My Favorite Shows on TV Right Now – Part 2

When last we left off, I shared six shows on TV that I especially enjoyed. Below are six more — none of which have anything to do with Christmas. So if you’re looking for seasonal joy, this ain’t the place.

There’s no way that this is a definitive list of the very best shows available, and I’m always looking for good ones. So please share your favorites with me! The first three people who respond with the names of shows I haven’t watched yet will receive a copy of my new book, THE JUICE, a cyberpunk, dystopian tale.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here goes:

Just before the pandemic struck, I saw this film at a Sony screening and fell madly in love, despite the peculiar name. (Burnt orange is one of my least favorite colors.)

Now the movie is available on Amazon Prime. In BURNT ORANGE, Aussie actress Elizabeth Debicki stars with Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger and the Danish actor Claes Bang. (Bang also stars in the BBC/Netflix series DRACULA.) Debicki, seen here, is a charming romantic foil for Bang, who is hired to steal a painting that was created by Sutherland’s character, a reclusive artist. The whole scheme spins out of control.

Doesn’t hurt that viewers can live vicariously through the characters’ travels through Italy and England, at a time when it’s so hard to get around without deathly consequences.

I’d already been captivated by Debicki’s talents. She starred in the limited series THE NIGHT MANAGER a few years ago. Up ahead, she is playing Princess Diana in the sixth season of THE CROWN.

Speaking of, have you been watching …

In the most recent season of this Netflix series, Queen Elizabeth, played by Olivia Colman, is at times intimidated by Margaret Thatcher, and at other times diametrically opposed to the Prime Minister’s actions. Thatcher is played by Gillian Anderson. You may remember her as Dana Scully in THE X-FILES. I suspect that her role in THE CROWN will be as pivotal for her career as X-FILES was so long ago.

The tension and ferocity of these two ladies playing opposite each other is mesmerizing, in a way that kind of reminds me of Glenn Close and Amy Adams in HILLBILLY ELEGY, which I mentioned last week. But there’s a whole different cultural “world” going on, to put it mildly.

Colman conveys a kind of clear-eyed innocence at times – so out of touch in her regal bubble – and at other times she can be dead-on astute, or terribly hurtful to her sister, played by a fragile Helena Bonham Carter. And Anderson, as Thatcher, brims with a resolute, uncompromising passion. She makes it easy to understand why the British Prime Minister was dubbed The Iron Lady.

This season also gives us an introduction to young Diana, played by Emma Corrin, first as a spritely being who was cleaning house for her sister at the time her romance with Charles began. And eventually she transforms into a very troubled woman well aware of her husband’s intense love for Camilla Parker Bowles. That’s Corrin above with Josh O’Connor, who plays Charles. Inflaming matters all the more, she upstages her husband again and again with theatrical panache and a candid heart that charms the world.

Recently, there was an editorial that appeared in The Washington Post claiming that the series, created by Peter Morgan, is unfair to Charles — that he actually isn’t the self-centered jerk that he sometimes seems in this series. But I would contend that what the column points out about Charles’ leadership qualities aren’t entirely out of keeping with what is portrayed in this series. People have many facets, and those facets change over time.

Not that I have any secret sources to prove that I’m right within Buckingham Palace.

Ranked as one the most popular series on Netflix right now, LUCIFER originally aired on FOX with limited success and was cancelled after three seasons – only to be resuscitated by Netflix, where it made its meteoric rise.

The story, based on Neil Gaimon’s DC Comic Book, The Sandman, is about a very dapper, amusing Satan with a charming British accent, whose played by Tom Ellis. Lucifer decides to take a vacation from Hell and ends up in Los Angeles, running a nightclub. He falls in love with a driven LAPD detective trying to live up to her detective father’s ideals and trying to live down an early-career reputation as a hot-tub movie starlet. Doesn’t hurt that the detective, whose named Chloe Decker, is played by the captivating Lauren German. (The duo is pictured here.)

Ironically, I think the first three seasons that FOX produced were some of the strongest. I’ve been through almost all the episodes at this point. And at first, I was drawn to this series for the same reason I loved Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard in MOONLIGHTING way back when – great romantic tension between two people that seemed utterly destined for each other, and extremely frustrated by each other’s wildly different personalities and lifestyles. The driving force for both LUCIFER and MOONLIGHTING, is the question: “Will they ever get together?”

After much teasing on that front, season after season, I sometimes feel strung along when I watch LUCIFER. But still, when I just want to end the day with a laugh and a couple of characters that are dependably charming, it’s easy to flip on this show. Which calls to mind …

This show is the equivalent of comfort food for me. A band of mostly cheerful midwives and medically trained nuns in a downtrodden section of London during the 1950s and 1960s bring babies into the world, running up against various precarious situations. When I write “various,” consider there are 11 seasons, and the babies pop out at a rate of two or three per episode into a world of parental problems and health issues.

Who knew that I – who decided against motherhood – would enjoy watching so many infants be born?
The episodes also contain an occasional romantic subplot that keeps things spicier.

Some of the midwives have come and gone over the years. Right now, I’m missing Emerald Fennell, who (thankfully) shows up in THE CROWN as Camilla Parker Bowles. But some of my favorites are still in the episodes I’m currently watching, like Trixie, a vivacious midwife with some emotional challenges, played by Helen George (seen above at left with Charlotte Ritchie), and the elderly nun Sister Monica Jones — at once a little mixed-up and exceedingly wise — played by Judy Parfitt.

The very idea of a TV series with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant got me excited about this HBO series. And while the conclusion wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be, and it felt like some of the cliffhanger endings of episodes were too contrived, it became a guilty pleasure. It’s a whodunnit murder tale that kept me guessing about how things would turn out.

Like Tom Ellis as Lucifer, Grant has a trademark charismatic persona that amuses me. I love how as an actor he occasionally comes out of the romantic comedy mold and gets into darker stuff. Did you see him in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS a few years ago with Meryl Streep?

In UNDOING, Kidman plays an upper crust Manhattan therapist who is stunned to discover that her exceedingly witty husband (guess who) had lost his job quite some time ago. He had been working in a hospital as a pediatric oncologist. The doctor had failed to drop that little bombshell. This revelation emerges after Kidman meets a very sensual woman, played by Matilda De Angelis, and said woman is subsequently murdered. Grant’s character goes missing, and it doesn’t take much for Kidman to triangulate the situation — at least, the hot love affair part.

The question “Did Grant really kill his lover?” at the core of the series kept me devouring episodes whenever they emerged, as did another question: “Can Kidman really stand by her man when his innocence appears so murky?”

And, as with BURNT ORANGE, Donald Sutherland’s supporting role as Kidman’s extremely wealthy father made it even more of a treat. He conjured up helicopter rides and doled out $500,000 gifts at the drop of a hat.

Not quite the frog pond I paddle around in, here in New York.

This series gem tends to get buried in the Netflix library in the States because it’s a French production with subtitles. It’s been available on the streamer for at least a few years, and I watched it a while back. But it still sticks in my mind.

AGENT! is a comedic serial about life inside a Parisian talent agency. French celebrities (like Isabelle Huppert and Juliette Binoche, seen here) portray tongue-and-cheek versions of themselves in various episodes. So if you like French cinema, you’re likely to find some delight in discovering who’s going to crop up next.

The main plotline revolves around what the agents within the company are going to do when their boss, the owner of the agency, suddenly dies. While this is soap-opera-like by its nature, the characters have a lot of textured layers that keep the series from veering off into sappy melodrama.

So there you have it! My top 12 picks for what to watch on TV or other device of your choice. I would look forward to hearing from you about shows I haven’t yet seen. First three respondents will get a free copy of my book, THE JUICE.

Leave a Comment