Much of what follows over the next several days will be re-posts of what I've written during the year, although the first entry is all new.
The Americans. I haven’t written much about this show over the years, for no apparent reason, since if it’s not the best show on TV, it’s in the top two. There have been four seasons, with two to go, so you have plenty of time to catch up. The premise is intriguing: in the early 1980s, we follow the Jennings family, a typical American nuclear family except Mom and Dad are secretly Soviet spies. This angle never gets old, but what raises The Americans above pretty much every other show on the air is that the premise isn’t even the main reason to tune in every week. The ongoing story of the Jennings is the key, and Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell have been great since day one. As spies, they are required to manipulate others ... Rhys’ “Philip” even marries another woman who is the secretary for an important FBI supervisor. Philip and “Elizabeth” take different approaches to their jobs ... Philip comes to appreciate life in the USA more than Elizabeth does. They also find themselves becoming closer as a couple, having been originally assigned each other. There are a number of other fine actors, especially Noah Emmerich as an FBI agent who moves in across the street from the Jennings, and Margo Martindale as one of the Jennings’ handlers. Luckily, the show has a winner in Holly Taylor, who plays Philip and Elizabeth’s teenage daughter, Paige. Teenage characters are often annoying, but Taylor has grown with her role, and been given more to do as a result. One interesting plot twist is that Paige discovers religion, which really pisses her Communist mother off. Meanwhile, the violence on the show is occasion, but often brutal, even in arguably the most romantic moment of the entire series, when Philip has to extract a tooth from Elizabeth, without an anesthetic. One of the only undisputed “A” shows on television today.
Angie Tribeca. “Angie Tribeca, like its spiritual father Police Squad, is so relentless is its destruction of clichés that it’s hard to watch an ordinary show after seeing an episode of Angie. Things that aren’t supposed to be funny on something like Supergirl remind you of something similar on Angie Tribeca that was supposed to be funny, and you end up laughing inappropriately.”
Ash vs. Evil Dead. “Perhaps the easiest TV series in history to evaluate. If you like the Evil Dead movies, you will like this show. If not, you won’t. And I suppose if you’ve never even heard of the Evil Dead movies, you won’t like this either. This is possibly the goriest show we’ve ever seen on TV, which is right in line with the movies (if for some reason you aren’t up to date, this show is part of the Evil Dead universe, taking place after the events of Army of Darkness). The entire show is over the top, including the gore, which can’t be taken on a serious level ... the inspiration for all of this is the Three Stooges. No one tries to make a case for the Evil Dead universe as meaningful ... it’s just a silly gore fest that has the honesty to know what it is about. Plus, Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless. One of my favorite shows, but if ever the cliché “Your Mileage May Vary” was appropriate, it’s here.
Atlanta. “Might be the best new show in recent times, although it’s erratic. Donald Glover created and stars in it, and he offers a small world that feels real (whether or not it actually is), with characters (and actors) to fill their roles perfectly. This show might get so good in future seasons that we’ll look back on Season One as a mere warm-up, but it stands on its own.”
The Americans Season 4 promo:
Angie Tribeca Season 2 Episode 1 "Hyper Binge"
Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 Trailer (NSFW):