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TV Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife is the new HBO romantic miniseries about Henry who has the unusual ability to time travel and meets Clare of different ages. With time, Henry’s tolerance of the power begins to irritate and Clare faces difficulties to manage him.

I neither happened to read Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel nor did I watch Eric Bana/Rachel McAdams starred film with the same title. The popularity of this HBO show was making rounds so I thought to check the trailer and found this strange plot pretty riveting.

A bigger impression about the show is that Steven Moffat has written and created it and one of the best TV directors, David Nutter, has directed all six episodes.

I found the first half compelling but the second half looked off. Perhaps the crafting of the plot was limited enough to stretch and lead it somewhere. Maybe I am wrong to judge that because the novel itself is around 550 pages. But to my thinking capacity, the story was neither progressing nor jumping to a conclusion. Henry kept traveling time and got naked which began to bore me as this plot was not engaging towards opening some other chapters or mysteries.

The nature of this plot is unsurprisingly very sexual and I think HBO was pretty sober for not crossing this line which I feel was important.

The biggest plus of the show is the onscreen chemistry of Theo James as Henry and Rose Leslie as Clare. They were committed to melting our emotions. Their meetings, their fights, and their romantic fluctuations were beautifully picturized. I am not going to declare that the show was disappointing, not at all. It was interesting, the show had its moments where the audience can burn in the sequences like the second episode about the fate of Henry’s mother.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
Theo James, Rose Leslie
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO

Such romantic time-traveling may have its breaking points but I believe Moffat-Nutter could have pressed this art more critically and showed us what else could Henry and Clare have possibly done in that limited space before Henry starts coughing.

Personally, I loved this show but on the scale of judgment, I’ll say the show with this plot could have been a lot better.

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.

TV Review: The Tower

Sergeant Collins (Gemma Whelan) and constable Bradshaw (Jimmy Akingbola) are immediately called to reach the southeast of London where a veteran constable and a teenage girl have died by falling from a tower. When Collins reaches the roof of the building, she finds a young rookie officer Lizzie Adama (Tahirah Sharif), and a five-year-old boy alive. When the investigation begins, Lizzie disappears and the crime investigation gets intense when Collins discovers that Lizzie is a prime witness against a gangster.

The Tower is a limited series by ITV that presents just another British excellence in the portrayal of crime investigations. The show’s plot twists and the complexity of the characters are interesting but the suspense is flat. It is quite easy to guess what exactly would have happened on the roof.

What I liked the most about the show was how one crime case connects to the other. The show is too smart to make the audience understand that there are elements of racism in the police and sometimes, the deception jeopardizes their lives. The best case was PC Hadley who looked like a decent fellow for most of the time until there was proof that he did pass racist remarks. The audience is compelled to believe that Hadley could have never been at fault.

I think The Tower also accomplishes in stretching the matter of the witness being silent due to the trauma or the threat. The more the show expands Lizzie Adama’s character, the depth of silence becomes noisier with the flashbacks and her meetings with Shaw.

Gemma Whelan as DS Collins deserves praise for quite an impressive performance. I like how Collins is written in the show that looked like some sad cop running from some personal tragedy and also striving to solve a crime at the same time.

The way the show has ended, there is an indication that the show is just warming up. Because this show is based on the book ‘Post Mortem‘ which was the first in Kate London‘s trilogy book series. If that is so, I am eager to see how the screenwriting does justice in the continuity of an excellent police crime drama.

TV Review: The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age is a significant period in American history that began in the 1870s and lasted until the 1890s. This period is considered the golden age of industrialization and rapid growth in the American economy. This era witnessed the birth of many business giants, important inventions, and the rise of many wealthiest families. This was also the period of the shifting of wealthy generations where the old and new families were struggling to join the rank of elites and high societies. Julian Fellowes‘ latest creation is based on that struggle.

The HBO drama focuses on two rich families. The old money van Rhijn-Brook family and the new money Russell family. The latter is inspired by the real-life Vanderbilts who once were the-then wealthiest family in the United States. A sense of rivalry exists when the race of joining the elite ignites within the society and during all this hullabaloo, young Marian Brook became a lively figure between the two families when she moves from Pennsylvania to New York to live with her estranged aunts.

As true to the aristocratic nature and Julian Fellowes accurately admitting, The Gilded Age is the American Downton Abbey or shall I say, the American answer to Downton Abbey that was also created by Fellowes. Not sure if I must suggest that the dramas written by Fellowes are for rich people but there is no harm in developing an interest in dramas about the noble or upper-class lifestyle that proudly displays a fine exhibition of the aristocracy.

The show has taken good care of small accuracies and being a period drama, the costume and the production design are just marvelous. There is a scene, I think in the pilot or the second episode when the party host announces that she will organize a card game of Cinch. I found the name interesting so I googled it and I discovered that Cinch, which is also known as High Five, was the game that developed in Denver, Colorado in the same timeline where this drama is shot.

Downton Abbey fans are in for a treat as the music score, powerful dialogues and direction reminds you of the Downton Abbey show. Not only that, many characters of The Gilded Age will make the audience recall some Downton Abbey characters. The biggest one is Lady Agnes van Rhijn whose quick-witted one-liners will make you remember Lady Violet in Downton Abbey. Then there is Mr. Bannister, the butler who holds the same commands as Mr. Carson. The young chemistry of Jack and Bridget in the servant class is similar to Daisy and Alfred in Downton Abbey.

But one aspect where The Gilded Age edges over Downton Abbey is the representation of the Blacks. Downton Abbey have extremely shorter and limited roles but The Gilded Age has quite a take on the lives of African Americans. And their representation is the most different from most of the shows that are doing a favor to diversity. The show is giving its audience a sharp look at the certain existence of ‘elite’ African Americans which is quite disappearing from the script pages when we watch a historical drama where the Black Americans are mostly portrayed as slaves. One guarantee of trusting the Black representation is accurate is hiring Erica Armstrong Dunbar who is a Rutgers University history professor who specializes in Black American women of the 18th and 19th centuries, as a historical consultant.

The audience must also remember that this show is taking place in New York in 1882 which is around 17 years after Lincoln‘s historic Emancipation Proclamation, the ratification of the US constitution’s 13th Amendment that abolished slavery. So yes, the presentation is accurate, and more than that, the show still threw the shades of racial segregation and portrayed them as some second-grade citizens. Because this was still a fresh struggle for recognition.

Lady Agnes’ son Oscar is shown as bisexual and the flow of the characterization clearly proved that making him bisexual looked terribly forced. His being in relation to John has nothing to do with the story but just wanted the audience to recognize that LGBTQ+ existed in those times. And forced portrayals have this very problem in the films and tv shows that the writing and the direction of such chemistries do not come up with some genuine addressing.

Many of the cast have given fair performances but I will pick both the leading ladies Christine Baranski and Carrie Coon as Lady Agnes and Bertha Russell who gave top performances. Stage actress Louisa Jacobson, Meryl Streep‘s daughter, was first-rate and will take time to learn a lot since this is the beginning of her career. She made a television debut in such a bigger project.

Just like Downton Abbey, the show will be covering a lot of historical events and present portrayals of famous American people like the first season managed to do on a few occasions. For example, Linda Emond as Clara Barton who was the founder of the American Red Cross, and Ashlie Atkinson as Mamie Fish who was a lavish party-throwing socialite. There is a scene where Thomas Edison lights up the New York Times building, a historic moment in New York city’s history that is a real incident with few
changes for the dramatic effect. It was a mesmerizing shot to end one of the episodes and give the real incident its due respect to define the best moments of the Gilded Age.

The Gilded Age is a spectacular portrayal of elite American history. Those who are enthusiastic about period dramas will surely love watching this. I am believing that The Gilded Age is definitely increasing its fanbase, especially amongst the Downton Abbey loyalists. The story has a lot of potential to stretch the drama to at least five seasons.

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.