Here There and Yonder

I finished watching the HBO series, His Dark Materials, a week or so ago, and am ready for its next HBO/BBC season coming in November 2020. This is a series that can appeal from teen to, well, 73-year-olds! The author of the trilogy on which the series is based is Phillip Pullman. When I finished my latest Jesse Stone novel, I downloaded The Golden Compass – the first in the series. I have not been disappointed with the book. 

It is not unusual for me to put down a book that loses my interest halfway through. The latest Jack Reacher met that fate. But Pullman is a master of bringing things we know and identify with into his fantasy world. Rather like Star Wars (especially the very first one) that populated a fantastical space world with pubs, and swords, and cowboys.  Star Trek does that, too, by keeping the nautical terms and ranks for the StarshipEnterprise.

The Golden Compass, the book, and His Dark Materials, the television series, do the same to a most intriguing degree.

Sound like fun? It is. In our world filled with so many worries,  it is good to get outside of ourselves for a bit, and His Dark Materials/The Golden Compass are perfect ways to do that.

I also recommend The Aeronauts, set in 1862 England and based on a true story of daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren and pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher set off to set new altitude records … and do. A well-made feature is also showing in theaters. 

For a little black and white TV nostalgia, the second season of Lost in Space is playing on Netflix. If you happen to have a good TV and sound system, you will enjoy this one for that if not for the storyline.

The best I have seen in a very long time was the Netflix-produced movie, Two Popes. You do not want to miss this one. Extraordinary story brought to life by even more extraordinary acting by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce.

Finally, I watched The Mandalorian over the holidays with the grandkids and thought it was better than the new Star Wars that I found better than the last two. You must have Disney Streaming to watch The Mandalorian.

Coming this week to Brit Box and Acorn (streaming services) are some outstanding shows. To BritBox comes the crusty detective Vera (if you like Shetland, you will like Vera). They by the same author, Ann Cleeves. Also, the intriguing Silent Witness is back. This very long-running CSI/detective series is consistently well done. You can catch all the seasons up to this one on Amazon Prime. Brit Box is also returning Wallander, the Swedish cop show with Kenneth Branagh that first ran on PBS. It is worth a second look!

To Acorn is coming The Brokenwood Mysteries set in beautiful New Zealand. A bit quirky (the head cop likes country music), but oh so entertaining. A jewel from the bottom of the world.

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There are a couple of shows I cannot watch but seem to have garnered critical acclaim. Flea Bag. Tried to view it again this year. Nothing but off-putting language, and I am not a prude by any stretch. Same for Morning Show. The F-word doesn’t send me packing unless I hear it every other word in the first 20 minutes. Sex or language which are thrown into a script purely for shock value, are a turn off for me. I have found over the years that PG-13-type movies replace the visual sex by talking about it. Repulsive.

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I have ditched AT&T TV for Google’s YouTube TV. Same shows, and about ten bucks cheaper a month. Also, YouTube TV’s on-screen guide is much, much cleaner, and more comfortable for my old eyes to read. 

Just a note. If you have not discovered that Amazon Prime also includes IMDB TV (with your Prime subscription), keep scrolling down the list of shows, and you will eventually find it. Or, search IMDB. It is like another whole universe of shows to stream. Not all are good, but there are jewels there. This where I found my all-time favorite cop show – an Aussie gem – Rush.

Until next time.

-MD

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