Sunday, April 29, 2018

What We're Watching

INGRID THOFT
Just as I'm always looking for great book recommendations, I'm equally eager to get movie and TV recommendations.  I'll go first, with the hope that like a chain letter, I'll get many suggestions in return!
Acorn TV has provided the three most recent shows I've been watching.  They're also available on DVD if you don't have Acorn.  The first, SUSPECTS, is a show about a team of detectives in Manchester, England.  The amazing thing about this show is that the dialogue is largely improvised.  This, and the style of the camera work, gives it a documentary-like style.  It's fast paced—I need the subtitles even though it's in English—and the investigative work they do is very compelling.  I'm not sure how they would solve crimes in the U.K. without the help of CCTV!  I hope this show is picked up for another season.

THE DISAPPEARANCE is a french miniseries about the disappearance of a teenage girl in Marseilles, France.  I binged this one and even sent the DVD to my mom since I thought she'd enjoy it, too.  There are many cliffhangers, and the acting is great.  There are a couple of plot twists that are rather implausible (and don't even get me started on the cleavage baring wardrobe of the female cop), but I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries, particularly those set outside of the U.S.

My third pick is very different in tone:  It's lighter and doesn't focus on serious crime.  STRIKING OUT is set in Dublin and follows a young lawyer who has "struck out" on her own after leaving a large corporate firm.  The main characters are charming, and it's interesting to get a bit of insight into the Irish legal system.  I leave the subtitles on for this show, too.  The accents are lovely, but interfere as I try to follow the plot!

How about you, Reds?  What are you watching these days?


JENN McKINLAY: The last TV show I was really hooked on was THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Loved, loved, loved it, but they changed the format and the cast so that's over. Sadly, I don't watch much TV. If I find something I like, I will binge watch it, but most of my evenings are spent reading, playing ping pong with the Hooligans, or floating in the pool with the Hub while listening to the Grateful Dead. I am really looking forward to the recommendations here - clearly I need to up my TV game.

HALLIE EPHRON: The two shows I love are VERA (with Brenda Blethyn based on the series by Ann Cleeves) and THE DETECTORISTS.

Up to now, all seven seasons of VERA have been on Acorn, but suddenly, the new season is going to Britbox. BOOO. I really don't want another subscription.

THE DETECTORISTS is not a crime show—it's a quirky British ensemble comedy about a bunch of sweet sad sacks who love to go out with their metal detectors in search of buried treasure. Can't wait for the new season. Also loved, but waiting for new seasons of: GLOW and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL.

I'm trying to get hooked on CASE STUDIES and BOSCH, but so far not succeeding. And though I loved the first episodes of SHERLOCK, the final ones that are streaming are too bizarre. And wondering about THE AMERICANS. Advice??

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh, I'm no further along on TV than I was the last time we discussed it. We have one more episode of THE CROWN to watch, then will be waiting for the third season. I will have to try VERA, since I'm so hooked on Ann Cleeves's Shetland mysteries. Actually Jenn, I think you are doing exactly the right thing playing pool with the hooligans and floating in the pool with hub. Great priorities!

DEBORAH CROMBIE:  Ingrid, I'm checking out all three of the shows you mentioned. Although how I'll ever manage to watch all of them, I don't know. I'm behind on VERA and just about everything else.

What we have been watching and loving is a sci-fi series on Netflix called TRAVELERS. People from the future send their consciousnesses back to the 21st century to try to affect the future timeline. There are, of course, the usual time travel paradoxes, but it's so well done, and we love all the characters so much that we are totally hooked. Two more episodes to watch in season two, but I just read that season three is in production. Although it's supposed to be set in Seattle, it's actually filmed in Canada, and all the actors are Canadian.
I'm also loving a series running on my local PBS station, but I think it is also on Acorn, called PIE IN THE SKY. It ran for about five years in the mid-nineties in the UK. Richard Griffith's stars as an irascible police officer who is trying to retire and open a restaurant. Absolutely charming, and I adore it.



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So here's what happened. We love THE AMERICANS and really look forward to it. If you haven't watched it, the pilot episode is one of the bet ever, and the show kept going beautifully—now it the midst of the last season. All good. About Russian spies embedded as Americans, and it's great.

We also love HOMELAND. More spies. All good.  But now, one  of the actors who plays a spy on THE AMERICANS is now in the cast of HOMELAND, as a spy!  I am hopelessly confused.


Same thing happened with two other shows. We started watching MADAME SECRETARY long ago—you DO watch that, right? SO good, about a female Secretary of State.  Then we started watching DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, about the one cabinet member left alive after bad guys blow up the US Capitol.  So then the next week on MADAME SECRETARY, they walked into the Capitol building, of course, and I said to Jonathan—hey! How did they  rebuild that so fast? Then I realized—it was another show.

Maybe I am simply not cut out for this, and should stick with PROJECT RUNWAY!

I am also ashamed to say we finally started watching BREAKING BAD.  We had started once, and decided it was a no. Then, for some reason, we tried it again.  Readers, it is fabulous. Fabulous! Surprising in every way. Highly highly recommended, but then you probably are all watching it already.
Brenda Blethyn a.k.a Vera Stanhope
RHYS BOWEN:  Another VERA fan here and having just met Brenda Blethyn, I'm even more of a fan because she was so lovely and friendly and just hung out with us at Malice. I was hooked on THE CROWN and VICTORIA, and I gather there will be a season three of both.  I love THE AMAZING RACE because they go to such different parts of the world. Otherwise a lot of PBS documentaries.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: The Smithie and I have gotten into a wonderful crime fiction/thriller/horror series on Amazon Prime - FORTITUDE. It's a combination of Arnaldur Indriðason, Michael Crichton, and your favorite arctic nature documentary - a genuinely twisty, puzzling mystery set in a fictionalized version of Svalbard, where climate change is threatening the livelihood of scientists, fishermen and the tourism economy. 

It has an amazing cast, comprising Scandanavian and Irish actors I've never seen before with star power like Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon and Dennis Quaid. The breakout is Richard Dormer as the lonely, conflicted sheriff at the center of the story. I can almost always spot the clues and figure our whodunnit well before the end of movie or TV mysteries, but I was well and truly stumped throughout the first series. Two seasons are up already, and the Irish/UK producer, SKY Atlantic, has signed for a third and final series. If you have Prime, check it out, and let me know what you think.

What TV gems can you share with us today, Readers?

86 comments:

  1. Right now, we are enjoying having a three-year-old staying with us, so our television fare is pure Disney Junior. Trust me when I say we don’t mind a bit!
    Otherwise, count us among the fans of “Madame Secretary” and “Designated Survivor.” We’re also enjoying “The Crossing” . . . .

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  2. I'm not watching a lot that would make others ooh and ahh over my selections. I watch a lot of mainstream TV. Like others, I'm watching Designated Survivor. I like the show a lot but I don't know if it is going to get renewed for another season.

    I'm also watching Timeless (a time travel show) and Lucifer. I watch Madam Secretary too. Like I said, not much in the way of anything groundbreaking. I tried the first episode of the Acorn TV series Loch Ness and liked that but I don't have access to more than that first episode which was free on On Demand.

    I watched the first three seasons of The Americans which Hank raved about. However, after that I grew bored with the show and could no longer suspend belief as the show essentially asks us to root for the "bad guys".

    Taking a bit of a turn, I will say that I've stopped watching a lot of shows lately. And they all have one thing in common. I've grown very bored with a lot of the comic book based shows. I've dropped The Flash, Black Lightning, Gotham, Arrow and iZombie. They have all grown stale and boring. I've got better things to either watch or do. So out they go.

    Oh, and I've started a rewatch of the fantastic five year novel for television science fiction series Babylon 5. It's a fantastic series and if you like science fiction, you will not go wrong by checking it out. I love it so much that I've met a number of the cast members at conventions as well as the show's creator.

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    1. Jay, keep trying! It has a little low in the middle, and then it gets fabulous again.

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    2. B5 4-ever! I love that show, and I truly believe it was the FIRST series to drop the episodic format in favor of the unspooling, novelistic storytelling so common today.

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    3. We stopped watching "Arrow" after season two, Jay. We felt like the world of the comic book characters completely took over, and I was having trouble keeping everyone straight! Too bad since I really did like Oliver and Felicity!

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    4. Hank, unfortunately when I drop shows, I pretty much never go back so I doubt I'll get back to The Americans.

      Julia, yes Babylon 5 forever. But I'm not sure it dropped the episodic format. Creator J. Michael Straczynski had the five year plan in mind from the start, and if you watch stuff from the admittedly a little slow first season, the seeds planted there come to fruition later in the series.

      Ingrid, I only just dropped Arrow a couple weeks back but I can understand your issues with keeping everyone straight. If you aren't well versed in the comic characters from the actual books, it might get a bit much. Unfortunately, my problem is that the writing grew not only repetitive but boring. Not just with Arrow, but all the others. And the utterly awful fourth season to the point I was watching iZombie turned me off to the show completely now. I even tweeted out to the iZombie's writer's room how much I disliked what they were doing with one plotline in particular.

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    5. I just met one of the writers for Arrow at the Poisoned Pen - Sarah Tarkoff whose first book SINLESS in the Eye of the Beholder series (YA) is out. We discussed "Olicity" and she assured me it was not the writers' idea for it to go that way. Like you, Jay, I was watching all of those but I've noticed around season 4 they start to jump the shark.

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    6. Jenn, The Flash was the worst offender. Black Lightning started off good but quickly grew boring. iZombie's fourth season has ruined the show despite the balls-to-the-wall performance from star Rose McIver. And Arrow just got like The Flash.

      I still watch Lucifer and Supergirl because they've kept my interest. And DC's Legends of Tomorrow is just insane fun so I still LOVE that one.

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  3. We've watched library DVD's: Vera, Shetland, Hinterland, Midsomer Murder, DCI Banks, Jack Irish, Cadfael, Foyle's War, The Fall, The Tunnel, Janet King, Broadchurch, Case Histories, and Gently, with the incomparable Martin Shaw. Now enjoying Waking the Dead. Ripper Street and Doctor Blake mysteries as backups. Will put Suspects and The Disappearance on the list. My favorites? Shetland and Jack Irish.

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    1. LOVE Foyle's War. He is so sweetly sad.

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    2. Hank,

      I wish there'd been more but they would've had to write out Sam given how they left things in the last episode so I'm kind of glad it ended where it did.

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  4. Ingrid, your suggestions are all new to me and I am going to try them. Where can you watch The Disappearance? I am with you Hank, The Americans is one of the best shows ever. Inspired by a real event, the discovery of Russian spies (and their raised in America families) who were sleeper cells here in the USA, waiting to answer the call. The premise of the show is just so interesting. Many of the foreign produced detective shows are the best. The Fall with Jillian Anderson is an all-time great show, and you won't find a woman detective anywhere as tough, aggressive, and as vulnerable as she is. A French Village, which is about an occupied French village during WWII is great, and I was very happy to see many of my favorite characters from another gritty French detective series, Spiral, in it. The detective in Spiral could be compared to Jillian Anderson's in The Fall. Both of these shows have multiple seasons but they can be hard to find (Amazon and Netflix have some seasons). And finally, Happy Valley and Broadchurch both feature tough and likable female detectives, and the shows are first rate.

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    1. Oh yes! We loved The Fall. French Village sounds really intriguing!

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    2. I loved "Happy Valley", John. I'll put "A French Village" on my list!

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  5. For some unknown reason, I stopped watching television in December. Now y'all are tempting me back. If I return it will be for The Good Place, Dr. Who, and Fargo. Madame Secretary, Lucifer, and Designated Survivor are on the bench. They will be back in my tv world, if I get hooked again. But now I have so much more time for reading!

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    1. The Good Place is brilliant. And I love Doctor Who.

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  6. First of all, I must watch more Brit TV than anyone, because I'm watching everything you people are, except for Hank, and Julie is watching everything Hank is!

    The Detectorists is superb, Fortitude blew my mind first season, second season not so much, and Pie in the Sky was such a treat. Unfortunately Richard Crichton died a couple of years ago. There's nothing nt to love about Acorn, britbox, and PBS in my opinion.

    Currently we are both hooked on Good Karma HospitaL, No Offense, Delicious, and Dr. Findlay on Acorn. Britbox favorites are too many to count, but Vera and Shetland are both favorites, plus older stuff like QI with Stephen Fry, which I watched with my grandson over the weekend. We laughed until we cried. Also have a look at Mum, just excellent.

    On PBS there is Unforgotten, Call the Midwife, naturally, and another season of The Crown is coming up.

    Amazon Prime has so much, but have a look at Killing Eve with Sandra Oh. I promise it will satisfy your blood lust for weeks.

    This is by no means a complete list. I do have books to read and gyms to go to and dogs to walk you know.

    Happy Monday

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    1. Cannot wait for The Crown. And Outlander!

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    2. Yesterday we watched The Post, certainly one of the best ever films.

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    3. The Post is fantastic. Youngest and I saw it in the theater after viewing ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN a couple weeks before. Very interesting to consume them back-to-back.

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    4. "The Post" is definitely on my list, and "Delicious" looks good, too.

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    5. Yes, we watched The Post last weekend and loved it. Fascinating, and I was so interested in Katharine Graham that I immediately had to go look up everything I could find about her. Now I want to re-watch All the President's Men, as it's been years.

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    6. LOVED The Post. And the exact cinematic connection is SO brilliant.

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  7. What a plethora of great shows! But I will confess, years ago, for financial reasons I had to let my tv service go. And I live in the absolute twilight zone of internet availability (hard to believe when I'm in northern Ohio, not in the wilderness), so no streaming of movies or tv show episodes here. That is extremely frustrating to me and my two hooligans (couldn't resist, Jenn, after a particularly hooliganish weekend!) because we enjoy movies and good acting. But, short of moving, we're stuck! So enjoy, and keep those suggestions coming--maybe someday the twilight zone will lift and I'll find myself in the land of real connectivity again!

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  8. Wasn't Brenda Blethyn the best? She was so gracious, and just great fun.

    I binge-watched Vera a few months ago, getting Acorn for it. But since there's no contract with either Acorn or BritBox (and since BritBox sponsored so much of this year's Malice), I'm going to switch for awhile. Someone said they're the same company, but I'm unsure about that being true.

    The Indian Doctor was on Acorn, and thanks to Ann Mason's recommendation, I watched all of it. So good. No mystery, but a comic fish out of water situation: An East Indian couple, living in a Welsh village as the community doctor and his proper wife. Charming, and lovely.

    I finally got up to speed with The Crown, and will miss Claire Foy as Elizabeth. But I'm just not watching very much regular TV, at least not until Dancing With the Stars comes on again. I'd so much rather read. Now aren't you all glad?

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    1. I have to confess I still haven't watched "The Crown". How will it live up to all the raves, I wonder?

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    2. Start by reading the Tom & Lorenzo recaps, with costume analysis. They share so much insight, and it helped me understand many aspects of the history, and the dynamics between characters, better. https://tomandlorenzo.com/tag/the-crown/

      This blog duo (husbands in real life, one with a costume background) have analyzed serialized TV shows since the first episode of Mad Men, and they are brilliant.

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    3. I've known Tom of Tom & Lorenzo since his days on a comic book message forum we were both a part of. I don't read the blog, but I love seeing when it gets mentioned online and in news articles.

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  9. Season 3 of The Expanse on SyFy. Space opera with a lot of political intrigue and great characters. Books by James S.A. Corey are even better.

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    1. I've read the books and loved them, Lisa, but haven't started the TV series for fear of disappointment. However, I've heard several recommendations, including yours, so I think I need to give it a go.

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    2. I actually abandoned "The Expanse" at season two. It got too complicated and was taxing my brain too much!

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    3. I think reading the books definitely helps to keep track - there are many turns!

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  10. We don’t watch a lot of TV. Mostly Nature, Nova and This Old House.

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  12. I have been rewatching Midsomer Mysteries -- there are so many subplots and red herrings, and there is so much great wordplay and English village life (there are apparently nine thousand villages in Midsomer, each with its own history and traditions and secrets, and very precious name). Just picked up a few recommendations from you all -- thanks

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    1. I love Midsomer Mysteries! I wish they made more of them.

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    2. I'm watching Midsomer, too, as it's running on my PBS station. Funnily enough, (for a writer of British crime) I'd only watched it sporadically, usually when in the UK. And I'm friends with the writer who was the showrunner up until John Nettles left the series.
      The show is so charming!

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  13. Reposting with typos fixed ( I hope!): The Americans. Yes! I watched the first show, really, because my husband wanted to see it. He did not like it but I was hooked. Compelling premise - characters who are truly not bad people but do very bad things in service to an ideal - protecting the Motherland from the big bad USA. And what it does to them. And what we, the viewers, know is coming. (set in 1980's)From one extreme to other - I loved British Baking Show and miss it. Miss Fisher any time I can find it. Jury's out on Killing Eve so far. Like Frankie and Grace a whole lot. (It's true - I have eclectic tv taste)I happened to watch the last episode of McMafia and think I'll have to find the rest. Love James Norton in Grantchester ( love Grantchester altogether).

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    1. I have "McMafia" in my queue, Triss. I've heard that some of the episodes are quite violent and difficult to watch in terms of the subject matter (human trafficking, for instance), but I do love James Norton!

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  14. If you like time travel or history, Timeless is a great series. "A trio travel through time in order to battle a criminal organization (Rittenhouse) to protect history as we know it." In its second season.
    Just finish part 4 of 4 of Howards End adaptation on Starz starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew MacFadyen. Lovely production values and acting.
    On Netflix, I recently binged Hallmark's When Calls the Heart. I didn't know I had a thing for Mounties. :)
    Regular TV shows are winding down their seasons at this time of the year. Hoping I'll get more reading done.

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  15. Boy, am I out of it. I not only haven't watched all these shows you're mentioning, I haven't even heard of most of them. That might be a good thing, although I wonder how crucial it is for a writer to have some familiarity with this stuff. Any thoughts on that? In the mean time, I'm off to the library to borrow The Matrix and see what all the fuss is about.

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    1. I like to watch TV mysteries because I find it relaxing (weird, right?), but also because it's a great lesson in a different type of storytelling. It's interesting to reverse engineer the shows that really work and think about ways to apply that to writing.

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    2. Exactly. And if drives Jonathan crazy, because I am always dissecting them. WHILE they are on. (Does dissecting have 2 s's?)

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    3. Have to agree. On the fairly rare occasions when I say "HOW did they pull that off?" it is always worthwhile to go back and work it out.And for the rest? I find it relaxing, when I am writing, to let someone else's storytelling just drift across my eyes, as tv does. PS Forgot to say one of my big favorites, Call the Midwife. So much wonderful storytelling in each episode.

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  16. If you've never tried Jane the Virgin, check it out. Makes me laugh out loud at times. Gina Rodriguez is such a good comedic actress, though the whole show is well cast.
    And for anyone who's gone through Breaking Bad you have to try Better Call Saul. I thought there was no way they could make a series based on the Saul Goodman character and have it watchable for an extended period of time, but they did. It's a great show about the beginnings of Saul's career - before he was "Saul".

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    1. Oh YES, I love Better Call Saul. I didn't think I would, but wow. SO agree with you!

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  17. I'll come back and write a review later on today when I can catch my breath, but Detective Montalbano is a marvellous police show from somewhat over a decade ago. It takes place in Italy (Sicily I think).

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  18. I don't think I can make any legitimate recommendations. Most of my TV viewing these days falls into what I call "superhero soap operas" like "The Flash" or "Arrow." Not because they are particularly good, mind, just because they allow me to turn my brain off for an hour.

    Mary/Liz

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  19. Is anyone else watching Unforgotten? Ann, I think you said you were. I LOVE Nicola Walker, but so far have only managed to watch part of the first episode.

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    1. We are trying to watch this..somehow, it's not grabbing me...xoxo

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    2. I'm not familiar with this, but it's definitely going on my list, Debs. I love Nicola Walker, too.

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    3. We’re hooked on Nicola Walker. Give it another chance Hank?

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  20. I will be mourning the loss of ONCE UPON A TIME here in a few weeks. Even though this season hasn't been up to par, I've been a huge fan for a long time.

    A new show I've been enjoying is DECEPTION about a magician helping the FBI on cases. There's a plot about his twin brother being framed for murder and a huge conspiracy, too. It's a light show, and I don't see if lasting more than two or three seasons (especially since the ratings are already poor), but I'm really enjoying it for what it is.

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    1. I binge watched the first few seasons of it - I gave up when Hook went to Hell. Loved, loved, loved it!

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  21. My TV watching is confined to what I can get in DVD. Right now I'm in the middle of Season Six of Blue Bloods. When I visited relatives over the Easter holiday I watched some more recent episodes. I don't like all of the main characters, but I attribute that to their good acting!

    I'm watching the final season of Major Crimes and have just two episodes left.

    When I want to relax and unwind and am not in the mood to read, I rewatch favorite episodes of various different detective programs. There are probably many episodes of The Closer and Major Crimes that I have committed to memory!

    DebRo

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    1. Oh, Deb. Major Crimes. The last few episodes were good, but tough.

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  22. Ingrid, what a wonderful post! I love Striking Out on Acorn TV. I got Acorn TV so we could watch Still Life, based on a novel by Louise Penny. I like Delicious, though some people did not like it. I get to watch Poirot movies that I never saw before.

    Hallie, the Britbox is so worth it if you love British shows. I got to see Blackadder, which I saw when I lived in England, and Cadafel.

    Rhys, I love PBS too. I loved Victoria too, though some people are not fans of the show. A bit of interesting trivia here. The actor who played Doctor Who and the actress who played his companion Clara are in two different programmes in the roles of royals. The Doctor Who actor played Prince Philip in the Crown. The companion actress plays Queen Victoria in Victoria. I can tell that the actress is wearing blue eye color contacts when she plays Victoria.

    There are so many wonderful British shows that I love. I got Netflix so I could watch the Crown. I got Acorn TV so I could watch Still Life. And I got Britbox so I could watch more British shows. Except for one subscription, all cost less than $10 a month.

    Diana

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  23. Handmaid's Tale on Hulu is dystopian, horrifying, and riveting. Season 2 just started. One thing about all this great TV - unless you have boundless amounts of time you could watch TV all day and do nothing else. So I find I have to be ruthless. Show is not amazing after 2 episodes - move on to the next. The NY Times has a great daily newsletter that comes up with new (and old) suggestions. Great place for ideas and steering criticism. https://www.nytimes.com/watching/

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    1. That's a great newsletter, John. They recently suggested "Four Seasons in Havana," which is now on my list!

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    2. Glad you like it too. I almost forgot to mention the article I wrote on this topic for Topretirements.com - Movies (mostly) and TV shows about retirement. https://www.topretirements.com/blog/general-retirement/our-10-top-movies-about-retirement.html/

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  24. Coming in belatedly to thank everyone for their kind words yesterday. I'm still floating!

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  25. Fortitude - thanks for the recommendation, Julia! You had me at Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon.

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    1. Fortitude looks great! Thanks, Julia!

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    2. I think Fortitude is on Amazon Prime?

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  26. Here's my problem with the shows I'm most interested in. I want to read the books before I watch the shows with Vera, Shetland, and The Handmaid's Tale. Yes, I am one of the few people in the world who hasn't yet read The Handmaid's Tale. I plan to rectify that embarrassment soon. And, all I need is a couple of months where no new books come out to read the Vera and Shetland series, and I'll add in the Ian Rankin books. But, hopefully I'll start catching up.

    I have watched The Crown and loved it. That show led me to a non-fiction book I'm reading (slowly) at present, Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City by Kate Winkler Dawson. There was an episode on The Crown about this 1952 five-day fog that was responsible for the deaths of 12,000 people. So, I'm looking forward to the next season of The Crown.

    I'm a fan of Broadchurch with David Tennant. On the lighter side, I have always loved Doc Martin, and I thought there was supposed to be yet another season, but it hasn't materialized yet. Outlander is dear to my heart, as I've read all the books and been a fan of the book series for ages (have a funny story about a friend and I attending a Diana Gabaldon signing and talk). The screen version of Outlander is so well done. And, I've been with The Walking Dead since the beginning. My husband and I share this interest. However, the spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, is just awful, IMHO. Hubby and I also loved Godless, a one season show. Another one along those lines was Hell on Wheels, where I thought the history of the railroad was fascinating. My daughter and her teen kept talking about Stranger Things, and I finally binge watched it last fall and loved it. Grantchester is another favorite, and I swear it's not just because I want to see James Norton in a scene without his shirt.

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    1. Kathy, I've not read "The Handmaid's Tale" either, and I have to admit that I don't feel very compelled to at the moment. I think it will stress me out.

      You have to share the funny Diana Gabaldon story now that you've piqued our interest!

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    2. It was just a trip of mishaps, starting with sitting in the front and still not understanding much of all that Diana said. I'd laugh because others were laughing, and my friend, who was also having trouble making out what was said, would ask me what Diana had said and I'd reply I didn't know. We'd laugh again and I'd ask my friend what was said, but she didn't know. Then, we got our books signed and a picture with Diana. When we were finished, we both looked at what was written, and neither one of us could make it out. On the way back to Shakertown (about 20 or 30 miles from event in Lexington, KY), where we were staying, it was pouring rain, and, of course, we got lost on the backroads. The rain was coming down as if a spout had opened up just on my windshield. It was indeed a dark and stormy night. Instead of being concerned, we about peed our pants laughing. We finally got back to Shakertown, where we trudged through high water to our building, main building. We woke up the next morning and within five minutes, the electricity went out. We grabbed clothes on and flew down to the dining room where the last bit of warm coffee was being served. It was a great trip!

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  27. Like most others here, my watching is mostly British. Love VERA, and have been a fan of MIDSOMER for so long that I have most of the John Nettles ones on DVD, from back when that's what you had to do to get them. I also really enjoyed the New Zealand procedural BROKENWOOD, which is on Acorn. On BritBox, the new MAIGRET with Rowan Atkinson is wonderful. Also enjoy DEATH IN PARADISE (lighter fare), DR. BLAKE MYSTERIES, and the Canadian MURDOCH (light hearted and historical, though I think it takes a lot of liberties.) One new broadcast show this year that has caught our fancy is INSTINCT, with Alan Cumming. Only a few episodes have aired, so who knows if the quality will remain high, but we have liked it thus far.

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    1. "Brokenwood" looks good, Susan! Thanks for the suggestion!

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    2. Susan, did you read about how Instinct basically totally ripped off an episode of Bones (I mean blatantly ripped it off) and got called out for it?

      I saw the first episode of the show but wasn't moved enough to want to keep watching.

      I am looking forward to the return of Elementary tonight in what will likely be its last season.

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    3. No, Jay, I missed that! I'll have to look it up.

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  28. well I don't watch anything on "TV" except CBS Sunday Morning with my mother while we crunch toast before going to church. I get lots of DVDs from our lovely library, and watch other series' on Netflix. Just finished The Last Ship season 3, currently finishing up Inspector Lindley season 2, and I am a huge Midsummer Murder fan (watched all 19 seasons). I concur with everyone that The Crown is great, also I like Victoria a lot. Just finished up watching Major Crimes series finale and sad that it is over. Also just finished up the series "Grimm" which I loved the characters on that show. I enjoy many British crime dramas but seem to have run out of them so awaiting new ones - in the mean time I am re-watching all Tom Cruise movies!

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  29. I don't own a TV. Rather not a working TV. An old large analog set collects dust and takes up space in my bedroom. When we moved into this apartment complex almost 8 years ago, Comcast didn't turn off the Basic Cable feed. I would binge-watch Law and Order SVU reruns. Nothing else. Well, they cut the signal off a week before the Super Bowl. So, we don't watch TV. I've neither the money or time to watch TV. However, now with smart phones, tablets, even my old hand-me-down laptop, one can watch all sorts of stuff to your heart's content.
    As a pensioner, I like to get stuff from the library. One treasure I found there was THE KNICK. It's about a fictional hospital in Manhattan called the Knickerbocker at the turn of the 20th century. For historical fiction it is marvelous. I think they only did two seasons but the storytelling was great. (I now understand why my grandmother, so many years ago, was so afraid to go to a hospital. People went there to die.)

    A PLACE TO CALL HOME was an Australian soap opera set in the aftermath of WWII. Perhaps a little too dramatic with almost comic book heroes and villains but it kept my attention. I was sad that they ended it after three or four seasons. Both of these I found in the library as DVDs that I can play on my laptop.

    Our library has come into the twenty-first century. They now contract with a few online services from which you can borrow ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies, and television. The go-to app for movies and television. Not the largest catalog, compared to Netflix etc. but some good finds. My latest find is an Italian show that I mentioned above today, Detective Montalbano. The protagonist runs a detective squad of seven or eight detectives who investigate and solve murders. The uniformed policeman (maybe one or two policewomen) are, except for the desk sergeant, all mostly in the background. The episodes approach 2 hours long. It is in Italian with subtitles. You wouldn't think that such a small municipality would have so many murders but every week the squad has plenty to do. Montalbano has a long-running romance at a distance with a woman in Palermo. A lot of times, they are talking on the phone. When they are with each other they often fight or argue. He is often wining and dining other women acquaintances, suspects and friends. All of the other characters have their idiosyncrasies which keeps the tone generally light or even comic. They merchandise it as one season with 28 episodes. Although not noticeable the timeline runs for more than ten years. I have yet to finish a few of the episodes that I didn't get to complete before my loan time ran out. Hoopla limits you to ten loans of any kind a month. There is a prequel which I haven't touched yet.

    Speaking of prequels; in looking up some stuff for this post I have just noticed that PRIME SUSPECT, the Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) series, now has a prequel series. I may try and find that somewhere.

    Looking at my Hoopla history over the past year or so, I am troubled that I don't remember most of them. I don't really mind watching TV, films or reading books, a second time. However, I really need to start writing some things down in black and white.

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    1. Detective Montalbano sounds like one to put on my TBW list, David. I've also heard very good things about "The Knick". Too many things to watch! ;)

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  30. I am hooked on Vera starring Brenda Blethyn, who was an absolute delight at Malice, this past weekend.

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  31. I love the new Fox show, The Resident. Watching as an RN, I love the way it handles the business of medicine that viewers--and patients--don't usually know about. But also is a fun show thanks to the cast.

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    1. The Resident is my favorite guilty pleasure since it premiered!

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  32. One word 'Billions' - smart, savvy and always interesting

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  33. BritBox is great. I didn't really want another online streaming service, but I've been looking for Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe" series for years and they have it. And now I've discovered so many other great British dramas, mysteries and comedies on there as well that I don't regret signing up at all. Have any of you seen "Girlfriends" on Acorn? It's terrific fun about three middle-aged women who've been friends since they were teens and are now going through all kinds of personal trauma. Phyllis Logan, Miranda Richardson and Zoe Wanamaker are all wonderful and hilarious.

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    1. I got Acorn first and then gave in to Britbox. I'm glad I did, and now I need to check out "Sharpe" and "Girlfriends"!

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