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Recent TV Viewing

November 30, 2016

161117_a_mah-jing-wongProjectRunwayAltCR

Above: Mah-Jing Wong from the current season of Project Runway. He's one of my favorites this season, despite almost always looking scared. He's had some bad deals but he's hanging on. I hope to catch him smiling at some point. Pentel Brush Pen—squeezy barrel, dye-based, water-soluble ink—sketch in a 8.27 x 11.69 inch (A4) size Hahnemühle Nostalie Journal.

In case you haven't realized it yet, it's TV week on the blog. Where I viewed a show appears in parentheses after the show's title.

161117_a_mah-jing-wongProjectRunwayAltCRDetailLeft: Detail from the first image. I just really love the way you can play with this diluted ink on the Nostalgie paper surface.

I spent a lot of hours on the sofa with heating pads at the end of the summer because of a back injury. With some great physical therapy I made it back out on the bike to enjoy the sunny late fall weather. Stress reduction was handled by catching up with some of my favorite TV shows (or new shows). I’d like to recommend the following.

Raised by Wolves (RBW) (on Acorn). Seasons 1 and 2. I admit that when I got five minutes into the first episode of the first season I was hooked. It’s hard for me to not like a young teen you has a picture of George Orwell over her bed, and dialog that went by so fast you had to sit up and pay attention!

161125_RaisedbywolvesCRBRArethaLeft: "Aretha" in RBW played by Alexa Davies. Water-soluble, dye based ink Pentel Brush Pen on Nostalgie paper. With a bit of watercolor.

I binge-watched the entire first season (six half-hour episodes if I remember correctly, so that’s just like watching one really bloated sci-fi movie, only there’s no bloat in RBW or any bloating after effects.) 

Hungry for more I went searching on the internet and discovered that there was a second season already taped and coming soon in the summer to Acorn (it did, I watched it over 2 evenings). There was also discussion about saving RBW for a third season, but I was distracted this summer and didn’t pay attention (see the first paragraph of this post). Sadly I just learned that the they didn’t meet their fundraising goal on Kickstarter. You can read about the show there.

Raised By Wolves became one of the highest-rated comedies on Channel 4, was voted the ninth-best sitcom of the 21st century by Radio Times, and won the Rose d’Or for Best Sitcom of 2016. It was watched around the world, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (she wrote Juno!) is adapting it for an American audience. It was two years of glory – it couldn’t have gone any better. 

Sadly however, despite its success, we heard that Raised By Wolves would not be getting a third series, because that’s what happens in TV sometimes. We presumed it was something to do with David Cameron and the death of David Bowie. Those two things have fucked everything up.

It’s sad, it was really thoughtful, funny TV, and I will miss it. You can enjoy the two seasons, and I’ll definitely rewatch them.

Grace and Frankie (Netflix) came back for a second season—I think I mentioned it in my last TV overview, but I’m mentioning it again because it’s worth watching. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play friends whose husbands divorce them so they can be together. Fonda’s and Tomlin’s characters aren’t that friendly, being different sorts of people—Fonda being controlled and a bit uptight; Tomlin being a bit of an “earth-mother” type. But in the course of two seasons they find some common ground. The Husbands played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen also have some issues to deal with. It’s comedy so all the ethical issues of life aren’t resolved, but there were some fun and real moments.

Happy Valley Season 2 (Netflix). This series about a Yorkshire police sergeant played by Sara Lancashire, is gripping and emotionally heart wrenching. As difficult as it is to watch I can’t recommend it enough. Lancashire’s performance is simply stunning and you will find your chest actually aching for the situations she just gets through. I didn’t want it to end. But I wanted to start breathing again.

Bob’s Burger (Netflix) This animated series recounts the life of the owner of eponymous burger joint, and his wife and three kids. I think I watch it for nostalgic reasons. While this family is nothing like my nuclear family, if interviewed I believe they would note a striking resemblance between me and Louise. I’m only in season three and the show is currently in its seventh season, so I have a lot more fun to enjoy.

The Flash (Netflix and currently CW). Now that the weather has turned cold I’m back on the indoor bike and I’ve been able to pedal my way through season two. Since I first started watching this show around January 2016 I’ve become rather sentimental about Barry Allen (The Flash, played by Grant Gustin). I don’t know if it’s how he lost his mom and saw his dad wrongly imprisoned for her murder but I found myself getting quite teary eyed in several episodes. I think it’s actor Jesse L. Martin who plays Detective Joe West, Barry’s adoptive dad. Martin has created an on screen bond with Allen that has depth and sincerity. It’s just fun to watch. Unfortunately the second season ended in a way I didn’t want, so I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the current third season. We’ll see.

I also worked my way (or am working my way) through the following

Jerico (Acorn)

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Luke Cage (Netflix, I recommend you watch Jessica Jones before you jump into this.)

Daredevil (Netflix) (I'm way behind.)

I forgot to add (and am doing it now (8:50 a.m.) Agatha Raisin (Acorn) It's as if Miss Marple were a lot younger, a bit strident and bossy, sexualized, and had a killer hairdo (most of the time). There are some really engaging secondary characters. Ashley Jenson, who plays Agatha, was also in Extras with Ricky Gervais (a show about actors who play extras in various productions—it has an odd vibe that is oddly compelling and not depressing). But regardless of which end of the spectrum she plays Jenson's voice is amazing. I could listen to her read the phone book.

I also forgot to mention that I'm a fan of Brooklyn 99. I love Andre Braugher and everyone on the cast.

At the end of the winter, while I was still pedaling indoors I began an ambitious project to rewatch all of Inspector Morse. 

I realized a couple things. I never watched all the episodes when they first aired. There was a lot of new viewing for me. And Morse is much like I remembered, an often bitter, snippy, snob, with odd paternalistic and sometimes even creepy attitudes towards women. (There’s a comment in one episode about girls in sports tunics if you don’t believe me—as a girl who once wore a sports tunic it rather put me off.)

Watching Inspector Morse solidified two ideas that had been forming in my brain. First, that Sergeant Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately—who goes on to star in Inspector Lewis) is the hero of all the Inspector Morse episodes and the moral glue that holds their universe together—no matter how much Morse might fancy himself a deep thinker.  

And second, I still do not understand how the character shown in Endeavour (the prequel to Inspector Morse, set in the 1960s) grows into the Morse of Inspector Morse. They both like music. They have trouble with affairs of the heart, but it doesn’t explain everything else. The 1960s Morse only has 20 years to grow into the man Morse was in the 1980s. Go watch the first episode of Inspector Morse and see what I mean.

Actor Roger Allam plays Endeavour Morse’s commanding officer, DI Fred Thursday and he is a joy to watch. (He is also in at least one Inspector Morse episode as a guest character—I lost the sheet on which I wrote it down so you’ll just have to do some research if it interests you.)

161025_WigsCRALBRLTLeft: Despite the fact that the actors wore big wigs or had large hairdos I couldn't get behind Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The show has the type of plot that makes me anxious, I can't describe it any other way without giving massive spoilers. I literally only fast forward through it looking for wigs to sketch. (Brush pen and watercolor on defunct printmaking paper in a handbound journal.)  

There have been other shows I’ve watched but these are the ones I’ve been spending time on as I pedal indoors, or stretched out during the long wait for what was to come in The Walking Dead…but I’ll write about that next time.

Oh wait, there’s more—I’m finding The Crown (Netflix) about the young Queen Elizabeth very interesting. Costumes, the times, supposed conversations. 

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones and John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) returning; catching up on Bill Mahr; and staying current with Modern Family, Life in Pieces, and Gotham. (Look, I have to watch, I’m a Donal Logue fan. Go watch Terriers.)

    • Julana
    • November 30, 2016
    Reply

    I agree about Endeavor not connecting to the future Morse. They are just two different people. Really liked Kevin Whately in Broker’s Man. (Acorn)
    Rosemary and Thyme is a nice cozy escape to green gardens in winter.(Acorn)

    • Carmel Campbell
    • November 30, 2016
    Reply

    We enjoyed the Crown. So much so I looked some early photos of the Queen and Prince Phillip. The actors are the spitting image of the young Queen and Prince Phillip . Same for Princess Margaret.

  1. Reply

    I have been enjoying The Crown, too. Have you watched Vera? Really liked her, good mysteries, excellent acting and scenery. I know you aren’t crazy about subtitles but the Norwegian political thriller Occupied (season 1)was great. Looking forward to season 2 although season one is fairly complete on its own. Favorite totally silly but brilliant sit com on Netflix is Black Books. It made me forget the pain while recovering from 2 broken legs. Looking forward to next season of Happy Valley, too! Thanks for the reviews!! Do you have any tips about sketching from the TV? Oh, and I am ordering my Nostalgie sketchbooks and Nichiban tape today!

  2. Reply

    It was great casting!

  3. Reply

    Yep, I love Vera. But there haven’t been new episodes for a long time so she’s not on the list.

    I’d do more subtitled stuff if I didn’t watch so much while pedaling—it makes my head ache to try and see the subtitles which are across the room on a small tv when I cycle. (And I don’t wear my glasses except outside cycling). And the other time I watch TV is after working and my eyes are tired so I don’t want to read.

    But I’ll add it to the list.

    I think we’ve talked about Black Books before, or I have with someone. It’s a very fun show, but I watched it a long time ago on PBS and haven’t rewatched it.

    I’ve written about drawing from the TV a couple times. Here’s one
    http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/2009/06/no-more-drawing-adam-goldberg-on-wednesday-nights.html

    Here’s another http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/2013/03/some-quick-sketcheslet-the-tv-keep-running.html

    I write about what I look for in a face here http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/2015/03/why-i-find-certain-faces-easier-to-draw-and-a-tv-show-recommenation.html

    Here’s one on working fast in a series of sketches from TV/film http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/2013/10/hahnemühle-sketch-noteand-why-doing-a-lot-of-fast-sketches-now-and-then-is-a-useful-exercise.html

    I’m sure there are others but they should help.

    I love my Nostalgie book. I have already got extras waiting on the shelf for me. This one will be finished this month (as will a couple other journals I’m working in because it’s the end of the year push). And I’m excited for the new year and a new hand bound book and some other projects.

    Keep sketching and let me know any fun shows you find!

  4. Reply

    Have you watched George Gently? Kevin Wheatley is a villain in some of the later episodes. Great show set in late 1960s England. Has been on acorn and netflixs.

  5. Reply

    Ps great sketches. Esp norrell and strange ones. Love the colors. Heck I loved the show too. Binge watched it.

  6. Reply

    Margaret, I’m sorry I can’t stand J. Strange and Norrell as I mentioned here. I only fast forward it for the wigs.

  7. Reply

    Yes to Gently, I wrote about it here—http://typepad.rozwoundup.com/roz_wound_up/2014/03/binge-tv-viewing-roku-and-cycling-through-the-winter.html

    The cliffhanger with K. Whately as the villain caused major distress here as you’ll see if you check it out.

  8. Reply

    Thanks so much for gathering these posts for me. I promise to do some video sketching so I am not just sitting there staring at the screen all winter. Occupied has some terrific performances, particularly the actor who plays the Norwegian head of state. I think you would enjoy it. I will definitely be checking out Raised by Wolves. We need to keep our sense of humor now more than ever!!

  9. Reply

    Pat I think you’ll enjoy Raised by Wolves. Keep laughing! Stephen Colbert is a great help to me.

    • Julana
    • December 3, 2016
    Reply

    I will put Agatha Raisin on the To Watch list. 🙂

    • Georgee
    • December 10, 2016
    Reply

    Love Project Runway ! The other shows I am not familiar with but Raised by Wolves sounds interesting . I really like your sketches. Enjoying your bog! Thanks for all the great info.

  10. Reply

    Georgee, hope you enjoy RBW. I was so sad to see Mah-Jing bounced from PR that I’m glad it’s almost over. Sigh.

    • Nicole
    • December 19, 2016
    Reply

    I’ve read so many Agatha Raisin books but I had no idea there was a TV show! I am definitely adding that one to my watch list.

  11. Reply

    I haven’t read any of the books so I don’t know if you’ll find the cast disappointing from characters you already know—but I think it’s a wonderful show.

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