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Posts Tagged ‘Binge TV Viewing’

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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Last night I finished binge viewing the new Marvel super-hero series “Daredevil” on Netflix.  My initial reaction was / is: “Wow!!”  Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock (the good guy) and (so far) Vincent D’onofrio plays the arch-enemy (the bad guy) Wilson Fisk aka: the Kingpin.  This is comic-book storytelling writ large in a 13 hour multi-episode/chapter story for the first season of the Netflix show/series meant for adults.
First off, this is not a show for young children.  I would give it a solid “R” rating for graphic violence and topics.  I am less bothered by the “adult” language because it is infrequent and consistent with the storylines.  If any use of foul language upsets you, you will have a problem with this show.  Like I said, “meant for adults”.
The show is dark and gritty in an oily, smudgy, inner-urban way.  Even when it’s sunlight out, the city mostly looks run-down.  Now, I’ve only been to New York City once and I’ve never been to Hell’s Kitchen, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the show’s rendition of the area, but that’s the impression I came away with.  That’s not good or bad, it’s just the impression I have.  This is important because this is the “goal” for the protagonist and antagonist is to “win” Hell’s Kitchen and help to drive it’s fate into the future.  Of course, the good-guy wants it for the benefit of the common man, while the bad-guy wants it for his own wealth and ego aggrandizement.
I think it is a sign of the times that TV / Internet shows are now using corporate malfeasance and greed as the new “evil” in our urban society.  This show has a heavy political/economic tone/message which has been infrequent or absent in recent years (at least since the early to mid-Reagan Presidency).  So, it seems, we are coming full circle…  Within this context we are asked two additional questions: can one person make a difference; and, how far can a “good” person go before they become a “bad” person.
There are, of course, multiple levels to review this show:  Netflix / binge-ing, super-hero action series, TV drama.  Let’s start with binge viewing:  I did this.  Two days/nights, eight episodes and then the concluding five the following night.  It’s a long haul, but it’s “worth” it.  The stories are well told.  The characters have time to develop depth and quirks which add to the stories.  This is not a story which could have easily been translated into a 2 or 3 hour movie format.  So, yes, the Netflix streaming worked very well (IMHO).  The only question is would I have watched the same episode 4 to 6 times before the next one came out if they were released one per week.  I don’t know – almost certainly – at least when I was younger – for certain.  Does Netflix “lose” by this?  I guess it depends on how many times I go back to re-watch.  I must admit to being a fan of the instant gratification of seeing the next episode immediately if I want to.
Super-hero actions series:  graphic violence and very well sequenced fight scenes.   Interestingly, characters get hurt and take time to heal across episodes.  Is the “graphic” violence necessary to the story?  No.  I don’t think it really is required, but it does add a sense of realism lacking in most TV shows and action movies.  After one of the beheadings, I said to myself: “That could never make it on regular TV!”  Of course, there is no realism in the amount of punishment the hero takes (and survives), but then you have to remember: it’s not just TV, it’s a comic-book adaptation.
TV drama:  Excellent!  Good vs evil and one person making a difference are always (to me) story arcs of interest.  This show tells a story (as unrealistic as it may be) and the characters develop.  Even characters who seem major because they span multiple episodes – are introduced, developed, breathe, have a life beyond the main arc, and (frequently) die.  But, it is mostly very good drama.  To be honest, I was surprised at the quality of the writing and acting.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!  This sets a much higher bar for TV series super-heroes – particularly comic-book based.
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On This Day In:
2014 I Blame Robocop
2013 Future Trustees
2012 Praise Not The Day…
2011 Educated Living

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What we learn as children,
That one plus one equals two.
We know to be false.
One plus one equals one.
We even have a word for when you
Plus another
Equals one.
That word
Is “Love”.
  —  Narration from the final scene of the last episode of the TV Series “Life
The episode was titled: “One” and originally aired on 04/08/2009
[A couple of weeks ago I went on one of my TV binges on Hulu and watched the two seasons (32 episodes) of the canceled series “Life” staring Damien Lewis as the main character (Charlie Crews) – a cop recently released from prison after serving 12 years for a multiple homicide he didn’t commit, co-starring Sarah Shahi as his new senior partner Dani Reese, and Alan Arkin as a released white collar felon Ted Earley, who is Crews’ financial advisor (and housemate).  Charlie “annoys” everyone with a dual fixation on Zen philosophy and fresh fruit (which you supposedly can’t get in prison).
The show has an over-arching story of finding the real killer and then finding out why Charlie was set up as the fall guy.  Each episode has the “main” case which is being worked as Charlie proceeds with his personal investigations.
Lewis, Shahi and Arkin are all touch perfect in their roles, with Lewis getting the best lines, Shahi the best facial reactions and Arkin as a strange kind of “glue” in the arch storyline.  At various points Ted asks Charlie: “Am I Robin to your Batman?” Then later: “I’m Alfred, aren’t I?”
My viewing wasn’t a “true” binge, as most nights I was only able to watch two episodes, and on a weekend a string of four, but it was still a compressed version of viewing the series which ran over two seasons, but was less than 40 shows because one of the years was during the television writers strike.
As I was going through the first season (11 episodes) I thought, wow, this show sure seems familiar, but I know I haven’t seen this before.  About half way through the second season (21 episodes) I started hitting shows I had seen and which I did remember generally, but not specifically.  I particularly did not remember the over-arch story, so it was interesting to see how much I’d missed and probably never understood in the first going.  As it turns out, NBC moved the series around in several timeslots, which explains why I never saw the series ending – they moved the time and I missed the initial viewing.  Although the main arch gets resolved, there are still a number of unanswered questions which we’ll now never know anything more about.
Anyway, while it is not the most realistic cop show on TV, I found it to be very entertaining and, if you have the time, I highly recommend it!  As mentioned, I found it on HULU, for free, both seasons.  The drag is if you’re not on HULU+, you will have to sit through annoying advertising.  Still, a small price to pay for otherwise quality entertainment.
I wish someone would bring the show back, but they’d probably have to re-boot the series with new actors, so I guess that ain’t gonna happen and if it did, it would probably ruin the show’s chemistry.   C’est la vi…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Reason Is Your Light
2012 Bordering Manhood
2011 Even Christ Couldn’t

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This past weekend was a good weekend for entertainment and a bad weekend for exercise.  Basically, Saturday I binged on a TV series and Sunday I topped it off with a movie.
I spent all of Saturday watching the HBO series: “The Newsroom“.  If you haven’t seen it, the series is about a fictitious cable news channel trying to go to a new “news” format.  This basically means they are trying to present “news” as facts and content and not as “entertainment”.  The overall result is a cross between “The West Wing” and “Keith Olbermann“, with a heavy dose of “the young and the restless” (soap opera) / “the young will save us” (America’s future is our idealistic youth) thrown in for good measure.
Now when I say I spent all of Saturday, I mean literally “ALL” of Saturday…  Apparently there is a newish phenomena going on, called “binging”.  That’s pronounced “binge-ing”, not like “ringing” (how it looks to my eyes).  It’s not unlike what we (older folks) grew up with — holiday marathons of “The Twilight Zone” or “Star Trek” or horror movies, but it’s without commercials.  The flip side of this “new” phenomena is that TV is adapting to our viewing habits.  Particularly on made for cable series, the writers are developing seasonal and multi-week story arcs.  Instead of adding to individual characters back story by dropping bits into a story one piece at a time, they are building the arcs with the crescendo meant to be at or near the series finale (sometimes as a cliff-hanger).
Now, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t my first “binge”, but it was my first conscious binge, in that I knew what I was going to do (binge) and what I was trying to perceive (looking for the arcs, instead of simply watching the show).  Essentially, I was looking for the pieces which didn’t fit in the current story to build for the next (or future) episodes.  This is a fascinating way to “watch” a TV show.  I feel as if I were taken out of my chair as a viewer and moved into a new role – for want of a better term – an anticipator or predictor.  I’ve gone from passive viewing to active participation.
The problem, of course, is I don’t know if the format (binging) produces the effect (active participation) or if it actually is the writing.  I guess the test will be watching the next year’s episodes one week at a time.  There is something to be said for anticipation and mulling over…
In any case, as a conservative Democrat, this show is brilliant.  It is a mirror for our times, just as “The West Wing” was for its times.  It is not anti-Republican; it is anti-stupidity.  I’m lovin’ it!  And the best part is I’m reading there’ll be more Republicans brought on to the actual writing staff to help point out the knuckle-head things the Democrats do, too.   I’m looking forward to more anti-stupidity…
On Sunday, I went to see “The Lone Ranger” with my daughter Sarah.  Sarah had no prior TLR experience, so this was going to be a fresh set of eyes on the subject.  As usual, full disclosure, I grew up watching this stuff on TV and listening to the LP (that’s “Long Playing” record to the younger readers, what you would call an “album” these days), over an over again until I could recite practically every word right along with the LP.  So, as soon as I saw the promo’s a few months ago, I KNEW I was all in for a first weekend viewing.
Is this movie great cinema? No.  Is it going to change your life?  No, well probably not.  Is it going to bring back the Western genre? No, well probably not.  Is it a good movie? YES!  Is it a long movie? Yes.  Is it worth going to see?  Heck YES!  This movie is being soundly trashed by critics and it is being predicted as a BOMB.  That’s not failure.  That’s complete bomb.  Well, it ain’t so…  It’s a good, solid, Western genre action movie.  It has loads of comedy, without being campy.  It has loads of pathos without being too maudlin.  Mostly though, it has a person of high ideals who has to struggle with the idea that life can be unfair and unjust, and that bad men can use violence and authority to do evil in the world.
Is this movie significantly better than the 1981 version (“The Legend of the Lone Ranger”)?  Well, I thought that was an okay movie (not many other did or have), too, but yes, this is much better.  Why? Mostly because the special effects of the time (1981) did not allow for the type of action sequences which appear in this current version.   Is this going to start a franchise / series of “TLR” movies?  I sure hope so…
Final comment: this is not a MUST see movie, but it is a good solid entertaining movie – Highly recommended!
Sarah’s review: “Not a ‘great’ movie, but very (surprisingly) entertaining“.   [From the mouths of children…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 Choices Matter
2011 Acceptance Is The Key
2010 Just A Permanent Crease…
Bodily Functions

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