Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 1/30/22 — 2/5/22

As I promised last week, I spent most of this week getting caught up on movies.  Here’s some thoughts on what little television I did watch:

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

Though the episode aired on Sunday, I didn’t get to watch it until Friday and I have to admit that I was a bit out of it at the time, so don’t even ask me to explain just what exactly happened.  I do remember that Officer Crabtree had a conversation in which he mangled the French language.  I know that happens every episode but still, it always makes me laugh.

The Amazing Race (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of The Amazing Race here!

The Bachelor (Monday Night, ABC)

Claytonbot continued to learn human emotions while the bachelorettes continued to accuse each other of not being on the show for the right reasons.  Claytonbot even cancelled the cocktail party due to some drama that was definitely totally real and in no way staged.  Like, totally, for real.

Bar Rescue (Weekday Mornings, Paramount TV)

I watched an episode on Tuesday.  A bartender couldn’t make the perfect Manhattan so Jon Taffer condemned everyone who worked at the bar to Hell.

Celebrity Big Brother (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Night)

I wrote about Celebrity Big Brother, the show that I love to hate, over at the Big Brother Blog.

Football Game: Bengals vs. Chiefs (Sunday Night, Fox)

I was happy when the Bengals won because they wear those cute helmets with the stripes.

Football Games: 49ers vs Rams (Sunday afternoon, CBS)

Everyone’s a winner as far as I’m concerned!  Yay!  But, on a much more realistic note, the Rams won.  Or was it the 49ers?  I can’t remember for sure.  Either way, congrats.

Full House (Sunday Mornings, MeTV)

I watched two episodes on Sunday.  Uncle Jesse was upset that no one cared about his crappy cover band.  I have to wonder if the band themselves ever resented having all of Danny Tanner’s bratty children wandering around the place while they were trying to rehearse.  Also, why didn’t they rehearse in the garage as opposed to that cramped living room?  I haven’t seen that many episodes of Full House but I’m getting the feeling that this show often did not make sense.

The Love Boat (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

It was a Halloween episode so everyone wore a costume.  Woo hoo!

The Office (All Week, Comedy Central)

On Friday, I watched the “Search Committee” episode, which I’ve always considered to be one of those shows biggest mistakes.  This was after Michael had left, D’Angelo had died, and Dwight had fired a gun in the office.  Jo appointed Gabe, Jim, and Toby to interview applicants to be the new manager and, of course, all of the applicants were played by celebrities.  The cameos were distracting and I still don’t understand why James Spader’s bland take on Robert California led to the show being massively restructured during the following season.  Of the celebs who interviewed, Ray Romano actually came across like he would have been the best fit for the show’s style but, if I remember correctly, Romano was already on another show at the time.  Personally, I think that, instead of trying to find another Steve Carell, they should have just hired some nondescript nobody to play the manager and spent the last seasons of The Office concentrating on the people working there.

I can still remember watching this episode when it originally aired.  At the time, I actually felt a bit of dread when Andy Bernard showed up to be interviewed because I knew he was probably going to end up with the job.  Andy was a funny character during his first two seasons with the show but, after that, Ed Helms’s performance started to become oddly needy.  All of the flaws that made Andy an unfortunate choice to be at the center of the season 8 were present in the “Search Committee” episode.

Finally, I have to ask — why would Jo put Jim on the Committee?  How does that make any sense?  He already had managerial experience so why didn’t she just promote him?

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

Granville seemed to be really upset about something.  As usual, Arkwright was too busy obsessing on Nurse Gladys Emmanuel to care.  This was definitely an episode that I had seen before.

Pam & Tommy (Hulu)

I wrote about the first three episodes of Pam & Tommy here.

Parking Wars (Tuesday Morning, A&E)

The indie towing guys took a man’s truck and then laughed when the man said that he was going to lose his job and wouldn’t be able to feed his family.  What a bunch of scumbags.  “I feel bad for him but he came here cussing and I got no sympathy for that.”  ANY SYMPATHY, you illiterate fascist!

The View (Weekday Mornings, ABC)

It’s been a very long time since I’ve watched The View but I decided to watch it on Tuesday to see how they would deal with Whoopi Goldberg outing herself as being incredibly ignorant on the subject of the Holocaust.  It turns out that they didn’t really deal with it.  Whoopi briefly interviewed the president of the ADL, who mentioned that The View had never had a Jewish co-host.  The show then went to commercial and we came back with Whoopi and the gang talking about “you know who,” which I guess is their way of referring to Trump.  Later, Charlie Day was interviewed.  I like Charlie Day.  For one thing, he’s not an anti-Semite.

That night, after the show aired, ABC announced that Whoopi would be suspended for two weeks.  For the record, I don’t think Whoopi’s comments were malicious, at least not in the way that Nick Cannon’s anti-Semitic comments were.  (It’s kind of weird how Nick basically repeated the same anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have, for centuries, been used to justify the persecution of the Jewish people but, afterwards, was allowed to keep his job as host of The Masked Singer and was also giving his own talk show.  Like seriously, how the Hell does that happen?)  I think Whoopi’s comments were ignorant and the fact that she doubled down on them, on both the show and apparently later on Colbert, shows the type of arrogance that only comes from never having to deal with anyone openly disagreeing with you.  I’d rather that, instead of suspending her and waiting for everything the blow over, The View would have used this opportunity to educate both Goldberg and the show’s viewers.  Whoopi Goldberg is 66 years old and, we are constantly told, a smart woman.  That she could be so ignorant is definitely a cause for concern.

The Winter Olympics (Weekdays, NBC and other stations)

I’ve tried to watch a little of The Olympics but the whole thing just feels icky this year.  As soon as the Olympics Committee guy started quoting John Lennon during the opening ceremonies, I had to look away.  I imagine I’ll watch a bit of skating and maybe some curling.  But I’m definitely in no way enthusiastic about the Olympics this year.

Reacher, S1 Ep1, “Welcome to Margrave” Review by Case Wright (Dir. Thomas Vincent)

Reacher is the greatest show in ten-years! In fairness, I’m a fan of Alan Ritchson (Titans) and Malcolm Goodwin (iZombie). These men have deserved a series for A WHILE!!! It’s great to see talented people have success. It’s how it should be. It reaffirms the power of great art; it can’t be stopped. Thomas Vincent, the director, appears to be on the arthouse side. I was stunned to find out that an arthouse director pulled me into this action packed show by my proverbials. Nick Santora wrote this pilot perfectly. I was pulled deeper into every scene. We need to work on new adjectives to describe how good this show is.

What makes a great Pilot? It has to establish all of the characters, immediate danger/conflict, a mythology, and show not tell. This show had barely any exposition at all. I haven’t seen that done in years. In a time, when lazy writing is the norm, this show tosses all of that aside. Alan was born to play this part. I will get into this deeper later on, but he has the most believable portrayal of a Veteran since Battlestar Galactica. Someone helped Alan act like us and he did a great job of it.

“Welcome to Margrave” opens with Jack Reacher walking toward a diner with no obvious possessions. Reacher is rapidly arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and he’s pulled into this town’s intrigue and bodies are dropping. He walks with some discomfort, which is clear in the pilot until the last scene. Why was this important? Veterans always kind of feel a little naked because we’re permanently out of uniform. We never really get over it. We’re always just a little fish out of water.

Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) the chief detective has no idea where to begin to solve these murders. The town is just 1700 people in there are two people dead by the end of the pilot. Finlay discerns that a local business accountant Paul Hubble is involved and tries to get him to talk to Reacher by locking them both up at the local prison. However, unknown to Finlay, someone wants Reacher and Paul dead. Let’s take just a moment to offer some respect to the writer and director for opting for the hard road of storytelling. They’ve set all of this conflict up without an exposition fest -that takes talent and discipline. It also leads to the greatest fight scene I’ve ever seen. Not since the Titans “Pilot” did I see a fight scene of this caliber. It topped it.

This show has heart, violence, mystery and intensity. Reacher discovers that the second body is his brother Joe. His physicality changes; he’s more relaxed in both speech and walking. Why? Because now Reacher has a mission: Revenge. Alan Ritchson pulled this transformation off brilliantly.

I have to also discuss Malcolm Goodwin as Finlay. His marriage is failed and now his career is a mess because this town is confronted with two murders in two days. His performance is like a pressure cooker; he’s trying desperately not to explode. I loved it.

I highly recommend this show. It should be picked up immediately!

TV Review: Pam & Tommy Episode 1-3 (dir by Craig Gillipsie)

Currently (and, presumably, forever) available on Hulu, Pam & Tommy is a miniseries about …. well, it’s about many things.

It’s about the mid-90s, a time when people still used terms like “World Wide Web” and where no one thought twice about having to wait two or three minutes for one lousy web site to finish loading.  It’s about a time when dial-up internet was still considered to be something of an exotic luxury.  It’s about a time when the number one show in the entire world was the critically derided Baywatch and the show’s star, Pamela Anderson, was trying to make the jump from television to film.

It’s also about the early days of online porn and how it was first discovered that people would pay money to watch celebrity sex tapes.  It may seem strange to consider that this was something that needed to be discovered but, if you believe Pam & Tommy, apparently no one thought there was an audience for celebrity sex tapes before 1996.  Today, of course, celebrity sex tapes are so common place that they’re often leaked by the celebrity themselves.  Where would the Kardashians be if not for the celebrity sex tape industry?  Could it be that Kim owes as much of her success to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee as she does to O.J. Simpson?  Perhaps, which is a polite way of saying yes.

Pam & Tommy is also about the brief marriage of Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan).  When Pam & Tommy begins, Pam, as mentioned above, is the star of the number one show in the world.  Despite being a star, she’s not respected as an actress.  Instead, she’s usually treated as just being a body.  The show’s producers and directors have no trouble cutting her big monologue on a whim but they spend several minutes discussing just how tight her red swimsuit should be.  (After cutting her monologue, they condescendingly thank her for being a team player.)  Pam has a very earnest and somewhat heart-breaking desire to be taken seriously as an actress.  She describes Jane Fonda as being her role model.  Meanwhile, Tommy Lee is, for lack of a better term, an idiot.  He’s also a drummer for a band that used to be big.  He travels with an entourage.  His body is covered with tattoos, the majority of which have no meaning to him beyond, “I just thought it looked cool.”  Tommy is usually an arrogant bully, the epitome of the spoiled rock star.  Occasionally, with Pam, he’s sweet but if this miniseries stays true to what actually happened during Pam and Tommy’s marriage, that sweetness is not going to last.

Finally, Pam & Tommy is the story of Rand Gautheir (Seth Rogen).  Much like Tommy, Rand is a moron.  However, Rand has neither Tommy’s looks nor his swagger.  Instead, he’s just a schlub who works as a carpenter and tries way too hard to present himself as being an intellectual.  After Tommy humiliates Rand by firing him from a remodeling job, Rand retaliates by stealing a safe from Tommy’s garage.  (Tommy doesn’t even notice that it’s missing.)  Inside the safe, Rand finds a sex tape that Tommy and Pam made on their honeymoon.  With the help of gangster Butchie Periano (Andrew Dice Clay) and adult film veteran “Uncle” Miltie (Nick Offerman), Rand puts the video on the internet and plans to make a fortune.  Rand tells himself that he’s doing it because Tommy didn’t pay him for his work but it’s clear that Rand’s main motivation is jealousy.  Why should Tommy get a huge house and a beautiful wife while Rand is stuck in his little apartment?  Rand is at least as smart as Tommy.  Of course, the same could probably be said of the dog that Pam purchases when she and Tommy return from their honeymoon.

In other words, Pam & Tommy is about a very specific cultural moment.  So far, the series is taking a stylized approach to the material, mixing occasionally broad comedy with more dramatic moments.  Needless to say, it’s a bit uneven.  During the second episode, Tommy actually has a conversation with his penis about whether or not he should marry Pam.  It’s a funny idea but the scene itself goes on forever and, ultimately, the whole thing says more about the importance of generating twitter buzz than it does about why Tommy and Pam ended up getting married after knowing each other for only a handful of days.  The first three episodes were directed by Craig Gillipsie, who also directed I, Tonya.  Much like that film, Pam & Tommy is occasionally insightful but it also sometimes seems to get bogged down in its own condescending attitude towards the people who are at the center of its story.

And yet, there are also enough moments that work in Pam & Tommy that I’ll definitely watch the rest of the show.  So far, this is a series that is largely saved by its cast.  Seth Rogen has recently been so intent on presenting himself as being the only man in Hollywood with integrity that it’s easy to forget that he’s always been at his most entertaining (and sympathetic) whenever he’s been cast as a complete loser and it’s hard to think of anyone who could be a bigger loser than the character he plays in Pam & Tommy.  Sebastian Stan plays Tommy as being a destructive manchild and, for the first two episodes, he’s pretty obnoxious.  By the third episode, though, Stan is given a few quieter scenes and he manages to suggest that there’s something more to Tommy than just rock star bravado.  And finally, Lily James gives a wonderfully empathetic performance as Pamela Anderson, capturing her earnest desire to be something more than just a sex symbol.

The first three episodes of Pam & Tommy dropped on Hulu this week.  The remaining five episodes will be released on a weekly basis.  I don’t really know how you get 8 episodes out of this particular story but I guess I’ll find out soon.  Hopefully, the show will continue to focus on the best thing that it has going for it, its cast.