Uh oh, You is back for Season Three and I lost a day…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This past week had a couple of glorious hiking and golfing days, as well as a day of complete gloom and drizzle. I happened to notice that Netflix had new episodes of You available and was promptly sucked in for a full day of viewing yesterday as the rain poured down upon Thornbury. Insanely enjoyable! Here are some other viewing suggestions for you:

On the Big Screen

No Time to Die (2 h 43 m) James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. I loved this film. We saw it in a VIP theatre with socially distanced seating and required masking. Was it worth risking your life to see? It hit all the high notes of a great Bond flick: great music, great action sequences, terrific leading ladies (ana de Armas will steal your heart as a rookie CIA agent), great opening credits, insanely ridiculous ending in the villain’s lair where none of the bad guys can shoot straight. Perhaps the only weak point is the very underplayed role of the villain by Rami Malek. He is sinisterly soft-spoken with a very slight Egyptian accent that my husband had trouble understanding. I, however, thought he was perfect. Here’s a trailer for the film to perk your interest:

Streaming

Ridley Road (Made for BBC, 4 episodes) When Vivien Epstein follows her lover into danger and he is caught between life and death, Vivien finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country. A bit corny and maudlin, it is based on real life run-ins between neo-Nazis and Jews in London’s East End during the ’60’s. I enjoyed it tremendously, as it’s a period of history that hasn’t been dramatized very much.

I’m Your Man (in German with English subtitles, 90 m) In order to obtain research funds for her studies, a scientist accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment; for three weeks she is to live with a humanoid robot, created to make her happy. From the director of Unorthodox, starring an extraordinary Dan Stevens who actually speaks excellent German in this and who makes for one dreamy robot. Funny and surprising!

Dopesick (Made for Hulu, 8 episodes) The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction (specifically Oxycontin), from the boardrooms of Purdue Pharma, to a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA. Heartbreaking story of yet more despair from America’s permanent underclass (Hillbilly Elegy, Mare of Easttown, American Rust, etc.) Michael Keaton and Peter Sarsgaard star. Based on the book by Beth Macy, but you may also enjoy the book Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. The doc series from HBO Crime of the Century also covered the Sackler family’s story and this season’s Goliath deals with a fictionalized version of a similar story.

Kin (8 episodes) Kin tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war and speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Stars Charlie Cox and Aidan Gillen.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this 

Apple TV

The Morning Show (Season 2, 10 episodes) Controversy and betrayal strike TMS as a new year approaches. Alex faces a difficult decision. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup and the rest of the gang are back for more behind the scenes intrigue at UBA. I have to say, that in this case, real life has been far more compelling than this unnecessary dramatization of the Matt Lauer (et al) “Me too” movement stories. This series really does remind me of Aaron Sorkin’s dramas, and I’m not an awfully big fan of his trademark “walk and talk” scenes.

Foundation (10 episodes) A complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. Stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace. I finally watched the first episode and don’t know if I will go back as I found it a little tedious for my tastes (and that was with numerous explosions and intrigue).

Global

Family Law (10 episodes) Uh oh. It’s Canadian and despite beautiful scenery in Vancouver, this one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. Awful and cliched. Hated it. If you’re a Victor Garber fan (and who isn’t) prepare for disappointment as he sleepwalks through his role as the patriarch. I am continuing to hate watch this hoping it will improve.

HBO/Crave

Succession (Season 3 Premiere Today, 9 episodes) Following his bombshell presser, a righteous Kendall scrambles to find a base of operations, while Logan’s team searches for safe harbor. The most dysfunctional dynasty in America fights to find a successor to their evil leader, Logan Roy (very Rupert Murdochesque). wickedly entertaining with a wonderful cast that includes, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Rck, Alexander Skarsgard, Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, et al.

American Rust (9 episodes) A compelling family drama that will explore the tattered American dream through life in a declining town in southwest Pennsylvania. Stars Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney, Mark Pellegrino, Dallas Roberts. Having now watched the first two episodes, it is much less engaging than Mare of Eastown, and lacks a really compelling central mystery, as its about the cover-up of a crime, more than solving the crime itself.

Much Music

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The FarewellCrazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.


Showcase

Dr. Death (8 episodes) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.

The Sinner (Season 4, 6 episodes) Ambrose visits the town of Clark Harbor for a getaway and finds himself at the centre of a tragedy. Bill Pullman stars as the morose Harry Ambrose who is tormented by memories from his 40 year career as a homicide detective.

PBS

Halifax: Retribution (from Australia, 7 episodes) A sniper is on the loose, as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax comes back to the rescue to find the sniper before it’s too late. Rebecca Gibney stars (Wanted) and Anthony LaPaglia plays her boss. Entertaining procedural.

Call the Midwife (Season 10, 7 episodes) Chronicles the lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late-1950’s to late-1960’s. Incredibly touching and heart-rending. Get out your hankies!

Grantchester (Season 6, 8 episodes) A Cambridgeshire clergyman finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoings in his small village of Grantchester. We’ve had a cast change from James Norton (impossibly dishy) to Tom Brittney (moderately dishy) as the troubled vicar. Robson Green is the stalwart police officer who teams up with the vicar.

NBC

La Brea (5 episodes) A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers. Suspend your disbelief with this one and you will be in for a wild ride that is part Lost and part Jurassic Park. I am hate watching this one and enjoying it tremendously!! Great art direction and CGI for the sinkhole part. The prehistoric creatures they encounter in upside-down world will make you howl with laughter.

Ordinary Joe (7 episodes) Centers on Joe Kimbreau as he makes a pivotal, life-changing decision at his college graduation and follows him on three parallel timelines: as a police officer as a music star, and as a nurse. Another high concept show that you just have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy. James Wolk stars as all three Joes.

New Amsterdam (Season 4, 6 episodes) Max and Sharpe wake up to a new, more personal dynamic that could change the future of New Amsterdam. The melodrama continues in this absurd but sometimes entertaining medical series.

ABC

The Good Doctor (Season 5, 4 episodes) See above for New Amsterdam. Now Shaun and Lea are engaged to be married and the melodrama continues in this absurd but sometimes entertaining medical series.

Netflix

Pick of the Week

You (Season 3, 10 episodes) This show has now eclipsed Squid Game amongst Netflix’s popular offerings!! Now married with a young baby, Love and Joe try to forge a normal life in the affluent San Francisco suburb of Madre Linda, but old habits die hard. Very black humour here as two psychopaths try to be normal.

W

Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’ve found a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy. If you liked Offspring, this may be right up your alley.

Guilty Pleasure Viewing

I can’t help myself:  The Rookie has returned on ABC, and I keep trying to declare it dead to me because of its absurd plots; all three varieties of FBI (original, Most Wanted and now International) are on CBS; I record Jeopardy every night and had the very sad experience watching Matt Amodio fall to a new and insufferable champion, Jonathan Fisher, an actor from Coral Gables. Florida; I turn to The View (which I record daily) hoping that fisticuffs will break out amongst the panelists who almost always agree with each other these days; every Sunday morning after I write this blog I reward myself with CBS Sunday Morning for its wonderful human interest stories and celebrity profiles. 

Closing Words

Today our patio furniture is being put in the garage, the pool has been closed and we are still struggling with whether we fly to Florida as originally planned, or take advantage of the Nov. 8 border reopening and drive our car down 13 days later than we had anticipated. I know that’s a pretty nice dilemma to have to face. Our son arrives today to help with the furniture moving so we are really looking forward to spending some time with him before we leave. As I mentioned, I am really going to miss my daily visits with Jeopardy champ, Matt Amodio, however, his 15 minutes of fame will live on forever through You Tube.

Here are some reminders of what a lovely young man he is:

Squid game mania…

As Squid Game is now the number one worldwide favourite on Netflix, my husband and I decided to give it a look and promptly lost the next nine hours of our weekend. We still managed to get Thanksgiving Dinner on the table for our family yesterday and today we are headed out with our kids to see the latest James Bond movie. I haven’t been in an actual movie theatre since the early winter of 2020, so I am dying to see Daniel Craig in his last outing as Bond. Here are some other viewing suggestions for you:

On the Big Screen

No Time to Die (2 h 43 m) James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen star. Can’t wait to see this later this morning!!!

Netflix

Pick of the Week:

Squid Game (in Korean, with English subtitles, 9 episodes) Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits with deadly high stakes. A survival game that has a whopping 45.6 billion-won prize at stake. There is something hypnotic about this series that makes you stay tuned to see how the participants in the game are going to manage. This is definitely not a program for the faint of heart, but there is real humanity at its core. It differs from much of the post apocalyptic dystopian nightmare fare that is available, in that it is happening in our own timeframe, where life on earth has become so hellish for these participants that they are wiling to risk everything for a chance at a better life. It’s a phenomenon!

ABC

Big Sky (Season 2, 10 episodes) The search for Ronald continues and now we have a new mystery to deal with as some idiotic teenagers watch a car crash and then make off with the stolen money and drugs. John Carroll Lynch makes a return appearance as an evil twin! I am enjoying this fairly gritty (for broadcast TV) suspense series.

Apple

Ted Lasso (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope, although the latest episode deals with the subject of fathers and sons and Ted finally reveals the tragedy that is at the heart of his optimistic veneer. Very touching.

Foundation (10 episodes) A complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. Stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace. I haven’t caught up with it yet, but it’s on my list.

The Morning Show (Season 2, 10 episodes) Controversy and betrayal strike TMS as a new year approaches. Alex faces a difficult decision. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup and the rest of the gang are back for more behind the scenes intrigue at UBA. I have to say, that in this case, real life has been far more compelling than this unnecessary dramatization of the Matt Lauer (et al) “Me too” movement stories. This series really does remind me of Aaron Sorkin’s dramas, and I’m not an awfully big fan of his trademark “walk and talk” scenes.

CTV

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Long and dull. Great for snoozing through.

FX

Y: The Last Man (10 episodes) Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Y is the last surviving male human on the planet. Based on the comic series Y: The Last Man. This is a high concept show that you just have to go with, regardless of how inexplicable the premise is. I am 5 episodes in and have found it intriguing. Ben Schnetzer stars and I finally recognized him as the star of The Grizzlies, one of the most enjoyable Canadian films ever. The show is mostly shot in Toronto, so look for Canadian actors to make character appearances, notably Paul Gross (Due South) appears very briefly as the US President Ted Campbell.

American Horror Story: Double Feature: Take me to your leader (10 episodes) We have now begun the second feature. A group of college students on a camping trip are swept up in a horrifying and deadly conspiracy decades in the making. You will be amazed by the recreation of 1950’s America where Eisenhower takes a major part in the beginning of this story.

What we Do in the Shadows (Season 3, 10 episodes) The Staten Island house of vampires is back for a third fun filled season. Guillermo has been promoted from familiar to bodyguard and the vampire crew now have a leadership position.

Global

Family Law (10 episodes) Uh oh. It’s Canadian and despite beautiful scenery in Vancouver, this one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. Awful and cliched. Hated it. If you’re a Victor Garber fan (and who isn’t) prepare for disappointment as he sleepwalks through his role as the patriarch. I am continuing to hate watch this hoping it will improve.

Much Music

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The FarewellCrazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

NBC

The Big Leap (3 episodes) A group of diverse underdogs from all different walks of life who compete to be part of a competition reality series that is putting on a modern, hip remake of “Swan Lake.” Stars Scott Foley (The Unit, Felicity, Scandal) as an unscrupulous producer. This show is kind of batshit crazy as it purports to show the behind the scenes maneuvering at a reality program, but I have fallen under its nutty spell.

Ordinary Joe (7 episodes) Centers on Joe Kimbreau as he makes a pivotal, life-changing decision at his college graduation and follows him on three parallel timelines: as a police officer as a music star, and as a nurse. Another high concept show that you just have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy. James Wolk stars as all three Joes.

La Brea (5 episodes) A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers. Suspend your disbelief with this one and you will be in for a wild ride that is part Lost and part Jurassic Park. I am hate watching this one and enjoying it tremendously!! Great art direction and CGI for the sinkhole part. The prehistoric creatures they encounter in upside-down world will make you howl with laughter.

PBS

Call the Midwife (Season 10, 7 episodes) Chronicles the lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late-1950’s to late-1960’s. Incredibly touching and heart-rending. Get out your hankies!

Grantchester (Season 6, 8 episodes) A Cambridgeshire clergyman finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoings in his small village of Grantchester. We’ve had a cast change from James Norton (impossibly dishy) to Tom Brittney (moderately dishy) as the troubled vicar. Robson Green is the stalwart police officer who teams up with the vicar.

Showcase

Dr. Death (8 episodes) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.

Streaming

Kin (8 episodes) Kin tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war and speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Stars Charlie Cox and Aidan Gillen.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this show. And I am not a wrestling fan.

W

Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’re looking for a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy. If you liked Offspring, this may be right up your alley.

Guilty Pleasure Viewing

I can’t help myself:  The Rookie has returned on ABC; New Amsterdam has returned on NBC; all three varieties of FBI (original, Most Wanted and now International) are on CBS; I record Jeopardy every night to watch Matt Amodio steamroller his way past another two hapless contestants; I turn to The View (which I record daily) hoping that fisticuffs will break out amongst the panelists who almost always agree with each other these days; every Sunday morning after I write this blog I reward myself with CBS Sunday Morning for its wonderful human interest stories and celebrity profiles. 

Kin (8 episodes) Kin tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war and speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Stars Charlie Cox and Aidan Gillen.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this show. And I am not a wrestling fan.

Closing Words

We had a totally Toronto few days this past week with one day spent as tourists in our own town. We saw the Picasso show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, followed by lunch with our son in the Gallery Bistro and then David treated us to a tour of his fabulous new recording studio right across from the AGO. We then returned to the gallery for the Andy Warhol show. Two great exhibitions in one day!! But honestly, having lunch with our son and then seeing where he actually works was the best part of all. We had family Thanksgiving yesterday and today we are really looking forward to our first movie outing in a real theatre in ages. Back to Thornbury this afternoon for some golf, Mahjong and get-togethers with friends. I hope you enjoy this cat-lovers’ video as much as I did:

OK, equal time for parrot lovers:

When you’re watching adorable animals talk to each other, the problems of the world don’t amount to a hill of beans. YouTube therapy!

Bingewatch of the week…

The leaves are turning in Thornbury and we have had a bit of a reprieve with the weather with some gloriously sunny and hot days. I walked one of our local Beaver River trails with some neighbours yesterday and we were shocked by how hot and humid it was! I got sucked down the rabbit hole afterwards when I tuned into Maid on Netflix and found myself watching the first 5 episodes. No mystery or crime but a tremendous character study of a woman fighting for survival as she leaves an abusive relationship with her young daughter in tow. I was riveted! Meanwhile, here are some other suggestions for you:

Live on Stage

Our local Meaford Hall is bravely trying to re-introduce live music and theatre in post-Covid times. We saw Ashley McIsaac last week being showcased as part of the Artists’ Lives series. The show was about 50% performance and 50% narrative. I have been a longtime fan of McIsaac’s music. He was the pre-eminent Cape Breton fiddler in the early part of his career. His life was derailed by drugs, poor life choices and a personality that is larger than life. His 2003 autobiography was titled Fiddling with Disaster. I came away from the evening admiring his honesty but worrying about his longevity. His career peaked at a very young age and he has been unable to regain his place on the music scene.

Amazon Prime

Birds of Paradise (90 m) Two girls at an elite Parisian ballet academy have their bond and bodies tested as they compete for a contract to join the company of the Opera National de Paris. I confess that I watched this solely for the performance by Jacqueline Bisset as the imperious ballet school director. I have had a girlcrush on her for many years. The two lead actresses have distressingly flat deliveries, but if you are looking for a current ballet melodrama, then this is your film. Beautiful shots of Paris in a film that is mostly shot in Budapest.

Showcase

Dr. Death (8 episodes) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.

Netflix

The Chestnut Man (from Denmark with English subtitles) A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hand is missing. Above her hangs a small man made of chestnuts. I am a sucker for Scandinavian noir and this one ticks all the boxes! Dark and suspenseful!! A mismatched pair of detectives forced to work together! A dodgy forensics specialist!

Diana: The Musical (1 h 57 m) The dazzling and devastating life of Princess Diana takes centre stage in this original musical, filmed in advance of its official Broadway opening. I love musicals, but even I found this one a little long. If you are a fan of The Crown, you will love this. Great costumes for Diana.

**Pick of the Week

Maid (10 episodes) After fleeing an abusive relationship, a young mother finds a job cleaning houses as she fights to provide for her child and build them a better future. Margaret Qualley stars and true fact: Andie MacDowell who is Qualley’s mother in real life plays her bipolar mother in this. I loved this little series for its humanity.


FX

Y: The Last Man (10 episodes) Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Y is the last surviving male human on the planet. Based on the comic series Y: The Last Man. This is a high concept show that you just have to go with, regardless of how inexplicable the premise is. I am 5 episodes in and have found it intriguing. Ben Schnetzer stars and I finally recognized him as the star of The Grizzlies, one of the most enjoyable Canadian films ever. The show is mostly shot in Toronto, so look for Canadian actors to make character appearances, notably Paul Gross (Due South) appears very briefly as the US President Ted Campbell.

American Horror Story: Double Feature: Take me to your leader (10 episodes) We have now begun the second feature. A group of college students on a camping trip are swept up in a horrifying and deadly conspiracy decades in the making. You will be amazed by the recreation of 1950’s America where Eisenhower takes a major part in the beginning of this story.

What we Do in the Shadows (Season 3, 10 episodes) The Staten Island house of vampires is back for a third fun filled season. Guillermo has been promoted from familiar to bodyguard and the vampire crew now have a leadership position within their vampire association. 

Global

Family Law (10 episodes) Uh oh. It’s Canadian and despite beautiful scenery in Vancouver, this one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. Awful and cliched. Hated it. If you’re a Victor Garber fan (and who isn’t) prepare for disappointment as he sleepwalks through his role as the patriarch. I am continuing to hate watch this hoping it will improve.

Much Music

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The FarewellCrazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.


PBS

American Experience: Citizen Hearst (2 episodes) William Randolph Hearst’s media empire in the 1930’s included 28 newspapers, a movie studio, a syndicated wire service radio stations, and 13 magazines. I am still stuck on episode 1, which I have found a little slow for my tastes. Where’s all the tabloid journalism and sensationalism? Still waiting in hope.

**Returning tonight for new seasons:

Call the Midwife (Season 10, 7 episodes) Chronicles the lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late-1950’s to late-1960’s. Incredibly touching and heart-rending. Get out your hankies!

Grantchester (Season 6, 8 episodes) A Cambridgeshire clergyman finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoings in his small village of Grantchester. We’ve had a cast change from James Norton (impossibly dishy) to Tom Brittney (moderately dishy) as the troubled vicar. Robson Green is the stalwart police officer who teams up with the vicar.


CTV

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Long and dull. Great for snoozing through.


NBC

The Big Leap (3 episodes) A group of diverse underdogs from all different walks of life who compete to be part of a competition reality series that is putting on a modern, hip remake of “Swan Lake.” Stars Scott Foley (The Unit, Felicity, Scandal) as an unscrupulous producer. This show is kind of batshit crazy as it purports to show the behind the scenes maneuvering at a reality program, but I have fallen under its nutty spell.

Ordinary Joe (7 episodes) Centers on Joe Kimbreau as he makes a pivotal, life-changing decision at his college graduation and follows him on three parallel timelines: as a police officer as a music star, and as a nurse. Another high concept show that you just have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy. James Wolk stars as all three Joes.

La Brea (5 episodes) A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers. Suspend your disbelief with this one and you will be in for a wild ride that is part Lost and part Jurassic Park. I am hate watching this one and enjoying it tremendously!! Great art direction and CGI for the sinkhole part. The prehistoric creatures they encounter in upside-down world will make you howl with laughter.

Streaming

Kin (8 episodes) Kin tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war and speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Stars Charlie Cox and Aidan Gillen.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this show. And I am not a wrestling fan.

W

Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’re looking for a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy. If you liked Offspring, this may be right up your alley.

Guilty Pleasure Viewing

I can’t help myself:  The Rookie returned last week on ABC; New Amsterdam returned last week on NBC; all three varieties of FBI (original, Most Wanted and now International) are on CBS; I tape Jeopardy every night to watch Matt Amodio steamroller his way past another two hapless contestants; I turn to The View (which I record daily) hoping that fisticuffs will break out amongst the panelists who almost always agree with each other these days; every Sunday morning after I write this blog I reward myself with CBS Sunday Morning for its wonderful human interest stories and celebrity profiles. 

Closing Words

We’ve booked our flight down to Florida in late October and are anxiously awaiting news of a possible border reopening in November, allowing us to drive our own car down. Fingers crossed! Canadian Thanksgiving approaches this week and we are headed down to TO for a family celebration and some medical and cultural appointments. We are actually going to a show at the Art Gallery! The latest James Bond movie opens this week and we are looking forward to a family movie night in an actual movie theatre to see it!!! Meanwhile, as Florida is very much on my mind these days, I thought you might enjoy this piece of video about a very brave (and foolish?) Florida man:

Bingewatching again on a drizzly day…

It would appear that new series and films are debuting on Netflix, Amazon Prime and even the broadcast networks. Make sure you have plenty of time to watch if you start watching my Pick of the Week, Midnight Mass on Netflix. I don’t know where my day went yesterday, but I sure enjoyed the wild ride. Meanwhile, here are some other suggestions for you:

Amazon Prime

Le Bal des Folles/The Mad Women’s Ball (in French with English subtitles, 2 h 2 m) A woman who is unfairly institutionalized at a Paris asylum plots to escape with the help of one of its nurses. Based on the novel “Le Bal des Folles” by Victoria Mas. Incredibly touching and beautifully filmed. If you enjoyed Le Bazar de la Charite (aka The Bonfire of Destiny) you will love this.

Goliath (Season 4, 8 episodes) Recovering from a world-shattering injury, Billy reunites with Patty at a prestigious white-shoe law firm in San Francisco to take down the opioid industry. Although he may have found a friend in the firm’s managing partner, Sam Margolis, who’s dealing with a slew of physical struggles of her own, Billy’s discomfort in the corporate environment causes a stir with the rest of the firm. Stars Billy Bob Thornton. I haven’t caught up with this yet, but it’s on the list.

Nine Perfect Strangers (8 episodes) Nine stressed city dwellers visit a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. The resort’s director is a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. The terrific cast includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Asher Keddie (from Offspring) and Samara Weaving. Nicole Kidman reminds me of Melania Trump with her slavic accent and mysterious slitty eyes. Mysterious and engrossing initially, it kind of sputtered out by the end, and I can’t say I will miss it.

Apple

Mr. Corman (10 episodes) A deep cut into the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. A wonderful cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arturo Castro, Debra Winger star. The latest episode explores all the different paths Corman’s life could have taken.

Ted Lasso (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope, although the latest episode deals with the subject of fathers and sons and Ted finally reveals the tragedy that is at the heart of his optimistic veneer. Very touching.

Foundation (10 episodes) A complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. Stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace. I haven’t caught up with it yet, but it’s on my list.

The Morning Show (Season 2, 10 episodes) Controversy and betrayal strike TMS as a new year approaches. Alex faces a difficult decision. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup and the rest of the gang are back for more behind the scenes intrigue at UBA. I have to say, that in this case, real life has been far more compelling than this unnecessary dramatization of the Matt Lauer (et al) “Me too” movement stories. This series really does remind me of Aaron Sorkin’s dramas, and I’m not an awfully big fan of his trademark “walk and talk” scenes.

Crave

American Rust (9 episodes) A compelling family drama that will explore the tattered American dream through life in a declining town in southwest Pennsylvania. Stars Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney, Mark Pellegrino, Dallas Roberts. Having now watched the first two episodes, it is much less engaging than Mare of Eastown, and lacks a really compelling central mystery, as its about the cover-up of a crime, more than solving the crime itself.

Billions (last part of Season 5 returned last week) US Attorney Chuck Rhoades goes after hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in a battle between two powerful NYC figures. Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff and David Costabile star.

CTV

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Long and dull. Great for snoozing through.

FX

Impeachment: American Crime Story (10 episodes) The Monica Lewinsky story that led to Clinton’s impeachment. I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, but the early reviews are very positive. Stars Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein, Annaleigh Ashford, Margo Martindale and Edie Falco.

American Horror Story: Double Feature: Blood Buffet (10 episodes) The dark history of Provincetown is explored. Stars Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Macaulay Culkin, Denis O’Hare who are among Ryan Murphy’s repertory players. The violence in this vampire tale is not for the faint of heart.

What we Do in the Shadows (Season 3, 10 episodes) The Staten Island house of vampires is back for a third fun filled season. Guillermo has been promoted from familiar to bodyguard and the vampire crew now have a leadership position within their vampire association.

Global

Family Law (10 episodes) Uh oh. It’s Canadian and despite beautiful scenery in Vancouver, this one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. Awful and cliched. Hated it. If you’re a Victor Garber fan (and who isn’t) prepare for disappointment as he sleepwalks through his role as the patriarch.

Much Music

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The FarewellCrazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Netflix

Pick of the Week

Midnight Mass (7 episodes) An isolated island community experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – after the arrival of a charismatic mysterious young priest. Hamish Linklater (Legion, Tell me Your Secrets) is excellent as the priest, and Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) is wonderful as his foil, a man released from prison for a crime he can never forgive himself. This religion based horror series may stay with you long after you have finished watching. Wonderful hymns provide the hauntingly evocative musical score.

Dancing Queens (1 h 50 m) The story of Dylan Pettersson, a 23-year-old girl from a small island in the Swedish archipelago with big dancing aspirations. As a lover of all things Scandinavian, I can now attest that this little film stands as evidence that the Swedes can make very sweet family entertainment as well as gritty crime dramas. So interesting that this little movie about drag queens has come out on Netflix at the same time as Amazon Prime has released Everyone’s Talking about Jamie.

Kate (1 h 46 m, although it seemed much longer.) a female assassin has 24 hours to get vengeance on her murderer before she dies. Have we seen this type of action flick starring a female protagonist before (oh yes), but not with the actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the title role. If you are in the mood for an action thriller set in Tokyo then you might like this one.

Ganglands (in French with English subtitles, 6 episodes) Mehdi, an expert engineer of heists, and Liana, an apprentice thief, get involved in a turf war between drug dealers, and have to collaborate in order to save their loved ones. More twists and turns than I can count. Brutal and fast paced crime series with a French twist.

CBC/CBC Gem

Moonshine (8 episodes) Moonshine is a raucous one-hour dramedy that tells the story of the Finley-Cullens, a dysfunctional family of adult half-siblings battling to take control over the family business. I really wanted to love this very Canadian show featuring Etobicoke’s own comic treasure (Emma Hunter who went to the same school as my children) and the great Jennifer Finnigan (you will recognize her from many previous roles including Tyrant, Salvation, Prom, etc.) However, it is extremely cartoonish in its depiction of most of the characters even though it shows off Nova Scotia as the beautiful place it is.

CBC Docs/POV: Born Bad (1 h) There is currently a $600-million class action lawsuit moving through the courts for the horrific abuses that took place in Ontario’s system of “training schools”. These were jails for children from poor families who were summarily classified as “juvenile delinquents” and shuffled off to small towns where they were routinely physically and sexually abused by a staff the was often ex-military or ex-police with no training in education. Heartbreaking and tough to watch, it is an eye-opener to this period that lasted from the 1950’s to the 1980’s where children from the working poor who often came from families with drug or alcohol problems were routinely locked up and thrown away.


PBS

Muhammad Ali (8 h) Directed by Ken Burns, this is an in-depth look at the life of boxer, Mjhammad Ali, including his years as an activist and philanthropist.

NBC

The Big Leap (3 episodes) A group of diverse underdogs from all different walks of life who compete to be part of a competition reality series that is putting on a modern, hip remake of “Swan Lake.” Stars Scott Foley (The Unit, Felicity, Scandal) as an unscrupulous producer. This show is kind of batshit crazy as it purports to show the behind the scenes maneuvering at a reality program, but I have fallen under its nutty spell.

Showcase

Dr. Death (8 episodes) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.

W

Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’re looking for a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy. If you liked Offspring, this may be right up your alley.


Streaming

Kin (made for AMC+, 8 episodes) Kin tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war and speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Charlie Cox, Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy star. So Irish! Shows the gritty side of Dublin.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this show. And I am not a wrestling fan.

Guilty Pleasure Viewing

I can’t help myself: The Rookie returns tonight on ABC; New Amsterdam returned this week on NBC; I tape Jeopardy every night to watch Matt Amodio steamroller his way past another two hapless contestants; I turn to The View (which I record daily) hoping that fisticuffs will break out amongst the panelists who almost always agree with each other these days; every Sunday morning after I write this blog I reward myself with CBS Sunday Morning for its wonderful human interest stories and celebrity profiles.

Closing Words

If you’re a fan of Broadway, don’t forget to watch the Tony Awards tonight (9 pm on CBS). Life has been tough on a darkened Broadway for the last year and a half of theatre closings and that will be reflected in tonight’s broadcast. Most of the awards will be announced during the first two hours (starts at 7 pm and is available only on the streaming service Paramount+).

The second half of the evening will consist of a concert at which stars of the theatre world will perform classic and contemporary show tunes. That portion of the event, called “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back,” will be hosted by Leslie Odom Jr. and broadcast on CBS, and it will include three big awards, for best musical best play and best play revival. Plays and musicals that opened between April 2019 and Feb. 2020 will be eligible. Because of Covid, the whole process has been cancelled and rescheduled several times. I am rooting for Aaron Tveit of “Moulin Rouge” as best actor in a musical. He is the only nominee as there were so many jukebox musicals which lacked original scores. He needs a 60% vote so I’m hoping the theatre community loves him. Watch for the razzle dazzle musical numbers this show is known for.

Here’s a preview of the awards:

Hatewatching…I can’t believe I watched the whole thing!

After a very eventful week which included three days in Toronto for my mother-in-law’s funeral, and two dinners with longtime friends, we returned to Thornbury and I attempted to immerse myself in some bingewatching. I have very sad news to report about Netflix’s On the Verge series. Meanwhile, here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Amazon Prime

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (1 h 55 m) Feature film adaptation of the musical about a teenager from Sheffield, England who wants to be a drag queen. I saw this on the London stage and loved it for its feel good message about following your dream. Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) delivers a knock out song that will make you cry with “He’s My Boy.” I don’t know if she does all her own singing in this, but this number made me tear up in the theatre and she sings it beautifully. Richard E. Grant is also a scene stealer in this as the aging drag queen who helps Jamie achieve his dream. Not for everybody, but I did enjoy it.

Apple

Ted Lasso  (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope, although the latest episode deals with the subject of fathers and sons and Ted finally reveals the tragedy that is at the heart of his optimistic veneer. Very touching.

Mr. Corman (10 episodes) A deep cut into the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. A wonderful cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arturo Castro, Debra Winger star. The latest episode explores all the different paths Corman’s life could have taken.

Netflix

On the Verge (12X30 m episodes) This was my hatewatching binge. Four women: a chef, a single mom, an heiress and a job seeker dig into love and work, with a generous side of midlife crises, in pre-pandemic LA. Oh my. I do have a girl crush on Julie Delpy, but after this (she is credited as director, writer and star), I may never be able to watch her again. So hopelessly self indulgent. There is not a likeable character in the whole series, and that incredibly involves all the wives, husbands and children. This was my hatewatch show and I did manage to snooze through most of the episodes, so watch at your own risk. You have been warned.

JJ + E (Swedish with English subtitles, 1 h 30 m) Two youngsters are raised in the same city, yet they live light years apart, separated economically, socially and culturally. That is until the day they start in the same high school class. Full disclosure: I am mad about all things Scandinavian, however, this movie has nothing new to say at all. Leave it for the young adults to enjoy.

Much Music

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The FarewellCrazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

FX

Impeachment: American Crime Story (10 episodes) The Monica Lewinsky story that led to Clinton’s impeachment. I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, but the early reviews are very positive. Stars Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein, Annaleigh Ashford, Margo Martindale and Edie Falco.

American Horror Story: Double Feature: Blood Buffet (10 episodes) The dark history of Provincetown is explored. Stars Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Macaulay Culkin, Denis O’Hare who are among Ryan Murphy’s repertory players. The violence in this vampire tale is not for the faint of heart.

What we Do in the Shadows (Season 3, 10 episodes) The Staten Island house of vampires is back for a third fun filled season. Guillermo has been promoted from familiar to bodyguard and the vampire crew now have a leadership position within their vampire association. Taika Waititi played a cameo role in the latest episode.

Crave

American Rust (9 episodes) A compelling family drama that will explore the tattered American dream through life in a declining town in southwest Pennsylvania. Stars Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney, Mark Pellegrino, Dallas Roberts. Having now watched the first two episodes, it is much less engaging than Mare of Eastown, and lacks a really compelling central mystery, as its about the cover-up of a crime, more than solving the crime itself.

Billions (last part of Season 5 returned last week) US Attorney Chuck Rhoades goes after hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in a battle between two powerful NYC figures. Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff and David Costabile star.

CTV

Surreal Estate  (10 episodes) Realtor Nck Roman and an elite team of specialists handle the cases that no one else can: haunted and possessed houses that literally scare would-be buyers away. I am cheering for this little Canadian supernatural series as I love tales of the occult when they are well done.

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Long and dull. Great for snoozing through.

Global

Family Law (10 episodes) Uh oh. It’s Canadian and despite beautiful scenery in Vancouver, this one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. Awful and cliched. Hated it. If you’re a Victor Garber fan (and who isn’t) prepare for disappointment as he sleepwalks through his role as the patriarch.

PBS

Guilt (from BBC, 8 episodes) Two brothers accidentally run over and kill an old man. Despite covering their tracks, their lives start to fall apart when neighbours and relatives of the dead an begin to have doubts about the way he died. Stars Mark Bonnar, Ruth Bradley and Jamie Sives. Oh so dark…

Showcase

**Dr. Death (8 episodes) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.

W

Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’re looking for a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy. If you liked Offspring, this may be right up your alley.

Streaming

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this show. And I am not a wrestling fan.

Don’t Breathe (1 h 28 m) Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems. Despite watching the sequel to this, I found the original way too suspenseful for me and I had to turn it off about a 1/2 hour in as I couldn’t watch between scenes of mayhem. I think my horror film days are behind me. Just like rollercoasters, I think I am too old for this stuff. My children forced me to watch the sequel which was way more cartoonish than this one.

Disney

Only Murders in the Building (10 Episodes) Three strangers who share an obsession with true crime suddenly find themselves caught up in one. Stars Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and the scene stealing Martin Short who has never been funnier than he is in this. Full confession: I am finding this series a little tedious and only lasted a short while into the most recent episode before I fled looking for something more amusing to watch.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher has returned from hiatus. Trevor Noah returns with a new format starting September 13. Samantha Bee has now also returned from hiatus, as has Colbert. I catch up with Seth Meyers, and James Corden on You Tube. John Oliver has returned to HBO! We are finding things to laugh about again that aren’t all about Trump or Covid!!!

Closing Words

Enjoy what’s left of this beautiful late summer weather. I hear that rain clouds are coming back with a vengeance this week. Don’t forget to watch The Emmy Awards tonight at 8 pm on CBS if you want to watch an in-person, socially distanced broadcast, hosted by Cedric The Entertainer. There is a mind boggling amount of content to contend with, but here’s a summary of the nominations:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/73rd_Primetime_Emmy_Awards

Wrapping up summer…


We are headed back to Toronto for a few days this week to reconnect with family and honour George’s mother with a graveside ceremony. We’ll also see some longtime friends and I will be presenting to our book group as we discuss Diana Moseley, the glamorous Mitford sister who married the head of the British Fascist Union and spent most of WWII in prison. I don’t know why I am so fascinated by these six Mitford sisters whose heyday was in the 1930’s and ’40s but reading about them takes me to my happy place dreaming about the British aristocracy and the age of Bright Young Things. Meanwhile, here are some recommendations for you:

Live on Stage

Live theatre has returned to the Meaford Hall! We enjoyed a recent production of Old Love by Norm Foster. This two character production came to us via the Orillia Opera House. I have to confess to a weakness for Norm Foster’s comedies. He is Canada’s most prolific playwright and his plays are produced by local theatre companies all over the country. The production we saw was presented with social distancing and masks in place for the audience. What a wonderful feeling it was to enjoy an actual live performance again. Old Love is a wonderfully-spun story about the chance meetings over thirty years of Bud, a salesman, and Molly, his boss’s wife. We meet the people that populate their lives, chronicled with Norm Foster’s trademark wit, warmth and laughter every step of the way.

Amazon Prime

Cinderella (1 h 53 m) A modern movie musical with a bold take on the classic fairy tale. Our ambitious heroine has big dreams and with the help of her fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true. Awful, awful, dreck! You have been warned. This musical is hopelessly inept as it makes the Cinderella tale into one about female empowerment and all the songs are taken from today’s pop hits. Why, why did they have to take this beloved fairy tale and distort it into this cringeworthy mess of a movie.

Nine Perfect Strangers (8 episodes) Nine stressed city dwellers visit a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. The resort’s director is a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. The terrific cast includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Asher Keddie (from Offspring) and Samara Weaving. Nicole Kidman reminds me of Melania Trump with her slavic accent and mysterious slitty eyes. Mysterious and engrossing.

Apple

Ted Lasso  (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope, although the latest episode deals with the subject of fathers and sons and Ted finally reveals the tragedy that is at the heart of his optimistic veneer. Very touching.

Mr. Corman (10 episodes) A deep cut into the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. A wonderful cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arturo Castro, Debra Winger star. The latest episode explores all the different paths Corman’s life could have taken.

Netflix

Worth (1 h 58 m) My whole family watched this film together and were respectful of its solemnity as it tells the story of an attorney in Washington, D.C. who battles against cynicism, bureaucracy and politics to help the victims of 9/11. Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci and Tate Donovan star. Probably a bit long and sad for most people.

CBC Gem

Faits Divers (from Quebec, with English subtitles, Season 1, 10 episodes) A triple murder shatters the calm of a small Quebec town. Unbelievably complex and intriguing. I was hooked until the crimes got solved. Loved it!! I have now watched the first two seasons and will wait hopefully for Seasons 3 & 4 to make their way to CBC Gem.

CBS

Jeopardy (30 minutes)Simply the most enjoyable show on TV these days! In comparison with much of today’s dark programming, this show stands out as a beacon of hope in a pandemic world. Informative and exciting! Matt Amodio is now the 3rd highest earning contestant ever, and he will continue in the Fall. Mike Richards filmed 5 episodes before resigning under the pressure of past bad behaviour which came back to haunt him. The search for a new host continues although the five shows Richards already filmed will air in Sept. starting on Sept. 13!!!

Comedy

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

FX

Impeachment: American Crime Story (10 episodes) The Monica Lewinsky story that led to Clinton’s impeachment. I haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, but the early reviews are very positive. Stars Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein, Annaleigh Ashford, Margo Martindale and Edie Falco.

American Horror Story: Double Feature: Blood Buffet (10 episodes) The dark history of Provincetown is explored. Stars Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Macaulay Culkin, Denis O’Hare who are among Ryan Murphy’s repertory players. The violence in this vampire tale is not for the faint of heart.

What we Do in the Shadows (Season 3, 10 episodes) The Staten Island house of vampires is back for a third fun filled season. Guillermo has been promoted from familiar to bodyguard and the vampire crew now have a leadership position within their vampire association. Taika Waititi played a cameo role in the latest episode.

Showcase

**Dr. Death (8 episodes, premieres tonight) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.

W

Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’re looking for a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy.

Streaming

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I really enjoyed the first four episodes of this show.

The Protege (1 h 49 m) Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody, Anna is the world’s most skilled contracted killer. However when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows. Stars Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton. Directed by Martin Campbell (several Bond films), there is a bit of a deja vu feeling about this action flick, however, Maggie Q is awfully good in this.

HBO/Crave

**American Rust (9 episodes, premieres tonight) A compelling family drama that will explore the tattered American dream through theft town in southwest Pennsylvania. Stars Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney, Mark Pellegrino, Dallas Roberts. Sounds like we may be in for a little Mare of Easttown vibe.

**Scenes from a Marriage (5 episodes, premieres tonight) It re-examines Ingmar Bergman’s original iconic depiction of love, hatred, desire, monogamy, marriage and divorce through the lens of a contemporary American couple, played by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.

Billions (last part of Season 5 returned last week) US Attorney Chuck Rhoades goes after hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in a battle between two powerful NYC figures. Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff and David Costabile star.

PBS

Guilt (from BBC, 8 episodes) Two brothers accidentally run over and kill an old man. Despite covering their tracks, their lives start to fall apart when neighbours and relatives of the dead an begin to have doubts about the way he died. Stars Mark Bonnar, Ruth Bradley and Jamie Sives. Oh so dark…

CTV

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Long and dull. Great for snoozing through.

Surreal Estate (10 episodes) Realtor Nck Roman and an elite team of specialists handle the cases that no one else can: haunted and possessed houses that literally scare would-be buyers away. I am cheering for this little Canadian supernatural series as I love tales of the occult when they are well done.

Disney

Only Murders in the Building (10 Episodes) Three strangers who share an obsession with true crime suddenly find themselves caught up in one. Stars Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and the scene stealing Martin Short who has never been funnier than he is in this.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher has returned from hiatus. Trevor Noah returns with a new format starting September 13. Samantha Bee has now also returned from hiatus, as has Colbert. I catch up with Seth Meyers, and James Corden on You Tube. John Oliver has returned to HBO! We are finding things to laugh about again that aren’t all about Trump or Covid!!!

Closing Words

Our golf season in Thornbury is quickly coming to an end and tomorrow I’ll participate in a ladies event with specially invited guests. I had the great pleasure last week hosting some of our walking group which morphed out of my Toronto fitness group. We spent two days walking local trails, dining and chatting. It was a great catch up with some longtime friends. Videos explaining Don McLean’s American Pie song are making the rounds again, so here’s a version for you to enjoy:

https://youtu.be/bLEUlvRi8m8

Labour Day is here! Where did the summer go?

Our kids (and granddogs) are visiting with us this weekend so we’re having lots of family time (including watching a horror movie together last night). Looking forward to the week ahead as my Toronto fitness group is assembling here in Thornbury for a couple of days of Bruce Trail hikes, great food and wine, and lots of laughter. In the meantime, here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Amazon Prime

Nine Perfect Strangers (8 episodes) Nine stressed city dwellers visit a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. The resort’s director is a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. The terrific cast includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Asher Keddie (from Offspring) and Samara Weaving. Nicole Kidman reminds me of Melania Trump with her slavic accent and mysterious slitty eyes. Mysterious and engrossing.

Apple Plus

Ted Lasso  (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope.

Mr. Corman (10 episodes) A deep cut into the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. A wonderful cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arturo Castro, Debra Winger star.

CBS

Jeopardy (30 minutes)Simply the most enjoyable show on TV these days! In comparison with much of today’s dark programming, this show stands out as a beacon of hope in a pandemic world. Informative and exciting! Matt Amodio is now the 3rd highest earning contestant ever, and he will continue in the Fall. Mike Richards filmed 5 episodes before resigning under the pressure of past bad behaviour which came back to haunt him. The search for a new host continues although the five shows Richards already filmed will air in Sept. This time my fingers are crossed for Ken Jennings the all-time greatest contestant. He lacks a little warmth, but he truly deserves the job and knows the game inside-out. For now I am totally enjoying the nightly reruns of this series.

CTV

Surreal Estate (10 episodes) Realtor Nck Roman and an elite team of specialists handle the cases that no one else can: haunted and possessed houses that literally scare would-be buyers away. I am cheering for this little Canadian supernatural series as I love tales of the occult when they are well done.

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Having only seen one episode, I confess to extreme boredom and sleepiness while watching this.

Comedy

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!!

Crave

Gossip (Documentary, 4 episodes) Juicy docuseries on the rise of tabloid media and the cut-throat players who blew up the news, GOSSIP digs into the ascent of Rupert Murdoch and America’s appetite for dirt – featuring Cindy Adams and a who’s-who of insider interviews. So enjoyable!!

**Billions (last part of Season 5 (delayed by Covid)returns tonight) US Attorney Chuck Rhoades goes after hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in a battle between two powerful NYC figures. Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff and David Costabile star.

CBC Gem

Faits Divers (from Quebec, with English subtitles, Season 1, 10 episodes) A triple murder shatters the calm of a small Quebec town. Unbelievably complex and intriguing. I was hooked until the crimes got solved. Loved it!!

PBS

**Guilt (from the BBC, 8 episodes, debuts tonight!!) Two brothers accidentally run over and kill an old man. Despite covering their tracks, their lives start to fall apart when neighbours and relatives of the dead man begin to have doubts about the way he died.

Netflix

Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed (Documentary, 1 h 32 m) Bob Ross brought joy to millions as the world’s most famous art instructor. But a battle for his business empire cast a shadow over his happy trees. Wonderful documentary that brings this man to life and gives you a new appreciation for a show I was always bemused by.

Clickbait (8 episodes) When family man Nick Brewer is abducted in a crime with a sinister online twist, those closest to him race to uncover who is behind it and why. Prepare to have your life hijacked with this one, as I watched the whole series in one day. Stars Adrian Grenier, Zoe Kazan and Phoenix Raei. All filmed in Australia with Australian actors doing very passable American accents. I was totally intrigued by this show!

He’s All That (1 h 26 m) Every so often I have to see what the kids are watching, so I watched this remake of the 1999 original with Rachael Leigh Cook. In this gender reversal on the original, a teenage girl sets out to give a nebbish classmate the ultimate high school makeover. You may recognize Tanner Buchanan from Cobra Kai as the makeover and he even has a scene where he shows off his martial arts moves. Rachael Leigh Cook looks amazingly young and beautiful 22 years after the original.

Motel Makeover (Reality show, 6 episodes) Here’s another show the kids may be watching. Amid project pitfalls and a pandemic, besties-turned-business partners bring their design magic to a rundown motel and revamp it into a go-to getaway. Oi vey!! Their Valley Girl vocal fry inflections almost drove me to the point of madness and I only lasted one episode while watching this with my daughter-in-law. These are two of the most annoying young women on TV!!

Disney

Only Murders in the Building (10 Episodes) Three strangers who share an obsession with true crime suddenly find themselves caught up in one. Stars Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and the scene stealing Martin Short who has never been funnier than he is in this.

Streaming

Don’t Breathe 2 (1 h 38 m) Full disclosure: I was forced to watch this horror thriller film by my sadistic children who enjoy seeing mommy cover her eyes in scary scenes. This sequel to Don’t Breathe (which, of course, I now have to watch) is set in the years following the initial deadly home invasion, where Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) lives in quiet solace until his past sins catch up to him. I actually really enjoyed this (aside from having to cover my eyes occasionally) as the level of suspense was maintained throughout.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I really enjoyed the first two episodes of this show.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher has returned from hiatus. We are still missing Trevor Noah. Samantha Bee has now also returned from hiatus, but Colbert has been on holidays the past 2 weeks. I catch up with Seth Meyers, and James Corden on You Tube. John Oliver has returned to HBO! We are finding things to laugh about again that aren’t all about Trump or Covid!!!

Closing Words

Enjoy these last days of summer wherever you are! I loved this little quotation from a Facebook post which puts the argument over vaccines very succinctly for me:

I‘m vaccinated and, no, I don’t know what’s in it – neither this vaccine, the ones I had as a child, nor in the Big Mac, or in hot dogs, or in other treatments…whether it’s for cancer, AIDS, the one for  polyarthritis, or vaccines for infants or children. I trust my doctor when he says it’s needed. 
I also don’t know what’s in Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other meds, it just cures my headaches & my pains …
I don’t know what’s in the ink for tattoos, vaping, or every ingredient in soap or shampoo or even deodorants.  I don’t know the long term effect of cell phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands. 
In short …
There’s a lot of things I don’t know and never will… 
I just know one thing: life is short, very short,  and I still want to do something other than just going to work every day or staying locked in my home. I still want to travel and hug people without fear and find a little feeling of life “before”.
As a child and as an adult I’ve been vaccinated for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and quite a few others; my parents and I trusted the science and never had to suffer through or transmit any of said diseases … just saying.
I’m vaccinated, not to please the government but:
* To not die from Covid-19.
* To NOT clutter a hospital bed if I get sick.
* To hug my loved ones 
* To Not have to do PCR or antigenic tests to go out dancing, go to a restaurant, go on holidays and many more things to come …
* To live my life and enjoy loved ones.
* For Covid-19 to be an old memory.
* To protect us. 

Company’s coming…

We are looking forward to a visit this week with neighbours from Florida who live in Port Hope. Fingers crossed that we don’t get weather interference with a planned round of golf. George diverted his plans this past week and an Okanagan area golf trip was converted into playing at 4 courses in Southern Ontario. Meanwhile, I entertained a Florida friend and we snuck in some screen time. Here are some suggestions for you:

Amazon Prime

Nine Perfect Strangers (8 episodes) Nine stressed city dwellers visit a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. The resort’s director is a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. The terrific cast includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Asher Keddie (from Offspring) and Samara Weaving. Nicole Kidman reminds me of Melania Trump with her slavic accent and mysterious slitty eyes. Mysterious and engrossing.

Annette (2 h 21 m) A stand-up comedian and his opera singer wife have a 2-year-old daughter with a surprising gift. So weird and arty. I defy most of my friends to last more than 10 minutes into this very strange film. Fortunately I had watched the film Sparks about the two Mael brothers who are behind the music and script for this very original story. Over the top performances by Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg.

Solos (7 episodes) Seven unique dharacter-driven stories. Each character will set off on a thrilling adventure in an uncertain future and they’ll come to reckon that even during our most isolated moments we are all connected through the human experience. The all-star cast includes Uzo Aduba, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Dan Stevens, Anthony Mackie, Helen Mirren and Constance Wu. I was only able to sit through the first episode with Anne Hathaway which was almost unbearable. I will come back to this once there is nothing else left to watch.

Apple Plus

Ted Lasso  (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope.

Mr. Corman (10 episodes) A deep cut into the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. A wonderful cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arturo Castro, Debra Winger, Shannon Wo


CBC Gem

Eden (From Australia, 8 episodes) It follows the disappearance of a young woman which triggers a devastating chain of events which lays bare the dark, hidden heart of paradise. I found this addictive and watched it all this past weekend. So noir!

CBS

Jeopardy (30 minutes)Simply the most enjoyable show on TV these days! In comparison with much of today’s dark programming, this show stands out as a beacon of hope in a pandemic world. Informative and exciting! Matt Amodio is now the 3rd highest earning contestant ever, and he will continue in the Fall. Mike Richards filmed 5 episodes before resigning under the pressure of past bad behaviour which came back to haunt him. The search for a new host continues although the five shows Richards already filmed will air in Sept. This time my fingers are crossed for Ken Jennings the all-time greatest contestant. He lacks a little warmth, but he truly deserves the job and knows the game inside-out. For now I am totally enjoying the nightly reruns of this series.

CTV

Surreal Estate (10 episodes) Realtor Nck Roman and an elite team of specialists handle the cases that no one else can: haunted and possessed houses that literally scare would-be buyers away. I am cheering for this little Canadian supernatural series as I love tales of the occult when they are well done.

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.

Chapelwaite (10 episodes) In this remake of Salem’s Lot (from the Stephen King novel), in the 1850’s, Captain Charles Boone relocates his family to his ancestral home in the small, sleepy town of Preacher’s Corners, Maine. Charles will soon have to confront the secrets of his family’s history and fight to end the darkness. Having only seen one episode, I confess to extreme boredom and sleepiness while watching this.

Comedy

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!!

Netflix

Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes (Norwegian with English subtitles, 6 episodes) Live Hallangen is declared dead but hours later she suddenly wakes up with a sudden urge for blood. Meanwhile, her brother Odd tries to keep the family driven funeral home afloat. Very funny for a rather understated vampire film. I loved this!

The Defeated (German with English subtitles, 8 episodes) Max McLaughlin is an American cop who arrives in Berlin in the summer of 1946 to help create a police force in the chaotic aftermath of the war. Stars Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Logan Marshall-Green and Tuppence Middleton. If you were wondering how Tim Riggins might speak with an over the top Brooklyn accent, this is your show. I actually enjoyed it for the superb art direction in recreating a post war Berlin. Very noir indeed!

Streaming

Stillwater (2 h 19 m) A father travels from Oklahoma to France to help his estranged daughter who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit. Stars Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin and Camille Cottin (this is a breakout role for the French actress from Call My Agent). I have an aversion to dramas about the unjustly accused, but I liked this way more than I thought I would. Great performances and intrigue.

Respect (2 h 25 m) Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice. I actually far preferred the Cynthia Errivo version in TV’s National Geographic Genius. This one seemed strangely chopped up and edited and had some terrible performances. It also seemed overly long despite the fact that it was way shorter than the Errivo version. Great performance from Jennifer Hudson who was Aretha’s personal choice for the roll. Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayan, Tituss Burgess, and Audra McDonald also star.

The Good Fight (CBS Paramount, Season 5, 10 episodes) They are back for a brand new season! Diane has to decide on the firm’s future, after losing two leading lawyers. A crazy combo of real-life events and issues and the fictional world of Reddick Lockhart. I just watched the last episode of the season. Completely mad! Thank god that Mandy Patinkin’s arc as a guest star has finally ended.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher has returned from hiatus. We are still missing Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee, but Colbert returned from holidays this past week. I catch up with Seth Meyers, and James Corden on You Tube. John Oliver has returned to HBO! We are finding things to laugh about again that aren’t all about Trump or Covid!!!

Closing Words

Hopefully, the brutally hot weather we’ve been having will be more moderate this week. I am looking forward to some time on the Bruce Trail with friends as well as some golf and Mahjong. I am attaching a trailer for Annette, so that you don’t have to watch the whole film as I did (you have been warned):

George cancels his golf trip…

Well, it took much eye rolling on my part, not to mention a steady barrage of video clips and articles that I sent to him describing the fire and smoke conditions in the Okanagan Valley of BC. George had been scheduled to fly to Predator Ridge, a golf resort between Vernon and Kelowna, on this coming Monday, along with his 3 usual golf buddies from the Lambton GC. Fortunately, they came to their senses this past week and have rescheduled this annual trip to stay at the farm in Markdale that belongs to golfer Tom and they will play 4 courses in the area over the next 4 days. Whewww! I was very worried about them getting caught in the middle of a firestorm plus dealing with terrible air quality from drifting smoke. I am having a dear friend from Florida stay over the next few days plus I have a little golf and Mahjong scheduled this week. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Amazon Prime

*Nine Perfect Strangers (8 episodes,debuted this weekend, but I haven’t watched it yet) Nine stressed city dwellers visit a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. The resort’s director is a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. The all star cast includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Asher Keddie (from Offspring), Samara Weaving, etc. I am already missing The White Lotus which dealt with privileged people in a resort setting, so I am dying to watch this one.

Apple Plus

Ted Lasso  (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team. Oh, how I love this wonderful series about optimism and hope.

Mr. Corman (10 episodes) A deep cut into the days and nights of a public schoolteacher in the San Fernando Valley. A wonderful cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arturo Castro, Debra Winger, Shannon Woodward, etc. Magical realism touches abound in this very original tale.

Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson (6 episodes) This documentary follows Mark Ronson as he tells the untold stories behind music creation and the lengths producers and creators are willing to go to find the perfect sound. Speaking with Ronson about music as the intersection of artistry and technology and how that has influenced their work are Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Questlove, Dave Grohl and more. I am loving this series as it gives me some insight into the work that my sound engineer son David does everyday.

CBS

Jeopardy (30 minutes)Simply the most enjoyable show on TV these days! In comparison with much of today’s dark programming, this show stands out as a beacon of hope in a pandemic world. Informative and exciting! Matt Amodio is now the 3rd highest earning contestant ever, and he will continue in the Fall, when Mike Richards assumes the host position. Mayim Bialik will host special prime time editions of the show (college competitions, etc.) I was rooting for both of them when they guest hosted, so I am thrilled. OK, so that thrill didn’t last long, as Mike Richards filmed 5 episodes before resigning under the pressure of past bad behaviour which came back to haunt him. The search for a new host continues although the five shows already filmed will air in Sept. This time my fingers are crossed for Ken Jennings the all-time greatest contestant. He lacks a little warmth, but he truly deserves the job and knows the game inside-out.



CNN

WE LOVE NYC: The Homecoing Concert in Central Park (filmed live in NYC yesterday) This terrific concert came to an end last night when a thunderstorm threatened the immense crowd who assembled in Central Park. Before the concert ended prematurely, we watched Jennifer Hudson, Andrea Bocelli, Earth, Wind & Fire, Carlos Santana and Barry Manilow. We watched with music loving friends and enjoyed it tremendously.

Comedy

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!!

Crave

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (1 h 23 m) Terror thrips a small mountain town as bodies are discovered after each full moon. Losing sleep, raising a teenage daughter and caring for his ailing father, Officer Marshall struggles to remind himself there’s no such thing as werewolves. Low budget horror stars Jim Cummings, an auteur writer, director, and star with hilariously unresolved rage issues.

CTV

Surreal Estate (10 episodes) Realtor Nck Roman and an elite team of specialists handle the cases that no one else can: haunted and possessed houses that literally scare would-be buyers away. I am cheering for this little Canadian supernatural series as I love tales of the occult when they are well done.

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

Superman and Lois (16 episodes) This series has returned after a long hiatus. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch star in a very family oriented series as the couple raises two teenaged sons.


Netflix

The Kingdom (from Argentina with English subtitles, 8 episodes) After his running mate’s murder, a controversial televangelist becomes Argentina’s presidential candidate. But nothing about him is as holy as he seems. Murky and mysterious!

The Chair (7 episodes, which I binged in one seating) At a major university, the first woman of color to become chair tries to meet the dizzying demands and high expectations of a failing English department. A great cast includes Sandra Oh, Jay Duplass, Bob Balaban, David Morse, Holland Taylor and David Duchovny. Very wry look at academia.

Streaming

The Good Fight (CBS Paramount, Season 5, 10 episodes) They are back for a brand new season! Diane has to decide on the firm’s future, after losing two leading lawyers. A crazy combo of real-life events and issues and the fictional world of Reddick Lockhart. 

The Green Knight (2 h 10 m, but seemed much longer) A fantasy re-telling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. A great cast includes Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury. Very, very mysterious with gorgeous images but very little dialogue or plot.

Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I really enjoyed the first episode of this show.

Snake Eyes (2 h 1 m, also seemed much longer) A G.I. Joe spin-off centred around the character of Snake Eyes. I only watched this to see Henry Golding play an action hero. I was fascinated by Andrew Koji (star of the late lamented Warrior). Kind of awful, yet enjoyable. More action in the first two minutes of this one than i the entire 2 h 10 m of The Green Knight.

Joe Bell (1 h 34 m) The true story of a small town working class father who embarks on a solo walk across the U.S. to crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay. A great cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton, Gary Sinise but the two stand out performances are from 2 boys, Reid Miller and Maxwell Jenkins who are truly heartbreaking.

W

Five Bedrooms (from Australia, 2 seasons, 17 episodes) Five different people at different times of their lives bond at a wedding after being seated together at the singles table. After a few too many drinks, the solution to all of their problems seems to be buying a five-bedroom house together. From the writers of Offspring, you may recognize Kat Stewart as the younger sister on Offspring. I loved this heartwarming and very funny series.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher has returned from hiatus. We are still missing Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee, but Colbert returned from holidays this past week. I catch up with Seth Meyers, and James Corden on You Tube. John Oliver has returned to HBO! We are finding things to laugh about again that aren’t all about Trump or Covid!!!

Closing Words

Enjoy your week wherever you are! We are thinking of our friends in the New England area and hoping they will all be safe from the coming storm, Henri. I am missing Schmigadoon, but you may get a kick out of this video clip from James Corden where 22 musicals are sampled in 12 minutes:

Some sadness…

Our family received some very sad news this past week. My 97-year-old mother-in-law Katherine Kelemen (Katalin in Hungarian) passed away peacefully in her sleep. Her last years were spent in long term care and the past year and a half was especially difficult for all because of Covid restrictions. She had a long life and my husband is very grateful for the care she received at the long term care home, Markhaven in Markham. My sister-in-law Agi has been the best daughter anyone could hope for and lovingly visited her mother and was a tremendous caregiver to her. My mother-in-law had a difficult life from the war years in Hungary where she grew up in an agricultural community, to becoming an immigrant after the war. She and George’s father worked hard to establish themselves in a new country and with a new language. Sadly George’s father (whom he is named after) died of a stroke at the age of 49 leaving her a young widow. She met George’s stepfather a few years later who was also widowed and they lived happily until he passed away shortly after he retired. She lived alone in her Scarborough house until she decided to move to a condo apartment closer to her daughter Agi. A few years later she opted to move to a retirement home and then after a series of small strokes she went into long term care. She was always hard working and independent, looking after her own finances until advancing age and illness finally disabled her. She leaves behind an adoring family of three children and spouses, 4 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

It has been unusually hot and sunny this past week, but I somehow managed to sneak in some screen time and have a few suggestions for you:

Amazon Prime

Invincible (12 episodes) I watched this on my son Jon’s recommendation. If you liked The Boys, you may like this adult animated series based on the Skybound/Image comic about a teenager whose father is the most powerful superhero on the planet. It features an amazing cast of voice actors including Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Walton Goggins, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells and many more. Darkly humorous!

Modern Love (Season 2, 8 episodes) Anthology TV series based on the NYTimes’ column that explores relationships, love and the human connection. Great cast includes Minnie Driver, Tom Burke, Zoe Chao, Kit Harington, Lucy Boynton, Miranda Richardson, Garrett Hedlund, Anna Paquin, Sophie Okonedo, Tobias Menzies. Very sweet and sometimes sad series.

AMC

The Beast Must Die (made for Britbox, 6 episodes) Following the death of her son in a hit and run, all Frances Cairnes wants is to hunt down and kill the man she believes is responsible. When she finally tracks him down, she tricks her way into his house and plots his murder fro within. Very suspenseful with terrific performances from Cush Jumbo, Billy Howle, and Jared Harris.


Apple TV

Ted Lasso (Season 2, 12 episodes) The sweetest soccer coach returns with 12 new episodes. A sports psychologist joins the team.

CODA (1 h 51 m) As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Very sweet film for family viewing.

Schmigadoon (6 episodes) A couple on a backpacking trip discovers a magical town in which everyone acts like they’re in a musical from the 1940’s. Of course, I loved this tribute to Brigadoon, Oklahoma, CarouselThe Music Man, etc. Delightful performances from Keegan-Michael Key, Cecily Strong, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski, Martin Short, Aaron Tveit and many others.

CBC Gem

Ghosts (19 episodes) A group of spirits restlessly squabble in an abandoned country home. Hilarious!!! I laughed out loud.

Ladhood (12 episodes) A coming-of-age comedy from the BAFTA nominated comedian, Liam Williams explores the roots of modern-day masculinity, by delving into the memories of his own misspent adolescence. If you’re not from the North of England (my parents were from Manchester), you might appreciate this one better with subtitles. I really enjoyed this show.

CBS

Jeopardy (30 minutes)Simply the most enjoyable show on TV these days! In comparison with much of today’s dark programming, this show stands out as a beacon of hope in a pandemic world. Informative and exciting! Matt Amodio is now the 3rd highest earning contestant ever, and he will continue in the Fall, when Mike Richards assumes the host position. Mayim Bialik will host special prime time editions of the show (college competitions, etc.) I was rooting for both of them when they guest hosted, so I am thrilled.

CTV

Surreal Estate (10 episodes) Realtor Nck Roman and an elite team of specialists handle the cases that no one else can: haunted and possessed houses that literally scare would-be buyers away. I am cheering for this little Canadian supernatural series as I love tales of the occult when they are well done.

Animal Kingdom (5 seasons) The Codys are forced to tie up loose ends with the cousins and learn what life is like without Smurf. Ahh, Ellen Barkin, I will miss her!! Scariest grandma ever.

HBO

The White Lotus (6 episodes) Set in a tropical resort, it follows the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week. The great cast includes Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge and Steve Zahn. Intriguing, humorous, well acted are all great adjectives for this show. I loved it!


Netflix

Gunpowder Milkshake (1 h 54 m) Three generations of women fight back against those who could take everything from them. Great cast includes Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti, Ralph Ineson, Angela Bassett, Michael Smiley. Very enjoyable rockem, sockem action. Kind of like a female John Wick. I loved it!

Hit & Run (from Israel with English subtitles, 9 episodes) A happily married man’s life is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a mysterious hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv. Stars Lior Raz (Fauda) who goes on a rampage in NYC to solve his wife’s murder. I’m hooked by this extremely entertaining espionage thriller! It did run out of gas in the last episode, but worth watching anyway. Sets up for a second season at the end.

Fallet (8 episodes) British and Swedish police join forces to solve a case. This is a parody of all the British and Scandi Noir series you have ever seen. I did laugh out loud at the antics of the trigger happy Swedish detective and the sadly introverted British detective with absolutely no aptitude for detecting.

Misha and the Wolves (Documentary, 1 h 30 m) Misha and the Wolves is the dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher – who turned detective – revealed an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth. Spectacular show!! One of the most absorbing documentaries I have watched in a while.

Beckett (1 h 48 m) Following a tragic car accident in Greece, Beckett, an American tourist, finds himself at the centre of a dangerous political conspiracy and on the run for his life. Very Hitchcockian in tone, with whispers of The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor. I don’t understand why John David Washington (son of Denzel) is being used as a leading man, Alicia Vikander has a brief role as his girlfriend and Boyd Holbrook steals the show as a sleazy CIA type. The reviews were awful for this, but I kind of enjoyed it.

Gone for Good (in French with English subtitles, 5 episodes) Based on a novel by Harlan Coben. Giullaume thought he had drawn a line under the terrible tragedy which saw the two people he loved the most die. Ten years later, Judith, whose love has made his life worth living again, suddenly disappears during his mother’s funeral. I do not understand the casting of Finnegan Oldfield in this as he lacks any charisma whatsoever (one review said he looks like a goldfish devoid of any expression or emotion)! The plot is so complicated with so many subplots, that I can’t imagine watching this on a weekly basis as you would be terribly confused. Not the best Coben adaptation out there.

PBS

Unforgotten (30 episodes) From Britain’s ITV. London detectives investigate crimes from the past unravelling secrets left buried for years. Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar star as the lead detectives. So English!

Professor T (6 episodes) Made for BritBox, this is an adaptation of a Belgian show. Professor Jasper Tempest, a genius Cambridge University criminologist with OCD and an overbearing mother, advises the police. Ben Miller, who is usually a very comic actor (Death in Paradise) is quite delightful in the lead role. We are back in Cambridge, the locale for so many great British crime shows.

Streaming

The Good Fight (CBS Paramount, Season 5, 10 episodes) They are back for a brand new season! Diane has to decide on the firm’s future, after losing two leading lawyers. A crazy combo of real-life events and issues and the fictional world of Reddick Lockhart. 

The Suicide Squad (2 h 12 m) Supervillains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of nutty cons at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Great cast includes Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Michael Rooker, viola Davis, Nathan Fillion, Jai Courtney, etc. I really enjoyed this crazy film from the DC universe. Superhero movies are not my usual thing, but I had no expectations whatsoever, so I just went with it.

Vivo (Animated, 1 h 35 m) This musical adventure features all-new original songs from Lin-Manuel rind and will take audiences on an epic adventure to gorgeous and vibrant locations never before seen in animation. The voice cast includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zoe Saldana, Brian Tyree Henry, Gloria Estefan and Michael Rooker. You have to love Miranda’s music to love this one.

W

Fantasy Island (5 episodes) People who walk in with a desire, but end up reborn to themselves through the magical realism of Fantasy Island. I am so ashamed that I watched the first episode of this to see how they modernized this fairy tale of a show. Roselyn Sanchez replaces Ricardo Montalban as Elena Roarke, his niece. I was actually embarrassed to be watching this absolute dreck. You have been warned!

YouTube

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2 h 52 m) The telling of an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing strife in the community and one warrior’s endurance and battle of its menace. I have resisted watching this for the last 20 years because of its length, but a couple of sleepless nights this past week allowed me to watch it at my leisure. It is considered the masterpiece of Canadian filmmaking and is directed by an Inuit director in the Inuit language with an all Inuit cast. It is a demanding experience but its images will stay with you forever.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher has returned from hiatus. We are still missing Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee, but Colbert returned from holidays this past week. I catch up with Seth Meyers, and James Corden on You Tube. John Oliver has returned to HBO! We are finding things to laugh about again that aren’t all about Trump or Covid!!!

Closing Words

The week ahead features lots of friends time with Mahjong and golf on the schedule. We are off to a fundraiser for Theatre Collingwood this afternoon. A long-time high school friend is coming to Thornbury this week for her holidays so I hope to spend some time with her. We shall see if the weather cooperates as it has been amazingly dry lately. Of course, all plans may be altered as my mother-in-law’s funeral arrangements are determined

My niece Karen has written some heartfelt words about her grandmother (my mother-in-law), so I attach them here for you to give you a sense of what a wonderful woman she was and the life she lived:

Katherine Kelemen was a woman of great character. She taught me so much and I admire the woman she was. She always welcomed anyone who came to her door, her words were always: “Come in, come in! Are you hungry?!” I’m not kidding, she always had good food to feed anyone and it’s like she was always ready for a visitor! She doted on her family, always available to help look after grandkids, serve a family meal, she served always, with a grateful heart.

My grandmother did not have it easy, she got married at the age of 19 and my memory of this story is blurry but at some point she was separated from her husband due to the war and tried to find him leaving Hungary and travelied to Austria pregnant with my mom where she was born. She battled tuberculosis and many other struggles, but the one that amazed me was she escaped Hungary, and if you’ve seen The Sound of Music, she escaped through those same mountains with my mom at the age of 4/5 on her back and minimal belongings. She could never watch the end of that movie due to the memories it would stir.

I used to stay with my grandparents during Christmas break and I remember one year she was fixing up an old winter coat, getting it all cleaned, along with some boots and hat and scarf she knit (she was an amazing knitter too), and I asked her what she was doing but she just quietly set to work as she put it all together in a bag. We went to church and I saw her walk over to a woman and gave her the bag. With the looks exchanged between these women, my ten year old self realized this woman was homeless and my grandmother knew her as she came each week to service. Her giving heart impacted me in ways I could not describe.

My grandma was a huge gardener and had a green thumb, I remember so many beautiful roses in her backyard, a large vegetable garden and a raspberry bush that was my favorite! She was a hard worker and tended to those gardens daily. Even to the day she moved to a condo, she had beautiful plants and red geraniums were her favorite! She could cut off a stem and root it to make a new plant!

Her Hungarian baking… I will just leave it there. Always had something in the freezer to take out ready to serve any visitor. Her gift of knitting was an art, she could knit without the pattern. The very particular detailed kid I was asked for a ski sweater that I saw in a magazine, but I wanted some changes of course! Well she set to the task and went above and beyond! I still have all my sweaters she knit me! When my parents went away, I was left home alone at the age of 15 for a week or so. She offered to come visit and cook for me. I think I hurt her feelings by saying I had food in the freezer that my mom prepared and that she didn’t need to come. (I was happy having the house to myself!) I think back now and wish she came. I talked to her daily on the phone, no joke, it was everyday! If I missed a day, she actually missed me!

My grandma was very dear to my heart and has been an inspiration in my life. She taught me A LOT! The past few years her health declined, she had some mini strokes and dementia and that was tough. That’s when my grief started as I felt I lost her. I am so thankful that we still had our visits and as hard as covid lockdowns were, I was thankful for FaceTime and I was blessed to be able to pray over her in those visits. When my grandma had moved into Markhaven home, she would ask “where am I?” We would answer “Markhaven”, the look of shock and wonder in her eyes with the reply “I’m in heaven???” “Not yet Oma, God will call you when he’s ready for you”

Well at the age of 97, God called Oma home August 14, 2021. A great woman she was, and I thank the Lord that she is home with Him, dancing, and she has a sound mind once again! I look forward to the day I will see her again in heaven. I love you so much Nagymama. Thank you for looking after me.