“The Friday TV Report” 78 for 9/24/21, Updated 10/15/21, from Sally Ember, EdD, and her mom, Carole Harris

“The Friday TV Report” 78 for 9/24/21, Updated 10/15/21,
from Sally Ember, EdD, and her mom, Carole Harris

Mom (89) and I (67), my birthday, summer, 2021

Get vaccinated as soon as you are able. Please keep wearing masks, regardless of mandates. Keep socially distancing, washing hands, staying out of indoor spaces and outdoor crowds. Get a booster as soon as you are allowed as well.

So glad they’re back “on” with live theatre (vaccinated attendees and actors/crew, only!) here and in London’s West End! Check out many videos on YouTube for reopening celebrations, first rehearsals, fun performances on TV shows and other PR clips and snippets. I hope they all stay healthy!

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, 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 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.”

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)
“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!

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!
https://www.youtube.com/c/MatandSavanna/videos


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, 13) and Penn Charles (now, 10).
https://www.youtube.com/user/VisitTheGreenroom

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. AND, he’s doing a USA tour the summer of 2021 into the fall, and WE HAVE TICKETS for his St. Louis show, but it got postponed to January, 2022, due to Missouri’s horrible COVID epidemic rates, I’m sure. We hope to go in January (tickets honored then).
https://www.youtube.com/user/Tday4U

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!
https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyZimmerman

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!
https://www.youtube.com/user/pfte1

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!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCERCZTaMxBvI3AY_-z1rQOg

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 have, these days), he brings it!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzV2sYMCYqhCEPGDtVj7dIA

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!
https://www.youtube.com/user/JordanCharlieRabjohn

Lauren Mayer Comedy Songs wins for fastest parodies written, after the debacle of the presidential NOT-debate in September, and many other timely lurical gems are excellent and entertaining, often to her own piano accompaniment. Very talented and fun performer/writer. 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZHXM8gNIa8jBo25nB6gSuw

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 for TV/streaming watchers.

Next full post: 10/29/21

Our other favorite awards show is the unique AARP Movies for Grown-Ups Awards (films only): this is fantastic! This year, we recorded it 3/28/21. You can watch it online, any time, 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, usually, but this year, all was done remotely. So, there were very canned speeches, no live performances, and very little “heart.” Previously and hopefully, in the future, truly well-done and quite moving.

A wonderful special airing on PBS and affiliates starting mid-August is another installation of Great Performances, Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age, which is part II of a documentary I’d love to see part I of some day. “Explore the world of Broadway from 1959 through the early 1980s as recounted by the Broadway stars who lived through it. Written, directed and produced by the late filmmaker Rick McKay and hosted by two-time Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff, the new documentary is the long-awaited sequel to McKay’s award-winning 2003 film Broadway: The Golden Age – By the Legends Who Were There.” This was fantastic! Many interviews, clips, and footage worth watching. Too short!

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!).

Rocketman cover

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
—Rocketman

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:

2021 returns/premieres
10/21/21—The Blacklist returns (final SEASON) to NBC
10/25/21—The 4400 (reboot) premieres on The CW
11/19/21—The Wheel of Time SEASON 1 Amazon Prime releases
12/2/21—Annie LIVE! airs on NBC
12/17/21—Carter returns to WGN
December, 2021—Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist film on Roku
12/18/21—When Hope Calls special two-hour premiere for SEASON 2 now on GAC
12/22/21—Emily in Paris SEASON 2 returns to Netflix

NOT YET KNOWN, 2021-22 return/premiere dates:
——The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon SEASON 4 returns December 2021
——All Rise moves to OWN for SEASON 3
——The Crown SEASON 5 returns to Netflix late fall, 2021
——*The Split returns on USA channel for final SEASON 4 in 2022

—DVDs or Roku channels for latest SEASONS of Shetland, *The Handmaid’s Tale, The Good Fight, Big little Lies, The Heart Guy, Queens of Mystery, Line of Duty, Midsomer Murders, later in 2021 and in 2022, and others we can’t get on regular channels, e.g., Traces, Ms. Fischer’s Modern Murder Mysteries., Frankie Drake

********************************************

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’re a big BBC/British TV series fan, check this set of listings out, for new and returning shows in 2021 & beyond: https://www.iheartbritishtv.com/120-new-returning-british-tv-shows-in-2021-perhaps-2022/

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.”

Also, 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.

Here is an updated list (10/15/21) from The Wrap of upcoming premieres and returns, many delayed due to COVID and finally able to air: https://www.thewrap.com/canceled-shows-fall-tv-2021-broadcast-series-renewed-ordered/

This is the 78th post for 9/24/21, Updated 10/15/21
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays)

Next full post: 10/29/21


Regarding late-night shows
(which are often repeated in the early morning hours):

—we both watch James Corden‘s musical skits, “Carpool Karaoke” and “Broadway at the Crosswalk,” when they are on the regular channel (we don’t get iTunes shows) or catch them later on YouTube, but not the rest of his shows’ segments;
—we watch the first or both of the first parts of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and sometimes one or more of his guest spots;
—my mom watches The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but I only watch(ed) a few bits, usually on YouTube, later (“Lip Sync Battles,” e.g.);
—Mom watches Seth Myers‘ show’s first parts, but I do not;
—I sometimes watch(ed) the first parts of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (we miss you, Jon Stewart!), but Mom does not;
—Mom watches all of Saturday Night Live, but I don’t like it (never did);
—I catch some of John Oliver’s Episodes on YouTube a few times a year; Mom does not.


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 10/15/21). If a show is on a “regular” station (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), I don’t always list the station.


image from Pixabay

Yay
9-1-1 (good for SEASON 1; increasingly worse yearly; terrible for SEASON 5)
9-1-1: Lone Star (we like it; Good for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
*After Life Netflix (Oddly compelling; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
All Creatures Great and Small, Masterpiece PBS (wonderful!; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Another Life Netflix (We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
A Place to Call Home
(EXCELLENT series; 6 SEASONS; ACORN or DVDs)
Big Little Lies (HBO; for us, on DVD; DELAYED for SEASON 3)
*Blood & Treasure TNT (we like this; DELAYED for SEASON 2)
Blue Bloods (Good for SEASON 11; RENEWED for SEASON 12)
Borgen Netflix (dubbed, but we like this; 3 SEASONS released already; unexpected return in 2022 or so for SEASON 4)
Bull (okay for SEASON 5; RENEWED for SEASON 6)
*Call the Midwife PBS (EXCELLENT show; RENEWED for SEASON 10)
Case Histories (very well done; 2 SEASONS; Netflix)
C.B. Strike (very well-written and -acted; RENEWED for SEASON 4; DVDs or On Demand)
Chicago Med (Okay for SEASON 7; RENEWED SEASON 8)
Chicago PD (Okay for SEASON 9; RENEWED for SEASON 10)
Chicago Fire (Okay for SEASON 10; RENEWED for SEASONS 11)
CSI: Vegas CBS (we like this)
Cypher The Roku Channel (we liked this!)
D.C.’s Stargirl (Watchable & unexpectedly funny for SEASON 1; DELAYED for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3); The CW
Doc Martin PBS for earliest and sometimes current SEASONS; Netflix, Roku/Filmrise, Amazon Prime for previous SEASONS (quirky, funny, sweet, NOT violent)
Documentary Now! TBS (now in its 4th SEASON)
Doom Patrol HBO/DVDs for us (RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
Emily in Paris Netflix (We really like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Endeavor PBS (RENEWED through final SEASON 8)
F.B.I. (Good enough for SEASON 4)
F.B.I.: Most Wanted (okay for SEASON 3 )
Frankie Drake Mysteries (great for SEASONS 1- 3; PBS, Netflix & Ovation (DVDs for us; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee TBS (not great for SEASON 6; RENEWED for SEASON 7)
*Genius (Einstein, 2017; Picasso, 2018; Aretha Franklin, 3/2021)
Inspector George Gently (Acorn/BBC; 8 DVDs, and on AZ Prime, for $) A bit dark, but great.
*Grey’s Anatomy (Good for SEASONS 16; very dark for final SEASON 17)
Heartland Netflix [RENEWED for SEASON 15; 13 SEASONS there and on UPTV, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 13 released July, 2020; SEASON 14 released Jan., 2021 on pay services; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 10/15/21]
Janet King (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
*Last Tango in Halifax PBS (LIMBO for SEASON 7)
Leverage: Redemption IMDB TV (we love this!; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Lewis (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
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!
*Lupin Netflix (I like this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Luther (we liked this enough, but it’s violent) 6 SEASONS on AMAZON; CANCELED for SEASON 7, except for film in 2022)
Midsomer Murders (Netflix has 20 SEASONS; we like this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 23, SEASONS 21-22 and beyond on Britbox/DVDs; next DVD 11/21)
*Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Another great, feminist, Australian series; 3 SEASONS and 3 films [planned]; Netflix)
Miss Scarlet and the Duke, Masterpiece Mystery PBS (we love this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Motherland: New Salem Freeform (I’m both repelled and fascinated; okay for SEASON 2; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Acorn/DVD (We liked this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
New Amsterdam (We like this for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5) NBC
NCIS (Okay for SEASON 19)
Northern Rescue Netflix (We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Nurses (from Canada; all right ; RENEWED for SEASON 2) NBC
*Ozark (Fun to see “my” lake! Okay, but gets VERY dark; ENDED)
Pine Gap Netflix (RENEWED for SEASON 2) Surveillance, alliances, OR NOT
Press PBS Masterpiece/BBC; DVDs for us (6 Episodes, 2018; We liked this)
Private Eyes ION Channel (trite, but somewhat cute; splits its SEASONS, June/February, but DELAYED for 2021)
Professor T PBS (We liked this all right RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Rebel ABC (we loved this!; CANCELED but moving to IMDB TV and may get a SEASON 2 there)
Republic of Doyle (6 SEASONS; we increasingly liked this; Netflix)
Scott & Bailey (liked this a lot; 5 SEASONS; DVDs)
Secret City Netflix (2 SEASONS, from 2016) Spy stuff
Shakespeare & Hathaway PBS (We like this; DELAYED for SEASON 4)
Shetland ACORN /BritBox (We like this; several SEASONS on DVD; RENEWED for SEASON 6)
Silent Witness (21 SEASONS available on AZ Prime, was BBC) we like this, but it’s dark
Star Trek Discovery CBS [(previous SEASONS) CBS All Access (new SEASONS) rough start, but subsequent Episodes were better (RENEWED for SEASON 5)]
Station 19 (Trite, but watchable; okay for SEASON 5)
Superman & Lois The CW (we like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Sweet Magnolias Netflix (we like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
The Blacklist (okay for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASON 9)
The Bletchley Circle [DVDs; RENEWED for SEASON 2 in (having relocated to) San Francisco]
The Brokenwood Mysteries (we like this a lot; DVD for SEASON 7)
The Coroner (we sort of like it; okay for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4; on The CW)
The Good Doctor (okay for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
The Equalizer CBS (we like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
The Great American Baking Show (had to get rid of the abusive co-host; ON for SEASON 4)
The Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off (THE BEST; RENEWED through SEASON 13)
The Heart Guy (aka Doctor, Doctor) (DVDs; DELAYED through SEASON 5)
The Kominsky Method Netflix (very fun; not as good, but all right for final SEASON 3)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (DELAYED for SEASON 4)
The Politician Netflix (2 SEASONS already out; DELAYED for 3)
The Queen’s Gambit Netflix (7 Episodes; fabulous!)
The Resident (Good for SEASON 5)
The Rookie (Good for SEASON 4)
*The Split PBS/Sundance TV (great acting but depressing plots; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
The Worst Witch Netflix (we liked it); 4 SEASONS
Transplant NBC (we like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Unforgotten PBS (Extremely well-written, acted, intriguing; okay for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
Van der Valk PBS (already aired 2 SEASONS in the UK; we like it)
Virgin River Netflix (okay for SEASON 3; we like it; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5)
Wycliffe BBC/Filmrise/Roku (5+ Seasons, starting 1994; we liked some of it; got very dark)
*You (weirdly fascinating; moved to Netflix; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
*Young Sheldon CBS (Good; RENEWED for SEASONS 5, 6, 7; previous Episodes on Nick at Nite and TBS)
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBC, now maybe Roku (CANCELED after SEASON 2 on NBC; is getting December, 2021, film and possibly SEASON 3 on Roku. We like this a lot.)

Check our opinions against the networks’ decisions with updated lists of Canceled and Renewed/Canceled shows (UPDATED 10/15/21):
 http://TVShowsCancelled.com/

Nay
B Positive CBS (we hate laugh tracks and addict plots; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Delilah OWN (tedious, trite, horrible)
Bridgerton Netflix (insipid but gorgeous; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3, 4 & getting spinoff)
Big Sky ABC (Too dark; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Cobra PBS (Could not continue)
Firefly Lane Netflix (10 Episodes; AWFUL; RENEWE#D for SEASON 2)
Girls5eva Peacock (Not free after Episode 1; not enough singing and horrible characters)
La Brea NBC (TERRIBLE. Don’t bother)
**Law & Order: Organized Crime NBC (disappointing and boring; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Miracle Workers TBS (bearable for SEASON 1 but not SEASON 2; unwatchable for SEASON 3)
Mr. Mayor NBC (sit com, and horrible; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
Roadkill PBS (BORING; 4 Episodes, then RENEWED)
Space Force Netflix (not worth your time or ours; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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)
The Trouble with Maggie Cole (TERRIBLE PBS series)
*This Is Us (OFF OUR LIST: egregiously awful scripts in SEASONS 2 & 3; 4 somewhat better; RENEWED for SEASONS 5 & 6; CANCELED)

Maybe/Still Considering
(Not Great/BORING/Upsetting)


(image from Pixabay)

*Batwoman The CW (I don’t like it much; okay for SEASON 2 with new lead; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
*black-ish (not so good for SEASONS 6 & 7; RENEWED for final SEASON 8)
Carter WGN (was fun, but mostly AWFUL for SEASON 2; DELAYED for SEASON 3)
*Chesapeake Shores Hallmark (WRETCHEDLY STUPID, usually; mediocre to poor for SEASON 5)
*Charmed
The CW (Mom stopped watching; SEASON 3 is awful; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Grace & Frankie (Netflix, 8/20/21, 4 Episodes for final SEASON 7; rest in 2022; still awful)
*Greenhouse Academy Netflix (Trite, but watchable; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
Queens of Mystery Acorn TV (DVD for us; BORING, mostly; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
Ordinary Joe NBC (unnecessarily confusing and hard to see; not sure)
*Resident Alien Syfy (surprisingly engaging; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Roswell, New Mexico The CW (not so happy with this reboot; even worse for SEASON 4)
Solos Amazon Prime (not sure)
Supergirl The CW (Not great for FINAL SEASON 6)
The Big Leap Fox (not sure, yet)
*The Chair Netflix (Mom ditched this; not great)
The Good Fight  (Excellent for SEASONS 1, 2 & 3; we DID NOT LIKE SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASONS 5 & 6) Paramount+, now
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (not great; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (treacle, okay for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASON 9)
*When Hope Calls Hallmark then GAC (more treacle, but, somehow, I watch; 12/18/21 special two-hour premiere for SEASON 2)


NOTE: I can’t possibly include all the upcoming projects, pilots and series, casting changes, renewals/cancellations, staffing switches, and network politics. I TRY to focus on planned/upcoming series and TV specials (and their casts) that we might watch as premieres on basic cable TV, on Netflix, Peacock TV or Amazon Prime, or that we will wait to watch after the premium or other streaming service channels’ series come out on DVD, because I/we might find them interesting. Additionally, I include some of the shows I choose to complain about and declare we will not watch.]

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If you want to check out the newest original series on Netflix, go visit
Best Netflix Original Series Premiering in 2021 (as of 10/15/21):
https://www.indiewire.com/t/best-new-to-netflix/

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Acorn and other streaming and DVD listings are updated constantly here: https://movierewind.com/everything-netflix/

As of 10/15/21, hot off the presses, the constantly updated renewals, cancellations and premiere dates, by month (all subject to change): /2 https://www.thewrap.com/fall-tv-2021-broadcast-shows-canceled-renewed-ordered

This is the 78th post for 9/24/21, Updated 10/15/21
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays)
Next full post: 10/29/21

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.


BACKGROUND

My mom (89) and I (67) 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 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.”

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 10/15/21, for future months):   http://TVShowsCancelled.com/

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 78 for 9/24/21, Updated 10/15/21

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 10/15/21)

CSI: Vegas CBS (premiered 10/6/21)
This is the 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.
Starring returning cast members, William Petersen, Wallace Langham and Jorja Fox, with the new team led by Paula Newsome, with Matt Lauria, Mel Rodriguez and Mandeep Dhillon.
Great reboot

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.

Ben Miller as Professor T

“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.”
We liked this all right; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Blue Bloods CBS (returned 10/1/21 for SEASON 12)
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 this year. Okay start for SEASON 12.
Also starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Sami Gayle, Marisa Ramirez and Vanessa Ray.

Blue Bloods

Okay for SEASON 12

*Grey’s Anatomy ABC (returned 9/30/21 for final SEASON with many crossovers with Station 19)
Greg German and Jesse Williams not returning for SEASON ender.
Sorry to see this go, but welcoming back Kate Walsh for final SEASON.
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 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 SEASON 16.
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, but no gay males, up until SEASON 15 (2018-19). Looks as if he’ll be leaving for SEASON 17, though.
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.
Sara Ramirez (played bisexual Dr. Callie Torres here for 10 seasons) may return at some point before the end. We’ll see.
Happy to keep Chris Carmack (Nashville) as the orthopedic surgeon with an attitude, Greg Germann, and Kim Raver as regulars for SEASONS 16 & 17 (she had Owen’s baby, but blew up their relationship).
KEEPING for SEASON 17; then, ENDING

The Good Doctor ABC (returned 9/27/21 for SEASON 5)
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!
Did not like Sharon Leal‘s character (but she did great in it).
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 5

Bull CBS (returned 10/7/21 for SEASON 6)
Freddy Rodriguez and Glenn Caron leaving for SEASON 6, without explanation.
We LOVED this show and its great cast, but now that we know why Eliza Dushku (and probably Jill Flint as well) haven’t returned, and how disgustingly Weatherly, Moonves, Caron and CBS have ROUTINELY behaved toward women, we feel conflicted about watching. AND, even though it was RENEWED for SEASON 4, it lost Spielberg and its other producers. Interestingly, the SEASON 4 opener was all about Bull’s needing to apologize, beg, be humble…. Hmmmm.
Stars: Michael Weatherly (NCIS), Geneva Carr (Law & Order: SVU), Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Hamilton), Jaime Lee Kirchner (Mercy), Annabelle Attanasio. 
Very good writing and acting all around, with the “right side” usually prevailing, often in a Perry Mason “gotcha” moment during the trial. We like that.
Keeping: okay for SEASON 6

*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

La Brea NBC (premiered 9/28/21)
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!

The Big Leap Fox (premiered 9/20/21)
Scott Foley (Scandal, Felicity) stars as a producer of a reality dance competition show who casts a group of underdogs (Teri Polo, Piper Perabo and more). We don’t like most actual reality shows, and this fictional one is more sad than fun.
Love the cast, but the plot is not great. We don’t even like most of the characters, either.
Also starring: Ser’Darius Blain, Jon Rudnitsky, Anna Grace Barlow, Adam Kaplan, Kevin Daniels, Mallory Jansen.
We are cautiously continuing

Ordinary Joe NBC  (premiered 9/20/21)
Right up my multiverse alley! We have James Wolk (Zoo, Watchmen, Mad Men) as Joe.
The series “explores the three parallel lives [“Music Joe,” “Cop Joe” and “Nurse Joe”] …after he makes a pivotal choice at [college graduation]. …How different might life look if you made your decision based on love, loyalty or passion?….The story suddenly fast-forwards 10 years, where we see Joe living three different lives. In one, he’s a famous musician and is married to Amy, but they’re having trouble starting a family of their own; in another, he’s a successful cop struggling with loneliness; and in the third, he’s a nurse, married to Jenny. Together they have a disabled child, but their marriage is slowly falling apart. As each of the three Joes prepare for their 10-year college reunion, their parallel lives overlap in mysterious ways, emphasizing the importance of one’s life decisions and how significant each choice can be.”
HOWEVER, this is very disappointing. The lighting is awful (many scenes so dark we can’t see any faces at all). The contrivances of showing his “fork point” and then “10 years later” for each was good, at first, but then they go back and forth without any warning or written information, and, again, we can’t see who is in the scenes, sometimes! STUPID production choices. We haven’t gone back after Episode 1, yet (2 weeks later…).
PLUS (scifi maven, here): the “world-building” sucks! “Parallel lives” and alternate timelines, by definition, DO NOT OVERLAP. IF someone has the ability to view or understand one or more of their own alternatives, they would not meet up with themselves! Sheesh! And, so many questions unanswered.
We may continue, but it’s unnecessarily poorly lit and confusing

NCIS: Hawai’i CBS (premiered 9/20/21; earned a full SEASON)
“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.
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 all right, but not excited

FBI: International CBS (premiered 9/21/21 with triple FBI crossover; earned a full SEASON)
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.
We like it

F.B.I. CBS (returned as part of triple FBI crossover 9/21/21 for SEASON 4)
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 4

F.B.I.: Most Wanted CBS (returned as part of triple FBI crossover 9/21/21 for SEASON 3)
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’sChicago series’ franchise playbook.
Julian McMahon (Marvel’s Runaways) plays “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.”
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.”
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 3

NCIS CBS (returned 9/20/21 for SEASON 19)
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 19

The Resident FOX (returned 9/21/21 for SEASON 5)
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!

Keeping; Okay for SEASON 5

9-1-1 FOX (returned 9/20/21 for SEASON 5)
For SEASON 5, Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer), still not back to her job and suffering from PPD and PTSD, depicted terribly and not working for us at all. Awful story lines for first two Episodes.
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.
KEEPING; terrible for SEASON 5

Chicago P.D. NBC (returned 9/22/21 for SEASON 9; RENEWED for SEASON 10)
Continually disappointed that so many ON THE FORCE are doing so many bad things.
Starring: Jason Beghe, Marina Squerciati, Jesse Lee Soffer, Patrick Fleuger, Laroyce Hawkins, Amy Morton, Tracy Spiridakos
KEEPING; not so great for SEASON 9; RENEWED for SEASON 10

Chicago Fire NBC (returned 9/22/21 for SEASON 10; RENEWED for SEASON 11)
Good SEASON 10 opener, picking up right where SEASON 9 left off. We like these people.
Starring: Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Eamonn Walker, David Eigenberg, Joe Minoso, Kara Killmer, Yuriy Sardarov, Cristian Stolte, Miranda Rae Mayo, Gary Cole; added Annie AlonzehSteven Boyer, Austin PeckJordan Belfi (American Curious) .
KEEPING; okay for SEASON 10; RENEWED for SEASON 11

Chicago Med NBC (returned 9/22/21 for SEASON 7; RENEWED for SEASON 8)
Torrey DeVitto and Yaya DaCosta are not returning for SEASON 7, their choice.
Not lijking Brian Tee’s absence, nor 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 BernardColby LewisNick 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 7; RENEWED for SEASON 8

New Amsterdam NBC (returned 9/21/21, for SEASON 4; RENEWED for 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 SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5

The Rookie ABC (returned 9/26/21 for SEASON 4)
We like this, and SEASON 4’s opener was fantastic! But, Fillion is not still a “rookie” so…???
Sad to lose one of the main people (wont’ 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: Melissa O’Neil as one of Fillion‘s co-trainees); and, Alyssa Diaz as another TO-turned Detective, Michael Beach, as career LAPD, now Chief of Internal Affair;. Richard T. Jones (whom we always like) as the Captain; and Eric Winter (whom we also like) as another TO (training Melissa O’Neil); Mekia Cox as Fillion‘s TO; Shawn Ashmore is a Public Defender engaged to a pregnant/parenting Diaz for SEASONS 3 & 4.
We like it for SEASON 4

The Coroner The CW (returned 8/19/21 for SEASON 3; returned 10/14/21 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 like it enough; okay for SEASON 3 and SEASON 4

Grace & Frankie Netflix (8/2021, 4 Episodes early release for final SEASON 7; other 7 coming in 2022)
The writing has deteriorated even worse for subsequent SEASONS, but we keep 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 watch, but we are constantly disappointed and disgusted. This is more farce than drama or comedy.
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 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, 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 are not getting the sisterly relationship in any believable way.
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 is the best of the bunch, but his lines are so trite. They sometimes have great guest stars as female friends, but, again, these, the people in the offices, and the gay friends are all 2-D stereotypes and wasted in this show.
This show could be SO MUCH BETTER! But, the writing usually trivializes what few actual issues there are, going for silly and getting sillier, even though the topics are significant.
For example,
—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.
CONTINUING, but frequently disappointed; still awful for final SEASON 7

The Chair Netflix (released SEASON 1 8/27/21)
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; should not be renewed

Silent Witness BBC/Amazon Prime Video (1996 – 2017, 21 SEASONS)
“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.
Also starring: Tom Ward and William Gaminara
Very well-written, -acted, -directed, but a bit dark

Chesapeake Shores Hallmark (returned 8/15/21 for SEASON 5)
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe (NOT returning for SEASON 5), Barbara Niven, Treat Williams

Chesapeake Shores

This has gotten more insipid and unwatchable as we go. We start an Episode, then find other things to watch before we reluctantly return to finish it, days later. The Hallmark movies’ and series’ writers make everything so predictable, yet illogical; the writing is so heavy-handed; worst of all, the characters are depicted as being emotionally adolescent regardless of their biological ages. Also, HORRIBLY fake Irish-American accents. Tragic.
We like all the lead actors, but the age differences between “generations” defy reality.
Also, the grandmother and the mother look too much alike and are NOT supposed to be related, whereas the five siblings look NOTHING alike nor do they resemble either of their parents all that much. Terrible casting.
The storyline also gets less believable as they go along.
In the The Way We Were very dated trope, a new hairstyle passes for inner transformation. Sheesh.
Why, Treat Williams? Why, Barbara Niven? Why?
For SEASON 5, Robert Buckley (The Christmas House, iZombie) joins the cast.
KEEPING, but liking even less for each SEASON, now 5

D.C.’s Stargirl The CW (returned 8/10/21, for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
We liked SEASON 1 all right, but SEASON 2 is 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’ll see if we 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 now-dead Starman; Amy Smart, as his new wife, mother to Stargirl.
Watchable and unexpectedly funny for SEASON 1; not great for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3

Line of Duty Amazon Prime/BritBox (SEASONS 1 – 4, 2012-2016, available for free, now; SEASONS 5 & 6 cost $ as of 8/2021)
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

*Roswell, New Mexico THE CW (returned 7/26/21 for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
I was VERY EXCITED about this (I am such a GEEK, and loved the original), but SEASON 1 was mostly a disappointment, and SEASONS 2 & 3 had bad starts, IMO. The “updated” stories and aged characters are not improvements. Very violent, too dark, “evil” aliens subplot; ghost aliens, too; very much NOT like the original.
SEASON 3 is even weirder.
Jeanine Mason is in a lead role. The original series launched many careers: writing (Kevin Kelly Brown); producing (Jason Katims) and, acting (Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr, Katherine Heigl, Brendon Fehr, Majandra Delfino and Nick Wechsler). But so far, not so great.
“Based on the Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. After reluctantly returning to her tourist-trap hometown of Roswell, New Mexico, the daughter of undocumented immigrants discovers a shocking truth about her teenage crush who is now a police officer: he’s an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect and begin to investigate his origins, but when a violent attack and long-standing government cover-up point to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him and destroy their deepening romance.”
Not Mom’s cup of tea.
Amber Midthunder (Legion) who has already appeared in several Season 1 Episodes as Rosa Ortecho, the murdered sister of Liz (Jeanine Mason), has been “brought back to life” and is a regular in SEASON 2. Big mistake.
I am very disappointed; not great for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4

Leverage Redemption IMDB TV (released July, 2021; returned 10/8/21 for SEASON 2)
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) 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 2021)
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.”

Shakespeare-Hathaway-headed-to-public-television-in-2019-1
Mark Benton and Jo Joyner

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

Virgin River Netflix (released 7/9/21 for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 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 3 is good, but why is Annette O’Toole working remotely? COVID? SEASON 2 was 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 3; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5

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 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

*A Discovery of Witches AMC & BBC (SEASON 2 returned 6/27/21 on AMC [for free/cable] in the USA; SEASON 1 simulcast and premiered in the USA, 4/7/19; RENEWED for SEASON 3; premiered for SEASON 2, 1/8/21 on SKY ONE and on Sundance Now TV, AMC+ and Shudder [paid] 1/9/21.)
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 HarknessA 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 for SEASON 3

*Motherland: Fort Salem Freeform (returned for SEASON 2 on 6/22/21; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
This series is an alternative history of the USA, if witches had not all been killed or driven into hiding in the USA colonies in the 1600s. Fascinating matriarchal but patriarchal spin on the cultures.
For SEASON 2, “Raelle, Tally and Abigail confront higher stakes, dangerous magic and a new threat from an ancient group of witch hunters, The Camarilla. In the first season, we saw our trio of young witches follow in the footsteps of their foremothers, defending the nation from The Spree as part of the United States Army. Their training is intensified when they are promoted to attend War College, where their magic, relationships and beliefs will be pushed to the limits. While General Alder seeks out new witches to join the wars to come, The Spree and the Army learn their fight may no longer be with one another. But how can two enemies work together to thwart a hatred that won’t stop until all witches are exterminated?”
Getting very violent with too much fighting, for me; may quit watching if the plots don’t pick up.
Starring: Taylor Hickson, Jessica Sutton, Ashley Nicole Williams, Amalia Holm, Demetria McKinney and Lyne Renée.
Written and created by Eliot Laurence.
I got into this reluctantly and got hooked; RENEWED for final 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

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBC, now maybe Roku (CANCELED after SEASON 2 on NBC; IS getting December, 2021, film and possibly SEASON 3 on Roku)
“If there’s a song in your heart, it will get in her head. Jane Levy stars in this high-concept drama as Zoey Clarke, a whip-smart computer coder forging her way in San Francisco who always preferred podcasts over pop songs, suddenly starts to hear the innermost wants, thoughts and desires of the people around her—her family, co-workers and complete strangers—through popular songs. At first, she questions her own sanity, but after getting some guidance from her musically adept neighbor, Mo, and making a breakthrough with her ailing father, Zoey soon realizes this unwanted curse may just be an incredibly wonderful gift as she connects with the world like never before.”
“The film picks up where season two left off, continuing Zoey’s journey as she navigates work, family, love, and everything in between. … Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Andrew Leeds, Alice Lee, Michael Thomas Grant, Kapil Talwalkar, David St. Louis, Mary Steenburgen, Peter Gallagher and Bernadette Peters … will all reprise their roles”
We like this a lot; hope ROKU gives it a SEASON 3

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; not sure

Emily in Paris Netflix (SEASON 1, released early in 2020; SEASON 2 releases 12/22/21)
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 SEASON 2

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 10/15/21).
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 SEASON 2

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 9/23/21 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

Supergirl The CW (3/30/21 returned & 8/24 continues for FINAL SEASON 6; CANCELED for SEASON 7)
The final season started off as bad as SEASON 5 left off: confusing, too dark, and difficult to follow, even if we wanted to, which we mostly do not.
Nicole Maines—the first trans actor as a superhero in a TV series still stars, and expecting the return of Azie Tesfai (Jane The Virgin, The Kominsky Method) “as Kelly Olsen, the sister of [James] Olsen, as Alex’s lover.
Jon Cryer is still the iconic villain, Lex Luthor, only since SEASON 5, he has superpowers. Why?
Others have also returned, but one is very likable. Disappointing.
Not great; CANCELED for SEASON 7

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

The Equalizer CBS (returns 10/10/21 for SEASON 2)
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, Liza Lapira, Tory Kittles.
We like this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 2

*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (returned 2/21/21 for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASON 9)
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.”

When calls the heart

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; RENEWED for SEASON 9

Superman & Lois The CW (premiered 2/23/21 for SEASON 2)

Superman and Lois 2020-21

Introduced as a couple (Tyler HoechlinElizabeth 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; RENEWED for SEASON 3

*Resident Alien Syfy (premiered 1/27/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
This was disappointing, and Mom won’t continue after Episode 1. It seems to be a one-note premise, unfortunately, and I’m not seeing where they can actually go from the first Episode, but I’ll continue for one or two more.
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; RENEWED for SEASON 2

*Lupin Netflix (released SEASON 1a January, 2021; SEASON 1b released 6/11/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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 2

Omar Sy as Lupin

Miss Scarlet and the Duke, Masterpiece Mystery PBS (6-part series premiered 1/17/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
We 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 Phillips.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/specialfeatures/miss-scarlet-and-the-duke-s1-everything-you-need-to-know-about/
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 2

*Batwoman CW (returns 10/13/21 for SEASON 3)
Mom didn’t like this and I mostly didn’t, but watched, anyway. For SEASON 1, Ruby Rose was an out lesbian Batwoman. This was interesting; the rest, not so much. I REALLY disliked the characters of her dad and her long-lost (and mistakenly presumed dead) and now “batshit crazy” twin sister, and those dominated the storylines SEASON 1.
For SEASON 2, Javicia Leslie (The Family Business, God Friended Me) played a replacement Batwoman, the first African-American AND 2nd lesbian in the franchise to have a starring “Bat” role.
This character is still an out lesbian, interestingly (as if they can’t have a  kick-ass femme/cis-gender/hetero Batwoman?). Their description: “Ryan Wilder is about to become Batwoman. She’s likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane, the woman who wore the Batsuit before her. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the GCPD and masking her pain with bad habits. Today, Ryan lives in her van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical all-American hero.”
Okay but not great for SEASON 2 and didn’t much like SEASON 1

*Charmed The CW (returned 1/24/21 for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
We really liked the updates/modernizations, but SEASON 1 left us UNcharmed; Mom is out. I continued, and haven’t much liked either SEASON 2 or SEASON 3. The storylines are confusing and irrational, the production values make many key scenes too dark to see what is happening, and there is way too much whining. I fast-forward and mostly don’t care.
“After the tragic death of their mother, three sisters in a college town are stunned to discover they are witches. Soon this powerful threesome must stand together to fight the everyday and supernatural battles that all modern witches must face: from vanquishing powerful demons to toppling the patriarchy…”
SPOILER ALERT: killed off a key character at the end of SEASON 3.
Starring: Madeleine Mantock, Melonie Diaz, Sara Jeffrey, Rupert Evans, Ser’Darius Blain, Charlie Gillespie, Ellen Tamaki, Nick Hargrove.
Substandard plots, characters, directing. Too much money spent on special effects.
Got even worse for SEASONS 2 & 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4

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

All Creatures Great and Small, Masterpiece, PBS (1/10/21 premiered; 6 Episodes, plus Christmas special and “behind the scenes” in summer, 2021; RENEWED for SEASON 2, 1/9/22 in the USA)
We LOVED 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 SEASON 2

Doc Martin PBS for FINAL SEASON 10; Netflix, Roku/Filmrise, Amazon Prime for previous SEASONS (1-9) (quirky, funny, sweet, NOT violent)
“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 (premiered 12/7/20; aired in Canada last January; returned 6/21/21 to CBC for SEASON 2)
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 SidhuDonald MacLean, Jr., Cathy White, Ryan Blakely, Jordan Connor.
It’s all right; RENEWED for SEASON 2

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.
FANTASTIC!

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

Borgen Netflix (SEASONS 1 – 3 available NOW; SEASON 4 releases in 2022-23)
We like 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.”
Got an unexpected 4th SEASON years later! Maybe because it won lots of awards.
We like it

Secret City Netflix (2 SEASONS, from 2016)
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.
We liked it all right

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

Van der Valk PBS (premiered 9/14/20; miniseries, with only 3 Episodes in SEASON 1; SEASON 2 already aired in UK)
Set in Amsterdam, but otherwise, very similar to dozens of other detective shows. But, we like it all right.
This is a “crime drama series about a detective in Amsterdam, based on the novels of Nicolas Freeline. The main character, Simon “Piet” Van der Valk, …played by Marc Warren…”
Also starring: Maimie McCoy, Luke Allen-Gale, Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Carrell D’Silva, Emma Fielding, and Mike Lihanon.
It’s all right

Doom Patrol HBO/DVD for me (SEASON 1 available in late 2020 on both; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
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

Transplant NBC (13-Episodes; premiered 9/1/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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 romance, so far, which is amazing! We generally like Canadian series, and we like this one.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2 

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.
Worth watching

*The Crown Netflix [released 11/15/20 for SEASON 4, RENEWED for SEASONS 5 & 6 (final)]
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 SEASON 5.
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), PBSMargaret, 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

The Blacklist NBC (returns 10/21/21 for SEASON 9)
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.
Not great for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASON 9

The Good Fight CBS Access (CBS is running SEASON 1 for cable viewers, now; DVDs for 4 SEASONS; RENEWED for SEASONS 5 & 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.
Returning/continuing are: Cush Jumbo, Christine Baranski, Gary Cole, Carrie Preston, Sarah Steele, Matthew Perry, and some others who pop up occasionally,notably, Bernadette Peters, , Michael J. Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Justin Bartha, Delroy Lindo, Rose Leslie, Erica Tazel, Nyambi Nyambi, Louis Gossett, Jr., and so many more greats who are regulars or guest/recurring stars.
The writing and directing are stellar  (but not consistently done by the same people).
Added the wonderful Audra MacDonald and Michael Sheen (Masters Of Sex) in SEASON 2. For SEASON 3, Sheen plays “charismatic Machiavellian Roland Blum, who’s more interested in winning than following the law. The character is based on Roy Cohn, or his more recent iteration Roger Stone, King said, describing  Blum is a Satan in the law firm.”
The cartoon info sections are amazing and fun. The timeliness of various plotlines and characters is eerie.
This was fabulous, but we did not like SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5

*black-ish ABC (returned 10/21/20 for SEASON 7; RENEWED for final [midseason 2022] SEASON 8)
This show has had great acting (sometimes), excellent storylines that are relevant and important (and very informative without being heavy-handed), especially for African-Americans (but not only), and funny bits that aren’t usually too silly, but it can devolve, quickly, into insipid. TOO MUCH COVID for 2020!
The writers have tackled postpartum depression, incarceration, Type II (Adult Onset) diabetes, divorce, bullying, class issues/homelessness/charity/poverty, marital issues, sibling rivalry, workplace harassment, racism, sexism and so much more, fitting each or more than one topic into a 30-minute segment that features a family that has children from age 19+ to an infant and one set of divorced grandparents who live in “the backyard”
I understand why the actors and writers (Kenya Barris, Peter Saji) have won so many awards.
Starring Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Jenifer Lewis, Lawrence Fishburne, , and the kids (Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin and the infant).
Okay; too much COVID for SEASON 7; RENEWED for final SEASON 8

Station19 ABC (returns 9/30/21 for SEASON 5)
We like this enough to keep watching, but it is very trite and way too much happens in the dark and/or in bed or during sex scenes, which is frustrating even if realistic. The back-and forth in time is also confusing, especially this year (SEASON 4).
SEASONS 3 & 4 started with and promise to have more “crossovers” with Grey’s Anatomy, which I like. But, they have ruined the characters played by Danielle Savre (making Maya the new Captain, unfairly) and Boris Kodjoe (making him a Chief, then had to quit because he is a drug addict, absurdly hiding a disabilityd), killed off a great one (Ryan, Alberto Frezza), and killed off another one, former Chief Herrera, played by Miguel Sandoval. Bummers.
Jaina Lee Ortiz (Rosewood) stars as a firefighter in this Grey’s Anatomy‘s spinoff, set in a Seattle firehouse.
This Shonda Rhimes series is a soap opera with “firefighters’ life-and-death situations at work and their personal lives.”
A bit too much junior high-esque, with all the lying and romantic entanglements.
Good enough for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5

*Young Sheldon CBS (returns 10/7/21 for SEASON 5 and all previous SEASONS coming to Nick at Nite and TBS; RENEWED for SEASONS 6 & 7)
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 4; RENEWED for SEASONS 5, 6 & 7

*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee TBS (ongoing; RENEWED for SEASONS 7 & 8)
I loved Samantha Bee on The Daily Show and awaited her new individual show with great anticipation. I have mostly not been disappointed, but I haven’t been watching as regularly, either: TOO MUCH of #45, and COVID shows aren’t good at all. .
Bee is funny, insightful, appropriately outraged and very bold, extremely feminist and “in-your-face,” but since I agree with her POV, this all works great, for me. I laugh out loud and sigh 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.

Full Frontal

Strong return for each SEASON, but I AM SO SICK OF this administration and all rethuglicans! Impossible to watch during ZOOM Episodes for Pandemic, also.
Keeping but not great for SEASON 6; RENEWED for SEASON 7

9-1-1: LONESTAR Fox (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
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, fire fighters as humans: good writing.
We like it; Okay for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3

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; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
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; RENEWED for SEASON 4


On **Mom’s list, only, and she’s keeping them (YAYs for her):

**Law and Order—SVU NBC ([longest-running drama on network TV!] RENEWED for SEASON 24)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; RENEWED.

**Saturday Night Live (SNL) NBC (returned 10/3/20 for SEASON million)
Mom is keeping this on her list, but I am bored with it; RENEWED

**NCIS: Los Angeles CBS (returns 10/10/21 for SEASON 13)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; okay for SEASON 12

2021 PREMIERES/RETURNS
(some not yet reviewed/watched as of 10/15/21)

[Some PREMIERES/RETURNS are still unknown for 2021, so I give the known first/return air dates. I/we plan to watch the shows listed, below (UPDATED 10/15/21).]

Link to premiere dates, renewals and cancellations for 2021:
https://tvline.com/gallery/renewal-scorecard-2021-cancellation-list/

Or, use these links for a frequently updated 2021, schedule:
http://www.thefutoncritic.com/guide/

Also, try https://nextseasontv.com/upcoming/ for release dates.


2021-22 Planned Viewing

Monarch Fox (premieres over 2 nights, 1/30/22 & 2/1/22, after football game)
Great cast and okay premise, created by one of the same people (Michael Rauch) who did Instinct and Royal Pains, which we liked, so could be good. “The series will feature original music and covers.”
Starring: Susan Sarandon (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.”
We’ll try it

Hairspray LIVE! NBC (premiered 12/7/16 and now streaming, anytime, for $; waiting until it’s free)
“Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Hairspray Live! takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Plump teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV program. When, against all odds, Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African American boy she meets in detention, Seaweed; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store. Tracy’s mother is the indomitable Edna, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white Corny Collins Show.”
Starring: Maddie Baillio, Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Garrett Clayton, Harvey Fierstein, Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short, Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph, with special appearances by Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes, Andrea Martin and Rosie O’Donnell
We’ll watch

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.
May watch

*Genius National Geographic (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.
FMI: https://www.indiewire.com/2021/02/genius-aretha-trailer-season-3-premiere-date-1234615986/
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

Critical AZ Prime (13 Episodes only, from 2015)
Another medical drama, this one from the BBC, that focuses on critical cases and relationships among the staff, of course. CANCELED after one SEASON. Too bad.
“…Each episode focuses on a different patient whilst they undergo an hourlong treatment. The stories are set in a state-of-the-art major trauma centre, where a team of medical professionals work together to save the lives of the critically injured and seriously ill. Proving that every second counts, each case is shot in real-time as the trauma consultants operate and make crucial decisions during the procedure. With life and death at a knife’s edge, will the team make the right choices when challenges arise?”
Starring: Lennie James, Sheri Sadd, Peter Sullivan, Catherine Walker.
Could watch

Detective McClean AZ Prime (2015 series, available 7/15/21)
A blended family and detective drama, both, from Canada. Hmmm.
“Experienced police detective, Allison McLean, is starting to realize how personal law enforcement can get. When an arrest warrant is issued for her brother, Tim, accused of aggravated assault, she and her partner, Devin, must arrest him. When Tim is convicted and imprisoned, his two teenage children are left on the brink of being sent into foster care. Allison doesn’t want that to happen and does what she thinks is the right thing to do by welcoming her niece and nephew into her home—to go along with the two she already has with husband, Matt. Now with four teenagers under one roof, Allison and Matt’s strength and patience are really tested. While Allison is out investigating crimes and bringing criminals to justice, the teens are experiencing the ups and downs of teenage life—including love, anger and jealousy. Tim’s kids also have to adjust to their new home and new school.”
Starring: Kelli Williams, Jonathan Scarfe, Rhys Matthew, Dion Johnstone and Luke Perry, among others.
Could watch

Another Life Netflix (returned 10/14/21 for SEASON 2)
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. Glad it got renewed!
Trailer for SEASON 2: scary! https://www.renewcanceltv.com/netflix-releases-another-life-season-2-premiere-date-official-trailer/?utm_source=newsletter-300&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WeeklyRCTV
“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.”
We LOVE this; RENEWED for SEASON 2 

*You Netflix (returns 10/15/21, for SEASON 3)
Embarrassed to say I checked this show out of curiosity and got hooked; watching the entire series On Demand. Followed it to Netflix, but on my own.
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 2 moved from NYC to LA, and is “loosely based on the author’s second book in the series, Hidden Bodies.” It is MUCH creepier and very hard to watch parts of it. Twists and turns as well, but compelling. Acting is stellar.
Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting Of Hill House) will be the new stalking victim, opposite stalker/murderer, Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl) in this “psychological thriller.”
Pedretti will play Love Quinn, 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.”
Also adding Chris D’Elia (Undateable and Whitney), Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham), James Scully (Heathers), Marielle Scott, Charles Barnett (Russian Doll, Chicago Fire), Melanie Field (Heathers), Magda Apanowicz (Continuum), and Jenna Ortega (Jane the Virgin). D’Elia will play Henderson, a designer-hoodie, black Ray-Bans, expensive sneakers-wearing famous comedian with a ‘hard-life-lessons, man-of-the-people’ thing working for him.” Taylor plays Will, who “deals with unsavory sorts as part of his job, but is himself a thoughtful, personable, and highly intelligent guy who marches to the beat of his own drummer. That is, until he gets trapped in a bad situation….Scully will play Forty Quinn, Love’s (Pedretti) beloved brother, Forty is confident, opinionated and privileged—at his best, a charming buddy; at his worst, a razor-sharp bully. He’s been working a 12-step program with all the sincerity (and smugness) he’s got, relying heavily on his sister for support and attention. But it never takes much of a shove for him to fall back off the wagon….Scott will play Lucy, an edgy-chic literary agent with a deadpan wit and a sense of humor about her own LA-ness. Her career-driven nature is balanced by her earthy partner, Sunrise and their toddler. … Ortega is Ellie, a teenager who grew up fast in the big city, Ellie likes to act and appear older than her years. Secretly living with minimal supervision or nurturing in her life, she must take care of herself and isn’t afraid to get into murky waters to make a little cash. This includes working cons on the adults around her, including Joe Goldberg….Barnett will play Gabe, Love’s (Pedretti) oldest friend and closest confidant. He’s a successful acupuncturist and psychedelics aficionado living L.A. life to the fullest….Field will play Sunrise, a stay-at-home mommy blogger who raises a toddler with her partner, Lucy, in their gorgeous Venice Beach home. A New Age wellness aficionado who’s monetized her interests with a popular Instagram, she’s the cheerleader of her friend circle. Apanowicz will portray Sandy, a woman from Joe’s past with an infectious smile and restless spirit. She has been beaten up by life….Ambyr Childers plays Candace, Joe’s ex-girlfriend. It really did not end well. He thought she was dead. Turns out, not so much. She’s alive, and feeling less than forgiving. She appeared in four episodes in Season 1″ and is returning for SEASON 2, somehow. Also coming in for SEASON 2 is Adwin Brown (Heathers, The Fosters, Adam Ruins Everything, Scorpion, The Middle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), to play “A ‘true West Coaster’ who’s a mix of both meditation and stress, Calvin manages a high-end grocery store, and although he feels his life is more together than most, working at an unconventional store for some unconventional bosses tests him.”
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.
Will keep watching, reluctantly; RENEWED for SEASON 3

The 4400 The CW (reboot premieres 10/25/21)
Did you watch and love the original USA Network sci-fi series, The 4400? I watched all 4 SEASONS and loved it. It’s coming back, but not until 10/2021. This reboot (a “reimagining”) will be on The CW, from the original series’ writer, Craig Sweeny, and Taylor Elmore (Justified). “Over the course of recent history, four thousand four hundred [4400] young adults in their reproductive prime have gone missing all over the world—-some disappearances happened as recently as a few weeks ago, while others date as far back as the infamous day the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957. One day in 2019, all 4400 show up at the sites of their original abductions. None of them has aged a day; none has any memory of where they’ve been. The so-called ‘4400’ must grapple with their return to a changed and hostile world… and also contend with the reality that they’ve come back altered in ways that none of them yet understand….
“An empathetic social worker (Joseph David-Jones, Arrow) and hardened community corrections officer (Ireon Roach, Candyman) are among the civil servants called upon to deal with the uncanny refugees. The new partners clash in ideology and approach, but gradually find they have more in common than they thought as they become familiar with those under their care, including: a lawyer and resilient young mother from the early aughts (Brittany Adebumola, Grand Army), whose unexpected reunion with her estranged husband (Cory Jeacoma, Jersey Boys) and suddenly teenaged daughter is immediately rocky; a WWI Army surgeon fresh from the Harlem Renaissance (TL Thompson, Broadway’s Straight White Men); an influential hidden figure from the Mississippi civil rights movement (Jaye Ladymore, Empire); a black sheep reverend-scion born to a notable televangelist family in 1990s Chicago (Derrick A. King, Call Your Mother); a seemingly shallow but misunderstood D-list reality TV star (newcomer Khailah Johnson) from Miami, circa 2015; and two wildly different unaccompanied teens, a vibrant girl (newcomer Autumn Best) whose bell bottoms give away her 1970s upbringing, and an introspective, prescient boy (Amarr Wooten, Liv and Maddie) whose origin remains a mystery. These unwilling time travelers, collectively the 4400, must grapple with their impossible new reality, the fact that they’ve been returned with a few… upgrades, and the increasing likelihood that they were brought back now for a reason they’re only beginning to understand.”
Very cool.
We’re looking forward to this

The Wheel of Time Amazon Prime (SEASON 1 releases 11/19/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
By the late Robert Jordan, this sprawling fantasy book series with LONG books captivated my son as a teen and young adult. It is “one of the most popular and enduring fantasy series of all-time, with over 90 million books sold. Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organization called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity.”
We’ll try it

Annie Live! NBC (airs 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) will be Annie.
Of course!

Carter WGN (returns 12/17/21 for SEASON 3)
We like Jerry O’Connell, usually, so we tried this. SEASON 1 was iffy, but it got better.  SEASON 2 was off to a stupid start and got worse. We’re disappointed.
Carter’s character got sillier and kept “breaking the fourth wall” (talking in asides to the audience, or to other characters about the show as a show) for unknown reasons, throughout the SEASON, including the final Episode, a “cliffhanger,” according to him!
It’s a police procedural in which a TV actor returns to his small Canadian town and people make him a police consultant, convinced he knows more than he actually does from having played a detective on TV in a successful series. We also like a lot of the CBC‘s series, so this boded well.
However, the writing is mostly terrible. They make O’Connell’s character too buffoonish and everyone else is drawn 2-dimensionally and stereotypically. Many of the plots, though, have some twists, so maybe it’s not hopeless.
For SEASON 2: Andy Berman (Psych, Rosewood) was showrunner and Executive Producer. We liked both of those shows, but this SEASON was mostly awful.
Also starring: Sydney Tamiia Poitier (yes; Sidney’s daughter!), Kristian Bruun, Joanne Boland, Sherry Miller, John Bourgeois, Vijay Gill, Matt Baram, Dave Leigh.
We were disappointed in SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3

*When Hope Calls Hallmark then GAC (premiered/returned 2/23/20; 12/18/21 special two-hour premiere for SEASON 2)
A spin-off of When Calls the Heart that aired all of Season 1 first on premium channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in summer, 2019, after airing the first 2 Episodes on regular Hallmark (which I did watch and enjoyed enough), now returns to Hallmark, so I can watch!
Starring many of the same characters from its parent series, including Morgan Kohan and Jocelyn Hudon, playing adult, orphaned sisters “who open an orphanage in the 1916 Western town of Brookfield. Caught between the traditions of cattle ranchers and the ambitions of a growing town, they strive to find romance and happiness while overcoming the challenges of helping the children in their care. Throughout their journey, they discover community, acceptance and love as they create the family they always longed to have.” Also starring: Ryan-James Hatanka and Wendy Crewson.
I gotta say: for a Christian station/studio, Hallmark employs more gay men, lesbians, bis and African-American/ethnic mixed individuals and those over 55 as actors than any other studio, and lets them play “regular” characters rather than playing into ‘types.” Good on them!
I’ll keep watching; RENEWED on new channel for SEASON 2
*When Hope Calls Hallmark then GAC (premiered/returned 2/23/20; 12/18/21 special two-hour premiere for SEASON 2)
A spin-off of When Calls the Heart that aired all of Season 1 first on premium channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in summer, 2019, after airing the first 2 Episodes on regular Hallmark (which I did watch and enjoyed enough), now returns to Hallmark, so I can watch!
Starring many of the same characters from its parent series, including Morgan Kohan and Jocelyn Hudon, playing adult, orphaned sisters “who open an orphanage in the 1916 Western town of Brookfield. Caught between the traditions of cattle ranchers and the ambitions of a growing town, they strive to find romance and happiness while overcoming the challenges of helping the children in their care. Throughout their journey, they discover community, acceptance and love as they create the family they always longed to have.” Also starring: Ryan-James Hatanka and Wendy Crewson, and bringing back a dead character played by Daniel Lessing and re-employing the disgraced Lori Loughlin from When Calls the Heart for SEASON 2 (how dead or felonious do actors have to be not to be hired back by Hallmark?!).
I gotta say: for a Christian station/studio, Hallmark employs more gay men, lesbians, bis and African-American/ethnic mixed individuals and those over 55 as actors than any other studio, and lets them play “regular” characters rather than playing into ‘types.” Good on them!
I’ll keep watching; RENEWED on new channel for SEASON 2

*Alien Worlds Netflix (released 12/2/20)
“Applying the laws of life on Earth to the rest of the galaxy, this series blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets. This series blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets.”
I’ll try it: I write sci-fi about alien worlds! (The Spanners Series)

Merry Happy Whatever Netflix (8 Episodes, released 11/26/20)
Do we really need Hallmark-like “holiday” (Christian only) series on Netflix? I doubt it, but some believe this will fly. Putting Dennis Quaid in the lead won’t hurt, but…is he this bored or desperate?
Written by Tucker Cawley (A Million Little Things, Everybody Loves Raymond), who will also be the showrunner and executive producer, and Pam Fryman (Carol’s Second Act) will direct. It has potential, but….
Dennis Quaid plays Don Quinn, a strong-willed patriarch who must balance the demands of his complicated family with the stress of the Christmas season when his youngest daughter comes home for the holidays with a new boyfriend. The project is envisioned as a potential anthology series. The first season takes place over the week or so around Christmas, with future seasons possibly exploring other holidays.”
We can hope…

Ben Platt LIVE at Radio City Music Hall Netflix (released 5/25/20)
We like him and his voice, so we’ll watch this.
Sounds great!

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 (LeverageComplications), 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.”
We’ll watch

*The Mind, Explained Netflix (docuseries with 20-minute Episodes; SEASON 1 released 9/12/19; 9/26/19 for SEASON 2; LIMBO 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 1 released in mid-2018; SEASON 2 for 2019; Releases 10/21/20 for SEASON 3)
We want to see but haven’t watched any of these 6 (soon to be 12) interviews, yet. For SEASON 1, Letterman talked with President Barack Obama, George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey and Howard Stern.
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 10/15/21)

Magpie Murders Masterpiece PBS (premieres in 2022)
“Based on the 2016 novel by British author, Anthony Horowitz, …starring Lesley Manville (World on Fire, Phantom Thread), Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones) 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.”
Looking forward to this

Around the World in 80 Days Masterpiece PBS (premieres in 2022)
“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, Phileas Fogg, Ibrahim Kona as Passepartout, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail Fix.”
We’ll try it

All Rise OWN (RENEWED after being canceled, SEASON 3 coming in 2022)
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.
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 not Marg Helgenberger (cast in another drama for 2022, and may return occasionally),
We love this; glad it’s been resurrected on new channel

Good Sam CBS (premieres midseason, 2021-22)
Medical drama. We like those, usually.
“A drama about Dr. Sam Griffith (Bush), a gifted heart surgeon who excels in her new leadership role as Chief of Surgery after her renowned boss falls into a coma. When her former boss wakes up months later demanding to resume his duties, Sam is tasked with supervising this egotistical expert with a scalpel who never acknowledged her stellar talent. Complicating matters is that the caustic and arrogant Dr. Rob “Griff” Griffith (Isaacs) also happens to be her father. As Griff defies Sam’s authority and challenges her medical expertise, the big question becomes whether this father and daughter will ever be able to mend their own relationship as expertly as they heal the hearts of their patients.”
Starring: Sophia Bush and Jason Isaacs, with Skye P. Marshall as Dr. Lex Trulie, Michael Stahl-David as Dr. Caleb Tucker, Davi Santos as Dr. Joey Costa, Omar Maskati as Dr. Isan M. Shah, Wendy Crewson as Vivian Katz, and Edwin Hodge as Malcolm A. Kingsley.
Sounds good

Maggie ABC (premieres midseason, 2021-22)
“Based on the short film by Tim Curcio…written and executive produced by Justin Adler and Maggie MullMaggie follows a young woman trying to cope with life as a psychic. Maggie regularly sees the future of her friends, parents, clients and random strangers on the street, but when she suddenly sees a glimpse of her own future, Maggie is forced to start living in her own present.”
Starring: Rebecca Rittenhouse as Maggie, David Del Rio as Ben, Nichole Sakura as Louise, Angelique Cabral as Amy, Leonardo Nam as Dave, Ray Ford as Angel, Chloe Bridges as Jessie, Kerri Kenney as Maria and Chris Elliott as Jack.
We’ll try it

*Sanditon PBS (premiered in 2020; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3; expecting SEASON 2 in USA in 2022)
“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.”
Justin Young (Death in Paradise, Ripper Street) and Davies, who originally created the series, will share writing duties for SEASONS 2 & 3.
I liked it; not for Mom; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3

Cannes Confidential Acorn TV, so, DVD for us (premieres late in 2021)
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.”
Sounds promising

Stay Close Netflix (8 Episodes; late in 2021)
Another intriguing series from the UK. “An adaptation of Harlan Coben’s bestselling novel of the same name, “this miniseries “follows three people with comfortable lives…and dark secrets.”
Starring: James Nesbitt (Cold Feet), Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife; The Good Fight, Deadwater Fell), Richard Armitage (Berlin Station), and Sarah Parish (Bancroft).
We’ll try it

Dalgliesh Acorn TV, so, DVD for us (premieres 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 NightingaleThe Black Tower, and A Taste for Death, sounds interesting.
We will probably like this

Annika BBC/PBS? (premieres in UK 8/17/21; looking for it in the USA early in 2022)
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’ll try it

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

Endeavor BBC/PBS Masterpiece/Amazon Prime (RENEWED through final SEASON VIII, which airs on ITV in the UK fall, 2021; expected in the USA early in 2022)
We really like this show! 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 for SEASON 8

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

Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Acorn, first; DVD acquired June, 2020 (SEASON 2 premieres on Acorn 6/7/21 and will have 14 Episodes, 2 each week through 7/19/21; look for DVDs after December, 2021; 4 Episodes for SEASON 1 began airing 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! RENEWED 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; RENEWED for SEASON 2!

The Heart Guy (aka Doctor, Doctor) ACORN TV/Nine Network (SEASONS 1 – 3 on DVD; SEASON 4 released November, 2019, on air; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
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 now watching SEASON 4 (June-July, 2020) and liking 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.
Enjoying this a lot; Watching/ed SEASONS 1 –  4 on DVD

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

*Greenhouse Academy Netflix (released 11/20/20, for SEASON 4; RENEWED 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; RENEWED for SEASON 5

Sweet Magnolias Netflix (10 Episodes for SEASON 1 released early May, 2020; returns late in 2021 for SEASON 2)
Small town life, female friendships, non-violent and romantic plots, from author, Sheryl Woods: what’s not to like? 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; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Northern Rescue Netflix (released 3/18/19; returns in 2022 or 2023 for SEASON 2)
What is it with newly dead wives as the plot line? Here’s another one, starring William Baldwin as the widower, with Michele Nolden as the departed wife. Their two children  are played by Amalia Williamson and Taylor Thorne. This one is darker and more realistic, but the benevolent sister-in-law, played by Kathleen Robertson, helps them out.
Very well-written, complex and realistic characters, not too maudlin but appropriately sad in parts. We like it a lot. Glad it was renewed.
Like this very much RENEWED for SEASON 2

Heartland Netflix [RENEWED for SEASON 15; 13 SEASONS here and on UPTV and BYU, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 14 released Jan., 2021; SEASON 15 is releasing in fall, 2021; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 10/15/21]
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

*Documentary Now! IFC (returned On Demand 2/9/19; premiered 2/20/19 for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4 but delayed return)
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 will be 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. Looking forward to 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.”
FMI: https://www.indiewire.com/2018/10/documentary-now-michael-keaton-owen-wilson-wild-wild-country-1202011119/
I liked two and may watch more; RENEWED for SEASON 4

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

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (SEASONS 1 – 3 available 12/6/19; RENEWED for SEASON 4, delayed until late 2021)
Special video, “Music of Mrs. Maisel,” released during June, 2020, of coronavirus pandemic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z036fil8ang&feature=youtu.be 
We like 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.
Love this! RENEWED for SEASON 4

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (SEASON 2 released 11/1/19; returns late in 2021 for SEASON 3)
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 3

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
target=”_blank”>http://IMDB.com
 
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

Private Eyes ION (premiered 5/29/19 for SEASON 3, but 2nd half of the SEASON is MIA…delayed; perhaps they’ll run it prior to SEASON 3?; RENEWED in Canada for SEASONS 3, 4 & 5, but no air dates for any SEASON on ION, yet [10/15/21])
Canadian TV can make some great shows, and we like this one (formerly entitled The Code). “Private Eyes is an investigative drama series featuring two strong and forever competing characters. Ex-pro hockey player, Matt Shade (Jason Priestley), irrevocably changes his life when he decides to team up with fierce P.I., Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) to form an unlikely investigative powerhouse. Angie may find Shade naïve in the way that he sees the world, but his passion and heart brings something special to her one-woman business. Shade sees working with Angie as an opportunity to redeem himself, yet he’s partnering with a woman who fundamentally believes that people don’t change. If he’s the unstoppable force, she’s the immovable object. They’ll challenge each other on every level.”


Private Eyes: Already had 3 SEASONS that aired in Canada.

Also starring: Jordyn Negri, Barry Flatman, Cleo Bennet, Kurtis Mazhari (of The Listener and Blindspot).
For unknown reasons, this SEASON stopped in late August and then resumed in early February); a split SEASON, like Suits.
Predictable, but sweet & worthwhile; RENEWED for SEASONS 3, 4 & 5

Queens of Mystery Acorn TV (DVD, for us, in 2020; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
We are disappointed by this series. We’ve watched all of SEASON 1 and were mostly bored. Too bad. Had some great graphics and some good acting (the narration is a bit heavy-handed and some characters are stereotypes), but the stories were silly to the point of dull. We will try future SEASONS, perhaps.
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), co-starring  Julie Graham (The Bletchley Circle)  and Sarah Woodward (The Politician’s Husband),  and 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 Vinall, 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.” The SEASON 1 DVD is on Amazon and it was RENEWED for SEASON 2.
We had it on DVD; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Blood & Treasure CBS (premiered 5/21/19; returns late in 2021 for SEASON 2)
We like a lot of this, but it’s very derivative (as expected).
“A brilliant antiquities expert ]Matt Barr] and a cunning art thief [NOW known to be played by Sofia Pernas (The Brave)] team up to catch a ruthless terrorist who funds his attacks through stolen treasure. As they crisscross the globe hunting their target, they unexpectedly find themselves at the center of a 2,000-year-old battle for the cradle of civilization.”
Didn’t these just get canceled (The Librarians meets Hooten & the Lady)? Amazingly, this was renewed. 
Also starring: Katia Winter, Michael James Shaw, James Callis.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Langdon NBC (premieres in 2022)
“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….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 2022)
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.
Sounds promising

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 Netflix (limited series, releases in 2021?)
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.” Eric Bana will play the Time Traveler. Rachel McAdams, the titular Wife.
Excited for this

Echo NBC (no premiere date, yet)
This was ordered to pilot for 2021. It seems that it is Stitchers meets Tru Calling. We liked both of those, so… Will try this. “A team of investigators solve the highest-profile crimes by sending our heroes into the past … in the body of the victim. They assume the victim’s identity and must race against time to prevent the crime before it happens.” From producer/creator, JJ Bailey.
Could be fun

Blood Relative  Fox (premieres 2022)
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 2022)
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 2021)
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 2022, 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.
I’ll try it 

The Gilded Age HBO (later in 2021 premiere date not set, yet; 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

Traces BBC First (6-Episodes; premiered 1/4/21 in UK; get DVD)
This new crime drama. woman-centered and -run, is written by actress-writer, Amelia Bullmore (Scott & Bailey, Happy Valley, Deep State, The Crown, Shameless), inspired by “an idea from crime writer, Val McDermid [I am a fan!], https://www.virginmedia.com/virgin-tv-edit/tv/traces-alibi-expert-interview has more info and a trailer. Traces focuses on three women working together at the Scottish Institute of Forensic Science (SIFA). Lab assistant Emma Hedges, Professor Sarah Gordon, and Professor Kathy Torrance [Emma Hedges, played by Windsor, Prof. Sarah Gordon, played by Fraser, and Prof. Kathy Torrance, played by Spence] use their forensic knowledge to solve a cold murder case. As Deadline summarizes, ‘When 23-year-old Emma Hedges returns to Scotland to take up a new position as a lab assistant at SIFA, she signs up to an online course that teaches the principles of forensic science. But she soon discovers that the fictitious case study has a strikingly similar and shocking link to her past.’ The source continues, ‘As Emma’s sleuthing takes her into darker corners and unlocks more and more secrets, it becomes clear that she should trust no one. It will be Sarah and Kathy’s exacting minds that reward Emma’s faith in the science that has fueled her imagination and ultimately bring a killer to justice.'”
Starring: Martin Compston (Line of Duty)Laura Fraser  (Breaking Bad)Molly Windsor (Cheat), Jennifer Spence (Travelers), with Laurie Brett (EastEnders), Vincent Regan (The White Princess), Michael Nardone (Shetland) and John Gordan Sinclair (Ill Behaviour). Directing are Rebecca Gatward (Grantchester) and Mary Nighy (Silent Witness). We’ll watch, when we can find it! Airs in the UK in late 2019/early 2020 and has a great soundtrack, apparently.
We’ll look for it on DVD in 2021 

Ongoing Shows that We Have Watched /Keep watching on DVDs or Streaming 
(UPDATED 10/15/21)

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; RENEWED for SEASONS 6 & 7, which are due out late in 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; RENEWED for SEASON 7

The Great British Baking Show [Bake-Off]  (on PBS for older and Netflix for current SEASONS]; Season 3: Holiday Edition for 2020 releases 12/25/20 on Netflix.)
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.
Definitely KEEPING


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

Herb Alpert Is…  premiered 10/1/20, LIVE, on several platforms online (see below)

Herb Alpert poster


“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!

Kinky Boots
and
42nd Street
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.
Very enjoyable

*Ozark Netflix (SEASON 3 released 3/27/20; very dark for final SEASON 4)
Did not enjoy SEASONS 2, 3 or 4 much. Watched it all, though there were dozens of murders and it got much darker.
SEASON 1 was odd, dark, violent and disturbing, but 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 liked it; very dark, especially for final SEASON 4

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).

LewisDVD2


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

*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?
Loved this

*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 BurnsPBS 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“:
https://lithub.com/watch-the-trailer-for-the-new-toni-morrison-documentary-the-pieces-i-am/ 
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.
Saying-goodbye-to-Ash-Park-768x512
“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 (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)
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.
Fabulous!

*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.
So fun!

*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

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!

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

*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!
https://www.pbs.org/video/library-congress-gershwin-prize-salutes-garth-brooks-uw7ww3/

garth-brooks-gershwin-prize-2020-billboard-embed-1583858218

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!

*Cable Girls (Las Chicas del Cable) Netflix (5 SEASONS)
An excellent 1928-31, Spain-based, somewhat true account of the beginnings of the telephone company, trade unions and the precursors to the Spanish Civil War from the telephone operators’ and other women’s points of view. Excellent writing, acting, plots and subplots that include bisexuality, transgender identity and domestic violence, women’s rights’ issues as well as the usual infidelities, class wars, crimes, lies and substance abuse/drinking problems.
Warning: DUBBED (Spanish to English), very well, and also offers subtitles if you prefer or can’t turn them off.
SEASON 3 returned about 5 months after SEASON 2; SEASON 3 about 6 months later. I enjoy this, but it’s very disturbing, in parts.  Still well-written, acted, and interesting.
Starring: Blanca Suárez, Yon González, Ana Fernández, Maggie Civantos, Nadia de Santiago, Martiño Rivas, Ana Polvorosa, Sergio Mur.
I like this, but Mom doesn’t; CANCELED

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”)

Delilah OWN (premiered 3/9/21)
I tried most of 2 Episodes and just could not continue. Why are these scripts and actors so mediocre to bad? OWN can do better. Characters are thin, plots are trite and boring.
“We just wanted to make something bigger and more broader and we wanted to ask more questions about where society’s headed, and how Black women and Black Americans are going to continue being a major part of the unfolding of American history” Creator Craig Wright (Greenleaf) said.
Starring: Maahra Hill, Jill Marie Jones and Devan Renea, with Hill in the title role.
“The new series follows Delilah Connolly, a headstrong, highly principled lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina, who left a demanding white-shoe law firm a decade ago and hung up her own shingle so she could make raising her kids her #1 priority. Now she takes on cases the big firms ignore and finds herself, more often than not, going head-to-head with the powerful and privileged as she fights for the disenfranchised.”
We hated this

Firefly Lane Netflix (10-Episodes; released 2/3/21; RENEWE#D for SEASON 2)
I had read this novel by Kristin Hannah (two of her other novels are also being made into films: The Nightingale and The Great Alone) and looked forward to this series, but it is awful.
Stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke as the adults featured in two different time periods (NOT successfully! You have to do more than change hair color or length to appear 15 years younger than yourselves!), “Kate and Tully, who meet as young girls and become inseparable best friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs, successes and failures, depression and disappointments. When an unthinkable betrayal breaks them apart, the two women go their separate ways, and it’s unclear whether they’ll ever be able to reconcile.” However, neither charatcer is all that appealing and there is nothing to recommend this. Don’t bother.
Maggie Friedman (Witches of East End, No Tomorrow) will serve as writer and show runner with co-executive producers, Stephanie Germain and Hannah.
We did not like this AT ALL; RENEWE#D for SEASON 2

Big Sky ABC (premiered 11/17/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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?”
BORING

B Positive CBS (premiered 11/5/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Ashleigh Ashford is so talented, it’s a shame to see her tied to this horrible character, plot and a laugh track. Thomas Middleditch‘s character is also not well-drawn and we don’t find either of them all that endearing. The elderly people she drives around for her paid job are awful stereotypes, as expected, and we’re not sure of the point of all that, either.
Having a storyline in which someone decides to donate a kidney to a person they barely know has potential, but this writing does not realize even half of that. Why does the donor have to be an unrepentant, possibly Dissociate Identity Disordered, sex-addled addict? Why does the recipient have to be a non-communicative, depressed, divorced (from Sara Rue, also wasted, here) dad?
Chuck Lorre Exec Produced, so, WHY is this so bad?
We hate laugh tracks and addict plots; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Cobra PBS (premiered 10/4/20; 6-Episode miniseries)
Very timely topics, but depressing. We may not continue.
“[It] deals with an unfolding national emergency that threatens to engulf the country as the COBRA committee—a team comprised of Britain’s leading experts, crisis contingency planners and most senior politicians—fights to ensure the protection of the British people. The Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff must contend with impossible political decisions whilst also wrestling with ferociously pressured personal lives. Not only do they bear the weight of public expectation and their family’s needs; they must also be mindful of their political opponents, who will use any sign of weakness as an opportunity to strike.”
Stars Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting and Once Upon A Time) and Victoria Hamilton (The Crown) “in a British political drama…about what happens in the corridors of power during a time of national emergency….Carlyle stars as British Prime Minister Robert Sutherland, while Hamilton plays his Chief of Staff Anna Marshall. Game of Thrones’Richard Dormer plays as Fraser Walker, the Head of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Killing Eve’s David Haig stars as Home Secretary Archie Glover-Morgan, Better Things’Marsha Thomason stars as Francine Bridge MP and Broadchurch’s 6ucy Cohu plays the Prime Minister’s wife, Rachel Sutherland….”
Written by Ben Richards (The Tunnel Sabotage and Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling).
We started to watch but didn’t like it much

*This is Us NBC (2-hour premiere 10/27/20 for SEASON 5; RENEWED for SEASON 6, despite being AWFUL; CANCELED)
Won multiple Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG awards, we do not understand why we disliked this show enough to avoid watching it and finally ditched it in SEASON 2 after 1.5 Episodes and haven’t watched SEASON 3 at all, together. I watched a couple and was convinced we were right. I also fast-forwarded through most of SEASON 4… Dismal.
The scripts have increasingly SUCKED. Acting is all right and even good, but we hate the characters and the story!  We continued to be underwhelmed and frustrated by the immaturity and selfishness of these characters, especially Kate and Kevin. Also, very annoying the ways they keep jumping timelines and storylines without much info or warning: CONFUSING.
The choice to spend a “lot of time in Vietnam” for SEASON 3 to give more of Jack’s backstory clinched it, for us. We already lived through that.
Starring 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), and Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot) only in flashbacks, now. Gaining Goran Višnjić (Timeless and ER) in Beth’s (Mandy Moore) flashbacks, but that won’t save this drek.
We were originally surprised by the quality of the acting and the story’s twists and turns and unexpected pathos in SEASON 1 and looked forward to more. But, by early in SEASON 2, we were OUT. The triplets are excessively juvenile and neurotic in “present” time; the flashbacks are deliberately incomplete and frustrating (but the actors who play them as younger selves are well-cast and excellent).
The main characters have younger and teenage versions of their characters played out in several Episodes throughout the series. Randall’s wife, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), had her younger father, Abe Clarke (Carl Lumbly, of Supergirl and Alias), and two younger selves [Rachel Naomi Hilson (Rise, Madam Secretary, Law and Order SVU, The Americans, The Affair, Elementary, The Slap) and Akira Akbar (Grey’s Anatomy)], with Phylicia Rashad as Carol, Beth’s mother, and Goran Višnjić (Timeless) as Vincent, a teacher of Beth.
I also professionally take strong issue with MANY writing decisions:
—1) the depiction of the difficulties in the relationship between Mom and daughter, blaming the daughter’s weight problem, self-esteem and immaturity on the Mom. That is trite, misogynistic and misleading. Plenty of people have talented, beautiful parents and do not become obese, emotional wrecks. PLUS, how could this girl gain weight, lose weight, gain weight and blame it on OTHERS? Ridiculous.
—2) Mandy Moore plays an odd version of this character, one who is much too agreeable, saintly, “nice” and tolerant, canonizing and taking inappropriate responsibility for “curing” her lying, alcoholic, weak husband to an extreme I find cloying and horrifying. Writers’ faults, I know, but, still…
—3) The parents came from dysfunctional families/bad parents and managed to become decent parents (mostly). So, why are their adult children so screwed up? The death of a parent, especially when they’re already seniors in high school, while tragic, is NOT a sufficient trauma to cause each of their many neuroses and such atrocious self-absorption/selfishness.
One highlight: Justin Hartley plays a “bad actor” very well, which is not easy at all.

this-is-us-2016

Milo Ventimiglia was/is amazing and so was/is 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. at first. But, now…
Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time, House) is becoming a recurring character for SEASON 4.
OFF OUR LIST by early in SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 6, anyway; CANCELED

Space Force Netflix (10 Episodes for one SEASON released 5/29/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
An “American comedy web television series created by Greg Daniels and Steve Carell,” starring Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Tawny NewsomeOwen 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

Dispatches from Elsewhere AMC (premiered 3/1/20; LIMBO for SEASON 2)
We could barely get through one Episode, but we were looking for Sally Field. She appeared for the last 15 minutes or fewer, and not in a very impressive role. However, each of the four who gathered near the end are set to have their own Episodes this first one was Jason Segal’s (Peter), who also wrote and directed it. Not liking it much, so far.
The narrator is slimy; “Simone,” the trans character (Eve Lindley), is not discussed as such, so what is the point of that casting? I have no experience with the person playing Fredwyn (André Benjamin [3000]), but what is the purpose of assigning him such an odd name that they spend minutes discussing it oddness?
Seems to be trying too hard to be unusual, which results in artifice and silliness, so far, and a study in how gullible people can be and/or howto start a cult.
An “anthology television series created by and starring Jason Segel….Four ordinary people feel there’s something missing in their lives, but can’t quite put their finger on what it is, are brought together by chance —or perhaps it’s by design —when they stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life. As they begin to accept the mysterious “Dispatches from Elsewhere” challenges, they come to find that the mystery winds deeper than they imagined, and their eyes are opened to a world of possibility and magic.”
Getting very mixed reviews; we see the reasons.
Also starring: Sally Field, Andre 3000, Eve Lindley, Richard E. Grant.
We didn’t like it; LIMBO for SEASON 2

*Miracle Workers TBS (returned 2/5/20 for SEASON 2; returns 7/13/21 for SEASON 3)
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 3

Mr. Mayor NBC (premiered 1/7/21; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
This Tina Fey series “follows a retired businessman (Ted Danson) who runs for mayor of Los Angeles to prove he’s ‘still got it.’ Once he wins, he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his biggest critic (Holly Hunter) and connect with his teenage daughter, all while trying to get anything right for America’s second weirdest city.
Also starring: Vella Lovell, Mike Cabellon, Kyla Kenedy and Bobby Moynihan.
We do not like it RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3

Bridgerton Netflix (released January, 2021; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 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 2, 3, 4

STATUS UNCERTAIN/LIMBO (as of 10/15/21)

*The Split PBS, then Sundance (SEASON 1 aired in 2018 and repeated in May, 2020; SEASON 2 premiered 5/21/20; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
“Set in the messy world of London’s high-end divorce circuit, the legal-world series follows modern marriages and the legacy of divorce.”
Starring: Nicola Walker, Annabel Scholey, Fiona Button, Deborah Findlay, Stephen Mangan, Rudi Dharmalingam and Barry Atsma, with Donna Air and Ben Bailey coming in for SEASON 2.
I really like Nicola Walker and this is the third show I’ve seen her in. Mom won’t watch. I like it enough, although it’s very depressing.
Great acting; final SEASON 3 RENEWED

Young Frankenstein Live! ABC (no premiere date, yet; near Halloween, 2021?)
“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 (10/15/21).
We’ll watch

Luther Amazon (6 SEASONS; free on Prime through SEASON 6 as of mid-2020; CANCELED for SEASON 7; FILM planned for 2022, 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; LIMBO SEASON 2, as of 10/15/21)
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; LIMBO for SEASON 2


(Thanks to and most quotes from: Women & Hollywood, http://TVShowsCancelled.com/Deadline and http://www.indiewire.com).

“The Friday TV Report” 14 + Netflix! from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom

“The Friday TV Report” 14 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 fourteenth post, for four weeks ending 7/22/16. A few returning shows and a few new ones this month.

Also, I have been steadily removing my reviews of all shows that have been discontinued/canceled since we started this posting. As of 5/23/16, I added potential new shows to watch for the fall of 2016.

BACKGROUND
My mom, 84, and I (61) 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 one year, 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.

Again, for July, 2016, I/we continue with this Report.

preview-2016 summer
image from http://www.nj.com

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), “teen” shows.

Fall TV + Netflix, 2015 – Spring/Summer, 2016
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.

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

NEW SHOWS
Weeks ending 7/22/16

The A Word (Sundance)

The A Word

The A Word is a BBC drama television series based on Yellow Peppers by Keren Margalit. The series follows a 5-year-old boy and how his dysfunctional family cope with the revelation that he has autism.” Starring Max Vento, Morven Christie, Lee Ingleby, Greg McHugh, Vinette Robinson.

This program is almost incomprehensible, for American/older audiences, IMHO. The dialog is heavily accented (rural British), volume is low, audio is poor, there is loud music playing constantly (because Joe, the child with autism, is almost always listening to loud songs on his headphones and singing along), and they all speak too quickly, often turned away from the camera. My mom gave up after about 15 minutes. I watched the first and part of the second Episodes and gave up, myself, but for different reasons.

The actor (Max Vento) who plays the main character is very good, but it is almost impossible to direct a neuro-typical child to pretend to be autistic, and this director has failed. I have been around many children, teens and adults who are “on the spectrum,” and their main “tells” are that they do not like to be touched and rarely (if ever) make eye contact. So, epic fail on both counts for this depiction.

If, however, you know people who are or you are yourself dealing with a family member who has these issues, I’m sure many of these characters’ struggles will be familiar to you. I wish they hadn’t tried to throw in so many other “family issues” (infidelity, racism, in-law issues, middle-aged/senior sexuality, just in Episodes 1 & 2), because there are plenty of topics to cover in learning about and handling a child with autism. I hope they get more into how the community copes as well, since many others are affected/involved by a special needs child, aged 5, who keeps “escaping” their home, roaming the roads unattended.
Not keeping, but some will appreciate this show.

The Match Game ABC
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).
Probably keep watching, but totally ridiculous.

NETFLIX Premier dates for 2016 (some are not new shows, but they’re new to us):
[We don’t know anything about these show, below, but may check some out.]
Stranger Things – July 15
The Get Down – August 12

NEW/AS YET TO BE SCHEDULED on TV
For the summer/fall of 2016:

This is Us NBC

*Making History Fox

The Blacklist: Redemption NBC

The Jury ABC

MacGyver CBS

*The Good Place NBC

Frequency CW

Miranda’s Rights NBC

Shots Fired Fox

Timeless NBC

Broken ABC

*Doubt CBS

Great News NBC

Zoobiquity Fox

**Chicago Justice NBC

Conviction ABC

Emerald City NBC

**Bull CBS

The Death of Eva Sophia Valdez ABC

Pure Genius CBS (10/27)

Bunker Hill CBS

Marvel’s Most-Wanted ABC

Drew CBS

Notorious ABC

**Presence ABC

Time after Time ABC

Imaginary Mary ABC

Pitch Fox

RETURNING SHOWS (tried and liked, up until now… Won’t comment on them all, but a few are worth mentioning.)

The Great British Baking Show PBS July 1
Somehow our recording system missed the first show, so we are catching up later. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the second Episode, “Biscuits,” even though I was slightly disappointed. I had been hoping to learn how to make American “biscuits,” but the British use that word for “cookies,” even for “savory” ones.

Still 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.
Keeping and highly recommended, if you like cooking shows.

Suits USA July 13
Not a fan of prison stories or settings, my mom and I are not sure we’ll keep watching this season’s SUITS disaster. We usually like this show, but Rachel (Meghan Markle) is now almost always crying or whining, and the over-the-top machismo exhibited by all the other main male characters is ridiculous.

They have painted themselves into a horrible corner, putting their lead character, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) in jail and bankrupting the law firm. They also make Mike a complete idiot, falling for obvious scams and ruses on his first days in the Big House. He’s supposed to be a genius, though?
Disappointed and may not keep watching.

*Halt & Catch Fire AMC August 23

AS YET TO BE SCHEDULED, Returning

Longmire (Netflix)

Humans (scheduled for late in 2016, UK; early 2017, USA) AMC


From Previous New Shows’ Reports
(only some are kept for more than a few postings, below)

The Great British Bake Off
It’s on again with new contestants and it’s excellent! 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.
RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. Wish we could taste the entries!

Blindspot
Got very confusing, very dark, and now, completely off the rails (killing off two main characters). Why?
May not watch Season 2

Rosewood
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 and Tara (Anna Konkle) and with their depiction of Annalise’s reaction to Rosie’s news about her husband’s murder ().
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 is not looking good.
Keeping this, tentatively.

Quantico
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.
Watched the entire year but hated the poor visibility and convoluted storylines

quantico-abc

Colony
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.

Colony

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 to the series’ website and choose your side and see what you get into there! http://www.colonytv.com/
Keeping this one.

*The Magicians (new to me, Season 2)
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, for now

*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2/8/16)
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.

Full Frontal
Definitely keeping!

*The Catch 3/24/16
Watched both of the first two episodes and are hooked by 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 is unfamiliar to me as are Rose Rollins, Jacky Ido and Elvy Yost, comprise a strong cast.

The Catch
Good to see Sonya Walger in another eveil beauty role: she’s so good in these!
Keeping.

*Preacher AMC (May)
I watched the first (Pilot) Episode of this and I’m sure my mom won’t like it. I don’t really like it, either. Stars little-known actors, Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Lucy Griffiths, which is great, but such weird/awful characters! Seth Rogen and his co-creators, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin, seem to enjoy the idea of alien intervention (possessing the bodies of religious Christian evangelical leaders) around the globe, with some mysterious “men-in-black”-types (wearing brown) chasing after them/it, a bit too much.
Also, as usual, unnecessarily violent (warning: bodies explode messily several times) and plain bizarre. May watch one more Episode, but maybe not. A dearth of female characters (only two of note) and unlikable protagonists make this mostly unwatchable.
Off my list.

*Cleverman Sundance (May-June)
Very odd characters reside in a sci-fi view of a post-apocalyptic Australia. Humans try to quarantine and control “Inhumans,” or “Hairies,” as they are known in derisive slang. The show has difficult-to-understand dialogue (Australian accents and not-so-great production values for sound), overly trite plot and theme devices (slavery/enslavement, illegal immigration, betrayal by “coyotes”) to convey, as usual, very harsh social attitudes towards those who are different.
Also, even worse, the writers chose to include many pseudo-Aboriginal paranormal components which I found to be insulting to the indigenous cultures’ beliefs and rituals. Why do sci-fi writers try to usurp/appropriate existing religious and cultural traditions and then depict them inaccurately?
Unnecessarily violent (so many shows are, now) with an anti-hero and no likable characters throughout Episode one: not worth anyone’s time.
Off my list

*Feed the Beast AMC (6-5-16)
Jim Sturgess and David Schwimmer are fine in their roles, but I didn’t like the premises at all, nor all the violence and threats.
Another mafia trope? More still-using addicts? Another mute child? Almost no LIVING female characters?
Why?
I watched the first Episode and won’t continue.
Hated it. Off my list.

The Tony Awards (CBS special, 6-12-16)
James Corden hosted. He’s no Hugh Jackman or Neil Patrick Harris, but we were open. He did not disappoint. Great outfits, also!
From the opening statement in support of diversity (referencing the horrific murders at Pulse in Orlando the previous morning) to both opening numbers to many one-liners and audience moments (interviewing his dad was hilarious!), Corden provided great fun and info throughout. We were quite teary during the final opening segment including children—with a mini-James Corden-like kid—and all of the nominees, sending everyone who aspires to act and perform the message that “This could be you up here.”
We LOVED the Car Karaoke segment (I had already seen the longer version online, but it was new to my mom) and it inspired us to start recording James’ Late, Late Night TV show just to see more of those.
We especially enjoyed the outdoor mini-performances done by portions of each of the this year’s nominated casts of musicals, singing songs from past Tony-winning shows, for an enthusiastsic outdoor audience. We hope the Tony producers keep this feature in future years!
Very moving tributes, commemorations and reminders of the tragedies in Orlando from several winners and presenters, which were wonderful to hear. Great cameos and presentations from some of the greatest Thespians of all times, including Glenn Close, Cate Blanchett, Neil Patrick Harris, James Earl Jones, Carole King, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin,Marlee Matlin, Audra McDonald, and BARBRA!!!
http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/tonynight/presenters_and_performers.html#sthash.3SrXJ1sv.dpuf

2016 Tony awards

Maya and Martin (NBC)
If you like “humor” that requires sexism, racism, classism, size-ism (both weight and height), derogatory yet unfunny imitations of famous people and boring sketches mixed in with mediocre musical numbers, many unnecessary (and probably wildly expensive) costumes and wigs peppered with insipid silliness, you’ll love this show.
They referred to the 1960’s and 1970’s successful variety shows headlined by Carol Burnett, Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie and others, but this show was so bad that it was insulting even to mention those greats during these half-assed performances.
Best sketch was the kidnapping/”Ransom of Red Chief” bit done by Nathan Lane and Martin Short, and it was not that great. Best musical number was the duet medley done by Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph, but it could have been so much better. What was the point of those horrible stools?
Even Tina Fey, Nathan Lane and Steve Martin couldn’t save this train wreck.
Skip this one.

**Brain Dead CBS (June 13)
The creators of The Good Wife brought us this seemingly political dramedy, but it’s really an aliens-ZOMBIE-like premise. Yuck.
Mary Elizabeth Windstead, Tony Shaloub and many others ordinarily good actors are complete wasted in this campy version of how mentally deranged politicians are (do they really need the device of alien brain parasites to prove this?).
Mom wanted to watch. She said: “It was okay for about 20 minutes. Then the bugs came on. I had to turn it off and erase the entire series. it gave me nightmares for days!”
Off her list.

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award given to John Williams (June 20) (TNT)
This was so delightful! Highly recommended if you are a film fan of Spielberg, Lucas, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and/or Williams’ amazing decades of film scores. Great bio info and slides from his entire career.
Wonderful comments and tributes (whoever wrote those is a genius!) from so many wonderful actors, directors and musicians. Truly worthwhile to honor him and worth your time to watch.
RECOMMENDED

RETURNING SHOWS Reviewed previously
Stitchers FreeForm
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

Scorpion CBS
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!
Predictable but interesting. Good for laughs.

NCIS New Orleans CBS
Good start to the new season. Like the new character played by Shalita Grant (female, African-American, kind of snarky and good at her job).

Shalita Grant
Shalita Grant, on her own Instagram account.

Keeping

**Grey’s Anatomy ABC
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.
Keeping

Scandal ABC
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?

How to Get Away with Murder ABC
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.
Too dark without much to redeem it.

Blue Bloods CBS
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. I watch it, but don’t love it.

Blue Bloods

Keeping

NCIS CBS
Definitely going to miss Michael Weatherby for 2016-17.
Keeping

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. FOX
Got very dark and too violent. Probably not keep watching for next year.
Not liking it much any more

Bones Fox
Glad they didn’t keep Hodges so crabby.
Keeping

The Blacklist NBC
Glad Lizzie isn’t dead, but this show is off the rails for real.
Keeping, for now.

Madam Secretary CBS
GREAT SHOW! But how can it keep its title if she’s now VP?

MadamSecretary

Definite keeper.

**Hawaii 5-0 CBS
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Chicago P.D. NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**NCIS Los Angeles CBS
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Law and Order—SVU NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Criminal Minds NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Chicago Fire NBC
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

*Being Mary Jane BET
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.

Being Mary Jane

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

The Librarians TNT
Fun and satisfying.
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.”

the-librarians-season-2
image from http://www.tvline.com

Good show.
Keeping.

Elementary CBS
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

On Netflix, new seasons of Jessica Jones and Longmire are now promised for later in 2016, which we LOVE! And, Grace and Frankie returns on May 6! Yeah!

Sherlock BBC
Yippee! Yahoo! Best BBC return-to-season EVER! Fabulous reunions and loved the “premise” (No spoilers, here). How great is Benedict Cumberbatch?
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!

*Call the Midwife BBC
Excellent characters, based on real-life stories. I love this show.
Keeping

Suits USA
Michael (played well by Patrick J. Adams), is going to prison? Rachel, played well by Meghan Markle (but still dressed inappropriately vampy), is 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 are decades-long friends, which shows) and lines but not much to do.
Gina Torres as Jessica still wears too much white and is also too vampy in her costuming but is righteously angry and protective, both. Louis is still the most richly drawn and has the most fun stuff to do, and all done very well by Rick Hoffman.
Best unexpected gift acting as Donna’s alternate assistant to either Harvey or Louis is enlivened by Aloma Wright, who is funny, strong and interesting all the time. Also glad to see D.B. Woodside back as Jeff: he’s FIERCE! Appearances by other former characters give the season the feeling of “ending” as well, so we’re happy to enjoy Shelia Sazs, Stephen Macht (yes, Gabriel’s IRL father), Abigail Spencer and others’ returns, even if only for a few minutes.
Keeping, but not happy about it.

*When Calls the Heart Hallmark
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.

When calls the heart

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.
KEEPING

Grace & Frankie (on Netflix) Season 2 (May-June)
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.
Will keep watching, but so far, disappointing.

*The Americans TNT
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

*Orphan Black BBC
Cool return.
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).

Orphan Black 2

Saving Hope (ION, from CTV) (Season 4 and series ended in 2016, but I’m catching up)
I used to watch this show online and then “lost” it after Season 2. So glad I found it again! It’s a medical drama with a twist (Dr. Charlie Harris sees and talks with the spirits of dead and comatose/anesthetized people), with all the Grey’s Anatomy soap opera romances and medical procedures. I seem to like these types of shows a lot, and this one is especially good because of the paranormal aspect.
Starring Erica Torrance and Michael Shanks (he’s the one with the visions) and a great supporting/otherwise starring cast make this fun to watch.
Fascinating looks into being an intern and having to choose a “specialty; lesbian/bisexuality in the context of Orthodox Jews; when to “pull the plug” and how one would know (clues embedded into Broadway show tunes, once); organ donating; problem pregnancies; medical heroism; divorce, dating, (in)fidelity and amnesia (twice; you have to watch); and parent-adult child issues.
Keeping until I catch up

The Night Shift (Season 3 started 6/1/16) (NBC)
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.

The Night Shift

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

*Devious Maids (returns June 16 for Season 4) Lifetime)
This show is delightfully silly but also, quite insightful about race and class and the oppressions suffered and visited upon Latinas in the LA region(and elsewhere, I’m sure) who are working as domestic servants for the very wealthy. Has Ana Ortiz, (a professor who posed as a maid), and Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes as ongoing maids, with Susan Lucci, Rebecca Wisocky, Tom Irwin, Brianna Brown, Brett Cullen, Mariana Klaveno, and Grant Show in other main roles. There a great many other guests and recurring stars who came from other daytime or evening soap operas and/or Desperate Housewives making appearances.

Devious Maids 2

By some of the same producers and writers (notably, Marc Cherry) of Desperate Housewives, and with a funny cameo by co-producer, Eva Longoria, the creation loop is this: The plot is based on the Mexican TV series, Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar, which translates in English as “They Are the Joy of the Home,” and which itself was heavily influenced by Cherry’s previous series Desperate Housewives.
Guilty pleasure; Keeping

Rizzoli & Isles TNT
R & I‘s last season! So sad!
My mom and I both like this show a lot: Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander (we loved her on NCIS as well) are great as a sister-like collegial team, and the supporting cast, while somewhat stock, are fun to see them engage with during each crime-solving journey. Jordan Bridges is a great also-Detective (now), younger brother, with Lorraine Braco as their caring, somewhat hovering and funny mom/surrogate mom.

Rizzoli and Isles cover

The new (final) season’s storyline, of Isles’ TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is very realistically and well-written, but ‘way too close to home, for me (I suffered one similar to Isles’ about two years ago; still recovering).

We like seeing strong, intelligent, competent women working as a team instead of competitively. Thanks, TNT! Should be more shows like this one.
KEEPING

Major Crimes TNT
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.
Keeping

Royal Pains (final season, summer, 2016) (USA)
Mostly silly, now, but we’ve watched every season before this so have to finish it out. Like Scorpion, we put in quarters for every absurd street-side medical improvisation they feel compelled to include (favorites are restaurant tracheotomies [with ball-point pens, of course]; and poolside or beachfront thoracotomies [with drinking straws and pocket knives], both of which I’m sure I could do at this point)!
Stars Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Reshma Shetty, Brooke D’Orsay, Ben Shenkman and recurring roles filled somewhat stiffly by Henry Winkler, Campbell Scott and Jill Flint. Not very well-written or credible, but somehow the scenery (The Hamptons) force us to watch.
Finishing

“Family-Friendly” is a Thin Disguise for Discrimination: They are on the Wrong Side of History

“Family-Friendly” is a Thin Disguise for Discrimination:
They are on the Wrong Side of History

Who else is on the “wrong side of history” regarding expressions of and legal sanctions toward and behaviors sourced by prejudice, bias, discrimination, hatred against ethnic, racial, religious, gender and other social identity groups?

Adolph Hitler. Austria and Germany. George Wallace. Richard Nixon. Phyllis Schlafly. Anita Bryant. The United States of America. Several Catholic Popes. Margaret Thatcher. Great Britain. Mao Tse Tung. China.

The list is, unfortunately, endless, if we keep going into history and across the globe. Humans seem to have an unlimited ability to be irrational and small-minded.

Fortunately, we do learn. We do grow. Some more slowly than others, as we see all too often, but change we do. One of the main ways people change is through exposure, a personal “eye-opening” moment that educates them (“leads them out”) away from their irrationality and biases.

The other way is through enforcement, such as the enlightened few and the majority collaborating to change the laws that require citizens to change behaviors accordingly. When behaviors change, minds can follow: not always, and not completely, as we see with the laws of integration and other civil rights for Blacks in the USA NOT eliminating racial biases and racism, but these are certainly steps in the right direction.

The current social and political landscapes—right here, right now—are changing rapidly with respect to fairness, acceptance and legal rights for those with all sexual orientations and gender identities exactly as they did with racial intolerance in the 1960s.

As usual, some are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into this new way of being. They are simply not keeping up, are they? Laws often get “ahead” of some people’s mindsets. AREN’T WE LUCKY? The haters may keep on hating, but they have no legal, moral or individual “right” to impose their “opinions” any longer.

Some definitions, for those unclear on these concepts:

3definitions
from: http://littlelaughter.wordpress.com

bias-prejudice-discrimination-5-638
from http://pt.slideshare.net

Current circumstances:
I am an author who publicly proclaims myself a feminist. Anyone who knows me or reads me online or reads my books also knows I am Buddhist, Jewish, and bisexual, and I am vocally an anti-discrimination, anti-oppression activist.

I am also a reader who occasionally does reviews. Therefore, I do agree that each reviewer has the right to refuse to review any book we do not want to review. We do not have to give reasons, either.

However, I do not agree with the opinions, prejudices and biases this reviewer expresses when she gives some (but not all) of her reasons for discontinuing her reading of and refusing to review my book.

In fact, when we allow such actions to be fueled in these ways, not commenting, not confronting, we are aiding and abetting the institutional oppression rampant in literary circles. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” is never truer than in these circumstances.

Some would say that she would have been off not saying anything, but since she did, here we are.

Read below and comment, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

After finding me on a reviews-seeking site, this reviewer emailed me, saying that she wanted to review all three books in The Spanners Series. She wrote a few days later, saying she had started and was liking my first book.

Then, the next day, this potential reviewer sent me this email:

From: xxx

I will not be able to review your books. I have just come to a part that is [sic] conflict with my site. I have a family friendly blog and your book contains content that my readers would find offensive. It would also put at risk some of my advertising spots on my site that demand only family friendly content.

I understand that you were just trying to get across the point about non-discrimination but your content concerning sexual affiliation will not work with my site.

Best of luck to you,

xxx

“Hi, xxx,

“I have no idea what you mean by ‘not family-friendly’ or ‘offensive,’ since my books are accepted by ‘[Facebook authors’ group],’ a strict group on Facebook which promises readers fiction that won’t make them recoil. For example, I use no swear words stronger than ‘damn’ or ‘shit,’ there are no explicit sex scenes, no gratuitous or obvious violence, and no traumatic scenes in my books: they are PG-13.

“If you are objecting to any mention of or acceptance of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities to heterosexual or straight people or cis-gender people, if that would be something you or your followers find ‘offensive,’ then, please: DO NOT READ MY BOOKS.

“And, by the way, discrimination, bias and prejudice are NOT ‘family-friendly’ to any families I would want to be connected with, ever. Use of that terminology to describe what you are perhaps claiming is absurd.

“Since more than 10% of every population of humans on this planet are actually gay, lesbian or bisexual and at least 5% are transgendered, whose families are you ‘protecting’?

“If what I am assuming, in fact, are your positions, I find your views to be extremely offensive, and so would most of the rest of the world, at this point in time. Marriage equality and sexual identity acceptance are legal in many countries, including this one, and discrimination is NOT.

“I welcome you and your readers into the 21st century any time you’re ready to come.

“If I have misunderstood, I apologize. Please explain. I would welcome your further description of what, exactly, is ‘in conflict with’ your site and specifics as to your presumptions about your advertisers’ objections to the content of my books.”

Sally

She responded:

From: xxx

What is offensive is that you mention any sexual affiliation at all. I would not blurt out in a book that I was heterosexual. I would not refer to sex at all. It is irrelevant and has no place in a family friendly book. You can have any sexual orientation you want and that is your business but I don’t have to and will not promote it on my site. The fact that you felt you needed to make a political statement with your book is your business but I won’t be a part of it.

As I said Good Luck to you but I will not be doing this review.

xxx

Curious as what others who might be “in her camp” would say, I posted our email exchange on the group site I am part of, the one I mentioned, above, and asked for opinions.

I received the following anonymized responses (I didn’t include them all; some are repetitive or off-topic).

Then, I wrote a few responses, below.
Why do I bother? Because Education.

stop_prejudice_now_prop_watermark
from: http://teachersteachfromtheheart.blogspot.com

“Need[ Facebook Group members]’ opinions, please! Just had this exchange with a potential reviewer and I’m burning mad. (She approached me, BTW, asking to review my books via a [reviews-seeking/reviewers-finding site] last week!).

“She emailed me this earlier today…” (same as above, posted)

FB group’s responses:

From AAA:
“She has the right to her viewpoint, and I don’t think she should be dressed down, scolded, or insulted for it. I thought your words were rather condescending and insulting.

“OTOH, she should have done her research first before approaching you, and rather than try to take YOU to task for what she didn’t agree with in your books, she should have just politely said ‘sorry, I was wrong, it’s not going to work out this time.'”

From BBB:
“The old saying I’ve tried to remember is not to lower oneself to another’s level in order to argue or debate. It’s not ever worth it.”

From CCC:
“It’s her site, she can do as she wishes, just as you are able to write about anything you want to. This enters into the forbidden realm of writers who snap at reviewers for not liking what they wrote. She didn’t give you a bad review on her site, which she could have. She simply declined to review at all. It could have gone a LOT worse for you.”

From DDD:
“Sally, I totally get where you’re coming from, having experienced this kind of reaction (my books include gay characters who are treated as normal people). I’m living vicariously through your email because I’ve wished I could say something like that to reviewers who’ve one-started me because of it. smile emoticon But I’m inclined to agree that it’s better to steer clear of these rhetorical boondoggles. I’d just let this go and get on with writing. Your audience is out there, but it’s not this lady or her blog followers.”

From EEE:
“It’s her site. She is entitled to her opinion and the way she manages her site. We have our rules here, but IMHO, even shit and damn are not family friendly. She was polite. I’m sorry that you were not.”

From FFF:
“I have to say also, the reviewer could have gone ahead with her review, as she’d promised you one. She could have been completely open and honest about her opinion, and put it on her public site.
“Instead, when she saw it was something that she didn’t believe she could endorse, she privately messaged you, letting you know that she’d have to back out.
“This was gracious of her to do.
“So to be treated badly was not something that I feel she deserved.”

From GGG:
“PG-13 does not constitute ‘family-friendly’ in my mind. I have a 9, 7 and 4 year old, and I don’t even let them watch most PG movies.”

From HHH:
“Unfortunately, I have to agree with what many others here have commented. In addition, I have to point out that you ASSUMED her problem with your book was the fact that there are gay characters. She simply wrote that she came ‘to a part’ that conflicted with her site. The thing that may have bothered her could’ve been profanity, or whatever else is in your book. It can be dangerous to reprimand someone for their stance – especially since she could always turn around and decide to write a poor review, or even one-star your book.

“On a personal note, I write both Christian AND secular stories (things that would give Junot Diaz a run for his money in the department of shock value). So I can honestly say that even the words you listed are not ‘family friendly,’ meaning appropriate for all ages. As far as homosexuality is concerned, I have a #LiveAndLetLive philosophy on life. That means that I do not judge someone else for their lifestyle choice. However, that doesn’t mean I want my six year old reading about it. Again, it’s a subject not necessarily appropriate for all ages.”

From Me:
to HHH: “She came right out and stated what her concerns were. I didn’t assume what she objected to at all. I assumed her reasons, because she did not state them. Also, I did not expect any 6-year-olds to read this book; it’s way too complicated and sophisticated. PG-13 is the rating i always state. Thanks for your comments, though.”

From JJJ:
“Wow. And she was so polite…”

From Me:
“Since when are expressions of bias, prejudice and discrimination ‘polite’??? If her objections were obviously about my having Jewish or Black characters, would you be defending her ‘family-friendly’ smokescreen???”

From JJJ:
“She made her reasons for choosing not to include your work on her site clear to you in a very polite manner. Tolerance works both ways.”

From Me:
“To JJJ and others here: I appreciate all your comments, but for some of you, I am disappointed. SOME don’t seem to know the difference between being ‘impolite’ and being against someone else’s being discriminatory, Number 1.

“Number 2, it is not the job of those who are not being tolerated to return such intolerance with tolerance. I was not ‘impolite’ to her: I was direct and I expressed my thoughts and feelings. I did not call her names, I did not insult her.

“Remember: she VOLUNTEERED to read my books and had already sent me an email prior to this saying how much she was enjoying the first one. Then, she came to a part she didn’t ‘tolerate,’ which she and her groups, of which some of you are obviously members, seem to think it’s just fine to insult and demean. That is plain wrong. She doesn’t have to like it. She could have just said “It’s not for me” and DNF or not even written me. But, she chose to ‘explain.’

“Those who are not heterosexual or cis-gender do not deserve to be treated as if we are threats, are wrong to be ‘this way,’ or by our very existence, are ‘problems’ for ‘families.’ We ARE in families!

“I will defend to my dying day the right of all who are discriminated against to object strenuously to such discrimination, wherever it appears, however ‘nicely’ it is phrased.

“Maybe some of you are too young or didn’t have these experiences, but I grew up in Missouri under Jim Crow laws. I grew up with signs on stores and country clubs that said : ‘No Dogs, No Jews, No Niggers Allowed.’ Should I have greeted those racists with ‘tolerance’????? I am a Jewish, female bisexual. Our country is in the exact same place now with LGBT rights and biases as it was then with Jews and Blacks.

“Remember when women weren’t treated as ‘humans,’ weren’t allowed to vote, sit with men, drive, own property? Would you all be so ‘tolerant’ if she had said her ‘family-friendly’ group doesn’t want to read books with autonomous female characters, that all women be subservient to their families’ males to be considered ‘family-friendly’? Whoever doesn’t see the connections, here, I’m sad for all of you.”

From JJJ:
“Comments about the relative politeness of exchanges of views are not an automatic acceptance of intolerance or prejudice. In fact they are no comment at all about the relative merits of the content of the exchange – just the manner in which comments have been delivered.”

From Me:
“Thanks for all of your ideas, comments, and responses, here. Group. I am sorry that some of you still believe that strongly worded disagreement is ‘impolite,’ but we’re going to have to agree to disagree, there. Best to you all.”

hate-crimes-305
from: http://www.calgary.ca

Okay, Followers/Readers and Other Peeps: Weigh in! What do you believe/do?

Please leave comments on this blog! Thanks! Best to you all!

1) Should we authors all just “be polite” when confronted with reviewers’ prejudices?

2) Should we authors “be silent” when potential or actual reviewers express their biases and refuse to “serve” us at the “review” lunch counter because our books or characters don’t meet with their “approval” (don’t have a right to exist)?

3) Is it incumbent upon us all not to allow any reviewer to give or imply that their personal, political, religious or other biases as/are sufficient “reasons” for refusing to review a book? Or, do you recommend letting that go unchallenged?

4) Does simply having LGBT characters make a book “unfriendly” to “families” and/or inappropriate for youth?

“Most-Anticipated” #Films of #2015: Yeah or Nay? And, one look back at 2014 #SciFi and #Fantasy Films

My Predictions and Preferences for the
“Most-Anticipated #Films of #2015: Yeah or Nay?
And, one look back at 2014 #SciFi and #Fantasy Films

Let me start by reminding you (or letting new readers know): I am NOT mainstream. I am almost NO ONE’s “target demographic.” These films, others’ opinions, most TV shows and reviews written by others are not in harmony with my preferences and tastes. Not at all.

If YOU consider yourself “mainstream,” “typical,” “normal” or otherwise “regular,” you probably would be happier watching the video and ignoring this post entirely. Link and embed are below.

If, however, you are somewhat atypical, keep reading. Then, if/when these films become more widely available, you can let me know if your opinions match my predictions or preferences. Deal?

The 10 “regular” films, the video-maker’s opinions and my predictions, first (stay tuned for more, below):

  1. Fifty Shades Of Grey
    “A big money-maker…” Release date: Feb. 13, 2015

  2. The Fantastic Four
    “Could be a pleasant surprise…”

  3. Ted 2
    “A complete comedy classic…” Release date: June 26, 2015

  4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
    “It’s gonna look awesome, hopefully…” (He hasn’t seen Part 1 at the time he made this video, though.) Release date: Nov. 20, 2015

  5. Bond 24
    “Daniel Craig’s returning with Naomi Harris, not even released the name [title], yet…”

  6. Fast & Furious 7
    “The series is getting better and better…everyone wants to see how they put a tribute to Paul Walker [the lead actor who died in real life]…” Release date: April 3, 2015

  7. Terminator: Genesis
    Terminator 2 is one of my favorite movies of all time…and one of the highest-rated movies of all time…Arnie [Arnold Schwartzenegger] is back…A very good time-travel movie is setting up, here…” Release date: July 1, 2015

  8. Jurassic World
    “I want them to keep the Jurassic Park feeling but not be a continuation… want to see something new…”

  9. The Avengers: Age Of Ultron
    “I want to see something different and not continue Avengers… more story, more twists and turns…” Release date: May 1, 2015

  10. Star Wars Episode 7
    “It’s got a chance of getting up there with Avatar on gross…Hopefully it’s a good movie and not like the prequels…” Release date: Dec. 18, 2015

Other “anticipated” movies (my choices are marked with an *):
Blackhat
*Focus
*In the Heart of the Sea
*Jupiter Ascending
*Kingsman: The Secret Service
Mad Max: Fury Road
Outcast
*Predestination
*Seventh Son
Minions
Inside Out
Taken 3

Another list (the ones I KNOW I want to see):
*Friends: the Movie

*The Age of Adaline

*Cinderella

*Annie

Then, we have Jordan Hoffman, from Popular Mechanics, giving his/her 15 “most-anticipated” #Sci-Fi Films of 2015, which are overlapping many of the above.

Most of these are not original (remakes; sequels or expansions of “franchises”; adaptations of books, comic books or T.V. shows), but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them, if you’re able.

This list even provides release dates, so you can plan your budget, schedule date nights, get your passes in advance, make your costumes.

There are a few from this list I do want to see; most, not interested. Again, I marked my faves with a *.

*Jupiter Ascending, Release Date: February 6
“…this interplanetary adventure featuring Mila Kunis as some sort of unknowing space queen and Channing Tatum as her guide beyond the stars promises to be far-out.”

Furious 7, Release Date: April 3
“The huge international ‘family’ of good guy criminals have returned for a bittersweet chapter in this series.”

Ex Machina, Release Date: April 10
“Oscar Isaac is the genius inventor tucked away in a slick-looking home and Domhnall Gleeson is the young employee summoned to meet Ava (Alicia Vikander) a creepily sexy android….this could be the stand-out mid-budget sci-fi flick of the year.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron, Release Date: May 1
Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, and Maria Hill back together again, and this time they’re fighting Ultron, an artificial intelligence designed for peace that (surprise) brings just the opposite. New additions to the mix include Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision, because superhero teamups are awesome.”

Mad Max: Fury Road, Release Date: May 15
“…a bone-cracking ride through a dusty apocalyptic wasteland. The stunts look insane and the high-velocity action promises to reach out from behind the screen, grab you by the back of your neck, and smash your face in the gravel.”

*Tomorrowland, Release Date: May 22
“It may just be one gigantic advertisement for Disney’s Magic Kingdom, or it may be a whiz-bang universe-hopping tale of futurist poptimism. More than likely, it’s a little of both.”

Jurassic World, Release Date: June 12
“…Steven Spielberg isn’t directing and Michael Crichton (obviously) isn’t involved, but in the middle of the summer there’s nothing better than seeing a bunch of dinosaurs stomping around while humans line up as fodder, right?”

Terminator: Genisys, Release Date: July 1
“Arnold himself will return for this one, and he’ll be joined by The Khaleesi from Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke.”

Ant-Man, Release Date: July 17
“Paul Rudd is Scott Lang, a small time crook who ends up with scientist Hank Pym‘s technology for getting really really small. Michael Douglas is onboard as Pym, and Peyton Reed, who directed Down With Love, is at the helm.”

The Fantastic Four, Release Date: August 7
“…a somewhat dysfunctional group of scientists and weirdos blessed/cursed with superpowers.”

*The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Release Date: August 14
“Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin….Guy Ritchie is directing this gadgets-friendly flick, so this will be definitely be one to ogle. …it stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”

*Spectre, Release Date: November 6
“It’s pretty much the same production team as Skyfall, so there’s not much more to say except ‘shaken, not stirred.'”

*The Martian, Release Date: November 25
“Matt Damon…plays a marooned astronaut on a Martian colony. Of note: the book upon which this is based was originally self-published by its author on Amazon. So keep hope alive, ye amateur novelists!”

*Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Release Date: December 18
“J.J. Abrams is igniting the hyperdrive to a galaxy of new stories. This first one will be a bridge – we’ll get Luke and Han and Leia, but who knows how big their roles will be or if they’ll return again. Chances are this is going to be the most spectacular film of the year…”

Mission Impossible 5, Release Date: December 25
“[4 was]…an exhilarating ride…. Tom Cruise…[in 5] will be just as exciting.”

If you want to view #trailers and read more about from Jordan about each of the above sci-fi films: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/digital/visual-effects/15-sci-fi-movies-most-anticipated-in-2015#slide-1

For another opinion about some of these ranked differently, annotated, check KIRSTEN ACUNA’s list:
http://uk.businessinsider.com/biggest-movies-2015-2014-12?op=1

Link to original video for above’s Top 10:
http://youtu.be/pVwhiLIksd4

Video to watch here:

In case you missed any already released in 2014, here are:
“The 10 Best and 10 Worst #SciFi and #Fantasy Films of 2014,” according to Charlie Jane Anders
http://io9.com/the-10-best-and-10-worst-science-fiction-and-fantasy-mo-1672135627

Happy Watching!

#SMASHWORDS READ TUESDAY 12/9/14 and beyond, #EBOOKS SALE!

Read Tuesday 2 logo

To counteract “Black Friday” and all the other rampant consumerism in the days surrounding the winter holidays in which people spend many dollars (or abuse credit) in service of items that do not enhance their lives significantly, SMASHWORDS and many authors have gotten together to create a great new holiday: READ TUESDAY on 12/9/14.

http://readtuesday.com/contact-us/ for #authors to learn more/sign up.

http://www.sallyember.com/blog on 12/8/14 for links to my books!

Don’t just buy stuff! BUY BOOKS!

Many #Smashwords authors are offering discounted or free books on, before, and after this date. Visit Smashwords to find out what you can get!

swlogo

Remember: as always, authors appreciate your downloads and purchases and other readers very much appreciate your posting comments, rankings, ratings, and reviews on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, nook, Goodreads, Shelfari, BookLikes and elsewhere! Please support indie authors during the holiday season!

Here are my two Smashwords READ TUESDAY sale offers, both ebooks in The Spanners Series, unique sci-fi/ romance/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian novels for youth and adults.

logoAuthorsDen

Get both and be all caught up in time for the release of Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things To Change, some time in the Spring of 2015!

Use COUPON CODE NH97X for 25% OFF at Checkout for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II of The Spanners Series, 12/9/14 – 1/2/15.
Usually $3.99, now $2.99 for this sale! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969

final cover print

This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, is FREE every day! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-contests 600 x 900

If you already own my ebooks PLEASE POST REVIEWS!

And, if you’re feeling “flush” and would like to donate to support THIS author, there is a DONATE button on my website: http://www.sallyember.com

Read Tuesday logo

#SMASHWORDS READ TUESDAY 12/9/14 and beyond, #EBOOKS SALE!

Read Tuesday 2 logo

To counteract “Black Friday” and all the other rampant consumerism in the days surrounding the winter holidays in which people spend many dollars (or abuse credit) in service of items that do not enhance their lives significantly, SMASHWORDS and many authors have gotten together to create a great new holiday: READ TUESDAY on 12/9/14.

http://readtuesday.com/contact-us/ for #authors to learn more/sign up.

http://www.sallyember.com/blog on 12/8/14 for links to my books!

Don’t just buy stuff! BUY BOOKS!

Many #Smashwords authors are offering discounted or free books on, before, and after this date. Visit Smashwords to find out what you can get!

swlogo

Remember: as always, authors appreciate your downloads and purchases and other readers very much appreciate your posting comments, rankings, ratings, and reviews on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, nook, Goodreads, Shelfari, BookLikes and elsewhere! Please support indie authors during the holiday season!

Here are my two Smashwords READ TUESDAY sale offers, both ebooks in The Spanners Series, unique sci-fi/ romance/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian novels for youth and adults.

logoAuthorsDen

Get both and be all caught up in time for the release of Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things To Change, some time in the Spring of 2015!

Use COUPON CODE NH97X for 25% OFF at Checkout for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II of The Spanners Series, 12/9/14 – 1/2/15.
Usually $3.99, now $2.99 for this sale! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969

final cover print

This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, is FREE every day! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-contests 600 x 900

If you already own my ebooks PLEASE POST REVIEWS!

And, if you’re feeling “flush” and would like to donate to support THIS author, there is a DONATE button on my website: http://www.sallyember.com

Read Tuesday logo

NOT DOING #NaNoWriMo Writing Plans

People keep asking me: Are you doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)?
I say, “No.”
They seem surprised.

I decided to explain.
Here are my NOT DOING #NaNoWriMo Writing Plans:

    1. Job-hunting. Must do. Have to get some income besides the trickle of pennies my 2 ebooks currently provide. Hope to add GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT to my list of November activities by November 30, which is more important than adding thousands of words to my computer. For me. This involves writing: cover letters, emails, queries. Hundreds of words. To people (or ‘bots….).

    cover-letter-words

    image from http://www.nerdwallet.com

      2. Marketing Ongoing. Trying to upgrade my trickle of ebooks’ sales’ pennies to a stream to a flow to a… .well, you get the idea. Includes blogging, tweeting, commenting on others’ blogs, guest blogging, reblogging with comments added, promoting my ebooks in The Spanners Series, begging for more reviews for my ebooks, writing reviews on Goodreads and posting them to Amazon of books I may get a chance to read and review, promoting my G+ HOA, *CHANGES*, and hosting the almost-weekly talk show on Wednesdays (10 AM EST USA).
      This involves writing: blog posts, site posts, tweets, comments, reviews, promos, emails (mostly to *CHANGES* guests and reviewers). Hundreds and probably thousands of words. For social media.

      begging

      image from http://www.rexrobotreviews.com

        3. Writing novels Ongoing. I am about half-way through Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series and wish to finish it this fall. I had planned to finish Vol III and work more on Vol IV, which I’ve barely started, by the end of August but a serious accident/concussion postponed achieving these goals by many months. I also have to finish collecting and reworking the researched bits that belong to these Volumes and perhaps future ones. This includes coming up with and agreeing on a cover design for Vol III with my cover artist, Aidana Willowraven.
        This involves writing: For the rest of Vol III and I hope some of Vol IV, Changes in Attitude/Changes in Latitude, as well. Tens of thousands of words. For novels.

        Cut pieces of paper with text on SEO theme. Isolated on white.

        image from http://thenovelfactory.blogspot.com

          4. Editing/Proofreading All of the above require both, and perhaps I will do some for hire (I hope). I’m available. Will negotiate: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com
          This involves writing by rewriting, hundreds and thousands of words, many times. For improving all writing. Everywhere.

        needs-to-be-edited

        image from http://hsquiresnovels.com
        (“edit” should have quotes around it…)

        Why am I not doing NaNoWriMo? I’m BUSY writing!

        I wish I could take a month and work only on ONE novel/project!

        Good luck to all who are doing NaNoWriMo!

Book Sales are like PotLucks: You Don’t Know Who Appreciates Your Creation

Authors and potluck cooks have a lot in common. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, especially since I set Volume I of The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, as permanently free.

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8 

How does any author know who actually reads our ebooks, much less appreciates them, as opposed to going by assessments based on the raw numbers of how many people now have it on their ereaders? Do sales figures really equal popularity and does popularity actually correlate to appreciation? How could we possibly know that?

potluck dishes

image from: http://1000awesomethings.com

I, as a cook, would bring a homemade dish to a potluck feeling a mixture of pride, anxiety and hope, my mind brimming with questions as I lay my dish on the table: Will anyone take any? Is it pretty enough? Does it taste good enough? Who will like it? What if there are others similar to mine, but theirs are taken while mine is left mostly untouched?

casserole with small portion taken

image from: http://www.allfreecasserolerecipes.com

This Changes Everything now has about 2000 combined sales and free downloads since its release in December, 2013. However, it only has a dozen or so reviews (mostly positive, especially by those who actually read the entire book!). Unfortunately, sales/downloads and positive reviews of Volume I do not seem to be leading to sales or reviews of Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, which released for $3.99 in early June (after selling in pre-orders for half-price for two months).

final cover print

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

People at a potluck line up to look at the food offered in casserole dishes, baskets, pans and plates. Rarely does anyone list ingredients or even names of the food/dish, so it’s all a guessing game. Hungry, we ask: What is it? What is in it? Will I like this? Will it taste good along with the other things I’m taking?

Furthermore, knowing that the cook will rarely, if ever, know what I think of his/her contribution, I can safely leave it on my plate after one taste if I do not like it. Likewise, readers who download ebooks never have to report to anyone, much less an author, whether or not they even looked at the ebook, much less offer their opinions after reading an entire book.

The remains of potluck dishes’ portions taken and not eaten are not evaluated: they are invisibly trashed. Similarly, ebooks on ereaders can be stories that the owner never reads or only glances at, but the author will never know. Readers may like the ebook, even love it—eat it all up (I’m liking this metaphor) and even share it, rave about it to friends—if we’re lucky, they’ll review it. Or, readers, like potluck eaters, may feel any of a dozen ways about what they take in but never say a word to anyone about their reactions.

Yes: I’d very much like to sell a lot more books, but even more importantly, I’d like to have a lot more reviews, enjoy the positive comments, interactions and feedback from happy readers, be certain that at least some owners of my ebooks are glad to be in possession of my creations.

I “cooked” for you: I want to know if you tasted my concoction. How much of it did you ingest? Tell me what you think of it. Will you come back for more “food” from this “cook”?

Cooking-up-a-Tasty-Story

image from: http://www.towriteastory.com

A plea to readers
If you like a book, PLEASE respond to what you read. Put comments on Goodreads, rate/rank the books, post reviews on book sales sites (Amazon, nook, iBooks, Kobo) or Shelfari, BookLikes, etc. We authors (cooks) will be forever grateful to hear your opinions, even if you don’t like what we create. You help us become better “cooks.”
THANKS!

A DNF (Did Not Finish) Experience Does NOT Qualify for a “Review”

As a writer and as a reader, I am a genre outsider. I don’t write or read squarely within any genre except Speculative Fiction, but that is so large as to be considered a literary category and not one genre (see previous post, https://sallyember.com/2014/07/10/guest-post-the-politics-of-speculative-science-fiction/, for what belongs within Spec Fic).

Furthermore, I don’t usually like what is published in most of the #SpecFic subgenres. I don’t even like their plots or characters. Same goes for #Romance. I often have to label books Did Not Finish (DNF), although I reserve even that designation for books I read a great deal of before abandoning.

DidNotFinish_purple_Banner

image from http://www.prettyinfiction.com by Jesse Burgoyne

Here are the reasons that I often Did Not Finish (DNF) a book. Books on my DNF list feature:

  • zombies and other horror characters/plots, especially “damsel in distress”;
  • dystopian, apocalyptic downers;
  • space wars, medieval wars, any other wars;
  • combat/violence masquerading as plot points;
  • instant, superficial romance (humans with humans or humans with aliens, shapeshifters, vampires or whatever);
  • gratuitous sex or violence (meaning, does not advance the character development or plot, and appears every so many pages, anyway);
  • military characters, past/future or pretend;
  • “instant” solutions, usually involving a main character’s finding a lover, to serious grief or other problems;
  • sexist, racist, misogynistic, heterosexist/homophobic, classist, ageist and other oppressive depictions of characters, even if they’re “realistic” for the characters or eras
  • clichès, trite plot twists, 2-D characters, and /or other types of bad writing
  • too many typos, grammar or other mistakes that reveal the absence of or very poor editing
  • nothing interesting, so I’M BORED.

As you might imagine, this list includes most speculative fiction and romance books.

You now understand the main reason I almost never do “review swaps.” I so strongly dislike other people’s books/stories, even when they’re relatively well-written, that I can’t even read past the first few pages for most of them. I have tried to read and review them, especially when they are well-written or the author is someone I wish to support for other reasons, but I just can’t appreciate what I don’t like.

Unlike other reviewers who find themselves unable to finish a book because they don’t like it, I don’t post a “review” of an unfinished book unless it’s written by a well-established author whom many others are praising. In those cases, I post my dissenting viewpoint just to round out the PR for that book, knowing my minority, low opinion won’t crush or crash them.

Otherwise, I don’t post my many DNFs with ratings and I do not post “reviews.” I strongly wish other DNF readers would adopt my policy.

It is completely unfair for anyone to give a “professional” opinion (which is what a review purports to be) of a piece of literature the reviewer hasn’t completed. I’ve had some “reviewers” read a few dozen pages of my 300+-page books and then have the audacity to post a ZERO or one-star “review.” What is the justification for that? When they label a sarcastic or dissatisfied DNF response after having read only a few pages a “review,” that infuriates me.

I don’t mind that some readers DNF my books. I understand that some don’t like them. I also encourage readers to comment on any books they want, all they want. As a frequently dissatisfied reader, myself, I empathize with DNF experiences. Sometimes, I explain.

I object strenuously, however, when these DNF readers label their preliminary reactions and comments a “review.” Even more heinous is that some have the gall to rate their DNF books.

In what other profession or situation does a “professional” who has had only a brief experience with the piece become entitled to the right to judge it? Can an Olympic judge watch just a few seconds of the gymnast’s floor exercise routine, then rate it? Do we allow a jury to hear only one witness or just a few words of testimony and give a verdict? When do we ever allow a teacher to give a semester’s grade after briefly meeting the child or giving just one quiz?

DeadLast

image from mackenzian.com

Yes: not all readers finish books or even read most of a book. I am a reader who has a list of titles pages long I have done that with because they did not hold my interest. However, for fairness and professionalism, I strongly request that readers and especially reviewers who DNF not to rate or review those books. Please.

It is fair and helpful, meanwhile, for professional reviewers and avid readers to maintain a DNF list and even to share it. Better would be that we explain a little about our DNF reasons, but that is not expected or required (we’re busy!).

dnf-recap

image from mylifeinbookss.wordpress.com

I hereby proclaim: these are fake reviews, due to the readers’ DNF status. DO NOT READ DNF “reviews.” DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT THEY WRITE. DO NOT SUPPORT “REVIEWERS” who postDNF “reviews.”

One bonus: Within a DNF‘s comments are sometimes witty lines. Those I am pleased to re-post, just for fun.

Meanwhile, back in authors’ support land: please don’t ask me to do a review swap. I mostly do not do reviews, anyway. I do not consider myself a “professional” reviewer. I am just an avid reader and an author.

When I do choose to read a book and finish it, I will post a review. I promise.

Mostly, these days, #Iamwriting my books and blog posts.

Best to you all.

16 Ways I Use #Goodreads

I’m wondering how you, as a reader, use Goodreads? What about if you are an author: do you visit often and use it? How do you use #Goodreads?

Goodreads logo

At first, I just visited, as a #reader. I noticed what books are being featured or recommended (paid ads or in groups’ discussions), what types of groups there are, what groups are active, and what lists exist on Listopia. I marked books I had read and ranked a few, but didn’t write any reviews or read any.

As a reader, I now have: 905 ratings | 102 reviews | avg rating:4.10

When I began to come closer to launching my first book as an #author, I re-established myself on Goodreads with an author page. I added the nonfiction book I had co-authored many years ago, then I added my first science-fiction/romance ebook to my page.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember

As a reader/author, my use of Goodreads changed a lot after that. I began not only to list books I had already read, but I started to use Goodreads as a kind of readers’ journal, and I:

1) put books on my “want to read” shelf. This means Goodreads posts and could email me (but I shut that down) “Recommendations” based on what I read and ranked highly.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/15085128?shelf=read

https://www.goodreads.com/recommendations

2) put books on my “currently reading” shelf and kept up the status of where I was in reading each one (I usually read several books simultaneously, one or two nonfiction, one or two fiction.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/15085128-sally-ember?shelf=currently-reading

3) began to acquire friends/fans and to respond to “friends” requests moer promptly.

I now have 1005 “Friends” and dozens of “followers”: I have 83 “fans”; follow almost 288 GR members (mostly authors or reviewers) myself
https://www.goodreads.com/friend

https://www.goodreads.com/user/15085128-sally-ember/followers

https://www.goodreads.com/author/fans/7237845.Sally_Ember

https://www.goodreads.com/user/15085128-sally-ember/following
(GR has an algorithm, like Facebook, that limits how many new “friends” a person can add per day, so sometimes I added an author or reviewer as a “fan” or “follower” instead. It seems arbitrary and silly, to me, but that is the deal. This policy means I seem to have 295 “favorite authors,” but that just means I had to become a “fan” rather than a friend, so this list includes authors I support but haven’t read anything from, yet.)

4) joined several groups as a reader, several more as an author, and started one of my own, as an author.

https://www.goodreads.com/group

5) made an effort to keep up with “notifications” from these groups, responding when I felt inspired, commenting or asking questions occasionally. I also get some notification sent directly to my email, but I don’t read them in both places.

6) posted about my own ebook(s), including their launches, pre-orders, sales, becoming permafree, reviews (needing and getting). I also posted each of the related videos (author readings, Q & A, Book trailers) on my Author’s Page and my own Videos page. I also created and will create launch “events” on GR for each ebook’s sales launch date. If I had print books, I would/could do “giveaways,” but GR doesn’t provide avenues for ebooks giveaways (yet).

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/7237845.Sally_Ember

https://www.goodreads.com/videos/list_author/7237845.Sally_Ember

7) linked my Goodreads page to my blog so that the feed appears on it and put a Goodreads widget on my blog that shows what I’m reading.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember/blog

8) linked my Goodreads reviews to my blog and Facebook pages so that my reviews and activities appear on those.

9) voted on and added my ebooks to lists and voted on others’ books on Listopia; also became more aware of and using Shelves more and putting books I’m reading/want to read on Shelves.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18772075-this-changes-everything

This Changes Everything cover

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21841757-this-changes-my-family-and-my-life-forever

final cover - digital and web

I have also listed my Series as a Series on GR, which means it can appear on those pages/groups that seeks series books.

Scroll all the way down on any book’s page to see its first lists and then click on “more” to see pages and pages of lists my ebooks are on. VOTE on them, please!

10) added more books to my ‘want to read” lists to support other authors, especially those who became my friends/fans.

11) noticed what books others in my groups, friends/fans communities had read/were reading and put some of those on my “want to read” lists.

12) began to write an ongoing status/review and final review of every book I was reading, which then posted on my blog and on Facebook. These comments and activity appear on my author’s page as recent “updates.”

13) recently began pasting those reviews from Goodreads onto Amazon for those books, with the rating and slight editing (when necessary). I have a way to go to “catch up,” but it’s a good way to remember what I’ve read these last 12 months or so.

14) developed a new interest in and respect for book reviewers, prolific authors, new authors, and readers who populate Goodreads, reading more of the posts to groups and noticing their authors’ pages and blogs. I

15) followed a few of the blogs I saw excerpted on Goodreads due to what I read on these authors’ pages.

16. added “metadata” to my books and plan to add more. This is a tricky maneuver I needed help from a GR “Librarian” to accomplish and don’t know much about accessing on my own, but apparently this data helps my ebooks appear in more searches.

Please comment on how YOU use Goodreads and what you think of its usefulness to the readers/authors communities! Thanks.

Happy reading, reviewing, writing, commenting, ranking, voting, and shelving!