Thursday, August 17, 2017

Previewing Episodes: The Final Season



There are many advantages to shortened seasons utilized by cable networks. But there is one huge disadvantage, where major network shows tend to only have three month breaks, when you are only airing ten episodes a year, that means you are off the air for forty two weeks a year, or a nine and a half month hiatus. And that is the minimum. Sometime it takes longer to come back. Case in point, they announced the last season of Episodes so long ago, Matt LeBlanc managed to air all twenty-two episodes of his next show, Man with a Plan. Seriously, the last episode of Episodes aired March 15, 2015.

Ten months is a long time to remember what happened on a television show, so what happened almost two and a half years ago is very vague. I remember the show within a show was canceled but not that much else. That, of course, makes me ask, if the fake show was canceled why not cancel the real show? What else is there possible to do?

The answer is quite clear at the start of the season premiere; Matt LeBlanc’s new fake gameshow The Box is great. They even spend the first eight minutes show up the fake game show where contestants are stuck in a box (natch) and can build up advantages within the game by answering trivia questions that they can use to make their experience inside the box better or the competitors lives worse to the point they quit the game.

Things are not as entertaining with Beverly and Sean’s new show which they pitched but then was turned over to different showrunner who is ruining their show. At least in their eyes. Yet like two ships passing in the night, the writing duo again crosses path with the former Friends star professionally, and again with mixed (but hilarious for the audience) results. The first couple seasons of Episodes were hit or miss, but the final season is firing on all cylinders, I kind of wish, this season was the starting point and we got four seasons after this premise. Especially a behind the scenes show about The Box.

Episodes airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Previewing Dice: Season Two



Two years ago, networks were getting creative with rolling out new series kind of like NBC when they dumped the entire first season of Aquarius On Demand after the premiere. Showtime tried this out with Dice. But much like Aquarius which aired weekly in its second season, it looks like Dice will do just that even though Showtime cares more about subscribers who will watch whenever than appointment viewing.

But that really is the only change with the second season of Dice. Mr. Clay starts off the new season still paying off his gambling debt and even after playing a string of shows he is still owes the casino money. Then after a weird encounter with a rabbi, Dice wakes up in a parallel universe where he never became a comic and is now living as a salesman. And it is really disturbing just how much “normal” Andrew Dice Clay looks like most of my uncle’s friends. Then it dawned on me, oh my, if Andrew Dice Clay went into hedge funds, he may have ended up being The Mooch, the White House communication director for a week and a half Anthony Scaramucci.

I spent most of the first season of Dice wondering, just who is this show for. And it took the past election to realize, people who work for Donald Trump. The type of guy who still find jokes about sniffing underwear, use homosexual terms as an insult, wish they could still grab women without their consent, and vote for Donald Trump will love this show. I guess liberals who want to make fun of how sad these people’s lives are may also enjoy hate-watching Dice too.

Dice airs Sundays at 10:30 on Showtime.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Previewing Divided: Season Two


Divided

I used to watch a lot of game shows; The Price Is Right was one of the few things I watched in college. But as I grew older I moved into more scripted fare. But now that I grow even older and I have no idea what is going on from week to week and need a five to ten minute “previously on” package, maybe I should get back into game show. They even have their own network now. Okay, do not ask me if I receive GSN, if I do it is in the 100 tier I never scroll through.

But I did get sample one of their original programming, Divided, returning for a second season tonight with back to back episodes. The first episode features a “full time live streamer.” And no, one of the questions is not how exactly does she make any money (unless the live stream does not involve clothing). The show features four contestants who have to answer each question unanimously and the longer they take to agree, the less money they make if they get. And if they get it wrong, their bank is divided in half. There is also a “Takeover” button where one person can answer for the group.

Then halfway through the episode one person is booted by the group, but if three people do not unanimously, again they have to debate while losing money until they agree. Then at the end of the game, the final bank is divided into sixty, thirty, and ten percent and the remaining three have to agree who leaves with what percentage, and of course everyone’s cut goes down as they debate who gets what.

One of the first things I noticed about the show is how poorly the layout is. Just in the first episode one player said he was picking A but B showed up on the board because he pressed the wrong button. Then later, another player went to lock in his pick, but pushed the Takeover Button by accident. I also found the final dividing round unnecessarily evil. Although the episode I watch, they surprisingly can to a decision quite quickly. But the questions were interesting, I only got one wrong and I was kind of shocked how wrong they all were in the first question of the night dealing with how many vegetarians there are in the nation. But I clearly would be horrible on this show because I am not very agreeable or persuadable. I would probably burn the two Takeovers early which would leave me to getting booted.

The new season of Divided will feature a number of special themed episodes, including Baby Boomers vs. Millennials, Military Night (featuring representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines), all teachers, all lawyers, all poker players, and “Second Chance” episodes where contestants voted off the show early get a second shot at the prize money.

Divided airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on GSN.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/13/2017



Ray Donovan: At the start of every season these days I usually start with complaining about having no clue with what happened last season. The good thing about Ray Donovan is usually the wrap everything up in a little bow at the end of each season so you really do not need much of a refresher. So when they run their “previously on” segment to recap last season, I could go, oh yeah, Ray and the family took down that Russian oligarch (although they were a season early on doing an evil Russian businessman storyline), now there is a fresh slate for the new season.

It is still pretty vague what the big storyline for the season will be. Ray does see a story about a famous person whose personal pictures are released on the internet, presumably without her consent (I believe a starlet earlier in the series tried to release her own sex tape so you never know). The actress in question, does randomly show up in her underwear and runs away. There is also a scene with Susan Sarandon which will probably have a bigger impact later this season.

Then there was the big plot point (and the reason I am writing this now instead of my usually preview because Showtime said no pre-air reviews), they killed off Abby… Maybe. They heavily hinted at it but stopped short of explicitly saying she was dead or showed a body. They annoyingly do this next episode two until we get definitive proof in episode three. We do get to see a lot more of Lili Simmons next week who shows up in Ray’s office. Though again, you will have to wait until episode three to learn just why she was walking half naked in the middle of the road at night.

Claws: So Roller did know Desna tried to kill her. At least he let her call Dean before offing her. Sure, she did save him but that also saved her too so not really to make things square between the two. But overall the weakest episode this season.
You can download Claws on iTunes.

The Strain: Wait, why is Gus still on the show? His little raid on a bunch of cops surveyed absolutely no purpose. If you are not working to bring down the Master at this point, go away. And why did Dutch up the stairs? That is bad horror movie logic, go down and leave. As she planning on jumping rooftops to escape?
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

I’m Dying Up Here: Am I supposed to care about Bill because I really do not. Nor his dad. I actually cared more about the dog then either of them.

Shadowhunters: So Haley Dunfey has a English accent now? Awesome. This girl really likes work, she is on one of the biggest shows on television doing twenty-four episodes a year yet keeps on showing up in numerous movies and shows. And she almost made this show enjoyable.
You can download Shadowhunters on iTunes.

Preacher: So what happened with the dude with the eye? He had a big part of last week but did not show up at all this week.
You can download Preacher on iTunes.

The Challenge: Dirty 30: Boooo, Jenna is the best post-Nany contestant on the show. Hopefully she makes her way back on the show next week. Her and Darrell.
You can download The Challenge: Dirty 30 on iTunes.