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Natascha McElhone as Bella Ainsworth in Hotel Portofino.Courtesy of PBS

So here we exist, in warm and sunny days, and what do we want? Escape to somewhere that’s sunny, mild and more strikingly beautiful than where we are anchored. Well, PBS delivers that this weekend.

Hotel Portofino (starts Sunday, PBS, 8 p.m.) is a picture-postcard brought to life. Catnip for fans of British period TV, it looks stunning, is built around the beautiful Italian setting and is a frock-opera of epic proportion. It is piffle, but perfect piffle.

We are transported to Italy in the 1920s, where Bella Ainsworth (Natascha McElhone) and her family have opened a hotel in charming Portofino. Hoping to attract a well-off English clientele and introduce them to the local food, drink and general merriment, it looks from the get-go that this plan will be a success. The first arriving guests are the hoity-toity Julia Drummond-Ward (Lucy Akhurst), who has brought her daughter Rose (Claude Scott-Mitchell). The first words spoken are Julia’s command to Rose after they alight from the smoky train, “Do be careful not to get smuts on your dress, Rose.” Ah yes, “smuts” and you won’t be surprised to learn that Italy as presented is drenched with smuts. Politely so, mind you.

Hotel Portofino looks stunning, is built around the beautiful Italian setting and is a frock-opera of epic proportion.Courtesy of PBS

Turns out Rose is there because Bella’s husband Cecil (Mark Umbers), a conniver, wants Rose to marry his son Lucian (Oliver Dench), who has wounds both mental and physical from serving in the First World War. The shimmering Rose is unaware, but others are not. As Lucian’s sister says, “She could look like the back end of an omnibus and father would still be keen for Lucian to marry her.” Meanwhile, Lucian himself seems torn between his devotion to his friend Dr. Anish Sengupta (Assad Zaman) and a local beauty he visits at night, when the sun sets and said beauty is lounging in her nightdress. Oh, what larks.

Catch up on the best streaming TV of 2021 with our holiday guide

It is hard to find fault with Hotel Portofino if you’re devoted to such baubles of British period drama. Every needed element is there. There’s a downstairs element, in which the English cook is very unhappy with the local meat and the “waxy potatoes” found in the area. There is the grand old lady who is dismissive of everyone. That’s Anna Chancellor as Lady Latchmere who when asked how she is, replies,” Simply ghastly!” There are ruminations on the impact of war and eventually notice is taken of the rise of fascism among the local population. The series – six episodes arriving weekly – is not the product of the BBC, instead it’s a concoction put together by ITV/BritBox/Sky Italia/Foxtel. The creators and producers simply put the correct elements together and it all fits nicely. The clothes and the furnishings are to die for. By all means, escape to this hot piffle.

Also airing/streaming this weekend

Flatbush Misdemeanors lopes along as both comedy and drama in much the way FX’s Atlanta does.Courtesy of Crave

Flatbush Misdemeanors (Showtime, streams on Crave) is an entirely different kettle of entertainment. Low-key, contemporary and urban, it lopes along as both comedy and drama in much the way FX’s Atlanta does. That is, with muttered conversations, some malarkey and some vivid insights into the lives of its characters.

Long-time friends Dan (Dan Perlman) and Kevin (Kevin Iso) are roommates. Really, though, Dan works as a school teacher and Kevin, a struggling artist, is crashing on his couch. This all unfolds in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn and the neighbourhood is, essentially, the main character. Dan’s a good teacher but doesn’t care much, and digests a bunch of drugs to help him drift along. Kevin has a job working as a food-delivery guy, but he’s hopeless and manages to annoy a drug dealer who then claims he’s owed a lot of money. There’s little drama, plenty of dry humour and the sense that you’re watching the real lives of real people played for sardonic wit. Everything is a bit messy and melancholy but absurdist fun breaks out. A first season of 10 episodes streams now and a second season starts Sunday.

The 2022 Indspire Awards airs Sunday at 8 p.m.CBC

Take note of the 2022 Indspire Awards (Sunday, CBC, APTN 8 p.m.) honouring this year’s recipients, individuals from many walks of life, in business and culture in the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. This week’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, CBS, Global, 7 p.m.) promises a look at how Britain actively courted the Russian billionaires to live and work in London, leading to the city being nicknamed “Londongrad,” plus a profile of Trevor Noah. Finally, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show gets started, with coverage on Sportsnet One, Sunday, 12:30 to 3 p.m.

Owners and dogs attend the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Press Preview at Hudson Yards in New York City, on June 16.BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters

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