Hello dear readers! I suggested a little while back, in my JasonLikesToTravel 2.0 post, that I may mix things up a little bit and blog about topics beyond travel.
I’ve just really struggled finding any blogging motivation, perhaps a writers block of sorts. I’ve never had so many ‘draft’ posts sitting there waiting to be finished off and yet sit there they do. I can’t seem to reach a point with my travel posts that leave me content with the ‘story’ I suppose.
So in an effort to blog a bit more regularly, I figure why not mix things up. I thought it might be nice to share some of the stuff I’ve been watching in recent weeks and months, plus share a few of the shows still on my list to watch.
I feel like this was partly Covid related and that every show in eternity filmed and released new seasons of stuff at exactly the same time. “Here’s a new season of this on Thursday and that on Friday and this on Sunday” and on and on and on. Worse yet, they all seemed to get released around March-April time which was of course as I embarked on my wedding trip to the USA.
Surely they could have staggered their releases better? I very quickly went from being inbetween shows to suddenly having 50 things to watch and little time to do so! The last few weeks I’ve began catching up again so here’s a look at some stuff I’ve been watching this year!
Better Call Saul
This Breaking Bad spin-off went much as Breaking Bad did for me really. For all of the hype around Breaking Bad, I felt like it took a while to get going and this is true of Better Call Saul too.
I tried watching this when it was first released and struggled on through the first season, the second didn’t keep me captivated so I gave up on it.
I decided to give it another crack and go back from the start and watch over. It’s still a bit of a struggle initially and I think you’re more inclined to stick with it if you’ve seen Breaking Bad but it does improve a lot. It’s taken me a bit of time to catch up and I did manage to watch a little of it whilst in the US in March and April but I’m now fully up to date.
We’re on a mid-season break but the show returns next week, having ended on a fantastic cliffhanger, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they wrap things up. This is the final season and being a prequel, we kind of know the path certain characters take. We also know which characters aren’t in Breaking Bad so I’m particularly interested to see the fate of those characters as they wrap up Better Call Saul.
I think both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad are good shows and get better with each season but if you’ve not watched either, be warned that they take a while to get going!
I think the final season of this was released at the end of 2021 but I didn’t get around to watching this until early this year. I actually ended up watching this in its original language (Spanish – “La Casa de Papel”) albeit with English subtitles which I think made it a little more enjoyable for me.
The show follows a couple of heists, robbing the country of Spain of some of its biggest assets. It’s a really good show. In contrast to the above, I think it was probably at its strongest in its early seasons but I still really enjoyed it towards its finale. The story has you rooting for the thieves to get away with the grandest heists and there’s plenty of twists along the way. It also features some great characters and I’d definitely recommend giving it a watch.
I thought the finale wrapped things up nicely and it’s a show I’d definitely recommend giving a watch.
Star Wars – Episodes 4-6, 1-3, 7-9, Rogue One and Solo
I feel like people of my generation were either introduced to Star Wars via their parents or from friends who’d likely been introduced to it by their parents. My parents never had any interest or love for Star Wars, I’m not sure that they’ve ever seen any of the films so we were a Star Wars free household growing up.
My sister was introduced to it presumably through friends of her own but I was a very shy child. I’m still quiet and introverted now but as a child particularly so and therefore I struggled socially, my biggest bonds were those made through my love of football. I was obsessed with all things football – it was my comfort zone and if you liked football it made connecting with you infinitely easier.
What relevance that has to Star Wars? None I suppose but one of those friendships that I did make led to a cinema invitation. My two friends and their mum were going to watch the newly released Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace!
I think amongst hardcore Star Wars afficionados this is considered one of the weakest as far as the Star Wars films are concerned and I’m inclined to agree. So whilst I enjoyed my cinema visit with my friends, I wasn’t blown away by it. I’ve never been a film buff anyway but I don’t think the Phantom Menace was captivating enough to make me go back and watch the older Star Wars movies or anticipate the next episodes that would be released. So for years and years and years that was my sole Star Wars watch. I wasn’t inspired enough to watch any others.
“You haven’t watched Star Wars!!?”
and I was never one of those people that took delight in not watching something because it wound people up. I just hadn’t watched it because I hadn’t, no particular reason other than I spent my time doing other things.
However a few years back (December 2016!) I decided I was going to give Star Wars its opportunity to win me over but this time, doing it right. Let’s go back to the “beginning” – episode 4 naturally. Let’s see what I’ve been missing out on!
Forty years on from its original release I sat down and watched ‘A New Hope’ and it did not disappoint. It holds up pretty well despite the time that has since passed. Star Wars had offered me hope – “on to the next!”
Several times over I’ve tried to watch them all. I think on that first occasion I watched the first two episodes and no further, not for lack of enjoyment but committing to them all is time-consuming.
You sit down, watch one and then leave the next one for another night and something crops up. You go out, you’re too tired, whatever.. I must have watched Episodes 4 & 5 a good few times without ever getting much further than the trilogy. I think my greatest effort was watching 4-6 & then re-watching Episode 1 for the first time since its release. Alas, no success!
Fast forward a few years..
I came back from the US in May of 2022 and it seems that on my final day in Washington I caught Covid. I was homebound for the foreseeable future and I thought to myself, let’s watch Star Wars – all of them.
I was still working from home so my freetime wasn’t infinite but I had enough to say, “one film a night, that should be doable” and so it was back to the “beginning” – episode 4 for the nth time! I’ve always wanted to watch them in release order, experiencing it as cinema-goers did upon Star Wars release.
Fortunately despite having seen it countless times, episode 4 is probably my favourite having sparked a love for Star Wars so it never feels like a chore to watch it.
Episode 5 and 6 followed then on to a new trilogy! Episode 1 and then something fresh! From this point on I was going in blind, well as blind as prequels allow you to be. There are “spoilers” to some extent, moreso being such an old series. Even having never watched Star Wars you probably have some knowledge of certain characters but for the most part everything going forward was new to me.
I stuck at it and each new movie immersed me further in to the world of Star Wars – going in to the final few movies was particularly rewarding because I was truly blind. They featured stories I knew nothing of, characters I knew nothing about and over the course of a couple of weeks I’d been well and truly won over. After six years of trying, I’d finally watched all eleven Star Wars movies.
Sitting down to watch that final movie, The Rise of Skywalker, and watching it come to its conclusion was really, really satisfying. The next challenge is to watch some of the TV shows that have since followed but I’ll get there in time!
This one is definitely a guilty pleasure watch. I don’t tend to watch reality TV, the whole “celebrity” culture does nothing for me and I tend to avoid all of those kind of shows but there’s just something about ‘The Circle’ that has me hooked.
The premise is that a number of contestants get locked away to the confines of their own apartment, only able to communicate with the other contestants ‘online’ with whichever profile they see fit. They can either play as themselves or ‘catfish’ as another person entirely.
I’ve always been pretty active on social media so I don’t know if that partly plays a part in why this peaks my interest but the show fascinates me. Channel 4 first introduced it to British viewers whilst Netflix have since taken on the mantle with their own US version.
The fourth season of the US edition was released in May and I blitzed through it as quickly as Netflix allowed me to – cruelly only releasing four episodes a week and typically ending on cliffhangers that begged answers.
My only critique is that the show usually falls apart in its finale. I’ve rarely been content in the eventual winner of the show and it’s a genuine bug-bear of mine that you have strong contenders for 12 episodes that then have no chance of winning it because they’re seen as too big a threat.
There are two series (one UK, one US) where this was particularly evident and just left me bitterly resentful at how it played out haha. This latest season however had a generally likeable group of contestants and there were no such complaints in how it ended! As far as reality TV goes, this is one rare show that gets a tick from me!
This was another that I think was released at the end of 2021 but I only got around to finishing this year. Season one ended at such an inconvenient point (cliffhanger!) that meant this was a painfully long wait for season two because of Covid haha.
This is a fantasy show following the lives of Geralt of Rivia, Ciri of Cintra and Yennefer of Vengerberg – featuring magic and royalty and a bunch of other things.
It’s a fairly short show at just eight episodes a season so far but thoroughly enjoyable. After a two year wait it was great to be reacquainted with the story and learn more of the various characters throughout the world. I thought season two was another strong season, largely following the life of Princess Ciri. I’m excited to see where the story leads in the next season.
I wanted something fairly light-hearted after catching up with Better Call Saul and ‘Heartstopper’ ticked the right boxes. I saw the trailer for this quite early on and led to one of those “have you seen this?” queries with Haleigh – being one of Haleigh’s favourite book series I knew she’d be intrigued that Netflix were doing a TV adaptation.
I’ve never read any of the books but I was keen to give Netflix’s show a watch to see why Haleigh loved it so. This is one of those “high school” shows that follow teenagers coming of age, this however focusing moreso on LGBTQ+ love interests as some of the characters come to terms with their sexualities.
It’s a very happy, sappy, romantic, feel-good bit of television. I found this really, really easy to watch and some of the characters really likeable. Again, there’s only eight episodes to this single series (a second has been confirmed) so I think I binged it over the space of two nights but if you want something fairly light-hearted to watch that’s also LGBT friendly then this might be worth giving a watch. I liked it.
After Heartstopper I wanted something a bit more compelling and to continue with ticking off my ever-growing “to-watch” list. The final season of Ozark was released this year, split in to two parts either side of my wedding. I think I’d watched the first half at the start of the year but then had to wait until I was back in England to catch up with the second half of the final season.
This is another show that I think continued getting stronger the longer it was on TV. I think the show is really well written and somewhat similarly to ‘House of Cards’ you find yourself rooting for and against the showrunners at various points along the way.
I think overall the season was a strong one and I’d still recommend watching it but I felt really let down by its conclusion. I was watching the final episode and with 5-10 minutes to go I had to double check that this was indeed the final season because I had no idea how they were going to wrap things up.
It really fell short for me and it aggravated me so much. My advice? Don’t wrap up watching the finale of a TV show last thing on a Sunday night because it was a bittersweet way to end what was otherwise a lovely weekend.
There are some shows that kind of stumble over the finishing line in its final season just to reach a conclusion, House of Cards a very good example for very unfortunate reasoning, but for the mostpart I’d say this was a good season and left me with too many questions and uncertainties at the end of the show.
I think the only bit of comfort to its finale is that they could bring the show back in the future if they wanted to.
A bit more fluff TV really but after Ozark this was a necessary comedown, I just needed something easy to watch.
This is a “how the other half live..” type show – following the society of England’s (fictional) wealthy and noble families. The premise of each season (two to date) is essentially to find the next batch of women-of-age a husband among the ‘ton’.
It’s a hugely popular show, one of Netflix’s most watched I believe. I don’t think it’s that good but it is something I enjoy watching as a pretty casual watch. The most recent season introduced some new characters to the ‘ton’ whilst watching some other favourites develop. For a light-hearted watch it’s enjoyable enough and I’ll no doubt watch seasons 3 & 4 once released.
The Last Kingdom!
This was my most recent watch and another TV show that came to its conclusion this year. Released in March 2022, I didn’t get the chance to watch it before the wedding trip but it was worth the wait.
A two year wait I should say, this was another long gap between seasons that was presumably affected by Covid. The fourth season was released in April 2020 and the fifth of March this year so the ‘recap’ feature was a necessity for this one as I’d forgotten a good chunk of where things had left off in the previous season.
The show is fictional but follows the rule of the kingdoms in Britain and the battle between Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons and features a fair few genuine historical figures – notably “Alfred the Great”.
The first episode of season five was a little slow but from thereon I thought it was an exceptional final season. Where Ozark disappointed, this did not. I said above don’t watch a TV show as the final act of the weekend but this rounded off this past weekend perfectly and left me completely satisfied – the final episode ended with a montage of ‘Lord Uthred’s’ story throughout and it was *chefs kiss* perfection.
Highly recommend! It also had me itching to book a trip to Bamburgh asap so a little bonus from the show I suppose!
The two big things on my “to-watch” list are Stranger Things and The Umbrella Academy. Fortunately I didn’t get to Stranger Things too quickly so didn’t see ‘part one’ of the newest season, meaning I can binge it all in one go. More fortunately I haven’t heard any spoilers yet which seems like a miracle, everyone has been talking about it and it seems this season has taken a bit of a darker / more horror-like direction. I’m intrigued.
I feel like that is more likely to be spoilt for me than ‘The Umbrella Academy’ but the newest season of that just came out too so that’ll be something I need to watch soon too.
Better Call Saul returns next season with part two of its final season. I think Netflix plan to release episodes weekly though so I might wait until August to watch it all in one bash, one episode a week isn’t enough.
There’s a few other things on my list that I need to begin watching or finish off watching. I somehow need to find ‘Ted Lasso’ to watch, I might get myself a free trial of AppleTV and bash that out in 7 days unless there’s anything else worth watching on Apple to justify yet another subscription.
I never think to check Amazon Prime either but I’m sure there’s some stuff worthwhile giving a watch over there too. Plus I’ve got some of the Disney+ Marvel and Star Wars TV shows to give a watch that I’ve yet to see.
Have you watched anything good recently? Anything worth adding to my list? Preferably TV shows as I seem to struggle watching a movie. Why I can watch six hour-long episodes of something in an evening but not watch a movie I don’t know.
Anyway, let me know! Until next time,