Friday, October 30, 2020

Nehama tells a complex tale of a family in trouble in parts both comic and tragic

© Topic

The Israeli show ‘Nehama’ offers a look in a world where things are falling apart even with people come together.
by Jeremy Fogelman

This is a review for the debut season of Nehama, which touches on some of the spoilery ideas of the season, but not all of them.

Nehama is a show about a family, with the main figure the father Guy Nehama (Reshef Levi) -- Guy works in a high-paying tech job but he once had a dream of being a stand up comic. And he wasn’t bad either. But he left that world to marry his dream girl Tamar (Liron Vaisman) and have five kids, the eldest two girls, then two boys, and a new baby. It’s a difficult balance of a life, but Tamar helps keep it together.

But it all changes when Tamar dies in an auto accident, and the family begins to fall into disarray. Guy, whose caustic humor and joking delivery worked great to sell tech services, often ends up offending people in normal conversation. He decides that given everything, he needs to become a success like he’d always wanted -- a stand-up. This also introduces Guy’s old friend and rival Asi (Yuval Segal), who is now a very famous comedian and media personality.

Throughout the show, Guy struggles with his jealousy and issues with Asi, as we learn more and more about their complicated past. The kids all have their own crazy problems; the eldest daughter has an affair with her high school teacher, the next one is caught stealing money to support her family, the one after that works in a grocery and hurts his grandfather while illegally driving, and the youngest (other than the baby) nurses a completely unrequited crush on a classmate.

But they are all a mess and varying degrees of depressed, trying to keep their family together despite social workers coming by and threatening to break them apart. One of the helpful people is Guy’s brother Oren (Shalom Michaelswilli), a policeman with his own personal problems, and an arc about the right romantic relationship to pursue -- his wife or his one time mistress.

Another help is Guy’s younger coworker Dana (Gala Kogan), who is frequently described as very beautiful, and seems to be romantically interested -- but Guy is obsessed about his late wife. He wonders about her secrets, and even hires a private detective to see if she had been cheating (the detective is a pretty fun, blunt character who shows up a bunch of times throughout the first season).

Guy is a fairly frustrating character to watch, because he is not a bad person, although he seems misguided and out of control. His need to know what happened to his wife and become the next great comedian directly hurt his family and himself, and it’s hard to know whether you should root for him simply because he’s engaging and deeply hurt.

One of the things that really works with Nehama is the nature of the ensemble, building up backstories and complexities as it all comes together in the finale. The secrets revealed are meaningful and painful at times, but there’s a feeling underlying it all of a family devoted to each other, despite their own protests at it.

Writing a funny character that’s supposed to be funny is a tricky thing, but Nehama pulls this off almost every time, and Reshef Levi is really great in his complex, messed up role. Although his wife dies in the first episode, she keeps showing up in flashbacks throughout the first season, letting us see and understand more about her and giving Liron Vaisman a chance to really shine.

Nehama is a show that really can be very funny one moment and then suddenly swerve into a heartbreaking moment the next. Although it takes place in Israel, it really feels like it could be any random modern city, with only a few little notes if you’re really paying attention to show off the background world. It’s not a political show about the government or any policies, just a random family and their own problems in their own world.

There’s an ongoing tension as you desperately begin to hope simultaneously for Guy to become a huge success so he can save his family, while hoping for the family to keep itself from falling apart until then. From the first moments of dark humor to the final bittersweet resolution, Nehama really works as a great season of TV -- it’s a very strong entry to the foreign “TV genre” that always feels in the world of real.

Nehama is available to stream on Topic with a subscription through Apple TV. Try Topic for one week free!

Get it on Apple TV

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dancing With the Stars S29E07: Villains Night

DWTS' Halloween Villains Night Was Full of Tricks and Treats
by Kim Krober

My mom and I look forward to Halloween Night on Dancing with the Stars every year. This year's Halloween Villains theme did not disappoint. From the "found footage" spoof to Tyra Banks' entrance to Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" to seeing the judges go all out with their costumes, the opening was bizarre but attention-getting. I loved seeing Bruno as Beetlejuice (or Brunojuice as Tyra called him), Carrie Ann as Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It, and Derek as Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (two Dereks are better than one). The fact they also got so much into character almost made up for the fact that we didn't get any elaborate team dances due to social distancing.

Let's take a look at how your favorites did on this seventh week of competition:

Jeannie Mai & Brandon Armstrong, Paso Doble

Jeannie and Brandon's Paso Doble to Nelly Furtado's "Maneater" was brilliantly paired with costumes inspired by The Silence of the Lambs. What a fun opening dance! Derek proclaimed she absolutely ate up that Paso with proper shaping and framing. Bruno said she made a meal out of the dance, admiring her gusto and attack. Carrie Ann called it an explosive way to open the show, saying it was full of powerful attack and excitement.

Score: 25


Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart, Viennese Waltz

After being in the bottom two last week, Johnny and Britt came back with a vengeance with a steamy Viennese Waltz to Radiohead's "Creep." I loved their theatrical Dracula theme - Johnny made a great vampire. Bruno was bitterly disappointed that it wasn't bad at all with wonderful sweeping motion and all the qualities of a Gothic romance. Carrie Ann said he floated through it like a rock star with powerful storytelling elements. Derek enjoyed seeing his redemption from last week, calling it a perfect formula for success.

Score: 27



Chrishell Stause & Gleb Savchenko, Paso Doble

Chrishell and Gleb's Paso Doble to "In the Air Tonight" with Maleficent costumes was magnificent. Carrie Ann told her she was in her element with storytelling at its finest and beautifully executed moves. Derek called it cinematic, admiring the way she tapped into the villainess' spirit. Bruno felt the dance was mesmerizing, although he noted that she lost the fluidity of the Paso Doble at times. Kudos to the costume department for nailing that killer outfit!

Score: 26



Monica Aldama & Val Chmerkovskiy, Jazz

I haven't watched Netflix's Nurse Ratched series yet, but Monica and Val were clearly channeling it with their costumes and a Jazz routine set to "Fever." Derek complimented the musicality, lifts, and seductive energy of the character. Bruno got more of a mild chill than a fever from the performance because he didn't see enough Jazz body movement. Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno, noting it was lacking some of the intention behind the movements. It's good to see Monica feeling more confident and having fun. She received two 7's, and an 8 from Derek for her efforts.

Score: 22



AJ McLean & Cheryl Burke, Tango

A few hours before the show, it was revealed that Cheryl sustained a head injury during Sunday's rehearsal. It was unknown whether she was going to be able to dance. Cheryl was cleared to perform, and she and AJ danced an adrenaline-filled Tango to the Psycho theme with AJ channeling his best Norman Bates. Carrie Ann was impressed, praising him for nailing such a challenging routine. Derek loved the intro and intricate footwork, but he took off a point due to issues with AJ's frame. Bruno admired the way he translated the neurosis of the character into the dance.

Score: 26



Nelly & Daniella Karagach, Argentine Tango

Nelly and Daniella's Argentine Tango to The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face" was nightmarishly good with a nod to one of the best horror villains of all time: Freddy Kruger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Carrie Ann called it his best dance to date with a sense of urgency to his movements and fancy footwork. Derek could tell how great their partnership is, commending him for being sturdy on his feet. Bruno said he killed the Argentine Tango, admiring the way he handled himself on the floor. I loved that he dedicated the dance to his horror-obsessed girlfriend. Cute!

Score: 27



Justina Machado & Sasha Farber, Tango

Justina and Sasha's Tango set to "Take Me to Church" by MILCK was perfect, although I didn't really care for their Carrie-inspired costumes. Justina channeled her best spurned prom queen, but Sasha looked like a generic zombie quarterback. Maybe I'm a bit too sympathetic of the Carrie character, but was she really a villain? The choreography was as incredible as ever. It really looked like she was jerking Sasha all over that dance floor. Derek told her she set the place on fire with an exquisite frame. Bruno said she stormed through it like a woman possessed but thought she was a little hoppy for the Tango. Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno, telling her she needs to listen to their critiques because she owns the ballroom floor and she's a serious contender this season.

Score: 26



Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson, Paso Doble

The Black Swan on Villains Night, really? Nev and Jenna's Paso Doble set to "Swan Lake Remix" was eerily captivating even if it was a non-traditional choice to set the fear factor. It ended up being an epic showdown of light vs. dark and Nev managed to make that look far way creepier than it had any right to be. Bruno called it perfect, saying he loved this piece. Carrie Ann had high expectations but said he exceeded them with a breathtaking job. Derek thought it was gorgeous with beautiful shaping. It was the first perfect score of the season. Was it worthy?

Score: 30



Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten, Argentine Tango

Skai and Alan were tasked with dancing an Argentine Tango to "Everything I Wanted" by Billie Eilish while wearing costumes inspired by Bride of Chucky. It was a tremendous improvement from last week's chaos, but I'm not sure how I felt about seeing a grown-up Chucky. Carrie Ann was proud of Skai for coming back stronger than ever. Derek could tell she was on a mission to kill the routine with her determined focus and gorgeous lifts. Bruno said there wasn't a bad step in the Tango or a bad bone in this sweet girl's body. It was a trio of 9's from the judges.

Score: 27



Kaitlyn Bristowe & Artem Chigvintsev, Paso Doble

I love Cruella de Vil and cannot wait to see her backstory from Disney hopefully next year. Kaitlyn and Artem's Paso Doble set to Rihanna's "Disturbia" was full of attack. Derek wants to adopt Artem because he's so cute (haha, you and half of America!). He also complimented them for the challenging choreography. Bruno loved the character but thought it felt slightly rushed and the timing could have been crisper at this stage in the competition. Carrie Ann could tell she was struggling a bit this week because her elbows give out and her spirit drops. It did feel a bit forced.

Score: 24



I didn't want the Halloween Villains party to ever end, but it was revealed Jeannie & Brandon and Monica & Val were in jeopardy of going home this week. Bruno saved Jeannie and Brandon, while Derek saved Monica and Val based on her continued improvements. Carrie Ann was the tie-breaker, choosing to save Jeannie and Brandon. I was supportive of the judges' decision, though I didn't agree with the bottom two. How did your favorites fare this week? Are you nervous about the impending double elimination?

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Box Office Report :: October 23•25

© 20th Century Studios

It was a soft weekend at the box office with two new releases and two re-releases cracking the Top Ten, while the top two films remained firmly in place.

At Number 1 again was Liam Neeson's thriller Honest Thief which added 77 screens (mainly due to New York allowing cinemas outside of the city to reopen) -- 2,502 total now -- but saw a 43% decline from its opening weekend, earning $2.35 million. That brings its domestic total to $7.48 million. Overseas the film has amassed $4.2 million, bringing the global total to $11.68 million. Holding down second place for a second week, The War With Grandpa added 85 screens (2,345 total) and experienced a 24% decline, earning $1.91 million. That brings its three week domestic total to $9.75 million. The film has also earned a cumulative $4.1 million from foreign markets, bringing its global total to $13.85 million.

The New York theater openings didn't help Tenet, which shed 200 screens, now down to 1,801 total, but saw just a 19% decline, moving down one spot to Number 4 with an estimated $1.3 million (Warner Bros. is still not providing actual numbers), bringing its eight week domestic total to an estimated $52.5 million. Overseas, the film's cumulative total is an estimated $289.1 million, with a worldwide gross now at an estimated $341.6 million.

As far as the Top Ten newcomers -- which pushed The New Mutants, Unhinged, Love and Monsters, and The Kid Detective off the chart -- 20th Century Studios' The Empty Man scared up $1.31 million from 2,027 screens which put it in third place for the week. The film had a small foreign opening with $118,376 in the till. The studio is obviously hoping the coming Halloween weekend will give the film a boost as it's currently not available even for pre-order on sights like Apple TV and FandangoNow. After We Collided opened at Number 8 with $422,899, and is also available to stream (click our links to see it from the comfort and safety of your living room). The film has been playing in international markets since September and has a cumulative total of $45.6 million. With the domestic debut, the film's global total stands at $47.67 million.

On the re-release front, Monsters, Inc. and The Addams Family join The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus in the Top Ten. Monsters, Inc. landed at Number 7 with an estimated $494,000, while the animated The Addams Family just barely squeaked into the Number 10 spot with $282,841, beating The New Mutants by just $439.00.

The Halloween weekend is really going to be a weekend to stay home and watch your favorite horror movies with just The Donut King and Come Play slated for limited release. The next wide release comes November 6 with Let Him Go starring Kevin Costner.

Below are the Top Ten grosses for the weekend of October 9-11.

  1. [1] Honest Thief - $2,354,022 [$7,480,296]
  2. [1] The War with Grandpa - $1,913,169 [$9,750,216]
  3. [N] The Empty Man - $1,310,326 [NEW]
  4. [3] Tenet - $1,300,000 [$52,500,000]
  5. [4] The Nightmare Before Christmas - $577,000 [$1,900,000]
  6. [5] Hocus Pocus - $530,000 [$4,372,000]
  7. [N] Monsters, Inc. - $494,000 [NEW]
  8. [N] After We Collided - $422,899 [NEW]
  9. [6] 2 Hearts - $319,010 [$988,832]
  10. [N] The Addams Family - $282,841 [NEW]

Source: Box Office Mojo

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tehran S01E05: The Other Iran

© Apple TV+

‘Tehran’ accelerates with desperate acts in ‘The Other Iran’
by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of Tehran was called “The Other Iran”, which is sort of an ongoing theme of the show, the different aspects of the country apart from the mainstream or party line. The reveal in the last episode that Faraz’s wife was clearly kidnapped by the Israelis is not a huge surprise, although it’s quite a moral boundary to cross as she’s certainly not part of the security services herself, just an innocent connected to Faraz.

But Faraz, under the wire when confronted by his superior, dissembles effectively and seemingly comes up with a new plan on the spot, realizing (probably correctly) that the Israelis threat to his wife is likely an empty one. It’s a clever turn, one I didn’t consider, and Faraz attempts to turn Masoud into a triple agent, although obviously that doesn’t end up working out for either of them.

Masoud seems to be aware that his days are numbered, leading to a pretty tense scene where we aren’t sure exactly what will happen -- but it’s pretty reasonable from the Israelis’ perspective to kill him (in the morals of tradecraft anyway), as he is already compromised and could easily reveal sensitive information (even though he hadn’t broken yet).

Although now Masoud is obviously off the show, and while it’s good for the show to establish such high stakes in the game, I’ll miss Navid Negahban in the role, who was always a great presence here -- it just goes to show how much they screwed up using him in the Aladdin remake (along with all the other mistakes they made there). Now you do wonder the next move on both sides, as Faraz is still hunting for Tamar, while the Israelis have lost their vitally connected asset there.

But Tamar plots to return to the city soon, with the aid of her new lover Milad, who is ethically compromised in different ways. Although Milad represents a more progressive, freer perspective pushing against the legal restrictions of Iran, he’s also a drug dealer of ecstasy (at least), not exactly the most angelic job. It’s a good sort of twist on the idea, because Milad seems decent enough, although we really know very little about him.

© Apple TV+

Tamar has to go through her own little adventure, where we see her fail and succeed in useful ways to establish her character better. She may be well trained and fluent in Farsi, but she doesn’t know the culture perfectly, as she uses a “thumbs up” sign which is benign in many countries including Israel and the US, but in Iran (among a few other countries) it’s basically the middle finger.

She might even have realized that after the fact but was a bit too stressed at the moment -- but then again, Tamar was never meant to stay in the country this long. The rave presented some additional pushes against her, with her desire to always stay in control -- she had to sell drugs and even imbibe them under peer pressure from Milad.

Although at least we get to see her fight back against some big dudes as they “test” her for trust. It’s not the smartest plan to test her, but then again, these guys are drug dealers -- although we do see the leader spot Tamar hacking into Milad’s phone.

It’s a good way to setup the next episode, because there are a lot of threads left to unravel and a lot of unknowns -- Faraz might be an antagonist, but he’s not a monster, and Milad might be a romantic partner, but he also seems to be a bad influence. It’s a good way to keep us interested in the story, which is ultimately so far about the spy vs spy stuff, humanizing both sides instead of making it purely a “good guys vs terrorist” thing. I mean it’s no Ted Lasso, but Tehran has been pretty entertaining so far.

Tehran is available to stream on Apple TV+

Watch on Apple TV

Box Office Report :: October 16•18

© Open Road Films

It was a short tenure at Number 1 for The War With Grandpa as Robert De Niro was no match for Liam Neeson whose new action thriller Honest Thief unsurprisingly took the top spot. The film opened on 2,425 screens with $4.11 million, giving it a per screen average of $1,697, not the highest per screen average on the charts this week. The film's international opening scored an additional $1.39 million, giving it a worldwide total of $5.5 million. For now the film's distributor, Open Road, is keeping the budget numbers under wraps.

Surprisingly, there were four other new releases hitting the Top Ten this week (three new films and one re-release). At Number 4, Disney got more mileage out of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, which seems to have become a Halloween tradition now (even though everyone involved has admitted it's actually a Christmas movie), which earned an estimated $1.32 million. At Number 6, the based on a true story 2 Hearts earned $522,937 from 1,683 screens, a per screen average of $310. The film also debuted on PVOD services.

At Number 9, one of the few Paramount Pictures titles to not be sold off to Amazon or Netflix, the long-delayed Dylan O'Brien comedy-adventure Love and Monsters earned an estimated $255,000 on 387 screens, an average of $658. The film also debuted on pay streaming services where it landed at the Number 1 spot on FandangoNow and Apple TV. The Adam Brody comedy-drama The Kid Detective opened at Number 10 with $140,218 from 865 screens, an average of $162. Neither film has any international reporting.

In its second week of release, The War With Grandpa saw just a 31% decline and moved down one spot to Number 2 with $2.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $7.26 million. Tenet saw a 24% decline from last week moving down one spot to Number 3 with an estimated $1.6 million, bringing the domestic total to $50.6 million. Overseas, the film has climbed to $283.4 million, bringing the cumulative global total to an estimated $334 million.

Outside of the Top Ten, two films had some impressive per screen averages. At Number 41, The Bra earned $4,472 from two screens, an average of $2,236. At Number 28, She Dies Tomorrow moved up two spots to Number 28 in its 12th week of release, earning $11,471 on two screens, an average of $5,735.

The coming weekend of October 23 will see 20th Century Studios' crime-horror The Empty Man in wide release (the animated Connected was previously scheduled for this weekend but has moved to a date to be announced), with Bang! Bang!, Synchronic, Coming Home Again, and After We Collided in limited release. Can The Empty Man snag audiences craving some big screen horror or will Liam Neeson dig his heels in at Number 1 next week? Stay tuned.

Below are the Top Ten grosses for the weekend of October 9-11.

  1. [N] Honest Thief - $4,115,249 [NEW]
  2. [1] The War with Grandpa - $2,506,523 [$7,260,855]
  3. [2] Tenet - $1,600,000 [$50,600,000]
  4. [-] The Nightmare Before Christmas - $1,323,000 [NEW]
  5. [3] Hocus Pocus - $756,000 [$3,842,000]
  6. [N] 2 Hearts - $522,937 [NEW]
  7. [4] The New Mutants - $468,278 [$22,724,804]
  8. [5] Unhinged - $424,213 [$20,037,513]
  9. [N] Love and Monsters - $255,000 [NEW]
  10. [N] The Kid Detective - $140,218 [NEW]

Source: Box Office Mojo

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Dancing With the Stars S29E06: Top 11

DWTS marks the midway point of the season with a mediocre episode
by Kim Krober

Dancing with the Stars needs to get its act together. This week's episode felt like another ho-hum filler sandwich in between '80s Night' and 'Halloween Villains Night' without an obvious theme.

The most exciting thing was a special performance by judge Derek Hough with his girlfriend Hayley Erbert, who used to be a member of the show's dance troupe. The couple danced a mesmerizing Paso Doble to "Uccen" by Taalbi Brothers. I've missed Derek's amazing choreography and unique flair. The competition has felt seriously lacking without him or Mark Ballas competing in recent years.

We've reached the midway mark of the season, and it's getting harder to say goodbye to the couples. Who goes next is really anyone's guess, and this is both exhilarating and frightening with so many of my favorites remaining on the ballroom floor. Let's take a look at how your favorites did on this sixth week of competition:

Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart, Samba

Coming off the heady aroma of a couple of 10s from last week, Johnny and Britt attacked their Samba set to "On the Floor" by Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull. Derek noted a few misses, but said it was a great way to start the show. Bruno loved the costumes but thought it lacked some of the hip action and styling of the Samba. Carrie Ann didn't think it was his best dance, but she enjoyed watching it. I would probably agree with the judges. It lacked a little sizzle.

Score: 22


Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson, Jazz

Nev and Jenna got to Jazz it up this week with a fun, spirited routine to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations." Bruno told them they were deliciously bonkers with the feeling of a rave, but it worked. Carrie Ann thought it was amazing with every Jazz step thrown in, while Derek noted it was clean and in sync. Funky good!

Score: 26



Monica Aldama & Val Chmerkovskiy, Rumba

I'm always fascinated by love stories in which people break up and then get back together because they realize they miss their soul mate. Monica and Val's Rumba to "Have I Told You Lately" by Rod Stewart was dedicated to Monica's husband Chris, whom she divorced and remarried. Carrie Ann was wowed by watching her come into her own with refined, sensual, and radiant movements. Derek complimented her softness and impressive balance, saying he loved the story of her Rumba. Bruno called it a classic Rumba with inspired lines and shapes.

Score: 27



Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten, Cha-Cha

Skai and Alan danced a Cha-Cha to "Say So" by Dojo Cat and Nicki Minaj. I'd never heard this song, but I enjoyed their hypnotic rhythm and costumes. Derek commended her for carrying on despite some mistakes, saying she had some great Cha-Cha moments. Bruno loved the K-Pop look and praised her for handling challenging choreography the best she could. Carrie Ann said she came back stronger than ever and would give her a 10 for her recoveries.

Score: 18



Vernon Davis & Peta Murgatroyd, Cha-Cha

I knew Peta looked like she was in pain last week - I read she pulled her neck and had to have therapy. However, you couldn't tell during the couple's Cha-Cha set to Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" this week. Bruno loved the colorfulness and groove, but said Vernon needs to learn to use the balls of his feet. Carrie Ann enjoys watching him because he's so comfortable and at ease on the dance floor. Derek said he would give him a 10 for joy, but from a technical and timing standpoint, he's still having issues. I thought Vernon looked a lot less stiff and more in his element, but was it too little too late? I'd hate to see him go out on such a high note.

Score: 21



Nelly & Daniella Karagach, Viennese Waltz

Nelly brought out his softer (and country!) side for a gorgeous Viennese Waltz set to Tim McGraw's "Humble and Kind." Carrie Ann was at a loss for words, finally saying she loved seeing his many layers and beautiful storytelling. Derek loved the masculine softness but cautioned him about watching his frame. Bruno called him charming and endearing, saying he was turning into a swan before his very eyes. It made me love watching Nelly even more!

Score: 24



Jeannie Mai & Brandon Armstrong, Rumba

Jeannie and Brandon's Rumba to Des'ree's "You Gotta Be" was dizzying and surprising. Derek admired its sensuality, complimenting her legwork. Bruno said it was right up his alley with a smoldering passion. Carrie Ann called her stunning and sexy, praising her for dancing at her powerful edge, which she noted is difficult for a woman.

Score: 25



AJ McLean & Cheryl Burke, Samba

AJ and Cheryl looked muy caliente during their Samba set to "Mi Gente" by J Balvin and Willy William. Bruno told him to just do it and not be sorry for dominating Cheryl, saying he always delivers with a strong performance. Carrie Ann called it a breakthrough. Derek said, "when in doubt, shake it out," telling AJ it was really fun and easy to watch.

Score: 27



Chrishell Stause & Gleb Savchenko, Contemporary

It was a good week for a Contemporary for Chrishell and Gleb, as this type of dance usually elevates scores. Set to "Stars" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, it was a moving tribute to her parents who both passed away in the past year. Carrie Ann could tell she poured her heart and soul into the dance, but she told her to be careful about pointing her toes. Derek commended her for bringing joy and light to the dance floor every week despite her challenging year. Bruno called it emotionally engaging and irresistible because of its rawness. She earned her highest score from the judges (a trio of 8's) and made me change my number of votes I was casting for her. Powerful peak at the right time.

Score: 24



Kaitlyn Bristowe & Artem Chigvintsev, Samba

Kaitlyn and Artem's Samba to "Sorry" by Justin Bieber was probably one of her strongest performances to date, but I'm sorry to say it lacked sizzle. Derek thought it was fantastic with proper Samba hip action but told her to work on her attack. Bruno believes in her, calling it a first-class Samba. Carrie Ann felt it was well-executed in its precision and technicality, but it failed to impress her. She deserved the high judges' scores, but it was kinda boring to watch.

Score: 27



Justina Machado & Sasha Farber, Viennese Waltz

"She's Always a Woman to Me" by Billy Joel is one of my favorites. They saved the best for last with an ethereal Viennese Waltz from Justina and Sasha. Bruno thought it was a fantastic show, complimenting Justina for being light as a feather and filling the floor with joy. Carrie Ann called her elegant and refined, saying she's a beautiful dancer. Derek told her she's a very consistent performer, admiring the way she floats across the floor week after week.

Score: 27



Johnny & Brit and Vernon & Peta were revealed to be in jeopardy at this critical point in the competition. Derek voted to save Johnny & Brit. Carrie Ann voted to save Vernon & Peta based on this week's performance alone. Bruno cast the tie-breaking vote, choosing to save Johnny & Brit. Vernon may have had a good week, but I 100% think the judges made the right decision. How did your favorites fare this week?

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

CBS announces premiere dates for 10 scripted series

CBS has announced the November primetime premiere dates for 10 scripted series. The five dramas and five comedies span time periods on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. Additional premiere dates for November will be announced shortly.

The new comedy joining the CBS schedule on Thursday, Nov. 5 is B POSITIVE, from award-winning executive producer Chuck Lorre and creator Marco Pennette, starring Emmy Award-nominee Thomas Middleditch and Tony Award-winner Annaleigh Ashford. The series is inspired by Pennette's personal experience as a transplant recipient.

The returning shows include #1 series NCIS on Tuesday, Nov. 17; #1 comedy YOUNG SHELDON and #2 comedy MOM on Thursday, Nov. 5; Monday's popular one-hour comedy block of THE NEIGHBORHOOD and #1 new comedy BOB ♥ ABISHOLA, followed by the hit drama ALL RISE on Monday, Nov. 16; Sunday's two most-watched entertainment programs NCIS: LOS ANGELES and NCIS: NEW ORLEANS on Sunday, Nov. 8; and the two-hour premiere of S.W.A.T. on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Also, classic NCIS launches Sunday, Nov. 8, featuring fan-favorite episodes from the drama's previous 17 seasons, creating a three-hour block of NCIS following 60 MINUTES on Sunday nights.

These programs join the previously announced season premieres of 60 MINUTES and 48 HOURS, which have already debuted, and THE AMAZING RACE, on Wednesday, Oct. 14.


Thursday, November 5

  • 8:00 PM - YOUNG SHELDON (4th Season Premiere)
  • 8:30 PM - B POSITIVE (Series Premiere)
  • 9:00 PM - MOM (8th Season Premiere)

Sunday, Nov. 8 (Football Doubleheader)

  • 7:30 PM, ET/ 7:00 PM, PT - 60 MINUTES
  • 8:30 PM, ET/ 8:00 PM, PT - NCIS: LOS ANGELES (12th Season Premiere)
  • 9:30 PM, ET/ 9:00 PM, PT - NCIS: NEW ORLEANS (7th Season Premiere)
  • 10:30 PM, ET/ 10:00 PM, PT - NCIS (Fan-favorite episodes from the previous 17 seasons)

Wednesday, Nov. 11

  • 9:00 PM - S.W.A.T. (2-Hour 4th Season Premiere)

Monday, Nov. 16

  • 8:00 PM - THE NEIGHBORHOOD (3rd Season Premiere)
  • 8:30 PM - BOB ♥ ABISHOLA (2nd Season Premiere)
  • 9:00 PM - ALL RISE (2nd Season Premiere)

Tuesday, Nov. 17

  • 8:00 PM - NCIS (18th Season Premiere)

Date and times are subject to change.

Dancing With the Stars S29E05: 80s Night

DWTS' 80s Night was the cheerful competition boost we all needed
by Kim Krober

It was 80s Night on Dancing with the Stars, and I couldn't have been more stoked. I was ready for them to bring on the spandex, leg warmers, bright colors, scrunchies, high hair with Aqua Net, and glorious synthesized pop. I was hoping for homages to some of my favorite '80s movies as well, and the performances did not disappoint on that front. Neither did the judges. Bruno and Derek looked like they were channeling Miami Vice while Carrie Ann looked gorgeous with huge, crimped hair. The only one who failed to impress was once again Tyra. I honestly have no idea who picks out her outfits week after week, but they don't do her many favors. I did like her third green outfit a little.

Let's take a look at how your favorites did on this totally tubetacular fifth week of competition:

Justina Machado & Sasha Farber, Jazz

Justina and Sasha got jazzy with the memorable "Maniac" from the Flashdance soundtrack, and it was a fun opening for 80s Night! Justina was a teenager in the 80s, so she was totally in her comfort zone and it showed. I applaud them for even reenacting the silhouette scene in which water came pouring down on Justina. Derek called it a perfect opening, saying she's always so much fun to watch. Bruno complimented Sasha's neckline (saying it gave him vertigo) and called it a deliciously 80s dance that made him cry in a good way. Carrie Ann said they nailed it with the side-by-side dancing required in a Jazz routine.

Score: 24


Jesse Metcalfe & Sharna Burgess, Tango

How adorable were the childhood photos of Jesse from the 80s? Equally adorable were their costumes and the Patrick Nagel-inspired images of Jesse and Sharna that appeared in the backdrop! This duo danced a fun Tango to Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Bruno admired Jesse's intent and performance, but he noted that he lost his steps and timing somewhere along the way. Carrie Ann agreed, but could tell he was feeling the music and complimented him for showing his confidence. Derek wants him to succeed and have breakthroughs, but he wanted to be honest about the framing being a disappointment. I don't understand why the judges never seem to like Jesse's routines. They seemed extremely harsh this week.

Score: 19



Chrishell Stause & Gleb Savchenko, Cha-Cha

Chrishell and Gleb danced a Cha-Cha to New Kids on the Block's "(You Got It) The Right Stuff." Gleb, please don't ever grow a mullet for real. I don't know about the Cha-Cha, but they nailed the memorable NKOTB dance moves from the video. Carrie Ann didn't feel it had enough Cha-Cha content, while Bruno called it naughty. Derek enjoyed the side-by-side steps but warned her about her arm extensions and footwork. Who cares about 6's from the judges when you receive personal messages from the New Kids telling you that you have the right stuff!?

Score: 19



Jeannie Mai & Brandon Armstrong, Jazz

The photos of Jeannie and her mom performing at weddings in the 80s were priceless. Jeannie and Brandon danced a sudsy Jazz routine to Madonna's "Like a Virgin" that would make the Material Girl herself blush. Derek thought they looked adorable, complimenting her confidence, commitment, and ease. Bruno called it immaculate and a squeaky clean, PG version of Madonna. Carrie Ann thought it was incredible, telling her she's the most exciting performer to watch this season. I wouldn't necessarily say that, but I do root for her every week.

Score: 24



Monica Aldama & Val Chmerkovskiy, Tango

Monica and Val reminisced about the faux pas last week when they discovered they were in the bottom two despite being told earlier they were safe. The result was they came out stronger than ever with a determined Tango to Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." Bruno said she focused like a laser-guided missile with fantastic shapes. Carrie Ann called it an incredible performance with all the dynamics and big guns brought out this week. Derek admired her drive and legs, commending them for having a Tango that moved across the floor. Two 9's from the judges = total redemption.

Score: 26



AJ McLean & Cheryl Burke, Waltz

AJ and Cheryl danced a dreamy Waltz to the Journey power ballad "Open Arms." It was great to see a slow dance in a week full of Tangos and Jazz routines. It stood out in a special way. Carrie Ann and Derek complimented his smooth ballroom style. Bruno called them the King and Queen of the 80s Prom with great, sweeping motion.

Score: 24



Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten, Jazz

Skai and Alan danced a Jazz routine to Huey Lewis & The News' "The Power of Love" from the Back to the Future soundtrack, earning my votes once again in the process. (I had a Back to the Future-themed wedding a couple years ago complete with a DeLorean, so you might say I'm a super fan.) Derek felt it was fun, noting how much she lights up and her incredible energy. Bruno said she has the moves and lifts, but she needs to continue to work on the dismounts. Carrie Ann told her she needs to expand her movements because she's so petite. This was my favorite performance of the night so far!

Score: 24



Vernon Davis & Peta Murgatroyd, Tango

I enjoyed seeing Vernon in a Bon Jovi-esque wig for his Tango with Peta set to "Livin' on a Prayer." Bruno said the groupies will be lining up for Vernon later, but he needs to work on sustaining the steps throughout the entire routine. Carrie Ann likes the quality of movement she's seeing from him, but he needs to work on transitional moves with Peta. Derek gave a shout-out to the hair and makeup crews but said he wants a little more attack from Vernon. Was it just me or did it look like Peta was in pain, rubbing her neck after they received the judges' scores?

Score: 21



Kaitlyn Bristowe & Artem Chigvintsev, Tango

Kaitlyn and Artem channeled their inner nerds with a Tango set to "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany. Carrie Ann commended them for keeping in frame (throwing a little bit of shade at the night's other three Tangos). Derek called it a beautiful Tango with sharp, precise movements. Bruno said it was an action-packed 80s blockbuster of a Tango and thanked them for their commitment. She earned three 9's from the judges, which was her highest score to date.

Score: 27



Nelly & Daniella Karagach, Samba

Nelly and Daniella danced a spirited Samba to DeBarge's "Rhythm of the Night." Derek said it was his best dance ever with an enjoyable freedom to behold. Bruno noted how much lighter and carefree he was on his feet and praised them for doing a proper Samba. Carrie Ann said the dance made her so happy, calling it yummy overall.

Score: 24



Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart, Contemporary

When I found out Johnny and Britt were dancing a Contemporary to Bonnie Taylor's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," I was excited to see how much expression he would be able to convey with the ultimate power ballad. Bruno said it's the sign of an artist when you can fill the space with movement and emotion. Carrie Ann told him to turn around and take a bow, praising Britt's choreography. Derek said he was watching for mistakes, but it was perfect and beautiful. It was almost the first perfect score of the season, except Bruno had to rain on the parade with a 9.

Score: 29



Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson, Quickstep

Nev opened up about being diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and how an after-school dance class changed his life for the better. I thoroughly enjoyed his and Jenna's Quickstep to "Take on Me" by a-ha. From the outfits to the fake flashbulbs to the high-octane energy, this was one of the best performances of the night. Carrie Ann thought his movements were a little smaller than normal. However, Derek absolutely loved it and could relate to Nev's story about focusing his energy on dancing. Bruno thought it was the most exuberant Quickstep ever with very detailed footwork. The only disappointing thing about it were his less-than-perfect judges' scores.

Score: 26



Peta & Vernon and Jesse & Sharna were revealed to be the bottom two. Bruno and Carrie Ann both voted to save Vernon & Peta (and I think Derek would have made the decision unanimous). I was majorly bummed to see Jesse go home this early in the competition. No offense to Vernon, but I don't think the judges made the right decision. How did your favorites fare this week?

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Boys S02E08: What I Know

© Amazon

‘The Boys’ finishes its second season with some surprises and some of the same-old same-old.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The season finale of The Boys is called “What I Know”, which is of course, a pointless reference to the graphic novel titles as I’ve said ad infinitum by now. What will they do when they run out of titles that bear no real relevance to the episode at hand? I suppose they’ll have to come up with their own, which I think I would prefer.

The second season of The Boys was a bit all over the place, with some pretty decent social commentary and satire, along with some storylines that weren’t as interesting and some characters underwritten. Speaking of that part, as of the finale MM still never gets anything truly interesting to do or say -- real misstep on the show’s part. Now, the storyline in the graphic novel is quite problematic, offensive, and bizarre even for this show so I don’t think they should have simply used that. But giving MM essentially no memorable backstory isn’t a great tactic either.

Frenchie (or Serge as was said a few times) had just a little more, with the only really successful moments his up and down relationship with Kimiko, leading to a fairly nice ending with the two of them using sign language against Stormfront and going off dancing. Kimiko was always compelling, with Karen Fukuhara capable of really giving pretty crazy range without saying anything. If you’ve seen her on her YouTube channel or interviews, her actual personality is so different from Kimiko making it pretty stark and impressive.

I actually started the episode with a touch of apprehension and uncertainty, a good sign in general because I had no idea what was going to happen. Ultimately, the twists and turns and deaths felt a bit normal. Becca dies at the hands of Stormfront, who is killed by Ryan in a callback to “hating” someone in the same episode -- that’s not much of a callback, it was pretty easy to predict.

 Aya Cash was obviously great the entire season, but I’ve been a “stan” of hers since You’re the Worst so nothing new from me there. The actual downfall though was so insanely fast, especially compared to the inconsistent pacing of the rest of the season, I’m not sure how well it worked. The finale was super fast paced, but sometimes the rest of the season suffered from not being paced that well.

I think I would’ve felt it worse if she managed to survive somehow into the next season the way they had set up the Nazi revelations -- and without her, the worst person is back to being Homelander, who did seem to be valuing Ryan over Stormfront throughout the episode, so the way it ended felt pretty reasonable. We’ve seen for a while that Homelander is obsessed with being loved and appreciated, so that was the only way for Maeve to get him to back off -- even if in his final speech we see the emptiness behind his eyes (Anthony Starr as always pulling off the sociopathic turn).

The entire Scientology storyline was, I suppose, merely a way to do two things: Reveal the new supe in disguise to us and return other things to the status quo. So A-Train’s back to the Seven because he happened to be listening in on Edgar and Alastair talking about him and Stormfront, which directly led to the Nazi leak and Stormfront getting beaten up by the lady supes in an explicitly called out reference to the “girls get it down” from earlier in the season. It would've been more satisfying to me if they had shown Stormfront with visible damage, otherwise I couldn’t tell if she was really getting hurt.

Now as for our new supe, Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) who has been coded to seem like AOC or similar young progressive politicians, turning out to be a Vought plant the whole time? As Fry from Futurama said: "I’m shocked! Well, not that shocked." “Vic” Neuman was a character in the comics, a very stupid, clearly developmentally challenged man that becomes the vice president and is Vought’s puppet.

© Amazon

So when I realized that Victoria Neuman was a gender swapped person, I wondered why she was on the side against Vought. So it’s a good twist, because it makes sense, and actually uses the ignored storylines of the comics to help you figure it out if you read them. I appreciated that, and I feel that it’s a good setup for future seasons -- a smart puppet of Vought is more interesting than the GWB parody they had in the comics (which was really more the comics creators getting out their anger at GWB in the first place).

The final moments between Starlight and Hughie are fine enough, but their romance is a bit wonky too -- I didn’t mind it, but I never felt it was that interesting this season. And as for Billy, now that Becca is gone and Ryan is off under CIA protection, what’s his next move? Hard to say, but it seems like it must be something to do with Homelander and Ryan.

So overall, decent season, very watchable and with some real high points. A lot better than that Preacher adaptation, so as long as they can improve over time here, I think The Boys has a real shot at being lasting satire.

The Boys S02E07: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

© Amazon

'The Boys’ blows it all up in the penultimate episode of the season.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of The Boys is called “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker”, once again more from a graphic novel title that barely connects to the radically different story of the adapted work. Here we see mainly four through lines interconnected, one the Scientology parody barely connected to the rest, one with Queen Maeve slightly more connected, and the two main ones, setting up the big hearings and rescuing Starlight.

As per usual, the Scientology satire with The Deep and A-Train feels more of the same, now referencing toxic people and cutting people out of their lives, which is called in the real world a “suppressive person”. It feels like the most unsubtle part of this extremely unsubtle show, and it’s hard to really care about either A-Train or The Deep due to their unsavory pasts. And the comedy doesn’t really work either this episode with them, so it felt like “okay I get it, can we move on now?”

On the Maeve front, her storyline has been rushed all season, and so we get a lightning quick breakup, a breakdown where she hooks up with two dudes, and comes back at the end of the episode to save Starlight from Black Noir (and maybe kills him? It’s unclear). But she doesn’t go with the other supe, because she can’t, for reasons not fully explained, even if much can be inferred. I feel like Maeve is a character with a lot of potential, but not the potential we’ve seen enough of.

It sort of depends on the finale, but for now these two storylines have left me a bit disappointed. On the better side, I did like Hughie’s adventure to save Starlight, even though it was pretty straightforward, and I also did not really care about Lamplighter immolating himself. We barely got anything from him, good or bad, just a mild amount of grey, so it’s hard to care that he’s dead, any more than Hughie or Butcher seemed to.

© Amazon

Butcher though has far more of an interesting episode, confronting his terminally ill father (a perfectly cast bastard of John Noble) and we get more insight into his troubled past. That’s the sort of context I like to see, and that connects easily into Billy threatening Dr. Vogelbaum’s family in a way that we believe him completely.

That storyline is connected back through the radicalization done by Stormfront, who is now leading Homelander down the same path. The opening montage, of a man driven by fear to kill an innocent immigrant, feels quite relevant, as does the dog whistling and pretense of caring about innocent victims by Stormfront and Homelander.

Where it gets truly terrifying is the way they manage to subvert his son, by revealing the safe lie by his mother -- another parenting mishap. Homelander even reveals what feels like truth to Becca, that when he found the real world, it was overwhelming and panic inducing. We get even more terror from Vogelbaum himself (classic character actor John Doman) who reveals to Billy that he 100% mistreated and alienated Homelander as a child.

But that doesn’t mean it’s satisfying to see him die in the final moments of chaos of the episode, where we seem to be just as confused as everyone else. Was it Stormfront? The exploding head lady from the Vought secret asylum? If it is her, why did she do it? And was Billy involved? These are the sorts of questions that are good to set up the finale, which I certainly feel invested in -- honestly I expected things to go wrong at the hearing, I just wasn’t sure how.

The Boys really tries to shock and surprise, and although as someone who read the pretty exploitative source material I’m kinda desensitized to it, I do appreciate when the show delves into real world issues when they get it right. And of course Aya Cash deserves accolades for this, as she did for You’re the Worst, so get on it next year’s Emmys!

Box Office Report :: October 9•11

© 101 Studios

Well, after six weeks we finally have a new Number 1 film, the family-friendly The War With Grandpa, which had been stuck in distribution purgatory for two years after the fall of The Weinstein Company. Former TWC exec David Glasser formed 101 Studios and rescued the film, though releasing it in the middle of a global pandemic might not have been the best idea even if it did top the charts (less so with critics who have given it an average score of 28% on Rotten Tomatoes). But the film did debut with $3.62 million on 2,250 screens, which works out to an average of $1,609 per screen, one of only two films on the charts this weekend to crack the $1,000 average. The film also banked a few bucks from international markets, earning $1.83 million, giving it a cumulative global tally of $5.45 million. Unfortunately, the film cost $24 million to make so it has a long way to go to make back its money.

The War With Grandpa pushed Tenet down into the Number 2 spot with an estimated $2.1 million, down 22% from the previous week, bringing its domestic total to an estimated $48.3 million. The film's international total has now hit $275.2 million, for a global total of $323.5 million. Shedding 457 screens, the Hocus Pocus re-release moved down to Number 3 with an estimated $1.16 million, a decline of 40%, bringing its two week domestic total to $3.08 million. Another Disney release, Coco reentered the chart this week at Number 6 with $210,000. The film has been in release for 151 weeks and now has a domestic total of $209.93 million.

The New Mutants and Unhinged also got pushed down one spot each because of The War With Grandpa. The New Mutants moved down to Number 4 with $705,822, a decline of 32%, bringing its domestic total to just over $22 million. Internationally the film is at $21 million with a worldwide total of just over $43 million. Unhinged moved down to Number 5 with $682,819, a 19% decline from the previous week, taking its domestic total to $19.37 million. With its foreign total of $18 million, the film's worldwide gross stands at $37.37 million.

One new film cracked the Top Ten this week, Yellow Rose which made its debut at Number 8 on 900 screens, earning $150,330. The Wolf of Snow Hollow just missed the Top Ten, opening at Number 11 with $91,943 from 112 screens. Neither of those films cracked the $1,000 per screen average mark but I Am Lisa at Number 29 did. With an opening weekend of $6,986 from three screens, the film's average total was $2,328 per screen.

The weekend of October 16 will see two wide releases and we're willing to bet the new Liam Neeson action thriller Honest Thief easily claims the top spot. The only other wide release is the romantic drama 2 Hearts, but judging from the performance of The Broken Hearts Gallery, that one is going to struggle. Other limited releases next weekend include The Shade Shepherd, She Is the Ocean, Escape from Extinction, The Bra, The Devil Has a Name, Harry Chapin: When In Doubt, The Kid Detective and Shithouse. As things stand now with Disney finally giving in on Pixar's Soul, moving it to Disney+ on Christmas Day, and Greenland now headed straight for PVOD in the States, the only two notable releases still sticking to their December dates are Death on the Nile and Wonder Woman 1984. It will be a Christmas miracle if either of them stay put at this point.

Below are the Top Ten grosses for the weekend of October 9-11.

  1. [N] The War with Grandpa - $3,620,990 [NEW]
  2. [1] Tenet - $2,100,000 [$48,300,000]
  3. [2] Hocus Pocus - $1,161,000 [$3,086,000]
  4. [3] The New Mutants - $705,822 [$22,011,883]
  5. [4] Unhinged - $682,819 [$19,376,204]
  6. [-] Coco - $210,000 [$209,936,015]
  7. [5] Infidel - $205,602 [$3,819,991]
  8. [N] Yellow Rose - $150,330 [$170,168]
  9. [6] Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back - $145,000 [$2,403,000]
  10. [8] Possessor Uncut - $143,752 [$510,107]

Source: Box Office Mojo

Get Duked! is a genre mashing delight

© Amazon Studios

The comedy aspect of the film outshines the horror elements of the movie.
by Justin Moore

Amazon Studio’s latest film, Get Duked!, is a genre mash-up of two of my favorite type of movies: comedy and horror. Many films have been successful at blending both genres like Shaun of the Dead and Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil.

Get Duked! features four teens who trek through the Scottish Highlands as part of the Duke of Edinburgh. An award is given to teenagers who can hike through the highlands. One of the teenagers is eager to participate in the event but the other three are forced to join. Let’s say it’s a punishment. As the four teenagers are making their way through the Scottish Highlands, they encounter a couple who wants to hunt the teens for game. A modern Most Dangerous Game if you will.

Get Duked! is funnier than it is scary. The comedy aspect of the film outshines the horror elements of the movie. The film had plenty of intense moments sprinkled throughout the film as the four teens were trying their hardest to come up with creative ways to survive. The Duke (Eddie Izzard) and the Duchess (Georgie Glen) are the hunters, who are mistaken for the Duke of Edinburgh by the teens as they ask him for assistance when they encounter him. Instead they get shot at. The pair hunts them throughout the movie, which makes the film entertaining because the four teens severely lack any survival skills. The movie doesn’t get overly violent but instead maintains the intensity throughout.

The four teens add up for a lot of humor in the film. One character that stands out was inspiring rapper DJ Beatroot, who will try anything to get famous, which includes making random rap videos in the fields or performing a concert to people on drugs. The whole cast works together well with a lot of great performances from the teens. Eddie Izzard gives a terrifying performance as the Duke who seems oddly calm at the idea of hunting teens in an open field. There are a lot of running jokes that carry throughout the film all the way to the crazy finale.

Get Duked! had a style that could easily be compared to films by Edgar Wright. It had a quick pace with a lot of quick cuts and overly stylized moments. Towards the end of the film, a teen takes hallucinogens and the film provides a lot of colorful graphics on screen which continues to add the already outrageous satire. Get Duked! was highly satisfying with a great mashup of two fun genres. Director Ninian Doff, who is a first-time director, has a lot of potential in film if he can continue to create unique genre bending movies.

Ted Lasso was a wonderful surprise: the best and most radical show of the year

© Apple TV+

'Ted Lasso’ is a must see, one of the best first seasons of a comedy in a while.
by Jeremy Fogelman

I’ve seen an absurd number of television shows this year. They range from the great (Devs) to the good (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist) to the decent (High Fidelity) to the mixed (Avenue 5) to the meh to the downright poor. There were some legitimately very good and sometimes deep shows this year, but as it sometimes happens, we got the best in August with Ted Lasso.

The character of Ted Lasso was originally from a 2013 short that was a promo for coverage of the Premier League (the UK top level soccer/football league). There Ted was simply a college football coach who had been hired by a soccer team who simply did not know the rules. The show takes that much further, combining with a concept reminiscent of Major League except instead of being dated and kinda racist, it’s heartwarming, funny, inclusive, and revelatory.

Ted (Jason Sudeikis in a career best role) is hired by Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) to take over as new head coach for AFC Richmond, which of course is a fictional team. The backstory is deceptively clever: Rebecca is suffering after a very nasty divorce to super rich Rupert (Anthony Head at his most mustache twirling) where she became the new owner. As Rubert loves the club more than anything (including and especially his ex-wife), Rebecca, embittered and angry, wants to ruin it.

Thus enters Ted, a genial mustached gent with a Southern accent and an overwhelmingly positive attitude. This is the sort of the thing that could get annoying fast, but shockingly, it never does -- instead over the course of the season, even as Ted goes through difficult emotional times himself, we begin to appreciate his mindset and philosophy. From the start he’s all about positive thinking and belief, and even winning the day against Rupert in a darts throwing competition with dropping an epic Walt Whitman quote about being curious, not judgmental.

© Apple TV+

By the end he’s still dropping wisdom, offering the truly genuine take that kindness begets more kindness. He puts out this positive energy, and he knows people often don’t get it. Because Ted is no fool, he is not naïve, nor anything so cliché -- he is making a choice to be positive and to be kind. Ted represents the best sort of real life American hero we’d want, someone who represents the underlying values without holding onto bigotry or fear. It’s kind of unreasonable how great it feels to watch all these people change for the better over the course of the season.

I’ve said before that any show or movie that can make me laugh and cry is automatically a favorite, and Ted Lasso is no exception. There are funny lines in every episode with characters that never get too broad, and depth that gets revealed over time. It’s a great cast of characters besides the titular character. Ted’s assistant, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), always has a great low key energy, and someone who learns about the new world they’re in faster than his boss.

Kit man Nate (Nick Mohammed, somehow brilliant in this but the opposite in Intelligence) getting an arc of self-confidence and self-reliance, Rebecca’s assistant Higgins (Jeremy Swift) getting the same, and various and sundry footballers. Pretty-boy phenom Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) is shown to be trying to work past his own damage and poor male role models, even if he’s not quite there.

© Apple TV+

The great relationship that develops between dynamic effervescent Keeley (Juno Temple, who should now be in everything) and gruff, secretly kindhearted Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, who is pretty phenomenal considering he’s primarily been a writer before this) is so good it is only overshadowed by the wonderful friendship that grows between Rebecca and Keeley. Considering that those are the main female characters in the show, they get a lot to do on their own and with each other.

Trying to convince someone that Apple TV+ is a worthwhile subscription is a hard sell -- I wasn’t sure myself at first, and I’m still not a fan of their UI, which is often quite difficult to use, and I don’t care for the end of episode autoplay that seems to happen inconsistently and cannot be controlled. There are some pretty decent shows on there (The Morning Show and Dickinson for example), but after watching those first episode drops of Ted Lasso, I knew I had found a new favorite. It is worth the monthly free trial for sure to watch this show, which I thought might be good -- created by Bill Lawrence and starring Jason Sudeikis were positive signs -- but I didn’t guess how good.

There are some reviews out there that don’t quite get why the show is as good as it is -- they see these story beats and think of it as the same old same old. But you only have to consider the show’s unsubtle refutation of toxic masculinity and universally well written cast of characters to appreciate that this show is far from ordinary. We’re in October still, but for me, Ted Lasso is the best new show of 2020 and a must see.

Watch on Apple TV