What I’ve Been Watching (January 2020)

I really want to like the new season of Dr. Who (launched on January 1, 2020). The two-part season opener (“Spyfall,” parts 1 and 2) was pretty strong, but the most recent episode (“Orphan 55”): awful. I cannot think of a worse episode since the revived series launched. (Fellow fans: Feel free to offer alternative candidates for worst episode.) In my opinion, “Orphan 55” was poorly acted, poorly edited, and poorly designed, and every plot idea, device, and attempted twist has shown up at least once in Dr. Who production history. It was so bad, it took me two attempts to get through it. I cannot think when that’s ever been the case before for this life-long fan. Here’s hoping Star Trek: Picard turns out to be as amazing as it looks in the previews.

During January, I also watched Anne with an “E”, a fascinating, modern take on Anne of Green Gables from CBC Television in Canada and available globally through Netflix. The sets, costumes, cinematography, and music are all wonderful, and the acting, particular from the principal cast, is consistently strong. While still set in the late 19th century, the series draws many contemporary political and social issues back into the past. Occasionally, the result may stretch credibility in terms of period realism, and there will be viewers who will find the program “too political” because of this. Overall, however, I think it works. With another viewing, I hope to offer some more detailed commentary on the series.

Like so many others, I also watched Mandalorian, season 1, in November and December 2019. Brilliant. If this is not quite Star Wars “at its finest,” it’s another excellent addition to the expanded vision of the franchise through its mostly effective and entertaining, contemporary television offerings (e.g., also Clone Wars and Rebels).

Going back earlier into the fall, I also binged on Netflix’s The Dark Crystal and Amazon’s final season of The Man in the High Castle. Neither disappointed. Again, I hope to offer more detailed responses in the coming months.

scp January 18, 2020