Time is now racing by…

We are leaving Florida on April 11, so we are cherishing every day we have left here.  I had a longtime friend come and visit this past week, and two dear couple friends are visiting us before we leave.  Today is the day of our neighbourhood street party, so neighbours are starting to say good bye to each other as we start our journeys home. It will be wonderful to see our family and friends at home in Ontario, but we just wish we could bring our Florida weather home with us.  Oh well, hoping for spring weather and daffodils on our return.

My visiting friend this past week informed me that she never watches TV, so I enticed her to watch a couple of films with me instead.  I did spend some time this weekend trying to catch up on my 83% full PVR, but I still haven’t gotten around to all my recorded programs, so here come a few recommendations for items you may be overlooking:

On the Big Screen

Last week I raved about the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast (which I regard as a masterpiece in the Disney canon that includes, Up, Ratatouille, The Jungle Book, etc.  If you are a B&tB fan, you may enjoy this article:

Why Belle Should Have Chosen Gaston

On Demand

20th Century Women is a sweet and gentle memoir about a teenager growing up in a very unconventional 1970’s household headed up by single mom Annette Bening. Wistful and slow paced, it’s a portrait of women behaving unconventionally during the heady times of the emerging women’s liberation movement and the hallucinogenic 70’s. A very different sort of coming of age movie.

I am JFK Jr – A Tribute to a Good Man.  This documentary (which originally aired on HBO) is an homage to America’s fallen prince and the Kennedy legacy.  It is the story of a young man destined for greatness, but determined to be good in a world filled with high expectations.  Featuring cinematically shot interviews with John’s friends ranging from the famous, like Robert De Niro and Cindy Crawford, to the controversial – Mike Tyson and Larry Flynt.  The vintage footage of young John in the White House, on vacation with his family, and rare footage of him in the years after his famous father’s assassination are rather poignant.

Worth Seeking Out

Con artists are trending this year (Good Behaviour on USA, Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime, Imposters on Bravo) and Shut Eye is an addictive Hulu series starring Jeffrey Donovan as a scammer who develops a real ability to predict the future.  I binged on all 10 episodes this past week.  Beware, you may get hooked!


Iron Fist has been very controversial for its white washed casting of a blonde blue eyed Brit (Finn Jones from Game of Thrones) in what was originally depicted in the comics as an Asian.  I must confess that I have bingewatched several episodes of this highly addictive martial arts series and have found it mindlessly enthralling regardless of its politically incorrect casting.

Recent Debuts


Into the Badlands returned to AMC for its second season last Sunday night and I still haven’t caught up with it.  This martial arts based series is about a mighty warrior and a young boy who search for enlightenment in a ruthless territory controlled by feudal barons.  Not for everyone, but I liked its badass kookiness. The Walking Dead is nearing its season finale and things are starting to look bad for Negan.


This network continues to delight with its miniseries like Fargo (returning shortly for Season 3), American Crime Story, and this year’s Feud about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.  Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange are amazing in their depictions of the two stars. The Americans (Tuesdays) is still dark and thrilling and this year, and, because of our new found focus on Putin’s Russia (yet another journalist shot to death recently), continues to be more timely than ever.

Amazon Prime

Several trusted friends have now told me how much they have enjoyed Z: The Beginning of Everything. This is a biography series based on the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful and talented Southern Belle who becomes the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age in the 20’s.  Starring Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald, Z starts before she meets the unpublished writer F.Scott Fitzgerald and moves through their passionate, turbulent love affair and their marriage – made in heaven  and lived out in hell as the celebrity couple of their time.



American Crime (Sunday nights) has returned for its third season with a wonderful cast (headed by Felicity Huffman) and is focusing this year on human trafficking. Powerful stories of individuals caught up in this shameful practice, the series is beautifully written and acted.



With the notable exceptions of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden and of course my moment of Zen show CBS Sunday Morning, I rarely find myself drawn to the network’s hugely popular line up of police procedurals and 1/2 hour sitcoms.  John Doyle has a wonderful Globe column on how CBS programming is generally of high appeal to Trump followers:




Guilty pleasures abound on this network for me.  Chicago Fire on Tuesdays (hunky firefighters abound) had a hilariously overwrought episode this past week about a gang of black teenagers taking the entire firehouse hostage.  Chicago Justice on Sundays (also simplistically overwrought) features the blonde and handsome actor Philip Winchester heading up the State Attorney’s dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators as he navigates heated city politics and controversy head-on, while fearlessly pursuing justice.  Sadly, I am finding The Blacklist: Redemption on Thursdays (starring Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen) almost unwatchable as the team of covert mercenaries solves problems that governments “don’t dare touch”.

Despite my digs about guilty pleasures and formulaic programming on Network TV, John Doyle has another great column on Network TV:


The CW

If you haven’t yet caught up with Riverdale (Thursdays), see if you can catch it on demand.  Dark and subversively comedic, it’s an Archie’s comic brought to life for millennials.  I also enjoy The 100 on Wednesdays about attractive young people lost in space.


This wonderful network seems to still be in fundraising mode, but our local affiliate is airing To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters at 9 pm tonight.  British sisters Charlotte (Finn Atkins), Emily (Chloe Pirrie) and Anne (Charlie Murphy)  Bronte write classic 19th-century novels while dealing with their troubled brother (Adam Nagaitis).  Looking forward to this Brit costume drama.  Sigh… English accents and period costumes are my favourites!!


When I set up the above program to record tonight, it knocked out two Sunday night favourites of mine, Billions and Homeland (which are both easily time shifted). Both shows originally starred Brit Damian Lewis (red haired, small mouthed).  Although he is long departed from Homeland (still starring Clare Danes as a slightly crazed heroine), he is still playing a ruthless capitalist hedge fund owner (is there any other kind?) on Billions.


Canadians should be deservedly proud of Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal (Wednesday nights) where Bee fearlessly kicks ass on a weekly basis as she turns her comic gaze on  the political quagmire that has descended upon America.


Famed for its original programming of high quality dramas (currently Big Little Lies), challenging sitcoms (currently Girls and Crashing).  HBO also is home to two political comedy series (Real Time with Bill Maher on Fridays and Last Week Tonight on Sundays with John Oliver).

Closing Words

I usually write this blog while watching my favourite program of the week, CBS Sunday Morning.  Today’s episode opened with a segment on the polarization of  political news coverage in the US media.  Fascinating stuff.  I then usually catch up on all the other news of the day with Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN.  Zakaria gives a calm and usually dispassionate focus on world events (although last week he went a little nuts using the term bullshit to repeatedly call out the Trump administration’s fast and loose way with the truth).  In conclusion, try not to watch too much political coverage as it will only raise your blood pressure.  Enjoy this beautiful spring weather!!


So much to watch, so little time….

OK, true confessions.  I haven’t even watched last week’s Sunday recordings, never mind all the regular weekday stuff. We’ve been partying with lots of friends and have eaten and drunk more these past few days than I care to recall.  I am still feeling the effects of my St. Patrick’s Day special Paddywack cocktails, so from out of my alcohol induced haze, here are some recommendations:


On the Big Screen

Beauty and the Beast is not to be missed.  Lush, romantic and full of wonderful songs, this movie couldn’t have been any more enjoyable.  Even if you don’t have a child or grandchild to accompany you, treat yourself to this lovely experience.  It’s beautifully cast, has gorgeous costumes and spectacular sets.  Enjoy!!  By the way, the audience broke into spontaneous applause at the end. Stay for the closing credits, as you will be amazed at the talent behind this film:  Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, etc.  Magical!!

New on Netflix

Iron Fist debuted this weekend.  Starring Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones), and continuing the Marvel series tradition of heroes with mad martial arts skills, Danny Rand is a young man bestowed with mad martial arts skills and a mystical force known as the Iron Fist.  Try it, you might like it!!  I just binged on the first 4 episodes and I am totally hooked.

Hotel Beau Séjour debuted on Netflix recently.  A noir series that begins when a girl wakes up in a hotel room and she finds her own dead body in the bathtub.  She tries to solve her own murder but realises that nobody except 5 people can see her.  She unravels a web of secrets in her seemingly tranquil village.  From Belgium with English subtitles. Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it:


New on Hulu

Shut Eye is a 10 episode miniseries about the world of gypsy fortune tellers and con artists.     Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) plays Charlie Haverford, a scammer with a small chain of fortune-telling storefronts and contracts, who works for a Roma family (headed by Isabella Rossellini) that controls the business in the greater chunk of Los Angeles.  A blow to the head from a client’s angry boyfriend intersects with a hypnosis session while auditioning a new “clairvoyant,” and suddenly, a man whose entire life has been based on fraud begins to see and feel some very real and fundamental truths.  Loved the first couple of episodes!!  Addictive. Here’s a great article from the NY Times:


Tickled is a documentary from New Zealand.  Journalist David Farrier stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online. As he delves deeper he comes up against fierce resistance, but that doesn’t stop him getting to the bottom of a story stranger than fiction. This is a true spellbinder that reveals how difficult it is to make a documentary film in the face of extremely hostile subjects.

A Note about PBS

In checking the TV Guide, tonight’s regular PBS lineup (Masterpiece Theatre, Masterpiece Mystery, etc.) is being preempted by the usual array of fundraising specials.  Now, more than ever, PBS needs your support.  If you enjoy their excellent lineup of children’s programming, scripted dramas, evening news, public affairs programs, etc., you may want to think about making a donation or at least letting your voice be heard with your elected federal representatives to let them know how important funding the Corporation for Pubic Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts is to you.  These are very worrisome times for those of us who have come to depend on programs like Downton Abbey.  Please support your local PBS station.

Regular Recommendations and shows you might want to catch

Please check last week’s recommendations for regularly scheduled programs.

I did manage to watch the new John Lithgow mockumentary on NBC Tuesdays, Trial and Error, and found it a bit lame and silly, but will give it another chance this week.

If you haven’t caught Riverdale on The CW Thursday (Archie comics revisited), see if you can find it on demand.  Very clever and funny.

American Crime on ABC Sundays has returned with a season about human trafficking. This show is incredibly well written and acted and the series stars a repertory company made up of incredibly powerful actors like Felicity Huffman, Regina King, etc.  This season focuses on an undocumented Mexican worker who discovers modern servitude thriving in an agricultural community; a woman who learns the shocking truth behind a family’s wealth; a social worker who wants a young prostitute to testify against her pimp in court.  

Colony on USA Thursday nights, couldn’t be more timely in its depiction of a world colonized by extraterrestrial tyrants and their human surrogates who carry out their bidding.

Outsiders on WGN Tuesdays (produced by Paul Giammatti) is a great series about poor Appalachians fighting big coal.

Underground on WGN Wednesdays has returned for its second season and continues the search for freedom by slaves headed North.

Imposters (Bravo on Tuesdays) is a dark comedy that focuses on a female con artist who marries men and then disappears with their money.  This terrific new show is very entertaining as her victims band together to hunt her down.

Some Closing Words

I started this blog for my friends who frequently asked me what they should be watching.  Imagine my surprise when I found this fantastic article by an entertainment writer who is frequently asked for TV recommendations.  I love her choices:

How to Recommend TV Shows to Everyone in Your Life

Our time here in Florida is coming to an end.  We have visitors coming during our last 3 weeks here, so it will be very busy.  In the meantime, enjoy beautiful spring weather if you’re in the north (I believe tomorrow is officially the last day of winter, despite the occasional March snowstorm) and for my Florida friends, enjoy our incredibly beautiful endless summer.




I have run out of breath…

I’m having a quiet Sunday. The time change (and several ensuing power outages in our community) has sent our electronics reeling, screwed up our PVR settings, made it very difficult to retrieve email, etc.  Now that things have evidently returned to normal, I am hurriedly composing this blog entry before the power fails again sending my work to oblivion!  So here goes:

Coming to the Big Screen this week

Beauty and the Beast, now a live action musical from Disney, arrives on March 17 when I will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day, so I will be seeing it at our local multiplex on March 18.  It has had rave reviews and of course, stars Dan Stevens as the Beast (Matthew Crawley from the sorely missed Downton Abbey), as well as Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson . Can’t wait!!!

New Shows

Another show that made its debut last week (which I didn’t catch until after it had aired) was Time After Time. A TV adaptation of the 1979 film with David Warner and Malcolm Macdowell which has HG Wells hurtling from Edwardian London into modern day Manhattan as he uses his time machine to try and stop Jack the Ripper from killing in present day NYC.  A ripping yarn so far, I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode.  ABC on Sundays at 9 pm. Here’s what John Doyle has to say about it:


American Crime will make its Season 3 debut on ABC tonight.  This terrific series deals with difficult subjects in a very effective and engaging way.  This season will concentrate on human trafficking.  Performers from season to season include a repertory company composed of Felicity Huffman, Regina Davis, Tim Hutton, and many more.  Here’s what Deadline.com has to say about it:

‘American Crime’ Season 3 Review: John Ridley’s Anthology Series Remarkable In Scope

Trial and Error debuts on Mar 14 on NBC at 10. Starring John Lithgow, this mockumentary is about a murder suspect on trial for killing his wife and looks very funny as it is a cross between Parks and Rec and Making a Murderer.

Love from Judd Apatow returned to Netflix on Mar 10. Tales of love and woe for millennials.

Iron Fist joins the Marvel Netflix line-up on Mar. 17.


CNN Alert

Farid Zakaria GPS is my go-to expert on World Affairs every Sunday morning at 10.  On Monday night he has a special program about Vladimir Putin called The Most Powerful Man in the World.  Hopefully, more light will be cast upon the alleged influence of Russia on the American political process.

My usual obsessions

Last week I gave a rundown of my nightly PVR recordings.  I exhausted myself doing that, but if you are curious please have a look at them.  I will just highlight now some shows you may be watching that haven’t received much attention:


Homeland on Showtime at 9

Big Little Lies on HBO at 9

Feud:  Bette and Joan on FX at 10

The Arrangement on E at 10

Crashing on HBO at 10:30

Girls on HBO at 10

Billions on Showtime at 10


Humans on AMC at 10

Taken on NBC at 10


The Americans on FX at 10

Outsiders on WGN at 9

Imposters on Bravo at 10


Legion on FX at 10

Designated Survivor on ABC at 10

The Expanse on SyFy at 10

Underground on WGN at 10

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS at 10:30


 The Catch on ABC at 10

Colony on USA at 10


Grimm on NBC at 8

Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO at 10


SNL on NBC at 11:30

Comic Relief

OK, so I know it’s a stretch to say SNL hasn’t received much attention, but for comic relief don’t forget about Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sundays at 11 on HBO, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert most weeknights at 11 and 11:30 respectively on Comedy and CBS. Trevor Noah also has a new NETFLIX special called Trevor Noah Afraid of the Dark which is a live performance on Broadway.

Concluding Words

It’s been a little smoky in Southwest Florida this past week because of brushfires and lack of rain.  The weather is supposed to cool this week and they are forecasting rain, but that is  not nearly as dire as the weather forecast for the northeast which is showing very cold temperatures and snow.  Safe driving to all my family and friends!  Enjoy the week, wherever you may be.



Premiere Alert #2: Designated Survivor Returns

I am so embarrassed!  I thought I had been overly wordy in my last blog post, so I was perhaps a bit quick to publish before I became even more verbose.  However, as a result, I omitted mentioning the return of Designated Survivor (Wed. night at 10 pm on ABC) starring Kiefer Sutherland.  For those of you who have been breathlessly waiting to see how this suspense series develops, wait no more. Set your PVRs.

Premiere alert…The Americans returns!

Unfortunately in my morning post, I missed including The Americans Season 5 return this Tuesday at 10 pn on FX. This riveting series has been described as one of the best on TV.  Starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, it tells the story of two Soviet intelligence agents who pose as a married couple to spy on the American government.  With our daily news being filled with reports of Russian involvement in the American political process and responses of McCarthyism being levelled at the media and all who call for investigations into Russian interference, this series which is set in the 1980’s couldn’t be more timely. Enjoy!!

So much catching up to do…

Well, the Oscars came and went last weekend. As for the fiasco of the botched Best Film award presentation, I feel rather sanguine about it now.  I was delighted to hear that LaLaLand was announced as best picture.  I really enjoyed this lovely musical.  Wistful and full of imaginative touches, I found it a wonderful escape from today’s troubles.  I loved the French musicals The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg that were major influences on this bittersweet love story.  When the mixup became apparent, I was very pleased to see that Moonlight, a truly original film that depicted the life of a young black man in Florida, had been recognized for its courageous storytelling.  In my opinion, the mixup gave both films an opportunity to be honoured.

A Documentary recommendation:

I wrote earlier this year about a wonderful documentary Score that I saw at the Naples International Film Festival.  This film will go into wide release in May, and here is an excerpt from an article from another blogger, Victoria Weisfeld, on this terrific doc:
“The heart of many a memorable motion picture is the musical score that presages, enhances, and evokes emotions as the story unfolds.

In Score, a new documentary set for wide release in May, filmmakers Kenny Holmes and Matt Schrader feature leading film music composers—including John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Quincy Jones, Danny Elfman and Alexandre Desplat—who describe the extraordinary artistry and execution in crafting a memorable score.

Whether they’re talking about their contemporaries or the greats of yesteryear, the composers express a profound admiration that’s born of an intimate understanding of what makes a work groundbreaking or indelible,” wrote Sheri Linden in the Hollywood Reporter.”



In the Concert Hall

Last night we attended a concert at Artis-Naples, the local symphony hall, of The Hit Men: Legendary Performers with Frankie Valli, Carole King, Cat Stevens and More. Performing with The Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.  This was a very enjoyable evening of music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s performed by a wonderful group of journeymen entertainers.  It was a trip down memory lane for all of us baby boomers in attendance, as so many hits that we grew up with were beautifully performed.

Now, on to TV recommendations:

TV Premieres this Week

Feud airs tonight on ABC.  Directed by Ryan Murphy, it stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and is about their legendary rivalry during their collaboration on the film What Ever happened to Baby Jane.  The series explores how the two women endured ageism,sexism, and misogyny while struggling to hang on to success and fame in the twilight of their careers.

Here’s John Doyle’s article on the series:


The Arrangement airs tonight on E! Purportedly based on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Scientology marriage, the series is about TV actress Megan Morrison who is offered a $10 million marriage contract with Hollywood’s biggest star.This looks like the guilty pleasure show of the year!

Chicago Justice (which is the latest Dick Wolf show set in Chicago, following Chicago PD, Chicago Fire and Chicago Med) debuted this past week on NBC and episode 2 makes its regularly scheduled Sunday night appearance tonight. Although putting this very routine legal drama on the Sunday night schedule  may be very unwise (where it has to compete for an audience against the juggernaut shows of HBO, Showtime, STARZ, AMC and PBS), the show does star Philip Winchester.  This dreamily handsome guy got his start on US TV in 2008 when he starred in Crusoe, and he has since played leading roles in Strikeback and The Player as an action star.  It will be interesting to see how long this legal series will last up against some of the best shows on TV.  Sometimes you just need to watch a very handsome guy pretend to be a lawyer.

Taken premieres on NBC next Saturday night.  If you ever wondered how Liam Neeson acquired that “particular set of skills” as CIA operative Bryan Mills, here’s a picture of the action hero as a young man as former CIA agent Mills deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world, and he fights to overcome the incident and exact revenge.

My usual obsessions:

Today my XFinity recorder gets a workout!  It can record 6 events at one time which comes in very handy when the networks insist on putting their very best offerings on at the same time, so here is my list of what I will be recording today:

9 am CBS News Sunday Morning

10 am Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN

8 pm Mercy Street on PBS

8 pm The Missing on STARZ

9 pm Big Little Lies on HBO

9 pm Homeland on SHOWTIME

9 pm Chicago Justice  (episode 2) on NBC

9 pm Victoria on Masterpiece on PBS

9 pm Black Sails on STARZ

9 pm The Walking Dead on AMC

10 pm Girls on HBO

10 pm Billions on Showtime

10 pm Feud: Bette and Joan on ABC

10 pm The Arrangement on E!

10:30 pm Crashing on HBO

11:00 pm Last Week Tonight on HBO

OK, if you’re overwhelmed at the list above (and thinking I might need some kind of TV intervention), just imagine how challenging it is to try and keep up with these shows.  I still haven’t caught up with the shows from last week as we had the great pleasure of hosting our son Jon for 10 days and had company for golf and dinner this week!

As for my other regular viewing during the week, here’s a rundown:


7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

8:00 24:LEGACY on FOX

10:00 Humans on AMC

11:00 The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy

11:35 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS


7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

9:00 Outsiders on WGN

10:00 Imposters on Bravo

10:00 Chicago Justice  (episode 3) on NBC

11 and 11:35 Trevor Noah on Comedy and Stephen Colbert on CBS


7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

10:00 The Expanse on SyFy

10:00 Legion on FX

10:30 Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS

11 and 11:35 Noah on Comedy and Colbert on CBS


7:30 VICE News Tonight on HBO

9:00 Riverdale on the CW

9:00 Nashville on CMT

10:00 Colony on USA

11 and 11:35 Noah on Comedy and Colbert on CBS


7:30 VICE on HBO

8:00 Grimm on NBC

10:00 Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO

11:35 Colbert on CBS


9:00 Taken on NBC

11:30 Saturday Night Live on NBC

In Conclusion

Well, that was exhausting!!  Not to mention a little embarrassing, as I have disclosed the many shows I record on a daily basis.  There has been very little rain here and as a result there have been numerous brushfires north of us in the Fort Myers area.  It has been a sublime winter in Naples so far.  Very few of our golf, pickle ball and bocci games have been rained out.  In short, there has been very little cool and miserable weather suitable to staying in and hunkering down on the couch to veg out with guilty pleasure TV viewing.  I am looking forward to the opening of the new Disney live action version of Beauty and the Beast (dreamy Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey is the beast) that is going to open here in Naples on March 17.  It has had wonderful advance reviews!!  George has asked me to round up some ladyfriend volunteers to come and see it with me, so start thinking about it. Whatever your plans, have a wonderful week!