Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Round Two: Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets: Season 1, Episode 2 “F Sharp” (B)

Part of the appeal of this show, I understand, is to slowly discover the horrors that occurred on that island as the characters come to grips with them in the present, which can make for a mildly frustrating viewing experience since there’s so much information and so many details currently missing. The scene where everyone confessed secrets that they believe could have crashed the plane was probably the most engaging, but we do know that there’s plenty more to the story and that things got a lot worse before they got better. Misty sprang into action when she needed to violently amputate the coach’s smashed leg, apparently due to her successful completion of the Red Cross babysitter class twice, and she exacted the same quick thinking and vicious destruction on the black box when she found it, seemingly because she’s respected as highly capable in this new and dark environment. Her adult demeanor is certainly interesting, and she didn’t even flinch when Natalie was waiting in her home with a gun ready to shoot her. I’m intrigued to see where their road trip takes them and which one of the survivors is sending the postcards. Shauna and Jeff’s efforts to spice up their marriage are not going well thanks to the painful specificity of their assigned role play, and they’re both more invested in their potential extramarital affairs. Shauna killing that rabbit was an intense and unexpected moment, indicative of all the pent-up rage she has that’s about to boil over and make this show even more interesting.

What I’m Watching: Succession

Succession: Season 3, Episode 6 “What It Takes” (B+)

In the middle of everything that’s going on, this episode felt like a fever dream, one that literally found the Roy family gathering together to discuss and pick the next president of the United States. To think that this is how it happens in real life is pretty frightening, and that’s part of the idea here, best expressed through Shiv’s inability to have her important perspective taken seriously. Alleging that her opinion should count twice as much as Roman’s wasn’t her best argument even if it’s probably true, and the ability of everyone else to simply ignore her very valid concerns about the fascist tendencies of their ultimate choice was extremely disturbing. Being forced to stand in a photograph expressing support for him was the last straw, but, like so many in real life, she wasn’t able to make any other choice in that moment. There was a solid cast of contenders playing the possible candidates, including Reed Birney, who I just interviewed recently, as another hapless vice-president, Stephen Root as Ron Petkus, and Yul Vasquez as Rick Salgado. I’m intrigued by the casting of Justin Kirk, a typically comic figure from “Weeds” who has made mildly dramatic efforts recently in “APB” and “Perry Mason,” as Jeryd Mencken, the candidate who refers to Hitler by his initial and thinks that it’s sometimes okay to invoke him as a role model. The notion that Tom’s obsession with going to jail is properly founded is unsettling, though his research continues to be light-hearted and absurd, and I have a feeling that he’s ultimately going to switch sides and take Kendall up on his offer for a way out of this.

What I’m Watching: Dexter: New Blood

Dexter: New Blood: Season 9, Episode 3 “Smoke Signals” (B+)

Say what you will about the necessity of this show, but it manages to get some great talent involved. I was immediately intrigued to see Molly Park show up as an alleged volunteer activist, and her later-revealed identity as a true crime podcaster makes her even more interesting. I first saw Jamie Chung in her role as Blink on “The Gifted,” and she’s since made memorable appearances on “Lovecraft Country” and “Mr. Corman.” It’s clear that Harrison has inherited a number of Dexter’s tendencies, putting his hands on the throat of one of the boys he saw tormenting and catfishing Ethan, and hopefully, like his father, he wants to help exact justice in a better way, keeping careful watch on Ethan’s violent inclinations and taking care of the bullies himself. There is absolutely something suspicious to his high scores and his response to being accused of cheating, but maybe it is superintelligence, which he’ll surely use to questionably noble aims. Dexter is hallucinating an increasingly violent Deb, who constantly threatens him and imagines using a woodchipper outside of the school, and that definitely offers a more severe image of what Dexter is doing than Harry’s careful, sophisticated guidance. Dexter didn’t end up being identifiable in the video footage of Matt shooting the deer, but now he’s about to give Kurt a ride home, very puzzled about why he would lie and say that Matt called him when he knows him to be dead. Edward Olsen’s roadside run-in with Audrey was a tense and memorable scene, and I still want to know more about who Iris was and what happened that has so affected everyone who knew her.

What I’m Watching: The Great

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

It’s really fascinating watching how Catherine is trying to implement change and relying on her advisers for different things while not necessarily cluing them in to all of her plans. Velementov and Orlo both understand how the establishment works and what must be done, but they also didn’t inform Catherine of everything, like their stabbing of one noble they knew would never work with their new regime. Archie’s role was particularly interesting since the patriarch held a compelling sway over even the unruliest of nobles who were disrespectful enough of Catherine to share his true feelings on her and then urinate in the room. Catherine managed to make it to the coronation in the dress she wanted to wear with Peter not having a speaking role and even to announce a few sweeping changes, like freedom of religion in the country. There are so many elements plotting and trying to figure out how to cope in this new world, with Elizabeth actually offering the best advice and ignoring Archie’s suggestion that they kill Catherine and she be crowned instead. I think I’m most excited to see how characters like Grigor and Georgina are adapting to their new reality, firmly on Peter’s team but not content to see how it feels to be relegated to second-class citizenry. Marial is adjusting quite nicely to being back on top, enjoying the luxuries of free movement and fine fruits, content even to indulge Velementov because it fed her self-esteem. Catherine’s patience is wearing thin but she’s accomplishing things remarkably nonetheless.

Monday, November 29, 2021

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

The Great: Season 2, Episode 1 “Heads It’s Me” (B+)

I’m so happy that this show is back, and this was a fantastic season opener. I remember watching the season finale having just heard that the show had been renewed, and what a wonderful decision that was. I wasn’t sure if this whole season would be them at war, and I like that a treaty has now been signed but Peter apparently has no intention of honoring it while Catherine will surely want to kill Peter more than ever. It’s good to see that Catherine is still a reasonable leader, eager to lecture kids about why they shouldn’t play soccer with a dead man’s head and urging a smart plan rather than Orlo’s bloodlust. Peter’s attitude was not at all surprising, refusing to assess the situation or admit that he was trapped, even ordering that his adviser be “searched for balls” when he expressed anything but the utmost confidence. While Peter was prepared to eat a rat after debating the various culinary options, Catherine knew exactly how to get to him by preparing a delicious-smelling pig just over the water. I’m particularly intrigued by the way supporting characters like Grigor and Georgina, who need Peter to be present in their relationship and have no desire to die if he does in fact end up being killed. Marial’s unwillingness to even acknowledge any wrongdoing on her part after simply switching sides did seem to impress Catherine, who has less to worry about with traitors in her midst than with the duplicitous nature of her husband, who wants twenty minutes a day with her and her son and also plenty of sex with his very disgusted and uninterested wife. Casually offering up Leo’s head, which he had mummified as an apparent gift for her, cements his extremely twisted misunderstanding of her needs. That final scene with her look as everyone was chanting “Empress Catherine, huzzah!” was formidable.

What I’m Watching: The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Foundation” (B+)

It’s incredible to see just how disconnected Ike is from reality, so intensely focused on different moments yet not processing them the way others are. He didn’t care that his wife was not happy about him filming the birth, where he proudly declared that it was a boy only to find out that he had mistaken the umbilical cord for a penis. He wasn’t paying enough attention to cancel a lavish deli catering delivery for a bris that wasn’t going to happen, and it wasn’t because he was sleep-deprived since, despite his empty offers to do what he could, he’s nowhere near as invested in being a parent as he is in bleeding Marty dry of any of his “assets.” Lowering his financial contribution to the foundation and offering to buy shots for everyone around him at the open bar were the clearest signs that he’s trying to be as minimally responsible as possible while controlling everything. Upselling the $1000 per plate to a $6000 savings for the whole table should have been appalling yet seemed perfectly in line with what he’s been consistently doing, while he can’t even be bothered to shell out money for a nurse for his babies since he doesn’t believe his wife needs the help. The $20,000 bid for the baseball was his most egregious gamble yet, and the supposed heart attack he saved Marty from was entirely of his own doing. The saddest part is that Marty met a kindred spirit who would have been good for him in Hannah, but sensing a threat to his omnipotence, Ike brought up with her for him, something that he may never know but he’ll surely be furious to find out if he can ever bring himself to see what Ike is actually doing to him.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 3, Episode 5 “Sang from the Heart, Sire” (B+)

The idea of everyone gathering together for a family sing-along to distract from the problems of the world and of the moment is a very familiar and relatable concept that has persisted throughout history, and the specific circumstances of this event are merely what make it applicable to this situation. After Mrs. Dickinson was horrified that the quilt she donated was having its value determined by bidders, she and Edward noticed how much they were being shunned in public, which turned out to be thanks to Edward’s letter expressing a degree of sympathy for the Confederacy. Having a sing-along was a great idea since it rallied not only Edward’s spirit but also Sue’s after she was completely exhausted and not remotely in the mood to even respond to Austin’s repeated attempts to spend time with the baby. Things went well for a while but then quickly devolved, and Austin’s vow to leave his father’s firm to become a divorce attorney, beginning with his own divorce from Sue, was harsh but didn’t bother her since she figured that he would forget he had even said it by the time he was sober again. Sue giving Emily notes on her poem didn’t sit well, but her discovering that Emily had been sending the very personal poems to Colonel Higginson was the most painful moment, one in which Sue likened Emily to Austin, which is the cruelest comment she could have made. Lavinia’s vow of silence was rather typical, a supposed gesture of support that was more about her introspection, and Henry’s time spent with the unrecognized regiment is a better serious, if still peculiar and distinctively stylized, focus on the actual war that’s going on in this show’s universe.

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

The Morning Show: Season 2, Episode 10 “Fever” (B)

This was definitely a dramatic episode, one that tried to come close to the impact of Alex and Bradley going on live television to take down the toxic culture at their network in the previous finale. But even though the sexual harassment and assault storyline in season one was also invented, there was something that felt less genuine about Alex getting COVID and then being featured in her own lengthy, truth-laced rant on camera about how she was coping with it. What spoke to me more was the way in which the real-world consequences for normal people were explored, like Daniel quitting and citing the realities of him being a black man sleeping in his car while he was driving out to LA to get his grandfather. Cybil being the only one to sit masked in a meeting about postponing the launch, which Cory had to wait on but finally decided to do, was another solid but subtle example, as was Cory putting glass up around his desk after he and Stella looked at each other and realized that maybe they shouldn’t be sitting quite so close together. Cory confessing his love for Bradley wasn’t the redemption I thought we might get from the man who nearly blew up her newfound same-sex relationship, and she seemed too focused on finding her brother, which she did thanks to Alex’s encouragement of her using social media, to truly process it. I’m not sure what to make of Paola showing Cory the video of Mitch, and whether that fully closes Mitch’s storyline or threatens to open it again in a potential season three. I do like these characters and did find this show mostly compelling this season despite a few questionable points, and I would certainly watch more of it if a season three was commissioned.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Reese Witherspoon

Sunday, November 28, 2021

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 6 “Heart-Shaped Charm” (C+)

It’s very possible that this show has too many characters. At first, it was all about Rick and Ronald, the kidnapped girls, and the two private investigators searching for them, but now the focus has theoretically shifted to Jenny and Cassie, with numerous subplots going on that always seem to be taking up the majority of time in each episode. Travis’ efforts to out them as cops to remain undercover didn’t go so well for him since he was followed to his later reunion with Jenny, but he got abducted for almost the entire episode by Ren and Donno, who had absolutely no idea of who he really is. Cassie approached Max when she realized there might be a connection between her and what she’s been looking into this whole time, and it would be helpful if the kids thought to trust her since she could absolutely help them avoid what’s likely to be a violent and unpleasant fate. Mark’s decision to visit Wolf’s farm under false pretenses didn’t go too well, and the way in which Wolf commanded the dog to obey him and saw through Mark’s deception was unnerving. Sticking around to do some digging is not going to end well for him, and it’s also not like we want Ronald or Scarlet to be rescued since they’re both terrible, dangerous people. Things are about to be shaken up by Jag’s impending arrival, though I think that Ren is ultimately going to win out in the battle of the cartel siblings.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 6 “A Dishwasher, a Fire and a Remote Control” (B)

I recognized actor D.B. Sweeney as the hapless chef Bert right away, and I was trying to figure out where I know him from since I hadn’t remembered seeing him for a long time. It turns out it was probably “Life as We Know It” and “Jericho” back between 2004 and 2006, which was a formative time for me in terms of my TV watching during high school. This was a lackluster part not on the same level as his previous roles, but he was still having fun talking about his vegetable soup with steak and other very problematic ideas for a kitchen that needed tremendous improvement. This was obviously much more about Gina than it was about Bert, and how her sunny nature doesn’t make her the best boss since she wants to avoid confrontation with anyone at all costs. Bette bonding with Jerry because they couldn’t sleep was a nice subplot, and I’d be fine if that storyline stays platonic and they just become good friends, especially since it doesn’t seem like Jerry is moving out anytime soon. Peter really shocked Spencer by kissing him, though we know there’s also more going on there with Peter that hopefully Spencer will be sensitive to once it eventually comes to light. Drew not feeling a sense of purpose anymore and putting his house on the market after Maddie didn’t want to travel with him was a huge step, and one that he’s surely going to need to be talked out of by Gina, who will realize that she has to give him some attention or a more permanent role at the facility if she doesn’t want him to spiral completely out of control. I enjoyed seeing Todd Robert Anderson from “You’re the Worst” as Drew’s patient, but I wish he had had more of a role and maybe even shared a scene or two with his costar Kether Donohue, whose Gabby hasn’t exactly been getting great material on this show.

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 7 “College/Pohantoon” (B)

Al going to college is a big deal, but it was never going to be easy, just like so many other adjustments to the American way of doing things. I enjoyed the casting of John Ross Bowie, an actor I feel like I’ve seen in so many projects over the years that it looks like I probably recognize most from “The Big Bang Theory,” as the professor who reacted poorly to Al coming to see him and then was beyond intimidated and subservient to Riley when he showed up to knock some sense into him. Getting Hazel’s input on all this is also always fun, and, after getting the adjustment he hadn’t necessarily earned, Al put his newfound psychology knowledge to use to work on Riley and the effects of his separation from Vanessa that he still hadn’t quite accepted. It was great to see more of Art’s dating life and how he so quickly found out when he wanted to go to a particular restaurant that Lois had previously been married to a big-time football player who, worse than anything else, Art had really liked. Lizzie was probably a bit too eager to rub it in his face and get his reaction on camera, but that does tend to be the way of doing things in this family, mocking rather than comforting, showing a different kind of support than perhaps the traditional loving way parents and children are supposed to be there for one another when things get tough.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

What I’m Watching: Psych 3: This Is Gus

Psych 3: This Is Gus (B-)

For a show that went off the air seven years ago, there have been a lot of follow-up movie specials that I feel like many cancelled series wish they could get off the ground. Maybe it’s just the willingness of this show’s stars to reunite for these one-off movies, and the fact that Peacock is the perfect streaming service to host them, with this one arriving less than a year and a half after number two, which premiered as an offering the same day Peacock first went public to audiences. I enjoyed how the actress who had been hired to play Selene’s sister asked if Shawn and Gus had Peacock, to which they responded it clearly didn’t exist, and I also appreciated the reference to how Rodriguez has “always been there,” a nod to actor James Roday’s decision to start using his birth name again to acknowledge his heritage. It was fun to see Lassie in a limited capacity, repeating the restaurant order instructions rather than the clever breakdown of the case they were supposed to be feeding him, and for Henry and Chief Vick to be featured in small parts too. Juliet’s excitement at being included in Selene and baby things was a blast to watch, and my favorite aspect of this show continues to be Shawn’s fake names for Gus that he occasionally accepts. The premise here was definitely absurd, but watching these guys continues to be entertaining. I’d tune in for a fourth movie and beyond, though I think other series should certainly be ahead in the queue for the TV movie treatment.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 8 “Two Thousand Pounds of Sand, $240” (B)

This episode aired a week before Thanksgiving but is totally seasonally appropriate, presenting a very relatable concept of the next generation taking over hosting duties to mixed results. The rarely-seen matriarch of the Hayworth family, Muriel, has always been a bit out of touch with the way the world works, and she was experience a real sense of hopelessness as she found herself to be increasingly relevant. Not being needed to help make Thanksgiving was particularly bad timing, and leave it to the three hapless siblings to ensure that one dish got ruined enough that they would need her to swoop in and take over. They didn’t plan to screw up the entire dinner but managed to do that, but getting together in Sarah and Denise’s humbler apartment felt more genuine and family-like than having a private chef making Caribbean delicacies and an accompanying musician in Connor’s mansion of a home. I enjoyed the introduction of Denise’s travel influencer sister Jojo with her bringing trash from her car rather than a gift, and Denise’s reaction to her talking about the many things her parents had or hadn’t given her was extremely entertaining, leading up to a sentimental ending about how Jojo actually envies everything Denise has. Sarah trying to drive home the “real tradition” of Thanksgiving being smallpox was very much in line with her eternal efforts to reeducate those around her, something she seems to do especially when she doesn’t expect her audience to be receptive to the information she is putting out into the world.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 7, Episode 6 “Deus Ex Latrina” (B)

Naturally the legends would end up not where they were planning to but instead in 1986 literally hours before Chernobyl, and then they would go ahead and warn people so that one of the most historically significant events didn’t happen at all in the way it was supposed to. I did appreciate the renewed focus on Bishop and how he hunted the legends to get revenge for them abducting him, only to find out that he had been replaced with a robot version of himself so that he could serve out his purpose as a time master with a militant Gideon keeping him in line. Assistant Ava was doing a pretty good job of that before she got jettisoned into the temporal zone, and now Bishop was able to show that he didn’t need dignity and eject out of the Wave Rider on a toilet just in time to land on the legends as they were about to finally use the time machine to escape their confinement. It will be fun to see him join forces with them as he explains what he has learned to be true, and it’s convenient that another perfectly good and functional Wave Rider exists out there for them to eventually retake. The human Gideon’s newfound relationship with Gary is an interesting development, one I would consider positive since it means that Gary isn’t obsessing about Nate’s relationship with Zari, something he’s being awfully public about rather than just discussing directly and openly with her.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

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

The Flash: Season 8, Episode 1 “Armageddon, Part 1” (B)

It’s weird to have this show premiere now, but it hasn’t been that long since I last saw it given that its finale only aired a few months ago in July. I had remembered reading something about a major crossover in this premiere, but I didn’t realize that – fortunately – it’s all confined to this show, which means I don’t have to pick up a number of series I don’t usually watch for just one episode. It’s fun to see Brandon Routh back as Ray, though he seemed a bit cockier than usual, especially in his interactions with Chester and his complete lack of awareness that Barry and Iris weren’t exactly expecting an unannounced visitor. It’s good that he’s there, of course, given the newfound threat against Team Flash, one that seems like it’s going to be infinitely epic in nature. After easily outthinking the poker gang, Barry went up against a far more formidable nemesis in Despero, and I like that he’s choosing to do what he does best, which is to be honest and forthright about his sincere intentions, to show Despero that he could never become the threat that he believes him to be. That concept is similar to what Superman did on “Superman and Lois” with John Henry that ended up working out in an interesting way. I’m curious to see what the next few episodes bring in terms of familiar faces, and how much time we’ll spend on subplots like Allegra fighting to be taken seriously in her new role.

Monday, November 22, 2021

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 5, Episode 4 “Faulty, Okay?” (B+)

I’m not sure there’s anything I enjoy more on this show than Issa being incredibly awkward and just committing to it even when it becomes painfully obvious. Responding to a question Nathan didn’t ask in front of everyone else was one such moment, and things didn’t get much better after that. The earthquake happening at the beach was an interesting moment, and of course that meant that Nathan dropped all the pizzas, resulting in one of those sand-covered slices being rescued from the ground and eaten anyway. I loved that Issa thought for a moment that Resha and Nathan were literally having sex in front of her when he was applying sunscreen for her and then thought that they must be sleeping together in general, something that Molly helped to clarify instantly by bluntly asking it in the car. Issa was quite distracted by the aggressive social media campaign that Crenshawn was leveling against her, but it’s good to see that she was able to be open and honest with Nathan at the end of the episode, indicating, as he echoed, that she didn’t want to be friends with him. Following that moment up with another minor earthquake was a fun way to highlight the instability of everything, both literally and metaphorically. Molly trying to decide between two of Nathan’s friends was an entertaining subplot, and she seems to be in a pretty good space at the moment. Kelli is still hooked on that whole being dead thing, telling anyone who will listen all about it.

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11, Episode 4 “The Watermelon” (B+)

There’s always a long game here, and the introduction of the rabbi that Susie asked Jeff to bring with him to the golf club was a carefully-calculated setup for Larry’s mutually-beneficial relationship with Joe the Klansman. Of course Larry would respect the need to make up for spilling coffee on his white robe, and then ask Susie to sew him a new one as a favor without expecting that she was going to include a personal touch that ended up earning him a beating. Larry almost managed to use Joe to his advantage when he realized that he had cows, but Woody Harrelson refusing to pick up his grape led to the dissolution of that scheme. When I first saw Kaley Cuoco as Heidi the ophthalmologist, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a substantial role, but I’m glad that it turned out to be perfect casting since she got very angry at Larry reporting her dropping to Freddy and took out her rage on her interfering patient. Larry driving after she essentially punched him in the face resulted in a car crash that could have been bad, but instead it was the perfect opportunity to get out of paying for any damages with a new Mary Ferguson. Unfortunately, Larry’s need to affirm Leon’s secret love of watermelon couldn’t have come at a worse time, and now Leon’s going to have to work harder to find yet another Mary Ferguson before those tickets have to finally be used.

What I’m Watching: Succession

Succession: Season 3, Episode 5 “Retired Janitors of Idaho” (B+)

It’s absolutely baffling to see the pure improvisation that those in leadership employed in this episode when they went out in front of the shareholders without any idea what they were going to say. Frank in particular got left out there for what seemed like forever, and he finally roped Gerri into taking over for him, though she didn’t last long before she pushed play on the video. The fact that Kendall was able to just wander out onto the stage and take over after Karl was delivering what amounted to a victory speech was also crazy, and it’s hard to understand what joint success he’s shooting for at this point without being directly excommunicated. Logan being incapacitated and not with it was a huge game-changer, one that left everyone scrambling, and seeing Shiv’s reaction to him mistaking her for Marcia was particularly jarring. Tom knew something was up when Logan thanked him and called him son, and guessing what he would have done in that moment didn’t turn out to be too helpful since he surely wouldn’t have been in a remotely negotiating mood. Shiv did manage to carve out a workable solution with Sandi, but Logan continues to reward her efforts with a complete lack of appreciation. Roman taking the brunt of the president’s fury when he couldn’t get Logan on the phone was entertaining, and he actually stepped up and did pretty well given the circumstances. I like that Greg is now considering suing Greenpeace after his grandfather vindictively disinherited him, a move that Tom encouraged because of its sheer ruthlessness, which isn’t exactly how I would describe anything Greg does.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

What I’m Watching: Dexter: New Blood

Dexter: New Blood: Season 9, Episode 2 “Storm of Fuck” (B+)

I’ve always appreciated the dark humor on this show, and this episode’s title was certainly indicative of that. On a more serious note, having Deb as Dexter’s externalized conscience is infinitely more intense than Harry, not solemnly judgmental but instead vicious and violent, warning him of the dangers of inviting anyone he cares about into his life. Finding out that Hannah died of pancreatic cancer was an unfortunate development, especially because it means that we won’t see Yvonne Strahovski in this revival, though it does mean that Harrison is almost definitely there to stay. He acted quickly to fit in, introducing himself to a startled Angela as Jim’s son, and he’s getting along well with Audrey, whose political protest shirts don’t seem to make her that many peer friends. He apparently idealizes Dexter since he thinks the only bad thing he ever did was leave him, and his presence was ultimately a positive catalyst for Angela to open up on a level she hasn’t previously with him about secrets from her past. There’s evidently someone present nearby who will soon be on Dexter’s radar, a fitting target for him given the sadistic message written on the camera declaring that the captive was already dead. I couldn’t be more excited about the casting of Clancy Brown, an excellent actor from “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Carnivale,” as Kurt Caldwell, a man who is so ingrained in the community that he can’t separate his influence from it, which surely isn’t entirely a good thing. Fredric Lehne’s Edward Olsen is also a more complicated magnate, one who understands what people think of him and doesn’t have much patience for those who can’t appreciate the necessity of what he does.

Pilot Review: Yellowjackets

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: Mayor of Kingstown

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

Take Three: The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Treatment” (B+)

It’s fascinating to watch how Ike is able to subtly suggest things to Marty and then make it seem like it’s an idea he’s not really sure about, making Marty the one to push it since he now believes it to be his own invention. Hearing about how he made a fake alter ego who helps him collect payments was cause enough for concern, but that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Ike was able to get Marty to do in this episode. Connecting him to a Broadway producer who, like Marty, thought that it probably wasn’t a good fit since he didn’t want to be a guinea pig, was his latest big scheme, and Phyllis was right to be concerned about cutting costs with the fireproofing that nearly ended up sending the entire theater up in flames. The bigger issue was that Marty’s invitation for him to come to “industrial psychology” for the staff at his store came with him having to pay for all the sessions that Ike wasn’t able to conduct during that time. Offering him a full-time job is even more problematic, and Phyllis isn’t going to be happy at all with that very concerning development. Ike almost won Phyllis over when he talked to her about her feelings and how no one saw her, but inserting judgment on her behavior was his undoing, and now she has it out for him more than ever. Knowing more about Marty’s finances and treasured possessions is only going to give Ike more influence and power.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Round Two: The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Ceremony” (B+)

This may be the most Jewish show I’ve ever watched, competing with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for the sheer volume of expressions and references tossed around with no explanation. What this episode did that the other hasn’t is to include a heavy amount of Hebrew, and I wouldn’t have imagined I’d ever had the chance to hear Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell chant a Torah portion together. I have to commend Rudd on his pronunciation and delivery, while Ferrell is still pretty impressive, especially considering the fact that he never had a Bar Mitzvah since he’s not Jewish and that Marty is not meant to doing a terrific job. It’s fascinating watching just how enthusiastic Ike gets about everything, and how he managed to throw a huge party for himself where even the videographer didn’t care what Marty had to say when he mistook him for someone other than the Bar Mitzvah boy. Phyllis is making her opinion clear about Ike and his dangerous influence, but that just means that Ike is going to work harder to convince Marty that his sister doesn’t actually care about him even though she’s the one who convinced him to do therapy in the first place. That scene at work with Marty trying to chew Phyllis out for being late and her not taking it all was fantastic to watch – Kathryn Hahn is such a great actress. I am intrigued by the relationship between Ike and his wife Bonnie, played by Casey Wilson from “Black Monday,” and I’m curious to see how she reacts to Ike’s manipulation of Marty and the way in which he’s very unsubtly taking over his life.

Pilot Review: The Shrink Next Door

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

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 2, Episode 4 “This is my letter to the World” (B+)

It’s such a rarity to see Emily happy, and to have an episode end with her smiling and dancing. The casting of Billy Eichner as Walt Whitman was fun, especially since I just finished watching him as Matt Drudge on “American Crime Story: Impeachment.” The way he kept rattling off enthusiastic words was a lot, but that just meant it was perfect casting. He was exactly the right person to get Emily to feel comfortable enough to admit to someone that she cared about Sue, aided by him bringing her to a place with plenty of same-sex couples and everyone being open about who they really are. I’m not sure this serenity will last, especially considering that Sue may not share her new outlook on life. It was great to see Zosia Mamet as Louisa May Alcott again, another example of how one of Emily’s heroes isn’t what she thought. Austin seems to be want to be a father to his son in a way that Sue doesn’t want, and his attempts at participation are going to only further drive a wedge between him and Sue. Maggie massaging Edward and Mrs. Dickinson after they were frantically itching gave her an opportunity to have a bit of fun at their expense, mentioning elves at a time when they were definitely susceptible to absurd stories. Henry’s wartime experience isn’t what he had expected, and I like that this show is putting its own spin on systemic racism and performative action in a time long ago.

What I’m Watching: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 2, Episode 9 “Testimony” (B)

After a strong recovery involving Mitch’s death and the resulting rush for information, this episode was a less comfortable follow-up, one that once again sensationalized some of its storyline to questionable effect. It did take me a moment to realize that Paola being at the memorial meant that she had somehow flown in from Italy in the middle of the worst part of COVID in that country, which we then learned was a result of Alex arranging it. That freedom of travel thanks to means is jarring to think about, especially since, in this case, it meant that Alex had gotten COVID and exposed everyone at the memorial and at the studio. It’s strange to think that this season will end just after this, with only one episode left, though I think that’s very much like real life, which was interrupted with plenty of plans derailed for nearly everyone in the world. Alex being cancelled, whether that’s a permanent status or not, seems quite insignificant in the scope of that. I was so happy to see Bel Powley back as Claire, but her happening to be free during Mitch’s memorial brought a swift end to the possible resumption of that relationship since even being there to pay tribute to him was seen as enough of a slap in the face to Hannah’s memory that Claire won’t likely want to even consider being with him after that. Bradley and Laura seem like they may be headed for happiness after all, but that delivery and Hal’s nature may prohibit that from happening even more than the pandemic.

Friday, November 19, 2021

What I’m Watching: Love Life (Season Finale)

Love Life: Season 2, Episode 10 “Epilogue” (B+)

Who says people can’t have a happy ending? It’s nice to know that both of this show’s existing seasons went out on a positive note, which is especially refreshing given the rollercoaster nature of Darby and Marcus’ love lifes. It was also fun to see Darby again in an appropriately brief context, running into Marcus to offer a bit of commentary about how things do eventually work out. I enjoyed the opening with Ola’s musical play that had Mia giggling like crazy since they were both pretty sure that it was all about Marcus and his apparent sexual deficiency. The denial of that fact by Ola wasn’t all that comforting, and fortunately its effects didn’t linger all that much, instead leading to Mia encouraging Marcus to write a book and him casually proposing. I like that we got a quick fast-forward to a year later when she was pregnant, and that the expected problems, like Marcus not being able to finish his book and the nanny judging him because he always said or did the wrong thing, were troubling but ultimately not insurmountable. Encouraging Mia to quit her job before she threw up in the Uber was supportive, and it was especially sweet that he decided to surprise her with a five-day childless trip to the Bahamas. Ending with the two of them just being together on the plane and having fun reclining in the seats and talking about their futures was endearing. I’d be happy to get to know new characters in a theoretical third season of this show, and it’s been great to spend a bit of time with Marcus and Mia and everyone else.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Jessica Williams as Mia

What I’m Watching: Love Life

Love Life: Season 2, Episode 9 “Marcus Watkins” (B+)

I feel like so many shows about the present moment introduce the pandemic into their plotlines without much warning, and in the same manner that this one did, suggesting that Marcus was very excited about what 2020 might bring and experienced considerable disappointment when that wasn’t the case. His latest relationship was a particularly bad fit for pandemic living, and I could definitely relate to his horror at Anjali pretending that she had sanitized her mat and that she was paying any attention to what things she was touching. Breaking up with her was the right move, though it wasn’t too good for him to be alone when George Floyd was murdered and his company started coming to him to rubber-stamp their message of solidarity to the Black community. His reaction was absolutely understandable, and that scene showcased the uncomfortable way in which many white people have tried and failed to express concern and sympathy, which in this case resulted in Marcus deciding this all just wasn’t worth it and quitting in an emphatic and furious manner. After he wasn’t receptive to Mia’s phone call when she reached out to him, attending his sister’s wedding and seeing her genuine happiness was a positive catalyst to encourage him to reach back out to her and for them to reconnect in such a warm and wonderful way. It looks like they may actually make it, though there’s still one whole episode left which may involve some more obstacles before their storylines are closed.

What I’m Watching: Love Life

Love Life: Season 2, Episode 8 “Yogi and Kian” (B+)

It was probably for the best that Marcus didn’t have any contact with Mia in the aftermath of their breakup last episode aside from a rambling voicemail, but he did see another ex in a surprising context. Kian was understandably nervous to reveal that he was dating Emily, but Marcus’ expressed frustration with the fact that Kian might have always had a crush on her wasn’t very well-founded given that he was the one that actively broke up that relationship by building an emotional connection with someone else. The two of them seeing each other when she came to save them and pick them up was an interesting and unexpectedly comfortable moment, which also makes sense given that the strong feelings he has are for another woman. Marcus’ initial reaction was far more serene to the news about Kian and Emily, but he followed that up with a major trip with all the chocolate mushrooms that he ate. Throwing his bike in the lake was just the start of a wild ride, which included panic that he was dying and that no one would find him because he looked like a tree. That was certainly an improvement over the opening scene at his workplace where he got a lot of people very mad at him for the inappropriate and extremely impolite comments he made when he wasn’t in the mood for the active shooter training content that he was being forced to endure along with everyone else in the office.

What I’m Watching: Love Life

Love Life: Season 2, Episode 7 “Suzanné Hayward and Leon Hines” (B+)

I had suggested that there might be other romantic possibilities for Marcus or Mia, and while that was true to a degree, this episode’s title was about another couple, one whose relationship narrative was very formative for how Mia views romance. I liked the casting of Kimberly Elise and Blair Underwood as her separated parents, whose decision to start seeing each other again when Mia was an adult had her confused and irritated. Traveling home to pack up all the things that her mom didn’t want to keep because she was going to lose the house was an activity that she probably would have been better off doing with Marcus as he had offered, because her conflicting emotions resulted in her opting to kiss her Task Rabbit Akil even after she initially told him that she had a boyfriend. The guilt that ate away at her was the undoing of a relationship that was otherwise going quite well, but there was no coming back from the aftermath of that surprise party. Expressing that, if he had known her at all, he would never have thrown it was bad enough, but shouting “don’t propose” was far too reminiscent of “We Broke Up,” a great movie with William Jackson Harper in a similar role. Ending the relationship because of this was a dramatic move, and now it makes sense that there are three episodes left. Though she didn’t have much to do, it was fun to see Darby again and to remember that these worlds are connected.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 5 “Mother Nurture” (C+)

For how bad the writing is on this show, there’s quite a lot going on and a number of plotlines that are remotely interesting even if they’re not terribly convincing. Harvey got himself killed by someone else when the kids tried to make their escape, but now they’re worried that he’s going to come after them next. The idea to give the money back to Ren isn’t a bad one in some respects, but there’s also no way that she’s going to just let them go when they’re aware of who she is. That said, she, unlike Donno, was open to Tonya’s suggestion that she work for them in Sam’s place. Jenny is too busy not following police protocol to be on top of every aspect of this case, and now she and Cassie are in a very problematic position with Travis, who is either doing a great job of maintaining his cover or has actually opted to switch over to the wrong side of the law. Wolf presents himself as a good man too, but he appears to have a rather fatal plan for Ronald if he doesn’t surrender himself to the authorities when he’s done with him. It looks like Jerrie may be leaving to explore a part of her past by visiting her sick mother, and her father, played by Jeff Kober from “Sons of Anarchy,” expressed a very apologetic front that probably can’t account for all the hurt that he and his wife have caused Jerrie over the course of her life.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 5 “Novocaine, Bond and Bocce” (B)

We’ve seen Jerry in rough shape before when his transplant didn’t work, and now he revealed a condition that made it clear that he was more vulnerable than the other dialysis patients and not really safe to be living on his own. He was naturally resistant to the idea of moving into a retirement community since, though he’s obviously older than fifty-six, he didn’t feel at all ready for that stage of his life. The way that Gina was trying to sell the place wasn’t all that appealing, though she was also experiencing considerable numbness and incomprehensible speech from the effects of the Novocain. Of course she remembered what had happened and thought that them kissing wasn’t a great idea because of their valued friendship, but she also didn’t hear Drew confess his love for her, which would likely change her opinion. I enjoyed Gina and Linda chatting about Drew and commenting on how much they would like to get him to shave his mustache, a future event I imagine might happen soon. Jerry’s immersion into the retirement home community wasn’t the only major development that happened with that crew, as Peter repeating himself was revealed to be something much more dramatic. Seeing his closet with all of the pictures and post-it notes, now with a “she knows” added to Bette’s photo, was indicative of this show has plenty of very serious concepts that it’s ready to tackle in a lighthearted and uplifting way. There will still be petty humor mixed in, namely from Spencer.

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 6 “Veterans Day/Roz-e Sarbaz” (B+)

I appreciated the opening scene of this episode since I’ve done the same thing on birthdays in the past, trying to map out all of the places that are offering freebies and figuring how the best route to get the most food. This was a fitting installment to deal with many of the complicated aspects of celebrating Veteran’s Day, with both Lizzie and Riley grappling with the lingering effects of being at war. We don’t usually see the serious side of Lizzie, who wanted to take advantage of some time alone to go through a box that ended up being much better to do with her father there. Art was in fine form enjoying the procedures of the day that made him feel like he was still doing what he used to do. Riley getting the news about his disability rating came with a lot of baggage, and Al was eager to make him feel okay about it while he struggled to reveal it. Bonding with someone else who had similar reservations about their public perception turned out to be very helpful. My favorite part of this episode, however, was seeing Hazel clearly into a boy and flirting with him, only to see her crush subverted by an interfering Al, who humorously applied his own notions of what a romance should be on the kids. Hazel’s reaction to Al being present and saying embarrassing things was great, for once enabling Al to be the adult and Hazel to the helpless and horrified child.

Pilot Review: Ragdoll

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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol (Season Finale)

Doom Patrol: Season 3, Episode 10 “Amends Patrol” (B+)

While I was watching this episode I was remembering how the first two seasons ended, with the team shrunk down and seemingly dead, respectively. It’s great, therefore, to see this season go out on a completely different note, with them now becoming time travelers with a plan to remember who they are when they get to their next destination and using Cliff’s new robot body as their vessel of transport. That’s certainly an improvement over how things were at the start of the episode, and I’m glad that Madame Rouge is now an official member of the team, thanks largely to Cliff’s ability to get through to her, convincing her that if he could become a good person, she could too. Rouge putting him in the giant robot body was an interesting change, and though the two of them didn’t ultimately fell the Brain, Rita was more than happy to do so when he tried to propose an alliance and she poured scalding water on his exposed noggin instead. Larry wanted to be a willing participant in his next symbiotic experience led to his inevitable merge with the parasite, though they still have some coexisting to sort out. What’s going on with the Underground and Kay is not good, but Jane seems to be in control for the moment and was able to step in to ensure that Cliff didn’t die as he seemed so willing to do. This show continues to be a unique delight, and I’m very much looking forward to season four.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: April Bowlby as Rita and Michelle Gomez as Madame Rouge

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 7, Episode 5 “It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist” (B)

I was beginning to wonder whether the legends were going to be stuck in 1925 all season, or if Spooner, Astra, and Gideon would get left there while the legends were marooned elsewhere after a one-way trip. It looks like that may not be the case, and at least they’ll all be together, but it’s not clear where they’ve ended up and if it’s going to take a whole lot of time to perfect this whole science of time travel thing. I like that Zari was able to use the technology in the Hoover bot to replace what they needed, but the bigger question is how much of history has been fabricated with endless robot replacements, like the Einstein and Hoover that showed up just after the reprogrammed Hoover short-circuited and the real Einstein promptly died of shock. The casting of Matt Ryan as Doctor Gwyn Davies is an interesting choice, though I was never fond of Constantine, and the repeated assertions that he looks just like other cast members is a funny way of acknowledging that it’s the same actor in a new role. I did like when Maisie Richardson-Sellers got to stick around as Charlie after Amaya left, though she at least had a different accent in that case. Ava and Gary disappearing briefly when the timeline changed was a worrisome development, though it only further makes me wonder how much of this show actually makes any sense. The concept of the “lucky rock” was a productive fusion of this show’s balance of superpowers and magic, with Astra’s conjuring of something that didn’t actually work being just the motivation it needed to be for those who believed.

What I’m Watching: American Crime Story: Impeachment (Season Finale)

American Crime Story: Impeachment: Season 3, Episode 10 “The Wilderness” (B)

Watching this final episode, I thought briefly that I might like to see more of this, and that what happened after and in the public forum wasn’t featured quite enough. But then I remembered that this season has been mostly tedious, taking forever to get to the meat of the story and then overstuffing it with invented conversations between Bill and Hillary. What was interesting in this installment was how Paula Jones leveling her accusations against Bill ended up with her posing nude for an adult magazine, and the contrasting of her being photographed with Hillary sitting for portraits as she began her own political career was an intriguing commentary about the way women’s lives are sensationalized in a way that definitely doesn’t happen to men. While Ann Coulter was delighting in how conservative men would react to the excruciating sexual detail in Starr’s report, Susan Carpenter-McMillan expressed a severe disappointment in Monica abandoning those values. The delivery of the report and the crashing of the Internet is a phenomenon of the time, so different from how Robert Mueller’s own recent report was revealed to the public. It’s definitely possible to see how Juanita Broderick’s accusations and the politicization of sexual assault claims have shaped the environment we see today. Ending with Linda being asked about why she did what she did and her doubling down was a fitting way to close out this season, which did have something to offer but wasn’t consistently terrific. I may watch season four, which is supposed to be about Studio 54, but I’m not sure the investment was entirely worth it. I wouldn’t mind some awards attention for Beanie Feldstein, Sarah Paulson, Annaleigh Ashford, or even Clive Owen, but I’m not sure I’d go beyond that.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Beanie Feldstein and Sarah Paulson

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Series Finale)

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 20 “Kara”

Okay, so this is a series finale I can get behind. After opening with a news reporter in black and white proclaiming that it’s as if they were fading away, a proper plan was hatched for a mass surge of emotion with Kara doing what she does best, which is helping everyone in the world feel hope. I’m glad that this final episode brought back a few characters from the past who were a big part of this show, with Mon-El proclaiming that Kara’s speech made the history books and Winn there along with him. The original Guardian returning was a nice touch too, and James even got to bond with his new niece after they took down the villains. It was fitting that Lex and Nyxly ended up being their own undoing, unleashing the phantoms who preyed on them rather than the heroes lined up against them. I’m not sure why we needed to feel sympathy for Lillian given that she’s always been pretty evil, but Lena is an extraordinary rehabilitated character, so she had to let go of part of her past. It was sweet to feature the wedding as an extremely happy moment for all, with Brainy sticking around in spite of the sacred timeline and Kara and Winn getting to sing since Melissa Benoist and Jeremy Jordan are Broadway stars. All the little hints at what the future holds were fun, but the best one was Cat telling Kara that she knew she was Supergirl and convincing her to go public with her identity. While I haven’t found this or last all that compelling, this show was very good at one point, and I would be happy to see some of the characters appear on other Arrowverse shows in the future.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: B
Season MVP: Melissa Benoist
Season grade: B-
Series MVP: Melissa Benoist
Best Season: Season 1
Best Episode: “Better Angels

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Penultimate Episode)

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 19 “The Last Gauntlet” (B)

We’ve almost reached the end here, with the first of two back-to-back final episodes. There was certainly a good deal of action with some intense aerial cinematography, showing just how much all of the good guys – and the bad guys – can do with their abilities. Lex wearing a truthseeker at the start of the episode wasn’t a good indication of how he was going to be telling the truth, but he also fell victim to his own ego and the need to do things the way he wanted instead of respecting what Nyxly wanted, which was to be able to do it all herself. In theory, Nyxly’s refusal to harm Esme should have been enough to make her realize that she didn’t want to be evil after all, but that wasn’t the case, and now she and Lex are battling each other in the sky through portals while everyone on the ground is drained of their humanity and their very color, transformed to black-and-white in a very literal metaphor for their new states. Harnessing the power of the sun wasn’t something Kara was ultimately okay with doing, and now she seems like she has a plan to finally end this, which is likely to include a whole lot of hope and teamwork, strategies that neither Nyxly or Lex have even properly employed. I’d like to see this show go on a good note that makes this final stretched-out season feel worthwhile, and it looks like even Andrea might get some redemption before the end.

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 5, Episode 3 “Pressure, Okay?!” (B+)

I like that this show spends time with some of its auxiliary characters who are no longer central to the plot, and to see how their lives have changed when they do come back into contact with the people we know. Opening with a song including lyrics like “been there, done that” was a great segue from Lawrence being connected to Issa to another past romance, one with a more enduring remnant in the form of the child he had with Condola. He had to leave his date in the middle because his baby was being born, and he received a rather cold response when he showed up in the hospital room. While this show is often a comedy, this episode felt a lot more like a drama, one that stressed the difficulties of coparenting when both parties don’t feel like they have an equal stake in the relationship with their child. Lawrence is also trying to build up his business, and as a result his plan to travel to see Elijah on a very regular basis didn’t end up making that much sense. Having differing opinions about the baby losing weight and other parenting decisions made for a rocky relationship, and going to the birthday party together showed signs of promise. What was considerably less comfortable to watch was the way that they started fighting in front of everyone else when Condola wanted to take the baby back, showing that it’s going to be very difficult for them to be on the same page.

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11, Episode 3 “The Mini Bar” (B+)

I like that this show feels predictable at times but still manages to chart an interesting course to get there, like with the hot dog eating contest, which I knew was going to be a mistake but didn’t take up too much attention. Since I haven’t consistently watched this show’s past ten seasons, I never know if we’re supposed to have seen someone before or not. I remembered Vince Vaughn’s Freddy but not Richard Kind’s Cousin Andy, and it looks like this actually was the first appearance for Patton Oswalt’s Harry. None of them had particularly hilarious material but instead served as the straight men for bits featuring others, like Andy and Cassie not being suitable middles for dinner table conversation and Larry’s extreme overenthusiasm for the mini bar stocking, which didn’t impress Freddy or his associates in any way. Of course Larry would be someone who slams the door without realizing it and then makes a big deal when people notice, and he used the “stage four cancer advice” to get Jeff to convince Marcos to pull Maria Sofia out of acting to do social media for his breakfast burrito idea. That didn’t work since Elon Gold’s head of Hulu went ahead and called Maria Sofia and Marcos directly to beg them to stick with the pilot. I loved watching Cheryl react to all of the absurdity Larry already knew existed, with her emotionless “no” responses to Cassie’s deathly boring questions and her bewilderment at Maria Sofia’s truly horrific acting.

What I’m Watching: Succession

Succession: Season 3, Episode 4 “Lion in the Meadow” (B+)

It’s incredibly awkward to see Kendall and Logan forced to be in the same room as one another, and the forced hug they engaged in while Adrien Brody’s Josh was looking on was about as convincing as their repeated assurances that they could cooperatively work together. Kendall made a power play in response to Logan making him wait on the tarmac for him to arrive, but then Josh seemed to be much more on his dad’s side, eager for Kendall to retract everything and say he was wrong. Logan started with the cruelty when it was just him and Kendall walking, and Kendall tried to get him to admit that he needed to take a break rather than help him when he finally asked for it, demonstrating to Josh that Logan was indeed an old man who couldn’t necessarily keep up with his pace of life – or business. Roman’s phone call to his brother at the end of the episode started off with his normal petty insults but then involved into something far more ferocious, indicative of the Roy viciousness that all of Logan’s children have inherited. Connor demonstrated that when Shiv balked at his plan and he made it clear that he didn’t want to deal with her. Though Logan was not kind to Shiv with his “nothing is a line” wisdom, she too showed her ability to be unfeeling and effective when she laid out that the conversation she was having had already ended. Tom was spiraling with his prison research, but he still had to time to freak Greg out by telling him that he would castrate him and marry him in a second. Greg having Logan serve him a rum and coke and then asking what he can get was the latest instance of him having absolutely no clue how serious the situation he currently finds himself in really is.

Monday, November 15, 2021

What I’m Watching: Dexter: New Blood (Series Return)

Dexter: New Blood: Season 9, Episode 1 “Cold Snap” (B)

I wasn’t sure whether to consider this a pilot or just a season premiere, and I think I’m leaning more towards the latter. I thought at least that it was worth doing a full written review rather than just a short video, and I’ll continue watching even if I’m not sure it needed to be brought back. Looking back at my reviews of the show’s original run, I remembered that I, like most, was a big fan of seasons one and four, and, unlike most, I was impressed with seasons five, six, and seven. I had mixed feelings on season two, didn’t love season three, and wasn’t very fond of the eighth and, at the time, final season. The finale was far from memorable, but I wasn’t opposed to the idea of it coming back since, when it was good, it was very good. There was a lot of exposition here, with Deb stepping in for Harry as Dexter’s new imagined moral compass, complete with her own personality that was rather blunt and harsh with her brother about what he should do with his life. James Lindsay has really endeared himself to everyone in his small town, including his girlfriend Angela, who happens to be the chief of police. He was doing so well but Matt was practically asking to be killed, poking and prodding Dexter while he was trying to ignore him and just live his life. Keeping his reignited habit a secret is going to be difficult enough, and now he’ll also have to find a way to explain who he is to Harrison and who Harrison is to the people in his new life. That should be interesting, but I need another episode to see what this season will really look like.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 3, Episode 3 “The Soul has Bandaged moments” (B+)

This season is introducing a new focus on Betty, who has always been a notable supporting character, and I like that she’s getting someone to interact with in the form of Sojourner Truth, memorably portrayed by Ziwe Fumudoh. On a show that’s all about wokeness in a time that definitely had radically different ideas of what that meant, it’s good to see a more diverse cast represented, with Henry’s activities on the front lines of the Civil War also being shown. Emily’s desire to express herself through her words wasn’t sitting well with anyone, with the sewing circle judging her for not being interested in actions and Sue wanting more than that. Sue had plenty of biting lines of truth, like “What if I need more than your poems” and pointing out to Emily that she always chooses her family over her and that she would like to, for once, feel chosen. George had a great line too: “if I had to choose between you and poems, I’d choose your poems,” but then he went ahead and tried to kiss Emily, which wasn’t really reading the room. Mrs. Dickinson was very resentful that Sue wouldn’t let her hold her grandchild, and she’s not getting any support from her husband, who hurt his leg in a bar fight and then was loudly calling out for Jane. I’d be curious to know exactly what Edward is revising in his will since he’s not nearly as upset at Austin as his son is at him, determined to create a conflict when moving past it might be considerably easier and more pleasant.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 3, Episode 2 “It feels a shame to be Alive” (B+)

It’s nice to see that, even if the Dickinson family is falling apart, Emily and Lavinia are closer than they’ve ever been. Since their father didn’t die, they had to grapple with the fact that Lavinia does hold him responsible to a degree for how she’s ended up alone. I liked that they had a nice moment of bonding which resulted in trying to think about happier things after they were abandoned for all the excitement of the birth. Mrs. Dickinson was ready to spring into action when she heard about something that was well-suited to her skills, though her collection of farm instruments and her bedside manner were much more terrifying than soothing. Before she went into labor, Sue shared an interesting perspective supporting Austin’s conclusion that the Dickinson family has serious unsolvable problems, which she saw evidenced by their treatment of Emily. Requesting that Emily not leave her side and saying that she didn’t need Austin were indicative of how much more authentic her relationship with Emily is than with her husband, strange and complicated as that may be. Austin’s new attitude is extremely unpleasant, and he didn’t react well to June telling him that she was going to marry someone else. The most powerful scenes of the episode were those with Emily and Frazar, since he really does see her for the person that she is. Concluding that she wasn’t crazy but the world was insane was a great way of putting it, though I imagine this may be the last we’ll see of Frazar because of the fate we know will befall Nobody.

What I’m Watching: Dickinson (Season Premiere)

Dickinson: Season 3, Episode 1 ““Hope” is the thing with feathers” (B+)

I’m very happy to have this show back, even if it’s for a final season, which is a shame given how I would have been glad to watch it for many years. Having spoken to three of the cast members – Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Baryshnikov, and Ella Hunt – has enhanced my enjoyment of it, and at the time that we talked, they previewed a season three that was going to be all about the Civil War. Opening with Emily on the battlefield was an intriguing image, and she seems to have gained a new perspective that isn’t necessarily in line with how the rest of the world – and her family – sees her. Conkey proposing in the wake of Aunt Lavinia’s death felt like it came from out of nowhere, but he’s not the only one who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Emily. After she delivered a surprisingly poignant and mostly well-received speech at dinner, Austin lashed out and didn’t even care that his father was lying close to death on the ground. His attitude has taken an incredibly negative turn, and even Jane isn’t all for his behavior even if they know all about their affair. I like that Emily found Sue more attractive when she was pregnant, but that’s definitely a complicating factor. The priest not wanting to take time to officiate a funeral for an older woman when young soldiers were dying was harsh, and the fact that even Death was depressed because everyone was dying the same way shows how much times have truly changed.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 2, Episode 8 “Confirmations” (B+)

Okay, so this was a more positive follow-up to an episode I didn’t particularly care for that mostly excelled at displaying the way the news machine works when being on top of a story is of utmost importance, and in dealing with complicated grief. Cory trying to spin the book release in some positive manner was interrupted by an unexpected question from an Italian reporter requesting a comment on Mitch’s death, and it was so interesting to see how that led to an intense investigation that started at a place of almost zero knowledge. Chip got the furthest, calling to impersonate Alex and find out her last credit card charge, and then he spiraled when he thought that Alex might have been in the car. They seemed to be on better terms when they were both just relieved to see each other, but then she listened to his terrible voicemail, which got her so furious, mostly with him not letting her feel what she wanted to in that moment. Paige also switched right away from mourning to anger at Alex thinking she was guilt-free in the dissolution of their marriage and everything related to Mitch. Ultimately, Bradley did a great job of reporting the complicated news, which was even more impressive considering her brother’s charged and disruptive visit to the studio. Mia’s announcement to everyone was also poignant and respectful, and the fact that she reached out by text showed that she did still feel her own complicated connection to Mitch, even after everything that he did.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 4 “Baseball, Walkers and Wine” (B)

Forget about kidneys – this show is not all about the retirement home and the antics there. I’m still a bit surprised by the presence of actors like Jim Beaver and Jane Seymour, but they seem to be having fun and getting somewhat more substantive. At first, Spencer seemed like a one-note character stuck in his ways and determined to bring back chauvinism at every turn, and after a good deal of sexual harassment directed at Bette, he showed a deeper and more sentimental side related to his late wife and his service on September 11th. Harry still isn’t doing a great job of tolerating Drew, and our nervous protagonist isn’t keen on pointing out to him that he needs to give his wife some space because his watching so carefully over her is suffocating her and not allowing her to enjoy the time she has left. Norma is also grappling with things she can’t control, and her resistance to using a walker was understandable. Drew deciding to go for it and take Gina on a date was quickly derailed by the unfortunate presence of Eli, which made it so that Gina ended up drowning her discomfort with plenty of alcohol. When she was drunk and back home, Gina seemed very open to the idea of being with Drew, but he was right to stop things there, and he’ll have to see if she remembers any of it or feels the same way when she wakes up fresh and sober in the morning.