What are you watching? Readers recommend 'A Place to Call Home,' 'Sports Night'

Monitor TV and movie fans share what they've been watching lately.

Courtesy of Nutopia/PBS
‘The Great American Read'

I have been watching The Great American Read on PBS. It has so many good book recommendations by some ordinary readers and some famous people.

I wish I had a copy in hand of the 100 novels that are nominated as the most-loved novel in the United States. 

I loved seeing all the children on the coast of Maine waving their beloved copies of “Charlotte’s Web.” There are many wonderful writers that have lived in Maine and works that take place there: Stephen King; Christina Baker Kline; “Olive Kitteridge” and its author, Elizabeth Strout; Harriet Beecher Stowe; biographer and children’s author Laura E. Richard; “The Cider House Rules,” etc.

– Martha F. Barkley, Belgrade Lakes, Maine

My favorite sitcom is Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived but incredible Sports Night, which aired on ABC from 1998 to 2000. It was hilarious and ahead of its time.

– Hillary Peatfield, South Berwick, Maine

I became aware of the Australian TV series A Place to Call Home on PBS in its third season (it will soon air its sixth) and was immediately hooked. My local library was able to find the earlier episodes for me and I got caught up. I stayed because of the complex characters and terrific writing.

Questions about tradition, appropriate relationships, and cultural change challenge generations of a prosperous family. There is intrigue, sabotage, romance, murder, and meals served by maids in white aprons. When Season 5 became available, before being shown in the US on TV, again the library found it for me. I waited a month and have had a glorious binge-watching experience!

– Ann Hymes, St. Michaels, Md.

My favorite sitcom is M.A.S.H., which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1983. It had real characters and real issues and was really funny.

– Jeff Scott, San Diego

Courtesy of ABC
'The Middle'

I think the most realistic portrait of marriage I’ve seen on TV is ABC’s The Middle, which just ended after nine seasons. All the challenges of married life are on full display. I think many families can identify with having to deal with issues like the quirkiness of son Brick, the naiveté of ever-positive daughter Sue, and continuing financial problems. Through it all, family bonds prevail. Everyone keeps moving forward, even the less-than-diligent oldest son, Axl. No family is perfect, and “The Middle” says loud and clear that that is OK.

– Jo-Ann Maguire, Norristown Pa.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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