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Click here for part 1 of my list of my favorite TV series of 2020, and click here for part two!

15. Curb Your Enthusiasm season 10 — Ok, sure, the best days of Curb Your Enthusiasm seem to be in the past.  And I thought the first few episodes of this season, in which Larry runs afoul of the #metoo movement, were misguided.  But come on: the episode in which Jon Hamm slowly morphs into a Larry David duplicate was an all-time great.  And that was just one of the season’s many comedic delights, which included (but were by no means limited to): Larry’s wearing a MAGA hat in order to prevent people from coming up and chatting with him; Larry’s getting seated in the “ugly section” at a restaurant; Jeff’s being mistaken for Harvey Weinstein; side-sitting, yo-yo-diets, texting while driving, and all sorts of other shenanigans.  (Click here for my full review.)

14. Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian This behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Mandalorian is a lot of fun for a major Star Wars fan like myself.  The series is a delightful mix of after-the-fact roundtable discussions as well as lots of behind-the-scenes footage.  I was particularly delighted by the fourth episode, which took a deep dive into the revolutionary technology utilized to create the astoundingly beautiful and photo-real visual effects of the show, and the eighth episode, which explored all the myriad fun connections to obscure corners of the Star Wars universe that Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni and others incorporated into the show.  (Click here for my full review.)

13. Star Trek: Lower Decks This animated half-hour Star Trek comedy, exploring the lives of the lower-ranked “lower decks” characters on a Federation starship, is an enjoyable new version of a Star Trek show.  The animation is beautiful, and the show is very funny and packed with endearingly nerdy references to the vast breadth of the Star Trek universe.  It’s a pleasure to be back in the familiar 24th century setting of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, and over the course of this first ten-episode season, I grew to quite enjoy this series’ cast of misfits.  The triumphant inclusion of Captain William T. Riker and the starship Titan in the season’s final moments gave me a lot of joy.  This isn’t exactly the type of new Star Trek show I most want to see (I’d have been more interested in a straight, dramatic telling of most of this season’s stories), but dang if I didn’t grow to appreciate it nonetheless.  Bravo to creator Mike McMahan and his team.  I can’t wait for season two.  (Click here for my … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Into the Unknown: The Making of Frozen II

Not long after I finished watching Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, my entire family and I watched and enjoyed another Disney+ “making-of” series: the six-episode Into the Unknown: The Making of Frozen II.

This six-episode series, directed by Megan Harding, is an incredibly in-depth look at the last year of production on Frozen II.  (The film itself took many years to make.  This documentary only chronicles the last year, but believe me, there is more than enough material here for a fascinating look into the production of that film.)  This making-of series rivals the very best “making-of” documentaries that I used to love seeing on DVD/blu-ray special features.  (Sadly, those sorts of great special features on discs are all but extinct.  I bought Frozen II on blu-ray for my kids, and it came with a paltry array of short featurettes.  Clearly they were saving the goods for this series.)

I’m a film and animation nerd and I loved watching this, and my daughters who love both Frozen movies also were fascinated by it.  (I’d thought they might be bored, but this very slickly-produced series kept them captivated.)

I’m decently familiar with the process behind the making of Disney films from documentaries such as The Sweat Box (a fascinating, unreleased documentary about the tumultuous process of creating the film that started as Kingdom of the Sun and wound up as The Emperor’s New Groove; Disney tried to prevent the doc’s release but it’s floating around the internet and can be found if you look), Waking Sleeping Beauty, and the great in-depth making of documentaries that, as noted above, used to be on Disney special edition DVDs.  If you’re not, I expect there will be a lot about the process as detailed in this series that will be quite a revelation for you.  Even for me, someone who is decently familiar with this stuff, I loved following this very detailed, step-by-step look at the long, hard process of bringing an animated film to life.

Additionally, I was surprised and impressed by how much of the behind-the-scenes stress and struggle that went into shaping Frozen II into its final form was present in this Disney-approved documentary series.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a very polished version of events in which pretty much everyone looks good.  I’d expect nothing less from an official Disney creation.  But despite that, the documentary manages to nevertheless spend a lot of time exploring the challenged faced by the filmmakers and the stress of living up to the incredible success of the first Frozen film.  It’s fascinating to see the hard work spent on entire sequences and songs that wind up getting dropped entirely.  (We get to see … [continued]