Whether the ice-mageddon of Winter Storm Jupiter arrives or not, we’re always in need of great suggestions for viewing and binge-watching.
Here are some favorites of staff members and contributors that should keep you entertained — as long as the power is still on.
Stay safe out there.
▪ “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”: The story of the terrible events that plagued the innocent young lives of the Baudelaire orphans is too horrible and tragic to explain here. Even the presence of Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton can’t sugarcoat these horrendous events. On second thought, don’t watch this new series at all. Don’t even think of it. We’re sorry we even brought it up. Netflix. (David Frese, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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▪ “The Crown”: You could watch this biographical drama based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II just to see what the most expensive TV series in human history looks like. Or to watch recent Golden Globes best actress winner Claire Foy express more in a scene with her eyes than most actresses can with an entire page of dialogue. Either way, you’ll be entertained. Netflix. (Aaron Randle, email@example.com)
▪ “The Book of Love.” Hometown boy Jason Sudeikis stars as a man who befriends a teen girl to fulfill a promise he made to his wife. The film hit theaters Friday, Jan. 13, and is also available on your cable provider’s video on demand service. (DF)
▪ “The OA.” Brit Marling plays a woman who had gone missing as a child. And she once was blind. And she once was the daughter of a Russian diplomat. Maybe. The Netflix series is reminiscent of Marling’s excellent film “The Sound of My Voice,” in which she plays a woman who may or may not be the leader of a cult. That film is available through online video rental services such as Apple and the PlayStation store. (DF)
▪ “O.J.: Made in America”: Feels like there’s been a hundred docu/film/drama/whatevers on the O.J. Simpson trial. Forget ’em all. Not a single one is more entertaining, engrossing or thought-provoking than this 2016 ESPN offering (and a leading contender for the best documentary Oscar) that masterfully dissects the trial, psyche and fascinating polarization of “The Juice.” WatchESPN app. (AR)
▪ “Wrecked”: Two Blue Valley Northwest kids just created a sitcom the New York Times is calling one of the best TV shows of 2016. Not bad considering it was their first stab at television. “Wrecked” centers on a group of diverse, wonky plane crash survivors on a remote island as they try to figure out how to endure the elements and one another. Read more here. TBS. (AR)
▪ “Twin Peaks”: An oldie but a goodie. This quirky David Lynch series hasn’t aged all that well, but with the Showtime revival/sequel set to debut this May, maybe this is the perfect time to revisit Special Agent Dale Cooper, Sheriff Harry S Truman, Audrey Horne, the One-Armed Man, the Log Lady, Windom Earle and … BOB (shudder). Netflix. (DF)
▪ “The Fundamentals of Caring.” Netflix. Paul Rudd plays an in-home caregiver who breaks a wheelchair-bound 20-something out of his homebound existence to view some of the country’s more unique cultural attractions. It’s a quiet, poignant and funny film that was released directly to Netflix. The Star’s full review is here. Netflix. (DF)
▪ “Insecure.” This show about a dark-skinned black woman challenges racial stereotypes with biting humor, sharp wit and spot-on acting. Oh, and it has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. HBO Go/HBO Now. (AR)
▪ “This Is Us”: If you haven’t watched this new show, grab your iPad and download the NBC app. Pull up the pilot and give it a try. This show is for anyone who loves narrative storytelling. The weaving in and out from the past and present is masterful. The acting, great. The bond — and sometimes not so much — among siblings will make you tear up. NBC.com. (Laura Bauer, firstname.lastname@example.org).
▪ “Black Mirror”: This Netflix series is the evolutionary “Twilight Zone.” It’s a superb and cynical show about technology and the way it has changed us. Season 3 debuted in the fall, but start with Season 1 and give it at least three episodes (though you’ll really be missing out if you skip Episodes 4 and 5). You won’t be disappointed. (Terez Paylor, email@example.com)
▪ “Luke Cage”: Let’s see: a show about a large African-American male who likes to wear hoodies, has a deep moral code and is literally bulletproof with superhuman strength? Throw in the presence of Rosario Dawson and Simone Missick and that’s a recipe for an automatic watch on Netflix. (TP)
▪ “Scream: The TV Series”: Attractive youngsters unravel the mystery behind the masked killer slaughtering their classmates in this pseudo-adaptation of the 1996 horror hit. While the interplay of the cast is appealing — especially the “virgin nerd” Noah (John Karna) and his feisty lesbian BFF Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) — the self-referential parody of the horror genre offers the real draw. First two seasons available on Netflix. (Jon Niccum, Special to The Star)
▪ “Stranger Things”: Few original Netflix shows dominated pop culture last year as thoroughly as this tale of four geeky middle-schoolers who turn detective when one of them vanishes under puzzling circumstances in small-town Indiana. The retro vibe gloriously re-creates the music and fashion of its 1983 setting. But it’s the emotional bond among the friends, their family, a stalwart sheriff and a psychokinetic accomplice that make the series resonate. First season available on Netflix. (JN)
▪ “Maron”: Everybody knows about “Louie,” the brilliant but dark and only occasionally funny sitcom starring Louis CK. Louie, though, isn’t the only stand-up to make a great sitcom in the last few years. Like “Maron,” for instance. The semi-autobiographical take on the cerebral comic-turned-podcasting-superstar, Marc Maron, now has four seasons airing on Netflix. (Hampton Stevens, Special to The Star)
▪ “The Jim Gaffigan Show”: Both seasons are streamable on TV Land. The consistently clever and family-friendly series is loaded with great stars and follows the off-stage adventures of America’s favorite food comic, his wife and brood of five kids. TV Land. (HS)
▪ “Legit”: Not so family-friendly, but “Legit” hilariously and often poignantly explores the ribald adventures of Aussie comic Jim Jefferies and his dissipated life in L.A. TV Land. (HS)
▪ “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”: Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) moves from New York to California on a whim after she runs into an ex-boyfriend and learns he’s living on the west coast. Essentially she stalks him but in a more cute, less creepy way. Although mostly light, fun and full of terrific original musical numbers from multiple genres, the series also addresses depression, obsession and sexuality. (Rob Owen, Special to The Star.)
Seen those? Try these.
We also asked some folks in the arts for their recommendations:
▪ Local singer/songwriter Jessica Paige: “I was sick with bronchitis and watched a ton of TV last week. ‘Westworld’ is fascinating because it poses a lot of hypothetical situations to how humans will respond to developing artificial intelligence and the moral gray land that will result from that. It takes you on a journey that is very thoughtful, sexy and dramatic without knowing exactly where the plot is going.
“ ‘Sherlock’ has been a favorite show of mine because (Benedict) Cumberbatch is the best Sherlock Holmes. Quirky, witty and easy to love/hate. I’m also just a big fan of anything spinning off Doyle’s stories and the British humor.”
▪ Eric McHenry, Kansas poet laureate: “My favorite recent binge-watch was the English comedy ‘Detectorists,’ about the micro-dramas of some metal-detecting enthusiasts. Right now Sonja and I are watching and enjoying ‘Catastrophe,’ another comedy set in England. Some of the funniest dialogue I can remember hearing, although it’s so profane that my thumb is permanently on the pause button (kids). It includes Carrie Fisher’s final performance, and she’s just peerless.
“And it’s an obvious thing to say, but anybody who hasn’t seen ‘The Wire’ should watch all of it before watching (or even doing) anything else.”
▪ Stephane Scupham, Kansas City film commissioner recommends “The Get Down” on Netflix. The series was written by KCK’s Aaron Rahsaan Thomas. She said it’s a sweet, romantic, musical blast from the past focusing on the cultural and racial landscape of America and NYC in the late 1970s.
▪ Julian Zugazagoitia, director, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art recommends “Mozart in the Jungle.” “I’ve been fascinated by this! It has an amazing cast and guest appearances by rock stars of classical music like Gustavo Dudamel and Placido Domingo, which makes it feel almost real. The plot is surreal and baroque, but that it is rooted in the art world is what captivates me — it feels close and yet far away. This is the only show I’ve been able to get my wife to watch with me.
“I am also waiting for the new season of ‘Homeland’ to watch with my son, and ‘The Crown’ to watch with my daughter.”
▪ Lyric Opera production director Tracy Davis recommends the Amazon Prime series “Goliath.” The series stars Golden Globe winner Billy Bob Thornton, who plays an ambulance chaser who pursues a wrongful death lawsuit against the massive firm he helped create. The opera connection? “In every single episode there is a scene with opera playing in the background,” she said. “It’s a really good show.” If that’s not enough, “Goliath” was created by “Picket Fences” and “Ally McBeal” creator David E. Kelly.
▪ Lyric Opera general director and CEO Deborah Sandler suggests fine arts lovers check out the streaming service of the Metropolitan Opera at MetOpera.org, which features online access to more than 600 full-length Met performances.
▪ Kansas City Symphony music librarian Fabrice Curtis: “Three HBO shows that I absolutely love are ‘The Comeback,’ ‘Enlightened,’ and ‘Getting On.’ Together they make up a trinity of shows that focus on flawed female characters that the viewer becomes empathetic with over the course of the show. They all defy easy categorization, having elements of both comedy and drama. If I had to recommend one, it would be ‘The Comeback.’ Lisa Kudrow's performance is phenomenal; she is able to communicate so much without words, all while being hilarious. She plays an actress being filmed for a reality show that is following her comeback, hence the title. The show examines the making of reality tv, sexism in the workplace, and ageism in Hollywood all while being funny and entertaining.”