Friday 28 August 2020

Lately I've Been Watching

The latest in my series of mini TV reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.


Series: Better Call Saul - Season 5 (Netflix)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This series just gets better and better, as it gets closer to where Breaking Bad started.  If you loved Breaking Bad but haven't started watching this yet, don't miss it!  (nb, having watched Breaking Bad is not a pre-requisite for enjoying it).

Series: Snowfall - Seasons 1-3 (Amazon Prime)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The fictional story of the first crack epidemic in LA, introduced by young Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) who wasn't involved in anything more criminal than slinging a bit of weed for his uncle, until he gets involved with a coke dealer, and, later, happens upon someone who shows him how to make 'rocks'.  The three seasons trace crack's impact on the culture of the city, and on the lives of those involved - Franklin and his immediate family, CIA agent Teddy MacDonald who has far-reaching reasons for dealing with Franklin, Mexican crime boss's niece Lucia Villanueva, former wrestler Gustavo Zapata, straight cop Andre who lives next door to Franklin's mum, and his daughter, Melodie.  

I was engrossed all the way through each episode, and am happy to hear there is to be a Season 4.  It's actually most interesting to see a crime series such as this in times before the internet - it really hits you how different the landscape and culture is.  Franklin's character arc is masterfully written and acted, as some of his former principles fall by the wayside and he begins to see the effect his business is having on people he loves.  Fabulous - stick it at the top of your watch list!

For TWD addicts - Juan Javier Cardenas (Dante) plays a Nicaraguran rebel, Kevin Carroll (Virgil) plays Frankin's father, and Markice Moore (Prisoner Andrew from S3) plays a minor hoodlum.


Series: Condor - Season 1 & 2 (Amazon Prime)

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary from Wikipedia - 

Joe Turner (Max Irons) is a young CIA analyst whose idealism is tested when he stumbles onto a terrible but brilliant plan that threatens the lives of millions. Turner is an idealistic millennial who secretly joins the CIA hoping to reform it from within. But when everyone in his office is massacred by professional killers, this brilliant analyst is forced out of his ivory tower think tank and into battle with the most dangerous elements in the military-industrial complex. If he is to have any chance of surviving, Joe will have to do things he never imagined himself capable of – and discover that no one knows their true character until they’ve been tested under fire.

Gripping, loved it.  Highly recommended.


Series: Billions - Season 5 Part 1 (Amazon Prime,

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Doesn't let up, this series, never a dull moment - I like the introduction of another foe this season, rather than just Axe, Chuck and Taylor fighting between themselves; enter Mike Prince, a fellow financial whizz and Axe's rival of old, who shows his upper hand over and over - has Axe met his match?  Loved it, as ever.


Reality Show: Alone - Season 7 (Amazon Prime)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This season, the 10 contestants are sent to survive alone in the Canadian Arctic, but there's a difference: in order to win the prize money of one million dollars, the winner has to stick it out for 100 days.  

As usual, the first 20 days sorts out the wheat from the chaff, and the stronger-than-steel few get stuck in for the long haul.  Two people made it past Day 80, until they had to leave for the sake of their health, and the person I thought would win it from Day One did indeed stick it out.

I've always loved this show because the survival tactics, such as the building of the shelters and the making of tools, fascinate me, and I love to see the scenery, but I had mixed feelings about this one.  It's probably hypocritical of me, but here's why: in early seasons, the contestants existed mostly on fish, plants and the odd small rodent. I felt sorry for the mice, but it seemed kind of okay. In S7, though, we were watching serious survivalists, some of whom live the life for real, at least part of the time.  This time, they were killing rabbits and hares, porcupines and even a musk ox, in order to stay out there until Day 100.  And, as someone who doesn't eat meat and very little in the way of animal products at all, I found myself uncomfortable with watching these beautiful animals being killed for the purpose of entertainment.  Especially when their killers kissed them and told them how 'grateful' they were.  

What really pissed me off was when two contestants stole squirrels' mushroom stashes.  I'm not against killing animals when you have to do so in order not to starve, because it's nature's way, but these people were out there for self-indulgent 'personal journeys' and for the chance of winning a million dollars.  Which is their choice, but watching a contestant holding up her two dead rabbits made me feel as bad as if I'd 'liked' one of those gross trophy photos that hobby-hunters post on Twitter and Instagram.

I just kept thinking, those animals would be running around, living their lives, if not for this show.  So I don't think I'll be watching it any more.


Documentary Series: The Clinton Affair (Amazon Prime, Sky History)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Six part series, mostly about the Monica Lewinsky affair.  An older, slimmer and far more sophisticated Lewinsky talks at length about what happened; she's honest and likeable, and not scared to admit what a fool she was, though obviously she's milked it for all it's worth in the years since.  Other players in the farce appear in person, too - just another documentary that exposes the corruption at the top.  Good stuff, worth watching.


Series: Perry Mason - Season 1 (AmazonPrime,

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The series focuses on the origin story of famed defense lawyer Perry Mason. In 1932, LA is prospering while the rest of the U.S. is recovering from the grip of the Depression. Down-and-out private investigator Perry Mason is struggling with his trauma from WW1 and being divorced. He is hired for a sensational child kidnapping trial and his investigation portends major consequences for Mason, his client, and the city itself.

I very much like Matthew Rhys (The Americans) who stars as Mason, and the ubiquitous Shea Whigham as his partner, but I wasn't mad about this.  It's just a personal preference, though; I can see that it's extremely well-made and in theory ticked most of my required boxes, but just didn't hit the spot for me.  I think it's just that I'm not keen on the 'noir' genre - if you are, I am sure you will love it.  So 3* for my own taste, but 4* for how good it is of its type, in the interest of objective reviewing!