08 March 2015

TV Watcher: 03/01/15 - 03/07/15

03.01.15 - 03.07.15

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH 101/102. "Alive in Tuscon/The Elephant in the Room". Now THIS is how you open a series. For months, FOX has advertised THE LAST MAN ON EARTH sporadically, with each new blurb and TV spot heightening my excitement for this project more and more. Add in the involvement of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the duo behind LEGO MOVIE and 21 JUMP STREET), who also directed the two-part premiere, and there was zero chance I was skipping this series. Turns out, within the opening fifteen minutes of lunacy and isolation Phil Miller undergoes as he realizes, for some unexplained reason, he's the only man left alive after a virus outbreak, the show already hooked me. It managed to balance the somberness of Phil's realization with the comedy of Phil horsing around, with the world as his playground. 

The big question inherent in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is, could this be sustainable as a series? Thanks to a clever secret revealed in the premiere episode and the direction episode two sets the series towards, yes, there's so much that can be mined from this premise. Will Forte easily sheds my distaste for him after the dismal MACGRUBER and creates a hilarious, empathetic character who's just given up, and as episode two rolls around and he's faced with a different but familiar living situation, his frustration and charm are beautifully leveled. And major props to the series for adding Alexandra Daddario in a hilarious and tempting cameo. Poor Phil Lord. 

In 43 minutes, this series has won me over, and the prospect of spending the next couple weeks watching Phil Lord mess everything up and acclimate to his new situation is irresistible. Excellent series, excellent work. Grade: A+

EPISODES 409. "Episode Nine". Well, that went by quickly. Season 4 feels like it just began, and here we are, already at the end. Was the ride worth it? EPISODES the series has always enjoyed a rather gradual pace that eventually culminates in a finale that twists things towards another direction, like last year's PUCKS is cancelled-but-now-resurrected-cos-of-higher-ups-bitch-fights, and this season ends on a note that doesn't inspire the most enthusiasm. The whole season has been rather light on comedic moments and a plot interesting enough to keep my attention, becoming more or less a show that I can rely on airing this time of year instead of a show I need to be steadfast and watch like some addiction. Real good story and comedic material could have been mined with everyone and the writers begrudgingly brought back to work on PUCKS, the show everyone in the cast and crew hate, but instead it's glossed over relatively quickly so the characters can concentrate on their new show in development. There's a fun Carol falling for people of power subplot that works extremely well for several episodes only to turn sour in a jealous-rivalry storyline. Even Matt gets two cool chances to stand out - a quasi-reunion with his ex-wife and a reluctant partnership with Lapedius. But, sadly, all these storylines end on a bit of a whimper.

Overall, the weakest season of EPISODES yet, but still a somewhat satisfying adventure. With a season five renewal (as far as I understand it) still up in the air, regardless of what direction the wind blows, it's been a great run, and a fun series to watch. Season Grade: B-

SHAMELESS 507. "Tell Me You Fucking Need Me". After the amazeballs season 4 mid-credits surprise of Jimmy/Steve's apparent resurrection, the Fiona/Jimmy reunion was the storyline I was looking forward to the most this season, and it didn't disappoint. Initially, I suppose I was in the camper van of folks who would like to see their relationship rekindled, but as these three episodes pointed out, y'know, Jimmy isn't exactly a good guy. He's a thief, a liar, and a manipulator who uses situations to his advantage. How their relationship concludes with this episode is sublime. After dealing with her "unfinished business", Fiona realizes it's time to move on, as difficult as it may be, and Jimmy rides away, motorcyclin' into the night. It was a fine line the writers walked with these two characters this season, and the end result was immensely satisfying. Although, sadly, I do now have to recognize this is the last of Dichen Lachman we'll see on the show. She's a terrific actress (see: DOLLHOUSE), and it would have been preferable to see her get an expanded role, but even a tiny bit of Dichen is better than no Dichen. 

Watching Ian's reluctance to acknowledge his bipolar disorder is heartbreaking, as if Mickey being shaken up after seeing his boyfriend's aloofness. Debbie finally winning the boy was a wonderfully light and heartwarming moment in a series of grim storybeats, and the Frank and Sammi's dynamic reaches a threatening crescendo (not the best subplot, but they have to give these characters something to do, I suppose). As it stands, Lip and Fiona's storylines are the most compelling, and although the likelihood of either Gallagher getting it easy for the remaining season 5 episodes is unlikely, I can't wait to see what happens next. Although, I can, sorta, cos I don't want this season to end . . . Grade: B+

JUSTIFIED 607. "The Hunt". It's all coming to an end. There are two standout sequences this episode: (1) Art and Markham having a face-to-face. If there's been only one strength this sixth season has mastered, it's these amazingly gripping dialogue bits with Markham and another character, be it Raylan, Boyd, Ava, or Art. It's a testament to the strength of Sam Elliot's delivery and piercing stare, but also to the extraordinary writing. This episode delivers a Art/Markham scene that will probably pay off later, but for now, it was just marvelous watching two pro speakers and actors playing off one another. (2) The Boyd/Ava scene out in the woods, where all gets revealed, and Boyd is faced with a terrifying thought about his sorta-fiance. It was inevitable that Boyd would find out, but I was, I suppose, hoping for more. As of yet, the Ava working for the Marshals has yielded no helpful results. There's been so much emphasis on her emotional state - and understandably so - but she has yet to really help the Marshals in any major way, and now the likelihood is Boyd will ask for Ava's help to steer and manipulate the Marshals to his will. For as strong as Joelle Carter has been this season, her character has less impressive. 

It's been too long, but Winona is back on our screens! It's a pleasure to see the beautiful Natalie Zea back in the JUSTIFIED universe, and I am all too pleased at the understanding she and Raylan arrive at near episodes end. That being said, it pretty much spells doom for these characters - the likelihood of a happy ending for these two is, shall we say, fairly slim. Another great element of this episode - and this season overall - has been Garrett Dillahunt as Ty Walker, who's now on the run from the Marshals and Markham, making him a dangerous beast. Each scene he's in with another character always has this edge to it, this sense that he could strike a lethal blow at any second, or that he's always in control of the situation no matter how dire. After the highly depressing departure of Choo-Choo last week, Ty is still strong enough a character to keep me glued, and now as a dangerous man with no allegiances, it'll be interesting to see where this goes. Mere episodes left . . . not ready for this to end. Grade: A-

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