Correction!

I had an awfully difficult time putting my travel photos into my blog yesterday, so didn’t really notice that my Outlander comments got skipped and my Nashville comments were mysteriously eluded into my Outlander summary, so here goes:

 

Outlander (on Showcase) is romantic and breathtaking. It sweeps you off into another time. Nashville (on ABC) is hopelessly corny and soapy, with cliffhangers at every commercial break.

George suggests I give you 3 top recommendations:

Outlander

The Americans

Game of Thrones

These three shows (plus my British PBS faves), should put to rest the notion that there is never anything good to watch on TV.

The Long Road home and Catching up with the important stuff…

 

It was a long and winding road home from Florida this past week. We started our trip home with a visit with my cousin Barbara in W. Palm Beach and then an overnight visit in St. Augustine, FL. St. Augustine (the oldest city in N. America), although situated on a beautiful part of the Atlantic coastline, is quite possibly the tackiest tourist trap I’ve ever visited. The streets are clogged with tour buses and trolleys, most of them ferrying passengers to places like wax museums and Ripley’s Believe it or not, the haunted jailhouse, the haunted cemetery, the haunted distillery, and last but not least the haunted Fountain of Youth. Needless to say there are also nightly ghost tours. Had a great dinner at Colombia, a Spanish themed restaurant.

The next leg of the journey was a beautiful drive up the coast to Jacksonville. Gorgeous scenery all the way.

IMG_0640

We travelled to Charleston, SC and spent two nights there with two fabulous dinners in this foody town and a whole day at the Magnolia Plantation.

Our last travel day included an overnight stay in Ashville, NC, home of the Biltmore Estate built by the Vanderbilt family. A beautiful stately home with magnificent grounds and gardens.

Since coming home we’ve managed to catch our breath and I’ve caught up with a few tv shows and movies.

On Demand

I absolutely loved Dope (also available on Netflix).   This is a movie about black teenagers in LA who accidentally get caught up with the drug trade. Funny and touching with wonderful performances

Beeba Boys is a fast moving look at the Sikh controlled drug trade in Vancouver. It was directed by Deepa Mehta in a very uncharacteristic style for her.  It is incredibly violent as it deals with gang warfare in Vancouver and is fast paced and full of adrenalin.  This is the same director who is known for her lyrical and elegant style in films like Fire, Water and Air.

Brit shows

I’ve been catching up with lots of soothing British shows on PBS like Father Brown, Doc Martin, Grantchester, Call the Midwife, etc.

Other shows I’m following

Sunday night was the HBO season premiere of Game of Thrones (which sped by astonishingly quickly), and the very funny sitcoms Veep and Silicon Valley. Outlander (on ABC) has gotten alarmingly soapy and dopey. Blacklist (on NBC) has gone completely loopy. Gotham (on FOX) is dark and stormy. Chicago Fire (on NBC) features dishy firemen who are so energetic they are also city councillors on the side. The Path (on Showcase) is a dark examination of a Scientology-like cult. Better Call Saul (on FX) is incredibly touching as it explores Jimmy’s troubled relationships and his magnetic attraction to the dark side. The Americans (on FX) highlighted poor Martha (played by Alison Wright), who has been the focus of attention by her FBI superiors. The actress playing tragically doomed Martha also popped up as the wife of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in Confirmation (on HBO), where she also seemed tragically doomed.

Time to watch counter programming…

This past week, as our time has wound down here in Naples, we’ve relaxed by bingeing on The Night Manager this week. A BBC/AMC coproduction, this 6 hour miniseries based on a John LeCarre novel starring Tom Hiddleston as an MI6 operative was incredibly enjoyable. Hiddleston was suave and debonair in a role that had definite overtones of Bond. Hugh Laurie was a despicable international arms dealer being hunted by a branch of MI6. The series will debut on AMC next week. Watch for the racy scene for which Hiddleston has been affectionately dubbed Hiddlesbum. Also watch his mad dance moves on YouTube:

Passion Alert

My god, Outlander returns this Sunday on Showcase (I’ll be streaming it here in the US where it airs on STARZ). This most romantic of all tv series, defies genre description as it’s a tale of time travel, passionate love and history all bound up in one glorious narrative. It will literally carry you away to another time and place. Here’s John Doyle’s Globe article on Outlander:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-outlander-is-carried-on-the-shoulders-of-a-strong-woman/article29541017/

In addition we’ve been able to stream the first few episodes of The Path starring Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy, Michelle Monaghan in a film about followers of a religious cult with more than a passing resemblance to Scientology. This 10 hour miniseries was made for Hulu and is airing on Showcase in Canada .

Netflix

This will be my weekend to catch up with the new season of Happy Valley the British crime series with Sarah Lancashire set in a bucolic English village with a serious crime problem caused mainly by a character played by James Norton who is the star of Gratchester (more below). Here’s John Doyle’s article on Happy Valley:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-into-happy-valley-again-a-grim-entertaining-drama/article29260681/

This may be the weekend when I catch up with Velvet, a Spanish TV series on Netflix that’s been intriguing me and is the subject of a very favourable review in the NY Post:

http://nypost.com/2016/04/06/the-best-netflix-show-you-arent-watching-yet/

PBS Comfort Food

Don’t forget to watch PBS’s two warm and fuzzy Sunday night offerings, Call the Midwife followed by Grantchester. Both tell great stories. Call the Midwife tells stories of the poor East Londoners in the early sixties being cared for by an order of Anglican nursing nuns and midwives. Grantchester is a cozy British crime series about a dishy vicar (played by James Norton, the serial killer star of Happy Valley above) with a knack for solving crimes in a 1950’s bucolic British village. He also is overly fond of whisky, is carrying a torch for his first love who has married someone else, and he seems to be suffering from PTSD as a result of his war service.

WGN has two great series on right now. Outsiders (Sons of Anarchy meets Justified meets Deliverance and produced by Paul Giamatti) is heading towards its season finale as Asa tries to wrest leadership of the clan away from Pherell. Underground continues its harrowing tale of slaves and abolitionists headed for freedom in the north.

Billions (on Showtime in the US and on Crave in Canada) is concluding shortly and its two protagonists, played by Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, are still circling each other as a powerful US Attorney pursues his quarry, a billionaire hedge fund runner whom he is convinced is mired in insider trading and other nefarious practices.

While George is glued to the Masters Golf Tournament this weekend, I will have an opportunity to catch up on books I’ve been trying to finish (the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan series, The Psychopath Test by Jon  Ronson), and movies I’ve been meaning to watch on Netflix, etc. I will continue the packing process, this time leaving behind a Florida wardrobe for next winter. We’re having a last dinner out on 5th Ave on Saturday night, golfing with some neighbours on Sunday , having sunset cocktails and appetizers on the beach tonight and last night attended the sneak preview opening of our grand new clubhouse at our golf club with a cast of thousands of our fellow residents. I think I’ve played our last game of Mahjong as our little group disbands and heads back north. Today was our last Florida book group until next November (we read The Headmaster’s Wife (by Thomas Christopher Greene).  My last Friday golf game is taking place tomorrow as next Friday will likely be taken up with packing, fridge clearing, etc.  Sigh…. it’s been a great winter, but next weekend we will take to the road and head north.

Things I keep forgetting to write about…

As I head into my last two weeks here in Naples, I am watching TV very distractedly and keep forgetting to mention shows I really like.

Last night was the series premiere of Banshee on Cinemax here (HBO Canada).  As I don’t subscribe to the specialty station, I shall have to find the series online.  Pure mayhem as a career criminal impersonates a town sheriff in a small crime infested town in Amish country Pennsylvania.

The Americans (FX) is better than ever and John Doyle has a great article in the Globe:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-why-the-americans-is-brilliant-but-unloved/article29335157/

Tom Hiddleston Alert

The Night Manager is coming to AMC starring Tom Hiddleston (possibly the new James Bond).  Hiddleston is now known as Hiddlesbum for a racy scene in this new suspense miniseries.  Daily Beast has a great article on the campaign to recruit the next Bond:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/02/inside-the-campaign-to-be-the-next-james-bond.html?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

I just caught the season finale of Black Sails.  This stirring pirate yarn tells the story of the pirate wars to conquer Nassau.  Long John Silver comes into being as a human who takes on mythic dimensions in this prequel to Treasure Island.

The People vs OJ Simpson (FX) is carried by Sarah Paulson who gives a heartbreaking and vulnerable performance as the very fragile Marcia Clarke, a woman under siege as she helms the prosecution’s case against OJ.

Canadian Justice System

Speaking of women under siege, I just watched last week’s Fifth Estate (CBC) on the Ghomeshi trial.  While I would be the first person to hire Marie Henein to defend me should I be charged with a crime, I couldn’t help but feel very sorry for the three complainants in the case who were completely unaware that their past actions of trying to make nice with Ghomeshi post assault would come back to haunt them and cause their testimony to be disbelieved by the Judge in the case.  I can hardly wait for the June trial on further charges of sexual assault against a CBC employee.  Perhaps the next trial will have a less tragic outcome for the complainant.  Hopefully, the prosecution will now have a clue as to other aspects of the complainant’s history that they should discover before the trial takes place.

I am still enjoying every suspenseful minute of The Walking Dead as each episode ends with a cliffhanger as we head toward the finale.  Beware the Walking Dead  (the prequel) continues its first season this Sunday night.

US Politics

I am currently watching The Fire Breather: The Rise and Rage of Donald Trump (CBC The Fifth Estate).  This reality game show host is actually gaining in the polls even though he consistently makes missteps as the article below from Salon recaps.

http://www.salon.com/2016/04/01/donald_trump_truthers_theories_spread_hes_trying_to_sabotage_campaign_after_his_disastrous_week_from_hell/?source=newsletter

 

Stephen Colbert had a great interview with cartoon Donald Trump the other night:

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/watch-stephen-colbert-welcome-cartoon-trump-to-late-show-20160331

Netflix

We watched the first few episodes of The Ranch, a Netflix original, starring Sam Elliott, Ashton Kutcher, and Debra Winger as a prodigal son returns home.  Very distressing and distracting laugh track that only emphasizes how unfunny much of this show is.  It could have been so much better and does have some very poignant moments between riotous outbursts on the laugh track.

Some of my favourites

I am inexplicably addicted to The 100 (the CW).  These post-apocalyptic struggles of humans on Earth fascinate me as warring factions fight for survival.  I just watched an odd new show on Syfy called Wynonna Earp about a modern day female descendant of the famous lawman who fights demons in current day.

Grantchester  has returned to PBS Masterpiece Mystery on Sunday nights.  He’s a dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes in post WW2 Britain.

Call the Midwife is returning to PBS Sunday nights at 8 pm.  This series, now available on Netflix, is wonderfully touching as it evokes the atmosphere of late 50’s early 60’s east end London as the midwives minister to the poor.

You, Me and the Apocalypse is hurtling towards its end as an asteroid hurtles towards earth and the Apocalypse.  Perhaps the oddest show on TV as a disparate group of characters are drawn together to face their end in a bunker. It’s a comedy, sort of.

Billions (Showtime) seems to have reached its end with the mouse outwitting the cat.  Damian Lewis had a plan in place to hoodwink Paul Giamatti, I believe.  Not entirely sure, as this show’s machinations in the financial world are awfully complicated!

Better Call Saul (AMC) continues to amaze with its multilayered storytelling that fills in the blanks for Saul and Mike of Breaking Bad with where these characters came from.

Underground (WGN) is harrowing and poignant as it depicts the struggles of slaves and abolitionists to establish a pathway to freedom.

Outsiders (WGN) is a mash-up of Sons of Anarchy, Justified and Deliverance as a hillbilly clan in Kentucky fights for its survival against a big coal company that wants to blow the top off their mountain.  This show is full of intrigue and you can’t help rooting for the feral  Pherrell clan.

Empire returned this week and the insanity continues.

Nashville returned last week and those kids sure are growing up fast. Deacon and Rayna have their hands full,  poor Luke is having a terrible time, Will is having a terrible time, Avery is having a terrible time, and Juliette is returning this week!

Naples Life

Sadly we’ve already said goodbye to many friends, neighbours, mahjong partners, golf buddies, etc. who’ve already headed north.  Tomorrow I will do one of my last beach walks.  We finally had the nerve to wander into a neighbourhood Mexican restaurant that seemed exceptionally seedy only to find that it had the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.  We celebrated one of our last sunset cocktails and dinner on the beach last week. I’ve been getting the house ready for its long dormant period and trying to minimize the potential for mold and mildew. We’ll be putting the garden to bed and replanting our outside potted plants in the ground so that our pots do not become projectiles in the event of high winds and thunderstorms. My last few golf games and mahjong sessions have been scheduled.  Although we’re eager to see family and friends again, it will be very hard to leave our place here in Naples.  It’s been a wonderful winter and we have loved our time here. For those of you dealing with the Polar Vortex in the northeast, hang in there.  Spring is just around the corner.