“The Friday TV Report” 66, for 10/2/20, from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom, Carole Harris

“The Friday TV Report” 66, for 10/2/20, from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom, Carole Harris
Carole at 88
Mom at 88, April, 2020
Sally Ember, Ed.D., at 66, August, 2020

age 66 8-20-20

#Coronavirus and #COVID19 incidences in the USA are WORSE rather than better in almost all states, including MISSOURI, as of 10/2/20, largely because of terrible governmental leadership and responses PLUS the premature re-openings of colleges and schools: BIG MISTAKES. MOST states had insufficient lockdowns, not nearly enough testing, almost no contact tracing.  Numbers were NOT flat or falling for at least three weeks prior to when most started “re-openings.” These have not been well-managed, and therefore, already are and continuing to be disastrous for months to come, by all accounts. There are still some places that refuse to mandate masks! Upwards of 88K college students have tested positive, and it’s not even October, yet! Horrible selfish stupidity, which is killing people.
We need to shut down everything, again, BETTER. EVERYONE must wear MASKS or stay away from others!
Then, there are the attacks on our voting rights, complete with the ruination of the US Postal Service (USPS)! Sheesh!
WE HATE #45 and cronies and can’t wait for this administration to be GONE!
So, WE VOTED by absentee ballots, dropped off and registered, able to be tracked, as of 9/30/20!
#VOTEBLUE in person, if you can, or drop off your ballot and bypass the USPS. If you must mail it in (and some do require this, so make sure you have proper postage!), mail ballots by 10/22. #stayhome or #stayapart, #staycalms and #bepatient
These are the requirements if we are not all going to DIE.  #wehavetodobetter
Stay safe, keep washing your hands if you touch ANYTHING others have touched, and take this seriously to #flattenthecurve and keep more from getting ill or dying. Please.

The devastations, illnesses, losses, deaths from the hurricanes and wildfires, tornadoes and floods are inconceivable to those of us out of range. our hearts go out to all who suffer and we wish there would be better support and help for all those who need it. DAMN this government!!!

We also are horrified at the ongoing racist violence aimed at black and brown people by our government and racist groups/individuals, daily, including the police, ICE and other “law enforcement,” made worse by the worst, most lawless AG in history and his minions. YES, BLACK LIVES and BROWN LIVES not only MATTER but need protecting, daily! So do protestors’ bodies, apparently, from HEAT RAYS and other attacks !?!?!  VOTE BLUE! 

The rest of this post feels more and more like fiddling while Rome burns, but I am 66 now, not in great health, female, small, poor, and in the midwest. So, I take care of my elderly mother and myself as best I can, post accurate info online, and watch stuff on TV.

For The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fans:
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 that can do online streaming, here are some updates and reviews to guide your viewing, below. 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, home schooling and often funny and bizarre options are offered hourly on Facebook Live, YouTube, TikTok, Vimeo, QUIBI, TV’s regular and cable stations, many individuals’ and groups’ websites: EVERYWHERE, these days!

PeacockTVNBC‘s new streaming service (both paid and free components)—has announced its paid and free components’ launched  7/15/20. It does not play well with Chromecast (neither does Amazon Prime: BOOOO!). The stream’s stuttering, refusing to buffer, starting and stopping are awful, so we can’t watch much, but maybe you can.
The CW has moved its entire new shows’ slate to January or later, 2021.
[There are many more changes and online options listed almost daily, so check on your faves.]

Best-ever Zoom production award, in our opinions, goes to: “Take Me To The World” A Celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th Birthday, with Broadway and screen stars in abundance, each singing from their own quarantine’s location into a single camera. Amazing, moving, sweet, stellar talent in each frame. Read this New York Times review, (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/27/theater/take-me-to-the-world-sondheim-review.html) and try to see it: http://www.broadway.com or http://www.youtube.com/broadwaycom  may still have it available. It’s about 2 hours, and you must stay through and past the closing credits for the perfect encore!

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!):

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


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, 12) and Penn Charles (now, 9).
https://www.youtube.com/user/VisitTheGreenroom

Randy Rainbow is so great at writing, directing, singing ALL parts, costuming and staging his political parody music videos that he was nominated for an Emmy in 2019 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.
https://www.youtube.com/user/Tday4U

Roy Zimmerman is a San Francisco Bay Area resident who does (and has been doing, for decades) original, funny, witty political parodies as well as other songs and some covers, solo with his guitar and sometimes with other musicians and Zoom collaborators. I got to see him perform LIVE in St. Charles, Missouri, a few years ago, and he is GREAT!
https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyZimmerman

Sandy and Richard Riccardi have been around longer than I have (and that’s LONG), using her well-trained, great soprano voice and his piano playing and harmonies to create witty political parodies and other cabaret numbers, “comedy, jazz, classical, political satire and otherwise. Mostly otherwise.” So FUN!
https://www.youtube.com/user/pfte1

Emma’s Revolution is the singer/songwriter duo of Pat Humphries and Sandy O, “whose songs have been sung for the Dalai Lama, praised by Pete Seeger, and covered by Holly Near [where I’ve seen them several times in concert]. With beautiful harmonies and genre-defying eclecticism,…” these feminist, activist musicians have each written, co-written, and performed for decades, and now do many political parodies and fundraisers. LOVE them!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCERCZTaMxBvI3AY_-z1rQOg

Rufus Wainwright has done a live number almost every day as “Quarantunes”, accompanying himself on piano or guitar. Fabulous! In his bathrobe, usually, with longer-than-usual hair (as many have, these days), he brings it!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzV2sYMCYqhCEPGDtVj7dIA

Jordan Rabjohn is a UK middle school music teacher who sings alone, with his amazing mother (also a smashing vocalist), and some gifted middle-schoolers in a variety of music videos, some made from his home with his mom. Bring tissues!
https://www.youtube.com/user/JordanCharlieRabjohn

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

Many singer/songwriters and other performers, including all genres (folk, bluegrass, indy, singer/songwriter, Americana, country, classical, jazz, hip-hop, rap, gospel), individuals and family groups, and some from movies/films and Broadway, have created home concert videos, Zoom collaborations, and outdoor performances you can find many online places.
Check out your faves, find new ones! Then SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, DONATE!  Musicians, dancers, singers, actors, directors, choreographers, and ancillary workers for live performances are HURTING during the lockdown months of this pandemic, since almost all live music venues and events have been closed/canceled, and may be for many more months!


Begun in fall, 2015, and updated often between “full” posts (check on Fridays), there is always something new here for TV/streaming watchers.

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, PBSAmazon 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.

Also, perhaps due to quarantine/lockdown “deals,” we BRIEFLY had several channels mysteriously added, via cable, that we did not used to have. This provided us with many more choices for light-hearted, less serious/less violent fare, and we were able (through mid-July, 2020) to take advantage of those opportunities. There were several series of films (3 or more with same subtitle/characters = a “series”) on HMM (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), and individual films and shows (like one of our faves, Heartland) on UP TV, Ovation, ION and elsewhere we are now still enjoying, since we DVR/ recorded them. If you get those stations, check them out!

Next full post = November 20, 2020
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Officially postponed from early June and new date not announced, yet, is our favorite awards show, the 74th Annual Tony Awards. [They tried to have an online preview in late May, but the riots pre-empted it.] This is usually broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, 8 – 11 PM ET, and online, but, who knows?! Nominations are usually announced 4/30/20, but that, too, has been postponed. James Corden will host (again), likely. Announcement of postponement date will be here. 

Our other favorite awards show is the relatively recently created AARP Movies for Grown-Ups Awards (films only): this is fantastic! You can watch it online, any time, on http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/movies-for-grownups-awards-with-aarp-the-magazine-2020-full-episode/10448/.  [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, explanations, speeches, performances, and heart. 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!).

Rocketman cover

Miracle of Miracles: The Making of Fiddler on the Roof
Also, airing on/around 11/13/20 on Great Performances, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles,
PBS
Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins
Mike Wallace is Here
Rocketman

Newest plans for viewing network and cable TV channels in the USA (and a few new shows on Netflix) for 2020 (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:

10/1/20–Herb Alpert documentary on many channels/platforms
10/4/20—Flesh and Blood premieres/airs 4 Episodes on PBS
10/4/20—Cobra premieres/airs 6 Episodes on PBS
10/6/20—neXt premieres on Fox
10/7/20—Soulmates premieres/airs 6 Episodes on AMC
10/7/20—The Coroner returns to The CW
10/16/20 —Great Performances: Grammy Salute to Music Legends on PBS
10/18/20 —The Trouble with Maggie Cole on PBS
10/21/20—black-ish returns to ABC

Near Halloween, 2020: ABC‘s next live musical, Young Frankenstein Live!

11/2/20—The Good Doctor returns on ABC
11/10/20—This is Us returns on NBC
11/11/20—The Chicago shows (Med, Fire, P.D.) return on NBC
11/12/20—Law & Order: SVU returns on NBC; Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 have 2-hour crossover return on ABC
11/13/20—The Blacklist returns on NBC
11/13/20—Great Performances, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles on PBS
11/15/20—The Crown returns, releasing SEASON 4 on Netflix
11/17/20—Big Sky premieres on ABC

12/31/20—Firefly Lane Netflix releases
late fall, 2020—Y: The Last Man premieres on FX

DELAYED —Genius: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, National Geographic channel, limited SEASON 3 series premieres

January, 2021, return dates for New Amsterdam, Good Girls, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Manifest on NBC
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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 vote.
We watch Rachel Maddow/Joy Reid (The ReidOut)/Ari Melber. I listen to NPR and Mom watches many other news shows (Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, others on MSNBC). That’ is plenty of “reality” for us.

We are not eager to continue watching shows whose plots and characters are disturbing in the same ways “real life” is. We start, then we stop watching. Therefore, some series we had originally put on the “Yay” side are now in “Maybe/Still Considering,” or all the way to “Nay” at this time. Same goes for shows whose casting or writing team seemed promising but turned out to disappoint.

We think the first one or two airings of any SEASON’s shows on TV are similar to serving dishes at a pot luck table that look popular, due to being mostly empty early on: many pot luck goers may take more of those first-up casseroles or even clean out the pie pans near the start of the line (watch one or 2 Episodes of a series or spend an viewing entire evening on one station), but no one knows whether or not the choosers actually LIKED what they selected! The food could end up mostly uneaten, tossed or traded away. Likewise, the “high ratings” for these first weeks could dramatically diminish once people have sampled enough to know what they like and don’t like, see what else is on, plan their viewing schedules.
The REAL test occurs week 3: what do viewers return to watch? So, stay tuned, ratings-wise. It’s after week 2 that some shows are “summarily” canceled, even when they have the rest of the SEASON in the “can.”

If you want to keep up with Netflix and other streaming and DVD sites’ offerings, this weekly update from https://movierewind.com/everything-netflix/ is unmatched. [BTW: I get no kickback, but I do subscribe and suggest you do the same (it’s free!).]

Here’s what the Movie Rewind team provides, weekly:
Netflix Instant Streaming and DVD release dates as they become available …
Red Subheadings tell you if the titles are DVD or Instant Streaming, U.S. or Canada.
Green Subheadings are for Amazon Prime Instant Streaming titles.
You’ll find some TV series Hulu, Acorn TV, Networks, and other platforms information in Pink. I can only include selected Canadian Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu titles – TV series and hot new movies.”

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.

This is the 66th Post, for10/2/20
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays).

Next full post, 11/20/20


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 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 10/2/20). If a show is on a “regular” station (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), I don’t always list the station.


image from Pixabay

Yay
9-1-1 (Okay for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
9-1-1: Lone Star (we like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*After Life Netflix (Oddly compelling; RENEWED for final SEASON 3)
All Rise (we really like this one; RENEWED 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)
*A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley (PBS; intriguing mini-docuseries; she also does others)
Away Netflix (We like this; LIMBO for SEASON 2)
Big Little Lies (HBO; for us, on DVD; 2 SEASONS)
*Blood & Treasure TNT (RENEWED for SEASON 2, but delayed premiere)
Blue Bloods (RENEWED for SEASON 11)
Bull (RENEWED for SEASON 5)
*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 5; RENEWED for SEASONS 6, 7, 8)
Chicago PD (Okay for SEASON 7; RENEWED for SEASONS 8, 9, 10)
Chicago Fire (Okay for SEASON 8; RENEWED for SEASONS 9, 10, 11)
D.C.’s Stargirl (Watchable and unexpectedly funny for SEASON 1; RENEWED for SEASON 2); The CW
Documentary Now! TBS (now in its 4th SEASON)
*Doom Patrol HBO/DVD for me (RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
Endeavor PBS (RENEWED through SEASON 8)
F.B.I. (Good enough for SEASON 2 and RENEWED for SEASON 3)
F.B.I.: Most Wanted (We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Frankie Drake Mysteries (great! RENEWED for SEASON 3; PBS, Netflix & Ovation (DVD for us; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee TBS (RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*Genius (Einstein, 2017; Picasso, 2018; Aretha Franklin, ? August?/20)
Gone WGN (We like this; LIMBO for SEASON 2)
*Good Girls (good enough for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Grace & Frankie (Netflix, RENEWED for final SEASON 6; only OKAY)
*Grey’s Anatomy (Good for & RENEWED for SEASONS 16 & 17)
Heartland Netflix [13 SEASONS there and on UPTV, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 13 released July, 2020; SEASON 14 releases Aug, 2021; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 10/2/20]
Janet King (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
L.A.’s Finest Fox (already aired 2 SEASONS on Spectrum; we like it)
*Last Tango in Halifax PBS (returned for SEASON 6 on 9/20/20)
Lewis (We liked this; several SEASONS, DVDs)
Luther (we like this enough, but it’s violent) 6 SEASONS on AMAZON; LIMBO for SEASON 7
Manifest (intriguing; Okay but confusing for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Midsomer Murders (Netflix has 20 SEASONS; DVDs for the rest; we like this a lot; LIMBO for SEASON 23, Britbox/DVD)
*Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Another great, feminist, Australian series; 3 SEASONS and 3 films [planned]; Netflix)
*mixed-ish (I like it; RENEWED 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 3, 4, 5)
NCIS (Okay for SEASON 17; RENEWED for SEASON 18)
NCIS New Orleans (Okay for SEASON 6; RENEWED for SEASON 7)
Northern Rescue Netflix (We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Ozark (FUN to see “my” lake! Okay for SEASON 2; Netflix; RENEWED for final SEASON 4)
Private Eyes ION Channel (trite, but somewhat cute; splits its SEASONS, June/February, but delayed for 2020)
Prodigal Son (great writing, but DARK; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Republic of Doyle (6 SEASONS; we increasingly liked this; Netflix)
Scott & Bailey (liked this a lot; 5 SEASONS; DVDs)
Shakespeare & Hathaway PBS (We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Shetland ACORN /BritBox (We like this; several SEASONS on DVD; RENEWED through SEASON 6)
Station 19 (Trite, but watchable; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Stumptown (We like it enough; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
Sweet Magnolias Netflix (we like this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
The Blacklist (uneven for SEASON 7; RENEWED for SEASON 8)
The Bletchley Circle [DVDs; RENEWED for SEASON 2 in (having relocated to) San Francisco]
The Bodyguard PBS (sadly compelling; LIMBO for SEASON 2)
*The Bold Type Freeform (Great for SEASON 4; LIMBO SEASON 5)
The Brokenwood Mysteries (we like this a lot; LIMBO for SEASON 7)
The Coroner (we like SEASON 1; SEASON 2 premieres 10/7/20, on The CW)
The Good Doctor (good; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
The Good Fight  (Excellent for SEASONS 1, 2 & 3; awaiting DVD for SEASON 4)
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 12)
The Heart Guy (aka Doctor, Doctor) (DVDs; RENEWED through SEASON 5)
The Kominsky Method Netflix (very fun; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (RENEWED for SEASON 4)
*The Messiah Netflix (I was intrigued, but CANCELED for SEASON 2)
The Orville (but moved to Hulu for final SEASON 3; so, DVD for us)
The Resident (Good; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
The Rookie (Good; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
*The Split PBS/Sundance TV (great acting but depressing plots; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Transplant NBC (we like this)
*Unforgotten PBS (Extremely well-written, acted, intriguing; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Van der Valk PBS (already aired 2 SEASONS in the UK; we like it)
Virgin River Netflix (SEASON 2 releases late 2020; RENEWED for SEASON 3; we like it)
*You (weirdly fascinating; moved to Netflix; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
*Younger TV Land (I like this; RENEWED, but premiere delayed for SEASON 7)
*Young Sheldon (Good; RENEWED for SEASON 4; SEASON 5 and all previous SEASONS coming to Nick at Nite)
*Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBC (resurrected from CANCELED to RENEWED for SEASON 2!)

Check our opinions against the networks’ decisions with updated lists of Canceled and Renewed/Canceled shows (UPDATED 10/2/20):
 http://TVShowsCancelled.com/

Nay
Perry Mason HBO (we got to watch 1 free Episode and HATED this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
*Miracle Workers
TBS (bearable for SEASON 1 but not SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
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 new wife, instead)
*This Is Us (OFF OUR LIST: egregiously awful scripts in SEASONS 2 & 3; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 – 6, anyway)

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


(image from Pixabay)

*Batwoman The CW (I don’t like it much; RENEWED for SEASON 2 with new lead)
*black-ish (not so good; RENEWED for SEASON 6)
*Burden of Truth (very uneven; confusing; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Carter WGN (was fun, but mostly AWFUL for SEASON 2; RENEWED 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, but RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Filthy Rich Fox (may be tolerable)
*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)
*Roswell, New Mexico The CW (not so happy with this reboot; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
Supergirl The CW (Not great; RENEWED for SEASON 6) 
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (not great; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (treacle, but RENEWED for SEASON 7)
*When Hope Calls Hallmark (more treacle, but, somehow, I watch; LIMBO for SEASON 2)


[TRUTH, RUMORS and PROBABILITIES are now at the END of this post: too cumbersome!:

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

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If you want to check out the newest original series on Netflix, go visit
Best Netflix Original Series Premiering in 2020 (as of 10/2/20):
https://www.indiewire.com/feature/netflix-original-series-2020-new-shows-preview-1202200460/

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

As of 10/2/20, hot off the presses, the constantly updated renewals, cancellations and premiere dates, by month (all subject to change): https://www.thewrap.com/fall-tv-2019-canceled-tv-shows-renewed-ordered-new-series/

This is the 66th Post, for 10/2/20 
(each post is UPDATED on most interim Fridays).
Next full post, 11/20/20

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.


BACKGROUND

My mom (recently 88) 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….

Keep up with the changes! http://thefutoncritic.com/guide/
or here, for the schedule (UPDATED 10/2/20, for future months):   http://TVShowsCancelled.com/

We don’t watch: most “sit coms”; any zombie or most vampire shows; reality shows (except the baking shows on BBC/ABC); extremely violent shows; premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz, EPIX, Cinemax, Sundance NOW) or other pay channels (Sundance TV, CBS All Access, Disney+, etc.); most YA/”teen” or any children’s/animated shows. We do sometimes get the local library’s DVDs or watch Netflix/Amazon Prime airings of these pay shows, about one year later.

NOTE: Our viewing “schedule” includes a lot of recording-and-watching-later, due to simultaneous broadcasts and my early bedtime.

**usually only Mom watches
*usually only I watch

Post 66, for 10/2/20  

I/we continue with this Friday TV Report: New and Returning PBS/BBC, Netflix, Amazon Prime, regular cable network (non-premium) TV Shows and some specials (shows that were more recently viewed are higher up on the review sections) and some on DVD from our local library (that were on premium or non-USA channels, originally).

Shows we recently have watched and reviewed (UPDATED 10/2/20)

Filthy Rich Fox (premiered 9/21 & 24/20)
We watched the first Episode, not realizing this series is about a megachurch family and its awful broadcasts, hypocrisies and greed (we HATE all that). But, we became intrigued by the interplay among the half-siblings that unfolded unexpectedly, and the trite plot twist at the end (DADDY ISN’T DEAD!). So, we continued for a while. Episode 2 was slightly more interesting, but when Daddy returns, hmmm….
From Tate Taylor (writer, exec producer), and three exec producers: John Norris, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. It is a “southern gothic dramedy [that] revolves around two strong, sharp women who will go to any lengths to protect their loved ones and get their due. When the wealthy CEO of the world’s largest Christian network dies in a plane crash, his wife and adult children are stunned to discover he has grown, illegitimate kids who also are in his will. When the steel azalea matriarch of the family tries to pay them to go away, these newly legitimized heirs have very different ideas and insist on not only staying in town but becoming part of the family empire. Based on the New Zealand series.”
Starring: Kim Cattrall, Gerald McRaney, Aubrey Dollar, Corey Cott, Mark L. Young, Benjamin Levy Aguilar, Steve Harris, Melia Kreiling. Cattrall plays the new widow, Margaret Monroe. “Dollar plays Margaret’s daughter, Rose Monroe, a sarcastic but kind-hearted clothing designer who yearns to be real and find her own voice apart from her family. Cott plays her brother, Eric Monroe. Married with two kids, he’s the Senior VP of Operations at the conservative Christian Sunshine Network, which was created by his powerhouse parents. Aguilar plays Antonio Rivera, a tattooed, up-and-coming boxer and single dad who finds himself wondering if a life with his new family in New Orleans might be the best thing for his toddler. Young plays Jason Conley, an attractive, loyal young man who runs a weed business at a ranch in Colorado….McRaney, who is a Southerner himself, hailing from Mississippi, will play Eugene Monroe. An extremely southern, charming, charismatic man, he is Margaret’s (Cattrall) husband, one half of the Christian powerhouse couple that runs the Sunshine Network….Harris will play Franklin Lee, the Monroe family lawyer and a suit at the Sunshine Network. Kreiling will portray Ginger Sweet, a beautiful and fierce woman with business savvy, who grew up dirt poor in Vegas.”
May be tolerable

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

L.A.’s Finest Fox (premiered 9/21/20)
Nothing very new, here, but good enough.
“From the universe of the Jerry Bruckheimer Bad Boys movie franchise…[this] action-drama series … follows Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union), last seen in Miami taking down a drug cartel, who has seemingly left her complicated past behind to become an LAPD detective. Paired with a new partner, Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba), a working mom with an equally complex history, Syd is forced to confront how her unapologetic lifestyle may be masking a greater personal secret. Taking on the most dangerous criminals in Los Angeles while skirting the rules, and speed limits, Syd and Nancy become a force to be reckoned with—on the streets, and in each other’s lives.”
It’s not our favorite, but we like it all right.
Also starring: Zack Gilford, Duane Martin, Ryan McPartlin, Sophie Reynolds and Ernie Hudson.
We like it

*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.
I like this, surprisingly; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3

Away Netflix (10-Episode SEASON released 9/4/20; LIMBO for SEASON  2)
Reminiscent of Another Life but worth watching, anyway. First Mars mission astronauts’ and Earth-side lives both depicted and edited/written quite well, with some flashbacks for backstories, which do help. A bit overly dramatic in spots, but increasingly compelling. We miss it, now!
Starring: Hilary Swank, Josh Charles as lead husband-wife and Talitha Bateman as their teen daughter, Alexis. Swank plays Mission Commander, Emma Green; Charles plays grounded space walker and now Mission Control scientist, Matt Logan. Other astronauts include: Ato Essandoh as the Ghanaian scientist,  Dr Kwesi Weisberg-Abban; Mark Ivanir as the most experienced in space, a Russian, Misha; Ray Panthaki as Indian scientist, Ram; Vivian Wu as Communist Chinese’s scientist, Lu; Martin Cummins plays overlooked-for-Commander, Jack Willmore. Gabrielle Rose plays NASA chief, Darlene Cole.
Obviously futuristic but not perfect scenarios, with a multicultural but conflictual team in space and many women and other cultures on the ground as well. Great tech special effects and camera work “in space.”
We liked this a lot; LIMBO for SEASON 2

Perry Mason HBO (we got to watch 1 free Episode and HATED this; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
This “reboot” is actually the horribly invented PI-life days’ backstory, “updated” and RUINED, of the original Perry Mason character and series, starring the great but very misplaced Matthew Rhys. Who are these writers (Ron Fitzgerald, Rolin Jones) and what were they thinking, making him a pathetic, alcoholic, womanizing, lost soul? It’s as if 24 impregnated The Untouchables and had a miscarriage. Erle Stanley Gardner would be horrified!
Even co-stars, John Lithgow and Tatiana Maslan,y can’t redeem this.
Don’t bother; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Transplant NBC (13-Episodes; premiered 9/1/20)
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 

The Coroner The CW (premiered 8/5/20; premieres for SEASON 2 10/7/20)
This is the newest CBC legal/medical drama, and it’s pretty dark. But, very well done. We like it.
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; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Agatha Christie‘s Partners in Crime Ovation (reruns summer, 2020, of both of the two sections, 3 Episodes, each)
This second British “adaptation of two Tommy and Tuppence detective novels by Agatha Christie” that are set in the early-1950s-era showcase the husband-and-wife, amateur MI-5/MI-6 sleuths. It is charming, intriguing and well-done. We liked both mini-series (each one has 3 Episodes that are each double-length), each based on its own novel, The Secret Adversary and N or M?. Lots of twists and turns, Cold War spying stuff. Mostly implausible and fun.
Starring: David Williams, Jessica Raine, with James Fleet and Matthew Steer.
Worth watching

The Good Fight CBS Access (CBS is running SEASON 1 for cable viewers, now; DVDs for all 3 SEASONS; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 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! Returning/continuing are: Cush Jumbo, Christine Baranski, Gary Cole, Carrie Preston, Sarah Steele, Matthew Perry, and some others who pop up occasionally. 
Added newly: Bernadette Peters, 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 is fabulous! RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5

*The Split PBS, then Sundance (SEASON 1 aired in 2018 and repeated in May, 2020; SEASON 2 premiered 5/21/20; LIMBO for 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; SEASON 3 LIMBO 

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 2/19/17; SEASON 2 premiered 6/9/19; got DVD in June, 2020; no 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; no 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; RENEWED 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; RENEWED 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; RENEWED 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; RENEWED 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 

*Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 2 with midseason premiere date, January, 2021)
I LOVED this show and watched it all and was sad when it seemed to be canceled. So glad it got UNcanceled!
“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, Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen, John Clarence Stewart, with Peter Gallagher (probably only on SEASON 1) and many more talented singers/dancers.
LOVE this! RENEWED for SEASON 2

*Charmed The CW (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
We really liked the updates/modernizations, but SEASON 1 left us UNcharmed; Mom is out. I continued, and am into SEASON 2, 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.”
My mom watched every Episode and loved the original. I guess we’ll try this.
Starring: Madeleine Mantock, Melonie Diaz, Sara Jeffrey, Rupert Evans, Ser’Darius Blain, Charlie Gillespie, Ellen Tamaki, Nick Hargrove.
We liked the updates, but not the plots, characters or directing; got even worse for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3

*Roswell, New Mexico THE CW (premiered 3/16/20 for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
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 [13 SEASONS here and on UPTV, plus Hudson miniseries; SEASON 13 released July, 2020; SEASON 14 releases Aug, 2021; Hudson is only on CBC/Canadian streaming, as of 10/2/20]
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

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

Virgin River Netflix (SEASON 1 already released; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3, releasing late in 2020 & 2021)
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).
“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 2

*When Hope Calls Hallmark (premiered/returned 2/23/20; LIMBO for SEASON 2)
A spin-off of When Calls the Heart that aired all of Season 1 first on premium channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in summer, 2019, after airing the first 2 Episodes on regular Hallmark (which I did watch and enjoyed enough), now returns to Hallmark, so I can watch!
Starring many of the same characters from its parent series, including Morgan Kohan and Jocelyn Hudon, playing adult, orphaned sisters “who open an orphanage in the 1916 Western town of Brookfield. Caught between the traditions of cattle ranchers and the ambitions of a growing town, they strive to find romance and happiness while overcoming the challenges of helping the children in their care. Throughout their journey, they discover community, acceptance and love as they create the family they always longed to have.” Also starring: Ryan-James Hatanka and Wendy Crewson.
I gotta say: for a Christian station/studio, Hallmark employs more gay men, lesbians, bis and African-American/ethnic mixed individuals and those over 55 as actors than any other studio, and lets them play “regular” characters rather than playing into ‘types.” Good on them!
I’ll keep watching; LIMBO for SEASON 2

*The Bold Type Freeform (LIMBO for SEASON 5)
This show gets better each Episode and SEASON, with SEASON 4 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 for SEASON 4; RENEWAL uncertain for SEASON 5

Station 19 ABC (returns 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. SEASON 2 was better.
SEASON 3 started with and promises 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 but a drug addict, absurdly hiding a disability), and killed off a great one (Ryan, Alberto Frezza), and are about to kill 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 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4

9-1-1: LONESTAR Fox (RENEWED 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.”
Line dancing, with Liv Tyler and Rob Lowe!?!  Fun. Gay characters, PTSD handled with thoughtfulness, fire fighters as humans: good writing.
We like it; RENEWED for SEASON 2

*The Crown Netflix [releases 11/15/20 for SEASON 4, RENEWED for SEASONS 5 & 6 (final)]
NEWS: For SEASON 4, Emma Corrin will play a young Diana, and Australian Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana for SEASONS 5 & 6.
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! For great side-by-side comparison photos and more info: https://www.eonline.com/news/948927/the-crown-season-3-cast-meet-the-new-additions-taking-over-the-royal-roles#photo-920393
—-Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country) is great as a young adult Prince Charles.
—-Marion Bailey (Allied) replaced Eileen Atkins as the older Queen mother, Mary
—-Jason Watkins idoes well as Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
—-Erin Doherty (Call the Midwife) is fabulous as Princess Anne.
—-Tobias Menzies (Outlander) plays the middle-aged Prince Phillip (replacing Matt Smith, whom I didn’t much like in that role, anyway) outstandingly.
—-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
Gillian Anderson plays a nasty-ish Cabinet member in SEASON 3, then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in SEASON 4.
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.
Princess Diana arrives in SEASON 4, played by newcomer, Emma Corrin.
I can’t say enough good things about it. The scenes make me laugh, cry and get goosebumps. After watching SEASON 1, I was inspired to watch THREE documentaries about the Royal Family! Watched (premiered 2/10/19), PBSMargaret, The Rebel Princess and got even more info. She had a sad life, I think.
John Lithgow (as Prime Minister Winston Churchill) was and Clare Foy were outstanding, as were all the rest of the cast and writing. Truly remarkable.
Mom wasn’t interested, but I keep her posted on how great it is.
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- 6 RENEWED, and recast every 2 SEASONS

F.B.I.: Most Wanted CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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

Manifest NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 3 with midseason premiere January, 2021)
We were intrigued by SEASON 1 of this series and looked forward to more, but SEASON 1 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 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)

Prodigal Son Fox (RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Great cast, excellent writing, very creepy but interesting. We’re hooked.
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; RENEWED for SEASON 2

All Rise CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 2)
This series is producing s #coronavirus-inspired social distancing Episode for late April, filming via social distancing/virtually!  Sad, but necessary.
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.”
Good cast. We like it a lot; RENEWED for SEASON 2

*mixed-ish ABC (RENEWED 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

Stumptown ABC (CANCELED for SEASON 2)
A few too many car chases, but we liked it enough to continue.
Written by Jason Richman (Detroit 1-8-7) and Ruben Fleischer and starring Adrian Martinez (No Activity), Michael Ealy (Secrets and Lies, Being Mary Jane, Being Human), Camryn Manheim (The Practice)with TBD to replace Mark Webber (Green Room), and Cobie Smulders (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.Avengers, How I Met Your Mother).
It “is inspired by the graphic novels published by Oni Press. It follows Dex Parios, a strong, assertive, and unapologetically sharp-witted Army veteran working as a P.I. in Portland, Oregon. With a complicated personal history and only herself to rely on, she solves other people’s messes with a blind eye toward her own….Ealy will play Miles Hoffman, a detective with the Portland Police Department who is looking for escaped convict Samuel Kane—who’s probably going to pay a visit to Grey McConnell (Webber) any day now. Jake Johnson (New Girl) will co-star as Dex’s best friend and has an unrequited crush on her. He’s been renovating an old-fashioned brew pub into a modern-sleek mixology joint and has hired Dex’s brother as his sole employee… Smulders plays Dex, a whip-smart, hard-luck heroine you can’t help but get behind. Once a decorated Military Intelligence officer overseas, Dex is now back home in Portland, Oregon, unable to hold down a steady job, spinning her wheels, running up gambling debts, waiting for trouble to catch up with her—and so it does… Manheim will play Lieutenant Roberta Volk, Hoffman’s (Ealy) superior officer on the Portland Police Department, who has a no-nonsense, big-city vibe. Her path crosses with Dex when she supervises Hoffman’s investigation into a kidnapping case….Martinez will play Tookie.”
Very formulaic, but we mostly like it; CANCELED for SEASON 2

Evil CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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

The Brokenwood Mysteries Acorn; DVD (5 SEASONS released; returned to ACORN 1/6/20 for SEASON 6; LIMBO 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; LIMBO for SEASON 7

Endeavor BBC/PBS Masterpiece/Amazon Prime (returned for SEASON VII 8/9/20; RENEWED through 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 (10/2/20) 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.
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

*Younger TV LAND (RENEWED, but production delayed for 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 SEASON 7

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; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
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 (12/25/19 special for SEASON 9 and annually, it seems; returned 3/29/20 for SEASON 10; RENEWED through SEASON 11)
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 and RENEWED for SEASON 11

*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (Christmas Episodes, mid-December; RENEWED for SEASON 8, premiere date mid-February, 2021)
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 killed off the adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest/now husband (SEASON 5).
Chris McNally (Supernatural) and Kevin McGarry (Heartland) joined for SEASON 6: McNally is Lucas Bouchard, “a charming gambler and saloon owner who is hiding more than a card up his sleeve.” McGarry is Nathan Grant, “the epitome of the strong, silent type and takes all his responsibilities to heart as the new Mountie in town.”

When calls the heart

Lori Loughlin was justifiably AXED due to her indictments for criminal behaviors (March, 2019).
Other characters are also “stock” and mostly two-dimensional, but I blame the Hallmark Channel‘s writers (Janette Oke and Derek Thompson, most recently, but there are 18+!) more than I fault the actors.
Also has Chelah Horsdal and many others from the Hallmark stock character stables.
The show is very sappy, predictable, silly and overly sentimental, with many stereotypes and tropes, but I still watch.
SPOILER ALERT: Elizabeth is widowed while pregnant (of course, since the film of the same name stars the character who is Elizabeth and Jack’s granddaughter).
Keeping; RENEWED for SEASON 8

Blood & Treasure CBS (premiered 5/21/19; RENEWED for SEASON 2 but delayed return [2020-21?])
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

Shakespeare & Hathaway PBS (SEASON 2 premiered September, 2019; RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4)
Kind of silly and trite, but we like it all right.
Luella Shakespeare (Jo Joyner), “ex-hair dresser/people-person turned private investigator trainee,” and Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton), a “hardboiled private investigator,”  are “an oddball couple of private detectives investigate crime in Stratford-upon-Avon….Unfortunately for Frank, going through life out of shape and low on cash is no way to run a business. Lu hires Frank to spy on her fiancé, whom she thinks is having an affair. Fortunately for Lu, it turns out her soon-to-be husband is not cheating on her. The bad news, however, is that he’s not who she thinks he is, and he ends up murdered about an hour after the ‘I do’s.’ With Lu needing a new challenge after she helps Frank solve the murder, the two join forces and form an unlikely detective duo in Stratford-upon-Avon, where low-life criminals seem to go for high crime drama.”
Shakespeare-Hathaway-headed-to-public-television-in-2019-1
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 SEASONS 2 & 3; premieres ?, 2020, for SEASON 2)
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 HarknessA Discovery of Witches, and was disappointed that the TV series (now getting three SEASONS) was only on paid channels we do not get (Sundance Now, Shudder, AMC streaming, and the UK’s SKY). BUT, it was so popular they brought it to cable!
A Discovery of Witches is a modern-day love story set in a world where witches, vampires and demons secretly live and work alongside humans, hidden in plain sight. Season 1 follows Diana [Teresa Palmer], a young scholar at Oxford who is a descendant of the Salem witches. When she accidentally unlocks an enchanted manuscript, she is compelled to embrace the magic in her blood and enters a forbidden romance with charming 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew (Matthew Goode). In the second season, Matthew and Diana are hiding in time in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London , where they must find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life. Owen Teale, Alex Kingston, Lindsay Duncan, Valarie Pettifor, Edward Bluemel, Aiysha Hart, Trevor Eve, Malin Buska and Gregg Chillin also will return for Season 2.” Sounds as if each SEASON is based on one of the volumes of the 3-book series.
Will continue, but tentatively; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3

*Good Girls NBC (RENEWED for SEASON 4 with midseason premiere date, January, 2021)
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.
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, but got very violent; okay for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4

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

*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.”
FMI: https://www.indiewire.com/2018/10/documentary-now-michael-keaton-owen-wilson-wild-wild-country-1202011119/
I liked two and may watch more; RENEWED for SEASON 4

*You Netflix (12/26/19 released for SEASON 2; RENEWED 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 SEASON 3 on HULU

The Kominsky Method Netflix (great for SEASON 1 & 2; RENEWED for 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. 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 SEASON 3

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon Prime (SEASONS 1 – 3 available 12/6/19; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
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

*black-ish ABC (returns 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.
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; RENEWED for SEASON 7

*Batwoman CW (RENEWED for SEASON 2, midseason premiere, 2021)
Mom didn’t like this and I mostly didn’t, but watched, anyway. Ruby Rose as an out lesbian Batwoman 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.”
Not sure about watching SEASON 2 and didn’t much like SEASON 1

Supergirl CW (RENEWED for SEASON 7)
Supergirl got an updated and more practical costume: leggings! https://morgan-magazine.com/2019/07/16/supergirl-getting-costume-pants-for-season-5-on-the-cw/

For SEASON 3, Supergirl seemed depressed, angry and unwilling to play nicely as Kara Danvers so much. In SEASON 4, she’s driven and a bit “over the top” with “work,” but finally seems grown up and is mentoring another reporter who reminds her of her younger self. So, good on Melissa Benoist and the writers for finally showing her acting her age! For SEASON 5, however, Lena Luther’s character has gone bad. Damn. Now we aren’t liking the show, again.
“The CW DC Crossover” with three consecutive December nights of sequential Episodes of Supergirl, Arrow and Flash—3rd year of that—Elseworlds, was confusing, but we got into it and liked it. Definitely paved the way for this year’s, also. When the Crossovers ended in 2020, havoc was wreaked with many storylines and characters on all 6 involved shows!
Crisis on Infinite Earths [COIE], one of the most important superhero comics of all time, has officially been announced as the subject of the 2019 Arrowverse crossover.
However, Arrow was otherwise CANCELED for 2019-20.
Still, for 2019-20, “[COIE] will be a five-part event featuring The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the latest addition to the Arrowverse, the Ruby Rose-headlined Batwoman….[and] split across two quarters, with the first three parts airing in December before wrapping things up after a winter break with the final two episodes in January.” January date: Arrow and Legends both air on 1/14/20.
Nicole Maines—the first trans actor as a superhero in a TV series—and Rhona Mitra and Sam Witwer are also joining. Bruce Boxleitner is set to some in as Vice-President Baker. Can Bruce sing?
Another newbie: look for Azie Tesfai (Jane The Virgin, The Kominsky Method) for SEASONS 4, 5, 6 “as Kelly Olsen, the sister of …[James] Olsen…. Kelly is an intelligent and insightful woman who spent time in the military in order to pay for medical school. She’s recently discharged from the military and is currently finishing her training as a psychiatrist. She’s got a large heart and cares deeply about others.”
Jon Cryer is coming on as the iconic villain, Lex Luthor, in SEASON 4 as well. Stay tuned!
Also, another CW three-night cross-over event is happening again this year, with the finale of it on Supergirl (12/11/18), sandwiching in Arrow (12/10/18) and starting with Flash (12/9/18) (which we’ll watch only for this event) in order to introduce viewers to Batwoman, Lois Lane and their version of Gotham City. Tyler Hoechlin will again be this DC-verse’s Superman (he’s appeared on Supergirl a couple of times already); Ruby Rose will be Batwoman; Elizabeth Tulloch (Grimm) will be Lois Lane. LaMonica Garrett is also joining, as “The Monitor, a cosmic character with a singular spot in the eight-decade publication history of DC Comics. In April 1985, The Monitor was introduced as a powerful entity at the center of ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’…The Monitor, also known as Mar Novu, was created by writer, Marv Wolfman, and artist, George Pérez.”
Jessica Meraz (Major Crimes) “will play Menagerie/Pamela Ferrer. An iconic DC villain and a member of Manchester Black’s “Elite,” Menagerie is a jewel thief who doesn’t mind hurting people.”
BTW: We liked the first cross-over, with only Flash & Supergirl, in 2016, because it was a musical, but last year’s (2017) was BORING (alternate, Nazi-infested Earth with too much violence and an overload of dystopian elements). 2018’s proved to be midway between, interest-wise.
If you’re a die-hard DC/Batman fan, read this: What’s Up With Batman? and more DC TV info, link here
Not great; RENEWED for SEASON 7

The Blacklist NBC (premieres 11/13/20 for SEASON 8)
Now that we (and others) know Reddington is/isn’t Lizzie’s father; in fact, he isn’t even Reddington! Maybe Liz has a half-sister. Her mother isn’t dead… What?
The new relationship between Lizzie and Reddington /not-Reddington is intriguing, though, and we like the nuances and mysteries. Great performances by all.
Okay; RENEWED for SEASON 8

*Young Sheldon CBS (RENEWED 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 1989 and 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper has skipped four grades to start high school along with his less-intellectual older brother. 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.
Outmatched tried to capitalize on the success of this in 2020 and failed miserably, BTW.
Okay; RENEWED for SEASON 4

*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee TBS (ongoing and RENEWED for SEASON 4), AND
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Christmas on I.C.E.
TBS (premiered 12/19/18), AND
*Not the White House correspondents’ Dinner, 2nd Edition
(1st one was in 2017) TBS (premiered 4/27/19, and serving hamberders): “‘I promised myself I’d never do another one of these,’ Bee says in a new promo for the event (watch it HERE), ‘but someone’s gotta roast that motherfcker and if they won’t do it, I will.’”
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.
Bee is funny, insightful, appropriately outraged and very bold, extremely feminist and “in-your-face,” but since I agree with her POV, this all works great, for me. I laugh out loud and sigh with relief at many of her “bits.”
Finally: a feminist’s POV delivered with wit and humor about this horrible election season! Yeah! And, more coming, I’m sure.

Full Frontal

Strong return for SEASON 2, but I AM SO SICK OF this administration and all rethuglicans! Impossible to watch during ZOOM Episodes for Pandemic, also.
Keeping and glad it was RENEWED for SEASON 4

The Rookie ABC (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
We like this, but SEASON 2 seems kind of without focus. Not really new rookies any more…We’ll see.
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, but many do not. We think our taste is not “typical,” so it will likely get canceled. But, until then, we intend to enjoy it.
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.
The cast as several new to us: Afton Williamson as Fillion‘s Training Officer (but she left due to sexual harassment and racism!); Melissa O’Neil as his co-trainee and love interest (so far); Mercedes Mason as the Captain (SEASON 1 only); and, Alyssa Diaz as another TO with Titus Makin, Jr., as another rookie. Richard T. Jones (whom we always like) as the Sergeant-in-Charge and Eric Winter (whom we also like) as another TO, with Mircea Monroe as his drug-addicted, homeless ex? wife who may recur, are the rest of the main characters (so far).
We liked it for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3  

NCIS New Orleans CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 7)
Still liking this in SEASON 6, especially Scott Bakula‘s character.Necar Zadegan, is staying, although will no longer lead the team (Pride took one of two offered promotions, but she got demoted so he returned to his former position).
But, why is Pride’s mental health an issue again? BORING, especially his dreams/hallucinations.
We miss Lucas Black and the two other female agents who left, and don’t like the new guy, much (I saw Charles Michael Davis on Younger), Special Agent Quentin Carter.
Also starring: CCH Pounder, Vanessa Ferlito, Rob Kerkovich, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell.
KEEPING for SEASON 6; RENEWED for SEASON 7

*Grey’s Anatomy ABC (returns 11/12/20 for final season, with crossover with Station 19; see other parts of this post for SPINOFFs news)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo. Spawned its 3rd and 4th spin-offs for 2018!
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 newest orthopedic surgeon with an attitude, Greg Germann, and Kim Raver as regulars for SEASON 16 (she just had Owen’s baby!).
KEEPING for SEASON 17; then, ENDING

F.B.I. CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 3)
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.”
The spin-off aired its pilot as an Episode in SEASON 1 and is having its own Episodes in 2019-20: F.B.I.: Most Wanted.
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.
Keeping; RENEWED for SEASON 3

The Resident FOX (RENEWED for SEASON 4)
Killing off characters is not the only way to have drama, FYI, writers, but we don’t miss them on this show.
Jane Leeves (Frasier)may be leaving? But, her 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; 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

9-1-1 FOX (RENEWED for SEASON 4)
For SEASON 3, keeping Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer), but what is up with her character’s brother?
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; RENEWED for SEASON 4

NCIS CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 18)
We are fans of this show, so far, but…if it weren’t for Mark Harmon…Then, Yay: Ziva CAME BACK THIS YEAR (SEASON 17)!
We like this; RENEWED for SEASON 18

Chicago Med NBC (premieres 11/11/20 for SEASON 6)
Colin Donnell leaves before SEASON 5, but will occasionally guest star. Glad to see him and his mentally ill partners/exes and dad gone, also.
Too many love triangles. A bit too much soap opera-esque-ness in these nighttime medical shows: how do they have so much time on their hands?
We LOVE Oliver Platt, and the rest of the cast are good, with interesting (but largely implausible) stories.
Starring: Molly BernardColby LewisNick Gehlfuss, Torrey DeVitto, Rachel DiPillo, Brian Tee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Yaya DaCosta, Marlyne Barrett.
KEEPING; RENEWED for SEASON 6

Blue Bloods CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 11)
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.
Also starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou, Sami Gayle, Marisa Ramirez and Vanessa Ray.

Blue Bloods

Keeping: RENEWED for SEASON 11

Chicago P.D. NBC (premieres 11/11/20 for SEASON 8)
Jon Seda is leaving this show before SEASON 7, but will occasionally guest star.
Anne Heche‘s character is also leaving. Already killed off 2 others. Sheesh!  We like this show less and less.
Nicki Micheaux (Good Trouble) and Alexis Louder (Harriet) join in 2019. “Louder will play Jasmine Price, the composed, bright, hopeful, impressive daughter of Ray Price (Wendell Pierce). A rising political star on the wings of her successful father…” Micheaux plays “Alicia Price, the wife of Ray Price ….She’s a very intelligent and graceful wife and mother. She’s at times steely, measured and dutiful to her husband.”
Disappointed that so many ON THE FORCE are doing so many bad things.
Starring: Jason Beghe, Marina Squerciati, Jesse Lee Soffer, Jon Seda, Patrick Fleuger, Laroyce Hawkins, Amy Morton, Tracy Spiridakos
KEEPING; RENEWED for SEASON 8

Chicago Fire NBC (premieres 11/11/20 for SEASON 9)
Getting a full 22 Episodes for SEASON 4. Ode of my CHANGES conversations between authors‘ guests, poet performer, James Gordon, has recurring minor roles on this and Chicago PD!)
Losing one or more main characters is tricky, but they handled it all right.
A new partner in the ambo is a recurring theme; we miss Brett!
Starring: Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Eamonn Walker, David Eigenberg, Joe Minoso, Kara Killmer, Yuriy Sardarov, Cristian Stolte, Miranda Rae Mayo, Gary Cole; added Annie AlonzehSteven Boyer, Austin PeckJordan Belfi (American Curious) .
KEEPING; RENEWED for SEASON 9

Bull CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 5)
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: RENEWED for SEASON 5

The Good Doctor ABC (returns 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.
Not liking 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, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neil Melendez, Tamlyn Tomita as Allegra Aoki, Christina Chang as Dr. Audrey Lim, Fiona Gubelman as Dr. Morgan Reznick, Will Yun Lee as Dr. Alex Park, Paige Spara as Lea Dilallo, and
We really like this one; KEEPING and Good  for SEASON 3; Keeping: RENEWED for SEASON 4

New Amsterdam NBC (midseason premiere date, January, 2021, for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5)
We like this show better each week, and even though SEASON 2 seems to have taken several steps backward, in our view. especially since it had “calmed down” a bit before last 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, with Margo Bingham and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Reverie, Heroes, Heroes Reborn, Covert Affairs) coming on soon.
We wish it were more like Red Band Society and less like Bedlam.
We like it; KEEPING; RENEWED for SEASONS 3, 4, 5

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime (SEASON 1 released 8/31/18; RENEWED for SEASONS 2—11/1/19 released— & 3 [no release date, yet])
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 [SEASON 21 and beyond on DVDs; used to be on both PBS and Netflix (SEASONS 1 – 20 also released on DVDs, Britbox SEASON 23 LIMBO)]
During this 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; LIMBO for SEASON 23

Carter WGN (RENEWED for SEASON 3; Spring, 2021, premiere date)
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

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?)
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 2 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


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

**Law and Order—SVU NBC (returns 11/12/20 for SEASON 22 [longest-running drama on network TV!])
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; RENEWED.

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

**NCIS: Los Angeles CBS (RENEWED for SEASON 12)
David James Elliot and Catherine Bell from JAG are reprising their roles on this in 2019-20! Mom is thrilled, since she watched every Episode of that great show.
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; RENEWED for SEASON 1

2020-21 PREMIERES/RETURNS
(some not yet reviewed/watched as of 10/2/20)

[Some PREMIERES/RETURNS are still unknown for 2020-21, so I give the known first/return air dates. I/we plan to watch the shows listed, below (UPDATED 10/2/20).]

Link to premiere dates, renewals and cancellations for 2020:
https://www.renewcanceltv.com/cancelled-tv-shows-2019-2020-renewal-scorecard/

Or, use these links for a frequently updated 2020, schedule:
http://www.thefutoncritic.com/guide/winter-2020-grid/ and http://www.thefutoncritic.com/guide/spring-2020-grid/

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


2020-21 Planned Viewing

Herb Alpert Is…  premieres 10/1/20, LIVE, on several platforms online (see below)
Herb Alpert poster
“Herb Alpert
, legendary musician, artist and philanthropist has sold more than 72 million albums – 29 of them gold or platinum – outsold The Beatles in 1966 and co-founded A&M Records, the most successful independent record company in history. Herb Alpert Is…, directed by John Scheinfeld, looks at Herb’s extraordinary life with rare footage and interviews with colleagues like Sting and Questlove….”
LIVE online world premiere of the new documentary on Thursday, October 1st at 8pm ET | 5pm PT, on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and http://www.herbalpertis.com.

Flesh and Blood PBS (premieres 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.
We’ll watch

Cobra PBS (premieres 10/4/20; 6-Episode miniseries)
Very timely topics, this 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….[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.”
Written by Ben Richards (The Tunnel Sabotage and Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling).
We’ll watch

Soulmates AMC (6 Episodes, premieres 10/7/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
Interesting sci-fi premise about romantic matching in the near-future. We’ll try it!
This “six-part episodic anthology series that wryly examines the nature of romantic love, written by Will Bridges (Stranger Things, Black Mirror) and Brett Goldstein (Superbob, Adult Life Skills)….Soulmates is set fifteen years into the future, when science has made a discovery that changes the lives of everyone on the planet—a test that unequivocally tells you who your soulmate is….Each of the six episodes will feature a different cast and explore an entirely new story around discovering (or opting not to discover) the results of this new test and the impact of those results on a myriad of relationships.”
Starring: Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), Malin Akerman (Billions, Dollface, Rampage), Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad, Life in Pieces) and JJ Feild (Turn), Sarah Snook (Succession, The Dressmaker, Steve Jobs), David Costabile (Breaking Bad, Billions) and Sonya Cassidy (Lodge 49, Humans, The Woman in White), Joe Anderson (Brave New World), Steven Mackintosh (Rocketman), Tom Goodman-Hill (Cheat).
We’ll try it; ; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Merry Happy Whatever Netflix (8 Episodes, releases 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…

*Cursed Netflix (released 7/16/20, 10 Episodes)
Starring: Katherine Langford (13 reasons Why), Devon Terrell (Barry), Gustaf Skarsgard (Westworld, Vikings), Peter Mullan (Ozark), Lily Newmark (Temple, Sex Education), Shalom Brune-Franklin (The State, Our Girl), Daniel Sharman (Fear the Walking Dead, Medici), Sebastian Armesto (Poldark, Broadchurch), Emily Coates (Flack), Catherine Walker (Versailles, The Delinquent Season) and Billy Jenkins (The Crown, Holmes & Watson, Humans).
Langford plays “Nimue, a teen heroine with a mysterious gift….[This is] a re-imagining of the Arthurian legend…told through the eyes of Nimue, who is ‘destined to become the powerful (and tragic) Lady of the Lake,’ [with] themes [that] include ‘the obliteration of the natural world, religious terror, senseless war, and finding the courage to lead in the face of the impossible.’ An enchantress, the Lady of the Lake is perhaps best known in medieval literature and legends associated with King Arthur for giving Arthur his famed sword, Excalibur, and raising Lancelot after the death of his father.”
Zetna Fuentes (Ray Donovan) directed at least two Episodes.
I like some King Arthur/Merlin stories. Mom doesn’t, much.
I may give it a go

*Brave New World Peacock TV released 7/15/20)
Feel as if you’re living in 1984 or a Brave New World? Well, streaming is bringing Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to series, on Peacock TV.
“As citizens of New London, Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne have only ever known a rigid social order, a perfect pharmaceutical called Soma, and a culture of instant gratification and ubiquitous sex. Curious to explore life beyond the strictures of their society, the two New Worlders embark on a vacation to the Savage Lands, where they become embroiled in a harrowing and violent rebellion. Bernard [Harry Lloyd] and Lenina [Jessica Brown Findlay] are rescued by John the Savage [Alden Ehrenreich], who escapes with them back to New London. John’s arrival in the New World soon threatens to disrupt its utopian harmony, leaving Bernard and Lenina to grapple with the repercussions. The three become entwined in a fraught relationship that awakens them to the dangers of their own conditioning.”
David Wiener (Homecoming) wrote & produced, along with Grant Morrison (Batman) and Brian Taylor (Crank); Owen Harris (Black Mirror: San Junipero) directed.
Also starring: Kylie Bunbury (Pitch) and Demi Moore as Linda, as a blond (!?), the middle-aged mother of one of the main characters.
We’ll try it

neXt Fox (premieres 10/6/20)
Written by Manny Coto (24: Legacy co-creator/executive producer), is “a propulsive, fact-based thriller grounded in the latest A.I. research. It features a brilliant but paranoid former tech CEO who joins a Homeland Cybersecurity Agent and her team to stop a terrifying A.I. outbreak that threatens us all.”
Starring: John Slattery (Mad Men) as “Paul Leblanc [who]  is extremely intelligent. People think he may be a sociopath but he’s really just a narcissist with money instead of social graces”; Jason Butler Harner (Ozark) as “Ted LeBlanc, Paul’s somewhat narrow-minded younger brother, who is a corporate executive at a tech company“; and, Michael Mosley (Seven Seconds, Ozark) as “CM, a Southern ex-con hacker with a genius IQ who works at the FBI cybercrime division.” Also starring: Fernanda Andrade, Elizabeth Cappuccino, Aaron Moten, Gerardo Celasco; and, Eve Harlow (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Heroes Reborn), who “will play Gina. Easy to offend, a bit of a nerd and ultra woke, she works at the FBI cybercrime division….Cappuccino will play Abby. A smart college who is somewhat estranged from her father, Paul, and has learned how to live without him in her life.” Sounds too crisis-ridden, for me, but Mom might like it.
Probably for Mom

Big Sky ABC (premieres 11/17/20)
“A thriller created by David E. Kelley, who will write multiple episodes and serve as showrunner 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.
We’ll watch, but it may be too dark

Firefly Lane Netflix (10-Episodes; releases 12/31/20)
From the same-named novel by Kristin Hannah (which I read but do not remember well; two of her other novels are also being made into films: The Nightingale and The Great Alone).
Stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and “follows 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.” Maggie Friedman (Witches of East End, No Tomorrow) will serve as writer and showrunner with co-executive producers, Stephanie Germain and Hannah.
We’ll watch

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

Uncut Gems Netflix (film released 5/25/20)
Adam Sandler in a crime drama? Sure, why not! He’s actually a great actor who usually does shtick, but when he’s serious/charming, he’s excellent. The plot is a bit Donald Westlake/Carl Hiaasen-ish (funny, but dark—Hot Rocks, Strip Tease), with the real NBA player, Kevin Garnett, playing himself, and Eric Bogosian as as the bad guy/loan shark. Idina Menzel, Julia Fox, Judd Hirsch, and a host of others pop in: how bad could it be?
“The film tells the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York jeweller with a tendency to bet other people’s money on blood diamonds and elaborate basketball wagers.”
We’ll watch

Lovestruck (fka Let’s Spend the Night Together) Netflix (released 4/28/20)
We LOVE Kathleen Turner and are going to be glad to see her, again! She and Andie McDowell are going to co-star, with Steve Kazee (Shameless, Once), Rachel Bilson (Hart of Dixie), Richard Roxburgh (Rake), Madeline Wise (Nobodies and Veep), Beth Riesgraf (LeverageComplications), Jeffery Self (You’re Killing Me), Linda Park (Bosch), and Usman Ally (A Series of Unfortunate Events), inspired by the French series, Quadras, that has spawned a new version in English for Fox for 2019-20, perhaps. It is to be written by Tom Kapinos (who wrote Californication, which I had a love/hate relationship with and Mom didn’t watch at all), to be directed by Sanaa Hamri. It is described as “a structurally inventive dramedy in which the entire first season takes place over the course of single night at a wedding. As we get to know the wedding party, we’ll learn surprising reveals about both their present and past. We’ll see that things aren’t always what they seem and explore the complicated bonds of love, friendship and family at different stages of life….MacDowell will play Lily, the bitter, fiery supermodel meets ‘80’s video vixen and and the ex-wife of British rock star, Nigel Valentine. Turner will portray Grace, the blunt, tactless, and the judgmental mother of Alex Fletcher…Kazee will play Alex Fletcher, a charming, caring and earnest music journalist who has a way with words and loves music….Bilson will play the bride, Daisy Valentine. A ‘bolt of pure sunshine,’ she’s sweet, thoughtful, assertive, has deep soulful eyes and works in music education. …Roxburgh will play Nigel Valentine, Lily’s (MacDowell) ex-husband, a legendary British rock-star who tries to save the world through music and has a weakness for supermodels. Wise plays the quirky and pessimistic Poppy, the exceedingly blunt daughter of Nigel and Lily. Ally will play Julian, a roguish doctor who doesn’t act like one….Reisgraf will play Isabelle, a rational, smart, affable beauty and mother trying to navigate a divorce and just wants the best for her son. Self portrays Kevin, an earnest, avuncular, gay accountant with a sense of humor and is a good friend. Park will play Kate. She’s a mellow and fun mom with an easygoing sensibility and loyal to her friends.”
We’ll watch

Modern Love Amazon (fall, 2019 released; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
It is a “romantic comedy anthology based on the popular New York Times column about love and human connection….Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight)..,,Tina Fey (30 Rock),…John Slattery (Mad Men),… Dev Patel (Lion)…,Catherine Keener (Get Out),..,Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven), Cristin Milioti (Black Mirror),..,Brandon Victor Dixon (Power), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Julia Garner (Ozark), Shea Whigham (Homecoming), Gary Carr (The Deuce, Downton Abbey), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and … John Gallagher, Jr. (The Newsroom) are all set to appear in the upcoming series….John Carney (Once, Begin Again, Sing Street), who will write, direct, and produce,” With this cast and that director, I expect SINGING!
We’ll try it; RENEWED for SEASON 2

*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.

The ABC Murders  Amazon Prime (released 2/1/19)
Agatha Christie‘s Hercule Poirot is revived yet again, with John Malkovich in the main role. Never have liked him, but these are great stories, so we might watch.
Maybe

Russian Doll Netflix (8 Episodes, released 2/1/19; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3)
This is a dramedy from Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black) and Amy Poehler; “Lyonne plays a woman who gets caught in a time loop, repeatedly going to the same party and dying every night, only to wake up the next morning unharmed.”
Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Elizabeth Ashley, Charlie Barnett.
We’ll try it; RENEWED for SEASONS 2 & 3
 

Good Omens Amazon Prime (released 5/31/19)
If you are a fan of any or all of these: Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett. who are the co-authors of this limited series (based on Gaiman’s 1990 novel); actors, Michael Sheen and David Tennant (who star as an angel and a demon who team up to prevent the arrival of the Antichrist and global apocalypse; Frances McDormand (as the voice of God), Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brian Cox; director, Douglas Mackinnon (Doctor Who, Sherlock), as we are, try this!
We’ll watch 

The Hunters Amazon (10 Episodes, released 2/21/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
(Not to be confused with a 2019 feature film with the same title, starring Emma Roberts and Amy Madigan). Being created by David Weil (Moonfall), who will write and executive produce. Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Jack & Bobby, Fury, Noah and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) is starring, as “Jonah Heidelbaum, who, when his grandmother is slain by a mysterious intruder in their apartment, sets out to track the culprit—only to find himself swept up in the mysterious organization known as The Hunt, a group of justice-seeking individuals dedicated to rooting out the Nazi murderers living in the U.S. under assumed identities. Based on an original idea, drawing from real-life events,”
Also starring Al Pacino as one of “a diverse band of Nazi Hunters living in 1977 New York City. ‘The Hunters,’ as they’re known, have discovered that hundreds of high-ranking Nazi officials are living among us and conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the U.S. The eclectic team of Hunters will set out on a bloody quest to bring the Nazis to justice and thwart their new genocidal plans….”
“Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy) is poised play Millie Malone, a gutsy FBI agent who’s marginalized in the Bureau because of her race and gender.Lena Olin (Alias) will play a Nazi.”
Also starring Dylan Baker, Greg AustinCatherine TateTiffany BooneSaul Rubinek, Kate Mulvany, James Le Gros, Ebony Obsidian, Caleb Emery, Henry Hunter Hall, Jeannie Berlin and Carol Kane. Ebony Obsidian (If Beale Street Could Talk) as Carol Hawthorne, Jonah’s neighbor and romantic interest. Caleb Emery (Little) and Henry Hunter Hall (When They See Us) will play Jonah’s best friends, Arthur ‘Bootyhole’ McGuigan and Sherman ‘Cheeks’ Johnson, respectively. James Le Gros (Drugstore Cowboy) plays veteran FBI agent, Detective Grimbsy, who is also Millie’s (Hinton) boss at the New York bureau. Berlin (The Night Of) [plays] Jonah’s grandmother.”
Sounds frightening but compelling and horribly timely.
We may watch; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Queen Sono Netflix (released 2/28/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
This will be the “first original African series” produced on Netflix (or, perhaps, anywhere!). It is starring Pearl Thusi (Quantico) as “a highly trained spy in a South African agency in the series….Created by director, Kagiso Lediga, who worked with Thusi in dark romantic comedy Catching Feelings, and exec producer, Tamsin Andersson, who produced Catching Feelings and Lediga’s coming-of-age adventure Wizard, the series will see Thusi’s character take on dangerous missions, while also facing challenges in her personal life.” Sounds fascinating.
We’ll try it; RENEWED for SEASON 2 

Pine Gap Netflix (12 Episodes; 6 released 12/7/18 and 6 late in 2019; LIMBO SEASON 3)
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.”
Starring: Parker Sawyers, Jacqueline Mckenzie, Steve Toussaint, Tess Haubrich, Stephen Curry, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Mark Leonard Winter 
We’ll try it; LIMBO for SEASON 3 

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman Netflix (SEASON 1 released in mid-2018; SEASON 2 for 2019; LIMBO 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

Terriers Netflix (only one, 13-episode season)
A “surfy SoCal Sherlock Holmes tone” to a comedic crime series about pair of friends who “solve crimes in a fictional-ish Southern California coastal town.”
Starring Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James .
Could be good

*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!

Collateral (miniseries) Netflix (released 3/9/18)
Directed by S.J. Clarkson. “Investigating the murder of a pizza delivery man, a London detective (Carey Mulligan) uncovers a tangled conspiracy involving drug dealers, smugglers, and spies.”
We like a lot of the BBC & Australian TV detective shows, particularly the ones with strong female characters.
We’ll put it on our list

*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

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.

Hanna Amazon (8 Episodes for SEASON 1 released 3/9/19; returned 7/3/20 for SEASON 2; RENEWED for SEASON 3)
“This TV adaptation of the 2011 thriller centers on a teen girl [Miles] who was raised by an assassin. Kinnaman will play Hanna’s father, Erik. He is a battle-tested solider who trains Hanna to survive the remote and dangerous forests of Poland. Meanwhile, Enos will portray Marissa—an ambitious CIA agent who’s racing the clock to track down Hanna.”
If this isn’t too violent, we’ll like it. The film was interesting, and we loved Enos in The Catch.
Starring: Esme Creed-MilesJoel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon) and Mireille Enos (The Catch)
Sounds possible; RENEWED for SEASON 2

No Premiere Dates Set, Yet (UPDATED 10/2/20)

*Genius National Geographic (SEASON 2 returned 4/24/18, about PABLO PICASSO;
SEASON 3 premieres June?/20, “Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul)
“Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Suzan-Lori Parks, will exec produce and showrun…[with co-EPs,] Franklin collaborator, Clive Davis, and Atlantic Records chair and CEO, Craig Kallman….[SEASON 3] will cover the ‘Respect’ singer’s iconic career, how her work changed music and the world, her time as a gospel prodigy, and her civil rights activism. Many of her biggest hits, such as ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)’ and ‘Chain of Fools,’ will be included in the project, as will her renditions of ‘I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,’ ‘Freeway of Love,’ and ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.’…Franklin received 18 Grammys, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and countless other awards and accolades throughout her nearly-six-decade career. Her records have sold over 75 million copies worldwide, and she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She died August 16, 2018, of advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76.” Look for this in June or later, 2020.
Starring: Cynthia Erivo as Aretha, and Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Shaian Jordan, Marque Richardson, Pauletta Washington, Steven Norfleet, T.I., Antonique Smith, Tina Fears, Ethan Henry and Omar J. Dorsey.
FMI: https://womenandhollywood.com/aretha-franklin-to-be-subject-of-genius-season-3-suzan-lori-parks-will-showrun/
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

Call Your Mother ABC (midseason premiere, 2020-21)
From Kari Lizer (The New Adventures of Old Christine, which we never watched), this “comedy follows an empty nester mom who 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.”
The only reason we might try this is the star, Kyra Sedgwick, as Jean Raines. 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.
however, we expect this to crash and burn as badly as Pauley Perrette‘s venture into comedy this past season. Oh, well.
We might get through one Episode

Nash Bridges REBOOT USA Network (for 2020-21)
“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

Debris NBC (premieres fall, 2020)
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.” Probably somewhat trite.
We’ll try it

The Undoing HBO (premieres 10/25/20; 6-Episode series DVD, for us)
Starring Nicole Kidman, Donald Sutherland and Hugh Grant, written by David E. Kelley (they are both involved in Big little Lies) is “[a]n adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s book, You Should Have Known…[that] centers on Grace Sachs (Kidman), who is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. She’s a successful therapist on the brink of publishing her first book, has a devoted husband [Grant] and young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. Weeks before her book is published, a chasm opens in her life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself….Sutherland will play Franklin Renner, Grace’s father, a retired financier and loving grandfather, who is tasked with protecting his family when turbulent revelations come to light….Noah Jupe’s Henry Sachs is Jonathan and Grace’s son, age 12. Precocious and artistic, Henry seeks to keep his family together as recent revelations tear them apart.”
Sounds dismal, but intriguing.
We’ll look for it on DVD in 2021

*Wheel of Time Amazon (releases in 2021?)
Fans of fantasy writer, Robert Jordan, out here? The Wheel of Time multiple-volumes series has been turned into a TV series! My son read them all.
The books are “set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, but only women can use it. The story follows Moiraine, a member of the shadowy and influential all-female organization called the ‘Aes Sedai’ as she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women. Moiraine believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, whom prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it. The series draws on numerous elements of European and Asian culture and philosophy, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Buddhism and Hinduism….The series began in 1990; following Jordan‘s death in 2007, fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, concluded the series per Jordan‘s notes for its final installment in 2013.
Uta Briesewitz (Westworld, The Deuce, This Is Us, Jessica Jones, Orange Is The New Black, Jane the Virgin, Fear the Walking Dead, Stranger Things) directed the first two Episodes, and Rafe Judkin (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is writing. No premiere date or number of Episodes, yet.
Releasing 2021?
Starring: Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) as Moiraine, the Aes Sedai character, and Josha Stradowski (Just Friends) as Rand Al’Thor; with Marcus Rutherford (Obey), Zoë Robins (The Killian Curse), Barney Harris (Billionaire Boys Club), Madeleine Madden (Dora and the Lost City of Gold), Daniel Henney (Big Hero 6), Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones, Álvaro Morte (Money Heist), Hammed Animashaun (Black Mirror), Alexandre Willaume (Tomb Raider), and Johann Myers (The Medallion).
I’ll try it

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….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.
Sounds promising

Little Birds SKY Atlantic/NOW TV, then DVD (for us) (Australian premiere of 6-Episodes series is 8/4/20)
Originally censored, Anais Nin‘s erotic short stories, Little Birds, are now a limited series. Probably seem tame, though, today.
Starring Juno Temple (Dirty John), and Sophia Al-Maria (The Girl Who Fell to Earth) will write, while Stacie Passon (Billions and House of Cards) will direct.
“Set in Tangier in 1955, in the famous international zone, one of the last outposts of colonial decadence, it follows troubled American debutante, Lucy Savage, played by Temple, as she faces a culture shock. ‘Thrilled to escape her controlling parents, Savage arrives full of anticipation for her marriage to her English fiancée, Lord Hugo Cavendish-Smythe, little knowing that Hugo has already lost his heart to someone else. As Lucy fights to carve out her independence and identity, her life becomes intertwined with Cherifa Lamour, played by Submarine star, Yumna Marwan, a Moroccan dominatrix who services the diplomats and foreigners of this colourful, bohemian world, and Egyptian Aristocrat, Adham Abaza, played by 24: Legacy star, Raphael Acloque, and they all become entangled with some very dangerous characters.”
Trailer, here: https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2020-06-26/little-birds-sky-trailer/

We’ll look for DVD in 2021.

Law & Order: Organized Crime NBC (13-episode series, probably premieres 2021)
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. This spinoff  “centers on the NYPD organized crime unit led by Stabler.”
I might try it. Mom will definitely watch

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 2020-21. 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 2020)
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 2020?)
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 2020)
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 2020-21)
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

The Equalizer CBS (premieres 2020)
We never saw the original, so this is not a reboot, for us. Sounds 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’ll try it

Rebel ABC (premieres in 2021)
The subject and one of its producers is one of our sheroes, Erin Brockovich.
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
We’ll probably enjoy this

thirtysomething(else) ABC (no premiere date, yet, for 2020-21)
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 2020-21, 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 2020-21.
I’ll try it 

Y: The Last Man FX or Fox? (late fall, 2020 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 2020)
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

Superman & Lois The CW (premieres 2020)
Superman and Lois 2020-21
Introduced as a couple (Tyler HoechlinElizabeth Tulloch) with one or two sons (depending on which multiverse they were in) within the DC Universe on The CW ‘s 5-series’ Crossover Episodes of 2019-20, this new series “follows the world’s most famous superhero and comic books’ most famous journalist as they deal with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society.”
We’ll watch

Raised by Wolves got moved from TNT to HBO Max, so we have to wait for the DVD. Bummer. It is a new sci-fi series from Ridley Scott that “centers upon two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task….'[A] wholly distinct and imaginative world, full of characters struggling with existential questions: What makes us human? What constitutes a family? And what if we could start over again and erase the mess we’ve made of our planet? Would we survive? Would we do better?’ said Scott” Travis Fimmel (Vikings) plays Marcus” Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners) will write the script. No other cast, yet, but sounds interesting. Also starring: Amanda Collin, Abubakar Salim, Winta McGrath, Niamh Algar, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Jordan Loughran, Aasiya Shah and Ivy Wong. “Collin (A Conspiracy of Faith) is Mother, an android with a secret past who has been programmed to raise a brood of human children on a faraway planet. In addition to teaching her children to survive, Mother must also keep them from believing in the unreal; to ensure this virgin planet isn’t torn apart by the same religious differences that lead the Earth to its ultimate destruction. Mother hopes her family will serve as the nucleus for a peaceful, technocratic colony—a new beginning for humanity. But as she struggles to mold these growing humans, she also begins uncovering secrets hidden within her own programming, secrets that could help her protect her family, but could just as easily destroy them. Salim (Fortitude) will play Father, an android whose devotion to his human children is matched only by his devotion to Mother. Father is a considerably less complex model than Mother, but thanks to his wisdom and patience, he is no less important to the family’s survival. Like many human fathers, Father wants to be funny—especially in the eyes of Mother—but it’s a skill he often struggles with. What he is good at is always being there when you need him. McGrath (Aloft) will play Campion, a scrappy and soulful 12-year-old boy who was raised by Mother and Father since birth. When a ship of humans arrives from Earth, Campion is exposed to followers of religion for the first time in his life, and starts to question whether his android parents really know what’s best for him. Algar (The Virtues) is Sue, a strong, resourceful combat medic who put aside her reservations about coming to this new planet at the urging of her husband, Marcus. But as the planet’s mysteries and dangers threaten to upend the promise of a new life, Sue questions whether they have compromised too much in the name of survival. Jamieson (Game of Thrones) will play Paul, Sue and Marcus’ 12-year-old son, a boy of unshakable faith in both his religion and his father. Having always felt like an outsider back on Earth, Paul strikes up a complicated friendship—and rivalry—with Campion. Though the two young men begin to learn from one another, they also begin to challenge one another. Hazzard (The Long Song) will play the highly intelligent Hunter, age 17. His father was a high-ranking member of a powerful religious order back on Earth. But now that the hierarchy he once sat atop no longer exists, Hunter must learn what it’s like to be just like everybody else. Loughran (The Infiltrator) will play Tempest, 17. Raised with a religion she never really believed in, she sees Mother and Father as superior to the human guardians who so often let her down. Soon after arriving in the new world, Tempest discovers she is pregnant; the result of a rape she suffered at the hands of a high-ranking member of her church. Shah (Call the Midwife) will play Holly, 15, a burgeoning warrior who is trying to find her place in this strange new world. Wong (Star Wars: Rogue One) will play Vita, 9, the youngest member of the family, but also the most fearless…. Fimmel will play Marcus, a roguish, charismatic soldier, who was the ultimate survivor back on Earth. To escape the doomed planet, Marcus and his wife Sue made a dangerous decision that they must keep secret at all costs. But now that they’ve arrived in the new world, Marcus is struggling to reconcile the sins of his past, even as he continues to embrace the killer instincts that always kept him alive in the first place.”
We’ll try it.

The Gilded Age HBO (midseason 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.” Look for this later in 2019d
No stars attached, yet, and no cast listed at all, but how bad could it be?
We’ll try it when it’s on DVD

Traces BBC First (6-Episodes; July, 2020, premiered in UK)
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

Resident Alien Syfy (premieres 2020)
Pilot and promos appeared January, 2020, then pandemic interfered, so… Premiere date unknown, as of 10/2/20.
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.” I’ll try it

Jingle Jangle Netflix (film; releases December, 2020?)
Netflix’s “first live-action original musical,” written and directed by David E. Talbert, and starring Forest Whitaker. Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Phylicia Rashad (CreedThis Is Us), Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change), and Madalen Mill.
This film “depicts a cobblestone world that comes to life in the event holiday musical tale of an embattled toymaker (Whitaker), his precocious granddaughter (Mills), and a magical invention, that if they can get it to work in time for the holidays, could change their lives forever.” We like musicals, but not so big on Christmas-y things.
May watch

Love Life HBO Max (RENEWED for SEASON 2 for 2020-21)
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 

Cannes Confidential channel? (premieres?)
This comes from the writer, Chris Murray, that brings us Midsomer Murders, which we love. It “is a romantic procedural series that blends comedy, mystery and crime detection with a heart-warming love story….[and] the first English-language procedural drama to be produced and set on the Cote d’Azur since the classic 1970s action-adventure comedy, The Persuaders, starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis. Channelling the same feel-good humour, the action centres on the relationship between an idealistic and ambitious female cop and a Canadian ex-conman and master of counterfeit, 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. However, 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.”
No stars, channel, or time frame attached (as of 10/2/20), but we’ll keep our eyes open. Probably getting this on DVD in 2020-21.
We’ll try it

The Big Sky ABC  (premieres fall, 2020)
This is a new thriller and crime series featuring a female detective, based on novels by C. J. Box. “Private detective, Cassie Dewell, partners with ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt, on a search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. 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.”
From excellent series producer/creator, David E. Kelley. Sounds grim but interesting.
We’ll try it

Cavendish CBC (then Netflix or Amazon?) (premiered summer, 2019)
A comedy from the Canadian creators of Picnicface, comedy troupe founders, Mark Little and Andrew Bush, along with Garry Campbell (Kim’s Convenience). “Bush and Little star as two bickering brothers who return to their PEI hometown to take care of their grumpy and ailing father, only to collide with the eccentric townsfolk and their even stranger superstitions.”
Probably not our thing, but many will like it. We may try it. Canadian and British sit coms are VERY hit-or-miss with us,; most USA sit coms are definite misses.
May try it

Young Frankenstein Live! ABC (no premiere date, yet; near Halloween, 2020)
“Based on the 2007 Broadway musical adaptation of [Mel] Brooks and [the late] Gene Wilder‘s 1974 film, Young Frankenstein Live! will feature Brooks‘ original music and lyrics from the stage show. A comedic re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic, Frankenstein, the musical follows Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, as he inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his deranged genius grandfather. He now faces a dilemma: does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments? The Broadway musical, Young Frankenstein, featuring a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, debuted on Broadway on November 8, 2007 and continued through January 4, 2009.”
Trailer here: https://www.broadway.com/buzz/198044/young-frankenstein-live-is-abcs-next-tv-musical-event/
No cast announced, yet (10/2/20).
We’ll watch

Ongoing Shows that We Have Watched on DVDs or Streaming (UPDATED 10/2/20)

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 SEASONS 5 & 6 in June, 2020; RENEWED for SEASON 7)
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.
For example,
—Why do Sol and Robert’s arguments make them sound as if they’re 14-year-old girls?
— Why trivialize/parody the dying, strokes, heart attacks, losses, dementia, knee problems, muggings, burglaries, robberies and other crimes committed against senior citizens while parodying real concerns about home owners having loaded guns on site or need to be put into assisted living?
—How could women raising several children deal with husbands who won’t grow up besides divorcing them?
—How do couples who based their entire relationship on lifetimes of duplicity, dishonesty, and other problems that do not disappear once they are discussed form positive relationships?
—Does none of these characters have a distinct moral compass? They all lie to each other.
—Good to raise the issues senior citizens deal with in relationships and sexuality (vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, shyness/awkwardness (newly dating after being married for decades), lack of interest, but why not show more respect, even in a comedy?
–How do/can addicts “make amends” when they’ve lied, stolen, destroyed property and relationships/trust for many years and still can’t be readily trusted?
—Do children ever “get over” sibling rivalry? Do in-laws ever get along? How do jealousy and competition and affect adult relationships?
—How could adults deal effectively and respectfully with children’s phobias and anxieties rather than patronizing or minimizing?
Wish the writers would tackle these and other issues head-on rather than with one-liners and sit-com scenarios. The actors would then actually have something to do and the viewers would probably be feeling that their time had been well-spent instead of wasted.
CONTINUING, but frequently disappointed; RENEWED for final SEASON 7

The Great British Baking Show [Bake-Off]  [was/is PBS (SEASON 5 premiered 6/22/18; Season 8 released on Netflix 9/7/18; SEASON 9 released 11/9/18, and PBS keep releasing SEASONS that are older, I believe); RENEWED in the UK on its origin channel, 4, through 2021, SEASON 12]
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 (newly blond, as of September, 2018) as EmCees.
Definitely KEEPING 

*Unforgotten PBS (RENEWED for SEASONS 3 & 4 and coming to ABC; available for SEASON 3, which premiered 4/7/19 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

Kinky Boots
and
42nd Street
on Great Performances PBS (each aired in November, 2019, and online after that; go to http://www.pbs.org/show/videos/ )
Each of these was a London-based production of a Broadway show that was filmed live, and each was FABULOUS!
Each won many awards in the USA and is up for similar awards in England (Tony Awards, here; Olivier Awards there), and well-deserved, all.
Very enjoyable

The Last Laugh Netflix (released 12/10/18)
This grew on  us slowly. We did like it, especially the singing.
“When retired talent manager Al Hart is reunited with his first client, Buddy Green, a comic who quit show business 50 years ago, he convinces Buddy to escape their retirement community and hit the road for a cross-country comedy tour.”
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Andie McDowell, Chevy Chase
A TRAILER HERE: https://movizark.com/2018/12/30/the-last-laugh-trailer-chevy-chase-and-richard-dreyfuss-lead-this-netflix-comedy-check-it-out/
We liked this a lot 

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2001-2008 on BBC; now on DVD; 23 Episodes; 7 SEASONS)
“The aristocratic Inspector Thomas Lynley [Nathaniel Parker] and the down-to-earth Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers [Sharon Small] join forces to investigate a series of murders. Their working relationship is challenged by their respective lots in life—Lynley is an earl, while Havers comes from a working-class background. The characters and some of the storylines are based on the novels by Elizabeth George.”
Also starring and recurring roles played by: Lesley Vicarage, Adam Godley, and many other now-familiar faces.
We liked this a lot

Janet King DVD/Acorn (3 SEASONS)
We got all three SEASONS from our library and watched them happily. Marta Dusseldorp, the star of this, was also the star of A Place to Call Home, which we love. This is an Australian urban legal drama, and very well done. Recommended.
We liked this

Case Histories Amazon Prime (2 SEASONS)
We love Jason Isaacs and the rest of the cast and stories are great. HOWEVER, the Edinburgh-Scottish accents can be very difficult for us midwestern USA folks to understand. Each Episode is in two parts or all one part, depending on your viewing stream. ” based on the Jackson Brodie novel series by Kate Atkinson….[Also starring] Amanda Abbington, Zawe Ashton, Millie Innes. Former soldier and policeman, Jackson Brodie, becomes a private investigator.”
We liked this

Republic of Doyle Netflix (available for all 6 SEASONS—2010-2014— in 2016)
“The sleepy port city of St. John’s, Newfoundland, is changing. While an influx of oil has flooded its coffers, it’s also brought to the surface the corruption—where there’s cash, there’s trash, after all. And doing his part to clean things up is private eye, Jake Doyle, who, with the help of his dad and partner at the Doyle P.I. Firm, takes on all cases—with the odd homicide thrown in just to keep things interesting.”
Somewhat fun, but too many trite tropes and chase scenes, with several obnoxious characters, including the star,/co-writer, Allan Hawco, who is not nearly as adorable as he thinks he is. But, after one SEASON, he grew on us and we keep watching. The father -son relationship is dysfunctional (rather, Malachy, is played by Sean McGinley), and his “relationship” with his ex-wife is downright pathological. Best character is the step-mother of the star, played by Lynda Boyd. Co-starring Krystin Pellerin and Marthe Bernard.
CBC gave it a lot of years and it won awards: it gets better, but is uneven.
We sort of like it and it grows on us

Lewis (was BBC; now DVD) 8 SEASONS
Another very well-written and -acted British detective series, and this one stars Kevin Whately, the co-star of Inspector Morse—which we haven’t watched, yet, because we are continuing first with Morse’s prequels in Endeavor—as DI Lewis, who previously was Morse’s (Endeavor’s) DS, and now he is Hathaway’s DI (James Hathaway, played well by Laurence Fox, who is much like the character of Endeavor, interestingly). For the last several SEASONS, Lewis is semi-retired, and Hathaway becomes a DI to DS Maddox (Griffith).

LewisDVD2
Great characters, not very bloody stories, excellent music by the recently deceased and much-missed composer, Barrington Phelong, who wrote the music for all three series and many more.
Starring/featuring: Clare Holman, Rebecca Front, Angela Griffith.
We really liked this

Scott & Bailey (was BBC; now DVD) 5 SEASONS
Another very well-written and -acted British detective series, and this one has many strong female characters in leading roles! It is a “series following two officers who work in a Manchester police unit specialising in murder cases.” Produced contemporaneously, more or less, with 2011-16. Written by the great Sally Wainwright (The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, Last Tango in Halifax, Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley).
Starring/featuring: Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore, Tony Mooney, Nicholas Gleaves. 
We really like this

*Magical Land of Oz PBS (released 8/28/19)
This is “a three-part series about Australia’s magical wildlife.”I spent 3 magical weeks Down Under over 20 years ago… Loved it.
Very fascinating. Loved this!

The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special with Celine Dion CBS (aired 5/21/19)
We really enjoy a lot of the shorter segments (how talented is James Corden?), and the first Special, with Sir Paul McCartney, was fabulous.
This one was sillier, but fun. Vegas, right?
Weird, but fun

*Fosse/Verdon  FX  (8 Episodes; premiered 4/9/19)
We were excited about this Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon bio, but what an awful man. I fast-forward through most of it and Mom quit after about 20 minutes.
Starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, from Lin-Manuel Miranda & Thomas Kail (Hamilton) and Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen). BUT, after Episode 1 (which we didn’t even finish), we were disappointed. We thought we’d try more, but it’s so DARK (literally as well as metaphorically) that we haven’t gone back to it.
“Based on Fosse, the biography written by Sam Wasson, the limited series tells the story of the singular romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. He was a visionary filmmaker and one of theater’s most influential choreographers and directors; she was the greatest Broadway dancer of all time….Nicole Fosse, daughter of Fosse and Verdon, is Co-Executive Producer.”
(You can watch one of their classic dance numbers HERE, https://deadline.com/2018/07/bob-fosse-gwen-verdon-fx-limited-series-michelle-williams-sam-rockwell-star-lin-manuel-miranda-thomas-kail-steven-levinson-1202432819/.)
“Together they changed the face of American entertainment—at a perilous cost. Featuring Fosse’s choreography, the series explores the hidden corners of show business, the price of pursuing greatness, and the suffering inflicted in the name of art.”
In case you don’t know, Bob Fosse and later, he in collaboration with his wife, Gwen Verdon, originated a tight, sinewy style of choreography made famous by Ben Vereen, Joel Grey, Anne Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth and others in award-winning shows Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Chicago, Pippin, Cabaret, Sweet Charity‘s that was imitated in multiple shows after that. All That Jazz, an autobiographical film that Fosse wrote and directed, was completed during his first heart attack (starring the late Roy Scheider), but he died from another attack soon after the film’s release, at the young age of 60. A true original and genius of dance.
Cast includes: Norbert Leo Butz, Margaret Qualley, Aya Cash, Nate Corddry, Susan Misner, Bianca Marroquin, Kelli Barrett, Evan Handler, Rick Holmes, Paul Reiser, Ethan Slater and Byron Jennings.
Well-done, but awful story

*Jane Fonda in Five Acts HBO (premiered 9/24/18; on DVD in late 2019)
This lived up to its hype: excellently done. Billed as “a candid documentary About the formidable actress and activist.” Despite an uneven script and some silliness, we have enjoyed Fonda‘s playing off Lily Tomlin in Grace & Frankie on Netflix these last several years. “Drawing on 21 hours of interviews with Fonda, the film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to largely positive reviews. Per the official synopsis: ‘[Fonda] speaks candidly and frankly about her life and her missteps. She explores the pain of her mother’s suicide, her father’s emotional unavailability, 30 years of an eating disorder and three marriages to highly visible, yet diametrically opposed, men.’…[It] also includes interviews with family and friends—Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, producer Paula Weinstein and former spouses, Tom Hayden and Ted Turner—as well as rare home movies and verité footage of the 80-year-old Fonda’s busy life today.”
Doing “Climate Change Fridays” and continuing to grow this, and get arrested, qualify as her SIXTH Act, right?
Loved this

*Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On A & E Biographies (aired December, 2019, 2 nights)
This was very well done, and coming after I already watched Ken BurnsPBS documentaries about Bluegrass and Country Music, fit right in. Excellent interviews, clips, concert pieces, live and recorded parts. Fun.
I liked this a lot

*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 12/12/19)
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 with Lucy Worsley PBS (3- Episode mini-docuseries, premiered 2/10/20)
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 (in theaters 6/21/19; we got the DVD in early 2020)
What an inspiration the late Toni Morrison was and continues to be! “Navigating a white, male world [as an editor at Random House in the 1960s] was not threatening. It wasn’t even interesting. I was more interesting than they were, and I wasn’t afraid to show it.” Watch the great, original, Nobel-prize-winning author, “Toni Morrison, in this trailer for a new documentary about her life, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders“:
https://lithub.com/watch-the-trailer-for-the-new-toni-morrison-documentary-the-pieces-i-am/ 
This was amazing!

Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song PBS (premiered 5/3/19)
These annual Gershwin Prize award shows are some of our favorites because they highlight the songs of great songwriters with stellar performances throughout, along with biographical info about the recipient(s). This one was moving, amazing, and fabulous! 
Felicitaciones
 to the newest and unique recipients (first Latinx and first couple) to be given this great honor, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, winners of over 25 Grammys and other awards and currently the topics of the  popular, multiple Tony-Award-winning Broadway and national touring musical, On Your Feet! “Previous winners include Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Paul McCartney and Smokey Robinson…” This all-star tribute concert occurred/was taped in March, 2019.
FYI: Gloria Estefan is only the second woman (Carole King was the first) and the first WOC to be a recipient!
Definitely watch this!

*Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind HBO (aired 7/16/18; got the DVD)
This was funny (laugh-out-loud funny!), poignant, amazing, sad. A documentary on the life and work of one of our most precious geniuses, gone too soon, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.
BTW: one of my best friend’s mothers died of the same disease that caused Robin Williams to commit suicide, and he was not wrong. It’s a slow horrible, debilitating dementia and physical atrophying illness—Lewy Body Disease—that no one survives or recovers from. Her last years were bedridden, mostly unable to communicate with any logic or make sense of anything, not recognizing anyone or any place, barely able to eat or talk. That was what he was facing. Understand suicide in that circumstance, for sure.
Fascinating, but somewhat sad

Love, Gilda  CNN (aired 1/1/19 and will air again 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, 7:00-10:00 PM ET, NOT live/PT, 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.
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“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, from 2016-17)
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)
41st year’s host was Gloria Estefan and the honorees were: Cher; composer, Philip Glass; Reba McEntire; jazz great, Wayne Shorter; and, the creators of Hamilton—writer and actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda; director, Thomas Kail; choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler; and, music director, Alex Lacamoire. These awards “recognize artists who have made enduring and indelible marks on the culture.”
Great mix of live performances, bio-clips, interviews and tributes. Well worth watching.
Fabulous!

*Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Netflix and DVD (3 SEASONS already released and 3 planned films, for 2019 and beyond, and a more modern spin-off; see below)
The spin-off version begins airing on Acorn TV 4/29/19 and is set in the 1960s.
The first of 3 planned movies with the original cast, still set in the post-war, 1920s, Australia, Miss Fisher and The Crypt of Tears, will release March, 2020! It “follows the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher on a Middle Eastern adventure IN SEARCH OF an ancient treasure. The film features several series regulars, including Nathan Page as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, Miriam Margolyes as Aunt Prudence and Ashleigh Cummings as her loyal assistant and maid, Dorothy ‘Dot’ Collins.”
Another excellent, feminist, fun detective series from Australia with a female protagonist, Miss Fisher, played so well by Essie Davis, and a male counterpart (Nathan Page). Great supporting cast, especially her side-kicks, fun music and interesting plots.

Set in the twenties, so Mom won’t watch it. I really like the series and look forward to the spin-off and films. The writers promise more “Fashion, feminism and fun” from all of the next additions.Visit their Facebook page for more info!
Worth your time

American Masters on PBS: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, PBS (out on DVD/VOD 4/24/18; premiered 5/18/18)
THIS WAS FASCINATING and very sad, as well. If you have an interest, it’s very well done, with amazing film and still photos from many decades of Lamarr‘s life, interviews with her children and granddaughter and many others as well as Lamarr herself.
Here are some clips: http://www.pbs.org/video/bombshell-hedy-lamarr-story-trailer-alebky/
I have a particular connection to Ms. Lamarr because one of my former partner’s mothers and aunt were her friends—three young women who were beautiful, talented, Jewish Austrians and Holocaust survivors. After they all had escaped from Austria and made their way to Los Angeles during Hitler’s rise in the late 1930s, these three appeared in two movies together (my partner’s relatives had very minor roles). They were also friends with another fellow Jewish Austrian, Johnny Weismuller, known for his roles as Tarzan.
Hedy Lamarr was the original wild child. Her scandalous nude appearance in the 1933 Czech film, Ecstasy, made her infamous at the age of 17. She married a prominent Austrian businessman who became a weapons dealer to the Nazis. Lamarr, who was born Jewish, fled her husband in the middle of the night, boarding a boat for America with nothing to her name except a single designer gown. On board, she dazzled MGM boss, Louis B. Mayer, and convinced him to offer her one of the best contracts in Hollywood. As a movie star, she was considered by many to be ‘the most beautiful woman in the world.’ Songs were written about her beauty. Snow White [Disney’s original animated version] was modeled on her iconic look. She married six times and had affairs with everyone from Howard Hughes to Spencer Tracy.”
We liked this a lot

The Late Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke– 3rd Primetime Special CBS (aired 4/23/18) AND the one with Paul McCartney (aired 8/20/18)
We LOVE these scenes and were glad to watch even the ones we’d already seen on James Corden‘s show. Then, we were rewarded by a funny opening scene that turned into a hip-hop number AND a brand-new “Broadway Crosswalk” musical excerpts set with great guests!
Guess we weren’t the only ones who liked seeing Sir Paul McCartney in a James Corden‘s Carpool Karaoke segment! Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool was a full-length, primetime special that CBS aired 8/20/18. You can find it on YouTube or online, elsewhere. Sir Paul is also featured on a September edition of 60 Minutes, so catch that as well.
In other Carpool Karaoke news: SEASON 2 will feature many pairings, “including Jamie Foxx, who appears in the first episode with daughter, Corinne; Jason Sudeikis (both from Shazam), jamming with the Muppets; Matthew McConaughey” (can he sing or rap?!) with Snoop Dogg; and, “Rashida Jones and dad, Quincy,” on Apple TV and later, YouTube.
So fun!

*Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (Documentary) PBS (Premiered 1/19/18)
I’ve watched about half of this: it is FANTASTIC! Worthwhile, every moment!
“Award-winning filmmaker, Tracy Heather Strain, examines the activism and art of Lorraine Hansberry beyond her best-known play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” The film features interviews with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, and Louis Gossett Jr., narration by award-winning actress, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and the voice of Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, as Hansberry. The result is a timely and revealing portrait of an activist and artist whose popular recognition has, until now, remained long overdue.” (Press materials)
FANTASTIC! Worthwhile, every moment!

*Mozart in the Jungle Amazon Prime (SEASONS 1 – 4 available; CANCELED)
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; CANCELED after SEASON 4

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)
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 November, 2017; 7 Episodes)
Great cast: Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, Sam Waterston, and many more great actors. But, it’s a WESTERN…!? Gruesome, violent, sad, but somehow, compelling.
I watched and mostly liked this

Garth Brooks: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song PBS (premiered 3/29/20, and was taped 3/4/20, before corona virus shut-downs/closings/limited gatherings took over)
These annual Gershwin Prize award shows are some of our favorites because they highlight the songs of great songwriters with stellar performances throughout, along with biographical info about the recipient(s). This was another great one!
Brooks is one of the major changemakers in the history of country music. His music weaves the beauty of poetry, the universality of the human experience and the inclusiveness of other musical genres, making him one of the most influential performers in country music today. He has combined the sound of traditional country music with the performance style of arena rock legends of the 1970s, creating a unique artistic vision.
Brooks’ first number one single, ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes,’ set the stage for him as a songwriter and showed his knack for expressing very personal feelings that touch on universal truths. The songs that he has written, as well as those he has chosen to record, have often moved beyond the traditional subject matter for country music, such as ‘We Shall Be Free,’ which won a GLADD Media Award in 1993 for addressing homophobia, homelessness and racism.”
The bio info will duplicate much of the documentary on Brooks I already watched, but will still be moving, amazing, and fabulous!
https://www.pbs.org/video/library-congress-gershwin-prize-salutes-garth-brooks-uw7ww3/

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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!

*The Messiah Netflix (available early 2020; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
What if a Jesus-like person came to Earth NOW? That is the premise of this series, and I am hooked. Michelle Monaghan plays the CIA agent charged with investigating/protecting/isolating and/or finding out what’s what with this Messiah guy, who is Jewish (?) from Palestine (?) or Iran (?) or… ? He speaks many languages, is well-educated, seemingly psychic or very well-prepped. He shows up in several countries, gaining thousands of followers (literally, walking with/behind him from Syria to Israel) in the Middle East before coming to Texas via Mexico and getting caught up in immigration politics. He becomes a cause celebre.
“There’s a fair deal of suspicion about whether Al-Masih is all that he says he is—and so CIA agent, Eva Geller, starts an investigation to determine if he is Christ or a conman, perhaps even the embodiment of the Antichrist. Throughout the first season, we see Al-Masih miraculously survive a would-be-deadly plane crash and apparently resurrect his fellow passenger, Aviram Dahan, and then witness one of his loyal disciples similarly escape death following a suicide bombing.”
Also starring: Mehdi Dehbi as Al-Masih (“The Messiah”). Tomer Sisley as Aviram Dahan. John Ortiz as Felix Iguero. Melinda Page Hamilton as Anna Iguero. Stefania LaVie Owen as Rebecca Iguero. Jane Adams as Miriam Keneally. Sayyid El Alami as Jibril Medina.
I am intrigued; CANCELED for SEASON 2

Spinning Out Netflix (released 1/1/20; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
Love ice skating depicted on film? Starring Willow Shields (The Hunger Games) and Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner films, Skins), this series “is set in the world of competitive figure skating. Created by Samantha Stratton(Mr. Mercedes), a former competitive figure skater herself, the series centers on Kat Baker (Scodelario), an up-and-coming, high-level single skater who’s about to turn in her skates after a disastrous fall took her off the competition track. When Kat seizes an opportunity to continue her career as a pair skater with a talented bad-boy partner, she risks exposing a fiercely kept secret that could unravel her entire life. On and off the ice, Kat and her new partner will face daunting odds, injury to body and soul, financial sacrifice, and even potential mental breakdown on their way to realizing their Olympic dream…Shields will play Kat Baker’s younger sister, Serena. While Serena lacks her sister’s natural grace on the ice, she makes up for it with discipline and fierce determination. Her complicated relationship with her sister is made up of equal parts loyalty and competition….Two-time Olympian and NBC correspondent, Johnny Weir, Sarah Wright Olsen (American Made, Marry Me), Will Kemp (Reign, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce)Kaitlyn Leeb (Shadowhunters, Total Recall), Amanda Zhou (October Faction, IT: Chapter Two) and Mitchell Edwards (All American, The Fix) have joined the cast…. Weir plays Gabe, who seems like an easygoing guy—but under his funny, laidback exterior, he’s a cutthroat competitor who will stop at nothing to beat Kat and Justin. Olsen is Mandy, Justin’s stepmother. Raised in rural Kentucky, Mandy started her own real estate business from scratch. She fell in love with Justin’s widower father when she sold him a house and has helped raise his two younger sons. Kemp portrays Mitch, the charming, British ‘it coach’ in the region who has gotten scores of girls into high-level competitions. When he first signs on to be Serena’s coach, she’s sure that she finally will beat her sister. Leeb is Leah, Gabe’s skating partner who is as mean as she is beautiful. When she’s replaced by Kat as Justin’s pairs partner, she makes it her life’s mission to take the two of them down. Zhou plays Jenn, Kat’s foul-mouthed best friend who doesn’t suffer fools. Jenn is an extremely talented single skater, the daughter of Chinese immigrants who own a successful local sporting goods store and Serena’s main competition. Edwards is Marcus, son of a prominent African-American family and Kat’s co-worker at the lodge bar. Besides being a bartender, he also is a gifted skier who is trying to find his place in a predominantly white sport.”  Also starring January Jones (Mad Men) as “Carol Baker, Kat (Scodelario) and Serena’s (Willow Shields) mother. Carol is a former high-level figure skater who had to forfeit her dreams when she became pregnant with her oldest daughter at a young age. The head of the Baker family, Carol fiercely pushes both her girls to become Olympians in order to fulfill the dream she could never achieve herself. Simultaneously, she struggles with personal demons that threaten to ruin her relationship with her daughters, the thing she values about all else.” Doubt if any of these stars will do their own skating much (or at all), but could be fun to watch, anyway.
We’ll try it, but only has one SEASON

Tales of the City Netflix (10 Episodes released 6/7/19; CANCELED for SEASON 2)
I saw the first iteration of Armistead Maupin‘s Tales of the City (based on his award-winning LGBT stories) years ago—1990s).  As a sequel more than a reboot, there is a 10-Episode revival coming to Netflix (trailer here: https://movizark.com/2019/04/10/tales-of-the-city-netflix-unveils-1st-trailer-of-the-armistead-maupin-series-adaption-check-it-out/), thatfinds Laura Linney’s Mary Ann— in full-tilt midlife crisis mode—returning home to her daughter, Shawna  (Ellen Page), and ex-husband, Brian (Paul Gross), in San Francisco, 20 years after leaving them behind to pursue her career….[This series will] feature new ‘joys and complications… for the residents of 28 Barbary Lane’… Mrs. Madrigal’s tenants, both old and new, will be entangled in delicious new adventures and ever-expanding possibilities for love.'”

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The cast also includes Tales vets Olympia Dukakis (Anna, one of TV’s earliest trans characters), Barbara Garrick (DeDe), as well as Zosia Mamet (Girls, Mad Men, United States of Tara, Parenthood), Murray Bartlett (Looking) and Charlie Barnett (Chicago Fire).
I doubt if Mom will watch, but I will; CANCELED for SEASON 2

*Cable Girls (Las Chicas del Cable) Netflix (SEASON 5 released 7/17/20; CANCELED for SEASON 6)
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”)

*This is Us NBC (2-hour premiere 11/10/20 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. Starting 2/19/19, Randall’s wife, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), will get her younger father, Abe Clarke (Carl Lumbly, of Supergirl and Alias), and two younger selves [Rachel Naomi Hilson (Rise, Madam Secretary, Law and Order SVU, The Americans, The Affair, Elementary, The Slap) and Akira Akbar (Grey’s Anatomy)], with Phylicia Rashad as Carol, Beth’s mother, and Goran Višnjić (Timeless) as Vincent, a teacher of Beth.
I also professionally take strong issue with MANY writing decisions:
—1) the depiction of the difficulties in the relationship between Mom and daughter, blaming the daughter’s weight problem, self-esteem and immaturity on the Mom. That is trite, misogynistic and misleading. Plenty of people have talented, beautiful parents and do not become obese, emotional wrecks. PLUS, how could this girl gain weight, lose weight, gain weight and blame it on OTHERS? Ridiculous.
—2) Mandy Moore plays an odd version of this character, one who is much too agreeable, saintly, “nice” and tolerant, canonizing and taking inappropriate responsibility for “curing” her lying, alcoholic, weak husband to an extreme I find cloying and horrifying. Writers’ faults, I know, but, still…
—3) The parents came from dysfunctional families/bad parents and managed to become decent parents (mostly). So, why are their adult children so screwed up? The death of a parent, especially when they’re already seniors in high school, while tragic, is NOT a sufficient trauma to cause each of their many neuroses and such atrocious self-absorption/selfishness.
One highlight: Justin Hartley plays a “bad actor” very well, which is not easy at all.

this-is-us-2016

Milo Ventimiglia was/is amazing and so was/is Sterling K. Brown (from my home town, Olivette, in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA!), in very emotionally demanding roles. Always like Mandy Moore, and were pleased with two new actors for us, Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson. at first. But, now…
Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time, House) is becoming a recurring character for SEASON 4.
OFF OUR LIST by early in SEASON 3; RENEWED onward of SEASON 6, anyway

Chesapeake Shores Hallmark (RENEWED for SEASON 5 and may return as usual, late August, 2020, or may be delayed)
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Barbara Niven, Treat Williams

Chesapeake Shores

This has gotten more insipid and unwatchable as we go. We start an Episode, then find other things to watch before we reluctantly return to finish it, days later. The Hallmark movies’ and series’ writers make everything so predictable, yet illogical; the writing is so heavy-handed; worst of all, the characters are depicted as being emotionally adolescent regardless of their biological ages. Also, HORRIBLY fake Irish-American accents. Tragic.
We like all the lead actors, but the age differences between “generations” defy reality.
Also, the grandmother and the mother look too much alike and are NOT supposed to be related, whereas the five siblings look NOTHING alike nor do they resemble either of their parents all that much. Terrible casting.
The storyline also gets less believable as they go along.
Why, Treat Williams? Why, Barbara Niven? Why?
KEEPING, but liking even less for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4

Space Force Netflix (10 Episodes for one SEASON released 5/29/20; RENEWED for SEASON 2)
An “American comedy web television series created by Greg Daniels and Steve Carell,” starring Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Tawny NewsomeOwen Daniels, Noah Emmerich. “A group of people are tasked with establishing the U.S. Space Force.”
What could go wrong?
Not worthwhile: it’s like SNL, with about 3 good one-liners or gags for the entire Episode.
We watched 1 Episode; that was enough; RENEWED for SEASON 2

Burden of Truth CW (returned 5/21/20 for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4)
SEASON 3 started confusingly, about 6 months after SEASON 2 left off, and is not very interesting. We stopped after one and a half Episodes. Watching together, again, for now. We had the final 4 Episodes of SEASON 1 waiting to be watched and we kept postponing: not a good sign. I finally watched them alone; not great, but did get somewhat better.
SEASON 2 started out disappointingly banal. Not very optimistic, but quicky renewed for SEASON 3!?!
Yet another legal drama, but this one was produced in Canada and features “a big-city lawyer who returns to her hometown to take on what she thinks is a simple case, only to *find herself in a fight for justice for a group of sick girls.”
Stars Kristin Kreuk (Smallville), Peter Mooney, Alex Carter and Benjamin Ayres.
Story is weird. Some characters are good, some merely stereotypes. Not sure about the likability of either the story or the stars. I watched the last several Episodes alone and found it all very uneven and not very satisfying.
Very uneven; we gave up for SEASON 3; RENEWED for SEASON 4

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

*Miracle Workers TBS (returned 1/28/20 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

Luther Amazon (6 SEASONS; free on Prime through SEASON 6 as of mid-2020; LIMBO for SEASON 7)
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

Gone WGN (premiered 2/27/19; LIMBO as of 10/2/20)
We watched because Chris Noth (Law & Order, Sex & the City) and stayed because of the others and the plots. We like this. This series actually began and aired in 2018-2019 in Europe, then WGN bought and aired it in 2019. Not sure about SEASON 2, yet.
Noth is back in law enforcement, this time as an FBI agent, with Danny Pino (Magnum P.I.) as his partner. They are in this limited series based on One Kick by Chelsea Cain. They will work with a layperson played by Leven Rambin (True Detective), who was abducted as a child, “on a task force devoted to missing-person cases….Gone follows the story of Kit ‘Kick’ Lannigan (Rambin), survivor of a highly publicized child-abduction case, and 20-year veteran Frank Novak (Noth), the FBI agent who rescued her. Years later, he recruits her to join a special task force dedicated to solving abductions and missing persons cases. Paired with former Army intelligence officer, John Bishop (Pino), Lannigan uses her intuitive wit and martial arts skills to solve cases and bring victims home. Tracie Thoms and Andy Mientus co-star….{c]reated and written by Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice).”
Usually “happy” endings, so not too dark.
We like this a lot, but can’t find SEASON 2 anywhere

The Bodyguard Netflix (released 10/24/18; delayed return, but seems unlikely to be; LIMBO but probably dead for SEASON 2, as of 10/2/20)
We found this to be sadly compelling and very well -acted and -written. This is another 6-part BBC miniseries (one not to be confused with the Whitney Houston film) that “centers on David Budd, a bodyguard played by Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) assigned to protect Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes)” (Durrells of Corfu, which I love).
We finished, but the questions were not all answered. AND, even though they killed off/captured several key characters, it has been renewed for SEASON 2!?!!

The Bodyguard
image from BBC One, Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes from The Bodyguard
We like it; already LIMBO for SEASON 2


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

REPOSTING: A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season

REPOSTING, from 2016, with some minor changes: A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season

Christmas and I are not friends. We are not even good neighbors. I was raised Jewish in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, school systems, summer camps and other social encounters. This made me an outsider in an insider world every December.

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Despite about 75% Jewish population in our local public schools, the relentless Christian-ness of the USA permeated. Most of our teachers and all of the school administrators were not Jewish. Therefore, we Jewish students were forced to learn and sing Christmas carols alongside our Christian classmates every year in music classes and choirs in our classes and assemblies. I mouthed but would not sing songs with lyrics like “Jesus, our God,” or “Christ, our King.” I refused to “celebrate,” but I would go along as required.

I hated it.

All of my childhood and most of my young adult life, I also hated Christmas. I hated the trees, the lights, the candy canes, and, especially, the incessant carols on muzak almost everywhere we went. I hated the silly fashion and accessory affectations (reindeer hats, Santa sweaters, elves in snow globes on chains, fake snow on windowsills) and the massively wasteful appropriation of space and time every December. This extravaganza has gotten worse over the decades, now beginning prior to Hallowe’en and including some year-round “Santa Villages,” “Christmas” stores and such.

Appalling.

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Christian adults still post and say ridiculous, ignorant things to me and other non-Christians, like: “Christmas isn’t religious; it’s American.” And, “It’s not a Christmas tree. It’s a holiday tree.” Or, my personal favorite, “You can celebrate Christmas and still be Jewish. I know lots of people who do!”

I belong to several authors/writers groups online and in person, and without exception, they are filled with eager, interesting people. Except, at Christmas. Then, they devolve into ignorant, unaware bigots who claim things like: “If we call it a ‘Holiday’ sale instead of a ‘Christmas’ sale, we’ll get fewer hits on Google”; and, the most appalling, “We did it your way last year. This year, it’s a ‘Christmas’ sale/program/event.”

The most insulting? “You are included if you feel included. Your choice.”

For every kid who feels oppressed by the pervasive and invasive Christmassification of everything for almost two months every year, it’s difficult to separate hating the holiday-ness from despising the people who rightfully celebrate it. I often did/do not succeed in making that distinction. I breathe a sigh of relief every December 26.

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Yippee!

I celebrated the Solstice for a few years. We were tentatively friends, paganism and I. I even created a Solstice “advent” calendar with thirteen paper strips as “rays” of the sun to be unfolded, one on each of the thirteen days prior to December 21. I liked this because each “ray” jad written on it a quality or positivity we wanted to affirm or invite into our lives. That was fun and interesting, and I liked the symbols and intention, but Solstice and I did not remain friends, either.

Winter Solstice

For about twenty years, after our son was born, we—my son’s Christian (Episcopalian-raised)/Sufi and somewhat Muslim father and sometimes members of his family—celebrated a kind of Christmas, usually when at one of their homes.

For two years in the late 1980s, when I worked as the Director of Religious Education for the local Unitarian Universalist “Church,” I/we “celebrated” several December holidays, including Kwanzaa. i even went to church and sang Christmas carols and enjoyed it a little, holding a lit candle and the whole shebang.

Mostly, I hostessed Chanukah parties for my mostly Christian friends and half-Jewish son (not Jewish at all, except by birth). and and then my Jewish/fake Mormon/Buddhist female partner. I did this primarily because I liked to make and eat Chanukah food and give presents. Also, my mom (bless her) mailed (from Missouri) a huge box every year after our son was born that had eight gifts for him and many for us (some were small, like a pair of socks, but still: very welcomed!). So, we needed a way to spread out the opening of these and other gifts so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed and not appreciate any of them properly. I created and shared an English lyric about visualizing miracles to be sung when lighting the Chanukah candles (since the religious parts of the Jewish holidays and I parted ways when I was about ten years old) for each of the eight nights.

latkes

I tried to make Chanukah mine. It only kind of worked, and only for a while (mostly for the years that our son lived in my house or was visiting for the holiday). But, since it wasn’t an authentic, deep relationship, Chanukah and I gradually drifted apart.

Partly, this drift occurred because I became a Buddhist. That made “the holiday season” even more irrelevant. I not only stopped celebrating Christmas, but don’t do much with Chanukah or Solstice any longer, either.

Each fall, when I can afford it, I buy some gifts for friends and family members (honoring whatever they celebrate), and wish people well for whatever they celebrate. But, I also try to keep to myself on the actual days of these holidays, since they’re not “mine.” I really do not celebrate or believe in them.

I do not miss these holidays. I do not feel left out. I do not feel angry. I do not feel deprived, alone, or otherwise sad or depressed. These just aren’t my holidays. I view them with slight amusement and a keen detachment over the last fifteen years, as if I were visiting from another culture (which I kind of am).

This year it is a little more difficult to escape both major holidays because Chanukah and Christmas are coinciding on the calendar: Christmas Eve is the first night of Chanukah and it ends on New Year’s Eve for the first time, ever, in my life. I don’t have much money, but I do want to buy some gifts for loved ones and this is as good of an excuse as any to do so.

I’ve gone through despising, hating, avoiding, celebrating, enjoying, participating, encouraging, hostessing, attending, bowing out to relinquishing December holidays over my six+ decades. I’m quite happy, now, taking the parts I like (mostly some good food and a few songs, gift-giving and receiving, days off) and ignoring the rest.

Buddhist December

Please don’t take it personally that I don’t participate in or celebrate any holidays in the fall “holiday season” the ways you do.

Enjoy your holiday(s). Really.

Just don’t impose them on me. And, by the way, I hate Capitalism, for real.

frabz-christmas-christianity-capitalism-118408

Commemorating an Extraordinary Teacher and Person: Bill Heyde, who passed on 10/26/16

Celebrating an Extraordinary Teacher and Person:
Bill Heyde, R.I.P., 10/26/16, reported by the Ladue Education Foundation in St. Louis, MO, USA

bill-heyde
Mr. Heyde, circa 1973, courtesy of the Ladue Horton Watkins High School yearbooks, as published for his obituary in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Dear Friends of Mr. Heyde,

I am saddened to share with you the news that our wonderful Mr. Heyde passed away on Wednesday. His health had recently been improving, and he was scheduled to return to his assisted living facility, but his life came to a close on October 26, 2016. As you all know, he had a life-changing impact on many of his students’, colleagues’, and friends’ lives.

Visitation will be on Sunday, October 30, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Road in Kirkwood, MO.

The funeral service will be Monday, October 31 at 10:00 a.m. at Bopp Chapel.

Burial will be immediately following the service in Cape Girardeau.

Condolences may be sent to Bill’s sister: Adelaide Parsons and her husband Robert, 3120 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO 63703.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to two of Bill’s favorite organizations:
Missouri Scholars Academy Development Fund
c/o Honors College
210 Lowry Hall
University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO 65211

and

The Ladue Education Foundation
9703 Conway Road
St. Louis, MO 63124

Here is the link to the obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/stltoday/obituary.aspx?n=william-albert-heyde-bill&pid=182178423&fhid=6378

For those of you who missed it the first time around, here is the link to the clever rap written and performed by 1972 alumnus Steve Levin to honor Mr. Heyde in 2015: https://youtu.be/tA5F3XdNcwI

As a grateful former student of Mr. Heyde’s, I’m so glad I was in St. Louis for the wonderful event honoring him as an amazing teacher and person in April, 2015!

Mr Heyde and students circa 1970
Mr. Bill Heyde and students, Ladue High School, circa 1970?

We had a BLAST!
Bill H and Bill W - Copy
Bill Heyde and Bill Weiss

Doug Cassel and Tom Newmark - Copy
Doug Cassel and Tom Newmark (sorry it’s blurry)

Jim McKelvy - Copy
Jim McKelvy and ??

Mark Zooie and Mr H mock debate - Copy
Mark Zooie (sp?) in mock debate

Randy Rubin mock debate - Copy
Randy Rubin in mock debate

Scott Anderson and Glenn Caplin - Copy
Scott Anderson and Glenn Caplin (former Debate captain)

Tripp Frolichstein mock debate - Copy
Tripp Frolichstein in mock debate

At the actual event, many people contributed to a large scrapbook and to the event’s festivities, including an amazing speech by former Missouri state debate champ, Neal Osherow, and an incredible original poem/rap, written and performed by former debater, Steve Levin https://youtu.be/tA5F3XdNcwI, and a mock debate (pictures, above) with many former debaters. So much fun! So much respect, admiration, love, re-connecting.

Mr. Heyde gave a prepared speech (but mostly from his memory!!) of the history of the debate team at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis and that was fascinating. There were many former debaters and Speech competitors there (as I was, having won 4th place at the Missouri state level with my acting partner, Karen Raskin, in Duet Acting!), and students of Mr. Heyde’s. Excellent turnout: many had to be turned away due to fire code restrictions!

Thanks, Ladue Education Foundation organizers, for imagining, creating and hosting this excellent festival!

Here is my letter, sent to Mr. Heyde in 2012 and again in 2015 for this event:


Hi, Mr. Heyde,

I just found out how to contact you and wanted to thank you. You may not remember me, since you have had thousands of students, so let me jog your memory: I was then Sally Fleischmann (Jonathan’s next-younger sister) at Ladue High School (we have 2 younger sibs you may also have taught, Wendy [now, Ellen] and Lauri). I took your Advanced Composition class in 1970-71. I was one of the only students to get a “B+” on a first draft, while most received “D”s and “F”s. So, I suppose I can’t give you credit for ALL of my writing skills and abilities, but please, read on.

Another memory jog: One of the essays written for your class (about game-playing imagery in a short story by William James) was published in that year’s LHS creative writing journal. I then went on to torment Ms. Cannon in the Advanced Placement English class my senior year by never getting less than a “B” on any written paper, while acting up in her class a lot (I did win the vote [along with our class President, Andy Eder] for “Class Clown” in our yearbook’s “Senior Superlatives,” after all…).

Although I had been published, starting as a 4th-grader, in school and camp newsletters, for short stories, articles, poetry and songs, and again as a freshman, in Missouri Youth Writes, for a poem, prior to having your class, I felt that this essay’s being published was my first “adult” placement. As an actual adult, I have had short stories, poetry, articles, nonfiction books, songs and plays published and produced by others, and served as an editor/rewriter/proofreader for many publications.

In 2013, I became a blogger (Sally Ember, Ed.D., http://www.sallyember.com), and a self-published science-fiction author with Volume I, This Changes Everything, of The Spanners Series</strong>; in 2014, I added Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, and I hope to add Volume III, This Is/is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in 2015 and seven more after that! In 2014, I began hosting my own talk show, conversations between authors, CHANGES, and I often think of you while talking to others about their writing. I also write reviews for Goodreads and Amazon, and while critiquing others’ books, your phrases about what constitutes “good” or “bad” writing often come to mind.

I credit you and want to thank you for modeling for me (and many others, I’m sure) how to teach and inspiring me to teach composition and writing to adolescents and young adults. I went on, after teaching elementary school and middle school language arts, to teach writing: for five summers at Upward Bound; for several years at three community colleges; for five years at two different universities; and, for six years in community education locales, including Corrections Education, in several states. While acquiring my Master’s and doctorate at UMASS/Amherst, I taught writing in Peter Elbow’s peer review process’ domain. I also have had occasional contract work as a researcher/ writer/ editor/ proofreader. I know that your recognition of my writing as “good” (a characterization you did not give out to many pieces) set me on this path.

I think of you often, as a great teacher and someone who inspired me to write more and to teach writing. Even 43 years later, I can picture you perfectly, gesticulating strongly, your necktie blowing about as you passionately enjoined us to become literary critics, not just essay-writers. “Literary criticism” was a foreign concept to me as a junior in high school, until your class. I had learned about symbolism, metaphor and allusion, even how to cite quotations. But, putting it all together analytically, originally, and interestingly? Never even crossed my mind, until you gave us your assignments.

You opened me to a whole new intellectual world. I remember with intense clarity the exact moment when I first “got” what you were trying to convey, and understood (in a very basic way, but still, understood) how to construct a critique. I was astonished. It was as if you had been decrypting a code, helping us to begin using a secret language within English. I really was thrilled to be part of this new “club.”

Yes, I am a geek. I usually read over 250 books a year. Yes; I do. I have, since elementary school, been an avid reader. I was also an athlete: a runner, a cheerleader in 9th grade, a gymnast and field hockey player; also, I am a musician and singer/actor; and, in high school, I was “popular,” including having been elected/selected to that pinnacle for girls in that era, a cheerleader. This is to say to your students that these “identities” are not mutually exclusive: being inducted into the National Honor Society and having lots of friends happily co-exist in many, and I heartily encourage your students to cultivate both their brains and their hearts.You will help them, I’m sure.

I mainly wanted you to know what a great influence and help you were in my professional life, and what warm memories I have of your class. Never think your import was forgotten or unsung, even if we don’t find you to tell you: THANK YOU!

Best to you and your students, past, current and future. Write on!

Take care,

Sally (Fleischmann) Ember, Ed.D.


Do you have a teacher, coach or other mentor you’d like to thank? Start by commenting here and keep on sharing! #thankateacher

Mr Heyde and one student
Mr. Bill Heyde and student, Ladue High School, circa 1970?

New job report, 2 days in…

New job report, 2 days in…

HiSET FEATHER

FYI: rolling registration for “Doors to Success” High School Equivalency (HSE) “HiSET” (no longer called the G.E.D. in Missouri) exams preparation, academic skills improvement and life/jobs skills program for youth ages 17 – 23, in both Maplewood (mornings) and Hazelwood/Spanish Lake (mornings and afternoons), in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA, throughout the year! 314-415-4940 for more information and to sign up for an Orientation (occurring about twice/month). Also, Parkway area AEL has regular Adult Education and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes year-round, too, in dozens of locations around the County.

1) role-played and coached a student on her first job interview (will find out today how she think the actual interview went);

2) explained to a student studying history what economic and social classes are, what defines them and how they impact politics as well as which groups were denied the vote in the USA and for how long;

3) collaborated with a student to choose her assignment topics for critical reading and vocabulary building and she chose to include a story about Uri Geller (friends, family members and readers of The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Volume I, This Changes Everything, know why that is funny);

4) figured out how to and did “open” the space for the afternoon session (not uncomplicated);

5) went over pre-testing and class assignment results with two students and explained/discussed which questions were actually “wrong” because they didn’t know the answer and which were “I read it too fast or not carefully” issues;

6) explained to three students how test-makers try to trick test-takers and how not to be fooled;

7) when asked “What were things like for you when you were 17?” related the story of my taking several hours off from school to sit in our dad’s car and listen to the radio in the school parking lot, waiting to hear what lottery draft number was going to be assigned randomly to my one-year-older-than-I brother and my then-boyfriend. Told her how I sat there, alone, crying and praying they would get a high number, meaning, they would not be drafted for the war in Vietnam.

the-vietnam-war-13-728

I explained how that was horrifying because others I knew would and did get drafted. Got teary telling her what a scary, terrible time that was for all the boys and people who loved them.

She was very quiet and got teary, too, and then said; “I meant, what music did you listen to?” We laughed.

All in all, a good two days! Thanks, Parkway Area Adult Education and Literacy, for including me in your teaching staff for “Doors to Success”!

AEL logo real

P.S.: #7 reminded me (a little too late…) of an incident that happened to my dear friend and fellow parent, Bill Whyte (Badger Bill), with his daughter, Emily Schwerin-Whyte, when she was about four years old in the early 1980s.
Emily asked her father, a renowned expert on visualization, stress management, relaxation and such: “Daddy? What is ‘stress’?”
Bill, in his best fatherly voice, was about to launch into an explanation of stress fit for a 4-year-old when he has the perspicacity to ask: “What do you mean, Emily?”
She answered: “Oh, you know: like ‘seamstress.'”
He said that he blew out a long breath and was relieved that he hadn’t burdened his pre-schooler with his prepared, long, drawn-out explanation that she hadn’t really requested….

I should have remembered that!

How to Estimate Agenda Times for a Meeting/Workshop in the USA

How to Estimate Agenda Times for a Meeting/Workshop in the USA
OR

Time Management for the Eternally Optimistic and Always Late Facilitators/Leaders

I have worked in nonprofits, educational and other venues for which meetings (workshops, Board meetings, conference convocations, etc.) are a necessity. I cannot count how many times I have sat through a session run by someone else who could not figure out how to manage the time for the stated agenda, nor how to create an agenda that could actually be completed in the time allotted.

Frustrating, insulting and disrespectful to those in attendance, and otherwise a TIME WASTER.

running effective mtgs
image and meme info from http://www.inspiredemployee.com “Running Effective Meetings”

My friend and colleague, Mario Cossa, and I have coined the term “pre-crastinators” endearingly to refer to ourselves. Pre-crastinators are prepared early so that we are able to and do send out agendae AS PROMISED, distribute minutes or preparatory materials in advance and do not make other wait.

Leaders are training people with every move
—I never start late, even if I and only a few others are on time, because if I did, then I would be dishonoring those who made the effort to be punctual and training participants/members to believe that being on time won’t matter in the future.
—Similarly, I always end on time, unless I have asked the group for permission to extend our time and been granted that.

When an item requires more time
I must notice this so that we can take a break from the agenda to discuss this dilemma PRIOR to the ending time and list what our options are. The members can then let me know if adding a specific number of minutes to complete a specific item/task is acceptable or if we have to postpone that item’s completion.

If we run late, then, it is as a group and not based solely on my decision or due to poor planning. These approaches to time management show respect and organizational control. Therefore, I make sure that I/we can conclude the event and its agenda by the end of our agreed-upon time limit, with designated items labeled in advance that must be discussed at more than one meeting.

start and end on time
image from http://http://www.slideshare.net/gretchenrubin/gr-14-tips-for-running-a-good-meeting-2/2-1_Very_obvious_Start_on “Start and End on Time”

Therefore, I offer my pearls of wisdom from decades of managing time extraordinarily well. Take notes.

Let’s use an hour-long session as the prototype for this list of tips.

Opening, Closing and Pacing a Session

  • Allow three minutes extra for “entry” and “ending” than whatever you have planned. TOTAL TIME: 6 minutes
  • Allow one minute between agenda items/activities for transitions. TOTAL TIME: 6 minutes
  • Include announcements, brief introductions, setting meeting format/ground rules (if needed), selecting timekeepers/co-facilitators (if desired), site’s logistics (for longer sessions, the locations of bathrooms, break times, fire exits) thank-you’s and other necessities up front or at the end: allow about two minutes for each. TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

    opening the mtg
    image from http://vismap.blogspot.com “Opening the Meeting”

  • Allow a “next steps” agenda item preceding the conclusion of any session for at least five minutes to have participants be assigned/volunteer for tasks, set time expectations/deadlines, and confirm/set the next meeting date/place/leadership. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
  • Remind people of the last session(s) or read and accept the minutes to get everyone back into this group’s objectives from wherever they each just came to your session from, especially if more than two weeks have elapsed between sessions. Allow 5 minutes for this re-cap. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
  • Make sure everyone has a chance to speak during an hour-long session by inviting individuals by name to contribute at least once. During the wrap-up, ask if anyone has anything else to say before ending. Allow 4 minutes for this. TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

You actually have only 30 minutes for your “hour-long” session’s actual agenda. Truly. And, that is only if you start and end on time. Schedule more sessions if you need more time.

What about introductions?
—NEVER use your precious session’s time for longer introductions of members’ UNLESS that is the sole purpose of your session.
—When your group has more than five people and you have only scheduled one meeting, you can’t use more than about 15-30 seconds to “meet” each other by way of self-introduction for each person.
—Be clear about that up front and then model the proper format for the group by going first.

quick intros
“Quick Introductions”

Generating and Upholding Realistic Time Expectations

  • For a 30-minute agenda, no item should be allocated more than 10 minutes unless it is the main focus of the entire session.
  • Sub-divide any complex item’s components into 3- to 10-minute slots to keep people’s attention and keep you (the leader/time-keeper) on task.
  • For a 30-minute agenda, a maximum of 3 items should actually require group discussion and/or voting/ consensus/ confirmation of learning. If you have more, you need a longer meeting time.
  • Allow up to twelve minutes, total time, for each major agenda item, start to finish, including transitions between sub-items. If any requires more than 12 total minutes, postpone/table some of the decision/learning to the next meeting.
  • Put the designated/expected times for each item right next to it.

Sample-Agenda-copy
image from http://northboundsales.com “Sample Agenda with Times Listed”

People Management
I do not let others hijack my meetings or workshops with unending stories, unfiltered confessions, boring and repetitious contributions (like your own voice much?) or other time-wasters.
I make sure everyone has a chance to speak who wants to contribute.
When I run the meeting or workshop, everyone can relax, listen and participate well.
I facilitate with humor, grace and firmness.
People LOVE my workshops and meetings because I use their time respectfully.

  • If you have groups whose members consistently keep on “running off” verbally, rotate the timekeeping and agenda-maintenance roles (per meeting or per item) and don’t assume these all yourself.
  • Bring a visible/audible timer and use it for each item. Set the timer to go off or have the timekeeper announce when there is one minute left for that item and again when that item’s time has elapsed.

    timer
    “Visible/Audible Timer”

  • When more time is actually needed for an item than was anticipated (new issues or problems arose, a useful activity or discussion is occurring), discuss extending the time and get consensus about that with the group AND announce that you/we are deciding that some other item(s) will now have to wait until the next meeting OR we can agree to postpone finishing this one until our next meeting.
  • Rephrase, reframe or thank each contributor with as few words as possible.
  • When someone starts to be repetitive or repeat someone else’s contribution, interrupt them with something like this: “I appreciate your enthusiasm/interest/knowledge, but we don’t have time to go over the same ground here. Do you have anything new to add?”
  • Remind people to add to/refer to rather than repeat others’ contributions by saying: “I agree/disagree with [THAT PERSON], AND/BUT…” and thank them for their conciseness in advance.
  • Use your hands and face as traffic/time controllers: hold up one finger, a hand in a stop-gesture, use a calming/quelling gesture, a nod, a frown, a smile, a slight shake of your head with clear intention. Point to the agenda (which should be posted where all can see it as well as handed out on paper) and your phone or watch or the wall clock. Count down with your fingers and say: “Two more minutes on this item.”

ending the mtg
image from http://vismap.blogspot.com “Ending the Meeting”

  • Be firm and grateful, both.
  • Briefly summarize what was accomplished, next session’s tasks, and meeting date/time/place before leaving.

success signs of mtg
image from http://www.opensesame.com/ “Signs of a Successful Session”

Good luck!

Why I #write utopian, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse #scifi/rom #novels & why you should #read & share them.

Reposted from 10/30/13 and 2/5/15

Writers are often exhorted to write the books we want to read that seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series, especially Volume I, This Changes Everything, which is now PERMAFREE, and also with subsequent volumes (Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released 6/9/14; look for Volumes III and IV in 2015).

I am an avid reader and have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 56 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes devouring ten books a week. If I say books like mine—a series like The Spanners—don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

logoAuthorsDen
All buy links, reviews, interviews, readings and more: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners Look right; scroll down.

Why am I writing #science-fiction/#romance, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse/#multiple timelines #utopian #novels besides the reason already given? And, why should you read them? Because we live in a deteriorating, or degenerating Age, according to #Tibetan Buddhists (and probably many others I’m not bothering to research right now).

When I first hear this claim, I disbelieve it. Aren’t most things “improving” for humanity? Modern medicine, technology, transportation, knowledge of all types: in the 20th and 21st centuries, we are experiencing incontrovertible advances, mind-blowing progress, right? Plus, that POV is just such a downer!

Why would the Buddha’s followers propose and then Buddhist teachers and scholars maintain such a doom-and-gloom perspective on life? It’s not enough that Buddha focused his teachings on suffering and impermanence? Most Buddhists must be depressed: that’s what I thought.

I could understand why Tibetans, having been living under horrible oppression, genocide and cultural destruction under Chinese rule for decades, would be so pessimistic. But, we’re in the good ole’ USA: things are great here, right?

Not so much. I won’t go into the facts we all know now (even more than ever, thanks to Snodwen and Manning) about how screwed up the USA has been and still is, nor how terrible the economy is here and everywhere. I won’t provide the list. We all know too well the horrors of our modern life. Modern tragedies, however, are actually not even relevant to this discussion.

The “degenerating” part of our Age has little to do with actual external conditions. Our deterioration involves humans’ not being able to learn #dharma, not being able to find qualified and worthy Buddhist teachers, not being able to practice meditation well or at all. The Buddha’s teachings and Buddhists practitioners are what are degenerating, in what is called “The Third Age” or “The Latter Day of the Law.”

You can look this up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism

My point is, dystopian futures abound. Most sci-fi writers, even those that include romance in their stories, write of increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across the Universe. They pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destructions even worse than we have now. We already have too much awfulness for me to want to read about even worse futures.

Enough, already: I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. Since I can’t find this optimism in the daily news or libraries’ and bookstores’ fiction, I decide to create it. I need this in my personal life, for the USA, for the continent, the water, air and land: I am imagining routes for improvement for the planet and the entire universe.

When I #meditate, especially during a #retreat phase in which I was #contemplating lives of beings in the “God Realm,” it occured to me repeatedly that we live in opulence amid squalor, all over the planet. Beauty smack dab in the middle of ugliness, every day. #Yin and #yang. We do have to “take the good with the bad,” but do we have to emphasize the “bad”?

I do not.

In my novels, even when things are “bad,” there is more good than bad. Buddha teaches often that we have to discern between “good” and “bad” even as we know these are illusory. Many teachings expound on how there is NO “good” or “bad,” no “birth” and no “death,” no “coming” and no “going.”

While you puzzle over that, I’m going to continue my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series. In my current and future multiverses, beings, including humans, will have love, better conditions and dharma: they/we have it all!

Furthermore, I’m going to HOPE—even though we are instructed to meditate partly in order to relinquish all hope and all fear—that YOU read my books and enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Please let me know! Write your comments here on this and other posts, on excerpts from my novel, and whatever else occurs to you. Let’s converse!

Part II of “A Reluctant Buddhist” by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Appears 11/13/15 on The Buddhist Door

Part II of “A Reluctant Buddhist” by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Appears 11/13/15 on The Buddhist Door

Find out how…:
“…did I end up becoming a devoted, long-term student of Nyingma-lineage Tibetan Buddhism, studying, practicing, and completing my Ngöndro (foundation practices) in two-and-a-half years (“as if my hair were on fire”) while in full-time graduate school, working full time, and raising my son?

“…did I go from being unwilling even to enter the teaching venue or shrine room to being eager and willing to help start and/or expand and also, sometimes, live in and be a cook, coordinator, board member, bookkeeper, umze (chant leader), stupa mantra roller/packer, and more for not one, but three Dharma centers (in Maine, New Mexico, and California)?

“… did I transition from not even talking to Wyn for ten years to having him as Lama Drimed (Padma Drimed Norbu) become my root lama and main, then sole, Dzogchen meditation teacher and practice and retreat guide?

“…did I come to learn Tibetan well enough to be able to read, write, speak, and translate?”

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-reluctant-buddhist-how-it-took-me-eight-years-to-start-practicing-in-this-life-part-ii


Missed Part I? Find it from September 4, 2015, at Buddhist Door
http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-reluctant-buddhist-how-it-took-me-eight-years-to-start-practicing-in-this-life

Preorders @50% for #ebook This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III of The Spanners Series

#Preorders @ 50%, $1.99, for 11/1/15—-12-7/15 on #Smashwords, #Kobo, #iBooks and #nook as well as #Amazon is Sally Ember, Ed.D.’s third #scifi/ #romance/ #paranormal #ebook, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III of The Spanners Series, which releases 12/08/15 @$3.99.

Spanners - volume 3 cover final

Getting 4- and 5-Star #reviews in pre-pub: see snippets from reviews, below and links to reviews on http://www.sallyember.com (look right; scroll down).

Volume III, This Is /Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change
Pre-order and Purchase LINKS HERE
SMASHWORDS (all ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
AND
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0177Z1KRM

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back in This Is/Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series. The Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. To join, Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and the Psi-Warriors must prevail in their battles against the rebels.

Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while managing and being one of the instructors of the psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?

Volume III Book Trailer

REVIEWS of Volume III:
“Because this reads like documentation of actual events, I came away from it feeling like my own little life is petty and trivial and a waste of ‘time.’ Like, I’m not part of The Movement and I ought to run right out and start a victory garden or a recycling program or find an ESP trainer and get started learning how to TK or….
“The entire series is such an astounding creation it amazes me that it’s the production of just one person.”

—Devorah “Dee” Fox, Dee-Scoveries, fantasy/thriller author, journalist, columnist, 9/25/15

http://devorahfox.com

ALSO: Volumes I, II and III are soon available in both PRINT and ebooks versions by 12/8/15!

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This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, is Permafree in ebook format and $POD

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

Volume I, This Changes Everything
PERMAFREE ebook LINKS HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos: train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers; communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet; eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries; convene a new group of Global Leaders; and, help Clara deal with her family’s and friends’ reactions. 

In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

Are you ready for the changes?

REVIEWS for Volume I:
“[This Changes Everything] is highly-imaginative, but for so many different reasons, and outside of the normal scope. There are times when I felt that I was reading an actual research report of true to life events. Honestly, I’m sitting at my laptop, questioning if Clara has provided this work to Ember, or if the two are one in the same. The experience is mind-altering, and would challenge readers to think beyond the bubble that we live in. I would surely recommend This Changes Everything to anyone that enjoys a a well-written and researched Sci-Fi series. I will point out that it pushes the envelope, and toys with one’s perception. Well done! 5 Stars.”

–Janice G. Ross, author, 11/11/13

http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember-3/

This Changes Everything by Sally Ember is a well-written, complex work that is going to add a strong title to a genre that can sometimes become bogged down with the same old, same old. This Changes Everything is a book that I am very happy to have had the chance to read and I would recommend it to any sci-fi/fantasy fan.”

–Zach Tyo, Indie Reviews, 10/4/13

http://indiebookreviewer.blogspot.com/

“You have created your characters very well. I feel for Clara, I imagine her alienating a lot of people because her enthusiasm and drive and ability to push herself makes her someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I would have liked more of the reporter’s life and I didn’t like Epifanio at all. He sounded arrogant and selfish. I loved that the aliens were chosen by lottery. You had so many good touches like that, which made the book a continuing surprise. I…have to say it is one of the most challenging, exciting and original books I’ve read.”

–(Mary) Josephine O’Brien, author, Sharing Skies, 9/14/13

“You have written a wonderfully imaginative and original story with plenty of twists and turns. I really like your multiuniverse setting with different timelines and the concept of the ‘Many Worlds Collective.'”

–Sophekles, author, The Serotonin Transfer, 10/8/13

“I love your sense of humor. I literally laughed out loud when Clara said that she had given him the name ‘Led.’ I also like that this is an alien story where the aliens are helping, rather than trying to take over the world. It’s a refreshing angle.”

–S.M. Koz, author, Pangalax, 9/4/13

[after reading 1st 20 pages only] “…In a lot of ways I’m at a loss to critique this because it’s quite different than what I’m used to encountering. It’s a more immediate version of Stranger in Strange Land by Heinlein. Now, what I say next is strictly speaking off the cuff at 11 PM after a couple of rum and cokes, but as it stands I’d probably rate this either three or four stars, depending on how it develops. Once I got into the ideas behind it all, I found it personally fascinating. I’m not sure how that would translate to a broader readership, but it’s nifty stuff. I like alternate timelines and the like…”

–Alexander Crommich, reviewer @ Crommich Industries

“The writing is complex and done extremely well….There were times when I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction and not a news account of real events, and I would consider that to be skilled writing indeed….[D]id I enjoy more of it than not? Yes. Four stars. Did I like the overall content? Most of the time. Three stars. Was the writing of good quality? Oh, definitely yes. Five stars. My overall rating: four of five stars.”

–Lynda Dietz, Easy Reader

ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com, 11/4/13

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99 for ebooks and $POD.

final cover print

Volume II: This Changes My Family and My Life Forever [released 6/9/14, Smashwords, Amazon and elsewhere]
Ebook LINKS HERE:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, multiverse romances and planetary changes? Clara and the alien Band of holos are back. As Earth’s first Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet and for figuring out how to deal with simultaneous time and multiple timelines in the ever-changing multiverse.

Fighting to support these changes are the Psi-Warriors, led by its reluctant leader, Chief OverSeer Rabbi Moran Ackerman, against the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief. Moran reveals his struggles and successes with his Excellent Skills Program training experiences on the new Campus and at home.

Stories in This Changes My Family and My Life Forever come from younger Spanners as well as Clara via “Snapshots” of her earlier life with anecdotes from Epifanio Dang, her on/off lover, and Esperanza Enlaces, Earth’s Chief Media Contact, and others about the first five years of The Transition.

What would you do with the changes?

REVIEWS for Volume II:
5 Stars for This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series
“One thing I like very much about The Spanners Series is the message that we can all live together in peace, learn from each other, be there for each other. All differences (religious, racial, gender, and even between species and inhabitants of other planets) are overcome. I mean, how cool would that be to be able to communicate with animals – and not in a jokey, Eddie Murphy-Dr. Dolittle-kind of way, but accept them and their needs / interests as equal to humans? And those people who resist change (yes, there will always be those, even if it is clear that the change is for the better) will not be eliminated, but gently persuaded to recognise what is best for them.”

–Peggy Farooqi, The Pegster Reads, 5/31/14

http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk

About the Author
Sally Ember, Ed.D., has been passionate about writing since she was nine years old. She’s won prizes for her poetry, stories, songs and plays. She began meditating (right after The Beatles) in 1972.

Now, Sally delights fans of paranormal and romance by blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian, multiverse, science fiction and Buddhism. Her sci-fi /romance/ speculative fiction/ paranormal ebooks for New Adult/adult/YA audiences, The Spanners Series, are unique, exciting, thought-provoking and amusing.

Visit her Youtube Channel for book trailers, author readings, and a live Q & A with Sally plus more: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w

Born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, Sally’s life has been infused with change. She is a long-time Buddhist meditator who writes, swims, reads and hosts her Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) CHANGES conversations with authors, LIVE almost every Wednesday (but on hiatus for November & December, 2015), 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA. Join in the fun by commenting and asking questions during the live show on G+ or Youtube, or visit archived CHANGES shows: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

If you are an author or know one, learn more about and get yourself scheduled on or recommend someone as a CHANGES guest: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d

Sally blogs regularly on wide-ranging topics and includes reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from her ebooks. Visit and comment, follow, “like,” and share! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

In her “other” professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to live in St. Louis, MO, in August, 2014. Sally has a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

Interacting With and Finding Sally Online

Please write a review and give Volumes I and II and then this one, III, a rating on SMASHWORDS, iBooks, Kobo, nook, Amazon, whatever retailer you use for ebooks, as well as many other sites that bring readers to this book: Library Thing, Wattpad, Indiebooks, Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari, and her blog, http://www.sallyember.com/blog. Help bring people to The Spanners Series via any other website that invites readers to post comments and reviews of Sci-Fi novels, especially if you LOVE it!

Thank you for reading and considering the implications of The Spanners Series. Talk it up! Tweet! Post! Write to Sally! Blog your opinions and responses!

Sally wants her readers to know: ‘”I change my books based on readers’ suggestions! Also, I would be delighted to visit your Book Club or class if you are using one or more of the books in The Spanners Series. Ask me to co-develop curricula, projects and activities for your group/class members!”

You will want to visit on Facebook, where she is known as “Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember,” and has a Spanners Series page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber
or her website to find out when the next Volumes will be available.

She is also very active on Google+ as “Sally Sue Ember” and on her Spanners Series page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115730970500394047116/115730970500394047116/about

Follow Sally on Twitter @sallyemberedd and please Tweet about this book and The Spanners Series!

For photos, images, music, bios and other memes relevant to Sally as an author and directly to The Spanners Series, please visit her boards on Pinterest: “The Spanners Series includes…”; “Inspirations for the Earth locations in The Spanners Series“; “Music of The Spanners Series“; “Space Shots I like”; “Books that changed my life”; “TV shows and movies I actually like”; “Writers I Love”;”Resonating Pins” (from others’ boards); “Blog Posts”; CHANGES Episodes; and, “Flora and Fauna that amaze me.” She also puts up promos for her own and other authors’ books on occasion via “Book Billboards ” and other sites favoring Indie Authors. Please follow her Boards on http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember.

News and Other Information

Sally is experimenting with CROWDCREATING sections or upcoming Volumes VIII (for and seeking youth and New Adults) and IX (for and seeking adults) of The Spanners Series. If you’d like to participate by making story or character suggestions, writing a portion or an entire chapter, or collaborating in other ways, please email sallyember at yahoo or ssfember at gmail and tell her a little about what Volume or portion you’d like to help create! Put “CROWDCREATOR” in the subject line.

Must contact Sally by January 1, 2017, for Volume VIII and July 1, 2017, for Volume IX to be considered for inclusion in the CROWDCREATION.

Sally is also running a CROWDFUNDING campaign to get her ebooks into print, improve the audio quality of her talk show, fund the next books covers and cover other expenses on Patreon. Donate $4 or more and get Rewards: a free ebook, discounts on her editing/proofreading/writing tutoring services and more: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember


The Spanners Series‘ covers and logo #art by WillowRaven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com

logoAuthorsDen

All published by logo

#Author #Interview on “Authors Interviews” with Fiona McVie 10-11-15

Check out my interview on Fiona McVie’s site, Authors Interviews, yesterday!

Thanks, Fiona!

https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/here-is-my-interview-with-sally-ember/

Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship – Book Review by Sally Ember, Ed.D., featured on The Buddhist Door website

Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship – Book Review by Sally Ember, Ed.D., featured on The Buddhist Door website

Thanks to Frances McDonald and others at The Buddhist Door for this opportunity to be a reviewer for your site! As a long-time student of #meditation (since 1972) and a #Buddhism student since 1996 in the #Tibetan #Vajrayana tradition, I was pleased to review this book.

Anyone interested in knowing more about how to choose a spiritual teacher or mentor and all the varying types of these there can be, how to be in a better relationship with one or more than one teacher, how and why to end that relationship, and what its pitfalls might be, and so much more, would benefit greatly from reading this book and keeping it around to refer to frequently.

Please read this review and support The Buddhist Door!

Berzin book cover

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/wise-teacher-wise-student-tibetan-approaches-healthy-relationship-book-review

“Should You #Write What You Know?” Guest Post by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I am excited to welcome back a previous guest blogger for today’s post, someone who was also a guest on Episode 15 of #CHANGES conversations between authors (see below for links), and who is an award-winning #YA and middle grades #novelist, #blogger and nonfiction author, Krysten Lindsay Hager!

Read her insights into what an #author ought to write about, below, and please comment here, http://www.sallyember.com/blog and on her site (see below for all her links).


“Should You #Write What You Know?”

What makes a person go back in time to those #teen years to relive all the awkward, cringe-worthy moments of growing up, crushes and trying to fit in while juggling homework and friendships? Was I crazy even to think about writing about that?

Probably.

Yes; most definitely, yes.

But, then again, sanity is overrated…or so I’ve heard.

Back when I began #writing seriously, I had been taking creative writing classes and even did a one-on-one independent study with my English professor. This is the first time that I finished a young adult novel. I liked my finished book, but I felt there was another story I needed to tell.

I tried different ideas out, outlined, free-formed it, scribbled on napkins and in journals, but nothing felt quite right. I had heard the phrase, “write what you know,” but it didn’t resonate that strongly with me. However, when I heard, “Write the book you would want to read,” well, that one hit home with me.

desk one

I decided that instead of trying to write for the market or what I thought people would want to read, I would write a story that I wanted to read. I told myself this story was just an exercise for me and there was no pressure to submit it or even finish it.

You know what happened? The words began to flow. It wasn’t so much about form and structure as it was about enjoying the process again. I’d soon learn that the writing reflected that.

A few months later, I had heard somewhat late about a writing conference that gave writers the opportunity to sign up for a critique. Since it was first-come, first-served, I had been waitlisted.

However, when I arrived at the conference, I saw that I had a spot in the critique queue. I asked the woman behind the counter how was it that I suddenly had a critique time assigned? I’m not saying she winked or anything, but she told me “they had found a spot” for me.

I didn’t question anything. I just said, “Thank you!” and I went to my appointment.

I went in, anxious and about to throw up. Those of you who have read any of my Landry’s True Colors Series or remember the scene in Next Door to a Star with Hadley getting ready for her first day of 10th grade, are now thinking, “Oh, that’s where Landry/Hadley gets her feel-the-fear-but–do-it-anyway bit from.”

The editor went through the chapter with me and then she came to the part in which my character has been left out by her two best friends and has to get up and walk across the room and ask another group of girls if she can join them. The editor looked at me and said: “My heart was in my throat as I wondered: would these new girls accept her? Would they let her sit with them?”

As she told me how she felt emotionally connected with the character, it hit me–—that moment I had written about was based on my own feelings. Way back in middle school, I had done that incredibly long walk in the cafeteria to another table to see if someone would let me in their group after my own crew had stopped talking to me for a day. (Who knows why, and, at the time, it seemed catastrophic to me.) That awkward, uncomfortable memory that I wasn’t even sure I should write about had brought up something in this woman who was reading it for the first time.

It was then that I realized that writing honestly about my character’s (and my) vulnerabilities was the only way to bring truth and authenticity to my stories. The fact that this person was so interested in this story’s world made me realize that I had something that someone wanted to read.

desk two
Krysten’s Writing Area

I found out that when I focused on the story I needed to tell and had written from a different place inside of me, that all brought my book to life. It made me realize the importance of writing what is in your heart–—the story only you can tell.


Krysten’s new release!

NEXT DOOR TO A STAR
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Audience: Young Adult
Realistic Fiction

★ SYNOPSIS ★

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next-door-neighbor is none other than teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be–—pretty, popular, and famous—–and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet and good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So, when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnLXsu2c43k

Next Door to a Star
NextDoor Cover

Excerpt from Next Door to a Star:

The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.
Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me.

You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—–like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain.

I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was–—making me feel like a blob in comparison—–but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing.

But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

About Krysten

Krysten Lindsay Hager
(author photo courtesy of Shannon DiGiacomo)

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor
Twitter: @KrystenLindsay
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298036.Krysten_Lindsay_Hager
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Book trailer for Landry’s True Colors Series provided by Videos by O.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFp2fPFbvTQ&feature=youtu.be

Buy links:
Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Next-Door-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager-ebook/dp/B0149HTAK0
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Door-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/dp/1680582690
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/next-door-to-a-star-krysten-lindsay-hager/1122588304?ean=9781680582697
Nook UK: http://www.nook.com/gb/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&%5Bs%5Dkeyword=krysten+lindsay+hager
Books-a-million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Next-Door-Star/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/9781680582697?id=6130980443153
itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/krysten-lindsay-hager/id890673226?mt=11
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=Krysten%20Lindsay%20Hager&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all

If you enjoyed this post, please comment/like it here AND go visit Krysten’s sites.


Krysten Lindsay Hager was my guest on Episode 15 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts and read my guidelines. Then, contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

#Buddhism and Intimate #Relationships: What’s the Deal?

#Buddhism and Intimate #Relationships: What’s the Deal?

staying in love
image from http://indulgy.com

I went on an online hunt for the latest in advice, opinions, experiences and perspectives on this topic, intimate relationships and/or #love, from a #Buddhist perspective, restricting myself to postings from the last twelve months.

NOTE: Buddhists use this definition of “love”: the wish for the one you love to be happy. So, if you love someone, you will do everything you are capable of to help that person achieve temporary and long-lasting happiness—regardless of what loving that person requires of you—unselfishly, unstintingly, the way a parent would strive for a child.

Dalai Lama Love is wanting others to be happy
image from http://peacelovepotager.blogspot.com

Here are what I found and some of my comments and questions about how to be a Buddhist in close relationships.

Next? Your comments!


From the Buddhism Stack Exchange (“a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. It’s built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we’re working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice”), which has a page on Buddhism, marked Beta, with the subtitle from September 2, 2015: “Do buddhists fall in love?”
http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/11266/do-buddhists-fall-in-love

This site provides a lot of info on the various subdivisions of Buddhism, including Theravada, Mahayana and Zen, and Vajrayana. Since I practice Tibetan Vajrayana Nyingma Buddhism, I focused on the responses that seem to be from the Vajrayana point of view.

Several responses were posted, but my favorites are these two, excerpted below.

One writer, Andrei Volkov (“Non-sectarian practitioner in the tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, heavily influenced by Korean Zazen and studies of Pali Canon. Dedicated to serious practice since 1995, and independent of others with regard to the Buddha’s message since 2012”), posted his response to the question posed (with a lot of explanatory material from the questioner that accompanied this question), “Do buddhists fall in love?”

In Vajrayana schools…emotions, including romantic love, are considered a form of energy that can be put to use… Vajrayana would still appreciate the inherent fakeness of love, the mechanical nature of which comes from a match of partners’ stereotypes and preconceptions.

[E]ven if a Vajrayana practitioner could play with the fire both in context of its ego-melting properties as well as for pleasure, they would not take it one-sidedly as an untrained run-of-the-mill person would do….Vajrayana view includes both sacred and illusory aspects of love. In Vajrayana we are trained to see things from all the sides at the same time. Love is both sacred and a giant trick, as far as Vajrayana is concerned.

The predominant Buddhist sentiment here is that being disappointed/disenchanted (= “sober”) is a …healthier state than the state of intoxication by an object of mind. While Vajrayana is 100% aligned with this most fundamental of Buddhist principles, we do allow ourselves to get drunk, both metaphorically with love, and occasionally even literally—–while staying fully accountable for the consequences—–a trait of the universal adult.

I also appreciated this perspective, posted by “Buddho” (gave no bio info):

Modern neuroscience is catching up with Buddhism in this department it appears. Scientists have found romantic love activates the same addictive parts of the brain as cocaine….

…Buddhism likens romantic love to an addiction, an attachment, and a danger.

…However, love…can also be about selflessness, … sacrifice and … self improvement…. This is the raison d’être for the Vajrayana school of romance as a valid path to enlightenment….


Another point of view comes from Bkikshuni Thupten Chödron, teacher, author and Abbess. Ani [Buddhist honorific for a nun] Chödron is a Western white woman who was one of the first to take Buddhist nun’s vows. http://thubtenchodron.org/biography/

Ani Chödron posted a marriage ceremony prayer that she asks the partners say to each other and to their friends and family, which I excerpt, below:
http://thubtenchodron.org/1995/06/wedding-readings-dharma/

…We aspire to make our spiritual path the core of our life together. We will help each other on the path to enlightenment, watering the seeds of love, compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom in each other. As we age and undergo the various ups and downs of cyclic existence, we aspire to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity.

…We recognize that external conditions in life will not always be smooth, and that internally, our own minds and emotions sometimes get stuck in negative ways of thinking. When this happens, we aspire to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help us grow, to open our hearts, to accept ourselves, others and life itself; and to generate compassion for all others who are also unhappy or suffering at that moment. We aspire to avoid becoming narrow, closed or opinionated, and will help each other see all the various sides of a situation and to bring acceptance, flexibility and equanimity to it.

…We aspire to remember the disadvantages of ignorance, anger and clinging attachment and to apply Dharma antidotes when these arise in our minds and to help each other do so, also.

…Day to day, as we progress along the path, we aspire to be patient with ourselves and others, knowing that change comes slowly and gradually…

I have attended a few Buddhist wedding ceremonies and heard about others. They usually include a portion of the vows that ends with “until impermanence intervenes” instead of the more traditional and secular “until death do we part.”


I’ve also heard and read Buddhist teachings that indicate one great reason to be in intimate relationships, whether platonic or sexual: when we are in relationship, we see our own minds better and face our challenges daily with ourselves.

I can attest to the experiences I have had with this exact situation from times I have been on individual, silent retreats: as long as I do not interact with anyone (no eye contact, no conversations, no communication of any kind) and, better yet, don’t even encounter anyone else in a significant way, I believe that I am doing “great” with my practice. I am so patient, so generous, so kind, so loving, so compassionate, so able to rejoice in others’ successes and happiness, so calm and so earnest about wanting to alleviate suffering for all beings. Oh, yes. Ahhhh.

On retreat, I am practically a saint….until I am thwarted or confronted with someone’s saying or doing something I don’t want or preventing me from getting what I do want.

Could be that someone puts their shoes where I usually put mine. Sometimes, I have to wait longer than usual for a meal. Perhaps someone stands where I want to stand, preventing me from seeing something I want to see. Maybe someone “takes” “my” parking space.

parkingspot
image from http://www.smilesforall.com

Provoked by the smallest of infractions or distractions, my ordinary mind and all its selfishness, attachment, pride, jealousy, anger and ignorance rear all their heads at once. There go my delusions of equanimity and of Bodhisattva grandeur: shattered!

The only “realization” I can honestly claim to have is this: I am so far from liberated, I can’t even read the sign for “enlightenment, this way —>.”

It seems to be true that the main spiritual advantage to being in an intimate relationship is that we get our spiritual comeuppance every day, many times a day, and can harbor no such illusions about our proximity to “enlightenment.” When we are engaged in intense, personal relationships with others and paying attention to our own minds, whether that occurs with colleagues, a lover/partner or with friends, our tasks are to be grateful for the challenges, to be glad of the opportunities to grow and improve.

Buddhist teachings exhort us to continue focusing our criticisms on ourselves and our generosity on our partners. We learn to see every interpersonal encounter as a chance to “look in the mirror” and see ourselves better rather than “look out the window” and point at or blame others for our confusions, hurts and complaints. We consider our sangha, the other members of our spiritual community, to be our “guide,” which means they show us the nature of our minds merely by being in our lives.

Lao Tsu knowing others knowing ourselves

This does not mean we shouldn’t remove ourselves from an abusive relationship or ignore people who harm us or others. That is a misconstruction of these instructions. Buddhism also doesn’t encourage “co-dependency” while inspiring unselfishness: fine lines, always.

We simply try to maintain our focus on our own minds when we are feeling angry, resentful, proud, jealous, or afraid. We are attempting to see clearly the nature of our emotions as empty—having no substance—and to discover the source of our own suffering as ignorance, on the path to becoming more patient and spontaneously compassionate toward others.

CONCLUSIONS

If we aren’t interacting in any serious way with others, if we have no “skin in the game,” if all our relationships are superficial, short-term, and insignificant, we won’t be inspired to improve ourselves because, as I believe about myself when I’m alone on retreat, we’ll mistakenly conclude that we are “just fine the way we are.”

Are you in any relationships in which you are “all in,” allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable, exposed, authentic? Or, do you hold yourself back, keep some in reserve, never fully commit or reveal yourself? Only by immersing ourselves in an intense human relationship of some kind can we fully learn to understand our own minds and emotions honestly.

Why hold back? None of us lives all that long….

I am not in a close relationship with a lover right now, but I wish I were. I am in close contact with family members and a few friends, but none of those relationships brings the challenges right to my heart/mind that a lover does. Maybe some day, again…

Trouble is, I am very picky and I have a lot of experience, so I am not inclined to be in a relationship just to be in one. Not now.

My personal ads (when I ran them) did not get many relevant “hits.” Could be because these are my criteria and descriptions: “Serious meditators, only. People my age (61) or thereabouts, only. Kind, intelligent, humorous, interesting people only. No drinkers or smokers. One or no pets. No kids at home.”

I’m willing to be with either a woman or man, which opens up the field considerably, but my chosen categories otherwise make my acceptable potentials (and those who might find me appealing) very small. Also, I’m a Buddhist who was raised Jewish, a feminist and a radical, politically. Unless the other person is, also, or has experience with people similar to me, they probably won’t understand or respect me properly, nor I, them.

Then, add in these facts and you’ll see the pool shrinks into one that holds almost zero candidates: I don’t like to shop except for food that we’ll eat, and I prefer organic and food farmers’ markets, when possible. I don’t wear make-up or perfume or dress up readily. I don’t shave. I don’t wear bras. I’m honest. I’m somewhat psychic. I’m short, but people tell me I’m intimidating even when I don’t say a word. I’m a writer, a blogger, and a talk show host who likes to spend a lot of time alone to accomplish these things. I swim a lot, but I can’t hike (bad leg and back). I don’t have much money (yet). I eschew most sports, don’t like gambling, am not pleased with or want to go to most movies.

I get up at 3 AM and go to bed at about 8 PM, although, with naps, I can push the bedtime back a bit. I’m extremely intelligent and highly educated (doctorate), and I’m not as patient as I ought to be with potential partners who are not well-educated, don’t read much, and/or don’t know how to express themselves and/or don’t talk much. I’m very funny and I appreciate humor, but not if it’s disrespectful or implies derogatory opinions of groups or individuals.

I don’t like most movies or TV programs and won’t watch them. I fall asleep at classical concerts (although I like some of that music) and detest opera. I don’t want to attend most plays or public performances, but there are some I really would like to see.

I’m also not a “Barbie doll.” Therefore, I don’t want to be with someone whose main criteria for a lover start with or center on appearance and “fitness.” I appreciate certain physical qualities, but those aren’t my “screen” and I am not interested in people who screen that way.

I want friendship and interest first, love to have a chance and time to evolve, and for sex to occur as we get to know each other, not as the way to get to know each other. I haven’t had sex for over five years. I can wait.

You see the problems, yes?

subset almost nil
image from http://www.cs.uni.edu

If there is anyone at all left in my subset, what are the odds that this person is alive and living within 15 – 20 miles of me in St. Louis, Missouri USA, right now, AND that I would meet up with him/her by chance and s/he would recognize me and I, him/her?

Let me know when you find such a person(s).

The truth is, because I have had dozens of relationships in my life, from those lasting one-night to twenty+ years, and I have an adult child I am close to and love dearly, as I do his partner, and I have many friends around the country and connections around the world, and relational experiences from dozens of years of living collectively, working closely with and living with people, I have the grounds for being choosy. I’d rather be “alone” than be in a relationship that isn’t healthy or spiritually nourishing.


Love isn’t easy. Love doesn’t always offer fun and sex. Love doesn’t usually include roses or violins.

Is love worthwhile? How should a practicing Buddhist (or anyone conscious) best engage in close relationships?

You tell me. http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Featured today on Buddhist Door, Part I of my stories of being a “Reluctant Buddhist.”

Featured today on Buddhist Door, Part I of my stories of being a “Reluctant Buddhist.”

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/a-reluctant-buddhist-how-it-took-me-eight-years-to-start-practicing-in-this-life

Thanks, Frances McDonald and Buddhist Door, for this opportunity.

Look for Part II to go LIVE on 11/13/15, my dear Lama Drimed’s birthday!

May all beings benefit.

My Movie Review of “‘Ricki and the Flash’ – Meryl Streep is Terrific” on Blogcritics.org

My movie review of “‘Ricki and the Flash’ – Meryl Streep is Terrific,” on Blogcritics.org,
went live 8/27/15!

Summary : Excellent rock’n’roll cover band fronted by Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield in a touching family drama. 4 Stars!

Ricki_and_the_Flash_poster

SCROLL DOWN on this site (link below) to leave a comment!
http://blogcritics.org/movie-review-ricki-and-the-flash-meryl-streep-is-terrific/

My History of History: Guest Blog Post from Janet Oakley, Historical Fiction Author/ Educator

I am so pleased to welcome Janet Oakley as my guest blogger today. Janet is an #historical #fiction #author and #educator who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 21.

My History of History is today’s Guest Blog Post. Join the conversation, please!

For more information about how to reach Janet and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


My History of History

I have loved history since I was in grade school.

Maybe it was my mother’s stories about her family’s homesteading across the West, post-Civil War, or maybe it was the journals of my great-grandfather, a Union surgeon at the Battle of Gettysburg, or, Little House on the Prairie books.

In any event, while researching my senior thesis for my BA in American History, I had a wake-up call deep in the collections of the National Archives. I loved the research, the hunt for the unexpected piece of history, but I didn’t want to look like I lived there. My archivist looked like he hadn’t seen sun in 25 years.

history files

That made a very big impression on my twenty-one-year-old self. I preferred presenting what I found in those old records and stories in ways that the public would understand. Thus, my passion for hands-on history was born.

I first discovered this approach to teaching history while a guide at Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu in the early 1970s. The storied history behind these buildings, one brought by sailing ship pre-fab all they way from Connecticut to Honolulu in 1821, was part of the tour. When no one else volunteered to give early morning tours to school kids, I said “Yes.”

Washington students pix

I found making the story of missionaries and the royal Hawaiian children who were present at this site relevant to young 20th-century kids a challenge, but I soon found I loved making history come alive to them. For that, I pursued a teaching certificate.

Out in the Woods

Back on the Mainland a few years later, I scored a job with my local school district. At the time, every third grade went out to forested site to experience life as a 19th-century settler in the Pacific Northwest. By then, I had been participating in a museum program in the schools. From those workshops, I learned how to apply historical research to creating fun, hands-on activities, ranging from churning butter to candle-dipping to 19th-Century schooling. I’ve been doing it ever since.

One of the joys of doing this is seeing students (and many times, their parents) engage in activities from the past. For eleven years, I was Curator of Education at a county museum, where I worked with teachers and their students from eleven different schools.

Making Butter

I researched and created hands-on stations that explored mining ores and their uses, logging, seeds and butter-making, all historic occupations in the county. I also taught at the historic Rosario School.

Recently, I have been presenting workshops about pioneers and their use of 19th-Century technology and media at the SPARK Museum in Bellingham, which has an amazing collection of electrical science and sound that led to the development and improvement of modern radios.

Bongieyoung
Bongie Young

During these years, I created social studies curricula for schools and parks, one of which is the San Juan Island National Historical Park on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest. For the past nineteen years, I have demonstrating 19th-Century foodways during their annual “English Encampment,” run by Miss Libby’s Academy.

Informing My Historical Fiction

I have an active public speaking life centered around local history topics and the historical fiction I write. Why do I continue to work with kids? Because I love history and I love teaching it experientially.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Understanding how things worked long ago or the customs and traditions of the times by trying on period clothing or cooking with a 150-year-old “receipt” (recipe) is one of the best ways to appreciate history and the ordinary people who lived it.

By the time this is posted, I will have talked to a group of Girl Scouts out at their rural mountain camp. My novel, Timber Rose, has inspired their leaders to invite me talk about the early women mountaineers who climbed mountains in skirts.

Can’t wait. Good times!


about Janet Oakley

Janet 1smaller-crop

(Janet Oakley) (J.L. Oakley) is the author of award-winning fiction. TREE SOLDIER, a novel of the Great Depression set in a Civilian Conservation camp, which won the 2012 EPIC ebook award for historical fiction as well as the 2012 grand prize with Chanticleer Book Reviews. Its prequel, TIMBER ROSE, is 2014 IndieBRAG recipient and a first place winner in the Chaucer Awards. The Jossing Affair, set in World War II Norway, is under consideration at a publishing house.

Janet also writes memoir essays and historical articles. Her work is published in the Cup of Comfort series, Historylink, the online encyclopedia of Washington State history, The Sea Chest, and Clover: A Literary Rag

History is her first love. She writes social studies curricula for schools and historical organizations, demonstrates 19th-Century folkways, and was for many years the Curator of Education at a small county museum in La Conner, Washington, USA.  In 2006, she was the manager of a History Channel grant, researching old court cases in early Washington Territory.

When she is not writing, she enjoys gardening, walking, and the company of the active writing community in her town.

Janet’s Links

Blog: http://historyweaver.wordpress.com
PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/helebore/
Twitter: @jloakley
INTERVIEW: http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2011100047 
TIMBER ROSE
http://www.amazon.com/Timber-Rose-JL-Oakley/dp/149370981X
TREE SOLDIER was an ABNA 2014 Quarter Finalist and Chanticleer Grand Prize winner 2013, and an EPIC ebook Award winner in 2012
http://www.amazon.com/Tree-Soldier-J-L-Oakley/dp/1453896473/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


Janet Oakley was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 21. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

How I use Science Research in my Science-Fiction Writing for The Spanners Series

How I use #Science #Research in my #Science-Fiction #Writing for The Spanners Series

First, Some #Tech History

Typewriters to Word Processors
I am old enough to remember learning to type on a manual typewriter whose action was so “hard” or difficult that I had to slam each finger onto the keys to get them to hit the ribbon with enough force to get sufficient ink to mark the typing paper. If I were trying to make carbon copies, I had to hit the keys even harder or the copy wouldn’t be impressed with the keys enough for the carbon paper to work properly.

Luckily, I was already a piano student (from the age of 9) by the time I started typing (age 10) and I took my only formal typing class the summer I turned twelve. By then, my fingers were very strong. I do not know how others learned to type and made it work without being pianists. Even with my hours of piano playing every week, I still found it tiring and challenging to type with enough force on these typewriters to make the keys impress the carbon paper, especially when making more than one copy.

manual typewriter
Keys on a Manual Typewriter

The first revolution was the IBM “Selectric” (invented in 1961, but got to me and my part-time jobs in St. Louis, MO, in the late 1960s and early 1970s), which had a spinning ball rather than key action. This made the typing of the letters cause the ball to spin, putting the typed letter in contact with the ink ribbon without having to use as much force. My days of a typewriter jam were almost over (I became an extremely fast typist, but the machine could not keep up!).

The early 1970s brought further great relief from typewriter drudgery with the electric typewriters (soft-touch, less force-required) and then the amazing automatic carriage return. Remember that lever we had to yank on at the end of every line? Gone!

typewriter_jam
Typewriter Jam
image from http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com

Finally, the best invention for writers and secretaries: the correction key, which worked by back-space-erase-retype action. Before this functional key existed, typists had to use special typewriter erasers (those round ones with the feathery ends so we could brush off the eraser dust from each part of the page) and carbon paper erasers for any mistakes, OR (usually) retype the entire page for one mistake! For larger mistakes or the carbon copies, we newly could use “Liquid Paper” or “Wite-Out”(THANKS, Bette Nesmith Graham, who invented this in her kitchen in 1956!), which also was a revolution in making typed pages appear mistake-free even when they were not.

Liquid_paper_products_Womens_Museum
Liquid Paper display at the Women’s Museum
image from http://en.wikipedia.org

Card Catalogs and Index Cards
Along with these trips down memory lane for typists, which brought us to word-processing/computer-like typewriters and, finally, word-processing software for home computers (the BEST!), we have the trajectory across the last fifty years for researchers. Remember those little pencils that were ubiquitous in libraries for use near the card-catalogs?

I used to spend hours or days or weeks cross-referencing, by hand, with my fingers and tired eyes, to find authors, titles, types of printed works, or microfiche/ microfilm copies of materials. Then, some were not allowed to be “checked out,” only used “in-house.” Or, some had to be requested via Interlibrary Loan, which could take months.

The photocopier was an electrifying (LOL) invention that allowed us to take home pages we wanted to study or read. We could mark them up and use them to take further notes on when items couldn’t be taken out of the library, but they cost a lot per page for my budget. I invented my own shorthand to take copious notes very quickly, a system I learned to use in lecture classes as well. I could quickly crib information from precious materials I couldn’t afford to make copies of in the large numbers of pages I needed for a project.

I am a speed-reader, fast note-taker, and quick thinker. Still, this type of research was slow and laborious since I had to read each page to determine what I wanted to notate, photocopy or ignore. Every resource also had long lists of their own resources which I usually had to follow-up on (and was grateful for the “trail”), but many items were one-of-a-kind and not available when I needed them.

Index cards, notebooks, looseleaf binders, photocopies, smudged ink and so much paper, paper, paper: I was drowning in it. We had to ORGANIZE: color coding, use of tabs, physically taping-moving-retaping the cards or notes on large pieces of paper or a bulletin board, wall or floor. It is at this point I would notice the gaps and have to trudge back (often through snow and ice; not kidding) to the library.

floor outlining
Floor Outlining
image from http://fairfieldwriter.wordpress.com

I was SO excited to use removable tags and “post-it” notes when they came into our lives: 1968, serendipitous discovery by Dr. Spencer Silver at 3-M, of the reusable glue; and Arthur Fry, mid-1970s for the mass-market applications, like “post-it” notes and removable tabs. If I only could keep it all straight and remember my own process. For example, was I using blue for my thoughts or quotations…?

Art Fry oppfant Post-it-lappene og forandret måten vi kommuniserer på. Gul lapp på pannen med lys idé tegnet .
Arthur Fry, inventor of the “Post-It” note
image from http://en.wikipedia.org

Research Access and Writing, First Major Innovations
Fast-forward to the 1990s and (thanks to Al Gore…), the World Wide Web, or as it’s now known, the Internet. At first, not a lot was available to “laypeople.” Research didn’t change for me much during my graduate schools years (1991-96, for my Master’s and doctorate). The scanning interfaces were horrible: grainy and hard to read, with many odd mistakes and quirky formatting problems. Plus, most items weren’t scanned in and scanners were still prohibitively expensive and large, so not widely utilized. Professional journals, esoteric sources and other materials still needed to be found and used at libraries or in person.

The biggest boon and the one I still praise daily is the word processing personal computer. Best parts of that: copy, cut and paste functions. Gone forever are the days of using actual scissors (although I love that the “cut” icon is a pair of scissors). I no longer use sticky tape or post-its to move text around and it’s easy to create outlines that I can change quickly.

First-time, ever: specialized software programs that allowed us to create bibliographies as we write, using sources freely in our properly-positioned footnotes and endnotes, all automatically formatted to the chosen “style” guide, if we were clever enough to input the data correctly. Incredible!

endnote foot note dialogue box
Endnote/Footnote Dialogue Box

Using Science Research in my Science-Fiction Writing

A Researcher’s Paradise!
Now, in the mid-20-teens, the Internet is alive, well, thriving and chock-full of information. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Wikipedia and other -pedias, specialized news sources and wikis along with nonprofit organizations’, professional associations’ and corporate websites populate the web with more facts than anyone could gather. I can capture and bring them to me via my home computer’s browser with the entry of a few simple search terms.

I am now overflowing with science breakthroughs, breaking news and older sources, with accompanying images, data and video/audio files. I am in a researcher’s paradise!

Word-Processing Software’s References and Resources
We have our own dictionary and thesaurus right within our word processing programs, with grammar and spell-checking functions operating within our own preferences and parameters. We can change these, add words and terms, personalize it all at will.

We can also become completely autonomous as bloggers, authors, producers of content of all sorts. We can independently research, write, edit and format an entire book in electronic or print format from our homes or offices: this is the true revolution of “desk-top publishing.”

My Evolving Research and Writing Process
Best part, for this sci-fi writer: science information on any topic, any time, at my fingertips. I have changed the way I write because of what is available and how I can use it in my books. I used to be an avid outliner (remember the notecards and color-coded tabs?), but usually, now, I mentally sketch out what I want to write about and what characters to include.

Then, throughout the year, I gather tidbits of information that I believe I may want to use. I get links to articles from organization’s or group’s pages’ and friends’ posts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media sites.

When something piques my interest, I don’t have to go anywhere to read it. I don’t have to take notes or pay to copy the entire article. I don’t have to carry backpacks filled with heavy books, research journals and articles home.

Oh, no; I do not!

Instead, with a few “clicks,” I travel online to the site to copy and paste part or all of the article and its URL to a word processing document. It is then stored in my research folder with a specific title and date. I review it in its entirety or portions of it later, usually on the day I plan to consider using it.

Screenshot (28)
Screenshot of my research folder’s contents

When I’m ready to write, I begin to mine my research folder for its gold and other ores. When I find something I may want to use (for its facts, explanations, ideas or announcements), I copy and paste parts or all of each article right into my story or book draft. Sometimes, early on in my writing a book for The Spanners Series, I’m not sure what I’ll use, exactly, so I paste them all “at the end.”

When I’m ready to place items by subject somewhere in the chapters set-up, I move the paragraphs or entire articles to that chapter, by topic. As I write, I read more carefully to learn from the parts I’ve captured.

BUT, I am careful NOT to not use these authors’ exact words or do much paraphrasing. Instead, these snippets become my “notes,” acting like outlines, as guides. The sections I’ve pasted show me where I want to take my characters, my plot, or even my series by providing me with the science and facts to back up the next part of the world I’m building and the story I want to tell.

Once I’ve utilized this chapter’s store of ideas and facts (of course, attributing and giving credit in my Appendices when I use any part more literally than conceptually), I put each accessed article into my “USED” folder in my computer. Then, as I write, I delete the “notes” from the copied-pasted nonfiction/research articles’ sections of the draft.

All that is left in each chapter are my own ideas, in my words, with my characters, my plot. I then move on to another source or chapter section.

Summary of All the Changes: Pros and Cons
This process sometimes wreaks havoc with daily word counts, but I’ve learned how to distinguish consistently the “notes” sections separately from the written portions. What I love about this evolving process is how time- and resource-efficient and budget-friendly it is. There are only a few steps, with nothing to photocopy or borrow, no handwritten notes and bits of paper to misplace, fewer or no pieces of paper.

Plus, when I find out I’m missing something crucial or want to go in a new direction, I can open a browser tab and find a new information source in about one minute on my computer, from where I am already sitting. When inspiration strikes, I can “scratch” my creative “itch” immediately. Right away, I can find out if my new idea is feasible by setting the data up right within my draft, look it over, consider it all, then resume writing.

I can easily and quickly re-arrange entire sections, chapters, and themes, distributing ideas and information among my draft volumes as I write each one of my 10-book Spanners Series. For each of the three Volumes I have completed and the one I’m currently midway through, I have re-organized the chapters multiple times. I have changed sections, moved paragraphs and altered the events in timelines (my series includes multiple timelines) so that the chapter sequence changes almost weekly for a while.

I keep track of all these events, data and movement by using header dates for each chapter. I list them in my series’ spreadsheet by chapter and title. I also include some of the chapter’s content, characters and its current Volume number in the cell.

Screenshot (27)
The Spanners Series’ timeline spreadsheet, screenshot

Given the fluid nature of ebooks and self-publishing, it would not surprise me to find out, years from now, that I want to re-arrange the sequence within or of the Volumes I’ve already published significantly! Doing that wouldn’t even be difficult, since self-publishers can withdraw and resubmit Volumes for distribution whenever we want.

Of course, there is one big problem: too much sitting! I have to remind myself to take breaks, get up, walk around, go swimming 5 – 6 times each week, take naps, go outside and walk around. The temptation to stay inside and keep working is so much greater than in the past because everything I need is “right here”!

I also have to be careful not to have another incident of RPI (Repetitive Stress Injury) to my arms, fingers, hands and wrists, which I had severely in my first semester of graduate school. I learned exercises, ways to sleep, the use of ice and NSAIDs to avoid overusing my home computer as I transitioned from relying on an electric typewriter. When there is no paper to load, no carriage level for returns, no ribbon to change and no carbon paper, we don’t move around physically enough.

We have to remember: raise our eyes to look out a window to change our eyes’ focus from near to far, remove our hands from the keyboard to stretch our arms, shoulders, necks, backs, fingers. We need to get up and actually (HORRORS!) leave the keyboard and screen for frequent breaks, or we will ruin our bodies.

Many (like my son, not pictured, but his set-up is similar) now use standing desks and ergonomically designed keyboards with vertical access to prevent the worst harm and future injuries. However, exercise and frequent “away” periods are the best ways to avoid physical problems from developing due to computer overuse.

ergonomic desk set up
Ergonomic Desk and Keyboard Set-up
image from http://www.instructables.com

However, I would not trade the convenience of this era for all the manual typewriters and liquid paper in the multiverse. Thanks to all the inventors, developers, creators, scientists, researchers and writers who made/make this all possible for the rest of us!


This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Permafree

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Volume I cover

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are.

Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. 

In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth?

This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

Are YOU ready for the changes?
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8 </a
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., @$3.99

final cover print
Volume II cover

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back.

Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II.

How would YOU do with the changes?
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., planned pre-orders 11/1/15 – 12/7/15 @$1.99; planned release 12/8/15 @$3.99; Cover Reveal 10/26/15!

logoAuthorsDen
The Spanners Series logo

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back. Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. To join, Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and Psi-Warriors must strengthen in their battle against the rebels.

Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while creating psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?


LINKS

http://www.sallyember.com  main website
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW  author page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series’ page on FB
https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember
http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series’ page on Google+
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SallySueEmber/about/p/pub Sally Sue Ember on Google+
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember  

More purchase/free links on Kobo, ibooks and nook as well as reviews, book trailers, author interviews and readings, blog posts, research, series updates and more on Sally’s website: look right, scroll down. http://www.sallyember.com

Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

What is it like to host a live talk show? My guest post on Inger Kenobi’s site!

What is it like to host a live talk show?.

ALSO: watch Inger’s and my Episode 20 on CHANGES: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq and look: OPENINGS 8/26 and beyond! Welcome new authors of any age, genre, publication method!
Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time!

Learn more about and get yourself on or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest for CHANGES conversations between authors:  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: *CHANGES* conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube

“Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: CHANGES conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube”
originally posted on http://www.asidefromwriting.com on July 6, 2015

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In early April, 2014, I had just completed and uploaded Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, of my science-fiction/romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults, New and Young Adults, and joined two new writers’ groups in the East Bay (one in Berkeley and one in Hayward, California, where I had been living), when I was in a terrible accident. The resulting broken nose has been healing fine and didn’t require surgery; the concussion has proven to be a lot more problematic.

For several months, it was as if I were in a fog. I wasn’t allowed to do any serious computer work, reading or thinking (I had been about halfway through Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, when I got hurt). Since I couldn’t wear my glasses without causing myself enormous pain (glasses would be sitting on the broken nose, right?), and I was overwhelmingly aphasic, exhausted, confused and injured, unable to process much, the respite from writing, reading and working seemed necessary. The accident had also caused extreme damage to my arms, hands, shoulders and upper back, so keyboarding wasn’t all that feasible, anyway. Plus, when I did type, I made more errors than words, typed very slowly (usually over 100 WPM; then, about 40 WPM, with numerous mistakes).

However, once the enforced hiatus was over, I still couldn’t return to my regular life. My memory was horrible, both short- and long-term. I couldn’t find words, or the right words, to speak or write. I no longer sounded as if I were drunk, but I was still extremely slower and less able, all around, than I had been prior to the brain injury. I usually function in the top 10 percent of intellectuals, with an extremely large vocabulary and many types of intelligence. I had been fortunate, up until the accident, to be a wide reader of many subjects, with both formal and informal education beyond the doctoral level and a larger variety of knowledge, experiences and insights than most people. Post-concussion, I was barely above-average and often, not even that.

Before the injury to my brain, I had been writing my fiction series quite quickly, often exceeding 2,000 words per day. My creativity seemed boundless, my energy matching it. Volume I’s first draft had been completed in under two months, and it was over 130,000 words. I had developed a spreadsheet to record my (very brief) notes on my series’ dozens of human, animal and alien characters, multiple timelines, overlapping realities, historical and future events and people, but most of the series’ details and plans had been in my brain which had been injured to the point of being severely compromised.

In July of last year, I discovered all I could create were short, nonfiction blog and other posts, and it took “forever” to finalize each one, since I typed sentences that were riddled with errors. Each post needed to be proofread multiple times. I could barely read others’ blogs and reblog/share, almost couldn’t read short pieces/stories.

Yes, after a few months I was improving and could do these with increasingly better understanding, but I still couldn’t return to my fiction series. My “executive functions” and “working memory” were still extremely low-performing due to the post-concussion syndrome I had been diagnosed with in June.

I wasn’t well enough to return to my “regular” life of work or writing, but I was well enough to be bored. Luckily, I had discovered Google+ the previous year. During the winter and spring of 2014, I had been attending Hangouts On Air (HOAs) somewhat regularly.

After my accident, watching videos was about the only thing I could do, since reading, writing and other glass-wearing activities were excluded. I attended and participated (when that was allowed) in many HOAs by leaving comments, questions, and interactions with others also viewing or presenting, on topics ranging from books, book marketing, authors, writing, marketing, social media, spirituality/meditation and more. I watched most on Google+, but they were also archived so I could watch those I missed on YouTube, where I found even more entertaining, informative videos. (Find me on Google+ as Sally Sue Ember)

I got into watching one HOA in particular, Lights, Camera, HOA!, run by an excellent trio of women: Meloney Hall, Rayne Dowell and Sheila Strover.

After I attended a few shows, Rayne read Volume I of my series and reached out to invite me onto the show to learn more about being in/on a HOA. The entire reason for this show’s existence is to help newbies (like me) get comfortable with the HOA format and technology, both on- and off-camera. I LOVED it! What a great service this show provides. THANK YOU! https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bigupticksociallightscamerahoa/about

As a former actor/performer, being “on camera” wasn’t hard for me. As a writer/author, being able to interact with viewers LIVE was so much better than having readers I almost never hear from or meet. I was hooked on HOAs and wanted my own. I learned everything I could in the next several months, wondering if I’d be able to manage my own show.

What could I have a HOA about, exactly? There were an infinite number of choices. By then, I had been interviewed on several radio shows online and submitted many “author interview” posts to others’ websites, so I was familiar with that format and was beginning to feel it was somewhat overused. Frankly, and no offense to the current website(!), I find most author interviews to be awfully repetitive and, well, boring.

I did NOT want to interview authors, but I wanted to meet more authors and talk about writing as well as many other interesting topics. By the end of July, four months post-injury, I still couldn’t write for my series, but I was able to talk better and listen very well. I decided to launch in August and to have a show that I would want to watch.

Since I wanted to be around other writers and hear about their experiences, hoping to be entertained and inspired until my own writing would (hopefully) be accessible to me again, I posted on Twitter, Facebook groups and in general, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ communities to invite authors to be guests on CHANGES conversations between authors. I also ranged around to those sites that posted award winners in science-fiction, particularly, and invited many of those authors on my show as well.

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The response has been more than gratifying. I welcomed Dr. Shay West as my first guest for my August 6, 2014, premier Episode, with several more super authors scheduled to be on subsequent shows. Since then, with a few planned and even fewer unplanned exceptions, I have had an Episode each week. The live show airs three or four times per month (with one week off, to rest) on Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, and TODAY, August 5, 2015, I air my one-year anniversary show!

Amazing authors have been guests on CHANGES (http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on my website for full schedule of past and upcoming guests). I have had guests who joined me live and/or hail from France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Israel, Guyana, and many states in the USA. The authors I have talked with enrich me weekly (and my viewers as well, I hope), writing in every fiction genre and including those who also write nonfiction, plays, screenplays and poetry.

Ethnically, my guests have been American mixed-Causasian, African-American, African-Jamaican, Spanish, English, Indian (continent, not tribe), Russian, Jewish, German, Norwegian, Israeli, Guyanan, Irish, and Greek (so far). Editors, publishers (magazine and book), and translators, with an age range, as of today, August 5, 2015, of 15 – 78 years old, are in my CHANGES guests club.

Our conversational topics list is too lengthy to include here, but has been exactly as I had planned: wide variety, high-level subject discussions that are informative, entertaining, insightful, funny and poignant. My guests and I share personal and professional stories, discuss books and writing, publishing and editing, book cover artists and much more.

I am quite happy to say that, as of August 5, 2015, CHANGES Episodes (now up to 37, http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on YouTube) have garnered audiences as large as over 1000 in one day, totalling over 3600 views, so far.

My YouTube channel went from having 2 to almost 50 subscribers. I now have over 3000 followers on Google+ and Facebook, each (although some are the same people, I’m sure), and over 5000 on Twitter. Pinterest followers’ number has quadrupled; so has LinkedIn’s.

I know these are small numbers compared to many, but I’m happy that my network is growing. We receive many compliments, positive comments and excellent questions for each CHANGES Episode from viewers who watch live or later, and more watch weekly.

Since starting CHANGES, I’m delighted to report that downloads of Volume I of my series, which is permafree since I uploaded Volume II (right before my accident), are steady. I do wish for better sales for Volume II, but I’ve heard a series has to have at least three books released “to really take off.”

What’s Next?
CROWDFUNDING to meet my Goals

—I wish to convert the *CHANGES* videocasts into podcasts, for those who prefer to listen-only, but the podcast hosting sites are not free.
—I also wish to pay for my next book covers,
—I need to buy better equipment for my home videocasts, and
—I must keep writing.

However, the concussion has severely limited my ability to work and I am in deep debt. If you’d like to help, http://www.patreon.com/sallyember has a video about my goals and rewards to donors in which I sing (really; not so well, but, hey; I’m not a professional singer!), and more information.

$4 gets you a free ebook; larger donations earn you deep discounts on professional editing, proofreading and writing tutor services, all of which can do well, despite the concussion.

Concussion Recovery News
As of May, 2015, I am back to writing new parts of Volumes III and IV! Slowly, much more laboriously, with an ongoing need for referrals to notes and dictionary, thesaurus and spell-check than remembering going on, but glad to be writing!

I wish I could open up my brain and retrieve the Spanners Series ideas that had been so accessible, so easily before the concussion and look them all over, but…

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The network of authors, book bloggers, book marketers and other writers I have been developing over the last two years has blossomed into a group I can call upon for help, advice, and exchanges. That has proved amazingly gratifying as I trumpet my announcement, below, because many have stepped forward to play a role in this next phase.

Good news: I finished the Beta readers’ draft of Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in late July! Five wonderful writers are reading it right now and will offer their sage wisdom on its improvements by late September. I then hope to be finished with the final proofed version no later than mid-October. I have already begun the cover design process with Aidana Willowraven, The Spanners Series‘ cover artist. The Cover Reveal is planned to occur on Alesha Escobar‘s site in late October. Pre-orders start 11/1/15 and the release of Volume III is scheduled for December 8, 2015!

Wish me luck!

How Else You Can Become Involved
Beta readers for upcoming draft of Volumes IV and reviewers of all Volumes welcomed! Contact me: sallyember@yahoo.com

Also, watch a few Episodes of CHANGES any time: http://goo.gl/6xjSKl Please comment on YouTube or go to the original G+ Event page for that Episode and comment/ask questions, get more info and links. I will respond!

Become/Refer a Guest! #Authors and #bloggers, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction, but not only those: learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest.

OPENINGS 8/12/15 and later this fall! For more info, schedule and past/upcoming guests list, visit here: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV.

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Also, I’ve invited former guests and others I appreciate to Guest Blog on Wednesdays, with excellent posts, so far! Check out the Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame on my site (see below) for previous and upcoming posts.

I strongly suggest you check out others’ HOAs as well: there are some great shows out there in Google+ land! Two good places to find them (and another great G+ community, User2User: LIVE!):
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101944073205735325459 for User2User-Live!
Http://www.hangouteventscalendar.com for the HOA Calendar

For updates about and links to available Volumes of The Spanners Series, me as an author, my own and guest blogger’s posts, Patreon and much more: http://www.sallyember.com has all links and info. Look up or to the right and scroll.


May all who are ill recover and all who are in pain find comfort.

Best to you all!

One-year Anniversary of *CHANGES* *conversations between authors* on 8/5/15!

CHANGES Episode 37, with teen author, Vartika Singh Sikarwar, and host, Sally Ember, Ed.D.

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For my one-year anniversary of the CHANGES conversations between authors show, I am proud to be hosting my first teen author guest, Vartika Singh Sikarwar, who is also a memoir writer, essayist and poet!

Vartika looking forward

We are LIVE on Wednesday, August 5, 10 – 11 AM EDT USA,
Google+ https://plus.google.com/events/cj1b52u2sjs7ul83c11urdicqno  or
Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52tbA0kZ4jI

Vartika’s writing can be found: http://www.wattpad.com/user/VartikaS ,
https://www.facebook.com/MyAdventureToTheSecretDoor
and http://www.teenink.com/users/VartikaSinghSikarwar

Vartika Door

Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

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Learn more about and get yourself on or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest for CHANGES conversations between authors:  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


HOWEVER: I seem to be “running out of guests” for CHANGES conversations between authors. Coming up next week on its one-year anniversary and only have 2 guests scheduled after that; done by mid-Sept., at this point.

Should I close up shop?

Do you have ideas about whether or not to continue, and, if so, how to attract fascinating author guests?

Thanks, Crew!

Looking for reviewers who like utopian science-fiction, and seeking book bloggers

PLEASE SHARE! Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series, ebook by Sally Ember, Ed.D., releases 12/8/15.

Looking for reviewers who like utopian science-fiction/romance with multiverse and psi elements, and seeking book bloggers to help with Volume III’s release. ARCs and info ready in late Sept. through early December.

Pre-orders: 11/1 – 12/7/15

Release date: 12/8/15

sallyember AT yahoo DOT com if you’re interested and available!

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Cover art and logo by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

This Changes Everything, Vol I, is a perma ‪#‎free‬ ‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎romance‬ ebook

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

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Vol 2, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is $3.99

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

Always love reviews for the first two volumes (free to reviewers), of course! http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2

Observations from a Master of #Timetravel: Guest Post by Devorah Fox

I am so pleased to welcome Devorah (Dee) Fox as my guest blogger today. Dee is a #fantasy/ #thriller #author and #columnist who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 18.

Dee is a contributing writer to a new anthology about time travel releasing this month and has an interesting set of questions posed, below, regarding the distinctions (or not) among #Fantasy, Science-Fiction (#scifi) and general #fiction, with a discussion of #parallel/ #alternate #universes and multiple #timelines as well. Since I deal with many of these topics in my own writing, via The Spanners Series, http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2, we both welcome your comments, questions and experiences! Join the conversation, please!

For more information about how to reach Dee and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


Observations from a Master of #Timetravel

by Guest Blogger, Devorah Fox

A couple of years ago, I ruminated on what categorized a story a Fantasy as opposed to General Fiction. Fiction is about made-up stuff. That’s why it’s fiction and not nonfiction. I asked myself: is a work considered Fantasy simply by virtue of the degree to which the fiction is imaginative?

Although I am now on the fourth book in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam, labeled by me as an “epic Fantasy series,” I’m still not convinced that these stories belong in the Fantasy genre. It’s true that they are set in an imagined geography and in a period that is more “once upon a time” than an actual historic era. And yes, the hero battles dragons, sea monsters, and other mythical creatures. However, the life challenges that King Bewilliam faces are contemporary: career displacement and divorce in The Lost King; parenting in The King’s Ransom; the nature of leadership and the morality of war in The King’s Redress. So, are those stories Fantasy?

When I embarked on a short story for Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Time Travel Anthology, I found myself wondering about the difference between Fantasy and Science-Fiction. I’ve seen the comment that Science-Fiction explores the possible, albeit improbable, while Fantasy explores the impossible, but I wouldn’t agree. I don’t see a clear distinction between imagining a world that includes aliens versus one that includes werewolves.

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Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Time Travel Anthology

Ray Bradbury, whose work falls into both genres, suggested that Science-Fiction is a logical projection of the future. Science-Fiction takes as its departure point what we do know about reality, whereas Fantasy is based in invention.

I prefer to think that Fantasy explores what we don’t know about reality. At the risk of sounding metaphysical, there are planes of existence for which we cannot provide evidence using our five senses. Nevertheless, spiritualists and religious leaders encourage belief in the numinous. Fantasy embraces the supernatural and the paranormal, but notice that “natural” and “normal” are at its roots. I’d go even further and say that scientists are very imaginative and fantasize about what we don’t know…yet. What makes them Scientists is that they then seek to prove or disprove that, while Fantasists don’t seek proof.

Many a Fantasist has explored time travel as if it were possible. Even noted scientists take the idea seriously, according to a blog post by theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku. He wrote that a contemporary of Einstein, mathematician, Kurt Goedel, suggested that time is flexible: it speeds up and slows down. Also, time has whirlpools in which it could wrap itself into a circle. This would enable anyone walking along the direction of rotation to find themselves returned to the starting point but backwards in time.

Decades later, mathematician, Roy Kerr, proposed the concept of a rotating black hole. Dr. Michio Kaku explained it this way: “…[T]he black hole would not collapse to a point (as previously thought) but into a spinning ring (of neutrons). The ring would be circulating so rapidly that centrifugal force would keep the ring from collapsing under gravity. The ring, in turn, acts like the Looking Glass of Alice. Anyone walking through the ring would not die, but could pass through the ring into an alternate universe.”

Before we all run off and start building time machines, though, we should address some paradoxes. Take, for instance, this problem: if you go back in time and undo the circumstances that led to your birth, you would never come to be, much less be around to time travel. This is what’s known as the Grandfather Paradox, which results in an inconsistent causal loop. It puts “effect” ahead of “cause” instead of the other way around, as we commonly understand it. This paradox creates an infinite loop: you go back in time and kill your grandfather, thereby preventing your own birth, thereby preventing yourself from going back in time to kill your grandfather, thus your grandfather is never killed, which allows you to be born, so you can go back in time and kill your grandfather….

Let’s say, instead, that time is fixed, that even if occurrences of the past are changed, the future that they led to cannot be. For example, you travel back in time and kill your grandfather (poor Grandad. Whatever did he do to deserve all this antagonism?). To cover your actions, you replace him with someone else, but that man marries and somehow gives birth to your father, who has a child—–you–—so, you are born, after all.

Another possibility is that there are alternative and parallel universes. If this is so, you can travel back in time, kill your grandfather and thwart any offspring, including you. However, all you have done is alter one timeline. Others, including the one in which you do exist, continue unchanged. However, you (the homicidal maniac time-traveler), cannot return to that timeline.

Indeed, the protagonist of my story, “Turning the Tide,” doesn’t so much travel through time herself as she changes it. She reaches into the past to put two men she loves on different paths, effectively moving them into parallel universes, where they enjoy brighter futures.

It’s not hard for me to believe in parallel timelines. At any point in any of our lives, there are different tracks we can follow, deliberately or reactively. The Time Master in “Turning the Tide” knows that the consequence of her manipulation could be that she never meets the men she so loves. However, it’s also entirely possible that, even though their lives took different courses, one or both of them could still meet her. There are so many roads, with so many forks in them. Any one of them could intersect with another parallel timeline, just at a different point.

You’ll find both Fantasy and Science-Fiction at the heart of the stories in the newly-launched Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Time Travel Anthology Check it out: http://meet-the-time-masters.blogspot.com.

You can find about more about my epic Fantasy (or not) series, The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam: http://devorahfox.com and http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006L9BJAO.

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The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam


Dee’s Links:

website: http://devorahfox.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/DevorahFoxAuthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006L9BJAO
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/devorahfox/videos

MOT links:

webpage: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Time-Science-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1514173727
Trailer: http://youtu.be/PovabW4fyjQ
Apple iBooks/iTunes: http://apple.co/1bp77vK
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1K3ggGi
Barnes & Noble/ nook: http://bit.ly/1Kkkr0C

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Devorah (Dee) Fox


Dee Fox was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 18. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

Grace and Frankie, Season 1, Netflix TV Series: my review is on Blog Critics’ site

Grace and Frankie, Season 1, Netflix TV series Starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
My review is on Blog Critics‘ site

went live on June 24, 2015

http://blogcritics.org/tv-reivew-netflix-comedy-grace-and-frankie-starring-lily-tomlin-and-jane-fonda/

“Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It”: Guest Blog Post by Alesha Escobar

I am so pleased to welcome Alesha Escobar as my guest blogger today. Alesha is a #fantasy/science-fiction and thriller author who does “mash-ups.” Alesha also concocted the idea of and edited an anthology of stories related to time travel, one of my favorite topics!

To honor the release of the anthology, Masters of Time (MOT), this month and because many of the included topics appear in my own writing, via The Spanners Series, http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners-2, we both welcome your comments, questions and experiences! Join the conversation, please!

Because MOT includes contributions from one of my CHANGES conversations between authors Google+/Youtube Hangout On Air (HOA) guests who is guest blogging here next week (July 15, ) about MOT-related themes, Devorah (Dee) Fox, and a previous guest blogger, Samantha LaFantasie (November 5, 2014, “5 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block”), I am especially glad to help publicize this new anthology.

For more information about how to reach Alesha and know more about her writing, to become a guest on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below this post.

Thanks for visiting!


Let’s Talk #Anthologies: How To Put One Together And Sell It
by Alesha Escobar

If I could gather some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors into one room, I’d politely inform them that they couldn’t leave until they’ve handed over a compilation of new, addictive stories for my reading pleasure.

Except George R.R. Martin. I’d only let him participate if he promised to stop killing characters.

One of the best things about settling into a good sci-fi/fantasy book is being taken away to an imaginative world, running alongside characters you care about and feeling their heartache and triumphs. An anthology is a tasty buffet of good stories, whether they’re short tales or full-length ones. They can treat you to the scope of a single author’s creativity or a varied range of authors collaborating with each other.

Last year in an end-of-the-year blog post, I predicted (as much as one could) that we would see an uptick in time-travel stories. I decided to put my money where my mouth was and compile a time-travel anthology, Masters of Time.

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Now that I had the concept down (science-fiction and fantasy time travel), I knew I had to reach out to authors I respected and whose work I’ve enjoyed. Once I had that taken care of, then came in the “business aspect.”

If you’re an author thinking about contributing to an anthology or compiling one, I’ll share about this process in the hopes that it gives you an idea of the amount of work it takes, as well as how to avoid some pitfalls.

So, You’ve Got Your Book’s Theme and Your Author Line-up: Now What?

Contracts, Baby!

I’m the co-owner of a micro-press, Creative Alchemy, Inc. Not only was I going to contribute to this anthology as an author, I was also going to publish it through Creative Alchemy. As much as my co-authors love me, they have busy lives, projects, and bills to pay. They weren’t going to contribute a story for free, and as savvy writers, they wanted to know the royalties breakdown, publishing rights, and the length of time they’d have to wait before they could publish their individual stories on their own.

These are all valid concerns, so I drew up contracts in order to have it all settled and agreed upon. Even if the people you’re working with are friends or are trustworthy, still: have a signed contract. It won’t hurt.

Secure an Editor

I highly recommend that your editor is someone who is not a co-author of the project. It will help with objectivity, it will be one fewer thing you have to worry about, and it will guarantee that you’ll come out with a polished book. When compiling Masters of Time, our amazing editor, Charmaine, had no qualms with throwing us into the re-write dungeon when needed. Her insight, constructive criticism and feedback helped shape our work and mold it into something we could be proud of.

Set Deadlines

When is the first draft due? The second? And the last? Try to have a tentative release date scheduled as early as possible so you can work “backwards” toward that goal. Having specific dates written down also motivates writers and keep them accountable for turning in manuscripts.

Get a Professional to Format the Book

When six or more people email you their stories in MS Word format, they’re going to be coming in different fonts and sizes and with different formatting. Y’all know how picky Smashwords is with its vetting system and you don’t want to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing and use the preview feature only to find that your book looks horrible.

Save yourself the headache; once all the stories are compiled into a master document and edited, send it off to the formatter. This is also the perfect time to remind you to get your cover artist and work on the best image you believe will perfectly represent the book.

Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

Don’t neglect things like spelling the co-authors’ names the way that they want them to be spelled. One of my co-authors always needs his middle initial included, otherwise he is confused with another author by the same name. Does your author want to go by a pen name? Make sure you’ve got that down as well.

Have your co-authors submit their bios, book links and social media profiles, storing them in Evernote or another handy place. It’s a pain to ask them twenty times for this information because you never bothered to copy it down.

Double-check each story title and make sure they’re the final choices. Sometimes authors will start off with one title (or a temporary one) and then change it for the final version. Everything should be up-to-date and consistent.

And, after all has been edited and formatted, do another comb-through!

Don’t Wait Until Release Day to Tell the World about It

I swear I still have friends and relatives shrugging their shoulders and telling me, “Sweetie, why didn’t you say you wrote a book? I didn’t know!” Oh, believe me, I’ve been saying it 😉

Many people, including interested readers, lead busy lives. The internet throws loads of information at us all day, every day, and our social media feeds get more crowded by the second. It’s not a surprise that some people miss the exciting news that your latest project has just been released—so don’t wait until release day to alert people.

Masters of Time will be officially released July 13, but I’ve been advertising the anthology since the beginning of this year. How? As soon as I could, I put the book on pre-order and alerted my email subscribers (if you don’t have an author newsletter, start one). Several book promotion sites will advertise your pre-order, and then there are some seriously cool book bloggers out there who will also be happy to do a cover reveal, an interview, feature or a review of an advanced copy. Bloggers also love giveaways, so if you have a giveaway attached to your book release, it’s a plus!

I’ve announced my anthology at my own blog as well as brought in and featured my co-authors. We’ve exchanged guest posts. I hit the social media pavement and let my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ friends know. As we got closer to July, the advertising became more urgent, and I did all this while abiding by the principle of not spamming. It’s great to tell people about your book, but remember not to spam.

Also, while the bulk of your efforts may be through the internet, don’t neglect creating awareness in real life: is your local bookstore or library open to your holding an event? Can you share bookmarks, cards or flyers? Perhaps you can host a speaking engagement at your nearest book club or school campus? Get creative with the ways you can reach people and grow visibility for your book.

Now, Here Are Some Things I Already Wish I’d Done Differently

  1. I wish I would’ve added a few more authors to the anthology. While this collection is an amazing read, there are six of us contributing short stories and it’s 100 pages total. Not bad, but some promotion sites are used to presenting 800-page book collections and boxsets to their audience. I should’ve considered book length as one of my goals, though in my gut I do believe I chose the right authors and stories. This won’t necessarily harm us, but it will definitely be part of my planning process next time.
  2. I wish I would’ve done cross-critique among my co-authors. Though my in-house editor oversaw the book, I think there is additional value in authors reading one another’s contributing stories and offering feedback. This was done with the New Myths anthology I contributed to for HDWP Books, and it was an amazing process. It also lets your co-authors know what the other stories are about and it gives them room to mention these stories in interviews and blog posts.
  3. I wish I hadn’t had a “this is my responsibility” mentality. My co-authors were (and are) willing and ready to boost promotion and cross-promote, but sometimes I shied away because I felt that I needed to “prove myself” and show that I knew how to market a book. I also didn’t want to disappoint them. Duh! There is strength in numbers. If you’re the publisher or “leader” of an anthology, there’s nothing wrong with being open to letting your cohorts help you pick up the marketing and promotion slack. In fact, it’s better to have them all on board, helping. We have various skills, gifts, contacts and audience sizes. Working together to promote the book will only benefit the group—you’re in this together.

Hopefully, sharing my anthology process has given you an idea of what it’s like and what you should plan for.

If you’re a reader, perhaps this has been a nice peek into the world of writing and what it takes to get that amazing, finished product out to you.


Thank you, Sally, for inviting me today, and I hope you all continue to be entertained and inspired by great stories!


About the Author

Alesha Escobar writes fantasy to support her chocolate habit. She enjoys everything from Tolkien and Dante to the Dresden Files and Hellblazer comics. She resides in California with her partner-in-crime, Luis Escobar, a 20-year art veteran on The Simpsons television show.

Alesha is the author of The Gray Tower Trilogy, an action-packed, supernatural spy thriller set in an alternate 1940’s. The trilogy books have hit the Amazon bestsellers lists for Historical Fantasy and Mashups.

You can find Alesha at her weekly blog, Fantasy, Mashups, & Mayhem, where she discusses fantasy and science-fiction TV shows, movies and books, and celebrity gossip…She’s just kidding about the celebrity gossip.

But, there IS a giveaway for MOT: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/p/enter-giveaway.html

The Black Dagger Gods (short story, New Myths Anthology)

 
Find Alesha on:

Alesha Escobar


MOT links:

webpage: http://timeanthology.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Time-Science-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1514173727
Trailer: http://youtu.be/PovabW4fyjQ
Apple iBooks/iTunes: http://apple.co/1bp77vK
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1K3ggGi
Barnes & Noble/ nook: http://bit.ly/1Kkkr0C


CHANGES conversations between authors is an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS occur frequently! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

Look who’s featured on 7/6/15 as part of Indie Authors’ Month: Sally Ember, Ed.D.!

Look who’s featured on 7/6/15 as part of Indie Authors’ Month: Sally Ember, Ed.D.!

Visit every day this month and honor Indie Authors! Thanks, Mel Cusick-Jones and Tony Talbot, for organizing and promoting this event and including me!
http://Asidefromwriting.com

iam-2015-topper

Indie Author Month 2015 is finally here! Thirty-one days, thirty-one indie authors for you to meet, sharing the best of what it is to be an indie author from their own experiences…

So, welcome to the first day of our Indie Author Month – now in its fourth year, we’re excited to be hosting more fantastic indie authors during the event, which will run throughout July.

As in previous years, the event aims to bring indie authors into the spotlight, helping them find new readers, as well as letting them share their experiences of writing and publishing as an indie author. There are highs and lows to this creative life and everyone’s experience and approach is slightly different…

This year specifically, we have opened up the event to authors of every genre – variety is the spice of life! The only thing we’ve asked from each of them is to tell us about their experiences as an indie writer…from their personal writing journey, to the things they’ve learned about self-publishing, you’ll find it all here this month.

We hope you’ll keep coming back each day through the event, to meet the authors and chat with them about their writing.

Download and purchase Indie Authors’ books!
Write #comments on our #blogs!
Post #bookreviews and ratings of our books on sale sites, especially Amazon, and on Goodreads, Booklikes, Shelfari, Library Thing, nook, Kobo and iBooks!

All links for FREE downloads and purchase of ebooks in The Spanners Series as well as places to post comments and reviews: http://www.sallyember.com Look right; scroll down.

THANKS!

TV Reviews: Three New Summer TV Series – Proof, Complications, and Dark Matter: my reviews on Blog Critics’ site

Three New Summer TV Series – Proof, Complications, and Dark Matter: my reviews on Blog Critics’ site

went live on June 24, 2015

http://blogcritics.org/tv-review-three-new-summer-tv-series-proof-complications-and-dark-matter/

Giveaway 2day only (7/4/15): Celebrate my topping 5K Tweeps and get #Free #scifi #Ebook!

To celebrate that I just topped 5K Tweeps (no ‘bots! no Twitter sharks!) on Twitter, I’m giving away one of my Spanners Series #ebooks!

Contact me: sallyember@yahoo DOT com for a coupon on ‪#‎Smashwords‬ to get Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, #free today, 7/4/15 only (usually $3.99)

final-cover-print

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever of The Spanners Series. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II. How would YOU do with the changes?

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

Vol I, This Changes Everything, is ‪#‎permafree‬

this-changes-everything-cover

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are YOU ready for the changes?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

‪#‎scifi‬ The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

logoAuthorsDen
http://www.sallyember.com FMI, reviews, more links

Part II: Science Alert, Serious Wonder, Brain Pickings Weekly and Cosmos Up

Part II: Science Alert, Serious Wonder, Brain Pickings Weekly and Cosmos Up

[All three posts in this series have the same introduction, but I choose info from each of the four science compilation sites separately for each post. This post focuses on gleanings from Serious Wonder and Brain Pickings Weekly]

INTRO: I should have been a research scientist. I love science. I’m extremely intelligent, determined, creative, and organized. I coulda been a contenda for a Nobel prize. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Why am I not a scientist? I had a series of misogynistic (one of my teachers hated the four girls in my advanced science class so much he would pith [paralyze] the frogs by holding them in the air directly in front of one of us so that each frog would urinate on our blouses), anti-Semitic (another one wore his “John Birch Society” pin to school every day, displayed prominently on his lapel; there were three girls in my class and he insulted each of us daily), incompetent (in an lab accident at his “real” job, this poor man had lost most of his sight and drive and spent each class time mostly ignoring all of us) and otherwise horrible science teachers in 8th, 9th, and 10th grades.

With better teachers in those critical years, my life could have turned out very differently. Those terrible teachers turned me so far off science I only took one more “hard” science course (because it was required, in undergraduate college), despite many more years of education, through getting a doctorate.

As an adult, I became enthralled with quantum physics, health/anatomy, nutrition, child development/learning and the multiverse/astrophysics, so I read. A lot. I also watch documentaries. I am not even close to understanding some of the physics stuff, but the rest I got quite adept at utilizing. To “keep up,” I subscribe to many science-oriented blogs and curation sites.

My favorites are: Science Alert, Serious Wonder and Cosmos Up. I also subscribe to Brain Pickings Weekly, which I include in the Serious Wonder post. I will excerpt from some of the “best of the best” of what I’ve recently perused. Part II is all from Serious Wonder.

I hope you enjoy! Go subscribe!


SeriousWonder.com

SeriousWonderLogo

Astrophysics and Quantum Physics/Mechanics
1. 9/11/14, Your Cosmic Address, BY STEPHEN P. BIANCHINI of Serious Wonder

When you were younger, didn’t you sometimes write your “return” address in a similar way? Well, now you have a more exact way to locate yourself…In case you send mail to aliens, for example.

“…[T]his is the cosmic address you may want to use: Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, Laniakea,” in case someone not from this planet needs to know.

What/where the heck is “Laniakea,” and why do we not already know about it?

Astronomers informed us recently about “the large-scale structure of the Universe” which has “…four huge areas identified so far: Laniakea, its neighbouring Perseus-Pisces supercluster, and two other superclusters, Shapley and Coma, on the far side of the universe.”

Elmo Temple from Estonia explained: “‘[The name Laniakea]… is taken from the Hawaiian words lani, which means heaven, and akea, which means spacious or immeasurable.'”

So, time to re-do those multiverse business cards, eh?

http://goo.gl/9wPLOJ

  1. 2/1/15, The Absurdity of Infinity: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Explains Whether the Universe Is Infinite or Finite in Letters to Her Mother, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

It is so illuminating for the rest of us when highly intelligent, inquisitive people ruminate on deep questions and share their thoughts with us, isn’t it?

“In 1998, while on the cusp of becoming one of the most significant theoretical cosmologists of our time, mathematician-turned-astrophysicist Janna Levin left her post at Berkeley and moved across the Atlantic for a prestigious position at Cambridge University. During the year and a half there, she had the time and space to contemplate the question that would eventually become the epicenter of her career — whether the universe is infinite or finite. What began as a series of letters to her mother, Sandy, eventually became an unusual diary of Levin’s ‘social exile as a roaming scientist,’ and was finally published as How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space (public library) — a most unusual and absorbing account of the paradoxes of finitude.”

From Levin’s book/letters: “‘We’re all intrinsically of the same substance. The fabric of the universe is just a coherent weave from the same threads that make our bodies. How much more absurd it becomes to believe that the universe, space and time could possibly be infinite when all of us are finite.'”

Levin concluded: “‘I welcome the infinite in mathematics, where … it is not absurd nor demented. But I’d be pretty shaken to find the infinite in nature. I don’t feel robbed living my days in the physical with its tender admission of the finite. I still get to live with the infinite possibilities of mathematics, if only in my head.'”

Where do you stand on the multiverse as infinite-not infinite subject? I tend to veer way from her inescapable logic into the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, but where each of the versions of the universe so conceived is probably finite.

http://goo.gl/p6ucpj

Child Development/Learning
3. 9/11/14, Telepathy is now a Thing, Thanks to Technology , BY B.J. Murphy of Serious Wonder

It warms my telepathic heart-mind when tech geeks prove what the rest of us with E.S.P. already know!

“As experiments like the one above show, telepathy is a very real concept which need be aided by our own innovations – the creation of techno-telepathy.”

“Could you imagine what our world will transform into when our predominant means of communication is via thought? Everything will change fundamentally, from our markets to our governance.”

Then they have to go and ruin it, with scare tactics….

http://goo.gl/IIblvE

  1. 3/8/15, This Idea Must Die: Some of the World’s Greatest Thinkers Each Selects a Major Misconception Holding Us Back, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

I ADORE this book, which “Edge founder, John Brockman, collected by posing his annual question — ‘What scientific idea is ready for retirement?’ — to 175 of the world’s greatest scientists, philosophers, and writers,” and the accompanying article/review. So inspiring!

Here is my favorite excerpt, based on the responses from one of my favorite scientists, biological anthropologist, Helen Fischer, “…who studies the brain on love….[She] points to romantic love and addiction as two concepts in need of serious reformulation and reframing — one best accomplished by understanding the intersection of the two. Fisher argues that we ought to broaden the definition of addiction and do away with science’s staunch notion that all addiction is harmful. Love, she argues, with a wealth of neurobiological evidence in hand, is in fact a state that closely resembles that of addiction in terms of what happens in the brain during it — and yet love, anguishing as it may be at times, is universally recognized as the height of positive experience. In that respect, it presents a case of ‘positive addiction.’…'[B]esotted lovers express all four of the basic traits of addiction: craving, tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse.’”

And, even though this excerpt belongs in my post’s section on quantum physics and the astrophysics, above, I had to put it here, since it comes from this article:

“Science writer, Amanda Gefter, takes issue with one particular manifestation of our propensity for oversimplification — the notion of the universe. She writes: ‘…[T]here’s my universe and there’s your universe — but there’s no such thing as the universe.'”

An expansion of many of my own thoughts on a variety of subjects and more than I could ever have thought of on others await me. Gotta get this book!

http://goo.gl/7Z5Weo

Anatomy/Biology/Zoology and Gender
5. 4/18/15, AIR SHEPHERD: ANTI-POACHING DRONES SEEK CROWDFUNDING, BY B.J. MURPHY of Serious Wonder

I’m not a fan of drones (given most of their current uses, but this is a great idea! To protect elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species: “‘We fly drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have infrared cameras and GPS on them and can send back thermal images of animals . . . and poachers.’ – Air Shepherd.”

Air Shepherd‘s crowdfunding campaign deadline has passed (April, 2015), but the goal was not met and they would appreciate donations at any time: https://goo.gl/hfi9u1 for the IndieGogo page and more info, including http://www.AirShepherd.org for the website itself.

http://goo.gl/uaqlMu

  1. 3/8/15, The Best LGBT Children’s Books: A Sweet and Assuring Celebration of Diversity and Difference, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

As a parent, a bisexual, a feminist and a long-time educator, I am extremely committed to enlarging perspectives, particularly for young children. This list of excellent children’s books on gender, sexual orientation and other related “differences” whose authors embrace diversity in all its guises makes me very happy since it helps many who work with and raise children to find great reads on these important topics.

Plus, who doesn’t love Maurice Sendak’s books, regardless of your age and politics? We lost one of the 20th Century’s greatest writers for children (and adults) when he passed recently.

Books in this list were published in the 1990s and afterwards and range to one about gay penguins, a grandmother who speaks about lesbians to a granddaughter who asks, a prince seeking a spouse (not a bride, as it turns out), a gay human father and more. Each has excellent illustrations, demonstrates acceptance values, and provides the types of dialogue and storylines adults will be glad to read and re-read to the young children until they can read them on their own.

You might think this list of children’s books doesn’t belong in a post about “science,” but science includes advances in social and emotional health, right? Include these books in every library, school, daycare facility, summer camp and home and we’ll see a huge rise in the mental health of LGBT youth and a great increase in the number of LGBT Allies as well.

http://goo.gl/BNr6qJ

Health and Nutrition
7. 2/1/15, How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity, by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings Weekly

I am a musician. I come from a family of musicians. My son and his father are musicians. Many of my lifelong and new friends are musicians. I am currently helping two kids (ages 7 & 11) learn about music and to play the piano. I have been a paid accompanist, musical director and songwriter. To say I believe in the value of music would be a vast understatement, but this article about the health benefits of music encourages and uplifts me enormously, particularly since I am in the unexpectedly long process of recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)/concussion which occurred over a year ago.

According to the latest research: “…[P]laying music benefits the brain more than any other activity…[and] it impacts executive function and memory…” which are two of the areas most affected in me by my recent TBI.

I love the way musician/author, Glenn Kurtz, explains in his book, Practicing, exactly in what ways playing (not just listening to) music improves our brains: “‘Because making music also involves crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians also have higher levels of executive function — a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing, and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects.

“‘This ability also has an impact on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions — creating, storing, and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag — like a good internet search engine.'”

http://goo.gl/aF3y3z

Brain pickings logo
Brain Pickings WeeklyBrain Pickings Weekly


Look for Part I, published on June 1, which focused on info gathered by Alert.

ScienceAlert.com

Science Alert logo

Next, look for Part III in late July, info from Cosmos Up.

CosmosUp.com

Cosmos Up logo

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”: Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to welcome Fran Connor as my guest blogger today. Fran is a scriptwriter/screenwriter, novelist and blogger living in France but hailing from the UK who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 25.

Fran has several well-considered opinions, which he calls “rants,” that he’s decided to share with us all today. Comment here and send comments directly to his email , as requested.

For more information about how to reach Fran and know more about his writing, or to become a guest 0on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below his post.

Thanks for visiting!


“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”
Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

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#Censorship

That’s a title that immediately puts writers on one side of the line or the other, with a few sitting on the fence getting a corrugated derriere.

But we all participate in censorship when we write, don’t we? And if we don’t, should we?

I’m working on a project at present that involves people in the seventeenth century. Rich people. The ones who lived in huge mansions bought with the proceeds of the slave trade.

And I got to thinking about the protagonist. A man of his time. Good to his family. A God-fearing churchgoer. He helps the poor villagers in his English village by providing meat from the deer on his estate during the winter. He provides schooling for the village children so they can learn to read, write and better their chances in the future. He treats his wife as almost equal. ‘Almost’? Yes, almost, because he is a man of his time. And, of course, he’s kind to his dog.

He makes his fortune by shipping slaves across the Atlantic. He’s following his Christian faith; the Bible allows him to deal in slaves.

STOP! You can’t have that. Oh no, no no. How can you have a sympathetic Christian main character who makes his living from slavery? It simply would not be tolerated by many readers of today’s novels usually attracted to this genre. Not unless he “sees the light” on the way to Damascus, and my guy doesn’t see the light. Such characters existed. Perhaps historians could get away with it in an academic tome, but not a novelist aiming at an Historical Romance clientele.

Or, could I get away with it? It may stir up some complaints, and as we know, even bad publicity can be good for sales.

So I will have to make him earn his fortune elsewhere in order not to alienate my readers. I need to censor my writing.

What if I were not to censor my writing and went ahead glorifying a man who chained people in the depths of a sailing ship in horrendous conditions for months? I would probably have rotten tomatoes or worse thrown at me at the book signing!

Sadly, there would be people out there who would love such a character. It would strengthen their racist and bigoted opinions. I wouldn’t want that, so I should censor the piece.

It isn’t a case of being politically correct. It’s a case of trying not to deliberately upset people. I think most of us would do the same: self-censor. Apart from anything else, it would be literary suicide to annoy your readers.

What do you think?

Tell me at: francis@connorscripts.com


#Violence

Then we have the horrific depiction of violence against women in many novels, films and on TV. Why? What’s the point?

The point is that it sells. Sex sells. It always has and always will. And for most of us, there is nothing wrong or evil about sex between consenting adults, either heterosexual or same-sex. But, sex mixed with violence is a heady concoction and unleashes the demons inside some readers and viewers.

There are those who would argue that it does no such thing. After thirty-three years in a UK police force, I would argue to the contrary. But I’m not an intellectual, as I have already said, so I suppose one of those would dispute my claim.

Why are we fixated on murder and violence? Have we not come far from the days of Imperial Rome, where a good afternoon’s entertainment was to see men fight to the death or lions eat unfortunate victims? I think the answer to that is: “No, we haven’t.”

I self-censor my sex scenes to ensure that I do not depict women as victims. Many other writers do the same. Some do not.

Most people will be fortunate not to be murdered or not know anyone who has been murdered. It is, thankfully, still a rare crime in most civilized countries. If someone close to you has been murdered or you have been sexually assaulted, how do you feel about the subject being the source of entertainment?

Should the depiction of women as victims or murder as entertainment be censored by the authorities if writers won’t self-censor?

I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

Please send your views to: francis@connorscripts.com


#Buying ratings

We all want to see our work hit the number one best-seller target on Amazon, but how far are we willing to go in order to achieve that goal?

Like most authors, I use the various tactics available for increasing my exposure and soliciting reviews. Recently, however, I came across a site that “guaranteed sales of at least one thousand books” if they were priced at $0.99. The cost of this service was $1400.

One thousand sales in a short period will push your ratings quite high. Now I’ve been in this game for a few years, I’m no expert, but I’m no fool either. I can’t think of any way that one can guarantee that one thousand people will buy your book at $0.99. There must be an angle, a catch, something fishy going on. I can’t claim to know what it is, but I would suggest that it could be the use of clever software or simply one person buying one thousand Kindle copies. Would that strike an alarm in Amazon? Again, I don’t know, but I expect that it would.

The supplier of this service spends out $990 but gets paid $1400. Not a bad return.

My point isn’t getting at the supplier. Someone sees a niche in the market and fills it. That’s enterprise. My point is: why would we consider purchasing the service? Because it may lead to more genuine sales and perhaps or possibly or maybe lead to recovering your $1400 outlay?

I suggest that you are unlikely to get any reviews, good or bad, from the alleged purchasers of your $0.99 book. So, is it ethical to use this service? Do ethics have any place in today’s cut-throat publishing scramble?

If you have any views on this, please send them to: francis@connorscripts.com


One more rant! #Compassion

I saw in late May that the state of Texas decided to execute a man who was in his late sixties after he had served thirty-one years in prison awaiting execution and going through all the legal appeals. His last one obviously had failed. He had been convicted of four murders and may well have been guilty, although that is not always a given.

One often hears politicians and others saying “God Bless America.” On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, I heard President Obama say “May God continue to bless America.”

Makes me wonder why God would bless a country that lacks compassion.

This is just the view of a Brit. You can argue with me at: francis@connorscripts.com


The comments above are those of author and screenwriter, Fran Connor, and not necessarily the views of the host of this blog, Sally Ember, Ed.D.


Fran Connor is the author of:

The Devil’s Bridge

devil's bridge final fron
http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Bridge-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00N02YN6C/

Someone to Watch Over Me

someone to watch over me 2
http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Watch-Over-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00XV2MW2I/

Sophia and the Fisherman

sophia final 3
http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Fisherman-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00VQVQAME/

Visit Fran: http://www.connorscripts.com


Fran Connor was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 25. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS 7/8 and beyond! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

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OPENINGS on *CHANGES* conversations between authors: 7/8 and beyond!

OPENINGS on CHANGES conversations between authors 7/8/15 and beyond!

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CHANGES is a unique Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) simulcast on YouTube most Wednesdays, LIVE, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, with host Sally Ember, Ed.D., in spontaneous dialogue with an author from any fiction type or genre and also from nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, and blogging.

The show is NOT an “author interview,” although some of those elements do occur during the show (promoting/talking about one’s writing, books, origins, plot, characters, ideas).