A week in film – 2016, week 46

Essentially, because it has been a nightmare week in world history, I haven’t watched as much TV as I would like this week. Not The Flash, not Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, no films at all. Everything I have watched has come back to the election, somehow. Even when I try and take my mind of it…

Supergirl. Of all the weeks (OK, in UK airtime), you had to show an episode about a female President embracing (alien) immigration. It’s almost like you planned this. Undoubtedly a little heavy-handed with its inclusivity message – I LOVE the sentiment, but you can trust that your audience will understand you before you add the extra exposition – but it’s fun regardless. This alien-of-the-week story eschews the Cadmus arc for a standard ‘don’t fear what you don’t know’ storyline which works, to a point, and introducing cop Maggie Sawyer – almost certainly a love interest for Alex, if I know this show at all – and Mon-El – who’s almost certainly a love interest for Kara – opens the world up a bit. I like Kara’s childlike mix of nerves and enthusiasm about meeting the President and yeah, there’s something really cool about a hero shot of a powerful woman saving another powerful woman’s life. It’s still a really nice show, just about people being good and hopeful and wanting to stop bad people causing pain, and it’s probably never going to get any edgier than that – but there’s something ceaselessly comforting about seeing that sometimes. It just so happens that in a week like this, it couldn’t be sadder to see.

Then there’s The West Wing, which also feels a little bit like rubbing salt in the wound after that election result. Don’t get me wrong – the Bartlet administration, in the third series, isn’t going through the best of times. It’s at the point where CJ, reacting against the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, expresses her outrage and receives death threats as a result. The President is still struggling with the consequences of his showdown with Toby (and ‘Hartsfield’s Landing’ has the culmination of this in a chess match, which is absorbing). Josh is…well, Josh is still with Amy, which is all kind of a horror show (I both love and hate the character from one minute to the next). While the third season is one of the series I remember the least, the build-up to the season finale is still completely compelling TV.

Avoiding politics entirely, Gilmore Girls and Brooklyn Nine-Nine have been providing some much needed comfort. Both consistently funny and heartfelt, these shows are constantly dependable in times of need – which this week is. Having watched a bunch of episodes (from series four and series one respectively) it’s hard to mention specifics, other than saying a) series four Rory is a bit of a nightmare and b) series one Peralta is almost as cute as Peralta in all other seasons. Seriously, if you’re looking for a bit of comfort in an otherwise dark time, you could do a lot worse than either of these shows.

My only new thing worth mentioning is that I’ve seen the first episode of Netflix’s huge show The Crown, which is as sumptuous as you’d expect. Expected to tell the story of Elizabeth II’s whole reign, the first episode starts with her wedding and moves steadily towards the moment where she will become queen. I liked this first episode a lot – the performances are good (John Lithgow is interesting casting for Churchill), the cinematography is great, and they use the narrative (and not much they can do about the structure, because it’s real life) to good effect. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the rest of the series – and the show, because Netflix has plans for at five more – pans out.

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