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Make Your Case: Two Great Things You Need to Recommend

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Two disparate threads have recently come together in my head; as is well-known and cannot be reasonably disputed, my brain cannot hold more than a single thought (which is usually some variant of "Hungry?") at a time, and having two thoughts might lead to some sort of terrible, Cronenbergian cranial explosion. And given that I lack any trepanation tools, I realized that I needed to vent these thoughts as quickly as possible onto the forum in order to save my life.

Where was I? Oh yes- so, @wicked cool had commented, in another thread, that instead of posting negative thoughts, we should have a thread about "things you like instead and that you think deserve awards for excellence in movies etc"

Meanwhile, I had also seen the following provocative article:

(TLDR; because Apple isn't just mining their own IP, they are forced to come up with new and original programming. New and original programming is good.)

So I thought I'd start a thread where people can post a few recommendations of genuinely GREAT things that they'd recommend to other people here. Now, I'd like to make a few rules, because that's the kind of Snarf I am:

A. Please do not post the usual geek fare that we are always talking about. In other words, no super heroes, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, etc. Let's branch out a wee bit!

B. Let's keep it current! Citizen Kane is a great film; Notes from Underground is a great book; the original Prisoner is a great TV series, but they are old. Let's try and keep it to media that is within the last year or so.

C. You get two recommendations. You get to make two, no more, no less. Two shall be the number of recommendations, and the number of recommendations shall be two. Three shall thou not make, neither shall thou make one, excepting that thou then make two. Four recommendations is right out.

D. And feel free to use any media that you tickles your fancy. As is well-known, I will be using TV shows, as I am illiterate. One of these days, I'll get that reading thing down and be able to recommend a book or two. But that day, alas, is not today.

I will post my two recommendations after posting the thread starter! :)

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Recommendation the First:
What We Do In the Shadows

Okay, so maybe this might be under the usual geek fare, but I think it is far enough away from the usual conversations to count. This is the single funniest show on TV currently. It's based on the movie of the same name (also amazing), but everything about this show keeps you coming back for more. Sure, you might know Matt Berry because he is awesome in everything he does, but the entire cast is great, and Colin Robinson as the energy vampire is an unexpected and constant joy. Hear me now and believe me later- if you aren't watching this, you are missing pure comedic genius.

Recommendation the Second:
Ted Lasso

I have to admit, I didn't have high expectations for this show. It's based on a series of very funny ads that originally ran to promote American coverage of the Premiere League (that's a lot of verbiage for SPORTSBALL stuff). But like any movie based off of an SNL character, it was hard to see how it could be anything more than one-note and grating when expanded. But I was wrong. While WWDITS might be the purely funniest television on right now, Ted Lasso is ... the best.

Yeah, I said it. Sure, it's funny. If you're a Buffy fan, there's a great recurring Giles role in it. But it does something that no other TV show that I can think of right now does- it explores positive relationships, and optimism, and compassion, and friendship in a way that feels good without being cloyingly sweet or preachy. It's just ... good. Amazingly so. It's just a wonderfully done show that is full of surprises- but good surprises.


1) The Unknown Streaming Service: A bunch of indie, fantasy and SciFi production companies got together and formed The Fantasy Network. It's a streaming service that caters to the geek audience and helps people not only get their content out where people can see it, but also helps them try and produce more. You can pay US$5.00 per month and get everything, right now, or you can wait a while and the new stuff becomes free to watch eventually anyway. One of my favourites is a kitschy little short Canadian series called "Abracadavers", but they've got a lot of good, some great, and some meh stuff all told.

2) Retro-Futurism: Todd Downing's books in the "Airship Daedalus" series take place in an alternate past in which the likes of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla somehow mended bridges enough to form an international organization, to fight against Alistair Crowley's plans for world domination. Plus dirigibles! There's also an RPG based on it. OK, I'm more than a little biased, because I'll be making an appearance as a character in the final book of the series (book 6, currently being written) ;)



1. Billions on showtime. The premise is a hedgefund manager who loves to win at any cost pitted against a district attorney in Southern NY who also likes to win at any cost. The cat and mouse game that leads Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti perform is irresistible to watch. This show is a masterclass in exposition. The writers also neatly reboot the series as time goes on keeping the story fresh and engaging.

2. Mr. Mercedes on Peacock. Who knew all these decades that bad made for TV Stephen King just needed a foul mouthed Brendon Gleeson to work? Mr. Mercedes is a story about a serial killer and the retired detective that never caught him. Unlike many police procedurals, this series is more about characters and how people treat each other. At times its funny, in very dark ways too. I think its the heart of the characters and how they deal with adversity, aging, and a myriad of other life challenges that sets Mr. Mercedes apart from ye olde copper story. I love how seemingly small roles expand into larger roles organically throughout the seasons.


Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
Elizabeth Kolbert: A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote two great, fascinating, and brisk reads on climate change, The Sixth Extinction and Under A White Sky

Fetch The Bolt-Cutters
by Fiona Apple: Hands down, the best album of 2020, Fiona Apple's latest album continues to surprise, as it is completely different from any of her prior albums (each of which is also different from the others).

Do Podcasts count?

"Mission to Zyxx". A mostly improv space opera that lovingly lampoons all the usual geek stuff we aren't talking about. At times very very funny. As with most improv, a big part of the joke comes from the actors trying to throw each other off stride.

And then I want to second the recommendation of "What We Do In The Shadows", for the simple reason that BAT!

Recommendation numero uno: Japan Sinks
Anime by the same artist who did Devilman Crybaby. Disaster story squarely focused on the characters. Beautiful, heartfelt, and gut-wrenching. Best anime I've watched in a while.

Recommendation numero dos: Cobra Kai
Timeline gets a little strange for this one with YouTube vs. Netflix, but I was genuinely surprised by how well it balanced weaponized nostalgia with telling its own story. It's a show that had no business being as good as it was.


Staff member
I will go far afield for #1: ReacTable. Especially ReacTable Mobile.

ReacTable is a visual synthesizer. You play it by placing/removing, connecting/detaching, rotating, shifting and even min/maxing pieces around on a table- a paradoxically analog experience with digital technology. The full size instrument is thousands of dollars. But ReacTable Mobile delivers essentially the same experience (pared down, of course) on a tablet or smartphone for a fraction of the price.*

It’s not particularly new- Bjork had a musician in her lineup using one when she appeared on Later..with Jools Holland. I can find vids of it and the mobile version going back a decade. But it’s really, really good, and once you get familiar with it, powerful. Not only does it come with presets, you can generate your own...and share them with others. It can even use your devices’ microphones to incorporate sounds from your environment into your performances.

Essentially, you get a fully functional synthesizer you can carry in your pocket or briefcase. ReacTable Mobile is an instrument for everyone, anytime.

* I purchased the app and its expansions back when it was new for my iPad 2, all for under $100 then. It’s much cheaper now.


I'll recommend a couple of boardgames, which I feel are an underappreciated hobby among roleplayers.

First, Nemesis. It's Aliens with the serial number filed off. A spaceship that's falling apart, hostile aliens and backstabbing crew members: it's all there. The first time I played, I died in round 3, but it was so much fun to watch the others try to survive. (None did.) Shut Up & Sit Down review here.

Second, something completely different: Bargain Quest. The town is under attack from goblins/bandits/trolls/a dragon/whatever. And here are the brave heroes to fight them! And you, lucky player, get to sell them their gear. If they survive, that's great. If not, you'll always have their nice shiny gold to remember them by - and there are always more heroes to send off into combat with lighter purses and gear that might or might not be useful. (There are some lovely touches that you only notice if you're paying close attention. For instance, if the enemy is the Dragon, between rounds you have to choose whether to discard a shop assistant or a shop extension. Essentially, the Dragon attacks the town, and either burns down your shop or eats your staff.) Shut Up & Sit Down review here.

(I realise that I'm actually making four recommendations here: the two games, boardgames in general, and SUSD. Oh well. I doubt I'll lose any sleep over it.)


Druid of the Invisible Hand
Jupiter Hell (Early Access on Steam) - What if DOOM were a procedurally generated, turn-based dungeon crawler with customizable character development-- three classes, dozens of traits-- variable and modifiable loot, and over a dozen game-altering challenge modes. It has the strategic depth of traditional rogulikes, while a single gameplay takes less than an hour and the controls fit neatly into a standard gamepad. I've got hundreds of hours into it already, I'm nowhere near done, and neither are the sharp lads at ChaosForge.

Resident Alien (Season 1 is on SYFY.) - Based on the Dark Horse comic (which I haven't read), Alan Tudyk kills as the homicidal, homesick alien that is impersonating the late Dr. Harry Vanderspiegel in a quirky Colorado mountain town. Relatable characters, relatable human drama, and a constant sense of comedic tension with devastating payoffs. Not sure how Season 2 is supposed to work, but they're going for it...

Expedition: Back to the Future
I watched this on the Discovery+ streaming service. 4 episode mini-series where the DeLorean Time Machine is the real star. Really interesting how much work and detail went into bringing that prop to life on screen. Worth the watch. The Discovery+ service is well worth the $5/month for the 15 or so channels you get access to.

Law & Order: Organized Crime
Law & Order: SVU should be called L&O: ICU because that shows been on life support and should’ve been cancelled at the very least 2 seasons ago. The new series is only 2 episodes in so still getting the feel for the show and the characters. Though I like what I’ve seen so far, seems grittier and hope it breathes new life into the franchise. If you are a fan of L&O I’d recommend to watch at least a few episodes.

A documentary called White Riot. It's about the Rock Against Racism movement in the UK in the late 70's. A good doco, even better if you like old punk rock. It was released in 2019 but as is the way of low budget cinema it's making its way slowly through the cinema circuit and only showed up here in Australia a few weeks ago.

Wellington Paranormal. It's part of the What We Do in the Shadows universe. Follows the Paranormal unit of the Wellington Police as they investigate weird happenings in and around Wellington. The central characters are the same two cops from the movie; the ones who show up at the vampire's house. Very dry and understated humour.

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