Tag Archives: Netflix

TV Review: Jimmy Savile – A British Horror Story

A HORROR STORY

Once upon a time, there was a radio and television presenter in Britain back in the 1960s. He began to host BBC‘s Top Of The Pops and became a well-known celebrity. In the 1970s, he was known to fix any of children’s desires and wishes in the show, Jim’ll Fix It. On the show, he would receive thousands and thousands of letters, and he would attend a few of these and read it to the audience. The letters were full of children writing to him to grant their wishes. And he didn’t break their hearts; on the contrary, he won them.

Already establishing himself as the British messiah, the hospitals sought his help to raise money for good. And he listened to their calls and believe it or not, he raised around £40 million in charity. This is a massive number to raise in those times. His reputation was cemented to be a Godly man who is humble, the most respected, the dearest, and the kindest to everyone.

Wherever he went, people would gather around, wait for his glimpse for hours, take autographs, take pictures, and feel blessed that he kissed them. He befriended the former British premier Margaret Thatcher and the Royal Family. He became some cult, some saint. He became their national hero who served the country once in the great war and then contributed to philanthropy throughout his life.

And then one day, he died. The British media was mourning, and the general public was mourning. His followers forwarded their prays, and goodbyes and many came to the memorial service to have a glimpse of the coffin where he lies. He was people’s servant. They all believed that Lord took his life, a soul departed to conclude an era of dedication to put the public in staunch grief or melancholy. But what they didn’t realize was that his death was actually Lord’s act of goodwill to put a halt to the horror he implanted in scores of British lives that they never realized or got to know about in more than fifty years.

Almost a year after his death, plenty of reports surfaced, and a thorough investigation that involved police and the media concluded to the nation’s utter shock that he had sexually abused/assaulted more than four hundred people, mostly underaged, as young as five. London’s Metropolitan Police (Met) began Operation Yewtree to investigate the allegations and concluded with a report that counted the victims to be more than five hundred. The Guardian claimed in 2014 that the number of his victims was more than one thousand. That man was Jimmy Savile.

A few years ago, when I came to know about who Jimmy Savile was, I was stunned to realize that he abused most of those children during his time at the BBC and the National Health Service (NHS); how come no one raised the concerns or doubts about his mysterious personal life. How come Jimmy Savile never got caught in fifty years?


English disc jockey Jimmy Savile (1926 – 2011) presenting the BBC music chart show ‘Top Of The Pops’, UK, circa 1973. He is wearing a personalised tracksuit. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

THE DOCUMENTARY

I had the curiosity to know the right and convincing answers to my years-old questions. Thankfully, Netflix decided to commission a two-part documentary about that sex predator, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story. And by watching this show, I got a lot of insiders about this psycho. The documentary has plenty of footage that depicts his charms and charisma that were hiding his heinous saga for decades.

The two parts are smartly divided. The first part gives the audience thought about Jimmy Savile as the ever-caring servant of children who appeals to granting their wishes and also gives an insider about how Jimmy Savile rose to prominence to a magnitude where he saw himself in the company of the most powerful politicians. In the second part, the filmmakers try to locate the signs where Jimmy Savile came close to being caught.

The documentary’s biggest success is convincing its audience that Jimmy Savile successfully manipulated and made a fool out of the entire nation. There is numerous footage in the show where Jimmy, in the interview, is asked about the personal, sexual, and emotional aspects of his private life. And Jimmy, in response, speaks a tone and uses such one-liners that the audience takes him lightly and believes to be his usual jokes. This documentary proves that Jimmy was the smartest not to be caught. He had all the answers, he was quick wit. And he had the propensity to tackle any given question and reply without wasting a second and that too shamelessly. He was so powerful that it never mattered if he will ever be caught. He knew he was the authority. If anyone complained, no one would believe a word against him.

My jaw kept dropping and dropping when I observed with rage that he was giving all the clues and referring to his listeners about the things he did horrible all these decades but the audience was laughing and assuming as if he was joking. Especially when he joked that his case comes up next Thursday.

Who would have believed him? He was the master of deception. He had influence, he was an inspiration to the British for what he did in philanthropy. No one would ever believe that he can stoop that low to possibly force the girls as young as eight to have sex with him, someone who was close friends with the Royal Family and Margaret Thatcher.

Although the documentary has tried its best to give its audience a feeling of deception from this disgusting pervert, I sense that this documentary unintentionally gave a lot of insider about his humanitarian efforts. The reason why I am saying this is because the most reckoning part of Jimmy Savile’s life in brutal crimes was when he died. The post-death revelation on Britain and the rest of the world is hardly half an hour in the show. And due to such an incredibly less number of minutes, the makers and researchers couldn’t do justice to the broader detailing of the investigation at length.

Yes, the documentary was successful in setting a tone in which the viewers, especially those who didn’t know who that pedophile was, developed a genuine feeling of hatred by the end of the first episode. But the makers focused on his social contribution pretty much. Through this documentary, I was eager to watch more about his post-death events when Met began to receive complaints that led to investigations. I was more interested to watch some of those kids in their adulthood narrating their horror incident with Jimmy Savile. I wanted the makers to adopt no holds barred just like Jimmy Savile did all his life.

In every capacity, this Netflix documentary has raised global awareness and addressed the threat. It was the technology that almost caught him. The doubts and allegations were bundling when he decided to depart. I feel Jimmy Savile was unluckily so lucky to escape from all the penalties and punishment. He would be laughing in his grave that he left the world unpunished after all the crimes he committed.


CLOSING REMARKS

So who is responsible for creating Jimmy Savile out of Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile? (Yes, he was knighted in 1990). I firmly believe that the Thatcher government and the BBC are to be fully blamed. They surely had some idea. I refuse to believe that no one in the BBC or in the Thatcher government ever built a doubt or raised eyebrows about his offenses. I have read on the internet that he assaulted and raped many children and adults in television dressing rooms, hospitals, schools, children’s homes, and his caravan.

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a reminder of the disgraced that depicts one of Britain’s darkest chapters that inflicts an eternal regret about the irresponsibility of the higher commands who chose to stay silent, see no evil hear no evil, and also preferred not to address the elephant in the room.

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2007)

A space alien Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.k.a The Monocle, is a world-renowned scientist and a wealthy entrepreneur on earth. He adopts seven superpowered children who raise them as superheroes. They are called The Umbrella Academy. Years later, after failing a mission in Paris, they split. Twenty years later, they return after they receive the news of the death of their adopted father, The Monocle.

 

The Umbrella Academy was abstracted by the leading vocalist and co-founder of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way. In 2007, Way completed the writing and visual artwork of the first comic book limited series ‘Apocalypse Suite‘ with the cartoonist Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Comics published the graphic novel and was first presented in the annual promotional event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) the same year. The first issue was immediately sold out and indicated staunch interest amongst the readers. By next year, this graphic novel won Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

There are six issues in the graphic novel and each consists of 23 or 24 pages. Gabriel’s artistic work and characterization will somewhere remind the reader of Frank Miller‘s work on The Dark Knight Returns. The drawings are not really that captivating but I liked the sub-cover art pages of the issue titles. Yes, there are some pages that need attention to the detailing like Pogo testing number 5 and news reporting in the third issue. Or Kraken shutting down Vanya when she returns. I liked Vanya’s character development where it reflected that she wasn’t taken seriously and no one cared about her. Those two dark pages of music notes were quivering. Pogo’s soft corner for Vanya was also highlighted.

Twelve years later, Netflix adapted and created the streaming television series. In the first month of release, the show was watched by 45 million viewers and became one of the biggest hits of the year. The show achieved cult status and critical acclaim thanks to well-executed screenwriting.

This is not strange that the adaptation gets a license to make changes for visual dynamics to captivate the audience but I felt the sources taken from Apocalypse Suite were modified and to some extent, looked acceptable. Just, for example, Vanya’s characterization; in comics, Vanya is powerful when she unleashes her powers by playing violin but in the show, she uses any sound wave. Ben (number 6) is almost invisible in the novel but has a fine supporting role like any of the other six. Ben and Klaus (number 4) are good friends in the show and are comic relief and fan favorites. So observing these two changes, I think no one will have an objection.

Yes, there were elements that raised the eyebrows like Klaus and Vanya were LGBTQ+ characters and were not in comics. Maybe that’s a Netflix thing and this Netflix show is no different in making those choices for the established characters.

But I think Apocalypse Suite is a very interesting beginning of the series that continues its story in the next three novels, Dallas (2008), Hotel Oblivion (2018), and Sparrow Academy.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Issues 1-6 (2007-2008)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/


SUPPORTING VIDEO

If you are interested to watch the commentary about the history of The Umbrella Academy, I recommend you watch this video.

TV Review: Mai (2022)

Sheel Chaudhary works as a nurse in an old-age home and belongs to a middle-class family. Her daughter Supriya is mute and performs stand-up comedy in her college. One day, Sheel senses that Supriya is hiding something about her. And when she tries to express herself, she gets hit by a speeding truck and dies on the spot. Post-funeral, Sheel gets to understand that Supriya didn’t die from an accident, she was murdered and then the mother’s quest for the hidden answers behind the mystery begins.

To be honest, I like Mai‘s story and how this is continued in six episodes. But there are a lot of points that make the outcome, the finished product, look no finesse. The crafting of the show doesn’t give that strong impact.

One major flaw of the show is zero expressions of Sakshi Tanwar in some critical scenes. She didn’t get lost when Supriya suddenly got hit by the truck, it was more surprising than the accident. She killed Jawahar which was a game-changer but she didn’t get mad about it. Sheel bravely confronting the underground crime is unimaginable. She is ridiculed and insulted by the goons through verbal solid abuse and she behaves as if this is normal to her. When she emotionally breaks in front of her husband, she doesn’t utilize shouting at full throttle. Maybe Sakshi’s voice is like that but I imagine a motherly role going fully paranoid at her applied scenario. She is, without a doubt, an impressive actress but in a given role, I expected more rage and craziness.

The foundation of this show, Supriya’s death, is the most senseless sequence. I have never understood the idea of a character getting killed by a vehicle suddenly crashing into him/her. How is that possible first of all even if used for horror-feel? How come the characters involved before the accident are unable to detect the sound of a running vehicle? This was a truck! Sheel and Supriya kept communicating and couldn’t hear a truck coming toward them? You got to be kidding us. And then Supriya’s injuries by a speeding truck were laughable.

After a long time, I watch Prashant Narayanan and give another impressive performance. And I fail to understand how come this actor still didn’t get the deserving recognition in this showbiz. This actor is on par with Nawazudding Siddiqui and can give him a tough time in any given role. He has been criminally underrated for around twenty years. I really hope to see him getting ranked somewhere in the age of streaming services where many underrated actors are making their names.

Wamiqa Gabbi, Ankur Ratan, and Raima Sen were all first-rate. Seema Pahwa had an extremely short character that needed a push. Mai has a strong hold on violence. And overall, manages to give a kind of thriller the audience wants to watch. I just feel that Mai could have tested Sheel’s central characterization.

TV Review: Seinfeld


“I’m A Great Quitter. It’s One Of The Few Things I Do Well.” – George Costanza


PREFACE

Sometimes, I begin to write a review and ask myself, how will I ever type the words I want to express my feelings about a television show or a film that I just watched and loved a lot. It becomes a mental challenge for me to find and complete words because there is a range of writing that is assigned for certain things.

I had watched a few episodes of Seinfeld in the past but never happened to complete them. Thanks to Netflix which gave me the chance to stream the episodes. And now I ask again, what am I going to write to justify my fondness for the show. I will try and hope Seinfeld lovers will accept this.


“The Sea Was Angry That Day My Friends.” – George Costanza


NEW YORK

Picture this, the late 1980s. New York, the city of immigrants. People land here and imagine the American dream, they bring their ambitions with them. The smokey streets of New York make the sound day and night. People of humor struggle their life to write something that makes the audience laugh. New York is the heritage of cultures and trends, call it mafia, call it fashion, call it comics, call it music, call it a comedy. Call it anything, New York is a dream most of us wish for. If I speak of comedy, so many comedy clubs came into existence fifty years ago. Comic Strip Live is arguably the most prominent of all comedy showcases where many great comedians performed and made their name. Jerry Seinfeld was one of them.

So picture this New York story. Jerry fictionalizes his own life story with his friend, writing partner, and the show’s co. creator Larry David trying to break into showbiz by convincing NBC executives to give them a shot. A middle-class fellow living in an apartment has a neighbor and ex-girlfriend to circulate his life around. With only four central characters, they have a lot to talk about. A very limited content for story continuity, the city’s four bachelors roam around, complain, whine, shout, argue, and fail. They are some bunch of losers who are meeting no progress in life. But the show goes on like that because Seinfeld is the show about nothing.

The idea of this sitcom was not bought by anyone in the NBC office. They had to wait one year to expect a kick-off to get a season that happened by chance. The order of the first season was of mere five episodes and that is considered to be the smallest sitcom order in television history. The first season didn’t run in favorable numbers but attracted a young male audience. So the producers gave a green signal to continue and the rest is history.


“Serenity Now!” – Frank Costanza


WRITING

SEINFELD — “The Pilot: Part 1 & 2” Episode 23&24 — Pictured: (l-r) Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld as Himself (Photo by Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

There are a lot of things about the show that was admired and praised. For me, the biggest talking point about Seinfeld was the writing, it was phenomenal, and it was compulsive. The humor had the quality of making the simplest jokes lively and funny. Seinfeld had nothing much to do with the story but the writing was so sharp that Larry and Jerry developed tons of ideas out of nowhere to start at the restaurant’s table as conversational humor and play it rightly for the next twenty-three minutes. Just, for example, a comedy about a pen, shoes, a red dot, a marine biologist, etc. The writers had an entire episode in a parking garage about a missing car. All this shows, how talented were the writers.

I still want to emphasize the show’s writing by speaking about the importance of a story. There were many unforgettable sitcoms before Seinfeld and those shows were heavily constructed on the humor as well as the plotline. And this is where Seinfeld distinguishes itself from the others, it didn’t have a story at all. And if there was, it was ordinary. Four strugglers hanging around a restaurant talking about their minutiae of lives and coming up with the episode’s topic of the day. So it is between the lines spoken by these friends that brings a lot of responsibility to the heads of the writing staff mostly led by Larry. In one of the documentaries I watched on YouTube called ‘The Making of Seinfeld‘, the writing staff confirmed that Larry was the one who orchestrated the show’s quality of writing. He was the one to approve and finalize every single line of humor to be used in each episode. Picking every line for scrutiny is why Seinfeld, to this day, is fresh and full of life.


“No soup for you!” – Soup Nazi


CHARACTERS

In my opinion, two factors are heavily involved to make a sitcom successful. One is writing and the other is picking the most suitable actors to fit in that writing. Yes, the latter condition is applicable in all genres of television shows and films. But here, I am stressing about the role of producers and the casting directors auditioning and deciding the right actor to fit in a role to captivate the audience by being funny. Because making people laugh is one of the most difficult arts in showbiz. Seinfeld, in both the factors, was collectively blessed with. As Jerry played his own role, the show found three of the most perfect choices who fitted in the shoes of Elaine Benes, George Costanza, and Cosmo KramerJulia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards.

Julia brought a lot of strength in her character that struggles to find work, meets plenty of boyfriends, and is stuck in bizarre situations. Jason Alexander as George gave his character physically the sorriest look of being a loser and a pervert who always fails, gets jealous, overthinks relations, and shouts and throws his anger. Speaking of the character’s superiority in being unlucky, I’ll be jocular to find Jason himself and inform the readers of his being the unluckiest actor to be nominated for a record seven times without winning ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series‘ for the role.

Michael Richards was around 40 years old and the oldest of the four when he got the role of Kramer. This role will go into the history books of the American comedy shows when an audience of all ages and times will remember him as Kramer to be one of the most beloved characters. A physical comedian of that age and lanky height with the agility of a young man and rib-tickling slapsticks is a blessing for the audience and a luxury to the show. If the audience ever found any of the Seinfeld episodes boring and all the characters underperforming, they knew they can rely on Kramer to torch laughter in all his silliness. He was cordially acceptable even if there was a chance of his being offensive. He was the most beloved character of the show who many times saved the episode from falling flat.

With central characters came the recurring and minor characters who never looked to be just an extra effort of filling the space in the episode. Those were also well-written. Like Jerry Stiller as George’s hot-tempered war veteran Frank Costanza, John O’Hurley as Elaine’s boss Mr. Peterman with a peculiar speaking style of a radio jokey of the golden era, or Wayne Knight as Kramer’s overdramatic best friend Newman who loathes Jerry. Even in extremely short appearances, the show made us laugh watching the characters of African-American lawyer Jackie Chiles and a Pakistani restaurant owner Babu Bhatt. Although, the character of George Steinbrenner as George’s boss was never depicted from the front but his scenes were always shot from the back. I find it hilarious but the character became a question to me when his face was still not discovered in the finale. So what was the point of keeping his face away from the audience then?


“A Festivus for the rest of us” – Frank Costanza


SCENES

I am not sure how often this happened before the show’s creation but it was innovative to start and finish almost every episode of the first seven seasons with Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up comedy routines with his thoughtful and chucklesome observational jokes. That was also because Jerry played his own role so it made sense. However, the routine scenes were not mostly related to the episodes. It just tried to give importance to the character’s job. But in some episodes, Larry and Jerry wisely connected the routine scenes by depicting the life of a stand-up comedian who quests for moments that make him develop humor to use on the stage.

The finale of the fourth season “The Pilot” showed Jerry being recognized by one of the producers at the NBC that he cannot act because of his being a stand-up comedian. This covered the accuracy of the sitcom’s ugliest fact that Jerry Seinfeld really wasn’t a good actor at all. His writing and jokes protected his legacy and the other three characters also made his performance vulnerable.

As I talked about Elaine’s character above, on a few occasions, I felt Elaine’s character weight over her personal and economic life was given a sharp contrast as she was a lonely character like Kramer and the only female character in central. The backgrounds of Elaine and Kramer were not that much brought to attention as compared to Jerry and George who had their parents in the supporting roles and a lot of minutes and dozens of episodes were invested in them. If I am not wrong, the backgrounds of Kramer and Elaine were rarely touched. Once Kramer’s mother appeared in “The Switch” where we came to know that his first name was Cosmo. Elaine’s father appeared once in “The Jacket”.

So my point is that Elaine’s lone female character in the men’s world was challenging and several times gave attention to detailing woman’s struggles in personal and economic life. Like in ‘The Subway’ episode when she feels insecure stuck on the train and overthinks that someone will harass her. Or once in a restaurant, she is outraged witnessing all the hired big-breast waitresses that happened in the finale of the fourth season “The Pilot”. She was once in relation with a psycho in “The Opera” who attempted to be threatening to her and she pepper-sprayed him and ran away. In “The Pick“, she felt massively insecure when her nipple shows up on a Christmas card without her notice. There was certain awkwardness in her personality that made Jerry and George insecure. It was funny that they had no courage to admit to Elaine that they felt uncomfortable as she looked weird while dancing at the party as Elaine danced in “The Little Kicks”, only once in the entire show.

Babu Bhatt’s character of a Pakistani immigrant trying to do his restaurant business was quite a representation of those many thousands of South Asian low-scale/mid-scale workers who try to somehow settle outside their countries, especially in American and European regions but their visa/immigration situation becomes a problem. So comic story aside, I think it was interesting that the writers highlighted this issue.

From the seventh season, there was continuity in the comical incidents. The humor from the previous episodes of this season was mentioned in the coming episodes like the barking dog that disturbed Elaine and the pact between Jerry and George of changing their lives in “The Engagement” were mentioned later in that season. Maybe Larry and Jerry tried some new ideas for this season as this was the former’s final season as a producer and the writing head.


“Yada, Yada, Yada” – Elaine Benes


SEIN-VERSE?

There is room for a lot of ideas after we observe plenty of comebacks and returns from the original works in the shape of prequels, sequels, and spin-offs that become memorable on television and film formats. I don’t believe in the continuity of Seinfeld as it is a sin to even consider a one-season stretch for the sake of the audience missing it and regretting the consequences. Larry and Jerry have built their legacies around this show, with Jason, Michael, and Julia also.

But after watching this series and seeing the developments the other memorable programs are meeting ahead on different networks, I think of a few ideas that can get commissioned for max one limited series.

I think of a limited project about Kramer’s background story before he met Seinfeld. I think of Newman’s character post-Seinfeld. Or reflecting on Frank Costanza’s military life about his embarrassing series of mishaps and later as a traveling businessman. How about a funny courtroom drama about Jackie Chiles, no matter if pre- or post-Seinfeld. Seinfeld chronicles have a lot of potential to spare a thought and create a universe.


“Boy, these pretzels are makin’ me thirsty.” – Cosmo Kramer


GREATEST?

SEINFELD, from left: Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan addressing studio audience, 1990-98. photo: ©Castle Rock Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

This has been a decades-long debate if Seinfeld is the greatest television show of all time or at least in the United States. If I check Seinfeld’s rank amongst the greatest in the most popular magazines or the media companies of the United States, it will prove that the show has been almost every critic’s staunch favorite and has been stamped with great honors and regard.

One of the strongest American foundations for the writers, the Writers Guild of America, considers the show the second best-written television series after The Sopranos. Both Rolling Stones and Entertainer Weekly have ranked the show third amongst the all-time greatest.

Seinfeld tops on TV Guide and the most interesting part about this is that Seinfeld is NBC’s property and TV Guide is owned by CBS. This top 50 list was created by the TV Guide editors. They had 16 CBS shows on this list but crowned Seinfeld.

I have a lot to catch to understand if Seinfeld really is the greatest sitcom of all time if not overall genres. I have watched plenty of sitcoms from the 1990s and so far I believe, Seinfeld has to be the greatest sitcom of that decade. But I will not declare this because I am yet to watch Frasier.


“How long it takes to find a bra? What’s going on in there? You ask me to get a pair of underwear, I’m back in two seconds…you know about the cup sizes and all? They have different cups.” – Frank Costanza


CLOSING REMARKS

NBC
Seinfeld
(l-r) Jerry Stiller, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander

Seinfeld is typically an authentic New Yorker sitcom that gives an honest portrayal and feel of the city. In my sitcom-watching experience, the only other sitcom that had attractive New York aesthetics before I watched Seinfeld was Taxi. Seinfeld is one of the most deadly combinations of comic writing and comic acting. This is one of those classic sitcoms that proves that you don’t need to use curse words or talk about sex in all your comic lines to captivate the interest of the audience to maintain ratings. Apart from the first season which was quite average, I think the third, fourth, eighth, and ninth seasons were the show’s peak.

Seinfeld’s finale was watched by over 76 million U.S. television viewers which put them third in the list of most-watched series finales in the U.S. behind M*A*S*H and Cheers. The respect that this show earned was so vast that when this episode was aired, TV Land decided not to run any program at that time and rather showed a closed office door with some handwritten notes that said “We’re TV Fans so… we’re watching the last episode of Seinfeld. Will return at 10pm et, 7pm pt.” Such incidents hardly surface.

When the show was closest to farewell, the second last episode ‘The Chronicle’ recapped most of the memorable scenes that happened throughout the show with impressive editing and played Green Day‘s Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) in the background. The feeling was strong, my emotions were hurt, my heart was breaking, and I was in denial that the time is up and Seinfeld is wrapping up. I may watch it again but that impression of watching and completing the show in its entirety the first time is something else. That will never happen. If this is how I felt while watching this on Netflix, I wonder how the world reacted when the show was concluded in 1998.

When you immensely love a tv show, its characters, its continuity, you imagine that the show will never end. Seinfeld is one of those television shows that sentenced me to eternal grief that its life, that I thoroughly enjoyed and lived with, was finally expired.

SEINFELD — “The Finale: Part 1&2” Episode 23 & 24 — Pictured: (l-r) Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld — Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank

“George, we’ve had it with you. Understand? We love you like a son, but even parents have limits.” – Frank Costanza


FAVORITE SEINFELD EPISODES

S01 E01 – The Seinfeld Chronicles
S01 E04 – Male Unbonding
S02 E02 – The Pony Remark
S02 E03 – The Jacket
S02 E08 – The Heart Attack
S03 E01 – The Note
S03 E03 – The Pen
S03 E05 – The Library
S03 E06 – The Parking Garage
S03 E07 – The Cafe
S03 E12 – The Red Dot
S03 E13 – The Subway
S03 E14 – The Pez Dispenser
S04 E09 – The Opera
S04 E11 – The Contest
S04 E14 – The Movie
S04 E16 – The Shoes
S04 E17 – The Outing
S04 E23 – The Pilot (1)
S04 E24 – The Pilot (2)
S05 E03 – The Glasses
S05 E06 – The Lip Reader
S05 E10 – The Cigar Store Indian
S05 E11 – The Conversion
S05 E12 – The Stall
S05 E14 – The Marine Biologist
S06 E08 – The Mom & Pop Store
S06 E09 – The Secretary
S06 E13 – The Scofflaw
S06 E16 – The Beard
S06 E18 – The Doorman
S06 E21 – The Fusilli Jerry
S06 E22 – The Diplomat’s Club
S06 E23 – The Face Painter
S06 E24 – The Understudy
S07 E05 – The Hot Tub
S07 E06 – The Soup Nazi
S07 E12 – The Caddy
S07 E16 – The Shower Head
S08 E01 – The Foundation
S08 E03 – The Bizarro Jerry
S08 E04 – The Little Kicks
S08 E05 – The Package
S08 E06 – The Fatigues
S08 E09 – The Abstinence
S08 E10 – The Andrea Doria
S08 E11 – The Little Jerry
S08 E12 – The Money
S08 E13 – The Comeback
S08 E17 – The English Patient
S08 E19 – The Yada Yada
S08 E21 – The Muffin Tops
S09 E03 – The Serenity Now
S09 E06 – The Merv Griffin Show
S09 E08 – The Betrayal
S09 E10 – The Strike
S09 E11 – The Dealership
S09 E12 – The Reverse Peephole
S09 E17 – The Bookstore
S09 E18 – The Frogger
S09 E20 – The Puerto Rican Day
S09 E23 – The Finale (1)
S09 E24 – The Finale (2)


“It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous.” – Jackie Chiles


Film Review: Dasvi (2022)

Ganga Ram Chaudhary (Abhishek Bachchan) is an uneducated politician and Chief Minister of his state who is imprisoned for a scam. His arrogancy leads to weakening his rank in his party especially after he appoints his wife Bimla Devi acting CM. During his time in prison, he pretends to earn his right to complete his education as an excuse to avoid labor work. But after reading a few history pages, he develops an interest. With time, he realizes that completing education is the key to succeeding in elections by building optimism through individual development.

Dasvi is like Sardar Ka Grandson, a thoughtful and impressive story but weak execution. But the difference is that the former had better comic timing and applied sensitivity in humor quite well in the middle whereas the latter had no decency to push for an emotional tale by applying extremely forced humor.

Secondly, Dasvi also looks to reimagine the Munnabhai duology but calling it copied from the latter will be incorrect because the director tried to separate the elements of the Munnabhai series in Dasvi. There is a glimpse of matching the plotline but both films run in different parallels.

Yes, Dasvi is an exaggerated comedy but the film can be qualified as a political satire. Abhishek Bachchan, who I believe has begun his second inning from Manmarziyaan and has been selective in picking films and roles, has found the momentum in Dasvi where the audience will accept him and give him another chance. He has always been a good actor but his past choices and being compared to his father ridiculed his career. But this is the first time I feel that like many actors in the past few years, Abhishek is building a repo and may come out of being underrated for more than a decade.

Although, Abhishek’s performance in Dasvi wasn’t really as impressive as he has performed like this in the past. But if someone has watched him in a lot of films, will observe that in the past films he didn’t have the confidence to act nor did most of the directors try to dig his hidden artistry. But now, he is a learned actor making rounds.

But more than Abhishek, Nimrat Kaur is the winner here. Her character development was impressive. Her transition from a clueless and illiterate housewife becoming an interim CM to a refined one was splendid. Also, I must mention Yami Gautam‘s supporting role. Looks like she is getting serious about playing character roles.

Dasvi deserved a better script to do justice to the story.

RATINGS: 4/10

TV Review: Bel-Air

When the news about the reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air broke out, I was not okay with it. Then the first trailer was released; and I felt that the show looks like reimagining the whole plot of the sitcom in a new direction, giving a dramatic approach with a better address. Switching a massive hit sitcom into a comedy-drama needs a lot of courage, commitment with the scriptwriting, and a solemn promise that the show will not disappoint the viewers. After watching the 10-episode first season, I can convincingly inform the readers that Bel-Air, the reboot, absolutely did not disappoint at all.

The reboot became possible after Morgan Cooper released a short fan film on Youtube and Will Smith happened to watch it. It was so compelling that Will personally met Morgan to discuss expanding the film’s vision into a reboot. Both of them became executive producers along with the original line of producers including Benny Medina (the real Will Smith), Quincy Jones (the man who gave birth to Will Smith’s acting career in this sitcom), and Borowitz couple (Andy and Susan, the show creators). Peacock won the bid in competition with Netflix and HBO Max and gave a two-season order.

The new show focuses on the serious elements of all the sub-plots, the characterization of the main characters, and the continuity of the original sitcom. The writers left no space to give a better understanding. One of the best aspects of the show is that the show brilliantly gives a broader detail about all the characters, a decent capacity of screen time to give the characters and story some breathing. The heavy issues get pressing and more push.

Bel-Air visually dramatized most of the lyrics of the sitcom’s popular theme song ‘Yo Home to Bel-Air‘ in the first episode. Uncle Phil (Adrian Holmes) has a stronger personality and is visibly an important figure as a husband, a father, and a lawyer. Will (Jabari Banks)’s daddy issue has been well-taken care of throughout the season. Carlton (Olly Sholotan)’s character without a doubt has the best characterizing, and the behavioral attitudes and personal traits an annoying Carlton should have is all smartly portrayed here. More than half of the season has Will on Carlton’s nerve with an excellent screenplay raising valid questions about the family being more concerned for Will than Carlton all of a sudden. British butler Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola) is a definite upgrade from the sitcom who not only manages the domestic affairs of the Bankses but also consults Philips for his DA campaign and holds strong connections with powerful people.

I am thoroughly impressed how Bel-Air does not falter in its continuity. There are so many scenes that address and make the audience spare a thought. There is a scene where Will is shocked and furious watching Carlton enjoying himself with his White friends despite saying the N-word. Then there are a few of Will’s sittings with any of the Banks that are touching. In the middle of the show, there is an entire episode about Will’s best friend Tray (SteVonté Hart) coming to meet with him in the mansion and overexcited with the belief that Will will return and resume his old life. Then sisters Ashley (Akira Akbar) and Hillary (Coco Jones) exchanging a conversation about the former’s love interest was supportive. Although Ashley at 12 having feelings for the same gender looked very forced and even if Bel-Air wanted to address their position about same-sex interests amongst the teenagers, the writers failed to develop the growth of Ashley’s character.

Then there is a surprise for all the sitcom fans when Vivian (Cassandra Freeman) goes for the interview in the Art Council where the interviewers are none other than Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson, the ladies who played the character of Vivian Banks in the original television show. This scene not only brought three Vivians together but also gives the audience a better vision of understanding the character. Vivian opened her heart while discussing with other Vivians about her life, her importance, and her career choices that looked visually more clever as Vivians of previous existence were all ears listening to the existing Vivian.

Bel-Air holds a strong commitment to the audience especially The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s loyalists as the first season progresses with extraordinary writing that develops a lot of faith that the continuity will have a lot of potential to run in the next season. The viewers who are expecting Bel-Air to be as funny as the predecessor will be upset because the vision of Bel-Air is different. The approach is smart and the execution is bold. I liked the sitcom and I appreciate how the makers of this show came up with the idea to reimagine the story with the very same characters with more realism. Try yourself.

Film Review: Passing (2021)

I swear I never knew the word ‘Passing‘ has a racial meaning and that is unsurprisingly connected to American history. Passing is a term that is used for light-skinned Black Americans who can assimilate into the White majority or in other words, they are accepted or perceived as ‘White’.

This film is based on Nella Larsen‘s 1929 novel ‘Passing‘ about two light-skinned Black American friends who meet each other after a long time in the Harlem neighborhood of New York in the 1920s. Irene (Tessa Thompson) is married to a Black doctor while her friend Clare (Ruth Negga) has passed as ‘White’ and is married to a wealthy white man John (Alexander Skarsgård) who ranks and regards Black people low. Clare rediscovers the truthfulness of life in Irene and tries to gather more with her friend until she ‘pass’ out.

The film is slow-burn but the emotional application is more burning on Clare’s side. The revelation and denial are shocking as it looks disturbing when Clare agrees with John that she is white. Although it is dramatic, the story is executed in the right direction so that the audience gets to feel how difficult it was for a Black to be accepted in a society most of the Whites more than a hundred years ago.

Passing is a technical brilliance with a delicate sense of crafting of the screenplay and direction. The subject was given its piece of thoughtful tribute to that generation who were divided in color concentration. Thompson and Negga were brilliant, especially the latter made us feel heartbroken with her remarkable body language. I am surprised Passing got not a single Oscar nomination. At least Negga deserved the nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Ratings: 7.5/10

Film Review: Three Songs for Benazir (2021)

Three Songs for Benazir is an Afghan-American short documentary film about a very young couple, Shaista and Benazir, who are newly married and soon expecting a child. They all live in a camp for war-torn displaced people in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Shaista dreams of making his family proud by joining the Afghan army and becoming the first in his family to do so. But the elders are scared of Taliban threats and the news of his recruitment will break the hell on them.

I think a much-needed push and gentle storytelling about Afghan’s portrayal of their miseries and jeopardies. Usually, the filmmakers focus on the gallantry of their warriors and rage of the Pashtun warfares that always makes one imagine if the country offers anything else in their thousand years of history than wars and warfares. Do they live a normal life? Yes, they do. And their wars do have consequences. There do are Afghans who become the victims of this political mess.

Shaista’s love for Benazir is out of this world. He sings for her, he passes some pieces of information about technology. But this is the phase where people like Shaista with ambition and admonition of his life decisions are reluctant and despondent. When national and domestic commitments or responsibilities surface together, quick decisions become overhanging with weight. The film being 21-minute short is the reason that the character of Shaista lacks that development and runs swiftly towards the conclusion.

But the productional aesthetics of an Afghan subject in a short format are quite some standard. The camera work over domestic activities is captured well.

Spoken in Pashto and Dari, Three Songs for Benazir is a documentary about family values blended with ambitional sense of honor. The documentary has met its critical acclaim enough to reach the Oscars. The documentary gives its audience a chance to look at conflict-ridden Afghanistan from the other angle.

Ratings: 7/10

Film Review: Sovdagari (2018)

Netflix’s Sovdagari (The Trader) is a Georgian short documentary film about the importance of potatoes amongst the Georgian villagers. This is a 23-minute documentary that presents the living hood of the villagers and their usual consumption of potatoes. This documentary is about the entire process from production and cultivation to selling it to the local consumers who buy in bulk quantity.

What Sovdagari propels you to think is that when a certain geographical location is doomed and its people are hopeless, they find a way to survive whether they like it or not. Here, potato is their currency, their bread and butter. Potato serves their livelihood.

Sovdagari shows old villagers talking about their lives, the farmers arguing about women, a poverty line that is stretched on their faces. I liked the part where a very old woman tries to bargain for buying potatoes and reminds her of old age to him.

The makers have emphasized the troubling times and alarmed the audience of the consequences of the political, social, and economic meltdown that can grow concerns among the people and make them think about how to survive. Whether they should leave the place where they lived all their lives or find an alternative. So many villagers buy potatoes and made me think how much do they consume daily.

The camera work of this show is the heartbeat that convinces the subjectivity of this short documentary in all bounds. The close-ups and some moments where the camera pauses to scrutinize the deep meanings of human moods like an old man smoking and addressing what he wanted from life or a suited child in his swing looking at the camera.

Then there is one thought-provoking scene that I am not sure if it was real or fake but a facially excited child is asked what he wants to become. He is happy but lost for words. His mom suggests responding that he wants to become a journalist. But he still does not utter a single word and keeps thinking for an entire minute. He doesn’t reflect any sign of grievance or annoyance but a lack of self-confidence. He is struggling to construct a dialogue. His mother gives a staunch look at him and then leaves him on his own. That leads to a few theories for the audience whether he doesn’t have a clue what he wants in life at such a tender age or if he never happened to speak to an outsider and communicate freely. Sovdagari stretches the social and domestic dynamics in their miseries.

Trying something new, I found the language quite interesting. Like the title word is Sovdagari that is supremely similar to the word Saudagar (soda-gar) in Persian. By reading the history, I find out that Georgia and Persia had relations for no less than a thousand years. Therefore, they had a cultural exchange in the past. So this may be the reason that the Georgian language may have some Persian words.

Sovdagari is the winner of Best Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival.

Ratings: 6.5/10

Film Review: The House (2022)

Netflix’s The House is an anthology film about three stories centering around the house. Presented in stop-motion animation, the stories reflect on human elements that try to survive or play games on the others to invade your space. And this paves a way for those who want to present their ideas through stop-motion because it is a beautiful art. So far we have usually observed using this medium for humor and entertainment but making things very dark and sensitive like The House has rarely happened. So I appreciate the makers for this.

There is your despairing corner of childhood that is stored somewhere in this film. Some picks of episodic agitation of your loneliness that you watch in one of the stories. A part of privacy that is invaded and irritates you; your complaints and your angst that keep building the nerve but you tolerate until it becomes intolerable. You, somehow, see yourself in at least one of the three stories and compels you to think the ugliness of the greed and the individual negative energy.

The observer can come up with many theories from these stories. The first part was more consortium of brainwashing that resulted in punishment and abandoned the children. I think some magic spell befooled them and their children at a tender age were lost to survive on their own.

The second part was my favorite and I liked the developer’s frustration that built in time after those unexpected guests had no plan to leave at all. The conclusion of the story pressed an unwanted truth that people who are not like you drive you insane and transform you. You become like them. It was a sorry ending but very thoughtful and disturbing.

THE HOUSE. Susan Wokoma as Rosa in THE HOUSE. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021

The third story can be observed from many angles. One was Rosa’s stubbornness and will to survive on her own in the house and believing that she was right to stay in the house after the disaster. Rosa was the only one who was serious to make the money when there was no hope while the other tenants had understood that the house is sinking at any time so live it on your own whatever is left. And then the key factor Cosmos was the one who made Rosa’s survival certain. Do you need to listen to someone who is the least interested to you? Should you let go of your childhood home in a natural disaster situation?

There are anthology films in which the story fails to give any meaning but The House is murky and embezzles your mood and emotions to think what if you are a part of an invasion? What if you have to speak or communicate with people you don’t want to? What if there is no escape?

The House is like a root canal. With the horror elements, this film agonizes your assumptions. The dancing parasites in the film are a marvelous exaggeration of your repeated failure, the thing that needs to leave mocking at you. Watch this remarkable surrealist film.

Ratings: 8.7/10