A little of this, a little of that….

Well, it’s been a great week.  Got to play three rounds of golf in TO and in Thornbury.  Made it to a live theatre production in Collingwood, and of course, caught up on a bit of TV viewing.  Here are my recommendations:

Live on Stage

Theatre Collingwood at the Gayety Theatre has kicked off its Summer Theatre Festival with a production of Sexy Laundry, a two character play from Theatre Orangeville.  This comedy is about married life after 25 years of ups and downs. Great performances by the two actors and a very engaging evening of entertainment that is both amusing and poignant.

Streaming

Hap and Leonard is a swamp noir tv series that originates on Sundance in the US.  The first two seasons (16 episodes) have aired and I must highly recommend this series.  Set in the late 1980’s, Hap and Leonard is a darkly comic tale of two friends who have overcome tragic beginnings and have ended up becoming entangled in crimes they didn’t commit.  Great performances from James Purefoy as Hap and Michael Kenneth Williams as Leonard.

Brockmire is a comedy series from IFC and stars Hank Azaria as a famed major league baseball announcer who suffers an embarrassing and very public meltdown live on the air after discovering his beloved wife’s serial infidelity .  He decides to reclaim his career and love life in a small town a decade later. This is hilariously raunchy stuff for adults only!

Netflix

Master of None starring Aziz Ansari has returned for its second season of episodes loosely based on Ansari’s real life.  In the latest episodes, Dev (Ansari) is living in Modena (Italy) and his adventures continue.

Bloodline will return for its third season on May 26!  According to IMDB, John faces the real situation. He is caught and tells all real stories to the police.  Kevin escapes and may never be back. Meg stays in low profile, but is still haunted by the bad karma.  The mafia starts interrupting John’s family.  Can’t wait!! I love this dark and dangerous tale of family secrets in the Florida Keys.

House of Cards will return for its fifth season on May 30. It will be fascinating to see how this political drama deals with the political spectacle that is simultaneously unfolding in reality.  Season 5 will begin with President Underwood in the midst of a re-election campaign, his ever-formidable wife Claire at this side.  The biggest obstruction on the road to a second term is Frank’s sordid past, which is dangerously close to being exposed for the world to see amid a maelstrom of controversies and accusations.

Jamaica Inn comes to Netflix from the BBC and stars Jessica Brown  Findlay (the doomed Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey).  Set on the Yorkshire Moors, this dark and brooding mystery is based on Daphne Du Maurier’s novel.  A young woman moves in with her aunt and uncle and soon discovers unsavoury happenings in her new home.  I lasted through 2 episodes of this murky 3 episode miniseries.

Norm McDonald Hitler’s Dog, Gossip and Trickery is a 1 hour comedy special currently available on Netflix. I realized about 20 minutes in, that I really like Norm McDonald in small doses.  An hour is simply too much!

John Doyle gives the new Netflix true crime series The Keepers a rave review:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-netflixs-new-true-crime-series-the-keepers-is-an-unsettling-stunner/article35010727/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

The Telegram (UK) gives some Netflix recommendations:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/on-demand/0/the-best-tv-shows-on-netflix-uk2/

Other Debuts

Animal Kingdom  is a dark and brooding suspense series set in a Southern California beach town where a crime family is headed up by a most ungrandmotherly Ellen Barkin.  The second series of 12 episodes is set to debut on May 30 on Bravo in Canada.  If you haven’t caught up with season 1 yet, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to find it.

The Wizard of Lies premiered last night on Sat May 20 on HBO.  A chronicle of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which defrauded his clients of billions of dollars. Stars include Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro and Hank Azaria.

Twin Peaks the noir masterpiece originally directed by David Lynch will return after 26 years on May 21 on TMN in Canada.

Dark Angel will debut on PBS Masterpiece on Sunday May 21. It is a two-part drama shown in its entirety and is about the Victorian serial killer Mary Cotton (played by Anna from Downton Abbey – Joanne Froggatt).

Shows I’m Still Keeping up with

Genius is an 11 episode miniseries biography of Albert Einstein both as a young man and the wiry haired genius who went on to solve the secrets of the universe.  On National Geographic and Showcase in Canada.

The Handmaid’s Tale from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel is an 11 episode miniseries airing on Bravo in Canada.

Harlots is an 8 episode miniseries from Britain’s ITV that is airing on Superchannel in Canada.  Starring Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sibyl on Downton Abbey).  It is about the war between two competing brothels in London during the 18th century. For adults only!

Call the Midwife is the heartwarming PBS series that is now in its sixth season.  Get out your hankies of this wonderful series that chronicles the lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.

Veep is an acerbic comedy series now in its sixth season on HBO.  One year after losing the presidency, Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) attempt to secure her legacy.  Created by Armando Iannucci (comic genius behind Alan Partridge, In the Loop, The Thick of It, etc.), the show is brilliant in its no holds barred skewering of political life.

Silicon Valley is now in it fourth season on HBO. The guys struggle to find funding for Pied Piper’s video chat app.  A lovable group of nerds dealing with the cut throat wheeling and dealing of SV.

The Leftovers is in its third and final season on HBO. Will there be a second apocalyptic catastrophe?

The only way I can watch the news these days…

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver continues to entertain as John Oliver brings his persona to this weekly news satire program on HBO on Sunday nights.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs nightly on Comedy Mon-Thurs.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs Mon – Fri on CBS.

Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal airs Wednesdays on Comedy.

Real Time with Bill Maher airs Fridays on HBO.

CBS Sunday Morning airs Sunday mornings and its personal interest pieces, interviews with actors, political figures, athletes, musicians, etc. keeps me sane and inspired. This morning’s episode on Amsterdam was sublime.

The Best Shows you Should Be Watching

Better Call Saul is the prequel to Breaking Bad on AMC.
The Americans is in its fifth season on FX.  Two Soviet intelligence agents pose as a married couple to spy on the American government.  Very timely…

Fargo is in its third season on FX.  Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and murder in and around frozen Minnesota.  Yet all of these tales mysteriously lead back one way or another to Fargo, ND.

Assorted Reading on Media

As I am an unapologetic Anglophile, I thought you might enjoy reading about the best British tv series:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/best-british-tv-shows-time/

Closing Words

Looking forward to my upcoming Book Group discussion (My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout), listening to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles on Audible.com (tells the story of a Russian aristocrat living under house arrest in a luxury hotel for 30 years), just finished A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicolson (memoir about seven generations of Juliet Nicolson’s literary family).  Despite the dire weather predictions of rain for the next 5 days, I am looking forward to a couple of games of golf and the retirement party of a dear friend.  We will be attending a charity car rally next weekend in Collingwood, so cross your fingers for me as most of my friends know how hopelessly directionally challenged I am.  Have a wonderful week regardless of your plans.  If it rains, stay in and read or goodness knows, there are plenty of good programs available for watching!

What a week!

We spent three days in NYC last week.  We saw three wonderful plays (School of Rock, Present Laughter and Waitress).  Each play was totally enjoyable in its own way.  School of Rock is the stage adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber of the movie starring Jack Black.  Great energy and tunes.  Terrific performances by the child musicians as well as an incredible performance by Eric Petersen in the lead role.  How he does what he does for 8 shows a week is mystifying!  Present Laughter starred Kevin Kline in the classic Noel Coward comedy.  He is incredibly charismatic and hilariously funny as a physical comedian.  Our final show was Waitress written by Sarah Bareilles and she also stars in the show.  This touching musical is a wonderful adaptation of the original film.  A small town waitress dreams of running her own coffee shop.  While in NYC we did two great walking tours (Upper West Side and Lower East Side, went to the Fricke Museum, shopped till we dropped and went to great restaurants (Becco, Cafe Un, Deux, Trois, and Barbetta), all in the theatre district natch.  We stayed at The Iroquois Hotel.  We had previously stayed there in 1975 on our very first trip to NYC together.  It was a fleabag hotel then and is now one of NYC’s top boutique hotels.  On 44th St. between 5th and 6th it’s perfectly located in the midtown theatre district. If you get a chance to visit NYC, I highly recommend it.

It’s been a tough week to catch up with my recordings, but here are some of the shows I recommend.

 

Debuts

Charles III  debuts on PBS tonight.  It hypothesizes what the reign of Prince Charles might be like if his mother ever retires.
Berlin Station will debut later this month on Superchannel.  I watched it earlier this year in the US.  It is murky Berlin espionage at its most challenging.  Richard Armitage stars!

I’m Still Keeping up with…

Genius on National Geographic Channel. Great biography of Alfred Einstein.
The Handmaid’s Tale on Bravo.  This dark dystopian tale about the future is tough to watch.
Harlot on Superchannel is a terrific tale of brothel life in 1763 London.

The White Princess is a television adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s novel about the rise of the House of Tudor on Superchannel.

Billions season finale on HBO came to a close last Sunday with a face off between Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti.
Call the Midwife and Home Fires are Sunday night’s most heartwarming shows on PBS.
Veep is a dark look at US politics on HBO.
Silicon Valley is a whimsical comedy about tech life on HBO.

The Leftovers is the saddest show on TV.  The aftermath of the Rapture continues on HBO.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is a joyous review of the week on HBO on Sunday nights.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah skewers the political scene Mon-Thurs on Comedy.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert pokes fun at current events Mon-Fri on CBS.

Better Call Saul is the Breaking Bad prequel that is alternately heart breaking and darkly comedic on AMC
The Americans comes to a suspenseful conclusion on FX.
Fargo continues its noirish tale of midwestern bloodbaths on FX.

Great News is a very silly NBC comedy starring the wonderful Andrea Martin.
Gotham is a silly crime show on Fox showing the rise of Batman and all the villains.
Arrow is a superhero series about a dishy guy who’s awfully good with a bow and arrow on the CW.
The 100 is about attractive young people lost in space on the CW.

Streaming

Hap and Leonard began its third season on Sundance.  A great story about a mismatched odd couple in Texas in the late 1980’s starring James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams.  This show is addictive and has been described as swamp noir.  There are alligators!  I binged on 8 episodes of Season 1 this past weekend, and Season 3 has just begun!

Closing Words

After getting back to Thornbury this weekend, George and I participated in the men’s and women’s opening events at our golf club.  Because I am such a high handicap golfer I had the great good fortune to be matched up with three wonderful players and we came in third!!!  Unbelievable for me.  The best possible way to play golf (well for me anyhow).  Today we had Mother’s Day visits with our 93 and 98-year-old mothers and my children are going to bring Thai food over for dinner.  A great day for counting our blessings that we still have our mothers in our lives and we are able to celebrate these events with our own children.  A beloved niece called from Costa Rica to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, so life is very good.  Enjoy the week, whatever you may have planned.

 

I can’t believe I watched the whole thing…

Well, this week has been one of a deluge of biblical proportions. We decided to head up to Thornbury to make sure there was no water damage due to the incessant rains.  As I write this on Sunday morning, there is a possibility of snow flurries in the forecast.  Thankfully, our sump pump has been working nonstop and our home is warm and dry.  The weather has been most conducive to cocooning and I have been bingeing on Netflix for much of this weekend.  My recommendations follow:

Amazon Prime Video Alert!!!

I was astonished to find out last week, that my Amazon TV app works in Canada!!

American Gods is a bizarre series starring Ian McShane which debuted this past week. It is about a recently released ex-convict named Shadow who meets a mysterious man who calls himself “Wednesday” and who knows more than he first seems to about Shadow’s life and past. It’s going to take a while to figure this one out.

For those of you considering joining Amazon Prime so that you can access their video library of original content, here’s just a sampling of their titles:

Patriot  (espionage miniseries)

Tom Clancey’s Ghost Recon (suspense miniseries)

Goliath (legal miniseries)

The Night Manager (seriously, if you missed it on AMC, catch it here!)  Tom Hiddleston  and Hugh Laurie star in this terrific suspense series.

Sneaky Pete (Giovanni Ribisi and Bryan Cranston star in this suspense miniseries).

Fleabag (comedy miniseries from the UK)

Mozart in the Jungle (Gael Garcia Bernal stars as the maestro of a NYC symphony orchestra in this comedic miniseries)

Transparent (Jeffrey Tambor stars in this groundbreaking and heartbreaking miniseries about a transexual male transitioning to female in his 60’s)

I could go on, but the above is just a sampling of their original content that is worth watching.

Netflix

Dickensian is a 13-part series from the BBC.  I must confess that I managed to watch all 13 episodes this weekend!! I have a weakness for British costume dramas and this one is tailor-made for watching on a rainy day.  It’s a mashup of all of Dickens’ novels.  Characters from Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, and A Christmas Carol all mix and mingle in what is essentially a murder mystery. Great British character actors abound, led by Stephen Rea, Peter Firth, Anton Lesser, etc. Make yourself a cup of tea,  turn on the fireplace, wrap yourself in an afghan and enjoy this one.

The Last Kingdom is a 16 part series that chronicles the rise of England under Alfred the Great.  A BBC co-production with Netflix, the 8 episode second season is currently available.  If you like hunky Danes fighting AngloSaxons circa 800-900 AD, you will love this.  The main protagonist is a fictional character who is part Saxon and Dane who is struggling to claim his birthright.  Played by Alexander Dreymon who grew up in France, Switzerland and the US, he is a fantastically romantic leading man.  I managed to finishing watching all 8 episodes of season 2 this past weekend!

Bravo

The Handmaid’s Tale is the latest adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a woman forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. If you like your futuristic tales dark and terrifying, this miniseries is for you! Great performances from Elizabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Yvonne Strahovski, etc.

If you didn’t manage to catch Hugh Laurie in the Hulu series Chance, it begins airing tonight directly following The Handmaid’s Tale.  This terrific suspense series is about a forensic psychiatrist who gets involved in a noirish relationship with a femme fatale.  Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-hugh-laurie-is-very-good-as-another-flawed-doctor-in-chance/article34906274/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

 

Superchannel

Harlots is a production from Britain’s ITV. Set in London 1763, it tells the tale of rival brothel owners.  Full of naked women and men, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but so far, I have found it fascinating. Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it in the Globe:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-harlots-is-vigorously-bawdy-from-the-female-perspective/article34881555/

CBC/On Demand

After catching up with the marvellous and delightful series Anne last weekend (which I binged on in its entirety), I caught the first couple of episodes of Bellevue. This 8-episode miniseries is a mystery set in a small blue-collar town with a dark secret.  Kind of a Canadian Twin Peaks.  It stars Anna Paquin, Shawn Doyle and Allen Leech (Tom from Downton Abbey!!!). Seriously dark and very murky, I actually had trouble seeing my screen as so much of the series is filmed at night.  This one requires real perseverance.

 

HBO

Billions has its season finale tonight.

Veep continues with Julia Louis Dreyfus playing a former president who is obsessed with securing her legacy.

Silicon Valley continues its story of techies trying to survive in the jungle that is known as Silicon Valley.

The Leftovers is one of the saddest series ever made about the aftereffects of The Rapture.  Now we’re in Australia!

 

PBS

Call the Midwife and Home Fires are two of the most heartwarming British nostalgia series ever made.  If you are home on Sunday evenings, make yourself a cup of tea, get cosy in front of the fire, and grab a hankie.

ABC

American Crime aired the last episode of Season 3 last week.  This series is dark and  disturbing as it follows 3 different crimes in each season. Great performances from its repertory cast featuring Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Regina King, Lili Taylor, etc.  Very challenging tv, but worth pursuing.  You can catch the first two seasons on Netflix.

AMC

Better Call Saul is continuing its second season prequel of events leading up to Breaking Bad.  Bob Odenkirk is alternately tragic and hilarious as the ne’er do well lawyer with a self-destructive streak.  Great cast of character actors includes Michael McKean, Jonathan Banks, Giancarlo Esposito and many others in supporting roles.

FX

The Americans is in its fifth season of unbearable suspense during the Cold War days of the 1980’s. Very timely now that there is so much focus on Putin and his influence in today’s cold war.
Fargo is in its third season of completely independent storytelling (each season tells a different story, completely independent from the original film).  This season follows a twisted sibling rivalry that leads to murder, mobsters and cutthroat competitive bridge in a small Midwestern town.  Ewan McGregor heads up a terrific cast that includes Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis and Michael Stuhlbarg. Intrigue abounds!

NBC

Great News is a completely silly sitcom starring the great Andrea Martin in her first leading role in a series.  She is the only reason to watch this often lame comedy series.

Fox

Gotham has returned from hiatus with tales of a young Batman and all the supporting players and villains.  I have a soft spot for Benjamin Mackenzie as the young Jim Gordon.

The CW

Arrow stars Stephen Amell as a superhero who is awfully good with a bow and arrow.  He has all the charisma that Jeremy Renner lacked in the Avengers series.  Very silly stuff, but obviously, I am not the only one (well perhaps the only adult female) who is watching it as it is in its fifth season!
The 100 is in its 4th season and it  follows impossibly attractive young people who are lost in space.

Comic Relief

Stephen Colbert is dancing on the edge these days with his anger against
Trump and that is making for great ratings for him on The Late Show (CBS); Trevor Noah leads his comedic attacks on The Daily Show Mon-Thurs on Comedy; Samantha Bee attacks on Wednesday on Full Frontal on Comedy; Bill Maher attacks Fridays with Real Time on HBO; John Oliver attacks Sundays on Last Week Tonight on HBO.  I also record new episodes of Saturday Night Live on NBC and watch it when I am in need of a comic fix. All in all, I find these series so much easier to watch than CNN.

Zen Moment

I record CBS Sunday Morning and watch it at a moment when I need spiritual soothing.  I also record Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and watch it for his lucid explanations of world affairs.

Closing Words

Do not despair because of our cold rainy weather in the north;  surely all this rain must be a harbinger of flowers and green grass to come.  Enjoy the season for its respite from endless snow in the north and heat and humidity if you are still in Fthe south.  Drive safely wherever you are, and take a few moments to relax and reflect on how grateful we should be to live in a land where we are lucky enough to take our freedoms and privileges for granted.  We enjoy wonderful health care and a civility of public discourse that many of our neighbours do not have.  Count your blessings! We are off to NYC this week to see some art, and of course, some theatre.  We have tickets for Kevin Kline in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter.  We’ll be heading to the half-price ticket wicket in Times Square to see what else we can find. Enjoy the week, wherever you are.

Keeping busy in a time of loss…

It has been a week of sadness mixed with joys.  My husband and I got out to walk the golf course in Thornbury while we played 9 holes on a gorgeously sunny, yet decidedly cool and windy day. Sadly, two longtime friends have passed away.  One, a neighbour of over 30 years, died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 64 and with no previous history of heart disease.  Another, a golf buddy of longstanding, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  They will both be missed and the message of “Carpe Diem” calls out more loudly than ever, so in a tribute to departed friends, it’s important to celebrate our gift of life, and to never forget that it can be taken away very unexpectedly, so here’s how I have been celebrating life this past week.

On the Big Screen

Esquire has a great article on the 10 Great Movies that were booed at the Cannes Film Festival:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a54719/best-movies-booed-at-cannes-film-festival/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=042917

Live Theatre

Last week we attended a one-man show of New York Stories presented by Micah Barnes (formerly of The Nylons) at the gorgeously renovated and restored Gayety Theatre in Collingwood.  He is a terrific singer and storyteller currently taking his show across Canada.  We were lucky to be seated with his Collingwood-based aunt and uncle, so we felt like we were almost part of the family.  If you have a chance to see this gifted performer, please do see his show.

This past week, I attended The Bodyguard with a friend at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. I have to admit that although I enjoyed the music and especially the singing of Beverly Knight in the lead role, this is a seriously flawed show.  It has a ridiculously thin plot that the writers have tried to enhance by adding in characters that didn’t exist in the movie and a love triangle plot that makes no sense whatsoever.  There was much giggling and chuckling throughout the audience over clumsily staged action scenes involving the stalker who is after “Rachel” throughout the entire show, and in fact, the audience began to laugh every time the villain made a hulking appearance.  As is now the convention with every modern musical, the cast assembled on stage for their curtain calls and launched into a reprise of several musical numbers from the show.  When the villain started dancing at the end of the show, the audience went completely berserk with laughter.  If you actually see this show, don’t run to the parking lot before the curtain calls are over, as they are actually more entertaining than the musical itself.  The music consists of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, and it is poignant now to be reminded of what a talented artist she was and what a great loss her early death is.

What I’m Listening To

Audible.com
Bryan Cranston: A Life in Parts is our current “read” while driving.  Cranston is a gifted storyteller and writer and hearing him read his own life story is a treat.  However, similar to Alec Baldwin’s recording Nevertheless, there’s a little too much tedious detail that the average reader is likely not fascinated by.

CBC/On Demand

If you haven’t caught up with Anne, the new version of Anne of Green Gables, do yourself a favour and give it a look.  I binged yesterday on the first 4 episodes and am absolutely loving it. Amybeth McNulty is wondrous in the lead role, as are Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson as Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Enjoy! For a wonderful article in the NY Times  (as reprinted on Flipboard) read:

https://flipboard.com/section/flipboard-top-stories-3lfp6ucl7q971h5c?flipit=http%3A%2F%2Fflip.it%2FQxxIo1&intent=item_share

National Geographic

Einstein’s Genius premiered this week. This miniseries stars Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn as both older and younger Einsteins. The series depicts how patent clerk Einstein could not get a teaching job or doctorate in his early life, yet managed to go on to solve the secrets of the universe.

 

Netflix

The Last Kingdom (a co-production with the BBC) continues the thrilling story of Alfred the Great and his efforts to unite England.
Riverdale (originates with the CW in the US) continues its subversive retelling of the Archie story.
Dear White People is a series adaptation of the movie of the same name which is set at a predominantly white Ivy League college where a diverse group of students navigate various forms of racial and other types of discrimination.  Narrated by Giancarlo Esposito (Gus from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul)!
Girlboss (starring Britt Robertson as Sophia) follows the story of Sophia, a misfit, who discovers a passion for fashion, becoming an unlikely businesswoman in the process. As her business grows, however, she has to learn to cope with life as her own boss.

ABC

Designated Survivor continues its imaginary tale of what would happen if a decent, well intentioned fellow were to accidentally  become President of the US.

CBS

Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show has hit its stride in its merciless skewering of Trump and the right wing every weeknight from M – Fri.

CBS Sunday Morning has finished recording as I write this blog.  Segments include the closing of the Ringling Bros. Barnum &Bailey circus; singing duo Hall & Oates; astronomer Neal DeGrasse Tyson; the Liberty Bell, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey bellmakers; Albert Einstein; Jonathan Demme, etc. I always anticipate watching this show, and its closing moment of nature, with great pleasure.

 

NBC

Great News (starring the amazing and hilarious Andrea Martin) debuted last week:  A New Jersey mom puts her relationship with daughter to the test when she lands an internship at her new job, which comes with many challenges.  I was very amused by this series, and it’s wonderful to see Andrea Martin in a role that is tailor made for her.

HBO

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on the wonderful book of the same name.  I frankly found the telefilm adaptation tedious and prosaic, although it does star a wonderful group of actors who gamely try to bring this fascinating story to life.  If you haven’t read the book, you may be intrigued.
The Leftovers is possibly the saddest TV series ever, but it is taking some weird and wacky turns this season.  We are currently in Australia!!!
Veep is wickedly following the former President, Selina Meyers as she tries to secure her legacy.
Silicon Valley I love these silly boys who struggle to find funding for Pied Piper’s video chat app. I particularly love Kumail Nanjiani who plays Dinesh and has now taken charge of Pied Piper. He has a film out about his life which just debuted at Sundance called The Big Sick, which I can’t wait to see!

Billions (starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti) tells a suspenseful tale about a cat and mouse game between a US Attorney and his quarry, a ruthless hedge fund manager.
Real Time with Bill Maher continues to amuse and inform while skewering politicians.

Comedy/CNN

Samantha Bee White House Correspondents Dinner/ CNN (Actual) White House Correspondents Dinner: I just finished watching Samantha Bee’s WHCD which did have some standout moments, particularly the parody of The Man in the High Castle segment, which showed an alternative version of history where Hilary Clinton got elected and then promptly impeached. Her “In Memoriam” tribute to Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly was also pretty funny.

We had to do a lot of fast forwarding through the CNN coverage of the event which featured a keynote speech by Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy (which I watch religiously every night at 11 pm). Once he finally appeared on stage at the end of the show, Minhaj got in some good remarks about the irony of a Muslim speaking at a dinner that is roasting a President who has sponsored a Muslim ban. There was a mixture of jokes and very pointed political commentary about Trump’s assault on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The evening also featured a stirring segment with Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward talking about the importance of the first amendment to the US constitution which guarantees freedom of the press.

Bravo

A Handmaid’s Tale (a miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel) premieres tonight.  I found the novel and the movie adaptation starring Natasha Richardson very dark and disturbing 20 years ago.  Apparently, this new version is very timely indeed, as that dystopian future may be closer than ever. Here’s what the NY Times had to say about it:

https://flipboard.com/section/flipboard-top-stories-d3orudnh0e1acc3c?flipit=http%3A%2F%2Fflip.it%2F0jG6YA&intent=item_share

The CW

The 100 has returned with new episodes about attractive young people in space.  You can catch previous episodes on Netflix.

FOX

Gotham (about Bat Man as a boy and Inspector Jim Gordon when he was a 30-something) returns for new episodes tonight.

FX

Great shows I’m following at the moment include The Americans and Fargo. Esquire has an intriguing article debunking what it calls the myth of prestige TV:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a54762/the-flaws-of-prestige-tv/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=042717

 

AMC

If you liked Breaking Bad, you need to see the prequel, Better Call Saul.

PBS

Tonight’s British Drama lineup includes Call the Midwife, Home Fires and a repeat of the Wolf Hall series.

Space

The Expanse I was delighted to be able to find this series (which originates on SYFY in the US and is showing previous episodes on Netflix) on Rogers On Demand.  This thrilling saga of conflict between the Earth, Mars and the Asteroid Belters is fascinating and has pretty good special effects.  It’s Game of Thrones meets Battlestar Galactica.  Thomas Jane has the original lead role and there is a wonderful cast of supporting players that features many Canadians.  Look for the remarkable Iranian sultry-voiced actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, as a UN official trying to stop war from breaking out.

Superchannel

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

 

Summer TV Premieres

Esquire has a rundown of the upcoming summer TV season:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a54785/summer-tv-premieres/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=042817

Closing Words

A dear friend is performing his music live this afternoon at our neighbourhood cafe in Thornbury so George and I will be attending with pleasure. Sunday night is full of TV delights and I will thoroughly enjoy having an opportunity to watch my lineup of recorded programs at my leisure. Back in Toronto later this week, we will be celebrating birthdays with our daughter-in-law and our younger son with a family dinner! Today is clearly an “April showers bring May showers” kind of day, so enjoy the day by taking some time to reflect on your blessings whatever they may be. Stay dry! (Unless you’re in Florida where I believe it is incredibly hot, humid and scorchingly dry with the lowest amount of rainfall in many years.)

 

Spring has sprung…

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

On the big screen

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

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

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

 

Netflix

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

 

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

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

Superchannel/On Demand

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

 

Sunday Madness

PBS 

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

 

HBO

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

 

ABC 

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

 

Superchannel 

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

W

The Good Fight has its season finale tonight.

Under the Radar (shows you could be watching)

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

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

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

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

Comic Relief

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

Audible.com and Podcasts

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

 

Closing Words

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

Home again…

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

Today’s must see viewing

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

CBS Sunday Morning (my weekly Zen moment)

Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN where Zakaria explains world events.

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

Reliable Sources on CNN features journalists discussion current events.

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

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

Home Fires on PBS is another heartwarming British drama series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girls on HBO Canada airs its series finale tonight.

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

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

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

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

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

Later this Week

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

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

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

Under the Radar

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

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

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

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

Comic Relief

 

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

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

Final Words

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

 

 

The bags are packed…

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

On the big screen

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

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

New Debuts and Returning Programs

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

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

The NYTimes also has some suggestions for April viewing:

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

Shows I’m Catching Up With

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

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

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

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

And a couple of days earlier:

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

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

Sunday Craziness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girls (HBO 10 pm) has its series finale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

One week to go…

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

Streaming

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

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

 

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

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

Netflix

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

All my usual obsessions

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

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

Heartwarming British shows return on PBS

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

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

Shows you should try and find

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

 

Time is now racing by…

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

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

On the Big Screen

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

Why Belle Should Have Chosen Gaston

On Demand

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

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

Worth Seeking Out

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

NETFLIX

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

Recent Debuts

AMC

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

FX

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

Amazon Prime

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

 

ABC

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

 

CBS

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

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

 

NBC

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

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

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

The CW

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

PBS

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

Showtime

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

TBS

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

HBO

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

Closing Words

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

 

So much to watch, so little time….

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

 

On the Big Screen

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

New on Netflix

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

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

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

New on Hulu

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

HBO DOCUMENTARY

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

A Note about PBS

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

Regular Recommendations and shows you might want to catch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Closing Words

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

How to Recommend TV Shows to Everyone in Your Life

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