Season 2 Premiere of ‘The Americans’ – ‘The Comrades’

The espionage genre feels a bit like the murder mystery genre.  Netflix has a prequel to Inspector Morse on instant streaming called Endeavor so I have been watching the original series.  Inspector Morse works due to the interesting, well-conceived and believable characters and in the way all mysteries work in that as a viewer you are on the lookout for the little detail that gives away the murder.

The-americans-title-cardThe Americans stars Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) as Soviet spies living as all American suburbanites in 1982 and FBI neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) are excellent co-protaganists and so are the supporting cast.  From season one, Elizabeth is shown to be more gung-ho in service to the Soviet cause but with an undercurrent of fear or pain.  This was shown through a storyline of Elizabeth being abused by her KGB training officer; the abuse did not impact her patriotism to Mother Russia but she did get revenge on the training officer, an act of subordination and a rare emotional outburst as her emotions are generally below the surface, or right at the surface in times of turmoil.  Phillip is more friendly, connects better with their two kids and has been more devoted to Elizabeth than vice versa, in reverse of typical gender characteristics.  Phillip seems more receptive to America, but has a resolve to be a dutiful spy that is a part of his devotion to Elizabeth.  Normally seeking a nonviolent solution to conflict, he ruthlessly dispatches the abusive KGB training officer, an action that is a bloody valentine to Elizabeth and the first sign we see of her feelings for Phillip.

Last season Phillip and Elizabeth had wild swings in their relationship with each other.  This is plausible in terms of the sexuality with strangers required by the job, the fact they were thrown together as part of their assignment rather than a progression of feeling in a relationship and the lies and deceptions of being a spy bleed into everything.  The frequent swings did mean viewers could feel the show was covering the same ground repeatedly.  This season it seems like the relationship is more mature; Phillip and Elizabeth are coming together after a separation but they feel like they are aware of the challenges and are more accepting of them, they share a love of their children and they even share a bit of post-assignment stress-relieving 69 hanky panky.  Where last year Phillips seduction of and eventual fake marriage to the secretary of the FBI director was flashpoint, this episode Phillips offers to skip the planned meeting with the fake wife and Elizabeth say to keep the meeting, as it could lead to intelligence that might mean the safety of their children and themselves.

More challenging than their relationship is the dangers faced from an unknown threat who has taken out a fellow, undercover KGB couple and their kids during the pilot and threats from within from their kids finding out about the spy gear in their parents closet.  Where last season Elizabeth’s fear took the form of an abusive training officer, this year we see her fright at nearly running into a doe and 2 baby deer with he car and then of course that fear is mirrored when the fellow undercover KGB couple are found dead in their hotel room.  Parents often react with fright when they lose sight of their kids at an amusement park and viewers can remember similar real life experiences as Phillip and Elizabeth rush to find their own kids, Elizabeth being particularly chilled to see her daughter wearing the carnival face paint see just saw on the face of the dead daughter of the KGB couple.

The aspect of the episode that felt like I was watching a mystery came in the Stan Beeman story line.  Last season an American leak to Elizabeth informed to the FBI about the Jennings.  Based on the informer’s weak physical description (Phillip and Elizabeth have mad, wig skills) and a suspicion that his motivation is the sizable reward to pay off his gambling debts, the FBI do not trust the intel although Stan feels there is truth there.  As I was watching this, my thought was the best thing the Russians could do to cast doubts on the guy would be to do nothing.  Unfortunately, the informer also gave up a high level defense contractor and the informer is shot outside the home of the contractor for acting crazy.  Stan and his boss (John Boy from ‘The Waltons’) now are more inclined to believe the defector than when he was alive.

Overall, a very compelling episode with the kind of adrenaline created from good action and characters that you care about and find believable.  Extra points go to the 80s references that are not overdone, a carryover from season one.  ‘The Americans’ looks to be the show I will look forward to seeing most each week, even when ‘Mad Men’ starts back.  ‘Mad Men’ in its final season is finishing out the compelling stories of interesting characters while season two of ‘The Americans’ is telling compelling stories with increasing confidence and with the freedom to go a lot of directions as a show early in its run.

5-sentence review of ‘Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 4′

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Series 4, Episode 4 | Original air date (U.S.): Jan. 26, 2014

  1. Tonight’s episode was a mixed bag as most of this season has been and in light of the assertions of Alan Sepinwall and Andy Greenwald, that thereis almost too much good TV on nowadays, it is perhaps instructive to evaluate how Downton Abbey matches up.

    Bates, the new Charles Bronson

    Bates, the new Charles Bronson

  2. On the down side, the sexual assault storyline was uninspired by definition as anything is from later seasons of The OC and Bates looking to get revenge, a plot point that Anna helpfully points out the very night of the assault, is uninspired and telegraphed and better done by Charles Bronson in however many Death Wish movies there were.
  3. On the plus side, the constant asides from classical literature or Greek mythology (tonight an accusation of Robert’s frugalness or high morals lead him to protest that he was not Simon the Great) are much preferred, to say, The Hard Times of RJ Berger referencing the latest gross sexual lingo the writers pulled off of Urban Dictionary that week.
  4. It also helps that the show is English in appealing to an American audience; Molesly’s failure to pull the trigger on a lower job than he way used to because he wanted to think it over resulted in the job no longer being available…that would be depressing in the U.S. job market of today but set in 1950 England, Molesly’s typical bad luck feels British in the same way the weather is always perfectly dreadful or that of course your soccer team screwed up on the weekend and is definitely getting relegated this year.
  5. Tom is sadly talking about going to America now and the Daisy-Alfred cooking flirtations were too lean for me (No Reservations and its French equivalent did this but I am not tired on those storylines yet)…but I hope to see more and Downton Abbey does enough things that I enjoy and are nowhere else on TV that I am staying with it.

5-sentence review of ‘Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 3′

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Series 4, Episode 3 | Original air date (U.S.): Jan. 19, 2014

  1. Episode 3 of the fourth series of “Downton Abbey” started slowly but finished brighter and there is hope for storylines that are not Bates and Anna.
  2. Lord Grantham is generally written as a anachronistic jerk and the episode started with Bates shut out by Anna and Tom blackmailed by Edna Braithwaite; I was left with the feeling that for all the sorrows of the women of “Downton Abbey” deal with, it is not always awesome being a guy either.
  3. The guys rebounded some with Alfred set for some cooking lessons with Daisy, Dr. Richard Clarkson setting Isobel up with outpatient clinic work to take her mind off Matthew, Thomas not really doing anything nice per se but not being typically jerky either, and a couple good bits of advice, Tom going to Elsie to clear up things re: Edna on Mary’s advice and Bates getting advice on marriage from Lord Grantham, that did not clear up anything with Anna but did show Robert in a better light than normal.
  4. Suitors to the Grantham daughters had mixed results; Michael Gregson had a night of passion with Edith before going to Germany to process his divorce but Lady Rosalind finds out and judges Edith for poor not guarding the family name while Lord Gillingham gets close to and proposes to Mary who turns him down but gives him a parting kiss, leaving Mary open to the idea of love in the future it seems.
  5. I am hoping for flirty cooking lessons between Daisy and Alfred and Tom and Mary feel like they have a spark or at least a really close friendship brewing, while hope for Anna and Mr. Bates looks at least a few episodes away.

5-sentence review of ‘Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 2′

DontonAbbey

Series 4, Episode 2 | Original air date (U.S.): Jan. 12, 2014

  1. After a great premiere episode for Series 4, Sunday’s offering sadly had the effect of revealing that underneath the British manners and language, the breathtaking English castle and Ralph Lauren clothing, Downton Abbey is at heart an adult soap opera with a plot out of Dynasty or Knots Landing so obviously soapy that no pretty set dressings or hoity-toity references to The Lady of Shalott could disguise it.
  2. The action centers around a house party to cheer up Lady Mary and bring some pre-war pomp back, except with dastardly guests in the form of a poker cheat victimizing the aristocratic males and ‘to up the ante’, in the servant side of the episode, the valet of Lord Gillingham, Mr. Green, moves from flirting with Anna to raping her with musical accompaniment from Puccini as sung by a visiting opera singer.
  3. My description may seem glib but I feel like I am only treating the assault as seriously as the show, as the effects of a sexual assault on a settled TV power couple has been done frequently in soaps and within the show the gambling debts of the rich men (the gambling debts and the rape are both topics that are not shared with the victims’ spouses incidentally) are resolved within the episode by Edith’s beau Michael Gregson with his own card sharp skills viewed as “gentlemanly” by Lord Grantham especially as they erased his own debts and thus the need to come clean with his wife.
  4. The episode was not all dark as there was some comedy of manners elements; Mosely’s shame at working as a footman after being a butler/valet, a footman making the sauces for dinner, servants listening to an opera singer and indeed the awkwardness of the opera singer joining the family dinner table.
  5. The best moment of the night is one that gives me hope for the season going forward, as Lady Mary suggests she is as much sad or guilty over the loss of the passionate (read:horny) person she was with Matthew as she is over losing Matthew so hopefully a return of passion means more positive storylines and hopefully less trite ones as well.

5-Sentence Review of Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 1

DontonAbbey

Downton Abbey” | Series 4, Episode 1 | Original air date: Jan. 5, 2014 (U.S.)

  1. The death of Matthew Crawley at the end of Season 3 left things in a state of grief, a state perfected by the dour English, and when combined with the usual sterling dialogue, ambiance and exacting sense of time and place meant Season 4 started as strong as “Downton Abbey” ever has.
  2. It is hard to overstate how enjoyable the dialogues of “Downton Abbey” are: well-crafted and amusing sentences — as opposed to the pun and pop culture based conversations of say “Gossip Girl” or a rapid-fire Aaron Sorkin script — with sentences entered at the speed and in the circumstances of actual humans.
  3. Grief over Matthew’s death was palpable but impacted three stories particularly, Joseph Molesley search for a job after being Matthew’s valet, Isobel Crawley helping Charles Grigg (Carson’s partner on the stage) and finding the her life can still hold purpose after her son’s death and Mary Crawley grieving her husband’s death most awakens from grief over the course of the episode through tough love from Carson the Butler, encouragement in a found will from Matthew bequeathing everything to Mary and an apprenticeship of sorts to Tom Branson, agent of the estate and widow of Sybil Crawley, an apprenticeship that looks like it might blossom into more.
  4. Grief over Matthew is prominent but the emotion is thickened by a sadness over changes in society like the introduction of contraptions like mixers and vacuums (part of why Moseley is struggling to find a valet position) and changes in society, like Edith Crawley and editor Michael Gregson able to eat in public in a restaurant (the scandal!) and perhaps able to marry if Michael can get a quicky German divorce.
  5. Societial changes have not prevented references like “being as rich as King Croesus” and a reference to King Canute that I did not understand but all the same enjoyed for not being served up like like batting practice meatballs during a MLB All-Star Game Home Run Derby.

An Early 2013 Oscars Ranking: Best Performance by a Cat in Oscar-y Movie

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The pick of the litter, Ulysses from Inside Llewyn Davis, holds the movie together a bit like Wilson the volleyball.  Ulysses is the housecat of Mitch Gorfein, Upper West side sociology professor who lets Llewyn crash on the couch in exchange for being introduced as the “folk singer friend” of the family to a parade of dinner guests.  Llewyn lacks tact in his personal relationships and any sort of charm or polish in his professional ones but when Ulysses escapes from the Gorfein’s apartment, Llewyn shows a streak of sentimentality for Ulysses’ welfare previously reserved for his now deceased music partner.

Llewyn loses Ulysses, finds the cat later and returns it to the Gorfein apartment.  Staying for dinner, Llewyn is asked to play something for the dinner guests; already upset over the days events and not inclined to sing for his supper in the best of moods. He yells at Lillian Gorfein for joining in on the part of a duet sung by his deceased partner.  Lillian leaves the dinner table in tears and hearing a fresh tearful gale from her, Llewyn is about to leave but is blocked by an angry Lillian informing him that this is not their male cat Ulysses, the cat Llewyn returned is a female.  This cat plays more of a supporting role and isn’t even named but does lead to the dinner scene being punctuated with the line, “Where’s the scrotum, Llewyn?? Where’s the scrotum?”

More of an ensemble casting are the three cats of Brenda who runs the wire room in the FBI in Amercan Hustle.   This heist movie had involved Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper competing with each other to control the details on an operation to entrap some con artists and politicians for the FBI, but the Amy Adams character shows she has something to contribute by enlisted the help of the previously denied Brenda, by involving her directly rather than getting FBI authorization to wire funds.  Getting on Brenda’s good side involves gifts, inclusive small talk and complements towards the cats that are pictured about the wire room.

If I had the to single out one of the three cats, it would be (by a whisker) the third who is a “bit of a piano player,” with the photo of a cat running across piano keys the proof.  This scene conning a lonely cat person was played for laughs and I might have chuckled more if I was not watching the movie with my mom, who owns cats and can be lonely on occasion, and the movie might be positing in the scene that lonely people can be duped by taking advantage of their loneliness.  Ultimately, the Bradley Cooper character, overly ambitious FBI agent and least sympathetic to Brenda, gets it in the end.  Kudos to Amy Adams; she acts great as a cat lover here in addition to great work opposite animals (albeit of the puppet variety) in The Muppets.

Bottom of the list is Jonah Hill in Wolf of Wall Street.  Not a cat per se, but a good spot to place his sub-par performances.  It feels like a hipster attitude to appreciate the acting of Jonah Hill, in the way hipsters do things ironically sometimes. Anyway, Jonah Hill also kinda looks like a cat and eats a goldfish in Wolf of Wall Street.

5 sentence review of ‘The Returned: Victor’

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Season 1, Episode 4: “The Victor”

  1. This fourth episode different as it was interrupted by holiday activity and also felt a bit tonally different matching for perhaps the first time the description of another tv critic (Chris Ryan? Andy Greenwald?) who stated The Returned looks like horror/gothic series but is actually a soap opera.
  2. As Neil Diamond would say, love is on the rocks in this ep: twins Lena and Camille fight for (or at least in front of) Frederic, Adele reconnects with returned ex but Thomas has a secret about Simon’s death that has her crying, and Claire throws Jerome out of the house for hitting Lena a year early, that left her with some weird bruise that is now spreading.
  3. More interesting is that town do-gooder Pierre is revealed as one of the men who burgled his home 30 years ago, leading to his death and Victor, no saint himself at present, may not say much beyond his name but has helpfully drawn scenes of the nosy neighbor dead with a gaping stomach wound in crayon on graph paper, complete with on-looking happy cat.
  4. Lost captured attention by drawing out a new characters past most weeks and having a host of mysteries to mull over but like Lost, I am starting to fear The Returned may not have anything to hold everything together, the French cool of the show has been more style than solidity.
  5. There are only 4 more episodes from season 1 rather than the 120 from Lost‘s run, so I can fire up Episode 5 here knowing that I am if nothing else in the home stretch.

5-sentence review of ‘Almost Human: Skin’

Season 1, Episode 2: “Skin”

Original air date: Nov. 18, 2013

  1. The follow-up to the pilot of Almost Human looked to excite by showing the “skin” of some sex androids and to pull the heartstrings with the abduction of a mother from her tow-headed child but the clinical plot execution produced neither passion nor pathos.Almost_Human_(TV_series)_logo
  2. Fortunately everything else worked so I am in for another week of easy enjoyable TV, much like Sleepy Hollow which follows it.
  3. The cop partners’ back-and-forth works, the flirting with the beautiful Minka Kelly holds promise and the special effect bits remained a plus, a concern as some show’s atmospheric ambitions drop off after a pricey pilot.
  4. The juvenile and horny android tech support Rudy remains a highlight and I half hoped one of the alluring androids might have stayed around to titillate the shy Rudy a bit longer.
  5. The Syndicate storyline from the pilot was set aside this week, a concern as some shows can become re-imagined in response to a pilot, but the previews for future episodes suggests some good ideas, more partner banter and more smiles from Minka.

5-sentence review of ‘The Returned: Julie’

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Season 1, Episode 3

  1. This episode of The Returned continues the good work of the series but it was more of a Mad Men-satisfying and engaging episode with not much seeming to happen rather than a Breaking Bad-jaw-dropping, I-can’t-catch-my-breath-after-what-just-happened episode.
  2. Sure, the nosy neighbor Mademoiselle Payet dies and titular character Julie is revealed as a victim to the same guy on the loose from 7 years ago but these actions are handled with the detachment and cool of the French or Don Draper languidly avoided the latest scheme of the more active, decided less cool Pete Campbell.
  3. The slow, easy pace works well and the restraint is an interesting contrast to shows like The 4400 or Boardwalk Empire that aim to deliver atmosphere and interesting plot but feel cluttered with things to capture viewers and then tend to fall off a bit visually when the big name pilot director passes the baton to the show runner.
  4. The satisfying elements this week centered around the Consigny family as parents Claire and Jerome debate moving to start a new life where Camille can go out and public and they can rekindle their own relationship and Camille and Lena have a sisterly rivalry that was probably always there but is now tinged by anger and guilt.
  5. I see that “Victor” is the title of next week’s installment and am looking forward to it; his return to life felt different from the others we have seen and his role this week in the death of the nosy neighbor and Julie confusing him with him her attacker 7 years earlier gives Victor a sense of terror that belies his little boy demeanor.

Memphis Paul’s 5-sentence review of ‘Almost Human’ pilot

  1. Almost Human is a show I might ordinarily opt out on as a new show without sparkling critical reviews but given my surprise at enjoying debutants Sleepy Hollow and Brooklyn Nine-Nine I thought I would give it a shot and low and behold the pilot was very enjoyable.Almost_Human_(TV_series)_logo
  2. If you liked RoboCop and Total Recall for their futuristic flourishes, Almost Human will similarly impress; the details are interesting and related to the plot, especially as the android partner Dorian, a discarded design, differs from the preferred, newer androids the police department pairs with human cops.
  3. I liked the performances across the board; John Kennex (Karl Urban) as the returning from injury old school cop, Dorian (Michael Ealy) as the dated, more emotional (and colloquial) android partner, Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) as the smart and supportive analyst playing the Sandra Bullock role from Demolition Man, Rudy Lom (MacKenzie Crook) as the juvenile and nerdy tech support for the androids and Captain Sandra Maldonado (Lili Taylor) whose serious nature always felt weird in roles in Six Feet Under, High Fidelity and I Shot Andy Warhol but is a natural fit as the serious but supportive role of Captain here.
  4. The pilot plot worked in the episode and as a platform going forward; a crime group called The Syndicate ambushed John Kennex and his partner with suspicions of inside help and they launched an attack on the cop precinct to get some crucial item in police evidence lock-up, so those conflicts should continue with the occasional procedural crime show episodes thrown in for spice.
  5. My fear with JJ Abrams shows is they start brightly before falling off but the pilot has bought my attention for a few more episodes.

5-sentence review of ‘The Returned: Simon’

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Season 1, Episode 2: “Simon”

Original air date: Nov. 26, 2012 (France); Currently airing on the Sundance Channel

  1. One element that took the whole of the pilot for me to appreciate was The Returned did not mean a return of all those who died in a bus accident 4 years before, rather a return of a girl twin (Camille) from that accident, an 20ish man (Simon) returning to a frightened fiancé who seemed to have dealt with his returned presence before and 30ish lady’s return to the life of her now 60ish husband Mr. Costa whose reaction of burning old photos and his apartment (with her in it) and then jumping off the damn speaks to being as jaded as that of Groundhog Day alum Bill Murray in his 5th Wes Anderson movie.
  2. While parents welcoming a young daughter back is largely joyous, Simon’s fiancé is now dating a local policeman and has been raising their daughter on their own; the flashbacks of their happiness ten years before are joyous as well but this adult relationship feels more complex and risky for being so happy.
  3. Even Camille and her family’s bliss lasted an episode if that, with the father and now older sister cynical and hurt and the mother more accepting, having had a hopeful spiritual attitude that Camille would return one day.
  4. There is also the curious case of eponymous “Victor“, who I suspect is somehow the patient zero of the returned phenomenon who has been taken in by a young woman (Julie) living in Simon’s fiancé’s old apartment, who is questioning of this tight lipped young man but seems too lonely to turn him over to the authorities.
  5. All the above is merely plot, everything is imbued with atmosphere and French cool, with odd tidbits to follow.

Bits and Bobs:

  • Local hangout “Lake Pub” is about my favorite watering hole since Dark Shadow‘s “Blue Whale”
  • Game of Thrones has been descried/ praised for using something called “sexposition”, bringing the weighty exposition of the dense plot of the book series to the screen through plot explanations given by cat house owner Littlefinger and others over the top of various sex scenes.  Exposition is a tricky business, as you often need background on character to understand the plot/care about the characters and not everything can be easily inferred through character actions.  Mademoiselle Payet, the nosy neighbor of Julie, serves to deliver exposition in that she is always asking questions/gossiping with neighbor Julie and those who knock on her door but it does not feel forced.  Mademoiselle Payet just has that personality, it is natural for her.
  • Creepy town parish priest Father Jean-François played by Jérôme Kircher  bears a striking resemblance in appearance and bearing to Michael Parks, regular occurring actor in Quentin Tarantino movies.  Maybe Jérôme Kircher shows up in Tarantino’s homage to French New Wave.

Series Premiere of the Sundance Channel’s ‘The Returned: Camille’

Season 1, Episode 1: “Camille”
Original air date: Oct. 31, 2013

  1. Sundance Channel has had a few tv series successes with “Rectify” and “Top of the Lake” and it looks like it has another with an adaptation of the French horror series, released on Halloween, in The Returned.
  2. The concept of the show feels like The 4400, a Spielberg produced series about a group of 4400 people returned from alien abduction.
  3. This is different in that these people were essentially dead and not abducted and this helps cement the change of mood to horror here.
  4. These returning thought-dead teens are more terrifying for the blasé attitude about their return, although the French are blasé about everything except their cheese and wine.
  5. I enjoyed the pilot but hope my interest does not wane after the mystery of the health of the returned is explained and the newness of their interactions with their former families normalizes.

Top 5 Similarity Scores for Boston Red Sox David Ross, by Beard

Memphis Paul: A Defense of ‘Trophy Wife’ and A Critique of ‘Breaking Bad’ finale

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My colleague Paragraph Dan looks to be out on “Trophy Wife”.  This feels like a good choice for Dan.  But I would say this does not mean that “Trophy Wife” is necessarily bad.  One, I would say Dan is less interested in family shows than say comic book adaptations or shows with decapitations.  Two, Dan likes to be entertained from his entertainment whereas I like mind entertainment that takes chances or has a different approach at the risk of being entertaining.

“Trophy Wife” is like “Treme,” a quality show that does not entertain.  A family show that Dan likes, “Modern Family” is entertaining but is not “different”, it is a classic 4 camera sitcom, the jokes are mainly right on the surface and Phil Dunphy mugs at the camera like Carol Bennett.  Rare is the show that entertains and differentiates. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” probably comes closest of the new network shows.

Dan mentions the soccer ball to the groin as being a standard sitcom style joke that occurs in Episode 2.  A similar incident occurs in the pilot, new wife Kate (Malin Akerman) guzzles some vodka to spare new step-daughter from punishment from her mom and acts drunk the rest of the episode.  These plot points are sitcom standards but I feel like the show is putting those incidents out in front to show how this show is a little different in how they are dealt with.

In the “Dads” pilot, there was a phallic text sent to the Asian American character dressed as “Sailor Moon” by a visiting client.  The four male leads gather around the phone to make standard sitcom jokes of what the phallus looks like, a walrus wearing a bowler hat or similar nonsense.  On “Trophy Wife”, when child takes a soccer ball shot to the groin, it is addressed but in the way an embarrassing injury to a child would actually be addressed, with concern, slight mocking and an air that this happens weekly as part of child-rearing, the realistic reaction, not played for laughs.  “Trophy Wife” is not laugh out loud funny because life isn’t…it can be occasionally but more than that and the show would not feel realistic.

Breaking Bad‘ finale

You may say, “I want to be entertained, not observe something realistic.” That is for the best but occasionally a lack of realism can throw a wrench into something that is otherwise thoroughly entertaining…like “Breaking Bad’s” finale.  I would not say it was bad, far from it.  But it was another case of Dan and I having different sensibilities.bee823a69ea045ebb80c92f374051488

Dan really liked the finale.  I had some quibbles that Dan brushed aside.  Basicly, I really liked how the penultimate episode ended things; for me, it would have been the dark feel I would prefer for the end to the show.  It felt bleak but real; while the drug war is unending, the career of the drug dealer is short and violent and ends unhappily.  The “Breaking Bad” finale moves the story to a better place for all the main characters than where the narrative ended in the penultimate episode.

Marie gets to bury her husband, Finn will get money on his 18th birthday, Skylar is given a card to play with her prosecutors, Jesse drives away from the neo-Nazi slave pit with an emotion that Aaron Paul describes as “freedom” on “Talking Bad” and Walt dies but gets to do it his way a la Sinatra.  Walt sees his family, is honest to Skylar, outwits Lydia, kills the Nazis and lovingly caresses his meth lab setup before dying.

The ending was great fan service (and in opposition to the selfish attitudes of the “Difficult Men” showrunners) but the lack of realism combined with a flawless ending got in the way of the enjoyment for me.  The show has always been honest in the storytelling aspects of this action leads to this, and this consequence, and on and on but the lack of realism (Jesse comments on Walt’s incredible luck) bothered me a bit in the finale, where Walt’s plans could crater catastrophically with no more episodes to follow.

Memphis Paul’s 5-Sentence Review of ‘Trophy Wife’ Pilot

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  1. On the basis of positive press clippings, I tried out Trophy Wife, a show that gets a lot out of charismatic actors acting realistically even in screwball sitcom situations
  2. Malin Akerman (Silk Spector in Watchmen) has not been in a lot of stuff but is not overmatched as a third wife with many new step children in her new family.
  3. A little bit Stepmom and a little bit a less melodramatic Parenthood, Malin downs vodka to spare her new stepdaughter a lecture from her uptight mom.
  4. It is a concept that Chuck Lorre would turn into a string of one liners but on Trophy Wife it is more like the biggest fiasco of the day for a family that is accustomed to fiascos everyday and does not shrink from them or feel the need to play them up as a bigger conflict than they actually are.
  5. Maybe the best analogy is Cougar Town with a focus on family rather than adult relationships, as the jokes are not forced rather the result of interesting people using humor to make interacting with one another more pleasant.