15 MORE SHOWS WE LOVED THIS YEAR

NOW Magazine - - FREEWILL ASTROLOGY -

GREAT EN­SEM­BLE CASTS THESE FIVE SHOWS WERE STACKED WITH STELLAR TAL­ENT

My Bril­liant Friend (HBO Canada) In­stead of Hol­ly­wood-iz­ing this adap­ta­tion of the first vol­ume in Elena Fer­rante’s quar­tet about two work­ing-class girls grow­ing up in post­war Naples in the 50s and 60s, this at­mo­spheric se­ries did it right, cast­ing for au­then­tic­ity and tal­ent rather than in­ter­na­tional box-of­fice ap­peal. The two pairs of ac­tors play­ing fren­e­mies Elena and Lila (Elisa del Ge­nio and Lu­dovica Nasti as kids, Margherita Maz­zucco and Gaia Girace as teens) match up per­fectly, and ev­ery­one else – from Dora Ro­mano as their stern teacher to Emanuele Valenti as the wom­an­iz­ing poet Donato Sar­ra­tore – is as fleshed out and lay­ered as they are in the novel. Bring on book two!

GLENN SUMI Mo­saic (HBO Canada) Writ­ten by Ed Solomon and di­rected by Steven Soder­bergh, the six-part Mo­saic spins a com­plex story about a mur­der in a Utah re­sort town in 2012, and the reper­cus­sions that echo through the lives of the peo­ple in­volved four years later. The lim­ited se­ries – aired over a week in Jan­uary – as­sem­bled a top-flight cast, with leads Gar­rett Hed­lund, Sharon Stone, Fred­er­ick Weller, Devin Ra­tray and Jen­nifer Fer­rin sup­ported by Paul Reubens, Michael Cerveris, Beau Bridges and oth­ers. The story is twisty, but you’ll come away ad­mir­ing the idio­syn­cratic per­for­mance, and how ev­ery­one has the chance to do so much more than de­liver ex­pos­i­tory di­a­logue. NW Ter­race House (Net­flix) Not much hap­pens on this Ja­panese re­al­ity se­ries and that’s kind of the point. Six strangers live to­gether in a house, go about their reg­u­lar daily lives and try to find ro­mance. But there’s no prize, and con­tes­tants can leave the show when­ever they want. So why bother watch­ing? It’s com­fort­ing. Noth­ing bad hap­pens and the pace is slow enough to read sub­ti­tles. The cast is the op­po­site of Jer­sey Shore’s crass denizens, and that’s what most of us need now. MICHELLE DA SILVA Bet­ter Call Saul (AMC) Michael McKean may have de­parted the show at the end of last sea­son, but Bet­ter Call Saul con­tin­ues to boast one of the best casts in tele­vi­sion. The se­cret is that showrun­ners Vince Gil­li­gan and Pe­ter Gould treat each char­ac­ter as the star of his or her own story: Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill might be the of­fi­cial lead, but the se­ries has plenty of time to let Rhea See­horn’s Kim Wexler, Jonathan Banks’s Mike Ehrmantraut and Michael Mando’s Na­cho Varga have a turn in the spot­light, deal­ing with their own crises as the story creeps closer and closer to the events of Break­ing Bad. Gian­carlo Es­pos­ito hasn’t had his show­case yet, but his ruth­less Al­bu­querque drug lord Gus Fring is ac­tu­ally more un­set­tling just loom­ing in the back­ground. NW Suc­ces­sion (HBO Canada) Suc­ces­sion is a dram­edy about a tox­i­cally dys­func­tional fam­ily locked in a Shake­spear­ian bat­tle over stocks at a Fox News-like me­dia con­glom­er­ate. The show gawks at the priv­i­lege and ex­cess of the ti­tans who lay out ta­bles for the one per cent to come and feed. That we can’t help but get in­vested in their self­ish, cyn­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions is tes­ta­ment to the ab­sorb­ing and com­plex per­for­mances by Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Brian Cox (among so many oth­ers). RS

VERY 2018 THESE SHOWS WERE PLUGGED INTO THE MO­MENT

Di­et­land (AMC) Plum (Joy Nash, in­fin­itely re­lat­able) works for teen fash­ion mag­a­zine Daisy Chain(!) ghost-writ­ing re­sponses to let­ters to the ed­i­tor (Ju­lianna Mar­gulies, glo­ri­ously in­fu­ri­at­ing). Plum is on the verge of hav­ing stom­ach-sta­ple surgery, but in re­sponse to a fat-sham­ing cul­ture con­sid­ers join­ing Jen­nifer, a ter­ror­ist cell that’s been off­ing sex­u­ally abu­sive men. Crazy, right? The tone of this fem­i­nist man­i­festo swings wildly from tragic to satiric to plain bat­shit but that’s ex­actly what makes it so ir­re­sistible. See it, love it and pray it gets a sec­ond sea­son.

SU­SAN G. COLE BoJack Horse­man (Net­flix) Raphael Bob-Waks­berg’s sear­ing Hol­ly­wood satire con­tin­ues to ad­dress the present day with un­nerv­ing speed. A hot­but­ton episode tack­led the celebrity come­back tour in the age of #MeToo, with Bobby Can­navale voic­ing an ac­tor who’s honed his of­fend-and-apol­o­gize cy­cle to cyn­i­cal per­fec­tion. The new sea­son dropped just weeks af­ter Louis CK’s sur­prise re­turn to stand-up – you hon­estly couldn’t have asked for bet­ter tim­ing. But BoJack has al­ways been cul­tur­ally on point, with Will Ar­nett’s shal­low, de­pres­sive sort-of-hero ei­ther chas­ing the next trend or pre-emp­tively declar­ing it stupid – while Al­i­son Brie’s fallen jour­nal­ist, Diane Nguyen, churns out lis­ti­cles for a hip­ster web mag­a­zine that repack­ages su­per­fi­cial nos­tal­gia and celebrity gos­sip as cut­ting-edge con­tent. Nah, that’s not an in­dict­ment of 2018 at all. NW Who Is Amer­ica? (Show­time/Crave) Pres­i­dent Trump has co-opted the so­cial me­dia ac­tivism tac­tics of marginal­ized groups, so it was sat­is­fy­ing to watch Sacha Baron Co­hen use the right’s racist and ho­mo­pho­bic fear­mon­ger­ing against it­self in his TV come­back. Play­ing five char­ac­ters, Co­hen skew­ers tone-deaf con­ser­va­tives and lib­er­als. While many bits fall back on Co­hen’s usual bait­ing of politi­cians and celebs, the best – a PSA for arm­ing tod­dlers with guns, a pro­posal to build a mosque in a de­pressed Ari­zona town and a quinceañera that al­most got two Trump sup­port­ers ar­rested – are mem­o­rable, funny and dis­turb­ing. Yes, we know Amer­ica has a prob­lem with ex­trem­ism but this show il­lus­trates the depths of fear and ig­no­rance. KR The Deuce (HBO Canada) Al­le­ga­tions made against James Franco in a post-We­in­stein land­scape per­haps made this show about early days of porn in 70s New York easy to ig­nore – by au­di­ences and awards vot­ers. That’s too bad since few other shows cur­rently on tele­vi­sion grap­ple with the ex­ploita­tion and vi­o­lence women con­stantly face. In The Deuce’s sec­ond sea­son, Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal con­tin­ues her phe­nom­e­nal work as Candy, the sex worker turned porn di­rec­tor who has the tragic re­al­iza­tion that johns and movie ex­ecs share a lot in com­mon. RS

Wild Wild Coun­try (Net­flix)

Ma­clain Way and Chap­man Way’s ad­dic­tive doc­u­men­tary is about a se­ries of events in the early 1980s, but its un­der­ly­ing so­cial ten­sions could be ripped from to­day’s head­lines. The show re­counts the story of how a free-love cult led by guru Bhag­wan Shree Ra­jneesh cre­ated a mas­sive com­mu­nity for fol­low­ers on a 65,000-acre ranch in Ore­gon. A con­flict with con­ser­va­tive towns­peo­ple quickly es­ca­lates into vi­o­lence and le­gal ma­noeu­ver­ing that even­tu­ally en­snares fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. The twists and turns are tabloid-level sen­sa­tional, but ul­ti­mately the se­ries is a por­trait of peo­ple long­ing to es­cape the op­pres­sive grind of monogamy and cap­i­tal­ism, and the lengths au­thor­i­ties will go to pro­tect the plain-as-day fa­cade of the Amer­i­can dream. KR

CANA­DIAN DOC SE­RIES THESE FIVE SHOWS PROVED HOME­GROWN NON-FIC­TION IS ALIVE AND WELL In The Mak­ing (CBC)

The CBC’s first in-depth artist pro­file show in nearly two decades gets in­ti­mate ac­cess to some of the coun­try’s best work­ing artists – in­clud­ing Lido Pimienta, Adrian Stim­son, Dana Michel, Crys­tal Pite, Chilly Gon­za­les and Shel­ley Niro – as they cre­ate new work at home and abroad. Many artists are ret­i­cent to throw open their cre­ative process and it’s no won­der given the some­times in­tensely per­sonal and emo­tional mo­ments that can arise (see the re­mark­able Stim­son episode). Hosted by Sean O’Neill, In The Mak­ing dis­tills a lot of the so­cio-po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions Cana­dian artists are grap­pling with into an ac­ces­si­ble, beau­ti­fully shot and en­light­en­ing se­ries. Fingers crossed for sea­son two. KR

Hip-Hop Evo­lu­tion (Net­flix)

There were le­git crit­i­cisms of this mu­sic doc’s first sea­son: it told the same New York-led ori­gin story hip-hop heads are used to, and it over­looked fe­male artists. But in trav­el­ling into the golden age, the four-part sea­son two gets charis­matic-ashell in­ter­views from leg­ends like KRS-One, Q-Tip and Rox­anne Shante, de­votes a seg­ment to Queen Lat­i­fah’s Ladies First (the first all-women posse cut) and ex­plores early re­gional scenes in Texas and the Bay. It’s like an al­ter­nate his­tory of Amer­ica, al­beit one told by Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing rap­per/host Shad. RICHARD TRAPUNSKI

From The Vaults (CBC)

Af­ter more than six decades of tele­vi­sion, CBC has a se­ri­ous chunk of mu­sic his­tory in its vaults (take a tour of them on page 22). Many of its per­for­mances and in­ter­views are col­lec­tors’ holy grails, many un­seen since their air dates. Banger Films’ six-part From The Vaults fi­nally re-broad­casts them, from leg­ends like Leonard Co­hen,Jackie Mit­too, Os­car Peter­son and Buffy Sainte-Marie. It’s also a crash course in the his­tory of Cana­dian mu­sic, and of­ten more so, of the na­tional broad­caster it­self. RT

True North: In­side The Rise of Toronto Bas­ket­ball (NFB/Red Bull/YouTube)

We’re liv­ing in a Cana­dian bas­ket­ball boom, and Toronto, once known as a hockey town and a hockey town only, is at the cen­tre of it. Be­yond the rise of the Rap­tors, there’s a new wave of renowned bas­ket­ball pro­grams train­ing play­ers from the high school level and ear­lier, sud­denly pro­duc­ing NBA stars. The in­ti­mate nine-part True North fol­lows a few of the young hope­fuls (in­clud­ing one very hyped 12-year-old), along with their coaches and par­ents, as they strive to be the next. Think: Cana­dian Hoop Dreams. RT

Farm Crime (CBC Dig­i­tal)

In­spired by that time some­one stole $18 mil­lion of maple syrup in Que­bec, Ge­off Mor­ri­son’s web se­ries is a true-crime show with an agri­cul­tural twist, zip­ping across Canada telling tales of blue­berry bur­glars, hon­ey­bee heists, con­tem­po­rary cat­tle rustlers and more – and treat­ing the sto­ries re­spect­fully and with in­tel­li­gence. (A crime is a crime, and the most dis­turb­ing story in the se­ries – a Nova Sco­tia live­stock thief who butchered an­i­mals on a free-range farm – doesn’t shy away from the psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact of the act on the peo­ple who found the car­casses.) If it were a pod­cast, it’d be a huge hit; in­stead, it’s a col­lec­tion of 15-minute doc­u­men­taries just wait­ing to be watched. NW

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