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An Almanac For The 21st Century

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Four Things You Should Watch, Stat

Four Things You Should Watch, Stat

On Saturdays, I publish a post called Wear, Watch, Want, in which I tell you about three things I've loved that week that I have (believe it or not) worn, watched, and wanted. I keep a list of potential ideas for this column on my phone, but sometimes I'm stumped at the end of the week for what I've worn or what I want. I'm never at a loss for Watch choices, though. In fact, I have an insane surplus of things I've watched and thought, "Hey, I could put that on my Watch list." Which brings us to today's task. I'm going to clear out my Watch list this week. Well, not completely - I've got to save a few things for future Wear, Watch, Want columns - but I can certainly tell you about eight TV shows and movies (Four today and four Thursday) that I've been meaning to mention for, oh, months (and months), but just haven't gotten around to.  

Exam

Exam is an independent British movie about a group of eight applicants for a prestigious job at a secretive company. The last step in their "interview" process is taking an exam, but as this is not a typical company - or job - this is not a typical test. Exam takes place entirely in one windowless room, but manages to keep the viewers interest and in some ways almost change the setting, despite not actually changing the setting. The lighting changes, for example, and at one point the sprinklers turn on - these small things make it feel like the environment is shifting and changing, but you're still with the same small amount of characters in the same windowless room. It's incredibly hard to make a compelling 10 minute short that takes place in one room, but the fact that Exam can make a 90 minute film in one room that doesn't feel at all claustrophobic or stilted is very impressive. You could definitely get nit-picky about the plot, but like I said, the main thing that impressed me about Exam was their use of the single room. It's on Netflix, and I'd say Exam is certainly worth an hour and a half of your time.

Playing House

Playing House is the story of two lifelong friends, one who kicks out her no-good husband right before she's about to give birth, and the other who leaves a high-powered job in China to move in with her bestie in their hometown to help her raise the baby. This gem of a show regularly makes me laugh (no small feat), cry (this show knocks it out of the park when it comes to heartwarming scenes of lady friendship), and feel completely uplifted. Playing House wrapped up its second season this summer. When did I want to tell you to watch it? Oh, I don't know, some time during the first season I'm sure. Actually, no, that's not completely true. This journey began in earnest when I told you all about how you should have been watching Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham's spectacular, genius, heartbreakingly-cancelled-after-six-episodes show Best Friends Forever. That was in May of 2013. When I first heard that my favorite comedy lady duo was getting another shot at television I was so ecstatic, I'm not sure words can express the joy that filled my heart.  It hasn't been renewed for a third season yet, but USA dragged their heels until the 11th hour when renewing for a second season, so I still have hope they'll get wise and keep Playing House on the air for as long as possible.

Mr. Robot

Speaking of Shows On USA That Are Fantastic: Mr. Robot. I put off making Mr. Robot my Watch of the Week because I had a hard time thinking of how to synopsize it. I was with my mom at one point this summer and she said, "So what's Mr. Robot about?" and she doesn't care about spoilers at all, so I told her about the show, not worrying about spoilers or making sure I had well-edited sentences, and it wasn't exactly coherent. So with that in mind, I didn't have high hopes for a blog post. Even now, I'm tempted to just tell you to watch the trailer I posted above, or link you to a review of the pilot, but that seems a little lazy, so I'll try for slightly less lazy and throw you a few sentences: Mr. Robot is about Elliot, a cyber security tech by day and a vigilante hacker by night, who gets recruited by the mysterious Mr. Robot to join his tech-terrorist plot to overthrow the US economy by attacking the largest conglomerate, which Elliot has conveniently nicknamed EvilCorp. (I just reread that sentence and I have to say, that was actually pretty good.) Elliot narrates to the audience as though we are the people inside his head (who is is conscious of, i.e., "Hello, you imaginary person inside my head"), which is a pretty creative plot device. Connecting Elliot's actions with his mental illness and his reliability as a narrator is a frequent theme of the show, and something that comes to a head in later episodes. There are other characters too, of course, but the show is really about Elliot, and Rami Malek does an amazing job with the character.

Call The Midwife

I could have sworn I had already written about Call the Midwife, but a quick search told me that while I've mentioned it a few times, I've never said much more than "I love it. I think it's the best show." Which I do, and I do. The BBC series about midwives in East London in the 50s and 60s is absolutely stellar. If you thought Playing House brought the heartwarming moments, oooooh BOY. And tears! Oh the tears I have shed during some episodes of Call the Midwife. Over the past four seasons the sisters and midwives of Nonnatus House have dealt with all kinds of triumphs and traumas - small daily occurrences to huge, life-changing events. And this Christmas Day, we'll get to start it all over again. I for one can hardly wait.

More Things To Watch, Including A Murder Doc and A Cartoon

More Things To Watch, Including A Murder Doc and A Cartoon

I Hope You Came Here For Glamour

I Hope You Came Here For Glamour