Over in the "TV Shows I Am Binging" thread, I noted that I got hooked on This Is Us, which led to a quick discussion over the show's merits and a pledge to talk about the latest episode. We threw out the idea of having that conversation in the "What Are You Watching Right Now?" thread, but I decided to start one dedicated to the show. Although I titled it "Season 4," I'm not going to limit my observations to that season alone,

So far, it's just been me and Jeff, but I welcome anyone else to join in -- especially Tracy! We've seen too little of you here in the Comics Cave!

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Jeff of Earth-J said:

FEB 23: This episode should have been titled "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." Kudos to casting and make-up for the future versions of Deja, Tess and Annie. Nailed it! 

Oh, man, the casting people deserve all the Emmy awards! I looked at Future Deja and wondered if they somehow got their hands on Doctor Doom's time machine! 

By the way, this episode was directed by Jon Huertas, who plays Miguel. TVLine tells us that he's wanted to try his hand at directing, but chose not to do an episode in which Miguel figured in the story, so he wouldn't have to direct and act. So he got an episode with eight babies and a pregnant actress, which is SO much easier! ("This Is Us Director Jon Huertas Talks Flash-Forward Challenges, Playing Chicken With Mandy Moore's Due Date")

Speaking of Mandy Moore, she and husband Taylor Goldsmith welcomed home baby son August Taylor Goldsmith on Feb. 20.

"I looked at Future Deja and wondered if they somehow got their hands on Doctor Doom's time machine!"

Yes, especially Deja. When Future-Deja first appeared onscreen I thought it might be Lyric Ross, but there are some things one simply cannot accomplish with makeup. In the past, the two versions of William were convincingly similar-looking. Not all of the show's multiple actor roles are as convincing, though. I'm thinking primarily of the actors who play Randall. They don't look much alike at all, but I'm willing to suspend my sense of disbelief because the main thing is that they can act. When the actors look so much alike, that's just icing.

"So he got an episode with eight babies and a pregnant actress..."

Yeah, maybe a better title would have been "Babies and Automobiles." 

I liked this week's episode ("One Small Step..." featuring Nick) better than the last two or three leading up to it. the previous episodes had become a bit too formulaic, but I was uncertain how the various plot threads would resolve this week. for example, I still don't know whether or not Nicky made his rendezvous with his girlfriend in time t make it to Woodstock. The implication is that he did not, but it could go either way. Perhaps a future episode will reveal he showed up at the last minute.

Last week's episode featured Phylicia Rashad. I recently saw her in Creed II (along with Milo Ventimiglia, although they had no scenes together). Her performance brings a certain gravitas to both roles, but I must say Mary Anne Creed is much more sympathetic than Carol Clarke (although they did try to soften her up toward the end). It should be "interesting" with her continuing to live in Randall and Beth's household.

I already have an opinion about next week's episode, but I guess I'll wait to say something until I actually see it. 

I feel I have a lot in common with Uncle Nick (the "uncle" part). 

We didn't discuss the substance of the previous two episodes much.* But to recap quickly:

  • When Randall and Beth were bringing baby Annie home and Randall kept pressing Beth to try again, this time for a boy, I so wanted to reach into my TV screen and shake him and say, "NOT TODAY, DUDE! NOT TODAY! Shut up, already!" I know he meant well, and it was explained that it comes from him spending his entire life longing for family, but still.
  • When Kate and Toby were bringing their baby home and birth mother Ellie gets upset and declares she doesn't want to be in her life, and Kate started to argue with her, I so wanted to reach into my TV screen and shake her and say, "NOT TODAY, KATE! NOT TODAY! Shut up, already!" I know she meant well, and it was explained that it comes from her spending her entire life watching Randall longing for family, but still
  • Fortunately, Toby talked Kate off the ledge, rightfully pointing out that today's conversation doesn't have to be the final one.
  • How about Kevin's dream where he had a talk with Jack? Interestingly enough, it was Jack from his kid years (signified by his mustache) and not Jack from his teenage years. (That Jack has a Van Dyke beard.)
  • Y'know, I never liked the casting of Phylicia Rashad as Beth's mother. She does the imperious mom bit very well ... a little too well, and in too many other places (the Creed series, Empire, A Raisin in the Sun, and, most famously, The Cosby Show). I would rather have had Vanessa Bell Calloway, who is a wonderful, unheralded actress, and a dancer like Susan Kelechi Watson, and has a closer resemblance to her too. But I'm not on the This Is Us casting team, which usually hits it out of the park.
  • I could feel Toby's frustration with applying for job after job online and getting nowhere, and walking into Kevin's house -- Golden Boy Kevin, who walked away from a movie in production and still gets gifts from his Hollywood friends. I know I thought the fallout from that wouldn't be impossible to navigate, but I didn't think there would be no fallout at all.

* I was drafting a response, but I lost it. I haven't learned yet that when I have a long response in the offing, I shouldn't write it in this space; I should write it elsewhere and paste it in.

This coming Tuesday's episode is the season five finale.

This Is Us will not be back for its sixth (and final) season until early 2022. 

Right. This season had multiple interruptions -- they never put on more than three episodes in a row -- so the intention is to hold it back to mid-season so they can present a good run.

It's likely because of those interruptions that our discussions here have fallen off. There's a lot that's happened, leading up to tonight's much-touted wedding between Madison and Kevin ... an event I am not certain will take place. Kevin's got cold feet and still isn't over first wife Sophie, and Madison is realizing she doesn't know Kevin well enough to be sure he's somebody she should commit to. 

One thing I meant to discuss was Uncle Nicky's unexpected visit to Kevin's home. I felt bad for the guy, meticulously crafting snowglobes for the babies, only to be told at the airport he can't carry items full of liquid, and accidentally breaking them.

And later, when he's helping plan the wedding reception, he makes several passive-aggressive digs at Miguel, who called him on it. And it was about time; Miguel gets enough crap from his own children, and the Pearson treat him like an interloper. I was glad he put his foot down.

Randall had some major milestones: he learned the story of his birth mother, and he and Kevin cleared the air.

The story of Laurel took some heartbreaking turns, pointing out the futility and damage caused by The War on Drugs -- making it impossible for Laurel to even learn where Randall was, let alone reunite with him. And the unrequited love between Laurel and Hai was heartwarming.

As for Randall and Kevin ... interesting bit about the adopted kid's fantasy of a "ghost kingdom" where Randall has a mom and dad who look like him: his teacher and the meteorologist on the local TV station. I like how if got across that Randall's longing for his birth parents does not come from any lack of love for his adoptive family. Although Kevin didn't make it easy, but his bullying comes from a place of being, essentially, the middle child, as Kate was Daddy's girl and Rebecca was overprotective of Randall. 

The key admission from Kevin -- he's jealous that Randall, his Black adoptive brother, has taken his spot -- had to come for them to get past it. Well done.

Randall's and Kevin's argument was over how Randall bullied Rebecca into signing up for a clinical trial in St. Louis, one that got postponed because, y'know, COVID. I've expressed my belief that the writers weren't going to have Rebecca go away for nine months, and if it hadn't been COVID, they would have come up with some other reason.

However, one story that I believe was written specifically because of COVID is Beth losing her dance studio. Showing us how she soldiered on -- first with a full contingent of dancers in the studio, then those dancers wearing masks, then having them rehearse at home via webcam, first a dozen, then fewer and fewer until it's just three (and one of them is Annie) ... oh, that was so sad. I hope Beth bounces back.

Then there's poor Toby, poor, unemployed Toby, who doesn't know what to do with himself. He and Kate seem to be building toward a breakup which, frankly, is fitting, since he's keeping things inside, like not really wanting to be a stay-at-home dad. And going after a job in San Francisco, the most expensive city in California? Not a great idea. 

And there's the bachelor and bachelorette parties. One odd thing about TV shows is that bachelorettes never seem to have any friends to participate in these things. As noted elsewhere, on The Flash, when Iris had her party, the guests were her fiancé's friend Caitlin, her fiancé's friend Felicity, and her future father-in-law's girlfriend.

On This Is Us, who does Madison have? Her future sister-in-law Kate, her future brother-in-law's wife Beth, and her future mother-in-law Rebecca. Doesn't she have any friends? From high school? College? Her neighborhood? Her job? The weight-loss group she and Kate used to be in?

And then there's Kevin and his career. Not only has he buried the hatchet with Randall, he worked it out with the indie film director and did his scenes with Robert De Niro and completed the film. At a private screening, the director is pleased ... and Kevin is frightened because the movie is terrible. On his way out, Kevin calls his agent for an emergency! meeting to lineup another project, fast, before the stink of this one gets too widespread.

But, Kevin finds, the pickings aren't too great. Why? Because, despite the good buzz he got from his last movie with Ron Howard and  Sylvester Stallone -- and a Golden Globe nomination! -- he's got a reputation for being a difficult actor who walks off projects.

Sure, he left the movie because Madison was in labor, and ditched the play (on opening night!) because Randall was having a breakdown ... but then there was his own meltdown on The Man-ny, captured for posterity on Instagram and YouTube.  

So there were consequences for walking off the set.

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