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This Week: Contact the City Bus Services

Josie Kafka: Hello, everyone! It's time for us to discuss what we've been watching and reading this week. I haven't been watching much of anything, but I did fall hard for Elena Ferrante's novels. I must read all of them before I can do anything else. All. Of. Them.

What are you up to?

Mark Greig: With all the films now on Prime I've been having a Bond marathon. I started off with the erratic identity crisis of the Roger Moore years, which saw the franchise wildly swing from imitating whatever was popular at the time (Blaxploitation, kung fu movies, Star Wars) to being an increasingly terrible self parody. The only consistent thing about this run is Moore himself. He saunters his way through these films with the laidback confidence of someone who knows how utterly absurd everything is and raises his eyebrow accordingly. There have certainly been better actors in the role, but no one ever had as much fun with it as Sir Roger.

Victoria Grossack: I finished binge watching the first four seasons of Young Sheldon, as only four seasons are currently available in my market. I enjoyed them a lot. In many ways, it was a relief to watch a show about a family. They seem to be adhering to what is expected from The Big Bang Theory, with the exceptions of references made in TBBT to pets. It's hard enough to find good child actors (they're fantastic) but adding animal regulars to a show is a pain. Anyway, the kids do an amazing job of being the young versions of Sheldon / Georgie / Missy and the parents and grandmother are excellent as well.

I appreciate how the opening credits, in seasons three and four at least, display the entire family instead of just Sheldon. It's interesting how TBBT was really supposed to be an ensemble show, and how it ended up really starring Sheldon. Young Sheldon, which was supposed to be about mostly Sheldon, has slipped into an ensemble show.

Young Sheldon has been renewed to last through seven seasons, so that means George Sr. will have to die.

As most of the fifth season is out, but not available in my market, I started reading reviews of episodes from season five. I must quibble with an objection to one of the episodes. The electricity is out, and Mary uses the phone, which some reviewer thought was a goof. But it was not a goof. The telephone, which had a different power source, would often continue to function when the electricity was out.

Yeah, I'm old.

Billie Doux: How did I get to the point where nearly everything I watch is streaming? It snuck up on me.

So I moved last month, and decided it was way past time to cut the cord. No more cable, no more TiVo. (And by the way, trying to get out of a TiVo contract is way more difficult and infuriating than you'd expect. Something to keep in mind.) So far, the only thing I really miss is Rachel Maddow, and sadly but coincidentally, she seems to be winding down her show on MSNBC. Her latest A block is available online every day, which helps.

I just finished rewatching all four seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It's one of those shows that, when it's not on, I forget how clever, funny and top notch it is. I finished the second season of Russian Doll and am trying to decide if I'm going to do a season review. Should I?

Sunbunny: I’m so hoping Rachel’s only taking some time off for other projects and that she’s not gone forever. We need her! Not that I watch her anymore. I haven’t been a regular news viewer in years. Too much stress.

Billie: Sunbunny, I so agree. I used to watch the news a lot, but it's just getting worse all the time, like a horror movie.

Victoria: I am a fan of MSNBC, but I rarely "watch." I listen to the podcasts while exercising and doing chores. It's true that you don't get the visuals, but usually they let you know what those look like and I never want to watch violence anyway (sometimes I research graphs). And the podcasts are free.

Sunbunny: Speaking of podcasts, I’m finishing up season four of Slow Burn. It looks into the Rodney King beating/LA riots. I’m not much of a podcast person but I really enjoy learning about stuff that happened while I was alive but too young to remember or register what was happening. It’s the same reason I enjoyed season one of American Crime Story. Slow Burn is so good but as an LA resident it’s also insanely creepy hearing the host name check places I know well. (Side note to the MSNBC conversation, they interview Zoey Tur, parent of MSNBC host Katy Tur, and videographer of the beating of Reginald Denny.)

Shari: I heard Rachel was moving to a weekly show so that she could work on other projects. If true, a least she's not gone permanently. Although, like many of you, I haven't been watching, or, in my case, listening to her much. The stress of current events was getting to me.

Despite the literally dozens of shows I want to catch up on, I find myself rewatching Fringe instead. I think I just need a known quantity at the moment. Maybe this is my answer to the stress of current events. I also rewatched LA Confidential which was just as brilliant as I remembered even if my feelings about Kevin Spacey are negatively colored.

An Honest Fangirl: The only real "news" content that I actively go out and watch anymore is Last Week Tonight. John Oliver and the comedy aspect of everything makes it fun, and it’s something that I can listen to it on YouTube Monday mornings while I catch up on emails at work. He didn’t have a new episode this week, but he posted a fabulous web exclusive to YouTube about the movie Air Bud which I highly recommend.

I watched a documentary called The Invisible Pilot recently about Gary Betzner. I knew nothing about him or his life previously, so it was a wild ride. Especially with how the documentary starts. I love any and all true crime that focuses on disappearances and deaths that were ruled suicides but might not be, and really, crimes that don’t have a straight forward answer in general, and that’s how the documentary initially portrays itself. About halfway through the first episode my jaw was on the floor because it’s not that at all.

I also watched The Batman now that it’s on HBO Max. I absolutely loved it, even if the ending was a bit weak. Colin Farrell was completely unrecognizable, Battinson was better than I could have ever hoped, and the fact that it was so mystery and detective focused was exactly what I wanted. Also got a kick out of seeing a Bruce Wayne who is so visibly a broken and damaged individual as opposed to someone who can seamlessly play the role of a playboy billionaire. I do think that it could have benefitted from being rated R, but oh well.

Oh! And I officially finished by CSI: NY binge and have now started CSI: Miami. I forgot just how much of a gold filter the camera had! Also one of the episode in the first season involved someone being absolutely shocked that someone could just use their WiFi if it wasn’t password protected, which might be one of the most painful reminders that the show started in 2003 that I ever saw… and I just realized that 2003 was 19 years ago which is terrifying, thank you.

Also the NFL draft is on Thursday? I’ll have that on for the first time in my life because I finally reached obsessive fan levels after watching it my entire life. I just miss football at this point.

Billie: Mikey, how is your Star Trek watch going? Are you going to catch up in time to watch Strange New Worlds when it airs?

Mikey Heinrich: Things have been ridiculously busy for me the last couple of weeks for a variety of reasons. Outside of having Doctor Who disappoint me, I haven't had a lot of time to watch anything. I'm currently up to a few episodes in on season two of Enterprise.

So, my question to the group - do I need to have watched Discovery before I watch Strange New Worlds? If I watch SNW first, will it spoil Discovery for me later? Should I just be patient and get to it when I get to it, or do I throw linearity to the wind and skip the rest of Enterprise for now, and come back to it later? I have to admit, I'm not hating the amount of Connor Trinneer that I'm seeing. To say nothing of Scott Bakula.

What do you all think?

Billie: Yes to watching Discovery season two before Strange New Worlds, since the entire second season features Pike and Spock. Discovery seasons three and four could wait, since they don't have anything to do with Strange New Worlds.

Josie: After going on a TV hiatus (except for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend while eating dinner) to finish Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet novels, I am now back in TVLand. Shari, you've been mentioning Endgame for weeks now, and I only learned today, thanks to a convenient bus advertisement, that it stars Morena Baccarin. Now I'm really excited to try it!

Like Billie, everything I watch is streaming, which means almost no ads, which means I never quite know what's coming up or currently airing. I keep thinking I should make a list: I know Firestarter is happening soon, on some service. Under the Banner of Heaven sounds pretty good, although I tried reading the book and couldn't get into it. Evil, of course. There was something else, too, but I have forgotten what it was.

I didn't even know Moon Knight was premiering until I saw yet another bus ad. Surely, buses can't be the best way to communicate this information! Some of the buses in my city still have Nightmare Alley ads!

Billie: Maybe we should have a "coming up" box on the right hand side panel. Except that means I'd have to find somebody who actually knows what is coming up.

Josie: I can contact the city bus services.

Samantha Quinn: I'm still an episode behind on Moon Knight. I did like episode three more than the first two and apparently episode five is really good. Honestly I'm more excited about Doctor Strange 2 next week.

In other TV, I'm nearly done season three of Agents of SHIELD. I totally forgot about the hive powers, and who got mind whammied. I remember season four being really good.

After watching all of Avatar and Korra, I'm missing the Avatar universe a lot but I'm not ready to start over yet. I understand there is a live action TV series in the works for Netflix, in fact they just cast C.S. Lee (Dexter) as Roku so that's fun. Looks like Suki will have a larger role, too.

I'm tempted to try Outer Range, but the western vibe is giving me pause. Has anyone tried it?

Mikey: Season three of Barry is coming up, or so my local bus line informs me. I need to get caught up on that.

Speaking of Bill Hader, his series Documentary Now! on Netflix is priceless. If you're into documentaries, that is. It might be kind of a niche joke. They parody a different classic documentary/style in each episode. The Grey Gardens one is funny as hell, but the Spalding Gray one very nearly made me wet myself. And I would have been unashamed to do so. I'm normally not a huge fan of Fred Armisen, but he works in this.

Joseph Santini: I have one episode left of the modern Father Brown. I’m getting OCD about this series, and I have things to say and think about the writing, cinematography, even characterization. What in the US might lead to silly sitcom comedy is often elevated by a touch of nobility. It’s well done. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I finish the last episode.

I’ve also gotten into the Portrait Artist competition and am now bingeing on 2014’s series and my hand is aching for a paintbrush again.

I also missed the Avatar universe, Samantha, and what that led to was comics! The story and journey is continued in several books beyond the series-and they’re incredible too.

I am jonesing for Doctor Strange right now. I couldn’t get into Moon Knight after the first episode; it seems an inverse of the other Marvel series that way.

Mark: Just finished reading the 2016 version of The Ultimates by Al Ewing. Unlike the original series, which was a Bush era reworking of The Avengers, this series saw Captain Marvel assemble a team of heroes (Black Panther, Monica Rambeau, Blue Marvel, Ms America) to deal with high concept cosmic problems before they became even bigger high concepts cosmic problems. It was a great series, which dealt with much of the fall out from Jonathan Hickman's Secret Wars, but it did suffer from one of the things that really bugs me about reading comics: company wide crossovers. There's nothing more annoying that getting really into a story only to have it suddenly derailed by the characters getting pulled into some event series you aren't reading. One minute the heroes are getting ready to take on the series' big bad and all of a sudden there are in a completely different place fighting a Nazi Captain America with the Guardians of the Galaxy with barely any explanation. I had to actually stop reading the latest Moon Knight series for a few months because it tied into the recent Daredevil crossover and I wanted to wait and read that all in one go.

Since there are so many comic related shows and films around at the mo, I've decided I'm going to make showcasing comic art (good, great, and bad) a regular contribution to this feature. I'll start off with a touching little sketch from the legendary Neal Adams.

Samantha: Mikey, I have already finished the first post series canon comic for Korra (Turf Wars) which was ultimately like a three part episode arc set directly after the show. What I loved about it is that it firmly established the relationship set up in the final moments of the series. I won't spoil it here for anyone who hasn't seen the series (Please see Mara's review of season four to learn more.) I'm part way through the second volume (Ruins of the Empire) but I haven't gotten deeply into it yet.

Mark, that sketch just reminds me that we're getting a Batman crossover event later this year or next year with the Flash movie. Batfleck and Keaton's Batman will be in the same movie (although I'm pretty sure they won't actually meet).

Mark: Samantha, I wish I could be excited for Keaton's return in The Flash, but Ezra Miller has just put me off seeing that movie altogether.

Luckily there is still the Batgirl movie so all is not lost. That and The Batman 2 are the only upcoming DC movies I'm even a little bit excited for as the company's TV content has often been consistently better, and more varied, than its movies. I can't wait for the new seasons of Doom Patrol, Peacemaker and Harley Quinn, as well as the new Bruce Timm Batman show and The Sandman.

Mikey: I'm actually working on my review of the penultimate episode of last season of Doom Patrol right now. 'Evil Patrol,' appropriately enough for this column. God, Michelle Gomez is just amazing in everything. I have the biggest girl crush on her. Although I might just want to be her. Hard to say.

Mark: Gomez was the MVP last season and I'm happy she's back for season four.

Shari: Hey Josie, sorry for the late response. Morena was the only reason I checked out The Endgame in the first place. Noah Bean as a supporting character was just a bonus. I loved him in Nikita and Twelve Monkeys but I didn't know he was on the show till after.

In other news, my Fringe rewatch continues. I forgot how good the show was. I could do without some of the gore but the writing was brilliant. I don't know how they balanced the outrageousness of the pseudo-science, with all the heartbreak and loss, not to mention Walter's insanity. Speaking of which, John Noble was simply masterful.

I've also kept up with Moon Knight. It's all starting to make sense now. This is good since there's only one episode left. What a short run. Although from the sound of things that might have been six episodes too many for most of you.

Mark: Moon Knight has become the show I hoped it would be in the last two episodes, which is why it is so crushing that there's only one left to go. I wish some of these D+ shows were a little longer. WandaVision really benefitted from having more episodes to play around with.

Samantha: In a slightly new development, I finally bit the bullet and started watching Arcane on Netflix. It really has no right being this good. It is just brilliant in story, animation and character with insane action to boot. I can see how it might not be for everyone, but after jumping from Korra it is super easy to follow Vi and Powder on their journey. After five episodes, I can feel the story is not going to end happily... but I hope it will.

Mark: My choice of art has become tragically timely as Neal Adams has now passed away at the age of 80. One of the very first comics I read was a worn out Batman omnibus of stories for all the decades. I’ll never forget how blown away I was by his art. It was unlike anything I’d seen before and completely changed how I saw the Dark Knight and his world. Adams was a true game changer and the world is now a much sadder place without him.

Billie: The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds official intro came out today. They let Anson Mount post it first on Twitter and Instagram. Honestly, it was so original series that it made the old Trekkie in me cry.

That's it for us, and I'll confess that was two weeks' worth, not one. What are you watching? Do you have anything you want to ask us?


  1. Samantha, I've been meaning to give Outer Range a try, too!

    I just heard about a show on Epix starring Harold Perrineau (from Lost) about a small creepy town. It may have similar "descended from Twin Peaks" vibes.

    I'll let you all know, once I figure out what Epix is.

  2. "And by the way, trying to get out of a TiVo contract is way more difficult and infuriating than you'd expect."

    And that Airbud segment on Last Week Tonight was legitimately funny. I love John Oliver and the show but usually not for its humor (though some of their subtle/quick jokes can be really funny).

  3. Joseph -- I had never heard of either the Landscape or the Portrait competitions until I read this piece earlier today. I instantly got on line and discovered that several of the older series are available to stream.

    I blame you for my lost Sunday. I became enthralled with the 2013 Portrait show and kept saying "one more episode" all afternoon. I am by no means an artist, not even close. But, being able to watch the process of such different artists and to root on my favorite (who, sadly, did not win) was incredibly compelling.

    Thank you so much for the suggestion. I now have to force myself to get up and do Sunday chores!

    1. ChrisB, that's great - I'm also in the potato-chip phase with these art series! I felt the same way about Blown Away.

    2. Anonymous -- I loved Blown Away! My sister is actually taking a glass blowing class because she loved it so much. According to her, it is really hard work.

  4. Mark, you give me hope about Moon Knight. I'm going to give it more attempts.

  5. Mostly reading. Just finished Six of Crows, and just loved it. On to Crooked Kingdom. I may watch The Batman, now that I know it's on HBOMax. Oh - and I am watching Outer Range. I like it. I'm finding it more quirky-trippy-sci-fi than western, if that helps anyone.


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