Julia Garner in "Ozark": Already a black-hearted sleeper of a series on the strength of stars Laura Linney and a typically dry Jason Bateman (who also directs), this relative newcomer on Netflix gets a boost by this actress, who plays a local up to no good as she works alongside Bateman's endangered but equally amoral character. Recognizable in the film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and a recent storyline on FX's "The Americans," Garner's Ruth Langmore leads her downtrodden crime family despite her young age, and her every drawled word reveals someone not to be underestimated.
Chet Doxas' "Rich in Symbols": Recently heard backing trumpeter Dave Douglas in an album paying tribute to the knotty jazz explorations of the late Jimmy Giuffre, Doxas carves out an arresting path on his latest album, which was released earlier this month. Inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other New York City artists in a reflection of his move to the city, the album ventures into a wide-open tributary of instrumental rock backed by a mix of synthesizer and the chameleonic guitar of rising star Matthew Stevens. The results aren't what can be tidily defined as jazz, but its venture beyond categories only makes it richer.
TV's troop escalation: With armed deployments rising and nuclear scenarios becoming more common on TV than even the most fevered of Michael Bay films, what better trend for the networks than a fresh batch of military-themed programming? "SEAL Team," "Valor" and "The Brave" are all arriving as coincidentally timed reminders of our nation's readiness and security, but the timing seems a bit much. Honoring and remembering those who serve is vital — especially in real life, after combat is over — but doesn't escapist nonsense sound lovely right now? Where's a "True Blood" reboot when we need it?
The pro football season: Though TV ratings are again down, football remains a big business, but at this point the NFL has to be grateful for the head start it has on the NBA, which tips off in October and is closing fast in popularity. Basketball now has more compelling teams, a faster pace and far fewer moral compromises when considering the NFL's track record of addressing the impact of concussions, its rampant injuries and the troubling response to dissent from one of its quarterbacks. L.A. may be ready for some pro football with the Rams and Chargers now in town, but for how long?
Follow me over here @chrisbarton.