Thursday, May 11, 2023

What I’m Watching: The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Art of the Steel” (B+)

I like that we’re seeing different members of the Nicoletti family interact with Emma, and that Bird wasn’t just there to challenge her but instead to point out that her perspective might be somewhat warped since being honest with her meant that he had put them at risk. That the two of them decided to work a con of their own together in service of getting Patrick released from jail was fun, as was the fact that Emma pretty much got to pretend to be Daphne. Getting to bail Leo out when he got arrested was a major win for her, and it’s a good thing that he has so many people looking out for him. Bird tracking him was a helpful start, and Charlie was more than ready to step in to play a caddy even though he didn’t know just moments earlier that his dad was pulling a job. I recognized Matthew Glave from past paternal roles in “Better Things” and “Rebel,” and the way in which he so eagerly bet thousands of dollars on each golf hole made him a worthy target of revenge. Fran seems very concerned about her husband’s well-being, and my concern continues to be that Daphne is going to just walk right in when Emma happens to be visiting the bar since they keep not meeting at a safer secret location. But Daphne also has her hands full at the moment, with Patrick well aware that Connor wasn’t the child who got him released from jail but also seemingly intent on only using her until she’s no longer an asset, something that’s sure to make her angry and even more eager to seize control of this empire before they push her out.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

What I’m Watching: Lucky Hank

Lucky Hank: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Clock” (B+)

There was a lot going on in this episode, which used some clever dinner party-themed framing to anchor its events. Hank trying to get people to move the grandfather clock in was a great way of summarizing all of the relationships and personality dynamics at play, and by the time Tony was willing to help him, he didn’t even seem focused on the task at hand anymore. It was extremely uncomfortable to hear Hank so thoughtlessly dismiss Lily wanting to have a real conversation about taking the job that would be great for her, and that only got worse when Hank saw the text from Tom and then he expressly said that he wasn’t going even if she was. This was the definition of airing private affairs in public, and Lily hit right back with the happiness percentage game, which Hank failed miserably. Things took a much more serious turn when Hank started crying and flashed back to the memory of a suicide attempt, indicative of much greater trauma buried under his sarcastic personality. Paul’s unhinged desire to have Hank’s house was a lot, and he managed to redeem himself somewhat by telling an endearing story about affection that started with him being married to someone else. Gracie continues to be a lot, and I enjoyed her getting stuck when she wanted to come up with a good retort when Paul treated her just as he always does. Emma seemed ready to mess with Tony by telling him about June and Teddy’s open marriage, and they both took over making him squirm when he tried to ask just her out. I love that only Emma knows the by-laws even though, as she said, they’re really not very long or complicated at all.

Monday, May 8, 2023

What I’m Watching: Succession

Succession: Season 4, Episode 4 “Honeymoon States” (B+)

The aftermath of Logan’s death may not have been quite as emotionally devastating, but tensions were absolutely very high and there were some harsh words uttered by many members of the Roy family and their closest associates. Karl not holding back with Tom about what he really thought of him was particularly vicious, and Greg is doing a miserable job of trying to stay relevant when no one wants him around. That Logan wrote that he wanted Kendall to take over and then either crossed it out or underlined it is maddening, and seeing the three youngest Roy siblings weigh in on the situation is mesmerizing. Connor’s concern that Ron was improperly politically defining his father felt far from critical, and offering up $63 million to buy the place from Marcia felt intensely out of touch with the way everyone else, even his siblings, are operating. His swing states “honeymoon” is also a humorous concept, even if Willa is adjusting to the way living with his extraordinary wealth and delusion will change her day-to-day. Marcia was quite cruel to Kerry when she showed up at the apartment, and when Roman is defending someone, it feels as if a line has been crossed. Stewy showed his transparent loyalty to Kendall, who also directed Hugo to derail his dead father’s reputation despite the objection of his siblings. Matsson still wanting them to come to the retreat feels like an overreach, but these kids will do anything to stay in power, even while those who haven’t “pre-grieved” are still mourning.

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 5, Episode 2 “bestest place on the earth” (B+)

Barry is going down a dark path, flashing back to his childhood and his first time meeting Fuches, and repeatedly apologizing to Sally when she came to see him show that he knows that people don’t see him as a good person, which is not what he wants. The trajectory of events in this episode was fascinating and also deeply stressful, since Fuches decided not to take his deal to stand by Barry while Hank planned to rescue him, and now that he’s the one cooperating with authorities, Hank is going to use his newly-gathered squad to kill Barry instead. That entire operation is so on brand for this show, with Cristobal and Hank preparing the ultimate presentation to convince sworn enemies to join together for a common cause at the Dave and Buster’s in Torrance. My favorite part was them admitting that they might not end up with a romantic connection like them as a “unicorn.” While Cousineau went to great lengths to (literally) string along Lon to get him to hear his story, his most potent scene was the one where Sally confronted him for not telling her his suspicions about Barry. I’m always pleased to see Matt Servitto, a mainstay from “The Sopranos” and “Banshee,” as Gale Winograd, the lawyer whose manipulative methods are surely inspired all too much from the real tactics of sleazy advocates who wish to hide the obvious guilt of their clients by putting on a show that makes a mockery of the legal system.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

What I’m Watching: Barry (Season Premiere)

Barry: Season 4, Episode 1 “Yikes” (B+)

I had the chance to attend an FYC screening a few months ago that featured the fantastic season three episode “810N” where Bill Hader expressed just how bold a decision it was to send Barry to prison. And it’s playing out in a way that feels so uniquely like this show, with Barry isolated from the people he knows and wandering around in a world that he still fully doesn’t understand. He seemed sincere when he told Cousineau that he just wanted to protect him, and after his acting teacher responded in a very harsh manner, he ended up taking a dark turn by egging on a sympathetic guard by telling him he was a cop killer to bring on a beating. Fuches was ready to turn on Barry right away to save himself, but that shot of him pulling the wire out and cradling his old friend suggests that maybe he does really care about Barry more than anything. Sally is unsurprisingly spiraling, and her family seems more interested in being offended about her show than taking care of her. Hank, who is living a nice but boring life with Cristobal in Santa Fe, got spooked by someone else answering Barry’s phone pretending to be him, and he too is going to head right back into dangerous territory to try to protect an old buddy. I’m intrigued by Jim’s newfound relationship with Cousineau, and I’m thrilled to see a terrific and underrated actor, Patrick Fischler, join this season as a reporter who really wants to tell Janice’s story.

Pilot Review: Waco: The Aftermath

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

Saturday, May 6, 2023

What I'm Watching: Blindspotting (Season 2)

I had the chance to review the entire second season of “Blindspotting” for AwardsWatch - head over there to read my take on the complete second season.

Pilot Review: The Last Thing He Told Me

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

Friday, May 5, 2023

What I’m Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 5, Episode 3 “Typos and Torsos” (B+)

This episode offered the longest introduction yet to Midge as an older Jewish mother, interacting with a completely flummoxed Ethan, who couldn’t stand that his mother still wasn’t able to call his educational journey anything but “rabbi school” when she came by helicopter to visit him on a kibbutz in Israel in 1984. Joel seemed very set on not having Ethan go to a therapist, but we saw right away how that would eventually work out. Abe did enough damage after the embarrassing mistake of spelling Carol Channing’s name wrong when he told Ethan about all the things that should really have scared him. This was a big episode for meddling parents, with Shirley and Moishe driving Joel crazy at the club and then hiring a squad of Yiddish-speaking operatives to extract Mei from China when Joel told them that’s where she went. Susie as Rose’s muscle is a humorous concept, and one that has apparently enabled Susie to establish the kind of power she’s always wanted. Midge was quite shocked that they put in her joke, and her audible groan when Gordon messed it up on air was uncomfortable. He apparently finds her charm irresistible, and that ice skating scene was one of this show’s typically impressive glorious visual sequences. It creates a sense of magic and grounds the show in its time period setting, even as the future threatens to collide with the past as this show nears its end. I’m eager to finish it up but also want to savor it before it’s completely over.

What I’m Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 5, Episode 2 “It's a Man, Man, Man, Man World” (B+)

I have strong flashes about future teases, and I think this show is doing a great job in its final season, showing fleeting glimpses that offer more context than we’re realistically going to get without ensuring that the events we see are so tied to where they end up. The older Midge has found success but also continued to live in chaos, with four husbands and a fallout with Susie, which all tracks. It wasn’t too surprising that no one believed that Midge had actually been hired by Gordon, and she had enough trouble trying to convince her new colleagues that she was now an employee. That office is an entirely different kind of ridiculous, but there’s such a fun cast involved, including Eddie Kaye Thomas as Adam, Michael Cyril Creighton as Mel, and Peter Friedman as the much-hated George. The bathroom song and her obsession with sitting outfits were highlights, as was the episode-closing emphasis that she knew her joke about Eisenhower and diapers was funny. I loved that she ran into - and tried to run away from - Sylvio on the train, and asking Joel if he shrunk because he was wearing someone else’s clothes was also hilarious. It’s good that even Zelda gets a secret relationship she wasn’t hiding that only Susie bothered to notice, and the romantic developments between Abe and Rose were quite awkward and amusing. Gabe’s reaction to Abe very directly asking him about what that touch on the leg meant was fun to watch, and I like that Abe’s first response to a near-affair was to take his wife to that same place to recreate the moment with her.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

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

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 5, Episode 1 “Go Forward” (B+)

It’s a real pleasure to have this show back, even if this is officially the final season. Opening in 1981 with an older Esther as a fast-talking scientist obsessed with not getting her mother’s approval was an entertaining and interesting choice, and I actually found it perfectly palatable. The Midge we saw following her wintry wandering was not at all the same person she typically is, and all that talk of the kids and her toe amounted to little as she ended up returning to her normal self in no time. Like season four’s fateful ferris wheel, the dinner was quite memorable also, with Astrid deciding to switch placecards so that Abe, who insisted that he was a grownup, ended up at the kids’ table, and Shirley and Moishe broke the news that they decided to get divorced, a decision that seems fairly mutual given the litany of issues they apparently have with each other. Joel sharing his own relationship news was obviously jumping the gun considering what Mei (played by the now Oscar-nominated Stephanie Hsu) told him about both Chicago and the baby when he came home. The way he chose to deal with that wasn’t great, and it’s going to be an uphill road for him this season. His standup act was particularly vicious and poorly-received. Susie is persistent as ever, and despite Mike trying to ban her from midtown, she figured out exactly the right way to literally get in front of him and argue to Gordon directly that he should add a woman - this woman - to his writing staff. That’s going to be a new, fun change, and we’ll see just how well Midge can play with others.

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 19 “Ghost Father of the Bride” (B)

While it’s possible they’ll be written off as crazy, Sam and Jay should really try telling the truth with more people since the reactions to those they have let in on the secret haven’t been nearly as bad as they could have been. They didn’t quite do that in this case, but Laura was ultimately moved by the apparent presence of her father’s spirit around her, even if he forgot that it was actually orchids when he was so obsessed with getting the right flowers that she didn’t even remember. Kids are always tricky too, so Little Pete was so familiar with his grandfather’s journal that he was able to tell that something had been added recently. Carol’s attitude was terrible, but there’s also a reason Pete was interested in making things special for his daughter and not his wife. I had honestly forgotten all about Crash and don’t think he really needed to make a return appearance, but it did give us Isaac and Alberta as a crime-solving duo, which was fun. Jay farting because he didn’t know the ghosts were in the room and Thor suggesting trying the carrots after the stick were other humorous subplots that helped make this episode decently entertaining. Maybe the successful wedding will bring more business to this struggling establishment, which caters far too much to its undead inhabitants to really be able to focus on figuring out how to best serve the living guests who might be able to help them afford to keep it afloat.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Picard (Penultimate Episode)

Star Trek: Picard: Season 3, Episode 9 “Võx” (B+)

This episode went from zero to one hundred very quickly, with that startling shot of the Borg cube that Deanna saw turning into a longstanding plot to assimilate the entire fleet. I’m somewhat surprised that the Borg ended up being the major enemy since the Borg Queen (played by the late Annie Wersching) was such a focus of the first two seasons, but I guess it does make some sense given Picard’s time as Locutus and the intense stakes that it sets for this show’s sure-to-be-epic series finale. You’d think that Starfleet would know better than to create a network that ensured the entire fleet could move in joint formation given its potential to be hacked and used against them, but evidently they haven’t seen “Battlestar Galactica.” It did set up a fun scenario in which this crew was thrilled to be so old since those under twenty-five were susceptible to assimilation and may be beyond saving. Geordi having the original Enterprise ready to go sets up the perfect comeback for this crew in the finale, though the odds are very much still stacked against them, with little hope of other reinforcements like Janeway showing up since they theoretically would have been present when the ships were all taken over and the unassimilated were eliminated. Shaw dying and giving the conn to Seven of Nine - by name - was a fitting end for a great new character played by the talented Todd Stashwick, and we’ll see how many of the original characters survive the finale, which I’m very excited to watch.

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Season 2, Episode 8 “Pursuit of Happiness” (B+)

This episode featured a truly dark turn for Carlton, who blacked out and lost his car but fortunately chose to call his mother to come pick him up rather than making the situation worse by attempting to hide what happened. Geoffrey is aware of the extent to which Carlton is in trouble, and hopefully this will be enough to scare Carlton straight and encourage him to seek the help he needs. Things are tense among the men in the Banks household, with Phil not happy that Will kept walking out of every room he entered and Will also not putting much stock into Carlton’s “for what it’s worth” apology. Will is also making some typically questionable decisions, standing up Jackie so that he can be there for Lisa while her new stepmother gives birth. Doc is officially out of the picture in a major way now that his taking bribes has been exposed, and that’s not going to be a positive development for Will and his career. It’s not clear what’s going on with Phil and his business loyalties after a heartfelt tribute to his deceased former partner. Viv confronted Erica quite directly about their past issues, but that may be a moot point if Phil isn’t going anywhere. Viv, on the other hand, has apparently done quite well for herself, by standing by her principles and now potentially taking the job of the person who she felt was holding her back, which is certainly something she did not expect.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Pilot Review: Obsession

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: Florida Man

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.