With so many shows going on mid-season hiatus or having their actual finales, there are just a few items to bring to your attention this week. John Doyle supplies one of his very useful lists of shows you might be overlooking:
At the Movies
I had the great pleasure of seeing Star Wars with my boys this weekend. We saw it in a VIP theatre with all the amenities. Valet parking, in seat food and beverage service, etc. There was a mood of great anticipation and camaraderie in the theatre with just a few people bringing light sabres and other paraphernalia. I loved the movie. It is a soft re-boot of the original, in that it brings back all the central characters and introduces us to the next generation of Star Wars players. I thought the performances were great and the special effects were seamless. It is a very affectionate retelling of the Star Wars mythology with the rebels still fighting against the empire (now renamed the New Order). If you haven’t seen the original or it has been almost 40 years since you did, this movie will serve as a good primer for all the sequels that will follow.
Special Event TV
I caught the mini-series Childhood’s End on Showcase last week. Told in 3 parts, this is a cautionary tale about visitors from another planet taking over the earth. Based on a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, this series is kind of nihilistic, but fascinating in its hypothesis of a world where there is no war, no disease, no disharmony of any kind, but where scientific research is eliminated and people no longer have to face any kind of struggle. Interesting and thought provoking.
I caught the first 4 episodes on Space.ca of The Expanse, a new sci-fi series. This series is reminiscent of the newer version of Battlestar Galactica and is a great addition to the genre of space series. I really enjoyed it and thought it had great acting and production values and a very appealing cast. It stars Thomas Jane as a hardboiled detective of the future (he’d fit right into Bladerunner) and some of you may remember him as the well-endowed star of Hung. The rest of the cast is predominantly Canadian and you may enjoy seeing familiar faces pop up in character roles. Another standout is Shoreh Aghdashloo, the husky voiced Iranian actress who plays a senior official in the earth government. I loved this series, which I think will start on a regular basis in January, but you can sneak preview the first 4 episodes on line right now.
My regular recommendations:
Last night was the season finale of Homeland (season 5). I loved this season as it got the series off to a fresh start in Berlin. It was astonishingly true to life as it is built around a possible terror attack on Berlin (it was filmed long before the Paris attacks) and best of all – no Brody! Carrie is back in heroic form, Quinn goes through immeasurable suffering and there is a great subplot involving Saul and his paramour. You don’t have to have seen the previous seasons to enjoy this one. Previous seasons are available on Netflix and the current season is available on demand through Rogers on Superchannel.
I have recorded The Affair Season 2 finale, but haven’t watched it yet. The Affair is available on demand on HBO Canada.
The Knick Season 2 came to a finale last week and was brutal and fascinating as always. Thackeray (Clive Owen) is still manic (especially when the cocaine kicks in), and his self-destructive tendencies come to the fore this season. I caught up with this HBO Canada series On Demand through Rogers.
I saw the last episodes of the two CBC series I was following. This Life with Tori Higginson as a divorced mother of three diagnosed with terminal cancer ends on a cliffhanger. The Romeo Section about the heroin trade in Vancouver goes out with lots of bangs as major characters face harrowing plot twists. Both of these series are available On Demand through Rogers.
Deutschland 83, the time capsule drama featuring cold war intrigue in 1983 set to a pop music background, faces a nuclear apocalypse in its final episode as the East Germans get the wrong end of the stick regarding West German/Nato war games exercises. Very suspenseful! This series has been airing on IFC (Independent Film Channel) in Canada and the US.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who never reads my blog, but always asks me what to watch on Netflix and how to find out when specific series are airing. There will be lots of best of 2015 lists coming out in the next 10 days or so as the year comes to an end. Decider.com is a great site for that sort of thing, but you can always google something like “Best shows to watch on Netflix”. If you are unsure of when a specific show is on in your area, try googling the name of the show with an enquiry like “When will the new season of Doc Martin air in the Toronto area”. An enquiry like that should get you to the correct channel and time for the program you are seeking. By the way, new Doc Martin episodes are airing on Vision TV at 9 pm on Wednesdays in Ontario. I haven’t caught up with the season 7 episodes yet, but I have a fondness for this curmudgeonly character.
As I rush off to another Christmas gathering, having just arrived home from one in time to take one more look at this post before sending, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!! God (or whoever) bless us everyone. Peace, happiness and health to all of my family and friends for 2016. The next post I write will be from sunny Naples, FL.