Been watching more TV lately. The new seasons of Outlander and Better Things have finally arrived, with Atlanta soon to follow. But the primary reason for my expanded viewing is that the great Tim Goodman is back, with a Substack that I love. Goodman was the TV critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and then for the Hollywood Reporter, before taking a sabbatical of sorts (details here). The fun thing about Tim's Substack is that he doesn't just post his thoughts on various things (TV included, of course), but he leads the virtual equivalent of discussion groups, with "assignments" and everything (his background in teaching comes through strong). The "assignments" are called "Box Sets" (details here), where he selects a show and we all watch, two episodes a week, and then contribute to a commentary thread. Some really brilliant people are involved, and the discussions are illuminating while creating the kind of online community that is still possible today.
The shows we have watched are Station Eleven and Collateral, which we have finished, and Counterpart and The End of the F***ing World, which we are in the middle of. Collateral was a brief British mini-series from David Hare that aired in 2018, starring Carey Mulligan as a Detective Inspector. I'll cheat here and quote from some of my comments:
I feel silly complaining about how solid and good it is. Lots of great casting, intriguing narrative. Reminiscent of so many excellent British crime/police dramas. But ... and I wonder if it felt this way in 2018 ... so much television today has a kind of flash, both visual and narrative. Collateral felt accomplished, but my viewing habits seem to have changed, so I wanted something more. Something like Happy Valley was so remarkably vicious that I couldn't take my eyes off of the screen. Carey Mulligan does wonders with a rather minimalist acting style.
You can catch this on Netflix.
Station Eleven was an odd one, a recent series from HBO Max based on a novel about a post-apocalypse world (caused by a pandemic ... yes, it was creepy to watch at times). I'd seen a couple of episodes when it came out. Again, some comments:
I confess that when I first watched, I was completely confused, so much so that I was ready to give up on the series. Then my wife explained things, and I decided to give it another chance, and I'm glad I did. My problem with Station Eleven is that I was too confused to get much intellectually, and perhaps because of that, I didn't often connect on an emotional level.