Monday, January 31, 2022

What I’m Watching: Euphoria

Euphoria: Season 2, Episode 3 “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys” (B+)

This show took us into a completely different world for its pre-title sequence, explaining a bit more about who Cal is and how he was when he was in high school. That doesn’t justify much of his behavior in the future, of course, but we’re also seeing a new side of him, particularly when he went to go see Fezco to get the tape that he didn’t have and kept getting hit in the head by a vengeful Ash. The brief exchange between Faye and Cal where she asked him if he and his son have sex with people together highlighted the failed communication in that entire interaction. Nate has already taken a beating from Fezco, but he’s showing no signs of improvement as he’s driving Cassie crazy and, after everything, left her alone one night so that he could go bring flowers to Maddy, who should really know what her boyfriend is doing before her back with her best friend. I enjoyed the interviews Lexi did for the TV version of the play that she didn’t tell anyone about, and I’m excited that she’s getting more of a spotlight since she’s such an interesting character. What little we did see of Kat, where she freaked out when Ethan’s parents asked her questions about herself that she thought had specifically correct and incorrect answers, was a typical mix of humorous and troubling. I’m so interested in the budding relationship between Jules and Elliot, which started with them daring each other to do irresponsible things and then led to Elliot giving Jules some very specific and pointed compliments. Rue is out on her own trying to make things happen, which is not a good thing, and Fezco shooting her down right away didn’t stop her from pitching Laurie directly. Negotiating down her starting supply was a smart move, but she’s in very deep now and Laurie’s emotionless threat should have her very worried. It’s good that Ali wanted to look out for her and keep her in line, but she wasn’t having any of that and risks completely alienating the person who actually has best interests at heart.

What I’m Watching: Billions (Season Premiere)

Billions: Season 6, Episode 1 “Cannonade” (B)

It’s hard to believe that this show is now entering its sixth season, but it’s good to see that it’s doing so with a new approach. Prince isn’t just a replacement for Axe who was able to outwit him, but instead someone who is determined to do things the right way, so much so that he was ready to get rid of almost his entire client dossier in order to start fresh. That’s a sincere pivot from his surveillance of his employees with the rings, though he did step in to save Wags’ life when it looked (correctly) like he was having a heart attack. What’s less likely to work is for the staff to be as conscientious given Axe’s disregard for morality, though Mafee is considerably nobler and more well-intentioned than Dollar Bill, two people we’re probably going to see again in some context. Wendy appeared to be impressed that Prince took her advice after initially not buying into it, but he also was very ready to experience therapy from her, making himself very comfortable on the couch. Wags turning down an instant $40 million payout was a big deal, and maybe he’ll even end up becoming a good person by accident as he sticks around Prince Capital. I enjoyed seeing Michael McKean, a standout player on “Better Call Saul,” as Chuck’s cannon-loving neighbor who became the subject of all of his attention. Having endangered turtles planted in the stream was a bold stunt not unlike much of what he’s done before, and I wonder if this is the kind of behavior we’re going to see Chuck engaging in this season rather than trying to take down criminals.

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

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 7 “Sanctified” (B+)

This was one hell of a finale, even if it’s marketed as the first half of the season. After some very intense moments over the course of the past six episodes, this one topped all those. It’s crazy to me how disposable some of the characters have felt, but I guess we are nearing the end, and things are getting to an irreversible point where not all of them are going to surprise. Javi shooting Darlene and then Wyatt right after they had gotten married was shocking, even more so because he had just made a deal for immunity with the FBI. The conversation between the FBI and Navarro made it clear what their real goals were, and how they’re really just going to be propping up the cartel now so that they can run the show. Navarro’s attempt to negotiate didn’t go well, but it was Maya who went recklessly off-script by publicly arresting him. Javi’s deal isn’t quite as sweet, but it also means that the Byrdes are stuck in this and Javi is only going to feel more entitled to treat them however he wants. Jonah telling Ruth who Javi was is going to lead to dangerous things, but she went to the trouble of convincing Frank Jr. not to kill Darlene only to find her dead with her beloved cousin. Ending on Ruth driving rather than the car crash we saw in the season premiere is an interesting choice, and I’m definitely ready to see how this all plays out. I’ve been very impressed with the cast this season – and the writing – and I’m sure it will get plenty of Emmy recognition, starting with a third Emmy for Julia Garner.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Julia Garner as Ruth

What I’m Watching: Ozark

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 6 “Sangre Sobre Todo” (B+)

So Darlene is still alive, which means that she’s only going to be more ferocious in how she’s going to come for Wendy. Calling foster services to report that Darlene might be less capable was a ruthless action on Wendy’s part, though anyone being in her orbit is definitely cause for concern. She has a real penchant for shooting people when they piss her off without any regard for the consequences, and taking out Frank Sr. is a decision that’s going to have disastrous implications. Wyatt seemed ready to leave with Ruth and officially break up with Darlene, but that plan didn’t work out as soon as he came in to find her devastated by the foster news. Javi’s presence in the Ozarks was disconcerting, but Marty made a major move to record Javi seemingly implicating himself in the truck explosion. It doesn’t feel like it will all work out so easily, and there’s enough discord just within the Byrde family to undermine it. Jim was definitely not happy to find out that his decision to be the Byrde family lawyer now has the cartel coming straight to his door. Wendy flagging Jonah’s transfer was reckless, and while Marty cleaned it up without any problem, it’s not helping with Wendy and Marty’s positive co-parenting. Jonah leaving at just the moment that they’re getting set to turn Navarro in was an ominous way to end this penultimate episode of the half-season, which is sure to end emphatically and intensely, and likely on a major cliffhanger.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

What I’m Watching: Ozark

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 5 “Ellie” (B+)

There is a dangerous cycle to how everything works on this show, defined almost exclusively by betrayal. Darlene doesn’t want Ruth to think that she’s running everything, even though she just told her that she has respect for her, and so she went and partnered with a former sworn enemy to sell what Ruth was about to offload to Claire, which then made things very bad for Marty and Ruth. I’m impressed that Marty pulled a gun on Connor just as he got the all-clear from Claire to go in and take care of business, and Ruth emerged at just the right time, using her signature annoyed sarcasm – mixed with a bit of important truth – to convince the dangerous people inside that she wasn’t a cop and just needed her stuff back. Wendy’s latest power play with Bruce Davison’s senator showed her the cost of what she’s doing, perpetrating the stealing of elections in the future, and she’s only going to get herself in deeper as she uses her resources to look into the very determined private investigator who continues to make trouble. Calling Darlene to thank her profusely for putting up the missing posters for Ben and then continuing to do so in person was unnerving, but not nearly as much as her chilling response to Darlene seemingly having a heart attack and begging her to call the police, which it appears she did after a lengthy and purposeful delay. I’m not sure what happens if Darlene dies, and maybe it’s actually simpler since Ruth can join forces again with Marty and Wendy out of necessity, but I’m sure it won’t be that easy.

What I’m Watching: Ozark

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 4 “Ace Deuce” (B+)

Wendy is indeed playing with fire, giving a speech where she is the one rescuing Shaw and her company and invoking Ben’s name as someone who could use the kind of treatment they are going to be helping to provide. As Marty rightly pointed out, talking about him is likely to make people look into him, which started right away with Mel the overambitious private investigator, who went straight to Wendy and Ben’s father, where he learned right away that Ben wasn’t actually a drug addict. Ruth was also quite upset about it, but she had plenty on her mind with an overdose at the casino and a dead driver. The relationship she has with Marty is so complex and fascinating, and I like that this episode ended with an intriguing opportunity that may not be a good idea for either of them. Javi identifying Maya on the video of the raid after getting spooked by the agency being the FBI and not the DEA is definitely bad, and Navarro didn’t seem quite as ready to take action as he should have. The drug cartel being on their backs is probably more worrisome than the local trouble brewing now that Sheriff Guerrero is learning more about the business feuds that her predecessor really should have done much more about while he had the chance. I did enjoy Ruth’s pick for her motel manager based on Jonah’s suggestion to hire someone too stupid to figure out what they’re doing, and Sam demonstrated his inability to sound all that intelligent when he asked his celebrity chef guest about how to properly make paella.

What I’m Watching: Ozark

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 3 “City on the Make” (B+)

This was an extremely ominous opening, with Marty holding the baby while Wendy was digging, as Maya arrived with a hood on for a very brief meeting with Navarro. Though he was disconcertingly relaxed, she wasn’t in the mood for games at all, and she was furious when she returned home feeling like he wasn’t taking this seriously at all. Wanting to see her again so soon after she walked out presented another problem for Marty and Wendy to fix, and they were already dealing with Javi being right up in their business in a way that seriously spooked their newest partner. Ingratiating himself into the deal and the continued operations means that he’s going to keep a close eye on them, continuing to cause trouble when things are actually going much smoother than they should be under the circumstances. Wendy’s monument to her brother resounded poorly with Jonah, who once again suggested that Charlotte might make one for him, and Wendy cutting the power while Jonah was working only did what Marty assured her it would, which is to make him go somewhere else to commit crimes. Ruth took a gamble by directly going against Darlene’s wishes and nearly ended up paying the price for it, but, at this point, she seems the likeliest to inherit the entire operation once Darlene inevitably gets herself – or maybe Wyatt – killed as a refusal to honor the commitments she made that she’s saying she has no intention of repaying. This is a stressful world and a stressful show.

What I’m Watching: Ozark

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 2 “Let the Great World Spin” (B+)

It’s intense to see just how bad things have gotten in the relationship between Ruth and the Byrdes. Jonah is only helping to feed the fire, giving Ruth Ben’s ashes, which she was not happy to relinquish when Wendy showed up and she came outside with a shotgun. Marty talking to her didn’t go much better, though he also nearly got into trouble with Wendy by seeming proud of Jonah when he found out that he was laundering money at only fourteen years old. Javi’s presence is complicating things in a big way, and it’s just adding another layer of deception that Marty has to keep up, being forced to clean up a mess he didn’t cause. Sheriff Guerrero seems committed to not following in the footsteps of her late predecessor, responding both to Mel the overeager private investigator and to Marty the determined housecleaner with suspicion. Wendy made tremendous progress amassing the $150 million she needed with considerable ease, and Ruth had similar success with her Chicago connection. But both were undone by their demanding bosses, though Darlene’s refusal to give in to hippie ideals is less concerning than Navarro showing up in the middle of the night. Maya getting cold feet came at a bad time, and her having to go alone to meet him felt very ominous. The fact that Marty told Maya only about Javi being there and not about Helen being dead or anything else suggests that he has another game going here, but he would be smart to relay all the information so that she can actually trust him.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

What I’m Watching: Ozark (Season Premiere)

Ozark: Season 4, Episode 1 “The Beginning of the End” (B+)

I watched a few episodes of the first two seasons of this show and then screened the entire third season ahead of the Emmy Awards knowing that it was sure to pick up many nominations. Now, I’m officially on board, running through the first half of season four at the same time as or even before the public sees it. That opening was rather intense and violent, though we presumably won’t see what comes of it until the end of this seven-episode run or maybe even the back half of the season. It was jarring to then see Wendy washing blood out of her head, which we later learned were “pieces of Helen,” a rather blunt and descriptive piece of imagery. Navarro’s request to have himself laundered is certainly going to present a challenge, but Marty and Wendy have always been resourceful. The complicating factors are, of course, that Javi has come to town and thought that murdering a law enforcement official for no real reason was a smart first act, and that Jonah, like Ruth, is working to directly undermine his parents so that he can get back at them for what he sees as their wrongdoings, namely Wendy killing Ben. Jonah asking Charlotte if she could imagine killing him was a poignant moment, but she has obviously adapted her parents’ sentiments on the matter, telling him he needs to grow up. The private investigator looking for Helen to get a signature is extremely inconvenient, and there’s no way that doesn’t get very messy.

What I’m Watching: As We See It (Season Finale)

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 8 “Please Don’t Leave” (B+)

This finale did not disappoint, though I sincerely hope that this show will be coming back for more. If not, at least it was a proper way to wrap things up and provide uplifting endings for each of the characters, which did not seem likely at the start. Harrison planning to move home was an unpleasant idea given the lack of stability he was going to find there, and it was hard watching his parents express such disappointment and outrage at Mandy for not doing what she was supposed to do, and then lashing out at her for walking away since she had lost Harrison’s trust. Violet was understandably frightened by the idea of going into a place that felt isolating and like somewhere Van could just dump her, and she’s obviously holding on to an idea of her parents and their ability to take care of her financially which isn’t in alignment with reality. It was endearing to see that these three grew up together and that Van wanted to go to Lou to ask for advice on whether it gets any easier, something he responded to honestly and well. Jack’s antics were the most entertaining, watching romantic commercials so that he could cry when he proposed – a huge step that was way too early to take – and considering the chicken satay waitress useless when she wouldn’t text him to tell him when a new tray was coming out. Ewatomi responded perfectly to his proposal, not even necessarily turning him down but telling him instead that she might be moving home to Nigeria. Being open to the idea of having sex was a nice surprise, and I love how that played out. And Violet might even be into Douglas, which is great! This show has been immensely rewarding, and I really hope we’ll see a season two and beyond.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Rick Glassman as Jack, Sue Ann Pien as Violet, and Albert Rutecki as Harrison

What I’m Watching: As We See It

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 7 “Outed” (B+)

There have been many tender moments over the course of this show, but none compares to the one at the end of this episode that found the three roommates bonding, and even featured a shared understanding that didn’t lead to Violet freaking out about the fact that her brother and Mandy were seen kissing. The biggest surprise in this episode was Jack’s reaction to Ewatomi acknowledging that he was on the spectrum, something he apparently didn’t think she or others knew since he thought he was passing. He pivoted hard to a defense of how the way he was acting wasn’t just because he was autistic on their date, and I love that he responded to her saying that talking about this made her feel closer to him by requesting that it get him to second base. Coming home ready to gloat to Harrison and then offering to comfort him so that he could practice offering empathy as a warm-up for pretending to care about things now that he was in a relationship was very funny. Harrison did process what he felt to Mandy when she came and got him following his bus ride, and I think their conversation was the most honest, even if it left him not feeling good. Violet seemed very upset about the idea of moving into a full-time residential program, but she finally gave Douglas a chance and realized he might actually be a perfect fit for her. Van decided not to stick around and petition Mandy to be with him, and she called Joel, so maybe things are going to work out for everyone after all, though the final episode could definitely change that.

What I’m Watching: As We See It

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 6 “Fear Is My Bitch” (B+)

After Violet woke up feeling great and declaring that she’s now a woman, things imploded in exactly the way they were always going to, resulting in a truly devastating meltdown and the end of Violet’s employment at Arby’s. She did come on very strong to Julian at work and he wasn’t kind about letting her down easily, and her screaming and swearing at him and then throwing a milkshake at a customer made it clear that she wasn’t going to be able to work there anymore. It was good that Van’s first concern when he showed up was that she hadn’t been forced into anything, and it was rough to see what the process of requesting the morning after pill was, especially considering the heartbreak she had experienced. Mandy did notice that Van was referring to her in a very admiring and seemingly flirtatious way, and she made the questionable decision to give in to those apparently reciprocal feelings, something that’s going to compromise her position in Violet’s life and also going to upset Harrison, who is already confusing her support for him for affection that doesn’t exist. Jack going in to ask for a raise that he had carefully calculated based on his expenses didn’t go the way he wanted, but I loved that he said that he was demonstrating flexibility by suggesting his own compromise of thirty-five percent when he had actually wanted forty. Lou’s worsening condition is hard to watch, but at least Jack is learning how to sort of apologize on his own for the things he says to Ewatomi and make clear that he’s doing a lot he doesn’t usually do because of her.

Friday, January 28, 2022

What I’m Watching: As We See It

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 5 “Ever Had an Edible?”

Maybe Julian isn’t the worst thing for Violet, but that still remains to be seen. After Tiff and Celeste tried to make up for missing her party by taking her to a club – which was definitely not her scene, even if sensory experiences are much more problematic for her too roommates – she just wanted to be with him. His response to whether he thought she was normal was very validating, though it is likely that she’s going to get far too attached to what he might see as a simple hook-up. How to support Violet became a divisive issue for Van and Selina that ultimately broke them up, since Selina had her own ideas of how she could be there for her that didn’t line up with how Van saw it and how little Van was willing to consider other people’s opinions. Jack’s visit to his aunt’s house where Lou asked her to be his guardian didn’t go so well, especially when he revealed his dad’s prognosis, but eating edibles together was a great opportunity for them to bond about how he kissed Ewatomi at the bus stop. Mandy’s trip home with Harrison was very sweet, and it was nice to see just how supportive they were of him in every way. The news that they’re moving to Montana after his sister’s graduation was a bit of a shock, but his mom did make a legitimate point when she said that they needed to start living for themselves, selfish as that sounded to say.

What I’m Watching: As We See It

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Violetini”

Violet’s birthday party was a great opportunity for each of the three roommates to come out of their shells a bit with the assignment to bring a plus one. Harrison had an obvious choice to have AJ come, and it was incredibly heartwarming to see AJ not skip a beat and figure out an incredible way for Harrison to easily travel a great distance without freaking out. It’s really a shame that AJ being at the exercise class meant that one of the people there got concerned about him and Harrison and called the police, which now means that AJ can’t hang out with Harrison anymore. Jack had a much more successful date experience when, after a few rejections, he asked Ewatomi in a lackluster way to come. I love that she tried to feed him lines so that he would engage in conversation, and that she responded to him kissing her by kissing him back and just stressing that he should go for it. Violet was characteristically unappreciative of all of the people who did show up to her party, particularly Douglas and John, and it’s a shame that Selina had a very legitimate excuse not to be there, which prompted Van to lash out at her for not showing up. It’s likely true that Julian just is a flirt interested in sleeping with every woman who works at Arby’s, and hopefully that won’t lead to terrible heartbreak for Violet. At least Mandy has decided that she’s not leaving, and her confiding in Violet about the imperfection of her relationship was the only thing that made her happy.

Take Three: As We See It

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 3 “When Violet Met Douglas” (B+)

It was very sweet to see that AJ was interested in continuing his friendship with Harrison, sending down a walkie-talkie through the window so that they could chat. After the misery of Harrison being completely ignored by the other two performers at drama club, it was wonderful to see him talking to his new friend and for Mandy to observe that and smile, prompting her to march up to AJ’s mom to convince her that it was a good idea for AJ and Harrison to hang out. Jack had considerably more trouble adhering to social cues, tracking down the nurse he met by finding his geotagged location on Instagram and then getting her to confirm the details of his father’s condition. After his father followed him out of his stage walk-off, he presented one of the most genuine sentiments he has yet: that he needs to be able to prepare for his father to die. I am thrilled that Vella Lovell, an actress I liked a lot on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” who also stars in “Mr. Mayor,” is playing Selina, Van’s girlfriend, but she did not a good job of following her brother’s advice and instead encouraged Violet not to go on a date with someone she didn’t want to date. The ensuing onstage drama was quite uncomfortable and cruel, and the only good part was that Van saw how much Mandy cared when she expressed her anger at Selina. She did manage to tell Van that she was leaving, but there’s no way she’s going to be able to tell the people she needs to tell most or go through with it in the end.

Round Two: As We See It

As We See It: Season 1, Episode 2 “I Apologize for My Words and Actions” (B+)

This was a fun second installment, one that continued the pilot’s smooth blending of comedy and drama. I like that Mandy works with each of the roommates to set goals for what they achieve, something they naturally fight every time but also managed to make some unexpected progress on in this case. Jack arguably has the most success, getting his job back and even making a friend in the process when he was finally honest with him about why he missed the meeting. He also got off to a bad start with the nurse ahead of his father’s appointment, and I enjoyed that they both acknowledged how they found each other rude but still could see eye-to-eye. It was sweet that Jack told his father that he wanted to be his advocate, and that Lou responded that, as his father, that was his job for his son. Harrison succeeded in making a friend, which wasn’t even on his goal list, but AJ’s mom had a horrible reaction to the news of them hanging out without bothering to try to understand that it was probably good for both Harrison and AJ for them to interact. Violet once again threw herself headfirst into a new potential relationship, and the fact that Julian said violet was his favorite color prompted her to put in an extra order her manager really didn’t need for fries and scoop his number off the order slip. It was good that Mandy stood up for herself to Van in needing to be a part of the decisions he was making for his sister, but the news that she’s potentially going to leave for a new opportunity isn’t going to go over well with anyone.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pilot Review: As We See It

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: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 11 “Louisville, Bubbaroo and Sully” (B+)

While I haven’t been consistently enthralled with this season’s newfound focus on the assisted living facility, I do think this episode helped bring things back to a solid semi-dramatic point that echoes how this show started off with Drew’s worrisome prognosis and the hope that Gina giving her kidney offered. Stirring up Gina’s legal troubles wasn’t much of a stretch, though I imagined that she would have been working on her most recent arrest rather than the string of terrible things that she did which don’t define who she is as a person anymore. Meeting Peter’s son Kyle, played by Anthony Montgomery from “Enterprise,” provided a new potential romance, but Peter mentioning that Kyle was married led to Gina’s discovery that Peter’s memory wasn’t what it once was. He did not react well to being confronted about it, and Gina’s discovery of his photo closet was a heartfelt ending to the episode. Hopefully she can use the care she feels for everyone to focus on providing him what he needs and making him feel comfortable with how his mind is changing. Bette and Spencer are certainly on a path to honesty, finally, after some childish avoidance of the first woman he had been with since his wife died by the often crude Spencer. Harry forcing Drew to fix the car himself and learn about righty-tighty lefty-loosy was extremely entertaining, and it was humorous to learn that Harry had been faking back problems so that Drew would have step in and do it.

Take Three: Pivoting

Pivoting: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Giving Tree” (B+)

I like that we got to see Colleen’s husband Brian, played by Colton Dunn from “Superstore,” and the relationship that her friends still have with him. It was fun to see how Henry was cashing in on the meal train that was being delivered to him and trying to clue his friend in to just how appealing he was to all the women who kept cooking for him. Being coaxed into driving Jodie, Sarah, and Amy to Diana’s house so they could steal the tree. Sarah obviously has a very contentious relationship with her ex, and I enjoyed how Huddy tried to be helpful to her and told Sarah that she shouldn’t talk the customer out of purchasing the more expensive items. This was the first time we saw Jodie’s husband Dan, who I recognized from Robert Baker’s role as Otis Graves on “Supergirl,” and he does not seem like a particularly nice guy. I was thrilled to recognize J.B. Smoove from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as the voice of The Fig, an especially fantastic piece of casting to enhance an admittedly ridiculous bit. Jodie’s obsession with her trainer continues to lead to absurd developments, like her frantically texting him when he hadn’t replied to her question about thinking she was beautiful. She got the perfect response at exactly the moment that her built-up core strength enabled her to rip a tree out of the ground, which both impressed and terrified her friends who were happy to let her do whatever she wanted after that.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 3 “Call Me a Sporty Giant” (B+)

It’s fun to see just how different Kat and Randi are, and how the two of them spending all of their time together might drive Randi just a little bit crazy. Her eternal peppiness and incredible ability to turn anything into a song – including brushing teeth and decaf coffee – were definitely taxing for the less patient Randi, and Kat jumping to conclusions and buying a new couch ended up being a bad move given the money Randi had literally hidden in the cushions of the couch she gave away. Their outing to the grief support group was a longer errand than they had planned, but Kat got some catharsis regarding her dad and they even got to hash out the complicated pieces of their friendship. Kat’s request for a group hug was great distraction, but Randi didn’t pick up on it right away. I enjoyed Randi’s reaction to Carter offering to make coq au vin, which he had never made and didn’t even know exactly what it was, when she was going to stay over two nights in a row. Carter being upset that the bar didn’t make the bar crawl list led to an entertaining series of hijinks following the bourbon tasting. Sheila seemed excited by the idea of getting to step in to help since Kat had never done anything dangerous. Phil did manage to learn how to ride a bike but not how to stop, but Leslie Jordan seemed a lot more well-suited to the task when he rode ride back in for the ending wave session.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 12 “Poker / Pokar” (B+)

Al’s justification for playing poker even though it was haram didn’t hold much water, though I can understand how he got excited about the idea of being able to read people and beat them with his skill. I suppose it’s easier to opt to stretch some boundaries when there isn’t a crisis but instead an opportunity that seems manageable, though Al fell hard and fast for the gambling habit that he just couldn’t quit. His nightmare where he ordered a Slippery Slope and Lizzie brought him a bottle of haram as Hazel was revealed to be the devil was entertaining, and I like that Art was the one to try to get him to stop. Riley had success by having Al come outside in his underwear, and it’s not common that he’s the more levelheaded one. I’m glad that we got to see an extended spotlight on Lizzie’s burgeoning romance with Brett, which involved a solid date and then Lizzie getting awkward with her finger guns on the way home. It’s fun that Brett admitted he came the night before to practice his artistic skills and that he then showed up at her house to show that he could really play music. Having Lizzie confide in a disappointed Vanessa about how the date went was also a nice touch since we don’t tend to see the two of them getting to be sisters and friends anymore, but hopefully Freddy and Vanessa playing poker with the family means they’ll be more involved and present this season.

What I’m Watching: And Just Like That

And Just Like That: Season 1, Episode 8 “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” (B+)

Since I didn’t watch much of the original show, I don’t know all the intricacies of the marriages that do still exist with the main characters, though a lot of time has also passed, so maybe I’m not as out of the loop as I think I am. Che was rightfully angry to learn that Miranda hadn’t ever clarified that she and Steve did not have an open marriage and that she was just cheating on him, and it’s a good thing Miranda finally spoke to Steve about how she was feeling. He seemed completely blindsided by it and even made jokes about what ended up being the real topic of conversation, but he did express that he didn’t have the fight in him to rally for them as a couple once again. Flying to Cleveland to go update Che on the situation doesn’t sound like a spectacular idea. I enjoyed how shocked Carrie and Miranda were to learn the reason for Charlotte’s bathroom mishap and her defense of her moderately active sex life with Harry. It was a struggle at first, but Charlotte did decently well relating to her daughter after that incident and the discovery of her Finsta. Carrie struggling to deal with her very loud new neighbors was a challenge, and she did come off exactly as she was told she might when she called Jackie for advice. Being greeted by her neighbor’s towel-wearing (at least at first) boyfriend added some liveliness to an episode that had already featured some full-frontal nudity.

What I’m Watching: Peacemaker

Peacemaker: Season 1, Episode 4 “Chapter 04: The Choad Less Traveled” (B+)

I like that we’re getting to see a lot more of Vigilante, who thinks that no one knows who he is even if he has the same voice and the same pinky toe injury that the masked man in the truck did. Thanking Peacemaker for letting him be tortured felt like a stretch, but he lives to be in service, and after Letoa manipulated him into getting himself arrested, he committed to antagonizing Auggie. Asking them to go around the table and say what cultural contributions they were grateful for from Black people was a humorous way of getting them riled up, but Auggie didn’t take the bait, and now Vigilante isn’t in prison to take him down. The neighbor telling Peacemaker that he’s probably not a superhero got him very upset, as did those disturbing flashbacks to his childhood training where his father encouraged him to kill someone. Leota’s pescatarian non-killing streak might be over thanks to her quick and apparently unnecessary action during Peacemaker’s big rematch with Judomaster. I’m still waiting for the moment that Leota is revealed to be Waller’s daughter given the horrible way everyone keeps talking about her. For now, the big shock is that the emotionless Murn is apparently that way for a reason – he’s a butterfly! The way that he’s able to manage the team suggests that he’s evolved and very capable of controlling his actions, and playing a peculiar double agent game targeting his own kind. This information isn’t likely to make him seem all that different given his typical nature, but I’m sure it won’t be long before someone else catches on to his true identity.

Pilot Review: La Fortuna

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 7, Episode 9 “Lowest Common Demoninator” (B+)

I’m not someone who watches reality television, and in fact I’ve barely ever seen an episode. But I have seen other parodies like this one and I appreciated the opportunity to once again see all of the characters acting in a different way, aware at first that they were being manipulated and then unable to resist the influence of the hidden cameras. The transformations I enjoyed most were Sara into someone who liked fun and wanted to go to the beach house and Spooner into someone who was just naked all the time. I loved Nate and Zari bickering and Nate doubling down on never wanting to be with her in ten million years even though she looked exactly like his Zari and, according to her, dressed much better. Gwyn was also more entertaining in this context, and naturally he was still thinking about the political figure he wanted to save to prevent a world war. Gideon in her flirtatious mode and then more of the god mode was fun too, and it really is strange to hear her speak after she was a disembodied voice for so long. I’m glad that Astra and Behrad, who were both instrumental in getting the reality show to stop, are finally expressing their feelings for each other, and that they’ve mutually acknowledged that they’re going to take it slow. With Gideon back in a good headspace, I’m very intrigued to find out why it is that she wants to go back and prevent World War I, given that it surely will lead to quite a significant change in the timeline. But what is a timeship for, if not to screw history up and then restore it to some version of what it was supposed to be?

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 12 “Round Trip Ticket SAN-OAK, $234” (B+)

I think what I enjoyed most about this episode was seeing Connor get into efficiency mode. He’s usually portrayed as a big brainless lug, but he did make his money from being good at something. It wasn’t too surprising, therefore, that his patented system of needing to justify everything in three seconds only worked for financial and not emotional value. I did like the reasons Sarah and Denise came up with for wanting to keep things, and especially their defense of having three copies of the same book. Their responses to Connor finding drawers full of dishes, winter boots, and CDs were great, and the brief appearance of the private box was funny. It’s no surprise that their efforts to sell some of their things only resulted in them buying more stuff, a true-to-life concept that often befalls those who spend time in groups devoted to getting rid of clutter. Knowing that Lupe lets Connor organize her purse as a treat sometimes was also very entertaining. Cheech Marin’s guest appearance as Marina’s father was low-key and mostly involved subtle jabs at Tom’s manhood not unlike what Emily often does, and the whole plotline turned into Marina being upset that her father was being there for his grandchildren in a way that he never was for her. The good moment for Tom was Roberto telling him that he envied the connection he had with his children, but the episode still ended with a puppet show mocking Tom’s inability to fix his own sink.

What I’m Watching: The Book of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett: Season 1, Episode 4 “Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm” (B-)

I didn’t find this episode to be all that necessary since it was pretty much all flashback exposition and was missing the signature chase scene that has made previous installments very worthwhile. Each episode opens with Boba in the Bacta Tank remembering things, and him meeting Fennec and bringing her in for “modification” was a decently worthwhile event. Joining him for his revenge mission wasn’t all that enthralling, and while their “fire in the hole” moment as they got the Bespar armor out of the pit was moderately exciting, it didn’t compare to the action in other episodes. Pledging his life to protect Fennec’s and acknowledging the fact that she would rather work as an independent contractor makes him a very ideal employer, and she seems to have gotten very comfortable in her role as a loyal right hand. Krrsantan once again showed his violent tendencies when he didn’t even want to accept an offer from Garsa Fwip to have his debt wiped in exchange for peace, but maybe that aggression is exactly what Boba needs right now. Getting those who were previously imprisoned in the pit is an interesting idea, and the carefully-timed rancor appearance hopefully diminished their desire to kill him and take what was his. Going up against the Pike Syndicate is not going to be an easy task, but ensuring that he at least doesn’t have enemies in his midst is the next best thing to actually having them agree to stand with him on his side.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 3 “Four Fathers” (B+)

This was a very compelling, and often unsettling, portrait of fatherhood, showing how determined all of these fathers are to be there for their kids and the many obstacles that get in the way. Starting with grown-up Baby Jack in the future grilling meat and remembering, as Lucy put it, the moment that his parents’ marriage fell apart, was interesting, though we’re still just getting tiny little flashes of that time and no indication of whether Jack still maintains any relationship with Kate or Toby. The frequent traveling he was doing wasn’t necessarily the problem, but his resistance to staying on the same schedule got him into trouble and resulted in him skipping Kate’s recital, where she bonded with her future second husband when he showed a modicum of emotion. Kevin had the same issue, expecting Madison to keep the babies up so that he could see them when he got home, and he made a very healthy choice to call Cassidy rather than sleep with his young costar. Jack made up his movie theater misstep, which Rebecca didn’t even seem to mind since she knew that Kevin’s phone number was written in his shoe, with the perfect at-home movie night to give them all great memories, save for Jack since he ended the day by getting the call that his mom died. Randall teaching Déjà to drive was sweet, but one of the most important rules of driving with a parent is to turn off your read-aloud texts. It was fun to see Randall and Beth flail about as they tried to process what to do, and I love that Beth had Randall drink her wine as she told him that she was going to take her to get birth control. His speech to Déjà was also mostly good, but her saying that not being able to visit Malik would be a problem is ominous, even if we know from the glimpses of the future that we’ve seen that the two of them get along just fine.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 2 “The Ties That Bind” (B+)

Lois’ exceptionally-prepared breakfast properly would have gone over if everything she made didn’t have eggs or meat in it, but apparently Natalie the vegan isn’t much of a breakfast person anyway. She actually did a pretty spectacular job of fitting in at school, befriending Sarah and demonstrating how skilled she is at fixing cars. John was the one who had trouble distinguishing this world from his own, spending time with Lois and remembering the woman who used to be his wife. Clark being felled by the seismic shocks he was feeling was not good news, and going somewhere with his duplicitous brother, even with Jordan for backup, wasn’t a smart plan. The Lara they met really was shocked that Clark and Tal weren’t getting along, and seemed just as upset when Tal took the opportunity to gain the advantage on Clark and try to kill him. Fortunately, Jordan stepped in and did a great job of defending his father. His response to Sarah telling him her somewhat predictable secret – that she kissed someone at camp – wasn’t as great, especially since he could have inquired further about her sexual orientation or at least been supportive of her own exploration. Clark’s not so big on the new army of young supers, but they did provide some much-needed support when he wasn’t up to the task. I’ve already mentioned how much I’ve loving positive Kyle this season, and I’m all for the way that he encouraged to go for it and run for mayor herself, an idea she had already decided on, which should be great to see play out.

Round Two: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 1, Episode 2 “FOMO” (B+)

The idea from the first episode of this show that one of the men that Sophie met on that night is the one she’ll end up with is interesting, and the fact that we specifically saw frames of certain people suggests that it isn’t likely to be someone else we didn’t notice who might finally appear years later in a clearer context. At this moment, it feels like Jesse is the likeliest suspect, even if things got off to a rocky start when Sophie got kicked out of the club seconds after deciding to just go for it and then happened to see the perfect Jason Mamoa pun photo opportunity. Going back to Sid’s bar was a productive development, and he was totally wowed by Charlie being his real self, obsessing over his cufflinks and commenting on things that no one else had noticed in the bar. It’s better when he’s not trying so hard, and while it’s good that he’s sticking around and moving out so that Valentina can have a bit more space to breathe, I’m still not sure I see them as a couple. Ellen completely failing on the flirting front at the club was entertaining, but I do hope that we get to see her engage in real relationships over the course of the show, not just as a lesbian-from-Iowa punchline. I’ll also note that it’s interesting that Kim Cattrall’s older Sophie is on-camera the whole time while Bob Saget’s Future Ted was always just a voice being heard by his annoyed kids, but maybe there’s a reason for that which will be revealed later.

Pilot Review: How I Met Your Father

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: Somebody Somewhere

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, January 22, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 2, Episode 3 “For He Is a Liar and the Father of Lies” (B+)

The next generation isn’t doing a great job of staying together, constantly switching sides when it comes to confronting Eli, though at least they could all agree that they were angrier at the idea of him dating someone other than their mother than at the notion of him having killed someone. It’s crazy that they all knew that Eli’s passcode must be his birthday but that none of them knew what date it was. I enjoyed that BJ contributed what he had noticed when he was out roller-blading, which allowed for a brief sequence where the much-mocked partner got to be seen truly enjoying himself. Eli’s made-up story about manscaping was relatively tame until all the blood, and he would probably do better to work with Junior than now have him as the enemy he’s declared himself to be. The biggest threat to the health of the church at the moment is Kelvin’s need to be liked and respected, and his propensity for stunts that have now caused his authority to be questioned. Forcing his challenger to bear a cross was quite literal and miserable, and that whole process felt very cult-like. The earlier mishap resulted in shocked looks from all of the children who were present at a very serious and unpleasant situation that didn’t find adults behaving in the way they should be. Jesse’s family discussing Eli’s potential guilt at the fast food place made for an entertaining scene, one showing the kind of ideas that having Jesse Gemstone as a parent can foster in theoretically bright minds.

What I’m Watching: Euphoria

Euphoria: Season 2, Episode 2 “Out of Touch” (B+)

This is something that I don’t feel like we get very often: an episode that touches on all of the characters. Nate was the central protagonist in the extended opening scene, imagining that he would have gotten together with Cassie and had a baby with her instead of meeting and dating Maddy first. He wasn’t quite as cruel as we’ve seen him be capable of before when he drove Cassie somewhere so that he could break things off with her, and he tried to make her into the villain when he couldn’t resist her and reminded her that it would be hard for her to look Maddy in the eye. Maddy is aware that Nate is bad news, and Jules wasn’t quite as emphatic as she could have been in her advice for her not to go down that path again. Rue wanting to get high with Elliot without Jules knowing she’s doing it is definitely going to affect their relationship, and I like that Ali insisted on coming inside to meet her mother and wouldn’t commit to saying that she was doing well. Kat is going to sabotage her own relationship because she thinks that Ethan isn’t interesting enough and that he can’t love her in the simply sweet way that he does, and he’s also going to notice that she’s trying to pull away. Cal finding Fezco and going there as Lexi had gone to talk to him but got scared away by Faye was intense, but it seems like he’s not going to do much, especially since Nate still has the video of him and Jules. There’s such a complicated web of lies and deceit on this show, and it doesn’t leave many innocent people left untouched.

What I’m Watching: Yellowjackets (Season Finale)

Yellowjackets: Season 1, Episode 10 “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” (B+)

There was something fascinating about seeing Shauna, Taissa, Natalie, and Misty show up as adults to the reunion, where there was a slideshow with the whole team and a ridiculous conclusion that Jackie would have wanted to see Shauna dance with Jeff in her stead as prom queen. What everyone at the reunion doesn’t know is incredible, and the way in which Jackie became a pariah and then went out into exile to her death was chilling. The dream where everyone invited her back inside and was offering her hot chocolate was eerie, and that ending suggested there’s much more creepiness to come as they “let the darkness set them free.” After freely confessing who the shrooms were really meant to drug, Misty was able to execute much subtler and more effective moves in the present, first as she calmly talked about how to dispose of a body and then poisoned Jessica’s cigarettes after letting her go from her “little stay at the Caligula Inn.” Shauna may be doing much better in the present, but Taissa’s surprise victory isn’t going to cover up the fact that her wife has just found her very dark and freaky secret in the basement wall that she decided to crawl into rather than run far away from in the opposite direction. And Natalie, just moments from killing herself, has been abducted by some mysterious group that may or may not be related to what we’ve come to know in the past. There’s still so much mystery to be unpacked, and while I’m still finding more questions than answers, the quality of the performances on this show is strong enough that I’m very much in for more.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Melanie Lynskey as Shauna

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan: The Movie

Ray Donovan: The Movie (B)

I was a big fan of this show in its early seasons but started to lose interest once it got into its fifth season. Though I value many of the actors on the series, it would not have been my first choice to campaign for a wrap-up movie. But I suppose there was more material to cover, and some closure needed with Mickey that Ray had to get, even if things didn’t play out as the police and public would come to believe. What this episode did more than anything was to provide a look back at how Ray became who he was as a result of his father. I was impressed with Bill Heck, an actor from “I’m Your Woman” who played Mickey once before in an episode, and helped to show how his enthusiasm and energy as a young father shaped who Ray was, including his role in the accidental shooting of his girlfriend and subsequent prison sentence. In the present, Ray getting hit with a bat while tailing Mickey and then being thrown off the car window was intense, and he even pulled the trigger on Mickey without much hesitation only to find that it was empty. Bridget being the one to ultimately kill him was an important full-circle moment, one that acknowledged how much he had negatively affected yet another generation of Donovans. Ray taking the blame made a lot of sense, ensuring that Bridget can live free of that burden. We didn’t see much of the other siblings, aside from Bunchy making an effort to be reunited with his family, Daryll leaving town for good with Lena’s help, and Terry imagining being with all of his family around him as he sat at an empty table. This movie was fine but not entirely necessary, but make sure to check out the cool conversation I got to have with actor Eddie Marsan, who plays Terry!

Friday, January 21, 2022

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 10 “S'mores, Elvis and a Cubano” (B+)

I do agree that, as both Drew and Norma have pointed out, it’s interesting that Gina keeps bringing up Hannah, and I like that it’s a supporting and recurring plot point that might end up being more significant down the road when Drew stops his traveling lifestyle. Harry turned out to be a predictably inflexible companion, someone who didn’t enjoy Drew’s humor as he had to pass by the slim space in the kitchen and was equally unenthusiastic about his desire to make stops. They rerouted from Florida to Wisconsin pretty quickly after Harry made his priorities clear, and it was nice to see Drew decide to show up there to support Harry even after he flew on his own to do it by himself. Harry’s openness to making a tourist stop on the way home was also a positive development, and I imagine he may have a somewhat more optimistic outlook when he returns home, even if he’s still in mourning over the loss of his longtime partner. Spencer asking Bette out again helped make that storyline decently appealing, and though it has many double entendres, it’s still rather PG-rated since it’s all innuendo. I was delighted to see Katie Finneran, who will soon be appearing in a much more dramatic role on “The Gilded Age,” as Gina’s sister Natalie, who expressed anger at Gina thinking that her vocal chords surgery was a scam but then revealed a miraculously healed singing voice when she came through the money and joined her onstage for a duet.

Round Two: Pivoting

Pivoting: Season 1, Episode 2 “My Friend Died!” (B+)

I like just how extreme and committed these characters are, particularly Amy, who was so upset that the barista wouldn’t honor the expired gift card that she took what she felt the value was in cups and other things from the coffee shop. She’s also become a hypochondriac, worried that anything she thinks looks suspicious could be the sign of impending death, which meant that Henry’s casual eagerness to do a particular run got her very upset. Of course, she was the one who hit him with her car after her accidentally butt-dialed her while panting, but she didn’t want to seem like a hypocrite, so she had to chug the piping hot coffee so that he wouldn’t be able to identify the artificial sugar she hadn’t actually given up. Sarah getting named employee of the month meant that she alienated her fellow employees, and I like that, after showing up at the news of an apparent emergency, Amy and Jodie pivoted to supporting her nemesis Rudy and reminding Sarah that her competitive, academic spirit often meant more work for everyone around her to do. Jodie’s relationship with her trainer continues to get more complicated, and she didn’t like that he called her a mom when she gave him a superhero band-aid. But that hug undid all the work she had tried to do to get out of it, and that obsession is going to continue for some time, surely leading to more hijinks related to tight-fitting clothing that doesn’t really allow her to move.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 2 “Call Me By My Middle Name” (B+)

Kat is definitely an over-sharer who isn’t good at reading boundaries, and so having her explain what was happening with Oscar and Max to a random customer whose drink she was also in the process of spilling was a predictable introduction to this episode. I did enjoy that Oscar was just thrilled that Kat picked him over Max, and that after some awkwardness with Max coughing when he saw them kissing and everyone getting hurt as a result, things shifted to Oscar and Max trying to be friends. Kat playing piano so that Max would listen to her was a good start, but it was also bad timing to set her boyfriend up with the man she used to love because she went overboard on her celebration of a mini-anniversary. Fortunately, Oscar took it a lot better than Ben did, and made the important note that Kat had to tell him in the future if something mattered to her so that he could make sure to be there. Max had some trouble initially verbalizing an apology to Oscar, but he did much better after that and the two are sure to be friends for a while now. A highlight of Kat’s reaction to the whole situation was her throwing out all the food Phil had just baked, prompting him to stand up for the unduly punished goods. Randi had more trouble keeping her new relationship secret, and Carter learning her middle name almost made her break things off with Peter Backpack. Now that it’s all going to be out in the open, I’m curious to see how things are going to work.

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 11 “Punch / Musht” (B+)

We don’t see quite enough of Hazel on this show when things are focused on the adults, and so it was good to take a break from the new relationships that both Riley and Lizzie are in to return to the child who has a lot of sense for someone with so few years on this earth. Her getting in trouble for punching someone at school elicited very different reactions from her two parents, and Riley being more open to the idea that there could have been a legitimate reason for her to hit someone did not sit well with Vanessa at all. That she went back to apologize to him and then ended up hitting him again was a humorous but unfortunate development, and it’s hard to earn points for sticking up for those who are being mocked or treated unfairly when you’re also in the wrong. Any hopes of Riley and Vanessa getting back together have surely been dashed by this point, and Riley wasn’t too open to Freddy’s perspective even though the two of them have been getting along better recently than they were a while back when Riley was still obsessed with winning back his ex-wife. Al, Art, and Lizzie also offer helpful perspectives, and Hazel is lucky to be able to benefit from multiple opinions that surround her and help mold her into a surely very opinionated and resilient individual who is absolutely best described as precocious with a bit of devilishness mixed in for good measure.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

What I’m Watching: And Just Like That

And Just Like That: Season 1, Episode 7 “Sex and the Widow” (B+)

Opening with Carrie writing through all the seasons in her window suggested the passage of time, but it doesn’t feel like all that much has changed. I recognized Ashlie Atkinson from her far more terrifying role on “Mr. Robot” as Carrie’s editor Amanda, who wanted to push her to add an element of hope that just wasn’t part of Carrie’s mindset into the book. Oprah being interested is a big deal, and of course she wants her to go on a date and start thinking about a new chapter. Seema was all over making her a dating profile, and her first match seemed to be a good fit. I almost didn’t recognize Jon Tenney from “The Closer” as Peter, better known as Professor Puke, and I’m glad that he ultimately bid more on Carrie after Charlotte bid against herself and then Carrie threw her own higher number in, which was quite awkward. Harry and Charlotte taking on Herbert and Lisa in tennis doubles was a fun opportunity for both couples to see the uncomfortable nature of their public fighting, with Herbert and Lisa returned when he tried to abandon her during the auction after talking down to her all night. Miranda’s text about Nya not being pregnant being read aloud was unfortunate, and that father whose baby she almost hit was not happy with her at all. Miranda’s attempt to recreate the excitement she felt with Che with Steve failed miserably, and she got out the energy she needed by seeing Che again in a planned context, though she’s only making her attraction stronger and impossible to resist repeating.

Take Three: Peacemaker

Peacemaker: Season 1, Episode 3 “Chapter 03: Better Goff Dead” (B+)

We’re stuck in the same place as Peacemaker, knowing not much more than he does and finding it out along with him. In the case of the butterfly, seeing how Senator Goff’s family walked like zombies and then ate their honey goop with long tongues was appropriately enlightening, as was seeing the butterfly crawl out of his face after Peacemaker finally shot him. Not having his signature emblem etched onto his weapon did a number on him, and he’s going to have to reconsider whether he’s cut out for the work he’s supposed to be doing. Vigilante had no trouble just getting in there and taking the shots for him, but he ended up getting tortured as a result when he got taken into the house and unmasked while Senator Goff tried to extract information from Peacemaker. Judomaster’s banter with Peacemaker was pretty entertaining, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more of him thanks to Economos’ quick actions with no one else around, an occurrence that seems to be happening with startling frequency. I enjoyed Economos and Murn talking about how’s never shared a feeling and then both arguing with Leota about her very correct point that it’s Berenstain Bears, not Berenstein. Leota has some work to do with getting the team to trust and respect her, and if they ever find out who her mother is, she’s just going to have to start over.

Round Two: Peacemaker

Peacemaker: Season 1, Episode 2 “Chapter 02: Best Friends For Never” (B+)

I’m loving just how much this show lets its main character, and honestly all of its characters, just be who they are and spout entertaining lines as they attempt to clean up all their messes. I very much enjoyed the introduction of Amber and Evan, the couple that was so busy fighting that they barely cared that they were being tied up by an intruder and who then were relieved to be bribed by Leota. Amber’s flirtation with Peacemaker was also a lot of fun, though Evan wasn’t too amused by it. There’s humorous banter to be found everywhere, including with the cops, played by Annie Chang and Lochlyn Munro, who delight at the opportunity to question bigots like Auggie and then later come back to arrest them. John’s game-time framing of Auggie as the culprit probably wasn’t a great idea given that he’s now being saluted as a Hitler-like icon in prison, and however much Peacemaker wants to be good, his father is intent on being as vile as possible and not apologizing for it. I’m eager to see more of the team dynamics and to have each of them shine, particularly Leota, whose connection to her mother is going to remain secret for a while as she proves herself to be competent. I also like the Vigilante, who had to promise Peacemaker that he wasn’t taking any pleasure in watching him from the window, however skinny and not muscular his face may have been, hidden under his helmet.

Pilot Review: Peacemaker

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, January 19, 2022

Pilot Review: Wolf Like Me

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

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 7, Episode 8 “Paranoid Android” (B+)

I liked this episode a lot since I’m all about people trying to counteract their programming, which in this case was specifically robotic and hard to achieve. The idea that the robots believe that they’re the real legends and that they’re hunting the robots who are destroying the timeline is inherently interesting, and this was also plenty of fun since all these characters are sloppier or more exaggerated versions of the people we’ve come to know. They’re also not so quick on the uptake, with Spooner and Behrad vowing to avenge Astra and Zari even after they came back to life following their Dr. Sharpe reboots. Sara being the one to realize that what they were doing wasn’t right made sense since she is a natural leader – apparently programmed with too much leadership ability – and the critical mistake that she and Zari made was that they broke the news to the team before shutting Gideon down, giving the evil computer the chance to corrupt Zari with the allure of enhanced intelligence. It is not good news that Sara was then reset so that she could be a ruthless killing machine whose methods were even grimmer than the robot legends could have predicted in their popcorn-fueled screening session. The ending Citizen Steel bullying promo made reference to John Cena, a curiously-timed reference given that Cena is playing Peacemaker, a DC character who would be fun to see on this show but whose production rights I think would prohibit that from happening.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 11 “Camping Tent, $39.99” (B+)

One of the things I love most on shows, especially comedies, is when characters who don’t often interact get to spend a lot of time together. We’ve seen the friendship between outlaws Marina and Denise before, but not as much of Marina and Sarah sharing scenes. Tom’s mistake was mentioning to Marina that Sarah didn’t like her when she first met her, and I liked that things came to a head when they were attempting to carry out the “sisterhood agenda” for their daughters and nieces. Fortunately, it all turned into a marshmallow fight and a good opportunity to get closer. Tom’s efforts to “set the table” so that Denise could get used to the idea of Connor and Jojo being together wasn’t a great plan, and Tom being historically not good at keeping secrets made it clear that he was going to blab about their relationship before it could be revealed in the proper way. He shouldn’t have confirmed what she knew without asking her to say it first, but then that meant that Denise switched into a different mode, trying to get them back together when she wasn’t at all supportive of the relationship in the first place. Connor’s attempt to convey Denise’s “Sharknado” analogy fell flat, and Jojo seemed like she was headed for the exit when she thought he was reading too much into a future that they hadn’t even contemplated yet. Denise expressing a desire to be closer to Jojo and wishing that she had told her about the relationship was a good step for their dynamic, which should hopefully only improve now that they’ll be spending even more family time together.

Take Three: The Book of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett: Season 1, Episode 3 “Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa” (B+)

Life on Tattooine doesn’t seem all that pleasant, both in the past with the Tusken Raiders being killed when Boba went to collect the protection money and in the present when he was nearly killed by a Wookiee while he was in the Bacta Tank. He’s gotten better about knowing who to trust in the present, and he came up with a great solution to multiple problems that ultimately ended up saving his life. This episode presented two great new guest stars, beginning with the Emmy-nominated Stephen Root, who I’ve watched in shows like “True Blood,” “Perry Mason,” and “Barry,” as Lortha Peel the watermonger. The other was Danny Trejo as a Rancor trainer who may not be all about Boba’s timeline but is probably open to helping him achieve the goal he has. The Hutt twins are leaving but with an ominous warning for Boba, one that suggests he has many enemies just waiting for his demise. Enlisting the help of the half-droid kids who owed Lortha money was a smart plan, and they kicked into gear in a spectacular way for this episode’s standout chase scene, which found the Majordomo trying to get away through thin streets before getting cornered and revealing the information he was so desperately trying to protect. The Mayor is powerful and doesn’t seem interested in ensuring Boba’s success, and fortunately he has a loyal group of supporters, namely the half-droids and Fennec, who are set on serving him and helping him to accomplish what he wishes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 2 “One Giant Leap” (B+)

It’s nice to get some good news every once in a while, and even though this episode did include a few false starts and seemingly unpleasant developments, everything worked out wonderfully in the end. I like that, even though Nicky didn’t call ahead to make sure it was the right Sally, they found her easily, and she just needed a bit of reminding to have memories of Nicky come flooding back to her. Things got uncomfortable at dinner with Sally’s husband Eric, played by Jeffrey Nordling from “Big Little Lies,” hearing about how Sally “deflowered” Nicky in her van, but there was also evidently more trouble in their marriage that came out in the form of Sally and Rebecca bonding following her thoughtless comment about possibly having early onset Alzheimer’s. Everyone sharing the things that keep them up at night, like Miguel worrying about his seven lost strands over the course of thirty years, was a nice opportunity for bonding, and what was best – and most realistic – is that Nicky got some closure. He was happy to see his photo on the wall, and even apparently open to meeting someone else on his flight, Vanessa Bell Calloway’s flight attendant Edie, who we got confirmation is his wife in the future. Déjà also had a positive reunion with Malik, threatened initially by the strong presence of his ex Jennifer but ultimately leading to a warm and positive night where she made a choice she wanted to make. I’m wondering whether we’re going to spend more time in the future as this show nears its end or continue only to get glimpses like what we’ve seen so far.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois (Season Premiere)

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 1 “What Lies Beneath” (B+)

I had forgotten how the first season of this show ended even though the finale was just a few months ago, with Natalie arriving and seeing someone she thought was her dead mother. Her adjustment to being in Smallville has evidently not been going too well, and moving in to the Kent home might help with that. It’s a good thing that the romantically-inclined Kent brothers are technically related to her, and therefore nothing untoward is going to happen until the farm roof. Clark did a good job of giving a sex talk that his kids responded to rather well, while Lois was so thrown off by her feelings of guilt about Natalie that she reacted very harshly to finding Jonathan in bed with Candice. Jordan is much more into Sara at the moment that she is into him, and I imagine it has something to do with a summer romance at camp. It’s nice to see this nice version of Kyle, who’s able to give his daughter good love life advice and even get Lana to smile, prompting his daughter to remind them that they have their own room. While it would be hard to describe General Lane as warm, Lieutenant Anderson isn’t particularly friendly, and it’s going to be an issue that Lane’s replacement doesn’t consider Superman to be an unconditional friend. Saving a North Korean sub was an extremely human thing to do, but it’s not in America’s best interests. There’s plenty going on in Smallville that seems to be concerning, so both Clark and Superman are going to have a busy calendar.