Category Archives: TV Series

Reviews of long running or short running TV series which do or do not deserve a bit of attention.

“The Morning Show” (TV Series/Apple TV)

Wow.
What I anticipated was not at all what I received.
I was expecting a feel-good series on the backstage of a morning show (something more like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip back in the day). I hugely underestimated this in advance.

The pilot was not an earthquake rather leaving me curious as to what will the pulse be later on.

Mark Duplass as an executive producer, Billy Crudup in an incredibly well played supporting role, and both stars – Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon form an ensemble cast that gives a powerful statement from the very start.

This is not some feel-good TV series about n’importe quoi. It is a strong voice in midst of the #metoo movement with bold statements coming from male opressors/predators in surprising attempts at victimising themselves and how women learn to stand against that by controlling the narrative.

The Morning Show sucked me in and I am so grateful to the show producers and creators that they have had the courage to make it.

It is incredibly well written and fantastically executed; the dialogues are to the point and it is a cathartic experience all in all. A strong recommend!


Season 2 is coming soon.

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“The Mire” (Rojst) by Jan Holoubek / Netflix

Two seasons – the first one is set in 1980’s, the second one in 1997 / more or less 12 years after the first season’s finale ends.
The story is set in an unspecified little town in Western Poland with troubled history.

Andrzej Seweryn plays an experienced journalist on his way out – we learn from the very beginning he has a plan to go West – to West Berlin, in those times the refuge of normalcy behind the Iron Curtain. Conveniently, there is an eager young replacement sent from Kraków.
It is a classic old:young juxtaposition and master:pupil relationship. The script is written in accordance with all the classic rules, the actors are well cast, the stories unfold slowly with each episode drawing us in.


This series has a number of strong suits: one of them is the casting of supporting roles, another a detailed depiction of communist Poland daily reality – similarly to Mad Men, the authors managed to recreate a place in time with almost no mistakes (*there is one minor thing related to what children wear at school, if you went to Polish school in the 1980’s, you will know).


Characters are subtle and distinctive at the same time, the editor-in-chief is like a warm beloved grandpa, until you cross him and then you are in trouble. The night clubs are so sticky and filled with cigarette smoke, you can almost touch it and smell it. It is the underworld of corrupt police (in the 1980’s it was a politicised milicja – derivative of military and police – a communist thing), honest prostitutes and helpful local businessmen.
The crimes are dark, the truth is even darker and the town is surrounded by a mysterious swamp that hides a lot.

Although it did not get a lot of stars at imdb, it is a strong recommend from my side.

Andrzej Seweryn acts seamlessly becoming the character of the savvy puppet master who knows way more than he reveals, till the last second. The suspense is not eating you, you just have to watch it all at once.

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“Normal People” – BBC TV series by Lenny Abrahamson / Hettie Macdonald (2020)

Based on a novel recommended by (among others) Barack Obama. The novel is written by Sally Rooney.

Set in Ireland – the story follows an on-off relationship of a young couple. They know one another from school, then both (separately) move to Dublin to study at Trinity.

It is a love story of an impossible kind. Feast for the eyes. Little bits of nudity and a fair amount of passion. Relationships with peers, parents, siblings and the outside world.

Told in very few words. The camera eye is often a third actor – e.g. during one and the same conversation of the two over a cup of coffee sitting at opposite sides – Marianne is shot from a distance, while Connell gets a very close camera angle. This distance changes as the conversation shifts. Crafty!

Melancholic, as Ireland landscape provides the background for tumultuous events. There is cold Sweden and hot Italy too.

Recommend!

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“Love & Anarchy” (2020) by Lisa Langseth – Swedish TV series

Light, pretty, smart. Shot in beautiful Stockholm, with its classy designs and architecture.

Sofie and Max meet at a workplace and develop a particular bond which leads them through harmless craziness together. To a point, when it is no longer harmless and begins to become harmful.

Rich in relationships on multiple level. Clashes of old v. young, old habits v. modernity, analogue v. digital, parents v. children, partners in business, partners at home.

Pleasant experience and beautiful to watch – with realistic personalities and faces and surprising twists.

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Black Mirror – Charlie Brooker’s TV series

Both seasons consisted each of 3 episodes.
The lowest common denominator in each episode seems to be Twitter.
Other than that, every single one story is as different from the other as possible.

The drama centers around moral dilemmas, the power of mass media, the omnipresent will for control over individual, for knowledge of what is going on behind closed doors and – even – inside one’s head.

Sometimes the setting is next door, current timing, sometimes it is in a near future, and sometimes a scary distant future.

Twitter is not the only thing borrowed from NOW. There is also the concept of mass audience depicted on the extreme level of herd instincts which although well known to us – the way it is presented should wake everyone in terror. If that is the future of television and mass entertainment, I would like to step back and move into the woods. And never get out.

Amazing, incredible visionary set of tales on humans, human nature and the future of civilisation. Disturbing, scary at times, but I honestly hope these are the worst case scenarios and they will never come to being.

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GIRLS (HBO series 2012-) by Lena Dunham

Written and created by Lena Dunham, starring mainly Lena Dunham and others such as Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Christopher Abbott, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, Zosia Mamet and many more.
Labelled as the younger version of SATC, as it tells the story of 4 female New Yorkers. Hannah (Dunham) is a writer, contesting the consumerist society – mainly because her parents decide to cut her off all financial help at the very beginning of the series.
What follows is a fascinating tale of 20-somethings who don’t want to fit in, when at the same time they need to somehow make it in New York City. They talk homegrown philosophy, they drink wine, involve themselves in relationships, breakups, but above all – they are connected by friendship. There is a lot of ex-boyfriends, accidental encounters, overanalysing, flesh on screen, most disturbing outfits and a considerable amount of disconcerting truths.
What I loved about the latest episode (Season 2, episode 5) is that it can be perceived in multiple ways. And this is how I define good narrative – it’s open for interpretation. This episode could have been Hannah’s dream. On the other hand, it might have actually happened. Still, it’s amazing how it analyses and invades Hannah’s character. How it strips her of everything she thought she was and whatever she thought she didn’t want to be. I like it because it is always fascinating to see another person, whom you perceive to be the most ‘together’ of all the people you know, and then that person breaks in front of you. In screen fiction it is the most telling of moments. And this is what defines truthfulness of the characters who are not paper characters any more. They feel real. They have their breakdowns, downs and almost no ups. And somehow, they carry on. Not necessarily calm and I am looking forward to seeing what will happen next, very much.

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Mr. Sunshine (2011 ABC – cancelled)

Allison Janney and Matthew Perry leading an enseble cast within a single-camera format.

They were both seen together before on the set of The West Wing. The chemistry seems to be working quite well.

They both are incredibly talented and work well as an ensemble. It was a good idea but perhaps the setup of the story was a little too abstract and irrelevant to many. Funny lines can only work as long as you learn something new about he characters, their development or their back story. Once all is established, there is not much left.
Janney’s character is funny as long as she is an irrational rich lady. Once she gets more human, I’m no longer interested.

What’s old: episode length – 22 minutes and style of short and pointy yet witty dialogues leading to slightly deeper layers but not too deep.

What’s new: the setting – for all I know it could be set on the moon or at a plank factory. It doesn’t really matter and that is unfortunate.

Verdict: the show got cancelled after only one season without even airing the last few episodes. There was not much to follow. Shame. But hope they will get something new soon.

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