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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Good Place, Arrow, and a Feminist UFO Cult

February 4th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Ken is on assignment.

The Pinnacle

The Good Place Season 4 (Television, US, NBC, Mike Schur, 2019-2020) Challenged to improve the afterlife by guiding a fresh quartet of souls, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and Michael (Ted Danson) discover that spotting the flaws in a system is easier than building one that works. The proof of a finale season is in the last episode, and the kicker here, a sweet and melancholy meditation on how happiness might itself be the saddest thing, concludes a remarkable series with understated brilliance.—RDL

Recommended

Arrow Season 7 (Television, US, CW, Beth Schwartz, 2019-2020) Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) says goodbye to old friends as he struggles for and against the Monitor, a cosmic entity guiding his sacrificial fate in an upcoming battle for the multiverse. It’s rare to see any season, let alone a final one, set so many hurdles for itself: welding a cosmic plotline to the show’s crime/spy baseline, putting its climactic moments in a multi-show crossover, weaving in a backdoor pilot for a spinoff, and papering over the absence of the series’ heart, Emily Bett Rickards. Yet if, as someone just said above, the proof is in the payoff, this always shaggy show in the end reaches for and once more captures the spandex-clad high emotion that made its key moments.—RDL

New Eden (Television, Canada, Kayla Lorette, Evany Rosen & Alyesa Young, Crave, 2020) In a bid to keep their 80s feminist commune together, the uptight and needy Katherine (Lorette) and charismatic codependent (Rosen), transform it into a UFO cult, which only accelerates its doom spiral. In keeping with hallowed Canadian tradition, this true crime mockumentary uses a playing style rooted in sketch comedy to plumb the depths of human desperation.—RDL

San Babila-8 P.M. (Film, Italy, Carlo Lizzani, 1976) A twelve hour period of trouble-seeking for a quartet of variously neurotic neofascist youths escalates from vandalism to serious bloodshed. Tense crime docudrama foregrounds the misogyny that unites its grandiose loser protagonists.—RDL

The Two Popes (Film, UK/Italy, Fernando Meirelles, 2019) In a debate bookended by two papal conclaves, conservative Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) rebuffs the attempts of Argentinean reformist cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) to renounce his post. Meirelles pulls out the full playbook of cinematic technique to bring wit, energy and warmth to a two-hander revolving around theological debate.—RDL

Good

The Bounty Hunter (Film, US, Andre de Toth, 1954) Acerbic bounty hunter (Randolph Scott) sets a booming copper mining town on edge with his hunt for stagecoach robbers even the Pinkertons can’t catch. I enjoyed this soothingly routine Western more than I can objectively argue for, chiefly for the pleasure of seeing Scott play a hardboiled private dick in a Stetston. Watch him solve the case using the GUMSHOE abilities Intimidation, Bullshit Detector, Flattery, Reassurance (a spend), Evidence Collection, and Interrogation.—RDL

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