NEW SHOWS & SPECIALS
Too Funny to Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Dana Carvey Show (B+)
Funny and insightful, though probably would have been a smidgen better had Louis C.K. participated in this.
The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXVIII” (B+)
The most consistent Halloween special in years, with some of the best animation the show has ever had. The final segment is also the most disturbing thing they’ve ever come up with, even more so than that vomiting frog in the 12th installment.
Curb Your Enthusiasm – “Running with the Bulls” (B)
Larry’s problems seem a little too ridiculous in this episode, but the laughs are still there.
The Mindy Project – “Girl Gone Wild” (A-)
Might be the strongest episode of the season. Annoyed by everyone in her life being coupled up, she takes her would-be honeymoon as a voyage of self-discovery. When she runs into an old flame, thankfully she gives him good advice instead of trying to hook up with him. It’s a sign of Mindy’s (and the show’s) maturity. Of course, there’s still a cameo from Reese Witherspoon as herself, as an apparition, helping Mindy free herself from her selfishness and her 127 Hours-style predicament.
This Is Us – “Brothers” (B)
Would be the strongest episode of the season thus far were the show not back on its bullshit about Kevin’s pill addiction, which has slid into full-blown alcoholism somehow. Justin Hartley’s skill is his charm. And yes, there’s some depth you can add about how that’s a cover for his insecurity. But my god, he simply is not a strong enough actor to make this not feel phony.
The Good Place – “Janet and Michael” (A)
The sweetest episode the show has ever done. This bottle episode manages to still be visually inventive, giving the four humans minimal screen time so the show can explore the surprisingly complex emotions between a demon and an android(?) that works because of the excellent writing and the knockout performances from Ted Danson and D’Arcy Carden. And the show still found a new wrinkle to throw the show into chaos.
American Vandal – Season 1 (A-)
A genius mockery/homage to the true crime docs and podcasts that became sensations. It’s surprisingly well-acted and brilliantly constructed. The joke should have gotten tedious by Episode 2, but it kept finding ways to expand its conspiracy, with more twists and turns every time. Certain to make my top 10 of the year.