Capitol Notes

2020 Television Diary

Where does the time go?

Well, apparently in 2020, I spent most of it on our living room sectional wondering about the fate of Carole Baskin’s first husband, getting pumped to play chess and imagining life as a vampire.

Here is a list of the good, the bad and the Billy Joel dance number that I watched over the last 12 months on my television.

The Last Dance – Enjoyed the first half of this Michael Jordan documentary and all the never before seen footage, but it was about two episodes too long for me.

Dark (seasons 1-3) – This German-language  series on Netflix shot out of the gate with an amazing first season in 2017 and I’m glad I binged all 26 episodes this summer, even though it eventually became more convoluted than Lost.

Utopia (season 1) – My life would have been OK if I never discovered this Amazon remake of a British show, which is extremely graphic and not a lot of fun.

The Boys (season 2) – The original satirical comic sounds better than the actual television show on Amazon, even with a fun performance from Aya Cash.

The Chef Show (season 2, volume 1; season 1, volume 3) – Always enjoy hanging with chef Roy Choi and audience avatar Jon Favreau on this Netflix cooking show that was born out of the movie Chef.

The Umbrella Academy (season 2) – Blah. Pass.

Middleditch & Schwartz (season 1) – Three episodes of zany improvised fun on Netflix.

Godless (limited series) – A beautiful western on Netflix that stretches on for one or two many episodes too long, but definitely worth watching.

Tiger King (limited series) – Remember when this was a thing on Netflix? Immensely watchable.

Ugly Delicious (season 2) – This season was less focused on a discussion about food and the change wasn’t for the better.

Unbelievable (limited series) – This real-life Netflix series is a difficult watch, but it’s a compelling story with amazing performances by a powerful cast of actresses.

Altered Carbon (season 2) – Interesting sci-fi premise that doesn’t translate to a good season of content.

A.P. Bio (season 3) – This former NBC sitcom had new life on Peacock and was as good as ever with an hilarious cast of kids.

30 Rock (seasons 1-7) – This rewatch was the comfort television I needed.

Bojack Horseman (seasons 1-6) – Rewatched the first five-and-a-half seasons in anticipation for the very dark final half of this Netflix send up of Hollywood culture. If you grew up reading Entertainment Weekly and have the IMDB app on your phone, this show is for you.

Devs (limited series) – Was so excited an Alex Garland television show, but this artsy fartsy sci-fi experience was not for me.

Happy Valley (seasons 1-2) – Loved the first season of this surprisingly dark, female-led British crime show, which had a bit of a sophomore decline. Enjoyed a rewatch of the first season with my wife.

Broadchurch (season 3) – This British crime drama starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant found new life with a new crime, but fell short of the highs of the original season. 

Hard Knocks (Los Angeles) – The recurring HBO football documentary suffered because of a focus on repetitive pandemic storylines.

Insecure (seasons 1-4) – Why didn’t I start this HBO show earlier?!?!? So glad I took the plunge. 

Ted Lasso (season 1) – Really surprised by how much I enjoyed this Apple sitcom inspired by a recurring character for NBC Sports promos. 

The Great (season 1) – The Hulu original feels like a combination of The Favourite and Marie Antoinette, but easier to digest. 

Future Man (season 3) – This Hulu original may scratch the screwball, time traveling itch in your life. Or you’ll think it’s dumb.

Handmaids Tale (season 3) – The hardest part about this show is jumping in every season (because it’s a depressing premise), but it’s always  enjoyable, even though Elisabeth Moss’s character should have been killed last season.

What We Do in the Shadows (season 2) -FX produced the best comedy on television in 2020, and it has vampires!

Dave (season 1) – FX produced the second- best comedy on television in 2020, and it has an aspiring Jewish rapper.

Man Seeking Woman (seasons 1-3) – Rewatched one of the most underappreciated takes on the romantic comedy of the last decade, which features what should have been breakout performances by Britt Lower and Katie Findlay

Orphan Black (season 5) – Finally finished this very confusing series, which is available on Amazon Prime and always delivers a great performance from Tatiana Maslany.

Top Chef (Los Angeles) – Who needs sports when you have the best cooking show on television!

For all Mankind (season 1) – I’m a sucker for space exploration and I devoured this Apple original drama.

Mythic Quest (season 1) – This Apple original comedy is better than it has any right to be thanks to an amazing cast.

I May Destroy You (limited series) – TL:DR sex is complicated. Men suck. Michaela Cole is a genius.

Doom Patrol (season 1) – Don’t watch. Quit during the premiere of season two.

Baskets (seasons 1-4) – Finally caught up on this amazing FX dramedy that evolved into a starring vehicle for Louie Anderson as the family matron.

Homecoming (season 2) – A tense drama that feels like it could have been a two-hour movie. Recommend both seasons on Amazon.

West Wing (reunion special) – If you own the box sets and cry thinking about Mrs. Landingham, this special is for you.

The Good Place (season 4) – Your mileage may vary, but this fantastic cast brought their series home for a safe landing when I finally watched it on Netflix. 

Lovecraft Country (limited series) – I have no idea what was happening with the serialized element of this HBO series, but the episodic horror stories were great! 

Pen15 (season 2, part 1) – This Hulu original comedy has an amazing beating heart that strikes close to home for millennials.

Halt & Catch Fire (seasons 2-4) – This rewatch (made possible by Netflix) was a reminder of how a drama sometimes take a few episodes to find itself. The show is a launching pad for the rocket that is Mackenzie Davis. 

Billy on the Street (random episodes) – A good palate cleanser at the end of the night. 

Sex Education (season 2) – A lovable cast saved this well meaning Netflix dramedy from a dramatic sophomore slump.

Derry Girls (seasons 1-2) – This import from across the pond is great hangout on Netflix punctuated by some hilarious moments. 

Rectify (seasons 1-4) – This Sundance TV drama, which has been off the air for about four years, is one of the most unappreciated shows of the last decade. 

Search Party (season 3) – A depressingly accurate commentary on millenials that found new life on HBO Max. 

The Queen’s Gambit (limited series) – You probably already watched it, so you know how good it was.

Schitt’s Creek (season 6) – A bit of a let down from the highs of seasons four and five, as the Canadian import wrapped up its final season.

The 100 (season 7) –  If you need a sexy, sci-fi take on Lord of the Flies from the CW, then give it a try. Otherwise you can skip it. 

Treme (season 1-4) – I’m now a David Simon HBO completist. There are some storylines that are superfluous, but ultimately a great show.

Clone Wars (season 7) – If you watched the first six seasons then you’ll love the final season that was released on Disney Plus. 

The Mandalorian (season 2) – This season had everything! A must watch for Star Wars fans. 

The Crown (season 4) – Inject it right into my veins. 

Perry Mason (season 1) – HBO didn’t need to make this adaptation, and I don’t care that they did.

Hot Ones (random episodes) – The most underappreciated interview show of our generation.

Industry (season 1) – No idea what was happening on this HBO co-production, but extremely captivated by all these young people. 

The Undoing (limited series) – Not for me. Ridiculous end. 

Fargo (season 4) – Not great, Bob. Not great. 

Extras (series) – This rewatch only further cemented the greatness of this Ricky Gervais comedy. 

Big Mouth (season 4) – An adolescent cartoon never felt so grown up. Glad Netflix is going to keep churning this comedy out.

Vice Principals (season 1-2) – Danny McBride and Walton Goggins are even better on rewatch in this HBO comedy that I liked better than Eastbound and Down.

The Honourable Woman (Limited Series) – Despite going on my birthright trip last year, I still didn’t really grasp all the geopolitics of this complicated and really good thriller. 

How to with John Wilson (season 1) – Filling that niche in my heart left by Nathan Fielder. 

Betty (season 1) – Great hangout show on HBO with a cast of young women that my wife described as “effortlessly cool.”  

The Flight Attendant (season 1) – Not for me. 

Better Things (seasons 1-3) – Fantastic dramedy that I’m finally catching up on.

The Outsider (limited series) – This HBO adaptation of a Stephen King story started out with a compelling crime procedural with a supernatural element on the fringes, but eventually the dynamic switched and it took the shine off what was still an enjoyable ride.

Missing from the list: Better Call Saul (season five) Waiting for its run on Netflix; Mrs. America (limited series) Stopped watching after 15 minutes because it felt too real; The Good Lord Bird (limited series) It’s on my to do list; The Plot Against America (limited series) Worried this HBO adaptation will make me depressed.

Consumed through osmosis: The Office (series) My wife falls asleep to it in bed. I still don’t like the later seasons; Dead to Me (season two) Not for me, but the leads are very appealing.

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