THE HOLLOW CROWN – RICHARD II
Television stations BBC and PBS have teamed up again, this time to produce some of the history plays of Shakespeare, namely the ones that comprise the Wars of the Roses, well through Henry V, at any rate. They’re staring with Richard II – not one of my fave plays from the Bard, mostly because Richard II was such a wimp (both in the play and apparently in real history).
Seriously, it’s one of those plays filled with “will you shut up and die?” moments – long-winded speeches from folks in the throes of death. That being said, while it took me a bit to get into this one, I ended up loving Ben Wishaw as the ill-fated king. I even enjoyed the St. Sebastian reference (that’s the martyr whose picture is being painted in one heck of a skanky scene implying Richard was gay). But that’s mostly because there’s an old story in my family about paintings of the martyrdom of St. Sebastion, who was shot through with arrows, that is way too long to get into here.
I will say, it’s not as gory as it could be, but it’s gory enough with heads flying left and right. Roy Kinnear does a nice stoic turn as Bolingbroke, the man who ostensibly intended to get his inheritance back from Richard, but also got the throne, as well.
Basically, what happened was that Richard banished Bolingbroke and a guy named Mowbrey (James Purefoy) as they were about to decide who was the real traitor in a trial by duel, initially ordered by the king, but then stopped. When Bolingbroke’s father John of Gaunt (Patrick Stewart) chided Richard for banishing his son, Richard seized Gaunt’s possessions and lands to finance a war with Ireland.
Here’s where it gets a little murky on the historical side – most people figure that when Bolingbroke returned from his banishment, getting his inheritance from his father was really just the excuse he used to seize the throne from Richard. In the play, and particularly in this production, it’s almost as if he gets caught up in events that spin out of control.
So what to drink with this one? How about a decent glass of a meritage (rhymes with heritage) – a Bordeaux style blend made anywhere else but Bordeaux, France. It’s a good stout red that will do nicely with some cheese or a haunch of meat.
ESQUIRE NETWORK LAUNCH – KNIFE FIGHT/THE GETAWAY
Two thoughts generally spring to my mind when I hear about the launch of a new TV network aimed at men. 1.) What? Aren’t most TV networks aimed at men? and 2.) Goody, another network for Neanderthals. Because, you know, all guys are interested in are big boobs, fast cars and acting like doofuses in their man caves.
Thank heavens, Esquire Magazine doesn’t think so, and the network they’re introducing on Monday, Sept. 23, in partnership with NBC/Universal, shows a certain elan and sophistication that is sorely lacking on TV today.
Like their new show Knife Fight, which grew out of a friendly competition that chef Ilan Hall (winner of Top Chef Season 2) started at his restaurant The Gorbals in downtown Los Angeles. Hall gets two accomplished chefs, throws two to three ingredients at them, and gives them an hour to cook. It’s kind of a very backstage version of Iron Chef. There’s only one prize – a knife with “I won” painted on it, and of course, bragging rights. The crowd and judges are rowdy, and the show is really about the love of good food and cooking. This is the anti-hype cooking show, and it’s rowdy but not stupid. It’s the fun kind of competition that comes from respect, not the need to win at all costs.
Given the rowdy nature of the show, some premium tequila would not be amiss, but personally, since you never know what you’re going to eat, I’d go with a sparkling dry rose, myself. It’s a perfect go-to wine that goes with darned near anything.
Also fun is The Getaway. Yes, this is chef/raconteur Anthony Bourdain’s latest venture, but he’s strictly behind the camera this time. Instead, he takes a celebrity and plops him/her down in a city and lets the locals say where to go and what to do. Joel McHale takes on Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has a darned good time. I don’t know if I’d watch it all the time, but it was a fairly fun, relaxing show. Again, minimal hype, lots of discovery.
This episode being about Belfast, Guinness is a good pairing, or some Bushmills Irish Whiskey, which is made near there. I’m more of a Jameson’s fan, myself.
To read more reviews from Anne Louise Bannon, go to her blog, Your Family Viewer