Episode churn continues on a number of shows including "Barry" and "The Diplomat" and seeking out more obscure shows on Netflix.
Somewhere along the line of figuring out the benefits and drawbacks of the Two Episode Test and how that defined the other stuff — you know, the random shows I was still watching but not yet finished with, which is precisely how most people consume television — I thought it would be good to come up with a recurring feature that was simple and easy to define. So, here’s “Still Watching,” which will focus on episodes of random shows that, like you, I’m juggling at the same time with no rush and no end in sight. Just more episodes.
But that’s a good thing. And this is life in that interlude from beginning to end.
I think this need to quantify a new recurring feature is likely more a reflection of my need for defining order. I just had noticed that something like “A Post In the Machine” ended up being more eclectic and personal and random, which is how I want to keep it. I needed a home for one-off episodes in my mind, so here we are.
Some of you probably remember that I found myself behind on “Barry” and instead of doing the easy thing — trying to catch up — I opted instead to go backward and start by rewatching from the beginning of S2. I’m glad I did. “Barry” is a different beast entirely from most things on television and, in the early days of the show, the tonal clash of comedy (some of it absurdist with NoHo Hank) and violence seemed like a kind of weird accident which I wrote about in reviews and rankings. I can tell you that my “what a fascinatingly weird accident” beliefs didn’t exactly endear me to Alec Berg, who co-created “Barry” with star Bill Hader.
While I don’t think that framing made Berg hate me eternally, he almost never missed a chance to joke about/twist the knife on the “accident” description.
And he’s right. What makes “Barry” so brilliant as the series is close to ending its four season run, is that Berg and Hader were able to not only sustain the premise and the jarring tonal changes but expand on them, make them weirder and funnier and darker and, ultimately, absolutely unique. The creative vision of the series wasn’t an accident, obviously. I don’t look back at those S1 and (early) S2 takes of mine as a major blunder so much as having seen other series, in their own unique premise and execution, try to balance that combination and fail. And the level at which Berg and Hader were pushing these things forward, especially in that first season, didn’t seem sustainable even when the writing and acting seemed to be pulling off episodic miracles at a rapid pace.
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