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Television

Ruck’s Week in TV, 2/26 – 3/4

Hey comrades,

I’m way behind writing about my regular shows, so I’m doing a catch-all this week, with a little bit of a programming note going forward.

I’m taking a new job on Thursday, and while it’s a great opportunity for me, it’s going to be time-intensive. I’m not going to have a whole lot of opportunity to watch TV, and certainly not on any regular basis, so I’m going to have to bow out of weekly coverage for a while, probably until this project is done (which is going to be about four months). I’m gonna have to probably have to limit myself to the occasional feature, that can be written on my own time.

So if anyone wants any of my regular shows– I think all of which will be covered in this post– please, take them over, give them a good home, because a lot of these shows don’t really have reviewers / recappers discussion communities anywhere else on the Internet that I’ve seen.

I haven’t watched anything new today or yesterday, so these are all from last week. (If you want to take, say, the new episodes of the ABC shows, Another Period, or Good Girls, go for it.)

Without further ado, here is “Last week in new TV I watched”:

The Mick, “The Juice”: The Colonel keeps moving around while Alba isn’t looking, and she becomes convinced he can actually move and is faking his infirmity. Mickey introduces Chip and his friend (I don’t remember his name, but he played Sam on American Vandal) to gambling. They accidentally bet $100,000 on a football game. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s new girlfriend Alexis plays for the U.S. junior women’s soccer team (probably not the exact name, but give me a break), which raises Jimmy’s suspicions, as he thinks Sabrina is going to affect her performance. Jimmy uses his status as a former high school star athlete fused with a sense of patriotism to make a flimsy justification to intervene. Mickey picks up on Jimmy’s assessment of the team and decides to make the money back putting a big wager on that game. Kirk Fox (he’ll always be Sewage Joe to me) returns as the loan shark (way more menacing than Sewage Joe) to take her bet.

Sabrina’s girlfriend dumps her, so she blames Jimmy and heads to the team hotel to try to make it right. Jimmy tries to stop her. This all leads to Jimmy getting in a fight with the entire team– and to be fair, he keeps trying not to get into a fight until they kick his ass so repeatedly he starts swinging back– and Alexis gives Sabrina a great “The Reason You Suck” speech: She didn’t dump Sabrina because of anything Jimmy said; she did it because Sabrina’s mean and shallow and collects interesting things (“like me”) as a substitute for depth and personality. Mickey wins the bet because half the team gets arrested. Oh, and just as Alba is about to start torturing the Colonel for information, Ben, who hasn’t appeared all episode, shows up and reveals how he’s been moving the Colonel around as kind of a stepladder on wheels. Good episode.

Fresh Off the Boat, “Let Me Go, Bro”: Eddie makes the honor roll; Evan feels he’s insufficiently grateful, so he first bets Eddie can’t take care of himself on his own, then tries to sabotage Eddie when he proves him wrong. Jessica goes on a ride-along with a cop to get material for her book. Kenny Rogers Roasters goes bankrupt, so Louis gets to buy back his shares– but he also has to fire Matthew for Kenny, on St. Patrick’s Day, Matthew’s favorite day of the year. I always like episodes where someone is revealed to have hidden depths, and Eddie is a good example here– he has been maturing over the years and has really shown out in particular to be a good friend to Nicole. Also, Jessica fainting at the sight of a dead body is hilarious.

Another Period, “Shady Acres”: Lillian wants to be sure she is buried somewhere prestigious, while Beatrice had never realized she would die someday. This gives us both Dark Existential Beatrice and Cemetery Manager / Funeral Director / Whatever They Called Them in Those Days Cole Bottums (a perfectly cast Paul F. Tompkins). Lillian’s plan to gain admission to the cemetery as a legacy is a little weak, but the story is worth it for the above two performances and for Lillian saying Hamish “claims to be an expert on dirty holes.” Meanwhile, Albert and Victor want a baby, so they borrow Commodore and Chair’s baby, which is actually Blanche’s. They neglect it and it falls down a well. So they take Blanche’s baby to replace Commodore and Chair’s. Peepers sees all this as reason to send Blanche back to the madhouse.

Meanwhile, Frederick has to give a speech to a group of dodo hunters (not our Dodo, thankfully), and the Trump parallels become more obvious as he clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing at all and has no qualifications. (It’s hard to connect with a group of people who want jobs if you don’t know what a job is.) Still, Frederick is distinct enough to be his own character, which makes this really work in a way it wouldn’t if it were the obvious satire (and the one everyone else is doing). He tells the workers they can be whatever they want if they just believe it (“I believed I could be rich, and then, I was born rich”), and also that he’ll figure out a way to pass laws to give everyone what they want. Of course, they love this. (He also mistakenly says “viola” instead of “voila” when making a quick-turn reveal to show he is as handsome as he dreamed he could be.)

In the tag, Frederick and Beatrice throw Garfield’s life savings down a well and make a wish. The savings hit Blanche’s baby who starts crying. They ask the baby to give them their money back.

A.P. Bio, “Overachieving Virgins”: Good episode that suggests the show is growing. The Student Council replaced Jack’s favorite chips in the vending machine, so he vows to get them back. Marcus is the student council president, and naturally they butt heads as Jack tries to find ways to punish him, then undermine him, then replace him. I’d talk more about the episode, but I really just want to leave it with one of Jack’s most delightful lines so far: “I guess I owned your son pretty hard today.”

Superstore, “Video Game Release”: Some new video game is coming out. Amy wants a copy, but employees aren’t allowed to hold merchandise until the end of the day, and it’ll sell out by then. She and Jonah embark on an adventure through the store’s hidden passages to try to find a copy in the back stock. Glenn and Sandra decide to attempt to be more assertive. And one of the voice actors from the game shows up for a promotional appearance (I think that’s Phil Lamarr, although I didn’t look it up) and Garrett turns into a babbling fanboy in front of him; it’s always fun to see Garrett’s facade of cool crack. Anyway, Amy finally realizes she has a crush on Jonah this episode, which honestly made me wonder if some recent episodes aired out of order. I would write more but I didn’t take very good notes. (Hey, just more funny lines for you in the comments!)

L.A. to Vegas, “#PilotFight”: I’ve been meaning to write a longer article about how this show is Actually Pretty Good, but in lieu of that I’ll just throw this episode into the mix. It’s one of the better ones so far, with Dermot Mulroney returning in his second appearance as Captain Steve, rival to Dylan McDermott’s Captain Dave. (If the meta joke about people getting them confused wasn’t enough the first time around, now we literally have them saying things like “We’re the same person!” and “I can’t tell us apart!”) It seems the two are going to come to blows; Colin attempts to train Dave for the fight, Bernard convinces Ronnie to try to break it up, while Artem teaches Nichole the art of being a bookie and they try to win money booking sides for the fight.

If you haven’t seen this before, it is a pretty fun network show with potential to be really good. I like all the performances and the humor can range from absurd to meta to dark. One of my favorite exchanges in an earlier episode:

NICHOLE: If your roommate commits suicide, you get straight As for the semester. I know because my roommate tried. I was so mad at her.
RONNIE: Wait… were you mad at her because she tried to kill herself, or because she failed?
NICHOLE: No, Ronnie, because she broke the ceiling fan!

Dylan McDermott adds the right touch of oily charm and bravado to Captain Dave, and he’s very game for the absurdity of the show. Peter Stormare is a delight as Artem, the big-hearted gambler of indistinct Soviet Bloc origin. I also really enjoy Olivia Macklin as the cheerful Nichole, a stripper who’s seen it all (as strippers do) but manages to remain upbeat, a little daffy but people-smart. Kim Matula makes a good straightwoman, the right kind of Type-A for a sitcom– exasperated and can’t keep herself together but constantly doing her best to put out fires and fix other people’s problems all the same. Ed Weeks as Colin is still a little ill-defined, and while Nathan Lee Graham is solid as Bernard, the less ambitious, more content attendant, the writers haven’t done him many favors, with too many lines that I think are supposed to be sassy barbs but are too clich├ęd and not as unique as the rest of the show to land.

Anyway, it’s a fun show with potential– I’ve seen six episodes (the seventh aired tonight) and FOX apparently ordered three more off the initial run, so it looks like the show is going somewhere and has a solid future.

Good Girls, “Pilot”: Well, I didn’t see someone had put up a thread for this pilot, so I wrote a review anyway. One of the more highly anticipated pilots in my recent memory, once I found out it was starring Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta. The pilot of this makes it seem sort of like a network ladies-centric Breaking Bad, although who knows how far this story will push into tragedy. It’s a similar setup, each of the ladies motivated to commit a big crime for money because of their own pressures. For Beth (Hendricks), it’s having four kids and discovering that her husband of twenty years (Matthew Lillard!) has been cheating on her with his secretary and lavishing her with gifts, upending their finances completely. For Ruby (Retta), it’s a child with a rare kidney disease who will need expensive treatments. And for Annie (Whitman), it’s a desire to provide a better life for her child Sadie, though the father and his new wife are suing for full custody. (It’s never explicitly stated in the pilot, but I think Sadie is an AFAB a trans boy. I saw this a week ago, but IIRC Sadie presents as a boy, Annie uses he/him pronouns, while Gregg, the father, uses she/her.)

The three spitball over a perfect crime to solve their problems, and Annie reveals she’s long thought about knocking over the grocery store where she works, expecting about $30,000, enough to kick things forward in their lives. Unfortunately, two things complicate this:

One, Annie’s manager (David Hornsby) makes her during the robbery and tries to blackmail her for sex. This leads to Beth braining him with a whiskey bottle. And two, the grocery store has a lot more than $30,000 on hand– I’m surprised any store carries that much cash to begin with, but $500,000 should raise some alarm bells. It doesn’t, and surprise! That money belongs to gangsters, and they want it back.

So we have our great crime and the first fallout from it. I don’t know where it’s going, but the leads are fantastic and I’m in. Here’s hoping they tell a story worthy of the performances.

Anyone else watch these shows? Anyone want to take over writing duties for any of them?