Our Favorite Underrated Stuff (Pt. 2)
A couple weeks ago, Dennis Burger kicked off this new section of The Rayva Roundtable, in which we talk about some of our favorite underrated stuff. That stuff could be movies, TV shows, bands, albums, games, gadgets—you name it.
I’m going to start by seconding one of Dennis’s picks. Sports Night is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I’m compelled to revisit it every few years. Yes, Aaron Sorkin’s writing is exceptional, but so is the acting. The show jumpstarted or reinvigorated the careers of great actors like Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause, Josh Charles, and Robert Guillaume. This one is so underrated, it never even made it to Blu-ray, but the complete series (OK, it was only two seasons) is available on DVD. Or you can watch it an episode at a time on iTunes or Amazon.
If you only think of BBC America as the channel that gave us the gorgeous Planet Earth series, you should take a closer look at some of the great content this network serves up. It’s hard to say if Orphan Black officially belongs in the underrated category—I mean, it received a lot of critical acclaim and earned lead actress Tatiana Maslany a much-deserved Emmy, yet I personally know few people who actually watched it. The show follows Sarah Manning, who discovers by a twist of fate that she is a clone and gets caught up in a suspenseful cat-and-mouse adventure that grows broader with each season. Orphan Black wrapped things up last year after five seasons, all of which are available on Blu-ray, or you can stream Seasons 1-4 through Prime Video.
This one may fall in the “too obscure” category, but I was heartbroken when AMC’s Rubicon was cancelled after just 13 episodes back in 2010. The premiere episode scored high ratings for AMC, but the audience quickly dwindled. The story—about an intelligence analyst who begins to suspect that major world events are being manipulated by some type of shadow agency—is definitely of the slow-burn suspense ilk. I guess the burn was too slow for most people, but I found it to be thoroughly addictive. The only place I can even find the show now is on Daily Motion.
Way back in 1995, I fell in love with a little independent film called Kicking & Screaming—not to be confused with the 2005 Will Ferrell soccer comedy of the same name. I was a couple years out of college and headed nowhere in particular, so this delightful comedy about a group of college graduates who are more than a bit reluctant to begin their journeys into the real world certainly spoke to me. I still quote this movie way more than I should. One of those indie talkies that were so popular in the 1990s, Kicking & Screaming was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, probably best known for his collaborations with Wes Anderson (like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr. Fox). You can find it on Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services.
A couple years ago, Baumbach wrote and directed another underrated film called While We’re Young, starring Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. Roughly 20 years after his college tale, Baumbach now explores what it means to be middle aged, in the same quirky, funny, dialogue-driven manner that won my heart all those years ago.
Adrienne Maxwell has been writing about the home theater industry for longer
than she’s willing to admit. She is currently the managing editor and video specialist
at HomeTheaterReview.com. Adrienne lives in Colorado, where she spends far too
much time looking at the Rockies and not nearly enough time being in them.