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Waiting out COVID-19 lockdown with shows of all flavours

Here are a few TV shows that will help you beat the coronavirus lockdown boredom.

May 30, 2020 / 06:48 AM IST
Macarena García and Fiona Palomo in Control Z.

Macarena García and Fiona Palomo in Control Z.

It’s 8.00 am and you are already logged in at work, because someone decided to let you know they haven’t been able to finish the report. You are sneaking in a shower between meetings, and eating with one eye on the endless conversations of colleagues. Some of you are glad that you don’t have to turn the video on when attending meetings. Some days ‘work from home’ seems to translate into ‘work from hell’.

School’s over for the kids and the grown-ups have exhausted everything that could fill in the space between chores at home and office work. You cannot watch reruns of Harry Potter and Avengers and Jurassic Park anymore. I was wondering if I should vacuum the Lego pieces off the floor, from between the sofa cushions, in the jam jar… In the jam jar?! Fortunately, I stumbled into this marvelous world of Jurassic Park Secret Exhibit.

Although, just like Lego Batman, this spoof too is more for grown-ups, but has a childlike heart. Speaking of which, I watched the freshly released KDrama called Mystic Pop Up Bar and was pleasantly surprised. The premise is fun: She needs to fulfill her quota of avenging and he can help her because he can figure out the deepest darkest desires in people just by touch.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The comedy is slapstick (that explains the musical score), and the content moves from simple to very dark, but the special effects that connect the past to the present are very, very good. Imagine getting rid of grudges with a little bit of supernatural help? Not bad, eh?

Signal is a ‘put your logic away because the show is good’ kind of show. Imagine a walkie talkie that connects two cops - one from the past and one in the present- to help solve cold cases? I almost didn’t watch the show because logic dictates that the odds of both cops latching on to the same frequency is well nigh impossible, but then I loved the period show of Korean zombies, so I should not be asking for logic here in this Japanese cops show, no?

There is a Korean version of the same show, but if you want to practise your language skills then this will help you get your intonation for, ‘Sou desu ka’ just right. Another cop show with strange logic hits the right spots is Border. A cop who has been shot (bullet still lodged in his brain) solves murders in a different way because he talks to the dead victims. His connect with the pathologist is pretty cool as is his love-hate relationship with his other team members. On an aside, do you realise how much walking and running is involved in being a cop in Korea and Japan? Not for them the rough-riding Singham or The Rock from The fast and the furious!

The villain from the end of the season promises to be Moriarty like, and I wish there was more of the villain, but evil versus justice make for great stories. Netflix has two spinoffs from this show, one of the forensic pathologist and the other of the hero. Worth watching if you like the show.

After watching the Australian show Pine Gap a while ago, the ‘governments are up to no good’ part of my brain was looking for something that would engage me so much that I would forget to eat. (Yes, one has been eating more than ever during this lockdown!). I found that in another based in Australia but made by the BBC show called The Code.

The hacking, the coverups and the length to which governments go to cover up are brilliantly done. Yes, I did pause to fill my flask with coffee but the show is so engaging that you instantly take sides with the brothers, one is a journalist and the other a fragile human being but a computer genius. You are so involved with the human tragedy in the story that you forget that the school teacher in the outback is Xena, warrior princess. The second season started seamlessly and I watched it with awe. I had sided with the journalist brother in the first season, so the computer genius and his ‘rain man’ genius got on my nerves in the second season. Jesse and his tantrums, as they say in India, ‘ate too much footage’. The story in the second season hit close to my heart because I have stood in picket lines protesting mindless mining and felling of forests. It also asks a very pertinent life question: You have to decide what kind of dog you are. I am the dogs of war...

For the next recommendation though, I would ask you to take in a deep breath and then decide whether you want to be afraid for this new generation who seem to be living on another planet altogether or can deal with the dark side of technology. And this show is not about the outlandish vocabulary and an even stranger dress sense of the new generation. I am worried about their attachment to their phones. The show Control Z shook me, shocked me, and made me look at the young men and women I teach in college in a different light.

I do yearn for simpler times when problems at college were as simple as being on the right side of the librarian who would then let you borrow the books for longer. I took solace in the magical world captured beautifully by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg in his marvelous show aptly called Moving Art. There are three seasons of this magnificent look at our planet in glorious time lapse. Here is the trailer of the second season, all three seasons make your subscription of Netflix your best decision.

Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.

Manisha Lakhe
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.