Happy Friday! It’s the end of the work week and also St. Patrick’s day, so enjoy all that stuff. Before we call it a day, though, it’s time for the Best TV Shows on TV. Every week, we cram TV into our view holes until we’re woozy, then we pick out our favorite shows and tell you about them. Cool, right?
We’ve already talked about Legion, My Brother My Brother and Me, and the CW DC shows, but there’s so much more!
Samurai Jack – Remember Samurai Jack? The cult favorite Cartoon Network series about a time-lost samurai battling the forces of evil in the far future? The original show ended in 2004 without any resolution, and now Genndy Tartakovsky’s creation is back on Adult Swim with a miniseries that will wrap up Jack’s war with Aku. It picks up fifty years later, though Jack hasn’t aged. He lost his famous sword, so now he uses knives and some badass armor to continue his fight. In the first episode, we get a little bit of a look at what happened since last time we saw Jack and now he’s tormented by hallucinations of the people he’s failed. Robotic assassin Scaramouch (think Sammy Davis Jr. with a magic flute) massacred an entire village to get Jack’s attention and we got to see a great, lengthy fight scene where Jack was outclassed right up to the last moment. (He really needs that sword!) It’s a good indication of how much the new Jack fits in with the original series that we thought Scaramouch was an established villain. But no, he was a new creation who just felt like a classic.
Meanwhile, a series of flashbacks presented a mysterious woman raising seven girls as the Daughters of Aku – a group of merciless assassins. The whole thing was as fun and stylish as it was fifteen years ago. Since Tartakovsky’s style is so unique, the effect hasn’t been watered down by a host of imitators and Jack feel as fresh as ever. And with the promise that this is going to finally wrap up the story, we’re finally going to get closure even if isn’t necessarily a happy ending.
Baskets – Christine returned to Bakersfield for her mother’s funeral, as did Cody and Logan (the DJ Twins). But there was tension there – somebody mistook Cody for Logan and punched him in the face. The Chemical Brothers dropped them from the tour, and the brothers were so mad they couldn’t even speak in unison anymore. While Christine dealt with her loss and sparred with the brother who had a very different version of events in regard to their abusive father, Chip decided to try to fix things between the twins. He even got his sort-of wife Penelope to try and pull some strings to get them another gig. It was a nice way to approach Chip’s seeming lack of empathy – he’s not emotionally adept enough to be there to support his mother, but he knows enough to fix something else that would make her sad down the line. Our boy really does try!
He and Dale managed to reunite Logan and Cody and put together a video that convinced the Sneaker Pimps to hire them as openers, so that was as happy an ending as you can get in an episode about a funeral. And now we’ve referenced happy endings in two consecutive write-ups. Should we catch a rerun of Happy Ending and write about that just to keep our streak alive? Or, at the very least, write about another show with one of its stars…
Making History – We liked the premiere quite a bit, but the second episode represented a big step up. Dan and Deborah went back in time to prevent Chris’ death at the Battle of Lexington, and we got a little more of an idea as to how they’re going to approach history. Namely, with all the seriousness of Mr. Peabody and Sherman. The Founding Fathers are a bunch of dopes who can’t listen to anybody unless they’re wearing a wig (how else would you know that they’re important?) and are in no hurry to actually get the Revolution started. Well, until Chris tells them that the British are going to take their guns. That’s enough to rile up Americans in any century.
So Chris and Dan had to gin up emotions on both sides and get the colonists and the British army to meet on the battlefield. (Dan’s cover stories need work – like when he told the British that he was Jason Bourne and started explaining his backstory.) Meanwhile, Deborah had to handle Paul Revere’s famous ride by herself. Sure enough, they started the Revolution and then had to tweak the Battle of Lexington to make sure the incompetent colonists won. And yeah, it’s kind of implied that the one battle guaranteed the colonists would win the American Revolution despite all the other changes they made, but that’s the Mr. Peabody influence there. It’s silly and definitely a little reductive, and that makes it feel like a live-action cartoon and that’s right up our alley. It’s very funny and we’re looking forward to seeing them visit other eras and get more of Deborah’s experiences in the future. (She was wowed by a York Peppermint Patty wrapper, which was a really cute idea.)
Bob’s Burgers – A Gene-centric episode had our favorite boy dealing with his favorite candy rebranding and changing their recipe. He hated the new Chunky Blast Offs’ taste, and the sunglasses and frosted tips on the astronaut mascot were super creepy. But instead of doing what he usually does and giving up, Gene decided to take his case to the candy company. Sneaking away from a factory tour, he found the man in charge, Ferdy Spratt. He was the last living descendant of the company’s founder and wholly unsuited for his job. (You can tell because he was voiced by Judah Friedlander.) Gene convinced Ferdy to take his case to the Board of Directors, but Ferdy chickened out at the last minute. So Gene had to sneak into a board meeting and make his case. And, amazingly, it worked. He delivered an impassioned speech about recapturing lost childhood and the Board voted unanimously to change the formula back. Until they calculated that the change would cost fifteen million dollars. But at least Ferdy gave Gene the remaining stock of the old formula Chunky Blast Offs, a box so big it would either last him into his twenties or a week, depending on who you asked.
A side story had Bob and Teddy trying to dredge the water traps at a local golf course for lost balls that they could resell. It went very badly and dogs almost attacked them, but there’s no such thing as a Bob/Teddy subplot that isn’t hilarious. Those two play so well off of one another.
The Americans – This episode was light on action but full of some quality setup and nice character moments. Paige’s relationship with Matthew was big plot point this week. Given that she’s already blabbed once, her parents are understandably nervous about her having teenage feelings for the son of an FBI agent. Stan, however, thinks it’s good for both of them even if he can tell that “something’s wrong in Paige Land”. And yes, Paige and Matthew keep getting closer until Elizabeth forbade her from pursuing the relationship, which is always a good strategy with teenagers. After some more combat training to help with her nightmares, Elizabeth and Philip taught he a technique for keeping her emotions in check. Their trick seemed too simple, so presumably there’s some sort of payoff coming on that front.
In their new identities, the Jennings continued to cozy up to the Morozovs, and the scene of the families eating at Bennigan’s was so good. Alexei was impressed by everything! We also got to see a little more of Tuan, the fake adopted son, and that kid is pretty intense. Like, the Jennings don’t necessarily hate America, but Tuan sure does. And in a creepy, almost X-Files scene, Elizabeth snuck into a agriculture lab and saw with her own eyes the government plans to taint Russia’s grain.
Meanwhile, Stan objected to his boss’ plan to blackmail Oleg into helping them again – he only helped because he didn’t want the Hassa virus to be used as a weapon, and Stan respected that. The rest of the FBI didn’t, and even when he tried to go over his superior’s heads, it didn’t work. They even implicated Stan when they made contact with Oleg, so now that poor sap who tried to do the right thing is being forced into a dangerous position.
We also met Stan’s new lady friend, Renee. She’s played by Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden, and it’s not completely clear just what her deal is. It would be very unlike The Americans to have a simple subplot about Stan getting back into dating, so clearly there’s more to her than meets the eye. It’s all very intriguing, and we’re hooked all over again.
Humans – Back to back episodes set us up for next week’s finale as everything seemingly went wrong. We learned that Ed betrayed Mia in order to sell her on the black market, which pretty much just shattered her. On the way to the drop, she rebooted to wipe her consciousness so she’s register as a standard Synth. Ed and his dirtbag friend abandoned her, and Mia, back in her Anita setting, headed back to the Hawkins to clean up. Mattie managed to bring her back online as herself again, and Mia headed back to Leo. Mattie also gave Odi consciousness, having figured out a way to speed up Niska’s code. The poor guy wandered the streets helping random old men against their will because that’s all he knows.
Pete and Karen continued their investigation and discovered the illegal Synths were children. (Called it!) And, heck, they came from Milo Khoury’s company because it’s time to start bringing these plots together. They took in a lost Synth boy, which seems like it can’t possibly end well. And then they questioned Athena, who played dumb even though she just found out about the kids herself. And with Flesh Ginny dying, she was increasingly desperate and attached to Vi.
Max tried to reach out to Leo, but Hester intercepted the call and convinced Max that Leo knew she killed the security guard but he forgave her. Why anybody would believe Hester is hard to say, but Max is under a lot of pressure. For her part, Hester determined that sex would make it easier to manipulate Leo and when Mattie turned up, she got kind of threatening. It seems Hester wants Mattie to use her code and activate every Synth. Which is a bad idea, because there are a lot of them and there are going to be some Hesters in the bunch.
Niska, at her trial, declared that humans weren’t fit to judge her and broke out. With every Synth in London programmed to report her whereabouts to the police if they saw her, she had to go on the run, which is kind of her status quo.
Meanwhile, Sophie continued to emulate Synths, and Toby got closer to fake Synth Renie. Renie even gave Toby her 18+ instruction book and made him read the code, at which point she started making out with him. To his credit, Toby realized that was creepy. We learned that poor Renie is basically a sad kid who’s ignored by her father and kind of shut down.
There is so much going on that we can’t believe they’re going to be able to wrap it up in two hours. We’re on the edge of our seat, though.
Last Man on Earth – Oh, poor Lewis. After logging all those hours on the flight simulator, Tandy convinced him he was ready for an actual flight only to crash and die immediately. Another funeral for our favorite crew. And of course, it was hysterical. We are not ashamed to admit it!
Melissa basically became the Joker this week – they locked her up for her own protection and whenever somebody would try and talk to her she would say something absolutely devastating to them. We never actually saw these exchanges, just the person coming back to report what she said. (The best one was Erica: “Racial slur. She literally just said the words ‘racial slur’.”) A broken Tandy went to church and had a spiritual awakening. Well, sort of. He decided the best way to cheer everybody up would be to light one of the unused buildings in rainbow colors as a tribute to Lewis. This didn’t necessarily change anybody’s mood, but restoring power opened the elevator door and the last shot of the episode was Gail’s hand twitching. So there’s hope! Not much, but some! Funny and depressing in equal measure – that’s our Last Man.
Hap and Leonard – Hap and Leonard are back! The new season, Mucho Mojo, picks up shortly after the first. Leonard’s still banged up from those events and Hap ends up with Trudy’s cremains in a cardboard box. And right away, there’s a lot going on. Leonard moved into his late uncle’s house and found the body of a child under the floorboards. He also made the mistake of crossing the drug dealers next door – namely, he punched one of them out and then peed on him. So while Leonard and Hap were working out what to do, an albino kid who ran with the crew stole Trudy’s box, which set Hap off on a chase.
They decided to call the cops about the body and ended up getting taken into custody. A lawyer named Florida Grange showed up to get them out and discuss their next move. Turns out, the cops said the body was found without feet, but our guys saw the kid’s shoes (high tops that made it seem like he was killed fairly recently). Also, the kid’s name was written inside the shows – or his nickname, at least. But those feet and shoes never made it to the cops. The sheriff let Hap know that he was pretty sure Leonard’s uncle killed the kid and Leonard was his accomplice (the town they live in is super racist). Leonard went back home to find the albino kid in his house and very sick – he brought him to the hospital and, at a friendly doctor’s urging, claimed to be the kid’s uncle so he wouldn’t end up in the system. Leonard brought the kid home and noted that Ivan’s name was written inside his shoes, so there’s a reason those feet disappeared.
The cops came back to charge Leonard with murder and we’re off to the races. This is a great show – last season nailed author Joe R. Lansdale’s off-kilter tough guy style and really got that small town dumbness that he loves so much. And if the show follows the novel at all, it is going to get nuts in a hurry.
That’s all we have time for this week, but we’ll be back before you know it. Be well, small friends!