Netflix Picks: October 2017

TOP PICK – FILM
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – 10/13
I’ll trash Greenberg till the day I die, but Noah Baumbach has been on an upswing lately with Frances Ha, While We’re Young and Mistress America. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the challenging project that will get Adam Sandler back to the types of roles that require more of him than just showing up at some vacation destination and making fart jokes. Even if it’s not, this dramedy has a hell of a cast, including Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson high as a kite.

TOP PICK – TV
Stranger Things (Season 2) – 10/27
*looks side to side, motions you to come closer, whispers*
This is better than the movie It, even though it was clearly influenced by the book. Season 2 hopefully is even more thematically rich, fitfully scary and downright awesome than the first season.

TOP PICK – COMEDY
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation – 10/17
Patton can do no wrong. His comedy is always brilliant and insightful. This episode should be even more resonant since it’s the first one he wrote since the death of his beloved wife.

NETFLIX ORIGINALS
Rodney Carrington: Here Comes the Truth – 10/3
ID-0 (Season 1) – 10/6
Skylanders Academy (Season 2) – 10/6
Suburra (Season 1) – 10/6
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson – 10/6
Word Party (Season 3) – 10/6
Christina P: Mother Inferior – 10/10
Fe De Eterras – 10/12
El Especial de Alex Fernández, el Especial – 10/13
Kingdom of Us – 10/13
Mindhunter (Season 1) – 10/13
Super Monsters (Season 1) – 10/13
The Babysitter – 10/13
Voltron: Legendary Defender (Season 4) – 10/13
Slasher: Guilty Party – 10/17
1922 – 10/20
Haters Back Off (Season 2) – 10/20
One of Us – 10/20
The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate Del Castillo Story – 10/20
Wheelman – 10/20
Wanted (Seasons 1 & 2) – 10/12
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold – 10/27
Judah Friedlander: America Is the Greatest Country in the United States – 10/30
Zumbo’s Just Desserts (Season 1) – 10/31

CATALOG SHOWS
Lock-up: Disturbing the Peace (Vol. 1) – 10/1
PJ Masks (Season 1) – 10/1
Schitt’s Creek (Season 3) – 10/5
The Fosters (Season 5) – 10/5
LEGO City (Season 1) – 10/15
West Coast Customs (Season 6) – 10/15
La Querida Del Centauro (Season 2) – 10/25

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What I Watched This Week: 24 Sept 2017

NEW SHOWS
The Opposition with Jordan Klepper – “September 25, 2017” (B+) / series premiere
Has a lot to introduce in this premiere, but it has the right skeleton in place to basically be The Colbert Report 2.0, moving with the Republican party from the blow-hard elites of Bill O’Reilly-era Fox News to the more frightening Internet psychos of InfoWars.

The Mindy Project – “May Divorce Be with You” (A-)
A nearly stellar episode, with character growth, a ton of laughs, and one genuinely awful/adorable rendition of Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Although the show’s final minute hints at something I’m sure every fan of the show wants (including me), it can’t help but feel a little forced.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “The Big House, Part 1” (A) / season premiere
Whatever reservations I had about last season’s finale, this premiere wiped them away, as the writers find an endless supply of great jokes from the situation of someone as clueless and cocky as Jake in federal prison. And if any show could land jokes about Epix and Lycos, it’s this one.

This Is Us – “A Father’s Advice” (B) / season premiere
Catches everyone up, but doesn’t really move anything forward. I wouldn’t call it a waste of time, since the performances are still so good and there’s a big reveal at the end. But, uh, guys, let’s get moving.

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What I Watched This Week: 17 Sept 2017

NEW SHOWS & SPECIALS
Jerry Before Seinfeld (A-)
It’s all material we’ve heard before, but Seinfeld’s delivery is so effortless that it doesn’t feel old hat. I could have easily watched another hour.

The Mindy Project – “A Romantical Decouplement” (B+)
A major improvement on the premiere in a joke-packed episode that finds no fewer than five characters realizing what they really want. Mindy isn’t growing, and that’s frustrating, but at least she’s not hurting Ben anymore. (What am I even saying? How did I get emotionally invested in this stupid show?)

The Good Place – “Everything Is Great!” (A-) / season premiere
The show resets (and then resets again) in an hour-long episode that can’t quite manage to be as engaging as that brilliant pilot, but still packs in a ton of jokes, some of which work because we know what makes the four tortured souls tick, and some because they reveal that Bad Place employees care just as much about a fun workplace and fulfilling roles as anyone else.

The Sinner – “Part VIII” (A-) / season finale
The show reaches is its end and finds about as much resolution as it can. Cora finally remembers what happened on that fateful night, and the horrifying months after. That mystery had a satisfying reveal. But as good as Bill Pullman was in this show, all his dark sexual proclivities and broken marriage still never cohered, so that all fell like filler. That means this won’t be a show that makes my top 10 this year.

OLD SHOWS
Black Mirror (Season 3) – “San Junipero” (A)
I still haven’t gotten around to all of Black Mirror, but I decided it was high time to watch the most acclaimed episode, which shocked everyone by winning the Emmy for Best Made-for-TV Movie. (Is this a made-for-TV movie? Absolutely not. But it was still better than the competition.) Yes, it is as good as everyone says it is and the rare example of an episode of this show that’s not quite a cautionary tale and one with a rare hopeful ending.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 10) – “Charlie Work” (A)
A brilliant, madcap gem from one of the recent seasons I never got around to. I’ve long believed that Charlie Day is giving the best performance on the show, and this is yet another showcase for his laser-focused insanity.

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2017 Emmy Predictions: Limited Series and Made-for-TV Movies

big_little_lies-woodley_witherspoon_kidman
LIMITED SERIES
Big Little Lies (HBO)
Fargo (FX)
Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Genius (Nat Geo)
The Night Of (HBO)

Could win: Fargo
Should win: The Night Of
Will win: Big Little Lies
Should have been nominated: N/A

Sherlock (series 4)
MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE
Black Mirror: “San Junipero” (Netflix)
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (NBC)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HBO)
Sherlock: “The Lying Detective” (PBS)
The Wizard of Lies (HBO)

Could win: The Wizard of Lies
Should win: Black Mirror: “San Junipero”
Will win: Sherlock: “The Lying Detective”
Should have been nominated: Apparently Oh, Hello on Broadway was eligible for this so, that.

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LIMITED ACTOR
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies
Ewan McGregor, Fargo
Geoffrey Rush, Genius
John Turturro, The Night Of

Could win: John Turturro
Should win: Riz Ahmed
Will win: Benedict Cumberbatch
Should have been nominated: Not sure how this counts, but Chris Gethard submitted himself for Career Suicide, and that was magnificent.

big_little_lies-kidman
LIMITED ACTRESS
Carrie Coon, Fargo
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

Could win: Susan Sarandon or Jessica Lange
Should and will win: Nicole Kidman
Should have been nominated: Melissa Leo, The Most Hated Woman in America

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What I Watched This Week: 10 Sept 2017

NEW SHOWS
The Mindy Project – “Is That All There Is?” (C+) / season premiere
An apt title, as the show jumps forward a few months, then tries to backtrack everything that happened during the jump. I understand that the show is mostly about Mindy’s search for happiness and fulfillment, but her continued indecisiveness is reaching Lorelai Gilmore levels of fury in me.

South Park – “White People Renovating Houses” (B) / season premiere
Could have done a bit more with its richly deserved targets of ignorant white people and the glut of home renovation shows, but it still gets some great shots at morons who wave the Confederate flag, thereby screwing up whatever actual “economic anxiety” might be present. Probably would have been funnier if I had an Alexa or a Google Home.

The Sinner – “Part VII” (A)
Told completely in flashback, we finally learn what happened that awful night in 2012. It’s both simpler and more complicated than we’ve been led to believe, but even more tragic.

CURRENT SHOWS & SPECIALS
Louis C.K.: 2017 (A-)
Starts stronger than it ends, diving head-first into controversial topics (abortion and suicide), before getting a little lost and questioning his sexuality, particularly when Magic Mike is on TV.

Neal Brennan: 3 Mics (B+)
Not as strong as Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide, but what is? A solid gimmick – one mic for one-liners, one for traditional stand-up, one for a brutally honest discussion about clinical depression – makes it memorable.

Jim Gaffigan: Cinco (B)
His weakest special to date, yet his jokes about food and religion are still like comfort food to me.

Jerrod Carmichael: 8 (B-)
Dude’s got jokes, but his uncertain delivery means they don’t always land. And when many of the punchlines are meant to needle our bubbles, it doesn’t make them nearly as effective as they could be.

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2017 Emmy Predictions: Drama

Lonnie Chavis and Milo Ventimiglia on This Is Us
DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld (HBO)

Could win: The Crown
Should win: Stranger Things
Will win: This Is Us
Should have been nominated: Legion (FX)

this_is_us-jones_brown
DRAMA ACTOR
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Anthony Hopkins, Westworld
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

Could win: Liev Schreiber
Should and will win: Sterling K. Brown
Should have been nominated: Dan Stevens, Legion

handmaids_tale-moss
DRAMA ACTRESS
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Claire Foy, The Crown
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Keri Russell, The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Could win: Claire Foy
Should and will win: Elisabeth Moss
Should have been nominated: Mandy Moore, This Is Us

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2017 Emmy Predictions: Comedy and Variety

veep-season6
COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta (FX)
Black-ish (ABC)
Master of None (Netflix)
Modern Family (ABC)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Veep (HBO)

Could win: Atlanta
Should win: Master of None
Will win: Veep
Should have been nominated: The Good Place (NBC)

transparent3-tambor
COMEDY ACTOR
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Zach Galifianakis, Baskets
Donald Glover, Atlanta
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Could win: Donald Glover
Should win: Aziz Ansari
Will win: Jeffrey Tambor
Should have been nominated: Ted Danson, The Good Place

veep6-louisdreyfus
COMEDY ACTRESS
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie
Allison Janney, Mom
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Could win: Allison Janney
Should win: Pamela Adlon
Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Should have been nominated: Kristen Bell, The Good Place

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What I Watched This Week: 3 Sept 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks
“The Return, Part 17” (A)
“The Return, Part 18” (A-) / limited series finale
“Part 17” is everything you could possibly want from a finale. Then “Part 18” reminds you that this is David Lynch we’re dealing with, and if you thought everything was going to wrap up neatly, you’re an idiot. I’ll still be processing my feelings over this frequently brilliant, occasionally messy revival, but I know I’ll never forget it.

The Sinner – “Part VI” (B-)
Gets much ickier as resolution continues to elude us. Maybe this should have only been six episodes?

BINGEING
Police Squad! (A-)
Aside from the second episode, which tries a little too hard, this is one of the most brilliant things to ever air on network TV. Even at six episodes, there’s more killer jokes here than most sitcoms had in their entire run.

OLD SHOWS
CSI – “Grave Danger” (A)
The only episode of TV ever directed by Quentin Tarantino, and it definitely elevates this procedural, with extra attention to detail and a playfulness the show (at least as I remembered it) didn’t always have.

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What I Watched This Week: 27 Aug 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 16” (A)
“I am the FBI.” Coop is back, and thus I was cheering. The terrible Audrey scenes make a bit more sense now, given that she’s been somewhere else this whole time. And Diane is apparently not the real Diane. Will we find out what really happened? Next week we’ll have our answers.

The Sinner – “Part V” (B+)
Seemed to rip off The Night Of and True Detective more than usual, but the addition of the state investigator is an interesting wrinkle. The big takeaway is that lots of people are good at manipulating Cora.

BINGEING
The Tick – Season 1, Part 1 (A- average)
A much deeper show than its silly but essential forbearers. This is smartly absurd writing. Much like Legion, the only other superhero show I’ve invested in, it’s more interested in characters’ mental health than their superpowers. And that makes it all the better. That being said, I hope Part 2 shows up soon, because this is definitely only half a season.

The Good Place – Season 1 (A average)
I appreciate it even more upon this rewatch. It’s just so well-calibrated and sweet and hilarious and thoughtful. And the acting is just phenomenal, especially Ted Danson and D’Arcy Carden.

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Netflix Picks: September 2017

BEST BET – FILM
Carol – 9/20
One of the best films of 2015 was this romance that got six Oscar nominations, which still wasn’t enough. Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, this is an LGBT drama with real power, as well as incredible performances, perfect costume and production design and sumptuous cinematography.

BEST BET – TV
American Vandal (Season 1) – 9/15
Netflix bites its own tail with this parody of its breakout documentary series Making a Murder. Only instead of being framed for murder, this white kid is set up for spray painting dicks all over town.

BEST BET – COMEDY
Jerry Before Seinfeld – 9/19
The legendary comic gives a peak into his creative process, as well as a lot of new jokes.

NETFLIX ORIGINALS
LEGO Elves: Secrets of Elvendale (Season 1) – 9/1
Little Evil – 9/1
Narcos (Season 3) – 9/1
Resurface – 9/1
Marc Maron: Too Real – 9/5
#realityhigh – 9/8
BoJack Horseman (Season 4) – 9/8
Fabrizio Copano: Solo Pienso En Mi – 9/8
Greenhouse Academy (Season 1) – 9/8
Joaquín Reyes: Una y no más – 9/8
Spirit: Riding Free (Season 2) – 9/8
The Confession Tapes (Season 1) – 9/8
Jeff Dunham: Relative Disaster – 9/12
First They Killed My Father – 9/15
Project mc2 (Part 5) – 9/15
Strong Island – 9/15
VeggieTales in the City (Season 2) – 9/15
Fuller House (Season 2, Part 2) – 9/22
Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (Season 1) – 9/22
Terrace House: Aloha State (Part 4) – 9/26
Big Mouth (Season 1) – 9/29
Club de Cuervos (Season 3) – 9/29
Gerald’s Game – 9/29
Real Rob (Season 2) – 9/29
Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip (Season 1) – 9/29
Our Souls at Night – 9/29
The Magic School Bus Rides Again (Season 1) – 9/29

CATALOG SHOWS
The Blacklist (Season 4) – 9/7
The Walking Dead (Season 7) – 9/8
Portlandia (Season 7) – 9/9
Offspring (Season 7) – 9/13
Gotham (Season 3) – 9/21
Dark Matter (Season 3) – 9/25
Murder Maps (Season 3) – 9/30

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