The Golf Widows’ week in Naples

This has been a week of friendship and sharing laughter and tears with a group of longtime ladyfriends who joined me in Naples as our husbands celebrated their annual golf trip together. This time the guys played all around the Ft Lauderdale area for four days.

The ladies’ week revolved around food and cocktails. We had some great meals out (including brunch at our local diner Hoots, a ladies lunch at the 5th Ave tearoom Brambles and a dinner at our very fine local Indian establishment 21 Spices). We did shopping expeditions along 5th Ave and to our very own local emporiums at Anthony’s and Steinmart. We toured the Millionaires’ Row areas of Port Royal, Aqualane Shores and Gordon Dr., stopping just long enough to have a quick look at the Naples landmark 12th Street Pier. We did the boat ride at our adjacent housing development Isles of Collier Preserve as well as walking through their gorgeously decorated homes. One of our friends is a great cook and, despite being on antibiotics for a miserable sinus infection, she whipped up gourmet meals for us of pasta, pork tenderloin and some very fine steaks.

We attended a local Beach Boys tribute concert at the Naples Botanical Gardens, dined at our local Italian restaurant Brunina’s, toured Marco Is. and Goodland, and dined at the craziest, most crowded beachfront restaurant I have ever seen (March break in full swing,) Quinn’s at the Marriott. Great food, good music but madly busy with the greatest people watching ever.

As you can imagine, with so many activities (including my regular golf and fitness commitments) I have a lot of catching up to do with my tv programs.

We did watch a couple of shows together including the Fox live musical event The Passion. I was curious about this one as I have so enjoyed Grease and The Sound of Music live musicals. Unfortunately, this Easter production appeared to be for true believers only and was cheesy and tedious in the extreme. We turned it off in favour of Nashville, which we thoroughly enjoyed as we followed the stories of Rayna, Deacon, and the rest of the gang struggling to make it in the dog eats dog country music world.


We also watched Everything is Copy, a wonderfully inspiring documentary on HBO about the screenwriter/director Nora Ephron directed by her son. It was a marvellous biography about an ambitious, fiercely intelligent and accomplished woman who achieved incredible success in both the publishing world and Hollywood (she directed smash comedies like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally). This film really emphasized her bravery and ruthlessness as she never suffered fools and was very difficult to work for. She died far before her time from leukemia and she concealed her illness from all but her closest family.

On Netflix

We watched the first few episodes of Flaked with Will Arnett on Netflix. This is yet another LA set series (Venice actually) featuring an aging hipster with an alcohol problem. Not charmed by it yet and finding it hard to care about any of the characters.

I furtively watched the last couple of episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix and found it to have a great ending which sets up the series for a third season.  Very satisfying, although this time I found the endless fight scenes and their flying footwork a little less enthralling and a bit more tedious than I did with the first season.

Available On Line

I watched a very poignant episode of Comedians in Cars having Coffee with Jerry Seinfelt and Garry Shandling. As Shandling died of natural causes this week (an apparent heart attack as he waited for transportation to the hospital), this episode was very touching. The two longtime friends showed real affection for each other as they reminisced about their early days and their glory days. Shandling is very self deprecating about his poor health and general whinyness. At one point, a Jewish Kvetchiness counter is shown in the corner of the screen as he complains about a series of things. Hilarious, but a sad foreshadowing of his own death. He was a pioneer of the modern tv comedy series with his It’s  Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Saunders Show on HBO.

My usual addictions

The Americans (FX) had a powerful episode this week as much was revealed by the clueless daughter to the creepy pastor and the chickens came home to roost.

The People v. OJ Simpson (FX) went behind the scenes of the trial to look at the jury’s experience during their long ordeal.

Billions (Showtime here and Superchannel, I think, in Canada) continues the cat and mouse chase between prosecutor (Paul Giammati) and prey (Damian Lewis).

I also managed to watch Black Sails (on Starz here, Superchannel in Canada), my favourite pirate series as events reached a stirring conclusion.

Everything else is still sitting on the PVR queue, waiting to be watched, including Better Call Saul, Grimm, The Catch, The Family, Gotham, etc. In the craziness of my week, I kind of forgot to record a couple of shows I like including Underground (about the Underground Railroad on WGN) and Outsiders (produced by Paul Giammatti for WGN) about the Kentucky Ferrell clan of hillbillies trying to stop Big Coal from blowing the top off their mountain!!  Fortunately, On Demand here provided by Comcast shows programs within 24 hours of their airdate, so I will be catching up with the shows I missed.

British TV Series Alert

A friend who loves British TV series sent me a great article summarizing the shows that will make their N. American debuts shortly:

Naples Life

This will be a busy week for us as we try to get together with friends here that we are not likely to see again before we return to Florida.  We’ll be having dinner with many Foresters alumni who are spending time in Naples this winter.  We’ll be having a sunset dinner on the Naples beach with many of our neighbours here, and meeting other groups for dinner at local restaurants.  The weather here continues to be glorious and we look forward to having as many of our meals outside as we possibly can.  Hoping all our friends in the north are celebrating a wonderful Easter and enjoying the springtime (despite the occasional reports of ice storms).  See you soon as we are in our countdown phase before leaving here on April 16.  We’ll be travelling north via a trip to W. Palm Beach to visit family, St. Augustine (the oldest city in N. America), Charleston, SC (charming and scenic) and Asheville, NC (to visit the Biltmore Estate).


Netflix overflows with abundance….

We’ve had lots of company this week and I’ve been involved in lots of group activity including my regular golf commitments, mahjong, meetings re our club activities, and a farewell party for one of my lovely neighbours.  This busyness has, of course, interfered with my usual viewing activities (not to mention that darned March Madness basketball tournament which has turned my usually mild mannered husband into a crazy person who has to watch basketball every possible moment).  George is running a Basketball pool and has enlisted the participation of many of his golf buddies and friends here.  George and 7 golf buddies are leaving tomorrow for the Fort Lauderdale area where they will play 4 different golf courses.  While they are gone, I will be hosting several of the golf widows and we will be touring Naples, beach walking, and drinking festive beverages by the pool.  I have warned my neighbours to expect much giggling from our patio.

While George has been voraciously watching Basketball, I have been furtively trying to catch up with some of Netflix’s new original programming.



Marvel’s Daredevil Bingewatch Confession:  This series (Season 2) was released on Friday and I am now up to Episode 10 of 13.  Not as engaging as Season 1 when this was all new, Charlie Cox is still lovable and watchable as the blind lawyer by day who fights crime with furious fists by night.  He is ably supported by Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Elden Henson (Hunger Games), Jon Bernthal (Walking Dead), Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order), etc.  Somehow, this season is even darker than the first.  Elektra (Elodie Yung) has made an appearance as a previous lover and her storyline is very dark as she fights a mysterious Asian crime cabal.  The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) also has a very dark storyline and is responsible for much of the mayhem that occurs as he tries to solve the murders of his wife and children.  I will stay with this series until the end, but I don’t have the fondness for it that I had for Season 1 which was very fresh and different.

Flaked stars Will Arnett (Arrested Development).  I have watched 2 episodes out of 8 in this California based comedy.  Arnett plays Chip, a “recovering alcoholic” who seems to be full of insights and advice for his contemporaries, but who is still struggling with personal demons.  Not really a laugh out loud comedy as it delves in to aging hipster scene in Venice Beach, CA.  A relationship comedy.

Cuckoo stars Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) in a British comedy series about a young British girl who meets and marries an aging American hippie whom she meets while travelling in Thailand.  The fun begins when she returns home to England and introduces her to her very surprised family.  This show is very goofy and features Samberg at his most sophomoric, but I confess I do love the British characters on the show.  Very, very silly.


I almost missed And Then There were None (aired last Sunday on Lifetime miniseries from BBC and now available On Demand) which was filmed in Britain and starred Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Toby Stephens (Black Sails), Burn Gorman (Man in the High Castle), Aidan Turner (Poldark), Miranda Richardson (World without End), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Noah Taylor (Peaky Blinders), Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet), etc.  One of many remakes of the classic British film Ten Little Indians, this venerable Agatha Christie mystery features all the classic tropes of the British cozy mystery as a group of disparate characters is invited to a country house on a secluded island and one by one are murdered by an invisible predator.  If you long for Marple and Poirot, this is the series for you told in 2 two-hour episodes.

My usual addictions

Shameless (HBO Canada, Showtime) came to its season finale with a surprisingly upbeat cliffhanger ending. Guilty pleasure show.

Billions (HBO Canada, Showtime) continued its cat and mouse game between Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Intrigue and suspense abound.

Black Sails (Superchannel and Starz) is my favourite pirate show.  Toby Stephens does a great job as the menacing Capt. Flint trying to save piracy in the Caribbean.

Younger (TV Land) telling the story of a 4ish single mom who has to pretend she’s 26 to land a publishing job.  Great social satire of the millennial generation and their social media fixations.

The Walking Dead continues on AMC Sundays and follows our survivors as they fight against all odds to find refuge.

Better Call Saul continues on AMC Mondays. The prequel to Breaking Bad, it follows the escapades of Jimmy McGill as he transforms into morally challenged lawyer Saul Goodman.

The People vs OJ Simpson continues on FX Tuesdays.  The all star cast continues to impersonate OJ, Johnnie Cochrane, Robert Shapiro, Marcia Clark et al.

The Family on ABC Tuesdays follows the story of a gubernatorial candidate in New England whose son disappeared 10 years previously.  He miraculously escaped his captor and has now returned to the family – or has he?

Outsiders (Tuesdays on WGN) tells the story of a hillbilly clan who faces off with a big coal company that wants to blow the top off their mountain.

Colony (Thursdays on USA) had its season finale this week as the resistance captured an alien overlord!

You, Me and the Apocalypse (Thursdays on NBC) follows our group of comet survivors who are gathering in a bunker beneath the town of Slough, England.  An unusual comedy about the Apocalypse.

Damien (Mondays on A&E) is a continuation of the original Damien film starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick (plenty of flashback clips).  Damien is all grown up (Bradley James from Merlin) and has surfaced as a war photographer in NYC.  He’s trying to figure out who he is (the Antichrist) and why everybody wants to kill him.  I love this sort of thing, but it’s definitely not for all tastes.  Somewhat cheesy special effects.

The Political Pundits

It’s agonizing watching Trump’s campaign towards victory as the Republican Candidate.  Many Americans seem to hate Hilary with all the vitriol they used to reserve for Bill, so I can’t imagine how bitter the negative advertising campaign is going to be between the two candidates.  Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and John Oliver are my comedy saviours when it comes to any levity regarding the ominous prospect of Trump emerging as the next President.  I can’t imagine what the next 8 months of campaign coverage is going to entail.  It won’t be pretty as Trump and Clinton face off.

Naples Life

I am looking forward to my week with lady friends and I am planning on consuming many delicious meals and delightful cocktails.  We’ll be relaxing by the pool and touring the area.  I hope all our friends and family in the north are hanging in as Spring weather approaches.  For all the friends who are lucky enough to be in sunny locales, enjoy it while it lasts.  Dark skies here today and thunderstorms are approaching from the Gulf.  Into each life, some rain must fall…




Some highlights for you to keep in mind…

I’ve decided not to keep updating my usual viewing fare and instead concentrate on listing some items for you to watch when considering your regular network viewing, Netflix picks, Amazon Prime debuts, etc.

First of all, I must include a little video from my talented son David, who completed a project for CBC Music recently.  I encourage you to share it with anyone who has been delighted by the coverage Justin Trudeau received this past week on his Washington, DC visit.



I watched 45 Years the other night starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.  It’s about a married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary who receive shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.  A great character study and portrait of a long marriage.  Charlotte Rampling has one of the most enigmatic and expressive faces in cinema.  At 70 she is still a great beauty and at 79 Tom Courtenay has morphed from his youthful roles in British “kitchen sink” cinema in the 60’s to become a wonderful character actor.  The movie is sweet, slow, sad and short, more like a novella than a fully fleshed out drama that ends on a note of ambiguity.

Netflix Suggestions

I completed all 13 episodes of House of Cards Season 4. Totally enjoyable as the Underwoods are challenged in the election campaign by a much younger and very attractive husband and wife team who seem  to be awfully similar in their Machiavellian tendencies. The Underwoods also grow very close to their speechwriter. Hmmm….

Love is Judd Apatow’s latest comedy series made expressly for Netflix.  It’s a relationship show about an odd couple who seem to be polar opposites with an obvious attraction for each other.  The first episode (meet cute) may not hook you, but I suggest hanging in for another episode or two to see if you come to care for these two Los Angeles hipsters. For a very different take on this series,have a look at John Doyle’s column from the Globe (I totally disagree with his opinion and suspect he only watched episode 1):

Flaked is a Netflix original starring Will Arnett. Set in a funky California beach enclave, he plays Chip, the go-to guy for personal insights who isn’t quite as enlightened when it comes to his own baggage.

Cuckoo is a British series made for Netflix about Rachel who shocks her proper British parents when she marries an American hippie, but it’s just the first in a series of surprises for the family.  It stars Andy Samberg, Taylor Lautner and Greg Davies.

Man Up stars Simon Pegg and Lake Bell in a British film based on the premise of a single woman who seizes an opportunity when, while standing under a train station clock, she meets a stranger who mistakes her for his blind date.

Streaming On Crave/Amazon Prime

Catastrophe is a series you may not have found yet.  Possibly the funniest relationship comedy I have ever seen, it follows the romance between an Irish woman living in London and an American expat from Boston.  They have a one-night stand, she gets pregnant, he decides he wants to have a relationship with her, etc.  It’s brilliantly written and will keep you on the edge of your seat gasping to see what will happen next. Here’s John Doyle’s take on the show:

Bosch (starring Titus Welliver) returned to Amazon Prime this weekend for its second season.  He’s a hardboiled LAPD homicide detective trying to solve the murder of a 13-year-old boy while standing trial in federal court for the murder of a serial killer.

On the Networks

Younger (TVLand on Wednesdays) is my current favourite comedy.  It follows the journey of a 4oish single mom who has to pretend she’s 26 in order to land a publishing job.  Hilarious sendup of hipster millennials, social media, etc.  Sutton Foster (a huge Tony award winning star of Broadway musicals) is very lovable as the lead character, Liza Miller.

The Walking Dead continues on AMC Sundays. A surprising romance has blossomed, a new villain is on the horizon.  The suspense continues.

Better Call Saul continues on AMC Mondays.  The prequel to Breaking Bad, it follows the escapades of Jimmy McGill as he transforms into morally challenged lawyer Saul Goodman.

The People vs OJ Simpson continues on FX Tuesdays. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Paulson, Nathan Lane, David Schwimmer, John Travolta, Courtney B. Vance and many others.  This series follows the behind the scenes stories of the OJ trial. Sarah Paulson is especially heartbreaking as the very vulnerable Marcia Clark who faced endless ridicule in the press for her personal style and had to put up with nude pictures of her running in the tabloids.  You really feel empathy for this very smart hardworking woman who is treated so badly by everyone.

The Family on ABC Tuesdays takes place in a community rattled when a politician’s son, who was presumed murdered years ago, returns home.  It stars Joan Allen, Rupert Graves and Allison Pill.  Very suspenseful and mysterious!

Billions on Showtime Sundays.  The cat and mouse game between US Attorney and his quarry, hedge fund founder continues.  Stars Damien Lewis (Homeland) and Paul Giammatti (roles too numerous to mention).

Shameless on Showtime Sundays.  I loved the original British version of this show and enjoy watching Canadian actors show up in small roles in this series.  Starring the great William H. Macy, this series is about an alcoholic man who lives in a perpetual stupor while his six children cope as best they can.

Black Sails (on Starz here and Superchannel in Canada; argh, the pirate show) is about Captain Flint and his pirates, in Naussau twenty years prior to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island,” and it features movie scale music, beautiful cinematography and a wonderful performance by Toby Stephens as Flint.

American Crime (series concluded on Wednesdays on ABC, but available on demand).  This terrific series starred Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Regina King, and Lili Taylor in a story ripped from the headlines about a teenager sexually assaulted by his private school classmates and the following investigation with its significant racial and class components. The lead character, Taylor Blaine, is played by a perfectly cast Connor Jessup (Falling Skies) whose expressive face telegraphs every heartbreaking emotion that a troubled teenager can experience.

Outsiders (Tuesdays on WGN) is a great David and Goliath story about a Kentucky hillbilly clan that decides to defend their mountain from Big Coal.  It’s Deliverance meets Justified meets Sons of Anarchy.  Executive produced by none other than Paul Giammatti.

Colony (Thursdays on USA) is a great high concept story about a Los Angeles that is run by alien invaders.  Stars Josh Holloway (Lost) and Sarah Wayne calls (The Walking Dead).  It’s produced by Carlton Cuse of Lost. It’s a great mystery/suspense/sci fi show.

You, me and the Apocalypse (Thursdays on NBC) is nearing it’s conclusion.  Like nothing that’s ever been seen before on TV, it’s about a group of ordinary people who learn that an eight-mile wide comet is on a collision course with Earth.  They hunker beneath the town of Slough, England to watch the end of the world on television.  In short, it’s a comedy drama about the final days of mankind.  It stars Jenna Fischer, Rob Lowe, Megan Mullally and is definitely not for everyone, but I kind of liked its very quirky storytelling.

The Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (available on demand from HBO Documentary) is an incredibly poignant doc about a young woman in Pakistan who is sentenced to death for falling in love and who becomes a rare survivor of the country’s harsh judicial system that forgives and supports honour killings.  It won the Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject, and it will make you very angry.

The Political Pundits

Although I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the non-stop insanity of the run-up to the next US Presidential elections, I can’t stop myself from watching the political comedy shows including Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and John Oliver. Donald Trump scares and saddens me as it appears that he is saying all the things his many supporters truly believe regarding Muslims, Mexicans, etc.  He is playing from some demagogue handbook and I can only hope that some scandal or other will haunt him before the campaign is finished allowing some more reasonable candidate to take over the direction of the Republican Party.  He is a disgrace and an embarrassment and I would be very worried if he were to actually win the election and lead the US in its foreign affairs.  He admits to total admiration for Putin (extremely distressing given his predilection for having opponents murdered, etc.) and his desire to make America great (or white) again is a very sad dream for a wonderful nation.

Naples Life

Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending a farewell to Downton Abbey party where about 40 women gathered to eat and drink away their sorrows on the final episode of this wonderful program.  If you are longing for new costume dramas to sooth your grief over the departure of DA, may I recommend you catch up with the first seasons of Outlander (Starz here), and Poldark (Masterpiece Theatre on PBS) as their new seasons are due to commence soon.

I have been busy walking local beaches (Tigertail at Marco Island where you have to wade across a blue lagoon to access the beach) and birding trails at conservation areas (Eagle Lakes nearby), playing Bocci, Mahjong, golf (a great Breast Cancer tournament was held at our club this week) and generally just enjoying the wonderful weather here in southwest Florida.  Oh yes, and East Naples got its very own Steinmart department store just down the street from us.  What joy (although opening day was hilariously chaotic)!!

This week I will have the bittersweet honour of hosting a coffee party for a neighbour who is leaving Treviso Bay for the splendours of Twin Eagles in N. Naples.  I will be attending our good friends’ St. Patrick’s Day party in Estero. Last of all, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of fellow golf widows and longtime friends next weekend as our husbands gather to go off on their annual golf trip on “the other coast” and I will be entertaining the ladies in Naples for a few days.  I am planning to take them on a little alligator excursion in the Everglades, a trip to the Botanical Gardens with a concert nearby, etc.  As usual, there will be many cocktails and much laughter around the pool.  I can’t believe we are easing into our last month here.  It has flown by!  Enjoy this beautiful spring season and don’t forget to watch some terrific TV and/or movies. Oh yes, I understand there are some wonderful books out there as well!






Getting back to my schedule…

I’m going to try and keep this post short, as my main goal is to get back on track with a Sunday entry.  I wrote my last post on a weekday evening and then was way too stimulated to sleep.  So here are some of the items I meant to include in last week’s blog:

Bulletin for Canadians (and those thinking of coming as refugees if Trump wins)

Tonight on 60 Minutes (CBS at 7), Justin Trudeau will be interviewed. MSN gives a little preview  of Trudeau’s response when he was asked what Canadians don’t like about the U.S.:

Diarize for watching this Month

I loved this article by John Doyle on new arrivals to TV in the month of March:

Which was better: the book or the movie?

The Toronto Star had a great article comparing books and film adaptations:


In anticipation of tonight’s Downton Abbey farewell, and in tribute to Maggie Smith (The Dowager Countess Violet of Grantham) I watched The Lady in the Van.  Maggie Smith stars as a homeless woman who lives for 15 years in her dilapidated van in the driveway of the British playwright Alan Bennett.  Adapted from a memoir and stage play, this is based on a true story.  Smith gives a mannered performance (as usual!) in the role of her polar opposite from Downton. It’s a very sad story, but Maggie keeps the one liners coming.  If you enjoyed her one liners on Downton I’ve included a link to some of them below:

As the very last episode will air tonight, I will be attending a Downton Abbey party this evening in costume, with a calling card to be presented by a uniformed butler, and with cucumber sandwiches in hand.  We shall be gathered to give the show a proper send off.


On Netflix

I have been bingewatching (oh the shame!) as House of Cards returned for Season 4 this weekend.  We have watched the first 10 of 13 episodes.  Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are as terrifying as ever and this year they have to face off with their younger counterparts, Republican Presidential candidate Will and his wife Hannah Conway. If you are wondering where you have seen Conway before (played by Joel Kinnaman), he starred in The Killing (US version on AMC and now on Netflix) as a hip hop cop.  Unbelievably, he is Swedish!!  They are both throughly chilling so it will be fascinating to see how the Underwoods deal with them.

The Political Commercials

As I write this while watching my moment of Zen TV show (CBS Sunday Morning) I have just started to see negative advertising on Donald Trump pillorying him for his Trump University fiasco (which has resulted in ongoing class actions brought by disgruntled students) and the hiring of illegal immigrants for his various building projects.  Trump is striking back with his own advertising campaign promoting his popularity among Black voters!  Marco Rubio (the native Floridian) is also advertising madly for his campaign as we gear up for the Mar. 15 Florida primary.  Ooh, the agony continues and we have months to go before next Nov.  As the campaign gets even more heated, the political satirists (Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee and perhaps my very favourite, John Oliver) should have a field day.  There have been some amazing bits comparing Trump to Hitler and Mussolini and making great hay out of his KKK connections.  Cruz and Rubio have been trying to fight each other and Trump by being as Latino as they possibly can. Too funny!

Naples Life

We entertained some visiting family yesterday with a tour of Billionaires Row here (Gordon Dr., Aqualane Shores and Port Royal), lunch on the water (The Docks at Crayton Cove) and a boat ride down the Gordon River from The Conservancy of Naples.  Today we are off to an exhibition of fashions by Halston and Yves St Laurent at the Baker Museum of Artis Naples.  It’s another perfect day here so enjoy the weather wherever you are and don’t forget to watch Justin Trudeau tonight on 60 Minutes. He and Sophie will be visiting the White House this week and the media is actually paying attention.  Will wonders never cease?



Back from the frozen north…

I had a wonderful week back in Ontario.  Ostensibly back to visit my 97 year old mum and 92 year old mother-in-law, I also was able to reconnect with lots of friends and family.  My family took me out for a great birthday dinner, and I also had a lovely afternoon tea to celebrate my birthday with my “playgroup” gals,  a group of neighbourhood women with whom I have been “playing” since our eldest children (who are now at least 33 years old) were infants.  I also got to see my gourmet group friends at a lovely dinner, had coffee with more friends and had an amazing annual Snowshoe/Chili get-together with our Thornbury friends.  There wasn’t a speck of snow for our snowshoe adventure, so we had a walk on the course at the Georgian Bay Club on a beautiful spring-like day followed by a chili dinner at our house.

The Oscars

We got back to Naples in time to host a neighbourhood gathering to watch the Oscars.  This year I took my responsibilities seriously and during my Academy Award Countdown, I was able to watch all the nominated films (for Best Picture, anyway), so I felt like I had skin in the game.  Like everyone else, I was intrigued by how Chris Rock would handle his hosting duties in view of the “diversity” controversy.  I found him amusing, but as usual the show went on way too long. I was pleased by the number of awards Mad Max won (I thought it was a masterpiece).  I was disappointed that Brooklyn (my personal favourite) didn’t get more recognition, but I was thrilled that the smaller, intimate, more human films like Room and Bridge of Spies got the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor awards.  The Danish Girl did get Best Supporting Actress for Alicia Vikander’s luminous performance.  Carol (another favourite was also overlooked despite wonderful performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) but Spotlight was a very deserving winner for Best Picture.  I was delighted that The Revenant didn’t sweep all the honours, as it was a huge ordeal to watch and featured over the top acting from Leonardo DeCaprio.

Downton Abbey says farewell forever

I will be attending a Downton Abbey Farewell party this coming Sunday.  As I watched the final episodes in December (including the Christmas Episode), I’m a little rusty on my Downtonia, however, I get misty-eyed just thinking about Maggie Smith and the fact that I won’t get to see her roll her eyes on a regular basis.  Can’t wait for Outlander to begin its second season this spring!!  So romantic.

Currently Streaming

I managed to start watching Crimson Peak starring my favourite hot Brit actor Tom Hiddleston (Loki from the Thor movies).  It’s a ghost story, but since I was bedevilled by slow internet speed, I haven’t managed to finish it yet.  Loving the costumes and accents!

New on Netflix

I totally bingewatched the new Judd Apatow 10 episode comedy series Love this past week. It’s a little raunchy, but by episode 2 I was hooked on the relationship between the two leads.  Try it, you might like it. If you like You’re the Worst on FXX or Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, this might be the show for you.

The big news this coming week is the Season 4 return of House of Cards on Mar. 4.  You either love this series or not, but Kevin Spacey as the devilish Frank Underwood is pretty hard to resist.

Debuting on the Networks this week

The Family looks intriguing.  It debuts on ABC this 9 before moving to its regular time slot on Sundays. Starring Joan Allen, it is about an ambitious politician whose son returns after being kidnapped 10 years previously.

Trying to catch up with my usual fare

I am finding American Crime (ABC on Wed.) incredibly touching.  Its story of a rape at a private school has now evolved into a school shooting story (OK, I know that’s a bit of a spoiler, but it’s high time more people watched this show).  Great performances by Felicity Huffman, Tim Hutton, Regina King, et al.

The Walking Dead (AMC on Sun.) has taken a fascinating turn.  Our survivors now find themselves defending another bunch of survivors in return for food and supplies.  So interesting!  Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Good Wife‘s investigator) is about to make his debut as arch villain Negan.  Pray for Glenn!!

Gotham (Fox on Mon.) returned with a somewhat compromised Jim Gordon who has finally lost his innocence.  I love this show.  It’s about the beginnings of Batman when he was a young boy.

Younger (TVLand here) is in its second season.  It tells the very amusing story of a 4ish single mom who must pass herself off as a 26 year old hipster in order to get a job in publishing.  She also lands herself a dishy 26 year old tattoo artist boyfriend.  You have to root for Sutton Foster as the very likeable lead character Liza. Debi Mazar, Hilary Duff and Miriam Shor are terrific in supporting roles.

Outsiders (WGN here) and Colony (USA here) continue to intrigue me.  Outsiders is Justified meets Sons of Anarchy with crazed hillbillies in Kentucky going up against an evil coal company that wants to destroy their mountain; Colony tells the story of life in Los Angeles after an alien invasion.  Fascinating in a similar way to The Man in the High Castle as it shows an alternate universe imagining of what LA would be like if surrounded by a huge wall.

Girls and Togetherness (two great relationship comedies) have returned to HBO.  I’ve been trying to keep up with my usual shows like People vs OJ Simpson (on FX), Shannara Chronicles and Teen Wolf (on MTV) but am finding it tough. I still have a soft spot for the young people fighting to survive on a hostile Earth on The 100 (on the CW). I have totally enjoyed Billions and Shameless (both on Showtime here) and the pirate show Black Sails (Starz here). Suits (USA on Wed)  has begun to seem repetitious to me after 6 seasons.  Blacklist (on NBC Thurs.) and Scandal (on ABC Thurs.) are endlessly silly, and the procedural formats of Chicago Fire and Chicago Medical (both on NBC Tues.) have begun to feel tedious and predictable despite the hunky firemen and doctors.  Blindspot returns to NBC this week (Thurs at 9). I still enjoy the monster of the week format of Grimm (on NBC Fri.) and have to confess that I won’t really mourn the end of The X Files limited series of 6 episodes.  Mercy Street (on PBS after Downton on Sundays) had really grown on me and I hope the series will continue next year after its 6 episode first season. One show I have tried to keep up with is the new NBC Thurs. series You, Me and the Apocalypse.  It’s quirky and original and has a great cast (Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer, Megan Mulally) but I keep forgetting to watch it amidst all the stuff I try to keep up with.  I must say that the On Demand features of our local cable system (Comcast) are much more sophisticated than that of Rogers in Ontario. Every show that airs is available within 24 hours on demand, so it’s actually much easier to catch up here with shows I have forgotten to record on my PVR.  I know my millennial children will be chortling at this as they haven’t ever subscribed to cable and watch all tv online.  My reliance on dinosaur technology amazes them.

The shows that keep me sane

They would have to include the political satire series: Trevor Noah on The Daily Show (on Comedy Central Mon-Thurs at 11); Stephen Colbert on The Late Show (on CBS Mon-Fri at 11:30); Samantha Bee on Full Frontal (on TBS Mon at 10:30); John Oliver on Last Week Tonight (on HBO Sunday at 11 pm); Bill Maher on Real Time with Bill Maher (on HBO Fri at 10 pm).

I have a soft spot for two family comedies on ABC on Wed. The Middle and Modern Family.  They aren’t as fresh as they were in their earlier episodes, but they still make me chuckle.

My very favourite soul restoring show every Sunday is CBS Sunday Morning (CBS Sun at 9 am) with its human interest stories, cultural segments, and celebrity profiles.  Truly, my moment of Zen.

Seriously, this whole political nightmare (also known as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign) is overwhelmingly prevalent in the media here.  As I write this, the Super Tuesday results are showing that Trump is absolutely killing it.  He can do no wrong (even when it comes to his delayed and mealymouthed rejection of endorsement by the KKK). This arrogant bully seems to be headed for the White House regardless of the insanity that pours out of his mouth.  OMG! He will have the nuclear codes!!!

The other things I do here to keep sane include golfing with a great bunch of ladies, playing Mahjong with a lovely group, attending fitness classes, attending a book group, and playing Bocci ball. It has turned out to be great fun.  This week we are hosting a few Canadian visitors and will be back on the Naples touring circuit.  Until next week, stay warm my northern friends, and everyone else, get out and enjoy the amazing weather. Oh yeah, and totally optional, you might like to take in an Oscar winning film or catch up with some great TV.  Only two weeks to go before we turn the clocks forward and those longer days begin!