'Succession' Season 2 Starts August 11th

A new teaser for the second season of HBO’s Succession came out today, and we now have a premiere date- August 11th. I’m starting to get inundated with summer shows this year- Big Little Lies, Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Veronica Mars, GLOW, Succession and the final seasons of Legion and Jessica Jones coming soon. Phew. And then there’s Netflix’s Mindhunter, a really good show whose second season is long overdue and still rumored to be coming in August, but not confirmed yet. Much busier than last year on the show front.

'Jessica Jones' Has a New Villain in the Final Season

Jessica Jones was canceled by Netflix, same as all their other Marvel shows, but they still had one last season in the can, so it’s dropping next Friday, June 14th. I actually hated the second season, so I can’t say I’m looking forward to this one that much (are we really supposed to be rooting for Trish as a superhero now after her total character assassination in Season 2?), but I suppose I’ll have to finish it off.

REVIEW: "Killing Eve" Season 2 / "Barry" Season 2

KILLING EVE SEASON 2

Villanelle and Eve’s back and forth continues

Villanelle and Eve’s back and forth continues

The second season of Killing Eve had a lot to live up to, not least because its creator Pheobe Waller-Bridge stepped away to return to her previous series Fleabag, handing over the showrunning capabilities to Emerald Fennell, who will in turn be stepping down after this season and turning the reigns over to someone else next year. This consistent turnover in showrunners makes for potential unevenness from season to season, and this season was less surprising and amusing than last, in spite of continued good performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in the lead roles. After a great premiere that balanced Eve’s dark comedy and brutal violence perfectly, the show started to spin its wheels as Comer’s Villanelle slowly tried to get back to London to reunite with her beloved Eve, who had stabbed her at the end of last season and then run away. Now the two are more obsessed with each other than ever, and Eve is slowly starting to lose it as she wonders whether she’s the same as the happy go lucky murderer Villanelle. But the show somewhat clunkily made its way towards recreating the status quo of Season 1 (Eve and a new MI-6 team tracking down another assassin, Villanelle reunited with her Russian handler Konstantin), before turning on a dime to suddenly force Eve and Villanelle to work together on an MI-6 mission to target potential psychopath tech guru Aaron Peele (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). The season had good and even great moments strung throughout, which is why you can’t miss an episode, but overall it was a step down from Season 1, as you wonder just how long this cat and mouse game can continue (even the finale cliffhanger is kind of a repeat of last season’s). Aaron Peele himself was an intriguing wretch though, and a character who started to make me wonder how Villanelle would act alongside other psychopaths like herself, more so than with Eve, whose breakdown is getting kind of tiresome. Jodie Comer continues to be a wonder as the playful psycho, but she’s far too dangerous to be turned into an antihero, something I wonder if the show is attempting to move towards. Sorry, but that would be suspending disbelief a little too far.

Grade: B


BARRY SEASON 2

Barry confides in Cousineau

Barry confides in Cousineau

The other black comedy about an assassin that just aired its second season was Barry, and in contrast to Killing Eve, this show ascended from “really good” to “great” as it was ever more hilarious, shocking, brutal and unexpected in all aspects. The first season won two acting Emmys for Bill Hader and Henry Winkler, who both returned in fine form, but this time the spotlight was stolen by standouts Anthony Carrigan as Hank, the world’s sweetest Chechen mobster, and Stephen Root’s Fuches, Barry’s former mentor, given a lot of juicy material to work with and delivering in every single scene. In a just world they would both receive Emmy nominations for their work this season. After killing Detective Moss at the end of last year, Barry resolves not to kill anyone again and recommit himself to acting, but freak incidents keep pulling him back into the mob world, even as he does have some success in pulling himself out onstage in the form of explorations into his violent past. We sort of get Barry’s origin story this season, as we see how his military background fueled his prone to rage personality, while Fuches is targeted by the continuing Moss investigation and Hank recruits Barry to train his incompetent hitmen. Even though Barry can get dark, intense and serious, every episode is still laugh out loud funny, never sacrificing comedy for drama or thinking one can’t be the other. Winkler’s role is far more dramatic this season, as Cousineau deals with Moss’ death, and even Sally (Sarah Goldberg) gets her chance to shine in an interlude with an abusive ex-boyfriend and an extended monologue about women in the industry near the season’s end that rivals Teri Garr’s in Tootsie. Bill Hader continues to challenge himself in every area from acting to writing and directing, most particularly a surreal episode about a hit gone wrong that goes to hilariously wild places from moment to moment. You never quite know what will happen on this show, and the combination of suspense, black comedy, violence and action, all packed into a tight 30 minutes makes for a season that was, for me, just about perfection. There’s nothing else like Barry on TV right now and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Grade: A

REVIEW: "Riverdale" Season 3 / "Supergirl" Season 4

RIVERDALE SEASON 3

New couple Reggie and Veronica bring some intrigue to the insanity of  Riverdale

New couple Reggie and Veronica bring some intrigue to the insanity of Riverdale

As one of the most bonkers shows on TV, how would Riverdale top last year’s obsession with serial killers? Apparently, the answer was cults! Yes, lots and lots of cults take the place of the Red Hood saga (although that too makes a mini-resurgence in the final part of Season 3). Funnily enough, I do think this season was somewhat more entertaining than last year’s, but when there’s multiple episodes of people ranting and raving about (when not running from) the mysterious Gargoyle King (the leader of the cultish Dungeons & Dragons-esque game that all the Riverdale teens are obsessed with), along with an episode where Archie is literally beaten up by a bear (seriously), the sheer level of ludicrousness can’t help but be consistently watchable. I also think it helps that Archie and Veronica are broken up this year (the two are for more enjoyable when not together), and the halfhearted introduction to a Reggie/Veronica/Archie triangle seemed like it could have been interesting, but oddly, the show doesn’t seem to want to go full steam ahead with it. The other cult in the mix this season was “The Farm,” a bunch of Scientology inspired, organ-harvesting loons led by Chad Michael Murray, who recruited Betty’s mom Alice and sister Polly, along with several of the Riverdale teens like Kevin, Cheryl and Toni, as Betty tries over and over (it does get a little repetitive) to infiltrate the group and save her family. As a soap opera, Riverdale remains one of the nuttiest shows on TV, but leans into its mania to an inspired degree at times, with multiple musical moments, an episode where the teens played their own parents in flashback, and as always, murder. Lots of murder (Dilton Doylie joins dearly departed Midge this season as Archies characters that never got their chance to shine). But it never bores me, I’ll give it that. On a final note, the recent death of Luke Perry led to the departure of Fred Andrews, the sole voice of reason in the entire town, but the show hasn’t addressed his absence onscreen yet (the hole he left will seemingly be filled by Molly Ringwald as Archie’s mom Mary, in a more regular role). 

Grade: B

SUPERGIRL SEASON 4

Supergirl  finally finds its footing in Season 4

Supergirl finally finds its footing in Season 4

Of the flagship superhero shows on the CW, I never would have thought Supergirl would be the only one I was still watching after all these years. But yes, this was the year that The Flash became so bad that I was forced to bail (very similar to what happened to me during Season 3 of Arrow), while surprisingly enough, this was finally the year that Supergirl came into its own. Season 4 started out strong and finished on the same note, as it was obvious right away it finally had a sure focus and a clearer vision that it’s ever possessed. From the start, it took the relevant theme of humans vs. aliens to its logical metaphorical conclusion, real world parallels intentional and unsubtle. Sam Witwer (an actor almost too good for this network) joined the cast as anti-alien extremist Ben Lockwood, who soon morphed into the dastardly Agent Liberty, leading the hate movement against all aliens, while the equally charismatic David Ajala (above) showed up as Manchester Black, a radical on the opposite side, leading an alien revolt against human agitators. Supergirl herself is caught in the middle, while sister Alex plays for the government and Martian Manhunter and Brainiac 5 (Brainy) play sidekick to Kara for the most part. Nicole Maines also joined the cast this year as Nia Nal/Dreamer, the first transgender superhero. As always, with 22 episodes to air, there’s a fair share of filler (Alex’s late breaking forced romance with James’s sister Kelly is already deathly boring and unbearable), but the ratio of good to bad episodes this season was well over .500. Jon Cryer introduces us to a very hammy Lex Luthor, whose masterplan to sic Kara’s evil Russian twin “Red Daughter” on the planet was pretty good, but the familial interactions with sister Lena provided the high points of his appearances (please let Lena go evil- Katie McGrath’s cold, intimidating presence is wasted as a good guy and she’d be a great villainess). I hope the show has finally found itself for good- disposing of any sort of love interest for Kara seems to have worked in its favor, but finding charismatic actors like Witwer and Ajala as antagonists could also be a one season fluke. Let’s hope it’s the former.

Grade: B+