It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
Previously on TMINE
Lockdown 3.0 occurred, that’s what happened.
Now on TMINE
Happy New Year! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? TBH, I’m still not feeling the TV buzz. Or even seeing much new TV or movies. I’m also still ridiculously busy, which given January is normally my quietest month work-wise is insane.
But… I’m not not watching things, you know? And I do have some time occasionally to write something.
So TMINE ain’t going back to normal any time soon. But I am going to at least try to do one of these every Monday or Tuesday.
This is predominantly going to be What Have You Been Watching? – a chance for you to let everyone know if you’ve found some gems out there to while away the quarantine. I haven’t really got the time or energy for full reviews of things, but I am also going to talk a little about what I have been watching – both film- and TV-wise – so I can at least flag things up.
After the jump then, what I’ve been watching, since I have seen some new things at least since last we spoke: Netflix’s Lupin, Disney+’s WandaVision and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Regular readers will have gathered by now that things haven’t really picked up for me in terms of availability, workload or actual ability to watch new TV. But I’m still here, don’t worry, and I reckon I can at least stretch to a mini-review or two now and then…
…Like now. So after the jump, we can talk about two new US shows: Big Sky and The Flight Attendant. See you in a mo.
Producer Chuck Lorre has pretty much all of CBS’s comedy output sewn up – and has done so for decades now. Name a CBS sitcom, past or present, and it’s almost certain you’ll name a Chuck Lorre sitcom – The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly, Mom, Young Sheldon, Two and a Half Men et al. Now he’s turning his eyes to owning the CBS Internet as well, with B Positive his first CBS All Access show.
While created by industry stalwart Marco Pennette (Kate & Allie, Caroline and the City) rather than Lorre himself, B Positive is both a very traditional multi-cam sitcom and a very traditional Lorre sitcom. Lorre may have branched out into gentler shows of late, but B Positive is a big chunk of old school misanthropy, dressed up in a slightly gentler outer coat.
The basic plot of B Positive is pretty contrived, even by sitcom standards. Newly divorced dad Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) learns that he’s suffering renal failure and is prepared to say his goodbyes to his daughter and estranged wife Sara Rue (Impastor) as he can’t find a suitable B+ kidney donor.
Then he happens to be at a wedding where one of the bridesmaids (Masters of Sex‘s Annaleigh Ashford) turns out to have gone to high school with him. He reveals all – and she spontaneously agrees to give him one of her kidneys. Trouble is, not only is she a massive substance abuser, she also suffers from a mild case of multiple personality disorder – and so doesn’t remember what her other self promised him.
B Positive largely squanders Lorre’s work on Mom in giving nuance to substance abusers, by making Ashford and her party girl alternative personality a “track wreck”. There’s very much a “Women: Know Your Limits” quality to the show. Her regular personality isn’t that much better, although she is surprisingly a driver for elderly people at a care home and does offer separately to give Middleditch her kidney.
Meanwhile, Middlemitch is largely reprising his Silicon Valley role, just with perhaps a little more gumption and a little less anxiety, making him the king of the milquetoasts brought out of his shell by Manic Pixie Dream Girl Ashford.
It’s all very unedifying stuff that has an occasionally good gag, but not enough for sustained viewing.
On the B Positive bus
So why am I even contemplating watching even one more second of this, given how substandard the first episode was? One simple reason: I’ve seen the supporting cast list for the rest of the series, most of whom aren’t in this first episode.
Top of the list is Briga Heelan (Ground Floor, Great News), who’s a fine comedy actress, but there’s also Linda Lavin (Alice) as a gay resident of the old person’s home and Bernie Kopell (Get Smart, The Love Boat) as another resident.
I don’t know if even they will be enough to win me over and overcome the scripts. But they’re enough to make me want to give it a try at least.
Someone has done some ‘research’ and put together an infographic, mainly in an effort to promote (checks notes) beds, that looks at what the most binge-worthy shows on Netflix were during Lockdown 1.0.
And there’s a map. It looked kind of interesting and took minimal effort on my part, anyway.