I'll probably be labeled a terrible dad for admitting this, but there has been a lot of television watching in my daughter's three years of life. I know you aren’t supposed to watch TV with your children - you’ll rot their brains and all that. I know you are supposed to spend your days playing and educating and showing them the love of nature and all that. We do those things, too. On nice days we go outside, take walks, climb trees, trundle down slides, and explore the woods next to our house. On rainy, cold days we read, color pictures, build giant block towers and hide under the blankets from terrible green monsters.
And yes, we watch TV and movies. When she was younger, I’d watch things I was interested in including zombie movies, foreign flicks, and I’d binge out on Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and any other TV show I’d missed over the years. She’d lay by my side sucking on a bottle, playing with her toys, or sleeping peacefully (ten minutes at a time) while I watched anything I wanted. As she got older, and more able to understand what was happening on the screen I had to switch from the living dead rippling the flesh off of young buxoms and Don Draper terrifying the 1960s to something more age appropriate.
PBS saved my life. During the day, it's nothing but entertaining, educational, marvelously produced children’s programming. I tried not to let her watch too much on any given day, but it sure was nice to be able to put something on that I knew was good programming and commercial free while I grabbed a quick shower or cooked dinner. In the evening hours, I knew I could turn PBS on and catch really good programming that me and the wife could enjoy and that wouldn’t cause the girl to have nightmares.
I’ve talked about my love for PBS before and now I’m starting to sound like a commercial. For someone who doesn’t pay for cable and whose internet connection is too crappy to handle Netflix, PBS really has been a fantastic resource. But I’ll stop gushing now.
The thing is somewhere over the last year we kind of stopped watching their evening programming. I’m not sure exactly why. Where we once used to see what the local affiliate was showing whenever we turned on the TV, I now tend to just pop in a DVD, preferring to watch a movie or binge watch a TV show rather than check out Nova, Nature, or Masterpiece. Again, I’m not entirely sure why. It may be that I’m ready to sit down with a little television earlier then I used to be, which puts me during the News Hour (which I’ve completely given up on) or that I’m hitting it at the in-between hours and I don’t want to start something in the middle. Whatever the reason, the end result has been less PBS, which means I’ve missed a lot of great TV.
This brings me (in the most long winded of ways) to the Pick of the Week. In truth I know very little about Mr. Selfridge. It has not received the sort of buzz that shows like Downton Abbey or Sherlock have received, but the few folks I know who have seen it say nice things. Jeremy Piven is a very good actor and it is a rare thing indeed that Masterpiece programs aren’t very well made and very easy to watch. I’ve caught but bits and pieces of it from time to time and its not been something that I can easily get into in that the scenes I’ve seen don’t make me want to watch anymore, but that’s not necessarily a detriment. Plenty of shows need to be seen from the beginning.
Okay, I just looked at the basic plot lines and I have to admit it is nothing like I thought it would be. For some reason I assumed Mr. Selfridge was some kind of a showman and the program would be about the trials and tribulations of keeping his nightclub going. Turns out its all about the opening of a giant department store in London. That’s not exactly a dynamite concept but I defer to the excellent quality Masterpiece has given us all in the past and hope they can pull this off.
For a week like this, that’s enough to get my pick. Also out that looks interesting:
Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series: I’ve never seen a moment of this cop drama. But it one a whole bunch of Emmys and is generally considered groundbreaking and one of the best series ever made, so I’m ready to give it a shot. This package comes with every single episode, a couple of making-of features, interviews with the cast, gag reels, a 24-page book and commentaries.
Gimme Shelter: Vanessa Hudgens as a teenage girl who runs away from her drug-addicted mom in search of her wealthy father who she’s never known.
Il Sorpasso (Criterion Collection): Italian road comedy that I’ve never heard of get the Criterion treatment.
Father Brown: The Complete Collection: I’ve just started reading G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories and they really are quite delightful. I think they’ve made several TV versions of the beloved character. Kenneth Moore stars in this 1974 version.
Allman Brothers/40: 40th Anniversary Show Live at the Beacon Theatre: I’m not a huge ABB fan but no doubt they got chops and its pretty amazing they lasted this long.