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Summer TV 2019

Here's some good stuff that Patrick and I have found this summer.

1. Chernobyl - I follow Craig Mazin, the screenwriter and producer of this series on Twitter, so I'd seen a lot of stuff on his feed as the series was rolling out on HBO. I figured we'd have to wait a year or so to watch it since we don't get HBO. I thought. One day, I was scrolling through our TV channels and noticed the the HBO channels aren't blocked. Apparently, the last time I adjusted our cable channels, I got HBO for us! So, Patrick and I watched Chernobyl on HBO on Demand! And then we listened to the associated podcast. And read a book about Chernobyl. And watched a Frontline documentary about the building of the "sarcophagus" over the remains of the reactor just a year or two ago.

This series tells the story of the explosion of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in 1986. It is a historical drama and I recommend that you listen to the podcast as well because they explain where they took liberties with the history in order to tell the story. Because it's historical drama, they followed several characters and the audience develops empathy for those characters. The producers also made the science manageable for a lay audience. It got me and Patrick really interested in the topic, so we pursued other documentaries and books.

2. Chasing the Moon - This is a PBS series about the US space program and it's culmination with reaching the moon. There is a book by the same name that I checked out from the library, but never got around to reading. PBS also played some other space documentaries before and after the Chasing the Moon episodes, so Patrick and I got to watch some of those as well. Chasing the Moon did a great job of tracing the history of the space program, starting with the recruiting of German scientists who had worked on the V2 rockets. (And, they even dealt with the tricky issue of Werner von Braun being a member of the Nazi party.) And I learned that the Soviets had an unmanned lunar landing at about the same time as the US first moon landing. Watch the documentary to learn more!

3. Fukushima - We watched the Frontline documentary on the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear plant disaster. It was a good show and we learned a lot, although we didn't feel the need to do a deep dive into it like we did with Chernobyl. I think we were kind of "disastered" out.

4. Game of Thrones - We didn't have HBO when this came out initially. I read the book series, which I loved. We didn't feel too strongly about watching the series, though, because we're kind of prudes. Nonetheless, we started watching about a week ago and we're hooked. I close my eyes when it gets too violent or the sex seems too gratuitous, but they are otherwise doing a good job of telling a story. And, it's been so long since I read the books that I only remember things vaguely so I don't stress about them not following the storyline.

5. The Vietnam War - We are having an exchange student come live with us for the school year from Vietnam. I watched The Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns when it came out, but Patrick hadn't watched it, so we decided to watch it together so we have some idea of the interaction between our two countries. It was completely depressing. But, Vietnam is a beautiful country!

6. Fantastic Beasts - The Crimes of Grindelwald - I wanted to like this movie so much! I was so excited that we had HBO and we could watch it! But, really, I just felt like there were too many special effects and not enough just storytelling. I know that there's another movie coming and I really hope that they just tell the story and use the special effects for enhancement.

7. Curiosity Stream - This isn't a movie, it's a streaming service of documentaries. It's like the Netflix of documentaries. I've seen it out there for a while, but figured it was too expensive, but it actually is only $20/year for the basic plan. So far, I've watched a 6 episode series on the history of Europe and a 4 episode series on the history of the apostles. I'm looking forward to watching some of the science and tech videos. These are great for when I'm knitting!

8. American Ninja Warrior - This is one of our summer faves. It's fun to watch other people do things we can't even think about doing.

So, what are you up to?


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