The Best Show You're Probably Not Watching
"Back to Life" lights up the comedy-drama genre.
Between the networks, cable channels, premium channels, and ever-expanding streaming services, there is an extraordinary number of high-quality television series out there right now, with new ones debuting just about every week. We’re in the middle of what some have called the new “Golden Age of Television,” and it can be overwhelming to a lot of viewers who don’t have a ton of leisure time on their hands.
Heck, it’s overwhelming to me and my wife, and we make time for a couple hours of television most nights. It’s one of the reasons I like to occasionally recommend something I’m watching to ‘Daly Grind’ readers. I understand that your time is valuable, so I want to pass along the exceptionally good stuff (at least in my opinion).
Today, I’m highly recommending a fantastic British series called “Back to Life.” The quirky comedy-drama originally premiered on the BBC in early 2019, and can now be seen on Showtime. My wife and I just finished the recently released second season, and came away liking the show even more than when we discovered the first season last year.
The story is pretty unique. It follows a thirty-something woman named Miri who has just returned home to her small, coastal hometown in the UK after serving 18 years in prison for a horrific crime committed when she was a teenager.
Having paid her debt to society, she just wants to get back to her old life. Her friends and neighbors, however, make the already brutal transition even harder. They haven’t forgotten what put her behind bars, and are unwilling or unable to reconcile her newfound freedom with the pain she caused in her youth. Even her well-intentioned parents struggle with her release.
Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it? Well, probably not. Like said, the show is a comedy-drama, and that description only accounts for the drama part of it. The comedy comes from the characters, in how they’ve adjusted following the decades-old tragedy.
Miri’s elderly father is a bumbling eco-warrior. He couldn’t save his daughter years earlier, but is now doing his damnedest to save the world from litter-bugs and non-recyclables. That passion has left his wife (Miri’s mother) often feeling lost and ignored, creating a hole in the marriage that she tries to fill through… an affair… with Miri’s high school boyfriend.
It’s actually even weirder than it sounds.
Miri is played by British actress Daisy Haggard (who I previously hadn’t heard of). She’s also one of the show’s writers, and is absolutely hilarious in the role. Her character struggles to familiarize herself with the technological advances of the past 18 years, while battling (often with sarcasm as her weapon) through the fear and scorn of nearly every old acquaintance she runs into. She’s just fantastic.
Here’s a taste:
Even with the dry, spot-on comedic bits, the show never breaks free of its dramatic roots… and that’s a good thing. It’s similar to Ted Lasso in that the characters grow increasingly sympathetic and endearing as they evolve. Their struggles become the struggles of the audience, and that’s something that makes a good story great.
There’s also plenty of thrills and secrets to be uncovered, not to mention a compelling love story — one that’s quite different than what the audience is initially expecting. It develops into something very sweet and charming, and I dare say it will warm your heart.
If you have Showtime (or Hulu, I believe), you should be able to binge-watch both seasons in their entirety. If you do, let me know what you think of it.
Have a favorite television show that no one you’ve talked to has seen? Let me know what it is in an email, or in the comment section below.
Buy “Restitution” or Else…
So, I’m pretty excited about getting my first book blurb for “Restitution.” It’s from Canadian professional wrestler, Lance Storm. Storm had an impressive career in the sports entertainment industry, wrestling for ECW, WCW, and WWE. He also trains lots of new wrestlers — younger talent working their way into the business.
I’ve gotten to know Lance a little bit over the past year or so, having been introduced to him through a mutual acquaintance. What’s interesting (and something he didn’t know at the time) is that I actually made my national television debut with him over 20 years ago.
Here it was:
Now, I don’t mean to be critical of a guy who was kind enough to take time for my book and provide it with a blurb, but the truth is that he stole a lot of camera time from me that night. Way more close-ups and everything. And he didn’t even win the match! So, in a way, he kind of owed me.
Seriously though, Lance is a great guy and a voracious reader. He’s a fan of tough-guy thriller novels, and he even ran an online book club a while back. I’m absolutely honored to have his stamp of approval on “Restitution.”
And, if anyone’s interesting in seeing a young John Daly (with a full head of hair) jumping around like an idiot in the stands while Lance wrestles a great match, you can check it out here.
This month, and every month until the official release of “Restitution” (on February 5th), I’ll be doing a random prize-drawing for one lucky ‘Daly Grind’ subscriber.
This month’s prize:
All you have to do to enter into the giveaway is be a subscriber. If you’re not yet subscribed, no problem. You can do it here:
Note: the giveaway is only for readers within the United States.
A couple weeks ago, I flew out to New Jersey with my father for a Daly family reunion. There, I caught up with a number of cousins I hadn’t seen in almost 40 years — since childhood, really. I had a great time.
On our last night in town, I briefly met one of my cousin’s husbands, a guy named John Tidwell. My aunt (his mother-in-law) explained before he’d arrived that he was in a touring rock band. Being a rock fan, I was intrigued and made note the band’s name: Whiskey Grin.
The other day, as I was running errands in the car, I pulled Whiskey Grin up on Spotify to check them out. And frankly, they’re good — very good. Their sound is reminiscent of late-80s/early-90s metal, so if your into that scene, you definitely should check them out:
New Adult Fiction
My publisher released some new novels last week that you might find interesting.
One is The Reporter by award-winning author, Mark Paul Smith.
Intent on finding his career path, a rookie reporter struggles to become a journalist at an Indiana newspaper in 1973.
He climbs the ladder from writing obituaries to covering cops and teacher strikes and murder trials and community disasters. As he navigates the competitive politics of the newsroom, he gradually earns the trust of his curmudgeonly city editor.
Along the way, he begins performing with a rock and roll band and falls in love with a stripper named Brown Sugar.
The choice between being a musician and a journalist becomes obvious after he writes a front page story on a job tryout at the Detroit Free Press.
You can learn more about it here.
Another is The Broken Statue by Margaret Lukas. (Margaret is a fantastic writer.)
Omaha, 1905: During the gilded age, when women live subjugated to men, eighteen-year-old Bridget prides herself on having earned acceptance to medical school.
When her father is murdered, a crime that does not interest the law because he was half Native American, she risks her plans to become a doctor, determined to avenge his murder.
Bridget’s quest thrusts her into a world of seedy men and glitzy women in one of Omaha’s most opulent brothels. There, she finds herself the prey rather than the hunter.
If she is to survive, she must keep the reclusive madam’s shocking secrets, learn to trust her heart’s yearning for the man who befriends her, and embrace her complicated alliance with a community of notorious women considered society’s lowest.
You can learn more about it here.
Obligatory Dragon Shot
If you know me, you know I love Tool — the iconic, hard-hitting, Grammy Award winning, alternative-metal rock band led by eccentric front-man, Maynard James Keenan. As far as I’m concerned, they pretty much walk on water.
Like many fans, they first came onto my radar in 1993, when songs off their album “Undertow” enjoyed heavy rotation on MTV. If you were in college at the time (like me), you probably remember those fairly disturbing stop-motion videos in which the band itself never appeared.
While “Undertow” was their first full-length album, it wasn’t their first release. A year earlier, they put out an EP called “Opiate.” Opiate includes some solid, slightly unpolished tracks (including the super-catchy “Hush”) that serve as a fun preview of the big things that were to come for them later. It includes some live recordings.
I unexpectedly came across this baby at an outdoor swap meet, and it’s in surprisingly good shape.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!