TV Diary

a) "American Gods"
I regard any Bryan Fuller show as a major TV event, and this really seems like a good vehicle for going even further out with the imaginative visuals and abstract storytelling of "Hannibal" was headed towards in its last season. I do miss the impish the light whimsy of earlier Fuller shows like "Pushing Daisies," but Kristin Chenoweth is showing up soon so I'm looking forward to that. My wife read the Neil Gaiman book so I'm kind of relying on her to make sense of it for me when I get lost, but mostly I'm just enjoying the odd disorienting thing and the occasional coherent scene or memorable line of dialogue, hoping it eventually coheres a bit.

b) "Anne With An E"
I've never read Anne of Green Gables or seen any previous adaptation of it, so I have no idea how this rates. I got pretty bored by the endless 90 minute first episode, though.

c) "I Love Dick"
I enjoyed the first episode of "I Love Dick" that Amazon released as part of its pilot program last year, and was glad it became a full series. I don't think I'm much of a fan of Jill Soloway, but I like this more than "Transparent" or Afternoon Delight, and it really feels like an ideal vehicle for Kathryn Hahn, kind of a weird, textured, abstract meditation on sexuality and fantasy more than a straight up narrative show.

d) "Dear White People"
I thought that Dear White People was a flawed but impressive debut from writer/director Justin Simien and I was pretty interested to see what he could do in his second movie. So I feel a little underwhelmed by him following it up by just expanding it into a series for Netflix. Between the original short film in 2006, the feature in 2014, and now the series in 2017, he's basically spent over a decade mining this one idea. Obviously, campus racism is not a subject that's going to go away or stop providing material for commentary or satire anytime soon, so I was at least pretty optimistic that there was a lot of potential for the series. But in the episodes I've watched so far, it just kinda feels like they're going over the same subjects with the same tone and a slightly less impressive cast, and some extremely forced-sounding dialogue that sounds like it was cribbed from "woke" tweets from a few years ago.

e) "The President Show"
Comedy Central airing a weekly show depicting the sitting Republican president as a cartoonish buffoon is not exactly unprecedented, but I doubt Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "That's My Bush" has aged well. "The President Show" doesn't follow the same sitcom format, instead depicting Donald Trump as a talk show host, and Anthony Atamanuik has his own take on Trump that's distinct from, say, Alec Baldwin's that zeroes in a little more on his manic body language and abrupt mid-sentence shifts in grammar and intonation. It's an impressive performance but also kind of wearying and annoying. There are moments reminiscent of "The Colbert Report" where he manages to embody and comment on the 'character' in a really cutting way, but the whole format and concept of the show is genuinely hard to watch.

f) "The Handmaid's Tale"
This is a show that's hard to watch, but in a way that I respect more, because its depiction of a society that oppresses women isn't that far fetched and it really doesn't flinch from carrying out the premise to its logical extremes and implicating various aspects of our world as it is now. But I'll say it's one of the rare TV shows that benefits from voiceover, just because Elizabeth Moss gets to vent and say all these angry, sarcastic things that she'd never be able to say out loud, and kind of let you know what her character would be like in a less restrictive society. Some of the show's tone and directorial choices are really odd and disorienting, particularly the music, but sometimes I enjoy something like, say, "Don't You Forget About Me" being used without any overt nods to The Breakfast Club.

g) "Great News"
This show is created by longtime "30 Rock" writer Tracey Wigfield and has a bit of the feel of a more grounded "30 Rock," taking place in a newsroom with John Michael Higgins as the conceited on-camera talent. But I could already feel a bit of the manic pace and heightened reality of "30 Rock" seeping into "Great News" by the fifth episode, and I imagine it will only increase from there. Wigfield has a really funny recurring role as a meteorologist that makes me think she could've been in the cast, but I like the main cast as is, I've been kind of in love with Briga Heelan since the first season of "Love" and she's a good Mary Tyler Moore straight man for this goofy newsroom sitcom. I worry that Andrea Martin's role in "Difficult People" will be smaller because of this show, though, it'd be weird if a Tina Fey production steals her away from an Amy Poehler production.

h) "Genius."
Albert Einstein is one of those major 20th century figure who's been depicted onscreen much more often in comedic and satirical ways than in anything resembling a historically accurate biopic. This show intends to be more of the latter, but it still states its intention not take itself too seriously from the first scene, which features an aging Einstein fucking a lady against a chalkboard. Apparently he was a bit of a womanizer in real life, though, which is something interesting to learn through this show, I suppose. The way the show jumps between different eras of his life is interesting, although I dunno how much I love that as a format for every episode of a series.

i) "Problematic With Moshe Kasher"
The extent to which Comedy Central has become a hub for liberal/progressive comedy that addresses racism and sexism often seems kind of accidental, like they don't really care if they have Jon Stewart or Carlos Mencia as long as people are watching. So I approached their discussion panel show "Problematic," hosted by a comedian who's pretty clever and relatable but also has the most annoying hipster haircut in the world, with some trepidation. The show does a decent job of handling delicate topics while also finding the right places to slip in a joke, it's not great so far but I think they're avoiding some of the most obvious pitfalls a show like this could fall into.

j) "The White Princess"
I've watched a few episodes of this but I'm really just over all these period pieces and medieval England in particular is just not very interesting to me.

k) "The Arrangement"
I really thought this unlikely little show on E! turned out to be one of the stronger new cable dramas of the last few months, but the back half of the season wasn't quite as interesting as the first, and it kinda felt like it got a little humorless as they ramped up the drama. I liked the direction they took the plot in, though, and the finale set up a second season pretty interestingly.

l) "Shots Fired"
Jonathan Demme directed an episode of "Shots Fired," and by coincidence it was scheduled to air the day he passed away. So it was interesting to watch that episode kind of knowing that it was, in a way, perhaps the last film by a major director. But really it was just another episode of a pretty solid show, with maybe some slightly more artful camera angles than its other episodes. I really like it, though, Sanaa Lathan has this really captivating, volatile energy, which is interesting given that she's supposed to be the character investigating someone else's mistake.

m) "Making History"
This show has been canceled but FOX is still airing the episodes they produced, and it's really grown on me. It's such a self consciously stupid time travel show that doesn't shy away from the obvious jokes, but I enjoy what they've done with it. Leighton Meester has really revealed herself as a good straight man comic foil for someone as goofy as Adam Pally.

n) "American Housewife"
I'm glad this show got picked up for a second season, even if I kinda wish ABC would've kept "The Real O'Neals" instead. The cast has really started to gel, I feel like Ali Wong's character is deservedly getting more and more screentime.

o) "Chelsea"
For years I found it really irritating that Chelsea Handler was the de facto center of the "why aren't there more women in late night" conversation because she's really just not that good and there are dozens of other women who should have shows instead. And moving to Netflix hasn't really seemed to do her any favors, although to be fair talk shows are one format that may not be able to make the transition to streaming channels. Sarah Silverman recently signed to do a talk show for Hulu, and this Vanity Fair headline seemed to pretty directly refer to the idea that "Chelsea" is already a failure. I never checked it out when it debuted last year, but I gave the new season a try, and it really just feels as flat as her old show on E!, even when they're trying to be as edgy and political as possible with all the Trump material.

p) "Quantico"
This show is so ridiculous but I still watch and enjoy it. Lately they've gotten really topical, there have been episodes about 'fake news' and a Muslim ban, and it really just kind of felt so awkward and poorly executed, I feel like the show should probably stick to its more traditional spy soap opera elements.

q) "Rosewood"
This show is kind of goofy and slight but I've really enjoyed it, I'm bummed that they're canceling it. But also, the main character has a heart condition and could die at any moment so it feels like a cheat that they're ending the show with him still alive? Or maybe it's nice and optimistic? Yeah, I'll go with that.

r) "iZombie"
I'm happy that this show has gone into its 3rd season with the main character's secret finally being out in the open and known by most of the other characters, because really keeping a secret is kind of a boring played out way to drive drama in TV. Also I'm happy that Aly from Aly & AJ was finally upgraded to a main cast member, she's pretty adorable. But I'm not happy that The CW waited until April to start the new season. C'mon, it's The CW, it's not like you have many other decent shows.

s) "Once Upon A Time" 
My wife has been faithfully watching this show for six seasons, and she was really feeling like it had run its course and was ready to stop watching it even if they renew it. But they did renew it, with lead actress Jennifer Morrison departing, so she really felt like they were just dragging it out unnecessarily. But I watched the finale with her, and we were both pleasantly surprised at how they kind of dovetailed the story into what the new season will likely be about, it was a pretty good idea. That musical episode they did recently was not so good, though.

t) "Saturday Night Live"
I feel bad for Kyle Mooney that after 4 years they're still doing jokes about he's the weird guy in the cast who's not very famous and barely gets any screentime, I feel like he has a good niche that they should've found more room for by now. The Melissa McCarthy episode was good, though, it felt like a good possible cap on the whole Sean Spicer saga which always seems to be on the verge of ending.

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