The Staircase (A- average)
During this mostly excellent limited series, I was reminded of Barbet Schroeder’s Reversal of Fortune, another true crime story in which the defendant is such a duplicitous snake that it’s mostly clear that he isn’t responsible for his wife’s death, but it’s not hard to see why so many people thought it was possible. This is definitely Colin Firth’s best role to date, playing a man whose charm has gotten him out of any uncomfortable situation. But this time, the house of cards that is his life can’t hold up anymore. Toni Collette – as the victim – is also tremendous, especially when she’s not doing a trademarked Toni Collette Freakout. Surprisingly, they got the show’s only Emmy nominations. But Antonio Campos’s direction and the performances of Michael Stuhlbarg and Parker Posey also deserved some love.
Seinfeld – Season 9 (B+ average)
It’s clear they ran out of steam in the last few episodes, including the deservedly maligned “The Puerto Rican Day.” The finale is a different beast. The courtroom stuff in “Part II” still amuses me greatly, but “Part I” is a drag. The pre-finale clip show remains the gold standard for this type of thing.