Friday, October 20, 2017

REVIEW: FOX's 'Ghosted,' 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'The Gifted' and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (October 15-21)

Various reviews from FOX shows for October 15-21, 2017:

FOX's Ghosted - Episode 1.03 "Whispers"
FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.03 "Skeleton Crew"
FOX's The Gifted - Episode 1.03 "eXodus"
FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.04 "HalloVeen"

In 2017, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage of various shows, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on FOX from October 15-21, 2017. Enjoy!

Ghosted - "Whispers"
With the encouragement of Max, Leroy romantically pursues a female cop while they work on-site at a local resort. As the pair search for the culprit behind a string of murders, Captain Lafrey has Annie and Barry investigate her daughter who may be sneaking behind her back with a boy. Written by Sally Bradford McKenna and directed by Dean Holland

The show is still figuring itself out. It's learning about its actors and what's the best way to tell stories. As such, the failings of this episode have more to do with the structure than anything else. There is just such a huge disconnect between what Max and Leroy are doing and what everyone else at the Bureau Underground is doing. This show is at its most distinctive when it is focusing on the weird and paranormal. A show that features Leroy being possessed by a succubus and Max only being able to knock him out of that trance by singing "Walking in Memphis." That's a very strong and amusing moment. It's moments like that that highlight the unique blend of comedy and supernatural in this show. But then, the action keeps cutting away to Barry and Annie trying to spy on Lafrey's daughter. It's a story with a weird plot beat as well with her evading that monitoring. But it's also too normal and lackluster. It reveals nothing new about this world that is all that necessary. It mostly just gives those characters something to do that isn't connected to the main mission. That's weird. Max and Leroy are great as partners but the show should flesh out their relationships with everyone else. And that final tease is pretty ominous. It's doubtful that Max will listen to his wife's advice not to look for her because of whatever the aliens did to her. But that sets up an interesting serialized story for this season. So, it's an exciting tease. B

The Last Man on Earth - "Skeleton Crew"
Pamela tries desperately to redeem herself with everyone, as the gang finally reaches Mexico. Todd is disappointed that Zihuatanejo is not the paradise of which he'd dreamed. Written by Kassia Miller and directed by John Solomon

Kristen Wiig and Chris Elliott were the big cast additions to this season. As such, it's a tad surprising that they are already leaving. It's a quick exit for both of them. And yet, it comes from an episode that focuses almost completely on the two of them bonding on the trip to Mexico. They are both still new to the group and how they do things in this world. They are alienated a little bit. The rest of the group is fine with their punishment system. Of course, they rightfully question it as well. But mostly, this is just a solid episode for Wiig and Elliott. They get to have some strong comedic showcases. It's particularly funny when Carol and Gail confront Pamela about all the loud noises they heard the previous night. And then, things are earned when it takes a turn to the more dramatic. Yes, it's silly that Pamela and Glenn are already madly in love after only one night of passion. But this is a world where those connections are formed and immediately become strong. It surprisingly means something when he pushes her away because he wants to leave the group to find his family. It's then moving to watch when she decides to go with him. Everyone else is focused on the radiation and trying to make Mexico their new home - despite it failing to meet Todd's incredibly high expectations. But that's a concern for the future. Right now, the spotlight is on Glenn and Pamela. That's where it deserves to be. It's going to be a suicide mission for them because of the radiation in America. But they are aware of that. Plus, they aren't dead yet. So, they still may appear again sometime in the future. B+

The Gifted - "eXodus"
In an effort to reunite with one another, Reed cuts a deal with the Sentinel Services while Caitlin and the kids seek help from someone outside the compound. Thunderbird begins to teach Blink how to control her powers. Written by Rashad Raisani and directed by Scott Peters

This is just a frustrating episode of television. Everything happens just in order for big conflicts and life-or-death stakes to occur. Caitlin and the kids abandon the Mutant Underground because they figure they know better than the people who've been doing this for awhile. That's just foolish and highlights how out-of-her-depth Caitlin really is. It doesn't make her a compelling character. It just makes her seem naive and dim. Meanwhile, Andy is clearly on a dark path. He wants to retaliate and give the humans afraid of him exactly what they fear the most. He wants to fulfill their expectations instead of trying to prove that mutants aren't a threat to humanity. There just isn't much subtlety to that story. Meanwhile, Dreamer creating memories of a past relationship between Blink and Thunderbird is just awkward and forced. Thunderbird knows immediately that it's going to be a problem. She only does it to save his life. But it still feels like a piece of plotting to make things complicated through romantic tension. That's nothing new and the execution here is nothing to get excited about. Meanwhile, Reed agreeing to work with the Sentinel Services to get his family immunity while taking down the Mutant Underground was a tense moment at the end of last week's episode. And now, it's good for one episode of story. He has doubts the entire time and ultimately changes his mind instead of putting a young girl at risk. That seemingly makes him noble. But this entire story just seems pointless in the end. It just confirms that he and Polaris are being sent to a place much worse than jail. That's ominous and the show better deliver on that tease. And finally, it's weird that Caitlin gets an update about Reed from his brother instead of through the connection in the Mutant Underground who actually interacted with him. C

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "HalloVeen"
The Nine-Nine embarks on its fifth annual Halloween Heist and, as usual, everybody has a plan and no one is safe. Relationships and friendships are tested as the title "Amazing Human Slash Genius" must be snagged by midnight, leaving everyone pitted against each other. Written by Dan Goor and directed by Jamie Babbit

The annual Halloween heist episode gets more and more difficult to pull off with each passing season. It's the one episode where the audience is actively looking for twists. It's a big puzzle as the entire precinct is trying to outsmart one another to walk away with the prize. It's a solid formula that always creates one of the most reliably funny episodes of each individual season. But there's also the expectation going in that perhaps this will be the year that Terry wins or Rosa or Boyle. The champion has changed each year. There's the expectation that that will once again be true here. So, it won't ultimately be surprising when that happens. As such, this episode needs to find new ways to surprise the audience. Most of that typically comes from the various tricks the detectives pull on one another. This episode is already great because of Jake getting involved in a pyramid scheme to enlist the help of the Boyle lookalike, Holt not being fooled by the replacement dog for Cheddar (and him proclaiming "This bitch?") and the swarm of Handmaids that burst into the precinct to distract everyone. But it's the final twist that truly makes this episode one of the best the show has ever done. Jake using this event to propose to Amy is such a brilliant idea. It's in keeping with everything the show has done with these characters and their relationship while it still being a shock. Amy wasn't expecting it. It's fascinating that Jake didn't enlist the help of anyone in the precinct either. That allows their various reactions to it to be genuine and very funny - especially Boyle fainting. It's just such an uplifting moment that works both comedically and emotionally. It was so completely unexpected but so deeply rewarding in the end. And that makes this the heist to remember even though no new winner is declared. A