I hated the second season of Legion so much I almost quit, but hearing that Season 3 will be its last, I suppose that motivates me to finish it. Might as well, right? Maybe it’ll have a good final run, regain its entertaining yet coherent (enough) weirdness from the first season. It comes back Monday, June 24th.
One of the best new shows of last year is back in August with a new season. I had some issues with its first season, but mostly nitpick-y things. It was pretty enjoyable overall and it even improved in my memory over time, actually. Looking forward to it coming back.
Yay! I’m all here for the new season of one of my favorite shows ever, but I wish this was a longer trailer. Apparently all the episodes are dropping at once on Hulu on Friday, July 26th and they got everybody from the original cast back (or just about everybody- you still can’t see most of them in this teaser yet).
The latest original show from DC’s streaming service is Swamp Thing, premiering May 31st. This trailer makes it look like a straight horror series, hyping up James Wan’s name for credibility purposes in the genre. Hilariously though, the Swamp Thing himself doesn’t look all that different from the one in the Wes Craven 1982 B-movie with Adrienne Barbeau.
Ava Duvernay’s highly anticipated miniseries on the Central Park Five is expected to drop on Netflix May 31st. The trailer makes it seem every bit as compelling and tragic as the real life case, where Donald Trump infamously called for their execution by publishing a full page ad, an act which he has refused to apologize for to this very day, 17 years after the boys were completely exonerated and released from prison.
Some excellent choices for the eight entertainment winners for the prestigious Peabody award were announced today, to be handed out on May 23rd. Biggest kudos for choosing to honor The End of the F***ing World, my favorite show of 2018 by far. Nanette was fantastic too.
2018 PEABODY WINNERS
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
Random Acts of Flyness
The End of the F***ing World
The Good Place
This is one of those shows I enjoyed but did not think needed a second season, so who knows how this will go. It was only one book, so is there going to be a new mystery or is it all about the women keeping their secret from Meryl Streep, who’s playing the late Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgaard) mother? Even star Nicole Kidman said she didn’t know how it would turn out and admitted the fact that they all like hanging out together doesn’t necessarily justify doing another season, lol. But it’s starting June 9th so I guess we’ll see!
Yay! As a longtime, original member of the Veronica Mars fandom, I’m all in for the new eight episode revival season being launched by Hulu. And now we have a premiere date! July 26th, everyone- a summer run. Mark your calendars. The (no longer teen) detective is back.
The new BBC production of Les Miserables is back to basics- this is a non-musical, straightforward telling of the classic Victor Hugo novel in miniseries form, but for all that it doesn’t do what is required to justify revisiting this story for the umpteenth time, and that’s bring something new to the table. To be fair, at this point Les Mis is sort of like A Christmas Carol- we all know the plot, we know the characters, we know what has to happen to all of them and in what order. Aside from the choice to sing or not to sing, there’s only so much you can do with it.
Dominic West stars as Jean Valjean in this one, a good choice who brings a gruff physicality to the role along with a sincerity of struggle that goes into his existential crisis as he tries to transform himself into a good man. His charisma and presence carries you through the six episodes, as the other actors don’t bring a whole lot of life into their archetypal roles. Lily Collins is a fine Fantine, as we get a much slower, more drawn out process in her suffering and death this time around, but the role remains as melodramatic as ever, and David Oyelowo lacks spark as Javert, who hankers down on one note (re: angry) for the entire series and his scenes get tedious. Worst of all though, is Ellie Bamber and Josh O’Connor as the older Cosette and Marius. These characters are thankless enough, and I don’t know that there’s anything any actor can do to make these two interesting, but if there is, they didn’t find it with these bland performances. It’s a slog to get through the last couple of episodes while the two most irritating teenagers act like ignorant fools so that “love can conquer all.” Right.
One exception in the casting is Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar as Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, who bring a delicious Dickensian villainy to their relatively small parts, but it isn’t enough to recommend sitting through all six episodes of this show. You might get something out of it if you’ve never seen any other version of Les Mis before, but there are loads better ones than this. The most I can say is that it’s a faithful, meticulous and handsomely wrought production, but it gets very boring once Valjean and Cosette escape to the convent. The early scenes of his escape from prison and quest to do right by Fantine and rescue the little girl are as effective as ever (the story is timeless for a reason after all), and West really does do well at carrying this whole series on his shoulders, but there isn’t much reason for this one to exist. One thing they did do differently was color bind casting in many of the supporting roles (Oyelowo, Akhtar and Erin Kellyman as Eponine), so that’s nice to see, but it doesn’t change the framework of the story, and I think if you’re going to keep doing this you really have to spice it up to make it feel like something you haven’t seen before. Then again, how many versions of A Christmas Carol are there? Perhaps Jean Valjean’s redemption really is a story that can be retold over and over again.
Coming off its worst season, it was up to You’re the Worst to re-right the ship and bring it in for a solid landing in its fifth and final year. I’m happy to say they did that, with minimal ups and downs, for the most part, as Jimmy and Gretchen’s unconventional romance came to a sensible (for them) non-conclusion in the series finale.
After getting engaged in the fourth season finale, Jimmy and Gretchen spent most of the fifth season planning a wedding, an action which doesn’t make much sense for either of them as we’ve come to know them over the years. They make fun of the very idea of marriage, and most of all weddings, concocting elaborate lies of their “fairy tale romance” to the wedding planner in the season premiere, which plays out as a fantasy spoof of a 90’s rom-com, a genre that the show itself was created to subvert the tropes of.
So inevitably, Gretchen begins to fall apart as she always does, being promoted at work just so that she can sabotage herself, stealing Edgar’s various meds and attempting to see if Jimmy will abandon her the more she spirals, as is her greatest fear. Jimmy doesn’t do it, remaining committed to Gretchen through his own cheating slip with the wedding florist, and committed to overlooking and ignoring the increasing warning signs of her deterioration and self-destruction. The show was always about whether two supremely screwed up people can actually find happiness with another person, but I couldn’t help but think Jimmy is a lot more stable than Gretchen, who probably has one moment of clarity this entire season, when she dresses down Edgar for warning Jimmy against marrying her the night before the wedding.
Edgar is right of course, as his pathetic puppy-dog loyalty to Jimmy finally reaches a breaking point when he makes the fateful decision to do that, leading Jimmy and Gretchen to finally reach a resolution about marriage and their relationship as a whole in the final episode. It wouldn’t have made sense for them to walk happily down the aisle, but breaking them up for good also seems the wrong way to go in a series finale for a show that still worked as a romantic comedy, even if was about subverting its tropes and mocking their happy endings. So they heed Edgar’s advice, somewhat, and don’t go through with the ceremony, instead choosing to stay together, unmarried, for as long as they can happily remain so (though I have questions about the montage that shows them having a kid in the future, as a baby is a much bigger commitment than marriage, and with Gretchen’s mental illness, that seems bound to end in bigger tragedy, especially if they want their relationship to remain about each other).
In supporting character news, Edgar finally breaks apart from Jimmy, even though he must kill their friendship to do so (bittersweet, but the two are reconciled in the flash forward reveals, which originally teased a Gretchen-Jimmy break up only to fake you out- nicely done), and Lindsay winds up maturing just enough to realize she was better off with Paul all along (I could have told her that much back in the first season). The season isn’t quite as funny as past ones have been, but what you miss in laughs is made up for in poignancy. Stephan Falk brings it back around in a way that mostly makes sense for all the characters (Paul, Vernon and Becca included, though I don’t think an entire mid-season episode revolving around them was necessary), and gives you the unconventional semi-happy ending that stays in line with the nature of Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship as we observed it. It’s as satisfying as you could have wanted it.