Happy Friday! It’s the end of the work week, and that means it’s time once again for the Best TV Shows on TV. Every week, we watch a butt-ton of TV (not to be confused with a button of TV, which is probably drug slang) and then we pick out our favorite shows and tell you about them. And we invite you to tell us about your favorite shows – if you can find us!
We’ve already talked about Gotham, Dancing with the Stars, and got super into Westworld, but there’s still more!
People of Earth – We got to see Gina’s backstory this week – turns out the group leader was a very successful psychotherapist who gave up her practice after she encouraged a patient to go skydiving to save his relationship and then his chute didn’t open. She left New York and moved to Beacon where she became the most overqualified Crockery Hutch employee in America. Meanwhile, Jonathan Walsh (Ozzie’s former boss and secret reptilian) was tasked with getting Ozzie away from the group. For reasons we don’t know yet, Ozzie is very important to the aliens – this week we saw a flashback where Jonathan visited a very young Ozzie, so this would have been decades before his abduction. He decided the best thing to do would be to buy the small-town newspaper where Ozzie works, assuming that he hates him enough to quit find another newspaper job in another town. Well, the buyout got the staff some sweet modern equipment, but Ozzie decided to hang in there. So why is Ozzie important? And why do they need him out of Beacon? We have questions! (Also, we enjoy the jokes and the great performances from a whole mess of talented comedians.) It’s a slow burn that feels like it’s really building to something interesting.
Ash vs. Evil Dead – A change of pace episode eliminated the demons and most of the comedy and sent Ash to an asylum where Dr. Peacock explained that the last thirty years of his life were an elaborate fiction he created after he snapped and murdered four people in a cabin. And let’s be honest, we all know this was a trap Baal created, but the show played it seriously to great effect. The rest of the cast was there in altered form with Ruby as a nurse, Pablo as an orderly, Kelly as another inmate. Even if we weren’t supposed to be fooled, it’s not like we necessarily but that Ash is all the way sane, either. Bruce Campbell did an exceptional job, starting out with his usual Ash bravado and gradually breaking down from isolation and electroshock therapy. He was barely even recognizable as Ash by the end.
In one of the few jokes this week, the doctor gave Ash a therapy puppet to cover his stump. It was a puppet version of Ash, complete with chainsaw hand, which is hilarious. After some apparent psychotic breaks where he supposedly killed Pablo and Kelly, Ash gave up and decided he belonged there. And that’s when the plan unfolded – Dr. Peacock told him the only way he could ever be sane again is to destroy the Necronomicon and Ash seemed both convinced and murderous. Thing is, Pablo is the Necronomicon now. Ash is dangerous enough to the people around him when he’s in his right mind. Oh, this is going to be good!
Son of Zorn – When Zorn wasn’t welcome at Thanksgiving dinner (Edie’s mother has never forgiven him for… being Zorn), he decided to show up and try to make a good impression. Wearing a turtleneck is a start, right? And eating with the pinkies on both hands extended? Even better! (Kudos to the animators on this episode – there was some stellar work here.) He tried to prove he knew how to put on pants (he doesn’t) just to get in good with Roberta. But then he lost his temper at a Netflix documentary on Zephyria (narrated by Sarah Koenig!) that was really just a propaganda piece for his arch enemy, Vultuzore. There’s no way we spelled that correctly, by the way. He tried to make things up with a pie, but ended up poisoning her.
Luckily, Zorn’s buddy Dr. Klorpins (voiced by spunkyfave Nick Offerman) talked him through the process of bringing a poison victim back to life, but only after Zorn painted open eyes on her. And when she kept being nasty, Edie, Alan, and Craig decided to spend the rest of the holiday with Zorn instead of her. It was a nice episode with some standout voice work from Jason Sudeikis and a few sublime touches. Zorn cutting his meat with a hidden blade, Craig’s soda collection, Alan trying to get Roberta to pay for music conservatory and also being very bad at music. And Zorn trying to wear shirts will never stop being funny. It always looks so weird!
Saturday Night Live – Between Dave Chappelle hosting and the results of the election, SNL had a lot on its plate this week. Weekend Update was especially sharp, Chappelle’s monologue was hilarious and bighearted. A terrible sketch gave way to the cast fielding questions about said sketch from a group of reporters, like the losing team’s postgame interview. There was even a parody of the Walking Dead season premiere with Chappelle as Negan picking which oneo f his Chappelle Show characters to execute. But the highlight of the week, and you’ve probably seen it a hundred times by now, was the cold open. In a week when Hillary Clinton lost the election and Leonard Cohen died, Kate McKinnon opened the show with a performance, in Clinton costume, of Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. It was genuinely beautiful – McKinnon is shockingly talented. She was visibly fighting back tears by the end of the song (“I did my best / it wasn’t much / I couldn’t feel / so I tried to touch”) and closed her performance by saying “I’m not giving up, and neither should you”. It was lovely and heartfelt and tough to watch without at least tearing up a little. It’s entirely possible that we don’t deserve Kate McKinnon and we just have to hope she never realizes it.
Jon Glaser Loves Gear – Well, this episode got weird. The whole thing was a series of nightmares that Jon suffered. Even when another character woke up from a dream, Jon was dreaming that. And yes, you could note that it shouldn’t be possible for a fake reality show to have a dream sequence, but then you should also pipe down. It was maybe the weirdest single episode Jon Glaser has created in his whole career and it was fascinating. While attempting to make an episode about fishing, his real family was held hostage, an obscene cartoon about a fisherman that keeps popping up, fired co-host Steve bonded with his fake TV son, he reconciled with his real wife and they showed her face (because it was a dream), the network gave him permission to show “Jewish Butt” and Jon walked around pantsless for a while. And of course, he dreamed about gear. He even met a duplicate of himself who loved gear just as much as he did. It was weird and even if they didn’t say it, it sure seems like he’s having nightmares because he caused the death of another human being last week.
And after all that, it ended with a tag that was really funny and sweet in such a weird way. Jon shot a scene with his fake TV son, who revealed that his real father died in Iraq. Which could have just been a dark joke, but then the kid explained how proud his dad would be that his son was working with a comedy legend and it was one of the few instances of Jon really being taken aback. This show, we swear. It’s ridiculously good. We love it as much as Jon Glaser loves gear. Which is a lot.
The Last Man on Earth – Boy, when this show goes for the heartstrings, it’s devastating. In one of the best episodes of the series so far, Lewis was down on the day of what would have been his anniversary. Tandy tried to help by writing a terrible song, and one of the best running jokes going is the way he always holds a guitar when he sings but he never actually plays it. He just drums on it. It’s funny every time! And then when Lewis told him that Mark was sailing back home the last time they talked, Tandy got obsessed with the idea that he could still be alive. In fact, he wanted to bring Lewis back to Seattle to find him. Obviously, this was a crazy and unintentionally hurtful plan, but he finally tazed Lewis and kidnapped him. Tandy was also convinced that he looked exactly like Mark and that it had to be tough on Lewis. (They don’t look anything alike.) He even wore a bag over his head so Lewis wouldn’t fall in love.
Back at Lewis’ old house, Tandy wanted him to leave a note. Which is crazy, but Tandy told him about how he was going to kill himself until he met Carol, and that only happened because he left a note. Lewis ended up leaving that note in a tearjerker of a scene, and on the way back, Tandy thought of a very important note he didn’t leave. They went back to the Miller house and even though he couldn’t bring himself to go into the bedroom to see if Mike had died, he still left a note on the fridge. And on the way out, he saw his old friends (the balls) and he took Gary with him as he left. Shut up! We’re not crying! You’re crying!
Elsewhere, Carol wanted Gail to adopt her so that her baby would have a grandmother. Even though Gail thought it was silly, it changed their dynamic to that of a mom and bratty deed. Eventually Gail explained that she’d already been a mother and this was tough for her. Her son died, and he died before the virus. (Does anybody else want an all flashback episode?) She did end up “adopting” Carol in a very sweet scene.
Finally, Melissa tried to seduce Todd with Shawshank Redemption-themed roleplay and we learned the Mel Rodriguez has a dynamite Morgan Freeman impression in his back pocket. It was such a terrific episode – the jokes landed hard and the emotional beats were so perfect. You can start taking a show for granted when it’s been around for a couple of years and it’s consistently good, but this was a reminder of what a gem Last Man is.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Jason Mantzoukas is back! Yes, his Adrian Pimento returned and that meant it was time for a wedding. And even though it seemed like maybe a bad idea for Pimento and Rosa to get married immediately, Amy relished the chance to put together a wedding in 24 hours just like a Nancy Myers movie (Not Nora Ephron!) Jake and Gina took Pimento to get his grandmother’s earrings from a pawn shop, only to find the place had burned down. They tracked down the owner to see if maybe the earrings had survived of if they’d been sold, but Pimento realized after meeting her that she burned the place down for insurance and kept everything. They broke in and stole the earrings back, and a guy attacked them with a sword. Then Jake’s car broke down and Pimento had to fly them back in a small plane. Also? He’s a self-taught pilot.
Back at home, Rosa got drunk on bellinis while Amy prepared. And then whenever she sent somebody to sober them up, she’d get them sad and drunk. Boyle was upset that Genevieve didn’t want to marry him and got “Bunheads is cancelled” drunk. Then Terry went after both of them and they made him think about how one day his kids would grow up. And then Holt just got wasted because Amy vetoed his balloon arch. (He loved that balloon arch.) Scully and Hitchcock were actually the ones who held it together (“I got eyerolled to, not at.”) Jake and Amy realized that Pimento and Rosa didn’t actually want to get married right away. So they postponed the wedding in favor of dating for a while and getting to know each other. They kept all the gifts, of course. (We’re hoping that means Zouks will be around for a while.) We loved the way that the episode managed to be frantic without degenerating into farce. This show knows how to be silly and we love them for it.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – The first episode this week featured Allison Janney in a Very Special Episode. Al’s best friend died in a hot air balloon accident and he was in serious denial even as he suffered from hallucinations where she came back. More on that in a bit. Obviously Allison Janney was great – she can do just about anything, and she seemed to be having fun. We’d like to think she and Scott are best friends now. There were a lot of funny bits, but the reason we freaked out over this episode came in the second half when Al sat on a dark stage with minimal props, prompted by the voice of an offscreen therapist. Yes, it was a parody of the famous “A, My Name is Alex” episode of Family Ties. Only it was better because the therapist turned out to be Ray Wise as Dr. Frankenstein. The segment was so well done. It worked on its own, but if you remember that episode, holy smokes, it was a thing of beauty. (It also featured appearances by Sarah Baker and Hollywood Handbook’s Sean Clements.) It was kind of amazing. Especially when Scott showed up at the end to do what had to be an Evil Dead tribute.
In the second episode, Scott’s mother and heretofore unseen siblings stopped by. Brother Sammy (Ryan Gaul from Bajillion Dollar Propertie$) was just looking to get some money and when he learned their sister, Cracker (Allison Rich), was an escaped felon with a price on her head, Scott had to keep paying Sammy off just to keep their sister out of jail. The Aukerman family is messed up! Ben Folds stopped by and there was no way they were going to resist having him pitch his new business where he folds laundry. It took a lot of object work to get to that joke, and then he never actually folded anything. He also got the last credit he needed to graduate college from a ghost. (Man, we are going to miss this show.) There was also an expose on his magic hat. We also learned, in another 30 for 30 parody, why all of the world’s greatest boxers are virgins. Then Tim Baltz (another Bajillion alum) appeared as Martin Moreland, a guy who traveled around the world riding on a tortoise. He didn’t know they were slow, so it took longer than he thought. Tim Baltz is really funny and we were glad to see him get a CBB TV appearance after all his podcast roles and tour stops. Only four episodes left, and we’re beside ourselves.
That’s all we have time for this week. Believe us, we could go on about This is Us, Stan Against Evil, Rectify, Jon Hamm on the season premiere of Billy on the Street, the season finale of Better Things, and Greg’s farewell episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. We didn’t even get to this week’s Black Mirror episode, so we’ll talk about it next time. Enjoy your weekend, and we’ll be back on Monday with more of that stuff we do!