This weekend, after you're done ordering takeout, picking up booze to go, and checking out one of these local livestreamed events... you'll probably still have plenty of free time, because there's not much else to do in Seattle right now. But that's where we come in! Bobby Roberts, the Portland Mercury's calendar editor, has curated these suggestions for TV shows and movies to watch online this weekend, podcasts to listen to, and music to stream from artists whose Seattle shows this week were canceled. Hit the links below and entertain yourself accordingly (and safely)!
Is it a "docuseries?" Is it a "reality show?" Whatever the hell it is, it's compelling—so compelling that our sister paper the Portland Mercury's Wm. Steven Humphrey, from the day it premiered until... well, he's still doing it, so until you read this—would begin all conversations with the question "Have you seen Cheer yet?" If you haven't, the pitch is basically "Friday Night Lights, but for cheerleaders," and there is apparently not a single human emotion this show won't wring out of you over the course of its run.
Noah Hawley's ongoing homage to their filmography was supposed to continue this April with a mid-century gangster drama starring Chris Rock as the head of a Kansas City crime organization. But since that's been pushed back due to COVID, it's a good excuse to revisit the three preceding seasons, each set in different time periods and telling different "true" stories of sadly comedic criminal exploits. It's not much (if any) of an exaggeration to say Fargo is responsible for best-ever performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and Kirsten Dunst, and features Coens vets like Thornton, David Thewlis, and Michael Stuhlbarg putting in work just as good (if not better) than the work they delivered for the Coens themselves. Season three was, at the time, considered a step down from the previous two, but it's aged very well, very fast.
Reese Witherspoon is getting some love right now for starring in the adaptation of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere (more on that below). But don’t miss this dark flipside to Ms. Witherspoon's '90s output. Witherspoon shocked the living shit out of people who only knew her from Man in the Moon by starring in this straight-to-HBO, Oliver Stone-produced trash epic. It's an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, where Red is a "trickbaby" on her way to gramma's house, stalked by a serial killer shitbag named Bob (Kiefer Sutherland) as her "big bad wolf." Co-starring Bokeem Woodbine, Brooke Shields, and Brittany Murphy, who steals the whole film in about two minutes. She did that a lot in the '90s.
The co-star, co-writer, and co-genius behind Broad City was bringing laughs and political activism across the country with her comedic "Horny 4 Tha Polls" tour. But even though the 'rona stopped her from coming through Seattle for her show this week, now you can hang out in your living room with this queen: Her Amazon Original special The Planet is Burning is streaming right now. And if you want to make it an extra- authentic Ilana experience: shut your phones down, put em in a bag, enjoy a delicious gummy or smoky treat, and really be there as Ms. Glazer goes all in.
(Amazon Prime Video)
The Joy of Painting
Look, sometimes the obvious choice is the obvious choice because it's the right one. It's probably not correct to say we're "settling in" or "getting used to" whatever this whole thing is, but we're definitely starting to feel it. And Bob Ross is like Calamine lotion for your nerves. (Editor's Note: Calamine lotion is Calamine lotion for your nerves, bright eyes.) The man is an absolute legend, and inspiration, and it's almost impossible to watch and not feel some level of comfort as he pulls a landscape out of thin air with a brush, a knife, and that weird blue he always uses (Pthalamo? Prusha-flush? Whatever). Is it cliche to suggest this balm for the anxious soul? Maybe. Who gives a shit. It's The Joy of Painting.
(Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime with subscription; YouTube and Tubi free with ads)
..aaaaand on the other end of the spectrum, this hypnotic, sinister fever-dream of a TV show that I still cannot believe ever existed, much less lasted three seasons on prime-time network television. NBC aired this crazy shit for three years straight! Ironically, that it was on network television probably led to its being mostly ignored while it was on, and being mostly forgotten once it left—if it had been on AMC, or HBO, hell, even Starz, people would still be writing 10,000-word thumbsuckers about it. But instead, it's just this quiet, unassuming, completely bugfuck nuts work of mad art from showrunner Bryan Fuller, effectively rewriting almost the entire Hannibal Lecter canon and making it all his: His Hannibal is the best Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), his Will Graham is the best Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), his Jack Crawford is the best Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), and there is maybe no TV show that has ever looked as flat-out amazing as this show always does.
Bad news: The Letterkenny Live show at the Paramount in April was canceled due to coronavirus. GREAT NEWS: The show is streamable on Hulu. It was always streamable, it hasn't gone anywhere, but just in general, the news that Letterkenny is streamable? Great news. Letterkenny is ostensibly a sitcom about the escapades of small-town Canadian cliques bumping into each other, but it's really just live-action Looney Tunes for linguistics nerds, a love-letter to the silly ways silly people communicate their serious passions. Sure, there's a few duds in its run—you don't hit eight seasons without stubbing your toe once or twice—but when it's good? It's fuckin' great.
Little Fires Everywhere
Hulu's latest big buzzy original drama is this adaptation of Celeste Ng's best-selling book. Reviews have knocked the adaptation for essentially removing all nuance from Ng's novel, and it's hard to disagree that the story is a lot louder than it was on the page, Ng's novel is set in the mid-'90s, but never quite channeled it. This show doesn't feel like the book... but the sour, entitled, pretty-on-the-outside-but-mean-as-fuck-for-no-good-reason vibe it absolutely nails from its first 15 minutes on? That's some genuinely authentic '90s nastiness, the kind of sunshine-covered bitterness these characters would snidely razz as they watched their umpteenth hour of Ricki Lake from the comfort of their couch.
Soaking in the frosty cool, dark-blue look of Ozark really does feel like slipping into a cold lake on a hot day. Bill Dubuque’s Netflix show, set around the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri, returns for its third season this weekend. The show is not without flaws, the biggest of which is the very familiar ground it traverses. But there’s plenty of enjoyment to be derived from its family-crime/hillbilly-noir clichés. Jason Bateman, who also directed a few episodes, plays a Chicago financial planner who gets caught up in criminal activity, and Laura Linney plays his cheating wife. The plot device that gets their family to the Ozarks is pretty nonsensical—Bateman desperately needs to launder $8 million, stat—but once there, the show luxuriates in its world of redneck crime. Sure, it enforces some red-state stereotypes and Bateman is both super fun to watch and all-wrong for this part, but Julia Garner (The Americans) as a 19-year-old member of an Ozark crime family is the standout. It’s like a lite version of dark antihero/family crime shows like Breaking Bad and Bloodline, crossed with a little Justified for extra fun. NED LANNAMANN
The Plausible Impossible
Almost everyone who has had Disney+ for longer than a couple weeks has bumped up against the "now what" question that comes once you run out of new Baby Yoda episodes. Well there are a ton of hidden gems on Disney+, you just have to work to unearth 'em. Like this 1956 episode of Disneyland/The Magical World of Disney that is categorized as its own stand-alone movie, whose thumbnail makes it look like an animated feature, but is actually a documentary hosted by Walt Disney himself, breaking down the concepts and principles that make animation even work. It's remarkable for how cleanly it gets across some pretty complicated ideas, and even more remarkable when you remember this fairly-sophisticated behind-the-scenes documentary was a throwaway hour of disposable mid-century television. Thankfully, it's been resurrected on Disney+, and is one of the best hours you'll spend there.
The Rockford Files
People are definitely on the lookout for televisual comfort food in these trying times, and the good stuff comes in a multitude of flavors. One of the very best is very plaid, very laid back, and very, very good at driving. It's also got an all-time top-five TV theme song. There are a lot of landmark things The Rockford Files did in its six-season run, but the most impactful is how thoroughly it redefined what a detective show could be. James Garner wasn't a hardboiled gumshoe, or a deadly-serious flatfoot. He was a schlub. A smart, sneaky, smartassed schlub, but a schlub all the same, one who lived in a trailer, hung out with his retired dad, got beat up all the time, and never answered his phone. But most importantly, he's an extremely rewatchable schlub, and the more you watch, the more you might find yourself drawing a line from Jim Rockford's shambling method of solving mysteries to...
Royal Ocean Film Society
It's weird that one day YouTube was where you went to see bootleg Saturday Night Live sketches, and the next day it basically became the economy; it's how a lot of people maintain solvency through self-employment in the 21st century. This can be bad (see: every grifting hate-monger you've ever heard of in your life making literal millions there like the worst evolution of Rupert Pupkin come true), but it can also be really cool. For example: Literally millions of youths now love essays. This was not always a normal thing, youths voluntarily watching filmed essays, and practicing in their free time to become better essay makers. But there are now a wealth of very insightful, well-produced, good-and-good-for-you channels dedicated to the video essay, and one of the best of these channels is Royal Ocean Film Society. His essays are very insightful, artistically produced, critically fair, and typically less than 10 minutes long, 20 at the most; a far cry from the two-hour-long spittle-flecked iPhone'd bile-dumps that jump off the screen like facehuggers the second you type the words "The Last Jedi" into any search bar anywhere. Try out the Royal Ocean's ten-years-later retrospective on Fantastic Mr. Fox here, and if/when you love it - hit subscribe, and then start going through that backlog. (His look at Tartakovsky's Primal is very, very good, too).
Solo: A Star Wars Story
One of the more interesting online phenomena during our communal self-quarantine occurred earlier this week when people came together to fight passionately over... Marvel movies. Specifically, whether Iron Man 3 was worse than Thor: The Dark World. This conversation was useful in a couple ways; it exposed literally thousands of self-proclaimed Marvel fans as tasteless nippleheads (Iron Man 3 is easily one of the best films Marvel Studios has produced you gormless dorks), but it also introduced the notion of giving internet-demonized films a fair reappraisal since we're all cooped up and have tons of time to kill. And in that spirit, I'd like to suggest that while you're on Disney+, slide over to that Star Wars tag and spend a Lazy Sunday with Solo: A Star Wars Story, the second-lowest grossing Star War ever, a film that isn't particularly great at anything, but is much better than its box-office and weirdly weaponized word-of-mouth would suggest. If you love The Mandalorian, Solo is the Star War that feels the most like it. As our review stated: "Solo, a film about a charming dipshit who succeeds despite his dumbassery, is a very entertaining movie! Much like its plot, Solo shouldn’t work. It doesn’t work. It wins anyway."
Star Trek: Picard
A couple weeks ago, Erik Henriksen recommended the hell out of this, saying "Star Trek: Picard is great—anchored by a fantastic performance from Patrick Stewart, the show, overseen by Michael Chabon, ticks off all the sci-fi boxes (spaceships! laser guns! acid-spewing aliens!) while also weighing in on current events and reflecting on personal frailty and societal obligation. (In other words... pretty much like the best Star Trek, then.)" So why are we recommending the hell out of it again? Because Picard himself told people on Tuesday that you can get a month of CBS All Access free, and Picard's season finale was last night. So if you wanted to binge it in one weekend—say, this weekend, for example—all you have to do is make it so.
(CBS All Access)
You Suck at Cooking
Cooking shows are pretty popular here on lockdown. You Suck at Cooking is one of the most popular cooking shows on YouTube, and for good reason: It doesn't put on airs. It knows you're probably not that good at any of this, but it also knows that doesn't matter so long as what you make ends up tasting good, and with that in mind, "You Suck at Cooking" packs a lot of cool ideas into a cleverly-produced lo-fi package. For instance, take this trip through the myriad ways one can funk out a single package of ramen!
When the world is in turmoil, it can be soothing to look back at equally wackadoodle moments in history, if only to be reminded that this horror show isn’t new. But actual history texts can feel like dry homework. The Dollop podcast never does. Each week, charming hosts Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds explore strange, discomfiting moments from our deeply flawed history. They were supposed to do a live show here this weekend, but it's been rescheduled to December, so instead, visit their site and just pick any historical event they have available at random, and settle in for the ride: it’s just what we need.
One of the most reliably entertaining podcasts on the popular Ringer network is The Rewatchables, a loosely-structured roundtable discussion on films that aims to blend Siskel & Ebert with First Take. As irritating as this might sound in the abstract, in practice it's often a delightful dive into some of cinema's most notable successes, and while those dives never get too deep (it's a Bill Simmons joint, after all) each 90-minute listen really does manage to artfully blend the best aspects of sports-talk bullshit with Film-Twitter-esque comedy takes. A good hop-on point is their No Country for Old Men episode, with special guest star Bill Hader, who reveals that a big part of why his show Barry is successful is because of his love of this instant Coens classic.
It's inarguable: video games long ago evolved into a legitimate and frequently affecting storytelling medium. But unfortunately, "storytelling" in games is too often just an exercise in loosely adapting a developer's favorite movie as a warmed over facsimile of some other thing they love, a thing that isn't really the game you're playing. But now there are a multitude of examples highlighting just how uniquely engrossing and emotionally rewarding games can be, and 2018's Florence is a great one: It originally came out for iOS/Android, and immediately caused a rash of jerked tears on public transit as people opened this puzzle-game on their commute and closed it a half-hour later having gone on a 6-act journey through Florence's love-life. It's still available on mobile platforms, but it's recently been ported to Steam and Nintendo Switch. It's not very expensive, it doesn't take very long, but it's 100-percent worth every minute of your time spent playing it.
Games Done Quick
Gaming as spectator sport has always been part of the phenomena—everyone has a fond memory of watching from the couch as a sibling or parent fumbled through a game, but Twitch.tv was the first platform to make that experience a big fat moneymaking thing. As with anything popular online, some of its biggest stars are some of its worst people, but Twitch's unassailable saving grace is Games Done Quick, a twice-yearly telethon built around watching people absolutely demolish your favorite games as fast as possible while raising money for charities. The series started as a broadcast from a single couch, and is now barely contained by the convention centers they occupy, routinely raising multi-millions with every new installment. But setting all that aside; it's just plain fun to see what these people can do to a game. Start here, with local speed-run all-star Grand PooBear hilariously and educationally talking his way through some of the craziest Super Mario World levels ever devised while simultaneously raising tens of thousands for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Games are an absolute sanity-saver in our new sheltered-in-place reality—but they're also kind of expensive? At least the new ones are. Some retailers are being smart about this and offering deep discounts on older games, and some gamers are digging into their backlogs instead of buying something new. But if you're looking for a cheap-yet-deep dive into gaming goodness, you can't go wrong with Ori and the Blind Forest, a breathtakingly beautiful platforming game that is one of the best of its kind ever made. It can get hard as hell, but that's what difficulty sliders are for, and there ain't a damn thing wrong with setting those suckers as low as they can go and just vibing with the gorgeous and wistful atmosphere this game provides. And if you end up falling in love with Ori (you probably will, it's pretty hard not to) you might decide it's worth digging back in the wallet to download its brand-new sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
(Ori and the Blind Forest on Xbox One, Steam, and Nintendo Switch, $19.99; Ori and the Will of the Wisps on Xbox One and Steam, $29.99)
World of Warcraft
Blizzard is inviting you to while away the hours in self-quarantine by
falling off the wagon happily returning to the realm of Azeroth, and firing up World of Warcraft once again, and to sweeten the deal, anyone who does make their way back to those magical MMORPG lands will get double the XP from now until April 20th. Also, I don't understand what any of the following actually means, but it sounds important, so make of it what you will: "Players will also be able to take advantage of this experience boost while still using their favorite heirlooms. It won’t take long before you’ll be facing off with the Old God N’Zoth and his minions in Ny’alotha, the Waking City." Got that? Good. Godspeed to you, warriors of Azeroth.
Soul knows no boundaries, and pretty convincing proof of that is someone as damn good as Allen Stone came out of Chewelah, Washington. He was set to deliver a show earlier this week that would definitely have the Showbox's floor bouncing before COVID-19 said otherwise, but now's a good time to bust out the headphones (or turn up your speakers if the neighbors don't mind) and give some run to Stone's latest LP, Building Balance.
These guys didn't come by their band name by accident—check out Sonic Citadel, the latest LP from this Providence-hailing noise rock institution, starring drummer/vocalist Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson. They were going to be in town this weekend, but you can still turn them up nice and loud in your own living room right now.
For some, Wilco has become the punchline of a lame joke about music made for settling into 21st century fatherhood. It’s true that the veteran Chicago rock band has a few khaki-Dockers albums in its discography, but 2015’s Star Wars found Jeff Tweedy and company embracing a “less is more” aesthetic: It felt buzzy and squirmy and eccentric and tossed off, in a good way. And Tweedy’s masterful two-night stand at Pickathon 2016 was a good reminder that few (if any) humans have written more great songs in the past three decades. Though Wilco's Seattle shows earlier this month were canceled, you should watch him perform "One Wing" from Pickathon here, and then follow that up with a viewing of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco, a must-see documentary about the band that is, oddly, only available for rent or purchase on Vimeo.BEN SALMON