Monday to Sunday: What I’m watching these days
Every once in a blue moon, a reader stumbles upon my blog. I was reminded of that fact yesterday, which in turn reminded me how neglected Writer’s Log has been lately. What can I say? I’ve been too busy reading, writing and playing games (I’m so close to finishing Thief, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Mass Effect 3 [Marie, stop narrowing your eyes at me], and Sleeping Dogs and Life Is Strange are not going to play themselves, are they?). The other thing that has me occupied these days is TV serials. Funny, because I don’t have a TV; I do have a projector and an empty wall, though.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere earlier, I’ve been on the lookout for series with (good) stories about women. Turns out, this is exactly the right time to be searching for those. Though I can’t take full credit for the collection listed below, I can certainly share:
This is an ITV series based on Ann Cleeves’ mystery novel series. Vera is all about DCI Vera Stanhope of Northumberland and City Police leading various murder investigations. Played to perfection by Brenda Blethyn, Vera is a straight-talking, no-nonsense police detective. You can count on her to spot things that no one else does and you won’t find anyone who works harder than her. Chances are, her sharp tongue will lash out at you, but you’re equally likely to be taken aback by glimpses of a kind heart. Vera is a maverick and incredibly sharp. She’s arguably one of the best older female characters on TV at the moment. Each episode is 1.5 hours long, so late-night writing on Mondays is a goner these days.
In the quest to devour everything with Nicola Walker in it, I stumbled upon Collateral. This is a four-part BBC drama, a police procedural investigating the killing of a London pizza delivery man. It also has Billie Piper and John Simm (of Doctor Who fame), an added bonus. Just watched the one episode (and loving Nicola Walker [of course]), so let’s see where this one goes.
Wednesdays: Holby City
Another BBC drama, a hospital story based in the fictional city of…you guessed it, Holby. The astounding thing about Holby City is that it’s in its 20th year; not just that, each episode is usually an hour long, and they manage to put out 52 episodes a year!!! So basically, it hasn’t been off air for 20 years. Imagine that. Anyhow, we started watching Holby City for the Serena Campbell and Bernie Wolfe story line — more on that here — but are now fully invested in the non-#Berena characters too. Yes, it helps that Serena is back in the story and Bernie is in the background, but there are plenty of other interesting characters (good, bad and downright ugly). Must say, though Holby City has a host of interesting women: Jac Naylor, Roxanna Macmillan and Frieda Petrenko, off the top of my head. I’m not ashamed to admit that I started watching Holby from series 18, episode 17, when Jemma Redgrave made her first appearance on the show.
Thursdays: Call the Midwife
Another one from the BBC stable (Are you seeing a pattern here? No? Oh well.), based on Jennifer Worth’s memoirs, also titled Call the Midwife. The series, I daresay, is somewhat more interesting and well-rounded than the book itself, expanding from Worth’s recorded experiences, and branching out from her somewhat judgemental (in places) observations coming from her middle-class upbringing. It tells the story of a team of nurses and midwives, some of whom are nuns, based in the poor London neighbourhood of Poplar in the 1950s and 1960s. Rather than just a collection of stories about children being born (and yes, there are a lot of gory birthing scenes with plenty of screaming [makes me wonder what the neighbours think we’re watching]), it depicts a rich tapestry of lives in an impoverished setting in difficult times. CTM touches upon events that are etched in stone in history, such as the thalidomide disaster, the introduction of oral contraceptive pills, immigration after WW II, incest, faith, sexuality, dementia and plenty more. Particularly fascinating is the choice of these women to take up nursing and/or midwifery as careers, and even to become nuns, as a means of gaining independence and living their lives on their own terms. All of this at a time when women were not expected to have careers, and expected to be wives and mothers to the exclusion of all else.
Fridays: Grey’s Anatomy
Since The Fosters finished, Grey’s Anatomy has been the only American series on the agenda for the moment. I’ve been a devotee of Grey’s since it first started 14 years ago, though my faith was shaken after Sandra Oh left the show, and then Sara Ramirez. I even stopped for a season (season 13). However, I was enticed to return to it in season 14, which has shown a remarkable improvement. This is a medical drama about a group of doctors in Seattle’s Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. I suppose I continue to watch to know what’s going to happen to a number of beloved characters, including Meredith Grey, Alex Karev, Miranda Bailey and Richard Webber. I haven’t found myself particularly invested in most of the more recent characters, though there are some interesting story arcs.
Saturdays: Weekly off
If you’re still reading, then, wow. I won’t keep you much longer. Casualty is what gave birth to Holby City, and is currently airing its 32nd series (each Casualty series has 40 to 45 episodes from what I gather, each episode an hour long). It is based in the Accidents and Emergency Department of the ficitonal Holby City Hospital. I’ve only watched one episode so far (series 32, episode 24, where the irascible Jac Naylor, cardiothoracic consultant from Holby City crosses over to Casualty, but I am absolutely sure I will continue to watch.
And that rounds up my weekly television schedule. This list is always chopping and changing, of course. Sometimes I mix it up a little with a bit of sitcom. The ones that don’t make me want to throw things at my screen are Mom and One Day at a Time.