Today is one of those grey yet pretty days in Thornbury. There is light snow cover on the ground and rooftops, but mercifully, the roads are pretty dry so that hopefully this year’s Christmas driving will not involve negotiating totally ice covered roads and returning to a house with no power, as last year’s did. I am writing this as I watch CBS Sunday Morning, my Sunday morning ritual, which always includes a closing Zen moment of nature. The most soothing way possible to prepare for the week to come.
It’s been a very busy year for our whole family. George and I have thoroughly enjoyed his first 6 months of retirement. Florida has been a wonderful escape (for you golfers who have suffered through my terrible play, I actually got my drive back the last week or so that I played). We also had our son Jonathan come and stay with us in Naples for 11 days before he started his new engineering job. Our brief time back in Toronto included visiting my indomitable 96-year-old mother, celebrating our son David and his sweetheart Candice’s engagement and today we are celebrating Christmas with George’s side of the family in Uxbridge, and Christmas Day will be celebrated in Barrie with my two darling nieces. We will be observing New Year’s on a plane to Sydney, Australia which should be very weird as I believe we cross the International Date Line a number of times. I will try to update my blog from Aus/NZ and may actually learn how to include pictures, as friends have mentioned that a picture is worth a 1000 words.
Back to TV for a moment, this week will see the concluding episodes of Homeland and The Affair. I can’t recommend Homeland highly enough this year. If you missed last season, you can jump right into this year as we are on a whole new track with Carrie being the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad. Very exciting and suspenseful. The Affair has been rather sad as both the main characters have imploded their families in order to carry on their affair (x2 as each character tells the story from his/her own perspective).
Last week I caught up with the season finale of Gracepoint. Pretty similar to Broadchurch‘s ending as I recall. I can’t say there was any real redeeming reason to watch the same story told with American accents and I will be unlikely to watch a straight adaptation again.
Last week was also the sentimental ending of The Colbert Report after nine years of skewering right wing pundits. He is going to replace David Letterman on The Late Show some time in late spring or early summer. I am sad to see this hilarious blowhard leave and I so look forward to the return of John Oliver’s This Week Tonight on HBO in February.
A friend who was catching up with my blog was sad that I didn’t cover any of his favourites which included The Americans (which I love and which I believe is returning from hiatus in January), and Inspector Foyle (which I absolutely adored and can be found on Netflix and possibly on TVO.org).
I did catch a movie at my local repertory cinema this week: The 100 Year Old Man who went out a window... I liked it so much more than the book. Darkly funny and much easier to engage with than the book due to the superb casting of all the major roles. I have caught up with a few films online: This is Where I Leave You, one of those well cast but incredibly lame comedies that elicits very few laughs. The Skeleton Twins an unfunny comedy about suicide. Be warned! And leaving the best for last, we watched Fed UP the anti-sugar documentary. Ooh, sugar is so bad for you! On Netflix: Only Lovers Left Alive, now no one loves a good vampire flick more than I do, but I did find this one terribly sad and slow.
I started the blog just as the fall season was debuting new series and so I tried to sort through the returning and new shows. It never occurred to me to list all the many fine documentary series that air on PBS, CBC, TVO, etc. I have been a fan of the Fifth Estate for many years, and occasionally tune in to fine documentaries on Frontline, The Passionate Eye, Nova, Nature, etc. I rarely watch reality TV programs, but I admit to being a fan of So You Think You Can Dance and The Sing Off. The Sing Off (a contest featuring a cappella singing groups) did a 2-hour Christmas special which resulted in the Vanderbilt University men’s singing group winning first prize for performing Hozier’s Take me to Church which I absolutely love.
My resolution is to try and watch more self improving TV. I loved last year’s PBS The Roosevelts series. I have had Fareed Zakariah GPS on my PVR list for the last few months. As our TVs are bombarded with endless hours of Christmas dreck (e.g. made for TV movies with depressingly similar themes), this is a great time to catch up with quality television you may have missed, whether you do it online, On Demand, on Netflix or via the many emerging streaming platforms that are trying desperately to make up ground lost to Netflix.
The New Year is going to present a bit of a challenge as my favourite shows will all return when I am touring down under and it just wouldn’t be right to try and keep up with TV while touring one of the world’s most amazing regions. There will be a fair bit of catch-up when I return. Until then, have a wonderful Christmas season and a very happy New Year’s.