What We’re Watching and Listening To: October Edition

Kicking off a new monthly column, surveying various members of the Mockingbird community on what […]

David Zahl / 10.2.19

Kicking off a new monthly column, surveying various members of the Mockingbird community on what they’re watching and listening to. We start this month with recommendations from a couple of the ‘HQ’ staff:

Ethan Richardson

Chernobyl. In preparation for the Future Issue of our magazine, this one had been on my list for a while, and it did not disappoint. How crazy that a place that was once destined to be the future is now locked in the past. Jared Harris is amazing per usual, but all the 80s Soviet design is far and away the coolest part of the whole show.

Grantchester. I can’t believe I’ve held out on this sunny British priest-cop procedural. It’s partially because I met James Norton first in Happy Valley, where he is not a good dude, and the outlook is not sunny. But this one is just what I need: “a minister who knows grace…a detective who knows evil.”

Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Best Troubador. Partially influenced by the Ken Burns Country Music series, I’ve been loving all things Merle Haggard lately, and this tribute from Will Oldham is perfect. His version of “Pray” might as well have been the original.

Teenage Fanclub, Songs from Northern Britain. Teenage Fanclub’s power pop melodies are timeless, and this one has been on repeat in our house this summer. Favorites: “I Don’t Want Control of You” and “Your Love Is Where I Come From”.

Margaret Pope

Veronica Mars follows the adventures of teen private investigator Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) as she takes on cases for her high school classmates and helps her father at his PI firm. Set in fictional, absurdly-wealthy Neptune, CA, this show packs in all the outlandish storylines and spectacular fashion sense that one would expect from an early-2000s teen drama but with deep, thoughtful–and often hilarious–character development that might surprise you. One of the best father-daughter dynamics on television. If you really want to deep dive, start with the original three seasons, then jump to the feature-length movie, and wrap it up with Hulu’s excellent reboot, which debuted a couple months ago.

In This Is Love, Phoebe Judge reports on endearing stories from around the world about the many unexpected facets of love: love for an instrument that requires an entire town be completely silent, love for the misfits who make up the Ugly Club, or love for a lost baby whale. Phoebe’s soothing voice and talent for storytelling will leave you with all the warm-and-fuzzies. For something with a little more grit, see also Phoebe’s other podcast Criminal.

David Zahl

Succession. Seems like the whole country’s gone gaga for the Machiavellian hijinks of the Roy family, and I count myself in that number. There’s simply no better writing or acting on television right now. The showrunners have assembled such a versatile ensemble that every time you think you have a favorite or least favorite character, the seats shift. It’s also remarkably funny, the Greg-Tom dynamic being every bit as brilliant as hyped. But Kendall is gaining fast.

Podcast-wise, I greatly enjoyed the “Liberté, égalité, and French Fries” episode of NPR’s Rough Translation. Another example of McDonalds serving as church (and sanctuary) but this time it’s not the South Bronx but… Marseilles, France. I had completely forgotten that their corporate slogan is “Come as You Are.” Very moving to see that put to the test.

Music-wise, my listening this past week has been dominated by the new box set from The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop. Now that the vaults of most 70s and 80s bands have been emptied, the new trend in re-issuing is to remix existing albums (see: the recent re-releases of In Utero, Sgt Pepper’s, Destroyer, etc). Few records will benefit from the treatment as much as The Mat’s Don’t Tell a Soul. It was already one of my favorite records but the newly discovered “Matt Wallace Mix” restores the rough edges that so many fans missed the first time around. The live discs are smokin, too! 10/10.

Other recent discoveries include Terry Scott Taylor’s Knowledge & Innocence, My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade, and Allen Toussaint’s Love, Life and Faith.