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 so much TV that our DVRs need DVRs, and then we pick out our favorites and tell you about them. It’s a tradition, its origins lost in the mists of time.
We’ve already talked about Gotham, Agents of SHIELD, Venture Bros., and Legends of Tomorrow, but there’s more and we’re going to get right to it.
Baskets – This odd episode (yeah, we know) had Chip and Martha going on the road with Eddie, possibly to murder a failed rodeo clown. It kicked off when Eddie told Chip about what happened with Bingo while he was away in the last episode (Bingo got drunk and threw up in the ring and Eddie had to shoot a bull that attacked him) and then he made some vague statements about “cowboy justice” and demanded that the pair take him to his destination. They indulged Eddie while trying to come up with a solution that didn’t involve him shooting one of Chip’s co-workers. At one point, Eddie made them stop so he could see a prostitute and Chip had one of his most unguarded moments yet with her. Martha suffered multiple snakebites and had a bit of an identity crisis. (“I’m a cowboy, Chip’s a broken-hearted clown…. What the hell are you?”) The show hasn’t really given us much insight into just what Martha’s deal is yet, and it’s interesting to see the other characters acknowledge that.
He eventually led them to an Indian reservation – his ultimate goal. He just needed a ride to go wish his illegitimate son a happy birthday. It had nothing to do with Bingo. So much of this show is about people being unable to communicate with one another, and this was as literal a version of that theme as possible. If Eddie just knew how to transition between conversational topics, it would have been a whole different story. Also, a desperate Chip made some calls and discovered that Penelope only returned to Paris because Christine called her father. So now Chip thinks his mother betrayed him, when she was really just trying to protect him. More emotional devastation awaits! Which is exactly what you look for in a comedy, we know.
Bob’s Burgers – The Belchers need a new couch! Only Linda is deeply attached to the lumpy, smelly thing and refused to hear of it. Thanks to a miscommunication, Louise thought Bob wanted her to sabotage the couch and force the issue, and that’s how they ended up visiting the Sofa Queen. (Linda loved the commercials.) Things went well enough until Linda learned what actually happened, and then she had a meltdown in the store and the Queen (Wanda Sykes) had to talk her down. Meanwhile, Gene and Tina got really into trying out highchairs, convinced that babies have the right idea. They quickly learned otherwise in a really funny visual gag.
Once they replaced the couch, Bob and Louise started to miss the old one and decided to bring it back from the curb… just after somebody else picked it up. That somebody turned out to be a local band called The Couch Burners, which certainly doesn’t bode well. The family had to offer up their new couch in exchange for the old one, which means the Belchers paid a lot of money to get back to a slightly worse position from where they started. That’s about right. It was a silly episode, with a few jokes just built up to ludicrous levels and a nice change to have a story about the whole family together rather than spreading them out over separate storylines. And we got guest appearances by both Key and Peele, which is always a plus.
Last Man on Earth – After a lengthy break, we finally checked in with Tandy and the gang…. Well, not really. The entire episode centered on Mike Miller (Phil’s brother, played by Jason Sudeikis), who managed to arrive safely back on Earth. After a water landing, he and Phil (the worm) found a seemingly abandoned boat. That’s where Mike met Pat Brown (Sons of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Junior, and knowing that tells you just about everything about the character), a guy who believed himself to be…. The last man on Earth. He was even convinced that the virus was still out there and only made supply runs while wearing a hazmat suit. Mike talked him into a trip so he could see solid ground again and take a look around. We learned a little bit more about the virus that wiped out almost everybody and even got some information about where all the bodies went. Which is not exactly fertile comedic ground, but the show handled it well.
And then, despite Pat’s best efforts, Mike spotted an “Alive in Tucson” billboard. He wanted to find the other survivors, but Pat was too paranoid and decked him. It turned into a fight between two dudes in hazmat suits that ended when Pat noticed a rip in Mike’s suit. So yeah, somebody on the staff is a big LOST fan, because that was basically Kelvin and Desmond. Pat abandoned his new friend, and Mike headed for Tucson. Of course, Phil and the rest aren’t there anymore and they didn’t leave much behind to indicate that they moved to Malibu, so a reunion of the Miller boys may be some time off.
And how about Jacob Tremblay (the kid from Room) appearing as young Phil in Mike’s fever dreams? That kid is fantastic, and he totally seemed like the child who would become the Phil we know and love. Also, we learned that Mike and Phil are actually from Tucson, which we don’t think had ever been explicitly mentioned before. So that means Phil was hanging around his hometown – maybe that bar where he’d hang out with the balls was the same bar where he always used to go. There’s something very sad about that – Phil spent the whole first season in the city where he used to live rather than a place where he had no emotional connections. And yet, he never mentioned any of that. An episode where he didn’t even appear added another layer to Phil.
Better Call Saul – We got emotional and physical devastation this week. First off, Jimmy barely avoided getting fired after his commercial stunt. Cliff offered him one last chance, but it sure looks like he won’t be with Davis & Main much longer. And to make things worse, since they’re partnering on the case, HHM called Kim on the carpet for it, and she really didn’t do anything. But just knowing the ad existed was enough to incriminate her. Remember, as far as she knew, Jimmy had explicit approval to create and run the ad. But she didn’t sell him out so Howard and Chuck (freaking Chuck…) busted her down to the document review department. Once again, she demanded that Jimmy stay completely clean and above board or else they were done. (Jimmy: “We’re not done?”) He went to confront Chuck over this nonsense and even though he was good and angry, he still left his electronics outside because he’s a good brother.
When he found Chuck, he was having a tough night, curled up in a ball under his space blanket. Jimmy spent the night there, watching over him and making sure he was OK. Once things were sorted, they had it out. Jimmy even offered to give up being a lawyer if it meant Kim could get her old position back, no questions asked. Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean are so good together.
The episode opened with a flash forward (a favorite Breaking Bad trick) to Mike returning home with an envelope of money and his face pounded to hamburger. It turned out that the guy Nacho wanted dead was his boss, Tuco. (And we know any mission to kill him is doomed since he survives to appear on Breaking Bad.) Mike thought it over, helped tweak the plan to be less dumb, and then met with arms dealer Lawson (the great Jim Beaver, reprising his Bad role) to find the right gun. But ultimately, Mike decided against it – he still wasn’t comfortable with killing somebody for money, no matter how much they deserve it. He had a different plan, though. While Nacho and his boss met at a fast food restaurant, Mike called the police to report a fight. And then he went and hit Tuco’s car and played the “confused old man” card. Mke kept provoking him until Tuco went off on him – he even held on to Tuco to keep him from leaving, but never fought back. He just stood there and took punch after punch until the cops showed up. It was enough to land Tuco in jail, facing five to ten years, and that was good enough for Nacho.
You know who’s amazing? Jonathan Banks is amazing. Mike started as a minor character on Bad and his performance opened up so much more for the writers to play with, and now we’re getting to see what got him to that point in his life. It’s Mike’s show almost as much as it is Jimmy’s at this point.
11.22.63 – Jake and Bill continued to build their case against Oswald this week, even after all the setbacks. This time, they followed him to a secret brothel for surveillance but ended up getting busted. And then his boss had to bail them out, which was not fun for Jake. Oh, and then Sadie’s not-quite-ex-husband showed up. We’re going to be honest with you – there was some backstory about how he had a clothespin on his penis on their wedding night, and that was supposed to be a big reveal and we actually don’t understand that at all. What does that mean? Is it a euphemism? It’s a really weird detail, especially to put it at the center of a big emotional moment.
Bill ended up getting closer to Marina Oswald, which is not something that can possibly end well. And in a nice cliffhanger, Sadie discovered Jake’s surveillance equipment. It was a slower episode, but the development of the Jake / Sadie relationship was nicely done. And the shadow of the “You don’t belong here” guy popping up at a key moment means we may be in for more temporal shenanigans next time out. And maybe an explanation of that clothespin.
Hap and Leonard – Well, this is a hoot. This Sundance limited series based on Joe R. Lansdale’s novels stars James Purefoy, Michael K. Williams, and Christina Hendricks. We’re off to a good start already! Lansdale, by the way, wrote our beloved Bubba Ho-tep, as well as the Jonah Hex episode of Batman: The Animated Series. He’s great. And unlike a lot of his work, the Hap and Leonard novels dial back the supernatural elements. They’re more like Texas Elmore Leonard.
Set in the late eighties, the show introduces Hap, a laborer who went to prison for refusing to serve in Vietnam, and Leonard, a gay Vietnam vet. They’re best friends just trying to get by. When Hap’s ex, Trudy (Hendricks), shows up with an offer that could get them a share of a long-missing million dollars, they jump at the chance despite their better judgment. (Well, Leonard’s better judgment.) That’s how they end up teaming with a motley crew consisting of Trudy’s new boyfriend Howard (an aging hippy who thinks he’s going to strike a blow against The Man by finding the money), Chub, and disfigured crossbow enthusiast Paco. They may or may not be able to trust one another, and there’s the matter of a couple of serial killers who are looking for Paco. It’s bonkers.
The characters are strong and Lansdale’s sense of the absurd is in full force here. It’s lots of fun and more than scratches that weird crime itch we get between seasons of Fargo. As of this writing, the first two episodes were available on Sundance’s website, so you’ve got no reason not to check them out. Unless your reason is that you don’t like awesome things and then we really can’t help you.
The Walking Dead – Whoa boy, that was a crazy episode! Rick rallied the troops to go kill all the Saviors but not before bringing home a load of supplies from The Hilltop to prove they had a partner worth killing for. The hour started quietly, though, as we watched Carol forage enough acorns to make what we can only assume are her World Famous Beet and Acorn cookies, which she happily distributed to all her neighbors. Her last stop was to Tobin’s, who she did a little flirting with at the same time. (The way Carol flirts, by the way, might explain her choices in men. Not everyone is won over by you calling them an asshole as you bat your eyes.) Later that night, she’s shown updating her journal, which seems to indicate how many people she’s killed by now, and she’s clearly not happy that this is what it’s come to. She decides to take a walk and have a cigarette, and she finds Tobin on his porch. He explains she’s a mom to everyone in the group, but he sees her differently, and they share a sweet first kiss. Not kissing anymore? Abraham and Rosita, who he dumps by explaining that when they met, he thought she was the last woman on earth and, well, she isn’t! Ouch. I feel like Sasha wouldn’t like that approach.
Being the mom that she is, Carol is furious that Maggie is even allowed to go on the raid (even as a lookout), which starts late at night, after a head is selected that resembles Gregory’s (moreso after Rick pummels it pretty good) and presented to the Savior guards. They are quickly and brutally killed, and the group proceeds inside to kill whoever they encounter, but mostly they start with people who are fast asleep. They kill these humans like they would kill a walker–knife through the skull. The scene where Glenn and Heath (who’d both confessed to each that they’d never killed a human) had to take two guys out was heartbreaking. Heath wasn’t up to it but Glenn took care of it for him. The room was chock full of pictures of people with their heads bashed in by baseball bats. Things got a little out of hand in the hallway, and erupted into a bit of a firefight. When all was said and done, though, the Grimes Gang emerged without a scratch. As they get ready to go (with Heath and Tara prepping to head out on a two week run), it’s discovered that Carol and Maggie are missing and have been captured. A female voice greets them on the walkie, so we know it’s not actually Negan; we don’t even know if she’s a Savior.Until next week…
That’s all we have time for this week, but we’ll be back next week with more of our favorites!