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This Week: Stuffed Animals for the Win

What are you all watching this week?

I just finished the first season of Severance (on Apple TV), and it's unique, clever, and exceedingly creepy science fiction. I bet you've all seen it already since it's been getting critical buzz.

If you haven't seen it, it's about people who have taken a job where their work lives are completely severed from their home lives. A chip in their brain switches them while they're in the elevator to and from work. The "innies," trapped in the office, don't know who they are or anything about their home lives. Ditto the "outies," who have no idea what they do all day at the company, which is called Lumon. (No meaning to that name, huh?)

The season finale – there are nine episodes – is just gripping, edge-of-your-seat stuff. If I weren't already committed to two other shows that are returning next week, I'd have to review it.

Adam D. Jones: We just finished a mega season of the Arrowverse (watching the whole ball of wax from the beginning) and nothing will ever top the Bebo finale in Legends. That show continues to be the best.

But the most unintentionally funny part was The Thinker, one of the Flash's villains, when he uses his power of switching bodies to send his mind into the body of a young woman. Why is this funny? Because while he's using her body he shows up in the most ridiculous updo I've ever seen. He must spend 45 minutes every morning doing his hair only to spend the day chastising his wife every time she's not wholly focused on their stupid take-over-the-world plot. We can only assume that this detached and cold villain has secretly always wanted to live as a woman and intends to live it up while he can.

I'm happy that Arrow has abandoned the flashbacks. They were getting laborious.

Meanwhile, I finished the original run of Gilmore Girls and Rory became more insufferable with every season. When a scene switched to her, I found myself picking up my phone and doomscrolling Instagram until she was gone. I'm going to dive into the revival soon, and I've been warned it's rotten. I assume it's people telling Rory she's The Chosen One while she ignores everyone's problems.

Also, there's a lot of fat shaming on Gilmore Girls. Rory callously compares someone to a hippo in the Yale newspaper. This person actually shows up and looks completely normal, so apparently if you're not a size zero Rory is going to tell everyone you're ugly and don't belong on stage.

Victoria Grossack: I'm traveling this week, and have limited screen access, but before I started my travels I binged on the last ten episodes of Manifest. They were not able to answer all my questions, but I still enjoyed it. Also, on my most recent hop across the pond, I watched the movie, The Whale. It was a bit contrived in parts, but still a good movie. Although I do prefer Brendan Fraser's good looks in his earlier works.

Billie Doux: I'm about halfway through Manifest season 4B and liking it so far.

Josie Kafka: I watched Severance last summer during my first Apple TV binge and really loved it, especially by the end of the first season. It stuck with me, too.

I recently wrapped up Ted Lasso, which I'd recommend to anyone looking for an after-school special for adults. It's cozy. I liked it even though I don't care about sports.

I've hit a few duds recently. I watched Sharper, an Apple TV movie with Sebastian Stan, Julianne Moore, and John Lithgow, and I just felt dirty afterwards. Con artist shows are so tawdry.

I tried to watch Based on a True Story, a new series on Peacock, about an LA couple in need of money who start a true crime podcast about an active serial killer... and they know who he is! It's not as funny as it wants to be, and like Sharper, just left me feeling sad about the state of human existence. People need to remember that the question "Is this plan a good idea?" cannot be answered only with information about how much money they'll make if they go through with the plan.

I also watched Three Pines, a Canadian murder-mystery series starring Alfred Molina, based on a series of Louise Penny books. It was rather blah – not nearly as good or meaningful as it wanted to be, although I did watch the whole thing, so it was good enough.

I have, however, read some fun stuff recently, including two cozy haunted house mysteries, both set in the Carolinas: T. Kingfisher's A House with Good Bones about an adult daughter and her aging mother dealing with a presence that likes to garden and has strong opinions on manners.

Grady Hendrix's How to Sell a Haunted House, in which two adult children return home after their parents' deaths to discover their childhood home is haunted by their mother's puppets and dolls. Puppets and dolls are terrifying, but I really liked the detail that the stuffed animals (what I think of as "the normal toys") would just turn their back on the most evil puppet. Stuffed animals for the win! (So far, at least. I haven't finished the book yet.)

Samantha M. Quinn: Severance is indeed excellent, and it consistently remained unpredictable until the end. I am glad I stuck with it because those first couple episodes were so weird and confusing.

Manifest 4B is also shaping up nicely, I'm not quite done with it but I do like most of what is going on save for Zimmer and Angelina, who are just awful. I had some hope that Eagan might reform. I guess we'll see.

Adam, while I didn't care for some of Rory's choices in season six, and the less said about season seven the better, I thought the revival was perfectly fine. I haven't watched it in a while, but for the most part it was a pretty good conclusion for the characters.

I'm about halfway through Star Wars: Rebels season three and it is still consistently good. I'm looking forward more and more to the upcoming Ahsoka series which seems like a pseudo-sequel to Rebels.

I finally just started watching Harley Quinn, the R-rated cartoon on Max, and it is really, really good. I blitzed through most of the first season in a day and I really love the characters and the writing. I also know what's coming later in the series and I'm very excited to get there.

Josie, I absolutely love the idea that stuffed animals are inherently good. I still have one surviving stuffed bear (it's a large black bear with brown paws) sitting in a prominent place in my office.

With The Witcher season three coming soon, I'm gonna have to catch up through season two. (When season two came out, I watched almost all of season one.) I don't have a lot of hope that Hemsworth will be a good fit after Cavill leaves at the end of the season, so I'll probably stop watching then.

Josie Kafka: I still have my most important childhood bears. When I was in college, one of my parents (I don't remember which one) gave them all back to me when they were cleaning out a closet.

I can't throw them out! They're my bears! And I can't donate them, because these bears are middle-aged, and so obviously would not connect to a small child. Also, they're probably made with some sort of carcinogenic fur from the 80s.

I don't display them, because that would be... odd. A couple bears would be cute. But we're talking about six or seven bears here. I keep them in a cubby. It's a bear cub(by), I guess.

Anyway, I did finish How to Sell a Haunted House, and the stuffed animals [highlight to read the spoiler] didn't help defeat the big bad, because they were so scared they hid under the bed. That's okay. It's not their job to defeat evil.

Billie Doux: I wish I still had my teddy bear. He was small, pale yellow, with orange button eyes, and quite boringly named "Teddy." I don't know what happened to him, but I would have never thrown him out. Clearly, someone broke in and stole him.

Samantha M. Quinn: I lost my beloved Rucy, I think it was supposed to be Lucy after "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," but I was a kid and that's objectively adorable now that I think about it. She was some kind of long-eared dog or rabbit, I can't really remember. It was after cross country move and we had stored some boxes with a relative and the storage space got flooded. No one's fault, but I still miss her.

On a brighter note, I just finished Harley Quinn season two and it was exactly what I wanted.

Mikey Heinrich: My beloved childhood dog Bingo is still at my dad's house where I grew up. I haven't visited him in ages. Bingo, that is. I see my dad all the time.

I've been watching Lovecraft Country finally, and man, is it intense. Your mileage with Jonathan Majors might affect your feelings about it as well. It's good, but it's a lot.

Finished the final season of Ted Lasso while I was sick last week. Hooray for a show going out of its way to normalize men getting help for psychiatric issues, amongst so many other positive messages.

In between those I've begun The West Wing, and... oh, 1999 optimism for the role of government. I have such terrible news for you...

I do feel obligated to point out regarding Lovecraft Country – that's not what it looks like inside a burning house.

But everybody gets that wrong.


  1. Billie, 'Teddy' is a great name!

    All my bears are just attribute+bear. Mama Bear. Baby Bear. Red Bear. Randy Bear (after the person who gave it to me).

    1. OMG, autocorrect made that last bear really weird. Not Randy Bear. Rindy Bear.

    2. The autocorrect made me think of the hilarious Spike quote with randy, so your accidental autocorrect made me laugh. Though I do actually know two people who are named Randy.

  2. My bear is named Teddy as well. There is a photo of me the day I was born with Teddy next to me in the hospital cart thing they used to carry babies around in. He has followed me everywhere I have gone in my life -- from college to all the city moves. He always has and always will sit proudly on my bed.

    Several years ago, my mother was over at my house and asked why I still kept such a beat up thing on my bed. I answered that he is the only male I have ever shared a bed with who never let me down. My mother was NOT pleased but my sister burst out laughing. Win/win.

  3. I'm not loving the final part of Manifest so far, but we shall see. I've also been watching 1899. I have not tried Severance, but I don't think it's carried by any streaming service I have. I may need to switch things up, though.

    Some of us might like to share our beds with a randy bear!

  4. There was a great quote from the pilot of the latest Muppet show a few years back in which Fozzie bear said regarding the LA dating scene, 'when your personal ad reads 'single bear looking for love, you get a lot of wrong responses. Well... Not wrong. Wrong for me.,'

  5. I’m so excited to see the love for Severance here!! The first season was brilliant, if at times suffocating, to watch. It’s the only show I’ve ever had to take a day off from binge watching to collect my thoughts. If they do get to season 2 (I’ve heard there’s some issues with show runners) I’d be thrilled to read reviews if someone picks it up.

    Curious if anyone is a fan of the Spiderverse series? “Across” is an absolute animation game changer. I felt like I was watching animation being invented all over again. Not to mention it’s just an absolutely excellent movie on its own merits.

  6. Severance! If one of the Agents of D.O.U.X. would please review the first season and then continue through the next one (which is coming ... when?) I would be so grateful.

    I have literally checked this website before deciding whether or not to watch something, because so many of my favorite shows have been enhanced by your commentary. It all started with trying to figure out what was going on with Alias, then Lost. Billie's reviews were the gateway drug that led to Buffy ... etc.

    I recently did a Lost rewatch (good for the treadmill) and now I'm in season 2 of The Americans (also treadmill).

    Severance is begging for the Doux treatment.

    1. Scott, flattery might get you... well, we'll have to see. :) I wish I could clone myself. Or maybe not, if I ended up an "innie" imprisoned in the office.

  7. Now l’m curious… what does the inside of a burning house look like? Or rather, what do tv shows get wrong?

    1. You can't see anything at all. Combustion makes a lot more smoke than fire. In fact, you can't see flames at all until you're right on top of them or have a thermal imaging camera.

      One of the first drills they put you through is to put some variety of wax paper or clouded plastic wrap over the visor of your SCBA mask and turn you loose inside a simulated structure fire. That's a pretty fair recreation of how little you can see inside.

      The coolest drill you do is they bring a trailer with 3 or 4 levels inside it gridded out basically like a hamster cage with trap doors and tunnels connecting levels, turn out all the lights, and make you find your way from the entrance to the exit, which could be on any level. It's awesome.

      The thing every TV show and movie gets wrong is that communication in those circumstances is limited to nonexistent. There's no talking about feelings or relationships that's going to happen there. 'I am approximately this direction' is absolutely the limit of what you're going to be able to get across. And not always successfully.


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