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.
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.
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 Thurs.at 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!