Happy New Year! The weekly recommendations will be back in next week's Found This Week. In this edition, I look back at what I thought were the best TV shows, movies, music, books & comics, and podcasts I consumed during 2020. I hope you enjoy reading/watching/listening to some or all of these too :-)
Needless to say, my TV viewing increased this year due to lockdown and some shows really did deliver the ideal escapism at times. Top of the list by far of the best shows I watched this year is Normal People. Without expecting to be, I was quickly worrying non stop about Connell & Marianne's many life issues and I was thankful to be able to binge watch this great show to forgo the weeks of anguish! The show does an excellent job of transporting you into the lives of the couple and in some way transports you back into the mindset of your early twenties when everything was such a big deal. The fact that the show is Irish and gets so many things about Irish life and attitudes absolutely spot on added so much to the emersive nature of the watching experience for me.
The Plot Against America
This show is superb. The Plot Against America takes place in an alternate history where Franklin D. Roosevelt loses the presidential election in 1940 to Charles Lindbergh and America doesn't enter World War II. This is the backdrop to the story of a Jewish family in New Jersey struggling to deal with a world that is changing fast and turning against them. Watching this before the 2020 U.S. presidential election also added an extra flavour to the messages and warnings delivered by this excellent series.
The Good Place
During the first lockdown, The Good Place proved to be the perfect easy watching, short episodes TV show. When you look under the show's comedy and slight novelty vineer, you'll find a wholesome message of hope delivered through philosphy! An excellent show.
Continuing on the light viewing binge, Kim's Convenience made for the perfect lunch-time viewing. The hilarious Canadian sitcom quickly has you wrapped up in the lives of the Kim's and their various (and often hilarious) family relationship highs and lows. Don't be surprised when you start saying "ok, see you!" to everything!
DEVS is a weird show to describe, other than I though it was excellent. Without spoilers, it's about quantum mechanics, computing, life, philosophy, some murder, espionage, and an absolutely awesome score. It's a show that will have you thinking about it for days after you finish watching it.
Total cheese and I loved it! Cobra Kai managed to transport me back to my childhood in the 80's while also getting me invested in the life choices of Johnny Lawrence! Without the nostalgia connection of the movies from my childhood, I'm not sure how good it is but with that nostalgia, Cobra Kai Rules! :-p
Slí Na Beaglaoich
Father and son musicians Breanndán and Cormac Ó Beaglaoich travel up the west coast of Ireland playing music in this excellent show by TG4. As they travel together in their camper van from Kerry to Donegal, the two excellent trad musicians call into and meet up with loads of other trad musicians of different styles and instruments and play music together.
Samhlú on TG4 is a beautiful programme. It is a cultural showcase of music, theatre, dance, poetry, and art joined together in a themed voyage of discovery around a small Irish fishing village, with Tommy Tiernan as our guide/proxy. Ar fheabhas ar fad.
The Queen's Gambit
A late entrant for 2020, The Queen's Gambit on Netflix sent the year that was 2020 out strong on the TV show front. A brilliant show about a chess prodigy orphan doing what she has to do to get through the day, a bit like all of us these days (but probably with less chess :-p).