Despite the summer doldrums. I still managed to find a few shows to watch…

It’s been a busy week as I worked on my golf game, attended a new yoga class, participated in Trivia Night at the local pub, and had family come and visit in Thornbury for the weekend. I have come home to TO for a rest and to see my husband off for a week of golfing in Ireland.

On the Big Screen

The Man from Uncle
Lighter than air film for aficionados of the 60’s series. Great costumes, hair and makeup & set design set the tone. Apparently director Guy Ritchie decided not to use the original theme music by Jerry Goldsmith and has gone with a sixtiesish soulful theme over the Bondish credits. In the midst of the Cold War, an American And a Russian intelligence agent are forced to work together to stop a madwoman from selling a nuclear device. Loved the performances by the leading men (Henry Cavill and Armand Hammer). Great new villainess played by Australian Elizabeth Debicki, and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander is the lovely leading lady.  Totally enjoyable spy pastiche from Guy Ritchie. Just wished they could have used the original music which was James Bondish/Austin Powersy/Mission Impossiblesque with its underlying bongo beat. Find the various versions of the original music on ITunes.

Currently (as I write this) I am watching the film Inherent Vice on demand. An all star ensemble mess from Paul Thomas Anderson (starring Joachim Phoenix with his most unattractive facial hair ever, Reese Witherspoon, James Brolin, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, and dozens of other recognizable actors). Almost 3 hours long – I don’t know if I can make it all the way through.  It’s pretty cray cray about an unorthodox detective on a search through the noir that is LA for a missing person.  Kind of a whimsical version of season 2 of True Detective about the corruption lying below the surface of LA.

Tried to watch the documentary Tim’s Vermeer on demand but found it way too dull and detailed for me. Watch when you are wide awake if you are wondering how Vermeer achieved the incredible realism of his painting.

Watched a great documentary on TVO about Lance Armstrong called Stop at Nothing that was absolutely riveting in it’s depiction of his ruthlessness and double life.

I  haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch the Netflix series debut of Narcos this past week about the Escobar cartel in Colombia. It has had great advance reviews.

Series debut for Public Morals on Superchannel on Sept 2. A new series directed by and starring Ed Burns set in 60’s NYC about cops.  Another auteur effort from Mr. Burns.

Mr. Robot
This series will debut on Superchannel in September and I have been streaming it online.  The season 1 finale airdate has been postponed due to the similarity of plot points with the recent on air shooting of journalists in Virginia. You will either love or hate this series which is totally unlike most shows dealing with hackers and the true nature of the Internet. You have to really concentrate to follow the dreamlike plot.

Miss Fisher Mysteries
Netflix viewers may have discovered this series already but PBS just debuted this Aussie detective series set in Melbourne during the twenties featuring a very fashionable and liberated woman for her era. You may fall in love with Phryne.

Fear the Walking Dead
On AMC. This prequel to Walking Dead just debuted.  I was dreading watching this as the original Walking Dead series actually has made me scream with terror. Anyhow I really enjoyed this show and the fact that it is so character based and follows the story of one family trying to deal with the onset of a zombie apocalypse makes it much less terrifying somehow. At least in the first episode….

Banished
On CBC. Very touching episode where friendships are tested.

Suits
On Bravo. OMG it must be the mid season cliffhanger ending!

Graceland
On Bravo. Ooh, is Briggs up to something bad?

Please Like me
On CBC. Don’t forget to watch this very sweet Aussie show about a boy coming of age and coming to terms with his sexuality. Very grown up content.

Strike Back
On TMN. OMG the mayhem escalates as our heroes smuggle themselves into N. Korea!

The Whispers
On ABC. Thank god that there is only one episode left to go to find out what the alien’s endgame is.

Teen Wolf
On MTV. Season finale is totally bonkers as the gang faces threats from all sides. Non stop action!

Zoo
On CBS. This week’s episode was their homage to Hitchcock as even budgies and doves go on a rampage against humanity.

Defiance
On Showcase. Alien apocalypse coming – again!

The Last Ship
On Space. Still trying to save what’s left of earth’s population

Falling Skies

On Superchannel. Alien apocalypse has come and humans are fighting for their survival.

The Strain
On FX. The vampire apocalypse has landed and humans are fighting for their survival.

Murder in the First
On Bravo. Darker and darker and in the season finale, James Cromwell is back to defend a corrupt police officer.

Show me a Hero
On HBO Canada. Who would ever want to be Mayor of Yonkers?!! Very sad true story of the efforts to bring some public housing to this suburb. Oscar Isaac burns up the screen with his intensity.

Ray Donovan
On HBO Canada. He lives in a film noir world where nothing is what it seems and his spiral keeps going downward.

Masters of Sex
On HBO Canada. Josh Charles is having a dalliance with Virginia and bringing a little light to this very strange and hypnotic series.

I am Cait
On E! I can’t look away. Apparently Kris Jenner is making a painful appearance tonight.  It will be their first appearance together since Cait publicly began her transition.

Tyrant
On FX. Yowza! Barry fights the Caliphate (a lot like ISIS) while Jamal succumbs to total paranoia. The most enjoyable series ever about a mythical middle eastern state from Gideon Raf (creator of Prisoners of War for Israeli TV and its Amrtican adaptation Homeland).

Married
On FX. Such a cute show about life in LA.

Hell on Wheels
On AMC. Deals are made with POTUS Ulysses S. Grant and The Swede finally sees his revenge plot against Brigham Young unfold.

Recently, a friend reminded me about how enjoyable The Graham Norton Show is. If you haven’t discovered it yet, you can check it out on YouTube  or BBC Canada.This British series is more irreverent than we’re used to, and this celebrity chat show features huge stars at their funniest.

This week I plan to see the film Learning to Drive starring Sir Ben Kingsley (apparently he insists on being addressed as Sir even in his private life!) playing one of the few Indian roles he has taken on since his starmaking appearance in Gandhi. It also stars one of my favourite actresses, Patricia Clarkson, who is usually the best thing about anything she appears in. Enjoy this very last week of the summer holidays! I will be spending the Labour Day weekend attending the Meaford International Film Festival where I will be seeing 3 films in 3 days with longtime lady friends.
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Summer is almost over…

New shows will be starting soon and returning shows will have their season debuts!  Until then, here’s what I’ve been watching.

New show alert

Blunt Talk starring Patrick Stewart as a hilariously drug and alcohol addled TV talk show host in a send up of both Network and Fox News.  I managed to watch episode 1 on the internet, but it will debut in September on Superchannel in Canada.  Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it in The Globe:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/sir-patrick-stewart-brims-with-mischief-in-starz-satire-blunt-talk/article25833024/

Netflix

I watched most of Staten Island Summer, an awful comedy from Lorne Michaels and many of the SNL staff.  Horrible coming of age movie which is derivative of so many other better summer fun films.

Watched most of the debut episode of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (8 episodes) with an all star cast from the original film.  Despite the incredible talent in this series (Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo and many others) it’s pretty unwatchable.  Must have been lots of fun to make and there’s actually a separate release called Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot.  I actually had had quite enough of this crew while watching the first episode of the season and won’t be diving in to the behind the scenes video.

HBO Canada

Masters of Sex – Masters’ and Johnson’s relationship deepens

Strike Back – mayhem returns with our two leading men and a cockamamie plot about nefarious doings by the North Koreans

Ray Donovan – Ray realizes what an awful predicament he has put himself in by going to work for the Finneys

Bill Maher – still snarky; Trump’s bad behaviour is a godsend for Maher

John Oliver – still cheeky; above comment re Trump is also true of Oliver

Show me a Hero – dark not easy to watch series about politics in Yonkers in the 80’s with Oscar Isaac

Streaming on the Internet

Mr. Robot – this bonkers but dreamlike show will come to Canada in Sept on Superchannel; not for everyone, it will require your full attention to follow the plotline and characters; this is a show that may benefit from bingewatching as I think continuity in watching the episodes close to each other will aid in comprehension; otherwise, you might like to have a look at episode recaps on the Internet to keep the story straight

On the networks

Defiance on Showcase – Nolan the Lawmaker struggles on shifting ground to prevent the Omec from destroying humanity (I’m not making this up)

Falling Skies on Superchannel – in its final season this show follows a group of human survivors trying to survive an alien invasion

The Last Ship on Space– this series follows a group of human survivors trying to survive a deadly virus

Tyrant on FX Canada – Barry is trying to save his homeland (a mythical Middle Eastern country named Abbudin) from an Isis like group called the Caliphate

Married on FX Canada – a married couple tries to survive in LA

The Strain on FX Canada – NYC tries to survive a deadly virus that turns people into monsters

The Ambassador on PBS – dated and sweet show starring Pauline Collins about the British ambassador in Dublin trying to survive MI6, assassination attempts, and the whole diplomatic process

Dr. Blake Mysteries on PBS – Aussie show about an alcoholic doctor who takes over his father’s medical practice while trying to deal with his tragic past

Hell on Wheels on AMC – Bohannan tries to survive while building the transcontinental railway to California

Humans on AMC – last episode of season 1 showed androids trying to survive humans out to destroy them

Please Like Me on CBC – sweet Aussie show about the coming of age of a 21 year old who has discovered that he is gay

Banished on CBC – great BBC series about the founding of Australia through penal colonies

Teen Wolf – on MTV – so much fun as the teens fight the Dread Doctors

Still watching Suits, Graceland and Murder in the First on Bravo. Loving the characters on these three shows.

Zoo on CBS; this week it was all about killer rats trying to destroy humanity and we explored Mitch’s backstory with his terminally ill daughter

The Whispers on ABC – malicious invisible imaginary friend is now killing the parents of the children with whom he is in communication

Call me Cait on E continues as Jenner tries to explore his new community of transgendered women; OK, I just read an article about how the producers auditioned the transgendered participants to ensure that they were sufficiently telegenic, charismatic, etc.; alright, so this isn’t a PBS documentary about this issue, but it is still fascinating to watch Cait grow as the person she has always wanted to be; the Kardashians participate in a very limited way

Here’s what a US comic had to say about Jenner’s transition in an appearance on Conan that raised lots of controversy:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bill-burr-caitlyn-jenner_55d7293ae4b020c386de5342

At the Movies

Saw Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation last week and have already forgotten about it and its incredibly convoluted plot but I did enjoy the leading lady played by Rebecca Ferguson, yet another gorgeous Swedish actress, and the villain played by Sean Harris in a very understated way as a British spook gone terribly rogue

Tonight we are off to see another summer blockbuster (that is all they show at the Collingwood cineplex), my childhood favourite The Man from UNCLE; I don’t care that the reviews have been terrible and that I have found Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies to be unwatchable.  I am going for the nostalgia factor as the film brings the 60’s to life and Hugh Grant plays a supporting role as Waverly, made famous in the original series by British character actor Leo G. Carroll

That’s all for now as I prepare for my last week at the cottage before George heads to Ireland and I head into the Meaford International Film Festival (4 films in 4 days) with some lady friends.

How we watch TV programs is changing!

I just read this article on Salon and thought you might be interested.  Some friends have asked me what I think about the many platforms that now exist for watching shows (PVR’s, steaming services, downloading, bingewatching several episodes in a row, etc.)  I thought this article was thought provoking and hope you enjoy it.

http://www.salon.com/2015/08/16/tv_beyond_the_binge_what_we_lose_when_we_gain_the_entire_story_at_once/

TV beyond the binge: What we lose when we gain the entire story at once

A very busy week concludes…

I spent last week preparing for a big bridal shower for my future daughter-in-law and this week I am recovering, had a wonderful trip to Niagara on the Lake with my walking group, plus played lots of golf, practiced my mahjong skills, watched meteor showers in the dark country sky above Thornbury, etc. (just some reassurance for those of you who worry that I am sitting way too much – as sitting is now the new smoking in terms of how much damage it does to your health -and not straying too far from the couch).

Premiere Alert on HBO Canada

Show Me a Hero debuts on Sunday Aug 16 on HBO Canada from the creator of The Wire starring the always intense Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex Machina, etc.); apparently this miniseries is based on a 1999 book about the desegregration of public housing in Yonkers, NY and is as compelling as a show about city council meetings and zoning ordinances can be

Streaming on Netflix

I still haven’t managed to watch some new original Netflix programs like Wet Hot American Summer the Prequel and Staten Island Summer.  This week a few new items debuted such as The Rewrite with Hugh Grant, Dancing on the Edge from Britain, and Club de Cuervos.

I did watch part of an episode from the new Britcom series The Delivery Man about a male midwife; awfully lame and silly, but if you’re addicted to Britcoms you may like it

Obvious Child – indy movie starring the charming and luminous Jenny Slate as a stand up comic who gets pregnant after a 1 night stand with a stranger; very sweet and kind of reminded me of one of my favourite Steve McQueen movies Love with the Proper Stranger in a millennial unromantic way

Video on Demand

TMN Canada is showing Dracula Untold; as I have a weakness for vampires, werewolves and zombies, I was a natural candidate for this film which tells the previously untold story that Vlad the Impaler was really a Transylvanian nationalist bravely fighting for his kingdom against the murderous Turks; starring Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance and Canadian actress Sarah Gadon, I rather enjoyed this unique take on an old favourite

I am Steve McQueen is a doc currently airing on TMN Canada.  It was a journey down memory lane for me as I had forgotten how influential this “king of cool” really was.  He stands up as a real film superstar and the clips from many of his classic films (including one of my favourite all time films The Great Escape from 1963) make him appear as relevant as though he were with us today.  He died tragically young at the age of 50 from cancer so will always be remembered for his classic anti-hero style. If he were still alive, he’d be 85 years old.

Here’s what I have managed to watch so far:

On HBO Canada

Finale of True Detective aired last week- dark, sad, nihilistic; don’t know anyone else who stayed with this very bleak series

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – totally bonkers BBC show about magic aired its finale last week; it’s Harry Potter for grown ups

Masters of Sex – Masters & Johnson get closer

Strike Back  on HBO Canada – the wild and crazy guys are back and they are kicking up mayhem wherever they go

Ray Donovan – fascinating turn of events as Ray has gone to work for the Finney family which includes father Andrew (played by the magnificently malevolent Ian McShane) and daughter Paige (played by Katie Holmes as a nasty piece of work)

Bill Maher on HBO Canada – he’s back and as snarky as ever

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – a wonderful weekly show where Oliver skewers world culture including FIFA, the Miss Universe pageant, the justice system, etc.  He is a much more lovable satirist in a much less snarky way than Bill Maher

Continuing to watch:

Mr. Robot – streaming on the Internet but coming to Canada in Sept.:  bonkers but hypnotic

Defiance on Showcase– latest episode has the Nolan the Lawmaker in deep trouble as he has shot a senior official during a hallucination and is being exiled to Brazil where he may be executed by the Votanis Collective (I’m not making this up)

Falling Skies on Superchannel –  uh oh, all is not what it seems when the 2nd Mass realizes that something is awfully wrong at the military base that seemed initially to be a refuge; good thing this show is coming to an end this year as it has gone down some of the same storylines as the far superior Walking Dead series

The Last Ship on Space– still heading towards a showdown with the submarine crazies

Tyrant on FX Canada – Barry’s wife and son both know he’s alive and kicking; things start to look a little dicey for the Jamal’s newly revealed son whom he has appointed Army Chief of Staff as he goes behind the president’s back

Married on FX Canada – very wry look at married life in LA

The Strain on FX Canada – so scary and gory and so over the top

The Ambassador  on PBS – I have now realized that this show combines the facile problem solving of Madame Secretary with an Angela Lansbury Murder She Wrote vibe so if you love those two shows, you may love Pauline Collins as the British Ambassador to the Irish Republic

Dr. Blake Mysteries on PBS – I am hope watching this rather slow Aussie police procedural set in the 50’s featuring a doctor who works for the police; so dark and plodding; somehow Dr. Blake needs more charisma for us to care about his tragic past

Hell on Wheels  on AMC – Cullen Bohannan continues to try to get the Irish and Chinese to work together as he leads the race between the Central Pacific and Union Pacific’s efforts to build the transcontinental railroad

Zoo on CBS – unintentionally funnier and funnier; last week was all about bears in Paris

CBS Sunday Morning – this is my hands down favourite current affairs program; I watch this every Sunday morning at 9 am (well 9:30 in PVR time so that I can FF through the commercials) as my Zen experience of the week; filled with profiles and human interest stories it inspires, energizes and relaxes me all at the same time; I can’t recommend it enough

Please Like Me  on CBC – OK, I have fallen prey to the charms of the hopelessly nerdy 21 year old main character who is trying to figure out his love life after his girlfriend convinces him he’s gay; very touching episode last week when a major character died unexpectedly; very interesting relationship between his parents who are divorced and trying to move on

Banished  on CBC – brutal and compelling; we see how Australia began as a penal colony for Brits often wrongly accused and harshly punished by a very unfair justice system

Teen Wolf on MTV – still loving this kooky teen show about monsters; this year’s plot has the writers paying homage to schlock Brit sci fi with its Dread Doctors storyline

Bravo

Still watching Suits, Graceland and Murder in the First and still getting great enjoyment from these three shows that approach law and order in entirely different ways

ABC

Still watching The Whispers to see how and why the invisible imaginary friend is pursuing its strategy of making children do unspeakable things

And now a word about TVO and PBS – so many great documentaries (especially if you’re feeling the summer doldrums of repeats, etc.) :  this past week featured one about the roots of WW1, the roots of the Palestinian conflict, the Ottoman Empire, etc. I really should be watching more of this type of stuff (plus of course PBS Frontline, Nova, etc.) rather than guilty pleasure shows like Zoo, Defiance, etc.  Watching docs on both TVO and PBS make me feel rather virtuous in that I invariably learn something I didn’t know

E – I have never watched this channel before, and I watch no reality TV (since I watch so much scripted TV), but I have fallen under the spell of Cait Jenner (Call Me Cait) and I am fascinated by Jenner’s transgender journey. I think Jenner is sincere in her passion to make the world more understanding of transgender issues. I have never watched a single episode of the Kardashian series, but I do like Cait’s story very much. I know people struggle with Jenner’s self exploitation for profit and the fact that so much of “reality TV” is scripted and produced with a firm storyline in place, however, I do feel that if Jenner can educate and put a human face on her transition, while preventing bullying and suicides in this community, then the series will be worthwhile.

That’s all for now as I have flowers to deadhead and laundry to change.  I am off to the actual movies in a theatre tonight and am still trying to decide whether it will be The Man from UNCLE (I was a huge fan of this 60’s spy dramedy for which I actually submitted a story outline and received an official reply from NBC) or Mission Impossible Rogue Nation starring the strangely unwrinkled 53-year-old Tom Cruise who does trouble me with his Scientology affiliation not to mention his weird marriages.  The Collingwood Cineplex only runs blockbusters as it must be all things to all people, so a summer blockbuster it will be.

It’s been a busy week, but I did manage to watch a little TV…

I confess that I had a very busy week but I did manage to watch a few shows as follows:

Netflix

Vexed with Toby Stephen and Lucy Punch – for those who like Black Sails on FX Canada, it is a real kick to see its leading actor (the dastardly pirate played by Toby Stephen) in a comic role as an immature, lazy and sexist detective (6 episodes over 2 seasons) who is absolute hell for his female partner to work with. I only lasted through 2 episodes of this silly cop series but those with an addiction to Britcoms may love it.

Wet Hot American Summer the Prequel – still haven’t watched it

Staten Island Summer – still haven’t watched it

 PBS

Poldark season finale – get out your hankies if you haven’t watched this yet. Absolutely action packed. Spoiler Alert: People get sick and die! So sad!

The Ambassador – British, but deadly dull and dated with Pauline Collins; sleep inducing

Dr. Long Mysteries – deadly dull Aussie mystery show (both this and The Ambassador are great for afternoon napping)

Frontline – as always incredible documentary reporting; last week’s show on the NRA was horrifying in explaining why gun control is a no-go in the USA

Streaming

Mr. Robot – hypnotic and almost hallucinogenic in its portrayal of a morphine addicted hacker who gets involved in an absolutely convoluted plot involving hacking the company he’s supposed to be protecting.. Outrageous characters and kinky sex abounds. TV is very grown up these days. Lots of nudity!!  I have watched the first 6 episodes and feel like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole as it takes you into a very different world

Bravo

Suits – Woo hoo!  Louis and Harvey battle over Louis’s sister. Mike tries to get along with the sleaziest lawyer in the firm.

Graceland – more and more complicated as pregnancies and drug addictions are concealed

Murder in the First – dark story of police corruption

Space

The Last Ship – a showdown is coming between the big ship and the crazies on the submarine. The President of the USA is now a good guy, possibly.

MTV

Teen Wolf – getting crazier and crazier

ABC

The Whispers – that imaginary friend is still fiendishly getting children to do bad things.

FX Canada

Married – awfully cute look at married life in LA

Tyrant – Barry’s son recognizes him as he tries to fund “Khalil” in his leadership of an anti-Caliphate group of insurgents

The Strain – crazier and crazier

Showcase

Defiance – crazy evil guy is obliterated and our peacekeeper is trying to get over his failure to protect his volunteers when an infiltrator managed to blow most of them up

Comedy Channel

Jon Stewart – 2 hour finale on Thurs Aug 6 was touching and inspiring in showing the huge talent pool involved in putting this show together; looking forward to his replacement by Trevor Noah and to Stephen Colbert’s debut in the Letterman spot on CBS in Sept; Jon Stewart will be missed, but I am a little relieved that I won’t be sitting through the pre-election comedy bits for the next year or so. I hope Trevor Noah will bring a new flavour to the show as he interprets the US through his South African frame of reference.

HBO Canada

Strike Back – they’re back on Friday Nights on HBO Canada and the mayhem continues as an Ambassador whose daughter has been kidnapped is blackmailed into doing something awful

Ray Donovan – Ray has a Mr. Mom moment as his wife goes AWOL to Boston abandoning their two teenagers; intriguing shift in power as Ray goes to work for the Phinney organization in order to get his brother out of prison

John Oliver – keeps making current events funny and interesting

Masters of Sex – wowie, Alison Janney and Beau Bridges are back; Masters is reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to hilarious effect

True Detective – darkest story of police corruption ever; last night’s episode was the season finale and I’m feeling kind of glad that this very oppressive show has come to an end.  I will not miss any of the characters who were very hard to care about

Bill Maher – he’s back and as snarky as ever!

AMC

Hell on Wheels – Bohannon has an incredibly tough job keeping the peace between the Irish and the Chinese

CBS

ZOO – this show has hilariously cheesy special effects as bats, bears, pussy cats, dogs, lions , etc. try to take over the world

CBC

Please Like Me – a bit juvenile, but kind of sexy Aussie show about a 21 year old exploring his sexuality while his hopelessly out of touch family looks on in bewilderment

Banished – BBC show about the founding of Australia through penal colonies; incredibly brutal; explains why the Aussies are so tough

CW

Dating – dark British comedy about blind dates

OK, recapping all that was exhausting.  I just returned from a wonderful outing to Niagara-on-the-Lake and this weekend was spent organizing a shower for my daughter-in-law to be.  Last week was 3 days of golf!!  Whew!!  time to put the feet up and watch some of my Sunday night shows that I haven’t caught up with yet.

Oh Dear, the Email version you received this morning did not include all the trailers I sent….

If you click on the Brunswil link on the bottom left of my last post and it will take you to my wordpress site which contains the actual trailers I included in my last post but which do not appear in the email version.  Oh dear, I thought I had gained some skill in including media! (This is also a good way to get to my past archived blogs if you want to look at previous shows I have suggested.)

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

It has been a very busy week as I have been involved in making some preparations for my son’s wedding, taking in a bit of live theatre (Kinky Boots in Toronto and Carousel in Stratford) and playing lots of golf.  I’ve had a hard time staying on top of new shows that have been quietly premiering and some that have quietly disappeared due to low ratings as described below.

Last week I was late in promoting the new BBC series Banished about the early colonization of Australia by British convicts.  I did manage to catch the first episode (CBC Mondays at 9) and although it was understandably brutal (an angry and resentful troop of British soldiers, who are also living in exile, serve as the jailers in Australia), there are moments of humanity that give some relief from the harsh living conditions for the prisoners.  As this is a period drama featuring costumes and British accents, I have no choice but to continue watching. Trailer below:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=banished+BBC+trailer&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari

I was also very late in realizing that CBC was also airing a new Aussie sitcom starring Josh Thomas called Please Like Me (2 episodes Friday 9:00 – 10:00).  This series is about a young man who is exploring his sexuality as he matures and realizes that his family has no idea of what’s going on.  It has had a rapturous reception in Australia and has run 3 seasons there.Trailer below:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=please+like+me+trailer&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari

I have also been remiss in reminding people that the very quirky comedy Welcome to Sweden has begun airing its second season on NBC Sundays at 8.  Sadly as I double checked its availability tonight, I realized that the show has quietly been cancelled due to low ratings.  Starring Amy Poehler’s brother Greg, it is based on his real life experiences in moving to Sweden and marrying his girlfriend.  Please try to catch up with this series online.  It was pretty groundbreaking for a US network program as it very slyly explored the differences between US and Swedish culture and much of the show’s dialog is in Swedish with English subtitles. Trailer below:

In a similar vein, I did thoroughly enjoy all 3 seasons of the Netflix series Lilyhammer starring the Sopranos’ Steve Van Zandt. This series, which happily is still available on Netflix, was also a fish out of water story and poked great fun at the experiences of a Mafioso in the Witness Protection Program hiding out in a small town in Norway. Trailer below:

And now for something completely different.  I had been asked by a friend if I had watched Mr. Robot yet so I was compelled to seek it out online, even though it will not premiere in Canada until September.  Made for USA network, this series is truly original.  This series follows Elliot Alderson, a young man living in NYC, who works at Alsace as a cyber security engineer.  Elliot has social anxiety disorder, but connects to people by hacking them and acts as a cyber vigilante.  He is recruited by a mysterious social anarchist known as “Mr. Robot” , and joins his team of hackers, known as “fsociety”.  One of their missions is to take down one of the largest corporations in the world, E Corp (known as “Evil Corp” by Elliot), a company that Elliot is paid to protect.  Although at least six episodes have aired and are available to me, I have so far made it through only the first two episodes.  I think it is exhaustion rather than lack of enthusiasm that has resulted in my not being able to binge watch this show in its entirety.  On the other hand, perhaps I am developing some self control?  Unlikely. Trailer below:

I have also been too busy to bingewatch two new Netflix summer comedy premieres,  Wet Hot American Summer the Prequel (starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper and others too numerous to mention from the 2001 original) and Staten Island Summer starring SNL alumni from the Lorne Michaels team.  Trailers below:

As for my usual lineup of shows, please check my previous posts.  Poldark is airing its finale tonight on Masterpiece Theatre from 9:00 to 11:30.  That lengthy time period sounds ominously like an opportunity to include pledge segments, so beware and set your PVRs accordingly.  Sometimes those pledge segments get a little out of control and cause the show to run late, so you might want to extend your recording time by an extra half our or hour, just so you don’t miss the end of the series.  Trailer below:

Last Sunday marked the end of WW1 drama The Crimson Field which had aired immediately after the Poldark series.  There were many heartbreaking moments in its finale as the love story between Sister Joan Livesay and her German soldier concludes, the ongoing treachery of Sister Quayle builds to a climax, and the triangle between  Sister Kitty Trevelyan, Captain Gillen and Captain Hesketh-Thorne comes to an end.  If you liked Call the Midwife (currently available on Netflix), you will love The Crimson Field.  Trailer below:

I was delighted by the live musical Kinky Boots that I saw at the Royal Alex Theatre this week in Toronto.  This show, music by Cindy Lauper, book by Harvey Fierstein, is based on a 2005 British comedy film.  It is a positive tale about accepting people for whom they really are.  It tells the story of a straight laced shoe manufacturer who befriends a drag queen and then converts his failing family business from being purveyors of fine British traditional footwear (like Church’s shoes) into a manufacturer of outrageously styled kinky boots aimed at the transvestite/drag queen community.  Despite a multiplicity of very different takes on a British Midlands accent (the show is set in Northampton, UK) and a lack of really memorable tunes that follow you out of the theatre, I found the show particularly timely and touching in its theme of acceptance of people who are different (and it also features great dance numbers). In the same vein, Cait (formerly Bruce) Jenner’s reality show I am Cait debuted last Sunday night at 8:00 on E! channel.  I enjoyed the Jenner show for its very sensitive depiction of her family (mother and two sisters) adjusting to her transformation from male to female.  Cait’s mother is particularly touching in her genuinely loving and accepting reactions to her new daughter.  I realize that the issues of transgendered people may not resonate with many (one friend referred to the Diane Sawyer interview with Jenner as a freak show), but it has struck a chord with me.  I am aware that Jenner is exploiting his own experiences for financial gain, but if the series prevents bullying and suicides, it will have been worthwhile.

I also saw Carousel at Stratford this week.  This show debuted on Broadway in 1945 and features some of the most beautiful music ever composed by Rogers and Hammerstein including “If I Loved You” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  It is about a carnival barker named Billy Bigelow who falls in love with a simple mill worker named Julie Jordan.  Played by Gordon Macrae and Shirley Jones in the 1956 film version, those performances are indelibly etched into my memory.  It’s a bit hard to see Alexis Gordon who does have a lovely soprano voice but whose diction is vaguely ethnic and very contemporary replace Jones.  There is colour blind casting in this production and almost all the multiracial actors struggle with having some kind of generic New England chowdah Boston accent.  They all go for a folksy g-dropping version to show that they are in a disadvantaged class of fishermen and factory workers.  The most disturbing element of the show is its theme of domestic violence.  The original script’s message is that if someone you love hits you then it doesn’t hurt.  There is a spiritual aspect to the story as Billy Bigelow kills himself after he commits an attempted robbery, and is then offered the chance to return to earth and help his daughter go through a turbulent adolescence. Just as he had struck out at Julie with violence during their marriage, he loses his temper with his daughter and slaps her as well.  He is filled with remorse for his violent actions and the original message of the play seems to be that if you are genuinely sorry for striking out in anger, you will be redeemed.  This view hasn’t aged well over the last 70 years and is a bit jarring in today’s theatre.  How interesting that Stratford has presented a 70-year old Broadway musical with a very dated attitude to domestic violence and womens’ issues with the same reverence with which we view Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, Wilde, etc.  There has been no attempt to modernize the play’s viewpoint and it’s presented as a classic of American musical theatre.  Very thought provoking.  I would say that the beauty of the musical’s score and its wonderfully staged dance numbers brought the audience to its feet at the end, and it’s unlikely that most of my fellow theatre-goers were troubled by the show’s current political incorrectness.

On that note, please enjoy the magnificent summer weather we are currently experiencing.  It’s a gorgeous summer day here in Thornbury and my flowers need to be deadheaded!