Saturday, January 5, 2019

TV Tip Catch-Up

In my last TV tip sheet, I raved over "Succession" (HBO), "Killing Eve" (BBC America), "Better Call Saul" (AMC), "Bojack Horseman" (Netflix), "Sharp Objects" (HBO), and, provisionally, "Kidding", the Jim Carrey Showtime vehicle. In retrospect - after viewing Kidding’s whole first season - I was wrong about the point it was making. There was a ton of misdirection, and, once smoke cleared, they turned out to be exploring even deeper themes - though with a most delicate touch and plenty of sugar to help the thoughtfulness go down. None of the critics fully grokked it. My advice is to focus your attention on Frank Langella, the Rosetta Stone of everything he's ever in. Not sure how he does that.
Speaking of Langella, here's yet another plug for his wee film "Starting Out in the Evening," which you can rent/stream on Amazon for $2.99.
More recent shows I've been into: "Escape at Dannemora" (Showtime), Ben Stiller's straight drama prison escape, as flawed as the critics say, and neither subtle nor surprising, yet still enjoyable, "Deutschland 86" (Sundance), whose second season was a step downhill, but still excellent. Faint praise, sure, but then there's "Mr. Inbetween" (FX), an irresistible, lovingly-crafted Australian sleeper about a Bad Guy who's not necessarily a bad guy, and "Succession" (HBO), a soapy treatment of a Murdoch-ish family that wouldn't normally be my cup of tea if it wasn't so well done - subtle and surprising! - that I'm still thinking about it months after the first season ended. It's very nearly as good as "Killing Eve" (returning this spring!) which is a Unesco World Heritage Must-See.

From the less cultured regions of my brain, I'm a "Life Below Zero" (National Geographic Channel) cultist (that's the show about people getting by in the frozen wilderness). Watching these folks for seven years, presented in what seems like The Tube's least staged/shticky reality treatment, has taught me many meta-life lessons, none of them intentional. One day I'll write about them, but if you're not hip to, say, Agnes and Chip Hailstone's approach to caribou skinning, I'm not sure I can make you understand.

Here are all my TV postings in reverse-chronological order.

This posting from 2017 is still relevant, referencing some currently ongoing series like "The Deuce" (HBO), which just finished a very good-not-great season 2, "You're the Worst" (FXX), about to start its final season, and I'm a huge fan (it's a rom-com about awful people, and so inventive it never gets stale), "Rick and Morty" (Adult Swim), a titanic gift to humanity that hopefully debuts its new season soon-ish, and which, n.b., my astute hematologist needs to binge ASAP. "The Expanse" (Syfy) returns soon (switching to Amazon Video), and it's terrific science fiction (though not great enough to transcend genre, if that's not your thing; if you dug the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot, don't miss). "Midnight Diner" (Netflix), about the denizens of a warm late night Tokyo eatery, remains the great series nobody knows about (set expectations for slightness and atmospheric sweetness), and I loved "Atlanta" (FX) early, so I still feel compelled to evangelize it even now that it's blown up huge.

For backlog bingeing tips, see this and this. But if you feel like dipping back into classics, the towering gorilla-in-the-cathode-ray-tube is "Leftovers" (HBO). You just need to persevere through the gloomy and extraordinarily WTF first season (which is actually great and must not be skipped). OTOH I haven't seen "Deadwood" yet (I simply don't want to use it up. I perennially have a full helping of Deadwood freshly available to me).

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