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Five for Friday - August 13, 2021

Clairo - Sling: Given that it is the 50th anniversary of seminal 70s albums like Blue and Nilsson Schmilsson, it is oddly apt that one of the more interesting songwriters in recent memory would make an album that feels like one out from that era. As in one of distant memory. There's a lovely Beatles-esque quality about her modest pop songs. A lush intimacy, which sounds contradictory, I know. But all of the songs have these lovely filigrees that take them out of the realm of diary entries and into odd little universes where they blossom and haunt you. If you love artists like Aimee Mann, Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian, Brian Wilson, and the like, you will find yourself gravitating to the vibe of these exceptional songs again and again.

Ghosts, Series 3: Based on the first episode, I thought maybe this delightful BBC show was showing signs of resting on its laurels. But when I reached the fourth episode, which features a most unconventional otherworldly romance, I realized I was wrong. Despite an overarching storyline that feels a bit truncated or underdeveloped given the limited number of episodes per series, Ghosts continues to impress me. For one, it is the way it blends the best of British humor with a pacing and absurdity that is in keeping with American sitcoms like 30 Rock. But it also has a sweetness to it that is in keeping with something like Ted Lasso. From Lolly Adefope's cheery Kitty to Katy Wix's odd pluralizations as Mary, Ghosts has one of the best ensembles on TV. And the show's creators (who also play the ghosts) write to their strengths. It's so good, it makes me wish for a fourth series and dread the American remake, which, based on the trailer, I'd say be afraid. Be very afraid.

Reservation Dogs: the premise is familiar. Youth who engage in crime and other activities out of boredom, frustration, and a desire to get out of their small community as soon as they can. But the setting--a Native American reservation in Oklahoma--transforms a universal story into something unique and wonderful. Created by filmmaker Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, the nods to Quentin Tarantino's film are forgotten almost as soon as they are established as Reservation Dogs establishes its own voice, characters, and milieu. The writing is strong and so is the mostly unknown cast. Unburdened by an Ed Helms-like character as per the promising Rutherford Falls, Reservation Dogs never has to filter itself through any lens other than its own. The two episodes that premiered this week suggest that it is going to be one of the best series of this year.

Mapleworth Murders: Finally added to Roku, this Quibi show is a parody of Murder, She Wrote with Paula Pell as a crime-solving writer who has a bedroom for her cats, a bedroom for her dogs, and a bedroom where they can have parties. It is sophomoric, crude, and loaded with puns. In other words, it is perfection. Pell and John Lutz (Lutz from 30 Rock) wrote all 12 episodes, which really are 4 episodes split into threes. It would be a crime if it doesn't get another season.

Mike Richards is the new host of Jeopardy!: I guess it's appropriate. I mean, the fact it was him and not virtually anyone else is questionable.


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