Locked-Down Reviews: TV

Okay, we’re here for awhile. I’m going to start reviewing stuff. The usual caveats apply. My tastes aren’t yours, they might suck to you and certainly cannot withstand political scrutiny.

Today is television shows. There are minor spoilers included but nothing that would ruin it for me if it was the other way around. There is a lot of pointless violence in what we watch. And then we are all like “wouldn’t it be nice to watch something with people talking” and we do that for awhile. YMMV. This is just stuff we watched recently, which appears to be a pointless violence phase.

Babylon Berlin: The. best. opening. credit. sequence. ever. I usually skip opening credits these days, but I could watch an hour of the opening credit sequence. The show is good too. The 1920s mostly look like shit but occasionally they look amazing. This seems like the right balance, and frankly, it appears that they may be ahead of the 2020s right now. The anachronisms are wonderful if you are a complete nerd, which I am. For season 3: there were no drum kits, Germans didn’t use condenser microphones until the 1930, and insulin wasn’t fast acting. Women do not generally fare well. Also, I love knowing where all the places in Berlin are. Bonus: before each episode Netflix puts up a warning about sex, language, and smoking, but not violence. Someone is usually killed before the opening credits.

Star Trek: Picard. Pretty good. I get it: “a new, darker Jean-Luc Picard.” I am mostly entertained. I could do without all the TNG cameos, but whatever. Borg do not generally fare well.

Manifest. I’m a science fiction fan who will watch pretty much anything about time, space, or dreams. Ideally in some combination. So I started watching this show. It is terrible. Every week, I ask myself why I am watching it. The men are all wooden and the women are all whiny. Everyone looks the same. The writing and dialogue are awful. They spent a whole episode mourning a character who turns out not to be dead, which is the apex of pointless TV writing. As the mystery of the passengers’ disappearance for 5 years gets ever more pointlessly complex, I keep saying things like “if this time travel turns into some kind of Hobbit shit I’m done.” And yet, I keep tuning in. Carrie just groans or surfs the internet to humour me.

Better Call Saul: Note perfect.

High Fidelity: I loved music, but I was not the cool guy at the record store. I did not look cool, I did not listen to what was cool at the time even in an alternative way, though my friends and I had lots of shared tastes. The dude clerks listening to Nurse With Wound (ACTUAL EXAMPLE) or some out of tune local band (ditto) would makes faces at me and say dismissive things if I asked for recommendations. All this is to say I love music but I do not identify with the characters in the novel, the movie, or the show even though some people seem to think I am supposed to. Zoë Kravitz is great. The music is updated but seems all wrong for who the characters supposedly are. I keep waiting for a scene in her apartment where she puts on a record and it’s Lenny Kravitz “Let Love Rule.” That would be meta-awesome.

Intelligence: A post-Wire crime drama little known outside of Canada but very entertaining. The first show we are re-watching in a long time. Both Carrie and I have become fans of shows where you are presented with apparently competent people working in ensembles, and then very quickly everything goes to shit. On Berlin Station I think someone actually yells “everything has gone to shit” into the phone at some point, which was outstanding. Nobody does that here, but it is wound very tight. Women mostly do not fair well except for the protagonist, though the men mostly hate her too. [UPDATE: Now that we’re finished, I can say that season 2 takes a bit of a nosedive towards the end. The plot about water is fine, but one minor character gets WAY too much screen time (the decision makes no sense, honestly) and it kind of drags the whole thing down. Still watched it all and I have no regrets.] We might rewatch Breaking Bad next to see if we can tell the exact point when Walter White becomes evil.

Homeland: Claire Danes has an infinite number of facial expressions. I have stopped trying to count them. Also very suspenseful. Yes, the show is still racist. I am not proud. But at least it’s not like 24 where somehow it got us to start rooting for Jack Bauer to torture the human rights rep to get emergency information. In a particularly good episode, characters will say things like “there’s not enough time.”

Probably irrelevant news shows: The Circus (which WordPress keeps autocorrecting to “the virus,” draw your own conclusions). Before everything got shut down, it was a weekly news show about American politics. Two journalists and a former speechwriter with great access. Good editing and half an hour. Other newsy stuff we watch: NewsHour, sometimes (we call it “TV for Grownups” or “News Talking”); John Oliver, always (“news yelling”); Bill Maher, sometimes (also “news yelling”), an asshole and a hypocrite but has good guests sometimes and is sometimes funny; Pardon the Interruption (“sports yelling”).

…and a movie: Uncut Gems: We saved this for vacation in Barbados. We were very relaxed on vacation. This movie was not relaxing. In fact, it was so not relaxing that we had to “microdose” it over several sittings. Probably not good for the Jews.