Not a Blog

Good Stuff to Watch

December 5, 2018 at 8:45 pm
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This really is the Golden Age of Television.   So many great shows, more than anyone can possibly keep track of… especially anyone as busy as I am these days.   But I love TV (and movies, and books), and when I find something I really enjoy I like to spread the word (“boost signal,” I think they call it nowadays on this interweb thing).  Word of mouth is still the best advertising there is, and with so many choices out there, every word helps.

Regular readers of my Not A Blog will know that I’m a huge Bernard Cornwell fan.   His Sharpe series was classic (and the television version was the first place I ever encountered the talents of Sean Bean), and more recently I have been loving his Saxon novels, set during the days of the Danelaw and Alfred the Great and featuring another unforgettable Cornwell hero, Uhtred son of Uhtred (who also had an older brother named Uhtred and a couple of sons, one of whom was named Uhtred and the other… uh… Uhtred.   It’s complicated).  I’ve also enjoyed the hell out of THE LAST KINGDOM, the television series based on the Uhtred books, the third season of which recently appeared on my television.   Loved that one too.   The show has a great look to it, all mud and blood and dark age squalor.  The writing and acting are both first rate.   So are the action scenes, though the battles could use a bigger budget.   The characters are vivid and memorable and… importantly, to my mind… very true to the novels and the time, not 21st century people dressed up in chain mail and boiled leather.   Love that.  I am already jonesing for season four.

I am also a big fan of Elmore Leonard, so when I recently stumbled on a series based on his novel GET SHORTY, about a Mafia hitman who goes to Hollywood and becomes a movie producer, I had to check it out.   There was a film version of the Leonard novel a few years ago, featuring John Travolta and Danny DeVito, and that was entertaining enough, so…  This new television series has almost nothing to do with either the film or the novel it was based on.  It does not even include Chili Palmer, the hero of the novel (there is a nod to him when a “Mr. Palmer” drives through a studio gate), and the only “Shorty” in sight is a teenaged girl rather than the famous-but-short film star of the original.   In fact, GET SHORTY takes almost nothing from the novel and the movie beyond the basic premise.  Normally, I would HATE that, but this show surprised the hell out of me.   Truth be told — hold your breath, this is something you will almost NEVER hear me say — in this case the television show is BETTER than the book.   It’s darkly funny, brutal, suspenseful, full of twists and turns, and its cast of characters are way more interesting and fully realized than the rather one-dimensional Chili Palmer.   Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano star, and they are both terrific, as is the supporting cast.

Looking at IMDB, I see that this show was actually released in 2017.   I had never even HEARD of it until I stumbled onto it by accident a few weeks ago, which just proves the truth of what I said: there are so many good shows out there, you cannot keep track of them all.   (It also goes to prove that I am very busy and somewhat out of touch, but never mind that).  I have only seen the first season of GET SHORTY, but I hear there is a second season out there already, which I will need to track down (that may not be easy, since season two is on a streaming service I have never heard of).   I hope it’s as good as season one.   In any case, kudos to writer Davey Holmes, who did the adaptation, and to Alan Arkin, who directed a lot of the episodes.   Nice work.

Oh… and I should also mention NIGHTFLYERS, which I hope some of you are watching as it rolls out on SyFy.   But I’ve posted a lot about that one already.  See below.  I hope you are all enjoying it.

These are great times for television viewers.

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