The extraordinarily cool and damp weather of the past week has probably contributed to my desire to burrow down and bingewatch. I made a new discovery (Younger on TVLand) and watched a curiously compelling new show (Me, You and the Apocalypse). So here goes my summary of this week’s viewing:
Streaming on Netflix:
Chelsea Does is Chelsea Handler’s new documentary series. Watched the first episode and found it slightly tedious on the subject of Marriage. I kept waiting for the jokes and there really weren’t any.
Streaming on Crackle:
Powers is an intriguing sci fi show about a police force special division tasked with investigating murders involving superheroes and super villains. It stars Shallot Copley from Chappie and I did enjoy the Pilot. In this crowded universe of too many shows, too little time, I don’t know if I will find the time to go back to it.
Truth tells the story of Dan Rather’s fall from grace at CBS when it is revealed that unreliable sources were behind the story of George Bush’s checkered career with the Texas Air National Guard. Robert Redford isn’t bad as Rather (his voice is very good) and Cate Blanchett is luminous as the producer behind the story.
Debuts and returning shows from the past week:
Beowulf on ESQUIRE was great fun in a kind of juvenile way. Cheesy monsters (this is from the same British production team that made Primeval) and attractive young performers. Beowulf (the epic Norse story) purists will be outraged!
Black Sails (STARZ) is also great fun and this year Blackbeard (played by Ray Stevenson from Rome) makes a chilling debut. The pirate community of Nassau is fighting for its existence.
The X Files (Fox) returned after a 12 year absence and I think it will be a great comfort to those who have missed it. Only 6 episodes that will alternate between conspiracy theories and monsters of the week.
Grimm (NBC) is back from its hiatus. More monsters of the week and Juliet is back from the dead. Sorry for the spoiler, but you do learn this in the show’s first five minutes.
Suits (USA) has returned. Mike starts off the episode in handcuffs and the series seeks to solve the mystery of who turned him in. Trailer for the next episode reveals all. I do love this show about a brilliant young man who passes himself off as a Harvard law grad and rises to partner in a prestigious firm, all the while fearing exposure as a fraud.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW) returned from its hiatus. Our leading lady, who has pursued her high-school boyfriend from NYC to suburban LA, is also living in fear of constant exposure for the craziness of her obsession. If you love musical theatre, you will adore this delightful show where people burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation. Love this show. Quirky but intriguing.
Lucifer (Fox) features an incredibly charming British actor (Tom Ellis) as a son of Satan who has a knack for solving crimes in modern day LA. Ludicrous dialogue (he doesn’t attempt to hide his real identity from anyone) abounds. I doubt this show will survive as it really is extremely silly. Tom Ellis is very attractive though.
The 100 (CW) returns from hiatus to continue the story of a post-apocalyptic Earth which is the setting for warring factions of descendants of survivors.
The Shannara Chronicles (MTV) based on a young adult series of novels, this show follows the adventures of a group of elves, druids, etc. fighting to survive in a world where evil forces constantly threaten them. I really enjoyed this show, and I can’t explain why. It is great fun with scary monsters constantly appearing on the horizon. Delightful cast (Manu Bennett, John Rhys Davies) and an exciting storyline. If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc. you may enjoy this series.
Outsiders debuted this past week on WGN and stars David Morse in a tale of backwoods Appalachia. I loved Justified and hope that this series will continue that vibe.
You, Me and the Apocalypse (NBC) is truly like no show that has ever been on TV before. An NBC/SKY TV coproduction, this comedy follows a group of disparate characters who soon find out that the end of the world is upon them as a comet hurtles towards the earth. The first episode stars Brit Matthew Baynton as a hapless banker who is mistaken for a terrorist and discovers he has an evil twin; Jenna Fischer as a hapless mom who goes to prison for protecting her 14 year old hacker son from prosecution; and Rob Lowe as a Vatican priest who is responsible for vetting people nominated for sainthood. It is 34 days before the end of the world and there will be 15 people who come together over the show’s 9 episodes. Intriguing! Here is John Doyle’s article on the show from The Globe and Mail:
I discovered Younger (TV Land On Demand) this past week. Season 1 has 12 episodes and Season 2 has aired its first 4 episodes. Starring Broadway star Sutton Foster as Liza Miller, a 40 year old single mother who tries to return to the publishing world after being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years. When she realizes she is being interviewed by 26 year-olds, she decides to reboot her career and love life as a millennial. My gosh, this is another show where the lead character is living in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. What a theme! I find this show charming and addictive. It’s beautifully cast with Debi Mazar as Liza’s best friend, Miriam Shor as her evil Devil Wears Prada-esque boss, Hilary Duff as a co-worker, and Peter Hermann as the charming, handsome and recently divorced head of the publishing house. Give it a try. It gave me many chuckles as Liza has to instantly immerse herself in social media and today’s world of smart phone addicted texters/hipsters. Her new dishy boyfriend is a tattoo artist!
Shows you may be overlooking
Loving Mercy Street on PBS Sunday nights following Downton Abbey. PBS’s first original production for Masterpiece Theatre, this Civil War drama set in a Virginia hospital is beautifully done.
War & Peace (A&E, History, Lifetime/BBC coproduction on Mondays and On Demand) is a sumptuous costume drama in 6 episodes. It stars Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), James Norton (Grantchester, Happy Valley) and Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella). It is an intersecting story of five aristocratic families who face incredible changes during Russia’s conflict with Napoleon. A big sprawling epic with magnificent cinematography reminiscent of Dr Zhivago. If you love BBC costume dramas, you may enjoy this series.
American Crime (ABC) is groundbreaking television. This season, it tells the story of a male teenager on financial aid at an exclusive private school who is raped at a house party. The series deals with issues of class, race, the education system, etc. It’s confrontational and thought provoking.
My Ongoing Addictions:
Still watching Elementary (CBS) starring a charming Jonny Lee Miller as a modern day Sherlock Holmes in NYC; Arrow (CW) returned from hiatus to continue the story of a hero’s struggle to save his city from evil forces; The Flash continues the story of a hero’s with super fast ability to save his city from evil forces; Blacklist continues with its tale of Catherine Keene’s torturous relationship with mentor/protector Reddington; Shades of Blue continues its story of policewoman Jennifer Lopez’s struggle to stay alive despite being forced by the FBI to betray her mentor played by the always intense and scary, Ray Liotta. Teen Wolf (MTV) continues its story of a band of teenagers trying to stay alive despite the constant menace of evil forces; The Expanse (SYFY) continues its post-apocalyptic story of a hardboiled detective in Space who tries to solve the mystery of a missing heiress and becomes embroiled in intrigue between warring factions.
On the comedy/public affairs front, Bill Maher (HBO) is back from hiatus; Trevor Noah (Comedy) and Stephen Colbert (CBS) continue to skewer politicians; CBS Sunday Morning soothes and comforts with wonderful human interest stories and celebrity profiles. Fareed Zakaria (CNN) featured a wonderful interview with Justin Trudeau this morning, a segment on the Zika virus, etc.
New Shows Debuting in the coming week:
Grease Live (Fox Sunday Night) stars Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Canada’s own Carly Rae Jepsen in this classic musical done before a live audience. Fox climbs aboard the NBC bandwagon (Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan Live – I’m still slightly nauseous over this one!, and The Wiz Live). This is my Must Watch of the Week. It has been updated from the 1972 stage play and is directed by Thomas Kail who helmed the unstoppable Broadway juggernaut Hamilton. Woo hoo, can’t wait!!
The People v. O.J. Simpson debuts on FX this week and stars John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J., Courney Vance as Johnnie Cochran, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark. From Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, Scream Queens, Nip/Tuck, etc). His work is never boring!
Madoff debuts on ABC Wednesday(stars Blythe Danner and Richard Dreyfuss) and tells the Bernie Madoff saga.
Sleepy Hollow returns from hiatus on Fox Friday night and continues the story of Ichabod Crane into the 20th C.
Stephen Colbert will host a special show right after next Sunday’s Superbowl on CBS.
Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to watch Grease Live!
Entertainment Weekly (naturally one of my favourite magazines) does its Oscar preview edition this week. It’s a great guide to have handy to complete your pre-Academy Award movie viewing and to keep on hand during the show so that you can keep track of the nominees and winners. Available online and in print.