Monthly Archives: April 2024


Best TV shows of the 21st century


Disclaimers:  A) This list is fiction only; no news, no documentaries, no reality TV.  B)  There are some conspicuous titles missing, not because I think they are undeserving; I simply haven’t seen them. These include shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and Mad MenC)  Most shows on the list were superb from start to finish. A couple (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Black Mirror) are on the list for their early seasons only.  D)  These are my preferences — not a critics’ consensus, not your list, just my favorites. Here’s my list, in no particular order:


The Shield


The Shield: Two scenes stick with me, 20 years after I first watched them, on this cop drama that aired on FX at the beginning of what we now call Peak TV. The first scene is the rape of an authority figure (Captain Aceveda), who is forced to literally bend the knee to a very bad man (“Mum,” season three). The second scene is the defilement of an innocent little girl, which we don’t see but can imagine simply from seeing a dove tattoo inked onto her cheek (“The Quick Fix,” season two). The scenes are a reminder that evil can touch anyone, the weak and the powerful — which also happens to be the show’s main theme.


Curb Your Enthusiasm


Curb Your Enthusiasm: The best comedy I saw in the 2000s — although after the first few seasons, it gradually lost its sharpness. My comments here.


Game of Thrones: See my recent review here.


Breaking Bad: There have been many great crime dramas. This is the best of the best. My review here.


The Crown: It’s soap opera, sure, but delicious soap opera about Britain’s royal family.


Doc Martin


Doc Martin: Here we have The Andy Griffith Show for the 21st century. By the way, that’s a compliment.


Black Mirror: When it transitioned its creative base from England to Netflix, its quality dropped. So, its deterioration is Netflix’s fault. But when it was good, early on, it was very good.




Rectify: This wouldn’t be much of a list if it didn’t include at least one great show of which you probably haven’t heard. Aden Young starred as an ex-convict who attempts to adjust to life on the outside after serving his sentence. The adjective “absorbing” was invented just for this drama. My review here.


Honorable Mention


Shows with flashes of genius, but which were not consistently great: Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Rescue Me, Louie.




Sometimes you feel like taking a break from the real news, and instead becoming TMZ:



I realize that the incident on a New Mexico film set was deadly business. But aside from that, I always find hothead Alec Baldwin’s misadventures with paparazzi and the public oddly entertaining. Possibly it’s the enraged expression on his face.





It’s got to be culture shock for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes when he has to go from placing his hands on wife Brittany’s shapely derriere (orange bikini, above) to placing his hands between the legs of some beefy center on the line of scrimmage.





I’m not at all sure to whom these pictures are meant to appeal. Sydney Sweeney fans? Man haters? Clothed Female Naked Man fetishists? At any rate, she seems to enjoy ogling this dude’s nutsack and/or ass.


 © 2010-2024 (text only)


by James Herriot


I was seeking relief from the anxiety, tumult, and horror that is politics in 2024. So, when I read the adjectives “warm” and “joyful” in the blurbs for All Creatures Great and Small, I was hoping they weren’t some book publicist’s hyperbole.

Happily, they are not.

Creatures is a series of 67 short stories depicting the life of a young veterinarian in rural Yorkshire, England, in the late 1930s. Real-life vet James Herriot slightly embellishes his encounters with denizens of the countryside in stories that are sometimes sad, often hilarious, but always entertaining. If that sounds a bit sappy, rest assured it is not.

The vignettes are richly varied. In one, Herriot meets a rich man whose wife and daughters hold contempt for him; on the same day, he visits a dirt-poor farmer whose young daughter venerates her father. Which of the two men has a better life?

In another tale, an elderly widower loses his best and only friend: an old dog that Herriot cannot save.

But the majority of the stories are funny. Herriot’s life with his boss and a co-worker — two eccentric, bickering brothers — is a treasure trove of humorous episodes. And then there are the farmers: variously obstinate, inarticulate, hostile, friendly, or admirable.

I highly recommend this book. I would call it “warm” and “joyful.”



 © 2010-2024 (text only)



So Many Questions …


I recall being told, back when Republicans took the House of Representatives, that it was great news for the right because the House “controls the purse strings.” Theoretically, the House could shut down any cockamamie proposals pushed by Democrats by simply refusing to pay for them.

Uhhh … that doesn’t seem to be happening.

My question: Is House Speaker Mike Johnson just as bad (or weak, or corrupt) as predecessor Kevin McCarthy when it comes to reining in the left?




It seems that Republicans in Congress are no better than the Democrats. It seems that we are royally screwed. Especially if the country votes to re-elect this delusional clown:





If Trump is convicted in New York and ordered not to leave the state, does that mean that one presidential candidate will be campaigning from Trump Tower and the other from Biden’s basement?




I waited five years after the conclusion of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but due to popular demand, here at last is my review of it. (Spoiler alert: the dwarf does not end up on the throne.)




Just in case you were wondering whatever happened to the crazy lady who alarmed fellow airplane passengers about a man who “wasn’t real.”



That’s what I call milking your 15 minutes of fame.



 © 2010-2024 (text only)



OK, so I’m a bit late to the party with Game of Thrones. The show ended its run in 2019. But I was curious to find out what the fuss was about, so I spent the past four months binge-watching all 73 episodes.

I had read the first installment of George R.R. Martin’s celebrated Thrones novels years ago. I thought it was OK, but not so good that I wanted to continue reading the books. When it came to fantasy literature, I preferred The Once and Future King, or even the Harry Potter novels.

But HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s books was a cultural phenomenon. And I had missed out (I did see season 1).

In December of last year, I decided it was time for me to check out the entire series.


Click on any picture for a larger view


Main takeaways: It is a very good show. Not my all-time favorite, which remains Breaking Bad, but it’s probably in my top ten; possibly in my top five. Also, the much-maligned eighth and final season was fine. More on that later. Impressions:


1)  Let’s face it. The story is silly. Very silly. It has fire-breathing dragons, witches, giants, and vampire-like ice people. The miracle is that all this fantasy silliness lives in harmony with character-driven scenes in which actors deliver clever, occasionally profound dialogue. There are so many larger-than-life personalities in play, and we know it’s just a matter of time before they clash.

It’s this riveting soap opera that makes the series so addictive — even though the dragons are a hoot. 


2)  Season eight’s episode titled “The Bells” is essentially a 60-minute fight scene. Normally, I get bored with fight scenes before 60 seconds elapse.

Too many shows conflate deafening sound effects, speed-of-light edits, and swirling camera angles with “action.” They are not good action. It’s annoying chaos when you cannot tell who is who, what is what, where is where, and when is when.

To this episode’s credit, I was absorbed for the entire hour. Thrones is exceptionally good about this in most of its action scenes.


3)  I am going to defend season eight as a whole. I thought it was fine. I’m thinking a lot of fans were disappointed by the ending because their favored characters did not wind up on the throne. If you loved Arya and Arya wound up ruling the seven (or six) kingdoms, you’d probably be fine with season eight. Ditto for Jon Snow, Daenerys, et. al.

Season eight also had satisfying wrap-ups for most of the show’s major characters.


King’s Landing


4)  Much of the CGI in Game of Thrones looked fake, including King’s Landing castles, and the dragons, but I didn’t care. Ray Harryhausen’s skeleton soldiers in 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts also looked fake, but I enjoyed them anyway.


5)  The themes were timeless. If you follow politics in 2024, you will recognize many of the same issues and characters in fictional Westeros that we see on the daily news. Are things better with men in charge, or women? How much democracy is too much democracy? Is blood really thicker than water? Are the White Walkers a metaphor for climate change? Would you shoot your abusive father while he is sitting on the john?


6) All the gratuitous nudity. Call me old fashioned, or call me a chauvinist pig, but I appreciate that the naked ladies looked like real naked ladies from any historical time period — save the last 30 years. Medieval broads did not have Life Time Fitness. They did not have abs or pecs. They were soft and cuddly.


7) Season eight was heavily criticized for abandoning the show’s leisurely pace. But if I had a complaint about earlier seasons, it was that some of the plotlines tended to drag. I am thinking of Arya’s endless apprenticeship as “a girl.” I am thinking of Daenerys’s reign in the continent of Essos. For the most part, Bran’s journey was a bore (the three-eyed fucking raven?).


8)  Too often, when the good guys are suddenly surrounded by bad guys, or even armies, and things look dire, they are rescued at the last minute by allies with perfect timing. You can get by with that sort of deus ex machina occasionally, but it happens a lot in Thrones.


Overall, Game of Thrones was an excellent show. Its dark moments were often shocking. Its action sequences were well done. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss took a lot of shit for, allegedly, letting down fans in the show’s later seasons. I think they did a bang-up job. A better job than George R.R. Martin in the first book.

I’m going to miss Game of Thrones. Is it my favorite show of all time? No. Does it make my top ten? Definitely. In my top five? Hmmm, maybe. Ask me again in a few years.



Favorite duo:  Arya and “The Hound” (above)


Character I was supposed to love, but did not:  Jorah Mormont



Character I disliked at first. But much like his waistline, he grew on me:  Samwell Tarly (above)


Best villain: Can’t list all of them. But here are my top five: Cersei Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Ramsay Bolton, Walder Frey



Glue holding the entire series together:  Tyrion Lannister (above), of course


Best nudes:  Because I have little interest in Hodor’s crowbar or Peter’s dinklage, I’m focusing on Thrones’s actresses.


Honorable Mentions:


Carice van Houten (above) was not shy about showing her goods — all of them


Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, Oona (above) in a cheeky scene


Hottest Nudes


Nathalie Emmanuel front (above) and back (below)



Emilia Clarke (above and below), who was every (male’s) queen




Airdates: 2011-2019   Grade: A-



 © 2010-2024 (text only)




Many years ago, when I was a lowly college student, I was walking with my roommate to a bar in downtown St. Cloud, Minnesota. As we progressed, we approached a group of people, two men and their two female dates.

As we passed the foursome, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. My glasses went flying. Without halting and without any exchange of words, one of the dudes had punched me in the nose.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement.

So, I can relate to the women being randomly punched on city streets.

However, aside from our gender, there is one key difference between my random assault and theirs: I didn’t vote for it.

These young women, living in New York City and most likely liberal, probably voted for policies like sanctuary cities and jail reform. Now they are learning the consequences of their votes.




Like much of America, I got caught up in the hype over Caitlin Clark and wound up watching not one, but two women’s college basketball games.

It was entertaining.

Because I am an avowed dirty old man, I couldn’t help but notice Clark teammate Gabbie Marshall and a former player named Kelsey Plum, who was watching one game from the stands.

Marshall and Plum might not have Clark’s star power, but I discovered that they do have Instagram pages:


Gabbie Marshall






Kelsey Plum watching the game


When a girl poses for a photo like the one above, she does realize that the focus of attention is her bum, does she not?


April must be camel-toe month at The Weekly Review (see last week).




Israel versus Everyone Else in the Middle East


Like most people on the Internet, I like to have opinions on current events.

But as for Israel and its enemies in the Middle East … I don’t have a clue.

I give up. You tell me.


 © 2010-2024 (text only)



For most of my life, I’ve wondered about the good fortune of living in America. How could we have it so good, when so many parts of the world were so miserable? I always thought that the solution — or at least some semblance of a solution — depended on a combination of two things: charity to those countries most in need of it, and determined, results-driven diplomacy. In other words, raise the rest of the world up to the West’s standard of living.

Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect that there was such a powerful force, the global elites, plotting to achieve world parity by lowering the West’s standard of living to match the rest of the world. But that seems to be where we are.




Ranking The Traitors


I haven’t gotten this addicted to a TV show since I discovered Pawn Stars 12 years ago. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I have now watched all available (on Peacock) episodes of the first two seasons of The Traitors — British, United States, and Australia versions. I am currently immersed in season one of Traitors New Zealand.

For the uninitiated, all versions of this global phenomenon follow a similar formula. The format is basically Clue mixed with courtroom drama. Each night, one player is murdered; each evening, the Faithfuls attempt to unmask and banish Traitors at a contentious round-table meeting.

This is how I rank the versions:



Best — the U.K. version. I realize that many viewers love their reality-TV stars, but there is nothing quite like the genuine emotions expressed by the cast of “normies” on England’s Traitors. The potential prize money affects them more; their fellow contestants affect them more. They are not jaded celebrities playing the game just to get airtime. The result is television gold.




Second Best — United States version. If you’re unfamiliar with the “real housewives” on Bravo, or the stars of shows like Survivor or Big Brother, you might be underwhelmed by the cast. But the setting (a Scottish castle) and challenges are near-identical to its British cousin, which is a good thing. Host Alan Cumming has a large fan base, but to me he’s second to the U.K.’s Claudia Winkleman, who is Morticia Addams come to life.




Third Best — Australia version. The setting is different (an elegant, country hotel), but the host, players, and challenges are consistently amusing. What sets it apart the most, in my opinion, is that Australia’s Faithfuls are often mind-numbingly stupid — but endearingly so.




Worst — New Zealand’s version. The setting, a country lodge, is unimpressive. The players, who all seem to be radio hosts who know each other, are uninteresting. I dislike the pompous host. Everything seems to be a cheap knockoff of the shows from England, U.S., and Australia.





No question about which version of The Traitors has the hottest winner. (Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Australia’s season one.)

Twenty-six-year-old Alexandra Duggan (above), a lesbian, took home the grand prize in Australia’s first season by, in part, charming the pants off her male castmates.



In the videos below, Alex charms the pants off The Grouchy Editor by sporting a string bikini and … oh, my. That looks like a camel toe in the first video, does it not?





Perhaps J.K. Rowling could avoid social-media squabbles with progressives if she would simply sign off on her posts with her initials.

For example: “You people are nothing but a motley collection of boobs and arses — JK!”


 © 2010-2024 (text only)



A Haunting in Venice


Alfred Hitchcock said that he did not make “mystery” movies because, unlike his preferred plotlines, whodunits rely more on logic than suspense. Hitchcock chose to feed information to his audience and then keep it on tenterhooks, anxious not about who the killer was, but on when or how the bad guy would strike.

Kenneth Branagh, starring in and directing his third adaptation of an Agatha Christie whodunit, seems to realize that Hitchcock was correct. A Haunting in Venice, in which Branagh once again plays the indomitable Hercule Poirot, swaps suspense for atmosphere. But oh, what atmosphere!

The plot: A cast of typical Christie characters are stranded in a cavernous Venetian palazzo during a storm and, following a séance, learn there is a murderer in their midst. Poirot must unmask the villain while simultaneously battling odd visions. Is he fighting an ordinary criminal or is the supernatural at work?

Not every plot element holds up to inspection, but Venice has never looked lovelier — or creepier. Release: 2023  Grade: B+


Would I watch it again? Eventually, yes.


© 2010-2024 (text only)