As I am finding that more of my friends are now watching Netflix, it’s particularly timely to alert everyone that there is a new original comedy series debuting on May 8 in all 13 episodes. Grace and Frankie stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as two women whose husbands (played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen) come out as gay lovers in their sixties. Following so closely on the interview with Bruce Jenner, it’s going to be interesting to see whether this series raises the same kind of controversy and discussion around sexual identity that the Jenner interview has raised around gender identity. There is a wonderful interview in Salon with producer Marta Kauffman who was also the co-creator of Friends in 1994:
Another wonderful sitcom now airing on Netflix is the show Episodes. This series, which has just completed its fourth season on HBO Canada, originates with Showtime in the US. It stars two Brits as writers who bring their successful comedy series from the UK to adapt it for American audiences. Very funny! It stars Matt LeBlanc, playing himself as a has-been actor who played Joey on Friends, who is forced upon the writers as the star of the American series. The series is a behind the scenes satirical look at Hollywood and the TV industry. LeBlanc is actually very funny in this as he lampoons himself for his narcissism and unscrupulous drive to survive in an industry that is completely fuelled by ruthless ego and ambition.
For those of you who haven’t yet discovered Bloodlines on Netflix, this new original Netflix mystery series is set in Florida and tells the story of a family whose prodigal son reappears after a long absence. Very noir and incredibly suspenseful, I dare you not to binge watch its 13 episodes.
At the risk of sounding fanatical, I also recommend Daredevil. It is a Netflix original series that also debuted this spring in all its 13 episodes. It is a superhero story told in non CGI style. Charlie Cox stars as Matt Murdock, a lawyer blinded in a chemical accident as a child. Possessing absolutely no super powers, Murdock wrestles with his principles and the morality of drawing the line between right and wrong. He is constantly struggling with following the strictures of the law or taking it into his own hands as a vigilante. Featuring remarkable fight scenes, this series is great viewing, even for people who wouldn’t ordinarily watch any kind of superhero story. Go on, get out of your comfort level with cosy British nostalgia series, and give this exhilarating series a try.
Also on Netflix, you might enjoy Love is All you need, a Danish film starring Pierce Brosnan. It tells the story of a family wedding that takes place in Italy. Absolutely wonderful performances and a surprisingly charming film.
I am a huge fan of British TV series and Netflix is a treasure trove. If you haven’t discovered them yet, the following shows are highly recommended:
Silk – legal drama starring Rupert Penry Jones
George Gently – great nostalgic cop show
Foyle’s War – wonderful WWII series starring Michael Kitchen as a reluctant police inspector
Wallander – Kenneth Branagh stars in the British adaptation of the Swedish police series
The Hour – nostalgia series about TV in the early sixties
Fleming – Ian Fleming biography miniseries
Inspector Morse – Oxbridge set police series
Line of Duty – internal affairs series
Broadchurch – dark mystery series about a murdered child
Secrets & Lies – actually Australian but great mystery series anyway
The Slap – another Aussie show about a family misunderstanding that spins out of control
Happy Valley – dark series about a serial murder
The Fall – dark series about a serial murder
Southcliffe – dark series about a shooting spree
Call the Midwife – incredibly touching series about a group of midwives making a huge difference in a poor neighbourhood in late 50’s – early 60’s London
The Bletchley Circle – the women who were involved in code breaking solve mysteries after the war
There are many more British series available on Netflix and I encouraged you to seek them out.
On HBO Canada this week a BBC miniseries called The Casual Vacancy (adapted from a JK Rowling novel for adults) aired in three parts. It deals with the aftermath of a town councillor’s death in a seemingly absolutely charming English village which results in his seat having to be filled by one of the villagers. It stars Michael Gambon and Julia Mackenzie (who you will recognize as Miss Marple) as two of the villagers. This series is far from cosy and is a portrait of class conflict in a small British town. If you are on Rogers and have On Demand features for TMN you will be able to find this show. Also you can probably find it on one of the many free streaming sites.
This week, I’ll be watching all my favourites: SNL with Scarlett Johansson hosting, CBS Sunday Morning, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Good Wife, Call the Midwife, Wolf Hall, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep, Nurse Jackie, Salem, Outlander, Gotham, The Night Shift, The Flash, Forever, Chicago Fire, Arrow, Nashville, The Middle, Modern Family, Elementary, Father Brown, The Blacklist, Grimm, Bill Maher, and Vice. Pheww! That’s quite a week coming up. Enjoy the spring blossoms this week as it looks like everything is finally bursting into bloom.