What I Watched This Week: 6 Aug 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 13” (A-)
Only one bad Audrey scene, and the rest is great. Who knew Tom Sizemore had it in him?

Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Summer Edition – “August 10, 2017” (B+)
Can this just be the format for SNL going forward? Some killer impersonations, a Cosby burn and Leslie Jones telling a necrophilia joke, and it’s over in 30 minutes. Bada-bing, bada-boom, that’s the Mooch!

The Sinner – “Part II” (B+)
A hell of a lot of twists to throw into episode 2, but we’ve got Mare Winningham, dammit.

BINGEING
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (B+)
In some ways better than First Day of Camp, in part because I knew to expect it to be hit or miss. This thing really should have been six episodes (or 7 at the most, because that 8th episode contains a lot of filler). There were a lot of hits, a lot of misses, and Ronald Reagan demanding that George H.W. Bush “shit on [his] shit,” but the soundtrack cues were perfect.

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What I Watched This Week: 30 July 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 12” (B)
Audrey Horne finally returns and… honestly, it’s the first outright bad scene in the whole mini-series thus far. And it goes on forever! But the rest is the same top-notch stuff we’ve come to expect.

The Sinner – “Part 1” (B) / series premiere
Interesting enough to keep me coming back for at least another episode. Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman are quite good in their roles, but this can’t help but feel like JV True Detective/The Night Of.

CURRENT SHOWS & SPECIALS
Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog (B+)
Typical Norm, which means lots of rabbit trails. But when he hits it, it’s perfect.

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Netflix Picks: August 2017

I inadvertently skipped July because your brain forgets things when you move across the country. So here are the picks for August, which is surprisingly lean.

BEST BET – FILM
Cloud Atlas – 8/1
Though its cult is very enthusiastic, too few people know about Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis incredible, controversial, life-affirming masterpiece that spans centuries, countries, races and genders. Don’t read anything about it. Just watch it and be overcome.

BEST BET – TV
The Good Place (Season 1) – 8/29
I banged the drum on this show – about a not-so-great woman who dies and finds herself in Heaven – loudly last fall, and you better believe I’ll be doing a rewatch once this hits Netflix.

BEST BET – COMEDY
Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo – 8/15
Do I have any idea what this is? Not even close. But when Netflix has given other stars their own wacky specials, it’s mostly worked.

NETFLIX ORIGINALS
Maz Jobrani: Immigrant – 8/1
Surviving Escobar: Alias J.J. (Season 1) – 8/1
Icarus – 8/4
Voltron: Legendary Defender (Season 3) – 8/4
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later – 8/4
Atypical (Season 1) – 8/11
Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh (Season 3) – 8/11
Naked – 8/11
True and the Rainbow Kingdom (Season 1) – 8/11
White Gold – 8/11
The Defenders (Season 1) – 8/18
Dinotrux (Season 5) – 8/18
Glitter Force Doki Doki (Season 1) – 8/18
What Happened to Monday – 8/18
Lynne Koplitz: Hormonal Beast – 8/22
Disjointed (Part 1) – 8/25
Dragons: Race to the Edge (Season 5) – 8/25
Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face – 8/29

CATALOG SHOWS
The Hollywood Masters (Season 1) – 8/1
The Royal House of Windsor (Season 1) – 8/1
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (Season 7, Part 1) – 8/8
Murderous Affair (Season 1) – 8/15
Once upon a Time (Season 6) – 8/25

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What I Watched This Week: 23 July 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 11” (A)
Arguably the best episode so far, if you’re like me and have been looking for a balance between Dougie and catching up with everyone else in Twin Peaks. I didn’t know I’d be so invested in Bobby or find Jim Belushi so terrific. Hopefully this accelerates us through the back half of the season.

CURRENT SHOWS & SPECIALS
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide (A+)
The rare comedy special that both hilarious and genuinely moving. Chris Gerhard’s one-man show about his struggles with depression and suicide attempts should be shown in every school in America.

Oh, Hello on Broadway (A)
Jam-packed with jokes about everything from theatre to tuna to Steely Dan to the Holocaust, and the audience only got offended at a joke that implied a dog might get eaten. This Broadway show is certainly an acquired taste, but I was in stitches almost the entire time.

Tour de Pharmacy (B+)
Exceedingly silly, but I’m so glad there’s a place for something this dumb and specific in the world. The Lance Armstrong bits don’t rub me the wrong way like they did for other people, mostly because I like the nature of the joke. But God bless whoever picked out Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Dolph Lundgren and Julia Ormond for the older versions of Andy Samberg, Daveed Diggs, John Cena and Freddie Highmore, respectively.

BINGEING
Five Came Back (A)
A truly impressive documentary series that every serious cinephile or history buff should watch at least once.

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What I Watched This Week: 16 July 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks
“The Return, Part 9” (A-)
“The Return, Part 10” (B+)
Both of these episodes are much more plot-heavy than anything else we’ve seen so far, which is great for me, especially after the mostly wordless eighth episode. Honestly, the ninth episode, even if it may not be the best episode yet, is honestly what I had been waiting for all summer. It moved the plot forward while still having enough time for Lynch’s own idiosyncratic interludes.

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What I Watched This Week: 2 July 2017

CURRENT SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 8” (A-)
I won’t even begin to say that I understood any of it, but I was mesmerized, which might just be the point.

BINGEING
Big Little Lies (A- average)
The most scathing indictment of suburban life since Gone Girl. The cast is incredible from top to bottom, especially Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. That’s gonna be a hell of an Emmy race.

Documentary Now! – Season 2 (A- average)
In some ways not as good as Season 1, but the highs were higher, and didn’t have an episode as meh as “A Town, a Gangster, a Festival.”

Grace and Frankie – Season 3 (B+ average)
Fairly lame in its early episodes, but grows into something unexpectedly moving, with a lot of characters refusing to look back on their lives with regret.

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What I Watched This Week: 25 June 2017

NEW SHOWS
Veep – “Groundbreaking” (B+) / season finale
The first time the show has incorporated flashbacks, and they’re pretty effective, including a non-awful Jonah Ryan. It draws a clear line to show that Selina was always craven, which makes her real tears after her break-up with Jafar a little hard to buy. Still, this was another strong season, even if like the show below, it might be time to move on.

Silicon Valley – “Server Error” (B-) / season finale
This season wasn’t bad exactly, but it felt repetitive in a way the other seasons hadn’t. Erlich’s exit was in line with his character, but extremely unceremonious. Richard’s eroding sense of ethics felt tired and the final scene felt like another reset. I might not be back for next season.

BINGEING
Orange Is the New Black – Season 5 (A average)
I hope to go longer on this next week – and perhaps on a real site! – but this season was something truly special, exploring when and how to extend forgiveness.

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What I Watched This Week: 18 June 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 7” (B+)
The most straightforward the show has been thus far, but no less intriguing. Laura Dern as Diane more than earns her fabulous entrance last week, and MacLachlan continues to give the performance(s) of the year.

Veep – “A Woman First” (B+)
A random subplot ends up wreaking havoc on everyone in this episode. Selina is at her worst, using Catherine’s pregnancy as an excuse to get out of a potentially awkward interview, then ignoring her when she has actual complications. But Kent in full-on ABA gear might be the visual gag of the year.

Silicon Valley – “Hooli-Con” (A-)
The show’s reliance on irony pays off hugely here, when Richard’s recklessness and selfishness nearly derails the company, yet they’re saved by corporate pettiness.

BINGEING
House of Cards – Season 5 (B-)
Had a chance to take on a lot of relevant issues – voter suppression, Russian interference, the President’s family having too much power – and decides to piss it away in the most unrealistic manner possible, because this show had to paint itself into a corner and then fight its way out with an episode that featured the most WTF moments outside of a typical Ryan Murphy show. Yet there were multiple moments – including when a character is killed by accidentally ingesting essential oils – that I realized it almost doesn’t matter, because I will watch this absurd show to the very end.

Master of None – Season 2 (A)
A truly masterful season of television, hilarious and heartbreaking. It’s even better than the first, which I didn’t think was possible. Even in its more conventional moments, the show found new ways to tell those stories, always on its own melancholy wavelength. I don’t know if I’ll see a better show in the rest of 2017.

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What I Watched This Week: 11 June 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 6” (B+)
Poor innocent Dougie may end up being the year’s best character. We spend almost the entire episode here, and Naomi Watts gets an acting showcase, while Laura Dern gets an entrance for the ages.

Veep – “Judge” (A-)
Nearly a classic, with a bevy of jokes about southerners that never stops being funny. Still, I wish a little more had come of Gary’s rift with Selina, because that is a toxic relationship that could use some shaking up.

Silicon Valley – “The Keenan Vortex” (B+)
Haley Joel Osment is fantastic as the Silicon Valley hotshot who screws over everyone in the house during a days-long game of oneupmanship and counter-offers. Too bad the show is never quite on the level this disruptor can handle.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Night” (A) / season finale
A harrowing episode, and certainly the strongest of the back half of the season. This show was occasionally frustrating, especially the subplot in the last couple of episodes, but it all came together powerfully, with no telling of where it will go in Season 2.

BINGEING
The West Wing – Season 7 (B+)
A slight improvement over Season 6, but continued to delve into the minutiae of campaigns and voters’ occasionally insane demands of candidates. Leo’s (and John Spencer’s death) cast a pall over the whole season, but it ended beautifully, even if those last few episodes seemed to just mark time.

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What I Watched This Week: 4 June 2017

NEW SHOWS
Twin Peaks – “The Return, Part 5” (A-)
Dale Cooper’s turn as Dougie feels a bit tragic, even though he avoided a much bigger tragedy back at the Rancho Rosa estates. I’m sure the little drips of info – like Shelly’s coked-up daughter – will eventually pay off, but, um, why haven’t we seen Matthew Lillard since the first episode?

Silicon Valley – “The Patent Troll” (B)
Another plot-heavy, tech-heavy episode that ends in ironic, pyrrhic victory. So, just another average episode of this show. But Ehrlich thinking Steph Curry is a woman is hilarious and in-character for him.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “The Bridge” (B)
Not particularly fond of the Jezebels storyline, and Moira’s cynicism is almost too much to handle. But the show always knows how to close powerfully, and Elizabeth Moss has the most expressive face on TV, so it’s hard not to also light up when she gets that unexpected package.

BINGEING
The West Wing – Season 6 (B+)
The least effective season thus far, but it’s hard to argue with dynamic candidates and guest stars like the ones that will be the nominees in Season 7.

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