There's a lot of pop culture to sort through week after week. Times staff writer Chris Barton offers his take on what's up and what's down in music, movies, television and just about anything else out there that is worth considering.
Season 2 of "Catastrophe": Proving its first six episodes were no fluke, this British import on Amazon co-created by comic/Twitter id Rob Delaney and writer-actor Sharon Horgan continues to balance raw honesty with rare warmth for a show that remains one of the funniest on TV. Skipping ahead for its second installment to the second child of the multi-night stand couple played by Delaney and Horgan, "Catastrophe" offers a bent look at the real work that goes into sustaining a long-term relationship between flawed, deeply human adults.
Melissa Aldana's "Back Home": Outside of a long tradition of transportive vocalists and some inspired instrumental outliers, the average jazz club often could easily — and unfortunately — be mistaken for a boys' club given the often dominant makeup of the bandstand. One artist breaking that stereotype is this Chilean-born tenor saxophonist, whose latest album with her trio boldly follows in the footsteps of Sonny Rollins with a piano-less group dynamic and makes it her own with gently swerving compositions and a deft way with melody.
In-concert guest stars: While some true magic can result when superstar X joins mega-band Y onstage to take on song Z (Coachella is basically built on the promise of such things), the proliferation of onstage big-concert cameos are starting to feel like the musical equivalent of "sweeps week"; a stunt primarily engineered to keep people talking on social media rather than an organic event. Maybe we can thank Taylor Swift's expansive "1989" tour Rolodex for this trend, but aren't there times when an artist re-creating their music in the moment is enough?
Talking TV on TV: When a show consumes pop culture like "Game of Thrones," you can't blame HBO for following the lead of "The Walking Dead" by scheduling a half-hour chat show to break down each week's episode right after it airs. But for all the illuminating observations from ex-Grantland writer Andy Greenwald and others on "Watch the Thrones" you can feel the possibility of too much of such cheap programming filling the airwaves, resulting in an Ouroboros of TV made up of what we watch followed by relentless chatter to revisit what we just watched.