What I Watched This Week: 2 Aug 2020

NEW SHOWS
Perry Mason – “Chapter Seven” (A)
The best episode yet with a thrilling climax. Mason’s quick transformation from hacking neophyte to experienced attorney is a little shocking, but his scene with Pete proves it’s not just a put-on.

BINGEING
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (B+ average)
Though its attempts to weave in the life story of the book’s author don’t always work, this is a strong true crime doc series that emphasizes what the book didn’t quite: This monster could have been caught sooner if police departments had worked together instead of posturing and blaming other PDs.

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What I Watched This Week: 26 Jul 2020

NEW SHOWS
Perry Mason – “Chapter Six” (A-)
The show’s best episode yet, with dramatic reveals and a new ally. Matthew Rhys and Juliet Rylance continue to be terrific.

Muppets Now – “Due Date” (B-) / series premiere
Certainly cute, but not nearly as clever as past TV iterations of the Muppets.

REWATCH
The Simpsons – Season 3 (A- average)
The show achieves its peak form, with gorgeous animation, stellar jokes, and richly rewarding stories.

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Streaming Picks: August 2020

FILMS
Top Picks
’71 – Hulu 8/1
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Netflix 8/1
Inception – Prime 8/1
One of my favorite quarantine watches thus far was ’71, a harrowing thriller about a British officer left behind after a riot breaks out in Belfast. It’s an incredible experience.

And the other two are Oscar-winning, mind-bending experiences. The former is one of my all-time favorite movies, a devastating, funny and extremely clever look at doomed love. The latter is Christopher Nolan’s awe-inspiring blockbuster that still inspires debate a decade later.

Recent Selections
Rogue Warfare: The Hunt – Netflix 8/1
Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Hulu and Prime 8/3
Ordinary Love – Hulu 8/3
Arkansas – Prime 8/5
The Peanut Butter Falcon – Hulu and Prime 8/6
Slay the Dragon – Hulu 8/6
We Summon the Darkness – Netflix 8/8
Capone – Prime 8/10
Hard Night Falling – Hulu and Prime 8/10
Lucky Day – Hulu and Prime 8/10
Bernie the Dolphin 2 – Hulu and Prime 8/14
Behind You – Hulu 8/16
Daffodils – Hulu 8/20
Good Kisser – Netflix 8/20
The Legion – Prime 8/22
1BR – Netflix 8/23
The Roads Not Taken – Hulu 8/24
The Bridge Curse – Netflix 8/27
Primal – Hulu and Prime 8/31
The Courier – Hulu and Prime 8/31

Originals
Anelka: Misunderstood – Netflix 8/5
Berlin, Berlin: Lolle on the Run – Netflix 8/7
Work It – Netflix 8/7
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl – Netflix 8/12
An Easy Girl – Netflix 8/13
Fearless – Netflix 8/14
Octonauts & the Caves of Sac Actun – Netflix 8/14
Project Power – Netflix 8/14
Crazy Awesome Teachers – Netflix 8/17
Crimenes de Familia – Netflix 8/19
John Was Trying to Contact Aliens – Netflix 8/20
Chemical Hearts – Prime 8/21
Fuego negro – Netflix 8/21
The Sleepover – Netflix 8/21
Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol – Netflix 8/26
Rising Phoenix – Netflix 8/26
The Binge – Hulu 8/28
Unknown Origins – Netflix 8/28

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2020 Emmy Picks: Limited Series and TV Movies

With virtually all FYC events canceled and almost all productions halted, voters theoretically have had a lot more time to see more shows. And with new rules regarding the number of nominees in each category (which I still don’t fully understand), there’s the possibility of newcomers and frequently overlooked performers will finally get the attention they deserve. So here’s what I think will be nominated this year.

The masked cast of Watchmen
LIMITED SERIES
Hollywood (Netflix)
Mrs. America (Hulu)
The Plot Against America (HBO)
Unbelievable (Netflix)
Watchmen (HBO)

Potential surprises:
Defending Jacob (AppleTV+)
I Know This Much Is True (HBO)
Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
The Loudest Voice (Showtime)
Normal People (Hulu)

In my dreams: Briarpatch (USA)

The skinny: There were plenty of worthy limited series this past year (though not enough to have more than five nominees, but that’s another story). But this everyone who’s not Damon Lindelof should be happy just to be nominated. It’s too bad my beloved Briarpatch won’t be one of them.

Hugh Jackman in Bad Education
TV MOVIE
American Son (Netflix)
Bad Education (HBO)
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
Transparent Musicale Finale (Prime)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend (Netflix)

Potential surprises:
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones (Netflix)
Patsy and Loretta (Lifetime)
Togo (Disney+)

In my dreams: Into the Dark: Culture Shock (Hulu)

The skinny: A lot of epilogues to previous Emmy nominated shows here, plus one adaptation of a Broadway play and a movie that actually played at TIFF last year and was destined for theaters, but HBO won the bidding war so it’s technically a TV movie. It’s also the best of the bunch.

Mark Ruffalo in I Know This Much Is True
ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE
Russell Crowe, The Loudest Voice
Chris Evans, Defending Jacob
Jeremy Irons, Watchmen
Hugh Jackman, Bad Education
Aaron Paul, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

Potential surprises:
Sacha Baron Cohen, The Spy
Matthew Macfadyen, Quiz
Paul Mescal, Normal People
Jeremy Pope, Hollywood

In my dreams: Nick Offerman, Devs

The skinny: A truly impressive line-up of Oscar winners and nominees, plus one of the biggest movie stars in the world. But Ruffalo has this locked up.

Regina King in Watchmen
ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE
Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America
Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable
Regina King, Watchmen
Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere
Merritt Wever, Unbelievable
Reese Witherspoon, Little Fires Everywhere

Potential surprises:
Michelle Dockery, Defending Jacob
Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People
Shira Haas, Unorthodox
Kathryn Hahn, Mrs. Fletcher
Zoe Kazan, The Plot Against America
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend
Helen Mirren, Catherine the Great
Amy Poehler, A Parks and Recreation Special
Octavia Spencer, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
Kerry Washington, American Son

In my dreams: Rosario Dawson, Briarpatch

The skinny: A lot of huge names duking it out for a finite number of spots (and I suppose it’s possible we get 7-8 here, thus increasing the number of nominees in the Lead Actor category… I think), but this is a two-person race between Regina King and Cate Blanchett. Both are giving the best performances on TV and anchored their sprawling series. I give King the slimmest of leads right now.

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2020 Emmy Picks: Drama

With virtually all FYC events canceled and almost all productions halted, voters theoretically have had a lot more time to see more shows. And with new rules regarding the number of nominees in each category (which I still don’t fully understand), there’s the possibility of newcomers and frequently overlooked performers will finally get the attention they deserve. So here’s what I think will be nominated this year.

The cast of Succession
DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Big Little Lies (HBO)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Ozark (Netflix)
Pose (FX)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)

Potential surprises:
Black Mirror (Netflix) – recently ruled a Drama Series; 3 wins for Television Movie
Homeland (Showtime) – 4 nominations including 1 win
Killing Eve (BBC America) – 1 nomination
The Mandalorian (Disney+) – new show
The Morning Show (AppleTV+) – new show
This Is Us (NBC) – 3 nominations
The Outsider (HBO) – new show
Westworld (HBO) – 2 nominations

Ineligible: Bodyguard, Game of Thrones

In my dreams: Mindhunter (Netflix)

The skinny: With Game of Thrones‘ reign of terror finally over, it’s anyone’s guess who will take over. Most of these shows aired over a year ago, so who knows if they’ll be remembered amongst the glut of new shows out. I’d peg this as a three-team race between Succession‘s second season, Ozark‘s third, and Better Call Saul‘s transcendent fifth season.

But if we’re talking about acclaimed shows that aired over a year ago, voters should look at Mindhunter‘s second season, which took a leap before sadly getting left to die because David Fincher’s too busy. (Though with the COVID-related production delays, it’s not like we would be getting a third season any time soon anyway.)

Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox in Succession
ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Brian Cox, Succession
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose
Jeremy Strong, Succession

Potential surprises:
Steve Carell, The Morning Show – new show
Idris Elba, Luther – recently ruled a Drama Series; 4 nominations in previous category
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot – 1 win
Ben Mendelsohn, The Outsider – new show
Tobias Menzies, The Crown – new cast member
Al Pacino, Hunters – new show
Aaron Paul, Westworld – new cast member
Patrick Stewart, Star Trek: Picard – new show
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us – 3 nominations

Ineligible: Kit Harington

In my dreams: Holt McCallany, Mindhunter

The skinny: I would have pegged Bateman to win here were he not getting out-acted by at least three cast members. It could still happen, particularly if there’s an Ozark sweep. But this award seems particularly up for grabs. Right now, I’d say it’s split between the two Succession leads.

Laura Linney in Ozark
ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Olivia Colman, The Crown
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Laura Linney, Ozark
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Potential surprises:
Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show – new show
Claire Danes, Homeland – 5 nominations including 2 wins
Kirsten Dunst, On Becoming a God in Central Florida – new show
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies – 1 win
Mandy Moore, This Is Us – 1 nomination
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld – 2 nominations
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies – 1 nomination
Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show – new show
Zendaya, Euphoria – new show

Ineligible: Emilia Clarke, Robin Wright

In my dreams: Janelle Monae, Homecoming

The skinny: An especially stacked year. Just look at all those ladies who probably aren’t making it into the final list of nominees! But no matter how many of those names you swap out, it’s Laura Linney’s year.

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What I Watched This Week: 19 Jul 2020

NEW SHOWS
Perry Mason – “Chapter Five” (A-)
The show finally kicks into high gear as Mason steps into the shoes of E.B., passing the bar through some less than ethical means to take over as attorney for Emily Dodson.

Happy Endings – “The Pandemi” (A)
Of all the sitcoms getting back together for new, Zoom-filmed episodes, this was by far the funniest. All the jokes felt on-brand for the characters, and it wasn’t too saccharine or too cynical. In a word, it was ah-mah-zing.

BINGEING
Lonesome Dove (B+ average)
A rip-roaring good time, even if it’s occasionally a little too long and leans into some ugly stereotypes.

Search Party – Season 3 (A- average)
The first few episodes aren’t as strong as the past two seasons, and feature some weak media satire. But once Drew and Dory’s trial kicks off, it’s riveting TV, walking a tonal tightrope between the absurd and the disturbing.

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2020 Emmy Picks: Comedy and Variety

With virtually all FYC events canceled and almost all productions halted, voters theoretically have had a lot more time to see more shows. And with new rules regarding the number of nominees in each category (which I still don’t fully understand), there’s the possibility of newcomers and frequently overlooked performers will finally get the attention they deserve. So here’s what I think will be nominated this year.

The cast of Schitt's Creek
COMEDY SERIES
black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Dead to Me (Netflix)
The Good Place (NBC)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Space Force (Netflix)

Potential surprises:
Avenue 5 (HBO) – new show
GLOW (Netflix) – 1 nomination
Modern Family (ABC) – 8 nominations including 5 wins
The Righteous Gemstones (HBO) – new show
RUN (HBO) – new show

Ineligible: Barry, Fleabag, Russian Doll, Veep

In my dreams: The Great (Hulu)

The skinny: With the recent announcement that Comedy and Drama Series will each have eight nominees, there are a clear seven, and then that last spot is up for grabs. If it goes to the final season of Modern Family, I won’t hold out hope for anything exciting to happen this year like it did last year. It’s more likely to be a new show, but which one? There are three HBO shows with differing levels of acclaim, none of them with overwhelming praise. So that means it’ll likely be Space Force, which has the Netflix muscle behind it. It, too, had mixed reviews, but seems to be well-liked by most folks who actually binged the whole thing. But it’s too bad the best new comedy of the year isn’t really a contender at all: The Great is magnificent, and should be competing in every category.

Eugene Levy in Schitt's Creek
ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Potential surprises:
Steve Carell, Space Force – new show
Martin Freeman, Breeders – new show
Domhnall Gleeson, RUN – new show
Hugh Laurie, Avenue 5 – new show
William H. Macy, Shameless – 5 nominations
Ramy Youssef, Ramy – never nominated

Ineligible: Bill Hader

In my dreams: Paul Rudd, Living with Yourself

The skinny: A group of multi-time nominees, with no major standout. It feels like Levy by default because it seems like Schitt’s Creek year, and he’s been a comic gem for more than four decades.

Catherine O'Hara in Schitt's Creek
ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Issa Rae, Insecure
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Potential surprises:
Awkwafina, Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens – new show
Kristen Bell, The Good Place – never nominated
Aidy Bryant, Shrill – new show
Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me – never nominated
Elle Fanning, The Great – new show
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie – 1 nomination
Allison Janney, Mom – 2 nominations + 2 wins for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish – 3 nominations
Merritt Wever, RUN – new show

Ineligible: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Natasha Lyonne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

In my dreams: Natasia Demetriou, What We Do in the Shadows

The skinny: Crowded as ever, and I’m not sure how the rules about parity in the number of nominees in the lead categories comes into play here. These are all repeat nominees, with a group of veterans on deck to take their place should one fall out of favor. I do not expect the lead of a new show to surprise here.

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What I Watched This Week: 12 Jul 2020

NEW SHOWS
Perry Mason – “Chapter Four” (B)
At this point, the show is what it is. I don’t see it suddenly going from good to great. But there’s so little on right now, I’m fine with a handsome, well-acted show with a compelling mystery. There’s still some unpredictability, with one major character death this week, but I’m no longer expecting this to blow my mind.

BINGEING
Search Party – Season 2 (B+ average)
Still excellent, even if its new subplots (particularly involving guest star J. Smith Cameron as a creepy Senate candidate) don’t always make sense. This is a comedy with real consequences for the actions of our quartet, even if some of them are absolutely absurd.

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What I Watched This Week: 5 Jul 2020

NEW SHOWS
Perry Mason – “Chapter Three” (B+)
The plot thickens, with Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) running into the buzzsaw of racism and police corruption. I’ll be interested in how he’ll factor into the larger mystery.

BINGEING
Search Party – Season 1 (A- average)
A true Millennial show with an extremely compelling mystery and a very hot cast. The show’s unexpected ending would have been a fascinating place to end the show, but I’m looking forward to the next two seasons.

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Streaming Picks: July 2020, Part 2

Universal is the latest media conglomerate to get into the streaming game. While the service will eventually include the complete run of the American Office and a third season of my beloved A.P. Bio, at launch it’s somewhat slim pickin’s. But there is a lot of great library content, including the last great multi-cam sitcom (Everybody Loves Raymond). Here are the highlights of what will be available at launch on July 15.

FILMS
Top Pick
Do the Right Thing
Spike Lee’s incendiary breakthrough film still resonates more than 30 years later. Its tale of police brutality and simmering racial tensions is sadly just as impactful today.

Recent Selections
Surprisingly, there aren’t any big titles from the last two years premiering on the service at launch.

Originals
Psych 2: Lassie Come Home

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