Hi! There are a bunch of things to talk about, but they don’t necessarily warrant a full article. And to be frank, I’m really short on time these days. So occasionally I like to clear to docket with some short Spunky Bits. I know I run the risk of turning these into Larry King’s old column, and if we get to that point, I’m just going to have to hang it up.
–I’m really enjoying Australian import Mr. InBetween on FX. It’s a half-hour comedy drama about a hitman who’s also a divorced dad, played by series creator Scott Ryan. (Who I will never not confuse with The Shield creator Shawn Ryan.) The first season is only six episodes, which FX doubled up to air over three weeks. I’m not a fan of blasting through a short season like that, but they renewed it for Season Two, so I guess the results speak for themselves.
I know between Killing Eve and Barry, we’re kind of saturated with hitman shows right now, but they’ve all got their own feel. InBetween is almost a slice-of-life show with a couple of recurring plot threads – almost the Better Things of murderer shows. I appreciate that it’s not a celebration of brutality, too. The new season of BoJack Horseman (which I will be reviewing soon) took on the argument that prestige TV doesn’t necessarily glamorize bad behavior, but it does help normalize it. And I’m still chewing over that idea and trying to figure out how to have an unsympathetic protagonist without doing just that, and Mr. InBetween kind of nails it. The focus isn’t on the violence (though it’s never far away), but on how this guy is trying to be a good dad and take care of his sick friend and trying to date while he does this terrible thing for money. It’s a delicate balance, but I’m really enjoying it (the season finale is airing just after I write this).
–Check out the trailer for Amazon’s Good Omens, based on the comedy fantasy novel written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I haven’t read the book in years, but the trailer gives me the impression that the story has been tweaked to focus much more on the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, since they are the entirety of the trailer. However, since those characters are being played by Michael Sheen and David Tennant, you can see them wanting to put their best foot forward.
–I have to say, I’m geeked for the return of True Detective. I didn’t hate the second season like some people did – I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it’s not essential viewing. If you’re catching up on years of TV, you can skip that season. But this time we’ve got Mahershala Ali on the case and a story that plays out over multiple time periods. It sounds like they’re getting back to the structural weirdness that made Season One sing. Plus, Scoot McNairy is in the cast and he’s quietly become one of my favorites over the last couple of years. He’s only listed for the premiere so far, so this could end up being a Fargo situation. Still, some Scoot is better than none. And it’s not his fault he’s at the heart of a lot of dumb stuff in Batman v. Superman. The man showed up and did his job.
–I’m almost totally punched out on Walking Dead these days. It’s become such a glum slog and the Saviors storyline ran maybe a season and a half longer than it needed to. At this point, I’m only checking in because I like Lauren Cohan a lot and her ABC show doesn’t start until midseason. I was pleased to see that the Season Nine premiere changed things up a little, but any talk of Negan is still too much. Also, big hunks of it played like the show became an adaptation of a resource management game.
That said, Fear the Walking Dead became an absolute blast this year. A mostly new cast (including Lennie James’ Morgan jumping over from the mothership) shifted the focus and brought some new energy. This is a show I was watching only out of loyalty to Kim Dickens and (SPOILEE!) they killed her halfway through the season. (With a fairly impressive timeline fakeout, I might add.) I think the thing I appreciate most (aside from Garrett Dillahunt just being so damn awesome) is that the characters have goals beyond survival. Maggie Grace’s Al, for example, wants to document the story of every survivor she meets. In the main show, having a goal beyond survival is usually what defines the villains. That’s not terribly interesting in the long term and led to some possibly inadvertent alarming politics in recent seasons. The new season of Fear ends with the characters working to set up a system that will let them provide help to other survivors, which has my interest piqued. It’s like 9-1-1 but with zombies! Which is still more realistic than 9-1-1. Anyway, if you slept on Fear or gave up early on, Season Four is the place to give it a chance.
–I’m a little too far behind to say much about it and not sound like a dope, but Lodge 49 is turning out to be very good. We need more magical realism on TV.
–Full reviews are hopefully coming soon, but I very much enjoyed the return of American Vandal which was less about breaking your heart for one dumb kid and more about making you empathize with a generation. Also, Matt Groening’s Disenchantment is great. I know that me liking a Groening show isn’t a surprise, but I really got caught up in it. It’s a show that builds as it goes and turns out to be more serialized than you expect, though that doesn’t reveal itself until later on. It actually ends on a pretty tense cliffhanger, and I was not ready for that. I’m especially into John DiMaggio as the working class king and Eric Andre’s tiny demon, Lucie. It doesn’t necessarily fill that Futurama void that we all have, but it still hits the sweet spot.
–I am just now realizing that I haven’t written about it at all yet, but you need to see Adult Swim’s Joe Pera Talks With You. It’s magnificent and we’ll talk later.
In the meantime, let me know if there are any new shows I should be watching!