Top Chelf

This blog has waxed poetic about TV cooking competitions, the granddaddy of them all being Top Chef. An effective milieu of sport, food, back stabbing, emotional dressing down, smack talk, and ridicule. If you add 1989 wrestling and loose-fitting cardigans it would have all of my favourite things. But it does well on its own. It’s one of the shows I still watch “live” and I have to cook along with it. As I have to eat when the judges are eating, watching it having already eaten, or to eat later in the day just seems wrong. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Toast will suffice. But you better finish in time. Continue reading

Quiet Moments and Humanity in Season 4 of Homeland


*Warning* This article contains spoilers

Claire Danes’ detailed performance on Homeland has been , widely praised, criticized and (hilariously) mocked. While I tend to agree she can go over the top while portraying the more intricate moments of her characters Bipolar disorder and internal struggles, I have always admired the quieter moments in her portrait of Carrie Mathison. Continue reading

The Truth is Not In Here: Memory on Serial and The Affair


What if memory is a prison? When we think back, we are constantly tripping over our own perception of the truth and circling around what was. What if we are constantly trying to unlock a door that did not exist in the first place? The truth and memory are on two parallel roads. If they intersect it is a miracle. And maybe we don’t want them to.

(A note here about what’s below. I know this is a TV blog but you’ll forgive me for a moment while I discuss a podcast).

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The Man Who News Too Much

I am part of the problem, I should stay away. But I can’t. 24-hour news is a morass of fear mongering and finger-pointing. No information is given. No issues are resolved. Yet, I consume a good deal of it in my daily TV gorge. I have previously discussed Fox News’ Red Eye and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. These shows sort of know that they are in the muck and mire of the never-ending news juggernaut and get through their respective programs with a wink and a smile. Most poo-poo cable news as its widest audience comes from out-of-context Daily Show clips, but I have endured wide stretches of such infotainment. For the most part, the rest of day, the genre is overwrought jargon, jingoism and partisan clap-trap. And I love it. This is partly from my love of pro-wrestling, distinct lines of good guy vs bad guy. Wrestling is the last great burlesque, aside from cable news that is. The hosts of these shows are experts on everything: Immigration, Ebola, Aerodynamics. We can dismiss this as the death of actual news, and be highfalutin, but I celebrate this unique forum. I could go on about the hosts political leanings and partisanship and what qualifies as news but that to me is boring and has been beaten to death. I would rather nitpick the people that decided to or got roped into this world. Continue reading

My Stories Are Back! 2014 Edition

The leaves are brown and on the ground
The autumn air blows hair around
My brand new boots came in the mail
And new TV is on the dial

It’s my favourite time of year (for television): the return of new TV. Sure, we had Netflix and the occasional episode of Big Brother to keep us company this summer, but fall has returned, and with it, my stories. For you today, a wee review from the most recent episodes of my favourite returning shows. Continue reading

Where Do We Go From Here?: Innovation (and lack thereof) on The Knick


When I began watching The Knick, Steven Soderbergh’s prestige drama about The Knickerbocker Hospital in 1900’s New York City, I thought it would be the last show that I would be writing about, let alone thinking about on a daily basis. The show was dry, save for the litres of blood and guts spilled during the show’s obligatory operating room scenes (it’s not for the squeamish); the characters were cliché, save the one character, Algernon Edwards, that the audience was bound to love from the start because of his “underdoggedness”; the show was in almost all respects, aside from its beautiful look, cinematography and terrific score (the best on television) boring and bruising, a chore to get through. The Knick is positioned as a traditional hospital drama and it feels like a lot of other hospital dramas, at least early on. But then something strange happened. In episode 4, “Where’s the Dignity”, the show left me transfixed. For all of its “prestige”, for all of the moments that strived to say, “this is IMPORTANT” and “don’t I look beautiful?”, I was able to get a read on what the show was actually about. The Knick – at its bloody beating heart – is a show about the way move forward. It’s about revolution.

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For the past few seasons my wife and I have been subjecting ourselves to Hell on Wheels, an AMC drama about trains (or something) set in the post-Civil War midwestern US. Why we would do this to ourselves is difficult to explain, other than the fact that it is quite literally a slow train wreck and we can’t turn away. I’ve also really enjoyed telling my friends about all the ridiculous things that have happened, and continue to happen, on this show.Inline image 1 Continue reading

Just One More Thing

Columbo Death Jackpot badge

In my vast Canadian cable package, I get excited about the new content that comes in: 5 TSN’s, 3 Much Music’s are all vigorously consumed when they sign-on and then get relegated to a rare viewing. But one old warhorse has piqued my interest as of late, mainly for just one show. Vision TV is one of the originals of “specialty channels”, right up there with YTV and the old Shopping Channel that would just show still pictures rather than video. Mainly it’s the religions channel, not just Christian televangelists – although that is the bulk of their weekend offerings. It’s now run by TV guru Moses Znaimer and is geared towards geezers rather than churchies. “Zoomers” as they call it – baby boomers with “zip”. No moxie allowed. If you have spunk go elsewhere. You have to have zip. It’s now a mix of old British shows, movies, a strange talk show hosted by Conrad Black, and the very nub of my gist: Columbo! It used to be on weekly but now I’ve discovered it almost daily. Even though they are not making new ones – it’s one of the best shows on TV. Stephen Fry said so. So if you want to argue anything artsy or fartsy with him – you have more moxie and spunk than even the zippiest of zoomers.

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