Wednesday, November 22, 2017

REVIEW: FOX's 'Ghosted,' 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'The Gifted' and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (November 19-25)

Various reviews from FOX shows for November 19-25, 2017:

Ghosted - Episode 1.07 "Ghost Studz"
The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.07 "Gender Friender"
The Gifted - Episode 1.08 "threat of eXtinction"
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.07 "Two Turkeys"

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 19-25, 2017. Enjoy!

Ghosted - "Ghost Studz"
When a pair of smug actors, Chaz and Jared, from the ghost-hunting show "Ghost Studz," accidentally stumble upon real paranormal activity, Max and Leroy must go undercover on set at an abandoned mental hospital to save them. Leroy resents the "perks" the actors get with their fame, realizing he and Max will never enjoy the same benefits working in a top-secret bureau. Barry demands some perks of his own. Written by Sarah Peters and directed by Michael Patrick Jann

I've been consistent in saying that Ghosted has been one of the few new shows this fall that has actually been good. However, this episode is just bad. It basically stops all of the good momentum that the show had been establishing for itself as of late. It should have a fun assist from the Workaholics reunion between Blake Anderson and Anders Holm. But their characters are so one-note and bland. They are asked to be stupid guys obsessed with fame who are completely oblivious to what's actually going. That's a little too lame in the execution. There is a fascinating idea in this show mocking the numerous reality shows that explore the paranormal. Max and Leroy know that the paranormal actually exists. A whole division of this agency could be making sure that these shows don't actually discover something meaningful and expose it to the world. But instead, this episode is all about Leroy complaining about a lack of perks with this job. Additionally, the alternate dimension that Max and Leroy stumble into is pretty unimaginative. It's an endless void that is basically just full of plastic curtains revealing random objects in rooms. The show just doesn't go far enough to heighten that world with just complete absurdity. And then, there's just a completely random subplot about Barry wanting a better chair. It continues to showcase how that character just doesn't work in this show. But it also has a lame payoff that never really amounts to something significant in the main story. C

The Last Man on Earth - "Gender Friender"
Tandy goes to great lengths to convince everyone he's a feminist. Carol gets jealous of the time that Gail spends with Erica and Dawn. Todd tries to be a father figure to Jasper. Written by Rich Blomquist and directed by Kristen Schaal

This season really hasn't found its groove yet. It's been relying on episodes that highlight the eccentricities of a certain character. Most of the time that falls onto Tandy who is the most annoying character and the rest of the group knows that. And yes, there are plenty of annoying things about him claiming to be a feminist despite the evidence to the contrary. But there ultimately isn't enough story there for this to be a fascinating journey for the character. Elsewhere, Carol becomes a little annoying as well. She's a little too cruel to Gail as she's criticizing the amount of time she spends with Erica and Dawn. It still produces a meaningful story in Gail and Erica getting married. But even that moment is bogged down by Tandy's speech instead of really being about Gail and Erica professing their love to each other. And yes, it is significant to have that bonding moment between Erica and Carol about Gail. But it also feels like what needed to happen in order to keep things grounded and civilized in the group. Elsewhere, it seems like Todd should have a better relationship with Jasper at this point. Him being tentative around him basically just proves that Jasper is often just by himself because the rest of the group forgets about him. That's lame even though the comedy of the show has to change slightly whenever Jasper is an important part of the story. But again, this story between Todd and Jasper mostly just feels like lame setup for a more meaningful relationship in the future. C+

The Gifted - "threat of eXtinction"
More refugees pour into the Mutant Underground, but the group faces a threat when they discover one of them is a spy working for Sentinel Services. Reed visits his estranged father and learns that secrets from his family's past could prove useful. Written by Carly Soteras and directed by Steven DePaul

The comparison isn't perfect but the launch of Runaways on Hulu this week made me realize that The Gifted just isn't a good show at all. Sure, the suspicion has been there for awhile. It's just now more apparent after seeing a show set in the Marvel universe that is about family relationships done so well. Here, the drama is treating the saga of the Strucker family as this big melodramatic thing that is full of twists and turns. The entire story pivots around Reed's estranged father telling him that their family produces some of the most powerful mutants in the world. It sets up the expectation that Andy and Lauren simply holding hands as being the most destructive thing. And then, it builds to that moment and nothing happens. It instead opts for it to be a cliffhanger. So something better happen at the start of the next episode. Otherwise, all of this seems pretty lame. This hour also highlights how Jace and Campbell's plan of attack really isn't that great. They are turning mutants and inserting them inside the Underground. And yet, it seems like they function more as suicide bombers instead of double agents. Of course, the show may just be playing the long game with that reveal. Campbell seems annoyed because he knows that the mutants have become aware of their plan. But that could just set up the inevitable twist that someone like Esme - who points out Chloe's differences - is actually working against the cause. But again, it's still hard to get a sense of what the point of this story arc actually is. It still never feels like the show is actively building towards something big. And that is a huge problem that is really derailing the show. C

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Two Turkeys"
Jake and Amy attempt to get their parents to bond over Thanksgiving dinner, but their first holiday together as a family does not go well. At the precinct, Holt and Kevin's special Thanksgiving pie is stolen from his office and Holt searches through the ranks for the possible culprit. Written by David Phillips and directed by Alex Reid

"Two Turkeys" features a West Wing reunion between Jimmy Smits and Bradley Whitford as well as a Sons of Anarchy reunion between Smits and Katey Sagal. It's one of the more guest star-driven episodes of the entire series. Most of the main story is about the clashing between Jake and Amy's fathers. The engaged couple are mostly just sitting idly by reacting to all of the escalating tension. It's still amusing because of the performances from Smits and Whitford. But a lot of it feels expected as well. The show sets up certain expectations in the first half only to immediately have things reach those conclusions by the end. Jake and Amy have a list of common interests only for all of them to predictably fail. Jake and Amy mention their fathers are competitive so that's expected to happen. Jake wants the fathers to hug in the end and that's the only way this story could have resolved despite the crazy journey getting to that point. It's fun. But it's also just as amusing to see the rest of the squad back at the precinct with Holt investigating who stole his pie. The solution to the crime was a little obvious with Kevin being the culprit. But the reactions that Holt gets out of Terry, Rosa and Boyle are terrific as they reveal their unexpected plans for the holiday. Plus, it's always amusing when a situation calls for Hitchcock and Scully to prove their worth as detectives. Here, it's completely motivated by their immense knowledge of sweets. B