The new shows of 2018 keep coming…

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:

Live Theatre

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:

Oscar Nominations 2018: The Complete List

New Shows

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.

Netflix

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:

Streaming

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.

ABC

The Good Doctor I love this medical procedural about an autistic young doctor and his cohorts.

CBS

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.

NBC

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.

CMT

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.

PBS

Victoria is a gorgeous evocation of her era.  Beautiful costumes, settings, and accents.  Ah….

FX

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.

CW

Riverdale, Arrow, and Supergirl are all guilty pleasure shows aimed at a young adult demographic.  I love them anyway.

Comedy Central

Corporate This dark satire has great fun with corporate life.

TBS

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.

HBO

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.

FOX

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.

Showtime

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.

 

Closing Words

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.

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New shows for 2018 begin…

OK, fair warning, many of you need to get out there and start (or continue) watching the films that will likely be nominated for the Oscars.  The telecast will be on ABC on Sunday Mar 4, so you have 5 weeks to prepare yourselves.  Tonight, the Screen Actors Guild Awards will be telecast on TBS at 8 pm.  Concentrating only on the acting awards, this show is often a bellwether for the Oscars, and it’s usually very entertaining.  For those of you who are not so keen on the big screen, there are many new shows debuting in 2018.  Here are some recommendations:

 

On the Big Screen

Paddington 2 is the second in the Paddington Bear series.  As endearing as the first, now the little bear in the duffle coat faces a hilariously evil villain played by Hugh Grant.  All the usual players are back including Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as the bear’s adoptive parents, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent, etc.  God knows, we need an escape from reality, and I heartily recommend this wonderful film which has a very simple message about being kind to others.  Be sure and watch all the way through the closing credits and you will receive a wonderful surprise.  No spoilers!

To help you with your pre-Oscars viewing, here’s a great article about what should be nominated:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/and-the-2018-oscar-nominees-should-be/article37645905/

New shows debut

The Alienist begins tomorrow night on TNT. Crime reporter, John Moore, meets with psychologist, Dr. Laszlo Kreisler, to investigate a serial killer in NYC during the late 19th century.  Starring Daniel Bruhl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans, this series has had great advance press.
Black Lightning debuted last Tuesday on the CW.  A retired superhero becomes a vigilante for justice.  Featuring many black performers, this is a very engaging superhero story as a high school principal fights for the safety of his family and community.
The Resident premiers tonight at 10 on Fox. It centers on an idealistic young doctor who begins his first day under the supervision of a tough, brilliant senior resident who pulls the curtain back on all of the good and evil in modern day medicine.  Lives may be saved or lost, but expectations will always be shattered. Starring Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife),  Emily Van Camp, Bruce Greenwood, etc.

American Crime Story 2:  The Assassination of Gianni Versace debuted last Wed. on FX.  An all-star cast (Edgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, Penelope Cruz, Darren Criss) recreates the real life personalities. I enjoyed the first episode and will stay tuned!

Netflix

Rita is a Danish TV series that has returned to Netflix for its 4th season.  Following the life of a very outspoken and rebellious woman, Rita is a school teacher who is competent in the classroom, but seems to need a teacher of her own, when it comes to her personal life.  The Scandinavians do great comedy as well as Nordic noir.  I love this series and find the central character refreshing and endearing.

There are many hidden gems available on Netflix.  Here’s an article you may enjoy:

Streaming

The Promise This 2016 film about the Armenian genocide of 1915 came and went without creating much of a buzz.  Starring Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac and Charlotte Le Bon, it is set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire.  The Promise follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris – a renowned American journalist based in Paris. It’s a beautifully filmed movie, with gorgeous settings, but the subject matter will be very disturbing for those uncomfortable with holocaust stories.
Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.  Jessica Chastain gives her usual intense performance.  Aaron Sorkin directed this and it features his customary fast paced dialog delivered in monotones and monologs.  I have to admit that I am neither a fan of Sorkin or of gambling stories, so I was predisposed to not like this film very much. I give it a kind of guarded recommendation.  A lot of people admire Sorkin’s writing (The West Wing, The Newsroom), so if you like him and you like gambling films, you may love this!

The Bureau (Le Bureau des Legendes) has returned to IFC for its third season. In this one, Malotru is still held captive by ISIS and the French Secret Service tries to rescue him.  Non stop intrigue and excitement.  I love this dark and exciting series.  Starring Mathieu Kassovitz and a host of French performers. If you love espionage and are missing Homeland, this may be the show for you.

The Path has returned to Hulu for its 3rd season.  This series about a cult called the Meyerist Movement is a thoughtful and provocative look at why people join cults and why they leave.  Suspenseful in its depiction of power struggles and crises of faith.  Stars Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, and Hugh Dancy.
Mary Kills People (on Global in Canada and Lifetime in the US) stars Caroline Dhavernas as Dr. Mary Harris.  She is an ER doctor by day, but by night she and her partner, a former plastic surgeon, moonlight as underground angels of death who help terminally ill patients slip away on their own terms.  The series has returned for its 2nd season and now Dr. Harris is being blackmailed into committing murders!
Cardinal (CTV in Canada) has returned for its 2nd season.  Based on the crime novels of Giles Blunt.  The series features spectacular scenes of Northern Ontario and is set mainly in Algonquin Bay (North Bay) and stars Billy Campbell and a mostly Canadian cast.  I’m not familiar with the source material, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this very Canadian mystery series. Very Nordic noir!
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access) I am loving this series despite the prevalence of Klingons and their crazy boring language.  I am a huge fan of Jason Isaacs (Captain Gabriel Lorca) so I am hanging in to find out how this all concludes.

ABC

The Good Doctor I have found myself really engaged by Freddie Highmore as an autistic young doctor in a dog-eat-dog world of competitive medical residents.  OK, so it’s probably highly unrealistic that an autistic doctor could survive in such a tough environment, but his blue eyes make me swoon.

BBC America

Blue Planet 2 This series features the best photography I have ever seen.  It’s bewitching and addictive.  You will not be able to look away from this story of our oceans.

USA

Damnation Epic story of the labour struggles of the 1930’s as personified by two brothers on opposite sides of the conflict.

NBC

Chicago Fire is a guilty pleasure procedural about the adventures of hunky firemen.
This is Us is a maudlin exploration of a family’s triumphs and tragedies.  I’m only watching until I find out how the dad died.
The Brave is another guilty pleasure procedural about the adventures of a mostly male team of special ops officers.

There is a great article on why so much broadcast network TV is so lame:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/the-pointless-struggle-of-mainstream-tv-to-reflect-the-realamerica/article37641836/

 

CMT

Nashville is an unbelievably soapy story of the Nashville music scene.  This is officially the last season for Nashville, and I am watching to see how all the loose ends are tied up.

PBS

Victoria is an amazing, beautiful and inspiring look at the life of Queen Victoria.  If you loved The Crown, this may be your show.

 

CW

Riverdale, Arrow, and Supergirl are all delightful series that are aimed at the youthful CW market, but I like them anyway.  So there!

Comedy Central

Corporate is a wickedly funny satire aimed at the world of corporations.  The first two episodes premiered last week.  Catch it if you can.

TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has returned with new episodes.  The girl is really angry now!  Don’t ask her if she thinks Trump is racist.

HBO

Real Time with Bil Maher has returned with new episodes.  Friday night’s show featured Michael Wolff and Maher went pretty easy on him as he totally enjoyed the new salacious rumours Wolff is now spreading regarding Trump’s marital infidelity.  Great panel as well.

FOX

9-1-1 is a surprisingly engaging procedural about emergency services workers.  OK, the rebar through the head situation of one of the major characters was a little over-the-top, but still very entertaining.
The XFiles featured a monster of the week plot line this past week, which I find far more entertaining than the conspiracy shows.  Bring on the monsters!

Showtime

The Chi If you liked The Wire, you may like this very gritty series about Chicago.  So far, I’m hooked.

Moments of Zen

CBS Sunday Morning I just watched the Nature Moment which came from Sarasota and featured water birds, and a beautiful Gator.  Ah…….
Trevor Noah continues to amuse nightly on Comedy Central/The Comedy Channel in Canada.
Stephen Colbert continues to amuse nightly on CBS.

Closing Words

Enjoy your week wherever you are!  Don’t forget to watch the SAG Awards tonight, The Alienist tomorrow night on TNT, and The Resident tonight on Fox.  It’s a beautiful day today in Naples and golf beckons this afternoon.  We are hosting a charity Fashion Show this week at our golf club, and the usual fitness activities, Mahjong, Bocce, etc are all on the schedule.  Sending hugs to my friends who are dealing with serious medical issues.

Now I’m a Francophile!!

After spending much of the previous two weeks catching up on my Nordic Noir mysteries, I have finally gotten around to watching a wonderful French TV series about show business that is a pure delight and a wonderful preparation for awards season.  I’ve also made it out to some movies on the big screen and some of my regular TV series are returning for the rest of their season.  I totally enjoyed the Critics Choice awards on the CW, and was delighted to see The Shape of Water honoured as best film and Guillermo Del Toro honoured as best director. Here are some recommendations:

On the Big Screen

Darkest Hour During the early days of WWII, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.  Gary Oldman turns in the performance of a lifetime as Churchill (already handily winning several major awards).  If you’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s wonderful Dunkirk, this will give you the other side of that story.  Another wonderful 2016 film about this same era is the British film Their Finest (available on Netflix) starring Bill Nighy, Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Richard E. Grant.  This film documents the British war effort through the production of propaganda films and has powerful scenes of London during the Blitz.

The Post depicts the struggle to reveal a cover-up that spanned four US Presidents by publishing the Pentagon Papers that were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.  This struggle pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher (Meryl Streep as Kay Graham) and a hard-driving editor (Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee) to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.  This is heartwarming and inspiring filmmaking about being on the right side of history.  Pure Spielberg as he depicts this battle.  If you haven’t yet seen the wonderful HBO biography Spielberg, you can find it on demand. Those who really enjoyed the old fashioned principled storytelling of Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies will love this film.

 

Streaming

The Brand New Testament is a 2015 very black comedy from Belgium that posits that God is alive and living in Brussels with his daughter.  Surreal and very weird!  The daughter goes on a search to recruit 6 new apostles, one of whom is Catherine Deneuve who finds true love with a gorilla. I honestly didn’t know what to make of this very odd film, but a good friend recommended it, so I persevered.  Probably not everyone’s cup of tea.

Detroit is a 2017 film from director Kathryn Bigelow.  It is a searing look at the Detroit riots of 1967.  Very timely story of police violence within the black community.  Very hard to watch.

Netflix

American Vandal is a supremely silly true crime parody from the Funny or Die team that explores the aftermath of a costly high school prank that left 27 faculty cars vandalized with enormous penis paintings.  There are actually 9 episodes in this series, but I got the idea after 1 episode.  Very clever satire of the true crime genre.

Call My Agent Seasons 1 & 2 This 12-episode miniseries is a wonderful look at movie star agents in Paris who go about their lives and work.  They have to figure out how to carry on with the agency after the passing of their fearless leader.  Each episode features real French stars playing tongue-in-cheek versions of themselves. I came to love this series which has beautiful photography of Paris.  It is also very timely in view of the Time’s Up movement and the French reaction to it that was recently in the news as many French actresses (notably including Catherine Deneuve) voiced their concern that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of puritanism.  The French have always had a live and let live attitude to sex and in this series, many relationships seem to be based on seduction.  The final episode with Juliette Binoche as the head of the Cannes film festival jury who figures out how to deal with a sexually aggressive sponsor is a total delight.  Binoche uses her sexuality to intimidate this very powerful man.  So French!!!

PBS

Victoria returns tonight!!  British accents and period costumes.  How divine!!

HBO

Divorce with Sarah Jessica Parker returns for its second season.  I am a huge fan of Thomas Hayden Church, so I will be watching.

Crashing returns for its second season tonight.  I actually really enjoyed this look into the lives of struggling stand up comics.

CTV

Cardinal Season 2 Yay – it’s Canadian! Although it is reminiscent of Nordic Noir (chilly scenes of winter are actually filmed in North Ontario).  I loved Season 1 which dealt with the mystery of a dead teenager, and a series of subsequent murders.  Season 2 starts with a strange case of a young woman with a gunshot wound to the head.  American viewers will recognize Billy Campbell as Detective John Cardinal.

Global/ Lifetime

Mary Kills People Season 2 Yay- it’s also Canadian!  I loved Season 1.  Single mother Mary Harris is an ER doctor by day, but by night she and her partner, a former plastic surgeon, moonlight as underground angels of death who help terminally ill patients slip away on their own terms.  In Season 2, the storyline takes a very different direction when Mary is blackmailed into committing a murder by a wife who is very determined to have her husband killed.  Caroline Dhavernas is wonderful as Mary Harris and Rachelle Lefevre plays a terrific villain in this one.

USA

Damnation I had totally lost track of this epic story of labour struggles in the Depression era, but was delighted to find that I could catch up on all 10 episodes On Demand here in Florida.  A terrific tale of two brothers on opposite sides of the labour struggle.

NBC

This is Us So maudlin.  Still waiting to find out how the Dad dies.
Chicago Fire Such a guilty pleasure procedural.  Extreme melodrama in every episode.

ABC

The Good Doctor I love this show about a young doctor who is trying to overcome his autism in order to practise medicine.  Freddie Highmore is wonderful as Dr. Shaun Murphy.

Fox

9-1-1  Surprisingly good show about Emergency Services personnel and the wide range of cases they deal with.  Incredible cast includes Peter Krause, Connie Britton and Angela Bassett.

The X-Files Not loving this one any more.  I took 3 days to finish watching the last episode.  Slow and boring.  Way too much conspiracy for me.

FX – New Series Alert!!!

American Crime Story:  The Assassination of Gianni Versace This will be the second series of the Ryan Murphy production, following The People v. O.J. Simpson. The wonderful cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Darren Criss, Ricky Martin, and Penelope Cruz.  I will be watching this week when it debuts on FX.  Episode 1 is already available On Demand.

Moments of Zen

I am currently watching CBS Sunday Morning.  The panel with Oprah Winfrey addresses the question of Time’s Up and where this movement is going.  Colbert, Noah, Seth Meyers, et al are all having a field day with the endless tweets coming from the Trumpocracy.  I am a little Michael Wolfed (Fire and Fury) out and have just started to read excerpts from David Frum’s book (Trumpocracy).  Real Time with Bill Maher will return to HBO this Friday January 19.  Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will return to TBS/Comedy Channel in Canada on January 17.

Closing Words

George and I had the great pleasure of brunching out this morning (best blintzes I have ever had) followed by a morning on 3rd Street in Naples’ historic downtown district watching adorable pups participate in a trade show/parade for dogs.  Never before, have I seen so many dogs parading by in costume and in nicer strollers than I ever had for my children.  So much fun!!  This week we are celebrating our friends’ wedding anniversary at a new neighbourhood restaurant and also taking in a performance of Gershwin’s An American in Paris at the Artis Naples centre.  The week will include all the regular activities (Mahjong, Golf, Bocce, etc.)  Enjoy every moment of your week, wherever you are!  Love, strength and hope to my very dear friends who are coping with health challenges.  Hugs always.

Polar Vortex/ Bomb Cyclone /Bombogenesis Chill hits Florida!

It takes very little inducement for me to opt to spend a cozy afternoon and/or evening under a throw on a couch across from the warmth of a flickering TV screen. As a result, I have been sampling a few of the Nordic, French, and Belgian noir series on Netflix while staying warm in the unusually chilly Naples weather.

News Alert: Countdown to the Oscars

Awards season gets under way as the Golden Globes air tonight (Jan 7) at 8 pm on NBC with Seth Meyers hosting. The Me Too movement is expected to be an underlying theme this year with female nominees and presenters having agreed to wear black. The Red Carpet banter about designers may be a little different. Seth Meyers will be closely watched as the Harvey Weinstein/Kevin Spacey et al sexual impropriety scandals are addressed. To read a Dateline Hollywood article on the sexual misconduct scandal and its possible effect on the Golden Globes, here’s an article you may be interested in:

On Eve Of Golden Globes, Hollywood Women Fear Backlash For Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault Accusers

On the Big Screen/Streaming

Victoria and Abdul This charming film with Judi Dench is perfect viewing when you are in need of an afternoon nap!  The British accents and period costumes will lull you to sleep before you know it.  Dame Judi can now do this sort of period role (her first outing as Queen Victoria was in Mrs. Brown) in her sleep and she is very likely to get an Oscar nomination for her performance.  A little known episode in the history of the British Empire.

The Disaster Artist  This wacky film about the making of the worst film in history features magnificent performances from both James and David Franco.  Based on the making of The Room,  you will swoon over the very strange accent of James Franco as the director and star Tommy Wiseau (Polish, maybe?). For passionate film lovers only, as this is such an odd film to watch as they replicate one of the biggest bombs in movie history. Cringe inducingly funny.

Netflix

Netflix is a treasure trove for crime series. I have thoroughly enjoyed several Nordic noir series from Scandinavia (The Bridge, The Killing, Lava Field and Trapped among them). The British have the crime series genre down to an art with Netflix currently listing everything from Sherlock, Luther, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, Paranoid, The Fall and many others. Scrolling through the British TV series, you can access at least 30 relatively new crime series here. I’ve watched a few French crime series (Spiral, The Revenants, Witnesses, etc) that I really enjoyed, but I don’t think they are in the same league with the British and Scandinavians.

The Frozen Dead, for example, is a rather disappointing French noir miniseries. I did think the acting was kind of awful and by the end, I didn’t much care who did what to whom. Great photography of the French Pyrrhenees in winter!

Lovesick Season 3 is a British comedy series and it is back with six new episodes.  I can’t believe I binged on the whole thing. I love these young attractive British people! Especially Johnny Flynn (aka Young Einstein on the National Geographic series Genius). If you’re wondering why Evie is so familiar, Antonia Thomas is a regular (Dr. Claire Browne) on The Good Doctor on ABC.

Black Mirror has returned for its fourth season with 5 new episodes. I can only watch this scary Twilight Zonesque series in small doses because I find it too dark and haunting. I did enjoy the first episode which is a darkly clever Star Trek parody starring Jesse Plemons (Fargo, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, etc).

Bordertown is another Nordic noir miniseries from Finland. I can’t believe I binged on the whole thing! I absolutely love this series with its very eccentric lead detective who has moved from the bright lights of Helsinki to a small town on the border of Russia for a quieter life. What could go wrong? Why do so many dead bodies pop up in small towns? Three separate cases in the first 11 episodes. Highly addictive, these slow burning Finns.

The End of the Fxxxking World New series alert. Darkly funny and nihilistic British miniseries about two teen misfits on the run. It grows on you!

The Break is a noir crime series from Belgium (like Hotel Beau Sejour which I loved). Too dark, dour and uninteresting to me, so I gave up during the third episode. I found all the characters uncompelling, especially the lead character Peeters, the detective.

Case is a Nordic noir 9-hour miniseries from Iceland about the investigation into the death of a 14-year-old ballerina by hanging. Something is indeed rotten in Reykjavik, where child pornography rings abound and young teenage girls are subject to every kind of abuse. Stay tuned for the multiple twist endings. You’ve got to love the actors in this one who all actually look like real people, especially the lead actress (Steinunn Olina Porsteinsdottir) who is pleasingly plump and who is usually snacking/stress eating on something.

CMT/W in Canada

Nashville returns for its last season. Let the country music melodrama continue and conclude for one last season! Who knew there could be so many car crashes, plane crashes, unrequited love stories, etc. No wonder there are so many hurting songs in the country genre! Rayna James may have died in a tragic car crash last year (don’t be sad as Connie Britton has resurfaced with continuing roles on SMILF and 9-1-1), but the rest of the cast gamely struggles on without her. What will happen to Deacon, the two real-life sisters from Ontario who play Maddie and Daphne, Scarlett and Gunnar, Juliette and Avery, and all the others? Stay tuned as I sense that CMT will resolve all the storylines in a soothing fashion.

CBS All Access/Netflix outside US/other streaming platforms

Star Trek:Discovery returns to continue its first season tonight. As I am one of Jason Isaacs’ biggest fans, I can’t recommend this show highly enough. Enjoy.

Fox

Full disclosure re my reminder above for Star Trek: Discovery –  I am enjoying The Orville, Seth McFarlane’s Star Trek parody on Fox almost as much! I find it extraordinarily clever and irreverent in its treatment of Star Trek‘s many subjects and themes as it gives them a uniquely McFarlane twist. Season 2 will return for another 14 episodes in 2018.

X Files returns for a new season (11)! So lame. So much dull voiceover exposition. David Duchovny is getting so old! Apparently, the rest of season 11 is much better than episode 1.

9-1-1 is a new series from Ryan Murphy that intends to inspire rather than just shock and appall (Nip and Tuck, American Horror Story, Feud, etc). Amazing cast with Peter Krause, Connie Britton, Angela Basset. More than just another police procedural. It brought a tear to my eye. Connie Britton is a revelation as the emergency services operator.

A New Season of TV shows begins in January

There are many summaries of the new TV series that are starting in 2018. Entertainment Weekly has an extensive listing with all the debuts. Here is an article from the NYTimes about how difficult it is to keep up with TV content these days:

Guillermo Del Toro Watch

While back in Toronto over the holidays, I had a chance to see The Shape of Water by this amazing Mexican director, followed almost immediately after by a trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the exhibition of Del Toro’s collections. Here are two links to articles about his celebrations of fantasy and the macabre:

https://ago.ca/exhibitions/guillermo-del-toro

The NY Times article replicates a visit to the AGO exhibition, which is very handy considering that today is the last day of that show, so it can come to you, rather than you trekking down to the Gallery in subzero conditions:

I loved The Shape of Water which is a creature feature with great heart and soul as a mute woman falls in love with a gill creature from the Amazon. Like much of Del Toro’s work of fantasy, the film is hard to describe, but impossible to forget. I’m rooting for it to take home some awards from tonight’s Golden Globes and the upcoming Oscars.

If you want to fill in some gaps with your Del Toro watching, much of his work can be found on Netflix and other streaming services, including the Victorian Gothic Crimson Peak (starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, Pacific Rim (starring Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam), his Spanish language masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth, The Strain, The Devil’s Backbone, Mimic, and several others. His work contains unforgettable images, so be warned if you are not a fan of fantasy and horror.

Zen Moments

CBS Sunday Morning had a great show last week, including its In Memoriam salute to the departed. I assume today’s first show of 2018 will be a fresh step forward into the new year. Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert have returned to late night with timely humour, and I assume Samantha Bee, John Oliver, and Bill Maher will not be far behind.

Closing Words

In Treviso Bay, a new year also begins. I am hosting coffee tomorrow for our newcomers; organized mahjong and golf begin again; my husband is forcing me to remember how to play Euchre again; our Bocce League begins for another season. I still haven’t found time to pick up my Pickleball racket, but I have been making it to our gym for our fantastic selection of classes. Wherever you are, enjoy every moment of this wonderful new year! Hope, strength and courage to my many friends facing health challenges at this time.