[OT] Movie and Television Suggestions

B.A.: One advantage we have being trapped at home today, as opposed to during the pandemic of 100 years ago, is access to a limitless number of movies and television shows. So what will you all be watching, and what have you watched in the past that you’d strongly recommend to others?

Hunters (on Amazon Prime) was recommended to me this morning, and last night I recommended both The Good Place (NBC, available on Hulu) and Orphan Black (Amazon Prime). I’ll add others in Comments as I think of them.


  1. Russian Doll on Netflix. The first episode is okay, but it’s mainly setting up the character and her life. Things really get going in the second episode.

  2. Somehow, I went into Russian Doll thinking it was some spy series. You can imagine my bewilderment during the first episode.

    I did enjoy it, though.

    My brother strongly recommended Get Shorty, so we’ll be trying that.

  3. Check your library for Hoopla and Kanopy services to stream video. Free for cardholders of member libraries.

    As for paid services, The Criterion Channel is my favourite. Not for everyone, but terrific for Usonion and Canadian cinephiles. So many great films from around the world and a lot of loving curation. UK residents have the BFI player, but I haven’t seen it.

    On Amazon Prime, there’s The Expanse has taken the number two slot on my favourite TV show list. It’s smart, funny, and gets so much of the science right. Characters act consistently and not a Jar Jar in sight.

    I don’t know where to stream it, but The Wire is a number one on my list.

    Elementary is surprisingly good. I didn’t think I’d like it but there is great chemistry with the leads and mostly good stories. My wife has come to like it as well.

    I don’t know anywhere where one can stream the whole thing, but if you’re willing to order in discs, you can get a full set of DVDs of everything Columbo. 101 hours and most of them great.

  4. I’m having a really hard time finding things I *really* like but I pretty much liked BoJack Horseman. Longmire is watchable. The Santa Clarita Diet is kind of dumb and stupid but it is a lot of fun.

    A few years ago Amazon Prime had the Sopranoes and Six Feet Under which were excellent. And Amazon does have the Addams Family television show.

  5. I do need to check out the library streaming channels on Roku. I’m sure they require some setup with library/card.

    Really the recent events haven’t had much affect for me, as I had developed new stay home routines when I stopped being a productive member of society. I just do my regular things. It’s like a day when no hockey games are scheduled and I have no plans with friends.

    I have a method to remind myself what day it is and the activities. Today I said to myself when I got up, “Today is Tuesday. Today is an oatmeal day. Today is a cook day.” The latter means that I will be preparing a meal from scratch rather than using precooked components. With most of the things I make, I prepare two portions of at least the main and save one for another day.

    Today (I have my main meal at around 3pm) was cherry-balsamic chicken with stir-fried asparagus and oven-roasted potatoes. I did not double the vegetable or potatoes, as they don’t reheat all that well. If I were to make mashed potatoes, I would have doubled that. I did save some of the asparagus for putting in salad later in the week.

  6. I checked and Hoopla has a Roku channel.


    As for the latter, one of my goals after ceasing to be a productive member of society was to get back to doing more cooking as I had in my younger days. I signed up with one of the meal kit services to jump-start the process. That meal is an adaptation of one of those.

    I can post a recipe if it’s not getting too far off topic.

  7. I’m sort of shocked that any regular participant of this blog would be worried about comment threads getting off topic. 🙂

  8. I realize it’s an “OT” thread, but it’s about movies. I also realize that we tend to wander. I have been viewing YouTube quite a bit of late. Among the recent popular memes is the “at home” movement. Musicians who can’t play in venues are doing songs from their houses. Others are cooking and sharing that experience.

  9. Speaking of Kowalski, was Uncle Irv ever married? If so, it would seem only fair to give Aunt XXX (a.k.a. “Mrs. Irv”j her share of the soapbox. Did she respond when the joke was told, or just roll her eyes and ignore it?

  10. Orphan Black was absolutely outstanding, IMHO. Tatiana Maslany became my favorite actress.

    Kanopy has mostly has-been and second-rate movies. Every now and then I see one there that doesn’t really make me sorry I spent the time on it, but does make me glad I didn’t pay to see it in a theater.

  11. Was installing some channel apps on my Shield and I installed ABC’s on a whim. Going through it, found out they have six million dollar man (and bionic woman), incredible hulk, knight rider, and buck rogers. I’m going to have to find out if I can actually watch a season of one of them.

  12. Kilby, “rolling her eyes” is probably accurate.

    When Irv passed in 1999, I told my aunt that in his memory, I would tell the joke to at least one new person every year on his birthday, and this pleased her. Shortly after that CIDU suddenly took off, and I realized I had a perfect vehicle for keeping my promise and more.

  13. Like Brian in STL, being a nonproductive member of society, I’ve already developed a stay at home routine, so things haven’t changed that much. Unlike Brian, if it weren’t for my pill box I probably wouldn’t know what day of the week it is. I have a backlog of over 200 movies on my Netflix account, and at my current rate, it would take seven or eight years to work through it without adding anything new, simply because I have too much else going on to sit in front of a TV. Having said that, I definitely agree that Orphan Black is an excellent choice. Two series my wife watched (and I got sucked into watching) are The Mandalorian (Disney+) and Witcher (Netflix). The first is Star Wars/sci-fi (as if that needs to be said) and the second is fantasy. Alas, both are streaming services you have to pay for, so that could be a show stopper.

  14. A geezer suggestion: Radio Spirits and Radio Archives both sell CDs and downloads of vintage radio shows, from familiar classics (The Shadow, Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, etc.) to interesting obscurities. It makes for a nice change from staring at a screen.

    There’s a lot of radio from these and other outfits on Amazon. Availability seems spotty, but there are many BBC Radio dramatizations about. I’m a big fan of their complete series of Sherlock Holmes, an ambitious, serious project that does ALL the stories and novels in 45-minute episodes. If you prefer Rathbone & Bruce, their vintage half-hours are fun and most include original commercials (the format is Dr. Watson, now living in California, bantering with the announcer before narrating the story).

    A few suggestions:
    — Duffy’s Tavern; Broad, hokey comedy, halfway between variety and sitcom. Famous guest stars turn up at the cheesy establishmen, where manager Archie mangles the English language while trying to put over some ill-advised scheme, like writing himself a surefire opera. Many of the regular cast are still imitated as cartoon voices.
    — Our Miss Brooks: Eve Arden is a wisecracking, underpaid high school teacher in constant hot water with principal Gale Gordon. The episodes a funny but tend to be bit too similar, so space them out.
    — Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, etc.: The comedy shows are time capsules, especially with Hope’s topical monologues, but there are laughs if you’re receptive to old-school comedy.
    — The Shadow: Ran for years with different stars, beginning with Orson Welles. Usually holds up well. Often surprisingly dark and bizarre.
    — The Halls of Ivy: Deliberately low-key, more charming than hilarious. Ronald Colman and real-life mate Benita Hume play the Halls, he the prexy of a small college and she his wife, a former British musical comedy star.
    — Lights Out, Mysterious Traveler, The Whistler, Suspense, Inner Sanctum, Escape, etc.: There are plenty of spooky / sci-fi anthology shows. With no recurring characters — aside from a usually creepy narrator — every episode is a surprise.
    — The Railroad Hour: Actually a half-hour. Each episode boils an old musical or operetta down to a string of songs connected by a condensed version of the original’s libretto. I like the ones I’ve heard.
    — Lux Radio Theater and other hour shows: These were the class acts, with big name movie stars doing radio adaptations of major movies. Some are better than others; my pert peeve is when an episode leans more on narration than dialogue.
    — Star Wars: Back in the 70s Lucas and NPR got together on a 13-week serial version, featuring some of the movie cast and expanding the story in now non-canonical ways. Lavishly produced, with plenty of music and sound effects from the film.
    — Prairie Home Companion: Yes, Garrison Keillor is persona non grata lately. But the show and his monologues were and are good stuff.
    — Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The original BBC radio serial. Just be warned that British isn’t always comprehensible to Americans.

    Of course, you could always read a good … (sounds of a scuffle and a door slamming)

  15. I agree about Picard, Arthur: I saw the first episode a month ago, and all I retained from it was “He’s really old and there were Romulans.”

    Hopefully Discovery’s new season will be interesting, now that they’re apparently boldly going, rather than trying to be a prequel-but-not-a-prequel.

    Really, has there been a good prequel since the Iliad and Oedipus the King?

  16. Personally, I couldn’t stand Orphan Black. I cut my losses after two episodes. Bojack Horseman was interesting. It’s a really dark and bleak show about badly damaged people and addiction and self-destructive behaviour. But it’s all wrapped up in enough goofiness and cartoon animal shenanigans so that it does not drive you to suicide.

    I can’t recommend The Good Place highly enough. It has a good heart and isn’t mean. Every episode contains actual laugh-out-loud moments. Not as good, but generally good-hearted is The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

    Netflix has a weird little 15-minute sitcom series “It’s Bruno” that, while being very straightforward, was genuinely funny.

    Kanopy does indeed have a bunch of old movies, like The Seven Samurai, the 400 Blues, Modern Times, Serpico and Chinatown. Sadly, it does lack such cinematic highlights as Iron Man 2 and whatever the latest Seth Rogan movie is. The other library streaming service that is popular is called Hoopla and may be of more interest to those who don’t like the highbrow fare of Kanopy. It has Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness, Black Hawk Down, and Elmo’s Potty Time. Still, either service will help one pass the time if one doesn’t have work to do.

    I’ve actually be very busy with work, with some extra rush stuff over the last week. Combined with sleeping and trying to fill the pantry, I do not have the surplus of leisure time I keep hearing about. I also still have an income coming in, so that’s good.

  17. SBill: Yeah, when this started I thought I would have this huge surplus of leisure time, and got a bunch of book and videos from the library. But it turns out that trying to work from home with a spotty internet connection, while also having two kids from from school, is pretty exhausting, and I’ve actually had much less leisure time than usual.

    Darren: I loved Knight Rider as a kid. I tried rewatching it as an adult, and couldn’t even get through a single episode.

  18. For me, the show that I loved as a kid that is now unwatchable is Battlestar Galacitca. The real one. Tried watching an episode probably 20 years ago, when I was a grown man, and I don’t think I lasted 10 minutes. Awful stuff. Now, The A-Team isn’t great, but it was at least watchable.

  19. So, here’s the dish I made yesterday:

    Cherry Balsamic Chicken
    2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, 6oz-8oz each
    1/2 – 1 shallot depending on size and preference
    1 medium clove garlic
    1/4 c chicken broth
    1/4 c balsamic vinegar
    2 tbsp cherry jam
    1 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 1 tbsp dried
    Olive oil

    Finely chop shallot and garlic.
    Pat chicken dry with paper towels then season with salt and pepper.
    Add oil to a skillet to cover bottom. Heat over medium-high heat.
    Add chicken and cook until browned on each side, about 6 minutes per side. It will probably not be cooked through at this point.
    Remove chicken from pan and set aside, covered.
    Heat more oil in same pan over medium heat.
    Add shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes.
    Add vinegar and chicken broth and deglaze pan. Add thyme, then simmer until slightly reduced, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
    Stir in jam. Return chicken to pan.
    Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add water as needed.
    Turn off heat. Remove chicken from pan to serving plates.
    Stir butter into sauce until melted.
    Top chicken with sauce.

    Note: this recipe was originally Hello Fresh Cherry Balsamic Pork Chops, with 2 6oz boneless pork chops, which cook through during the browning. You can make it with that, or chicken thighs, bone-in chicken, etc. You might need to adjust cooking time.

  20. A lot of what bensondonald recommends is available on YouTube.

    Audible is also good source for non-free stuff, with the advantage that you don’t have to wait a month for CDs to be shipped to you.

  21. No chicken, but I do have pork chops. And no cherry jam, but I do have raspberry. Something could be made to work. I think I have frozen cherries too.

    The Hobbit is not a prequel. It was published in 1937, well before TLOTR came out. However, Tolkien did go back and Lucas the Hobbit to better make it fit with TLOTR. But not a prequel

  22. I thought of one. Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad. However, it can really only be fully appreciated in the context of having seen breaking bad. So, super weird.

  23. Thank, Brian: it’s just been saved into our online “recipe book.”

    If you try it, let me know how it works.

  24. My suggestion with pork and raspberry jam would be to also use rosemary instead of thyme, but I haven’t actually tried this (nor can I, lacking several critical components because I don’t normally cook with them), so, fwiw…

  25. Brian, it might not happen until cherries are in season, because my wife needs to make her own jam. But as long as it takes, I will revive this thread and let you know.

  26. Rosemary is very strongly flavored compared to thyme. The original recipe had no herbs at all. Given the flavors already present, I would be hesitant there.

  27. One would use less… I only just noticed how much thyme the recipe calls for, which is rather a lot. Or maybe it’s a bad idea.

  28. Well, I only use fresh because it’s growing in the little rock/herb/perennial garden in front. I just grab some stems and strip leaves off. I don’t really measure, so that was a guesstimate. So maybe 1 T fresh and 1/2 T dried?

  29. I dunno. 1T dried is a lot, but not hugely so, given that it’s all that’s going in, as opposed to say 2 tsp of this and 1 tsp of that and 1 tsp of the other thing. 1T of dried rosemary would be a hell of a lot, though, definitely don’t do that. I don’t really measure either most of the time so it’s all guesswork anyway…

  30. I would always encourage people to make their own modifications. More herbs, less, different, whatever appeals to you.

  31. CIDU Bill: Found out another excellent source of free radio shows is archive.org. Search for Old Time Radio or your specific show.

  32. My wife is a big fan of Breaking Bad, but I was not. I have, however, enjoyed watching Better Call Saul with her. Different strokes, eh?

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