Sometime ago, I can’t remember the exact date, I lost the desire to leave my home after dark. There were some mitigating circumstances, which included winter and a global pandemic, but the upside of this isolationist approach was I discovered just how much fun I could have nestled on my couch, with my trusty dog companion and easy access to all the snacks and comforts my heart could possibly desire. Sure, I might miss live theatre, cinema, friends and eating out, but I did discover a treasure trove of entertainment at home.
What follows is my recliner review of some of the highlights (and lowlights) of my recent hibernation.
Schitt’s Creek is brilliant. Canadian wit from the comedic father and son duo Dan and Eugene Levy. The usual pathway for television series is to start out big and slowly shrink, but this one did the opposite.
I have been a fan of Eugene Levy in his Christopher Guest-directed movies: Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, and there is magic when he teams up with Catherine O’Hara who plays his wife Moira in Schitt’s Creek. The award winning series has a cult following with a range of merchandise including ‘Ew, David’ pyjamas, which I hope Santa has seen.
There has been much written about this series, but for me it is clever quirkiness with social conscience. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have then I reckon it is worth watching again to catch the layered comedy you missed first, or second, time around.
Maid was a recent Saturday night binge fest, spilling over to a rainy Sunday afternoon, which was great viewing but in a weirdly uncomfortable way. Featuring Andie McDowell and her real-life daughter Margaret Qualley, who plays the lead Alex in this 10-part show. It was inspired by the bestselling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive and the story focuses on hurdles and obstacles a young mother faces leaving an abusive relationship.
McDowell gives a masterful performance as Alex’s on screen mother. The filming was done in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and makes Maid worth a revisit just to look at the simply stunning scenery when you aren’t wanting to simultaneously cheer for and/or shake Andy. Again, if you have missed this best be jumping on board sooner rather than later.
Grace and Frankie. What is not to love? Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin shine as women adjusting to the hand life deals them supported by Martin Sheen (who will always be President Bartlett to me) and Sam Waterston. Not a new series, the seventh and final season has been filmed and final episodes are due to screen in 2022, fans were treated to the first four episode a few months ago as a surprise. Fonda and Tomlin announced it on Twitter, with Tomlin tweeting, “It was between this and Del Taco gift cards.”
Grace and Frankie is fun with a twist on modern life and the complexities that accompany it. If you haven’t seen it, start at the beginning and enjoy the ride. And while I’m at it, let me applaud a show that celebrates older actors who have so very superbly honed their craft.
Diana: The Musical. I can recall where I was when I heard the sad news and what I did next. While no one who even slightly knows me would ever call me a Royalist, I will confess to a bizarre fascination with the Royal Family. Following in the clever footsteps of other Broadway musicals, including Hamilton, when forced to go dark due to the pandemic, the people behind the show filmed a performance. This was a smart move and one made to create interest so people want to grab tickets as soon as theatres reopen. That is certainly how it worked for me and Hamilton.
I didn’t go blindly into this, having read a few bad reviews, I expected it would be a cringey, “so bad it is quite fun kind of show”. I was wrong and only made it to about the third song before I retreated, defeated. Life is too short and Diana: The Musical is one of the things we shouldn’t waste any time on. I feel Diana may have liked the ‘Evita status’ a musical bestows, but not this one. It’s trite, not funny and just a bit ‘off’.