I’m still in the process of trying to get caught up with everything. I still need to watch the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead and the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead. I also look forward to checking out CNN+ next month.
61st Street (Sunday Night, AMC)
The second episode of 61st Street was only a slight improvement over the first. I liked the scenes involving Courtney B. Vance and his son and I actually kind of wish that the entire show was just about those two characters. The rest of the episode was painfully heavy-handed and, most importantly, it still had no sense of place. For all the show’s attempts to be a Chicago show (and, perhaps even more importantly, a 61st Street show), the setting still felt generic. For a show like this to reach the lofty heights to which it aspires, Chicago would have to become a character in much the same way that Baltimore was a character in The Wire or New York City was a character in a few of the better episodes of Law & Order. 61st Street isn’t there yet.
Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)
I had two episodes of this British sitcom on the DVR. In the aftermath of the attempted rescue of the British airmen from the Chateau, Herr Flick was briefly arrested, Rene continued to be annoyed by the demands put upon him, and Michelle continued to say things only once. The airmen were eventually rescued, which led to another round of trying to find and sell the stolen painting. In the end, Rene has to disguise himself as a priest. It was all a bit confusing.
Atlanta (Thursday Night, FX)
After four years, Donald Glover’s surreal comedy-drama is back. Actually, it’s been back since March but it was only this week that I was able to catch up with it. I watched the first three episodes on Tuesday. The first episode was a disturbing horror story, about a black child who is forced into the foster system and who is nearly murdered by his white foster parents. This episode turned out to all be a dream but, at the same time, it was also based on a very real murder case and it stuck closely to what actually happened. This was followed by episodes that followed Earn, Al, Darius, and Van as they explored first Amsterdam and then London. The third episode, which dealt with rich white guilt and the white savior complex , was particularly well-done.
I watched the fourth and the fifth episodes on Thursday afternoon. The fourth episode featured none of the regular characters and told the surreal story of a white man (Justin Bartha) who was being sued by the descendant of a slave who was owned by his ancestors. A character from the first episode made an appearance, still talking about what it meant to be white. I assume this was meant to indicate that this episode may have been another dream but, as opposed to the first episode, it didn’t end with Earn waking up so …. who knows? The fifth episode featured the search for Al’s missing phone and, though it was a bit more obviously comedic than the previous episode, it was also a bit unsettling. It was obvious that the phone was meant to represent much more than just a phone, that it was instead a symbol of both Al’s talent and his individuality.
This bring us to the most recent episode, “White Fashion.” “White Fashion” opens with a London fashion house making a huge mistake when they sell a terrifying but all too plausible “Central Park 5” jersey. Looking to do damage control, they bring in Al and a host of other social justice influencers. “Racism will be over by 2024!” one of them shouts during the press conference. Al’s attempt to get the company to make a commitment to investing in black communities leads to a terrifying but, again, all too plausible black-and-white commercial in which a collection of people, ranging from a gender fluid cowboy to a posh old lady, announce that this is “our hood.” Meanwhile, Darius took a white woman to a Nigerian restaurant and, within our hours, the woman had bought the restaurant and transformed it into her own take on Nigerian food. Earn and Van danced together in a nice hotel room but then Earn woke up alone, leaving us all to wonder if perhaps this entire season has just been a collection of dreams.
Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)
Better Call Saul is back, in all of its twisty and grimly funny glory. Knowing that Bob Odenkirk nearly died during shooting does add an extra poignancy to the show’s final season. This Monday, AMC aired the first two episodes of Season 6. The characters, with their complete and total amorality, remains fascinating.
The Doctors (Tuesday morning, Syndication)
I drove my Dad to a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. An episode of this amazingly vacuous talk show was playing in the front lobby. I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to it. I mean, I was already in a doctor’s office. Why would I want to watch a show that would only remind me of that?
The Girl From Plainville (Hulu)
This week’s episode of The Girl From Plainville really overestimated the excitement that can be generated by watching people read text messages aloud. The show has moved on to the trial portion of Michelle Carter’s story, which is a bit dull since the actual trial was already televised so it’s not as if The Girl From Plainville is showing us something new. The episode also featured scenes of Michelle and Conrad dealing with their own mental health and the main theme seemed to be that, even if Michelle hadn’t met him, Conrad would have been doomed by growing up in his dysfunctional family. Seriously, there is not a single character on this show who is the least bit likable.
Only Murders In The Building (Hulu)
I binged the first season of Only Murders In The Building on Friday and Saturday. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez play three mismatched true crime aficionados who end up solving a murder in their building, along with starting a true crime podcast. I could have done without the dead cat but, for the most part, I really liked this show. Maybe it’s because I’ve always wanted to solve a mystery myself. Amy Ryan, Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, and especially Martin Short all gave wonderful performances in the lead roles. As well, Nathan Lane was wonderfully (and surprisingly) menacing in the episodes in which he appeared. And, of course, Sting played himself and was basically the guy that you would never want to live next to. This show wonderfully captured the current morbidity of our national cuture.
Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)
I actually had two episodes of Open All Hours on my DVR. I watch them both. It was a depressing hour. I found myself wondering why Granville never tried to run away. What power did Arkwright have over him?
Rachael Ray (Tuesday morning, Syndication)
When I took my Dad to a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I watched two shows in the front lobby. The first was The Doctors. The second was Rachael Ray. Personally, I like Rachael Ray but I think she would get mad at me if she ever saw me trying to cook.
Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)