We’ve been up in Arkansas for most of this week so I haven’t watched much television. Interestingly enough, I have watched quite a few films and written quite a few reviews. I guess there’s probably a lesson to be learned there.
I have to be honest. As much as I want to get caught up on all of the miniseries and shows that I didn’t get a chance to see over the past few months, it’s difficult to get started. It doesn’t help that even the miniseries that sound interesting are still way too long. I saw a show that I was interested in watching on Netflix but then I checked and I discovered that it’s 10 episodes long, each episode is over 60 minutes, and the first episode deals with the main character’s grandparents. It’s hard for me to justify spending 11 to 12 hours on a show that doesn’t even start with the main storyline. During the pandemic, streaming services could get away with that sort of thing because there were no other options. Today, there are other options, assuming you don’t live in one of those crazy lockdown states up north.
Anyway, here are a few thoughts on what I did watch this week:
1883 (Paramount Plus)
This western miniseries serves as a prequel to Yellowstone, a very popular show that I have yet to really watch. Sam Elliott plays Shea Brennan, an aging and suicidal cowboy who helps to lead a group of German settlers across the frontier. Along for the ride are the Duttons (played by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill) and their teenage daughter, Elsa (Isabel May). It’s a long journey, full of tragedy and violence. Many people die, some from gunshot and some just from accidentally run over by a wagon. Elsa narrates. Shea finds something to live for. The Duttons eventually settle in the land that will serve as the setting of Yellowstone.
Each episode of 1883 was sponsored by a store that sells tractor supplies and that pretty much tells you who the target audience was for the show. For all the graphic violence, sex, and precision F-bombs, 1883 is a fairly old-fashioned western. That said, it was all very well-done and well-acted. Isabel May was the cast standout while Sam Elliott showed that, regardless of how you may feel about his Power of the Dog opinions, he’s still one of the most authentic western actors around. 1883 was long but, even over 10 episodes, there weren’t any slow spots and even potentially distracting cameos from Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Hanks didn’t take away from the show’s narrative momentum.
On a personal note, I liked 1883‘s portrayal of Fort Worth as being the most lawless town in Texas.
Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)
Having stowed away on the airplane that was meant to pick up the British airmen, Edith and Rene found themselves in the UK! They also discovered that Captain Geering (last seen 3 seasons ago) was now working for the British. Edith and Rene received medals for Chuchhill and then, to Rene’s consternation, they were promptly sent back to France. They arrived just in time to keep Momma and LeClerc from performing their new cabaret number.
By Allo Allo standards, this episode was actually fairly coherent.
American Idol (Monday Night, ABC)
Though I kind of lost interest in this season after Hollywood week, I did tune in to see Noah Thompson win the season on Monday. To be honest, Noah seems like he’s destined to be one of the forgotten winners of American Idol but I was still happy to see that he beat the annoyingly quirky Leah Marlene and the annoyingly monikered Huntergirl.
Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)
While this week’s episode didn’t feature anything quite as brilliant as last week’s customer service conversation, it was still a very good episode. Gene’s dinner with Joe Mantegna was cringe comedy at its best. Meanwhile, Sally’s show was canceled despite its RT score. At first, I was a bit worried she would take Barry back but fortunately, Barry ruined the moment and she get kicked him out again.
Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)
Poor Howard! I’ve seen enough of this show and Breaking Bad to know that Howard was probably going to die at some point but I was still upset to see it happen. Patrick Fabian was terrific in the role. Hopefully, the Emmy voters will remember Fabian this year. If nothing else, he’s come a long way since he played Prof. Lasky on Saved By The Bell: The College Years.
On Friday, I watched the third episode of season 3. A tech billionaire destroyed the wrong painting. A prisoner took revenge after his pet spider was killed. It was all enjoyably macabre. Those killer spiders were especially creepy! Agck!
Dynasty (Friday Night, The CW)
All the scheming and the plotting and the melodramatic dialogue continued this week. To be honest, I was a bit out of it on Friday because I had strained my back earlier in the day so I’ll probably have to rewatch Friday’s episode. I just know I’m going to miss Dynasty when it’s gone.
Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)
Maryanne won. I was happy that Maryanne won. I know some people are saying that she only won because she was likable but Maryanne did engineer the Omar blindside so I think she earned her right to claim victory. That said, I am getting a little bit tired of people riding their immunity idols all the way to the end of the game. The show needs to put a time limit on those idols. Anyway, I wrote about the finale for the Reality TV Chat Blog!
We Own This City (Monday Night, HBO)
This week’s episode was a bit heavy-handed but that’s what most of us have to come to expect from David Simon’s recent work. We Own This City works when it’s dealing with the corrupt cops but it comes to a halt whenever the focus shifts to the DOJ investigators. Treat Williams’s cameo as a reform-minded police academy instructor was embarrassingly over-written and felt out-of-place. That said, the good still outweighs the bad when it comes to this show. It may be uneven but, at its best, it’s still a thought-provoking look at the warrior cop mentality and how systemic corruption can destroy a city.