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Stream, Don't Steam: Holiday Weekend Watches For Your Lazy Bones

May 26, 2018

It's Memorial Day weekend. Perhaps you're grilling some burgers or taking a dip in the pool. Perhaps you're strolling on a beach or taking a quick trip out of town and staying in a hotel for a couple of days just so you don't have to make your own bed.

But perhaps you're having a three-day "staycation," as the travel-budget-conscious call it. Or it's raining outside. Or your relatives are thronging on the deck and all you want is some peace. Or, of course, maybe you want to use your holiday weekend to allow yourself the time you never find to just watch something on TV and not think about much of anything. If that's the case, we've got five things you can try that are streaming in various places. These are only tiny tastes! Only samples! Just some things to try! Alongside them, you will find more than you could watch in thousands of holiday weekends, so happy hunting.

Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest of Your Life (Netflix): Steve Martin and Martin Short are old hands at comedy and at working together. This comedy special has the advantage of being one that even might work for a multi-generational crowd (kids will find it corny, but they may well laugh anyway). It's really just the two of them goofing around and doing shtick and interviewing each other for about 73 minutes. It is aggressively affable and very broad, and sometimes that's just what you need.

Barry (HBO): If you haven't caught the dark HBO comedy-drama starring Bill Hader as a hit man, and if your tastes for a binge run to the bloody, this is a great choice, and now that it's concluded its eight-episode run, you can catch it all at once if you have HBO. More of my thoughts on it here, but it's well worth your time.

Columbus (Hulu): John Cho, once better known for comedy, stars in this film about a student and the son of an architecture professor who meet in Columbus, Ind., and spend time talking and wandering around the town's famous modern architecture. If you like the looseness of the Before Sunrise movies but can accept somewhat more melancholy and less romance, you might enjoy this sleeper.

His Girl Friday (FilmStruck): While it's true that this 1940 classic from Howard Hawks is a good watch any time, the real reason for including it is to remind you that there's more to finding the right streaming service than the three giants (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu) and the big cable networks. FilmStruck is a specialty offering for a lot of classic and foreign films, including some from the Criterion Collection. Even if individual films are available elsewhere (as His Girl Friday is), a cinephile will probably have a higher hit rate on FilmStruck than by wading through the biggest oceans.

The Amazing Race (Amazon Prime): I thought hard about this one. This is the first show I wrote about on the Internet (!!). It premiered on CBS just days before Sept. 11, 2001 changed a lot of things about international travel for Americans. These days, it's got a lot of gimmicks that make it more "grabby," but for my money, its best seasons are the first three odd numbers: one, three and five. The first one is experimental, messy, a little unformed, and full of contestants who don't know what to expect; I enjoy that. The third one has some tremendously appealing teams and one controversy magnet of the kind who isn't really villainous. The fifth one has, for my money, the most eye-popping meltdown in reality television history. If you're looking for a good old couch binge with some incredibly low stakes and some people to root for and against, give it a shot.

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