Summer TV starts to look more promising!

I have managed to catch up with a few new shows that show promise.  Although I will never be a fan of The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), to the despair of my sons who tried to force me to watch Fast and Furious 7 (I’m still too sad about Paul Walker’s untimely demise to watch it), I did sit through Episode 1 of the new series on HBO Canada called Ballers.  It stars Johnson as a former professional footballer based in Miami, who is hired by a financial planning firm to attract star athletes as clients.  He becomes a fixer who will do almost anything to secure new clients.  I did enjoy The Brink (also new on HBO Canada) which is a satire about the new cold war between the US and Russia (as well as new hot war with the Middle East).  Great cast with Tim Robbins, Jack Black, Aasif Mandvi, etc.  Intriguing premise reminiscent of an updated Dr. Strangelove. I also watched something called Complications on Bravo, a new series starring Jason O’Mara as an ER doctor whose life changes when he intervenes in a drive by shooting.  Dunno about this one, but I will give it a second chance and watch Episode 2.  After that, who knows…  There’s also a new series called Proof starring Matthew Modine and Jennifer Beals about proving that there is an afterlife, that put me into a coma while I was watching it.  Don’t think I will stay with this one.

I am enchanted with Poldark on Masterpiece Theatre PBS on Sunday nights.  English accents and 18th century costumes in Cornwall, England. Very Outlander in its unabashed romanticism.  Aidan Turner, its star (former vampire on Being Human and Kili the Hobbit  from the most recent Hobbit movie – I get them all mixed up as I tend to snooze through them on airplane flights) is tall, dark and handsome.  It is followed by The Crimson Field about nurses working in France during WWI.  More accents and costumes! Reminiscent of Call the Midwife (which I adore) in its handling of touching stories.  It stars Hermione Norris (of Spooks) as a very strict head nurse and Kevin Doyle (Molesley on Downton Abbey!) as a sympathetic doctor in an age where shell shock/PTSD was considered cowardly and treasonous.

This past week has been remarkable for the number of news stories (escaped convicts, gay marriage, Obamacare approval, the murders in Charleston and the ensuing Confederate flag controversy and Obama’s funeral oration for the victims) that hit the political comedy shows and made Jon Stewart, Larry Willmore, John Oliver and Bill Maher must see TV.  Vice TV (HBO Canada) aired a special edition on Russia and the escalating conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s political and PR war against NATO’s strengthening presence on its borders. Very frightening TV.

I finished watching New Worlds (life during the reign of Charles II) on Superchannel.  Even though it stars Jamie Dornan (The Fall, 50 Shades of Grey), it was a bit dull.  I am searching for its predecessor, The Devil’s Whore which starred Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Andrea Riseborough, etc. about the times of Oliver Cromwell. Supposed to be much superior.

I managed to watch all 6 episodes of BBC’s Catastrophe series online.  Brilliant comedy about an unlikely couple in London who decide to stay together after an unplanned pregnancy.  So grown up, this series is a very wry look at an outsider from America adjusting to British life, and pokes fun at all the tropes around “geriatric” pregnancies (as the couple’s obstetrician refers to the 41 year old mother-to-be).  Also the obstetrician is played by Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall from Outlander!) and he manages to be just as villainous even in his supposedly kindly doctor role as he displays the worst bedside manner imaginable. I loved Season 1 of this series and anxiously await the next season.

I have also belatedly started to catch up on Borgen (3 seasons of it), a fine Danish series that is now showing on TVO on Sunday nights.  As different as night and day from Rita the wonderful Danish comedy I saw last week on Netflix, this series is a great backroom view of politics (watch Veep for the best US political satire), and also looks at the social mores of Danish life as a highly ethical moderate politician mom becomes Prime Minister, unreservedly supported by her professor husband.  I am only 2 episodes in (30 in all), but I look forward to the rest of the series.

I have now decided to stop watching Hannibal (so murky, dark and horribly violent despite the adorableness of its star Hugh Dancy), and Killjoy (so derivative of fine shows like Firefly about intergalactic bounty hunters).

I caught up with the season 2 premiere of Southland on Bravo, featuring a cast of attractive ethnically diverse DEA and FBI agents cohabiting in a California beach house.  Totally a guilty pleasure show!!  Also saw the recent season 5 debut of Suits (filmed in TO and featuring many Canadian actors).  I love this series about a brilliant young man who is masquerading as a successful Harvard trained lawyer despite his lack of legal training or indeed any university degree.  Great office politics, romance and GQ type wardrobe (referred to in its eponymous series title) on its two leading men, Gabriel Macht as the mercurial Harvey Spector and Patrick J. Adams as Mike Ross the faux lawyer. Love it!!

There are a few new sci fi/fantasy themed series debuting this week: Humans (futuristic robots!) and Zoo (animal behaviour threatens mankind).  Ooh!!  Extant returns (Halle Berry in her most ludicrous role as a woman impregnated by an alien).  I am still watching The Whispers, the Steven Spielberg produced series about an evil imaginary friend causing children to commit unspeakable acts.  Ooh!!  As you can see, I have a soft spot for sci fi and am anxiously awaiting the return of Teen Wolf for its season 5 debut this week on MTV Canada.  OK, I know that this series is aimed at 14 year olds but I can’t help myself.  I have always enjoyed a good vampire/werewolf yarn.

I did watch the sci fi film Ex Machina last night.  A haunting film about a mad computer scientist (portrayed by the intense Oscar Isaac, star of Inside Llewyn Davis, as a menacing Larry Davis/ Sergey Brin/Bill Gates/Mark Zuckerberg amalgam), who invites a computer nerd employee to his magnificent country retreat to determine whether his gorgeous female robotic creation meets true Artificial Intelligence standards.  A hi tech retelling of the Frankenstein story that has an aura of doom about it from the opening frames. Stars the amazingly luminous Alicia Vikander (she’s beautiful and Swedish and I first noticed her in Anna Karenina and she’s about to become a huge star as she has leading roles in about 5 films coming out this year – phew, that was an exhausting run on sentence fragment) as the robot and Domhnall Gleason (son of Brendan) as the nerd.  A bit gloomy but haunting as you think about it afterwards.  Will robots take over the world?!!  Ooh…

I have still yet to watch on my PVR (The Astronaut Wives Club, Dark Matter, Under the Dome, Father Brown, The Doctor Blake Mysteries).  Meanwhile, don’t forget to watch Tyrant on FX Canada.  Got to love this show about political intrigue in a fictional Middle Eastern country starring the delectable Adam Rayner. So much to watch and it’s raining cats and dogs in Thornbury!!  Ooh….

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