In the last nine months I have watched many TV shows. I never liked to binge watch a show but in these strange days I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I did, however, limit myself to watching two episodes per day until completed. I’d take my walk, get my coffee from Peter Pan Bakery, get my danish and then watch a show. Let me start by going over the shows decided to re-watch and shows I had never seen previously.
LOST S1-6 HULU This is my favorite TV show of all time. I know the final season is controversial and no, it’s not perfect, but no show has been more creative, inspiring or emotionally satisfying. I had not rewatched the since it ended in 2010. I took this time to watch it again in it’s entirety. The first season is perfect. The second season is not as good but by the third season the show was back in fine form and the third season finale “Through The Looking Glass” is one of the best episodes of television ever made. The music by Michael Giacchino is beautiful as is the photography. The show made me cry many times and made me cheer many times. The Hatch, The Others, The Darma Initiative, The Constant, Not Penny’s Boat, Flashbacks, Flash Forwards, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, The Smoke Monster. There has never been a show like it before and will never be one like it again though many have tried. It’s still my favorite show.
HANNIBAL S1-3 NETFLIX I had heard this was good but had never watched it. Damn. I’m sure glad I did. This is a great show! It’s based on the Thomas Harris novels as well as the films but it mixes up the characters and events in a devilishly delicious way. This is a very dark and disturbing show, no question. This is not for the squeamish. But if you give it a watch you will be rewarded by a highly creative and brave show about serial killers unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
PEAKY BLINDERS S1 – 5 NETFLIX This show is like the British version of The Sopranos. The Peaky Blinders was a real gang from the 1920s in England. Cillian Murphy leads a strong cast which includes Tom Hardy and Adrien Brody. Again, there’s a lot of violence but the show is good fun and I look forward to future seasons once the pandemic is quelled.
BAND OF BROTHERS HBO This is a great series. A classy production with an outstanding cast which included Damian Lewis, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy and Ron Livingston.
CHERNOBYL HBO This is a really tough watch but I never knew a lot of what was shown. I really never knew just how serious this was, how close the world came to mass death. Jared Harris is excellent as the scientist who leads the fight to prevent the destroyed nuclear plant from doing worldwide damage. The lengths to which they go is unbelievable.
TV Shows 2020
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT NETFLIX MENDOZA GRADE A
This is probably the best new show of the year. Anya Taylor Joy plays Beth Harmon, a quiet orphan who becomes a chess champion in the 1960s. Joy creates a wonderful character in Beth Harmon. She is independent, smart and self reliant. It’s a wonderfully entertaining show that also has terrific performances by Bill Camp and Marielle Heller who is better known as a film director (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood).
BETTER CALL SAUL S5 AMC MENDOZA GRADE A
Each season of this terrific prequel to Breaking Bad is better than the last. This penultimate season has Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) going full Saul Goodman and getting in deep with the Mexican drug cartel. What’s most upsetting is the direction Jimmy’s girlfriend, Kim Wexler (the underrated Rhea Seehorn) is headed. We know where Saul is headed because we’ve seen Betaking Bad but Kim was not seen in Breaking Bad and we are all worried for her. It sets the stage for what should be a tragic final season.
THE OUTSIDER HBO MENDOZA GRADE A
Based on a Stephen King novel, this is a riveting show. it is super creepy and well written. A decent man (Jason Bateman, also producer) is accused of a child murder and al proof points to him but there is also video proof that he was nowhere near the crime. How cold this be? Well, it’s Stephen King so there must be a monster involved, one that can shape shift. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it again. Ben Mendelsohn is great as the local sheriff who refuses to believe and Cynthia Erivo should have won an Emmy for her performance as Holly Gibney a very special private detective with perceptive capabilities.
THE CROWN S4 NETFLIX MENDOZA GRADE A
The Charles and Diana season! It covers the 80s and I learned so much! Well written, strong performances and well structured season. You both feel sorry for and then despise Charles. Poor Diana! But it’s the whole family dynamic that doom them booth. They never learn from their mistakes, perhaps none of us really do. It also covers the Thatcher years. Gillian Anderson nails it. You may think you have no desire to see a show about the Royal Family but it’s no different from Downton Abbey and it’s all true!
UNORTHODOX NETFLIX MENDOZA GRADE A
A powerful show based on a true story about a young Jewish woman who escapes her Brooklyn Orthodox marriage and community and searches for a new life in Germany. Her community sends the husband to find her and bring her back. Fascinating behind the curtain look at this community, very frightening how little autonomy women have. Shira Haas is brilliant and heartbreaking as the young woman.
OZARK S3 MENDOZA GRADE A
Just like Breaking Bad, the tension keeps turning up with each season. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are so good. Julia Garner deservedly won an Emmy for her great performance. Newcomer Tom Pelphrey as Linney’s bipolar brother is awesome. The twists and turns are so mind blowing and intense you both want it stop but can’t stop watching. The fourth season will be it’s last. Will anyone survive?
SEX EDUCATION S1 & 2 NETLIX MENDOZA GRADE A-
I’m a big Gillian Anderson fan ever since I crushed on her on The X Files. She’s terrific in this teenage sex comedy show that I found, not only funny, but very refreshingly frank and honest about sexuality. The young cast is very attractive and very entertaining. Anderson plays a well known sex therapist and Asa Butterfield (Hugo) is her inexperienced and awkward teenage son who becomes a popular and helpful sex therapist at his high school. But this is not Porky’s! This is an intelligent and well written show that is both a little raunchy and very sweet.
BILLIONS S5 EPS 1-7 SHO MENDOZA GRADE B+ This show just gets better with each season. Damian Lewis and Paul Giametti are great!
COBRA KAI S1-2 NETFLIX MENDOZA GRADE B+ The Karate Kid movies were big in the 80s and personal favorites. This show is really fun and nostalgic.
HOMELAND S8 SHO MENDOZA GRADE B+ The final season does not disappoint. It is as superb as ever and the final moments were a perfect way to end the show.
THE GOOD LORD BIRD SHO MENDOZA GRADE B+ Ethan Hawke is brilliant as John Brown! This is a mix of history lesson and dark comedy and it nails it.
THE GREAT HULU MENDOZA GRADE B+ Elle Fanning is Catherine The Great and we get to see how she became great in a very funny show. Huzzah!
THE UNDOING HBO MENDOZA GRADE B+ Stylish thriller that will keep you guessing to the end. New York City looks as fabulous as Nicole Kidman’s clothes!
THE WITCHER NETFLIX MENDOZA GRADE B+ Henry Cavill is perfect in this role. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously and is so much fun because of it.
YOUR HONOR SHO MENDOZA GRADE B+ Bryan Cranston returns to the small screen and is neck deep in tense drama again. Every episode will leave you in knots!
THE ALIENIST S2 TNT MENDOZA GRADE B Good, atmospheric thriller. Dakota Fanning is excellent.
AWAY NETFLIX MENDOZA GRADE B Very traditional for a sci-fi show. Solid storytelling and performances by Hilary Swank and Josh Charles.
HIGH FIDELITY HULU MENDOZA GRADE B Surprisingly good adaptation, gender changing John Cusack to Zoe Kravitz. Deserved a second season.
THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA HBO MENDOZA GRADE B Interesting David Simon adaptation of Phillip Roth novel. The timeliness was eerie.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE HULU MENDOZA GRADE B High melodrama with Renee Witherspoon and Kerry Washington going mano a mano!
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY HBO MENDOZA GRADE B Good horror show with mostly black cast and show runners. Takes a few episodes to get going then goes nuts!
PERRY MASON HBO MENDOZA GRADE B- Origin story of the famous lawyer. Nice noir touches, Matthew Rhys is good. Second season should be better.
RAY DONAVAN S7 SHO MENDOZA GRADE B- Always a weird show that I can’t help liking. The main character is such an asshole. The whole family are, really.
THE ROOKIE S2 ABC MENDOZA GRADE B- I like Nathan Fillion, ok! The only network show I watch. Pure formula. But its good mindless fun.
A TEACHER HULU MENDOZA GRADE B- I love Kate Mara. interesting take on teacher/student scandal. Follows both beyond the scandal and how they cope.
WESTWORLD S3 HBO MENDOZA GRADE C I love Westworld. This third season was a disappointment. I’m hoping Season four will rebound to greatness.