SPARKY ABRAHAM (FINANCE EDITOR): I haven’t been able to shut up about this show on Netflix called Blown Away. It is like a somewhat-poorly-executed Great British Baking Show but for glass blowing. It’s also absolutely amazing. My parents were glass artists and I’m convinced there is a particular combination of oddities that are characteristic of glass artists. I couldn’t describe all of them but I know them when I see them. It’s a combination of self-grandeur and being very deep in your own head to the point where you’re completely oblivious about what’s going on outside. Also you’re on a lot of drugs. (Maybe this is all artists but I swear glass artists are different.) The people on this show 1,000% fit the stereotype. It’s incredible. In one episode, the theme is food, but one of the guys doesn’t like food (??) so he just decides to make an enchanted forest instead. Like half of them are convinced that everything they make is the greatest thing ever. One lady repeatedly calls everyone else’s work “pedestrian.” Absolute A+ entertainment. And all of this absurd people-watching and interpersonal artist drama is paired with a bunch of actually really cool shots and information about glass blowing. Glass blowing is really fun to watch. These people are manipulating glowing blobs of molten lava into legitimately beautiful (sometimes) creations, and simultaneously saying things that are absolutely insane. It is the perfect television show.
VANESSA A. BEE (ASSOCIATE EDITOR): I can attest to Sparky’s first sentence 🙂
OREN NIMNI (LEGAL EDITOR AND INTERNET HEARTTHROB): So there’s this Australian cooking show on Netflix called The Chefs’ Line. I love cooking shows generally and especially competition cooking shows (although not really The Great British Baking Show, since I’m not as into baking). The Chefs’ Line is sort of a competition but also everyone is kind and self-effacing. The judges are always like “who’s gonna win?!” and all the contestants respond with things like “oh, probably that woman up front,” or “who knows? I’m just happy to be here.” The premise is that home cooks compete against the different levels of a restaurant hierarchy, and they all make food from a particular culture like “Vietnamese” or “Turkish.” Australia also seems to actually be into food from a bunch of different cultures, which is refreshing. At the beginning of the African food week (yeah, not great lumping all of African food together—although those flavors definitely get no play on American TV) one of the home cooks is like “let’s just stop to thank the original holders of this land,” and all the judges are like “yes, yes of course.” It is not a good competition show but it is precious as all hell.
BEE: I will never in this life shut up about Succession, the brilliant satire about an ultra-rich family in turmoil. Put in the time and track down an HBO password so you can treat yourself to the inner layers of this dysfunctional family whose wealth comes from a Fox-like media conglomerate headed by the family’s terrifying patriarch. Hard to say which character is The Worst: Dad? Delusional and self-aggrandizing half-brother Colin? Failed daddy’s boy Kendall? Ruthless daughter Shiv and her power-parched suck-up of a husband Tom? Roman the snake? Gentle cousin Greg? The mysterious stepmom and her devastatingly hot son? Gotta tune in to find out.
So far it sounds like we all love competition! Normal healthy editorial board over here.
LYTA GOLD (AMUSEMENTS AND MANAGING EDITOR): Ok let me tell you all about Poldark, which is not competitive, except the part where I compete with myself to bring maximum entertainment to Brianna Rennix. So Poldark is a drama set in the late 18th/early 19th century about the travails of a minor Cornish aristocrat/mine owner/handsome idiot named Poldark. He is sort of a Virtuous Boss which is horrible, but the show keeps making these furtive gestures at radicalism—like this season features an abolitionist couple who (I think) are based on real people. However I just call them Colonel Crinkles and Mrs. Bonnet in my weekly recaps for Rennix, which I sort of madly type at her while she’s at work trying to free asylum-seeking babies from baby jail. Rennix has seen a few early episodes of the show, but after that—we’re in season 5 now—she’s been relying entirely on my insane recaps which involve fun nicknames for every character such as Spectacular Redhead, Sexy Mine Organizer, Merchant of Death, and of course Colonel Crinkles and Mrs. Bonnet (Mrs. Bonnet has a terrific bonnet game). Is Poldark “good”? I don’t know. Everyone is very pretty and the Cornish seascape is stunning. Mostly I like it for the joy of typing jokes at Rennix. This is the true sharing economy.
AISLING MCCREA (CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AND PODMASTER GENERAL): I would talk about Shtisel but it’s an Israeli show and people will yell at me, and also the second season is boring, so instead I’m going to talk about Jonathan Creek. Jonathan Creek is a British mystery show about a magician who solves crimes. Well, he’s not actually a magician himself, he’s more specifically a…magic technician? Like a guy who designs magic tricks and helps other magicians manage their shows and stuff—which I like, because you don’t often see those sorts of middle-level technical jobs in TV shows. It is also obvious that he is not a magician, because he has zero charisma. The actor who plays him is called Alan Davies, he is one of the BBC’s resident sort of comedian/actor/panel show guests who just kind of…exists, doing his thing and not really ever attempting to do anything in his acting except play himself. Which is fine. It’s fine. His performance on the show is perfectly adequate. Anyway, the hook of the show is that Jonathan Creek uses his knowledge of stage magic to solve crimes. There will be a murder or other crime that happens in some seemingly impossible situation, and he will be the only one who figures out how it happened.
ABRAHAM: Wow, compelling pitch here.
MCCREA: Here’s the thing: if you are reading, say, an Agatha Christie novel, the great thing about it is that the answer to the mystery is just out of your reach—when you know the answer, you feel like you could have figured it out if you’d tried a little harder. Maybe you figured out bits and pieces, but you didn’t quite get it all, and that’s what keeps you hooked. Jonathan Creek, on the other hand, is a show where the answer is always so absolutely ludicrous that you would never have guessed it in a million years. It is an extremely stupid show. For example, there is an episode where a priceless statue goes missing. The answer is that a woman stole it by having a perfect chocolate replica made, switching the statue for the replica and then eating it. Every episode is dumber than the last, and no-one is even trying to act because they’re all fallback BBC actors who ended up on our TV screens in 1994 and somehow never left.
I am going to go watch an episode right now.
NATHAN J. ROBINSON (EDITOR-IN-CHIEF): I seem to remember enjoying a show in which Alan Davies played a chef, but I remember so little about it that I think I may have dreamed it.
MCCREA: That definitely sounds familiar. He also bit a homeless man’s ear:
The victim claimed that he was set upon after he called the actor by the name of his most famous character, Jonathan Creek.
Mr McElfatrick, 40, a former shop worker who is trying to get a hostel place, told how the 2am attack happened last week outside the Groucho Club in London’s West End.
“His face darkened and he almost spat the words, ‘My name’s Alan. You know my name —Alan. What’s my name? It’s Alan.’
“Then he suddenly went for my left ear. It was incredibly painful. I shrieked and my eyes were watering. He hung on and drew blood.”
ROBINSON: He seems so gentle! Every famous person is secretly a monster.
MCCREA: Watching Jonathan Creek also gives you extreme Blair-years vibes. It makes you feel like climate change isn’t really happening and maybe we could all just live in nice houses with fashionable brass clocks.
Also, if you don’t want to be called ‘Jonathan Creek’, don’t appear on a show called Jonathan Creek as the character Jonathan Creek where you do not attempt to act and just continue to be completely indistinguishable from your persona as Alan Davies! This does not seem difficult.
BRIANNA RENNIX (SENIOR EDITOR): I haven’t had much time to watch TV recently because I have been working kind of insane hours, BUT: The last great piece of goofy TV I watched before this week’s madness set in was the Bollywood action-heist flick DHOOM 2. (I previously wrote about my initial foray into Bollywood blockbusters here.) It made exactly zero sense, and I loved every minute of it. The movie opens with the British royal family (including tiny Harry and Will) traveling on a train through the desert in Nairobi (???) with the Crown Jewels (????). The antihero (an international thief of valuable artifacts) manages to sneak onto the train and steal the jewels by disguising himself as……. THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND.
In exactly two seconds he whips off this entire costume and is suddenly dressed like this:
EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH IMMEDIATELY!
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