This post originally appeared on February 16, 2018, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV. Browse the archives and subscribe now.
Welcome to your hard-earned weekend. Maybe you’ve got some plans — seeing Black Panther, perhaps? — or maybe you don’t. No matter what’s on the docket, it would probably be a good idea to find some time to chill out and watch TV, perhaps right after placing an order for food delivery. Here are three recommendations of new shows to watch, plus a recap of the week’s entertainment news.
Mozart gets lost In a green tea forest
A Japanese tea ceremony is the backdrop for a tense and heady lovers’ quarrel in the new season of Amazon’s drama Mozart in the Jungle. You don’t have to be familiar with the award-winning show (or the world of Japanese tea service) to enjoy this episode — it stands on its own, like an endearingly bizarre 24-minute short film.
The day after bungling a music competition, conductor Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal) takes his lover/protégé Hailey (Lola Kirke) to a tea house in the middle of a serene garden outside of Tokyo. Clearly, things aren’t clicking between the two musicians on the cab ride over. As a host guides them into the snug teahouse and explains the meaning behind each step of the service, Rodrigo and Hailey begin to retreat into their own minds. Tasting the green tea sends them on individual journeys through a surreal forest occupied by friends, former lovers, and mirror versions of themselves. At the end of the ceremony, both have a clearer picture of where they need to head in their lives.
“Ichi Go Ichi E” was directed by show co-creator Roman Coppola, a filmmaker who, like his sister and father (Sofia and Francis Ford), has a gift for composing atmospheric scenes where the tension builds gradually until the foundation shatters. The tea ceremony is an especially smart setting for this relationship breakdown, because it embodies many of the traits that these characters hold dear to their hearts — beauty, sophistication, and showmanship. Although it’s taken to a cinematic extreme, this episode also shows how submitting yourself to a cultural experience — a tea ceremony, a day at the museum, a night at the opera, a dinner at a tasting menu restaurant — can shake something loose in your brain, if only momentarily.
All 10 episodes of Mozart in the Jungle Season 4 are now available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Streaming recommendations du jour
Fresh Off the Boat, “Ride the Tiger”
The gist: The Lunar New Year episode of this popular sitcom kicks off with a celebratory feast, and later delves into how the lives of two Huang family members were changed by a strawberry seed shipment gone awry. The episode also keeps flashing back to an infamous disco night at a bar many years ago. In a novel twist, half of all the dialogue in this episode is in Mandarin, because the Huangs are trying to see how long they can go without speaking English. Teenage protagonist Eddie drops out early in the game, saying, “I’ve been wanting someone to pass me those dumplings or a half an hour, but I don’t know how to say, ‘Give me those dumps’ in Mandarin.”
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, “George Clooney”
Watch it on: Netflix
The gist: This hour-long interview between the actor and late night host goes surprisingly deep. Sure, there are some amusing stories about how Clooney worked as a chauffeur/bartender for his aunt Rosemary as a kid, and George tells the tale of how he started a massively successful tequila company practically by accident. But the real heart of this show is found in the scenes where Letterman visits Clooney’s parents in Kentucky, and meets with the Iraqi refugee that the family helped bring to America. George sheds light on the heroic work that his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, has been doing lately, and Letterman chats with Clooney about what motivates his own humanitarian work. This at-times heavy conversation is bookended by some fun scenes of Clooney and Letterman sharing burgers and fries outside the In-N-Out location near LAX.
In other news…
- Does Charlie and the Chocolate Factory need another reboot? No way. But if anyone’s going to do it, Paul King, the guy behind the shockingly well-reviewed Paddington films, is probably a safe bet.
- Who knows what will happen during the Winter Olympics this weekend, but it’s unlikely that the games will produce a better moment than 17-year old snowboarder Chloe Kim crushing the women’s halfpipe. Immediately after this victory, she remarked: “I really want like a burger and some fries, maybe a Hawaiian pizza.”
- The theme of this summer’s Clusterfest, a comedy festival featuring a ton of incredible performers, is “a journey through Andy Samberg’s stomach.” It looks like the bar from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will be recreated for the event in San Francisco.
- Ellen DeGeneres will be one of the guests on the forthcoming season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, now on Netflix. During a visit to Ellen’s show this week, Jerry Seinfeld explained that he only started drinking coffee right before he launched the show. “I just missed it,” he explains. “I didn’t know it was great.” No word yet on a premiere date.
- And speaking of Comedians in Cars, a guy named Christian Charles is suing Jerry Seinfeld over allegations that he stole the idea behind the show from him. Seinfeld’s lawyer calls this a “shakedown suit” while noting that the claims are “delusional.”
- Portlandia’s “Sinkles” sketch belongs in the food comedy hall of fame.
- Reg E. Cathey, the actor who played a barbecue restaurant owner on House of Cards, died last week. He was 59.
- Great British Bake Off winner Ruby Tandoh doesn’t keep up with the show these days, but she has a few other food TV fixations: “I love Ree Drummond’s strange fantasy ranch life, and I love Guy Fieri’s over-the-top enthusiasm and Nigella’s specific brand of whimsy.”
- Superstar Hollywood producer Brian Grazer loves leaving his own headshots at his favorite restaurants, including the Palm.
- Logan Lucky director Steven Soderbergh is obsessed with the Cheesecake Factory. “I’m fascinated by the fact that they have the world’s largest menu and that I’ve never gotten anything there that I didn’t think was good,” he tells Food and Wine.
Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for a cooking project, perhaps consider making pimento cheese from scratch using this recipe.