Watching: What You Should Watch This Week

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Finally, a brilliant home-design show.
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Monday, April 17, 2017

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Margaret Lyons

Margaret Lyons

Dear Watchers,
This weekend I fell down the rabbit hole of domino videos on YouTube, prompted by a new record (apparently) for longest “domino line.” Then, of course, I discovered a seemingly endless trove of even more enthralling setups. After the finale of “Girls,” I really did need to soothe my mind.
If you’re looking for your own new obsession, we have hundreds of suggestions over at the Watching website. We’re always adding new recommendations, and we recently added one of my favorite shows ever, “Pushing Daisies.” If you like romance, whimsy, pie, or all three, try it.
Have a great week.
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Women harvesting basmati rice in northern India, in a scene from
Women harvesting basmati rice in northern India, in a scene from “Seeds.” Collective Eye Films, via PBS
Monday
‘Seed: The Untold Story’
When to watch:
10 p.m., PBS (Check Local Listings)
Save it to your Watchlist.
The first half of this documentary is an interesting and enjoyable iteration of the “these people are fanatical about something I am unaware of” genre. (In this case, it’s seed libraries and activism around the preservation of plant varieties.) The second half, unfortunately, drifts toward the generic. Also of note, though, are the lovely interstitial animations and the art direction in general — dreamy and quirky and sometimes cute, with a style of stop-motion animation that’s almost “Sesame Street”-like.
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John Singleton in
John Singleton in “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later.” A&E
Tuesday
‘L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later’
When to watch:
9 p.m., A&E
If you watched “O.J.: Made In America” and wanted more about the L.A. riots, which occurred 25 years ago this month, this documentary is for you. In fact there are five documentaries about the riots showing in the next week and change. This one is solid, affecting and effective — focused, rather than sprawling.
Also Tuesday:Pretty Little Liars” is back at 8 p.m. on Freeform for its final 10 episodes. Back in the day, this was a fun and bold thriller, but I admit to having lost track of it somewhere around Season 4, when it became clear the show was simply never going to solve anything.
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From left, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and David Thewlis in
From left, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and David Thewlis in “Fargo.” Chris Large/FX
Wednesday
‘Fargo’
When to watch:
10 p.m., FX (Season Premiere)
Save it to your Watchlist.
This oddball anthology series from FX is back for a third season. This time it’s set in 2010 and stars Ewan McGregor in dual roles as Emmit and Ray Stussy, rival brothers who are both, of course, overly involved in society’s dark, seedy side. As in the other seasons, a set of ominous coincidences sets off a deadly chain reaction that ensnares small-town law enforcement (this season it’s Carrie Coon, also currently starring on “The Leftovers“) and small-time criminals (like the parolee played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
“Fargo” has a stunningly elaborate soundscape. The first episode alone features more kinds of sounds made only by paper than any show in living memory: rustling, crumpling, blowing away, shivering; the sound of rifling through a pile, the sound of shuffling cards, the sound of pulling paper out of one’s pocket.  
The character names are almost Dickensian — Gloria Burgle, the cop! Nikki Swango, the temptress! — and the wigs and costume design walk right up to the line of satire. Everything on “Fargo” is slightly askew, which can sometimes have a dampening effect, making its characters feel slightly flat and remote.
Watching “Fargo” reminds me of watching calligraphy videos, with sweeping curlicues and gorgeous, effortless loops. It’s beautiful, hypnotic, artful, but still sometimes hard to read.
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Kevin McCloud in
Kevin McCloud in “Grand Designs.” Channel 4, via Netflix
Thursday
‘Grand Designs’
When to watch:
Now, on Netflix
Save it to your Watchlist.
There are 17 seasons of “Grand Designs” in Britain, but American viewers will have to be satisfied with the two now available on Netflix. Hey, it’s a start. “Grand Designs” is the rare home design and real estate show that is not fundamentally contrived, stupid, or contrived and stupid. (I say this as a “Trading Spaces” obsessive. I don’t judge your “House Hunters” love, but I see a better path for us both.)
This show follows people embarking on elaborate construction plans for wildly interesting homes — some that radiate “nightmarishly impractical idea” from the get-go, some fascinating and beautiful, some eventual money pits thanks to rotten luck. The house design is always interesting, and the host, Kevin McCloud, is more probing than perky, unlike his HGTV colleagues.
Sunday’s Recaps and Reviews
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Luis Gnecco and Mercedes Morán in
Luis Gnecco and Mercedes Morán in “Neruda.” The Orchard
Rent This Meta-Biopic About One of South America’s Most Influential Poets
Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo

‘Neruda’
Where to watch: Rent it from AmazoniTunes and other platforms.
Save it to your Watchlist.
After insulting Chile’s president, the senator and poet Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) is forced into hiding. Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal), an ambitious investigator, is assigned to track down the fugitive, setting the two men on a path to discovering they are more alike than different.
This was director Pablo Larraín’s second biopic last year (he also released the Oscar-nominated “Jackie”). But this film is not as straightforward as “Jackie” — and “Jackie” is pretty out there for a biopic. “Neruda” channels the influence of its titular artist and portrays the investigator with due complexity; he’s sympathetic, not villainous. The movie, on the whole, is just as complex: playful and tragic, suspenseful even when we know historically what’s going to happen.
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