Autumn leaves…

I played golf the other day in single digit temperatures. It was bracing! This will be my last week of organized golf culminating with a closing dinner at Blue Mountain Village for our Friday morning golfers. As our northern season winds down, we look forward to balmier temps in Florida where we should arrive around Oct. 24. Meanwhile, fingers crossed that the impending arrival of Hurricane Ian misses Naples and our part of the Gulf Coast as it tracks north from Cuba. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

ABC

Jeopardy is back Mon – Fri, Ken Jennings is the permanent regular host, all is well with the world!!!

Apple

Bad Sisters  (10 episodes) Follows the Garvey sisters, who are bound together by the death of their parents and a promise to always protect each other. Delightful black comedy featuring Brian Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Claes Bang, Sharon Horgan. It will make you root for the Garvey sisters as they deal with their horrible brother-in-law.

Sidney (1 h 51 m) Follows the real life story of Sidney Poitier, the Oscar winner of 1964. Very touching look back at his life and career.

CBC Gem

Noughts and Crosses (Season 2, 4 episodes) The conclusion to this Sci-Fi twist on the Romeo and Juliet story set in a dangerous, alternate world where racism divides society. Very enjoyable!

Deconstructing Karen (Documentary, 1 h 51 m) A group of nice white ladies who haven’t got a racist bone in their bodies join Saira Rao & Regina Jackson for a provocative dinner conversation about the unwitting ways they’re upholding everyday white supremacy. Definitely not for everyone, but if you want to view the most woke show I’ve ever watched, this is your doc.

LIDO TV (6 episodes) Created and hosted by the Grammy-nominated artist Lido Pimienta, LIDO TV is a variety show filled with unhinged sketches interviews, music and documentaries that cover timely topics with humour and heart. Every bit as woke as Deconstructing Karen. Episode 1 focused on Colonialism! Not for everyone.

CBS

FBI (Season 5, 5 episodes listed so far) From the Dick Wolf production team. This procedural drama about the inner working of the New York office of the FBI is back! So are its sister shows, FBI Most Wanted and FBI International. For those who like their crime series neat and unambiguously pro-police.

CNN

The Murdochs: Empire of Influence (6 episodes, debuts tonight) It will explore the rise of Rupert Murdoch, his influence in the world and his battle of succession. Advance reports archly observe that Succession is real!

Disney

Andor (24 episodes) Prequel series to Star Wars’ Rogue One. In an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue, Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a Rebel hero. Stars Diego Luna, Stellan Skarsgard, Genevieve O’Reilly. This has been described as Star Wars without the star wars. You don’t have to be a fanatical SW fan to enjoy this!

Fox

Monarch (11 episodes) The Romans have created a country music dynasty but when their reign as country royalty is put in jeopardy, Nicolette will stop at nothing to protect her family’s legacy. Dreck warning. This is awfully soapy. Stars Trace Adkins (not the best actor around), Anna Friel, Susan Sarandon (now mostly in flashbacks).

HBO Crave

Industry (16 episodes) Young bankers and traders make their way in the financial world in the aftermath of the Covid market collapse. in this cut throat and gruelling world, the young bankers misbehave like the young characters on Euphoria.

House of the Dragon (Prequel to Game of Thrones, 11 episodes) This tells the story of an internal succession war within House Targaryen at the height of its power, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Bonus: there are lots of dragons! Loving this so far!

HGTV

No Demo Reno (20 episodes) I can’t believe I didn’t know this series existed and now I’m addicted. She redecorates 2 houses in each show. Value for money! Perhaps the most energetic woman on TV, Jennifer Todryk races through each episode showing people how to rejuvenate their homes without necessarily taking down any walls. Love it!

NBC

New Amsterdam (Season 5, 7 episodes listed so far) Maudlin TV returns. Now Max is mourning the loss of his relationship with Helen, there’s a Bollywood salute, Iggy has a new autistic patient, etc. I can’t look away.

Netflix

Athena (1 h 39 m) Hours after the tragic death of their youngest brother in unexplained circumstances, three siblings have their lives thrown into chaos. Heart pounding tracking shots and non-stop action. You will never want to visit a predominantly Muslim Paris suburb after this. From Director Roman Gavras (son of the famous Costa Gavras).

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir (Documentary, 1 h 41 m) A look at the life and work of author Amy Tan (author of The Joy Luck Club). I loved this very touching biography.

The Perfumier (in German with English subtitles, 1 h 36 m) A police detective tries to get back his girlfriend as well as his sense of smell, as he gets help from a perfume maker who uses deadly methods to find the perfect perfume. I found this to be a fever dream of a movie. I mostly snoozed through it (started watching way too late one night), so I have a very confused memory of what I actually watched.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (10 episodes) Story of the Milwaukee Monster fold from the perspective of the victims and police incompetence that allowed the Wisconsin native to go on a multiyear killing spree. I watched this because Ryan Murphy produced it for Netflix and his shows are usually very entertaining. Also the cast includes Evan Peters, Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald, Michael Learned, etc. However, I did start watching this one too late and found it so suspenseful and terrifying that I couldn’t get through the first episode. I will try again when I am not so tired and afraid.

PBS

The US and the Holocaust (3 episodes ran this past week on Sun, Tues, and Wed) From Ken Burns and narrated by Peter Coyote. Exploring America’s response to the Holocaust, and how it challenged the ideals of democracy. This incredibly moving series is from master documentarian Ken Burns and it will mesmerize and sadden you with the heartbreaking tale of how the world ignored a genocide.

Sister Boniface Mysteries (from Britbox, 12 episodes) Our local PBS affiliate is running episodes of this. The investigations of Sister Boniface of St Vincent’s Convent – nun, moped rider, wine maker and part-time forensic scientist. Kind of a slapstick version of Father Brown (of which this is a spin off) set in the 1960’s with a nun with a penchant for crime scene investigations (having learned her trade through her service at Bletchley during the war). A very silly spoof of the cozy mystery genre.

Van der Valk (Season 2 debuts tonight, 3 episodes) A Dutch detective takes on criminal cases in Amsterdam using insightful human observation and his natural street smarts. Stars Marc Warren. Enjoy Masterpiece Mystery fans!

Prime

The Rings of Power (9 episodes) Epic drama set thousands of years before the events of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It follows an ensemble cast of characters both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emerence of evil to middle-earth. I now remember why I found the Rings films endless and unrelievedly dull. They are all about Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, harfoots and the like. It is the most expensive TV series ever made, $465 Million for eight episodes. You be the judge, but I simply am not a Tolkien fan. I far prefer shows with dragons. I continue to watch and find myself after 5 episodes in mainly interested in what is happening with Galadriel’s quest.

Streaming

Three Thousand Years of Longing (1 h 48 m) a lonely scholar, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Charming fairy tale for adults. Stars Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba.

Speak No Evil (1 h 37 m) A Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on a holiday. What ws supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly starts unraveling as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of unpleasantness. I was terrified by the building suspense in this and had to stop watching it before the first hour was up. I may try again when I am braver.

The Good Fight (Season 6, 10 episodes) After being promoted to top partner at the firm, Liz is forced to accept Ri’Chard Lane as a new name partner brought on to help manage her staff and client load. Meanwhile Diane experiences deja vu. Andre Braugher and John Slattery join the cast. I’m willing to watch, but must confess to a little feeling of deja vu myself.

Showcase

Midwich Cuckoos (from SkyTV, 7 episodes) A small village in England is completely subdued by an alien presence for an entire day. Upon waking, it is discovered that numerous women in the town are pregnant. Adapted from the novel by John Wyndham (whose sci-fi books fascinated me as a teenager), and previously adapted for film as Village of the Damned. Stars Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley. I am loving this spooky series! 

The Resort (from Peacock, 8 episodes) Exploring love and the weird things we do in the name of it, encased in an elaborate true-crime conspiracy. Stars Cristin Milioti and Skyler Gisondo. Full of twists and turns, this show is already testing my patience and I’m only one episode in. I will give it another chance to intrigue me.

W

Vampire Academy (10 episodes) We’re in teen vampire country here. I do love a good vampire or werewolf story. Not sure yet if this is one of those. In a world of privilege and glamour, two young women’s friendship transcends their strikingly different classes as they prepare to complete their education and enter royal vampire society. Kind of silly so far.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

Looking forward to a week of dinners with friends, a visit with my new grandson, golf and mahjong. Shana Tova to those of you observing Rosh Hashanah this week. Stay safe everybody whose travels may take them into unpleasant weather (yikes, good friends have just arrived in Florida!) For those of you fascinated by the Murdoch saga, here is a little taste from the CNN website:

https://www.cnn.com/shows/the-murdochs-empire-of-influence

Fall is here…

The trees are changing and our drive up from Toronto featured gorgeous splashes of red. The golf course was cold and blustery the other day, but the change in colours was dramatic. We got to spend a perfect warm day walking around town and then dining out under the stars with longtime friends. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

ABC

Jeopardy is back Mon – Fri, Ken Jennings is the permanent regular host, all is well with the world!!!

The View is back Mon – Fri, Anna Navarro is a regular co-host (although she lives in Miami and must commute for her job). Alyssa Farah Griffin is the new conservative panelist and has great credentials from her Trump White House tenure and Sunny Hostin is gunning for her! The arguments have started!

Apple

Bad Sisters (10 episodes) Follows the Garvey sisters, who are bound together by the death of their parents and a promise to always protect each other. Delightful black comedy featuring Brian Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Claes Bang, Sharon Horgan. It will make you root for the Garvey sisters as they deal with their horrible brother-in-law.

Five Days at Memorial (8 episodes) Doctors and nurses at the intensive care unit of a New Orleans hospital struggle with treating patients during Hurricane Katrina when the facility is without power for 5 days. Incredibly moving with great performances from Vera Farmiga and Cherry Jones.

FX

What we do in the Shadows (Season 4, 10 episodes) Hilarious if you love vampires. The gang is back in the Staten Island house and are running a vampire nightclub. Episode 8 is a comic masterpiece as the mansion gets an HGTV-style makeover starring Nick Kroll as Simon the Devious.

HBO/Crave

House of the Dragon (Prequel to Game of Thrones, 11 episodes) This tells the story of an internal succession war within House Targaryen at the height of its power, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Bonus: there are lots of dragons! Loving this so far!

Industry (16 episodes) Young bankers and traders make their way in the financial world in the aftermath of the Covid market collapse. in this cut throat and gruelling world, the young bankers misbehave like the young characters on Euphoria.

American Gigolo (originally made for Showtime, 8 episodes) Follows Julian Kaye after his wrongful conviction release following 15 years in prison as he struggles to find his footing in the modern-day Los Angeles sex industry and navigates his complicated relationships. Jon Bernthal, Gretchen Mol, Leland Order, Rosie O’Donnell star. Honestly, I don’t know whether I care how this one ends up. Bernthal is so thoroughly unappealing in this and O’Donnell seems to think she is playing a hard boiled detective in a ’30’s crime film. I may give it another chance, but so far, I am not intrigued by its weirdness. Same Blondie music as the original film.

CBC Gem

Our House (from BBC, 4 episodes) This tells the story of Fiona Lawson, who arrives home one day to find a family of strangers moving into her house and her husband, Bram, has disappeared. Stars Tuppence Middleton, Martin Compston, Rupert Penry-Jones. Now I was intrigued by this premise and loved the fact that it was only an 4 episode commitment. I enjoyed the twists and turns of this suspense series, but I am a British crime series addict.

The North Water (5 episodes) A disgraced former military doctor embarks as a doctor aboard a whaler bound for the Arctic. His quest for redemption becomes a fight for survival in the desolate reaches of the arctic. Stars Jack O’Connell, Colin Farrell, Sam Spruell. I only lasted one episode in to this gruelling drama, and that was before they got to the really gruelling part in the Arctic. Too grim for me, I’m afraid.

Netflix

The Laurenskog Disappearance (in Norwegian with English subtitles, 6 episodes). What happened to Anne-Elisabeth Hagen? Where is she? Was she kidnapped by money launderers or is it her husband who may have made her disappear? This is based on a real crime story which is still not solved. It’s filmed in a quasi-documentary style, but it is a little slow and very detailed as to the investigations carried out by both the police and journalists covering the story. As much as I love Scandi crime stories, this one takes a bit of patience to watch all the way through.

PBS

Sister Boniface Mysteries (from Britbox, 12 episodes) Our local PBS affiliate is running episodes of this. The investigations of Sister Boniface of St Vincent’s Convent – nun, moped rider, wine maker and part-time forensic scientist. Kind of a slapstick version of Father Brown (of which this is a spin off) set in the 1960’s with a nun with a penchant for crime scene investigations (having learned her trade through her service at Bletchley during the war). A very silly spoof of the cozy mystery genre.

*The US and the Holocaust (debuts tonight with 3 episodes running this week on Sun, Tues, and Wed) From Ken Burns and narrated by Peter Coyote. Exploring America’s response to the Holocaust, and how it challenged the ideals of democracy. Much is expected from master documentarian Ken Burns.

Prime Video

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (9 episodes) Epic drama set thousands of years before the events of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It follows an ensemble cast of characters both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emerence of evil to middle-earth. I now remember why I found the Rings films endless and unrelievedly dull. They are all about Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, harfoots and the like. It is the most expensive TV series ever made, $465 Million for eight episodes. You be the judge, but I simply am not a Tolkien fan. I far prefer shows with dragons. I continue to watch and find myself after 4 episodes in mildly interested in what is happening with Galadriel’s quest.

Showcase

The Midwich Cuckoos (from SkyTV, 7 episodes) A small village in England is completely subdued by an alien presence for an entire day. Upon waking, it is discovered that numerous women in the town are pregnant. Adapted from the novel by John Wyndham (whose sci-fi books fascinated me as a teenager), and previously adapted for film as Village of the Damned. Stars Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley. I am loving this spooky series!

The Resort (from Peacock, 8 episodes) Exploring love and the weird things we do in the name of it, encased in an elaborate true-crime conspiracy. Stars Cristin Milioti and Skyler Gisondo. Full of twists and turns, this show is already testing my patience and I’m only one episode in. I will give it another chance to intrigue me.

Streaming

The Good Fight (Season 6, Episode 1) After being promoted to top partner at the firm, Liz is forced to accept Ri’Chard Lane as a new name partner brought on to help manage her staff and client load. Meanwhile Diane experiences deja vu. Andre Braugher and John Slattery join the cast. I’m willing to watch, but must confess to a little feeling of deja vu myself.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

Looking forward to our usual weekly activities: hopefully seeing my new grandson, playing Mahjong, playing golf and visiting with friends. It’s a drizzly day here in Thornbury but we’re having longtime friends over for lunch and that should brighten the day for us. Have a good week wherever you are! Of course I have spent a good deal of time this past week watching the coverage of the Queen’s funeral arrangements. I am still not over my fascination with the Lisa LaFlamme dismissal and include for your delight, this excerpt from the Beaverton Satirical website that slyly manages to combine a tribute to the Queen with a devious tribute to LaFlamme:

Satire from The Beaverton:

Lisa LaFlamme enjoys reporting on life of woman who got to keep job beyond age 58

My week of Covid…

Our idyllic Labour Day weekend with our family visiting us in Thornbury came to a halt when I woke up last Monday with a very sore throat. I let my family know that I would be self isolating from them (and especially our 10 week-old grandson) and those kids were packed and headed back to Toronto in no time flat. I tested negative that day, but by Wednesday I tested positive and had general cold symptoms. I’ve isolated all week long, so if you’re wondering how I could possibly have watched as much programming as I have, that’s your answer! Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Apple

Bad Sisters (10 episodes) Follows the Garvey sisters, who are bound together by the death of their parents and a promise to always protect each other. Delightful black comedy featuring Brian Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Claes Bang, Sharon Horgan. It will make you root for the Garvey sisters as they deal with their horrible brother-in-law.

Five Days at Memorial (8 episodes) Doctors and nurses at the intensive care unit of a New Orleans hospital struggle with treating patients during Hurricane Katrina when the facility is without power for 5 days. Incredibly moving with great performances from Vera Farmiga and Cherry Jones.

CBC Gem

Islands (1 h 34 m) Joshua, a shy middle-aged Filipino immigrant, has lived in the comfort of his parents’ home his entire life. As their health declines he longs for a partner, terrified of being alone after they pass. Deeply touching it will give you insight into the Filipino culture and an understanding of why they make such wonderful caregivers.

FX

What we do in the Shadows (Season 4, 10 episodes) Hilarious if you love vampires. The gang is back in the Staten Island house and are running a vampire nightclub. Episode 8 is a comic masterpiece as the mansion gets an HGTV-style makeover starring Nick Kroll as Simon the Devious.

Welcome to Wrexham (sports documentary, 8 episodes) Docuseries chronicling the purchase and stewardship of Wrexham AFC, one of football’s oldest clubs, by two Hollywood actors, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. This series explains all the stuff that North Americans do not know about the English soccer system. If you are a Ted Lasso fan, this is a must watch – at least the first episode – which is about all I can sit through, as sports documentaries, are not my cup of tea at all.

HBO Crave

House of the Dragon (Prequel to Game of Thrones, 11 episodes) This tells the story of an internal succession war within House Targaryen at the height of its power, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Bonus: there are lots of dragons! Loving this so far!

Industry (16 episodes) Young bankers and traders make their way in the financial world in the aftermath of the Covid market collapse. in this cut throat and gruelling world, the young bankers misbehave like the young characters on Euphoria.

Six Minutes to Midnight (1 h 39 m) 17 days before WWII, an English teacher and his camera disappear from a coastal boarding school with 20 German teen girls. Miller gets the job six days later secretly trying to find out what happened. An old fashioned tale of spycraft which was very much crafted by its star and writer, Eddie Izzard. It does also star Judy Dench as the school headmistress. It also features small character roles for Jim Broadbent and James D’Arcy who make the most of their screen time. A curious little suspense film.

Netflix

Casual (4 seasons, 44 episodes) a comedy series abut a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living under one roof again. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter. I had started to watch this series a few years ago in Florida and then lost track of it as it continued to air seasons on Hulu. Netflix allowed me to finally finish this saga, and I actually binge watched all the episodes. Delightful, and I will miss those characters in the same way that I still miss the Offspring characters.

Entrapped (from Iceland, 6 episodes) Police investigate the disappearance of a cult member. Although I yearned for a Scandi noir, and there was a mysterious cult and biker gang involved in this one, I drifted off to sleep before the end of Episode 6, and haven’t even looked back to see how the crime was resolved. For me, this was a cozy that transports you to the mysterious Icelandic landscape, and by the end, I didn’t actually care who committed the original crime. This is the third in a series of Trapped films and features the main cast of the two previous series including the big man Bjoren Hylnur Haraldsson.

Devil in Ohio (8 episodes) When a psychiatrist shelters a mysterious cult escapee, her world is turned upside down as the girl’s arrival threatens to tear her own family apart. Stars Emily Deschanel. Such a TV movie kind of a show! As though no one in the family had any sense of what a cult is? Had they never watched a TV series or movie about cults? Hilariously watchable.

The Imperfects (10 episodes) After an experimental gene therapy turns them into monsters three twenty-somethings band together to hunt down the scientist responsible and force him to make them human again. Kind of imperfect, but kind of fun if you like a humorous take on the whole “mutant” theme. Full disclosure: I did not last through all 10 episodes, but it was mildly enjoyable.

Ludik (from South Africa, 10 episodes) To save a kidnapped family member, an enterprising furniture tycoon must use his secret diamond smuggling operation to transport guns across the border. Stars the absolutely unappealing Arnold Vosloo in the leading role. Very typical fare. It would have helped if the lead were appealing in any way. I couldn’t bear to watch the whole thing.

PBS

Guilt (Season 2, 4 episodes) In an Edinburgh cellar, two gunshots ring out. Across town, Max McCall is released from prison.. These two events gradually converge as Max tries to rebuild his life, while new arrival Erin is trying to save hers. Stars Mark Bonnar and Emun Elliott.

Prime

Petite Maman (1 h 13 m) Nelly has just lost her grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods. One day she meets a girl her same age building a treehouse. The girls form a strong friendship. This film is magical and enchanting. I will provide no further spoilers here for this exquisite little film.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (9 episodes) Epic drama set thousands of years before the events of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It follows an ensemble cast of characters both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emerence of evil to middle-earth. I now remember why I found the Rings films endless and unrelievedly dull. They are all about Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, harfoots and the like. It is the most expensive TV series ever made, $465 Million for eight episodes. You be the judge, but I simply am not a Tolkien fan. I far prefer shows with dragons. I continue to watch and find myself after 3 episodes in mildly interested in what is happening with Galadriel’s quest.

Streaming

The Good Fight (Season 6, Episode 1) After being promoted to top partner at the firm, Liz is forced to accept Ri’Chard Lane as a new name partner brought on to help manage her staff and client load. Meanwhile Diane experiences deja vu. Andre Braugher and John Slattery join the cast. I’m willing to watch, but must confess to a little feeling of deja vu myself.

Reservation Dogs (18 episodes) Comedy series about four Native American teenagers growing up on a reservation in eastern Oklahoma. From the production team of Taika Waititi, this show is a brand of heartfelt quirkiness very much grounded in reality. The main character, Bear, is haunted by an indigenous warrior spirit – only it’s a warrior whose horse tripped before he got to the battle so his wisdom doesn’t always come off as reassuring. This series is a good mix of comedy and drama and it is also very addictive. There are some very familiar faces among the ensemble cast including Zahn McClarnon, Gary Farmer, Wes Studi, Bill Burr, Marc Maron, Megan Mullally, Garrett Hedlund, Amber Midthunder, etc. I have worked my way through Season 1 and am currently bingeing Season 2.

Wedding Season (from the UK, 9 episodes) We meet Katie on her wedding day, surrounded by the dead bodies of her new husband and every member of his family. The police think Katie’s lover Stefan did it. Stefan thinks Katie did it. Katie thinks her ex-husband did it. No one knows what the truth is. I am loving this wild romp. Much fun is made of the whole wedding tradition and what is even more important, this show is not a typical rom com, but it uses the genre and spins its own wild story. Bonus: the lead actor Gavin Drea has a charming Irish accent. Delightful and very bingeworthy.

Rogue Agent (1 h 55 m) The extraordinary and chilling story of career conman Robert Freegard who masqueraded as an MI5 agent and fooled people into going into hiding, including the woman who fell for him and then brought him down. Stars James Norton and Gemma Arterton with a heartbreaking turn by Marisa Abela (Yasmin on Industry). This is a real thriller and it’s based on a true story. The non-fiction version of this story is available on Netflix and is called The Puppet Master. I really enjoyed this film.

Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris (1 h 55 m) A widowed cleaning lady in 1950’s London falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, and decides the she must have one of her own. I read the Paul Gallico novel as a teenager and this was a must-see for me. It is an adult fairy tale and Leslie Manville doesn’t disappoint as the hard working Mrs. Harris who longs for a lovely dress. I loved this little film and have forgiven it for its feel good aspects. Sometimes, you just need a film to escape, and if you care at all about the fashion world and Paris seen in a much more innocent time, you may enjoy this film as much as I did.

Pinocchio (1 h 45 m) A puppet is brought to life by a fairy, who assigns him to lead a virtuous life in order to become a real boy. Starring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo, Lorraine Bracco, Keegan-Michael Key, Luke Evans, etc. This is a live action/stop motion animation remake of the original film. If you hated Tom Hanks in Elvis, be prepared to despise him in this one too. I found it very creepy and hard to watch. Great musical score though. It might be better to treasure your memories of the original animated film, rather than have them spoiled by this atrocious remake.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

If ever you were going to be isolated with a TV for company, the week of our monarch’s death is a great one. Amongst the many gems that were available to view, one of my favourites is the Queen with Paddington:

The family is here in Thornbury on Labour Day Weekend…

It has been a great pleasure to have my sons, daughter-in-law and baby grandson with us this past several days. Of course, it means that we don’t all sit down at the table at the same time and we never agree on what to watch together as the boys would be happy to watch the new Top Gun movie over and over again, while I long for Scandi noir. Hence, you will observe that there are several films started but not finished. A small price to pay for the company of my family. Here are some viewing suggestions:

Live On Stage

Abbamania (Live on Stage at the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood) The venerable Gayety
Theatre is celebrating its 111th birthday in Collingwood. It was the home of Theatre Collingwood for many years and has for the last several years hosted many tribute concerts. The Abbamania group is an all Canadian touring production of Abba’s greatest hits. A great troupe of talented singers and musician ably performed all the big numbers. Unfortunately, for me anyway, one medley is dedicated to the songs that never became hits, Unsung Abba, and it was easy to discern why these songs never caught on. Fortunately, the audience danced and cheered throughout the show. I don’t need to head to another Abba tribute concert for a very long time, but I did enjoy this show, except for the above medley of their loser songs.

CBC Gem

Thin Blue Line (in Swedish, Tunna bla linje, 18 episodes) An intimate portrayal of the daily life of four police officers, where the line between private and professional life blurs as tensions heighten in the crime-ridden city of Malmo, Sweden. I found this series positively addictive. Who knew that Sweden had an incredibly crime ridden city! The series, at first, seems like a reality show, and then you realize that we are watching actors. I loved this show, but be prepared to lose yourself in the storylines.

FX

What we do in the Shadows (Season 4, 10 episodes) Hilarious if you love vampires. The gang is back in the Staten Island house and are running a vampire nightclub. Episode 8 is a comic masterpiece as the mansion gets an HGTV-style makeover starring Nick Kroll as Simon the Devious.

Welcome to Wrexham (sports documentary, 8 episodes) Docuseries chronicling the purchase and stewardship of Wrexham AFC, one of football’s oldest clubs, by two Hollywood actors, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. This series explains all the stuff that North Americans do not know about the English soccer system. If you are a Ted Lasso fan, this is a must watch – at least the first episode – which is about all I can sit through, as sports documentaries, are not my cup of tea at all.

HBO/Crave

House of the Dragon (Prequel to Game of Thrones, 11 episodes) This tells the story of an internal succession war within House Targaryen at the height of its power, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Bonus: there are lots of dragons! Loving this so far!

Industry (16 episodes) Young bankers and traders make their way in the financial world in the aftermath of the 2008 collapse. in this cut throat and gruelling world, the young bankers misbehave like the young characters on Euphoria.

Ben-Hur (2016, 2h 3m) I somehow completely ignored this film when it came out, but last Sunday, I tuned in to watch this remake of the Charlton Heston classic. Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother an officer in the Roman army, returns to his homeland after years at sea to seek revenge, but finds redemption. If you are looking for an epic film set in Biblical times, this is your movie. It sank without a trace when first released, as it is hard for any remake to compete with the memory of William Wyler’s 1959 film.

Netflix

Loving Adults (from Denmark, 1 h 45 m) I must confess, I lasted about an hour into this movie before I lapsed into unconsciousness. In this suspenseful thriller, a woman goes to extreme lengths to save her marriage after discovering her husband’s affair. Kind of generic, in a Netflix sort of way. If you are addicted to Scandi noir, give it a look.

The House (stop motion animation, 1 h 37 m) Across different eras, a poor family, an anxious developer and a fed-up landlady become tied to the same mysterious house in this animated dark comedy. This animation is definitely not for kids and my family actually found it too creepy to watch. The voice actors include an all star cast of Matthew Goode, Mark Heap, Miranda Richardson, Helena Bonham carter, paul Kaye and many more. I will come back to this one some day.

DC League of Super-pets (animation, 1 h 45 m) Krypto the Super-Dog and Superman are inseparable best friends, sharing the same superpowers and fighting crime side by side in Metropolis. However, Krypto must master his own powers for a rescue mission when Superman is kidnapped. Stars the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, Marc Maron, Keanu Reeves, Thomas Middleditch and many more. Too cute for words. I will come back to this one when my grandson is old enough to enjoy it.

I Came By (1 h 50 m) Follows a young graffiti artist who discovers a shocking secret that would put him and the ones closest to him in danger. Stars Hugh Bonneville, Kelly Macdonald, George MacKay. Dark and truly shocking in its violence. No spoilers here.

PBS

Guilt (Season 2, 4 episodes) In an Edinburgh cellar, two gunshots ring out. Across town, Max McCall is released from prison.. These two events gradually converge as Max tries to rebuild his life, while new arrival Erin is trying to save hers. Stars Mark Bonnar and Emun Elliott.

Rise of the Bolsonaros (Documentary, 1 h 54 m) This feature length documentary about the controversial president of Brail, Jair Bolsonaro, tells the story of his extraordinary rise from relative obscurity to the ultimate seat of South American power. Easily the scariest thing I watched all week. If only it were fiction, instead it’s about a phenomenally successful dictator who manages to out-trump Trump in his thuggery.

Prime

The Rings of Power (9 episodes) Epic drama set thousands of years before the events of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It follows an ensemble cast of characters both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emerence of evil to middle-earth. I now remember why I found the Rings films endless and unrelievedly dull. They are all about Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, harfoots and the like. It is the most expensive TV series ever made, $465 Million for eight episodes. You be the judge, but I simply am not a Tolkien fan. I far prefer shows with dragons.

Streaming

Animal Kingdom (75 episodes) This great saga of a California crime family has come to an end. No spoilers here, but if you haven’t watched the Australian film this series is based on, watch it ad then come back to the series for a look at a great American adaptation.

The Black Phone (1 h 43 m) After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims. Starring Ethan Hawke and Jeremy Davies. A great little thriller with terrific performances from the child actors. No spoilers here, but it is uncannily similar to the British film I Came By in its subject material. Such a coincidence that I watched the two films almost back-to-back, and far preferred this one.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

Whether you are still summering in a cottage somewhere (and then probably not reading this as you may have no wifi), or you are in the city, enjoy these last glorious summer days. It’s probably going to rain most of the day here in Thornbury. However, that’s OK as we spent most of our day yesterday outside and are due for an indoors day. I include for your amusement the CNN piece on the firing of Lisa Laflamme. CTV, you know you’ve screwed up big time, when CNN covers the story:

Where did the summer go?

Well it finally happened! I lost my entire blog in some kind of glitch with WordPress, the publisher. As I don’t have the heart to recreate it from scratch, I’m sending you my very rough version. Just a list really of some of the stuff I have watched this week. I’ll be back next week with the usual version.

The leaves are starting to fall, nights are getting cooler, wow, this summer went by in a flash. We are looking forward to a whole week in Thornbury leading up to the Labour Day Weekend and are hoping our kids join us up here for at least part of the time. We are headed out to a local waterfront restaurant tonight before it gets too cool for such outings. I’ve been enjoying Yoga on the pier on Sunday mornings the last few weeks and am looking forward to tomorrow’s early morning class. In the meantime here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Apple

Bad Sisters

Five Days at Memorial

Loot

Netflix

Mo

Prime

The Outlaws

The Burning Sea (North Sea)

A League of their Own

The Contractor

PBS

Nature: Tequila Bats

American Experience: The Great Flood

Guilt

The Boleyn Family

Streaming

Nope

Signing off for the week!

PS

If you enjoy a list type format, have a look at Hot and Streamy a delightful blog posted to the Internet which always manages to inject humour into their weekly updates.

Diapers and Donuts…

Yesterday a wonderful group of women came together to celebrate my dear grandson’s arrival. My son and daughter-in-law brought Baby Ethan for the day and we feasted on what are possibly the world’s tastiest donuts on a beautiful summer day in our backyard. It was lovely to have many longtime friends together, especially since the group included two very special friends who have been dealing with serious health challenges this past year and who have successfully avoided getting Covid when all around them were getting sick. Hopefully, we have turned a corner in this seemingly endless battle. Thanks to all of you, especially the dear friend who came up with the idea of the Nana party, sent out the invitations and who provided all the beautiful flowers and decor, delicious food and drink, and set-up and clean-up duties. As the Beach Boys so eloquently said, God only knows where I’d be without you.

Meanwhile, here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Live on Stage 

Rock ‘n’ Roll is here to Stay (from Theatre Collingwood at the Marsh Street Centre in Clarksburg) This little touring production created and led by singer Lisa Way does a rousing musical trip through the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Lisa Way, accompanied by the very talented Wayward Wind Band (who are all great performers and musicians in their own right), is a dynamic performer who wows with every song she does and is capable of singing (and dancing) in every style of rock from Doo Wop to Heavy Metal. Her very talented musicians all perform as soloists as well and are tremendously versatile in their singing and playing. If you missed their Theatre Collingwood run, try and catch this travelling show if you can.

Apple

Surface (8 episodes) A woman’s quest to rebuild her life after a suicide attempt, and her struggle to understand all the things that led up to that moment. A slow burn of a series that unveils the layers of this mystery very slowly and subtly. Strs Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. 

Loot (11 episodes) After divorcing her husband of 20 years, Molly Novak must figure out what to do with her $87 billion settlement. She decides to reengage with her charitable foundation and reconnect with the real world – finding herself along the way. Great cast includes Maya Rudolph, Olivier Martinez, Adam Scott. Kind of broad and over the top, but I’m willing to hang in for as many of the 11 episodes as I can.

CBC Gem

A Life in Ten Pictures (from the BBC, 6 episodes) A series of extraordinary lives each unlocked by just a handful of images, from iconic shots to private snaps, their secrets revealed by those who know their stories best. The life stories of Freddie Mercury, Elizabeth Taylor, Tupac Shakur, Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, and Amy Winehouse are all told in new and interesting ways

Netflix

Never Have I Ever (Season 3., 10 episodes) From Mindy Kaling’s production team, this delightful series is totally bingeworthy. The complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl is inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood. Plus Canadian content alert: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a Canadian actress who was born and raised in Mississauga and graduated from Meadowvale Secondary School. You’ll recognize many of the performers in character roles like Poorna Jagannathan (who plays the mother), Sendhil Ramamurthy (who plays the dad) and many more. I loved this show. Treat yourself!

Wedding Season (1 h 38 m) We’re in Indian American Rom Com territory here. Pressured by their parents to find spouses, Asha and Ravi pretend to date during a summer of weddings only to find themselves falling for each other. Again, you’ll see some very familiar faces in the supporting cast (Veena Sood who plays the mother and Rizwan Manji who plays the father). If you are looking for something cute and light (even if it is overly long and totally predictable), this may be your movie. Worth watching even if you fast forward through some of it, but don’t switch off until you have seen the delightful Bollywood dance sequence at the end.

Inside the Mind of a Cat (1 h 7 m) Full disclosure: there are some shows I watch as a cure for insomnia, and I watched this one for its unchallenging content and gorgeous photography of cats. It didn’t disappoint and for what I was able to stay awake for, it was delightful in delving into the mind of felines to reveal their true capabilities. For all my cat-loving friends.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (from Korea, 16 episodes) About an autistic 27-year-old lawyer. Due to her high IQ of 164, impressive memory, and creative thought process, the brilliant Woo Young Woo graduated at the top of her class from a prestigious law school. I believe that this is from the same production team who were responsible for the original Korean version of The Good Doctor. Same concept, but now we have an autistic lawyer, rather than doctor. This is a wonderful, heartfelt, and intriguing journey with a charming lead. It does an excellent job exploring both its characters as well as its legal narrative. Each episode is perhaps a bit too long (I think Koreans must have longer attention spans than Western audiences) but they are all touching.

Fantastic Fungi (Documentary, 1 h 21 m) This is a descriptive time-lapse journey about the magical mysterious and medicinal world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth that began 3.5 billion years ago. Gorgeous photography and you will learn more about mushrooms than you ever thought possible. Full disclosure (I am only halfway through, but it seems like I have been watching it for days), so again, I think I have too short an attention span for this entire film, but for what I have managed to stay awake for, it is pretty fascinating.

PBS 

Grantchester  ( Season 7, 6 Episodes) : the dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes is back!

W

Five Bedrooms (from Australia, 24 Episodes and is back for Season 3) Now they’re running the annex room as a B&B. Still awfully silly, the disparate characters are still behaving goofily and now there’s a surly teenager in their midst as Ben’s daughter wants to move in with them. Not quite up to Offspring standards as a feel good romantic comedy series.

HBO/Crave

***House of the Dragon (prequel to Game of Thrones, 10 episodes, premieres tonight!) The story of the House Targaryen set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. A great cast includes Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, Eve Best, Rhys Ifans, Graham McTavish, Bill Paterson, and many more. If you like epic fantasy series that feature dragons, then this may be your show. I await it anxiously!

The Princess (Documentary, 1 h 49 m) Princess Diana’s story is told exclusively through archival material creating a bold and immersive narrative of her life and death. It also illuminates how the public’s attitude to the monarchy was, and still is. Over footage of Princess Diana visiting India, a commentator remarks, “When you put a modern person in an ancient institution, they will be destroyed.” This is really the only documentary about Diana you need to watch as it is not just a biography of Diana, but rather of the way the media shaped the perception of her public life. I was riveted!

Icahn: The Restless Billionaire (Documentary, 1 h 41 m) Explores the fascinating contradictions at the heart of the famed financier, Carl Icahn. Amassing close to $20 billion dollars over the last half century and at the forefront of some of the most legendary business deals of our times. Okay, full disclosure: I have a weakness for documentaries about billionaires even though I have a very poor grasp of stocks and investments and big shorts and corporate takeovers and all the rest. I know almost nothing about how the Stock Market works. Icahn made billions by playing with the stock market and by taking over struggling companies and then selling them for a profit. Interesting view of a man who loves what he does and who doesn’t have any qualms about what he does.

Prime Video

The Cursed (original title Eight for Silver, 1 h 51 m) In rural 19th century France, a mysterious, possibly supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride, a pathologist, comes to town to investigate the danger – and exorcise some of his own demons in the process. Stars Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly and Alistair Petrie. Spoiler alert: This is a very original twist on werewolf stories. I found it dark and fascinating, but I am a sucker for this sort of thing.

The Outlaws (from the BBC, Season 2, 6 episodes) Seven strangers from different walks of life forced together to complete a community payback sentence in Bristol. Stars Christopher Walken, Darren Boyd, Elinor Tomlinson, Ian McElhinney, Claes Bang and Stephen Merchant. Not quite as delightful as Season 1 but still mildly amusing.

Streaming

Better Call Saul (63 episodes) The story of the man behind Saul finally came to an end last week. What a twisting and complicated tale it was. Bob Odenkirk delivered a masterful performance of this very driven and conflicted man. Even if you never watched Breaking Bad, this prequel series is worth watching in its own right for the great performances delivered by its wonderful cast. I will miss seeing Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael McKean and Tony Dalton, among many others.

Evil (37 episodes) A skeptical clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue collar contractor as they investigate supposed abnormal events, including demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural’s at work. If you loved The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, this show is for you! Also, very funny. Andrea Martin is doing a guest stint as a nun who sees demons everywhere.

Vengeance (1 h 47 m) A writer from NYC attempted to solve the murder of a girl he hooked up with and travels down south to investigate the circumstances of her death and discover what happened to her. Stars B.J. Novak, Boyd Holbrook, Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, John Mayer. This is an incredibly complex satire of contemporary life told through the lens of a navel-gazing anti-hero. The film is jumbled, fitfully amusing and occasionally fascinating. Much more complex than you’d anticipate and very unsuited to its title which sets you up for an action thriller, and then delivers the complete opposite.

Animal Kingdom (75 episodes, now in Season 6) The Cody family is still up to their necks in crime, and in flashbacks we visit Janine as a younger mother and see how badly she managed to screw up her children.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

It’s been a busy week. I had loads of overnight visitors and one of my oldest friends came for a day visit with her daughter which was very special. We are headed back to town for a few days to see friends and family. I had the great pleasure of re-watching Elvis the other night with some friends who hadn’t yet seen it. Here’s Austin Butler’s masterful performance of If I Can Dream which expresses Elvis’ admiration for Martin Luther King and is the start of a career comeback for him:

George is off on a golf holiday…the mice will play!

George will be away golfing in BC this week. This trip to Kelowna has been cancelled by Covid and forest fires for the last two years so the guys are delighted to be headed there on Monday morning. I will be having a little company come to stay with me and am looking forward to some girls’ outings in the area. Next weekend I will be celebrating the arrival of Baby Ethan with a Sip and See party for lady friends in the Thornbury area, who will get to meet Ethan and Candice while enjoying a Diapers and Donuts theme.

In the meantime, here are some viewing suggestions for you:

AMC

Better Call Saul (Season 6, 13 episodes) It’s the final season and there is only 1 episode left that show how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman. Watch for the return of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as we conclude the prequel that led to Breaking Bad. A fabulous, mesmerizing noir series.

Apple

Surface (8 episodes) A woman’s quest to rebuild her life after a suicide attempt, and her struggle to understand all the things that led up to that moment. A slow burn of a series that unveils the layers of this mystery very slowly and subtly. Strs Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. 

Loot (11 episodes) After divorcing her husband of 20 years, Molly Novak must figure out what to do with her $87 billion settlement. She decides to reengage with her charitable foundation and reconnect with the real world – finding herself along the way. Great cast includes Maya Rudolph, Olivier Martinez, Adam Scott. Kind of broad and over the top, but I’m willing to hang in for as many of the 11 episodes as I can.

Blackbird (6 episodes) Jimmy Keene is sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison but he cuts a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer. Keene has to elicit a confession from Larry Hall to find the bodies of as many as eighteen women. Stars Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear and Ray Liotta. Egerton is amazing as the bulked up drug dealer. He plays American awfully well for a Brit.

CBC Gem

Alma’s Not Normal (from the BBC, 8 episodes, all watched in one sitting!) After a recent break-up, Alma tries to get her life back on track. But with no job, no qualifications, and a rebellious streak a mile wide, that won’t be easy. Meanwhile her mum, who is battling a heroin addiction, has been sectioned for arson, and her vampish Grandma Joan wants nothing to do with her. Very funny!

HBO/Crave

Parallel Mothers (in Spanish with English subtitles, 2 h 3 m) The story of two mothers who bond in unexpected ways after giving birth the same day. Directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Penelope Cruz. Mysterious and compelling, this story takes some unexpected turns.

Streaming

Prey (1 h 39 m) The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth. I loved this movie! Girl power! Amber Midthunder is terrific as Naru and Dakota Beavers shines as her brother Taabe. What a refreshing take on the type of horror film that usually makes me want to cover my eyes. My son tells me that now I have to watch Predator 2 to see the links between movies. I don’t think so.

Gaslit (8 episodes) a modern take on the 1970s political Watergate scandal centring on untold stories and forgotten characters of the time. Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham star. Julia Roberts gives the performance of her career as Martha Mitchell who is cruelly mentally abused by her husband John Mitchell.

Unprecedented (Documentary, 3 episodes) A ground-breaking doc series with exclusive access to President Donald J. Trump and the First Family as he launches his 2020 re-election campaign, disputes the results of the Presidential election and shakes the foundations of American democracy. This inside look at the Trump family will astonish you.

The Last Movie Stars (Documentary, 6 episodes) Directed by Ethan Hawke, this series is a celebration of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s lives. Great archival footage of their lives and wondrous film clips from their lifetime of film making. Based on transcripts of interviews with Newman, the voices are supplied by George Clooney, Laura Linney, Billy Crudup, Alessandro Nivola, Karen Allen, and many others. If you are a movie fan, you will love this.

The Orville  (Season 3, 10 episodes) an exploratory ship from Earth faces interstellar challenges 400 years in the future. A delightful parody of space based science fiction like Star Trek.

Evil (37 episodes) A skeptical clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue collar contractor as they investigate supposed abnormal events, including demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural’s at work. If you loved The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, this show is for you! Also, very funny. Andrea Martin is doing a guest stint as a nun who sees demons everywhere.

Animal Kingdom (75 episodes, now in Season 6) The Cody family is still up to their necks in crime, and in flashbacks we visit Janine as a younger mother and see how badly she managed to screw up her children.

PBS 

Grantchester  ( Season 7, 6 Episodes) : the dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes is back!

W

Five Bedrooms (from Australia, 24 Episodes and is back for Season 3) Now they’re running the annex room as a B&B. Still awfully silly, the disparate characters are still behaving goofily and now there’s a surly teenager in their midst as Ben’s daughter wants to move in with them. Not quite up to Offspring standards as a feel good romantic comedy series.

PrimeVideo

The Outlaws (from the BBC, Season 2, 6 episodes) Seven strangers from different walks of life forced together to complete a community payback sentence in Bristol. Stars Christopher Walken, Darren Boyd, Elinor Tomlinson, Ian McElhinney, Claes Bang and Stephen Merchant. Not quite as delightful as Season 1 but still mildly amusing.

Paper Girls (8 episodes) A few hours after 1988 Halloween night, four 12-year-old girls have to face a mission. Trapped in a complicated conflict, they will travel in time to save the world. Very much in the Stranger Things mode, we now have girl power operating.

The Duke (1 h 35 m) In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60-year-old taxi driver, steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. Stars Jim Broadbent, James Wilby, Matthew Goode, Helen Mirren, Anna Maxwell Martin. Very sweet and charming little British film based on actual events. If you want a quintessentially English feel good comedy, then this is your film.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

Looking forward to a week that features a Sunday jazz concert in our waterfront park, Golf, Yoga, Mahjong, time with ladyfriends, etc.

Here are some words of advice sent to me in an email recently. Words to live by.

Some fun stuff here!

I’m responsible for what I say, not what you understand.

Common sense is like deodorant.  The people who need it the most never use it.

My tolerance for idiots is extremely low these days. I used to have some immunity built up, but obviously there’s a new strain out there.

It’s not my age that bothers me; it’s the side effects.

I’m not saying I’m old and worn out, but I make sure I’m nowhere near the curb on trash day.

As I watch this generation try and rewrite our history, I’m sure of one thing:  It will be misspelled and have no punctuation.

Me, sobbing: “I can’t see you anymore. . . .   I’m not going to let you hurt me again.” My Trainer: “It was one sit-up.”

As I’ve gotten older, people think I’ve become lazy.  The truth is I’m just being more energy efficient.

I haven’t gotten anything done today. I’ve been in the Produce Department trying to open this stupid plastic bag.

If you find yourself feeling useless, remember it took 20 years, trillions of dollars, and four presidents to replace the Taliban with the Taliban.

Turns out that being a “senior” is mostly just googling how to do stuff.

I want to be 18 again and ruin my life differently.  I have new ideas.

God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world.  Then he made the earth round. . and laughed and laughed and laughed.

I’m on two diets. I wasn’t getting enough food on one.

I put my scale in the bathroom corner and that’s where the little liar will stay until it apologizes.

My mind is like an internet browser. At least 19 open tabs, 3 of them are frozen, and I have no clue where the music is coming from.

Hard to believe I once had a phone attached to a wall, and when it rang, I picked it up without knowing who was calling.

Apparently RSVPing to a wedding invitation “Maybe next time” isn’t the correct response.

She says I keep pushing her buttons.  If that were true, I would have found mute by now.

So you’ve been eating hot dogs and McChickens all your life, but you won’t take the vaccine because you don’t know what’s in it.  Are you kidding me?

There is no such thing as a grouchy old person.  The truth is that once you get old, you stop being polite and start being truthful.

2 garden parties this weekend!

Today I viewed 6 lovely gardens in the area as a fundraiser for the Meaford Hospital and tomorrow we are going to an outdoor wine tasting and food pairing at the Georgian Hills Vineyard in Clarksburg which is a fundraiser for Theatre Collingwood. Delighted to support two great organizations that serve this community. Meanwhile, here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Live on Stage

& Juliet (Live Musical at the Princess of Wales Theatre) What a delight to attend this very lively show based on the music of Max Martin, composer and producer extraordinaire, second only to Lennon and McCartney in number of hit singles. He has composed for Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, Brittney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Adam Lambert, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, and many more. The show imagines a future for Juliet after Romeo. The crowd was up and cheering throughout the show!! So enjoyable!!

A Scandal for all Seasons (live comedy at Theatre Collingwood, Simcoe Street Theatre) Oh there are no words to describe this very silly comedy set in Barrie, Ontario. Two wealthy women plot to gain ascendancy in the town’s social hierarchy. Very, very silly. A three hander, so very difficult to leave a theatre that was poorly attended in the first place without it being obvious.

Netflix

The Sandman (Fantasy, 10 episodes) Upon escaping after decades of imprisonment by a mortal wizard, Dream, the personification of dreams, sets about to reclaim his lost equipment. Tom Sturridge stars and is supported by an amazing cast that includes Patton Oswald, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman, Stephen Fry, Gwendoline Christie, John Cameron Mitchell, and many more. For fantasy lovers only, based on the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman.

AMC

Better Call Saul (Season 6, 13 episodes) It’s the final season and there are only 3 episodes left that show how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman. Watch for the return of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as we conclude the prequel that led to Breaking Bad. A fabulous, mesmerizing noir series.

Streaming

Gaslit (8 episodes) a modern take on the 1970s political Watergate scandal centring on untold stories and forgotten characters of the time. Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham star. Julia Roberts gives the performance of her career as Martha Mitchell who is cruelly mentally abused by her husband John Mitchell.

Unprecedented (Documentary, 3 episodes) A ground-breaking doc series with exclusive access to President Donald J. Trump and the First Family as he launches his 2020 re-election campaign, disputes the results of the Presidential election and shakes the foundations of American democracy. This inside look at the Trump family will astonish you.

The Last Movie Stars (Documentary, 6 episodes) Directed by Ethan Hawke, this series is a celebration of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s lives. Great archival footage of their lives and wondrous film clips from their lifetime of film making. Based on transcripts of interviews with Newman, the voices are supplied by George Clooney, Laura Linney, Billy Crudup, Alessandro Nivola, Karen Allen, and many others. If you are a movie fan, you will love this.

The Orville  (Season 3, 10 episodes) an exploratory ship from Earth faces interstellar challenges 400 years in the future. A delightful parody of space based science fiction like Star Trek.

Evil (37 episodes) A skeptical clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue collar contractor as they investigate supposed abnormal events, including demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural’s at work. If you loved The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, this show is for you! Also, very funny. Andrea Martin is doing a guest stint as a nun who sees demons everywhere.

Animal Kingdom (75 episodes, now in Season 6) The Cody family is still up to their necks in crime, and in flashbacks we visit Janine as a younger mother and see how badly she managed to screw up her children.

Apple

Surface (8 episodes) A woman’s quest to rebuild her life after a suicide attempt, and her struggle to understand all the things that led up to that moment. A slow burn of a series that unveils the layers of this mystery very slowly and subtly. Strs Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. 

Loot (11 episodes) After divorcing her husband of 20 years, Molly Novak must figure out what to do with her $87 billion settlement. She decides to reengage with her charitable foundation and reconnect with the real world – finding herself along the way. Great cast includes Maya Rudolph, Olivier Martinez, Adam Scott. Kind of broad and over the top, but I’m willing to hang in for as many of the 11 episodes as I can.

Blackbird (6 episodes) Jimmy Keene is sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison but he cuts a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer. Keene has to elicit a confession from Larry Hall to find the bodies of as many as eighteen women. Stars Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear and Ray Liotta. Egerton is amazing as the bulked up drug dealer. He plays American awfully well for a Brit.

CBS

Departure (CBS, 2 seasons, Season 2 6 episodes) Such schlock! Kendra Malley is called to the US to investigate a high-speed train crash in rural Michigan. Stars Archie Panjabi and Jason O’Mara as well as a host of Canadians in supporting roles including David Hewlett, Greg Bryk, Wendy Crewson, and sadly Christopher Plummer in what must have been his final acting job. Oh this is so bad as our aviation expert from Season 1 is mow a train crash expert. This is absolutely ridiculous but I can’t look away because of the Canadian content and actors. Just awful. Watch at your own risk. This is being burned off on CBS as a summer replacement series, but I’m surprised they are showing it as it is just unredeemably bad.

PBS 

Grantchester  ( Season 7, 6 Episodes) : the dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes is back!

W

Five Bedrooms (from Australia, 24 Episodes and is back for Season 3) Now they’re running the annex room as a B&B. Still awfully silly, the disparate characters are still behaving goofily and now there’s a surly teenager in their midst as Ben’s daughter wants to move in with them. Not quite up to Offspring standards as a feel good romantic comedy series.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

This week is full of golf, yoga, Mahjong and now, babysitting! I am going to try and give my son and daughter-in-law one day a week of babysitting support so that they have a day off to do stuff sans baby. So looking forward to getting to know my new grandson. Have a wonderful week wherever you are!!

My husband actually sent me this very funny news about Wal-Mart’s new wine initiative. I hope you get a giggle out of it:

Wal-Mart announced that, sometime in 2022 it will begin offering customers a new discount item; Wal-Marts own brand of wine.

The world’s largest retail chain is teaming up with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of California to produce the wines at affordable prices in the $2 to $5 range. Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to put a bottle of the Wal-Mart brand into their shopping carts but, ‘There is a market for inexpensive wine,’ said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing at University of Arkansas, Bentonville.  ‘However, branding will be very important.’

Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for the Wal-Mart wine brands and varieties.

The top surveyed names in order of popularity were:

10. Chateau Traileur Parc

9. White Trashfindel

8. Big Red Gulp

7. World Championship Riesling

6. NASCARbernet

5. Chef Boyardeaux

4. Peanut Noir

3. I Can’t Believe it’s not Vinegar

2. Grape Expectations

1. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either white meat (Possum) or red meat (Squirrel).

P.S……Don’t bother writing back to tell me that this is a hoax.  I know possum is not white meat……. 🙂

Jazz by the Bay tonight…

I can’t believe how quickly this summer is passing as tomorrow is the first day of August. We are headed to the weekly concert at the Thornbury Waterfront Park this evening for a picnic dinner with a gang of local friends. We have two theatre evenings scheduled for this week, one in Toronto, the latest Mirvish musical and then one on Friday night in Collingwood as part of Theatre Collingwood’s summer series. On top of that add in some golf, some gatherings with friends and family and it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy midsummer week. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Netflix

Capitani Season 2 (From Luxembourg with English subtitles, Season 2, 12 episodes) There are no words to describe how odd this crime series is. Season 2 takes place 4 years after the first season ends. Luc Capitani (a scruffy actor totally lacking in charisma) is working as a handyman in the station district of Luxembourg City. A prostitute hires him to investigate the disappearance of her friend. The search is cut short when Capitani locates her body in a forest, and the hunt for her killer begins. There’s a serial killer on the loose! For those longing for Scandinoir this will have to fill the bill for now, although Luxembourg is way south of Scandinavia, it has the noir to the max atmosphere going for it.

The Most Hated Man on the Internet (Documentary, 3 episodes) I only lasted through 1 episode before I gave up. This is a most odious series about a villain who is a self-proclaimed “professional life ruiner,” who posts photos of naked women online, delighting in the havoc he wreaks.

Not Just a Girl (Shania Twain Documentary, 1 h 28 m) I have never been a big fan of Shania’s, but that all changed when I watched this doc. What a voice! What a life! The woman is an incredible survivor of a heartbreaking childhood who goes from Nawshville newcomer to international icon. She transcends genres across borders amid triumphs and setbacks in this doc. Loved it! (and I wasn’t a country music fan)!!

Prime Video

Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons (Documentary, 3 episodes) Investigated with journalistic rigor by director Matt Tyrnauer, this doc tells the searing and provocative story of the Victoria’s Secret brand and its longtime CEO, the larger-than-life, enigmatic billionaire Les Wexner, good friend of Jeffrey Epstein. Fascinating!

HBO/Crave

Irma Vep (an anagram for Vampire, mostly in French with English subtitles, 8 episodes) The weirdest thing I have watched in a while. Mira is an American movie star disillusioned by her career and recent breakup, who comes to France to star as Irma Vep in a remake of the French silent film classic, “Les Vampires.” Stars Alicia Vikander, Tom Sturridge and a cameo from Kristen Stewart. There really aren’t any words to describe this batshit crazy series which is kind of a fantasy behind the scenes look at a television series being made. Some will find it unbearably pretentious, while I’m sure most will be mystified at the meandering storyline. It defies description.

AMC

Better Call Saul (Season 6, 13 episodes) It’s the final season and there are only 3 episodes left that show how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman. Watch for the return of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as we conclude the prequel that led to Breaking Bad. A fabulous, mesmerizing noir series.

CBC Gem

Son of a Critch (from Newfoundland, 14 episodes) It’s a heartfelt window into the life of a child – much older inside than his 11 years – using comedy and self-deprecation to win friends and connect with the small collection of people in his limited world. This is Mark Critch’s own life story (This Hour has 22 Minutes) and if you love Nfld as I do, you will be utterly charmed. Watch for Malcolm McDowell as Pop Critch. Endearing.

Bump (from Australia, 22 episodes) An unexpected pregnancy complicates the lives of two families. The series enters around Oly, an ambitious and high-achieving teenage girl who has a surprise baby. If you liked Offspring, you will love this charming family series. As a bonus, it depicts the emigre Chilean community in Sydney in a way that is surprisingly delightful as it shows their impressions of Aussie culture. I basically watched Season 1 in one sitting. Addictive.

Streaming

The Split (On Sundance in the US, from the UK, 3 seasons, 18 episodes) I just caught up with Season 3 of this British legal drama. The Defoes a family of female divorce lawyers, are forced to face their past following the return of their estranged father after a 30-year absence. Stars Nicola Walker, Stephen Mangan, Ian McElhinney, Damien Molony, Anna Chancellor, Anthony Head, etc. I found this series delightful and addictive.

Gaslit (8 episodes) a modern take on the 1970s political Watergate scandal centring on untold stories and forgotten characters of the time. Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham star. Julia Roberts gives the performance of her career as Martha Mitchell who is cruelly mentally abused by her husband John Mitchell.

Unprecedented (Documentary, 3 episodes) A ground-breaking doc series with exclusive access to President Donald J. Trump and the First Family as he launches his 2020 re-election campaign, disputes the results of the Presidential election and shakes the foundations of American democracy. This inside look at the Trump family will astonish you.

The Last Movie Stars (Documentary, 6 episodes) Directed by Ethan Hawke, this series is a celebration of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s lives. Great archival footage of their lives and wondrous film clips from their lifetime of film making. Based on transcripts of interviews with Newman, the voices are supplied by George Clooney, Laura Linney, Billy Crudup, Alessandro Nivola, Karen Allen, and many others. If you are a movie fan, you will love this.

The Orville  (Season 3, 10 episodes) an exploratory ship from Earth faces interstellar challenges 400 years in the future. A delightful parody of space based science fiction like Star Trek.

Evil (37 episodes) A skeptical clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue collar contractor as they investigate supposed abnormal events, including demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural’s at work. If you loved The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, this show is for you! Also, very funny. Andrea Martin is doing a guest stint as a nun who sees demons everywhere.

Animal Kingdom (75 episodes, now in Season 6) The Cody family is still up to their necks in crime, and in flashbacks we visit Janine as a younger mother and see how badly she managed to screw up her children.

Apple

Surface (8 episodes) A woman’s quest to rebuild her life after a suicide attempt, and her struggle to understand all the things that led up to that moment. A slow burn of a series that unveils the layers of this mystery very slowly and subtly. Strs Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Loot (11 episodes) After divorcing her husband of 20 years, Molly Novak must figure out what to do with her $87 billion settlement. She decides to reengage with her charitable foundation and reconnect with the real world – finding herself along the way. Great cast includes Maya Rudolph, Olivier Martinez, Adam Scott. Kind of broad and over the top, but I’m willing to hang in for as many of the 11 episodes as I can.

Blackbird (6 episodes) Jimmy Keene is sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison but he cuts a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer. Keene has to elicit a confession from Larry Hall to find the bodies of as many as eighteen women. Stars Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear and Ray Liotta. Egerton is amazing as the bulked up drug dealer. He plays American awfully well for a Brit.

CBS

Departure (CBS, 2 seasons, Season 2 6 episodes) Such schlock! Kendra Malley is called to the US to investigate a high-speed train crash in rural Michigan. Stars Archie Panjabi and Jason O’Mara as well as a host of Canadians in supporting roles including David Hewlett, Greg Bryk, Wendy Crewson, and sadly Christopher Plummer in what must have been his final acting job. Oh this is so bad as our aviation expert from Season 1 is mow a train crash expert. This is absolutely ridiculous but I can’t look away because of the Canadian content and actors. Just awful. Watch at your own risk. This is being burned off on CBS as a summer replacement series, but I’m surprised they are showing it as it is just unredeemably bad.

PBS 

Grantchester  ( Season 7, 6 Episodes) : the dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes is back!

FX

The Old Man (7 episodes) A former CIA officer who’s living off the grid, finds himself on the run from people who want to kill him. Stars Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, Alia Shawkat, Amy Brenneman. Suspenseful and fast paced, I am loving this series.

ABC

Jeopardy Weeknights (over 8000 episodes) This nightly venerable game show, is now once again hosted by Ken Jennings, and it continues to amuse, entertain and inform. Ken Jennings’ official return as host has resulted in the show running at a more sprightly pace and there have been a series of upsets with winners going quickly down to defeat by newcomers. Still a very entertaining way to spend 20 minutes every evening (fast forward through those commercials). Now that Ken is back, somehow the world seems a little better despite Ukraine, Covid, Monkey Pox, sweltering heat waves, etc. He brings a cool fresh breeze with him! I believe the series is going on hiatus until Sept. when Ken returns to host until December, followed by Bialik in January. There will be a host of tournaments when the show returns and prime time events like Celebrity Jeopardy, so stay tuned.

W

Five Bedrooms (from Australia, 24 Episodes and is back for Season 3) Now they’re running the annex room as a B&B. Still awfully silly, the disparate characters are still behaving goofily and now there’s a surly teenager in their midst as Ben’s daughter wants to move in with them. Not quite up to Offspring standards as a feel good romantic comedy series, but better than nothing.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

Enjoy this beautiful summer weather wherever you are! I’m off to Yoga on the Pier here in Thornbury this morning. I’m sending you a Sunday Morning funny from a very dear friend who is also an avid churchgoer, and this is a bit of religious humour:

GOD ENJOYS A GOOD LAUGH!…

There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black: 

1. He called everyone brother. 

2. He liked Gospel. 

3. He didn’t get a fair trial. 

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish: 

1. He went into His Father’s business. 

2. He lived at home until he was 33. 

3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God. 

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian: 

1. He talked with His hands. 

2. He had wine with His meals. 

3. He used olive oil. 

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian: 

1. He never cut His hair. 

2. He walked around barefoot all the time. 

3. He started a new religion. 

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian: 

1. He was at peace with nature. 

2. He ate a lot of fish. 

3. He talked about the Great Spirit. 

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish: 

1. He never got married. 

2. He was always telling stories. 

3. He loved green pastures. 

But the most compelling evidence of all – 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman: 

1. He fed a crowd at a moment’s notice when there was virtually no food. 

2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it. 

3. And even when He was dead; He had to get up because there was still work to do.  

Can I get an AMEN 😄👍???

We celebrate a friend’s 80th birthday!

After a day of such intense heat that I actually jumped into our pool, we sat outdoors last night to celebrate a dear friend’s 80th birthday. George made the world’s best burgers and there was delicious chocolate cake with chocolate icing. What a privilege it was for us to host our friends and it was made all the sweeter when the birthday boy’s son and grandson dropped in for a surprise visit. It was a great week, part of which was spent in Toronto going to a real movie theatre and of course visiting with my new grandson whom I actually got to feed a bottle to. Happy days! Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

On the Big Screen

Where the Crawdads Sing (2 h 5 m) A woman who raised herself in the marshes of the deep South becomes a suspect in the murder of a man she was once involved with. Despite terrible reviews, I loved this film. Adapted from the novel which I read 3 separate times for 3 different book clubs, they made a few changes. Perhaps less lyrical than the novel, the childhood section is reduced to about 20 minutes of screen time and the story becomes more about the suspected murder and trial. To my mind, it actually speeded up the story for an audience who perhaps hadn’t read the book. I thought Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People, Under the Banner of Heaven) who is actually British, did a great job as the grown-up Kya. David Strathairn is the Atticus Finchesque lawyer Tom Milton (complete with white linen suit but minus the glasses). I found it entertaining and lyrical enough for me in the depiction of nature in the marshlands. I recommend it!!

Prime Video

Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons (documentary, 3 episodes) Investigated with journalistic rigor by director Matt Tyrnauer this documentary tells the searing and provocative story of the Victoria’s Secret brand and its longtime CEO, the larger-than-life, enigmatic billionaire Les Wexner. Ooh dark, especially in its depiction of Wexner’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. Look for the cameo appearances of Ivana and Donald Trump.

Netflix

The Gray Man (2 h 2 m) When the CIA’s most skilled operative-whose true identity is known to none – accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins. Stars Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Rege-Jean Page. Full disclosure: after turning off the action thriller Ambulance last week, I tuned into this one solely for the opportunity to watch Ryan Gosling (here gamely playing a role usually played by the mischievous Ryan Reynolds) and Rege-Jean Page (Bridgerton, the character who solders). Full of explosions and cars flipping over, I have to admit I lasted through the whole thing and did enjoy myself, laughing out loud a few times. If you are looking for something completely mindless for your summer viewing, then this might be for you.

CBC Gem

Crime (from Scotland/made for BritBox, 7 episodes) When an Edinburgh schoolgirl is abducted, DI Ray Lennox investigates her disappearance while confronting his own past trauma. Stars Dougray Scott, Ken Stott, John Simm. You might want to turn on the subtitles for this one, as there is one character whose Scottish accent is nearly impenetrable. Beautiful shots of Edinburgh are featured throughout. Dark yet enjoyable.

SkyMed (9 episodes) Follows intense character journeys and high-stakes medical rescues, heartbreaks and tribulations of budding nurses and pilots flying air ambulances. Kind of Gray’s Anatomy meets Emergency. It’s Canadian!!!

Streaming

The Orville  (Season 3, 10 episodes) an exploratory ship from Earth faces interstellar challenges 400 years in the future. A delightful parody of space based science fiction like Star Trek.

Evil (37 episodes) A skeptical clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue collar contractor as they investigate supposed abnormal events, including demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural’s at work. If you loved The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, this show is for you! Also, very funny. Andrea Martin is doing a guest stint as a nun who sees demons everywhere.

Animal Kingdom (75 episodes, now in Season 6) The Cody family is still up to their necks in crime, and in flashbacks we visit Janine as a younger mother and see how badly she managed to screw up her children.

Apple

Loot (11 episodes) After divorcing her husband of 20 years, Molly Novak must figure out what to do with her $87 billion settlement. She decides to reengage with her charitable foundation and reconnect with the real world – finding herself along the way. Great cast includes Maya Rudolph, Olivier Martinez, Adam Scott. Kind of broad and over the top, but I’m willing to hang in for as many of the 11 episodes as I can.

Blackbird (6 episodes) Jimmy Keene is sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison but he cuts a deal with the FBI to befriend a suspected serial killer. Keene has to elicit a confession from Larry Hall to find the bodies of as many as eighteen women. Stars Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear and Ray Liotta. Egerton is amazing as the bulked up drug dealer. He plays American awfully well for a Brit.

PBS 

Grantchester  ( Season 7, 6 Episodes) : the dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes is back!

Hotel Portofino (frock opera, 6 episodes)A glamorous period drama, as the characters go about their lives in 1920’s Italy, when Benito Mussolini’s brand of fascism was on the rise. Stars Natascha McElhone, Mark Umbers, Anna Chancellor, Adam James. If you are missing The Durrells in Corfu, this is your show!

AMC

Dark Winds (7 episodes) Follows Leaphorn and Chee, two Navajo police officers in the 1970’s Southwest that are forced to challenge their own spiritual beliefs when they search for clues in a double murder case. Stars Zahn McClarnon, Rainn Wilson, Noah Emmerich. Dark and suspenseful.

FX

The Old Man (7 episodes) A former CIA officer who’s living off the grid, finds himself on the run from people who want to kill him. Stars Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, Alia Shawkat, Amy Brenneman. Suspenseful and fast paced, I am loving this series.

ABC

Jeopardy Weeknights (over 8000 episodes) This nightly venerable game show, is now once again hosted by Ken Jennings, and it continues to amuse, entertain and inform. Ken Jennings’ return as host has resulted in the show running at a more sprightly pace and there have been a series of upsets with winners going quickly down to defeat by newcomers. Still a very entertaining way to spend 20 minutes every evening (fast forward through those commercials). Now that Ken is back, somehow the world seems a little better despite Ukraine, Covid, Monkey Pox, sweltering heat waves, etc. He brings a cool fresh breeze with him!

HBO/Crave

The Rehearsal (6 episodes) Nathan Fielder gives people a chance to rehearse for their own lives in a world where nothing ever works out as expected. Totally original premise! It is funny and sad at the same time and so odd. It is cringeworthy comedy.

W

Five Bedrooms (from Australia, 24 Episodes and is back for Season 3) Now they’re running the annex room as a B&B. Still awfully silly, the disparate characters are still behaving goofily and now there’s a surly teenager in their midst as Ben’s daughter wants to move in with them. Not quite up to Offspring standards as a feel good romantic comedy series, but better than nothing.

Special Mention

I still try to maintain my Sunday morning ritual of watching CBS Sunday Morning, the most enjoyable newsmagazine show on the air which has been airing since 1979. Now hosted by Jane Pauley, this venerable series never ceases to delight, inform and entertain with its stories about current events, celebrities, and human interest. I feel better each Sunday for having watched it. Kind of like 60 Minutes lite (which I also watch). I also regularly record and watch Stephen ColbertBill MaherJohn Oliver and Trevor Noah to keep up to date with the news filtered through humour.

Closing Words

Have a wonderful week wherever you are! I’m going to share a political ad with you that may raise a few hackles. It is about Dr. Oz’s run for the Senate in Pennsylvania. I actually heard Oz speak in person at a charity function where he gave a canned speech that clearly indicated he knew nothing about the children’s charity he was speaking to. Full disclosure: I once fell for his endorsement of Garcinia Canbogia snake oil weight loss product and spent a week married to my bathroom as a result. The ad very cleverly uses the Wizard of Oz as its inspiration and is very funny!