I am back from the Television Critics Association press tour, better known as the Death March With Cocktails, and more regular blogging will commence as a result. I will be taking this weekend to recharge, and if you have free time, too and want to get ready for next week’s posts, here are five things I am watching and reading.
1. “Manhattan”: WGN is making a push into original drama, and its most recent offering is this period show about the scientists working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. The show could stand to lighten up a little bit: even this far removed from World War II, it is hard to imagine its potential audience does not know at least the basics of the atomic bomb project. But “Manhattan” has a reasonably deft sense of how to communicate scientific competition and the claustrophobia of being in a closed community.
2. “Love Child”: I will have more to come next week on this unnerving documentary, airing Monday on HBO at 9:00pm. “Love Child” tells the story of a South Korean couple whose infant daughter starved to death while they left her alone to play video games. This highly harrowing documentary does not go deep into the couple’s thinking, which might still have left us uncomprehending of their motives. Instead, it juxtaposes their story against both South Korean technology policy and religious practice. It is fascinating, even oddly dreamy, watching.
3. “Married”: I am fully on board with “You’re the Worst,” the louche, sweet romantic comedy FX debuted two weeks ago. But I am much less sure about “Married,” which airs half an hour before it, and stars Nat Faxon and Judy Greer as its titular couple. The pair is underemployed and emotionally overstretched by their lackadaisical approach to childbearing. I want to like “Married.” But four episodes in, I wish the show would cut its sourness with something.
4. “Armageddon,” by Max Hastings: I did not plan for this to be the summer that I went down a rabbit hole of World War II military history. But having knocked off Hastings’ history of the endgame in the Pacific and Herbert Bix’s biography of Hirohito, I am on to Hastings’ look at the conclusion of the European front of the war. In the introduction to “Armageddon,” Hastings draws a distinction between the kind of history he is practicing and the sorts of stories we tell to honor veterans. Reading his books, I am marveling at how little I knew, and how fascinating military strategy and styles of command can be.
5. “Maine,” by J. Courtney Sullivan: In between historical door stoppers, I have been recharging with reading that is literally summery. This chronicle of an extended family and their summer house in Maine lacks some of the subtlety that made Sullivan’s debut novel, “Commencement,” so strong (her book “The Engagements” does not live up to that early promise, either). But one of her main characters, an elderly Bostonian alcoholic, is a memorably tart addition to a growing roster of tricky female characters.