Monday, February 28, 2022

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 9 “Trust Issues” (C)

I’m not sure why it is that this show is sticking to some of these plotlines, and I wish that it would continue to move on to new threats in the way that it did with the Kleinsassers and then this whole cartel storyline. Why Ronald is still alive is a total question mark, and it’s going to take multiple episodes for Mark to end act on his cereal recollection, which means Ronald and Scarlet are likely to be gone by the time he does go after them. Wolf dragging his feet because he doesn’t “know the dosage” to properly “put down” Ronald was entirely unnecessary, and he shouldn’t have been nearly as surprised as he was that Scarlet managed to take Agatha out right before she killed her. I don’t know what can possibly happen with them now, and it’s not nearly as interesting as the cartel drama, which itself isn’t all that airtight or compelling. Gary may be a sensei, but he’s really not bright and didn’t do a good job at all of defending his student. Bridger was acting like a brat when he should have been more appreciative of his friends, and now both Jenny and Bridger’s parents are aware of what happened, but likely not ready to go up against the two different cartel siblings who are losing patience. And then there’s Travis, who got caught in a lie with Dietrich about not having killed T-Lock and somehow might manage to survive this whole ordeal.

What I’m Watching: Pivoting

Pivoting: Season 1, Episode 8 “Doompa-Dee Doo” (B+)

There were some humorous character interactions in this episode that we don’t always see, and some unplanned if somewhat expected developments that came about as a result. Sarah’s eagerness to suddenly say yes to everything should have led to her staying in a very long bath and then getting out when she was done, but instead Jodie’s perfectly-organized systems got in the way and she ended up literally running into a naked Dan on her way out. Dan responding to Jodie’s accidentally-sent enthusiastic text about sex with a thumbs up indicates just how oblivious he is, and how much of a stark contrast that is to Matt’s complimentary nature, which found him taking the time to repeat his comment about Jodie’s fit form as she was escaping out the basement window of his house when his mom came home. I thought that there might be a run-in with his mom and that she would end up being someone Jodie knew, but I guess we’ll have to save that for the future given that their relationship is very much alive. Amy lobbying for a better part in the show for her son by giving Mr. Higgins drugs wasn’t that far from the norm of her behavior, and it only got more entertaining when Henry ended up trading hair pills to him to get the role reduced back down again. Though they’re not always honest with each other at the start, Amy and Henry do seem to be most capable of opening up and ultimately sharing the things they should have talked about before they did them.

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 2, Episode 14 “Osteoporosis, Benihana and a Slinky” (B)

It’s interesting to see this show evolve and add new elements to its preexisting characters and the new direction of the plot. In this case, that involves giving Norma something to do other than make wisecracks, introducing her even more irritable sister, Irene, played by Rondi Reed, who I last saw as Mrs. Yost in season two of “Why Women Kill.” She’s definitely unpleasant, and echoed Norma when talking to Gina when they both told her not to make their rivalry about her, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to last before it becomes just as grating as Irene is. Asking for better pillows and giving Gina money to go buy them for her is going to require more attention than any other resident, and hopefully Gina won’t be too nice to just endure it. Spencer’s big night with Bette went pretty well, and aside from a brief visit from Gideon when he accidentally pressed the emergency call button, they seem headed in a good direction. Harry setting Drew up with his great-niece was a disaster from the very start, but he managed to escape that nightmare without much trouble. I was glad that Drew just came out with it and expressed his love for Gina as a fact that he was pretty sure she already knew – and reciprocated. But, for whatever reason, she wasn’t ready to say it back, and he responded in a rather annoyed fashion. She’ll surely try, but she won’t be able to hide from this newly awkward relationship forever.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 8 “Call Me Señor Don Gato” (B)

A good chunk of this episode was quite predictable, but it still managed to be fun nonetheless. Carter not thinking that waiting in line for sneakers for CJ was Kat’s “scene” was on the right track, and she expectedly got distracted by a cat in need and thought that everyone she had previously sung with would be willing to let her get back in line. I haven’t done much of that, so I’m not sure if it really happens that way, but I have a feeling they might be somewhat more understanding, even if both of them got out of line. Fortunately, Kat managed to find a way to fix things and get a pair for Carter in the end, and he opened up to her about feeling like he needs to compete with his ex-wife for who can move on first. Randi’s efforts to have a quiet night alone failed miserably, and I most appreciate Max stopping by to get a more detailed opinion from Randi and ultimately concluding that her take meant most to him, especially since she was able to offer him the best advice. Sheila and Oscar were a smart pair, even if Sheila pushed him to a place where he didn’t entirely remedy his situation. Phil always seems to have cat- or food-related hijinks, and needing models with the right private parts to get his cookies just right was an amusing diversion that got everyone involved in the end to help with his penis (cookie) emergency.

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 14 “Kiss / Maach” (B+)

It’s fun to see this friendship blossom between Lizzie and Lois, and to watch how it affected Art, first through jealousy and then legitimate concern about taking away another mother figure from Lois if they ever broke up. The impact of them spending so much time together is much likelier to have an adverse effect on Lizzie’s life since she’s still very far from fifty and therefore might regret something like, say, bursting in during a class to plant a kiss on her very frazzled boyfriend. Brett seemed quite pleased even if he didn’t expect it, and I imagine that will accelerate the progression of their slow-moving relationship. It was funny to hear Wayne warn Riley not to go to Vanessa and tell her he knew what it was like for her to have a spouse away at war, and even though she was confused about why he was there, his surprise visit went pretty well. My favorite plotline from the episode started with Hazel asking Riley for $20 just to have “pocket money,” followed up by an equally unsuccessful ask from Al and then her needing to get a job. Al’s hatred of dogs didn’t stop him from following her to make sure she was safe and then insisting that she not give up when she started to find the work too difficult. She used that to her advantage the next morning by forcing him to get up with her at 5am by calling him a quitter, which even involved Riley’s half-awake participation.

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Season 1, Episode 5 “PA to LA” (B+)

It seemed like there would have to be something that went wrong during Tre’s visit, and his discomfort with Will have adjusted so quickly to it was just the beginning. Finding out that Will wanted to stay felt like the most unforgivable act of abandonment, and Will went right to Aunt Viv to express how unhappy and concerned he was that they weren’t going to be able to get past it. Tre did also manage to tell Carlton about Will’s gun charges, which undid any of the progress the two cousins had made at getting along and sent Carlton on the warpath. Having Lisa come over was an aggressive move, one that ultimately led to him trying to kiss her only to be told that she still felt that they couldn’t be together. Hilary’s big dinner party for her new housemates actually went pretty well, even with that worrisome prank, and Ashley got her own dose of affirmation from one of them that led her to confide in her big sister about a crush she had, which earned nothing but support from Hilary. That wasn’t the only instance of positive family interaction, with Viv telling Hilary she was proud of her, a simple sentence that seemed to heal a lot of the friction between them. Phil going viral for what he said to one of Hilary’s housemates was a good thing, and presumably it might be enough to allow him to win despite his defund-the-police stance, something that has already invited attack ads. I was pleased to see Michael Ealy as a new man in Viv’s life, someone who isn’t going to lure her away from her husband romantically but is definitely going to encourage her to get back into her passion.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

What I’m Watching: Resident Alien

Resident Alien: Season 2, Episode 5 “Family Day” (B+)

There’s so much that Harry doesn’t know about the man whose life he assumed, and of course he would have a daughter who hadn’t really come up before and who happened to hate him. I like that she was featured so heavily in this episode and that they got close enough that, should she come back at another point, it would make sense and she could be an ally for him, but this could just as easily be the only time we see her. Though she has many credits to her name, I don’t think I’ve seen Taylor Blackwell before, but she was great in this role, and my favorite part of her appearance was her response to Asta losing patience with her when she was trying so hard to be a welcoming and friendly adult. Asta entering the spicy eating content to get back at D’Arcy was a fun moment since we don’t usually get to see her being irresponsible, and I like that they reconciled and have a stronger bond than ever. Mike was right to be concerned about his lost time, but going to Harry was a mistake since now he has an even more intense fake memory in there that’s going to prompt him not to ask any more questions. Ben’s play was an absolute disaster, and the amount of enthusiasm he had for it, not to mention the percentage of the town budget he spent to put it on, is truly ridiculous. I’m very curious to see who Harry and Asta encounter in New York, and whether it’s connected to David and his new alien ball paperweight.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 14 “Salsa Competition Entry Fee, $45” (B+)

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that everyone in Connor’s family knows Lupe better than he does, even though they spend so much time together and she does nearly everything for him. Having him reluctantly step in to be her salsa dancing partner was a fun opportunity for them to get closer on a real level, and I’m glad that we didn’t see him goofing off and flailing, instead just trying to keep up with Marina’s intense teaching method. Her F.U.N. method definitely wasn’t a lot of fun, but it was entertaining to see Gretchen as her assistant who had just as little confidence in Connor’s ability to deliver on the dance floor. I didn’t mind that we didn’t see them doing everything and instead just got that closing shot of them doing a slight move as they walked past each other in Connor’s house. Coming in fourth place but defeating her ex was a great way for them to have a successful experience that helped her move on. Tom’s vasectomy didn’t just make him think he spilled the soup he was never given, but instead led him to tell Denise precisely the secret he wasn’t supposed to share with her, which made things difficult for Sarah, whose reservations about having a baby hadn’t exactly been kept subtle to that point. Denise reacted strongly at first but it was good to see them come around to being on the same page. The pregnancy storyline is sure to dominate things for a while on this show, but I think that should be very worthwhile and enjoyable.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 13 “Pregnancy Test, $12.98” (B+)

This definitely wasn’t a typical Valentine’s Day episode, and I liked the pairings of people that we saw. Jojo probably would have been better off sticking to Connor’s insanely fancy Silo dinner experience since their quiet night alone at his place got interrupted, but everything did work out in the end. The pizza arriving for Jojo and Gretchen calling for her were the dead giveaways, and I enjoyed the comments how Emily quickly understood why Jojo was there. She was not polite in how she spoke to Jojo, and laughing when she said she was an influencer was not a great start. But some eavesdropping on her part led to Jojo understanding that Emily wasn’t rushing to leave because she too didn’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day. Helping her create a profile on a dating app was very much in Jojo’s wheelhouse, and it humorously led to Connor feeling left out. Tom and Sarah got to bond about their negativity and inability to understand their wives at the absurd and oft-introduced Silo, and they were of course very off about what it was that was upsetting them until Marina didn’t want more wine and gave the whole thing away. I always like when Marina and Denise spend time together away from others, and in this case Marina’s panic led Denise to exactly the opposite realization about what she wanted, which makes it look like we’ll soon see Denise trying to experience something she never has before, which is sure to change things up.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 7, Episode 12 “Too Legit to Quit” (B+)

This episode felt a whole lot like disbanding the team and heading towards its end, and it turns out I was completely wrong about what I thought was this show’s secure future. Typically, it’s been renewed by this point in its run each year, but the less than six-week gap between seasons six and seven has made it feel like this had been going nonstop for a while. I also had no idea that the next episode is the last of this season, and while none of the CW’s shows have been renewed yet, this might well be it. It didn’t feel right that everyone would just agree to retire and never see each other again, but it’s not clear how they’d be able to reach each other even if they do all have those duplicated keys. Gary getting jettisoned by the evil Gideon after the good Gideon confessed that Alun was a robot feels like a move that won’t be permanent given his likelihood of survival as an alien in the temporal zone, something that both Gideons should have known he’d be able to do. Gwyn killing the robot and vowing to save Alun is an interesting development, one that I hope will somehow unite the team for an epic finale. I do hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this show, and the fact that there’s no word at all suggests that it will in all likelihood be renewed, which I’d be happy to see, even if its format may be new given recent plot points.

What I’m Watching: Pam and Tommy

Pam and Tommy: Season 1, Episode 6 “Pamela in Wonderland” (B)

This is the second consecutive episode that ran just over thirty minutes, a stark difference from the earlier installments that were much closer to an hour. While I recognize that this is a tendency of streaming series to be inconsistent in length depending on the available and relevant content of a particular episode, it does feel jarring, especially considering that not much happened in this episode. It was largely Tommy-free, focused instead on Pamela’s own journey, one that involved a very positive relationship with Playboy and Hugh Hefner that didn’t feel like it was taking advantage of her in the way that she had expected or that the lawyer questioning her thought it would. John Billingsley, an actor I originally saw on “Enterprise” who has been in plenty since then, was a perfect choice to play the condescending lawyer whose main goal was to prove that Pamela regularly got paid for showing her naked body, and that the tape shouldn’t be any different. It was good to see that Pamela seemingly ditched her boyfriend who didn’t want her to model for Playboy and that she went for her first shoot with her mom, but now she’s dealing with all of this without any support. Paul Ben-Victor’s lawyer put up a decent fight against the onslaught of questions, but she’s not happy with that, and we have two episodes to see how this case resolves and whether the man actually responsible for this mess – one very disgruntled carpenter – will be held accountable for stealing the tape in the first place.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 6 “Our Little Island Girl: Part Two” (B+)

This show has done this before, tacked on a supplement to previous titles of much earlier installments, in this case a season three episode. I appreciated seeing “Alias” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” actor Carl Lumbly again as Beth’s father, as well as Goran Višnjić as Vincent, the dance teacher who crushed Beth’s spirit. It’s nice to know that Susan Kelechi Watson wrote this episode, one that pays tribute to Beth’s enduring goodness and how she wanted to be an entirely different kind of mentor than Vincent was for her. While it’s still disconcerting to see Beth in the future apart from Randall, though that doesn’t necessarily mean anything since those flash-forwards could be at unrelated times, having her get tickets to see Stacey in “The Nutcracker” was a sweet and heartwarming resolution to that plotline. Paralleling Sophie leaving after Kevin told her what he did and Kate didn’t with Madison having to break the news that she wanted to be with the twins at her own Thanksgiving was very effective, and I like the idea that Kate might rekindle her friendship with Sophie since she could use a support system whose relationship with her brother is only slightly less complicated. Seeing Toby put all his energy into work and not realize the strain it’s putting on his marriage is unsettling, and his harsh reaction to Kevin trying to give him friendly advice was particularly off-putting. Elijah being honest with Kevin about being seen as the nice guy was a solid moment, one that should be a wake-up call to Kevin about what his future needs to look like with a woman who is the mother of his children but not his romantic partner.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 5 “Girl... You'll Be a Woman, Soon” (B)

It’s good to see that, even if they’re having severe issues with members of their own families, Sarah and Jordan are in a good place at the moment in their relationship. I liked her response to him offering to massage her feet, and the quinceañera, all told, went pretty well. Lana seems to know about Kyle’s previous infidelity, and her support of him could be the crucial thing that the campaign needs to withstand Mayor Dean’s attacks. All of that pales in comparison to the gradually uniting other plotlines, which linked Ally and Dr. Faulkner together just before the other Superman apparently killed Dr. Faulkner. Learning that he is trying to save his world is an interesting development, and that coupled with Chrissy’s very intense experience in another world suggest that everything might soon be getting turned upside down for all our characters. It’s probably not the best time, therefore, for Jonathan to be developing powers without telling an adult, something that’s likely exacerbated and influenced, whether positively or negatively, by the drugs he’s been taking. The jealousy he’s feeling towards his brother is understandable because they’re teenagers, but he’s not being smart about what’s happening to him, and it’s likely going to result in someone getting seriously hurt. Hopefully Sam will pay close enough attention to realize before that happens, and him not being involved in active duty, coupled with Clark’s desire to keep him out of it, should leave him undistracted so that he can find a way to train both of his grandsons to assist their father when he needs them most.

What I’m Watching: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 1, Episode 7 “Rivka Rebel” (B)

Sophie was understandably not all that thrilled that someone she really wanted to work with had only selected her because she was “halfway decent and available,” and that she would be photographing her daughter’s bat mitzvah as a test of her abilities. I had thought that bringing her best assistant would be the real challenge, but Valentina was very much up to the task, better equipped to talk to the nightmare tween social media starlet and ultimately ready to blackmail her into cooperation even though she hadn’t actually taken any drugs. Her cleverness could help lead to a major step in Sophie’s career, though Naomi seems like a nightmare boss. On the note of workplace performance, Charlie was spending way too much time obsessing over his positive Yelp reviews, and while I suspected it was Ellen who had left the negative ones, I didn’t expect Charlie to overdo it with his apology, writing a real Yelp review with Ellen’s actual phone number in it. Sid and Jesse’s bird makeup tutorial during their classic pound day took procrastination to a whole new level, but it did help Sid make an important decision about a wedding in India and Jesse to realize that he might have stronger feelings for Sophie than he realized. The brief interruption from the future from Sophie’s son indicating that Timothée Chalamet will become a pro wrestler was a humorous if entirely unbelievable note, given that the scrawny actor has carved out a solid niche for himself that doesn’t involve bulking up to please his fans.

Pilot Review: The Endgame

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

What I’m Watching: The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age: Season 1, Episode 5 “Charity Has Its Own Functions” (B+)

I had expected that Peggy might be angry at Marian for a much longer time, but they seem to have patched things up, even after Dorothy came and spoke to Marian about how Peggy really should be at home. It was great to see Peggy in action when she went for it and asked Clara questions for her article, horrifying Anne, who somehow associated the undesirable Bertha with a woman who had just met her. Clara did have a legitimate opinion about both Bertha and Mrs. Chamberlain, that it didn’t matter to her what someone’s background or social standing was if they had money that they wanted to use to support her cause. We only got to see him for a moment, but Nathan Lane made a grand entrance with quite the accent as Mr. McAllister, and I hope that we’ll see him again. Peggy stepped in as Tom and Marian were kissing in the hallway, acting partially as Agnes’ spy and also as a friend to make sure that Tom didn’t take advantage of Marian before she decided what she wanted. Gladys was much more certain of her feelings, but that didn’t stop her parents from conspiring to send her poor suitor away with a job offer that he had to take or find his future irreversibly destroyed as punishment. Oscar hiring a spy to keep him informed about the Russell household is a productive development for multiple parties, though, as we saw when George woke up in bed to find Turner next to him, the Russells are very perceptive and not forgiving when they find out that people have been conspiring against them. They’ll be busy dealing with the aftermath of this deadly train crash, something with the potential to completely ruin their endeavors.

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer: Season 3, Episode 5 “A New Life” (B)

This episode was more interesting and focused than the one that came before it, showing us some action on the way to New Eden as the new miracle baby was born. Opening with Zara narrating as Layton survived an explosion indicated that it wasn’t going to be a breeze, and that even though children were celebrating it with their own submissions of potential names, others were actively unhappy and trying to topple the stability of the train at that precise moment of transition. It does look like Pike is the one behind it, which suggests that he just wants to make trouble no matter who’s in charge, and that he favors a lawless system with no one telling him or anyone else what has to happen. Ruth is the best indicator of a new way of doing things, still excited about the positive traditions but less adherent to the rules that penalize those who might have done something wrong. It’s also interesting to see how Wilford is being treated as he recovers slowly, with Alex sitting there and reading to him to ensure that he’ll continue to be useful rather than to actually care about his condition. Audrey, on the other hand, was devastated about how he might be doing, and Till helped her get back to a moderately stable place as she serenaded the train in far more casual and human fashion than she used to back when Melanie was in charge. Sykes also did a good job of relating to Javi and showing him what recovery from their traumatic attacks can look like after some time. It was a nerve-wracking birth with two competing doctors and dropping temperatures, but all seems to be good for the time being, provided no one tries to grab or hurt that baby as a way of getting Layton to do their bidding.

Pilot Review: All American: Homecoming

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.

Friday, February 25, 2022

What I’m Watching: Somebody Somewhere

Somebody Somewhere: Season 1, Episode 6 “Life Could Be a Dream” (B+)

It seems like Joel’s relationship with Michael didn’t last past that mid-storm phone call, and while Joel shrugged it off when he told Sam, it was obviously not his choice, as we saw when Michael gave him some of his things and the Vitamix that he was going to give him for Christmas. The friendship that Sam and Joel have is truly very warm, and that made Sam quitting following a surprisingly positive performance review that imagined her there for years all the more difficult for him. Loudly complaining about how he didn’t like any of his other coworkers probably wasn’t his best move, and it’s going to be a tough adjustment which won’t be helped by him laughing uncontrollably when someone trips over a drawer. The family meeting at the rehab started out awkwardly and quickly devolved from there, with the fact that Mary Jo had never even mentioned Holly offensive enough to get both her daughters enraged. Sam going to sing to Holly’s grave and then to her mom was a powerful note on which to end the episode. It was good to see that Tricia found a very passive-aggressive way of communicating her feelings to Charity with the messages on the pillows, and that she then figured a way to keep the store open without having to see her every day when Coop came in to use the bathroom, blissfully unaware of the fact that his wife was cheating on him. That’s probably for the best given how Charity is trying to downplay it and how Tricia is not even remotely ready to move on.

What I’m Watching: The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 2, Episode 8 “The Prayer of a Righteous Man” (B+)

The flashback to Junior talking to his father pre-retirement and then getting betrayed and left by him was a serious misdirect, one that made it seem like Junior would have such an incredible axe to grind with the man who was responsible for covering up his father’s death. But that wasn’t the case at all, as Junior was happy to make peace with him and then broke the news that he hadn’t sent the motorcycle men. Finding that out at the same moment that we saw the police station get attacked as the cyclists were all rescued was not good, and the Gemstones are going to be woefully unprepared for the next ambush coming their way. Eli did give some important affirmation to all of his kids except for Jesse, which upset Amber greatly, and giving him the money for the hotel may be helpful, but it could be too late to repair some of the damage to Jesse’s reputation with his would-be partners and to his relationship with Amber, who understandably was not happy about being called a gold-digger. Judy cracking the bus door and making a dramatic speech was definitely unnecessary given that BJ was well aware that they should have offered for her to stay before she even got on the bus. I thought that Harmon was played by a Culkin brother but didn’t realize that it was Macaulay, who made a very fair request that his father, for once, decided to step up and honor, allowing his son to punch him as hard as he could in the face.

What I’m Watching: Euphoria

Euphoria: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Theater and It's Double” (B+)

This was one head trip of an episode, seeing Lexi’s play being performed and interspersing that with each of the characters reliving traumas that then were being shown on stage by actors portraying them. It’s so interesting to see Lexi step out and into the spotlight, taking the starring role in the play and also terrorizing her cast and crew while trying to put on the perfect show. Watching each of the audience members react to who was playing them was so telling, with Rue particularly pleased about the clear influence she has had on Lexi and Suze lapping up the hilarity of how she was being portrayed. Cassie seemed very upset by her characterization as vain and shallow, but it was Nate who got the most upset during that epic closing number where Ethan showed just how talented he is and the entire audience was applauding. While it would be nice to see certain relationships, like Rue and Jules or Maddy and Cassie, repaired, this is likelier to be more divisive, though it’s possible that Kat will be impressed by Ethan’s performance enough to finally be honest with him about what she wants. The look in Cassie’s eyes as she breathed heavily outside the door and those “To be continued” words appeared on screen was intense, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the older sister and her unseen sibling. Maddy turning into Jules with Nate and then Cal getting on top of him was an unexpected sequence of events, one that shows just how interrelated all these characters are and how they can’t rid themselves of each other. Fezco was doing his best to be there for Lexi but didn’t make it, suggesting an unfortunate resolution for one of this show’s most unexpectedly endearing characters.

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 6, Episode 5 “Rock of Eye” (B+)

Whatever the reason or the endgame, it’s not usually a good idea to bring someone new into a company without checking with other employees since it tends to be seen as a hostile move. In the case of Philip, who happened to be Scooter’s nephew, Prince had a clear plan, one that Victor, Tuk, and Ben Kim might not mind, but Bonnie wasn’t prepared to accept any sort of demotion. While it’s possible she may return, I do think that Sarah Stiles, a Tony-nominated actress, deserves better than what has essentially amounted to a bit part. Fortunately, her fellow Broadway alumna Condola Rashad has found even meatier material with Kate as she steps in to go further than Wendy might want her to and to help save Taylor when they made a bold and ultimately successful play. I enjoyed the fact that Mafee and Dollar Bill both thought the other was going to swap out the real burger for the vegan substitute and as a result did not. I had wondered how long it would take Chuck to find a replacement for Kate, and he did that almost right away. Though we haven’t seen Dave before on this show, actress Sakina Jaffrey has an extensive resume that includes regular roles on “Timeless,” “Defending Jacob,” and the part that’s probably most relevant for this show, “House of Cards.” It was interesting to see Prince’s family dinner with plenty of fanciness and discussion of principles, and his eventual decision to get Sweeney on board by naming the stadium after him. I’m not sure that Chuck Sr.’s love life is all that intriguing, but Wendy showing up to help him and concluding that she can’t do anything without being transactional is definitely a worthwhile focus.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

The competition: The Great, Hacks, The Kominsky Method, Only Murders in the Building, Ted Lasso

For your information: Unlike the corresponding drama race, this category has three returning nominees and two freshmen. “The Kominsky Method” is back for its third and final season, with star Michael Douglas nominated. While Nicholas Hoult was the only cast member from “The Great” cited last year, this year it’s just Elle Fanning. Jean Smart is the lone representative from “Hacks,” while both Steve Martin and Martin Short are up for “Only Murders in the Building.” Way ahead is “Ted Lasso” with four individual bids, for Jason Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein, Juno Temple, and Hannah Waddingham.

Who should win? I think this list is fantastic. While I absolutely wouldn’t mind seeing “Ted Lasso” or “Hacks” win since they’re both very deserving, “The Great” is my absolute top choice.

Who will win? With the possible exception of a “Hacks” upset, Ted Lasso has this in the bag.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

The competition: The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show, Squid Game, Succession, Yellowstone

For your information: While only “Squid Game” is a freshman series, the only returning nominee in this category is “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which earns its fourth overall nomination after it took last year off the air. It has one performer nominated, while “Squid Game” has two, “The Morning Show” has three, and “Succession” has four. Only “CSI” managed to win this prize, in 2004, with no performers singled out, which is the situation for “Yellowstone” this year. Repeat winners are very common. “Squid Game” is the first non-English series nominated in this category.

Who should win? I haven’t watched “Yellowstone” since the pilot and didn’t finish “Squid Game.” While it’s taken me a while to come around to it, I do think “Succession” is the right choice here, though “The Handmaid’s Tale” would still be a solid choice.

Who will win? It could be “Squid Game,” but I’m sticking with Succession.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus), Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha), Margaret Qualley (Maid), Jean Smart (Mare of Easttown), Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)

For your information: Erivo was nominated for her role in “Harriet.” Qualley contended as part of the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” ensemble. Smart was up as part of the “24” cast in 2006 and has another individual nomination this year for her performance in “Hacks,” as well as being nominated with its ensemble. Winslet has nine previous individual bids, which led to wins for “Sense and Sensibility,” “The Reader,” and “Mildred Pierce.” She earned three additional ensemble bids. Of the many times that two performers from one project have been nominated together, only once has one of them triumphed, when Drew Barrymore defeated costar Jessica Lange for “Grey Gardens” in 2008. When more than two performers were up from one project, it led on all three occasions to one of them winning, not that it’s the case this year.

Who should win? I didn’t watch all of Erivo or Qualley’s work. Coolidge was a delight and Smart was entertaining, but I think I’d probably give this to Winslet.

Who will win? It could be Coolidge or even Qualley, but Winslet feels like the safest bet.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie

The competition: Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus), Oscar Isaac (Scenes from a Marriage), Michael Keaton (Dopesick), Ewan McGregor (Halston), Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown)

For your information: Keaton is a three-time ensemble winner, for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Spotlight,” and “Birdman.” The latter also netted him an individual nomination, as did “The Company” in this category in 2007. McGregor has three previous ensemble bids, for “Little Voice,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “August: Osage County.” This is the first nomination for Bartlett, Isaac, and Peters. Five supporting actors have won this prize in this category’s twenty-six-year history. McGregor and Peters both won Emmys but weren’t up against any of these men, while Keaton triumphed over Isaac at the Golden Globes.

Who should win? I didn’t finish Isaac and Keaton’s shows. I think I’d vote for Bartlett just because he was so entertaining, but McGregor and Peters were also both terrific.

Who will win? I give the edge to Keaton over McGregor, but any of them are possible.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Elle Fanning (The Great), Sandra Oh (The Chair), Jean Smart (Hacks), Juno Temple (Ted Lasso), Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

For your information: This is not the first SAG nomination for any of these actresses, but it is the first for these roles. Fanning, Temple, and Waddingham were all nominated as part of their ensembles for their shows’ first seasons last year, and Fanning has an additional previous bid for the “Trumbo” cast back in 2015. Smart was up as part of the “24” cast in 2006 and has another nomination this year for her performance in “Mare of Easttown.” Oh has won two individual prizes, for “Killing Eve” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and two ensemble wins, for “Sideways” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” with two additional bids for the latter. All but Oh are also nominated as part of their ensembles. Supporting actresses have won this prize eleven times in twenty-six years. Out of ten times that two women from the same show have contended for this prize, only twice did it lead to a win, in 2018 for Rachel Brosnahan and last year for Catherine O’Hara. Waddingham beat Temple at the Emmys for season one of her show, and Smart won the lead actress prize.

Who should win? This is a terrific list. I’d love to see Fanning win but everyone else would be great too.

Who will win? I think Smart should be able to win this.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

The competition: Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso), Steve Martin (Only Murders in the Building), Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building), Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)

For your information: Sudeikis is the only returning nominee from last and also the defending champion. Douglas was nominated for his show’s two previous seasons and is back after its hiatus, and he has a previous win, for “Behind the Candelabra” in 2013, as well as an ensemble prize for “Traffic.” This is the first nomination for the other three, and all five also contend as members of their ensemble. Supporting actors have won this prize seven times in twenty-six years. This category adores repeat winners: between 2001 and 2020, only six different men triumphed. Just two of them – Ty Burrell and Jeffrey Tambor – were one-off winners, while Tony Shalhoub won for two years in a row twice for two separate shows and Alec Baldwin won seven times in a row. Two nominees from one show is a very frequent occurrence, but only twice in the history of this category has it led to one of those men winning – David Hyde Pierce in 1995 and Robert Downey Jr. in 2000. More importantly, this is the fifth time that two shows have earned double nominations, and that has always led to a different performer without fellow costars cited winning. At the Emmys, Sudeikis beat Douglas, and Goldstein won a supporting prize. Neither Martin or Short were eligible.

Who should win? This is a really great list, and anyone winning would make me happy. I’m not sure I have a favorite.

Who will win? While statistics would indicate that Douglas is the one to beat, and I do think it’s possible he could win, I imagine that Sudeikis has enough unquestionable support to net a second consecutive victory.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show), Jung Ho-yeon (Squid Game), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Sarah Snook (Succession), Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show)

For your information: Aniston won this prize on her last nomination for season one of this show. She has three additional previous nominations. Her costar Witherspoon has three previous nominations, with one win, for “Walk the Line” in 2005. This is Moss’ fourth nomination for this role, and she has three additional bids, for “Mad Men” and “Top of the Lake.” This category has had multiple nominees from a single series on many occasions, often leading to a victory for one of those actresses. Ho-Yeon is the first actor from a non-English show to be nominated in this category. All three represented series also have their ensembles nominated.

Who should win? Witherspoon actually impressed me quite a bit this season, and Snook would also be a good choice.

Who will win? It feels like Snook may actually be likeliest to win this.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Male Actor in a Drama Series

The competition: Brian Cox (Succession), Billy Crudup (The Morning Show), Kieran Culkin (Succession), Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game), Jeremy Strong (Succession)

For your information: The only returning nominee is Crudup, who was nominated for his show’s first season alongside costar Steve Carell. Cox was nominated in 2000 for his role in “Nuremberg.” This is the first individual nomination for everyone else, though Culkin was previously nominated for being part of the ensemble from “The Cider House Rules” and Strong won that prize last year as part of the cast from “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” At the Emmys, Crudup won for season one of his show and Strong beat Cox for season two of their series. This category has seen two nominees from a single show before but never three. Jung-jae is the first actor from a non-English show to be nominated in this category. All three represented series also have their ensembles nominated.

Who should win? It’s a good list, even if I wish more shows were represented. I would probably choose Culkin.

Who will win? While Jung-jae could benefit from a vote split, I think Strong continues his awards run.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 4, Episode 2 “Don’t Get Eaten” (B)

This show can definitely be strange sometimes, and I think that this is probably the last that we’ll see of that Villanelle-as-Jesus-the-devil device. So much for Villanelle starting over and proving that she had changed, since she instead ended up outing the vicar as having killed his wife while driving drunk and then stabbing both him and his daughter in the tent. I’ve never felt that Villanelle needed to become one of the good guys since it was far likelier than Eve would end up becoming a lot more like her. That journey hasn’t been seamless, with her enthusiasm for eating a steak revealed to be a clumsy attempt to smuggle a steak knife into her bag that her new partner very quickly caught. When Eve met with Martin, he had a good theory for her about Villanelle having suddenly found religion, suggesting that reinvention was merely a form of avoidance. But Eve did show her determination and her strong will when she went into Hélène’s home, allowed her to burn her hand, and then read her daughter a bedtime story. Since this show concluded its third season, I’ve had the chance to see actress Camille Cottin in “Stillwater” and “House of Gucci,” and she seems like a great fit for this role. Carolyn is also intensifying her efforts to get what she wants, though her Russian host isn’t too fond of what she’s trying to do and definitely doesn’t want to give her the access she wants to have.

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve (Season Premiere)

Killing Eve: Season 4, Episode 1 “Just Dunk Me” (B+)

It’s been almost two years since this show’s third season finished, and I honestly can’t remember much of it. But each season does seem to start with Villanelle in a new place under an assumed identity carrying out her latest con. In this case, however, she appeared to be most dedicated to having Eve recognize that she could now be a good person in service of God. Dunking and nearly drowning her friend-slash-lover and then hallucinating a weird devil-Jesus hybrid only this show could imagine indicates that she’s likely headed down a familiarly violent path. Eve, on the other hand, has changed, slapping Villanelle when she came to see her and shocking Konstantin by showing up to shoot him in the hand. Her new partnership is working out well, making both for an effective duo and plenty of double entendres when they’re not physically wrestling out in public. Carolyn seems beyond bored by her new job assignment, and offering to pay Eve to get her to do more research into the latest series of murders suggests that she’s just as in need of something worthwhile to do and to keep her busy as she is in need of the information she might produce. This is the show’s final season and I honestly don’t know what’s coming next, but following this opening with all of its characters scattered all over the place, I think it should a fun and typically twisted ride with some great interactions and explosive moments along the way.

What I’m Watching: Space Force (Season Finale)

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Hack” (B+)

It’s a shame that this season only has seven episodes, and I sincerely hope this won’t be the last we’ll see of this show. That’s especially true since we only got a brief tease of Jon Lovitz as Tony’s father and the rivalry between Tony and his sister, which I’d love to see more of in the future. Things started in this finale by loking up, with Mark trying to get his staff raises, Adrian reacting positively to Chan spilling the beans about his job offer, and the malfunction in the vending machine giving Adrian a lifetime supply of free candy. But then the sprinklers going off and the satellite losing communication gave way to the power going out, which I was thrilled about since it presented the perfect opportunity for the group to have to quickly write fake dialogue that could convince the hackers that they had done a much better job than they really had. Tony taking on Adrian’s part and Brad making noises as if Adrian the janitor was riding in on horseback were particular highlights. Angela having a panic attack in the elevator was also fun, with Chan calming her down and explaining why it was that he kept his glasses on during sex. Angela saving the day by taking over piloting duties and then deciding to stay when Mark promoted her to major was great, as was Chan realizing that he had much more to learn from Adrian. Even Erin isn’t going anywhere, ready to explore the rainforests of Colorado. I’m not sure there could have been a more fitting way to end the season than for them to realize that what Mark thought was a smudge on the lens was actually an asteroid headed towards Earth, with Adrian deciding that leading the team in “Kokomo” was the best way to distract from the terror they all felt. Let’s see a season three, please!

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: John Malkovich as Adrian

What I’m Watching: Space Force

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Doctor’s Appointment” (B+)

It was fun to open this episode with a few mostly terrible ideas about a new theme for Space Force and then to hear one of them played over the brief opening credits sequence for this show. Mark was far too distracted by his efforts to appear strong and capable to believe Adrian’s diagnosis that he might have a kidney stone, and of course Brad’s total incompetence would lead to its removal being streamed to the main screen for everyone to see. Mark’s very real doctor’s appointment, which he of course walked out of minutes into it because he doesn’t believe in therapy, caused serious panic among those who were rightfully worried that Space Force might not continue to have its funding and that Mark might be on his way out. Angela and Tony teaming up to go to a real estate seminar just led to them bragging about Angela having been on the moon, and Chan wasn’t happy to see the two of them being so close. Chan has the harder decision to make given that his complete excitement about the virtual SpaceX tour got him the job and not Adrian, who couldn’t stand it and who vomited repeatedly into a trash can during that demo. I like that Erin, who was given a job that even Chan admitted wasn’t actually that important, ended up serving a much greater purpose by reminding a desperate Captain Lancaster of the sounds and feelings of food and fresh air. That Time Magazine cover came out just fine, but the accompanying story is not going to make Mark or any of his current colleagues very happy.

What I’m Watching: Space Force

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 5 “Mad (Buff) Confidence” (B+)

I like when characters get invested in particular things and apply much more effort than they usually one to that area of interest. That was the case for multiple characters in this episode, which was fun. Chan and Angela using their mentees to compete and then argue very publicly about the status of their relationship was entertaining, especially when Chan’s mentee knew that he was being lured into a trap by Angela saying that he was the best sex she had ever had. I do think there’s still hope for them as a couple, but it doesn’t look great at the moment. Tony was uncharacteristically motivated to make this product partnership work, and Mark was actually impressed by the ad he put together, which was far more toned-down and respectful than what they ended up producing. Adrian taking such an interest in Erin’s academic future was fun because he literally hid next to a vending machine so that he wouldn’t be seen. It turns out that Erin did take her advice to be truthful and honest about what she wanted, and it sounds like it went well for her even if she wasn’t at all into taking the next steps that might come from her successful transparency. Maggie has gotten quite aggressive since serving Mark with divorce papers, and that makes the two of them being co-parents even more difficult than it already is. I enjoyed seeing the confused look on Mark’s face when Erin mentioned her stock market performance.

What I’m Watching: Space Force

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Europa Project” (B)

This wasn’t the most sophisticated use of one of the seven precious episodes we’ll get this season, but there was still humor to be found. Mark reacting in a very serious and unforgiving way when a prank was played on him while he was in the middle of a meeting was the obvious setup for him to pull one of his own, which ended up catching all of them off-guard. It was definitely awkward when he announced on the loudspeaker that he was impressed with the prank that he had been served with divorce papers, which would have been extremely inappropriate had it been the case and which was quite evidently the real thing. I wonder if we’ll ever learn what Maggie did to result in her being incarcerated for decades, and I assume that it’s a secret that the showrunners will wait to reveal for a long time, which won’t be a great idea since this show could easily not be renewed for a third season (though I hope it will be). I did enjoy that Tony was willing to help Chan as hype man when Chan made him so uncomfortable by stuffing an incredible number of nuggets into his mouth, and Tony did come through with quite the presentation on his best bud’s behalf. While I thought the encounter might dig further into Tony being single and Angela helping him with that, it turned instead into Angela asking Tony to break up with Chan for her, which he did thanks to an equally strong presentation that caught the devastated Chan far more by surprise.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What I’m Watching: Space Force

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 3 “The Chinese Delegation” (B+)

Erin may have invested away her college fund, but she doesn’t appear to have great prospects for her future either, with Mark trying to drum up enthusiasm about her career as a cement mason while Maggie suggests bribing a coach to put her on a sports team because she’s already in prison and doesn’t mind an extended sentence. She did do much better by her father’s side when he had to meet the Chinese representatives, and I enjoyed all of the preparation they went through to make sure that he would be on his best and most culturally sensitive behavior. Tony knowing how to speak the language was a definite surprise, and I like that Chan had to point out that he is Chinese. The general showing up in a cowboy hat indicated that they were also making their misguided attempts to seem friendly, or maybe just to mock them, like Adrian’s nemesis, who was convinced that there was an actor playing the astronaut who had landed on the moon decades earlier. The friendship between Tony and Chan is endearing and funny, and it was great to see them celebrate that Angela had put the astronaut in the friend zone even though she didn’t appear to be open to a relationship with Chan either. Mark and the general bonding over how annoying the people they have to work with were was a terrific opportunity for them to drink a ton by themselves and end up compromising right in the middle before Mark was about to start saying things he definitely didn’t mean and the general just collapsed on the floor. Mark behaving a bit less rigidly is fun to see, and it was nice that Erin was able to bring him home and take care of him when he needed it.

What I’m Watching: Space Force

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 2 “Budget Cuts” (B+)

I couldn’t contain my laughter at three separate moments in this episode, all involving Angela, and nearly spat out the water I was drinking at one point. Saying “Earp” rather than “Earth” after otherwise perfectly reciting the party line was the first moment, nearly eating the anchorman’s earpiece was the second, and saying “in in” instead of “within” was the third. There’s something just so simple and amazing about Tawny Newsome’s delivery that makes the smartest person on this show so funny when she just doesn’t say the right word. Chan holding a focus group with his colleagues to figure out if Angela was into him or not was entertaining, and Erin gave some pretty good advice to him for someone who’s about to invest her college fund in the stock market based off a friend’s tip that’s sure not to pan out. The cuts that Mark was forced to make to the budget weren’t looking good, but after both Mark and Adrian freaked out about the news they had to tell each other, things were in much better shape with the karaoke-assisted Christmas party. Mark and Adrian aren’t great at following through in the moments where they need to deliver bad news, and telling Patton Oswalt’s isolated astronaut that the Jets were headed to the World Series when in actuality they were in last place is exactly the kind of massive overcorrection that’s going to ultimately come back to haunt them when he needs to return to the real world.

What I’m Watching: Space Force (Season Premiere)

Space Force: Season 2, Episode 1 “The Inquiry” (B+)

I was never sure if this show was actually coming back for a second season since the notice I saw about its renewal felt very unverified, and it’s been a little over a year and a half since all of season one dropped. I will say that the show has grown on me over time, and I found myself quite amused watching this season opener. It’s fun to see a few faces who are also currently on other shows, like Ben Schwartz on “The Afterparty” and Noah Emmerich, whose General Grabaston made it very difficult to take his FBI agent on “Suspicion” seriously. It looks like he’s out of the loop now with Mark back in control of Space Force, though he’s going to be watched carefully and he unwisely negotiated down the amount of time in which he needs to make a good impression or find his funding and authority cut once again. Among the highlights of the anxiety-ridden testimony process were Tony not being able to handle not being near his phone before Adrian stepped in to slap him and Angela expressing legitimate annoyance than everyone kept comparing vacations and other experiences to how she felt coming back from the moon. Mark’s words on the stand didn’t help all that much, agreeing with certainty that he was only two or three of the things that he stood accused of, definitely not all six, and Brad and Erin gave specifically unhelpful details that should have worked against him. But they all rallied with true words of affirmation for their boss, and it appears to have paid off. I wonder if everyone FaceTiming with Maggie is a sign that we’ll see more of her this season, but it’s hard to know. I’m looking forward to what’s sure to be an absurd and entertaining ride.

Round Two: Severance

Severance: Season 1, Episode 2 “Half Loop” (B+)

This show continues to be very intriguing in its second outing, showing how peculiar the work world of Lumon is and how different things are on the outside. It’s interesting to hear what Dylan thinks they’re doing and what the state of the world must be, and to see the impact of scary numbers appearing for the first time for Helly. It’s likely true that Helly is right about the code detectors not being a thing, and that the careful coordination of Milchick seeing what was happening and the elevators not letting her out were staged to make everyone believe that. How Pete achieved the un-severing remains unknown, and seeing how it manifested for him standing by the sink and in the shower was intense. I’m curious to see if Mark is in fact able to go back in and steal the plans that he did so that Pete can confirm what he’s been reconstructing in his head. The most disturbing part of this episode was Irving being disciplined for nodding off at his desk, though we did get to briefly meet two colorful characters played by Christopher Walken and Dichen Lachman, and I’d love to see more of both of them in the future. The way Mark reacted to the protesters after he got drunk on his date also showed the pent-up resentment he has to those who don’t understand why someone would volunteer for this split life, something he’ll likely come around to after thinking more about that tape of him in the break room.

Pilot Review: Severance

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

What I’m Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2, Episode 2 “Billy Jones and the Orgy Lamps” (B+)

I love the fast pace of dialogue on this show, best illustrated in the opening montage where Midge was able to double her tab everywhere, mostly by telling each vendor that the previous one had suggested it and that it was almost better for them than the other way around. Redesigning her bedroom so that she didn’t have to associate it with negative memories was probably a better theoretical concept than a practical one, and her parents agreeing to move in with her only if they could tell people that they bought her back the apartment is going to drive her endlessly crazy. Her father working out of her bathtub so he wouldn’t wake her mother and her mother moving all the kitchen items only to have Zelda move them back because she couldn’t reach any of them are entertaining consequences she’s already seeing. Susie’s visit to see a potentially committed Sophie was memorable, as was the phone call she got from her sister about how she’s now working at the insurance company where they successfully committed fraud. I knew I recognized the woman Midge met in jail, and that’s because she was played by Kayli Carter from “Private Life” and “Mrs. America.” I’m intrigued by Midge’s new career prospect, and I’m not sure it’s going to be all that she’s expecting it to be. I did enjoy seeing her have a sincere conversation with Abe at the end of the episode about how people actually liked him at his new job that paid him almost nothing, and seeing how warmly he received the caricature of himself during his first meeting.

Monday, February 21, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season Premiere)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 4, Episode 1 “Rumble on the Wonder Wheel” (B+)

It’s great to have this show back and hard to believe that it’s been more than two years since season three ended. This is the first time in this show’s history that it’s going to divide up its episodes with two per week, an interesting development but one that should allow for an elongation of the entertainment period, which I think is wonderful. Accompanying Midge and Susie back in the taxi from the tarmac was an effective way to ease back into this show’s world, with Midge letting out some serious aggression directed at the taxi with a tree branch. While this certainly affects her future – something Susie apparently always imagined would happened at some point – her decision to borrow money from her former father-in-law to buy back her old apartment coincided rather unfortunately with Susie not having any cash on hand, forcing her to go with her sister to try to get a check they’re not going to get and then to an amusingly sarcastic Joel. Midge’s ex-husband is having enough troubles with his own landlords, and using an old dictionary to try to communicate isn’t working so well. Ethan’s grandparents changing his birthday because it was more convenient for them was a humorous setup for a wildly entertaining Wonder Wheel ride featuring a lot of shouting, a lot of blaming, and some important revelations. Among the most fun was Abe learning that people who need matchmakers aren’t lazy but may be curmudgeons like him. I’m looking forward to seeing how Midge revitalizes her career and seeing how this season plays out over the course of four weeks.

What I’m Watching: The Afterparty

The Afterparty: Season 1, Episode 6 “Zoë” (B+)

I must commend this show for its constant creativity, in this case using both animation and multiple versions of Zoe’s personality, which she expressed through drama to a stunned Danner while we were watching it play out via animation. It does all help to explain why she opted to get into the helicopter with Xavier and wasn’t so into her dorky crush Aniq, who she was later able to convince Fun Zoe was the right choice once it was too late and he passed out immediately after throwing up. I like how she ended her entire interview by telling Danner that if you tell the story a different way, none of them did this, to which she responded that Xavier was still very much dead. We did learn that it was Jennifer #2 who was sending the text messages to Chelsea just to mess with her, which doesn’t help us in any way given that she’s still missing. I enjoyed Jennifer #1’s angry reaction to Aniq and Yasper trying to use her phone charger, and all of their antics were fun, like Aniq not knowing how to escape the panic room even though he works with escape rooms for a living. Culp was on to them even if Yasper somehow disconnected the call (only to reconnect it later despite not being able to answer the phone again?) when he put in the AirPod, and now he’s gone ahead and gotten Danner booted from the investigation because he’s just not having her methodical and long-winded approach.

What I’m Watching: Pivoting

Pivoting: Season 1, Episode 7 “Bounce, Baby” (B+)

Each of these three friends has their own tics, and I think I might enjoy Amy’s most since she’s just so unfiltered and has no sense whatsoever of boundaries. Her eagerness to call Coleen’s phone number and leave her voicemails about what was going on in her life was theoretically harmless until it meant harassing a young athlete who just wanted to wait for a phone call from her boyfriend in the Marines. Henry is evidently the best possible match for her given his willingness to figure out a way to get the number back for her, just in time for that boyfriend to call because he really was deployed. Amy was also very excited that Jodie was actually having an affair, something that got her extremely worried that she had herpes, which she didn’t want to have Sarah examine because she would judge her for being unfaithful. I’m not sure what she thought was going to happen when she went over to help Matt organize his socks, and fortunately Dan is too busy carrying his computer into the bathroom to finish watching his porn to notice that she’s involved with someone else. Sarah’s bathroom make-out session with Tanzy quickly turned into a real relationship, one she didn’t want to turn from casual into serious, and her dismissal of Tanzy when she showed up was followed up by an even crueler response about Sarah’s age from her younger jilted ex. Brian and Henry tearing up thinking about Coleen being gone was a sweet moment, and I think this show does well when it features those.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 7 “Call Me Cupcake” (B+)

It’s fun to see the relationship between the eternally peppy Kat and the eternally peppy Oscar evolve, and for them to show that they can get through the occasional disagreement just fine without their rose-colored goggles being permanently burst. Oscar volunteering to help out at the café while Phil was away seemed like a mistake from the start since working together can put a strain on any romance. Naturally, it was all good at the start, with Kat impressed by all the efficiency-driven changes he had made, and it was only when he unknowingly accepted a crazy huge order that they couldn’t fulfill that the cracks started to show. Insisting on making one giant batch of dough was his first big offense, and it only got worse from there until it all devolved into a food fight. Max and Carter doing a competitive juice cleanse at the same time was funny, and I most enjoyed Max smelling a customer’s food as he delivered it, a far more appealing invasion of privacy than what Carter did with those donuts. I thought that Phil going with Sheila to Bora Bora was going to result in them having to pay back all the money they charged to Preston’s card, but instead it was just an opportunity for Sheila and Phil to commiserate about how their lives didn’t turn out how they had expected. I did like that Phil switched out teaspoons for tablespoons as a way of encoding his recipes so that no one could steal them.

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Season 1, Episode 4 “Canvass” (B+)

It’s funny to see how behaving well and fulfilling basic expectations of decency always have to be rewarded with a big prize for the members of this family, something Will jumped on board with as soon as he found out that Carlton had made such a deal with Phil. What could have been an easy collaboration between the cousins didn’t turn out too well when Will found a way to relate to the constituents and Carlton took offense at how he was speaking about conservatives, but Will’s initiative and approach ultimately ended up working quite well. It was a big deal for Phil to say that he was supportive of defunding the police, a position that obviously didn’t sit well with Lisa’s father, who Will was horrified to learn was the chief of police. Geoffrey confirming that he knew who was after Will led to a surprising end to this episode, one that was chilling to Will because he thinks he now knows just what kind of reach his wealthy relatives have to deal with their problems. Viv should really get back into painting soon since her not doing that anymore is going to have a serious effect on her marriage, and she’s encountering enough stress with Hilary following her own path, one that Viv doesn’t support because she imagines there have to be strings attached. I did like seeing Hilary and Jazz meet, and I hope we’ll get to see the two of them together in some form in the future. I’m also happy Ashley got to do something for the first time, revealing her own craftiness, an apparent crush, and an endearing relationship with Geoffrey.