Archive for the ‘TV series’ Category

The devastating First World War. Four years of chaos and death in Flanders Fields. And at the end there was the Spanish flu.

It’s quite surreal to watch this Flemish series during corona times. But it’s being removed from Netflix by the end of the month and the idea was to finish it before the many professional trips to Ypres next month.

The show is well filmed and there is much eye to detail. The research was done well and the period setting is great. But the over-abundance of storylines is getting annoying halfway into the show. World War I is a fascinating period in history and there are so many facets of the war that were never addressed in major Hollywood movies. But to pack them all into a ten episode series is just not good.

Even though it’s an international production, it is still a Flemish series and the focus is on the story of a Flemish family. This may not appeal to international audiences as they will not understand the many references. We see the family Boesman from Ghent at the outbreak of the war. Doctor Boesman is a gynecologist who wants to become a professor at the university and assumes the war will soon be over. His wife, who is part of the catholic bourgeoisie, is at his side. Their oldest son is ready to go to battle. Their younger son is more opportunist and prefers to stay home and continue his work as as sales person. The daughter is too young to do anything, but she aspires to be a doctor one day, like her dad.

The characters are intriguing and good guides through the thick storybook of little tales about the war. But at one point it’s enough. Everything is mentioned. Briefly and superficially.  The Flemish social pillar system (socialist/catholic/liberal); the subordinate role of women, the Flemish collaboration and resistance, the pop-up brothels for the English officers, the gas attacks, the smuggling, the espionage, the food shortage, the Christmas truces, the war tactics, … and they still add romance to it all as well.

To give you a spoiler example focussing on the daughter. She wants to become a doctor but can’t as a woman, betrays her best friend whose father is German, tries to run errands for the resistance, is attracted to the young German officer who occupies her house, smuggles something across the border to her Grandmother, has an abortion, flees to England, becomes a nurse, meets her brothers in battle, etc… She clearly is the main character of the show, but actress Lize Feryn can’t carry the show. Luckily she is assisted by two actors playing her parents. Wim Opbrouck is great as the collaborating gynecologist and Barbara Sarafian is at her best trying to support her husband’s bad decisions.

Unfortunately it’s not a must-see and even a drag by the end.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2253780

Confusing at first, but continuously intriguing as the series goes on, this third season of True Detective is a great watch.

Two kids get missing and detectives Hays and West have to figure out what happened when one of the children is found dead. During three different periods in time…  Once in 1980 when the crime happens. Another time in 1990 when a new element re-opens the case. And finally in 2015 when a true crime tv reporter wants to focus on the case by interviewing detective Hays, now in his seventies.

It’s slow and some of the dialogues sound wooden, but overall this is fascinating television. For starters, finally this is a crime story without a major plot twist at the end. It’s cool to actually feel rewarded for thinking along with the detectives. By episode 3 or so you kind of already know what happened and even though some details are missing, it’s great to see that what you are thinking is actually correct. This is great! Because that’s the most annoying thing about detective series: the ridiculous plot twists at the end. The end just makes sense. Which may be boring. But it’s great.

Secondly, the seventy year old detective Hays suffering from Alzheimers is another excellent addition to the story. The disease adds confusion to both the detective and the viewer, but also helps to concentrate on what is a real memory and what is not.

And ultimately, this is also a great depiction of relationships between people who seem to have a strong, yet unconventional bond. The partnership between the two detectives is captivating and the relationship between detective Hays and his wife is even more gripping. The professional and personal tensions between the characters are more exciting than the actual crime.

Maybe that’s the reason why this crime series is so great. The crime itself isn’t the main focus. And that’s what makes it different. And thus, good. However, this only works when the writing is clever and moreover when the acting is phenomenal. And that’s the case. Mahershala Ali is so incredibly good. He should have won awards for this part !!!!! That man is acting gold. Stephen Dorff is also impressive and should also be praised. Carmen Ejogo gives so much mystery to her character that it cannot just be directed. And Michael Graziadel only has two or three scenes, but the one in the bar is method acting perfection.

Yep.

Very much impressed.

ww.imdb.com/title/tt2356777

Quite disappointing, this second season. Whereas the first series was refreshing, this pretty much feels like it is too calculated.

Gillian Anderson’s sex therapist character is still great though. When there is an outbreak of chlamydia she is asked to come and be a sex counsellor in school. But that is interfering with the business of her son, who has been given sex advice for money on the school premises as well.

It is an interesting premise and episode 1 totally gets you in the same mood as the previous episodes. But soon something is lacking. Is it the acting? Is it the total absence of humor? Not sure, but the show stops being engaging soon. Not worthy of binge watching at all.

There are a few new characters and we get to learn more about some of the characters that weren’t in the spotlight of series one. But the main ones seem to have lost their charm. Which is sad.

The cliffhanger end doesn’t really make you look forward to what is coming next either. And that is too bad, because, on a positive note, it does prove that you can have a good show with an inclusive cast without constantly referring to the sexual and racial differences between kids. Anyone can be anything. This is one thing in which this show excells.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7767422

 

 

Almost the entire cast of The Crown changed for season 3. It takes a while before that kicks in. Olivia Coleman is a great actress, sure, but she isn’t Claire Foy, who excelled as Queen Elisabeth in the first series. Only by the final episode, you have to acknowledge that she does do a fine job. But it’s difficult to be charmed by her from the start. That’s because this season, the focus isn’t on her that much.

The acting is still great though. Helen Bonham Carter is quite exquisite as Princess Margaret and both Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty do a great job as Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

The storytelling remains admirable. How each episode is scripted is very clever. However, the fiction takes over from the facts. And even though it’s great dramatic storytelling, it loses its credibility because a lot of it just isn’t true.

Even more than in the first twenty episodes, you want to google what is true and what is fictionalized. It’s distracting from watching the show. Did that really happen? Is this historically correct? These constant questions often get answered by a ‘no’.

It’ll be interesting to see season 4 which will have Margaret Tatcher and Princes Diana as main characters. This seventies show was okay, but not that fascinating. Apart from two episodes, which are set in Wales. Those are perfect television hours. Well written, well directed, well acted, well researched. More of that please.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4786824

You: Season 2 – **

Posted: January 16, 2020 in 2019, Crime/Detective, TV series, USA, XX

Damn.

This sequel is a drag. The first season was so good. Yet this time around the story doesn’t excite. Joe moves to LA, meets a new woman he falls in love with and starts to stalk. But that’s not the core of the story anymore.

Nothing is really the core of the story. There’s a bit of everything going on. Sure, that’s a good change from the first season where the love/stalk story was too present. But then again, that was also its coolness. Maybe it’s the setting. Los Angeles isn’t New York. And its inhabitants just aren’t quite like the ones of the Big Apple. Most of the new characters in this show are tiresome stereotypes of Angelenos. And that’s the biggest flaw.

Not a season to binge watch.

 

Thirty years ago a female jogger was left for dead after having been molested in Central Park, New York. During the same night a group of young kids had gathered in the park for some wilding, attacking and mugging random passers-by. The investigating police made a link between the two events and arrested dozens of these kids, interrogating them about the rape. Five kids were left to their own devices at the police station and somehow ended up confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. A mediatized trial followed and even though the kids were minor and there was a lack of evidence, all of them were sentenced to years in prison. Four were minors and got five years detention, starting in a juvenile centre. One was sixteen at the time of the events and went straight to the adult prison system.

Most Europeans, and a whole generation of Northern Americans as well, were unaware of this case until this four part series became one of the main releases on Netflix this year and received critical acclaim.

Unfortunately, by end of the year, so many articles have been written about this production, that it becomes very challenging to watch the series without expectations. Yes, it’s a great series and a must-see. But no, it’s not the best series of the decade. You want this to be a mix between The Wire and The People vs O.J. , but it is not. It’s way too short. It is generating more questions than providing answers. It’s a show that will stick with you days after having watched it. So, that’s good. But it does feel like so much more could have been told.

Episode 1 is tough to watch. The characters are introduced and you immediately find yourself in the same mess they get themselves into. Dozens of kids are arrested, yet there are five of them that are detained longer and coerced into admitting to a crime they didn’t commit. These kids were at the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t get the support they needed. Easy victims for the interrogating police…. The creators of the series clearly want the viewer to feel empathy for the innocent kids and anger towards the judicial system. It works, but it also annoys. This is where the series is flawed. The kids are sweet and innocent and adorable even. The police, judges and prosecutors are heartless monsters. It’s predictable tv making. This is also where an hour episode just isn’t enough.

Episode 2 is better. However as a court room drama it is not detailed enough. This is very intriguing stuff. We get snippets of the story. We learn that each kid had a different lawyer. We learn that each family of these kids deals differently with the accusations. We learn about the discussions amongst the prosecutors. We get to see some witnesses. All very briefly. This may have been the way the accused kids saw the trial (and it’s their story), but as a viewer you want to learn more. What about the jurors? The judge? This part of the story needs an 8 episode series alone.

The second half of the series is excellent though. In the third episode the show focuses on how the four minors get released from detention and have to struggle all over again. It’s a sad episode, but a very necessary one, because it focuses on how getting out of prison isn’t always a gift and how it’s very hard to rehabilitate in society. Episode 4 focusses entirely on the story of the one kid that was sent to adult prison and it is superb television, mainly because of the tour de force of Jharrel Jerome, who deservedly won an Emmy for his performance.

The acting in this series is top-notch. It makes up for the fragmented storytelling. Whoever did the casting deserves another award. A special shout out to Asante Blackk (playing the kid who is left alone at the police station: the moment you realize this will be a tough watch), Caleel Harris (the kid who is forced to lie by his own dad!), Niecy Nash (the troubled mother of the kid who will suffer the most) and Michael Kenneth Williams (the dad who told his kid to lie and has to suffer the consequences) !

www.imdb.com/title/tt7137906/

This is a good introduction to the case and the series:

It took me nearly 30 years to watch this show. By the time it was aired on tv here, I was in college and didn’t watch tv. My then indie/alternative music mindset did not appreciate Summertime or Boom Boom Shake The Room either. So, Will Smith was just not someone cool enough to follow.

Yet, watching this first season was fun! It’s good. Not every episode is great. The overal concept is still weird and badly exploited, but by the end of the series you start to appreciate Will Smith’s remarks and some of the other characters’ traits. The show also isn’t that outdated. Intrigued what the next seasons will offer. Personal favorite: Jazz!

www.imdb.com/title/tt0098800