It would serve the producers right if Spectacular Failures lived up to its name. Actually, this podcast about ill-fated businesses is an absorbing and addictive corrective to Guy Raz’s cheerleading interviews with successful entrepreneurs on the NPR podcast How I Built This. With authority and a jocular manner, the host, Lauren Ober, examines the market forces, social changes, and human folly behind the collapse of many a once impregnable company—from Toys R Us to Kodak.(spectacularfailures.org)
The Cube Grill
Thanks to Chef Heston Blumenthal, the wizard behind Great Britain’s Fat Duck restaurant, anyone can now feel like a god—transporting fire and feeding your hungry friends, wherever they happen to be, from the beach to your backyard or a tailgater this fall. Built with a special heat shield, it can sit on the ground or on a table. Plus, there’s a storage tray for food as well as a prep board. ($200, williams-sonoma.com)
The Leica Q2
The Leica Q2 is a camera lover’s camera. It’s obsessively engineered and assembled by hand, with a rock-solid, weatherproof body that will capture beautiful images in whatever conditions you find yourself in.
It’s also a delight to use. In an era where cameras come crammed with dials and buttons, the Q2 keeps only the essentials. This isn’t the camera that requires fiddling with settings. The 28-mm. lens is permanently attached to the body, which can be a deal-breaker for some pros, but here it’s a liberation. Just set up your auto ISO, adjust the aperture, and shoot. The image quality is superb. And it travels well: a mobile app and Bluetooth connection let you share photos from your phone. ($5,000, leica.com)
The British can be cruel about Americans, but they are absolutely brutal about their own. W1A, a BBC comedy, is a case in point. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) plays Ian Fletcher, the newly appointed head of values at the BBC, an ombudsman-ish role that makes him the punching bag of self-centered, callous colleagues, self-serving bosses, as well as pitchfork-wielding audiences that complain about every show on the BBC—until a show is canceled (then they demand it be restored). If you liked the British version of The Office, this workplace spoof, which takes its name from the BBC’s London postal code, is right around the corner. (Netflix)
Manish Mehrotra is the chef at Indian Accent, the haute Indian restaurant with branches in London, New York, and New Delhi, but when in Mumbai, Mehrotra races to Swati Snacks, a humble, family-owned restaurant for Panki, a yellow rice-flour pancake steamed in banana leaf. “It looks simple,” Mr. Mehrotra said. “But it requires skills to make.” Legions of devotees like Mehrotra finally persuaded the owners, the Jhaveri family, to open a second Mumbai Swati Snacks in the city’s commercial center. (Swatisnacks.com)