Need a good cry this weekend? Boy, do we have the TV show for you

A woman with luggage looks around her new flat.
Zoe Saldaña in “From Scratch.”
(Philippe Antonello/Netflix)

Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who needs a good cry.

Whatever the reason — work stress, family squabbles, the unraveling of American democracy and the rule of law — we support your need to let it go, and as Yvonne Villarreal writes in her recommendation, we can suggest the perfect TV series to set off the waterworks: the Italy-set romance “From Scratch,” now streaming on Netflix.

Plus, in Screen Gab No. 59, a time-traveling Spanish spy thriller, a German war movie, and an Australia-born actor playing an American in Guatemala. And, as always, send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to 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

Zoe Saldaña smiles
Zoe Saldañaa as Amy Wheeler in “From Scratch.”
(Stefano Montesi/Netflix)

It’s no secret to those who know me that, when it comes to my viewing preferences, I like a good schmaltzy romance — and I love a good cry. So when I tell you I inhaled all eight episodes of Netflix’s “From Scratch” while crying into my unfolded laundry, please know it was a weekend well spent. The heartfelt limited series tells the wistful love story of a resilient American woman, played by Zoe Saldaña, and a Sicilian man, played by Eugenio Mastrandrea, after a chance meeting in Florence sends them on a decade-plus journey of food, love and loss. Adding to its emotional force, it’s inspired by Tembi Locke’s 2019 memoir of the same name and developed for TV by her sister Attica Locke (“Little Fires Everywhere”). Be prepared to feel the urge to search for flights to Italy while placing a Postmates order for a giant plate of pasta. —Yvonne Villarreal

In the Spanish import “Garcia!” (HBO Max), Francisco Ortiz plays the title character, a handsome, super-strong super spy put into suspended animation in 1961, who awakens in the present day and finds himself adopted by Veki Velilla’s Antonia, a talkative aspiring journalist. It isn’t strictly necessary to know something about the history of modern Spain and Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who was still running the show in 1961 — not yet, as in the early “SNL” Weekend Update bit, “still dead.” But a little research would help to understand the series’ finer cultural and political points, as well as the presence of more religious iconography than your usual thriller. In his pre-suspended life, Garcia worked for an anti-Communist, nationalist, Catholic dictatorship, which some older Spaniards still miss, and now must come to terms with a democratic nation — if one in which political skullduggery is nevertheless rife — even as certain elements try to bring him down. (There are a lot of characters, in two timelines, so pay attention.) Yet the elements of right versus left, and right versus wrong, if somewhat complicated, are generally clear enough. Though there are some tragic storylines, in a Spanish key, this is fundamentally a comedy that comes with romance, action and things to say about the possibility, not to say the necessity, of change. —Robert Lloyd

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

A woman sits pensively at a typewriter as her daughter looks on.
Melissa George, right, with Logan Polish in “The Mosquito Coast.”
(Apple TV+)

In Paul Theroux’s “The Mosquito Coast” and Peter Weir’s 1986 film adaptation, “Mother” is an ardent critic — if at times a fearful one — of her husband’s imperial delusions: “We chose freedom. It’s like being shipwrecked,” Allie Fox says of the family’s life in Honduras. “I didn’t want to be shipwrecked,” she replies. In the Apple TV+ adaptation, which returns for its second season Friday, Mother, named Margot, is harder to pin down. As played by Melissa George, she emerges as a chameleonic figure, at once seduced by Allie’s vision of life off the grid and skeptical about his capacity for pulling it off. (She’s also no shrinking violet: She’s constantly creating diversions to help her family out of scrapes.) And this season, as the action shifts from the deserts of Mexico to the rainforests of Guatemala, Margot is more assertive than ever. Screen Gab caught up with George to discuss the new season, her first TV love, and what she’s watching. —Matt Brennan

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

I am very much into “Outlander” (Starz), it’s everything. I love the actors Sam [Heughan] and Caitriona [Balfe] together and the Scottish accents that take me back to my ancestors. I have followed it since Day 1, and have lived the scenes over and over.

What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (Prime Video), every single year around Christmastime.


One of the key shifts from Season 1 to Season 2 is the Foxes’ departure from Mexico to Guatemala. How does that new backdrop change the family’s trajectory?

The first season we were a family on the run, going from the USA and finding us on what may appear as a lovely family road trip with the incredible backdrop of the Mexican desert and then through all of Mexico City. We escape and find ourselves ocean bound on a trawler somewhere between Mexico and the Mosquito Coast, for what was promised as a peaceful and final sanctuary. When we arrive in Casa Roja Guatemala, everything we thought it would be it isn’t — beautiful to the eye, but terribly strange. And Margot has a plan on how to get them out. But to where? The question is whether her husband, Allie, will follow or resist.

“Alias,” in which you had a key role as Lauren Reed, is the first TV show I was every truly obsessed with. It was appointment viewing on Sunday nights in my house. What was your first TV love?

My first TV love was “The Brady Brunch” (Paramount+, Pluto). I have been imitating Americans since I was a child and now I get to play one for a living.

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Recommendations from Screen Gab readers

Netflix's "All Quiet on the Western Front."
(Reiner Bajo)

Both the 1930 (VOD) and 2022 (Netflix) versions of “All Quiet on the Western Front” are based on Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 book of the same name, which describes what happens to four friends who enlist on the German side during “the War to End All Wars.”

The horrors of the trench warfare leave their mark as one by one each of the friends is killed. The 2022 version, in color, is more graphic in its approach to visualizing the wastefulness of the battles of man versus machine.

There are several instances of the same scene being presented in both films that ties them together. To my mind the difference in endings is an advantage to the 1930 version in its simplicity and thoughtfulness. The 2022 inclusion of the armistice forced on Germany presages the economic hardships that helped give rise to Hitler in the 1930s.

Both film versions are well worth the viewing time.

Steve Cherry
La Quinta

What’s next

Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on

Fri., Nov. 4

“Both Sides of the Blade” (AMC+): Juliette Binoche is torn between two lovers, feelin’ like a fool in this 2022 romantic drama directed by Claire Denis.


“Buying Beverly Hills” (Netflix): If you have to ask, you definitely can’t afford it in this new real estate series.

“Causeway” (Apple TV+): Jennifer Lawrence plays an American soldier readjusting to civilian life after suffering a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan in this 2022 drama.

“Enola Holmes 2” (Netflix): The game is afoot — again! “Stranger Things’” Millie Bobby Brown reprises her role as Sherlock’s kid sister in this 2022 sequel to the 2020 mystery tale. With Henry Cavill.

“Manifest” (Netflix): This drama about the mysterious reappearance of a missing passenger jet returns from cancellation for a fourth and final season.

“The Mosquito Coast” (Apple TV+): This drama based on the Paul Theroux novel and starring his nephew, Justin Theroux, is back for Season 2.

“My Policeman” (Prime Video): Pop star Harry Styles plays a British copper with a complicated romantic life in this LGBTQ-themed 2022 drama. “The Crown’s” Emma Corrin also stars.

“Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” (Apple TV+): The actor, pop singer and former child star shares her mental-health journey in this new documentary.


“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (Roku): “Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe portrays the accordion-wielding musical parodist in this satirical 2022 biopic. With Evan Rachel Wood.

“Lopez vs. Lopez” (NBC, 8 p.m.): Veteran comic George Lopez gets his daughter Mayan Lopez into the act in this new family sitcom.

“A Magical Christmas Village” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): “That Girl’s” Marlo Thomas and “Days of Our Lives’” Alison Sweeney play mother and daughter in this new holiday tale.

“Young Rock” (NBC, 8:30 p.m.): This sitcom about the youthful misadventures of pro wrestler turned action star Dwayne Johnson returns with new episodes.

“Great Performances” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): The New York Philharmonic moves back into its recently refurbished digs with a celebratory concert that includes Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

Sat., Nov. 5


“Musical Matinee” (TCM, 9 a.m.): This new weekly series spotlighting classic Hollywood musicals kicks off with 1951’s “An American in Paris” starring Gene Kelly.

“Lights, Camera, Christmas!” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A local shop owner meets a hunky actor who’s in town to shoot a new rom-com in this new TV movie.

“Merry Swissmas” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): An American architect (Jodie Sweetin) meets a hunky single dad in Switzerland in this new TV movie.

Sun., Nov. 6

“Christmas Cookie Challenge” and “Holiday Wars” (Food Network, 8 and 9 p.m.): The seasonal competitions return.

“All Saints Christmas” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): An R&B singer (Ledisi) heads home to New Orleans in this new TV movie.

“Well Suited for Christmas” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A fashion designer hooks up with a hunky bachelor in this new TV movie.


“Dangerous Liaisons” (Starz, 8 p.m.): Seduction is still the name of the game in this prequel to the classic 18th century novel. With Lesley Manville.

“Family Karma” (Bravo, 9 p.m.): This reality series set in Miami’s Indian American community returns for a third season.

“Spector” (Showtime, 9 p.m.): This four-part docuseries revisits the 2003 murder of actor Lana Clarkson by legendary pop music producer Phil Spector.

Mon., Nov. 7

“Judy Justice” (Freevee): The honorable Judge Judith Sheindlin presides over a second season of her latest courtroom show.

“Holiday Baking Championship” and “Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown” (Food Network, 8 and 10 p.m.): These other seasonal competitions also return.

“The Culpo Sisters” (TLC, 9 p.m.): This trio of sibling social-media influencers land their own reality series.


“Independent Lens” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): A dancer paralyzed from the chest down in an accident shares her story in the 2022 documentary “Move Me.”

Tue., Nov. 8

“Neal Brennan: Blocks” (Netflix): The comic and “Chappelle’s Show” co-creator cracks wise in a new stand-up special.

“Triviaverse” (Netflix): All that useless trivia taking up space in your brain could come in handy in this new interactive challenge.

Midterm elections (various times and channels): News outlets offer live coverage of contests across the nation throughout the day and evening.

“Say Hey, Willie Mays!” (HBO, 9 p.m.): The baseball legend whose career took him from the Negro leagues to the majors is saluted in this new sports documentary.


Wed., Nov. 9

“The Crown” (Netflix): “Harry Potter’s” Imelda Staunton takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth as this historical-ish drama returns for its penultimate season.

“FIFA Uncovered” (Netflix): The international governing body for soccer comes under scrutiny in this new investigative series.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu): The dystopian drama based on the Margaret Atwood novel ends its fifth season. Elisabeth Moss stars.

“The Montaners” (Disney+): Get up close and personal with one of the first families of Latin music in this new Spanish-language docuseries.

“Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 4” (Prime Video): Models strut their scantily clad stuff in items from Rihanna’s lingerie line in this new special.


“Save Our Squad With David Beckham” (Disney+): The English soccer star does his best Ted Lasso in this new unscripted series.

“The 56th Annual CMA Awards” (ABC, 8 p.m.): Country veteran Alan Jackson is singled out for special honors and Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning co-host.

“Nature” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): Look at his little spots! Meet one of the wildest wildcats you ever did see in “American Ocelot.”

“Pawn Stars Do America” (History, 8 p.m.): The Las Vegas crew takes its show on the road in this new spinoff.

“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): Baffled by bitcoin? Nervous about NFTs? The new episode “Crypto Decoded” explains it all for you.

“Secrets of the Dead” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): “Hidden in the Amazon” uncovers evidence of pre-Columbian civilizations in the vast South American jungle.


“Hard Knocks in Season” (HBO, 10 p.m.): The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals take the field in Season 2 of this spinoff docuseries.

“Secret Restoration” (10 p.m., History): Professional crafters take old and busted items and make them good as new in this new series.

Thu., Nov. 10

“The Calling” (Peacock): A deeply devout detective (Jeff Wilbusch) tries to make a difference on the mean streets of New York City in this new procedural drama.

“Falling for Christmas” (Netflix): Spoiled heiress Lindsay Lohan gets amnesia, hilarity ensues in this new holiday rom-com.

“The Good Fight” (Paramount+): This “Good Wife” spinoff starring Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald ends its six-season run.


“State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith” (Netflix): A woman convicted of killing her alleged assailant tells her side of the story in this new documentary.

“Christmas on Mistletoe Lake” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A holiday traveler hooks up with a hunky single dad in this new TV movie.

“Atlanta” (FX, 10 p.m.): The hip-hop-themed comedy created by and starring Donald Glover wraps its fourth and final season.