How We Watch Dept.

We've made a habit of watching Poker Face and The Last of Us back to back on Sundays. Tonight was odd, since both shows took place in a snowy place with lots of trees. When The Last of Us began, we both noted how the scenery was similar. Which meant that every time someone spoke in The Last of Us, I expected Natasha Lyonne to turn up and say "Bullshit".

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Katherine McCormack stoned. Oh hell yes.

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Your thoughts about TLOU make me think of a question I've had about weekly episodes vs. binging: Does binging a good/mediocre/bad series make it seem less of those things in your memory, or is that just me? This was prompted by Bodyguard, a six-episode miniseries I watched in one day. Richard Madden plays a Met Police officer (with post-Afghanistan PTSD) who's assigned to protect the Home Secretary, played by Keeley Dawes. Going in, I'd heard buzz that the writing collapsed halfway through -- which turned out to be the case. There's a thrillingly-shot shootout, but a moment at the end involves an unbelievable coincidence, and from there it's a cavalcade of inexplicable character decisions, more unbelievable coincidences, and nasty-tasting developments.

That said, watching it all at once felt more positive than if I'd watched it weekly (as I believe it aired in the UK), because I hadn't spent any time between episodes wondering if the showrunner would pull everything together. In general, the less time I spend on that kind of thing, the more I'm able to evaluate the series as a whole. So now that TLOU has landed in "good" territory for you, will you be devoting much time to thinking about it in between episodes?

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I have been patiently waiting to binge TLOU, so no comments there. Trying my best to avaoid spoilers and happy that your post and the comments avoid them.

Giri/Haji was magnificent and hopefully you think that it ends well. I didn't realize that Will Sharpe was in that, but of course he was. Rodney is a great complex character and Will really brings him to life. Became a big fan of his after seeing Flowers, an sometimes hilarious eccentric British dramedy he created and directed (for 2 seasons!) Kelly MacDonald is just one of those actors that make everything they're in better and that's definitely the case here.

After-show? Never watch them. I've certainly seen a couple here and there, but never have been too impressed.

In re: scatological humor. You've hit the better known examples and the ones that come to my mind. Maybe add Ewen McGregor's toilet dive in Trainspotting?

I'm looking forward to the previously mentioned Daisy Jones & the Six and maybe more so for Mrs. Davis (Lindelhof does have a pretty good track record)

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Continues from previous post- Regarding vomit/shit jokes, same here otherwise. I believe those are for kids.

I’ll add Giri/Haji to my list.

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I agree on “The Last of Us”, but merely as a gut feeling. When a show is truly terrific I have some sort of internal awe, I don’t know how else to describe it, that I most certainly don’t have here. But I enjoy the show and I will continue following it. What I truly appreciated lately was the scene where Ellie finds the menstrual cup. That was awesome!

I enjoy writers speaking about their craft, so I like “aftershows”, and they point me to things I might not have understood, but I completely agree that sometimes they just end up underlying where their intentions fell flat. A recent example for me is “Mayfair witches” which I found quite awful.

I’ll keep the book you recommend in mind.

I don’t mind sexual jokes as long as they are done properly. I, for example, loved the Pinocchio and Geppetto joke on Family Guy. Was the joke on Silicon Valley you mentioned the one with the monkey? Because that was hilarious. I just rewatched it now that you mentioned that show and I laughed out loud once again.

Well, speaking of returning dramas, I can’t wait for “Succession”. As for new ones I have hopes for “The Power”. We’ll see if it’s up to its potential. And I’ve just watched the promo for “Lucky Hank” and I will most certainly give it a try.

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Mar 4·edited Mar 4

Last night I watched the first two episodes of Giri/Haji. Fuck. So beautifully constructed and the stylized Japanese Ink Brush inspired animation that appears occasionally is perfect.

This feels a lot like the classic John Woo/Chow Yun Fat Hong Kong cinema (specifically, For A Better Tomorrow & The Killer) with the Loyalty vs Honor themes, but less sentimentality. The casting is frighteningly good with the Kenzo character giving off Yun Fat/Ken Watanbe vibes. The daughter, Taki is perfect, lovely, just obnoxiously sullen enough to be believable but obviously there's heart and depth there. Yuto has the perfect weasel turned tough guy vibe with an underlying streak of heartbreak and guilt. Rodney - wow. Will Sharpe is unrecognizable (after White Lotus) and is managing to be a bit reprehensible, a scammer yet fighting his inherent vulnerability and fear, it's a spectacular performance. Justin Long is in his element, chewing the scenery shamelessly and displaying his usual mastery of slimey yet lovable. Sophia Brown's assassin may be the most intriguing character I've seen on television in a long long time. Connor is shaping up to be one of the most interesting baddies in a while. As for Rei and the rest of Kenzo's family, I haven't seen enough of them yet to really make up my mind.

And then there's Katherine MacDonald, she grabs you the second she appears on screen. In anything she's in. She's pretty much constantly put in untenable situations and somehow manages to make it through (her impossible work environment with the troglodytes who outrank her, the problem with the letterbox, finding someone unexpected in a dorm room, etc). I laughed out loud at "It's a girl's name". She should be toplining big movies but I'm selfishly glad that I get to see her in things like this.

I kind of feel about "After Shows" the way I feel about audiobooks. Audiobooks rob me of the experience of interpreting what I'm reading in my head — hearing the characters voices, picturing their appearances, etc. After Shows sort of interpret for me and the joy of experiencing great narrative film/television/literature is the interaction of the viewer's interpretation of the creator's work. I don't like to lose my part of that beautiful equation.

And anyone who doesn't talk to their dog A LOT has no soul.

I love books like that. I still treasure "The Venereal Game" of a book that came out years ago called An Exultation of Larks. My greatest contribution would be a Lot of Cars.

I'd like to share with you my favorite use of bodily function in modern filmed (taped) entertainment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbDcnUH6rOc

I don't know what the next great TV Drama will be but I kind of have high hopes for Daisy Jones & The Six. Haven't watched the first three episodes yet but I read the book when it first came out and the casting for Amazon's series looks pretty inspired so my fingers are kind of crossed...

BTW, saw a beautiful film the other night. It's been winning awards all over the place in Europe. There's almost no dialogue and even though the great Isabelle Huppert is listed as a star, the real star of the film is a donkey. I don't want to spoil it by giving any other explanation but you REALLY need to seek out and see EO. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt19652910/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_2

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Yes on after shows! I used to watch the Game of Thrones ones way back when. Pretty useless. I now smartly fast forward.

I always thought Episode 3 of TLOU was an outlier. I was seriously considering dumping the show but now I kind of care about the two main characters enough to stick with it. I just don’t like zombies for a few reasons: they’re scary and I don’t like being scared watching entertainment (since the news is enough for me each day). Second they’re uninteresting monsters. Lame unthinking killers. They’re an okay metaphor I guess? But metaphors can’t carry a show.

(As an aside I got freaked out listening to a podcast from NYT’s The Daily. It was checking in with Ukrainians after 1 year of war. Its use of zombie as metaphor is more interesting and face it, terrifying, than these entertainment vehicles. An account from a Ukrainian soldier:

And when our soldier who was on duty saw a couple of Russian soldiers coming on our position.

And they’re screaming, Russians, Russians! We didn’t expect that they came to our position so close, 30 meters, unseen.

And they start shooting on us. We start shooting on them. And that time, I just trying to make my job and trying to stay alive. I didn’t think about nothing.

They start to falling down. Some of them was killed. No screaming, just fallen down on the ground, that’s all — a life is over. Another part of them continuing to shoot in on us.

After that, wave after wave, wave after wave, they continue to move, move, move, shoot and move, and didn’t try to hide from the fire, our fire, like zombie. For me, it was I’m an actor in a horror movie. I don’t feel that it’s real.

And all of this continues quite a long time, 2 and 1/2 hours.”)

Okay now that I have bummed everyone out I think Pachinko is a great drama. It’s only 1 season but when I was compiling my list it was at the number 1 spot. Like easy, no debate.

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Mar 4Liked by Tim Goodman

Great post, Tim, as thought provoking as ever. You’ve presented me with a dilemma, since I’m trying (unsuccessfully) to free up writing time by not reading/watching and am prioritising your rave-up selections. So should I now watch The Last of Us or not? My instinct: yes.

Thanks re the Fiske book that I was completely unaware of but must, must have. No ebook is a drag but hey, I should buy one physical book a year, and this can sit on a little shelf with dictionary, thesaurus, usage book, etc.

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Love Girl/Haji - best show with awful title award?

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Andor is the best thing I have seen in a long time. I am on my fifth rewatch because I keep recruiting friends and family members to experience it. Come for the cool effects, stay for the amazing dialogue.

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One of the best cast shows has to be State of Play, also starring a certain K MacDonald. I remember seeing an unknown James MacAvoy doing his English accent and thinking "here we go, another charasmatic English posh boy actor to annoy me for years to come", lol.

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Love the "full docket." I am enjoying The Last of Us quite a bit. I had watched one or two seasons of The Walking Dead and then stopped for all the reasons you have mentioned so I'm not as burned out on apocalyptic tropes as many people who watched the whole of it, I think that helps to enjoy The Last of Us more. And I think I may have a tiny crush on Pedro Pascal. I thought he was great in GOT and was horrified when he got Xed. And I just watched Narcos (when I was sick and a bit delirious, I happened on a badly made show about the invasive hippos of Columbia which had escaped from Escobar's private zoo, and one thing led to another :) and he was great in that too. As for Narcos, I of course had heard of Pablo Escobar and the Columbian drug wars and was acquainted with cocaine, but wow, I had no idea how it tore that country apart. Fascinating, chilling story, well told. That show was very well cast. Sometimes I check critics reviews before I watch something to see if it's worth my time and sometimes I read them afterwards to see what writers I admire think. So I knew Narcos was supposed to be quite good so I dove in and then checked Rotten Tomatoes after. And guess what! I found an excellent, thoughtful review by one Tim Goodman from back in the day. It was fun to run across it.

I am excited to watch Giri/Haji! Such high praise from you.

I generally don't care for vomit/shit scenes unless they are very well done. In The White Lotus, I cringed terribly at the end, I couldn't believe what I was seeing! It did gross me out. But it did work within the show.

Sometimes I like the "After the Show" bits when they're more of behind the scenes sort but yeah, I agree, if you have to tell me what you did, you didn't really do it.

I am mental too. I talk to my cat-- a lot. And he talks to me a lot. One day I asked him, "why do you talk to me so much?" And then I realized it's because I talk to him all the time. Duh.

I can't help you about the next great drama on tv, I'm looking for the same thing. And may I remind you, thrice again, Patriot has ruined me. How can anything live up to that transcendent magnificence?

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Mar 3Liked by Tim Goodman

I don't like any bodily-function humor. The BRIDESMAIDS scene almost ruined the movie for me, and Ana de Armas' character vomiting in KNIVES OUT was the worst part of it. I don't think I'm prudish, because cursing and sex jokes don't bother me; I think I'm just very squeamish. (I don't like blood either.) Needless to say, TRIANGLE OF SADNESS is not on my to-watch list.

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Mar 3Liked by Tim Goodman

I started watching Giri/Haji based on your recommendation and having just been impressed with Sharpe in White Lotus. I love Rodney! The show is a very weird mix and what could be better than that? Only two eps in and am really digging it. Ep 1 felt a bit slow, it kicked and began to mix in Ep. 2.

As for the vomit/shit issue, I am of a similar mind that it feels too easy. The scene that leaps to my mind is that in BRIDESMAIDS, which felt like a great woman/comic breakout movie until then. That (extended!) scene took me right out of the proud moment I felt I was in.

Thanks for the book rec. Speaking of which, in culling the other day I came across that architectural death tome, BOLD VENTURES. It’s only an ARC, but happy to send your way if you’re interested. It was a good read.

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Mar 3Liked by Tim Goodman

I guess, since we clearly are agreeing to disagree, that I won't recommend the film Catherine Called Birdy, written/directed by Lena Dunham and starring Bella Ramsey in the title role.

I am definitely with you on "After Shows". If you need to explain to me what I've seen, it means you didn't get it across in the work in question, and why bother to watch something that isn't complete on its own without a post-game show?

I don't know what the next great show is, but I'm not going to quit talking about For All Mankind until it disappears. Hmmm ... Battlestar Galactica, Outlander, For All Mankind ... his record isn't perfect (there's only one David Simon), but maybe the next great show will be whatever Ronald D. Moore comes up with. Or David Simon, for that matter.

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