I wanted to like Amazon Prime’s “Modern Love,” an anthology series based on a long-running New York Times column. While some episodes work (the ones starring Cristin Milioti, Dev Patel, and Anne Hathaway), too many waste talented casts (Tina Fey & John Slattery, John Gallagher Jr. & Sofia Boutella, Julia Garner & Shea Whigham) on plots that either go nowhere or end prematurely. I don’t know whether to blame the writing or the half-hour format, but my disappointment in the project is a surprise, since the showrunner is John Carney, the man behind the wonderful indie movies “Once” and “Sing Street.” Perhaps the second season — which Amazon approved before the first even debuted — will be better.
Martha and I binge-watched all eight episodes of season two of “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix in one afternoon, laughing out loud several times. While Michael Douglas does a good job at the center of most of the plot lines, has any actor even been more reliably funny over a career than Alan Arkin? Nice to see Paul Reiser and Jane Seymour join the supporting cast, which also includes reliable pros Sarah Baker, Nancy Travis, Lisa Edelstein, and Susan Sullivan.
I wasn’t a Sacha Baron Cohen fan until the Netflix series “The Spy,” in which he plays Eli Cohen, recruited in the 1960s by Mossad to go undercover in Syria as an Israeli spy — a task he performed remarkably well. The ingenious way he wormed his way into the Syrian hierarchy, fooling them so well he was became a close confidant to future president Amin al-Hafiz, who named him Deputy Defense Minister, is all the more impressive because much of it really happened.
Finally, I came upon something called “Funny You Should Ask” on the Comedy.tv channel, which is part of Byron Allen’s media empire. Yes, he’s the same guy we saw as a teenage co-host of “Real People” 40 years ago, who has gone on to become a major television mogul, owning several cable-and-satellite networks including The Weather Channel. He explained how he accomplished that on a very enjoyable recent episode of Mark Maron’s “WTF” podcast. As for “Funny You Should Ask,” it’s nothing more than a cheap knockoff of “Hollywood Squares,” except with six instead of nine semi-celebrities answering questions with pre-written jokes, most of which land with a thud you’ll never hear over the hyped-up (and possibly digitally-enhanced) laughs of the studio audience.