The five TV shows we can’t get enough of this week
While television is nowhere near back to “normal,” it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon: The broadcast networks are already starting to roll out their pandemic-shaped fall schedules, and their stars are already plotting how to get back to work. Which means you may have moved on from the “just let me binge until this is all over” stage of self-quarantine to something more like acceptance.
Whether you’re gobbling up Netflix comedies like “Never Have I Ever” and “Dead to Me” or digging into the history behind “Mrs. America,” we’re bound to be covering something to your taste. That includes this recommendation engine, in which the TV team at The Times tells you what we’re watching each week. Think of it as your work-from-home water cooler, where we bring the water cooler to you.
The Times TV team recommends the five TV shows we’re watching this week — and that you should be watching too.
“At Home With Amy Sedaris”
Available on: truTV, VOD
While you’re stuck at home, why not catch up on this delightfully warped sketch comedy show from Amy Sedaris, which offers a surreal and enjoyably apolitical distraction from our present circumstances? Set in a bright, vintage-style kitchen, “At Home,” which returns for Season 3 later this month, draws inspiration from “The Lawrence Welk Show,” “SCTV” and “At Home With Peggy Mann,” a show that aired in the ’70s on the public television station in North Carolina, where Sedaris grew up. She hosts the show and also plays a number of eccentric supporting characters who could all be descendants of Jerri Blank, her character in the cult comedy “Strangers With Candy.” There’s “Regional Wine Lady” Ronnie Vino, a lush who offers tips on getting drunk on cheap booze; Patty Hogg, a busybody with a thick-as-gumbo Southern drawl; and Nutmeg, whose distinguishing feature is a nose turned up with tape. Chassie Tucker, a neighbor played by comedian and cabaret star Cole Escola, also stops by regularly. Episodes are arranged around seemingly innocuous themes (“Dining for One,” “Entertaining for Peanuts”) but take gonzo, hilariously macabre turns, such as a holiday episode in which Sedaris is attacked by a demonic nutcracker. At a time when TV is flooded with topical humor, “At Home” is refreshingly free of contemporary references — there’s no Trump, no cellphones, no social media. What’s not to love?
— Meredith Blake
Available on: Hulu
For the sports-starved, I cannot recommend “Pitch” enough. The 2016 drama series — which has just been added to Hulu — centers on Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), a 23-year-old pitcher who shatters the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to play in the major leagues. Produced in partnership with Major League Baseball (its first-ever scripted endeavor), its 10 episodes include real baseball teams, Fox Sports camera angles and graphics, and numerous cameos by actual sports journalists — all the things you might miss seeing in the midst of a halted season. Plus, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is the superstar team captain, Ali Larter is Ginny’s cutthroat agent and Bob Balaban owns the San Diego Padres! This show really should’ve been renewed beyond its home run of a debut season, which offers enough excitement on and off the field to entertain you while arenas remain empty.
— Ashley Lee
Milo Ventimiglia, who plays beloved dad Jack Pearson on the NBC drama “This Is Us,” discusses life and work in — and after — the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Happy Days of Garry Marshall”
Available on: ABC
Nearly four years after Marshall’s death, the Disney/ABC fun complex mounts a tribute Tuesday to the producer, director and/or writer of some of its most popular and enduring entertainments. In an age of “Fleabag” and “Russian Doll,” it’s easy to underrate Marshall’s work, which included the television series “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “Mork & Mindy,” and the films “Pretty Woman,” “Beaches” and “The Princess Diaries”; framed here, their optimism and humanity and old-fashioned romanticism seem almost radical. Sadly missing are examples of his own acting — if you want to see him as a casino boss in Albert Brooks’ “Lost in America” or as the network head on “Murphy Brown,” you must go elsewhere. But there is nonetheless plenty of Marshall, seen on set and in home movies and heard recounting his life in an indelible Bronx accent — a fount of light, love and goofy good times. (Henry Winkler calls him “the most idiosyncratic human being I think I ever met in my life.”) The stars turn out in force to remember, praise and wipe away a tear. You may too.
— Robert Lloyd
Available on: AppleTV+
As someone who takes joy in going to open houses just to see what other homes look like — and isn’t doing any of that these days — this series is a good addition to the home porn genre. The nine-episode first season takes viewers inside a variety of homes that are anything but traditional — there’s a 344-square-foot Hong Kong apartment that can transform into a variety of layouts; a home encased in a greenhouse in Sweden; and 3-D printed communities in a poverty-stricken portion of Mexico. The series is visually stunning and will make you wish your space wasn’t so average, but learning about the people living in the homes, and those who’ve made them, is just as compelling.
— Yvonne Villarreal
Available on: PBS Passport, VOD
I confess, I’m not actually watching “Wolf Hall” — yet. I’m re-reading the two books on which it’s based, “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies,” before picking up “The Mirror & the Light,” the final installment of Hilary Mantel’s magnificent trilogy of historical novels about the life and times of Thomas Cromwell. But I am already looking forward to revisiting the BBC/PBS adaptation along the way, and keeping my fingers crossed that the third installment spawns a continuation. Rather remarkably, the five-part miniseries, written by Peter Straughan and directed by Peter Kosminsky, manages not to lose the propulsive force of Mantel’s prose in the genre’s luxe period trappings. Instead, anchored by Mark Rylance’s cunning performance as Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who against all odds became Henry VIII’s (Damian Lewis) right-hand man, it feels exceedingly modern. Of special note, “Wolf Hall” features Claire Foy as an ice pick-sharp Anne Boleyn — a clear progenitor of her Emmy-winning turn as another chilly monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in “The Crown.”
— Matt Brennan
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