New fall TV shows

Up from the depths: placed our 95-year-old mother in an adult family home after a series of health crises. She loathes the place, is filled with rage, and not speaking to me. It’s been a fun-filled couple of weeks around here.

The PBS three-part series “Breathless,” was a “Mad Men” wannabe but had some great moments, especially the scene with the menopausal wife of a cheating spouse whose doctors give her short shrift: pumping her full of hormones and anti-depressants which make her bonkers. What she really needed was a divorce and an affair with a much-younger man.

Love the new season of “Good Wife” with its great scripts, wonderful acting, and Margulies’s and Baranski’s fabulous costumes and jewelry.

I started watching the dreadful “Madame Secretary” because of my fondness for Téa Leoni and Tim Daly, and then kept at it. The only explanation I have is that Channel 11 took “The Closer” off its 8 PM schedule.

Not only is Ms. Leoni wrong for the part, several of her supporting cast members are really smarmy (the kid who plays her son; that perpetual bummer dude Zeljko Ivanek; creepy Geoffrey Arend and his equally creepy cohort Patina Miller) and the scripts are insipid. Naturally, it’s a hit!

Speaking of unbelievable scripts ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” is another inexplicable hit. I’m only hanging in until they reveal who killed the husband and why. Fast forward please—put me out of my misery!

As for PBS: I liked the new, albeit very short season of “Inspector Lewis” but, as sacrilegious as this sounds I wasn’t very taken with “Death Comes to Pemberley,” a Masterpiece Theatre two-parter that aired last night.

While it was fun recognizing the actor who plays an ADA on “The Good Wife” and the actress who played Doc Martin’s inept substitute as Darcy’s housekeeper, disturbing images of Matthew Rhys in “The Americans” kept surfacing. I had to tune out of “The Americans” and “The Bridge” because of the high level of smut and violence that my fragile soul couldn’t handle.

However, I’ll probably watch Episode II of Pemberley (by the way I couldn’t get into P.D. James’ book either) because I must find out whodunit.

Who’s dressing Whoopi Goldberg?

At Joan Rivers’ splashy funeral today in New York Whoopi entered wearing what I can only assume was a Home Ec project gone horribly awry–a draped tent-like creation of triangulated flappy black fabrics stitched together with reckless abandon. Old Whoop is ready for Halloween!

Joan would have hated it!

Summer reading–hits and misses

The Wind is Not a River”–finished Brian Payton’s novel, but still can’t grasp the meaning of the dumb title. The book was good, although I was shocked to see at least two embarrassing typos. Shame on his editors!

Tried Lori MooresBark–read a couple chapters. Ho hum.

B. J. NovaksOne More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” was amusing up to middle of the first chapter when profanity raised its ugly head and I threw the book across the room. Simply no need for that rubbish!

Just finished Anna Quindlen’s latest novel “Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel” and loved it! I highly recommend Crumbs to everyone, especially Baby Boomers.

Forcing myself to start the bestseller Little Failure: A Memoir” by Gary Shteyngart but have low expectations. Not my milieu and I tend to steer clear of authors whose names I can’t pronounce.

Fat chance

Read Karen Valby’s essay in defense of Melissa McCarthy in Entertainment Weekly’s July 4th edition and while it’s great to rail against McCarthy’s mistreatment by the media over her obesity I’ve never understood why anyone with wealth would choose to be so overweight. You recall my disgust at Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s inability, despite his vast wealth and resources, to seek help for his drug and alcohol problems…well, same goes for McCarthy. I don’t think Internet trolls and film critics should dwell on McCarthy’s obesity in such cruel ways, but if I had her dough I’d check into a weight loss spa pronto.

On the Hoffman death: just my opinion

Once again the media are making a big to-do about the sudden death of yet another celebrity and professional drug addict—this time Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Yes, he was an excellent actor but does that mean he deserves to get more press coverage than Maximilian Schell, the Oscar-winning Austrian actor who died Feb. 1st at age 83 without 75 bags of heroin at his side?

I know the message about the evils of drug addiction must be shared, it just seems we focus too much on people who don’t deserve our adulation. The fact Hoffman was the father of three young children makes his story even more sordid, his actions more reprehensible. Unlike thousands of addicts, Hoffman had vast resources at his disposal to cope with or kick his depression, obesity and drug habit. Shameful, really shameful.

Sorry state of book publishing today

In his acknowledgements Aussie writer Graeme Simsion, author of the bestselling novel “The Rosie Project,” which I mentioned yesterday, sites twenty-two mentors, book gurus, editors, family members plus several writing and critique groups who helped him on his SIX YEAR journey from concept to published novel.

It should NOT be this difficult to get a quality book published, but unfortunately seems to be a sad reality today.

Phony online reviews

Bravo to New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who’s attempting to dismantle what he calls “a system of creating false online reviews for products and services,” according to a recent Associated Press article.

“Large scale intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution,” he said. By next year, one researcher estimates, 10 to 15 percent of social media reviews will be fake.

That figure seems conservative. A travel and dining aficionado, I’ve long been suspicious of Trip Advisor reviews of hotels and restaurants, and Yelp is hopeless. There must be shady dealings going on to explain why terrible places get rave reviews. The problem isn’t confined to English language reviews, either. I often see bogus reviews in fractured French or grammatically challenged Spanish. And of course many so-called respected online travel guide reviews are ancient, terribly out of date, and cannot be trusted.