What I Watched – March 28

28 Mar
© AMC

© AMC

It’s been a while! If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been having some health issues that have kept me from updating and vlog-making. I still haven’t gotten any answers, but I have started feeling better, so I should be back to something vaguely resembling a regular schedule (as regular as it ever is, since I am the worst) going forward!

 

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul - “RICO”
Another week, another amazing episode of Better Call Saul. Vince Gilligan and friends are just killing it right now, you guys.

One of the things the show is doing really well that I think is a terrific storytelling device is the little pre-credits flashbacks every week. They are telling so much story in so little time, and this week’s was no different. Before he was a lawyer, Jimmy worked in the mailroom at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill – and he went to school at night, without anybody (besides Kim) knowing about it to get his law degree. Once he passed the bar, he went to Chuck to ask if he could join the practice. Chuck deferred to Howard, who turned Jimmy down in a terrifically filmed, dialogue free sequence where the only sound was a copy machine. This small bit of information added so many layers to our ongoing story – it certainly explained even further why Jimmy hates Howard so much, and gives us a sense of how hard Jimmy has worked to get, up to this point, basically nowhere in the law field.

That made it all the more satisfying to see Jimmy hit on an actual case this week. We’ve seen him succeeding with elder law the past few weeks – wandering from nursing home to nursing home to help people with wills and the like. This week, he realized one of his clients was getting way overcharged, did some digging (literally, in a dumpster, which was one of the more entertaining sequences of the episode), and landed on a pretty big fraud case.

To make things even better, Jimmy brought Chuck in on things and we got to see the two brothers working together on the case. For most of the show so far, Chuck has been relegated to the outskirts, hiding at home while Jimmy pops in and out to bring him supplies and what not. We’ve been told he used to be a terrific lawyer, but have never really seen him in action. Once he realized what Jimmy had stumbled into this week, it was like the old Chuck finally woke up. He was digging through paperwork, spitting out case names to investigate, and bantering with Jimmy – it was really fun to watch.

And then, to end the episode, Chuck wandered outside without even thinking about it to get supplies from Jimmy’s car. No space blanket, no shakes and pain – just walked right out the front door, grabbed the keys out of the mailbox, and started shuffling through Jimmy’s trunk. It wasn’t until Jimmy walked outside to see what was going on that Chuck realized, looked shocked, and dropped everything. It will be fascinating to see what his response is next week. Did working the case with Jimmy snap him out of whatever mental issue he’d been having long enough to shake the worst of his electromagnetism fears? Or will that brief lapse cause everything to get worse all over again?

While all of this was going on, there was also a fairly significant, if brief, development in the life of Mike Ehrmantraut. After babysitting for Kaylee and finding out about his daughter-in-law’s money issues, we see him visit the vet from a few weeks back (the one that patched the gun shot wound in his shoulder) – and offer his services. This is an enormous step towards the Mike we know from Breaking Bad.

Only two more episodes to go this season – can’t wait to see where the show is headed before the finale!

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What I Watched – March 14

14 Mar
© AMC

© AMC

Fun week of TV this week!

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul - “Five-O”
Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the amazingness that is Jonathan Banks in the role of Mike Erhmantraut. This episode was a tour de force for him and should immediately put him into contention for an Emmy in the fall. It was also arguably the best hour of Better Call Saul yet.

A little more than halfway through its first season, we still hadn’t spent much time with Mike. He’d interacted with Jimmy a bit to argue about parking stickers, but until the end of last week, that had been mostly it. Now, we’ve finally seen what brought him to Albuquerque in the first place – and, in the process, probably his first steps toward being the guy we all know from Breaking Bad. And it was heartbreaking.

As it turns out, Mike had a son named Matt who was also a cop in Philadelphia who was killed (so everyone thought) on the job. Mike, however, knew better – his son’s partners had killed him to cover up for the fact that they were dirty. Mike hung around cop bars in Philly, drinking and listening and making everyone think he was just a sad old drunk (I think there was an element of truth to that, to be honest) until he could get the two guys alone – where he shot them both.

The episode did a beautiful job of presenting this story to us – rather than one long flashback, we picked up details from Mike’s encounters with his daughter-in-law Stacey, his exchanges (and tension around) the cops from Philly investigating the deaths of the two cops, his interactions with Jimmy, and a few brief (and out of chronological order) flashbacks. The show left it up to us to piece everything together – Mike’s bullet wound from the beginning, whether or not he was truly an alcoholic or playing it up for the sake of catching the bastards that killed his son, etc.

But the real highlight of the episode was the last sequence, when he sits down and tells Stacey everything that happened. She thought Matt might be a dirty cop as well, because of some extra cash she found lying around and a late-night phone call to Mike the night before he was shot and killed. As Mike would explain, Matt called him to ask whether he should turn his partners in. Mike – who had been a dirty cop himself – told him to protect himself and not turn them in. It broke his son’s heart to find out that his father had been a dirty cop and would suggest taking the money and not doing the right thing – and it got him killed anyway. The pain in Mike’s eyes as he explained all of this was apparent – more unbelievable work by Jonathan Banks. After he finished telling Stacey everything, she quietly asked what happened to Matt’s partner’s if it wasn’t some sort of related crime to Matt’s shooting. 

His answer? “You know what happened. The question is, can you live with it?” Heavy, powerful stuff. You can easily see how Mike, in his grief, guilt, and anger, could turn into the man who works with Gus Fring.

This was a terrific hour of television and makes me really excited for the last handful of episodes Better Call Saul has to offer this season.

Moment of the Week

Agents of SHIELD – “Who You Really Are”
This is really silly, but I’ve always gotten a huge kick out of stone-faced Melinda May’s crush on Thor, which came up in a funny moment with Lady Sif this week.

Guest Star(s) of the Week

Alia Shawkat and Kelly Ripa, Broad City
How have I never realized how much Ilana Glazer and Alia Shawkat look alike before now?! Casting Shawkat as a girl Ilana falls for mainly because she looks JUST LIKE HER was a stroke of genius. The two of them were fantastic together and had great chemistry. It was hilarious to see the entire relationship fall apart just because Adele didn’t smoke weed.

And then there was Kelly Ripa, who completely blew me away with how funny she was. Abbi’s quest to find her coat after their chance encounter at the coat check was funny enough, but watching them bond over Bed, Bath & Beyond (what else?) – and Ripa get crazier and crazier as they drank more – was wonderful. I get such a kick out of watching people play completely exaggerated, ridiculous versions of themselves, so this was right up my alley.

Binge-Watch of the Week

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey has done it again, you guys. I’ve already watched this entire series twice, and I am COMPLETELY in love with it. From it’s catchy-as-hell theme music to the utter delight of Ellie Kemper, this show is a blast. I cannot fathom how it ever would have worked on NBC and I am forever grateful to Netflix for rescuing it and letting it exist in the world.

There’s so much to love about this show. It’s got the same weirdness to it that 30 Rock did – if anything, it’s weirder – but there’s also a much darker tone to a lot of the comedy. Kimmy has been through some shit – being kidnapped and living in a bunker for 15 years is no joke. But the show does a terrific job of balancing that darkness with really powerful messages of surviving and not letting life or being a victim destroy you, and I really love that. I don’t think it would work with anyone but Kemper in the lead – she has an amazing energy and joy to her that does a great job of making some of the darker humor not feel all that dark.

The supporting cast is also amazing. We all know what Jane Krakowski can do from her turn as the one and only Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock – and there’s a lot of Jenna in Jacqueline Vorhees – but I think Jacqueline has a lot more layers to her. She feels real human emotions, for one thing – I’m not convinced Jenna ever did. Tituss Burgess is absolutely hilarious as Kimmy’s roommate and guide to 2015 existence Titus Andromedon – his put-uponness at having to do basically anything for her (or anyone), while simultaneously sincerely caring about her, was wonderful to watch.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. Just listen to the theme song, how can you resist?!

 

 

What was your favorite thing on TV this week?

 

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Vlog Season 2 #9 – Agent Carter

6 Mar

I’m back with a real video this week, as promised, talking about the first season of Agent Carter.

I talk about the portrayal of sexism on the show, its greater Marvel universe implications (or lack thereof), and the general amazingness of Peggy as a character.

What did you guys think of the show?

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What I Watched – February 28

28 Feb
© NBC

© NBC

This was a BIG WEEK, with the end of Parks and Rec, plus the season finales of Agent Carter and Sleepy Hollow. Lots to talk about!

Episode of the Week

Parks and Recreation - “One Last Ride”
Could it possibly be anything else? The series finale was total perfection.

I completely loved the show’s approach to its final hour. Nothing big and fancy, just one last ride for the Parks team, helping to fix a swing for a citizen of Pawnee. And even that was mostly a framing device for the meat and potatoes of the episode – glimpses of everyone’s futures. It was not lost on me that Leslie’s touch is what triggered all the flash-forwards. She has always been the engine for this show (and an enormous influence in these characters’ lives) – it seemed very fitting.

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Vlog Blooper Reel!

27 Feb

I don’t have a new vlog this week, but I do have a blooper reel! I’ll have a video about the first season of Agent Carter for you next week.

In the meantime, enjoy watching me screw up and yell at inanimate objects. :)

 

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What I Watched – February 14

14 Feb
agentcarter-ep8

© ABC

 

Apologies for going MIA last week, I had a completely insane schedule and watched basically nothing. It’s hard to write about things you haven’t seen. On to this week!

Episode of the Week

Agent Carter - “A Sin to Err”
I am completely in love with Agent Carter, you guys. The show has been SO good in its short run so far, and although I’m excited for Agents of SHIELD to come back in March, I will be very sad to see Peggy leave us so soon.

The main event this week was Agent Sousa letting the rest of the SSR in on what he discovered at the end of last week’s episode – that Peggy was the mystery woman from the club and cabin incidents. Most of the second half of the episode focused on Peggy attempting to avoid being arrested. The show did a terrific job with the fight sequence in the diner, in particular – one minute, Peggy and Jarvis are having a polite conversation, the next, she’s taken out multiple SSR agents and Jarvis is looking all kinds of pleased with himself for whacking a guy over the head with a tray.

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Vlog Season 2 #8 – A Farewell to Parks and Rec

13 Feb

Time for another new vlog!

As we race towards the series finale of Parks and Recreation, I wanted to take some time to talk about the reasons I love the show so much, what I think has made it so special, and why I’m going to miss it. Apologies for looking and sounding so gross – cold season is evil, you guys.

After the jump, I’ve listed out some of my favorite episodes and moments. Leave yours in the comments!

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Series Premiere Review – Better Call Saul

10 Feb
© AMC

© AMC

This weekend marked the long-awaited (at least by me!) premiere of Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad prequel focused on Saul Goodman. I’d been excited about the show since it was first announced, and thankfully the two-night premiere did not disappoint.

I was sold on the show from the beginning of the first episode, which offered us a quick glimpse into Saul Goodman’s post-Walter White future. It was, as you might expect, pretty bleak. As he predicted, Saul (now going by Gene) wound up working as a manager at a Cinnabon in Nebraska. He goes home at night, drinks, and watches his old ‘Better call Saul!’ TV commercials. The entire sequence was done beautifully – no dialogue until Saul hit play on the VHS tape, and shot in black in white. I felt fairly confident when the credits rolled that we were in for something good.

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Series Finale Review – Parenthood

1 Feb
© NBC

© NBC

After 6 seasons of life, laugh and lots and lots of tears, Thursday night was the finale of Parenthood. We’ve gone through a lot with the Bravermans over the years – Max’s asperger’s diagnosis, various romantic relationships for many family members, Kristina’s cancer battle, the rise and near-fall of the Luncheonette, Zeek’s health crisis – and I could not have asked for a more perfect finale.

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What I Watched – January 31

31 Jan
© Comedy Central

© Comedy Central

Missed this last week due to some sort of mystery illness, but I’m back! I should probably mention that the Parenthood finale was BY FAR my favorite thing that aired this week, but I’m working on a full review of that episode to post separately, so I left it out of this.

 

Episode of the Week

Broad City - “Wisdom Teeth”
I continue to be completely in love with the ladies of Broad City. This week’s episode was weird in all the best ways, and utterly hilarious as a result.

The episode focused on Abbi getting her wisdom teeth removed (by Lincoln, but  more on him in a moment). Ilana, of course, jumped headfirst into being Abbi’s caretaker post-surgery – something she is absolutely not competent enough to do. So we were treated to the lovely combination of a stoned-off-her-ass Abbi and a panicked Ilana throughout a good chunk of the episode, and it worked WONDERFULLY.

I had my wisdom teeth removed shortly after I graduated high school, and I remember how dopey and unable to function those drugs made me. Abbi’s insane ramblings right after the procedure (not to mention her complete lack of awareness that any time had passed or the surgery was finished) were perfection.

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