It's June. Already. We're almost halfway through a year that none of us will ever forget. New TV used to take a hiatus when temperatures got warmer, but summer premieres, air conditioning, comfier couches and bigger screens put an end to that. So pour that glass of lemonade as I touch on what I've been watching lately and preview what's coming up this week.
My oldest daughter Rachel and I have watched Survivor (CBS All Access) together every Wednesday for years. Rachel moving into her own apartment on the east side of Manhattan hasn't slowed us down (we FaceTime). With no new season on the horizon, the two of us decided to go back to the very first season which she has never seen. 20 years makes one heck of a difference. A much more somber, dramatic Jeff Probst explains Tree Mail, the power of one Immunity Idol and how Tribal Council works. But the core of the game is right there, even without challenges, hidden idols or advantages. Richard, Rudy, Sue, Kelly, Gervase, BB, Gretchen - the seeds were planted with no roadmap to follow on Borneo. Good stuff. Only 539 more episodes to go.
Debbie and I finished Defending Jacob (Apple TV+), with the ending being as ambiguous as it is in the book it’s based on. Still a worthwhile watch with Chris Evans giving an Emmy worthy lead performance.
I've really been digging Bordertown (Netflix), or as I like to call it, CSI: Lappeenranta without censorship. Oh those wacky Finns on the Russian border. Watch with subtitles and in its native language - the dubbing does not work well.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
John is back and even more filthy, words that you’ll never be able to spell, an animated NYC musical and a new 30 for 30. I've got you covered for the upcoming week.
Dirty John (USA)
Tuesday, June 2 9pm premiere (regular time 10pm)
This true-crime drama based on a podcast returns for another season with an all new tale. Season 1 had Connie Britton let creepy anesthesiologist Eric Bana into her life leading to lots of cringe. It started strong and maintained a solid creep factor thanks to some very good acting.
Season 2 is "The Betty Broderick Story" with Amanda Peet and Christian Slater playing Betty and her husband Dan. Betty has always been there for Dan as he makes his way through school and becomes a local law superstar. Dan then hires young Linda as an assistant, and Betty is not pleased. You know the theme - do the stalky math.
Spelling The Dream (NETFLIX)
Wednesday June 3
I love the spelling bee. I finished second in my 6th grade competition (choked on "siege") and watch the National Bee every year. That didn't happen this spring (thanks COVID), but this doc fills the gap profiling young Indian-Americans who have dominated the contest for the past decade. Break out those dictionaries and marvel at the commitment and passion of these families.
Central Park (APPLE TV+)
Friday June 5
This animated musical from the creators of Bob's Burgers takes place in the heart of New York City. FOX originally passed on it, and Apple wisely outbid Netflix and Hulu for their first foray into the cartoon universe.
Last week's premiere had the quirky Tillerman family fending off hotel heiress Bitsy Brandenham who wants to convert Central Park into a collection of condos. This cast is loaded - Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Josh Gad, Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., and Stanley Tucci.
If Broadway isn't your thing, this show is not for you. But if you're looking for a sincere, heartwarming tale with some catchy show tunes, stop by Central Park. It's the closest you'll get to theater these days.
Be Water (ESPN)
Sunday June 7 9pm
Bruce Lee gets the 30 for 30 treatment on the worldwide leader. After playing Kato for one season on The Green Hornet, he auditioned and was passed over for David Carradine on Kung Fu. Bruce returns to Hong Kong and changes films forever while sparking the martial arts industry.
I hadn't seen a lot of Bruce Lee off screen, and watching him navigate the racial tensions that dominated his life is remarkable. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says, "this country was not ready for an Asian hero." You appreciate why so many admire him as he defied stereotypes that sadly persist to this day.
I hope you enjoy these weekly recommendations. If there's quality TV that I'm missing, don't hesitate to let me know.
Stay healthy and safe.
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