Tag Archives: 3.07

Masters of Sex 3.07 “Monkey Business” Review: Apeman

24 Aug

The vast number of years Masters of Sex has covered over a three season period and particularly this season does not render it immune from cyclical plot points and “Monkey Business” goes a long way in demonstrating how patchy this season has been. It is disappointing that despite how far these characters have come, they are still falling into certain traps.

Bill is showing off his unpleasant side as he still can’t fathom why his son is so distant (don’t befriend the kid who beat him up for starters) and he unleashes his controlling side all in the guise of helping broken men (and apes) like himself. The gorilla that was introduced at the end of last week’s episode comes into focus this week as Bill and Virginia are asked to help with Gil’s mating issues. What goes from being a flight of fancy and nothing more than a whim for Bill becomes a huge metaphor for all the suffering dudes on this show, but with a strong whiff of manipulation revealing Bill’s competitive and jealous streak.

Whereas Libby Masters, forever on the periphery has been languishing in her own illusions and it is hard to see quite how she will break free without ever leaving Bill. One step towards freedom does take place this week as she acknowledges just how terrible her personal life is; now if she can move forward rather than backsliding as we have seen her do in previous seasons.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Virgina and BillInitially Virginia is the one who champions the gorilla project with Bill scoffing at how ridiculous it is. They later switch positions with Bill linking his own performance problems to both the impotent (and human) Keith to gorilla Gil. With Gil it is all about point scoring and a good anecdote to tell Newsweek magazine if they are successful. Human patient cases can’t be spoken in any detail due to confidentiality and the one which leads to the interview is pure fiction. Isabella and Al were papped on the way out of the clinic and so they have spun this into a good PR story for their broken relationship, but they can use the exposure to showcase their real triumphs. Virginia appeals to Bill’s ego by pointing out how he has a soft spot for “suffering males” and this is a point which Bill uses on her later on by reiterating how much she helped him.

While it could be said that Virginia uses manipulation to get Bill on board the ape plan, Bill certainly runs with it when Dan comes calling with plans for a night out. At this point Bill has no idea Virginia and Dan are sleeping together, but that doesn’t stop him exerting his power in preventing Virginia from going by insisting on the gorilla shenanigans. It would have probably made more sense for his jealousy to kick in if he was aware of their hooking up and instead this just comes across as dick measuring pettiness.

One awkward scene follows another as Virginia ends up flashing her boobs to get Gil in the mood with Bill offering directions out of Gil’s sight. It is all just a little uncomfortable although I should point out that we are not privy to what Gil and Bill can see; the use of nudity on Masters of Sex never feels gratuitous. They are successful in getting Gil to mate, but the victory is hollow for Virginia and she sees it as no more than a fluke. Bill wants to tell all and at dinner he teases their ‘ape’ triumph and instead references the celebrity couple lie that led to this interview in the first place. It is disappointing to see him play with Virginia in this way and even though he is focusing on the broken people they have helped he is so narrow sighted when it comes to those he is closest to.

It is no surprise Virginia turns back to Charming Dan after this dinner and despite Bill’s assertion last week that certain people are slipping away I don’t think he realizes just how isolated he might become; his son despises him, Libby is starting to come to terms with her situation and Virginia has a new ape man.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Dan and VirginiaI really wish I could say this is Josh Charles wearing a mohair sweater and not a gorilla suit.

The man who spoke about love in such a powerful and meaningful way is still there and Bill does want to help the broken and in need; however he is also a controlling asshole who likes to bask in his success. It is a credit to Michael Sheen’s exceptional performance that he is still so watchable and sympathetic even when the story doesn’t support this.

Impotence has affected several characters on Masters of Sex with Lester suffering from the condition last season after a very bad break up from Jane. During the several time jumps Lester has got back together with his former gf and had children with her; it was only after overhearing Virginia and Bill discussing her husband that Jane found out about his issue.

#In a roundabout way the original ‘important work’ ethos of the study is utilized to make Lester see why Jane wants to be the surrogate in helping her friend and while I love spending time with these characters (especially with Jane in signature yellow) it all comes across as slightly tenuous.

Meanwhile, Tessa is chatting to Dan about her mother’s extracurricular activities with Bill while never revealing who she is. That is until Virginia introduces them and causes Dan to squint in confusion. Does her believe her more now he knows she most likely has insider info or does he read their interactions as spiteful lies? When really it is a mixture of the two.

Every week I have been lamenting about the lack of Betty besides her fabulous costuming and amazing advice; the return of Helen prompts her own subplot and yet this is also on the dissatisfying scale because it all revolves around getting pregnant. Seeing Annaleigh Ashford and Sarah Silverman bouncing off each other is always a treat, but I wish there was a way to feature them without resorting to biological clocks. We already know Betty can’t have children so it is Helen with all the bunny infested dreams and how do you find a surrogate in the 1960s? Tap up Dr Austin Langham that’s how.

The fabulous Betty costuming continues in her late night adventure with paisley prints and silk head band (which is making me reach for this one again) coupled with Helen’s leopard print delight.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Betty and HelenBetty did also get to hold my favorite props from “Monkey Business” (no not the artificial insemination equipment) and old magazines whether mock ups or real hold an instant appeal to this magazine aficionado.

First up Betty’s face while showing the Isabella Ricci Newsweek article (and accompanying fake Lord Harry ad which made an appearance in season 1 – would a company really use the same copy work for 10 years?)

Masters of Sex 3.07 NewsweekAnd then I fell down a Google image black hole looking at Photoplay covers and this plays right into my recent You Must Remember This inspired interest in 1960s (and all those earlier decades) Hollywood.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Photoplay magazineThis season is far from a disaster and there is still plenty to enjoy as the performances are always solid even if the storytelling has been on the bumpy side. They just need to get out of some of the character ruts and show progress beyond the work of Masters and Johnson.

The Americans 3.07 “Walter Taffet” Review: “They Don’t Have a Lot of Choices”

12 Mar

Philip and Elizabeth have been embroiled in a Paige related dance all season so when Elizabeth went ahead and started taking baby steps in pointing their daughter toward who they really are it was never going to go over well with Philip. It is impressive how compelling this story remains considering The Americans has essentially barely budged or moved forward with the Paige problem all season and much like the actual Cold War they are playing with a precarious situation that could tip at any moment; the nuclear issue here is related to the family rather than grand scheme ideology or weapons. Tension continues to build with neither side backing down.

At its heart it is about what a parent wants to do for their child and how they can navigate their differences. So Philip can talk to Stan about this in the broadest of terms describing how he is on opposing side of everything when it comes to parenting decisions with Elizabeth; Stan counters that they are in a better place than him and at this point Philip doesn’t look so sure. Everything is stacking up and some of it is about to come crashing down.

The Americans Walter TaffetFor most relationships admitting you have a child by someone else might cause the already present gulf to grow ever more, in this household it might actually result in bringing them closer together. The Jennings still engage in some very standard arguments resulting from feelings of resentment like who left the empty bottle of aspirin in the medicine cabinet or having the most passive aggressive discussion while getting ready in the morning* and like most relationships trust is a fundamental factor.

*Quick side note regarding some of the nudity on The Americans as it is rare to get such a realistic approach with the naked body that doesn’t lead to or at least hint at sexuality. Here Elizabeth and Philip are essentially having a work related chat as one is getting in the shower while the other is getting out, which of course means the removal of clothes. Oh and they are both mad at each other, also taking any potential sexy business away.

Semantics come into play as when Philip confronts Elizabeth about her Paige field trip and Gregory related revelations she claims that at no point did she lie to Philip, as she had already informed him of her plan to move forward. This is a grey area and she knows it as later on in the middle of the night when Philip gets in from a Martha visit she draws him into her saying “I should have told you about my talk with Paige.” It is not a straight forward apology, but still an admission that he has a right to know. The Philip/Elizabeth confession hour is at its strongest when Philip comes in from whatever asset he has been working and in tiredness it is when they are both at their most emotionally vulnerable state. There is no need for the weed soaked moments of honesty and as he reaches out to Elizabeth to see how awake she is by touching her hair she pulls him into an embrace; earlier on in the evening he pretty much booted her out of the car so he could go to Martha’s and now we’re back at this point of unity.

Despite these huge differences and the distance that lies between how they want to move forward there is still a thread holding them together. Each time they dig a little deeper into how they feel or revealing something about themselves it reinforces this bond. So Philip’s “I have another son” isn’t the devastating confession it might be under other circumstances – particularly as Irene was the breaking up factor in season 1 – and instead leads to more sympathy from Elizabeth towards her husband as she turns to face him in bed. Earlier on she has been talking about Ncgobo waxing lyrical about his stance on getting his children involved in his cause. Philip’s counter is all about choice; Ncgobo and his family are lacking the many choices Paige and Henry have, but what about Mischa Jr? He is involved in the fight in Afghanistan and even though Philip has only just had his existence confirmed – I am still a tiny bit suspicious that Mischa Jr is not real – it gives him a deeply personal connection to this war they are fighting. It is why we see him listening to the news reports on the radio in the laundry room at the start of the episode whereas before he would have openly listened in their bedroom.

Everything is fractured and yet it still doesn’t stop them from performing when called upon so even though they are in a huge fight they are more than capable of playing the roles of super flirty, happy new couple at dinner with Lisa. In the car before and after it is just as icy as the weather. All those years of not actually being in love and faking it really pays off when they are in love and pissed at each other. To escape the bad atmosphere at home Philip goes to Martha’s leaving things in this perpetual state of unresolved tension with Elizabeth, so he kind of deserves the super cold welcome when gets over to his other wife’s apartment.

The Americans 3.07The bug in Gad’s office has been found and Martha reacted as if it had fallen out in front of her. Making a quick exit to go to the bathroom to pull apart the recording device in her bag, she barely held her shit together alternating between teary panic and “I’m going to throw up” panic in equal amounts. Martha’s poker face is pretty terrible; however she manages to escape suspicion at this current point. Will she be able to keep this up in an interview situation?

One thing working in Martha’s favor is that despite her access there is also a certain level of invisibility, which is why going after secretaries makes sense. It is worrying for Philip that instead of letting Clark in on what happened at work she instead does her own mini investigation on him insisting they go over to his place for the first time (lucky his apartment is nice and ready) and not falling for his usual romantic tactics. It is ominous that Martha’s gun makes an appearance and this week Poor Martha takes her crown back from Poor Kimmy. Allison Wright is incredible in her bathroom stall meltdown and with how plays Martha’s new found mistrust of what Clark is asking of her. He passes all the tests with his apartment, but still something is off.

The Americans 3.07 PaigeOne running theme in “Walter Taffet” comes with the offer of takeout food as a peace offering that fails in every instance; Martha is not interested, Paige has already eaten and Henry is out. Takeout is convenient and a luxury, the only person who’s up for sharing with Philip is Stan – considering the horror show combo of toppings I find it hard anyone would want that pizza – and Stan’s kitchen is stocked with a random assortment of not much. Philip has downplayed his activism instead pointing out how other things became important to him and at this point his gesture of pizza in an attempt to be cool dad fails. In a surprising turn and over a nothing special food prep Stan has better luck at engaging with his son Matthew as he talks about his colleague and friend who died last week as they worked undercover with each other; this is the first time Matthew has seemed genuinely in awe of his father and it is a result of hearing about his work. Food wins in the making an impression stakes at dinner with Lisa when Philip as Jack sells his worth by talking about how much he loves exotic cuisine like sushi.

Stan isn’t much of a sharer but he does so with both Philip and Matthew to a degree revealing to Stan that he has some concerns about his overeager colleague; maybe some of his undercover work rubbed off on him as he mentions Agent Aderholt’s race even though that isn’t really pertinent to the story.

The big mission of the week comes as a result of the intel Hans got and it’s his first time out in the field. Elizabeth is concerned that she hasn’t had enough time with him and when we see him shaking an inhaler I am storing that for things that will probably be important later on. Hans has scored big on his suspicions and he corrects Elizabeth when she thinks Todd has been got to when he was impressionable; this isn’t the case as he is just a “miniature copy” of his privileged and self-centered parents. Once again there is this nod to parents and children following on from the example they have been taught. When Elizabeth talks to Ncgobo he references biting as form of discipline and how Americans don’t discipline like this. Elizabeth is quick to note that she isn’t American and the kitchen cleaning in the middle of the night for Paige last season is perhaps the strongest indicator of this, but still she is constrained by her cover and they don’t know the “badass woman their mum is.”

Playing against the odds is how they operate and nothing is easy on The Americans as kinks tend to happen in any plan. Venter is unsurprisingly tough when Philip grabs him and a scuffle breaks out; Philip has the advantage using the van he knows is coming to incapacitate him and they have their man. That isn’t before Elizabeth has dispatched of an eyewitness in typically cold fashion – remember she did drop a car on a dude’s head a few episodes ago – and now for the next stage of the plan. At first I thought she must be involved somehow, but nope I think Elizabeth was just cleaning up the scene. The kill count now stands at Elizabeth with two and Philip on zero. There are so many angles being worked at the moment and it is a concern that Philip thinks Martha’s cold mood is to with kids rather than everything else he is asking from her. This is the kind of thing Gabriel warned against and even though we didn’t see Kimmy this week that mission is looming over them. Cracks are beginning to form and as we have already seen with Martha something is going to give and it is going to be soon.

Shot of the Week

The Americans 3.07 shot of the weekStan himself, Noah Emmerich directed this week’s episode adding flourishes from the get go as we start outside the house with Philip listening to the news and the camera pans up the house. Just before we kick into the opening credits – I see you hula hooping girl also from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – the scene ends outside once again with Philip and Elizabeth embroiled in another standoff. It is an amazing shot and Emmerich delivers throughout including the way he films Martha’s bathroom meltdown spiraling, the way the bug lands on the desk and the Fleetwood Mac infused action sequence rounding out the episode.

Disguise of the Week

The Americans 3.07 date nightElizabeth wore her best ever wig this week. No it isn’t the Michelle, but the one at the top of the review but I have a feeling the ‘Nancy’ will be on display next week so in the meantime it is time to talk about another blonde with Philip rocking this curly look as charming Jack. Very into Elizabeth’s gold top showing off Michelle’s new found glitzy style.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.07 ElizabethSnow! And Elizabeth’s coat/scarf combo is pretty neutral in knowing what decade it is from. Only the widelegged burgundy pants (which I suspect are velvet) and boots suggest a different period. This is Elizabeth essentially in her travel agency threads and I am impressed she’s not falling over in these heels in this weather. She really is a badass.


New Girl 3.07 Review: Time to Grow Up

6 Nov

Coach is back and after a three year absence things have changed for all of the characters on New Girl. For starters they are no longer in their 20s – they very barely in their 20s when we first met them – and their priorities have changed. When you catch up with an old friend it can be easy to slip into an old routine and even though Coach only appeared in the pilot none of these scenes feel forced; this even applies to Winston who has never shared a scene with Coach.

NG_307-3_0365The return of Coach gives these characters an opportunity to join him in that big house of denial. Schmidt moved out and into the apartment across the hall in the last episode, but he’s still dropping by whenever he wants to steal toothpaste and so it doesn’t feel like he has gone at all. His decision to move out was a reactionary move to all the shit that has happened and unsurprisingly he’s still not happy. Coach provides a distraction so Schmidt doesn’t have to think about that stuff, nor does Schmidt have to spend the night in his apartment alone as he can ask Coach to crash with him – maybe he will take a room here?

With Nick it isn’t that he is unhappy, quite the opposite but he’s still having manchild reactions to relationship discussions. Jess isn’t all that comfortable with Nick going to the strip club, a point that she raises in a rational and adult way. What follows is Nick and his ability to dig himself a giant hole as he claims they haven’t had the relationship status talk. This is ridiculous as it’s clear this is more than just a friends with benefits situation and Nick knows that everything that is coming out of his mouth is crazy talk – choice example “I’m just telling her what kind of cake to bake me, son” – but he can’t stop himself because Coach is there and he wants to hang out with his old friend.

Sitcoms love a good misunderstanding and situations that get out of hand fast; the guys at a strip club with Jess going out with an embittered Cece is the perfect formula for this kind of scenario. Cece is understandably cynical about relationships at the moment and she plays the role of mischief maker as she calls Artie (the ridiculously handsome Taye Diggs) to the bar to get his flirt on with Jess. As the Temple Grandin’s (a drink that makes Jess friendly and compassionate) flow and Nick doesn’t know which part of the phone is the microphone the stakes are raised, these are alcohol fueled stakes so anything could happen. Cece realizes that Jess and Nick’s situation is very different from her own and she’s been projecting her own Schmidt related anger onto Jess.

Nick’s main crime is that he couldn’t call Jess his girlfriend in front of Coach, which even by Nick standards of not being able to acknowledge feelings is high on the list of dumb things he has done. The other aspects like his inability to have a day/life plan and leaving himself “Put on pants?” notes (A+ delivery on this line from Zooey Deschanel) just add to Jess’ frustration. Jess is also playing the getting wasted on a Tuesday game (it’s ok the kids are going to watch a movie at school tomorrow) and so it’s not just the guys who are making bad life choices. The list of terrible things that Nick does quickly turns into a Nick is a really, really great kisser list (an excellent reason to link to this) and the revenge plan of really hot conversation time gets thrown out of the window.

Not so fast as Taye Diggs is naked in Jess’ bed and even throws imaginary water at her, as the only sober one in this episode that move is pretty cringe. It also leads to the best Cece delivery of the night with “Men are such dicks.” Even though they’ve been able to say dick on network TV for a couple of years now, it still surprises me when they do.

It’s already occurred to Nick by this point that he needs to go home as they’re all too old for these kinds of shenanigans. This all started because Coach wanted to celebrate being single but he’s actually miserable and brokenhearted; he’s using the strippers and guys night to fill this void. The talk of growing up comes in the middle of a very halfhearted slap fight and there’s a lot of truth spoken among all the nonsense – this being Schmidt’s very terrible interpretation of Raiders of the Lost Ark, or what he believes to be a Nazi propaganda movie – deep and meaningful drunk conversations always contain the fuzziest of logic.

The Nick/Jess relationship hasn’t taken the steps of a usual rom-com relationship even if it has followed the classic “will they/won’t they” and New Girl has been playing with this convention. The big factor here is that they already live together so having the “terminology” talk is already an odd one to broach. So when Nick casually throws in the word girlfriend it’s an organic moment, but it also really means something to Jess. Yes this is a guy who leaves himself a note questioning whether to wear pants (confession sometimes I add “shower” on my ‘to do’ list just to have something extra to tick off) but he also gives Jess the opportunity to explain why there is a naked hot guy in her bed.

Like many, Friends is the sitcom I grew up with and so I have a tendency to think of something like New Girl in relation to this show and with the “will they/won’t they” Ross and Rachel are my prime example. One of the things that made Ross and Rachel hard to root for at times was Ross’ jealousy and the whole Mark of it all; this was meant to be a sitcomy obstacle instead it made Ross insufferable. What I’m trying to say is that Nick and Jess do end up dealing with this head on and even though Nick’s right hook to Artie is pretty much fueled by jealousy, Nick and Jess are on the same side and this is what Friends lacked at times with Ross and Rachel.

Coming back to Coach and while it’s unclear whether New Girl will pull a Mindy Project and make him a regular; it feels like he is part of this friendship group even if things have changed since they last hung out. There is some banter with Winston with the not so kind nickname of “Shrimp Forks” that Winston pulls him up on later. There’s a competitive edge with all of the guys as they’re all trying to prove that they’ve still got it and Winston ends up suffering the most financially thanks to misunderstanding the rules of Bunny Money, but hey that’s enough for takeout and clothing funds at the V Rab (yeah I won’t call it that again) for a good month.

Julie Hammerle

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