The Walking Dead – B
One week after we first meet the long-awaited Saviors — most of whom were instantly killed by new-convert-to-brutality Glenn — we are treated to the first fully realized Savior characters. The leader of this Savior offshoot is Paula, an empathy-lacking ex-secretary played with a perfect level of emotionless vigor by Alicia Witt. Most of the episode consists of an abandoned warehouse game of cat-and-mouse between Paula and a possum-like Carol, who — clutching a rosary — embraces her Season One persona of shrinking violet. How much of it is posturing, as opposed to actual mental breakdown, is blurry, but as it’s Carol defending Maggie, it’s safe to say that she will boil over at some point. That a fetus-protecting Maggie needs zero aid is immaterial, although her sheer viciousness as she implores Carol to kill multiple times is a bit Walking Dead at its sensibility-numbing worst. It’s an amazing Carol episode featuring some superb guest villain turns, not to mention an intriguing deeper dive into the hazier and hazier view of just which group can lay claim to the title “good guys.” Spoiler alert: probably nobody. However, ultimately it falls a little flat — perhaps its simply a touch of sixth season predictability and fatigue following on the heels of a slough of intense and brilliant episodes.
The Simpsons – C
Meh. In another episode the felt phoned in, Homer’s short-lived adventures as a chicken farmer improbably led Lisa to signing up for a Mars mission, to happen in a decade. Marge is opposed, and after much bickering, only the two of them are stable and qualified for the mission. Watching Lisa and Marge at each other’s throats has never been so dispirited or blah. It felt like a spec script written by someone’s mom…who’s never seen
The Simpsons before. A full episode about Homer and Bart as chicken farmers would have been a better idea, and I’m sorry that didn’t pan out.
The Carmichael Show – A
In the season premiere, Jerrod has free (HA!) tickets to see Bill Cosby, but can’t get his girlfriend to go, because Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. Joe doesn’t mind, but Cecile is torn. This all leads to a funny, insightful conversation about the artist vs. the man, examining Chic-fil-A, Woody Allen, Chris Brown, James Brown, Bobby Brown, and Michael Jackson. Ultimately, Jerrod goes to the show alone, and has to decide where to draw the line when it comes to patronage.
In the night’s second episode, Joe learns that his father is dead, and the family proceeds with planning a heartbreaking funeral, though Jerrod thinks Joe is wasting his time on the man who abandoned his family. When Joe struggles to write the eulogy, Jerrod learns that his father didn’t just abandon his family, he beat them too. This is a struggle many people privately struggle with, and “The Carmichael Show” managed to bring a humor to the notion that we’re not all born into a tidy sitcom environment. Ultimately Joe bails on the funeral, choosing to spend the day with his mother (a wise choice) and Cecile still gets to bring down the house with a creative rendition of “Ave Maria.”