One evening not long ago, as my wife Sandy and I were polishing off dinner while listening to SiriusXM’s jazz channel, a marvelous piece of music graced our ears. It was Parisian Thoroughfare, a tune written by the late pianist Bud Powell. A key creator during the 1940s of the complex and quick-as-a-cat style of jazz known as bebop, Powell recorded a solo rendition of Parisian Thoroughfare in 1951. And it was this version (he subsequently recorded the composition two more times, once in a trio setting) that caused me to stop shoving food in my mouth for a few seconds so that I could listen closely. The song dazzled me, so jaunty is Powell’s approach to the keyboard, so beautiful are his cascades of notes. The performance delightfully captures Paris’s vibrancy. Before I go any further, let me introduce you to PT, courtesy of YouTube.
Over the next few days I guess it wasn’t too surprising that I couldn’t get Parisian Thoroughfare out of my mind. Not only did it make me think about the great times that I’ve had in Paris, a city I’ve been lucky enough to visit on four occasions, I also came to realize that it relates to a Netflix series that Sandy and I have been watching and enjoying the heck out of recently: Call My Agent! The show is set and was filmed in Paris, for one thing. And the banter and antics of Agent’s main characters sometimes are dizzying, rivalling the giddy speed at which Powell unleashes Parisian Thoroughfare.
I would describe Call My Agent!, whose French title is Dix Pour Cent, as a screwball comedy with depth. It follows the professional and personal affairs of four talent agents, their office staff and clients, and does so with charm, wit and poignancy. Sandy and I can find no flaws in the show, other than an occasional over-the-top moment. The dialogue is strong, the plot lines well-structured. And the acting? Ooh la la!
Now, here’s the thing: We never would have watched Call My Agent! were it not for our close friends Alan and Martine, who live in . . . shit yeah, they live in Paris! No lie. In March we were Facetiming with them, discussing this, that and whatever. Somewhere along the line the conversation turned to television, and Martine told us about Call My Agent!, which, in addition to streaming on Netflix, has aired on a French TV channel. Merci beaucoup, Martine, for the recommendation! We are in your debt.
That’s how a good bit of life unfolds, isn’t it? We often do what we do, go where we go, watch what we watch, based on recommendations. And, as a devoted viewer of television series (most evenings I spend an hour and a half or so in their presence), one of my aims in composing this essay is to learn about the shows that you enjoy. Between network television, premium channels and streaming services, there are more good ones out there than ever before. Your input will help me on my mission to remain highly entertained at night.
OK, so what other programs do I think a lot of? I’d be remiss not to mention The Investigation, a Danish production that dramatizes, soberly, the meticulous police investigation of a real-life murder that took place four years ago in waters separating Denmark from Sweden. The victim was journalist Kim Wall. Her final hours alive were spent aboard, of all things, a homemade submarine.
And then there’s Chernobyl. A retelling of the horrific accident at a Soviet nuclear reactor in 1986, and its aftermath, the show reinforced my belief that the human species, though highly intelligent in many ways, vastly overestimates its abilities to control that which it creates. Chernobyl is a limited series carried by HBO, as is The Investigation. In my opinion, they are well worth your viewership.
Time to move on to Family Guy, an animated series that is in its 19th season. In the USA, which is where I reside, new episodes are carried by Fox. And older episodes are on several networks here, including Fox. If anything is for sure in our little ol’ world, it’s that Family Guy ain’t your usual show. It’s as irreverent as anything I’ve ever seen. Family Guy ridicules religion and pop culture, for instance, and just about everything else. Yes, this program, which follows the whacko adventures and predicaments of the dysfunctional Griffin family, is not for everyone. Judging by its lengthy run, however, there are loads and loads of folks who dig it. And why is that so? Because, more than anything, Family Guy is hilarious.
Well, it’s time for this old f*cker to go and get his beauty rest. Not that I have any beauty left to preserve. Thanks for reading, girls and boys. Please don’t be shy about adding your comments. Goodbye till next time!