Are You Not Entertained?, History in Films, television series

Are you not entertained? TV Series

I have fallen into the habit of watching television series after dinner. I’m partial to historical plots.

Many are too long and too much like a soap opera, but occasionally I get sucked into the narrative and cannot wait for the next episode like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or The Queen’s Gambit. If I learned something new, and the writing was decent, I forgave cheesiness and improbability. Have you seen these?

Lucy, a historian, Wyatt, a soldier, and Rufus, a scientist, unite to form an unlikely partnership, traveling through time to save history.  Why I like it: time travel! Recreates the historical climate well. Rufus is black, and the most interesting character — his African American perspective of US History is priceless. Visiting famous people, places and key events of US History was fun. I learned something new every episode. 2 seasons. Prime.
This French series involves a female detective duo. Impeccable Astrid has Asbergers and helps solve murder investigations with her messy, police commander. It has heart. Astrid, played by Sarah Mortensen, is a marvelous, memorable character. I watched it on prime, BBC Masterpiece Theater.
Pierce Bronson plays Eli McCoulagh, father of a Texas oil dynasty. The two-season series demonstrated the collision of cultures between the Cherokee, the Tex-Mex Tejanos, and the oil barons of Texas history. The book was better, of course, written by Philipp Meyer in 2013. Honestly, I could not keep my eyes off of Pierce. Great acting! Prime and Hulu.
Perfect late-night viewing.

I recommend reading Kristin Hunt‘s article featuring the fact and fiction behind Ryan Murphy’s Netflix original series, Hollywood. She says, “Although Hollywood features several real-life celebrities, directors, and agents, their biographies are intentionally pumped full of lies to suit the limited series’s alternative history, which imagines how life might’ve been different for queer, black, and brown entertainers if racism and homophobia were not barriers to their success.” I thought the series was a bolt of pizazz. I am a sucker for old Hollywood, and I liked the alternate history. Read Hunt’s article here:

https://www.vulture.com/2020/05/hollywood-netflix-true-stories-real-people.html

Jamestown

Never have I witnessed the perspective of women who journeyed to Jamestown, Virginia in the 1600s explored before. That unique perspective was highly entertaining. It was another historical series showcasing the clash of cultures. The Powhatan culture. The British class system. The beginning of slavery–it’s all there.

Have you seen any of these?

Are You Not Entertained?, crime drama, culture, television series

Are you not entertained? Series

During 2020, I seem to have spent more time watching different series on Netflix or Amazon than watching movies. Some started out strong but fizzled. Some grabbed my attention all the way through. Have you seen any of these?

Bosch. (3/5 stars) Starring Titus Welliver. Six seasons beginning 2014. Amazon Prime Video. As a lover of film noir, there’s an echo from previous novels and films about decadent Los Angeles. LA murder detective Harry Bosch sits in his glass home hanging over the valley perched like a lone eagle high above the lights of LA as an aloof, brooding anti-hero. The first season was interesting. Harry’s love for jazz. His fatherly instincts for teenage daughter Maddie. His motley crew station colleagues. The shenanigans by the mayor and chief police. The psychotic killer and child molester. There are plenty of plot twists.  I love the clever, award-winning introduction score. Based on Michael Connelly‘s popular crime novels, it was easy to get hooked. Something happened in Season 2. I grew bored. Bosch seemed too aloof. The plot and the twists didn’t excite me. I found it hard to keep going. Now, I can’t imagine continuing. I preferred Luther, (4.5 out of 5) the London homicidal detective played by Idris Elba. Did you like Bosch or Luther?

The Witcher. Can I rate this as a guilty pleasure? It was fun to see Henry Cavill with white hair as Geralt of Rivia. The 2019 fantasy was a ridiculous romp but still entertaining. Season 2 is promised but no dates are set by Netflix. It reminded me of those fantasy books I read in high school like The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I’ll watch season two not because it’s great stuff. It tapped into my past on some emotional level like a spell cast by one of the witches. Just don’t ask me what the plot was about. It doesn’t matter. It’s the hero plot. You’ve seen it before.

Britannia (4/5). Set in A.D. 43, the Romans invaded Britain led by General Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey), who is determined to succeed where Julius Caesar failed and conquer this mythical land on the very end of the Roman Empire. Kerra (Kelly Reilly), daughter of the King of the Cantii, is forced to put her differences with archrival Queen Antedia aside in order to unite the tribes. If you saw the series Outlander (4/5), the Druids were pretty women in white gowns dancing in circles and harmonizing. In Britannia, they are a scary, pagan group of weirdos  Looking like John Malkovich with a hangover, the leader of the Druids, Veran (Mackenzie Crook) is sinister and compelling. The outcast, a trickster, and comedic relief is the character Divas played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas who bonds with the charming young heroine, Cait (Elinore Worthington). The series copies the success of Game of Thrones by pairing characters together as they move from A to B thereby giving them deeper characterizations and a chance to root or boo them. I gobbled down season one and look forward to the second season. Stylish, smart, and dark. Amazon Prime Video. 

Fosse/Verdon. (4/5) On FX. Or rent this if you can to learn about a dynamic duo featuring the symbiotic relationship between Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams)  Spanning five decades, Bob is a visionary filmmaker and one of the theater’s most influential choreographers and directors. Gwen is a leading Broadway dancer. Only Bob can create the groundbreaking musicals that allow Gwen to showcase her greatness. Only Gwen can realize the unique vision in Bob’s head. Together, they will change the face of American entertainment — at a perilous cost. If you can maneuver around the choppy back and forth narrative without getting lost, the backstory and details are informative and entertaining. I wanted to rewatch All that Jazz and Cabaret over again.

Unorthodox. 5/5  Directed by Maria Schrader. This Netflix series has only four episodes. It’s all that is needed. What a unique story and excellent acting job by Shira Haas who portrays Ester Shapiro, a Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn. She runs away from her marriage and her orthodoxy. It’s the best coming-of-age story I’ve seen in years. It’s a refreshing story regarding a culture rarely seen or experienced. Marvelous drama.

What’s the best series you’ve seen in ages this year?