The Good Fight s3 ep 10

*SPOILERS*

Julius is leaving to become a judge, which is wonderful for him – there are Julius cookies! – but not wonderful for the show, because Julius is a great character. Maybe we’ll see him on the bench, maybe not. Meantime, the firm needs to replace him: Lucca or Rosalyn (me neither)? There’s an interesting sub-plot about race – it’s worth noting that many of the best parts of this season have been about race – and blackness, and I’d have liked some more scenes on that, but instead the partners lose their minds and offer the equity partnership to EFFING MAIA RINDELL, back again like a bad smell, and now in cahoots with the equally wretched one-man stink bomb that is Roland Blum. At least Maia was just wet and boring before they teamed up, but now she’s also self-righteous, hypocritical and helping ruin the finale, so thanks Maia. THANKS.

What was I saying? Oh, yes, Reddick Boseman’s big play to sabotage Blum’s plan is to offer Maia a minimum five-year partnership despite her INNATE AWFULNESS and the fact she is quite determinedly helping him try to destroy them. I hate almost every aspect of this storyline and adding Judge Toby from This Is Us into the mix does not make it better. I mean, I’m sure he’s perfectly nice in real life, but all I can see is TOBY. I will admit that the Judy Giraffe and ASMR stuff is funny, though, so I suppose that’s something. And it seems to end with Maia and Blum going off to DC, so maybe we’ll get lucky and they won’t come back. Or maybe we’ll get even luckier and they’ll be struck by lightning balls on the way there. And then they definitely won’t come back. A girl can hope.

Anyway. While the partners are dealing with this nonsense, Marissa and Jay try to “handle” the Book Club woman in the most ham-fisted, guaranteed-to-make-things-worse fashion possible. “That didn’t go the way I expected,” says Marissa. “REALLY?” says CJ. Because it went exactly the way *I* thought it would, but there we go. At least there’s still time to squeeze a sweet little story about Diane and Kurt in – it’s adorable – and one last short, before we end the season with a genuinely disturbing cliffhanger putting them both in terrible danger. Which… NO. If anything happens to either of them, my posts next season might be even angrier than this one.

Notwithstanding the brilliant, if terrifying, final few seconds then, ”The One About the End of the World” is a confusing, disappointing finale for a confusing, disappointing season. I understand that The Good Fight showrunners’ view is that that’s the best way to respond to the confusing, disappointing world we find ourselves in, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. The main cast were of course magnificent throughout the run, there were a handful of episodes which I did really enjoy and lots of excellent aspects even to the ones I didn’t, but this wasn’t just a “difficult” third season, it was a demented one and I found much of it deeply frustrating. If I weren’t a Good super-fan, and if I didn’t love the cast so much, I might have given up, but now we’ve made it to the end of season 3, I really, really hope the show gets its mojo back for season 4, because even I can’t be doing with much more of this.

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Public Service Announcement 39 of 2019: I Can Go For That – The Smooth World Of Yacht Rock; Thatcher: A Very British Revolution

On Friday night at 9pm BBC 4 is showing the first episode of a two-part series, ‘I Can Go For That – The Smooth World Of Yacht Rock’. Even if it just consists of the Doobie Brothers’ nonpareil ‘What A Fool Believes‘, looped over and over again, that would do me. But we’re promised everything from Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac to Toto and Hall & Oates. I might actually die of a joyous overdose of 70s American studio sounds. Truman Capote famously compared Venice to “eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go”. He hadn’t watched two whole hours of yacht rock (Friday 14 June, 9pm, BBC Four).

And moving from music porn to the political kind, I wholeheartedly recommend another BBC series. ‘Thatcher: A Very British Revolution’ is a five-parter about the rise and fall of the old milk-snatcher herself. For those of us of a certain age it’ll bring back memories we’d done our very best to suppress: as well as the lady herself, there are any number of half-forgotten faces from the 70s and 80s popping up to haunt us once more. Lord Heseltine! Ken Baker! Sir Keith Joseph! Unmissable. Still running, but all episodes shown to date are available on the iPlayer.

The Blacklist s6 ep 1

It’s a typically swaggering start to a new season of The Blacklist: armed bank robbers are demanding money, banging on about their to-the-second timetable, and so on, when they’re interrupted by one of the bank’s customers. Who then proceeds to offer a detailed critique of their style. He can do that, of course, because he’s legendary criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington. (Actually, as we established at the end of season 5 that’s one thing he definitely isn’t, but until we have an alternative name I think that’s what we’re stuck with for now.) He then executes a theft of his own, stealing a famously missing Van Gogh from a safety deposit box, only to return it the next day. But why? Just, he claims, to prove to himself that he’s still got it.

I’m not sure I believe that. Meantime, though, he supplies a Blacklist name to the Task Force: Dr Hans Koehler, plastic surgeon to the underworld. Ressler gets a bit snarky about this, understandably wondering why the FBI is still doing Red’s bidding; although a moment’s reflection would presumably remind him that everyone in the Task Force now has dirty hands in one way or another. Koehler and his team are presently being held captive by Bastien Moreau, a criminal known as The Corsican (Christopher Lambert. “Scenery? Nom nom nom.”).

While this is going on Liz and her sister Jennifer are on a road trip to Liz’s childhood home, the one that burned down and allowed the Reddington swap to take place. Liz is determined that, for now, she’s not going to tell Red that she’s found out the truth about him. She even makes a remark about wanting to prove herself to be a better actor than Red, which might be capable of being read as an oblique, meta comment on the alleged nature of the off-camera relationship between Megan Boone and James Spader. Unfortunately she does this with the sort of loaded dialogue which makes it clear that something’s changed. You’d need to be incredibly stupid – something else Red isn’t – to miss the hints being dropped.

And when Koehler has been found and Liz returns to the Task Force, it’s to make the usual complaint: yes, Red has of course been employing them to track someone down for his own interests. “I thought we were past this!” Liz snaps. “Using us to catch the people you can’t!” Why in the name of eff she thinks they’re “past this” is a mystery which goes unaddressed. That’s kind of what he does, Liz. Red’s purpose this time appears to have been to get Koehler’s client list before the FBI does, as it contains details of his own plastic surgery, which could be inconvenient. Koehler dies; the Corsican lives; no doubt we’ll see him again. Standard still high.

Public Service Announcement 38 of 2019: Wild Bill

Say what you like about Rob Lowe – and I liked him in The West Wing, less so in Parks and Rec – but he’s a Name. And a proper American TV star, soon to be the lead in 9-1-1: Lone Star, a forthcoming spin-off from Unpopcult favourite 9-1-1.

So, uh, what’s he doing in a new Lincolnshire-set six-part police comedy/drama on ITV? Well, the prosaic answer is that he’s playing ‘Wild’ Bill Hixon, a formerly high-flying American police detective and single parent of a 14-year-old girl, who relocates to Boston, the capital of Brexitland UK, and takes charge of the local police. Pre-publicity would suggest that Lowe, who also exec produces, is genuinely enthusiastic about this career move, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  It’s the TV equivalent of clickbait, but it’s worked on me, and I’m going to watch the first episode at least. I don’t plan to review it, though, unless it’s unexpectedly good (Wednesday 12 June, 9pm, ITV 1).

Blindspot s4 ep 20

This episode is a bit weird. The main plot is fine in theory, if a bit uninspiring in execution: old adversary/ championship-level smirker Sho Akhtar insists there’s “gonna be an attack in New York tonight/ tomorrow!” – when is there not, fella? – but is evasive as to the where/ when/ how do we stop it details. The interrogation and investigation is hindered by the fact that a shiny new computer system is being installed at Tat HQ which, as everyone who has ever worked in an office anywhere will know, guarantees that the thing will stop/ crash/make-you-question-its-parentage-loudly-and-with-expletives at EXACTLY the moment you need it to work, and the episode itself is hindered by the fact that almost everyone on Team Tat is suddenly obsessed with children. That’s the weird bit. Bethany is visiting Kurt and Jane (no word on who’s babysitting when they have to dash out to deal with Sho) and this means that there’s a load of chat throughout the ep about a) how awesome Bethany is and b) how Team Tat need to stop Tatting and start living raising/adopting children because kids kids kids kids KIDS.

The thing is, I’m sure Bethany is lovely, but if I wanted this kind of chat, I’d log onto Mumsnet instead of watching a demented procedural about a former amnesiac terrorist and her friends saving the world one tattoo at a time. And as for Patterson suddenly wanting to adopt because of the awesomeness of Bethany (What gives? Does the kid do magic or something?), the idea of PatDotcom raising a baby genius together is very cute but I’d rather they, uh, did some other stuff together instead. All of this Bethany/babies/ let’s-stop-being-superheroes -and-settle-down chat all at once – even the week’s potential victim takes a moment to weigh in on the topic – seems more likely to have been motivated by the thought that “hm, the show might be on the cusp of cancellation, we should start setting up a family-friendly reason to stop saving the world/ happily ever after for everyone just in case” rather than being the product of organic storytelling. And since a) I don’t have a maternal bone in my body and b) kids, however adorable they may be, are never anywhere near as fascinating to anyone else as they are to their parents, all of this just leaves me a bit nonplussed and means that, despite some fun lines from Rich and Pattycakes, the only time the story really catches fire is when the baddie pours solvent on Reade’s trousers and lights’em up.

While the rest of the team are picking out nursery colours and talking about moving forward with their lives, however, Reade and Zapata are in a holding pattern, as they determinedly continue to not date even though they really want to date and there is no good reason not to. I am so TIRED, you guys. I don’t have any emotional investment in Rapata/Zapeade/whatever, but if they could just get ON with it and then we could all move forward with our lives, whether nursery-based or not, that would be great.

All of which means that, bizarrely, the best part of the episode  turns out, against all odds, to be the Brianna C-plot which is all about how important it is to appreciate your employees/co-workers, give them room to develop and praise them for a job well done. Aw. It might not always stop them from committing various felonies, but it’s nice to be nice.

Hawaii Five-0 s9 ep 23

A cleverly-structured episode, written – as the best ones often are – by Zoe Robyn, starts with some #bantz about Junior accompanying Tani to a wedding as her plus-one, an arrangement which they both maintain is strictly platonic. Interestingly, as in later episodes of The Mentalist, it seems that the other characters are shipping them, which might at least mean that we’ll be spared a tiresome don’t-let-the-Job-find-out storyline if and when they get together.

More of that later, including The Wedding itself. For now, though, we have a homicide. Ride-share driver Sam Pukahi is abducted at knifepoint by passenger Carter Hill. So when Pukahi’s vehicle turns up with his corpse in it, we immediately assume Hill to be the perp. Not so; Hill is in the boot, also dead, and a quick investigation reveals him to be a boring marketing executive from New Jersey in town for a convention. So who killed them both, and why? The answer will lead to poor Junior having to scramble down a cliff to rescue someone, watched by Tani, who might just about be starting to realise that she likes him.

And, answering the request of no-one anywhere, Steve’s dumbo sister Mary is back, staying in an Airbnb (it’s a good week for the gig economy on H50), and highly suspicious of her neighbour Ben Miller, who she believes, on fairly scant evidence, to be running a meth lab. Since Mary is an idiot, no-one takes her seriously, until… she’s proved right. Her neighbour is, indeed, running a meth lab. I for one am in no way surprised that Mary would know exactly what to look for.

Finally, then, to The Wedding itself! They both look hot, of course, but The Moment arrives when one of Tani’s girlfriends enquires about whether Junior is single, and Tani is strangely reluctant to answer. To the sound of pennies dropping they slow-dance to an acoustic cover of Only You – a song which is a signifier of workplace hookups ever since the closing scenes of The Office (UK version) – and come about as close to kissing as you can without actually kissing. Next week, presumably, or maybe the season finale. Best episode for weeks.

Public Service Announcement 37 of 2019: Big Little Lies

“Big Little Lies”, based on Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel, produced by movie stars and starring a whole host of them was a big hit for HBO a couple of years ago, winning a whopping eight Emmys (in the limited series category), and deservedly so. I haven’t quite finished season 1 yet, but the cast, including Reese Witherspoon, and Emmy-winners Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgård are phenomenal, the story hugely compelling, the setting gorgeous and the whole thing a genuinely premium product. So, of course, we’re getting a second season. I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, story-wise – as I’ve said about a trillion times recently, sometimes one and done is enough – but since Moriarty and showrunner David E Kelley have returned to make sure it’s done right, and most of the cast is back – this time with added Meryl Streep! MERYL STREEP! – the odds are pretty decent. Add in the fact that, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, this is a story about women working together, which came into being because women wanted it to, and I can get behind that. UK viewers can catch Ep 1 at 2AM on Monday (10th) morning on Sky Atlantic with the usual school night repeat at  9pm Monday night. If you missed season 1 and watch to see what all the fuss was about, it’s all available on Sky Go.