Jeff and I have been up at Lake Texoma since Wednesday so I haven’t watched much television. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Sometimes, it’s important to take some time off.
Here’s a few thoughts on what I did watch this week:
Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)
After being absent for a few weeks, Allo Allo is back on PBS! Having won his freedom from the Communist Resistance, Rene finds himself still expected to marry the head of the Communists. Meanwhile, Herr Flick continues to search for the missing painting, Edith somehow does not realize that Rene is cheating on her with literally everyone on the show, and Crabtree continues to speak very bad French. It was a strange but entertaining episode.
Bachelor in Paradise (Monday and Tuesday Night, ABC)
This week, temporary host Lance Bass was replaced by Tituss Burgess. Unlike the sarcastic David Spade and the overly earnest Bass, Burgess was just kind of boring, though it was fun to watch the Bachelors and the Bachelorettes all pretend to be huge Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fans. Anyway, though I watched them, I didn’t really pay much attention to either one of this week’s episodes. It’s a show about attractive people hanging out on the beach. You really don’t have to pay that much attention to what’s actually going on. Just enjoy the scenery.
Big Brother (All The Time, CBS and Paramount Plus)
It’ll be over by the end of this month! Until then, I’m writing about it over at the Big Brother Blog.
Dragnet (Weekday Mornings, MeTV)
I finished binging Dragnet this week, watching the final three episodes of the show’s fourth season on Monday and Tuesday. In a minute, the results of that binge.
Monday got started with an episode in which Joe and Gannon were investigating a string of robberies. A woman called them and claimed that her ex-husband was responsible. However, it turned out that he wasn’t responsible and that his ex was just trying to get him in trouble because she was still angry over the end of their marriage! However, it then turned out that, even though he wasn’t responsible for the crimes his wife accused him of, he was still holding up other stores! It was actually kind of an interesting story though, Dragnet being Dragnet, all of the action did stop for a lengthy explanation of how fingerprinting works. This was followed by another episode in which Joe and Gannon tracked down a thief, this time a safecracker. The safecracker was well-played by G.D. Spradlin, who later played Sen. Pat Geary in The Godfather Part II and Col. Corman in Apocalypse Now. This episode was also memorable for featuring a crime victim named Mr. Letterman. Needless to say, whenever his name was mentioned, I immediately pictured David Letterman looking annoyed.
On Tuesday, I set the DVR to record the final episode of the 60s revival of Dragnet. This episode, called “The Victims,” followed Joe and Gannon over the course of one night, as they investigated a series of crimes. They investigated a few robberies and yet another murder at a boarding house. Throughout it all, the emphasis was placed less on the detectives and more on the traumatized victims of the crimes that they were investigating. Throughout the show’s run, even during the campy third season, Dragnet centered around the idea that that the job of the police was to protect and serve the public and this episode emphasized that point. With the exception of a scene where Joe (rightly) reprimanded a patrolman who didn’t show enough compassion for a robbery victim, there was no moralizing. Instead, Joe and Gannon did their jobs as best they could and tried to help out the innocent victims of terrible crimes. It was the perfect final episode for this series.
Now that my binge of Dragnet is over, I can say that it wasn’t a bad show at all. Yes, it’s dated, as any show that ran from 1967 to 1970 would be. And yes, the drug-and-hippie shows were frequently campy. But there really weren’t as many episodes about drugs and hippies as I imagined. Instead, for the most part, this was just a show about two men trying to do the right thing and protect their community. Some of the episodes were undeniably silly and it’s easy to laugh at any episode in which Friday and Gannon went undercover but quite a few of the episodes hold up well as police procedurals. If nothing else, the show is an interesting time capsule of when it was made. As history nerd, I enjoyed it.
Hell’s Kitchen (Monday Night, FOX)
On Monday night, there were two episodes of Hell’s Kitchen, meaning that two chefs were eliminated ahead of next week’s finale. Steve was the first to go, with Chef Ramsay saying that Steve had talent and a good attitude but that he wasn’t vocal enough in the kitchen. Second to go was Brynn, who Rasmsay said had the makings of a great chef but who still needed to learn how to control her emotions. I don’t think anyone who has watched this season was surprised to see those two chefs eliminated but I did appreciate that Ramsay emphasized their positive traits and encouraged them, even as he sent them out the door. I like the kinder, gentler Ramsay.
Three chefs remain and the finale is next week! Personally, I’m rooting for Trenton.
Impeachment: American Crime Story (Monday Night, FX)
This is the third installment of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story series and it deals with the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
The first installment of American Crime Story dealt with the O.J. Simpson trial and it worked largely because the involvement of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski worked as a buffer against producer Ryan Murphy’s worst instincts. The second installment, about Andrew Cunanan and Gianni Versace, started out strong but ended up getting so bogged down in its reverse chronology gimmick that it lost whatever narrative momentum it had going. It’s too early to pass judgment on the third installment but I’ve had my doubts about it from the beginning. In what world, I wondered, could an Arkansas hillbilly like Bill Clinton, a living caricature of everything that is wrong with American politics, somehow be played by the handsome and charming Clive Owen? Even with Monica Lewinsky reportedly signing on as a co-producer, it was hard to imagine Ryan Murphy ever producing a show that would truly be critical of a Democrat, even one as terrible as Bill Clinton.
The first episode was uneven. It dragged a bit, lacking a dramatic set piece like O.J. Simpson getting arrested or Versace getting shot, in broad daylight, outside of his mansion. Instead, this episode built up to Bill Clinton calling Monica Lewisnky for phone sex but the effect was ruined by the sight of Clive Owen wearing a prosthetic nose. The majority of the episode was taken up with Sarah Paulson, acting up a storm as yet another obnoxious character with no social skills and while Paulson did her usual good job, it all felt rather familiar. The episode worked best during the few scenes that focused on Paula Jones, well-played by Annaleigh Ashford. Jones was the first woman to accuse Clinton of sexual harassment and, in the days before Me Too, she was ridiculed and caricatured as being “trailer trash” by the rabidly pro-Clinton national media. In the scenes in which Jones faced a barrage of ridicule and outrageously sexist questions from the press, Impeachment showed why this decades-old political scandal matters.
Mom (Weekday Afternoons, Paramount Plus)
On Tuesday afternoon, as I was packing to go up to the lake for the week, I had Mom playing in the background. I think I went through about four episodes. I didn’t pay much attention but, from what I saw, each one seemed to be more depressing than the last. This show always reminds me of why I could never be an alcoholic because there’s no way I’d ever be able to bring myself to sit through those AA meeting with all of their rules.
Moone Boy (Sunday Night, PBS)
After being gone for a few weeks, Moone Boy is once again airing on PBS on Sunday Night. This week’s episode featured Padraic running away from home and Debra trying to launch a new career as a marriage counselor. Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned for either one of them. It was a funny episode, as they tend to be. I especially enjoyed it when Martin and Padraic attempted to take up shoplifting.
Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)
Open All Hours is back on PBS. This week, Arkwright went to a funeral and left Granville alone at the store. Though Granville seemed to enjoy having some time to himself, I’m going to guess that he probably spent most of the time wondering how he had ever ended up trapped in a go-nowhere existence, living in a run-down shop as an indentured servant to a greedy old man who cared not whether his employee lived or died. It was a pretty dark episode.
Talking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)
It was fairly dull Talking Dead this week. Sometimes, Talking Dead is the perfect way to recover from an intense viewing experience. Other times, it just reminds you that it’s essentially a one-hour infomercial for The Walking Dead. This week was a case of the latter.
The Ultimate Surfer (Monday and Tuesday Night, ABC)
Much as with Bachelor in Paradise, I have no idea what’s actually happening on this show. I just know that it features attractive people surfing and that’s really all that matters.
Upstart Crow (Sunday Night, PBS)
On Sunday, I rewatched the first episode of Upstart Crow, with Will working on Romeo and Juliet, Kate lobbying for a chance to play the lead role despite the law against allowing women on stage, and Will’s family wondering why his poems don’t make much sense. I had seen it before but it all held up very well.
The Walking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)
I (finally) reviewed this week’s episode earlier today. You can read my thoughts by clicking here.
Yes, Minister (Monday Morning, PBS)
Yay! Yes, Minister is back on PBS! They’re reshowing the show from the beginning so I rewatched the first two episodes on Monday morning. The first dealt with Jim Hacker learning about his new ministry and getting expertly manipulated by Sir Humphrey for the first time. This was followed by the episode in which Jim discovered that the world’s newest dictator was an old college classmate. Both episodes held up well to repeat viewing. In fact, having to deal with the daily reality of a Biden presidency has led me to have a greater appreciation for this show’s satirical portrayal of shallow politicians and devious civil servants.