This week on TV

Reaching the end of the ‘Thrones,’ finding veritas in vino and dancing away the pain.

Wine Country (photo credit: TNS)
Wine Country
(photo credit: TNS)
May 19 will be the last episode of Game of Thrones, and obviously the suspense is running high. This final season has had a lot of action – the famous battle against the army of the dead (nasty zombies that are much more intelligent and better organized than the ones on The Walking Dead), the carousing following the battle, a lot of dragon drama and more.
I don’t claim to have a very clear idea of who will sit on the iron throne, but I would guess that the ultimate ruler will be a woman, most likely one of the more unconventional characters. But what do I know? It could be Tyrion. It could be a dragon. We’ll know next week.
If you’re more into comedy, you could try Wine Country, the new female-buddy movie on Netflix, which has a cast that features mostly Saturday Live alumni: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer (you may recognize her as the judge who made everyone say, “In my opinion” on The Good Wife), Paula Pell, Emily Spivey and Rachel Dratch. Poehler directed it and Spivey was one of the cowriters and creators.
It’s about a bunch of old friends – they were all waitresses at the same Chicago pizzeria years ago and have remained close – who celebrate when Rebecca (Dratch) turns 50 by taking a trip to Napa Valley.
These very different types – workaholics, agoraphobics, etc. – rent a gorgeous house (which qualifies this as real-estate porn) from a tough-as-nails beekeeper (Fey), with a weirdly accommodating butler/cook played by Jason Schwartzman.
They have various adventures, most of which involve a lot of wine, and have Tarot cards read, figure out how to use the super hi-tech coffeemaker, deal with work crises and health scares, get bitten by a snake, declare their undying love for one another and sing along to a lot of oldies. It’s a bit like Bridesmaids meets Grace and Frankie, with more drinking and more sentimentality. You already know if it’s for you, and who you’d like to see it with.
There’s not nearly enough dancing in Fosse/Verdon, the biopic miniseries about choreographer/director Bob Fosse and his dancer/muse Gwen Verdon, who couldn’t live with or without each other. The first episodes were especially promising, and Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are both convincing in the lead roles, but this is strictly for those who love Broadway musicals.
In addition to the fact that there ought to be many more musical numbers shown from beginning to end, instead of bits and pieces in between the plot turns, the main problem with this series is that Fosse told much of this story himself in the 1979 film All That Jazz. That movie was the autobiographical story of a pill-popping, massively successful director who can’t keep his hands off his female dancers, hurts all the women in his life and is devoted to his daughter.
It’s easy to forget today what a towering figure Fosse was in the entertainment world in the mid-’70s, when he won a Best Director Oscar for Cabaret (beating out Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather), a Tony for Best Director for Pippin, and several Emmys for directing Liza Minnelli in Liza with a Z.
At the same time, Verdon’s career waned as she got older, but the two of them always needed each other, which is what gives their story its heart. It’s on Sundays on YES Edge at 10:50 p.m. and on Yes VOD.
Mike Nichols’s adaptation of the Joseph Heller novel Catch-22 was a famous flop, but George Clooney’s television series based on the book has gotten good reviews in the US and will premiere here on Yes VOD and Yes Edge on May 23 at 10 p.m. and will continue on Thursday nights at that time.
Christopher Abbott in particular has received raves as Yossarian (the role played by Alan Arkin in the original). He’s best known for playing Marnie’s boyfriend on Girls, and this is his first high-profile starring role.