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Off TopicApr 6, 2020 10:00 am CT

Tired of games? Distract yourself during the quarantine with these 8 TV shows and podcasts

I’m sure that we’ve all been there before — there comes a time where you’ve done all the World Quests you can handle in World of Warcraft. You’ve stabbed more than your fair share of butts in Assassins Creed. Or even — heaven forbid — crossed as many animals as you could in Animal Crossing. We’ve gotten recommendations for alternatives from Anna, Rossi, and even one of our newest writers Andrew! They’re all great, and I’ve definitely picked up a few new games to put on my wish list. But if you’ve reached the point that you’re just tired of gaming — maybe you’d like some suggestions from outside the sphere of gaming for how to stop yourself from succumbing to cabin fever.

So here’s a little list of some of the things that I’ve watched and listened to over the last few weeks.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a Netflix series about a young girl named Kipo — she’s lost in the ruins of a post-apocalypse Earth and trying to find her way back to her father. Along the way, she meets up with a mysterious warrior, an aspiring DJ, and his best friend — a  talking bug. It tells a great story about always doing the right thing, even if it’s hard, and learning to accept yourself and your friends the way you and they are.

The show is flat-out gorgeous. Somehow it found a way to pack more color into every scene than I thought possible. The creatures and denizens of the ruined surface are where the show really shines. Kipo has to contend with everything from gangster frogs, rock and roll rattlesnakes, and mega bunnies the size of strip malls.

But the true standouts are the Timber Cats. Giant lumberjack cats who carve trees with their claws, play guitar, and sing while eating flapjacks. Eagle eared listeners might even recognize the voice of their leader Yumyan Hammerpaw as none of than Steve Blum, who you might remember as Zoltan Kulle in Diablo or Anub’arak in Warcraft. Kipo is packed with great voice actors like him and is a great show to sit down with the family and watch.


Have you ever wondered whether or not there was a secret project with world-changing ramifications being worked on at Google or Microsoft? Alex Garland has. You may recognize his name from the movies Ex Machina or Annihilation, and if you do you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re getting yourself into. Alex Garland likes to look at how technology can isolate us, or explore the nature of chaos and change. Devs is taking a different outlook and argues that everything is predetermined and that nothing we do matters because of that.

Nick Offerman is the founder of tech company Amaya, and when he recruits Sergei onto the secretive Dev team puts in motion an intricately plotted Rube Goldberg machine of twists and turns as Sergei’s girlfriend tries to piece together why he disappeared. Offerman is outstanding in this — I’ve never seen him in a role so nuanced before. He’s capable of switching between implacable and menacing one moment, to warm and caring the next at a drop of the hat.

Devs is still in the middle of airing, so I don’t know how it ends — yet. But I know that I can’t wait to see how this mystery all unfolds.

Battlestar Galactica

Did you know that if you’re in the United States you can watch all of Battlestar Galactica for free(!) right now on the SyFy website? This is the perfect opportunity to take a trip on the Galactica again. Four of some of the best seasons of tense, well-plotted science fiction.

Just thinking about the series as a whole I can rattle off several of the major milestone moments that helped to define it as one of the greats.  I’ve been working my way through from the beginning, and just got to the confrontation between the Galactica and the Pegasus. I’d forgotten how much the music in that scene gives me chills. I can’t wait to get further in and see everything with New Caprica and the final six all over again.

So say we all!

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn is having a — well deserved — moment right now in pop culture. Her self-titled DC Universe streaming show, Harley Quinn is a riot of supervillain hijinx. Fresh off of a breakup with the Joker, ably voiced by Alan Tudyk, the show follows Harley as she tries to figure out what kind of villain she wants to be. Tons of your favorite DC characters make an appearance over the course of the first season, and the second season just started on April third!

The show has some amazing comedic timing. Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell are both giving fantastic performances as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Giving them a very believable relationship that feels lived in and comfortable like a nice pair of pajama pants. There are murderous fairy tale creatures, giant trees, and Commissioner Gordon like you’ve never seen him before. One warning, the show is definitely not aimed at younger audiences, so maybe check out the trailer first before you sit down and watch.

The Magicians

I’ve heard The Magicians described as Harry Potter + The Chronicles of Narnia + Adult Situations, and while that’s accurate — the show feels like so much more than the sum of those parts. It’s got all of the standard parts for a hero’s journey; reluctant badasses, the overachieving know-it-all, the too cool for school tag-along, and the guy who’s just in way over his head but he’s really trying to do the right thing. But with some amazing work on the character development front, they’re all allowed to grow and mature over the five-season run of the show. I went back and watched the first episode of the show, and the characters are all night and day different from where they started to where they ended.

The Magicians manages to hit almost every fantasy sci-fi show trope and still manages to make each of them its own. There are musical episodes, there’s a groundhog day episode, multiple timelines, and twists and turns, and somehow it always felt fresh and exciting. Because of The Magicians, I’ll never be able to hear the song “Take on Me” the same way again. The series finale just aired recently, and while I would’ve happily watched another ten seasons of the show, I do feel like the ending was a good one.


I loved Picard. Seeing Sir Patrick Stewart take on the role again was amazing. I’m a little sad that we didn’t just get the version of the show where Picard solves small-town mysteries around his vineyard, but what we did get was still really good. The new cast was fun, the returning guest stars from Star Trek shows past were stupendous, the effects were great, and I loved that we got to have some closure for Data after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. Overall I felt the story was pretty solid — not mind-blowing, but definitely watchable.

Why I’m recommending this now is because of how the show made me feel. I grew up watching the Star Trek: The Next Generation, so this was a very welcome return to characters that I’ve known for thirty years. It’s a little unfair to the new cast members how much I loved seeing Picard spending time with his old crew. His interactions with Raffi are hilarious and they have great chemistry, but they’re just not as good as when he gets to spend time with Riker again. This was the perfect thing to watch in a nice cozy blanket right now.

Girl in Space

Wryly funny, and touching all at once — Girl in Space is a podcast about, well, a girl. In space. X is the last surviving member of the deep space research vessel Cavatica. She spends her days doing scientific experiments and watching one of the greatest movies of all time: Jurassic Park. When she accidentally summons a fleet of hostile corporate ships X’s world is thrown upside down, and she winds up inciting a mutiny and learning more about her own past.

X is a wonderful character, she’s funny, smart, brave, and can make a mean cup of coffee. She’s the perfect protagonist to look up to during this quarantine. The rest of the supporting cast has everything you could want in a sci-fi show. Malfunctioning androids, cyborgs, evil corporate bosses, and even unpaid interns. All of the new characters slot neatly into the show and build it out wonderfully. For some reason, the themes of sticking it to the man, and maybe capitalism isn’t that great really resonate a little stronger today than they did before. If you want a little positivity and cheesy jokes — some of which are even about cheese — while you’re washing the dishes or taking your dog for a walk I can’t recommend this enough.

The first season of the podcast has 13 episodes and there is a second season coming. You can listen through Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

The White Vault

I love a good horror podcast. There’s something about the intimacy of a podcast, combined with things that go bump in the night that really can get my heart racing. I’ve even given myself nightmares before by listening too close to bedtime, that’s when I know that I’ve found a really great one. The White Vault is one of those really great ones.

The White Vault follows a team of scientists who’ve been dispatched to the cold frozen tundra of Norway. They’re in charge of repairing a scientific relay station, but while they’re there they stumble on some hidden ruins below the ice. What follows is a slow build of terror as their options for escape dwindle as a gigantic blizzard rages outside, and a strange creature stalks them from the caves.

I love it when horror is set somewhere cold and isolated. Movies like The Thing and 30 Days of Night can use the environment in different ways than you find in your standard abandoned hospital or the urban jungle. The White Vault realizes this too, taking full advantage of whiteout conditions and the elements to push its characters to the limit. The team is made up of scientists and engineers from around the world, and they’ve recorded them all talking in their native languages, with English over top. It’s a wonderful way to show the diversity of the characters while still making it easy for us to understand them. The best touch is that everyone behaves like the capable individuals they are. There’s no random call to split up or someone making a stupid decision to try and go it alone, they act like people and that helps to sell the stakes of their situation. It’s easy to put yourself in their shoes and realize that if these highly trained individuals can’t make things go their way — what chance would you have.

There are three seasons of The White Vault available right now, with more on the way. You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

What have you been watching? I’m always looking for more shows to watch, and it looks like I’ll still have plenty of time to in the coming weeks.

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