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There's No NHL Playoffs On Tonight So Here Are Some Rear-commendations For You

Thanks to the Bruins silencing the Canes in 4 games, we will not have an NHL Playoffs affair to satiate our entertainment needs this evening. Fortunately, the many streaming options we have nowadays offer an endless list of of quality shows and movies. Granted, most of them are ignored in favor of “The Office” or “It’s Always Sunny…” for the 639th straight time instead (I love ‘em too, folks, but Christ, mix it up a bit). But if you’re looking for something tonight because there’s no pucks on in the States, here are a few Rear-commendations for you…

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“Brockmire”. This IFC offering about baseball play-by-play legend Jim Brockmire is in the conversation for funniest show on TV. Created and played by the inimitable Hank Azaria, “Brockmire” is about a booth jockey who has an on-air meltdown after being humiliated by his wife, goes on a years-long sex-and-drug rampage, then tries to get back into the game starting from the bottom. Azaria is simply brilliant in the role and delivers future classic lines effortlessly.

The show has done a great job of following Jim’s humiliation, his many addictions, and then apparent growth over three seasons while at the same time keeping it fresh and funny and without being cloying. The writing is equally adept of making a reference to something from that evening’s news or a movie from 50 years ago (Jim’s THE GODFATHER-inflected running dialogue with his pet tortoise Clemenza is a particular delight). Though this is Azaria’s show, Amanda Peet and Tyrel Jackson Williams are just two of the many supporting players that do fantastic work on this show. You’ll know within about 10 minutes if “Brockmire” is for you. If it is, enjoy. (Season 3 is currently airing on IFC and previous seasons can be streamed as well.)

“Succession”. Scheduled to return for its much anticipated second season in August, this high-stakes family drama (or is it?) about an aging media mogul and his clan of vipers from series tastemaker HBO seemed to fly under the radar a bit in its first season but I think has the make-up and talent to become the network’s Next Great Drama. About that. It was about four or five eps in when I realized that the show was as much of a black comedy as it was a drama and that we should be laughing at these assholes.

Regardless of how I interpret it, it’s definitely worth diving into. Brian Cox as patriarch Logan Roy turns in fantastic work as a guy who won’t be leading the clubhouse in Father of the Year votes but that may be because his kids are either idiots or duplicitous or hate his current wife or all three. He owns a Disney/FOX-like behemoth that he may or may not sell and is also getting old and forgetful. His kid’s are angling behind each other’s back to pull of whatever shady plan they have up their sleeve. Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy does great work as a foil/son to his domineering father. But the interactions between Tom (Matthew Mcfadyen) and Greg (Nicholas Braun) might be the best on the show.

Season 2 drops in August so there’s plenty of time to watch S1. If it improves on Season One (not implying it needs to), it should start getting its proper due. (Season One eps are on all HBO outlets and Season Two drops in August).

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“Deadwood”. If you’re a hardcore TV fan, you should have already seen this HBO masterpiece from the brilliant mind of David Milch that aired three seasons over two-and-half years before being canceled due to a confluence of ill-timed Hollywood bullshit. “Deadwood” tells the story of a burgeoning 1870s pioneer camp in what will later become South Dakota and its many characters both shady and noble and usually both. Al Swearengen, in a career-best performance from Ian McShane, owns The Gem, a saloon/whorehouse/gambling hybrid, and is essentially the BMOC on Deadwood’s main thoroughfare. A savage who would gut you like a fish, Swearengen really wants everyone to just live a civilized life in a new world. But he’s never without an issue to deal with or challenges to his murderous authority.

I don’t know what’s better on this show, the acting or writing, because both are sublime. It’s s a dense, epic look into the American Dream, this democratic experiment of ours, the grinding gears of capitalism, the pioneering of the West, and the role and use of violence in building and maintaining a society. Simply, it’s a brilliant show deserving of your time.

I’ve long maintained that had “Deadwood” gotten a proper, pre-planned and executed final season like we got with seemingly every other show, then everybody would know that it’s proper place is on TV’s top drama list is right alongside “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, and “Falcon Crest” “The Wire”. And that Al should be in the same convos as Tony, Walter, and Don (Dick). It might be tool late for all that but at least long-time fans will get proper closure when HBO airs “Deadwood: The Movie” on 5/31. Binge it now so you’ll be caught up for the movie. It’s well worth it. (First three seasons are available on HBO outlets and Amazon Prime at last check.)