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‘Mozart in the Jungle’ Takes a Most Unusual Tea Break in Japan

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Three recommendations for TV shows to watch this weekend, plus a roundup of the week’s entertainment news

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Amazon Prime/Mozart in the Jungle

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

Amazon Prime/Mozart in the Jungle

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

ABc/Fresh Off the Boat

Fresh Off the Boat, “Ride the Tiger”

Watch it on: Hulu,

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…

Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for a cooking project, perhaps consider making pimento cheese from scratch using this recipe.

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