Back from vacation!

We had heaps of company last week and our touristy excursions (cruise of Naples Bay, hike in the Rookery preserve, hike at the Corkscrew Audubon sanctuary and yesterday, since we were still in tourist mode, a trip to the Everglades to see alligators in the Everglades National Park) completely kept me away from watching and commenting on TV and films so here’s my attempt to catch up.

As far as movies go, we needed a mindless and and enjoyable film so we streamed Paddington, which answers the question of what Hugh Bonneville gets up to on his vacations from Downton Abbey.  I loved this very sweet natured film which is primarily live action with an amazing bear at its centre.  Paddington is an adorable bear from darkest Africa who makes his way to London looking for an adoptive family.  He is hilariously depicted and the humans are wonderful as well including Sally Hawkins and Tilda Swinton.

Having binge watched Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime and House of Cards season 3 on Netflix already this year, I tried to binge watch The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix and made it through about 7 episodes.  A very funny premise (created by Tina Fey), Kimmy is a rescued molewoman who has been kept captive in a backyard bunker for several years before being rescued by police.  It’s a fish out of water story about how she adapts to modern life, romance, work, etc.  Very silly in the same way that 30 Rock was and occasionally interrupted by very funny scenes.

John Doyle had a column this week on Netflix shows you should watch:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/doyle-seven-shows-you-should-be-watching-on-netflix/article23337490/

and my favourite of his picks was The Hour. A great retro show about British telly in the 1950’s with a strong mystery at its centre.  Stars the great Domenic West (need I say more?).

I have also been bingeing on HBO’s Girls, which although I know it is aimed at 25-year-olds, is still a fascinating look at a narcissistic young woman who is amazingly confident and cheerful about her life (she’s a bit like Mindy, whom I love, but not as ethnic or high achieving).  I have also been catching up on HBO’s Togetherness about life in LA for a group of 30 somethings.

Banshee (which airs on Starz here and on HBO Canada at home) is one of my guilty pleasure shows about an outlaw who assumes the identity of a small town sheriff in rural Pennsylvania and proceeds to create mayhem as a result.  One of the most graphically violent shows I have ever seen and I can’t stop watching!  The sheriff is dreamy, of course.

For some reason, I keep looking in on Scandal which has gone from the ridiculous to the ludicrous this past year, with a bizarre kidnapping, a Ferguson type incident and now back to the secret organization subplot.  Yikes, this show is seriously stupid. Following it on ABC is American Crime which is broadcast TV’s answer to cable shows like True Detective in its gritty storytelling.  It starts Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton as parents of an LA murder victim and tells about the investigation of this crime.  I have suffered through the first two episodes of CSI:Cyber starring Patricia Arquette and the unintentionally hilarious James Van der Beek (Dawson!).  This show is so formulaic, it’s like a template lifted from all the other CSI shows even with the same theme music and oppressive musical score.  Hilarious camera work and robotic acting (especially by Arquette who tries to be a super serious psychologist/cyber crime expert).  It’s like they gave all the actors the instruction to watch old episodes of Dragnet and try to be really deadpan when reciting their rapid-fire cyber dialogue.  The supporting players are like a kaleidoscope of stock crime procedural characters variously super hip, super funky, super smart, super dorky, etc.  Everyone reads like a caricature.

I continue to watch and love guilty pleasure shows Nashville (Deacon has cancer!), Empire (Daddy has ALS!), The Americans (Phillip almost slept with a 16-year-old!), Allegiance (The Americans clone told in modern day parlance), Gotham, The Flash, Arrow, The 100 (all aimed at 15-year-old boys, but what do I care, until Teen Wolf returns).  I am already mourning the upcoming conclusion of Justified which I love for Raylan’s Inspector Javert-like commitment to catching Boyd Crowther.  I keep watching The Blacklist waiting for glimpses of Tom Keene.  I am giving The Slap a chance (an American adaptation of an Australian TV miniseries which I loved), have decided to give Secrets and Lies a pass (another American adaptation of an Australian TV miniseries which I loved). I also binge watched the rest of Suits here which ended in a cliffhanger episode with Donna deciding to change bosses (sorry if I ruined it for some slow pokes).  The new series starts in the US this summer.

I have started to watch The Dig with Jason Isaacs and just wish that they would let him be English (even though he’s an FBI agent).  I slept through most of the pilot, but have recorded the second episode and will watch it one sleepy afternoon.

Still loving The Good Wife, even though its return last Sunday was a very odd show indeed which purported to take us into the mind of Alicia Florek.  So weird, but still better than most stuff on the regular broadcast networks.  The Walking Dead has the cast in an awfully nice town where people seem a little too good to be true, so this can’t possibly last, although all the characters were admitting to total battle fatigue as they have been in one horrifically harrowing situation after another since the show began and all were in danger of losing their humanity. Better Call Saul has given us the backstories of  two main Breaking Bad supporting characters and continues to show us Saul’s evolution from simple criminal lawyer to lawyer to criminal masterminds.

Next week I am off to see the second Marigold movie as it appears to be an obligation for my generation.  The reviews have been generally dismissive as it’s a tick all the boxes generic feel-good British comedy starring the great Judy Dench and the magnificent Maggie Smith.  What could go wrong? I’ll tell you later….

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