I Feel Bad brings a distinctly female voice to issues-based comedy

B

The #MeToo movement is still going strong, historic numbers of women are up for election this fall (and voting and protesting across the country), and between Crazy Rich Asians and Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, the stereotypically “female” genre of the rom-com is back with a vengeance. American pop…

Even with a lot on its mind, the TV adaptation of The Purge is mostly bloody good fun

B

Over the course of four movies, the alternate reality of the Purge has slowly taken shape: a dystopian America in which, for one night of the year, all crime is legal. It’s an appropriately blunt political allegory for our own time—which often reads like satire itself— making the Purge arguably the most relevant…

Netflix’s The Innocents weaves a sci-fi mystery through the story of young love and discovery

B

A lot of the buzz surrounding Netflix’s latest TV original, The Innocents, seems focused on comparing the show to Stranger Things. From a corporate perspective the comparison is smart. It’s a straightforward way to reel in an audience that might otherwise shy away from genre shows with sci-fi influences. Outside that…

Jack Ryan nails the globe-trotting thrills, but struggles with its leading man

B-

While the Bond franchise hunts for a new director (and maybe even Daniel Craig’s successor), Amazon is hoping to move from niche programming to blockbuster productions with the help of a different household name. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, from Lost alums Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland, presents the fifth screen…

Amazon’s Ordeal By Innocence is a gloriously trashy take on an Agatha Christie classic

B

For all her gifts as a master of the modern detective novel, Agatha Christie was never terribly comfortable with the insides of the human head. In Christie Land—that glorious old world realm of murder, righteous neighborhood busybodies, and fastidious little Belgians—the motives for killing are rarely complicated. If…

An excellent cast rescues fantasy parody Disenchantment from mediocrity

B-

Having already sent up the nuclear family and science fiction, Matt Groening turns his eye to medieval times for his first Netflix series, Disenchantment. The Simpsons and Futurama creator reunites with Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley for this fantasy parody, which could be described as “Game Of Thrones as recapped by…

The animated Marvel Rising: Initiation may be for kids, but its heroes contain grown-up potential

B-

When Marvel first announced Marvel Rising, its new foray into animation, it looked to deliver something largely missing from the big-screen MCU: a focus on the comic publisher’s younger crop of heroes, especially the women and people of color mostly relegated to sidekick status when it comes to the live-action films.…

Better Call Saul hits new heights by finding the chemistry in grief

A-

Charles “Chuck” L. McGill, Jr., Esq. is dead. There’s no use in eulogizing him here, not when Better Call Saul devotes most of its fourth-season premiere to that act, while also rattling off a touching newspaper obituary. But some acknowledgment is in order: This is a loss for the characters, and it’s a loss for the…

The second installment of USA's beguiling The Sinner might be even better than the first

B+

It features fractured, elliptical storytelling. There’s none of the usual question of “whodunit” in the murder mystery that serves as the main plot. And it bucks some of the standard conventions of style and aesthetic in cable mystery dramas, thanks to the bolder choices of arthouse provocateur Antonio Campos (…

Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman give crafting the Great British Bake-Off treatment

B+

Although it’s not the return trip to Pawnee that viewers have been yearning for, Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman’s new reality competition series, Making It, positively brims with the goodheartedness of their previous NBC collaboration, Parks And Recreation. The erstwhile Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson host this spirited…

UnREAL’s final season falls to new depths of depravity

D

There’s a moment in UnREAL’s fourth and final season when Faith—the friendly country girl who came out as a lesbian in season one—shows up and is shocked at how the state of affairs has worsened on the set of Everlasting. Keep in mind: On Faith’s season of the dating competition, a woman fell to her death. At first,…

Come Inside My Mind is an inviting, uneven look at the unseen Robin Williams

B-

It’s 1978, and Robin Williams is one month into his Mork & Mindy tenure and most of the way through his episode of HBO’s On Location. His set has been a ferocious demonstration of the quick wit and willingness to go for a laugh that, in the brief time he’s been in Los Angeles, have already caught the eye of George…

Castle Rock’s got plenty of Stephen King references, little of his storytelling chops

C+

It’s bizarre but totally appropriate in our postmodern, reference-happy age to see a phenomenon like Stranger Things echo its influences. The feedback loop began with the 2016 debut of the supernatural Netflix series, when much was made of the debts its free-roaming preteen outcasts and their telekinetic friend owed…

Sharp Objects is a gripping rumination on who perpetrates—and perpetuates—violence

B+

Nothing proves the summer TV landscape has shifted quite like debuting some Emmy bait in the wake of Independence Day. And Sharp Objects, the HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name, proves itself an early contender for next year’s awards. Showrunner Marti Noxon deftly interprets and…

Luke Cage is the first Marvel show to top its first season

B+

Like its lead character, Marvel’s Luke Cage is aware of the upward climb it’s facing in season two. Luke (Mike Colter) cleared his name in Defenders, but when the new episodes begin, he’s wrestling with his newfound fame and obligations, the return of his estranged father (the late, great Reg E. Cathey), and, oh yeah,…