Better late than never! What did I watch from the end of August through September.
The West Wing
One of the very best TV series ever made. Spotting it had become available on Amazon Prime, I spent most of August into September re-watching all 154 episodes, bingeing on them 4 or 5 at a time.
- Favourite character: Still, always CJ.
- Most loveable character (for all his faults): Josh.
- Best surprise: I’d forgotten how handsome Jimmy Smits is
- Word I’ll never forget: Shibboleth (look it up!)
Matt Santos outdoes Maverick (left).
Having finished it, I might just have to make rewatching it an annual thing! (Unless they make The Sopranos or Six Feet Under available – I can only cope with one long series at a time).
I also streamed/am streaming:
Everything Everywhere All At Once – starring Michelle Yeoh, and an unrecognisable-until-you-know Jamie Lee Curtis (right) as her nemesis, Deirdre the IRS auditor, was both amazing and totally confusing all at once after a rift in the universe is opened up allowing Yeoh’s character to explore different timelines. It’ll bear re-watching! Bravura performances from the two leads though!
24 hour party people – starring Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson, the Granada TV presenter who inspired by a Sex Pistols gig in 1976, went on to found Factory records and the legendary Hacienda club – centre of the Madchester music scene which featured Joy Division, New Order, The Happy Mondays and more. What a fab film!
The Bad Sisters – Currently streaming on Apple+, I’m five episodes into co-creator Sharon Horgan’s delightfully dark comedy thriller series about a family of five sisters, one of whom, Grace, played by Anne-Marie Duff is married to the awful, manipulative John Paul, played with relish by Claes Bang (who was so good in Dracula). The other four sisters aim to relieve her of him, and it flashes forwards and backwards around his death, and the ensuing insurance investigation. It’s rather fab.
And on the Big Screen…
I’ve seen so many people commenting on Baz Luhrmann’s wonderful film, who totally misunderstood the angle Luhrmann was coming from. They wanted a straight biopic, but Luhrman gave them Colonel Parker’s view combined with a homage to all the Black musicians who so inspired Presley. I thought it was wonderful and that Hanks was actually rather good, and fell in love with Austin Butler. And the music was absolutely fabulous.
See How They Run
This Agatha Christie comedy spoof is based around a true fact that in the contract for her 1952 play The Mousetrap, there is a clause that forbids a film being made of it while it is still running on the stage – although there was an enforced break for Covid – it returned and is still going. At the end of each performance, the audience is sworn to secrecy over whodunnit.
The film is set around the 100th performance back then, and a Hollywood producer who’d like to make a movie of it (Adrien Brody) is murdered at the party. In steps a world-weary detective (Sam Rockwell) assisted by a perky, over-enthusiastic WPC (Saoirse Ronan) to solve the crime. Ruth Wilson, David Oyelowo and Reece Shearsmith amongst many others have great fun. Ronan proves she is a great at comedy, getting most of the best lines, Rockwell did the world-weariness rather too well, and of course I couldn’t possibly tell you whodunnit.
Much Ado About Nothing
And finally, streamed live from the National Theatre, it was touch and go whether this performance would go ahead, given that the announcement of the Queen’s death came just 40 minutes earlier.
But the show must go on as they say, and the NT’s director led a minute’s silence and singing of the National Anthem before proceedings began. Then the cast, including Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan gave their all as Beatrice and Benedick in this 1930s Amalfi coast hotel setting. Heffernan in particular was brilliant at both the speaking and the farce; Parkinson, while great to watch, was a little shrill. In the scene in which Benedick is usually hidden in the shrubbery, an ice cream trolley was substituted resulting in him being covered in sauce and sprinkles as his friends set him up – it was hilarious. Also very funny (unusually) was David Fynn as Dogberry, now the hotel’s security chief, with the text adjusted to give him even more word-mangling than normal.
It certainly took my mind off the sad events announced earlier that evening. This was a hi-jinks, physical production that was just the tonic.