What I’m Watching

I’m wearing my TV critic’s hat this morning.

Everyone raves about Downton Abbey and I agree, it’s fun to watch. Like a fancy dress soap opera and even the Ralph Lauren ads are beautiful. The questions keep piling up. Who will Mary marry? Will dear Mr. Bates break bad? That little assistant cook: when is someone going to take off her hat and fluff her tail feathers? After Anna was raped in the second or third episode, everyone had theories about what would happen to her: she’d run away, get pregnant, spill the beans to Lady Mary, tell Bates and he’d run amuck. None of these happened, but here’s my prediction: if you value your good name and reputation, don’t turn your back on Thomas, that oily weasel. He’s going to get himself stuck in there somehow.

Sherlock is an amazing show that requires my full attention at all times. Listening is work because everyone in the cast mutters at breakneck speed in English accents and the visuals are clues and red herrings and back story that can’t be missed. The plot jumps forward and back without much prep so better not blink. I love it even when I have to turn on subtitles so I don’t miss what’s being said. The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch who’s about as different from another Sherlock, Basil Rathbone, as he can possibly be. Bilbo Baggins plays John Watson MD!

True Detective. I feel like the guy who fell asleep for 100 years. I woke up and discovered that Matthew McConaughey had transformed into an actor. This is, like Sherlock, another show that requires my full attention in the same way that reading a character dense novel does. Woody Harrelson and McConaughey play ill-matched detective partners in Mississippi tracing what might be a serial killer. The plot is kind of far-fetched and heavy on the lowlife sludge, but I don’t watch True Detective for the story. It’s a character study all the way. Dark and gripping and not one laugh in the whole hour.

If you record these shows to watch later, you should save Downton Abbey for the last. To refresh the palate, as they say on the Food Network.

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