Bill’s Best Bets: Part one of Social Distancing Edition … recommendations for Amazon Prime Video

Usually in this space we recommend where to go out for entertainment options.

Not anymore in this time of  coronavirus.

So welcome to the first edition of Bill’s Best Bets While Social Distancing. I hope we only do a few of these, but we’ll see as we work through unprecedented times.

Just imagine trying to get through this decades back when Lubbock had two TV stations.

We have lots of options. Starting today and for the next fews days, I’ll be looking at some of the channels and streaming networks available on our television sets.

Even I have favorites.

And remember to wash your hands!


If I had to choose my own favorite streaming service, Amazon Prime is closer to Netflix than you might think.

Yet I have not taken time to watch one episode of Amazon Prime’s two biggest original hit series: “Fleabag,” created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the continuing “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” with Rachel Brosnahan earning raves as a Jewish-American housewife finding success as a standup working New York’s comedy clubs.

Both shows sound wonderful. I just have not made the time. You probably should.

Not that I have avoided checking out Amazon originals.

As soon as friend John Maynard suggested I try “Tom Clancy’s  Jack Ryan,” that was good enough for me. Great decision, by the way. John Krasinski is perfectly cast as the title character, a CIA analyst at home in the field. Tough support comes from Wendell Reeves as James Greer and Noomi Rapace as undercover operative Harriet “Harry” Baumann.

I also was quick to check out Amazon original “The Hunters.” Set in 1977, a group tracks down former Nazis aided by the United States. The group is led by wealthy Meyer Offerman, portrayed by Al Pacino, in his first television series. The ensemble is well cast, but I especially enjoyed the wonderful Carol Kane and Saul Rubinek as Mindy and Murray Markowitz. Sadly, I did not like the ending.

It would be too easy to use the word magical to describe the first season of “Carnival Row,” which boasts gorgeously inventive visuals.

Formerly a SyFy Channel exclusive, I also have begun watching a futuristic series called “The Expanse.” It was recommended by another trusted friend, Mike Vinson, who called it the best science fiction TV series since “Battlestar Gallactica.”

My own guilty pleasure is the lightweight horror series “Grimm,” in which Portland, Ore., is home to dangerous, other-worldly creatures first encountered by the Brothers Grimm. One particular detective can see what these creatures look like, when no one else can. Fun, if not terribly believable.

Those without Hulu, by the way, can also watch “Justified,” previously praised on Amazon Prime.

All that said, my favorite aspects of Amazon Prime are the many opportunities to bump into short, 50-minute biographies of celebrities and artists from past decades, as well as longer, behind-the-scenes histories of bands and documentaries about the entertainment industry.

Finding these dozens of 50-minute biographies demands that one click on Search at the top, and type the word “Discovering.”

From there, a long line of choices appear, including “Discovering Robert DeNiro,” “Discovering Rock Hudson,” “Discovering Humphrey Bogart,” “Discovering Bette Davis,” “Discovering Joan Fontaine,” “Discovering Gene Kelly,” etc.

The key, I repeat, is to search for the word “Discovering,” because this series is otherwise hard to find.

Longer biographies include “The Abbott and Costello Story;” “The Magic of Houdini;” “Take Me Home: The John Denver Story;” “Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of;” “The George Burns Story;” “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise;” “The Hollywood Collection: Audrey Hepburn Remembered;”  “Long Strange Trip” (a two-part Grateful Dead documentary); “Standing in the Shadows of Motown;” “The Kids Are Alright” (documentary about The Who); “American Masters: Wyeth;” and “The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story.”

Amazon also introduced biographical films about The Eagles and other musicians.

Tomorrow: Netflix suggestions.

And remember, wash your hands! Keep Lubbock flat!

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