I’ve got very mixed feelings about Grace, which has been running on ITV on Sunday nights, and is available on BritBox without adverts if you’re a subscriber.
On the one hand, it stars John Simm, who is always a very watchable actor. It’s set in Brighton, which makes a change. The series is based on the novels by Peter James, which I’ve never knowingly read but which seem to be very popular. There have been 18 of them!
On the other hand, the show is a very by-the-numbers procedural, apart from the one thing that might set it apart, which the producers seem to have downplayed to make the show more standard. More on this below. Then there’s the unforgivable use of the hoary old trope of the dead/missing wife. Roy Grace’s wife is 10 years gone, and of course he’s obsessed/haunted etc., and apparently unable to move on with his life. *thunk*
ITV seem lukewarm on the show. Sure, it has a prime Sunday night slot, but at this time of year; and Season 2, so-called, comes a year after Season 1, which in the UK at least consisted of just the one episode. Wikipedia has it as two (ooh), but the second was shown on the 24 April this year, not last year, which was when the first episode appeared. Call episode 1 a pilot, and what we’re watching is Season 1 proper, which is still only going to be 4 episodes, making 5 in total.
All of the novels have the word dead in the title, and the TV show follows the same styling. But this conceit is fairly pointless, and the titles don’t seem to bear much relation to the episode contents.
The one wrinkle this show has is that Roy Grace sometimes takes items belonging to murder victims and consults a psychic. This is a background rumble to a lack of respect for him from his superiors, and sometimes shouted questions from fictional journalists, but it doesn’t seem to lift the show enough out of the ordinary. The producers have definitely shied away from making this a show about a detective who solves crimes by consulting a psychic.
John Simm remains watchable, but while the show is competent, it doesn’t zing. Also, if there were that many murders in Brighton, I think we’d know about it.
I’ve pointed out before that Amazon are terrible at curating their own premium television service. There is actually quite a lot of decent stuff on Amazon, but you would never know it from looking at the interface for Amazon Prime, which mixes so-called “originals” with back catalogue, mixes stuff you have to rent or buy with the stuff included in your subscription, and – now – mixes Amazon Prime stuff with Freevee stuff as well as stuff – like Station Eleven – that you have to get a subscription-within-your-subscription to see.
It’s way too complicated in a universe of premium TV services, and if you’re looking for something to watch, your heart might sink at the prospect of negotiating that interface. And on top of all this, Amazon are simply terrible at telling people when new stuff is going to be available. To the point, I think, that TV critics can’t even be arsed with it. I listen every week to the Radio Times podcast, and it seems they’re much more likely to talk about something on BritBox than something on Amazon.
In the middle of all this nonsense, and for reasons best known to themselves, Amazon have decided to take what is probably their best show (and the main reason to get a Prime subscription) and put its sequel series on Freevee, a television service so pointless that it’s already on its third name — and still nobody cares about it.
Laving aside the terrible (and non-compliant) Prime TV apps, the problems begin on the Amazon landing page, where you’d barely know that there is a whole premium television service with expensively made shows somewhere behind it.
When you do get to the Prime page, what do you see?
Two (2) prominent promotions for an undoubtedly shit film; something that might be a comedy aimed at teenagers, some kind of undoubtedly shit true crime documentary, and some kind of undoubtedly shit live comedy thing. None of which, you’ll notice, is Bosch: Legacy, the sequel series to the five (excellent) series of Bosch. Bosch: Legacy dropped its first four episodes on Friday 6th May – two days ago.
Scrolling down, and we get two almost identical tiles for something called The Escape Artist. Ooh, is this new? No: 2013. Then a bunch of films which were made in years ranging from 1962 to 2019. These are categorised, variously, as Movies We Think You’ll Like (or How Algorithms Get Things Wrong), Popular Movies. Then we get TV Shows We Think You’ll Like and then New Movies Every Day,Science Fiction Movies; suggestions based on the fact that I watched an episode of The Wilds before deciding I couldn’t stand it; then Documentary Movies, Top Rated TV Series, Noughties Movies, Popular TV Shows, Documentary TV Shows, Emotional TV and Movies, Action and Adventure TV Shows, Tense TV and Movies, Because You Watched William and Kate (I didn’t), Comedy TV Shows, Top 10 in the UK, Comedy Movies, Feel Good TV and Movies…
And so it goes. None of the above included Bosch: Legacy.It took till I scrolled down to Top 10 in the UK to even see the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard, a show I have actually been watching. You’ll also note a huge number of movies, comedies, and documentaries, which I almost never watch. I skipped over mention of the sport that I never watch. You’ll also note there’s not a single opportunity to Continue Watching things I’m in the middle of, no Wish List (even though Amazon does let you add things to a personal list). Even the My Stuff tab at the top takes me not to my current list or shows I’m currently watching but to things I have already watched.
Amazon spent $11 billion on TV production in 2020, and $13 billion in 2021. But their trash interface makes their TV service look trashy, and completely hides the good stuff. Stuff like Reacher, Wheel of Time, Patriot, The Man in the High Castle, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, Homecoming.
And so to Bosch: Legacy, which has been made with the same great production values, same lead actor, same high-quality scripts, some familiar faces and some new ones… and yet where is it?
It’s on FreeVee, which used to be called IMDb TV, and before that IMDb Freedive. Amazon own it. It has stuff on it. You can watch it for free (with ads). And I must say that the phrase “free with ads” did make me hesitate. But it turns out I needn’t have worried. Here in the UK at least there are hardly any ads. You barely even notice them. It seems that its only purpose is to allow Amazon to offer a free, ad-supported tier, although it doesn’t have the same stuff on it as the paid-for Prime service. And all it seems to do, for me, is cheapen the offering, make it harder to find Bosch: Legacy, and make it less likely that people will watch it.
It’s all absolute insanity. Still, as long as Bezos gets to play astronaut, I suppose. Do you think Amazon know how close “Freevee” is to the UK’s “FreeView”?
As to the actual show: in spite of Amazon’s efforts to prevent me from ever watching it or knowing it existed, I enjoyed it. Didn’t like the theme tune much. Bosch has left the LAPD and is working as a private detective. He’s hired by a rich old man in a wheelchair (in a scene reminiscent of The Big Sleep) and is also working with his former nemesis Honey Chandler (Mimi Rogers), who is pursuing to corrupt billionaire who tried to have her killed. And Bosch’s daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) is a rookie cop. The story picks up exactly where Season 5 of Bosch left off, so that you’d barely know the difference. So a great big shrug emoji, but catch it if you can.
I thought I’d pay for a month of BritBox so I could watch Why Didn’t They Ask Evans, and while I’m there I thought I might as well sample some of their other “originals”, including Magpie Murders and Murder in Provence.
But first, some news: they’ve got The Goodies! This was once a phenomenally popular mainstream comedy, which pulled itself up from its original silly surrealism and Benny Hill–style chase sequences to produce some televisual stunts that lived long in their legend. But, for whatever reason, The Goodies disappeared from view and was virtually forgotten. But now BritBox have about 40 of the episodes, dating from 1970. It’s a shame Tim Brooke-Taylor (who died from Covid early in the pandemic) didn’t live to see its revival. I’ve only watched one episode. I’m sure it hasn’t aged well, but the bonkers gadgets Graeme Garden used to prepare his breakfast from his bed anticipate Wallace and Gromit by thirty years.
Magpie Murders is based on the 2016 Anthony Horowitz novel, and it follows the same mise-en-abyme narrative structure (story within a story). Many of the actors play two characters, which is fun. There are a few recognisable faces, though none of the actors are household names (not in my house, anyway). It’s all right: doesn’t particularly zing, but it does the job. The basic premise is that a highly successful mystery author (played by Conleth Hill) hands in his 8th novel featuring a popular detective, and then dies in mysterious circumstances. To compound the mystery, the final chapter of his last novel is missing. His editor (played by Lesley Manville) investigates.
My main complaint about Magpie Murders is about lighting. I know what they think they’re doing: they’re going for ‘natural’, which means – in practice – dim, flat, obscure. It’s frustrating, because it all looks a bit shit to me. If I wanted reality I’d look around my own house in the dark.
Moving on to Murder in Provence, then, and I’m lost in admiration at this brazen piece of TV fluff, which seems to exist solely as a nice beano for the mostly British cast. It’s genius really: set in Aix-en-Provence, everybody is supposed to be French, but not a single actor speaks with anything other than a British accent. It’s like an episode of Star Trek, in which Kirk and Co arrive on a strange planet and – thanks to the Universal Translator – manage to speak in American English to the lumpy headed aliens.
Now, some people have complained about this, but it seems perfectly pitched for these times. It’s not just that all of the supposedly French characters speak English: they’re all of a certain age, too. As we all sit in dingy Brexit Britain, watching the price of diesel and petrol tick upwards in real time as we queue for the few drops of fuel that have made it through the blockade; and contemplate the lorryloads of fresh produce rotting in Dover; or watch the news about our lying Prime Minister and his lying Chancellor and the sociopathic Home Secretary; we can all fantasise about being in a fantasy (Le Pen–free) South of France, eating in a Bistro and buying cheap red wine by the crate. And when I say, we, I of course mean those of us who have reached a certain age, and discovered that our plans to retire to somewhere nice like France or Spain have gone up in smoke, thanks in large part to our lying Prime Minister.
Instead, we get to watch the likes of Roger Allam, Patricia Hodge, Nancy Carroll, and Geff Francis living the lives that we can no longer aspire to. The murders in Murder in Provence don’t matter in the slightest: it’s Provence that matters. Christ, I hate this country.
But that’s okay, because a show doesn’t have to be L-O-L funny to be enjoyable, and Hacks is enjoyable enough, if not quite on a par with the period comedy about comedy The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, in which people are dressed better, at least.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the great and the good have started tweeting about Hacks and how much they’re enjoying it. It has a lot going for it: a female-led cast, and women allowed to be complicated without being cartoon villains. Such things are not to be sniffed at. The short episode length is also a boon: this is one of the main reasons I quite enjoyed Parallèles. There has been too a lot of praise for Jean Smart in the lead role as Deborah Vance, a veteran comedian who has outlasted her way to a lucrative Las Vegas residency; and for Hannah Einbinder as Ava Daniels, a cancelled comedy writer hired to write her some new material.
But of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t start disliking the show more every time I see somebody else praising it.
It’s okay, but notwithstanding the shorter episodes, there’s still a bit of a dip in the middle, during which the show seems to be treading (rationed) water in preparation for the big finish. There are moments when Vance’s quips are quite funny, but my biggest problem is that the Daniels character isn’t remotely funny. I’ve been led to believe that comedy writers’ rooms are pressure cookers of excellence, with jokes coming thick and fast for the laugh-a-minute likes of Seinfeld and The Good Place or Brooklyn 99. And she’s supposed to come from such a pressure cooker, so where are the jokes?
The premise is that Daniels has been cancelled for an off-colour joke on Twitter. Believable, except the joke wasn’t funny, nor particularly off-colour. Couldn’t this particular writers’ room come up with something at least a little outrageous? And while I’ve also been raised on the sad clown trope, even when she’s supposedly working, she doesn’t ever come up with anything funny. And the show itself knows this, because it shies away from showing us Vance performing very much of this new material.
Fine, fine, it’s a character-led “comedy” drama, but there’s a problem, I think, because there’s plenty of Vance being funny—before Daniels comes to work with her. But virtually nothing of this new writing partnership. So we’re left with a strong impression of a comedy legend who has been killing it for 50 years, but almost nothing to warrant the continued employment of this down-on-her-luck comedy writer. If she’s so brilliant, why isn’t she brilliant?
Anyway, it’s all right. I mean, when there’s nothing much else on. And once you’ve burned through new episode Friday, there’s nothing much else on.
I can’t leave without adding the obvious: every media personality praising Hacks has probably not paid £4.99 for a month of Starzplay in order to watch Station Eleven and Counterpart. Fucksake.
I watched the first two episodes of Slow Horses on Apple TV+. I reviewed the book back here, and said that I enjoyed it, but that the prose was not a match for Le Carré at his best. That said, it was an entertaining read and had enough plot to keep you turning the pages. The transition to TV seems to have kept everything intact, bringing the text to life in the manner of modern quality television drama.
It’s a good cast, including Kristin Scott Thomas and Jonathan Pryce. Gary Oldman (who once played Smiley) is Jackson Lamb, burnt out secret agent with gross personal habits, who has seen more than you could ever believe; Jack Lowden is the bitter tyro River Cartwright, who has been exiled to the so called Slough House because of a fuckup he does not accept was his fault. Kicked from his fast-track career in the Service down to the level of looking through peoples’ bins, River is itching to get back in the game, taking a series of decisions that will put himself and others at risk.
Meanwhile, a young British Asian comedy writer, Hassan (Antonio Aakeel) has been abducted by a domestic far right terror group who are threatening to live stream his beheading.
The first two episodes at least follow the plot of the book quite closely, and you can see the narrative threads beginning to entwine in a satisfactory way. Mick Jagger has supplied title music and the whole enterprise has a quality to it that makes you feel as if you are in safe hands. Best spy thing since The Night Manager.
I watched Parallèles / Parallels, which – if you squint and turn your head into the upside down – is a kind of French language Stranger Things. It’s not very long, coming in at just six shortish episodes. The final episode is around 42 minutes, and the rest come in between 34 and 39 minutes.
The basic premise is that four teenagers head off to some kind of abandoned bunker for an illicit party. Three boys and one girl. There are tensions: two of the boys fancy the girl; one boy is a younger sibling who is threatened with boarding school.
Meanwhile one boy’s mother, a physicist, is about to push a button on a kind of squint-and-turn-your-head Large Hadron Collider. And then the lights go out and suddenly the four teens are split into different versions of themselves. The younger boy and girl disappear in one universe and find themselves alone in another. The birthday boy has been replaced by a man in his 30s.
So it’s a little bit parallel universes and a little bit time travel. There are also some unexplained superpowers. It’s actually not bad, in the absence of other options. I like that they used different actors for the teens at different ages rather than trying to age them down or up. A lot of good decisions went into this. What I especially liked about it was that it was clearly made to be no longer than it needed to be. So it’s fast paced with no flab, and no 2-3 episode dip while they string it out to make it 8 or 10 episodes.
When I first turned it on it was a badly dubbed English soundtrack, and I tried a couple of other languages before discovering it was supposed to be in French. I recommend you watch it in VO (version originale) with subtitles.
What is a person to do once they’ve finished watching Station Eleven? In my case, almost certainly read the book for the third time. And also, absolutely definitely, watch it again, from the beginning.
I can’t remember the last time I had this feeling about a TV show or film. From the moment I first saw the trailer, I knew it was going to be special. And I know that not everybody has found it so; that many lovers of the book have taken issue with its changes; that others have criticised its pace, or its confused narrative. But now I’ve watched it to the end, I’m here to tell you that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, and I think everybody concerned played a blinder.
Let’s go through the departments. Emily St John Mandell’s novel was great source material: a beautiful lyrical story about the things that connect us and the things we share, no matter how different our lives and experience. T S Eliot wrote, These fragments I have shored against my ruin, and Station Eleven is a version of that: an accumulation of fragments, coincidences and connected lives that adds up to an ineffable sense of beauty.
Beyond the great cast, show runner Patrick Somerville assembled a talented team of writers and directors, including Hiro Murai (Atlanta), Jeremy Podeswa (Game of Thrones) and Helen Shaver (whose credits as an actor and director are extensive, but she has directed episodes of Westworld, Travelers, and Orphan Black). Then there are the myriad others involved in making something great: the art director Ruth Ammon, costume designer Helen Huang the composer Dan Romer, the editor David Eisenberg, all of whom make the kind of creative contributions that leave you lost in admiration.
Composer Romer, for example, blends three kinds of music: the folk songs performed by the Traveling Symphony; the diegetic music performed by the Symphony for the play-within-the-show (Hamlet); and the actual non-diegetic soundtrack with the usual themes for individual characters and key moments cued to lines of dialogue. It is an incredible soundtrack that blends together music that could-be might-be performed on improvised instruments 20 years after the apocalypse with the more polished orchestral score that is sometimes incredibly moving (qv “Captain, I Need You to Do an Impossible Task” or “Doctor Eleven”).
Then there are the costumes. What is it that people might be wearing 20 years on? What would children wear? How to make a costume look as if it might indeed have been put together by a child working with what was available? And this is before we get to the world building in the production design. All you need to know about this is: they made the comic book.
On editing: there’s a moment in the last episode where two characters are pictured looking out of a window in the same location 20 years apart. And as the camera moves around them and they converse, we switch back and forth seamlessly.
There might be spoilers in what follows I’m not going to censor myself
And what is the show Station Eleven about? Connections and coincidences, yes, but also ideas about loss leavened by ideas about the importance of coming back. “Survival is insufficient” is the saying borrowed from Star Trek Voyager, and, yes, Station Eleven is about the importance of art and culture in making life meaningful. And here we are, 100 years after Eliot, piecing fragments together to make something that connects us all. It’s Shakespeare’s Hamlet, yes, but its also a mashup. There’s original music, wild costumes, and improvisations, moments when the characters talking to each other are the characters talking to each other, using (at least some of) Shakespeare’s words.
It’s necessarily complex and paced to suit itself. Episode one begins 20 years after the flu pandemic that ended civilisation then flashes back to the night it all started, then back ten days further, then back to Day 0 again, and then 80 days after that, and finishes 20 years later. Every flashback and flash forward fills in another piece of the puzzle, a process that continues over the next nine episodes until the final scenes, which pack the emotional punch you need. Even if you weren’t wrecked by episode nine (I was) you will be by the finale.
Episode one starts also with the idea of making a choice. “People should choose for themselves what they want”, says Jeevan, before saving Kirsten’s life by telling a little white lie and taking her choice away. Jeevan (Himesh Patel) is a brilliantly drawn character: a man who always feels as if he has to look after people, even if he is barely equipped to do so. “Are you a doctor?” he is asked, when he leaps on stage to help the dying Arthur Leander. No, he is not. He’s not even the trainee paramedic he is in the original novel. He’s Mr “I create content… I don’t have a job”. But by the end of episode nine he’s both “Doctor Eleven” from the comic book and Doctor Chaudhary, because what the hell is a doctor 20 years after the end of the pharmaceutical industry and complex technical surgeries? A doctor is a healer, and Jeevan is a healer.
And the final episode too is about choosing. About choosing your path, about being able to make that choice. It’s about holding on to those fragments and letting go at the same time.
“Why are you helping me?” Tyler asks Kirsten.
“Stabbing you didn’t work,” she replies.
Jeevan feels obliged to look after the young Kirsten, a child actress who is abandoned by her “wrangler” and unable to contact her parents when the disaster begins. But she falls on her feet because she has Jeevan, and she has Station Eleven, the very exclusive graphic novel gifted to her by Arthur Leander.
The author of Station Eleven, the comic, is Miranda Carroll, a woman who acts as the glue between different sets of people. Once married to Arthur, friends with Clark (Arthur’s friend), and persuasively on the phone to a pilot at the Severn City airport at a crucial moment. Most importantly, she labours for years on Station Eleven, and then has just five copies printed. One of them finds its way to Arthur’s son – Tyler – and another to Kirsten. Tyler turns it into a prophecy and communicates his child’s understanding of it to other children. Kirsten grows with it, developing her understanding in a more sophisticated way as she gets older.
Jeevan, in a moment of frustration, describes the comic that young Kirsten obsesses over as “so pretentious”, but the point of it is to stand for the art and beauty we create for ourselves. Why do it? Why make art? Why perform a play with three actors and no audience? Why spend years on a graphic novel and print just five copies? This is a question that interests me as someone who creates all the time for a tiny audience. I’ve written and recorded songs that almost nobody has ever heard; self-published novels that almost nobody has ever read; and I’ve been blogging since 2003 with barely any readers. Why do it? We do it for ourselves. Miranda’s motives are the purest there are. She does it because she feels the need to do it and because life would be unbearable without it.
So to the Traveling Symphony, brilliantly realised in the series as a group of spiky, awkward lost souls, a found family who bicker constantly, but also endlessly circle the “wheel” of their regular route, performing Shakespeare for people whose lives have been reduced. They do it for themselves, because survival is insufficient. But the real point of the Traveling Symphony is that they return every year. They come back.
That lost world, the world where the annual Charter Fair wasn’t a tawdry inconvenience but a lifeline, a reminder that life isn’t just for surviving.
In the end this was a shot of love, and I need a shot of love now and then.
What is it with these TV shows about cheaters and scammers? We seem to be inundated with them all of a sudden. It’s almost as if the world is being run by liars and scoundrels and the response from the creatives is to make TV shows about scam artists and fabulists who eventually got found out.
Anyway, I can’t watch ’em. I’m not against a ripped-from-the-headlines narratives, but I can’t get worked up about this world of venture capital and wild financial speculation. It’s all pretend money being moved around by greedy people and they’re all hideous, forever and ever, amen.
So I watched two episodes of The Dropout (Disney+) and gave up on it, and then I watched about four minutes of wecrashed (TV+) before giving up on that. I don’t even know if the wecrashed thing was really a scam or whether it was just stupidity. Maybe it’s just business I’m not interested in: I very quickly gave up on Succession and although I did watch Halt and Catch Fire it was only because there was nothing else on at the time. Stuff about business always reminds me of that Fry and Laurie Uttoxeter-set spoof about hard drinking and hard talking businessmen (John and Peter). Talking of Stephen Fry, he’s in The Dropout, which was another reason not to watch it, for me.
The Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris
Over the past few months, I’ve been ploughing through Harris’ three novels based on the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, as told in the voice of his slave Tiro, who is said the be the inventor of shorthand, and several abbreviations still in use to day, etc. See what I did there?
Anyway, like Harris’ other books based on real historical characters, I went into this having my doubts. There are three books: Imperium, Lustrum, and Dictator. The first volume tells the story of Cicero’s early political career, his ambition, to the point where he’s elected Consul in 63BCE. It really is like the rise of New Labour to the triumph of 1997. The second volume starts at that high point, but immediately foreshadows the disasters to follow, as Cicero ends up being outmanoeuvred by his rivals and has to go into exile. And the final volume traces Rome’s slide from ridiculously bureaucratic republic into the chaos of civil war, the rise of Caesar and the chaos following his assassination.
Cicero himself is a preening egotist who frequently outsmarts himself and ends up being weighed down by actions taken in good faith which nevertheless return to haunt (and haunt) him. Just like Tony Blair. Romans! When they’re not stabbing each other in the back, they’re poisoning each other or whipping up a mob.
Anyway, the trilogy is quite enjoyable, but it is a lot of Cicero.
While some critics have held back from unalloyed acclaim for the HBOMax series Station Eleven, I find that the more I think about it the more I love it. There’s still one episode yet to drop here in the UK, but I’m so obsessed with this show that I even went looking for the soundtrack music on Apple Music. And I never do this.
From an early episode, “Wandering Under the Moon” captures the joyful togetherness of the Travelling Symphony perfectly.
Meanwhile, the recurring main theme/melody of the show is the track “Doctor Eleven”, which builds up to an emotional climax that gets me in the feels every time.
Finally, from the most recent episode, which had me wrecked, comes this hypnotic piece, “The Winter Solstice”. I’ve got more to say about Station Eleven, after the final episode drops this Sunday. Meanwhile, music.
When I reviewed the first season of Upload (Amazon), all the way back in May 2020, I said it was ‘proper science fiction’, which is fairly rare, once you step away from the hand-wavy Star Trek space stuff. Season Two picks up where Season One left off, which might not be much of a problem if it wasn’t so long ago. Still, I recollected it fairly quickly, and found it as watchable as before, although a decent recap never goes amiss.
It has an odd tone: a mixture of broad, silly comedy (the AI staff at the virtual resort) and darker undercurrents (a growing movement against these corporations who cater to the needs and desires of the super-rich), and it is by no means perfect, but what I do like about it is that it acknowledges the socially corrosive effects of inequality and actually faces up to it in its plotting.
Another show which straddles the line between quirky and (very) dark is Severance, (TV+), which happens to be another (proper) SF show. The premise here is that the notion of work-life balance has been taken to extremes by one company in particular. Some of the employees at Lumon Industries have undergone a procedure that means that their home selves have no idea what their work selves get up to for 8 hours a day, and vice-versa.
The ‘forgetting’ seems to happen in a special elevator that employees enter at the end of every day. The first episode begins with a newly ‘severed’ employee, Helly, waking up in a room with no idea who she is or how she got there. And a lot of the story revolves around the ways in which Helly keeps trying to quit what she sees as a hellish job, only to be thwarted at every turn. Meanwhile her boss, Mark, is new to his position, uncomfortable and inexperienced in his role, and dealing with his own doubts. His ‘severance’ was a way of being able to function at work without thinking about his dead wife, and his outside self is very sad and apparently lonely.
The atmosphere is strange, the production design (possibly through necessity) is stark and empty, and there are lots of long, empty, white corridors. There are quite a few familiar faces in this. I wouldn’t say it was enjoyable, but it is compelling.
Meanwhile, Suspicion, another TV+ show, is about four apparently unconnected British people who somehow become suspects in a kidnapping plot, and end up teaming up to clear their names question mark… It’s actually a remake of an earlier Israeli series called False Flag. There are quite a few familiar faces in this, including Uma Thurman, but while it’s fairly watchable, it isn’t particularly gripping. After a few weeks, it really feels as if the story is being spun out to eight episodes.
Finally to the Star Trek universe, which is about to begin an unstoppable onslaught on our screen time in competition with the Disney+ crap.
The third season of Discovery is just coming to an end. I bought a season pass for this when it was bumped from Netflix and I kinda wish I hadn’t, because this has not been a great season. I’m so bored with threats to Earth/humanity/civilisation. Please just tell stories. Anyway, this is another one that sags in the middle of its run of episodes, and it could really do with more traditional Star Trek standalone episodes.
Just started is Season Two of Picard, which is better than Disco. I think fans are likely to be more enthusiastic about Picard just because it has Patrick Stewart, albeit a much aged version. But it also has Seven of Nine and other delights, and this second season begins with a couple of episodes full of bold moves and gasp-inducing drop-ins. It’s looking promising, but I warn you now: if there turns out to be a threat to Earth I will roll my eyes so hard.
Coming soon is Strange New Worlds, which is a much anticipated series to feature Anson Mount as Captain Pike (pre-Kirk captain of the Enterprise) and Ethan Peck as Spock. Of course, the last time they tried a prequel series, it was called Enterprise and it went quickly off the rails following 9/11 when the producers decided to introduce an… existential… threat… to… Earth… *yawn*. So it remains to be seen whether the producers will fuck this one up, but I’m looking forward to it.
These three live action Star Treks are joined by two animated series, but the other live action show rumoured to be in development is a vehicle for Michelle Yeoh, who has definitely missed from Season Three of Disco. Anyway, look forward to a future that will be all Star Trek all the time.