This week in TV Land saw the return of Amazon Prime’s feminist critical darling (now with a jillion awards under its belt!), a much-hyped Adult Swim premiere, and a bottom-of-the-barrel Canadian crime drama you’ve never heard of! We’ve got it all for you here in this week’s TV Roundup!
BAD BLOOD (Netflix)
Fans of true crime might be attracted to BAD BLOOD purely for the subject matter, but to be honest, that’s all it really has going for it. The series tells the story of the Rizzuto crime family in Montreal, and no, crime in Montreal doesn’t consist mainly of not saying “sorry” and holding doors open for people. I know, I was disappointed too. Head of the family, Vito, is running his operation like a tight ship and has united the major crime gangs of the city under his banner. But at the end of the pilot, Vito is arrested and extradited to the US, causing a rift between his family and the Canadian underworld.
There’s a weird blend of perennial gangster dramas that can be felt everywhere in the show, like the directors and producers all sat down and watched the GODFATHER trilogy, all of the SOPRANOS, and even NARCOS, and then said “How hard can it be?” Turns out, more difficult than they anticipated, as most of the actors just seem very excited to be playing gangsters and constantly milking their roles, asking themselves “What would Gandolfini do here?” The biggest disappointment of the show is how not-gripping it is, as the BIG SHORT-esque opening voice-over makes it feel like a documentary about the fall of a major organized crime family in Montreal, which is genuinely interesting, but then the actors start acting and you realize you’d rather hear Marcus Parks recite the major beats of the series to you while stuck in traffic. The show’s only kind of interesting if you’ve read the book it’s based off of, and if you have, you don’t need to see the show. [Steven Porfiri]
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL S2 (Amazon Prime)
At its best, Amazon’s THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL comes across like one, good, elongated play. Mile-a-minute dialogue flies from characters’ mouths as they dart from picturesque setting to picturesque setting (The Upper East Side, the Catskills, Paris… to name a few). Lines are said, then repeated, then repeated again for emphasis. Jokes come so often that it’s easy to miss them as they become buried in the set-dressings of this fanciful world that Amy Sherman-Palladino has created.
Picking up where season one left off, season two finds Midge still navigating her life as an Upper-East-Side mother and daughter while simultaneously clawing her way up the ranks as a comedian with the help of her friend and manager, Susie. Almost immediately, however, the season bursts in to let us know that Midge will not be the primary focus. The majority of the premiere episode follows Midge and her father, Abe, to Paris on a mission to fetch her mother, who has decided to take an extended vacation from her life as a ‘50s housewife. The rest of the season unfolds as the audience watches Midge climb, fall, climb again and doubt her choices while intertwining her narrative with those of the people around her (arguably paying too much attention to the secondary characters like her parents and Joel).
In addition, it’s constantly clear while watching the show that there’s a lot that it could say if it wanted to. There are discussions of class, race, sexuality, and gender normatives that could be dug into as 1950s America plays as such a distinct backdrop for this show. But, instead, it doesn’t. And maybe that’s okay, because even through two seasons, it’s still a delight to watch Midge twirl and whizz her way across New York, telling jokes at a speed that can make anyone wonder when she even has time to take a breath. [Anna Thorup]
THE SHIVERING TRUTH (Adult Swim)
Do you like drugs? Do you enjoy YouTubers who use smash cuts every five seconds? Do you like grossing out your friends with the Internet’s most depraved creations? THE SHIVERING TRUTH does the absolute most to win your goldfish-like attention spans. The idea behind the show seems to be combining the violent claymation stylings of ROBOT CHICKEN with the surrealism of OFF THE AIR, but THE SHIVERING TRUTH fails to feel like any more than the sum of those meager parts. And as the AS single-season failsons have proven before, a show can’t stand on shock value alone.
To their credit, grossing out the modern viewer requires a certain degree of vile creativity, and this has a good chance of winning over its target audience. The violence succeeded at turning my stomach, and I was frequently befuddled. I can remember a time not long ago when I’d be overjoyed with just that, solely for the honor and the pleasure of repulsing my best friends. But as the appeal of being a bug-eater fades, so too does the appeal of shows like THE SHIVERING TRUTH. It’s deserving of a spot near the bottom of a compilation titled “high videos,” but not much more. [Dan Blomquist]