While many children and adults log far too much screen time normally, these aren’t normal times. So until the COVID-19 crisis eases and live entertainment returns to area stages, television takes on added importance. (But don’t overdose on the news.) Here are some tips for the next few weeks, from cable and streaming networks:
The Weather Channel on cable has made a pro-kid move given all the school closures, dedicating time during each hour of live programming at :50 past the hour to share educational content.
Writer-producer Fred Cantor and director Casey Denton are making available the award-winning documentary film “The High School That Rocked!” (narrated by Fran Fried, former New Haven journalist) to the public for free on YouTube. It previously screened in New Haven at the 2017 NHDocs Film Festival.
It’s the story of how six legendary bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all performed at Staples High School (Westport) in a two-year period in the 1960s. We’re talking The Doors, Cream, Sly & the Family Stone, the Animals, the Rascals and the Yardbirds — an amazing lineup for any theater of the day much less a high school.
Writes Cantor, “In these trying times, we’re sure many people are looking for diversions they can enjoy at home and perhaps ‘The High School That Rocked!’ can serve that purpose for documentary and music fans.”
How about combining Broadway and TV streaming? You can do it for a fee at Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube, notes Playbill, which lists 15 plays and musicals, including “Rent,” “Falsettos” and “Billy Elliott the Musical” (filmed live on a London stage in 2014).
Fans of Tina Fey know that “30 Rock” should have more of a nightly presence in syndication (I mean, must we be fed so much “Big Bang Theory”?). But there are a couple of other Fey-influenced shows on streaming networks. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” completed three kooky seasons last year, led by Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess and Jane Krakowski but also featuring Fey occasionaly as a therapist with a drinking problem. “Great News,” which ran two seasons on NBC and can be seen now on Netflix, continues the Fey-Robert Carlock brand of rapid-fire gags.
I’m a huge fan of the old “SCTV” shows, and Andrea Martin is seen in both of the above shows, in season three, episode 11 of “Kimmy Schmidt” (the episode where Tituss makes fun of someone naming their baby Linda these days) and she’s in all of “Great News.”
Another “SCTV”-alum comedy on Netflix, “Schitt’s Creek,” recently concluded production; it features Eugene Levy, two of his children (Dan and Sara) and Catherine O’Hara. Funniest moment for me is when Chris Elliot, who plays Roland Schitt, answers the phone by simply stating his name.Read Full Article
We seldom have the stomach for Stephen King stories, but we did get caught up in HBO’s just-concluded “The Outsider,” which featured nice work by Ben Mendelsohn, Cynthia Erivo and Mare Winningham. Violent and creepy yes, but at least it didn’t drag on too long.
Most streaming viewers know all about Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” led by Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing and fine performances by Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and the great Tony Shalhoub (a Yale alum). Best three episodes in a row were during the Catskills arc in season two. The sets and costumes from 60 years ago are stunningly good, particularly at the start of season three.
And since we all need to laugh, there’s any of the Sebastian Maniscalco standup comedy specials, including “Aren’t You Embarrassed?” from 2014 (the lactose intolerance story is a spit-take hoot about two-thirds into it).
For some Canadian/Korean accented humor, try 2016’s “Kim’s Convenience” on Netflix. Set in a convenience store in Toronto, it follows members of a Korean-Canadian family as they deal with customers, each other and the evolving world around them. Nice change of pace.
Joe Amarante is New Haven Register arts editor and a former television editor.