Archive for the ‘TV series’ Category

Studio Tarara – ***

Posted: March 26, 2019 in 2019, Drama, Flanders, TV series, XXX

Rare these days (at least for me): watching a tv series unfold every single week. No binge-watching. Just anticipating the next episode. Eight weeks long.

And it was worth the watch. This was good television. With a lot of flaws, but enough positive moments to balance them out.

The set up is simple. Someone fell to his death at a television studio, where a live sketch show was being recorded. It’s unclear until the very last episode who the actual victim is. But in every episode you learn who is still alive, as a second story line follows a detective who’s writing down the taped interviews of all people involved.

The mystery of who the victim is and how the person died, isn’t all that exciting. As a thriller, the show fails.

The series is about the production of a funny sketch show and the troublesome lives of its creators. The drama and characterization are top-notch. But the sketches aren’t funny! At all. So as a comedy, the show fails as well.

But another storyline focuses on sexual harassment at a television studio and throughout the series this is the main theme. It’s also the one that makes the show fascinating. The acting is really good. Even international audiences may like these performances.

It’s still a very Flemish show though. Not sure if people abroad will get the references. There is an international trailer though… The story is set in 1993 though and the soundtrack is incredible. It’s very interesting to hear the big alternative hits of that year as a soundtrack to a story set at the tv studio of the most commercial television network.

www.imdb.com/title/tt9839222

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Turn Up Charlie – *(*)

Posted: March 15, 2019 in 2019, Dramedy, TV series, UK, X1/2

Idris Elba has an eight episode series on Netflix as of today. It’s a British show and is marketed as a ‘comedy’, but it’s more of a chaotic dramedy. The first episode is kind of cool though. Idris plays a middle-aged amateur dj, who had one big hit in the nineties, but spent all his money on women and booze. He lives with his aunt, lies about his success to his parents and is penniless. An old buddy of his, now a famous actor, is moving back to London with his successful dj-ing wife and their spoiled daughter. Somehow, Idris’ character Charlie accepts the job of being the kid’s nanny. Part because he needs the money and part because he hopes to get back into the music business. Of course, he starts to care about the kid as well.

After a few episodes the relationship between Charlie and the kid becomes second fiddle. Like they ran out of interesting scenes between the two unlikely buddies. In one later episode they are at some alternative dance festival and the series becomes dull. In another episode they are in Ibiza. The simple sitcom feel from the beginning, becomes a show with drugs and sex. That’s where it becomes chaotic. In the final episode the question is more about who is in love with who and the kid just is a distraction.

There should release a soundtrack. On vinyl of course. The music is good. And it’s not without merits. The auntie with her Nigerian accent is funny. And some scenes are well done. But in general this is just not a great show.

www.imdb.com/title/tt830449

After Life – ***

Posted: March 10, 2019 in 2019, Comedy, Dramedy, TV series, UK, XXX

If you like Ricky Gervais, this is a great six episode binge watching dramedy series. He found a perfect coat to hang on his stand up comedy jokes. Plus, he proves he has a heart as well and his stabs are getting subtle.

He’s Tony, an editor of a local newspaper, who lost his wife and has become cynical, sarcastic and suicidal. He vows to just tell everyone the brutal truth, which of course, is a perfect way of showcasing his humor. In his discussions with colleagues and the people he needs to interview, he can enlighten them with his logical, honest and rude observations and thoughts.

The downside of it all is that the jokes are not really original. We know Ricky likes animals more than humans, we know he’s an atheist, we know he doesn’t like fake and hypocrite attention, etc… What is original is that he shows a character with a heart. The last episode is pretty much un-gervais-like. It’s actually heart warming. Yet, in a great scene with his dad, who suffers from Alzheimers, there’s room for humour as well.

Watch it.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8398600

 

 

 

A nerdy teenager with few friends and a traumatic sexual self-awareness becomes an unlikely star in school when he starts giving (moral) sex advice to his fellow students for money. He gathers his advice from his mom, a neurotic sex therapist, and – truth be told – often helps the young couples with his tips.

There’s eight episodes of this new Netflix series and you can easily binge watch them. The series starts as a comedy, but gets more dramatic after a while. It’s probably aimed at teenagers, but the conversations about sex are quite explicit and there is nudity. Which is fine (if you know the actors are all twenty somethings), but a bit unusual for a high school dramedy. Another unusual thing is that it’s set in a school full of British speaking kids, but the atmosphere is very American. Research tells that it’s an homage of the creators to the high school comedies from the eighties. But it’s really just a cheap trick to make this a hit on the US market. It’s annoying. But it’s the only annoying part.

The characters are very British though. And there are some nice twists in the narration and the depiction of the individuals. It’s a multi cultural and multi sexual show, because it’s 2019 and students aren’t just white or straight anymore. The best friend of the main character is an openly gay, black crossdresser who gets bullied a lot, but learns how to own his being different. In one of the best scenes his reserved, careful immigrant dad warns him about the consequences of standing out and being different. Interrupted by a driver who wants them to move aside, he shouts at the guy. For the first time since his move to Britain he dared to shout at someone! He hugs his son (wearing a female African attire and lots of makeup) and thanks him for being so brave and being so confident.

The trailer may put you off. Yes, they do talk about sex all the time. But it’s a really good show. Even for adults.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7767422

Recommended by a lot of people (and almost all over them are 40+), this high school mystery drama is quite the guilty pleasure. The fact that the parents of these kids have almost as much screen time as the teenagers has got something to do with its success. But in the end, it’s just a high school mystery drama though. A fast-paced mystery drama. A big contrast with a series like The Crown, in which a 45 minute episode feels like 4,5 hours of your time. Here there’s a plot twist every 5 minutes. It’s crazy. Best friends swear to never speak to each other again one minute and then try to solve a murder mystery 5 minutes later. Suddenly out of nowhere, secrets from the past are revealed; characters appear out of nowhere; girls who are sworn enemies support each other one moment and then later hate each others’ guts; cool characters are introduced, who end up playing no important role at all in the next episodes, etc… It’s a mess, but it’s fun.

Not sure about watching season 2 though. It’s not that good.

Oh, it’s about a teenager who was found murdered in the summer and a group of ‘friends’ trying to solve the murder in the first quarter of the new school year.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376

An improvement to Season 6, but still too much talking. Blablabla. The story stopped making sense a long time ago. It never did really. But now it’s just the details in the story that don’t make sense at all. For six seasons long, the territory behind the wall seems very far away, yet in this season a raven can get a message across the continent in no time and the response to is delivered even faster! Really?

There are fewer main characters killed this season. There aren’t that many left, to be fair. But still…. However, finally, the one that should have been killed in season 1 already, gets his throat sliced. Hooray!

It’s an okay season. It only has seven episodes. The battle scenes are awesome. Lord of the Rings awesome. There’s some sexiness. Some humor. Some excitement. Even some scary moments. It’s just okay though. One more season and then we’re done with it.

This Is Us: Season 2 – ***

Posted: October 4, 2018 in 2017, Drama, TV series, USA, XXX

Ah!

Watching season 1 after having lost a parent was really therapeutic. It was the right show at the right time. There were tears and smiles and good memories. Every episode was a great joy and comfort to watch.

Watching season 2 almost two years later wasn’t therapeutic at all. There were again tears and smiles and good memories. But not every episode was a great joy to watch.

It’s a highly addictive show. Some of the characters are very intriguing. And the way the stories are set up, makes you constantly want to know what happens next.

Three siblings need to deal with the death of their beloved dad. That’s a constant in the show. As we learn about the siblings in their current life, we also get to learn about the siblings in their childhood and in their young adulthood. We also learn about the life of their parents and in season 2 it’s finally revealed how their dad died.

Luckily the producers have introduced other characters than the parents and the siblings and in season two we get to learn much more about them and their past.

As in season 1, the least interesting character in the show is Kate. Adult Kate is a whiner. Kid Kate is awkward. But there’s something really cool about teenage Kate (and a lot has to do with the acting performance). Her brothers Randall and Kevin are the real stars of the show. Their relationship as kids and teenagers and as adults is a joy to watch. And the acting of all of them is great. Kid Kevin is such a hoot. Teenage Randall is so fascinating. The storyline of their parents is less dramatic than in season 1, apart from the death of course. But showing the romance and love between them so often creates for more drama when it ends.

The coolest character of all though is Beth, Randall’s super patient, but incredibly wild and confident wife. Season 3 needs to be all about her.

In the final there are hints to what’s coming next and it does NOT look promising. They will now use storylines in the future? Noooooooo!

It’s a very American show. It works for me. It doesn’t work for many other Europeans. This is soap material. It’s emotional and cheesy. It seems very contradicting that in times where the US is so divided when expressing their political views, there’s a popular tv show in which all of the characters constantly have to talk things through, explain their feelings, explain their actions… and get rewarded for it.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5555260