Category Archives: TV shows

Word Girl and the Neighbor Kids

I wrote last September about how my neighbor kids enjoy staring through the floor level windows of my basement apartment at me sitting on the couch. Eventually, my sedentary lifestyle must have palled on them (or school started) and they quit coming around. However, with summer months here and the windows wide open, I have once again gained my small audience.

This time, however, at a very specific time: 8:30 PM.

Bethany and I watch Word Girl on PBS at 8:30 during the week days. The neighbor kids are big fans of Word Girl. Even if we close the blinds, it is too stuffy to shut the windows, so they lurk near the window.

At first it was accidental. Their mothers chased them outside and they were standing by the door whining to be allowed back in. The TV show began and suddenly we heard their surprised exclamations as they recognized the opening notes of the show. Then muttered shhhhhs.

The next day it was only one or two kids by the door, but they hovered with silent intentionality.

Yesterday they played nearby but kept a solemn eye on me.

I haven’t seen them today yet, but we shall see if they remember.


Bob Ross

Bethany has made it her personal mission to introduce me to Bob Ross. (She looks over my shoulder protests that I’m exaggerating.) Okay, so maybe not a personal mission. But she has definitely introduced me to the show (what else is there to watch at 10:41 PM? I need to go to bed) and it is so wholesome! 

His talent is incredible. I look away and then bam. Stunning scenery in only a few brush strokes. 

I now understand her generation’s weird fixation with happy little trees. 


Some More Thoughts on Sanditon

Well, PBS Masterpiece officially aired the last episode of Sanditon tonight. What a journey it has been. If you’ve kept watching, you’ve probably found a way to divorce the story from your beloved Jane Austen’s works. Or perhaps you think she’d like this adaption. 

I am not sure how I feel about it. 

I knew going in how it ended so I was braced for the less than Austen-like ending. I was pleasantly surprised with how it worked out for a few side characters. And no spoilers but…Bethany in particular was invested in the Lord Babington story line. (She says he ranks just below Mr. Tilney for best Austen guy. Mr. Tilney!) 

I will say the Babington story line did redeem a lot of the more unlikable characters. I’m still not sold on Sidney Parker–the supposed hero. He is still something of an ass. 

I’m curious enough that I would watch another season if they made it. But much to Bethany’s chagrin, I’m still refusing to sign the petition for one. 


Howards End

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Bethany and I finished Howards End. Mixed feelings…but mostly satisfaction. I think we both enjoyed it. It helped that we were predisposed towards Mr Darcy’s (I mean, Matthew Macfadyen’s) character. The ending perhaps felt perhaps a little rushed. But it was satisfying. 

At any rate, I bought us each a copy of the novel written in 1910 so we shall see if the book is as good! Grab a copy at your local Half Priced Books and join us! (Barnes and Noble did not carry it, much to our disgust.) 

Also, happy palindrome day! 02-02-2020 reads the same backwards and forwards! (Oh, and I guess happy super bowl day or however you celebrate it.) 


Agatha Raisin

I read the first (and half of the second) Agatha Raisin book and generally enjoyed it but did not find it super remarkable. The TV series based on the books, though? Absolutely fabulous. My Mom and I watched all the episodes over Christmas break. 

The story follows a very successful career woman who decides to take early retirement and move to a quiet English village. But life does not stay quiet…people around the village have a habit of turning up murdered. 

There is a great collection of side characters and the show really isn’t afraid to murder-off important ones. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope they continue to make more episodes. 


BBC’s Sanditon

With three episodes now on PBS, BBC’s new mini-series finishing Jane Austen’s Sanditon has officially made its debut in the United States and the result has been…explosive. 

For those of you who do not belong to half a dozen Facebook pages devoted to Jane Austen, the story goes something like this: Jane Austen began working on the novel in 1817, wrote 11 chapters, and then died. Though family members hinted at its existence, the actual text wasn’t released to the general public till 1925. If Wikipedia is to be believed, at least 9 different authors have since “finished” the story, including the creators of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (SO THAT IS WHAT THAT YOUTUBE SERIES WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT.)

Enter BBC. Not only do they decide to make a mini-series finishing Sanditon, they hire screenwriter Andrew Davies who is most famous (at least in the Austen world) for the BBC Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth. (Aka, lake-jumping-wet-shirt Mr. Darcy.)

Fans are ecstatic. We’re getting more Jane Austen, we’re getting new Jane Austen, we’re getting a beloved Jane Austen adapter. What could go wrong? Well…

Rumors begin circulating about certain liberties being taken with the plot. Andrew Davies says he wants to connect with modern viewers and tackle social issues. The appearance of a black heiress (actually in Austen’s original manuscript) got people excited about more representation. But then there is also hints of nudity and sex and the Austen community went….wait, what?! 

It airs in England in 2019. And England revolts. I’m sure some fans enjoyed it but those of us on the other side of the pond were told not to get our hopes up. And then there was the ending after 8 episodes which (no spoilers) did not thrill people. Andrew Davies says a second season will likely depend on how America reacts to it. 

It released in the United States via PBS roughly two weeks ago. Yesterday we got episode 3. 

I don’t know what official pollsters are finding but here is what the posts on the Jane Austen groups I belong to look like:

View 1: BBC’s Sanditon is the BEST THING EVER MADE. Jane would love it. There has never been anything so glorious since Collin Firth’s lake scene in Pride and Prejudice. Lovely to get some new stories.

View 2: BBC’s Sanditon is the WORST THING EVER MADE. Jane Austen is turning in her grave. How DARE they add nudity to Austen? THE SHADES OF PEMBERLY HAVE BEEN POLLUTED. 

View 3: Who cares?! We get more hot Austen men!

And then there are all the poor moderators begging people to keep the noise down and agree to disagree because up until this point the greatest controversy facing Janeites has been whether Collin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen makes a better Mr. Darcy and so the moderators are just not equipped for this level mass hysteria. 

MY VIEWS

I’ve tried to keep an open mind and keep my expectations low going into Sanditon. Obviously, there are still 5 episodes to go so I will post “final thoughts” once I’ve seen them all. I was unimpressed with the first two episodes. I do think the third one was better. 

While I lean toward the negative views about the series, I do understand why some people enjoy it. Jane Austen would probably roll in her grave with all the nudity, politics, and implied incest now permeating her story. At the same time, I love anything to do with the Regency era and even a bad rendition is in some ways better than no rendition. 

The only view I entirely do not agree with is the third one lauding the new Austen hero, because the tall, dark, and brooding Mr. Parker is a complete ass. Bethany and I have spent most of the show so far baffled by his horrible behavior and calling him rude names. Nothing about him charms. He is the anti-Mr. Tilney. If his character doesn’t shape up soon, I don’t know how this story redeems itself. 

 

So, have you seen Sanditon? What are your thoughts? The first few episodes are available on PBS for 6 more days so do check them out: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/sanditon/episodes/

While there, check out Howard’s End. It stars Matthew Macfadyen and Bethany and I are enjoying it way more than Sanditon. We suspect his character might prove villainous, but since we love him as Mr. Darcy, we’re hardcore shipping him with one of the heroines. (And I know it came out in 2017 so NO SPOILERS if you have already seen it or read the book.) 


Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries

I’ve been a fan of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries for years so when I saw they were making a spin-off TV show set in the ’60s about her niece, I knew I had to watch it! 

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It does not disappoint. Peregrine Fisher might lack some of her aunt’s polish, but she makes up for it with pizzazz. Joining her is Detective James Steed and the members of the “Adventuresses’ Club.”

The “Adventuresses’ Club” lacks some development (despite many members, only 3 people play a relevant role at any given time) and Detective James Steed is no Detective Jack Robinson (but then again, who is?). Despite this, the show is engaging and the mysteries varied and interested. I definitely recommend giving it a shot if you enjoy Miss Fisher. 

I only hope there will be more than 4 episodes! 


Wrap Battle

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My sister got me hooked on this TV show: Wrap Battle. 

Basically, a bunch of people wrap different gifts under a time constraint and get eliminated one by one until only one wrapper remains! 

Now my idea of gift wrapping is to use so much wrapping paper it looks like a pillow. 

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But these people are seriously obsessive and detailed and I quickly got sucked into the drama. Wrapping paper! Who would think!


Acorn TV

I’ve been playing around with getting Acorn TV all semester and finally decided to get it now that I have a few weeks off. Acorn is a streaming service akin to Netflix but specializing in British TV shows with a few others from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

I primarily got it because I wanted to watch Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries and Agatha Raisin (both in a round about way based on books.) 

The episodes of each show run about an hour and a half–called telemovies, according to Wikipedia. 

I’m cautiously excited. The shows have lived up to my expectations so far. Once I’m more than an episode into each I will write a more thorough blog post on each. There are a few other shows that also immediately caught my eye and many are based off of Agatha Christie characters or books which I am looking forward to.

So far, I think, the length might be the biggest drawback as it is challenging to binge watch. But, since there are only 4 episodes for example in Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, it also means getting through all the available content fast. 

The interface also isn’t super friendly. It took me a while to figure out how to search things. I’m hoping I will get used to it quickly. 

Otherwise, some possibility!


Stars Falling From the Sky

Two years ago, I put together a list of my favorite k dramas. The list is fairly out of date and I really should put together a new one soon. However, there is one drama on there that has stayed my favorite despite an influx of really excellent shows lately.  It is Stars Falling From the Sky. 

When a self-absorbed, 25-year old woman finds herself the sole guardian of five, adopted younger siblings, her world flips upside down. With no money and no place to live, she takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for her long term crush and hides the kids in his basement. Chaos ensues…

I rarely finish the k dramas I start, much less re-watch them, but I just finished watching this drama for the third time through. I found it as endearing as ever. This just might be my favorite drama. However, I do not think it is a drama most people will like. Filmed in 2010, it lacks the polish of more recent shows. The characters spend over half their time drinking or crying. The usual k drama stereotypes are all present, including the love triangle/square thing, and everyone is in a constant state of angst

Everyone, that is, except the heroine. She doesn’t have time for angst. She is trying to feed and house five siblings. Her character arc is incredible. I love her affection for her siblings. She isn’t the only one with that arc, though. Re-watching this drama, I was struck by the fact that for a “romantic” drama, the real love goes to the siblings. There is an interesting contract between the characters with siblings (even just one), and those who are only children. Maybe because it is so rare to find big families or sibling love as the focus of pop culture, this story line really appeals to me. 

The romance in this drama used to throw me off. Spoilers in this paragraph. The couple finally gets together in the second to last episode. In the last episode, the hero proposes…and gets turned down. This is not an uncommon move in k dramas. Usually the previously weak willed heroine then goes off for two years only to return within the last five minutes of the episode for an inconclusive reunion scene. (Thankfully this trend is less predominant in recent dramas.) However, the heroine in Stars Falling From the Sky is hardly weak willed. She doesn’t disappear. She is as determined as ever to provide for her siblings. In this sense, while the last episode is full of dramatic kidnappings and shocking discoveries, it provides a level of realism. Not everything becomes perfect because you’ve found a man and he proposes. In this last episode, we get to see the heroine standing on her own two feet while also learning to rely on the man who loves her. It isn’t Disney ending, but it is a satisfying one I appreciate more now that I am older. 

Like I said earlier, I don’t expect most people to enjoy this drama nearly as much as I do. However, it was a pleasant surprise to re-watch it and discover I like it even more than I remembered!