How an unexpected reality TV obsession fueled ‘The Good Fight’s’ final season
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who got their J.D. at “The Good Wife” University.
For more than a decade, the CBS legal drama and its Paramount+ spinoff, “The Good Fight,” have tackled politics, tech, pop culture and more through courtroom antics, office romance and a wicked sense of satire — which means it’ll be especially hard to say farewell when “The Good Fight” ends Nov. 10. In this week’s Guest Spot, Yvonne Villarreal catches up with creators Robert and Michelle King about the final season, including the reality TV juggernaut that makes an important cameo.
Plus, a slew of staff and reader recommendations to keep you busy throughout the weekend, whether you’re making final preparations for Halloween or trying to avoid it. And, as always, we’d love to hear what you’re watching: Send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to email@example.com with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.
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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times
As a documented fan of watching extremely creative people doing what it is they do best, Netflix’s “Drink Masters” — in which top mixologists compete to create the best craft cocktails — was practically made to order for me. It’s one part “Top Chef” (bartenders prepare complex drinks using a full kitchen, pantry and liquor cabinet) and one part “Great British Baking Show” (think approachable explanations of traditional drinks and colorful illustrations onscreen), all served on a set that resembles a luxurious nightspot. The series, from the producers of Netflix’s “Blown Away” and “Restaurants on the Edge” and hosted by Tone Bell, describes cocktails as “liquid art,” and, while competitors go all in on glassware, garnishes, aromatics and table-side theatrics, the creation still has to taste great. If you didn’t get into making your own drinks during the pandemic shutdowns, this show might inspire you to finally try it out … or at least deviate from your “usual” order during your next happy hour. —Ashley Lee
The lovely “Big Shot” (Disney+) returns for a second season, snatched from the jaws of cancellation by a long shot from John Stamos, who stars as Marvyn Korn, a former college basketball coach who throws a chair at a referee and finds himself coaching the team at a girls’ high school. This year, the episodes run an economical (in multiple senses) half an hour, instead of an hour, which does the series no harm and, indeed, makes it feel more focused, free from filler, with increased emphasis on Korn’s relationship with daughter Emma (Sophia Mitri Schloss). The twist this season is the presence of boys, temporarily reassigned to the girls’ school after a misfired prank closes theirs. Along with new adventures in coeducation, which is to say, flirting and dating and being dumb like boys can be, they bring their own basketball team, headed by Korn’s former assistant coach, Holly (Jessalyn Gilsig), competing for gym time and sucking up public attention. New to the team is Ava (Sara Echeagaray), a hotshot volleyball star in career recovery time after a display of temper, bringing a volatile new dynamic and holding up a mirror to Korn, who doesn’t love what he sees there. —Robert Lloyd
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
It would be all too easy to say that “The U.S. and the Holocaust” (PBS Passport), from Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, is especially relevant this week, this month or this year. But as their unstinting six-hour docuseries is at pains to stress, antisemitism and other forms of bigotry are as American as baseball and apple pie: The subject is never not relevant. Indeed, though “The U.S. and the Holocaust” moves deftly across the Atlantic throughout the 1930s and ’40s — toggling between nativism in the U.S. and Nazism in Germany; refugees’ attempts to flee the Third Reich and American officials’ efforts to keep them out; the murder of 6 million European Jews; and the Allies’ failure to save them — its most important insight is contained in its 19th century preamble, which details the racist and xenophobic ideas we grew here, and that later inspired Hitler. Of all Burns’ historical docuseries, from “Benjamin Franklin” through “The Vietnam War,” this might be the most astute, and in that astuteness the most shattering. Rooted deeply, ranging widely, arguing unapologetically, it presents Americans not only as paralyzed observers of the Holocaust but as its originators: We were the genocidaires, avant la lettre, and until we reckon with that truth we won’t prevent the next one, either. —Matt Brennan
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
Across 13 years, husband-and-wife showrunners Robert and Michelle King created an eerily prescient, never dull legal drama universe with “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight” (Paramount+). Next month, it all comes to a close with the latter’s series finale, bringing a narrative conclusion to the journey of Diane Lockhart, the hard-charging attorney played by Christine Baranski. Here’s what the Kings had to say about the final season and what current headlines they could have dug into if the show wasn’t ending. —Yvonne Villarreal
Civil unrest takes over the final season. There’s this looming threat of violence, there’s chaos outside, everyone’s on edge. And Diane is as easygoing as ever because of this hallucinogen treatment she’s getting. What did you want out of this last season?
Michelle King: We wanted to reflect the news as we were reading it, which is fear of terrible threats. And we wanted to show them, whether they’d be civil unrest, possible civil war, racism, antisemitism — it’s right there, right outside the window.
Robert King: There’s two movie [references] that come to mind: One is [Jean-Luc] Godard’s “Weekend,” which is set in a violent France; bodies are beside the road. And it’s this couple setting out to figure out whether they’re going to get an inheritance. And then Jacques Tati — oh, my God, I’m talking about French — who moves through chaos and always maintains a balance. And I thought that’s what the comedy of Christine’s character was. Diane is a liberal who’s finding the country’s falling apart around her and she’s still trying to maintain a balance as she walks among the bodies.
Some time has passed since you filmed the finale. If there were one more plot line for Diane that you’d want to do, what would it be?
RK: It’s probably about what’s in the news right now. There was a Republican [candidate] who was caught masturbating in front of a grade school. The show was always inspired by whatever was happening in the news, so it’s that — it might be reaction to the midterms, eventually. We couldn’t say based on the news at the moment, it would be news in a month or three weeks.
Before I let you go, I need to ask about the “Below Deck Sailing Yacht” moment from this season. Where did that come from? Robert, I am convinced you watch it.
MK: You nailed it.
RK: Our daughter, Sophia, told me to watch one. And I said, “Oh, my God. I think this is the stupidest thing I could imagine.” But I watched one and I became obsessed. Gary, all of them. I cannot get enough. The thought of two people on opposite sides of politics having this connection over reality TV — and I think reality TV, by the way, gets a bad rap. “Survivor” has been kind of amazing in its commentary on the country and race relations and everything. “Below Deck” (Bravo, Peacock) is amazing about its satire of rich people. It’s not stupid. Somebody’s editing with a heavy hand to show what rich people are really like. You’re always kind of stunned because there are some nice people and then there are just awful, awful people. And if you’ve worked in retail or in restaurants, you recognize all of those types, you recognize how hard it was to work for people like that. If you want a recommendation, it’s one of those gold star recommendations of a show that may seem stupid to some people, but is not at all.
Recommendations from Screen Gab readers
I liked “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” (Netflix). It was thought-provoking and mysterious but not a horror film. I’m also a Donald Sutherland fan. I hope many people enjoy, and that Stephen King keeps writing more stories that aren’t in the horror category.
Susan Sawyer Allen
Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on
Fri., Oct. 28
“All Quiet on the Western Front” (Netflix): A young German soldier sees the horrors of World War I firsthand in this 2022 adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel.
“The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself” (Netflix): A supernaturally gifted teen comes of age in this new fantasy drama based on Sally Green’s YA trilogy.
“Big Mouth” (Netflix): This adult-themed animated series about the indignities of adolescence returns for Season 6.
“The Devil’s Hour” (Prime Video): It’s 3:33 a.m. — do you know where your serial killer is? “Doctor Who’s” Peter Capaldi stars in this new six-part thriller.
“Drink Masters” (Netflix): Twelve top-shelf mixologists walk into a bar in this new competition hosted by comic Tone Bell.
“I Am a Stalker” (Netflix): This new true crime series features terrifying tales as told by stalking victims as well as the stalkers themselves.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (Apple TV+): The Peanuts gang gets its trick-or-treat on in the classic animated special.
“Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues” (Apple TV+): The jazz great who almost single-handedly invented 20th century popular music is saluted in this new documentary.
“Milk Street’s Cooking School” and “Milk Street’s My Family Recipe” (Roku): Celebrity chef Christopher Kimball co-hosts these new culinary series.
“Run Sweetheart Run” (Prime Video): A single mother goes on the worst blind date ever in this 2020 thriller.
“Wendell & Wild” (Netflix): Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele lend their voices to this 2022 stop-motion-animated horror comedy.
2022 World Series (Fox, 5 p.m.; also Saturday): Baseball’s top two teams slug it out in the opening games of this year’s Fall Classic.
“Monster High” (Nickelodeon, 7 p.m.): They’re too ghoul for school in this new animated series based on the toy franchise.
“A Cozy Christmas Inn” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A real estate executive reconnects with a former flame in this new TV movie. “Full House’s” Jodie Sweetin stars.
“Ghosts of Flight 401” (Travel, 8 p.m.): Paranormal investigators revisit a tragic 1972 air disaster in this new special.
“Urban Legend” (Travel, 10 p.m.): There are things worse than alligators in the sewers lurking in this new horror anthology from Eli Roth.
Sat., Oct. 29
“An Amish Sin” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A teen tries to escape from her insular religious community in this new fact-based TV movie.
“Jolly Good Christmas” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): An American architect in London meets a rather personable personal shopper in this new TV movie.
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 8:29 and 11:29 p.m.): Rapper Jack Harlow pulls double duty as host and performer in this new episode.
Sun., Oct. 30
“Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Celebration of the Life & Music of Loretta Lynn” (CMT, 4 p.m.): The dearly departed country music legend is remembered in a star-studded concert live from Nashville’s Grand Old Opry.
“The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.): The animated sitcom brings the Halloween scares with an all-new “Treehouse of Horror.”
“Ghosts of Christmas Always” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A hunky modern-day Scrooge gets the Dickens scared out of him in this new rom-com.
Mon., Oct. 31
2022 World Series (Fox, 5 p.m.; also Tuesday; and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, if necessary): The Phillies battle the Astros as baseball’s Fall Classic continues.
Tue., Nov. 1
“God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty” (Hulu): This new documentary retells the tale of disgraced evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife and a hotel pool attendant.
“Below Deck Adventure” (Bravo, 9 p.m.): If you have to ask, you can’t a-fjord it in this spinoff set aboard a luxury yacht cruising around Scandinavia.
“Frontline” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The new episode “Putin’s War at Home” examines the resistance the Russian leader is facing in his own country over his actions in Ukraine.
“Jordan Klepper Fingers the Midterms — America Unfollows Democracy” (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.): The sometime “Daily Show” correspondent surveys our divided political landscape in this pre-election special.
Wed., Nov. 2
“Nature” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): A bird in the hand is worth two in the tree in the new episode “Woodpeckers: The Hole Story.”
“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): We’re not saying it was aliens, but ... Who created those ancient geoglyphs in Peru? Find out in the new episode “Nazca Desert Mystery.”
“Secrets of the Dead” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): It’s hard to tell the Eye of Ra from the Eye of Horus in the new episode “Decoding Hieroglyphics.”
Thu., Nov. 3
“Killer Sally” (Netflix): This new true crime series revisits the 1995 murder of professional bodybuilder Ray McNeil by his bodybuilder wife Sally McNeil.
“Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty” (HBO Max): This three-part docuseries investigates a series of scandals involving a once-prominent South Carolina family.
“The Suspect” (AMC+, Sundance Now): “Poldark’s” Aidan Turner plays a psychologist and family man caught up in a conspiracy in this five-part thriller.
“Titans” (HBO Max): This YA-themed live-action series set in the DC Universe is back for Season 4.
“A Wesley Christmas” (BET+): There’s no place like home for the holidays in this new TV movie. With Jasmine Guy.
“The Really Loud House” (Nickelodeon, 7 p.m.): No one uses their inside voice in this new live-action sitcom based on the animated series.
“Rehab Addict Lake House Rescue” (HGTV, 9 p.m.): Nicole Curtis takes on the mother of all renovation projects in her latest series.
“Mountain Men: Ultimate Marksman” (History, 9:30 p.m.): Competitors must demonstrate their prowess with frontier-era weaponry in this new spinoff.
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