ITHACA -- With the world on lockdown, what are we all watching? This week, I spoke to Peter Bakija -- art teacher, bass player and the host of “Burning Airlines,” WRFI’s Sunday music and interview radio show.
IT: How have you been holding up?
PB: I’m living in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, but other than that, I’m OK. I’m coping marginally. I went back to work three weeks ago, and I’m working full-on with high school kids now, which is weird. But we’re doing the best we can.
IT: You’re actually there in the room?
PB: Yeah. It’s a small school and we have the kids there every other day. My senior class is 50 kids, so there are 25 high school seniors in the building at any given moment. So far, so good. We’re in the middle of the third week of school and nothing terrible has happened yet.
IT: What have you been watching?
PB: I live with my wife, and most of the watching that goes on—we’re both watching something. There’s been a lot of negotiation about what we’re both willing to watch. We’ve watched through season seven of “The Office” because you can put it on and it’s just on, and we’ve seen all the episodes a thousand times.
IT: I’ve never seen it.
PB: The first season is rough... it’s a little hard to watch. It’s basically a scene-for-scene remake of the British version. It’s a little rough because you can tell they haven’t decided what to do with their characters. The second season, they figure out what they wanna do and everybody becomes a much more well-realized, not-terrible-person character. It’s got a good heart and it means well. Up through season five, it’s solid entertainment, and then Steve Carrell leaves in the middle of season seven, and you can just stop there. [laughs]
IT: I’m a huge “Community” fan, but they booted creator Dan Harmon off of season four, and I never watch season four after seeing it once. I just pretend it doesn’t exist, like “Another 48 Hrs.” And the “Matrix” sequels.
PB: Funny you should say that. [laughs] We finished “The Office” recently and so I started re-watching “Community.” And season one is kind of, like, perfect. It starts, and it’s great from the very beginning. Season two has some of my favorite episodes of TV ever created by anything, like the one where Annie loses her pen (“Cooperative Calligraphy”) and they’re stuck in the study room. And the next episode is the one about conspiracy theories (“Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”) with the fake professor, Professor Professorson. I love that TV show so much it makes my brain hurt.
IT: What else?
PB: I just started watching “Lovecraft Country” on HBO. Have you heard of that?
IT: Yeah, I’ll have to catch up with that on DVD. I don’t have cable.
PB: The first episode is really good. It takes place in the early ‘60s, and most of the characters are African-American, and [the show] sort of fuses monsters and racism. It’s very “of the time,” right? The second episode is a little bonkers, but still pretty good. The fourth episode takes a really sort of uncomfortable turn that… I don’t want to give anything away, but they make a decision on that show where you’re like, “Wait, why did they do that thing?” And it makes no sense and makes it all sort of icky. And the episode after that, they kind of double down on that, and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep watching it.