14 Charming British Mystery Series for Your Binge-Watching Pleasure

“Constable Hamish Macbeth keeps watch over the fictional Scottish town of Lochdubh in this comedic mystery show. Based loosely on the works of mystery writer M. C. BeatonHamish Macbeth aired on BBC1 from 1995 to 1997, and starred Robert Carlyle as the titular character. You may know Carlyle from his role as Begbie in Trainspotting, although his delivery is far more subdued in his role here. Fight crime right along with him by streaming all three seasons of the show on Amazon Prime. ”

Source: 14 Charming British Mystery Series for Your Binge-Watching Pleasure

WETA to take control of ‘NewsHour Weekend’ with Geoff Bennett as host | Current

“Geoff Bennett will join PBS NewsHour as chief Washington correspondent and host of PBS NewsHour Weekend next year when production of the weekend program moves to WETA in Washington, D.C.


Bennett, who will join the organization Jan. 3, will anchor PBS NewsHour Weekend beginning in April. Production of the show will move from the WNET Group in New York City to WETA, which already produces the weeknight NewsHour anchored by managing editor Judy Woodruff. NewsHour Weekend, which launched in 2013, is a co-production of the Creative News Group and NewsHour Productions in association with WNET and WETA.

“This decision was made by PBS,” a WNET spokesperson said in a statement to Current. “We hope and expect the program will have continued success under the management of NewsHour Productions at WETA.”

“The move to WETA will dedicate more resources to NewsHour Productions and bring our national nightly news operation under one roof,” said a PBS spokesperson in a statement.”

Source: WETA to take control of ‘NewsHour Weekend’ with Geoff Bennett as host | Current

‘CODA’ Triumphs at the Oscars, but Onstage Slap Takes Center Stage – The New York Times

“LOS ANGELES — In an Academy Awards ceremony where an onstage altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock overshadowed the honors, “CODA” from Apple TV+ won the Oscar for best picture, becoming the first film from a streaming service to be welcomed into that rarefied Hollywood club.

The 94th Academy Awards on Sunday had a freewheeling, irreverent tone from their start, with ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences laboring to prove that the Oscars could be lively and culturally relevant. By the ceremony’s end, it was certainly a night for the Hollywood ages.

An emotional Will Smith won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” as the fiery, flawed coach and father of the tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. Moments earlier, the ceremony had been derailed when Smith strode onstage from his seat and — in what at first seemed like it could be a preplanned bit — slapped Rock, who had just cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wa Rhiit,” Rock said, a reference to her shaved head. She revealed her alopecia diagnosis in 2018. Demi Moore famously shaved her head to star in the 1997 film “G.I. Jane.” “

David Lindsay:  Thank you Brooks Barnes and  for an excellent review of last night’s 94th Oscars, 2022, about 2021. I was delighted that CODA won, and I was one of the 6 percent of viewer s who lasted all the way through The Power of the Dog, which my partner loved.

This year was a record breaker for me. 40 years ago I used to not see any new movies until I watched the Oscars, during which, I would choose the three movies of the year I would see. This year I had actually seen six of the nominees for best picture, Dune, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, CODA, Macbeth, and The Power of the Dog. CODA was the clear winner in my heart, because it was delightful, surprising, funny, exciting, and you could recommend it to your Aunt Mildred and Uncle Joe in the mid west, to watch with their teen age children, and it wouldn’t scar the younger children either. Dune was extraordinary.

I was infuriated repeatedly by the Oscars show last night, and they need a new director, and a return to the good old days, when they showed extensive clips of the best film nominees,and of the other nominees, so the audience can learn about the movies, most of which, we haven’t seen, and don’t know anything about. Making the show an insiders game for those who have already seen all the movies, is a recipe for a bad show that deserves its declining ratings. Bringing back the host, or hosts, was a move in the right direction, but adding an extra 30 minutes of advertising to an already ad laden event was pathetic.

Of the films I saw, I also recommend Don’t Look Up, because it was hilarious satire, about the danger of ignoring the science of the impending climate crisis, by way of ignoring an asteroid headed toward earth. We both loved King Richard, and thought Will Smith was worthy of an Oscar, which is a low bar. Probably all the nominees deserved an Oscar, one shouldn’t take the winners too seriously. That is why the Oscar show has an artistic and moral requirement, to showcase and introduce all the nominees in all the categories, and reduce the speeches thanking my mother, my father, my children, and our pet dog and cat. The recipients should be required to spend part of their speech explaining to people what the movie was about, and why we should take the time to see it. Some of the presenters could talk about the shows, instead of their constant preening.

Review: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star in very funny, very depressing ‘Don’t Look Up’ | Datebook SF Chronicle

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in “Don’t Look Up.”Photo: Niko Tavernise / Netflix

“Don’t Look Up” might be the funniest movie of 2021. It’s the most depressing too, and that odd combination makes for a one-of-a-kind experience. Writer-director Adam McKay gives you over two hours of laughs while convincing you that the world is coming to an end.

The movie is a satire that targets anti-science, anti-intellectual and anti-logic Americans who are gullible in the extreme and brainwashed by social media. McKay’s humor is so pointed and dead-on here that it’s bracing. You almost feel like this is a movie that might change things! People might see this and realize … but no. As McKay knows, he’s lampooning a segment of the public that is beyond the reach of satire.

The story is remarkably prescient, in that it plays like a parable about the pandemic, even though the concept was announced in the media well ahead of COVID-19 and was originally scheduled to go before the cameras in April 2020. Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio play a pair of astronomers who discover that a huge comet is going to crash into the Earth in six months, wiping out all forms of life on the planet. They assume that that scientific certainty will rouse the government and the people into emergency action. They assume wrong.;

Source: Review: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star in very funny, very depressing ‘Don’t Look Up’ | Datebook

My household really liked this movie. It is very funny, and very depressing. My only quibble with this excellent review by Mick LaSalle, is that it is not about Covid, which had not occurred yet when it was written. It is most likely a broadside against the anti-science forces denying climate change and the sixth great extinction of species. It is brilliant, biting satire, and might become as famous as Dr. Strangelove, by Stanley Kubrick.

Best of Late Night TV in 2021 – The New York Times

“Despite Donald J. Trump’s loss to Joseph R. Biden in the presidential election of 2020, late-night hosts still couldn’t shake the former president in 2021.

Trump’s last day in office was cause for celebration on many shows, but the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Trump’s subsequent impeachment and his supporters continued promotion of the lie that the election had been rigged meant that the former president remained a fixture of monologues and other late-night bits.

Also, Biden apparently is just not as easy to send up. The hosts’ impressions of him lacked the cartoonish verve of their Trump takes — Stephen Colbert in aviator shades is the only one who makes much of an effort — and while Biden’s age and occasional gaffes were frequent targets, such jokes rarely occupied more than a few minutes of the nightly monologues.

Another defining trend this year was the hosts’ return to their studios after shooting their shows from home for most of 2020 and much of 2021. Colbert, the Jimmys (Fallon and Kimmel) and others brought back audiences (with Covid-19 protocols in place), live bands and in-house guests who offered a bit of normalcy to viewers looking for an escape from the coronavirus and its variants, or at least a way to commiserate through comedy.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This was a fun piece to read, thank you. Here in CT we think it would be fun in 2022 to see the writers turn on the far left of the Democratic party. They sure know a lot about how to make a great president look terrible.

The best show about international relations on television right now is on — wait for it — Syfy. – The Washington Post

Daniel Drezner, Tufts University, Fletcher School of International Relations.

“. . .There is one political show I have enjoyed recently, however. It’s about international relations. Well, sort of. It’s more about interplanetary relations. It’s Syfy’s “The Expanse”:

The basic set-up of “The Expanse” is that it takes place 200 years from now in a world in which interplanetary travel is pretty easy. Mankind has colonized Earth’s moon, Mars, the asteroid belt and some of the outer moons, such as Ganymede. Earth is run by the United Nations. It controls the moon and a large, albeit aging, fleet. It is still the most powerful actor in the solar system, but appears to be on the decline. Mars is independent, with newer spaceships, a very cohesive culture, and an ambitious plan to terraform its own planet.  Both Earth and Mars view the residents living beyond Mars’ orbit — the “Belters” — as close to subhuman. The Belters work in the extractive sectors to send resources back to Earth and Mars. There is a loose-knit politico-military group, the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), trying to organize this fractious population. And then events are set in motion.

“The Expanse” pulls off a few world-building gambits that make it pretty nifty to watch. It’s not as funny as “Firefly,” but like that show, it successfully resets the domain of politics from a planet to a solar system but no further. Also like “Firefly,” the space of “The Expanse” feels genuinely lived-in. The economics and identities that are guide the actors are well-structured.”

Currently, you can only stream The Expanse (for free) on Amazon Prime Video.Dec 22, 2020

Source: The best show about international relations on television right now is on — wait for it — Syfy. – The Washington Post

The Mandalorian – TV Show Reviews – Metacritic

The Mandalorian

Source: The Mandalorian – TV Show Reviews – Metacritic

David Lindsay:  We enjoyed the first two series of The Mandelorian. The trailer which you can get to from the Source link above, is all dark and violent. The show is better than than, but still just a shadow of the fun and humor or the famous first three films. While 70 is a fare score from metacritic, there are some great moments, and the return to universe of the Jedi is good escapism. Baby Yoda appears near the end of the first series, and the second series is all about what to do about baby yoda.

Paul Krugman | What ‘Dune’ Gets Right that ‘Foundation’ Doesn’t – The New York Times

“The blogger John Rogers once noted that there are two novels that can shape the lives of bookish 14-year-olds: “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Lord of the Rings.” One of these novels, he asserted, is a childish fantasy that can leave you emotionally stunted; the other involves orcs.

Well, I was a bookish 14-year-old, but my touchstones were two different novels: Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” and Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”

Many social scientists, it turns out, are science fiction readers. For example, quite a few experts on international relations who I know are fanatics about the TV version of “The Expanse.” I think it’s because good science fiction involves building imaginary worlds that are different from the world we know, but in interesting ways that relate to the attempt to understand why society is the way it is.

Anyway, that’s my excuse for devoting today’s newsletter not to the latest scary developments in politics and economics but to a much happier event: the U.S. release of a wonderful, satisfying film version of “Dune” — the first movie I’ve seen in a theater since the pandemic began.”

‘Moana’: Disney’s delightful tropical adventure sets sail | Soren Andersen – The Seattle Times

Movie review of “Moana”: Disney’s tale of female empowerment is told in rousing fashion, with humor and passion and grace. Rating: 4 stars out of 4.

“Moana” is a joy.

A feast for the eyes. From Disney, it represents a pinnacle of CG animation. Its colors are incredibly vivid. The screen is bathed in bright cerulean hues of the limitless ocean sparkling in the sun and the lush greenery of tropical-island paradises.

A delight for the ears. Songs by “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer Opetaia Foa‘i and Grammy-winner Mark Mancina are at a “Lion King” level of excellence. The picture’s “We Know the Way” is an anthemic ode to exploration and self-discovery that has the hallmarks of an instant classic.”

Source: ‘Moana’: Disney’s delightful tropical adventure sets sail | The Seattle Times

‘News of the World’ review: Tom Hanks, tween in a Western big enough for the both of them – Chicago Sun-Times

A Civil War vet (Tom Hanks) agreed to deliver an orphan (Helena Zengel) to her relatives in “News of the World.”
 Universal Pictures

“There was an era — and that era was the 1970s — when a Time magazine poll named news anchor Walter Cronkite as “the most trusted man in America,” and Watergate investigative heroes Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were largely responsible for the occupation of journalist regularly charting near the top of the rankings of most admired professions in the USA. (Even today, 99% of mainstream American journalists remain committed to delivering the truth, despite the delusional cries of “Fake News!” popularized by certain public figures.)

If we were to conduct a poll of the most trusted actors in America, I’d argue Tom Hanks would be near the top of that list — and Hanks is perfectly cast as an 1870 news anchor of sorts in Paul Greengrass’ gritty and visceral and deeply resonant “News of the World,” a rough-and-tumble Texas road-trip movie that plays like a hybrid of the John Wayne movies “The Searchers” and “True Grit” and even reminded me a little of George Clooney’s recent epic “The Midnight Sky.”

Hanks re-teams with his “Captain Phillips” director to play a very different kind of captain — one Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who fought for the Confederate Infantry and sustained injuries both external and internal, and has now carved out a unique way of making a living, i.e., he rides from town to town in the raw and rough state of Texas (where many haven’t fully accepted losing the war and racially motivated violence is lurking around every corner) and literally reads the news of the world to the townsfolk for 10 cents a head, bringing them the latest developments from near and afar, whether it be an outbreak of meningitis, a coal mine tragedy or a deadly ferry accident. (Hanks is such an all-American actor — and yet this is his first Western.)

Jefferson is a stoic man, a widower who keeps to himself, but his solitary, nomad life is upended when he happens across a 10-year-old girl named Johanna (Helena Zengel), who has spent much of her life as a captive of the Kiowa tribe and has been left with the authorities after her captors were killed. Jefferson takes on the responsibility of transporting the girl to her only surviving relatives in the far-off hill country of Castroville, and thus begins a long and arduous journey, made all the more difficult because Johanna is deeply resentful of this strange man, speaks not a word of English and doesn’t even understand the concept of a knife and fork. There’s a lot of learning to be had along the way.  . . . “

Source: ‘News of the World’ review: Tom Hanks, tween in a Western big enough for the both of them – Chicago Sun-Times

David Lindsay: Kathleen and I both enjoyed and were thrilled so by this new western, ‘News of the World’, nominated for best picture in the 2020 Academy awards, that we then watched the outtakes, and interviews, and then the next night, we watched the whole move and outtakes and interviews over again. There were plenty of precious moments in a very beautiful but ugly world in Texas in 1870.