What I Watched This Week: 2 Oct 2016

Poldark – “Episode 1” (B) / season premiere
Watched this with my wife and in-laws. While it’s not exactly my cup of tea, it’s extremely well-executed. The wife really liked this one, but I imagine it will get lost in the shuffle.

The Mindy Project – “Decision 2016” (B+) / season premiere
I was prepared to be frustrated by this season, as trailers seem to be hinting at yet another love interest for Mindy. But her decision to turn down both Danny and Jody feels right for the character. It’s at least executed in such a way that works and doesn’t feel like a cop-out. And Jody suddenly turning into a petty child after playing the gentleman for so long works even better.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Coral Palms, Part 3” (A-)
Though I didn’t particularly care for the Terry vs. Boyle dad-off, this was a fantastic, hilarious wrap-up to this witness protection arc. Eric Roberts was the perfect casting choice to play Figgis, and Holt stitching himself up while Jake looked off in horror was the perfect distillation of Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg’s incredible chemistry. “Let the Nicholas Sparks fly!”

Designated Survivor – “The First Day” (B+)
Even though some scenes really just feel like placeholders regurgitating plotlines from the pilot (“I’m the bad guy, remember!” or “Listen! I don’t think we know who’s responsible for the bombing yet!”), the show is starting to develop a rhythm. Kiefer Sutherland is aces in this role, even though we’re all just waiting for him to go badass on us. I particularly liked this week’s fire to put out: the governor of Michigan is indiscriminately rounding up Muslim citizens out of fear and refuses the President’s order to have the police stand down. “Glasses” gets out of it in a clever way, showing his gumption that wraps up that story without it getting too preachy or cartoonish along the way. I’m anticipating being frustrated with this show for being stupid (which seems unavoidable on a network drama) but for now it’s working.

“Episode 3” (B+)
“Episode 4” (A)
“Episode 5” (A)
“Episode 6” (A-)
The fourth and fifth episodes is the series at its peak. The finale is devastating if, like the premiere, is a bit overstuffed. Still, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is still a distinct, wonderful voice and its hers that shines throughout the show. This is such a beautiful journey that I would be happy if a second series is commissioned or if this is the end of the story. Not many shows you can say that about.

Saturday Night Live – “Margot Robbie/The Weeknd” (B)
Its first 30 minutes are the strongest, with the debate parody and a genius news report gone awry (even without good ol’ Herb Welch). The rest is hit-or-miss as usual and Robbie is used fairly well.

The Simpsons (Season 20) – “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words” (B+)
A standout latter-day episode, even if treads well-worn tense Homer-Lisa moments. There’s a fourth-wall breaking non-sequitur/segue about a “San Francisco people mover” that absolutely slayed me.

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