Tag Archives: tv and movies

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TV shows based on books

top-ten-tuesday
This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: (I MEAN) Based on the series of the same name by Kerry Greenwood! I haven’t actually read the books yet (please don’t tell my friend Ally), but the Australian TV series is one of the most delightful shows I know. It’s got such wonderful female characters–not just Phryne, but Dot and Jane–and some sizzling romance PLUS gorgeous costumes.

Call the Midwife: Based on the series of memoirs by Jennifer Worth. Confession–I haven’t seen the most recent series, and lost interest a bit. BUT as a whole I absolutely love this show. It’s rare that I manage to get through an episode without both laughing and crying. As usual, this is one where the characters make the show. Jenny, Chummy, Trixie, & Cynthia feel like friends at this point.

Elementary: Based on Sherlock Holmes, of course! I really enjoy Elementary, and I think it’s a great example of a looser adaptation that works really well. Because the show relies on the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and the way that ties back to the original, it doesn’t need to stick strictly to the mysteries of the books.

All Creatures Great and Small: Based on the memoirs by James Herriot (yes, I know that’s not his real name). This was one of my favorite TV shows and series of books growing up. They’re really fun, and as a bonus you get Christopher Timothy being delightful, Peter Davison being silly, and Robert Hardy being Robert Hardy.

Bleak House (2005): Based on the book by Charles Dickens. I HAVE SO MANY BLEAK HOUSE FEEEELS. The book is one that I both love and am frustrated by (see also: all of Charles Dickens), but the adaptation does some really interesting things with the characters. Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther and Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock are always going to be my favorites. And there’s that one scene, augh, my heart.

North and South: Based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell. This is a very rare case where I watched the adaptation before the book. And I love them both (I wrote part of a senior thesis on the book!) but AUGH THAT MOVIE. Yes, we could talk about Richard Armitage’s Thornton all day, but I also adore Daniela Denby Ashe as Margaret Hale. She carries the story perfectly. Also deeply loved: the cinematography, the music, the costuming choices.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Based on the book by Susanna Clarke. This isn’t a perfect adaptation, and since I’m a huge fan of the book I could nitpick what they got wrong forever. But, by and large, the writers and actors managed to distill the essence of a really complex, massive story into a few short hours. (I really warmed to both Charlotte Riley’s Arabella and Bertie Carvel’s Strange.) I will say, however, that I have very strong negative feelings about the changes to the ending, so if you’re super into the way the book ends, be forewarned.

Hornblower: Based on the series by C.S. Forster. So, something that doesn’t come up that often is how much of my childhood was spent reading books about the sea. My dad was kind of obsessed with nautical history and fiction, and I got into it too, around age 10. The Hornblower series isn’t my favorite book-wise, but I loved the TV adaptation, with Ioan Gruffudd, Paul McGann, and Jamie Bamber a LOT. (Archie!!) I haven’t rewatched it in several years, but it’s still one I have fond memories of.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. So, I have very strong feelings about Austen adaptations (P&P 95 forever, pls & thank you). Therefore, I was pretty nervous when I heard about a new vlog version. But I was quickly charmed by this version of Lizzie Bennet, and impressed by the way the writers updated the story.

Hollow Crown: TECHNICALLY, based on a series of plays (Shakespeare’s history plays) rather than a book, but I’m going include it anyway (because I can). I was really impressed by how well the mini-series translated the plays into TV, and the actors were great.

 

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2015 Favorites: TV, movies, and music

hamiltonThis was a somewhat disappointing year for me, tv & movie-wise. While there were some shows I really enjoyed, there weren’t any new ones I found to get super excited about, until I discovered the Great British Bake Off at the end of the year and absolutely fell in love. I also found that I didn’t love any of the movies I saw in theatres (hoping that Mockingjay & Star Wars will reverse that trend) which was frustrating since I was really excited for them.

However, I also wasn’t very deliberate about what I was watching–an episode here or there on Netflix or library DVD. I want to try to make a plan for 2016, so I’m not so behind on shows I really do want to catch up on (Elementary & Person of Interest, eg).

TV

Parks & Rec: The last season aired and I have so many conflicting feelings: sadness that it’s gone, and happiness that it ended on a great note, and a very slight let-down about the season as a whole. Despite that, Parks has become one of my absolute favorite TV shows of all time, and I’m just glad that I can revisit Pawnee whenever I feel like it.

Great British Bake Off: I cannot tell you how delighted I am by this show. Okay, I can try. I’m not a big reality tv watcher, nor do I particularly get the appeal of most cooking reality shows in particular. But I could happily live in the GBBO tent and have Mary Berry say gently critical things to me while I sip my tea. I’m sure there are tensions we don’t necessarily see, but this is the most cozy of reality shows and I love it.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Miss Fisher FINALLY RETURNED TO US. While I think the first two seasons are maybe a bit stronger, I don’t particularly care; I’m a Phryne fan for life. And this one definitely had some strong episodes and moments. Also some very swoony ones, and yes I mean the end of that last episode how DARE they. I’m curious to know if there will be another season, as the end of this one seemed like it could act as the finale to the show. (Obviously I want more, but…I’m curious.)

Person of Interest: I fell a bit behind on this one, but I think this is such an interesting show, despite my residual ire over the death of one of the main characters and the way it was handled. Regardless, I love Shaw and Root’s developing relationship, and while this is maybe a bit more dude-heavy than the other shows I love, I do find Finch and Reese relatively compelling as characters.

Movies

Mad Max Fury Road: I wasn’t sure that I would like this movie at all, but I did. To the extent that I’ve watched it twice now and loved it just as much and maybe even more the second time. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s smart and thoughtful and exciting, and I loved the characters. There are a lot of layers to this one, and I’ve enjoyed thinking about them since watching it.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: I know this came out last year and was on last year’s list. I don’t care. I rewatched it after the disappointment that was Age of Ultron (sighhhhhhhh) and was afraid it wouldn’t be good anymore. But it was! I still love it to a slightly unreasonable degree! Dang it, Whedon!

Belle: I watched this fictionalized biopic of Dido Elizabeth Belle back in March. It’s beautiful shot and acted, and it’s such a powerful piece of history and representation. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a luminous actress, and she brings so much depth and nuance to this role.

Beyond the Lights: Funnily enough, my last favorite movie for the year also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw! The Two Bossy Dames sometimes host a livetweet and this was the latest one–it’s a great romcom with Mbatha-Raw as a superstar and Nate Parker as a cop who enters her life. It was really smart and heartfelt and fun.

Music

HAMILTON: You probably all know this by now, but my Hamilton fangirl-ness shows absolutely no signs of abating. It’s hilarious, it’s heartbreaking, it’s so full of layers and complexity, it asks us to take a look at history and the stories we tell. And the music & cast are wonderful.

There are a couple of people I’ve started to listen to and really like but haven’t listened to exhaustively: Phildel, Sarah Jarosz, and Isla Cameron. I also liked Emily Smith’s new album, although not quite as much as her previous ones.

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June 2015 round-up

Books I’ve already talked about
The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones
All For You by Laura Florand
Pure Magic by Rachel Neumeier
Picture Book Monday
Captain Marvel vol 1: In Pursuit of Flight
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Jackaby by William Ritter

The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn
Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine
Rook by Sharon Cameron

The Water Devil by Judith Merkle Riley
A Civil Campaign

Other books
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: audiobook review coming later!

The Virtu by Sarah Monette: Feels! ALL THE FEELS. Mildmay feels! Felix feels! As a note, it’s interesting to me that Monette can write a book with two main male characters, largely centered on their relationship, and yet her female characters read as complex and interesting. It’s almost like she sees and writes them as real people! I’m both anticipating and dreading the next book because I’m sure it will be emotionally harrowing.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: I…didn’t like this one. I think I have friends who did–and I’d love to hear from you if so! But I just couldn’t get past the fact that I didn’t have any investment in Matthew and Diana’s relationship, and that at times his desire for control led it into territory I was uncomfortable with.

Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie: Audiobook. I found the narrator for this one somewhat grating, as he made all the characters sound basically the same and Poirot very Frenchified. There are also some oddly anti-women undercurrents. Not my favorite.

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor: I’m familiar with evacuee fiction, but it tends to mostly be focused on kids in the UK. In A Faraway Island Thor tells the story of two sisters, Jewish girls from Vienna who are sent to Sweden in the advance of the Nazis. It’s sweet and hard and heartbreaking, especially the progression of the letters from the girls’ parents as they begin to realize the trap that’s closing in around them.

The Arctic Code by Matthew Kirby: Middle grade futuristic sci fi, set in a slightly distant future when the world is in a new ice age. I don’t know how accurate the science is; I found the story fast-paced but ultimately a bit unsatisfying and improbable.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I have so many thoughts about this book and To All the Boys and the value of the way they show the life of a feminine, middle class girl and her concerns and loves and worries. It’s all too rare, and yet we give this kind of page time to male stories. Mostly, though, I just love Lara Jean and her story.

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers: This is one of Summers’s more intimate books, dealing with the aftermath of Eddie’s father’s suicide. I liked it quite a bit and found Eddie an easy character to sympathise with, in both her strengths and her mistakes. Oddly enough, I think I missed some of the sharp anger that’s a core of some of her other books.

Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy: I had to request the library purchase this one and for awhile it looked like they were only going to buy the ebooks of individual issues. Happily, they eventually bought the first volume. I think it really helped my enjoyment–not that I didn’t like it when I read it as ebooks, because I did. Anyway, these are funny, feminist, amazing comics. They’ve already entered my personal mythology in a way that I found slightly surprising.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters: My first Sarah Waters book! I had a slightly mixed reaction and I’m having trouble pinning down why. On the one hand, the writing is marvelous; I loved Nan’s voice and the prose and so much about it. On the other hand, I had some trouble connecting to Nan as a character, and I’m not sure exactly why; I think perhaps she seems so disconnected from other people for much of the book, and while this is probably deliberate, I think it does add a distance from her. I did love the resolution of the ending, though, and will definitely read more Waters.

Other posts
Links: 6-1-15
Links: 6-17-15
TTT: Anticipated releases for the rest of 2015
TTT: Summer tbr list
Bullet journaling revisited
A letter to Tor & Macmillan
Recent short fiction reads

TV & movies
Poldark: I’ve only seen the first episode, but it’s quite enjoyable. Lots of shots of beautiful Cornish scenery and beautiful Aidan Turner. I mean, I wouldn’t watch it just for that. We’ll see if I can take the melodrama over the long term, but so far so good.

Parks & Rec: I watched the final season and while I don’t think it was as strong as the others–it felt a little self-indulgent at times–it was still lovely. And I did really like the final episode and the way it pulled together the threads of the past few seasons.

Poirot: I went back to watching Poirot and got up to the later seasons that I haven’t seen. The adaptations of Five Little Pigs and Sad Cypress were especially good, I thought.

Continuum: Apparently I had only gotten through half of the first season on this one. I’m appreciating some of the details in terms of both the future and the present, and that it seems to have a good sense of where the story’s going. I feel like Canadian scifi shows seem to be fresher in a way than their American counterparts, and I like it.

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March 2015 round-up

Books I’ve already talked about
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Jinx’s Fire by Sage Blackwood
A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel
Persona by Genevieve Valentine
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
Death Marked by Leah Cypess
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (such a bittersweet read)
Hunting by Andrea K. Höst

Other books
Displacement by Lucy Knisley: I found myself disquieted by this one, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Land of the Burning Sands by Rachel Neumeier: Second in the Griffin Mage trilogy. At first I was a bit taken aback by the change in point of view, but I really liked the characters and the story, and the way we saw a different side to the countries than in the first book.

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson: I absolutely adored this one. Smart, fun, filled with a YA sensibility. I also loved the way Kamala’s family and faith and culture are woven into the story, how they’re both frustrations and sources of strength. I can’t wait for the second collection!

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg: The titular essay is one of my favorite things EVER. As a whole the book is enjoyable, but also tends to repeat itself a bit. Still, it’s short and tight enough that this didn’t bother me too much.

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson: Nelson’s poetic memoir of growing up black in the 1950s. She uses the sonnet’s snapshort form to great effect. This perhaps doesn’t have the same overview as Brown Girl Dreaming, but it’s likewise an important and powerful story. Its aims are, I think, somewhat different and achieved beautifully. I hope people looking for readalikes for Woodson’s book find it.

Dangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel: Second Peggy Fitzroy book. I enjoy these Georgian spy mysteries quite a bit, although this one seemed a bit long (middle book syndrome, maybe?). I do really like the way Peggy’s relationship with Matthew is depicted, and her valiant attempts to keep juggling all her plates.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Fun, angsty fantasy (not a contradiction!). I liked the concept and worldbuilding a LOT, and the way the magic has a price. I was less connected to the characters than I perhaps wanted to be. There were a few niggling historical details that bothered me, because I am the person who can’t let go of the fact that there were no abundant skirts in 1819. However, it’s a really enjoyable book and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen: Darker middle grade retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Gorgeous language and a pleasingly spare book. I found the characters and the way the story plays with the original to be fresh and engaging, despite a few niggling questions about the resolution.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry: I’ve been hearing good things about McCarry’s writing ever since All Our Pretty Songs came out, and I finally picked it up. SO GOOD. Complex characters, a wonderful narrator, outstanding prose, layers of myths that add a lot of depth. Definitely recommended if you loved Bone Gap–I would love to see someone look at the way the two books engage with the story they have in common.

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Other posts
Favorite books from the last three years
Favorite authors: Terry Pratchett
Spring TBR list
Library displays
Books I want to revisit
Links 3-11
Links 3-26
Recent additions to my TBR
Links to two tumblr posts

TV & movies
Poirot. I’ve been watching a lot of Poirot. I find the fact that the stories are transported to the 1930s sometimes a little jarring, and I recently watched “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” which is just a study in how NOT to adapt that book. (What is the whole point? Christie playing with narrative. What do they ruin? The game she’s playing.) Still, I love the main actors and it’s lots of fun to spot people who would later become famous (or famous for British actors, anyway).

Also watched “Belle”, a beautiful period movie based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle. I loved the movie as a story, and the acting was wonderful. It does bother me to a certain extent that the John Davinier of the movie is so obviously not the John Davinier of history, which undercuts the story a bit. But as a story based on Dido Belle’s life, it’s wonderful, and it’s a powerful and important piece of representation.

Finally, I watched Sense & Sensibility (1995) with the Two Bossy Dames crowd. Despite some technical glitches on my end (Netflix, why must you fail me?!), it was an extremely enjoyable evening; there’s definitely something to be said for watching a movie in good company. It’s been awhile since I had seen this one and it ages quite well. I will admit that the climactic scene when Elinor begs Marianne not to leave her had me crying and then texting my sister.

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December 2014 round-up

Books I’ve already talked about
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Terror of the Southlands by Caroline Carlson
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Other books
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs: A Cybils book. A mystery set in the first colony on the moon, in 2060. It’s kind of a locked-room mystery, and the set-up is fun. But I was vaguely annoyed with a few things: the fact that there’s no way to deduce the solution, and the fact that twenty-four years from today, almost everyone is mixed race and people of northern European descent are very rare, which seems implausibly utopian for a generation and a half from now. While neither of these things completely ruined the book for me, they did keep me from enjoying it as thoroughly as I otherwise might have.

Ambassador by William Alexander: A Cybils book. I read Space Case and Ambassador back to back, which was an interesting experience. While they have some outward similarities, they’re quite different in intent and tone. I loved Gabriel Fuentes, who is definitely an 11-year-old boy but who is also a peacemaker, who as child of immigrants has a foot in two worlds, and who is chosen as Earth’s ambassador to a galactic embassy. I appreciated the way Gabe’s family and culture were woven into the story, and the way Alexander makes the real-life situation just as tense and important as the save-the-Earth strand. A lovely, thoughtful piece of science fiction.

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill: A Cybils book. I had tried one of Barnhill’s other books and didn’t get through it for reasons that I don’t quite remember. This one I found to be really beautiful. It’s a sad book in many ways, but ultimately I felt a hopeful one (I know there are others that disagree with me here). What I remember most about this one is the particular sense of place and character that Barnhill conveys in not that many words.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett: This one is in some ways a bit standard, but I really liked the main character and the worldbuilding is fairly intriguing. There’s a nice sense of depth to it, although I felt it paled in comparison to The Goblin Emperor. But then, most fantasy this year paled in comparison to The Goblin Emperor

Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful by Donna Bryant Goertz: An interesting book written by a veteran Montessori teacher about her philosophy in dealing with difficult children. I found her point of view thought-provoking and challenging, but I also found myself feeling a little unimpressed with how much her position is defined by being against certain things. I don’t disagree with some of her conclusions, but they are presented in a very hard-line way that I don’t really like.

Intruder by CJ Cherryh: Thirteenth Foreigner book! I liked this one especially for Cajieri, who has to deal with the very different situation in Shejidan after being returned to his parents. In addition, those parents are in the midst of turmoil themselves, which makes things even trickier. Bren, meanwhile, has to deal with the aftermath of his decisions in the Marid.

Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann: A poetry collection that’s also feminist fairy-tale retellings with a curated selection of photographs. I know of several people who I respect who really loved this one. For me it didn’t quite work and I’m struggling to say way. I think I found the fairy tales too much in service to the feminism, and at the same time found that the feminism was hitting a couple of notes very hard and not touching on others. I think there’s value in this approach, but for me the specific notes didn’t resonate and so I didn’t love it in the same way that other readers do.

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein: More coming closer to the release date, but I loved Teo!

Wondrous Beauty by Carol Berkin: A biography of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, the American girl who briefly married one of Napoleon’s brothers. Berkin comes down a little strongly on how unique Betsy was, but all in all this is an interesting look at a fascinating life and time period.

Paladin by CJ Cherryh: Non-Foreigner universe Cherryh. Alternate universe China, if I’m reading it right (also, I think I saw someone say this was historical fantasy, but literally nothing fantastic happened so??). I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the end. The beginning took awhile to get to where I was hoping it would end up, but ultimately this was a fun one.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: Beautiful. I don’t think the poetry in and of itself is quite as strong as The Crossover, but I also don’t think the value of this one lies in the poetry. It’s in the stories, the creation of identity through family history, through memory.

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan: Don’t do what I did and start this one just before going to bed! It’s terrifically creepy, and I don’t consider myself someone who’s easily affected by creepiness. This would make an interesting pairing with Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song (<3) which is telling a similar story but from a very different point of view. I liked this one, which was thoughtful and atmospheric, although I felt it got a bit bogged down in the middle.

Hunting by Andrea K Host: I really loved this one–it’s already one of my favorites by Host. It’s perhaps a bit more predictable, especially if you’ve been reading through all of her backlist as I have, but in a comforting way. It’s a rare girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy story that will grab my attention anymore, but this one did. My only complaint is that I want to know more about what happens to Kiri, but hey, maybe she’ll end up with her own book.

A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintrye: I really liked Macintyre’s Double Cross a few years ago, and this one about Kim Philby and his relationships with his fellow spies sounded intriguing. There wasn’t the innate interest that WWII holds for me, but Macintyre is a compelling writer and I ended up liking it a lot.

Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K Host: Another one I liked quite a bit, although perhaps not quite as strongly as Hunting. The worldbuilding was very interesting, but I occasionally found the magic a bit confusing (on the other hand, I was reading it late at night, so it could easily have been Lack of Brain). However, I really liked the characters, especially Rennyn, and found the resolution pretty satisfying.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey
Spirit’s Key by Edith Cohn

Other posts
Making a display for Hobbit read-alikes
Links I found interesting
2014 favorites

TV and movies
The Hobbit As I’ve said several time, if the hour+ battle scene had been edited down significantly, I would have liked this movie quite a bit. It’s funny to look back and remember how dubious I was about Richard Armitage playing Thorin. He did a great job, I thought (aside from the hilaribad gold-sickness sequence, which isn’t his fault, I suppose). I thought the costume designers did a nice, if slightly obvious, transition for him into this increasingly isolated and formal figure and back into Thorin Oakenshield. If the movie had been edited to be the Tragedy of Thorin, King Under the Mountain, it would have been great.

Poirot: I’ve been having fun this month watching through old Poirot episodes. I’ve seen a great many of them and read nearly all the books/stories they’re based on, but I have never gone through and watched them sequentially. Thanks to the magic of Netflix, I can do so now. And my major goal in life is now to become more like Miss Lemon.

Person of Interest: I’ve started watching the third series and I am distressed at a certain character’s death. Not so much the way it was handled as the clumsy attempt at romance which came right before. Regardless, I still enjoy this one quite a bit and intend to finish out the season soon.

Elementary: I started the second season and really liked it–I like this Holmes so much better than the Moffat/Gatiss version, which I know is terrible but there it is. And I think the writers are doing interesting things with the Holmes canon in a way that I’m happy with.

Catching Fire & Mockingjay Part 1: As previously discussed, these were favorites for the year. They’re really effective movies, which so many book to screen adaptations aren’t. And Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely superb as Katniss.

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2014: TV and movies

It’s only towards the end of 2014 that I started to actually track the movies & TV shows that I watched, and to consciously talk about them a bit more (which I do in the revised version of my monthly round up posts). So this is necessarily a bit shoddy as a record goes. However, this was a pretty good year for me and there’s definitely a lot to mention.

phryne
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: A glamorous detective in 1920s Melbourne, which should be enough to sell you on this show. But if you want more: not only is Phryne Fisher a fantastic character, the rest of the cast is great as well. And Phryne’s clothes deserve a post of their own–I didn’t know I liked 1920s fashion until I started watching this series. Happily, Miss Fisher is returning for a third season!

Call the Midwife: The story of Jenny Lee and the midwives of Nonnatus House continues to be gripping. While the storylines occasionally border on the melodramatic, there’s a depth to a lot of what’s shown which counterbalances that. And there are some moments that are truly just beautiful. I will admit that I cried almost every episode of this season, which is a good sign. I’ll be interested to see where the show goes in the next season, since there are a few significant changes.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: I liked the first Captain America mvoie quite a bit, but the second one knocks it out of the park. Not only is it much more of an ensemble movie (Natasha and Sam Wilson are basically as important as Steve), it also delves a lot into some of the larger questions as far as the moral authority of SHIELD and ideas of freedom and what is necessary. There was a pivotal scene that actually reminded me a bit of Rose Under Fire and had me cheering in the theater. All in all, this is not only a fun movie, but a smart slick one with great representation (Sam Wilson forever!) and cast.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Part 1: I watched these back to back and I remain really impressed by the movies. Especially in Mockingjay, the way visuals are used worked very well for me. I wanted to say a lot more about Katniss and her relationships with Coin, Cressida, and Prim, and about the way Collins subverts and, quite frankly, destroys our storytelling expectations. But I’ll just say that I think these do really well at adapting and translating the books into a different medium and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Katniss is absolutely compelling.

ctm

Parks and Recreation: This was the year of Parks & Rec for me. I watched six seasons in six months and fell in love with the characters and the town of Pawnee. Comedy is a hard sell for me because so often I have to look past storylines or “jokes” that are offensive or hurtful. Parks & Rec manages to steer clear of this, making it a show that I am genuinely happy to watch. I’m already sad that it’s ending and the last season hasn’t started to air yet.

Person of Interest: This show should not work as well as it does, but I love it. I’ve seen the first two seasons and find that its gradual transition from slightly SFnal puzzle of the week into a complex, thought-provoking story is really well done. I also appreciate that while the two main characters are white men, there are significant characters who are women and not white. It’s brain candy, but a smart thoughtful kind that doesn’t leave me with a bad aftertaste. (I may have stretched that metaphor a bit far.)

Orphan Black: I’ve only seen season 1, but I’ve been very impressed by this show and the way it’s both slightly over the top fun while having a more serious undertone to it. And Tatiana Maslasny is fantastic; it sounds silly to say this, but there are times I forget that all the clones are played by one actress because she gives each their own gravitas.

Pitch Perfect: I saw the trailer for Pitch Perfect 2 when I went to see Mockingjay and the friend I was watching it with got super excited. So I finally broke down and watched it, and it’s such a FUN movie. Like Parks & Rec, I felt like I could watch it without feeling like I had to excuse anything. Purely enjoyable, with some great music and hilarious moments.

tws

I’ve found that, with the exception of a few older shows I’ve rewatched (ie, Poirot) I’ve largely lost my interest in shows that foreground white guys as inherently fascinating. This is really personal preference: for the last few years I’ve really found myself by far most interested in and moved by stories about women especially and other minorities. All of the media I’ve enjoyed this year, except perhaps Person of Interest, has foregrounded women and their stories (The Winter Soldier is almost as much about Natasha and Steve as it is about Steve and Bucky). Sadly, this does leave me a bit limited in terms of shows I’ll actual enjoy and if you have suggestions I will happily take them! One of my goals for the coming year is to catch up on some period dramas I’ve missed.

I’ll also note, period drama wise, that I am officially eating my hat. A few years ago the big British networks said they were taking a step away from Austen and Dickens adaptations. At the time, I felt quite annoyed by this, since I had been hoping for some more solid adaptations like Andrew Davies’ Little Dorrit. However, when I look at the period dramas that have come out of the last few years, I was clearly Wrong: Miss Fisher, Call the Midwife, Bletchley Circle, The Hour–even, for all its faults, Downton Abbey. If anything, we are in the middle of a burst of creative, smart period dramas most of them featuring women not only as characters but as writers and producers and I am all for it.

Finally, I continue to like the Marvel movies and even Agents of SHIELD, which is not nearly as bad as I was led to believe. And I am SO EXCITED for Agent Carter, and Age of Ultron, and Captain Marvel. I’ll continue to hope, probably in vain, for a Black Widow movie (srsly guys, whyyy) but overall I’m happy with what we have.

parks and rec

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