“The Friday TV Report” 89 for 10/21/22, Updated 11/11/22,
from Sally Ember, EdD, and her mom, Carole Harris
What do you do about the incessant stream of “holiday” films, references in RV series, specials, etc.(read: Christmas, plus 1 or 2 token Chanukah-related films) on so many channels these days? Hallmark, Lifetime, G Family, Positv TV, BYU, are OBSESSED, starting in OCTOBER, and streaming servoices jave kpomed om as well. ENOUGH! TOO MANY! HELP?
Plus, there are DOZENS of celebrations and religious holidays between November 1 and January 31 each year. Check these out: http://www.holidays-and-observances.com/holiday-calendar.html and http://www.holidays-and-observances.com/holidays-around-the-world.html
And, these lists are incomplete.
Expand your horizons this year! Find out about at least two other holidays besides “yours” and find someone who celebrates each of them. Then, learn how to greet them for their day(s) or support their celebrations!
Here is one December multicultural calendar, from Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Holidays-Christmas-Around-The-World-Research-Project-December-Activities-2868873
New in 2022-23 TV series for Amazon Prime and Netflix annotated here in these links:
If you have TV and/or devices (Roku, e.g.) that can do online streaming (and some even have their own channels), here are some updates and reviews to guide your viewing, below. Roku’s free options include The Roku Channel, Ovation Now, FilmRise, FreeVee, Tubi, PBS, NBC, ABC, TNT and many other network and cable channels streaming online shows (but, NOT CBS or CBS All Access: BOO!), as well as Hulu‘s, Peacock‘s and YouTube’s free components, and so much more. We can also skip the erratic behaviors of our Google ChromeCast and use Roku for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other options the ChromeCast didn’t play nicely with at all. VERY fun!
ALSO: “You can stream IMDb TV titles from your web browser, the Prime Video app via the IMDb TV Channel, and through the IMDb TV [now FreeVee] app for Roku devices, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 4, LG TVs (released since 2018), Android TVs, and on Fire TV.”
Netflix has released its upcoming films list. “With 86 films coming out, the streaming service will have a brand new movie ready for every weekend of 2022”: https://thegrio.com/2022/02/04/netflix-announces-massive-2022-film-slate/
Check often online for unexpected “at-home” specials, especially for music, late-night talk shows, and other “live” and/or taped shows, new versions of shows, and one-time-only events.
Great entertainment, educational, homeschooling and often funny and bizarre options are offered hourly on Facebook Live, YouTube, TikTok, Vimeo and many individuals’ and groups’ websites: EVERYWHERE, these days!
Musical Entertainment (many are regularly added to), on YouTube Channels
(many also on TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and their own pages)
For inspiration, comic relief, amazement at talent, political parodies and heartwarming-ness
(be sure to SUBSCRIBE and LIKE so they get their ad revenue!):
—Schmigadoon Apple TV+, then YouTube (6 Episodes released 7/16/21, then segments, interviews, explanations and musical numbers appeared almost daily on YouTube in August, 2021; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
“On a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship, a couple discovers a magical town living in a 1940s musical; they then learn that they can’t leave until they find true love.”
The above description doesn’t begin to explain this gem, with an amazing cast and fun “Easter Eggs,” tropes and toss-backs to specific musicals and stars. Watch the numbers and 6 Episodes in any order, because the story doesn’t matter as much as the fun.
Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Cecily Strong, Fred Armisen, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenowith, Aaron Tveit, Jane Krakowski, Alan Cumming, Ann Harada, Martin Short, and so many more from Broadway, musical and TV comedies.
Delightfully musical, funny, fun! RENEWED for SEASON 2!
—MisCast (MCC Theater) and Broadway Backwards (Playbill.com/video) offer delightful renditions posted on YouTube and elsewhere of songs from many shows and popular genres sung by the opposite or nongendered singers instead of the usual characters as designated. Fabulously talented people! MANY numbers and years of numbers.
WARNING: Unless you like stripteases, nakedness and simulated sex acts and actual groping on stage (gay, lesbian, hetero, unknown), do NOT go to Broadway Bares (and some of the above videos automatically go there at their ends, for unknown reasons!).
—Claire Ryann Crosby is an incredibly talented child singer who started me on this musical video journey, and she is truly amazing! Her dad (Dave), mom (Ashley), younger siblings and she comprise a musical family of great virtuosity and humility, both. Their videos and guest spots on Ellen are entertaining and inspiring, starting from when Claire was only 4 years old! Check them ALL out; she is now 7. She and her dad (on guitar) do many duets, and sometimes her mom accompanies on the piano, her younger brother (Carson) joins in, and soon, the younger sister (June) will, also. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfrREf-q6PbTxNgsB5XAp6A
Mat and Savannah Shaw another daddy-daughter duet team well worth exploring, especially if you like popular, somewhat Mormon/Christian, and wonderfully sung duos. Start from their first video and then go in order for a great progression of their confidence, Savannah’s voice, pre-recorded to live accompaniment, and the entire duo’s path: from singing in their house’s closet and then lip synching to seem “live,” to a professionally recorded album coming out, now! They even have a fan club and you can support their recording costs. As of December, 2020, they have two albums out and some streaming concerts!
—The Marsh Family is an extremely talented British nuclear pod of 4 kids and 2 hetero parents. They all sing, play multiple instruments, create/contribute to timely parodies and lyrics and generally have a great time. Even the Huskie gets into the act! Go back to 2019 and watch them all!
—–The Holderness Family offers songs, dances and other stuff (mostly sung, including ALL harmonies, by Daddy Penn, and choreographed by Mommy Kim, “creates original music, parodies, and Vlogs for YouTube to poke fun of themselves and celebrate the absurdity in circumstances most families face in their day-to-day life.” They often include wry and hilarious appearances by their children, Lola (now, 17) and Penn Charles (now 14 and very tall).BTW: They were on The Amazing Race, split over 2020 and 2021 because of COVID, and they WON! $1 million!!
—Randy Rainbow is so great at writing, directing, singing ALL parts, costuming and staging his political parody music videos that he was nominated for an Emmy in 2019, 2020, 2021, but he keeps losing to James Corden‘s Carpool Karaoke. Too bad. Both are great, but not similar at all. His frequent contributions to our media are the main reasons many of us are not homicidal or locked in safe rooms during #45’s and his cronies’ illegal faux presidency and its never-ending aftermath. His fun continues into 2022-23, with tours, a book, and many appearances on podcasts and talk shows, so we are all blessed. He also has an autobiography out, Playing with Myself. Very fun!
—Roy Zimmerman is a San Francisco Bay Area resident who does (and has been doing, for decades) original, funny, witty political parodies as well as other songs and some covers, solo with his guitar and sometimes with other musicians and Zoom collaborators. I got to see him perform LIVE in St. Charles, Missouri, a few years ago, and he is GREAT!
—Sandy and Richard Riccardi have been around longer than I have (and that’s LONG), using her well-trained, great soprano voice and his piano playing and harmonies to create witty political parodies and other cabaret numbers, “comedy, jazz, classical, political satire and otherwise. Mostly otherwise.” So FUN!
—Emma’s Revolution is the singer/songwriter duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy O, “whose songs have been sung for the Dalai Lama, praised by Pete Seeger, and covered by Holly Near [where I’ve seen them several times in concert]. With beautiful harmonies and genre-defying eclecticism,…” these feminist, activist musicians have each written, co-written, and performed for decades, and now do many political parodies and fundraisers. LOVE them! They also teach songs weekly, on Sundays, with excellent guest artists.
—Rufus Wainwright has done a live number almost every day as “Quarantunes”, accompanying himself on piano or guitar. Fabulous! In his bathrobe, usually, with longer-than-usual hair (as many did), he brings it! He showcases his new album on Austin City Limits in 2021, which was great.
—Jordan Rabjohn is a UK middle school music teacher who sings alone, with his amazing mother (also a smashing vocalist), and some gifted middle-schoolers in a variety of music videos, some made from his home with his mom. Bring tissues!
—Lauren Mayer Comedy Songs wins for fastest parodies written (after the debacle of the presidential NOT-debate in September and the ketchup incident), and many other timely lyrical gems. All are excellent and entertaining, often to her own piano accompaniment and compositions. Very talented and fun performer/writer.
—Adrian and Emma-Jean Galliard are another father-daughter singing pair who astound us. They’re coming to us from South Africa/Italy with extensive operatic and pop music chops. Watch from the beginning and see Emma-Jean growing up! They’re also on Spotify, but we see them on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/c/AdrianEmmaJeanGalliardMusic
Many singer/songwriters and other performers, including all genres (folk, bluegrass, indy, singer/songwriter, Americana, country, classical, jazz, hip-hop, rap, gospel), individuals and family groups, and some from movies/films and Broadway, have created home concert videos, Zoom collaborations, and outdoor performances you can find many online places.
Check out your faves, find new ones! Then SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, DONATE! Musicians, dancers, singers, actors, directors, choreographers, and ancillary workers for live performances are HURTING during the lockdown months of this pandemic, since almost all live music venues and events have been closed/canceled, and may be for many more months!
Begun in fall, 2015, and updated often between “full” posts (check on Fridays), there is always something new here on my Friday TV Report blog posts for TV/streaming viewers.
Next full post: 12/2/22
Our other favorite awards show is the unique AARP Movies for Grown-Ups Awards (films only): this is fantastic! This year, it also honors the great Lily Tomlin (currently co-starring with Jane Fonda in Grace & Frankie on Netflix)—“a critically acclaimed actress and comedian across TV, film and theater, and recipient of eight Emmy Awards®, two Tony Awards®, a Grammy Award®, among many others”— for Career Achievement. It was wonderful!
Started airing on 3/18/22 and often repeats: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/movies-for-grownups-awards-2021-with-aarp-the-magazine-lily-tomlin-to-receive-aarp-the-magazines-movies-for-grownups-awards-career-achievement-honor/13402/
You can watch it online, any time after that date on http://www.pbs.org/. [NOTE: This link is for my St. Louis, MO, local PBS station; you may have to watch on your own local affiliate’s website.]
DO IT! Great clips, interactions and explanations; truly well-done and quite moving.
The Oscars/Academy Awards occurs 3/12/23.
For a partial list of other awards shows’ 2022 dates: https://ew.com/awards/2022-awards-season-calendar-dates/
Some great DVDs (documentaries) we/I recently enjoyed and highly recommend (borrowed from our local library, but, with the quarantines in place, check if your library has re-opened; ours did, then re-closed, but we can request things and do curbside pickups!).
—Miracle of Miracles: The Making of Fiddler on the Roof
Also, this aired on/around 11/13/20 on Great Performances, PBS, which means it’s online, as well.
—Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins
—Mike Wallace is Here
Newest plans for viewing network and cable TV channels in the USA (and a few new shows on Netflix) for 2021 (most are recorded to watch at our leisure), and a bit beyond. Full descriptions appear later in this post. Once we have weighed in, they appear below this section in “Yay,” “Nay,” or “Maybe.”
I watch some by myself (while coloring; these are marked with one asterisk *; when Mom watches alone, usually after I go to bed, these are marked with 2 asterisks, **.
Returning shows are in regular italics; new shows are in bold italics:
11/4/22—Netflix releases Manifest for SEASON 4 and
——Enola Holmes for SEASON/Film 2
11/9/22—The Crown SEASON 5 releases on Netflix
11/18/22—The Great British Baking Show: Holidays returns for SEASON 5 on Netflix
12/21/22—Emily in Paris releases on Netflix for SEASON 3
——Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan SEASON 3 releases on AZ
12/25/22—The Witcher: Blood Origin releases on Netflix
early 2023—Lupin SEASON 3 releases on Netflix
1/5/23—*Mayfair Witches premieres on AMC/AMC+
1/8/23—Miss Scarlet & the Duke returns on PBS for SEASON 3
early in 2023:
——Endeavor returns for final SEASON IX on PBS
——9-1-1 Lonestar returns for SEASON 3 on Fox
——Superman & Lois returns for SEASON 3 on The CW
——The Blacklist returns for SEASON 10 on NBC
——Resident Alien returns for SEASON 3 on SyFy
3/12/23—The Oscars/Academy Awards air
April, 2023—Heartland releases on Netflix for Season 15
——End of Watch premieres on Fox
——Avalon premieres on ABC
——True Lies premieres on CBS
——Accused premieres on Fox
——Will Trent premieres on ABC
——The Company You Keep premieres on ABC
——The Irrational premieres on NBC
——The Blank Slate premieres on NBC
——Found premieres on NBC
——The Diplomat releases on Netflix
——Schmigadoon releases for SEASON 2 (Apple TV+, then YouTube)
——Dark Winds SEASON 2 returns to AMC
UPDATE (as of 11/11/22):
CANCELED/Finished: The End Game, Good Sam, The 4400, Charmed, Our Kind of People, Ordinary Joe, Promised Land, The Big Leap, Bull, AP Bio, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Rebel, Law & Order: For the Defense; Another Life, After Life, Grace & Frankie, Ozark, black-ish, How we Roll, Jack Ryan, Mr. Mayor, Roswell: New Mexico, Naomi, Mr. Mayor, B Positive, Carter, Gentleman Jack, Northern Rescue, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Paper Girls, The Chair, Firefly Lane, Borgen
and these have one more/final SEASON, in 2022-23-24: Endeavor, The Orville, Star Trek: Picard, Manifest, The Crown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Coroner, The Handmaid’s Tale, New Amsterdam, Endeavor, Mr. Mayor, Grey’s Anatomy
RENEWED: Abbott Elementary, Almost Paradise, All Creatures Great & Small, Around the World in 80 Days, Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem, Blue Bloods, Call the Midwife; Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, College Bowl, all 3 Chicago, CSI; Vegas; Documentary Now!; Doom Patrol, Emily in Paris, Heartland, Jeopardy, La Brea, all 3 Law & Order; Last Week with John Oliver, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU, Leverage: Redemption, Midsomer Murders, Nancy Drew, all 3 NCIS; all 3 FBI; Outlander, Professor T, Reacher, Sanditon, Schmigadoon, Sex Education, Star Trek: Discovery, Station 19, Superman & Lois, Sweet Magnolias, The Blacklist, The Equalizer, The Good Doctor, The Oval, The Resident, The Rookie, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Wheel of Time, Titans, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Transplant, Under the Vines, Upload, Van der Valk, Virgin River, Wheel of Fortune, You, Young Sheldon, When Calls the Heart, The Lincoln Lawyer; Dark Winds, The Witcher, Lupin
—DVDs or Roku channels for latest SEASONS of Shetland, The Good Fight, Big little Lies, Queens of Mystery, Line of Duty, Midsomer Murders, My Life is Murder in April, 2023, and others we can’t get on basic cable channels, e.g., Heartland (SEASON 16 and later), Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, Doom Patrol, Star Trek: Discovery & Picard; and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ series.
Whenever a show/series is canceled, I erase the review and its listing from this page and the opinion section (because, otherwise, this compilation gets too long). Likewise, whenever I/we dislike a show, I list it at the end of this post for only its active year, then I erase it.
I am maintaining a summary section (“Yays,” “Nays,” and “Maybe/Still Considering”) for the current year’s shows (until canceled; see above) and for any series that are continuing or still available to view (some on DVD, for us). I add to reviews of many previously reviewed shows with new info/casting, renewals, and opinions often, so check weekly if you’re interested in those updates.
While we can understand the urge to be timely, the heavy-handedness and pervasiveness of stories that feature “us” vs. “them,” whether “they” are mutants, aliens, Earthlings from the future with special powers, immigrants to the USA (Middle-Easterners or former USSR folks, usually with questionable immigration status or criminal tendencies), sex traffickers and greedy/criminal politicians, we do NOT want our “entertainment” to be filled with “news of the day” so much that we can never relax or feel entertained.
We watch Rachel Maddow. I listen to NPR and Mom watches many other news shows (Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, Joy Reid, Ari Melber, Chris Hayes, others on MSNBC). That’ is plenty of “reality” for us.
We are not eager to continue watching shows whose plots and characters are disturbing in the same ways “real life” is. We start, then we stop watching. Therefore, some series we had originally put on the “Yay” side are now in “Maybe/Still Considering,” or all the way to “Nay” at this time. Same goes for shows whose casting or writing team seemed promising but turned out to disappoint.
We think the first one or two airings of any SEASON’s shows on TV are similar to serving dishes at a pot luck table that look popular, due to being mostly empty early on: many pot luck goers may take more of those first-up casseroles or even clean out the pie pans near the start of the line (watch one or 2 Episodes of a series or spend an viewing entire evening on one station), but no one knows whether or not the choosers actually LIKED what they selected! The food could end up mostly uneaten, tossed or traded away. Likewise, the “high ratings” for these first weeks could dramatically diminish once people have sampled enough to know what they like and don’t like, see what else is on, plan their viewing schedules.
The REAL test occurs week 3: what do viewers return to watch? So, stay tuned, ratings-wise. It’s after week 2 that some shows are “summarily” canceled, even when they have the rest of the SEASON in the “can.”
If you want to keep up with Netflix and other streaming and DVD sites’ offerings, this weekly update from https://movierewind.com/everything-netflix/ is unmatched. [BTW: I get no kickback, but I do subscribe and suggest you do the same (it’s free!).]
Here’s what the Movie Rewind team provides, weekly:
“Netflix Instant Streaming and DVD release dates as they become available …Red Subheadings tell you if the titles are DVD or Instant Streaming, U.S. or Canada.
Green Subheadings are for Amazon Prime Instant Streaming titles.
You’ll find some TV series Hulu, Acorn TV, Networks, and other platforms information in Pink.
“I can only include selected Canadian Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu titles – TV series and hot new movies.”
Collider.com offers great genre lists of Netflix‘s library (“Best TV Shows on Netflix” is one of them), and its own reviews, news, and opinions of many TV series, characters, writers, directors. You can also get 2022’s new Netflix shows here (be sure to scroll down to the non-dated lists): https://newshowstv.com/netflix-2022-new-shows/
This is the 89th Post for 10/21/22, Updated 11/11/22
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays)
Next full post: 12/2/22
Our constantly updated summary (newly put into the sections for “Yays” and “Nays” and “Maybe/Still Considering”), with CANCELED or RENEWAL notices, for the current TV year (UPDATED 11/11/22). If a show is on a “regular” station (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), I don’t always list the station
image from Pixabay
9-1-1 (not great for SEASON 6)
9-1-1: Lone Star (we like it; good for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*Abbott Elementary ABC (okay for SEASON 2; surprisingly good)
Alaska Daily ABC (very good show)
All Creatures Great and Small, Masterpiece PBS (wonderful!; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4)
Annika Masterpiece PBS (we like this)
*Around the World in 80 Days, Masterpiece PBS (good enough; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Big Little Lies (HBO; for us, on DVD; DELAYED for SEASON 3)
*Blood & Treasure TNT SEASON 1; Paramount+ SEASONS 2 & ? (we like this; DVD for SEASON 2)
Blue Bloods (Good for SEASON 11; RENEWED for SEASON 12)
Borgen Netflix (dubbed, but we like this; returned 6/2/22 and good for FINAL SEASON 4)
*Call the Midwife PBS (EXCELLENT show; RENEWED for SEASON 10)
C.B. Strike (very well-written and -acted; RENEWED for SEASON 4; DVDs or On Demand)Chicago Med (Okay for SEASON 8)
Chicago PD (Okay for SEASON 10)
Chicago Fire (Okay for SEASON 11)
CSI: Vegas CBS (we like this; okay for SEASON 2)
Cypher The Roku Channel (we liked this!; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Dark Winds AMC (good, so far; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
D.C.’s Stargirl The CW (not good for SEASON 3)
Doc Martin PBS for earliest and sometimes current SEASONS; Netflix, Roku/Filmrise, Amazon Prime for previous SEASONS (quirky, funny, sweet, NOT violent; RENEWED for FINAL SEASON 10)
Documentary Now! TBS & IFC (a few gems among clunkers; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Doom Patrol HBO/DVDs for us (RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3 & 4)
East New York CBS (we like this)
Emily in Paris Netflix (We really like this; fun for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4)
Endeavor PBS (Excellent series; RENEWED through final SEASON IX)
Family Law The CW (very well done)
F.B.I. (Good enough for SEASON 5)
F.B.I.: International; (good for SEASON 2)
F.B.I.: Most Wanted (okay for SEASON 4)
*Grey’s Anatomy (good for final? SEASON 19)
Heartland Netflix [SEASON 14 released 4/10/22; RENEWED for SEASON 16; 14 SEASONS there and on UPTV, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 15 released Jan., 2022 on pay services; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 11/11/22]
*Last Tango in Halifax PBS (Only I watch this; LIMBO for SEASON 7
Leverage: Redemption IMDB TV (we love this!; SEASON 1 aired in two parts, so catch both from October, 2021; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Line of Duty 4 SEASONS available free and 2 more for money on AZ Prime, was/is BBC (we like this, but so many corrupt cops!; RENEWED SEASON 6)
*Lupin Netflix (I like this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Magpie Murders Masterpiece PBS (we like this)
Midsomer Murders (Netflix has 22 SEASONS; we like this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 23, SEASONS 21-22 and beyond on Britbox/DVDs; next DVD (S 23) 11/2022)
Miss Scarlet and the Duke, Masterpiece Mystery PBS (we love this for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Acorn/DVD (We liked this a lot; great for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
My Life is Murder Acorn/others; DVD for us (WE LIKE THIS! RENEWED for SEASON 3)
New Amsterdam NBC (We like this for final SEASON 5)
NCIS CBS (Okay for SEASON 20)
NCIS-Hawai’i CBS (Good for SEASON 2)
Nurses NBC (from Canada; all right; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Professor T PBS (We liked this all right; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Quantum Leap reboot NBC (it’s all right, so far)
Reacher AZ Prime (we loved this!; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Resident Alien Syfy (surprisingly engaging; great for SEASON 2)
RFDS Acorn/DVDs (great for SEASON 1; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Secret City Netflix (Spy stuff; 2 SEASONS, from 2016 & 2019; LIMBO for SEASON 3)
Shakespeare & Hathaway PBS (We like this; DELAYED for SEASON 4)
Shetland ACORN/BritBox (We like this; SEASONS 1 – 5 on DVD; RENEWED for SEASON 6)
*Sex Education Netflix (Excellent! SEASONS 1-3 released; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Silent Witness 23 SEASONS available on AZ Prime, was BBC; only up to SEASON 19 free in 2022 (we like this, but it’s dark; RENEWED for SEASON 24)
So Help Me, Todd CBS (we like this a lot if it veers away from silly)
Star Trek: Discovery CBS [(previous SEASONS) CBS All Access (new SEASONS); rough start, but subsequent Episodes/SEASONS get better; RENEWED for SEASON 5)]
Star Trek: Picard Paramount+ (we love this! 3 SEASONS ending in 2023; DVDs for us)
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Paramount+ (YouTube has Episode 1 for free; otherwise, DVDs for us; very well done)
Station 19 ABC (Trite, but watchable; okay for SEASON 6)
Superman & Lois The CW (we like this; okay for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
The Bletchley Circle [DVDs; DELAYED for SEASON 2 in (having relocated to) San Francisco]
The Brokenwood Mysteries (we like this a lot; DVD for SEASON 7 early in 2022)
The Coroner The CW (we sort of like it; weird and depressing for final SEASON 4;)
The Equalizer CBS (we like this; okay for SEASON 3)
The Good Doctor ABC (sad but okay for SEASON 6)
The Great American Baking Show ABC (had to get rid of the abusive co-host; ON for SEASON 4)
The Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off and Holidays PBS & Netflix (THE BEST; RENEWED through SEASON 15/SEASON 5)
The Lincoln Lawyer Netflix (we increasingly liked this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (returned 2/22/22 for SEASON 4; RENEWED for final SEASON 5)
The Politician Netflix (2 SEASONS already out; DELAYED for SEEASON 3)
The Resident FOX (Good for SEASON 6)
The Rookie ABC (Good for SEASON 5)
The Rookie: Feds ABC (Good for SEASON 1)
*Traces DVD for us (I liked it, but it deteriorated; LIMBO for SEASON 3)
Transplant NBC (we liked this for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
*Unforgotten PBS (Extremely well-written, acted, intriguing; okay for SEASON 4; RENEWED for final? SEASON 5)
*Unorthodox Netflix (very disturbing and well-done, both; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Upload AZ Prime (2 SEASONS, so far, 2020 & 2022; RENEWED for SEASON 3) I like this a lot
Van der Valk PBS (good for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Virgin River Netflix (okay for SEASON 4; we like it; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
*Working Moms Netflix (grows on me; RENEWED for SEASON 7)
*You Netflix (weirdly fascinating; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*Young Sheldon CBS (Good for SEASON 7; previous Episodes on Nick at Nite and TBS)
Completed/Canceled but good:
All Rise OWN (great for final SEASON 3) We loved this!
*After Life Netflix (Oddly compelling; great for final SEASON 3)
A Place to Call Home (EXCELLENT series; 6 SEASONS; ACORN or DVDs)
Case Histories (very well done; 2 SEASONS; Netflix)All Rise OWN (great for final SEASON 3) We loved this!
*After Life Netflix (Oddly compelling; great for final SEASON 3)
A Place to Call Home (EXCELLENT series; 6 SEASONS; ACORN or DVDs)
Case Histories (very well done; 2 SEASONS; Netflix)
Inspector George Gently (Acorn/BBC; 8 DVDs, and on AZ Prime, for $) A bit dark, but great.
*Genius NatGeo moved to Disney+ for 2022 (Einstein, 2017; Picasso, 2018; Aretha Franklin, 2021)
Janet King (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
Lewis (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
Luther (we liked this enough, but it’s violent) 6 SEASONS on AMAZON; CANCELED for SEASON 7, except for film in 2022-23?)
*Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Another great, feminist, Australian series; 3 SEASONS and 3 films [planned]; Netflix)
*Ozark Netflix (Fun to see “my” lake! Okay, but gets VERY dark; final SEASON 4 ended 4/29/22)
*Paper Girls AZ Prime (I liked this a lot; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
Pieces of Her Netflix (only 1 SEASON, winter, 2022; captivating)
Pine Gap Netflix (RENEWED for SEASON 2) Surveillance, alliances, OR NOT
Press PBS Masterpiece/BBC; DVDs for us (6 Episodes, 2018; We liked this)
Republic of Doyle Netflix (6 SEASONS; we increasingly liked this)
Scott & Bailey (liked this a lot; 5 SEASONS; BBC/PBS/DVDs)
The Heart Guy (aka Doctor, Doctor) (DVDs; great through final SEASON 5)
The Kominsky Method Netflix (very fun; not as good, but all right for final SEASON 3)
The Queen’s Gambit Netflix (7 Episodes; fabulous!
*The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window Netflix (SEASON 1, winter, 2022; limbo, SEASON 2; Intriguing)
The Worst Witch Netflix (we liked it; RENEWED but delayed for final SEASON 5)
Torchwood BBC/DVDs (4 SEASONS and 2 audiobooks/CDs, 2006-18; We like this)
Wycliffe BBC/Filmrise/Roku (5+ Seasons, starting 1994; we liked some of it; got very dark)
Check our opinions against the networks’ decisions with updated lists of Canceled and Renewed/Canceled shows (UPDATED 11/11/22):
A League of Their Own Amazon (6 Episodes; released 8/12/22; YUCK)
Bridgerton Netflix (insipid but gorgeous; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3, 4 & getting spinoff)
Big Sky ABC (Too dark; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Girls5eva Peacock (Not free after Episode 1; not enough singing and horrible characters; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
God’s Favorite Idiot Netflix (simply AWFUL)
Hotel Portofino PBS (BORING)
La Brea NBC (TERRIBLE. Don’t bother; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
**Law & Order reboot NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 2; Mom did not like it)
**Law & Order: Organized Crime NBC (disappointing and boring; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Miracle Workers TBS (RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*Modern Love AZ Prime (not worthwhile; 2 SEASONS already released)
Roadkill PBS (BORING; 4 Episodes, then RENEWED)
Solos Amazon Prime (we are not continuing)
Space Force Netflix (not worth your time or ours; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
The Doctor Blake Mysteries (EXCELLENT PBS series, but star got blackballed for bad behavior and is OUT for the final film; changing name to The Blake Mysteries and featuring his housekeeper/new wife, instead; SEASON 1 re-released on OVATION September, 2022)
*Under the Vines ACORN/DVDs (BORING; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Wheel of Time AZ Prime (unless you’re a fan, don’t bother; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
(image from Pixabay)
Grace & Frankie (Netflix, ended 4/29/22; sadly, often awful)
*Greenhouse Academy Netflix (Trite, but watchable; RENEWED for final SEASON 5)
Monarch Fox (not optimistic)
Queens of Mystery Acorn TV (DVD for us; better for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Sweet Magnolias Netflix (we liked this; too saccharine for SEASON 2)
The Blacklist (not great for SEASON 9; RENEWED for SEASON 10)
The Good Fight (Excellent for SEASONS 1, 2 & 3; we DID NOT LIKE SEASON 4; Excellent for SEASON 5; RENEWED for final SEASON 6) Paramount+, now
*The Old Man FX (got better, but very dark)
*Titans HBO Max/TNT (weird but sometimes interesting; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (not great; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3 & final 4)
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (treacle, okay for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASON 9)
If you want to check out the newest original series on Netflix, go visit
Netflix Series Premiering and Returning in 2022 (as of 11/11/22):
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Acorn and other streaming and DVD listings are updated constantly here: https://movierewind.com/everything-netflix/
Keep up with renewals/cancellations and date changes here: https://variety.com/lists/tv-cancellations-renewals-2022-2023/
This is the 89th Post for 10/21/22, Updated 11/11/22
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays)
Next full post: 12/2/22
CANCELED, TBD or RENEWED shows’ statuses can be found here: http://TVShowsCancelled.com/
For the shows we watch, I put each one’s status beneath its review or listing, when it is known11
Also, I have been steadily removing my reviews or expectations for/of all shows that have been discontinued/canceled since we started this series of posts in 2015, or that we gave up on watching.
My mom (90) and I (68) are probably not the “target demographic” for almost any show on television or any movie being produced currently. We live in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, USA (Midwest, for those of you unfamiliar: think of that huge “Gateway Arch”—That’s here). I grew up here but then didn’t live here for 42 years; I’ve been back since August, 2014.
We were both raised Jewish, but I have been a meditator since 1972 and a practicing Buddhist since 1996. We are both Caucasian women-born-women. We are considered “middle class” although we have almost zero dollars of “disposable income.” My mom is hetero; I am bisexual. We are both partly disabled. I am highly educated (through a doctoral degree plus other training); my mom has extensive work experience, with a high school diploma.
My mom has been a TV watcher for 65+ years. I watched a lot as a kid, but from about 1972 – 2002, I didn’t have a TV and hardly watched it elsewhere, either. I usually didn’t have a TV between 2005 – 2014 as well, but I watched some shows online (Hulu, usually) or Netflix.
We think we should be part of a group that at least some producers are aiming to please, because we (especially Mom) now watch a lot of television. We also get movies regularly from DVD borrowing through our local library. We even occasionally go to a theatre to see a movie. We eagerly await the “new season” of television every one of the four times it seems to occur every year: “Fall Sweeps” happen, but so do Mid-season Sweeps, Mid-year New Seasons, and channels with an entirely different set of “seasons.”
However, we are consistently disappointed that many shows we do like are canceled and some shows we despise seem to go on forever. Plus, we have several pet peeves:
—“Why is it always so dark in all these shows? I can’t see a thing. What is the point?” THE CW’s and most dramas are notorious for this futile attempt at ratcheting up the tension. If we can’t see the action, there IS NO TENSION!
—“Why is the music so loud but the dialogue is barely audible?” Hallmark films are the worst for this violation of common sense.
—“Why do so many writers depict adult characters as adolescents with endless insecurities and incessant competition and/or bickering?” They have these arrested development tropes on most shows: many dramas get so “teenage soapy” we stop watching, and it’s even worse on comedies, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and age. Mysteriously inane.
—“Car chases, foot chases and fighting are NOT PLOT.” Neither are endless shots of feet/shoes moving, long shots of whatever, and aerials (stock footage, usually, trying to “prove” a location that is false). Use your time better, directors and editors!
—“There is no one to like on this show!” Even more true, now….
Keep up with the changes! http://thefutoncritic.com/guide/
or here, for the schedule (UPDATED 11/11/22, for future months):
We don’t watch: most “sit coms”; any zombie or most vampire shows; reality shows (except the baking shows on BBC/ABC); extremely violent shows; premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz, EPIX, Cinemax, Sundance NOW) or other pay channels (Sundance TV, CBS All Access, Disney+, etc.); most YA/”teen” or any children’s/animated shows. We do sometimes get the local library’s DVDs or watch Netflix/Amazon Prime airings of these pay shows, about one year later.
NOTE: Our viewing “schedule” includes a lot of recording-and-watching-later, due to simultaneous broadcasts and my early bedtime.
**usually only Mom watches
*usually only I watch
Post 89 for 10/21/22, Updated 11/11/22
I/we continue with this Friday TV Report: New and Returning PBS/BBC, Netflix, Amazon Prime, regular cable network (non-premium) TV Shows and some specials (shows that were more recently viewed are higher up on the review sections) and some on DVD from our local library (that were on premium or non-USA channels, originally).
Shows we recently have watched and reviewed (UPDATED 11/11/22)
*Traces was BBC One; DVD for us (6 Episodes, released Dec, 2019, & SEASON 2 April, 2022; LIMBO for SEASON 3, expected in February, 2023 on Alibi/BBC One; then, DVD).
A lot of twists and unexpected turns to this cold case brought back to “life” series fir SEASIB 1. Kept my attention, but not Mom’s. SEASON 2 couldn’t be focused on Emma, though, an I think it went off the rails.
Co-created and co-written by Val McDermid (an author whose books I like a lot) and Amelia Bullmore (who starred in and wrote some of Scott & Bailey, which we liked), SEASON 1 “focuses on three female forensic professionals, Emma Hedges, Sarah Gordon and Kathy Torrance, working together at the Scottish Institute of Forensic Science (SIFA) … as they uncover the truth of a murder case and bring a killer to justice…[they] try to unearth the truth about an unsolved murder that’s very close to home. A fatal fire in a nightclub proves an ill omen for Emma’s [Windsor] return to Dundee. Her mother’s unsolved murder comes into sharp focus, forcing Emma to turn to her new boss, Sarah [Fraser], for support….[T]he stars align to put Daniel [Compston] in her path….”
SEASON 2 had many unnecessary subplots, bad outcomes, and odd changes in characters that I really did not like at all.
Starring: Molly Windsor, Laurie Fraser, Jennifer Spence as the 3 professionals, and Martin Compston (Line of Duty), Michael Nardone and Vincent Regan, with a great supporting cast.
Creepy, and not great plotting; LIMBO for SEASON 3
Magpie Murders PBS (premiered 10/16/22)
The going back-and-forth between the novel and the live action is very confusing, especially since many of the actors have dual roles. Otherwise, we ike it.
“Based on the 2016 novel by British author, Anthony Horowitz, …starring Lesley Manville (World on Fire, Phantom Thread), Conleth Hill (Game ofThrones) and Tim McMullan (Patrick Melrose), [the series] tells the story of a book editor set out to obtain the final pages of a famed author’s latest novel. But what she finds instead leads to a winding mystery she never expected.”
We like this
Annika PBS (premiered 10/16/22)
I’m not a big fan of shows that “break the 4th wall” by having an actor or character talk directly into the camera/to the audience, but all that aside, this new show is good. We like it: tight action, good dialog, some humor, realistic but not too gory. The Scottish accents, as in Shetland, are difficult at first for us USA listeners, but we get into the rhythm after a while.
Starring one of the most versatile and best actors in the BBC stable, Nicola Walker (Unforgotten, River, The Split), as “the sharp, witty and enigmatic DI Annika Strandhed as she heads up a new specialist Marine Homicide Unit (MHU) that is tasked with investigating the unexplained, brutal, and seemingly unfathomable murders,” with Silvie Furneaux as her daughter, Morgan, and Jamie Lives (Guilt), Katie Leung (The Nest), Ukweli Roach (Blindspot) and Kate Dickie (The Cry).
“The radio series follows Scandinavian detective Annika Strandhed, a ‘leading light in the murder squad of the Oslo police. In the TV series (penned by…Nick Walker [no relation to Nicola]), Annika will similarly oversee her [Glasgow] unit—while coping with her ‘brilliant yet complex’ teenage daughter, Morgan. And in an unusual twist compared to most crime dramas, Annika will reportedly break the fourth wall in most episodes in order to explain her cases to the watching viewers at home.”
We like it
Miss Scarlet and the Duke, Masterpiece Mystery PBS (returned 10/16/22 for SEASON 2 and returns 1/8/23 for SEASON 3)
We still LOVE this! Very well-written, amazing costumes, and great acting. Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders) is perfect as Eliza Scarlett, “the first-ever female detective in Victorian London…who won’t let any naysayers stop her from keeping her father’s business running…. Her partner in detective work is … her childhood friend, professional colleague, and potential love interest, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector William Wellington, a.k.a., The Duke,” a Hugh Jackman lookalike, Stuart Martin (Jamestown), who plays well against/with Phillips.
Moses (Ansu Kabia) is a great “assistant” for Scarlet, too.
Also starring: Andrew Gower (Poldark, Outlander), Kevin Doyle (Downton Abbey), Ansu Kabia (World on Fire, The Long Song), and Cathy Belton (Philomena).
We love it; RENEWED for SEASON 3
The Coroner The CW (returned 10/2/22 for SEASON 4)
This is the newest CBC legal/medical drama, and it’s pretty dark and STRANGE. But, very well done. We like it somewhat, but her and others’ mental health issues are a bit much.
Stars Roger Cross (Dark Matter, Orphan Black) and Serinda Swan.
“The series, which will shoot in Toronto, centers on a newly appointed coroner investigating suspicious deaths in Toronto….Inspired by M.R. Hall’s best-selling book series, Coroner centers on a newly appointed coroner investigating suspicious deaths in Toronto.” Serinda Swan (Inhumans) fills the title role of “Jenny Cooper, a brave, determined yet vulnerable coroner driven by an intense desire for the truth. A former ER doctor and recently widowed mother, the passing of her beloved husband has unlocked a primal connection to death, tied to a secret in her past that is only now coming to the surface. She loves her son more than life itself and strives to support him while also trying to take care of herself.”
We do like a lot of CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Company) TV series, but this adds to an already ridiculously high number of medical/legal dramas. How many ways can people find bodies killed in how many ways? We’ve already seen dozens of repeated body discovery scenarios and similar murder methods across the many shows we watch/have watched.
We used to like it more; VERY depressing, though, with her mental health problems, and now, disjointed, with Jenny in Seattle and the others in Toronto, still.
Weird for final SEASON 4
Alaska Daily ABC (premiered 10/6/22)
This series “revolves around a star journalist (Swank) who moves to Alaska for a fresh start after a career-killing misstep and finds redemption personally and professionally after joining a daily metro newspaper in Anchorage.”
We like this a lot and hope for each Episode to bring us new scenery and info about Alaska!
Starring: Hilary Swank and Jeff Perry, Matt Malloy, Meredith Holzman, Grace Dove, Pablo Castelblanco, Ami Park, Craig Frank.
Quantum Leap reboot NBC (premiered 9/19/22)
“It’s been 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now a new team has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.”
Ethnic change for the leaper; gender flip for the holo. Otherwise, same.
Starring: Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song; Caitlin Bassett as Addison Augustin, (Song’s fiancé and his holo helper; Ernie Hudson as Herbert “Magic” Williams; Mason Alexander Park as Ian Wright.
We loved the original; this one’s okay, so far
The Rookie: Feds ABC (series premiered 9/27/22)
We liked the embedded pilot for this show, aired last spring in The Rookie, and were glad to see Nathan Fillion and others from the original show in this Episode for its fall premiere. The premise could get old, though, if they don’t step it up. How many ways and times does she have to “prove herself”? Kind of silly.
“Simone Clark is a force of nature, the living embodiment of a dream deferred—and the oldest rookie in the FBI Academy. She is a single mother of two who put her dreams on hold to make sure her kids pursued their own—and she never has shied away from a challenge or a fight. Planted spinoff follows the premise of The Rookie, which follows the oldest rookie in the LAPD.”
Starring: Niecy Nash
We mostly like this
Van der Valk PBS (returned for SEASON 2 on 9/25/22; RENEWED for SEASON 3, which airs in the UK first)
Detective series based in Amsterdam, but mostly in English. Very well-done.
Starring: Marc Warren, Maimie McCoy, Luke Allen-Gale, Elliot Barnes-Worrell.
We like this for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3
So Help Me, Todd CBS (premiered 9/29/22)
We liked this a LOT, Episode 1, but Episode 2 got into slapstick and silly way too often… Hmmm.
We have always appreciated both Harden and Astin, and they are great together in this fresh approach, a unique legal family dramedy. Give it a try!
“[This series] stars…Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin as razor-sharp, meticulous attorney, Margaret Wright (Harden) and Todd (Astin), her talented but scruffy, aimless son whom she hires as her law firm’s in-house investigator. As the black sheep of the well-heeled Wright family, Todd is a laid-back, quick-thinking, excellent former private detective who fell on hard times after his flexible interpretation of the law got his license revoked. Margaret’s penchant for excellence and strict adherence to the law is at complete odds with Todd’s scrappy methods of finding his way through sticky situations: by the seat of his wrinkled pants. When Todd inadvertently teams with his mother on a case, she’s surprised to find herself duly impressed by—and proud of—his crafty ability to sleuth out information with his charm and his wide-ranging tech savvy. At last, Margaret sees a way to put her son on a ‘suitable’ path to living an adult, financially solvent life she approves of, and she asks him to join her firm. Todd agrees, since it means getting his license back and once again doing the job he excels at and loves. Mother and son working together is a big first step toward mending their fragile, dysfunctional relationship, and they may even come away with a better understanding of each other at this pivotal point in their lives. But whether Todd and Margaret will be able to accept each other for who they are is another case entirely.”
This is fun and unique
East New York CBS (premiered 10/2/22)
Amanda Warren is new to us, and fantastic in this role. Smits and Kind have little to do, but the others are interesting and we like this show.
“Regina Haywood is the newly promoted police captain of East New York, an impoverished, working-class neighborhood at the eastern edge of Brooklyn. She leads a diverse group of officers and detectives, some of whom are reluctant to deploy her creative methods of serving and protecting during the midst of social upheaval and the early seeds of gentrification.”
Starring: Amanda Warren as Deputy Inspector Regina Haywood, Jimmy Smits as Chief John Suarez, Kevin Rankin as Detective Tommy Killian; Richard Kind as Captain Stan Yenko; Elizabeth Rodriguez as Detective Crystal Morales.
We like this
Family Law The CW (premiered 10/2/22)
We have seen all of these stars before and really like them. The two actors who play Bianchi’s half-siblings are new to us, but good. If they can downplay the drinking (especially her mother’s, as played by Lauren Holly) and highlight the cases, we’re in.
“Family Law follows lawyer and recovering alcoholic Abigail Bianchi (Jewel Staite, Firefly) struggling to put her career and family back together after hitting rock bottom. As a condition of her probation, Abby is forced to work at her estranged father Harry’s (Victor Garber) firm, Svensson and Associates, and practice in family law for the first time while forging new relationships with the half-brother Daniel (Zach Smadu) and half-sister Lucy (Genelle Williams) whom she’s never met. The result is a dysfunctional family law firm operating to help other families with their own dysfunctions.”
We like this very much
Blue Bloods CBS (returned 10/14/22 for SEASON 13)
My mom LOVES this show and watches re-runs for fun, mostly because she loves Tom Selleck as the family patriarch and Chief of Police. It’s grown on me.
MORE STORY! Less angst!
Definitely staying tuned, if only to see what these writers are up to each year. SEASON 13 has already kept its promise to include the erstwhile nephew, Joe, Jr., previously unknown son of the dead brother/son, Joe.
Also starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Sami Gayle, Marisa Ramirez and Vanessa Ray.
Okay for SEASON 13
*Grey’s Anatomy ABC (returned 10/6/22 for final SEASON 19)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo. Spawned its 3rd and 4th spin-offs for 2018!
But, WHY do they have to keep threatening to kill Meredith Grey off? TIRED tropes! And, bringing back her dead husband for brief scenes? WHY?
Richard Flood is a good addition and possible love interest for Meredith (“a gift from Cristina”), replacing Karev, but what the HELL, writers? Terrible, not credible, awful departure storyline for Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and horrible treatment of Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington).
Plenty to keep one’s interest, if you like these characters and this kind of drama, which I do (Mom stopped watching this years ago: “Too much sex” was her reason.).
Excellent character arcs for Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Amelia (Caterina Scorsone).
Jake Borelli (the other half of the gay male couple–see below) has done well for SEASONS 16 – 18; now Chief Resident (!?!) for SEASON 19.
Great crop of new interns for this final? SEASON, including one from Glee (Harry Shum, Jr.)! The rest are: Alexis Floyd, Midori Francis, Adelaide Kane, Niko Terho.
Alex Landi is this series’ first gay male surgeon, Dr. Nico Kim. Better late than never!
The series has been groundbreaking with featuring and starring lesbians, bisexuals and questioning women, and some trans characters floated around.
Love the anti-homophobia story lines and the actions/discussions the show inspires, especially for parents of LGBT kids and for everyone about bullying. Excellent PSAs built right into the show.
Very strong return for each SEASON, and I always enjoy it, even though some key characters keep leaving/being asked to leave.
Happy to keep Chris Carmack (Nashville) as the orthopedic surgeon with an attitude and Kim Raver as regulars.
Good for SEASON 19
Station 19 ABC (returned 10/6/22 for SEASON 6)
This show has evolved with many crossovers with Grey’s Anatomy (situations and casting, family overlaps and more), but TOO MUCH SEXUAL and PERSONAL DRAMA! We do keep watching, though…
Starring: Jaina Lee Ortiz, Grey Damon, Barrett Doss, Jason Winston George, Danielle Savre, Jay Hayden, Stefania Spampinatio. Boris Kodjoe, Josh Randall, Carlos Miranda, Merle Dandridge.
Good enough for SEASON 6
The Good Doctor ABC (returned 10/3/22 for SEASON 6)
I had thought I was kind of bored with autistic savant characters (they’re EVERYWHERE, now, aren’t they?), but this series is excellent, despite the trite trope. Each Episode is somewhat Royal Pains-like (improvising in restaurants; chest tubes with ball-point pens types of “surgeries”), but we like it.
SEASONS 2 and 3 had strong starts, despite constant casting shifts. more for SEASON 4: adding new Residents, Summer Brown, Bria Samone Henderson, Noah Galvin, Brian Marc, and no more Nicholas Gonzalez (killed him off). TOO MUCH COVID! SEASON 4 kind of went off the rails into SEASON 5, but then got better midseason.
Starring Freddie Highmore as Shawn Murphy, and including a couple of familiar faces [Richard Schiff (The West Wing) and Hill Harper (Covert Affairs, CSI: NY)]. Also, Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne, Tamlyn Tomita as Allegra Aoki, Christina Chang as Dr. Audrey Lim, Fiona Gubelman as Dr. Morgan Reznick, Paige Spara as Lea Dilallo.
We really like this one; Keeping & okay for SEASON 6
NCIS: Hawai’i CBS (returned 9/20/22 for SEASON 2 [CROSSOVER with NCIS])
“Jane Tennant (Vanessa Lachey), has thrived and risen through the ranks by equal parts confidence and strategy in a system that has pushed back on her every step of the way. Together with her unwavering team of specialists, they balance duty to family and country while investigating high-stakes crimes involving military personnel, national security and the mysteries of the sun-drenched island paradise itself.”
Scripts by Matt Bosack, Jan Nash and Christopher Silber.
Not very exciting opener, but we’ll continue because NCIS. It did get better. SEASON 2 is off to a great start.
Starring Vanessa Lachey as the first female Special Agent in Charge, Jane Tennant, of the NCIS Pearl Harbor field office; and, Yasmine Al-Bustami as Lucy, Jason Antoon as Ernie, and Noah Mills as Jesse.
We like it for SEASON 2
FBI: International CBS (returned 9/19/22 for SEASON 2)
This “follows the elite operatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘International Fly Team.’ Headquartered in Prague, they travel the world with the mission of tracking and neutralizing threats against American citizens wherever they may be. Not allowed to carry guns, the Fly Team relies on intelligence, quick thinking and pure brawn as they put their lives on the line to protect the U.S. and its people.”
The writers and actors handled the 3-way crossover opening night very well. We already watch the first two, so we could follow the casting, but for some, probably very confusing.
Starring: Luke Kleintank, Heida Reed, Vinessa Videtto, Carter Redwood, Christiane Paul (up through SEASON 1), Eva-Jane Willis (starting SEASON 2).
We like it for SEASON 2
F.B.I. CBS (returned 9/20/22 for SEASON 5)
We appreciate this, which fulfills its mandate: “a scripted drama about the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
First Unit Director for this FBI branch was played by Connie Nielsen, then Sela Ward, now De La Garza: that role is not keeping its actors! Not much for them to do, we suspect.
Stars: Alana De La Garza (Forever), Jeremy Sisto, Missy Peregrym, Ebonee Noel, Zeeko Zaki, with Milena Govich (Law & Order) joining as a director/co-executive producer for SEASON 2.
SEASON 3 was okay, and SEASON 4 started with the triple crossover, so, good. But we don’t like where they’re taking some of the main characters’ personalities. Hmmm…
Keeping; okay for SEASON 5
F.B.I.: Most Wanted CBS (returned 9/20/22 for SEASON 4)
We like this spinoff for F.B.I. that is “centered around the division of the FBI tasked with tracking and capturing the notorious criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.”
Written by Dick Wolf and Rene Balcer (Law & Order, The Council) and directed by Fred Berner (Law & Order), this follows Wolf’s Chicago series’ franchise playbook.
Julian McMahon (Marvel’s Runaways) played “Jess LaCroix, an ‘agent’s agent’ who’s at the top of his game and oversees the team from the FBI’s Most Wanted Unit, which is assigned the most extreme and egregious cases.” But, they killed him off in SEASON 3 and brought in Dylan McDermott, who is fine.
Also starring: Kellan Lutz (The Legend Of Hercules, The Expendables 3), Roxy Sternberg (Mars, Emerald City), Alana de la Garza (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders) and the fabulous Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider, Game of Thrones)—all grown up, now—who plays “Lynn Khanna, a cowboy boot-wearing FBI analyst from a conservative Dallas family. She is a master of data-mining and social engineering with a sharp, earthy sense of humor. Lynn is tough, playful and young in years but an old soul at heart.”
De la Garza [is] “A.S.A.C. (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) Isobel Castile, Fugitive Squad Supervisor, polished and focused West Point graduate with a brief stint in Silicon Valley. She’s a rising star who shuns politics and is a guided missile in the field.” Miguel Gomez, another agent, leaves for SEASON 4 and Edwin Hodge replaces him.
Sternberg plays “FBI Agent Sheryll Barnes, an ex-NYPD detective with elevated street smarts.”
Lutz plays “FBI Agent Crosby—an Army intel vet Jess has taken under his wing, communications whiz.” Nathaniel Arcand (Cold Pursuit) did play “Agent Clinton Skye, Mohawk Nation, Jess’ brother-in-law, a marksman with a law degree” in SEASON 1, but was absent for SEASON 2 and not listed for SEASON 3. Why? We liked him in Heartland!
They have interesting plots and characters, but too many go off or are absent and we don’t know why.
We like it; okay for SEASON 4
NCIS CBS (returned 9/19/22 for SEASON 20 [CROSSOVER with NCIS: Hawai’i])
We are fans of this show, but…if it weren’t for Mark Harmon…AND, SPOILER ALERT: he leaves during the early part of this SEASON (19)!!!
Emily Wickersham (Ellie Bishop) left and won’t return for SEASON 19.
Added some good cast members, but lost too many others.
Still starring: Sean Murray, Wilmer Valderrama, Brian Dietzen, Diona Reasonover, Rocky Carroll, and occasionally, David McCallum.
Now starring, also: Gary Cole, Katrina Law.
We like this; okay for SEASON 20
The Resident FOX (returned 9/19/22 for SEASON 6)
SPOILER ALERT: Emily van Camp wanted to leave, so they killed her character off in SEASON 5, early on. Sad.
Jane Leeves (Frasier) ‘s character is an orthopedic surgeon and friend for Bruce Greenwood‘s surgeon character (who has migrated from evil to somewhat good over the SEASONS…?) as they trade being CEOs.
Manish Dayal, Emily van Camp (Revenge, Everwood) and Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife and Gilmore Girls) star(red) in yet another medical drama series. How could we need any more of these? Yet, we LOVE this one!
“This medical drama follows the relationship between a senior resident and a young doctor at a hospital.”
Strong characters and interesting plots. We’re hooked!
HOWEVER, the whiny twin is SO IRRITATING!
Keeping; Okay for SEASON 6
9-1-1 FOX (returned 9/19/22 for SEASON 6)
SEASON 6 has some new characters and mostly returning ones, but odd stories. The subplot with Hen’s (Hinds) going to medical school FULL TIME while keeping her FT EMT job AND acting as station Captain for a week is STUPID and not credible. The other subplots offer too much SOAP OPERA and some aren’t even relevant (dead child under Bassett‘s character’s parents’ home? WHY?).
An Emergency Response drama created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
Starring Angela Bassett and Peter Krause, with ZERO on-screen chemistry, but whose characters somehow got married.
The writers seem to be trying too hard to set up the most bizarre and objectionable characters and rescue situations as possible, but we are underwhelmed and not all that interested during and fast-forward through many scenarios.
Also starring: Oliver Stark, Aisha Hinds, Kenneth Choi, Corinne Massiah, Marcanthonee Reis, Jennifer Love Hewitt.
KEEPING, but not great for SEASON 6
Chicago P.D. NBC (returned 9/21/22 for SEASON 10)
Continually disappointed that so many ON THE FORCE are doing so many bad things. Finally causing untenable tension among the squad in SEASONS 9 – 10.
Starring: Jason Beghe, Marina Squerciati, Jesse Lee Soffer, Patrick Fleuger, Laroyce Hawkins, Amy Morton, Tracy Spiridakos
KEEPING; not great for SEASON 10
Chicago Fire NBC (returned 9/21/22 for SEASON 11)
Good SEASON 11, so far, but why did most of the couples fail? We like these people.
Starring: Jesse Spencer (not regular since SEASON 8), Taylor Kinney, Eamonn Walker, David Eigenberg, Joe Minoso, Kara Killmer, Yuriy Sardarov, Cristian Stolte, Miranda Rae Mayo; adding various each year and losing some.
They keep killing off the wrong characters!
KEEPING; okay for SEASON 11
Chicago Med NBC (returned 9/21/22 for SEASON 8)
Torrey DeVitto and Yaya DaCosta did not return for SEASON 7; their choice. BUT, DaCosta (whose new series was canceled) appeared in SEASON 8’s opener… Hmmm.
Not liking Steven Weber‘s character at all.
Too many love triangles. A bit too much soap opera-esque-ness in these nighttime medical shows: how do they have so much time on their hands?
We LOVE Oliver Platt, and the rest of the cast are good, with interesting (but largely implausible) stories.
Starring: Molly Bernard, Colby Lewis, Nick Gehlfuss, Rachel DiPillo, Brian Tee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Marlyne Barrett; and, Steven Weber. NEW for SEASON 7, new doctors, Guy Lockard and Kristin Hager; also, as an intern, Asjha Cooper.
KEEPING; good for SEASON 8
New Amsterdam NBC (returned 9/20/22 for final SEASON 5)
We like this show, but the main characters have sad lives!
Dear Writers: you do not have to provide an emergency every 2 minutes or kill key characters off to keep our attention. Please, as your character reminded the lead, SLOW DOWN! And, stop killing off characters we like!
“Inspired by Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in America, this unique medical drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the institution’s newest medical director [Ryan Eggold, recently killed off in The Blacklist and star of its short-lived spinoff] who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care. How can he help? Well, the doctors and staff have heard this before. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer, Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded and underappreciated hospital—the only one in the world capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers and the President of the United States under one roof—and return it to the glory that put it on the map.”
Also starring: Freema Agyeman, Janet Montgomery, Jocko Sims, Tyler Labine..
We wish it were more like Red Band Society and less like Bedlam.
We like it; okay for final SEASON 5
The Rookie ABC (returned 9/27/22 for SEASON 5)
We like this, and SEASON 5’s opener was upsetting, but great! But, Fillion is not still a “rookie” so…???
Sad to lose one of the main people (won’t say which one).
One of our favorite (but, of course, short-lived) shows, starring Hayley Atwell, was Conviction. Its co-creator is directing this new series! Liz Friedlander is also the Executive Producer of the ABC pilot of the crime dramedy, which stars one of our all-time favorite dramedy actors, Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), as John Nolan, “the oldest newbie on the LAPD … inspired by a true story. Nolan “cast[s] aside his comfortable, small town life and move[s] to LA to pursue his dream of being a cop….[S]urrounded by rookies 20 years his junior, Nolan must navigate the dangerous, humorous, and unpredictable world of a ‘young’ cop, determined to make his second shot at life count.” We like this a lot.
Fillion plays a complicated, realistic, good-hearted, courageous, intelligent, unmacho middle-aged new cop, which is refreshing, with some others who are somewhat 2-D (so far), but whom we hope will expand as we go along.
Also starring: Alyssa Diaz as another TO-turned Detective, Michael Beach, as career LAPD, now Chief of Internal Affairs; Richard T. Jones (whom we always like) as the Captain; and Eric Winter (whom we also like) as another TO (training, then partnering, and perhaps romantic? with Melissa O’Neil); Mekia Cox was Fillion‘s TO; Shawn Ashmore was a Public Defender, now in the DA’s office, and married to Diaz for SEASON 5; Jenna Dewan as a firefighter/EMT and Fillion‘s GF.
We like it for SEASON 5
D.C.’s Stargirl The CW (returned 8/31/22 for SEASON 3)
We liked SEASON 1 all right, but SEASON 2 was off to a confusing and rocky start, focusing on the newly created Justice Society of America teens group, yet not allowing them to do much, and including new villains without sufficient explanation. We kept up, but SEASON 3 is a disaster. Can’t continue.
“It is based on the DC Comics superhero of the same name … [and] follows high school student, Courtney Whitmore, portrayed by Brec Bassinger, who discovers the ‘cosmic staff’ and becomes the inspiration for a new generation of superheroes who become the Justice Society of America.” Expectedly cheesy, trite, many fights and special effects, but then, unexpected and welcomed humor and twists as well.
Also starring: Luke Wilson, as stepfather and former sidekick to NOT-dead Starman, Joel McHale, for SEASON 3; Amy Smart, as his new wife, mother to Stargirl.
Watchable but worse each SEASON, and awful for SEASON 3
Leonardo The CW (premiered 8/16/22)
This series looked interesting but is very SLOW, with a great cast and production team. It “explores the secrets and drama behind the genius of Leonardo da Vinci (Aidan Turner, Poldark, The Hobbit) – his life, his work and his personal struggles set against the backdrop of Renaissance Italy. The eight-part series follows da Vinci as he grows into an unparalleled genius and renowned polymath whose work overturned the established order. His restless curiosity flitted between arts, science and technology, driven by a profound quest for knowledge and determined to unfold the mysteries of the world around him. The series unlocks the enigma of this extraordinary man, through an untold story of mystery and passion.
“Created by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man in the High Castle, Medici) and Steve Thompson (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and directed by Dan Percival (The Man in the High Castle, Death Comes To Pemberley) and Alexis Sweet (Don Matteo, Back to the Island)…. [and] executive produced by Luca Bernabei, Daniele Passani, Sara Melodia and Luisa Cotta Ramosino,… Frank Spotnitz and Emily Feller,…Freddie Highmore…and Brendan Fitzgerald…”
Starring: Matilda de Angelis (The Undoing) as Caterina da Cremona, Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor, Bates Motel) as Stefano Giraldi, Giancarlo Giannini (Seven Beauties, Quantum of Solace) as Andrea del Verrocchio, Carlos Cuevas (Someone Has To Die) as Salaì, Alessandro Sperduti (Paul, Apostle of Christ) as Tommaso Masini, James D’Arcy (Avengers: Endgame) as Ludovico Sforza, Robin Renucci (Dolce Fine Giornata) as Piero da Vinci, Hugo Becker (Gossip Girl) as Thierry, Miriam Dalmazio (Anna) as Beatrice D’Este and Max Bennet (Bohemian Rhapsody) as Cesare Borgia.
Watched one Episode and can’t seem to go back
Monarch Fox (premiered 9/12/22)
Great cast and okay premise, created by one of the same people (Michael Rauch) who did Instinct and Royal Pains, which we liked, so it could have been good…. It wasn’t. Bait-and-switch, with Susan Sarandon (no spoiler, here): don’t count on her appearances.
Only good part: “The series will feature original music and covers.” Not enough singing and almost not entire songs in Episodes 1, 2 or 3, which was the problem with Nashville, after its first two SEASONS. This one starts out mostly music-less. We’ll give it a few more Episodes, but NONE of the characters is likable!
Starring: Susan Sarandon (sort of) (Thelma & Louise, Dead Man Walking, Feud, Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies, Books of Blood, The Girlfriend Experience).
“Monarch is a Texas-sized, multi-generational musical drama about America’s first family of country music….The Romans are headed by the insanely talented, but tough as nails Queen of Country Music, DOTTIE CANTRELL ROMAN (Sarandon). Along with her beloved husband, Albie, Dottie has created a country music dynasty. But even though the Roman name is synonymous with authenticity, the very foundation of their success is a lie. And when their reign as country royalty is put in jeopardy, heir to the crown NICOLETTE ‘NICKY’ ROMAN (Friel) will stop at nothing to protect her family’s legacy, while ensuring her own quest for stardom.”
Not optimistic; gets worse Episode by Episode
*Under the Vines Acorn (6 Episodes miniseries; premiered 12/6/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2; we wait for DVDs)
VERY low expectations for this, but we tried it. Mom fell asleep in a few minutes! WHY this obsession with Wine Country settings suddenly? Wildfires? Sheesh.
At least this one is in New Zealand! “Rebecca Gibney (Wanted, Packed to the Rafters, Halifax: Retribution) and Charles Edwards (The Crown, The Terror, Downton Abbey) star as two unlikely city slickers who inherit a failing vineyard in rural New Zealand. Sydney socialite Daisy Munroe (Gibney) heads to Peak View, New Zealand for a vacation at her recently deceased stepfather’s winery, which she intends to sell. Little does she know that the vineyard has a co-owner, grumpy UK-born lawyer, Louis Oakley (Edwards), who also travels to the wine region to escape a spiraling series of unfortunate events in his life. Despite neither having done a hard days’ work in their lives and both despising each other, the two must somehow make Oakley Winery successful so they can sell up, split up and get out.”
Also starring: Dean O’Gorman (One Lane Bridge, The Hobbit trilogy), Sara Wiseman (A Place to Call Home), John Bach (The Sounds, Janet King), Matt Whelan (The Sounds), Simon Mead (Nothing Trivial), Sarah Peirse (Poor Boy), Cohen Holloway (Top of the Lake), Carrie Green (Mystic), Catherine Wilkin (Stateless), Robbie Magasiva (Wentworth) and Trae Te Wiki.
We were bored; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Virgin River Netflix (released 7/20/22 for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
Any contemporary romance lovers and/or Robyn Carr readers out here? We sometimes like her novels, and Virgin River has a stellar cast—Alexandra Breckenridge (This Is Us, The Walking Dead), Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy, Miracles From Heaven), Tim Matheson (The Affair, The Good Fight) and Annette O’Toole (Smallville, Marvel’s The Punisher) —that is based on twenty of Carr’s novels, all set in one small town (a common author-of-romances ploy). So far, we like it and will continue (watched 2 Episodes)
SEASON 4 opened right where SEASON 3 left off, which we like. Still liking this. But, the subplot about Hope’s (Annette O’Toole) TBI, with its fatigue and selective amnesia, are uncomfortably familiar, for me.
SEASON 3 was good, but two simultaneous Baby Mamas for Jack are a bit much, especially when he isn’t going to get to raise his first, due to Charmaine’s and her new husband’s obstinacy, and Mel’s might not be “his.” Some great surprises in SEASON 4’s ending, too.
SEASONS 2 & 3 were a bit darker than SEASON 1, but we still like it a lot.
“Melinda Monroe (Breckenridge)…answers an ad to work as a nurse practitioner in the remote California town of Virgin River. Desperate to move on from her painful past, she’s left everything behind in Los Angeles, thinking it will be the perfect place to start fresh and leave her painful memories behind. But she soon discovers that small-town living isn’t quite as simple as she expected and that she must learn to heal herself before she can truly make Virgin River her home. Henderson plays Jack Sheridan, a sharp-witted ex-Marine commander, who moved to Virgin River after his service was over in search of a peaceful life, far away from the horrors of war. Matheson portrays Doc Mullins. Set in his ways and a bit of a curmudgeon, he’s not keen on working with anyone including Mel, who he views as a challenge to his authority. O’Toole is Hope McCrea, Virgin River’s brash and blunt mayor—a little rough around the edges, but her saving grace is her love for the town and her mission to preserve it….[Also features] Jenny Cooper (Grey’s Anatomy) as Joey Barnes, Mel’s charming older sister, adviser, trusted confidante, and best friend; David Cubitt (Siren) as Calvin, the unquestioned leader of the largest of the many illegal pot fields that litter the landscape around Virgin River; Lexa Doig (Arrow) as Paige Lassiter, a local entrepreneur, and an illustrious baker with a warm smile who has secrets of her own; Daniel Gillies (The Originals) as Mark: Mel’s first love, strikingly handsome and accomplished, a surgeon in the Los Angeles ER where Mel worked; Lauren Hammersley (Orphan Black) as Charmaine Roberts, an attractive hair stylist from nearby Clear River, and competition for Jack’s attention; Benjamin Hollingsworth (Code Black) as Dan Brady, another former Marine under Jack’s command, Brady differs from Preacher in almost every way; Colin Lawrence (Riverdale) as John “Preacher” Middleton, Jack’s best friend, the two men served in the military together, and Ian Tracey (Bates Motel) as Jimmy, Calvin’s lieutenant and enforcer, anyone unfortunate enough to incur Calvin’s wrath is inevitably forced to deal with Jimmy.”
If you like evening soap operas, you’ll love this! Glad it was renewed.
We like it; Good for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5
The Good Fight CBS Access (DVDs for 5 SEASONS; RENEWED for final SEASON 6)
We loved The Good Wife and were sad that this new spinoff was pay-per-view for a few years. Delighted to find the DVDs at our local library! LOVED SEASONS 1, 2, 3, but SEASON 4 started out AWFUL. Got better, but not by much. SEASON 5 was back to its original great writing and situations, and we liked most of it a lot.
Returning/continuing are: Cush Jumbo (through SEASON 5 Episode 1, only), Christine Baranski, Gary Cole, and some others who pop up occasionally, notably, Carrie Preston, Sarah Steele, Matthew Perry, Bernadette Peters, Wanda Sykes, Michael J. Fox, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Paul Guilfoyle, Justin Bartha, Delroy Lindo, Rose Leslie, Erica Tazel, Nyambi Nyambi, Louis Gossett, Jr., Michael Sheen, Wayne Brady, and so many more greats who are regulars or guest/recurring stars, adding the wonderful Audra MacDonald in SEASON 2 for the rest of the series.
The writing and directing are stellar (but not consistently done by the same people).
Added the wonderful Audra MacDonald for the rest of the series.
The cartoon info sections are amazing and fun. The timeliness of various plotlines and characters is eerie.
This was fabulous, but uneven; RENEWED for final SEASON 6, then CANCELED
Queens of Mystery Acorn TV (DVDs, for us, in 2020/22; better for SEASON 2; releases late in 2022 for SEASON 3)
We are somewhat disappointed by this series. We watched all of SEASON 1 and were mostly bored, but SEASON 2 was slightly better, even with one of the leads recast and too many WIGS. Had some great graphics and some good acting (the narration is a bit heavy-handed and some characters are stereotypes), but the stories can be silly to the point of dull.
This network offers MANY great shows, including this: an original six-part female detective series, created by writer, Julian Unthank (New Tricks and Doc Martin), starring Olivia Vinall (The Woman in White) for SEASON 1 and Florence Hall for SEASON 2, co-starring Julie Graham (The Bletchley Circle) and Sarah Woodward (The Politician’s Husband), featuring Siobhan Redmond (Alfresco), Andrew Leung (Doctor Who), Rebecca Grant (Holby City) and Martin Trenaman (The Inbetweeners).
“Queens of Mystery follows Matilda Stone, played by Vinalli Hall], a perennially single female detective and her three aunts, played by Graham, Woodward and Redmond, who are well-known crime writers that help her solve whodunit style murders as well as set her up on blind dates. Leung plays the dashing Dr. Daniel Lynch, Grant as Daniel’s mean-spirited girlfriend, Natasha; Michael Elcock as Police Constable Terry Foster, who has long been in love with Matilda, and Trenaman plays dry Inspector Derek Throne. The Amelie-esque contemporary murder mystery series will feature quirky characters, fast-paced dialogue and darkly comic murders.”
SEASONS 1 & 2 are on DVD & on Amazon.
We watch on DVD; okay for first 2 SEASONS; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Sweet Magnolias Netflix (returned 2/4/22 for SEASON 2, but too saccharine)
Small town life, female friendships, non-violent and romantic plots, from author, Sheryl Woods: what’s not to like? SEASON 2 has started too trite and sweet for us, though. Brooke Elliot (from Drop Dead Diva) and JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Reba, Kevin Saves the World) and Heather Headley (Chicago Med) are going to co-star, with romances abounding for each.
We liked this a lot; but, too saccharine for SEASON 2
*Unorthodox Netflix (3/26/20, released 4 Episodes [Parts] as SEASON 1; RENEWED for SEASON 2, perhaps releasing summer, 2022)
“Born and raised in a New York Hasidic community, Esty feels tormented after a fruitless first year of marriage; she runs away to Berlin and finds new freedom.” Adapted from Deborah Feldman’s 2012 nonfiction memoir: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots .
Mostly good, but many characters are 2- dimensional and stereotypical, which was disappointing. Jumping around in the timeline was handled better than most, but it’s trite. Acting by leads is excellent, and the plot twists are interesting. Overall, sad and scary depiction of a religious cult, its lies and oppressiveness, especially towards women, and the awful hypocrisy of its own rules, with two (maybe 3) escapees.
Because it’s in German, Yiddish and English, with some Hebrew, has many subtitles.
Starring: Shira Haas, who is AMAZING! With Amit Rahav, Aaron Altaras, Jeff Wilbusch, Alex Reid and more.
Very disturbing and well-done, both; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Endeavor BBC/PBS Masterpiece/Amazon Prime (returned 6/10/22 for 3-Episodes-only SEASON VIII; RENEWED for SEASON final IX)
We really like this show, but SEASON VIII is kind of dark for our hero: lots of drinking and grumpiness! A ’60’s era British detective/crime-solving series that my mom and I have been enjoying on Amazon Prime and plan to finish by watching recordings from PBS.
We have watched all of SEASONS I through VII, now (8/16/20) and, except for the vocal music (‘way too much opera and classical /religious choral music for my taste, which wants NONE of that), believe this is one of the best series of its type around. Barrington Pheloung writes the other music, which is beautiful (and not vocal).
Apparently, a closely-guarded secret from his peers and friends is Detective Morse’s first name, which is “Endeavor.”
This series is a prequel to the beloved (but one we haven’t watched, yet) Inspector Morse series; both are set primarily in Oxford, England. SEASON 8 will fall somewhere around 1971 or 1972, roughly 15 years away from the original Inspector Morse’s 1987 beginnings.
Starring Shaun Evans as young Endeavour Morse, who is beginning his career as a Detective Constable with the Oxford City Police CID, the series has a great supporting and co-starring cast, including Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, Jack Lasky and Sean Rigby on the police force, with recurring roles/frequent appearances by Caroline O’Neill, Sara Vickers, Abigail Thaw and Shvorne Marks. Pilot episode aired in 2012. SEASON 6 will appear in mid-2019.
Enjoy this a lot; KEEPING and watched; RENEWED through SEASON 9
Dark Winds AMC (premiered 6/12/22; RENEWED for SEASON 2 and returns summer/fall 2023); RENEWED)
“Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon star in a series adaptation of Tony Hillerman‘s Leaphorn & Chee book series, set in the Navajo Nation in 1971.”
Very implausible and quite dated, but well-done.
We kind of like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2
*The Old Man FX (premiered 6/16/22)
“A seven-episode adaptation of Thomas Perry‘s novel of the same name, The Old Man finds Jeff Bridges returning to a regular TV role for the first time since the early 1960s. He plays Dan Chase, a former CIA agent (played in flashbacks by Bill Heck) who is now living off the grid. But when he is the target of a failed assassination attempt, he finds that he can no longer escape his past. Other old men, John Lithgow and Joel Grey, also star, as do Alia Shawkat, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Amy Brenneman, and E.J. Bonilla.”
Great cast, but it’s all too dark and impossible for my mom to see!
Great twist to end SEASON 2
So far, interesting
Transplant CTV/NBC (good for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Premiered 2/26/20 on CTV, it “centers on Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed, a Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills in emergency medicine who fled his country with his younger sister, Amira. Together they struggle to build a new life in Canada as Bash strives to rebuild his career in medicine.”
Stars: Hamza Haq (Quantico), Laurence Leboeuf (The Disappearance), John Hannah (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Jim Watson (Mary Kills People) and Ayisha Issa (Polar).
This focuses on plot/medicine and not so much romance, so far, which is amazing! We generally like Canadian series, and we like this one.
We liked it for SEASON 2
Borgen Netflix (SEASONS 1 – 4 available NOW; FINAL SEASON 4, “Power & Glory,” released 6/2/22)
We liked this a LOT! It’s dubbed (Danish – English), but not badly. Only written items have subtitles.
“Borgen is a Danish political drama series …[I]ts depiction of government is in stark contrast to our current, gloomy reality….From 2010, starring Sidse Babett Knudsen and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and is written by Adam Price ….The first season launched in 2010, the second season in 2011 and the third season was launched in 2013….Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg [Knudsen] wins a shocking victory and ushers in a wave of political struggles….(Borgen, which means castle, is what the Danes call their parliament.)….Borgen is more than intricate political drama, though: it is intimate drama, politics made human. It is about democracy and people: relationships between people, the relationship between work and home (especially interesting at the moment). It is about journalism, women, values, having children, not having children. It is about you and me. Nyborg …is a fabulous character: strong, ambitious, confident, but also genuine and honest. She has a three-dimensional home life, a hot husband and she rides a bicycle—of course.”
Wish they’d given more explanation about the time jump and intervening years between SEASONS 3 & 4, though. Kind of confusing, at first, but gets better.
Got an unexpected 4th SEASON, Power & Glory, June, 2022! (Maybe because it won lots of awards.)
We like it; great for final SEASON 4
*Working Moms Netflix (6 SEASONS released Jan, 2017- May, 2022; RENEWED for SEASON 7)
“Warm, loyal PR executive, Kate and her longtime friend, no-nonsense psychiatrist, Anne, attend a judgmental mommies’ group, where they meet timid IT tech, Jenny, and blindly optimistic real estate agent, Frankie. The four quickly form an unlikely friendship, sharing struggles of urban motherhood filled with the chaos of toddlers, tantrums, careers, and identity crises, all while trying to achieve the holy grail: a sense of self. The ensemble comedy is largely drawn from the personal experiences of star/co-creator Catherine Reitman (Blackish, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).”
Also starring: Jessalyn Wanlim, Dani Kind, Enuka Okuma, and Juno Rinaldi.
Based in Toronto and Calgary, it’s funny, sad, astonishing, weird, shocking, and fascinating.
It grows on me; RENEWED for SEASON 7
The Lincoln Lawyer Netflix (SEASON 1 released 5/13/22; RENEWED for SEASON 2, Spring, 2023)
“Sidelined after an accident, hotshot Los Angeles lawyer, Mickey Haller, restarts his career—and his trademark Lincoln—when he takes on a murder case. When his former law partner is killed, Mickey Haller is left to take over the firm, including a high-profile murder trial. With the biggest case he’s ever had to tackle out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, Mickey discovers there may be more at stake than he thought. Based on the bestselling novels by Michael Connelly…” Created for TV by the great David E. Kelley!
We liked the film and Kelley makes great a series, usually. Some great cast members are in it whom we already know.
This is very good and getting better with each Episode.
Trailer here: https://www.renewcanceltv.com/netflix-announces-new-series-the-lincoln-lawyer-premiere-date-official-trailer/
Starring: Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Neve Campbell, Becki Newton, Angus Sampson, Jazz Raycole, Christopher Gorham, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Krista Warner, Jamie McShane, Michael Graziadei, LisaGay Hamilton, Reggie Lee.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Pieces of Her Netflix (8 Episodes miniseries; available winter, 2022)
“Based on Karin Slaughter‘s 2018 novel, Pieces of Her is an eight-part series adaptation about a mother-daughter relationship and the secrets we keep from those closest to us. Pieces of Her follows 30-year-old Andy Oliver (played by Bella Heathcote), who finds herself caught in a deadly mass shooting in a local diner.”
We are both longtime Slaughter fans and appreciated this adaptation a lot. Toni Collette is amazing, and each of the actors plays well-developed characters very well. The jumping around in the timelines is a bit jarring, but the casting of the younger/older versions of the same characters is perfect.
Also starring: Omari Hardwick, David Wenham, Jacob Scipio, Jessica Barden, Joe Dempsie.
We were captivated
*The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window Netflix (SEASON 1 available winter, 2022; SEASON 2 limbo)
“Mixing wine, pills, casseroles and an overactive imagination, Anna obsesses over a hunky neighbor across the street and witnesses a murder. Or did she?”
Anna has suffered an unspeakable tragedy and isn’t coping well 3 years later. Then, more shit happens. Kristen Bell is wonderful, as are the others. Great plot twists.
Also starring: Tom Riley, Mary Holland, Cameron Britton, Samsara Leela Yett, Michael Ealy.
This was intriguing
*Sanditon PBS (returned 3/20/22; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
“Based on Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel and developed by…writer, Andrew Davies, …the drama will continue to follow the high-spirited and independent heroine, Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams, Curfew) as she returns to the picturesque coastal resort of Sanditon. Charlotte’s journey is one thread of an intricate tapestry of compelling stories full of intrigue, excitement, and romance. Against the backdrop of beautiful vistas, familiar faces return and new inhabitants are introduced – all of whom will be having adventures as joyous and surprising as the seaside town itself.”
The pace is maddingly slow, and even worse for SEASON 2. Typical Austen, IMO. I watch, but not carefully.
Justin Young (Death in Paradise, Ripper Street) and Davies, who originally created the series, will share writing duties for SEASONS 2 & 3.
I like it somewhat; not for Mom; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Paramount+ First Episode free on Youtube/ DVDs for us after that (premiered 5/5/22; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Anson Mount reprises his role from other parts of this franchise as an early Captain Pike. Great casting for younger versions of Spock (Ethan Peck), Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), and other crew, including James T. Kirk’s father and a young James himself in SEASON 2, with great additions (a dark-haired Rebecca Romijn, as Number One, among others)!
We love this!
Star Trek: Picard Paramount+ / DVDs for us (has 2 SEASONS out, one on DVD as of 4/1/22; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
Patrick Stewart is joined by Jeri Ryan, Michelle Hurd and Alison Pill along with Santiago Cabrero (playing multiple roles) and many oldies and goodies from TNG who randomly or frequently appear in a great new addition to the Star Trek universes(s). We love this!
We love this!
*Abbott Elementary ABC (returned 9/21/22 for SEASON 2)
This series is billed as a “workplace comedy” in which “a group of dedicated, passionate teachers—and a slightly tone-deaf principal—are brought together in a Philadelphia public school where, despite the odds stacked against them, they are determined to help their students succeed in life. Though these incredible public servants may be outnumbered and underfunded, they love what they do—even if they don’t love the school district’s less-than-stellar attitude toward educating children.”
Surprisingly good, even if sometimes trite and/or stereotyped. As a former elementary teacher and trainer of the same, I find many aspects ring true. Fun to watch; not fun to live or work there!
Starring: Quinta Brunson (who also serves as creator, co-writer and co-executive producer) as Janine Teagues, Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie, Janelle James as Ava Coleman, Chris Perfetti as Jacob Hill, Lisa Ann Walter as Melissa Schemmenti and Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard.
*Sex Education Netflix (3 SEASONS released by winter, 2022; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Kudos to the writers (Laurie Nunn, Freddy Syborn, Laura Neal, Mawaan Rizwan, Sophie Goodhart, Bisha K. Ali, Laura Hunter) and actors (see below) for depicting adolescent and adult sexual and emotional connections of many types, separately and together, while conveying accurate information in entertaining ways.
It begins with this logline: “Insecure Otis has all the answers when it comes to sex advice, thanks to his therapist mom,” but goes way beyond that by SEASON 3. Fuller description, here: “Socially awkward high school student, Otis [Asa Butterfield], may not have much experience in the lovemaking department, but he gets good guidance on the topic in his personal sex ed course — living with mom, Jean [Gillian Anderson], who is a sex therapist. Being surrounded by manuals, videos and tediously open conversations about sex, Otis has become a reluctant expert on the subject. When his classmates learn about his home life, Otis decides to use his insider knowledge to improve his status at school, so he teams with whip-smart bad girl Maeve to set up an underground sex therapy clinic to deal with their classmates’ problems. But through his analysis of teenage sexuality, Otis realizes that he may need some therapy of his own.”
With excellent performances by: Asa Butterfield, Aimee Lou Wood, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Mimi Keene, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Alistair Petrie, Tanya Reynolds, Patricia Allison, Mikael Persbrandt, and many more; plus, great costumes and sets. This unique series deserves every nomination and award it’s been receiving.
A few complaints (from this writer, teacher, parent, former sex educator, therapist and group worker with adolescents): 1) Because the scenes are so explicit and have so many semi-nude and sexually graphic bits, no school can use it for the wonderful information it offers. 2) Because it’s on a paid streaming service only (Netflix), some won’t ever see it who most need to see it. 3) Almost all the “teen” actors are actually in their young adult years; some are over 25 by SEASON 3! I understand that it’s hard to have actual teens (and perhaps not even legal to use them) in these kinds of shows, but 20-somethings do not play as teens so well. Really. They do not. Watch Glee. 4) There are more scenes and storylines devoted to the bizarre, the fetishists, homosexuals, pansexuals, role-playing, and some very unhealthy relationships than more ordinary and/or healthy ones, which may give many the impression that these relationships do not exist any more in high schools. But, watch any other teen-based show for those, right? 5) With such a large cast and so many subplots, it’s hard to keep it all straight and, worse, some of the actors look alike.
Overall, a hugely diverse cast and important plot and character situations make this very compelling and interesting.
Amazingly honest, accurate and explicit
The Blacklist NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 10)
Unnecessarily confusing, too many double-ad triple-crosses. Too dark to see much. Not liking it much.
The new relationship between Lizzie and Reddington /not-Reddington is intriguing, though, and we like the nuances and mysteries. Great performances by all.
Plot for SEASON 8 sucks, though, and can’t imagine why it was renewed. SEASON 8 jumps ahead a few years, then keep backtracking. Very confusing. Not liking it.
We miss Megan Booth.
Starring: James Spader, Diego Klattenhoff, Amir Arison, Hisham Tawfiq, Laura Sohn, and Harry Lennix.
Not great for SEASON 9; RENEWED
The Equalizer CBS (returned 10/2/22 for SEASON 3)
We only saw the original films, starring Denzel Washington, so this is not a reboot, for us. Sounded and IS interesting, though, and we like Queen Latifah, who stars.
“A reimagining of the classic series in which an enigmatic figure uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn.”
We like this a lot, because it guarantees a happy outcome for every Episode! Great chemistry among the main cast, also.
Also starring: Lorraine Touissant, Adam Goldberg, Chris Noth (AXED for #MeToo!), Liza Lapira, Tory Kittles.
We like this a lot; good for SEASON 3
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (look for it spring, 2023; RENEWED for SEASON 10)
Erin Krakow is good as the lead character, Elizabeth Thatcher, a rich young woman who left her safe, city family life to become a Canadian prairie teacher in a one-room school house. Yes; hers is one of my alternate reality jobs.
But, they have become more of a love-triangle/soap opera since they killed off the adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest/now husband (SEASON 5).
Chris McNally (Supernatural) and Kevin McGarry (Heartland) joined as the two vying for Elizabeth’s affections in SEASON 6: McNally is Lucas Bouchard, “a charming gambler and saloon owner who is hiding more than a card up his sleeve.” McGarry is Nathan Grant, “the epitome of the strong, silent type and takes all his responsibilities to heart as the new Mountie in town.”
Lori Loughlin was justifiably AXED due to her indictments for criminal behaviors (March, 2019).
Other characters are also “stock” and mostly two-dimensional, but I blame the Hallmark Channel‘s writers (Janette Oke and Derek Thompson, most recently, but there are 18+!) more than I fault the actors.
Also has Chelah Horsdal and many others from the Hallmark stock character stables.
The show is very sappy, predictable, silly and overly sentimental, with many stereotypes and tropes, but I still watch.
SPOILER ALERT: Elizabeth is widowed while pregnant (of course, since the film of the same name stars the character who is Elizabeth and Jack’s granddaughter).
Okay for SEASON 8; sappier than ever for SEASON 9
*Resident Alien Syfy (returned 1/26/22 for first half of SEASON 2; resumed 8/10/22)
This was disappointing, at first, and Mom didn’t continue after Episode 1. It seemed to be a one-note premise, and I wasn’t seeing where they can actually go from the first Episode, but I continued and have been pleasantly surprised. I watched the entire SEASON! Glad it was renewed. SEASON 2 has been great.
Starring Rogue One and Firefly’s Alan Tudyk, with Sara Tomko (Once Upon A Time), Corey Reynolds (The Closer), Alice Wetterlund (People of Earth) and Levi Fiehler (Mars), based on the comics series by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. It is “a dark, twisted and comedic fish-out-of-water story. Adapted for television by Chris Sheridan (Family Guy), it follows a crash-landed alien named Harry (Tudyk) who, after taking on the identity of a small-town Colorado doctor, slowly begins to wrestle with the moral dilemma of his secret mission on Earth— ultimately asking the question, ‘Are human beings worth saving?’ David Dobkin (The Judge) executive produced and directed the pilot.”
Surprisingly engaging; great for SEASON 2
*Upload AZ Prime (2 SEASONS released, so far: May, 2020 & 3/11/22; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
“A man is able to choose his own afterlife after his untimely death” is the logline for this sci=fi comedy romance by Greg Daniels (The Office, Space Force, King of the Hill, Parks & Recreation). It grows on you; believe me. The premise is this: “In the near future, you can have your consciousness uploaded to a digital afterlife after you die.”
Of course, many shenanigans and problems ensue, raising key issues of how much stock we put into our outward appearances, classism affecting us even after death, and other serious issues strewn artfully among the laughs..
Starring: Robbie Amell, Andy Allo, Allegra Edwards, William B. Davis and Jessica Tuck among many other fine performers
I like this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 3
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (2/22/22 and subsequent Fridays for 2 Episodes each, returned for SEASON 4; RENEWED for final SEASON 5)
Special video, “Music of Mrs. Maisel,” released during June, 2020, of coronavirus pandemic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z036fil8ang&feature=youtu.be
SEASON 4 has a weird roll-out (see above), and the scripts are very uneven. Not liking them much.
We liked SEASON 3 all right, but the Episodes written by the husband of the husband-wife writing team of Daniel and Amy Sherman-Palladino are not as good as hers….
SEASON 2 was great. SEASONS 1 & 2 won Golden Globes and other awards.
This is an unsurprisingly delightful (coming from Daniel and Amy Sherman-Palladino of The Gilmore Girls, among other shows of theirs that I like) period piece, circa 1962 (Lenny Bruce’s stand-up era) that features a kick-ass, funny, smart, young Jewish wife & mother who accidentally becomes a stand-up comic after her pathetic, cheating husband aspires to have his own stand-up career and fails miserably, then leaves her for another woman.
“Set in early 1960s Manhattan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a 60-minute dramedy that centers on Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a sunny, energetic, sharp, Jewish girl who had her life mapped out for herself: go to college, find a husband, have kids, and throw the best Yom Kippur dinners in town. Soon enough, she finds herself exactly where she had hoped to be, living happily with her husband and two children in the Upper West Side. A woman of her time, Midge is a cheerleader wife to a man who dreams of a stand-up comedy career, but her perfect life is turned upside down when her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman. Completely unprepared, Midge is left with no choice but to reevaluate what to do with her life. When she accidentally stumbles onto the stage at a comedy club, she soon discovers her own comedic skills and decides to use this newfound talent to help her rebuild a different life for herself.”
Starring the fabulous, award-winning Rachel Brosnahan in the title role as “Midge” (Miriam) and Michael Zegen as her awful husband. Also featuring Luke Kirby as the infamous Lenny Bruce, and the inimitable Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s unsupportive father and Marin Hinkle (doing double-duty as the principle of Speechless‘ high school, too) as her frosty mother. With Alex Borstein as her staunchest supporter/new agent,
Gained Zachary Levi for SEASON 2.
Intelligent, funny, poignant and interesting.
We watched all of SEASONS 1 – 3 and are into 4, despite its weirdness.
Love this! RENEWED for final SEASON 5
RFDS (Royal Flying Doctors Service) PBS in April, 2022; Acorn/DVDs for us (8 Episodes released in 2021; RENEWED for SEASON 2, coming in 2023)
Set in the rural area of Broken Hill in New South Wales of Australian’s Outback, this actual Service is fascinating and amazing. Excellent acting, stories, scenes and medical issues with realistic relationships and difficulties. “Doctors, nurses, pilots, and support staff of the Royal Flying Doctor Service navigate the unique challenges of their jobs, as well as their personal lives.” Great, strong female and indigenous actors and characters, with a few LGBT, too, and subplots with high schoolers/new adults as well.
Starring a great cast: Emma Hamilton, Stephen Peacocke, Ash Ricardo, Jack Scott, Rob Collins, Justine Clarke, Thomas Weatherall, Sofia Nolan.
Excellent and interesting; RENEWED
Reacher Amazon (released 2/4/22; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Reacher, “a series based on the character from Lee Child’s bestselling series of books, anti-hero, Jack Reacher, that will be scripted by Nick Santora (Scorpion, Prison Break) (played by a very much-too-short Tom Cruise in the films). The first season will be based on the first Jack Reacher novel, The Killing Floor.”
Starring: Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher; Willa Fitzgerald as Roscoe Conklin; also featuring Malcolm Goodwin as Oscar Finlay, Chris Webster as KJ.
Despite a lot of fighting, car chases and shooting, we liked this a lot and are glad it was renewed.
FMI and trailer: https://www.whattowatch.com/watching-guides/reacher-release-date-cast-plot-trailer
Lots of fighting/shooting, but very well done; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Superman & Lois The CW (returned 1/11/22 for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Introduced as a couple (Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch) with one or two sons (depending on which multiverse they were in) within the DC Universe on The CW ‘s 5-series’ Crossover Episodes of 2019-20, this new series “follows the world’s most famous superhero and comic books’ most famous journalist as they deal with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society.”
In this version, the couple has male twins (fraternal) who are just discovering their pop’s secret identity and their own powers in Episode 1, as they return to live in Smallville after Martha Kent dies and Clark is laid off from The Daily Planet.
We like it, sort of, but it’s VERY modern and dark, and that is all a bit jarring.
We sort of like it; okay for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3
All Creatures Great and Small, Masterpiece, PBS (Christmas special coming and “behind the scenes” in 2021; returned for SEASON 2, 1/9/22 in the USA; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4)
We LOVE this “brand new adaptation based on best-selling author, James Herriot’s, cherished and iconic collection of stories….Since their first publication in 1970, the beloved books of James Alfred Wight, published under the pen name James Herriot, have held a special place in people’s hearts throughout the world. Chronicling the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet, the books introduced readers to his unconventional mentor and the cast of farmers and townsfolk who lived and worked in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s….
“James Alfred Wight OBE FRCVS was a veterinary surgeon who graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College at the age of 23. He headed to a veterinary practice in Thirsk, Yorkshire, in 1940 where he fell in love with the Dales and the woman he would marry, Joan Danbury. Wight later wrote stories based on his own adventures as a young country vet, under the pen name James Herriot. Herriot quickly became one of Britain’s best-loved authors.
“This new adaptation will preserve the rich spirit, tone and values of Herriot’s iconic characters and stories and will bring to life his sharply observed, entertaining and incredibly funny tales of country life in the North of England for a modern audience, introducing a new generation to his life-affirming stories.”
Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer of Masterpiece, says: “’We promise that the new series will have all the wit, warmth, and quirky charm of the original – and of course, lots of irresistible animals.’”
Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom) is lead writer and Executive Producer and Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) is lead director.
Beautifully shot, acted, and written. A bit graphic regarding the real life of these country vets, but great, anyway.
Wonderful! RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Acorn; DVDs for us (SEASON 2 premiered on Acorn 6/7/21 with 8 Episodes; we got the DVDs after December, 2021; 4 Episodes for SEASON 1 released 4/29/19)
I got Mom to watch a few of the original series, then we watched the DVD of SEASON 1 of this spinoff of the original Australian series (see above) together. We liked it very much! It was also great for SEASON 2!
“Peregrine [is] the niece of the original Miss Phryne Fisher—evoking the same spirit, sense of social conscience and love of fashion as her famous aunt….In 1964, when the famous aunt she never knew, Phryne Fisher, goes missing over the highlands of New Guinea, the gorgeously reckless Peregrine Fisher (Geraldine Hakewill, Wanted) inherits a windfall. Peregrine sets out to become a world-class private detective in her own right with the unerring guidance of The Adventuresses’ Club, a group of exceptional women of which her celebrated aunt was a member. A natural rule breaker, Peregrine is fearless, fun, and charmingly down-to-earth, as well as having a keen INSTINCT for solving crimes. With newfound wealth and The Adventuresses to hone her rough edges and become THE FAMILY she’s never had, Peregrine is unstoppable. The series co-stars Joel Jackson (Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door, Deadline Gallipoli) as smart, ambitious cop, Detective James Steed, and Catherine McClements (Wentworth) as Birdie, an ex-member of WW2 Special Forces and head of The Adventuresses.”
Enjoyed DVD of SEASON 1 very much; great also for SEASON 2!
*Around the World in 80 Days Masterpiece PBS (premiered 1/2/22; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
The opening Episode is very fast-paced and a bit confusing, but interesting. We’ll continue.
“The classic, beloved tale by author Jules Verne, is sailing on over to MASTERPIECE! Pack your bags for the upcoming adventure starring David Tennant (Doctor Who, Good Omens) as the great explorer, Phineas Fogg, Ibrahim Kona as Passepartout, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail Fix.”
Only I like it all right
My Life is Murder Acorn/others; DVD for us (released in 2019; great for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3, on DVD April, 2023)
We like the star, Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus), and Melbourne, and SEASON 2 is moving to New Zealand, which we also like. “…[R]etired detective [and widow], Alexa Crowe (Lawless), [moves] back to her Kiwi roots, where she’s once again unable to resist when asked to look into a bizarre unsolved murder. Joined again by her partner-in-crime-solving, Madison Feliciano (Ebony Vagulans) as well as series newcomers, the charismatic detective Harry, Rawiri Jobe (The Brokenwood Mysteries), and café owner, Reuben, Joe Naufahu (Game of Thrones), she quickly finds herself investigating other murder mysteries in surprising, glamorous worlds filled with intriguing characters who are hiding dangerous and deadly secrets.”
SEASON 2 “will reunite Lawless with several former castmates from iconic series, including Anna Hutchison (Spartacus), Graham Vincent (Spartacus), Jay Ryan (Beauty and The Beast, It Chapter Two, Mary Kills People) and Bruce Hopkins (Lord of the Rings, Xena: Warrior Princess), as well as an array of acclaimed actors in guest star roles, including William Shatner (Star Trek, Haven), Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy, The Gloaming), Bill Bailey (Black Books, Ralph Spaced), Michelle Ang (Fear The Walking Dead, Triple 9), Sara Wiseman (A Place to Call Home, Rake), Matt Whelan (Narcos: Mexico, The Sounds),… Kita Mean (RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under), Amanduh La Whore and many more.
We really like this; RENEWED for SEASON 3
*You Netflix (returned 10/15/21 for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
I checked on this show out of curiosity and got hooked; watching the entire series. Stellar acting; disturbing story and characters.
You was “developed by Sera Gamble & Greg Berlanti based on the book by Caroline Kepnes.” It involves multiple murders, stalking, obsession, narcissism, misogyny, bookstore, writing, female competitions, overbearing parents, class wars: not very uplifting.
SEASON 3 is in the SF Bay Area ‘burbs and has our antihero married to Love Quinn and raising their baby while murdering, conniving, etc., and in couple’s counseling. Very strange.
Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting Of Hill House), the new stalking victim, opposite stalker/murderer, Penn Badgely (Gossip Girl) in this “psychological thriller,” has become his co-star and co-criminal early in SEASON 3, with a neighborhood nemesis played by Shalita Grant (NCIS: New Orleans).
“Pedretti [is] Love Quinn, [who was] an aspiring chef working as a produce manager in a high-end grocery store. Love is uninterested in the world of social media, branding and self-promotion, focused instead on leading an interesting life. She is also tending to a deep grief—and when she meets Joe Goldberg (Badgley), she senses a shared knowledge of profound, life-changing loss.”
I find it more disturbing and fascinating than “thrilling,.” Very well-acted and -directed and it seems to have been written by someone who understands narcissistic, violent, misogynistic obsession all too well.
Still watching, reluctantly, for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4
CSI: Vegas CBS (returned 9/29/22 for SEASON 2)
“This sequel to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation opens a brand-new chapter in Las Vegas— the city where it all began. Facing an existential threat that could bring down the entire Crime Lab and release thousands of convicted killers back onto the neon-lit streets of Vegas, a brilliant new team of investigators led by Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) must enlist the help of old friends, Gil Grissom (William Petersen), Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), Paul Guilfoyle and David Hodges (Wallace Langham). This combined force will deploy the latest forensic techniques to do what they do best—follow the evidence—in order to preserve and serve justice in Sin City.”
We were big fans of the first version and like this reboot. SEASON 2 is off to a great start, with Helgenberger back, for mysterious reasons.
Starring returning cast members, William Petersen and Jorja Fox (SEASON 1 only), plus Wallace Langham, and Marg Helgenberger (SEASON 2 only), with the new team led by Paula Newsome, with Matt Lauria, Mel Rodriguez and Mandeep Dhillon.
Great reboot; RENEWED for SEASON 2
*Titans HBO Max/TNT (Airs first on HBO Max, then two years later, TNT; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
The premises are preposterous and the backstories and characters for Batman, Robin(s) (Dick Grayson and others) are unusual, but I never read the graphic novels these are based on, so what do I know?
“TITANS follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find where they belong. In season three, circumstances draw our heroes to Gotham City, where they reunite with old friends and face new threats.”
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Conor Leslie, Curran Walters and Joshua Orpin with Alan Ritchson, Minka Kelly, Damaris Lewis and Savannah Welch.
Weird but sometimes interesting; RENEWED for SEASON 4
Professor T PBS/ITV (RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Another detective-type (criminal law professor) who is NOT a detective, working with police, who is “on the Spectrum” of autism, also, hallucinating and germ-phobic, socially awkward, brilliant. SO MANY of these, now! But, we liked it all right. Written by Matt Baker and Malin-Sarah Gozin and directed by Dries Vos.
“The impeccably dressed, meticulously punctual Professor T [Ben Miller] lectures daily at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, teaching students imaginatively, if pedantically, about the science of crime. And each evening, he returns home to his apartment, which is as sterile and systematically organized as a science lab. Thanks to this strictly regimented approach, his OCD and germaphobia are under control. But his buttoned-up world is slowly undone when he is persuaded by one of his former students, Detective Sergeant Lisa Donckers, to assist her in investigating a serial rapist. The Professor’s encyclopedic knowledge of criminal psychology and his brilliant mind prove invaluable to the team, but the cracks in his carefully constructed, emotionless exterior begin to show. Working with the police—and the fiery, instinctive Lisa, in particular—drags Professor T far from his comfort zone and even forces him to confront his suppressed feelings for an old flame. He also finds it increasingly difficult to escape the influence of his imperious mother (Frances de la Tour), with whom he shares a harrowing family secret that has cast a long shadow over both their lives. Set against the stunning backdrop of one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions, Cambridge University, the second season of Professor T will see Jasper Tempest and his mother, Adelaide, seek help from a therapist, which in turn will uncover more secrets from Professor T’s troubled childhood. The Professor will continue to help the police solve unusual crimes, rekindling his former relationship with Chief Inspector Christina Brand played by Juliet Aubrey. Meanwhile Professor T’s protégé, Inspector Lisa Donckers, played by Emma Naomi (Bridgerton) begins to regret prioritizing her career over her budding relationship with police partner, Dan Winters, played by Barney White.”
CAUTION: there are two earlier series with the same name, different casts and plots, from Belgium (original) and Germany, also airing elsewhere and on PBS, sometimes.
We liked this all right; RENEWED for SEASON 2
*Call the Midwife PBS (12/25 specials annually; returned for SEASON 10 on 10/3/21; RENEWED through SEASONS 11, 12, 13)
Strong returns for each SEASON, with many new storylines. The Christmas Day specials usually have involved the troupe going to some other locale; 2019’s went to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Not all that different, otherwise.
These writers tackle difficult issues quite well and keep up with the times they’re depicting: “bastards,” elderly declines and death, adoption, stillbirths, South African apartheid, alcoholism, sexism, extra-marital affairs, classism, poverty, domestic violence, racism, prejudice, gossip, Travelers (“Gypsies”), dementia, Thalidomide’s birth defects, birth control pills, prostitution, lesbianism and homosexuality (when illegal and abhorred), adoption, infertility, late-in-life romance, Down’s Syndrome; and, a lot about communal living, especially among those in religious organization’s challenges, e.g., nuns and renouncing vows, following orders, being “called.”
8-episode run for each SEASON in the USA.
Lost several favorite characters in SEASON 6 and 7. Sorry to see them go.
KEEPING for SEASON 10 and RENEWED for SEASONS 11, 12, 13
Silent Witness BBC/Amazon Prime Video (1996 – 2022, 24 SEASONS, latest for $)
“The…crime drama series…focuses on a team of London-based forensic pathologists and scientists and their investigations into various crimes.” First, Amanda Burton [Marcella] stars as Dr. Sam Ryan, then Emilia Fox stars as Dr. Nikki Alexander, each a skilled pathologist. “The team works together with police as they seek justice for the victims of violent crimes.”
Claire Higgins (The Worst Witch) and an ever-expanding cast of Cambridge, UK, then London police detectives and beat cops, family, friends, and victims/criminals, many of whom you’ll recognize if you watch a lot of BBC shows, including very young adults who “made it” later, such as Emily Mortimer and Daisy Ridley.
We like this, but it gets increasingly dark. have to take breaks.
Also starring: Tom Ward (for a while), then David Caves; and William Gaminara (for a while), then Richard Lintern (for a while).
Very well-written, -acted, -directed, but a bit dark
Line of Duty Amazon Prime/BritBox (SEASONS 1 – 4, 2012-2016, available for free, now; SEASONS 5 & 6 cost $ as of 11/11/22)
AC-12 (Anti-Corruption Unit, like USA’ s Internal Affairs, or IA) department investigates crooked (“bent”) police (“coppers”) with varying results, much danger, moles, psychopaths and undercover work.
This is very interesting, but depressing. So many corrupt cops!
Starring Martin Compton, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and many others, with featured players changing SEASON to SEASON as the focus for each SEASON shifts.
Very depressing, but quite well-written, -directed and -acted
Leverage Redemption IMDB TV (released July, 2021; returned 10/8/21 for SEASON 1, part II; SEASON 2 releases in 2022)
With all the same cast except for a recently booted (deceased character to explain it) Timothy Hutton/Nate Ford, this roughly follows the same premise (formerly bad guys doing good) and is just as clever as the original (aired 2008-2012)! Noah Wylie fits right in.
Starring: Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, Aleyse Shannon
We love this! RENEWED for SEASON 2
Shakespeare & Hathaway PBS (SEASON 3 premiered December, 2020 [we got DVD in July, 2021]; RENEWED for SEASON 4, due out later in 2022)
Kind of silly and trite, but we like it all right.
Luella Shakespeare (Jo Joyner), “ex-hair dresser/people-person turned private investigator trainee,” and Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton), a “hardboiled private investigator,” are “an oddball couple of private detectives investigate crime in Stratford-upon-Avon….Unfortunately for Frank, going through life out of shape and low on cash is no way to run a business. Lu hires Frank to spy on her fiancé, whom she thinks is having an affair. Fortunately for Lu, it turns out her soon-to-be husband is not cheating on her. The bad news, however, is that he’s not who she thinks he is, and he ends up murdered about an hour after the ‘I do’s.’ With Lu needing a new challenge after she helps Frank solve the murder, the two join forces and form an unlikely detective duo in Stratford-upon-Avon, where low-life criminals seem to go for high crime drama.”
We like British detective shows (much more interesting and less violent than those in the USA, for sure). This one is a little silly, but we like it.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 4
Signed, Sealed and Delivered (aka Lost Letters series; Hallmark TV series aired in 2014 -2016; then, several films a year through 2021, all prior to 2019 on DVD, now)
Starring Eric Mabius and several newcomers (to us; Kristen Booth, Crystal Lowe, Geoff Gustafson) with a revolving-door-guest starring “supervisor” as a “woman of a certain age” (so far, Valerie Harper, Della Reese, Valerie Bertinelli, and Marilu Henner have appeared in 2 Episodes each; Carol Burnett is coming!), the TV series is increasingly delightful. We are watching it now and then going right into the films. We have them ALL (to date), including the special Christmas edition! AND, one or more coming in 2021!
The characters are quirky and sometimes incomprehensible, at times, poignant, often funny, and the plots are great and so is the writing (usually). Happy endings guaranteed each Episode!
We really enjoy this
*Unforgotten PBS (SEASON 4 returned 7/11/21 on PBS; RENEWED and returning late in 2022 for SEASON 5)
Unforgotten is yet another British-based detective series brought over to the USA years after being broadcast in its native land (2015, for this one) that my mom and I often enjoy. But, she bailed after the first Episode. I am devoted. but, SEASON 4 must be the last… no spoilers, here.
The main characters are DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) who investigate historic cold cases with their team. Each SEASON lasts 6 Episodes (two cases per SEASON).
Walker appeared in a similar role but was mostly the object of her former partner’s hallucinations, since she was murdered at the beginning of that mini-series (River, which we also liked a lot), so it is good to see her alive and well in this one, but only for the first 4 SEASONS!. We’ve watched so many of these BBC shows, now, that we recognize many of the other actors, even minor ones, and each one is very well-directed and performing, with a great script.
Also starring/featuring: Trevor Eve, Bernard Hill, Ruth Sheen, Tom Courtenay, Gemma Jones, Brian Bovell, Cheri Lunghi, Hannah Gordon, Claire Goose, Tamzin Malleson, Peter Egan, and Frances Tomelty. Chris Lang created/wrote it.
Extremely well-written, acted and intriguing; okay for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5
Girls5eva Peacock TV (premiered 5/6/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2, so we’ll look for DVD)
“When a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 90’s gets sampled by a young rapper, its members reunite to give their pop star dreams one more shot. They may be grown women balancing spouses, kids, jobs, debt, aging parents, and shoulder pain, but can’t they also be Girls5eva?”
We love 2 of these singers, but the first Episode was disappointing and the rest are NOT free (as of 11/11/22), but an Afrocentric/Hip-Hop version of this exact storyline (Queens) began airing on network TV as of October, 2021.
Mom didn’t like it at all. I may look for DVDs or free Episodes some day, but probably not.
Starring: Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps.
Not enough singing, horrible characters, NOT FREE after Episode 1; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3
Doc Martin PBS for FINAL SEASON 10 in late fall, 2022; Netflix, Roku/Filmrise, Amazon Prime and PBS for previous SEASONS (1-9) (quirky, funny, sweet, NOT violent)
Good news, while filming its final SEASON: a Christmas special and a documentary were just announced. The documentary, “Doc Martin – A Celebration, …will feature the amazing impact Doc Martin has had across the world, as well as locally, over the years.”
“Is there a dyspeptic doctor in the house? Successful surgeon Dr. Martin Ellingham abruptly leaves his London practice to become general practitioner in the sleepy fishing village of Portwenn, where he spent the holidays during his youth. But his luxury car and lavish wardrobe immediately rub the locals the wrong way, and once they get a load of his abrasive attitude and lack of bedside manner, he quickly alienates most of the townsfolk.”
Fun fact; this is the same actual town (Port Isaac, Cornwall, England) as in the film, Fishermen’s Friends!
Starring: Martin Clunes, Caroline Catz, Ian McNeice, Joe Absolom, John Marquez, Selina Cadell, Jessica Ransom, Eileen Atkins and a lot of characters we recognize from other UK TV series.
NOTE: There are two films attributed to this series, but they are NOT featuring THIS character, but his precursor (originated in Saving Grace; same creator/producers); VERY different, and we did not like them at all.
We like this a lot
Nurses CBC/NBC (returned 6/21/21 to CBC for SEASON 2; waiting for USA airdate in 2022)
Another Canadian drama we’ll try, but it may be too much COVID for us. “Five young nurses work on the frontlines of a downtown Toronto hospital, while struggling to help themselves….[Created by t]he same team behind the series Rookie Blue, including Ilana Frank, Adam Pettle, Vanessa Piazza and Tassie Cameron.”
Mom loved Rookie Blue, so tried this.
So many medical shows, and three we’re now watching out of Canada. So, can’t be all that original, even when it tries. But, it’s okay.
Starring: Tiera Skovbye, Natasha Calis, Jordan Johnson-Hinds, Sandy Sidhu, Donald MacLean, Jr., Cathy White, Ryan Blakely, Jordan Connor.
It’s all right; RENEWED for SEASON 2
The Politician Netflix (2 SEASONS already released, and RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Many great singers, but only a little bit of singing, which was disappointing. Also, it’s difficult to root for anyone, they’re all so weird an dysfunctional. But, we found it intriguing enough to keep watching and look forward to SEASON 3.
Starring: Ben Platt, Judith Light, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoey Deutsch, Bette Midler, Joe Morton, and many more are featured, including Jessica Lange, Dermot Mulroney, January Jones, Bob Balaban.
Not enough singing, but intriguing
Doom Patrol HBO/DVD for me (SEASONS 1 & 2 available in late 2021 on both; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4)
Part of the DC Universe, which I have mixed feelings about, I watched the first 3 Episodes for free on HBO Premium Freeviews and was hooked. I am now on the list to get the DVD from our library for SEASON 1 in its entirety.
The premises and characters are completely absurd, but within its “universe,” they work, somehow. They each come to live in the mansion/laboratory and become a sort of rag-tag family who help while hindering, bumbling about, earning the name “Doom Patrol.”
“DOOM PATROL reimagines one of DC’s most beloved groups of Super Heroes: Robotman, aka Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser); Negative Man, aka Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer;, Elasti-Woman, aka Rita Farr (April Bowlby); and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), led by modern-day mad scientist, Niles Caulder, aka The Chief (Timothy Dalton). Each member of the Doom Patrol suffered a horrible accident that gave them superhuman abilities, but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found their purpose through The Chief, coming together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence. Following the mysterious disappearance of The Chief these reluctant heroes will find themselves in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg (Jovian Wade), who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.”
Starring: Timothy Dalton, Matt Bomer, April Bowlby, Brendan Fraser and others I am not familiar with but enjoying.
We like this, surprisingly; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3 & 4
Agatha Christie‘s Partners in Crime Ovation (reruns summer, 2020, of both of the two sections, 3 Episodes, each)
This second British “adaptation of two Tommy and Tuppence detective novels by Agatha Christie” that are set in the early-1950s-era showcase the husband-and-wife, amateur MI-5/MI-6 sleuths. It is charming, intriguing and well-done. We liked both mini-series (each one has 3 Episodes that are each double-length), each based on its own novel, The Secret Adversary and N or M?. Lots of twists and turns, Cold War spying stuff. Mostly implausible and fun.
Starring: David Williams, Jessica Raine, with James Fleet and Matthew Steer.
*The Crown Netflix (SEASON 5 releases 11/9/22; RENEWED for final SEASON 6)
Queen Elizabeth II died in September, 2022, and we now have King Charles and King’s Consort Camilla. Wonder how they’ll handle all that for final SEASON 6?
For SEASON 4, Emma Corrin plays a young Diana, doing an amazing job, but SO SAD!!! Australian Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana for SEASONS 5 & 6.
SEASON 4 is mostly in the 1980s, with some important flashbacks. Prepare to feel very upset at the bulimia, mistreatment and despair endured by Diana.
For SEASON 3, it is about 20+ years past SEASON 1 (1947 – 1955) and about 10+ years past SEASON 2 (up to about 1965), and gets an entirely new cast of main characters for SEASONS 3 & 4, and again for its final SEASONS 5 & 6, which start in the 1990s.
The casting, acting, costumes, hair, directing and overall production are AMAZING in this series, and the music for the theme is outstanding. I love this, but it’s so sad!
“The Crown season 3 will pick up sometime in the 1970s, reportedly spanning Queen Elizabeth II’s reign from about 1971 to 1979. No release date has yet been announced.” But, look for SEASONS 3 & $ early in 2019, apparently, on NETFLIX.
We will miss the young- to – early middle-aged Queen Elizabeth II, as played so well by Claire Foy, and the younger version of Princess Margaret, strutted so delightfully by Vanessa Kirby.
But, how excited are we to get Helena Bonham Carter as the older and even more scandalous Princess Margaret? And, an odd choice, barely recognizable: Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Fall, Hannibal, Sex Education) as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (FYI: “Thatcher served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, making her Britain’s longest-serving PM of the 20th century”!).
Olivia Colman takes over for Claire Foy as Elizabeth seamlessly, in her own way, but still, a continuation, for SEASON 3 & 4. When interviewed, she claimed NOT to be intending to “copy” Foy‘s performances.
Imelda Staunton will play the role of Queen Elizabeth II in this show’s final 5th SEASON.
MORE CASTING NEWS (9/13/18), here!
—-Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country) is great as a young adult Prince Charles. His playing of the triangle and his own ego-based neediness and resentment of Diana is amazing.
—-Marion Bailey (Allied) replaced Eileen Atkins as the older Queen mother, Bess
—-Jason Watkins does well as Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
—-Erin Doherty (Call the Midwife) is fabulous as Princess Anne. Also awesomely complex and realistic.
—-Tobias Menzies (Outlander) plays the middle-aged Prince Phillip (replacing Matt Smith, whom I didn’t much like in that role, anyway) outstandingly. Very convincing.
—-Ben Daniels (The Exorcist) plays Antony Armstrong-Jones, seems to relish playing the selfish, sleazy, adulterous middle-aged version of the husband of Princess Margaret.
—-Helena Bonham Carter aces a middle-aged Princess Margaret; the perfect combination of boozy, vulnerable and needy. Her righteous anger at her mother about the shunting off (forced institutionalization and faked deaths!) of their disabled cousins was masterful!
—Gillian Anderson plays a nasty-ish Cabinet member in SEASON 3, then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in SEASON 4. She NAILED it, and oh, so creepily!
Deserved every award it got and then some. Have watched all of SEASONS 1, 2, 3 already and LOVED it. I don’t know much about the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip, nor their friends and family, so it’s all news, to me.
I can’t say enough good things about it. The scenes make me laugh, cry and get goose bumps. After watching SEASON 1, I was inspired to watch THREE documentaries about the Royal Family! Watched (premiered 2/10/19), PBS‘ Margaret, The Rebel Princess and got even more info. She had a sad life, I think.
John Lithgow (as Prime Minister Winston Churchill) was and Clare Foy were outstanding, as were all the rest of the cast and writing. Truly remarkable.
Mom started with Episode 1, SEASON 3, then jumped to and watched all of SEASON 4 with me.
If you like this and don’t know much about Queen Elizabeth II‘s reign or the concomitant history, watch In her Own Words: Queen Elizabeth, also on PBS and online. Aired in late May, 2017, so available any time. Another good doc was Princes of the Palace, about all of them since Prince Phillip, which aired in September, 2017, and is available online as well.
Watched and LOVED SEASONS 1, 2, 3; 4 is sad; 5 – 6 RENEWED, and recast every 2 SEASONS
*Young Sheldon CBS (returned 9/29/22 for SEASON 7; all previous SEASONS coming to Nick at Nite and TBS)
This show improves yearly. I never watched The Big Bang Theory, so I wasn’t going to watch this. However, having seen the star, Iain Armitage, in Big Little Lies and being amazed at how good he was, and then I saw him be excellent in a movie, I decided to try it. Didn’t like it much, at first, but it really grew on me. Somewhat silly and often goes for the laugh, but sometimes, really hits the mark.
It’s now 1991 and 12-year-old Sheldon Cooper has graduated high school and is going on to college at some point. “As he struggles to be understood by his family, classmates and neighbours, his mother arms him with the best tool she can come up with: reminding bullies his dad is the football coach and his brother is on the team. His twin sister doesn’t share his exceptional mind, but she has a much clearer vision of what life has in store for the young genius. Jim Parsons, who plays the adult version of Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, narrates.”
Also in this cast: Zoe Perry. Lance Barber. Montana Jordan. Raegan Revord. Jim Parsons (narrator, only). Annie Potts, Wallace Shawn, Matt Hobby..
Okay for SEASON 7
9-1-1: LONESTAR Fox (returns for SEASON 4 in early 2023)
This is a spin-off and is from 9-1-1 co-creators, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear. This series “follows a sophisticated New York cop (Rob Lowe) who, along with his son, re-locates to Austin, and must try to balance saving those who are at their most vulnerable with solving the problems in his own life. Lowe will serve as co-executive producer on the series.”
Lost Liv Tyler, gained Gina Torres and Lisa Edelstein for SEASON 2. Fun. LGBTQ characters, PTSD handled with thoughtfulness, firefighters as humans: good writing. SEASON 3 okay; rough start to SEASON 4.
We like it; Okay for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4
(not yet reviewed/watched as of 11/11/22)
[Some PREMIERES/RETURNS are still unknown for 2023, so I give the known first/return air dates. I/we plan to watch the shows listed, below (UPDATED 11/11/22).]
Use these links for a frequently updated 2022-23, schedule:
Also, try https://nextseasontv.com/upcoming/ for release dates.
2022-23 Planned Viewing, Updated 11/11/22
*The Future of… Netflix (6 Episodes released 6/21 and 6 more 6/28/22)
“Produced by website, The Verge, this look at how new technology will impact various aspects of daily life in the near future….”
Cool! For me, though, not Mom
*Documentary Now! IFC (returned 10/19/22 with 2-Episode premiere for SEASON 4)
I doubt if we’ll watch any of these together, and I won’t watch most, BUT I did an entire blog post reviewing Wild, Wild Country, the documentary about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, last April (2018), so seeing Michael Keaton and Owen Wilson in a parody of that documentary was VERY fun, and sad, both.
Now in its third SEASON on IFC, this Episode was entitled “Batsh*t Valley.’ It was described as this series’ “version of a story about a reclusive spiritual community, in the vein of Wild, Wild Country and The Source Family. Wilson is set to star as the leader of this secluded group in the woodlands of Oregon, with Keaton playing the FBI agent bent on investigating and exposing the truth behind the entire operation. Necar Zadegan will also star in the episode [NCIS: New Orleans; as a Ma Anand Sheila-type character], written by Seth Meyers and directed by Alex Buono.” This was the fourth Episode of the new SEASON.
This was good enough that I may go back and watch some others somewhere, if they’re available. I liked the Stephen Sondheim-based Episode, also: “Six new Sondheim-ian songs were written for the send up of Original Cast Album: Company, the 1970 D. A. Pennebaker documentary about the grueling overnight cast recording of Stephen Sondheim’s hit musical.”
This SEASON also included parodies of …”bowling doc, League of Ordinary Gentlemen, and Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Guests include Cate Blanchett, Michael C. Hall…Tim Robinson, Bobby Moynihan, Natasha Lyonne,John Mulaney….Richard Kind, Renee Elise Goldsberry, James Urbaniak, and Paula Pell.”
I liked two and may watch more; RENEWED for SEASON 4
Emily in Paris Netflix (releases 12/21/22 for SEASON 3 & RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Lily Collins is wonderful (yes; Phil Collins’ daughter!) as Emily, an American sent by her fashion mag almost by accident (her “geriatric” boss is pregnant) without any French or travel experience, but great clothes and attitude. She has fun adventures, with a great supporting cast including Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park, Samuel Arnold, Camille Razat, Lucas Bravo. We’ll continue.
We really like this; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4
*Mayfair Witches AMC/AMC+ (8 Episodes, premieres 1/5/23)
“Based on the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy [by the late Anne Rice]…[t]he series will focus on an intuitive young neurosurgeon who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations.”
Starring: Jack Huston, Harry Hamlin, Tongayi Chirisa, Alexandra Daddario, Beth Grant.
Loved the books!
The Great British Baking Show [Bake-Off] (on PBS for older and Netflix for current SEASONS]; Season 5: Holiday Edition for 2022 releases 11/18/22 on Netflix; SEASON 14 in September, 2022)
This is the ONLY “reality” contest/show we watch, and were sad when the American version of the show, The Great American Baking Show, was derailed and removed from broadcasting mid-season in 2017 by the bad behavior of one judge, Johnny Luzzini. So, we were delighted to have it back with SEASON 5, which hadn’t been aired before, with its original presenters, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, and judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Makes us hungry, but very informative, interesting, fun.
We can smell what they bake, sometimes, we swear!
Also, catch the Master Classes when they appear (some in August, based on desserts made in their previous classes: great actual lessons for baking their ways!
The newest version has Prue Leith & Paul Hollywood as judges and Sandi Toksvig & Noel Fielding as EmCees.
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco ITV/BritBox (SEASON 1, 8 Episodes, aired 7/25 – 9/16/18; can pay; EXTRA to watch on Amazon Prime, but we won’t; got DVD for SEASON 1; RENEWED for SEASON 2; aired in April, 2019)
A fabulous cast, good stories (but somewhat DARKER), and excellent chemistry among the new and returning cast members. LOVED this!
This series is based on the original show, The Bletchley Circle (which we LOVED), adding 4 stories across 8 Episodes and relocating to San Francisco a few years after the other Episodes left off.
Millie (Rachael Stirling) and Jean (Julie Graham) are “investigating a friend’s murder in the Bay Area three years after the events” of ending of the first series.
It is BritBox’s first original series, with four two-hour episodes. “The original series centered on a group of female WWII code-breakers who reunite in the 1950s to track down a serial killer.”
Chanelle Peloso, Crystal Balint and Ben Cotton are great.
We LOVE this; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Big Little Lies HBO and DVD (SEASON 1 premiered 2/12/17; SEASON 2 premiered 6/9/19; got DVD in June, 2020; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
SEASON 1 won many awards (Golden Globes, SAG), and SEASON 2 was just as good, with the addition of a very dysfunctional MIL played by Meryl Streep as “Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Perry Wright,” the abusive creep well-acted by Alexander Skarsgard.
“The apparently perfect lives of three [really, five] mothers of first-graders unravel to the point of murder.”
Also gained Douglas Smith for SEASON 2 as well as a new director, Andrea Arnold.
Starring the amazingly talented Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, with husbands played by Alexander Skarsgard, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling, Adam Scott,. The kids are headlined by the ever-present Iain Armitage (Young Sheldon, now) as the much-maligned Ziggy, with Darby Camp and Ivy George as the other featured first-graders with Kathryn Newton and an older sibling of Camp.
Won lots of and was nominated for even more Emmys for 2017.
Excellent writing, acting, directing and overall production. BUT, very depressing/distressing stories, with a lot of graphic violence, frequent and oddly dysfunctional sex and destructive verbal and physical behaviors among the characters. Almost none is likable, and all are pathetic in some way, but compelling.
David E. Kelley, Barbara Hall, Liane Moriarty are responsible: how could it be bad?
Got increasingly dark and dreary; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Shetland BBC One/Netflix/BritBox (First 3 SEASONS on Netflix; SEASON 4 DVD came out 10/2/18, but no longer on Netflix —snapped up by BritBox, which we won’t pay to watch; got DVD for SEASON 5 in June, 2020; SEASONS 6 & 7 released December, 2021)
The accents of the actors on this show are often very difficult for us midwestern-USA listeners to understand, but the show is a great “who done it” format with very little gore/violence on screen and lots of excellent writing (best handling of female colleague’s sexual assault by a male colleague I’ve ever seen on TV or film), characterizations and situations (similar to DCI Banks, which we also loved). We watched SEASONS 1, 2, 3 on Netflix at first (summer programming isn’t so great on regular TV). We don’t get BritBox, so the rest have to be library DVDs.
“DI [Detective Inspector] Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) and his team (mostly, Alison O’Donnell, Steven Robertson) investigate crimes within the close-knit island community of Shetland.”
Like DCI Banks, the series started with a double Episode pilot, then each season had/has 3 or 4 double Episodes.
The setting is supposedly on one or more of the Shetland archipelago of islands as part of northeastern Scotland, but is actually filmed mostly in Scotland itself. Still, beautiful scenery of many coastal lays.
Great murder mystery show, if you can understand what they’re saying
Heartland Netflix [SEASON 14 released 4/10/22; RENEWED for SEASON 15; 14 SEASONS there and on UPTV, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 15 released 7/17/22 in Canada; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 11/11/22]
Horses, strong, appealing women, interesting/attractive men, beautiful Alberta countryside: this long-running and beloved Canadian series that ended late fall, 2019, is a balm for our troubled souls these days. Almost no one gets hurt or killed, and the horses are mostly well-treated and beautifully ridden. Easy on the eyes and psyches!
Starring some Hallmark and Canadian TV regulars and some newbies (for when this came out) whom we now recognize from newer series/films made since this was finished, such as: Amber Marshall, Michelle Morgan (the lead sisters, Amy and Lou); Shaun Johnston, Chris Potter (grandfather and father to the sisters); Graham Wardle (farmhand, then vet/love interest for Amy) and Nathaniel Arcand (FBI: Most Wanted; vet, former farmhand, some-time love interest for Lou),
We LOVE it; RENEWED through SEASON 15
C.B. Strike HBO and DVD (which is the way we watch; DVD of SEASONS 1, 2, 3 all available; 3 SEASONS on HBO; RENEWED for SEASON 4, but airs in the UK, first)
Tom Burke plays the title character in this J.K. Rowling-as-Robert Galbraith-inspired British detective series, featuring an ex-military cop and currently recovering, wounded P.I., and his new assistant with their cases. Well-acted, well-shot, and interesting.
Has three SEASONS out on HBO; we watched and liked SEASONS 1, 2 & 3 on DVD from our library.
We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 4
Ordeal by Innocence AZ Prime (3-Episode miniseries, available 7/15/21)
Another Agatha Christie-based drama series from the BBC folks. Could be good.
“Based on the 1958 novel…, director Sandra Goldbacher expertly delivers this murder mystery into a three-part miniseries. A year and a half prior to when the story begins, the Argylls are riled from the brutal murder of their heiress mother, Rachel, and the person accused of her murder, Rachel’s adopted son Jack, whom later died in prison. Now, Leo Argyll is ready to marry his secretary and gathers his four surviving adopted kids together. When a shocking revelation comes to light that Jack was innocent in the murder, the question of who really murdered Rachel arises.”
Starring: Bill Nighy, Matthew Goode, Anna Chancellor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Anthony Boyle, and many more from the BBC stable of fine actors.
*Genius National Geographic; moved to Disney+ for 2022 (SEASON 3 premiered 3/21/21, Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul)
“Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Suzan-Lori Parks, will exec produce and showrun…[with co-EPs,] Franklin collaborator, Clive Davis, and Atlantic Records chair and CEO, Craig Kallman….[SEASON 3] will cover the ‘Respect’ singer’s iconic career, how her work changed music and the world, her time as a gospel prodigy, and her civil rights activism. Many of her biggest hits, such as ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)’ and ‘Chain of Fools,’ will be included in the project, as will her renditions of ‘I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,’ ‘Freeway of Love,’ and ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.’…Franklin received 18 Grammys, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and countless other awards and accolades throughout her nearly-six-decade career. Her records have sold over 75 million copies worldwide, and she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She died August 16, 2018, of advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76.” Look for this in June or later, 2020.
Starring: Cynthia Erivo as Aretha, and Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Shaian Jordan, Marque Richardson, Pauletta Washington, Steven Norfleet, T.I., Antonique Smith, Tina Fears, Ethan Henry and Omar J. Dorsey.
SEASON 2 starred Antonio Banderas as the adult Picasso. I wasn’t captivated and stopped watching after Episode 1, though; haven’t gone back to it.
SEASON 1 of this bio-pic series was based on the life and work of Albert Einstein. Only I watched these, but I really enjoyed each Episode.
Flipped back and forth between college-aged (Johnny Flynn) and professorial-/World War II-aged Einstein (Geoffrey Rush). Also starred the great Emily Watson as his second wife for a while, then stayed with the older versions for the last few Episodes. Spoiler: ends with Einstein’s death and its aftermath.
Directed by Ron Howard (yes, that one). http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/genius/ has trailers and more info.
Divided into 10 “Chapters,” with each episode’s airing more than once per week.
Mary Shelley, the author of many novels and the person credited with creating science-fiction as a genre with her incredible Frankenstein, MAY or MAY NOT be the subject of SEASON 4. See NEWS, above. Stay tuned!
Excellently done; SEASON 3, RENEWED
Lovestruck (fka Let’s Spend the Night Together) Netflix (released 4/28/20)
We LOVE Kathleen Turner and are going to be glad to see her, again! She and Andie McDowell are going to co-star, with Steve Kazee (Shameless, Once), Rachel Bilson (Hart of Dixie), Richard Roxburgh (Rake), Madeline Wise (Nobodies and Veep), Beth Riesgraf (Leverage, Complications), Jeffery Self (You’re Killing Me), Linda Park (Bosch), and Usman Ally (A Series of Unfortunate Events), inspired by the French series, Quadras, that has spawned a new version in English for Fox for 2019-20, perhaps. Itis to be written by Tom Kapinos (who wrote Californication, which I had a love/hate relationship with and Mom didn’t watch at all), to be directed by Sanaa Hamri. It is described as “a structurally inventive dramedy in which the entire first season takes place over the course of single night at a wedding. As we get to know the wedding party, we’ll learn surprising reveals about both their present and past. We’ll see that things aren’t always what they seem and explore the complicated bonds of love, friendship and family at different stages of life….MacDowell will play Lily, the bitter, fiery supermodel meets ‘80’s video vixen and and the ex-wife of British rock star, Nigel Valentine. Turner will portray Grace, the blunt, tactless, and the judgmental mother of Alex Fletcher…Kazee will play Alex Fletcher, a charming, caring and earnest music journalist who has a way with words and loves music….Bilson will play the bride, Daisy Valentine. A ‘bolt of pure sunshine,’ she’s sweet, thoughtful, assertive, has deep soulful eyes and works in music education. …Roxburgh will play Nigel Valentine, Lily’s (MacDowell) ex-husband, a legendary British rock-star who tries to save the world through music and has a weakness for supermodels. Wise plays the quirky and pessimistic Poppy, the exceedingly blunt daughter of Nigel and Lily. Ally will play Julian, a roguish doctor who doesn’t act like one….Reisgraf will play Isabelle, a rational, smart, affable beauty and mother trying to navigate a divorce and just wants the best for her son. Self portrays Kevin, an earnest, avuncular, gay accountant with a sense of humor and is a good friend. Park will play Kate. She’s a mellow and fun mom with an easygoing sensibility and loyal to her friends.”
*The Mind, Explained Netflix (docuseries with 20-minute Episodes; SEASON 1 released 9/12/19; 9/26/19 for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
“Memory. Dreams. Anxiety. Psychedelics. Mindfulness. The billionaire boom. Athleisure as fashion. The lure of cults.” These and other topics “about culture and social trend” are purportedly explained by various non- and actual experts in each Episode.
For the Mindfulness Episode, “‘Although the true nature of the mind can’t be described directly, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try to develop some theoretical understanding about it.’ – Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. The Joy of Living.”
Emma Stone narrates.
I may watch; Mom won’t.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman Netflix (SEASON 4 released 5/20/22)
We want to see but haven’t watched any of these interviews, yet.
For SEASON 1, Letterman talked with President Barack Obama, George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey and Howard Stern.
SEASON 2 included Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, Tiffany Haddish, Lewis Hamilton, Melinda Gates, and Zach Galifianakis.
For SEASON 3, he talked with Kim Kardashian West, Robert Downey, Jr., Dave Chappelle, and Lizzo.
SEASON 4 had on Will Smith, Billie Eilish, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durant, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Cardi B.
We’ll get to it eventually
*Seeing Allred Netflix (documentary; available 2/9/18)
About one of my all-time heroines, attorney, feminist, women’s rights advocate and all-around brilliant writer and leader, Gloria Allred.
“Women’s rights attorney, Gloria Allred, takes on two of the biggest adversaries of her career — Bill Cosby and Donald Trump — as sexual violence allegations grip the nation and keep her in the spotlight.”
I will watch this soon!
*Jane (Documentary) National Geographic (premiered 3/12/18)
This documentary of Jane Goodall goes well with the docuseries on Dian Fossey, right? “Using a trove of unseen footage, Jane tells the story of Jane Goodall’s early explorations, focusing on her groundbreaking field work, her relationship with cameraman and husband, Hugo van Lawick, and the chimpanzees that she studied.”
I’ll probably watch this
Requiem Netflix (6-part series released 3/23/18)
Another British detective series (which we usually like); this one is set in both 1994 and 2014 or so, focusing on an adult musician who is now in her twenties and may be the grown-up version of a missing toddler from a small Welsh town. The series “encompasses elements of both the supernatural and thriller genres.”
Stars Lydia Wilson as the cellist and Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey) as the detective and Joel Fry as the cellist’s best friend, with James Frecheville, Sian Reese-Williams, Claire Rushbrook, Richard Harrington.
“Requiem is…written and created by Kris Mrksa and directed by Mahalia Belo.”
Could be interesting
A Little Help with Carol Burnett Netflix (released 5/4/18)
Carol Burnett, at the age of 85 (one year my mom’s junior), has created and is starring in a new series, “joined by a group of the most honest and unfiltered people in the world—a gaggle of straight-talking, entertaining five- to nine-year-old kids. These very opinionated ‘experts’ weigh-in on a variety of relatable and humorous dilemmas brought in by everyday adults. Each episode will feature a celebrity contributor brave enough to bring in their own dilemma for the kids to comment on in front of a live audience.”
We love her and will try this
No Premiere or Return Dates Set, Yet, or Waiting for DVDs (UPDATED 11/11/22)
Found NBC (premieres midseason, 2023)
Another show from Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, and we usually like their shows. Found‘s logline is: “In any given year, more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. More than half that number are people of color that the country seems to forget about. A public relations specialist—who was once herself one of those forgotten ones—and her crisis management team now make sure there is always someone looking out for the forgotten missing people. But unbeknownst to anyone, this everyday hero is hiding a chilling secret of her own.”
Starring: Gabi Mosely, Brett Dalton, Gabrielle Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta, Karan Oberoi, with Kelli Williams and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
Could be interesting
The Irrational NBC (premieres midseason, 2023)
“A world-renowned professor of behavioral psychology with a unique insight into human nature meets his match in a female domestic terror suspect who turns his world upside down.”
Starring: Jesse L. Martin, Maahra Hill.
Could be good
Accused Fox (premieres in early 2023)
This is an “anthology” series, which means the same characters and plots do NOT appear in or carry over into more than one or two Episodes. This series will present “stories of defendants in criminal trials reveal how one wrong turn leads to another.”
Starring/Appearing: Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Wendell Pierce, Jack Davenport, Molly Parker, Margo Martindale, Michael Chiklis, Whitney Cummings, Karen LeBlanc, many more…
We might like this
True Lies CBS (premieres in early 2023)
“Based on the [1994 film], an unfulfilled suburban housewife is propelled into a life of danger and adventure when she’s recruited to work alongside her husband to save the world as they try to revitalize their passionless marriage.”
Starring: Steve Howey, Ginger Gonzaga, Omar Miller.
We did like the film…
Cannes Confidential Acorn TV, so, DVD for us (premieres in 2022)
This “series blends comedy, romance, mystery, and crime along the Cote d’Azur. Written by Midsomer Murders and Van der Valk writer, Chris Murray, …[and Maria Ward (Agatha Raisin)]…the series will …[blend] comedy, romance, mystery, and crime along the Cote d’Azur. …It centers on the relationship between an idealistic, underdog local female cop and an ex-conman and master counterfeiter who’s on the run from both the police and the mob. The pair are forced into an unlikely — and surprisingly successful — crime-fighting partnership, which sees them solve a murder case in each close-ended episode. Over the course of the season, the drama’s long arc focuses on the main character’s quest to find the criminals who framed her father, a local-hero police officer who was jailed for a murder he didn’t commit.”
Diplomat Netflix (premieres in 2023)
Keri Russell will star in & exec produce this “8-ep political thriller, where she’ll play a career diplomat who lands a high-profile job she’s unsuited for in the midst of an international crisis, creating tectonic implications for her marriage and her political future.”
We’ll try it
The Company You Keep ABC (premieres 2022-23)
“A night of passion leads to love between con-man Charlie and undercover CIA officer Emma, who are unknowingly on a collision course professionally. While Charlie ramps up the ‘family business’ so he can get out for good, Emma’s closing in on the vengeful criminal who holds Charlie’s family debts in-hand — forcing them to reckon with the lies they’ve told so they can save themselves and their families from disastrous consequences. Based on the Korean series, My Fellow Citizens.”
Could be good
Will Trent ABC (premieres midseason, 2023)
“Based on Karin Slaughter’s…Will Trent series, Special Agent Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations was abandoned at birth and endured a harsh coming-of-age in Atlanta’s overwhelmed foster care system. But now, determined to use his unique point of view to make sure no one feels as abandoned as he was, Will Trent has the highest clearance rate in the GBI.”
Might be too gory, but books are great
Avalon ABC (premieres midseason, 2023)
“From David E. Kelley (Big Sky, Big Little Lies) and bestselling author, Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer, Bosch). Based on a short story by Connelly, the series takes place in the main city of Avalon on Catalina Island, where LA Sheriff Department Detective Nicole ‘Nic’ Searcy heads up a small office. Catalina has a local population that serves more than 1 million tourists a year, and each day when the ferries arrive, hundreds of potential new stories enter the island. Detective Searcy is pulled into a career-defining mystery that will challenge everything she knows about herself and the island.”
Starring: Neve Campbell, Steven Pasquale.
End of Watch Fox (premieres fall, 2022)
“Based on the movie of the same name, End Of Watch follows the daily grind of two young Los Angeles police officers who are partners and friends and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves.”
Starring: Michael Pena, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Sounds promising, if not too violent
LA Law reboot ABC (premieres midseason, 2023)
This reboot “centers on the venerable law firm of McKenzie Brackman as it attempts reinvent itself as a litigation firm specializing in only the most high-profile, boundary-pushing and incendiary cases.”
Starring: Blair Underwood, Corbin Bernsen, Toks Olagundoye, Hari Nef, Ian Duff
We’ll probably like this
Dalgliesh Acorn TV, so, DVD for us (premiered late in 2021)
“Based on the Dalgliesh novels of P.D. James,” the series stars “Bertie Carvel as the iconic poetry-writing detective.” Adapting 3 of the Northern Ireland-based novels, at first, all of which I read a long time ago: Shroud for a Nightingale, The Black Tower, and A Taste for Death, sounds interesting.
We will probably like this
Grace ITV, so DVD, for us (premiering in UK late in 2021)
“Endeavour creator, Russell Lewis, is behind this new ITV drama starring John Simm (Life on Mars). He’ll play detective Roy Grace (from Peter James’ award-winning novels), a man who fights crime in the coastal city of Brighton, England. Grace is a talented but unorthodox detective who’s haunted by the disappearance of his beloved wife Sandy.”
Begins with 2 feature-length Episodes based on Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead.
If we can find it, we’ll try it
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (SEASON 3 releases 12/21/22; RENEWED for final SEASON 4)
John Krasinski (How I Met Your Mother) does all right as the newest Jack Ryan (but we liked Chris Pine better, and who can forget Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck or Alec Baldwin, all of whom have had a turn playing this iconic role?), as do the other cast members, with the lousy script they were given.
But, this version has too many car chases, too much violence/torture, and too many anti-heroes/villains for our taste. We keep starting and not going back.
Mom is a long-time reader and fan of both the Jack Ryan books and films and was very put off and confused by how out-of-context most of this new series seemed to all the rest that have already been made/written. I’ve only seen a few films and never read any of the books, but I agree.
Also, in trying to modernize it (original was set in the 1970s-80s), they set Ryan and the CIA in yet another tired plot of Middle-Eastern-men-as-villains in SEASON 1 and similarly in SEASON 2, but in Venezuela, with car bombs, deception. We also don’t like plots with revenge-seeking for events from 30+ years ago and more recent hostility, etc., nor do we want to watch “interrogation” scenes, which we hate.
We watched all 8 Episodes of SEASON 1, and some are all right, but VERY dark and violent. We only got through 1 Episode of SEASON 2 and can’t seem to go back.
What happened to Ryan’s girlfriend?
Starring: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce (Suits)
Too much violence and not enough script; RENEWED for SEASON 4
Midsomer Murders [SEASONS 21 and beyond on DVDs; used to be on both PBS and Netflix ( Netflix has 20 SEASONS; RENEWED for SEASON 23, SEASONS 21-22 and beyond on Britbox/DVDs 6 months after airing; next DVD 11/21]
During a lull in summer TV, 2018, my mom and I found Midsomer Murders on Netflix and have been enjoying its being less bloody and violent than USA detective shows, and its quirkiness. PBS and other stations started airing past SEASONS in 2018-9.
We believe the writers hate women (most culprits have been female!), the English countryside’s small towns (not-so-subtle digs at how “quaint” and “backward” they are), special interests/social clubs (which contain obsessive people willing to kill over orchids, fishing rights, rare books, bike racing, golf, choir competitions and whatever), and marriage (marriages and other relationships on this series mostly suck–the couples are so mean to one another!). Every one of these small towns has way too many crimes and murderers per capita and a lot of drunkards, liars, adulterers and thieves. Also, most Episodes have some kind of fete (festival), and these are hilarious.
We also like to play: “Who is that actor?” (now 15-20 years older from the Episodes we’re watching) and “Where else have we seen him/her before or since? (mostly since). Or, check here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Midsomer_Murders_characters
IMDB is so good for answering those questions, usually. The series is based on the books by Caroline Graham, “featured 251 deaths, 222 of which were murders.”
Starring Bergerac‘s John Nettles as the the lead detective, DCI Barnaby, for the first 13 SEASONS, and Jane Wymark and Laura Howard (also for 13 SEASONS) as the wife and adult daughter of Barnaby, as regulars. An ever-changing roster of supporting and Episodic characters fills out the roster nicely each Episode. Seasons are generally from 4 – 8 Episodes long, but each Episode is about 90 – 100 minutes (basically, = 2 night-time hour-long slots, with commercials, we think, originally).
Turns out we can get the DVDs for SEASONS 18 – 21 at our local library, and we have done so. Unfortunately, SEASON 21 only has 4 Episodes (which turn out to be 8 on TV, since each is 90 minutes long on DVD).
Warming: In 2011, producer/creator, “Brian True-May, caused controversy when he said the television series ‘was the last bastion of Englishness because it did not have actors from ethnic minorities….We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.’ The 61-year-old was suspended for his comments” and was forced to step down at the end of that year’s Episodes.
“True-May banned swearing, violence and sex scenes from the show but his idyllic formula does not stop challenging storylines, or other elements of diversity which do not involve ethnicity. ‘If it’s incest, blackmail, lesbianism, homosexuality … terrific, put it in, because people can believe that people can murder for any of those reasons,’ he told the Radio Times. “A study in 2006 found that Midsomer Murders was ‘strikingly unpopular’ with minorities.”
We wondered about the lack of non-Caucasians…
The weather is also atypical of southern England and more like southern France or Spain (hardly ever rains, hardly ever very cold). or they arranged to film each Episode in any season but winter.
Liking these, but some scripts are dull; RENEWED for SEASON 23
Langdon NBC (premieres in 2023)
“The mysterious world of The Da Vinci Code is the milieu of this new series….based on Dan Brown‘s best-selling novel, The Lost Symbol….A cat-and-mouse adventure thriller set mostly in Washington D.C….You don’t need to have read the books or seen the movies to understand what Langdon is about. You also don’t need a degree on symbolism or theology to make it through the pilot without being lost or bored. Apparently, the writers hewed fairly close to The Lost Symbol book, with the same starting point and the same characters.”
Starring Ashley Zukerman (Succession, A Teacher) as Langdon (Tom Hanks’ role in the films),
We’ll like this
Ways and Means (fka The Whip) CBS (premieres 2023)
Patrick Dempsey is starring in a new series, one I think we’ll like. It’s “a Washington D.C. drama…[that] …centers on a powerful congressional leader (Dempsey) who has lost faith in politics. He finds himself working secretly with an idealistic young congresswoman from the opposing party to subvert the hopelessly gridlocked system he helped create; together, they’ll attempt to save American politics —if they don’t get caught….Dempsey‘s character …[is] not exactly aspirational, but he’s not an anti-hero, either….Claire (Troian Bellisario, Pretty Little Liars) is a newly elected, idealistic freshman Democratic Congresswoman who leads with her intelligence and straightforwardness. She’s going to have to figure out how to merge her idealism with her ambition — she will either change Congress, or Congress will change her….Jarlene Brooks is a progressive activist, a formidable Democratic congresswoman and a rising star in the political arena. She wrestles with an inner turmoil regarding the price of power and struggles with her progressive roots versus the demands of leadership.”
If they don’t shunt it off to the CBS All Access (for-pay streaming) or a premium channel, we’ll watch.
Little Birds SKY Atlantic/NOW TV, then DVD (for us) (Australian premiere of 6-Episodes series is 8/4/20)
Originally censored, Anais Nin‘s erotic short stories, Little Birds, are now a limited series. Probably seem tame, though, today.
Starring Juno Temple (Dirty John), and Sophia Al-Maria (The Girl Who Fell to Earth) will write, while Stacie Passon (Billions and House of Cards) will direct.
“Set in Tangier in 1955, in the famous international zone, one of the last outposts of colonial decadence, it follows troubled American debutante, Lucy Savage, played by Temple, as she faces a culture shock. ‘Thrilled to escape her controlling parents, Savage arrives full of anticipation for her marriage to her English fiancée, Lord Hugo Cavendish-Smythe, little knowing that Hugo has already lost his heart to someone else. As Lucy fights to carve out her independence and identity, her life becomes intertwined with Cherifa Lamour, played by Submarine star, Yumna Marwan, a Moroccan dominatrix who services the diplomats and foreigners of this colourful, bohemian world, and Egyptian Aristocrat, Adham Abaza, played by 24: Legacy star, Raphael Acloque, and they all become entangled with some very dangerous characters.”
Trailer, here: https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2020-06-26/little-birds-sky-trailer/
We’ll look for DVD in 2021.
The Time Traveler’s Wife HBO (DVD for us) (limited series, released in summer, 2022)
I loved the book. The film was fine. Now, a TV series of The Time Traveler’s Wife is in the works for Netflix. But, hey, worth the wait, since Stephen Moffat (showrunner for Sherlock, Doctor Who) is involved! The Time Traveler’s Wife is a cool concept, worth serializing, I think. Audre Niffenegger’s novel “revolves around a man who has a genetic disorder that causes him to travel through time unpredictably. This causes him to experience his life—especially his relationship with his wife and daughter—through a skewed lens, meeting his grade-school-aged daughter before she’s ever been born, and glimpsing tragic events that will occur far in the future.”
Starring; Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, The Good Fight) in the title role; Theo James (Sanditon) as the Traveler; also, Desmond Borges (Utopia) Natasha Lopez (Runner Runner), Michael Park (Stranger Things), Kate Siegel (The Haunting of Hill House), Jaime Ray Newman (Little Fires Everywhere), Everleigh McDonell (Good Girls), Taylor Richardson (Rise), Peter Graham (Will & Grace), Brian Altemus (Grand Army), Jason David (NOS4A2), Josh Stamberg, (WandaVision), Chelsea Frei (The Moodys), Marcia DeBonis (Almost Family) Will Brill (The OA), Spencer House and Caitlin Shorey.
Excited for this
Blood Relative Fox (premieres 2023)
Melissa Leo and Tate Donovan star in this crime drama which explores “genetic genealogy, the “best new tool in crime-scene forensics, and nobody knows it like Louise Kelly. Too bad she’s impossible to deal with. Based on a 2018 Cleveland Scene article by journalist and author, James Renner.”
Also starring Tracie Thoms and Dascha Polanco.
We’ll try it
Maverick The CW (premieres 2023)
An intriguing and too-close-to-home premise, here: “In a present day America that finds itself under authoritarian rule, the President’s daughter—[Reina Hardesty (The Flash)] raised to believe her father is moral and benevolent—has her worldview rocked on her first day at Georgetown. Challenged by her fellow students, and under the watchful eye of Secret Service agents, she’ll have to decide if her loyalties lie with her family or with a growing resistance as she navigates her freshman year….[A] college-set political thriller/drama,…Maverick is Scandal meets Alias with a dystopian sprinkling of The Handmaid’s Tale.“
Also starring: Nandy Martin and Zainne Saleh.
We’ll give it a try
Out the Door CBS (no premiere date, yet, for 2023)
We like a lot of the shows produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, so we’ll try this, but it sounds very silly.
“Upon learning that his impending retirement is being pushed off by several years, an apathetic LAPD detective who just wants his pension so he can go off and live the good life decides to do everything in his power to get fired, but his bad behavior only leads to surprising success at solving cases.”
No stars attached yet, which is a red flag…
Probably not great, but we’ll try it
*Prospect ABC (no premiere date in 2023, yet)
Writers, Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer, and director, Randall Einhorn, are bringing a show I might like, even though it’s a sit com: “A comedic western with a feminist twist: an idealistic young woman moves to the frontier to be a schoolteacher, but her ideals are quickly tested when she learns that her students are rowdy ranch hands, not children.”
Set to air in 2021, but COVID-delayed.
I’ll try it
The Gilded Age HBO (premiered early 2022; we wait for DVDs)
Not sure if Julian Fellowes‘ newest period drama is for you, AND it just got moved to a pay station, but if you loved Downton Abbey, this will help you decide: Michael Engler, “who directed multiple episodes of Downton Abbey, including the two-hour series finale, is set to direct the opening two-hour episode of Fellowes’ 10-episode series,” and “also will serve as executive producer with Fellowes and former Downton EP, Gareth Neame.” Fellowes is the creator and writer: “The Gilded Age is a sweeping fictional epic of the millionaire titans of New York City in the 1880s—a period of immense social upheaval, of huge fortunes made and lost, and of palaces that spanned the length of Fifth Avenue. In the series, Marian Brook is the wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family who will embark on infiltrating the wealthy neighboring family dominated by ruthless railroad tycoon, George Russell, his rakish and available son, Larry, and his ambitious wife, Bertha, whose ‘new money’ is a barrier to acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set. Marian is about to experience a whole new world springing up right outside her front door.”
The first SEASON “will take place in the booming 1880s in New York City.”
Starring: Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, The Good Fight), Cynthia Nixon (Sex & the City), Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards), and Morgan Spector (Homeland).
We’ll try it when it’s on DVD
RECOMMENDED but no longer “live”: watch streaming, get DVDs,
try On Demand or online
For PBS special productions (Great Performances of filmed live plays, concerts, more), stream them online: http://www.pbs.org
The Chair Netflix (released SEASON 1 on 8/27/21; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
We were very excited to watch Sandra Oh as the Chair of an English Department at a major university, one of my alter ego’s jobs.
Starring also: Jay Duplass, Holland Taylor, David Morse.
This is a “comedy following Ji-Yoon Kim (Oh) as she becomes the first woman of color named chair of the English Department at the prestigious Pembroke University.”
FMI and a write-up worthy of a real college: https://www.usnewsbrandfuse.com/Netflix/THE_CHAIR/Pembroke_University/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1qeBUdLpwgSRomttVuctjiolIgpbfD4xEsV7dqrLfxVs35IPuLBUYiG6Q
However, the writing, plotting and other actors are VERY uneven. We watched 2 Episodes, so far: NOT sure, yet. Many pros and several cons. Mom is OUT. I finished, but it’s so uneven, not sure about SEASON 2.
Also, it’s a SIT COM (27 minutes per Episode) which we were not expecting and do not like.
Creators: Amanda Peet, Annie Julia Wyman.
Very uneven; CANCELED
*Paper Girls Amazon Prime (8 Episodes released 7/29/22; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
I like time-travel stories, so I tried this and I’m glad I did. The acting, especially by the four young stars, is amazing. The writing is tight and fascinating. I did not even recognize Nate Corddry as the main adult character in all the Episodes! Very engaging and intriguing, even if implausible. Excellent casting for the adult-12-YO paired female stars.
“In the early morning hours after Halloween 1988, four paper girls—Erin, Mac, Tiffany, and KJ—are out on their delivery route when they become caught in the crossfire between warring time-travelers, changing the course of their lives forever. Transported into the future, these girls must figure out a way to get back home to the past, a journey that will bring them face-to-face with the grown-up versions of themselves. While reconciling that their futures are far different than their 12-year-old selves imagined, they are being hunted by a militant faction of time-travelers known as the Old Watch, who have outlawed time travel so that they can stay in power. In order to survive, the girls will need to overcome their differences and learn to trust each other, and themselves.
“Based on the best-selling graphic novels written by Brian K. Vaughan, Paper Girls is a high-stakes personal journey depicted through the eyes of four girls, played by breakout leads: Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tieng, Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle, and Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman. Ali Wong also stars as the grown-up version of Erin, with Nate Corddry as Larry, and Adina Porter as Prioress.”
Very good; CANCELED for SEASON 2
*Lupin Netflix (released 2 SEASONS by June, 2021; SEASON 3 12/?/22 or beyond)
Dubbed and subtitled in English, from the French (which made Mom bail on this series): “A retelling of the classic French story about Arsène Lupin, the world-famous gentleman thief and master of disguise….Gentleman thief, Assane Diop, sets out to avenge his father for an injustice inflicted by a wealthy family.”
Starring: Omar Sy as Diop/Lupin, with Nicole Garcia, Antoine Guoy, Vincent Londez, Shirine Boutella, Clotilde Hesme, Soufiane Guerrab, Fargass Assande.
I liked this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 3
All Rise OWN (returned 6/7/22 for final? SEASON 3)
We really like this show and are glad it’s been resurrected, on a new channel for 2022. A courtroom and personal drama mix that has the balance well-written, with a great cast.
“Two new recurring cast members includ[e] Roger Guenveur Smith (Do the Right Thing, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker) portraying Judge Marshall Thomas and Christian Keyes (All the Queen’s Men, The Boys), who will play Robin (previously played by Todd Wiliams), Lola Carmichael’s husband who has stepped away from the FBI to become a full-time dad….”
This series “follows the chaotic, hopeful and sometimes absurd lives of its judges, prosecutors and public defenders as they work with bailiffs, clerks and cops to get justice for the people of Los Angeles amidst a flawed legal process. It centers on Judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick), a highly regarded and impressive deputy district attorney who doesn’t intend to sit back on the bench in her new role, but instead leans in, immediately pushing the boundaries and challenging the expectations of what a judge can be.”
Co-starring: Wilson Bethel, Jessica Camacho, J. Alex Brinson, Ruthie Ann Miles, Lindsay Mendez and Lindsey Gort, but usually not Marg Helgenberger (cast in another drama for 2022, and may return occasionally). Role of Robin (Lola’s FBI husband) was recast) (see above).
We love this; glad was resurrected on a new basic cable channel
Herb Alpert Is… premiered 10/1/20, LIVE, on several platforms online (see below)
“Herb Alpert, legendary musician, artist and philanthropist has sold more than 72 million albums – 29 of them gold or platinum – outsold The Beatles in 1966 and co-founded A&M Records, the most successful independent record company in history. Herb Alpert Is…, directed by John Scheinfeld, looks at Herb’s extraordinary life with rare footage and interviews with colleagues like Sting and Questlove….”
LIVE online world premiere of the new documentary, 10/1/20: http://www.herbalpertis.com.
THIS WAS FANTASTIC!
on Great Performances PBS (each aired in November, 2019, and online after that; go to http://www.pbs.org/show/videos/ )
Each of these was a London-based production of a Broadway show that was filmed live, and each was FABULOUS!
Each won many awards in the USA and is up for similar awards in England (Tony Awards, here; Olivier Awards there), and well-deserved, all.
The Last Laugh Netflix (released 12/10/18)
This grew on us slowly. We did like it, especially the singing.
“When retired talent manager Al Hart is reunited with his first client, Buddy Green, a comic who quit show business 50 years ago, he convinces Buddy to escape their retirement community and hit the road for a cross-country comedy tour.”
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Andie McDowell, Chevy Chase
A TRAILER HERE: https://movizark.com/2018/12/30/the-last-laugh-trailer-chevy-chase-and-richard-dreyfuss-lead-this-netflix-comedy-check-it-out/We liked this a lot
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2001-2008 on BBC; now on DVD; 23 Episodes; 7 SEASONS)
“The aristocratic Inspector Thomas Lynley [Nathaniel Parker] and the down-to-earth Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers [Sharon Small] join forces to investigate a series of murders. Their working relationship is challenged by their respective lots in life—Lynley is an earl, while Havers comes from a working-class background. The characters and some of the storylines are based on the novels by Elizabeth George.”
Also starring and recurring roles played by: Lesley Vicarage, Adam Godley, and many other now-familiar faces.
We liked this a lot
Janet King DVD/Acorn (3 SEASONS)
We got all three SEASONS from our library and watched them happily. Marta Dusseldorp, the star of this, was also the star of A Place to Call Home, which we love. This is an Australian urban legal drama, and very well done. Recommended.
We liked this
Case Histories Amazon Prime (2 SEASONS)
We love Jason Isaacs and the rest of the cast and stories are great. HOWEVER, the Edinburgh-Scottish accents can be very difficult for us midwestern USA folks to understand. Each Episode is in two parts or all one part, depending on your viewing stream. ” based on the Jackson Brodie novel series by Kate Atkinson….[Also starring] Amanda Abbington, Zawe Ashton, Millie Innes. Former soldier and policeman, Jackson Brodie, becomes a private investigator.”
We liked this
Republic of Doyle Netflix (available for all 6 SEASONS—2010-2014— in 2016)
“The sleepy port city of St. John’s, Newfoundland, is changing. While an influx of oil has flooded its coffers, it’s also brought to the surface the corruption—where there’s cash, there’s trash, after all. And doing his part to clean things up is private eye, Jake Doyle, who, with the help of his dad and partner at the Doyle P.I. Firm, takes on all cases—with the odd homicide thrown in just to keep things interesting.”
Somewhat fun, but too many trite tropes and chase scenes, with several obnoxious characters, including the star,/co-writer, Allan Hawco, who is not nearly as adorable as he thinks he is. But, after one SEASON, he grew on us and we keep watching. The father -son relationship is dysfunctional (rather, Malachy, is played by Sean McGinley), and his “relationship” with his ex-wife is downright pathological. Best character is the step-mother of the star, played by Lynda Boyd. Co-starring Krystin Pellerin and Marthe Bernard.
CBC gave it a lot of years and it won awards: it gets better, but is uneven.
We sort of like it and it grows on us
Lewis (was BBC; now DVD) 8 SEASONS
Another very well-written and -acted British detective series, and this one stars Kevin Whately, the co-star of Inspector Morse—which we haven’t watched, yet, because we are continuing first with Morse’s prequels in Endeavor—as DI Lewis, who previously was Morse’s (Endeavor’s) DS, and now he is Hathaway’s DI (James Hathaway, played well by Laurence Fox, who is much like the character of Endeavor, interestingly). For the last several SEASONS, Lewis is semi-retired, and Hathaway becomes a DI to DS Maddox (Griffith).
Great characters, not very bloody stories, excellent music by the recently deceased and much-missed composer, Barrington Phelong, who wrote the music for all three series and many more.
Starring/featuring: Clare Holman, Rebecca Front, Angela Griffith.
We really liked this
Scott & Bailey (was BBC; now DVD) 5 SEASONS
Another very well-written and -acted British detective series, and this one has many strong female characters in leading roles! It is a “series following two officers who work in a Manchester police unit specialising in murder cases.” Produced contemporaneously, more or less, with 2011-16. Written by the great Sally Wainwright (The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, Last Tango in Halifax, Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley).
Starring/featuring: Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore, Tony Mooney, Nicholas Gleaves.
We really like this
*Magical Land of Oz PBS (released 8/28/19)
This is “a three-part series about Australia’s magical wildlife.”
I spent 3 magical weeks Down Under over 20 years ago… Loved it.
Very fascinating. Loved this!
The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special with Celine Dion CBS (aired 5/21/19)
We really enjoy a lot of the shorter segments (how talented is James Corden?), and the first Special, with Sir Paul McCartney, was fabulous.
This one was sillier, but fun. Vegas, right?
Weird, but fun
Cypher Roku Channel (released 7 Episodes 3/19/21)
This yet-another-crime-series features a “top FBI cryptanalyst, Will Scott (Martin Dingle Wall, Home & Away, COPS L.A.C.), who is enlisted to crack a coded document, which is revealed to be a hit list. Will soon finds himself in the crosshairs of the bad guys who want their list back. He must navigate the murky waters of loyalty and betrayal amongst an underground ring of hackers, hit men and FBI agents—all as the clock ticks in pursuit of the latest targets.”
Kind of trite and not many surprises, but a few. Good acting and we liked it all right.
Also starring: Jaclyn Hales (Mosaic, Christmas Eve) “as Claire, a mysterious woman who offers to protect and help Will”; Mary Helen Schmidt (She is Mine) “as Will’s ex-wife Leah; Lauren Gravitt as their daughter; Brian Krause (Charmed) “as the FBI’s head of the case, Robert”; John Reardon (Hudson & Rex) as Antoine; Eve Mauro (Age of the Living Dead, Dystopia) “as respected FBI agent, Reese; and, John J. Jordan “as Andre, Reese’s partner.”
Majdi Smiri created and will direct.
We liked it
**Law & Order: Organized Crime NBC (returned 9/22/22 for SEASON 2)
Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) spinoff; I used to watch the original, but it got too dark for me. Mom has continued to watch all 20 SEASONS of the original show, which used to star Meloni. Mom was primed to like this, and even I was open-minded. I watched a couple of SVU Episodes prior to this 2-part opener, to get used to the newer characters.
We were bored, disappointed and frustrated with the script, the pacing, and the plot. The premises were completely implausible and not interesting, either. I won’t continue. Mom might. We predict it will be canceled unless it improves greatly.
This spinoff “centers on the NYPD organized crime unit, led by Stabler,…who returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after a devastating personal loss. However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he’s been away, and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Throughout the series, we will follow Stabler’s journey to find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one.”
Also starring: Dylan McDermott and Tamara Taylor.
Very disappointing; RENEWED for SEASON 2
The Worst Witch Netflix (4 SEASONS)
Surprisingly interesting, since it’s really for kids. “Mildred lives an ordinary until the day that Maud Spellbody crashes her broomstick into their balcony. Maud then introduces Mildred to Cackle’s Academy – a school for young witches set high on a mountaintop.”
Starring: Bella Ramsey, Raquel Cassidy, Jenny Richardson, Clare Higgins (in dual roles), BUT, they have recast key peole with specious explanations. Too bad.
We liked it
Jingle Jangle Netflix (released December, 2020)
If you like great musicals with amazing choreography, with kids, young and older adults singing, dancing and acting so well, with a pretty good script and story, catch Jingle Jangle on Netflix!
If you saw Prom, you’ll recognize Keegan-Michael Key as the main “bad guy” in this is the HS Principal from that! I know you may be all Christmas-movies fatigued, but this is not really a Christmas movie so much as a movie that takes place during the ramp up to that holiday (like, Die Hard, right?).
Who knew Forest Whitaker could sing? I did not! Great actor, of course, and he aces this role, which is very complicated.
Also, many excellent London-based actors/singers, and one amazing young female lead, Madelen Mills, in her first starring role, who deserves EVERY award!
Most of the cast and crew, producers, creatives and directors are African-UK or -American; John Legend (who performed wonderfully at the Inauguration!) wrote the fabulous show-stopper and co-produced this film.
Bonuses: FABULOUS and INNOVATIVE animation, sets, costumes, gadgets, and songs throughout.
My mom and I loved it!
Wycliffe BBC/Filmrise/Roku (5+ Seasons, starting 1994)
We enjoyed Doc Martin so much we went back to Cornwall, and the very first Episode of this series takes place in the same locale: Port Isaac standing in for Portwenn, Fishermen’s Friend’s town, and the fictional town in Wycliffe as well!
“Based on novels by W.J. Burley, Wycliffe tells the story of Detective Superintendent Charles Wycliffe, who investigates murders. Early episodes feature stories adapted from Burley‘s books in a whodunit style, while late episodes deal more with internal politics within the police department.”
This detective series offers 5+ SEASONS, and we’ve just started, but like it.
Starring: Jack Shepherd, Helen Masters, Jimmy Yuill, Tim Wylton
We like this
Inspector George Gently (Acorn/BBC; DVDs, and on AZ Prime, for $; 8 SEASONS)
Set in mid-to late-’60s-era, northern Britain, but shot 2007-2017. Another detective series, with 8 SEASONS. Great acting and writing, and amazing soundtrack, but much bloodier and more disturbing than the other series we’ve watched from these producers. Some SEASONS have only 2 stories (each with double-Episodes), some have 3 stories, some have 4. Very random.
“A crime drama set in the 1960s, based on a series of novels by Alan Hunter, concerning the partnership between the veteran title detective and his mouthy younger sidekick, John Bacchus. While in the novels the setting is Norfolk, here the stories take place in the North East of England, mainly around Newcastle upon Tyne and County Durham. The duo track down criminals during their investigations, but Gently must also keep his headstrong assistant focused on the cases at hand and keep him on the straight and narrow, in a time when the line between police work and criminality was much blurrier.”
Starring: Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby as the detective partners, with Simon Hubbard recurring and many others we recognize appearing occasionally or one-off.
A bit dark, but great
Press PBS Masterpiece/BBC; DVDs for us (6 Episodes, 2018)
“Observant drama series set in the offices of two British newspapers, following the personal and professional lives of their rival newspaper editors and reporters as their industry struggles to contend with the explosion of online media and the hacking scandals of the past. The first episode sets the multi-layered tone for the series in an exploration of how influential the media can be in defining truth, as liberal broadsheet is pitted against populist tabloid, a young journalist finds his personal ethics in conflict with the demands of the real job, and the same story is represented in very different ways.”
This is very timely, and somewhat depressing, with stories about corruption in police and government, a Trump/Weinstein-like predator, and the ethics of “news” vs. news. Great writing and acting.
Starring: Charlotte Riley, Ben Chaplin, Priyanga Burford, David Suchet, Paapa Essiedu, Al Weaver, Ellie Kendrick
We liked it, but it’s very timely in a bad way
The Queen’s Gambit Netflix (7 Episodes, released 10/22/20)
Both the child (Isla Johnston) and the teen/young adult lead (Anya Taylor-Joy) versions of the main character (“Beth Harmon, the young adult competitive chess player who is determined to become the greatest chess player in the world”) are AMAZING in this, and the supporting cast, special effects and plots are fabulous. We LOVED this, but the first 2 Episodes are a bit rough.
Also starring: Bill Camp as Mr. Scheibel, her first chess teacher and friend; Moses Ingram as Jolene, a fellow orphan at the Methuen Home. Christiane Seidel as Helen Deardorff. Thomas Brodie-Sang as Benny Watts. Harry Melling as Harry Beltik. Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Townes. Rebecca Root as Miss Lonsdale.
800 Words (ran for 3 SEASONS. Released originally in 2015-16. Aired on PBS in 2019 and now is on streaming services)
Cast of 800 Words
Self-named a “sweet, refreshing family drama.” It “follows Australian widower, George Turner’s (Erik Thomson), impulsive decision to start afresh in the New Zealand coastal town of Weld, where he spent his summer vacations as a child. He quits his job as a popular 800-word columnist for a Sydney newspaper… [and]… buys a house online in a remote seaside town in New Zealand. He then has to break the news to his two teenage kids, Shay and Arlo (Melina Vidler, Benson Jack Anthony), who just lost their mom and now face an even more uncertain future….The Aussie invaders quickly become the center of attention in this small town populated by weird and wonderful locals.” Co-Created by Maxine Fleming and James Griffin ( We seem to like many of the shows produced/aired on ACORN (Australian), and this one looks good, also. We can get it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. This aired on our local PBS station, but we missed it.
We tried to watch this, but could only get a few Episodes free. Bummer.
It is cute
Secret City Netflix (2 SEASONS, from 2016 & 2019; LIMBO for SEASON 3)
Spy stuff, in Australia. Has several Americans in the cast, and some Aussies we recognize from other shows, but mostly, new people (to us). Kind of confusing (isn’t spy stuff always confusing?), but interesting. SEASON 2 jumps ahead about 2 years and has mostly new people.
Starring: Anna Torv, Jacki Weaver, and others we are getting to know.
Unlikely to be RENEWED as of fall, 2022.
We like it all right
Frankie Drake Mysteries DVD/CBC/Ovation/Netflix (SEASON 1 released early 2019; SEASON 2 premiered in Canada 7/27/19 & SEASON 3 premiered on PBS for earlier SEASONS and Ovation 4/4/20; great for SEASON 4; CANCELED, on a cliffhanger! no SEASON 5)
These are excellent! Many actors are from other CBC shows we have liked, and the stars are fabulous: Lauren Lee Smith (The Listener) is Frankie, and Chantal Riley (soon to be on Pearson) is her partner, Trudy, and, Wendy Crewson is a hoot as Frankie’s mother. We like how they insert real people and events along with the fictional (notably. recurring appearances by a young Ernest Hemingway, who DID write for the Toronto newspaper before going to paris!). Fantastic hats, costumes, set designs, props, also. We can forgive some lazy anachronisms regarding ways of talking, hair and make-up colors, and general attitudes, because these are fun!
“Set in stylish 1920s Toronto, [FDM] follows the female-only agency Drake Private Detectives, led by the eponymous Frankie Drake and ,her partner Trudy Clarke. Incorporating a brand of justice that doesn’t always follow the law, Frankie and Trudy investigate mysteries and crimes that either the police refuse to take on, or that their clients cannot take to the police at all. Against a backdrop of social change, radical politics and jazz music, the series is immersed in both the real Toronto of the 1920s and the world of mystery and suspense conjured by creators, Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci.”
We like these a lot; great for SEASON 4; CANCELED, on a cliffhanger! no SEASON 5
*Fosse/Verdon FX (8 Episodes; premiered 4/9/19)
We were excited about this Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon bio, but what an awful man. I fast-forward through most of it and Mom quit after about 20 minutes.
Starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, from Lin-Manuel Miranda & Thomas Kail (Hamilton) and Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen). BUT, after Episode 1 (which we didn’t even finish), we were disappointed. We thought we’d try more, but it’s so DARK (literally as well as metaphorically) that we haven’t gone back to it.
“Based on Fosse, the biography written by Sam Wasson, the limited series tells the story of the singular romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. He was a visionary filmmaker and one of theater’s most influential choreographers and directors; she was the greatest Broadway dancer of all time….Nicole Fosse, daughter of Fosse and Verdon, is Co-Executive Producer.”
(You can watch one of their classic dance numbers HERE, https://deadline.com/2018/07/bob-fosse-gwen-verdon-fx-limited-series-michelle-williams-sam-rockwell-star-lin-manuel-miranda-thomas-kail-steven-levinson-1202432819/.)
“Together they changed the face of American entertainment—at a perilous cost. Featuring Fosse’s choreography, the series explores the hidden corners of show business, the price of pursuing greatness, and the suffering inflicted in the name of art.”
In case you don’t know, Bob Fosse and later, he in collaboration with his wife, Gwen Verdon, originated a tight, sinewy style of choreography made famous by Ben Vereen, Joel Grey, Anne Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth and others in award-winning shows Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Chicago, Pippin, Cabaret, Sweet Charity‘s that was imitated in multiple shows after that. All That Jazz, an autobiographical film that Fosse wrote and directed, was completed during his first heart attack (starring the late Roy Scheider), but he died from another attack soon after the film’s release, at the young age of 60. A true original and genius of dance.
Cast includes: Norbert Leo Butz, Margaret Qualley, Aya Cash, Nate Corddry, Susan Misner, Bianca Marroquin, Kelli Barrett, Evan Handler, Rick Holmes, Paul Reiser, Ethan Slater and Byron Jennings.
Well-done, but awful story
*Jane Fonda in Five Acts HBO (premiered 9/24/18; on DVD in late 2019)
This lived up to its hype: excellently done. Billed as “a candid documentary About the formidable actress and activist.” Despite an uneven script and some silliness, we have enjoyed Fonda‘s playing off Lily Tomlin in Grace & Frankie on Netflix these last several years. “Drawing on 21 hours of interviews with Fonda, the film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to largely positive reviews. Per the official synopsis: ‘[Fonda] speaks candidly and frankly about her life and her missteps. She explores the pain of her mother’s suicide, her father’s emotional unavailability, 30 years of an eating disorder and three marriages to highly visible, yet diametrically opposed, men.’…[It] also includes interviews with family and friends—Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, producer Paula Weinstein and former spouses, Tom Hayden and Ted Turner—as well as rare home movies and verité footage of the 80-year-old Fonda’s busy life today.”
Doing “Climate Change Fridays” and continuing to grow this, and get arrested, qualify as her SIXTH Act, right?
*Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On A & E Biographies (aired December, 2019, 2 nights)
This was very well done, and coming after I already watched Ken Burns‘ PBS documentaries about Bluegrass and Country Music, fit right in. Excellent interviews, clips, concert pieces, live and recorded parts. Fun.
I liked this a lot
*A Very British Romance and Royals, with Lucy Worsley PBS (mini-docuseries, aired throughout 2020)
Fascinating! Lots I never knew and found interesting.
“Lucy Worsley explores how our idea of romance has developed since the Georgian period.” She has 3 Episodes, each focused on a period: Georgian, Victorian, and 20th Century. “Lucy Worsley concludes her series with the most dramatic transformation of romance yet. Out of the carnage of World War One came a racier species of romantic love. It could be found in the novel The Sheik, the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time, while in real life, Marie Stopes urged husbands and wives to explore their sexual desire.”
I was intrigued
*The Pieces I Am (DVD in early 2020)
What an inspiration the late Toni Morrison was and continues to be! “Navigating a white, male world [as an editor at Random House in the 1960s] was not threatening. It wasn’t even interesting. I was more interesting than they were, and I wasn’t afraid to show it.” Watch the great, original, Nobel-prize-winning author, “Toni Morrison, in this trailer for a new documentary about her life, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders“:
This was amazing!
Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song PBS (premiered 5/3/19)
These annual Gershwin Prize award shows are some of our favorites because they highlight the songs of great songwriters with stellar performances throughout, along with biographical info about the recipient(s). This one was moving, amazing, and fabulous!
Felicitaciones to the newest and unique recipients (first Latinx and first couple) to be given this great honor, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, winners of over 25 Grammys and other awards and currently the topics of the popular, multiple Tony-Award-winning Broadway and national touring musical, On Your Feet! “Previous winners include Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Paul McCartney and Smokey Robinson…” This all-star tribute concert occurred/was taped in March, 2019.
FYI: Gloria Estefan is only the second woman (Carole King was the first) and the first WOC to be a recipient!
Definitely watch this!
*Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind HBO (aired 7/16/18; got the DVD)
This was funny (laugh-out-loud funny!), poignant, amazing, sad. A documentary on the life and work of one of our most precious geniuses, gone too soon, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.
BTW: one of my best friend’s mothers died of the same disease that caused Robin Williams to commit suicide, and he was not wrong. It’s a slow horrible, debilitating dementia and physical atrophying illness—Lewy Body Disease—that no one survives or recovers from. Her last years were bedridden, mostly unable to communicate with any logic or make sense of anything, not recognizing anyone or any place, barely able to eat or talk. That was what he was facing. Understand suicide in that circumstance, for sure.
Fascinating, but somewhat sad
Love, Gilda CNN (aired 1/1/19 and online)
If you ever were a fan of the late Gilda Radner (gone too soon, from ovarian cancer, in her 40s), Saturday Night Live (especially its earliest years), great comedy, and her collaborators/legacy comedians (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Lorraine Newman, Jane Curtin, Melissa McCarthy, the late John Belushi and John Candy, and so many more), then you will love this documentary about her life based on her own notes, her autobiography, interviews, home movies, and other clips/shots. It is extremely well-done, mostly chronological, and hilarious (and, sad).
We loved this
Rent FOX (aired 1/27/19, NOT live, tape-delayed)
The NOT-live musical production of the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Rent, was NOT shown live because one of the stars (Brennin Hunt, Roger) broke his leg and they had no understudies! So, we all saw the dress rehearsal, which was taped.
Brandon Victor Dixon (Tom Collins, “the computer scientist who returns to New York after being expelled from MIT”), Vanessa Hudgens (Maureen Johnson,” the outgoing performance artist who’s not afraid to take on the establishment”), Kiersey Clemons (Joanne Jefferson, “Maureen’s girlfriend and an Ivy League-educated lawyer”), Brennin Hunt (Roger Davis, “a struggling musician and Mark’s roommate and best friend”), Valentina (Angel Dumont Schunard, “a young drag queen and street percussionist who embraces life and lives it to its fullest”), Mario (Benjamin Coffin III, “Mark and Roger’s former roommate-turned-landlord, who is after their rent”), Tinashe (Mimi Marquez, “the dancer who struggles with addiction”), Keala Settle (who will perform “Seasons of Love” and in the ensemble) , and Jordan Fisher (Mark Cohen, “an aspiring filmmaker, who serves as the show’s narrator, while filming the lives of his friends”).
Billed as: “a re-imagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, and set in New York City’s gritty East Village, Rent tells the unforgettable story of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams during a time of great social and political turmoil. Winner of four Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, writer/composer Jonathan Larson’s tour de force continues to offer an inspiring message of hope and friendship.” Producer is Marc Platt (Grease: Live, La La Land, Wicked), and the estate of the late writer/composer Jonathan Larson, will executive-produce. This will be our third version (first film, first live filming of the play already viewed) to watch, but we like this show a lot, sad as it is.
We watched, but were not impressed
*Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew PBS (premiered 9/23/18; NOT the same as Netflix)This is another adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series of books, into a trio of TV movies written by Susan Coyne. This one picks up the plot with in a later time in her life than the Netflix series (so far, anyway; it’s in SEASON 2). It’s also not in a series format. We missed the first two parts of this trio:
——Anne of Green Gables (premiered 11/16), which “tells the story of Anne Shirley, a precocious young girl taken from an orphanage and placed in the care of the uptight Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew. The conservative Marilla has a profound effect on the adventurous Anne and creates a journey of learning and personal engagement”; and
——Anne of Green Gables: Good Stars (premiered 11/17), which picked up the story a bit later. “When Anne Shirley turns 13, she faces complex issues with her friends, inspirational adults and Marilla and Matthew. At the same time, she begins a friendship with Gilbert Blythe that emotionally escalates to disrupt the status quo of her peaceful world. Her free-spirited nature is challenged by her perceived need to become sensible, and her journey toward this goal is fraught with confusion and more than a few unfortunate—albeit, amusing—mishaps”), but they can be watched online and elsewhere.
Starring: Ella Ballentine, Martin Sheen, Sara Botsford, Drew Haytaoglu.
“Anne arrives in Charlottetown to attend accelerated classes, and she continues to work toward her dream of being a school teacher. Anne finds herself facing choices for her future, stirrings of romance, and tragedy unlike anything she’s ever known….Through the influence of a spirited new teacher, Miss Stacy (Natalie Lisinska), Anne (Ella Ballentine) steps up her ability at scholarship and competes for the few spaces available at a teacher’s college. When Anne leaves for Queen’s College, Matthew and Marilla (Martin Sheen and Sara Botsford) feel a sudden emptiness in their lives. Anne moves to Charlottetown and is overwhelmed by her new surroundings, difficult classes at teacher’s college, and a deepening romance with Gilbert (Drew Haytaoglu). At the same time, Matthew and Marilla deal with health and financial difficulties that jeopardize their lives at Green Gables.”
I’m interested in how these two adaptations differ. Loved these books as a child!
I watched the last two: very well-acted and -written
A Place to Call Home ACORN (then DVD and Amazon; already has 5 SEASONS on DVD; SEASON 6—its final—aired on ACORN in late 2018; DVD released 4/23/19)
Medical, social class and religious persecution drama set in rural Australia, post-World War II, with strong female characters, especially in the lead roles. Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp) is fabulous as “a nurse returning to 1950s Australia after 20 years in Europe. A convert to Judaism, Sarah emerged from the horrors of World War II strong, principled, and defiant—a thoroughly modern woman still bearing the weight of the past. On the ship home, Sarah meets the wealthy Bligh family. She quickly charms dashing widower, George (Brett Climo, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga) and his spirited daughter, Anna (Abby Earl, The Great Mint Swindle). Less pleased is his mother (award-winning actress Noni Hazlehurst, Little Fish), particularly after Sarah witnesses a desperate act by George’s son, James (David Berry, Home and Away). As Sarah settles into life in her new town, Mrs. Bligh does everything she can to maintain her iron grip on her family-and keep Sarah out of it. A thoroughly addictive drama brimming with secrets, passion, romance, and intrigue, A Place to Call Home explores the ties that hold families together and the betrayals that can tear them apart.”
Also starring Sara Wiseman and Craig Hall.
“The 10-Episode final season will take the Blighs and all the residents of Inverness into 1960.” Here is a ink to a great interview and info about this show: https://tellyspotting.kera.org/2018/08/30/as-we-begin-our-final-stay-at-ash-park-a-qa-with-sara-wiseman-and-craig-hall-of-a-place-to-call-home/
We LOVE this and SEASON 5 was excellent!
The Doctor Blake Mysteries Netflix (SEASON 1 re-releasing on OVATION September, 2022; on PBS and other online outlets; also, DVDs through SEASON 5 available)
Star Craig McLachlan has been accused and was investigated for sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior on set. He got blackballed for bad behavior (spring, 2018) and is OUT for the final film, The Blake Mysteries: A New Beginning, which aired on 11/30/19 in the UK and we’re trying to get it on DVD in 2019. This is featuring his new wife, instead.
“The Doctor Blake Mysteries is an original, period murder mystery series, starring one of Australia’s favourite, most versatile actors, Craig McLachlan, as the maverick town doctor, Lucien Blake. A risk-taker, he is impulsive and not afraid to upset the status quo. Dr. Lucien Blake left Ballarat as a young man. But now, he finds himself returning, to take over his dead father’s medical practice. And one of the unwanted duties his father left him is the on-call role of police surgeon. Set in the old gothic gold rush town of Ballarat in 1959. The wealth that built its grand architecture long gone-but not the mysteries, murder and deceit that linger beneath the surface of its faded glory.”
Also starring Joel Tobeck, Nadine Garner, Rick Donald.
SEASON 1 aired in 2013. SEASON 2, with another 10 episodes, aired in 2014 and SEASON 3 aired in 2015. SEASONS 1- 5 are out on DVD as of late 2018.
We like this, and too bad about the star
*The Pinkertons Netflix (one SEASON only; 2017)
Martha MacIsaac (FABULOUS!), Jacob Blair and occasionally, Angus McFadyen, with a lot of others with marvelous acting chops guest star or appear repeatedly in this post-Civil War-era depiction of some of the actual cases and people involved with The Pinkerton Detective Agency in Kansas City, Missouri. Mom doesn’t like period pieces, much so I watched the first 22 Episodes (divided into 2 “SEASONS”). Hoping for another one or two SEASONS!
Great acting, verisimilitude, politics and humor along with serious early CSI work, filmed well.
Excellent series; wish for another SEASON!
Annual Kennedy Center Honors PBS (aired 12/26/18 and repeatedly after that, same date; clips and entire shows on YouTube for anniversary year, 2021; 2022 was FANTASTIC)
41st year’s host was Gloria Estefan and the honorees were: Cher; composer, Philip Glass; Reba McEntire; jazz great, Wayne Shorter; and, the creators of Hamilton—writer and actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda; director, Thomas Kail; choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler; and, music director, Alex Lacamoire. These awards “recognize artists who have made enduring and indelible marks on the culture.”
Great mix of live performances, bio-clips, interviews and tributes. Well worth watching.
*Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Netflix and DVD (3 SEASONS already released and 3 planned films, for 2019 and beyond, and a more modern spin-off; see below)
The spin-off version begins airing on Acorn TV 4/29/19 and is set in the 1960s.
The first of 3 planned movies with the original cast, still set in the post-war, 1920s, Australia, Miss Fisher and The Crypt of Tears, will release March, 2020! It “follows the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher on a Middle Eastern adventure IN SEARCH OF an ancient treasure. The film features several series regulars, including Nathan Page as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, Miriam Margolyes as Aunt Prudence and Ashleigh Cummings as her loyal assistant and maid, Dorothy ‘Dot’ Collins.”
Another excellent, feminist, fun detective series from Australia with a female protagonist, Miss Fisher, played so well by Essie Davis, and a male counterpart (Nathan Page). Great supporting cast, especially her side-kicks, fun music and interesting plots.
Set in the twenties, so Mom won’t watch it. I really like the series and look forward to the spin-off and films. The writers promise more “Fashion, feminism and fun” from all of the next additions.Visit their Facebook page for more info!
Worth your time
American Masters on PBS: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, PBS (out on DVD/VOD 4/24/18; premiered 5/18/18)
THIS WAS FASCINATING and very sad, as well. If you have an interest, it’s very well done, with amazing film and still photos from many decades of Lamarr‘s life, interviews with her children and granddaughter and many others as well as Lamarr herself.
Here are some clips: http://www.pbs.org/video/bombshell-hedy-lamarr-story-trailer-alebky/
I have a particular connection to Ms. Lamarr because one of my former partner’s mothers and aunt were her friends—three young women who were beautiful, talented, Jewish Austrians and Holocaust survivors. After they all had escaped from Austria and made their way to Los Angeles during Hitler’s rise in the late 1930s, these three appeared in two movies together (my partner’s relatives had very minor roles). They were also friends with another fellow Jewish Austrian, Johnny Weismuller, known for his roles as Tarzan.
“Hedy Lamarr was the original wild child. Her scandalous nude appearance in the 1933 Czech film, Ecstasy, made her infamous at the age of 17. She married a prominent Austrian businessman who became a weapons dealer to the Nazis. Lamarr, who was born Jewish, fled her husband in the middle of the night, boarding a boat for America with nothing to her name except a single designer gown. On board, she dazzled MGM boss, Louis B. Mayer, and convinced him to offer her one of the best contracts in Hollywood. As a movie star, she was considered by many to be ‘the most beautiful woman in the world.’ Songs were written about her beauty. Snow White [Disney’s original animated version] was modeled on her iconic look. She married six times and had affairs with everyone from Howard Hughes to Spencer Tracy.”
We liked this a lot
The Late Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke– 3rd Primetime Special CBS (aired 4/23/18) AND the one with Paul McCartney (aired 8/20/18)
We LOVE these scenes and were glad to watch even the ones we’d already seen on James Corden‘s show. Then, we were rewarded by a funny opening scene that turned into a hip-hop number AND a brand-new “Broadway Crosswalk” musical excerpts set with great guests!
Guess we weren’t the only ones who liked seeing Sir Paul McCartney in a James Corden‘s Carpool Karaoke segment! Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool was a full-length, primetime special that CBS aired 8/20/18. You can find it on YouTube or online, elsewhere. Sir Paul is also featured on a September edition of 60 Minutes, so catch that as well.
In other Carpool Karaoke news: SEASON 2 will feature many pairings, “including Jamie Foxx, who appears in the first episode with daughter, Corinne; Jason Sudeikis (both from Shazam), jamming with the Muppets; Matthew McConaughey” (can he sing or rap?!) with Snoop Dogg; and, “Rashida Jones and dad, Quincy,” on Apple TV and later, YouTube.
*Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (Documentary) PBS (premiered 1/19/18)
I’ve watched about half of this: it is FANTASTIC! Worthwhile, every moment!
“Award-winning filmmaker, Tracy Heather Strain, examines the activism and art of Lorraine Hansberry beyond her best-known play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” The film features interviews with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, and Louis Gossett Jr., narration by award-winning actress, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and the voice of Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, as Hansberry. The result is a timely and revealing portrait of an activist and artist whose popular recognition has, until now, remained long overdue.” (Press materials)
FANTASTIC! Worthwhile, every moment!
*Mozart in the Jungle Amazon Prime (4 SEASONS available)
Magical realism meets drug-addled, drunk and driven musicians and other artists in this odd romp through classical and other orchestral experiences; I have been enjoying it a lot. Funny thing: I avoided watching it for a while because I thought it was set in South America or Africa and would be weird; then, I realized Bernadette Peters stars in it AND then found out there is no “jungle” except for New York City.
Starring some fabulous characters, even if most are not actually musicians (or not that good) IRL: Gael García Bernal, Lola Kirke, Saffron Burrows, Debra Monk and a host of others (many actually playing the musical instruments or dancing, some not); and featuring Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell, Dermot Mulroney, Jason Schwartzman, Gretchen Mol, Wallace Shawn, the great Joshua Bell (violinist/Concert Master), and many others you may recognize.
“Love, money, ambition and music intertwine in Mozart in the Jungle, a half-hour comedic drama that looks at finding yourself and finding love while conquering New York City. A brash new maestro, Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal), stirs up the New York Symphony as young oboist, Hailey (Lola Kirke) hopes for her big chance.”
Great fun and music, both
Vexed Netflix (2 SEASONS)
This British detective series is trite, but cute and somewhat interesting. Can be funny enough to laugh out loud. Strong characters, good plots. Weird, though, that we never see or meet anyone else from their police station: no DCI (Detective Chief Inspector), no other colleagues (except occasionally, in the background).
Starring: Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch (SEASON 1) and Toby Stephens and Miranda Raison (SEASON 2)
Toby Stephens and Miranda Raison, stars of SEASON 2 of Vexed
Somewhat trite, but cute; 2 SEASONS
*Ozark Netflix (released Episodes 1/21/22 & 4/29/22 for final SEASON 4)
Have not enjoyed SEASONS 2, 3 or 4 much. Watched it all, so far, though there have been dozens of murders and it gets much darker.
SEASONS get increasingly odd, dark, violent and disturbing, but sometimes, strangely sweet and compelling. My favorite aspects are the stories, scenes and interactions with the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, where I spent some of the happiest times of my childhood and adolescence, 1963 – 1970, at Camp Hawthorn (near Kaiser, Missouri) and Camp Sabra (which is what Camp Hawthorn became when it merged with Camp Wah-Kon-Dah), on the Staenberg Peninsula, which both share lakefront activities because of the Lake of the Ozarks. I canoed on, swam in, water skied on, sailed on, camped beside and enjoyed that lake so much that it was a delight to see it in this series, even when the storylines are tragic and the characters are horrendous and unlikable.
Who exactly are the “good” and who are the “bad” guys, anyway?
Starring Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and some I don’t know so well.
The story is about criminals, mostly, and how this one family becomes them and deals with them, both.
Definitely rated “R.”
Not for everyone, but I sort of like it; very dark, especially for SEASON 3 & final SEASON 4
*Greenhouse Academy Netflix (released 11/20/20, for SEASON 4; CANCELED for SEASON 5)
A teen-focused, sci-fi, somewhat soap-opera-y half-hour show that I somehow like enough to keep watching. Elite boarding schools have an odd appeal, don’t they?
Starts with a tragedy that is NOT what it seems, as we find out, slowly. Bad guys vs. good guys, but no heroes, yet. It’s always about money, too, which is trite.
Not a lot of info in SEASON 1, but SEASON 2 is more revealing. SEASON 3 has too much teen angst, but some plot points that are interesting, and ends on a cliffhanger.
Starring: Ariel Mortman, Finn Roberts, B J Mitchell, Chris O’Neal, Dallas Hart, Leo Cruz, Alex Woods, Grace van Dien, Brooke Osmond. Jessica Amlee, Jedckie Sanders. Benjamin Papac, Max Miller. Cinthya Carmona, Sophie Cardona (“students” are all in their 20s, but playing high schoolers).
Dana Melanie (Wild Nights With Emily) and Rafael Cebrian (Narcos) are joining for SEASON 3: Melanie is to replace Aviv Buchler as Emma Geller; Cebrian will be playing a new character, Enzo.
Somewhat predictable, but fun; CANCELED for SEASON 5
Fearless Amazon (premiered/available 10/27/17, but only has one SEASON)
We like British mysteries/crime dramas a lot. Here is another new one.
“The series follows human rights lawyer, Emma Banville (Helen McCrory) as she tries to overturn the conviction of killer, Kevin Russell (Sam Swainsbury). Russell was convicted of murdering a 15-year-old schoolgirl, but after serving 14 years of his sentence he still adamantly maintains his innocence. As Emma begins her investigations into the original case, led by DCS Olivia Greenwood, (Wunmi Mosaku), she is immediately met with a negative backlash from the public and press who wish to keep Russell behind bars. As she delves deeper into the case and stumbles upon a possible conspiracy, Emma finds her own personal life under the spotlight.”
We have watched all the Episodes, but just found out it won’t have a SEASON 2.
Is strange, but interesting; only has one SEASON)
*PSYCH USA (12/7/17, first film premiered; 2nd film released after 7/15/20 on Peacock TV (NBC streaming only, “Lassie Come Home”)
This silly but endearing show returned to the network that created it, USA, and NOT just for one “Holiday movie,” 12/7/17, as previously announced: the producer is planning at least two, possibly a total of 6 full-length PSYCH movies, as a “series,” 2017-2019.
In this one (and probably more( they sing, again! So fun.
“…[F]eaturing fake psychic detective, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), the team reunited once again… when the two-hour special premiered 2017 (December). Psych creator, Steve Franks, who co-wrote the movie with Roday, is directing. Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), Juliet (Maggie Lawson), Henry (Corbin Bernsen), and Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) also returned for the movie, which picks up three years after the series finale.”
Psych: The Movie 2 released in summer, 2020, to show this story: “Santa Barbara Police Chief Carlton Lassiter (Omundson), ambushed on the job and left for dead. In a vintage Psych-style Hitchcockian nod, he begins to see impossible happenings around his recovery clinic. Shawn (Roday) and Gus (Hill) return to Lassie’s side in Santa Barbara and are forced to navigate the personal, the professional, and possibly the supernatural. Separated from their new lives in San Francisco, our heroes find themselves unwelcome in their old stomping grounds as they secretly untangle a twisted case without the benefit of the police, their loved ones, or the quality sourdough bakeries of the Bay Area. What they uncover will change the course of their relationships forever.”
Silly, but fun
Great Performances, “She Loves Me” PBS (aired 10/20/17 and other dates and online, including 2020)
A multiple Tony Award-winning revival of Jerry Bock‘s and Sheldon Harnick‘s cute musical play whose book (by Joe Masteroff) is a mix of You’ve Got Mail, The Shop Around the Corner and a few others like it.
Excellent vocals and acting, adorable choreography (by Warren Carlyle), great sets and amazing costumes.
Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi in She Loves Me, image from Playbill
Starring Laura Benanti (who knew she had such an amazing voice as a high soprano after seeing her sing alto/low soprano in Nashville?) and Jane Krakowski (always wonderful), singing and dancing. (Mom and I thought Jane was about 10 years too old for this part, but she pulled it off) as the female leads, with the charming Zachary Levi and Gavin Creel as their co-workers and respective love interests. Including very strong and fun performances from each of the minor characters and the entire ensemble. Delightful!
We love having Broadway LIVE in our home!
Annie Live! NBC (aired 12/2/21)
The latest live musical to appear on prime time near the fall holidays will be a reboot of Annie (how many does this make?). Best part: Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan!
Also starring: Harry Connick, Jr. (as Daddy Warbucks) and Tituss Burgess as Rooster. Newcomer Celina Smith (12) was Annie.
No one beats Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, though. The rest were okay, but no standouts, to us.
It was fun
Falsettos on LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER PBS (aired 10/27/17, and online after that; go to http://www.pbs.org/show/lincoln-center/ for a preview trailer)
This is a “rock opera,” sort of: like Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, there is almost no dialogue; all is sung. Amazing talent in this production! The story is strange and sad, but so well-acted and sung.
We love getting LIVE (recorded live) Broadway in our own home (St. Louis, Missouri, USA) for free (for the price of cable TV, that is)! In case you don’t know, “Falsettos is a musical with a book by James Lapine and William Finn, and music and lyrics by Finn. The musical consists of March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, the last two installments in one trio of one-act Off-Broadway musicals….which tell the story of a gay man named Marvin, his lover Whizzer, Marvin’s wife, Trina, and their extended family, from the early ‘80s through the early days of the AIDS crisis.” (from Wikipedia and the PBS show page, which is also the the source of the image, below)
Starring Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells, who each was amazing! Bring tissues for the ending.
Strange but excellent
Torchwood BBC/DVDs for us (2006 – 2018, 4 SEASONS and 2 audio books on CD)
A spin-off of but not a lot like Doctor Who, with some overlapping themes and characters, “this series is set inside a branch of a covert agency called the Torchwood Institute, where dashing commander in chief Capt. Jack Harkness [John Barrowman] leads Torchwood Three, an ace team of experts, as it investigates unexplained extraterrestrial incidents on Earth. Other members of the team include newest member, Gwen Cooper [Eve Myles], police liaison; Dr. Owen Harper [Burn Gorman], doctor; computer specialist, Toshiko Sato [Naoko Mori]; and technician, Ianto Jones [Gareth David-Lloyd]. Torchwood Three operates independently of the British government, law enforcement groups and even the United Nations.”
If you like The X Files, Warehouse 13, and the aliens-on-earth tropes, you’ll like this.
Starring: John Barrowman, Gareth David-Lloyd, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori, Rhys Williams, Eve Myles.
We liked this a lot
The Heart Guy (aka Doctor, Doctor) ACORN TV/Nine Network (SEASONS 1 – 3 on DVD; SEASON 4 released November, 2019, on air; final SEASON 5 came out on DVD mid-fall, 2021)
Surprisingly and increasingly engaging 10-Episode/SEASON Australian-made dramedy starring some actors I’ve seen in other Australian series and BBC shows. We are watched them all and liked it all right.
Story is plausible and interesting, even if some of the characters are very broadly drawn. “A rising heart surgeon’s life takes a turn he never expected and soon everything comes crashing down. He soon finds himself a former big city doctor turned small town doctor. It could be the worst year of his life or just what the doctor ordered.”
Diverse cast starring and featuring: Rodger Corser (McCleod’s Daughters, Home and Away) as Hugh Knight, Nicole da Silva (All Saints, Home and Away) as Charlie, Ryan Johnson (Fairly Legal, Home and Away, All Saints) as Matt Knight, Hayley McElhinney as Penny, Tina Bursill (All Saints, Home and Away) as Meryl Knight, Steve Bisley as Jim Knight, Shalom Brune-Franklin as Aoife, Belinda Bromilow as Betty, Matt Castley as Ajax, Winta McGrath as Floyd.
We don’t subscribe to ACORN, so we get the DVDs from our public library. I can’t find anywhere to watch this online without paying for ACORN, so far.
Enjoyed this a lot; SEASONS 1 – 5 on DVD
Another Life Netflix (returned 10/14/21 for SEASON 2; CANCELED)
Starring one of our faves (we miss Longmire), Katee Sackhoff, as the starship captain. Yay! This is extremely well-written, acted and devised, without a lot of violence or fighting and very good character development and plots. SEASON 2 was very uneven in plot and situations with characters, and got quite confusing at times.
We persevered and it was worthwhile. Not sure how they can continue, though.
“Astronaut Niko Breckinridge [Sackoff] is focused on searching for alien intelligence, leading a crew on a mission to explore the genesis of an alien artifact. As Niko and her young crew investigate, they face unimaginable danger on what might very well be a one-way mission.”
Okay for SEASON 2; CANCELED
Grace & Frankie Netflix (final Episodes released 4/29/22)
The writing has deteriorated even worse for subsequent SEASONS, but we kept watching. The acting is worse, also, for every actor except Jane Fonda, who manages to have a character and not a caricature more than the rest. Bad directing, bad writing, terrible hamming/performing rather than acting, especially by the men. Still ZERO chemistry between ANY of the couples on this show, hetero or homo. Poor casting?
My mom and I watched them all, but we were constantly disappointed and disgusted. This is more farce than drama or comedy. No spoilers, here, but the final Episode was one of the better ones, but that’s not saying much.
We saw Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on talk shows often and we do respect them as actors. However, each of their characters has become a 2-D version of its original concept, and the characters of all the gay men, including Martin Sheen ‘s and Sam Waterston‘s, are always pathetic stereotypes.
Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterson) are wooden and unbelievable as passionate lovers.
Lily Tomlin performed (not acted) a hippie character trope.
Jane Fonda is the only one of the four who actually inhabits a realistic version of a character via acting, and I think she gets the best storylines.
Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael are given, as Sheen‘s and Fonda‘s adult daughters, mostly comedy bits and one-liners to enact, and they were not getting the sisterly relationship in any believable way until the final few Episodes.
Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry (Tomlin‘s and Waterston‘s adult sons) are not given that much to do, and even that is more slapstick than acting.
Most of the supporting characters are written as stereotypes of whatever group they are purported to belong to by ethnicity, age, job or other status, which is sloppy and lazy writing and disappointing for the talents of these actors. We hoped these actors would get to do more than mug, crack jokes and be cardboard cutouts.
Ernie Hudson returned as Lily‘s lover, Jacob, but then was gone, and came back for SEASON 6. Peter Gallagher was the best of the bunch, but his lines were so trite. They sometimes had great guest stars (yes, Dolly Parton appeared in the final Episode!, but poorly written and directed even worse); the gay friends were all 2-D stereotypes and wasted in this show.
This show could have been SO MUCH BETTER! But, the writing usually trivialized what few actual issues there were, going for silly and getting sillier, even though the topics are significant.
—Why do Sol and Robert’s arguments make them sound as if they’re 14-year-old girls?
— Why trivialize/parody the dying, strokes, heart attacks, losses, dementia, knee problems, muggings, burglaries, robberies and other crimes committed against senior citizens while parodying real concerns about home owners having loaded guns on site or need to be put into assisted living?
—How could women raising several children deal with husbands who won’t grow up besides divorcing them?
—How do couples who based their entire relationship on lifetimes of duplicity, dishonesty, and other problems that do not disappear once they are discussed form positive relationships?
—Does none of these characters have a distinct moral compass? They all lie to each other.
—Good to raise the issues senior citizens deal with in relationships and sexuality (vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, shyness/awkwardness (newly dating after being married for decades), lack of interest, but why not show more respect, even in a comedy?
–How do/can addicts “make amends” when they’ve lied, stolen, destroyed property and relationships/trust for many years and still can’t be readily trusted?
—Do children ever “get over” sibling rivalry? Do in-laws ever get along? How do jealousy and competition and affect adult relationships?
—How could adults deal effectively and respectfully with children’s phobias and anxieties rather than patronizing or minimizing?
Wish the writers would tackle these and other issues head-on rather than with one-liners and sit-com scenarios. The actors would then actually have something to do and the viewers would probably be feeling that their time had been well-spent instead of wasted.
Frequently disappointed; still awful for final SEASON 7
*A Discovery of Witches AMC & BBC (SEASON 2 returned 6/27/21 on AMC [for free/cable] in the USA; RENEWED for SEASON 3, airing January, 2022, in the UK, but nowhere in the USA for free)
I like the actors and story, but the music and ambiance are so overblown, it is difficult to enjoy it. Also, the talking is often hard to understand (poor audio balance).
SEASON 2 is better production-wise and off to a good start, albeit mostly set in the late 16th Century!
I read and liked all three books and the encyclopedia that accompanied the series AND the 4th book related to the same series by Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches, and was disappointed that the TV series (now getting three SEASONS) was only on paid channels we do not get (Sundance Now, Shudder, AMC+ streaming, and the UK’s SKY). BUT, it was so popular they brought it to cable!
“A Discovery of Witches is a modern-day love story set in a world where witches, vampires and demons secretly live and work alongside humans, hidden in plain sight. Season 1 follows Diana [Teresa Palmer], a young scholar at Oxford who is a descendant of the Salem witches. When she accidentally unlocks an enchanted manuscript, she is compelled to embrace the magic in her blood and enters a forbidden romance with charming 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew (Matthew Goode). In the second season, Matthew and Diana are hiding in time in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London , where they must find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life. Owen Teale, Alex Kingston, Lindsay Duncan, Valarie Pettifor, Edward Bluemel, Aiysha Hart, Trevor Eve, Malin Buska and Gregg Chillin also will return for Season 2.” Sounds as if each SEASON is based on one of the volumes of the 3-book series.
SEASON 2 is a winner; RENEWED but cost $ for SEASON 3
The Kominsky Method Netflix (great fun for all 3 SEASONS)
This is fun. Kind of depressing, but so well-done. Totally worth it, if you like stories about Hollywood folks, elderly male issues and a great friendship, father-daughter relationships, acting. Unfortunately, Alan Arkin did not return except in flashbacks for its final SEASON.
Co-created by Chuck Lorre, but we don’t like most of his latest shows (The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men). We enjoyed most of this and look forward to SEASON 2. The story “follows an aging actor who now makes his living in Hollywood as an acting coach.”
Starring: Michael Douglas, Lisa Edelstein, Nancy Travis, Sarah Baker and Alan Arkin; SEASON 2 is adding Jane Seymour, Jacqueline Bisset and Paul Reiser.
“Seymour will play Madelyn who is described as a seventy-something, well-to-do woman whom Norman (Alan Arkin) had a mad love affair with in the ’60s before he met his wife. After fifty years, the two reunite and start it again. Bisset steps into the role of Gabrielle, who is Mindy’s (Sarah Baker) mom and Sandy’s (Michael Douglas) French ex-wife who delights in still being able to push the buttons of her ex-husband. Rounding out the trio is Reiser, who plays a sixty-something high school teacher who gets romantically involved with Mindy.”
We liked it for all 3 SEASONS
Solos Amazon Prime (anthology series released 5/21/21)
“The seven-part anthology series explores the strange, beautiful, heart-breaking, hilarious, wondrous truths of what it means to be human….These character-driven stories contend that even during our most seemingly isolated moments, in the most disparate of circumstances, we are all connected through the human experience.”
Watched one Episode (Hathaway’s). Not sure, yet.
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Nicole Beharie, Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens and Constance Wu.
We tried it; mostly awful; stopped watching
*Godless Netflix (available; 7 Episodes)
Great cast: Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, Sam Waterston, and many more great actors. But, it’s a WESTERN…!? Gruesome, violent, sad, but somehow, compelling.
I watched and mostly liked this
Garth Brooks: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song PBS (premiered 3/29/20, and was taped 3/4/20, before corona virus shut-downs/closings/limited gatherings took over)
These annual Gershwin Prize award shows are some of our favorites because they highlight the songs of great songwriters with stellar performances throughout, along with biographical info about the recipient(s). This was another great one!
“Brooks is one of the major changemakers in the history of country music. His music weaves the beauty of poetry, the universality of the human experience and the inclusiveness of other musical genres, making him one of the most influential performers in country music today. He has combined the sound of traditional country music with the performance style of arena rock legends of the 1970s, creating a unique artistic vision.
“Brooks’ first number one single, ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes,’ set the stage for him as a songwriter and showed his knack for expressing very personal feelings that touch on universal truths. The songs that he has written, as well as those he has chosen to record, have often moved beyond the traditional subject matter for country music, such as ‘We Shall Be Free,’ which won a GLADD Media Award in 1993 for addressing homophobia, homelessness and racism.”
The bio info will duplicate much of the documentary on Brooks I already watched, but will still be moving, amazing, and fabulous!
photo credit: Richard Harris
“Garth Brooks, center, is flanked by his team during a dinner overlooking the White House prior to his receiving the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize in Washington, D.C. From left, Kerry O’Neil Hagaman; co-manager, Bob Doyle, publicist, Nancy Seltzer, Trisha Yearwood, Cheryl Harris, attorney, Rusty Jones, and co-manager, Randy Bernard.”
“Brooks, 58, is the youngest recipient of the prestigious prize, a lifetime achievement award for singer-songwriters whose music made a lasting impact — it was created in 2007….Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, and Emilio and Gloria Estefan. “Featuring performances/tributes by: Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, Keb’ Mo’, Lee Brice and Jay Leno.
We loved this!
Jesus Christ Superstar NBC (premiered LIVE on Easter Sunday, 4/1/18)
A Broadway-filmed “live” (at filming time) showing of Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS)! If you’ve never seen it, it’s very worth it, when done well. It’s brilliant. JCS was one of the first “rock operas” of the 1960s-1970s. It has almost no dialogue and many amazing songs. Much more serious and politicized/satirical than Godspell, and not the same angle at all on the story of Jesus’ rise and fall, this one is told from Judas’ POV.
Amazing sets and lighting design, especially for the closing scenes. Our highest praise is for the staging.
Some of Camille Moore‘s choreography was good, some silly and/or derivative of other (not this) shows, some moves and configurations were interesting; none was great.
Some of the singers are NOT Broadway experienced and were difficult to hear or understand, even with microphones. Some were not on key too much of the time. Maybe they’ve been too reliant on post-production recording software to tune them up?
David Leveaux‘s direction was not great, either. Many actors were poorly situated or coached for the camera angles and lyrics. Some seemed to miss the points of their characters at key moments in their songs. Some were not well-directed or couldn’t act as well as they sang (or couldn’t do either aspect well), so some were poorly cast and it seemed more for their celebrity than their talent or suitability for this venue and these roles.
I’ve seen the first JCS film multiple times and the play produced in a variety of theatres. My opinion is both as a fan and as a professional. My mom had never seen it, anywhere, and is not a professional, but we agreed on all of these points.
Brandon Victor Dixon was the best and most experienced (Hamilton, for one), but even his songs were not great, some of the time. Sara Bareilles was one of the better ones, singing and acting, but poorly cast (there was zero chemistry between her and Legend). John Legend as Jesus was mediocre (and we’re being generous) at best; not at all up to the part, its subtleties or vocals.
Alice Cooper as King Herod was a sensation for casting, but barely audible, uninteresting and mostly flash with no substance (great costume, though). Jin Ha and Norm Lewis were not vocally capable of their demanding parts. Ben Daniels was a better actor than singer, as Pilate.
Overall, though, well-produced and fun/interesting/sad to watch. Worth your time, especially if you’ve never seen the play or the film (Mom was a newbie).
Mostly great and worth watching
Shows we/I NAYed: OFF OUR LIST
(but I sometimes “check in”)
Hotel Portofino PBS (premiered 6/19/22)
“Natascha McElhone heads the cast of a six-episode period drama about an elite British family that opens a swanky hotel on the Italian Riviera during the 1920s.”
If it’s not too silly and has no laugh track, we may like this, we thought, but it was DEADLY DULL. Couldn’t even finish one Episode!
This was so boring!
*Modern Love AZ Prime (Episodic, not actually a series; released SEASON 1 in 2019, SEASON 2 in 2021)
“TV series based on the New York Times’ column that explores relationships, love and the human connection.” Varied, stellar cast, but weird and unrelated stories. PIck and choose!
Very uneven and ultimately not worthwhile
*Wheel of Time AZ Prime (released 11/21/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
The late Robert Jordan’s epic series does NOT lend itself well to a TV serialization at all. My son warned me, but I tried it. Am up to Episode 5 and very disappointed, but unsurprised. Ham-fisted acting (even Pike seems wooden) and too much fighting, running around, and special effects and not enough story or character development. Lots of GORE, too. YUCK.
Starring: Rosamund Pike. Moiraine Damodred ; Daniel Henney. Lan Mandragoran ; Madeleine Madden. Egwene Al’Vere ; Zoë Robins. Nynaeve al’Meara ; Josha Stradowski
I suppose if you already read them all, go for it. Otherwise, skip it.
Not at all good
**Law & Order reboot NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 22)
Mom watched all of the original series; I watched none. I’m not a big fan of formulaic shows, but…
Starring some new and some returning cast members: Sam Waterson and Caryn Manheim are back, with (a very busy) Anthony Anderson, and Jeffrey Donovan, Hugh Dancy, Odelya Halevi.
Mom liked a little, but not enough
Big Sky ABC (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
This was so awful we couldn’t even finish one Episode. Too bad; great cast. But there was not one likable character or situation.
“A thriller created by David E. Kelley, who will write multiple episodes and serve as show runner in its premiere season. Private detectives, Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe), join forces with his estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. But when they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken. Based on the series of books by C.J. Box…”
Starring Bunbury (Pitch) and Winnick (Vikings), Brian Geraghty as Ronald Pergman, Dedee Pfeiffer as Denise Brisbane, Natalie Alyn Lind as Danielle Sullivan, Jesse James Keitel as Jerrie, with John Carroll Lynch as Rick Legarski.
Too dark; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Roadkill PBS (premiered 11/1/20; 4-Episode miniseries on Masterpiece)
We watched 2 Episodes but didn’t continue. It is slow. We like Hugh Laurie, and we loved Borgen, but this was BORING.
Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders, MotherFatherSon) is the Prime Minister, Dawn Ellison, in a “major new political thriller … written by David Hare (Collateral, The White Crow)….Helen and… Hugh Laurie (The Night Manager, House), are joined by Sidse Babett Knudsen (The Accident, Westworld), Saskia Reeves (Us, The Child in Time), Sarah Greene (Dublin Murders, Normal People), Patricia Hodge (A Very English Scandal, Miranda), Ophelia Lovibond (W1A, Hooten & the Lady), Iain De Caestecker (Us, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Katie Leung (Chimerica, Strangers), Olivia Vinall (The Woman in White, Apple Tree Yard), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Harlots, MotherFatherSon), Shalom Brune-Franklin (Our Girl, Bad Mothers), Pip Torrens (Poldark, Preacher), Millie Brady (The Last Kingdom) and Danny Ashok (Deep Water, Capital)…[for this]fictional thriller about Peter Laurence (Hugh Laurie), a self-made, forceful and charismatic politician. Peter’s public and private life seems to be falling apart—or, rather, is being picked apart by his enemies. As the personal revelations spiral, he is shamelessly untroubled by guilt or remorse, expertly walking a high wire between glory and catastrophe as he seeks to further his own agenda whilst others plot to bring him down. However events show just how hard it is, for both an individual and a country, to leave the past behind. With enemies so close to home, can Peter Laurence ever out-run his own secrets to win the ultimate prize?”
Space Force Netflix (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
An “American comedy web television series created by Greg Daniels and Steve Carell,” starring Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Tawny Newsome, Owen Daniels, Noah Emmerich. “A group of people are tasked with establishing the U.S. Space Force.”
What could go wrong?
Not worthwhile: it’s like SNL, with about 3 good one-liners or gags for the entire Episode.
We watched 1 Episode; that was enough; RENEWED for SEASON 2
*Miracle Workers TBS (RENEWED for SEASON 4)
SEASON 1 was mostly awful, but Daniel Radcliffe was good and wants to continue. SO, “The plan for Miracle Workers is to take on the one-season-one-story approach pioneered by franchises like Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story… Season 2 would be an entirely different story. The official description states that it ‘will be a medieval story about friendship, family and trying not to be murdered, centered on a group of villagers in the dark ages trying to stay positive in an age of inequality and fake news,’ with Radcliffe, [Steve] Buscemi, and first season regulars, Geraldine Viswanathan and Karan Soni returning in new roles.” Simon Rich will remain as creator.
The Dark Ages is the theme for SEASON 2. Yick.
I watched Episode 1 of SEASON 2 and will not continue. It’s terrible.
Season 3: “…this time, transporting cast members, Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan, Karan Soni and Jon Bass to the American Old West. Set in the year 1844, Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail follows an idealistic small-town preacher (Radcliffe) who teams up with a wanted outlaw (Buscemi) and an adventurous prairie wife (Viswanathan) to lead a wagon train west on the Oregon Trail across an American landscape which, much like today, is fraught with both promise and peril.”
Not watching for the rest of SEASON 2 or further; RENEWED for SEASON 4
Bridgerton Netflix (RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4 and getting a spinoff)
Other than the unrealistic diversity in upper-crust London in the early 1800s, there is nothing we liked about Bridgerton. It was sad, boring, insipid, pointless prattling about debutantes and marriage prospects, with community backbiting, attempted rape, silliness, desertion of underclass sex partners, overbearing adults controlling females while letting males run roughshod over them.
Pathetic, if accurate, with millions of money WASTED on costumes and sets, a huge cast (all unmasked??) doing complicated and elongated dance sequences….
Why, Shonda Rhimes ????
The spinoff, coming in 2022, promises to be “an all-new limited series based on the origins of Queen Charlotte —the reimagined and beloved character who captivated 82 Million households around the world in Season 1. While the series will center on the rise and love life of a young Queen Charlotte, it will also tell the stories of young Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury. Shonda Rhimes will write the series and serve as executive producer alongside Betsy Beers and Tom Verica.”
Off our list; insipid but gorgeous; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4
La Brea NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
This is TERRIBLE. Don’t bother.
Filmed in Australia as LA, a disaster series that I predict won’t survive. A sinkhole. Problems. LA. Hmmm.
This sinkhole wreaks havoc, “separating mother and son from father and daughter. Part of the family finds itself in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers. They must work to survive and uncover the mystery of where they are and if there is a way back home.”
Starring: Natalie Zea, Eoin Macken, Jon Seda, Nicholas Gonzalez, Chiké Okonkwo, Karina Logue, Zyra Gorecki, Jack Martin, Veronica St. Clair, Rohan Mirchandaney, Lily Santiago, Josh McKenzie and Chloe De Los Santos.
Thor Freudenthal “is directing the pilot and several more episodes”: see? Even HE thinks it won’t survive itself!
AWFUL. Don’t bother! RENEWED for SEASON 3
*God’s Favorite Idiot Netflix (released 6/15/22 )
It’s not at all funny, so good thing there is no laugh track. Very bad script and awful acting. Too bad.
“Clark Thompson (Ben Falcone) is a mid-level tech support employee, who takes saunas with his dad, Gene (Kevin Dunn), pines after his co-worker Amily (Melissa McCarthy), and loves his cats. When he starts to glow, he begins to realize this isn’t an average day at the office and God has bigger plans for him. Clark can’t save [hu]mankind by himself, he must gather his flock of mismatched co-workers, his longtime crush Amily and angelic allies to outwit Satan herself (Leslie Bibb). Together, they’re just a bunch of average humans coming together for the greater good because, after all, you can’t save the world alone.”
Also starring: Usman Ally, Steve Mallory, Chris Sandiford, Ana Scotney, and Yanic Truesdale.
We HATED this
A League of Their Own Amazon (6 Episodes; released 8/12/22)
Series developed by and starring Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), co-created by Will Graham (Mozart in the Jungle) for BBC Two and then, Amazon with Sony Pictures Television.
Not planning on reviving the WW II film plot or cast, exactly, is a VAST understatement. They’ve inserted completely new characters and versions of the previous characters: except for the premise and title, UNRECOGNIZABLE.
It is HORRIBLE: none of the same types of situations, characters, or verisimilitude as the film.
Very boring, too many irrelevant subplots, and not enough baseball, either. Anachronisms abound, too.
YUCK. If you’re not going to use the original, why use the title at all? Couldn’t even bear to watch through 3 Episodes: 3 strikes, we’re OUT!
Also starring: Chanté Adams as Max, D’Arcy Carden as Greta, Gbemisola Ikumelo as Clance, Roberta Colindrez as Lupe, Nick Offerman as Dove, Saidah Arrika Ekulona as Toni, Kate Berlant as Shirley, Kendall Johnson as Gary, Kelly McCormack as Jess, Alex Désert as Edgar, Priscilla Delgado as Esti, Aaron Jennings as Guy, Molly Ephraim as Maybelle, Melanie Field as Jo, Dale Dickey as Beverly.
If it’s not too stereotyped, could be good. We were mad when they canceled Pitch.
STATUS UNCERTAIN/LIMBO (as of 11/11/22)
Young Frankenstein Live! ABC (no premiere date, yet; near Halloween, 2022?)
“Based on the 2007 Broadway musical adaptation of [Mel] Brooks and [the late] Gene Wilder‘s 1974 film, Young Frankenstein Live! will feature Brooks‘ original music and lyrics from the stage show. A comedic re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic, Frankenstein, the musical follows Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, as he inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his deranged genius grandfather. He now faces a dilemma: does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments? The Broadway musical, Young Frankenstein, featuring a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, debuted on Broadway on November 8, 2007 and continued through January 4, 2009.”
Trailer here: https://www.broadway.com/buzz/198044/young-frankenstein-live-is-abcs-next-tv-musical-event/
No cast announced, yet (11/11/22).
Luther Amazon (6 SEASONS; free on Prime through SEASON 6 as of mid-2020; CANCELED for SEASON 7; FILM planned for 2022-23?, though!)
Idris Elba is excellent as the lead DCI Luther. Police stories in England starting in 2009-10-ish which veer into the violent, gangster, serial killer areas more than we like, but the writing and characters are interesting, so we are continuing. Also starring /featuring many BBC actors we like and recognize in recurring and guest star roles, so that’s fun.
Dark and violent, but interesting; CANCELED for SEASON 7, except for a film
The Brokenwood Mysteries Acorn; DVDs for us (5 SEASONS released; premieres on OVATION in July, 2021, starting with SEASON 1; returned to ACORN 1/6/20 for SEASON 6; returned to ACORN in early April, 2021, for SEASON 7)
Another very well-written and -acted UK detective series. This one is set in New Zealand, which is new, for us. Reminds us very much of the BBC‘s beloved Midsomer Murders.
Starring: Neill Rea as Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd, Fern Sutherland as Detective Kristin Sims, Pana Hema Taylor as Jared Morehu, Shepherd’s Maori neighbour, Nic Sampson as Detective Constable Sam Breen and Cristina Ionda as a very dry-witted Dr. Gina Kadinsky, medical examiner.
We really like this; RENEWED for SEASON 7
Pine Gap Netflix (6 Episodes released 12/7/18; RENEWED for SEASON 2 but no premiere date, as of 11/11/22)
Very interesting, We were intrigued, although not all subplots seemed necessary… Until the end of SEASON 1, which had some upsets and surprises. We hope there is a SEASON 2, because a lot was not explained!.
Created by Felicity Packard and Greg Haddrick, directed by Matt King.
“At top-secret U.S.-Australian joint defense facility, Pine Gap, fissures appear in the critical alliance as spies work with, and against, each other.”
Having watched Secret City, this seems a logical next series.
Starring: Parker Sawyers, Jacqueline McKenzie, Steve Toussaint, Tess Haubrich, Stephen Curry, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Mark Leonard Winter
We liked it; RENEWED for SEASON 2