Spring has sprung…

Our garden clean-up in Thornbury is complete and we did a little spring cleaning in our master bathroom when a leak was discovered under my sink requiring trips to both Home Hardware and Home Depot.  I have purged years worth of magazines that had been accumulating in baskets scattered throughout the house.  Ahhh! A quiet feeling of satisfaction creeps in. It hasn’t been a great week for TV watching as we had some nights out with family and to actually go see a movie in a real theatre!  However, here are some of my recommendations for your week:

On the big screen

Their Finest is a wonderful British film about the WWII propaganda effort in patriotic films designed by the War Office to draw America into the war.  Delightful and touching, it is about a much simpler time.

Here’s an article from Esquire on the best movies (so far) of 2017:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a52209/best-movies-of-2017/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=042217

 

Netflix

I Don’t feel at home in this World anymore is an Indie film that is blackly humorous as it follows the journey of a depressed woman to avenge the burglary of her home.  Wonderful performances from Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood.

 

13 Reasons Why is a 13-part miniseries about the causes and effects of a teen suicide on a high school community.  Much longer than it needed to be, it did make me relive my high school years and made me feel nervous about attending my upcoming high school reunion as I still have recurring dreams about not being able to remember my locker combination and sleeping through a final exam (not to mention the going to school without underwear dream).

Riverdale will air a new episode on April 28!  Love this mysterious series.  Kind of a blackly comic version of 13 Reasons Why.

Superchannel/On Demand

National Treasure is a 4-part miniseries from the UK starring Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters.  In the wake of the Jimmy Saville/Bill Cosby/Bill O’Reilly scandals about TV personalities with a history of sexual assault, this series depicts a beloved comedian’s arrest and trial on sex charges.  Powerful performances, especially from Andrea Riseborough as the daughter of the comedian.

 

Sunday Madness

PBS 

Tonight’s lineup includes a double episode of Home Fires and Wolf Hall.

 

HBO

Tonight’s lineup includes The Leftovers, Silicon Valley, Guerrilla, Billions, Veep and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. 

 

ABC 

American Crime follows the heartbreaking story of immigrant farm workers, sex workers, and all those around them.

 

Superchannel 

The White Princess continues the story of the rise of the Tudors.

W

The Good Fight has its season finale tonight.

Under the Radar (shows you could be watching)

The Path (on Showcase and available by streaming) aired originally on Hulu in the US. A mysterious series about a cult.
Better Call Saul (AMC) shows Saul, Mike and now Gus all before Breaking Bad.

The Americans, Fargo and Feud (all on FX) are three great shows from a network that has slowly built into a power house of original programming. Here’s John Doyle’s article on why you should be watching Fargo:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-fargo-season-three-is-another-little-masterpiece-of-storytelling/article34722574/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

Designated Survivor (on ABC) is actually a somewhat comforting parable about what might happen if a good man accidentally became POTUS.  Compared to the current national nightmare, this show is like a fairy tale.

Comic Relief

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy), The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS), Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Comedy), and Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) are my preferred way of catching up with the headlines these days.  I will be on the road today attending a charity function in Caledon, so I will be missing the French Election results.  Fingers crossed that Le Pen will be defeated and we will not face a Frexxit vote.

Audible.com and Podcasts

Given that we just spent a few long days on the road, we have been listening to a few podcasts and things of that nature.  We just finished Alec Baldwin’s autobiography Nevertheless on Audible.com.  A little wordy and unfunny for my tastes, that man has serious anger issues!!  From the team that originated the Serial series of NPR podcasts, we just listened to S-Town: a journalist’s account of a mysterious relationship with a man from Alabama who believed he had uncovered a murder in his awful small town.  Hypnotic (which isn’t necessarily what you want when driving), it’s a tale of obsession and madness and life in a small backwoods town.

 

Closing Words

It’s an absolutely beautiful spring day here in Thornbury!  Please enjoy your week regardless of whether it involves TV, movies, etc.  Get outside and play if you can!!!

Home again…

We arrived home Friday afternoon after a marathon drive home from Naples.  Along the way we stopped in Charleston, SC for two nights.  We stayed at a lovely hotel on the harbour which offered free afternoon tea, free wine and cheese and free milk and cookies at bedtime.  We spent our time there walking the town, and dining at restaurants we had failed to get reservations at our previous two visits to Charleston.    Snob (slightly north of Broad) was lovely, warm and had fabulous food.  Husk (rated the #1 restaurant in Charleston) was a little off-putting with impossibly complicated food and very, very slow service.  We spent our last night in the US at a suburb of Pittsburgh called Southpointe  and did our last bit of outlet shopping in Grove City, PA.  We had a visit with my mother yesterday and then celebrated Easter with George’s family in Port Perry yesterday and will be having dinner tonight with our daughter-in-law and very good friends at our golf club.  Our two boys are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Star Wars in Orlando and will return home later today.  In the meantime, although I watched TV very little this past week, here are some recommendations for the week to come:

Today’s must see viewing

These are the items I’m recording today on Sunday madness:

CBS Sunday Morning (my weekly Zen moment)

Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN where Zakaria explains world events.

Face the Nation on CBS features great panel discussions of world events.

Reliable Sources on CNN features journalists discussion current events.

State of the Union on CNN features Jake Tapper leading a discussion of current events.

Call the Midwife on PBS is a heartwarming British drama series.

Home Fires on PBS is another heartwarming British drama series.

The Leftovers on HBO Canada returns for its third head scratching season in a post Apocalyptic world.

American Crime is a searing drama on ABC that continues its sad tale of a failing furniture business in NC, struggling farm owners, immigrant farmworkers living in harrowing conditions, young people being sold into modern day slavery as sex professionals, and the social service and justice systems that tries to deal with the fallout from all of the above.

Wolf Hall returns to PBS with its history of the times of Henry VIII.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO Canada deals comedically with current events.

The White Princess on Superchannel in Canada is the series premiere of a sequel to “The White Queen” and chronicles the power grab among the women vying for the English throne adapted from a Philippa Gregory historical novel.

Feud: Bette and Joan on FX continues the feud between the great screen legends as they work on Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.

Girls on HBO Canada airs its series finale tonight.

Veep on HBO Canada has its Season 6 premiere.  Selina tries to secure her legacy one year after losing the presidency.

The Kennedys – After Camelot on Bravo details the life of Jacqueline Kennedy in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination in this mini-series.

Guerrilla with Idris Elba and Frieda Pinto debuts tonight on HBO Canada (Showtime in the US).  Here’s what the NY Post has to say about it:

http://nypost.com/2017/04/15/british-police-target-immigrants-in-explosive-guerrilla/

Billions (HBO Canada and Showtime US) The cat and mouse game continues.

Later this Week

Better Call Saul Monday on AMC is rerunning its Season 3 premiere.  jimmy and Chuck’s relationship deteriorates; Kim feels the pressure of running her own firm; and Mike investigates the note left on his car.  The suspense is slowly building…

The Americans Tuesday on FX shows Paige becoming more enmeshed in her parents’ world, Philip and Elizabeth’s honeytraps take surprising turns.

Fargo Wednesday on FX has its Season 3 premiere.  A petty sibling rivalry between two brothers escalates and brings chaos to a small Minnesotan community.  Ewan McGregor plays twins!!

Under the Radar

Well, even though I didn’t get to watch much TV this week as we were actually out on the road, I did find out that one of my favourite subversive shows from the US is available here on Netflix – Riverdale.  If you haven’t discovered this disarmingly funny and intriguing show about the dark secrets of a seemingly idyllic American town, take the opportunity to binge this season’s episodes.  Can’t wait to catch up.

I did actually binge on demand yesterday catching the whole first season run of Mary Kills People on Global.  Quite enjoyed this suspense series about a doctor who assists patients in end of life decisions.  Filmed in Toronto, part of the fun of this very Canadian show is spotting the shooting locations.

I have been streaming The Good Fight (sequel to The Good Wife) online and have been enjoying the continuing legal machinations of Diane and her band of lawyers. Many of the same characters from the original series continue their roles.

Catastrophe I watched the last episode of this Britcom series’ Season 3 and continue to be amazed and amused by the story’s bawdy twists and turns.

Comic Relief

 

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS returns this week with new shows.  The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy is on the air this week, but I’m unclear as to whether the show is still in reruns.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on Comedy is airing this Wednesday at 10:30, but I’m not sure if it’s a new episode.

Final Words

We have returned to glorious spring weather – blue skies and sun.  Our Toronto golf club is open for business this week, so we will be swinging golf clubs at the range.  Our fitness group is celebrating spring with a neighbourhood walk in the Thorncrest Village area on Easter Monday.  I’ll head back to our regular class on Wednesday.  We will drive north on Thursday to check on our Thornbury house and head for the golf course there.  We are going to see a show at the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood on Friday night that features one of The Nylons (Micah Barnes) in a musical review called New York Stories. It’s a bit of culture shock to be back (kind of nice not to be worrying about Mr. Trump’s next move 24/7), and we’re getting to know our condo again.  Enjoy this beautiful weather wherever you are.

 

 

The bags are packed…

Well, we will be starting our drive north in less than 48 hours.  I have played my last golf game (a lifetime best score in Bonita Springs with good friends), played my last game of Mahjong (actually winning a hand for a change), attended my last fitness classes (celebrating afterward with our wonderful instructor and the Tues/Thurs regulars), eaten our last 5th Avenue dinner (at Molto’s, a great Italian spot), and attended our last Treviso Bay dinner party (with our neighbours who also happen to be part of the Thornbury crowd), and attended our last Book Club (discussing the wonderful A Man Called Ove with a group of lovely ladies).  My bags are packed and the last load of laundry is in the machine. I’m going to miss our friends here but I am looking forward to seeing family and friends in the North.  Our first stop on our trip home will be a visit in the W. Palm Beach area with two of my cousins, followed by two nights in Charleston, SC and then back to Toronto.  I won’t be watching much TV over the next week, but for those of you who can catch some shows, here are some recommendations:

On the big screen

I saw the film Frantz at the Toronto International Film Festival and it is getting its release now.  Loved it and recommend it highly.  Here’s what the Globe and Mail had to say about it:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/film-reviews/in-frantz-director-francois-ozon-weaves-a-compelling-tale-of-tragedy-and-grief/article34616920/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

New Debuts and Returning Programs

John Doyle in the Globe and Mail has some recommendations for April viewing:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-online-and-on-tv-april-is-the-coolest-month/article34560607/

The NYTimes also has some suggestions for April viewing:

The NYTimes isn’t letting me insert an operable link, so find this article in their watching section in Arts and take a look. They list the new show Brockmire (debuts April 5 on IFC), Better Call Saul (returns April 10 on AMC), Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (debuts April 14 on Netflix), The Leftovers (returns April 16 on HBO), Fargo (returns April 19 on FX), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (debuts April 22, on HBO), Great News (debuts April 25 on NBC), The Handmaid’s Tale (debuts April 26 on HULU), Dear White People (debuts April 28, on Netflix), and American Gods (debuts April 30 on Starz).

Shows I’m Catching Up With

Last night’s SNL had a fabulous segment with Alec Baldwin playing Bill O’Reilly and Trump in the same sketch!  His O’Reilly is truly a masterpiece of makeup and impersonation.  Watch it here on You Tube!

As usual I have been keeping track of the news on The Late Show on CBS with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show on Comedy with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal on TBS with Samantha Bee, Vice on HBO and CNN the rest of the time (especially Fareed Zakaria GPS).  

The Late Late Show on CBS with James Corden has had its share of musical delights,  so I’ll share its wonderful Beauty and the Beast Crosswalk edition with you:

Late Night with Seth Meyers has had some wonderful “A Closer Look” Segments this past news week:

And a couple of days earlier:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO tonight should be required viewing!

My Sunday morning ritual includes watching CBS Sunday Morning while I write this blog and this morning is no exception as “The Money Issue” is being aired.  Not one of my favourite themes of theirs, but it forces me to leave politics aside for the moment and catch up with some business trends.

Sunday Craziness

The Daily Beast has an article about the female-centred nature of much Sunday viewing that I found interesting:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/03/big-little-lies-feud-girls-was-sunday-the-best-female-driven-night-of-tv-ever.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

Sunday has definitely become a day of must-watch viewing.  Today’s schedule of news shows should be interesting because of the recent US involvement in the Syrian conflict.  Here’s a summary of my PVR recordings for today:

Meet the Press (NBC 10 am): guests to include Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham, Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine and a roundtable discussion with journalists.

Fareed Zakaria GPS (CNN 10 am):  topics include Trump’s decision re Syria; Iran; Chinese Presidential visit to Mar-a-Lago.

Face the Nation (CBS 10:30 am): guests include Rex Tillerson; John McCain; Tom Donilon; intelligence analyst Michael Morell and an assortment of journalists.

60 Minutes (CBS 7 pm): topics include addictive smartphone apps; Chobani and refugees; Japanese baseball.

Call the Midwife (PBS 8pm) is heartwarming British drama.

Homeland (Showtime 9 pm) is entitled America First and is the season finale where pieces fall into place.

Home Fires (PBS 9 pm) is another heartwarming British drama set in 1940 when divorce and marital infidelity were actually causes of scandal.

Girls (HBO 10 pm) has its series finale.

Billions (Showtime 10 pm) continues the cat and mouse game between Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti.

American Crime (ABC 10 pm) tells its searing story of human trafficking and migrant labour.

Feud: Bette and Joan (FX 10 pm) continues to showcase Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon in the legendary feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

Into the Badlands (AMC 10 pm) is martial arts madness in a land of feuds between barons.

The Arrangement (E!10 pm) is a naughty show that is really about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Scientology.

Crashing (HBO 10:30 pm) continues to tell the touchingly poignant story of a would-be stand-up comedian in NYC and the people in his life.

Last Week Tonight (HBO 11:03 pm) John Oliver covers news, politics and current events in a scathingly humorous and intelligent way.

Closing Words

OK folks, I will have my work cut out for me just catching up with today’s programs before we leave at the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning, and I haven’t even packed my toiletries or cleaned out my cupboards and fridge yet.  Have fun this week wherever you are, and I will summarize our road trip next weekend when I have recovered from Easter Dinner with our family.  Now back to work for me!!!

One week to go…

We leave here in 8 days or so, so we’ll make the most of our last precious days in Florida.  Golfing, mahjong, pickle ball, etc. are all on the agenda.  Today was about 90 degrees F. with 100% humidity, but I’m not complaining as there won’t be many days like this back home for a while.  Today we enjoyed after golf lunch on an outside patio overlooking a beautiful golf course.  In the meantime, there are plenty of shows to be watched!

Streaming

Obit is a marvelous documentary about the NYTimes Obituary section that I saw at last year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto.  The Globe and Mail has a wonderful article about it:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/film-reviews/obit-doc-follows-new-york-times-writers-as-they-chronicle-the-lives-of-the-dead/article34498055/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

 

Rules Don’t Apply is a film by Warren Beatty starring him and Annette Bening.  It is about the later years of Howard Hughes and tells an unconventional love story of an aspiring actress, her determined driver, and their boss, an eccentric billionaire named Howard Hughes. This is a meandering and odd film that gives Beatty a chance to shine in a very unsympathetic role as a very strange man who cuts himself off from the world.  It has charming moments painting a Hollywood in a much more innocent age during the 1950’s. A great cast was assembled, but the film just doesn’t quite make it as a romance or a comedy.

Life Animated is a wonderful documentary that tells the story  of an autistic young man whose deep connection to the Disney movies he’s watched countless times enables him to make sense of an often-bewildering world.  Keep your hankies handy as you admire the fortitude of his family in helping their child to regain his voice.

Netflix

I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I managed to binge on all 13 episodes of Iron Fist. I can’t explain why I was fascinated with this totally weird series about a young man who returns from the dead to try and regain control of his family business, but I quite enjoyed this silly show set in the world of martial arts.  It didn’t hurt that hunky Finn Jones from Game of Thrones plays Danny Rand, the hero.

All my usual obsessions

Tonight will feature the finales of several Sunday night shows (Big Little Lies on HBO and The Walking Dead on AMC) and John Doyle has an article contrasting them:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-two-series-two-profound-finales-lots-of-dead-bodies/article34495055/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

Heartwarming British shows return on PBS

Call the Midwife makes it’s return for Season 6 tonight.  Get out your hankies as this wonderful group of women attempt to make a difference in a disadvantaged corner of London in the 1960’s.

Home Fires returns for Season 2.  It’s June 1940 and Britain faces the threat of imminent invasion.  As the Battle of Britain looms, the villagers of Great Paxford live under a cloud of fear and suspicion.  A heartwarming story of my parents’ generation in Britain as they truly faced the worst of times.

Shows you should try and find

Imposters on Bravo on Tuesdays is a terrific suspense series about a con woman who is confronted by her victims.  It’s hurtling towards its last episode this week.

Colony on USA on Thursdays is about an Earth that is colonized by invading extraterrestrials.  A resistance movement emerges to challenge them and therein lies our story.

The Expanse on SyFy on Tuesdays shows us a world in the future where Earth and Mars (which it has colonized) have a very uneasy relationship.  Fascinating futuristic stuff!

Homeland on Showtime Sundays continues the espionage story surrounding the CIA’s anti terrorism activities in NYC. We are in Season 6 and are up to the second last episode.

Billions on Showtime Sundays continues the story of a hedge fund manager and a US States Attorney locked in a cat and mouse game with each other.

Feud on FX Sundays follows the relationship of divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford who are brought together to star in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

The Americans on FX Tuesdays tells the story of an American family who happen to be Russian spies during the 80’s.  How timely!!

As we had company last week, I am still trying to catch up on shows I recorded without much success.  As usual, I try and make time for my favourites like CBS Sunday Morning, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Real Time with Bill Maher and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  Today, I will have to catch up with Fareed Zakaria GPS as he tries to explain our complicated times to us.

Closing Words

Enjoy this wonderful Spring weather regardless of where you are.  To my friends who begin their journeys home to the North from Florida this week, safe travels! Have a wonderful week!

 

Time is now racing by…

We are leaving Florida on April 11, so we are cherishing every day we have left here.  I had a longtime friend come and visit this past week, and two dear couple friends are visiting us before we leave.  Today is the day of our neighbourhood street party, so neighbours are starting to say good bye to each other as we start our journeys home. It will be wonderful to see our family and friends at home in Ontario, but we just wish we could bring our Florida weather home with us.  Oh well, hoping for spring weather and daffodils on our return.

My visiting friend this past week informed me that she never watches TV, so I enticed her to watch a couple of films with me instead.  I did spend some time this weekend trying to catch up on my 83% full PVR, but I still haven’t gotten around to all my recorded programs, so here come a few recommendations for items you may be overlooking:

On the Big Screen

Last week I raved about the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast (which I regard as a masterpiece in the Disney canon that includes, Up, Ratatouille, The Jungle Book, etc.  If you are a B&tB fan, you may enjoy this article:

Why Belle Should Have Chosen Gaston

On Demand

20th Century Women is a sweet and gentle memoir about a teenager growing up in a very unconventional 1970’s household headed up by single mom Annette Bening. Wistful and slow paced, it’s a portrait of women behaving unconventionally during the heady times of the emerging women’s liberation movement and the hallucinogenic 70’s. A very different sort of coming of age movie.

I am JFK Jr – A Tribute to a Good Man.  This documentary (which originally aired on HBO) is an homage to America’s fallen prince and the Kennedy legacy.  It is the story of a young man destined for greatness, but determined to be good in a world filled with high expectations.  Featuring cinematically shot interviews with John’s friends ranging from the famous, like Robert De Niro and Cindy Crawford, to the controversial – Mike Tyson and Larry Flynt.  The vintage footage of young John in the White House, on vacation with his family, and rare footage of him in the years after his famous father’s assassination are rather poignant.

Worth Seeking Out

Con artists are trending this year (Good Behaviour on USA, Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime, Imposters on Bravo) and Shut Eye is an addictive Hulu series starring Jeffrey Donovan as a scammer who develops a real ability to predict the future.  I binged on all 10 episodes this past week.  Beware, you may get hooked!

NETFLIX

Iron Fist has been very controversial for its white washed casting of a blonde blue eyed Brit (Finn Jones from Game of Thrones) in what was originally depicted in the comics as an Asian.  I must confess that I have bingewatched several episodes of this highly addictive martial arts series and have found it mindlessly enthralling regardless of its politically incorrect casting.

Recent Debuts

AMC

Into the Badlands returned to AMC for its second season last Sunday night and I still haven’t caught up with it.  This martial arts based series is about a mighty warrior and a young boy who search for enlightenment in a ruthless territory controlled by feudal barons.  Not for everyone, but I liked its badass kookiness. The Walking Dead is nearing its season finale and things are starting to look bad for Negan.

FX

This network continues to delight with its miniseries like Fargo (returning shortly for Season 3), American Crime Story, and this year’s Feud about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.  Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange are amazing in their depictions of the two stars. The Americans (Tuesdays) is still dark and thrilling and this year, and, because of our new found focus on Putin’s Russia (yet another journalist shot to death recently), continues to be more timely than ever.

Amazon Prime

Several trusted friends have now told me how much they have enjoyed Z: The Beginning of Everything. This is a biography series based on the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful and talented Southern Belle who becomes the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age in the 20’s.  Starring Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald, Z starts before she meets the unpublished writer F.Scott Fitzgerald and moves through their passionate, turbulent love affair and their marriage – made in heaven  and lived out in hell as the celebrity couple of their time.

 

ABC

American Crime (Sunday nights) has returned for its third season with a wonderful cast (headed by Felicity Huffman) and is focusing this year on human trafficking. Powerful stories of individuals caught up in this shameful practice, the series is beautifully written and acted.

 

CBS

With the notable exceptions of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden and of course my moment of Zen show CBS Sunday Morning, I rarely find myself drawn to the network’s hugely popular line up of police procedurals and 1/2 hour sitcoms.  John Doyle has a wonderful Globe column on how CBS programming is generally of high appeal to Trump followers:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-the-soul-of-trumps-america-is-clearly-visible-in-the-cbs-schedule/article34409186/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

 

NBC

Guilty pleasures abound on this network for me.  Chicago Fire on Tuesdays (hunky firefighters abound) had a hilariously overwrought episode this past week about a gang of black teenagers taking the entire firehouse hostage.  Chicago Justice on Sundays (also simplistically overwrought) features the blonde and handsome actor Philip Winchester heading up the State Attorney’s dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators as he navigates heated city politics and controversy head-on, while fearlessly pursuing justice.  Sadly, I am finding The Blacklist: Redemption on Thursdays (starring Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen) almost unwatchable as the team of covert mercenaries solves problems that governments “don’t dare touch”.

Despite my digs about guilty pleasures and formulaic programming on Network TV, John Doyle has another great column on Network TV:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-no-new-hits-but-network-tv-is-not-dead-yet/article34377838/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

The CW

If you haven’t yet caught up with Riverdale (Thursdays), see if you can catch it on demand.  Dark and subversively comedic, it’s an Archie’s comic brought to life for millennials.  I also enjoy The 100 on Wednesdays about attractive young people lost in space.

PBS

This wonderful network seems to still be in fundraising mode, but our local affiliate is airing To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters at 9 pm tonight.  British sisters Charlotte (Finn Atkins), Emily (Chloe Pirrie) and Anne (Charlie Murphy)  Bronte write classic 19th-century novels while dealing with their troubled brother (Adam Nagaitis).  Looking forward to this Brit costume drama.  Sigh… English accents and period costumes are my favourites!!

Showtime

When I set up the above program to record tonight, it knocked out two Sunday night favourites of mine, Billions and Homeland (which are both easily time shifted). Both shows originally starred Brit Damian Lewis (red haired, small mouthed).  Although he is long departed from Homeland (still starring Clare Danes as a slightly crazed heroine), he is still playing a ruthless capitalist hedge fund owner (is there any other kind?) on Billions.

TBS

Canadians should be deservedly proud of Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal (Wednesday nights) where Bee fearlessly kicks ass on a weekly basis as she turns her comic gaze on  the political quagmire that has descended upon America.

HBO

Famed for its original programming of high quality dramas (currently Big Little Lies), challenging sitcoms (currently Girls and Crashing).  HBO also is home to two political comedy series (Real Time with Bill Maher on Fridays and Last Week Tonight on Sundays with John Oliver).

Closing Words

I usually write this blog while watching my favourite program of the week, CBS Sunday Morning.  Today’s episode opened with a segment on the polarization of  political news coverage in the US media.  Fascinating stuff.  I then usually catch up on all the other news of the day with Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN.  Zakaria gives a calm and usually dispassionate focus on world events (although last week he went a little nuts using the term bullshit to repeatedly call out the Trump administration’s fast and loose way with the truth).  In conclusion, try not to watch too much political coverage as it will only raise your blood pressure.  Enjoy this beautiful spring weather!!

 

So much to watch, so little time….

OK, true confessions.  I haven’t even watched last week’s Sunday recordings, never mind all the regular weekday stuff. We’ve been partying with lots of friends and have eaten and drunk more these past few days than I care to recall.  I am still feeling the effects of my St. Patrick’s Day special Paddywack cocktails, so from out of my alcohol induced haze, here are some recommendations:

 

On the Big Screen

Beauty and the Beast is not to be missed.  Lush, romantic and full of wonderful songs, this movie couldn’t have been any more enjoyable.  Even if you don’t have a child or grandchild to accompany you, treat yourself to this lovely experience.  It’s beautifully cast, has gorgeous costumes and spectacular sets.  Enjoy!!  By the way, the audience broke into spontaneous applause at the end. Stay for the closing credits, as you will be amazed at the talent behind this film:  Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, etc.  Magical!!

New on Netflix

Iron Fist debuted this weekend.  Starring Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones), and continuing the Marvel series tradition of heroes with mad martial arts skills, Danny Rand is a young man bestowed with mad martial arts skills and a mystical force known as the Iron Fist.  Try it, you might like it!!  I just binged on the first 4 episodes and I am totally hooked.

Hotel Beau Séjour debuted on Netflix recently.  A noir series that begins when a girl wakes up in a hotel room and she finds her own dead body in the bathtub.  She tries to solve her own murder but realises that nobody except 5 people can see her.  She unravels a web of secrets in her seemingly tranquil village.  From Belgium with English subtitles. Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-euro-noir-is-alive-and-well-in-the-excellent-hotel-beau-sejour/article34329832/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

New on Hulu

Shut Eye is a 10 episode miniseries about the world of gypsy fortune tellers and con artists.     Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) plays Charlie Haverford, a scammer with a small chain of fortune-telling storefronts and contracts, who works for a Roma family (headed by Isabella Rossellini) that controls the business in the greater chunk of Los Angeles.  A blow to the head from a client’s angry boyfriend intersects with a hypnosis session while auditioning a new “clairvoyant,” and suddenly, a man whose entire life has been based on fraud begins to see and feel some very real and fundamental truths.  Loved the first couple of episodes!!  Addictive. Here’s a great article from the NY Times:

HBO DOCUMENTARY

Tickled is a documentary from New Zealand.  Journalist David Farrier stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online. As he delves deeper he comes up against fierce resistance, but that doesn’t stop him getting to the bottom of a story stranger than fiction. This is a true spellbinder that reveals how difficult it is to make a documentary film in the face of extremely hostile subjects.

A Note about PBS

In checking the TV Guide, tonight’s regular PBS lineup (Masterpiece Theatre, Masterpiece Mystery, etc.) is being preempted by the usual array of fundraising specials.  Now, more than ever, PBS needs your support.  If you enjoy their excellent lineup of children’s programming, scripted dramas, evening news, public affairs programs, etc., you may want to think about making a donation or at least letting your voice be heard with your elected federal representatives to let them know how important funding the Corporation for Pubic Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts is to you.  These are very worrisome times for those of us who have come to depend on programs like Downton Abbey.  Please support your local PBS station.

Regular Recommendations and shows you might want to catch

Please check last week’s recommendations for regularly scheduled programs.

I did manage to watch the new John Lithgow mockumentary on NBC Tuesdays, Trial and Error, and found it a bit lame and silly, but will give it another chance this week.

If you haven’t caught Riverdale on The CW Thursday (Archie comics revisited), see if you can find it on demand.  Very clever and funny.

American Crime on ABC Sundays has returned with a season about human trafficking. This show is incredibly well written and acted and the series stars a repertory company made up of incredibly powerful actors like Felicity Huffman, Regina King, etc.  This season focuses on an undocumented Mexican worker who discovers modern servitude thriving in an agricultural community; a woman who learns the shocking truth behind a family’s wealth; a social worker who wants a young prostitute to testify against her pimp in court.  

Colony on USA Thursday nights, couldn’t be more timely in its depiction of a world colonized by extraterrestrial tyrants and their human surrogates who carry out their bidding.

Outsiders on WGN Tuesdays (produced by Paul Giammatti) is a great series about poor Appalachians fighting big coal.

Underground on WGN Wednesdays has returned for its second season and continues the search for freedom by slaves headed North.

Imposters (Bravo on Tuesdays) is a dark comedy that focuses on a female con artist who marries men and then disappears with their money.  This terrific new show is very entertaining as her victims band together to hunt her down.

Some Closing Words

I started this blog for my friends who frequently asked me what they should be watching.  Imagine my surprise when I found this fantastic article by an entertainment writer who is frequently asked for TV recommendations.  I love her choices:

How to Recommend TV Shows to Everyone in Your Life

Our time here in Florida is coming to an end.  We have visitors coming during our last 3 weeks here, so it will be very busy.  In the meantime, enjoy beautiful spring weather if you’re in the north (I believe tomorrow is officially the last day of winter, despite the occasional March snowstorm) and for my Florida friends, enjoy our incredibly beautiful endless summer.

 

 

 

I have run out of breath…

I’m having a quiet Sunday. The time change (and several ensuing power outages in our community) has sent our electronics reeling, screwed up our PVR settings, made it very difficult to retrieve email, etc.  Now that things have evidently returned to normal, I am hurriedly composing this blog entry before the power fails again sending my work to oblivion!  So here goes:

Coming to the Big Screen this week

Beauty and the Beast, now a live action musical from Disney, arrives on March 17 when I will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day, so I will be seeing it at our local multiplex on March 18.  It has had rave reviews and of course, stars Dan Stevens as the Beast (Matthew Crawley from the sorely missed Downton Abbey), as well as Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson . Can’t wait!!!

New Shows

Another show that made its debut last week (which I didn’t catch until after it had aired) was Time After Time. A TV adaptation of the 1979 film with David Warner and Malcolm Macdowell which has HG Wells hurtling from Edwardian London into modern day Manhattan as he uses his time machine to try and stop Jack the Ripper from killing in present day NYC.  A ripping yarn so far, I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode.  ABC on Sundays at 9 pm. Here’s what John Doyle has to say about it:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-hollywoods-fascination-with-jack-the-ripper-endures/article34168174/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

American Crime will make its Season 3 debut on ABC tonight.  This terrific series deals with difficult subjects in a very effective and engaging way.  This season will concentrate on human trafficking.  Performers from season to season include a repertory company composed of Felicity Huffman, Regina Davis, Tim Hutton, and many more.  Here’s what Deadline.com has to say about it:

‘American Crime’ Season 3 Review: John Ridley’s Anthology Series Remarkable In Scope

Trial and Error debuts on Mar 14 on NBC at 10. Starring John Lithgow, this mockumentary is about a murder suspect on trial for killing his wife and looks very funny as it is a cross between Parks and Rec and Making a Murderer.

Love from Judd Apatow returned to Netflix on Mar 10. Tales of love and woe for millennials.

Iron Fist joins the Marvel Netflix line-up on Mar. 17.

 

CNN Alert

Farid Zakaria GPS is my go-to expert on World Affairs every Sunday morning at 10.  On Monday night he has a special program about Vladimir Putin called The Most Powerful Man in the World.  Hopefully, more light will be cast upon the alleged influence of Russia on the American political process.

My usual obsessions

Last week I gave a rundown of my nightly PVR recordings.  I exhausted myself doing that, but if you are curious please have a look at them.  I will just highlight now some shows you may be watching that haven’t received much attention:

Sunday

Homeland on Showtime at 9

Big Little Lies on HBO at 9

Feud:  Bette and Joan on FX at 10

The Arrangement on E at 10

Crashing on HBO at 10:30

Girls on HBO at 10

Billions on Showtime at 10

Monday

Humans on AMC at 10

Taken on NBC at 10

Tuesday

The Americans on FX at 10

Outsiders on WGN at 9

Imposters on Bravo at 10

Wednesday

Legion on FX at 10

Designated Survivor on ABC at 10

The Expanse on SyFy at 10

Underground on WGN at 10

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS at 10:30

Thursday

 The Catch on ABC at 10

Colony on USA at 10

Friday

Grimm on NBC at 8

Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO at 10

Saturday

SNL on NBC at 11:30

Comic Relief

OK, so I know it’s a stretch to say SNL hasn’t received much attention, but for comic relief don’t forget about Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sundays at 11 on HBO, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert most weeknights at 11 and 11:30 respectively on Comedy and CBS. Trevor Noah also has a new NETFLIX special called Trevor Noah Afraid of the Dark which is a live performance on Broadway.

Concluding Words

It’s been a little smoky in Southwest Florida this past week because of brushfires and lack of rain.  The weather is supposed to cool this week and they are forecasting rain, but that is  not nearly as dire as the weather forecast for the northeast which is showing very cold temperatures and snow.  Safe driving to all my family and friends!  Enjoy the week, wherever you may be.

 

 

Premiere Alert #2: Designated Survivor Returns

I am so embarrassed!  I thought I had been overly wordy in my last blog post, so I was perhaps a bit quick to publish before I became even more verbose.  However, as a result, I omitted mentioning the return of Designated Survivor (Wed. night at 10 pm on ABC) starring Kiefer Sutherland.  For those of you who have been breathlessly waiting to see how this suspense series develops, wait no more. Set your PVRs.

Premiere alert…The Americans returns!

Unfortunately in my morning post, I missed including The Americans Season 5 return this Tuesday at 10 pn on FX. This riveting series has been described as one of the best on TV.  Starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, it tells the story of two Soviet intelligence agents who pose as a married couple to spy on the American government.  With our daily news being filled with reports of Russian involvement in the American political process and responses of McCarthyism being levelled at the media and all who call for investigations into Russian interference, this series which is set in the 1980’s couldn’t be more timely. Enjoy!!

So much catching up to do…

Well, the Oscars came and went last weekend. As for the fiasco of the botched Best Film award presentation, I feel rather sanguine about it now.  I was delighted to hear that LaLaLand was announced as best picture.  I really enjoyed this lovely musical.  Wistful and full of imaginative touches, I found it a wonderful escape from today’s troubles.  I loved the French musicals The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg that were major influences on this bittersweet love story.  When the mixup became apparent, I was very pleased to see that Moonlight, a truly original film that depicted the life of a young black man in Florida, had been recognized for its courageous storytelling.  In my opinion, the mixup gave both films an opportunity to be honoured.

A Documentary recommendation:

I wrote earlier this year about a wonderful documentary Score that I saw at the Naples International Film Festival.  This film will go into wide release in May, and here is an excerpt from an article from another blogger, Victoria Weisfeld, on this terrific doc:
“The heart of many a memorable motion picture is the musical score that presages, enhances, and evokes emotions as the story unfolds.

In Score, a new documentary set for wide release in May, filmmakers Kenny Holmes and Matt Schrader feature leading film music composers—including John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Quincy Jones, Danny Elfman and Alexandre Desplat—who describe the extraordinary artistry and execution in crafting a memorable score.

Whether they’re talking about their contemporaries or the greats of yesteryear, the composers express a profound admiration that’s born of an intimate understanding of what makes a work groundbreaking or indelible,” wrote Sheri Linden in the Hollywood Reporter.”

 

 

In the Concert Hall

Last night we attended a concert at Artis-Naples, the local symphony hall, of The Hit Men: Legendary Performers with Frankie Valli, Carole King, Cat Stevens and More. Performing with The Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.  This was a very enjoyable evening of music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s performed by a wonderful group of journeymen entertainers.  It was a trip down memory lane for all of us baby boomers in attendance, as so many hits that we grew up with were beautifully performed.

Now, on to TV recommendations:

TV Premieres this Week

Feud airs tonight on ABC.  Directed by Ryan Murphy, it stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and is about their legendary rivalry during their collaboration on the film What Ever happened to Baby Jane.  The series explores how the two women endured ageism,sexism, and misogyny while struggling to hang on to success and fame in the twilight of their careers.

Here’s John Doyle’s article on the series:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-in-feud-two-screen-sirens-battle-each-other-and-hollywoodageism/article34200220/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

The Arrangement airs tonight on E! Purportedly based on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Scientology marriage, the series is about TV actress Megan Morrison who is offered a $10 million marriage contract with Hollywood’s biggest star.This looks like the guilty pleasure show of the year!

Chicago Justice (which is the latest Dick Wolf show set in Chicago, following Chicago PD, Chicago Fire and Chicago Med) debuted this past week on NBC and episode 2 makes its regularly scheduled Sunday night appearance tonight. Although putting this very routine legal drama on the Sunday night schedule  may be very unwise (where it has to compete for an audience against the juggernaut shows of HBO, Showtime, STARZ, AMC and PBS), the show does star Philip Winchester.  This dreamily handsome guy got his start on US TV in 2008 when he starred in Crusoe, and he has since played leading roles in Strikeback and The Player as an action star.  It will be interesting to see how long this legal series will last up against some of the best shows on TV.  Sometimes you just need to watch a very handsome guy pretend to be a lawyer.

Taken premieres on NBC next Saturday night.  If you ever wondered how Liam Neeson acquired that “particular set of skills” as CIA operative Bryan Mills, here’s a picture of the action hero as a young man as former CIA agent Mills deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world, and he fights to overcome the incident and exact revenge.

My usual obsessions:

Today my XFinity recorder gets a workout!  It can record 6 events at one time which comes in very handy when the networks insist on putting their very best offerings on at the same time, so here is my list of what I will be recording today:

9 am CBS News Sunday Morning

10 am Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN

8 pm Mercy Street on PBS

8 pm The Missing on STARZ

9 pm Big Little Lies on HBO

9 pm Homeland on SHOWTIME

9 pm Chicago Justice  (episode 2) on NBC

9 pm Victoria on Masterpiece on PBS

9 pm Black Sails on STARZ

9 pm The Walking Dead on AMC

10 pm Girls on HBO

10 pm Billions on Showtime

10 pm Feud: Bette and Joan on ABC

10 pm The Arrangement on E!

10:30 pm Crashing on HBO

11:00 pm Last Week Tonight on HBO

OK, if you’re overwhelmed at the list above (and thinking I might need some kind of TV intervention), just imagine how challenging it is to try and keep up with these shows.  I still haven’t caught up with the shows from last week as we had the great pleasure of hosting our son Jon for 10 days and had company for golf and dinner this week!

As for my other regular viewing during the week, here’s a rundown:

Monday

7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

8:00 24:LEGACY on FOX

10:00 Humans on AMC

11:00 The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy

11:35 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS

Tuesday

7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

9:00 Outsiders on WGN

10:00 Imposters on Bravo

10:00 Chicago Justice  (episode 3) on NBC

11 and 11:35 Trevor Noah on Comedy and Stephen Colbert on CBS

Wednesday

7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

10:00 The Expanse on SyFy

10:00 Legion on FX

10:30 Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS

11 and 11:35 Noah on Comedy and Colbert on CBS

Thursday

7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

9:00 Riverdale on the CW

9:00 Nashville on CMT

10:00 Colony on USA

11 and 11:35 Noah on Comedy and Colbert on CBS

Friday

7:30 VICE on HBO

8:00 Grimm on NBC

10:00 Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO

11:35 Colbert on CBS

Saturday

9:00 Taken on NBC

11:30 Saturday Night Live on NBC

In Conclusion

Well, that was exhausting!!  Not to mention a little embarrassing, as I have disclosed the many shows I record on a daily basis.  There has been very little rain here and as a result there have been numerous brushfires north of us in the Fort Myers area.  It has been a sublime winter in Naples so far.  Very few of our golf, pickle ball and bocci games have been rained out.  In short, there has been very little cool and miserable weather suitable to staying in and hunkering down on the couch to veg out with guilty pleasure TV viewing.  I am looking forward to the opening of the new Disney live action version of Beauty and the Beast (dreamy Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey is the beast) that is going to open here in Naples on March 17.  It has had wonderful advance reviews!!  George has asked me to round up some ladyfriend volunteers to come and see it with me, so start thinking about it. Whatever your plans, have a wonderful week!