Things We Love is a place for the contributors of Really Late Reviews to let you know what we’ve been enjoying in pop culture this month. From joyous comedies to psychological dramas to country albums, Things We Love is a way to discover some new gems and re-discover some old favorites.
“Royal Pains” on USA Network
In an attempt to make better use of Netflix’s wide TV selection, I started looking for content that fit two criteria: a minimum of four seasons (I hate watching good shows that get cancelled prematurely), and had good natured, witty undertones. I’ve noticed that USA typically airs fun, well written shows so I decided to watch “Royal Pains.” The show premise is similar to a lot of shows: we meet a character who loses a job, breaks up with his or her significant other and embarks on new life stage. In “Royal Pains,” Hank (played by Mark Feuerstein) is a doctor who loses his job at a NYC hospital after a rich donor dies under his care. His fiancée also breaks up with him within a month. While the initial plotline is somewhat cliché, the show takes a different twist by taking Hank to the Hamptons. The show’s focus is on how wealthy residents in the Hamptons need a concierge doctor, a doctor for hire who does in-home visits. What’s interesting is that the patients don’t just have stereotypical issues shows commonly depict for this income bracket (e.g. plastic surgery), but also have more common heart and blood-related issues. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Hank and the hospital administrator; seeing two well educated, funny female characters; and watching the doctor’s resourcefulness when he has no equipment to save patients. I’m only four episodes in but I look forward to seeing where the show goes.
“Edge of Tomorrow”
I somehow missed the best new action film of recent memory, “Edge of Tomorrow,” but am fully on the bandwagon for how great this film is. I feel lukewarm on Tom Cruise, but he’s never been so compelling as Major William Cage, a bumbling military PR guy who’s forced to fight on the front lines of an alien invasion. While fighting against the impending alien horde on the beach in France, Cage is attacked by an alien, and kills it (and himself) with a bomb, getting covered in the alien’s blood. He then immediately wakes up the morning before the battle, alive and intact, realizing he’s developed the power to repeat the same day over and over again because of the alien. He soon joins up with Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the poster child for the resistance, a wiry, serious soldier who knows a thing or two about what Cage is going through. To stop the aliens from conquering the entire planet, the two must find and destroy the Omega, the source of the alien’s power. A wonderful odd couple, Blunt and Cruise having a quiet, tender chemistry in-between dying and living and dying again, bringing a lot of pathos to the film. “Edge of Tomorrow” is “Groundhog Day” plus video game auto-revive, playing with time and perspective in inventive ways and staging some epic scenes of alien battle glory.
“Parks and Recreation” on NBC
I know that I’m late to the party, but I am obsessed with “Parks and Recreation!” My two favorite things about this show are the comedy and camaraderie between characters. The show doesn’t try too hard to entertain, and the characters are all so unique that I can’t help but find them endearing in their own way. The show has an A-list cast (hellooooooo, Chris Pratt) and is so charming that I’m kicking myself for not getting into it until the final season!
“Looking” on HBO
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes “Looking” so unique. For one thing, there’s no show on TV as intent on exploring gay culture as “Looking” is. It creates a vivid universe of complex people, presenting a nuanced, rich look at queer characters’ romantic lives that almost makes up for the pop cultural stereotypes that have plagued the gay community for decades. Much of the reason why “Looking” works is because of creators Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan’s precise tonal vision for the show. Less cynical and fraught with tension than most of its cable dramedy brethren, “Looking” opts for a more loving and nurturing approach to its characters. Nothing feels staged or created for bombastic effect, it’s a low-key, slice-of-every-day-life kind of show that does not demand more than just look. It wants the audience to look at every glance between the characters, listen to every conversation, notice the things that are being said or not being said at all. It’s refreshing to have a show this completely at ease with itself and its characters, letting the audience know that however we feel about the characters, it’s OK. It’s a show that trusts its characters will know what’s best for themselves and just keeps on tracking them as they go further down their chosen paths. It’s a joy and a privilege to be allowed in on these characters’ lives every week.
Love and Theft’s Album “Whiskey on My Breath”
Lately, I feel like country music has kind of lost its roots with the music. It’s starting to sound more laid back pop music instead of pure country music. I find myself lately not listening to country radio stations and just listen to my choice of country songs. Recently a friend of mine sent me a link of Love and Theft’s new album. I knew who Love and Theft was. I’ve heard some of their songs, but I’m not a die-hard fan to know them well. Needless to say, after hearing their newest album “Whiskey on My Breath,” I’m proud to say I’m a fan. I loved the entire album. It reminded me of what country music should be, down from the lyrics to the musical melodies. It’s perfect. It’s perfect to jam out to in your car, or listen while doing homework.
“Fortitude” on Pivot
“Fortitude” is a psychological drama currently airing on Pivot. When a sleepy Icelandic town is shocked by the murder of a British professor, secrets the town would rather keep quiet slowly begin to unravel. A mammoth’s hide, a sick child, and an ice hotel all play into the mystery, while DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci) tries to get to the bottom of the professor’s murder. Next week’s episode really begins to lay the track for surreal weirdness to occur, and if this show doesn’t start to turn the corner onto some sort of sci-fi-type drama I will be sorely disappointed. (Not really, it’s still really great.) “Fortitude” reminds me of “Broadchurch” in a lot of ways — the town working together to keeps its secrets buried while Morton singlehandledly tries to determine what is the truth and with whom he can place his trust. The best part of the series is that literally anyone could have done it as each face we see has a motive to commit the crime. I can’t wait to watch more.
Do you agree with the things we love for February? What are you all enjoying this month? Let us know in the comments below.