Playing content catch-up: What I’ve been watching recently

Do you know what Strange New Worlds season 2, Marvel’s Secret Invasion miniseries, the new Haunted Mansion movie, and the historical biopic Chevalier have to do with each other?

Well truthfully, not much. However, I recently watched all four of these and wanted to talk about them. One surprised me, one disappointed me, and two will probably end up on my “favorites of the year” list. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Strange New Worlds: Season 2

I love the characters on Strange New Worlds so, so much, and after binge-watching season 1 last year, I was so excited to watch another batch of episodes. Overall, I really enjoyed it, though not *quite* as much as season 1. 

Warning: Some minor spoilers ahead

For me, the standout episodes were “Charades,” “Subspace Rhapsody,” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” in that order:

  • Ethan Peck was absolutely hilarious as a suddenly fully-human Spock in “Charades,” and my shipper’s heart rejoiced over finally getting some closure to the ongoing “will-they-won’t-they” tension between Spock and Nurse Christine Chapel. 
  • As a huge fan of music theater, I thought “Subspace Rhapsody” was a delight from start to finish (with some genuinely emotional moments slipped in as well). It was just over the top and funny enough without being too ridiculous to buy into, and the songs were instantly catchy. 
  • La’an is my favorite character in this series, and seeing her bittersweet journey really gutted me this season. I’m glad she’s working through some of her heartbreak instead of holding it all inside. 

One thing that did let me down is the fact that Captain Pike sometimes felt more like a side character this season. I didn’t mind the appearance of Paul Wesley as Captain Kirk (I do love me some Captain Kirk content), but I wanted more time with Pike. 

This will still be one of my favorite stories of the year, but it probably won’t occupy the No. 1 spot, like it did in 2022. 

Secret Invasion

I was really intrigued by the first episode of Secret Invasion on Disney+ and was looking forward to an old-fashioned spy thriller. 

And then, for a variety of reasons, my interest fell off, and finishing the series felt like a chore. I hate saying that, because it’s great to see Samuel L. Jackson return as Nick Fury; Olivia Colman is delightful, as always; and it was fun watching Emilia Clarke join the MCU.

However, by the end I kept forgetting to watch the newest episodes as they premiered and I might have bailed altogether if I wasn’t an MCU completionist. 

It would take more than a short blog blurb to sort through all my complicated feelings about this show and why it stumbled, but I honestly don’t have the energy. Even though I don’t hate the series, I do feel deeply apathetic about it. And maybe a show that fails to inspire any kind of discussion is worse than one that motivates a passionately negative review. 

Haunted Mansion

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of my favorite movies and was far better than it had any right to be as a film based on a Disney parks ride. The original Haunted Mansion back in 2003 didn’t capture that same level of pop culture magic, however. 

While 2023’s Haunted Mansion was not exactly a box office sensation, it was more entertaining than I thought it would be. I chuckled throughout, and there are plenty of not-so-scary thrills and nostalgia for the Disney parks ride. 

The side characters were lots of fun, particularly Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, and Danny DeVito. I was sad Daniel Levy had only a small part, but it was good to see him pop up too. 

Although this movie is not blow-your-mind amazing, by any means, I enjoyed the time I spent with it and will probably watch it again on Disney+ sometime. Still, if you’re looking for great Haunted Mansion live action content, I highlight recommend the Muppets special on Disney+, which is a delight.


I knew I had to watch Chevalier as soon as I saw a preview for it. I adore historical period dramas with elaborate costumes and sets, and I was intrigued by the fact it’s based on a true story. This film is a biopic of Joseph Bologne, a biracial virtuoso violinist and composer living in revolutionary era France.

I was so excited to watch this movie, and then was heartbroken it never came to my local theater so I could see it on the big screen. However, I never forgot about it, and this past week I finally got a chance to rent it. And it was worth the wait!

Although Bologne deserves to be spoken of with the same notoriety as his peer Mozart, political figures tried to erase him from history due to the color of his skin. I was grateful for the chance to learn more about him, and I was very impressed by the lead performance of Kelvin Harrison Jr. He’s an actor I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on and will seek out in other films. 

My one complaint about this film is the major subplot involving a romance between Bologne and an opera singer. Normally I love a love story, but I felt like too much time was spent on this vs. focusing on Bologne himself. 

Still, I definitely recommend this one, and it’s one of my favorite movies I’ve watched this year. I love listening to music from all eras, and I hate the assumption that 1) classical music is old and boring, or 2) all modern music is trash. There’s wonderful music to be found in every era, and great artistry takes many forms. Hopefully Chevalier will introduce more people to Bologne’s music and legacy.

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