August 8, 2020

Indian Matchmaking on Netflix

I saw the title, “Indian Matchmaking,” on Netflix and laughed at the absurdity of wanting to watch a program on that topic. The Netflix home page had a trailer for the show which I inadvertently started watching. Call me flabbergasted, but I got hooked into watching episode one which led to episode two, three and…

The star of the show is an Indian matchmaker hired by families and sometimes individuals to find them a suitable mate. This is a very foreign concept in the U. S., so that was the first thing that intrigued me. In fact, Indian singles do sometimes find their own spouses which are referred to as “love matches,” but tradition dies hard in Indian families both in India and abroad.

The cast of characters includes lawyers, a doctor, a blogger/podcaster, business owners, teachers, a jewelry designer and a wedding planner, with most of the families appearing to be upper middle class to wealthy. It costs money to hire a matchmaker after all.

Some of the prospective brides or grooms are endearing, so I found myself rooting for them to find successful matches. Other candidates make it apparent why they are single with entrenched opinions and unrealistic expectations.

Several singles from the show have dangling marriage searches so Season Two is all but assured. One couple did in fact make it to the wedding feast during the show. The series “Indian Matchmaking” is a mixture of cultural study, travelogue and mystery romance. More, please.

Carrot and Stick approach

Now that we know the shelter in place period is extended to the beginning of May, we need to take ourselves in hand. This means setting projects and deadlines for ourselves, as well as keeping daily regimens that give us a sense of structure and purpose.

I am now using the “carrot and stick” approach in order to get things done. As Steve Delchamps laughingly told me, he had been availing himself of far too many carrots and almost no sticks. I have been part of that club, too.

Educational, inspirational or funny video clips are an easy way of rewarding oneself for completion of a task.

The Dating Game with Steve Martin

The Dating Game and Physical Fitness

Exercise for 30 minutes and you get to watch this hilarious video clip of Steve Martin on The Dating Game in 1968 (linked above). He has dark hair! The female choosing a bachelor is Dina Martin, daughter of crooner, Dean Martin. Thanks for the link go to friend Jim Koudelka of Lincoln, Nebraska. This 9 minute clip is either horrific or delicious, depending on your point of view. Then again, my millennial friends asked me who Steve Martin was. Sheesh.

Great vocalist and bass player: Esperanza Spaulding may add to your cleanliness

Clean a room in your home for 30 minutes and your “carrot” could be a couple of videos featuring young bass player and vocalist, Esperanza Spaulding performing at the White House on two separate occasions.

On the Sunny Side of the Street (Catch Michelle and Barack grooving on the music of Ms. Spaulding.):

Overjoyed written by Stevie Wonder:

CBS All Access with Picard, The Good Fight and Evil

The Good Fight, an exclusive streaming spin-off series from The Good Wife was what got me to sign up for CBS All Access initially, but the catalogue has much more programming that might be of interest.

Initiated as a streaming service October 2014, CBS All Access has original programming, day later availability of CBS network broadcasts and vintage tv series like Twin Peaks, Cheers, CSI:Miami, Frasier, Taxi, Happy Days, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason and even Gunsmoke.

This is trekkie central for those who like the various versions of Star Trek since its debut in the 1960s. Being a Kate Mulgrew fan, I am currently watching Star Trek: Voyager. But then again, I could choose from Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Short Treks, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or even Star Trek: The Animated Series. Patrick Stewart has signed on to reprise his role as starship commander Jean-Luc Picard in the 8th Star Trek series, Picard which premiered on CBS All Access in January 2020.

You can even bounce between old series and their new versions like Hawaii Five-O or MacGyver.

Current well-reviewed comedies include Young Sheldon, The Unicorn and Mom. Alas, the entire series of The Big Bang Theory is not available on CBS All Access.

I do have two “guilty pleasure” dramatic series on the CBS streaming service, the cancelled Salvation and Evil, a fantasy created by Michelle King and Robert King who gave us The Good Wife and The Good Fight. Hey, I can’t live by PBS alone.

The streaming world is a huge smorgasbord and for now, I am sampling the fare at CBS All Access. For simplicity’s sake, I added the channel to my Amazon Prime Video package. As famed CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite used to say, “And that’s the way it is.”

https://www.cbs.com/all-access/

Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO

Call it comedy heresy but I never really got into the television series, Seinfeld when it was on network tv from 1989 to 1998. When I read that co-creator Larry David had a new sitcom, I avoided even checking out one episode, assuming that the humor would be similarly lost on me.

A friend recently suggested I give a chance to Curb Your Enthusiasm, now in its tenth season on HBO. Quelle surprise! Episode 1, Season 1 had me roaring with laughter. Subsequent episodes in Season 1 provided me with at least one belly laugh per show. I must admit that I have been lured into the comedic realm of Larry David.

Playing a version of himself, David displays rapier wit, blurts ill-advised comments and holds firm on quirky habits and rules that get him into layer upon layer of trouble. He’s a misanthrope, but a lovable, funny one.

The series is reminiscent of the Jackie Gleason Show in that David has an “Alice,” a patient, smart, eye-rolling wife, Cheryl David, played by comedic actress Cheryl Hines.

Hines’ early work with the Groundlings, an LA improvisational group, has served her well. Surprisingly, much of the brilliant dialogue on Curb Your Enthusiasm is improvised. As a side note, Hines was introduced to her current husband, Robert Kennedy Jr. by co-star David.

Running characters like Hines, Richard Lewis as himself, or Jeff Garlin playing David’s agent, Jeff Greene give an ensemble feel to the show. Guest stars Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis Dreyfus making cameo appearances add to the fun.

You just may want to catch Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO if you, like me, were initially immune to its charms. One season down. Nine to go. I wonder how many much-needed laughs that will be?

The Vertical Line on MHZ – Italian tv series

MHZ Choice, the tv streaming service, continues to introduce me to European television programs that I can’t find other places. The Vertical Line, an 8 episode dramedy from Italy is the freshest series I have seen in quite a while.

The cancer ward of an Italian public hospital seems like an unlikely place for a television show meant as entertainment, but each brief episode packs a punch of deep emotional truths and yes, comedy.

The main character, Luigi, played by the expressive-eyed Valerio Mastrandrea, is a devoted fortyish husband and father of a young child with a baby on the way. He tragically finds out he has a cancerous tumor that must be surgically removed.

He becomes part of an oncology ward where he encounters quirky patients, blasé doctors, aggressive nurses and med-techs and a morose hospital chaplain.

The show is semi-autobiographical in that the creator, Mattia Torre passed away on July 2019 at the age of 47 after experiences with the Italian medical establishment. As his tv swan song, Torre depicts joy and humor in The Vertical Line, as well as sadness in this excellent limited-run series.

If you want something completely different from American medical shows, check out The Vertical Line currently streaming on MHZ Choice. As a reminder, you can add MHZ Choice to your Amazon Prime Video package or sign up for the stand-alone app. It is worth every penny of the monthly $7.99 or $89.99 for the year.

https://watch.mhzchoice.com/

Songwriter Tom Lehrer: Biting Wit and Deep Thoughts

Over the years, I would hear mention of the name Tom Lehrer as this legendary songwriter of irreverent and topical tunes such as Poisoning Pigeons In the Park, The Vatican Rag, or National Brotherhood Week. Nor can one forget Buddy Charles’ stupendous rendition of Masochism Tango or the droll Hannukah in Santa Monica, a non-Christian holiday standard.

Lehrer’s popularity in the 1950s and 1960s included LP sales and writing music for the television show, That Was the Week That Was. Lehrer shifted his focus to teaching academic mathematics and musical theater in the early 1970s at places like MIT, Harvard, Wellesley and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

He was definitely a man of many interests having worked at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, enlisting in the military and doing a work stint for the NSA.

His relatively small catalogue of songs is still relevant today. Lehrer is now 91 years old. Isn’t it high time we start a tidal wave of interest in his material? Shame on me because I don’t currently have any of his songs in my repertoire, but hope to rectify that soon.

My friend Lydia Stux gave me this link of Lehrer performing a special concert in Denmark. He has this nerdy charm, with his horn-rimmed glasses and his surprisingly good singing and playing.

Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHPmRJIoc2k