What We’re Watching Wednesday: (Mostly) The Brits

We haven’t done this in a while, since 2019, actually, but I thought I’d restart it this year.

Each Wednesday either my wife and/or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.”

So since last Wednesday, we’ve watched a few movies and a few TV shows, with most of them being British. Here’s what we watched in the last week, with links going to trailers for each:

We had been wanting to watch Stan & Ollie for a while, and this week he had a 3-month trial of Starz (that ended today) so we decided to watch it finally. Both Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy were very good, but for me, the movie was so-so. Kim, what did you think? I thought it was very good. Also thanks to Starz, we watched David Crosby: Remember My Name, which wasn’t planned, but when we found out he had passed away, I remembering seeing something about the movie a few years ago and sought it out. Lo and behold, it was on Starz. We both enjoyed it and learned a little more than we already know about him. It definitely didn’t hide the flaws, though, and the ending was bittersweet with both he and his wife referring to his impending death.

I thought we might have a themed night on Sunday night of emergency services, but decided to start early with a trial of the British comedy Bloods (available on Hulu in the U.S.) about two ambulance workers. We liked it enough that we decided to watch more on Sunday with the ludicrous, but fun, Ambulance, directed by none other than Michael Bay. Monday, we tested out a couple of shows on Acorn TV: Balthazar, a French crime drama about an arrogant but loveable forensic pathologist and a new police commander, and The Other One, a British comedy about two sisters who discover each other after the death of their father, who was married to one of their mothers and who also had an affair with the other’s mother. We enjoyed both, but decided to continue with binge-watching the rest of Series 1 of The Other One on Tuesday. It was only six episodes in total and one of the things we love about most British series, but also dislike because they sometimes are so good, we don’t want to waste them in one sitting.

On Friday, we took a turn to England once again, where Stan & Ollie was set, as we finished the series, Friday Night Dinner that was on Channel 4 in the UK from 2011 to 2020 and which we watched for free on The Roku Channel. The show ended in 2020 after the actor Paul Ritter, who played the father, died in April 2021 of heart failure, with complications from brain cancer. In addition to Ritter, the rest of the cast included Tamsin Greig, Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal, and Mark Heap, each hilarious in his or her own way.

So, what have you been watching lately? Anything good to recommend? Anything to avoid?

The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 1

Each Wednesday (at least every few months at this point) either my wife and/or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” 

This week, I watched The Brokenwood Mysteries, Series 1 on Hoopla through the Free Library of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I’ll have to stop there until next month as the library only allows borrowing four items per month with Hoopla. Luckily, though the first season was four episodes so I was able to watch all of the first season, with my wife joining in on some and enjoying them as well.

The show begins with Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) coming to the small town of Brokenwood in New Zealand to investigate a murder, and I was immediately hooked when he popped in a cassette of country music to the tape deck in his vintage but not-much-to-look-at car. The music for me sets the tone of the show and is brilliantly used, but beyond that, the characters not least of all including Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) and Jarded Morehu, Shepherd’s Maori neighbor (Pana Hema Taylor) are…well…fun to hang out with for about an hour and a half each episode. For me, I was looking for a break from Midsomer Murders, which after watching 10 seasons of, I’m growing weary. This was, and is, the perfect antidote.

So how about you? Watching any good TV or movies this past week? Share in the comments.

What We’re Watching Wednesday: Cobra Kai, Season 2

Each Wednesday either my wife and/or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, she and I watched Cobra Kai, Season 2 on YouTube Premium in a short binge-watch Monday and yesterday.

With all of the reboots, remakes, and continuations of series that should have ended long ago (looking at you, Terminator series) out there, it is nice when a series like The Karate Kid returns, with a fresh look at the two main competitors: Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. It is also good to see the main two actors, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, return to their original roles, but what makes the show exceptional is that everything isn’t as black and white as it was in the original movie. Daniel is not the flawless hero; Johnny, not the completely bad guy. Even John Kreese, the original leader of Cobra Kai, might not be as horrible as he seems…or is he?

If you already have YouTube Premium, it’s worth watching to see what happens with the trio as they age, not always graceful but with at least two of them with honor, and Daniel and Johnny’s children and students, who are thrown in the middle of this battle between two dojos. Plus it’s a quick, mostly fun binge-watch. If you don’t have YouTube Premium, don’t get it just for this show, as good as it is. Wait for it to come out on DVD in a few years, which it inevitably will. It’ll be worth it then too.

What We’re Watching Wednesday: The Short Season Shows, Part 2

Each Wednesday either my wife and/or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” Last week and this week, we are sharing our favorite short season shows (those shows with three or less seasons): me, last week; Kim, this week.

Spaced (1999-2001) dir. Edgar Wright

Tim (Simon Pegg) and Daisy (Jessica Hynes) meet by chance in a cafe and bond over their respective unsuccessful searches for an affordable flat. They find one advertised for a “professional couple” and decide to pose  as that perfect couple to grab the apartment. The lie has its inevitable complications. 

 If you are a fan of Edgar Wright ‘s films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or World’s End, Spaced will feel like an old friend, with the smash cuts and flashbacks he is known for, and many of the actors that appear in all of those films…Nick Frost, Mark Heap, and Peter Serafinowicz. It is a strange and funny series with a satisfying conclusion. The show can be found on both Hulu and Prime Video. The video is NSFW.

Gavin and Stacey (2007-2010) Written by James Corden and Ruth Jones

Gavin and Stacey “meet” on the phone through their jobs and strike up a friendship/romance online. They agree to meet for a weekend in London and each arrives with a friend in tow. There are immediate fireworks, complications, and some of my favorite characters ever to appear in a series.

If, like me, you find James Corden a bit much, reserve judgement because he is perfect as Gavin’s childhood friend Smithy. Ruth Jones is Stacey’s best friend Nessa, and her deadpan delivery of some of the best lines in the series is reason alone to watch it. The show is available on Prime Video.

So how about you? Any favorite short season shows for you? Watching any good TV this past week? Movies you’d recommend? Next week, I (Kim) will be sharing my thoughts on the final season of Game of Thrones (spoiler alert!).