More on the new shows!!

Farewell to TIFF:

The Viewer’s Choice Award at TIFF went to Room based on a book by Canadian author Emma Donohue. This is an important award, chosen by the fans, and often is a predictor of the Oscar best film award.  Filmed in Toronto, Room is a wonderful film about the resilience of the human spirit and the special bond between mother and child. Joy, a 17 year-old, is abducted and held captive by a man we know only as Nick. During her 7 years of captivity she gives birth to a son who is celebrating his 5th birthday when the film begins. Very touching and disturbing and ultimately inspiring as Joy and her son Jack manage to survive the brutal nature of their imprisonment..


Jurassic World was actually better than I expected it to be. Thoroughly engaging, amazing special effects, and I only screamed out loud a few times. Use of some character actors in villain roles does predict that they will meet a horrific end (I’m talking about you, Vincent D’Onofrio) and tends to telegraph their eventual demise.

The Family was a bizarre crime comedy about a Brooklyn mafioso (played on auto pilot by Robert DeNiro) and his family (Michelle Pfeiffer is a stand out) who are placed in the witness protection program in France. Directed by Luc Besson, this very uneven film constantly veers back and forth between comedy and violence. Much better than I thought it would be.

The November Man is a routine spy thriller with Pierce Brosnan and Olga Kurylenko. Enjoyable but forgettable.

Deliver us from Evil is a routine police/demonic possession film starring Eric Bana and Sean Harris (Mission Impossible Rogue Nation).

The returning shows:

Gotham is on Mondays at 8 on Fox. Got to love that Ben McKenzie as the very serious Jim Gordon. The young fellow playing Bruce Wayne is growing up before our eyes. Sean Pertwee as Alfred the butler is extremely likeable as the steady, wise force looking out for our future Batman.

Scandal on ABC Thurs at 9 was juicy! Murder of a princess and divorce papers served!

Empire on FOX at 9 was over the top juicy! Guest stars galore and a prison murder!

Nashville on ABC Wed at 10 was juicy! Juliette is still bonkers! Deacon lives! Scarlett is as fragile as ever! Rayna is feeling sad about her record company! Luke is still gay!

The Mindy Project is back and available on the Internet for Season 4. The first episode is a hilarious parody of It’s a Wonderful life as Mindy dreams of her alternative path in life and Danny goes off to India to ask Mindy’s father for permission to marry her. The second episode is the childbirth episode and has great appearances from the Duplass brothers as the alternative childbirth advocates.

The New Shows:

Blindspot on NBC reminds me of The Blacklist in terms of the central mystery at its core: Who is Jane Doe and what is her relationship to our leading man? Similar to who is Reddington and what is his relationship to our leading lady? A Jane Doe is found in Times Square with no memory and mysterious tattoos on her body. I will give this show another look, if only for the pleasure of seeing Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back) again.

The Player on NBC starring Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester (Strike Back) had a premiere that was beyond ludicrous. A mashup of every Vegas show ever made, plus every hi tech crime series ever made, crossed with a futuristic crime prediction plot (like Person of Interest) and add in millionaires gambling on crime outcomes and you have the insane premise for this show. Winchester is yummy even without his fake British accent, but that’s the only reason I would ever watch this guilty pleasure dreck again. Sadly, although both of the above shows star Strike Back‘s two leads, neither show is nearly as engaging as Strike Back which was astonishingly uncomplicated in comparison to these two madly derivative messes.

Tried to watch Rosewood but gave up out of sheer indifference despite the Miami setting. Don’t really feel the need for another crime solving pathologist (what a novel idea). Bored silly!

Gave up on Minority Report with an impossibly complicated sci fi/hi tech plot line involving pre-cogs (pre cognitives) who can see into the future!! I’m not making this up! Nothing about this show engaged me and I gave up in total disinterest before 15 minutes had lapsed.

The Driver (a 3 part miniseries from BBC) made its debut Thursday night on CHCH.  Starring David Morrissey and set in Manchester, this series is a grim noir tale of a taxi driver who takes on some extra driving duties for a crime boss played by Colm Meaney.  This doesn’t look like it will end well for Morrissey.

Continuing series:

The Interceptor (BBC Canada on Thurs at 10) – this show is a bit of a British take on The Wire as a law enforcement team targets most wanted criminals using wire taps and surveillance techniques.

Miss Fisher Murder Mystery  (PBS Thurs at 8 and Netflix) – Phryne and the police inspector get cozier!

The Doc Zone  (CBC Thurs at 9) had a terrific doc on voluntarism. An eye opener!

Strike Back (HBO Canada Fri at 11) continues its nonsensical mayhem with its two charismatic leads Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester wreaking havoc all over Asia and Europe.

Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex continue Sunday night on HBO Canada.  The Strain continues Sunday night on FX.

Still loving my comedy and current affairs shows including Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Bill Maher, and my Sunday mainstay CBS Sunday Morning. This week Trevor Noah will debut on Comedy Channel at 11 pm Mon-Thurs as the new host of The Daily Show replacing Jon Stewart.

A great article from John Doyle in The Globe on 10 new fall premiere shows to watch:

On my watch list for Sunday night premieres:

Great article by John Doyle in the Globe re Indian Summers, the latest Masterpiece Theatre starting Sunday:

On ABC Sunday night we have two new shows Oil and Money (starring Don Johnson in North Dakota as a fracking magnate) and Quantico (an FBI thriller with an international cast).  Both shows look very entertaining!!

Enjoy this beautiful Indian Summer weather we’ve been having.  If you’re not too busy watching the new shows Sunday night, there is a Supermoon lunar eclipse on Sunday night which we should be able to view in Ontario at about 10:15.  If you miss it, you will have to wait until 2033 to see the next one, so set your PVR, or pause your shows and get outside Sunday night to see this spectacular celestial event.  We will be around our fire pit in Thornbury leaning back in our Muskoka chairs and staring at the moon.  Starting Monday, we go into countdown mode as we head toward the big family wedding next Saturday.  Fingers crossed for more glorious weather and smooth travels for all attending.

The New Shows are Here!!

The new shows are here! Start those PVR’s! plus The 2015 Emmys air tonight on Fox at 8 pm!

This week will see the debuts of several new series and returning premieres of some favourite shows on my watchlist:

Gotham on Fox Mondays at 8 – Season 2 opens with a continuing story about Gordon’s relationship with Penguin and Bruce’s exploration of his father’s secrets

Minority Report debuts on Mondays on Fox at 9 – this TV adaptation of the 2002 so I-fi film about a cop in a futuristic hi-tech squad that in 2065, attempts to stop horrific crimes before they happen with help from a mysterious precognitive man

Blindspot on NBC Monday’s at 10 – an u identified woman with amnesia is found in Times Square covered in tattoos, including one tattoo bearing an FBI agent’s name, and the FBI realize that these marks are clues to solving crimes in the series premiere with Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back)

Scream Queens on Fox Tuesday’s at 8 – a comedy-horror anthology series begins with a tale of a college campus experiencing a rash of murders

Limitless on CBC Tues at 10 – a man named Brian Finch develops superhuman abilities after taking a mysterious drug called NZT in the series premiere, which finds him landing on the FBI’s radar as he works to clear his name of an NZT related murder.

Rosewood on Fox Wed at 8 – a case is personal for Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., who teams up with Det. Annalise Villa for the first time in the premiere of this drama following a brilliant private pathologist who helps the Miami police department

The Bastard Executioner debuted on FX last week and airs Tues at 10; reputed to be FX’s answer to Game of Thrones; very entertaining so far with 14th C costumes and various English accents; Stephen Moyer (True Blood) is a very bad man!

Returning series include The Middle on Wed at 8 on ABC; Modern Family on Wed at 9 on ABC; Empire on Wed at 9 on Fox; Nashville on Wed at 10 on ABC

Zoo concluded on Tues at 9 on CBS with our heroes coming up with a cure for those crazy animals.

Love Child concluded on CBC – finally caught up with this show and watched the last of 8 episodes in Season 1 and I am loving the intrigue; it’s kind of an Aussie Call the Midwife but far soapier and sexier; this show is now available on CBC On Demand if you missed it

You’re the Worst on Wed at 10:30 on FX – has begun its second season; a very naughty and grown up show about two wastrels who have hooked up in LA.

Still watching:

The Strain – bonkers
Fear the Living Dead – scarier and scarier
Arthur and George on Masterpiece – concluding tonight with the great Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Ray Donovan – fascinating noir turn as Hank Azaria returns to the show as an FBI manager whose career was ruined by Ray
Masters of Sex – the prickly Masters is still wooing the sexy Johnson

Still loving my regular comedy and public affairs series:

Late Night with Stephen Colbert – nightly on CBS at 11:35

Real Time with Bill Maher – Friday nights on HBO at 10

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Sunday nights on HBO at 11

CBS Sunday Morning – Sunday mornings at 9 on CBS
Movies watched:

At TIFF this past week, I watched Youth with Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Jane Fonda; long sad meditation on aging

Tonight at TIFF: the Viewers Choice Award (TBA on the TIFF website at 12:30 for announcement of the audience’s favourite film (chosen by ballot) which will screen at 8:00 pm at Roy Thomson Hall)

Streaming on Netflix: Clouds of Sils Maria with Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart; a long sad meditation on aging with an All About Eve vibe

Streaming on Internet: Cake with Jennifer Aniston – a very long sad meditation on grief

OK, this is going to be a busy week (exactly 2 weeks to go before the big family wedding), lots of new shows to watch and my favourites are starting to return; plus it’s a gorgeous day out there which I started early this morning by taking our grand dog Louie for a walk, staring into the blinding sun, falling into a ditch and twisting my ankle in the process, causing me to cancel my golf game, encase my ankle in ice and cross my fingers that I still make it to tonight’s TIFF grand finale with the Viewer’s Choice award screening at 8 pm at Roy Thomson Hall; this will require much hobbling along King Street as the announcement will be made at 12:30, followed by a mad dash for tickets (and huge line up number 1) followed by a second huge line up to get into the theatre before the screening.  Fingers crossed that the swelling of my ankle has subsided by then!!

Still waiting for the new shows to begin, but in the meantime….

Caught up with the first three episodes of the highly recommended The Bletchley Circle which were recently rerun on PBS and available on Netflix; many friends have watched this British series about a team of code breakers who reunite 4 years after the war and begin to solve crimes using their skills honed working to break Nazi cyphers; it’s a great depiction of postwar Britain and the changing roles of women as they adapt to life as second class citizens after doing their bit to win the war behind the scenes
Watched the amazing doc film Amazonia (a French Brazilian coproduction on TMN) starring the most adorable Capuchin monkey I’ve ever seen fighting for his life in the Amazonian rainforest; I was amazed by the photography and the scenery and literally had my heart in my mouth as I watched the sweet little monkey run for his life from all manner of predators
Watched the Australian series The Code in its entirety on Superchannel, kind of an Aussie Mr Robot without the hallucinogenic atmosphere but interestingly featuring an Asperger’s syndrome techie character just like Mr Robot
Caught the last episode of Mr Robot online but soon available on Superchannel – if you watch this, make sure you continue watching the closing credits as the show continues after the credits
Have been enjoying the new Colbert Late Night on CBS, which got off to a lame and unfunny start, but I did cry during the Joe Biden interview on Thurs night’s show; Colbert has the depth and insight that both the Jimmys lack; he’s a brilliant man and hopefully, the show will find the right balance between humour and political insight
Caught an episode of The Interceptors on BBC Canada – kind of a British The Wire with a variety of working class British accents and cop show cliches
Continuing to enjoy Please Like Me, the Aussie series about a hopelessly self involved young man coming to terms with his sexuality
Graceland continues with Briggs taking quite the beating for his manipulation of the team
You’re the Worst returned to FX with a naughty episode where our two leading characters get riotously wasted to prove how wild and crazy they are as they fear domesticity and ordinariness as they settle into life as a couple
Married on FX continues to show us the marital struggles of our LA couple and their friends
Zoo had some mighty murderous Jaguars attacking humanity this week and a cliffhanger ending (literally, as they were on a plane being attacked by killer birds)
Banished,  the Aussie drama about the penal colony that grew to become Australia, came to a rather sad ending on CBC; possibly sadder still as there is no news of a second season coming from BBC
Finished watching Dancing on the Edge on Netflix by Stephen Poliakoff (from BBC) starring the delectable Matthew Goode; it is an intriguing series about a black jazz band in 1930’s London; Goode is wonderful as a cockney reporter who is so un-Downton and un-The Good Wife for him – what range he has as an actor!
The Strain‘s madness continues on FX with a big showdown in Red Hook, NJ
Masters of Sex continues on HBO Canada with Masters trying to manipulate Johnson into falling in love with him
Ray Donovan on HBO Canada is about to encounter a past adversary played by Hank Azaria
Fear the Walking Dead on AMC took the Labour Day weekend off but returns this weekend
Tried to watch Scottish sitcom Still Game on Netflix and didn’t make it all the way through one episode as it was extremely goofy and almost unintelligeably Scottish
Looked at The Detectives, British reality show on Netflix and didn’t last more than 15 minutes as I really only watch 1 reality show and that is I am Cait

I am Cait continues on E! and teasingly promises to show more of the conversation between Kris Jenner and Cait
Finally got down to watching Narcos on Netflix and have made it through the first 8 episodes of nonstop mayhem so far; truly bloodcurdling in its violence which depicts life in a narco state ruled by the crime lord Pablo Escobar and his fellow gangsters; it chillingly shows the “normality” of his family life contrasted with his psychopathic drive to run his organization and the country; of course, his adversaries in law enforcement and government have to equal his drive with their own often compromising the rules of law once there is an open war between Escobar and the Colombian government and justice system; in the background are two relentless DEA agents who drive the hunt for Escobar; one is played by Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) from Game of Thrones and Boyd Holbrook (Hatfields and McCoys); at times it does become very hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys as the good guys learn that it doesn’t always pay to play by the rules.
Working my way through the first season of Residue a Brit mini-series on Netflix starring Ramsay Bolton (played by Iwan Rheon) from Game of Thrones and another GOT alumni Natalie Tena; scary futuristic stuff and so weird to see Ramsay in a sort of non-villainous role

Watched the latest Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO Canada which featured Wendell Pierce from The Wire (Bunk) who spoke eloquently about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans and the recent arrest of a black tennis player in NYC; he made a wonderful point about the violently physical take down of a suspected credit card fraudster vs the total lack of police attention on the major players in the 2008 Wall Street debacle

Strike Back returned to HBO Canada with the conclusion of its crazy N. Korea storyline

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight returns tonight on HBO Canada after a two-week hiatus

OK, I know my friends are concerned that I watch a little too much TV, but I actually managed three consecutive days of golfing 18 holes in Thornbury and had my best score ever on 9 holes at Lambton.  Tonight we are off to see The Barra McNeils, a Canadian Celtic band and I will head down to TIFF next weekend.  It was our first real weekend of autumn weather in Thornbury and the beautiful reds are starting to emerge in the countryside.  Sweater weather!!  Enjoy this beautiful Fall season.

Labour Day Weekend and Summer (and summer TV) Comes to an End

I had a very busy wonderful week with lots of golf, hikes, dinners with friends and two longtime friends who came to stay with me in Thornbury where we saw three days of films at the Meaford International Film Festival as well as attending local markets, walking the Beaver River and the shore of Georgian Bay and spending a daily allotment of time in and around my backyard pool in the hottest, muggiest weather I experienced this summer. (Whew, that was an exhaustingly long run-on sentence!)

Festival Films
The first film we saw at the festival was Red Army a documentary about the Red Army hockey team that was an unbeatable force during the Cold War. The film is thought provoking as it centres on Slava Fetisov, the galvanizing force of the Russian team who has a larger than life personality. The film follows his journey from Soviet team player to NHL star to Russian Minister of Sports under Putin and beyond. Coincidentally, I have been reading the biography of Vladimir Putin called The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen. A man of mystery who was forged by his KGB career, Putin is revealed as an incredibly ruthless man without a soul who is known for his pilfering, pettiness and poison.  The film manages to track the demise of the Soviet Union as it follows the story of the Russian team and Russian players are allowed to leave to join the NHL during Perestroika (the reform movement initiated by Gorbachev during the 1980’s) while the Russian government extracts a major percentage from their lucrative contracts as the price of their freedom.

The second festival film was A Brilliant Young Mind about a teen age math prodigy in Britain who attempts to join the UK Math Olympiad Team. Great performances from Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan and Rafe Spall. A wonderful touching human story of a triumph over tragedy, first love, and the mystery of genius.

The last film was by far the most original. Speed Sisters tells the story of the Palestinian women’s sports car racing team. With marginal training facilities, lack of societal support and against all odds, this team of diverse ayoung women are able to achieve a type of freedom and independence that is not usually found by women in the Arab world. It also manages to put a human face on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Thought provoking and exhilarating it’s a truly original film that deserves to find an audience  and has yet to find distribution.
In General Release
I also managed to see a newly released film last week called Mistress America. Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring his wife Greta Gerwig, the film explores the coming of age of an 18 year old aspiring writer and college student who is inspired by her future stepsister, a madcap 30 year old who is trying to find her way in NYC. Funny and sad, the film shows how difficult it is for 30 somethings to pursue their dreams. Very talky and a little slow paced, this film will not appeal to those who find Miss Gerwig less than scintillating.
Available on the Internet
A friend asked me a while back if I had ever watched Friday Night Dinner.This 20 minute (no commercials) Britcom is available for streaming. Starring Tamsin Greig (famous for Episodes) as a Jewish mother in London who serves Friday night dinner without fail to her family consisting of an absent minded eccentric husband who strangely never wears a shirt as he is always too hot, and her two twenty something sons. They are regularly visited by an extremely annoying neighbour, her mother, the boys’ girlfriends, etc. Very, very funny. I watched all three seasons, each season consisting of 6 episodes, in rapid succession. I loved it!

On Netflix

The BBC miniseries Dancing on the Edge debuted on Netflix recently and I finally watched the first 5 of 6 episodes. It’s about a black jazz band in London in the 1930’s. It stars Matthew Goode, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Goodman, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Head, etc. Great cast and a fascinating story as the band deals with a tragedy that threatens to destroy its future.

Season Finales – Major Spoiler Alerts!
Defiance blasted the Lawkeeper into outer space.
The Last Ship blasted the submarine to Smithereens.
Tyrant saw what is likely the last of Jamal as Barry considers the long term possibilities of Abudin.
Falling Skies had Noah Wylie blast the enemy aliens right off the earth and all was well again.
Murder in the First saw the young mass murderer found guilty.
The Whispers saw a season of unbelievable hokum come to an end. I actually can’t remember how the season finale ended but somehow the alien re activated all the children he has once possessed. Pointless!

Regular series I managed to catch

Zoo stumbles along with more species going bonkers.

Graceland floats towards its series finale with Briggs looking more and more suspicious.

Not Caught up yet!
Still haven’t managed to catch up with my regular shows like Mr. Robot, Fear the Walking Dead, The Strain, Ray Donovan, I am Cait, Married, etc. it’s been a very busy week and I didn’t actually get to watch much TV. Too much time spent lying by and in the pool having cool beverages with friends. Kind of a wonderful end to a great summer spent mostly in Thornbury!  Happy Labour Day everyone!!