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Stuck at Home: What Should You Watch?

Category: Baby Boomer Retirement Issues

March 21, 2020 — This is an extraordinary time – a significant number of Americans have been ordered to stay in their homes. While painful and anxiety producing, at least with the Internet and TV we actually have it better than when we were kids and claimed to be “sick”. Our mother, if she felt we weren’t that ill, would make us lick green stamps and put them in the redemption book. If we were lucky, we got to watch Jack Bailey on “Queen for a Day”. As for “Secret Storm” or “Search for Tomorrow”, we had no idea why anyone would want to watch those soaps. Now at least, there are things worth watching. Today we have more high quality shows than we will ever have the time to view on Netflix, cable TV, HBO, Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sling – and more.

So in the spirit of trying to have some fun and chase away the gloom, here are some TV show recommendations. Hopefully you will get some new ideas, watch the shows and movies you have always wanted to see (maybe again), and share in a discussion here. We would really like to hear from you: what shows do you love? This is also a great time to read a book. We would love to hear your favorite reads as well. One suggestion we enjoyed recently: “Educated” by Tara Westover.

New shows your editor has seen:

HBO just launched the third season of Westworld, a sci-fi western which some critics like a lot better than the first two seasons.

My “Most Brilliant Friend” (Season 2 just launched on HBO) is a little girly but very good. Based on the book by Elena Ferrante.

The best thing your editor has watched lately is “Escape from Dannemora“, based on the amazing real-life NY prison escape from a few years ago. The actors, including Patricia Arquette, are excellent. It is a Hulu show but you can get it on Amazon Prime Video.

Unforgotten” (many seasons on Amazon), and “The Stranger” (Netflix) are also pretty good.

The Crown. The wonderful series chronicling the life and times of Queen Elizabeth 2. Netflix

Big Little Lies – All star cast on HBO headed up by Reese Witherspoon.

Watchmen – Dystopian show on HBO that makes for good TV.

Chernobyl – The nuclear disaster, with parallels to today, at HBO. Excellent acting.

These shows were recommended by some male friends:

Godfather of Harlem on Epix (on demand)
Narcos on Netflix
Homeland on Showtime
Curb your Enthusiasm on HBO

Better Call Saul on Netflix
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime
Ozark on Netflix
Peaky Blinders on Netflix
Fauda on Netflix

Formula One, Drive to Survive on Netflix (2 seasons)

ZeroZeroZero on Amazon. Brutal but good.

Sex Education on Netflix is very funny.

The Tunnel is on Amazon. 

Best Modern Era Classics
We would be curious to see what modern era TV shows Topretirements members believe are the best ever. Let us know your top picks. Here are some contenders that are definitely worth rewatching:

Sopranos – HBO

Breaking Bad – Netflix

The Wire – HBO. Note for watching: There is a lot of inner city dialog which is hard for baby boomer ears to catch. Turn on subtitles and you will get a lot more out of this. Same approach works for British shows.

Atlanta. This is one of the most original shows ever with Donald Glover. 2 seasons, with more on the way. FX and Hulu

The Americans. One of the best premises ever: Russian spies embedded for decades in America end up pals with their next door neighbor, a senior FBI counter espionage agent. Brilliant. FX

British and other foreign country shows:

Prime Suspect – Helen Mirren struggles as a detective on Amazon (multiple seasons).

Line of Duty – Amazon

Hanna – Amazon

Secret City – Australian show on Netflix

Spiral – French woman leads an elite group of detectives in Paris. Very gritty and very good. Hulu and Amazon

Happy Valley. Edgar winner and a great series set in England. Netflix.

These suggestions are just a start of the many great TV shows.

Bottom line. Everyone is entitled to their own tastes. As opposed to the choices here, you might prefer comedies, documentaries, real life shows, or nature programs. Whatever you prefer, please share the shows you think might chase away the coronavirus blues.

For further reading:

Boomers’ Favorite TV Shows from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. (lots of great reader suggestions and memories!)

Your suggestions! Please share your favorite TV shows – current and of all time. What would your top 3 be? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on March 21st, 2020

42 Comments »

  1. Reality TV.
    https://www.pbs.org/video/american-experience-influenza-1918/

    by Peder — March 22, 2020

  2. Yesterday after a long walk, I was able to start the afternoon watching all the episodes of “Victoria” on our local PBS stations. This is an excellent series and begins today again at 9AM until 10:30PM. I love each episode, especially the one where Queen Victoria visited Scotland and the Christmas Special to play at 1PM today.

    Editor’s comment. My wife and I both love that show too. Their romance and the way they work through challenges is very heart-warming.

    by Jennifer — March 22, 2020

  3. I find it fascinating that not one of the recommended shows are from over-the-air network TV. Your recommendations are all cable or streaming shows. Some just can’t afford the cost of cable/satellite and the extras like HBO and Showtime or the charges for high speed internet for streaming. This is especially prevalent in rural areas which are largely being ignored by the FCC and the service providers.

    I read an article yesterday about how the major providers like Netflix, Amazon and others are cutting back their bandwidth to provide only “standard definition” video to enable the huge increase in internet volume due to virus stay-at-homes. At base, that’s good, but for the millions who have already invested in 4k TV, the video quality suffers badly. All those recommended shows are faced with the loss of even HD video quality.

    Editor’s comment. Hi Rich. Yes, it did strike us after we finished this column that all of the choices were non-major networks. Where we live if you don’t have cable you don’t have TV. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are pretty cheap by themselves. HBO and Showtime do cost, so for people on a strict budget it is tough. Unfortunately, a lot of the network shows are often dummed down or just not that interesting, to me anyway. Used to love those classics: All in the Family, Smothers Brothers, Friends, Seinfeld, etc. The Good Wife was a fairly recent and great show. Love to hear your suggestions.

    by RichPB — March 22, 2020

  4. haha…we are all watching the shows from the 50s to the 70s….ya know….Kojack, Columbo, Mr. Ed, The Munsters, Maverick, Gilligans Island, Bonanza, old episodes of Game Shows, Wagon Train, an old rerun of the ’69 World Series (God, it was great !), …there is so much more there than todays “explosions, sex, car chases, dribble”….give me Adam 12, original Saturday Night Live (“70s), and the whole 30 year spectrum…..best of all, they run all day long, it’s free, and my kids never saw them (they just loved F-Troop, My Favorite Martian, and a bunch others…..talk about FAMILY TIME !

    by Uncle al — March 22, 2020

  5. I’m with you Uncle AL! Recently we’ve enjoyed Bob Newhart (the original show), and Mary Tyler Moore. We do watch occasional episodes of other “classics” but some of them do show their age. It’s amazing how often we note that “this could never be made today” due to the unPC comments and even plots they contain. But other than an hour or so of watching TV I’m back online- watched 4 of the Virology sessions form Columbia University (will finish the course), a few free concerts in addition to some youtube concerts, commiserate with friends, family, former colleagues on Facebook (there is no shortage of funny memes related to the virus, toilet paper hoards/shortage, home schools, etc. ) and play online games. I also listen to podcasts on Wondery, IHeartRadio ad Apple. Hubs has been reading books online since the library is closed (and even return the books we had before the lockdown).

    by Jean — March 22, 2020

  6. I’m a fan of British TV series and have subscribed to AcornTV and have accessed BritBox through Amazon Prime membership. So many wonderful shows with detailed plots and character development – especially the mystery or crime series. Plus no commercials! Many filmed in very scenic locations of Wales or Scotland. I don’t mind watching foreign film with subtitles either – Some mysteries filmed in Iceland and I got to see the Northern Lights. Simply beautiful filming locations in addition to a good story.

    Keeping Faith (excellent!)
    Loch Ness – murder mystery
    Vera series
    Shetland series
    Martin Clunes – Man Hunt series
    Martin Clunes – Islands of America (huge fan of this actor from Doc Martin)
    Inspector Lynley mysteries
    Hamish MacBeth series

    Currently watching series ‘A Place to Call Home’ filmed in Australia – wonderful family drama.

    by JoannL — March 22, 2020

  7. Started bingeing “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” last night. Cute and fun. And I’m in love.

    by Peder — March 23, 2020

  8. Hello All:

    I do not have cable TV..at all. I use a high definition antenna that encompasses 50 miles from where I live in NW Washington, DC. The PBS (Public Broadcasting Stations) are free and we have access to several of them.

    “Victoria” was broadcast from Masterpiece Theatre beginning on Saturday and ended Sunday, last night at 10:30PM to get viewers caught up on the series. They ran back to back except for the evening news. In Washington, DC the PBS stations are WETA 26 and WMPT 32. Just check via online your public service stations.

    by Jennifer — March 23, 2020

  9. During the last few years of working, I collected favorite tv shows to watch when I retired (Murder, She Wrote; West Wing; all of the Star Treks; The Man from Uncle; Perry Mason — yes, the whole series; Magnum…and more). I have a large bookcase with all these shrink wrapped new DVDs just waiting for me. What am I actually watching? Don’t judge, please. I am watching Love Island UK & Love Island Australia on Hulu. Love Island is an R/X rated version of “Bachelor in Paradise” — on steroids. (I did turn on subtitles since it took me awhile to pick up the British colloquialisms). Some of the seasons are 35-60 shows long, so that’s a LOT of time to waste, and a lot of brain cells to die. It’s great.

    by Kate — March 23, 2020

  10. Here are some of our favorites. Might give you some new suggestions.

    Peter Gunn ( black & white) Jesse Stone (with Tom Selleck)
    Chuck Midsomer Murders (U.K.- goes on forever)
    Wings (laugh out loud fun) MASH
    Numb3rs (so WELL cast!) Gilmore Girls (Excellent dialogue)
    White Collar (well done) Jack Ryan (intense contemporary intrigue)
    Corner Gas (Canadian) Death in Paradise (Caribbean)
    Republic of Doyle (New Foundland) Hamish Macbeth (low key – amazing scenery)
    Whiskey Cavalier (short but fun) Miranda (U.K. – absurd and fun)
    Murdoch Mysteries/Artful Detective (Canadian)

    …and our Sci Fi favorites:
    Andromeda Firefly (with final movie “Serenity”)
    Babylon 5 Farscape
    Battlestar Galactica (newer version)

    by HEF — March 23, 2020

  11. Good suggestions, Hef and others! I have Hamish McBeth, Mash, Firefly w/Serentiy & Babylon 5 on the bookcase — and 18 seasons of Midsomer Murders to watch, before I got tired of collecting them. It’s a BIG bookcase LOL. I haven’t heard of some of the others, and will definitely look into them too.

    For readers, I’ve noticed that many of my favorite authors are responding to the quarantines by having sales on their Kindle books. I’ve found Bookbub.com to be very helpful in providing alerts on author price-drops, free books & new recommendations, once you start to follow your favorite authors and identify your favorite genres.

    by Kate — March 23, 2020

  12. If some of you have an older PC laying around, instead of having all those DVDs wrapped up or stored in boxes filled up bookcases (like I do). Then you might want to consider downloading PLEX, it’s free and doesn’t take a lot of computer knowledge. It can be a bit trying, but once you’ve got it going or set up. You can store a copy of all your OWNED DVDs (I’m not endorsing piracy!). Of course, you’ll have to rip them from a DVD to a file for storing. Again, the software for PLEX and ripping is free and out there on the web. Plus, lots of YouTube videos on setting up PLEX.

    It’ll put a lot of the ‘free time’ to use for future savings and great use! It’ll also make the DVD bargain bin at the stores a new friend for finding and then loading up to your PLEX machine for future viewing.

    If you’re a geek, like me, I’ve got PLEX hooked up to every set in the house and the kids (when they visit) can watch their shows in one room and we can watch ours in another. PLEX is also listed as an app for many Smart TVs.

    by Mark — March 23, 2020

  13. Dirty Money is on Netflix not amazon prime
    Great documentary everyone should see! It exposes the greed of corporations all around us

    by Ron — March 23, 2020

  14. Thank you so much for giving some ideas to watch while at home.

    by Concrete Jacksonville FL — March 24, 2020

  15. You can watch almost any past show on PBS through the PBS Video App. You only need to contribute at least $60 annually to your local PBS station. You get access to a huge amount of excellent programs through streaming, plus your money goes toward your local PBS station as a charitable contribution that helps keep them going, especially in this difficult time for nonprofit organizations.

    by Clyde — March 24, 2020

  16. Thanks Clyde!
    Great tip for those of us who are already members as well

    by Janet — March 25, 2020

  17. Longmire, on Netflix. A modern day western that was made through six seasons.

    by Steve Herbert — March 25, 2020

  18. My husband and I are binge watching “Homeland” and “Designated Survivor”. For some comedy relief we watch “Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars getting Coffee”. We also like watching “Bill Maher”. Every morning my routine is watching “Live with Kelly & Ryan”, “Rachel Ray” followed by “The View”. The rest of the day “CNN” is on.

    by CAROLE WIGGINS — March 25, 2020

  19. Sorry for my previous list – I tried to make it in two columns but it didn’t post that way.

    Oooo – Loved Longmire!!

    Anyway – just adding a few obscure series that might be of interest, if you’re bored with the status quo. Check with Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) Not sure you can access all of these but some day….

    Charlie Jade ( S. Africa) kind of science fiction intrique as he jumps between 3 parallel universes
    Absolutely Fabulous (U.K.) aging rockers – absurdly funny
    Blandings (U.K.) Low key, funny family on old estate (with Jennifer Saunders)
    Blackadder (U.K.) early Rowan Atkinson – before Mr. Bean
    Jeeves & Wooster (U.K.) early Hugh Laurie – before House
    Dr. Blake Mysteries (Australia) 1950’s medicine
    Early Edition (US) period Sci Fi – what if you had tomorrow’s news, today?
    The Musketeers (U.K. 2014) Love a good costumey swashbuckler!
    Dresden Files (Canada) P.I. and a wizard
    Brother Cadfael (Welsh) Returned from the Crusades, monk solves murders

    A few good ones that never made it very far:

    Endgame (Canada) 2011 – chess master can’t leave the hotel
    Rubicon (US) 2010 – Intelligence analyst looks for puzzles to predict crimes

    Just for fun – compare these versions of the same series:

    The Bridge (Danish/Swedish) 2011 – dead body straddles the border, on the bridge, between two countries – everyone has to work together.
    The Tunnel (English/French) 2013 – dead body straddles the border in the tunnel
    The Bridge (US/Mexico) 2013 –
    The Bridge (Malaysia/Singapore) 2018 –

    by HEF — March 25, 2020

  20. Britbox and Acorn are both inexpensive and have so many “gentle” murder mystery series and other great shows. Order these British providers through Amazon. I watch Britbox more than any other provider. Love it.

    by Elaine C. — March 25, 2020

  21. Hell on Wheels-Netflix
    Breaking Bad-Netflex

    by Louise — March 26, 2020

  22. Heartland, clean, all ages, all 13 seasons on up faith & family through Prime. Worth every penny, I think its $5 added to prime,

    Hart of Dixie, White Collar is pretty fun.

    by leanne smith — March 26, 2020

  23. Beyond TV and movies, there are a lot of other great ways to entertain yourself. Some of them can be done in groups, which is a great way to beat the isolation that so many of us feel.

    Below is a link to a course offered at Yale that is available to the public with no charge. It is reputed to be the most popular course ever offered at Yale and is titled “ The science of well being “ . The course is offered through a company “ Coursera” and at first it looks like there might be a fee involved but that is only if you want a certificate. I just started the course and can see it has the potential to be thought provoking and timely ! Just an idea that might help all of us homebound. As an added bonus I am hoping given its affiliation with Yale I might be able to try out for the Yale golf team !!

    https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

    Second is a site that I came across in an attempt to play chess with my grandson in California, we have a great time playing at our “beach house” in California but given the early departure and everyone being homebound I searched for a way to play “live” on line and came across with this great site chess.com. Players need to register to be able to find each other but it is easy to do and also can be done with no charge. I am struggling to stay competitive with Tanner so I need to hit the practice range for chess ! The picture below was from a game Tanner was playing yesterday with one of his buddies. The trick is to have one device for the game and another to FaceTime so you can see each other and of course have “ chess trash talk” that I am finding is as much as a part of the game of chess as it is in golf ( with acknowledgement to the ” no one is better at it “ than Judge Clifford !)

    https://www.chess.com

    PS from your Editor: For people who love bridge or who want to learn how, http://www.bridgebase.com is a great site. You can play by yourself (more fun than you would think), you can set up a game with friends, join other games with people you don’t even know, or learn how to play. It is a great site.

    by Frank — April 5, 2020

  24. Stuck at Home seems to be so negative! How many mornings I woke up when I was working and wished I didn’t have to go to work and could stay home. Some work days were canceled due to snow and it was like winning the lotto! We spend a good part of our lives paying our mortgage to have a house we love and then we have to think of it a being Stuck at Home? Maybe the title should be Finding Joy Staying Home or The Joy of Staying Home!

    Besides TV shows/movies I have played Scrabble, Spider Solitaire and Checkers, on line playing against the computer. All the games require a lot of thinking to beat your opponent (the computer).

    YouTube has lots of interesting subject matter and can teach you how to do things like canning, making bread, making yogurt, making gourmet meals, sewing, knitting, gardening, hobby things.

    by Louise — April 6, 2020

  25. Speaking of alternatives, I have been spending an hour or two daily learning Spanish. Duolingo is free if you choose and is remarkably effective at helping you to think, talk and write in your chosen language. It has many language choices.

    by RichPB — April 6, 2020

  26. One of my favorite sites is Open Culture. http://www.openculture.com You can find lectures, free books, classic movies, audio books, etc.

    by Marcia — April 6, 2020

  27. I like PORT PROTECTION Tuesday nites starting at 7 for 2 hours. A&E

    Takes place in Alaska, a reality show, older citizens “On the Grid”. “Below Zero” is also good and on
    right after Port Protection.

    by joyce colfer — April 8, 2020

  28. Thanks Joyce. I’ll try it today!

    by Kate — April 9, 2020

  29. If you are history or bible fan there is a great series of lectures on the origins of the genesis book of the Bible on Amazon Prime by Dr David Norman. Start with a search for garden of eden! Six lectures

    by Ron — April 9, 2020

  30. Watch Dirty Money on Netflix it exposes a series of investigations into crimes some IOC which affect scams on senior citizens etc! Really important crime shows

    by Ron — April 9, 2020

  31. Your Alaska shows are a favorite here as well, along with the Last Alaskans.

    by Dick Lugar — April 9, 2020

  32. Love this enthusiasm for cold climate mysteries. This one from Iceland is highly rated and I loved it too:
    Trapped on Amazon Prime

    by Admin — April 10, 2020

  33. Andrea Bocelli will be singing on Easter from the Milan Cathedral, in Milan Italy. It will be on his YouTube Channel.

    In addition the Washington National Cathedral will have Good Friday Services at noon today online and Easter Services on Sunday at 11:00AM. The website is: Cathedral.org. We had 14,000 viewers last Sunday. All are welcome. The Washington National Cathedral is Episcopal by denomination however it is a House of Prayer for all faiths.

    by Jennifer Lee — April 10, 2020

  34. And don’t forget the original cold climate tv show…Northern Exposure. The boxset is available on DVD and if lucky, it sometimes shows up used with a low price on Ebay etc.

    by Kate — April 10, 2020

  35. If Easter had occurred in 2016 and in New Orleans, it may have been like the video my wife & I enjoyed last night. It is called “The Passion New Orleans 2016” :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp8_95gNcko

    Tyler Perry narrates and is full of pop music and entertainers.

    by hcbury — April 10, 2020

  36. I just binge watched Season 1 of “The World on Fire” on PBS. It is a captivating and very well acted drama which takes place in Europe during WW2. I highly recommend it, but warning, it ends in a cliff hanger, indicating another season is sure to come.

    by Maimi — April 10, 2020

  37. Maimi- I live in Rhode Island and also watched it. Thought it was excellent!

    by Barb — April 10, 2020

  38. Barb, now I am eagerly awaiting Season 2, which I read has been delayed due to the pandemic. The way my memory is lately, I will have to watch Season 1 again by the time the next season comes out next year. I hope that you are staying in and staying well during this madness!

    by Maimi — April 10, 2020

  39. Maimi-

    I am just getting season 1 as I don’t have PBS Passport so I must be satisfied with one week at a time. Same with Call the Midwife. But we t does give me something to look forward to! Stay safe everyone!

    by Barb — April 11, 2020

  40. Available on Amazon Prime:

    Trapped – filmed in Iceland – Excellent
    Fortitude – also filmed in Iceland mystery series (some R scenes)
    The Missing – series
    Redwood Highway
    DCI Banks – series
    Endeavour – series
    Scott and Bailey – series

    by JoannL — April 11, 2020

  41. Here’s another vote for Trapped. An interesting show, most of which is in Icelandic, but there are some English lines. Still, you have to read the subtitles for most of it. I think you see snow/ice in every episode, so if that may trigger a bad response in you (not sure if that’s even a thing), then probably best not to watch it.

    Another cold climate show, available on Netflix, is Occupied. It’s a Norwegian show. The premise is that Norway is planning on stopping all oil production and switching to green energy. Well, the Russians take exception to that and take over the oil refineries in the north of the country. There’s three seasons, but I haven’t watched the third yet. Much like Trapped, there’s a bit that’s in English, but it’s mostly subtitles.

    If you’re a comedy fan, and enjoy British shows, try Friday Night Dinner on Amazon Prime. An excellent show that is pretty much unknown here in the States. Same for Coupling, although that’s a bit better known. I always say Coupling is what Friends could have, and should have, been. There’s only 28 episodes in the series, so it’s not a huge investment. It’s worth it just for the Jeff Murdoch character.

    by Chuck — April 11, 2020

  42. Ozark on Netflix. Tiger King also on Netflix is a must see.

    by loralee — April 11, 2020

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