During this time of social isolation, we’ll be offering weekly recommendations to help put you in an upbeat mood. (In case you missed it, here's last week's list.)
“Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert”
Friday was supposed to be the day they opened their gates to 75,000 fans. Now it’s the day that Coachella festival organizers are unlocking their new YouTube Originals-produced documentary for free viewing online. The movie’s trailer suggests a smattering of aggrandizing sound bites alongside a ton of dazzling footage from legendary sets by Beyoncé, Madonna, Radiohead, N.W.A. and even a hologram Tupac. Looks like no Prince, though. YouTube
“Goodnight With Dolly”
Kiddies may not appreciate the wonders of “Jolene,” but they’re sure to be dazzled by Dolly Parton’s version of babysitting. Each week, the country-music legend is reading a different bedtime story, using her singsong voice to make classics like “The Little Engine That Could” come alive. Youngsters having trouble going to sleep will find some comfort. So will you. imaginationlibrary.com
Andrea Bocelli for Easter
It’s one tenor and a pipe organ for Easter. Classical/pop superstar Bocelli will give a solo performance at Milan’s Duomo, accompanied by organist Emanuele Vianelli. “Music for Hope” will include “Ave Maria” and Mascagni’s “Sancta Maria.” The cathedral will not have any worshipers. Noon Sunday and anytime thereafter at youtube/huTUOek4LgU
What drives humans? From an individual’s everyday decisions to long-term group behavioral patterns, host Shankar Vedantam uses science to demystify the forces behind everything we do. A recent episode, “An Unfinished Lesson: What the 1918 Flu Tells Us About Human Nature,” is eye-opening and sobering. A must-listen at a time when even the smallest of human behaviors can gravely impact our health and survival. NPR.org/podcasts
Last week’s passing of “Lean on Me” singer/songwriter Bill Withers came amid the coronavirus crisis, so this 2009 documentary now carries extra emotions — mostly happy ones, thankfully. The music industry didn’t leave Withers behind, as is the story of so many rock docs; he left it. His musical greatness is explored here along with the spiritual/philosophical side that allowed him to live out his later years in peace. YouTube or Roku Channel.
Adam Schlesinger, whom we lost to COVID-19, was all about filling the world with silly love songs. Nothing wrong with that, especially when your band, Fountains of Wayne, produces a pop masterpiece like this one. No, this 1999 album doesn’t include “Stacy’s Mom,” but it does feature lots of upbeat, fun numbers, as well as “Troubled Times,” a ballad that has never sounded more fitting.
Fans of “Game of Thrones” will hail this underappreciated historical drama that should have lasted as long as the Roman Empire. Instead, it was axed after just two seasons. With its grand storytelling, colorful villains and epic look, the series is ripe for a renaissance. There may not be dragons, but there’s plenty of fire. HBO Now
Andrew Lloyd Webber
The composer launched a YouTube channel featuring a free stream of one of his hit musicals each week, starting with “Jesus Christ Superstar.” While it may not be the exact production of “JCS” you’d wish for, it does feature a Spice Girl (Sporty) as Mary Magdalene.
The “Thin Man” movies
Those who think they’ve mastered day drinking shouldn’t try to keep up with Nick and Nora Charles, the martini-swilling couple who somehow solve mysteries with massive hangovers. These classic 1930s-40s comedies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy are available on a number of streaming services, but Amazon Prime is your best bet. Let the happy hours begin.
Take a break from gloomy Scandinavian whodunits with a gloomy Polish whodunit. Our heroes: A cynical old journalist who’s about to retire gets teamed with an idealistic young reporter who just wants to get the truth! It’s the oldest cliché in the genre, but it works because of the setting: Poland in the Soviet years. If you found the shabby ’80s Eastern-European milieu of “Chernobyl” fascinating, you’ll like this. Netflix
Community college has never been more inviting than in this underappreciated NBC sitcom that tapped the talents of Donald Glover and Ken Jeong long before the rest of the world did. Creator Dan Harmon was both genius and sadist, challenging his cast, led by Joel McHale, with complex setups ranging from clay animation adventures to paintball wars. Their pain is our reward. Netflix and Hulu
The finale of this beloved sitcom aired this week, but we’re not ready to say goodbye to the Rose family. Luckily, Catherine O’Hara’s inexplicable accent and Daniel Levy’s pursed smile become even more charming on second viewing. “Schitt’s Creek” tells the story of a super-rich family that, after losing it all, are forced to live in the small town they bought as a gag. A funny show that turns soulful. Netflix
“The Last Passenger”
Feeling the need to get away? How about London? Not far enough? How about Victorian London? Set in 1855, Charles Finch’s latest Charles Lenox mystery sets out to solve the puzzle of a young gentleman found murdered on a train. There are, it seems, no clues; every identifying detail has been destroyed, including the labels in the dead man’s clothes. Finch writes with style and wit and laces his novel with fascinating historical details. There’s a love story, too, but anyone who has read and loved the other books in the series knows that Lenox’s heart belongs to his best friend, the very married Lady Jane. Or does it? Minotaur Books