The Too Much TV Roundup- July 28th

A solid day of television, even if most of it was just so-so, and some new shows start to make their appearance in my rotation.

1) Undone (Amazon)

English Audio Description?: Yes

Just as Amazon dropped the cancellation hammer on The Wilds (which i gave up on during its first season), I’m here to champion another one of their shows (which didn’t stop them from cancelling night Sky). Undone is one of the most original shows on television, for a myriad of reasons, from its use of rotoscope to its general outline involving time travel and these abilities that this family has. in this episode, Alma finally meets up with her grandmother, who is NOT having it, and is trying to convince her to tell her mother it’s Ok to adopt her son, but the grandmother won’t budge. And then, when the moment comes, she repeats history, leaving the family with only one remaining choice… to find out who really is crying behind that door? This will not make sense to anyone not watching Undone, and it’s not supposed to. It’s a rewarding show, and there really isn’t anything like it currently on TV.

Episode Grade: A

2) Harley Quinn (HBo MAX)

English Audio Description? Yes

I do have a long list to catch up on, but that does not preclude me from jumping straight in to a series that hasn’t produced a new episode since the beginning of the pandemic. Season 2 of Harley Quinn was so long ago, I literally forgot where this show had left off. But i was immediately thrown back into the excellent performances by Kaley Cuoco as Harley and Lake bell as Ivy, the world’s oddest couple, as they leave Ivy’s paradise to save King Shark and Clayface, only to find an episode that was very ready to parody Suicide Squad. Loved it. And I love Harley Quinn.

Episode Grade: A

3) The Last Movie Stars (HBO MAX)

English Audio Description? Yes

So, Ethan Hawke has assembled a limited docuseries about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, assembling all this old footage, audio interviews, and his own narration. My one little thing was that I didn’t quite feel the personal reason of why Ethan Hawke was the one doing it. I know, he met Newman because when he was a kid, their kid went to the same school. But, still it just feels like an odd connection somehow. Also, just some of the things left in the footage probably could have been lost forever. There’s a joke made by a friend of newman’s that is presented in that “we used to joke about” with reference to James Dean’s death. Like, if Dean hadn’t died, Newman wouldn’t be famous. That kind of thing. It made me cringe, the idea that people I idolized were joking about the happenstance of Dean’s death and the rise of Newman.

Episode Grade: A-

4) The Staircase (HBo MAX)

English Audio Description? Yes

It was a good day for HBo MAX. Though, the sixth episode of The Staircase was interesting, it faltered a bit as it started to get a little lost in the jumping around of timelines. I didn’t think it was quite as strong, and the reduction of Kathleen’s presence in the episode was noticeable. I know we’re being introduced more to Sophie, and her work on the Owl Theory, but the leaping around of time ddidn’t do much for me, and with these siblings having actors like Dane Dehaan and Sophie Turner, I do kind of wonder what drew them to this project, since their roles don’t seem to really be that meaty. But this episode was fine, even if it was my least favorite so far.

Episode Grade: B+

5) The Essex Serpent (Apple Plus)

English Audio Description? Yes

I really do not understand this show sometimes. It wants to be this otherworldly fantastical allegory at times, but spends most of the episode playing it straight. Here, Hiddleston’s wife in the show has TB and is dying, while Claire Danes just seems to be lost in a series of misunderstandings. Her friend/nanny/lover/surrogate wife, seems to be perpetually unhappy, and some stuff goes down with Luke (again, who?) that just felt like a distraction from the purpose of the series. I understood taking the fossil to have it evaluated, and the frustration of being told to go back to the place where the crazy people paint blood crosses on their homes, but when this episode started to make sense, it started throwing things around that felt like we had already moved past them and yet we were somehow reverting back, and I wasn’t really sure why.

Episode Grade: B-

6) Star Trek Strange New Worlds (Paramount Plus)

English Audio Description?: Yes

This was the episode where the chief medical officer is storing his daughter as data, hoping to one day be able to cure her incurable disease. It’s not that I thought the episode was bad, more that the last episode, which played so uniquely with the use of music and song, was better.

Episode Grade: B-

7) Evil (Paramount Plus)

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

look, I love Evil as a series. Season 1 is amazing. Season 2 dropped a bit, but still had moments. Season 3 seems to be far more interested in shock value, balls to the wall idolatry than the actual mystery and intrigue that made season 1 so special. I discuss this show in real life with friends whoa re still big fans, and we talk about the great episodes of the past, and the reason they worked so well is that the show didn’t overtly throw demons everywhere all the time. It used them sparingly, if ever. We weren’t sure what Leland was up to, and whether or not he had a connection, which is now obvious that he does. It’s like Evil has pulled back the curtain, and instead of getting a great episode like the Halloween episode where the girl was wearing the mask, or the little boy who ended up murdered by his parents, which were excellent episodes that presented Evil that wasn’t tied at all to Leland or his efforts, and didn’t directly address the presence of demons, we now get demons all the fucking time. It’s the equivalent of why some shows keep the will they or won’t they relationships going as long as possible, because there’s some part of us that enjoys the chase more than the catch, and shows that put characters together too quickly sometimes backfire. Here, we’ve gone down the rabbit hole at lightning speed, and I don’t think the show is better for it. Just because you CAN due to being on a streaming service, doesn’t mean you should.

Episode Grade: C

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