Daily Archives: August 23, 2020

Pandemic Binge Watching Part Two

I wrote up the first post about the shows we have binged during the pandemic, thinking I had this covered and that I had gotten them mostly in chronological order.

And then, of course, I kept remembering other things we had watched.  Like, a lot of things, which proved my ordering not very chronological at all.  So here, in part two, the things I missed in part one.

I am forgetful at times, but I think I am also a victim of the 2020 news cycle where there is some new horror every 15 minutes.  This is the only way I can explain having forgotten Tiger King, which was pretty much the seminal shared experience of millions of Americans of the “everybody stay home and watch TV” era in which we now live.

So you’ve probably seen this.  Or if you have not, you’ve probably sworn you’ll never watch it.  I get it.  It is an eight episode train wreck of people who, at times, have significant insight into other people, but a complete blind spot to the over the top crazy they themselves manifest.

The main problem is that it feels like they signed a contract for eight episodes and found they only had about five episodes worth of crazy on the main story thread.  So they went looking for some additional crazy… which wasn’t all that hard to find in the world of big cats.  As far as I can tell the whole Doc Antle thread had nothing to do with anything other than spectacle, but there it was.

Good for:  Really, nobody, but once you get past episode 2 you probably can’t stop. And it may end up becoming a touchstone, a point of nostalgia, for those early days of the pandemic when we thought we knew what the hell was going on.

A psychological thriller murder mystery, where a young girl is found dead in a forest where two kids went missing 30 years earlier.  Everybody seems to have a dark secret they aren’t sharing.  A good atmospheric tale, though things do seem to be spinning out of control… and then comes the big reveal.

Good for:  People who are too good at solving TV mysteries based on the fact that the most famous actor that is a suspect inevitably did it.

This was recommended by our neighbor across the street who came over to borrow some… sugar I think… or flour… something cliche… and started talking about what people watching on TV now that we were all stuck at home.  Look, we were desperate for any guidance.  They are really the most wholesome family, full on Cleavers, so they were not biting on Tiger King.  But they did like Outer Banks, though there were some bad words, so it was a bit risque.

It starts off okay, it is about a missing treasure, and some high school kids who look like they are closing in on 30 and there is a whole Veronica Mars “rich kids vs poor kids” dynamic and things kind of start spinning out of control.  But the scenery is very pretty, as are all the too old for high school “kids.”  Very light fare that won’t make you think too hard.

Good for: Somebody who wants an action based, southern coastal 90210 maybe?

Warrior Nun – Netflix

Dead orphan is brought back to life by a holy relic belonging to an order of ninja-nuns who do battle against evil unseen to most of us for the Catholic church.  Only, the order would like their relic back please, so she needs to sign up for the cause or return to her previously dead status.  Oh, and there is an corporation that may or may not be evil trying to create a portal to heaven and an archbishop… or was he a cardinal… I forget… who wants to be pope and who is probably evil as well.  Also, about twice as many coincidences than the human mind can generally accept before going all skeptical.

Still, fun enough, not too deep, and everybody is young and attractive and in swanning about in sunny Spain.  You can guess what is going to happen next most of the time, but we watched the whole thing.

Good for: Somebody for whom Dan Brown novels are too mired in detail.

Peaky Blinders – Netflix

Technically we started watching this pre-pandemic, but finished it up after we were all staying at home, so I am counting it.  Good performances, based somewhat on reality, gets into the state of England in the interwar years, with the BUF and all that.  I tend to be somewhat less enthusiastic about shows where brutal criminals are cast in a sympathetic light, but they are also a product of their environment as well.

Good for: Anybody who wanted The Sopranos set in England in the 20s and 30s.

Perry Mason – HBO

Perry Mason was a staple of afternoon TV reruns in my youth and a cornerstone of early television, so there was a bit of a risk trying to start it over again.  But HBO did a credible job of it.  If Perry Mason was an MCU super hero this first of no doubt many seasons would be his origin story.

Set in 1931, with the Great Depression started and prohibition still in place, the series is alive in gritty details.  Everything is weathered and dirty and a bit sweat stained, just like Los Angeles for real, and the people are all flawed.  Perry is a private investigator in a case that will change his life.

The one nit I have to pick with the series involves the “release an episode a week” method of HBO versus the “give them everything at once” system that Netflix has adopted.  Perry Mason isn’t Game of Thrones, where everybody talks about it in between episodes, so it loses a bit of its edge in the wait between.  But now that it is out and done, you won’t have that problem because you can binge it all at once.

Good for: Gritty crime drama fans, 30s re-enactors, people patient enough to wait until the final episode credits to hear the classic theme from the original show.

Next time: Series where a new season has dropped