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This Week: Elves, Dragons, Vampires and Mexican Food

After a twelve-year break, I finished my very first rewatch of Lost. And I enjoyed it tremendously.

Maybe because I knew what was coming and the end didn't bug me this time. I cried copiously through the series finale. And I think I could even watch the series again. (If I do, I'm going to track every single car, bus and plane crash and see how many there were.) (And for what it's worth, Hulu has an uncut version of the finale along with the broadcast version.)

I'm watching the third season of Big Sky for Jensen Ackles. I like Big Sky a lot more than Jared Padalecki's Walker reboot. But I'm starting to get the impression that Ackles isn't a guest villain or a romantic interest for Cassie or Jenny, or possibly Cassie and Jenny. It feels like they've brought in Ackles as a new lead to supplement, supplant, something, the two female leads. The thing is, what I liked most about Big Sky is the two badass female leads, Cassie and Jenny. But I love Jensen Ackles and I'm enjoying his character. Until I figure out what they're doing with him, I'm feeling conflicted. Is anyone else getting that vibe?

So what are you all watching this week? Or reading, or screening?

Sunbunny: After a rough day, I randomly decided to rewatch Legend of Korra (which I do, in fact, prefer to Avatar: The Last Airbender). I’m heading towards the end of season two which was better than I remembered (although I remembered it being awful). Korra is just a really important character to me. Shades of Miss Buffy Anne Summers. They both go through so much, near death/actual death experiences, and come out on the other side needing to heal themselves, which they do. Plus the end to the love triangle of LoK is even more perfect that the end to the love triangle of BtVS.

Samantha M. Quinn: I've been thinking of a Korra re-watch too, because while I liked Avatar, it was frequently too kiddie for me. I also loved Korra and Asami and their respective arcs a lot.

I'm having fun watching Elves, Dragons and now Vampires, and I must say all three shows are really knocking it out of the park. Rings of Power may be the hardest for me, but House of the Dragon is very dense and four episodes in, I still haven't gotten attached to anyone. Interview with the Vampire, however, is freaking amazing.

ChrisB: I have been on a biography kick. In the past few weeks, I’ve read new biographies on George Michael, Princess Diana, and Harvey Weinstein.

The George Michael book is an interesting insight into the music business as well as an exploration of a truly troubled and conflicted human being. The Princess Di book was written by James Patterson (yes, the mystery writer) in his style — very short chapters that end on a cliffhanger. You won’t learn anything new, but it is a fun and very quick read. The Weinstein biography is hard to read. It not only discusses why he did what he did (and some of his actions were despicable), but also discusses in detail those who enabled him. Many are now denying that they knew anything at all, but recovered emails and their past actions show that to be false.

I haven’t really been watching too much as the weather has been gorgeous so I’ve been playing outside. Fall is one of my four favorite seasons.

Shari: I'm so curious about Interview with the Vampire but I can't justify yet another streaming service. I started reading that series when I was way too young and I've seen every iteration until now. Why couldn't you tell me it sucked?

This week I watched a couple of movies I'd been curious about for years. The first was Belle, a movie about a young mulatto woman brought up by her white relatives in England in the early 1800s. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, and several other members of British acting royalty. I'd wanted to watch it for a while and finally found it on HBO. It was well-acted and beautifully shot. However, it didn't have quite the emotional impact I was expecting. I suppose I'll have to read the book now.

The other was The Age of Adaline starring Blake Lively and Michael Huisman, on Netflix. This is about a woman who stops aging due to a very specific confluence of events. It has an excellent cast, although I thought the leads were the weakest. They aren't bad, just not equal to their co-stars. It's a slow burn that doesn't pick up speed until Harrison Ford's entrance. But it had a satisfying resolution.

I also started watching The Empress on Netflix. I'm embarrassed to say I was a half hour into the first episode before I realized it was dubbed. I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that I was so engrossed. It's based on the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, of which I knew nothing about. So far, I'm loving it.

I'm reading Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee which is the final book in the Green Bones Trilogy. I loved the first two books but it's taken me almost a year to psych myself up for reading the finale. I know it's going to wreck me. Think an updated Godfather set in a fictional Asian country where jade can give some people superhuman abilities but is kryptonite for everyone else.

I'm also listening to Ron Chernow's The House of Morgan which looks at the history of American finance by following the rise and fall of J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Morgan Grenfell, and Morgan et Compagnie. I don't know how he can make a description about the history of government debt and junk bonds interesting but somehow he manages it.

Victoria Grossack: I watched Belle several years ago when I was doing research for a murder mystery based on Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. The first Lord Mansfield, whom we meet in Belle, was critical to taking steps that helped abolish slavery. Mrs. Norris is named for a notorious slaver. Austen knew what she was doing. Funnily enough, Bertram is based on a word for ravens and Crawford is based on a word for crows, which may not have much to do with anything, except that ravens tend to rank a little higher than crows.

Belle does take some liberties with actual history, but the great-niece of Lord Mansfield was a favorite with him and certainly influenced his decisions.

As for me, what have I been watching? I had a whole bunch of vaccinations last week AND I smashed my foot into a piece of furniture, so I've been indulging in nonchallenging TV. I'm back in the States for a few weeks, and Netflix in this market has made at least 15 seasons of NCIS available to me. I had never watched a single episode! So I have been transported back into the time of George W. Bush's presidency, with concerns of Al Qaeda and foreign terrorism and the policies of "Don't ask, don't tell." How much things have changed.

Adam D. Jones: I've been in "comfort watching" mode for a few weeks now. Nothing new. Nothing interesting. Just stuff that feels familiar enough to help me wind down. TV is such an interesting medium, because sometimes I'm learning or being challenged, and sometimes I just need to relax.

We're working our way through the CW superhero shows in chronological order, which is a fun experiment. The Legends just rescued J.R.R. Tolkien. The Flash and Supergirl just had a musical episode. (It had almost no musical numbers; I'm thinking they had production trouble there.) Arrow is, well, he's yelling at his friends and his family instead of being rational. It's these fun shows that help me relax after a heavy day.

We also just hit the tail end of the fourth season of Supernatural. I've never seen it before, so it's sort of fun to finally know what everyone's talking about. Bobby is our favorite, since he makes fun of the boys when they're being idiots. I have to tell the part of my brain that earned an M.A. in medieval studies to keep quiet when they talk about medieval priests using tarot cards or something ridiculous like that, but the show's not supposed to be too serious so it's okay if they aren't worried about accuracy while they rescue yet another hot single brunette mom.

In other news, after fifteen years, my wife has gotten me interested in Gilmore Girls. Apparently it's hilarious and I never noticed, so soon I'll be embarking on that quest. Then, who knows, maybe I'll someday actually watch a show that was made in the last ten years.

Billie Doux: Adam, I didn't watch Gilmore Girls while it was airing, but I've watched the entire series three times in the past few years. It's clever and funny and I love it a lot. For what it's worth.

I fell in love with Supernatural in its first season and hung on reviewing it until the end. It's become an old friend. Continuity is one of their strengths. Terrific continuing characters is another. No one ever thought it would hang on for fifteen seasons. I still find it practically unbelievable, and I was there for the whole thing.

Josie Kafka: With, as Samantha said, Elves, Dragons, and Vampires on the table, I'm overwhelmed!

I decided to focus on Elves this month. That is, watching what I still mentally refer to as "The Lord of the Rings TV show." It's about to wrap up, and I'm excited to write a series review–as long as you all don't expect me to demonstrate much familiarity with the Silmarillion.

I'm going to watch Interview with the Vampire once it's available on a streaming service I have access to.

I have no desire to return to Westeros.

I did read–or rather, listen to–a fascinating book recently: Nick Cave's series of interviews with journalist Sean O'Hagan called Faith, Hope, and Carnage. I don't love Nick Cave's music as much as I think I should, but he's a remarkably thoughtful man, and the book is a beautiful meditation on pretty much everything. (Content warning: Nick Cave's young son died in an accident, and that is discussed a lot.)

And, OMG, I almost forgot to mention The Great British Baking Show. I've heard this week's episode is "Mexican Week," and already clips of hilariously inappropriate interpretations of Mexican food are going viral. I'm so excited to watch a low-key trainwreck.

Billie Doux: A trainwreck indeed. I lived in Los Angeles and love Mexican food, but the GBBO "Mexican Week" was appalling. Worst episode of the show ever, even though they managed to avoid racist jokes. How dare they eliminate two bakers when they had to create the furthest thing from British baked goods ever?

Victoria Grossack: I have never found any decent Mexican food anywhere in Europe. And, if you go to Spain, be warned that a tortilla will get you a potato omelet. Good, but it may not be what you're expecting.

Sunbunny: Lack of Mexican food is yet another reason I don't see myself ever leaving Southern California. I need my tacos and my nachos and my enchiladas and my tamales. Crap, now I'm hungry.

Mikey Heinrich: Well, I continue on with my list of shows I always meant to watch. FInally finished HBO's Oz which is a strange mix of soap opera addictive and super, super upsetting. So much shivving. So many weird nightmares after. I'm now splitting time between Dark and Sex Education. (The Netflix series, not taking a course. Although at this point... but I've wandered into TMI.)

Dark has been super confusing through the first seven episodes both because it's a deliberately confusing show and it's in German. But it IS helping me with my German. Sex Education has been incredibly fun so far (about done with season one) and is giving me so much hope for next season of Doctor Who. Ncuti Gatwa has been an absolute treasure.

And speaking of, the Doctor Who special has finally been announced for October 23rd. Looking forward to seeing how both Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall wrap things up.

What have you all been watching this week?


  1. I've been considering watching Dark. I couldn't before, because I was overwhelmed by other projects. Is it worth watching, Mikey? Note that I would have no problem with the German.

  2. I started Dark awhile back and decided against it. But I can't remember why. I don't think it was the German because I watch everything with close captions.

  3. I've been loving it. Also watching with CC. I keep keep telling myself I'm not supposed to understand it yet and watch for context clues

  4. I tried to watch Dark but kept getting the characters confused. They all looked alike to me.

    The Great British Baking Show wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, but I have to admit I don't trust Paul and Prue to judge tacos. They didn't talk about guacamole once, and everyone has an opinion on guacamole!

  5. That should have been the title of this week's This Week: "Everyone Has an Opinion on Guacamole."

  6. Josie, I had exactly the same problem with Dark although I made it to the end. So many characters played by the same actors in so many different timelines, and so hard to remember who was who. And I didn't find many of the characters very likeable either; it seemed like the town was a bleak and joyless place in every timeline which I found offputting. As German shows go, I much prefer Babylon Berlin.

  7. Glad to hear you enjoyed the Lost rewatch, Billie.

    Also I like seeing Dark being discussed here. Love that show, though I understand it's not for everyone.

  8. My inadvertent "AloneFest" continues. First "Oxygen" (Netflix French w/Eng subs), then Andy Weir's novel "Project Hail Mary", and (coming up) "Control" (2022). Spoiler free plot summary for all 3: someone a) wakes up in a confined area alone, and b) does not know why they are there, and/or c) doesn't even know who they are. Is this a pandemic thing? Maybe. Since acting is mostly interacting with other characters, I wonder how an actor approaches this kind of story differently.

    Loved "Hail Mary". I'm a techie nerd so the love's inevitable. If you liked "The Martian" you'll like this one too. Pretty much the same main character trying to figure out the fine mess he's found himself in using engineering/sciency know how. The narrative has more moving parts than "Martian", and Weir handles them with skill. Even more sciency/explainy stuff in HM, but you can skim it to get to the fine mess action. This WILL be a movie some day. Wonder if they'll get Matt Damon again.

    TV wise: enjoying "Quantum Leap". Nice to know broadcast TV can still do cool stuff. Next ep in my queue: Ben is a woman! Don't know if they ever did anything like that in the original. Should be fun.

    Finally got around to Season One of "Severance" Wow! Just Wow!

    Rings Of Power: glad I was patient. For me it hit another gear with eps 5 & 6. I'm no Tolkien scholar, and I'm probably missing a lot of the big picture stuff, so I'm just taking things as they come. Two relationships are the high points for me so far: Elrond/Durim, & Nori/Stranger. To prep for ROP I rewatched the entire Jackson Trilogy. 12 hours of movie in 3 nights! Was starting to grow hair on top of my feet! That was probably a mistake. Coming off that right into the opening of ROP was a letdown. The Beginning/Middle/End structure of the films vs the keep the rubber balls juggling for seasons 2 thru x of ROP. But I've shifted from film rhythm to TV rhythm & am enjoying it more. Even sorry it's only 8 eps.

    Love avocados but no guac for me. I cut them up just a bit under ripe to add to salads or cooked dishes. The dark side of avos: they're hell to cut up/trim, almost as bad as mangoes, and they go from green to over ripe in an eye blink. And that's my avocado rant.

  9. Billie - re Big Sky: I'm getting more of a one season only arc for Jensen Ackles than you, but I may be wrong simply because they've given him no dark back story to work through yet. So far he only seems to be there to be a hot male lead in a show with two smokin' hot badass female leads. And to let Jenny do whatever the hell she wants. My big disappointment is no more Jesse James Keitel (sob!) and the rather abrupt disappearance of several main characters from last season. Too bad Big Rick didn't have another brother. Reba McIntire will just have to do. And I'm still missing crazy Ronald & his crazy mom. That said I'm still watching Big Sky. It will be my go-to rural thriller until Season Two of "American Rust" hits the screen.

  10. milostanfield, I very much enjoyed Andy Weir's "Project Hail Mary." The best thing about it was something I shouldn't mention because it's a spoiler, but it starts with the letter R. :)

    And answering your Quantum Leap question, yes, Scott Bakula's Sam did leap into women -- at least three that I can think of offhand and probably more. I haven't seen episode three yet of the reboot.

    1. Magritte, those were the same actors?!?! I literally thought I'd developed face blindness for just one show. I might give it another try.

      Milo, I really regret not taking notes when I binged Severance, because I would have loved to write a review of it.

    2. Well, some of them were the same actors because they traveled in time so as to be in multiple timelines at the same age. But maybe I'm exaggerating the numbers here. It was definitely a show that required a set of notes explaining who was who.


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