The Too Much TV Roundup- July 13th

What random assortment of nonsense did i string together today? Which shows totally unrelated are against each other in rankings? Well, we do have a show I have never put in the top spot before, so that’s new.

1) Pachenko (Apple Plus)

English Audio Description?: Yes

This Japanese/Korean drama proved that you don’t need to watch Asian people risking their lives for cash in order for the story to translate and be compelling on its own. Pachenko is it’s own thing, a drama constructed around a point in history that is not uniquely American, challenging our audiences to watch something we are unfamiliar with. But, if you sat through the first season, you’d notice a lot of the same relatable themes bleeding out of this familial story that spans time and generations.

Last week’s penultimate episode tied our cast into a devastating earthquake that rocked Japan, and killed thousands. This week, we found Sunja at her wits end as she surprisingly finds that her husband, who she previously thought was a quiet pastor, was participating in a communist clandestine organization, and watched helplessly as he was taken from them, leaving her without a way to feed her two children. The episode ends zooming out on her trying to get someone, anyone, to buy some fresh Kimchi she is selling at a market.

But, to wrap up the season, Pachenko (which perhaps thought maybe Apple wouldn’t go with a second season) seems to close the door on this family, with end title cards that tell us the historical significance of the show, and how many people went through something similar to what we just watched. It explores briefly in more detail the factual representation of the cultural divide that sits at the heart of Pachenko (ultimately, the one thing this show doesn’t center around is that game), and finishes with a series of real interviews with women whose stories are similar to that of Sunja. Korean women who were forced for one reason or another to relocate to Japan, and now in their golden years reflect on the hardships of their early years. No doubt, these stories helped to shape the family that sat at the core of Apple’s underrated Pachenko, helping to breathe so much life into these characters. Fortunately, Apple has stuck with this show, and has moved forward with a second season.

Episode Grade: A, Season 1 Grade: A

2) Miss Marvel (Disney Plus)

English audio Description Available?: Yes

After I’ve been seemingly harsh on Miss Marvel, the final episode of the season/series brought Kamala home, where the finale reminded me of all the reasons I was starting to fall in love with this show at the beginning. It has a delightful lead, a rich and entertaining set of family and friends, and a culture that is sorely rarely explored with quite this specific lens. It also followed through with Kamala finally owning her powers, and seeming to finally understand what it is that flows through her, as the final fight sequence between her and Damage Control actually felt epic, perhaps more epic than this show even deserved. It never felt like we would get to this point, as Kamala spent the bulk of the season dodging a rather useless group of villains in The Clandestines, and then the surprise appearance by the red Dagger, and now Damage Control. It seems like Kamala is destined to fight groups of people, instead of a singular villain with one nefarious plan to do… something. Miss Marvel ended up being not quite the show it could have been, but that’s only due to the constraint put by Marvel to tell this story in six episodes, and throw all this backstory at us, while having us learn Kamala’s power set, and have her fight… someone. It’s that last part that always kept me from being fully invested, but I do have to at least acknowledge that this final episode was fun for a lot of reasons, and attempted a serious course correction just in time for Kamala to enter the MCU next year.

Episode Grade: A-, Season 1 Grade: B

3) All Rise (OWN)

I wanted to love this episode more than I did, but there was this one case revolving around a youth that was part of a smash and grab gang that went nowhere, and also they never resolved that serial killer plot line from the previous episode. And I’m fairly certain Lola did not have a father before this episode. Where is her mom?

Episode Grade: B+

4) Barry (HBO/HBO MAX)

English Audio Description?: Yes

I keep trying to truly put down on paper what it is about Barry’s third season that I just don’t like as much as the first two seasons. I know character’s grow, which is what I love about what Henry Winkler has done this season. Seemingly, all his optimism is gone, and even when his character attempts to be cheerful, you can tell he’s faking it, trying to spark something that doesn’t exist. It’s why he was one of my picks for Supporting Actor this past year. But, as far as the rest of the cast, I’ve never been a fan of Anthony Carrigan’s Hank. Barry even seems lost, to some extent. Sarah Goldberg’s character offered some laughs in the 7th episode, and Stephen Root tried really hard to convince people he’s not the Raven. Like, all the pieces are here, I’m just not as excited as i once was.

Episode Grade: B+

5) Queer As Folk (Peacock)

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

What a weird fucking episode. Like, i was here for the Noah and julian storyline as they continued to explore their relationship as they started actually telling people that they were in one. Meanwhile, Ming finds out he’s HIV positive, because Season 1 hasn’t thrown enough at us yet. But, the show started to lose me with Brody’s mushroom trip from hell that saw him revisiting that night, confronting Daddius, giving his Semen to ultimately father… an eel? I know drug sequences are weird, and this one was trying to throw a lot of complex ideas coming from Brody’s mind, but he’s the least likable character and the most flawed. A more realistic approach would be someone actually forcing him to make these same conclusions in a real world atmosphere, instead of a drug induced stuper he may or may not remember tomorrow.

Episode Grade: B

6) Heartstopper (Netflix)

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

I know this is the gayest show on streaming, and I should be happy for representation. I also just am not connecting with the characters. Episode two seemed to deal a lot with that “is he or isn’t he” concept, as one of the characters really likes someone that everyone seems to believe is straight. It’s not a bad series, it just hasn’t lit the same fire that other series have, or gotten me as excited as other Heartstopper fans have.

Episode Grade: B-

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