Craig's Favorites of 2018
That Blockbuster in 2005 Feeling

Derry Girls: A Half-hearted Recommendation

This is a British comedy series set in Northern Ireland in the early 1990s and featuring a quartet of teenage schoolgirls. I had never heard of it, but it showed up on Netflix recently and my wife and I thought it looked interesting enough to give it a try. We pretty quickly went through all six episodes of season 1, which are all that are currently available. A second series is supposed to be available this spring.

Reason #1 for recommending it: it's often very funny.

Reason #2 for recommending it: the girls are Catholic, and the Troubles of Northern Ireland are in progress, and so along with what are I suppose fairly typical sitcom stories there are interesting background views of the culture and the times.

Reason #1 for not recommending it: it's frequently quite vulgar, though that of course is normal in contemporary entertainment. And it's persistently irreverent toward all things Catholic. Worse, though, is an incident in episode 3 which is just out-and-out sacrilegious from the Catholic point of view (and should be for any Christian, as it involves Mary). As an event in the plot it's an accident, and not the deliberate act of any of the characters. Still, the producers of the show thought it up and implemented it, which doesn't speak well of them. So if you choose to watch it be warned. You won't miss all that much if you just skip episode 3 altogether. 

I must say that I don't have very high hopes for the second season. The first one ends with someone announcing that she's a lesbian: these days that's about as imaginative a plot device as Frankie having a crush on Annette.

Well, watch the trailer and see if you think it's funny:

By the way, if you watch it, you'll probably want to turn on captions. I would have found a fair amount of it unintelligible without them. 


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Yes, I'm sceptical of the second season. I thought the first season was almost uniformly hilarious (the exception being the episode you suggest skipping). I thought the episodes with the chip shop and the Ukrainians particularly funny.

Of course the main characters are much more my contemporaries, not just chronologically but geographically as well (Catholic schools in England having very large Irish populations). I didn't have dry eyes at the ending.

I was just a little disappointed by that last scene, mainly because I had decided that it was going to be Napoleon Dynamite, with the whole school being won over by the nerd. It was sweet, though.

Yes, the chip shop and Ukrainian bits were hilarious.

I was a little surprised at the intensity of anti-English feeling portrayed, but that obviously is a function of my ignorance.

It looks very funny. Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, the Irish don't like the English very much.

I know that in my head, of course, but seeing it manifested at the personal level still surprised me. One of the running characters is a boy, a cousin of one of the girls, who is as Irish as they are but was raised in England and speaks that way, and he lives in fear, with some reason.

Watched the first episode. Very funny

[thumbs up]

I have started on Shtisel, which comes heavily recommended by a colleague who speaks Hebrew. The first episode was slow, with no death or killing. Will report back.

Abe Greenwald recommended 'Travellers' on the Commentary podcast. It seemed he had to urge Podhoretz to watch it through the first five episodes, and then it became really good. I persuaded a student to watch it on these grounds to watch it, and he gave up after ten minutes. I tried myself and lasted seven minutes. Has anyone lasted through a few episodes?

I have watched all three seasons. I liked it.

I also though Homecoming was pretty good.


Shitsel or Travellers?

Funny coincidence, I had never heard of Shitsel until yesterday when a commenter at Dreher's blog recommended it strongly and at length.

I watched the first season of Travellers. Didn't like it enough to continue.



Its a chap who teaches Hebrew Bible here in the mid-West. He is obsessed about Malick and worships Breakign Bad.

Janet I think I will have a second attempt at Travellers. I read the Wiki description of the first episode, so I can go back and at least know what's happening there

The ONLY kind of science fiction I find congenial is time travel. That is why I will try to be patient with this show

Funny, that's one of the two that I find least congenial, the other being Robot/Android/Computer Develops Human Emotions. Time travel into the future is ok, but into the past, usually to change something and affect the future, is so paradoxical that I have trouble suspending disbelief. Though that wasn't the main reason I didn't go further with Travellers. I guess I just didn't find the story and the characters all that intriguing.

By the way it is definitely "Shtisel," not "Shitsel"...:-)

I think I am easily amused.



Somehow quite typically I started the misspelling

My bda

:-) :-)

Just finished a Nordic noir that I liked a lot: Inspector Winter. Dates from 2010 but just came out on DVD in 2017. Four two-part episodes.

Some complaints online about the stories being too slow and moody, but in this case I think that's a plus, as it gives the show a more cinematic quality than your typical cop series. Plus each story is a full two hours, so you're basically getting four "movies." That extra half-hour or so makes a noticeable difference.

Also just finished season 4 of "Spiral," the French "Wire." Continues to be very good.

Next up: Happy Valley, series 2.

Happy Valley is excellent. If they produce any further series, I'll certainly watch them.

Rob, I watched the first season of Spiral, and couldn't take the darkness. I couldn't sleep after the episode with the child prostitute, and I didn't realize that was a clue. I find the final episode too horrifying for words. It left me feeling shattered. Nothing could persuade me to continue.

Understood, Grumpy. It is a pretty dark series, generally speaking.

Did we ever get the third Detectorist?


I'm pretty sure it's out but I haven't looked for it on Netflix or Amazon.

I sympathize with you, Grumpy. Several developments in Breaking Bad affected me that way. As great as I thought it was, I don't want to see it again. (Also I'm not sure I'd want to spend 50 hours or whatever it is on it.)

A couple of years ago, I watched some of the Detective Montalbano (Inspector Montalbano in the UK) series set in Sicily. Very different from Nordic noir. You can watch a short preview of the show here.

Very different! Worth a look.

By the way the third series of Detectorists is on Netflix but dvd-only.

Trailer to season 2 actually looks potentially encouraging:

Allowing for the fact that I only understood about half of that, yes, it does. Sister Michael is hilarious.

Oh, thanks. I guess I'll hold on to the DVD subscription for a month.


Ha. It was in my queue!

Has anyone seen Dark Earth Rising? I think it is pretty good.


Black Earth, not Dark.


I haven't. Scifi I guess?

No, it's about a woman who is a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda. She was adopted by a woman lawyer who persecuted war criminals from the genocide. It's complicated. ;-) I actually think it's very good--much better than I expected.


oh yeah, I think you've mentioned it to me.

Must have been somebody else. I think this is the first I have mentioned it to anybody.


I've got it down as something to watch, but I've only just got round to watching Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Perhaps after that.

I want to watch JS & MN, but I am a little afraid to do it.


I did and it didn't make that much of an impression on me for good or ill. Or if it did at the time I've already forgotten.

Sister Michael is the funniest!

Bits of JS&MN are a little unnerving. It is very well made and quite well acted though.

I have been wanting to watch that since I read the book back when it was a big thing (JS&MN, that is). Of course at this point I have pretty much forgotten what happened in the book, but it was very well written.

There is a scene with an old lady and a mouse that I really don't want to see.


It was a lot more M.R. James than I was expecting. And very Tam Lin, of course.

I'm a little disturbed by my near-total forgetting of this. Is it age, or just indifference? I remember now that we discussed it here, and that as a result of that I watched it. Initially that was about all. Now a few things have come back to me.

I was thinking we had discussed it somewhat extensively here, but I can only find a couple of mentions, not much more than "has anybody seen this?"

Oh well....

Mybe somebody discussed it on Facebook? I don't remember more than the sort of question you mention.


No idea. I don't remember any Facebook discussion but obviously that doesn't mean much. Anything.

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