What Are We Watching This Fall?

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Back in the spring I was talking about some shows that Alan and I regularly indulge in (I actually only watched the second season of Catastrophe last week. Oops!) But with our days being fairly low key lately and gearing up to be even more homebodies than ever, I thought I’d talk about TV some more.

Is there anything more wonderful than a good, can’t-stop-watching-it TV show? I contest that there is not. About a month ago we started watching Narcos (or Bad Hombres as I’m calling it now) and blazed through the first two seasons. It fits so neatly into that “Binge-worthy” category. Not sure if I would throw the “prestige” label on it, per se, but it’s pretty damn good. Plus, Pedro Pascal is muy guapo and Pablo Escobar’s dorky dad sweaters and grumpy cat mustache are 🔥 Streaming on Netflix

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I cannot.

The Walking Dead is coming back this Sunday.  Truth be told, I was actually not so furious about the mid-season finale as most people were (I guess me and Chris Hardwick are both schmucks). It seems powerfully uncool to actively be a fan of this show, kind of like Coldplay, but I’ll unapologetically watch it to the end, and I’ll read the think pieces. One complication this Sunday is that I could be in labor and miss it! Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing? Sundays, AMC

Westworld is an interesting slow burn. We’re watching with detached interest at the moment, but I think/hope it’ll be a worthwhile investment. I wasn’t sure what kind of person the concept of “Westworld” was appealing to (because, uh, the Old West cosplay? Snooze!), until it became clear to me that it’s basically the fantasy of living in an open world video game. I could see the appeal in that, if it were Skyrimworld. Sundays, HBO160730-westworld-news.jpg

Last Week Tonight, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and The Daily Show. Seems odd to be talking about non-serialized shows, but we’ve been watching these shows pretty obsessively. Alan is BIG into politics and by and I’m pretty sucked in too. The only way we can sustain in these trying times is to laugh and have our frustrations echoed and validated by people who are funnier than us. While Trevor Noah is no Jon Stewart, he’s actually been doing decently with this election, even though I’d say TDS is probably the weaker of the bunch. Sundays, HBO; Mondays, TBS; Nightly, Comedy Central.

Vikings is another show, like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones where I think after a while the fantasy/escapism overshadows the content and I think “Is this show actually good?” Whether it is or not, we’re pretty hooked, and I like how liberal they are with time jumps. It’s comin’ back in November! Thursdays, History

It’s not out yet, but I’m so excited for The Crown. I am deeply fascinated by the British royal family and royal history in general. I think this series looks super interesting and beautiful. On Netflix November 4

There’s still some shows that I haven’t gotten around to that I really want to check out, like The Americans. I’m thinking that with a baby around I’ll at least have a lot of downtime. AND I’m very stoked that Vulture put out this article about a bunch of good shows to stream. Score!!

So what are you watching lately?

Do You Guys Like TV?

rob-delaney-catastropheThe second season of the British-Irish-American(?) comedy Catastrophe FINALLY comes to Amazon today. I discovered this show last year while browsing Prime one lazy Saturday and I loved it so much I watched all 6 episodes in a sitting. It does such a terrific job of showing a not-quite-functional-but-grown-up-dynamic between two people in a relationship. It’s just a shame it’s so short a series. I’m going to try not to watch it all in one sitting again.

Other than that, I try to keep up with a bunch of shows and I think I generally do OK until I realize how many shows I’m not watching:

Vikings. It started so great and I love the 2nd season so much, but since then it’s slowly declined (I blame the introduction of the French Court; any court set seems to dramatically decrease the production value, but the moody, stark Nordic landscapes are so well done!). Alan and I agree right now this show does a bad job with keeping its main character interesting, and spending too much time on dumb bullshit. Hopefully it turns around. Thursdays, History

Game of Thrones. To be totally honest, I’ll probably keep watching this, but I’ve lost total interest in it, since they’ve veered so far away from the books. I don’t mean to be a book snob. I’m fine with the tv show taking liberties, but to me, certain characters have been ruined for good, and I don’t see how it can redeem itself. And I’m not talking about Jon Snow (if he’s REALLY dead though, that will fuck up lots of speculative canon, no?).Returning April 24, Sundays, HBO

Veep. From the brilliant mind of British Satirist Armando Iannucci (who has a longstanding business relationship with my favorite comedian of all time, Stewart Lee), this show is comedy ensemble acting at its finest, with Matt Walsh as the true gem.Returning April 24, Sundays, HBO

Silicon Valley. This and Veep are a one-two punch on Sunday. A good way to cleanse myself of Game of Chairs. I think the second season was not as strong as the first, but I have high hopes for season 3. Returning April 24, Sundays, HBO

Better Call Saul. Truly the gem of prime cable television right now. I love the slow, deliberate pacing. It luxuriates in letting the story of how Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman so nicely. And Bob Odenkirk is a-maz-ing. Mondays, AMCtumblr_nm25zx77Rt1qbd52ro2_r2_500

Archer. This is one of the smartest and funniest comedies on TV, period. Thursdays, FXX

The Walking Dead. I’ve never had such a complicated relationship with a TV show. Seasons 4 & 5 were weak in my mind. In spite of that, I watched the show while simultaneously resenting it for how much power it had over me (you can’t skip a week with shows like this – or Game of Thrones – not when the threat of spoilers is so heavy). This last season I finally felt like I loved it! Probably seems unpopular to say I’m still a fan of this show, especially after that finale. Unlike Game of Thrones, which is based on slightly more sophisticated source material, I stay invested in this show, and I honestly couldn’t say exactly why. The costumes, practical effects and production design are all better. I tend to like the characters more, at least on a human level (on paper [literally], GOT characters are a nuanced, complex bunch). Probably the real reason I keep coming back is the showrunners’ super manipulative – but effective – storytelling. Maybe it’s not even storytelling per se. Every episode tends to open with a hook, meanders for about 40 minutes, and ends with a cliffhanger. Once I write it out, that does sound pretty shitty. Ultimately it is good, chilling drama. The finale was pretty universally panned, but Alan have discussed it at length and both agreed that it was insanely tense and distressing, and despite the ambiguity of the ending, it was an awesome, dramatic way to end the season. To each their own I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Returning October, Sundays, AMC

There are still so many shows I want to watch (The Americans, being one), but there’s so little time, especially when I just keep watching Arrested Development on Netflix… ✚

David Bowie

bowieI feel like I’ve known David Bowie in some capacity my whole life. I didn’t really know what to make of Labyrinth when I was a kid, but I watched it all the time, and was incredibly creeped out by Jareth. I wasn’t into that hair, and whatever was in his pants. I’m still vaguely creeped out by him. And that movie is still weird (and wonderful), and David Bowie is still David Bowie.

I got lucky. The first Bowie album I ever listened to all the way through was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (commonly known as Ziggy Stardust). To this day it remains the most crucial album in his canon (even when you consider Low and Heroes and yes, dammit even Let’s Dance).

Aside from his wide ranging and far reaching music catalogue, which is filled with so much strange brilliance from end-to-end, I hold so much respect for him as a person. For almost 50 years… He’s always busted conventions, and done whatever the fuck he wanted. Even at the very height of the Berlin period (when he released Low, Heroes & Lodger back-to-back-to-back), when he was releasing some of the most interesting and masterful stuff, his music videos were getting banned in the UK because he dressed as a woman.

And he doesn’t end, or stop, and he’ll never die, because he’s not human. He’ll just.. Fly away one day.

I was lucky enough to see David Bowie Is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London a few years back (not at the Tate, as some assumed). It was a really interesting exhibit which used zone-controlled listening devices, so you were constantly surrounded by the sounds of David Bowie’s voice and music, while looking at actual outfits he wore, or  room-size screens of him as Ziggy, prancing across a stage in platform boots. It made me realize how different he was, and how OK it was to be different, and how much I loved him.

David Bowie, the love I have for you is unreal. Happy Birthday.

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© Andrew Kent

This is The Day

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Two Suns on Tatooine – © Caroline Royce

12 years ago to the day, I was a Sophomore in High School and absolutely dying with anticipation. After months of count-down, my best friend Madeleine and I were finally going to see Return of the King. My dad picked us up after school and drove us to the AMC Southdale in Edina for the 3:45 showing. I remember so crisply racing down the hall to the theater. When we got our seats, I went to use the bathroom and passed the 3 o clock showing and caught a whiff of Howard Shore’s magical score and I was buzzing. Just beside myself with excitement.

Lord of the Rings was kind of my Star Wars, even though Star Wars is my Star Wars.

I was exactly the right age when the original Star Wars trilogy was re-released in theaters for the 20 year anniversary (holy shit. 20 years? And now it’s nearly 40 years old). I was the same age that a lot of Gen-Xers were when they first saw it in 1977. Star Wars was probably my first favorite movie. I barely remember how I watched it, or what it was like, but I got the video box set for Christmas (and my copy of Empire Strikes Back was damaged, but we were unable to make an exchange because Lucasfilm had already obliterated the original cuts from history and the Special Edition VHS were now all that was available. I wouldn’t see the movie again until 2005!). One thing that separates me from the Gen-Xers though is probably my lack of real disdain for The Phantom Menace. It came out when I was 11! Prime demo for the silliness and nonsense and garbage CGI. I didn’t know better. Even now, I watched it again a few weeks ago, and I still have the tiniest soft spot in my heart for it. I didn’t see Attack of the Clones until it was well out of theaters. I was 16, and I really hated it.

I wonder what makes us hold on so dearly to Star Wars as adults. I also wonder if you saw Star Wars for the first time as an adult, would it be as great? I’m saying no. One of the things I discovered about myself recently is that I find it hard to hang onto cozy or special moments while they’re happening, but I always miss them when they’re gone. Why don’t things feel as tangible and special to me anymore? Because I’m not a kid anymore, and I can never get that back. 10-15 years ago, I would be counting down the seconds to Christmas, instead of caught off guard by how quickly it’s approaching (I still have so many gifts to buy! I have to send out cards!).

It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “Walking Distance,” in which a man finds himself going back in time and seeing his younger self play and revel in the summer time. It’s the most profound Twilight Zone episode I’ve ever watched, and I find it difficult to think about, because of how close it hits to home.

Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives – trying to go home again. And also like all men perhaps there’ll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he’ll look up from what he’s doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past.

Interesting piece of trivia: This episode happens to also be a favorite of JJ Abrams. And that brings us to The Force Awakens, which I’m seeing tonight, and I’ve done an alright job of sitting back and letting it take its time in coming. I mean, I never asked for another Star Wars. However I think the hype and anticipation is more exciting than the movie will be. It feels like being a kid again. Knowing that something is coming that I haven’t experienced yet. That’s a feeling I so rarely get to feel anymore. However good the movie ends up being, I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling a little more empty, knowing that that anticipation is now gone.

I wish I could go back in time sometimes, and just be more present in my body, and look around and remember everything I can. That’s why I’m grateful for the medium of film, that I’ll always have this little thing that’s stuck in time and will always be the same (except for Star Wars which we’ll probably never see in its original form again — I can barely remember it). We might have a slightly unhealthy obsession with nostalgia, but it’s how we connect with our younger selves… Back when we were more optimistic, more raw, more impressionable. Every December 17 I take a minute to remember that afternoon, which is the least I can do for my younger self, to keep a memory alive of when I was so emotionally present and seeing my favorite movie franchise come to a close.

Tonight I look forward to a new beginning.

Ellie Sattler Style

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My little sister Addie is obsessed with Jurassic Park like I am Skyrim (she at one time had the soundtrack on cassette and listened to it in her car). On Monday night she and her boyfriend had people over to watch it and eat lots of food and drink beer, and she wouldn’t stop… Admiring Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and her style. I’ve always thought Dr. Sattler seemed kind of endearingly irritating. Like, I’m amused by how much I’m annoyed by her. I told Addie, “Hey, if you like her style so much, why don’t you make a blog post about how to dress like her.” But she doesn’t have a blog, and I do, and while this is seriously way out of range of my preferred style (if we’re going early nineties, I’ll take grunge I guess) I figured “why not,” and seeing how we have a new movie coming out this weekend, it seemed appropriate.ellie_sattler
I did tell her: you’re going to find most of this stuff at LL Bean, and I was right. The Shorts, Tank-Top and Button-up are all there. The Sunglasses are at Target and the Boots I found on Zappos. Don’t forget to have a messy ponytail and do weird stuff with your mouth.

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