Monday, October 31, 2022

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 5 “Halloween 2: The Ghost of Hetty's Past” (B+)

I enjoy the fact that Hetty has grown a lot but is still quite petty and self-centered, something we saw in her admission that she had gotten to know the one good Irish person and her unapologetic response to her last-minute pleading to follow Molly up to heaven rather than remain stuck on earth with all the other terrible ghosts. It was a fun concept that the seance that Jay was very much a part of would end up being very boring for all the livings present but that Sam and the ghosts would experience it actually working, with Molly being summoned as a result of Jay giving away the duster. The need to get that back was yet another blow in community relations for their struggling business, and I half-expected Liam Neeson to make a cameo as himself after he did the same thing on “Atlanta” last season. Hetty was right to point out that Sam dying in the vault would actually make things easier and warmer for her, but the communication difficulties they’re having with the ghosts’ only semi-helpful powers would make it a bit much to take. Isaac inviting Nigel to come to the party was sweet, and “Stinky” Pete was quite the good sport to let Isaac assign that horrific smell to him before Isaac had to own up to it to ensure that Jay didn’t leave thinking that Sam was safe rather than in the safe. His reaction to Nigel mentioning his webbed feet shows that they’re still not ready to be open about everything with each other, but maybe they’ll get there someday.

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 3, Episode 6 “The Bag and the Box” (B)

It’s interesting that this show continues to have Beau and Jenny off on cases of the week while Cassie very slowly looks into what’s going on at that camp as she’s cozying up to the son of two people we now know are willing to kill to keep their secrets buried. It is entertaining to see Beau hop on the hood of a classic car and marvel at a multimillion-dollar Mickle Mantle rookie card, but Avery not wanting Carla to bring her ex-husband into what’s going on is only serving to endanger everyone else there. That said, I’m pretty sure Avery is still involved in something, even if he’s not officially a bad guy. Though Donno is not my favorite character by any stretch, I did enjoy the dialogue exchanged between him and Walter, who was willing to let Paige in on all that he’s done to show her how far he would go to protect her. We also saw a level of previously untested commitment from Buck, who went ahead and stabbed Mary before Sunny could figure out a way to talk herself out of her latest lie that Mary was starting to realize didn’t make sense. Cormac was upfront with Cassie about wanting to be read in on everything, and it’s still not clear what he would be willing to do for the sake of his parents. As Cassie’s romance with Cormac heats up and Beau presses Jenny about dating cops, I’m starting to get confused since this season opened and it seemed like Cassie and Beau were going to be the item. Has everyone forgotten the fistfight that happened between Cassie and Jenny the last time they both went for the same man?

Sunday, October 30, 2022

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 3, Episode 6 “Novel Signed by Author, $22.19” (B+)

Though I know this was meant to be a Halloween episode, I’m glad that it didn’t actually follow up on the creepy, Unabomber-style ending of the previous installment. Instead, Marina and Denise got way too into the idea of starting a crime podcast based on the mystery woman who had apparently driven all the way from Colorado without stopping to meet Tom, and Marina was definitely far too focused on the name and not the safety of her husband. Casting Casey Wilson in anything is usually a good way to elevate the zaniness, as she did on “Black Monday,” and it didn’t take too long for everyone to piece together the fact that she didn’t just want Tom as a brother, but he actually was her half-brother. That’s a big game-changer that’s sure to make him doubt much of his own narrative, and I’m curious to see whether Wilson officially joins the cast or if she’s just around for a short time. I was happy to see Karan Soni, a terrific and very funny actor from “7 Days” and “Miracle Workers” as Tod, whose best moment was pointing out to Connor that they didn’t have a bathroom attendant he could have tipped $100 or even a bathroom for that matter. Sarah realizing that Connor just wanted attention from his older sister when Shamiah called was funniest for how she just put it together and then hung up on her upset daughter, and I like that the big scare she was finally able to execute on her brother came at the least effective possible time.

What I’m Watching: Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary: Season 2, Episode 6 “Candy Zombies” (B+)

I’m not always fond of Halloween episodes, but this one worked very well, playing to each of its characters’ predispositions and uniting them in an effort to stop the free-flowing distribution of candy that was keeping all the kids far too energized. It was fun to start with everyone’s Halloween costumes, with Gregory in particular having trouble with anyone correctly identifying that he was dressed up as Sully Sullenberger (superbly portrayed by Tom Hanks in the underrated “Sully”). Ashley and Melissa both dressing up as Scarlet Witch was an amusing lead-up to Ashley’s total incompetence that had her sitting guard with the candy and not paying enough attention to realize that it was all being taken without her noticing. Louis’ Baby Thanos being the menace was entertaining, though not quite as much as Chad going fully method to play the janitor and crack the case. Mr. Johnson did have fun with Jacob, tormenting him with stories of the Ghost Janitor. Ava stepping in to actually be helpful as Storm when she needed to get control of the kids was a great moment, and I also like Barbara’s descriptions of how her church shows only the edited parts of some very non-religious movies. Janine seeing the note with Amber’s number that she wanted her to pass to Gregory could have been bad for the relationship that still has yet to start between them, but it actually was a good conversation, and Janine was prompted to have plans with Erika, which could instill in her a newfound and very welcome sense of self-confidence.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

What I’m Watching: Andor

Andor: Season 1, Episode 8 “Narkina 5” (B)

There’s an interesting darkness to this show as it progresses, with Andor’s time in prison feeling particularly harsh and not nearly as PG-rated as most Star Wars fare has been up to this point. Though Andor did commit a pretty major crime, he got arrested for something completely different that he didn’t do, and though he’s not facing physical brutality, there’s an intensity to the way in which they’re being forced to work and complete their assignments. The “30 Shifts Later” title card was indicative of how mindless the machine is meant to be, and how he’s become so accustomed to it in a relatively short time. Syril’s fervor meant that Meero took notice of his efforts to find Andor and brought it to her superiors, and though she has absolutely no idea where he is, she managed to find Bix and her fate likely isn’t going to be a good one. This episode brought one new cast member in the form of Andy Serkis, best known for voicing Gollum and also some terrific performances in projects like “Longford,” as Kino Loy, and the return of Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, a character he played before in “Rogue One.” His conversation with Luthen was entertaining and playful at the start, with both of them trying to assert that the other was responsible for the heist, and Saw then taking the conversation in a more serious direction where he made it clear that he wasn’t prepared to get himself into any real trouble.

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 5, Episode 8 “Motherland” (B+)

This episode provided a helpful clarification to the unexpected bonding between June and Serena in a moment of crisis in the previous hour, with June haughtily expressing that it seemed like she was the better Christian since she was capable of turning the other cheek. Serena’s belief that she is not a handmaid and therefore doesn’t deserve the indignity of living in someone else’s house while they raise the baby she birthed shows not only her hypocrisy but also how she still subscribes to the worldview of Gilead even after she’s seen all the terrible things they’ve done. Having to take responsibility for everything and apologize to the Wheelers was difficult, but it’s the same thing June had to do. Joseph’s proposal was an interesting one, and he’s definitely playing the long game of trying to slowly re-civilize Gilead, apparently convinced that the country was headed in a particular direction and he merely provided a pathway to get there. June was ready to go even if Luke wasn’t having any of it, but that footage of Hannah may have changed everything. It’s possible that it was a trap, since we’ve seen devastation crush hope in the past, but the better question is, if Hannah comes to Canada, what happens next? That could be the tie-in with the Canadians protesting for the refugees to leave, but I have to imagine that June won’t go back and fight if she has both of her daughters there with her. I’m worried that tragedy will be a much better motivator.

Friday, October 28, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Patient (Series Finale)

The Patient: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Cantor’s Husband” (B-)

This finale didn’t change anything for me other than to feel that it just hasn’t been worth it. To have things end like this was miserable if predictable, especially since Alan did the one thing he hadn’t until then that made him an acceptable person to kill: threaten his mother’s life. Going to kill his father turned out to be a big nothing since he ultimately just choked him and decided not to kill him, but his solution to that big breakthrough moment was to set Alan up to be permanently moved in to the basement. I don’t think there’s a scenario in which Sam would ultimately have let him go, but this was still an unpleasant resolution for everyone. Having Alan open his eyes and remember being with his son’s family while they were singing the start to the Grace after Meals (a melody I’ve sung many times) was the last bizarre callback to religiosity that didn’t really define Alan’s life even if he was haunted by memories and nightmares before and during his captivity. Sam sending Alan’s letter to Ezra and Shoshana made for an emotional ending, and having the last scene feature Ezra going to therapy to talk about his own issues was an intriguing endpoint that also felt somewhat manipulative. It seems that I’m in the minority when it comes to my impression of this show and its Jewish content, but I think this might have been more interesting if Alan wasn’t already coming in with his own arduous drama. The show’s creators have confirmed that this is indeed a limited series and will not be returning, and I think that’s fine given that it’s more than explored a premise I didn’t feel was quite as fascinating or well-done as most.

Series grade: B-
Series MVP: Domhnall Gleeson as Sam

What I’m Watching: Reboot (Season Finale)

Reboot: Season 1, Episode 8 “Who’s the Boss” (B+)

This was a fun finale, even though it introduced some twists that definitely aren’t great and lean much more towards the dramatic than the comedic. Elaine showing up to talk to Hannah and Gordon in private was an ominous opening, and the “bloodless coup” at Hulu turned out to be much worse than anyone thought because of the new boss. I appreciated the casting of Peter Gallagher in the role of the man who already hated Gordon enough and now also knew that he had slept with his wife as revenge for getting the show canceled. Hannah was extremely disappointed when Gordon figured out a solution to keep the show going but didn’t even try to stay involved, and while I do hope and assume that he’ll return eventually if this show is picked up for a second season (and provided there are no leadership changes at the real Hulu), it’s going to be an even more uncomfortable process than it was the first time around. Elaine having insider information also threatened to create a rift between her and Zack as they navigate their newfound and very secret relationship, and Zack appears to have opted not to warn his good friend Clay or go to console him when he needed it most. I didn’t expect Bree to be the one to show up at Clay’s house, but the two of them have a connection that is based mostly around other people ignoring and not getting them. I’m glad that we got to see Eliza Coupe’s Nora show up to surprise Reed just as Bree blurted out in an interview that she and Reed were back together again, and her calling him to say how she truly felt seconds after he proposed was the worst possible timing. This show has been a lot of fun and I do sincerely hope that we get a second season.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Judy Greer as Bree

Thursday, October 27, 2022

What I’m Watching: Avenue 5

Avenue 5: Season 2, Episode 3 “Is It a Good Dot?” (B+)

Featuring so many scenes from the show-within-a-show is entertaining, but it’s also true the regular goings-on out in space are so absurd they don’t need parodying. Hailing the Storm Falcon was an interesting opportunity to get a much-needed new perspective, but it probably would have been smart for someone - theoretically Iris, if she had been up there - to do at least a little bit of research into what the ship was that turned out to be quite easy to dig up. The way in which they did find out was of course quite entertaining, with Ryan’s laugh-when-I-tell-you approach failing pretty miserably. Other great moments from that interaction were Matt trying to coach Rav on small talk, Matt inciting a rebellion by pointing out how Johanna controlled everyone, and Judd trying to stay relevant from the other end of the table. Billie’s softness around dogs also became something horrible as she realized what it was that Johanna loved so much about the animals. Using Lyle in a ball to fix the eel tanks was successful, but what a messy process that was. And though he almost convinced Judd but not Frank of the ways of cannibalism, Nathan did manage to stay on board, which is going to be an issue even if he seems like a nice guy. I love that the episode ended with Iris’ return and the tools for the eel tank that she had brought. Now she’s the one who will have to keep the secret about the Earth running out of lithium and Avenue 5 actually being a much safer place to be than the home planet they all desperately want to see again.

What I’m Watching: House of the Dragon (Season Finale)

House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Black Queen” (B+)

So much bloodshed would be spared if people actually bothered to talk to each other, but that’s not the way things work in this show’s universe. Alicent should have realized the consequences of what she was doing in honoring what she thought were her dying husband’s final wishes, yet she didn’t communicate to Rhaenyra how much she valued their friendship other than to send a distant reminder of what they once had. And even Aemond, who is now going to be blamed for antagonizing his cousin before a death that he didn’t actually cause, much as it seems like he would have gladly done it. Rhaenyra didn’t even know her father was dead, and she was reticent to even go to war while Daemon was already organizing battalions all over the place to ensure victory. Otto’s attitude isn’t helping anything, but I suppose he needs to toe the line and establish dominance. This final sets up an intense second season where there will be no trace left of whatever friendship once existed between two warring rulers both intent on their sons being the ones to inherit the kingdom. It’s hardly just a problem of House Targaryen not knowing who’s in charge, and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of suffering and death as a result of a conflict involving dragons whose young riders aren’t even able to control them. I’ve been impressed with this show so far and look forward to its return in season two and what I’m sure will be many other seasons after that.

Season grade: A-
Season MVPs: Milly Alcock as Younger Rhaenyra and Paddy Considine as Viserys

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Pilot Review: The Peripheral

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Pilot Review: From Scratch

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 4, Episode 7 “Snipe Hunt” (B+)

With only three episodes to go in this show’s run, it’s nice to see an installment that’s just straightforward and about two of the main characters spending time together. Technically, I guess it’s three, since Lottie was present too, though she didn’t have much interest in doing anything with her parents like having them sing happy birthday or just generally being in a good mood. Seeing her getting into the snipe hunt was a particularly entertaining and then horrifying subplot as she showed up with an apparently captured invented creature, which turned out to be a very much living snake. The most worthwhile part of the episode was the conversation that happened between Earn and Van, a fleeting concept that was felled by so much, whether it was her pretending to be someone else or them getting caught in an inescapable garage of horrors. Earn kept steering the conversation back to how he was planning to move to Los Angeles and she had yet to let him know if she was going to come or not, and she made the legitimate point about wanting to exist on her own as more than just Lottie’s mother. Comparing his response to Kanye feels less like a compliment now than it did when this episode aired, but it’s true that he was somewhat dramatic in his profession of love. The rain forcing them to leave the tent there said plenty about impermanence and plans needing to change, and the future still remains uncertain, even if this was a positive family experience that could be replicated again in the future.

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Tree” (B+)

Relying on the ghosts for information that she couldn’t possibly know doesn’t tend to have too many drawbacks, however it’s definitely a problem when they’re not honest with her. Jay could tell right away that Sam insisting about the Lenape meaning that the tribe representative insisted wasn’t real was going to make her seem like a Karen, and unfortunately there wasn’t anything she could do about that. I do appreciate the inclusion of a land acknowledgment at the end of the episode, which Bob pointed out was something that they needed to do rather than something that he could do for them. Film festivals like Sundance and Toronto have been doing this for at least a few years now before each movie, and it’s an interesting shift of perspective that Hollywood could use also. I’m not sure that op-eds about not cutting down trees do as much in real time as they do in this cinematic context, but it was a good opportunity for Sam to once again run into Shiki. Sasappis being obsessed with the tree because it was marked with the number of times that Shiki said hi to him, and it would be nice if he could get some closure on that relationship like Isaac has been able to with his unrequited love. Thorfinn getting all into nature to impress Flower only to then realize he wants climate change to accelerate so that they could get sucked off was a very entertaining subplot, as was Hetty’s request for Trevor to pull up something specific for her on the computer when she walked in on what she thought they were doing.

Monday, October 24, 2022

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 3, Episode 5 “Flesh and Blood” (B-)

For all the people who tend to get killed in a violent manner on this show, most of the series regulars seem to be immune to any real harm, like Poppernak, whose abduction by a gang of murderous bank robbers never truly put him in danger. Beau and Jenny were already all set to laugh it off by telling him that he was going to have to be fired for poor policework despite the fact that he could easily have been killed numerous times throughout the ordeal. But everyone on this show, particularly law enforcement officials, tends to be very easily distracted. With Cassie focused on flirtation with Cormac, it looks like Jenny and Beau might ultimately get together. Focusing on a romance hopefully won’t keep Beau from checking in on his daughter and her very confident stepfather, who managed to reassure Carla and then went right at Luke to get answers out of him. I do believe that Sunny would choose Walter over Buck if the need to make that decision came, but for now Buck appears to be on board with her plans, while Cormac is leading Cassie closer to Walter as Buck thinks he’s taking care of the latest threat. Though Donno was typically unsubtle about his violent intentions, he and Tonya did manage to join up with the camp after it had already started, also not being subtle by paying double so that they could join the party late. Things are about to converge out in the woods, and I have a feeling that the only one who’s really a match for Walter is probably Donno, should their paths ever cross.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 3, Episode 5 “Live With Kelly and Ryan Hoodie, Complimentary” (B)

It’s always a gamble when shows feature real-life celebrities playing themselves, since it can often be over-the-top and unnecessary stunt casting that doesn’t add much to the series hosting them. In this case, Kelly and Ryan were merely there to experience and fuel the antics of the Hayworth clan. Connor and Marina got a little too into suggesting the kind of light ribbing that Kelly and Ryan might aim at Tom to settle him into the show, and then he ended up doing okay before both his coaches ended up getting pulled on air and truly embarrassing themselves. Marina expressing just how obsessed she was with Kelly was the most cringeworthy part, and this crew really needs to get its marketing strategy together. Causing a scene in an airport bookstore is one thing, but Tom forcing the cashier to refund the purchaser’s money since he didn’t deserve to read the book is hardly what they need to boost sales. I’m curious to see which person from Tom’s past has him in his sights following that thriller-like ending. Sarah and Denise staying back at Connor’s house while he was away didn’t seem like it could go all that wrong, especially considering Denise got the need to clean the place all by herself out of her system a while ago. Learning that Shamiah was pretending that Connor’s house was her own and that her family was very wealthy was most worthwhile for the way in which Sarah and Denise flailed when they tried to argue that they were breaking into a house that they well knew was not their own.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

What I’m Watching: Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary: Season 2, Episode 5 “Juice” (B+)

Janine does tend to get ahead of herself when she has a new idea that no one else latches on to, and Barbara refusing to elaborate beyond “don’t fix what’s not broken” only added to her resolve to prove her mentor wrong. Those extra two ounces of liquid had a disastrous and rather immediate effect on the bladders of all the students and a resulting stop-up in the bathroom supply chain. Mr. Johnson didn’t seem too fazed by all of it, but he was also more than ready to race to Barbara’s secret bathroom when she said it was reluctantly available for use. It didn’t take long for Barbara’s bathroom to also get broken, and it seemed very therapeutic for her to take out some pent-up rage on the upstairs toilet to ensure that something would finally be done if they were completely out of options. Janine and Gregory definitely thought she was coming for them with the baseball bat, and I enjoyed Janine managing to get one “office hour” per month with Barbara as the mentor that she never had. It was understandable that Melissa couldn’t get anything done thanks to her new teaching assistant, Ashley, played by the very funny Keyla Monterroso Mejia from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Her quick gravitation to Ava was not good news, and I like that Melissa was eventually able to get through to the adult who had essentially become another kid for her to manage and figure out how to distract long enough to get something accomplished.

What I’m Watching: Andor

Andor: Season 1, Episode 7 “Announcement” (B+)

This episode wasn’t quite as engaging as the previous one but did at least follow it up well, with the Empire ramping up its operations and mobilizing in response to the successful heist. We only saw Andor from the team that pulled it all off, and at first he was just told not to be too visible by a frazzled Maarva, and then by the end he was headed to prison for six years for doing nothing, a jarring development considering how he was complicit in a completely different crime. It’s intriguing to see the relationship between Mon and Luthen, particularly how thrown off Mon was about action being taken without her knowledge. She did make her own pitch to Tay Kolma, played by Ben Miles from “The Capture” and “The Crown,” warning him that her own husband couldn’t be trusted and trying to indicate to him that his liberal politics were not going to be an issue at all. As Syril toils away in obscurity thanks to his new demotion, the big winner of the episode was Dedra, who got reported to Major Partagaz by her petty rival only to see him recognize her initiative. It makes sense that artificially-drawn borders wouldn’t matter to rebels, but she also now needs to watch her back. I’m wondering if the many mentions of Palpatine mean that we’ll see him in this show, which wouldn’t be such a shock given that the now seventy-eight-year-old Ian McDiarmid has appeared numerous times in the role, starting in “Return of the Jedi” and most recently in “The Rise of Skywalker.”

Saturday, October 22, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 5, Episode 7 “No Man’s Land” (B)

I can definitely appreciate an hour like this that has an intimate focus, especially because of the parallels to June’s solo delivery of Nicole and the way that things used to be in Gilead. But there are also so many other characters, including the leadership in Gilead that might be capable of changing it into something less totalitarian, that I would have liked to see featured in the wake of Nick shooting Warren in the head. But fortunately there are still three episodes left this season and another year after that, and this installment was all about switched roles and revenge. June’s attitude changed entirely when she saw that Serena was in labor, and she didn’t quite buy into Serena’s belief that she was an avenging angel. June has been through childbirth twice before and knows a lot better than Serena what to expect, and she was able to calmly coach her through it. Emphasizing that a child belongs with its mother encouraged her to take Serena to the hospital where she could get the care that she needed, and where June was reunited with Luke, who didn’t have the same enlightenment that June did. Calling immigration police to get her detained and likely deported was something June would have done even a short time ago, and now she really has felt the pain that June and Luke felt of being taken away from their children. I don’t know if June will take up a different cause now that she’s seen and understood this from a new perspective, but those memories of Gilead should remind her that Serena still isn’t a friend and should see justice of some form for what she’s done.

What I’m Watching: The Patient

The Patient: Season 1, Episode 9 “Auschwitz” (B)

I’m just not really sure what to make of this show’s tone, with the ending scene of this penultimate episode a perfect example. Joking about having sex with his father’s skull was very odd, and that newfound singular desire, modeled on Ed Kemper, memorably played by Emmy nominee Cameron Britton in “Mindhunter,” felt like it came out of nowhere. It’s also strange that his mother is so present in his life, to the point that she liked Mary but was not at all happy with the fact that she was coming over, likely because she thought Sam might do something. Alan’s whole plan to scream so that she would call the police was never going to work, and Mary doesn’t seem like the type to realize that things weren’t right and take the initiative to report him to the police on her own. Sam did manage to truly butcher the “old age” joke by skipping over all the important introductory parts of it, and then the conversation shifted into uncomfortable territory about his father beating him up a lot as a kid and that sending him into therapy. With just one episode left, I’m not sure how this can satisfactorily be resolved, with or without the possibility of a second season, although maybe him going after his father means that he’ll be linked to a victim and leave a trace to send a message like his new idol Ed. I’m hopeful for a finale that will make this peculiar and off-putting journey feel worth it.

Friday, October 21, 2022

What I’m Watching: Reboot

Reboot: Season 1, Episode 7 “Baskets” (B+)

Now that I’m paying attention to this show’s titles, I very much appreciate them, particularly this one. For all the hijinks that these characters get themselves into, Reed always seems to dive headfirst into unfortunate situations. Pretending to be good at basketball was a lie from the start, but then it was Zack who hadn’t clarified that his “boys” were just that, even though, in the first of many humorous Jewish jokes throughout the episode, all but one were technically men since they had already been Bar Mitzvahed. Reed got too boastful about being taller than the rest of them before they were taunting him with bizarrely accurate references to sitcoms much older than them, and then he had to go ahead and claim to be Goliath and elbow one of them in the face. Zack had a clever solution to get him out of trouble with the two girls who were filming him, and, for someone who doesn’t always seem so bright, was smart enough to make sure that they clear out the Recently Deleted folder also. Whoever comes up with the titles for Zack’s films deserves a prize - “Sabbath Night Fever” was just the latest and greatest one. Gordon and Hannah should really communicate more and not try to trap each other in miserable situations. Clay’s inability to loop his lines was quite frustrating, and it was nice to see Gordon try something uncharacteristically comforting to get him to finally deliver. Bree’s involvement in the writers’ room was definitely disruptive, though it did lead to a worthwhile dramatic moment between her and Selma. My favorite takeaway from this episode is that Alan does announcer work, something actor Fred Melamed definitely has done in the past and which he portrayed very well in “In a World.”

What I’m Watching: Avenue 5

Avenue 5: Season 2, Episode 2 “What an Unseasonal Delight” (B+)

It didn’t seem likely that half of the passengers were just going to burn up as the ship went far too close to the sun, but the fact that everyone survived suggests that things are going to be very uncomfortable as the division between those who had the chance to be saved and those who didn’t will surely become clear. Ryan thinking that magnets could repel the sun was nearly as idiotic as Judd, who expressed his intent to outlive the sun and boasted about having blocked it out with very standard means. This crew really does need to figure out how to make plans and just all get on the same page before announcing anything to the passengers, because the system of sorting out those 300 was quite chaotic. I appreciate that Matt, who stood and spoke throughout the entire close call, was content having peaked in high school and ready to give Rav a spot, while Ryan’s haphazard efforts to choose one of Eleanor’s children to come in with him somehow resulted in her husband joining him instead. At least the eels got saved, which is good news since these surviving passengers are sure to be hungry for whatever food they can get and that Frank hasn’t already cooked up with a toothbrush or something else inedible. I’m a big fan of Iris and glad to see her misadventures on land, where she’s constantly going on that ridiculous show and now managing the TV show about the ship so that she can try to get the government to do something to help.

Pilot Review: Annika

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

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Pilot Review: Magpie Murders

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: House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 9 “The Green Council” (B+)

It’s a strange thing to have an entire episode about installing the new king and not even have Rhaenyra present, and potentially not aware at all of her father’s passing. Though it’s possible - I’ll admit I don’t really know - that Viserys didn’t realize he was speaking to Alicent when he uttered his final wish, Alicent is doing right by her husband, trying to honor his word, and not claiming anything that isn’t true. Despite her previous intentions to kill her former best friend and take her son’s eye in revenge for her own son losing his, Alicent did make it very clear that she didn’t want anything to happen to Rhaenyra, though surely she can’t think that’s realistic. Aegon, the new king, didn’t even want the throne and in fact ran away from his duty, and I thought that the bloodthirsty Aemond was going to kill him and take his role for himself. Alicent tried to appeal to Rhaenys and then thought that she had failed and was facing down certain death, but she just wanted to leave peacefully with her dragon. Alicent has finally proven herself capable of mercy and a degree of benevolence, but her son all too quickly embraced the cheering crowds, and though he may not harbor as much resentment towards his brother as he does his cousins, I’d still watch out for Aemond. Alicent also has formidable allies in Cristen and Larys, both of whom would apparently do anything for her, whether or not she asked them to, and her biggest adversary may now also be her father. But we still haven’t seen how Rhaenyra and Daemon will react to all this happening without them there in what I know will be an explosive and deadly finale.

Pilot Review: Shantaram

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, October 19, 2022

What I’m Watching: Bad Sisters (Season Finale)

Bad Sisters: Season 1, Episode 10 “Saving Grace” (B+)

While this was a terrific finale, it doesn’t leave much room for a second season now that its central mystery has been resolved, but I’m holding out hope that there’s some way that this fantastic cast could be reunited somehow. These characters are so rich and terrific that I feel like there would be a way to do it, especially since each of them had their own motives for killing JP, including the one person who was never a suspect all along. Part of the brilliance of Anne-Marie Duff’s performance is the natural way that she says things, like the apology she made before telling her sisters the story of what actually happened. JP had a tremendous ability to belittle those around him, and telling Grace that she wouldn’t exist if he turned off the light was a new level of cruelty. Blaming Eva for her own miscarriage was a step too far, and she wasted no time in doing what her sisters had tried to do so many times and just strangling him right there. Though he did break some laws - and windows - getting the information, Matt was able to figure everything out too, and he came up with a perfect solution, one that could have fixed all this from the start, which was dropping the claim since no one aside from Matt and Thomas was looking into JP’s death anyway. Everyone got a happy ending, especially Grace, who was laughing again and spending time with her sisters, not mourning the death of the man who had kept her from them for so long. I’m going to be championing this series for recognition come awards time - everyone was so terrific and the writing was superb. Let’s figure out a way to make season two happen!

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Too hard to choose!

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 4, Episode 6 “Crank Dat Killer” (B+)

This was another episode that felt a bit like a dream turning over into a nightmare, but with the focus this show has tended to bring to its intriguing and inventive storylines. It’s possible that there should have been a trigger warning for the indiscriminate shooting that went on in a mall, but this was also an instance of someone firing repeatedly because he had a particular target in mind: Paper Boi. The notion that a serial killer or just generally disgruntled individual would go after all the people involved in one trend or action is something mostly reserved for the world of film and television, and of course in this case it involved two people who desperately wanted to get the chance to collaborate with Paper Boi. One of them wasn’t so lucky since he happened to be in the way at a moment where both of them were about to get killed, and he’s not likely to recover from the misery of seeing an idol and then just being shoved into a glass wall by him. Some Guy Named Doug, on the other hand, did happen to be in the right place at the right time and got himself a joint track out of the whole ordeal after Alfred had successfully avoided him time after time by ruining recording studio technology. I appreciated Darius’ casual openness to kissing Earn when the man selling the shoes said that was the only price for the impossible-to-find sneakers, but Earn was not into it at all. Him getting shot while the kiss was happening made the whole situation even weirder and just hard to shake.

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 3 “Jay’s Friends” (B+)

I’m all for any episode that puts Jay in the spotlight since he gets left out of so much due to his inability to see the ghosts. But he did have those people over right away and they made themselves quickly comfortable, to the point that they apparently had a signed contract which made them permanent residents, or at least for a trillion years. Flower’s excitement that it was a cult provided a good opportunity for her to give advice on how to break it up, which was made possible with Hetty’s convenient knowledge of specific details of Micah’s body that no one could have known without seeing him naked. Micah’s constant refrain of “it was a test” did manage to keep his followers in line, and there’s at least something more believable about that than the way that real-life conspiracy theorists insist on evidence for things that they’re never able to offer, suggestion instead that its nonexistence is proof of its very existence. I was hoping that, like with Pete’s wife, we’d get a chance to meet Flower’s brother to see what he was like, but I guess knowing that he’s alive and that he’s forgiven his sister is enough for now. Sasappis trying to tone down Pete’s cheeriness didn’t go well, and it was sweet that it all ended in a compliment after Pete dialed up the doom. My favorite part of the episode was Thorfinn providing the important correction that the characters on “Friends” actually lived in four plays since Ross lived on his own with the monkey.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

What I’m Watching: She-Hulk (Season Finale)

She-Hulk: Season 1, Episode 9 “Whose Show Is This?” (B+)

I’m feeling very good about this show at the moment after the terrific eighth episode and this fun finale, one that emphasized more than anything that Tatiana Maslany is fantastic. I knew that, of course, having seen her in “Orphan Black” as well as other roles in “Pink Wall” and “Perry Mason,” but so many have now discovered her here, which is amazing. But I do think that she truly stood out in her scenes as Jennifer, not She-Hulk, particularly with her delivery of two lines when she was talking to K.E.V.I.N., the humorous interpretation of the all-powerful Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige as a robot pulling all the strings. The first was asking about when the X-Men would finally be seen before giving a thumbs-up to the camera, and the second was her aside about sometimes smashing Matt Murdock. The concept of her crawling out of the Disney+ square of her show to question the motivations and ideas of the show’s writers was clever, but what really sold it was the attitude she had asking all the right questions. This show has been fun and I’d definitely love to see more of it, and I’d be all for what Jennifer found out probably won’t happen, which is her on the big screen, though I’d add the caveat that we really should see Jennifer too, not just She-Hulk, if that happens. I love that Matt got to meet her family, and we also saw Skaar, who I imagine will feature into future franchise projects. Ending with Wong bringing Emil home after he got hooked on a new show was entertaining, signifying how this show knows how to manage its tone. Let’s get season two started! I’m on board.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Tatiana Maslany

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 3, Episode 4 “Carrion Comfort” (B-)

Beau didn’t seem to be too concerned about the revelation regarding Jenny’s mom, but that’s also going to have to wait for another episode since this one had a contained and rather creepy standalone subplot. I recognized Aaron Staton immediately from his role on “Mad Men” and figured that Scott was likelier to have a bigger role than just as a business partner being interviewed for a moment, and he still didn’t have many more lines like that but did make a memorable and haunting impression. I was excited to see Angelique Cabral from “Life in Pieces” and “Undone” as Carla, Beau’s ex-wife, and to see how argumentative she was from the start, which frustrated Beau and amused Jenny. Going hiking with Cassie is a great way for Cormac to keep an eye on her, but they also seem to be dialing up the flirting, and it’s hard to know how protective Cormac will be of his mother given how she’s clearly chosen her other son over her current husband. It’s also not clear what Paige is doing with Walter and if he’s really the villain in that situation at all. I did appreciate the connectivity of some of the show’s other threads, like Tonya and Donno being approached to get back into their extralegal business and their first targets being none other than Paige and Luke. That and them working with Virginia, fully aware that she’s Jenny’s mom, assure that they’ll continue to be a thorn in Jenny’s side as she knows that they’re not playing by the book but can’t quite prove how.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 3, Episode 4 “Wedding Bouquet, $125” (B+)

I’m always a bit wary of flashback episodes like this one since they tend not to reference some of the important moments from earlier in a show’s mythology that aren’t immediately relevant at the time the episode airs. But, fortunately, that wasn’t the case here since this show is relatively insular and all of its players were on hand to play their parts. While it might have been nice to see what Connor’s relationship with Emily was like back then, instead we saw a much less impressive and merely boneheaded version of Connor who during the wedding got a business card from Sarah’s date Dennis that catapulted him into his life of monetary success. I liked seeing “Saturday Night Live” regular Alex Moffat as Dennis, who was absurd and excessive but also had a humorous reaction to being introduced to Denise. She came at Sarah quick when she realized that she still wasn’t out, and that ended up being a very sweet story that played out well, especially with Denise drinking with Marina, who was then quite happy to learn that they were going to be family. It’s also fun to see how the Lulu nickname came into being. The priest dropping dead and Tom trying not to panic was pretty typical, but that’s what makes this show endearing. It was great to cap it all off with Lupe providing multiple descriptions to the police of Tom. My favorites were “a real-life Flat Stanley” and “if string cheese was a man.”

Monday, October 17, 2022

What I’m Watching: Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Principal’s Office” (B+)

I did teach a class of fourth graders for a short time, and I can absolutely relate to Gregory’s eventual solution of making the top troublemaker feel like they get to be a part of the learning, even if my workaround wasn’t all that successful (preparing him for a test earlier than the other students since he purported to know everything). He should have known that Ava, who apparently has been making an effort not to sexually harrass him because she knows he doesn’t like it, wouldn’t be an effective principal in terms of being a disciplinarian, though she does manage to make Janine feel bad about herself pretty regularly. I like that he goes to Barbara for help with things, though in this case she did embarrass him by having Ava call him to the principal’s office for all the students to hear. Melissa trying to teach Janine how to cook for herself in a way that wasn’t nasally offensive to the other teachers resulted in Janine predictably interfering in a way that wasn’t welcome. Having Janine and Jacob at her house revealed a much less censored version of Melissa, and it was entertaining to see how much she and her sister didn’t get along and to learn the food-related reasons for their lingering rift. It didn’t much connect to the rest of the episode, but I enjoyed hearing Barbara sing every little part of a happy birthday song to her students, another little tidbit about her to go with her constant confusion of Black actors for their similarly-named white counterparts.

What I’m Watching: Andor

Andor: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Eye” (B+)

This was the first episode that really drew me in, uniting its characters in a common cause and having them take the irreversible step to put their rebellion into action. Shooting one would-be hostage right away was a firm method of establishing their dominance, and Vel in particular was in no mood to be nice to her captives. Commandant Beehaz also didn’t want to play along and also repeatedly insisted that he didn’t have the codes they needed to open their target, but they had a way to get in that seemed to startle him. Trying to maintain their operational cover even when unexpected elements threatened to interrupt it was a worthwhile strategy, although their heist surely did come with casualties that will make them enemies of the Empire, a label they’d embrace even if it means that the Empire will be gunning for them. After all of the talk of how the rest of them shouldn’t trust Andor, it turned out that Skeen was the one with ulterior motives who had planned on betraying everyone, and relaying that news was not an easy job for Andor, who saw the seriousness and urgency of the moment that didn’t permit him the time to argue and explain it all. The most potent response to this major space chase was the ending laughter from Luthen, who was thrilled that it had been successful, happy to quietly celebrate a victory that will almost certainly be followed by plenty of violence, unrest, and strife.

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 5, Episode 6 “Together” (B+)

It’s been interesting watching this show recently since Serena is being reframed in a somewhat sympathetic light after being a villain for much of the show, and I guess it makes sense that she might ultimately want something different for herself. It was obvious that June wasn’t going to get killed even when Mr. Wheeler revealed that June and Luke’s captors were reporting directly to him, and this episode’s ending presents an intriguing potential new direction. Serena was always a hard-line right-wing activist who has now seen how the world she wanted for herself didn’t actually afford her the rights she desired, and being ordered around and confined to the Wheeler house isn’t the life she wants. What her plans are remain a mystery, and I think even she isn’t sure, since, even if she can forgive June for what she thinks she’s done to her, June will never be able to do the same. Hopefully Luke will remain alive after being dumped at the border, though he’s going to have a tough time feeling once again like he couldn’t do anything to save his wife. It was difficult to watch Esther’s reaction to Lydia apologizing to her for her rape and resulting pregnancy, and Joseph was cold and unfeeling in his response to Lydia demanding punishment for Warren. But Joseph and Nick found a way to mete out justice, in a very physical and participatory way for Nick, who shot Warren in the head in full view of so many, a dark turn that hopefully foreshadows Joseph and Nick leading Gilead in a brighter new direction following their undeniable show of authority.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Pilot Reviews: Professionals

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: The Winchesters

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 Patient

The Patient: Season 1, Episode 8 “Ezra” (B)

We know that Charlie is just a manifestation of Alan’s subconscious, and therefore he’s well aware of how the compliment about the best kosher steak he had ever had would have landed with his daughter-in-law. There’s still so much he’s trying to process about Ezra not feeling that he was embracing his new lifestyle, starting with the apparently insulting donation he made to the yeshiva when he had paid $40,000 for Shoshana to go to medical school. It was affirming, therefore, to see what Alan couldn’t, which is that Ezra was going to pray each morning and then spending all his time putting up missing posters for the parent who he has definitely noticed isn’t around anymore. His absence hasn’t helped his home life either, and I do feel that’s somewhat more interesting to explore than, say, Alan worrying about whether he’s going to come out of this alive and in the mood to tell jokes rather than choose how he’d want to be killed if it came to that. Killing someone else so soon shows that Sam isn’t making any effort, not that Alan isn’t doing the job he’s been abducted to do, and the fact that it’s someone so closely connected to him is only likely to get him into trouble. I do also think that it’s possible that the events we’re seeing play out in the outside world with Ezra and Shoshana are not happening at the same time, though a rescue like the one Alan has been repeatedly imagining doesn’t feel like it’s likely to happen.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

What I’m Watching: Reboot

Reboot: Season 1, Episode 6 “Bewitched” (B+)

This show delivered for me its first laugh-out-loud moment with Benny’s dry response of “that’s a television brand” to Gordon’s butchering of the LGBTQ acronym. There was definitely plenty wrong with everything all of the writers, young and old, said, and having someone from HR in the room didn’t make any of it better. I was very pleased to see Stephanie Allynne from “The L Word: Generation Q” as Mallory, who made a very inappropriate and surprising HR joke when she got asked a question about acceptability and then sweetly said yes to Hannah asking her out before she actually did it so that she technically has one more time left. Even more endearing was how, after telling Zack that she couldn’t date him because she didn’t want to jeopardize his career, she showed up to happen to run into him at the “Pulp Fiction” screening. I’m glad that the generally dimwitted former child got it without needing any explanation, but unfortunately they were also sitting right in front of someone who could very much expose their chance meeting. Reed was serious about how he was happy to just be friends with Bree, something that Nora, played by the fantastic Eliza Coupe, very much doubted, but Bree seems considerably more attached to the idea that something might happen again between them when she was disappointed to overhear him telling Nora that he loved her. Clay got appropriately punished for his past deeds, and it was great that Jerry knew he was a bad actor and therefore felt his second apology had to be sincere.

What I’m Watching: Avenue 5 (Season Premiere)

Avenue 5: Season 2, Episode 1 “No One Wants an Argument About Reality” (B+)

I’m very happy that this show is finally back since I had worried that it was a casualty of the pandemic despite being renewed, and I only knew that it was definitely returning when I had the chance to speak with actor Josh Gad a few months ago. I had forgotten just how fantastically written this show was, with all its characters rattling off lines that get taken by others in the absolute wrong way, and how that doesn’t stop them from continuing to do that, no matter the potential impact of letting slip that the ship was, for instance, of course by nearly a decade. Those feigning ignorance aren’t helping matters at all, particularly Judd, who continues to insist that he knows nothing so that he won’t be complicit despite being the owner of the ship. Frank, whose cooking show is quite absurd, was also trying to keep Karen from leaving even though no one knew the truth just yet, and of course it was the suddenly-improved comms that had Iris spilling the beans loudly to Judd since she didn’t bother to ask if he was alone when she blurted out just how off-course they were. Ryan was too busy flirting with his apparently married female friend to get to the business of taking accountability for fear of becoming the main course of the next buffet, as he put it, and Rav isn’t doing a great job of staying sane now that she’s officially on board the ship. The takeover back on Earth is ominous, though maybe someone who knows what they’re doing can actually get them back earlier, provided there aren’t further mishaps deep in space.

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

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 2, Episode 8 “Allison’s House”

I had hoped for it all along, and then it finally happened, and was so worth it. Allison returned to tell Kevin she was alive, and then as soon as she told him she wanted a divorce, the laugh track suddenly disappeared. I have to commend Eric Petersen on his subtlety in that scene, no longer a caricature but instead someone capable of nuanced gaslighting and abuse. Threatening to destroy had a terrifying intentionality to it, something that we haven’t typically seen from him, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to a character who, in a different light and with people laughing, didn’t seem nearly as toxic and horrible as he was. That the show ended on Allison and Patty and not on Kevin was also purposeful, and the notion of them dying alone together highlights the worth of healthy friendships over toxic relationships. No one got a particularly happy ending, with Tammy and Patty breaking up because Patty just couldn’t leave her home and Neil told to move out and dumped by Diane when he tried to make their relationship too real. Molly’s presence felt sudden but she was gone just as quickly, namely because she really was just a plot device for Kevin not to feel alone, and meeting Allison and understanding the absurdity of his manipulation was enough to send her running for the door. This show has certainly been creative and memorable, and I’m glad to see it end on such a poignant and worthwhile note.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: B+
Season MVP: Mary Hollis Inboden as Patty
Season grade: B+
Series MVP: Annie Murphy as Allison
Best Season: Season 2
Best Episode: Series finale

Friday, October 14, 2022

Pilot Review: Let the Right One In

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: House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Lord of the Tides” (B+)

For a moment there, it actually looked like there might have been a peaceful future ahead for the Targaryen family. Given the title of this show’s predecessor and what we know of their descendants, that didn’t feel likely, but seeing Rhaenyra and Alicent come together for the sake of their father after so many years of viciousness was unexpectedly uplifting. There’s nothing quite as powerful as a man written off as just about dead coming in to speak in no uncertain terms what his wishes are and to question why it is that a decided matter is once again being brought up for debate. Vaemond was also very explicit in his accusation that Rhaenyra’s heirs were in fact bastards, and Viserys didn’t have time to follow through on his order to have his tongue cut out before Daemon went ahead and sliced off his head, a startling show of loyalty to both his wife and his brother. Viserys’ dying request from Alicent may still spell trouble, but the toxic environment in which the children have been raised is enough to ensure eternal infighting. When the adults were able to be civil for once, it was the initially timid and now fearless Aemond who was quick to instigate his cousins. That he can now beat his teacher Criston is not a good thing for any descendant of Rhaenyra. But after hanging on for a startlingly long time, Viserys is finally dead, and now the challenges to Rhaenyra’s rule become less theoretical and likely more violent ahead of the upcoming season finale.

Pilot Review: Fire Country

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

Thursday, October 13, 2022

What I’m Watching: Bad Sisters

Bad Sisters: Season 1, Episode 9 “Going Rogue” (B+)

I sincerely hope that we don’t have just one more episode left of this show, and there’s certainly still so much left to be sorted out. I was right that JP wasn’t dead even though Becka thought that was the case, but it was so much worse than that. Becka will surely be racked by guilt over killing Minna by accident, and that explains why she was at the bar and ended up sleeping with Matt, a development that’s now causing a much more significant strain between brothers than it is between sisters. JP just isn’t capable of leaving anything alone, and making Eva’s life at work hell was a step too far. He also doesn’t even try to hide his evilness, and Roger managed to figure out that he was the one who had posed as Oscar to get him in trouble. Telling Roger that he doesn’t get to forgive him since forgiveness trickles downwards was even crueler than most of what he’s done before, and now it’s looking a lot like he could be the one who ultimately killed him. The other top suspect is Ben, who didn’t seem to have any qualms about confronting JP and who, along with Ursual, was unaccounted for when the other three sisters arrived at the cottage to have Grace tell them JP was finally dead. In the present, it was fascinating to see Theresa take initiative to try to help her husband, though now she may be in very bad shape, and Thomas will be feeling especially vindictive if anything happens to her and he’s able to take out his pain on the Garvey sisters.

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 4, Episode 5 “Work Ethic!” (B)

It must be fascinating to get inside Donald Glover’s mind and map out a season of this show. This episode was definitely creepy, reminiscent of past installments that felt supernatural in nature. I had a feeling that Glover was the one portraying Mr. Chocolate, who finally made his appearance towards the end of the episode when Van just couldn’t stand it anymore as Lottie was constantly moved from set to set without her knowledge or permission. There were plenty of red flags along the way, like how Lottie was just pulled onto the stage when she told the mean man to shut up and all of a sudden was promoted to number three on the call sheet. Zazie Beetz did a great job of conveying the terror that she felt as a mother suddenly without her child, and she was as freaked out by the people allegedly trying to help her, like the Christian woman who shot a security guard in the foot so that she could barge in to Mr. Chocolate’s private residence. Apparently Mr. Chocolate is meant to be a send-up of Tyler Perry, who I can’t imagine is quite as omniscient as the unseen voice on the speaker commanding everyone who had never met him. His continued assurances of “We’ll fix it in post” were entertaining given my recent interviews with sound mixer Peter Devlin talking about how crazy it was when he first came to the United States that directors wanted to fix things in post rather than getting it right the first time. This was a tremendous exaggeration of all that, but an effective and haunting one.

Pilot Review: Alaska Daily

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, October 12, 2022

Pilot Review: Walker: Independence

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.

Round Two: So Help Me Todd

So Help Me Todd: Season 1, Episode 2 “Co-Pilot” (B-)

I’m debating whether I’m going to stick with this show, and I think I might if it was only half an hour rather than a full hour. It’s also just much sillier than I’d like, with Todd barely able to take himself seriously. He’s so technologically advanced, with a recording device at the trial rigged to ping him if particular words are said, but he also has absolutely no clue how to interact with other human beings. There’s so much illegal stuff that he does that he just dismisses as fine, but it’s definitely problematic. Sure, Lyle is obnoxious and is all about paperwork, but that’s needed because Todd doesn’t care about it at all, taking his mother’s “at all costs” attitude very far in order to justify anything he does. Now, Margaret does that too, pressuring her daughter to confirm someone’s presence at the hospital when that’s definitely not allowed, even if she pretended she wasn’t actually acknowledging it. She doesn’t seem to have any problem making Todd work his way up, not even bothering to tell people he was coming or giving him more than a closet and a footstool. She’s also dealing with the same treatment - and sometimes the exact same language - from her own boss, Alistair, who can’t see the value that she brings to the table. Both mother and son are over-the-top, and this show might be worth one more episode to see if it still emphasizes the absurd or starts to rein that in slightly.

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 2 “Alberta’s Podcast” (B+)

I had forgotten that this show used to focus each episode on one of the ghosts, and now that we’re in season two, it was good to get a chance to revisit Alberta. I had a lovely conversation with actress Danielle Pinnock a few months ago, and I’m sure she enjoyed the opportunity to delve more into the character’s past. Everyone was similarly unexcited about bringing Todd back, Lewis exempted, but Alberta was so dismayed to be exposed as a rat that even she was sad to lose Todd as a fan when he found out what she had done. The best surprise of all, of course, was saved for the end of the episode, which was with the photograph of Clara which some of the other ghosts recognized, meaning that she’s now the prime suspect in Alberta’s murder. I’m not sure how quickly that’s going to be solved because I feel like an undue focus on just one character would be unlikely, but it’s a nice clue nonetheless. Isaac congratulating everyone on a great gasp was a fun moment, certainly more entertaining for us the audience than for someone like Jay, who didn’t even get Sam to explain her gasp until much later. I do appreciate that Pete is actively rooting for Jay’s death because he wants them to just be best friends already. Flower suggesting that Hetty try relaxing with the broken washing machine was a fun subplot, and it was fun to hear her give alternate suggestions for achieving that same feeling after she had to say a tearful goodbye when the new silent machine arrived.

What I’m Watching: She-Hulk

She-Hulk: Season 1, Episode 8 “Ribbit and Rip It” (B+)

Now this was a fun episode. I appreciated more than ever how the initial case helped form the plot of the episode, with Jennifer making the unfortunate decision to go up against Luke because his suit was apparently defective (even though it was Eugene who had ignored the manufacturer’s instructions). The introduction of Matt Murdock as Luke’s counsel was fantastic and also logical given that he too needs a supersuit. I loved that Jennifer found herself attracted to him when they had a drink but then thought that he was rushing out on her, only to then unmask him minutes later when she showed up as She-Hulk in her awesome new suit to help her terrified client. Things obviously weren’t as they seemed, and it was great fun to hear them talking legal strategy while they were fighting off the goons and then arguing about who the lead superhero was. It was also very funny that the theme music from Daredevil’s old Netflix show started playing when he said who he was and Jennifer affirmed that she had never heard of him. I like that he might be able to return in the future, but at the moment, Jennifer and, more importantly, She-Hulk have much more pressing problems. Hulking out when the footage of her having sex played while she was accepting her award seemed to terrify everyone, with Mallory warning her not to and Holden rushing away was not a good development, and all her humorous direct camera address about how weird this gala happening now was a misdirect for a dramatic ending leading into what I hope will be an enjoyable and worthwhile finale.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Pilot Review: A Friend of the Family

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: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 3, Episode 3 “A Brief History of Crime” (B)

This show is offering a series of misdirects about its characters, starting with Luke, who was perfectly happy to move on right away from his missing girlfriend but may not have been responsible for her murder. Avery is starting to take, or at least feign, an interest in what his stepdaughter wants to do, though their digging isn’t going to take them anywhere good. Walter got spotted by Cassie, who would have had his truck inspected if Denise hadn’t rushed her to get back on the road, and Sunny seems like the kind of parent who will do anything to protect her family, even from law enforcement. It felt considerably more casual and lighthearted than usual to see Beau and Jenny go undercover, posing as a married couple who couldn’t quite get their story straight in order to catch Harold in the act. The introduction of Rosanna Arquette as Jenny’s estranged mother felt innocuous enough at first, but having her use Jenny to get the money back from the man who was her partner has now sent her daughter spiraling, deeply hurt by a betrayal of trust that hadn’t really even been earned again. That she brought the money directly to Tonya is going to make her the target of Jenny’s rage when she puts those pieces together, and it’s a good thing that it’s Beau and not Tubb in charge now since otherwise Jenny wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this case. What’s not clear is whether the two primary cases are connected, but I imagine they’re not since there’s always a lot happening on this show.