Monday, September 24, 2018

TV Must-See

I'm smitten with "Succession" on HBO. I like it even more than "Killing Eve" , which is saying quite a lot. It's about the tragicomic (really more comitragic) dysfunctional machinations within a Murdoch-like family, and it completely destroys any notion that a series needs likable characters to hold interest. Succession's a bit slow-starting, but if you can get through the first three episodes, I have no doubt you'll fall for it. The plotting is complex, and the dialog dense, so I recommend the episodic recap conversations at Reddit (just google "Reddit" plus the episode title).

I feel less compelled to specify genre or encapsulate story when I recommend great TV to friends these days. This isn't 1975; it's no longer a matter of preference for, say, detective stories or legal dramas. It'd be gauche to hit a fine art museum and say you prefer paintings with boats in them, and, as the best TV has become high art, it deserves the same respect. Good is good.

If you didn't catch the first season of "Killing Eve" (a cheekily off-kilter tail of manic pixie dream girl as psychopathic hit woman), you must. Really, don't miss. It's currently between seasons on BBC America, but you can probably catch a rerun or else it's cheap to stream on Amazon.

"Better Call Saul" (AMC) continues to set the bar for painstaking quality. I no longer question whether it's better than Breaking Bad. The answer is clear. I'll avoid spoilers, but a much-beloved Breaking Bad character (not Walt or Jesse) showed up a few episodes ago as a great big greasy display of shameless fan service, and most viewers (including BB superfans) were simply irritated, like if Dragnet's Sergeant Joe Friday had shown up in The Wire. That's how great "Better Call Saul"is. And it's not just because I'm all crushed out over Kim Wexler.

Alan Sepinwall loves "Maniac", on Netflix, but I haven't seen it yet.

You probably don't need me to tell you how fantastic "Bojack Horseman" (also Netflix) is, and the new season's as great as ever.

If you're a fan of moody slow-moving premium cable drama, "Sharp Objects" on HBO is as good as everyone says.

There aren't many people in the intersecting fan sets of Lars von Trier and Jim Carrey. Plus, I seem to be the only person who grokked von Trier's intention with his much-villainized film "Antichrist" (opening up and acting on one's deepest and most authentic feelings can be a really, really bad idea). So I'm uniquely poised to recognize that Carrey's new vehicle, "Kidding" (Showtime) seems to be setting itself up to make the same point. Presumably Carrey will not be severing his costars' penises on-screen, but, nearly as excruciating, the poor guy seems incapable of keeping his face normal. Every facial expression, however banal, goes to "11", even in serious scenes. Each blink, grin, and frown is a full Steadman. I guess my Mom was right; if you keep doing goofy stuff long enough it locks in permanently. Good show, anyway. And I watch anything with Frank Langella.

If you, too, are a Frank Langella fan, but never saw the little film "Starting Out in the Evening" (total box office: $898,786), catch it for sure. You can rent/stream it on Amazon for $2.99).

I missed the 90's, being too busy to watch TV. Never saw a single episode of "Cheers" or "Friends", though I've caught up some with "Seinfeld". Lately I've finally been binge-watching "Deep Space 9". I'm enjoying it, but it's definitely pre Golden Age television. If you don't love sci-fi it won't do much for you. And while it's certainly quality, it still leaves me with a bit of the torpid park-your-eyeballs aftereffect I got as a kid in the 60s watching The Banana Splits, F Troop, I Dream of Jeannie, etc.

Previous TV roundups


Display Name said...

omg omg omg how many new episodes of BCS are available and where can I get them? /jumps up and down while sitting. More importantly how many have that hot dog stand in them? I try not to binge watch and I tell myself these shows were on once a week. I did cave and watch three episodes of BB once. I simply could not stop. I think DSN gets much better as it goes on and quark's bar is often mentioned as best fictional bar.As for the holligram I think you had to be there. I gasped with delight when he said That Fink! And He's No Kennedy. You have seen Red Dwarf right? I will be so jealous if you haven't

Jim Leff said...

Never saw Red Dwarf, no. And not sure I can plow through 73 episodes of yet another 90s sci-fi franchise

Display Name said...

Ummm Your loss I guess Jim.To be fair I have taken plenty of your suggestions and am always glad. Turn about is fair play. It's true at least to me that not all episodes are created equal I really like the robot soap opera. Stop with the binge watching already and give this a try? Pleeeaaase? I understand that the show was not released in the US because the brits thought that American audiences would not be able to tolerate a main character that was dead for a long long time. It's cold out here there's no kind of atmosphere more or less. I want to lie shipwrecked and comatose drinking fresh mango juice.

Jim Leff said...

I have no issue with dead protagonists. Weekend at Bernie's was a fave of mine!

Display Name said...

Have you seen The Trouble With Harry?

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