Good Shows to Watch When You’ve Got Covid

One consolation of having Covid (and yeah, I’ve had a rebound and it feels like a head cold, but I am now positive again!!) is that you have a good excuse to sit and binge watch shows you’ve been meaning to get to. In my case it was For All Mankind (Season 4) and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Season 1). Both were really good, both on Apple TV+!

For All Mankind was co-created by Ron Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame, and it displays all the strengths and (maybe) excesses of that show. The writing and acting and production are top-notch, and the story arc utterly compelling (alternate history of the space program). It maybe goes overboard on the gritty realism, for my taste—in the sense that virtually every character is conflicted by bad choices and tormented by the ensuing consequences, just like in BSG. The characters are all quite believable, and I wouldn’t call any particular one into question, but the overall angst-o-meter reading is way over into the red, and I might have liked a little break from that. Also, I’m skeptical about the asteroid-diverting orbital dynamics that enabled the Mars-firsters to steal a big asteroid from the Earth-loyalists. But never mind that. It was a terrific watching experience, and it took my breath away at the end.

Monarch was good, too, which was surprising to me, as I watch creature features for the love of the monsters and don’t expect much good writing and characterization. In fact, this was much more a human-character story than it was a monster flick. Godzilla and others appear, but infrequently. (Godzilla still doesn’t have the proper Gronnnnnnnnnk! roar of the original.) And some of the character angles (the antagonism of two step-sibs toward their wayward father, primarily) got beaten into a dead horse at times. But overall, it was entertaining and surprisingly well done.

What to follow that up with? Well, I tried Reacher (Season 2 on Prime), and it was time-filling, but not much more than that. Banal dialogue, endless stupid violence, and if my memory is accurate (not at all a sure thing), it didn’t follow the book it was based on very well. I confess I have listened to many Reacher books via audiobook, and they are definitely a guilty pleasure. Reacher’s an interesting character, and the books are fun action adventure, but basically overloaded with mindless violence. Each time I finish one, I say, “That’s it, no more.” And then another comes out, and I go, “Oh well, maybe one more.” I’m not proud of myself, but there you have it.

Oh, we’ve also been watching Astrid on PBS and Midsomer Murders on Pluto, both excellent. I am trying to memorize the theremin theme to Midsomer so I can learn to play it on my theremin.

Meanwhile, we are getting ready for a trip to Puerto Rico, and the porch reconstruction inches along.

Godzilla Saves the World—Again!

Speaking of culturally significant shows, Julia and I went to see Godzilla a few nights ago. I cannot claim to be an unbiased reviewer, because I have a long-standing affection for the beast and his signature GRONNNNNNGGGK-K-K! In fact, I can see a couple of Godzilla toys on the shelf from where I sit at my computer right now. But I’m highly sensitive to bad versions of Godzilla, of which the version starring Matthew Broderick was one. (It wasn’t a bad monster movie; it just wasn’t Godzilla.)

Anyway, the new one is pretty good! ‘Zilla comes to the rescue when human attempts to stop some other nasty monsters fail. Although, I have to say, we both felt that Godzilla got shorted a little on screen time in comparison to the MUTOs (the Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Objects), which were ugly, massive buglike things. Also, I have to admit that Godzilla’s motivation in the story was pretty vague. But let’s not get all scientific. Of course you can detonate a large fusion warhead just offshore and not flatten San Francisco! It’s a Godzilla movie!

I must confess to some disappointment in the Godzilla roar, though. This interesting video shows the two sound guys who produced it talk about the three-year job of getting it right. And I have to say… close, but uh-uh. The original, produced by a resin-coated leather glove being dragged down the strings of a bass, and then slowed down, was better, in my opinion.

Here you can see how ‘Zilla has evolved over the years, both in body and sound. I thought they got the sound best in the mid ’60s and ’70s.