halt and catch fire

Halt and Catch Fire was an AMC series that ran four seasons, from June 2014 through October 2017. That it lasted long enough to get 40 episodes is notable in itself. The premiere episode gathered 1.2 million viewers, which might sound like a lot, but, as Wikipedia notes, "It was the least-watched drama series premiere in AMC's modern history". It didn't get better. Wikipedia again: it "was the only episode of the series to surpass one million viewers during its initial broadcast." AMC gave it a second season ... the ratings were worse. They gave it a third season ... again, the ratings fell. Why not give them a fourth season? The two-part finale drew 394,000 viewers. (Time shifting raised the ratings a bit.)

We watched a couple of episodes when it began in 2014, and gave up soon afterwards. AMC was riding high ... Mad Men still had a season to go, Breaking Bad had just finished, and ratings giant The Walking Dead was rolling strong. Legend now says that those first two shows were a reason why Halt and Catch Fire got off to a poor start, for the damaged anti-hero was the standard of the day. Halt and Catch Fire, which told the story of the personal computer revolution and subsequent move to the web, had such an anti-hero, Joe MacMillan, a charismatic entrepreneur who had a knack for bring people into his orbit. There were two problems: Joe wasn't as interesting as Don Draper, and Joe was the least interesting of the main HACF characters. So no one was watching, and critics were only moderately impressed ... the Metacritic score for Season 1 was 69.

But then something happened. Novice series creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers got their feet wet and seemed to better understand what they had. What they had was a strong ensemble cast: Lee Pace as Joe, Scott McNairy and Kerry Bishé as a married couple involved in tech, and Mackenzie Davis as a wunderkind programmer. In particular, they figured out that the most interesting relationship on the show was between the two women, Donna Clark and Cameron Howe. For two seasons, the two worked together, creating a business, fighting industry sexism, and establishing a basis for a much better series. When they fell apart (most of Season 4), it was heartbreaking, because we loved them together. By that time, though, all of the characters had depth, all of them interested the audience, even Joe MacMillan. Side characters added to the mix, and the real-life history fascinated, as our characters found themselves on the cutting edge time and again, only to be cut out, again and again.

For Season 2, the Metacritic score was 73.

For Season 3, the Metacritic score was 83.

For Season 4, the Metacritic score was 92.

I don't know, but this seems like a pretty big turnaround. And it's why, two years after the series ended, we watched all four seasons on Netflix over the course of just over a month. And now, Halt and Catch Fire goes on my life of series I can recommend. The improvements, after the big one between the first two seasons, were gradual. But they were impressive, and with a satisfying finale, I'm willing to say that it was worth getting through that first season. Check it out on Netflix.


top three of each year

I've been spending a little time at the Letterboxd website ... this is what happens when you're retired, I guess. A couple of fellows from Germany uploaded a list of their top three films of each year, and I got inspired enough to create my own list. It starts in 1924 and goes through 2018. Two years (1926 and 1929) only got two movies, so the entire list is comprised of 283 movies. The thing that interested me the most was the recent films, because when I make Top 50 lists or whatever, I always end up with lots of old movies and not enough new ones. By forcing myself to pick three from each year, I was able to give recent years some space. So, to take a couple of years at random, from 2018, Black Panther, Roma, and Springsteen on Broadway made the list, while 2005 offered A History of Violence, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, and Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Top three from 1924? Sherlock, Jr., Greed, and The Navigator (lots of Buster Keaton in the silent years).

You can check out the list here:

Top 3 of each year, 1924-2018


euphoria

There is a lot of excess in Euphoria. At times it is the best of shows, at times it is the worst, at times it is both simultaneously. It demands our attention ... the only way to avoid it is to refuse to watch it in the first place. Metacritic collates the reviews for Euphoria and assigns a rating of 67 out of 100, meaning "generally favorable reviews". But of the 25 critics it includes, only 14 give positive reviews. 10 are mixed, and one is negative. Tim Goodman wrote that Euphoria featured "An early career-defining performance from Zendaya, who is an absolute revelation here; a similarly fantastic breakout performance from trans actress and model Hunter Schafer in her first major role; and strong work from [Sam] Levinson, who created, wrote and directed (five of the eight episodes), getting the vehicle that emphatically announces his arrival." Jen Chaney wrote, "What I can’t ascertain after watching these initial four episodes is whether all the nudity, drug use, and sometimes violent sexual activity is justifiable.... I also find while watching Euphoria that I can’t stop myself or look away." And Willa Paskin said "Euphoria frames itself as showing us the real experiences no one else has the heart to show, the unvarnished, gnarly truth, and there’s something sticky and queasily self-punishing about this vision of a world where everyone is empty and miserable and they’re only 16." All those critics were writing about the same show, and none of them are very far off target, if they are at all. Euphoria is a mess. I couldn't get enough of it.

At first, I assumed that this was a career-changing performance by Zendaya, and it's true, she is playing against her image here. But in truth, I had barely heard of Zendaya before the series began, and she is so great as Rue that I thought she was some out-of-nowhere acting savant (she is, of course, already a big star, a 22-year-old woman out of Oakland who has starred in a Disney series, appeared on Dancing with the Stars, played Spider-Man's girlfriend in the most recent movie version of that story, and sung on charting singles and albums). So I didn't know her, but nonetheless, she is great.

The out-of-nowhere star I thought Zendaya was does exist on Euphoria, though. Her name is Hunter Schafer, making her acting debut. Schafer, who is herself a transgender woman, plays Jules, a transgender teenager. The relationship between Rue and Jules is delightful and intense and wonderful ... and also toxic, as befits this damn show. The shippers are out in force for "Rules", and it's true, virtually every scene between the two is heartbreaking. They also break our hearts in solo scenes, as when Zendaya/Rue goes online to ask, "Can a bipolar person tell that they’re bipolar?"

There is a lot of fine acting on Euphoria ... I don't know who to start with after the two stars. But one person in particular deserves special mention, Angus Cloud, who like Zendaya is from Oakland and like Schafer had no prior acting credits. Cloud's drug dealer, Fez, develops into the cliched dealer with a heart of gold, but Cloud makes it seem real, and he has become a fan favorite.

I said the show is a mess, and it is. It is far from perfect. The entire plot line surrounding Nate, a star quarterback who is a standard villain, is dumb. But just when you think you're going to give up, Euphoria pulls you back in.


world cup announcers

I usually get around to discussing the announcers as the World Cup gets closer to the end. This year is the first where I have only watched in Spanish on Telemundo, so I don't have anything to say about the English-language announcers, with one exception to come later. As I always say when I'm giving opinions on Spanish-language announcers, my take should be filtered through my less-than-perfect command of the language. Having said that, I get better with every year, and I feel more confident about my comprehension nowadays.

I have a World Cup blog I have used in previous tournaments. It remains online as an archive, but I haven't used it in 2019. I have very few readers of this blog, but the size of my audience is Twitter compared to the 1 or 2 people who stopped by the Cup blog. So I've just moved my occasional comments to this regular blog.

Also, while I'm not proud of it, the truth is I don't give as much of my attention to the Women's Cup than I do to the men's. Oh, I spend more time than most, I suppose ... I'd be surprised if very many readers have watched a single match that didn't include the USA, or even if anyone has watched the Americans at all. But I don't let the Women's World Cup take over my life, the way I do every four years for the men. One result is that I haven't seen every match ... maybe half at most.

OK, with all that throat clearing out of the way, some thoughts about some (not all) of the Telemundo crew.

As usual, it begins with Andres Cantor, and his analysis partner Manuel Sol. Cantor is the best-known soccer announcer in the country, and he deserves his reputation. If there's a problem, it's that there are many excellent play-by-play Spanish-language guys who are ignored by the mainstream media, which tends to act as if Cantor is the only one we have. Sol had a long career in Mexican league soccer, and has been a commentator for several years now. He has a good rapport with Cantor, and is OK with analysis. (In fact, no one I've heard has been less than OK ... there are no stinkers.) One problem, though, is that Telemundo also has the U.S. rights to Copa América, a men's tournament featuring South American teams. Telemundo's announcers are doing double-duty, and while Telemundo's commitment to the Women's Cup is solid, Copa América is probably more important to them. So Cantor isn't doing as many Women's games as you'd like, since he is also doing the Copa.

Sammy Sadovnik is the #2 play-by-play guy, which is more like #1A with Cantor's absences. Sadovnik has long been a favorite of mine, so I'm glad to see him here. His voice is unique, which means I recognize him immediately, which I can't say for the other play-by-play guys (and thus, they'll go without mention here except to reiterate that all are at least OK).

Besides Sol, the most interesting color commentator is Viviana Vila. Vila worked the men's tournament last year, which was a landmark in itself (Aly Wagner was her counterpart on the English-language side). Now Vila returns, and she is excellent in her analysis. And she is different from almost all color commentators, including Wagner and the various men who do the job, in that Vila is not an ex-player. She's a professional journalist, a fan of the sport, unequaled in her knowledge ... all important qualities, but it is exceedingly rare for analysts on TV in any sport who weren't first a player in the game.

Deyna Castellanos is the complete opposite of Vila. Castellanos is only 20 years old (I still can't believe this, thinking it's a typo or something). She plays for Florida State, which is one of the top women's programs in the country, but is obviously not professional. Castellanos has played for the Venezuelan national team ... she is not a complete unknown ... and she's done a decent job with her commentary during the Cup. (Interestingly, two years ago Castellanos was a finalist for the FIFA Best Women's Player. This was taken as an insult by some veterans, notably WWC 2019 star Megan Rapinoe, who felt it showed FIFA's lack of interest in the women's game to nominate a little-known non-professional over more veteran players.)

The man who I find most fascinating in the Telemundo coverage is Marco Antonio Rodríguez, an ex-referee who has the job of commenting on and explaining referee decisions during the matches. Rodríguez spent close to 20 years refereeing in the Mexican League, and was chosen for three World Cups, where he took part in some infamous matches. It's not that Rodríguez was a poor referee, but he was someone you noticed, and not everyone wants a sports official to be the center of attention during a game. He became known as "Chiquidrácula" due to his resemblance to a character on Mexican TV, a fact I don't think I knew ... I just thought he looked like a Bela Lugosi Dracula clone. Truth is, he was a fine referee, but fans are always looking for reasons to hate the men in black, so Chiquidrácula wasn't very popular. He prefers the nickname "Chiquimarco", as he is a devout Christian, and this seems to be taking with the general populace. Anyway, his analysis of referee decisions has been very good during this World Cup. More remarkable, from my viewpoint, is that he is a fine team member with his fellow announcers, who all enjoy banter with Marco Antonio. I'm sure he's always been a nice guy, but I had no idea, and it's still a bit startling to hear him and his colleagues chatting happily about the match.

Finally, switching for a moment to the English-language announcers, I want to single out Danielle Slaton. Of course, I haven't heard her this time around, but she does commentary for San Jose Earthquakes games, so I'm used to her work, and she is top-notch. Slaton, a fine defender in her playing days, gives solid analysis and works well with the announcing team. I'm sure she's done the same for the World Cup. I couldn't let this post go without mentioning her.


best teen shows

Each week, IndieWire "asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday". (The second question is always "What is the best show currently on TV?") This week, the question was "What is your favorite teen show of all time? Why?"

Among the shows mentioned that I have spent some time with are Friday Night Lights, The Wire, Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Daniel Fienberg had The Wire on his list, and he's taken a bit of flack for that on Twitter, but he makes the case that The Wire was multi-genre, that kids were always part of the story, and that Season Four most definitely featured teens.

The last three would be on my own list of finalists. Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life were early candidates for the Karen Sisco Award (which I hadn't invented yet), shows cancelled after one season despite being great. Buffy, of course, made up for it, getting seven seasons, although everyone graduated from high school at the end of Season Three. Buffy would be my obvious choice, since I taught a course on it at Cal that I think was the best course I ever created. A sample essay topic:

In the introduction to Fighting the Forces, Wilcox and Lavery claim that "quality TV aspires towards 'realism.'" arguing that Buffy the Vampire Slayer deals in "emotional realism." Discuss the presence or absence of "realism" in Buffy, using the episodes we have watched in class ("Angel," "I Robot, You Jane," and "Prophecy Girl") and/or any other episodes you may have viewed from Season One. For this essay, you might want to consider these questions: what does "realism" mean? How do the fantasy elements of Buffy influence the show's realism or lack of same? What is "emotional realism"?

There were a couple of other shows I might have included (I'm sure I'm forgetting something). Two episodes is too soon to tell, but Euphoria is at least getting talked about. Sweet/Vicious was another "Karen Sisco" show that I loved. I liked 13 Reasons Why, but I thought one season was enough and so I haven't kept up. The 100 is my current fave, but it suffers a bit from Buffy syndrome, in that it has lasted long enough (currently in Season Six, with a seventh already announced) that the teens are grownups now. Unlike Buffy, they don't graduate from high school. But there is a jump of six years at the end of Season Four, and there is another jump at the end of Season Five (125 years this time, although the characters were in "cryosleep" during that time and so didn't age physically).

My list is affected by my age ... I was already in my mid-40s when Buffy began. None of these, therefore, are teen shows I experienced when I was a teen. (Don't know what my favorite teen show of the 60s was ... Shindig?)

What the heck, I'll rank my choices. A couple of comments. Claire Danes as Angela Chase in My So-Called Life was REAL ... she was also basically the same age as her character, which isn't always the case with teen shows. Freaks and Geeks may be the all-time Before They Were Famous show. And there are people to this day who refuse to watch The 100 after Season 3 Episode 7. At least, that's what they said at the time.

5. Sweet/Vicious

4. My So-Called Life

3. The 100

2. Freaks and Geeks

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer


deadwood: the movie

I'm on record as believing that the first two Godfather movies are the best films of all time. When The Godfather Part III came out, I didn't think it was necessary, but I was at the theater as soon as it was released, nonetheless. It wasn't as good as the first two, but neither is anything else. Part III is not my favorite movie. But if I'm channel surfing and I see it's on, I usually watch it for awhile, and it's fine, with some memorable scenes. In the end, it didn't need to be as good as its predecessors ... it was, and is, enough that it didn't besmirch the legacy.

In that way, GF III is something of a standard bearer for a work that returns from a greater work after a longish period of time. When something like that comes out, I just hope it doesn't besmirch the legacy.

Deadwood: The Movie has been rumored ever since the series was first cancelled in 2006. HBO supposedly came to an agreement with the show's creator, David Milch, wherein two TV movies would be produced to provide closure (the final episode of the series wasn't meant to be final, although it worked passably for that function). But those movies never got made. Until July of last year, when HBO approved one movie, which was filmed at the end of 2018.

Remarkably, given the long wait between projects, almost the entire original cast returned. A couple of characters had died during the show's run, and a couple of actors died in the interim. But other than Titus Welliver, who was making the latest season of Bosch and couldn't make his schedule work, everyone else was there, even Garret Dillahunt, who played Wild Bill Hickok's murderer in Season One, and then returned in an entirely different role for Season Two (in the movie, he had a cameo as "Drunk Number Two"). The actors have all aged, which was perfect, but the characters had aged, too ... it took place roughly ten years after the end of the previous season.

As the movie began, I was thinking one thing: I hope it doesn't besmirch the legacy.

I needn't have worried. Although Milch is now suffering from Alzheimer's, he got the script written, with the unique Deadwood Dialogue intact. That in itself is enough to make the movie honest to its legacy.

Various characters' stories come to a believable conclusion, while others are properly left up in the air. Nothing feels out of place ... if the movie is more a pretty-good episode than an all-time classic, it is still of a piece with what came before. And it rewards those of us who have waited so long. The last half-hour or so even brings a few tears to our eyes, although Milch has never been one to overdo the sentimentality. When Trixie, with Al on his deathbed, begins the Lord's Prayer with "Our Father, which art in heaven", Al's last words are "Let him fucking stay there".

Here is what I wrote after Season One: "Deadwood Season Finale". A list of great lines from Season Two: "Best Lines". And what I wrote after Season Three ... this is a pretty good piece, if I do say so myself: "Oh Mary Don't You Weep".


catch-22

Earlier, I wrote about Mike Nichols' 1970 film adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch-22. I re-read the novel as I watched the new, six-part mini-series of the book.

Heller's novel, like the Nichols movie, holds up well (and, as was true at the time, the book is better than the movie). Heller combines the horrors of war with tongue-twisting word play designed to demonstrate the circular illogic of the military. Heller's Catch-22 is absurd, violent, and hilarious, often at the same time. While The Military is the ultimate villain, two characters in particular stand out for their essentially evil nature. Aarfy is a privileged social climber who doesn't care about anyone who can't help him get higher up the ladder. He commits the novel's most repugnant action (and gets away with it). Milo is a schemer who turns a job as mess officer into a huge capitalist enterprise. Milo bombs his own base, trades with the enemy, and acts in an amoral way while claiming he is just following the philosophy of capital.

In the mini-series, Milo does the same things that occur in the book, but somehow he comes across more as an innocent savant than a representative of capitalism run amok. Jon Voight's interpretation in the 1970 movie is better ... by the film's end, Milo is as much fascist as capitalist. As for Aarfy, he is creepy, but not really important enough to stand as the worst that men can do.

Women are treated with more respect in the mini-series than in either the novel or the earlier film. The sexism of Heller's book is fairly ordinary for its time, but it's hard to take now, when we should know better. The mini-series mostly solves this problem by making the marginal women characters of the novel even less important. There is less overt sexism, but the women aren't really given anything useful in its place.

Christopher Abbott is a fine Yossarian, but the better-known actors are a mixed bag. Giancarlo Giannini is OK as a jaded survivor, but George Clooney overplays his role and Hugh Laurie is barely there. Kyle Chandler comes off the best ... other than Abbott, he gives the best performance in the show.

Catch-22 is an acknowledged classic novel. If you have never read it, you should. If you read it long ago and liked it, a re-reading will be rewarding, although ultimately I'm not sure it is THE major novel of its era. Meanwhile, the mini-series is more good than bad, but it lacks the lunacy of the novel.


finales: better things, fleabag

You might have heard there's a TV show having its series finale tonight. While you are waiting for it to air, may I offer these two shows for your binging pleasure?

Better Things just finished its third season, and has already been renewed for a fourth in 2020. At first, Better Things was associated with Louis C.K., who with Adlon was the co-creator and writer of the show. After he admitted to sexual misconduct, he left the show, making the third season a question mark. But it has always been a show based in part on Adlon's life, she had already directed every Season 2 episode, and the third season ended up being perhaps the best yet. Adlon wrote or co-wrote 8 of the 12 episodes, directed them all, and, of course, starred in them all. She shines in every capacity.

Better Things is the story of a divorced mom with three daughters and an aging mother who lives next door. Adlon's character, Sam, is an actress in Los Angeles who does voice over work, commercials, bit parts in movies, whatever comes her way. She also teaches acting classes and is able to provide for her family in relative comfort. There are male characters, but the core of the show is and has always been the five women/girls in the family. Adlon and her actresses have created sisters who are believable and clearly delineated. Each has her own good and bad parts, and they aren't necessarily interchangeable. The varying ages of the girls also offers opportunities for different stories: Max, the eldest, who goes off to college at the beginning of Season 3, Frankie, the middle child and the most troublesome, and the youngest, Duke, who is still mostly lovable. Meanwhile, Sam's mom, Phil, is at the beginning of something resembling Alzheimer's. Sam thinks she has to take care of all of them. Her heart is usually in the right place, but she doesn't always do the right thing, nor do her daughters act like something out of The Brady Bunch. They can all be infuriating, but Adlon never loses sight of their core decency, even when they are acting terribly. In this, she is helped immensely by her cast, all of whom were unknown to me: Mikey Madison as Max, Hannah Alligood as Frankie, and Olivia Edward as Duke. Celia Imrie, who I do know, rounds out this great cast as Phil.

The writing is excellent, the direction is excellent, the acting is excellent, and the show gets better every season. I can't recommend it enough.

Here is my favorite scene, from the Season 2 finale ... Max prepares something special for Max's high-school graduation:

Then there is Fleabag, a British series which just ended its second and final season. It felt like Fleabag came out of nowhere, yet it was such a success that, even though Season One ended in such a way that nothing more was needed, when Season Two arrived, we were delighted to find out it was, if anything, even better. There was no way Season Two would "come out of nowhere" ... creator/star/writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge will never be anonymous again. Since Fleabag began, she has done the voice for L3-37 in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and developed the smash TV hit series Killing Eve. Now she's been hired to co-write the next James Bond movie. Meanwhile, as luck would have it, the woman who plays the wicked stepmother in Fleabag, Olivia Colman, won a Best Actress Oscar between the making of Seasons One and Two.

Fleabag is more tragicomic than Better Things. The latter tends to be a bit closer to "real life" than Fleabag, which is both hilarious and crushingly sad whenever the occasion calls for it. The first scene of Season 2 is an excellent example:

Yes, Fleabag makes frequent use of breaking the fourth wall. It works wonderfully, in part because Waller-Bridge has such an expressive face that she conveys multitudes even when she doesn't say anything. We become her partners in crime, so to speak, connecting to the character in much deeper ways than is usual for a "comedy". In one of the most telling moments in the show, Fleabag responds to a therapist's question about having someone to talk to by saying oh yes, and then looking at us and winking ... sadly, it appears the audience is her best friend:

If I had to choose which of these shows to binge first, I'd go with Fleabag, which only has 12 30-minute episodes.

A personal note, which seems appropriate given the personal nature of these shows. My wife avoids both of them, and most similar shows, for that matter. She said Fleabag is just people blabbing. I said it isn't just blabbing, it's emotion, to which she replied that she thought it interesting that I like emotional shows. I recalled the above scene with the therapist, and realized that I have the reverse problem of Fleabag: my friends are the characters in the shows I watch. I feel like I know Sam and Fleabag better than I know the real people in my life.


small world: sipowicz, sha na na, and me

I once wrote an essay for a book titled What Would Sipowicz Do? Race, Rights and Redemption in NYPD Blue. A couple of days ago, the publisher sent a group email to all of the authors, letting us know that the book, which came out in 2004, will be going out of print. As I often do when I get included in an anthology, I check out my fellow contributors, looking for names I recognize. This doesn't always make me happy ... Alan Dershowitz turned up in one of those books ... but it's fun, especially in retrospect, to see the company I once hung out with. In the case of the NYPD Blue book, there was Joyce Millman, one of the founders of Salon, and David Gerrold, writer of numerous books and perhaps best-known for his association with Star Trek (he wrote the Tribbles episode, among others).

One of the writers in that book responded to the email, copying all of us, thanking the publisher for letting us know. I thought that was a nice gesture, and looked him up online, just to see what else he had done. His name was Robert A. Leonard, and the piece he wrote for the book was "Forensic Linguistics in NYPD Blue". Leonard himself is a distinguished linguist ... among other things, he is the director of the graduate program in Forensic Linguistics at Hofstra.

Looking at his Wikipedia page and elsewhere, I found that I actually had an experience with Leonard many years ago, June of 1970 to be exact. I had just turned 17, and a friend and I went to Fillmore West. The opening acts were Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, and Pacific Gas & Electric, who had a decent-sized hit that year with "Are You Ready?"

My friend and I had never heard of the headliners. They had made their mark, though, in a movie which had been released a couple of months earlier that we hadn't yet seen: Woodstock. The band was Sha Na Na:

When we saw them, they were fun and energetic and very entertaining. Later I would learn that the original members of the band were students at Columbia.

I can still remember one song they played that night. Here it is at Woodstock (check out Jimi Hendrix taking in the act around the 1:15 moment):

The singer was "Rob" Leonard. According to Wikipedia, "Leonard spent two years with the band, until he stopped at the age of twenty-one. He left the band because he was offered a fellowship at Columbia Graduate School and wanted to further his education in linguistics."

Yes, my fellow author in the NYPD Blue anthology was the same man I saw sing "Teen Angel" at Fillmore West in 1970.


20 best and rectify

I missed this article in the New York Times from January: "The 20 Best TV Dramas Since 'The Sopranos'". You might have different choices ... heck, the article ends with some of the critics choosing the shows they thought should be on the list but weren't. Many of the shows are obvious: The Wire, The West Wing, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, Mad Men, The Americans, The Leftovers. In this era, when television watching is essentially based on "catching up", you could do worse than to hunt those 20 shows down and stream them, binge them, re-watch them, whatever. In a couple of cases, notably Atlanta, you can catch up and then continue watching, since it's still on.

But there's one show I was very happy to see on the list, a show that no one I know watched, a great show that deserves to be discovered: Rectify. In the article, Margaret Lyons writes:

Watching “Rectify” will turn your soul into a pensive cello song, and your hands into those of an aged person mourning their youth. You’ll discover an old handkerchief in the back of a drawer, behold it briefly in the dusty sunlight, then collapse onto the corner of the bed, weeping at the fragility of all human life — how fallible and wonderful it all is, how damaged and dark.

In my recap of television in 2016, I wrote:

"The best show currently on TV (The Americans is between seasons). Its glacial pace turns away most viewers ... it’s a gift that creator Ray McKinnon has been given the chance to tell the story in full, given the poor ratings. Recently, I decided the show reminded me of soap operas, where it takes months to resolve anything. Except I don’t expect things to be resolved on Rectify. I can only hope that sometime in the future, people catch up with it on streaming, and kick themselves for missing out in the first place. Aden Young, the unknown-to-me star, is as good as anyone, week after week. And this is what Abigail Spencer did before Timeless. If you actually want to take my advice, this is the show to start with.” Since I wrote this, Rectify’s series finale has been shown. There was more resolution than I expected, but even then, it was very much in tune with how Rectify worked. As Aden Young as Daniel said, “I’m cautiously optimistic.” I’ll emphasize this point one last time: Rectify is one of the best series to ever appear on television.

You can watch Rectify on Netflix.