‘Band of Brothers’ is back. And this time it’s on Netflix
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who loves a milestone.
In television, 100 episodes is the traditional mark of lasting success — and the unofficial point at which a series becomes a target for syndication. And though we at Screen Gab won’t be diving into pools of money or airing reruns, we are taking the publication of our 100th issue as a sign that we’re doing something right. Thanks to all of you out there for signing up, sharing with friends, sending your feedback and, most of all, sticking with us.
To the next 100.
—Matt Brennan, Screen Gab editor
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TV’s top shows are on hold as strikes wear on. These 10 books are replacement therapy: This fall TV season is bleak. Whether you’re an “Andor” freak, a “Stranger Things” fan or a “Law & Order” junkie, one of these 10 books will tide you over.
Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times
“Mrs. Sidhu Investigates” (Acorn TV)
Based on a BBC radio series created by Suk Pannu, Acorn’s delightful “Mrs. Sidhu Investigates” is old-fashioned in a contemporary way. Set in the Thames Valley town of Slough (the oft-mocked setting of the original “The Office”), redolent of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and cut from the popular Mad Libs formula of “[fill in the blank] as a detective” that has birthed so many sleuths since, it stars Meera Syal as a widowed caterer who knows equally well how to cook and read a crime scene. Followers of food shows will be familiar with the figure of the British South Asian chef or baker, so though the character may be novel among detectives, she’s an appealing known quantity right from the start. Craig Parkinson plays the skeptical police inspector to whom Mrs. Sidhu insistently offers advice; Gurjeet Singh is her slacker son, who will occasionally prove helpful despite himself. Cultural specifics are casually but distinctly woven into the action; the food looks good enough to eat. — Robert Lloyd
“Band of Brothers” (Netflix, Max)
I needn’t have waited until now to rewatch “Band of Brothers” — I still own the original six-disc set, housed in a tin the size of a small lunch pail — but I suspect the series might soon arrive back in the zeitgeist. That’s because Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s landmark HBO series, which premiered in 2001, recently dropped on Netflix as part of a new Warner Bros. Discovery licensing deal with its erstwhile streaming competitor. (Issa Rae’s “Insecure” had already done so; others are planned to follow.) Wherever you find it, though, the “Saving Private Ryan” companion piece, which follows the parachute men of Easy Company from training camp in Georgia to the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp and the end of World War II, remains one of the medium’s signal achievements — a richly detailed tapestry of the Greatest Generation at its finest, never less than unerringly human despite its cinematic sweep. Indeed, aided by standout performances from Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Neal McDonough, David Schwimmer and others, it dispenses with the lachrymose excesses of Spielberg’s best picture-losing epic to focus on the plainer rhythms of life during wartime, on boredom and hunger, camaraderie and grit. Two decades or so since first seeing it, I can still remember the extraordinary sixth entry, “Bastogne” — set against the dwindling supplies and snow-covered quiet of an Ardennes winter — beat for bloody beat. What I mean to say is: After I watched “Band of Brothers,” I’ve been re-watching it in my mind ever since. — Matt Brennan
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
It’s time to say “Mvto” and “Tehecakvrēs” to our favorite s— a— as one of the best shows on TV, “Reservation Dogs” (FX on Hulu), wraps its groundbreaking, hilarious and beautiful run on Wednesday. If you’re not up on it, the recommendation here is to binge from the beginning, because while the episodes do generally work as stand-alones, they’re each part of a complex tapestry.
The show was notable for its trailblazing Native representation, which shaped its unique perspective and rhythms, its uncommon storytelling and subject matter. Showrunner Sterlin Harjo’s vision and talent also made it much more than an ordinary sitcom. But above all else, “Reservation Dogs” was just plain great.
The misadventures of teen ride-or-dies Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Elora (Devery Jacobs), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis) and Cheese (Lane Factor) weren’t just new for TV; they were memorable, fun and frequently moving. Over its three seasons, the show moved past that crew’s hijinks, dealing with serious issues underpinning their lives and community. Those four sometimes barely appeared as we learned about the “Dazed and Confused” youth of characters we’d seen only as elders. We went on an accidental acid trip with the good-hearted local cop. We were dropped into a full-on horror movie, discovering the heartbreaking origin of one of the show’s mystical characters.
Mostly, though, the series’ feet were planted firmly on the Oklahoma ground, its otherworldliness coexisting with the day-to-day of modern reservation life. Even the way “Reservation Dogs” dealt with the most emotional moments felt understated, direct, and thus hit harder. Its abrupt depiction of a terrible discovery made by Elora (and the naked truthfulness of Jacobs’ performance) in Season 1 was among the most wrenching moments in that year of television. Just as the material and spiritual existed side by side, so did comedy and tragedy.
One of the series’ themes was understanding the past — coping with it, learning from it, coming to grips with how it shaped the present. Ghostly visitations and flashback episodes built bridges as the show pushed the young friends forward.
The series began with the kids stealing a truckload of chips and, in one of its final episodes, came full circle with a brain-bruisingly incompetent heist, albeit one with selfless intentions. It was another unusual bit of storytelling conveying their growth.
There’s simply no other show like “Reservation Dogs.” It will be missed. — Michael Ordoa
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
Up-from-the-mailroom stories are legion in Hollywood. It’s much rarer to encounter the real deal. But Rose Beth Johnson-Brown is just that. Since starting out as a production assistant on Season 4 of “Billions,” Johnson-Brown has moved up the ranks, serving as assistant to showrunners Brian Koppelman and David Levien and now, with Friday’s episode, making her directorial debut. As the Showtime series enters the home stretch of its seventh and final season, Johnson-Brown stopped by Screen Gab to offer advice for the next generation of Hollywood up-and-comers, suggest some “Billions” replacement therapy and talk about what she’s watching. — Matt Brennan
What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?
“Barry” [Max] is the show that I just finished watching and cannot stop talking about. I slept on it for years and I am so glad I finally woke up! I found it so inspiring both formally and philosophically. And also it’s funny. Despite the fact that Bill Hader’s Barry is a violent assassin who kills many innocent people, we are so ready to forgive him and slip comfortably into the familiar love affair of denial and moral relativity as we have done with all our favorite prestige TV antiheroes. (I guess I’ll speak for myself: Love you Tony, Walter, Don, etc.) Alas, Hader does not let us forgive and forget; in fact, he makes a point as the seasons progress to remind us that his protagonist is in fact woefully irredeemable and that there are consequences for such behavior. It is unsettling, riveting, experimental at times, and somehow, as I said, funny. Go watch it!
What is your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?
Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” [VOD, multiple platforms] and “Lost in Translation” [Netflix] will never cease to comfort and inspire me. Like many of Coppola’s movies, they so masterfully illustrate the tone and tenor of what it is to feel lonely, which in turn often makes you feel less alone. Arguably, “loneliness” should be one of the least dramatic subjects possible, but Coppola writes her way in and out of these beautifully crafted vignettes that are as specific as they are universal. One moment you have a newfound craving for petit fours and a crush on Bill Murray and the next moment you have a lump in your throat and a fearless conviction that girls do in fact run the world.
You worked your way up from the role of P.A. on “Billions.” Based on that experience, what’s your top piece of advice to people who are trying to break into the business?
On my very first day of P.A.-ing, an AD [assistant director] told me to treat my time as a production assistant like graduate school. I took her advice as best I could and it paid off, especially because I did not go to film school, so I had a lot to learn! When you start your first entry-level job in the business, it is normal to feel nervous or even bored sometimes. It can sometimes be tedious to stand on a street corner two blocks from set or answer phones for your boss all day. The antidote to this tedium is curiosity. Learn everyone’s names — and I mean everyone, not just the top dogs. Ask them what they do and why and how. You will be surprised how much you learn and how much people love teaching you. If you feel shy talking to someone, ask about what they were working on before this. (People love to tell their war stories.) Remember the name of their daughter or their dog and ask after them. Listen closely and don’t go on your phone unless you need to for your job. The result is this: When people feel like you have their backs, they will have yours. This effort will not only make you better at your current job but it will help you get your next one. Plus, you get a whole crop of new friends, which makes going to work each Monday all the more fun.
With the end of “Billions,” plenty of fans will be looking for replacement therapy to fill the void. What business/financial industry film or TV series would you turn to first?
If you are looking for a series, I’d start with “The Sopranos” [Max]. If you have already seen it, I can attest to the fact that it only gets better the second time around. I’d also suggest “The Crown” [Netflix], “Homeland” [Showtime], “Veep” [Max], “The Bear” [Hulu] and one wild-card rec, which is Showtime’s “Couples Therapy” (especially if you are Team Wendy). Each of these shows are about people who are driven by their love for what they do, which in my opinion is one of the core motivations behind each of the characters in “Billions.”
If you want to do a movie marathon, I’d start with “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” [both Paramount+], always ripe for a rewatch and an evergreen reference for the show. Beyond that, I’d also suggest “Hard Eight” [Pluto], “Margin Call” [Freevee], “The Square” [Prime Video, Hulu], “Klute” [Max], “Mikey and Nicky” [Kanopy, Criterion Channel] and of course “Rounders,” [Paramount+ With Showtime], written by Koppelman and Levien. A piecemeal but personal list of films that remind me of “Billions” in their own specific way. Enjoy!
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