Sunday, December 4, 2016

Flee to your TV

*It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (seasons 1-3)- Thanks to a lot of knitting requests, I finally decided to watch this show that a bunch of people have suggested. I started losing interest a bit as the seasons go on - I can't believe how many there are ! - so I do not know how many I will watch. I know people are big fans of it, but with all the other good smart comedies on right now I am not sure this one holds up that well, but there are a couple funny episodes.
*Daily Show - Trevor Noah came back after Thanksgiving really swinging. He's by far my favorite late night show now, when I really need to laugh - everyone else is just making me more and more depressed with their rants, even when I agree with them.
*Atlanta - still killing it!
*Bob's Burgers - Really enjoyed the double episode weekend for Thanksgiving. The accountant-saxophonist especially made me laugh.
*Insecure - This show's hilarious! I especially love seeing small nonprofit life on screen! And I find myself with "Broken Pussy" stuck in my head from time to time. Makes me want to go back and watch some of her other work.
*Divorce - I guess the point of this show is that both of the characters are terrible so they deserve each other, but it didn't work out? I do not get it or its appeal.
*Project Runway (season 15) - Another show to knit along to, and try to ignore or fast forward through all the ridiculous product placements that I will never buy. The sleep deprivation seems more on display this season, which makes me feel especially guilty for watching it all.
*News Hour - Lately, I have been spending more time with the News Hour. While I still love NPR and my Sunday Times, the News Hour's coverage just feels better to me. Maybe its their combination of depth, conversations, and integrity, but it just feels like such a breath of fresh air. I am still so sad about the loss of Gwen Ifill - she was such a fantastic journalist; her presence will be sorely missed.
*Hypernormalisation - Terrifying but very highly recommended. Don't make the mistake I did and watch the whole thing at once right before bed. We are headed toward bad times indeed.
*Weiner - Watching this seems like a distant memory to me now, but it is impressive the footage they got and I thought the directors did a good job meditating on personal & political ethics.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rabbit's Return

So...been a while but thought it might be fun to come back on here.  I am dropping the color coding source in favor of (rough) genres 'cause cable cutting's gotten so complex lately, involving so many different roku channels, Netflix constantly pushing its content in your face, and now I am also using screen-casting (with flaws, but good for some shows that only have apps but not Roku channels for who knows what reason?). I am contemplating whether it's worth a foray into Amazon. I can't promise I will catch up on everything I missed posting about, but here's at least the latest.
*Atlanta - I love this show about my former hometown. A celebration of black culture (apparently such celebrations are in short supply there these days) - its understated humor is so rare. Really enjoyable!
*Louie (Season 5) - Still enjoyable, but nothing to write home about.
*Love - This was not all that great, but I started it and just watched the rest in hopes that it would get better. I am not sure I would bother with another season.
*Better Call Saul - I never made it through Breaking Bad, but luckily you don't have to with this great spin-off - a great dark comedy.
*A Young Doctor's Notebook - This one's been on the queue for a while and during the drought of summer watching I finally got to it. Meh. It was just ok.
*Rita (Seasons 1-3) - Another hidden gem in Netflix Instant about a bad ass teacher. Great to the end!
*Master of None (Season 1) - Aziz Ansari is so funny! Great to see him break out with his own show.
*Vice Principals (Season 1) - This is another one I finished watching just because I started it (maybe I had a good knitting project?). I am not sure we need an "Eastbound & Down" set in the schools.
*Girls (Seasom 5) - It is fun to watch the girls grow up and move in different directions.
*Daily Show with Trevor Noah - I know opinions have been mixed, but I really like Trevor. He's handsome and hilarious, and he's leading a good team in a year where we need all the laughs we can get. A good antidote to the daily news. I was bummed that Larry Wilmore's show was discontinued, and I hope we get to see him and the other regulars on his show reappear - I thought they were all super funny, it's a shame that the show didn't have longer to make things work.
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee - She is really scathing, and it's good to have this year especially!  Sometimes (like with John Oliver) it's too much for me, though. And speaking of...
*Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - I can credit this show with blunting some of my obsessive news reading online so that all I ever read about is Drumpf. He does a nice job bringing attention to stories that (sadly) people do not pay enough attention to.
*Frontline - The Choice. In this election cycle pretty much the only thing that does not fill me with dread is the comfort of PBS. They did a great presentation of the candidates, and their news coverage has been stellar as always on the News Hour.
*The Americans (Season 3) - I am well behind (having to wait on DVDs for this one) and I still enjoy it, but I think this show's run its course already. It feels like it's had more than 3 seasons, and the fact that there's still 3 more makes me wonder how much I will enjoy the rest of it.
*Fargo (Season 2) - The second season did not disappoint, despite how dark and bloody it was. Really memorable characters, and lots of great nods to fans of the Coen Brother's works.
*Orphan Black (Season 4) - This one also feels like it's stretched on a bit long, though I still really love watching Tatiana Maslany kill it playing all the leads at once - so impressive!
*Stranger Things - I am not usually one for scary shows, but this was a fun bit of 80s nostalgia with minimal scariness and - yay -  Winona Rider!
*Rectify (Season 3) - This continues to be great TV watching, though the resolution of some of the central story lines has started to take some of the air out of the drama.
*Night Of - This miniseries was really enthralling to watch. Despite a couple mis-steps, it was really compelling.
*Orange is the New Black (Season 4) - I enjoyed this season a little more than I expected. I think they're doing a good job pushing it into new directions.
*Occupied - This was a really great political thriller. One of those hidden treasures on Netflix Instant.
*House of Cards (Season 4) - I enjoy this less and less as the seasons go on, but there's still some Baltimore spots in the background, so I'll keep watching it I guess out of hometown pride.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


House of Cards - this new season's so good (despite the lack of Baltimore background scenes). I am watching with a friend and being really disciplined waiting for the next one.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  - the opening song gets so stuck in your head. There are some funny parts
Black Mirror got a bit too intense and creepy for me.
Food, Inc. a review of a lot of the issues with agribusiness; not much I didn't already know, but a pretty good reminder of why I'm vegan.
Fresh off the Boat - This show's still pretty funny.
Last Man on Earth - Only two episodes into this one, and it's just okay.
Top Chef - Finally got to finish out the season - it had a good, exciting finale.
Broad City - This show is so hilarious. I'm re-watching the first season, too.
The Nightly Show - I came around about Larry Wilmore. I still skip most of the panel discussions, but the first half of the show is always really solid and funny.
American Denial- A remarkable documentary about racism, particularly focusing on the social/psychological dimensions as well as some fascinating history studying those issues.
Seeking Asian Female - I heard a radio program about this, and the movie itself was good but I wish it had gotten a little more into the phenomena at the beginning before turning to the particular story.
Putin's Way - Another amazing Frontline investigative report into Russian corruption.
Good Wife - After a long break, it's back! Hooray!
Bob's Burgers - I could skip the musical one, but the other one episodes this last month have been great.
My book club picked a winner this month with Burial Rites - not something I would normally pick up, but I am really glad I read it. Can't we talk about Something More Pleasant was hard to read (and hard to get from the library). I guess I would like to stay living in denial a bit longer about the issues it confronts.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cold, Dark Days

I spent this month going through some older things on my queue.
The Honourable Woman - I still haven't quite tied up all the pieces of this amazing show -- an intricate and involved story that captures interest.
Black Mirror - Just started these freaky shows about social media - done in the style of the Twilight Zone so each episode differs. So good, but so intense - definitely not good for binge watching, but good, twisted dystopian tales.
We Steal Secrets - I already knew a fair amount from a good Frontline, but this was a good review of it.
Nurse Jackie - This season focuses on the fall. You're still rooting for her, but you know she's got a long way down to go.
The Wire (Seasons 1-3) - I watched this in HD over the holidays but forgot to list it. I enjoyed revisiting this, I find I appreciate more of the details to it the longer I live in Baltimore.
Fresh off the Boat - A fun new sitcom with some 90s rap nostalgia! Just when I was lacking in the comedy department.
Top Chef - This comes in fits and starts on Hulu, so it's hard to stay engaged in the season but it's kept my interest into the final four.
Bob's Burgers  - It's the best! Community gardens, go-kart races, school elections, what's not to love?
The Nightly Show - I want to like this, but I can't get into the group discussion.
Being Mortal - Tough to watch, but worthwhile to think hard about final days.
SNL 40th Anniversary -  Some nice moments, but  probably not worth the time investment.
A Path Appears - Tough topics tackled by celebrities. I just couldn't hack it through all the episodes.
I finished the fantastic Fourth of July Creek - an unusual tale involving the rural midwest featuring a social worker. One of those stories that feels so true to life. It's been long enough since I saw the movie to appreciate Blue is the Warmest Color, a graphic ode to love - bittersweet and beautiful. I just began both Behind the Beautiful Forevers and The Savage Detectives while on a trip, and am not sure I will make it through either, even though they both seem really worthwhile.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Without John Oliver or Stephen Colbert, there's definitely a comedy void. I am looking forward to both Oliver's return as well as the premiere of Larry Wilmore's show. In the meantime, there's a few Oscar movies to watch and winter season starts, but mostly restless channel surfing moments on the couch.
Girls - I was so excited about this premiere - I watched the promo for it more than once, and it did not disappoint.
Togetherness  Seems like HBO's show for people who are too old to watch Girls (which includes me). Good pilot, but hard to say for sure whether it will stay funny or veer into sentimentality.
Evolution of a Criminal played the local film festival, but I missed it so I was really excited to see it on the Independent Lens line-up. This documentary is so well made, from a voice not commonly heard in the mainstream media - an ex-convict (but who's so much more than just that label).
Rich /Hill - This was a slow, meditative documentary on Independent Lens portraying a year in the life of kids struggling with poverty in Rich Hill, Missouri.
Gunned Down: The History of the NRA - A frustrating look at how the NRA's blocked gun control time and time again. It's interesting to learn the NRA started as a gun safety organization.
Charlie Rose - Up late one night, I caught a discussion about Islam and politics on this show and was very thankful that you can hear such thoughtful conversations in such challenging times.
Downton Abbey - I think I am only going to half-watch this season. It feels like they just keep replaying the same plot.
Bob's Burgers - I love this show so much. Tina, Jean, and Louise are awesome.
The Good Wife - Is it wrong that I kind of want Alicia to loose the election?
Without much on TV, and with cold days descending, there was a lot of time to cuddle up with good books. Lorrie Moore's so good at short stories, and Bark was really funny, interesting, and unique. I read Citizen: An American Lyric after seeing Claudia Rankine on the news. The work is raw and visceral - it's hard to read and hits a nerve, but it's worth reading because it hits a nerve that needs to be hit. I am only about a hundred pages into Fourth of July Creek, but it is really good so far as well - lots of unexpected twists even early into it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Fond Farewell

Colbert Report - a sad sign-off, but went out with a star-studded bang! While I will miss it, I look forward to the new spin off starting, the Nightly Show, and Colbert's return next year.
Top Chef - The new season in Boston's pretty good so far. They even said something positive about a vegetarian dish!
Bob's Burgers - You can't go wrong with a dark take on girl sprouts and their crazy cookie sales.
Broad City - Hilarious! This is the funniest show I've seen since Silicon Valley.
Fargo - Extremely well done - despite what you might think about a show based on a great movie, this does it justice. Billy Bob Thornton is amazing!
Californication - Put this on in the background for a bit, but it just feels very dated - I guess the early 2000's were a while ago now. Not sure why it was on for so long other than people missing the X Files.
Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond - A great BBC short series that's quite a feast for the eyes.
Getting On (Season 2) - I was hoping for more from the second season, but this felt a bit re-played. Still funny, though.
Olive Kitteridge - Based on a book by Elizabeth Strout (I read The Burgess Boys a little while back), this was a pretty severe portrait highlighting Frances McDormand as the main character. Still, a bit tough to get through.
Hawking - Having seen the Hollywood version, I wanted to watch the real version that got a bit more into the science and knew I could count on PBS to do that.
Fronline - North Korea - Similarly, after seeing the fiction fantasy on VOD after all the controversy, I watched the PBS real deal, which was quite good. I am not always good about watching the Frontline about international stories, so I'm glad my interest was peaked.
As for reading, I got through The Bone Clocks but enjoyed the earlier parts of the book much more than the latter parts. I took a second crack at Inherent Vice and made it through this time, making me excited about the movie. It's a wacky ride, and I'm pleased I finally made it through a Pynchon. Finally, I don't usually mention podcasts, but who can resist commenting on Serial? A fascinating and detailed program about the young man who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend years ago in the Baltimore area. I can never resist anything that shines a light on the problems of our criminal justice system.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall Premieres

*Good Wife - I found the story lines pretty interesting at the beginning of this season, but they're starting to feel a little played out now.
*Bob's Burgers - What, only two new episodes and it's November 4?! C'mon, I'm hungry for more!
*Simpsons - For the first time ever I am not really watching the Simpsons. I watched one episode and the opening credits redeemed it -- sort of.
*Blackish - I am usually not one for heartwarming ABC family comedies, but I heard someone compare this to the Cosby's so I checked it out -- definitely worth some chuckles, and worth applauding for taking on race issues head-on, it's not so great as far as sexism and homophobia goes.
*Last Week Tonight - I cannot stop laughing at the dog Supreme Court video. It is so hilarious!
*Project Runway - I finished out the season and was really happy with their choice. I thought the drama around saving the Detroit designer was a bit overwrought.
*Bully - Ok, this may seem awful to write, but for a movie called "Bully" why didn't they delve into much at all about the bullies themselves? I think we can do more about this issue than release some balloons into the air, but it takes wrestling with some more deep-seated societal issues than this documentary decided to review.
*Twin Sisters - Maybe I was too engrossed in my knitting to catch the subtleties, but just watch the preview for this one and you're good.
*The Trouble with Antibiotics - Frontline seems to be recycling a lot of stories this season, and this one just didn't really tell me anything new.
*Mad Men - Finally got around to seeing the new season when it came out on DVD. Not too interesting so far, but still good solid TV.
*The Source Family - Finally got around to watching this one weekend, and it's really as amazing as everyone says! What a fascinating story.
I loved Not that Kind of Girl and knew I would after enjoying the excerpt in the New Yorker. It was a really funny, quick read. I just started The Bone Clocks and it's good so far but I am trying not to read too much before I leave on my vacation tomorrow so I have something for the plane.