May 2017 TV

Current: 8 out of 10 Cats, American Gods, Animal Kingdom, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dear White People, Gap Year, Grantchester, I Love Dick, iZombie, Jane the Virgin, Making History, Riverdale, Sense8, Taskmaster, The Americans, The Fake News Show, The Graham Norton Show, The Handmaid’s Tale, Trial and Error, Veep

Pilots tried: Campus (awful), Guerilla (somehow boring, despite cast and premise), White Gold (might give it a shot)

may2017tv

Things of note:

Dear White People

I guess a lot of people agreed with me in thinking that the concept would work better as a series than as a movie, and so here we are. This was mostly pretty great and compelling–it definitely nailed the Netflix binge-pacing. Some of the recasting of the characters from the movie was…less than ideal;okay, mostly just the Lionel recasting– Tyler James Williams is just so good, and the new guy has some super weird line readings that feel unnatural/stilted rather than intentionally in-character for the awkward/nerdy guy he’s playing. I don’t think I’m in a position to provide any more in-depth commentary about the actual content of the show, but also it’s now been like over two months since I watched it, so I can’t actually remember what, specifically, there would be to say on a deeper level.

Also, clearly shot at UCLA, and I have a lot of feelings about that campus.


Grantchester

Oh, Sydney Chambers. So hot and so sad. I put off watching this season, but that was a mistake: it’s maybe the hottest and saddest season so far.

As is often the case with this sort of series, it’s hard to get invested in the procedural elements. And as much as I don’t care about the details of each case of the week, the vicar-detective concept remains cute and the Sidney/Geordie dynamic is golden. Plus, I’m not sure what the plot in each episode would be without them–the season-long arcs are solid, but not quite enough to fill the entire show, I guess, and it’s already sort of edging on the Downton Abbey style of episodic check-ins to repeat the same information (“So, Sidney, you’re still in love with Amanda but unwilling to leave the Church for her?” “Yep, and I’m super sad about it. Geordie, you’re still cheating on your wife with Margaret?” “Yep, and I’m super defensive about it. Let’s do this again next week.”)–although to be fair to Grantchester, it’s not quite as static.

I kind of wish the show had the guts to have Sidney actually leave the Church (it was super hot when he temporarily did), and the ending of the season was super frustrating, but as I think about it more, I do have to concede that his decision to remain a vicar and give up his relationship with Amanda is fully supported by the writing. Even if he doesn’t believe in the Church’s rules–hell, even if he doesn’t actually believe in God–without the implicit trust that comes with the collar, Sidney would no longer be able to help out with murder cases, and the value of that sort of hands-on community service is kind of the whole basis of the series. But man, what about love?


Great News

Briga Heelan is super charming, and this is probably a better showcase for her talents than Ground Floor (which was, like, fine, but not especially memorable). Andrea Martin annoyed the shit out of me on Working the Engels, but she’s put to better use here, I guess? The Chico’s references just did not get old.

In all, a lot of good jokes, but also a lot of tired sitcom tropes; still, it seems like the sort of sitcom that will be really amazing in its second and third seasons (see also: Parks and Rec, Happy Endings), after the first season’s “establishing the premise and basic relationships” mission is accomplished. I’m excited to see the show become more itself–to find more of a unique voice, spend more time on different characters/pairings, explore more of its weird world, etc. God, I just love half-hour sitcoms.


Trial and Error

Sure, another charming half-hour sitcom. Comparable to Parks and Rec, with the mockumentary style and world-building, although some of the small-town character quirks were a little too broad or weird for my tastes.


I Love Dick

This was…not for me, probably, and yet I still watched it all in two days (I was sick, though). But it did something new and interesting, especially for a show with half-hour episodes, and if that is your Thing, it’s probably amazing.

 

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