What I Watched This Week: 3 Oct 2021

NEW SHOWS
Ted Lasso – “Inventing the Pyramid of Success” (A-) / season finale
After a season that occasionally meandered, it ends on a mostly hopeful note. There were some things that still didn’t work about this season as a whole, but this was a very satisfying wrap-up with lots of great moments, including Dani’s penalty kick, Sam Richardson throwing one of the all-time great TV tantrums, and Roy’s induction into the Diamond Dogs.

BINGEING
Seinfeld – Season 1 (B+ average) 
For obvious reasons, it’s the least-watched and least-revisited season. But it’s still amazing how quickly the show found its rhythm, eventually becoming one of the greatest things ever broadcast.

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What I Watched This Week: 26 Sep 2021

NEW SHOWS
What We Do in the Shadows – “The Escape” (A-)
This episode has it all: cocky Guillermo, sassy gargoyles and impeccable stunt work. (And also, hopefully, a set-up for a spin-off.)

Ted Lasso – “Midnight Train to Royston” (B)
Scene to scene, it’s wonderful. But as a whole, it feels overstuffed, and some plots feel like unnecessary tension tossed in to add more stakes to next week’s finale.

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Streaming Picks: October 2021

FILMS
Top Picks
Clifford – Hulu 10/1
Raising Arizona – Prime 10/1
Black Widow – Disney+ 10/6
In the Heights – HBO Max 10/28
No, that first pick isn’t Clifford the Big Red Dog. That’s( slated to hit theaters and Paramount+ in November.) This is the cult classic starring Martin Short as a 10-year-old boy (yes, really), who relentlessly tortures his uncle (Charles Grodin) after breaking a promise to him. It’s pretty insane, especially for a PG-rated film, but it provides a lot of laughs, provided you’re on its wavelength.

It’s almost impossible to pick one, but if you ask me today, I’d say Raising Arizona is still my favorite Coen Brothers movie. All of their touchstones – schmucks pulling a scheme, absurd characters, gorgeous cinematography – are present here, in just their second film. It’s might be a top 5 comedy for me, too.

And if you missed your chance to see Black Widow or In the Heights when they were in theaters or previously on the service ($30 for the former, and free for the latter), you can now watch them in perpetuity, or at least until rights issues cause them to leave again.

Recent Selections
Culpa – HBO Max 10/1
Downhill – HBO Max 10/1
Emma. – HBO Max 10/1
Entre Nos: The Winners 2 – HBO Max 10/1
Entre Nos: What She Said – HBO Max 10/1
Just Mercy – HBO Max 10/1
LEGO DC Shazam: Magic and Monsters! – HBO Max 10/1
Macho: The Hector Camacho Story – Prime 10/1
Never Rarely Sometimes Always – HBO Max 10/1
The Quarry – HBO Max 10/1
Raul Julia: The World’s a Stage – Prime 10/1
Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape – HBO Max 10/1
Strange but True – HBO Max 10/1
Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans – HBO Max 10/1
Wendy – HBO Max 10/1
Simmer – HBO Max 10/3
Sublet – HBO Max 10/3
El Verano Que Vivimos – HBO Max 10/5
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things – Netflix 10/6
Cannabis Evolution – Hulu 10/8
Lansky – Prime 10/8
LOL Surprise: The Movie – Netflix 10/8
Voyagers – HBO Max 10/8
Rogue Hostage – Hulu 10/10
It: Chapter Two – HBO Max 10/10
Gunda – Hulu 10/11
Madonna and the Breakfast Club – Hulu 10/11
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It – Netflix 10/12
Violet Evergarden: The Movie – Netflix 10/13
Censor – Hulu 10/14
Out of Death – Hulu 10/14
Akilla’s Escape – Prime 10/15
Cheer Camp Killer – Hulu 10/15
A Murder to Remember – Hulu 10/15
Tu Me Manques – HBO Max 10/15
Dream Horse – Hulu 10/18
Women Is Losers – HBO Max 10/18
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – HBO Max 10/21
The Evil Next Door – Hulu 10/21
Gaia – Hulu 10/22
The Marksman – Hulu 10/23
Silent Night – Hulu 10/23
Come Away – Hulu 10/25
Maybe Next Year – Hulu 10/26
For Madmen Only – Hulu 10/27
First Date – Hulu 10/28
Spirit Untamed – Hulu 10/31

Originals
Bingo Hell – Prime 10/1
Black as Night – Prime 10/1
Diana: The Musical – Netflix 10/1
Forever Rich – Netflix 10/1
The Guilty – Netflix 10/1
The Many Saints of Newark – HBO Max 10/1
My Name Is Pauli Murray – Prime 10/1
Swallow – Netflix 10/1
Upcoming Summer – Netflix 10/3
Escape the Undertaker – Netflix 10/5
There’s Someone Inside Your House – Netflix 10/6
Grudge/Kin – Netflix 10/8
Jacinta – Hulu 10/8
Justin Bieber: Our World – Prime 10/8
Madres – Prime 10/8
The Manor – Prime 10/8
My Brother, My Sister – Netflix 10/8
Fever Dream – Netflix 10/13
Hiacynt – Netflix 10/13
One Night in Paris – Netflix 10/14
The Forgotten Battle – Netflix 10/15
The Four of Us – Netflix 10/15
Karma’s World – Netflix 10/15
The Trip – Netflix 10/15
In for a Murder – Netflix 10/19
Night Teeth – Netflix 10/20
Stuck Together – Netflix 10/20
Dune – HBO Max 10/22
Little Big Mouth – Netflix 10/22
Hypnotic – Netflix 10/27
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight, Part 2 – Netflix 10/27
Army of Thieves – Netflix 10/29
Dear Mother – Netflix 10/29

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Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – September 2021

BEST PICTURE
Belfast
CODA
Don’t Look Up
House of Gucci
The Humans
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth

The skinny: The Academy finally did the right thing and pushed the number of nominees in this category back to an even 10. Even with a shortened eligibility window (just March to December this year), there are a lot of studios seeking to make up for lost time. Even so, almost all of these will crowd up the last two months of the year. Belfast is the default front runner, since it just won People’s Choice at Toronto, but there’s a lot of race left to go.

BEST DIRECTOR
Leos Carax, Annette
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

The skinny: While Annette is divisive and unlikely to be nominated for anything except Original Song, Carax is the front-runner for that “respected international director whose movie wasn’t as warmly received by the Academy at large” slot. Though if The Hero keeps getting the kind of rapturous praise that greeted A Separation and The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi could easily take it.

BEST ACTOR
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Adam Driver, House of Gucci
Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick Boom
Will Smith, King Richard
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

The skinny: All of these guys have previously been nominated, but only Denzel has won. Only he and Smith are locks at this point, but this feels pretty comfortable given how it’s a typically “weak” year for the kinds of turns the Academy goes for.

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Lady Gaga, House of Gucci
Jennifer Hudson, Respect
Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Kristen Stewart, Spencer

The skinny: Are we clearing out for another take on a real-life person or for Frances McDormand to somehow win her fourth Oscar? It all comes down to the campaigns.

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What I Watched This Week: 19 Sep 2021

NEW SHOWS
Reservation Dogs – “Satvrday” (A-) / season finale
Slightly more traditional than their past three knockouts, but this was pretty much the perfect finale for this season, and I’m so grateful there will be more to that story.

What We Do in the Shadows – “The Chamber of Judgment” (B+)
Guillermo literally plays a game of thrones, playing Nandor and Nadja off one another. Meanwhile, Colin gets usurped as the No. 1 energy vampire thanks to a MLM pitch. Both storylines are funny, but nowhere near the heights of the last two episodes.

Ted Lasso – “No Weddings and a Funeral” (A)
For an episode that’s all about death, this episode is never a dirge. It’s razor-sharp, ties up a lot of the season together nicely and has a glorious moment of zero cynicism.

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What I Watched This Week: 12 Sep 2021

NEW SHOWS
Reservation Dogs – “California Dreamin’” (A-)
If Bill Burr shows up as a guest star, you know you’re in for a good episode. Mostly taking place about a year before the events of the season premiere, we finally learn what happened to Daniel, and the reveal is devastating. It puts everything into perspective, and explains so much about Elora’s character. This show continues to blow me away.

What We Do in the Shadows – “The Casino” (A)
The funniest episode of the season to date. The crew travels to Atlantic City – complete with depressing new opening credits – for a weekend getaway and end up succumbing to the soul-sucking mundanity of casinos.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “The Last Day” (A) / series finale
Had no idea what they were gonna do for this finale, but I should have suspected it would be one final heist. And it is glorious, earning its runtime and (nearly) every callback. The show stumbled this season, but when it just played the hits and avoided self-awareness, it was just as good as it always was. I’ll miss it, but it was time for it to go.

Ted Lasso – “Beard After Hours” (A)
If any other show wants to take a break mid-season to pay homage to one of Martin Scorsese’s most underrated movies, that’s fine with me.

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Emmy Predictions 2021: Comedy and Variety

COMEDY SERIES
black-ish (ABC)
Cobra Kai (Netflix)
Emily in Paris (Netflix)
The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
Hacks (HBO Max)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
PEN15 (Hulu)
Ted Lasso (AppleTV+)

Will and should win: Ted Lasso
Could win: Hacks
Should have been here: Search Party (HBO Max)

The skinny: Last summer, Ted Lasso was just a show a few people had watched and recommended, and filed away as “I’ll get around to that some day.” Now, it’s a full-blown phenomenon that will sweep every category it’s nominated in. It deserves it, too.

ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Kenan Thompson, Kenan

Will and should win: Jason Sudeikis
Could win: William H. Macy
Should have been here: Glenn Howerton, A.P. Bio

The skinny: The biggest lock on a night full of them.

ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Aidy Bryant, Shrill
Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant
Allison Janney, Mom
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
Jean Smart, Hacks

Will and should win: Jean Smart
Could win: Allison Janney
Should have been here: Alia Shawkat, Search Party

The skinny: While she won more than a decade ago for ABC’s short-lived Samantha Who?, she lost for her stellar turns in Fargo and Watchmen. (Though to two great actresses who had already won multiple times.) But she’s likely to pick up two acting trophies on Emmy night, a rare feat.

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Emmy Predictions 2021: Drama

DRAMA SERIES
The Boys (Prime)
Bridgerton (Netflix)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Lovecraft Country (HBO)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Pose (FX)
This Is Us (NBC)

Will win: The Crown
Could win: The Handmaid’s Tale
Should win: The Boys
Should have been here: Perry Mason (HBO)

The skinny: This is The Crown‘s year, finally. And for their best season, too. I’m still shocked The Boys is even nominated, so I’ll take that as a consolation.

ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Regé-Jean Page, Bridgerton
Billy Porter, Pose
Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

Will and should win: Matthew Rhys
Could win: Billy Porter
Should have been here: Antony Starr, The Boys

The skinny: I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen here. I could see just about anyone besides Sterling K. Brown win. I’ve been feeling Rhys for a long time now, and not just because he’s my favorite of these performances. He won a long-overdue award for The Americans, and his mix of volcanic intensity and quiet brooding carry over to this reboot. But I would skip this category if you’re a betting person.

ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Uzo Aduba, In Treatment
Olivia Colman, The Crown
Emma Corrin, The Crown
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Mj Rodriguez, Pose
Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country

Will and should win: Olivia Colman
Could win: Emma Corrin
Should have been here: Laura Donnelly, The Nevers

The skinny: It’s Colman’s year. Corrin won the Globe, but let’s not kid ourselves.

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Emmy Predictions 2021: Limited/Anthology Series and Movies

LIMITED/ANTHOLOGY SERIES
I May Destroy You (HBO)
Mare of Easttown (HBO)
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
The Underground Railroad (Prime)
WandaVision (Disney+)

Will and should win: Mare of Easttown
Could win: The Queen’s Gambit
Should have been here: Fargo (FX)

The skinny: It’s a coin-flip for which series will steamroll these awards. I’m hedging my bets a bit (as you’ll see later). It felt like Mare of Easttown had all the momentum. It aired more recently, actually grew its viewership, and is generally well-regarded by everyone. But if last week’s Creative Arts Emmys are any indication, The Queen’s Gambit is coming for everything. It’s allegedly the most-watched Netflix show of all time, and features a star-making turn by Anya Taylor-Joy. I’m still going with Mare, but that might just be my preference talking.

ACTOR IN A LIMITED/ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
Paul Bettany, WandaVision
Hugh Grant, The Undoing
Ewan McGregor, Halston
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom Jr, Hamilton

Will win: Leslie Odom, Jr.
Could win: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Should win: Hugh Grant
Should have been here: Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird

The skinny: Here’s where I say for as great as Hamilton is, its time for awards is over. This is literally a filmed performance of the same cast that won a Grammy, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize. They should not be eligible for TV acting awards. But that doesn’t mean it’s not winning some major categories. But if there are enough voters who feel like me, then it’s anyone’s game.

ACTRESS IN A LIMITED/ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You
Cynthia Erivo, Genius: Aretha
Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit
Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Will and should win: Kate Winslet
Could win: Anya Taylor-Joy
Should have been here: N/A

The skinny: This is the closest an Emmy race has maybe ever been? I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a Hepburn/Streisand-esque tie on our hands.

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The List: Top 10 ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Episodes

Everybody Loves Raymond premiered 25 years ago this week. While it didn’t have the most auspicious start, it only grew sharper in later seasons, becoming a top-rated Emmy powerhouse. Each person in the main cast won at least won award (except for the late Peter Boyle, who was robbed), and it’s played in syndication for years. It’s the last great multi-cam sitcom. Though others may claim that – heavy sigh – The Big Bang Theory or Last Man Standing hold that distinction, nothing was quite so good for so long as the saga of the Barones. Below are my 10 favorite episodes, and you may notice quite a few overlapping themes.

10. “Halloween Candy” (Season 3, Episode 6)
For a show as family friendly as this, sex was a frequent topic of discussion. Unlike Married with Children (which was still on the air at the time Raymond debuted) or future knock-offs, sex between husband and wife was never presented as a chore or something to be avoided. In this episode, Debra tasks Ray with being in charge of contraception (“the stuff”). He brings home a colorful variety pack for Halloween, hoping to rush through trick-or-treating to use them. But mistaking them for candy, Frank (as Frankenstein) hands them out to eager kids, creating multiple disasters.

9. “Cookies” (Season 6, Episode 15)
When Ray attempts to help Ally sell her (not quite) Girl Scout Cookies, it ignites a turf war with the leader of the troop (guest star Amy Aquino). While the episodes focusing on the kids weren’t always the best, this one stands above, as the parents devolve into territorial children.

8. “No Fat” (Season 3, Episode 10)
No show was as obsessed with food as this one. So when Marie goes on a health kick just in time for Thanksgiving, everyone is understandably upset about the lack of a traditional feast. The big scene at the dinner table delivers the show’s best physical comedy, as each family member takes turns trying the wobbly vegan “turkey.”

7. “Marie’s Meatballs” (Season 2, Episode 15)
The show was able to mine so much humor out of mundane situations because its characters took those things way too seriously. That gave the show just enough stakes for every episode, but kept things from ever getting dire. (Thank God this show never attempted a “very special episode.”) But few betrayals were as shocking, unexpected and hilarious as this one. After getting some of Marie’s beloved recipes, Debra’s attempts to recreate them go horribly awry. That’s because Marie has secretly sabotaged her culinary efforts, leading to a priceless confrontation.

6. “Marie’s Sculpture” (Season 6, Episode 5)
I still can’t believe they got away with this one. While there’s an outdated joke or two, this is one of the most uproarious half-hours. Marie unveils the artwork she’s been toiling away at for months. And while it’s undoubtedly good work, its appearance is a little, well, you know. While Frank fixates on it, the rest of the family looks for a way to get rid of it, all while hoping not to avoid the artist’s feelings.

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