Category Archives: TV

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….

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2019 Cookery Project — Easter Lunch

Easter Lunch

Easter Lunch

A full plate. It’s a holiday!

Clockwise from the top, we have rosemary roasted onions, made with garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and rosemary, then sliced leg of lamb, with more garlic and more rosemary. There’s a dab of store-bought mint jelly at six o’clock.

The star of the show was the serving of Brussels sprouts with onion and crumbled bacon.

Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something. for the onions.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file. for the Brussels sprouts.


Lamb to the Slaughter

This seems an appropriate place for a certain memorable video.

From 1955 through 1962, Alfred Hitchcock hosted a television anthology series called Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitchcock only directed 17 of the 268 episodes—in those days, a television season could run to 40 weekly episodes—but he hosted all of them, displaying the famous Hitchcock dark humour during his introduction and closing comments to each show, and mildly trolling his advertisers before the mid-show commercials. His appearances were sometimes the best part of the episodes.

Here’s one of the classic Alfred Hitchcock Presents stories, written by Roald Dahl, starring an absolutely-perfect-in-the-part Barbara Bel Geddes, and directed by A. Hitchcock himself. It’s called Lamb to the Slaughter.

Florence + the Machine — “Jenny of Oldstones”

Here’s Florence + the Machine’s full-length version of “Jenny of Oldstones”, the song that played during the end credits of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, Sunday night’s somber episode of Game of Thrones. The opening lyrics are by George R. R. Martin.

Spoilers, if you haven’t yet seen S08 E02. But of course you have, by now.

Brienne of Tarth

Brienne of Tarth

Jared Leto Is 47 Years Old

He posted this picture to his Instagram account last week.

And somewhere in a locked room, a portrait of Jordan Catalano has aged terribly.


My So-Called Life
It Gets My Vote as the Best Pre-Golden Age Television Drama Series

My So-Called Life was the Skam of its day. It ran for one 19-episode season way back in 1994-1995, and it was one of the first television shows to develop a passionate online following in those early years of the Internet. Claire Danes starred as Angela Chase and Jared Leto played Jordan Catalano.

The Game‘s Afoot, and It’s Almost Too Much of a Great Thing

In case you haven’t heard, Game of Thrones returned to HBO last night with another awe-inducing episode, after an absence of almost two years. The first of the six episodes that make up the final season moved most of the human (and other) chess pieces to their correct places on the board.

Here’s the new Game of Thrones opener, which has already been analysed to death by easy-to-find online fanboys:

So once again, with Killing Eve at 8 PM followed by Game of Thrones an hour later, Sunday in the US has become Must See TV night, as it was during the reigns of Deadwood and Mad Men and Breaking Bad and The Wire and The Sopranos.*

But it’s too much.

Killing Eve, the best new show of 2018, returned for a second season just as quirky and delightful as it was last year. Game of Thrones, the most popular television series in the world, is simply unmissable. The problem is that the two great shows are painfully incompatible. In theme, tone, writing, acting styles, and general sensibility, they share nothing.

I watched them both in their regular time slots last night, and realized almost at once that it was a mistake. You can’t make the jump from contemporary London and Paris to quasi-Tudor Britain-with-Dragons without dislocating something vital. Difficult though it is, from now on I’ll watch one of them when it airs, and the other a day or two later.

Now I only have to decide which to watch first.


*Loved Deadwood, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. Thought The Wire and The Sopranos were both overrated.

After Killing Eve — Witches and Vampires and Demons, Oh, My!

Immediately following  tonight’s season premiere of Killing Eve, BBC America will screen the first episode of the well-reviewed British supernatural series A Discovery of Witches, based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The first eight episodes ran in the UK last Fall, and the series has been renewed for two more seasons.

I’m liking the rich Venice and Oxford settings, which are a long way from Sookie Stackhouse’s Bon Temps, Louisiana.