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Billie's Best of 2020!

Happy New Year to everyone! 2020 is finally over, although I just heard yesterday that one of my close relatives has Covid and I spent several hours in a state of freakout, and I suppose Trump could still declare war on Canada or something, but at least this year is DONE, with a capital OMG IT'S OVER, fingers and pretty much everything else crossed.

Doux Reviews is still the center of my day, and thank you to everyone who stops by to read our stuff. And an especially huge thank you to our writers, the Agents of Doux, who make this community of fans what it is. I love you guys.

So – to business. Best of 2020 for me?

Hamilton. I saw it on Disney+ on July 3, and it was such a powerful experience that it stayed with me for months. Those clever rhymes have taken up permanent lodging in my head. I even watched documentaries and interviews and read books about it, including the Ron Chernow biography that inspired the play and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton: The Revolution, which is basically some cool articles and the lyrics with annotations. There isn't a lot more I can say that isn't in my review, but I'm so grateful to Lin-Manuel Miranda for filming the play and making it accessible to everyone who can afford streaming. I just wish it was available on disc so that I could gift it to everyone I know.


The Queen's Gambit. Sometimes I try a show on Netflix on impulse, and that rarely turns out well since there is so much dreck on Netflix. But one afternoon I tried The Queen's Gambit, intending to just sample the first episode, and I literally couldn't stop until I had watched all seven. And then I had to make my son Daniel watch it, too. And then I reviewed it. And then I bought the novel it was based on (by Walter Tevis), and I can tell you that it's a faithful, practically perfect adaptation. This miniseries is beautifully written and acted, an exceptionally engrossing period story about a fascinating subculture. Highly recommended.


Schitt's Creek is a show I never thought I'd like, much less love. I'm not into sitcoms (with rare exceptions) and the premise – super rich family suddenly loses everything – doesn't do much for me. But I tried it on impulse, and you know what? Schitt's Creek is special. Yes, it's simply funny, in an interesting, droll and often unpredictable sort of way; Catherine O'Hara's emoting, costumes and wigs in particular make me snort laugh, and I've started to use her Moira Rose voice when I'm talking to my cats.

But what this series becomes is the special part. It's about how losing everything material in life allows the Rose family to discover their core selves, and it turns out that they're really good people. Parents Johnny and Moira become genuinely involved with the town and its residents, and their previously spoiled adult children David and Alexis manage to create fulfilling careers for themselves out of nothing while embarking on meaningful love affairs. Someone, I can't remember who, described Schitt's Creek as a "homophobia-free zone;" an apt description.

The first couple of seasons are light fun and don't really signal what is coming. The turning point for me is the second season finale's joyous party in Mutt's barn. In the final seasons, the series keeps getting better and better with several memorable, beautifully written and acted episodes that touched me to tears. (Patrick, and the way David reacts to Patrick, keeps making me cry, and I mean that in the best possible way.)

Give Schitt's Creek a chance. It's so, so, so much better than it looks from the outside, and the series ends beautifully.


Outlander. If you've spent any time here at Doux, you've probably noticed that I keep going on about this show, so I'll acknowledge that my obsession with Outlander is still in force, I liked season five better than four, and move on.

No, wait. How about if I just quote my friend Josie Kafka? "Billie gently nudged me to give Outlander another shot after I’d bounced hard off of it when it first premiered. I’m so, so glad she did, since the show is so much more than any description could indicate. It’s not a romance, but it is. It’s not historical fiction, except it is, even when it’s not. It’s not science fiction, but it’s not not science fiction. What is it? Lush, emotional, and starring two of the sexiest humans I’ve ever seen on screen."

What else did I enjoy during this worst year ever?


Supernatural ended its record-breaking fifteen season run (all of which I've reviewed) with a touching episode that went back to its roots, saving people and hunting things. The Good Place came to an exceptionally moving close, a fitting end to an extraordinary series. I am currently enjoying the fifth season of The Expanse, which is just the sort of hard science fiction I adore. The Boys managed to impress me by being crazier and gorier than pretty much anything else I can make myself sit through, plus, points for Karl Urban, who is wonderful in anything. I liked Star Trek: Picard and I'm still enjoying Star Trek: Discovery; I think I'm one of those people for whom there is never too much Star Trek.

On a less-than-satisfactory note, the final season of The 100 was a huge disappointment, and that's an understatement. It's so frustrating when showrunners don't understand what works on their own show, isn't it? The pandemic kept Supergirl and The Flash from finishing their seasons as they intended, and it showed; Supergirl has only one more season, and honestly, I think The Flash should come to a close, too. Sadly, I used to love The Crown but I feel like it's losing me these past two seasons. Is it the cast change?


Now that Supernatural is finally over, I can review new things! I'm very much looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and since I already fell for Anson Mount as Christopher Pike in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, I'm committing in advance to reviewing it. The previous season of The Handmaid's Tale was unexpectedly satisfying, and I'm still on board and plan to review season four. I'm also mildly enthused about the recently announced reboot of Dexter, and will review it. Maybe I'd better start a rewatch soon.

Even though I may have reached peak superhero, the big blue guy has always been a fave of mine and Tyler Hoechlin was the main reason I watched Teen Wolf as long as I did, so I'm hoping for the best with the new Superman & Lois. (We're going to try reviewing Superman & Lois as a team, unless we find a new writer to take it on.)

So Happy New Year! What did you love, hate and/or bingewatch in 2020?

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I too recommend Schitt's Creek. Perfect ending. Speaking of perfect endings, "The Good place" also managed it. I used to think "six Feet Under" had the best series finale but "Good Place" and "Schitt's Creek" are the front runners now. Nothing against "Six Feet Under"s finale but I only remember the perfect last six minutes while "Good Place" and "Schitt's Creek" were perfect for the whole episode.

I ddi want to bring up "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist". It is returning for a second season on 5 January on NBC. I watched the first season on ON DEMAND. The premise is that during an earthquake, something happened to Zoey (Jane Levy)while having an MRI. After the MRI, she sees people breaking into song. The information she receives from the songs help her help others. The cast is terrific for the most part including Skyler Astin (Pitch Perfect) and Alex Newell (Glee and May Steenbergen. The one letdown is Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) who is fine with the acting but can't deliver the ballads her character sings. I don't know if anyone remembers "Eli Stone" but Zoey rreminds me of Eli. Give it a chance!

Happy New Year!

turnipseed

CoramDeo said...

Great stuff as always! As much as I love The Flash, I agree it needs to end. As soon as they announced Arrow was coming to a conclusion, the final season started knocking it out of the park almost every single episode. If The Flash gets any similar kind of boost, it will be well worth it.

Patrick said...

I've been meaning to check out Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. I loved Eli Stone and Jane Levy is too adorable for words. Queen's Gambit is another I need to sit down and watch one of these days.

I tried watching Hamilton, but I just couldn't get into it. I respect the obvious talent on display, but it's just not my thing. I thought Star Trek: Picard was good, not sure I'd call it great. It was good enough for me to check out Season 2 when it arrives, though. I continue to enjoy Star Trek: Discovery. I wasn't a fan of Season 1, loved Season 2(Anson Mount was fantastic as Pike), and am enjoying Season 3 even if it doesn't feel like a whole lot has actually happened. I think pushing them out beyond the previously existing continuity was a smart move.


A couple that really impressed me in 2020:

Home Before Dark(AppleTV+) : No crazy concept, just a really good murder mystery with a fantastic cast. Brooklynn Prince, who plays the lead girl and was just 8-9 when she filmed the first season, was especially wonderful. It's a show that I think has appeal for the whole family, barring little kids.

Stargirl(CW) : The "Arrowverse" shows are losing steam in my opinion. I don't expect that universe to be around much longer. But Stargirl was a breath of fresh air. The cast is great, heroes and villains alike. The visual effects work is better than I was expecting on network TV. Most importantly, it didn't feel as "heavy" as CW's other DC shows. It brought back just the right amount of that Smallville vibe, which I didn't realize how much I missed.

Heather1 said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they've established that Discovery takes place in the Kelvin universe. If this is so, perhaps Captain Pike can escape the fate he had in the original universe? I know he saw this fate foreseen on Boreth... but... you know...

Patrick said...

As far as I know, Discovery is in the main timeline. It has to be, as the planet Vulcan still exists as of the far future seen in Season 3(albeit with a new name).

Billie Doux said...

Heather1, I'm pretty sure Patrick is right and that the Kelvin timeline is just the movies. But I've been wrong before.

It would be wonderful if Pike could escape his fate somehow, and it will probably be addressed.

Kayne said...

While on topic: does anyone have a link with an easy explanation/guide of the various ST timelines?

Good stuff as always Billie :)

The Expanse is still THE Show currently on tv for me.

Samantha M. Quinn said...

Okay, to clarify Star Trek and the Kelvin timeline let me start out by defining them. This will include spoilers for everything related to this story, including Pike and the events of those three movies.
Prime Universe refers to everything in TOS, TNG, DS9, Enterprise, Voyager, Discovery and Picard and all the movies except for the following.

Kelvin Universe refers only to the three movies; Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Star Trek: Beyond

Now the main event that created the Kelvin timeline happened sometime after the events of Voyager and the Next Gen movies but before the era of Picard, Romulus and that entire planetary system was lost due to their sun exploding. Spock attempted to save the system using Red Matter and was drawn into a wormhole and permanently stranded in the past (which caused the so-called Kelvin timeline because of Nero and his actions).

At this point the continuity of the two timelines is both distinct and independent, except for the fate of Romulus which did occur in the Prime universe. That is why in Picard Romulans are scattered to the wind, and in Discovery this season the Romulans and Vulcans live on the same planet. In the Prime universe Vulcan was NOT destroyed.

I hope that clears things up.

As for Pike's fate, while he suffered something horrible in the Prime universe (which Strange New Worlds takes place in), he does die young in the Kelvin timeline. So, I'm honestly not sure which is a better fate for him. At least in the Prime universe he ended up living in peace until he eventually died.

Billie Doux said...

Samantha, thank you *SO* much.

So essentially, for Strange New Worlds, we really don't need to think about it. It's too early. Unless the showrunners go nuts or something.

milostanfield said...

I think we can trust that if "Strange New Worlds" is a hit, and why wouldn't it be, the writers will figure out a way to get Anson Mount out of that Dalek can.

Not sure if all of these are 2020 shows but this year I really enjoyed "The Plot Against America", "Little Fires Everywhere", and the latest season of "Killing Eve". And, as always, "Outlander".

"ST Discovery" and "The Expanse" are so good right now I can hardly wait for the next eps. Also started watching "The Flight Attendant", recommended to me because I love "Killing Eve". Kelly Cuoco is hilarious in this zany black comedy murder mystery with talking corpses. And it's filmed on the streets of pre-Covid NYC!

Thanks for the Kelvin Universe info. Never got into the Trek movies and was unaware of this writer's back door.

Patrick said...

They shouldn't get him out of that "Dalek can" as you put it, and I hope they don't try, for a couple of reasons. One, Pike's post-injury fate in the primary Trek timeline was already established in the original Star Trek series(in the episode "The Menagerie"). Unless you're Doctor Who or Austin Powers, playing fast and loose with timelines and continuity leads to a great big mess. Two, getting him out of that fate would trivialize the choice he made on Boreth. He told that if he took the crystal to help Discovery he would not be able to change the future that he was shown. Despite the horror of that vision, he still chose to help Discovery. The course required to make that choice should be honored.

Billie Doux said...

Christopher Pike's eventual fate, and the fact that he now knows it is coming, adds a lot of interesting angst to his character.

All this is reminding me that I need to rewatch Discovery and possibly even get around to reviewing the 1965 pilot "The Cage" before SNW arrives.

Josie Kafka said...

Wait, there's a character named Christopher Pike? Like the tawdry YA horror novelist I used to read when I was young?!

I'm really curious to see what the Dexter reboot is like.

movielover said...

Ha ha! Me too Josie, me too!!