I’ll Have What Phil’s Having – I can’t remember how we discovered this, except I believe we caught the second half of one episode on PBS and then found that all the episodes were on Netflix as well. Phil Rosenthal was the creator and head writer for Everybody Loves Raymond, (which I actually never really watched much of). However, Phil is a very funny guy and has a love for good food and beautiful places, so it turns out to be a great combination. He narrates his travels to different cities and tries out their food and then comments about it. Sometimes it’s weird, sometimes it’s slightly awkward, and sometimes it’s sublime. But it’s always entertaining. And he meets up with celebrity friends sometimes. My favorite parts were when Phil skypes his mom and dad and tries to tell them about his travels. His parents are hysterical — you can see where Phil got his material for Ray Romano’s parents. There are only six episodes right now, but I just read a few days ago that Netflix has picked up the show (which PBS dropped because of production costs) so there is more to look forward to someday.
1 season, 6 [54-minute] episodes
The Irish Pub– Patrick and I stumbled upon this one and really enjoyed it. It is not action-packed by any means, but it is a fun documentary about the Irish people and their beloved pubs, which are so much more than places to get a pint (although that is certainly not insignificant). If you like Ireland or have any degree of Irish heritage (and who doesn’t), you’ll find this charming. Many of the pubs featured are very old and haven’t changed much since they were built. Generations were raised within their walls; marriages contracted, children reared, and lifelong friendships cultivated. Nobody loves telling a story like the Irish, and you see why in this movie.
1 hr., 14 min.
The Crown – I really enjoyed this biopic of the young queen Elizabeth II, (me and the rest of the universe…) much more than I thought I would. Netflix really pulled out all the stops and produced a beautiful and moving series. It rivals and even at times surpasses Downton Abby and some other dramas like it. The pace is much slower, MUCH slower (there are no dead Turkish diplomats getting dragged into empty estate bedrooms in the dead of the night), with an emphasis on the actors rather than action, but there are some really powerful scenes, especially between Elizabeth and Winston Churchill. My favorite episode was the one about the portrait. John Lithgow is so convincing as Winston Churchill — at least, I thought so… I had never heard the story of this ill-fated portrait, and although the Crown takes some liberties with history, it is still an intriguing story of art, truth, how we see ourselves, and how it may differ from how the world sees us.
I’m glad there are going to be more seasons — at least 2 more– but beyond that, different actors will be cast for the roles of Elizabeth and Philip, which will be interesting!
1 season, 10 [57 min] episodes
Cinco (Jim Gaffigan) – always hilarious. Some of the jokes I had heard from other places – interviews on late shows, etc., but most of it was new stuff to me. And I laughed out loud a lot. For the most part clean (a couple of off-color jokes but not too bad).
Hilarious bits about binge-watching on Netflix, trying to take donuts onto an airplane, county fairs, how much people love Fall, and of course — his kids.
1 hr, 13 min
Elstree 1976 – Okay this is a pretty nerdy, quirky pick, but i like nerdy, quirky things; I like “behind-the-scenes” kind of stuff. I especially like to see anything Star Wars related when it has to do with the original movies – stripped down of their CG modifications and all of the hoopla that has grown up around them. I’m talking about episode IV, model spaceships in cardboard boxes, people dressed in fur costumes and trash cans. Nobody even knew who George Lucas was, for Pete’s sake! I remember my brother playing with Star Wars action figures when we were little and what a huge revelation it was when he discovered Darth Vader was Luke’s father. It just was a movie that boys liked, not the massive cultural explosion it is now.
This documentary follows the British actors and extras who had roles in the original Star Wars movie — the actors whose faces are never seen but are now enshrined as movie icons: Darth Vader, Greedo, stormtroopers, etc.. Some of their faces were seen – as rebels pilots or other extras – and they of course had no idea what Star Wars would become — but it didn’t take long for them to begin to realize that this sci-fi movie was different.
“I walked out onto this massive soundstage, full of sand, with this spaceship which I later found out, was the Millennium Falcon at the other end. And I thought, this is quite impressive. Because of course all sci-fi movies in the ’60s and ’70s were B, C, D or E movies– you know, ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’. But I thought, you know, this is quite interesting, well maybe it’s not going to be as terrible as it promised to be.” -Paul Blake, “Greedo”
The first 20 minutes or so are primarily about the background of these obscure actors, but at about the 25:00 mark they start talking about the movie. Some fun behind the scenes stuff, fun trivia, deleted scenes, etc.. It’s interesting to see how even the smallest roles, even the extras, are sought for autographs by fans of Star Wars.
This documentary was probably 45:00 longer than it had to be, in my opinion. Maybe I’m just not as nerdy as I claim to be — I mean, I had never even heard of the characters Biggs or Fixer so I kind of felt like a moron. Actually the documentary kind of assumes that the audience already knows that there was a Fixer character and he was deleted from the film. So this movie definitely has a target audience. Which wasn’t necessarily me. Ha. But I liked it anyway.
1 hr., 41 min.
Chill with Bob Ross and Beauty is Everywhere — I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention these two collections of Bob Ross’ PBS show. Like most everything PBS does, this is not a complete collection of the show, because PBS likes to be a butthead and decide what they’re going to share with people. So if you see “Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood” on Netflix, you get excited because you haven’t seen Mr. Rogers in years, but then you realize that it’s not really “Season 1”, it’s a hand-picked selection of episodes that have no continuity. Once episode you’re talking about the opera coming up on Friday, and the next episode Prince Tuesday is worried his parents are getting a divorce!– it’s just a random collection of shows that PBS decided to release while withholding the rest of them in their super-secret PBS vault!
So, it’s unfortunately not the complete Bob Ross collection, but continuity is not so much an issue with Bob Ross because he finishes a painting every episode. I loved Bob Ross and have for a long time — I remember discovering his show in syndication when I was in high school and then mimicking his painting style (which doesn’t work with watercolors, by the way) and then Mr. Butz immediately called me out and told me not to paint trees like that hippie guy with the squirrel. HAHAHA!! Okay, so Bob Ross was not one of the great masters. But he sure is fun to watch. And addicting.
I had this streaming on my laptop one day when I was piecing a quilt in the basement, and Thomas and George were immediately sucked in. It’s Bob’s voice that first gets you hooked – he’s so soothing and comforting. And then you realize he just painted a mountain by scraping his little knife across the canvas with a blob of paint. What! And then you can’t look away.
If your children are driving you crazy, Bob Ross has an amazingly calming influence. Give him a try.
2 collections, 26 [27 minute] episodes each
If you have a series you’ve really loved on Netflix, I’d love hear —