Agatha Christie, BBC, Charles Dickens, Daleks, David Copperfield, David Suchet, Doctor Who, Life, marriage, Masterpiece Theater, Miss Marple, Poirot, Stephen Moffat, Summer, TV watching, Wes Anderson, Woody Allen
Actually, it started as a W.A. summer, which meant my wife and I were able to re-watch all the Wes Anderson films we wanted, but since we were not able to get out for Moonrise Kingdom (finding a babysitter for two little ones like ours is always difficult) and I didn’t particularly want to see Bottle Rocket again, we are onto Woody Allen.
While others complain about the amount of reality shows and reruns on each summer, my wife and I have tapped into “summer theme watching” as an opportunity to explore the things we did not have time for during the rest of the year, our TV-watching bucket list if you will.
This W.A./Woody Allen summer is the third theme summer we have had, as corny as the premise of this all sounds—Does it make us sound like one of those overly cute couples that do everything together? We might be guilty of that in some ways.—the fact is it has been really great for us.
Latching onto a theme that becomes the basis for 80 percent of our summer watching, gives us a discussion topic for the summer dinners. It is like we are part of our own little club. We aren’t having another general discussion about the kids or politics or local news, but we are discussing the things we liked and didn’t like about what we watched the night before; not repeating info to each other, but actually sharing our educated well-thought out opinions.
Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t (and aren’t the conversations when you don’t always a little more interesting?). Whatever the case, I am loving this new tradition in our household. Here are three themes we have done already. Maybe they will inspire your own in your household.
The Charles Dickens Summer
Each year, there seems to be a new miniseries on the BBC and Masterpiece Theater of a Charles Dickens classic. It is so like clockwork and predictable it is almost cliché—Heck in 2012, they even did The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and for those that know the actual unfinished book that is quite a stretch—but how good they are is always a little debatable. It seems to me whenever the adapter decides to take the story a different place, the work can collapse around itself.
What can I say? Charles Dickens was a master storyteller who was an expert like no other in juggling numerous storylines and characters at the same time. You have to trust him a little, he knew what he was doing.
My favorite TV finds from the summer were the miniseries of Little Dorrit and David Copperfield (which introduced us to a young Harry Potter). The biggest shock I had is no one (NO ONE) has done a good version of A Tale of Two Cities yet.
That floors me!
Heck, I even at one point wrote how that is a work I would love to adapt for the big screen, but I assumed someone, somewhere did a good version of it already.
That and Dombey and Son are demanding an adaptation… Oh, and my favorite film is the recent version of Nicholas Nickleby; just a wonderful adaptation, but not surprising since it is the same filmmaker that did Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Agatha Christie Summer
Originally, this was to be a musical/mystery summer. See, my hope was to get my wife into Sherlock Holmes more, and I was going to work my way around to 221 B Baker Street via some smooth dance moves (Show a few musicals and then say it is time for some classic Basil Rathbone’s Hound of the Baskervilles), but we got distracted along the way and suddenly our summer was taken over by Mrs. Christie and her humongous pile of mystery tales; our main focus was on the mysteries created in the last decade or so for Masterpiece Mystery and the BBC.
Now while I loved Geraldine McEwan’s vision for Miss Marple (even though many complain it is not accurate to the book version), my big surprise from the summer was Poirot. I became obsessed with the character, especially as portrayed by David Suchet.
Mr. Suchet has been performing this character since 1989, and it would take many, many summers to catch up on all those outings of the Belgium detective. His performance is awe-inspiring and never dull, even after all these years. If you get a chance watch an episode and just watch his eyes. You can see everything there, from Poriot putting something together to his confusion to his anger to his joy. Suchet embodies the character so completely, he breathes through him.
…and, I must admit, I follow the actor now on Twitter, now and then scanning his messages for any hints on the new (and final) episodes he will be filming as the Belgium detective with the little gray cells.
The Woody Allen Summer
I have always been obsessed with Woody Allen, and there seems to be a Woody Allen film for each of the moods I might fall into. I have written before about my favorite films of Mr. Allen (here), but when my wife stated that she wanted a Woody Allen summer so she could see as many of his films as possible; well, she reminded me at that moment why I married this brilliant and insightful woman.
So far it has been fun, like taking my wife on a tour of my favorite museum; pointing out the exhibits I find the most fascinating: “…and over here we have The Purple Rose of Cairo.”
Now there are definitely Woody Allen films I don’t feel especially excited about revisiting, Husbands and Wives, September, and Deconstructing Harry jump quickly to mind; but there are so many I have missed like a friend I haven’t contacted in years.
Now here is a question for the film distributors out there: Why is there not a big beautiful Blu-ray box set of of Woody Allen films yet?
Right now I am leaning towards a Doctor Who summer. A lot of our friends keep recommending the new version of Doctor Who, and I am a big fan of the writing of Steven Moffat (Coupling and Sherlock are a heck of a lot of fun with smart writing), but… Okay, I need to say this… I admit, I find Daleks ridiculous.
Daleks are supposed to be terrifying and I just don’t get it. This fact is they are what threw me off the last time I tried to watch Doctor Who, but I probably could have tried harder to be scared by the upside down trash cans… But… Have you seen the Daleks? I mean.. Sigh… I just don’t get.
But the angel statues did give me nightmares.
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