One of the problems with having so many great television series airing on so many different services is that it's difficult to stick with one thing. I regularly find myself watching a few episodes of something, really enjoying it, but then switching over to some other show that looks awesome. The intent is to come back to the first thing but then there is not only a second show but a third and fourth one and before I know it, it's been a year since I sat down with the first show.
This is especially true for me as I have to come up with five cool things every week to write about and I can’t just keep talking about one show. So I’m always looking for a new show to watch and talk about. I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to stick with a series through an entire season before I go jumping to the next one, but it's hard. Last week, I subscribed to HBO’s streaming service and while they have a whole slew of shows I want to watch, I’m trying to stick to just two or three. That’s hard too, but so far I’m making it work (we’ll see how next week goes). In doing this, I’ve not seen as many things as I normally watch, but luckily, I caught a whole lot of cool things last week so I’m borrowing from two things I watched last week but didn’t talk about.
Anyways, it's all cool so let’s go.
Marvel movies are locked in a perpetual cycle by now. A new one gets released every year. Everybody is excited. Everybody watches it. Then they announce a new one and the cycle repeats. Black Panther was different. It was the first Marvel movie to have an African American as the lead hero. It was the first Marvel film to feature a predominantly African American cast, and the first to be directed by a person of color. It made huge piles of money even for a Marvel movie and garnered a lot of critical acclaim. It's now the first Marvel, nay the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture from the Academy Awards.
It's also super entertaining. I loved it in the theaters and we revisited it last week. I don’t know that I would have nominated it for Best Picture but it's still really well made, really exciting, and a real joy to watch.
Avengers: Infinity War
After Black Panther, we just had to watch Infinity War. If Black Panther is arguably the best Marvel movie, Infinity War isn’t even in the running. It is an overlong, bloated film whose plot doesn’t really make much sense upon close examination. Yet, I kind of love it. This is a fan film. It works for me precisely because it is nothing but a fan service. Like so many crossover events in the comics, it's come up with a fairly flimsy excuse to bring all the characters together just to watch them interact with one another. A huge chunk of the film is putting the various groups of heroes who’ve never seen each other in the same room just to have them banter. But it's such fun banter. I loved watching Star Lord feel emasculated in the presence of Thor. I loved seeing Iron Man feel insecure around Doctor Strange. I was enthralled when they all got together to battle Thanos and his minions. So yeay, not a great movie but one I really enjoy watching.
The Awful Truth
A friend of mine recently messaged me asking if I’d seen this screwball comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. I hadn’t but of course I immediately sought it out and gave it a go. Its a good one. The stars play a married couple who through a stupid misunderstanding (isn’t it always a stupid misunderstanding in romantic comedies?) have a falling out and file for divorce. She immediately starts going with an oil man from Oklahoma (and there a great many jokes at the expense of my birth state, much to my wife’s great joy). He gets visitation rights to the dog. The dialogue is zippy, the characters madcap, and its the first film where Cary Grant becomes the Cary Grant we all know and love. Criterion has released a wonderful version of the film which is now up top of my wish list.
This is the other series I’m watching on HBO (the other two are True Detective and Barry which I mentioned last week). It is a Southern Gothic drama based upon the book by Gillian Flynn (who also serves as a producer and writer for the series). Amy Adams stars as a St. Louis crime reporter who returns to her small Missouri town to cover the murder of two young girls. She uncovers dark secrets in the town, in her family, and in her own psyche. I’m about halfway through it and so far it's effectively moody, emotionally dark, and impeccably acted. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
The Doctor Donna
Over the last couple of months, we’ve been rewatching the fourth season of Doctor Who. It stars David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Catherine Tate as one of my favorite companions, Donna Noble. When Doctor Who came back after its long break, his companions tended to be beautiful, young woman who served as a love interest. He fell in love with Rose Tyler and Martha Jones fell in love with him. So it was refreshing that Donna was a completely platonic companion. She’s brilliant too. Catherine Tate is perfect for the role of the wise-cracking, sarcastic, yet ultimately kind companion. Overall, I’d rate the individual episodes she stars in as mid-level. They are perfectly fine for the most part but they just don’t wow me. Exceptions include “Silence in the Library,” which I’d put in my Top-Twenty stories of all time and “Turn Left” is quite wonderful as well. Her season is also marred by the fact that both Martha and Rose show up for a few episodes giving Donna less screen time than your typical companion. I like those episodes quite a lot, but it still makes me upset that so many characters means less Donna.
Complaints aside, I love me some Donna. She remains one of the all-time great companions. She’s also got the saddest departure of any of them. Watching her final episode, “Journey’s End,” I held my wife’s hand as she cried through it, even though we’ve both seen it several times.
American Gods: Season 2
I am a big fan of the Neil Gaiman novel this Starz series is based upon. I also really enjoyed Season One. It's been a rough ride since then. Showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green both left the series after having written about half the scripts for the second season. Following their departure, Gillian Anderson and Kristen Chenoweth both quit. That’s a lot of talent out the door which left me pretty trepidatious, Watching this trailer eases some of that. It looks as good as ever and I have to admit I got a little excited seeing the carousel, which is part of a really important scene in the book. And it's still got Ian McShane in it and I’m always down for him. So here’s hoping it stays as good as I want it to be.