This was fun. Bad guy Sean Harris is back from part five, Henry Cavill is a traitorous team member, Rebecca Ferguson is a badass, Vanessa Kirby (TV’s The Crown) an arms dealer, Angela Bassett the new boss when Alec Baldwin gets killed. Ends with some more impressive-looking helicopter stunts than in part one, a clifftop battle, and nuclear weapons set to destroy a significant chunk of the world’s population beginning with Ethan’s wife Michelle Monaghan.

I finished two of these shows on the same day, deciding that’s a good amount of TV to write about, and wondering what to watch next. Looking through the archives I started numbering these posts retroactively, just to amuse myself, and this is roughly the 44th roundup of TV shows.


The Knick season 1 (2014)

It’s so hard to decide which Prestige TV Drama I am gonna waste 8-13 hours watching when they churn out a hundred per year and I get around to watching maybe one. This seemed safe, since it’s where Soderbergh had ended up after “retiring” from the film industry. But it took me a year to finish watching, and in that time Soderbergh has released two new films to theaters, so his fake retirement needn’t have been a factor. First half of the season is rocky, mostly unfun, with gruesome surgery scenes (most patients die) and a hella unlikable lead (moody racist drug addict Clive Owen), establishing a whole pile of characters, then the second half lets loose raining down all the drama in the world upon their heads. The writing is trash, actors mostly good, and the style pretty cool, with a terrifically unusual shot every couple scenes and bloopy Cliff Martinez music. Mobile camera, longish takes, some crazy subjective shots and a couple wicked angles per episode. But that trash writing weighs heavy upon the show, and after hate-watching the last couple eps, I’m skipping season two.

Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen, last seen in Valerian) is our hero, a brilliant doctor thinking ahead of his time, addicted to cocaine and morphine and a huge racist, though he becomes enlightened and suddenly stops being racist in episode six, just in time to defend against race-rioting whites in episode seven.

Nurse Elkins (Eve Hewson, a Hanks family member in Bridge of Spies) is the new nurse, sent to awaken Thack with coke injections before surgery. They’re having an affair by the end, and she’s on the drugs but not as hopelessly as he is.

Nurse Elkins:

Cornelia (Juliet Rylance of Sinister) is one of the hospital’s all-important rich benefactors. She goes on adventures with the health inspector tracking Typhoid Mary through the city, is a childhood friend of Dr. Edwards, and they have an affair but she decides to marry another rich white person with a pervert father instead.

Cornelia in distress:

Dr. Edwards (André Holland, Kevin in Moonlight) is just as brilliant as Thack, but black, so nobody respects him except Cornelia and post-racism Thack and he ends up opening his own secret clinic in the hospital basement. He’s asked to abort his own baby after getting Cornelia pregnant, is an excellent boxer, and likes to get his ass kicked in bar fights when frustrated.

The hospital boss is Barrow (Jeremy Bobb of the show Godless and Under the Silver Lake) who sometimes seems underwater from all the drama but can be very determined, like when he hires Thack’s opium dealer Wu to murder the gangsters who punched him in the dick. Other major doctors include young upcomer Bertie (Michael Angarano of Red State) whose dad wants him to work someplace nicer with a better salary, and pissy Everett (Eric Johnson, Flash Gordon in 2007) who was supposed to get the position that Edwards holds.

Doctors Edwards, Bertie, Everett Gallinger, Thackery:

And the others… Dr. Christiansen (Matt Frewer: Max Headroom, Trashcan Man in The Stand) was Thack’s mentor, kills himself in the first episode after the failure of an operation that the others later perfect. Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan of Guardians of the Galaxy 2) is an ambulance driver who steals other hospitals’ patients and starts an underground business with abortionist nun Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour, abused Aunt Linda in Jack & Diane). Everett’s wife Eleanor (Zoe’s sister Maya Kazan, who would play a character named Zoe on Sleepy Hollow) loses her baby, kills the adopted replacement baby, then is sent to the booby hatch where they pull all her teeth. Dr. Zinberg (Michael Nathanson of TV’s The Punisher) is the Jewish doctor who Thack feels is his greatest rival. And Bunky (Danny Hoch of We Own the Night) was the lead gangster/loanshark/pimp killed by foot fetishist Wu (Perry Yung of John Wick 2). John Hodgman does not appear, despite a bunch of people kinda looking like John Hodgman.

Cleary and Barrow:

Bad Medicine: a pregnant woman is told to stick her belly in ice water. A nurse dies putting out an electrical fire with a bucket of water. Barrow puts his head in an x-ray machine for an hour. Thack’s ex Abby loses her nose to syphilis and gets her arm and nose grafted together. Holes are drilled in peoples’ heads, limbs are lost, things are burned and severed and pulled, and towards the end it’s all done without anesthesia because war in the Philippines has caused a cocaine shortage, causing Thack to go increasingly mental from withdrawal and kill a kid with a bad blood transfusion after misunderstanding how blood types work.

The stinger ending is the hospital shareholders vote to move uptown and Thack is given a new drug called heroin to cure his coke addiction.

The lighting is often quite nice:

Weirdly, the writer/creators are best known for a Kate Hudson romantic comedy, a Tim Allen Disney remake, and short-lived sitcoms starring Tony Danza and Jeff Foxworthy.

To make sure I don’t watch season 2, I’m spoiling it on wikipedia… looks like the abortionist nun goes to jail and Cleary blackmails their former clients into bailing her out. Bertie goes to work for Dr. Zinberg then quits after killing his own mom during cancer surgery. The guys start a prostitute clinic, discover radiation therapy, learn how to cure syphillis, and separate conjoined twins. Thack studies addiction, trying lobotomy and hypnotism. Everett becomes a eugenicist, decides to sterilize the poor, and sabotages Edwards’ surgeries. Edwards’ secret wife arrives, and he considers black nationalism. Abby dies during nose surgery. Barrow kicks out his wife, who then blackmails him over the money he’s stolen from the hospital. Nurse Elkins murders her abusive preacher father. Cornelia’s rich dad dies saving her from a fire set by her brother. And Thack performs surgery on himself, passes out, and the show was mercifully cancelled before his fate was revealed.


Assy McGee season 1 (2006)

Animated cop-show parody starring a drunken, mumbling ass with legs who often shoots innocent civilians while failing to solve silly crimes. Not a good show, but the whole season is only an hour so I let it keep running. Larry Murphy (Teddy in Bob’s Burgers) does most of the voices, including Assy, his partner Sanchez, and his angry supervisor. The creators have cred: Carl Adams wrote for Dr. Katz and Matt Harrigan for Space Ghost C2C. Director David SanAngelo worked on Home Movies and WordGirl.

Related shows to check out(?): Ugly Americans, O’Grady, 12 oz. Mouse


BoJack Horseman season 2 (2015)

Maybe the most consistently funny show about depression. BoJack gets everything he wants in this season – a perfect girlfriend who’s never seen his TV show, the leading role in his dream film, renewed friendship with his first girlfriend, and a big-ass boat – and throws it all away because he’s a self-destructive prick. Meanwhile, Princess Carolyn starts a new agency with a coworker/lover, Diane falls into a funk and hides at BoJack’s house for months, Mr. Peanutbutter hosts a hit game show produced by JD Salinger, and Todd joins an improv-comedy cult.


The Good Place season 2 (2018)

I didn’t watch most of season 1, but after hearing about its ending (it was the Bad Place all along and the entire neighborhood is Ted Danson’s torture experiment, which is why there are so many frozen yogurt stores), I joined Katy for this one, which was terrific, opening with hundreds of “reboots” of the experiment, until a desperate Danson confesses and enlists the others to play along so they all don’t get sent to the real Bad Place. Also: Chidi teaches ethics classes, Janet becomes more powerful and erratic and creates a boyfriend named Derek, they sneak into Bad Place HQ and ask mercy from a goofball Judge, then are sent back to Earth for further study.


Tales from the Tour Bus season 1 (2017)

“Paycheck stole Patsy Cline’s car!” I only heard about this from a Robbie Fulks post, am assuming it mostly flew under the radar. Good-natured stories of the highs and (mostly) lows on tour with some country legends, with generous song clips balancing out the bad behavior, animated and rotoed by Mike Judge, who clearly loves this stuff. Will be interesting to see if the new Blaze Foley movie can stand up to his episode here, and how the less country-focused second season will go.

Tammy and the President:

Johnny Cash cameo in the Waylon Jennings story:


Master of None season 2 (2017)

Bookended by double episodes with Dev’s almost-girlfriend Francesca, first in Italy then New York, the middle half has Dev hosting a cupcake show. More movie references than ever, a couple standalone/gimmick episodes, some good flashbacks in a Denise-focused episode (with Angela Bassett as her mom) and lots and lots of food.


Big Train season 2

This belongs in the pantheon of absurd sketch shows, with Mr. Show and Kids in the Hall and Human Giant and Chappelle’s Show. Created by the writers of Father Ted… so maybe that show is good? The three guys from season 1 are now joined by The Dark Haired Woman (Rebecca Front of The Day Today, The Thick of It season 3) and The Woman With The Bouncy Curls (Tracy-Ann Oberman of EastEnders).

Scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Working Class”:


And we watched enough of the Great British Bake Off to last a lifetime – though I’m slightly curious to check out the Boosh-hosted season. Also watched a Todd Barry standup special, the Fred Armisen one about drumming, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten. With limited TV time we still haven’t finished The Deuce or the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, gotten back to Atlanta or Blackish or Steven Universe, or started the latest seasons of Kimmy Schmidt or Search Party or Black Mirror [edit: one of these things is no longer true – stay tuned for details in Season 45].

Neither of us could recall what happened in any previous Mission: Impossible movie, but it didn’t seem that important. Confusing exposition scenes – afterwards we wondered why the secret accounts stored in the data vault protected by the underwater red box coded by the prime minister’s biometrics had continued to accumulate massive funds for the hypothetical secret project, when the PM thought the project had been cancelled, and if someone was routing that money counter to the PM’s wishes, why he wouldn’t have stored it somewhere more accessible. But the rest of the movie is fab action scenes and Simon Pegg quips, and that’s what we came for.

Evil Simon Pegg:

McQuarrie also cowrote Edge of Tomorrow, directed Jack Reacher. It’s a less distinctive-looking movie than the others, and less ecstatically wonderful than part four. Whichever film critic said this was equal to Mad Max: Fury Road was high. Action scenes could’ve been more coherent looking. Gripes aside, a solid movie with good shootouts and motorcycle chases, an intense-as-ever Cruise and his great comic sidekick Pegg. Jeremy Renner is reduced to a talking head, Ving Rhames is barely in the movie, and Alec Baldwin plays their boss. Swedish newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (Queen Elizabeth in a recent British miniseries) is the latest in a string of interchangeable M:I women, working for three different sides and looking stylish doing it. Simon McBurney is a slimy head of british intelligence and our evil mastermind is Sean Harris, the punk rock geologist in Prometheus, who looks upsettingly similar to Simon Pegg. Katy was annoyed that they keep referring to the IMF (“Impossible Mission Force”) and also mention the World Bank (related to the real IMF).

Definite proof that Pegg and Harris are different people:

M. D’Angelo: “[McQuarrie] found, in Rebecca Ferguson, the first woman to make a real impression in this boys’ club. Every time she removes her shoes, look out.”

Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan)

Like the premise of Tezuka’s Broken Down Film with the pacing of Pixar’s Presto and revised into a self-consciously old-meets-new Micky Mouse cartoon. The director has worked on Wreck-It Ralph and some quality television.

Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz & Alexandre Espigares)

Great steampunk 3D Рnervous shut-in manages to leave the house to rescue a neglected dog, which eventually outgrows his apartment. Based on the artwork of St̩phane Halleux, who goes uncredited on IMDB. One of the directors worked on the feature version of 9.

Feral (Daniel Sousa)

Wild child is “rescued” and brought to civilization, doesn’t adapt well. Black and white, faces are all toothy mouths, with eyes hidden. Some cool expressionist bits.

Possessions (Shuhei Morita)

A lost traveling repairman seeking shelter gets imprisoned by a house full of vengeful discarded artifacts – broken umbrellas, torn clothing and the like. He convinces the objects they still have worth, thanks them for their more productive years. Not as formally exciting as the previous three nor as cute as the next one.

Room on the Broom (Jon Lachauer & Max Lang)

Clearly based on a children’s book: a witch gradually gains new friends while looking for lost things. Her broom gets more and more weighed down, which is a problem with a witch-eating dragon on their trail. All animal grunts were voiced by famous people, but famous voices are lost on me since I thought Simon Pegg’s narrator was actually Rob Brydon. Cartoony 3D style, like if those animated shorts we used to see on HBO had been made with today’s software.

A la francaise (Boyer & Hazebroucq & Hsu & Leleu & Lorton)

Versailles 1700 with the king’s court portrayed as chickens. Loved it.

The Missing Scarf (Eoin Duffy)

The second short in the program about someone asking woodland creatures for help finding a lost article of clothing. Belatedly, I’m going to declare that the major trend in cinema last year. This definitely wins best performance of the bunch, for the voiceover by George Takei. Conversations with neurotic animals turn philosophical, then metacosmic, with infographic-style animation. This and the previous one were not nominated, but they’re the two I most want to watch again. Aha, the chickens are on vimeo!

The Blue Umbrella (Saschka Unseld)

Seen this before. A good closer.

These were stitched together with not-great ostrich/giraffe vignettes voiced by a guy from Thomas and Friends and a guy from Nightbreed who also appeared in the amazingly titled The Glam Metal Detectives. We saw the traveling theatrical presentation – all screenshots are from online trailers.

Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Andy (Nick Frost) reluctantly join Gary King (Simon Pegg) in reliving his youth and ignoring adult realities. Then they fight aliens. It’s all kind of amazing.

Jan. 2015:
Watched again. Katy didn’t like it much.

Sports Night season 1 (1998-99)

Good Aaron Sorkin show. Casey (Peter Krause of Six Feet Under) and darker-haired Dan (Josh Charles of Muppets From Space) are anchors of a sports show run by Felicity Huffman (of Transamerica and apparently Magnolia) and Robert Guillaume (Benson, Rafiki in The Lion King). Casey likes Felicity, who is engaged to Ted McGinley, and Dan likes Teri Polo (mom in The Hole), who is married. The only stable relationship is Felicity’s assistant Sabrina Lloyd (Harley’s The Girl From Monday) with new guy Joshua Malina (a Sorkin regular).

Asylum (1996)

Edgar Wright’s first series – and he has four others that I’ve never heard of between this and Spaced. Cowritten with the cast, overall uneven with a slim overarching story and characters that get tiresome if you watch the episodes too close together.

Simon Pegg is a pizza boy called to an asylum then imprisoned there. Jessica Stevenson plays the sadistic head nurse and a daytime-TV-addict inmate. Mighty Boosh star Julian Barratt is a talkative, pretentious artist (and the highlight of the show). Standup comic Adam Bloom is a Lenny Bruce obsessive, Paul Morocco a mute juggler, Norman Lovett (of Red Dwarf) the head doctor and Mick O’Connor (whose only other credit is The Falls) the receptionist. Each episode ends with a music video, which I kinda loved.

Big Train season 1 (1998)

Excellent sketch comedy show starring Simon Pegg (between Asylum and Spaced), Mark Heap (Brian in Spaced) and Kevin Eldon (a dim officer in Hot Fuzz), with Julia Davis (Nighty Night) and Amelia Bullmore (Jam and I’m Alan Partridge).

Weird to hear a Tortoise song scoring a fake TV ad in episode 3, and to see a parody of the intro to A Matter of Life and Death. Lots of animated (barely) footage of the staring-contest world finals.

Cowriters Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan worked on The Fast Show, and with Christopher Morris on Jam and Brass Eye. Still need to watch Morris’s feature Four Lions

Arrested Development season 3 (2005-06)

So very good. I love how it ends with none of the characters having learned anything at all. Appearances by Justine Bateman, Judge Reinhold and a long section with Charlize Theron.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (2006)

Since I didn’t watch this with the release of The Drift like I was supposed to, I watched it with the release of his follow-up album. Wow. Some records I need to get: Night Flight, Climate of Hunter, the Ute Lemper album. Scott worked on Pola X so they show some behind-the-scenes bits of the warehouse performance and motorcycle crash.

The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway (2011)

Apparently, Pee Wee is better remembered than revisited.

Also watched Maria Bamford‘s stand-up thing recorded at her house with no audience – weird and awesome. She’s got a new one with her parents as the audience, which sounds even better.

The Queen of Versailles (2012, Lauren Greenfield)

Katy watched on netflix in a couple installments – I think I was there for all of it, but not too sure. Belongs in the Movies I Only Sorta Watched category. Pretty fascinating, starting as a document of the loony mega-rich couple building the largest house in America, until the housing crisis delays their plans and threatens his timeshare business. Wonderful to see things from the 1% perspective, especially when they’re in what they consider to be desperate financial straits (though the wife has a five-shopping-cart trip to walmart and visits the warehouses where their extraneous crap is stored), repeatedly referring to themselves as normal people who got screwed by the banks.

Perfect example of a movie that works in theory, but lacks something essential. Strong performances by good comic actors (I was happily surprised by Andy Serkis), funny situations and dialogue, strong historical interest, and good energy. So why is it such an average movie? Blame Landis?

Simon “Burke” Pegg tries to buy the favor of feminist actress Isla Fisher, while Hare is content with his wife Lucky (Spaced star Jessica Hynes). The intrigue revolves around head doctors at competing medical schools – old-school Tim Curry, who gets the law on his side, and Tom Wilkinson, who resorts to hiring our heroes to provide him bodies on which to experiment (leading to the undignified death of poor Christopher Lee). Bill Bailey plays a narrating executioner and David Hayman is a gangster who wants protection money but ends up dead in the operating theater. Movie closes on a present-day shot of Burke’s skeleton, still preserved in Edinburgh – perfect ending to a historical black comedy.

I haven’t much to say, so thought I’d end by stealing a native Edinburgh perspective from Shadowplay, but damn it, they haven’t watched this one yet.

Surprise – a comedy that I liked. Guess it’s not that much of a surprise, since it’s written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. The movie is one long chase, with them trying to help an alien return home. Biggest surprise is that the more action-packed second half is better than the first – the comedy doesn’t let up when the car chases and shootouts ramp up.

Agent Jason Bateman’s secret is that he’s Paul’s friend, was trying to get to him in order to help, which is why he’s a dick to agents Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio. The movie’s secret is that Sigourney Weaver plays the big boss, but she talks on the radio often enough that I figured it out from her voice. A defiantly anti-Christian movie, announcing its pro-evolution message early on (and repeatedly) then expanding that to a straight-up “god doesn’t exist” message. References most of Spielberg’s early movies. Maybe it’s because I watched on my little TV, but Paul may be the first CG creation that I accepted as a character instead of always thinking of it as an effect.