This year has somehow been going by very slow and very fast. Like, it’s only June, but it is also already June, you know? Too many things are happening. I think that’s the problem. And the long and short of it all is that stuff might be slipping past you in your doomed attempts to stay on top of everything. I’m sure this applies to a bunch of different areas, but the one I am qualified to discuss is television, so let’s start there.
There are, as you might have heard, a zillion television shows right now. And there are more coming at a breakneck, almost reckless pace. A few of the new ones from the first half of this year bubbled up to grab a moment in the pop culture spotlight (Big Little Lies, Legion, Handmaid’s Tale, etc.), but a bunch sort of skidded by without much fanfare. Or without enough fanfare. According to me. Which is what is important here, because I’m the one writing this post.
So, what I’m going to do is retroactively shine a light on a few new shows from the first half of 2017, in the hopes that you take the time to circle back and check them out as the television schedule slows down a little bit this summer. The nice thing is, because they’re new, there’s only one season to catch up on. This isn’t me telling you to watch all 20+ seasons of Law & Order. Although you should do that, too. At least the Lennie Briscoe years. But watch some of these first. They’re good. I promise.
Where is it? IFC
Who is in it? Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet
What’s it like? It’s kind of like Anchorman crossed with Bob Uecker’s character in Major League
Brockmire is a IFC’s most popular original show ever, so calling it “under-the-radar” is a little insulting to IFC. I’m sorry. I am. But the first season was so good and outside of a smattering of reviews and a few stray tweets, I didn’t see nearly as much buzz about it as I thought it deserved. We can do better.
The gist: Brockmire is a comedy about a famous baseball announcer (Azaria, think Vin Scully) whose career goes down the tubes after he walks in on his wife in a compromising position and has a drunken, profane, very graphic meltdown on live television during the next game. He goes on a years-long, worldwide bender before returning to America to be the voice of a minor league team owned by Amanda Peet. (Her character, I mean.) What follows is a sometimes foul, sometimes sweet plot about the two of them rebuilding their lives, and many, many cuss words, a lot of which are said by Azaria’s character in his announcer voice. Brockmire is a good show.
Where is it? Amazon
Who is in it? Michael Dorman and Kurtwood Smith
What’s it like? It’s kind of like Fargo meets BoJack Horseman, but about a spy
Patriot is a very weird and dark and funny show and I love it so much. It’s hard to describe. That trailer doesn’t do it justice. Here, let me try: Patriot is a spy show, kind of, but it’s also a show about corporate America and middle management, kind of, and it’s also a show about a man dealing with near-debilitating depression. And murder. And track suits. And underground folk duos. And piping. There is, I am not kidding, so much talk about industrial piping. You won’t believe it. I feel like I’m not doing a good job with this.
Let’s try again: Patriot stars Michael Dorman as a depressed spy who has to infiltrate an American piping company as part of an international money deal that may or may not be above board. Things go wrong, frequently and spectacularly, to the great annoyance of his “boss” at the piping company, who is played by Kurtwood Smith in all of his “the dad from That 70s Show” glory. It builds and builds, with threads weaving this way and that, until everything slams together. It’s really funny, in a dry, almost Coen brothers way. Some of you will watch this and hate it and be angry at me for telling you to watch it. Some of you will love it, though, and if you do, then you are in a group I would describe as “my people.”
I think that went better.