Saturday, November 18, 2017

REVIEW: FOX's 'Ghosted,' 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'The Gifted' and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (November 12-18)

Various reviews from FOX shows for November 12-18, 2017:

Ghosted - Episode 1.06 "Sam"
The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.06 "Double Cheeseburger"
The Gifted - Episode 1.07 "eXtreme measures"
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 4.06 "The Venue"

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 November 12-18, 2017. Enjoy!

Ghosted - "Sam"
While Captain Lafrey is out, Annie installs a smooth-talking Artificial Intelligence, "Sam," to manage the office, but Max and Leroy are put to the test when Sam turns out to be an evil and powerful force trying to take down the Bureau Underground. All the while, Max is jealous when Leroy makes a new friend. Written by Ryan Ridley and directed by Jamie Babbit

"Sam" is an episode with solid execution of a very familiar premise. It tells the tale of an artificial intelligence not doing what it's programmed to do and trying to destroy all of humanity. That's a somewhat cliche story that doesn't ultimately have much nuance or difference from the norm here. And yet, it's still pretty amusing to watch. Yes, it's helped by Dax Shepard being cast as Sam. He just has an endearing face that makes it believable for why everyone in the office believes Sam immediately. Well, everyone except Barry. And Barry remains a significant problem on the show because it always feels like he's trying too hard to be a part of a comedy series instead of a natural part of the ensemble. It's much more exciting when Max gets pulled into this chaos and is made to seem delusional. Sure, Leroy is only able to figure out that Max is telling the truth because of some obscure information established in the cold open instead of a consistent character trait he's seen from Max throughout the series so far. But it's still a pretty thrilling conclusion. Of course, Lafrey then sets up the mystery of someone planting Sam in the Bureau Underground. It's easy to assume that the culprit was the woman she was meeting at the bar. That role is played by Sonya Walger who is too recognizable an actress to play such a forgettable part in this episode. Sure, she could just be a way to provide more backstory for Lafrey. But if this ongoing mystery about Sam is going to be important, then the culprit needs to be someone the audience has seen up to this point. B

The Last Man on Earth - "Double Cheeseburger"
Carol's pregnancy takes an unexpected turn, and while Tandy feels ready to face the challenge head on, Gail is concerned and wants to intervene. Melissa discourages Todd's baby fever. Written by Emma Rathbone and directed by Lucia Aniello

Carol needed to give birth at some point during the first half of this season. It was established that she got pregnant a few weeks after Erica did. Erica gave birth in the previous season finale. There was the fear throughout this season so far that Carol would give birth during the gang's uncertain circumstances in fleeing nuclear fallout. But now, the gang has comfortably found their new home and Carol has given birth in the most pleasant, unexpected way possible. And yes, it is a good joke to have Carol give birth while she's asleep without feeling any pain whatsoever. It's a change from the norm of how television typically depicts characters giving birth. However, the show digs deeper for an emotionally resonant story in having Carol actually be pregnant with twins and the second baby not coming out fast enough. It's just a story with a lot of yelling and characters trying to tell Carol what's best. Plus, it seems a little too fake as well. Gail has been studying up on delivery. She's armed with knowledge on what to do in this situation. It's weird how the show goes from Carol not being dilated enough to give birth and Gail wanting to go in there with a needle to Carol having another pleasant birth while Gail and Tandy are fighting. It's odd and mostly plays for comedic effect. It's fine and different. It just doesn't really do a whole lot when it comes to the emotions the characters and audience should be feeling at this moment. That instead comes when Carol decides to call her second daughter Mike after Phil's brother. That's unexpected but really rewarding to see. Meanwhile, the Todd-Melissa subplot was always going to build to that inevitable conclusion of her allowing him to babysit Dawn. But it's weird how that is such a big deal since Todd has always promised Erica that he'll be a father to her baby when she needs it. B

The Gifted - "eXtreme measures"
Eclipse receives a call from Carmen and must revisit his dark past in order to protect the Underground. Reed and Sage comb through some secret files they recovered and find alarming information about Lauren's new friend. Thunderbird helps Blink open up about her past life. Jace greenlights a special surveillance program with the help of Dr. Campbell. Written by Michael Horowitz and directed by Stephen Surjik

This is the most scattered episode of the season so far. There are a number of plots going on. And yet, it's a mystery as to what any of it is building to or what the significance of it all will be. That's lame and not all that exciting. Plus, the show is being a little inconsistent as well. Blink doesn't know the significance of where she kept creating a portal to. And then, she is suddenly flooded with all of these memories of a personal and tragic backstory. What is the purpose of that? Why did she need to leave the Underground to find these answers? It mostly just gives her an excuse to keep fighting. It's just really forced. Meanwhile, Jace's story is basically just turning him from an antagonist to a villain. That could be compelling because of his desperate circumstances. But Campbell is also there to be an explanation for anything truly devious that happens which keeps Jace an arms-length away from the true villainy of the season. Then, this episode felt like the one that would dig deeper into Eclipse's backstory. It would explain the life he was living in the cartel and why he needed to live. But no such nuance comes to that backstory. There is a scene showing Thunderbird and Polaris recruiting him. But this story is mostly just creating melodramatic tension between him and Polaris because he does a job for Carmen. But it's not clear if he liked using his powers in that way and will continue to do so. And finally, there's no reason to care about the information Reed discovers about Lauren's new friend. The guy was just introduced in last week's episode and the show wants us to believe that he and Lauren have a connection. It wants us to be broken because he leaves for another station at the end of the episode. But again, that really doesn't do anything to better establish the characters at all. C

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Venue"
The always unwelcome Vulture pops back into Jake and Amy's lives, threatening to swoop in and take something important away from them. Boyle and Rosa must track down Sergeant Peanut Butter, the kidnapped NYPD horse that Charles envies. Holt challenges Terry to be less image-conscious. Written by Matt Lawton and directed by Cortney Carrillo

Jake and Amy really are a terrific couple. This season has put their romance at the forefront of the story once more. That's been really fascinating and great to see. Of course, it's a little lame that the show is trying to get the audience into believing that they will get married in someplace other than the precinct. That just seems like a foregone conclusion. Mike Schur shows are known for surprising weddings. So, it's odd to get so much of the wedding planning upfront in this episode. Things are slightly amusing with the Vulture returning to mess up their plans. That's a character who has been funny in the past. But this story really doesn't do a whole lot new with him. He just creates a moral dilemma for Jake and Amy. They can't keep up his ruse and lose their dream venue in the process. But again, it doesn't change what I'm fully expecting from their wedding later this season either. Elsewhere, the two subplots are pleasant and fine but not all that special. Yes, it's important for Terry to confront how much he needs people to like him. But it's a little impersonal as a story as well because it's trying to give dimension to the uniform cops who also work out of this precinct. Yes, the hug with Holt is funny. It's just not enough to make up for the rest of the story. And finally, it's great to see Boyle yanked out of a burning building by a horse. It's nice that the show hasn't overused Sergeant Peanut Butter over the years. But it has been awhile since the horse was last seen and everyone's uniform adoration for him. So, it's a little more difficult to get into the story even though Boyle's reactions to the various news stories are very amusing. B-