US TV

Mini-reviews: Big Sky and The Flight Attendant

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.

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US TV

Review: B Positive 1×1 (US: CBS All Access)

In the US: Thursdays, 8.30pm, CBS All Access

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.

Positively bad

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.

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TMINE

Oh God no, not another lockdown. And what does it mean for TMINE?

Hi all. I’m back from my holiday. Woo hoo! Everyone notice something, though? Yep, no news this morning.

Basically, for a number of COVIDy reasons and with a heavy heart, I’ve decided to both discontinue it and scale back TMINE itself as well – at least for now.

Let me explain why. I hope you’ll understand

Firstly, I’m really not getting any younger. I’ve tried using Inversion Technology from the future, but that didn’t work, so my arrow of time is still going forward. So I do need to look after my health, and with gyms closing and me now continuously working from home, I don’t commute past any gyms (or anything) any more.

Somehow I have to find time during the day to exercise and the only time I can think of, short of getting up at 5am every day and screwing up that whole work-life balance thing, is the time I usually spend doing the TMINE news.

Secondly, lockdown has actually made me busier than ever. I’m doing more and more work for longer and longer hours, which leaves less time to do TMINE. And that’s the stuff that pays the bill, whereas TMINE has always been a labour of love. I’m going to have to prioritise that.

Thirdly, cinemas are shutting again and the streaming services are running out of new movies, so there’s less for me to review. Ditto for the TV networks and TV itself.

And lastly, I have less time to watch TV and movies, since again, I’ve not got two hours of commute time every day any more. And as we found during the previous lockdown, it’s actually damn hard to focus on new things, rather than on comfort food viewing.

So what next?

All of which adds up to… something. At the very least, no potted news summary every day. Which is sad because I’ve been doing it for about a decade – in fact for so long, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do it or even when I actually started doing it. But it is what it is.

As for everything else, I’m going to try to keep doing something. I might end up doing a semi-daily Covideodrome and turn TMINE into a film review blog, based on films that are already out there. I might turn ‘what have you been watching?’ into just that: what have you been watching.

I hope to continue the events coverage – assuming there are any events to cover – as well as What Time, TMINE? I might even simply post news to TMINE’s Facebook page as I get it, rather than trying to sum it up every morning. Then there’ll still be a TMINE news service.

It’s all a bit nebulous and up in the air. And who knows? I might end up with oodles of time and new things to review if the entire economy implodes. These are unprecedented times, so who can predict what’s going to happen or work out what the new normal is going to be?

But TMINE will continue in some form or other. I just hope it’s a journey that you’ll all want to go on with me – or that you’ll be back for more once we can get our COVID vaccinations with our daily Starbucks.

Airdates

What time, TMINE? Including Bridgerton and Trackers

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest TV shows from around the world will air in the UK

What time, TMINE? is taking a break for Half Term next week, you’ll be sad to hear. You’ll probably be even sadder to hear that there’s been no acquisitions this week and only a couple of premiere dates announced. Ah well.

But that’s still something! So details of when and where you can see Trackers and Bridgerton after the jump.

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