Daily Maverick

This Weekend We’re Watching: King Lear, Oz and Stephen Fry in America

PHOTO: King Lear Promotional

A throwback to when TV wasn’t created for bingeing, a good dose of Stephen Fry and Anthony Hopkins losing the plot.

We were going to write this introductory paragraph in some pretentious Shakespearian language, but that’s far too difficult for a weekend. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some of it over the weekend. This is what we’re watching.

King Lear

Anthony Hopkins as an old man going mad, what more do you want? If the forced reading of Shakespeare back in high school left you traumatised, don’t be alarmed.

Shakespeare was written to be watched, not read. And while the language can be a bit hard to follow, you’ll get the general thread. Story telling feels somewhat fragmented at times, but in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.

This movie is about far more about the acting and the costumes. Shout out to the actors who spend almost two hours speaking a near outdated version of English and making it look completely normal.

Oz

We know, it’s old. But hear us out. If you haven’t watched Oz, and even if you have, it’s worth putting it on your list. First broadcast in 1997, the prison drama revolutionised television and created the blueprint for every hour-long show you’re watching these days. While The Sopranos is often credited with changing the template for main characters, Oz was at the forefront of the changing TV landscape.

Like all good HBO shows from back in the day, it’s not really made for bingeing. You could try to cram it all in if you want, but in a time where it’s far too easy to waste hours of your life down a streaming service wormhole, it’s sometimes nice to have something better digested in small chunks.

The themes explored in the show remain relevant to this day. Which either says a lot about the show’s brilliance or is a damning indictment of the system.

Disappointingly, while both The Wire and The Sopranos are available on Showmax’s HBO selection, for Oz you’ll have to dust off the DVD player

Stephen Fry in America

An oldie, but a goodie. The docu-series is a decade old, but it’s still a delight. How can it not be when it stars dearly beloved Stephen Fry? The six-part series takes him all across the United States, in a London cab, exploring an array of themes.

Fry’s mischievous and charming demeanour is what makes it compelling viewing. Also impressive is that he manages to cram a visit to each of the 50 states into just six episodes.

That does come with its downsides, though. It sometimes feels like not enough time is given to deeper into some of the poignant issues Fry comes across.

Even less serious issues are often glossed over because of time constraints. In one scene, as Fry is driving through Delaware, he quips: “What can one say about Delaware?”

He doesn’t say much, because he drives out of it before the sentence is even done. Maybe that says something about the place. But, at times, it feels like the more nuanced nuggets just didn’t get enough love.

But it’s Stephen Fry. He’s a comedian and an actor. Not an investigative journalist. And if you want something to ease you through the weekend, you can’t go too wrong with this.

Available on Netflix

Video of the Week: We Visit LA’s Underground Puppet Sex Club

This is not your childhood puppet show. Join Anthony Carboni as he plunges into the depths of puppet-based depravity. (Note: Weird footage ahead. Possibly. It’s difficult to explain.)

Quick Hits

Rugby Championship, Vuelta Espana and the US Open provide your sporting delights this weekend. DM

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