What I Watched – July 19

19 Jul
© HBO

© HBO

Time for another weekly wrap-up!

Episode of the Week

The Leftovers – “Two Boats and a Helicopter”
I wasn’t 100% sold on The Leftovers after the first two episodes – it was doing a lot of things really well (despite how bleak everything is), but hadn’t entirely clicked for me yet.

It clicked this week.

Sunday’s episode made the bold (and terrific) decision to shift the focus away from the Garvey family, and instead spend some time with one of the smaller side characters – local priest Matt Jamison. While the struggles of the Garveys have been compelling thus far, I think the premise works so much better when we get to see the various and drastic ways people have coped with “the departures” up close and personal. This was a terrific example of that.

Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of Matt was amazing throughout the episode. We got to see the many consequences the departures had on him personally – his wife’s serious injury in the car accident we saw in the series’ opening moments, his church congregation dwindling, and his relationship with his sister Nora (who lost her husband and children) strained. He comes across as trying to be righteous, but simultaneously does a lot of things to hurt those around him (like telling Nora her husband was having an affair out of spite while they were arguing). Eccleston hit the nuances of the character perfectly and was extremely compelling to watch.

One of my favorite sequences of the episode was Matt’s moment of glory at the casino. After watching him struggle with various things through most of the episode, to see him suddenly have this epiphany on how to save his church – and succeed, however briefly, was very rewarding. The tense build-up to his last big gamble and win was filmed really well.

Of course, the moment of victory was short-lived, as seems to be the case for most happy moments in Mapleton. He’s nearly robbed of his winnings – and may or may not have murdered a guy to make sure he kept his money. On his way to give the money to the bank so he could keep his church, he stopped to help some members of the Guilty Remnant who were being attacked – another example of his more righteous tendencies shining through – and earned himself a rock to the face for his trouble.

When he came to, he rushed to the bank to make his payment only to find out he’d lost two days and was too late. And just to rub salt in the wound, it was none other than the Guilty Remnant that had purchased the church from the bank. The episode closed on Matt watching angrily as the GR paint his church white. My notes from those last moments read: “And the motherfucking GR bought the church because of course they did”. It was the only way things could turn out for poor Matt.

This was an absolutely terrific hour of television, and I’m hoping The Leftovers can deliver similar episodes in the coming weeks.

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Vlog #16 – 2014 Emmy Nominations

18 Jul

The 2014 Emmy nominations were released late last week, and rather than do my usual write-up of reactions, I decided to use that as this week’s vlog topic! I talk about the snubs that bummed me out as well as a few nominations that made me really happy.

What did you guys think of these years nominations? Anything in particular stand out to you? Let me know in the comments here or over on YouTube!

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What I Watched – July 11

12 Jul
© Comedy Central

© Comedy Central

As mentioned in my last post, given the lack of new stuff on TV on a weekly basis, I’m going to start including some of the stuff I’m watching on Netflix and the like in these weekly posts for the rest of the summer!

Episode Show of the Week

Broad City
I watched basically all of the first season of Broad City in one sitting earlier this week, so I’d be hard pressed to name one episode in particular I enjoyed more than the rest, but I am completely in love with this show. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen are HILARIOUS – I’d seen people stumping for Emmy love for this show online, and I totally get why now.

It is so rare to see good, female-centric comedy on TV that this show was a really pleasant surprise (shout out to the delightful Playing House on USA for being similarly awesome). I think it’s especially rare to see a show focused on two women in this particular demographic – Abbi and Ilana are in their early twenties. There’s a lot of good side characters on TV in that age bracket – I’m looking at you April Ludgate and Britta Perry – but most shows about twenty-somethings are very ensemble or dude-heavy. It was a blast to watch these ladies portray the life of someone in my general age bracket in such a funny way.

I also really enjoyed the fact that the show takes place in New York City. I’ve been living here for a year, and I feel like I wouldn’t have enjoyed it NEARLY as much without the context of my experiences over the past year. The show really captures the sometimes awesome but occasionally terrible-ness that is living in NYC perfectly.

If you haven’t seen Broad City yet, I highly recommend checking it out – unfortunately all of season one just expired off of Comedy Central’s website, but I’m sure it’s floating around out there somewhere. It’s only 10 episodes and well worth the time!

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What I Watched – June 28

28 Jun
© FOX

© FOX

Not very much on lately – I may start including some of my Netflix marathon shows in these posts until there’s more on TV on a weekly basis – but still some great stuff this week!

Episode of the Week

Enlisted – “Alive Day”

It’s always so heartbreaking to watch the unplanned finale of a show that was cancelled before it really got started. It’s especially heartbreaking when that show is as good as Enlisted was in its much-too-short first (and only) season, and when said finale is probably the best episode of the series to date.  This final episode was a perfect example of what made this show so good throughout the season – equal parts funny and touching.

The show has dealt with Pete’s PTSD from his time in Afghanistan here and there throughout the season, and I was always impressed how they toed the line between too dark for a sitcom and not taking it seriously enough. They continued to nail it in the finale. Pete and his brothers spent the episode celebrating his “Alive Day” – the anniversary of his near-death experience in Afghanistan. Pete appears to be handling everything fine, even spending the day helping to plan a ball in honor of Sergeant Major Cody (thanks to the real ball having its funding pulled by the Army). But once he’s at the actual event, and a unit of deployed soldiers are brought up on a big screen via video chat, we see that he’s not quite as okay as it might seem.

The last sequence of the episode (and sadly, the series) out on the beach, as Pete’s brothers and Cody reassure him that everything he is feeling is okay, and that he is loved, and they are glad he’s still here, was one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen in a 13-episode-old sitcom. When the rest of the Rear-D unit join in for one last hands-on-heads moment, there were definitely tears. Beautifully done.

All that said, this episode also had me cracking up a few times. First, Randy’s insistence that Derrick should “Officer and a Gentleman” Erin to win her back made me laugh on its own. When the joke paid off later in the episode, as we got to see Randy catch Cody (whose makeshift duct tape and mannequin-leg foot gave out) and carry him around, in slow-mo, it just got funnier. The running gag about Lori Loughlin was hilarious to me for some reason, too. And if you can’t laugh at Dobkiss and Robinson having a SUPER AWKWARD dance-off that turned into a make out session in the middle of the ball, I’m not sure you can laugh at anything.

I will miss this wonderful little show.

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Vlog #15 – Orange is the New Black Season 2

27 Jun

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately – my own crazy schedule and the relative lack of new stuff on TV is a bad combo! I’m going to try to get some fun new summer content going over the next couple of weeks, though, so stick with me.

In the meantime, time for a new vlog!

This week’s video is all about season 2 of Orange is the New Black.

I had a whole bunch of other stuff I wanted to talk about, but had to cut for time (no one wants to watch a half-hour long vlog), I’ve written it all out here if you’re interested

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Vlog #14 – Summer TV Preview

13 Jun

Time for another new episode of the vlog!

This week, I talked a little bit about some of the new summer TV shows I’m excited for this year. There’s a ton of really great content out there this summer (such a nice change from the days of summer nothingness!), and I can’t wait to see how all these shows turn out.

I realized after I filmed I completely forgot to mention Extant, the new Halle Berry show that starts in a few weeks on CBS. The premise is interesting (after many years in space, she returns to earth and is pregnant), but after getting burned pretty badly by Under the Dome last year, I’m a little wary of CBS’s forays into “limited series”. We’ll see, I guess.

What are you guys looking forward to this summer?

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What I Watched – June 7

7 Jun

 

© BBC America

© BBC America

We’re heading into the TV-light summer months, so these posts will probably be a bit shorter as I have fewer shows to write about. But let’s get on with it for this week!

 

Episode of the Week

Orphan Black – “Knowledge of Causes and Secret Motion of Things”
I am constantly amazed at how this show continues to operate at such a high level of quality – and how much it keeps surprising me with plot twists week after week.

First of all, I’m very disappointed in Alison this week. With all of her trust issues and paranoia, she picks Vic the Dick to confide in (and give amazing nine-fingered gloves to)?! NOT a good decision.  It did lead to perhaps the funniest sequence of the week later in the episode – Sarah trying to fake being Alison for the rehab’s role-playing session on family day while Felix and Alison carry a drugged Vic down the halls of the rehab to try to hide him from Angie – so, all is forgiven.

Meanwhile, things are not going so well for poor Cosima and Delphine. It turns out the “promising treatment” discovered earlier this season is actually stem cells from Kira. Delphine was content to never let Cosima find that out – which, of course, she did anyway. I’m not really sure how Delphine expected all of this to go, but there was a terrific, angry speech from Cosima kicking her out of the lab that I really loved. Excellent work (as always) by Tatiana Maslany.

Before the hijinks at rehab, Sarah was busy trying to figure out what to do with Professor Duncan (and, to some extent, how much to trust Mrs. S). Ultimately, Mrs. S wound up running the show on that front, taking Duncan to meet Rachel – who thought he was dead, and actually showed signs of human emotion for the first time – and then letting Rachel deal with Dr. Leekie. As it turns out, Rachel isn’t even remotely the scariest person in this organization – that would be one Marion Bowles, Rachel’s boss (played by the wonderful Michelle Forbes!).

But the biggest shock of the episode happened right at the end: after getting a head start from Rachel on the men presumably coming to kill him, Leekie got tracked down by Donnie, of all people, looking for answers about Alison. Turns out he thought he was monitoring her for some sociological study and had no idea about the clones or anything that went along with it. He pulled a gun, and because he is Donnie, accidentally fires it, and shoots Leekie square in the face. WHAT?!

So much happens in every episode of this show, it’s crazy. There are only three episodes left this season, and I can’t even imagine where things might be headed.

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Vlog #13 – Hannibal Season 2

30 May

My latest new vlog episode is live!

This week, I talked a bunch about Hannibal season two and why it (and the show in general) was so amazing. HERE BE SPOILERS!

Did you guys enjoy season two as much as I did?

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What I Watched – May 24

24 May

hannibal-s2finale

Just an absurdly good week of TV this week.

 

Episode of the Week

Hannibal – “Mizumono”
Holy crap, you guys, what a finale. I spent the entire last half sitting on the edge of my couch, mouth hanging open, shocked at what I was watching. It was an utterly captivating and amazingly written hour of television.

Thanks to the flash-forward in the premiere, we knew where the episode was headed from the start – the big fight scene between Jack and Hannibal. The episode did a great job building to that moment. I was thrilled to see the return of Gina Torres as Bella Crawford. It lent a nice emotional weight to the episode, both in reminding us what Jack has to lose (his last weeks with his wife, who has not attempted suicide again to give him that time) and in paying off Bella’s last appearance.

The context of the fight also ended up being quite different from what I expected, as Jack has basically gone rogue. Kade Prurnell puts Jack on “compassionate” leave due to Bella’s impending death, and then puts out a warrant for his and Will’s arrest due to the games they have played in trying to catch Hannibal in the act. As she points out – the only person the FBI knows is a killer is Will Graham. So Jack says a quiet goodbye to Bella, and just goes through with his plan to get Hannibal, with no backup, and knowing the cost could very well be his life.

Meanwhile, Alana has FINALLY figured out Hannibal for what he truly is, and pleads Jack and Will’s case to Prurnell. After getting nowhere, she goes after Jack, hoping to save him. Instead, she find herself face-to-face with a bloody Hannibal, armed with an empty gun (the bastard thinks of EVERYTHING!) and is forced to run away, leaving Jack bleeding out in the pantry. While hiding from Hannibal upstairs, we get one of many shocks of this last sequence – an alive, apologetic, and frightened Abigail Hobbs, emerging from the shadows just in time to push Alana out the window.

Will arrives shortly after and finds Alana bleeding on the ground outside Hannibal’s home. He calls for help and runs inside – only to encounter Abigail. Hannibal quietly enters as Will (and all of the audience) is trying to figure out what on earth is going on and basically guts Will. He then proceeds to ask Will for forgiveness for his actions, and when Will says no, slits Abigail’s throat right then and there. At this point, I think I may have stopped breathing.

The episode ends with Hannibal leaving the carnage behind just before help arrives. Every main character on the show is near death – Jack bleeding out from the piece of glass in his neck, Alana suffering from her fall through the window, and Will gutted from Hannibal’s knife. Abigail is almost certainly dead. It’s looking very bleak for our heroes going forward.

And in case that wasn’t enough to wonder about going into (THANK THE TV GODS!) next season, after the credits we get a glimpse of Hannibal on the run with a very interesting travel companion – one Bedelia Du Maurier.

Insane and amazing stuff. This is going to be a very, very different show next year – both due to some likely deaths, and because the structure will have to change with Hannibal on the run. I can’t wait.

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Vlog #12 – Talking Season Finales

17 May

I’ve finally posted another new vlog!

This week I discuss a bunch of recent season finales. I talked about Parks and Recreation, New Girl, Agents of SHIELD, Castle, and Trophy Wife.

After the jump, I have some thoughts about the shows I cut for time, if you’re interested.

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