Tuesday, February 28, 2023

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Season 2, Episode 2 “Speaking Truth” (B+)

Just as soon as we met Mrs. Hughes, she found herself fired, and apparently for something that really isn’t right, not teaching to a curriculum that may not be as inclusive or modern as the school’s administrators would like to think. Making her into a beloved teacher that all the Banks kids had helps turn it into a much more global issue, one that may end up getting Carlton into a good deal of trouble if Will goes through with the planned walkout that will be put firmly on Carlton’s shoulders as the one who initially suggested it. It’s a good thing that Phil stepped in to talk to Doc when he emphasized the importance of winning, and even better that Doc was smart enough to be cooperative and involve Will’s family members rather than go around them. Jackie being Doc’s niece is an interesting development, one that’s likely to get Will into trouble if he opts to pursue that romantic avenue. Geoffrey is back in the house, which is great, though he obviously has a lot of baggage to deal with regarding his own son, which I’m sure will come up eventually. Phil and Viv were even more blindsided than Jazz when Hilary had them over and introduced him as her boyfriend, and I hope there’s not too much awkwardness there. I do appreciate that nothing bad happened with the car and instead the mere fact of Ivy driving it threatened to undo their newly-formed and only semi-public relationship.

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air (Season Premiere)

Bel-Air: Season 2, Episode 1 “A Fresh Start” (B+)

It’s good to see this show back for a second outing, and things are definitely in a different place than they were when the show started. Living away from home with his reluctant extended roommate Jazz, Will is flashing lots of cash and making his own way, and fortunately it didn’t take much for him to be invited back into the fold and, more importantly, the Bel-Air family home. Getting that call from Doc at the end of the episode filled him with joy, but obviously there are ulterior motives that will eventually come to light and likely prove quite crushing. Telling Lisa that he loved her but that they needed to take a break was respectful but also difficult, and things are sure to be awkward if Will ends up pursuing something with his new dog owner friend Jackie. Both Phil and Viv are experiencing their own challenges getting back into their respective workplaces, and while their work-life balance situations have improved, particularly for Phil, it’s demoralizing for them both to feel like they’re essentially starting over. I don’t think that making out with Jazz seconds after Ivy tried to kiss him will strengthen Hilary’s professional partnership, but it should at least give her less to worry about on one level since she’s no longer keeping that romantic relationship secret. I’m intrigued to see a new focus on Ashley this season and her teacher played by none other than Tatyana Ali, who portrayed Ashley in the original series. Carlton also seems to be headed in a good direction with the Black Student Union, which is a nice change for someone who wasn’t doing all that well socially last season.

Monday, February 27, 2023

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Picard

Star Trek: Picard: Season 3, Episode 2 “Disengage” (B+)

Well, nothing is going particularly to plan, but at least none of the main characters have died yet. Jack may be Picard’s son, as Riker suspected and Beverly confirmed, but he also does appear to be exactly the intergalactic criminal that his pursuers claim. Leaving two high-ranking Starfleet officials to die wouldn’t have been a great look, but now Shaw has no choice but to engage entirely with a mission that will, as he said, put five hundred people aboard his ship very much at risk. Their enemy seems to relish the chase, and Amanda Plummer is giving quite the scenery-chewing performance. Throwing a ship at them was an intense show of power, and it’s about time the remaining members of Picard’s original crew catch up to them and help them take on this latest nemesis. Raffi made the difficult choice to go after information rather than reconnect with her son, but at least Worf was there to save her and ensure that she didn’t end up like the man she claimed to know whose head was no longer attached to his body. She knows a good deal, and it will be worthwhile to see her and Seven reunite at some point in the near future, provided both of them survive that long. The present moment isn’t exactly the best time for tender reunions or for processing decades-old relationships that led to undisclosed and now fully-grown children, but multitasking is an important part of being a competent officer aboard a Federation starship beyond the reaches of Federation space.

What I’m Watching: Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet: Season 1, Episode 4 “Not Dating Yet” (B-)

I can appreciate that this show is evolving slightly and not spending quite as much time on its obituary subjects, instead focusing on Nell’s personal life related to the living. I was still very pleased to see Don Lake, a standout comedic member of the ensemble of the sadly-canceled and underrated Netflix series “Space Force,” as the mathematician who encouraged Nell not to tip as generously and was just about to solve his equation when Nell hit send on his obituary and he promptly disappeared. The invasive efforts of Sam, Dennis, and Lexi to set her up with someone felt quite forced, and you’d think they could have done a slightly better job of picking the right people. Sam was fawning over the devoted dad she brought for him but then got turned off when he was way too into his kids and nothing else, while Dennis’ pick was all about the love languages and Lexi’s was apparently a good match for the office salad fiend who makes salads with other people in mind as gifts for them (not loving that character). And Dennis did win out somewhat in that he gave Edward a brief playmate who could have been a great friend for him but served his purpose before being summarily dismissed at the end of the game. Nell’s meet-cute at the end of the episode did feel too good to be true, and I wonder whether she can manage to keep him around for a while by not writing his obituary or if that would just be too painful and sad.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

What I’m Watching: Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary: Season 2, Episode 16 “Teacher’s Conference” (B+)

It finally happened! This show deserves a lot of credit for keeping Gregory and Janine apart for this long, and for making their first kiss as intense and passionate as it was (Janine grabbing him by the lanyard was a nice touch) only to then have the two of them both agree that it was a mistake. Amber had little trouble cutting Gregory loose when he proposed an activity-filled weekend in the Poconos that wouldn’t allow her to relax at all, and I feel like Maurice is at least a slightly better fit for Janine, even if he did still get her a bag with nothing in it since that was the gift. Let’s hope that Amber steps in to tell Maurice that he’s wasting his time, though having Gregory and Janine actually start dating could end up being very awkward. I did almost forget that Jacob was gay and in a committed relationship when he met what seemed like the female version of him, but the allure was cover for the fact that the very fate of Abbott is in jeopardy with a potential charter transformation coming soon. It wasn’t explicitly confirmed as the same game, but I’m a huge One Night Ultimate Werewolf fan, and it’s fun to think that Jacob is too. Despite their best efforts to avoid getting sucked into lackluster conference conversations, Barbara and Melissa got some crucial networking done and even got Melissa close enough to her sister for her to receive that extremely important information about the charter change right before Janine repeatedly shouted her name so that anyone could hear.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 9, Episode 3 “Rogues of War” (B-)

I stopped watching “Batwoman” midway through its first season, before the introduction of Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder. I assume that if I had kept up, I’d be much more excited about the big reveal that this new Reverse-Flash Red Death enemy is actually none other than Ryan herself, albeit apparently with a major axe to grind with the Flash. She has assembled quite a crew, and even managed to get Mark on board because he’s still upset with Barry and company for not letting him bring Frost back to life. Working with Hartley to assemble their own ragtag band of criminals with helpful abilities was somewhat fun, though I’ll admit that it’s sometimes hard to remember these characters. Max Adler’s Jaco Birch appeared recently enough, and I’d never forget Katee Sackhoff’s guest spot, which came at the same time as Damion Poitier’s earlier appearances as Goldface. There was plenty of tension in that group, and Mark’s betrayal didn’t help things at all, but the one positive is they’re now aware of who they’re facing to some degree. Khione is turning out to be less fluffy and unhelpful that it might have initially seemed, and she certainly pushed a grumpy and noncommittal Allegra in the right direction when it comes to Chester, a romance that may have to wait to sort itself out until this final nemesis is defeated. I enjoyed the fact that Barry and Iris were able to impress a cruel French chef with their crème brûlée, if only because they had mastered it thanks to forty sessions in Flash time.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

SAG Winner Predictions

The Screen Actors Guild Awards will be handed out tomorrow night. Check out my winner predictions over at FilmFactual!

What I'm Watching: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 2, Episode 5 “Ride or Die” (B)

I’m glad that this whole Meredith thing appears to have come to an end without being dragged out for too long, and while it’s going to take some time for Jesse to be okay, at least he was able to stop it before he had to relive his trauma over and over again in an even more public way. Ellen was able to focus on her brother and be there for him, enough to push him to advocate for himself when Meredith completely shut him down because she was only interested in what her fans wanted to see. Charlie, on the other hand, is not in fact smarter than he seems, sending a very transparent cookie basket to Sid that he thought would cause him to experience dairy discomfort but instead required an epipen that he had taken thinking it was a vape pen. But the timing did work out very well, and it’s good for Sid not to be alone anymore, something that Hannah insisted he should be able to do for a short period of time. I was pleased to recognize Victor Rasuk from “The Baker and the Beauty” as Oscar, the guy who Valentina’s parents wanted to set Sophie up with, but that whole plotline got a bit convoluted with all the deception and attempts to own someone else. I do hope that we might see Oscar again in some capacity since I think he could be a good fit for either of them as they wait around before eventually going after Charlie and Jesse, respectively.

Pilot Review: The Company You Keep

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 24, 2023

What I’m Watching: Your Honor

Your Honor: Season 2, Episode 6 “Chapter Sixteen” (B)

Well, this tied things together in an interesting and unexpected way. There was something decidedly awkward about Michael having his mother-in-law pick him up from the police station where he was being interviewed about potentially killing her daughter, but that just provided a helpful opportunity for the two of them to knock down doors together, with her providing the honey that his straightforward, gruff approach often lacks. We’ve seen a great deal of corruption in the New Orleans that this show has created, but now there’s a cop who is going around executing people, with his latest target the unfortunately-identified Eugene. Carlo seemed to have a slight change of heart when he heard the facts presented by Eugene following the car crash, but Eugene still ended up getting killed by someone else with a vested interest in him being dead. Carlo leaving to go meet Joey while he was supposed to be babysitting his nephew and then leaving the woman he called for sex to watch him was not a good move, and there’s more than enough Baxter family drama already with Jimmy taking out his frustrations with his father-in-law on his most loyal deputy. If nothing else, at least Fia is finding a sympathetic spirit in the priest with an open-minded view on baptism. I do worry that Nancy having Michael come straight to the police station is a trap, but this doesn’t feel like that type of show, with more than enough misery able to present itself without that kind of dramatic, conspiratorial twist.

What I’m Watching: The Last of Us

The Last of Us: Season 1, Episode 6 “Kin” (B+)

I was a bit surprised that Joel managed to find Tommy so quickly when I expected that to be the endgame of this show, but there was also something all too realistic about their reunion. It seemed like the dog was going to sniff out Ellie’s bite but instead she bonded very well with the dog, and they were brought straight to the safe haven established in Jackson. Joel immediately made an enemy of Maria, played by Rutina Wesley from “True Blood,” before learning that she was with Tommy now, and that put up a great deal of distance between the two brothers. It makes sense that the maintenance of these functional cities in a post-apocalyptic world would require strict borders and an insular nature, and that doesn’t track with Joel’s mission to bring Ellie to the fireflies. Knowing that his brother is alive but that they’re not the same people they used to be is almost worse than not having found him in the first place, though it’s possible that Ellie will try to return given that Joel is not in good shape and seems ready to die, which would be quite startling considering he’s the star of the show. The early scene with Graham Greene and Elaine Miles was a mildly humorous look at what it looks like to survive outside of the post-apocalyptic equivalent of a gated community, with important questions like whether Florence was telling the real truth that Marlon should confirm. I also enjoyed the lighter moments with Ellie claiming that Joel couldn’t make the shot because the gun didn’t aim right and then her expressly mocking Joel’s “still time to find out.” The two of them riding off into the Western sunset also felt like a shot out of a completely different show.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Take Three: Hello Tomorrow!

Hello Tomorrow! Season 1, Episode 3 “A Traveling Salesman Travels” (B)

This show’s pacing is deliberately slow and feels very dated, and that could be cumbersome going forward since there’s no rush to get to the end of it. But there are still very worthwhile moments along the way and some interesting character revelations that change things considerably, particularly the episode’s final scene. Myrtle didn’t read her contract and was therefore extremely dismayed to learn that the launch wasn’t going to happen right away, and she was counting on Herb to be able to help her through it. Instead, Eddie walked in on her and Herb’s wife was convinced they were having an affair – something she didn’t bother to clarify because she was angry enough at the married man for other reasons – and then she spent a long time on hold before lashing out at the customer service provided by this company. That was the perfect setup for her to be truly seen by the inspector who Shirley had brushed off just moments earlier, and while the protection of her consumer rights may not catch up with this crew right away, it’s sure to eventually throw them off their guard. Shirley letting Eddie use some of the company money to repay his gambling debts won’t turn out well, but the bigger issue is Jack staying on top of everything. His mother nearly revealed his true identity to a clueless Joey, who was once again swayed by Jack’s magical presentations to stick with the team, even if that means leaving his comatose mother behind.

Round Two: Hello Tomorrow!

Hello Tomorrow!: Season 1, Episode 2 “Great Salesmen Make Their Own Turf” (B)

I was intrigued by the ending of the first episode, which indicated that there is actually no housing on the moon and that Jack is the only one who knows the truth. But there’s so much more to all of this, with each of these characters hiding their own secrets and presenting a particular version of themselves to the outside world. Eddie and Herb are both very competitive, and we got to see how that worked when they went after different targets during the same sale. Eddie has a severe gambling problem that resulted in his fingers getting broken, and he doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of stopping soon, going in even more with other people’s money to try to solve his financial problems. Jack is devoting all his energy to crafting Joey into the perfect salesman, and while he didn’t have a great first day, he was enterprising enough to pay someone to let him stand inside so that it looked like he was doing well. And, in the end, he went back to his old job and managed to sell the person who believed in him least without even trying that hard. Shelling out for those front-row game seats was well worth the investment. I will say that those nachos look very hard to eat, and I appreciate little details like that which add to the wonder of this imagined universe. I’m also so intrigued by Alison Pill’s character, Myrtle, and the little we’ve seen of her so far, namely setting up meat to cook and then burning down the house without seeming to mind all that much.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Pilot Review: Hello Tomorrow!

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: Shrinking

Shrinking: Season 1, Episode 5 “Woof” (B+)

I love the character dynamics on this show and how everything is so complicated by other factors. Gaby could barely contain her excitement at Paul coming in to talk to her about his patients but quickly realized that he was only there because he wasn’t talking to Jimmy, and she wasn’t about to be anyone’s sloppy seconds. Alice was the one who got him to show up and be there for Jimmy, albeit in a way that still found him calling him a schmuck and helping Sean to open up in the process. Opening up about not telling his daughter about his Parkinson’s was very vulnerable, and I imagine we’ll be seeing more of Meg in the near future as she grapples with this bombshell news about her father’s health. Brian has plenty to work out also, apparently always on the verge of proposing to Charlie but never going through with it, and Gaby didn’t bother to pretend not to be ecstatic and overjoyed when he came in to be her patient. These friends and colleagues definitely have some serious boundary issues related to their personal and professional lives, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. The newfound friendship between Liz and Gaby is terrific especially because they still don’t see eye to eye on certain things, like Liz’s obsession with rocks. I enjoy Alice’s park bench meetings with Paul most, and I loved Paul’s insistence that he’s always mad and he’s always sitting, two things that are very possible to do at the same time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 15 “A Date to Remember” (B+)

I’ve been curious about how Flower’s mind works since she seems to forget everything all the time due to how high she always was when she was alive and the nature of her death, but apparently she’s able to use that to her advantage too. Pretending to forget the date threatened to make Thor want to repeat it over and over for eternity until it stuck, but she gave away that it was all a ruse when Sam, Jay, and Thor couldn’t remember what Sam’s planted improv suggestion for Pete was and she accidentally offered it up. Getting to see a more serious side of her was a nice treat, and it’s good that Thor reacted in the right way. Jay is right that they need to start establishing more boundaries with the ghosts so that they can focus on themselves, and it was the least Thor could do to serve as a bouncer and ensure that the other ghosts didn’t bother Sam with petty requests while she was finally getting to enjoy a night alone with Jay after repeated cancellations got them banned from his favorite restaurant. I knew that Nigel asking to join Hetty and Isaac for their weekly ponder was going to stir up trouble, and Hetty planning a rival party so that no one showed up to Nigel’s tea party had exactly the effect she wanted. The two of them apologizing to Isaac and then reiterating their distaste for each other when he left was a great moment in what’s sure to be a long-standing rivalry that will be very entertaining to watch.

Pilot Review: Animal Control

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

Monday, February 20, 2023

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Picard (Season Premiere)

Star Trek: Picard: Season 3, Episode 1 “The Next Generation” (B+)

I’ll start off by saying that I grew up watching “Star Trek: Voyager” rather than “The Next Generation,” and therefore I don’t have the excitement for the reunion of the entire original cast that most Trekkies do. But I can appreciate the fact that they’re all coming back for what promises to be an intense and worthwhile swan song following up an already enlivening and interesting second season with Q changing everything. I may miss some cues others will get right away, but I have to imagine there’s a new audience that can appreciate this as if all the characters were entirely new. Bringing Riker back in this episode was particularly fun, and I very much enjoyed the banter the two of them have. Putting Seven in an uncomfortable position was unfortunate, and her captain is not soon going to forgive her for what she’s done. I will note that actor Todd Stashwick always plays despicable people, but in real life, he’s a very nice guy - I spotted him walking near the red carpet for “Ted Lasso” and pulled him over to talk about his support for his “12 Monkeys” costar Hannah Waddingham. Raffi seemed to be on her own undercover mission, but that major explosion feels like it has to be connected to what they’re doing, a typically uphill battle that’s going to require quite a few allies for them to win. I liked Picard’s quote at the start of the episode: “I am not a man who needs a legacy. I want a new adventure.”

Take Three: Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet: Season 1, Episode 3 “Not Out of High School Yet” (B-)

I’m still waiting to see whether this show is just a fun opportunity to see talented actors in underwhelming roles or if it will eventually elevate itself beyond its premise. In this episode, it was at least good to see Brittany Snow as Piper, Nell’s high school tormenter who was proud of the fact that she fell off a cliff taking a selfie. Getting assigned a front-page obituary because Piper had four million followers was yet another way to torture Nell, who managed to come through and outdo the aggressive Mason who will hopefully now realize that he’s just an intern (albeit with an office) and not on the same level as Nell. Cricket’s relationship with Nell continues to be a dynamic and worthwhile one, and it’s good that she’s able to be honest with her and then to support her in the way she needs, prompting her to give a rousing speech about being seen that got Piper to complement her former target. I’m still not sold on Lexi as a character since she’s nothing but irritating without much redeeming value, but I did appreciate the other office antics that took place. Dennis was legitimately paralyzed when the basketball rolled towards him, and Sam was more than happy to take on a managerial role in forcing him to overcome his allergy to sports and get good at shooting. Her methods weren’t exactly kind, but it was a good way to make up for apparently being the eager bully in high school, something Dennis and Nell could easily realize from the way she talked about her experiences.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 9, Episode 2 “Hear No Evil” (B-)

I’m not feeling especially patient right now with this show, though it’s impossible to give up with less than a dozen episodes left after investing more than 170 hours of my life into it. It’s going to take a while, I’d imagine, for us to learn who’s behind the Reverse-Flash’s mask, and if it’s just another version of Eobard Thawne, I don’t know why we don’t know that yet. There’s still the puzzling Batman connection, and the only reason it could all be worth it if it’s actually a setup to get to see handful of Arrowverse characters again before this TV universe closes for good. But I don’t think that will be the case, and instead we’re just going to be seeing characters we may have seen before who I’ve completely forgotten about since it’s been years since their last appearances (Hartley is a great example of that). The introduction of Snow, now Khione, a character who isn’t Caitlin and isn’t Frost and is just a simplistic representation of kindness and innocence, feels unnecessary, and the worst part of it is that Mark, whose portrayer Jon Cor is now a series regular, isn’t a member of Team Flash because he doesn’t agree with the decision not to resurrect Frost. It’s just going to be a cyclical game of Team Flash stopping him and then him eventually partnering with them when they have a common enemy. Joe and Cecile don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon despite Joe’s misgivings about staying in Central City, but having major characters depart doesn’t feel nearly as impactful in a show’s final season.

What I’m Watching: Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary: Season 2, Episode 15 “Fire” (B+)

I must admit, I’m a bit intrigued by these carrot cookies that Jacob made that Melissa apparently thought were very good, though they do not sound tasty at all. It’s always sad and uncomfortable to see characters - namely Jacob and Janine - picked on and mocked relentlessly, especially when they’re sometimes the ones who have it much more together. Melissa’s firefighting obsession did get to be a lot for her students and for the firefighters, and Jacob devised the perfect way to give her a chance to shine and finally allow them to leave, even if the firefighters tried to throw his cookies at the frisbee first to get it down. I enjoyed seeing Mike O’Malley as the fire chief who had no patience for the many interruptions during his presentation and Barbara’s insistence on still being allowed to light candles. The best guest star, however, was Shalita Grant, who was one of the greatest things about season three of “Search Party,” as Janet, the counselor who gave the camera many terrific looks as she had to deal with all the personalities at the school. This would also be a good Emmy episode for Sheryl Lee Ralph, giving her some great scenes to showcase. Gregory appointing himself interim principal after Ava bolted was an entertaining storyline, one that saw him get very serious and ahead of himself. That it didn’t last is sure to make him angrier since, spa days aside, Ava doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, further proving that incompetence sometimes does manage to win the day.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

What I’m Watching: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 2, Episode 4 “Pathetic Deirdre” (B)

I did not recognize Eden Sher, an actress who I first knew from her role in the underrated “Sons and Daughters” and who is best known for starring in “The Middle,” as Pathetic Deirdre, and that could be because I thought she was much younger than she actually is (just a few years younger than me. It feels like Sophie and Valentina should have realized that they were not good people and that they were just using her to make themselves feel better about themselves (which they admitted), but that made it fun when they found out that she thought of them in the same way. The crowd did turn on her eventually, but there were no parts of that reading that felt good. Charlie’s attempts to move on from Valentina didn’t work out so well since his breakup gift basket was interpreted by his first hookup, who he thought he might give a chance until she was furious to see the delivery of many such baskets to the bar. Ellen’s “Rich City Bitch Ellen” routine wasn’t all that entertaining, and I feel like this show is capable of being funny without showing its characters falling from ceiling vents after walking up fifty-plus flights of stairs on their first day of their work. Meredith shutting down all of Jesse’s notes as she presents their breakup and reconnection to her followers wasn’t surprising, and unfortunately Sid speaking his mind to look out for his best friend had the opposite effect of what he wanted. He’ll surely see sometime soon, but Sid can’t be the one to tell him that anymore since he’s not at all interested in listening.

Friday, February 17, 2023

What I’m Watching: Your Honor

Your Honor: Season 2, Episode 5 “Chapter Fifteen” (B)

Well, here’s a twist I didn’t see coming, and one that doesn’t jump out at me as anything I would have suspected. Michael apparently felt like he didn’t need to be in a position to cooperate anymore after reading Charlie in and seeing how his best friend was ready to work with Olivia to ensure his own deal, and that wasn’t a great start given her newfound alliance with Nancy. Being arrested for his suspected involvement in the death of his wife feels like it came from out of nowhere, but I’ll be curious to see if that has anything at all to do with the Baxter family or if it’s entirely disconnected. The biggest Baxter family issue at the moment seems to be the impending baptism of the baby, which may be happening with Carlo, a moderately-redeemed character in comparison to his parents, as the godfather. Jimmy is likely to snap sooner or later if his father-in-law sticks around, though he’s likely also working up something else with Gina that may not involve Jimmy as the one in charge. Big Mo is making tough decisions too in terms of who she’s supporting, and somehow Eugene seems to have dug himself out of the hole and is now in her good graces. But it’s never a good idea to underestimate, as Michael can now attest to, the consequences of decisions made long ago since they may well come back to haunt you even after it seems like they’re completely put to bed and forgotten.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

What I’m Watching: The Last of Us

The Last of Us: Season 1, Episode 5 “Endure and Survive” (B+)

Aside from compelling characters and a very worthwhile storyline, this show also presents plenty of food for thought regarding how to behave in a post-apocalyptic world. Kathleen assured the captured collaborators that they would be given a fair trial before threatening to shoot them so they would talk and then explaining to her subordinates that they should instead just be summarily killed. That ruthlessness evidently stems from the way in which the resistance fighters were treated when FEDRA was in charge, but she’s also taken it a step further, expressing that her brother told her to forgive Henry before he was killed and that she was intent on hunting him down anyway. Telling him that kids die all the time when he offered to give himself up so that the kids could go free showed how intent she was on revenge, and she took that to her last breath, running from the infected with her sights still set on vengeance. That scene where the truck fell into the sinkhole and then the infected just came rushing out was very well-done and extremely terrifying, and Ellie was lucky to have Joel there to shoot from afar as she tried to save Sam. While this outcome was a melancholy one, I’m glad that Ellie’s mysterious health isn’t just that easily contagious, and that her trying to heal Sam didn’t work, because that would make things too simple. It was still very sad to see Henry shoot Sam instinctively and then, upon realizing what he had done, take his own life too. They could have been great allies for Joel and Ellie, but instead they’re just another reminder of what they’ve lost along the way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

What I’m Watching: Shrinking

Shrinking: Season 1, Episode 4 “Potatoes” (B+)

I love the investment in the supporting characters on this show and those who can’t even be considered supporting but still get some fun moments. Derek is a great example, peeing in the bushes in the morning and then offering to kick Jimmy’s ass for his wife, only to express gratitude that he doesn’t have to since he loves that guy. It was fun to meet Connor, Liz’s son who’s home from college and apparently slept with Alice, something that Jimmy had trouble being a “cool dad” about and which wasn’t made any better by Connor concluding that he should have asked Jimmy’s permission. Gaby and Liz hating each other is a great subplot, and I’m glad that they had the chance to drink together and share sex stories that made them feel much closer. Brian also being ignored by Paul makes some sense, and it was great to meet Paul’s daughter Meg, played by the lovely Lily Rabe (one of the first actresses I interviewed over Zoom just over two years ago for her role in “The Undoing”), who doesn’t know that he has Parkinson’s. Paul and Gaby singing along to the music in the car on the way to work was a highlight, as was the look on Jimmy’s face when he woke up in the guest house after hearing Alice call Sean beautiful. That therapy situation is already very complicated and not working all that well, and Alice having an attraction to him, even if it’s not reciprocated, is going to drive Jimmy crazy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 14 “Trevor’s Body” (B+)

It’s hardly surprising to know that Trevor is all about getting anyone action, even if that’s his parents, something that he encouraged fully until he found out that all of the other ghosts were in there and watched them having sex. Tara Reid playing herself didn’t add much but did produce an entertaining moment in which he tried to trip her so that she would end up as a ghost in the house, but at least Trevor did get some closure on the fact that he wasn’t responsible for his parents’ divorce. I like that they actually spoke to him, addressing him as if he was in the room and explicitly saying that he wasn’t to blame. I liked that the ghosts have spent enough time together that Alberta was spouting off Yiddish words like “mispacha” to describe Trevor’s family, and it was fun to see how all the ghosts, especially Hetty, reacted to Trevor trying to get his parents back together. Jay’s responses to all of the ghost plans that he doesn’t fully hear are always entertaining, and he’s really doing his best in the face of very challenging circumstances. I’m glad that Isaac and Nigel were able to come to an arrangement after their relationship appeared doomed, and that Isaac continues to want to take things painfully slow even though that’s not what Nigel wants. But at least it’s better than the guy Thor suggested who really just wanted to go very fast, which was enough to send Isaac right back to Nigel without much hesitation.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Round Two: Not Dead Yet

Not Dead Yet: Season 1, Episode 2 “Not a Tiger Yet” (B)

I like the actresses on this show and appreciate the chance to see them back on TV, but I’m not sure that this material is all that sophisticated. The fact that Sam has to be able to “speak Lexi” and translate basic concepts that are spoken in English to her doesn’t feel like it’s all that realistic, sort of like the lobster lunches that she puts on when the company is hemorrhaging money and her “book of chances.” But Nell is desperate, leading to her giving up her closet office to the intern who hates her and also thinks she’s an intern even though that’s not the case. Jane Marvel acting as an admittedly quite condescending motivational speaker to whip her into shape added a fun dimension to the storyline. What I can appreciate much more is the evolving relationship between Nell and Edward which incorporates actor Rick Glassman’s real-life identity on the spectrum. Pushing to get a table was a big battle, and he responded both with directness and attempts at sarcasm which she continues to digest as sincere because she gets her information on TikTok. Having Edward come with her to the bar where he was refreshingly blunt with Cricket was fun, as was how the two of them ganged up to make Nell feel like she was pushing too far when the two of them knew exactly where to stop. More moments like that will help to elevate this show and help it grow behind a thin workplace setting.

What I’m Watching: Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary: Season 2, Episode 14 “Valentine’s Day” (B+)

It was inevitable that the attraction Janine and Gregory feel for each other but only the two of them don’t realize is a thing would come out, and now it’s happened in a way that doesn’t allow either of them to move forward in a very productive way. It wasn’t entirely Jacob’s fault that he accidentally confirmed something Janine hadn’t suspected, but the biggest surprise was that she refused to believe it. The most awkward moment was definitely the non-reaction Amber had to Gregory’s very thoughtful and purposeful gift, while Maurice was disappointed that Janine couldn’t even say the name of the bag that she thought was just a vehicle for the real present correctly. These four are obviously in need of a partner swap, but it’s surely going to take some time for them to realize that’s what’s supposed to happen. If nothing else, at least Gary came through by spelling out “I love you” in the vending machine with chocolates when Melissa was ready to give up all hope. I’m not sure whether this airport restaurant reservations thing is real, nor am I all that confident I’d be interested in trying it out. Ava getting into learning while making Jacob sweat that he was getting fired was a fun and unexpected innovation, and I liked how she shut down the parent who wanted to complain but didn’t realize just how good a job Jacob was doing of incorporating Black History Month material into his curriculum throughout the whole year.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Pilot Review: Not Dead Yet

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 Flash (Season Premiere)

The Flash: Season 9, Episode 1 “Wednesday Ever After” (B)

I’m still a bit disappointed that this show gets to come back for a swan song while the far superior “Legends of Tomorrow” didn’t get that opportunity despite ending on a cliffhanger, and this premiere only served to reinforce that this series is starting over with a new big bad and season-long focus. We do have whatever entity is now neither Caitlin nor Frost, but it’s not clear whether she’s going to be a villain or an ally. I liked the opening that saw Chester, Allegra, and Cecile all participating as members of Team Flash, but that was just a nightmare, and now Joe and Cecile may be leaving Central City. I guess the best environment in which to be experiencing a time loop is one in which recognizing that reality will be met with scientific brainstorming and nothing more, though it did take long enough and a number of violent explosions for them to ultimately right the course. It was good to see Barry and Iris just enjoying spending time together since they’re usually both too stressed to do that, and I do hope that, even if it’s not Cat Grant, we do get some good farewell Arrowverse appearances from the other series in this final iteration of that phenomenon. I’m mildly intrigued by that red bat-signal at the end of the episode, and while it makes some sense for the Reverse-Flash to once again be the villain, haven’t we seen that more than a few times on this show? I’ve made it this far, and I can stick with this show for its final thirteen episodes.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

What I’m Watching: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 2, Episode 3 “The Reset Button” (B)

I’m not overly fond of the future Sophie scenes, but I know that’s part of what comes with the territory with this show and its predecessor. Young Sophie, as played by Hilary Duff, is more than capable of getting herself into trouble, like when she and a hapless Jesse didn’t realize that the man who purchased her photo was a (potentially prominent) men’s rights activist. Jesse saying that Sophie repeating that they were friends made him think they were mortal enemies was my favorite piece of that bit, and it’s obviously going to take them much too long to realize that they are right for each other, even if Jesse is currently still focused on Meredith. Apparently Valentina already knows that she and Charlie are going to eventually end up together, but he’s starting to move on thanks to the coaching of his good friends Sid and Hannah following them using him and his very awkward date for her airline miles rewards perks. I highly doubt that someone who did that for a living would mention it every time she met someone new since this would obviously be the typical reaction. I’m hoping that Hannah needing to leave means that we’ll still see her either on the other side of the country or on visits since she’s a great addition to the show. I also enjoyed the very angry banter between Rachel and Valentina in which they forced Ellen to pick a side and helped her realize that she might need to work on some of her own issues.

Interviews with Abe: Murder in Big Horn

I had the chance to speak with directors Razelle Benally and Matthew Galkin about their Showtime documentary series “Murder in Big Horn,” for CinemaDailyUS.com. Watch the conversation in full below!

Friday, February 10, 2023

What I’m Watching: Your Honor

Your Honor: Season 2, Episode 4 “Part Fourteen” (B)

Jimmy inviting Michael to his birthday party did seem a bit friendly, and it seems it was all to ensure that they are inextricably linked. It’s not just Michael who’s on the hook but also Charlie, who showed up allegedly to get a peek at a baby he should have known would definitely be sleeping. Being brought up and introduced by name to the entire crowd means that Charlie isn’t going to get away clean when Jimmy inevitably goes down. Olivia was also quite reckless in putting a recording device in Michael’s shirt collar, and it’s lucky that he found it given that Frankie pulled the other one out during his not-so-friendly pat down. Jimmy’s concern that Michael is trying to take another child from him isn’t entirely unfounded given Michael’s proven cleverness, though in that case that’s not at all what’s happening. Michael does seem a bit too eager to die, and Jimmy isn’t about to let him off that easily. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize Mark Margolis from “Breaking Bad” as Gina’s father, who she has apparently called in to help fix things because she doesn’t think Jimmy is doing a good job. Big Mo is seeing the consequences of her decisions play out in dangerous ways for her closest associates, and Eugene showing up at her door was a bold move that may or may not get him into trouble given that he’s back in a place where he truly can’t afford to be seen.

What I’m Watching: The Last of Us

The Last of Us: Season 1, Episode 4 “Please Hold to My Hand” (B+)

After introducing two fantastic characters who we won’t meet again (save for flashbacks, of course, but I doubt we’ll have those) in the last episode, this installment brought in a new performer who’s absolutely terrific. Melanie Lynskey is a formidable part of “Yellowjackets,” and this role is completely different, putting her firmly in charge of a new world order that asserts its authority by being unforgiving. It’s really a shame that the underpass was blocked since that lengthy detour put Joel and Ellie in considerable danger and is going to make their trip to Wyoming that much longer, provided they’re even able to continue. And they haven’t even met Kathleen yet, who was willing to kill the doctor who delivered her because he made the wrong decisions about sharing information. Hiding the apparent existence of infected undead in one of the buildings is surely going to catch up with her soon, though the fact that Henry and Sam were able to locate Joel and Ellie means that they’re all now in that much more danger. I did appreciate the scenes in which Joel and Ellie got to banter as usual, with Ellie’s affinity for puns particularly entertaining. They’re also covering serious topics like how to load a gun and the weight of killing someone, an inevitability Joel wanted to spare Ellie from for some time longer even though this apparently wasn’t her first time. I think they’ll be able to team up with Henry and Sam provided everyone is willing to take a moment to listen rather than shoot first.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Interviews with Abe: Dear Edward

I had the chance to attend the red carpet for the new Apple TV+ series “Dear Edward,” on behalf of Awards Radar. Watch some excerpts below!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Pilot Review: Dear Edward

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, February 7, 2023

Take Three: Shrinking

Shrinking: Season 1, Episode 3 “Fifteen Minutes” (B+)

I loved the way this episode started, with Jimmy showing up to crash a date one of his patients was on where he said he was the “COO of the bedroom” and his date expressed that she “might” have to use the bathroom. Jimmy was bold to ask Paul whether he should still be driving, prompting Paul to go in for a doctor’s appointment that he wasn’t sure would work since Wendie Malick’s character was dressed in plainclothes and then pretend to hit him to show that he had passed. Waiting in the passenger seat of Gaby’s car showed that he does want to be in control of his narrative, and it was also a win that she desperately needed after trying to power through a divorce that she wasn’t as excited to get as she initially tried to make it seem. Jimmy did manage to muster up as much enthusiasm as he possibly could on the way there after getting hit by a bike, which produced a startled question about how he was already crying that hard. It didn’t take Jimmy too long to figure out that Paul was secretly helping Alice thanks to that fifteen-minute grief immersion technique, and I also enjoyed the dynamic of Sean’s presence attracting the racist neighbor who Liz did not want to be likened to even though her husband was nice at first to her. I like the friendship that’s building between Sean and Alice, and that Sean immediately rejected Summer’s attempts to come on to him when they were first introduced.

Monday, February 6, 2023

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 13 “Ghost Hunter” (B+)

I do think that reading Freddie in on the whole ghosts thing would have been the better choice, especially since he’s a terrific employee when he takes time to focus on his work rather than on trapping ghosts in a machine that actually does what it’s supposed to do. Thor getting sucked into the machine gave this show the highest stakes I think it’s ever had, and then Flower’s faulty memory led her to be in there too. At least now that means they’ll be able to give romance a try, and Pete doesn’t have to be the third even though that’s what Flower said, in a different context, as soon as he bravely volunteered himself for potential evisceration. Sam and Jay really do go to great lengths to accommodate the ghosts, which is understandable given that Sam has to hear them talking to her and giving her unsolicited advice on a very regular basis. Buying Freddie’s car back after he sold it just so that Sasappis could continue his romance with Jessica was quite the gesture, and Jay wasn’t at all happy that he had to pay more to get him to sell it in the first place and then accept half of what he paid for Jessica to have the freedom to go back on the open road with a driver who is a big fan of KFC. It is sad to a degree to think that these ghosts aren’t able to have any real future outside of the locations they’re forever tied to, but at least this show likes to close its threads on an optimistic note.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Interviews with Abe: The Ark

I had the chance to speak with the stars and showrunners of the new Syfy series “The Ark,” for CinemaDailyUS.com. Watch the conversation in full below!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Pilot Review: The Ark

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 3, 2023

What I’m Watching: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 2, Episode 2 “Midwife Crisis” (B)

While much of this show is very lighthearted and silly, I do appreciate the subtle embedding of much more serious content. Sid’s objections to everything about Meredith felt very petty, but then he decided not to tell Jesse the worst one, which is that he knew she didn’t actually love him. While that might be some sort of act of loyalty, I’d imagine it’s eventually going to come back to haunt him and make Jesse not want to forgive him when things do fall apart. For the moment, we got to see Sophie lie as much as humanly possible while there was no mention of Barney, who I guess was just in the premiere as a tease for HIMYM loyalists in case they were wondering whether or not to stick around. I’m glad that Charlie got something to do other than just pine for Valentina, though his efforts to get Rachel to come over and notice Ellen with an alluring neat apartment ended up having the opposite effect, attracting everyone else in the building and making her feel like she was the only one not invited. Kudos to Ellen for just going for it and suggesting an immediate date rather than returning to their will-they-or-won’t-they-text antics. Sophie putting on makeup outside the bar as soon as she saw that Meredith was inside accidentally in full view of everyone was not a high point, though I think falling into the birthing tub while trying to answer a phone call also didn’t reflect too well on her.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

What I’m Watching: Your Honor

Your Honor: Season 2, Episode 3 “Part Thirteen” (B)

It’s never a good thing to be the last one to know something about your own life, and Michael was not at all happy to get that call from Olivia where she started off by saying “Hi, grandpa.” He also didn’t stand for her asking him what his name was since she was very much already aware, and the fact that both he and Jimmy are now grandfathers to the same baby doesn’t make Jimmy want to kill him any less. Frankie didn’t buy that Jimmy would have understood and forgiven Adam’s fear if he had come to him that night and admitted what he had done, which Jimmy confirmed when he said that he would have killed him with his bare hands. That does negate Jimmy’s point that Michael turned him into a monster when he had a perfectly normal reaction to finding out that his son was dead, and seeing the two of them around the baby is definitely going to be interesting and deeply uncomfortable. Michael managed to spook Carlo with that story of the convicted defendant to whom double jeopardy didn’t apply, showing that he still has some power after Carlo drove him off from spending time with Fia and the baby in the park. Charlie chose to push back against Jimmy but Gina wasn’t having any of it, and now there’s a domino effect in which Eugene is once again in the middle of things thanks to Big Mo’s need to pull funds from one endeavor to fulfill her new premium payment. I like that Olivia wants to use Nancy to help her get to Michael, but she seems just as willing to cooperate as the newly-freed reluctant informant.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Take Three: The Last of Us

The Last of Us: Season 1, Episode 3 “Long, Long Time” (B+)

I like the way that this show handles its storytelling, offering a substantial flashback to fill in information about other characters while largely staying centered on Joel and Ellie’s quest in the present. I’m impressed that their conversations still manage to be fantastic, and that this show could subsist just based on their interactions alone. Ellie wasn’t about to apologize for something she didn’t feel was her fault, and I enjoyed her excitement both at such things as coming across a Cumberland Farms, him getting to fly on a plane (shoved into a middle seat, apparently), and the absolute joy of getting to ride in a car for the first time, comparing it to a spaceship. The meat of this episode, however, was the unexpectedly warm and loving relationship between conspiracy theorist and survivalist Bill and friendly traveler Frank. I was particularly pleased about the casting of Nick Offerman from “Parks and Recreation” as Bill, a perfect role for him, and Murray Bartlett from “The White Lotus” as Frank. There was something very sweet about their relationship and the way it manifested itself, as well as the things they fought about, like the government being Nazis in the present but not back when Bill was convinced that was the case. I liked the use of a song that never fails to add power to any scene, “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter, to showcase their final shared moments. The letter Bill left to “whomever but probably Joel” was a nice touch that allowed their arc to come to a moving and memorable end. Let’s get these men some Emmy nominations come awards season!