Tonight we celebrate Christmas with the Hungarian side of the family in Uxbridge, soon to be followed by parts 2, 3, and 4 with the other side of the family culminating in a dinner in Milton at the home of my daughter-in-law’s parents. I have been furtively watching Netflix and streaming shows that my son has found for me on the internet in between rounds of entertaining friends (especially my beloved high school girlfriends) and family (beloved nephew and family) this week. I squeezed in a Trivial Pursuit night with my Fitness Friends and totally enjoyed the latest version of the game (Hasbro Trivial Pursuit 2000S) which has superb Arts and Entertainment questions totally updated for today’s generation. I also took in a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum to see the Chihuly Glass exhibition as well as a breathtaking Wildlife Photography Show. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for your viewing pleasure over the holidays:
If you have already enjoyed The Crown (about Elizabeth II), Fauda (Israeli series featuring undercover agents in Gaza), Paranoid (British crime series) then I suggest a change of pace with The OA. This mesmerizing series is quite unique in its blend of suspense, surrealism and science fiction elements and I cannot stop watching it. Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it in the Globe:
Doyle also recommended Nobel, a new Norwegian Noir series:
After finishing Fauda, I was hungering for more Mossad/Middle East intrigue, so I have started reading the suspense novels of Daniel Silva, beginning with his two most recent The English Spy and The Black Widow. I am longing for a new James Bond film and in the meantime, spy novels are going to have to suffice. Silva has written 19 thriller and espionage novels since 1997, many of which share the leading character Gabriel Allon, art restorer and sometime Israeli Mossad agent. Silva is a former journalist with UPI, who worked in San Francisco, Washington and as the Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf. I am devouring his novels this week.
Sully stars Tom Hanks as Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson river, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented (unpresidented?) feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career. A great example of a story well told, where even though we know the ending, we are still on the edge of our seats because of the very convincing way the story is conveyed to us. Hanks is wonderful in the role and Clint Eastwood does a very understated job of depicting an American hero.
New Blood is a very entertaining British crime series about two Londoners who end up partners in their professional lives as their crime investigations keep intersecting.
I also caught up with the most recent episodes of Chance, Younger and Berlin Station. All worth a look.
Designated Survivor (ABC Wednesdays) aired it’s midseason finale this week. This show really does channel The Manchurian Candidate film in its depiction of a Vice President who may have been put in power by a cabal seeking to take over the USA. For more on the enduring legacy of this film and the resonance of Trump’s assistance from Russia, please read John Doyle’s column:
Nashville (returning in January CMT/W) had a sneak preview of its upcoming season opening episode on W channel this past week. Somehow, they’ve taken a show that had a real edge (and great music) and they’ve made it into a soft focus soap opera with gushy good feelings and lots of hugs. Very strange.
The Walking Dead (Sundays on AMC) has become a little stale for me. Although new villains emerge, the whole show is now so sad. Just when the survivors think they have found a safe place of refuge, it turns out to be more harrowing than their previous place. The mid-season finale show ended with a bloodcurdling scene of wanton disembowelling in one of the most shocking scenes ever. And it takes a lot for TWD to top itself.
Still watching my comedy faves like Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, all of whom will likely be on hiatus over the holidays. CBS Sunday Morning (9 am every Sunday on CBS) is still my Zen moment where I can tune out the Trumpocalypse and concentrate on feel-good human interest stories and celebrity profiles.
End of Year Lists
Saturday’s Globe had a record number of Best of 2016 lists. As people are often asking me to put lists together of my favourite movies, tv shows, etc. and I am way too lazy to try and sum up my picks, I’m going to publish the Globe lists (as they have writers who actually get paid to recap their thoughts):
As I have wrapping, cooking and myriad chores to complete today, I am signing off with a very fond Seasons Greeting to all of my friends and family that you have a wonderful week of feasting, relaxing, and peace. Stay safe on those treacherous roads and remember to take some time to appreciate the many gifts that we have. I know this can also be a sad time of year when we reflect on past holidays with family and friends that are no longer with us, so savour those precious memories and raise a glass to our departed. L’chaim – to life!