Twas 10 days before Christmas…

We’ve had a lovely time seeing lots of family and friends over the last week.  Thornbury celebrated its Old Fashioned Christmas yesterday and we walked into town twice to experience the joys of a small town Christmas.  What started out as a cold, crisp blue sky winter day morphed into a full-scale blizzard by the afternoon and the whole town was blanketed by a fresh layer of snow by evening. Picture perfect for enjoying hot cider as the tree was lit at City Hall accompanied by a pipe and drum band. As for my viewing recommendations, here goes:

Live Theatre

Our family enjoyed seeing the Broadway-bound musical Come From Away. Set in Gander, Nfld on 9/11 and the five days following, the musical tells the story of the 7000 stranded air passengers who were grounded by the closing of US airspace.  They were looked after by the 9000 people of Gander who fed and housed them.  The show is heartwarming and conveys the generous and joyous spirit of the Newfoundlanders who showed such kindness and compassion for their guests.  Great Nfld humour and song.  We had spent 2 weeks touring Nfld last summer, so the show was a great reminder of what a wonderful people the Newfoundlanders are.  The show heads to Broadway in January (I fear for it given how little Americans know and care about Canada), so fingers crossed that it’s a great success.

On the Big Screen

Moana is a very sweet Disney musical with songs penned by Lin Manuel Miranda of Broadway’s Hamilton. In ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right. The music is very pleasant and the singing is terrific.  On the whole, I found the film a little slow.  The theme is really one of female empowerment and I don’t know how much little boys will identify with the film’s heroine, but they will love the Maui character who is voiced by Dwayne Johnson (The Rock of Fast and Furious fame).  Auli’l Cravalhoa is spectacular in the lead role of Moana, but Dwayne Johnson holds his own as Maui.

Netflix

Given the blizzardy nature of our weather in Thornbury yesterday, it was the perfect excuse to binge on Fauda (Arabic for chaos).   The Israeli series is told in 12 episodes of about 40 minutes each. It depicts the two-sided story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Doron, a commander of an undercover Israeli unit operating inside Palestinian territories, and his team, are hunting down Hamas activist Abu-Ahmed.  On the other side of the fence, it depicts the tragic life of Abu-Ahmed and his family , and the reasons for their escalating hatred towards Israel.  Great suspense series, but probably not everyone’s cup of tea.  It’s told with subtitles for Arabic and is dubbed into English for the Hebrew scenes.  The dubbing is rather flat and takes a little getting used to.

Streaming

I watched the remake of The Magnificent Seven which recently opened the Toronto International Film Festival. It retells the story of seven gun men in the old west who gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.  With an all-star cast that features Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, etc., the film is a very strange remake of the 1960 film with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, full of stereotypes and seeming very stale despite the endless barrage of violence.  It was very odd to watch this having just watched the last episode of Westworld on Netflix.  Westworld takes all the Western tropes and plays them out to an extreme degree.  That is equally true of this film.  I was curious to see the film for the performance of Haley Bennett in the lead role of Emma Cullen who is motivated by the senseless killing of her husband in the opening scene to organize the rebellion of the town to overthrow the ruthless despot who is intent on driving the villagers away.  I first heard about Bennett from her mother who was my drapery designer in Naples, Florida.  When we  chatted about our children, Lani Bennett mentioned that her daughter was a movie star who would be coming out in several movies this year.  I had caught up with her in The Equalizer (20l4 also with Denzel Washington), but her more recent releases include Hardcore Henry, A Kind of Murder, The Girl on the Train, Rules Don’t Apply, Weightless, and Thank You for Your Service.  I have to say that Bennett’s performance in this film is a little lacklustre.  One wonders how much ended up being edited out in favour of the endless violence that makes up most of the plot.  She resembles Jennifer Lawrence very strongly and it will be interesting to see how similar their career trajectories are.

New Blood is a British  BBC TV series starring Mark Addy and Anna Chancellor.  It follows junior investigators Stefan and Rash,who are brought together by a link between two seemingly unrelated cases.  A buddy series in the Odd Couple vein.  Very cute and fast moving, Season 1 has 7 episodes and involves 3 cases.  Worth a look for crime series fans.

Younger (TVLand), Berlin Station (Epix) and Chance (Hulu) all continue to keep me entertained.

As for my Network picks, things are dying down as Christmas programming takes over.  I managed to catch Designated Survivor (ABC) where intrigue abounds around Kiefer Sutherland who has managed to hang on to his Presidency despite many hazards coming his way.  Chicago Fire (NBC) had a happy cliff-hanger ending for its last pre-Christmas episode show.  I haven’t managed to catch up with many other shows that I recorded but haven’t watched yet including Arrow, Shooter, etc.

Audible.com

We are currently listening to Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Noah tells the story of his childhood, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.  I am loving his story, narrated in his own voice.  I think Noah is a great host for The Daily Show (which he took over after Jon Stewart’s departure).  It’s inspiring to hear him recount the many obstacles that faced him growing up in a country where miscegenation was a very serious crime. His love and admiration for his mother is incredibly touching.

Comedy Therapy

I continue to seek out Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal, Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show (as described above), and Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, as they all manage to find humour in the looming Trumpocalypse .  This week’s SNL had a great cold opener which starred Bryan Cranston (aka Walter White on Breaking Bad) as the newly nominated head of the DEA because of his background as a high school chemistry teacher. I was looking forward to seeing Alec Baldwin as Trump, the newly named Time Person of the Year, President Elect of the Divided States of America.  However, Bryan Cranston did a great job as the meth dealing Walter White.  Sadly, this is not far from the possible, as Trump seems to be nominating people who are distinguished by their antipathy towards the federal departments they are supposed to be leading.  Very scary.  Truth is stranger than fiction?

Closing Words

My usual Christmas funk is descending upon me.  I haven’t done a thing regarding Christmas preparations and I’m starting to get a little worried.  The thought of entering a mall at this time of year fills me with great trepidation.  Thank goodness for gift cards!!!  Lots of get-togethers with friends and family this week and our big Hungarian celebration is happening next Sunday with the Uxbridge relatives.  In the meantime, stay warm wherever you may be, and be careful on the roads.  Remember, this season is all about family and friends, so enjoy the season and be thankful for the joys that you have.

Back in the North…

We left Naples on Wednesday and as soon as the car hit I-75, a very light rain started to fall.  Our first drops of rain after nearly 6 weeks of perfect Florida sunshine.  Happily, we returned to Toronto in the midst of surprisingly mild yet dismally gray weather.  To our great delight our living room furniture for our new condo, which had been ordered some 12 weeks ago, was finally delivered the day after our arrival.  I now have an actual sofa to stretch out on as I watch my many shows and movies. Our first drive up to Thornbury did involve driving through scattered flurries, but on otherwise dry roads.  We’ve been reconnecting with our Thornbury friends this weekend with a couple of great dinners and a lovely Christmas party at the local community centre. It’s been a bit of a crazy week, but here are a few recommendations for you:

On the Big Screen

As the Oscar recommendations begin to emerge, some articles have begun to list the must-see films of the year:

From Esquire:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a51197/december-movies-oscar-bait/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=120316

From the Globe:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/the-saviours-of-2016cinema/article33124184/

Netflix

Many people ask me what I like on Netflix so here is a list of the best British shows currently on Netflix:

The 15 Best British Shows On Netflix Right Now

John Doyle has a great column explaining why Paranoid is a great British crime show:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-looking-for-escapism-paranoid-is-an-ideal-brit-cop-binge-watch/article33051575/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

Streaming

A friend recommended The Kettering Incident to me. Set in Tasmania and starring Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager, The Man from UNCLE), this 8-part series follows Anna from London to Tasmania as she tries to solve the mystery of a friend who disappeared 15 years earlier in the Tasmanian forest.  The show is mysterious and puzzling as the plot unveils many other mysteries including police corruption, alien abductions, toxic waste dumping, etc.  The scenery is breathtaking and Debicki is spell binding in a kind of Tilda Swinton way.  Watch for her as she seems to be having an Alicia Vikander career moment and is poised on the verge of major stardom. I finished watching this series and did binge on the last several episodes of Season 1 as I got caught up in the mystery.

I have also been able to keep up with Chance (from Hulu with Hugh Laurie) and Berlin Station (from Epix with Richard Ermitage) by streaming them.

Audible.com

OK, so this isn’t exactly “watching” but George and I have decided that we are going to use our travel time more productively and are listening to podcasts and recorded books as often as we can.  Our first Audible.com book is Erik Larson’s Dead Wake:  The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  Poignant and suspenseful, Larson tells the story with great detail, painting a portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. This luxury liner is caught in WWI as a determined U-boat captain, whose movements are being tracked by British intelligence, pursues his quarry relentlessly, while the hapless passengers face imminent disaster. I didn’t enjoy this Larson book as much as I did several of his others including:  Isaac’s Storm, The Devil in the White City, In the Garden of Beasts, etc.

HBO

I’m a bit embarrassed (after prematurely announcing that last week’s episode was the last) to admit that there is still the final episode to be aired of Westworld tonight on HBO. Apparently all the mysteries are solved.

Shameless, The Affair, and Divorce all continue on HBO Sunday nights.

CBC

After 6 weeks of no CBC, I was delighted to catch up with This Life on demand.  This very touching series follows the story of a single mother who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  I was able to binge watch episodes 4 through 8 and so am totally caught up!  Tori Higginson is very appealing as Natalie Lawson, the lead character who is on a quest to prepare her teenage children for life without her.  Her tight-knit family – sister, two brothers and parents – do the best they can…  Episode 9 airs tonight on CBC.  An unexpected crisis leaves the Lawsons shaken, and the family rallies when a second situation arises, complicating things for Natalie.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) continues with Kiefer Sutherland as the man who would be President. Too many nefarious plot twists to list them.  Still entertained by this show.

The CW

OK, here’s where this blog gets a bit embarrassing as I confess my addiction to shows that are intended for a much younger demographic.  Still watching Arrow (Wednesday) and occasionally Supergirl (Monday) which had crossover episodes as they fought an invasion of aliens this week.

Fox

Another guilty pleasure show, Gotham (Mondays) continues to delight as Inspector Jim Gordon mentors the young Batman.

AMC

The Walking Dead (Sundays) continues its harrowing depiction of life in a world gone mad with zombies.  Our survivors keep finding themselves in peril as they encounter other survivors whose humanity has been destroyed by the new morality of survival at any cost.

NBC

Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) continues to show men of valour fighting the good fight in a simpler world where saving peoples’ lives is really the only thing that matters.  SNL continues to try and amuse re the incoming regime and Alec Baldwin does his very best to impersonate The Donald.

CBS

I think even Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show is having trouble finding amusement in today’s political scene.

Comedy Network

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs nightly Mon- Thurs at 11 and Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal returns Monday at 10:30 this week.  The Beaverton , a new Canadian comedy series that parodies the news, also airs regularly on Comedy.  I’m looking to see what channel People of Earth (on TBS in the US) airs on in Toronto, but haven’t found it yet.  Help someone, if you find this show, let me know.

Final Thoughts

It’s now a countdown to Christmas as we reconnect with family and friends.  We are headed to our annual family Broadway style musical as we are seeing Come From  Away this week before it heads to Broadway.  The Globe gives it a great review:

http://www.theglobeandmail. com/arts/theatre-and- performance/theatre-reviews/ come-from-away-heart-warming- musical-lives-up-to-the-hype/ article33012704/

I’m looking forward to seeing all my exercise gals for coffee at my place and then at our annual Christmas lunch.  Dinners with friends are a big feature this week so George and I are going to have to be very careful to avoid packing on the pounds as we reintroduce carbs into our diet.  Six weeks of regular exercise and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables made it easy to stay away from all the white things like sugar, pasta, rice, bread, cookies, etc.  Now that we are confronting Christmas baking and other delights on a daily basis, we are in a constant fight with temptation.  We must all stay strong as we try to resist these devilish urges.  Courage my friends!!  Enjoy the season.

 

Tidying up before we go…

Three days to go before we fly home.  In that time, we are catching up with friends and neighbours before we lose touch with them.  I have two more golf games to go, a few exercise classes to attend and a refrigerator to empty out.  Hard work, but someone’s got to do it.  This past week we had the great pleasure of travelling up to Sarasota, Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key to reconnect with our Thornbury friends who assembled en masse just before American Thanksgiving.  We got to see the fabulous Ringling Museum and had a great golf day at the Longboat Key Club.  We celebrated our first American Thanksgiving in our new Golf Clubhouse.  Best turkey ever, but the political discussion got a little overheated and I found myself a bit uncomfortable as Trump supporters were under barrage by our table full of liberal minded Canadians.  It has been hard for our Canadian friends to see how much support there is for Trump here, when the promises he has made seem so intolerant and harsh regarding immigration, healthcare, the environment, support for NATO and foreign trade agreements, etc.  Everyone is trying to remain positive and hope for the best despite the daily announcements regarding cabinet and civil service appointments being filled by candidates with incredibly right wing views.  Sigh… we shall see what happens as time goes on.

Netflix

The Crown has proven to be the perfect antidote to the Trumpocalypse.  If you haven’t watched this magnificent series yet, give it a try.  Here’s a link to a Toronto Star article that explains why watching this series is very therapeutic for you:

http://startouch.thestar.com/screens/b4786a4f-51d0-4b08-80ea-97248fe99a5e%7C_0.html

Streaming

Hell or High Water is a modern day Western set in West Texas and starring Jeff Bridges as a small town sheriff on the trail of two bank robbing brothers.  Suspenseful and sad, this film shows a portion of the disenfranchised US working class who were so unhappy with the economy that they took desperate measures to improve their situation. Sound familiar?  The film has been hailed as a small masterpiece and is extremely touching.

Chance is the great new show on Hulu that stars Hugh Laurie as a forensic psychiatrist who is drawn into a film noir scenario by a sultry woman with whom he is infatuated.

Berlin Station is a new series on Epic that stars Richard Armitage as a British spy operating in contemporary Berlin.

The Kettering Incident is a New Zealand TV series set in Tasmania and London about a woman who has survived an alien abduction. Very dark and mysterious.

TBS

Search Party is a 20 episode comedy series about five self-absorbed 20-somethings who become entangled in an ominous mystery when a former college acquaintance suddenly disappears.  It is available in its entirety on demand here.

People of Earth (Tuesdays) is a delightful comedy series about alien abductees.

TNT

Good Behaviour (Tuesday) is a noir suspense series that stars Michelle Dockery as an exconvict who is forced to work for a contract killer in the south.  Who knew Lady Mary from Downton Abbey had such range?  She is incredibly convincing as a down on her luck gal from the backwoods of Tennessee.

USA

Shooter (Tuesdays) stars Ryan Philippe as a former Marine sniper who has been framed for the assassination of a foreign leader.

PBS

Poldark (Sunday) is airing its last episode of the season tonight.  Set in Cornwall in the early 19th century, this former soldier tries to set things right in his ancestral home after he returns from military service.  Set in Cornwall and featuring lots of scenes of the tall, dark and handsome Aidan Turner riding his steed along the Cornwall cliffs while his tousled curls are gently tossed by the ocean breeze, this is one romantic period drama.

HBO

Westworld (Sunday) airs its last episode of the season tonight. It has gotten more and more bleak and mysterious as we find out what is really behind the robots’ rebellion.

Divorce (Sunday stars Sarah Jessica Parker) is a wry look at the conscious uncoupling of a suburban couple.

Showtime

The Affair (Sunday) stars Dominic West as a writer who is drawn into an affair that wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved.

The CW

Crossover episodes of all the CW superhero shows air this week, especially my fave, Arrow. True confession, I am addicted to Arrow (Wednesday).  I love Stephen Amell’s character, his 5 o’clock shadow, his costume and his hilarious ability with a bow and arrow. This week Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and DC Heroes of Tomorrow all join forces to defeat alien invaders.  What could go wrong?

Fox

Gotham (Monday) is a close second in my guilty pleasure list.  I love Benjamin Mackenzie’s sad faced Inspector Jim Gordon and the depiction of young Batman.  Great fun.

Final Thoughts

We are off to golf with Thornbury friends in Bonita Springs tomorrow.  It has been an absolutely glorious fall here in South West Florida with hardly a drop of rain or an overcast sky.  Our beach walks and sunset cocktails will soon be replaced by cautious steps on icy sidewalks and nights spent warming ourselves by the fireplace in Thornbury.  We are looking forward to the Old Fashioned Thornbury Christmas celebrations and lots of get-togethers with family and friends in both Toronto and ski country. A fond farewell to all our friends here and we look forward to returning for our New Year’s celebration which will be spent watching the fireworks on the Naples beach from the comfort of our favourite restaurant in the dockside area.  To all our travelling friends over the next month, safe journeys.  To all our  northern friends and family, stay warm and we will see you soon!

Our last week in Paradise…

We will head home next Wed. Nov. 30 to spend a month back in Canada, before we head back to Florida just in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  It has been a very strange week here in the time that has passed since the Election.  Everyone is on tenterhooks to see how the new Administration will shape up and there is much uncertainty about the state of the nation right now.  I have decided to remain hopeful that Trump cannot possibly follow through on all his election promises as they constitute major and expensive program and policy changes, not to mention the Wall, the deportation of millions, the rollback of Obamacare, etc. We shall have to wait and see.  In the meantime, I am going to highlight some of the films and programs I have been watching.

On the Big Screen

The Arrival is a very cerebral science fiction film with a time travelling twist.  Full disclosure:  I watched this film at our Mercato Silverspot Cinemas after dining at a restaurant (with an incredibly liberal Happy Hour policy) called Blue Martini.  The combination of two of the best Mojitos I have ever had plus the cinema’s incredibly comfortable reclining leather seats caused me to doze through much of the film.  From what I was actually conscious for, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are part of an effort to communicate with visiting alien spaceships and the movie is framed by references to their life together in the future.  Very mysterious and layered.  Not your usual alien invasion fare.

 

Netflix

The Fall is now complete in 3 seasons on Netflix.  I finally finished watching Season 3 this week.  Gillian Anderson (X Files) is haughty and complicated as a Police Detective from London assigned to Belfast to mount a case against a serial killer played by James Dornen (50 Shades of Grey). Season 3 is full of twists and turns and shockingly suspenseful bursts of violence.  The series simmers with lots of complex characters and a slowly unwinding plot.

Paranoid debuted on Netflix this week.  This British crime series is filled with cliches: older cop romances younger cop; eccentric witness becomes involved with cop; cops latch on to easy suspect; etc.  The dialogue for this series seems incredibly silly and the tone is very uneven with comic turns scattered amidst the investigators’ conversations.  I have made it through 3 episodes of 8 so far and will give it a further go before deciding whether I hang in for the whole series.

Streaming

As a way of escaping reality, I dipped into a few family films:

The BFG – I tried to watch this Spielberg film and had to admit defeat when the film kept stopping and eventually gave up.  I will come back to this one as it stars the great Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies Oscar winner).

Pete’s Dragon – tried to watch this Disney film and I was frustrated by constant stops.  From what I could see in the first 6 minutes or so, their is a very silly looking furry and cuddly dragon at the heart of the film.  I don’t think I need to watch the entire film.

The Secret Life of Pets – started watching this film and lasted through about 30 minutes.  The beginning of the film is adorable as we see the pets frolicking in their owners’ absence.  It then degenerates into an adventure film where the hero has been abducted and must be found.  I will watch the rest of the film, only when I can find a child willing to watch it with me.

NBC

SNL (Saturdays at 11:30) has been very watchable.  Last night’s show (hosted by Kristin Wiig) featured Alec Baldwin in the cold opening as his very popular Donald Trump character.  I think this sketch overshadowed the rest of the Thanksgiving themed show as it showed Trump coming to terms with the difficult task of carrying out his election promises.

Fox

The Exorcist (Fridays at 9) continues its silly way of showing the effort to exorcise a teenage girl who has become possessed by the devil.  Unintentionally hilarious!

TNT

Good Behaviour (Tuesdays at 9) stars Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary on Downton Abbey).  Dockery plays a down on her luck drug addict and grifter who is reluctantly forced to go into partnership with a contract killer.  Lady Mary, who knew you could convincingly play a Southern gal with a very dark side?!!

 

USA

Shooter (Tuesdays at 10) stars Ryan Philippe as a former Marine sniper framed for the assassination of a US President.  Intriguing!

Amazon Prime

Goliath starring Billy Bob Thornton is an 8 episode miniseries about a down on his luck lawyer who goes to war against a big corporation and his old law firm.  Very old fashioned in a way.  The ludicrous dialogue has made me decide to give up after 3 episodes.  For serious BBT fans only.

Hulu

Chance is an 11 episode miniseries starring Hugh Laurie as a forensic psychiatrist who gets drawn into the case of a femme fatale whose husband is a very bad man. I love Hugh Laurie and will watch him in anything!

TVLand

If you haven’t discovered Younger (Wednesdays at 10) yet, see if you can find it on demand or through streaming.  I am extremely amused by this comedy about a 40 something who must pretend to be a 26 year old in order to get a job in publishing.  Sutton Foster is delightful in the lead role.

Closing Words

I have been consciously looking for escape in film and television over the last week or so.  Art can be very therapeutic in working through pain and anxiety, so I recommend you all immerse yourself in something very joyous (try The Crown on Netflix if you haven’t discovered it yet).  It’s going to be a very busy week here for us as we gather with friends for soothing golf games, mahjong games, cocktails, dinners, etc.  If you’re in the South, enjoy the beautiful weather.  I will see my family and friends in the North soon and I look forward to lounging under an afghan on a comfortable couch and enjoying the holidays with all of our loved ones.

 

Trumpocalypse!!!

Well, the other night when 16 Canadians gathered in our living room in Florida to watch the election results, the election didn’t turn out exactly as we thought it would.  We were horrified to watch the spread of red states while Hillary’s progress slowed.  It has since been a week of quiet contemplation here.  Florida was one of the first states to be declared for Trump and Collier County where Naples is located was also one of the first counties to be declared Republican.  On our drive down from Toronto 3 weeks ago, we were dismayed to see the preponderance of Bush signs and the almost total absence of Clinton signs.  It’s going to be a very interesting period of adjustment to the incoming regime.  Can Trump actually act on all the hateful promises he has made?  We’ll have to wait and see if calmer heads will prevail re healthcare, the environment, foreign policy, tax cuts for the wealthiest, immigration, mass deportations, making America white again, etc.  Scary times!  In the meantime, I’m going to make some soothing recommendations re your tv watching.

 

Netflix

If you haven’t started bingeing on The Crown yet, please do yourself a favour and take a look.  We finished watching all 10 episodes of life in a simpler time, when tradition was everything and the world was in awe of the British royal family.  So nostalgic!  This is in the mode of Downton Abbey comfort viewing, but it’s all based on actual events.  For me, nothing says soothing like British accents and period costumes.

A Royal Night Out stars Canada’s own Sarah Gadon as Princess Elizabeth in 1945, the night of VE Day in London.  The two young princesses are allowed out of Buckingham Palace for one night to experience the celebrations with the common folk.  This is a very slight piece of entertainment, but if your The Crown viewing leaves you with an appetite for more royals, this may satisfy your craving.

PBS

These days Sunday nights on PBS the British rule in three different series:

The Durrells in Corfu follows the adventures of a expat British family trying to adjust to life on a Greek island in a ramshackle house surrounded by eccentric characters.  It is a delightful escape to a simpler time in a charming place.

Poldark is a romantic period piece set in the late 18th century and it follows the exploits of the swashbuckling former soldier Ross Poldark as he returns to Cornwall following his military service in the War of Independence. As played by the Irish actor Aidan Turner, he’s dark and brooding in a Heathcote kind of way.

Indian Summers  is set in India in the waning days of Empire.  British eccentrics abound as the country thrashes its way towards independence.

HBO

Great choices abound on Sunday nights:

Westworld is moving slowly to the inexorable rise of the robots.  There will be blood.

Divorce (starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church) details the increasingly unpleasant movement toward divorce of a yuppie couple.

Last Week Tonight (Sundays at 11) with John Oliver should be an amazing show tonight as Oliver will undoubtedly hilariously share his concerns regarding the upcoming term of office of President Trump.

Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays at 10, but on hiatus now until January).  This past Friday’s show was Maher and his panel trying to deal with the aftermath of the election.  Worth a look on demand, but you’ll have to hold your breath until January when the show will return.

Showtime

Masters of Sex (Sundays) is still following the career and lives of Masters and Johnson as they find themselves under siege from rival sex therapists who have stolen their methodologies.

Hulu

Chance stars Hugh Laurie as a forensic psychiatrist who is drawn into a case by a mysterious femme fatale.

Amazon Prime

Goliath stars Billy Bob Thornton as a downfallen attorney who seizes a chance for redemption in going up against a behemoth corporation.

AMC

The Walking Dead (Sundays) is trying to vary its tone from the terribly sad and violent opening episode of this season. Harrowing and gruelling to watch, this post apocalyptic tale of zombies threatening what’s left of mankind is not for everyone. Having started this journey, and stuck with it for 6 seasons, I can’t look away until this terrible tale comes to an end.

TVLand

Younger (Thursdays) is a great show about a 40 something woman masquerading as a 26 year old millennial in order to get a job in publishing. Great fun as it pokes fun at technology and the world of millennials. Sutton Foster is the lead and she is endearing.

FX

Better Things (Thursdays) is a great series about a working actress in Hollywood who is also a single mom raising three daughters. Funny and touching. The great Celia Imrie plays the grandmother.

FXX

You’re the Worst (Wednesdays) is about mismatched hipsters in LA. It was wonderful and fresh when it started, but I have tired of it and don’t know how much longer I will hang in with it.

NBC

The Good Place (Thursdays) is delightful as it tells the story of a young woman who has mistakenly ended up in Heaven, when she really deserves to be in Hell.

Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) is my unabashedly guilty pleasure show. Hunky firemen and ridiculous subplots abound.

The Blacklist (Thursdays) has run around in circles re the lead character’s parentage. I don’t care anymore. Just give Tom his own show!!!  Now on hiatus until January.

Saturday Night Live (Saturdays at 11:30) has used Alec Baldwin to portray Donald Trump this season and he has done a great job. Dave Chappelle hosted last night’s show.

TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Monday 10:30). Bee is wonderful at making devastating comments about the electoral process. Her post election special was full of her unyielding skepticism re the election results.

People of Earth (Tuesdays) debuted last week and is a hilarious sitcom about a support group for people who believe they are alien abductee survivors. Very cute.

CBS

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (nightly at 11:35) has been fabulous in the run-up to the election. Watching Colbert cope with the aftermath should be very entertaining.

Comedy

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon-Thurs at 11:00) has also done a great job leading up to the election. His post election analysis should be interesting to watch.

The CW

Arrow (Wednesdays) has me hooked and I only have one explanation. Stephen Amell is the lead and he is deliciously Canadian.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) stars Kiefer Sutherland as a man who didn’t want to be President who has the job thrust upon him. Still intriguing.

Final Words

It has been a whirlwind 3 weeks here.  The weather has been amazingly sunny and hot.  This week promises to be fairly action packed: tonight we are headed to the beach for a neighbours’ sunset cocktails and appetizers; on Monday Mahjong continues; Tuesday I am playing my usual ladies’ day golf; on Wednesday we are participating in a Canadians only golf tournament and dinner; on Thursday there is a cocktail party being hosted at our glam clubhouse by a developer who is building a new gated community of high end housing in the middle of our golf course; on Friday we’ll be out to dinner with friends at a waterfront seafood eatery. Plus there’s a fitness class every day of the week!!  I think I’m going to need a break in Canada to get ready for Christmas.  Until next week, enjoy the seasonal weather wherever you are and if you have a chance (and have Netflix), take a look at The Crown as it will offer you 10 hours of escape from the anxiety of our times.

 

 

 

Oh my goodness…

Well, this should be a very memorable week to be in Florida, the battleground state.  I will be hosting a get-together here for our Canadian neighbours on Election Night.  We have learned to be very circumspect in our comments on the political scene, as many of our neighbours are decidedly conservative in their views.  Last year at this time, I couldn’t believe that there was still a year to go of election campaigning.  Just today, the Comey revelations appear to be much ado about nothing, to Clinton’s despair, I’m sure.  Fingers crossed that the best woman wins.  In the meantime here are some recommendations for your viewing pleasure:

On the Big Screen

Both George and I really enjoyed reading the novel A Man Called Ove.  We were delighted to be able to attend the film yesterday and I thought it was a great adaptation.It is a wonderful tale about Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated Swedish retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave.  He has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbours. Bring out your handkerchiefs.

Netflix

The Crown (10 episodes in season 1) focuses on Queen Elizabeth II as a 25-year-old newlywed faced with the daunting prospect of leading the world’s most famous monarchy while forging a relationship with legendary Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. The British Empire is in decline, the political world is in disarray, and a young woman takes the throne…a new era is dawning.  Peter Morgan’s masterfully researched scripts reveal the Queen’s private journey behind the public facade with daring frankness. Prepare to be welcomed into the coveted world of power and privilege and behind locked doors in Westminster and Buckingham Palace…the leaders of an empire await.  We’ve watched the first 5 episodes of this wonderful series and I am going to savour the rest.  It will be a long time before something this beautifully produced will appear again.

Hulu and Streaming

Chance continues to air episodes of this thriller starring Hugh Laurie and Gretchen Mol.  Very noir.

Amazon Prime

Goliath continues to air episodes of this series starring Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and Maria Bello.  A disgraced lawyer, now an ambulance chaser, gets a case that could bring him redemption or at least revenge on the firm which expelled him.

PBS

Sunday night is ruled by PBS with The Durrells in Corfu, Poldark, and Indian Summers.  All three are wonderful series.  People who say there is nothing of quality on TV are sadly missing out on these gems.

AMC

The Walking Dead (Sundays) is trying to vary its tone from the terribly sad and violent opening episode of this season.  Harrowing and gruelling to watch, this post apocalyptic tale of zombies threatening what’s left of mankind is not for everyone.  Having started this journey, and stuck with it for 6 seasons, I can’t look away until this terrible tale comes to an end.

 

HBO

Westworld and Masters of Sex both air on Sunday nights.  Again, quality television that is worth watching. Divorce with Sara Jessica Parker is a comedy that is written by the same author as Catastrophe.  While not nearly as funny, it is worth a look. Also on Sunday night is Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. This show has been praised for its terrific analysis of public affairs issues and Oliver has great fun poking fun at the US political scene.  Friday night’s political comedy comes from Real Time with Bill Maher.  He actually had an interview with President Obama this past week. It was also a great pleasure to see former Canadians Martin Short and David Frum opine on the presidential campaign.

TVLand

Younger (Thursdays) is a great show about a 40 something woman masquerading as a 26 year old millennial in order to get a job in publishing.  Great fun as it pokes fun at technology and the world of millennials.  Sutton Foster is the lead and she is endearing.

FX

Better Things (Thursdays) is a great series about a working actress in Hollywood who is also a single mom raising three daughters.  Funny and touching.  The great Celia Imrie plays the grandmother.

FXX

You’re the Worst (Wednesdays) is about mismatched hipsters in LA.  It was wonderful and fresh when it started, but I have tired of it and don’t know how much longer I will hang in with it.

NBC

The Good Place (Thursdays) is delightful as it tells the story of a young woman who has mistakenly ended up in Heaven, when she really deserves to be in Hell.

Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) is my unabashedly guilty pleasure show.  Hunky firemen and ridiculous subplots abound.

The Blacklist (Thursdays) has run around in circles re the lead character’s parentage.  I don’t care anymore.  Just give Tom his own show!!!

Saturday Night Live (Saturdays at 11:30) has used Alec Baldwin to portray Donald Trump this season and he has done a great job.  Benedict Cumberbatch tried his best this week to prove he is funny, but the writing defeated him in most of the sketches he was in.

TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will be showing its last pre-election episode on Monday night.  Bee is wonderful at making devastating comments about the electoral process.

People of Earth (Tuesdays) debuted last week and is a hilarious sitcom about a support group for people who believe they are alien abductee survivors.  Very cute.

 

CBS

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (nightly at 11:35) has been fabulous in the run-up to the election.  There will be a live show on SHOWTIME this Tuesday night.

Comedy

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon-Thurs at 11:00) has also done a great job leading up to the election.

The CW

Arrow (Wednesdays) has me hooked and I only have one explanation.  Stephen Amell is the lead and he is deliciously Canadian.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) stars Kiefer Sutherland as a man who didn’t want to be President who has the job thrust upon him.  Still intriguing.

Final Words

It’s shaping up to be a busy week.  Between Mahjong, 3 golf games, a variety of exercise classes, and dinners with friends (not to mention the election night party), we’ll be very busy.  The weather has been perfect, although this weekend’s time change means sunset is shockingly early despite the balmy weather.  What’s up with that?  For those in the North, stay warm and we will see you in December.  For our southern neighbours, enjoy this beautiful weather and let’s all hope that we don’t live to regret Tuesday’s election.

 

We’re here…

We’re here in Naples!  The weather has been beautiful and balmy this past week.  We arrived to find our place in pristine condition (thanks to our home watch company and their cleaning team).  I have only screamed loudly enough to wake the dead a few times as a nesting cockroach kept making an appearance in my dishwasher and then in my kitchen sink.  I believe I was finally successful in washing him down the garburator drain after he had made about 4 appearances.  I’m really hoping that he’s the last of his kind.  Fingers crossed!  I have been busy watching a number of shows I missed during our travel time, so here goes my summary and recommendations:

Streaming

Anthropoid with Cilian Murphy and Jamie Dornan tells the real life story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler.

Movies on TV

Fathers and Daughters stars Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried. It is a maudlin little film that deals with the grief that follows when a writer grapples with being a widower and father after a mental breakdown. Twenty-seven years later, his grown daughter struggles to forge connections of her own.  This peculiar little film wastes Jane Fonda in a tiny role as the writer’s agent and Aaron Paul has a thankless role as a would-be suitor to Amanda Seyfried.

Amazon Prime

Goliath is a miniseries starring Billy Bob Thornton as Billy McBride, a disgraced lawyer who gets a case that could bring him redemption or at least revenge on the firm which expelled him.  Kind of a darker Better Call Saul, without the humour.

Hulu

The first three episodes of Chance have aired.  It stars Hugh Laurie as a forensic near-psychiatrist who reluctantly enters a dangerous and violent world of mistaken identity, police corruption and mental illness.  It has a real noir vibe and features Gretchen Mol as the temptress Jaclyn Blackstone who seems to be sucking Chance down into the inevitable downward spiral.

Netflix

The Fall returns for its third season.  Starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan in a cat and mouse game as a relentless police detective on the trail of a serial killer.

PBS

Sunday night madness is upon us again.  At this point my PBS lineup includes The Durells in Corfu. Set in 1935, when the Englishwoman Louisa Durrell, whose life had fallen apart, decided to move from Bournemouth to the Greek island of Corfu.  Her husband had died some years earlier and she has financial problems, when she suddenly announces that she and her four children will move to the island. A battle ensues as the family adapts to life on the island, especially when they discover that Corfu does not even have electricity at that time.  But it is cheap, an earthly paradise and the Durrell family make the big step that will change their lives.

The very sweet Durrells are followed by the heroic Poldark.  Ross Poldark returns home after the American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it.  It stars the dark and dangerous Aidan Turner who removes his shirt whenever the writers devise a suitable opportunity.

The heroic Poldark is followed by the morally ambiguous Indian Summers.  This drama is set in the waning days of Empire as British colonial rule winds down in India.

To give PBS its due, I also caught a few of their other shows.  Nova ran its Florida Sinkholes episode which was riveting and I did catch a bit of the Great Performances episode called Hamilton’s America which was a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Broadway smash Hamilton.  All of these PBS programs are available on demand in the US or on PBS.org. I also discovered a little gem of a series based on PG Woodhouse called Blandings which is a satire of British aristocrats and features the actor Jack Farthing who plays the evil George on Poldark as a particularly dimwitted fop.

AMC

There was so much happening last weekend on our arrival that I almost missed the seventh season return of The Walking Dead.  This season’s opener was incredibly controversial for its rapid dispatch of two of the survivors.  Having been brutally overpowered by Negan and his gang of Saviours, Rick and his group kneel helplessly as they suffer a heavy loss, leaving everyone traumatized.

FX

The Strain airs tonight what I hope is the final episode of this gruelling series (now in its third season). Hopefully, the Master will be undone as the survivors seem to have come up with a way to destroy the Stregoi vampires.  Fingers crossed!!

Better Things is the Thursday night comedy starring Pamela Adlon as an actress raising her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent.

FXX

You’re the Worst is the Wednesday night comedy that shows the struggles of mismatched hipsters to survive in LA.

Cinemax

Quarry aired its 9th (and final?) episode this past weekend.  It answered all the questions about the Viet Nam massacre that haunts Quarry’s life.  This series airs on HBO Canada in Canada and on Cinemax in the US.

Showtime

Masters of Sex is another Sunday night show (also on HBO Canada) that continues to intrigue as it details the lives and careers of the pioneers of the science of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution.

Shameless is another Sunday night show (also on HBO Canada) that is now in its 7th season.  It tells the story of a family headed by an alcoholic man who lives in a perpetual stupor while his six children cope as best they can.  There’s been a tremendous amount of development in these children over the past seven years, with triumphs and failures along the way.

HBO

Westworld is a Sunday night show inspired by the 1973 film of the same title written by Michael Crichton about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings.  The suspense is really rising as these robots begin to think for themselves.

Divorce is a Sunday night show which follows a couple who go through a long, drawn-out divorce.

On the political commentary scene, HBO also airs Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays) and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Sundays). This week the Hillary Clinton emails have taken over the 24 hour news cycle and I am extremely worried about the consequences for this election.

Fox

Gotham airs on Mondays.  I have a soft spot for this story behind Detective James Gordon’s rise to prominence in Gotham city in the years before Batman’s arrival.  Got to love that Ben McKenzie, (The OC, Southland).  Wonder if he and Logan Marshall Green (now on Quarry and who was his Ryan’s evil brother Trey from The OC) ever get together socially to compare careers, etc.

The CW

Now that Superman as joined the fold (played by Tyler Hoechlin of Teen Wolf), I have given Supergirl (Monday nights) a second look and find it awfully sweet.  Very empowering for girls (and there does seem to be a developing same sex relationship happening).

Arrow (Wednesdays) deals with the aftermath of Laurel’s death, and the departures of both Diggle and Thea from Team Arrow, so Oliver has to build a new team to protect Star City’s citizens.  Stephen Amell is pretty dreamy as Arrow/Oliver Queen.

TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (on Comedy in Canada also on Mondays) has been a little hard to keep track of as the series tried for timely coverage of the debates.  There is a new episode Monday night and I can hardly wait to hear Bee’s take on the latest email scandal.

BBC America

I binged on all 6 episodes of The Living and The Dead, a BBC import that aired in its entirety prior to Halloween. When a young couple inherit a farm, they are determined to turn it into a success, but strange supernatural forces soon intervene, threatening their marriage and their lives.  I found this series to be absolutely exhausting, but then perhaps it is unwise to try and watch 6 – 1 hour episodes over the course of 2 days. Colin Morgan (Merlin, The Fall) looks absolutely hunky with a beard (as opposed to his nerdy appearance on Merlin).

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Saturdays) is absolutely batshit crazy as it centres on the titular holistic detective who investigates cases involving the supernatural.  It is based on the “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” novel series, written by Douglas Adams in 1987. I have only seen the first two episodes, but so far it is supremely silly stuff.

USA

Falling Water tells the story of three unrelated people, who slowly realize that they are dreaming separate parts of a single common dream.  Each of them is on a mysterious and highly personal quest – one is searching for his missing girlfriend, one is searching for a lost child, one is looking to cure his catatonic mother – and it is the clues found in their collective dream that come to guide them.  The deeper they dig, the more they come to realize that their missions touch on stakes that are much larger than their indivual agendas.  This show has a dreamlike quality, not unlike Mr. Robot which originates on this network.  You have to pay extreme attention to try and determine reality from dream.  Try not to check your email or the actors’ IMDB pages as you watch this one.

TVLand

Younger is now in its third season.  I love this series which stars the amazing Sutton Foster as Liza, a 40-something passing as a 26-year-old millennial in order to get and keep a job in publishing.  She is juggling a relationship with a hunky much younger tattoo artist while being attracted to her hunky close-in-age publishing boss.  Great satire of our obsession with social media and the buzz words that accompany this quickly changing technology.

NBC

Still following Chicago Fire on Wednesdays (love that Lt. Casey and those blue eyes) and The Blacklist on Thursdays (for Tom, soon to get his own spin off show).  I caught an episode of The Good Place (Thursdays) this past week and did enjoy it as Kristin Booth fights to stay in Heaven despite the fact that she is a terrible person who should have been sent to Hell.

CBS

Elementary is airing its 100th show tonight. Although I adore Jonny Lee Miller, I lost interest in this series some time ago.  I may try and catch this show on demand as my PVR will only allow me to record two events at one time, and I lack time shifting features.  What’s a girl to do when there are an insane number of programs all airing at the same time?!!!

Also on CBS, I did catch this morning’s edition of CBS Sunday Morning and loved the dog segment in particular.  So soothing!  I look forward to inspired humour of The Late Show (nightly at 11:35) with Stephen Colbert and The Later Show (nightly at 12:35) with James Corden.  His carpool karaoke show with Lady Gaga was fabulous last week.  Find it on YouTube.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) continues to intrigue as Kiefer Sutherland tries to survive the myriad forces that seem to conspire against him.

Comedy Channel

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs nightly M-Th at 11 pm.  I adore Noah and his endearing South African accent as he takes a global view of the current US insanity.

Shows I have lost track of…

Queen of the South (aired on USA in the US and on Bravo in Canada) ran for 14 episodes in its first season. Great series about a Mexican woman fighting to survive in a world dominated by drug cartels and corrupt politicians and police.

Queen Sugar (airs on Showcase in Canada and OWN in the US).  This series follows the life of three siblings who are fighting to maintain the inheritance from their recently departed father, an 800-acre sugarcane farm.

Occupied (airs Sunday on TVO in Canada).  In the near future, Norway is occupied by Russia on behalf of the European Union, due to the fact that the newly elected environmentally friendly Norwegian government has stopped the all important oil and gas production in the North Sea.

And Finally…

We are headed uptown this afternoon to take in one of the final films at this year’s Naples International Film Festival.  Score:  A Film Music Documentary brings Hollywood’s premier composers together to give viewers a privileged look inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most widely known music genre: the film score.  Features segments with Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Trent Reznor, James Cameron, Randy Newman, Quincy Jones, Junkie XL, Howard Shore, Alexandre Desalt, Harry Greyson-Williams, Thomas Newman, etc.

Looking forward to seeing my fitness, golf, book group (discussing Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver) and mahjong buddies this week as they arrive in Naples.  Our golf club is finally hosting a welcome party for our members as the new clubhouse begins regular operations this week.  Dear friends from Toronto arrive for a visit, so it is shaping up to be another busy week.  And that’s before Pickleball and Bocce ball official seasons get started!!  Our new social events coordinator arrives from the Ritz Carlton to start her job here on Tuesday.  For those of you in sunny climes, enjoy this beautiful balmy weather and for all friends and family in the north, stay warm and be careful on those roads.

Preparing for the drive to Florida…

 

It’s been a hectic week as I played my last rounds of golf for the season at Lambton and the Georgian Bay Club. I said goodbye to my Thornbury Mahjongg group after a great summer of friendship and laughter. It  was just revealed that one of Trump’s accusers disclosed her assault by Trump to her Mahj group a year and a half ago. Many truths are revealed at the Mahj table! As we packed for our Florida trip this week, I managed to keep up with my viewing as I report below:

Live On Stage

Ones is a travelling road show that showcases the Beatles’ number one hits. It was performed at the historic Meaford Hall last night. I had the great pleasure of seeing it with our longtime friend Brian who was in a Beatles cover band for many years. The Ones performers are a great band with wonderful musicians and singers. They were backed up by a string section and a horn section and were able to produce a very big sound for a small number of musicians. It was a wonderful community event.

Netflix

Amanda Knox is a Netflix original documentary film that tells the story of American Amanda Knox and her prosecution for the savage murder of her British roommate in Italy in 2007.  It poses the question of how we all might handle a murder accusation, investigation and prosecution, in much the same vein as Making a Murderer. Incredible interviews with the actual players (including the prosecution team and the police who were determined to achieve a fast arrest and conviction).

Streaming

Transparent Season 3 is the latest season in this wonderful funny and heartbreaking series about a father of three grown children who is transitioning to female.  It follows his journey as well as that of his family and ex-wife.

The Nice Guys is a very dark film comedy about two private detectives in LA and stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.  I lasted about an hour into this completely unfunny film and then had to turn it off due to lack of amusement and incredibly brutal action.

Younger has returned for its third season and tells the story of a single mother who is compelled to pretend that she is 26 in order to forge a career in publishing after her marriage ends and she is unable to find work as a forty-something.  Very funny especially in its depiction of social media and the role it plays in today’s workplace.

HBO

Westworld, Divorce, Masters of Sex, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver all air on Sunday nights.  An embarrassment of riches!  Westworld is absolutely intriguing in its depiction of a resort that features Artificial Intelligence characters and allows pampered guests to pretend they are in the old west. Masters of Sex is a terrific series about Masters and Johnson the pioneering sex therapists of the early sixties.  Divorce (starring Sara Jessica Parker) is a wry look at divorce (from Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe). Last Week Tonight is a savage comedy series hosted by the very funny John Oliver who delights in poking fun at the American political system and takes a weekly special look at widely divergent issues and problems in a most informative and enlightening way.

Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays) is a must see show in the run-up to the Nov. 8 election. Maher is completely intolerant of political correctness in all forms and is having the time of his life poking fun at Donald Trump and his alt-right supporters.

PBS

Poldark, Queen Victoria and the Crippled Kaiser, Indian Summers, and The Durrells in Corfu are all part of PBS’ Sunday lineup.  Poldark continues to smolder and swashbuckle; Queen Victoria and the Crippled Kaiser gave much insight into the conditions that led to WWI; Indian Summers is a dark tale of the conditions that led to India’s self-rule; The Durrells in Corfu is a charming real life tale of a family of British eccentrics in the 1930’s who escape Britain’s cold unforgiving climate for a wonderful warm time in Corfu.

NBC

The Blacklist (Thursdays) is my guilty pleasure batshit crazy tale of a megalomaniac crime lord who has a soft spot for an FBI agent.
Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) is my guilty pleasure show about hunky firemen in Chicago.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) is Kiefer Sutherland’s return to network TV as a man who has the Presidency foisted upon him after a terrorist bombing.

TVO

Occupied (Sundays) comes to us from Norway and tells the story of a Russian occupation of Norway in order to control their oil and gas industry.

CBC

This Life (Sundays) is a touching tale of a single mom’s journey after a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
Shoot the Messenger (Mondays) is a ripped from the headlines tale of the Toronto Mayor’s office, an investigative journalist, and drug deals at Kipling and Dixon.
Kim’s Convenience (Tuesdays) is a very sweet comedy about a Korean Canadian family who run a convenience store in east end Toronto.

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning (9 am on Sundays) is now hosted by an adorably aging Jane Pauly.  This is my moment of Zen show and it centres me and calms me for the week ahead.
The Late Show (Mon-Fri at 11:3 5) with Stephen Colbert is must see viewing for Colbert’s take on the US political process.  He is also very fun on every other topic he tackles.

Comedy Network

The Daily Show (Mon-Thurs at 11) with Trevor Noah is my daily fix of political humour.  I like South African born Noah’s worldview take on politics.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Mondays at 10:30, but the network has been moving this one around.  Bee is Canadian and is voting in her first US election and is completely outraged by the craziness of the US political scene and it is making for great comedy.

FX

Better Things (Thursdays) is a wry tale of a single mother/actress in LA who struggles to keep her head above water with a demented mother, 3 demanding children and an ex-husband who simply doesn’t care.

FXX

You’re The Worst (Wednesdays) is a demented comedy about mismatched hipsters in LA.

A few Last Words

Here’s a column from the Globe’s John Doyle on his TV series recommendations:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-five-cant-miss-coming-television-shows/article32314722/

We leave on our drive down to Florida In a few days. We will be spending a night in Pennsylvania and then visiting with friends in Pinehurst. NC. We’re hoping that the effects of Hurricane Matthew will have all been cleaned up as there was real road damage in parts of NC and 17 people died there. By this time next Sunday Oct 23, we should be in Naples. As I will have watched very little TV over the next week or so, I will probably catch up with my blog the following week.  The political debate leading up to the election on Nov 8 should get hotter and heavier as more unsavoury allegations about both candidates seem to be surfacing every day. In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful fall weather.

This is taking all my self-discipline…

It’s been a busy week of fine tuning our condo furnishings (much time spent comparing rugs, light fixtures, kitchen benches and carts, etc.) online.  We’re still awaiting the delivery of some major pieces (oh how I miss being able to sit on a comfy couch in the living room) so I am making do with things that are very temporary until the real items arrive.  It’s been a week of family gatherings for Thanksgiving, a fun-filled Indian wedding, and get-togethers with longtime friends.  We have about 11 days to get ourselves ready for the trip to Florida so here’s the best I can do at the moment with some recommendations and recaps:

Streaming

The first two episodes of Berlin Station premiered on the Internet this week.  The show is debuting on Epix, a US premium cable channel.  This spy drama is a contemporary serial set among CIA and German operatives in Berlin.  It will appeal to fans of Homeland, London Spy and The Night Manager.  The action kicks off when a well-regarded CIA analyst Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage known for The Hobbit, Strike Back, North and South, etc.) decides to become a field agent and is assigned to Berlin.  It’s a turbulent time for agency employees in Europe, given that an Edward Snowden-like figure has been leaking some of the CIA’s juiciest secrets to the press and a number of those revelations have caused problems for Berlin based spies in particular.  Familiar faces like Richard Jenkins (Spotlight, Olive Kitteridge, The Visitor, etc.), Michelle Forbes (Orphan Black, Chicago Fire, The Killing, etc.), and Rhys Ifans (Snowden, Elementary, Notting Hill, etc.) turn up in recurring roles.  It’s a great substitute for James Bond and John Le Carre films.

Broadcast Channels

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) stars Kiefer Sutherland as an ordinary man who must assume the job of POTUS when all those above him in succession order are killed by terrorists.  Will he rise to the occasion?

NBC

I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s episode of Saturday Night Live which featured Lin- Manuel Miranda ( Broadway’s Hamilton).  The cold open featured a hilarious performance by Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump in a follow-up to the Vice Presidential debate and the leaked audiotape of Trump making horribly vulgar remarks about his tendency to grab women’s genitalia.  The rest of the show had some great moments and a wonderful musical guest, 21 Pilots.

The Blacklist (Thursdays) I am still hanging in with this show until Tom gets his own spinoff.

Fox

Gotham (Mondays) continues to amuse as we see young Batman moving towards his goal and the star of the show Ben Mackenzie is the main focus as a young Jim Gordon.

The Exorcist (Fridays) tells the story of a teenager who is demonically possessed and her family’s attempts to get the Church to help her.

FX

Continuing to enjoy The Strain (Sundays) and Better Things (Thursdays).

FXX

Continuing to enjoy You’re The Worst (Wednesdays).

CBC

Shoot the Messenger debuts Monday night.  It is a crime drama about a young reporter.  It begins with the meeting a source with “something big” to tell her, but the rendezvous is interrupted by gunfire, leaving the source wounded and his friend dead.  Apparently, Rob Ford’s story was an inspiration for this one!!  Lots of political intrigue.

This Life (Sundays) returned last week and we are still following Natalie’s journey after a cancer diagnosis.

Kim’s Convenience will finally debut 2 episodes on Tuesday after being pre-empted by a late running Blue Jays game last week.  Looking forward to this comedy about the life of a family running a convenience store.

HBO

Westworld (Sundays) is deepening its mystery as we get more familiar with how this crazy resort works.  The machines seem to be developing an agenda of their own!

Masters of Sex (Sundays) gets more and more intriguing as the sex therapists have to deal with their own faltering relationship.

Quarry (Fridays) tells the store of a Viet Nam vet trying to make a living as a hitman.

Both Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays) and Last Week Tonight  with John Oliver (Sundays) are required viewing as they discuss the upcoming US election.

Comedy Network

I love The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon-Thurs at 11 pm).  I think Noah is funny despite what many others say (yeah, yeah, he’s no Jon Stewart…l).

I also love Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (usually Mondays at 10:30).  She has a wickedly acerbic take on US politics.

Bravo

Bravo seems to be running for the owner of the title most female dominated series as it features both Queen of the South (Tuesdays) as a Latino in Texas climbs to the top of a drug cartel and Queen Sugar (Wednesdays) as a family dominated by women struggles to deal with the death of their patriarch.

PBS

PBS took Sunday night off (sigh, no Poldark or Indian Summers), so for those of you who still haven’t caught on, you have a chance to find these series On Demand and you can catch up before next Sunday evening’s episodes.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve not had as much time as usual to catch up with TV and movies this past week as we’ve been busy packing up our Thornbury house, trying to decorate our new Toronto condo and preparing to drive to Florida for the winter.  There are a ton of films I want to see (Hell or High Water, Sully, Snowden, etc.) and I have lots of shows I’ve recorded but haven’t had a chance to watch yet.  It’s been an absolutely beautiful fall season so far with lots of sunny days and the colours are approaching their peak, so get out there and enjoy this fine weather before the November shoulder season of drizzle and damp starts.  Have a wonderful week!!