The Best-Reviewed Women-Directed Films of 2016, According to Rotten Tomatoes
“The Friday TV Report” 19, first one of 2017, from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom
I (Sally) update this ongoing mini-reviews of certain TV and Netflix shows with our opinions (began in fall, 2015). Check on Fridays!
This is the nineteenth post, for 6 weeks ending 1/13/17. I have the updated (as of 1/10/17) CANCELLED, RENEWED, “ON THE BUBBLE” SHOWS, which can be found here in its entirety (many shows we do not watch, there): http://renewcanceltv.com/
For the shows we watch, I put each one’s status beneath its review or listing.
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 last fall.
My mom, 84, and I (62) 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 for about two years, now. 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 (doctoral degree plus other training); my mom has extensive work-experience, with a high school diploma.
My mom has been a TV watcher for over 60 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.”
We also occasionally watch TV shows and movies on Netflix!
However, we are consistently disappointed that many shows we do like are cancelled and some shows we despise seem to go on forever.
AND: “Why do none of these bakers ever wear a baker’s hat or a hairnet? Their hair is all over the food. Disgusting!” says my mom.
ALSO: “Why is it always so dark in all these shows? I can’t see a thing. What is the point?” We both say this.
Again, for mid-January, 2017, I/we continue with this Report.
We don’t watch: most “sit-coms,” any zombies or vampires, reality shows (except one on BBC), extremely violent shows, premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz), most YA/”teen” shows.
Keep up with the changes! http://renewcanceltv.com/renewed-tv-shows-2017-18-season-list/ and the 2017 winter/spring schedule: http://deadline.com/2016/12/midseason-tv-premiere-dates-2017-new-returning-shows-list-1201853377/
Fall TV + Netflix, 2016 – 2017
Our planned evening viewing line-up for shows (updated frequently) is as follows, sort of in calendar order, BUT, those I’ve already reviewed get “bumped” to the bottom of this post.
Scroll down if you don’t see a show “on top” that you want to read my review of (because they’re so insightful!).
NOTE: Our viewing “schedule” includes a lot of recording-and-watching-later, due to simultaneous broadcasts, CARDINALS‘ BASEBALL! and my early bedtime.
**usually only Mom watches
*usually only I watch
New /Returning Cable, Public & Network TV Shows
Link to the current schedule (as of 1/13/17): http://www.thefutoncritic.com/guide/winter-2017-grid/ for scheduling for 2017.
Sherlock BBC (Season 5 returned January 1, 2017, for 3 more episodes, but ? —some problem with seeing it on our schedule, here)
Yippee! Yahoo! Best BBC return-to-season EVER! Fabulous reunions and loved the Season 4 “premise” (No spoilers, here). How great is Benedict Cumberbatch? And, Martin Freeman!
Also, great mystery to be solved.
Not liking the addiction story line in this or Elementary‘s Sherlock (or any show, for that matter), but I guess it is part of the Sherlock character.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 5
Another series, The ‘A’ Word, seemed to cover this same ground (raising a disabled or atypical child) and we didn’t like it at all, so we gave this one a pass last fall. However, Minnie Driver is always great and I gave it a try when I found out it was renewed for Season 2. I’m sorry I’m late to this sit-com party. I started watching this month via ABC On Demand, from the beginning).
The first 2 episodes were so delightful that I put it on our “record” list. I am going to try to get Mom to watch (although she doesn’t like sit-coms, usually, because she liked The Red Band Society and she likes The Good Place, she might like this: it sort of combines them both, humorously).
I appreciate the spot-on jokes at the expense of the do-gooders—white liberals and somewhat clueless—the Principal, played perfectly by Marin Hinkle , who is excellent in many other shows I’ve watched, and one of J.J. DeMeo’s teachers, played fabulously by the always-funny Rob Corddry.
(Micah Fowler, who was great in Labor Day, is amazing as the main character, J.J. DeMeo, who has something like cerebral palsy (but they don’t say exactly what in the early episodes) and a great sense of humor, who is a budding adolescent who needs to individuate, big time. He is helped admirably by Cedric Yarbrough as his African-American personal Aide, which allows the writers to poke at racism and biases. The siblings (played well by Mason Cook (cast in many shows, including The Night Shift and Grey’s Anatomy, and Kyla Kenedy, also on The Night Shift) and the dad (also played well by John Ross Bowie, round out cast and bring the plot into areas that aren’t always about having a disabled family member, which is great.
EXCELLENT and KEEPING; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Despite the inclusion of the ever-talented and great Queen Latifah, this show is a poor imitation of both Empire and a more hip-hop-focused Glee with The Fosters thrown in for who-knows-what-reason. The plot is cliched (which explains both Lenny Kravitz and Benjamin Bratt‘s roles), boring and not credible. The singing is lip-synched, the choreography is uninspired and overly sexualized (especially for a teen rape survivor), and the main characters (Jude Demorest. Ryan Destiny. Brittany O’Grady) aren’t that talented as singers, actors or dancers. Since I suppose this was cast by having thousands of teens and young women audition, that’s very disappointing.
The (by now) required trans and drag characters are also absurd and stereotyped. The strip club as venue is (by now) overdone.
And, really? Another hair salon for the Queen? Please.
DROPPING after one episode and not making Mom watch at all
Bones Fox (returns 1/3/17 for final season 😦 )
Sorry to see this show end! However, the return plot in this final season was a bit too creepy for me. Weird to see the actor who played Zack (Eric Millegan) back with an additional 50+ pounds that no one comments upon. If a woman actor had gained that much weight between appearances, there would have been nothing but comments on her weight. Just trying to balance the scales.
Anyway, glad Bones is back, but sad it’s leaving.
Keeping for FINAL SEASON
**Emerald City NBC (1/6/17 starts)
Too dark and too violent for me/us, and we only watched about 20 minutes.
*Being Mary Jane BET (returned 1/10/17)
Strange return to new season, for Episode 1 of this year. Usually, excellent writing, sensitive topics [alcoholism, child abuse/molestation, suicide, disfigurement/physical “beauty”/ageism for women (particularly Black women), extortion, drug addiction, dysfunctional parenting, loyalty among friends (or not)], all very well-handled. Great music choices, also. Not off to a great start, but I’ll try a few more episodes.
Mary Jane’s character (played even better, now, by Gabrielle Union) is getting some chutzpah (FINALLY) and growing up (ALSO OVERDUE). Supporting characters (Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Stephen Bishop, Richard Roundtree, Raven Goodwin) are getting more to do, which is great.
Glad to see Loretta Devine on this show, even though her character is so delightfully SCUMMY.
KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5
Taboo (premiers 1/10/17 and runs as a miniseries only) FX
An eight-episode series set in 1814. Really dark, awful production values, very gruesomely realistic. After almost 30 minutes, still did not get the point, except that the brother-sister love affair is not obvious, yet. So what? Boring.
OFF OUR LIST
LATER RETURNS (not yet reviewed/watched as of 1/13/17)
Colony (returned 1/12/17)
We were very confused and a bit impatient with the way this series’ pilot throws viewers into the middle of an alternate Earth near-future without sufficient explanations. However, we kept watching and did enjoy the pilot, despite our bewilderment.
We liked seeing Josh Holloway, since we liked him so much in the all-too-soon-cancelled Intelligence, and Amanda Righetti, from The Mentalist, which we loved.
But, we never watched Lost, The Walking Dead or Hercules, so the others are new to us, except for Peter Jacobsen, from House and Madam Secretary, and Paul Guilfoyle, from CSI.
Luckily, I had taped the “Colony: Behind the Wall” show, which we watched after we saw the pilot. That was excellent, because it explained a LOT. We also got to see how and why they established some of the special effects and sets for this series. We are now looking forward to seeing the subsequent episodes.
Without giving away too much. we appreciated the parallels the producers/creators are deliberately creating between Nazi-occupied Paris and a hypothetically occupied Los Angeles, asking us all (and all the characters are also asking themselves and each other): what would you do? Would you be a collaborator or a resister? Are you a pragmatist/selfish/greedy “winner,” or are you trying to keep going with “normal” life while wresting control from the occupiers and collaborators as you do? What lengths would you go to and what risks would you be willing to take under these circumstances?
Excellent questions and cool concepts.
You can go to the series’ website and choose your side and see what you get into there! http://www.colonytv.com/
Keeping this one.
Scandal ABC (returns 1/19/17)
Please explain to us why the obviously psychotic and possibly amnesiac ex-Vice-President, Sally, gets to mouth off as if she is occupying some moral high ground when she murdered her own husband? Did everyone else forget that, too?
Plan to keep watching, but where is this going?
Suits USA (1/25/17 returns)
Michael (played well by Patrick J. Adams), is out of prison. Rachel, played well by Meghan Markle (but still dressed inappropriately vampy), is still often too whiny, juvenile and ridiculous (and repetitive). Sarah Rafferty as the impossibly perfect Donna and Gabriel Macht as the complicated Harvey still have the greatest tension and lines (and their characters are decades-long friends, which shows) but not much to do. Gina Torres is OFF the show for this last season, apparently, as Jessica. Louis is still the most richly drawn and has the most fun stuff to do, and all done very well by Rick Hoffman. They make Mike a complete idiot, though, and he’s supposed to be a genius, though?
SEASON 7 RENEWED and Mike is out of prison
*The Magicians (returns 1/25/17) SyFy
Don’t know how I missed this last year, but catching up, now, and liking it enough to keep going. Kind of trite, but interesting. Liking Anna Dudek in the headmistress role.
KEEPING and TBD for SEASON 3
*Powerless (premiers 2/2/17) NBC
“The first sitcom series set within the world of the DC Universe.”
I’ll try this one alone; Mom is not big on sit-coms.
APB (premiers 2/6/17) Fox
“After witnessing a violent crime, a tech billionaire purchases a troubled police precinct.”
We’ll give it a whirl.
Humans AMC (returns 2/13/17)
Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Lucy Carless We really like this show and welcome it back. Very creative, raising important social issue about who/what is “human” and what is not, and well-acted.
*Doubt CBS (premier 2/15/17)
Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Dulé Hill (Psych), Dreama Walker (Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23), Elliott Gould (Ray Donovan), Kobi Libii (Alpha House)
Definitely trying this one, myself
The Good Fight (premier 2/19/17) CBS, then only CBS “All Access,” for subscribers
Spin-off of The Good Wife, includes Christine Baranski reprising her role as Diane Lockhart and Cush Jumbo as Lucca), as well as Rose Leslie, Delroy Lindo, Sarah Steele, Paul Guilfoyle, Bernadette Peters, Justin Bartha and Erica Tazel. I guess we’ll watch it when it’s available elsewhere, some day, but Episode 1 is on regular CBS (just to tease us all).
WE WON’T PAY EXTRA TO WATCH THIS, but will watch first free Episode
**The Blacklist: Redemption NBC (Premier 2/23/17)
Ryan Eggold, Edi Gathegi, Famke Janssen |
**Chicago Justice NBC (premier 3/5/17)
Shaky choices for casting, here: Philip Winchester (The Player), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Joelle Carter (Justified), Nazneen Contractor (Heroes Reborn), Ryan-James Hatanaka. Mom watches the entire Chicago sector of shows, so she’ll add this one.
Little Big Shots NBC (returns 3/5/17)
This show is very fun and showcases some amazingly talented/skilled youngsters, but I recommend recording it to fast-forward through some of the acts that are not so interesting to you (everyone is different, after all). We like the singing, dancing and some of the oddities, but not martial arts or simply cute. Steve Harvey is great interacting with these kids.
Now that STEVE HARVEY has publicly supported Trump, OFF OUR LIST
Star Trek: Discovery also on CBS All Access for subscribers, only, but first episode also on CBS (May, 2017)
WE WON’T PAY EXTRA TO WATCH THIS, but will watch first free Episode
*Making History Fox (Spring premier)
Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Yassir Lester (The Carmichael Show)
Another one I’ll vet, first, and may stay solo on.
**Great News NBC (Spring premier)
Briga Heelan (Undateable), Andrea Martin (Difficult People), Adam Campbell (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Mixology), Kimrie Lewis-Davis (Scandal), Nicole Richie (Chuck), John Michael Higgins (Wilfred), Horatio Sanz (SNL)
Probably too silly… for me, but Mom likes SNL, for odd reasons
*Time after Time ABC (Spring premier)
Freddie Stroma (UnREAL), Josh Bowman (Revenge), Regina Taylor (Dig, The Unit), Genesis Rodriguez (Entourage), Nicole Ari Parker (Soul Food), recurring player, Jordin Sparks (American Idol)
Another one I’ll vet, alone.
*Imaginary Mary ABC (Spring premier)
Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg, Growing Up Fisher), Stephen Schneider (You’re the Worst), Nicholas Coombe (iZombie), Matreya Scarrwener (Canada’s Detective McLean: Ties That Bind), Jillian Bell (Eastbound & Down), Erica Tremblay and the voice of SNL vet Rachel Dratch
*Shots Fired Fox (Spring premier)
Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball), Helen Hunt (Mad About You), Richard Dreyfuss (Madoff), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Stephan James (Selma), Aisha Hinds (Under the Dome), Tristan Wilds (90210), DeWanda Wise
*The Americans TNT (returns Spring, 2017)
I like this show, but the content is quite disturbing, for sure. The morality, ethics, honesty and deception issues are quite seriously depicted, there is a lot of violence (which I don’t like), and people are very screwed up, on all sides. Multiple complexities and grey areas are not shied away from, and they include many key events/issues from the USA’s 1980s: bravo to the writers, actors, director, fact-checkers/researchers!
I hate to read subtitles, but having the Russians speak Russian adds verisimilitude, for sure.
Both Matt Rhys (Phillip) and Keri Russell (Elizabeth) give nuanced, fascinating performances, especially when interacting with their now-“read-in” daughter, adolescent Paige (played admirably by Holly Taylor).
Remarkable performances also by the great Frank Langella, with key moments played by Callie Thorne, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, Lev Gorn make/made this a show well-worth watching. So do Keri Russell‘s and Matthew Rhys‘ real-life romance and child together!
Frank Langella gave such a moving speech when he won a Tony (June, 2016) for best actor, referencing Orlando and gay rights, support for diversity and for all, etc., that it gives me a new perspective on him for his role in this show.
Cringing, but KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASONS 5 & 6
Orphan Black BBC (returns Spring, 2017)
Tatiana Maslany is amazing. She deserves every acting award, ever.
If you haven’t seen this show and love great acting, tune in (but it does get quite gruesome and violent, sometimes; I close my eyes). Got Mom into it kind of late, but she likes it. Tatiana really is fascinating.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 5 (FINAL)
*The Catch (returns Spring, 2017?)
Gina Torres (Suits) and T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy) are joining Season 2! We love the twists and intrigue. Mireille Enos (who bears an uncanny resemblance in voice, appearance and style to Ellen Pompeo of Grey’s Anatomy; guess producer/creator Shonda Rhymes has a “type”!), Peter Krause (a very different role from the geeky dad/husband in Parenthood!), Alimi Ballard (loved him in Numb3rs), Jay Hayden, who was unfamiliar to me as are Rose Rollins, Jacky Ido and Elvy Yost, comprise a strong cast.
Good to see Sonya Walger in another evil beauty role: she’s so good in these!
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 2; SEASON 3 TBD
Stitchers FreeForm (returns Spring, 2017)
My mom and I found Stitchers in the spring of 2015. Because it’s on ABC-Family, now FreeForm, all the violence is low-key and mostly off-camera (yeah!), while the characters and plot are much better than on “adult” stations.
Devolves a bit too often into soap opera, with too much post-adolescent angst and horrible choices made by the youngish cast of characters, but interesting.
Take a hint, “adult” stations: this is what TV should be like!
KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASON 3
May have been cancelled before airing:
Miranda’s Rights NBC (cancelled)
Monique Coleman, Noel Fisher, Daniel Boileau, Rebecca Breeds
Broken ABC (from BBC) (may be picked up, but probably not)
with Sean Bean in lead role.
Drew (may be picked up, but probably not)
Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest and Pitch) as a grown-up Nancy Drew.
Previously Reviewed/Returned and New Shows, Updated for 1/13/17
Conviction (returned for only season’s Episodes 1/1/17)
CANCELLED after this spring; Too bad: we LOVED this show!
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (returned with Christmas Special, 2016, then Episodes resume in Spring, 2017)
Erin Krakow is great as the lead character, Elizabeth Thatcher, a rich young woman who leaves her safe, city family life to become a Canadian prairie teacher in a one-room school house, with an adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest. Yes; hers is one of my alternate reality jobs.
Lori Loughlin is cast as her typically maternal and saccharine character but she does play the best friend/ cafe owner/ widow/ adoptive mother/ landlady well. 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 Cat Montgomery, played well by Chelah Horsdal.
The show is very sappy, predictable, silly and overly sentimental, with many stereotypes and tropes, but I still watch.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 4
*Call the Midwife PBS (12/25/16 Special 2-hour episode; 4/2/17 returns)
Resumed with a Christmas special set mostly in South Africa in the 1960s, which was fascinating and heartbreaking, both. Great photography, stories and chracters, as usual. To be followed by an 8-episode run for Season 6 in the USA starting in April, 2017; same pattern for 3 more years, Seasons 7, 8, 9.
KEEPING and RENEWED for 3 MORE YEARS! http://renewcanceltv.com/call-midwife-renewed-series-9-bbc-one/
Designated Survivor ABC (returns 3/8/17)
Strong start to a very scary and realistically drawn scenario in which everyone at the State of the Union address is murdered by a bombing of the Capitol’s Congressional Assembly building (where it is always held) and only one Cabinet member (the “Designated Survivor”) remains and is now made the President. Kiefer Sutherland and Natascha McElhone are excellent as the HUD Secretary and his attorney wife, with creative and poignant scenes between them, their children, and others as everyone grapples with this tremendous tragedy and changes wrought by it.
Great to see Kal Penn (the only actor with actual White House experience IRL!), Maggie Q and Italia Ricci in supporting roles.
KEEPING and PICKED UP for FULL SEASON 1 and SEASON 2 ordered
The Librarians TNT (11/20/16 returned)
Fun and satisfying, sometimes, but getting much sillier and not so interesting, this year.
Excellent special effects and well-drawn characters, even the villains.
Don’t quite believe the romance between Noah Wylie‘s nerdy scholar and Elizabeth Romijin‘s former Secret Service ninja (Noah wishes…), but it’s all light and fun.
Miss Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain; John Larroquette just doesn’t have what they have.
John Harlan Kim, Lindy Booth, and Christian Kane round out the “regulars.”
image from http://www.tvline.com
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 3
The Match Game ABC (started summer, 2016; returned 1/3/17)
My mom and I are old enough to have watched the original version of this game show and since we liked some of the principles and the promised celebrities, we gave it a try. We watched two entire episodes, which consisted of 4 segments (both segments have the same celebrities but two new contestants for each of of the two segments in each hour-long show). Rosie O’Donnell (who seems to be having a great time and is the contestants’ favorite, so far) and one or two others were on all four segments; the rest rotated. My mom and I were only familiar with 3 or 4 of the 6 celebrities, plus the show’s host, Alec Baldwin, each time.
We aren’t prudish (I especially am not, being a hippie and all), but we were shocked at how lewd, graphic and sexually focused the clues, responses, jokes and reactions were. A lot of the bits are improvised (supposedly), but none of their remarks was censored (self- or network-) or even attempted to be made more family-oriented.
I expressed my surprise at its bold raunchiness and my mom replied: “Well, it is on at 9 PM Central time…,” shaking her head.
So, fair warning. Some of it was funny, most of it was silly, and it’s all in “good” fun (if you’re into that base type of humor).
Still watching, but totally ridiculous.
Nashville (now on CMT) (1/5/17 returned, but some character-driven clip shows/”specials” airing in December, 2016, and first episode aired in mid-December as well, on CMT)
Also, reruns on AXS for first 3 seasons, continuously, and restarting in December, 2016.
Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere First episode of new season was a very upsetting one, especially for Hayden Panettiere’s character. That woman can’t get a break! Good singing/guitar playing by the teen Stella sisters, Lennon and Maisey (so talented), and a brief song, not done very well (on purpose, I think) by Connie Britton’s character and a bit from some “unknown” elderly man. Almost nothing from Deacon Clayborn (played by Charles Esten), musically.
The new season was supposed to bring in more MUSIC and less soap opera, but so far, NOT. Very disappointing. There was only one song in Episode 1, one in Episode 2, and NONE in Episode 3 worth our time (my mom only watches for the songs).
KEEPING, but not liking it, much
“The Great American Baking Show stars some of the nation’s best amateur bakers as they compete in a series of themed challenges and eliminations all hoping to be crowned Holiday Baking Champion. For four weeks, James Beard Award-Winning pastry chef and author, Johnny Iuzzini, joins England’s “Royal Queen of Baking,” author and television personality, Mary Berry, as they judge the decadent and delicious holiday fare these bakers create as they throw down their best culinary skills.”
Fascinating for my mom and me, who are NOT bakers, since a lot is explained both for how to create good and how the mistakes are made for bad “bakes.” Everything can go wrong, especially during the “Technical” bakes, whose recipes are extrapolated from very skimpy instructions (deliberately vague) from one of the two judges each week. Disasters occur from bakers’ forgetting to turn on or check the oven temperature, to mistakenly using salt instead of sugar, to neglecting to allow enough time to accomplish it all, to using ingredients/proportions of ingredients that are too weakly or strongly flavored or getting the dough too wet. “Crisp” and having a “good bake” are big on this show.
We like the artists’ renditions in sketch books of each participant’s planned creation for the final segment each week, the contestants’ “Show-Stoppers.” They obviously have weeks to concoct and practice prior to the contest date, and it shows.
What we also like are the camaraderie among the announcers and judges and how respectful the judges are to each contestant and they to one another. None of that “reality show” staged back-biting and fighting here (if there were, we’d turn it off). They give a bit of bio and film scenes at their homes and/or day jobs for each of the semi-finalists and finalists, which we look forward to seeing.
This is only reality show we watch because the baking concoctions and watching the bakers create them are fascinating, always unusual and new to us, informationally. Many funny moments, but not at any baker’s expense, usually, which we like.
Plus, none of the competitors is actually a professional baker: a student; one makes satellites; a retired teacher; one also paints. So interesting that these individuals chose to compete in this way.
Watch for its last Episodes on BBC with the original judges, Mary and Paul, and the original hosts, Mel and Sue (all but Paul are not continuing) for the last Christmas British Bake-Off at the end of 2016.
The Great British, now, The Great American Baking Show (was BBC, but moved to ABC on 12/1/16) The new show is hosted by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and husband, Ian Gomez (Felicity, Cougar Town, Supergirl).
RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. CHANGED BROADCAST STATIONS and HOSTS after SEASON 7 (no longer BBC)
All the “old” episodes are on Netflix, BTW.
Want to know more about British TV and those who star(starred) in its shows for 2017? http://renewcanceltv.com/great-british-bake-off-mrs-browns-boys-bbc-christmas-special-renewals/
HAMILTON on PBS
October special with interviews and clips from the show and others (including President Obama), all part of this presentation. Very fun, and for those who can’t get to a performance due to lack of proximity, funds, tickets, or all three, this is the closest we can get to Broadway! My mom and I dislike rap and hip-hop, but we LOVED this special about the show.
Also, the background of the ways Lin-Manuel Miranda (first HAMILTON lead and originator of all the songs, lyrics, book, ideas) and his creative team do the writing and visiting historic sites for accuracy provides a GREAT American history lesson, all containing facts and perspectives I have never heard (or don’t remember hearing).
This was part of a Friday night at the Arts series which includes a performance of GYPSY, Alvin Ailey’s dance troupe, Alan Cummings’ cabaret show and more. Check your local public television station’s schedule for re-broadcast dates or watch online.
Bill Murray was honored 10/23/16 at The Kennedy Center in New York City with The 19th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and it was broadcast on PBS. This special was great, featuring clips and/or live appearances by Steve Martin, Jane Curtain, Dan Aykroyd, Aziz Ansari, Roy Blount, Jr., Bill Hader, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, Miley Cyrus, Brian Doyle Murray, Paul Shaffer, Sigourney Weaver, and others. It gets re-broadcast frequently and you can also watch it online.
Past recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Carol Burnett, Jay Leno, and Eddie Murphy.
*Norman Lear was featured in Just Another Version of You PBS American Masters Series Premiered 10/25/16 and re-broadcasts often: check local listings or watch online. Very informative, moving, funny, poignant. Many great memories for me and my mom in this.http://pbs.org/americanmasters/
Entertaining! What a creative, courageous mensch Lear was!
*People of Earth TBS (10/31/16 Premier)
Wyatt Cenac investigates people who encounter aliens: How fun! Or, so I thought. Instead, this 1/2-hour sit com approach is insipid, trite, and boring, stealing from any and every previous TV, film, written and spoken version of these same stories. It is rife with stereotypes, one-liners as jokes or characters, and predictable situations, and that was just the pilot.
DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME; but, amazingly, this was RENEWED
*Good Behavior TNT (11/15/16 Premier; ended for this season in January, 2017)
Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) is amazing in this new series based on the Blake Crouch stories surrounding Letty Dobesh (an American ex-con con artist), “in a near future where corporations have unlimited power,” like, NOW…. I watched the preview by myself, not sure if Mom would like it. Still not sure, but she says she’ll probably give it a try. A lot of violence, drug use and pathetic people are not what either of us wants to watch. However, we are somewhat interested in con games and this may prove to be more interesting than violent. Juan Diego Botto plays a complicated love interest for Letty. Very interesting dynamic between them.
I like this show, but it’s DARK; RENEWED for more Episodes in 2017
No Tomorrow CW (10/4/16 Premier)
This new dramedy “follows the blossoming relationship between Evie (Tori Anderson), a buttoned-up quality control assessor, and Xavier (Joshua Sasse), a charming (and hot) hipster who encourages her to seize the day—–because he believes the world is ending in a little more than eight months.” In the pilot, we don’t yet meet Jenna Dewan-Tatum, who “plays Tuesday, a bohemian free spirit whose polyamorous lifestyle leads Xavier and Evie to examine the boundaries of their own relationship.” Not sure why they need her and may not like that aspect.
We watched the Pilot and were mildly entertained and intrigued, but the characters are somewhat cartoonish and two-dimensional as are the situations, so we are skeptical. Maybe this show will find its footing and make up its mind whether it aspires to be a romantic comedy of higher quality or to stay more buffoonish. If the latter, we’re out.
It did get too juvenile. Didn’t even finish Episode 2.
OFF OUR LIST
**, then *Frequency CW (returned 1/4/17)
Peyton List(The Flash, The Tomorrow People) is great in the pilot and we are definitely continuing this one. BUT, who else is completely creeped out about List’s playing both the adult daughter and adult mother role (her own mother)? I was mildly intrigued and slightly nervous, at first, but now they’re kissing and in bed after sex and it’s GROSS. Right?
Also, there are many logical fallacies and sci-fi no-no’s, so we’re intrigued how they’re going to manage all that. Riley Smith (Nashville), Mekhi Phifer (ER), Lenny Jacobson (Nurse Jackie), Anthony Ruivivar (Banshee, American Horror Story), Devin Kelley (Resurrection), Daniel Bonjour (The Walking Dead) and others show up regularly, and we like some of them a lot.
The Dennis Quaid movie (of the same title and premises) was much briefer (of course), so we’re curious as to how the writers are going to drag this out over a series, especially when the “facts” seem to be moving targets across time. Is her mother going to stay dead or alive? What about her father? Does she or doesn’t she have an almost-fiancè? Who/what else “shifts” when “past” events change?
Some of these questions are getting answered, but my mom kept falling asleep all fall and stopped watching about mid-fall. I’m still with it, but mostly disgusted. They just used a much-cliched trope (the T-bone car accident) to show why yet another attempt at catching/killing this serial killer is probably derailed in one or the other timelines.
My mom stopped watching about mid-fall
Timeless NBC (1/16/17 returns)
We really LOVE this show. The writing is strong, the characters are interesting, and the twists (due to time travel, of course, and junk science…) are fascinating. We also LOVE Abigail Spencer (Rectify, Suits). We are enjoying Matt Lanter (90210), Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers), and Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), who are new to us. We also appreciate the returns of Goran Visnjic (ER) and Claudia Doumit (Scandal) from previous shows we like, and I’ve seen and liked Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards).
The Good Place NBC (returned 1/5/17)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Ted Danson (CSI: Cyber), Manny Jacinto (The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story), William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden
Probably too silly, but…I do love Kristen Bell!
We watched the first two Episodes, since they were aired back-to-back. Reminded me very much of Pushing Daisies in its production values (lots of bright, primary colors and over-the-top fakery) and premises/characters (bold, farcical, sterotypical), with some of many other films/TV shows (Dead Like Me, Defending Your Life) that are quirky and about the afterlife/death. It was somewhat entertaining and amusing, but I think it will get old fast. Doubt if it will be renewed since it is basically a one-joke show.
May watch until it’s cancelled.
This is Us NBC (1/10/17 returns)
Mandy Moore (Red Band Society), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes and Gilmore Girls), Justin Hartley (Revenge), Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson), Chrissy Metz (American Horror Story), Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie), Chris Sullivan (The Knick), Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot)
We were very surprised by the quality of the acting, story’s twists and turns and unexpected pathos in the first Episode and look forward to more.
Milo Ventimiglia was amazing and so was Sterling K. Brown (from my home town, Olivette, in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA!), in very emotionally demanding roles. Always like Mandy Moore, and were pleased with two new actors for us, Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson. Alan Thicke had a funny cameo and we loved Justin Hartley’s scenes as well. Even liked the ubiquitous Gerald McRaney in a key role in the pilot, especially his scene with Milo. Great writing and acting, here.
KEEPING and PICKED UP for FULL SEASON 1
Major Crimes TNT (2/22/17 returns)
Excellent show. It’s back again 2016, summer, strong as ever.
However, we find the “romance” between Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) and Lt. Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), to be completely unbelievable. No chemistry at all!
With Michael Paul Chan, G.W. Bailey, Raymond Cruz, Graham Patrick Martin, Robert Gossett, Phillip P. Keene, Jon Tenney and many others from its predecessor, The Closer, which we loved.
Pure Genius CBS (returned 1/1/17, but after this season, CANCELLED; too bad)
We LOVE this show, but we think it was cancelled due to most people’s not being smart enough to understand it.
Bull CBS (1/3/17 returned)
Great cast: Michael Weatherly (NCIS), Freddy Rodriguez (The Night Shift), Geneva Carr (Law & Order: SVU), Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Hamilton), Jaime Lee Kirchner (Mercy), Annabelle Attanasio
LOVE this show, even though it’s often complicated and convoluted, and with surprisingly little dialogue from Michael Weatherly, even though he is the star and a pivotal character (and the main draw, for us, as long-time NCIS fans). Very good writing and acting all around, with the “good guys” usually prevailing. We like that. Lie to Me did some of this much better, though. We like the way they’re bringing in more from each of the main characters’ pasts by having them take cases of ex-lovers, siblings, etc.
KEEPING, and PICKED UP for FULL SEASON 1
Elementary CBS (1/8/17 returned)
We both like this show a lot even though it’s very difficult for us to understand some of the dialogue or to understand Sherlock because of the show’s poor audio quality and his rapid-fire speech in a British accent.
Great to see Lucy Liu, Johnny Lee Miller, John Michael Hill and Aidan Quinn back again.
Keeping but no 6th season on CBS–CANCELLED for fall, 2017
Madam Secretary CBS (1/8/17 returned)
GREAT SHOW! But how can it keep its title if she’s now VP? After the pilot, we’re not sure how they’re going to dig out of it, but we’re staying hooked! LOVE Tea Leoni and Tim Daly, and the “kids” are still great as are the others.
Scorpion CBS (1/2/17 returned)
Could be that this show, like so many, is becoming a bit too formulaic, a caricature of itself. This season’s Episodes had a few too many “Oh, one of the bizarre genius’ amazing ideas, number four, didn’t work, so we’re going to die” moments.
Why does Katherine McPhee almost never sing in this show? She has a spectacular voice. What a waste.
Watched all Episodes. Started putting a quarter in for every crisis. Topped out at $3.00 for one Episode!
BUT the double-Episode season Opener for 2016 broke the bank! While we weren’t laughing so much as frightened (VERY realistic…) and disgusted (why do the writers make most of the team behave like rotten middle-schoolers?), we will keep it on our list.
Interested to see where it will go now that Scott Porter is leaving and that may free up Paige (Katherine McPhee) to pay attention to Walter.
Predictable but interesting. Good for laughs. Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 3
Supergirl (1/23/17 returns) CW
Maybe they’ll allow her to become an adult this year…?
Well, sort of. Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and her boss, Cat (written and played better this year by Calista Flockhart), have some important conversations about her growing up, choosing a career path (as Kara), and being more decisive in the opening episode for this season.
However, bringing in her “younger” cousin, Superman (why is he a “man” but she is a “girl,” DC???), and his announcing he’s going to “stick around for a while” muddies the maturity and “who’s in charge?” waters immensely. Then, the writers go and put her incipient romance with Jimmy (Mehcad Brooks) who is inexplicably “James” in this version of the story, so why can’t she be “Superwoman,” then?) on hold, indefinitely.
Cautiously keeping, but already disappointed
*Modern Family ABC (continues in 2017)
This season will include guest appearances by Nathan Fillion (LOVE him) and Martin Short (could do without him). Most of last season was tedious, so I may not watch much of this one; my mom doesn’t watch at all. We’ll see. I thought it had lost its sparkle and originality; storylines were repeating.
Also, the child acting as “Lily” (Aubrey Frances Anderson-Emmons) is AWFUL and very badly directed. Too bad. Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Reid Ewing co-star.
Watched pilot for fall, 2016, and it was as bad as expected. I did enjoy fast-forwarding to catch Nathan Fillion on a few episodes, but hated his role.
NOW so stupid that it’s OFF MY LIST
Blindspot (1/4/17 returned)
Now with with Archie Panjabi (Good Wife). Got very confusing, very dark, and now, completely off the rails (killing off two main characters). Why?
Still watching, but under duress; Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 3
Rosewood (1/6/17 returned; final season)
Refreshingly NOT CAUCASIAN, not all heterosexual (but not “camp,” either), not too serious version of “non-cop with special abilities working with police” dramedy. Morris Chestnut as “Rosie” and Jaina Lee Ortiz as Annalise Villa give surprisingly nuanced performances week after week, with strong writing to back them up, usually.
Strange casting for Anthony Michael Hall as a grumpy detective, but great to see him, again. Liking Lorraine Toussaint in her somewhat minor but obviously recurring role. Liking Rosie and his sister, Pippy Gabrielle Dennis, and their banter a lot.
Strong and NOT SCREWED UP lesbian relationships on prime time TV?!? Unprecedented! But, then, UPDATE at end of Season One: writers have gone off the rails with the unwarranted break-up of Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and Tara (Anna Konkle) and with their depiction of Annalise’s reaction to Rosie’s news about her husband’s murder.
Last season, we wondered: why do Villa’s Captain (Dominick Lombardozzi) and her mother (written and played very stereotypically by Lisa Vidal) have to get involved?
WTF? Ridiculous reactions and stupid situations result, starting with the unnecessary introduction of a recurring character, Mitchie Mendelson (vaguely anti-Semitic), brought in to “help” Rosie, written poorly, played by Sam Huntington.
Season Two was not looking good.
However, fall, 2016, had a strong start, with the addition of Tara’s singing, Villa and Rosie’s working together pushing through the bumps, Pippy’s bonding with Ms. Rosewood (mom of Rosie), and the new Captain, played strangely but well by Eddie Cibrian, and a good set of stories.
Yet, the producers/director decided not to let them be a couple AND they started dressing Villa more conservatively… On the skids, for sure.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 2 but CANCELLED for Season 3/strong>
Quantico (returns 1/23/17)
My mom and I liked Quantico for the first half or so. Then, it devolved, as so many do, into chases and violence and not much (else?) to commend it.
The premise was supposed to be that this is a show about a new cohort of recruits at the FBI federal training academy (Quantico) in the USA. Why didn’t they stick with that? Why did they think they needed a terrorist bombing/ “moles”/ multiple deceptions-based plot?
We know it’s an FBI show and we did expect some of the above. But, really, when more than a few minutes of every show is devoted to pursuit chases and macho posturing/inappropriate blame and shaming, we look at each other and say: “Not enough plot, eh?”
UPDATE in November: going back in forth in time from the cadets to the present is a good idea but not done well at all. Relying too much on different hairdos for the female characters and who’s having sex with whom to anchor the timeline (who cares?). Still watching, but not sure why. it’s worse and worse this fall.
Watched the entire year but hated the poor visibility and convoluted storylines; also, CANCELLED for Season 3, fall, 2017
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2/8/16 premiere; early September, 2016, returned but has re-runs sprinkled in…)
I loved Samantha Bee on The Daily Show and awaited her new individual show with great anticipation. I was not disappointed.
Bee was funny, insightful, appropriately outraged and very bold, extremely feminist and “in-your-face,” but since I agree with her POV, this all worked great, for me. I laughed out loud and sighed with relief at many of her “bits.”
Finally: a feminist’s POV delivered with wit and humor about this horrible election season! Yeah! And, more coming, I’m sure.
Strong return for Season 2, but I AM SO SICK OF TRUMP!
Definitely keeping and glad it was RENEWED for SEASON 2
NCIS New Orleans CBS (1/3/17 returned)
Good start to the new season last year (2015). Still liking this, especially Scott Bakula‘s character. Like the new character played by Shalita Grant (female, African-American, kind of snarky and good at her job).
Season 3 was off to a bang, but very sad to lose Zoe McLellan as Meredith Brody (and so was everyone else on the show, apparently). As of this posting, she’s not telling anyone, yet, as to why she left the show, but it was her decision.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 3
*Grey’s Anatomy ABC (1/19/17 returns)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo
Love the anti-homophobia storylines 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 season 11 (!?!), and I’m looking forward to more of this show this year, even though some key characters keep leaving/being asked to leave (no spoilers, here).
Keeping and SEASON 14 RENEWED
How to Get Away with Murder ABC (1/19/17 returns)
Glad Viola Davis won the Emmy. She deserved it. Good acting by her and many on this show is not enough to save it, though.
The writers of this show are a weird bunch, for sure.
The production values are so bad and the timeline jumping done so poorly that we have no idea what’s going on most of the time. Filming is too dark and cuts are too quick. Dialogue is not loud enough.
New season’s starter was no better than last season’s ending: violent, confusing, oddly written and strange all around.
Keeping but mostly hating; SEASON 4 RENEWED, unbelievably
Blue Bloods CBS (1/6/17 returned)
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.
Great acting and we love the characters.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 7
NCIS CBS (1/3/17 returned)
Definitely missing Michael Weatherby for 2016-17, and don’t know if the trio (now duo) of actors they plan to “replace” him with are going to cut it. I already don’t like one of them. We’ll see.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 15
**Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. FOX (9/20/16 returned)
Got very dark and too violent. I’m done with this as of opener for Season, 2016. Couldn’t even watch more than the first ten minutes. Confusing, too violent, inexplicably written, sexist and demeaningly filmed.
Not liking it much any more, so only Mom is watching, and now, CANCELLED.
**The Blacklist NBC (1/5/17 returned)
Glad Lizzie isn’t dead, but this show is off the rails for real. We watched opener for new season and I hated it; Mom liked it slightly more. I probably won’t keep watching. Too violent and confusing.
Keeping but no Season 5 — CANCELLED
On Mom’s list, only, and she’s keeping them:
**Hawaii 5-0 CBS (returned 1/6/17)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Chicago P.D. NBC (1/3/17 returned)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Chicago Med NBC (1/5/17 returned)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**NCIS Los Angeles CBS (1/8/17 returned)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure and RENEWED for SEASON 8.
**Law and Order—SVU NBC (returned 1/4/17)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Criminal Minds NBC (1/4/17 returned)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Chicago Fire NBC (1/3/17 returned)
Mom continues to love this. One of my CHANGES conversations between authors‘ guests, poet performer, James Gordon, has recurring minor roles on this and Chicago PD!)
Stays on Mom’s list
AS YET TO BE SCHEDULED
SUMMER RETURNS, 2017, probably:
Chesapeake Shores Hallmark Season One ended October, 2016
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Barbara Niven, Treat Williams
Is not quite as insipid and unwatchable as some of the other shows on this channel, so we’re trying it. First episode was all right. The Hallmark movies’ and series’ writers make everything so predictable, though, and the writing is so heavy-handed.
We like all the lead actors, so KEEPING, for now.
The Night Shift NBC (6/1/16 return)
Yet another medical drama, but this one is set in Texas, which is unusual and inspired the casting directors to include many more Latina/o and African-American actors to play key roles. That is excellent (most other dramas are very Anglo/a).
Starring Eoin Macken, Jill Flint (loved her in Royal Pains and The Good Wife), Ken Leung, Brendan Fehr (been watching him since Roswell, into Bones, and now, here), Freddy Rodriguez, Scott Wolf (recently from Perception), Robert Bailey, Jr., J.R. Lemon and now, Tanaya Beatty.
Similar soap opera romances, intern/resident issues, family dramas and interpersonal issues, but adding in the wars the USA is engaged in (several Vets and Rangers among the medical staff, some who are re-deployed), addiction/recovery, pregnancy and fidelity issues abound.
My mom actually started watching this one with me 2016, summer.
KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASON 4
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors (11/30/16) NBC
Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love is s sequel to the fun 2015 film based on her memoirs and recently released as a children’s book, Coat of Many Colors.
We were somewhat mystified and disappointed at the role the adult Dolly Parton gave herself in this sequel biopic, of one fall of her childhood at age 9: why would she have the local business owner (played by Parton’s real-life younger sister, Stella Parton), call her out as a prostitute? The child-aged Dolly says things like: “I want to look just like you when I grow up!” and the adult Dolly, known as “The Painted Lady” in the film, responds: “Maybe you will!” big smile. Very bizarre. The Painted Lady is a benefactor whose money is considered “dirty” and taken away by the store owner from child Dolly, but she keeps appearing throughout the film. Unclear as to why.
Which begs the question I’ve long had: why would anyone do to themselves what Dolly Parton has done (all the plastic surgery, wigs, false eyelashes, excessive dieting, garish make-up and clothes, for decades), and refuse to age gracefully? Dolly Parton is an inspiration and role model for many singers/songwriters and business owners, and she does consider herself an advocate for women. So, why does she refuse to look like a ordinary person?
Alyvia Alyn Lind, who plays young Dolly, reprised her role from the film last year and did a splendid job most of the time, but she could have been directed better. Some of the scene in which she has to speak more than a line or two are very stilted and artificial. The shorter interactions and her singing/playing guitar scenes are the best parts. Jennifer Nettles and Kelli Berglund, playing the eldest daughter, were excellent and well cast as Dolly’s mom and oldest sister. Mary Lane Haskell reprised her role as the school teacher, Miss Moody, who I hope is true-to-life and lived long enough to see how successful Dolly Parton became.
WARNING: This film has a very strong mystical, grandiose/romantic, heavy-handed Christian /Christmas messages which the adult Dolly definitely still believes in and wants everyone to know. There are appearances of visions, prayers, Baptisms, magic, God, blessings, angels and the like in her life and in this and the former film. If you believe in all that or like watching films like this, you’ll love it. We are not so fond (raised Jewish and practicing Buddhist, here).
Pitch Fox (have to wait until summer or fall, 2017, for its return)
Kylie Bunbury (Twisted), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash), Ali Larter (Legends, Heroes), Mark Consuelos (Kingdom, Alpha House), Mo McRae (Murder in the First, Sons of Anarchy), Meagan Holder (Ringer), Tim Jo (The Neighbors), Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), recurring guest star Bob Balaban (The Good Wife)
We really enjoyed Episode 1 and plan to keep watching, especially since it is looking dim for the Cardinals even to be in the Wild Card slot for the pennant and series this year! Kylie Bunbury is excellent in the lead role and so is Ali Larter as her agent/personal support person. There is BIG surprise near/at the end which I won’t spoil, here, but I will say that it will make the series more interesting and poignant, both.
Some of the other characters are a bit 2-D, but the plot isn’t clichèd at all and a few characters are well-drawn. We look forward to seeing how the writers unfold the stories.
**MacGyver CBS 9/23/16
Lucas Till (X-Men), George Eads (CSI), Justin Hires (Rush Hour), Sandrine Holt (House of Cards), Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
We aren’t even going to bother with this. A friend watched the pilot and said it was horrible, with the majority of the time spent blowing things up.
OFF OUR LIST but PICKED UP for FULL SEASON 1
NEW & RETURNING SHOWS on NETFLIX
Weeks ending 1/13/17
*New Season/Revival of Gilmore Girls, “A Year in the Life,” kind of Season 8, but add 10+ years, returned 11/25/16 (as four 90-minute “movies”)! I plan to watch them all, and I convinced Mom to watch the first one, hoping she might get hooked (she never watched the actual show, but I watched it all).
We watched Part I, “Winter” (they’re all named for one season), so far. It held up all right as a movie in its own right, with a few explanatory moments from me to Mom about characters’ histories and relationships prior to this Episode. This was no worse (and no better) than many of the Hallmark Channel movies we also struggle to watch/like.
—The Rory-boyfriends subplots were more than ridiculous and insulting to the kind of young woman she had seemed to be developing into at the series’ end, but otherwise, everyone was seemingly true to form, albeit older. Same with her now being a vagabond/homeless freelance writer.
—The pieces about grief and loss were well-done, triggered by the actual loss of an actor, Edward Herrmann, who played the grandfather/patriarch/father Gilmore. He actually passed away prior to their making this film series, but recently enough that some of the grief seemed authentic to the characters as well as actors).
—The revisiting of having more children for Lorelei/Luke seemed odd and unlikely, at their ages.
—Lane’s band seemed to be inserted for no reason at all.
—The citizens of Stars Hollow were even more annoying and absurd than before, or else I have less patience.
—Much of the dialogue seemed more like a race between/among characters than a conversation, true to its usual series’ style.
—Seems odd to have three more in this sequence: where can they actually go?
I watched the other 3 “seasons” alone and was both dumbfounded and astonished in all directions (crying, laughing, bored, appalled). The dialogue, plots, characters and situations were a strange mixture of insipid and ridiculous with inspired and poignant thrown in with romance and realism. Perhaps the writers have more than one personality, themselves?
Also, having not just cameos but actual appearances by many uncredited and quite famous guests was fun but odd. Sutton Foster, Christian Borle, Carole King, Melissa McCarthy, and several others had more than just a walk-through: the first three performed (sang, danced; played piano and sang)! Fun, but very weird.
Very strange but often moving and entertaining as well as horrible. May have a Second “Year in the Life”: TBD.
Santa Clarita Diet (new series, starts 2/3/17)
Stars Drew Barrymore (among others). Not sure about this. We’ll see.
*Black Mirror This British version of an updated Twilight Zone-ish series is very unsettling (I’ve only watched two episodes, but those were so disturbing I may not return any time soon). However, they are well-written, well-acted and “realistic,” as far as they can be while venturing into odd and futuristic territory. Recommended if you like bizarre, weird, unnerving and challenging. I know my mom won’t like it, so I watch when she’s not around.
I recognize some of the actors from other BBC series (Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, New Tricks and others), so that is fun.
It’s now in its third season, so if you can stomach it, there are many episodes to watch!
May be continuing to watch; RENEWED for Season 4
New seasons of Jessica Jones starts sometime in 2017… when? We like this show!
and, a spin-off of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, just got renewed for its second season on Netflix, so we may watch Season 1 this winter.
Longmire (9/23/16 returned)
Robert Taylor, Katee Sackoff, Lou Diamond Phillips
We LOVE this show and are so glad Netflix picked it up and continued it! Yea for Season 5! We started watching in October and appreciated the entire season, but hated the cliffhanger and that this upcoming one is its last!
KEEPING for its 6th and final season on Netflix for 2017
Grace & Frankie (on Netflix) Season 2 (returned May-June, 2016, and will again, 2017)
My mom and I enjoyed Season One and looked forward to Season Two a lot. We saw Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on talk shows in the month prior and anticipated its return with glee.
Watched Episodes One, Two and Three, so far. Many laughs and poignant situations in One, but again, funnier/sillier rather than believable writing and more performing than acting by the four main characters. By Episode Three, we were looking at each other and shaking our heads and din’t go on to Episode 4.
Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are still wooden and unbelievable and passionate lovers. Lily Tomlin is still performing a hippie character trope. Jane Fonda is the only one of the four who actually inhabits a realistic version of a character via acting.
Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael are given, as Sheen’s and Fonda’s adult daughters, mostly comedy bits and one-liners to enact, but they are getting the sisterly relationship better this year. Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry (Tomlin’s and Waterston’s adult sons) are not given even that much to do until Vaughn sits with Sheen’s recuperating character for a while and they have a few brief scenes together.
An impressive array of talented older actors parades through as dates for Lily or Jane and friends of any of the main four, including Episode Two’s Rita Moreno (completely wasted in this), but I have yet to see any of them be given anything interesting to do or show.
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. Ernie Hudson returns as Lily’s friend, Jacob, in two episodes; Sam Elliot comes back for Jane’s dating scene in two episodes; we get Swoosie Kurtz and Marsha Mason in Episode Five; Episode Six brings back Joe Morton and Mary Kay Place: I hope these great actors get to do more than mug, crack jokes and be cardboard cutouts.
This show could be SO MUCH BETTER! But, the writing trivializes what few actual issues there are, going for silly and getting sillier even though the topics are significant. For example,
—What kind of gay are the characters of Sol and Robert? They apparently haven’t discussed this, yet. Are they even the same kind as one another? Are they flamboyant “queens,” political/marchers in gay pride parades, attendees and singers at Broadway Bingo called by a Transvestite (or Transgender: the show didn’t even bother to make the distinction, or…?
—How do older or inexperienced entrepreneurs like Frankie avoid getting conned/fleeced by unscrupulous business people (even supposed “friends” and “family,” like Brianna [who now runs Grace’s company]) who make low-ball offers and confuse them with “net” and “gross” talk when they have a lucrative innovation, invention or product to market?
—How do women enduring medically risky pregnancies that require bed rest (in this case, Mallory, having twins, which is not automatically risky…) deal with the demands of their daily lives when they can’t afford to hire help?
—How do couples who based their entire relationship on infidelity deal with their infidelitous leanings? When Sol has sex with Frankie on the eve of marrying Robert, he is convinced not to tell Robert before marrying him because Robert has had a heart attack and needs open-heart surgery to survive. Frankie is also having trouble not telling Robert, who is her life-long friend. She, however, didn’t seem to have any trouble cheating with Sol on Robert….Where is the moral compass’ arrow pointing when no one seems to have any sense of “true North” except for Grace?
—How do senior citizens deal with relationships and sexual issues (vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, shyness/awkwardness (newly dating after being married for decades), lack of interest?
–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.
CONTINUING, but disappointed
The Best Documentaries By and About Women in 2016
Check your local PBS stations’ schedules or online videos, public and college libraries DVD collections, and other sources for watching these, or go directly to each director’s/screenwriter’s websites or online DVD sales outlets to purchase DVDs.
A Harvard linguist [Steven Pinker] reveals the most misused words in English
from INC., by Jessica Stillman, Inc., Dec. 17, 2015
An excellent list for writers/authors, readers, speakers, anyone who loves English and wants to use it correctly. Thanks, Jessica and Steven!
20 Most Anticipated Films By and About Women of 2017
from Rachel Montpelier, Feminist Writer, Spinster, & Lunatic; Creator of The Outside Girls Project https://outsidegirlsblog.wordpress.com/
Check out these amazing-sound films, coming right up! Thanks, Rachel, for curating this list.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s New Year’s Message for 2017 is included in this article about meditation, mind-training, hope and optimism.
Read, watch videos, be blessed, share:
From Elyane Youssef, writing on another favorite site of mine, Elephant Journal. Subscribe! http://www.elephantjournal.com/
#CriticizeTrumpDaily: Make a Commitment! #FreeSpeech Use this list to help you!
Or, add to it! Send your own list to: http://www.sallyember.com/blog and put in the comments of this post. We can be SO CREATIVE! There are so many serious, funny, name-calling and behavioral aspects to draw upon, I’m sure we’ll have a lot more than 100, but let’s start with these.
George Orwell had it all correct! “Truth is the new hate speech” meme, from Newstarget, captures this era perfectly! “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act!”
Want to know more how to be an effective #Trumpcritic? Read this, from 12/14/16:
BAD WAYS TO CRITICIZE TRUMP https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/12/bad-ways-to-criticize-trump
Don’t Mock Trump: Refute Him!, also from 12/14/16: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/20704/don-t-mock-trump-rebut-him
Also, use #GrabYourWallet http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-related-businesses-boycotted-2016-11/#6pm-1 and refuse to purchase ANYTHING from businesses that display or do business with Trump businesses/products (and most are chains, not local, so don’t shop there, anyway!), which include: 6 PM; Amazon; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Belk, Belacor, Bloomingdale’s; Bluefly; Bon-Ton and Carson’s; Burlington Coat Factory; Century 21; Dillard’s; DSW; Hudson’s Bay; HSN; Jet; Lord & Taylor; Macy’s; Marshalls; TJ Maxx; Neiman Marcus; Nordstrom; Overstock.com; Perfumania; Scion hotels; Saks Off Fifth; Stein Mart; Trump Golf Courses; Trump Hotels; Ivanka Trump’s clothing line; Trump Winery; Wayfair; Trump Grill; Zappos.
DO shop shoes.com (if you want), because they DID respond to requests to stop selling Trump items, in mid-November, 2016.
Over 100 Ways to Use your #FreeSpeech Rights to Criticize Trump (while we still have them…):
5. Child Rapist
6. Sexual Assaulter
7. Without any actual skills
9. Foments hate
15. Can’t spell
16. Can’t write well
17. Can’t speak properly
18. Doesn’t use complete, coherent sentences
19. Has a terrible vocabulary
20. Sub-normal emotional intelligence
21. Doesn’t read
22. Doesn’t listen
24. Failed business owner
30. Not amusing
33. Mocks others
34. Threatens and bullies
35. Probably mostly impotent (especially in actions)
36. Unintelligible, usually
37. Spoiled rich kid
48. Can’t understand simple science
49. Misrepresents facts
50. Can’t fulfill the role of President successfully
57. Won’t admit when he’s wrong
58. Never apologizes
64. Can’t remember important things
71. Can’t tolerate any criticism
76. Retaliates unfairly
77. Files frivolous lawsuits
83. Spews idiocy
85. Anti-immigrant while marrying immigrants
86. Horrible father
89. Easily thrown
90. Short attention span
100. Indulges in cronyism
109. Fuels paranoia
110. Is unfamiliar with key USA government rules and documents
111. Won’t hold regular Press Conferences
112. Can’t discuss criticisms substantively
113. Can’t debate rationally
115. Makes stuff up
129. Doesn’t learn from his own mistakes
130. Can’t tell friends from foes
132. Doesn’t understand purposes of policies
133. Flauts rules and laws
138. Disrespectful to almost everyone
140. Won’t admit when he’s wrong
141. Won’t admit his flaws and failings honestly
142. Dishonest in business and in life commitments
143. Doesn’t honor hard work
144. Doesn’t care about anyone outside of his family
145. Misleads people intentionally
146. Abuses power and leadership
149. Unable to tell fact from fiction (or unwilling)
151. Shirks responsibilities
152. Overly inflated sense of his own importance and competence
153. Distorted self-image
154. Low ego strength
155. Unable to make secure attachments
156. Can’t understand or follow simple logic
159. Unethical in every area of his life
160. Immoral in all ways
166. Misrepresents facts
167. Misunderstands facts
ADD YOUR OWN in the comments, below. The more refutational rather than personal, the better, but any actual criticisms are accepted!