We have a drought.
Even though the new TV season is a month away, I don’t see much on the horizon that’s exciting or capable of replacing the recently concluded “Better Call Saul” on AMC and Netflix or “Black Bird” on Apple+.
Now, I’m surprised that I keep going back to Netflix’s The Sandman, as I usually tire of people with superpowers or sci-fi stuff easily. I’ve already written off Disney+’s She-Hulk, even though it stars one of my favorite actresses, Tatiana Maslany, from TV’s Orphan Black and Broadway’s The Network (opposite Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale).
Game of Thrones fans were likely encouraged by the prequel House of the Dragon, which premiered Sunday night on HBO and chronicles the battle for the position of ruler of the Targaryen kingdom. Enthusiasm eludes me because I’ve never been able to stay too long with the Apostles.
On Wednesday, several shows that are of fleeting interest premiere. One is FX’s Welcome to Rexham, which caught my attention because it follows the learning curve actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney face when they buy a failing Welsh football team in which appears to be a real-life version of the Apple+ movie Ted. Lasso”.
Can the truth be funnier than fiction. FX hopes you’ll tune in to find out.
Another debut on Wednesday is “Mo,” Hulu’s Netflix spinoff “Rami,” starring one of that series’ characters as Mo Amer, who moves from the US Northeast to the Midwest.
Since I always liked “Rami,” which won an Emmy for its star, Rami Youssef, I’ll take a look at “Mo.”
“Rami” returns for its third season on Hulu on September 30.
On Thursday, Hulu begins streaming an eight-episode series starring Trevante Rhodes from the 2016 film Moonlight as boxing champion Mike Tyson. Among the actors is Robin Givens, who was once married to Tyson.
Finally, a series debuts on August 30th that I believe has real promise. Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on it, hoping it’s the one that can replace Better Call Saul, Black Bird, or Ozark on my must-see-everything list, but with the current selection being so slim, it’s refreshing to have at least some hope.
The Patient stars The Office’s Steve Carell as a psychotherapist held hostage by a serial killer played by the multi-credited Domhnall Gleeson, perhaps best known for his role as General Armitage Hux in the most recent Star Wars trilogy.
Prime’s version of The Lord of the Rings, considered one of the most expensive productions of all time, debuts on September 1st.
The series, a TV version of Richard Gere’s 1980 film “American Gigolo,” stars Sept. 11 on Showtime, starring Jon Bernthal as Gere’s role as a male escort who revels in his appeal but doesn’t enjoy his adventures.
Instead of following the film’s path, Showtime’s “American Gigolo” follows the main character, Julian Kaye, after he’s released from a long prison sentence for murder.
This jogs my memory of American Gigolo, which I thought ended with Lauren Hutton’s character giving an alibi that would exonerate Julian. Apparently, the producers of “American Gigolo” don’t care. Show Released Julian discussed today’s sex scene in Los Angeles.
A ray of hope for many viewers will be season 4 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which will begin on September 14.
Sorry, if only “The Patient” is so exciting that I’m looking forward to it.
Aside from his late summer debut, the next bright light I see on the horizon doesn’t come until November 13th, when Sylvester Stallone makes his first televised journey in the Paramount+ series The King of Tulsa. Stallone plays a famous mafia don who is sent to Tulsa by his godfather after being released from prison.
Among the new shows on the traditional network, I’m most drawn to Monarch, the Fox program starring Susan Sarandon as the matriarch of a country music family with a clean slate but facing the revelations of a scandal.
Is “Better Call Saul” the best?
A month or two may change my mind, but right now, based on last week’s final episode, I’m ready to declare Better Call Saul the best series in television history.
I don’t think anything would stop me from declaring the final chapter the best final episode.
“MASH”, step aside. “The Sopranos” keep this secret. “Breaking Bad”, thanks for the pyrotechnics. Seinfeld, you’re not even in the competition. Neither you, “Cheers”.
“Better Call Saul” won the prize because it tied up so many loose ends, not only on its own, but also with “Breaking Bad” and because it managed to be an interesting story on so many levels, not least of which was Jimmy’s drug cartel movie escapades , the predecessor of Saul, defends so well when he is taken as a lawyer.
Most of all, I see “Better Call Saul” as a sad comedy about a man who faces two obstacles: being shut down or not accepted where he’s proven he can be great, and not being able to get out of his way. Or perhaps his old habits.
Every time Jimmy kicks a trash can or punches a wall in frustration, I see someone give up what they’ve earned and take their hurt out on an insensitive object instead of an insensitive person’s face.
Jimmy is extremely talented as a lawyer. He may have earned his degree by correspondence from the University of American Samoa, and it may have taken him three tries to pass the New Mexico bar, but he did it. He also discovered and confirmed the authenticity of the big case that was supposed to make him a star.
Instead, he is rejected, pushed to the sidelines. So he’s back to using his great ability to convince people who deserve to be condemned (not that you want them to be). It is Mike and Nacho who appreciate Jimmy’s legal gifts, while his brother and head of the law firm do not.
Jimmy is also self-destructive and doesn’t always know how to take the good fortune he might have.
Then there’s Kim. I look at Better Call Saul as a character study, but not a love one.
The revelation of that love and its power in a glittering courtroom cements Better Call Saul as the best finale ever, capping off a brilliant show and giving it a chance to live on in glory.
Hey, I drink it whole. I just can’t give it up.
Talking about history
This history buff’s luck came one evening in March 2008 when I attended a press conference and screening of the PBS series John Adams.
I had a conversation with the show’s producer, Tom Hanks, and a conversation with its star, Paul Giamatti. I loved the preview shown on Channel 12 and was ready to write my article about the show.
Then, just after shaking Hanks’ hand, I saw a man standing alone, away from the press and invited guests, and recognized him by several covers from my 6,000-volume collection.
I was confused that he was not an integral part of the assembly. After all, if I was right, he was one of the main reasons there was a John Adams series in 2008. It was his 2001 biography of our second president (first vice president) that not only sparked interest in Adams, but also changed the general perception of him from disdain to positive, in much the same way as Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical in 2015, gave Alexander Hamilton a well-deserved and favorable award.
Shy as ever, I walked up and said, “I believe you are David McCullough, sort of the founder of this holiday.”
He was, and for the next half hour, when no one came up to us and called McCullough to task, I had one of the greatest popular (and scholarly) historians of our time – of all time? – to myself.
It was a great meeting and conversation with Tom Hanks, but in the time I spent with McCullough, we talked not only about his interest in the American Revolution, but also about why he started his career with books about important events, such as the Johnstown flood, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the construction of the Panama Canal.
These books fascinated and enlightened me even before McCullough’s tome on President Adams appeared. There would be several more books, including volumes on Harry Truman, the Wright brothers, and the defender of the Panama Canal, Theodore Roosevelt.
Like any other historian of the late 20th century and throughout the 21st century to this day, David McCullough brought significant events and significant people to life in the pages of his books. Together, they provide a comprehensive timeline of the periods and achievements that influenced and changed American life. Even when writing about émigrés in Paris, Mr. McCullough sketched out soundbites of history, giving a vivid and deep perspective to events, situations and individuals about whom many think they know everything, when they haven’t scratched the surface but are content with the veneer.
Unfortunately, the benefits of McCullough’s curiosity and research came to an end. The 11 books and various essays will have no new companions.
David McCullough died on August 7 at the age of 89. His legacy of information lives on after him and is recommended to anyone interested in an overview that shows America from Revolutionary times to the present in a broad and accurate perspective.
Knowing it would be short, my conversation with McCullough was wide-ranging and free-flowing, but one of the main themes was how important it is to dig into subjects and learn about them from people who have seen and studied the underlying material to some degree. what their findings are of value. Another was the misperception and misunderstanding of John Adams and his remarkable role, not only as an outspoken member of the Continental Congress and President of the United States, but also as an ambassador who negotiated a peace treaty that recognized American independence, and as a man who spent and commented on time in the courts of the British George III and the French Louis XVI.
We also talked about McCullough’s tenure as host of the PBS documentary series The American Experience, which began in 1989, had just passed its midpoint when we met, and was continuing at the time of his death.
Both McCullough and the anticipation of learning it will be missed.
Neil Zoren’s television column airs every Monday.