Saturday, November 11, 2017

REVIEW: FOX's 'Ghosted,' 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'The Gifted' and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (November 5-11)

Various reviews from FOX shows for November 5-11, 2017:

FOX's Ghosted - Episode 1.05 "The Machine"
FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.05 "La Abuela"
FOX's The Gifted - Episode 1.06 "got your siX"
FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.05 "Bad Beat"

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 5-11, 2017. Enjoy!

Ghosted - "The Machine"
When Max and Leroy investigate a bizarre incident at an elite country club, they both get a little too invested in their covers and find themselves at odds. Annie accompanies them on the mission, as she frequented many country clubs in her youth. Written by Leila Strachan and directed by Kyle Newacheck

It really does seem like Ghosted is successfully making the pivot into becoming a great and consistently funny show. That's such a relief. It was disappointing when the pilot for a show starring Adam Scott and Craig Robinson was just okay. It sailed on their chemistry while mostly just being a premise pilot that didn't quite know what the premise of the show was. And now, the show has more willingness to experiment with its genres and stories. It understands that the episodes succeed when all of the characters are dealing with the same plot. Plus, it's great that it is becoming more of an ensemble-driven show instead of just a showcase for Scott and Robinson. Of course, Scott and Robinson are still the main draws. But Amber Stevens West has been getting some good material to work with over the past few episodes. Meanwhile, Ally Walker and Adeel Akhtar are still some problematic works-in-progress. They are mostly just on the sidelines. It's smart of the show to recognize that Annie would be going out into the field with Max and Leroy. The show really doesn't need to justify that by saying she grew up in country clubs and that makes her an asset in dealing with this latest case. She works well out in the field alongside Max and Leroy. She should spend more time out there. Furthermore, it's great to see Max be awkward when going undercover with this investigation while Leroy is constantly getting the name of the central machine wrong. The climax of this story is predictable in that it once again ends with death so nothing will be an ongoing concern. That is a pattern but it hasn't gotten too annoying yet. It's still perfectly fine here because Max needs to precisely tell Leroy how to actually destroy the machine while the killer is trying to kill him. B+

The Last Man on Earth - "La Abuela"
The gang settles into an old mansion previously owned by an infamous cartel leader. Carol forces Tandy to put down his new toys so they can baby-proof the giant estate. Melissa worries about Todd's physical health. Gail and Erica can't figure out why Dawn won't stop crying. Written by Kira Kalush and directed by David Noel

This show takes some extreme risks in terms of story and tone. It has never wanted to be limited to a simple storytelling structure. It has expanded and evolved over the years. So even when a formula does start to appear, it then does something crazy - like go up to a satellite orbiting the earth or trap someone in an elevator. "La Abuela" is mostly just an expositional episode that establishes the new location the group will be staying in this season. It explains to the audience how this house was owned by a cartel leader who was killed before the virus because of a dispute with another cartel. It's this very tonally different story. And yet, it has immediate concerns in the present-day for the gang. This house has remained empty since La Abuela's death. Years have gone by with no one discovering the bomb that her lieutenant planted somewhere in order to take her out. That's an ominous tease for the future. It sets up an inherently dramatic precedent for the show. Any moment in the next few episodes could be the moment that destroys any sense of peace that the characters have found in Mexico upon escaping nuclear destruction. Any moment could turn deadly. That's thrilling but the show better not go for cheap thrills every time a character explores something new in this mansion. It's effective in this episode because everything is just being established. The show can still be pretty funny - especially when it comes to Carol baby proofing the house, Gail and Erica realizing Dawn is an adrenaline junkie and Melissa being worried about Todd's health. But it's all just setting up that things are no safer here than they were in any of the previous locations for the gang. And that energy comes right before Carol gives birth to her baby. B

The Gifted - "got your siX"
Determined to find out more information behind what Sentinel Services did to an old friend of his, Thunderbird spearheads a mission to get answers. Lauren encounters a new friend with useful powers. Blink makes a big decision regarding her future. Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor and directed by Craig Siebels

This episode is mostly just setup for whatever is about to happen next this season. As such, it's not all that exciting. It shows the type of relationship that Andy and Reed actually have and how Reed is struggling to be a good parent upon knowing that his son is a mutant. Andy continues to go down a dark path in that he doesn't know how to be a part of a team or how to use his powers in a meaningful way. He's still helpful in the field when it comes to stealing the documents for Reed's previous cases. But he's still mostly an annoying teenager. Meanwhile, Caitlin's motivations are constantly shifting for no reason whatsoever. One moment she's trying to start a school for the displaced mutants and is against the way Polaris wants to train the teens. And then, she's just perfectly fine in allowing Lauren to go out into the field to save the mission. It's weird and doesn't make much sense. There's no reason for her to ultimately make that decision that puts more of her family at risk. She's less of a genuine character and more someone who is new to this world who doesn't completely understand the severity of the situation. Meanwhile, Blink's departure from the safe house mostly feels like an excuse to not use her powers as a solution to every problem. It creates complications that the rest of the mutants then have to deal with. Andy, Reed and Eclipse only go into the field like they do because Blink leaves. And so, she's not really a fully formed character either. Her adventures on the road won't be that compelling. The pieces are being moved around at Sentinel Services as well with Jace becoming more demanding and willing to bend the rules to get results. His partnership with Roderick Campbell isn't going to go well. Campbell is the more obvious villain because of whatever he's doing to the mutants. But the show shouldn't shy away from the villainy of Jace either. B-

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Bad Beat"
To track down the infamous arms dealer Dan "Daniel" Valdano, Jake and Terry go undercover at an illegal gambling club, but when Holt gets involved to coach the two in the art of poker, his addiction resurfaces. Boyle buys a food truck that was formerly used in a brutal string of murders without telling his investor, Amy. Hitchcock and Scully challenge Rosa to a "Butt-lympics." Written by Carol Kolb and directed by Kat Coiro

This is the first episode of the season to feature three stories. Those are never my favorite episodes of this show because they typically feel overcrowded with underdeveloped stories. And yet, the absence of Gina still makes it feel like the show is doing better at servicing all of its characters - even in an episode like this. Plus, it's great that the main story that deals with Holt's gambling addiction is so strong. It predictably spirals into a huge problem for him. However, it's still very amusing to watch while also having some real and genuine stakes to it. Plus, the show gets a lot of solid humor in with the depiction of his addiction and just how far he is willing to go in order to fuel it. That scene on the roof of the precinct is full of so many great line readings. And the payoff with what Holt's tell is in poker is very subtle but effective throughout the entire episode. Meanwhile, it's great that the show doesn't suddenly become overwhelmed with wedding planning for Jake and Amy. Yes, it will be an ongoing story for them this season that will eventually build to the actual ceremony. But right now, it's appropriate for it to only encompass the cold open with Jake asking Boyle to be his best man. That's a strong moment as well. Elsewhere, the two subplots are fine. Amy and Boyle going into business together could be an ongoing story as well. At the very least, it could change Amy's perception of Boyle's cooking. Rosa's perception of Hitchcock and Scully could change as well because of the "Butt-lympics" they have. However, that seems more doubtful because Hitchcock and Scully are the reliable punching bags of this show. B+