Monday, August 31, 2020

TV Picks - Week of August 31

I pride myself on recommending shows that go above and beyond the norm. Stuff that's truly worth watching. As such, my expectations and standards are generally pretty high.

Then there's the sappy stuff. And all bets are off. So here’s my big confession: I enjoy watching not-so-smart romantic comedies with my wife. In fact, often times I'll get more invested in the ridiculous plotlines than she does.

It's not the finest programming, but it is entertaining in its own special way. Here are three recent offerings I can recommend to other discerning viewers who share a soft-spot for the sap.

Virgin River (NETFLIX)

For fellow old-timers, the ten-episode first season of this Netflix series is like Northern Exposure with a couple of twists.

Nurse/midwife Mel (Alexandra Breckinridge) shows up in a Northern California small town (it’s shot in Vancouver) to take over for aging doctor Doc (Otter from Animal House) at the behest of his ex-wife Hope (Lana Lang in Superman III). Mel has left L.A. under mysterious circumstances and is looking for a fresh start.

Naturally she ends up in the only bar in town which happens to be owned by Kurt Russell lookalike Jack (Martin Henderson) and there's instant chemistry. Mel struggles to win Doc over and fit into the idyllic looking hamlet as we discover the quirks of the locals and the secrets they're hiding.

It's a basic plot and it's done reasonably well. The location is gorgeous. There are no real big surprises and a few stretches in reality, but this is a cute show worth cuddling up to. And there’s more on the way, too – Netflix has picked up the show for a second season. 

The Kissing Booth & The Kissing Booth 2 (NETFLIX)

Full disclosure - I had to watch KB1 and KB2 for work.

Further full disclosure - I really liked the first one and the sequel wasn't too bad of a follow up.

We all know the story. An awkward looking girl (Joey King) hits puberty and suddenly the school begins to notice. She's in love with the lifelong best friend's older brother (Jacob Elordi) who happens to be the coolest guy in school. The best friends master a Dance Dance Revolution knockoff and work on a kissing booth together for the school carnival.

It's easy to fill in the blanks when it comes to the plot, but this is an enjoyable romp through high school navigating popularity, family jealousy and falling in love. Molly Ringwald as the mother of teens reminded me of how old I was, but she and the rest of cast fill their roles admirably.

The recent sequel is not as good as the original, but revisiting the relationships is worthwhile if you enjoyed the first film. Kissing Booth 3 might be too much for me. Just let me know if it's Berkeley or Harvard.

Ted Lasso (APPLE TV+)

Ted was one of my picks a few weeks back, and five episodes in, I realize it fits this bill of sweet shows.

Ted (Jason Sudekis) is a persistently optimistic Division II college football coach brought over to England in a Major League plot device as the owner ("Shame" nun from Game of Thrones) tries to ruin the soccer team she inherited in her divorce.

Ted Lasso strikes all the right chords. It's funny, a little bit raunchy, but also emotionally moving. The seemingly superficial characters have a lot of depth, and the wins and losses of AFC Richmond are far from what drives the story.

The supporting cast is quirky and adds to the flavor of the storyline. The right amount of time is spent on Ted and the rest of the characters in his brave new world. It's a feel good show at a time when we all need to feel a little bit better.

If there's quality TV that I'm missing, please let me know.

Wear a mask. Stay healthy, cool and safe.

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