What I Watched This Week: 23 Sep 2018

This Is Us – “Ave Maria” (B+) / season premiere
It’s not a good sign that I’m already a little frustrated with Kate, but this excellent season premiere reminds me why I love this show so much. And instead of giving Justin Hartley material he’s not capable of handling, he gets a forbidden love affair, which is much more that actor’s speed.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “Time’s Up for the Gang” (A-)
Possibly the absolute worst week for this particular show to do an episode on sexual harassment and assault. There were a million ways it could have gone wrong, but like last season’s episode about race, it’s a lot sharper than you’d normally give this show credit for. It also focuses on what makes this show such a profane treasure: everyone in the gang, even when they think they’re not, is a truly terrible person.

The Good Place – “Everything Is Bonzer!” (A-) / season premiere
Even back on Earth, the show is still committed to puns, humanity and finding out why it’s so hard to be a good person. It’s another reset episode, but one that adds a new wrinkle: the deliciously awful presence of Adam Scott as Trevor.

Forever (B+ average)
When it knows what it’s doing, it’s up there with the best shows of the year. Unfortunately, even for a show with an eight-episode run, there was a lot of filler. Two of its episodes (the opener and “Andre and Sarah”) are magnificent half-hours for wildly different reasons. But unfortunately, a show about getting out of aimlessness and routine finds itself trapped in there for a mid-season lull. I don’t know if there will be more, but if there will be, it needs more focus.

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What I Watched This Week: 16 Sep 2018

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot” (B+)
No mere retread, this is one of the show’s smartest dumb episodes, commenting on everything from the very nature of all-lady reboots, to profiting off the #resistance, to internalized misogyny. But it’s also funnier and grosser than the original episode.

Black Mirror (Season 4) – “USS Callister” (A-)
An surprisingly sharp takedown of toxic masculinity and how it can hide under the appearance of “nice guys.” But it’s still filled with a ton of Easter eggs for fans of Star Trek. But the real revelation (and casting coup) is Jesse Plemons, who’s spent his career playing genuine nice guys, as the seemingly sweet-but-quiet CTO hiding a disturbing secret in his virtual life.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 10) – “The Gang Beats Boggs” (B)
Not quite as legendary as its reputation suggests, but it’s a clever episode that gets them out of Paddy’s. Mac should play the straight man more often.

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2018 Emmy Predictions: Limited

The Alienist (TNT)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
Genius: Picasso (National Geographic)
Godless (Netflix)
Patrick Melrose (Showtime)

Could win: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Should and will win: Godless
Should have been nominated: Twin Peaks (Showtime)

Benedict Cumberbatch in Patrick Melrose
Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso
Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower
John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Jesse Plemons, Black Mirror

Could win: John Legend
Should win: Jesse Plemons
Will win: Benedict Cumberbatch
Should have been nominated: Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks

Laura Dern and Isabelle Nélisse in The Tale
Jessica Biel, The Sinner
Laura Dern, The Tale
Michelle Dockery, Godless
Edie Falco, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Regina King, Seven Seconds
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Cult

Could win: Regina King
Should win: Jessica Biel
Will win: Laura Dern
Should have been nominated: Carey Mulligan, Collateral

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What I Watched This Week: 9 Sep 2018

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Gang Escapes” (B-)
Some funny moments, but Dee’s side-quest is almost too disturbing to glean any humor out of it.

The Good Place – Season 2 (A average)
My rewatch confirms that this is the best comedy on television, uproarious with its jokes but insightful with its philosophy, and honest about how hard it is to be a good person in a world that rarely rewards good behavior and rarely punishes bad behavior.

Season 1 (B+ average)
This is the thrilling, pulpy show I’ve been wanting for a long time. It’s got the prestige budget but without a lot of the prestige trappings. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are terrific, subtly tweaking the images they’ve (intentionally or not) honed over the last 15 years. It’s not perfect, but it’s never less than gripping.

Season 2 (B+ average)
More of the same, with a lot of major twists or character deaths to end each episode of the home stretch. Laura Linney emerges as the victor of the season, giving a great performance as she morphs into the leader of the entire criminal enterprise. There’s also great supporting work from Janet McTeer as the cartel lawyer.

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2018 Emmy Predictions: Drama

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale
The Americans (FX)
The Crown (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld (HBO)

Could win: Game of Thrones
Should win: The Americans
Will win: The Handmaid’s Tale
Should have been nominated: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Milo Ventimiglia in This Is Us
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Ed Harris, Westworld
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Could win: Sterling K. Brown
Should win: Matthew Rhys
Will win: Milo Ventimiglia
Should have been nominated: Dan Stevens, Legion

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale
Claire Foy, The Crown
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Keri Russell, The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

Could win: Sandra Oh
Should win: Keri Russell
Will win: Elisabeth Moss
Should have been nominated: Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

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2018 Emmy Predictions: Comedy and Variety

LaKeith Stanfield, Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta
Atlanta (FX)
Barry (HBO)
Black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
GLOW (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Could win: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Should win: Barry
Will win: Atlanta
Should have been nominated: The Good Place (NBC)

Donald Glover as Teddy Perkins in Atlanta
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Bill Hader, Barry
Donald Glover, Atlanta
William H. Macy, Shameless

Could win: Ted Danson
Should win: Bill Hader
Will win: Donald Glover
Should have been nominated: Pete Holmes, Crashing

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Could win: Tracee Ellis Ross
Should win: Lily Tomlin
Will win: Rachel Brosnahan
Should have been nominated: Kristen Bell, The Good Place

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Things I Wrote: Summer 2018

I continue to be terrible about consistently posting about my published work. Here’s what I wrote this summer.

Adrift (College Movie Review)
Ocean’s 8 (College Movie Review)
Tag (College Movie Review)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (College Movie Review)
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (College Movie Review)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Central Track)
Sorry to Bother You (College Movie Review)
Skyscraper (Central Track)
Whitney (College Movie Review)
The Equalizer 2 (College Movie Review)
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (College Movie Review)
The Meg (College Movie Review)
40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie (College Movie Review)

LISTS (for College Movie Review)
Every Peter Berg Film, Ranked Worst to Best

ARTICLES (for Central Track)
Coming Attractions (June)
Coming Attractions (July)
Coming Attractions (August)

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What I Watched This Week: 2 Sep 2018

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Gang Makes Paddy’s Great Again” (B+) / season premiere
A rare occasion when I wish the episode had more plot than it actually does, this is another self-referential reboot, like Season 8’s “The Gang Recycles Their Trash.” Mindy Kaling made a great foil, and I hope she shows up again, but Dennis’ spectacular re-appearance was perfect.

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Streaming Picks: September 2018

Top Picks
Adaptation – Hulu 9/1
Chinatown – Prime 9/1
Hold the Dark – Netflix 9/28
The first two are great films that got nominated for quite a few Oscars in their day. The former contains the best performance Nicolas Cage has given this century, along with a wild turn from Meryl Streep and an award-winning performance from Chris Cooper. The latter is Roman Polanski’s noir masterpiece that’s one of the best L.A. movies of all time.

Hold the Dark is the latest work from Jeremy Saulnier, whose previous efforts – Blue Ruin and Green Room – are twisted low-budget gems. This is first time playing with Netflix money, which means he won’t have to compromise to get a bigger budget.

Recent Selections
Future World – Prime 9/2
Flower – Hulu 9/3
The Miracle Season – Hulu 9/3
Beirut – Prime 9/4
Black Panther – Netflix 9/4
Crescent – Prime 9/4
Daphne & Velma – Hulu 9/4
Monochrome – Hulu 9/4
The Strangers: Prey at Night – Prime 9/4
Women and Sometimes Men – Hulu 9/4
Pistorius – Prime 9/6
Stronger – Prime and Hulu 9/8
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami – Hulu 9/10
Bodysnatch – Hulu 9/11
Natural Vice – Hulu 9/11
Higher Power – Hulu 9/13
High Fantasy – Prime 9/14
The Housemaid – Hulu 9/14
Alien Invasion: SUM1 – Hulu 9/15
On Chesil Beach – Prime 9/15
B.B. King: On the Road – Hulu 9/20
Boom for Real – Hulu 9/20
Sacrifice – Hulu 9/20
This Is Home: A Refugee Story – Prime and Hulu 9/20
My Little Pony – Prime and Hulu 9/21
Love After Love – Hulu 9/22
Hot Summer Nights – Prime 9/22
Gemini – Hulu 9/24
Afterlife – Hulu 9/25
A Wrinkle in Time – Netflix 9/25
The Hurricane Heist – Netflix 9/26
Escape Plan 2 – Prime 9/27
Hannah – Prime 9/28
Plonger – Prime 9/28
Suburbicon – Prime and Hulu 9/28
Jigsaw – Prime 9/29

La Catedral del Mar – Netflix 9/1
Monkey Twins – Netflix 9/1
Sisters – Netflix 9/1
City of Joy – Netflix 9/7
The Most Assassinated Woman in the World – Netflix 9/7
Next Gen – Netflix 9/7
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser – Netflix 9/7
Life – Netflix 9/12
On My Skin – Netflix 9/12
Bleach – Netflix 9/14
The Land of Steady Habits – Netflix 9/14
Last Hope – Netflix 9/14
Quincy – Netflix 9/18
Dragon Pilot: Hisone & Masotan – Netflix 9/21
Nappily Ever After – Netflix 9/21
The 3rd Eye – Netflix 9/28
Forest of Piano – Netflix 9/28
Lessons from a School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane – Netflix 9/28
Lost Song – Netflix 9/28
Two Catalonias – Netflix 9/28
King Lear – Prime TBD

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What I Watched This Week: 26 Aug 2018

Sharp Objects – “Milk” (A) / series finale
A devastating finale that ratchets up the tension, allows it to quiet down, then pulls the rug out from under you. Patricia Clarkson is almost guaranteed an Emmy for this next year, but it should really be Eliza Scanlon as Amma, who hides the darkest of secrets.

Who Is America? – “107” (A-) / series finale
Sacha Baron Cohen did save the best for last, featuring an Antifa infiltration that hinges on Girls trivia, and the incredible O.J. interview that was worth this whole insane endeavor. This is probably the end, and that’s probably for the best given how uneven the series was. But it was an interesting experiment.

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