Archive for the ‘Television’ category

Smoking

March 15, 2018

So i have been watching the mini-series “The Crown” on Netflix. In the past few weeks I have watched all of season 1 and yesterday I started in on season 2. This is the story of Queen Elizabeth II from the time when she becomes the Queen of England back in the early 50’s It’s a great show and I love watching it.

But here’s the thing. They’ve done a great job of displaying what it was like to be in England in the 1950’s. What struck me was that everyone was smoking all the time. The first few episodes had Winston Churchill smoking a cigar all the time. There was hardly a time that he didn’t have a cigar in his hand. Winston was played by John Lithgow (he really did a great job, btw) and I read that he got quite sick from all the smoking that he had to do during the filming.

Princess Margaret was constantly smoking. There was hardly a time on screen when she didn’t have a butt in her fingers. However, Queen Elizabeth did not smoke. I kept expecting her to tell Margaret to put the butt down.

So the picture tells the story that even our doctors were selling tobacco. Amazing and it wasn’t that long ago.

We seem to have forgotten how it was like back in the day before smoking became so odious. I remember one of the engineers I worked with who constantly smoked at work. His computer terminal was a sickly yellow instead of the usual white.

There were cigarette vending machines at work and in bars and restaurants. It took a long time to get to where we are today. We had to suffer through smoking/non-smoking sections on airplanes. We now have smoke-free environments on aircraft, at work and anywhere else the public might visit.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Joe

The Crown

December 17, 2017

The CrownA couple of nights ago Paula and I started watching the TV series “The Crown” on Netflix. We’re not doing it at break neck speed but we are moving along. We saw S1E1 on Friday and S1E2 last night. Eight more episodes for season 1.

“The Crown” is the story of reign of Queen Elizabeth II in England.

Okay, we’re hooked. S1E1 starts off with marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Phillip. Phillip never knew what hit him.

A couple of comments. John Lithgow is superb in his portrayal of Winston Churchill. Great image of Winston taking a bath and smoking a cigar. There sure was a lot of smoking going on. Smoking surely killed King George VI. It seems that everyone took baths. Showers must have been an American invention. It took almost another twenty years for scientists to convince people that tobacco kills.

This is the second movie that we’ve seen in recent years about the British Monarchy. In 2010, we saw Colin Firth play King George VI in “The Kings Speech“. That movie received four Oscars including Best Actor for Firth and Best Picture.

The series stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Phillip. Foy is known for appearance in “Season of the Witch”. Smith is probably best known for his appearance as the eleventh “Dr Who” on the BBC. Episode 1 is in 1947 when Prince Philip renounces his Greek and Danish titles and proceeds to marry Elizabeth.

Episode 2 jumps forward to 1952 when Elizabeth and Phillip are off touring the African countryside in Kenya when Elizabeth’s father King George dies. Oh my, things get intense. So the aides keep telling her that the “Crown” comes first.

Other thoughts.

The movie shows King George having surgery to remove his diseased lung at Buckingham Palace. Kings don’t go to the hospital, the hospital comes to them. They also show the embalming being done at Buckingham.

Here’s an interesting piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune about fact checking the series. Interesting read. Click here.

PS.

Quick update on Mary. She has been able to go to church on the last two Sundays. Her memory is failing fast. She couldn’t remember the church that she goes to. Everyone was happy to see her. We did lunch at the Gaffey Street Diner. Diner has improved. Waitress gave me extra bacon. I told her that she was my new favorite waitress.

Downton Abbey

March 10, 2016

 Last night we wrapped up watching the last episode of season six of Downton Abbey. It was a two hour affair. We typically haven’t been able to watch episodes on Sundays when it is broadcast. We depend on our DVR to catch up on our schedule. So we watched the first hour on Tuesday night after the family went home from our Tuesday night dinner.

We turned on the TV after the family left around 8pm. Mary likes to watch the news, so we started with the local and national news. I switched to Downton as soon as the news was done. Mary was sitting on the couch in her usual spot. After about 15 minutes, Mary says “Hey, this isn’t the news?”. With Mary, we could watch the news over and over again and it  would still be new to her. So we gently explained, that this was Downton Abbey. She watched about another 5 minutes and then went to bed.

So last night was spent closing up loose ends. Mr. Carson is allowed to retire and live out his life in comfort of a cottage on the estate. Edith got married off. Mr Barrow takes over as butler. Everyone lives happily ever after. We had none of the season ending downers like the end of season three when heart-throb Matthew dies in a car crash. Or the season three downer when daughter Sybil dies. So as ending episodes go, it was pretty satisfying. There was none of the trying to understand the episode.

So the story starts in the early part of the 20th century with the news of the death of one of the male heirs had died on the Titanic. So what are the Crawleys to do? They are concerned about the lack of a male heir. In season one, we are introduced to the concept called “entail” that relates to how property is transferred after a person’s death.

The story continues through WWI and then on to the post war 1920’s. Times they are a changing.

One of the things that I found very enjoyable was watching Maggie Smith play Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Also, excellent performance by Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham)

Downton Abbey is often compared to the PBS series “Upstairs/Downstairs”. Although, when that series was airing I had other things to do. I only caught a couple of episodes and we certainly didn’t have the luxury of a DVR. So you haven’t watched Downton Abbey? Well it’s not too late. All 52 episodes are available to stream on Amazon Prime Instant Video or DVD from Amazon. Seems like it’s a good opportunity for some binge watching. You can also get the DVD’s from Netflix.

There is also a documentary film on Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed.