This week’s What’s Alan Watching? newsletter coming up just as soon as I find you visually aggravating…
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I’m afraid the newsletter is going to be pretty short this week, as life has gotten in the way of work at the moment. So as my pal James Poniewozik used to say, let’s go straight to the hail of bullets:
In case you missed it, Substack just launched its own Twitter rival, Substack Notes. I’m writing on there, albeit not as much as I would in a less-hectic time. But given the increasing rot of the bird site, I imagine I’ll be doing a lot more there soon.
Succession stunned the hell out of everyone this week, not with what happened, but when and how it happened, and also with how deeply felt all of it was, despite the monstrous ridiculousness of the characters involved. Here’s my recap of an utterly incredible episode.
Before the season began, I put in requests to interview a few Succession actors, including Sarah Snook, with the understanding that we would figure out which episode each interview would be tied to. As soon as I saw the Shiv phone call scene, I knew this would be Snook’s week. Some actors can be great at their craft but bad at talking about said craft. Fortunately, Snook is great at both.
You already know that I wrote a big making-of feature on Netflix’s incredible Beef, as well as a separate Steven Yeun Q&A. Even after all of that, I had some leftover, spoiler-heavy quotes from creator Lee Sung Jin — including why he doesn’t necessarily view this as a limited series — along with a funny detail from Ali Wong, so I put those into a story to be read after you’ve watched the whole season.
Barry is back this Sunday (with a pair of episodes) for its fourth and final season. Here’s my review, based on every episode but the series finale. The plan is for me to recap the final season — not recapping Season Three was my biggest professional regret of last year — though we may have to skip to the third episode, depending on how my week continues to go.
I didn’t write about this week’s Mandalorian due to… you know. With one episode to go, such a strange season. Parts have been a lot of fun, while others feel like Favreau and Filoni are trying to squeeze way too much into eight episodes, leaving Din and Grogu feeling like bystanders in their own series, not unlike what happened to Boba Fett near the end of his own show.
A couple of returning shows I hoped to review this week but wasn’t able to: Single Drunk Female on Freeform, which remains super charming and has a strong comic lead performance by Sofia Black-D’Elia; and Blindspotting on Starz, which I reviewed back in 2021. I’ve seen the full Single Drunk Season Two, and none of Blindspotting Season Two. What can you do?
That’s it for this week. Hoping to have a much longer one for y’all to read next Friday, but no promises.
Beef was really good. The characterizations and the propulsive storytelling reminded me a lot of Vince Gilligan's work. Amy and Danny are, to me, both different combinations of equal portions of the best and worst aspects of Walt and Jesse, and their platonic relationship ends up having elements of that classic combo. (sorta spoiler here) The Beef finale reminded me a lot of The Fly in how it all came together, really great finale to a solid season. I was ambivalent about more future eps until I finished the season, and now I'm on board.
The Mandalorian was a much better show when it was about *ONE* Mandalorian. It wasn't a bad episode really, but it's hard enough to make a good show with one faceless main character, its much harder to make a good show featuring scores of faceless characters. Mando S3 is where the Star War fascination with helmeted characters has reached its nadir.
Ended up binging Single Drunk Female s2 literally without stopping last night. Very cool season, about on par with the first. Loved a certain actress showing up as the new sponsor, and Ally Sheedy got some fantastic material. I’ll try and find the time to rewatch Blindspotting s1 before starting the second.
Barry is so incredible and that and Succession airing on the same night is a line-up most networks can barely dream of. And when they add Somebody Somewhere next week? Forget it.