I am one of those people who thinks that listening to audio books doesn't count as reading the book. I know, we could get into all kinds of discussions about why that may or may not be a fair statement. How about we agree to disagree? Lately I have been thinking about getting an audio book. For me though, for that audio book to then make it onto my books read list, I was thinking I would have to sit with the book and follow along verbatim. I think this actually might be quite interesting. I was thinking maybe I get an Anita Brookner. Since I have read all of her novels, I thought it might be interesting to hear how a trained voice reads it. Plus if I followed the words on the page it really would be reading it a second time. This idea may have to wait a while however. I am re-reading her novels in chronological order and I am several novels away from finding an AB novel that is available in audio book format.
I have been reading a lot lately. I just don't have anything particularly bookish to write about. So I thought I would pretend like all the TV and film I have been watching were analogous to audio books. I know, I know, even an audio book snob like myself recognizes that there is nothing analogous about the Real Housewives of Orange County and War and Peace on audio book. Except maybe that there is less fighting in the latter. But hey, I needed a hook for this edition of Bits and Bobs.
Many of you have already seen this at a cinema near you. The National Theatre in London has a series of their productions that have been, or will be, shown live or recorded at cinemas around the world. The Audience is a wonderful play by Peter Morgan (writer of The Queen and much more) and is wonderfully acted by Helen Mirren who reprises her role as HM and cast of other characters who play various Prime Ministers who have met with the Queen once a week during her long reign. It really is brilliantly done. The script is funny and poignant, the staging is very well done, and unlike filmed versions of plays that used to make it onto the small screen, the camera work and makeup allows one to forget it is a filmed play.
I am guessing that Mirren doesn't want to spend the rest of her life playing QEII, but I will continue to stump for her to bring Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader to the screen. PLEASE!
|Yes, there were real corgis on stage. This is a picture of one that was apparently fired for ignoring Mirren on stage.|
Orange is the New Black
For those of you with Netflix, you really must watch Orange is the New Black. I suppose it isn't for everyone, there is strong language, nudity, violence,etc. But for the non-squeamish among you, this is a wonderful drama. Engaged to be married, upper middle class WASP, Piper finds herself heading to federal prison for a bit of illegal activity she did ten years previously when she was dating a drug dealer--who just happened to be a woman. Based on a true story, each episode follows Piper as she gets used to prison life, but more interestingly, it introduces us to a cast of fascinating, scary, funny, and very human characters who are also doing time.
Perhaps one of my favorite scenes is when some of the inmates are chosen to interact with some juvenile delinquents as part of a "scared straight" program. One of the characters, Suzanne (or Crazy Eyes) who tried to make Piper her "wife" in an earlier episode, volunteers to participate so she can get a chance to act. So when the kids show up and the inmates are let loose to verbally intimidate them, through the din of all the yelling one sees Crazy Eyes up in the face of one of the young girls performing/yelling a scene from Shakespeare. I love Crazy Eyes.
I know I am prone to hyperbole, but this show is probably the best written and acted TV drama I have ever seen.
|Main character Piper (left) and the wonderful Suzanne (Crazy Eyes)|
Jean and Lionel are the only two who don't piss me off
If you live in America and watch PBS, by now, no doubt, you can recite dialog from As Time Goes By from memory. It is on so often. Yet I still end up watching it. Even weirder is that the only two characters that I like are Jean and Lionel. I can't stand the rest of them. I find Judith spoiled and sulky and just plain whiny. Sandy is such a wishy-washy wet blanket. Alistair is easily one of the most annoying characters in television history. I hate Lionel's parents in the same way I hate rapping grannies--"Oh look at the old people acting like young people, isn't that hilarious?" No. No, it isn't. I should say that I do like Penny and Stephen. Incidentally, for true Britcom fans, you may recall that the actor who plays Penny also played the wife of JJM managing director Andy on The Good Life.
Which brings up a good point. Why does PBS play endless repeats of As Time Goes By and Are You Being Served when there are so many other fantastic older Britcoms they could be showing us like Sorry! with Ronnie Corbett and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin with the brilliant Leonard Rossiter and a young Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer).
|Leonard Rossiter as Reggie chatting with Ponsonby.|
|A young Geoffrey Palmer playing Cousin Jimmy on The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin|
Project Runway / Top Chef / Great British Bakeoff
I have loved Project Runway from day one some 11 years ago. I love watching folks with real talent and creativity conjure up something out of nothing. The same reason I love Top Chef and the Great British Bakeoff. Although to be fair, I think the GBBO contestants get a fair heads-up and what their challenges will be. By the by, GBBO starts back up on August 20th.
|This season's cast of Project Runway. No predictions yet. Well I do have some, but too early to share.|
|The GBBO crew. Hooray, can't wait for the new series.|
|And who could forget the infamous GBBO squirrel?|
The most delusional character on reality TV
I am sure all of you are watching Princesses Long Island. What a cast. Sheesh. Ashlee is 30 going on 13. She is bossy and mean and unpleasant and then sobs to mommy or daddy about how everyone is mean to her. My favorite part is when she wanted to take a jet to go from one part of Long Island to another because everyone was being mean to her.
|Right before Ashlee had to be rushed to the hospital to take a Benedryl. (Crying on the phone to daddy about everyone being mean to her. Send the jet!)|