What I've been watching
House of cards S2 was disappointing after S1, it simply wasn't as good. I think the acting (Spacey and particularly Wright) is outstanding and the stories/writing good, but it just lacks the punch of the first season. Unsure why, felt a little drawn out? Still worth watching though.
Scandal S2 amped it up many notches from the short S1. Whilst I find Washington's character mesmerising in her ice woman commeth attire, it is the secondary characters I find far more interesting. Her team and who they are, Cyrus and the team behind the president including his fabulously awful wife, Mellie. I think the thing I just don't get about Scandal is the whole Fitz/Pope love affair. He does nothing for me at all, I guess it's about him being president and powerful, which is kinda sad for such a strong female character like Olivia Pope. However, I am still hooked!
Parks and Recreations S5 was brilliant and funny as you would expect. By now, these characters from Pawnee are like best friends to me. Their quirks and silliness and kindness and heart, I love them all. But for me the funniest will always be Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson. Any scene without him just pales. I loved his storyline and cliff hanger ending this season, and cannot wait for S6.
Game of Thrones S4 - OH MY!!! this just gets better and better. I love this so very much I cannot begin to say, but hell I'm not alone there! New characters introduced, characters let go. In fact (sort of spoiler) I really thought I would be more excited about a certain character's demise, but I was kinda sad, cause well, he was so deliciously awful, it kinda sucks for him not to be there anymore. As always Tyrion, Arya, Khaleesi, Samwell, and Brienne remain my favourites. Some epic battles this seasons, between characters and in actual full on war. The sets continue to amaze and the depth and layers of characters and storytelling is nothing short of genius.
On actual television my favourite two shows are Please Like Me S2 and Utopia.
Utopia is another Working Dog satire, and they truly can do no wrong, Utopia is set in a government department that has something to do with infrastructure. In fact some characters wonder what they actually do. Rob Sitch is perfect as the hapless Tony, centre of the department. The show mostly deals with the bureaucracy and personalities in such a department. Complex to describe but easy to identify with, working for government myself. I found each episode on topic for what was happening in the news, which is an uncanny thing Working Dog (the production company) seem to be able to do, having struck gold previously with Hollowmen and Frontline in similar situations. The cast were note perfect and the comedy subtle but sublime. My favourite episode was the first, which mostly dealt with a new logo. It had me laughing hysterically...out loud...a rarity!
I liked S1 of Please Like Me, but S2 just ups the ante to something close to perfect. If you haven't watched it, shame, though being tucked away on ABC2 does it no favours. It is about Josh (played by Josh Thomas, creator and writer of the show loosely based on his own life), a 20 something, out of work guy who likes to bake, and who happens to be gay (this is - as it should be - a matter of a fact part of the story). He lives with his hetero best mate, and a whole range of other slacker type 20 somethings. A lot of the scenes take place with them pondering, love, life and all that. But where it differs from other comedy series is the rich tapestry of Josh's family, his bi-polar Mum (an absolute show stopping piece from Debra Lawrence) who after her suicide attempts last season is in a mental home. And his long suffering Dad and his partner and their baby girl. Dad just wants Josh to be happy and get a job so he can stop paying his way. Which happens beautifully towards the end of the series. Having his Mum in the setting of the xxx adds pathos to the comedy, with a grand cast of patients including Hannah Gadsby, Bob Franklin and a superb turn by Denise Drysdale. The series takes some dramatic turns, but adds comedy in just when you need it, and so perfectly too. It is gentle and kind and funny, and we need so much more of that in this harsh world. But if you see any episode you simply must see Ep 5, a superb 2 hander where Josh and his Mum go camping in the Tasmanian wilderness. All heart. This is a must see gem.
What I've been reading
I must admit I have been struggling to concentrate on reading these past few months. My reading Mojo is gone. This does happen from time to time. I have theories on why, but that is a whole other blog onto itself! In the meantime I've been trying.
So the only book I've read this month is We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I had started this a few months back, realised it would be a perfect Book Club book, so tossed it aside and came back to finish it once I had scheduled it. Not only is this book beautifully written, but the story is unique...in terms of fiction anyway. But to tell you why would be to spoil it. Yes, it has a twist, but a twist so important to the story it's hard to write about it without mentioning it. But I shall try. It is a family saga of sorts (but not really) told from the perspective of a daughter and about her two missing siblings. It starts in the middle at an important juncture in her life and them moves back to the very beginning when she was young and the siblings disappeared. Fowler writes from the daughter's perspective so beautifully throughout the book moving from different ages seemlessly but with enough nuance to nail the thoughts of that particular age. The impact of the loss is observed through her eyes, over periods of time until she works out what actually happened. Which could be more devastating that she originally thought. The twist comes early, cause it needs to, and is so genius you will gasp. But this book is so much more than a twist. Seek it out, you will see why it's nominated for The Booker,
What I've been listening to
Loving the new Passenger album. I do enjoy his music, it has range and depth, and is very uplifting I find.
I've listened to a lot of Dylan, but mostly after I saw him and especially his newer albums, as that is mostly what he did in the concert.
I've been listening to The Police at work and ELO in the car. The Police works as a soothing backdrop whislt I work and ELO brings such joy and excitement to driving in the car. It's funny how different music works in different surroundings.
But mostly I have been playing two superb mixed tape CDs of 1983. My friend V is blogging about his favourite music year by year, I realised 1983 was such a formative year for me. I always listened to music, but by that year - I was 12 - things really got cooking. He made me a mixed tape (on CD) of the best songs of that year and I have been blasting it ever since.