7 Shows you should be watching on Netflix

I’m reprinting John Doyle’s column from today’s Globe as I just had a suggestion from a reader the other day that I do more lists so here’s his Netflix must watch list. His taste differs from mine (especially re Wentworth which I wasn’t really taken with preferring the vastly superior Oz and Orange is the New Black) but I did like some of his other suggestions:

John Doyle: Seven shows you should be watching on Netflix

Late-summer and the pickings are slim.

Summer’s batch of reality shows are in full swing and premium-cable dramas have returned – some to disappoint, and others to delight. But there is always new content to seek out on Netflix Canada, where oddities and rare gems are found. Herewith, a week’s worth of recommendations.

Wentworth

Overshadowed by the similarly themed Orange Is the New Black, this Australian women’s prison drama has developed a cult following wherever it airs. Unlike OITNB, Wentworth has no flights of fancy, no lightness. As a prison drama, it is much closer in tone to Oz than anything else. At first, the main character is Bea (Danielle Cormack), newly incarcerated for the attempted murder of her husband. She gets entangled with Franky (Nicole da Silva), the prison’s queen, whose main interest is in seduction. A key presence is Liz (Celia Ireland), the seemingly benign older prisoner who tries to keep the peace. But all of these women are tough – they’re criminals and brutal.

The series isn’t about what the prison system does to women; it’s about what violent women do in prison. It is at times formidably grim.

Chef’s Table

Less well-known than Netflix’s other original programming, this magnificent-looking series offers hour-long profiles of six very different famous chefs – Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallmann, Niki Nakayama, Magnus Nilsson and Ben Shewry. Nothing like it exists on other channels airing food programs. It’s about how each chef was shaped by family and environment, and they prepare a signature dish. It’s been called “food porn,” but it is deeply illuminating about the career arcs of driven, obsessed chefs, and a highlight is the story behind

Magnus Nilsson’s small restaurant in tiny Jarpen, Sweden, of all places.

Appropriate Adult

This chilling, made-for-TV movie is about the real-life relationship between British serial killer Fred West and Janet Leach, a social worker in training who witnessed police interrogations of West in the role “appropriate adult” – an independent witness who safeguards the rights of people deemed vulnerable in police custody. Emily Watson plays Leach and Dominic West (from The Wire and The Affair) is the murderer who, along with his wife, killed at least 12 young women and girls. It’s a disconcerting drama as West reveals details of his crimes to Leach, who was deeply unprepared for the experience. What Leach eventually brought to the circumstance was a sense of humanity utterly lacking in West. While absorbing, Appropriate Adult is far from easy viewing.

Ambassadors

This short-run BBC series is a sly comedy, sending up the personal lives and political machinations of the British ambassador (David Mitchell), his wife Jennifer (Keeley Hawes) and various staff at an embassy in the fictional country of Tazbekistan. The slyness is in the satire of the pretensions of the embassy staff and the pressures put on them by the Foreign Office back in London. There’s a running theme about the embassy’s contacts with a group of rebels who wish to overthrow the authoritarian leader of Tazbekistan – a man embassy staff must be friendly with at all times.

Bloodlands

This strange, true-crime documentary series is notable for its sideways exploration of murders – the emphasis is on the location and environment as clues to the murders covered. This is crime storytelling as TV art, with a twist of noir. There are dramatizations galore, but the focus is on the larger canvas, and it looks stunning. In one episode, a quiet Rocky Mountain community, a place that looks idyllic, is revealed as something else entirely when the body of a local mother is found beheaded. The series’ telling tagline is: “Every place beautiful. Every place deadly.”

Amber

A mini-series made for the Irish state broadcaster RTE, Amber is the about the investigation of a missing girl, Amber. What viewers see is the 14-year-old’s father dropping her at a friend’s house, and then Amber heading off somewhere else, never to be seen again. Her parents (Eva Birthistle and David Murray) are separated, and they are forced into an uneasy reunion. Each episode follows the case from the perspective of one character, amounting to a very non-linear narrative. Suburban Dublin is portrayed as a place of chilling banality. Fair warning – there was uproar when the series aired in Ireland, because it did not offer a clear conclusion and went instead for an elliptical ending. The journey there is suitably menacing, though.

Hit and Miss

This is a peculiar entry in the hit-man genre. Created by Paul Abbott, who also wrote Shameless and State of Play. Hit and Miss stars Chloë Sevigny as Mia, a “preoperative transgendered woman” who is also a cool assassin. She earns large fees for killing people, but suddenly becomes responsible for a bunch of kids following the death of her ex-girlfriend. All of this sounds highly strange, but the series has a calm beauty to it. Much of it is set in the English countryside, which looks breathtaking. Few actors would be brave enough to undertake this most challenging of roles, but Sevigny is game. As in Shameless, Abbott is toying with our idea of family – Mia is an unconventional mother with a bizarre source of income, but she and her work are vital to the family’s continuance.

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CBC Alert: New Series from BBC debuts tonight

I just happened to catch John Doyle’s TV column in today’s Globe and he raved about a BBC series debuting on CBC tonight at 9 pm called Banished. It is the story of the settling of Australia with convicts exiled from the UK. This series is currently only being seen on CBC, so my American friends will have to wait and see if they can find it on BBC America or Masterpiece Theatre, Netflix, etc in the future. Here’s the link to Doyle’s column:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-banished-is-a-brutal-poetic-portrait-of-australias-beginning/article25663882/

I also neglected to mention in my last post that that I am still hope watching True Detective because I am so enthralled by Taylor Kitsch. As I wrote to a friend yesterday:

Speaking of Taylor Kitsch (aka Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights, one of the best network series ever, and I hate football), he is the one reason to watch True Detective. He plays Officer Paul Woodrugh, one of the 3 self-hating detectives, as a closeted homosexual who is really struggling with whether he can go on with life. This show is so full of despair it is probably unwatchable for most viewers. I’m watching it just for his breathtaking performance.

Don’t forget to watch/record Banished on CBC at 9 tonight. Our trip to Australia in January made me very curious about its history as a penal colony. Doesn’t seem like a very nice way to colonize a country.

Hits and Misses

Newish on Netflix

Tig –  I watched this touching doc last night on Netflix. Tig Notaro is a lesbian stand up comedian in LA, who within a matter of weeks has a near fatal C Difficile bacterial infection, loses her mother to a freak fall and fatal head injury, and then is diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She turns all of the above into a stand up routine and the film follows her for the next year of her personal journey. She is a remarkably strong woman and if you’ve ever faced an annus horribilis yourself, you may be inspired by her bravery.  Here’s what Decider had to say about this film:

http://decider.com/2015/07/20/tig-notaro-documentary-netflix/

Here’s the trailer:

Tig – Main Trailer – Netflix [HD] – YouTube
Video for trailer for Tig documentary on Netflix▶ 1:49
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO7kJ0j4Qzw

Wet, Hot, American Summer First Day of Camp prequel alert for Netflix users which debuts July 31 – they’re back in summer camp and the same actors play characters who are hilariously supposed to be younger than they were when the original film was released in 2001; starring Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd and many others from the original; Here’s the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLlMTn_Jzok

French film guide – when I was in high school I had a membership to Cinematheque Ontario and was introduced to the great French film classics of Rene Clair and many others. This guide may be helpful for Francophiles to acquaint themselves with the history of French cinema:

http://decider.com/2015/07/14/decider-french-film-primer/

Still Playing in Theatres

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – this sweet and funny/sad film follows the story of friendship among 3 high school students. The two best friends (Greg and Earl) are avid amateur film enthusiasts and they have built up quite an oeuvre of short films that are parodies of classic movies. Forced by his mother to do something kind for Rachel, a classmate with leukaemia, the lead character ends up being truly devoted to her (and not in a traditional rom com way) and he dedicates himself to creating a film especially for her. This is a great coming of age movie and the three young actors cast in the major roles are wonderful. Watch for big things from Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler and the luminous Olivia Cooke.  Bring hankies. Here’s the trailer:

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: Official HD Trailer …
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qfmAllbYC8

Hell on Wheels – Cullen Bohannan (played by the delicious Anson Mount) has now gone to work for the Central Pacific Railway (leaving the villainous Colm Meaney back at the helm of the Union Pacific)and has made his way to Utah. We are now fully immersed in the sagas of the Chinese workforce who actually built the railways.

Ballers – never a big fan of The Rock, this show has appalled me for the last time. All the excesses of The Wolf of Wall Street with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Dicte – (on Netflix) as I am currently in love with all things Danish, I am willing to give this series a chance as a middle aged divorced single mother works as a journalist in Denmark

Transparent – (on Shomi in Canada) I can’t believe I watched the whole series of 10 episodes again! This week I am Cait (Bruce Jenner’s transition to becoming a woman) debuts Sunday evening on E! (more below).
Transparent, on the other hand, is a fictional series that is incredibly touching as the 68-year-old father of three (played very movingly by Jeffrey Tambor) comes out to his three very needy adult children and begins to live life as the woman he has always felt he should be.  Fabulous performances by all.  Judith Light is amazing as his supportive ex-wife. Trailer:

‘Transparent’ Trailer – YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-3Q2W0I2Xc

I am Cait – reality TV series debuts on E! July 26 and follows Bruce Jenner’s new life as she transitions to becoming a woman; there has been some skepticism about Jenner’s motives in making such a public transformation, but she seems genuinely committed to educating the public about transgender issues and preventing suicides and bullying among teenagers dealing with gender issues. I have never watched a single episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians because I have a fundamental problem with celebutante culture (Paris Hilton, et al), but I find Jenner’s story to be very compelling and am willing to give the series a chance based on the earlier interview with Diane Sawyer which I found very moving. Trailer:

Caitlyn Jenner’s New Show “I Am Cait” Trailer | I am Cait | E …
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKZCcVKVHws

The BridgeBorgen has made me fall in love with all things Danish, so I watched the first hour of this original Danish/Swedish coproduction about a body found on a bridge that connects the two countries; I experienced a severe case of déjà vu as I had watched the U.S. adaptation over the past two years. I doubt I will stay with this season as I feel the U.S. production stayed fairly close to the source material

Tyrant – continues to entertain with its twists and turns as LA paediatrician Barry Al-Fayeed attempts to make a difference in the mythical kingdom of Abuddin.

Under the Dome – totally bonkers show about an evil corporation trying to take over the world one dome at a time

The Strain – totally bonkers show where a virus turns people into monsters

Zoo – totally bonkers show where animals attempt to take over the world

Humans – great British series from BBC about robots with human emotions who may try to take over the world

Falling Skies – sort of bonkers show where aliens have invaded earth and are trying to take over the world

Defiance – sort of bonkers show where aliens have invaded earth and are trying to take over the world

The Last Ship – the upright presence of the US Navy prevents this show from becoming totally bonkers; a virus has decimated the world and the U.S. Navy has one ship dedicated to saving what’s left of our world

Teen Wolf – attractive teens battle supernatural creatures in a small town

The Whispers – an alien presence induces children to commit terrible acts

Suits – much intrigue abounds around Harvey, Mike, Rachel, Donna, Louis, Jessica and the rest of the legal gang

The Ambassador – so far this 1998 British series set in Ireland is perfect for inducing afternoon naps

The Doctor Blake Mysteries – dark and slow moving, this Aussie crime series is also a cure for insomnia

Jon Stewart Countdown – last show airs on Aug 6

John Oliver – Oliver continues to skewer hypocrisy around the world

Outlander – I had to rewatch the last episode of the series as I had originally watched it from a terribly slow internet connection on my Scotland trip and had missed the last 5 minutes entirely; the last episode is terribly brutal as it details Black Jack’s victimization of Jamie and some may find it very hard to watch; this was very controversial as we are not used to seeing men brutalized in this way.  The finale leaves the series headed literally in a very different direction. If you haven’t watched Outlander yet, try and catch up before the next season starts.  Even my husband (who just streamed it online) loved it!
Poldark – romantic period piece set in 18th Century Cornwall is as close as current series come to capturing some of Outlander’s romanticism (on Masterpiece Theatre)

The Crimson Field – romantic period piece set in WW1 France follows Masterpiece Theatre

Graceland – attractive undercover agents share a fabulous beach house

Married – cute sitcom about married life in LA

Terrible TV movie alert

Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman On Demand on TMN- unbelievably awful biography that ended up on Lifetime Channel and somehow makes Grace Kelly’s life look awfully silly

This week I am headed out to see some live musical theatre:

Kinky Boots at the Royal Alex in TO and Carousel in Stratford.  I love musical theatre and it usually keeps me from nodding off as there are real live actors on stage inexplicably bursting into song

Have a great week and enjoy this glorious summer weather!
Sent from my iPad

I can’t believe I watched the whole thing!!!

Some of my highlights this week:

Borgen (on TVO Sunday nights) – I can’t believe I watched all 30 episodes! That’s how addictive this show is. It follows the career and personal journey of a female Danish politician. She is one of the most admirable women ever depicted on TV. The series also shows the behind the scenes operations of the press in politics and provides insight into the work of spin doctors who attempt to control the media’s portrayal of politics. A great series of ideas and the many compromises that have to be made in a political career.

The Ambassador (new/old show alert on our local PBS affiliate WNED Thursdays in the 8:00 timeslot just vacated by Father Brown) – filmed in 1998 Dublin, it’s about the newly appointed British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland. Starring the usually very likeable Pauline Collins, this could have been my replacement for Borgen. Unfortunately the show seems awfully dated and slow paced. Collins is a little Margaret Thatcherish and the show doesn’t seem very relevant today. Having just been to Ireland recently, the show feels a bit time capsulish in its attempt to show the tension that existed at that time between Britain and Ireland.

What Happened, Miss Simone? (on Netflix) is a touching doc about an extraordinarily talented but tormented woman whom we now recognize as being bipolar. Nina Simone was a jazz and blues artist of great originality. Trained as a classical pianist, her musicality was superb. She fled an abusive marriage and was a terrible mother to her only child who, in turn, fled her mother to live with her father. The film documents Simone’s life with the upswings and tragic downswings of her career.

The Brink  (HBO Canada) I tried to watch this comedy series again but gave up at its incredible silliness.

7 Days in Hell (HBO Canada) is an incredibly silly tennis mockumentary with Andy Samberg and Kit Harington (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones). Harington is adorable as a witless tennis star but this show is not nearly as funny as it thinks it is.

Wentworth (on Netflix) is an Australian prison melodrama about women. Kind of soap operaish, it is a cross between Oz and Orange is the New Black. I preferred both those shows.

Hjordes (on Netflix) is a sequel to Rita (the Danish show about a schoolteacher that I loved) has just arrived  on Netflix. The lead character is hopelessly naive but highly principalled. Those who haven’t watched Rita may be totally bewildered.

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll (on FX Thursdays) – I hated this series starring Dennis Leary as a has been rock star.  Awfully unfunny.

Marriage – (on FX Thursdays) – I like this darkly funny series about married life in LA

Catch up on some shows you may not be watching:

I’m including a link to a great internet article on the best TV shows you could be watching this summer:

http://www.mandatory.com/2015/04/29/the-best-tv-shows-you-re-probably-not-watching/?utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=zergnet_531850

Shows I’m currently watching:

Defiance (on Showcase Sundays), this post apocalyptic series shows humans and aliens trying to coexist on a future earth

Falling Skies – (on Superchannel on Tuesdays), this post apocalyptic series shows humans and aliens at war with each other on a future earth

The Last Ship – (on Space on Sundays)  this post apocalyptic series shows everyone trying to avoid a deadly virus

Poldark – (on PBS Sundays) this romantic series is set in 18th Century Cornwall; period costumes and British accents – heavenly!

The Crimson Field – (on PBS Sundays) this touching series is about British nurses in WW! France

The Whispers – (on Monday nights) Steven Spielberg produced sci fi series about an invisible friend persuading children to do terrible things

Under the Dome – (on CBS Thurs nights ) bonkers sci fi series about a small town mysteriously enclosed by a dome; Stephen King should be ashamed of this silly show from which I can’t completely look away but I usually fast forward through the truly insane parts

Teen Wolf – (on MTV Monday nights) features lovable characters on this teen fantasy show

Murder in the First -(on Bravo Monday nights) detective series set in San Francisco

True Detective – (on HBO Canada Sunday nights) Season 2 is even darker than Season 1 as self hating cops try to solve the murder of a city manager in a seedy part of LA

Suits – (on Bravo Wed nights) filmed entirely in Toronto, I love this legal drama wherein a brilliant young man pretends to be a Harvard trained lawyer

The Astronauts’ Wives Club – (on ABC Thursday nights) 60’s era costumes, music and social mores

The Dr Blake Mysteries – (on PBS Thursday nights) dark and slow moving Australian series set in the 50’s featuring an alcoholic former POW doctor with a knack for solving murders

Humans – (on AMC Sunday nights) intriguing British series about robots with human emotions who may be trying to take over the world

Zoo – (on CBS Tues nights) ridiculous sci fi show about animals trying to take over the world

Tyrant – (on FX Tues nights) great political intrigue set in a mythical Middle Eastern country from the creators of Homeland

John Oliver Last Week Tonight – (on  HBO Canada Sunday nights) incredibly funny current events satire

Jon Stewart – (on Comedy Network M-Th) the countdown to the airdate of the last episode (Aug. 6) begins; Trevor Noah will debut as his successor on Sept. 28

The Strain – (on FX Sundays) bonkers Sci Fi series about a monster spread virus in NYC (all filmed in Toronto!)

Ray Donovan – (on HBO Canada Sundays) played by Liev Schreiber, a Hollywood fixer lives a life of chaotic mayhem

Masters of Sex – (on HBO Canada Sundays) tells a fictionalized version of the lives of pioneering sexologists, Masters and Johnson

CBS Sunday Morning – (on CBS Sundays at 9 am) I love this weekly newsmagazine show which features great celebrity profiles and human interest stories

Enjoy our incredibly hot and humid weather this week!!  Wear a hat and sunscreen! Drink lots of water! (does it sound like I am afraid to go outdoors?)

Set your PVR as Sunday nights start to get crazy again!

Summer debuts for these returning shows which are all airing on Sunday nights 

The Strain (bonkers sci fi series about a monster spread virus that turns humans into monsters who are taking over NYC filmed in Toronto on FX Canada), Ray Donovan (series about a Hollywood fixer on HBO Canada) and Masters of Sex (series about the famed sex researchers Masters and Johnson on HBO Canada) return tonight.

Streaming

I finished twenty episodes of Season 1 & Season 2 of Borgen and started Season 3. Airing Sunday nights on TVO, this Danish series is addictive. It follows the career of Birgitte Nyborg who is a Moderate party leader who is unexpectedly elected Prime Minister. It focuses equally on her personal life and the sort of compromises she is constantly asked to make between her career and her marriage. She has a spin doctor/speech writer assistant advising her on strategy who has severe love life and career challenges of his own. Great behind the scenes look at political intrigue, press tactics, and the personal challenges that people face when pursuing careers in this arena.

New on Specialty Channels

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – this 7 part miniseries originated on BBC and is being aired on HBO Canada on Sunday nights. Set in England in 1801 during the time of the Napoleonic wars, it tells the story of two rival magicians. Very Dickensian with a huge cast full of great character actors. Period costumes and English accents! My favorite things!
Film Review – New Release
This week, 10 of my ladyfriends and I attended a screening of Magic Mike XXL. What a disappointment! My reaction to the original Magic Mike film was that it had been entertaining but could have benefitted from more dancing and less dialogue and plot. Sadly, I found the sequel to be much less entertaining and it was filled with even more ludicrous dialogue and a ridiculous storyline. The choreography was extremely repetitious and depended on scene after scene of the dancers grinding their groins into women’s faces. I’m not making this up!

The film objectifies male beauty in a similar way to how female strippers have traditionally been portrayed in many films. Instead of men slobbering over shapely young women, we have hordes of women of all shapes and sizes being exhorted to think of themselves as queens while they salivate over the male strippers and toss handfuls of money at them. Worst sin of all for me with this film was how boring it was. Not comedic, not romantic, no great music and totally uninspired dance numbers. I really hope they don’t plan to make another sequel. The amazing six packs of Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello are really not enough to sustain my interest for two hours. The other cast members are very forgettable with the exception of the luminous Andie McDowell who is very good in this as a mature Southern woman who welcomes the strippers into her home and uses them as therapeutic sex partners to raise the spirits of her lonely ladyfriends. These cougars are viewed very sympathetically.

The other scene that is a bit odd takes place in a gay club that the guys have previously frequented. They seem to be on very friendly terms with the drag queen MC and they take to the stage with fairly swishy and campy moves. Very bizarre that this scene portrays a gay club without actually dealing with the “gayness” of it. It’s kind of politically correct in this way – the same way that women are equal opportunity slobberers as they salivate over the dancers. Go and see this at your own risk. Prepare to be bored witless!

On Network TV

I watched the first two episodes of Dates, a British series airing on Thurs nights on the CW. Not nearly as funny or well written as Catastrophe  (on Amazon Prime and Crave). This series has gotten off to a rather sad start as it details first dates between couples who have met through an online dating service. So far this series has illustrated the dangers of online dating in a rather unengaging way.

Live Theatre
Off to see the musical Newsies (the tickets were my Mother’s Day gift) tonight at the Ed Mirvish Theatre with my boys who have inherited my love for musical theatre.

Shows I’m currently watching

Defiance and The Last Ship – both post apocalyptic sci fi series on Sunday nights

Poldark – romantic 18th Century Cornwall; period costumes and British accents – heavenly on Sunday nights

The Crimson Field – touching series about British nurses in WW! France on Sunday nights

The Whispers – (on Monday nights) Steven Spielberg produced sci fi series about an invisible friend persuading children to do terrible things

Under the Dome – (on Thurs nights )bonkers sci fi series about a small town mysteriously enclosed by a dome; Stephen King should be ashamed of this silly show from which I can’t look away

Teen Wolf – (on Monday nights) lovable characters on this teen fantasy show

Murder in the First -(on Monday nights)  detective series set in San Francisco

True Detective – (on Sunday nights) Season 2 is even darker than Season 1 as self hating cops try to solve the murder of a city manager in a seedy part of LA

Suits – (on Wed nights) filmed entirely in Toronto, I love this legal drama wherein a brilliant young man pretends to be a Harvard trained lawyer

The Astronauts’ Wives Club – (on Thursday nights) 60’s era costumes, music and social mores

Father Brown – (on Thursday nights) cozy British series set in the 50’s featuring a Catholic priest with a knack for solving murders

The Dr Blake Mysteries – (on Thursday nights) dark Australian series set in the 50’s featuring an alcoholic former POW doctor with a knack for solving murders

Humans – (on Sunday nights) intriguing British series about robots who may be trying to take over the world

Zoo – (on Tues nights) ridiculous sci fi show about animals trying to take over the world

Tyrant – (on Tues nights) great political intrigue set in a mythical Middle Eastern country from the creators of Homeland

John Oliver Last Week Tonight – (on Sunday nights) current events satire returns from holidays tonight

Have a great week everybody!  Enjoy the gorgeous summer weather that has finally arrived. (I know it looks like I never go outside, but I actually managed to play a couple of games of golf this past week!)

Cape Cod travels and summer TV

In summary form these are the shows I am watching currently:
The Last Ship – on Space Channel, entertaining post apocalyptic sci fi about a world struggling to survive a devastating virus
The Whispers – on ABC, Steven Spielberg project about an imaginary friend (possibly of alien origin) who induces children to commit terrible acts
Nurse Jackie Finale – on HBO Canada, Edie Falco makes her exit after 8 seasons in this wonderful show
Penny Dreadful – on HBO Canada, the madness of Frankenstein monsters, werewolves, witches, vampires and Dorian Grey continues
Zoo – on CBS, hilariously awful. Particularly enjoyed the kitty cats in the tree waiting to pounce on school children.
Humans – on AMC and  available on Rogers on demand this series is about androids that have human emotions
Under the Dome – on CBS, possibly the most ludicrous show on TV at the moment; last week’s episode was incomprehensibly time-wimey (way too much parallel universe time travelling for me)
Poldark – 18th Century romanticism in  Cornwall on PBS; a good stand-in until Outlander returns

The Crimson Field – on  PBS – great stand in for British costume drama until Call the Midwife returns
Borgen – on TVO, wonderful political drama in Denmark featuring a female prime minister
The Astronaut Wives Club – on ABC – what swingers those astronauts were!
Proof – on Bravo – made me very sleepy as Jennifer Beals sets out to prove that there is an afterlife
Jon Stewart – on Comedy Channel, in reruns this week
John Oliver – on HBO Canada, on holiday for a week
Bill Maher – on HBO Canada, on hiatus for a month
Tyrant – on FX Canada, loving this show about an LA paediatrician who gets involved in the politics of his middle eastern home country
Ballers – on HBO Canada, a little more grown up than Entourage but the same kind of backstage vibe with athletes instead of Hollywood types
The Brink – on HBO Canada, became very silly in episode 2, so I may not pursue; modern day Dr. Strangelove
Suits – on Bravo, love this show about a brilliant young man pretending to be a Harvard Law grad
Complications – on Bravo, incredibly complicated and ludicrous plot about a doctor who gets involved with gangstas after saving a gang leader’s son
Graceland – on Bravo, attractive undercover cops share a beach house in LA

Films to stream on Netflix

Men, Women and Children  – a quirky indy film about the influence of technology (smartphones, laptops, etc) on our lives and the effects on a particular community of angst filled teenagers and their families. Great performance by Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars)

Along with all the above programming, George and I had a wonderful trip to New England this week to visit friends we made on our Australia/New Zealand cruise in January.

We flew to Boston and then drove to Tiverton, RI to stay overnight with our friends Sandy and Jordan.We had originally met them on our first night in New Zealand where our group assembled before boarding our ship in Auckland. Sandy is a standout in any crowd because of her gorgeous head of curls. She is chic, petite and always fashionably dressed as befits someone who works as a fashion consultant. Her husband Jordan, also sleek and fashionable, had worked for many years as the manager of The Beverley Hills Hotel in LA before becoming a commercial real estate broker specializing in the hotel business. Their place in Tiverton is beautifully situated on Mount Hope Bay and we spent a great day with them there before the four of us drove on to Osterville, MA to stay with Arthur, our retired vet friend whom we met on the ship .

We had met Arthur and his partner Elaine the first night of the cruise when he invited us to join them for dinner as we sat having a drink in one of the ship lounges. As we got to know Arthur and Elaine, we were charmed to find out that they had known each other for over 50 years. They had become fast friends with each other, along with their spouses as young couples. When their respective spouses died, Arthur and Elaine wound up together, and madly in love, they are travelling the world together although they each maintain their own homes on Cape Cod. We had planned to stay with Arthur, a retired veterinarian and one of the funniest people I have ever known, in his palatial home in OsterviIle. Elaine’s charming beach house is in Hyannis, about 20 minutes away. While on the ship, Elaine had suggested that we come down to Cape Cod for her annual 4th of July party where she welcomes over 100 guests to come and watch the Hyannis fireworks from her deck overlooking the bay.

Our first night in Cape Cod was spent having dinner and watching a spectacular fireworks show at the Willowbend Golf Club in Mashpee where Elaine’s nephew is a member. The next night, July 4th was spent at Elaine’s. Now not only is Elaine a warm, charming and attractive woman, but she is one of the world’s best hostesses and she has a huge following of adoring family and friends. She had run a successful catering business in Hyannis for many years and prepared all the desserts for her party starting months ahead. We had a beautiful clear evening for the party and thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet many of Arthur and Elaine’s family members and longtime friends. Before the official Hyannis fireworks started (from a  barge directly in front of Elaine’s house), her son Craig set off our very own fireworks show from her dock. Although there was one misfire (the first in over 20 years which grazed one spectator and shattered a light on Elaine’s deck to Craig’s mortification), Craig’s display was amazing. It was followed by the official magnificent Hyannis display from the water. What a treat to see 3 terrific fireworks shows and what an honour to be part of such a wonderful tradition. People in Cape Cod take the Independence Day holiday very seriously and most homes are decorated in red, white and blue and most towns have their own parades featuring children on decorated bicycles and homemade floats. We had experienced this many years ago on a family trip to the Cape where we had our local parade in Buzzard’s Bay and then watched the big fireworks show in Plymouth.

Today was our last day in Massachusetts, and we braved the post holiday traffic to return to Boston, toured the Kennedy Library and Museum and a sneaked in a trip to Nordstrom Rack there and then headed back to Toronto this evening. Since being in New England, I managed to eat lobster every day and I had my last lobster dinner at an oyster bar at Logan Airport  in Boston before we flew home.

Willowbend Golf Club 4th of July Celebrations

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