Well, this week has been one of a deluge of biblical proportions. We decided to head up to Thornbury to make sure there was no water damage due to the incessant rains. As I write this on Sunday morning, there is a possibility of snow flurries in the forecast. Thankfully, our sump pump has been working nonstop and our home is warm and dry. The weather has been most conducive to cocooning and I have been bingeing on Netflix for much of this weekend. My recommendations follow:
Amazon Prime Video Alert!!!
I was astonished to find out last week, that my Amazon TV app works in Canada!!
American Gods is a bizarre series starring Ian McShane which debuted this past week. It is about a recently released ex-convict named Shadow who meets a mysterious man who calls himself “Wednesday” and who knows more than he first seems to about Shadow’s life and past. It’s going to take a while to figure this one out.
For those of you considering joining Amazon Prime so that you can access their video library of original content, here’s just a sampling of their titles:
Patriot (espionage miniseries)
Tom Clancey’s Ghost Recon (suspense miniseries)
Goliath (legal miniseries)
The Night Manager (seriously, if you missed it on AMC, catch it here!) Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie star in this terrific suspense series.
Sneaky Pete (Giovanni Ribisi and Bryan Cranston star in this suspense miniseries).
Fleabag (comedy miniseries from the UK)
Mozart in the Jungle (Gael Garcia Bernal stars as the maestro of a NYC symphony orchestra in this comedic miniseries)
Transparent (Jeffrey Tambor stars in this groundbreaking and heartbreaking miniseries about a transexual male transitioning to female in his 60’s)
I could go on, but the above is just a sampling of their original content that is worth watching.
Dickensian is a 13-part series from the BBC. I must confess that I managed to watch all 13 episodes this weekend!! I have a weakness for British costume dramas and this one is tailor-made for watching on a rainy day. It’s a mashup of all of Dickens’ novels. Characters from Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, and A Christmas Carol all mix and mingle in what is essentially a murder mystery. Great British character actors abound, led by Stephen Rea, Peter Firth, Anton Lesser, etc. Make yourself a cup of tea, turn on the fireplace, wrap yourself in an afghan and enjoy this one.
The Last Kingdom is a 16 part series that chronicles the rise of England under Alfred the Great. A BBC co-production with Netflix, the 8 episode second season is currently available. If you like hunky Danes fighting AngloSaxons circa 800-900 AD, you will love this. The main protagonist is a fictional character who is part Saxon and Dane who is struggling to claim his birthright. Played by Alexander Dreymon who grew up in France, Switzerland and the US, he is a fantastically romantic leading man. I managed to finishing watching all 8 episodes of season 2 this past weekend!
The Handmaid’s Tale is the latest adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a woman forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. If you like your futuristic tales dark and terrifying, this miniseries is for you! Great performances from Elizabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Yvonne Strahovski, etc.
If you didn’t manage to catch Hugh Laurie in the Hulu series Chance, it begins airing tonight directly following The Handmaid’s Tale. This terrific suspense series is about a forensic psychiatrist who gets involved in a noirish relationship with a femme fatale. Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it:
Harlots is a production from Britain’s ITV. Set in London 1763, it tells the tale of rival brothel owners. Full of naked women and men, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but so far, I have found it fascinating. Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it in the Globe:
After catching up with the marvellous and delightful series Anne last weekend (which I binged on in its entirety), I caught the first couple of episodes of Bellevue. This 8-episode miniseries is a mystery set in a small blue-collar town with a dark secret. Kind of a Canadian Twin Peaks. It stars Anna Paquin, Shawn Doyle and Allen Leech (Tom from Downton Abbey!!!). Seriously dark and very murky, I actually had trouble seeing my screen as so much of the series is filmed at night. This one requires real perseverance.
Billions has its season finale tonight.
Veep continues with Julia Louis Dreyfus playing a former president who is obsessed with securing her legacy.
Silicon Valley continues its story of techies trying to survive in the jungle that is known as Silicon Valley.
The Leftovers is one of the saddest series ever made about the aftereffects of The Rapture. Now we’re in Australia!
Call the Midwife and Home Fires are two of the most heartwarming British nostalgia series ever made. If you are home on Sunday evenings, make yourself a cup of tea, get cosy in front of the fire, and grab a hankie.
American Crime aired the last episode of Season 3 last week. This series is dark and disturbing as it follows 3 different crimes in each season. Great performances from its repertory cast featuring Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Regina King, Lili Taylor, etc. Very challenging tv, but worth pursuing. You can catch the first two seasons on Netflix.
Better Call Saul is continuing its second season prequel of events leading up to Breaking Bad. Bob Odenkirk is alternately tragic and hilarious as the ne’er do well lawyer with a self-destructive streak. Great cast of character actors includes Michael McKean, Jonathan Banks, Giancarlo Esposito and many others in supporting roles.
The Americans is in its fifth season of unbearable suspense during the Cold War days of the 1980’s. Very timely now that there is so much focus on Putin and his influence in today’s cold war.
Fargo is in its third season of completely independent storytelling (each season tells a different story, completely independent from the original film). This season follows a twisted sibling rivalry that leads to murder, mobsters and cutthroat competitive bridge in a small Midwestern town. Ewan McGregor heads up a terrific cast that includes Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis and Michael Stuhlbarg. Intrigue abounds!
Great News is a completely silly sitcom starring the great Andrea Martin in her first leading role in a series. She is the only reason to watch this often lame comedy series.
Gotham has returned from hiatus with tales of a young Batman and all the supporting players and villains. I have a soft spot for Benjamin Mackenzie as the young Jim Gordon.
Arrow stars Stephen Amell as a superhero who is awfully good with a bow and arrow. He has all the charisma that Jeremy Renner lacked in the Avengers series. Very silly stuff, but obviously, I am not the only one (well perhaps the only adult female) who is watching it as it is in its fifth season!
The 100 is in its 4th season and it follows impossibly attractive young people who are lost in space.
Stephen Colbert is dancing on the edge these days with his anger against
Trump and that is making for great ratings for him on The Late Show (CBS); Trevor Noah leads his comedic attacks on The Daily Show Mon-Thurs on Comedy; Samantha Bee attacks on Wednesday on Full Frontal on Comedy; Bill Maher attacks Fridays with Real Time on HBO; John Oliver attacks Sundays on Last Week Tonight on HBO. I also record new episodes of Saturday Night Live on NBC and watch it when I am in need of a comic fix. All in all, I find these series so much easier to watch than CNN.
I record CBS Sunday Morning and watch it at a moment when I need spiritual soothing. I also record Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and watch it for his lucid explanations of world affairs.
Do not despair because of our cold rainy weather in the north; surely all this rain must be a harbinger of flowers and green grass to come. Enjoy the season for its respite from endless snow in the north and heat and humidity if you are still in Fthe south. Drive safely wherever you are, and take a few moments to relax and reflect on how grateful we should be to live in a land where we are lucky enough to take our freedoms and privileges for granted. We enjoy wonderful health care and a civility of public discourse that many of our neighbours do not have. Count your blessings! We are off to NYC this week to see some art, and of course, some theatre. We have tickets for Kevin Kline in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter. We’ll be heading to the half-price ticket wicket in Times Square to see what else we can find. Enjoy the week, wherever you are.