Arlo Parks released her second album, My Soft Machine, today. It’s the follow-up to her widely acclaimed 2021 debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams. There is definitely no sophomore slump going on here. The album is full of rich textured mellow beats. I feel like she’s doing something completely different than other artists are doing right now, and I’m here for it. It’s hard to believe that she is only 22 years old.
I’m very much hoping that whenever she has a North American tour to support this album that I’ll be able to see her. Right now she’s touring Europe and Australia and has no North American dates, but presumably they’ll come in the fall. Fingers crossed.
I feel like I’m doing you a bit of a disservice by sharing the song “Devotion” because sonically it’s an outlier and not very representative of the sounds on the rest of the album, but it’s also my favorite song on the album so I’m going with it for better or worse. Listen to it and then go dig into the rest of the album and see what else she has to offer.
This week’s delights are heavy on the music. Some weeks are like that.
Things are in bloom in Baltimore and everything is very pretty. Sherwood Gardens, which is known for its tulips, is pretty much in full bloom. It’s about a mile walk from my office, so I walked over on my lunch break a couple of times last week. Monday there were some tulip beds in bloom, but after a few days of really warm weather things had really exploded by Thursday. For some reason the tulip beds never all bloom at the same time, and it seems variable which ones come up first. Also, by the time all the tulips are up usually the daffodils, hyacinths, and cherry blossoms are gone. This year there seemed to be more overlap than normal, so it was a great time to see some pretty flowers.
Also speaking of cherry trees, my favorite cherry trees are now in bloom as well. The kwanzan cherry trees always bloom later than everything else, but they have these gorgeous full pink blooms that I love. I honestly don’t know enough about trees to be able to accurately identify all the different flowering trees we have around here, but there are a lot. It’s one of the things I love about where I live even if all the pollen is making me want to scratch my eyes out.
The new Broadway show Shucked had its opening night this past week. They invited Tariq, “the corn kid” to the show which is just awesome. So there’s some very cute video of him on the red carpet and giving his review after the show.
I’ve been making my way through the tv show Bluey despite the fact that I am a childless adult, and it is aimed at like five year olds. In a moment of serendipity I happened to put on an episode on Easter that was about Easter, so that was kind of fun even though any episode where Bingo is sad breaks my heart and Bingo was very sad in this one because she thought the Easter bunny forgot about her.
The Jason Isbell documentary, Running With Our Eyes Closed, premiered on HBO on Friday night. The filmmaker set out to make a documentary about him recording the album Reunions, and wound up getting a lot more in the process as COVID hit in the middle of the filming and Jason and his wife and sometimes band mate Amanda Shires hit a very rocky point in their marriage, which they do not shy away from in this film. They had been very open about it during all the press when the album came out, but it’s kind of different to actually watch it playing out on film than it is to just hear them tell about it. It’s shockingly raw and honest. There’s one point where Amanda is reading an email that she wrote to Jason about what was going on, and she’s literally physically shaking because she’s so upset. I do wish that I hadn’t learned that Amanda hates listening to the song “Cover Me Up”. I’ll never be able to hear it the same way again. I had always thought of it as this sort of great love song of them making it through his addiction, and him getting sober because he realized what a good thing he was going to mess up if he didn’t. I gather that’s how he sort of thought about it too, and then seems to find out during all of this that she actually hates it because it brings up a lot of bad memories for her. He still plays it at every show, so I guess they’ve worked through that at least enough. It’s definitely not going to be the same next time I see him play it live though. Since the documentary was shot in late 2019 and early 2020, their daughter Mercy was only 4 at the time. It was fun to see her so cute and teeny tiny again. I thought it was a great film, but as a huge fan I am not an objective observer. I don’t know how interesting it would be to anyone who is not already a Jason Isbell fan or just someone who is so into music documentaries they’ll watch one about anything.
I bought a used copy of the Peter Gabriel album So at a record bazaar a couple weeks ago. For reasons this weekend was the first time I actually got to put it on and listen to it. Man that is such a good album. Not really a bad song it, though I’ve never been the hugest fan of the song “Sledgehammer” even though it’s probably Peter Gabriel’s biggest hit.
And speaking of great music, I heard the song “Break It Down” by Tears for Fears on the radio. It’s such a good song and not one that people ever really seem to reference in relation to that band.
WXPN has a segment called “90s at 9”. Last week they were playing a bunch of songs that for some reason made me think they should be playing a Paula Cole song, and then they did. I very much appreciate that it was the song “Me” instead of one of the two Paula Cole songs that you actually know.
I’ve been enjoying the song “Joiner” by Blondshell for several months now, but finally decided to write about it today because the self-titled album that it’s on came out today. Blondshell is the band name for indie rock artist Sabrina Teitelbaum. This is her debut album under that monkier, though I gather she had a previous project called BAUM that I am unfamiliar with. The album is guitar rock driven, but not in the pop-punk way that is pretty much the only guitar you hear on mainstream radio these days. The video features a woman listening to a discman, to which I had anti-nostalgia if that’s a thing. What a horrible piece of technology that was. Thank goodness mp3s came along and saved us from it. Anyway, if you miss pure rock music go check out the new album by Blondshell.
I saw mixed reviews of this AppleTV+ comedy by Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein starring Jason Segal, Harrison Ford, Jessica Williams, Christa Miller, and Michael Urie. Jason Segal is a father of a teenage daughter whose wife died in a car accident a year ago. He is also a psychologist who has started to provide some pretty unorthodox and probably unethical treatments due to his grief. Harrison Ford is his mentor and colleague. Jessica Williams works with them and was his wife’s best friend. Christa Miller is the next door neighbor who has pretty much been raising his teenage daughter while he’s been MIA as a father, and Michael Urie plays his best friend. It starts off very much focusing on the therapy stuff and then settles into more of the hang out comedy show that Bill Lawrence is so good at. Something happens at the end of the first season that I wish they hadn’t done because it means they are not going to just lean into the hangout comedy stuff in season two like they should. I saw people complain that they didn’t like how delved back into the grief stuff after it felt like you were past it in the show, but I feel like that’s how grief is. You think you’re okay, and then something happens and you’re not. So I didn’t feel like there was the whiplash that others referred to. I just thought it was a great character driven show with a lot of heart. This is all I want from a tv show. Bill Lawrence is married to Christa Miller and keeps casting her in this same sort of role where she is constantly putting down her husband while saying she loves him. Makes me wonder about their marriage a little bit. Also fun fact, Michael Urie graduated from the same high school as me, but 2 years later and since the dumb schools in Plano, Texas are split 9 and 10th and 11 and 12th for football reasons we were never in the same high school at the same time and I didn’t live there when I was younger and we might have crossed paths in a school that you went to for longer than 2 years.
Daisy Jones & the Six
I very much liked the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid that this show was based on. It’s actually the only book of hers that I’ve found to be more than just mediocre despite their popularity. So I was very excited about this tv show. I thought a show about music, which you know I love, based on a book that I really liked. This has a lot of potential. Sadly the show did not live up to my expectations in the least. I thought Riley Keough was very well cast as Daisy, and that’s about it. There are a couple of songs from the show that I liked, but most of them I didn’t think were that great. The show just felt kind of flat and boring most of the time like it was just going through the motions and hit the high plot point so the book without trying to convey why any of the characters would be motivated to do anything they were doing. Somehow I feel like I simultaneously liked it more and less because I read the book because it gave me more insight into the characters, but then made me mad about what they changed or didn’t convey properly. I didn’t really care that they combined two of the minor band characters into one in the show other than the fact that it then made no sense for the band to be called the Six, which made me unreasonably angry. Also, the number of times these people walked into a studio to record without having rehearsed the songs or sometimes even heard them when that studio time would have been astronomical drove me bonkers. Mostly I just hated what they did to Camilla. Her love for Billy was at the heart of that book, and that did not come through in the show. Granted, I think she probably acted in the show more like someone would have actually acted in real life than some of the more martyr like things she did in the book. However, the changes they made really turn her into a different character that changes the heart of the story. I have no idea how this show would play to someone who hadn’t read the book before watching it.
The Last of Us
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this show going in. I’m not super big into zombies or post-apocalyptic survival worlds, so it didn’t seem super up my alley. It was getting a lot of good buzz leading into it though, and I knew my husband would want to watch so I figured I would at least try it out and I could bail whenever I got tired of it. So far at least that hasn’t happened. We’ll see what happens in season 2. They’ve done a good job of making it almost episodic where there is an overarching plot and goal, but then each episode to some degree has been it’s own self-contained little story. They all interconnect to a degree, but at least so far many of the characters from each episode are gone within an episode sometimes two as they either die or Joel and Bella move on. Each story is well told though like a little short story so that they don’t feel like throwaway characters. You actually get a sense of who they are and their motivations.
Bad Sisters on AppleTV+ is about 5 sisters in Ireland who are very close after the eldest sister raised the younger ones when their parents died. One of the sisters is married to a real bastard who is extremely emotionally abusive to everyone, but especially her. The other sisters eventually decide that he has to go, and set out to kill him. You find out that he did in fact die at the beginning of the show, but you don’t know how he was actually finally killed until the final episode. There are also two brothers who run the insurance agency left to them by their father who hold his life insurance policy that they don’t actually have the money to pay out. So they are investigating the death trying to prove that foul play was involved so that they don’t have to pay. I very much enjoyed the show. I feel like maybe it was a couple of episodes longer than it needed to be as I felt like it was spinning its wheels a bit at the end, but I would still definitely recommend watching it. Plus it has some really great house porn. Like I want to live in all of these sisters houses in the Irish countryside.
Extraordinary is a British tv show available on Hulu, though a lot of the actors are actually Irish including Siobhan McSweeney who you will know as Sister Michael from Derry Girls. Here she plays the mother of the main character Jen. They live in a world where everyone has a single super power that they develop at the age of 18. They are not necessarily your typical super powers. Some are quite bizarre. Thus, it’s not always clear what they are right away. Jen is now 25 and either never developed a power or still hasn’t figured out what it is and is very much struggling to deal with that. It’s a fun little comedy with a lot of irreverent humor.
South Side was an HBO show that was set on the South Side of Chicago. It just ended recently after three seasons. It mostly centers around characters who work in a rent to own furniture store and two Black police officers working in the South Side. I loved the first season of the show. The second season got a little less realistic and a little weirder, and I didn’t like it quite as much. The third season was just off the rails and felt like it had a completely different style than the first two seasons. I didn’t care for it that much. The first two seasons are still worth watching though even if you don’t follow through the entire series. And if you can resist chiming in to sing South Side the way they do at the end of the theme song, then you are not me.
Cunk on Earth
Cunk on Earth available on Netflix is an absurdist mockumentary tv show where Diane Morgan plays Philomena Cunk, a clueless interviewer, interviewing real historians about various historical events. They do know what the bit is, but they are meant to answer the questions she asking in a totally serious manner. It’s very ridiculous, but also a lot of fun. There is a recurring bit with a particular song that is the highlight of every episode. There are apparently other Cunk On… series that exist, but this is the only one on Netflix at this point. I hear that some the others are available on YouTube, though I haven’t gone looking for them yet.
Slow Horses is another AppleTV+ show that is a British spy series. I heard a lot of great things about it, but I just couldn’t really get into it. I mostly paid attention through the first season, but I was only half paying attention at the beginning of the second season probably because I was playing on my computer while trying to watch and I very quickly got lost and had no idea what was happening with the plot. Consequently I mostly paid zero attention to the second season while my husband watched it. So I don’t think this show was for me, though your mileage may vary given how much other people seem to like this show.
I really like the band Dawes and have seen them in concert a number of times, but I wasn’t going to go see them this time around because their closest concert on this tour was in DC on a Sunday night. I hate going to DC for concerts on school nights because it means I’m getting home well after my bedtime and am always exhausted the next day. However, back in December the radio station WRNR was doing a contest to win tickets to the show. I entered it and won. Luckily they sent me my tickets before their frequency got snatched out from under them and they disappeared. I think they might still be operating as an online only radio station, but I haven’t really investigated since they stopped appearing on my car’s radio. So I’m not 100% sure if that was just in the immediate aftermath or it’s going to be a longterm thing.
Anyway, the result of all that was that I did in fact trek down to DC to see the concert on a Sunday night. Given my experience driving to DC the previous day, we allowed ourselves plenty of time to get there and of course had no traffic issues and got there in a normal amount of time which put us at the venue almost an hour early. Can’t win. This is why I hate driving to DC.
This was my first time at the Warner Theatre. Every other time I’ve seen a show listed there that I would want to see it’s been on a weeknight, and I’ve never felt compelled enough to go to deal with that. It’s a very ornate old historic theatre that’s very beautiful. Our seats were up in the middle of the balcony, so not the greatest, but I could still see really well because unlike the dumb Hippodrome in Baltimore these seats were actually offset from the seats in the row in front so you were looking between people’s heads instead of directly at the back of the person sitting in front of you. So I still had a good view of the stage the whole time.
As Dawes is wont to do, it was an Evening with Dawes show meaning there was no opening act. They played two sets themselves with a short break in the middle. I’ve seen several of their shows that have been that way. I bought tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter at Wolf Trap later this year and they added Dawes as the opening act. I’m very perplexed by this combination of artists as even though I really like both of them, I don’t necessarily think that they appeal to the same audience in general. Anyway, I was joking that I’m not sure how they’ll ever play for the short amount of time opening acts get since I’m used to seeing them play for 2 and a half hours at a time as they did last night.
I was actually expecting that one half of the night would be them pretty much playing through their new album, Misadventures of Doomscroller. They actually played far fewer songs from that album than I was anticipating, but happily one of the songs they did play was “It Comes in Waves”, which is my favorite song off that album. They played a good mix of music from across their catalog. They’ve post a couple of the other set lists from previous shows that I’ve seen and it does seem like they’re mixing it up a lot from night to night. Sadly the show before mine they played two of my favorite songs “Roll with the Punches” and “Feed the Fire” that we didn’t get during this show. But even at 2 and a half hours it’s unlikely you’ll get to hear all your favorites, so I was happy with what we got.
I did like that Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer, started the second half of the show doing a couple of solo acoustic songs, which is something I had never seen before. The first one, “St. Augustine” is sort of an ode to his childhood and then he played a new one that’s not on an album called “Little Ones” that he wrote for his kids that he has with his wife Mandy Moore. Yes, that Mandy Moore.
All in all it was a great night of music, and I’m glad I did wind up getting to see them one final time before their bass player Wylie leaves the band. I’ll be curious to see what the lineup is later this summer when I see them open for Mary Chapin Carpenter.
No one probably needs me to tell you about P!nk, but she has a new album out today. If you like P!nk, you should like it. It’s full of songs that sound like your typical P!nk songs, but it also features songs where she collaborates with a lot of Americana artists including The Lumineers, Chris Stapleton, and First Aid Kit. It’s not the first time she’s dipped her toe into this area of music. She did a folk album with Dallas Green of City and Colour under the moniker You + Me about a decade ago. She’s also doing some sort of touring this spring with Brandi Carlile. In my mind this all lending credence to my friend’s theory that P!nk will be at the Newport Folk Festival this year. When suggested it, I was like wha? Why would you think that, but then the more I thought about it I was like well maybe the idea is not so outlandish. This album is adding more fuel to the fire that I think she could actually be right. We’ll see. They’ve only announced three of the artists so far. Anyway, here she is with a band that I am certainly hoping will make another appearance at the festival this year.
Last night was my first time back to the Ottobar since COVID. It was also my first truly standing room only indoor concert experience. It was the one I was most reluctant to return to. I love the Ottobar. It is a great place to see a show, but it is a super dive club. It’s old. It’s tiny. The ceilings are very low. Aside from the fact that they leave the back door where you go in open all the time, there is probably next to no ventilation. Aside from the fact that there are fewer people there than a larger club so statistics are slightly on your side, it’s really a COVID field day in there. But I finally decided to take a chance and brave it in my N95 mask. I had a few anxious moments, but I feel like they were more just my typical anxiety of I hate being smushed in a crowd of people and I wish these strangers would stop touching me. I’m glad I went though, and I hopefully didn’t bring any COVID home with me.
Lindsey Jordon, aka Snail Mail, is from Ellicott City, Maryland a suburb of Baltimore. So of course she still has lots of ties to this area even though I believe she now lives in New York and her musical career has reached a much larger national stage. So she put together a five night run at the Ottobar called Snail Mail’s Valentine’s Fest. When tickets went on sale I don’t think there was any indication of who would be joining her across the five nights. At some point they put out a poster that listed all the bands, but there was no indication of who would be playing which night. If you follow me on social media that’s why I kept referring to the openers as “surprise” openers, since you had some clue who it might be. I was there on the final night, so it was pretty clear by that point I was going to see Waxahatchee.
I was very excited to have Waxahatchee on night, but I was also super bummed that I missed Soccer Mommy on night 2. I had plans to see Soccer Mommy at Ottobar thrwarted twice by COVID, and I apparently don’t want to see her bad enough to drive down to DC to see her next month. I’ve also seen Waxahatchee two other times in recent years, so I would have preferred Soccer Mommy. Oh well. I made a calculated decision to go with night 5 even though it was a Tuesday, instead of the Saturday show because of the Maggie Rogers concert on Monday. These are still the complicated COVID calculations I make in my head. I was like if I go to Ottobar on Saturday and catch COVID there, then I will miss out on Maggie. But if I go on night 5 after Maggie then I will probably get both in even if I do catch COVID at one of the shows.
Before Waxahatchee though, there was also another opener who I hated. She was not the absolute worse opener I have ever seen, but she was pretty up there in my rankings. I know Lindsey Jordan has a lot of punk and pop punk influences, so it’s not entirely surprising that she would have someone more on the punk end as an opener, but that was very much not for me. The artist was MJ Dunphy and to my mind it was essentially her up on stage sort of scream groaning lyrics into a mic with a musical backing track except for the one song where she played a guitar. I did not enjoy and was very happy when her set was over.
Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee did a solo set without the rest of her backing band. She was just had Brad Cook, music producer and musician, on guitar with her. Even though I have seen Waxahatchee recently this was actually a very different set. I would say the set was comprised of about 50% new music, 30% Waxahatchee songs, and 20% Plains songs (her recent musical collaboration with Jess Williamson). I really wanted to try and make it to one of the Plains shows. I don’t remember why I couldn’t make that happen, so I was very happy to get to hear a couple of those songs live. I’m sure some people were bummed that she played a ton of new stuff, but I was pleased. A small club like the Ottobar is the perfect place to try that stuff out. She did surprisingly very clearly flub the lyrics to “Lilacs”, which some asshole in the audience felt the need to yell out to her after she was done. It was very clear that she screwed it up, she knows it, we all know. No need for you to point it out jerk,
I had been very excited when I got to the Ottobar. I didn’t actually mean to get there quite as early as I did. I was flying solo because my friend who was supposed to go with me wasn’t feeling well, and I couldn’t find anyone who wanted her ticket. Ottobar is super close to my house though. It’s just over a mile away. If it felt at all safe to do so late at night, I could totally walk if I wanted. Anyway, since the drive is like five minutes I got there at 7:40 which surprisingly was still plenty of time to snag a spot on one of the risers. There are two steps down from the back bar area where you come in to the main part of the club in front of the stage. Instead of just putting two stairs there they sort of built them out and ran them around the corner and all the way down the wall of the club so that there are sort of two elevated platforms you can stand on. Since I’m super short and have a hard time seeing at standing room only shows, I always try to snag a spot on one of them because then I can actually see over the crowd. So I was excited to have a spot there until Snail Mail came out and I realized they had set Linsey Jordan’s mic up in such a way that a pillar was blocking pretty much my entire view of her any time she was singing or speaking intot he mic, which was about 85% of the time. Oh well. Best laid plans and all that.
She did a nice mix of stuff from her two albums and EP. Katie Crutchfield came out and sang “Ben Franklin” with her since she does the backing vocals on the actual recording of that song. Lindsey was saying they have a “Katie button” they use to fill in thos vocals when they don’t actually have Katie Crutchfield there to sing them. Apparently the drummer didn’t actually know it was Katie’s vocals and was like wait what that’s Katie, when he found out she would singing the song with them that night. It was a very unpolished show compared to what I often see, but that’s what made it fun. Katie came back out again to sing the final song, which was a cover of The Killers’ “When We Were Young”. It definitely ranks up there with my favorite concert covers of all time.
In fact I recorded it. I never do that. I never, ever record full songs at shows. I will do a few clips from one or two my favorite songs and that’s it. I don’t want to bother the people around me and make them stare at my phone, and I also prefer to live in the moment and experience things not from behind a screen. I did this one because I knew I wanted a copy of it, and I could do it while subverting my other reasons for not recording. I was standing in front of a wall so there was no one behind me to bother. Also, by that point in the night a lot of people had left because it was very late on a work/school night. So no one was next to me either. I was able to hold my phone off to the side and record while also watching it not through my phone. I posted it to my YouTube, so you too can enjoy. The sound quality isn’t great. I promise it sounded better in the room. You can also tell I never do this since it didn’t occur to me to turn my phone horizontal because I’m so used to shooting things to post to my Instagram stories. I refuse to post to Reels and share from there though because I don’t want to agree to let other people do stuff to my videos, which you now have to do. I don’t know why I draw the line there, but I’m an old curmudgeon who doesn’t want people to be able to do stuff with my content outside of my control. See also one of the many reasons I don’t TikTok. Anyway, here it is if you want a listen.
Last night I trekked down to DC to see Maggie Rogers at The Anthem. Unless it is one of their rare fully seated shows, I will forever and always only spring for the VIP box seats at that venue. No standing in the ridiculously long line to get in with 6,000 other people or then being smushed on the floor not being able to see anything in the standing room only section. I am old and tired and my body is broken. I will take a seat if I can have one because luckily I can afford it. Anyway, when I bought my ticket there was a single seat in the front row of the second level boxes available. If I wanted two seats together I had to buy one in the back row of a box on the third level. I decided I preferred the better seat over dragging my husband down with me. I’m sure he preferred my choice too.
Turns out I really was sitting in the we’re old and tired box. I could see a lot of the people in the other boxes were standing even though they had seats. Not my box. We used those seats we paid for. I probably would have liked to get up and dance a little, but my still screwed up foot would not have appreciated it especially since I am going to a standing room only show tonight and will be on it for hours. Plus, since I was in the first row I didn’t want to be the person who stood up an forced everyone behind me to stand up so they could see since none of them clearly interested in standing on their own free will. I still did some chair dancing and had a grand old time. It was also fun just to be able to look out over the crowd and see their collective movements.
Del Water Gap was the opener. Maggie Rogers was actually in Del Water Gap for a hot second when she was a literal teenager. Now Samuel Holden Jaffe holds the moniker as a solo artist. He did have a band with him, but he definitely kept referring to Del Water Gap as him and not a band, and he never introduced the people playing with him. Other than knowing that Maggie used to play in the band when she was first starting out, I didn’t know much about it. I know I heard a song or two from when they played together off her album Notes from the Archive: Recordings 2011-2016, but I definitely don’t think I had ever heard any of his more recent stuff. I liked some of the songs more than others, but he put on a good performance and got the crowd into it. He did also come back out later and sing one of their songs during Maggie’s set.
Maggie Rogers grew up in Easton, Maryland so whenever she plays the Baltimore/DC area she refers to it as a hometown show. She did say that there were lots of old friends including her middle school math teacher along with most importantly her mom. I always think it’s fun to be at a “hometown” show for artists. This show was pretty much at the beginning of the new Feral Joy tour. She had three nights in Boston before this, but that’s it. The production values have gone way up since the last time I saw her. More money means more stuff. There was a lot more fancy lighting stuff and a big projection screen behind her that there was a camera guy on stage projecting onto. The screen was only in use during certain songs. I have said many times before and will say it again, that I don’t give a whit about any of that. At a certain point I feel like bands begin relying on that to wow the audience instead of their actual performance (*cough* U2 *cough*). That was not at all the case here. I felt like it just augmented the performance and wasn’t the focus of it, which is how it should be in my opinion.
It was a great high energy show with a good mix of new songs, old songs, slow and fast songs and a little bit of storytelling, which I always like. Based on what she was saying on social media ahead of the show, I knew she was going to play the entirety of the new album, but only some songs off of Heard It in a Past Life. It’s inevitable that some of your favorite songs start dropping out of the set list once artists have multiple albums to pull from. I just really wanted to hear “Back in My Body”, and was happy it made the cut. It’s my favorite song from that album, and it was my favorite song of the night. It was always a great show.
I watched this show eons ago but apparently somehow forgot to write about it. It’s available to watch for free with commercials on Amazon Freevee. The show is based on a memoir by Tegan and Sara Quin of the indie band Tegan and Sara. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say how faithful it is or not. It follows them in high school as they move to a new school, start getting interested in music, and start to recognize their sexuality. Each episode is told through the perspective of two different characters, not always Tegan and Sara. I really liked it, though I don’t feel like the plot advanced very far in the course of the season, so I hope we get more seasons of it.
This Is Going to Hurt
This is Going to Hurt is based on yet another memoir. This time by Adam Kay. It’s a British show co-produced by the BBC and AMC. It’s available in the US to stream on AMC+. I kept hearing how great it was, but there was nothing else I was interested in on AMC+ and I didn’t really want to pay for just this show. We finally subscribed for a month when Amazon was having a $2 sale for AMC+ as one of their channels. It was an excellent show and worth paying even the full price of AMC+ for a month. It stars Ben Whishaw as a doctor working on an obstetrics and gynecology doctor in an NHS hospital in 2006. It shows the good and the bad of Britain’s nationalized healthcare. Adam is a pretty terrible person a lot of the time, but your’e always sort of rooting for him. I presume this is a one season and done show, but I would watch more episodes if they ever made them.
The Detectorists is another BBC show that is available to watch on Amazon Freevee and a number of the other free streaming services with commercials. It originally aired it’s three seasons from 2014-2016 but then came back for a 75 minute Christmas episode this past December for some reason. (Right now that is only available to stream through AcornTV). That’s how I wound up hearing about the show. I saw some article written about it because of the new episode. It sounded like some nice gentle humor, and I can always use that. It centers around Andy and Lance, who are metal detectorists hoping to find long buried treasures on local farms. There is also the other members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club and their rivals the AntiquiSearchers. Season 1 was definitely the highlight, but I also enjoyed the rest of the seasons. If you’re looking for some gentle British humor watching some relaxing scenes of people walking around fields swinging metal detectors, this show is for you. It sounds kind of boring, but it is not.
Smiley is a Spanish series available on Netflix. It’s a rom-com centered around Alex and Bruno, two gay guys who are very much opposites but who are both longing for a serious relationship while being surrounded by people only interested in hooking up. They meet when Alex accidentally leaves a voicemail meant for an ex on Bruno’s phone. The show also builds out the supporting characters really well too, which is impressive given that it’s only 8 half hour episodes. I do enjoy opposites attract/hate-to-late romances, but I do wish they done a little more with building up what would actually make them want to be together. There’s only really one scene in the whole series that I feel like actually tries to do that, and it’s not enough in my opinion to overcome everything presented that would not make them a good match. Despite that quibble, it was a show I very much enjoyed watching and would definitely watch more of if they ever made more seasons.
Crash Landing on You
Crash Landing on You is a Korean drama also available on Netflix. I know people love Korean dramas, but this is the first one I’ve ever watched. Linda Holmes from NPR was raving about it, so I decided to give it a try. I don’t know if this is typical of all K dramas, but the episodes were way too long for my taste. They’re all between 75 and 90 minutes long with the final episode being over 2 hours. That’s just too long for a tv episode in my opinion. The story centers around a rich woman from South Korea who goes paragliding as part of a publicity stunt and improbably gets swept away by a tornado that comes out of nowhere and accidentally winds up in North Korea where she is found by a captain in the North Korean army. For reasons he winds up having to hide her in his small village while they try and figure out how to get her back to South Korea. I had a hard time following some of the political stuff going on that was putting people’s lives in danger, but I got enough of it to get the gist of what was going on. I loved the supporting characters, particularly the members of the captain’s troop. It’s definitely a little melodramatic at times, but overall I liked it even though I wish the episodes had been shorter.
Mood is another BBC show. We watched in on some actual tv channel when it aired, so I’m not sure if it’s streaming anywhere at this point. It follows Sasha, who is a 25 year old woman who is sort of a disaster. She’s trying to make it as a professional singer, but her actions and lifestyle are alienating everyone around her. After getting dumped by her boyfriend and kicked out of her parents’ house she winds up getting connected with some social media influencers and then delving into the world of sex work while trying to keep her dream of a singing career alive. There are lots of sort of dream sequences in which she breaks out into song. I had mixed feelings on the show. Ultimately, I liked how things ended and how you get some more of Sasha’s back story that explains a lot of things.
Getting in one final TV Diary post before the end of the year, so that I’ve written about everything I’ve watched or started watching this year before I write my most memorable pop-culture post next week, not that (spoiler alert) any of these shows are showing up on it.
The Recruit is a new show on Netflix. We’re only a few episodes into it so far, but I’m very much enjoying it. I saw a lot of tv critics comparing it to the show USA used to produce like White Collar, Covert Affairs, and Burn Notice. I loved those shows and miss that sort of episodic tv that also had a good season long story arc you were following as well. I get the comparison, though this show is less episodic than those were. From what I’ve seen so far it’s got good action and some decent humor. I do find it a little ridiculous how his co-workers are out to get him from the second he starts the job, but overall it’s a light, fun show.
I Hate Christmas
I am also only halfway through the Netflix show I Hate Christmas, but I already know exactly what is going to happen because this Italian show is a remake of the Norwegian show Home For Christmas, which we watched the previous two Christmas seasons. I think this is the first time I have ever watched a foreign show that is a remake of another foreign show that I’ve previously watched. This version is set in Venice and pretty much has the same plot lines of a woman who makes up a boyfriend because she is tired of her family giving her a hard time about being single and now she has 25 days to find someone to bring home to Christmas. I really liked the original series, and I’m enjoying this one as well. The Norwegian show had two seasons, so I’ll be curious to see if this has another season next year.
So Help Me Todd
Skylar Astin plays a sort of screw-up who lost his PI license and now is trying to get it back while working for his mother played by Marcia Gay Harden at her law firm. He’s always trying to push the boundaries. It’s mostly a procedural. There’s a case of the week and not really any overarching plot aside from his relationship with his family and his ex who also works at the law firm. It’s unfortunate that he has better chemistry with the actress playing his sister than he does with the actress playing his ex who we are obviously supposed to be rooting to get back together. I have literally fallen asleep watching every single episode until the last one of 2022. I have enjoyed it well enough to go back and rewatch it the next day, but it’s also not something I’m going to be crying in cereal about if it doesn’t get another season.
It’s me. Hi. I’m the middle aged woman with no children watching a TV show designed for pre-schoolers. I have heard any number of adults talk about how good this show is. Most of them had kids. Some tv critics who have extolled it have kids but none of the age who would have ever watched this show, so it obviously does appeal to adults. I can’t even exactly put my finger on why. It’s very simple animation. It does have heart to it. I think if I did actually have kids I would want to ban them from watching it for the simple fact that it has to create unrealistic expectations for kids about how their parents should just drop whatever they are doing to play with them at all times. The episodes are only 7 minutes long, so it’s a nice quick hit of sweetness.
Fresh Off the Boat
I’ve been watching Fresh Off the Boat on and off for much of this year. I’m just starting the final season. I’ve definitely slowed down in my watching the last couple of seasons. It’s not that it’s gotten bad as much as it’s just gotten rote. It feels like all the jokes and stories are just super repetitive at this point. I’ll finish it, but the early seasons are much better. I also liked the kids better when they were younger. It’s a pretty decent sit-com though.
I gather that Wednesday was a gigantic hit for Netflix and that lots of people really love it. I thought it was fine. I think Julia Ortega is very good in the role. I just didn’t get super into the show overall. I’m sure there will be additional seasons because it was so popular. I’ll probably keep watching it if there are.
We previously watched and really liked the show Travel Man in which Richard Ayoade traveled to various countries accompanied by another comedian. I don’t think that show is available streaming in the United States anymore, and I’m not sure that we were even able to watch all of Richard Ayoade’s seasons of it. I gather it’s still being filmed with a new host, but again not available here so I don’t know how it is with the new host. Anyway, we recently discovered that some, but not all (and not even consecutively numbered seasons) of Ayoade’s show previous to Travel Man called Gadget Man are available on Amazon Prime. So we’ve been watching them. It’s definitely not as good as Travel Man, but it has some of the same-ish structure and sense of humor so it’s a quick sort of trifle of a show to watch when we want something less than a half hour.
Fleishman is in Trouble
I should probably wait to write about this show until I’ve seen the rest of the season or I guess even the episode that dropped today given how many critics put in on their favorite episode list before it even aired. Maybe it will completely the turn the show around for me to, and I’ll understand why everyone seems to be in love with it. That is except for the one critic who called it boring. That’s pretty much my assessment of it. I’m bored. I read the book. I really liked the book. I am completely and utterly bored with this adaptation of it. Even my annoyance at the characters doesn’t rise to enough of a level to overcome the boredom.
I never watched the original Quantum Leap. I was at the completely wrong age for it when it aired. We have been watching the reboot, but I’m mostly just sitting in the room while my husband watches it. I don’t really care about it at all as evidenced by the fact that I have never gone back and rewatched any of the episodes that I’ve fallen asleep during. I’ve never been super into procedurals. This does have some sort of overarching plotline, but it feels completely inconsequential because the show is over if Sam dies or they figure out how to make him quit leaping, so it has no stakes and I don’t care about it. I will probably eventually quit even bothering to be in the room if my husband wants to keep watching it.