Here’s What Jon Hein Is Watching on TV
Stern Show's resident TV expert offers up some recommendations for what's worth binge-watching right now on televisionMarch 16, 2020
Stern Show staffer and noted TV expert Jon Hein has put together an extensive list of what he’s been watching on television lately. Check out his full list of recommendations, where to watch them, and what he has to say about each series (below).
ALL-TIME TV CLASSICS WORTH A REWATCH
“Breaking Bad” (NETFLIX)
Vince Gilligan brilliantly immerses you in the Southwest world of Walter White. Award-winning performances from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul lead the magnificent cast. The storytelling improves as the series progresses to a satisfying finale. Must see TV.
“The Wire” (HBO GO)
Phenomenal characters and a grim portrait of life on the Baltimore streets. No one is all good, and no one is all bad. All five seasons provide a different setting, but it’s all in the game. This is my top drama of all time.
“The Sopranos” (HBO GO)
Creator David Chase once said the show was about people lying to themselves and the mess it creates. Well, Tony Soprano makes quite a mess and it’s much more than a simple Jersey mob story. Psychiatry, family, mafia – it’s all here.
“Mad Men” (NETFLIX)
Don Draper is quite the character, and you really get to know him during this show’s seven seasons. All about advertising and the American dream, “Mad Men” is funny, poignant, and somewhat dark. The pace is methodical but well worth the trip and the ensemble cast is one of the best ever assembled.
“Game of Thrones” (HBO GO)
If you never made time to get lost in the seven kingdoms, just follow the map at the start of each episode. There’s a good amount of fantasy, but “Thrones” feels more like a historical epic … with dragons. Don’t skip the opening credits and enjoy your trip to Westeros.
It starts with one of the best pilots ever shot and ends, well, let’s just say it ends. The mystery of Oceanic Flight 815 takes you to some places you’d never expect, and the creative storytelling techniques are very entertaining. You’ll have to go back.
Not sure why this British import doesn’t get the love it deserves. Benedict Cumberbatch charms the world as the famous sleuth who just can’t fit into society. Great bad guys, too, especially Moriarty (who you can see as a lovable priest in “Fleabag”). Four seasons of 90-minute episodes prove to be quite satisfying.
CURRENT SHOWS TIED TO THE PAST
“Better Call Saul” (NETFLIX/AMC)
This “Breaking Bad” prequel is based on the life of Walt and Jesse’s sleazy lawyer, Saul Goodman. Great to see the origin of some of your favorite “Breaking Bad” characters, but Jimmy McGill’s saga includes new folks and takes some surprising turns. Currently one of the best shows on television.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO GO)
Start from Season 1 back in 2000 and watch Larry evolve/devolve over time. Tons of awkwardness and laughter, plus the “Seinfeld” reunion/finale you always hoped for.
I’m reaching with the tie-in to the Coen Brothers’ classic film from 1996, but the first three seasons just have that classic feel. The cast and time period changes every season, but the quirky drama remains consistent. Season 4 starts in April and I cannot wait.
BUT I NEED SOME NEW STUFF
“Better Things” (HULU/FX)
Had the pleasure of interviewing Pamela Adlon a couple of years ago and she just wants to make good TV. She does. Get to know Sam Fox and her family in this unique dramedy. Not your typical show.
“Schitt’s Creek” (NETFLIX/POP)
A charming comedy that gets better as it ages. I’ve loved Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara since their “SCTV” days. Dan Levy and Annie Murphy complete the Rose family and the locals make them feel right at home. Very sweet and very funny.
“Killing Eve” (HULU/BBC AMERICA)
Great first season, pretty good second season. Sandra Oh gets the award hype but Jodie Comer is the one to watch as Villanelle. Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s other show, “Fleabag,” is worth the watch as well – especially the second season.
CLASSIC MOVIE BONUS
“The Shawshank Redemption” (NETFLIX)
Spotted this classic scrolling through Netflix and I had to watch. Morgan Freeman is the voice, but I forgot how good Tim Robbins acts in this film. The prison warden (Bob Gunton) is a top 10 all-time bad guy. Fantastic rewatch that I could not recommend more strongly.
WHAT I’VE RECENTLY WATCHED
“Westworld” (HBO GO) – Season 3, Episode 1.
I missed the park. Evan Rachel Wood looks incredible. Aaron Paul is an incredible actor. Singapore looks incredibly cool. I am incredibly confused. The tech is great and I’m along for the ride, but I’m not sure who I’m rooting for here exactly. Careful here –as “Heroes” and other shows have learned, if everyone has powers, there are no superheroes. Hope the mystery unfolds into something compelling. Looking forward to seeing Ed Harris again. I think.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO GO)
Can’t get enough Mocha Joe.
“The Outsider” (HBO GO)
Speaking of Stephen King book adaptations, this one stayed pretty true to the source material and was gripping all the way through. It’s a slow burn, but the great cast and compelling visuals more than make up for the pacing. I’m looking for El Cuco under my bed.
“Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” (FREEFORM/HULU)
This was an Alan Sepinwall (my favorite TV critic) recommendation and it’s … okay. Feels like a dark Disney Channel show. A dad has terminal cancer and wants to make his Australian son the guardian of his two high school daughters, one of whom is autistic. I checked out the pilot and the daughters’ performances might bring me back, or not. If you’re looking for a great show featuring an autistic child, try “Atypical” on Netflix, which co-stars my pal Michael Rapaport.
“Cuomo Prime Time” (CNN)
I never watched until this past week when I stumbled upon my wife watching it. I like Cuomo’s passion and desire to get to the bottom of things. Love when his older brother comes on and shoots straight. When it’s informative, it’s good TV. When there’s too much opinion, it feels like any other show on a cable news network. Love his enthusiasm though – we need that now.
LOTS MORE OUT THERE
Hopefully this list gets you started, but if you’re looking for more there’s plenty to choose from, I’ll tweet what I’m watching to keep things fresh.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. And enjoy the shows.