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….”

 

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:

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.

TV Review: The Walking Dead 11.15 “Trust” (dir by Lily Manye)


It’s often been said that, in the world of The Walking Dead, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Of course, that’s not necessarily true.  Indeed, if you don’t trust anyone, you’re actually probably increasing the odds that you’ll end up getting eaten by walkers or killed by Reapers or Whisperers or whoever the main villain of the season happens to be.  You have to be willing to join up with some sort of community and that requires taking a leap of faith and putting your trust in the survival and leadership capabilities of someone who, under normal circumstances, would probably forever be a stranger to you.

That said, the world of The Walking Dead does require a certain amount of weariness.  As the past 11 seasons have shown us, not everyone is worth the trouble.  Some people insist on trying to apply reason to a chaotic world.  Some people simply aren’t strong enough mentally or emotionally to survive the harsh reality of the apocalypse.  Some people are just mean.  And, of course, some people are just too annoying to keep around.  Trust is important but trust also has to be earned.

Last Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead was all about trust.  In fact, it was so much about trust that it was a little boring.  This was one of those episodes that you could appreciate because it was laying the groundwork for whatever the finale is going to be but, at the same time, you also find yourself wishing that the show would just get on with it.

But, back to the issue of trust:

Hornsy has to decide if he trusted Gabriel and Aaron’s version about what happened at the Apartment Complex.  Hornsby decided that he did not and with good reason because both Gabriel and Aaron were obviously lying.  Aaron can get away with that but Gabriel just broke a Commandment.  As others have pointed out, Gabriel’s not a very good priest.

Maggie had to decide whether or not to trust Daryl when he promised her that the Commonwealth soldiers would only be inside Hillside for a brief moment of time.  She trusted Daryl but, obviously, she still doesn’t trust Hornsby and that’s definitely the right call on her part.  Hornsby is so villainous that you have to admire the show’s restraint in not putting a black hat on his head.

The Hillside residents are trusting Maggie to give them a safe place to live but I couldn’t help but notice that Hillside looks worse and worse every time the show spends any time there.  Would it kill someone to mow the grass and take care of the weeds?  Everything about Hillside just reeks of mosquitos and tetanus shots.

Hornsby had to decide whether or not to trust little Herschel when the kid tried to pretend like his mom hadn’t gone to the Apartment Complex.  Hornsby obviously knew better than to believe a word that kid had to say.

At the Commonwealth, Eugene has decided to trust Max.  Yay! 

Mercer has decided to trust Princess.  Yay!

Mercer has decided that he does not trust Hornsby.  That’s a smart decision but Mercer seriously needs to hurry up and announce whose side he is on.

Finally, the sick of the Commonwealth have decided to trust Ezekiel’s surgical skills.  That seems like something that could go wrong but …. well, we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, with this episode, we finally reached the flashforward from the 9th episode.  We finally learned why the Commonwealth showed up at Hillside and why Daryl was with them.  For all of the speculation, it turns out that Daryl and Maggie are not enemies and, as Daryl showed when Hornsby threatened Herschel, Daryl will probably be on Team Hillside when the inevitable war breaks out.  To be honest, I think we all secretly suspected that was what was going to happen.  Still, it’s hard not to be a little bit disappointed that things worked out so simply and so obviously.  It makes sense, though.  Daryl trusts Maggie.

And, in the end, it’s all about trust.

TV Review: The Dropout 1.8 “Lizzy” (dir by Erica Watson)


(Below, you will find spoilers for the final episode of The Dropout.  I would recommend not reading this post until you’ve watched the episode.)

After all the drama and the deception, The Dropout ended the only way that it could, with Theranos in ruins, Sunny out of Elizabeth’s life, and Elizabeth still unable to comprehend why everyone got upset with her in the first place.  While George Schultz tries to come to terms with his mistakes and Erika Cheung worries about whether or not she’s ruined her future career by coming out as a whistleblower, Elizabeth tries to do damage control by forcing Sunny out of Theranos and then going on television for a cringey interview that pretty much seals her fate.  Both David Boies and Linda Tanner (Michaela Watkins, who became the unexpected heart of this episode) tell Elizabeth that it’s important that she come across as being contrite and sincerely “devastated” by Sunny’s actions.  Elizabeth, however, can’t do it.  As she explains to her mother, Elizabeth has been locking away her emotions for so long that she no longer knows how to express or even feel them.

The end of the episode finds Elizabeth finally pursuing the life that she would have led if she hadn’t dropped out of Stanford, started Theranos, and gotten involved with Sunny.  She’s dating a younger man.  She’s going to Burning Man.  She owns a dog.  She’s ditched the turtleneck.  She’s let her hair down.  She’s speaking in her real voice.  She’s going by “Lizzie.”  She’s reverted back to being the somewhat flakey child of privilege that she was at the start of the miniseries.  Even while Linda Tanner confronts her with the number of lives that she and Theranos destroyed, Elizabeth doesn’t break her stride.  Elizabeth has decided that she’s moved on, even if no one else can.  It’s only when she’s alone that she briefly allow her composure to crack, just long enough to scream into the void.

Of course, the final title card informs us that it doesn’t matter how much Elizabeth wants to be Lizzie, the girl who goes to Burning Man with her boyfriend.  Having been convicted of defrauding her investors, Elizabeth Holmes is currently awaiting her sentencing.  She could end up spending the next twenty years in prison.  And, just as Phyllis Gardner predicted in the previous episode, Elizabeth has made it difficult for other female entrepreneurs to find success in Silicon Valley.

As the episode came to a close, with Elizabeth walking through the now empty offices of Theranos with her dog and an increasingly agitated Linda, I found myself thinking about how those offices progressed through the series.  Theranos went from a shabby office building in the worst part of town to being the epitome of Silicon Valley chic.  In the early episodes, the cluttered Theranos offices and labs were disorganized but there was also a very sincere earnestness to them.  Men like Ian Gibbons actually believed in what they were doing.  By the fourth episode, Theranos transformed into a secretive place that was fueled by paranoia.  With each subsequent episode, the offices became a bit less individualistic and bit more joyless.  In the final episode, the offices were dark and deserted, as empty as Elizabeth and Sunny’s promises.  Looking at those offices, it was hard not to mourn the lost idealism of those early days.  Sunny may have never shared that idealism.  The miniseries suggests that Elizabeth lost her idealism as soon as she finally started to get the positive publicity that she craved.  But the people who were there at the beginning believed in Theranos and its stated mission.  Even Elizabeth’s early investors were taking a chance because they thought she could make the world a better place.  In the end, Elizabeth and Sunny betrayed all of them.  As I said at the start of this review, The Dropout ended the only way that it could, with an empty office, a lot of broken hearts, and Elizabeth Holmes convinced that the world had somehow failed her.  Viewers may never fully understand what was going on in Elizabeth Holmes’s mind but they’ll never forget her or the story of Theranos.

The Dropout was a good miniseries, probably the best that we’ll see this year.  This is a miniseries that better be remembered come Emmy time.  Amanda Seyfried seems to be a lock to at least get a nomination.  Naveen Andrews deserves consideration as well.  The supporting cast provides an embarrassment of riches.  Sam Waterston, Dylan Minnette, Kurtwood Smith, Michaela Watkins, William H. Macy, the great Stephen Fry, Camryn Mi-Young Kim, Kate Burton, Anne Archer, and Laurie Metcalf, all of them are award-worthy.  Give them the Emmy campaign that they deserve, Hulu!

TV Review: The Girl From Plainville 1.4 “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” (dir by Pippa Bianco)


Last week, when the first three episodes of The Girl From Plainville dropped on Hulu, my main concern was that, regardless of how well-acted the show may be or how tragic the true life story might be, there really wasn’t much left to be said about Michelle Carter and Conrad “Coco” Roy.   

Having watch the fourth and latest episode last night, I have to say that I think my concerns were justified.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  The fourth episode was fairly well-directed.  It was definitely well-acted.  There was a scene where Elle Fanning and Colton Ryan start singing Can’t Stop This Feeling that I’m sure will be a favorite amongst many viewers.  But, in the end, it’s hard to see why eight hours are going to be required to tell this story.  There was really nothing in the fourth episode that couldn’t have been communicated in a two-minute montage.

The fourth episode continued the show’s distracting habit of jumping back and forth in time.  The main problem with this is that, unless Colton Ryan is in the scene, it’s often difficult to keep track of whether we’re seeing the past or the show’s “present.”  There’s not much different between past Michelle and present Michelle.  For that matter, Coco’s parents appear to have been just as miserable in the past as they were in the present.  There was a scene where Coco’s father and his grandfather got into an argument about whether or not they should sell Coco’s truck and it took me a few minutes to understand that the scene was supposed to be taking place in 2014 and not 2012.  To be honest, there’s really no reason for the show’s jumbled timeline, other than the fact that it’s currently what all the Emmy-winning miniseries are doing.  But since we all already know how the story began and how the story is going to end, we don’t really get much out of the show’s mix of flashbacks and flashforwards.

The show seem to be trying to generate some suspense over whether Michelle will actually go on trial over her part in Coco’s death but again, what’s the point?  We all know that she went on trial.  The publicity of the trial is the whole reason why most people are going to be watching this show in the first place.  In fact, all of the legal maneuvering is probably the least interesting part of the story.  So far, both the prosecutor and Michelle’s attorney are coming across as being one-note characters.  That may be a reflection of reality because real-life lawyers are rarely as interesting as their television counterparts but that still doesn’t make for compelling viewing.

What does make for compelling viewing is the show’s suggestion that this was all because of Glee.  Michelle’s obsession with Finn and Rachel, in particular, seems to have been her main motivation for pursuing a relationship with Coco in the first place.  And, of course, Finn died when his actor died so perhaps Coco had to die as well.  (On the bright side, at least Michelle wasn’t obsessed with Puck and Quinn.)  While the rest of the world is trying to understand why Coco killed himself and why Michelle apparently ordered him to get back in the truck, Michelle is imagining herself in an episode of Glee.  As I mentioned earlier, the Can’t Fight This Feeling scene was probably the episode’s highlight, if just because it revealed how fragile Michelle’s concept of reality truly was.

If the fourth episode of The Dropout was where that show justified its existence, the fourth episode of The Girl From Plainville feels like it has more in common with the fourth episode of Pam & Tommy.  The Girl From Plainville works as a showcase for Elle Fanning and, occasionally, Colton Ryan but the show itself still hasn’t quite convinced me that it needs to exist.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 3/27/22 — 4/2/22


I spent most of this week passed out, to be honest.  Oscar Sunday took a lot out of me.  Here’s a few thoughts on what I did watch:

The Academy Awards (Sunday Night, ABC)

I wrote about the Oscars here.

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

Could the British airmen escape from floating down a canal and meeting a submarine?  It sounds like a good idea but …. no, of course it’s not going to work.  Good moaning, indeed!

American Idol (Monday Night, ABC)

Hollywood week!  The genre challenge!  It was boring.  The indie folk group had some of the most annoying singers that I’ve ever seen.  I’m really hoping that the girl who keeps bragging about how “weird” she is will get eliminated early.  If you’re truly weird, you don’t have to beg people to notice.

Baywatch Hawaii (Hulu)

On Wednesday, I finally watched episode two of the second and final season of Baywatch Hawaii.  JD wasn’t being a team player so Sean briefly suspended him and then asked him to help with a rescue.  JD learned an important lesson about putting aside your own concerns and taking one for the team.  Bleh.  Meanwhile, the father of an injured jet skier tried to sue Baywatch Hawaii but then he met the couple who was nearly killed by his son’s carelessness and he dropped his lawsuit.  Yay!  Lessons were learned all around.

On Thursday, I watched episode three.  Jenna was determined to shut down Baywatch and sell the property to the Mafia.  Sean was determined to raise the money necessary to pay his bills.  Fortunately, Jason and Zack saved the gangsters from drowning and, as a result, Baywatch lived to see another day.  You can’t put someone out of business after they save your life.  It’s the Mafia code.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

All four of Sunday’s episodes centered around the kids playing baseball.  Greg wanted to drop out of school to pursue a career in the majors so Mike used a baseball bat to break his kneecaps.  That seems a little extreme to me but the important thing is that Greg stayed in school.

Couples Court With The Cutlers (Weekdays, OWN)

I watched two episodes on Monday afternoon.  I was too busy making jokes about Will and Jada Smith someday appearing on the show to actually pay that much attention.

The Dropout (Hulu)

I reviewed the latest episode of The Dropout here!

Full House (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

Personally, I don’t see what was so bad about Danny Tanner wanting to have a clean house.  In all four the episodes that aired last Sunday on MeTV, people gave him a hard time for being compulsively neat but seriously, who would want to live in a dirty house?  For instance, while I was watching Full House, I stepped outside for a few minutes and accident stepped on a rock while barefoot.  Once I came back in, I discovered that the den floor had a trail of bloody footprints on it, much like a totally horrific crime scene.  Needless to say, I was not happy about this turn of events so, once I managed to step bleeding, I spent a few hours scrubbing the floor.  It was just the right thing to do.

The Girl From Plainville (Hulu)

I wrote about the first three episodes of Hulu’s latest miniseries here!

King of the Hill (Weekday Afternoons, FXX)

I watched one episode on Monday.  Desperate to make money so that he could afford some nicer clothes, Bobby first tried to get a legitimate job but eventually, he turned to panhandling.  Hank, needless to say, did not approve of his own son being a bum for fun.  He also didn’t approve of the other panhandlers, who were all basically rich kids just pretending to need the money.  They even forced Hank’s favorite homeless man, Spongey, to move to a different spot!  Fortunately, it all worked out in the end and Spongey hopefully got the money he needed.

Last Man Standing (Sunday, Newsnation)

I swear, this show is inescapable.  It’s on at least one channel every hour of every day.  I guess it kind of makes sense.  It’s a sitcom that didn’t really require too much focus on the part of the viewer and, as a result, it makes for nicely acceptable and inoffensive background noise.  Myself, whenever I see this show, I find myself relating to the middle daughter, the one who pretends to be self-centered but is secretly nicer than everyone else.  Anyway, I watched three episodes on Sunday and I don’t remember a thing about any of them, other than one featured the mom and the older sisters trying on wedding dresses and talking about how silly the world was.  That’s just the type of show that Last Man Standing was.

The Love Boat (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

Debbie Reynolds boarded the ship and briefly pretended to be Dr. Bricker’s nurse.  I’m not sure it’s a good idea for a doctor to agree to allow anyone to “pretend to be a nurse.”  I mean, a nurse still has a lot of real responsibility.  I assume everything worked out in the end.  To be honest, I was busy getting ready for the Oscars so I didn’t pay much attention to the show this week.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

Arkwright somewhat desperately tried to convince Nurse Gladys Emmanuel that he wasn’t a monster who is holding Granville hostage.  The nurse (a real one, this time!) was too clever for him.

Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

I woke up on Sunday morning and I watched the Christmas episode!  That was the one where Zack and his mom allowed a homeless man and his daughter to move in and then they never mentioned them ever again.  Kind of a strange episode.  I’ve always been worried about what happened to the man and his daughter after the final credits.  It just seems like having two strangers living in the house is something that would have come up again in a future episode.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, ABC)

I wrote about the latest episode of Survivor here!

Talking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)

Chris did his best to make this week’s episode of The Walking Dead more interesting than it actually was.  Good for him.

The Walking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)

I wrote about the latest episode of The Walking Dead here!

TV Review: The Girl From Plainville Episodes 1-3 (dir by Lisa Cholodenko and Zetna Fuentes)


With The Dropout scheduled to air its final episode next week, Hulu is moving on to another 8-hour miniseries about another young blonde woman who was at the center of a media firestorm.  The Girl From Plainville stars Elle Fannie as Michelle Carter, a teenager who was convicted of more or less goading her “boyfriend,” Conrad Roy (played by Colton Ryan, who was one of the few good things about Dear Evan Hansen) into killing himself.

It was a case that got a lot of attention and Michelle was, for a few months, everyone’s favorite heartless villain.  She was eventually convicted of manslaughter and, after several appeals, was eventually sentenced to 15 months in prison.  She served 11 and is currently free.  She’s 25 years old and has already experienced not only prison but also being briefly the most hated person in the country.  And yet, for all the attention that she received, no one has ever been able to determine just why exactly she told Conrad Roy that he should kill himself or why she went as far as to order him to do so, even after he said he had changed his mind.  There was a lot of speculation that Conrad perhaps thought that he and Michelle had a suicide pact, one that Michelle didn’t follow through on.  It’s also undeniable that, after Conrad’s suicide, Michelle made herself the center of attention.  Before her final text messages to Conrad were discovered, Michelle organized a charity softball game in his memory.  Of course, she held the game in her hometown instead of Conrad’s and apparently, she went out of her way not to involve any of Conrad’s friends or family in her efforts.  Could Michelle have pressured Conrad to kill himself just so she could use his death to be the center of everyone’s attention?

The first three episodes of The Girl From Plainville dropped on Hulu earlier this week and they certainly suggest that Michelle could be capable of doing it all for the attention.  At the same time, they also suggest that Michelle herself probably didn’t truly understand what she did or why she did it.  As played by Elle Fanning and Colton Ryan, both Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy come across as two people who didn’t have much of a connection with reality.  Conrad, or Coco as his friends and family call him, wants to escape a home life that is dominated by the constant bickering between his divorced parents.  He’s at his happiest when he gets a summer job working on a fishing boat and he’s miserable when he has to return to the “real” world, where he’s anxious around people his own age and he’s constantly being used as a pawn in his mother and father’s never ending battles.  Meanwhile, Michelle is so detached that she has to watch an episode of Glee in order to come up with something to say after Conrad’s suicide.  Conrad’s family is earthy, loud, and working class while Michelle’s family is reserved and wealthy but both families have raised children who feel like permanent outsiders.  Indeed, it seems almost preordained that they would eventually find each other and both Colton Ryan and Elle Fanning do a good job of bringing Conrad and Michelle to life.

That said, as I watched the first three episodes of The Girl from Plainville, I did find myself wondering if there was anything more to say about this case.  After the endless news coverage, one Lifetime movie, one HBO special, and countless “ripped from the headlines” episodes of Law & Order: SVU, are there any new insights left to be gleaned from the story of Michelle and Conrad?  With a story this terrible, one’s natural tendency is to search for a deeper meaning but is there really one there?  What if, for all the speculation, Michelle really was just a heartless monster who manipulated Conrad into suicide because she knew she could?  In short, is there enough here to really justify spending 8 hours with someone like Michelle Carter?

I guess we’ll find out over the upcoming few weeks.