Media Monday: BritBox and AcornTV

We disconnected the satellite TV a few months ago and are now streaming only. We still get live channels via YouTubeTV. Which we pay about the same amount for as what the satellite company offered to keep us. But we’d made up our minds so we declined their offer. With the streaming subscriptions, we’re saving about $100/month over what we were paying for a bunch of satellite channels we never watched.

Photo from DepositPhotos

We’re watching a lot of British and Canadian shows via BritBox and AcornTV, thanks to Amazon Prime. Which we had watched many of these already, but we’re back at it, and finding some new ones.

I’ve previously written about Murdoch Mysteries, a product of Canada. There were two new seasons we had to catch up on. And talk about a cliffhanger at the end of Season 14! I immediately had to check and be sure they were filming Season 15. Whew! They are.

Murdoch Mysteries

It took us a year to watch all of Midsomer Murders, and last week we watched Season 22.

PBS recently aired a new version of All Creatures Great and Small, based on the books by British vet James Herriot. We watched Season 1, then went back and watched the older series from the late 1970s and early ’80s. We’d read all the books, of course. Both the older and newer series followed the same book fairly closely.

After we finished the older series, we went back to Midsomer Mysteries, Season 21, Episode 1, The Point of Balance, when Christopher Timothy, the actor who played James Heriot, guest starred in Midsomer as Ned Barnaby, DCI John Barnaby’s father.

That was very fun to watch! Seeing an older “Herriot” and how he’d aged.

We tried Doc Martin. I had tried it a few years ago, at several friends’ recommendation, but just couldn’t get into it. Stud Muffin and I tackled it together and after a few episodes, decided we enjoyed it enough to continue. But as often happens, (and I’ve told him this), he gets me to watching something that I’m not really wanting to watch (American Idol, Survivor, Longmire, to name a few) and then I get hooked and he decides he doesn’t want to watch anymore. Well sure enough, around Season 6, SM got tired of Doc’s perennial jerkness and said he was done. I do see glimmers of him trying to be better, so I’ll continue with Doc on my own. One of these days.

We’re currently trying Father Brown. After the first 2 episodes, SM said he didn’t care for how the “writers” (he blames all story deficiencies on the writers, never the producers, directors, or editors) portrayed the police officers/detectives/investigators as “bumbling idiots.” I disagreed with him. We did take a break and caught up on Midsomer, and we’re back to Father Brown. He hasn’t complained again. I don’t think he’s changed his mind, but at least he’s not arguing with the television set.


I obviously did not know what this movie was about when I added it to our Netflix queue.


All I knew:

The name

It was about the British Secret Service

It had Colin Firth

Turns out, two of those three things are true.

The movie is not about the British Secret Service.

It’s part satire, part action adventure thriller, part gross out comedy, part live-action comic book, and if it wasn’t for Colin Firth, it would be a complete waste of time.

Actually, even with Mr. Firth, it’s a waste of time.

Basically, it’s about a group of elite spies in the UK. There’s a vacancy and several recruits are given the chance to make it onto the squad. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson plays a media baron whose generous gift of free phones/data/new tech is really part of his plot to take over the world. Add implants that cause the person’s head to explode and that sums up his diabolical plan.

The movie starts out with some action and tension and sympathetic characters. But it quickly devolves into crass slapstick that tosses around the f-word when it doesn’t know what else to say or do. Then heads explode and it goes downhill from there.

Don’t bother with this one.

Media Monday

I know I’ve been remiss in posting recently. More about that on Wednesday, I hope.

For now, it’s Media Monday and I’m here to talk about Mockingjay.

MJI saw the final movie in the Hunger Games series a couple of weeks ago.

I read the books and have talked about them before. They do not deserve the summary dismissal I’ve heard from some people. They are not about children killing children (although, yes, that is a part of the story). They are not violent and dark (although, yes, there is violence and the scenes in District 12 are depressing).

They are about what happens when someone takes complete control of a country and/or society and culture.

There’s a love triangle at the heart of the books and I really didn’t see how the author was going to resolve it in a satisfying manner. The problem with love triangles is that one of the two vying for the third, must be a stinker. The reader/viewer needs a clear good guy and bad guy so they know who to root for.

IMHO, Sweet Home Alabama, while a fun movie, was fundamentally flawed because both the guys were great (although one of them had a witchy mother). I didn’t know who was worthy of the heroine because neither really had a flaw.

Another Reese Witherspoon movie that I felt had the same problem was This Means War. Two buddies are competing for her. They’re also skilled in espionage and spying. And of course they’re both good looking and charming. In this case, though, I knew who to root for. One of them had an ex-wife and son, so the only way that movie could end happily was for the family to be reunited and for Reese’s character to end up with the other spy.

Back to Mockingjay: I don’t want to give away the ending just in case someone out there hasn’t yet read the books and/or seen the movies.

Suzanne Collins solved the problem brilliantly, I think. One character became even more of himself and in doing alienated himself from Katniss. She sawhim more clearly and realized who was her real love.

The bad guys are defeated, although not without a terrible cost, and life in District 12 is once again worth living.

I loved the books. The movies did them justice. Mockingjay is a satisfying conclusion to the series. Two thumbs up from me. 😉




Media Monday: Django Unchained

We’re not huge Quentin Taratino fans. We haven’t seen either volume of KILL BILL. I saw PULP FICTION and GET SHORTY years after their releases. But last week, DJANGO UNCHAINED was on and we had nothing better to do, so we watched it.

djangoIt is violent.

It is compelling.

It was much better than I expected.

The violence is quick and often and over the top, with heads exploding and blood geysering, and … well, let’s just say there’s a grisly sequence with dogs and a runaway slave.

Yet there is a code for the violence. The final half hour of the movie is a blood bath, but the good guys prevail. Unlike real life, in the movies, we can fashion the ending we want.

Django is a captured slave at the beginning of the movie. Dr. King Schulz “buys” Django to help him identify some outlaws. Before you can say “Slaves on horses,” the pair are a team of bounty hunters, making money and killing bad guys across the west and south.

Until they meet up with Calvin Candie, an evil plantation owner in Mississippi. The ending is a foregone conclusion, but no less fun for the ride. Just feel free to cover your eyes when the hounds bay.

Media Monday: Moms’ Night Out

I finally got around to seeing MOMS’ NIGHT OUT last week. I know it was out a while ago but it got past me.

I often come with vats of skepticism to movies labeled “faith-based,” or “family friendly.” But MOMS’ NIGHT OUT was a refreshing change. I enjoyed it a lot.


Allyson is a stay-at-home mom who knows she should love her life and feels guilty because she’s unhappy. She feels like a failure at motherhood and marriage and life in general.

She plans an evening out with two girlfriends. The dads are going to keep the kids for the evening. Should be simple.

Of course, nothing is that simple.

The dinner reservation is messed up. The guys have a slight accident. A child goes missing. The evening out turns into a quest to find the baby.

The acting in this one is excellent, the best in any “faith-based” movie I’ve seen in quite a while. The story wasn’t preachy. The characters were real, even the pastor and his wife and daughter. For that alone, I give it a recommendation.

Anyone else have a favorite faith-based movie?