History, location, and religion aside, the Wikipedia disambiguation page for “Babylon“ has 52 entries under “Arts and entertainment” — 26 of which are songs (including one by David Gray that I rather like). Two entries, a novel series and an anime series (which I binged last night), link to the same page because they refer to the same very interesting (very dark) story.
By interesting (and dark) I mean it’s about good, evil, and whether the right to suicide is a good thing. The battles here are mainly intellectual and spiritual. A key point for the characters is the question: what is good; what is evil?
I also recently watched Jupiter’s Legacy on Netflix (Meh!), and I want to offer props to the most recent episode of Grown-ish, which I thought was compelling, well-done, and worth seeing.
Last time on TV Tuesday, I ran out of time to write about a collection of sitcoms I’ve been watching that are all produced by, sometimes written or directed by, and in one case even starring: Kenya Barris.
His first creation, the family sitcom Black-ish, is probably the most well-known. That show has a spin-off, Grown-ish, as well as a prequel, Mixed-ish. He also has a family sitcom on Netflix, #blackAF, in which he stars as a fictional version of himself.
I really like these shows, in part because they’re pretty good — fun and funny with good characters — but also because I think it’s so important for us white folks to sometimes just STFU and listen to Black voices. Most of these shows make deliberate attempts to reach out and share something important.
For me, one of the challenges of writing a blog post is coming up with a title. A scan of my Index shows I like short and punchy (with a dash of clever if I can manage it), and I’m not above using puns (in fact, quite love them). I wanted to call this Channel Surfing, but I’ve already used that title. (In retrospect, I should have called that one TV Triple. If only I’d known.)
Earlier this year I read a lot (see: this, this, this, or this). Lately I’m watching more TV, trying to whittle away at various watch lists. (For a retired guy, I have a lot of TODO lists. Lists on multiple ebook platforms, lists on multiple video streaming sites, household lists, personal lists,… I even have a list of local breweries to try.)
Here’s a list of what I’ve been watching lately. And a cutaway about cutaways.
Holy Hercules! I have a new standard for awful storytelling. My memory is mercifully short, but last night I suffered through the worst adaptation of a good novel that I can remember. As a story, it was utter trash, but as an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, The ABC Murders, I need stronger words than “appalling abomination” or “total travesty” (“grim perversion” is a good start). It was breathtaking in how it managed to corrupt every single aspect of the novel.
From start to finish, it was the diametric opposite of the original and a revolting cruel mockery of Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot. The writing, the directing, the cinematography, the casting, the sets — each hawked a giant loogy in the face of source material.
Even casting John Malkovich as Poirot was a misstep.
Nurses are awesome!
For most of my life I’ve claimed I’m not someone who gets bored. I have too many interests to ever be bored in the usual sense, and there is always new territory to explore. I love trying new restaurants, new authors, and new TV shows.
The Yin to that Yang are the beloved favorites I visit again and again. There are eateries I frequent and authors I re-read. In part because there are menus to explore (and which change) and words and ideas that take repetition to fully understand and appreciate.
But I tend not to re-watch TV shows except in some special cases.
Going back quite some time, my posts about CBS’s NCIS, or its spin-offs, all express disappointment. I gave up on the spin-offs long ago, but their parent show (itself actually a spin-off of JAG, another show I loved) has retained a favored spot in my heart despite my growing disappointment with it.
That I let three episodes accumulate before I got around to watching says something about my disengagement. That I liked the two episodes of Bull more than any of the three NCIS episodes says even more.
What I’m trying to figure out now is how much of this is me and how much is the show. Some of both, for sure.
While broadcast TV seems more and more of a wasteland to me, I decided to check out a new show on NBC, Mr. Mayor. I’ve been re-watching The Good Place (again; such a good show), and I’ve long been a fan of Ted Danson’s work. When I saw he was in a new comedy I figured it was worth checking out.
I think I’ve mentioned I like to approach new work as uninformed about it as possible (I actively avoid trailers and reviews of things I haven’t seen). So when the first episode began and I saw it was another series from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (who brought us 30 Rock), my interest skyrocketed.
On the other hand, so did my expectations.
With the distraction of the election, on top of the distraction of the pandemic, my note pile has started to accumulate again. I’m way behind on my “Fall Clearance” plan to either finally write the posts or throw away the notes. (The issues I’ve been having with my laptop’s WiFi incompetence haven’t helped.)
Between winter and social distancing, I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on reading. I’ve also been catching up on TV shows I wanted to either check out or re-watch. There have been some new shows I liked so much the first time that I wanted to see them again.
So for this TV-Tuesday I’m channel surfing over all those shows.
A week ago Sunday I stayed up late binging Solar Opposites. This Sunday I stayed up to 4:00 AM binging Upload, a new comedy from Greg Daniels (just released on Amazon Prime). In both cases, my intent was to check out just an episode or two, but in both cases I couldn’t stop watching.
Solar Opposites was more like a fun party I didn’t want to leave (I’m a night owl, anyway). Upload, likewise, was a delight I didn’t want to end, but I was also seriously sucked into a really good story. I am very much anticipating season two.
I don’t hand out Wow! ratings lightly, but Upload just might rate one.
Sunday I binged through all eight episodes of Solar Opposites, a new cartoon from Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan. It was originally created for Fox, but shelved. Now it’s on Hulu, released just last Friday (May 8).
Roiland is well known to Rick and Morty fans as, not only half the creative team (along with Dan Harmon), but as many of the voices, in particular both of the titular main characters. (Apparently considerable drinking and ad-libbing goes on during voice recording.) In Solar Opposites, Roiland restricts himself to just one main character.
If you like Rick and Morty, you’ll probably like Solar Opposites.