Break out the beer and skittles! It’s time for an entertainment update, our short reviews of media we’ve consumed in the past year or so. We capriciously rate each item on a scale of 1 to 3 sheets to the wind, with 3 being a favourite.


WandaVision – Disney’s Marvel franchise long since grew legs long enough to spin a vast and complex spider’s web of interconnecting story lines while employing every B list or better actor in Hollywood. This short series is clearly written for our demographic, kids that grew up watching 60s and 70s sitcoms. Identifying the references makes the first few episodes simultaneously hilarious and elegiacal. Some understanding of the backstory is useful, but 10 minutes with Google should answer any pressing questions. – MN/CK [3]

Lupin – The current essence of French cool, Omar Sy, has a Netflix show that fully showcases his talents. With only five episodes in the first season, things for Sy’s heist/revenge/con artist get off to a quick start. During a recent webinar the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, was asked what she was watching during lockdown. Without hesitation she said ‘Lupin’. Season 2 is coming this summer. – MN/CK [3]

For All Mankind – Speaking of the 1960s, Apple TV’s space opera retells America’s Apollo mission and toys with ‘what if’ parallel stories. What if the Russians landed first? What if Teddy Kennedy cancelled his party on Chappaquiddick as a result? What if America recruited and deployed female astronauts? You get the idea. A perfectly reasonable premise suffers from so-so writing and directing. Episodes vary from great to groaners. Despite that the acting is first rate and the special effects everything a flat earth conspiracist could hope for. – MN/CK [2]

The Mandalorian – If you’ve ever been caught in a moral dilemma and wondered what baby Yoda would do, the Mandalorian has the answer. Targeted for the 9-11 age group, this show lacks the scripting chops to engage adults (other than diehard fans) in the ways that make Marvel movies consistently entertaining. But if you need a space Western, or want to understand what life is like after the end of the Empire, the Mandalorian may fill your vessels. Baby Yoda is adorable and Pedro Pascal effective as Clint Eastwood in a helmet. – MN/CK [2]


Carol has been on a book reading tear over the past year. Among her favourite reads is everything by Tana French. Starting with the Wych Elm (titled the Witch Elm in America, presumably because Penguin thinks poorly of America’s reading abilities), she then delved into French’s six book Dublin Murder Squad series, knocking off five of them in short order. Pure pandemic escapism and two very enthusiastic thumbs up. – CK [3]

Confederates in the Attic – At some point in the 1970s one of my father’s students, returning from a summer in Europe, commented that people there still seemed to be fighting World War II. My father replied that shouldn’t be surprising, people in the United States are still fighting the Civil War 100 years after it ended. Tony Horwitz’s outstanding exploration of America’s relationship with the Civil War is now 25 years old. It might have been written a month ago. If you want to dig deep into the origins and motivations for the Capitol invasion in January, this is a fascinating starting point. Horwitz delves into the war’s mythologies and explores revisionism and its effect on modern American culture. – MN [3]

Four FishKeeley kindly left this book with us after crossing last summer. Paul Greenberg’s page turner explores our relationship with salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna. Published in 2010, every bad thing going on in the world’s oceans identified in the book has only gotten worse. If you want to know why salmon is cheaper than mackerel and where all the cod went, this book has answers. – MN [3]


Radha Blank

The 40-Year-Old Version – Hands down the best comedy for years, perhaps decades. Playwright Radha Blank’s hilariously self-deprecating humour carries her (semi-autobiographical) character through a full exploration of what it means to turn 40 and reinvent yourself. – MN/CK [3]

Crip Camp – A wonderful documentary on how a group of disabled kids from around the United States met at camp, formed a community and went on to change the world. Another reminder of how screwed up things were in the 1970s and how long and hard the disenfranchised have to fight for equality. Today there are millions of old folks benefitting from the infrastructure changes brought about by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Say thank you every time you use a sidewalk ramp. – MN/CK [3]

The News of the World / Greyhound – Two Tom Hanks vehicles. The first would be a much better movie had the director cut 30 minutes out of it. We expect more from Paul Greengrass. Tom’s co-star, the young Helena Zengel, is outstanding as Johanna. And Tom is enough of a pro not to be upstaged. Greyhound is a WWII merchant shipping movie directed by Hanks. More of an homage to the greatest generation, while not great, it is a better film than News. – MN/CK [1.75/2.5]

The Call of the Wild – Han Solo grumps it out with a computer-generated dog in the backwoods. Omar Sy shows up and offers some relief from the mawkish grind. – MN/CK [1.2]

Tenet – More time shifting nonsense and endless exposition from Christopher Nolan. As Frank Zappa said, ‘save your money, don’t go to the show.’ – MN [0.3]


Renegades: Born in the USA – Bruce and Barak discuss their lives, their work, and America. – MN/CK [3]

You’re Wrong About – ‘Mike and Sarah are journalists obsessed with the past. Every week they reconsider an event, person or phenomenon that’s been miscast in the public imagination.’ Well researched, it has been great fun reviewing the past 50-60 years with a longer, more objective lens. – MN/CK [3]



  1. I’m happily in the 9-11 age group by thoroughly enjoying mandoloran- with my 3 year old grandson, my teenage nephews and my husband! Oh for more simple good and bad guys with blasters. Plus we can pull out all the old toys from previous generations and have a light saber party. Agree on lupin, Tara French etc. have you read A Stony Road? Miss you guys.

    1. Thanks Sue! If the Mandalorian rekindles evenings of multi-generational TV viewing, then more power to it! I’ve not read (Stony the Road), but will put it on the list. High time we caught up!

  2. I love love love The Mandalorian. I can’t even explain why. I’m not a die hard Star War fan. There is just something about it. I love baby Yoda. I love Pedro Pascal. I love the space cowboy vibe.

    But the best thing I’ve watched in the past year has to be Ted Lasso on Apple TV. Two seasons with another coming. I watched it with Jean MacD and then watched it again with my kids (despite the vulgar language). 🙂

    Love Tana French. Recently read The Midnight Library which starts off horribly but ends wonderfully.


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