not a book, tv

Not a book: Eurovision II (again!)

So Eurovision is over for another year. And what a year this has been – having the contest here has been a real experience, even if the UK entry didn’t do very well. But hey, the host often doesn’t do that great. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. It was quite a show though – Liverpool did us proud. I’ve put the winning performance at the bottom in case anyone hasn’t watched yet, but I wanted to highlight my favourite bit of the night: the interval act:

Obviously Liverpool has a great musical heritage, and I loved the way Eurovision paid tribute to that in the most Eurovision way ever. If you haven’t watched it, click play and I defy you to be unmoved by it. I loved all of it – and also that Dadi Freyr finally got to perform on the Eurovision stage having been the favourites to win the 2020 contest that was then cancelled because of Covid and then coming back in 2021 only to be unable to perform on the night because of a Covid case in the group. Honestly just wonderful. The best interval act since Mans and Petra did Love Love Peace Peace.

And the other thing that has come out of this week has been the world getting to see Hannah Waddingham do her thing and just loving her. I’m a big theatre nerd as you all know, and she’s been on my radar for years and years now, but it’s only since Game of Thrones (she’s the shame nun) and Ted Lasso that she’s really hit the big time beyond us theatre nerds. And I love it when a theatre person gets the notice they deserve – see Mark Rylance but in a different way for him of course. Anyway, if you watched Hannah this week and wondered what else she can do, have this video of her performing as part of the cast of Spamalot (along with Tim Curry!) at the Royal Variety performance back in the day.

Anyway, here is this year’s winner:

I don’t love Tattoo the way I loved Euphoria so I’m trying not to be bitter that my favourite didn’t win, but I can’t be too angry about being back in Sweden for the 50th anniversary of Waterloo. And what was my favourite I hear you ask? Well, for once my favourite did rather well – even though as usual it was one of the wilder and more “novelty” songs – no not Croatian Monty Python guys (who threatened to perform naked if they one) but Finland and Cha Cha Cha.

They won the popular vote, but the juries didn’t go for them so we’ll see you in Sweden next year Eurovision fans!

not a book, tv

Not a book: Eurovision

It’s the start of Eurovision finals week again – except for my friends who are super fans, it’s two weeks this year because they’re already up in Liverpool because this year we have a home Eurovision – sort of. After Ukraine won last year, the UK is hosting the contest because of the war and Liverpool is going all out.

I’m not going to Merseyside, but I am looking forward to seeing all the pictures from the people who are. And my Eurovision season is already underway – the team I was on won a Eurovision quiz a few weeks back, which was very exciting even if I can’t claim that much credit (I only got one question that no one else on the team did!) but I’m not massively across all the songs yet – but that’s what the semi finals are for for me!

If you’re a fan enjoy this week – and let me know your favourite this year in the comments!

not a book, streaming, tv

Not a Book: Our Flag Means Death

It’s Sunday again and time for me to talk about something that isn’t a book again, and today it’s Our Flag Means Death – which is a comedy series about pirates very loosely based on a real life pirate.

It’s the early Eighteenth Century, and Stede Bonnet is tired of his comfortable life as a husband and father on Barbados and buys a ship and runs off to be a pirate. Except that he’s a really, really bad pirate. Like terrible. He has no aptitude for killing and his ship is outfitted for luxury rather than anything else. When we meet him at the beginning of the series, his crew are so fed up of him that they’re considering mutiny, but decide that he’ll manage to get himself killed soon enough. Except he doesn’t and soon he and his crew come across the notorious pirate Blackbeard, and they make a deal – Blackbeard will help Stede become a better pirate and Stede will teach Blackbeard how to become an aristocrat. Except it’s not as simple as that. Oh and it’s a romantic comedy.

If you’re struggling to get your head around all this, and I’ll admit I’m not doing a very good job of explaining it (luckily the first series came out in the US a year ago, so I’m hoping some of you will already have watched this and have thoughts to share), but you’ve probably spotted Taika Waititi in the trailer, and he’s also an executive producer. So the easy way to describe this is to say think of the same sort of humour as What We Do in the Shadows, but with pirates in the 1700s (and not a mockumentary). The episodes are only 25 minutes long, they’re very easy to binge and if it works for you (and it really works for me!) it will leave you with a big smile on your face.

If you’re in the UK, the first series is available on the BBC iPlayer to watch now. If you’re elsewhere in the world, you’ll need to look for it on a streaming service – probably whatever HBO Max is called in your territory. Series two has finished filming but there’s no news yet on a release date for it.

Have a great Sunday everyone.

announcement, tv

Magpie Murders redux

It’s Easter weekend everyone and if you’re looking for something to watch – and in the UK – the Magpie Murders is being shown on TV at last. The second episode is on this evening but the whole series is on the iPlayer already. I hadn’t realised this was happening until I saw a trailer for it before Match of the Day last weekend, so apologies for the slightly late notice. I wrote about the adaptation of Anthony Horowitz’s book last year when it was on BritBox – you can read that review here.

Have a great weekend everyone.

not a book, tv

Not a Book: We Need to Talk About Cosby

This Sunday, we have another in my occasional series about documentaries.

We need to talk about Cosby is a four part documentary about the US comedian, sitcom star and actor who has faced significant allegations of sexual assault. Directed by the comedian and TV host W Kamau Bell, it looks at Bill Cosby’s career and the allegations made against him, featuring interviews with people who have worked with him, some of the women making allegations against him and also some expert voices. It went out in the US this time last year on Showtime, but has only recently been airing in the UK – hence why I’m talking about it now.

My day job is in news, so I’ve seen the allegations against Bill Cosby play out in the headlines over almost a decade. And before they were made, I had heard of the Cosby Show, although I don’t think I had ever seen an episode. But until I watched this, I wasn’t fully aware of how long and varied his career had been and huge his fame was. And this documentary does that – and made sense of why there were so many and varied reactions to the allegations when they started to emerge.

This is a heavy and serious subject, but Bell has made a very watchable and well put together documentary series. He describes himself as “a child of Bill Cosby” and leads you through the different phases of Cosby’s career, the allegations against him and what the reaction was. The interviews and interviewees are really good and it feels like a solid and well argued piece. Obviously Bill Cosby wasn’t interviewed for this, but the archive material of him that is available adds to the picture that is being built.

The last part of We Need to Talk About Cosby goes out on TV her in the UK tonight tonight – I only set the TiVo to record after the first part had gone out so we watched that on the iPlayer and then realised all four parts were available there and just watched it there. I would say we watched it all in one go – except that we didn’t, we did it over two nights because it was all a bit heavy for one evening (and also it was getting late). If you’re not in the UK, you can find it on streaming – it was on Showtime in the US.

not a book, tv

Not a Book: Wednesday

Back at Halloween last year I wrote about the Addams Family films from the early 90s and now I’ve watched the new Netflix series about Wednesday and can report back!

So the premise of this, as you can probably tell is Wednesday Addams Goes to Boarding School – and it’s a boarding school for outcasts. Now given my fondness for boarding school stories I could very much get on board with this. And obviously because this is Wednesday we’re talking about – allergic to colour, incredibly morbid, not really into emotions – this is going to pose some challenges. On top of that, this is the school her parents attended and to say there is some history there is to understate the situation. And then there’s the fact that there appears to be a monster killing people and the pupils of the school, with their special powers/skills are the prime suspects. So a fish-out-of-water school story with a murder mystery/thriller twist, brought to you by Tim Burton. Sounds good right?

There is also good news for those of you who are as sentimentally attached to the Julia/Huston Gomez and Morticia as I am, that although the parents appear in the show, they are only in a couple of episodes. And though I have a few issues with Catherine Zeta Jones’ Morticia (not least the wandering accent), Luis Guzman’s Gomez is brilliant in a different way to Raul Julia and I really, really liked it. And as Wednesday, Jenna Ortega is fabulous, she’s got the creepy, disconnected affect down as well as the deadpan delivery. And the plot and script are really clever too. There are nods and winks to the various different incarnations of the family previously (not least Christina Ricci as Wednesday’s dorm mother) whilst still making it feel its own thing.

Wednesday has Thing with her at school – which shows how far CGI/Special effects have come in the last 30 years that it’s now super easy to have lots and lots of Thing, and Uncle Fester pops up too. But for most of the characters are new – Enid, Wednesday’s roommate, a crowd of popular kids including a siren and a pupil whose drawings come to life and a group of townies who have a very, very mixed relationship with the boarding school on their doorstep which adds another level of tension to everything. And then there is Wednesday’s special gift – which causes her even more issues. In short – plenty of plot strands to keep everything moving along and to keep you guessing about how it all might tie together.

We watched it across about four days – there are eight episodes – and were really sad when it was over. And clearly we’re not the only people who have made it to the end of the series (which seems to be the metric which Netflix bases stuff off) as they announced a second season last month. I’m interested to see where they take the show next, as the plot for this was self contained enough that it wouldn’t have left viewers mad if it didn’t get a second series but equally left you with a tease for what might happened next. And don’t worry, the teaser trailer below doesn’t give any spoilers away.

So if you need something to binge watch, and you haven’t already, I recommend this for your next duvet day on the sofa.

Happy Sunday everyone!

not a book, tv

Christmas bonus post: Festive TV

It’s the final-final run towards the big day and the TV schedules are starting to look awfully festive, so today I’m back with some suggestions about what to watch out for this year.

Obviously the first thing and the programme that I’m most excited about is the return of Detectorists for a Christmas special. We’ve actually started another rewatch ahead of the feature length special on Boxing Day. If you haven’t ever watched the show, go read my post about it and then start at the beginning!

But before we get to Boxing Day there are a few other shows to mention – namely Ghosts. I don’t think I’ve mentioned Ghosts here before, but this is the BBC One comedy about a couple who inherit a dilapidated stately home complete with ghostly residents that only one of them can see. I love it. It’s funny but not mean and I find it so hard to pick who my favourite character is. There’s also a bunch of reruns of various of the Mischief Theatre Christmas offerings – if you’re in the UK and have missed them you can find them on iPlayer. And if Mischief are doing a show anywhere near you next year, do go and see it. I think that The Play That Goes Wrong is one of the funniest nights out you can have.

I’m also recording the repeat of the Sky adaptation of Going Postal, which although it is not as good as the book is still a pretty good go at it, and has Claire Foy (pre the crown) and Richard Coyle as Moist – who is about to read the new version of the audiobook, which I have preordered, even though I love the Steven Briggs version!

If you want more pre-Crown Claire Foy, BBC Four is repeating Wolf Hall at the moment – which is one of the best TV adaptations of a novel I’ve seen in ages. It’s in memory of Hilary Mantel who died earlier this year – and ahead of the first part they had an interview with the director, who revealed that the adaptation of The Mirror and the Light is in the works, although whether I’ll be able to bear watching it I don’t know. If you know your history, you’ve known from the start what is going to happen but that doesn’t make it easier. And they did such a powerful job of Anne Boleyn’s execution, I can’t imagine how they’ll do Cromwell. And Mark Rylance is possibly the best actor I have ever seen live. To the point where I would go and see him in anything.

I’m sure there were more new things I meant to write about, but I’ve got a bit carried away with the repeats! To be fair, the TiVo recording schedule hasn’t made this any easier. Maybe I’ll have to do a part two of the bits I forgot?!

not a book, tv

Not a Book: What We Do in the Shadows

The fourth series is finally available to watch in the UK this week – via Disney + this time sadly and not on the BBC (yet, she says hopefully) and it’s one of my favourite tv shows so of course I’m going to write about it.

The show is a mockumentary spin off of the film of the same name that follows a group of vampires as they navigate life in suburban America rather than New Zealand. I’ve mentioned before that I have a slightly strange relationship with vampire and supernatural stuff but this is exactly on the end of things that I really like.

Lazlo, Nadja, Nandor and Colin Robinson are Staten Island’s resident vampires. With the help of their familiar Guillermo they try to stay inconspicuous and yet keep on top of the supernatural hierarchy. I was trying to pick a favourite character, but I couldn’t because they’re all great and every time I think I’ve picked one, I remember something brilliant one of the others does or says. As the series has gone on (and budgets have increased!) their world has increased in ways that I can’t really explain without giving huge plot spoilers, but I am very excited to see what happens this season given the way the last one ended. Tell you what; have the season four trailer, but seriously only watch this if you’ve seen the first three series and use it to increase your excitement levels. The rest of you don’t spoil it!

So in summary: The Office but actually more Parks and Rec in a way, but with horny vampires who incompetently try to take over the world. It’s very, very funny.

not a book, tv

Not a Book: Gaslit

Here’s the latest in my posts on prestige TV – I have watched the Julia Roberts Watergate drama and I have thoughts!

So Gaslit tells some of the untold stories of the Watergate saga based on the Watergate series Slate podcast Slowburn. The main focus is Martha Mitchell (played by Julia Roberts) who was the wife of the Attorney General and a celebrity socialite, but it also follows John Dean (Dan Stevens) the White House counsel, Frank Willis (Patrick Walker) the Watergate security guard and G Gordon Liddy (Shea Whigham) and his band of burglars.

In fact the actual burglary is a very small part of this story and over very fast but the fall out of it is huge. Obviously it took down a president – and to a point where most people don’t know that the vice-president was also a crook unless you’ve also read (or listened to) Bag Man or done some research of your own* – but it also impacted a huge number of other people, some of whom are sympathetic, some who are… not.

There are some fabulous performances in this. Julia Roberts is amazing as The Mouth of the South, Martha Mitchell. It might be the best acting I’ve seen her do. Dan Stevens is excellent in a slippery out for everything he can get to advance himself role. I was frankly terrified of Shea Whigham’s Liddy – and really need to go and do some reading to see if he was really that insane. And then there is Sean Penn who is absolutely unrecognisable – to the point where I had to check it was him moee than once – as Mitchell. As a whole it is quite bleak – you know it’s bad when you’re rooting for a cat to turn up alive – but it’s really worth some of your time if you’re even vaguely interested in American politics. It doesn’t have the (dark) humour that The Dropout has, but it is compelling and thought provoking.

Gaslit is on Starzplay, which you can get via Amazon Prime – I watched it all during my seven day free trial!

* it’s also a great trivia question – who is the only unelected president of the United States: answer Gerald Ford who was appointed to vice president after Spiro Agnew stood down.

not a book, tv

Not a Book: Luxe Listings Sydney

I worked my way through a lot of TV during my shingles situation, and today’s Not a Book is for one of the series I watched – which has a new season out this week.

We watched the first few series of Selling Sunset and then got fed up that it was turning into all drama and no property. Luxe Listing Sydney has – so far – resisted that urge and serves up plenty of expensive properties to gawk at with a side order of rivalries between rival agents. You’ve got Gavin and D’Leanne who work at rival sales agencies and then Simon who is a buyers agent. In series two we added another rival sales agent in Monica – and who knows who they might add in to series three, although the trailer is promising (more) Delta Goodrem…

Basically if you need a bingeable property show, with plenty of multimillion dollar properties, this ticks a lot of boxes. Although I couldn’t work for anyone on it except maybe D’Leanne!