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Single Parents (2018)
Kooky charm and great young actors - give it a try
It's saying something that this is the only one of the boatload of new tv series launched in the fall of 2018 that we continue to watch ( and it continues to grow on us with each passing episode ). It is both charming and sufficiently off-kilter to keep us coming back even though we are neither single nor parents. It has a great cast all around ( where on earth did they find these kids? ) and we especially look forward to the very special lunacy of the Fogerty family ( Brad Garrett and the Allan twins ).
The Ref (1994)
Hands Down our Favourite Dark Christmas Classic
No Christmas would be complete without a viewing of The Ref, alongside our other fave, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It features the wonderfully matched sniping of Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis as the couple on the rocks who ultimately learn to come together with the aid of the put-upon criminal ( a wonderful Denis Leary ) who is by far the sanest of the lot. Set this in the weirdly Disneyesque beauty of Niagara-on-the-Lake at Christmas ( yes it really looks like that ), throw in one of the best rants ever delivered in a movie, and you have a near perfect sugar-free Christmas classic. Careful though, it is addictive.
Terrible Title but Great Show
In spite of the horrid title I am growing ever fonder of this little gem of a show with each passing episode. Based on the title and the marketing I feared that this show would embrace those with their heads so surgically attached to a little glowing screen that they wouldn't even notice their own imminent demise. However this show cleverly winnows out both the pluses and minuses of SMOD ( social media obsession disorder - I'm just making that up but if you want to tweet it knock yourself out ) for this very unique take on Pygmalion. The leads are solid (who would have thought John Cho would be right for this but he just is) and at episode 4 the strength of the supporting cast is beginning to emerge. And it is funny. I love the rapid fire swipes at meme-du-jour sprinkled in each episode but now as the characters and situations become more a little more complex, it is truly becoming laugh out loud funny. Yep, out loud. Do yourself a favour and watch it.
Getting On (2013)
HBO gets it right
Just when I thought that HBO was beyond help, they finally get one right by largely leaving things alone. Having watched and thoroughly enjoyed many episodes of the British original with the wonderful Jo Brand ( one of the series creators and executive producers )in the lead role, I was very impressed by how much HBO has captured the spirit and quirkiness of this series. I think HBO has wisely kept the starkness of what the patient experience is, and perhaps given the show more room to fly by making it a teeny bit more gritty in terms of language and mature content. At first I was a little baffled by the American casting, but at only four episodes in they've done a great job of setting the stage without yet exhausting the overwhelming idiotic bureaucracy the staff alternately endure and wield like a weapon. So I'll give the show time to grow and capture the flip side - the patient interaction and the audience's need to connect with and root for the one mostly sane staffer.
The Neighbors (2012)
Gem of a Show
Neighbors is a truly enjoyable sitcom with heart and a great cast, including breakout star Toks Olagundoye. We can't imagine life without "Jackie Joyner Kersee" now that we've met her, and sincerely hope this show gets renewed for another season ( or more! ). Not that there was anything wrong in the beginning, but the series has steadily gotten better all season long and we love the unlikely bonds forming between the characters and the show's ability to poke fun at itself. The young actors are all very unusual but they are really beginning to click now as well. And I'm sure there's endless opportunities to build given the large number of 'neighbors' we haven't really met. Carry on please Zavronians and Weavers!
A solid entertaining crime series well worth your time
The unusual character of Saga absolutely makes what would otherwise be a superior crime drama all that much more special. Even through the veil of English subtitling that frequently left us bemused or scratching our heads, and very solid work by all of the cast and writers, it was Saga that often left us howling with laughter even in the midst of the most gruesome circumstances, and left us eager for the next episode. I was surprised to see that some other reviewers either didn't 'get' that Saga has Aspergers, or thought that Sofia Helin's performance was poor. Perhaps we had an advantage in having seen just enough of Sofia's other work to know right away that her portrayal of Saga was very deliberate. If you're looking for a taut, intriguing and often very amusing murder mystery, this is well worth your time. Superb.
This has crisp writing, excellent performances; in short it's thoroughly enjoyable and I'm so glad I managed to catch it before it disappeared. I should have realized that anything NBC tried to bury in their schedule with absolutely no promotion would be vastly superior to any of their other freshmen comedies that made it onto the main schedule (Free Agents, Whitney - are you kidding, and while I love Christina Applegate let's not kid ourselves that Up All Night is a worthy successor to Samatha Who ). Shame on NBC for not promoting this and if you had a clue ( but we know you don't ) you'd slot this in after the Voice or at least *mention* it when people are actually watching your network.
Bad Girls (1999)
Exceptional TV Series
This is a wonderful gritty, raunchy series set in a UK women's prison. The cast of cons and screws is a marvelous ensemble juggling a terrific blend of heartbreak, back-stabbing, infighting and deft comedic turns that will leave you drooling for the next episode. Sultry Scot Simone Lahbib (seasons 1 - 3) as Wing Governor Helen Stewart, and Jack Ellis as the scheming head screw Fenner,who never quite gets his comeuppance,are particular stand-outs.