I didn’t watch much television this week. I was too busy watching movies! However, here’s some thoughts on what I did see:
Allo Alllo (PBS, Sunday Night)
Everyone’s trapped in a POW camp and having to pretend to be British airmen, incuding Yvette! However will they escape? At the end of Sunday’s episode, they were all still in the camp but I’m sure they’ll find a way out. This is one of the strangest shows that I’ve ever watched but, at the same time, I am eager to see how it all (eventually) works out.
American Idol (ABC, Sunday Night)
Yes, I watched all three hours of the finale on Sunday night. I’m not sure why because to say that I felt absolutely no emotional connection to this season of American Idol would be an understatement. Words cannot begin to express how little I cared about anything that happened over those three hours. Why was I watching? Was it nostalgia for a time when American Idol was a big deal? Was it just laziness on my part? Maybe I just wanted to see if I was correct in my prediction that Chayce Beckham would win because of the whole country music thing. I imagine all of those reasons are correct. I’m not going to think too much about it, to be honest. I was tired on Sunday night.
Anyway, Chayce Beckham did win so congratulations to him and congratulations to me for my above average predictive abilities. Yay!
Baywatch (Weekday evenings, H&I)
On Sunday, Baywatch started off with an episode in which a woman purchased a date with Mitch. Mitch took her sailing and, long story short, they ended up trapped on a deserted island. Fortunately, they were rescued by the end of the episode and they even found time to all in love. Yay! (By the way, Baywatch, Lina Wertmuller would like a word.) This was followed by an episode in which, due to a heat wave, the beaches were extra crowded and the lifeguards were extra busy. Complicating things was the President of the United States, who wanted to go jogging on the beach. Since this show was from the 90s, that means that the president was Bill Clinton. Yikes! Get that beach cleared!
Monday started off with an episode in which CJ’s mom came to visit the Baywatch crew and it turned out that she was being pursued by a murderous gambler. It was actually one of the silliest episodes of this show that I’ve ever seen. This was followed by a much better episode that featured all of the lifeguards competing for a chance to take part in an Ironman competition. Once again, the main goal was to defeat a group of arrogant Australians. What did Baywatch have against Australia? The episode ended with all of the lifeguards — American and Australian — diving underwater and lifting up a submerged car, which they then pushed out of the ocean and back onto the beach! It was just ludicrous enough to be brilliant.
Tuesday started off with yet another earthquake episode, along with a storyline about one of the new lifeguards posing for Playboy, which I assume was only included to help promote an issue of Playboy featuring that particular actress. It was dumb. This was followed by an episode in which lifeguards trained to become firefighters and firefighters trained to become lifeguard and …. well, sad to say, it was pretty dumb too. However, Mitch did spend sometime dealing with a man who thought he was a vampire. Way to give Baywatch Nights a shout out!
On Wednesday, the first episode featured Mitch nearly dying after swimming through polluted water. Fortunately, he survived and, in the second episode, he was named Bachelor of the Month and got to pose with a bunch of models. Meanwhile, Stephanie got married and Caroline and Logan realized that they were never, ever getting back together.
On Thursday, the recently married Stephanie died while trying to sail a boat through a sudden ocean storm. It was shamelessly melodramatic and yet, I’ll be damned if it wasn’t emotionally effective as well. Whatever else you may say about David Hasselhoff on this show, he could deliver even the cheesiest of lines with a surprising sincerity. Of course, the episode featuring Stephanie’s death and funeral was followed by an episode where Mitch was invited to appear on a television talk show and it also featured Jay Leno as a guest star. That’s Baywatch in a nutshell, tragedy followed by Jay Leno.
On Friday, the first episode featured a ghost helping Caroline save a drowning child. The second episode featured a bunch of rival gang members setting aside their differences to learn CPR. Both episodes were as clumsily handled as they sound.
Finally, on Saturday, there was an episode that mixed a teen suicide storyline with an unrelated plot concerning CJ and Cody discovering a mermaid. Yes, a real mermaid. “Finally!” Cody exclaimed, “we can prove that mermaids are real!” “No,” CJ said, “that wouldn’t be fair to the mermaids!” In the end, everything worked out and, in its weird way, it was classic Baywatch.
Gangs of London (Sunday, AMC)
Nine episodes of this, I’ve watched so far, and I still don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on. But I do appreciate it as an exercise in pure style and Colm Meaney is convincingly intimidating whenever he shows up in flashbacks.
Hill Street Blues (Weekday Mornings, H&I)
Oh, Hill Street. It’s amazing how quickly this show went downhill during its final days.
On Tuesday morning, the two episodes that aired seemed to share a common thread — i.e., no one at the Hill Street precinct was particularly good at their job. The first episode featured a mob boss getting held hostage while the Hill Street cops stood around and smirked. And believe me, I get it. He’s a bad guy. He’s a mob boss. But still, he was under police protection when he got grabbed so maybe instead of smirking about it, why not give some thought to how you totally screwed up a simple assignment? The second episode featured Norman Buntz getting his finger chopped off by a loan shark. I enjoyed that, mostly because Buntz is such an annoying character. “My shy’s got a soda connection,” he told Capt. Furillo at one point during the second episode. I nearly threw a show at the TV.
At the start of Wednesday’s episodes, Buntz had gotten his finger reattached. He arrested the loan shark who was responsible for doing the chopping but, Buntz being Buntz, he still ended up shooting the guy. While this was going on, Grace Gardner — an incredibly annoying character from an earlier season — was debating whether or not to become a nun and Patrolman Patrick Flaherty, a new character, was chasing after her with an annoying grin on his face. To be honest, the first episode of the morning was a bit of a mess. Fortunately, the second episode was much better. Capt. Furillo struggled to come to terms with his father’s suicide while Detective Belker had nightmares about the apocalypse. It was all surprisingly well-handled.
Thursday morning brought two frustratingly uneven episodes. The first found the precinct’s cops on the verge of a race war after a white cop shot his black partner. It turned out that it was all linked to a bigger corruption scandal. Sam McMurray played the white shooter. It was an interesting story but, as usual, things got bogged with an unrelated Lt. Buntz plotline and, in the end, it was hard not to feel that the show had handled the topics of systemic racism and police corruption far more effectively in the past. The second episode featured Joyce getting held hostage by a criminal and, as I’ve said before, I always find hostage episodes to be a bit of drag. As well, there was an unrelated plotline about Patrick Flaherty trying to recover a stolen radio, which would have been interesting if not for the fact that Flaherty’s a remarkably uninteresting character.
On Friday morning, the first episode featured several of the policemen going on a hunting trip and …. well, that was about it. The second episode featured a few of the cops having to work as garbagemen while Sgt. Howard Hunter had to deal with his former second-in-command, Jack Ballentine, who had gone crazy and was shooting at people from an upstairs window. As usual, both episodes had their moments but got bogged down with unrelated Norman Buntz action.
Saturday morning’s episodes hit a nadir for me, as far as this show is concerned. The first episode featured a wacky misunderstanding plot, as Buntz got it into his head that Joyce was cheating on Captain Furillo. The second episode found Buntz in charge of the precinct for the day and encouraging all of his officers to basically violate the civil rights of anyone who might be carrying even the most miniscule amount of weed. By the end of these two episodes, I found myself wondering if the writers during the final two seasons were getting paid based on the number of lines they gave to Norman Buntz because it’s hard to deny that the show went from being an ensemble show to being all about him.
Intervention (Monday Night, A&E)
I watched two episodes on Monday night. The first episode was about an alcoholic. The second one was about a woman addicted to fentanyl and cocaine. As I’ve stated in the past, I never have as much sympathy for the alcoholics as I do for the drug addicts. The first episode was about a former hockey player named Dan whose catch phrase was “Oh golly golly.” Good to have a catch phrase when you’re putting your family through Hell, I guess. The second episode was about Elizabeth, who had all sorts of family tragedies to blame for her addictions. Hopefully, they’re both doing better now.
King of the Hill (Hulu)
On Thursday night, I watched two episodes of the greatest show ever made at Texas. In the first episode, the Hills celebrated the millennium. In the second episode, Peggy wrote Bobby’s flag essay for him. These were two classic episodes from a classic show.
Moone Boy (Sunday Night, PBS)
Desperate to find a way to get to school quicker without having to cut into any of his precious sleeping time, Martin Moone tears down the shoddily constructed wall in his family’s backyard. He’s briefly a school hero, until Liam and Debra notice all of the students walking through their backyard. It was a funny episode. I especially enjoyed the scene where Martin’s imaginary friend, Sean Caution Murphy, explained that Martin created him because Martin himself is cautious and doesn’t like to take risks.
“And what did you name me?”
“Sean Murphy, the most common name in Ireland!”
Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)
Granville attempted to change his image by dressing up like some sort of weird mix of punk rocker and 70s disco king. He also ended up nearly hanging himself when his medallion got tangled up with the store’s singing. “Don’t just be hanging about!” Arkwright snapped at him. Granville survived, meaning that he could continue to spend many more miserable days working for his uncle and dreaming of freedom.
Seriously, Granville’s going to snap some day and it won’t be pretty.
Upstart Crow (Sunday Night, PBS)
Despite everyone telling him that Henry V is a much better subject, Shakespeare heads home to Stratford-Upon-Avon to work on a play about Henry VIII. Unfortunately, upon arriving, he discovers that his fearsome former school master is a Catholic! When Robert Greene and Kit Marlowe show up, Shakespeare has to figure out how to allow his teacher to conduct midnight mass without anyone noticing, Fortunately, Marlowe helps out by hiring a prostitute. It’s all a bit convoluted by funny. I’m Catholic and I laughed, largely because most of the jokes were at the expense of the Church of England.
Yes, Minister (Monday Morning, PBS)
Jim Hacker’s attempts to subsidize his local football club run afoul Sir Humphrey’s attempts to continue to subsidize the constituency’s little-visited art museum. I’ve often written about how Yes, Minister was a show that could appreciated by anyone because bureaucracy is a universal reality but all it takes is one episode centered around a football club to remind us that this is, at heart, a very British show. And, needless to say, a very funny one! Sir Humphrey, as usual, won the battle of the wills but Hacker still got some good publicity out of it. That’s the important thing.