Flashback Friday: Making It (2018 to 2021)

I think that it’s pretty safe to say that reality television has spread its tentacles into every sort of competition.

Making It aired on NBC from 2018 to 2021. Hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, a group of craftspeople faces off in hopes of winning $100k and being named “Master Maker”. Each episode contains two challenges. As with every program within this sub-genre, one contestant is sent home every week until the winner is crowned.

Though it is a reality show, it is not as mind-numbing and brain cell-killing as other shows. Though I am sure it is not 100% “real”, the participants have a genuine talent and seem to love what they do.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Dr. Pimple Popper (2018 to Present)

We all know, that in spite of ourselves, we still judge a person based on outward appearances. The question is, what do we do when our looks do not match what is expected or normal?

Dr. Pimple Popper has been on TLC since 2018. In this reality show, Dr. Sandra Lee helps patients with extreme skin conditions. Once the procedure is done, the hope is that they will be free of the anxiety that kept them from living a full life.

I have mixed feelings about this show. It has a carnival-esque quality to it, almost a way of using the “freaks” as a form of entertainment. Which is exactly what reality television is. But at the same time, these people want to live a normal life and are willing to expose themselves to millions of viewers to do so.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Live to Lead Review

A leader is not one who only inspires by words. They act on their beliefs and encourage their followers to do the same.

The new six-part Netflix documentary, Live to Lead, tells the story of six extraordinary individuals whose actions helped to create a better world. Produced by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it was inspired by the late Nelson Mandela.

Among those profiled are Greta Thunberg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Siya Kolisi.

I enjoyed the series. It is a reminder that the impossible is possible. It is just a matter of courage, having a spine, and the knowledge that this chosen path will be full of pitfalls and brick walls.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Live to Lead is available for streaming on Netflix.

Flashback Friday: Flip or Flop Nashville (2018)

When an IP is successful, the expectation is that there will be a continuation of it of some sort. That does not guarantee, however, that it will be as successful as its predecessor.

Flip or Flop Nashville (2018) aired on Hulu. As with its HGTV reality show originator, the purpose of the program was to follow a couple who purchased, rehabbed, and then resold homes that desperately needed a makeover. This spin-off, it took place in Nashville. Formerly married couple (now business partners) Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins took on the task of revitalizing properties that needed much more than a cosmetic update.

As expected, there are unforeseen problems that may delay the project’s completion and drive up the costs. The hope is that when all is said and done, the house will be sold for a profit.

Like all reality television (and television in general), the program is formulaic. As much as I enjoyed the show and the buildup to the final product, it becomes repetitious and boring after a while.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: Mysteries of the Abandoned (2017 to Present)

A building, regardless of what it was used for, speaks volumes. It can tell us about the epoch it was completed in, the reason it exists, and the people who stood within its walls.

Mysteries of the Abandoned has been on the Discovery Channel since 2017. Each episode tells the story of a property that was once used by humans and has since been abandoned. The program explores the purpose of its existence, and why it has been left idle.

I find the series to be fascinating. Each location is a time capsule of a place and era that has been lost to history. By answering these questions, it allows the audience to have a greater understanding of our world and what it means to be a human being.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday: Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (2007 to 2015)

Part of the pleasure of traveling is trying new foods. While that idea may seem fine on paper, it may not pan out in real life.

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern aired on The Travel Channel from 2007 to 2015. It followed chef Andrew Zimmern as he visited various countries around the world and tried the local cuisine. Some of the dishes he tasted brought out the sensitive stomachs of viewers.

What was interesting was the opportunity to vicariously experience the world and the various cuisines via the program. But the food is another story. Some of the meals, well, I’ll pass on.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Best New Television Shows of 2022

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: The DisneyPlus series answers the question of what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in between the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977). My favorite part of the series was the introduction of Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram).
  2. Anatomy of a Scandal: Based on the Sarah Vaughan book of the same name, this Netflix miniseries follows the investigation of a politician accused of rape.
  3. The US and the Holocaust: This Ken Burns multi-part PBS documentary exposes how the United States failed to help the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
  4. Ridley Road: This PBS/Masterpiece program is based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom. It tells the story of a young woman of Jewish descent in the 1960s who goes undercover to stop a Neo-Nazi group from destroying the UK.
  5. Gaslit: Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell in this Starz production that tells the tale of Watergate from Martha’s perspective.
  6. Dangerous Liaisons: A sort of prelude Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it started off a bit slow and took a few episodes to get interesting. Unfortunately, Starz canceled it at the end of the first season.
  7. The Serpent Queen: Samantha Morton plays the title character in this Starz series about Catherine de Medici. Wow, that is all I have to say.
  8. Women of the Movement: This ABC/Hulu miniseries told of the murder of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie’s journey to get justice for her son.
  9. Ms. Marvel: A young woman goes from an ordinary teenager to a superhero who saves the world.
  10. Andor: The prequel to Rogue One, the series explains how Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) became the rebel leader who led the fight against the Empire.
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This will be my last post for 2022. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for taking time out of your day to read this humble writer’s work. I’ll see you in 2023.

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Kindred Mini-Series Review

Family history, as lovely as it is, can be complicated. This complication gets worse when it comes to America’s past and the sin of slavery.

The new Hulu miniseries, Kindred, is based on the book by Octavia E. Butler. Dana James (Mallori James) is a twenty-something writer who has recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles. After getting settled, she starts a friend-with-benefits relationship with Kevin Franklin (Micah Stock).

Somehow, she keeps getting pulled back to the past and 19th-century plantation. After saving Rufus Weylin (David Alexander Kaplan), Dana’s involvement in the lives of her slave ancestors and their masters becomes more entangled. When Kevin starts traveling back with her, the level of danger rises.

Dana is determined to figure out the connections between the past and the present, but at what cost to her and Kevin?

I remember reading the novel years ago and being blown away by it. It was one of those narratives that after all of the years, is powerful and relevant. Combining science fiction with history and our problematic past is an impossible to ignore literary melting pot.

Obviously, the series has been updated to our time. Though the first episodes kept me hooked, the story lagged toward the end. By the time the final credit rolled, I was underwhelmed. I wanted more, but something more was missing.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Kindred is available for streaming on Hulu.

Flashback Friday: Frasier (1993 to 2004)

Every decade has its own iconic media.

In the 1990s, one of those television shows was Frasier. A spinoff of Cheers, the show followed Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) as he returned to his hometown of Seattle. Working as a radio host/psychotherapist, he dispensed advice to listeners.

While being the guru for those who called into his show, his personal life was a bit messier. Among those who he dealt with outside of work were his equally neurotic younger brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and their father Martin (the late John Mahoney). Adding a female voice to the mix was his producer Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin) and their housekeeper Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves).

I never really watched it back in the day. On the rare instances when I did watch, I found it mildly appealing. There was an intellectual bent to the comedy that made it more than the average sitcom. Obviously, there was enough of an audience to keep Frasier on the air for 11 years, but I wasn’t among them.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: Toddlers & Tiaras (2009 to 2016)

The pageant world is one that is foreign to me. I’ve never participated in one nor have I had an interest in it. That does not mean, however, that it is not of value to other people.

Toddlers & Tiaras aired on TLC from 2009 to 2016. This reality show followed young children and their parents as they traverse the pageant circuit. In this prequel to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, the program spotlights these child performers and their sometimes Mama Rose-like parents.

I’ve only seen snippets of this show. That is all I need to see. Obviously, being reality television, I have to question what is “real” and what is scripted. I also have to question if participating is for the child’s benefit, or if the adults are living vicariously through their young ones?

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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