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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

Tag » Season Premiere

Mad Men – “A Little Kiss”

“Well, well, well. There’s my baby. Move that brat out of the way so I can see her.”

Megan and Don share a smile after she performs "Zou Bisou Bisou"

"You're going to get it later."

Maybe it was the artifact of this show that I created in its absence. Maybe it’s the pacing of my other favorite shows going full seasons in the vacuum of this one. Maybe I should’ve watched the fourth season leading up to the fifth season premiere.

But something felt — off.

Mad Men returned with a two hour premiere and I hoped that by the end of the episode I could say, “Yeah! Mad Men. Is. Back!” About half-way through, though, I wasn’t sure if this was what left me a year and a half ago. I felt slightly lost in time, characters weren’t acting like I expected them to, and the episode overall felt slower than usual. And slower for Mad Men is like going from a passeggiata with your grandparents to being a pallbearer. With a limp. Following other grandparents. Who have rickets.

But it was nice to see the band back together again. Don is still withholding. Roger is still snarky. Pete still has a bitchface. And Lane is still toeing that line between gentleman and pervert. So let’s get into this. Finally: season five is here.

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House of Lies – “Gods of Dangerous Financial”

I would rather work at Arby’s.

I would say I have a complicated relationship with premium cable shows, but it’s generally not that complicated: I tend not to like them. A large part of this is just the rhetoric that surrounds shows, both before they premiere and as they air episodes. The albatross of their “quality” and “risky” content tends to weigh me down as much as it weighs down some shows that seem delighted just to be able show sex as often as they please instead of necessarily crafting interesting stories and characters.

So, as is often the case, I tend to avoid premium cable programming until after it’s on DVD (sometimes well after), or if the buzz is positive enough, I’ll dive in shortly after DVD (looking at you, Homeland). In any case, with a free preview of House of Lies (available here on YouTube; apologies if blocked in your region), I figured I would give it a go if only due to lack of options on my basic TV services.

House of Lies concerns itself with a group of management consultants, with the show being headlined by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell (both of whom I thoroughly enjoy in other projects). Their presences would have been enough to get me to acquire the episode following its official premiere on Sunday.

Their presences are not nearly enough to make me sit through another episode of this obnoxious show.

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Sherlock – “A Scandal in Belgravia”

I dislike being outnumbered. It makes for too much stupid in the room.”

Sherlock titlecardEugh. Just…eugh.

There’s plenty to like in the return of Sherlock, the smart puzzlebox of a BBC show. Cumberbatch and Freeman (though the latter is underutilized here, I feel) remain immensely likeable and entertaining in their respective roles, and the show’s use of graphic overlays and audio accompaniments to demonstrate Holmes’ mental processes remains top notch. The twists and turns of the plot moves along briskly and assuredly, leaving me feeling fine with the episode from a structural standpoint.

But, oh someone’s god, what the hell is this mess of Irene Adler? And the resurfacing of the Arab stereotypes (does someone have a scimitar fetish?!) right at there at the end?

I mean, putting aside the rather blatant ripoff of CSI:, updating Adler was going to be necessary, and I was eager, based on their slight tweaking of Watson and Moriarty to fit the current times (I’ve decided that Sherlock‘s Moriarty, instead of being a professor, is actually a graduate student whose dissertation has driven him to criminal activity) to see how they reconfigured Adler, one of the few people (gender qualifications be damned) to outsmart the brilliant Sherlock Holmes.

This was not, exactly, what I had in mind. Read more »

The Walking Dead – “What Lies Ahead”

“Hey, JC. You taking requests?”

Daryl and Rick cut open a Walker to see what its last meal was.

Little girls hide in the darndest places.

Last season’s finale was the worst. The big ending (spoiler alert — although you’re reading a review for the beginning of season two so season one spoilers are your fault) was dumb for a lot of reasons. Personally, it was ridiculous because I’m from Atlanta so I know the CDC doesn’t look like that (it’s a boring government building near the Emory campus) and I don’t have any emotional attachment to the Cobb Energy Centre getting exploded by bad CG. Narratively, it was terrible because the ending told us nothing that we didn’t already know and really only served to thin out the cast (which, admittedly, needed to be done) and making an already bleak forecast for our heroes even bleaker. How much does hopelessness make you want to come back and watch a show?

There was a lot of industrial drama, showrunner changes, and network chicanery during the off-season and I was curious about how it would affect the show, because, frankly, it couldn’t really get much worse than how it devolved over the course of six episodes. There was a lot of promise from the beginning of using the series to explore more than just raw survival of the human spirt. Pun totally intended, there was an opportunity to flesh the situation out more, to develop characters beyond archetypes and create a different kind of dilemma that the horror movie doesn’t have time to work out. Instead, we got a six-hours-long B-movie epic.

I like being right. More than I like barbecue. More than I like watching Green Bay win. Almost as much as I love gelato. I love being right. So I wanted to tune in to The Walking Dead season two and see it slop onto the screen in a hot mess. I wanted to see the hot garbage from last season continue into this one and justify my desire not to watch it. What I found, however, is a show trying to regain its balance. And a show that may have been studying Lost in the off-season for survivor dynamics. And I really like Lost. Dang it. I really wanted this show to not be interesting. Read more »

Psych – “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader”

“Take that, hyphens.”

Shawn hugs the ambassador before he leaves.

Not everyone appreciates guy love like we do.

Pro tip: don’t watch Season 3 Psych right before watching Season 6 Psych. It’ll only depress you.

That’s not to say the first episode of this season is a disappointment. It’s the Psych that you love if a little dulled by years of repetition. Shawn’s a little fatter, Juliet is a little weaker (her character is, more or less, a reaction shot to her male colleagues), and Gus doesn’t say “What” nearly enough.

But the basic pieces are still there and, dare I say, with some stakes raised. I don’t want to speculate about what’s planned for the rest of the season (since, last time I did, I predicted another “yips” story arc that amounted to nothing) but Psych has two trump cards sitting in its extra-pocketed sleeves ready to play for instant game-changers and we get a sneak peek at both of them in this episode.

I don’t want to speculate but I will. I want one or both of these things to happen. Because, unless there’s a plan for a wedding season finale, we need something else to look forward to. We’ve waited long enough. Read more »

The Good Wife – “A New Day”

You seem different.”

The Good Wife Title Card s3Well hello there, The Good Wife. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you all the more because this fall season, so far, in case you haven’t heard, has been kind of the pits. Sure, I kind of like Revenge (it has potential) and while I’m not really keen on what many of the new comedies have been doing with their second episodes, I’m still willing to roll with them a bit longer. But nothing has really grabbed me this season so far.

But you, you my dear, you grab me.

I’m so glad you’re back. Please don’t even leave me again. Or become awful. Mainly the latter. I don’t think I could bear it. Read more »

Community – “Biology 101”

Hey, Sean Penn called. He said to dial it back.

Community Title CardBusy, busy, busy.

“Biology 101” is something of a reset button as the show attempts to, in fact dial itself back from the larger, more parody/homage/theme-based episodes. I’m personally okay with this as their more high-concept episodes last season were beginning to distract or were struggling to feel consequential, both at their time of airing or in hindsight. The study group got lost a little bit, as did Greendale as an environment (Did anyone really care about anthropology, or any of their other classes?!).

So I, for one, welcome a return to a more season 1 structure. And I’m glad they went ahead and got that musical number out of the way.  Read more »

Parenthood – “I Don’t Want to Do This Without You”

“It’s a Braverman.”

Zeke teaches Drew how to grill.

"Hey. Do I know you?"

Our fellow Monster Karen checked out last season’s finale of Parenthood as it aired at the behest of Matt and me insisting the show is good, sometimes great, and worth everyone at least checking out. We warned of crushing emotional scenes and certain actors knocking it out of the park to the chagrin of a viewer’s tear ducts (Mae Whitman, my elbow is pointing at you). Yeah, we like the show a lot. So when she reported back to us, just before we recorded a podcast, we were both pretty excited to certainly have a new convert.

It was not to be.

She may be able to stomach Gossip Girl camp and other CW fare but jumping into Parenthood at the finale was a little too saccharine, a little too schmaltzy for her. Needless to say, Matt and I were a little disappointed. But, at the same time, understanding.

One has to approach Parenthood with the knowledge that the series is a continual setup for emotional and familial catharsis. If the Bravermans aren’t hugging it out, they’re fighting against hugging it out even though they know they will eventually embrace — embracing. The basic elements of this show (diverse cast, unscripted scenes, copious demonstrations of togetherness to the point that you’re sure none of these characters have any other friends and, if they do, they’re villains) all contribute expertly to these cathartic moments in the season. We’re led up a mountain by a Braverman sherpa and, if you’re just choppered in to meet us without seeing the journey, Base Camp 2 may seem really overdramatic.

The collapse of my mountain metaphor aside, the Parenthood season opener picks up smartly where the finale left off. Maybe with a couple of hiccups that are the seeds of major season arcs. But they’ll pull it together — right? Read more »

Breaking Bad – “Box Cutter”

Well? Get back to work.

Breaking Bad title cardI did season one of Breaking Bad a while back, and then did seasons two and three over the course of June and just a bit of July so I would be all caught up in time for premiere.

How did you all wait an entire year for this show to come back? (“Meth” was a common answer. Oddly, no one took up chemistry or dressing entirely in purple.) I mean, I only had to wait two weeks for this episode, and while I kept my now very bad addiction to suspense fed by watching the Women’s World Cup, I still found myself jonesing (seeing Walt and Jesse on every other Web site I visited this month certainly didn’t help maters). I can only imagine what people who have been watching the show for longer than I have have been going through.

But it’s here now, so we can all exhale slowly. If only so we can suck all the air back in and hold our breath again. Read more »

Leverage – “The Long Way Down Job”

“It’s a dangerous mountain. There could be some polar bears or ill tempered Eskimos.”

Leverage‘s return left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Sometimes the cons are just silly. Or boring. But it’s that oh so lovable ragtag group of liars, cheats and thieves turned do-gooders that keep us coming back. “The Long Way Down Job” was a prime example of why those who are fans of the show love it and why its naysayers are so adamantly against it.

A mountaintop is just not a place for the team to be. It’s a very challenging terrain. A hacker is almost no good because, as evidenced, signals are lost all the time and communication is hard to maintain. Sure Parker climbs buildings, but a mountain is a totally different story. Eliot is just good at everything so he should be fine.

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