by Craig Maltby for Club LT
Fall is here. Winter will be soon. That means more time on the family room couch or the man cave recliner.
I’ve been engrossed in a several streaming shows/movies on Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime. To be sure, there is a lot of mediocre and bad programming on these networks. The previews and teasers always show compelling clips and mostly 4 and 5 star ratings. But many of the shows are just bad or forgettable, IMHO. Here’s a roundup of streaming content I’ve found to be pretty good or even excellent. And I’ll throw in some basic TV network shows as well.
The American (movie) – This 2010 film starring George Clooney is about a hit man taking some time off in a small Italian village, complete with romance, until his next assignment comes through. A great suspense film.
Spy (limited series) – Based on a true story, Sacha Baron Cohen (remember Borat?) play an Israeli undercover agent who penetrates Syrian military and government circles. A great story, well paced and well acted.
Clive Davis – The Soundtrack of Our Lives – This is a great documentary of one of the music industry’s iconic talent developers and record executives. From Miles Davis to Springsteen to Aerosmith and hundreds in between, this guy’s story is phenomenal.
Another Life – (series, season 1) – My wife and I tried this on a whim, and we got into it. A sci-fi series about an earth mission to a distant planet to find the source of probe that landed on earth. Good characters. Good effects. It keeps you involved. Don’t know if a season 2 is in the works, but it’s worth watching.
Goliath – (series) – This show is now on season 3 but we started in on season 1 just this month. Starring Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt, it’s about a once-mighty corporate lawyer who’s now an ambulance chasing, washed-up drunk. He comes upon a huge case pitting his client against his old giant law firm. Great acting. Compelling story. Worth watching.
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – (series, season 1) – John Krasinski of The Office fame stars as the famous Jack Ryan from the many Tom Clancy novels. This series, if a bit predictable, is still good. Great action, good story lines. Season 1 is available, but I’ve seen teasers for season 2, so it must be streaming soon.
Man in the High Castle – (series, 3 seasons with 4 coming soon) – What would life be like if Germany won WWII and the Nazis governed the United States? That’s the premise for this show, which is very well done. The atmosphere of a Nazi controlled country in the 1940s is amazingly crafted. The acting is outstanding. Can’t wait for the upcoming new season.
Homecoming – (series, season 1) – Julia Roberts stars as a counselor in a treatment center for military vets. But something strange is affecting these vets, and it’s not PTSD. There’s a more sinister force at work. A season 2 is in the works, with no release date yet announced. And singer/actress Janelle Monae will replace Roberts in that character.
HBO (and I’ll skip Game of Thrones)
Barry – (series, 2 seasons with season 3 in the offing) – A hit man with mad skills suddenly happens upon an acting school in LA and is smitten with the acting bug. He tries to attend class and learn the craft while still carrying out hits at night. It’s a weird “dramady” story line, but it works wonderfully. Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live fame (Stephan, the night club reviewer) is Barry. He conceived the show. Henry Winkler also stars as the drama coach. Really well done and funny as hell.
Big Little Lies – (series, 2 seasons) – I call this the modern day Dallas, only in Northern California. It has an all-star cast: Reece Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern. Power, wealth, jealousy, murder, sex, betrayal, it’s all there! You can call this your guilty indulgence, if you want. And I understand 2 seasons is all they’re doing for this show.
Succession – (series, 2 seasons) A New York media mogul battles to save his empire as digital forces overtake his business. And his family is the most ruthless, nasty assemblage of money/power grubbing asses you’ve ever seen. At first I didn’t’ know if I’d stick with this show, but I’m glad I did. Brian Cox in the lead role is superb.
And, on the basic and cable networks:
Fox – The Resident. A great medical drama.
PBS – Ken Burns’ Country Music. Superb as you’d expect.
USA – Suits. Just completed its final season. Really well written with engaging characters.
USA – Treadstone. A TV-series treatment of the Jason Bourne movie franchise. Starts Oct. 15. Anxious to see this one.