Category: TV

TV series review: The Fall

By , January 10, 2014

The Fall. Series 1
Created by Allan Cubitt

Scully* is back and she totally kills it in the new BBC crime drama The Fall!

Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is called away from London to  review the handling of a murder investigation led by police in Northern Ireland. Gibson quickly finds procedural mistakes, and evidence that another recent murder may make this the work of a serial killer.  When yet another victim is discovered, Gibson is put in charge of the investigation.

The Fall is not a whodunnit.  From the very first episode you know who is doing the killing.  Irish actor Jamie Dornan portrays Paul Spector  – a married father of two, who works part-time as a grief counselor and full-time as a murdering psychopath.  An interesting subplot in The Fall involves corruption on the police force, which ends (slight spoiler here) in a very shocking scene at the precinct…  And since this series is set in Belfast, the past political tensions of Northern Ireland are a subtext to the unfolding events.

Fans of Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in TV series Prime Suspect will especially be interested in The Fall.  And for those who are waiting for the Fifty Shades of Grey film,  you’ll want to watch Jamie Dornan in The Fall to experience his potential to play that troubled, dark character Christian Grey.

So check out The Fall, and lets talk after you see the finale! Season 2 is scheduled  to begin filming in February.



*I know Gillian Anderson isn’t Scully.  I’m paying tribute to a gag featured on SNL when Ron Howard hosted an episode in the early 80′s.  In one sketch Eddie Murphy kept referring to him as  Opie Cunningham, much to Mr. Howard’s chagrin.  And while we’re on topic, why hasn’t Gillian Anderson ever hosted SNL?  Let’s all write to Lorne Michaels!

TV series review: Family Tree

By , December 13, 2013

Family Tree. The complete first season.
Created by Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock.

Yikes!  We’re right in the midst of Holiday Season 2013.  If you’re looking for something to pass the time during those more awkward family gatherings, I highly recommend a group viewing of the mockumentary series Family Tree. (The family that laughs together, stays together, am I right?)

The plot revolves around Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd), a 30 year old Englishman who’s hit a bit of bad luck.  Not only has Tom lost his job, his girlfriend unceremoniously dumped him.  When he inherits a box of family heirlooms from a recently departed great aunt, Tom decides to research his family tree.

That’s all you really need to know to start watching the series.  But let me gush a bit about the outstanding cast!  Michael McKean sports a great Cockney accent as Tom’s father, Nina Conti incorporates her deadpan ventriloquist skills as Tom’s eccentric sister, actor Tom Bennett provides a little Mighty Boosh-inspired humor as character Tom’s best friend Pete the zookeeper, and series creators Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock both appear in hilarious supporting roles; Guest as an American cousin, and Piddock as a London antiques dealer.  Guest project regulars Ed Begley Jr. and Fred Willard enter the action when Tom travels to Los Angeles to meet his American cousins.

While watching Family Tree it occurred to me the series tickles the same funny bone that both  Modern Family and perennial holiday favorite  National Lampoon’ s Christmas Vacation hit every time I watch them.  Everyone’s family ranks on the offbeat scale, and that’s why movies and TV series featuring families can be so entertaining.

Enjoy the rest of Holiday Season 2013.  Have fun, be safe, and above all, be good to one another.  May 2014 be our best year yet!




DVD review: Top of the Lake

By , December 10, 2013

Top of the Lake

If you need more evidence that cream of the crop dramatic narrative lives in series TV these days and not movies, look no further than the miniseries Top of the Lake. The latest project from New Zealand auteur Jane Campion (if you’re not a film nerd you still remember The Piano right?), Top of the Lake features Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) trying find Tui (Jacqueline Joe) a tween age girl that goes missing after discovering she is pregnant. Tui claims to have no idea who the father is before she goes disappearing into the woods. All the clues point towards Matt (Peter Mullan), Tui’s own father and local big man with as many criminal connections as illegitimate children. Matt’s sway over the rural community is challenged by the appearance of G.J. (Holly Hunteroh yeah I remember The Piano now), a perplexing guru who has set up all female commune on an idyllic lakeside plain, the traditional stomping ground of Matt and his family. Detective Griffin is stuck in the middle. She has affinities for G.J. and her followers but she has tasked herself with solving the case by the book – not only to rescue Tui and her baby, but to spite a patriarchal police force whose good old boys ties with Matt and his gang reek of corruption.

There’s evil in the woods. The lake and the wilderness are as much a part of the story as any of the human characters. It is nothing short of Twin Peaks New Zealand, but where Twin Peaks’ palette is warm, Top of the Lake’s palette is cool. Where Twin Peaks is ironic, Top of the Lake is realistic. Since Mad Men devolved into Dallas, I know I’ve been dying to see Elizabeth Moss go toe to toe with sexist meatheads again. Peter Mullan’s turn as Matt, a conflicted ball of neuroses about to burst at the seams, is the tightest, most engrossing performance of a royal baddest dad since Tony Soprano. (Anyone who thought I was going to write “Walter White” can go watch Sons of Anarchy while drinking beer out of a can.) With astonishing cinematography usually reserved for feature films and powerhouse performances, Top of the Lake deserves to be at the top of your holds queue.

Downton Abbey Season 4 the Countdown Begins…

By , November 7, 2013

Less than two months to go before season 4 of Downton Abbey premiers on PBS on Sunday, January 5, 2014 and to get you into the swing of all things Downton we have…





The Series:

Downton Abbey Season  1







Downton Abbey Season  2







Downton Abbey Season  3







Downton Abbey
Season  4






Downton Abbey Books:

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey: the Official Backstage Pass to the Set, the Actors and the Drama

By Emma Rowley


Below Stairs: the Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, downstairs” and “Downton Abbey”

By Margaret Powell


The Chronicles of Downton Abbey

By Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis



Downton Abbey: the Complete Scripts. Season one

By Julian Fellowes



Downton Abbey Script Book: Season 2

By Julian Fellowes



Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

By The Countess of Carnarvon



Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey

By The Countess of Carnarvon



Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants

By Alison Maloney



Secrets of Highclere Castle DVD




The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook : From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding : More Than 150 Recipes From Upstairs and Downstairs

By Emily Ansara Baines


Upstairs & Downstairs: an Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey

By Sarah Warwick



The World of Downton Abbey

By Jessica Fellowes



While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

By Wendy Wax



Downton Abbey Soundtracks:

Downton Abbey: the Essential Collection

Downton Abbey: Original Music from the Television Series









TV series review: Jack Irish

By , November 5, 2013

Jack Irish. Set 1 (featuring the TV movies Bad Debts & Black Tide)
Based on the novels by Peter Temple

Move over Jack Reacher, here comes Jack Irish! Actually, the two characters would probably enjoy working together, but I’ll leave the fan fiction mash-up to more capable hands…  If you like to read or watch thrillers, you must add Peter Temple’s Jack Irish novels and movies to your list.

So who is Jack Irish?  He’s a criminal defense attorney living in Melbourne, Australia.  After a crazed ex-client murders his wife, Irish quits his law practice, and drinks heavily in grief.  But Irish turns his life around: he becomes an apprentice to a master wood worker, and chooses a new controversial career path – becoming a debt collector for an affable gangster with a “special” interest in horse racing.

In Bad Debts, Irish receives a mysterious message from a former client, who turns up dead.  As he begins to look into the death of his ex-client, Irish discovers shocking corruption.  In Black Tide, Irish puts his lawyer hat back on to help his own late father’s friend find his missing son and save his family home.  But it’s not so simple as a missing person case – international drug trade and dirty real estate deals make for another thrilling ride.  In amongst the suspense are quite tender and funny moments at the local pub, a hangout for a lovable group of old guys passionate about their football team.

I’ve yet to read one of Peter Temple’s novels, but considering how fantastic these two Jack Irish stories play out in the movies, I’m convinced the source material is outstanding!  Guy Pearce and the rest of the cast, many veterans of Australian TV, are absolutely amazing in these two movies.  Dead Point, the third Jack Irish TV movie, should premiere in 2014.

Library things I will not be enjoying today.

By , November 2, 2013

Here are some great things from the library that I will not be enjoying today:

1) Downloading “Wrecking Ball” from freegal. I’m not the biggest Miley fan, but when this song comes on the radio I love to turn it up and sing along (this might be because it’s so overly dramatic it’s funny than because it’s poignantly emotional…just saying…). Now you can own it yourself for the low, low price of free. Let the wre…eck…ecking begin.



2) Reading the Bride Quartet books on my Kindle.

Like Nora Roberts? Me too. Well, actually I really like JD Robb, but those two are so close they’re like twins (ahem). The fun part about being able to download them from Overdrive to my Kindle is that I get all four for the price of 1! There’s no waiting in between each book to see how things turn out. Thanks Overdrive and NPL! You guys are the best. Too bad my day is booked…



3) Watching Glee Season 4.

New York. Ohio. Cory Montieth’s final season. How will it all work out? I must admit I’ve fallen behind on my Glee. Sigh. There are only so many hours in a day. But thanks to the library, I have the whole season just waiting for me to check it out. But it will just have to wait. Today I have bigger things to do…



Like what, you might ask? Well, since you brought it up, I am getting married today (and cue the brass band)! So I won’t be at work to see your smiling face, but come on in any way. Check out a couple of things and we’ll chat when I get back. I’m sure I’ll have some interesting stories to tell from the reception…

Happy listening/reading/watching/singing along,

:) Amanda

TV review: Duck Dynasty

By , August 10, 2013

Duck Dynasty Season One

What in the world is up with all these Duck people everywhere? I kept hearing about this Duck Commander thing. My first thought: not interested. There are even two books out: The Duck Commander Family and Happy, Happy, Happy. Still not sold. But when a guy in my Sunday School class mentioned it, I changed my mind thinking “Ok, I have got to figure out what all the hoopla is about.”

Basic premise: backwoods Louisiana rednecks make a fortune from the family company of making duck calls. The company is called Duck Commander. But most of the guys who make the duck calls would rather be hunting or blowing things up.

This show should not be so charming, but it pulls you in. These people may not be the most cultured, but they are still good people (although if Uncle Si was my uncle, I’d probably want to lock him in the closet. I’m just saying…). When was the last time you watched a reality TV show and there were no bleeped out cuss words?  And I really like how Phil ends each episode with the family sitting down to dinner for a meal and a prayer.

In this day and age of “quality” entertainment consisting of a bunch of trashy folks getting drunk and partying, it’s nice that a show can depict a solid, if not crazy, family. I will certainly be coming back for Seasons 2 & 3.

Happy watching…

:) Amanda

Reading list: Summer in the City

By , June 9, 2013

Does this vacation season find you short on time and money? Don’t worry, arm-chair travel requires only one passport document, your library card. This summer why not travel to the most exciting city in the world, New York City?

Our first stop is a visit with one of the most talented and excitable New Yorkers of all time, Mel Brooks. The latest American Masters program, Mel Brooks-Make a noise offers a rare, rare, rare look into his world.  With commentary  by Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers and the gorgeous Anne Bancroft aka Mrs. Mel Brooks, this may be the most entertaining 90 minutes of television you will come across this summer.

Next on the itinerary, Man on wire, follows Philippe Petit as he prepares for his August 7th, 1974, high wire walk between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.  The walk  is remembered as “the artistic crime of the century”. It is bittersweet to recall a time when mention of the Twin Towers signified a triumph in personal artistry.

New York City apartment life offers endless imagined possibilities. Luckily for the voyeur in all of us,  a fascination with apartment living captures the eye of some our best writers and directors. Here are a few peeks past the doorman starting with the children’s classic, Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh, Louise.

On film, The Apartment (1960) starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacClaine is the classic by which all other madcap comedies were once measured.  Other filmed “apartment” stories include any work of Woody Allen. Three apartment vignettes (included one by Woody Allen) are featured in New York Stories (1989). Carnage and A Late Quartet, both feature starring roles by great apartments.

To conclude your NYC tour, pick up The View from Penthouse B  by Elinor Lipman. This elegant story features a cast of (relatively) down on their luck roommates, two sisters “of a certain age” and a platonic male boarder. Visitors  include one recently convicted ex-husband, his millinery designing son, various friends and extended family.  Take one part saga of lost wealth add one part comedy of personalities add a dash of domesticity and in the hands of this accomplished author and the result is a perfectly executed soufflé of a novel.

Dust off the bottles of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth,  look in the way, way back of the refrigerator for those Marachino cherries, mix up a Manhattan and stay a while, it is summer after all.

“All my life, I never really felt comfortable anywhere in New York, except maybe in an apartment somewhere.”  Martin Scorsese



TV series review: Merlin

By , April 23, 2013

Seasons 1 2 3 4 5

If you’ve ever embarked on TV adventures with Xena, Hercules, Richard and Kahlan, the Charmed ones, or Brisco County Jr., Merlin is the show for you.

Loosely (and I do mean loosely) based on Arthurian legend, Merlin, as you’d expect from the title, focuses on the mythical character Merlin, only he’s  an awkward teen who’s coming of age, honing his magical talents, and discovering the destiny that ties him to Arthur Pendragon.  In each episode of Merlin you can expect comic relief, romance, sword fights, sorcery, dragons, and plot lines resolved at the end of almost every episode.  Merlin features a great cast, including John Hurt as the dragon, and Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon.  Let me put it to you truly, Merlin is perfect for when you want to be  easily entertained – it’s pretty much just straight forward fun.  Merlin lasted five seasons, and NPL has all of them!

For Fans of Masterpiece Classic: Mr. Selfridge

By , April 19, 2013

After watching the first few episodes of Mr. Selfridge, the new series on Masterpiece Classic, I ran to the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature to see what I could find in our Periodicals collection about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his department store.

I was delighted to discover a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post from 1935, written by Selfridge himself, describing his amazing career.  In this series, Selfridge describes his start in the retail trade with Marshall Fields and his reasons for leaving Marshall Fields, saying:

“I had no quarrel with Mr. Field.  He was a great man and a great American . . . He was straight as a plummet line.  He had confidence in me and I respected him.  But while he displayed many evidences of his affection for me, he was austere in manner and very conservative.  He had little finesse in the handling of men, brilliant as he was in running his business . . . It was ambition that brought about my rupture with Mr. Field.”

Selfridge goes on to describe the path that eventually led him to bring an American department store to London – Selfridge claims that he had once tried to persuade Mr. Field to establish Marshall Fields stores in London and other European cities, but Mr. Field “peremptorily ordered me never to waste his time in discussing such a crack-brained notion.”

Throughout these articles, Selfridge offers a fascinating look at his analysis of the existing stores and shopping environment in London, the obstacles he overcame in building his store, his theories of publicity and advertising, and his revolutionary practices in merchandising and sales that made his department store so successful.  You can read this series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post in the Periodicals section of the Main library (3rd floor) to find out more about:

  • The idea for the Selfridge’s Lift Girls
  • The introduction of the Bargain Basement
  • Selfridge’s unique publicity “stunts” – the 25 shilling fur coat, the display of the Bleriot airplane
  • Sefridge’s personal and business philosophies

Selfridge’s store opened on March 15, 1909 at 9 a.m. to the notes of a bugler and made about 3,000 pounds on opening day – Selfridge remarks that sales were slow because of how crowded the store was, with about 150,000 visitors on a cold and blustery day.

To read about Mr. Selfridge or to learn more about the history of shopping or the department store, check out these books from our collection:


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