Because I had been out of town and then immersed in work, I hadn’t been able to go to the grocery store to stock up for a week or two. I’d gleaned from social media that stores had been cleaned out. Sure enough, certain aisles looked like something out of a dystopian thriller. Good luck getting toilet paper, paper towels, flour, rice, and more. To me this ransacking of consumable and utilitarian staples seemed like an overreaction on the part of a public weaned on years of pop culture steeped in apocalyptic stories. You’ve seen The Hunger Games and scores of zombie movies; now you can play-act your own prepper and doomsday fantasies from the comfort of home! Still, I felt like I was able to get most of what I needed. Why worry too much because this will be over in two weeks, right?So social distancing begins, and social media is there to help keep us connected. Bzzt! Look, I was already not feeling great about social distancing, and seeing how Twitter had devolved into a sewer pit wasn’t helping. (Insert joke about how it was already one before all this transpired.) Ironically, Facebook seemed like a less stressful place to check, perhaps because people were less concerned in commenting about the Presidential race and more interested in putting on brave faces for the start of staying at home.
With a little more time on my hands, now would mark the occasion to dig into some of the Criterion Collection Blu-rays I’ve amassed but haven’t watched. Problem is, I’m just not feeling it. Based on my mood, I quickly decided that I was going to direct my viewing toward comedies, with exceptions carved out for Survivor and Shark Tank. (Blame the MBA for turning me into a regular viewer of the latter. I thought it might be useful for when I took an entrepreneurship class.)
I landed on two shows available on Netflix. I rewatched Great News, a 30 Rock-ish sitcom that ran for two short seasons on NBC in 2017 and 2018. The series focuses on Briga Heelan as a cable news segment producer and Andrea Martin as her irrepressible mother, who goes back to school and starts interning on the program. It’s a shame this silly workplace comedy didn’t get any traction among the peacock network’s Thursday night comedies to earn a longer run, but the twenty-three episodes that exist are highly satisfying.
I also relaxed with Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom, a new Netflix series that continues the funny and inventive escapades of the barnyard animal and pals. The 2015 Shaun the Sheep Movie from Aardman Animation is a comedic treasure. While this new series and the 2019 film A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, finally available here exclusively on Netflix, don’t reach the same heights, the gentle humor and setpiece creativity in both provide a soft escape from the daily news.
On the film front, I rewatched Wet Hot American Summer, which I reviewed six years ago. That review is just mildly positive, an assessment I’d push upward based on how I feel about the film now and the goodwill it earned from the series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. I even foresaw this happening when I concluded the piece stating that the film already seemed better in my memory than the grade I was giving it. Is the lesson that things do get better over time?
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