Watching: A Weird and Wonderful Comedy

Or a new drama.

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

The series finale of “Mad Men” aired five years ago yesterday, but it feels like so much longer in TV years. I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of shows since, but I don’t know if I’ve thought of any as often or as fondly.

I hope you’re safe. See you Wednesday.


I enjoy morbid stories

Michael Smiley in a scene from “Dead Still.”Acorn

‘Dead Still’

When to watch: Episodes 1 and 2 are available now, on Acorn TV (new episodes arrive Mondays).

If you crave period dramas and are not at all put off by mourning rites that might be totally foreign to you, watch this new quirky drama set in Ireland in the 1880s. The pilot has a scene that helpfully sums up the show: “You dig graves?” says a guy in an old-timey hat. “Hopefully not for much longer,” Conall (Kerr Logan) says. “And you photograph the dead?” old-timey hat asks. “Better than anyone, yes,” says Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley). Think “The Knick,” but carbonated.


I want stand-up

Patton Oswalt in his new special, “I Love Everything.”Kent Smith/Netflix

‘Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything’

When to watch: Arrives Tuesday, on Netflix.

Patton Oswalt’s bright new stand-up special hits what you want and expect from a Patton Oswalt special: precise lyricism, compelling social philosophies and an operatic deconstruction of ordinary decrepitude. (I could do without some of the clapter, and I’d encourage folks to find their nuanced understandings of the Apostolic Age elsewhere.) Oswalt’s social observations are plenty funny, but my favorite segments of his are always the wild, imaginative parts — as in this special, when he conjures a “Blue Valentine”-like indie-misery movie based on the cartoon illustrations on a Denny’s menu.


I want something fabulous and weird

Justin Theroux, left, and Amy Sedaris in the season premiere of “At Home With Amy Sedaris.”PVC

‘At Home With Amy Sedaris’

When to watch: Wednesday at 10 p.m., on TruTV.

The third season of this brilliant, screwy comedy starts with an episode devoted to pregnancy and babies. It is as peculiar and occasionally grotesque as you would hope, and the guests Laura Benanti, John Early, Cole Escola, Josh Hamilton, Jane Krakowski and Justin Theroux get in on the fun. “At Home” is sort of a spoof of retro homemaking shows, but that understates its distinctiveness — this is one of the most unusual shows on TV, and I marvel at it as often as I laugh at it.

Also this week

Tetsuya Fujita surveying tornado damage from a low-flying plane in “American Experience: Mr. Tornado.”Roger Tully

  • I wanted to love “The Big Flower Fight,” now on Netflix, a plant-spectacle reality contest show ostensibly in the vein of “The Great British Baking Show,” but the three episodes made available to critics left me cold. It’s too contrived, and all the judging feels as if someone watched mid-run “America’s Next Top Top Model” and thought, “Why so restrained?”
  • “American Experience: Mr. Tornado” tells the story of the meteorologist Tetsuya Fujita, who developed the Fujita scale for measuring tornado damage. It airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)
  • “The 100” returns for its seventh and final season Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the CW.
  • The new season of “Holey Moley” starts Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC. Think of it less as an over-the-top mini-golf show and more as a satire of “American Ninja Warrior,” and then enjoy its gleeful silliness.

Your newly available movies of the week

A scene from “Graves Without a Name,” a documentary directed by Rithy Panh.First Run Features

A new animated Scooby-Doo adventure becomes the latest major-studio film to premiere online, joining an Al Capone biopic starring Tom Hardy; “The Wrong Missy,” a lowbrow David Spade comedy; and “Graves Without a Name,” Rithy Panh’s latest documentary about the horror of the Khmer Rouge.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fee between the distributor and the art-house theater of your choice. All other titles can be rented on the usual platforms — Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube — unless otherwise noted. — Scott Tobias

Here’s what our critics wrote about the most talked-about movies from last week:


Hardy evidently sees Capone, who died at 48, less as a monster made frail by a human body (à la “The Irishman”) than as a boogeyman bloated with body fluids. Prosthetics have helped transform the performer into a repository of ashen skin, eyes with broken blood vessels and a guttural quack better suited to the Penguin. If you hit the character with a baseball bat, he might explode, like a piñata of phlegm and other excretions. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

‘Graves Without a Name’ (A Critic’s Pick)

The accretion of detail — narrative, visual and verbal — gives the movie an unusual density. The depiction of human cruelty is appalling, but the way “Graves” makes the viewer feel the necessity of its filmmaker’s calling is profoundly moving. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)


Anyone who complained that the show’s durable let’s-find-out-who-you-really-are mystery formula showed signs of repetition now gets what passes in corporate boardrooms for an original take: a frantic overhaul teeming with robots that sound like R2-D2, as well as other pop-culture shout-outs maladroitly designed to bring Scooby up-to-date. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

‘The Wolf House’ (A Critic’s Pick, via KimStim virtual cinema)

The co-directors, Joaquín Cociña and Cristobal León, did the ultra-painstaking animation themselves and it’s a wonder they weren’t driven insane in the process (although, come to think of it, one can’t authoritatively say they weren’t). Comparisons with visionary animators like Jan Svankmajer and the Quay Brothers might not be inapt, but they also won’t do the trick — these filmmakers have a perspective and a voice that feels entirely new. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

‘The Wrong Missy’ (Netflix only)

The leading male vacuum allows [Lauren] Lapkus’s Missy to dominate every scene with hostile come-ons, projectile vomiting and demonic laughter. Yet, though the gags are retrograde groaners, Lapkus embarrasses herself with confidence. Her full-throttle verve transcends the script like a water skier leaping over a Great White. — Amy Nicholson (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:


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