Happy Friday! It’s been a while, but The Friday Spotlight is back. We like to wrap the week up with a longer look at some of the shows we’ve been enjoying and talking about interesting new stuff. It’s fun, it’s educational, and it’s back!
Ash vs. Evil Dead – After far too long of a hiatus, Bruce Campbell is back as our favorite Deadite-fighting dirtbag. The new season opened with evil apparently vanquished. Ash took over his father’s old hardware store and relaunched it as “Ashy Slashy’s” because now he uses that chainsaw to slash prices. His commercial for the store was a thing of terrible beauty. Kelly got a job at a bar, Pablo’s hanging around the hardware store. Everything settled down.
Then a woman from Ash’s past showed up claiming to be his wife and the mother of a teenage daughter he didn’t know existed. And elsewhere, somebody brought the Necromicon to get appraised on an Antiques Roadshow knockoff. And then all hell broke loose. Ash went to the high school to meet his daughter, Brandy, but the Deadites chose that time to attack and Ash ended up facing a demon possessed music room. His wife died in the scuffle, and Ash pulled off maybe his best kill yet via harp. Kelly and her new pal Dalton (an emissary from the ancient order, the Knights of Sumeria) showed up just in time to help kill the school mascot. Dalton believes Ash is the Prophesized One and is so far not disappointed in the actual guy.
So not only is evil back, but Ash is raising a teenager. This is something for which he’s entirely unsuited, as you would imagine. And Ruby is back. She gave birth to a demon baby from Ash’s seed and if she can kill our hero, all his power will transfer to the child. She’s already feeding hitchhikers to the little one. There may actually be two Rubies because she’s also Brandy’s guidance counselor and it doesn’t seem like the one who gave birth to a monster has time for a day job.
Speaking of Ash’s seed, he started wondering if he had any other kids out there. Apparently he’s been donating at the sperm bank for years, because of course. He went there to take a look at the records, bribing a nurse with a 20% off coupon to his own store. And since he was there, he decided to make a deposit. The Deadites possessed not only a nurse but also the picture in a porn magazine, so she could reach out of the magazine to grab Ash. And that got us to a truly amazing sequence with Ash fighting a Deadite and a sentient magazine in a sperm back, scored to “Take On Me”. It was just the sort of bad taste blast that makes this show such a treasure.
Hap and Leonard: The Two-Bear Mambo – Joe R. Lansdale’s troublemaking pair returned for their third miniseries this week. It opened with a flashback to 1931, when an African-American musician in Grovetown, Texas made a deal with possibly the devil to become a great musician. (They drank pee. We don’t want to talk about it.) And it seemingly worked, until the Klan broke up the party and lynched the musician. Cut to the present (well, the eighties) with Hap and Leonard, badly injured, getting a police escort home. They look bad, they seem broken, and the first thing each of them did after returning home was find a gun. And then we jumped back in time three nights to Christmas Eve. Leonard was busy setting fire to the neighbors’ house (still the drug dealers from Mucho Mojo) until the cops brought them in. But not for the usual reasons – they needed the guys to try and find attorney Florida Grange, Hap’s ex-lover (and another Mojo regular). She went missing in Grovetown, and they figured Hap and Leonard could help find her.
After a pretty hilarious stop along the way when Leonard convinced an elderly couple that Hap was brain damaged, they reached Grovetown. They’d been warned, but it was still a surprise that they only saw white people when they got there and everybody gaped at Leonard. Their initial inquiries didn’t get them anywhere and it only took about five minutes before somebody slammed a flagpole through their windshield and carved a racial slur (the bad one) into the side of the car. Hap and Leonard has never really shied away from rural racism, but this is different from the quiet hostility Leonard usually faces. There are problems in Grovetown and if Florida went there, things are probably very bad for her right now. As an opening, it wasn’t as over-the-top as the past seasons (keeping in mind that a man shared a mason jar of pee with the devil), but it’s a great setup. And it was nice to see Hap and Leonard enjoy a nice road trip for part of an episode before things started getting bad. It’s such a good show and we’re pumped for the new season.
Good Girls – Well, this is a nice surprise. This new NBC drama is off to a great start and has our interest piqued. Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman star as suburban Michigan mothers facing various crises and barely staying afloat. After an array of setbacks, they convince themselves it’s a good idea to rob the store where Annie (Whitman) works. It’s a quick $30,000 which they figure is not enough to bring any serious law enforcement attention. But when they actually pull off the robbery, they walk away with half a million dollars.
They agree it’s too dangerous to spend any of it, but then Beth (Hendricks) needs to pay off her cheating husband’s debts, Ruby (Retta) seeks treatment for her sick daughter, and Annie just goes on a spending spree. So they’re missing a chunk of the money when the gang that was using the store to launder their money comes calling. Even returning everything they can, they’re still $60,000 short.
Meanwhile, Annie’s boss Boomer (David Hornsby from Always Sunny) figures out she was involved and uses that knowledge to try and extort sexual favors. But when Beth bursts in, there’s a scuffle and Boomer appears to be dead. In the second episode, though, we learn that he survived and the women are keeping him tied up in a treehouse, which is a much more interesting way to go. Now he’s an ongoing problem for these people who absolutely are not cut out to be criminals.
In some ways, it’s a network version of Breaking Bad, but it’s a lot lighter. It’s the comedy version (though Bad was really funny – you know what we mean) of the premise, with characters trying to learn how to pick locks from YouTube videos and completely half-assing a robbery to the extent that they end up cleaning the would-be victim’s living room. The cast is amazing and the premise pretty much requires consistent forward momentum. Like Breaking Bad or The Good Place, it (in theory) shouldn’t have a status quo. They can’t always owe a gang sixty thousand dollars, you know?
It’s harder and harder to buy into a network drama these days, but on the strength of the first two episodes, Good Girls is well worth checking out.
That’s all we have time for this week, but next time we’ll take a look at the new season of Baskets, probably talk about Ash some more, and see what else is good.