For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Peak TV”, it refers to the high volume of quality programming that is currently available to viewers (for example in 2017, 487 scripted shows made it to air). Specialty channels, streaming services, etc. have all increased the volume of shows that are on view. I make it a habit to try and keep up, but it is almost impossible to make the time to watch everything that interests me. I cut down on the amount of time required by recording everything I watch and then fast forwarding through commercials. All programs that are available through streaming are shown commercial free. If a show doesn’t capture my attention after about 20 minutes, I usually give up and move on to something else.
For those of you who are following the Oscars (to be telecast on Mar. 4), I am going to provide a nominations list for you to follow in choosing your films to watch. This year the short subjects are going to be available in theatres in February for people to catch before the show. In the meantime, here are some recommendations:
An American in Paris recently played the Naples area. This beautiful Gershwin show is a real showcase for dance, with some gorgeous ballads thrown in. Great talent on display, including a standout National Ballet of Canada star as the male lead who can also sing very well (McGee Maddox).
On the Big Screen
Phantom Thread Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover. It stars Oscar nominated Daniel Day Lewis and the egregiously overlooked Vicky Crieps as a most unusual couple. Best Supporting Actress nominee, Lesley Manville steals every scene she’s in as Woodcock’s older sister. Although the movie is superficially very conventionally told in linear fashion, it is actually quite oblique and paints a portrait of a relationship that is ultimately based on a very peculiar power dynamic. You’ve been warned! This movie is definitely not for everyone, but I did enjoy it.
Here’s a nominations list for the Oscars:
The Alienist This intriguing 10-episode mystery miniseries debuted last Sunday on TNT. Set at the turn of the century in NYC, it stars Daniel Bruhl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans as a team of specialists trying to capture a serial killer of young rent boys.
Counterpart This fabulous 10-episode futuristic espionage miniseries debuted last Sunday on STARZ. It stars J.K. Simmons (Whiplash, OZ) in a double role as a UN office worker who discovers a parallel universe.
Altered Carbon This 10-episode futuristic miniseries premieres on Netflix on February 2. Rumoured to be Bladerunneresque!
Absentia This 10-episode suspense miniseries stars Stana Katic (Castle) as an FBI agent who had been presumed dead out to reclaim her life. It debuts on Amazon on February 2.
The Resident This medical series debuted last week on FOX. It stars Matt Czuchry, Emily Van Camp, and Bruce Greenwood as medical professionals trying to save lives, advance their careers, etc. Really interesting medical ethics on display here as compromises are often made based on threats of blackmail and career sabotage.
Black Lightning This superhero series starring a predominantly black cast began on Jan 23 on the CW. Really interesting vigilante justice being delivered by a black high school principal who goes up against gangs and various criminals in order to protect his family and community.
Rita I binged on Season 4 of this wonderful Danish series about an outspoken and rebellious woman who also happens to be a wonderful teacher in a community school that is fighting to stay open. Delightful!!
A Futile and Stupid Gesture debuted this past weekend on Netflix. This film about the founders of National Lampoon magazine stars Will Forte and Downhill Gleason. Loved it.
Here’s an article about more new shows coming to Netflix:
The Path was made for Hulu and stars Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy and Michelle Monaghan in a chilling examination of life inside a cult. Season 3 now available.
Mary Kills People was made for Global TV Canada and is also available on Lifetime in the US. This great suspense series is about a pair of medical professionals who provide terminally ill patients with assisted suicides. Season 2 now available.
Cardinal was made for CTV Canada. It stars Billy Campbell as a detective in Northern Ontario trying to solve the mysterious case of a woman shot in the head and left with amnesia. Season 2 now available.
Star Trek: Discovery was made for CBS All Access. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, and Michelle Yeoh. Set 10 years before Enterprise, the USS Discovery discovers new worlds and lifeforms as one Starfleet officer learns to understand all things alien.
The Good Doctor I love this medical procedural about an autistic young doctor and his cohorts.
The Grammy Awards are hosted by James Corden (Carpool Karaoke segments on The Late Late Show) tonight at 8 pm. Elton John and Miley Cyrus perform a duet.
Special Programming Alert: This is Us will air at a special time next weekend following the Super Bowl next Sun Feb 4 with a 1-hr very special episode after Jack’s death. I vowed only to watch this sappy series until I found out how the Dad died. We have crossed that bridge!!
Chicago Fire and The Brave are typical network fare as both feature teams trying to extricate people from terrible situations.
Nashville So soapy, yet so tasty! Juliette seems to have joined a cult; Avery, Will and Gunnar are now the oldest boy band in history; Scarlett is in love with horses, etc. Apparently all will end this year as the series is not being renewed.
Victoria is a gorgeous evocation of her era. Beautiful costumes, settings, and accents. Ah….
American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace Ooh this is dark as it is told in flashback format so we are filled with suspense waiting for Andrew Cunanan (played perfectly by Darren Criss from Glee) to strike.
Riverdale, Arrow, and Supergirl are all guilty pleasure shows aimed at a young adult demographic. I love them anyway.
Corporate This dark satire has great fun with corporate life.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is back from hiatus and is more savage than ever!
Conan goes to Haiti Conan may be the most lovable of all the late night hosts. He is wonderful here as a fish out of water trying to understand Haitian society. If you missed it this past weekend, catch it ON Demand.
Real Time with Bill Maher Bill seemed to almost go off the deep end this past Friday, nearly losing it during an innocuous interview with Zooey Deschanel. Has he been smoking too much pot? Michelle Goldberg (op ed columnist for the NYTimes) easily schooled him in his simplistic views about Israel and the two-state solution.
Divorce Sarah Jessica Parker stars in this sitcom from the writer of Catastrophe, Sharon Horgan. Pretty dark comedy.
9-1-1 I am loving this new procedural from Ryan Murphy. Watch for Connie Britton as a very soulful Emergency Services telephone operator.
The XFiles I did love this show once, but am finding it awfully tedious in its latest incarnation.
The Chi If you loved The Wire, you will likely love this show about the south side of Chicago.
Moments of Zen
CBS Sunday Morning This is the background music to which I write this blog. It calms, inspires and soothes me. Great profiles, human interest stories, etc.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Noah has emerged as a great commentator on our daily foibles. He’s also become a pretty good interviewer. If you missed his interview with Michael Wolff (Fire and Fury), watch it on demand and see him challenge Wolff on the veracity of his claims.
Special Programming Alert: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will air a live show to follow the State of the Union address on Tues. Jan. 31.
It’s been beautiful in Naples this past week and I understand that it’s nice enough in Ontario now that my son is enjoying a ski weekend with friends at our place in Thornbury. Wherever you are, enjoy every moment! Special thoughts to my friends dealing with medical issues. Hugs always.