A Rave Review of The Pinkertons

The Pinkertons

For the second week in a row, the Golden Age of Television is reviewing a mystery. The title of this article could be, “Guys! Something Shot in Manitoba is ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD!” or, “I Never Thought I’d Like a First-Run-Syndicated Detective Procedural Set in 1880’s Kansas” or, “If You’re Looking For A Show To Watch With Literally Any Family Member, The Pinkertons Is It.”

Set in post-civil war, pre-prohibition era America, The Pinkertons takes place in the Wild West, where all of the drinking, shooting and gambling requires the constant presence of sheriffs, US marshalls and detectives. The Pinkerton Detective Agency sets up shop in Kansas City, where there are plenty of murders to go around and money to be made by solving them.  Continue reading

A Letter to the Creators of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, with Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER: Netflix has been monitoring my email and due to my importance as a customer, they’ve immediately added Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to Canadian Netflix as of June 1, 2015. 

To the creators of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,

I am writing to you today because I love your show. I love watching the adventures and exploits of Phryne Fisher (played with unwavering pizzazz by Essie Davis), solving mysteries while impeccably dressed in jazz-soaked 1920’s Australia. I love that Phryne is independently wealthy and just decides one day that detective work would be fun. I love that Phryne is a collector of people, like Bert and Cec, the drivers/working class thugs/dock workers (I really don’t know how they earn their keep); or Dot, the timid and shy young woman who becomes Phryne’s maid/confidant; or the Little Orphan Annie-type kid that Phryne adopts who disappears for long stretches whenever convenient to the plot; or the many, many men that come in and out of Phryne’s life and bed. All of whom Phryne uses to help her solve mysteries. It is the perfect show to watch during the summer months and, since we are finally having a semblance of warm weather here in the arctic tundra known as Winnipeg, I’ve been devouring the first season. The show is fluffy and fizzy and feminist and I love it. Almost everything you need to know about the show can be summed up by this promotional photograph:

About

YES.

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Email Roundtable #48 – The End of Mad Men

This week, we attempt to discuss the series finale of Mad Men.

Kerri: First off, I’d like to gloat. I long ago stopped making public predictions about Mad Men (I kept making predictions in secret) because I never, ever, ever got anything right ever. Well, it’s been 7 seasons and finally, in the last episode, FINALLY I got something right. I almost got two things right, so maybe we can score me a plus 1.5 (and minus, like 3 thousand, but that’s beside the point). First, I declared that Peggy and Stan should get together. And they did. Beautiful, wonderful, perfectly banter-y Peggy and Stan realized what we’ve known for a long time and professed their love for each other. And, I mean, ok, sure, as far as things being telegraphed from miles away, this relationship was a straight ahead lazer beam. So I got the obvious thing right. Way to go, me. (At one point I had also said that Peggy and Joan should start their own firm. I was this close, too, dammit). But here I am speaking in “shoulds”. And if Mad Men railed against anything, just like the hippie retreat in the last episode, it was these “shoulds”, these things that we expect to happen in our TV shows, with our favourite characters. Because I do know as an audience member I deserve nothing. What I want to happen won’t always happen and what I think should happen is meaningless. Just like in life. Continue reading

After All These Long Years: The Last Words of Justified

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Two men sit across from each other, glass separating them, talking on telephones – one a lawman and one a long sought-after criminal. The lawman, Raylan, has just informed the criminal, Boyd, that a woman that they once both loved died in a car accident. This is a lie and Raylan tells it to protect this woman, Ava, knowing that if Boyd ever gets out of prison, he’ll go after her because she double-crossed him – to murder her, or to reunite with her, we don’t know for sure. Likely the former but probably the latter. And then we get the words that end Justified, a very good if inconsistent show about, among other things, two men pitted against each other since, seemingly, time began or at least before they were born. We get some fine words for us to ponder as the show goes off into the sunset. Not the shoot-out between Raylan and Boyd that so many wanted and that the show had been teasing. No, instead, we get these words. Two men talking.

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Happy Valley: The best new series that I almost missed in 2014

The first thing that happens in Happy Valley is an introduction of character (by said character) that throws the whole “show don’t tell” ethos out the window. Catharine Cawood (the tremendous Sarah Lancashire, who the entire show hinges around, the standout in a uniformly good cast), a police sergeant in Yorkshire, is called to the scene where a young man, down on his luck, has doused himself in gasoline in a playground and is threatening to light himself on fire. Catherine introduces herself to the man saying, “I’m Catherine, by the way. I’m forty-seven. I’m divorced. I live with my sister, who’s a recovering heroin addict. I’ve two grown-up children – one dead, one who don’t speak to me – and a grandson. So.” And we are off and running. But what is strange here is that Happy Valley, after Catherine’s speech and the promise of being a by the book, heart-on-sleeve cop show, is much more a show about the way that violence, grief and guilt can turn people inward, can shut them down and turn them off. Catherine’s openness to this man in the opening moments of the show is a bit of a red herring to the rest of the output, and the show is all the better for it. Continue reading

My Comfort Shows and TV BFF’s

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So, I have this anxiety disorder. I don’t really like going out these days. I’d rather be stuck by myself in an elevator with a full bladder than at a social event with a large group of people. However, the place I would most like to be when I’m not feeling like myself is in front of my television screen.

Maybe comfort characters is a more accurate title for this post. It’s the people in the shows that I love, that give me the most comfort. Watching these characters is more effective then any breathing technique or visualization exercise in my books.  Being unemployed I have a lot more time to spend with my TV friends. Here are a few of my favorites. Continue reading

Channel Surfing #4: My Week in TV – Gravity Falls, Sharon Van Etten, Reign

A quick collection of things that I’m finding fascinating, frustrating and fun on TV this past week. 

What’s happening on Gravity Falls?

Normally, when I do a round of Channel Surfing, I start by bemoaning that a once loved show has started showing signs of decay. This time I’m going to start by celebrating an already delightful show for steadily improving from its first season to its second. Gravity Falls is an animated series created by Alex Hirsch that airs on the Disney Channel (or Disney XD – the Disney conglomerate has a weird way of airing TV shows, sometimes months will go by without new episodes airing at all and sometimes an episode airs on one channel and then the next episode airs on the other – but I digress). Yes, it’s a kid’s show but it’s a kid’s show that has been heavily inspired by adult material: The Simpsons (most notably and obviously), Twin Peaks, The X-Files, old B-movies, among others. The show surrounds the Pines twins, Dipper and Mabel, who have come to stay with their old, bitter great-uncle, Grunkle Stan. Grunkle Stan owns and operates a tourist destination/hall of oddities called The Mystery Shack. You see, lots of very strange things happen in the town of Gravity Falls and Grunkle Stan intends to make a few bucks off of all the weirdness. The twins get thrown right into the thick of it, living and working at the Mystery Shack, solving mysteries, happening upon gnomes and monsters and clues and cyphers on an daily basis. The strangeness of Gravity Falls becomes a kind of new normal for the kids and they grow to love the town as much as they grow to love Stan. At the end of season one, they decide to stick around.

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