Monday, March 16, 2020

Stuck Home? Watch This

Home is the safest place to be these days, but how do you stay inside without killing each other?

The good news - there are so many TV choices waiting for you. Here's a quick list to get you started:

ALL-TIME TV CLASSICS WORTH A REWATCH

In the current climate, TV series are better than movies because you can keep coming back for more. If you haven't watched these series, consider yourself lucky. Most of us have, but the second time around is well worth the trip.

Breaking Bad (NETFLIX)
IMDB description: A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's future.

Vince Gilligan brilliantly immerses you in the southwest world of Walter White. Award-winning performances from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul lead the magnificent cast. The storytelling improves as the series progresses to a satisfying finale. Must see TV.

The Wire (HBO GO)
IMDB description: The Baltimore drug scene, as seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement.

Phenomenal characters and a grim portrait of life on the Baltimore streets. No one is all good, and no one is all bad. All five seasons provide a different setting, but it's all in the game. This is my top drama of all-time.

The Sopranos (HBO GO)
IMDB description: New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life that affect his mental state, leading him to seek professional psychiatric counseling.

Creator David Chase once said the show was about people lying to themselves and the mess it creates. Well Tony Soprano makes quite a mess - and it's much more than a simple Jersey mob story. Psychiatry, family, mafia - it's all here. 

Mad Men (NETFLIX)
IMDB description: A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper.

Don Draper is quite the character, and you really get to know him during this show's seven seasons. All about advertising and the American dream, Mad Men is funny, poignant, and somewhat dark. The pace is methodical, but well worth the trip, and the ensemble cast is one of the best ever assembled. 

Game of Thrones (HBO GO)
IMDB Description: Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical lands of Westeros, while an ancient enemy returns after being dormant for thousands of years.

If you never made time to get lost in the seven kingdoms, just follow the map at the start of each episode. There's a good amount of fantasy, but Thrones feels more like a historical epic...with dragons. Don't skip the opening credits and enjoy your trip to Westeros. 

Lost (HULU)
IMDB Description: The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island.

It starts with one of the best pilots ever shot, and ends, well, let's just say it ends. The mystery of Oceanic Flight 815 takes you to some places you'd never expect, and the creative storytelling techniques are very entertaining. You'll have to go back.

Sherlock (NETFLIX)
IMDB Description: A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London.

Not sure why this British import doesn't get the love it deserves. Benedict Cumberbatch charms the world as the famous sleuth who just can't fit into society. Great bad guys too - especially Moriarty (who you can see as a lovable priest in Fleabag). Four seasons of 90-minute episodes prove to be quite satisfying. 

CURRENT SHOWS TIED INTO THE PAST

Better Call Saul (NETFLIX/AMC)
IMDB description: The trials and tribulations of criminal lawyer Jimmy McGill in the time before he established his strip-mall law office in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This Breaking Bad prequel is based on the life of Walt & Jesse's sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman. Great to see the origin of some of your favorite BB characters, but Jimmy McGill's saga includes new folks and takes some surprising turns. Currently one of the best shows on television.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO GO)
IMDB description: The life and times of Larry David and the predicaments he gets himself into with his friends and complete strangers.

Start from season one back in 2000 and watch Larry evolve/devolve over time. Tons of awkwardness and laughter, plus the Seinfeld reunion/finale you always hoped for. 

Fargo (HULU/FX)
IMDB description: Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and murder in and around frozen Minnesota. Yet all of these tales mysteriously lead back one way or another to Fargo, North Dakota.

I'm reaching with the tie-in to the Coen Brothers classic film from 1996, but the first three seasons just have that classic feel. The cast and time period changes every season, but the quirky drama remains consistent. Season 4 starts next month and I cannot wait. 

BUT I NEED SOME NEW STUFF

Better Things (HULU/FX)
IMDB description: An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent.

Had the pleasure of interviewing Pamela Adlon a couple of years ago, and she just wants to make good TV. She does. Get to know Sam Fox and her family in this unique dramedy. Not your typical show.

Schitt's Creek (NETFLIX/POP)
IMDB description: When rich video-store magnate Johnny Rose and his family suddenly find themselves broke, they are forced to leave their pampered lives to regroup in Schitt's Creek.

A charming comedy that gets better as it ages. I've loved Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara since their SCTV days. Dan Levy and Annie Murphy complete the Rose family, and the locals make them feel right at home. Very sweet and very funny.

Killing Eve (HULU/BBC AMERICA)
IMDB description: After a series of events, the lives of a security operative and an assassin become inextricably linked.

Great first season, pretty good second season. Sandra Oh gets the award hype but Jodie Comer is the one to watch as Villanelle. Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge's other show Fleabag is worth the watch as well - especially the second season.

CLASSIC MOVIE BONUS

The Shawshank Redemption (NETFLIX)
IMDB Description: Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Spotted this classic scrolling through Netflix and I had to watch. Morgan Freeman is the voice, but I forgot how good Tim Robbins acts in this film. The prison warden (Bob Gunton) is a top ten all-time bad guy. Fantastic rewatch that I could not recommend more strongly.

WHAT I'VE RECENTLY WATCHED

Westworld (HBO GO) - Season 3, Episode 1
IMDB Description: Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, explore a world in which every human appetite can be indulged without consequence.

I missed the park. Evan Rachel Wood looks incredible. Aaron Paul is an incredible actor. Singapore looks incredibly cool. I am incredibly confused. The tech is great and I'm along for the ride, but I'm not sure who I'm rooting for here exactly. Careful here - as Heroes and other shows have learned - if everyone has powers, there are no superheroes. Hope the mystery unfolds into something compelling. Looking forward to seeing Ed Harris again. I think.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO GO)
Can't get enough Mocha Joe.

The Shawshank Redemption (NETFLIX)
Highly recommend Stephen King's book "Different Seasons" which includes the novellas "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" and "The Body" which became the film Stand By Me.

The Outsider (HBO GO)
IMDB Description: Investigators are confounded over an unspeakable crime that's been committed.

Speaking of Stephen King book adaptations, this one stayed pretty true to the source material and was gripping all the way through. It's a slow burn, but the great cast and compelling visuals more than make up for the pacing. I'm looking for El Cuco under my bed.

Everything's Gonna Be Okay (FREEFORM/HULU)
IMDB Description: After their father's untimely death, Nicholas and his two half-sisters are left to cope with not only a devastating loss, but also the realization that Nicholas is the one who will have to rise to the occasion and hold it all together.

This was an Alan Sepinwall (my favorite TV critic) recommendation, and it's...okay. Feels like a dark Disney Channel show. A dad has terminal cancer and wants to make his Australian son the guardian of his two high school daughters, one of whom is autistic. I checked out the pilot and the daughters' performances might bring me back - or not. If you're looking for a great show featuring an autistic child, try Atypical on Netflix which co-stars my pal Michael Rapaport.

Cuomo Prime Time (CNN)
IMDB Description: Chris Cuomo has been a mainstay on CNN mornings but now anchors a primetime series featuring breaking news updates and important guests in the world of politics.

I never watched until this past week when I stumbled upon my wife watching it. I like Cuomo's passion and desire to get to the bottom of things. Love when his older brother comes on and shoots straight. When it's informative, it's good TV. When there's too much opinion, it feels like any other show on a cable news network. Love his enthusiasm though - we need that now.

LOTS MORE OUT THERE

Hopefully this list gets you started, but if you're looking for more there's plenty to choose from. I'll start tweeting what I'm watching to keep things fresh. 

Stay healthy. Stay safe. And enjoy the shows.

MARCH 16 UPDATE
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Homeland (SHOWTIME)
20/20 (ABC)
Fast Food Mania (DESTINATION AMERICA)

MARCH 17 UPDATE
The Plot Against America pilot (HBO GO)
The Crown s2 e4 (NETFLIX)

MARCH 18 UPDATE
Schitt's Creek (POP)
Homeland (SHOWTIME)

MARCH 19 UPDATE
Survivor (CBS ALL ACCESS)
Homeland (SHOWTIME)

MARCH 20 UPDATE
Little Fires Everywhere first 2 eps (HULU)
Seinfeld s4 e7 "The Bubble Boy" (PIX)


12 comments:

  1. Chris Cuomo. Hahahaha.... good one.

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  2. Frodo Cuomo...Hahahaha! It'd be good if you viewed it as slapstick comedy!

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  3. I highly, highly recommend Hunters on Amazon prime. So much fun, albeit, using the word fun to describe this series feels a bit wrong.... Nevertheless, Hunters is a twisted rollercoaster ride everyone needs to jump on.

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    1. Heard mixed things about Hunters being a bit too over the top, but it is in my queue to check out.

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  4. Jon, you're way off about Lost being purgatory. The side story in Season 6 was a sort of purgatory, or halfway point, but everything that happened on the island happened. I'm surprised you don't know that.

    I'm not going to explain it to you, but if you pay attention in the last episode they explain it very well. You could also do a quick google search and have it explained very thoroughly by 1000 different sites, including by the shows creators.

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    1. https://www.eonline.com/news/521687/lost-bosses-finally-answer-were-they-really-dead-the-whole-time-what-was-the-whole-show-about

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    2. On whether the characters were actually dead the whole time (Since the time the plane crashed): "No, no, no. They were not dead the whole time," Cuse said definitively

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  5. How do you include The Sopranos but not Six Feet Under? Just curious.

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  6. If you haven't seen it, Almost Paradise debuted on WGN last night. It is a cop-type program in the style of Sledgehammer from the late 80's. Check it out, it's pretty funny.

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