Category Archives: TV

An Extract from Margaret Atwood’s Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale

The Guardian has posted a lengthy extract from The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.

“Set more than 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s Booker Prize-shortlisted sequel revisits her dystopian republic Gilead”

You can read it here.

The official release date for The Testaments is 10 September 2019, but Amazon “accidentally” broke the embargo by shipping 800 copies of the book early. Indy bookstore owners were not amused, and The Guardian has that story as well.

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The Return of Jesse Pinkman

Confirmed at last!

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie written and directed by Vince Gilligan, will premiere on Netflix on 11 October 2019.

Here’s the first trailer:

The promo is set in the offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and if you look closely, you’ll see framed photographs of DEA agents Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez on the office wall. Inside, low-level meth dealer (and surprisingly talented keyboard player) Skinny Pete is being interrogated by DEA agents about the location of Jesse Pinkman. He graciously declines to cooperate.

Netflix reportedly did not plan to announce the movie this early, but leaks, including a fake web page for El Camino, started showing up on Reddit yesterday, forcing the company’s hand.

Aaron Paul returns as Jesse, There’s no word yet about which, if any, of the other Breaking Bad cast members will appear in the movie. That probably depends on Vince Gilligan’s use of flashbacks, since so many of Breaking Bad’s characters wound up dead.

I’ve already cleared my calendar for Friday, 11 October 2019.

Here’s the poster:

The Crown — Series Three Date Announcement

I dunno.

Is Olivia Colman up to playing a British Queen? I thought Helen Mirren had the right of first refusal for all movie roles based on female British monarchs.

The Crown returns to Netflix, but not until 17 November 2019. Olivia Colman, winner of this year’s the Academy Award for Best Actress* for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite replaces Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II.


* And the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

90210 Revisited

I missed it!

I lost track of time and completely forgot that tonight was the premiere of Fox’s BH90210 miniseries. Even worse, I can’t find the show playing on any of my video-on-demand accounts, as if it’s, I don’t know, 1990 or something, so I’ll have no idea what happened in the first episode unless I can find somebody who videotaped it. Hope they have VHS.

But having no idea what I’m talking about has never stopped me from posting here in the past, so what follows are my thoughts on the Return to 90210.

As I’ve previously written, I’ve always blamed Beverly Hills, 90210 and the even more horrendous Saved by the Bell for making the Millenials the way they are. Those two shows were originally broadcast at the exact point in time when gullible young Millenials—and are there any other kind?—were in search of role models, and at their most suggestible.

It’s no coincidence that the Peach Pit’s specialty of the house was avocado toast.

But enough about the past.

Unfortunately, the new version of 90210 is without the one actor who held the original show together. I’m referring, of course, to Joe E. Tata,* aka Nat Bussichio, the owner and operator of the Peach Pit.

You probably thought I was referring to someone else. And you’d have a point: Where is Tiffani-Amber Thiessen? I wouldn’t be surprised if someone made a surprise guest appearance in a later episode. Maybe she’ll bring Screech along for a visit.

And what about Carly Reynolds, played by Hilary Swank, who was reportedly dropped from the show because her performance wasn’t up to 90210 standards? I haven’t heard much about her since she left the show, and I’ve always wondered what became of her. Did she ever do any more acting?

Also MIA,  Jim and Cindy Walsh, who are probably still in Hong Kong, leading the demonstrations against the oppressors on the mainland.

Anyhow, since I missed the first episode, I have no idea whether the producers used the plot outline I’d submitted for their consideration.

In my version, which may have been slightly influenced by the fact that I’d recently binged on 16 slasher movies on Netflix, we discover that Scott Scanlon, David’s friend in the first season, survived his famous gun accident, but was left horribly disfigured, and was sent to a Mexican sanatorium by his guilt-ridden parents. While there, he met two other patients undergoing court-ordered therapy: Dylan’s deranged stalker, Emily Valentine, and the embittered and violent Ray Pruit, Donna’s abusive ex-boyfriend. The three of them escape together and hide out in the attic of the Peach Pit, where they plot revenge and design scary facemasks. One by one, the main BH90210 characters meet grisly fates, until there’s no one left except for The Last Girl….

It’s gotta be Shannen Doherty, right?

I mean, who else stands a chance. Not Brian Austin Green. Not The Ziering, that’s for sure.

if you saw the premiere, I’d love to hear from you about how close I came to the final product.


*If Tori Spelling had married Joe E. Tata, she’d be Tori Tata. If Tiffani-Amber Thiessen had married Joe E. Tata, she’d be T.A.T. Tata.

Years and Years — Highest Recommendation

Just watched the sixth and final episode of Years and Years on HBO, and what a thrill ride that turned out to be!

The series follows the multi-generational, diverse Lyons family of Manchester, England, through the next 15 years, as technology keeps getting better, while life keeps getting worse. At the same time, it charts the rise of the populist demagogue Vivian Rook, played brilliantly by Emma Thompson as a cross between “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher and a much smarter version of “Short-Fingered Vulgarian” Donald Trump.

Stand-outs, in addition to Thompson, are Russell Tovey as Daniel Lyons and Anne Reid as Muriel Deacon, the Lyons family matriarch. Reid’s monologue in the final episode will probably win her a BAFTA award next year.

Here’s the original BBC One trailer:

And here’s the one from HBO:

Years and Years was a huge hit in the UK, where it got rave reviews across the board.

I’m posting only one tiny spoiler beyond what’s in the trailers: In the final episode, the recounting of the fate of two famous buildings made me laugh out loud.

You gotta watch it yourself.

Another Highest Recommendation.

After The Flood—An Update

It’s been a while. Anybody still out there?

Regular postings will resume in the next few days. What follows here is a brief rundown on why I’ve been hors de combat since Memorial Day. It isn’t very pretty, and you may just want to skip this entry and wait for the new posts.


Summer of 2019 has not been anything close to the most wonderful summer of my life. In fact, I’d probably rank it near the bottom three, only slightly higher than the summer I spent in a Bulgarian prison (mistaken identity), the summer I got lost on the Appalachian trail and had to survive on berries and mushrooms for six weeks, or the summer when that Abercrombie and Fitch model kept calling me and emailing me and stalking me until I finally got the restraining order. (Actually, that one was rather fun.)

The season had started with such high hopes and great expectations! In late May I returned to Washington from a couple of weeks in gloomy and glorious Budapest,* restored, revitalized, and ready to live a much richer and more, well, elegant life. Think Gerald and Sara Murphy in Paris and on the French Riviera in the 1920s.**

The first warning signs came during an otherwise delightful visit by my Nevada brother and sister-in-law, when my long-standing pulmonary problems started to act up. I knew from experience that this meant I was in the early stages of a two- to four-weeks of low-level morbidity, marked by fatigue, marathon coughing sessions, and general yuckiness. And then The Flood happened.

Here’s where things get serious.

I wasn’t aware of it until later, but the whole mess—illness and injury, loss of autonomy and privacy, property damage and disruption of plans, and general uncertainty—left me seriously depressed and effectively paralyzed, unable to do much more than sleep, play online games, and watch immediately forgettable junk TV.  I stopped returning phone calls and answering email. My big project for the year, improving my cooking skills? Abandoned. I had no desire to be in my post-Flood, chaotically disarranged kitchen, and no interest in exploring new restaurants. I survived on deli take-out and on great quantities of Diet Cherry Pepsi.

It was only just before Bastille Day, six weeks post-Flood, that I (metaphorically) slapped myself in the face and told myself that I couldn’t continue to live the way I’d been living, that the numbness began to diminish. I turned off the TV in the middle of an episode of Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away and made reservations at regular hang-out ARTECHOUSE and at a couple of good restaurants. Not only would I get out of bed and dressed before 2 PM, but I would also actually leave the apartment!

And I did.

So while things here are still ugly—restoration of my condo and of the ~30 other units damaged by The Flood may not even be completed before the end of 2019—it seems life is finally, slowly, back on the upswing.

I’ll be spending the rest of my Unwonderful Summer posting here, dining out, and re-reading Living Well Is the Best Revenge and Tender Is the Night.


*It was my fourth visit to that endlessly fascinating city, my third in 18 months. I’ve told people that entitles me to honourary citizenship, but I may have been misinformed.

**See Living Well Is the Best Revenge.

New Tales of the City

“When I first got off the bus years ago, I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
—Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton in Tales of the City

Oh, yes, Mary Ann, in this you are not unique. The first time I was in San Francisco, I had exactly the same feeling.*

And now, thanks to Netflix, we’re going home again.

“inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.”

Tales of the City had its start as a three-times-a-week serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Author Armistead Maupin mixed real and (mainly) fictional characters to capture the essence of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Maupin succeeded in doing for The City what Tom Wolfe failed to do for New York in Bonfire of the Vanities, probably the most overrated novel of the late 20th century. The column became must-read material, and a cult was born.

The first novelization of the serial was published in 1978, followed by five more volumes published at two-year intervals, with three more books released after a 20-year gap.

In 1993, Channel 4 (UK) turned the first book into a superb miniseries, which was shown on PBS in the US in early 1994. Here’s the trailer:

Good news! That original series is currently streaming on Acorn.

The new series will be released on Netflix on 7  June  2019.


Bonus Track

The great Laura Linney makes an uncredited appearance in this video for the also-great Aimee Mann. Watch closely, and see if you can spot her.


* Granted, I also had exactly the same feeling the first time I was in London, and the first time I was in Paris. Never had it in my own hometown,  though, for some reason….