“The Friday TV Report” 73, for 5/7/21,
from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom, Carole Harris
GET vaccinated as soon as you are able. Please keep wearing masks, regardless of mandates. Stay outdoors or open windows indoors when with others, STILL. Mom and I are fully vaccinated as of April 20, 2021, except for whatever boosters we will need this summer or next winter!
For British TV series fans, here is one updated list (as of February, 2021) of upcoming premieres/returns, with descriptions: https://www.denofgeek.com/tv/best-returning-british-tv-series-2021-the-most-anticipated-series-coming-back-this-year/.
For The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fans: their DELAYED release for 2020, of SEASON 4 (which will be probably going into production this spring, 2021, for fall, 2021 release) is necessary.
Meanwhile, this especially fun, music-focused, promotional video was released during June, 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z036fil8ang&feature=youtu.be
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, 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 Regularly Added to, on YouTube Channels
(many also on TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and their own pages)
For lockdown/quarantine fun, inspiration, comic relief, amazement at talent, political parodies and heartwarming-ness (be sure to SUBSCRIBE and LIKE so they get their ad revenue!):
—MisCast (MCC Theater) and Broadway Backwards (Playbill.com/video) offer delightful renditions posted on YouTube and elsewhere of songs from many shows and popular genres sung by the opposite or nongendered singers instead of the usual characters as designated. Fabulously talented people! MANY numbers and years of numbers.
WARNING: Unless you like stripteases, nakedness and simulated sex acts and actual groping on stage (gay, lesbian, hetero, unknown), do NOT go to Broadway Bares (and some of the above videos automatically go there at their ends, for unknown reasons!).
—Claire Ryann Crosby is an incredibly talented child singer who started me on this musical video journey, and she is truly amazing! Her dad (Dave), mom (Ashley), younger siblings and she comprise a musical family of great virtuosity and humility, both. Their videos and guest spots on Ellen are entertaining and inspiring, starting from when Claire was only 4 years old! Check them ALL out; she is now 7. She and her dad (on guitar) do many duets, and sometimes her mom accompanies on the piano, her younger brother (Carson) joins in, and soon, the younger sister (June) will, also. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfrREf-q6PbTxNgsB5XAp6A
Mat and Savannah Shaw another daddy-daughter duet team well worth exploring, especially if you like popular, somewhat Mormon/Christian, and wonderfully sung duos. Start from their first video and then go in order for a great progression of their confidence, Savannah’s voice, pre-recorded to live accompaniment, and the entire duo’s path: from singing in their house’s closet and then lip synching to seem “live,” to a professionally recorded album coming out, now! They even have a fan club and you can support their recording costs. As of December, 2020, they have two albums out and some streaming concerts!
—The Marsh Family is an extremely talented British nuclear pod of 4 kids and 2 hetero parents. They all sing, play multiple instruments, create/contribute to timely parodies and lyrics and generally have a great time. Even the Huskie gets into the act! Go back to 2019 and watch them all!
—–The Holderness Family offers songs, dances and other stuff (mostly sung, including ALL harmonies, by Daddy Penn, and choreographed by Mommy Kim, “creates original music, parodies, and Vlogs for YouTube to poke fun of themselves and celebrate the absurdity in circumstances most families face in their day-to-day life.” They often include wry and hilarious appearances by their children, Lola (now, 13) and Penn Charles (now, 10).
—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 and 2020! 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.
—Roy Zimmerman is a San Francisco Bay Area resident who does (and has been doing, for decades) original, funny, witty political parodies as well as other songs and some covers, solo with his guitar and sometimes with other musicians and Zoom collaborators. I got to see him perform LIVE in St. Charles, Missouri, a few years ago, and he is GREAT!
—Sandy and Richard Riccardi have been around longer than I have (and that’s LONG), using her well-trained, great soprano voice and his piano playing and harmonies to create witty political parodies and other cabaret numbers, “comedy, jazz, classical, political satire and otherwise. Mostly otherwise.” So FUN!
—Emma’s Revolution is the singer/songwriter duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy O, “whose songs have been sung for the Dalai Lama, praised by Pete Seeger, and covered by Holly Near [where I’ve seen them several times in concert]. With beautiful harmonies and genre-defying eclecticism,…” these feminist, activist musicians have each written, co-written, and performed for decades, and now do many political parodies and fundraisers. LOVE them!
—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!
—Jordan Rabjohn is a UK middle school music teacher who sings alone, with his amazing mother (also a smashing vocalist), and some gifted middle-schoolers in a variety of music videos, some made from his home with his mom. Bring tissues!
—Lauren Mayer Comedy Songs wins for fastest parodies written, after the debacle of the presidential NOT-debate in September, and many other timely lurical gems are excellent and entertaining, often to her own piano accompaniment. Very talented and fun performer/writer.
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.
I (Sally) update this ever-changing post of TV viewing news plus our ongoing mini-reviews and premiere/return dates, renewal/cancellation status, and other tidbits for SOME of the hundreds of specials, series and live performances aired on non-premium cable TV, PBS, Amazon Prime and Netflix, with a few shows from other networks, premium cable (HBO, Showtime, Epix, etc.), and Canadian, Australian and UK TV (CBC, Acorn, BBC, SKY, BritBox), that become available later on DVDs via our local library.
Next full post = 5/21/21
Officially postponed from early June, 2020, and new date not announced, yet, is our favorite awards show, the 74th Annual Tony Awards. Nominations were recently announced (late February, 2021). The entire ceremony will be online (date TBA: “the delayed Tony Awards ceremony will be scheduled in coordination with the reopening of Broadway”). Voting has already occurred (March 1-15, 2021).
James Corden will host (again), likely. https://brockelpress.com/2021/02/08/this-year-the-74th-annual-tony-awards-will-be-a-virtual-production-heres-your-printable-ballot/ FMI and to vote. Also, here, for updates: https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Tony-Awards-Voting-Has-Officially-Begun-20210301
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.
Some great DVDs (documentaries) we/I recently enjoyed and highly recommend (borrowed from our local library, but, with the quarantines in place, check if your library has re-opened; ours did, then re-closed, but we can request things and do curbside pickups!).
—Miracle of Miracles: The Making of Fiddler on the Roof
Also, this aired on/around 11/13/20 on Great Performances, PBS, which means it’s online, as well.
—Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins
—Mike Wallace is Here
Newest plans for viewing network and cable TV channels in the USA (and a few new shows on Netflix) for 2021 (most are recorded to watch at our leisure), and a bit beyond. Full descriptions appear later in this post. Once we have weighed in, they appear below this section in “Yay,” “Nay,” or “Maybe.”
I watch some by myself (while coloring; these are marked with one asterisk *; when Mom watches alone, usually after I go to bed, these are marked with 2 asterisks, **.
Returning shows are in regular italics; new shows are in bold italics:
5/6/21— Girls5eva Peacock TV releases
5/7/21—Jupiter’s Legacy Netflix releases
5/21/21— Solos Amazon Prime releases
5/23/21—Summer Olympics in Japan begins on NBC
5/26/21—*The Bold Type returns on Freeform
5/28/21—The Kominsky Method final SEASON releases on Netflix
6/6/21—The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors, CBS
8/15/21—Chesapeake Shores returns on Hallmark
9/10/21—**Emmy Awards 2021, CBS
12/17/21—Carter returns to WGN
NOT YET KNOWN, 2021 return/premiere dates:
—Evil returns on CBS
—*The Split returns on USA
—DVDs or Roku channels for latest SEASONS of *Younger, The Orville, Brokenwood Mysteries, *The Handmaid’s Tale as of 11/21, The Good Wife, The Heart Guy, *A Discovery of Witches, Queens of Mystery, Midsomer Murders as of 11/21, and others we can’t get on regular channels.
–—ABC‘s next live musical, Young Frankenstein Live!
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 (5/7/21) 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 73rd post, for 5/7/21
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays)
Next full post, 6/4/21
Regarding late-night shows
(which are often repeated in the early morning hours):
—we both watch/ed James Corden‘s musical skits, “Carpool Karaoke” and “Broadway at the Crosswalk,” when they were on the regular channel (we don’t get iTunes shows) and catch them now on YouTube, but not the rest of his shows’ segments;
—we watch(ed) 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 watch(ed) The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but I only watch(ed) a few bits, usually on YouTube, later (“Lip Sync Battles,” e.g.);
—Mom watch(ed) 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 5/7/21). If a show is on a “regular” station (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), I don’t always list the station.
image from Pixabay
800 Words (seems cute, but we could only watch a few Episodes free)
9-1-1 (Good for SEASON 4; RENEWED 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)
All Rise (we really like this one; okay for SEASON 2) CBS
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 SEASONS 8, 9, 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 6; RENEWED for SEASONS 7, 8)
Chicago PD (Okay for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASONS 9, 10)
Chicago Fire (Okay for SEASON 9; RENEWED for SEASONS 10, 11)
Cypher The Roku Channel (we liked this!)
D.C.’s Stargirl (Watchable & unexpectedly funny for SEASON 1; DELAYED for SEASON 2); The CW
Doc Martin PBS for 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)
Endeavor PBS (RENEWED through final SEASON 8)
F.B.I. (Good enough for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
F.B.I.: Most Wanted (okay for SEASON 2; RENEWED 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)
*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.
*Good Girls (good enough for SEASON 3; not great for SEASON 4)
Grace & Frankie (Netflix, DELAYED for final SEASON 6; only OKAY)
*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 5/7/21]
Janet King (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
*Last Tango in Halifax PBS (LIMBO for SEASON 7)
Lewis (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
Lupin Netflix (We like this a lot; split SEASON 1, winter/summer)
Luther (we liked this enough, but it’s violent) 6 SEASONS on AMAZON; LIMBO for SEASON 7)
Manifest (intriguing; Okay but confusing for SEASON 3)
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)
*mixed-ish (I like it; okay for SEASON 2)
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Acorn/DVD (We liked this a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
New Amsterdam (We like this; RENEWED for SEASONS 4, 5)
NCIS (Okay for SEASON 18; RENEWED for SEASON 19)
NCIS New Orleans (Okay for FINAL SEASON 7)
Northern Rescue Netflix (We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Nurses (from Canada; all right) NBC
*Ozark (FUN to see “my” lake! Okay for SEASON 2; Netflix; RENEWED for final SEASON 4)
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)
Prodigal Son (great writing, but DARK; okay for SEASON 2)
Rebel ABC (we loved this!)
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)
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 4)
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 Bold Type Freeform (Great for SEASON 4; RENEWED for final SEASON 5)
The Brokenwood Mysteries (we like this a lot; DVD for SEASON 7)
The Coroner (we like SEASONS 1 & 2; RENEWED for 3; on The CW)
The Good Doctor (okay for SEASON 4)
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; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (DELAYED for SEASON 4)
The Orville (but moved to Hulu for final SEASON 3; so, DVD for us)
The Politician Netflix (2 SEASONS already out; DELAYED for 3)
The Queen’s Gambit Netflix (7 Episodes; fabulous!)
The Resident (Good; good for SEASON 4)
The Rookie (Good; good for SEASON 3)
*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; DELAYED for SEASON 4)
Van der Valk PBS (already aired 2 SEASONS in the UK; we like it)
Virgin River Netflix (RENEWED for SEASON 3; we like it)
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)
*Younger TV Land through SEASON 6, then Paramount + (I like this; waiting for cable to air final SEASON 7)
*Young Sheldon (Good; okay for SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASONS 5, 6, 7; SEASON 5 and all previous SEASONS coming to Nick at Nite)
*Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBC (Great for SEASON 2!)
Check our opinions against the networks’ decisions with updated lists of Canceled and Renewed/Canceled shows (UPDATED 5/7/21):
B Positive CBS (we hate laugh tracks and addict plots)
Debris NBC (contrived and boring)
Delilah OWN (tedious, trite, horrible)
Bridgerton Netflix (insipid but gorgeous; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3, 4)
Big Sky ABC (Too dark)
Call Your Mother ABC (REALLY stupid; sorry to see Kyra in this)
Cobra PBS (Could not continue)
Country Comfort Netflix (AWFUL)
Devils The CW (TERRIBLE show)
Firefly Lane Netflix (10 Episodes; AWFUL)
Law & Order: Organized Crime NBC (disappointing and boring)
*Miracle Workers TBS (bearable for SEASON 1 but not SEASON 2; RENEWED 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)
(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 SEASON 6)
Carter WGN (was fun, but mostly AWFUL for SEASON 2; DELAYED for SEASON 3)
*Chesapeake Shores Hallmark (WRETCHEDLY STUPID, usually; RENEWED for SEASON 5)
*Charmed The CW (Mom stopped watching; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Evil (too Catholic and silly, DELAYED for SEASON 2)
*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)
*Resident Alien Syfy (surprisingly engaging; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Roswell, New Mexico The CW (not so happy with this reboot; DELAYED for SEASON 3)
Supergirl The CW (Not great for FINAL SEASON 6)
The Good Fight (Excellent for SEASONS 1, 2 & 3; we DID NOT LIKE SEASON 4)
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (not great; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (treacle, but DELAYED for SEASON 7)
*When Hope Calls Hallmark (more treacle, but, somehow, I watch; LIMBO 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.]
If you want to check out the newest original series on Netflix, go visit
Best Netflix Original Series Premiering in 2021 (as of 5/7/21):
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Acorn and other streaming and DVD listings are updated constantly here: https://movierewind.com/everything-netflix/
As of 5/7/21, 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 73rd post, for 5/7/21
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays).
Next full post, 6/4/21
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 known.
Also, I have been steadily removing my reviews or expectations for/of all shows that have been discontinued/canceled since we started this series of posts in 2015, or that we gave up on watching.
My mom (89) and I (66) 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….
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 73, for 5/7/21
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 5/7/21)
Rebel ABC (premiered 4/8/21)
The subject and one of its producers is one of our sheroes, Erin Brockovich. Plus, Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19) is creator and showrunner. WE LOVE THIS! Hope it stays around a long time!
This series is “inspired by the life of Erin Brockovich today. Annie ‘Rebel’ Bello is a blue collar legal advocate without a law degree. A funny, messy, brilliant and fearless woman who cares desperately about the causes she fights for and the people she loves. When Rebel applies herself to a fight she believes in, she will win at almost any cost.”
Starring: Katey Sagal as Annie “Rebel” Bello, John Corbett as Grady Bello, James Lesure as Benji, Lex Scott Davis as Cassidy, Tamala Jones as Lana, Ariela Barer as Ziggie, Kevin Zegers as Nate, Sam Palladio as Luke and Andy Garcia as Cruz.
We REALLY enjoy this
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
Manifest NBC (returned 4/1/21 for SEASON 3)
We were intrigued by SEASON 1 of this series and looked forward to more, but SEASON 2 was disappointing, and SEASON 3 is off to a confusing and disappointing start. Too many flashbacks, fake events, “callings” that aren’t clearly “marked,” and strange occurrences, unexplained. Sheesh.
“When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible. From Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke comes an emotionally rich, unexpected journey into a world grounded in hope, heart and destiny.”
Starring: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur.
Displaced in time and wondering how to adjust? I can relate.
We sort of like it for SEASON 3
**Law & Order: Organized Crime NBC (13-episode series, premiered 4/1/21 with crossover with SVU)
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.
Supergirl The CW (3/30/21 returned 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; CANCELEDfor 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 like it
*Good Girls NBC (returned 3/7/21 for SEASON 4)
The writers of this show seem to believe that ANYONE can be a murderer, drug dealer, sociopath, thief, accomplice to other crimes, if desperate/angry enough. Very pessimistic view of humans, right? Compelling, though. Very good acting. BUT, plots in SEASON 3 & 4 are getting weirder and harder to understand, and DI still do not really comprehend money laundering.
Weird twists, especially in SEASON 3 (people coming back from the dead is very soap opera-y) is not very good, so far. Having a child therapist treat adult? Faking a pregnancy? Too much soap opera and not enough actual drama. Come one!
SEASON 2 was rough (too much violence). Didn’t like it as much, but continued.
Starring one of my faves since she was a teen actor, Mae Whitman, with two new to me: Christina Hendricks and Retta, with co-stars, Manny Montana, Izzy Stannard, Matthew Lillard, and Reno Wilson, and features many other strong performances.
Lauren Stamile (Complications, American Horror Story, Blindspot, Chicago Fire) joins for SEASON 2 to “play Gretchen Zorada, a confident, intelligent and pedigreed defense attorney working on Manny’s (Manny Montana) case.”
“When sisters, Beth and Annie, and their best friend, Ruby, become fed up with playing by the rules and not getting the respect they deserve, they band together to take control of their lives—by holding up a local grocery store. Beth’s the perfect wife and mother, but her used-car-dealing, cheating husband has sent her family into financial ruin; Ruby is happily married to a policeman but can’t afford the medical bills and experimental drugs to help her daughter; and Annie, a single mom, is caught in a nasty custody battle with her ex. In desperate need of money, the women plan the heist expecting to ease their financial burdens. But new to the game of crime, they get pulled in deeper than they ever imagined—and the only way out of this will be together.”
Strangely compelling; okay for SEASON 4
New Amsterdam NBC (returned 3/2/21, for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5)
We like this show, but SEASON 3 is sad, and SEASON 2 took several steps backward, in our view. especially since it had “calmed down” a bit before the first year’s finale, it got back on track, eventually.
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, Anupam Kher, Tyler Labine..
We wish it were more like Red Band Society and less like Bedlam.
We like it; okay for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASONS 4, 5
The Equalizer CBS (premiered 2/7/21; RENEWED 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)
Erin Krakow is good as the lead character, Elizabeth Thatcher, a rich young woman who left her safe, city family life to become a Canadian prairie teacher in a one-room school house. Yes; hers is one of my alternate reality jobs.
But, they have become more of a love-triangle/soap opera since they killed off the adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest/now husband (SEASON 5).
Chris McNally (Supernatural) and Kevin McGarry (Heartland) joined as the two vying for Elizabeth’s affections in SEASON 6: McNally is Lucas Bouchard, “a charming gambler and saloon owner who is hiding more than a card up his sleeve.” McGarry is Nathan Grant, “the epitome of the strong, silent type and takes all his responsibilities to heart as the new Mountie in town.”
Lori Loughlin was justifiably AXED due to her indictments for criminal behaviors (March, 2019).
Other characters are also “stock” and mostly two-dimensional, but I blame the Hallmark Channel‘s writers (Janette Oke and Derek Thompson, most recently, but there are 18+!) more than I fault the actors.
Also has Chelah Horsdal and many others from the Hallmark stock character stables.
The show is very sappy, predictable, silly and overly sentimental, with many stereotypes and tropes, but I still watch.
SPOILER ALERT: Elizabeth is widowed while pregnant (of course, since the film of the same name stars the character who is Elizabeth and Jack’s granddaughter).
Okay for SEASON 8
Superman & Lois The CW (premiered 2/23/21; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Introduced as a couple (Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch) with one or two sons (depending on which multiverse they were in) within the DC Universe on The CW ‘s 5-series’ Crossover Episodes of 2019-20, this new series “follows the world’s most famous superhero and comic books’ most famous journalist as they deal with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society.”
In this version, the couple has male twins (fraternal) who are just discovering their pop’s secret identity and their own powers in Episode 1, as they return to live in Smallville after Martha Kent dies and Clark is laid off from The Daily Planet.
We like it, so far, but it’s VERY modern and that is a bit jarring.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2
*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 1, part I January, 2021; part II releases summer, 2021)
Dubbed and subtitled in English, from the French: “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.
We like this a lot
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.
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 (returned 1/17/21 for SEASON 2; RENEWED 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) will play Batwoman, the first African-American 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 am into SEASON 3, but the storylines are confusing, 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….Hargrove plays Parker. President of the Phi Delta Upsilon fraternity. Parker is the quintessential upper-class pretty boy with a wild streak and a sensitive side. His charm and confidence catch Maggie’s (Jeffery) eye when he defends her from a rude customer at her waitressing job.”
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 SEASON 2; not great for SEASON 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; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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
Call Your Mother ABC (premiered 1/13/21)
We love Kyra Sedgwick, so this had promise. But we didn’t like her last series (10 Days in the Valley), and this one was so much worse. STUPID, insulting to mothers and millennials everywhere, and not worth a moment of your time. Really.
“Jean, an empty-nester mom, wonders how she ended up alone while her children live their best lives thousands of miles away. She decides her place is with her family, and as she reinserts herself into their lives, her kids realize they might actually need her more than they thought.”
From Kari Lizer (The New Adventures of Old Christine, which we never watched).
The only reason even tried this is the star, Kyra Sedgwick, as Jean Raines, but she could not save such an awful script and premise.
Also starring: Rachel Sennott as Jackie Raines, Joey Bragg as Freddie Raines, Patrick Brammall as Danny, Emma Caymares as Celia and Austin Crute as Lane.
We were right to expect this to crash and burn as badly as Pauley Perrette‘s venture into comedy this past season. Oh, well.
We barely got through one Episode
Bridgerton Netflix (released January, 2021; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3, 4)
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 ????
Off our list; insipid but gorgeous; RENEWED for SEASONS 2, 3, 4
The Rookie ABC (returned 1/3/21 for SEASON 3)
We like this, but SEASON 3’s opener was disappointing.
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, with Titus Makin, Jr., as another rookie whose father, Michael Beach, is 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 Diaz for SEASON 3.
We like it 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
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBC (returned 1/5/21 for SEASON 2)
I LOVE this show, but I love musicals and “spontaneous” song-and-dance shows in public places. Mom has joined me for SEASON 2, and she likes it.
“The series centers on Zoey Clarke [Levy], a whip-smart computer coder forging her way in San Francisco. After an unusual event, Zoey, 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 [Newell], and making a breakthrough with her ailing father [Gallagher], Zoey soon realizes this unwanted curse may just be an incredibly wonderful gift as she connects with the world like never before.”
I loved other shows in which the actors burst into song, production numbers and dance breaks randomly (e.g., Eli Stone and Ally McBeal), so I must be this show’s target demographic (for a change!).
This stars: Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Lauren Graham (not beyond Episode 1 of SEASON 2, though), Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen, John Clarence Stewart, with Peter Gallagher (mostly only on SEASON 1) and many more talented singers/dancers.
LOVE this 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 NBC (premiered 12/7/20; aired in Canada last January)
Another Canadian drama we’ll try, but it may be too much COVID for us. “Five young nurses work on the frontlines of a downtown Toronto hospital, while struggling to help themselves….[Created by t]he same team behind the series Rookie Blue, including Ilana Frank, Adam Pettle, Vanessa Piazza and Tassie Cameron.”
Mom loved Rookie Blue, so tried this.
So many medical shows, and three we’re now watching out of Canada. So, can’t be all that original, even when it tries. But, it’s okay.
Starring: Tiera Skovbye, Natasha Calis, Jordan Johnson-Hinds, Sandy Sidhu, Donald MacLean, Jr., Cathy White, Ryan Blakely, Jordan Connor.
It’s all right
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
Virgin River Netflix (released 11/27/20 for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
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 2 is 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; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Press PBS Masterpiece/BBC; DVDs for us (6 Episodes, 2018)
“Observant drama series set in the offices of two British newspapers, following the personal and professional lives of their rival newspaper editors and reporters as their industry struggles to contend with the explosion of online media and the hacking scandals of the past. The first episode sets the multi-layered tone for the series in an exploration of how influential the media can be in defining truth, as liberal broadsheet is pitted against populist tabloid, a young journalist finds his personal ethics in conflict with the demands of the real job, and the same story is represented in very different ways.”
This is very timely, and somewhat depressing, with stories about corruption in police and government, a Trump/Weinstein-like predator, and the ethics of “news” vs. news. Great writing and acting.
Starring: Charlotte Riley, Ben Chaplin, Priyanga Burford, David Suchet, Paapa Essiedu, Al Weaver, Ellie Kendrick
We liked it, but it’s very timely in a bad way
The Queen’s Gambit Netflix (7 Episodes, released 10/22/20)
Both the child (Isla Johnston) and the teen/young adult lead (Anya Taylor-Joy) versions of the main character (“Beth Harmon, the young adult competitive chess player who is determined to become the greatest chess player in the world”) are AMAZING in this, and the supporting cast, special effects and plots are fabulous. We LOVED this, but the first 2 Episodes are a bit rough.
Also starring: Bill Camp as Mr. Scheibel, her first chess teacher and friend; Moses Ingram as Jolene, a fellow orphan at the Methuen Home. Christiane Seidel as Helen Deardorff. Thomas Brodie-Sang as Benny Watts. Harry Melling as Harry Beltik. Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Townes. Rebecca Root as Miss Lonsdale.
800 Words (ran for 3 SEASONS. Released originally in 2015-16. Aired on PBS in 2019 and now is on streaming services)
Cast of 800 Words
Self-named a “sweet, refreshing family drama.” It “follows Australian widower, George Turner’s (Erik Thomson), impulsive decision to start afresh in the New Zealand coastal town of Weld, where he spent his summer vacations as a child. He quits his job as a popular 800-word columnist for a Sydney newspaper… [and]… buys a house online in a remote seaside town in New Zealand. He then has to break the news to his two teenage kids, Shay and Arlo (Melina Vidler, Benson Jack Anthony), who just lost their mom and now face an even more uncertain future….The Aussie invaders quickly become the center of attention in this small town populated by weird and wonderful locals.” Co-Created by Maxine Fleming and James Griffin ( We seem to like many of the shows produced/aired on ACORN (Australian), and this one looks good, also. We can get it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. This aired on our local PBS station, but we missed it.
We tried to watch this, but could only get a few Episodes free. Bummer.
It is cute
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
The Coroner The CW (premiered 8/5/20; premiered for SEASON 2 10/7/20; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
This is the newest CBC legal/medical drama, and it’s pretty dark. 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; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Agatha Christie‘s Partners in Crime Ovation (reruns summer, 2020, of both of the two sections, 3 Episodes, each)
This second British “adaptation of two Tommy and Tuppence detective novels by Agatha Christie” that are set in the early-1950s-era showcase the husband-and-wife, amateur MI-5/MI-6 sleuths. It is charming, intriguing and well-done. We liked both mini-series (each one has 3 Episodes that are each double-length), each based on its own novel, The Secret Adversary and N or M?. Lots of twists and turns, Cold War spying stuff. Mostly implausible and fun.
Starring: David Williams, Jessica Raine, with James Fleet and Matthew Steer.
*The Crown Netflix [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), PBS‘ Margaret, The Rebel Princess and got even more info. She had a sad life, I think.
John Lithgow (as Prime Minister Winston Churchill) was and Clare Foy were outstanding, as were all the rest of the cast and writing. Truly remarkable.
Mom started with Episode 1, SEASON 3, then jumped to and watched all of SEASON 4 with me.
If you like this and don’t know much about Queen Elizabeth II‘s reign or the concomitant history, watch In her Own Words: Queen Elizabeth, also on PBS and online. Aired in late May, 2017, so available any time. Another good doc was Princes of the Palace, about all of them since Prince Phillip, which aired in September, 2017, and is available online as well.
Watched and LOVED SEASONS 1, 2, 3; 4 is sad; 5- 6 RENEWED, and recast every 2 SEASONS
The Blacklist NBC (returned 11/20/20 for SEASON 8; resumed 1/22/21; RENEWED 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 SEASON 5)
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)
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
Station 19 ABC (returned 11/12/20 with crossover with Grey’s Anatomy for SEASON 4)
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
*Young Sheldon CBS (returned 11/5/20 for SEASON 4; SEASON 5 and all previous SEASONS coming to Nick at Nite)
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
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee TBS (ongoing; RENEWED for SEASON 6)
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.
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 and okay for SEASON 6
Blue Bloods CBS (returned 12/4/20 for SEASON 11; RENEWED 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 11.
Also starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Sami Gayle, Marisa Ramirez and Vanessa Ray.
Okay for SEASON 11; RENEWED for SEASON 12
F.B.I.: Most Wanted CBS (returned 11/17/20 for SEASON 2; RENEWED 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’s Chicago series’ franchise playbook.
Julian McMahon (Marvel’s Runaways) “will play 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”will play 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 will play 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 will play FBI Agent Sheryll Barnes, an ex-NYPD detective with elevated street smarts….Lutz will play FBI Agent Crosby—an Army intel vet Jess has taken under his wing, communications whiz.” Nathaniel Arcand (Cold Pursuit) “will play Agent Clinton Skye, Mohawk Nation, Jess’ brother-in-law, a marksman with a law degree.”
We watch the original, so I guess we’ll give this a try as well.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3
All Rise CBS (returned 11/16/20 for SEASON 2)
This series produced a #coronavirus-inspired social distancing Episode for late April, filming via social distancing/virtually! Sad, but necessary. Continuing with realism, bringing in Black Lives Matter and more pandemic issues as the SEASON continues this fall (SEASON 2).
Yet another legal drama, and we really like this one! It comes from writer, Greg Spottiswood (Remedy), and stars: Wilson Bethel (Hart of Dixie, Daredevil), J. Alex Brinson (Travelers), Marg Helgenberger (CSI, Intelligence, Under the Dome), Simone Missick (Luke Cage), Lindsay Mendez (Carousel), Ruthie Ann Miles (The King & I), and Jessica Camacho (Taken).
It “pulls back the curtain on the court system and follows the dedicated, chaotic, hopeful, and sometimes absurd lives of the judges, assistant district attorneys, and public defenders as they work with bailiffs, clerks, cops and jurors to bring justice to the people of Los Angeles….Bethel will play Mark, a roguish, highly successful Deputy District Attorney whose best friend and colleague, Lola (Missick), has been just been appointed a judge. Never great with boundaries, Mark struggles with the personal and professional changes in their relationship….Brinson will play Luke. Wholesome, generous and hardworking, Luke is a bailiff by day and law student by night, determined to move up in the world by becoming a lawyer….Helgenberger will play Judge Judith, who broke the glass ceiling by becoming one of the rare female judges in California. Originally a progressive voice from the bench, over time she has become an entrenched member of the judicial establishment. As Supervising Judge, Judith is a powerful and influential figure who oversees Lola’s transition to judge—and through that relationship, she will rediscover her passion for justice….Missick will play Lola. Over the course of her impressive career as a Deputy District Attorney, Lola was known to be independent, formidable and, occasionally, wildly impulsive. As a newly appointed judge, Lola suddenly has more power. So she doesn’t sit back on the bench; Lola leans in— immediately pushing boundaries and challenging expectations of what a judge should be…Mendez will play Sara, an ebullient, optimistic court reporter who has surprising hidden talents. A close friend do Emily, Sara hosts the Courthouse poker games and is a reliable source for gossip and courthouse intel. Miles will portray Sherri. As Lola’s Judicial Assistant, Sherri is The Gatekeeper; she controls the schedule, the witness lists, the flow of paperwork—everything. She can make defendants sit in the lockup and wait all day for the next appearance, or she can find a way to get them in and out before her morning coffee gets cold. Efficient, pragmatic and armed with wickedly dry sense of humor, Sherri isn’t thrilled she has to ‘train’ Lola…—a rookie judge….[Camacho] will play Emily Lopez-Berarro, a tough and determined public defender who is undaunted in her efforts to prove her clients’ innocence.”
We like it a lot; Good for SEASON 2
NCIS New Orleans CBS (returned 11/8/20 for FINAL SEASON 7)
Still liking this in SEASON 7, especially Scott Bakula‘s character and Necar Zadegan, is staying, although she will no longer lead the team (Pride took one of two offered promotions, but she got demoted so he returned to his former position).
#COVID, of course, but other good stories.
Also starring: CCH Pounder, Vanessa Ferlito, Rob Kerkovich, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Charles Michael Davis.
Good for FINAL SEASON 7
*Grey’s Anatomy ABC (returned 11/12/20 for final season, with crossover with Station 19)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo. Spawned its 3rd and 4th spin-offs for 2018!
But, WHY do they have to keep threatening to kill 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
F.B.I. CBS (returned 11/17/20 for SEASON 3; RENEWED 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.
Stay tuned! Another spinoff is coming for 2021-22: “FBI: International tracks the elite agents of the FBI’s International Division, tasked with protecting Americans around the globe. Derek Haas, who created the Wolf-produced Chicago Fire, will be showrunner while Wolf will executive produce, along with Haas, Rick Eid, Peter Jankowski and Arthur Forney. As for casting, there have been no announcements yet.”
Keeping; slow, but okay for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4
NCIS CBS (returned 11/17/20 for SEASON 18; RENEWED for SEASON 19)
We are fans of this show, so far, but…if it weren’t for Mark Harmon…
We like this; okay for SEASON 18; RENEWED for SEASON 19
Chicago Med NBC (returned 11/11/20 for SEASON 6)
Serious amount of COVID, here (expected) but good return, so far, for SEASON 6.
Too many love triangles. A bit too much soap opera-esque-ness in these nighttime medical shows: how do they have so much time on their hands?
We LOVE Oliver Platt, and the rest of the cast are good, with interesting (but largely implausible) stories.
Starring: Molly Bernard, Colby Lewis, Nick Gehlfuss, Torrey DeVitto, Rachel DiPillo, Brian Tee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Yaya DaCosta, Marlyne Barrett.
KEEPING; good for SEASON 6
The Good Doctor ABC (returned 11/2/20 for SEASON 4)
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 4
Chicago P.D. NBC (returned 11/11/20 for SEASON 8)
Tackling COVID and racism in SEASON 8 with mixed results. 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 8
Chicago Fire NBC (returned 11/11/20 for SEASON 9)
Losing one or more main characters is tricky, but they handle it all right.
A new partner in the ambo is a recurring theme. We’ll see.
Starring: Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Eamonn Walker, David Eigenberg, Joe Minoso, Kara Killmer, Yuriy Sardarov, Cristian Stolte, Miranda Rae Mayo, Gary Cole; added Annie Alonzeh, Steven Boyer, Austin Peck, Jordan Belfi (American Curious) .
KEEPING; okay for SEASON 9
Bull CBS (returned 11/16/20 for SEASON 5; RENEWED for SEASON 6)
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), Freddy Rodriguez (The Night Shift), 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 5; RENEWED for SEASON 6
Prodigal Son Fox (returned 1/12/21 for SEASON 2)
Great cast, excellent writing, very creepy but interesting. We’re hooked. Good return, and not too gruesome, for SEASON 2. Then, in comes Alan Cumming! Love him! Not much liking the subplots with Ainsly (sister of main character), though.
From writers, Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver (Legends of Tomorrow, Deception and Forever, which we loved), this crime drama “centers on Malcolm Bright [Tom Payne (The Walking Dead), replacing Finn Jones (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist), who departed after the first table read over “creative differences”], who has a gift. He knows how killers think, how their minds work. Why? Back in the ‘90s, his father was one of the worst––a notorious serial killer called ‘The Surgeon.’ That’s why Bright is the best criminal psychologist around; murder is the family business. Bright uses his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve crimes and stop killers, all while dealing with a manipulative mother, annoyingly normal sister, a homicidal father still looking to bond with his prodigal son, and his own constantly evolving neuroses.”
Starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Aurora Perrineau, Bellamy Young, Frank Harts, and Keiko Agena, with Michael Sheen as “Martin Whitly, [who] is intelligent, wealthy, charismatic—he also happens to be a predatory sociopath who murdered more than 20 people. Martin once was a devoted family man and successful cardiothoracic surgeon with high-profile patients….Young plays Bright’s mother, Jessica Whitly, an elegant WASPy New Yorker who wields sarcasm like a samurai sword. As the wife of a serial killer, she is a disgraced member of high society, but she refuses to hide from her truth, and she wishes her son would follow suit….Agena will play Edrisa, the slightly off-center coroner working with the NYPD detective team. She is thrilled by her work, and she is both smitten and fascinated with Bright.”
We’re hooked; Good for SEASON 2
The Resident FOX (returned 1/12/21 for SEASON 4)
Started off SEASON 4 with COVID, but a wedding, too, so not so bad.
Jane Leeves (Frasier) ‘s character “is an orthopedic surgeon and foil for Bruce Greenwood‘s CEO.”
Manish Dayal, Emily van Camp (Revenge, Everwood) and Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife and Gilmore Girls) star 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 4
9-1-1 FOX (returned 1/18/21 for SEASON 4)
For SEASON 4, keeping Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer), and other characters, so far.
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 are married, now.
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; Good for SEASON 4
9-1-1: LONESTAR Fox (returned 1/18/21 for SEASON 2)
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
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 (returned 11/12/20 for SEASON 22 [longest-running drama on network TV!]; RENEWED for SEASON 23)
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 (returned 11/8/20 for SEASON 12; RENEWED for SEASON 13 with NCIS: Hawaii coming in 2021-22)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; okay for SEASON 12
(some not yet reviewed/watched as of 5/7/21)
[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 5/7/21).]
Link to premiere dates, renewals and cancellations for 2021:
Or, use these links for a frequently updated 2021, schedule:
Also, try https://nextseasontv.com/upcoming/ for release dates.
2021 Planned Viewing
Girls5eva Peacock TV (premieres 5/6/21)
“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 these singers, and we’ll try it if it’s free.
Starring: Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps.
If it’s free, we may try it
*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.
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
Jupiter’s Legacy Netflix (releases 8 Episodes 5/7/21)
This is an “American superhero streaming television series created by Steven S. DeKnight, based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely…The first generation of superheroes have kept the world safe for nearly a century. Now their children must live up to their legacy in an epic drama that spans decades and navigates the dynamics of family, power and loyalty.”
Echoes of DC’s Star Girl, yes?
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Leslie Bibb, Meg Steedle, Anna Akana, Tyrone Benskin, Jess Salgueiro.
The Kominsky Method Netflix (great for SEASON 1 & 2; returns 5/28/21 for final SEASON 3)
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. Unfortuately, Alan Arkin will not return 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 like it; even better for SEASON 2; RENEWED for final SEASON 3
Flesh and Blood PBS (premiered 10/4/20; 4-Episode miniseries)
“Lives of three siblings are disrupted when their recently widowed mother declares she’s in love with a new man. Tangled web of secrets, lies, rivalries and betrayals eventually leads to a murder.”
Starring some of our favorites in BBC-land: Stephen Rea, Imelda Staunton, Francesca Annis, Claudie Blakley, David Bamber.
Solos Amazon Prime (anthology series releases 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.”
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Nicole Beharie, Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens and Constance Wu.
We’ll try it
*The Bold Type Freeform (returns 5/26/21 for final SEASON 5)
This show gets better each Episode and SEASON, and SEASON 4 came back with a ROAR! Feminist, smart, funny, poignant, realistic, diverse and important topics, characters and issues. Kudos to Freeform!
Mom and I watched most of Episode 1 when it first aired and didn’t like this show at all. Took it off our list and off this review site as well. BUT, with the dearth of shows to watch without Mom in the summer of 2017, I picked up with Episode 2 On Demand and was surprised by the good writing and acting (neither present in Episode 1 to any extent) and kept going to the end of SEASON 1.
Excellent and continuously improving acting and writing, and Episodes 1 & 2 of SEASON 2 were great. The writers are capably covering complicated and interesting topics without overly simplifying or resolving facilely (rare on any TV show these days). In addition to great depiction of female mentoring and friendships, this show delved into inherited breast cancer (the BRCA gene), rape and sexual assault injustices, office relationships/romances, bisexuality and sexuality, gender inequality and identity, political topics, career moves, drinking, bed bugs, financial difficulties, immigration/deportation, religious and class differences, interpersonal competitions and more.
Starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee (liked her on Chasing Life) and Meghann Fahy as the three millennial leads, with mentoring roles played by Melora Hardin and Stephen Conrad Moore; romance/friendship roles played by Sam(uel) Page, Matt Ward, Nikohl Boosheri, Dan Jeannotte.
Any writers who correctly reference/quote the late, great Nora Ephron in TWO Episodes get my vote!
KEEPING & RENEWED for final SEASON 5
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
*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…
*mixed-ish ABC (returned 1/26/21 for SEASON 2)
black-ish has gotten a second spin-off (already has eldest daughter, Zoe’s, grown-ish), “about Rainbow Johnson’s (Arica Himmel as a young Tracee Ellis Ross) experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ‘80s, and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves.”
I lived in several communes, myself, so this set of characters interests me. The first Episode was good, so I’ll continue.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar (The Passage) plays Bow’s father, Paul Johnson; he replaces Anders Holm (he was in the backdoor pilot). “Bow’s parents, Paul (Gosselaar) and Alicia (Tika Sumpter), decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they’re perceived as neither black nor white. This family’s experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one’s own identity when the rest of the world can’t decide where you belong….Co-starring in the series are Christina Anthony as Denise; Mykal-Michelle Harris as Santamonica Johnson; and Ethan Childress as Johan Johnson.”
I like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Ben Platt LIVE at Radio City Music Hall Netflix (released 5/25/20)
We like him and his voice, so we’ll watch this.
Lovestruck (fka Let’s Spend the Night Together) Netflix (released 4/28/20)
We LOVE Kathleen Turner and are going to be glad to see her, again! She and Andie McDowell are going to co-star, with Steve Kazee (Shameless, Once), Rachel Bilson (Hart of Dixie), Richard Roxburgh (Rake), Madeline Wise (Nobodies and Veep), Beth Riesgraf (Leverage, Complications), Jeffery Self (You’re Killing Me), Linda Park (Bosch), and Usman Ally (A Series of Unfortunate Events), inspired by the French series, Quadras, that has spawned a new version in English for Fox for 2019-20, perhaps. Itis to be written by Tom Kapinos (who wrote Californication, which I had a love/hate relationship with and Mom didn’t watch at all), to be directed by Sanaa Hamri. It is described as “a structurally inventive dramedy in which the entire first season takes place over the course of single night at a wedding. As we get to know the wedding party, we’ll learn surprising reveals about both their present and past. We’ll see that things aren’t always what they seem and explore the complicated bonds of love, friendship and family at different stages of life….MacDowell will play Lily, the bitter, fiery supermodel meets ‘80’s video vixen and and the ex-wife of British rock star, Nigel Valentine. Turner will portray Grace, the blunt, tactless, and the judgmental mother of Alex Fletcher…Kazee will play Alex Fletcher, a charming, caring and earnest music journalist who has a way with words and loves music….Bilson will play the bride, Daisy Valentine. A ‘bolt of pure sunshine,’ she’s sweet, thoughtful, assertive, has deep soulful eyes and works in music education. …Roxburgh will play Nigel Valentine, Lily’s (MacDowell) ex-husband, a legendary British rock-star who tries to save the world through music and has a weakness for supermodels. Wise plays the quirky and pessimistic Poppy, the exceedingly blunt daughter of Nigel and Lily. Ally will play Julian, a roguish doctor who doesn’t act like one….Reisgraf will play Isabelle, a rational, smart, affable beauty and mother trying to navigate a divorce and just wants the best for her son. Self portrays Kevin, an earnest, avuncular, gay accountant with a sense of humor and is a good friend. Park will play Kate. She’s a mellow and fun mom with an easygoing sensibility and loyal to her friends.”
*The Mind, Explained Netflix (docuseries with 20-minute Episodes; SEASON 1 released 9/12/19; 9/26/19 for SEASON 2; 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 Dates Set, Yet (UPDATED 5/7/21)
Mare of Easttown HBO (for us, DVD or Netflix/Amazon) (premieres 4/18/21)
Will bring “film talents to the limited TV series….Mare Sheehan, an office police investigator in a small Pennsylvania town, investigates a brutal murder as she tries to keep her life from falling apart.”
Starring: Kate Winslet, Sosie Bacon (yup; daughter of Kevin and Kyra Sedgewick).
Directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by Brad Inglesby, about “a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder at a time when her own life is crumbling around her.” We’ll look for it in 2022
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.”
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 Nightingale, The Black Tower, and A Taste for Death, sounds interesting.
We will probably like this
Grace ITV, so DVD, for us (premiering in UK late in 2021)
“Endeavour creator, Russell Lewis, is behind this new ITV drama starring John Simm (Life on Mars). He’ll play detective Roy Grace (from Peter James’ award-winning novels), a man who fights crime in the coastal city of Brighton, England. Grace is a talented but unorthodox detective who’s haunted by the disappearance of his beloved wife Sandy.”
Begins with 2 feature-length Episodes based on Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead.
If we can find it, we’ll try it
Evil CBS (returns later in 2021 for SEASON 2; SEASON 1 is on Netflix)
My mom and I watched the first Episode through about halfway, and she was exasperated: “Why is it all so dark? I can’t see anything!” She gave up. I finished it, and it did get better, but…
Episode 1 focused on darkness. Episode 2 is about miracles (or fake ones) and probably isn’t so “dark” in either manner. So, I’ll encourage her to try it again.
Great cast and good writing.
From the team of Robert King (writer, exec producer), Michelle King (writer, exec producer), Liz Glotzer (exec producer), it claims to be a “battle between science and religion focused on a skeptical clinical psychologist, Kristen Bouchard, who joins a priest-in-training, David Acosta, and a blue-collar contractor, Ben, to investigate supposed miracles, demonic possessions and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there’s a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work.”
Starring: Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show, Blue Bloods) as Ben, “a carpenter who was recruited for David’s team early on, Ben has a deep skepticism about all things supernatural. He is a genius at uncovering the organic reasons behind reported ‘hauntings,’ but there may be things outside his understanding that will rattle his belief system”; Katja Herbers (Westworld) as Bouchard, the psychologist; and, Michael Colter (The Good Wife/Fight, Luke Cage) as the junior priest “tasked by the Church to assess unexplained phenomena to see if there is a supernatural or scientific explanation.” Probably too horror-like for us.
We reluctantly continued; RENEWED for SEASON 2
Endeavor BBC/PBS Masterpiece/Amazon Prime (returned for SEASON VII 8/9/20; RENEWED through final SEASON VIII)
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
*Call the Midwife PBS (12/25 specials annually; returns for SEASON 10 on 4/18/21; RENEWED through SEASONS 11, 12, 13)
Strong returns for each SEASON, but not 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: “bastards,” 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 starts in early April.
Lost several favorite characters in SEASON 6 and, now, 7. Sorry to see them go.
KEEPING for SEASON 10 and RENEWED for SEASON 11
Shakespeare & Hathaway PBS (SEASON 2 premiered September, 2019; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4; due out 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.”
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 3 & 4.
*A Discovery of Witches AMC & BBC (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; not sure when it comes to AMC or Sundance [for free/cable] in the USA.)
I like the actors and story, but the music and ambiance are so overblown, it is difficult to enjoy it. Also, the talking is hard to understand (poor audio balance). Will continue, but disappointed.
I read and liked all three books and the encyclopedia that accompanied the series AND the 4th book related to the same series by Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches, and was disappointed that the TV series (now getting three SEASONS) was only on paid channels we do not get (Sundance Now, Shudder, AMC+ streaming, and the UK’s SKY). BUT, it was so popular they brought it to cable!
“A Discovery of Witches is a modern-day love story set in a world where witches, vampires and demons secretly live and work alongside humans, hidden in plain sight. Season 1 follows Diana [Teresa Palmer], a young scholar at Oxford who is a descendant of the Salem witches. When she accidentally unlocks an enchanted manuscript, she is compelled to embrace the magic in her blood and enters a forbidden romance with charming 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew (Matthew Goode). In the second season, Matthew and Diana are hiding in time in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London , where they must find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life. Owen Teale, Alex Kingston, Lindsay Duncan, Valarie Pettifor, Edward Bluemel, Aiysha Hart, Trevor Eve, Malin Buska and Gregg Chillin also will return for Season 2.” Sounds as if each SEASON is based on one of the volumes of the 3-book series.
Will continue, but tentatively; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries Acorn, first; DVD acquired June, 2020 (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 (releasing late fall, 2020, 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.
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 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5
D.C.’s Stargirl The CW (premiered 5/11/20; returns summer, 2021, for SEASON 2)
“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; RENEWED for SEASON 2
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
Another Life Netflix (released July, 2019; returns late in 2021 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!
“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
*Roswell, New Mexico THE CW (premiered 3/16/20 for SEASON 2; returns summer, 2021, 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 SEASON 2 is off to a bad start, 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.
SPOILER: Especially not liking what they did with Max. Why kill him off but make him a ghost? Why bring Rosa back at all? She’s such a whiner.
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, and probably stopping; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Heartland Netflix [RENEWED for SEASON 15; 13 SEASONS here and on UPTV and BYU, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 13 released July, 2020; SEASON 14 released Jan., 2021; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 5/7/21]
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 includes parodies of …”bowling doc, League of Ordinary Gentlemen, and Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Guests include Cate Blanchett, Michael C. Hall…Tim Robinson, Bobby Moynihan, Natasha Lyonne, John Mulaney….Richard Kind, Renee Elise Goldsberry, James Urbaniak, and Paula Pell.”
I liked two and may watch more; RENEWED for SEASON 4
*You Netflix (12/26/19 released for SEASON 2; returns summer, 2021, 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
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
Orville FOX (returned 12/30/18 for SEASON 2; RENEWED for final SEASON 3, but on HULU; DVD for us)
We were right to be worried that Seth MacFarlane & Co. would be guilty of trying too hard and that the show would be awkward, unfunny, terrible, but, somehow, endearing. The first twenty minutes or so weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible, either. SEASON 1 limped along and we stuck with it, with uneven payoffs, in our opinions. SEASON 2 started off horribly, though. We accidentally missed the entire first 20 minutes, and we didn’t mind at all because this was a BORING and ridiculous Episode, especially for a returning SEASON premiere. However, each Episode got better. Now, we’re hooked.
We liked Adrianne Palicki in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and were glad to see her in this show, albeit in a similar role. Always glad to see Victor Garber, too, however briefly.
Besides these two, the show has quite a cast: Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle), Scott Grimes (ER), Peter Macon (Shameless), J Lee (Family Guy), Halston Sage (Crisis)
The premise: “Set 300 years in the future, the hour-long dramedy follows the adventures of the Orville, a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship, in Earth’s interstellar Fleet. Facing cosmic challenges from without and within, this motley crew of space explorers will boldly go where no comedic drama has gone before.”
Not sure we’ll stick with this.
Series was RENEWED, but SEASON 1 was reduced by 1 Episode, which will be added to fall, 2018, SEASON 2’s run.
KEEPING; RENEWED for final SEASON 3 on HULU
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
*Ozark Netflix (SEASON 3 released 3/27/20; RENEWED for final SEASON 4)
Did not enjoy SEASON 2 much. Watched it all, though there were dozens of murders and it was much darker. I’m reluctant to return to it.
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 like it; RENEWED for final SEASON 4
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (SEASON 1 released 8/31/18; SEASONS 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 SEASON 3 & 4, but no air dates for either SEASON on ION, yet [5/7/21])
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 SEASON 3
*Younger SEASONS 1 – 6 on TV LAND (Will only air on Paramount+[ pay streaming service] starting early April, 2021, for final SEASON 7)
I got hooked on this by watching all the previous episodes on-demand, and now eagerly await its return. I LOVE Sutton Foster, so even though the premise is ridiculous and Hilary Duff is predictably awful, I watch.
But, SEASONS kept getting better after 3, partly because some of the characters are now in on the secret (true age of Foster‘s character, Liza—early 40s vs. the purported mid-twenties) and some of their reactions are excellent.
Also starring Debi Mazar (we hope she recovers completely from COVID-19!), Miriam Shor, Nico Tortorella, Peter Hermann, Molly Bernard and Charles Michael Davis; and, featuring guest stars: “Laura Benanti, Phoebe Dynevor, Michael Urie, and recurring cast member, Chris Tardio, … [with] Nicole Ari Parker (Empire), [who] will play Maggie’s (Mazar) love interest; novelist and screenwriter, Michael Cunningham, (The Hours); novelist, Meg Wolitzer (The Wife); and, actresses, Becky Ann Baker (Girls), Willa Fitzgerald (Dare Me) and Beth Leavel.”
Most people won’t like this, but I somehow do; RENEWED through final SEASON 7
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
Nash Bridges REBOOT USA Network (for 2021) “The revival is set to launch as a two-hour special which, if successful, could launch into a full-on reboot of the series. The revival follows Nash (Don Johnson, again), still heading the SFPD’s SIU and working to adjust a new boss and the changes of 2020 San Francisco.”
Looks as if Cheech Marin will also rejoin. No premiere date, yet.
We liked the original and will try this
Langdon NBC (premieres 2021?)
“The mysterious world of The Da Vinci Code is the milieu of this new series….based on Dan Brown‘s best-selling novel, The Lost Symbol….A cat-and-mouse adventure thriller set mostly in Washington D.C….You don’t need to have read the books or seen the movies to understand what Langdon is about. You also don’t need a degree on symbolism or theology to make it through the pilot without being lost or bored. Apparently, the writers hewed fairly close to The Lost Symbol book, with the same starting point and the same characters.”
Starring Ashley Zukerman (Succession, A Teacher) as Langdon (Tom Hanks’ role in the films),
We’ll like this
Ways and Means (fka The Whip) CBS (premieres 2021?)
Patrick Dempsey is starring in a new series, one I think we’ll like. It’s “a Washington D.C. drama…[that] …centers on a powerful congressional leader (Dempsey) who has lost faith in politics. He finds himself working secretly with an idealistic young congresswoman from the opposing party to subvert the hopelessly gridlocked system he helped create; together, they’ll attempt to save American politics —if they don’t get caught….Dempsey‘s character …[is] not exactly aspirational, but he’s not an anti-hero, either….Claire (Troian Bellisario, Pretty Little Liars) is a newly elected, idealistic freshman Democratic Congresswoman who leads with her intelligence and straightforwardness. She’s going to have to figure out how to merge her idealism with her ambition — she will either change Congress, or Congress will change her….Jarlene Brooks is a progressive activist, a formidable Democratic congresswoman and a rising star in the political arena. She wrestles with an inner turmoil regarding the price of power and struggles with her progressive roots versus the demands of leadership.”
If they don’t shunt it off to the CBS All Access (for-pay streaming) or a premium channel, we’ll watch.
Little Birds SKY Atlantic/NOW TV, then DVD (for us) (Australian premiere of 6-Episodes series is 8/4/20)
Originally censored, Anais Nin‘s erotic short stories, Little Birds, are now a limited series. Probably seem tame, though, today.
Starring Juno Temple (Dirty John), and Sophia Al-Maria (The Girl Who Fell to Earth) will write, while Stacie Passon (Billions and House of Cards) will direct.
“Set in Tangier in 1955, in the famous international zone, one of the last outposts of colonial decadence, it follows troubled American debutante, Lucy Savage, played by Temple, as she faces a culture shock. ‘Thrilled to escape her controlling parents, Savage arrives full of anticipation for her marriage to her English fiancée, Lord Hugo Cavendish-Smythe, little knowing that Hugo has already lost his heart to someone else. As Lucy fights to carve out her independence and identity, her life becomes intertwined with Cherifa Lamour, played by Submarine star, Yumna Marwan, a Moroccan dominatrix who services the diplomats and foreigners of this colourful, bohemian world, and Egyptian Aristocrat, Adham Abaza, played by 24: Legacy star, Raphael Acloque, and they all become entangled with some very dangerous characters.”
Trailer, here: https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2020-06-26/little-birds-sky-trailer/
We’ll look for DVD in 2021.
The Time Traveler’s Wife Netflix (limited series, releases in 2020?)
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
Harrow Hulu (DVDs for us; look for them in 2021)
This is an Australian drama series that premiered in March, 2018, then moved to Hulu in fall, 2019, starring one of our favorite actors, Ioan Gruffudd (his character on Forever was also a forensic pathologist!), who also directs many Episodes. He plays Dr. Daniel Harrow, who is “a forensic pathologist with a total disregard for authority. He has an unfailing empathy for the dead which helps him solve even the most bizarre of cases. Willing to bend every rule, he is determined to give victims a voice and reveal the truth behind what happened to them. Meanwhile, a terrible secret from his past threatens him, his family, and his career.”
We’ll look for DVDs; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Blood Relative Fox (premieres 2021?)
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 2021?)
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
Ordinary Joe NBC (premieres 2021?)
Right up my multiverse alley! We have James Wolk (Zoo, Watchmen) 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.”
We’ll try it
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
thirtysomething(else) ABC (no premiere date, yet, for 2021)
Original show’s writers, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, join director, Edward Zwick, and some of the same cast, for this interesting “sequel to the groundbreaking series thirtysomething, which follows an ensemble of new faces playing the grown-up, 30-something children of the original cast. Apparently, raising children (even grown children) never ends, but who could have known how hard it would be for them to raise their parents?”
This Is Us tries to be, and fails. Parenthood came closer, but none is/was as good as this original show.
Starring (originally and now): Ken Olin, Mel Harris, Timothy Busfield, Patty Wettig
Loved the original and will try this
*Prospect ABC (no premiere date in 2021, 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
Y: The Last Man FX or Fox? (2021 premiere?)
This series, adapted from yet another graphic novel in the DC Universe, has Amber Tamblyn, Diane Lane, Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Juliana Canfield, Marin Ireland as its stars. It is based on the comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra.
“Y traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event has decimated every male mammal save for one lone human. The new world order of women will explore gender, race, class, and survival. Tamblyn will play Mariette Callows. Daughter of the President of the United States, Mariette has been groomed for a career in politics and to uphold her father’s conservative values.”
Michael Green (American Gods, Blade Runner 2049, Logan) and Aïda Mashaka Croal (Luke Cage, Turn) are Showrunners and Executive Producers. Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force (American Crime Story, Pose, The Hunger Games) and Brian K. Vaughan are Executive Producers and developed the series. Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Master of None, Beyonce: Formation) directed the pilot episode and also serves as Executive Producer.
Dark premise, odd beginnings, great cast.
We might try it
Good Sam CBS (premieres 2021)
Missing Sophia Bush (Chicago P.D., One Tree Hill)? She’s coming back to star in a new medical drama that “falls very much into the Grey’s Anatomy category, complete with a main character forced to live in the shadow of their larger than life parent…. The focus is her wrought relationship with her father; one that gets more complicated when Griff [Jason Isaacs] suddenly awakens from a months-long coma and learns that Sam has become the new Chief of Surgery. The only way to resume his job is as her subordinate, an arrangement which, for him, is untenable.”
Seems that this dysfunctional family, rather than doctors’/nurses’ sexual relationships, are the drama’s subplots, here. That could be better…or, not.
We’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
Love Life HBO Max (RENEWED for SEASON 2 for 2021; get DVDs)
This will star one of our faves, Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, Into the Woods), who will also executive produce. This “10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series “is about the journey from first love to last love, and how the people we’re with along the way make us into who we are when we finally end up with someone forever.”
Also starring and co-producing are Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Bridesmaids) and Jessie Henderson (A Simple Favor, Spy). Sam Boyd (In a Relationship) wrote the pilot, and he will also executive produces and direct.” We like Kendrick, but the rest are iffy.
Once it’s free, we’ll look for it on DVD.
RENEWED for SEASON 2
Ongoing Shows that We Have Watched /Keep watching on DVDs or Streaming
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
Grace & Frankie Netflix (RENEWED for SEASON 7; released 1/15/20 for SEASON 6)
The writing has deteriorated even worse for SEASONS 3, 4, 5, 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.
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 is coming 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.
—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; RENEWED for final 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.
*Unforgotten PBS (RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4 and coming to ABC; available for SEASON 3, which premiered 4/7/19 on PBS; SEASON 4 airs late in 2021 on PBS)
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.
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).
The series will continue to air on PBS until ABC gets it for SEASON 4 and perhaps beyond.
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. 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; RENEWED for SEASON 4
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, legendary musician, artist and philanthropist has sold more than 72 million albums – 29 of them gold or platinum – outsold The Beatles in 1966 and co-founded A&M Records, the most successful independent record company in history. Herb Alpert Is…, directed by John Scheinfeld, looks at Herb’s extraordinary life with rare footage and interviews with colleagues like Sting and Questlove….”
LIVE online world premiere of the new documentary, 10/1/20: http://www.herbalpertis.com.
THIS WAS FANTASTIC!
on Great Performances PBS (each aired in November, 2019, and online after that; go to http://www.pbs.org/show/videos/ )
Each of these was a London-based production of a Broadway show that was filmed live, and each was FABULOUS!
Each won many awards in the USA and is up for similar awards in England (Tony Awards, here; Olivier Awards there), and well-deserved, all.
The Last Laugh Netflix (released 12/10/18)
This grew on us slowly. We did like it, especially the singing.
“When retired talent manager Al Hart is reunited with his first client, Buddy Green, a comic who quit show business 50 years ago, he convinces Buddy to escape their retirement community and hit the road for a cross-country comedy tour.”
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Andie McDowell, Chevy Chase
A TRAILER HERE: https://movizark.com/2018/12/30/the-last-laugh-trailer-chevy-chase-and-richard-dreyfuss-lead-this-netflix-comedy-check-it-out/We liked this a lot
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2001-2008 on BBC; now on DVD; 23 Episodes; 7 SEASONS)
“The aristocratic Inspector Thomas Lynley [Nathaniel Parker] and the down-to-earth Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers [Sharon Small] join forces to investigate a series of murders. Their working relationship is challenged by their respective lots in life—Lynley is an earl, while Havers comes from a working-class background. The characters and some of the storylines are based on the novels by Elizabeth George.”
Also starring and recurring roles played by: Lesley Vicarage, Adam Godley, and many other now-familiar faces.
We liked this a lot
Janet King DVD/Acorn (3 SEASONS)
We got all three SEASONS from our library and watched them happily. Marta Dusseldorp, the star of this, was also the star of A Place to Call Home, which we love. This is an Australian urban legal drama, and very well done. Recommended.
We liked this
Case Histories Amazon Prime (2 SEASONS)
We love Jason Isaacs and the rest of the cast and stories are great. HOWEVER, the Edinburgh-Scottish accents can be very difficult for us midwestern USA folks to understand. Each Episode is in two parts or all one part, depending on your viewing stream. ” based on the Jackson Brodie novel series by Kate Atkinson….[Also starring] Amanda Abbington, Zawe Ashton, Millie Innes. Former soldier and policeman, Jackson Brodie, becomes a private investigator.”
We liked this
Republic of Doyle Netflix (available for all 6 SEASONS—2010-2014— in 2016)
“The sleepy port city of St. John’s, Newfoundland, is changing. While an influx of oil has flooded its coffers, it’s also brought to the surface the corruption—where there’s cash, there’s trash, after all. And doing his part to clean things up is private eye, Jake Doyle, who, with the help of his dad and partner at the Doyle P.I. Firm, takes on all cases—with the odd homicide thrown in just to keep things interesting.”
Somewhat fun, but too many trite tropes and chase scenes, with several obnoxious characters, including the star,/co-writer, Allan Hawco, who is not nearly as adorable as he thinks he is. But, after one SEASON, he grew on us and we keep watching. The father -son relationship is dysfunctional (rather, Malachy, is played by Sean McGinley), and his “relationship” with his ex-wife is downright pathological. Best character is the step-mother of the star, played by Lynda Boyd. Co-starring Krystin Pellerin and Marthe Bernard.
CBC gave it a lot of years and it won awards: it gets better, but is uneven.
We sort of like it and it grows on us
Lewis (was BBC; now DVD) 8 SEASONS
Another very well-written and -acted British detective series, and this one stars Kevin Whately, the co-star of Inspector Morse—which we haven’t watched, yet, because we are continuing first with Morse’s prequels in Endeavor—as DI Lewis, who previously was Morse’s (Endeavor’s) DS, and now he is Hathaway’s DI (James Hathaway, played well by Laurence Fox, who is much like the character of Endeavor, interestingly). For the last several SEASONS, Lewis is semi-retired, and Hathaway becomes a DI to DS Maddox (Griffith).
Great characters, not very bloody stories, excellent music by the recently deceased and much-missed composer, Barrington Phelong, who wrote the music for all three series and many more.
Starring/featuring: Clare Holman, Rebecca Front, Angela Griffith.
We really liked this
Scott & Bailey (was BBC; now DVD) 5 SEASONS
Another very well-written and -acted British detective series, and this one has many strong female characters in leading roles! It is a “series following two officers who work in a Manchester police unit specialising in murder cases.” Produced contemporaneously, more or less, with 2011-16. Written by the great Sally Wainwright (The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, Last Tango in Halifax, Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley).
Starring/featuring: Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore, Tony Mooney, Nicholas Gleaves.
We really like this
*Magical Land of Oz PBS (released 8/28/19)
This is “a three-part series about Australia’s magical wildlife.”
I spent 3 magical weeks Down Under over 20 years ago… Loved it.
Very fascinating. Loved this!
The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special with Celine Dion CBS (aired 5/21/19)
We really enjoy a lot of the shorter segments (how talented is James Corden?), and the first Special, with Sir Paul McCartney, was fabulous.
This one was sillier, but fun. Vegas, right?
Weird, but fun
*Fosse/Verdon FX (8 Episodes; premiered 4/9/19)
We were excited about this Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon bio, but what an awful man. I fast-forward through most of it and Mom quit after about 20 minutes.
Starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, from Lin-Manuel Miranda & Thomas Kail (Hamilton) and Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen). BUT, after Episode 1 (which we didn’t even finish), we were disappointed. We thought we’d try more, but it’s so DARK (literally as well as metaphorically) that we haven’t gone back to it.
“Based on Fosse, the biography written by Sam Wasson, the limited series tells the story of the singular romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. He was a visionary filmmaker and one of theater’s most influential choreographers and directors; she was the greatest Broadway dancer of all time….Nicole Fosse, daughter of Fosse and Verdon, is Co-Executive Producer.”
(You can watch one of their classic dance numbers HERE, https://deadline.com/2018/07/bob-fosse-gwen-verdon-fx-limited-series-michelle-williams-sam-rockwell-star-lin-manuel-miranda-thomas-kail-steven-levinson-1202432819/.)
“Together they changed the face of American entertainment—at a perilous cost. Featuring Fosse’s choreography, the series explores the hidden corners of show business, the price of pursuing greatness, and the suffering inflicted in the name of art.”
In case you don’t know, Bob Fosse and later, he in collaboration with his wife, Gwen Verdon, originated a tight, sinewy style of choreography made famous by Ben Vereen, Joel Grey, Anne Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth and others in award-winning shows Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Chicago, Pippin, Cabaret, Sweet Charity‘s that was imitated in multiple shows after that. All That Jazz, an autobiographical film that Fosse wrote and directed, was completed during his first heart attack (starring the late Roy Scheider), but he died from another attack soon after the film’s release, at the young age of 60. A true original and genius of dance.
Cast includes: Norbert Leo Butz, Margaret Qualley, Aya Cash, Nate Corddry, Susan Misner, Bianca Marroquin, Kelli Barrett, Evan Handler, Rick Holmes, Paul Reiser, Ethan Slater and Byron Jennings.
Well-done, but awful story
*Jane Fonda in Five Acts HBO (premiered 9/24/18; on DVD in late 2019)
This lived up to its hype: excellently done. Billed as “a candid documentary About the formidable actress and activist.” Despite an uneven script and some silliness, we have enjoyed Fonda‘s playing off Lily Tomlin in Grace & Frankie on Netflix these last several years. “Drawing on 21 hours of interviews with Fonda, the film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to largely positive reviews. Per the official synopsis: ‘[Fonda] speaks candidly and frankly about her life and her missteps. She explores the pain of her mother’s suicide, her father’s emotional unavailability, 30 years of an eating disorder and three marriages to highly visible, yet diametrically opposed, men.’…[It] also includes interviews with family and friends—Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, producer Paula Weinstein and former spouses, Tom Hayden and Ted Turner—as well as rare home movies and verité footage of the 80-year-old Fonda’s busy life today.”
Doing “Climate Change Fridays” and continuing to grow this, and get arrested, qualify as her SIXTH Act, right?
*Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On A & E Biographies (aired December, 2019, 2 nights)
This was very well done, and coming after I already watched Ken Burns‘ PBS documentaries about Bluegrass and Country Music, fit right in. Excellent interviews, clips, concert pieces, live and recorded parts. Fun.
I liked this a lot
*Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons
(Two shows. The first LIVE special was on ABC, but they re-aired it from the recording due to popularity. NEW one, with Good Times and All in the Family, aired 12/26/19)
They did an OKAY job with the first two, but the stories were silly. Second round was much worse.
This first one was a tribute to two of Norman Lear‘s most iconic shows, “forty-eight years after Archie Bunker first sat in his armchair and yelled at ‘Meathead’ [Rob Reiner‘s role] to get his feet off the coffee table…,
“Hosted by legendary producer, Norman Lear, and Jimmy Kimmel, the tribute will star Woody Harrelson as the curmudgeonly Bunker and Marisa Tomei as his wife, Edith—originally played by Carol O’Connor and Jean Stapleton. Jamie Foxx will take on Sherman Hensley’s role as George Jefferson, alongside Wanda Sykes as Louise ‘Weezy’ Jefferson [Isabel Sanford‘s role]. The show also stars Ellie Kemper as Gloria Stivic [Sally Struthers‘ role] and Will Ferrell as Tom Willis [Franklin Cover‘s role]. It will be directed by Cheers’ co-creator, James Irrows.” Kerry Washington (Scandal) “will play Helen Willis, the character who was one half of the first interracial couple featured on American primetime TV.” Justina Machado, .Jovan Adepo, Anthony Anderson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jackée Harry, Ike Barinholtz, Sean Hayes and Amber Stevens West are joining as well. “Ike Barinholtz will re-create the role of Mike ‘Meathead’ Stivic, Sean Hayes will play Mr. Lorenzo, Amber Stevens West is set to play Jenny Willis Jefferson…Jovan Adepo will re-enact the role of Lionel Jefferson, Anthony Anderson joins as Uncle Henry, Stephen Tobolowsky is set to play Mr. Bentley, and Jackée Harry will play Diane Stockwell….and Justina Machado is Florence Johnston.”
Not as good as promised.
I saw all the original Episodes, so I watched. Underwhelmed
*A Very British Romance and Royals, with Lucy Worsley PBS (mini-docuseries, aired throughout 2020)
Fascinating! Lots I never knew and found interesting.
“Lucy Worsley explores how our idea of romance has developed since the Georgian period.” She has 3 Episodes, each focused on a period: Georgian, Victorian, and 20th Century. “Lucy Worsley concludes her series with the most dramatic transformation of romance yet. Out of the carnage of World War One came a racier species of romantic love. It could be found in the novel The Sheik, the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time, while in real life, Marie Stopes urged husbands and wives to explore their sexual desire.”
I was intrigued
*The Pieces I Am (DVD in early 2020)
What an inspiration the late Toni Morrison was and continues to be! “Navigating a white, male world [as an editor at Random House in the 1960s] was not threatening. It wasn’t even interesting. I was more interesting than they were, and I wasn’t afraid to show it.” Watch the great, original, Nobel-prize-winning author, “Toni Morrison, in this trailer for a new documentary about her life, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders“:
This was amazing!
Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song PBS (premiered 5/3/19)
These annual Gershwin Prize award shows are some of our favorites because they highlight the songs of great songwriters with stellar performances throughout, along with biographical info about the recipient(s). This one was moving, amazing, and fabulous!
Felicitaciones to the newest and unique recipients (first Latinx and first couple) to be given this great honor, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, winners of over 25 Grammys and other awards and currently the topics of the popular, multiple Tony-Award-winning Broadway and national touring musical, On Your Feet! “Previous winners include Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Paul McCartney and Smokey Robinson…” This all-star tribute concert occurred/was taped in March, 2019.
FYI: Gloria Estefan is only the second woman (Carole King was the first) and the first WOC to be a recipient!
Definitely watch this!
*Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind HBO (aired 7/16/18; got the DVD)
This was funny (laugh-out-loud funny!), poignant, amazing, sad. A documentary on the life and work of one of our most precious geniuses, gone too soon, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.
BTW: one of my best friend’s mothers died of the same disease that caused Robin Williams to commit suicide, and he was not wrong. It’s a slow horrible, debilitating dementia and physical atrophying illness—Lewy Body Disease—that no one survives or recovers from. Her last years were bedridden, mostly unable to communicate with any logic or make sense of anything, not recognizing anyone or any place, barely able to eat or talk. That was what he was facing. Understand suicide in that circumstance, for sure.
Fascinating, but somewhat sad
Love, Gilda CNN (aired 1/1/19 and online)
If you ever were a fan of the late Gilda Radner (gone too soon, from ovarian cancer, in her 40s), Saturday Night Live (especially its earliest years), great comedy, and her collaborators/legacy comedians (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Lorraine Newman, Jane Curtin, Melissa McCarthy, the late John Belushi and John Candy, and so many more), then you will love this documentary about her life based on her own notes, her autobiography, interviews, home movies, and other clips/shots. It is extremely well-done, mostly chronological, and hilarious (and, sad).
We loved this
Rent FOX (aired 1/27/19, NOT live, tape-delayed)
The NOT-live musical production of the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Rent, was NOT shown live because one of the stars (Brennin Hunt, Roger) broke his leg and they had no understudies! So, we all saw the dress rehearsal, which was taped.
Brandon Victor Dixon (Tom Collins, “the computer scientist who returns to New York after being expelled from MIT”), Vanessa Hudgens (Maureen Johnson,” the outgoing performance artist who’s not afraid to take on the establishment”), Kiersey Clemons (Joanne Jefferson, “Maureen’s girlfriend and an Ivy League-educated lawyer”), Brennin Hunt (Roger Davis, “a struggling musician and Mark’s roommate and best friend”), Valentina (Angel Dumont Schunard, “a young drag queen and street percussionist who embraces life and lives it to its fullest”), Mario (Benjamin Coffin III, “Mark and Roger’s former roommate-turned-landlord, who is after their rent”), Tinashe (Mimi Marquez, “the dancer who struggles with addiction”), Keala Settle (who will perform “Seasons of Love” and in the ensemble) , and Jordan Fisher (Mark Cohen, “an aspiring filmmaker, who serves as the show’s narrator, while filming the lives of his friends”).
Billed as: “a re-imagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, and set in New York City’s gritty East Village, Rent tells the unforgettable story of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams during a time of great social and political turmoil. Winner of four Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, writer/composer Jonathan Larson’s tour de force continues to offer an inspiring message of hope and friendship.” Producer is Marc Platt (Grease: Live, La La Land, Wicked), and the estate of the late writer/composer Jonathan Larson, will executive-produce. This will be our third version (first film, first live filming of the play already viewed) to watch, but we like this show a lot, sad as it is.
We watched, but were not impressed
*Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew PBS (premiered 9/23/18; NOT the same as Netflix)This is another adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series of books, into a trio of TV movies written by Susan Coyne. This one picks up the plot with in a later time in her life than the Netflix series (so far, anyway; it’s in SEASON 2). It’s also not in a series format. We missed the first two parts of this trio:
——Anne of Green Gables (premiered 11/16), which “tells the story of Anne Shirley, a precocious young girl taken from an orphanage and placed in the care of the uptight Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew. The conservative Marilla has a profound effect on the adventurous Anne and creates a journey of learning and personal engagement”; and
——Anne of Green Gables: Good Stars (premiered 11/17), which picked up the story a bit later. “When Anne Shirley turns 13, she faces complex issues with her friends, inspirational adults and Marilla and Matthew. At the same time, she begins a friendship with Gilbert Blythe that emotionally escalates to disrupt the status quo of her peaceful world. Her free-spirited nature is challenged by her perceived need to become sensible, and her journey toward this goal is fraught with confusion and more than a few unfortunate—albeit, amusing—mishaps”), but they can be watched online and elsewhere.
Starring: Ella Ballentine, Martin Sheen, Sara Botsford, Drew Haytaoglu.
“Anne arrives in Charlottetown to attend accelerated classes, and she continues to work toward her dream of being a school teacher. Anne finds herself facing choices for her future, stirrings of romance, and tragedy unlike anything she’s ever known….Through the influence of a spirited new teacher, Miss Stacy (Natalie Lisinska), Anne (Ella Ballentine) steps up her ability at scholarship and competes for the few spaces available at a teacher’s college. When Anne leaves for Queen’s College, Matthew and Marilla (Martin Sheen and Sara Botsford) feel a sudden emptiness in their lives. Anne moves to Charlottetown and is overwhelmed by her new surroundings, difficult classes at teacher’s college, and a deepening romance with Gilbert (Drew Haytaoglu). At the same time, Matthew and Marilla deal with health and financial difficulties that jeopardize their lives at Green Gables.”
I’m interested in how these two adaptations differ. Loved these books as a child!
I watched the last two: very well-acted and -written
A Place to Call Home ACORN (then DVD and Amazon; already has 5 SEASONS on DVD; SEASON 6—its final—aired on ACORN in late 2018; DVD released 4/23/19)
Medical, social class and religious persecution drama set in rural Australia, post-World War II, with strong female characters, especially in the lead roles. Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp) is fabulous as “a nurse returning to 1950s Australia after 20 years in Europe. A convert to Judaism, Sarah emerged from the horrors of World War II strong, principled, and defiant—a thoroughly modern woman still bearing the weight of the past. On the ship home, Sarah meets the wealthy Bligh family. She quickly charms dashing widower, George (Brett Climo, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga) and his spirited daughter, Anna (Abby Earl, The Great Mint Swindle). Less pleased is his mother (award-winning actress Noni Hazlehurst, Little Fish), particularly after Sarah witnesses a desperate act by George’s son, James (David Berry, Home and Away). As Sarah settles into life in her new town, Mrs. Bligh does everything she can to maintain her iron grip on her family-and keep Sarah out of it. A thoroughly addictive drama brimming with secrets, passion, romance, and intrigue, A Place to Call Home explores the ties that hold families together and the betrayals that can tear them apart.”
Also starring Sara Wiseman and Craig Hall.
“The 10-Episode final season will take the Blighs and all the residents of Inverness into 1960.” Here is a ink to a great interview and info about this show: https://tellyspotting.kera.org/2018/08/30/as-we-begin-our-final-stay-at-ash-park-a-qa-with-sara-wiseman-and-craig-hall-of-a-place-to-call-home/
We LOVE this and SEASON 5 was excellent!
The Doctor Blake Mysteries Netflix (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.
*Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Netflix and DVD (3 SEASONS already released and 3 planned films, for 2019 and beyond, and a more modern spin-off; see below)
The spin-off version begins airing on Acorn TV 4/29/19 and is set in the 1960s.
The first of 3 planned movies with the original cast, still set in the post-war, 1920s, Australia, Miss Fisher and The Crypt of Tears, will release March, 2020! It “follows the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher on a Middle Eastern adventure IN SEARCH OF an ancient treasure. The film features several series regulars, including Nathan Page as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, Miriam Margolyes as Aunt Prudence and Ashleigh Cummings as her loyal assistant and maid, Dorothy ‘Dot’ Collins.”
Another excellent, feminist, fun detective series from Australia with a female protagonist, Miss Fisher, played so well by Essie Davis, and a male counterpart (Nathan Page). Great supporting cast, especially her side-kicks, fun music and interesting plots.
Set in the twenties, so Mom won’t watch it. I really like the series and look forward to the spin-off and films. The writers promise more “Fashion, feminism and fun” from all of the next additions.Visit their Facebook page for more info!
Worth your time
American Masters on PBS: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, PBS (out on DVD/VOD 4/24/18; premiered 5/18/18)
THIS WAS FASCINATING and very sad, as well. If you have an interest, it’s very well done, with amazing film and still photos from many decades of Lamarr‘s life, interviews with her children and granddaughter and many others as well as Lamarr herself.
Here are some clips: http://www.pbs.org/video/bombshell-hedy-lamarr-story-trailer-alebky/
I have a particular connection to Ms. Lamarr because one of my former partner’s mothers and aunt were her friends—three young women who were beautiful, talented, Jewish Austrians and Holocaust survivors. After they all had escaped from Austria and made their way to Los Angeles during Hitler’s rise in the late 1930s, these three appeared in two movies together (my partner’s relatives had very minor roles). They were also friends with another fellow Jewish Austrian, Johnny Weismuller, known for his roles as Tarzan.
“Hedy Lamarr was the original wild child. Her scandalous nude appearance in the 1933 Czech film, Ecstasy, made her infamous at the age of 17. She married a prominent Austrian businessman who became a weapons dealer to the Nazis. Lamarr, who was born Jewish, fled her husband in the middle of the night, boarding a boat for America with nothing to her name except a single designer gown. On board, she dazzled MGM boss, Louis B. Mayer, and convinced him to offer her one of the best contracts in Hollywood. As a movie star, she was considered by many to be ‘the most beautiful woman in the world.’ Songs were written about her beauty. Snow White [Disney’s original animated version] was modeled on her iconic look. She married six times and had affairs with everyone from Howard Hughes to Spencer Tracy.”
We liked this a lot
The Late Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke– 3rd Primetime Special CBS (aired 4/23/18) AND the one with Paul McCartney (aired 8/20/18)
We LOVE these scenes and were glad to watch even the ones we’d already seen on James Corden‘s show. Then, we were rewarded by a funny opening scene that turned into a hip-hop number AND a brand-new “Broadway Crosswalk” musical excerpts set with great guests!
Guess we weren’t the only ones who liked seeing Sir Paul McCartney in a James Corden‘s Carpool Karaoke segment! Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool was a full-length, primetime special that CBS aired 8/20/18. You can find it on YouTube or online, elsewhere. Sir Paul is also featured on a September edition of 60 Minutes, so catch that as well.
In other Carpool Karaoke news: SEASON 2 will feature many pairings, “including Jamie Foxx, who appears in the first episode with daughter, Corinne; Jason Sudeikis (both from Shazam), jamming with the Muppets; Matthew McConaughey” (can he sing or rap?!) with Snoop Dogg; and, “Rashida Jones and dad, Quincy,” on Apple TV and later, YouTube.
*Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (Documentary) PBS (premiered 1/19/18)
I’ve watched about half of this: it is FANTASTIC! Worthwhile, every moment!
“Award-winning filmmaker, Tracy Heather Strain, examines the activism and art of Lorraine Hansberry beyond her best-known play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” The film features interviews with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, and Louis Gossett Jr., narration by award-winning actress, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and the voice of Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, as Hansberry. The result is a timely and revealing portrait of an activist and artist whose popular recognition has, until now, remained long overdue.” (Press materials)
FANTASTIC! Worthwhile, every moment!
*Mozart in the Jungle Amazon Prime (4 SEASONS available)
Magical realism meets drug-addled, drunk and driven musicians and other artists in this odd romp through classical and other orchestral experiences; I have been enjoying it a lot. Funny thing: I avoided watching it for a while because I thought it was set in South America or Africa and would be weird; then, I realized Bernadette Peters stars in it AND then found out there is no “jungle” except for New York City.
Starring some fabulous characters, even if most are not actually musicians (or not that good) IRL: Gael García Bernal, Lola Kirke, Saffron Burrows, Debra Monk and a host of others (many actually playing the musical instruments or dancing, some not); and featuring Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell, Dermot Mulroney, Jason Schwartzman, Gretchen Mol, Wallace Shawn, the great Joshua Bell (violinist/Concert Master), and many others you may recognize.
“Love, money, ambition and music intertwine in Mozart in the Jungle, a half-hour comedic drama that looks at finding yourself and finding love while conquering New York City. A brash new maestro, Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal), stirs up the New York Symphony as young oboist, Hailey (Lola Kirke) hopes for her big chance.”
Great fun and music, both
Vexed Netflix (2 SEASONS)
This British detective series is trite, but cute and somewhat interesting. Can be funny enough to laugh out loud. Strong characters, good plots. Weird, though, that we never see or meet anyone else from their police station: no DCI (Detective Chief Inspector), no other colleagues (except occasionally, in the background).
Starring: Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch (SEASON 1) and Toby Stephens and Miranda Raison (SEASON 2)
Toby Stephens and Miranda Raison, stars of SEASON 2 of Vexed
Somewhat trite, but cute; 2 SEASONS
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!
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”)
Country Comfort Netflix (released 3/20/21)
A sit com with singing! Should have been great (like Glee and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist), but it was REALLY awful [like Perfect Harmony and Good Christian Bitches (GCB)]. We couldn’t even get through two Episodes. Too bad. Poorly written, directed horribly, terrible plots. Really nothing to recommend it.
Has the amazing Katharine McPhee (who did TOO LITTLE SINGING in Scorpion but great in Smash) again, singing too little and with an awful fake Southern accent. Plus, WHY does she pretend to play the guitar? Why even bother?
Would have been good if it had been like The Partridge Family meets Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and The Nanny (but shares a producer with the latter… disaster).
Here is the premise: “When her career and personal life get derailed, an aspiring young country singer named Bailey (McPhee) takes a job as a nanny for a rugged cowboy named Beau (Eddie Cibrian) and his five children. With a never-give up attitude and loads of Southern charm, this newbie-nanny is able to navigate the family dynamics and be the mother figure they’ve been missing. To her surprise, Bailey also gets the band she’s been missing in this musically talented family who help get her back on the road to stardom.”
Also starring some cute and talented kids but hammy and badly instructed: Ricardo Hurtado (Malibu Rescue), Jamie Martin Mann, Pyper Braun, Shiloh Verrico (Here Today, Crown Vic) and Griffin McIntyre.
We hated it
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
Debris NBC (premiered 3/1/21)
Another sci-fi drama; this one stars Jonathan Tucker, Riann Steele and Norbert Leo Butz. “Two agents from two different continents, and two different mindsets, must work together to investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind.”
Too contrived and in love with special effects to be interesting. probably won’t continue much past Episode 2.
We were underwhelmed
Firefly Lane Netflix (10-Episodes; released 2/3/21)
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
Big Sky ABC (premiered 11/17/20)
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.
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?”
B Positive CBS (premiered 11/5/20)
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
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)
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.
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 onward of SEASON 6, anyway
Chesapeake Shores Hallmark (Returns 8/15/21 for SEASON 5)
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Barbara Niven, Treat Williams
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.
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 SEASON 4; RENEWED for SEASON 5
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 Newsome, Owen Daniels, Noah Emmerich. “A group of people are tasked with establishing the U.S. Space Force.”
What could go wrong?
Not worthwhile: it’s like SNL, with about 3 good one-liners or gags for the entire Episode.
We watched 1 Episode; that was enough; RENEWED for SEASON 2
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 ), 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
Devils The CW (10-part series, premiered 10/7/20; already RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Can’t even get through 1 Episode!
Anyone been missing Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy, Maid of Honor)? Well, nevertheless, he’s baaaack! He and Alessandro Borghi (Suburra) are to star in Devils, a financial-world thriller, based on the novel by Guido Maria Brera. Set “in the London office of a major U.S. bank, where the ruthless Head of Trading, Massimo Ruggero (Borghi), from Italy, has been welcomed and introduced to the world of finance by Dominic Morgan (Dempsey), the bank’s CEO. When Ruggero ends up involved in an intercontinental financial war rocking Europe, he has to choose whether to ally himself with his mentor or fight him. The book was partly inspired by the financial crisis that swept global markets in 2008.”
Also starring: Laia Costa (Victoria), Malachi Kirby (Roots), Pia Mechler (Everything Is Wonderful), Paul Chowdhry (Swinging With The Finkels), Harry Michell (Chubby Funny) and Sallie Harmsen (Blade Runner 2049). May be dry, upsetting, or strange, but could be good. We probably won’t like it much.
Can’t even get through 1 Episode; already RENEWED for SEASON 2
*Miracle Workers TBS (returned 2/5/20 for SEASON 2; RENEWED 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.
Not watching for the rest of SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3
STATUS UNCERTAIN/LIMBO (as of 5/7/21)
*When Hope Calls Hallmark (premiered/returned 2/23/20; LIMBO for SEASON 2, but reruns are airing in 2021)
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; LIMBO for SEASON 2
*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 (5/7/21).
Luther Amazon (6 SEASONS; free on Prime through SEASON 6 as of mid-2020; LIMBO for SEASON 7, as of 5/7/21)
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; LIMBO for SEASON 7
The Brokenwood Mysteries Acorn; DVD (5 SEASONS released; 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 5/7/21)
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