TV, music, movies, and books we're into this week

The weekend (for a lot of us) begins later today, and there's no doubt we could use some time to ourselves. What better way to relax than with some great tunes, a quality movie, or a real page turner? Team Windows Central has a bunch of great recommendations just for you!

TV and movies

Here are some of the movies and TV shows Windows Central is enjoying this week.

The Office (U.S.)

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

Okay, don't laugh: I know I'm really late to this one. It's been over a decade since the show first started airing and I've somehow never managed to sit down and watch it all. I'm exceptionally bad at catching awesome shows while they're still airing (looking at you, Breaking Bad).

The Office is a single-camera comedy that follows the lives of employees at the Dunder Mifflin paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. While that sounds dull on the surface, the monotonous backdrop of office life provides the perfect canvas for hilarious (and sometimes endearing) interactions between the show's cast of characters.

The Office ran for nine seasons, so, no, I'm not going to have time to make it all of the way through this week. This is more like a months-long journey. Still, I'm stoked to follow it from start to finish.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes See at Netflix

Moana

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

I kind of feel odd recommending a Disney movie, because, well, it's a Disney movie and I'm a grown-ass man. But I really like Moana, and even though it's aimed mostly at children, like many Disney movies (all of them?), it also creatively caters to adults via mature concepts and content that sails right over kids' heads.

The story of Moana is a beautiful one, with themes of man (or woman) versus nature, coming of age, and community. But it's the music that really grabs me every time. I love the soundtrack, especially the film's theme song (called 'How Far I'll Go') and the tunes by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson ('You're Welcome') and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame ('Shiny').

It's also amazing-looking, especially if you have a 4K TV. Moana is a spectacular film for everyone, and its soundtrack is equally epic. If you're in the mood for a cool-looking, light, funny but still touching animated movie, you could do much worse than Moana.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Recommended by Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

When a friend told me to watch Madoka Magica, I immediately shunned the idea based on the cutesy pink box art alone. This is one anime that really proves the idiom don't judge a book by its cover.

Madoka Magica deconstructs the "magical girl" anime genre, popularized by the likes of Sailor Moon. What would happen if young girls were actually tasked with battling demonic, life-threatening entities? Well, a whole lot of trauma and tragedy, as it turns out.

Madoka Magica is a really great series that kicks your expectations in the teeth really early on, and drags you along kicking and screaming for one of the most gut-wrenching and beautiful shows of its time.

See at Amazon See at iTunes

Designated Survivor

Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor

I'm not sure how I missed this for so long, but in the UK Netflix picked up Designated Survivor and very quickly it became one of my new favorite shows. It stars Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, the man who shouldn't be President but gets thrust into the job after the most heinous attack on the U.S. government. It's well written, packed with twists and turns and the seasons have plenty of episodes in them to get your fill.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes

A.P. Bio

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

I'm a big fan of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Glenn Howerton, who plays Dennis, is now in a new series called A.P. Bio. It also stars Patton Oswalt as the hapless principal who wants to seem cool in the eyes of Howerton, who was once a bigshot university prof before being suspended for awful behavior.

The awful behavior apparently continues here, and from the two episodes I've seen, it's only going to get worse. It's a silly comedy, and it will hold me over until It's Always Sunny returns.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes

Music

Here's some of the music the Windows Central team is listening to this week.

Loco — POST IT

Recommended by Matt Brown, Xbox editor

POST IT is the latest chilled rap single from Loco, in collaboration with fellow record label member Jay Park. Being a fan of Loco's previous albums such as Bleached, this latest release is a welcomed addition to his varied rap discography. Just don't get confused by that infinitely loading album cover.

See at Amazon See at iTunes See at Spotify


John Prine (self-titled)

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

It's hard not to love John Prine if you're a fan of country and folk music, an,d lately I've been l toistening a lot to his first self-titled album from 1971. It features a few of my favorites, including "Illegal Smile," "Spanish Pipedream," "Pretty Good," and "Paradise," but really it deserves a listen from start to finish.

It probably won't be for everyone, but if you like it, you'll love it.

See at Amazon See at iTunes


Books

Here are the books we're reading this week!

Faithful Place — Tana French

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

Faithful Place is the third book in Irish crime writer Tana French's 'Dublin Murder Squad' series. But it's the first book in the series that I really loved. The starting two, In the Woods and The Likeness, were both really good, too, which is why I even made it this far. But there's something about Faithful Place that makes it stand out.

The coolest thing about French's collection is that it features some of the same characters, in the same setting, but the protagonist and focus of each book shifts to a different character who works for some arm of Dublin's police, or as they're known in the book 'the Guards.' This installment spotlights undercover agent Frank Mackey, who's drawn back to the blue-collar neighborhood he grew up in, and purposefully avoided for 22 years, when the body of a former girlfriend turns up in an abandoned building near his family's home.

The writing is awesome, the story is sharp and original, and the dialogue — complete with Irish slang that's still a mystery to me — all make this novel (and the series) one that's well worth the attention of any crime-fiction or mystery fan. But if you're interested, I strongly suggest starting with the first book in the series.

See at Microsoft Store Download Kindle book at Amazon Download Audible audiobook at Amazon


The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark — Carl Sagan

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

The late Carl Sagan undoubtedly influenced a lot of people with his life's work as an astrophysicist and cosmologist (among many other things), and I decided to pick up his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World.

Within, Sagan attempts to explain the scientific method, which naturally brings about critical thinking and skepticism, both of which seem to be sorely lacking in the modern age full of "fake news" and fraud.

See at Microsoft Store Download Kindle book at Amazon Download Audible audiobook at Amazon


Your favorites?

What have you been watching, reading, and listening to this week? We want to know, so drop a comment and share your recommendations.

If none of these recommendations strike your fancy, check out a list of all of our past recommendations. We promise you'll find something you'll like.

Tons more recommendations from Team Windows Central