Sunday, June 9, 2019

YA TV Update

Yesterday I recommended my favorite news show, but I haven't updated my entertainment TV reccos in a while (here is a reverse-chronological view of all prior postings). I'll be terse and maddeningly non-descriptive.

I think Chernobyl, on HBO, was "The Wire"-level quality (must listen to the episode-by-episode accompanying podcast, and check out the episode-by-episode run-downs by a guy who lived in Russia at the time). Chernobyl is the highest-rated television program ever on IMDB, and I think that's proper. It's grueling to watch in the watching, but the takeaway (as with all great art) is warmth, not trauma.

Killing Eve's second season had the misfortune of being merely excellent after a debut season that was oh-my-god great. If Mamma Grimaldi's lasagna taught us nothing else, there are light years between "good" and "great" (more on that here). So don't listen to people suggesting that you ignore the second season which is, again, excellent.

Fleabag, written by and starring the creative dynamo behind Killing Eve's first season (she wasn't part of season two, which surely accounts for the fall-off), was excellent in its first season, and even better in its second. Don't miss.

I was leery about What we Do in the Shadows, the vampire comedy on FX, being an American TV series transplant of an New Zealand film (with the same name) that I love dearly(stream it from Amazon for four bucks). But it's really good.

The Other Two, on Comedy Central, didn't get much attention amid this frenzied golden age of television, but I loved it. It was about the family disruption when the youngest son suddenly gets Internet famous. Super dark, ala You're the Worst, on FX, which I loved even more (despite its disappointing final season).

You probably saw the VEEP series finale. I'd suggest re-watching the final scene - where all the characters are aged 24 years. Keep your eyes on Tony Hale, who plays Gary. Here's that part, below (though I'd suggest watching the whole scene on HBO):

I write a lot about lavishing excessive love, care, and effort to create a magical result, and this is an example. For just a few seconds of screen time, it is clear that Hale spent way, way, way, way, way, way more time than necessary preparing; accounting for every minute of those 24 character years. This over-diligence creates a magnetism, a gravity, that shocks the viewer. He's not doing dress-up shtick like the other actors. This really is that guy after that time jump. It's magic (and necessary for the scene to have real dramatic weight beyond the gag). It's Mamma Grimaldi level work.

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