All the Light We Cannot See
Early in For All Mankind Season 4, Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) and Dani Poole (Krys Marshall) reencounter each other for the first time in years on the Happy Valley Mars base. Smiling warmly, each says, “Hi, Bob,” to each other. For fans of the show, it has an immediate impact. The significance of the silly greeting reminds those audience members of the deep bond between these two astronauts. Newcomers likely won’t grasp the specifics of the importance, but Marshall and Kinnaman’s performances make it quite clear that it isn’t some random bit of silliness. Continue Reading →
As the TV series Everything Now begins, Mia (Sophie Wilde) is eager for freedom. After spending months in a hospital undergoing treatment for her anorexia, her supervisor, Dr. Nell (Stephen Fry), has decided she’s well enough to return to school with her best friends Becca (Lauryn Ajufo), Cam (Harry Cadby), and Will (Noah Thomas). Cooped up inside for what seemed like an eternity, Mia is bursting with enthusiasm about finally undergoing many teenage rites of passage like first dates and big parties. Continue Reading →
Welcome to Wrexham
Welcome to Wrexham Season 2 opens with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney telling the audience, directly to camera, that they’ve spoken to the King of England. It’s a good gag, with both demonstrating their talents for comedic timing. It is also the kind of thing that makes avowed anti-Royalists and fans of Season 1—of which this critic is both—a bit nervous. Continue Reading →
As Melissa (Cicely Strong) explicitly points out, the musicals that inspired the first season of Schmigadoon! were all of a relatively similar happy-go-lucky and “they all lived happily ever after” cloth. Her attempt to return to that mystical world with her now husband Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) in Schmigadoon! Season 2 takes them instead to Schmicago. It is another mythic town that mirrors musicals, but this time out, it’s the shows of the 60s and 70s. The Broadway shows of that era were darker, more complex, more violent, and far less likely to deliver a happy ending. That, paired with their motivation to flee the drudgery of day-to-day life and the heartbreak of infertility, means escaping will take something far more challenging to find than “love.” Continue Reading →
Hello Tomorrow! is a lot like its lead character Jack Billings (Billy Crudup). It looks great, for one. For another, it keeps dancing in the hopes that you won’t catch on to exactly how hollow its charms are, even when the music stops. And, like Billings, you almost want Hello Tomorrow! to get away with it. Unfortunately, they’re both running confidence games that they can’t land. Continue Reading →
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Fleishman Is in Trouble, the adaptation of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel starring Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, and Lizzy Caplan, has a first-act problem. Or rather, a first-episode problem. Continue Reading →
One of the hardest things in television is creating the impression of change without breaking the show or making it feel like half-assed window dressing. That’s the problem facing Mythic Quest at the start of Season 3. Continue Reading →
The Shrink Next Door
If I were to tell you that Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd were starring in a comedic miniseries about a hapless, neurotic man whose entire life is taken over by his overbearing psychiatrist, you’d be forgiven for assuming that (a) Ferrell plays the psychiatrist and Rudd his patient, and (b) it’d be a pretty funny movie. In fact, the opposite is true: Rudd, in a rare villainous role, is the doctor, and the series, Apple TV+’s The Shrink Next Door, isn’t particularly funny. Oh, there are some amusing moments, but they’re more likely to elicit laughs of the uncomfortable kind, as the viewer is torn between sympathizing with its protagonist and wanting desperately to shake some sense into him Continue Reading →
It's a Sin
In 1979, the Village People released the song “Ready for the 80’s” on their double-LP Live and Sleazy. The song is upbeat and bright, full of hope and promise. The group sings “I’m ready for the 80s / Ready for the time of my life” throughout the chorus, and one verse starts “Everything is gonna work out fine / I have faith in this old world of mine / We'll be loving in the bright sunshine.” Listening to this song over 40 years later, you can’t shake a sense of dramatic irony. In the end, the 80’s weren’t kind to the Village People, disco, or queer men in general. As I watched the opening episode of Russell T. Davies' latest mini-series, It’s a Sin, I kept thinking of this song and its optimistic outlook for a new decade, an optimism echoed in the fresh faces of its cast, blissfully unaware of the heartbreak awaiting them. Continue Reading →
The Plot Against America
David Simon and Ed Burns' adaptation of the Philip Roth novel paints a harrowing picture of an alternate America that feels all too prescient.
HBO’s latest miniseries imagines a world where renowned pilot, isolationist, and anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh runs for president and defeats FDR in 1940. What follows is a rise in anti-Semitic hate and fascism throughout America. And as you watch the series, you’d be forgiven for thinking this a pretty in-your-face way to address the Trump administration. That might be true, but the series is based on the Philip Roth novel of the same name which was released more than 15 years ago in 2004. If anything, Roth’s The Plot Against America has been frustratingly, dishearteningly prescient. It’s no wonder showrunners David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire) were drawn to it.
The show follows the Levin family (originally the Roths in the novel) as they deal with the shifting political tide and how it strains their family bonds. Father Herman (Morgan Spector) is an outspoken liberal who finds Lindbergh distasteful and disgusting. Wife Bess (Zoe Kazan) frets constantly for the safety of her family, remembering all too well how isolating it was to be the only Jewish girl in her class growing up.
Michele K. Short/HBO
Cousin Alvin shares Herman’s political leanings, but is determined to act, eventually signing up for the Canadian army in order to “kill Nazis.” Meanwhile, impressionable young Sandy (Caleb Malis) grapples with his hero Lindbergh’s politics while his little brother Phillip (Azhy Robertson) tries to make sense of it all. Things are only further complicated when Bess’s sister Evelyn (Winona Ryder) falls for Rabbi Bengelsdorf (John Turturro), a staunch Lindbergh supporter. Continue Reading →