Let’s check out the butcher’s bill for this week:
Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)
Having returned from England, Rene was named the editor of the town newspaper. He was expected to just publish propaganda. Michelle was excited to have access to a printing press. The latest plan to get the Airmen back to Britain is to make a raft out of telephone poles. We’ll see how that goes.
Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)
Between Fuches somehow surviving getting shot at point blank range, Vanessa Bayer making silly noises as she explained what she thought Sally could bring to a show about Medusa living in SoHo, and that amazingly highway dirt bike chase, this week’s episode of Barry was one of the best overall episodes of the year so far. Who would have thought Bill Hader would be so good at directing action?
I finished up season 3 of Creepshow this week. What a wonderfully macabre show! It’s just as ghoulish as American Horror Story without being so annoying self-impressed.
Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)
Much like Rene on Allo Allo, DJ become editor of the school newspaper! Kimmie Gibbler wanted to report on sports. It led to a big fight but things worked out in the end. Meanwhile, Joey tried to direct a commercial with Danny and Rebecca. It led to a big fight but things worked out in the end. Did I already say that? Anyway, it was indeed a very full house.
At ten episodes, this miniseries was a bit on the long side but it was still a very good show. Margaret Qualley played an aspiring writer who, having left her abusive husband, finds work as a maid while trying to move forward with her life and her daughter. Qualley gave a great performance in the lead role and the show dealt with serious issues without ever descending into melodrama.
Norm McDonald: Nothing Special (Netflix)
In his final comedy special, Norm McDonald talked about …. well, he actually spent a lot of time talking about death. He was undeniably funny, an older comedian who could talk about how the world was changing without coming across as being either mean-spirited or performatively woke. What was interesting about this special (which was recorded in his home studio, in one take) was watching how McDonald would seemingly just stumble from point to point while still always bringing everything together in the end in a way that revealed the fierce intelligence that hid beneath the “average guy who likes to drink beer” persona. At first, I thought he was just rambling but then I noticed that he kept returning to his love of the color yellow.
The final 30 minutes of the special were made up of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Molly Shannon, Dave Chapelle, Adam Sandler, and David Spade talking about Norm and his special. The roundtable was mostly interesting just for the obvious the affection that everyone involved had for Norm McDonald. It was sweet to witness.
I really enjoyed Danny Boyle’s six-episode miniseries about The Sex Pistols and, needless to say, I related to Sidney Chandler’s Chryssie Hynde. I have no doubt that the miniseries offers a bit of a romanticized view of how things went down (that’s kind of Boyle’s thing) but it was well-acted, well-shot, and compulsively watchable. The first four episode were the strongest. The final two got a bit bogged down with Sid’s heroin addiction but the same can be probably be said of the band itself. All in all, though, this was a good and respectful miniseries. I know that Johnny Rotten is not a huge fan of the show and I can kind of understand why because, as I said earlier, it does tend to romanticize things. But, as played by Anson Boon, Johnny is always one of the most compelling characters in the show.
Saved By The Bell (Peacock)
I watched the second and final season of Peacock’s Saved By The Bell revival on Friday. This was actually a really good and clever comedy and it’s kind of a shame that it didn’t last longer. Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley Lauren were both a lot of fun to watch as they not only parodied their SBTB past but, at the same time, managed to make Jessie and Slater into actual human beings. It was nicely done.
We Own This City (Monday Night, HBO)
The finale of We Own This City aired on Monday. As I watched the first half of the finale, I came dangerously close to writing the show off as just being an example of how heavy-handed David Simon can be when he doesn’t have an equally strong collaborator to work with. However, I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. The final 30 minutes, in which we watched the crooked cops get sentenced to prison while also learning that it all ultimately made no difference as far as Baltimore’s culture of corruption was concerned, were undeniably powerful. The final flashback, to Jon Bernthal pumping up the cops about doing their job, was sad because it represented the failure of the cops to live up to their oath but it was also frightening because it perfectly captured the “warrior cop” mentality.
I have to give special mention to Jamie Hector, playing an otherwise honest homicide detective who was driven to suicide by the possibility of losing his job because he was on the periphery of corruption. It took me a few episodes to get used to Hector (best-remembered as psycho drug lord Marlo Stanfield on The Wire) in a sympathetic role but he truly delivered an outstanding performance in the final episode.