Because The Best of Times is Now (Television Thoughts: Younger, S06 E01: The big Day)

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I always forget how much I enjoy ‘Younger,’ because I always have a smile on my face whenever I am watching it. The sixth season opener, ‘The Big Day’ is no different. We see a lot of these characters at life-changing moments in their lives. Kelsey is now the CEO, and Liza is of course no longer an assistant, and Charles is no longer with Empirical, his family’s corporation. Oh, and yes Liza and Charles are now together-together, and out in the world for everyone to see it. And Josh is having a baby! All of this have been crammed in the first episode, and it’s all a whirlwind. Almost every major character in thew show makes an appearance: Zane, Lauren, even Michael Urie as the gossipy agent. And if I am not mistaken, this is the second time they have featured the showtunes bar Marie’s Crisis. Sigh, I remember when that place was a great New Yorker’s little secret and look at it now. But, I am at least grateful that they showed everyone singing ‘The Best of Times’ from la Cage Aux Folles.

Tries Special (Television Thoughts: Special, Netflix)

Poster_for_Netflix's_SpecialI watched the first episode of ‘Special’ on Netflix. I have some thoughts.

  1. I kind of didn’t like it. I know a lot of people love it, and I want to give it another chance, but my overall impression is just kind of meh. I really did not like the main character, Ryan (played by Ryan O ‘Connell, and I am assuming the show is based on his life)  and I thought that the minor characters were all unlikable as well. I thought the action seemed slow, and even though each episode only ran about fifteen minutes long, to me it felt longer – not always a good sign.
  2. But, I have not given up on this. I think maybe the show grows with each watch, and I have read that the situations do get more interesting. And I think this may be one of those shows that could be perfect as the last thing to watch before going to sleep.

To Bond (Television Thoughts: Bonding – first two episodes)

bonding-tv-poster-image0In a course of three days, I have had at least five people recommend the new Netflix series ‘Bonding’ to me. They said it was funny, worthwhile, and above all, easy to binge. At fifteen minutes an episode, it is easy to devour. You can watch the whole first season in less time than watching a Netflix movie. That part I liked. And it is kind of funny, as the series focuses on the friendship between Pete and Tiff (Brendan Scannell and Zoe Levin) She is a dominatrix, he is a neurotic stand up comic. I kind of dislike her character (too much posing for my taste) but think Pete is adorable. Two episodes in, I feel like I have had enough, so I stopped. But I think one of these days I will go back to it.

1973 (Television Thoughts: Glory S01 E04, Fosse/Verdon)

fosse-verdon.w700.h467‘Glory,’ the fourth episode in Fosse/Verdon focuses on 1973, that grand year when Bob Fosse had the triple grand slam achievement of winning the Oscar, the Tony, and the Emmy all on the same year. (His Oscar win was an upset over Francis Ford Coppola, who was favored to win for ‘The Godfather’)  But this episode paints him as some kind of tortured artist. We see him tortured about how ‘Cabaret’ is being received, we see him tortured about ‘Pippin,’ which is now in rehearsals – I loved the process of how they got to the Finale. And I guess he was probably also tortured about something in ‘Liza With A Z,’  though they only show the show in a monitor. I wish the show was more abotu the process – could you imagine if this was a Matthew Weiner show? We would have a whole episode on ‘Corner Of The Sky’ alone. But I get it, though. This isn’t the kind of show, and we do need to see the story move forward.

But what we have here is pretty engrossing. And whenever Michele Williams as Gwen comes on, I perk up. I love her intimate scenes with Joan Simon (who would die the same year from bone cancer) and I love the foreshadowing of Gwen seeing Ann Reinking in rehearsals, making a comment about her being so good she doesn’t need to bed Fosse to get a solo. But Fosse’s #metoo moments are really hard to watch in 2019 lens, although I am sure that happened all the time in 1973 and people did not wince.

 

Gwyneth (Television Thoughts: Fosse/Versdon S01E03: Me and My Baby)

fosse-verdon.w700.h700On the third episode of Fosse/Verdon (‘Me and My Baby’) we learn more about Gwen Verdon.  But let me just say again and again and again that Michele Williams is really nailing her interpretation of the character of Verdon. I know that the two ladies do not really look alike, but by God Williams really got the essence of Gwen Verdon and her performance makes the story richer, and in this episode, it was so vital and is responsible for the success. We get to know Verdon’s back story, how she overcame physical liabilities to be the dancer that she became. It also touched upon her being raped by a Hollywood Reporter writer, and how she bore a child that she later gave up to her parents. All of that interspersed with her marital problems with Bob Fosse made the woman fuller before my eyes. I have read these stories before, but to see it on screen surely gave it a very different impact.  We understand why she was so overprotective of her daughter – we understand perhaps why she held on to Fosse so much, how their tortured relationship endured despite all their problems. I love the series, and by the end when we see her triumph in ‘Can Can’ we are buoyed by the success – it made her journey deeper, and more rewarding.

Fosse was so tortured by the editing of the film ‘Cabaret’ that he really needed Verdon’s ‘take’ on what to do. It’s interesting to note him criticizing ‘Two Ladies,’ as I had also read that he hated Joel Grey and wanted all the Emcee’s scenes cut – Grey apparently intervened with producers and got his scenes reinstated. i wonder if we will see that in the series.

Strike A Fosse (Television Thoughts: Fosse Version Episodes 1 and 2)

Americans S4 Transit Shelter.inddDo we really need ‘Fosse/Verdon’ in our lives? Should this television series exist? We already have the film ‘All That Jazz’ and Fosse himself envisioned that film to be the representation of his legacy.  But I knew I was going to watch this show anyway, and I will be excited about it, because I am a show queen, and this is what show queens live for.

And the first two episodes are certainly rewarding. On the first, we get to see intricacies in how Fosse shot ‘Hey Big Spender’ in the film version of ‘Sweet Charity.’ And on the second episode, we see how they got to create ‘Who’s Got The Pain’ from ‘Damn Yankees.’ And the one thing that is constant in those two scenes – Gwen Verdon. We get to see that she is just as responsible for Fosse’s artistry as he is. He has his own vision, of course, but she helped make it come to life.

And Michele Williams is fantastic as Gwen Verdon. For some reason, she nails her, without making it look like she is cartooning her. We get the essence of the woman so authentically I sometimes forget that this is a woman playing her character. I had to get used to Sam Rockwell as Fosse, though, and that’s probably because Roy Scheider’s performance in the film is so ingrained in my brain. By the second episode, I warmed up to Rockwell, and I am pretty sure as the series goes on, I will be on board.

 

Reality Is A Musical (Television Thoughts: All Star Musicals, ITV)

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I chanced upon ‘All Star Musicals’ by chance. I started watching it and saw the names Elaine Paige, Kristen Chenoweth together and ding ding , of course, it will cause a show queen alert. I had never heard of the show, of course, even though there has already been one iteration of it. Basically, it’s like ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ but instead of ballroom dancing, they perform scenes from a musical. So, yeah, right up my alley. And it is hosted by my dear John Barrowman, an old crush if there ever was one (He still looks foine!)  and the show is so gay he opens it by performing a ‘Mary Poppins’ medley – interspersing ‘Put The Light Fantastic’ from ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ with songs fromt he original score. Well, that put a big smile on my face already! The show is off to a great start.

I wish I knew who these local British celebrities, though, and if I did, I think I would have enjoyed the show more. I know there were a couple of soap stars, a presenter, a money expert. But, consistently, the production values of all the numbers are top-notch, and the ensemble is first rate – one of the best I have seen – they were all very versatile as they maneuvered into the different numbers from different shows. They were the real winners in my opinion.

And of course, the ultimate highlight was the duet with Chenoweth and Paige doing ‘I Know Him SO Well.’  There were show queen orgasms everywhere when they finished their duet.

All in all, I look forward to if/when they do this again. And is it too much to ask for an American version of this?