Happy Friday! It’s the end of the work week and before you head out to see spunkybuddy Marc Evan Jackson in Kong: Skull Island, we’ve got you covered with the Best TV Shows on TV. Every week, we watch TV until we get a little bit woozy and then tell you about our favorite shows. Are we heroes? Yep.
We’ve already talked about Legion and the CW DC shows, but we’ve got more, baby. We’ve always got more!
Bob’s Burgers – A fun episode focused on a mock trial and a real scammer. The kids had key roles to play in the school’s Snow White-themed trial, with Gene as the enthusiastic prosecutor and Louise as the defense. (Totally random that the Belchers had key roles, they assured us. This show knows when they have to fudge the logic.) Louise couldn’t have cared less – partly because the idea was stupid and partly because everybody knew the story and her client was actually called “The Evil Queen”. Just as the trial wrapped, Mr. Ambrose (Billy Eichner in full shout-y glory!) accused Frond of stealing his yogurt and they agreed to pursue the matter in a school trial, with the Belcher kids keeping their jobs. So this had Louise defending her arch-nemesis. She half-assed it at first, until she had a rare moment of empathy when she related to being falsely accused. So she put a crazy amount of work into the defense with a pretty satisfying result. We also loved Gene slowly turning into a simple country lawyer, partly because it reminded us of the hyperchicken from Futurama.
Meanwhile, a customer complained of finding a hair in his food and got a free meal. Then he went to Jimmy Pesto’s the next day and pulled the same scam. Bob and Jimmy teamed up to get revenge on the guy who they discovered was a professional Borat impersonator. It was a silly subplot that maybe could have benefited from more time, but it was still plenty of fun. Plus, when was the last time you thought about Borat?
Baskets – The focus was on Christine this week, as she went to Denver to see Ken. It was a spur of the moment decision, so Ken didn’t actually know she was coming and she couldn’t even get through to him at first. Which, right off the bat, is heartbreaking. It’s not like Christine Baskets can afford to go flying around all over the country – this was a big deal for her. So to get a flight and a hotel room and then to sit there alone waiting for a call back, it’s devastating. And so much of the episode is about the small disappointments piling up. She doesn’t get the fulfillment she wants out of a Skype call to the DJ Twins. When ordering a Denver Omelet in Denver, she learns it was actually created in New York. And so you get a lonely Christine in her hotel room, giving herself an insulin shot.
But just when she decided to cut her stay short, Ken called back and invited her to dinner with his daughters. And, man, it was so nice to see her with these kind, normal people and not have to feel insecure or out of place. Sure, they weren’t familiar with the DJ Twins, but they’d heard of the Chemical Brothers (Cody and Logan opened for them, you know), and that reflected glory was enough for her. We’ve talked about how great Louie Anderson is on this show, and it’s a testament that he has these very tender scenes with Ken and they don’t play as absurd. They even spent the night together and Christine confessed her fears and frustrations, and Ken was kind and supportive, and we wanted them to be together forever. But then she got that call from Chip – her mother dropped dead while avoiding a doctor’s appointment. It was an episode that was light on jokes but still excellent – it was sad and compelling and then there were those moments when our hearts almost burst with joy because the long-suffering Christine got to be happy.
Making History – A time travel comedy created by a Grinder writer and produced by the Lord and Miller team? Yep, we’re sold. This delightfully weird show focuses on Dan, an Adam Pally-type doofus (because he’s played by Adam Pally), who somehow owns a duffel bag that travels through time. Totally fine if there’s never an explanation, by the way. Unfortunately for America, he spends his weekends going back to the American Revolution and romancing Deborah Revere (Leighton Meester), which distracts her famous father so much that the Revolution never starts. So in the present, Starbucks serves tea! Probably other stuff happens too, but Dan’s not really a big picture guy. He recruits college professor Chris (Yassir Lester) to go back with him and fix things.
It is a hoot. The Doctor Who recapper in us wonders about the mechanics of time travel, because it seems like going back an extra couple of days before Dan screwed things up isn’t an option, but most people aren’t going to care about the particulars. Dan’s use of pop culture to express the colonials is great, focusing on weird touchstones like The Bartman. Deborah is feisty and frustrated with her role in a society where women don’t get to do, well, anything, and Chris brings some nice social awkwardness. Also, as an African-American, well, the past ain’t great for him. There are some inspired touches, like the way it’s important to take ham when traveling back in time. (The people of the 18th Century lose their minds over ham.) The pilot ends on a nice cliffhanger where Chris decides to stay in the past to fix things, and then in the 21st Century, there’s suddenly a statue commemorating his sacrifice at the Battle of Lexington. It’s a strong start to a show that might get lost in the time travel shuffle (It’s not even the only network time travel show on Sunday night, for cry pete!), but we dug it. But you have to know that a show where people in the past are constantly throwing up because everything smells like poo is going straight for our immaturity sweet spot.
Humans – So here’s another episode where a lot happens. Little Sophie started mimicking Synth behavior, which was a bit of a concern for the Hawkins. And let’s hear it for Pixie Davis, who is very young but did such a great job of slipping into that mode where her movements and reactions are just a little bit off. Her parents decided to keep her away from Synths and then the last five minutes of the episode were basically a Synth parade right through their house.
Laura brought in Niska’s girlfriend as a witness for her humanity, and it turned out that Astrid didn’t know Niska was a Synth until that very moment. It’s looking more and more like Niska can be tried as a human, but it seems like she’ll definitely be found guilty if that happens so it’s an emotional roller coaster. Hester drove a wedge between Leo and Max in regards to using a newly conscious Synth as bait, and that led to Max leaving their group. And splitting them up is definitely a bad thing now that Athena came clean with Milo about her experiments (mostly – she didn’t really mention the part about Vi being her girlfriend) and explained that she needs David Elster’s original group of conscious Synths to further her research.
Toby got closer to Renie, the girl who identifies as Synth. She even dropped the facade for a second before storming out. Meanwhile, Mia and Ed were absolutely adorable together even when she had to explain the way in which she enjoys sex (she likes “the proximity”), but the customer who spotted them together went to Ed, and the episode ended with him deactivating Mia, which was a real shock. And we say this a lot, but Gemma Chan is freaking amazing. This season, Mia has to pretend to be a regular Synth, and she does that but not in the same way that she actually played a regular Synth last season – there’s this just concealed longing whenever she goes into that mode, and when she gets to express herself, there’s such joy. Can we get her an Emmy?
Also, Pete managed to be the worst detective when he met up for the black market Synth dealer and clearly had no idea what he was supposed to be buying. That got his cover blown and ass kicked in such order. Meanwhile, a Synth showed up at the Hawkins’ to threaten and intimidate Laura into dropping the case, and it was Odi who stepped up to protect them with a cool jacked-up arm kung fu. But it’s not like this was a rogue Synth – the Hawkins are in trouble, just like all of the other sympathetic characters. This show is going to wreck us.
The Last Man on Earth – There’s this thing Last Man likes to do where they go into an extended hiatus on a cliffhanger, and then the first episode back doesn’t feature the main cast so the cliff stays hanged for another week. This time, we rewound to the earliest days of the Virus (2017!) and met socialite Pamela Brinton, played by the great Kristen Wiig. (Speaking of that date, not only does this episode posit that Mike Pence will be President before the year is up, but there is an amazing rapid-fire joke with a lot of names from the news.) Pamela is one of those rich people who assumes bad things aren’t going to happen to them until she ends up looting a grocery store in a makeshift safe suit made of garbage bags. (And she runs into her nemesis, played by Laura Dern!)
Pamela manages to steal an access key to a private bunker from a dead acquaintance and proceeds to hide out with her adorable little dog for years. The bulk of the episode, much like the series premiere, was about one lonesome survivor slowly going insane. The best bit there was her ongoing attempts to teach the dog to talk, insisting that he just say “milk”, just once. Her bunker came equipped with a drone that she could use to check out the outside world from afar, and eventually she found Gail – remember earlier this season when she saw a drone and nobody believed her? Now we know that the battery ran low and that’s why it flew off. A second trip led her back to the group until Melissa shot the drone out of the sky. After a fight with her dog, Pamela decided to risk it and headed out into the world to find the other people.
This show plays it so close to the vest that we have no idea whether Kristen Wiig is going to be sticking around or even if she’ll find the gang, but it sure would be great to see her reunite with Will Forte for a bit. Either way, this was such a dark and funny episode. That said, we desperately need to know what happened to Gail.
The Americans – One of TV’s best dramas returned this week, and we couldn’t be happier. There was a lot of plate-setting to do in the season premiere, so let’s hit the important points and get ourselves oriented. First, Philip and Elizabeth took on another cover as a married airline pilot and flight attendant with an adopted son (actually a Vietnamese Intelligence agent). Their mission is to get close to a family newly arrived from Russia – the CIA helped them out of the country and now the husband works for the Agriculture Department, which is enough to worry the Jennings’ handlers. It’s not immediately clear what their role could be (presumably something with the food supply?), but it’s also not clear within the show. It seems weird so they need the Jennings to figure out what’s happening and deal with it.
Meanwhile, Paige is getting closer with Stan’s son Matt, and her parents want none of it. You know, what with the way Stan is a CIA agent and she’s already blabbed the whole spy thing once – they really don’t want her spending a lot of unsupervised time over there getting all emotionally involved. For her part, Paige is still traumatized by watching her mother stab a man to death, so Elizabeth decided teaching her self-defense is the way to help. This kid is going to grow up to be Sydney Bristow if things work out.
Philip’s Russian son, Mischa took his first steps in heading to America to find his father. This is probably going to be a very slow burn, so we can expect incremental progress over the season and then a pretty great payoff. (That’s right, Americans, we’re on to you and the ways in which you are very good at storytelling!)
And then, the final act of the show was an almost silent twelve-minute sequence of the Jennings and their squad digging a hole. Specifically, they were digging up William’s body. The Center found out what happened to him (to avoid CIA capture, he killed himself with the virus he was supposed to smuggle out of the country) and wanted them to secure a tissue sample – since the only known sample of the Lassa Virus killed him, his actual corpse is probably the only way to reverse engineer it. Anyway, he was deep in the ground in a sealed metal box, and they had to dig him up. And did they ever commit to the monotony of digging a deep hole. Not a lot of shows could pull that off but they were so focused on the details and non-verbal cues that it ended up being compelling. Once they secured the sample, poor Hans tripped and fell into William’s coffin. Elizabeth reassured him and then shot him in the head.
Well, we’re back to being obsessed.
That’s all we have time for this week, but we’ll be back next time with all manner of tomfoolery.