A Guide to Entertaining Entertainment in a COVID-19 Catastrophe
For those of us following the shelter-in-place rule for slowing the spread of the pandemic, being on lock down can lead to some unfortunate and regrettable viewing choices. That’s time you’re never getting back!
I feel your pain, so let me help you out.
Here is a listing, in no particular order, and quick spoiler-free review of shows, movies and documentaries that are actually worthy of your time and are sure to entertain you for hours (if you have tastes as refined as mine – your results may vary):
- The Mandalorian – Yes, the recent Star Wars Trilogy sucked and disrespected a GREAT and groundbreaking science fiction empire, and yes, the spin-off movies also missed the mark in retaining the spirit and energy of the Star Wars legacy. But the first season of The Mandalorian gets it right. The show’s runners, writers and directors are true fans and truly skilled – it shows! Enjoy this throwback to the Western and Sci-Fi serials that inspired George Lucas’ original Hero’s Journey story. Plus, you don’t even have to be a fan to follow the story!
- The Dark – This German-based gem is intriguing, heavy, and unpredictable – a tough mixture but they get it right! Starting with the gut-wrenching effects on small town families rocked by recent cases of missing children, we find that there is more going on here than meets the eyes. Two seasons that keep upping the stakes and never insults your intelligence. The story is amazingly crafted (no plot holes here), the acting is true and the tone is pitch perfect!
- The Good Place – Shifting from the heaviness to a great, thoughtful and thought-provoking comedy, The Good Place is a hell of a good time! A comedy show that deals with what it means to be human, with everything we aspire to be but not flinching away from critiquing what we often actually are. The intelligence and balls it takes to humorously delve into ethical philosophy, moral ineptitude, self-doubt and personal potential without getting preachy is such a well-executed balancing act that you almost miss the message of love until it’s got you by the heart! Four seasons of amazing!
- The Last Dance – Yeah, everybody has been talking about it with damn good reason! Not just for basketball fans, not just for Chicago Bulls’ fans, not even just for Michael Jordan fanatics – this docuseries is a lesson in passion for your craft, commitment to seemingly unattainable goals, leadership vs. ego, team vs. individual, management vs. loyalty, and power of inspiration over challenges. What we can achieve when we support each other the right way, for the right reasons; what we can destroy when ego interferes with judgement; what we learn about ourselves when we look back at what we were able to accomplish…these are your takeaways whether you’re the next generation of athletes, or the leader your office looks to with trust, or you’re the one running a business. Excellently produced as ESPN is wont to do!
- The Umbrella Society – A different kind of team here. More like a family … more like a family with super-powered issues! If you’re needing super hero escapism with the end of the current Marvel Studios output and nothing but crappy DCEU fare out there, then try out this show. The producers keep the flavor of an independent comic and keeps the mystery of what happened in the past and the future without sacrificing story content in the present. Only one season so far, but it proves — even heroes need a hug!
- After Life – The British comedy from the always daring Ricky Gervais! It is beautifully depressing, tearfully hopeful, rudely insightful and brazenly funny. A show that looks at life, death, love, loneliness, and all the crazy things we do to keep going when there may be no point to it all. To be all those things and still be the absolutely most romantic show produced today is a testament to the unparalleled depth of talent in Gervais! Two seasons of laughs and heartache that is familiar, fresh, silly and grown-up at the same time!
- The Spy – A surprising French miniseries about the real-life Israeli Mossad spy Eli Cohen who is stunningly and dramatically played by Sasha Baron Cohen (that’s right BORAT himself)! The power of his acting displays what a true talent Sasha possess as the central piece in this well produced series. High tension as a man who you know is in a dangerous situation but struggles to keep from losing the one thing that could get him killed and risk the safety of his country…his true identity! Incredibly it’s only six episodes but it packs so much story and peril into each one that it seems double that!
- Sour Grapes – If you are interested in the world of fine wine, if you are fascinated by the skills of conmen and the gullibility of the rich, if you are fascinated by the skills of sommeliers (if you’re even someone who knows what one is), then this documentary movie will dance on your pallet and tickle your brain. It starts small but eventually uncorks an unimaginable true story that can only happen in the world of those greedy for the luxuries of life and too ashamed to admit they are suckers!
- Bloodshot – The one guilty pleasure on the list! Vin Diesel, violence, nanotech, and nothing much else of note! A pretty decent movie adaptation of the Valiant Comics character and story. You probably have never heard of the comic nor the character but what the hell, it’s at least entertaining – Not sure why they chose Bloodshot as one of their first attempts to get the heroes from this company to films but hey gotta start somewhere. I wonder if Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe is as much silly fun…
- Ozark – If you don’t know about THIS show, then you betta get you some IMMEDIATELY! Don’t let the title fool you, this gets as sophisticated as any crime series out there and better written, directed and acted than most. Remember Jason Bateman, the comedy actor and deadpan star of Arrested Development? This is his dark and desperate side on display! Even though Bateman is the star as a financial genius with seriously dangerous problem that drags him and his family into a world they weren’t prepared for…or so they thought; every character has depth, darkness and unpredictability just waiting for a match to light their fuse of dynamite! This show never does the easy or expected. Three seasons and you are always wondering whose luck just ran out! I’m staying the hell out of Missouri and Arkansas because of this show (well, “other reasons” too but you get it)!
I’m just sayin’, if this list doesn’t get you through the lockdown, I’ve got some more for you – just let me know!