The Pandemic Watchlist: Part Two

The Covid-19 Pandemic stopped production of new television shows and new seasons of old programs. This leads to some creativity when it comes to watching something while we work on a jigsaw puzzle.

Political Discoveries on Television

We were late in subscribing to Netflix, so some old series that others loved long ago are brand new to us.

We started watching House of Cards a few weeks ago. We had seen the original BBS series years ago and thought this would just rehash an old idea. This series, starring Robin Wright and the since-discredited Kevin Spacey, puts a new spin on it, however. First, it deals with American politics, not the British Parliament. Second, I finally get to see some of the negotiations that go on in Foggy Bottom. And, third, the writing and acting are consistently excellent. We’re on Season Three and powering ahead to Frank Underwood’s inevitable demise.

Line of Duty, Acorn TV, AC-12We also discovered Line of Duty, a British procedural about Anti-Corruption Unit 12, the Metro Police equivalent of Internal Affairs. We here in the U.S., who have been conditioned to high levels of violence and mayhem in American police shows, are happy to find much less of it here. You can actually watch whole episodes without a gun being fired by anyone.

The series began in 2012 and has six seasons, so there’s plenty of crisp writing, suspense, intrigue and multiple plot lines to enjoy. Metro Police politics can trump the best of intentions. We just finished Season Four and are ready to move ahead.

Cooking Up New Seasons

Midnight Diner, Tokyo StoriesYou can take Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, an old favorite that began in 2016, in short 30-minute bites. It serves up an anthology of human-relationship stories connected by the tiny Japanese diner, which is open only from midnight to 7:00 am. Each episode features a particular dish around which the story revolves. We even get a short cooking lesson at the end. We are halfway through the newest season.

A lot of pasta water has flowed under the bridge since I last watched Top Chef but now I’m catching up with Season 17 as I fold laundry. This cooking competition is a good show for multitasking because you don’t have to keep your eye on the screen to follow what’s happening or read subtitles. This season, a Master’s competition in Los Angeles, brings back some old contestants from previous seasons, so I don’t feel completely out of the loop.

Looking Forward

Yellowstone, television, Kevin CostnerOne of my old favorites, Yellowstone, has just started a new season. My husband doesn’t like this show and we still have plenty of other things to watch, so have not caught up on Season 4, which is supposed be less dark than the previous season—a good thing. It gives me something to look forward to.

This series has re-invigorated Kevin Costner’s career and that’s a good thing, too.

Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy is scheduled to begin next month and it could be fun. Given that the world seemed to end at the end of Season 1, I wonder where they are going with this show. Where could it go?

Giving Them a Pass

We tried one episode of Run on HBO and had no desire to ever watch a second one. Despite some hype and good word of mouth, we have passed on this series. The same thing happened when we tried Schitt’s Creek after several recommendations, only we couldn’t make it through an entire episode before changing the channel.

I have a rule of thumb about the characters on TV shows. If they are so ignorant, sleazy, tawdry, lazy, incurious, and offensive that I would not have them to dinner at my home, I will not invite them into my living room. My mother taught me a long time ago that comedy comes not from laughing at people but laughing with them. So, don’t expect me to snicker at rubes, Rednecks, drunks, addicts, and other unfortunates.

sitcom, laughtrack, laughter, television

Ditto with laughtracks. I will decide what I think is funny, not the show runners. One reason I prefer cable television to network is that cable shows eschew laughtracks. One burst of that canned, phony mechanical laughter is enough to drive me from the room.

Some July Television Arrivals

TV Watch List, Pandemic, televisionIn the meantime, we can check out some new things and some new seasons on television in July:

  • The Alienist: Angel of Darkness: “Sara has opened her own private detective agency and is leading the charge on a brand-new case. She reunites with Dr. Kreizler, the formidable alienist, and John Moore, now a New York Times reporter, to find Ana Linares, the kidnapped infant daughter of the Spanish Consular.” The first season was dark and somewhat gruesome but intriguing.
  • Hanna: Season 2:In equal parts high-concept thriller and coming-of-age drama, HANNA follows the journey of an extraordinary young girl raised in the forest, as she evades the relentless pursuit of an off-book CIA agent and tries to unearth the truth behind who she is.” We enjoyed the first season: lots of action and suspense.
  • Warrior Nun: As a recovering parochial school student, the juxtaposition of these two words sends chills down my spine. But think Buddhist nun. “A young woman wakes up with a divine artifact in her back, and gets caught in a war between the forces of Heaven and Hell.”
  • Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi:
    “Host Padma Lakshmi takes audiences on a journey across America, exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups, seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today”
    .Love food? Like Padma from Top Chef? What could be bad?

To Go or To Stay

Movies theaters will be opening soon, but there is no film I want to see so much I would sit in a crowded theater. Besides, it’s hard to eat popcorn with a mask on. I’ll stick to television for a while yet.