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ENTERTAINMENT: Lose yourself in recommended TV series, podcasts

by Karla Peterson, The San Diego Union-Tribune (TNS) | December 1, 2022 at 1:31 a.m.


In this season of eating, drinking and socializing, it is easy to give abundance a bad name. But when it comes to our entertainment, I am on Team Always Room for More.

In that spirit, allow me to share four juicy slices of pop culture that I have consumed with great relish over the last few months. Because when you're sharing the wealth, there is no such thing as too much.

'Reboot'

Like the perfect athleisure ensemble, Hulu's "Reboot" is well-made, yet comfy. Relaxed, but not sloppy. Perfect for your bleary post-Thanksgiving brain but ready and able to sustain and distract you through whatever the holidays bring.

Created by TV pro Steve Levitan ("Modern Family"), this super-meta sitcom stars the infallibly hilarious Paul Reiser ("Mad About You") and the always watchable Rachel Bloom ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend") as the odd-couple team behind the reboot of "Step Right Up," a wacky fictional family sitcom from early 2000s that may or may not be ripe for a streaming-cable update. With a savvy cast that also includes Keegan-Michael Key ("Schmigadoon!"), Judy Greer ("Archer") and Johnny Knoxville ("Jackass"), the eight-episode series has a fine time skewering sitcom tropes and showbiz insanity while also being kind of a softie about matters of the heart. That means plenty of swearing and some sexual situations, but also surprisingly sweet messages about the importance of family, friendship and shared pet custody. Even when the pet is a menace.

It's an odd mix that "Reboot" pulls off by being perfectly comfortable with its eccentricities. It has the courage to be weird, and the chops to make you OK with that. Let it entertain you.

"Reboot" is streaming on Hulu.

'Object of Sound'

At the beginning of each "Object of Sound" podcast, host and creator Hanif Abdurraqib makes the same guarantee. Whether he is talking to Mavis Staples about the sweep of her legendary career or exploring the time-travel properties of our favorite songs with Death Cab for Cutie front-man Ben Gibbard, Abdurraqib promises to be your guide to "a deeper way of listening." And he always delivers.

A poet, author and pop-culture critic, Abdurraqib loves to burrow into the heart of what makes music move people and what moves musicians to create. His passion is palpable, and his subjects respond with thoughtful insights on their creative process, their music-business struggles, and the emotional and mental challenges of being an artist in our modern, media-saturated world. Abdurraqib also gets them to talk about the music and musicians they love, giving us the rare joy of hearing Staples rave about the Black Pumas and joining Gibbard as he relives a revelatory Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark concert.

If you have ever lost yourself in the world of a song, "Object of Sound" will be your kind of rabbit hole. The episodes are short, but the pleasures are endless.

"Object of Sound" is available on object-of-sound.simplecast.com, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

'Endeavour'

Winter is almost upon us, and you know what that means. Time to warm yourself with a steaming mug of murder. And nobody serves that mug with more old-school panache than PBS' dependably twisty "Endeavour."

Now in its eighth season, this prequel to the treasured "Inspector Morse" series stars the poetically pale Shaun Evans as young Morse, a crime-solving detective who roams the surprisingly homicidal streets and estates in and around the University of Oxford hunting killers and skirting his own demons. Set mostly in the swinging '60s, "Endeavor" specializes in Byzantine plots, high-impact supporting characters (Hello, Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday! Cheerio intrepid journalist Dorothea Frazil!) and gripping denouements in which the brilliant Morse unspools the who, when, where and what-the-heck of the case du jour.

Evans has perfected the fine art of tortured brooding, and between the stresses of the job and the toll of his inner turmoil, creator Russell Lewis gives Morse plenty to brood about. It is comfort-TV at its most nail-biting, so make yourself a nice hot toddy and prepare for a cozy evening of mayhem. You're going to need more Cadbury.

Seasons 1-8 of "Endeavour" are available on PBS Passport. The first seven seasons are also available on Prime Video.

'Strong Songs'

Maybe it was all those piano lessons. Or those years in marching band. Or my addiction to VH1's "Classic Album" series, with its many glorious mixing-board moments. Whatever it was, I am now a sucker for a music geek podcast, and "Strong Songs" has made a deep dive into my nerdy heart.

Created, produced and hosted by Portland, Ore.-based musician and writer Kirk Hamilton, the independent, sponsor-free "Strong Songs" looks under the hood of great pop, rock and soul tunes to see what makes them tick, cruise and roar. Whether it is the buoyant magic behind Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," the cryptic pull of Wilco's "Jesus, Etc.," or the iconic rhythms of drummer Bernard Purdie's signature "Purdie Shuffle," Hamilton analyzes each song, riff and chord change with a musician's specificity and a fan's pure, pie-eyed delight.

You might occasionally get lost in the musical-theory weeds, but hang tight. Once he gets that chord-progression mini-tutorial out of the way, Hamilton will have you reveling in Verdine White's bounding "September" bass lines, Kate Bush's use of the fairy-princess celesta in "Wuthering Heights," or the way Joni Mitchell's fluttering vocals and flickering melodies make "Help Me" sound the way falling in love feels.

And keep an ear out for the blissful chuckle Hamilton unfurls when he has just shared something really special. It's a symphony.

"Strong Songs" is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or at strongsongspodcast.com


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