Month: November 2014

#Benched

Benched

THE CAST

Eliza Coupe, who will always be Jane Kerkovich-Williams to me, plays Nina Whitley, a corporate lawyer turned public defender.

Carter McIntyre is Trent Barber, a defense attorney and Nina’s ex-boyfriend.

Jay Harrington is Nina’s coworker, Phil Quinlan. I really wish he would go back to Veridian Dynamics.

Peter Spruyt is Boring Larry. He’s very that.

Oscar Nunez is Carlos, another public defender.

Jolene Purdy is Micah, and she is basically Nina’s assistant.

Fred Melamed is Judge Don Nelson. He also played Judge Alan Karpman on The Good Wife, and Judge Bertram Hill on Law & Order.

THE PREMISE

Nina’s ex-boyfriend get engaged and she loses her job on the same day, and is forced to work as a public defender.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING

Eliza Coupe.

She is hilarious as Nina. When the show opens, we’re at Nina’s big fancy corporate firm. She is on the phone with Trent being told that he has a new fiance while an office party is about to get underway to announce the newest partner. As if she wasn’t fragile enough already, she gets passed over and Maureen Ponderosa (Catherine Reitman) makes partner. Nina’s shell-shock quickly turns into outrage and she experiences meltdown. She pretty much busts up the place and burns every bridge. The best part is when she mentions that Trent has gotten engaged, and the camera is on just Maureen who says, “Trent’s engaged! How…” and out of nowhere a huge container of candy comes flying towards her and smashes against the wall. It is hilarious.

Nina is completely inept in the courtroom, yet maintains her feelings of superiority over her coworkers. Just imagine all the workplace hijinks that are going to ensue! I also predict a romantic entanglement between Nina and Phil, and rightfully so. Phil is fine. All in all, it’s a cute show. Get into it!

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T

It is not Happy Endings or Better Off Ted.

THE GRADE: B+

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#Blackish

Blackish-logo

THE CAST

Anthony Anderson is Andre “Dre” Johnson, advertising executive, husband, and father of 4. Whenever I think about Anthony, one of the first things that springs to mind is the scene in Transformers where he says something like, “Nah, man. Freddie’s got 5 blades! That’s some Wolverine shit!”

Tracee Ellis Ross is Dre’s wife, Rainbow. Yes, I know. She is a doctor who needs to get her hair under control. I don’t know her from anything, so I had to look her up. Turns out she was on Girlfriends, in Hanging Up with Lisa Kudrow , and sadly, played Kristin in Lohan overturned vehicle Labor Pains.

Yara Shahidi plays oldest daughter Zoey. Her first acting credit is an episode of Entourage. I don’t remember her in that. I also do not remember her being in Salt, and I sure as shit never watched a single minute of Alex Cross. I do, however, remember that she was in the pilot of Bad Teacher, and she was also “Young Olivia” on Scandal.

Marcus Scribner plays Andre, Jr. He only has 5 credits to his name, and this is his first series. His first role was on Castle in 2010. He was born in 2000, by the way. What did you do when you were 10?

Miles Brown and Marsai Martin play the youngest Johnson children. They are twins. For whatever reason, it took me several episodes to realize that their names are Jack & Diane.

Laurence Fishburne wanders in and out of scenes like he’s in a fugue state as Pops, Dre’s father. He is serving Furious Styles-in-retirement realness.

THE PREMISE

A man struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his children in a mostly white, upper-middle class neighborhood.

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BE WATCHING

It’s boring.

The acting is fine, and even the premise is quasi-interesting. A rich black family living in a white neighborhood want to hang on to their “blackness” but still be able to use their “white voice.” I get it. My only question is where are the jokes? IMDb describes the pilot like this: Like any parents, Andre “Dre” and Rainbow Johnson want to give their children the best. But their offspring’s childhood is turning out to be much different from theirs. They now realize at least two things: there is a price to pay for giving their children more than what they ever had, and these loving parents are totally unprepared for the fallout. So basically their kids are spoiled, and they cannot handle the demands of such children? Paging The OC, Gossip Girl, 90210, etc. After the pilot aired, we had a conversation with Anthony Anderson on Twitter about the show, and even though we were not giving it any love, he couldn’t have been nicer. He even wished us well in our search for something more to our liking.

The premise of the second episode doesn’t break any new ground either. Rainbow, thinking that Dre is too much of a prude to do so, has “the talk” with Junior much to Dre’s dismay. Not to be outdone, Dre decides to give Junior his version of the talk and shit goes south real quick. Not because Dre’s talk was a disaster, but because it piques Junior’s interest so he begins to bombard Dre with non-stop sex questions. Those questions are where the new ground is broken, however, it wasn’t really enough to hold my interest. That was until I gorged myself on the next 4 episodes in one sitting.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING

The LOL’s have arrived.

The quality of the show increases exponentially in the next four episodes. In “The Nod,” Dre tries to explain to Junior why all black men do “the nod” to each other in public, and why he should use it to expand his social circle. Meanwhile, Rainbow wants Diane to be a doctor when she grows up. Diane is not having it, especially since her mom wears the same thing to work everyday. But then Rainbow takes her to work with her one afternoon and Diane witnesses an emergency trauma patient come in bloody as all hell. Lil’ girl is MESMERIZED by all the blood. Paging Dexter Morgan.

“Crazy Mom” is probably my favorite episode so far. Dre agrees to take on Bow’s mom duties for the week, and the overwhelming praise he receives from everyone at the kid’s school goes to his head. His need to outdo everyone quickly escalates to great comedic effect. It is a great episode.”Crime and Punishment” is a should we or should we not spank our children. It is starts when Jack deliberately hides in a clothing rack at a department store and it sends Bow into a frenzy. Jack, by the way, for lack of a better term, is the idiot child. (Zoey is a typical teenage girl, Junior is the kinda naive overachiever, Diane is NOT THE ONE, and then there’s poor Jack). This episode is fine, but then the show brings back the funny with “The Prank King.” The Johnson family have a tradition of pranking each other on Halloween, but that tradition is in jeopardy when the older children balk at pulling pranks. Dre fears it will ruin his holiday fun, so he kicks it into high gear. Probably my second favorite so far.

It is this very reason why I prefer to give a show that has potential three episodes before I review it. I apologize to Anthony Anderson for our initial snap judgment on Black-ish. It’s turning into a very smart, hilarious comedy. Selfie didn’t get three episodes because that was shite from the beginning and even an act of God would not have made that obtuse piece of flotsam any better.

THE GRADE: B+.

 

 

#RedBandSociety

Red_Band_Society_(American_TV_Series)_Logo

THE CAST

Octavia Spencer plays Nurse Jackson, a sassy mother hen who is presumably not shitting in pies she’s feeding to the kids.

Dave Annable is Dr. Jack McAndrew. Justin Walker is looking good… a little older, but still looking good.

Astro plays Dash. He has cystic fibrosis. We can thank The X-Factor for bringing us someone named “Astro.” When I saw his name on-screen the first time, I immediately thought of the Family Guy episode where a grown and very drunk Elroy Jetson is sitting at a bar demanding, “TAKE ME TO ASTRO’S GRAVE!”

Ciara Bravo is Emma. She is anorexic (so she doesn’t want any “Goodies”), and serving white Zendaya realness.

Griffin Gluck is the comatose narrator of the show, Charlie.

Zoe Levin is out-of-this-world bitchy cheerleader Kara. She has something wrong with her heart.

Rebecca Rittenhouse is ray of sunshine Nurse Dobler.

Charlie Rowe is Leo, who had a promising soccer career on the horizon until cancer took one of his legs.

Nolan Sotillo is the spicy Jordi, who also has cancer and might possibly lose a leg.

Wilson Cruz is sassy gay man-nurse Kenji. I assume he is the counterpoint to Nurse Jackson’s sassiness.

Catalina Sandino Moreno is still full of grace as Jordi’s deadbeat mom, Eva.

Thomas Ian Nicholas brings his current crunchy granola mug as Charlie’s father, Nick.

Griffin Dunne is here, loud and clear, as wealthy patient Ruben Garcia.

THE PREMISE

The story of a group of kids that live in a hospital… a hospital that is supposed to be in Los Angeles, but in one episode, the kids are on the roof and that is clearly Atlanta in the background.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING

Octavia Spencer.

In the pilot, she is walking into work having just come from her local Starbucks. The name written on her cup is “Scary Bitch.” She screams at a taxi driver that nearly hits here as she crosses the street. She walks into the lobby and gets on the elevator. She is the only person on it, and there is a guy racing to get to the elevator. He calls out to her, “Hold the elevator! I’m late!” To which she responds, “Doesn’t mean I should be too.” and the elevator doors close. Yes, honey! We were living for Ms. Jackson!! But then we watched a few more episodes and…

YOU SHOULDN’T BE WATCHING BECAUSE

Octavia’s sassy Nurse Jackson is being watered down.

Also, the premise is wearing thin. Sick kids are not very interesting to watch on TV. Leo likes Emma. Kara mocks Emma because she doesn’t eat. Emma likes Jordi. Jordi hates his mom. Jordi thought Jack was going to take his leg. Kara wants to go to prom. Kara has power lesbian moms. Leo is jealous of Jordi stealing his thunder. Charlie talks to all the kids when they are under anesthesia (that’s right, there’s a fucking H in anesTHesia). Dash smokes pot all the time. Nurse Jackson is all tough love. Charlie’s father comes in and plays the guitar to him, much to Kara’s dismay. Everything by the way is much to Kara’s dismay. She is a fucking bitch. Does any of that sound exciting or even palatable? It shouldn’t because it isn’t.

I can’t find any solid information on its ratings, so I have no idea how the show is doing. I did see that when taking into account live + same day viewers, the pilot was seen by 9.9 million viewers. That’s not too shabby, I suppose. The World Series has kept it off the air for a minute. I may watch one more, but doubtful. Most likely this will be #onelessshow.

THE GRADE: the pilot: B+; every episode since: C-.