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Archive for the ‘Series (TV or Streaming) Review’ Category

Today’s review(s) are for the extended / sub-titled version of “The Millenium Series“. “Millenium” is a six-part television series made in Sweden based on the novels written by Stieg Larsson.  The six parts were combined into three “movies”, each movie consisting of two parts from the series with each part running about 90 minutes for a total of about nine(9) hours.  The English version was released under the name: “Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition”.  I watched the sub-titled version, not the one with the dubbed English.
The three “movies” have the corresponding names to the first three novels in the book series.  I understand the book series was originally intended to run to ten books, but the author (Larsson) died unexpectedly.  The “movie” titles are: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“; “The Girl Who Played with Fire“; and, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest“.
The two main characters in all three of the movies are Lisbeth Salander – played by Noomi Rapace, and Mikael Blomkvist – played by Michael Nyqvist. Salander is a twenty-something Goth hacker who works as a “researcher” for a Swedish security firm.  Basically, she’s a private-eye with computer skills.  Blomkvist is “famous” journalist and part owner of a do-gooder “investigative” magazine called “Millennium”.
The first movie (“Dragon Tatto“) has Blomkvist setup to take the fall for a false libel charge.  In between his conviction and his lockup he is hired by a wealthy Swedish capitalist who wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece several decades ago.  He is getting old and just wants to know what happened to her before he dies.
Anyway, Blomkvist enlists Salander’s help and they solve the mystery and Salander saves Blomkvist’s life in the process.  Closing the quality circle, they also prove the libel charge was a setup and the rich guy commits suicide to avoid going to prison himself.
The second movie (“Played with Fire“), has Millennium investigating sex trade in Sweden for the publication of an expose implicating some government (and police) officials.  The reporter and his girl friend are murdered, as is Lisbeth’s “guardian” and Lisbeth is implicated in the deaths of all three.
This time, Blomkvist comes to Lisbeth’s rescue gathering evidence she is innocent.  Basically, some of the men involved in the sex trade are also involved with (and being protected by) the government officials.  The main “bad-guy” turns out to be a Russian spy who flipped to get Swedish government protection.  In turn, the government looked-the-other-way for over three decades of criminal behavior (drugs, sex trafficking, and gun running).  The bad-guy also turns out to be Lisbeth’s father.  In the end, both Lisbeth and her dad are captured by the police.
The third movie (“Hornets’ Nest“), has Lisbeth on trial for the attempted murder of her father and the possible murder of the other three (the journalist, girl friend, and guardian) from the second movie.  The “government” agents seek to kill Lisbeth and her father to silence them both.  They succeed in killing the dad, but not Lisbeth.
Ultimately, Blomkvist convinces some of the police and another secret group in the Swedish “Constitutional Protection Division” of Lisbeth’s innocence and together they gather the evidence to arrest all the baddies.  There is also another issue which gets wrapped up at the end of the movie.
Final recommendation: High to Very highly recommended with the qualification that all three are rated “R” and there are extremely violent and sexual (nudity) scenes in the first and second movie.  This is not a movie series for prudes or for anyone squeamish about nudity, rape, abuse of authority or violence (depicted) against women.  The “redeeming” factor, if you need that kind of thing, is that all of the bad guys get theirs in the end.  Although some are only shown arrested and disgraced, most have “untimely” deaths.
One cultural note: this is my first exposure to a Swedish production (TV or movie) and, other than the fact that I do not care for sub-titles, I found it a very entertaining production which reminded me of the first Jason Bourne movie in how the movie “looked” – not quite TV, not quite movie; just a funky realism look.  The “only” other “Swedish” thing I remember seeing has been the “Wallander” police series.  That series was shot in Sweden, but was actually a BBC production and started Kenneth Branagh in the title role – so I don’t think that counts as “Swedish”.
I have had this version for several weeks and just never got around to watching it.  I then got an offer from Vudu to buy the “English Dubbed” version for $10.  I didn’t even know the version I had wasn’t already dubbed.  I watched the first movie (parts 1 and 2 of the 6-part series) and decided to pick up the dubbed version as well.  I don’t speak Swedish, but I noticed what appeared to be discrepancies between what the actors were saying and what I was reading – at least some of the words sounded a LOT like other English words to me.  Since I’ve invested the extra money, I’ll watch the dubbed versions, but I’ve no idea when (or if) I’ll get around to reviewing them.
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On This Day In:
2018 Four Loves
Favorite Westerns
2017 Faith In Science
2016 What The World Calls
2015 Say What?
2014 Start Today
2013 Fly!!
2012 Greater Love
2011 Before

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Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
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On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”  (2012 – 2013)  —  YouTube series review
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single viewer in possession of a good internet connection, must be in want of a new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
At any rate, as an addict to P&P, I certainly am, “in want” that is…
For about the last year or so, I have fallen into the well which is YouTube.  I am beginning to fear it (my addictions to YouTube and P&P) is like the prison exit in the third episode of the “Batman Trilogy: The Dark Knight Rises”  – you can climb and climb, but eventually you slip and fall back in.
Periodically, YouTube feeds me a morsel of P&P as a temptation to restart my viewing addiction.  And, once again, it succeeded.  Over the weekend, I re-watched the 1995 BBC version of P&P starring Colin Firth.  I have already reviewed this version, but not individually, so I’ll have to add that to my list of things to do (sometime).  Anyway, after coming back to YouTube, they were prompting me to go see a clip from another version (2003 – P&P: A Latter-Day Comedy) which I have not seen nor was I aware of.  …And, then there was a link to “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisuGP2lcPs).  Huh?  “What’s that?”, I ask.
My interest piqued, I clicked, and so began another marathon session of P&P.  The series is presented in 100 (yes, one-hundred) vlogs episodes, each running between a few minutes and 8-ish minutes.  (There are also a number of side vlogs, which I have not yet viewed.)  The series is meant to be a multi-media / channel creation with the characters (and actors) also having social media presence on other sites: FaceBook, Twitter, etc., which serves as an adaptation of the classic romantic novel: “Pride And Prejudice“, written by Jane Austen.
The series stars Ashley Clements as Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet; Julia Cho as Charlotte Lu (Charlotte Lucas in the book) is Lizzie’s best friend and often the director / editor of her vlog; Laura Spencer as Jane Bennet, the eldest of the Bennet daughters; Mary Kate Wiles as Lydia Britney Bennet, the youngest Bennet child (the flirtly one); Christopher Sean as Bing Lee (Charles Bingley in the book) is a young, wealthy (eligible) Asian-American medical student who has moved into The Netherfield House in the same neighborhood as the Bennets; Jessica Jade Andres as Caroline Lee (Caroline Bingley in the book) is Bing Lee’s sister; Maxwell Glick as Ricky Collins (William Collins in the book) is a former classmate of Lizzie and Charlotte’s, who asks that he be addressed only as Mr. Collins; Daniel Vincent Gordh as William Darcy (Fitzwilliam Darcy in the book); Wes Aderhold as George Wickham (the cad in the book and adaptations); Craig Frank as Fitz Williams (Col. Fitzwilliam in the book) is Darcy’s friend and colleague; and, Allison Paige as Georgiana “Gigi” Darcy (Georgiana Darcy in the book).
Obviously, as a vlog / diary, this version is set in modern times and therefore has many alterations in the details of the story to make it conform to the “PC” standards of our time.  However, never fear, the basic romance / love story is the same: boy and girl meet, boy and girl seem to dislike each other.  After much travail, love wins out…  Happily ever after.  Blah, blah, blah…  Whatever, right?
Yes.  Pretty much.  But does it work and is it entertaining?  That would be a YES and a certainly!  I thoroughly enjoyed the series and plan to revisit the channel to catch the side lines and other bits which I skipped in order to race through the main story.  It turns out there is a “real” company called Pemberley Digital (http://www.pemberleydigital.com) which exists to adapt classic works into new media format(s).  Who knew?  (By the way, Pemberley is the name of the estate Darcy lives at in the P&P book.)
Final recommendation: very highly recommended!!  Even with the “modernization”, the series follows quite closely to the original book and the three sisters are actually outstanding actors in their respective roles – with special kudos to Ashley Clements who is outstanding throughout the series and Mary Kate Wiles who really hit it out of the park in the last few episodes.  If you are a P&P fan, you will definitely want to check this out on YouTube.  It is also available on DVD’s, but I’m not sure what extra value you get for your $60.  There must be some great bloopers and behind the scene gags for that price.
LoL, now I want to go find some of the other P&P adaptations which I was not even aware of until I started researching this post.
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On This Day In:
2018 Does Fatalism Equal Mental Health?
2017 Choice
2016 Growing Worlds
2015 Change The Tide
Martyr, n.
2014 You, Too!
2013 Bitter Stand
2012 Lost For Words
2011 On Market Reactions…

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1934©)  —  book review
Like a dog with a fresh bone, sometimes I find it hard to let go…
Over this last weekend, I indulged my OCD and read the short novel “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1934©), written by James Hilton.  Amazon says the paperback is seventy pages, but there are eighteen chapters and most seem less than a full page long.  I read the novella in under two hours.  The book is in public domain, so you can download it and read it for free.
The book has a number of adaptations, including movies made in 1939 (a drama) and 1969 (a musical – review here), a TV series from 1984 (BBC) and a TV movie from 2002 (ITV).  More on these later…  (OCD remember).
The author, James Hilton was the son of a school headmaster and he attended a public boarding school.  Note: a “public” school in England is a “private” school in the U.S. Hilton is said to have based the work on both his father and a master (“teacher / instructor”) at his own school (although it is believed to be mostly based on the teacher at the school he attended).
The main character of the novel and movies, Mr. Chipping, spends the majority of his life (50-plus years) teaching Latin (and Greek) at a single school (Brookfield School) and the book is a reminiscence of his time there.  There are two notable occurrences: one is the meeting of a best-friend Herr (Max) Staefel, the school’s German language teacher and the second is a chance meeting with a young lady who ultimately becomes his wife.  The “shock” of the wedding is not just the marriage of a “confirmed” bachelor, but that the bride is considerably younger than the groom (on the order of 23 years) AND she is as attractive as he is staid.  The book is unclear how long they are wed (roughly one year to eighteen months) as she passes away in childbirth (on 1 April – “April Fool’s Day”).  Chipping stays long enough at the school that he instructs four generations of one family and, on his deathbed, only his housemaid is aware that he was ever married (over thirty years before the death scene).  This results in the famous lines that it was a shame he never had any sons of his own who might have attended the school.  Chipping’s dying response is that indeed he did, thousands of them – and all boys.
Final recommendation: very highly recommended!  I would recommend reading this very short book before viewing any of the four adaptations, but I have seen all of them (three of them in the last week) and you won’t be put off by reversing my call.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1984)  —  TV series review
This version of the novella was on the BBC in six half-hour episodes (roughly three hours run time) and starred Roy Marsden as Chipping and Jill Meager as his wife.  I am fairly certain this is the first version I saw of the adaptations as I have a distinct memory of the cricket scene which appears in the this version.  I believe I saw this version on PBS, and probably first viewed it with my new (British) wife in 1985, the summer after we married.  The series is available on YouTube, which is where I watched it this weekend.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  As stated above, this was my first exposure to the “Chips” story, so it has a special place in my heart / memory.  I will add this version is closer to the actual time frame depicted in the book and the first (1939) movie version.  It also is much closer to being an anti-war movie than the book or other adaptations.  Finally, in this version, Katherine (Bridges) Chipping is an unemployed governess living with her aunt in London, as opposed to the stage singer / dancer portrayed in the 1969 musical adaptation.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (2002)  —  TV movie review
Staring Martin Clunes (of Doc Martin fame) as Mr. Chipping and Victoria Hamilton as Katherine (Bridges) Chipping.  This version appeared on ITV and Masterpiece Theater as a two hour “TV movie”.  I watched it on YouTube where it runs as six episodes of approximately 15 min.  This version is not only an anti-war movie, it is also anti-bullying.  It goes out of its way to critique the hazing of new students and bullying of the younger and smaller students by the bigger, older and / or wealthier students.
At first I found it difficult to get past the “Doc Martin” typecast I have for Clunes.  I didn’t care for his aging (special effects / makeup work) as it looked like glued on rubber pieces.  It was more than halfway through, before I could finally see the role and not the actor in the role.  I have a feeling that was as much me as Clunes, though.  Also, the YouTube version I was watching lacked the start of the movie, so I was left wondering if any other parts had been cut out / off.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  If this (YouTube version) is the only version you can find, it is good enough for you grasp and enjoy the movie.  Clunes ends up convincing as Chips and Hamilton is equal to the role of Katherine.  She is not nearly as “young beauty” as Meager or as winning as Clark (in the 1969 musical), but, in her own way, I felt she owned the role – particularly in her telling of the tale of the “sun vs wind wager”.
So, all in all, my reading and three viewings of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” have been very enjoyable.  Each offered a slightly different aspect of what is considered a “classic” English tale and have hi-lighted (to me) what a true gem the story remains – even eighty years on (and counting).  I look forward to watching the 1939 version as soon as I can find it and to re-watching the others when they eventually become generally available (instead of broken up on YouTube).
* The post title is my weak attempt at a Latin translation of: “Goodbye Again, Three Times“.
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On This Day In:
2018 Tweets From The Disrupter-In-Chief
2017 Do We Still Listen To Her Silent Lips?
Not Now, Not Ever
2016 Why Do You Write/Blog?
2015 Can Your Repeat The Question, Please?
2014 On Faith
2013 My Name Is Charles Stein
2012 Faiths And Sorcery
Made And Kept Free
2011 Multi-Source Learning

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The Punisher” (2018 – Season 2) — series review
Caution: “some” spoilers in this review.  If you intend to view the series, stop now…  You’ve been warned.  Also, much of this review is the same as / similar to my review of season one.
This is a Marvel Comics Universe “TV” series appearing on NetFlix.  The “Punisher” character was introduced in the (recently cancelled) “DareDevil” series (in season two) – and pretty much took it over – and this review is for the second season of his (the Punisher’s) series.  Basically, (in season 1) the family of a military expert is killed and he takes revenge against the killers.  He leaves one guy, who he promises (“threatens”) to come back for.  Blah, blah, blah.  Segue to season two…  So, now the guy who survived season one escapes from the mental hospital and the Punisher has to finish the job.
Ok, that’s pretty much what I expected from the end of season one…  And, it’s almost what you get in season 2.  The thing about the “Punisher” series is it is NEVER about the dozens of people he kills.  It is ALWAYS about “justice” for the guys behind the violent criminals.  The ones who are actually pulling the strings.  (And in this series, discovery means execution.)  In DareDevil, it was finding out who had his family executed.  In season one, it was about who actually did the executions.  Because that season ended in a non-fatal way, the antagonist could be a returning villain, but they could not be the “main” baddie.  Like season one, a new string-puller has to be introduced: in this case a husband and wife team who use religion to make themselves wealthy and powerful.  And, then they have a puppet (on a string)…
This season, the series still stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle / Punisher, Ben Barnes returns to the second season as Billy Russo (Frank’s wartime friend who was the bad guy in season 1), Amber Rose Revah returns as Dinah Madani (Homeland Security Officer), Corbin Bernsen and Annette O’Toole as Anderson and Eliza Schultz (the “real” bad guys for this season), Josh Stewart plays John Pilgrim (the hyper-violent “religious” puppet of the Schultz’s), Giorgia Whigham plays Amy Bendix (the “innocent” who must be protected by Castle), Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle (the Vet “do-gooder” medic), and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page (a carry over from Daredevil).
The season is dark but not as dark as the first season.  Literally.  There just seemed to be a lot more daylight / outdoor scenes.  But the killing is mostly done at night or in darker / indoors lighting.  (I think it’s meant to be a metaphor, but it’s easy to make this type of show more sophisticated than it really is: always remember, it’s “just” a comic book adaptation.)  The series continues to try to deal with a host of issues, “BIG” philosophical issues, from right and wrong, to innocence, vigilantism, friendship, personal loss, and a rather bizarre attitude that “justice” almost always ends with violence – particularly gun violence.  While the depiction of gun violence is pretty accurate, the depiction of physical recovery remains essentially: “and then a miracle happens.”  There are scars, but recovery (from blows, gun shot wounds, knife cuts and broken bones) is almost instantaneous.  Like I said: comic book…
Does it work and is it any good?  If you like this kind of thing (same as season one: explosions, excessive violence, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, lots and lots of guns and gun fire, and did I mention explosions), and I do, then you’ll continue to enjoy this series.  And, I did.  The question was: is it any good and was it better than season one?  Everything I said about season one remains true: “As a comic book adaptation, it is very good.  As an action / adventure / who-dun-it, it’s pretty good.  As a realistic portrayal of armed and unarmed combat, uh, it’s a comic book…”
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This season is rated higher than season one because they let the actors act more and kill / maim less (slightly).  In typical Marvel fashion, Billy Russo “almost” becomes a sympathetic character as we are introduced to his childhood and his earlier relationship with Castle.  Again, the series is definitely for mature audiences ONLY.  It feels strange to say (admit) it, but I (again) enjoyed the acting and the story more than I did the violence.  I particularly enjoyed the four part twist at the end of the season.  This was a better season and I hope Marvel and NetFlix give “The Punisher” another season to see where Castle’s wandering takes us.
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On This Day In:
2018 Choose Goodness
2017 Developing Translations
2016 Think Like A Hero
2015 Reductionism
2014 Gravitation, n.
2013 Ups And Downs
2012 Nerd Heard – And Good-Bye
Your Continuum
2011 Career Tips (Part 2)

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Bodyguard”  (2018)  —  TV series review  (BBC and NetFlix)
This review is for the BBC series from last year which was made available world-wide (or at least here in the U.S.) via NetFlix.  The series stars “Game of Thrones” actor (oldest Stark son) Richard Madden as Sergeant David Budd, an Afghanistan war veteran and Protection Command (PCO) bodyguard, Keeley Hawes as The Right Honorable Julia Montague, the Home Secretary, Conservative MP for Thames West (the “subject” person being protected), and, Gina McKee as Commander Anne Sampson, Head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.  Of course there was a raft of others, but I remembered (finally) McKee as the crippled wife / friend seen in “Notting Hill” (my review of that here).  McKee didn’t get a mention in that review / post, so I’m kinda making up for it with a mention in this post.
Like most BBC series (a “series” on the BBC means one year of shows), this series is relatively short – only six episodes, but each is roughly an hour long.  This means the series is suitable for a single day of binge viewing.  Or, alternatively, you can easily break it up into two viewings – which is what I did.
Because the show is relatively current, I won’t get into a lot of detail as it will ruin the viewing for you.  All I will say is that it is a tense, well acted police drama with a smattering of politics (police, domestic (U.K.) and international) thrown in, as well as some discreetly shown sexual content (male nudity) and action / violence lightly sprinkled in.  The first twenty minutes throws you in the deep end (tension wise) and it’s a roller coaster from there to the end.
Final recommendation:  highly to very highly recommended.  If you’re dying to see Madden’s bum or hear him repeatedly calling his superior female officers (and PC subject) “Mum”, this is your ticket.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope there will be additional years (series) to follow.  There has been no announcement as of this date (to my knowledge), but I understand the show was so popular the producers / writers have said if there is a second series, it will run through four.  If this happens, I hope they don’t run the main topic of each year across the break(s).  Please keep the story arc within each single season.  Then if the BBC or NetFlix cancel the remaining years, we viewers won’t be left in the lurch with an incomplete arc.  (Not that anyone ever listens to me…)
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On This Day In:
2018 And 40+ Years Later?
2017 He Is Alone
2016 Compensation
2015 Charlie Redux
2014 The Crux
2013 Erosion And Rechannelling
Alliance, n.
2012 How Many Thought… (One I Know Of)
Choices And Decisions
2011 Speed Spoils
Simply Intended
2010 A Second 4 Hour Jog

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Today’s “binge” review is for the series “Lie to me*“, which aired between 2009 and 2010.  I purchased two of the seasons (I haven’t seen Season 3 – from 2011) on VUDU while on sale for $5 each.  Season one has 13 episodes and season two has 22, so I watched about 26 hours of the show over the last week (ish).  Season three (13 episodes) is not currently available to purchase on VUDU, and even if it becomes available, I’ll still wait until it’s on sale for $5.  (Cause I’m just cheap / thrifty that way.)  Which means I may be waiting some time before I see / review the final season.  I believe the series was cancelled for lack of audience.  My brother referred this series over a year ago (he said it was terrific / must see), but when I told him I was watching it, he claimed to not remember it at all.  Go figure…
The series is basically a crime drama / investigation / police procedural starring Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, Kelli Williams as Lightman’s partner, Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, a graduate student / employee of the Lightman Group (Lightman and Foster’s company), Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, another employee, Hayley McFarland, as Emily Lightman (the Dr.’s daughter) and Mekhi Phifer as FBI Agent Ben Reynolds, muscle assigned to work with the Group.
The company specializes in “reading” body language and micro-expressions to act as human lie detectors.  The premise is Dr. Lightman is a “genius” at this and can tell if anyone is trying to lie.  Hence, he gets lots of work from the government and various police forces.
The show is based on the actual scientific studies and work of Dr. Paul Ekman who serves as a consultant for the show and who actually performed these duties for real agencies, in the real world.  I was completely unfamiliar with “micro-expressions” or the work of Dr. Ekman.  I read “Body Language” by Julius Fast, way back in the early 1970’s when it was a best seller, so I have been “kind-of” familiar with the general concept of “reading” people for most of my adult life.  Fast’s book was published in paperback in 1970, which is the version I read.  Dr. Ekman has loads of books and has been publishing for over fifty years.  You can find some of his videos on YouTube if you are interested in the topic.
Is the show any good?  Does the “science” work?  Yes and who knows for sure…  I thoroughly enjoyed the series after I got over my initial doubts that ANY of the premise is actual science.  If the show works (as entertainment), who really cares if the science is real or not (see StarTrek, StarWars or any of a million other series).  It IS entertaining.  Mostly because Roth owns this role.  I’m not familiar with much of his other work, so I don’t know if he’s acting or doing a John Wayne (playing himself in every role, over and over again).  I remember Roth from one of the Hulk movies and kind of remember him from “Reservoir Dogs“, but I haven’t seen that in ages, so, like I said, I’m not sure.  The other actors are mostly ok to good in their roles, but to be honest, it’s all mostly attractive yuppie stuff, so I wouldn’t say I’d go out of my way to look for any of them in other roles.
Final recommendation: Strong, but with reservations. I did enjoy the series and found the premise interesting enough that I will look into the scientific basis if I happen to stumble on a used book on the topic of micro-expressions / lie detection / body language, but I doubt if I would ever really try to use any of the info I might glean from the book.  Generally, I think I’m a bit too narcissistic to care about other people’s body language now that I’m retired.  I’m not sure their “truth” is worth all that much effort on my part and I certainly would not devote enough time on it to become expert level.  Like I said: interesting premise and entertaining series.  I’m looking forward to viewing season three.
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On This Day In:
2017 Give And Keep
2016 No Change Here
2015 Campbell’s Law
2014 Dignified Values
2013 Unappreciated Skill
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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