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’s Week In Television: 7/18/21 — 7/24/21


The Olympics are here! I know what I’m going to be watching for the next two weeks.

Seriously, don’t ask me to explain it. I just get excited about the Olympics. Admittedly, I do usually prefer the winter games to the summer games but still, I’m just glad that the Olympics are finally being held. This is the year that I discovered that badminton is an Olympics sport and I have to admit that I’m kind of upset that I didn’t know that earlier. My sisters and I used to play badminton all the time. WE COULD HAVE GONE TO THE OLYMPICS!

Anyway, here’s my thoughts on what I watched this week:

Allo Allo (PBS, Sunday Night)

“I have the spy camera! It is disguised as a potato!”

Allo Allo opened with Rene escapes from the Colonel’s dungeon and then being sent on a mission to take photographs of a safe. As usual, it was overly complicated and funny. I think what I like about this show is that some of the humor is very complex and very clever and then an equal amount of the humor just comes from silly things like Crabtree and his greeting of “Good moaning,” regardless of the time of day. It’s a mix of sophistication and stupdity and it’s a good combination.

The Bachelorette (ABC, Monday Night)

And now we’re down to four! The highlight this week was Katie sending Andrew home, then changing her mind and asking him to stay, just for Andrew to turn her down. And that’s why Andrew will probably be the next Bachelor.

Big Brother 23 (CBS and Paramount Plus, 24/7)

You can read my thoughts on the show that everyone love to hate over at the Big Brother Blog.

Court Cam (A&E, Wednesday Night)

More courtroom drama! I complain about this show, some would say nonstop. And yet, it is addictive. Or, at the very least, it makes for good background noise. It’s one of those shows that you don’t really have to pay too much attention to. Each 30 minutes episode is full of so many little stories that it’s basically tailor-made for people with ADD like me. That said, I still stand by my claim that this show is a sign of the decline of civilization in general. We live in dangerous times. Or actually, I guess we just live in increasingly stupid times. Dangerous is such a dramatic word.

Dragnet (MeTV, weekday mornings)

Monday’s two-episode block of Dragnet 1968 started with an episode in which an ex-con called the police to let them know that someone had solicited him to commit a murder. The solicitation happened as a result of an ad that the ex-con put in a “hippy newspaper.” Joe Friday went undercover as the ex-con to catch the killer. Somehow, he was able to do this despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing about Joe Friday that suggests that he would even know what a hippy newspaper was, let alone put an ad in one. Episodes of Dragnet where Friday goes undercover are some of my absolute favorites because it’s not like Friday puts any effort into changing his behavior or his style of speaking. He just takes off his tie! He’s still obviously a cop, no matter what he claims. This was followed by an episode in which Friday and Gannon investigated the murder of a real estate agent. Interestingly enough, for a show from 1968, the victim and all of the suspects were black but no mention of race was made during the episode. Instead, the emphasis was on Friday and Gannon treating everyone exactly the same as they treated white suspects. I imagine that was a deliberate decision on the part of the producers, as Dragnet always went out of its way to present the LAPD in the best light possible.

Tuesday started with a somewhat silly episode about a gang of dogs that had been trained to snatch purses. For those who love campy Dragnet, the highlight of the episode was Friday and Gannon interviewing a victim who was also a hippie and who carried a gigantic flower with her and who explained that she “like(d) the fuzz because you’re all flowers too.” This was followed by an episode where Friday and Gannon once again went undercover, this time to bust a con artist who was responsible for a pyramid scheme. Uniquely, this episode ended with a lengthy and rather dull courtroom scene.

Wednesday started off with Friday and Gannon pursuing another set of con artists. This time the con involved impersonating police officers and selling people cards that were said to extend special privileges. Soon, Los Angeles was full of swindled people tearing up traffic tickets. Fortunately, the LAPD were able to get the fake cops off the streets and once again, Friday and Gannon took of their ties and went undercover to make the arrest. One of the con artists was played by G.D. Spradlin, who would later go on to memorably play Sen. Pat Geary in The Godfather, Part II. This was followed by an episode where Friday and Gannon investigated whether a patrolman had taken a bribe. As usual, the emphasis was put on the police force doing things by the book.

Thursday stated off with a Christmas episode, in which Friday and Gannon worked hard to recover a stolen statue of Jesus. This is actually a classic episode, one that is aired by the retro stations every Christmas season. The statue was recovered and no one went to jail. This was followed by an episode in which Friday and Gannon searched for a drug smuggler whose plane had crashed in the San Fernando Valley. Many people went to jail at the end of that episode.

Finally, Friday’s episodes started off with Joe and Gannon investigating the disappearance of two little girls. It turned out the parents of the girls were divorced, which led to Joe giving their mother a lot of attitude, as if it was solely her fault that her daughters were missing. And indeed, the show ended with the girls being recovered safely (it turned out that they had just run off to see their old dog) and a hearing in which the father was given “reasonable visitation rights.” It was an awkward episode that didn’t really sit well with me. Fortunately, it was followed by a much more enjoyable episode, in which Joe and Gannon investigated a cult leader who was giving his followers LSD. It was Joe Friday vs. the counter culture! Brother William, who thought everyone should embrace LSD, was well-played by a distinguished actor named Liam Sullivan. For 20 minutes or so, Brother William and Joe Friday debated whether or not drugs should be legal. “How many times have you taken LSD?” Friday demanded. “Several hundred times!” Brother William exclaimed, “and look at me! I’m as sane as you are!” In the end, no one learned anything but Brother William did eventually got to prison.

Fasten Your Seat Belts (A&E, Wednesday Night)

Hey, who doesn’t love chaos at airports and on airplanes, right?

Actually, hold on. Both of those things would totally make me and a lot of other people nervous. The last place most of us would ever want to be would be on an airplane where someone is losing it during mid-flight.

Regardless, Fasten Your Seat Belts is a the new, ultra-cheap reality show that features footage of people acting up on airplane and in airports. It’s basically like watching YouTube for 30 minutes, except for the fact that Robert Hays (star of the Airplane! films) is the host. I guess if you’re into YouTube videos of people acting like jackasses and inconveniencing their fellow travelers, this show might be for you.

Hell’s Kitchen (Fox, Monday Night)

For me, the funniest part of any Gordon Ramsay show, from Hell’s Kitchen to Kitchen Knightmares to that motel hell show, is when everyone sits around and talks about how attractive they find Chef Ramsay to be. It happens at least once every season. This week’s episode of Hell’s Kitchen featured Chef Ramsay talking to all the chefs one-and-one and then all of the chefs talking amongst themselves about how sexy they found Chef Ramsay to be. Eventually, Keona was sent home but Ramsay told her to keep her head up high and to keep growing as a chef and, the show seemed to be saying, who couldn’t appreciate those words coming from someone as amazingly handsome as Gordon Ramsay?

Hunter (ZLiving, Weekday Mornings)

Hunter is an extremely 80s cop show about a 7 foot detective named Hunter who shoots criminals in Los Angeles. His partner is Dee Dee McCall, who is just as quick to shoot as Hunter is. This is one of those shows that always appears to be playing on at least one retro station. I’d never actually watched a full episode until Monday morning, when I used two of them for background noise. The show looked fun in a silly 80s cop show sort of way — a lot of tough talk, car chases, and gunplay. At one point, Hunter casually tossed a man off a roof and then said, “Works for me.” That pretty much sums up the show.

Moone Boy (PBS, Sunday Night)

Martin wanted the latest game system but his father couldn’t afford it and was sure that “this whole computer thing is just a fad.” (Remember, Moone Boy takes place in the early 90s.) To raise the money himself, Martin got a job as a “golf ball hunter” at the local country club. Eventually, Martin got struck in the head by an errant golf ball and his imaginary friend, Sean, was briefly transformed into a 1920s style golf pro. Meanwhile, Martin’s father reached into the past and remembered his time as a table tennis champ to win his son’s respect. It was a sweet and funny episode, as most episodes of Moone Boy tend to be.

Open All Hours (PBS, Sunday Night)

Apparently, PBS has re-started Open All Hours, showing the very first episode this week. Arkwright looked about the same but Granville was obviously much younger this week than he was last week. That said, even at a young age, he still seemed like he had been utterly defeated by life. Poor Granville. No wonder he’s always trying to figure out a way to kill Arkwright.

Perry Mason (MeTV, Weekday Mornings)

I was back at the office on Monday and I needed a little background noise while getting my desk organized so I turned on MeTV and I watched an episode of the old, 1950s Perry Mason. This was the one with Raymond Burr as Perry. Unfortunately, because I was working and organizing while the show was on, I couldn’t pay much attention to it but I did see that Perry did manage to not only win an acquittal for his client but he also exposed the real murderer, who just happened to be sitting in the courtroom when Mason announced his name! He confessed and everything! Yay!

Rachael Ray (Channel 21, Weekday Mornings)

On Monday, I turned over to Rachael Ray for background noise while I was at work. She discussed how to make the perfect hot dog. It all looked very complicated but I will say that, if I was one to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I would probably totally trust Rachael. She seems to know what she’s talking about.

Silk Stalkings (ZLiving, Weekday Afternoons)

This is a cop show from the 90s, an exercise in pure style that followed two beautiful cops as they arrested beautiful (and often half-naked) people for committing ugly crimes in Florida. On Monday, I watched two episodes. The first one was about killer frat boys and somewhat inevitably featured William McNamara as one of the bad guys. The second featured an investigation of murder among the rich, famous, and unclothed. It was a fun, largely because nearly everyone in it was oversexed and naked for the majority of the episode.

Tokyo Olympics (NBCSN, Saturday Afternoon)

I watched badminton and a bit of beach volleyball. I noticed that professional badminton moves a bit more quickly than what I’m used to. Still, I think if I had made the Olympic team, I could have adjusted at brought home the bronze.

Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremonies (NBC, Friday Morning and Night)

I caught the final half of Friday’s opening ceremony during the morning broadcast and the first half when NBC reshowed it later that night. I can’t help it — I love the Olympics, though I prefer the winter games to the summer games. I was really upset when they were cancelled last year so I’m glad to see them back this year. As for who I’m rooting for — my father’s side of the family is Irish, my maternal grandmother was born in Spain, and one set of great-great grandparents came to this country from Italy. And my best friend was born in Israel. So, I’m cheering for Ireland, Israel, Italy, Spain, and maybe the United States. I don’t know. The U.S. has been getting on my nerves lately.

Upstart Crow (PBS, Sunday Night)

While trying to write a new comedy called The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare struggles to come up with a big issue that could set the play apart from other plays. Christopher Marlowe, who is sleeping on Shakespeare’s couch after having faked his own death, is of no help. Things start to look up when the intense actor Wolf Hall joins the theater (“I’m a member of the Wolf Pack!” Kate exclaims) but the ever sneaky Robert Greene plots to ruin Shakespeare’s new play by tricking Wolf into making an ill-thought political statement. This was another funny episode, featuring a great turn by Ben Miller as Wolf Hall.

Film Review: The Emoji Movie (dir by Tony Leondis)


 

The Emoji Movie is basically Inside Out, except instead of taking place inside of an awkward teen’s head, it takes place inside of an awkward teen’s phone.  Instead of sharing a universal story about the pain of growing up, it shares a universal story about the pain of having too many lame apps on your phone.  Instead of featuring a melancholy voice performance by Richard Kind as a forgotten toy, it features an annoying voice performance from James Corden as a forgotten emoji.  Instead of being really wise, funny, and sad, the Emoji Movie is dumb, stupid, and idiotic.  Otherwise, it’s just like Inside Out.

Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) is a Meh Emoji.  He lives in Textopolis.  His job is to look like he’s always meh but instead, he’s always full of emotion and positivity.  His boss, Smiler (Maya Rudolph), says that Gene must be a malfunction and therefore, he has to be deleted.  Gene says, “No, I must discover who I actually am!”  With the help of the forgotten hand emoji, Hi-5 (that would be James Corden), Gene flees from app to app.  (It’s kinda like The Lego Movie but not funny, touching, or clever.)  They track down a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris) and, at one point, they’re all rescued by a blue bird that comes flying over from the Twitter app.  They’re all chased by a bunch of bots and I have to admit that I liked the bots just because they were trying to destroy Gene and Hi-5.  Anything that would have ended James Corden’s lameass Ricky Gervais imitation would have been fine with me.

Nobody (or, at the very least, nobody who writes for this site) is as enthusiastic a capitalist as I am but the naked commercialism of The Emoji Movie really tested my patience.  Essentially, it’s just an 86-minute advertisement with a vapid “Be yourself!” message tacked on.  (If The Emoji Movie was sincere in its message of individuality, it wouldn’t celebrate the idea of people communicating exclusively in emoji.)  Early on, when Gene and Hi-5 escaped into Candy Crush, I rolled my eyes.  Later on, when an awed Gene said, “This is Spotify?”, I nearly threw a shoe at the TV.

(I did enjoy the scene where the Just Dance app got deleted, just because the dancer — who was voiced by Christina Aguilera — let out a terrifying scream as the app collapsed around her.  I’ve always imagined that’s what happens whenever I delete anything.)

Usually, I try to force myself to come up with at least 500 words for every review that I write but the really does seem to be more effort than this movie deserves.  (I was actually tempted to write this review exclusive in emoji but then I realized I was just be playing the movie’s game.)  I will say this: children will like The Emoji Movie because children are stupid.  Ask them again in five years and this will be their response: