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Aaron Barnhart — Speaking of Everything

Here we go again!

Those of you who have been on this list for a while remember hearing from me every week. Well, I’m not quite there yet, but as of today this newsletter is going to every-other-Friday publication. 

One reason I’m doing this is to get you the links in a more timely manner. For instance, this weekend is the second-season premiere of The Confession Tapes, an absolutely chilling crime anthology series for people who HATE true crime shows.

Director Kelly Loudenberg has dug up some the worst travesties of justice that happened when a person was coerced into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit. Here’s my review of Season 1 to get you good and angry — I mean, good and ready — for Season 2 of The Confession Tapes.
 

About the new name ....

I’m calling this latest iteration of my newsletter Speaking of Everything, a reference some of you may recognize. 

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Six Feet Under was never this real

According to my editors at Primetimer, my review of Casketeers is the most-read column I’ve written to date. Pretty amazing considering that it’s a New Zealand reality show set at a funeral home. 

Detectorists

I’ll be honest, I passed on watching Detectorists during its run from 2014 to 2017. It just looked like another one of those quirky Britcoms, this one about guys and their odd hobbies. But I found Season 1 surprisingly engaging and sweet. (If you’ve been watching the show on PBS, be aware that’s a cleaned-up version; the dirty version is funnier.)

Can new Frasier possibly live up to old Frasier?

Kelsey Grammer wants to bring back Frasier. Well, why wouldn’t he? Frasier Crane was only the most enduring sitcom character in history, and the show won all those Emmys. Still, I have my doubts, which is why I went back and picked out the best episodes from arguably Frasier’s best season on TV.

Babylon Berlin is really a show about freedom

While visiting Germany, I got a strong rave from a friend for this show, the most ambitious non-English TV series ever. It’s a dazzling and intricate crime drama set in pre-Nazi Berlin, when democracy and sex were practiced with great gusto. If your memory of the Weimar years is shaped entirely from watching Cabaret, you must watch this.

‘Storytelling bloat’ on TV shows

Emily VanDerWerff has a terrific piece this week in Vox about something we’ve probably all suffered through as viewers — “storytelling bloat,” that tendency for TV shows to “spend eight or nine or 10 episodes on what they could have accomplished in three.” She cites HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl as a great example of how less is more. (Prior to June 3, Emily was Todd VanDerWerff, as she explains here. Was and is one of our best working critics.)

Hey, books! Remember books?

We were in Greater London when we turned the corner and saw this:
Waterstones Bookstore in Richmond, Surrey, England

Waterstones is the Barnes & Noble of the UK, and like many physical booksellers it was on the ropes a few years ago. Then a new owner and CEO turned it around. Now they’ve bought Barnes & Noble and want to perform the same magic there. (Hopefully it will involve returning actual books to the front display tables.) 

The Shoutout: 
No Place Like Home

And speaking of books, C.J. Janovy, my neighbor and friend, just won the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize for No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas (University Press of Kansas). One of my favorite quotes from the book: “I went to testify in full business drag. Suit, silk shirt, briefcase, the whole thing.” 

One more thing ...

Would you please click the button below and share all this good stuff with someone that will enjoy reading it? Thanks! — Aaron
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