Sister Wives Season 14

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Season 14 of TLC hit show Sister Wives concluded recently, and the big problem facing the cast this season was where to live. They had moved to Flagstaff, Arizona and purchased a large plot of land in the mountains. The dilemma however, was whether to build one master house that all the wives lived in with their children, or build four homes, so each mom and her kids had their own space.

Long story short, Janelle and Kody were all in for the master house for everyone, Robyn didn’t know what to do, and Christine was dead set against shared living. Meri tried not to share her opinions and went along with the consensus ….

So this set up a big battle between Christine and Kody.

Now, what do I think? Well, I am so glad you asked.

Obviously I am just an internet commentator without a vote, but I was definitely a proponent of the one big house idea. I think it would be better for the family and especially for the kids to all be in one house again. As much as the family likes to toe the party-line and talk about how they are one family, the kids are definitely not as close to their moms and siblings that live separately.

Kody has a heavy responsibility to be accessible and involved in the lives of his many children, and his wives, and living separately creates a barrier to this. Even if that barrier is only psychological, it is there, especially for his kids. I’m not a big Kody fan but I did feel for him when he lost this subject.

Christine absolutely had valid reasons for wanting her own house. The autonomy and confidence she gained were huge for her and she became a better person and mother, as she explained many times. But I think it was short-sighted to assume she would lose all that by living in one house again. She wasn’t going back to being the SAHM she was before, talking care of all the littles who weren’t in school yet and living in the basement. Christine’s confidence was hard won but she wouldn’t just lose it crossing that threshold.

So if I were a wife, what would I say?

Build one big house. Have the room for each wife, with her own kitchen and space. And build a second small house on the property for Christine.

If she ever wanted to try living in the big house, she would have her dedicated wing to do so, but in the mean-time, it could serve as a landing spot for the many adult children the Brown’s have. Especially as they try to convince their children to come from all over the country with their own families in tow for holidays, this space would come in handy. And if Christine ever wanted to move in to it permanently, great! Then the smaller house on the property becomes the guest house.

There were so many valid reasons for living all together, and with only Christine strongly opposing it, I think that it was unfair to deny the other parts of the family to be able to do so. There isn’t much difference between Christine living separately in a “cul de sac” style arrangement on the property, where everyone lives in four separate houses, or her living separately and the rest living in the big house.

I think the part of the season that really bugged me was how everyone framed this scenario has an absolute. It had to be all together or none together. For big families … blended families … flexibility is key to living together happily, something I think the Browns have forgotten.

What were your thoughts on the season? Weigh in in the comments!

xx

The Grand Tour Specials

I have fallen in love with the specials of the Amazon Prime show, The Grand Tour. It follows three well-known auto journalists on adventures around the world. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are a hilarious bunch who bring out the best in each other.

I don’t really care for their regular episodes – not being a car person – but their specials have evolved to bring about hilarity, history, nature and the occasional cooking show in one extra long episode.

I have ranked the best specials below.

*There are more specials forthcoming and I will update this list as I watch them.

7. Operation Desert Stumble, Season 1 Episode 2

Operation Desert Stumble is the first “special” but it only constitutes about 1/3 of this episode, and is more a set of rehearsed skits.

6. International Buffoon’s Vacation, Season 3 Episode 8

In International Buffoon’s Vacation, the boys try a stereotypical American RV vacation, and it does not go well.

5. Sea to Unsalty Sea, Season 3 Episode 11

This episode sees the trio travelling from the edge of the Black Sea in Georgia, to the edge of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan.

4. Feed the World, Season 2 Episode 11

Taking place in Mozambique, this hilarious effort to transport fish to a poor village more than 200 miles inland had me in stitches. “I know we said we were working as a team, and we are working as a team. By leaving him behind”.

3B. The Beach (Buggy) Boys, Season 1 Episodes 7 & 8

Yes, I’m cheating a bit here, but I really couldn’t decide whether I enjoyed this special or the next better. My top four choices are all really close together, then Feed the World is in the middle, and the others share a distant last place.

In this two episode special, the boys modify some beach buggies. They’re told to drive them 1000 miles across Namibia, but cover at least 3000 miles instead as they go in circles around the country.

3A. Survival of the Fattest (Mongolia), Season 3 Episode 13

May, Clarkson and Hammond are dropped off in the middle of Mongolia by helicopter, along with three large care packages. To their great displeasure, they discover British Army MREs and water for sustenance – no alcohol – and all the parts for an off-road buggy. Cue days of assembly and driving to the nearest town of Moron.

2. Seamen, Season 4 Episode 1

Seamen was a very close second; I kept dithering about with this list, switching No. 1 & 2, but finally decided on this order. Just know it is basically 1A and 1B! Seamen takes a bit of a break from the car aspect of the show, as our three gents pick boats and sail from the north end of Cambodia, down the Saigon River into Vietnam and the South China Sea. Not professional or avid boaters, it is truly hilarious to watch these three navigate their way. I almost peed myself laughing.

1. Columbia (Wildlife Photography), Season 3 Episodes 2 & 3

Columbia sees our three favourite hosts on a special assignment for Mr. Wilman: photographing wild animals in Columbia, to serve as Amazon’s new screen saver. The blokes are to locate and photograph a bear, a condor, a jaguar and … a hippopotamus?

xx

 

Jack Ryan (TV series)

tcjr1Jack Ryan is an action-thriller series, produced by Amazon Prime. The characters originate from “Ryan” series authored by Tom Clancy, and have been through numerous film adaptations in the past.

The show stars John Krasinski as the titular character. He is a former marine turned CIA analyst whose instincts and intellect place him at the tip of the anti-terrorism sword in the US. In season one, he travels all over the world trying to identify and pre-empt Yemen-born Syrian terrorists.

I just binge watched season one on Amazon Prime in a couple of days. There are eight episodes in the first season, and I am assuming there will be roughly the same number of episodes in season 2, which releases on November 2nd.

Jack Ryan is an excellent show, that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in political/military/action/thriller entertainment. Although it is American-based and draws story from current flash zones and news headlines, the characters are fictional – you are not going to see a Donald Trump look alike in the Oval Office. And unlike typical military dramas such as Seal Team Six, The Unit, or 24, I don’t find it to vomit American patriotism all over the audience, a huge turn-off to most non-American viewers, like moi.

A second aspect that helps set this show apart from other counter-terrorism entertainment is that Ryan is a reluctant hero. He has flashbacks to his Marine deployment which ended in a fiery helicopter crash that he blames himself for, and comments multiple times that he prefers when he is behind the desk, not gunning down terrorists in crowded plazas. Jason Bourne he is not.

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Finally, the producers have dedicated screen time to developing backstories and relationships for the terrorists, and explaining how and why they were radicalized. The picture isn’t as black and white as one might think, and it really drives home what a mess the whole system is. Trying to eliminate one threat has repercussions that last generations and often just spur on a whole new crop of terrorists.

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I highly recommend this show, and am eagerly awaiting season two. I thought it was already out when I started watching, so now I will have to find something else to entertain myself while sick.

Season one trailer

Season two trailer

* * * * *

xx

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle is a novel from Philip K. Dick. It has been turned into a stellar television series on Amazon Prime. There are currently two seasons available for viewing (as of April 2018).

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This is a dystopian alternate history set in “America” 1962. It posits that the Axis forces won WWII and that the continent is now divided between the Japanese Pacific State (western side of continent) and the Great Reich (the rest of the continent) with a slim band of neutral zone between the two territories.

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This is such an imaginative show. I have often wondered what would have happened if history had gone the other way. I love that there is a show exploring this (and incredibly thankful it is only on TV)!

The Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s most streamed show. So that must mean lots more people than just me enjoy it :)

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The main part of the story follows two characters: a woman from the Pacific States (Juliana) who gets pulled into the Resistance, and Joe, a man from the Reich with questionable allegiances.

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It is startling to see some of the most iconic images from the free world turned into Nazi symbols. The American flag, Times Square …

The Man in the High Castle is a drama. It does have some humourous parts and the violence is manageable, but the material can be heavy at times.

One of my favourite quotes:

You’re about to die horribly but your hair is fine.

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I started watching this series on a whim the other night because I was bored and the weather was bad. Well, ice and freezing rain pretty well had me stuck inside all weekend and I binged on both seasons. This show is completely addictive. It has a tendency towards cliff-hanger endings – both for individual episodes and seasons – so you will constantly find yourself clicking on just one more episode.

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There is an element of mysticism or other-worldliness to this show which greatly surprised me. The storyline takes on more meaning towards the end of the second season and starts to become more clear why they included it, but I still think I would have preferred the show without it.

What strikes me most about The Man in the High Castle is how complicated each character is. They all have multiple levels. I approached the show thinking that the Nazis would be the antagonists and the Resistance would be the protagonists, but it is much more complicated than that. Even the Nazis who do terrible things are softened in the show by their love for the families. And the “freedom fighters” come across much more strongly as terrorists.

Everything is not as it seems. No one is all good or all evil. We are just different shades of grey.

* * * * *

xx

Television Bundles

I both bless and curse the CRTC at the moment.

I’m proudly Canadian. And one of the things I love about Canada is that early this year the CRTC passed a law to end bundling of television channels. Not sure what this means?

Television providers like Bell, Rogers and Compton all offer television channels in a bundle. So to get the two channels you want, you have to purchase them in a bundle with 15 other channels that you are also paying for but never watch.

And because they offer multiple bundles, your favourite ones are inevitably offered in different bundles. Which means you have to choose just one or two, or buy all the bundles.

Which sucks. It’s highway robbery.

So here comes the CRTC who agree with Canadians and outlaws bundling. If you have a basic or “skinny” package, which can cost no more than $25.00 a month, you get to pick and choose individual channels that are not considered basic, to add to your skinny package. Like HGTV, HBO, Showcase, the food network, the women’s channel… and you just pay for that channel you picked. Because its not part of a bundle anymore!!!!

Huzzah!!

Except, oh wait. This passed in March 2015 and I thought that it took effect at the end of the year …. aka now-ish. Apparently it doesn’t take affect until the end of 2016!  Not cool CRTC. Not cool.

Guess that means another year of no tv por moi. Darn. I was so excited too.

xx

Teen Mom 2 Returns

Teen Mom 2 returns tonight with the premiere of season six!

Teen Mom OG and 2 are the only MTV shows I like, but they are favourites of mine. I think most people have that one (or more) guilty pleasure television show(s) that they’re addicted to, and these are mine.

It is interesting to see the different paths that the girls have followed through life. I’m not a teen mother, but I find it inspiring watching them continue to struggle to overcome hardships and persevere. I have had more trouble that a lot of my friends to find my way in life and find schooling and a career and relationship that made me feel happy and fulfilled, so I can identify with many of the growing pains these ladies experience.

I was so happy during the previous season of teen mom 2 to see that Jenelle, who had been the “problem child” of her cast-mates for four seasons, has matured so much since then. She had gotten clean before but it seems she has stayed clean this time and went back to school and did well, studying all the time and spending time with Jace and then Kaiser, and realizing that she did deserve better and so do her sons.

I think the defining moment of season five was when she approached her mother about reclaiming custody of Jace. I expected this to turn into a train-wreck of a discussion between Barbara and Jenelle, particularly since Nathan was present, but it was a calm and heartfelt discussion between the two women. In that moment, you could clearly see how much they loved Jace and wanted to work together to create the easiest transition possible for him.

That situation was so charged, it was almost inevitable for confrontation to break out so it was surprising and gratifying that it didn’t. Even though I only know them through my television screen, I was so proud of their family at that moment and hope that they can continue to keep Jace as their focus, because that little boy deserves the world, and he deserves his Mom and Grandmother to work together towards a stable and happy future for him.

Excited to watch tonight and catch up with the other girls as well! Are we finally going to meet Chelsea’s new man on the show???

xx

Big Bang Theory

Oh man, I just watched tonight’s episode of the Big Bang Theory and it was quite likely my favourite episode ever!

It had the perfect balance of timing between the growing number of characters and was just. so. damn. funny! Yes, that needed to be emphasized. I love the show and wish there were more comedies like it on air. My life, like many people’s, doesn’t have enough joy and laughter and lightness in it, so the last thing I want to do in my evening is watch some depressing drama. Sorry Grey’s Anatomy fans.

The last few seasons of BBT haven’t been as funny to me, and I think others agree since their ratings stay high but they stopped winning all the comedic television show awards. I even stopped watching the show live, saving up several episodes to binge-watch together without commercials, because otherwise the show was broken up every time a scene gained momentum, and I would end up with this show that I enjoyed but never laughed out loud at. That was sad, in the past I would laugh til I cried and I wanted those good endorphins back. Tonight’s episode was their best in a long time.

I laughed hysterically at the one liners, enjoyed every character from Bernie to Raj to Sheldon, and thought the writing was excellent. This episode wasn’t counting on Sheldon’s idiosyncrasies to carry the laughs, it was genuinely funny and witty throughout. I also loved the big life changes that came to a few of the characters.

— spoiler alert —

Leonard had an ‘affair’ with a woman scientist on the boat in the Black Sea, a few years ago? Did not see that one coming.

Amy broke up with Sheldon?!

Sheldon was going to propose to Amy?!! Actually I saw that one coming, but he still played it so perfectly that I was in awe of the moment.

And finally, Penny and Leonard are going to get married in Vegas. Yay elopement! I was hoping that we would get to see her Dad again, and meet more members of both of their families, but I didn’t really want a wedding episode. I feel like we had that whole moment with Bernadette’s wedding and then the prom episode, and I like how they decide to handle the wedding. It fits the characters.

It felt like a final episode to the season, but I really hope not because I can’t imagine not getting the fall-out from all these big decisions. Considering they just took a two or three week break and this one was the regular twenty minutes in length, there should be a least one more episode before the season closes and I will definitely be watching for it.

Tonight, the funniest episode in years aired so if you have been on the fence about the show for the last while, it’s time to catch up now.

xx