Feelin’ TV: February 6, 2018

Of the 5 largest comebacks in NFL playoff history, the Kansas City Chiefs have been on the losing end of two. In 2014, Andrew Luck, the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, recovered a fumble by running back Donald Brown and ran it for a touchdown en route to a 28 point second half comeback. Just last month the Chiefs were defeated by the Tennessee Titans, overcoming a 21-3 deficit. At one point, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariotta threw a pass that he then caught when it was batted back in his direction and proceeded to run it into the end zone for an unlikely (and unprecedented) playoff touchdown. The last time the Chiefs won more than one playoff game in the same season, I was 12. They’re 5-14 in the post season in my lifetime. It’s hard to dispute this fact: the Kansas City Chiefs are cursed. I root for a cursed football franchise. Because there’s very little chance that I’ll ever be able to experience championship joy, I find my enjoyment of Super Bowl Sunday in tasty food and in the commercials.

Something that I find interesting is that if you look at all of the Super Bowl ads in a year, you’ll often find that a theme emerges. The 2017 Super Bowl found America at the tail end of the 2016 vicious election cycle that divided the nation in ways that we had never seen before. In response, last year’s ads were quite a bit more subdued than normal and advocated things like unity, tolerance and service. It was fine. Honestly, I don’t remember one of them. This year though, the theme that I saw emerge was one of self-referential parody that aimed to just have a little fun. From Mountain Dew’s decision to give us Morgan Freeman without actually giving us his voice (besides the little stinger at the end) to the weeks long set up of a Crocodile Dundee reboot that was actually just a tourism spot, most of these ads just wanted to cut loose and have some fun. My two favorite commercials/sets of commercials that played around with its format are the Chris Pratt Michelob ads and most everyone’s pick for best commercial(s), the Tide ads.

The Michelob ad campaign is one that I haven’t heard mentioned much in the reading I’ve done about the best commercials since the game. While the first commercial isn’t anything special on its own (unless, like me, you have a large man-crush on Chris Pratt), the payoff is pretty funny as Pratt’s beer commercial training ends up with him being cast as an extra in a beer commercial. What makes the campaign stand out though, is the second ad where we see the actual commercial referenced in the first ad, complete with Pratt in the background of every scene. I like a campaign that rewards you for paying attention the whole game, and this one definitely did that in spades.

 

The easy winner of the night was Tide, which is good because they need a PR win with all of this Tide Pod Challenge nonsense going on. 33 years ago, Apple aired it’s famous 1984 ad during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII and it’s a commercial that is still talked about in marketing classes to this day (well, at least it was in 2016, the last year I was in a marketing class). I have a feeling that this Tide campaign could be one that is talked for years to come as well. What started out as a funny-ish send up of stock Super Bowl commercials then became an unpredictable series of shorts that made you think that any other commercial could possibly be a Tide ad. It’s completely brilliant. I watched every commercial for the rest of the night, regardless of the product, thinking about Tide.

 

And as a bonus, here’s a commercial that I’ll probably forget by next week, but I found it to be really, really funny when it first aired. Kudos to Sprint for breaking out of the mundane tendency of cell phone ads to simply try and up the ante of situations in which it can put a spokesman.

 

What were your favorite Super Bowl commercials? Sound off in the comments or in the Facebook group.

 

Channel Surfing:

  • Did you keep watching after the Super Bowl to see This Is Us? I waited until Monday because I was too busy enjoying the thought of Tom Brady having a good cry to have one of my own. Once I got around to it, the tears started flowing early and often as we finally saw the heroic way in which Jack Pearson died. It was a great episode and the final scene gave us a glimpse into where the show might go from here. This season has been great, but there has also been a long shadow cast by the inevitability of Jack’s death. With that particular plot point having been revealed, I’m excited to see what’s next.
  • I watch a lot of TV, so I can be a hard viewer to surprise. That’s why I’m such a big fan of The Good Place. After a first season finale that caught me completely off guard, the show disrupted the status quo time after time in season two in ways that I didn’t see coming at all. The season two finale was one of my favorites so far (Ted Danson behind a bar? Yes, please!) and set itself up for a hell of a season 3.

That’s all for this week! As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. 


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: January 30, 2018

“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal…People know me…I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” – Anchorman

Sometimes a show or a movie comes along that transcends its own entertainment value and achieves a level of importance based on its subject matter and the time in which it is made. A lot of films (or TV, music, etc.) fall short of the so called “important” label either by abandoning all subtlety and beating you over the head with its message or, like the great Ron Burgundy (quoted above), by coming off a bit too proud of itself for being so damned important. A recent example of the latter is Steven Spielberg’s The Post. The Post is a really good movie with some really good performances by a really, really good cast. It’s also a really important movie in a time when the reliability of the press is constantly under fire. I very much enjoyed it. If you listen closely, though, there’s this little voice, not a loud voice but it’s a persistent voice, whispering “I’m very important” into your ear in every frame. The fact that The Post is a film starring two of a generation’s greatest acting talents and made by one of our greatest living directors serves to illustrate my point that making entertainment that is “important” is not at all simple.

Onto this razor’s edge between relevance and afterthought comes The CW’s Black Lightning. Packed with conflict taken straight from the front pages, Black Lightning tells the story of Jefferson Pierce, an inner city high school principal and retired superhero forced back into the world of vigilantism when the crime and corruption in his city of Freeland knocks on his front door. Through two episodes, the show adeptly straddles that line between preachy and self-aggrandizement to tell a story that is both entertaining and, I’ll go ahead and say it, important.

Black Lightning achieves this balancing act with a combination of solid performances and real-world complex drama. Cress Williams is perfect as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning. His physicality commands every scene he’s in. He’s an imposing character who is absolutely believable as both a tough-as-nails inner city principal and as a masked crime fighter to be feared. Aside from Williams, the bulk of the drama has been adeptly handled by China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams and Christine Adams who play Pierce’s two daughters and his ex-wife, respectively. Adams has been particularly good as the concerned spouse for whom Pierce gave up the Black Lightning mantle in the first place. If she’s the anti-vigilante angel on his left shoulder, James Remar’s Peter Gambi is the superhero enabling devil on his right. Remar hasn’t had much to do through the first couple of episodes, but he’s the kind of actor who you can count on making the most of what he gets and his turn in Black Lightning is no exception. The tug of war on the soul of Jefferson Pierce’s soul between those two perspectives has carried more heft than most anything else being put out there by comic book shows now days (and this is coming from a guy who watches/loves them all).

Bottom line: The heroes are virtuous, the threat of evil is tangible, and the answers to what the city of Freeland needs are not easy solutions. It’s only January, but Black Lightning is already setting itself up to be one of the best new shows of the year. Give it a shot for yourself to see what you think. I’m sure this won’t be the last that we talk about it this season. Old episodes of Black Lightning can be viewed on The CW app and new episodes air on Tuesday nights on the network.

 

Channel Surfing:

  • Great News ended it’s second season on a high note this week with an episode that may end up being not only the season-capper, but also the series finale. It has not yet been renewed by NBC and it’s looking more and more like it will not be back. Thursday’s show provided a satisfying end to the major arc of the second half of the season while getting off a few biting jabs at the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world. A series that started out as a poor-man’s 30 Rock really stepped out of that shadow to become it’s own thing this season and it would be a shame if it doesn’t return. So go watch it! I’ve never steered you wrong before. Season two of Great News can be streamed on Hulu. 
  • It’s been a good couple of months for Psych fans. First, we get Psych: The Movie in December and January saw the series become available to watch in its entirety on Amazon Prime. It’s not a great show, but it’s a whole lot of dumb fun. Sometimes that’s just what you need at the end of a long day.
  • The Paramount Channel (formerly known as Spike TV) launched their six part miniseries Waco this week about the infamous 1993 standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidians. Starring Taylor Kitsch as the cult leader David Koresh and Michael Shannon as Gary Noesner (the real life FBI hostage negotiator on whose book the series is based), the series looks to be one that will attempt to tell the whole story without merely playing the blame game. There will be more coverage here of this one in the coming weeks.

That’s all for this week! As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. 


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: Top Shows of 2017

Feelin’ TV is back for 2018! Before we get too far in to the television of the new year, I wanted to take my first week to look back at my favorite five shows from 2017.

5) The Crown

If there is one thing that I hate more than British costume drama, it’s the obsession that a large portion of American society has with the comings and goings in the British Royal Family. The fact that The Crown manages to be both while also being one of my favorite shows that I watched last year is absolutely astounding to me. It succeeds because of its performances (John Lithgow as Winston Churchill is astounding) and the way the writers include significant historical intrigue into their telling of the story of the longest serving British monarch. My favorite episodes thus far have been “Assasins” (S1E9) in which Churchill befriends an artist painting his portrait and “Vergangenheit” (S2E6) that sees the Queen consult a young Billy Graham as she weighs her personal desire to forgive against her positional responsibility to the appearance of justice. The first two seasons of The Crown can be streamed on Netflix.

 4) Better Call Saul

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Better Call Saul could have easily and lazily coasted to several seasons of solid ratings based solely on the success of Breaking Bad and it’s built in fan base. That Vince Gilligan and his crew have instead created a show with rich, fully realized characters, intricate stories and a lived-in setting is a remarkable achievement. Bob Odenkirk anchors the show as the sad sack Jimmy McGill who really did just want to go straight. Michael McKean steals every scene as his arrogant and cold older brother Chuck. My favorite episode from season three was “Chicanery” (S3E5) which managed to be satisfying and heartbreaking at the exact same time. The first two seasons of Better Call Saul can be streamed on Netflix

3) The Leftovers

One gets the impression that with The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof explores all of the things he wanted to with LOST without the restrictions put on storytelling in a network show. The Leftovers, much like LOST, provided many more questions than it did answers. Unlike LOST though, viewers of The Leftovers were never led to believe the answers were there to be had. The Leftovers is a show about moving on when there are no easy answers. It’s about coping with grief when the answers are unknowable. The Leftovers ended its run with one of the greatest series finales ever as characters resolved to love each other even in the mess. The Leftovers can be streamed with your HBO subscription.

2) Big Little Lies

There’s not much I can say about Big Little Lies that hasn’t been said elsewhere. It is deservedly one of the most awarded and critically acclaimed shows of 2017. The cast is fantastic. Reese Witherspoon is as good as she’s ever been. More than any show I’ve ever watched, the relational conflicts feel real because they’re rooted in actual, real-world issues. The central murder mystery, which not only leaves the viewer guessing about the perpetrator but also the victim, is never less than edge-of-your-seat tense. In a year that saw so many strong women stand up to inequality, harassment and abuse, Big Little Lies was the perfect show of 2017. Big Little Lies can be streamed with your HBO subscription. 

1) The Good Place

If I had been writing about TV in 2016, this would’ve been my #1 show back then as well. Here’s the thing, I’m an unashamed Michael Schur fanboy. Parks and Recreation and The Office are my two favorite sit-coms of all time. I’ve watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine from day one. I listen to his podcast about baseball every week. Shur’s work just speaks to me. I was predestined to love The Good Place no matter what. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that The Good Place is the best sit-com on TV whether you’re a Michael Schur fan or you’ve never heard of the guy (I’ll bet you have, in addition to being a writer and one time show runner on The Office, he also played the role of Dwight Schrute’s cousin/roommate Mose). The Good Place arrived with a completely realized setting in a way that you don’t see often. Most shows take a bit of time to figure out what they are or what they want to be, but you get the feeling that the writers of The Good Place knew everything about the world they built from the word “go” and anything we don’t yet know is because they don’t want us to know it, not because they haven’t figured it out yet.  On top of the setting The Good Place boasts two solid main characters in Kristen Bell and Ted Danson who are every bit as great as you’d expect them to be. And then you get to add the four other members of the main cast (William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden and Manny Jacinto), each of whom have emerged from relative obscurity to breakout character status, as the cherry on top. Season one ended with a twist that I thought the show could never top. Season two has shaken up the status quo every week to the point that I have no idea what is going to come next. It’s my favorite show of the year, and it’s number one on my list of shows you should be watching if you’re not already. Season one of The Good Place is currently streaming on Netflix and season two episodes can be found on Hulu.

 

Channel Surfing:

  • Runaways has been renewed by Hulu for a second season after a solid freshman debut. In my opinion, it fizzled a bit at the end, but there’s still quite a bit of promise for some good stories to be told in the future. I think later episodes showed some of the limitations of the young cast members, but the older members of the cast and the intriguing source material make it a show to continue to keep an eye on while the younger actors find their footing. Season one of Runaways can be viewed on Hulu.
  • Black Lightning premiered on The CW this week and it was a hell of a debut. The major theme of this superhero drama is racial injustice and it doesn’t appear to be interested in easy answers and mustache twirling villains. With plot lines ripped straight from the front pages of 2017 news, it’s a show that’s always going to be in danger of being soapbox-y, but the premiere managed to sidestep that pitfall. And even if it does slide to the preachy side of the pendulum from time to time, Black Lightning‘s point of view is one that we can always use more of. Give it a shot. Black Lightning airs on Tuesday nights on The CW

That’s all for this week! As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. 


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: November 20-26, 2017

Whenever a new movie/TV show is released based on a comic book property, the conversation about super hero fatigue begins. It gets louder every time, especially in months like this where the discussion around Thor: Ragnarok had barely died down before Justice League arrived in theaters. It’s completely understandable. A lot of people are burned out on the genre.
I do not suffer from that affliction. Give me more. I love the oversaturation. There is enough room in my heart for all of it. When I hear of something new, I’m all over it like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snow storm. I may not keep watching (Inhumans), I may quit watching and go back later because I have nothing else to do (Gotham), I may even hate watch (The Walking Dead) but more often than not, I watch and enjoy and put it securely in my regular rotation. It should be no surprise then, that I took the opportunity this week to check out (and fall in love with) Hulu’s new comic book series, Runaways.
Runaways is based on the Marvel comic of the same name. It’s set in the MCU along with the popular films and shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Inhumans, Daredevil, etc. It’s about six teenagers who find out that their parents are super villains who make up a team called Pride and begin to work together to thwart their plans. Along this journey of discovery, they also begin to develop powers of their own. I haven’t read the comic, so if you have, you probably have a better handle on what’s going on than I do at this point. From what I’ve read, fans of the print version have been pleased with the way the show has remained faithful to the source material. In the three episodes that have been released, creators Joshua Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have succeeded in crafting solid characters, both in the teens and their parents, not sacrificing the development of the villains in favor of the heroes. They’ve done so by taking their time to introduce characters and the world that they live in.
Hulu has been putting out some solid programming over the last few years. They seem to be a bit more concerned with quality over quantity in contrast to fellow streaming service Netflix. Thus far, Runaways continues that trend. It feels like more than an attempt to capitalize on the superhero craze. They’re laying the groundwork for a pretty intriguing story that I’m excited to add to the queue moving forward. Runaways is available on Hulu.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Arrowverse has a pretty big week coming up with their annual week of crossover episodes, so I had assumed that this week would mostly be table setting for that event. I was wrong. Supergirl saw the bittersweet return of Mon-El, The Flash came face to face with this season’s big bad The Thinker, Legends of Tomorrow had maybe the best Mick centered episode of the series and Oliver got arrested and vigilantes were made illegal in Star City on Arrow. But all of that will be on hold this week when all of the gang gets together for Barry and Iris’ wedding. Will everything run smoothly? Given that the whole ordeal is called Crisis on Earth-X, I’m guessing it won’t. It’s a tough thing to balance 4 shows into one storyline, but last season it was the best week of the year. Hopefully they can keep it up. Arrowverse shows can be seen on The CW.
  • This Is Us made me cry again this week. Chrissy Metz and Mandy Moore (Kate and Rebecca, respectively) play the two characters that get under my skin the most on that show (in a good way, like how members of your own family get under your skin). This week though, the story gave them both a chance to absolutely shine and they knocked it out of the park. I’ve heard people say that maybe the show leans a bit too heavy into sadness territory, and I think that’s a valid criticism, but I think the way it was portrayed this week was sensitive, thoughtful and accurate. Also, I’m going to start a petition to get NBC to give Toby his own show. I don’t care what it’s about. I just want more Toby. This Is Us airs weekly on NBC and past episodes can be seen on Hulu.

That’s all for this week. As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. Next week, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time talking about the Arrowverse crossover event and I’ll probably have a thing or two to say about the season premiere of the new season of Agents of SHIELD as well.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: October 30-November 5, 2017

I think that a mark of a good show is its re-watchability. Sometimes I’ll love something the first time, but when I have a chance to watch it over again, I have little to no interest. Some shows, like The Office, Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock for example, are shows that I can watch and enjoy, start to finish, over and over again. Then, there’s the rarest of rare shows that get better every time you watch. I’m talking about Arrested Development.

I watched AD for at least the 5th or 6th time this week and I’m still blown away by it. There are set ups in season one that aren’t paid off until season three. There are gags that run further than any other gags in television history. There are things that make me laugh that I can’t even tell if its intentional or not (is it weird to anyone else that they refer to jelly beans as “candy beans”?) In previous viewings, I’ve been blown away by the intricacy of the story, enamored with the ability of Will Arnett and Jessica Walter to take over every scene they’re in as Gob and Lucile, the awkward existence of Michael Cera as George Michael and the creepy energy of David Cross as Tobias. This time though, I couldn’t stop admiring the straight man, Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth.

The Bluth’s are wildly un-relatable. They’re rich, oblivious, and as characters, they’re ridiculously broad. I love each and every one of them, but I don’t think I would have been able to put up with them for more than an episode or two without Michael Bluth there to keep the show grounded…sort of. Through 3 seasons and 53 episodes (the Netflix season doesn’t count), whenever the rest of the Bluths threatened to take the show too far over the line into Crazy Town, Michael was there with a look or a perfectly timed quip to bring us right back down to earth. One of the biggest failings in Netflix’s attempt to bring the show back for a season four in my opinion is that Michael was as nuts as the rest of his family, losing its tether to normal people altogether. In a show full of perfectly cast characters, there may have been no one more perfectly suited to the show than Jason Bateman. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to give it a shot. If you have seen it, watch it again to rediscover its brilliance. Season five is coming in 2015 with a promise of episodes in the vein of seasons 1-3 and less season 4. Here’s hoping that’s the case. Arrested Development is available to stream on Netflix.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Arrowverse had a great week with a crazy fun episode of Supergirl involving Kara and Jonn flying a convertible to Mars, a Legends of Tomorrow that wrapped a tale about Ray Palmer’s childhood into an homage to ET and The Flash introduced Elongated Man into its universe. The best news this week though? MICHAEL EMERSON IS A BAD GUY ON ARROW! His character at this point seems to be the master of manipulation that we saw in Lost’s Ben Linus combined with the tech savy expertise of Person of Interest’s Mr. Finch. There may have been an audible squeal of glee in my living room when he showed up. This has been a stellar season all-around for the Arrowverse, and with Emerson around, it looks like it will continue trending up. The current season of Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow can be viewed on The CW app.
  • Thursday night NFL football is the worst. The games are always subpar because of the quick turnaround and the matchups are typically pretty lame. The worst part though, is that because of NBC’s commitment to Thursday Night Football, we don’t get to see any new episodes of The Good Place or Great News until the new year. Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but I hate TNF. Well, unless the Chiefs are playing. If you’re like me and you can see The Good Place withdrawals in your future, check out this video taken by Kristen Bell of the rest of the cast finding out about season one’s epic twist (spoilers, obvs).
  • I was remarking to a friend this week that out of all of my friends with kids, I don’t know anyone who has ever had a baby without making it to the hospital first (not counting my slightly crazy friends who have had their kids at home on purpose). But if my calculations are correct, roughly 90% of TV children are born that way. A This Is Us flashback added Randall’s oldest child to that statistic this week. It’s a pretty worn out trope, but overall, it was a strong episode that made me cry so I’ll forgive them for going to that well.
  • Oh, and The Walking Dead was awful. I’m going to need someone to spend some time in the Facebook group telling me why I should still be interested in this show.

That’s all for this week. As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. Happy viewing!


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: October 2-8, 2017

There’s a long and sordid history to the relationship between Marvel and 20th Century Fox when it comes to mutants. Marvel had the mutants, Fox bought the mutants, Fox made lots of money off of the mutants, Marvel would like to have the mutants back, but Fox, understandably, is a fan of making all of the money. In lieu of mutants, Marvel inserted Inhumans (who are pretty much space mutants as opposed to genetic mutants) into its MCU via the Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD program and had solid results that helped the show find its voice. Now Fox has its mutants and Marvel has its mutants and because everything now gets made into a television show, we’ve come to this; a 2017 Fall TV Battle Royale of mutants featuring ABC’s Inhumans versus Fox’s The Gifted

The Gifted was a tight little pilot that told us what we needed to know about the world. Mutants exist, but they’re illegal and they’re being hunted. Our main characters are the Strucker’s. Reed Strucker is a lawyer who helps prosecute mutants, his son Andy’s struggle with being bullied reveals latent mutant powers, his daughter Lauren reveals mutant powers she’s been hiding to rescue her brother, and now the family is on the run to Mexico with a group of mutants that Mr. Strucker was previously trying to put behind bars. It’s short and sweet and to this point, uncomplicated. It succeeds because it focuses on character and not on spectacle. The cast is led by the amazing Amy Acker as Kate, the matriarch of the Strucker family. The way they make the decision on a dime to leave their life behind to protect their children and live as fugitives and the fact that they don’t really have any idea how to live life on the run rings true to life and immediately makes them feel like a real family. What makes X-Men so great is that behind all of the world saving are small stories of people learning to be unafraid of who they are. The Gifted appears to understand that and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season.

Inhumans is an absolute mess. They live on the moon apparently, and they have a king and queen and some sort of ruling counsel, but there’s been a power struggle recently and there is some unrest. The king is Black Bolt and his queen is Medusa. They appear happy together, but the king’s brother Maximus (played by Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon) thinks that they should be living on earth for…reasons…and he’s sure enough that he’s right that he stages a coup to seize control of the kingdom. Unfortunately for him, his plan to have his brother and sister in law arrested backfires and instead they’re taken to earth by the queen’s sister, who has all-time bad hair, and her giant teleporting dog. If that seems at all clear, then the show should hire me as a writer because it’s not at all clear on the screen. Adding to the poorly told story are multiple groan worthy performances, eye-roll inducing levels of blurted out exposition and fight choreography that immediately reminded me of my early teenage obsession with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s awful, it’s terrible, and I don’t know if I’ll watch anymore because I hated it.

I’m not usually one to totally give up on a show after one episode, but if Inhumans vs. The Gifted were a boxing match, Inhumans fell twice and was saved by the bell from a TKO in the first round. The difference in the quality, acting, direction, effects, etc. between the two shows was night and day. So to summarize: If you’re only going to watch one show about mutants this season, watch The Gifted. If you’re going to watch two, watch The Gifted twice. Both The Gifted and Inhumans can be streamed on Hulu.com.

 

Channel Surfing:

  • This Is Us is officially 2 for 2 in making me cry in this young season. I had someone ask me this week what makes the show so good and my answer was simply that it feels more real than most television. Things don’t come easy for these characters. They make decisions to do things and they fall on their face. But they always get back up again with help from their family. I know that not everyone has that experience with their families, but I’m blessed to be able to say that I do. And the family on This Is Us reminds me of my family. We can be intrusive and annoying and neurotic, but we’re also always there. Season 2 is off to a good start. This Is Us can be streamed at Hulu.com or at NBC.com.
  • Designated Survivor is back and it’s still not a good show. But it’s pretty fun. One large dangling thread from season one was wrapped up this week, but I’m sure something else bad will be coming down the pike pretty soon. If this show becomes West Wing, it will be unwatchable. It’s a show that blew up the Capitol in the cold open of it’s pilot. It’s stakes need to be ridiculous, so I hope they keep it that way.
  • I caught a new show this week that I’m hoping will stick around long enough to stick around for a while called Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. It stars Jason Ritter as Kevin, a down on his luck former high school hot shot who returns to his hometown to live with his twin sister and her daughter after the death of her husband. I don’t want to say more, I just want you to watch it. The pilot was the perfect combo of funny and heart-warming and it was the second show of the week to make me cry. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World can be streamed at Hulu.com or at ABC.com.
  • I’m going to recommend a documentary that you can check out on Netflix even though that’s probably technically out of my lane. But it’s only 40 minutes long, so it’s like a 1 hour TV special, which would be in my lane. It’s called Long Shot and I’m not going to tell you anything about it except that it’s intriguing and surprising and absolutely delightful. Don’t read about it or watch Netflix’s trailer, just watch the show. You can thank me later.

That’s all for this week. Next week, the Arrowverse is back! I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about that. If there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group.

Feelin’ TV: September 25-October 1

I don’t really care about the Emmy’s. Every year the Oscar’s give me a few movies to add to my watchlist, but the Emmy’s very rarely move the needle for me as far as my viewing habits. I could be wrong, but it always seems to me like once a show or an actor gets honored with the award, they’re continuously honored in perpetuity until the show ends its run while other deserving shows are ignored. And if I’m being honest, I’m a little bitter that Parks & Recreation went 0-16 at the Emmys during its seven seasons. But this year, as I was hearing all of the buzz after the ceremony for Big Little Lies, I looked at the dynamite cast and the well-regarded show runner and decided to give it a try. In doing so, I may have started to care about the Emmy’s.

Big Little Lies, the adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel of the same name, tells the story about a death at an elementary school fundraiser in Monterey, California. The story is presented on two fronts. The primary way is through the main narrative that follows Madeline, Jane, Celeste and Renata (Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern, respectively) from student orientation day at Pirriwee Public School all the way up to the fateful night of the murder. The secondary narrative is what we hear from ancillary characters describing the escalating tension between our four main characters over the time periods in their statements to the police. What makes Big Little Lies stand out from other murder mysteries is that not only is the audience unaware who the killer is, we’re also kept in the dark as to who the victim is. It’s great storytelling technique pulled off with near perfection by one of the most impressive casts I’ve seen in a television series. The four leads are fantastic. They’re confident, catty and delightfully willing to speak their minds to each other. The drama between the women always feels like the kind of actual real-world problems that mothers deal with every day. Make no mistake, these are women who are well-off living in paradise, but their issues are abuse, bullying and work life balance. As a parent, this helped me buy in immediately because I’ve dealt with the pain of a child being hurt in a manner that leaves those in charge of keeping him/her safe without any clue as to who caused the harm. I’ve gone the wrong way in the drop-off line and felt the condemning stares. I’ve seen little issues between parents become big issues because of the wrong thing said at the wrong time. Now no one is getting murdered at the fundraisers I attend, but I get the stakes. This isn’t your average network TV drama where every conflict could be solved if the characters involved took the time to have a 2-minute conversation.

The main cast, as you’d expect with names like Witherspoon, Kidman and Dern, is spectacular. Witherspoon’s Madeline stands out and reminds me of a grown-up Tracy Flick. She’s smart, dedicated, and she’ll play dirty if you cross her. Dern shines as Renata who is put in the unenviable position of being the villain of the story, at least where the interpersonal relationships are concerned. The men in the cast are great as well with stand-out performances by Adam Scott and Alexander Skarsgard. It’s also important to point out how solid Zoe Kravitz performs in a small but vital role as Bonnie, the young wife to Madeline’s ex-husband.

I don’t want to get into too many spoilers in this space because I’d rather you just watch the show. But my favorite thing about the series is the way shines a light on the strength of women. From little hiccups to giant problems, these are women who are more than capable to handle what life puts in their way. When the men in their lives attempt to fix these delicate issues like a man does, they serve to escalate things further. The men suffer from the classic dilemma of treating every problem like a nail because their only tool is a hammer. This show celebrates strong women and their ability to protect each other and get stuff done. It’s a phenomenal series that deserves every bit of praise it has received. Big Little Lies is currently streaming on the HBO GO and HBO NOW apps.

Channel Surfing:

  • Halt and Catch Fire had a devastating episode this week that absolutely wrecked me. No matter how much time is left in a series (H&CF has only 3 episodes left until its series finale) it takes some guts to make a move that totally changes the direction of your show and that’s what creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers did this week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,  is the best show that you’re not watching. These next three weeks promise to be can’t miss TV. Past seasons of Halt and Catch Fire can be seen on Netflix and the current season can be streamed on the AMC app.
  • Speaking of shows that are unafraid to throw a wrench into the machine that totally changes the show, The Good Place did just that for the third time in its last three episodes. My favorite new show from last season is quickly becoming my favorite show on TV. If you haven’t watched it yet, I can’t express how much you’re missing out. Catch up on season one on Netflix and season two is streaming on Hulu and NBC.com.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine has occasionally ended their season by upsetting the apple cart, but typically they get everything back to the status quo by the end of the next season’s premiere. This season though, it appears that they’re willing to play with the Peralta and Diaz in prison storyline for a little while. And the show is the better for it. The season five premiere was among the best episodes the show has ever produced. Look, Jake and Rosa aren’t guilty and they’re not going to stay there forever, but with the amount of fun that Dan Goor and his writers were able to have with those scenes in particular, I hope it ends later rather than sooner. Brooklyn Nine-Nine can be seen on Hulu or at FOX.com
  • For all you Trekkies out there, we’d be remiss not to mention that Star Trek: Discovery launched last week with a two-part premiere. In the opening episodes we are introduced to Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), First Office Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the crew of the  USS Shenzhou. Life in the Federation is pretty chill until the Klingons show back up and chaos ensues. These first two episodes serve as a great primer to the world we will be seeing in Discovery, and though I didn’t particularly love them, they made me curious enough to stick around for episode #3. In this week’s episode the show begins to reveal more of what the episodic storytelling nature may be going forward. This is an intense Star Trek, with a mysterious Captain in Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), horror-like moments reminiscent of the video game Doom 3, and an intriguing crew with vastly different personalities. It was great to finally be aboard the USS Discovery, as well, and see some of the interesting technology of this universe. I came away from the third episode fully onboard with the show and am now quite excited about where it goes from here. – Aaron  Star Trek: Discovery can be streamed through CBS All-Access

As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see covered that we’re not yet covering, let me know in the comments or on the Feelin’ Film discussion group. Thanks for reading!

Feelin’ TV: September 18-24

One of my favorite forms of entertainment are the kind that can exist to poke fun at a genre while also being a solid example of that genre. Shane Black movies like The Nice Guys or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang immediately come to mind as movies that revel in poking holes in the tropes of your average buddy action comedy while also being really enjoyable buddy action comedies. It’s difficult to pull off, so I appreciate when it’s done well. There have been several TV shows that have tried to do this with varying levels of success. Psych is the first one that comes to mind. As a spoof of detective shows it definitely leaned heavier on the comedy than the mystery, but it was mostly fun for 8 seasons. Fox’s new Seth Macfarlane vehicle The Orville seems like it has its sights set on straddling the line between parody and homage of Star Trek, although through three episodes, it strangely seems to be leaning more on the side of homage. A few weeks ago, to little fanfare, Netflix dropped a show that in this writer’s opinion is the best example of this type of program to date. That show is American Vandal.

In the past few years, we’ve become obsessed as a society with the true crime documentary. The first season of the podcast Serial was probably the spark that ignited the flame, but Netflix fanned the flame with shows like Making a Murderer as the subjects of these shows, Adnan Syed and Steven Avery respectively, became household names. American Vandal takes the concept of these stories, replaces murder with a hilarious lesser offense, and creates a world of colorful characters to round out a highly amusing and surprisingly insightful “true crime” documentary series. To tell you much more is to ruin the surprise, but suffice it to say the cast is incredible and the story that begins as farce eventually gets crafted into an intriguing mystery that will have you glued to your seat until it’s over. And along the way it gives the viewer a lot to think about as it examines high school culture in the age of social media in a way that both entertains and gives pause. The subject matter might be more than some can handle, but I couldn’t recommend it any higher. American Vandal is currently streaming on Netflix.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Good Place had its second season premiere this week and it started at the very moment that season one left off. Revelations made in the season one finale are really going to allow the writers to expand the world and play with its concept. I’m really excited to see what they have planned. If you haven’t watched The Good Place, I’d suggest you get on it. It was the best new show of 2016 and it doesn’t show any signs of losing that momentum. But don’t start in the middle. The first season is must watch and it’s only 13 episodes (all of which can be seen on Netflix). The season 2 premiere of The Good Place is currently streaming on Hulu.

 

  • I briefly mentioned The Orville before and I’m sure it will come up again in the near future. After 3 episodes, it’s safe to say that it isn’t at all what I was expecting. I don’t care for Seth Macfarlane. His smugness and tendency to take the easiest path to a laugh turn me away from most of his work. But The Orville has shown a significant amount of restraint to the point that I wish that there were more laughs to be had. It’s not that the jokes aren’t funny, they’re just barely there. It has some good pieces, but it’s still figuring out what it wants to be. You can catch up on what you’ve missed of The Orville on Hulu.

 

  • I’m three episodes in to HBO’s Emmy award winning drama Big Little Lies and all I can say so far is “Wow.” The cast is incredible (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern!) and the story grips you from the moment it starts. With a first episode titled “Somebody’s Dead” I was expecting a whodunnit murder mystery, but thus far we don’t even know who died. I can’t wait to get it finished. You can currently watch all of season one using HBO’s streaming service.

 

  • I’m not a Trekkie, so I’m probably not going to be watching the new Star Trek: Discovery. I know a lot of people are interested in the show, so if you’re watching and you have some quick thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Well, we’re back after a short hiatus with a new format. We hope that you like it. We’ll be getting into the swing of things as the new TV season really fires up in earnest in the next couple of weeks. As always, if there’s anything you’d like to see covered that we’re not yet covering, let me know in the comments or on the Feelin’ Film discussion group. As of right now, I plan on covering all of the still running shows we covered at the end of last season with a few new additions (Gifted, Ghosted and Inhumans, among others). Is there anything I’m missing? Come join in the conversation in the Feelin’ Film Facebook group!

Feelin’ TV: July 10-16

Parks and Recreation is the greatest sitcom of all time. That’s not scientifically provable or anything, but I believe it with all my heart. I spent the last month watching the series all the way through for the sixth time. Even if you disagree with me about it being the best ever, I doubt you’ll be able to point to a comedy that had as perfect of a two-season run as Parks and Rec did for seasons 3 and 4 of its run. Even when it wasn’t great, it was still really good. Because at Feelin’ Film, we really like making lists, I decided that I would submit my picks for the best five episodes of Parks and Recreation:

5. One Last Ride (S7E12) – The final couple of seasons might have relied a little too heavily on giving its characters everything they ever wanted, and that shortcoming is definitely on full display in the series finale. But, man, it’s so good that I just don’t even care. I get tears all around as we get to see what Leslie (Amy Poehler) and the gang are up to in the future, especially when it comes to the fate of my spirit animal, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).

4. Practice Date (S2E4) – This is the only episode on my list from before Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger’s (Rob Lowe) arrival in Pawnee. The A story provides a lot of comedy as Ann (Rashida Jones) takes Leslie on a practice date to help calm the nerves she’s feeling about her first date with Dave (Louis CK). While hearing about all of Leslie’s nightmarish first dates is a lot of fun, what makes this episode so memorable for me is its B story, where all of the other members of the parks department are having a contest to see how much dirt they can dig up on their co-workers. It’s our first introduction to Duke Silver and its where we really start to get to know Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heir) as the office punching bag. It’s a lot of fun.

3. Fancy Party (S3E9) – My favorite couple on Parks is April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt), hands down. April’s perpetually annoyed demeanor plays off of Andy’s wide-eyed man-child to a form a relationship that managed to feel both inevitable and wildly implausible at the same time. That they would invite their friends and family to bring components of a party to their house (Ben’s items to bring: Avatar, 50 pair of 3-D glasses and a 3-D capable TV) for the purpose of having a surprise wedding is sweet and hilarious and perfectly encapsulates April and Andy.

2. Ron and Tammy: Part Two (S3E4) – I couldn’t make this list without including at least one of the episodes where we get to see Ron interact with his second ex-wife (and real-life spouse Megan Mullally) Tammy 2. I picked a second one because of the ridiculously amusing gag of seeing Ron with corn rows and a mustache with a bald spot in the middle from “friction.” What puts this version of the Ron and Tammy saga on the list over the others is the B story where we learn about Ben’s paralyzing fear of policemen as he and Leslie position themselves to get a favor from Pawnee’s chief of police. It’s this episode where Ben starts to really learn what Leslie is all about. When he asks the police chief why he says that Leslie Knope gets all the favors she wants and he responds, “Because she’s the kind of person who uses favors to help other people.”

1. Flu Season (S3E2) – I realize that three of my five picks are from season three, but you have to understand that I believe that season three of Parks and Rec is the best season of TV sitcom ever. And Flu Season is 22 tight minutes of laughs and the crew splitting off into perfect comedic parings, Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Ben, April and Ann, and my personal favorite, Ron and Andy. Oh, and it also contains what show creator Michael Schur has called, and I agree with him, the funniest one liner in all seven seasons of the show, seen here.

I’m going to restrain myself from giving honorable mentions because I might list every other episode. What say you? What did I miss? What are your favorite episodes? Parks and Recreation can be streamed on Netflix. 


In the age of digital streaming, everyone has a show they want you to watch. Depending on how many seasons you’ve already missed, this can be a daunting proposition. This is why I’m always excited when someone recommends I watch a show and it has less than 20 episodes. I was able to watch Luther in a week! It happened again this week when a friend recommended I watch ABC’s Downward Dog. Downward Dog had a lot going for it. First, it stars Allison Tolman who is probably best known for her role as Molly Solverson on the first season of FX’s Fargo. Tolman is great. I’m a big fan. The conceit is also pretty intriguing. Picture a Modern Family/The Office/Parks and Recreation style mockumentary style sit-com, but the only character that does the talking head portions and the narration is a middle-aged dog who is going through an existential crisis. It’s fun in a way that, as my friend put it, it will never last. And my friend was right. It’s already been cancelled. But the best thing about it is that there are only 8 episodes. I watched the whole thing in an afternoon. It’s the perfect show to begin and finish watching over the summer while your other shows are on hiatus. It’s light, it moves quick and it’s really, really funny. It’s been cancelled by ABC, but the producers are reportedly shopping it around to other networks. It’s unique and different and every viewer counts. Downward Dog can be streamed on Hulu.


Shall We Begin? After what seemed like a lifetime but really was only a year, HBO’s Game of Thrones is back! Once the dust settled from a bloody first few minutes, the rest of the episode was spent moving the pieces into place for the rest of season seven and next year’s climactic season eight. By the looks of it, they’re not going to spend much time messing around. Cersei wants her kingdom back and isn’t going to take no for an answer. Jon needs dragon glass to defeat the Night’s King and, thanks to Sam, he’s about to find out that there’s a whole mess of it at Dragonstone. It looks like we’ll get to see the family reunion that we’ve all been looking forward to but Jon and his Aunt Daenerys don’t yet know is a thing, as the Mother of Dragons has just landed at, you guessed it, Dragonstone. You’ve also got Arya and Bran doing their thing, Sansa paying a little too much attention to Littlefinger and whatever it is that Uncle Greyjoy has up his sleeve. There are a lot of moving pieces and only 12 episodes left until it’s all over.

So what do you think is going to happen? Are Ms. Breaker of Chains and Mr. Snow going to kill the Lannisters on their way to defeat the White Walkers? Or do they need to form a tentative truce with Cersei to survive the winter? And what side is Jamie going to be on? My plan for Game of Thrones is to give a weekly, mostly spoiler free recap on Feelin’ Film TV with the opportunity for more in depth, spoiler-filled discussion in the comments and on our Facebook page. Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO and can be found streaming on the HBO Now and HBO Go platforms.

That’s all for now! As always, we want this to just be the start of our discussion. Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments or our Facebook group. Leave us your thoughts on my list or your predictions for this season of Game of Thrones. See you next week!

Feelin’ TV: June 12-18

The 2nd season episode, “The Injury,” is a favorite of many fans of NBC’s The Office. The laughs produced as Jim and Michael accompany Dwight to the hospital to be checked and eventually treated for a concussion are some of the show’s best. Among the memorable moments crammed into the episode’s 22 minutes are Michael wrapping his foot in bubble wrap after burning it on a George Foreman Grill, one of the all-time most awkward conference room meetings as Michael invites the handicapped building manager to speak when he feels he isn’t getting enough sympathy for his injury, Jim using a spray-bottle to keep Michael and Dwight under control in Meredith’s mini-van, Michael getting angry as Dwight gets off one of the show’s best “that’s what she said” jokes and the closing seconds when Michael trying to sneak his foot into Dwight’s CT scan. It’s a tight episode with a lot of laughs and character moments.

But none of those are the moments that stand out most to me. There’s a small conversation between Toby and Ryan after the former witnesses the latter biting his string cheese that I think about quite often. “Wow, you just dive right in!” says Toby. Ryan replies, “You know, around age 12 I just started going for it.” It’s the kind of moment that isn’t at all funny or interesting, but I think it’s what endears the show to a certain segment of its fan base. It captures the kind of meaningless chatter that someone who works in a cube experiences every single day. Person one says something because they can’t handle silence. Person two responds with the most benign and mildly amusing comment they can muster because it would be rude not to respond. Both persons laugh to be polite. I may not think scenes like this are funny and at times, they even get on my nerves, but it’s where I live. We may visit The Office for Michael Scott’s incompetence and the high jinks of Jim, Pam and Dwight, but it’s these little interactions that make us feel like we already work there. The Office is currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix.

Something that tends to surprise people who know my viewing habits is that my wife doesn’t really like to watch TV. There aren’t any TV dramas or sit-coms that I’ve been able to find that interest her. The one exception to this rule has been that we both enjoy the Food Network and we both absolutely love Food Network Star. Chef Bobby Flay (my #1 celebrity crush) and Giada De Laurentis host this show where 13 finalists compete to get their own Food Network show.  Bobby and Giada eliminate one contestant every week until one winner is crowned. It’s a perfect summer show. It’s fun, interesting, and ultimately as mindless as a beach novel. My favorite thing about the show are the guest judges that show up every week. As a connoisseur of Food Network shows, it warms my heart to no end to see folks like Robert Irvine, Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli (my #6 celebrity crush), Ted Allen, etc., have a seat at the judges table from week to week to critique the competitors who vary in their skill levels from TV ready to grossly incompetent. There are still 9 competitors left this season, so it’s not too late to jump in. Food Network Star airs on Sunday nights on Food Network. Prior episodes can be streamed on the Food Network app with cable subscription info.

Season 3 of Netflix’s The Ranch dropped last week, and like the other two seasons, it’s a lot of fun. Former That 70’s Show cast-mates Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, as Colt and Rooster Bennett, anchor this sitcom about brothers living and working on the family ranch that delivers on the laughs you’d expect while also showing a surprising amount of heart. Elisha Cuthbert is delightful as Abby, Colt’s on again, off again love interest. Every episode is stolen by Sam Elliott who plays the patriarch of the Bennett family. His deep voice and old school cowboy personality is comic gold when paired with Kutcher’s goofiness and Masterson’s sarcasm. Debra Winger rounds off the cast as Maggie Bennett, the matriarch of the clan who resides in an Airstream outside of the bar she owns in town. She’s the only part of the show I’m not a big fan of. There’s a lack of comedic timing and chemistry with the rest of the cast that makes her stick out a bit, but it’s a minor quibble. It’s well worth the watch. The Ranch is currently streaming on Netflix.

Last week upon a recommendation from Patrick Hicks (if the guy that runs the site you write for recommends something, is it really a recommendation?), I worked my way through three seasons of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. The series takes a look at the advent and boom of the home computer through the eyes of fictional characters Joe McMillan (Lee Pace), Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), Gordon’s wife Donna (Kerry Bishe) and Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis). The first season has its pacing issues, but it’s never less than interesting as the dialogue and chemistry among the cast is always on point. It really hits its stride in second and third seasons as our characters go their different ways and occasionally find their way back to each other again. The genius of the show is the use of fictional characters put in a real-world setting. We get to feel the urgency put upon entrepreneurs to innovate without the revisionist history that would most likely come with the territory of using historical figures. That’s not to say that there aren’t any similarities between our characters and historical people. I’ll let you figure out who those people are. The fourth and final season hits AMC in August, so there’s plenty of time left to get caught up. The first three seasons of Halt and Catch Fire is currently streaming on Netflix.

That’s all for this week! But remember if you have a show you’d like to have covered that we haven’t, let us know in the Facebook group or in the comments. Next week we’ll talk about the season finales to both Fargo and Better Call Saul!