Thanksgiving, TV-Watching And I

It’s mid-morning on the 26th of November, 2020, the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. Moments ago I placed my fingers upon my computer’s keyboard to begin composing this story. But I ain’t going to complete and publish it on the big day itself. No way! Shit, I’m too old and slow-working for that. But, better late than never, right? Well, actually, who the hell knows?

Anyway, getting back to Thanksgiving: I’m of the non-religious and non-believer varieties, which, among other things, results in many holidays being on my not-to-be-celebrated list. Thanksgiving, though, is a different story. As is true for most Americans, it is one of my favorite days of the year. I’ve always gathered with one medium-to-large-sized combination or another of relatives and friends on Thanksgiving, and by the time I was seven or eight or so, the holiday had burrowed deep into my heart. The burrowing hasn’t ebbed, because every year I’ve experienced Thanksgiving as a day of good cheer and good companionship. It means a whole lot to me.

Today, though, the combination of people with whom I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving will be, for the first time ever, composed of only two individuals: yours truly and my wife Sandy. Until recently, however, our plans were different. Several relatives were going to join us at our house to shoot the breeze and chow down on roast turkey with all the trimmings, pumpkin pie and a bunch of other dishes. But the skyrocketing numbers of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths in the USA caused Sandy and me to reevaluate the situation. The conclusion that we came to was that it was better for all concerned to be safe rather than sorry. As a result, we cancelled the party. We will have a traditional Thanksgiving meal at home ourselves, but it won’t be nearly the same. We’ll wish that our relatives were with us.

Yeah, as is all too painfully known, coronavirus has f*cked things up real good all over the world. In my case, which is totally trivial in the greater scheme of things, many of the enjoyable activities that used to fill up much of my days are, due to the virus, no longer available. Volunteer jobs, movie-going and concert-going, for instance. And now that it’s too cold in my part of the globe to eat outdoors at restaurants (on warm days, Sandy and I ate outdoors many times this year), restaurant-dining is off the table too. That’s because we won’t eat inside restaurants, where the chances of coming in contact with the virus are far greater than they are in the open air. Bummer, man. F*cking bummer.

But, as I’ve noted on these pages before, one activity has come to my rescue big-time. Namely, focused television-watching. For years my television consumption largely had been a smattering of this and that during late-night channel-flipping sessions. However, in the pandemic era, for an hour and a half or thereabouts most evenings, I have tuned in to series and movies on commercial-free outlets. And that fare has entertained the hell out of me, keeping me in halfway-decent spirits as I navigate life’s currently-murky waters.

I’ll say some words about two of the series that I watched in their entireties in November: The Queen’s Gambit and Patrick Melrose (they are on Netflix and Showtime, respectively, and were released, respectively, in 2020 and 2018). Each consists of a modest number of episodes, so you won’t have to devote half your life to watching them. More important, these productions rightly are series. By which I mean that if each had been condensed into movies, much would have been lost in character development and story complexity.

Who’d have thought that the game of chess would make for compelling viewing? Not I. The Queen’s Gambit certainly proves otherwise. Here we have the saga of an orphaned Kentucky girl, Beth Harmon, who at age 15 is adopted by a couple whose male half is indifferent to her, but whose female member gives her care, love and understanding, sometimes idiosyncratically. Beth, who suffers from substance abuse problems and personality development issues aplenty, has been, from an early age, heavily consumed by chess. Why? Because she possesses an almost supernatural ability to visualize and analyze chess strategies. Her gift eventually places her head-to-head and mind-to-mind with some of the best chess players in the world.

As for Patrick Melrose, I have to say that it was a hard watch for me, as it’s the sad tale of a British boy raised by terrible parents, and of the angry and confused adult that the boy becomes. Parental neglect and cruelty are the cornerstones of Patrick Melrose’s childhood, traumatic truths that don’t dissipate very much in intensity as he ages. Benedict Cumberbatch is the main star (he plays the adult Patrick). As is true in all the productions that I’ve seen him in, he does a superior job. That chap can act!

I’m going to close the proceedings by asking which activities have been boons to you during the pandemic era. And if television-viewing has been one of them, I’d be interested to know the programs and movies that have captured your attention. Oh, and if you’re an American, how was your Thanksgiving?

Till next time!

136 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, TV-Watching And I

  1. Dave December 7, 2020 / 3:01 pm

    Scanned through the many comments here and wasn’t surprised to see “The Queen’s Gambit” was a hit with everyone who mentioned it. I saw where it earned a “100%” rating and the top spot in Netflix’ 2020 shows. Not surprised myself – it was outstanding. I read the book last spring w/o knowing it was being made into a series. Before I watched I couldn’t imagine how they’d make the chess aspect entertaining (Beth herself was plenty entertaining). Plus, anyone who read the book knows they had to jam a lot of story into seven episodes. Riveting from start to finish, even knowing how the story was going to go. Sorry to say to the one commenter – that’s the whole story. There will be no “Gambit” unless Netflix goes off-author.

    We need to watch the Diana season of “The Crown” – which I see the UK is lobbying to be slapped with a “fiction” label – but right now we’re hooked on “Jane the Virgin”. Solid comedy, acting, and writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2020 / 4:50 pm

      Hey, Dave. My wife is watching the new episodes of The Crown. She loves that show. Have you seen Unorthodox? It’s on Netflix. I thought it was excellent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isabelle December 7, 2020 / 7:39 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot of books, including Anna Karenina, Stoner and Wide Sargasso Sea, and some Virginia Woolf novels. I watched two series: Outlander and WW2 in Colour. Take care, Neil. Catch up soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2020 / 10:18 pm

      That’s a lot of book reading! Years ago I read a book that Woolf wrote about her dog. It was good. Be well, and many thanks for stopping by. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. candidkay December 7, 2020 / 8:33 pm

    We’re leading parallel lives, from the indoor dining to the not gathering bit. And I hardly ever used to turn the TV on but now I’m catching up, that’s for sure. Wishing you and yours a quick winter and fresh air before you know it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 7, 2020 / 10:23 pm

      Hey there. Yeah, 2021 should be filled with much fresher air than 2020 has been. Trump the freak will be out of office, and vaccines will make a big, positive difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pam Lazos December 8, 2020 / 7:23 am

    I think we are living parallel lives, Neil. We had to curtail our Thanksgiving celebrations as well, knocking it back to just the immediates, my husband and I and the three kids. We zoomed the rest of the family that would have been here and that was nice although never the same. I hope next year we are all able to gather around the table again, but who knows. It feels like the whole planet is walking the plank en route to doomsday, but I’m trying not to complain. Also LOVED The Queen’s Gambit. One of the best shows of the year. Toodle-loo for now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 8, 2020 / 9:13 am

      Hey, Pam. Let’s hope that the vaccines will work properly, putting the pandemic to rest. If they don’t work as advertised, or if huge numbers of people refuse to be vaccinated, then we will remain in trouble until who knows when.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos December 8, 2020 / 12:31 pm

        Oh, gosh, Neil, the anti-vac movement really scares me! 😱

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Christy B December 8, 2020 / 3:39 pm

    I really enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit. Then we got into watching The Queen and I got hooked on that too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 8, 2020 / 4:57 pm

      Afternoon, Christy. I’m totally amazed by the enormous number of enjoyable and good quality series. We’re living in television’s golden age, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. December 9, 2020 / 9:37 am

    Hi, there, Neil! My life’s been too busy for years to watch TV. But, like you, COVID has changed things. My hubby and I have a new habit of watching an hour of a series most nights and surprise, surprise, I find it very enjoyable! We were hooked on The Queen’s Gambit. The Crown started out slow but it’s very intriguing once you get into it. The best part is there are plenty of episodes! Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 9, 2020 / 10:44 am

      Greetings. The Queen’s Gambit seems to be very popular, and deservedly so. It’s high quality. Last night my wife and I started watching Extras, a Ricky Gervais series from about 15 years ago. Seems good so far. See ya!


  7. mitchteemley December 9, 2020 / 5:49 pm

    Haven’t seen Patrick Melrose, but have to agree about Queen’s Gambit. In fact, it’s the best series I’ve seen this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 9, 2020 / 7:47 pm

      Evening, Mitch. If you haven’t watched Unorthodox (on Netflix), you might want to keep it in mind. I think it’s very high quality.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Artist's Child December 10, 2020 / 7:29 pm

    Glad you are staying safe. Thank heavens for Netflix and Foxtel. They were a boon when Melbourne was in lockdown. Agree with you about those programs. I had previously watched Patrick Melrose when it first came out. While challenging viewing it was quality drama thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch. I also found The Queen’s Gambit enthralling and very original. Unorthodox was fantastic. For a laugh The Windsors on Netflix is hilarious, especially if you also watch The Crown. The Brits love to send up the monarchy and this is a doozy! Hope that the situation improves in your part of the world soon and that the vaccine makes a difference. Let’s hope 2021 is better for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 10, 2020 / 10:44 pm

      Hey there. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Yeah, Netflix amazes me. It has so many enjoyable programs. Two Netflix series that we like a lot are Extras and Unbelievable.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The Artist's Child December 11, 2020 / 7:44 am

    Have seen both these shows ands completely agree. Just watched the film “Mank” on Netflix about Herman J Mankiewicz writing the screenplay for Citizen Kane. It stars the wonderful Gary Oldman and is a brilliant recreation of Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s, You’d think you were watching a black and white film of that period. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jeanleesworld December 25, 2020 / 10:18 pm

    I know I’m late to the Thanksgiving Party, but at least I can say Merry Christmas, Neil! Hope you and your wife had a delightful day. xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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