Oh my gosh, I can’t keep up…

The new shows just keep coming and I’m having a hard time keeping up, but I’ll do my best!

On Stage:

We were very lucky to get tickets for Rufus Wainwright’s Judy Garland Tribute show at the recently renovated (partially, anyhow) Hearn Power Station in the Cherry Beach district of Toronto.  The venue is funky and derelict, but somehow, that only adds to its charm.  I had never seen Wainwright perform live before and I really enjoyed him.  He has a beautiful voice and a delightful patter.  He gives new vibrancy to the word “insouciant”.  He’s very cheeky and I’m a bit sad that I have become a fan just when he and his partner are leaving Toronto.  The orchestra performing with him was fabulous and despite the lack of proper sound insulation the sound was pretty good for a cavernous abandoned power station.

Streaming:

I finally caught up with I Saw the Light, the Hank Williams biopic starring Tom Hiddleston.  Hiddleston gives an amazing performance for a Brit impersonating a midcentury country and western icon. His Southern accent was impeccable.  The film is a bit sad and dreary as it is basically a story of self-destruction as we watch Williams drink, smoke and take illegal prescription medication for a long undiagnosed congenital back problem.  Startlingly, Williams died of heart failure at 29 having penned 35 number one Billboard hits without the benefit of reading music.  Watch it for Hiddleston’s magnetic performance.

Bravo:

I am loving Animal Kingdom on Tuesday nights at 10.  This week is the Season 3 premiere  on of Murder in the First for those who love police procedurals.

Showcase:

Outlander is hurtling towards Culloden in its romantic and mystical way.

PBS:

Father Brown, Vera and The Tunnel all offer mystery lovers great intrigue.  The Tunnel is the latest French/British coproduction to adapt the original Danish/Swedish The Bridge mystery to a new setting.  I am loving it as I find it fascinating to see the cultural shifts from on country to another. Masterpiece Mystery also is treating us to the early Inspector Morse chronicles with Endeavour which tells the story of the young Endeavour Morse.

CBS:

Brain Dead continues to amuse on Monday nights.  From the creators of The Good Wife, it wickedly hypothesizes what might happen if extraterrestrial bugs infested the brains of Washington politicians.  Very black humour.

American Gothic started last week on CBS Wednesday nights.  It’s great fun as a wealthy Boston family becomes aware that someone in their midst may be a serial killer.  John Doyle writes about it:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-heres-a-recommended-dose-of-summer-trash-tv/article30540170/

CBC:

Follow the Money airs on Saturday nights.  It’s a Danish series about a very crooked energy company called Energreen. It is strangely reminiscent (to me anyhow) of Mr. Robot as it is about the efforts to expose a very corrupt company’s illegal business practices.

AMC:

Preacher (Sunday nights) , Hell on Wheels and The American West (both on Saturday nights) are all great offerings from AMC.

HBO:

Game of Thrones (season finale tonight), Vice,  Penny Dreadful (which had its series finale last week but is still available on demand), Veep (season finale tonight), and Silicon Valley (season finale tonight) are all worth watching.  Ray Donovan returns tonight for its Season 4 debut and I anticipate more mayhem amid all the Hollywood fixing.  Outcast continues to be very dark indeed with its tale of demonic possession.

My moments of sanity:

 

CBS Sunday Morning continues to enchant every Sunday morning.
Fareed Zakaria GPS attempted valiantly this morning to deal with the madness of Brexit.  At last a distraction from the madness of Trump.
On the humour side of the coin, I look forward to Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal on Comedy on Mondays at 10:30;  Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show on Comedy M-Th at 11:00; John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO Sundays at 11ish (tonight at 11:30); Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show on CBS Mon-Fri at 11:35.

It’s going to be a busy week as I travel back and forth more frequently than usual between TO and Thornbury for various appointments and parties.  It will be tough keeping up with my shows, but I’ll give it my best shot.  In the meantime, the weather continues to be hot, hot, hot.  Fingers crossed that we get some much needed rain as things are beginning to look rather brown these days.

 

The avalanche of summer series begins in earnest…

OK, now I can barely keep up with all the new shows that are starting to make their appearance!  Here is my summary of shows to watch for and some recent finds I have discovered.

At the movies:

Me Before You is a touching love story about a young woman who is hired to be a companion to a man who has been paralysed in a road accident.  Take lots of tissues as it’s incredibly moving as we see the two total opposites begin to care for each other.  The film is particularly timely as it deals with the right to die with dignity and Canada has just now passed legislation permitting assisted suicide for the gravely ill. The film manages to be funny and inspiring despite the inherent sadness of its story.  Game of Thrones watchers will love the performance by a very brunette Emilia Clarke (the very blonde Daenerys on GOT) as the lead character Lou.  The great cast is rounded out by Sam Claflin (Hunger Games), Janet McTeer and Charles Dance (also Game of Thrones).

Netflix:

By sheer coincidence, I am observing Pride Month, by writing about a few Netflix films and series that explore gay themes. (I’m also attending the Rufus Wainwright Luminato Judy Garland tribute concert later this week).

Tab Hunter Confidential  is a wonderful documentary about the 1950’s studio created heartthrob who was outed by Confidential magazine and whose film career never recovered.  Although hitherto fiercely private about his personal life, he emerges in this film as a fully realized human being with an indomitable spirit.  He also appears to be ageless as he was a very youthful 83 year old when this film was made in 2015.

Interior: Leather Bar is a docufiction film directed by James Franco.  It explores the process of making a film about the sexually explicit deleted scenes of the 1980 film Cruising by William Friedkin. It uses the idea of recreating the lost footage as a plot point to explore the process of making such a film, depicting issues such as the actors’ level of comfort or discomfort with the material, the conflict between creative freedom and censorship, and the ways in which the cinematic representation of LGBT issues and people has evolved since Cruising was originally released in 1980.

Orange is the new black has returned to Netflix for its fourth season.  This is a series you either love or hate depending on whether its premise engages you.  It is the story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money to her drug-dealing girlfriend.  Featuring a very diverse cast, this series shows mainstream audiences a view of America’s female prison underclass as it shows the backstories and struggles of its characters.  Alternatively funny and tragic, it manages to make these women’s stories very relatable.

Shomi On demand:

Playing House originally aired on USA Network in 2014.  It tells the story of two lifelong friends who decide to raise a baby together after one of them discovers that her husband is having an online affair with a muscular German woman.  These two best friends face the challenges of their past, present and future together.  Delightful and surprising,  I found it to be a great exploration of friendship.

 

Streaming Online:

Created for Hulu, Casual is a comedy series about a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living under one roof again.  Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter.  I love this series’ look at dating and parenting.  Very original characters and storylines.

 

Bravo:

Animal Kingdom was created for TNT.  It is an American series adapted from the Australian film of the same name (which incidentally introduced Aussie actor Ben Mendelson of Bloodline to American audiences in his breakout role as Pope).  This series centers on 17-year-old Josh Cody, who moves in with his freewheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town after his mother dies of a heroin overdose.  It is reminiscent of Bloodline in its depiction of a troubled family with very dark secrets. The cast is led by Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman and Shawn Hatosy. It explores a world of crime, drugs, unfettered sexuality and California dreaming.  Probably a little raw for most.

Guilt was created for Freeform (formerly ABC Family).  It’s loosely inspired by the real-life Amanda Knox case of an American student abroad accused of murder. It’s had lukewarm reviews but it does star an always interesting Billy Zane as the defence lawyer, so I will have to record it and watch it in a free moment.

 

PBS:

Father Brown and Vera are two wonderful British crime series that air on our local PBS affiliate on Saturday evenings.  They are the tv equivalent of comfort food for me.

The Tunnel is the latest tv adaptation of The Bridge. A British-French coproduction set primarily in Folkestone and Calais where detectives Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dilane) and Elise Wasserman (Clemence Poesy) are called to investigate the death of a French politician.  When a shocking discovery is made at the crime scene, the pair is forced into an uneasy partnership as they seek out a politically-motivated serial killer who draws them into his own personal agenda. Here’s what John Doyle has to say about this series in the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-clever-brit-drama-the-tunnel-is-an-excellent-summer-diversion/article30502722/

Masterpiece Endeavour is set in the 1960’s and follows a young Endeavour Morse in his early years as a police constable.  Working alongside his senior partner Dt Fred Thursday, Morse engages in a number of investigations around Oxford.

 

HBO:

OK, the list is getting pretty long of the HBO programs I am following.  What can I say?  They include two comedy/current affairs shows:

Real Time with Bill Maher and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  I am addicted to both these programs.  Maher puts together fascinating panels with differing views and Oliver gives very insightful analyses of major issues affecting the world. Both shows manage to amuse and inform.  Vice is another current affairs show that sometimes enrages as it tackles incredibly difficult subjects all around the world.

Game of Thrones has only 2 episodes to go in its sixth season.  Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow are headed for the showdown of the season in “Battle of the Bastards”.  Who will live?  Who will die?  Who will win the battle?  Which characters will succeed or fail in their various quests for revenge, love, freedom, and power?  All I can say, is that I hope it will involve dragons.  Bring on the dragons!!

Outcast is a new series that explores the theme of demonic possession.  Probably not for everyone, but I love this sort of thing.

Penny Dreadful is a Sunday night staple for me.  Does it get any better than a show that features vampires, werewolves, demons, Frankenstein and his monster, Jekyll and Hyde, Dorian Grey and various monster hunters?  I guess I watched those Abbot and Costello monster movies a little too much as a child.

Veep, Silicon Valley, and Sensitive Skin are all great little comedies that also air on Sunday nights.

 

AMC:

Preacher follows the story of a preacher who enlists the help of a vampire to find God after a supernatural event at his church.  Hyper violent and fast paced.  Based on a comic book series by the creator of The Walking Dead, this series sometimes borders on being incomprehensible, but I am still watching it to see where it goes.

Hell on Wheels is a western that tells the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad through the adventures of Cullen Bohannon, a former soldier and slaveholder. I love the raw romanticism of this series, which I believe is now in its fifth and last season.  Anton Mount is very watchable as the daring Bohannon.

The American West is produced by Robert Redford.  It’s an 8-part docudrama that depicts the wilderness, frontier lawlessness, and bloodshed of the 40 years between the end of the American Civil War and and after the turn of the 20th Century, when the west was won.  From Jesse James and Crazy Horse, to Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill, the characters at the centre of this violent, blood-soaked period in American history are explored as each episode follows the stories and struggles of the West’s most infamous outlaws as they fight for their land and identity.  Loving it!!

 

CBS:

Brain Dead stars emerging star Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Tveit and Tony Shalhoub in a comedy from the makers of The Good Wife.  A government employee discovers that the cause of the tensions between the two political parties is a race of extraterrestrial insects eating the brains of the politicians.  Very funny.
American Gothic starts this week on Wednesday night. It centres on a prominent Boston family reeling in the wake of the chilling discovery that someone in their midst is linked to an infamous string of murders.  As shocking secrets from the past and present are revealed, their mounting suspicion and paranoia that one of them is a killer threatens to tear the family apart.  It stars Justin Chitin (Shameless) and my beloved Antony Starr (Aussie hunk from Banshee).

CBC:

Follow the Money is a 10 episode Nordic Noir from Denmark.  A mystery series about the wind energy company Evergreen, where we are following a policeman working on a case where he is trying to figure out what is going on inside the dirty dealings of Evergreen.  A woman who works for Evergreen’s legal department stumbles upon a secret that can change everything… Conspiracy ensues…  Apparently it takes three episodes to become really engaged with this series, so be patient.

 

TVO:

Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds – A Tale of Three Cities (Vienna, Paris, New York).  If you missed this series, it’s available on TVO.org.  A wonderful depiction of three different eras in three different cities. Originally created for BBC4 and narrated by Dr. James Fox it tells the story of three cities in three exceptional years, cities whose artists and thinkers, writers and musicians set the world on a new course.

 

Today’s Viewing:

CBS Sunday Morning is usually on as I write this blog, but today I’m recording it to savour for another time and am actually writing to a Bill Evans soft jazz piano background in an effort to see whether I can write faster if visually undistracted.  My computer unexpectedly updated itself this morning (taking at least an hour to do so), so I have been frantically writing before company arrives.

Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN today features interviews with Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg, Russia. Feared, revered, and always outspoken, he will talk about Syria and Russian/US relations.  Hmmm… he’s pretty scary.  No wonder he admires Trump so much.

In closing, may I say, it’s been a glorious week.  I got out to see an actual movie, I played golf 4 days in a row, I actually won a mahjong game and I got to go to a local fish fry at a neighbourhood church followed by a campfire in my neighbours’ beautiful back yard last night.  This week coming up is full of family celebrations as we celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary, our son’s David’s birthday and, of course, today is Father’s Day.  So celebrate in your own fashion, but by all means, get out and enjoy this particularly fine weather we are so lucky to have.

Summer series are coming….

I’m excitedly awaiting the return of some favourite series, and the debuts of some new ones.  Here are some of my thoughts and reactions to these shows, as well as a few recommendations from the big screen, streaming and Netflix.

At the Movies

Hello, My name is Doris is a sweet little film I finally caught up with at my local repertory cinema, The Kingsway.  Starring Sally Field and Max Greenfield (New Girl), it is about a sixty-something woman who is inspired by a self-help seminar to pursue her younger co-worker.  Kind of a Harold and Maude for the millennials. Sally Field is absolutely charming as Doris.

Streaming

Hail Caesar is an affectionate tribute to 1950’s Biblical epics, Gene Kelly musicals, Esther Williams swimming extravaganzas and every hard boiled noir film ever made.  It has an all star cast that includes Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, etc.  It features a young actor named Alden Ehrenreich (a Francis Ford Coppola discovery soon to play Han Solo, and he will star in 3 major films in the next year) who is absolutely endearing as a singing cowboy who is forced to star in a drawing room comedy directed hilariously by Ralph Fiennes who is channeling George Cukor.  His elocution lessons with the cowboy star are uproarious.

If you love unabashedly patriotic American action/war films, then 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, is the film for you.  During an attack on a US compound in Libya, a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.  It stars John Krasinski (The Office), Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black), James Badge Dale (The Pacific, Rubicon), Max Martini (Captain Phillips, Revenge), and David Costabile (a great character actor who has played more than his fair share of failed CIA station chiefs and shady characters). This film is very reminiscent of Black Hawk Down, another film where elite US soldiers fight for their lives in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily armed militia in a part of the world where they don’t belong.

On a much lighter note, I watched 5 episodes of The Indian Doctor (a 2010 daytime British soap opera highly recommended by an Anglophile friend) and found it to be sweet but a little plodding and melodramatic.  Exactly how soaps are supposed to be!!  (alas, poor Nashville, how I will lament your passing, however, you have apparently been rescued by CMT).

Netflix

I finished watching Bloodline Season 2.  So dark and noir as all the characters descend into a downward spiral as the son of Danny Rayburn (the black sheep of Season 1) comes home to meet the Rayburns. Played by Owen Teague, the casting of Nolan Rayburn is masterful as he appears to be the second coming of his father Danny (played by Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn in several flashbacks).  It ends with a cliffhanger, so hang on for Season 3.

London Spy has already aired on BBC Canada, but it is now available on Netflix for those of you who missed it.  It’s a very demanding look at espionage and requires absolute concentration, but it rewards with its star turns by Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and the still alluring Charlotte Rampling.  John Doyle loved this series:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-acclaimed-british-drama-london-spy-is-like-no-other/article30349471/

 

Current Affairs

As I usually leave this category until the end of the blog where it truly is an afterthought, I decided to give it a little more profile today.  I watched an episode of The Passionate Eye called President Trump: Can He Really Win? (now available on CBC.ca).  This British doc is more terrifying than any horror film.  I am desperately sad about the prospect of a Trump presidency, so watch at your own risk.  It is impossible to look away from this developing debacle. Vice (on HBO) is worth honourable mention in this category as it deals with incredibly tough topics, e.g. The Heroin Crisis in the US, The Nuclear Arms Arsenal of the US, The Flint water crisis, The Rise of ISIS in Libya, etc. The reporting is fearless as the Vice staff put themselves in incredibly dangerous situations in order to get their stories.

CBS Sunday Morning (which I watch religiously every Sunday morning as I write this blog) is always my moment of Zen.  This morning’s show has dealt with the history of shark attacks, Hamilton the Broadway hit, Sean Hayes (Will and Grace), Great Sand Dunes National Park, interracial marriage, James Corden brings “Carpool Karaoke” to Broadway with The Tony Awards, etc.  It’s a show that saves my soul and my sanity with its gentle examination of news events, popular culture, history, the arts, etc.

Lifetime/Showcase

Both networks are showing Season 2 of Unreal, the Peabody award winning dramedy series that takes a behind the scenes look at the making of a fictional reality show loosely based on The Bachelor.  Full disclosure:  I watch almost no reality programming (OK, I confess to watching So you think you can dance, but only for the final episodes, never for the introductory casting episodes of the show where delusional people audition with very poor dancing skills). Unreal is raw, cynical and boldly sexual.  It shows how these shows manipulate everyone involved in their production and how this supposed “reality” is totally written, cast, and produced by an unscrupulous production team that will stop at nothing in its drive for ratings.

BBC Canada

13 is a very dark British mystery series which tells the story of Ivy Moxam who escapes her kidnapper after 13 years of being held captive.  Piecing back together the version of family life that existed before is no easy task.  This series is very similar to The Family (starring Joan Allan) that aired on ABC earlier this year. Both series look at the possibility that the returned child may not be who they say they are.

AMC

This network is running two new original series.  The Preacher is a wild and crazy look at a preacher with supernatural powers; Feed the Beast is a contemporary hipster look at two old friends’ attempt to open a gourmet restaurant in the Bronx  and is starring David Schwimmer and Tom Sturgess.  John Doyle was underwhelmed by the debut episode:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-foodie-drama-feed-the-beast-is-all-sizzle-and-no-steak/article30261161/

Hell on Wheels has returned to AMC on Saturday nights. This thrilling adventure series follows the story of Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier and slaveholder, who follows the track of a band of Union soldiers, the killers of his wife.  This brings him to the middle of one of the biggest projects in US history, the building of the transcontinental railroad.  This season opens with his confrontation with his series long nemesis, Thor Gundersen, who has decided to wreak revenge on Bohannon’s new homesteading family.

The American West follows Hell on Wheels and is a look at the real history of the American West.  I have recorded the first episode, but haven’t had a chance to watch yet.

FX

The Americans drew its last breath of the season this past week and ended on a cliffhanger note. The two Soviet agents posing as a typical American family seem to be backed into a corner as their FBI pursuers are closing in on them.  This subtly nuanced show is a very adult show that depicts the lengths this couple is willing to go to to carry out their mission.  Elizabeth Jennings is the hardcore Russian agent, whereas Philip is much more conflicted about their mission.

Coming soon

John Doyle has a couple of articles focused on upcoming summer programming:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-oj-documentary-scintillating-shocking-and-great/article30392934/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-a-summer-of-sexy-stuff-soccer-and-shenanigans/article30109635/

HBO

Outcast is a series that deals with demonic possession. John Doyle was very impressed:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-outcast-summers-first-big-drama-is-a-gloomy-brilliant-journey/article30232953

I am still enjoying HBO’s Sunday night lineup of Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley, Sensitive Skin, Penny Dreadful and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Truly an embarrassment of riches requiring very careful PVR management.

Specials

The Tony Awards airs tonight and is hosted by the very lovable James Corden.  It looks like Hamilton will get a lot of love, but look for the other musicals and plays that are on Broadway this season.  We are spending a mini-holiday in NYC in Sept. and I am looking forward to seeing as many plays as I can that week.

Comedy

Into this category I put Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Real Time with Bill Maher, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.  All these shows are having great fun with the run up to the 2016 election, and god knows, we need to find the humour in this presidential race.

Final Words

As I was watching my Sunday morning show that always calms me and inspires me, the show was preempted by news of the latest mass shooting in Orlando, Fl.  At this point, 50 people have died, making it the worst mass shooting in US history.  There are no words to express the sorrow and horror that this incident is causing.  Americans will hopefully look at the availability of automatic weapons that can result in this type of carnage.  Sadly, this type of incident has become so commonplace, that it may not even cause the public to re-examine the conditions that led to this tragedy. It has already been blamed on terrorism linked to ISIS, and so will cause the media to look outward rather than into the American gun laws that precipitate these mass shootings. Unbearably sad.

Ahhh… Bloodline still intrigues with noir delights…

I haven’t made a lot of progress with my TV watching this past week, but I have managed to catch up with a few shows I was dying to watch.

Netflix

Bloodline is back with a vengeance.  Ben Mendelson returns as Danny Rayburn, the black sheep of his family, through a series of flashbacks.  His son Nolan has turned up and seems to be channelling his father’s malevolent persona (also a stunning resemblance in a piece of casting brilliance).  I am only 5 episodes into the the 10 episode second season as I am respecting my husband’s plaintive desire to watch this series with me  between sports on TV and endless games of golf.

Spotless is an intriguing French series set in the UK and made specifically for Esquire TV in the US.  It’s about a crime scene cleaner who is pulled into his ne’er do well brother’s life of crime. Totally original! Here’s an article from the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/nov/14/spotless-esquire-network-tv-review

Streaming

The Indian Doctor TV miniseries from BBC.  A friend just told me about this 2010 series which she enjoyed for its gentle British eccentricity as it shows the adjustment of an Indian doctor to life in a Welsh village.  Although I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, it had rave reviews:

https://www.comedy.co.uk/tv/the_indian_doctor/press/

PBS

Father Brown  season finale.  It looked like curtains for the charmingly rotund British country priest with a knack for solving crimes.  This quintessential British cozy features lovable regular characters and is set in a tiny town with an alarmingly high rate of grisly murders (like so many other British mysteries).

Vera stars the British mainstay character actress, Brenda Blethyn.  She’s a female Detective Columbo with a Newcastle accent, complete with a battered and wrinkled raincoat who is a savant when it comes to solving grisly murders.  She’s endearing and down to earth, but she doesn’t miss a trick when she’s on the trail of a killer.

HBO

Outcast comes from the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, and is a creepy look at demonic possession.  First impression:  bat shit crazy, but I have a fondness for this genre (e.g. the outlandishly violent Banshee), when crazy is done well.

All the Way is a stunning biopic about Lyndon Johnson’s first year in office.  It shows the man, warts and all.  Despite his predilection for swearing and bullying, he manages to get groundbreaking civil rights legislation passed by incessant deal making.  Bryan Cranston is magnificent as LBJ, as is Melissa Leo as Lady Bird Johnson, Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey, Anthony Mackie as Martin Luther King, etc.  This film also features a stirring musical score by James Newton Howard that is classically presidential.

My usual addictions on HBO

Game of Thrones continues to enthrall with the magic and power of its storytelling. Perhaps there could be more dragons?
Penny Dreadful is a creepy exploration of the great back stories of gothic horror including Frankenstein, Dracula, Dorian Grey, the Wolfman, etc.
Veep is delightful as a political parody and features a fearless performance by Julia Louis Dreyfus as the most venal self-serving president of all time.
Silicone Valley is hilarious as it details the exploits of brilliant Silicon Valley computer nerds.
Sensitive Skin echoes Truly, Madly, Deeply as Davina experiences life without her husband.  Torontonians will delight in seeing her move to Ward’s Island and partake in the  New Age/Bohemian lifestyle there.

House of Lies returned for its fifth and final season last week.  Starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, this comedy series is a subversive, scathing look at a self-loathing management consultant from a top-tier firm who is never above using any means necessary to get his clients the information they want.

FX

The Americans fourth season has delved further into the murky reality of what Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are willing to do to survive as the FBI begins to zero in on their secrets.

Tyrant will be coming back on July 6 for its season three premiere.  I can’t wait to see what happens next for Barry Al-Fayeed and his family.  Created by the same team that gave us Homeland, this series follows the journey of an LA paediatrician who returns to his middle eastern homeland for a family wedding and finds himself unable to leave as he becomes embroiled in political struggles there.

AMC

Preacher  appears to be bat shit crazy as it explores supernatural themes in a gothic southern town.
Feed the Beast debuts tonight and tells the story of best friends Tommy (David Schwimmer) and Dion (Tom Sturgess) as they struggle to open a restaurant.

Lifetime

Unreal is a delightful exploration of the behind the scenes reality of a reality tv series not unlike The Bachelor.  Season 2 premieres on Lifetime Canada on June 6.  Vanity Fair has a great article about it:

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/06/unreal-season-2-review?mbid=nl_CH_5751b54d34d59c8547b42a1c&CNDID=9083841&spMailingID=9012658&spUserID=MTA5MzMxMjA5NTEzS0&spJobID=940312176&spReportId=OTQwMzEyMTc2S

Showcase

Outlander is simply the most romantic series to ever be on TV.  This year’s series has relocated to France and our indomitable couple cope with the intrigue of the French court, the troubling legacy of Black Jack Randall.

The Path follows the story of a cult in upstate NY led by Hugh Dancy.  Aaron Paul stars as an adherent who is losing his faith.  Michelle Monaghan plays his true believer wife.  Very haunting show in a way similar to The Leftovers (which also dealt with a similar cult-like movement that arose from a mysterious disappearance of 2% of the population).  In this case, the “Myerist movement” as they call themselves, has a distinct similarity to Scientology as their mythology follows the teachings of a former Army psychiatrist, Stephen Meyer.  The belief system of The Meyerist Movement has a “ladder toward the light” which leads to immortality.  Followers must pursue specific goals to achieve each rung on the ladder as part of their growth within the sect. It’s intriguing and thought provoking as it explores the dark side of a religion that helps people turn their lives around, but shows no mercy when adherents question their faith.

CBS

American Gothic debuts on June 13 and will feature Banshee star Antony Starr for those of you who are missing him terribly.
Brain Dead,  created by The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King, will debut on June 22.

Here’s a Variety article on the two series:

CBS Sets Summer Premiere Dates for ‘BrainDead,’ ‘American Gothic’ and More

Superchannel/ Streaming/ On Demand

I have recorded the most recent version of The Dresser, which stars Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellan,  but haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.  John Doyle gives it a rave review in the Globe:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-the-heartbreaking-accuracy-of-theatre-life-in-the-dresser/article30220016/

Comic Relief

In this age of Trump madness, I find relief in the TV comedy series that are following the Trump exploits and trying to find humour in them.  There will be a new episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) tonight; Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show (Comedy) can usually be counted on to skewer Trump and Fox TV; Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show has the brilliant comedian having great fun with Cartoon Trump and actually throwing himself on the stage floor as he lies in a fetal position contemplating a Trump presidency; Bill Maher assembles a weekly panel of pundits to analyze the madness of American politics on Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO); last but not least is our own Canadian Samantha Bee on Full Frontal (Comedy) who satirizes American politics on a weekly basis.

Here in Thornbury, the sun is coming out despite a prediction of a very rainy Sunday, so I must force myself off the couch and face the prospect of getting on with my day.  I believe there is gardening and straightening up to do!!  It has been a wonderful sunny week here and there was a glorious regatta at the local marina yesterday with a piper playing as the sailboats ventured out into the blue waters of Georgian Bay.  The local ice cream parlour had a line up and children were diving off the dock at the beach.  Summer is in full swing as families walk by my door with wagons overflowing with beach regalia of towels, buckets and shovels, and toddlers in tow. Have a wonderful week!