Unexpected change of plans…

This past week ended up being a crazy week for us which resulted in our leaving Thornbury prematurely to head back to Toronto.  George’s mother went by ambulance to hospital following a fall and we raced back to the city to meet her in the emergency department. We’re still waiting for more test results and they are observing her for possible heart ailments. In light of that, I am a little discombobulated re recommendations for your viewing pleasure but I will do my best. I will try to concentrate on programming that may have escaped your attention.

Streaming

Killing Eve This terrific BBC series is airing now on BBC America and will come to Bravo later this season. It stars Canadian actress Sandra Oh as an MI6 operative on the trail of a Russian serial killer. Both the cat and mouse in this spy tale are women! Here’s an article from the NYTimes about this great series:

Netflix

Safe I am still enjoying this British series about a teenager who has disappeared, but I must admit, Michael C. Hall’s British accent is beginning to grate on me.  The series is set in Manchester, but most of the characters speak as though they are from London.  Hall has chosen a Contemporary Received Pronunciation accent and he does wobble a bit almost veering into Cockney at times. Why wouldn’t they just hire a Brit? Better than Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins though!
Seven Seconds This 10-episode Netflix original suspense series begins when tensions run high between African American citizens and Caucasian cops in Jersey City when a teenage African American boy is critically injured by a cop.  I can’t believe they are going to take 10 episodes to tell this story as we already know who the perpetrator and victim are.  Interesting casting as one of my favourite Aussie actors David Lyons (Revolution) has been cast as the villainous head of the narcotics squad. I honestly don’t know if I will stay with this one as the first episode was very grim to watch.

Amazon

Loudermilk This 10 episode comedy series centers on Sam Loudermilk (Ron Livingston), a recovering alcoholic and substance abuse counsellor with a bad attitude.  I did watch all 10 episodes of Season 1 in two days, so that’s how much I enjoyed this one.

HBO

A Dangerous Son This documentary follows three families, each coping with a child affected by serious emotional or mental illness.  The families explore treatment opportunities and grapple with the struggle of living with their child’s condition.  Heartbreaking.
CB Strike This week will feature the premiere of a new 8-episode  BBC series based on JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith novels the Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil. War veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike solves brutal murders with the help of his trusted assistant Robin Ellacott.  Ooh a new British suspense series to devour!
Westworld Season 2 is action packed and complex.  The robots are revolting! Put away that electronic device and give it your full attention!
Sweetbitter I am loving this 6-episode series about a young woman who learns how crazy it is to work in a restaurant in NYC.
Vida I am loving this 7-episode series about two sisters in East LA.
Billions The cat and mouse game between US Attorney and Hedge Fund King continues in its third season.
Patrick Melrose This 5-episode miniseries is based on the Parrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn.  Benedict Cumberbatch delivers his usual tour-de-force performance as a man who survives childhood sexual abuse to become a world class addict in maturity.

The CW

The 100  and IZombie I love both of these series which are aimed at a much younger demographic.  They are both fun escapist guilty pleasure series.

W

The Good Fight Great show about a struggling law firm. Sequel to The Good Wife.

Bravo

Hard Sun This 6-episode suspense miniseries from the BBC tells the story of two detectives with opposing viewpoints who are forced to work together in a pre-apocalyptic criminal world.
The Handmaid’s Tale Dark and post-apocalyptic tale of a future where women are enslaved to bear children for their sterile overseers.  Harrowing!
Imposters Great show about con artists.

FX

Legion This series is now so seriously bat shit crazy that even Dan Stevens’ dreamy blue eyes are no longer a sufficient draw for me.
The Americans There is only one episode left in this amazing 6-season series.  The FBI is closing in on Elizabeth and Philip Jennings who are Russian agents firmly embedded in their American covers as an all-American family living in Washington, DC.

Superchannel

Mr. Mercedes Wow, this series from Audience is terribly dark as it tells the story of a psychopathic killer who drives a stolen Mercedes into a crowd and a recently retired detective who tries to bring him down. The great Irish actor Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful) are engaged in a cat and mouse game that leaves a trail of destruction.

Space

Colony This scifi series is now in its third season.  Aliens have invaded and taken over various regions in the US.  A resistance rises to fight back.
The Expanse This scifi series is now in its third season.  Earth and Mars are at war and there is a mysterious weapon being developed whose capacity for destruction is unprecedented.

Comic Relief

Still enjoying my favourite satirists (Colbert, Noah, Maher, Bee, Jeffries, Oliver) who manage to find comedy in the events of the day.

Closing Words

Summer is finally here! Time to dig out those summer clothes, slather on the sunscreen and enjoy the great outdoors. Looking forward to a week of golf, fitness,  and gatherings with friends. I am hoping that my mother-in-law feels better soon as she recovers in hospital. Hugs to all of you facing medical challenges!

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They’re married!

Superchannel

Deep State This series from Britain debuts tonight.  What happens when a man who believes he has retired from MI6 is called back to do one more job to regain his life, only to discover that this job may mean he has no life to go back to.  Stars Mark Strong.
Mr. Mercedes This 21 episode series from Britain tells the story of a psychopathic killer who drives a stolen Mercedes into a crowd and a recently retired detective who tries to bring him down.

W

The Good Fight This wonderful sequel to The Good Wife is set in Chicago and continues with Christine Baranski playing Diane Lockhart.  Her struggles this season include killings of lawyers, her marriage, living with the reality of Trump politics, etc.

Comic Relief and Zen

As always, I recommend keeping abreast of current events through the filter screen of comedy, including Colbert, Noah, Bee, Oliver, Jeffries, Maher and Meyers. Both CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes continue to provide palatable human interest stories and current events coverage while informing and inspiring.

 

Closing Words

We are off to collect our flowers today from Riverside Greenhouse in Heathcote for my annual foray into container gardening. I know some people love gardening and find it both therapeutic and relaxing. Me, I find it a very easy way to throw my back out!! Fingers crossed that our weather continues to gently warm up and that overnight deep freezes are a thing of the past as I’m not up for dragging heavy pots across my garden to put them to bed for the night. It looks like it will be a great week and we will be continuing with all our regular activities which now include Canasta which a very patient group of women are teaching me.  Hugs to all my friends dealing with medical challenges.  Have a wonderful week wherever you are!

Lots of new programming…

This week I’m going to concentrate on what’s new and noteworthy.  It’s been a very busy week with two golf course celebratory openings (both Lambton and the Georgian Bay Club welcomed back their members with exhausting golf events), lots of time with friends including a rousing Trivial Pursuit night, a night at the movies, etc.  Spring has finally sprung here, so in addition to being outdoors every possible moment, here are a few recommendations for your weekly viewing:

On the Big Screen

Finding Your Feet I attended this British comedy with a group of friends who almost all enjoyed it thoroughly.  It’s aimed at the same audience of older viewers who enjoyed the Marigold Hotel films, Victoria & Abdul, Quartet, etc.  This feel-good film is profoundly predictable.  There are dance scenes that will make you squirm with discomfort (especially the one involving motorized wheelchairs), surprise disclosures of terminal illness, glossed over depictions of Alzheimers, etc.  This film is so contrived that it’s difficult to give it praise for some of the things it does well.  I loved the scenes of London that included Bif’s small flat and Charlie’s canal boat.  The cast is superb and includes Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Tim Spall, and Joanna Lumley. There is little nuance here, but it is one of the few films today that is aimed squarely at an adult audience, so if you want a lame romantic comedy to attend when you are feeling out of touch with today’s super hero movies, here’s an alternative film to see.

Streaming

The Greatest Showman is a musical with Hugh Jackman that was released to almost universal scorn from critics but was loved by many audiences.  The songs are melodic, every single one done in an overblown showstopping way; the choreography is hiliariously contemporary for a story taking place in the early years of the century.  The film is done at a fever dream pace which never slows down.  My husband and I found it delightfully entertaining and I must admit, I could watch the aerial lovesong between Zac Effron and Zendaya again!

New on PBS

Little Women is one of my favourite books from childhood and this latest TV adaptation debuts tonight on Masterpiece Theatre.  I am eagerly anticipating this British adaptation of the classic novel.  Fingers crossed that this one holds up although the advance reviews favour the 1994 film adaptation directed by Gillian Anderson.

New on Netflix

Safe is a new 8-episode TV series original to Netflix.  It stars Michael C. Hall (Dexter) as a  widowed British surgeon whose daughter disappears from a gated community outside London.  Once you get over the shock of Hall’s accent, the show is pretty watchable.  Dark secrets will be uncovered….
The Chalet I just started watching this one yesterday and am already up to Episode 3 of 6 episodes.  I have to admit I am loving this Gallic suspense series.  A reunion of childhood friends at a remote chalet in the French Alps soon turns into a desperate struggle for survival as they get cut off from the rest of the world and a shocking dark secret from the past surfaces.

New on HBO

Vida is a 7-episode series.  This show follows the life of two Mexican-American sisters, Emma and Lyn, from the Eastside of Los Angeles who couldn’t be more different or distanced from each other.  Loving it!
Patrick Melrose is a 5-episode series from Showtime which is based on the novels of Edward St. Aubyn.  The first episode “Bad News” debuted last night and is a graphic depiction of a 22-year-old dealing with heroine and cocaine addiction.  Benedict Cumberbatch is the star and is compulsively watchable in his struggles.
Sweetbitter is a 6-episode series about a young woman who learns how crazy it is to work in a restaurant in NYC. Great cast features Ella Purnell as the achingly beautiful star, Tom Sturridge playing the mysterious Jake and Paul Sparks (House of Cards) as the imperious restaurant owner.

Regular Viewing

Superchannel

Mr Mercedes Brendan Gleeson stars as a retired police detective playing a cat and mouse game with the psychopathic killer who drove a Mercedes into a crowd.

HBO

Rellik continues to tell the story in refers of how a team of detectives try to hunt down a serial killer.

Bravo

Hard Sun is a 6-episode series showing two detectives with opposing viewpoints who are forced to work together in a pre-apocalyptic criminal world.  Tom Sturridge (Sweetbitter) stars.

CTV

The Detail is a 10-episode police procedural about three female homicide detectives who solve crimes while also dealing with their personal lives.

Fox

Gotham is now in its fourth season. It’s an original story showing Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon and all the Batman villains before they became the icons of the comic books.  Dark, gothic and campy, this show is full of humour.  Love it.

The CW

The 100 is now in its fifth season showing incredibly attractive young people trying to survive in space after an apocalypse.  Great cast features Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco,   Henry Ian Cusick, etc.
Riverdale is nearing the end of its second season.  Its a darker, sexier, more violent Riverdale than was ever depicted in the Archie comics.  Compulsively watchable!

Comic Relief

Colbert, Noah, Bee, Jeffries, Maher, and Oliver are all my mainstays when I need to see the funny in today’s news.  Shoutout to Seth Meyers whose “A Closer Look” segments can be found on You Tube.

Zen Moments

CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes are two newsmagazine shows that always inspire and inform.

Closing Words

It’s a busy week for Royals Watchers.  The big wedding is coming up next Saturday May 19!  I will be having a pre-wedding send-off for the couple by holding a Royal Luncheon featuring fascinators and scones for my long-time friends. It’s been a return to routine with fitness, walking group, Mahjong and golf.  Enjoy this very fine weather wherever you are.  Special hugs for my friends dealing with major medical challenges.  Happy Mother’s Day to all my family and friends who are being celebrated today.  Put your feet up with a good book, movie or TV show after being feted by your family.  Enjoy the accolades!

Uplifting and satisfying…

OK, I realize that last week’s blog was kind of sad.  I was truly in a malaise about the state of affairs on TV.  Everything is so bleak.  Characters are so flawed. Plot lines are dense and confusing.  Storylines are told in so many episodes when things could be condensed and told in far less time.  As a result, I am going to concentrate on viewing experiences this week that are a little more positive.  Here are some recommendations:

Live Theatre

Fun Home (short for funeral home) is the musical that is currently playing at the CAA Theatre in Toronto. It was the 2015 Tony Best Musical Award winner.  While the music is not always terribly memorable or melodic, the show is incredibly moving as it tells the story of a family that struggles with the sexual identities of both a father and a daughter.  The three actresses cast as the daughter from childhood to middle aged are wonderful and their harmonies when they get to sing together will bring a tear to your eye. Worth seeing.

Heartwarming &/or Good vs Evil

Here are some shows you might like to catch up with as they avoid some of the nihilistic tendencies of many of the shows that are getting me down:
Call the Midwife 
The Good Fight I must make special mention of this season’s current story line as it has featured an investigation into the existence of the Golden Showers videotape and there is a great article in The Daily Beast:
Billions
Howard’s End
Rise
Arrow
Gotham
The 100
Mr Mercedes
The Americans
The Crossing
Designated Survivor
Chicago Fire
Chicago Med
The Resident
The Good Doctor
Silicon Valley
Modern Family
The Handmaid’s Tale
Rellik
Imposters

Plus Special Mention of Nearly All PBS Programming

Although I did mention Call the Midwife as leading the list above, PBS is also the home of much entertaining programming that doesn’t depress or confuse.  Their  dramas and mysteries on Masterpiece Theatre and Masterpiece Mystery will provide many hours of viewing bliss and all are available through shop.pbs.org:

Dramas

Victoria, The Child in Time, Man in an Orange Shirt,  Little Women (upcoming), Downton Abbey, Poldark, Breathless, A Room with a View, Great Expectations, Edwin Drood, Mansfield Park, Anna Karenina, Birdsong, Poldark, The Durrells in Corfu, The Collection, My Mother and other Strangers, King Charles III, Home Fires, To Walk Invisible, Mr. Selfridge, Indian Summers, Churchill’s Secret, Foyle’s War, Sense & Sensibility, Worricker, Arthur & George, Wolf Hall, The Forsyte Saga, Death Comes to Pemberley, The Jewel in the Crown, Inspector Lewis,  The Paradise, Poirot, The Escape Artist, Silk, Upstairs, Downstairs, Love in a Cold Climate, Bleak House, I, Claudius, Far from the Madding Crowd, Page Eight, Wuthering Heights, Any Human Heart, The Diaries of Anne Frank, Goodnight Mister Tom, Cranford, Little Dorrit, God on Trial, The Last Enemy, Northanger Abbey, The Wind in the Willows, Elizabeth 1: The Virgin Queen, Middlemarch, Pollyanna, Our Town, Wives and Daughters, Last Tango in Halifax, etc.

Mysteries

Endeavour, Grantchester, Prime Suspect, Tennison, Sherlock, Wallander, Inspector Lewis, Miss Marple, Case Histories, Zen, Framed, Endgame, Collision, Heat of the Sun, The Turn of the Screw, A Thief of Fire, Coyote Waits, Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries, Rebecca, Skinwalkers, The Tunnel, Unforgotten (which is one of the few Masterpiece Mysteries I have hated), Dark Angel, Midsomer Murders, Marcella, The Widower, etc.

Plus PBS public affairs series

PBS News Hour, Nova, Frontline, American Experience, Independent Lens, Great Performances, etc.

Public Affairs across the other broadcasters

CBC offers a host of great programs like The Fifth Estate, The Passionate Eye, The Nature of Things, CBC Docs POV, etc.

CTV offers  WFive.

TVO offers The Agenda, and innumerable documentaries, historical series, science and technology shows, etc.

CBS offers my very favourite show CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, Face the Nation, etc.

NBC offers Meet the Press, Today, Dateline, etc.

CNN offers Fareed Zakaria GPS, Reliable Sources, State of the Union, etc.

ABC offers Good Morning America, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Nightline, etc.

Special Shout out to Netflix

Netflix has become a provider of some great shows like The Crown, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Peaky Blinders, Making a Murderer, Jessica Jones, The Great British Bake Off, The Good Place, The Fall, Sense 8, Luke Cage, Riverdale, The Honourable Woman, The Killing, Love, Queer Eye, Ozark, Tabula Rasa, Portlandia, Sons of Anarchy, Bloodline, 13 Reasons Why, Shameless, Luther, Broadchurch, Grace and Frankie, Extras, Daredevil, Everything Sucks, Rectify, Mindhunter, Master of None, American Crime Story: People vs OJ Simpson, The Walking Dead, Godless, Better Call Saul, Mad Men, Freaks and Geeks, Breaking Bad, etc.

Don’t forget about Amazon Prime Video

I keep forgetting that we actually subscribe to this network and that I have seen several of their shows like The Man in the High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, Red Oaks, Orphan Black, Goliath, Catastrophe, Mr. Robot, Transparent, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Justified, The Americans, Veep, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, The Wire, etc.

Comic Relief

You have to hand it to the political satirists who can interpret the day’s events and manage to add comic spin. My favourites are Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Jim Jeffries, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers. SNL had a great opening sketch this past week which actually featured Stormy Daniels playing herself in a telephone conversation with Trump and his hapless lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Closing Words

It’s a beautiful day in Thornbury today.  Yesterday was spent walking our golf course and dining with friends.  Today it’s errand running and then a trip into Blue Mountain village for dinner with friends.  This week will be a mixture of golf, mahjong, both a Trivial Pursuit night with my fitness friends and a movie night to see Finding Your Feet, dental appointments and some miscellaneous get-togethers with friends.  Enjoy this beautiful spring day wherever you are!  Hugs to my friends dealing with medical challenges.