TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 (2021)
Written by Dalan Musson
Directed by Kari Skogland

This episode was a bit of an improvement from the last couple, but the show is still far from being as good as it could be. One of the most glaring problems with the mini-series is how bloated the narrative has become with characters. In this one episode, we have scenes with Sam, Bucky, Isaiah Bradley, his grandson Elijah, John Walker, John Walker’s wife, Lamar’s family, Sam’s sister, and his nephews, Zemo, the Dora Milaje, Joaquin Torres, Batroc, Sharon Carter, Karli Morgenthau & the Flag Smashers. Plus, they introduce a new character, the Contessa de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The Zemo narrative appears to be over as he’s taken into Wakandan custody, but I just don’t see a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to all these arcs next episode.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 4 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

With only two episodes left in this mini-series, it has gotten to the point where the story feels utterly bloated with characters and subplots that can’t possibly be resolved by the end. WandaVision had a tight focus on a single storyline; here, we have too many characters with a too complicated web of relationships. If this was a whole television season and characters were given spotlights, it could work. However, we’re getting established characters written to fit the plot (Sam Wilson), other characters having their arcs rushed (Zemo), and a bunch of other people not given room to breathe and showcase who they are in this narrative.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

I overwhelmingly disliked this third entry of the series for a multitude of reasons and I’ve been reflecting on some of the race issues brought up by the first two episodes. We’ve reached the halfway point in The Falcon and Winter Soldier, so now we have an idea of what this is shaping into and I have to say it is not looking great. This episode especially felt like a mess in every possible aspect from dialogue to characterization to the plot. 

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 2 (Disney+)
Written by Michael Kastelstein
Directed by Kari Skogland

It should be literally impossible to discuss a piece of Captain America media without the conversation becoming political. This is something that’s annoyed me about the candy-consumption of so much fandom is that they want their entertainment divorced entirely from a discussion about current events and the state of the world. That might work to an extent with Guardians of the Galaxy or the Silver Surfer, but when the characters are very much tied to the government and foreign policy, you cannot avoid it. The fundamental nature of Captain America is a product of World War II-era jingoism. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been used to tell nuanced stories that make critiques of the United States, but we are simply not going to ever get something like that from Marvel. Marvel has repeatedly partnered with the American military-industrial complex to help mythologize “the soldier” in popular culture. In Black Panther, they couldn’t let Wakanda be autonomous; they had to inject a CIA agent in as one of the good guys. So it is literally impossible to talk about this Disney+ series without getting political.

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TV Review – The Best of Seinfeld Part 4

The Invitations (Season 7, Episode 24)
Original airdate: May 16, 1996
Written by Larry David
Directed by Andy Ackerman

The four main characters of Seinfeld are not meant to be aspirational figures. They are almost warnings about how not to behave in society. Few episodes highlight that aspect as strongly as the finale of season seven. It’s not their ugliest moment, but it is capped off by the coldest reaction we have ever seen them have. This moment underscores how Seinfeld was not like other family-friendly sitcoms and emphasized Larry David’s edict of “no hugging, no learning.”

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TV Review – Servant Season 2

Servant Season 2 (Apple TV+)
Written by Tony Basgallop, Nina Braddock, and Ishana Night Shyamalan
Directed by Julia Ducournau, Ishana Night Shyamalan, M. Night Shyamalan, Lisa Brühlmann, Isabella Eklöf, and Nimród Antal

Servant is a show that confounds me at times. Its premise is an intriguing one: a married couple hires a nanny to care for a reborn doll and find that their child is suddenly restored to life. Just in that one sentence, we can explore grief, relationships under stress, what it means to be alive, and a big supernatural hook to boot. Yet, I always engage with the show having some hesitation because of M. Night Shyamalan’s involvement. I have a complicated history with the director’s body of work because I started out loving what he was doing only to watch him go off the rails most spectacularly. He’s not the main creative force behind Servant, that would be Tony Basgallop, but there is an evident influence from Shyamalan in the aesthetics and plot beats of each episode. 

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Solider Episode 1

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 1 (Disney+)
Written by Malcolm Spellman
Directed by Kari Skogland

Wandavision set the bar for Marvel series on Disney+ and we are getting our look at the next one fairly quickly. The Falcon and Winter Soldier directly continues events from Avengers: Endgame, mainly the passing of the torch from Steve Rogers to Sam Wilson. With a Captain America story, the expectations are going to be very different from something like Wandavision. One episode in and it appears the showrunners know the tone and type of story that works best with these characters so we’ll see where things go.

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TV Review – The Best of Seinfeld Part 2

The Pitch (Season 4, Episode 3)
Original airdate: September 16, 1992
Written by Larry David
Directed by Tom Cherones

There are few seasons of network sitcoms as wildly bold as Seinfeld Season 4. Because it’s become part of the cultural conversation, we don’t really notice it, but it was insane that this was even made. Larry David decided to make a season-long serialized story about the sitcom characters making a sitcom based on their lives. These days, meta-humor is a fairly common element in media, but in 1992, most audiences had never seen anything like this. One of the things I’ve noticed about rewatching these episodes is how often Jerry’s comedy routine was picked apart or made the butt of a joke. It all informs Curb Your Enthusiasm, which would be Larry David’s unbridled dissection of the entertainment industry and his continued examination of the minutiae of daily life.

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TV Review – Wandavision Episode 9

Wandavision Episode 9 (Disney+)
Written by Jac Schaeffer
Directed by Matt Shakman

So the first of the Marvel series has come to an end in rather a standard way. All of the grand fan theories really didn’t add up to much, with the writers choosing to not go too deep into the next phase of the MCU. There’s an exact resolution for Wanda here, the story told over these episodes comes to a definite ending, but we see a new path opened up for her leading into the next Doctor Strange film. The same can be said for Vision, who has a new lease on life. I’m not sure if we will see him again when Wanda returns, but I am sure there are plans for a reunion somewhere down the line. 

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TV Review – The Best of Seinfeld Part One

The Best of Seinfeld Part One

The Phone Message (Season 2, Episode 4)
Original airdate: February 13, 1991
Written by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
Directed by Tom Cherones

You’ve probably heard the story of Seinfeld’s creation before. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his friend Larry David co-developed the series for NBC. They focused on Seinfeld’s comedy routine, observations about mundane aspects of life and used it as a foundation for the sitcom. The result was a show that didn’t teach a heart-warming lesson in each episode or even have morally redeemable characters. It was a clear break from the direction the American sitcom was going in the 1970s and 80s. The result was that it became the highest-rated program of its day and had a tremendous influence on programming even today. It also has developed its fair share of people who dislike the series. They see it as grossly cynical & part of an out-dated mindset. They aren’t wrong, and revisiting it with a modern lens does illuminate problems I couldn’t see as a kid. However, I argue it is still a hilarious show and was just the sort of things a segment of the population needed who wasn’t interested in something like Full House or other family-oriented sitcoms.

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