,” was playing He Who Remains, a seemingly all-powerful being who eagerly showed Loki and Sylvie transcripts of their conversations and was generally casual and complimentary when they weren’t trying to kill him. Pairing that with Mobius making his triumphant return to the TVA to confront Ravonna and Hunter B-15 offering undeniable proof that all of the TVA employees were actually variants was very interesting, not that it made what was going on all that much clearer. Loki defending He Who Remains by claiming that a liar knows when another liar is telling the truth resulted in an eye-popping duel and then a passionate kiss before Sylvie sent him back to the TVA. His panicked ramblings about a dangerous variant were nothing compared to the shock of Mobius turning around to ask him who he was, indicating that plenty has changed since Loki left, including that He Who Remains now has his face on a statue that, according to my limited Interest research to avoid going down endless black holes, may be Kang the Conqueror. I don’t know what to make of all of it but I think we’ll likely see more of this in “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” before we get around to a second season of this show anytime soon, but I’m very excited. This show has been riveting and I’m all for whatever comes next. It’s just a delight to know that we’ll see these fantastic characters again.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Tom Hiddleston

Saturday, July 17, 2021

What I’m Watching: Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail (Season Premiere)

Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail: Season 3, Episode 1 “Hittin’ the Trail” (B+)

I’ve missed this show, and I honestly had no idea it was coming back for a third season until I see a billboard for it while driving around LA. I like that, once again, there’s a potential romance in store for Daniel Radcliffe and Geraldine Viswanathan’s characters, though the stakes are different in that he’s an old-fashioned reverend and she’s a typically ahead-of-her-time woman surrounded by unbelievably dumb men, including a husband played by Jon Bass, who in season two portrayed her brother. I’m also so happy to see Karan Soni as the bounty hunter who was easily tricked into having his photo taken so that they could free Benny the Teen, especially since he and Viswanathan anchored a wonderful comedy that played at Tribeca called “7 Days” that I would highly recommend. As usual, Buscemi is perfectly cast, and I like that he’s back to the more prominent kind of role that he had in season one, and that it comes with attitude and personality, plus no remorse for having killed many men, women, and children, most of whom didn’t deserve to die, much to Ezekiel’s chagrin. I enjoyed the minimal parody of the current pandemic with Ezekiel’s acknowledgment that no one was actually staying six feet apart even with cholera rampant and his unfortunate use of the phrase “Put your hands up where the sun don’t shine.” I like that this season will be on the move and that they can constantly encounter new places and scenarios, and I’m excited to see what humor lies ahead.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 12 “Through the Valley of Death” (B)

If there’s one sentence that always means the opposite of what’s said it’s “they’re behind bars and are never going to hurt anyone again.” That’s definitely not the case for Morgan Edge, a man who was nearly able to corrupt the entirely heroic Superman and turn him against humankind, and who surely won’t have trouble weakening the defenses of those holding him prisoner in order to make his escape and get his revenge. This episode was much more about Clark’s family having faith in him, and a man who dedicated his life to stopping the alien who had ruined his home world having a change of heart and realizing that it was possible to break through to him. That end result wasn’t much of a surprise, and Clark also tried his hardest to resist his indoctrination by flying away and immediately calling out to Jordan because he knew he might be able to hear him. It was good to see a familiar face in John Diggle, who also just showed up on “The Flash” and is enjoying an impressive spate of TV appearances given the fact that “Arrow” is no longer on the air. Being ostracized from everyone in town is proving to be a good thing for Kyle’s relationship with his family, and though beating himself up won’t do much good, it’s helpful that he at least recognizes the harm he caused and wants to do something to atone for it, which should make a good if unlikely ally for Lois in whatever cause she takes up next.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 17 “Heart of the Matter – Part 1” (B-)

This feels like a strange place to reach the end of the season, but nothing about this season has felt all that much like it’s headed in any particular finite direction. Cisco’s return felt especially random since he was supposed to have left the show, and for him to come back so soon just wasn’t necessary with characters from other shows like Diggle on hand to show up. I’d much rather focus on the chain of events that got us to where Nora and Bart are at the moment, so gleefully teaming up and having a blast despite the evident tragedy of Bart having watched his uncle be killed in front of him by Godspeed. I think I side with Barry on this, that watching one person he loved die isn’t the same as the deliberate targeting of his entire life and legacy by Thawne, even if Bart did feel particularly connected to his uncle. It was good to see Jay Garrick again, not that he was in particularly great shape as his attempted use of his speed resulted in immediate apprehension by the Godspeeds. I do think that there is a degree of fostering the villain by attempting to prevent them from existing in the first place, though the fact that Godspeed was waiting for Barry inside his mind as soon as he entered suggests that August Heart may not actually be in charge of much since he’s been taking over by something else. I hope the finale is satisfying, but I’m not really sure what to expect.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Pilot Review: Eden

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What I’m Watching: Black Monday

Black Monday: Season 3, Episode 7 “Four!” (B)

This episode at least felt a bit more reined-in than the recent spate of absurdity we’ve seen, which isn’t to suggest that this installment wasn’t full of that too. We had two guest stars who were Emmy-nominated in the 1980s, Bronson Pinchot from “Perfect Strangers” and Julia Duffy from “Newhart,” playing the couple that could have been very influential with helping the company’s IPO, were it not for the enormous buffet of drugs prepared and the apparent medical incident that felled the sober one of the pair once she saw what her husband was doing with the prostitutes that were most definitely not models. Keith going back and forth to the club as he was trying to show Mike that he had changed didn’t work out well on either side, and Tiff made things infinitely worse when she showed up and said the wrong thing. After Dawn mocked Mo’s attitude by emphasizing that they were going to the Grammys not the Grandmas and Yassir needed to clarify whether Dawn wanted him to reach out to the managers of the actual raisins or their voices, that team actually had a pretty decent time out in LA. While Mo was typically petty at first and then had to physically removed by security while trying to pose as a member of the band, he was surprisingly selfless when he told Dawn that he would absolutely let her and Nomi out of their contracts so that they could work with true management that could take them to new heights. I’m not sure if there’s still a game there, but it certainly felt like a new Mo.

Pilot Review: Professor T

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Pilot Review: Wellington Paranormal

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Pilot Review: The White Lotus

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: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 6, Episode 9 “This Is Gus” (B)

I’ll admit, I never quite understand the instability of the timeline and what it is that prevents it from always being a serious problem that the legends continue to mess up. But it does make for entertaining television when characters change in front of our eyes, like the established stoner slacker Behrad suddenly becoming a buttoned-up, suit-wearing operator set on derailing everything the other legends were all trying to do. It wasn’t much of a stretch to believe that he was heavily influenced by a sitcom called Bud Stuy that gave him a strong Muslim role model and that it was so integral to his identity that, without it, he became someone entirely different. I enjoyed Astra’s readiness to conjure up coffee and chicken while posing as labor relations, and it’s interesting to see that she was into the other version of Behrad enough to leave a residual attraction to the real thing behind. Sara recommending everything bagels over bananas to a fellow alien was also entertaining, as was Nate getting the guest role that Zari thought she had to be perfect for only to discover she wasn’t what they wanted at all. Zari letting the other Zari out of the totem was an interesting development, one that also makes little sense to me but should be fun to watch. Mick fighting out that Lita is pregnant did seem likely to lead to him killing the father, but instead he got sentimental and now has a slightly more comical situation to deal with: he’s pregnant too. I remember an early “Star Trek: Enterprise” plotline about a man being pregnant, and I have a feeling it’s going to be played more for laughs here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

What I’m Watching: Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Grand Victorian” (B+)

It was strange to see Kevin in a setting outside of the house, one in which his absence didn’t completely throw off the color of the room but definitely changed the attitude. Allison looking forward to spending Kevin’s birthday dinner without her because he always sneaks off to play games with Neil and Pete said more than enough about the state of their marriage, but the small-town nature of this show’s ensemble made everything dangerously close at the restaurant in this episode. Running into Sam and his wife and being forced to drink with them was particularly awkward, and Kevin was not kind or pleasant when he finally showed up after running back and forth and eating his weight in meat. I don’t know who Sean Avery is but certainly got enough context clues, and I think the Mighty Moo battle was more of an embarrassment than anything else for Allison, who now will have to contend with most of law enforcement mourning her dead husband’s loss if he gets killed according to the existing plan. There’s one cop who isn’t too fond of Allison, and that’s Detective Ridgeway, who isn’t being shy about her romantic feelings for Patty, who seems to be reciprocating them partially to keep herself out of the line of suspicion and partly because someone is actually looking at and caring about her for the first time in a while. I very much appreciated the ending of this episode and the way in which Allison finally reached the limit of being constantly told to shut up and told Nick how it was going to be. Though Sam thinks it happens all the time, it’s good to see her in charge.

What I’m Watching: Intelligence

Intelligence: Season 2, Episode 4 (B+)

The plot of this episode wasn’t all that fantastic, but it did have me laughing quite a bit. Opening with Uma passively-aggressively dumping all of Christine’s trash all over the floor was about the only callback we got to the previous episode, but I did enjoy seeing that. It wasn’t too surprising to know that Joseph spent the whole week looking for instances of the word “is” rather than just IS the terrorist organization, and I love that Evelyn got appointed the fire marshal even though she didn’t apply for the role but just as a way for Christine to keep her active. Tuva bluntly defining that as incest rather than nepotism had me laughing too. Hilary got off to an awkward start by making Jerry uncomfortable and quite clearly harassing him, and there was so much about her session and her approach that was absolutely wrong, namely asking for reasons people might make fun of Joseph and then forcing people to choose who they would save first. It was hilarious that Christine wanted to go out of her way not to save Evelyn, something that actually got her usually uncaring daughter upset, though not as much as Christine’s admission that if she wanted Evelyn killed she would just do it in her sleep. The concept of saving people in alphabetical order was fantastically absurd, and I also loved the conversation about the (un)surprisingly low number of African-Americans working there. Jerry pretending it was all planned and then grabbing Hilary’s breasts was horribly uncomfortable, but she didn’t stop messing with him from there when she expressed her eagerness to see him at the training he now needed to attend.

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 6 “Let’s Get It on Tape” (B+)

There are so many opportunities for Danny to show Sheila that he’s actually paying attention to her, and he comes through on so few of them. She’s rightly watching them carefully and typically expecting the worst, but when she thought that he was going to step in and defend her when Jerry was talking down to her, he utterly failed. She’s capable of much more than he is, as evidenced by the ease with which she got Breem to give her a space, one that she’s going to use for her own purposes rather than to help her husband. Telling him that she doesn’t think about him at all was particularly harsh and had him not knowing how to respond. She also forcefully called Jerry out when he wouldn’t stop rubbing Simone’s shoulders, but he’s too clueless to realize what an unwanted presence he actually is. Fortunately, Tyler is working out as a filmmaker for both campaigns, and, even if they didn’t give Sheila much of the credit, he has exactly the stoner vibe they need mixed with an enthusiasm for the camera. The aerobics videos also seem to be going well, but she’s digging herself into a deep, deep hole financially. Sheila did a masterful job selling her tape to everyone at Greta’s party but lost a friend in the process, and I’m not sure exactly what giving her Ernie’s tape back is going to accomplish since she could have utilized it for leverage with him but has now given up on that option.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Emmy Nominees: Best Comedy Series

My predictions: 6/8, missing “Cobra Kai” and “Emily in Paris”

I’m sad that there was no room for “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” but instead space for two series whose inclusions were far from guaranteed and which barely registered anywhere else - Cobra Kai and Emily in Paris - whose pilots I liked well enough but haven’t seen beyond that. I suppose a further immersion might clarify their quality. Black-ish is back after two years ago with five bids, while The Kominsky Method doubled its nomination count to six for its final season. Sophomore series Pen15 only managed three nominations, and that’s another show I’m going to have start watching. Hot freshmen The Flight Attendant and Hacks scored nine and fifteen nominations, respectively, while Ted Lasso bested everything else with a whopping twenty bids. I don’t think there’s much chance of it losing, especially with its second season premiering next week.

Who should win? I only regularly watch half of these shows. Of them, I’d choose “Ted Lasso” or “Hacks.”
Who will win? This is going to Ted Lasso.