I confess. I’m a compulsive binge-watcher. Once I find a show I like, I pretty much can’t stop watching it until I get to the end. This has wreaked havoc with my sleep (there was that little devil on my shoulder saying, ‘It’s four a.m. – surely you can watch one more episode?’). Food, too – the other night, the Doordash delivery guy texted me to tell me my lunch was still on the porch. And my dog still hasn’t forgiven me for that especially long stint a couple of weeks ago when I refused to get up off the couch.
In my defense to my dog, this Yankee transplant hibernates in the summer, and it was really hot outside.
Still, I was admittedly surprised at the variety of small-screen stuff that captured my attention these past few weeks.
So here are four shows that I caught, liked, and will likely watch all over again.
I always knew that Paul Giamatti was a great actor, and I really had no idea who Damian Lewis was before I started watching this show, but the two of them together are explosive. Paul Giamatti plays Chuck Rhoades, U.S. Attorney, on the opposite side of the law from billionaire hedge fund owner Bobby Axelrod. In between these two powerful characters is Rhoades’ wife, Wendy, played by Maggie Siff, who, you got it, works for Axelrod. These two powerful men tangle wits and manipulate other people with the mastery of puppeteers. They are also both deeply flawed and imminently likable. And for anyone who’s from the Tri-State area, the cityscapes of New York are gorgeous. Season 5 (interrupted by COVID) returns in less than a month.
I love the way British do crime, with more emphasis and plot and character and less on shootouts and car chases. Brenda Blethyn plays Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, a cop with the personality of sand paper who can sniff out the teeniest clue. Underneath her tough-as-nails exterior as an officer with deep compassion for the victims and an unswerving determination for justice. Filmed in the northeast of England, Vera’s scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The series is based on the books by Ann Cleeves, a new favorite author of mine.
This show was a surprise too. It’s kinda been decades since I fell for a sweet drama like this one. The show stars Alexandra Breckenridge as “Mel” Monroe, a nurse practitioner who uproots her life to move to a small northern California town, and Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan, local bar owner and former marine who has a case of PTSD. But, for me, the characters who are stealing the show are Hope McCrea (played by a brilliant Annette O’Toole) as the busy body mayor of Virgin River, “Doc” Mullins (played by an equally brilliant Tim Matheson) who used to be married to the mayor, and Colin Lawrence as “Preacher” Middleton, chef and buddy to Jack. This show had a way of getting under my skin and not letting go.
Shadow and Bone
I’ll admit, I wasn’t into the hype of this show or the books before watching any of it. Luckily, a friend warned me to read the books first. I devoured the whole series in one weekend, and then spent the next three nights watching the screen adaptation. I’m not sure I can wait another year for Season 2, will just have to watch Season 1 (again, bingeing, of course).
I think writers catch their inspiration from so many artistic sources, so I’m not by means feeling a little sheepish about the fact that some of what inspired me this summer came via a flatscreen TV and bowls of popcorn. And, I discovered two new favorite authors, Ann Cleeves and Leigh Bardugo. Not too shabby for a summertime couch potato.