More Quarantine TV Shows, Movies to Watch: Vampires, Cops, Aliens - Rolling Stone
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Vampires, Cops, and Aliens: More Staff Picks for Quarantine Viewing

From nature docs to Seventies flicks to televised depictions of good governance, here’s another weird and wonderful list of what our writers and editors have been watching in lockdown

quarantine tv viewing, shadows, west wing, belgravia, epix, abc, fx, hulu, netflix

Robert Viglasky/Epix; ABC Television; Russ Martin/FX

Welcome to week eleventy-seven of sheltering at home! Perhaps by now you’ve taken up macramé, or teaching yourself Latin, or, ew, yoga. Us, we’re still watching all the TV. And at this point, our choices seem to be falling into one of three categories: hot-off-the-presses new series; classic, all-time-great shows we all return to again and again; and weird, niche stuff you’ve probably never heard of. Step inside the (increasingly addled) minds, and screens, of our staff with this sequel to the Rolling Stone quarantine viewing guide.

Belgravia (Epix, Amazon Primewatch with a 30-day free trial)
To soothingly remind myself of the myriad ways in which social interaction can prove a bane rather than a boon, I’ve been tuning into this new costume drama, set in aristocratic 1840s London, from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. The highbrow soap opera-ness of it all — watching pretty people wearing pretty clothes in pretty homes connive and machinate with pretty accents — can be gratifying under the best of circumstances, but right now, it’s downright delicious. These people go to balls and fret about secret marriages leading to secret love children. Imagine! Balls! Weddings! Love children! Imagine the number of germs that are wantonly spread on those fine, embroidered bed linens. And then forget about it! Because the joy of watching a story about the clashing of monied social classes in a burgeoning 19th-century neighborhood is the impossibly far-off nature of their problems. The streets bustle with bustles. The people mingle and commingle. More’s the pity for them, given the trouble it causes. But more’s the escapism for us. — Alex Morris, Senior Writer

What We Do In the Shadows (FX on Huluwatch with free trial to Hulu)
How do you get a 15-year-old kid to stop watching endless reruns of The Office and Parks and Recreation in an attempt to stave off the Quarantine 2020 Blues? Give her a new hilarious mockumentary series to dig into. This comedy follows the basic setup of the 2014 film from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement on which it’s based: A gaggle of vampires, each centuries old and equally petty and immature, share a decrepit mansion on Staten Island. A film crew follows them as they hunt for victims, bitch about who did or didn’t do the dishes, and attempt to throw the perfect vampire orgy. Kayvan Noval is Nandor, the bumbling unofficial head of the household; Matt “Toast of London” Berry and Natasia Demetriou are the resident bickering couple; Mark Proksch and Harvey Guillén play their annoying and exasperated human associates. The humor is both slapstick-broad (bloodsucker fall down!) and, literally, batshit. Brilliant inside-joke touches, like a high-ranking committee made up of famous actors who’ve played creatures of the night in movies and TV shows, kick everything up a notch. It’s a genius take on the genre that drives a stake through the depressing vibe threatening to overtake us all. — David Fear, Entertainment Editor

Sex and the City (HBO Now, Hulu – watch with free trial to Hulu)
The Manhattan adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, harkening a couple decades back to a time when fuck buddies were a novelty and TechServe was the only place in town to get your Mac fixed, have helped me weather everything from breakups to career crises. But in the age of COVID-19, what’s drawn me in isn’t the part of this series that’s gotten me through rough times in the past — the indelible friendship of those four deeply flawed women. It’s the unofficial fifth character: New York City, in all it’s unstoppable, unsleepable, unflappable glory. Premiere parties and dive bars and joints smoked on the corner. Brunches and baby showers and getting a little tipsy with your crush and singing your heart out in the middle of the street. Used bookstores, run-ins with ex-boyfriends, grabbing midnight dinner at a Chinatown hole-in-the-wall that beats any four-star restaurant. The New York City that was already quickly disappearing, and the one I hope emerges again, at least a little, when this is all over. Whenever that is. — Elisabeth Garber-Paul, Culture Editor

War of the Worlds (Epix)
Nobody was yearning for yet another remake of H.G. Wells’ 1898 alien-invasion novel. (Spielberg’s 2005 take starring Tom Cruise seemed to be the definitive mic-drop.) But, against all odds, the British television writer Howard Overman’s new adaptation, which debuted in France and recently arrived stateside, is a strangely comforting viewing experience during this shut-in. With the action taking place in France and the U.K., we can mercifully ignore the ineptitude of the United States altogether, as government entities fail and a few hardy individuals — played by the likes of Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern — fight to survive by staying inside and avoiding the marauding menace beyond their doors. The series unfolds like a sci-fi version of The Walking Dead, focused as it is on the human stories amid the crisis. And through all the death and destruction, it offers a glimmer of that one thing we’re all looking for right now: hope. — Jerry Portwood, Digital Director

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (NBC.com)
In the first episode of the 1974 TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Carl Kolchak, a gruff Chicago journalist played by the dad from A Christmas Story (Darren McGavin), ends up in a seedy massage parlor, trying to prove that a serial killer who can leap 20 feet in the air and deflect bullets with his chest is really Jack the Ripper. And it just gets weirder from there. Watching this singular show that blends brutal crime, meticulous detective work, and supernatural themes, it’s easy to see why The X-Files creator Chris Carter used Kolchak as a main influence for his own groundbreaking show. A young David Chase was the series’ story editor 25 years before he created The Sopranos, but alas, it was cancelled after one season, destined for nerd-cult status among its few, yet devoted, acolytes. — Jason Newman, News Director

Too Hot to Handle (Netflix)
When Netflix’s cloistered-dating show Love Is Blind came out last month, many opined that it was perfect for the quarantine era, as it mirrored our inability to forge physical connections. They hadn’t yet seen Too Hot to Handle, which, years from now, will either be the subject of multiple college theses about the 2020s, or go down in history as one of the most flaming piles of garbage of all time. The premise: An international cast of 10 horny, hard-bodied singles are sent to a resort believing they’re participating in a Love Island-esque dating show, only to have the rug pulled out from under them when their virtual den mother (basically an AI bowling pin) reveals they can collectively win $100,000 if they don’t participate in any sexual activity for the duration of their stay. Not even kissing. In theory, this prohibition is supposed to teach the cast how to forge stable relationships based on something other than sex; in practice, it results in blow jobs that come with a $6,000 fine, and a lot of performative Sapphic activity. Either way, it’s must-see quarantine TV.  — EJ Dickson, Culture Writer

What’s Up Doc? (Criterion Channel)
Digging into the Criterion’s ’70s Style Icons collection has been a true quarantine treat, but the most delightful selection by far is this screwball rom-com. An extremely handsome Ryan O’Neal stars as Dr. Howard Bannister, a straight-laced musicologist who’s visiting San Francisco with his girlfriend in hopes of winning a grant. There, he is pursued relentlessly by the confident, charming, and troublemaking Judy, played with obscenely perfect comedic timing by Barbra Streisand. Driving the plot, and their budding flirtation, is a silly case of mixed-up identical luggage, which pulls the pair and everyone they encounter into an uproarious chase through the city’s hilly streets. The film is goofy, sweet, and the one piece of entertainment that has not only made me genuinely laugh out loud in lockup, but also provided 94 minutes of adventure I wanted to live inside — car chases, misplaced bags, and all. — Brittany Spanos, Senior Writer

The Wire (HBO Now, Hulu – watch with free trial to Hulu)
On March 28th, in response to a report about surging viewership of this much-hailed but little-watched-back-when series, its legendarily cantankerous showrunner David Simon tweeted: “Contrary motherfuckers. Now you wanna watch the show about institutional drift and our inability to address actual problems?” Well, yes. Yes, we do. Through five incredible seasons that tackle the enmeshed worlds of policing, politics, labor, education, and media — and the criminal enterprises that infect them all — the nearly 20-year-old series stands as a testament to the power of individuals to fight a corrupt system, or to work cannily within it, or, more often, just to be human in the face of crushing bureaucratic defeat. It is sprawling but somehow compact — layered and dense with the granular details that come from Simon’s experience as a crime reporter for The Baltimore Sun and his collaborator Ed Burns’ time on the city’s force. (I’ll be damned if McNulty, Bunk, Kima, and the rest of that ragtag Season One BPD squad aren’t real, flesh-and-blood detectives rolling by in the next Crown Vic I see.) It is every bit as brilliant as promised. If that makes me a motherfucker, so be it. — Maria Fontoura, Entertainment Editor

Dark Side of the Ring (Vice on TV)
The winners and losers in pro wrestling matches may be determined before the bell even rings, but this oddly fascinating docuseries looks at IRL events that not even WWE honcho Vince McMahon could have predicted. Now in its second season, Dark Side of the Ring recounts some of the most infamous black eyes in “sports entertainment”: “Dr. D” David Schultz’s on-camera assault of 20/20 correspondent John Stossel; the unsolved, mob-style hit on Canadian star Dino Bravo; and the suspicious hotel-room death of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s girlfriend. It’s harrowing stuff, but like a Superfly leap off the top of a steel cage, it’s impossible to look away — no matter how devastating the outcome. One of wrestling’s all-time greats, Chris Jericho, narrates, lending the show some first-person expertise and heart. But the thrill for Eighties fans in particular comes in seeing aged but still charismatic personalities like Magnificent Muraco, Jimmy Hart, and Jim Cornette recount the days when protecting kayfabe (look it up) was all that mattered. — Joseph Hudak, Editor, Rolling Stone Country

The West Wing (Netflix, YouTube)
The just and well-oiled democracy at the heart of The West Wing is a fantasy of almost Disney-level proportions. Democrats and Republicans don’t just reach across the aisle, they offer each other jobs in their administrations. Foreign-policy matters are subplots resolved as quickly as debates over the proper way to cook turkey stuffing. The president at the center of it all, Jed Bartlet, can not only form complete sentences, but sentences written by Aaron Sorkin. In other words, it’s the perfect, dreamlike escape from the hell we’re actually living in, a cozy blanket that’s quilted with Nineties optimism. Rewatching the series in 2020 means mostly realizing just how out of touch it was; but on occasion, it allows me to momentarily live in this alternate America, where our current disaster never happened, and everything actually will be OK. Oh, and did I mention that Laura Dern guest-stars as the national poet laureate? What else do you need? — Emily Blake, Charts Editor

Planet Earth II (BBC America)
Miss being in nature? While social-distancing indoors, dive into stunning cinematography that lets you see the wonder of jungles, mountains, deserts, grasslands, and islands, ranging from the hottest places on Earth to the coldest. Filmed over three years in 40 different countries and narrated by the soothing, authoritative tones of Sir David Attenborough, this award-winning documentary series explores the ecology that shapes each of these landscapes and the ridiculous ways animals survive — and sometimes don’t — within them. Whether witnessing the power and stealth of snow leopards foraging in the Himalayas, the nurturing ways chinstrap penguins care for their young, or the curious mating rituals of the giant sloth, each episode is a beautiful, fraught, refreshing reminder that the Earth has been here for millennia, human problems are just part of the picture, and nature is bigger than the sum of its many spectacular parts. — Steven Pearl, Copy Editor

Community (Netflix, Hulu – watch with free trial to Hulu)
When Community first aired on NBC in 2010, I was in the sixth grade. Back then, I’d finish my homework and forget my biggest problems — boys and math class — by settling in with the characters of Greendale Community College as they played Dungeons & Dragons and swapped test answers. Every episode was packed with pop-culture references I mostly soaked up — a backhanded jab at Glee or playful reference to Pulp Fiction; some, like an Inception parody, glided over my head. For a hormone-addled middle-schooler, it was heaven. Today, my problems are a little bigger. I’m obsessing about hand sanitizer and masks. But Greendale’s motley crew is still here to provide relief: smooth-talking attorney Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who enrolled because he was disbarred for faking an undergraduate degree; buttoned-up aspiring filmmaker Abed (Danny Pudi); studly ex-jock Troy Barnes, played by Donald Glover just before he became mega-famous. If nothing else, the theme song alone — “At Least It Was Here,” by the 88 — is three minutes of funky indie-pop to get you through tough times. Shannon Mason, Editorial Intern

Ozark (Netflix)
When this series premiered on Netflix three years ago, it looked like a watered-down Breaking Bad: Accountant-turned-money launderer Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) moves his family to Lake Ozark, Missouri, to appease the drug cartel he works for and subsequently keep it from killing his family. Even though he becomes seduced by crime, much like Walter White, the similarities mostly end after the first couple of episodes. Over three bingeable seasons, the Byrde family becomes more and more sinister, both ingratiating themselves to the locals and insulting them — especially foul-mouthed teen toughie Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner in a stunning performance) and hillbillies the Snell family (do not call them rednecks) — as they rain hell down upon the lake. Early in Season One, Marty’s son, Jonah, mentions how the introduction of the European starling (a bird!) to North America upset the whole ecosystem, and that metaphor sets off a deadly chain of events that are still unfurling at the end of the third season. Beyond the Shakespearean plot, shots of the scenic lake are beautiful enough to make you want to get lost there, in spite of all the murder. — Kory Grow, Senior Writer

Insecure (HBO, Hulu)
During a time that encourages unmoored hours in front of the TV, I’m glad HBO is rolling out just one episode a week of Insecure Season Four. It’s still a discrete activity, something that is never long enough, even if every day of COVID-19 quarantine feels eternal. I savor each installment in the ongoing saga of Issa Dee (show creator and comedic treasure Issa Rae) and her friends finding their way through their late twenties and early thirties in L.A. A young, black, creative type who built her life around a relationship that abruptly ceases to exist and a well-intentioned nonprofit job that stopped being fulfilling ages ago, Issa navigates a “What now?” crossroads against a backdrop of traffic and house parties — and sometimes pumps herself up with freestyle raps in the mirror. I may be surviving on just one episode a week, but if you missed the first three seasons, I’m frankly jealous of the binge you have ahead of you. — Andrea Marks, Research Editor

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Netflix)
I’ve been allergic to the words “Star Trek” for as long as I can remember. But bizarre things happen when you’re locked in an apartment with nothing but sweet potatoes, frozen chicken, and Netflix. I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was transported to a world much more magical and expansive than our own — an episodic universe where no matter the chaos, everything goes back to normal in the end. We could really use its brave, intelligent inhabitants right now. Commander Deanna Troi, the half-human, half-Betazoid counselor on the USS Enterprise-D, would guide me through the turmoil of isolation, kindly advising me to cut back on the peanut butter. Dr. Beverly Crusher, the fearless chief medical officer, would be on the front lines, Lieutenant Commander Data at her side, offering analysis at warp speed. Chief of Security Lieutenant Worf would oversee supermarkets, preventing panic buying and ensuring social distancing with Klingon honor. And the unflappable Captain Picard would answer questions at press conferences with wisdom, and without insulting reporters. Still, no matter what happens, even if I’m stuck home for the next 10 years, I’m never watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That shit is for dorks. — Angie Martoccio, Staff Writer

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