Scenes I Love: Berkman Goes Boom from Barry


Today’s scene that I love is a fairly recent one.  

On Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Barry, hitman-turned-actor Barry Berkman (played by Bill Hader) accepted a contract to blow up a house and the Bolivian gangsters within.  He was given a bomb which had been purchased on the Dark Web and which, unfortunately, had been programmed to continually repeat a phrase in Japanese.  He was also given the Detonator App (developed by KABOOM), which would allow him to remotely detonate the bomb.

The only problem is that the app didn’t seem to be working and as Barry tried to figure out why, some of the gangsters heard the bomb “speaking” underneath the house.  Meanwhile, Fernando — who was not supposed to be in the house when the bomb went off — showed up to talk to his father-in-law.  While Fernando discovered that his own secrets were no longer secret, Barry wondered if he would even be able to get the bomb to go off.

Customer service to the rescue!

As I said, I saw this scene on Sunday and, as Monday comes to a close, I’m still laughing about it.  It almost makes me want to get a job at Kaboom.  This is a wonderfully executed and detailed scene and one of the best that I’ve seen so far this year.

“Alright, sounds like we were successful….”

 

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television — 5/8/22 — 5/14/22


Let’s get to it.

Atlanta (Thursday Night, FX)

Atlanta has been pretty evenly split, this season, between “anthology” episodes and the episodes that follow Earn and Al in Europe.  It’s an interesting format but, as I watched this week’s anthology episode, I really found myself thinking about much more interested I am in what’s going on in Europe.  This week’s episode was filmed in gorgeous black-and-white but the story of a biracial teen passing as white was nowhere near as interesting as what happened to Al in Amsterdam last week.

Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)

This week, Barry attempted to make things up to Gene by getting him a role on a plausibly terrible television show.  Unfortunately, for Barry, it turned out that Gene isn’t just going to forget about Barry murdering his girlfriend in return for a role.  Meanwhile, Sally was forced to take part in a series of vacuous interviews in order to promote her new television series.  Everyone wants to know: “Who should be the next Spider-Man?”

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

This week, we got to see what Saul’s office was like before he redecorated it.  It was kind of a slow episode.  Better Call Saul is always watchable because of the performers but its status as a prequel also means that there’s a certain lack of suspense as to what’s going to happen to everyone.  Still, this week’s episode was worth it for the boxing scene.

Beyond the Edge (Wednesday Night, CBS)

The remaining celebrities continued to try to survive living in the jungle.  Jodie Sweetin finally ran the bell and removed herself from the show, just leaving a bunch of former pro athletes to continue the competition.  I don’t blame her.  Jodie lasted longer than I would have.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

I don’t remember anything that happened during last Sunday’s Brady Bunch episodes so I guess I should count myself lucky.

Candy (Hulu)

I reviewed Hulu’s latest true crime miniseries here!

Dynasty (Friday Night, The CW)

Having missed most of the latest season, I finally got caught up on Dynasty this week and I was reminded of why I enjoy this wonderfully over-the-top and self-aware show.  Unfortunately, no sooner was I caught up than the CW announced that they were canceling the show.  Booooo!

Fantasy Island (Hulu)

Several months after watching the pilot, I finally watched the rest of Fantasy Island’s 1st season this week.  It’s an extremely silly but fun show.  Roselyn Sanchez plays her role with just the right mix of gravitas and mockery.  The show’s a bit heavy-handed at times but I think that’s to be expected.  The island looks lovely and the fantasies themselves are ultimately harmless and good-natured and that’s all the really matters.

Full House (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

If I remember correctly, Jesse was worried that he was losing his cool and Joey said, “Cut it out.”

Ghosts (Paramount Plus)

I finished binging the first season of Ghosts on Monday and Tuesday.  What a sweet show!  I’m kind of amazed that it took me so long to give this show a chance.  I’ll be curious to see what happens with the second season.  Hopefully, the show can keep up its momentum.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

“This story is fictional….”

Yeah, whatever.  This week’s episode started out as an homage to Inventing Anna and then it ended as an homage to Dopesick.  Price decided to make a deal with a murderer so that he could then prosecute the owner of a pharmaceutical company.  It was all because Price’s brother died of a drug overdose.  To be honest, Price didn’t really make his case and he should have been fired for wasting tax payer money on a personal crusade.  But the jury disagreed.  It may sound like I’m trashing this episode but it was actually pretty well-acted and I actually appreciated that it totally turned into a different story during the second half.  That said, I don’t think the Law & Order revival will ever be known for having a particularly nuanced political outlook.

The Love Boat (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

Vicki discovered that one of the passengers was hooked on speed.  Luckily, everything worked out in the end.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I reviewed the latest twist-filled episode of Survivor here!

We Own This City (Monday Night, HBO)

It was a pretty boring episode this week.  The cast is convincing and Baltimore continues to be a fascinating portrait of the American Dream gone bad but David Simon doesn’t really seem to have much to say, beyond pointing out that cops are bad and federal investigators are underfunded.

Miniseries Review: Candy


It’s strange how things work out.

In 1980, something terrible occurred in the town of Wylie, Texas.  Candy Montgomery, who was a Sunday School teacher and who had what seemed like the ideal life, killed Betty Gore.  Betty was reportedly one of Candy’s closest friends but Candy still ended up striking her 41 times with an axe.  After Candy was arrested, she revealed that she had cheated with Betty’s husband.  She also said that she attacked Betty in self-defense.  At her trial, she was ultimately found not guilty.

It was one of those small town scandals that the media tends to love and, 42 years after it all happened, it’s still spoken of down here in Texas.  Every five years or so, there’s a big “where are they now?” article in the Dallas Morning News.  Betty’s widowed husband married a woman that he started dating a few weeks after Betty’s death.  Candy’s lawyer, Don Crowder, tried to launch a political career and, when that failed, got addicted to cocaine and ended up committing suicide.  As for Candy, she divorced the husband who stood with her through the trial and apparently now lives, under a new name, in another town.

Still, despite the case’s continuing notoriety in Texas, I was recently a bit surprised to learn that there was not one but two Candy Montgomery miniseries in development.  HBO has Love and Death, which stars Elizabeth Olsen as Candy.  Love and Death is scheduled to come out later this year and it’ll probably suck because it’s written by David E. Kelley and this is exactly the type of story that’s going to bring out all of his worst instincts.  Meanwhile, Hulu produced Candy, starring Jessica Biel as Candy and Melanie Lynesky as Betty Gore.

Candy aired, over five nights, last week and I have to say that Hulu did a good job of presenting the story.  I’m usually a bit cynical about true crime miniseries (especially ones that are set in small town Texas in the late 70s) but Candy was actually really good.  The first episode featured a somewhat frazzled but always smiling Candy as she tried to balance a day that included swim lessons, bible school, taking the kids to see The Empire Strikes Back, and, of course, killing her best friend.  The final episode featured the courtroom drama, in which the ghost of Betty Gore could only watch as Candy Montgomery made herself the center of the tragedy.  In between, Candy provided a portrait of small-town life, church gossip, a mid-life crisis, and a lot of shag carpeting and wood paneling.  The miniseries balanced melodrama with satire but it also worked as a portrait of a group of people who all realized that their lives hadn’t turned out the way that they wanted them too.  Both Candy and Betty are portrayed as being frustrated and dissatisfied with what the world has to offer them.  The difference is that, while Betty wears her pain for all to see, Candy hides everything behind a quick smile and a superficially friendly manner.  In the end, one gets the feeling that Candy was acquitted because no one wanted to believe that someone who seemed so perfect could do something so horrific.

Candy is also well-served by its cast.  Melanie Lynesky is often heart-breaking as Betty Gore, while also still playing her with just enough anger that Candy’s story of being attacked is not easy to dismiss.  Jessica Biel keeps you guessing as Candy, playing her as someone who you would probably want to be friends with, even though you can’t help but suspect that she would also probably gossip about you behind your back.  Timothy Simons and Pablo Schrieber are well-cast as Candy and Betty’s clueless husbands.  Simons especially deserves some credit for generating sympathy for a character who, as written, could have been portrayed as just being a caricature.  And yes, Justin Timberlake does show up as the deputy who investigated the crime.  While it does feel a bit like stunt casting, Timberlake is convincing once you get used to the 70s porn mustache.

Though it aired without the fanfare that greeted other Hulu miniseries like Dopesick, Pam & Tommy, and The Girl From Plainville, Candy is a compulsively watchable and, at times, even thought-provoking work of true crime.  Without any of the slow spots that marred The Girl From Plainville or Dopesick‘s preachiness, Candy is definitely one that will benefit from being binged.  Check it out the next time you have five hours to kill.

 

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 5/1/22 — 5/7/22


Why didn’t anyone tell me that Ghosts was so good!?  Over the past few days, I’ve been watching it and loving it.

Anyway, here’s some more thoughts on my week in television!

Atlanta (Thursday Night, FX)

During this week’s funny but unsettling episode, Al got stoned in Amsterdam.  It’s possible that he met a mysterious women named Lorraine who warned him about the people around him and who took him to a club where he met Liam Neeson.  It’s also possible that Al hallucinated the whole thing while passed out in a doorway.

Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)

The latest episode of Barry really, really freaked me out.  Basically, Barry found himself with two options.  He could either get Gene a role on a TV show in order to make up for killing Gene’s girlfriend or he could just kill Gene.  Barry was determined to give Gene a second chance and, by extension, himself a second chance.  Barry was trying to do the right thing.  The problem is that Barry is a sociopath who is trying to be the good person that he is incapable of being.

This episode was all about abusive relationships.  Sally is trying to produce her dramedy about her own abusive relationship but she doesn’t seem to understand that her current relationship with Barry is just as abusive as the one she escaped.  (The scene where Barry yelled at her for not casting Gene was legitimately scary.)  Barry is trying to recover from his abusive relationship with Fuches, little realizing that he’s repeating Fuches’s behavior with the way that he’s manipulating Gene.  Is Gene going to end up becoming a hit man by the end of this season?  It could happen.  Meanwhile, the only vaguely healthy relationship on the show, between Noho Hank and Cristobal, came to an end due to them being members of rival criminal gangs.

Bill Hader continues to astound as Barry.  He’s both sincere and terrifying.  Barry truly believes that he’s capable of doing the right thing even though we know he isn’t.  This week’s episode reminded us that Barry can be a scary guy.  When he indicated that he would kill Gene’s grandson if Gene didn’t accept the role that Barry had gotten for him, it was a chilling moment.  I’ll never look at Barry the same way again.

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

Rhea Seehorn directed this week’s episode of Better Call Saul, which featured both Jimmy’s continuing efforts to destroy Howard’s career and also his move into his new office.  Meanwhile, Gus and Mike continued to search for evidence of Lalo still being alive.  This was a well-done episode, one that did a good job of showing how Jimmy McGill transformed into the Saul Goodman who would later be hired by Walter White.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

Oh no!  Marcia lost her diary!  However, this somehow led to her meeting Davy Jones so I guess everything worked out.  This was followed by an episode in which the kids were worried that Mike and Carol were going to sell the house so they pretended to be ghosts.  Then, Carol and Mike had tickets to a show and Alice had a date so Greg and Marcia were left in charge of the house.  Disaster followed.  Then, during Sunday’s fourth episode, Marcia was accused of pulling a prank by her school’s principal.  The principal was played by the distinguished character actor, E.G. Marshall.  One can only guess how Marshall felt about going from Broadway and Oscar-nominated films like 12 Angry Men to appearing on The Brady Bunch.  Actually, he was probably happy for the money.  I hope Marshall was paid well because he definitely classed up the joint.

Full House (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

MeTV aired 4 episodes of Full House on Sunday and I’m struggling to remember much about any of them.  In the first episode, Jesse was worried that he wasn’t smart enough for Rebecca and he proved that he wasn’t by acting stupid.  Rebecca, however, forgave him.  Then, Michelle and Kimmy ended up babysitting some bratty kid who got his head stuck in a bannister.  This was followed by an episode in which Danny started dating again and managed to forgive his date for having a messy apartment.  And then, in our final episode, Michelle started preschool and accidentally set the class’s pet bird free.  So, Danny bought a new bird and demanded that everyone be nice to his daughter, despite the fact that she was kind of a self-centered brat.

Ghosts (Thursday Night, CBS)

What a charming show!  For some reason, I was under the impression that Ghosts was just another gimmicky show but I finally sat down and binged the first eleven episodes on Paramount Plus and I discovered that I was totally wrong.  This is really a sweet, witty, intelligent, and well-acted show and one of my favorites of the season.  I loved the episode where Sam went to see her mom.  That made me tear up.  As for my favorite ghost …. Trevor.  Yep, it has to be Trevor.

The Girl From Plainville (Hulu)

This frustratingly uneven miniseries came to a close this week.  The final episode dealt with the day that Conrad committed suicide and also Michelle’s final days before heading to prison.  Considering just how inconsistent this show has been, the finale was actually pretty effective.  The lengthy fantasy sequence, in which Michelle imagined running into Conrad at a bar while home from the college that, in reality, she’ll never get to attend, worked far better than it had any right to.  In the end, this miniseries didn’t have much to tell us about the suicide of Conrad Roy that we didn’t already know but it did work as a showcase for the talents of Elle Fanning and Colton Ryan.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

I have to admit that, when this week’s episode of Law & Order started, I rolled my eyes when it appeared that the main villain was going to be a barely disguised version of Elon Musk.  But then it turned out that guy was just a red herring and the accused instead turned out to be a former State Department employee who claimed that he couldn’t control his actions because of Havana Syndrome.  To my great surprise, this turned out to be the the best episode of the season so far, largely because the prosecution finally lost a case and Price was left to wonder if it was largely due to his own self-righteous approach to the law.  Sam Waterston finally got a few good scenes too.  The Law & Order revival has, for the most part, been uneven but I do think that it’s been getting better.

The Love Boat (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

A famous actress took a cruise and fell for Captain Stubing.  Unfortunately, not even the promise of being wealthy and secure could convince the captain to give up the sea.

M*A*S*H* (Weekday Evenings, MeTV)

On Sunday, I watched two episodes of this old sitcom.  The first one featured an obnoxious surgeon from Arkansas, who got in trouble for trying to steal Col. Potter’s horse.  The second was a bit more dramatic, as a friend of Hawkeye’s died on the operating table and a teenage Ron Howard appeared as a soldier who lied about his age in order to enlist.  In the past, I’ve found M*A*S*H to be a bit too preachy for my tastes but this was actually a pretty effective and well-acted episode.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of Survivor here!

We Own The City (Monday Night, HBO)

The second episode of David Simon’s latest miniseries about Baltimore was as compelling and as packed with detail as the first.  While setting in his jail cell, Jon Bernthal’s Wayne Jenkins remembered the process by which he went from being a relatively honest cop to being the poster child for police corruption.  Nicole Steele continued her investigation of Daniel Hersl.  In the role of Hersl, Josh Charles only appeared during the final few minutes of the episode but he still made a huge impression as the epitome of everything that people tend to dislike about the cops.  I look forward to seeing where this series is heading.

Here’s The Trailer for House of The Dragon


HBOMax’s House of  the Dragon is scheduled to premiere on August 21st.  I’ll be curious to see what kind of reception is given to this Game of Thrones prequel.  The finale of GoT left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans and it’s still one of those topics that you don’t dare mention on twitter unless you want to risk finding yourself in the middle of a very passionate debate.  Nearly everyone seems to agree that, after all the build-up, ending with Bram the Broken ruling the kingdom was a bit of a letdown.  I’ll be curious to see if those disappointed by how GoT wrapped up will still be willing to give House of the Dragon a chance.  Or have we all moved on?

Personally, I think the trailer looks intriguing.  And speaking of trailers, here it is:

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 4/24/22 — 4/30/22


I saw some pretty good things this week.  Barry is back.  We Own This City looks like it’s going to be a worthy follow-up to The Wire.  I finally binged the first season of Abbott Elementary.  Here’s some thoughts on what I watched:

61st Street (Sunday Night, AMC)

As of this point, I really don’t see 61st Street becoming anything more than a second-rate version of The Wire so I think I’m done with it.  As I said last week, I think the show would be fine if it was just about Courtney B. Vance and his family but the show is trying to tackle too much in its first season.  The best shows develop naturally whereas 61st Street has been overstuffed since the beginning.

Abbott Elementary (Hulu)

Throughout this week, I binged the first season of ABC’s Abbot Elementary on Hulu.  A comedic mockumentary about the teachers at a Philadelphia public school, Abbott Elementary owes a bit of a debt to The Office but, at the same time, it also quickly established an identity of its own.  It was a good, heartfelt comedy, one that made a point about the importance of supporting teachers without ever committing the Parks and Rec sin of getting preachy or self-satisfied.  Of the ensemble cast, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Janelle James were the stand-outs but really, everyone did a good job of bringing their characters to wonderful life.  I look forward to season 2!

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

How to get the British airmen out of France?  How about sending them up in a Helium balloon?  But how to keep the Germans from noticing the balloon?  How about moving up the wedding of Fanny and Ernest LeClerc?  Sure, why not?  It didn’t necessarily make any sense but I’m used to that by now.  The episode ended with the wedding and the release of what Officer Crabtree called a “carrier podgeon.”  I suppose that next Sunday, I’ll learn why this latest attempt to rescue the airmen failed.

Atlanta (Thursday, FX)

This week’s episode of Atlanta was another stand-alone episode dealing with white people struggling to understand black culture.  This time, the story dealt with a wealthy New York couple who, while attending the funeral of their Trinidadian nanny, discover that not only was she more of a parental figure to their son than they were but that she was also so busy raising the children of wealthy white people that she missed out on raising her own children.  Chet Hanks had an odd but somehow appropriate cameo as one of the people who the nanny had raised.

It was an okay episode and, unlike the other stand-alone episodes, it was clearly not a dream.  (For the same of continuity, posters advertising Paper Boi’s tour are visible during one scene.)  The humor and the satire was still sharp but also notably gentler this week than it’s been all season. That said, this episode felt like a clear follow-up to White Fashion, with its portrayal of neglectful white parents who use people of color to raise their children but who, at the same time, can’t even be bothered to learn anything about their nanny’s life or culture.

Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)

Barry’s back!  After all the excitement of last season’s finale, the new season Barry opened with everyone stuck in the same rut.  Barry is auditioning for roles and still killing people for money.  Sally is working on her television series.  NoHo Hank is struggling to be a gangster.  Gene is in mourning and looking for revenge.  (I loved the fact that his gun was a gift from Rip Torn.)  Fuches is in Chechnya, eating cereal.  The first episode served its purpose.  It reintroduced us to the characters (due to the Pandemic, there was a long delay between the 2nd and 3rd seasons) and reminded us of why we watch them in the first place.  Bill Hader both directed and starred and showed once again that he is a talent to be reckoned with.

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

Better Call Saul is an enthralling show, even if I’m often left a little bit confused as to what exactly is going on.  Bob Odenkirk is brilliant, though this week’s episode was dominated by Michael Mando in the role of the intimidating but ultimately tragic Nacho.  Perhaps because we know what’s going to happen to the majority of the characters once Walter White shows up, the shadow of death hangs even heavier over Better Call Saul than it did over Breaking Bad.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

Upset that his children were tying up the phone, Mike Brady came up with the brilliant idea of installing a pay phone in the house.  How did that even work?  Who installed the phone?  Who collected the money?  Seriously, this was one of Mike’s worst ideas and he was never held responsible for it.

This was followed by an episode in which Bobby got it into his head that Carol was going to kill him so he tried to run away.  Would anyone have missed Bobby in that crowded house?  This was followed by an episode in which Marcia got braces and the world world stopped while everyone tried to make her feel better.  (Good for them!  I never needed braces, by the way.)  The fourth episode of MeTV’s bloc of Brady programming featured Peter saving a little girl from being crushed by a collapsing wall.  Peter was a hero but he let it go to his head.  Mike had to remind Peter that he was still only the middle child and, as such, had no right to feel good about anything.

Full House (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

I missed last week’s bloc of Full House but I get the feeling that once you’ve seen one episode of this show, you’ve seen them all.  The first episode of Sunday’s bloc was yet another one where Jesse was worried that he was no longer as cool as he had once been.  After being ridiculed by his old friend Scott Baio, Jesse hopped on his motorcycle and drove up to the roof of a building.  Apparently, he planned to jump from one roof to another.  Rebecca, however, talked him down.  The funniest thing about this episode was the discovery that Jesse’s nickname was once “Dr. Dare.”  Like, seriously, I get the feeling that Jesse’s fiends were probably making fun of him when they gave him that nickname.

This was followed by an episode in which Michelle’s third birthday party was ruined by the combined stupidity of Jesse and Stephanie.  Michelle may have said she was happy celebrating her birthday in that dirty gas station but she was lying big time.  The next episode featured Stephanie panicking due to an earthquake and Danny eventually taking her to a therapist so that she could discuss her feelings.  Luckily, it only took five minutes to cure Stephanie of her anxiety.  The day’s final episode found Joey and Jesse once again struggling to write a jingle together.  Meanwhile, the family’s new dog, destroyed Stephanie’s childhood toy but no one cared because Stephanie’s the middle child.

The Girl From Plainville (Hulu)

Much last week, this week’s episode of The Girl From Plainville got bogged down with a lot of boring courtroom dramatics.  Still, the final scene, with Michelle Carter fantasizing about her sister singing Teenage Dirtbag, was nicely done.  The Girl From Plainville seems like it would be a fine miniseries if it was only four episodes long but, at eight episodes, it just feels a bit too overextended.

Happy Days (Weekday Evening, MeTV)

I watched Happy Days on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, despite the fact that the continuing popularity of this show has always escaped me.  The reason I watched is because it was the three-part episode in which the Cunninghams and Fonzie went to California and Fonzie ended up proving his courage by putting on water skis and jumping over a shark.  It was an important moment in pop cultural history so I felt it was important that I watch.  Fortunately, Fonzie made it over the shark and Richie realized that he would rather be a journalist than an actor.

King of the Hill (Weekday Afternoons, FXX)

On Tuesday, I watched the episode where Jimmy Carter tried to heal Hank and Cotton’s relationship.  It’s a classic episode, if just for Hank and Cotton’s disdainful comments as Jimmy and his secret service detail fled the scene.  “Why, that’s was just a one-term peanut farmer.”  “The man wore a sweater.”  Take that, Carter!

On Wednesday, I watched four episodes.  Hank carried the Olympic torch and learned that it was okay to be happy.  Peggy overthrew the tyrannical king of a Renaissance Faire.  (Alan Rickman voiced the king, which was pretty neat.)  Connie and the Dale Gribble Bluegrass Experience went to Branson, where Bobby sold a joke to comedian Yakov Smirnoff.  Peggy was conned out of her retirement savings but she got the money back.  Yay!

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

The headmaster of an exclusive private school has been shot!  Was it because he was too woke?  Nope, it turns out that he was shot by a troubled student.  The D.A.’s office decided to charge both the student and the student’s father. Personally, I found their actions to be legally dubious but the jury disagreed.  D.A. Jack McCoy was okay with manipulating legal statutes but I don’t think Adam Schiff nor Arthur Branch would have been happy with what his office ended up doing.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

Granville’s broom fell apart and Nurse Gladys Emmanuel needed a new washing machine.  In the end, no one got what they needed.  That’s what happens when you’re open all hours.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of Survivor here!

T.J. Hooker (Saturday, Decades TV)

William Shatner is a tough cop who speaks in a very dramatic fashion.  I was doing some work in my office on Saturday so I had this old 80s cop show playing in the background.  (Decades TV was apparently celebrating the 80s with a TJ Hooker marathon.)  The episodes kind of blended together but watching Shatner back when he was still taking himself seriously is always fun.

We Own This City (Monday Night, HBO)

The latest Baltimore-set miniseries from David Simon and The Wire crew, We Own This City premiered this week and the first episode proved to be, in typical Simon fashion, both frustrating and fascinating.  The show’s political asides were heavy-handed but it’s depiction of a troubled American city was heart-breaking.  Simon has never flinched from showing how political corruption, racism, poverty, and crime all come together to create a destructive cycle that’s impossible to escape.  Because happy endings are nearly nonexistent, Simon’s show can be difficult to watch but each one is something that should be watched.  As for We Own The City, this miniseries deals with police corruption in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent uprising.  Out of the large ensemble cast, Jon Bernthal and Josh Charles are early stand-outs.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 4/17/22 — 4/23/22


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)

I wrote about the latest episode of Survivor here!

Lisa Marie’s Week in Television: 4/10/22 — 4/16/22


Because of the holidays, I haven’t seen the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead yet.  It’s on the DVR, along with American Idol and all the British comedies that I usually watch.  I’ll review it in the upcoming few days, even though I’m sure everyone has moved on by now.  One fun thing about having your own site is that you can set your own schedule.

Here’s a few thoughts on what I did watch:

61st Street (Sunday Night, AMC)

Arriving with very little fanfare, 61st Street is AMC’s latest original series.  It takes place in Chicago and it deals with a burned-out defense attorney (Courtney B. Vance) and a high school track star (Tosin Cole) who is just trying to survive long enough to make it to college.  Unfortunately, Cole is in the wrong place at the wrong time and, as the premiere episode came to a close, he was being pursued by the Chicago cops.

Judging from the pilot, the show is attempting to do for Chicago what The Wire did for Baltimore.  The problem, however, is that 61st Street never feels as authentic, unpredictable, or downright dangerous as The Wire.  In the pilot, at least, the characters came across as being caricatures and, for a show that is set in a very real neighborhood, there was little sense of place to be found.  The show could have been taking place in any generic city.

Interestingly enough, the show as created by Peter Moffat, an British writer who is best-known for writing a series of films and television shows about recent British history.  He also wrote the script for the worst film that Clint Eastwood ever directed, Hereafter.  You have to wonder just what exactly led Moffat to try to capture the spirit of Chicago.  For that matter, why do we even need yet another show about Chicago?  There are other cities in America.

2022 Masters Golf Tournament (Sunday, CBS)

I watched a bit of it with Jeff on Sunday afternoon.  The golf course was really pretty.  I’m going to learn how to play golf.  I already kind of know but I want to learn how to play golf well!  Why should my boyfriend have all the fun?

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

During this Sunday’s block of The Brady Bunch, Bobby became a pest after saving Peter’s life, Jan freaked out because she wasn’t good at anything, Bobby and Peter imagined what it would be like to live on another planet, and some weird new family showed up as a part of backdoor pilot!  While it’s best not to spend too much time thinking about The Brady Bunch, I have always been amused by backdoor pilots.  It’s always like, “Oh, hey, people we’ve never seen or head about before!  Wait …. why is the show following them to their home?”

Full House (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

The Tanners are going to Hawaii!

Sunday’s 4-episode bloc of Full House opened with an episode in which Danny, the girls, the uncles, and aunt Becky all went to Hawaii to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Joey and Jesse moving into the house.  The cool thing about this episode is that it had plenty of Hawaiian scenery and Becky got mad at Jesse for talking about Elvis all the time.  You tell him, Becky!

This was followed by three episodes in which everyone learned an important lesson.  DJ and Stephanie learned about the importance of going to school.  Becky and Jesse learned how to communicate as a couple.  Stephanie learned not to make fun of her nerdy friend and Danny really should have learned to stop inviting Joey to appear on Good Morning San Francisco.

The Girl From Plainville (Hulu)

I reviewed the latest episode of The Girl From Plainville here. 

As I mentioned in that post, I’m pretty much over the show and I will probably, from now on, only offer capsule reviews of the 3 remaining episodes in my Week in TV posts.

Hard Cell (Netflix)

This British sitcom takes place in a women’s prison in which the majority of the characters are played by Catherine Tate.  I watched the first two episodes on Wednesday and, unfortunately, neither one of them really worked for me.  There really wasn’t much gained by having Tate play multiple characters and the mockumentary approach no longer feels that fresh.  Tate is undeniably talented but the show just fell flat.

It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (Apple TV+)

Erin and I watched this on Saturday afternoon.  Erin wrote about this special a few years ago.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

This week’s “ripped from the headline” case was based on the Ed Buck murder trial and featured a wealthy, old white man who liked to pick up young black men and then shoot them up with drugs.  Occasionally, the younger men died.  He was brought to justice, just as Ed Buck finally was.  This was an okay episode and it gave Camryn Manheim a chance to shine.

I do have to say that I still always find it amusing how the Law & Order franchise has imagined a world in which a bunch of blue collar, unsentimental New York cops all talk like panelists on MSNBC.  I kind of doubt that many cops voted for Bernie Sanders but you wouldn’t know that from watching this show.

The Love Boat (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

On this week’s cruise: Telma Hopkins, Theresa Merritt, Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Noble, Raymond St. Jacques, Holland Taylor, Adam West, and Alan Young!  The highlight was Adam West, parodying himself in the role of an overly macho buffoon.

Midnight Mass (Netflix)

This horror-themed miniseries from Mike Flanagan was released in October of last year but, at the time, I really didn’t feel like watching a show about a demonic priest.  However, with the Emmy nominations coming up, I figured that I should go ahead and give the show a try.  At the very least, I wanted to see if it lived up to all the acclaim.

It’s a show about life on an isolated island and what happens to the community when a mysterious priest shows up.  I watched the first episode on Sunday night and it was pretty effective, even if some of the dialogue felt a bit overwritten.  Flanagan knows how to create a creepy and intriguing atmosphere and I liked Hamish Linklater’s menacing-but-friendly portrayal of Father Paul Hill.  I did not like the episode’s final scene, which involved a bunch of dead cats washing up on the beach.  Normally, that’s the sort of thing that would make me stop watching but, because of my faith in the storytelling abilities of Mike Flanagan, I decided to make an exception in the case of Midnight Mass.

That said, Holy Week (especially one that I was spending with my sisters) didn’t really feel like the right time to watch a miniseries about an evil priest so I decided to put off watching the rest of the show until next week.

The Outlaws (Amazon Prime)

This British comedy/drama hybrid deals with seven strangers who are forced to due community service as punishment for breaking the law.  At first, they start off as strangers but then they bond and steal a lot of money.  You can probably guess the story.  Christopher Walken plays Frank, an old con artist who has recently been released for prison.  He’s a delight, as always.

I watched the first episode of this show on Monday night and I have to say that it kind of annoyed me.  I appreciated the performances of Walken, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Darren Boyd but otherwise, the show itself often seemed to be trying a bit too hard and the mix of comedy and drama occasionally played a bit awkwardly.  Largely due to the fact that it was only a 6-epiosde series and the presence of Christopher Walken in the cast, I decided that I would give the show a second chance but that first episode didn’t do much for me.

I watched the second episode late on Tuesday night.  It was a definite improvement on the second episode and featured plenty of good Walken moments but the hour length still made the episode feel as if it was punishingly overextended and the show’s balance between comedy and drama continued to be a rather awkward one.

I’ll watch the four remaining episodes of the show next week.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor here!

Yellowjackets (Showtime)

I finished up Yellowackets on Monday afternoon.  I cried with Laura Lee blew up.  I was also really upset when Jackie froze to death.  And don’t even get me started on the dog!  This was actually kind of a traumatic series.  Still, it was a fascinating show to watch and I look forward to seeing how things plays out during the second season.

TV Review: The Girl From Plainville 1.5 “Mirrorball” (dir by Pippa Bianco)


Well, I tried.

I really did.  Coming off of the high that I got off reviewing each episode of The Dropout, I thought it would be pretty easy to review all 8 episodes of The Girl From Plainville but, having watched the fifth episode last night, I think I’m done.

Don’t get me wrong.  I will continue to watch the series.  (There’s only three weeks left.)  And I’ll certainly include any thoughts that I have about the show in my “Week in Television” post.  But I think I’m done with trying to come up with 500-1000 words to use to review each episode because, quite frankly, there’s just not much to say about The Girl From Plainville.  The story of how Michelle Carter encouraged Conrad Roy to commit suicide is well-known.  The fact that Michelle Carter was put on trial and convicted is also well-known.  This show is trying to build-up suspense about a story that most viewers will already know.

It perhaps wouldn’t matter if The Girl From Plainville had something new or unexpectedly insightful to say about the case.  But the fact of the matter is that Michelle Carter is not that interesting of a human being.  Everything that I’ve read and seen about the case seems to suggest that she really didn’t have much going on inside of her brain.  Because she lacked an actual personality, Michelle learned how to behave and how to interact through social media and television.  Conrad’s death allowed her to live her life as if it was an episode of Glee, or at least that’s what Michelle was hoping.  And now, years after Conrad’s suicide, Michelle is out of prison and being played in a miniseries by Elle Fanning.  It doesn’t seem to be quite fair, does it?

As for last night’s episode, it felt pretty much like a filler episode.  The prosecution team continued to build a case against Michelle while Michelle had to deal with going from briefly being the most popular girl in school to being an absolute pariah.  We also got a few clumsily handled flashbacks to Michelle texting Conrad.  Last weekend, I watched Dopesick, which also aired on Hulu and also used a jumbled timeline.  The timeline in Dopesick did occasionally get confusing but, at the same time, it worked because it took place over several years and the actors could be made to look older or younger, depending on the timeline.  If Michael Keaton had a hint of hair, you know the show was taking place in the 90s.  If he was bald, you know it was 2004.  The Girl From Plainville, on the other hand, is only dealing with a two-year period and, as such, it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening when.  The characters played by Elle Fanning and Chloe Sevigny pretty much look and act the same in 2012 as they do in 2014.  It’s a very clumsily constructed story structure, one that does the miniseries little good.

That said, Elle Fanning continues to give a convincingly unhinged performance as Michelle and Colton Ryan is appropriately vulnerable as Conrad.  (Sorry,  I’m not going to call him Coco.)  I think if the miniseries had done away with all of the flashback nonsense and just told their story in chronological order, Fanning and Ryan’s strong performances would have been better served.  For now, I’m done with doing full reviews of this show but, if next week’s episode is a surprisingly good one, that could change.

Reacher S1 Ep4 “In a Tree”, (Dir. Christine Moore) Review by Case Wright


I hope that you missed me! I have been knee-deep in differential equations and a back injury, but like Reacher, I’m continuing on- It got picked up! Also, I have been reading the first book and I can confirm that this show is very true to the book. I think that’s why I like it so much- it’s throwback to the mini-series of the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s- Shogun, North and South, Jesse Stone, and The Stand. These were book adaptions that strove to be true to the source material. Today, we are used to craptacular adaptations like “It” an ok film, but had nothing to do with the source material and openly rejected it.

Reacher episodes, like the mini-series of yore, continue from the moment the last episode ends, but unlike the mini-series of yesteryear they use different directors for each episode. Luckily, they pick old hands at familiar with the action/mystery genre. This episode is directed by Christine Moore – if it’s an action packed mystery show- she has directed it. Period. She can direct the Hell out of a fight scene.

Reacher is rummaging through the assassin vehicle and putting everyone in the truck who he killed. To fit them all in, he breaks their dead legs. YEECH! Keep in mind, this is not just a mystery for Reacher- it’s a revenge story. They killed his brother- his only family and he would kill the whole town if they were all in on it.

They find Joe’s car and there’s a great bit of dark comedy when Reacher jokes to Finley how he killed two more people and they’re in the car a few feet from them. There’s a total understanding that the rules have been broken. Society itself died in Margrave. They are the only law and vengeance is the only punishment. That’s why the backdrop of Iraq is always present.

After Iraq fell, events happened that should not have. I was not there, but things happened just the same. Society is a mile long and an inch deep. We are always one sustained power blackout from tribal conflict and feudalism. Reacher reveals to Roscoe that caught three pedophiles abusing local boys. He gave them a choice to turn themselves in or answer to him. They chose Reacher and he executed them. She rapidly gets on board with dumping bodies at the airport parking garage. Wow. COLD BLOODED!

Roscoe and Reacher check into an airport Hotel and get a call from Joe’s former partner, but she doesn’t even give them a hint as to what the investigation is about. She will meet them at the airport, but I got to write that it was WEIRD that she didn’t give a hint about what his brother was investigating. Shortly after the call, the building sexual tension between Roscoe and Reacher releases in a fairly long scene.

Meanwhile, the mayor pulls Finley off of investigating the case and threatens his career. Reacher and Roscoe find the motel where Joe was staying and get his his hidden notes. Reacher and Roscoe get pursued by killers….again. When they are all together to meet Joe’s former partner at the airport, they see her, and then she vanishes. Reacher searches for her and finds her bleeding out. Back to square one.