Tag Archives: TV Review

TV Review: That ’90s Show

STORY

16 years after the events that wrapped in ‘That ’70s Show‘, the house of the Formans in the fictional town of Point Place in Wisconsin becomes lively in the summer of 1995 when Leia Forman arrives to spend time with her grandparents and joins a group of teenagers.


REVIEW

That ’90s Show” is a spin-off of “That ’70s Show” with Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp as the cantankerous Red and super-cheerful Kitty Forman returning as one of television history’s most beloved parents ever.

The aesthetics are the same and the fans of That ’70s Show will be excited to get into the skin of the spin-off so easily. The nostalgia is there and is still vibrant.

Red Forman has gone a little soft by some tiny little percent and is understood as the character goes older. If anyone notices, he begins to hold a stick in the second half of the season.

But Kitty hasn’t aged. Debra Jo Rupp has not aged at all. She is still someone where heart melts for the elders. The Formans are still a joy to watch. I wish Betty White would have returned as Kitty’s mother. She passed away a few months after the announcement of this show.


OLD BATCH

The old batch of young rebels that starred Topher Grace as Eric, Ashton Kutcher as Michael, Mila Kunis as Jackie, Laura Prepon as Donna, Danny Masterson as Steven, and Wilmer Valderamma as Fez, shows up as cameos which was quite understood as they do not have much favor to do in the script.

Maybe it is surprising that the reunion of the group didn’t happen. Perhaps, it is better to keep it for the future when the audience settles well into the second season of the show. Who knows? Maybe Danny Masterson as Steven Hyde makes a cameo in the future and we manage to see a complete reunion only if he gets cleared as Danny is hit with heavy sexual assault allegations that have finished his career to date.

But the rest of the old friends were fun to watch especially Eric Forman. The father-son chemistry just never fades at all.


NEW BATCH

Coming to the new batch of teenage friends. At first, I wasn’t confident about how far will they take the show to convince the audience in a new phase of fashion, music, and humor. Plus, the show is run by Netflix, which began to indicate whether the political messages will ruin the show.

See, the Netflix element is present and it is very obvious that the new batch will never be able to stand as the new favorites as those in the ’70s were. I felt that the makers remade the nostalgia in the new band. The theme, the personifications, and the references were all there. I am okay with it but settling for the new band to act the very way as the older ones lack originality.

Nate and Nikki are the new Michael and Jackie. Ozzie is the new Steven. Jay is the new Fez and I must praise the selection for Jay as Michael and Jackie’s son was so accurate. I thought if the actor is actually the son of Ashton and Mila. And this Kelso is smarter than his father.

And speaking of the Kelsos, Michael and Jackie are remarried. If I am not wrong, Jackie was with Fez in the series finale. I have forgotten if Jackie went back to Michael in the finale or what? Maybe we get to see Jackie and Fez in the future.

Ozzie represents the Queer community and is gay. And I think it was a good idea to address the complicated silence of that group of teenagers in the ’90s living in the US who were overthinking to coming out. And it was never easy for the kids to show their parents and friends who they were. It still is not easy for sure but Ozzie’s character went in the right direction.

Isn’t it that funny Eric and Donna named their daughter Leia? Knowing the fact that Eric is a lifetime lover of Star Wars, naming her Leia looked so naturally funny. They must have added a character of Leia’s brother and named him Luke. Leia is the new Eric, awkward and nerd.


CLOSING REMARKS

If the use of humor in this group looks to fall apart, remember this is a teenage comedy and we are older now. We certainly cannot expect them to build the same ambiance as the oldies did.

It is plain stupid if the audience compares it with the original. But one thing is for sure, in order to run the follow-up in the right direction, the show does not disappoint at all. It is not at all trash. Even if you do not like it, at least you will agree this is a lot better than the last season. “That ’90s Show” is funny and enjoyable and will make the audience wait for the second season.



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TV Review: Wednesday

STORY

Wednesday Addams punishes the boys in the school who bullies her brother Pugsley Addams. As a consequence, she is expelled. The concerned parents admit her to the Nevermore Academy, a school for the monstrous outcasts where they studied but were accused of a crime scene. Incidentally, the event recirculates with Wednesday’s admission when a creature begins to take lives and she uses her psychic instincts to solve the mystery.


ORIGINS

The Addams Family was neither a novel nor did it start as an amination show but the gag cartoons that were published in The New Yorker from 1938 until the 1950s. All the characters were unnamed until the 1964 television show ‘The Addams Family‘.


PRODUCTION

Wednesday hampers a toolbox that was decorated for Tim Burton to utilize when his turn comes to work on the project. The Addams Family and Tim Burton crossed paths but never joined hands which was a sad chapter just like Leo Messi was not lifting the World Cup before it finally happened.

Back in 1991, when Tim Burton was focused on directing Batman Returns, he was approached to work on The Addams Family. He passed on the project due to scheduling conflicts and The Addams Family and its sequel were produced establishing cult status with the audience.

20 years later, Tim Burton was planning to write and direct The Addams Family film, perhaps a reboot, but got canceled due to creative differences with the producers. Then Miles Millar and Alfred Gough acquired the rights, wrote the pilot, and forwarded it to Burton. He became interested and joined them.

It took thirty years for Tim Burton to work and complete a project that looks to me to be the most fitting project he ever happened to work on before. It was a love story that was waiting for its romantic moment to bring the two together.

When the strings are pulled rightly, there is every chance of playing the right notes. Producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough are well known for creating ‘Smallville‘. Tim Burton has the reputation for many excellent Gothic fantasies. And then his decades-old collaboration with the musician Danny Elfman, the musical notes that ideally fit in Tim Burton films.


CASTING

Wednesday. (L to R) Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Adams, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, Issac Ordonez as Pugsley Addams in Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

With Tim Burton on the director chair, I would have loved to see Morticia and Gomez Addams played by Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia and more particularly Luis Guzmán as Gomez were quite interesting choices. I felt that spark was missing between the two which was quite a thing between Raul Julia and Angelica Huston in those two films. But here, Catherine and Luis looked pretty odd together.

Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester was an imposing choice. Christopher Lloyd‘s Uncle Fester was character-driven and someone on whom the story was centered around. In a quite different setting, this Uncle Fester was more jolly and exciting. I want to see more appearances in the next season. It was a pleasure to watch Christina Ricci in the show who was Wednesday Addams in the films.

My kudos to whoever decided to give the titular role to Jenna Ortega. This has to be the best-ever casting of Wednesday Addams to date. Let me tell you how I think that Jenna did this role better than Christina.

Christina’s Wednesday lacked the body language of a melancholic personality that defines Wednesday. Plus, the writing of her character in the film didn’t guarantee any growth. Wednesday being the center stage of the plot and a tv series of eight episodes at stretch, Jenna had enough time to grow as Wednesday and answer all our questions that were related to her character that was visibly missing in the films.


WHY WEDNESDAY? WHY NOT ADDAMS FAMILY?

I will continue my point about Jenna’s Wednesday because this leads to a whole new level of storytelling. The films heavily focused on couples as well as Uncle Fester but not children. When my generation watched these films back in the 1990s, we had this feeling about the girl that her side of the story didn’t make rounds and that had a lot of potential to grow due to her sadistic personality. I felt the writers of the films missed the chance.

But this chance was smartly grabbed by Millar and Gough with the creme of the plot centralizing the hows and whys of Wednesday’s character. And this is why her parents were almost out of the frame.

The makers installed the character of Enid Sinclair who struggles to befriend Wednesday and there develops a strange bond between a cheerful roommate and a morosely black soul. The makers also built a rigid mother-daughter relationship. The screenwriting of the show also restricted the fan-favorite Uncle Fester’s character to a very brief appearance. Convincing the audience to stick with Wednesday without Fester is a win.


DANCE

Of course, I have to mention that iconic dance in my assessment. A dance that was actually shot with Goo Goo Muck by the gothic rock legends ‘The Cramps‘ playing in the background but the TikTokers perfectly remixed the dance video with Lady Gaga‘s Bloody Mary and is now called a TikTok Remix of Wednesday Dance. Jenna choreographed the dance herself and the most astonishing fact about the dance is that the dance steps pulled the right strings of Wednesday Addam’s cold-blooded personality. The dance visibly reflected her oddness.

In one of her tweets, Jenna confirmed that gothic rock legends Siouxie Sioux and Lene Lovich, actor Denis Lavant, first Wednesday actress Lisa Loring, and the dance number from Sweet Charity called The Rich Man’s Frug by Bob Fosse were the inspirations behind this dance.


CLOSING REMARKS

I felt that the finale lost control of the pace and hurriedly strove to a conclusion. But in any case, there is a lot to happen in the future seasons. I really want to watch Grandmama and Cousin Itt.

I have read that Wednesday and Enid may develop a romance in the next season. This is totally out of a syllabus stunt. A girl like Wednesday who lacks emotions and has zero-match with the completely opposite Enid, goes 360 and they become lovers, is not so Wednesday we know of.

Whatever happened to something called friendship? Why cannot the writers try to bring both of them in a bond where they find common grounds to somehow live through. Befriending has been a struggle so far so better to focus on friendship.

Wednesday is highly recommended to the fans of Goth culture and The Addams Family. The films and this show cannot be compared at all. They have different vibes and aesthetics on which different stories have been presented to us.

Wednesday has a lot of adventures or misadventures to excite us. I hope to see a Stranger Things kind of excellent follow-up of the show.



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TV Review: They Call Me Magic

Produced by Apple TV+, ‘They Call Me Magic‘ is a four-part documentary about one of basketball’s greatest legends, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. One of the most exciting stories on and off the basketball court, the show covers almost everything Magic stands for; his childhood, his family, and his relationships. The show also highlights a much-needed detailing about the making of his legacy in college basketball. This was very necessary due to his being arguably the greatest college basketball player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.

The documentary features interviews of Magic, his wife, family, coaches, teammates, and his rivals. Speaking of rivals, I am glad Larry Bird was also part of this documentary and he had his own narrative about their rivalry and games. But Larry’s contribution to Magic’s documentary is an acknowledgment that one of the greatest sports rivalries that encompassed in the 1980s developed a respect for each other.

The icing on the cake is when the show also features Michael Jordan. You know it is a huge ask when the greatest basketball player of all time shows up in a documentary of another basketball legend. Although, there are other legends to talk about Magic like Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Michael is a different picture. And Michael Jordan already had a blast talking about his dynasty exactly two years ago. So this means a lot. And why not? Before the Bulls dynasty began, it was Magic’s Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s that dominated. This is like MJ passes the torch of the dynasty to MJ, especially in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Besides his basketball career, there is quite an insider about a complex love story of Magic and his wife Cookie. The story has been stretched to, I feel, more than the screen length could have demanded. I felt Magic’s post-basketball career deserved more minutes than the affair. There was really a tremendous contribution he made as an investor when he started an investment company, Magic Johnson Enterprises.

One thing I would like to address about this documentary to the readers and the audience is not to compare it with HBO‘s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty due to many reasons. One, ‘Winning Time’ is about the entire Lakers dynasty while ‘They Call Me Magic’ is only about Magic. Two, the former is a television drama that is inspired by Jeff Pearlman‘s book, ‘Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s‘ while the latter features the players giving their input through interviews. The former is scripted and fictionalized for a dramatic touch to attract the audience while the latter doesn’t compromise on authenticity as the real people show up describing their stories and incidents.

Nothing to take away from ‘Winning Time’, I loved that show as a drama that came into existence through any network that was based on basketball but the tone of entertaining the audience shall be limited to enjoying the Lakers’ glory rather than digging facts about its being real or fictional. I wished that ‘Winning Time’ would have been 100% accurate but it is okay because now we have another source on the television format, and that is ‘They Call Me Magic’.

In my opinion, the biggest plus of watching this documentary is not only to understand the ‘magic’ he spelled that started a dynasty but more than that, the show heavily convinces the audience that it was Magic Johnson who stepped NBA up financially. Before him, NBA’s fame and state were different from each other. The fame was there but the state was economically awful. The television ratings were declining, and the spectators were diminishing. The shocking fact about NBA before the 1980s is that the show was not popular enough to be on prime time. One of the major reasons was too much violence and the NBA was considered too black to be termed as drug-infested. The racial standards were poor. So Magic’s arrival changed the fate and face of the NBA who established himself as a superstar in college basketball. His popularity gradually increased and became the most talking point when his becoming a pro was on the cards.

Therefore, ‘They Call Me Magic’ is a celebration and an honest tribute to a wonderful career.


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TV Review: Mare of Easttown

Detective sergeant Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) is a well-known heroic figure in her neighborhood of Easttown, a small town in Chester County of Pennsylvania. But she has faced a trembling year in quest of a missing girl that has raised many eyebrows over her detective skills. Also, she suffers the worst possible personal crisis due to a divorce, a custody battle, and a son lost in suicide. And during all this, the cops find a body in the forest park one morning. She is Erin (Cailee Spaeny), a teenage mother, who was fighting a custody battle for her kid with her ex-boyfriend.

Looking at this magnificent miniseries and the continuity of the plot, I am surprised that Mare Of Easttown is neither adapted from a novel nor is based on a true incident. In fact, I am impressed by the quality of production that they came up with such a presentation that makes the audience believe that this may all be true. But to some extent, Mare of Easttown is somehow the story of everyday people which is why it makes you believe in the bullet detailing of the screenplay. It gives you a real feeling the way the whole show is dramatized like a cop who is sensitive to blood, an old man confessing an affair at his wife’s funeral, a priest alleged for raping a minor, a mentally disabled girl bullied in the school, the old couple who tries to figure how to set up a security camera, and many more.

ERIN McMENAMIN

The character of Erin in the first episode is the most fitting epitome of bad social treatment. I have watched so many television characters develop well but have taken time to grow with more than one episode. But Erin whose character lived for just one episode has to be the fastest growth-developing character in recent years. It was phenomenal writing about a character that screamed louder the more she gets unsettled. Facing the hardship of becoming a mother as a teenager, she suffered rigidity from her father and her ex-boyfriend who should have emotionally backed her instead of being unsupportive. How heartbreaking it was to see Erin get beaten in the park and the ex-boyfriend doing nothing but watching and enjoying it.

All the major characters in Easttown are affected by Erin’s murder. They are socially distressed and contribute to the plot which is another impressive point of the drama.

MARE SHEEHAN

There have been many detective stories with the central character in the uniform always portrayed to suffer due to his/her line of work and in person. So there is nothing new about Mare but the reason why Mare’s typical character is picked and praised highly over others in recent times is because of touching the deepest aspects of her life very rightly, addressing her miseries peculiarly, giving enough screen length to suffocate between her roles as a mother of a dead son, ex-wife in a troubled marriage, irresolute to her line of work, and doubtful heroism that has faded since no trace of a missing child in an unsolved crime case. Mare is hanging loosely on the walls of many parallels with no success and optimism.

And the most impressive factor of all – Kate Winslet. How much do you have to influence a character to your body that the audience traces no sign of the actor’s stunning performance but feels the pain of Mare Sheehan? I am lost at how Meryl Streep a performance can be. This has to be Kate’s best performance since ‘The Reader‘. There was everything about the role, her body language, the Delco accent of the Phillys, the facial translation of emotional distress, rage, frustration, and God knows what else. The only scene in the entire series she laughed was so natural and visibly showed to the audience that her guffaw came out after all the bad things happening to that lady and was so necessary.

Unnecessary Developments

Yes, there are elements that looked pretty forced and time-consuming. Mare’s daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice) had unnecessary sequences for her relationship with the radio jockey that had nothing to do with either plot or sub-plot. It clearly looked like this segment was dramatized to keep the LGBTQ+ community happy. The second is Mare’s love interest Richard Ryan, a writer and professor played by Guy Pearce. This character had absolutely no importance to the story and wasted quite heavy minutes in the development. In the beginning, I assumed that Richard’s character will be later linked to Erin’s murder somehow but he had no connection at all and was generally there for Mare. Giving so many minutes to his presence made no sense. The only theory that makes Richard in the story applicable is that his existence gave Mare’s unhappy life an opportunity to find positivity. She badly needed counseling so he was there. The same error in Detective Colin’s character, played by Evan Peters, who was brought to assist Mare in the crime case. First, he was awkward and I have never understood why the assistant or vice to a detective or a cop has to be a little dumb or less confident. And then, out of nowhere, Colin falls in love with Mare. Why would you do that?

But yes, the makers of the show deserve special praise for funny sequences that occurred in such a dark drama out of nowhere. Not a single time did the comedy look forced and fitted so well. Mare’s mother Helen was a source of bringing excitement many times.

CLOSING REMARKS

Mare Of Easttown is another masterpiece that propels me to advise the television audience to prefer HBO over any network if they are willing to try a miniseries. HBO looks like a dominant force for limited writing and has impressed with many quality contents in recent years like Watchmen, Chernobyl, The Night Of, and a few more. The winner of 4 Emmies, the show deserves every credit for being one of the best suspense and detective thrillers in recent years.


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TV Review: The Sandman

STORY

To those who are new to this Sandman world, the one fact you need to understand about this drama and comic book story of The Sandman is that the story is about a dysfunctional family called ‘The Endless‘. And they are seven siblings in different forms. And they are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, and Dream.

‘The Sandman’ centrally focuses on Lord Morpheus, the ruler of Dreaming and the king of dreams. One day, he is captured by the occultist Roderick Burgress and is imprisoned for more than a hundred years until he gets a chance to escape and return. But when he returns to Dreaming, he witnesses it in a terrible state. Along with his only remaining loyalist and librarian Lucienne, Morpheus travels to different worlds and timelines to restore order to his kingdom, clean the mess and fix the chaos that occurred in his long absence.


PRODUCTION

After decades of pulling attempts to come up with a perfect project to execute for either film or television for one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, Netflix eventually succeeds in shaping the best possible adaptation the global audience would have ever demanded. The show has its flaws but the most important valuation to observe is the graphic detailing and writing of one of the most complex comic book stories.

The show is handled with care by some influential writers of the film and comics. Allan Heinberg is well-known for Young Avengers and JLA series while David S. Goyer is widely acclaimed for writing the Blade and Dark Knight trilogies and co. writing Call of Duty video games. The main showrunner is Neil Gaiman, the writer, and creator of The Sandman. So when the God of this universe is running this show, then there is neither a question nor disapproval about dramatizing his creation.

I am usually against taking liberty from the major elements of the original writing that includes the fundamentals of the characters. But at the same time if the author or the creator doesn’t object or holds the creative control of the film or tv show based on his/her own writing, then even if I find the changes to be in the wrong direction, I find no reason to object because the creator himself/herself is the control head and approves the developments.


PLUSSES

There were many reasons that established the theory or a prediction that ‘The Sandman’ will be praised and accepted once it is released on Netflix. One reason is that the original work has a massive following. Then, as mentioned above, Neil Gaiman himself is the showrunner so whoever the director he chooses to execute their writings, he knows the job is done with satisfaction.

Another plus is the extraordinary production budget that is quite understood after the viewers have enjoyed the luxury of watching some stunning visuals. And then the casting is excellent. Tom Sturridge as Dream and Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian are examples of accurate picks. Even for supporting but important roles, very well-known actors like Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Souad Faress, Nina Wadia, Gwendoline Christie, Meera Syal, and Jenna Coleman make rounds in a few episodes. If that wasn’t enough, we heard memorable voices of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead too.

The continuity of the screenplay is intrigued with a thoughtful and metaphorical portion of understanding some dark elements of life. The episode with Dream’s sister Death is very touching and upsetting but is also my favorite of the show. A kind of perception in which a human is made aware of his/her death by the angel that begins with contacting them and communicating. The whole process is so well dramatized.

This is followed by Dream reminiscing about his centuries-old friendship with Hob Gadling when he grants a customer’s will to live forever back in the 14th century and keeps meeting him once every hundred years in the same bar. This idea touched me and began to question myself, what if time travel was ever true? What if all of us could travel to any timeline, meet random people, speak to them in different centuries, just like that. Those who are deeply concerned about dreams like me will agree to me that dreamers deserve to have a companion or a truly loyal friend in his/her dream. Such an idea can only exist in dreams and Lord Morpheus, the king of dreams, is the key to all this stretch.

Then there is Doctor Destiny‘s dystopian take on the human race circulating their lives around truths and lies that he tests at a diner. That whole episode is superbly stretched to make his point.


MINUSES

A few portions of writing and aesthetics are not to my satisfaction. Netflix with its cult application of political correctness makes the entire dramatizing of the original writing an agenda to moralize forced inclusivity. Although the creator Neil Gaiman has no objection at all, but this is not the first time at all. The direction clearly indicates making many characters homosexual has a purpose. I am not against this form of diversity, I support it, but there should be a method of addressing it through the story instead of dramatizing it like a protest.

Amongst all the characters, the one actor that I am not convinced of selection is Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Because she looked more angelic than the devil in the role. If the showrunners were adamant to go for a female Lucifer then they should have picked an actress with a lot darker persona. A female Lucifer had to be someone with more devil or gothic vibes. Any of Eva Green, Krysten Ritter, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter would have made superb Lucifer.


COMIC ADAPTATION

This is actually another ‘PLUS’ element but I want to address it separately due to a broad detailing a comic geek can speak and emphasize. We comic book readers generally have been raising this matter for a couple of decades that a television show or a film usually doesn’t do justice while translating the comic pages into this medium.

Because it is hard to deliver the same impact to the viewers that the readers had when they read that all. And it is admirable to observe how ‘The Sandman’ successfully developed a lot of moments from the graphic issues. And at some scenes, even the whole dialogue of a few particular scenes is delivered in the same way.

I wonder how every Sandman reader would have reacted when Death showed up to Dream followed by a conversation when they were sitting together.

Or when John Dee was thanked.

In a very interesting sequence, imprisoned former queen of the First People, Nada briefly appears whose eyes catch Dream’s figure passing from her prison and calls him Kai’ckul. The whole scene is pictured in the comics and will definitely proceed in the second season as showrunner Allen Heinberg has confirmed to one of the sources.

The terrible state of the Dreaming after Lord Morpheus returns is all accurately depicted.

Desire’s tall naked statue Threshold, the fortress of Desire is taken from the beginning of the second volume, The Doll’s House.

Dream’s centuries-old friendship with Hobb Gadling was well translated from the pages. The entire table-talk of centuries constitutes from issue#13.

The whole 24-hour diner episode happened in issue#6 called 24 Hours which is considered one of the darkest and the most horrific tales in comics history.

The whole Dream vs Lucifer challenge is well dramatized. In fact, comics had a lengthier challenge if I am not mistaken.

Dream’s meeting with ‘The Three‘ had a darker portrayal than comics.

Dream and Corinthian face-off exactly happened in the convention just like issue#14.

Even Corinthian stabbing Dream’s palm was covered.

Gilbert getting scared of Corinthian was different in the show. He actually lost his stature when Corinthian joins him in the elevator.


CLOSING REMARKS

There is so much to talk about ‘The Sandman’. But I hope the quality that the showrunners have settled the story in and the aesthetics that has mesmerized us audience shall be maintained for the future.

I am hoping that the show must be stretched to at least five seasons to cover all the aspects and elements of the writing. The Sandman is the best adapted comic book-based television show that I have watched. I recommend all the viewers who loved the show, to read the original content.

The Sandman is a 75-issue storyline that was written in seven years. This was followed by many spin-offs and Neil Gaiman wrote a few of them. But ‘Overture‘ and ‘The Dream Hunters‘ are those that must be read. Especially, Overture because it is the prequel of the entire Sandman story.

To those, who are very interested to watch a fantasy drama, The Sandman is currently the best I can think of to recommend.


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TV Review: Modern Love Mumbai (2022)

Modern Love Mumbai is the Indian version of the Amazon Original anthology series, ‘Modern Love‘. MLM follows the same aesthetics as the original work. Set in Mumbai, each of the six episodes present different love stories expressing freedom and questioning the boundary to reach the human desire.

Modern Love was set in New York and all the stories were based on the essays published in The New York Times under the same title. So I am not sure if MLM also followed this route. But each of the stories has its significance and has the essence of the plot’s simplicity to sensualize. These stories are very close to life and most of the audience can relate.

Three of the six stories are about married women thoroughly divided in ages. One is as young as their twenties, the second is in her forties, and the third is in her late fifties or mid-sixties. One is about homosexuals, and another is about a young woman searching for the ideal man through a dating app. And there is one particular for the Northeast Indian mother-son story who is in the conflict of getting or not getting mixed in multiculturalism. So this indicates that MLM was written and developed with care.

I liked the panel of directors who worked on their part of the stories. Shonali Bose returned to the director’s seat for Raat Rani years after ‘The Sky Is Pink‘. Raat Rani is about A girl from Dal Lake, Lali, who marries a Mumbaikar, a security guard Lutfi and arrives in Mumbai but her life is dull until Lutfi is transferred to the other station leaving his bicycle behind for her.

Hansal Mehta directed a controversial episode ‘Baai‘ about homosexuality. Hansal previously directed ‘Aligarh‘ with the same subject. This is about Manzar Ali who belongs to a conservative Muslim household but is interested in men but is not able to tell his ailing grandmother Baai.

Another veteran director Vishal Bhardwaj did the Northeastern family drama ‘Mumbai Dragon‘ where the mother faces difficulty in accepting her son with his girlfriend who doesn’t belong to her ethnicity.

Alankrita Srivastava did ‘My Beautiful Wrinkles‘ about an old widow Dilbar who takes interest in a young athlete Kunal, a plot that is similar to one of the four stories in her ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha‘. Alankritas direction is like a wave for the liberalism of womanhood where she develops bold intentions in the plot and addresses them in a peculiar way. Alankrita shows the loneliness of Dilbar that absorbs and the passion and hunger in women in general for more adequate lust melts young men to daydream and draw their nudity in their honest illustration. Sticking with the old memories may lessen your optimism. Confessing private intentions is courageous but healthy for releasing the negative energy she had in life.

Super excited to see Little Things-famed Dhruv Sehgal who directed one of the episodes ‘I Love Thane‘ about Saiba who is seeking her ideal through a dating app but gives a shot at Parth to whom she finds out through work this time.

Nupur Asthana did the last episode ‘Cutting Chai‘ about a married woman Latika in her forties thinking about her life decisions, about becoming a wife, and a mother but not a novelist, something that was her ambition.

It is the beauty of small portions in the screenplay that gives you the feel about how these things matter in life, the human connection is strong in the drama. Like in Cutting Chai, Latika begins to regret her life decisions and imagine people around her agreeing and disagreeing with her. That is indicating how careful a young man or woman was when he/she was young and had to listen to society about what he/she should have decided and what not. In Raat Rani, Lali is about to throw her husband’s old bicycle from the flyover until she thinks about utilizing it by learning to ride it and earn bread through it.

Modern Love Mumbai is the positive energy that addresses optimism and encourages us to move on or give it a chance. Although, any tv or film product can have similar elements, but the beauty of MLM stories is that the plot inclines towards a push that is needed to make the audience think. The continuity of each episode never looks pressing too hard at all.

I enjoyed when Dilbar gives a try to fantasize about young athlete Kunal in the fourth story or Manzar meets Rajveer after his fondness for the previous boy matters into heartbreak in the second episode. Same case with Saiba who gives a shot at Parth by breaking her norm to find men from the dating app. That explained a lot. Therefore, the audience gets to learn or realize a few things in life if not all by watching Modern Love Mumbai.

I don’t remember if I ever happened to see Naseeruddin Shah playing a Sikh character, that is another accomplishment in his celebrated career I reckon. Good to see Sarika after a long time, she deserves to get more recognition. Pratik Gandhi is quite an actor who has the ability to play different roles. From a rich Gujarati stockbroker to a Muslim homosexual from a conservative household, Pratik really has made a distinction in his choices. For me, from all the stories, the one actor amongst all who is the winner is Fatima Sana Shaikh in the first episode. The accent, the body language, the emotional breakdown, everything was there. She nailed her character. It was a delight to see such a quality performance.

MLM has impressive writing and direction as well as quality performances due to good choices about casting in the stories. Ram Sampath‘s music score is very touching and full of life. Modern Love’s creator John Carney was involved in financing MLM so that is also why the tone was maintained and none of the makers Bollyfied with curry aesthetics.

There is every capacity to go for more than one season. Because MLM is all about some quality essays to write about and stories to speak about. Stories will never die, and love won’t compromise. There is much human connection still to work on through different mediums. So MLM must go on.

Film Review: Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)

THE AGING CRAWLEYS

In 1928, the Crawleys meet with two unexpected events knocking at their door. One is an opportunity to boost their finance when a film production company requests to use their estate for a silent film. Two, Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, astounds the family when she reveals that she inherits a villa in France that was given to her by the recently deceased Marquis de Montmirail. To unveil the mystery, Robert and Cora travel to France and hand over the headship to Lady Mary to look after the estate and host the film crew.

Twelve years of legacy of this British cult Downton Abbey that all started as a television drama on ITV back in 2010 and followed by the first feature film in 2019 has kept its loyal fans like me occupied on our chairs and enjoying the beautiful artistry of their aristocracy. One aspect that was maintained throughout their presentation is that the show remained persistent in facing not only emotional but economic and political challenges. Just like the television drama and the first film, Downton Abbey: The New Era emphasized the changing times testing the old and traditional family.


LADY VIOLET’S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

There is a chance that the Downton Abbey-loving audience may get less motivated towards the plot of this film because both the events challenged in this film to the Crawleys may be assumed quite dramatic because these things neither occurred nor hinted at the future. The fan-favorite character of Lady Violet was assumed to die due to old age but the news she broke to the family after watching this drama for twelve years looked like a pretty forced attempt of writing in order to conclude this character. So revealing the news of her French inheritance is eyebrow-raising for me.

Why? If I assess this matter, perhaps will stretch at length but in short, the Crawleys, in the middle of the story met a severe financial crisis to the extent that they decided to cut the working staff. If the dowager knew about her inheritance for a long time, why didn’t she help out Robert when needed. If she came to know in this film in 1928, that’s the other thing.

But the death of Lady Violet’s character is a wise idea because I am not sure if Downton Abbey will continue to the third film although the story has the potential to continue to represent the Crawleys until the second World War if not the whole century. But it is the richness of Julian Fellowes‘ writing that I am concerned about, who is 72 already. How long can he continue storytelling us? What if he breathes his last during the continuity of Downton Abbey? I cannot imagine someone replacing his writing in the middle. After all, this Downton Abbey is his creation and needs to conclude one day. The same applies to Maggie Smith who is 87 at the time of writing this review. Therefore, killing the old character of the dowager was the right decision.


WAS FILM SHOOTING IN THE PLOT THE RIGHT IDEA?

This Downton Abbey film was particular to highlight this silent film industry business that reached the estate of the Crawleys. Shan’t film shooting be avoided and continued with a different plot? Here, there are two methods of judging this film. One is that the film didn’t need to show filmmaking and proceed with the familiar character developments. The audience may think that Julian Fellowes could have escaped the idea of shooting a film inside the estate for the sake of decent humor. Or the film definitely needed to show the change which was either acceptable or not to the old-age aristocratic family who has been facing economic, political, and social challenges. I support the latter.

Why? Because just like the Crawleys faced different events between 1912 and 1926, the art of filmmaking in the very same period was also meeting a change in the direction of the British winds. Many viewers may have not observed the sequence of shooting a silent film turning into sound after Lady Mary pinches the idea to the director that much of this is largely inspired by the making of Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1929 film ‘Blackmail‘ which is the first sound film in British filmmaking history. Blackmail was supposed to be a silent film but the producer let Hitchcock make some portions of the film in sound. But Hitchcock decided to make the entire film talkie. Just like depicted in Downton Abbey, Blackmail had a leading actress with a weak English accent and was dubbed by someone else. Moreover, Downton Abbey’s executive producer Gareth Neame is the grandson of Ronald Neame and was the assistant cameraman for ‘Blackmail’ before he established a prominent name in the film industry.


CLOSING REMARKS

Should Downton Abbey continue from here? I would love to see Julian Fellowes writing more about the Crawleys until the end of the Second World War if he guarantees that the aesthetics and quality will not compromise at all. Overall, Julian Fellowes offers another masterpiece presentation of the Crawleys with the visible ‘New Era’ elements. The loyalists of this drama will understand the film and praise it highly.

RATINGS: 8.2/10


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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.


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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: Pam & Tommy

Superstar couples Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) get married and tape very private recordings on their camera. After Tommy refuses to pay the money to the carpenter Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen), he steals his case where he finds the tape that turns many fortunes and fates.

The experience of watching Pam & Tommy was like watching the American Crime Story. There is no surprise that the show was to attract a lot of audience due to a compelling story but more than that it is the makeup and hairstyling and powerful performances by Lily, Sebastian, and Seth that alarmed the enthusiasm. James Franco was supposed to play Tommy before Sebastian signed.

Lily James has to be a well-observed casting in recent times for a television show whose four-month high-tech gym sessions, incredible make-up, and hyper-realistic prosthetics for large breasts made her the most perfect choice to portray the Baywatch blonde girl.

One major issue this show is successful to address is the consequences of leaking private videos. In the era of the mid-1990s when the internet was a global sensation. Pamela Anderson’s leaked tape was one of the biggest headlines that brought incredible traffic on the internet. During the whole situation, Pamela is the one who went mentally disturbed because this was neither pornographic content nor was there consent from their side to put on the internet and make millions of dollars of business. None of Pam and Tommy signed a release to reach that far. And that difference is remarkably recognized.

Another significant factor that made the writing of the show critically on point was the gender value of the leaked tape. Tommy was less affected than Pam and Tommy couldn’t understand how it was different for her than him when both were in the video. Despite being the most iconic figure of sex-symbol of the 1990s, Pam had her feminine side to be concerned of and it was highly sensitive. After all, she was a model but not an actress from the adult film industry. And this is why the supporting role of Taylor Schilling as adult actress Erica carried a lot of weight.

The show also highlighted Pam’s association with both Playboy and Penthouse, and the business role Seth Warshavsky of Internet Entertainment Group played in all this saga.

Based on the 2014 Rolling Stone article “Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape” by Amanda Chicago Lewis, the show holds a lot of accuracy about the details like Rand being on Tommy’s gunpoint, the heist, Tommy speaking to his own penis, Pam and Tommy’s first meeting with the lick and their wedding, Seth’s proposal to the couple, etc.

Pam & Tommy’s biggest win is giving the real feel of humiliation, the media adding insult to the emotional damage, and showing the audience how the introduction of the website took the internet users in those times by storm. Makeup, hairstyling, and costume design make this show even better. There must be an Emmy winner between Lily, Sebastian, and Seth.