Happiness is a New Binge

I don’t watch a lot of TV, not because I don’t love TV, I do, but because I’m all caught up in other things right now, mostly books. I do prefer books. But every now and then I trip over a TV series I didn’t know anything about that’s really good, that makes me think about the stories it tells and the characters it builds over the long haul. I didn’t find Leverage until it was over. I found Person of Interest midway through the second to last season. The Art of Crime purely by accident. And this week it happened again, a British detective series (come on, nobody does mystery like the Brits) that had one of those unlikely partnerships that evolved over three short seasons into something really lovely, not a romance but a real partnership between two people who value each other, all the while telling nicely twisted mysteries. This week McDonald & Dodds made me happy.

How did you tune into happiness this week?

93 thoughts on “Happiness is a New Binge

  1. Watched Avatar 3D at the biggest IMAX in UK. Awesome and totally worth the money. Only 3D movie I like and probably the best way to watch it. Pandora is so beautiful on that screen

  2. MacDonald and Dodds is filmed in my town! It’s great fun but we can’t work out why they think all Bathonians talk like pirates. Arrrr…..

    1. All I knew about Bath I learned from Georgette Heyer, so it’s a real kick to see how beautiful it is.

    2. As a former Bathonian – I lived there for 14 years and two of my kids were born there – I will need to watch this!

  3. My happy zone, right now, is the Rain Garden, where the New England Asters are in full purple and gold bloom, and swarming with all kinds of bees and butterflies. One day, I saw six Monarchs in there! There are always at least two. No caterpillars, so far, and the milkweed is looking pretty sick from the heat. Right now, there is a chipmunk outside my open window “ticking”. I’ve never noticed them doing that before. It’s very strange. They sit still and make a rhythmic ticking sound. Is it a mating call? I guess I could google it. The Opossums are coming much earlier, right after sunset, and the cuteness makes me smile. Nature can be so soothing. This site makes me happy, and each of you is hilarious in your own way. I love it!

    1. I’m fighting nightly with a raccoon that keeps trying to get in my back door. He’s cute as all hell but I still want him dead. We stare at each other through the glass door.

      1. I feel your pain. Those critters are devilishly persistent and destructive. Every morning, my squirrel-proof bird feeder is turned on the post, and has obviously been vandalized. I clear as much of the seed out of it as I can at night and put it on the ground for the Cardinals and Opossums, but the Raccoon still messes with the feeder. Sometimes it climbs a patio post and tries to get at the birdhouse at the top of it. They are cute, but they carry roundworms and can be rabid. Grrrr.

      2. good luck with raccoon.. I have cats and I feed stray cats that live in the woods so raccoons are a constant issue.. yes I have wished them dead many times, but I just am not a person who can do that.. and BTW any cat that crosses my path is trapped and neutered or spayed..

        1. Hilda, I have a friend who lives in a wooded area and gets stray cats, that she feeds. The raccoons are ruthless when it comes to small kittens. Sickening. Good for you.

          1. Mother Nature does not let protein go to waste.

            There’s a reason I tell people not to have rabbits as pets.

        2. I have no quarrel with raccoons if they stay the hell out of my house, but there’s one little bastard who is determined to move in with us. He’s actually chewed the bottom off my back door, so now I have to buy a new one. Little bastard.

    2. That low ticking sound, the site called it “chucking” is a warning of an aerial predator. Interesting. I did see a hawk fly into the trees soon after.

      1. Thank you for reporting. I was going to idly wonder but probably wouldn’t have looked it up. Now I don’t have to.

  4. Jenny (and everyone), did you ever try ELEMENTARY, with Jonnie Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as a modern-day Holmes & Watson in New York? I didn’t expect to like it (it seemed like they were stretching things a little too far), but ended up loving the first four seasons. I think it declines after that, but the first four seasons are extremely well done. All four lead actors are good, with good chemistry; Miller is amazing; the mysteries are interesting and excellent, and the writing and directing is great. I’ve wondered before if you’d seen it, because I think you might enjoy it quite a bit. In any case, I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys TV mysteries. (Fun sidelight: Vinnie Jones (Gareth from Galavant) has a recurring role in several episodes.) Now I must try to find MacDonald & Dobbs on PBS or BBC or CD . . .

      1. All right. I finally spelled both names correctly and am now on the library hold list for a DVD of the first season. McDonald & Dodds. By George, I think I’ve got it.

    1. Yep, we did a whole Sherlock comparison thing many years back. I thought it was a great series.

    2. Saw the first couple of Seasons of Elementary, lots of fun, especially when Everyone gives Sherlock challenges in return for favours. I would have paid to watch him perform the Frozen challenge

  5. I don’t think I never ever minded spoilers. I mean I routinely read the endings of books. So, imagine my surprise when I read an article about a TV series (on Netflix) I have been watching over the last month. The article gave a partial rundown over the past eight or so seasons of Blacklist. I’m so bummed. I mean the show itself is so farfetched what with spies and plot twists. I can’t get myself to get into the next episode and I’m only into the second season.

    On the other hand, a show I’ve been watching on Amazon is an older Australian police drama, Blue Heelers, from 1994. The clothing style of one of the early characters brings me back to what I once wore, shoulder pads, vests but not the bows or hair ties. I’m not a bow person. The story line is about a town police station with a small group of officers, constables, detective and head of the department is a Sargeant not a Chief of Police, but whatever. Maybe I like it better because it is local with local issues and not all over the world. Plus they only work the day shift with one officer taking phone calls at night at home if there are any problems.

    1. My son is visiting for a week. Only two more weeks to go at my job and then I can rest. (Will be doing part time consulting.)
      Ok I won’t rest I have a million things to do for my family but the pressure will be off.
      And I’m planning walks with friends and trying new recipes

      1. Also, to brighten my day, I’ve been following fun Twitter accounts. “Weird Medieval Guys.” “Mets_Costume” “How’s it’s made”

        And a new favorite @LizTruss, the woman who has the Twitter account that everyone thinks is the prime minister but isn’t .

  6. On vacation so life is wonderful. Lake Michigan is beautiful. The sun is shining. I have books and chocolate and a comfortable couch for now and a walk later.

      1. We are in Suttons Bay this time. We have always gone to Cat Head Bay before (tip of the Lelanau pennisula) but over the years places we have rented were no longer available or got super expensive. The place we rented last year was nice but very expensive, so we thought we’d try this (only moderately expensive) one. Farther away from our favorite hiking trails and slow internet, but otherwise we are very pleased so far. Like most parts of Lake Michigan, it is lovely.

    1. I used to go to Lake Michigan every summer. I love the dunes area. I would walk the beach and collect crinoid fossil rocks. It’s just lovely there.

  7. I was a little iffy on McDonald & Dodds at first, but it really grew on me. I suspect it’s re-watchable, which is rare.

    Since we’re talking tv today, I watched the second season of Van der Valk (the new version) this week for lack of anything else to watch and a need to pass some time mindlessly. I’d been less than impressed with the first season’s beginning, but it got better by the end, like the show had finally gotten its feet under it, so I had high hopes for the second season, but it just bored me, despite being based on really sensational murders. I think it’s badly miscast with Marc Warren as the leader — I’ve liked him in other roles, and he does his best here, but he just isn’t credible as a dark & broody guy, which I think the character is supposed to be. Also, the writing lets him down, with some of the secondary characters just not making any sense. Oh, but it’s almost worth watching for the medical examiner alone. He’s great.

    But to end on a happy note — if you haven’t seen Professor T (the new version on PBS with the guy from the first season of Death in Paradise, also a happy-making series), I recommend it. And I saw somewhere that there’s a second season coming soon-ish, and I wasn’t sure there’d be one.

      1. I like Death in Paradise, too, especially the tropical island setting, characters and culture. But I have a hard time with some accents, so the combination of heavy British, French and Caribbean accents forces me to use closed caption.

    1. There are a couple of versions of Professor T; I think from different countries. I thought the one I saw was very good, but I’m damned if I can remember which one it was.

  8. Elementary, which we watch an episode or two almost every night. DH loves the series. Interesting to see their clothing choices change as their story arcs progress. One episode Sherlock hands Joan a garment bag with a designer outfit bc they had a new case. Joan had some great outfits. As she gained confidence as an investigator she changed her style. Also watching the last few episodes of The Blacklist. Some very dark shows. Have cleanse the mind before going to bed.

    Yesterday we attended former neighbour’s 50th, great fun. Finally wore the dress I bought for the planned 2020 holiday that wasn’t. Happiness was wearing MIL’s vintage rhinestone broach and drinking a glass of Muscato. Oh, and a great French dinner at Au Comptoir with eldest kiddos for my birthday. Was a happy week. My present was a book. Miss Dior by Justine Picardie, Christian Dior’s younger sister, Catherine, who was in the French Resistance, captured and sent to Ravensbruck.

  9. The coaxial cable connector on my 24″ TV/DVD is totally defective, so I couldn’t connect an antenna. There is no outlet to the dotter’s cable in the garage. TV shows are not an option… unless I can watch on my computer. Other than Amazon Prime, I have no subscription services (yet).

    I did a quick scan of Prime to see if there was anything I wanted to watch. There might have been, but nothing stood out. Well, maybe Buffy the Vampire Slayer… nah.

    I think the dotter has Netflix. Maybe she’ll share.

    Absent binging, I have to get my happy from gardening. I put up an October Farm Report. That and food. I’ve decided that chili is the universal food. You can add chili to pasta or rice or on omelets or salads. Substitute chili for tomato sauce on a pizza crust and add mozzarella. It makes great tacos. 🙂

    1. When I was growing up, my mother used chili as an all-purpose vehicle for leftovers. 🙂 There were some strange chilis along the way, but all of them were edible!

      1. It’s my standard oh-god-this-meal-went-wrong recovery method. Throw in a heap of chili spices and it’ll be fine again.

      2. I will admit that I’ve been making mostly ground beef chilis. Either 96% lean or 93% lean. Sometimes I add a little sausage or ground pork (OMG the sodium!) or ground poultry. I haven’t had reason to add leftover chicken or stew beef, but garbage chili is always a possibility.

        This most recent batch has more tomato, onion and peppers (sweet & hot) than beef. Much veggies. Relatively low in sodium, which is important to me.

  10. This week, happy is having got the first of two shingles vaccine shots out of the way. Yesterday afternoon was fine, last night wasn’t so good, today I’m fatigued with a headache … but fortunately there is nothing I absolutely must do. I have some low-mental-demand writer business on the list and will be satisfied if I get that finished (plus I really need to write out an updated ‘writer bizness to-do list.’ The one from August 8 is a mess).

    Also happy, seeing the birds using the yard. My tiny hummingbird garden out back is doing exactly what I hoped. The scrub jays have been in evidence this week. And this morning I spotted some variety of small green & gray bird in three different places out back. It’s either one of the 1000 kinds of warblers or a female/juvenile goldfinch.

  11. I’m safely back home after a good trip down south. Especially enjoyed my niece’s wedding yesterday, and spending time with an American cousin and her husband, who I hadn’t seen for eight years. I’ve been feeling out on a limb, but felt welcomed and part of the family. The newlyweds are due here tonight, en route to Holyhead and the ferry to Ireland tomorrow, so
    I’m doing my best to make their stay honeymoon worthy (fresh flowers & strawberries from the allotment, and makings for the breakfast they like).

  12. I’m sharing this “holidayFlat” with someone here to take a masters in creative writing from the university. Today he let me read his first assignment and it was Good. I hope he makes it to publishing. We can always use more writers with stories to tell.
    I wanted to say something helpful. He showed it to me in sheer frustration at the (very sparse, and arguably wrong twice) critque he got from the professor.
    So I remember that there are good suggestions on how to give critque on this blog somewhere but where? Anybody? I remember things not to do, like line corrections (which she did!) and to mention places where I didn’t follow (none) but I’m sure there was more. I’d really like to say more than “that was good, is there more?”

    1. It’s often recommended to start with something positive — you can always find something done well even in a train wreck, and it sounds like you won’t have a problem with that in this case. Follow it with something that could use some work or a spot where you got confused. Stick to just one or two things, so it’s not overwhelming. And then end with something positive, either a repeat of the first thing or some new positive, perhaps tied to the thing you criticized (e.g., if the criticism is “you do a lot of showing instead of telling,” then the positive is “In this place, you did some really good showing, so aim for more of that.”).

      For fiction, way back in the CherryWriters yahoogroup we had questions that would elicit issues with conflict (which is, in my experience, where most beginning , and even advanced. writers fall down — I have to relearn it myself with each book). The questions went something like: what is one thing that absolutely must be kept (the initial positive thing), what are your expectations going into the scene (to see if the beginning of the scene sets expectations of mood, setting, characters involved, etc.), who’s the protagonist, what does she want (goal), who’s getting in her way (antagonist), and … oh, heck, I forget. I think there were a couple more. Oh, I know an important one: how did the protagonist change over the course of the scene?

      When I critique (usually queries, where the questions about conflict also apply), I usually add “what is the protagonist doing about their goal,” because I’ve found that it’s very common for queries to be entirely passive. The protagonist wants something, and then stuff happens TO the protagonist (beyond the inciting event), without the protagonist causing them to happen, so it’s just stuff raining down on the protagonist, rather than the protagonist pushing the story forward. I suspect that’s a useful question to ask for fiction scenes too, to make sure it’s not a sitting & thinking scene.

      1. Someone once said you make a sandwich critique, with a positive comment up front, then a constructive criticism in the middle, and end with a positive comment. That seems like what you were saying, in a very simplified way.

      2. This is the bathtub method of feedback (known in the UK military as the shit sandwich. Sorry). It has drawbacks because the person on the receiving end tends to focus on either the positive or the negative part of the sandwich, so half your feedback gets lost. The other drawback is that people know when you’re using it so they see the pattern coming and again, important parts of your feedback can be lost because of the delivery method.

    2. Ask him what he wants you to look for.

      For me, I just want a good reader, somebody who can say, “This doesn’t make sense” or “I got bored here.” But some people want you to look for specific things.

      The critique form I give me students is:

      Who’s the protagonist? What’s their goal?
      Who’s the antagonist? What’s their goal?
      What’s the main conflict?
      What should be changed (to make this story more effective)?
      What must be kept (this is great, do not change it)?

      But that was for class, not for beta reads.

      And never ever ever ever change somebody’s writing. Ever.

  13. Loved McDonald and Dodds but all time favorite show of the year definitely is Harry Wild! Jane Seymour puts in a brilliant performance as a newly retired literature professor teaming up with a young student to be PI 🕵🏼‍♂️ s in Dublin! Redemption is also pretty good.

    1. Me too re Harry Wild! I found it great fun. And the combo duo between Jane and the young boy made sense within its fictional world, which is not always the case, so I gave it brownie points for that, too:)

  14. Got several tings crossed off the 3 month to do list. One of them was the flu/covid shots. I had a bit of a reaction to the shots 9night chills and aches) but that’s done a with enough time before out election to build my immunity.

    I made some bischotti-oat, cranberry, pecan.

    And the chimney people were here. It doesn’t seem like a major job. I’ll be getting the estimate soon. That’s the hing really weighing on me so progress is great.

  15. British crime series on television that have been a big hit up here include River, The Unforgotten and most recently, Annick; all with Nicola Walker (my current favourite actress/actor who has a remarkable face both beautiful and ugly.

  16. I’m in the middle of Shetland and loving it. I recently binged The Brokenwood Mysteries (set in New Zealand), Recipes for Love and Murder (set in South Africa), and The Chelsea Dectivies (obviously set in London’s Chelsea neighbourhood). I’m a big fan of BritBox and Acorn!

    Oh, and on PBS is the second season of Van der Valk.

    1. Apparently there is a season 6 of Shetland out on DVD, but no US version available. I’ve been waiting a while. 😢

      1. I’m watching season 7 of Shetland. I’m not sure if it’s on Prime or Britbox or Acorn. But it’s one of those.

        1. Ooo, season 7??? Unfortunately I don’t stream any of those; I buy dvds instead. Guessing if I can’t get 6, I can’t get 7. Will check. Thanks!

  17. I remember you mentioning The Art of Crime, but I can’t remember what channel it was on. I like a lot of the British shows (both mystery and comedy), but they have such short seasons, I whip through them in no time.

    I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show (the newer ones have a bonus of the guy from The IT Crowd, Noah Fielding, who played the goth in the back room) and Escape to the Country, which is a British show with people looking for properties to buy in various picturesque parts of the UK. Pure escapism.

    My happy this week was finally having a new, working downstairs toilet after nearly a week of it not flushing. Sadly, my happy didn’t last, since there seems to be an ongoing problem, despite everything the handyman did, including replacing the actual toilet. Tomorrow, I start chasing a plumber. I will be very happy if I can catch one, and really get this resolved.

    1. I found The Art of Crime on MHZ through Amazon. It’s a weird little channel but it has excellent subtitled shows on it.

      1. We have been watching the bastards of pizzofalcone on MHZ. The plotting is weak but the architecture of Naples is fabulous and the main characters draw you in .

      2. You can also buy it as streaming video from Amazon quite reasonably. Since I watch on my Kindle Fire, I get it in SD rather than HD, and a 6-episode season is ~$9.

    2. Big fan of Escape to the Country, too. And Location, Location, Location with Kirstie and Phil. Been watching both for ages. Little tip: if you want to see some follow-ups to the Escape folks, they do catch-up shows called I Escaped to the Country.

      Also re Art of Crime and Harry Wild–I saw the Art show first so when I saw Jane in Harry it seemed like a similar concept because in Art of Crime the main female lead uses her art knowledge to help solve crimes, and in Harry Wild, Jane, as a retired professor, uses her knowledge of English literature a lot to help her. From the writing perspective, though, they differ to me in structure because the Art shows seems to follow a more consistent format whereas Harry’s plotlines feel more diverse and fluid. Really fun:)

  18. I have been working on clearing out a corner of my basement for a library and am finally getting close! I donated boxes and boxes of books and moved or donated piles of oddments. Letting go of books was so hard, but I still have plenty to fill my nine floor to ceiling bookcases. I have a comfy chair, my husband installed new lighting, and I’m going to indulge myself with a beautiful, luxurious area rug, something that will make me smile every time I see it. I’m so excited!

    1. Also, for fun check out Sprung a comedy on Amazon Freevee about three inmates who are released from prison because of the pandemic.

  19. There are buds on my grape vines.

    I moved into this place with its half-acre garden early this year. The grape vines were chaos and obviously hadn’t been pruned for years. I’ve never had grape vines before, so I watched a couple of youtube videos, decided what the heck, and chopped like crazy back most of the way to the main trunks. And now there are buds and there will be grapes. The garden feels a bit overwhelming at times but this was very encouraging.

    1. I planted my grapes in an area where they gradually were shaded out and grape production dropped to nil. But every spring when we did out hard pruning, I had so many grape leaves and it was always our annual feast of grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb, rice and herbs served with tzatziki sauce. The grapes were finally so pathetic, I removed them. I still miss doing that although it was a ton of work. They were so much tastier than any I bought.

  20. Based on your recommendation, I watched the first episode of McDonald & Dodds. It did not disappoint. Dodds in particular was not at all what I expected.

        1. And it’s so lovely when she realizes that and values him and protects him. It’s such a great partnership.
          I can’t wait to see her boyfriend, assuming he ever shows up. I love the way they talk about him, the way Dodds has a friendship with him that boggles her mind.

  21. Had the Biovalent shot yesterday. My fifth vaccine and not a single side effect any time. However, I did have a dream last night that I was trapped in a kind of combination of Schoolmance and The Bachelorette.

  22. I got a phone call that made me very happy this week. My auxiliary niece called to let me know how her 3 year old twins liked their birthday books. We had a lovely time comparing notes on our favorite picture books and I was so inspired by our discussion that I ordered them a copy of my latest favorite.Unfortunately, in order to qualify for free shipping, I also ordered 3 more books. They are sequels to the one we discussed and I hope they live up to the first one.

    I am also happy that I will get to see a new knee specialist tomorrow. My left knee has been gradually deteriorating ever since I stopped physical therapy and now it is making it hard for me to walk. I dug out my old cane, but I have been having trouble using it because I am used to using it on the other side. I keep walking into the cane and knocking it over……

  23. Work went a bit stupid again over school holidays so I’ve been just following along here without contributing, but not going to work today has made me very happy indeed. As have some wonderful social things over the past few weeks, like seeing Postmodern Jukebox live on tour. I had forgotten how wonderful live music can be, and how happy making it is.

      1. They were outstanding. Rogelio Davis and Tia Simone were both magnificent, and there was a phenomenal tap dancer too. Such a good time.

  24. I don’t watch much tv these days. However, I’ll check out some of these suggestions. I spent the weekend doing a virtual card making workshop. Learned many new techniques and made a large number of pretty cards.

  25. When the internet and cable went out during the storm, I looked at my collection of DVDs, and figured I wouldn’t be disappointed. First, I watched “Going Postal”, which I thought was very faithful to the book. I thought Moist and Adora had great chemistry, and that Ventinari was exactly as I had imagined him.

    I followed that up by putting in my DVDs of Community. It’s fun and weird with a lot of inside jokes that I get, which makes me feel a part of it. I’ll probably continue to watch various series / movies for the next month or so, since almost all election ads are heinous.

  26. Happiness was my lovely trip to Amsterdam and Paris, walking around with my bestie and eating wonderful food in bistros and going to museums and a concert at the Sainte Chapelle.
    Happiness was coming home on Friday and sleeping in my own magnificent bed, with the memory foam and the fluffy pad, with the firm mattress underneath.

    Also, having a 92nd birthday dinner for my dad with most of my siblings there, and laughing and sharing our jet-lagged condition.

  27. I’m not yet in the binging mood, there are too many chores to do first, but I did watch Only Murders in the Building and loved it. I’d watched the first 2-3 episodes sporadically (meaning I’d be totally enthralled and then wander away, which is a comment on me not the show) and then one night was waiting on Paul to get home from a football game and started watching. By the time he got home, I was almost done the first season.

    My new (fancy) peony roots arrived today and they are huge and gorgeous and I’m going to plant them this evening. I’m so excited.

    I’m also painting closet doors which is not as exciting but a much-needed step toward getting them hung back up, which will be exciting. We are turning all the bifolds into French doors which means much better access to closets but does require some trimming of the doors in a few cases.

  28. I just started a new series tonight (because I did my final first draft stuff on Vermillion) and I’m really liking Murder in Provence because of the relationship between the two leads and even more because of the woman’s clothes. Fabulous fashion.

    1. Loved Murder in Provence once I got past very famous English actors pretending to be French and slagging off the British. Madame Blanc Mysteries is a good follow up, gorgeous scenery!

    2. I enjoyed Murder in Provence, too – once I realized they were meant to be French. There’s only been one series so far, but hopefully there’ll be more.

      1. I was a little confused there, too, especially since he’s a judge although they did a quick and dirty explanation of that early on so that helped. I just like their relationship: no angst, no jealousy, easy-going and understanding. Also her mother is a hoot.
        She wore a pink sort of puckery material jacket in the first one, and I did a google search and found out other people are insane for her clothes, too. They’re all so simple and light and comfortable and they look terrific. And the scenery is amazing.

  29. I’ve been enjoying Recipes for Love and Murder. Such beautiful colors and gorgeous scenes of cooking.

  30. I recommend the Frankie Drake Mysteries. Especially if you liked Phryne Fisher. Characters are quirky and lovable. Unlike Phryne – Frankie has a female detective partner.
    Good compelling plots / stories.
    Clothes & cinematics reminiscent of Phryne Fisher also.
    They stream on PBS which I don’t have so I bought the first 3 seasons. There is a 4th season that I will now buy and look forward to bingeing!

  31. Oh and I second the Chelsea Detective. I normally see the lead as a creepy villain so I resisted watching for a while, but I was charmed. Highly recommend. I dare say I like it about as much as McDonald & Dodds.

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