We take a look at the first few episodes of seasons two of both Netflix’s The Punisher as well as CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery!
Jim and A.Ron have explored the latest Black Mirror mindf$#%, Bandersnatch. Essentially a choose your own adventure book turned into an interactive Netflix app, Bandersnatch periodically pauses to ask you how the narrative should proceed as you attempt to guide a troubled young 1980’s programmer on the cusp of creating an acclaimed video game of the same name. With branching parallel storylines that can have outcomes that can be mundane, psychotic, or extremely meta, we ask if this is the future of television? We stay spoiler-free for a good portion of the beginning of this podcast, so if you’re curious if it’s worth your time feel free to listen up to the spoiler segment!
Amazon Prime’s The Romanoffs arrives at the finish line in “The One That Holds Everything”. If you were hoping that this would be the one that really brings into focus Weiner’s thesis for The Romanoffs, you’re probably walking away disappointed. An ambitious story framing device that doesn’t quite work leads to a surprise ending that doesn’t feel earned, and we’re still left at the end of it all confused and asking “why?” What is so fascinating about the Romanovs and their lives of various levels of privledge and quiet desperation that justifies the time and expense that went into making this, or watching it? We don’t have great answers, but we’re relieved to see this particular line of Romanoffs brought to an end.
This, by our estimation, is the second best episode of Amazon Prime’s The Romanoffs, but unfortunately, that’s not saying much about “End of the Line”. It features fairly engaging material involving a couple desperate to have a child engaging in grey-market adoption shenanigans in Russia, and the man and woman in question are appealing and sympathetic as leads. The script also approaches “crackling” in places, as these potential parents begin to fight over how far they’re willing to go and what compromises they’re willing to accept for their child, as the adoption environment itself plays on their paranoia and prejudice. Unfortunately, all this is betrayed by what has become as much of a Romanoffs trademark as it’s nebulous connection to the titular theme; uninspired directing and editing.
Jim and A.Ron think this latest episode of Amazon’s The Romanoffs, “Panorama” is a mess. At best, it’s a mildly interesting yet gorgeous travelogue for Mexico City. At worst, it’s a poorly, written, directed, acted, and edited mess that seems to have no idea what it wants to say, and doesn’t know enough about the topics to offer any depth to the things it reaches for. The only thing that kind of works is the relationship between the two ridiculously photogenic protagonists, but they are also the least interesting of the premises. Our hope for this series is now that Weiner can make one really exceptional episode out of the next two, or the finale episode is truly “The One That Holds Everything” and somehow ties this all together.
HBO’s The Deuce wrapped up it’s second season in fine style, with the finale episode “Inside the Pretend”. Simon and Pelecanos did an admirable job putting all their players in position to make the jump to the 80’s. The pimps seem on the wane, the porn industry is still waxing, but the men and women of the industry don’t seem to be enjoying their ascent as much as it would have seemed at this season’s outset. It’s hard to have a sunny outlook when people you care about wind up dead; that goes double when you’re the one doing the killing. Can’t wait to see how things shake up next year, we’ll see you then!
The fifth episode of Amazon’s The Romanoffs has something to say, but we’re not sure what it is, if it’s worth saying, and if Matthew Weiner is the right spokesperson for the message, which seems to be; the worst thing you can be accused of is accusing somebody else of something they didn’t do. Regardless of how we felt about the themes at play, the presentation left a lot to be desired as well, featuring clunky dialog and either stagey acting and/or bizarre editing choices or both. You know, hallmarks of Mad Men, the series that made Weiner famous.
Jim and A.Ron are here to gush about the penultimate episode of this season’s The Deuce, “Nobody Has to Get Hurt”. Of course, that means that someone will have to. The person who gets the hammer felt shocking and also inevitable in hindsight. There’s a lot of story left to unfold, the question now is how much resolution will we get and how much will be irrelevant once the show fast forwards to the 80’s. We consider Eileen’s career trajectory, Frankie tempting fate, the fall of House Pimp, and much more. See you back next week!
Jim and A.Ron have a split decision on the forth episode of Amazon’s The Romanoffs, “Expectations”. A.Ron found it pointless and borderline unwatchable, where Jim was drawn into the human element of Amanda Peet’s Julia struggling to deal with a secret that has been weighing on her conscience for 20 years. Regardless, the episode does feature engaging performances from very likable stars (the previously mentioned Peet, and John Slattery). What did you think? Tell us using the contact info below!
Jim and I checked out the latest episode of HBO’s The Deuce, “The Feminism Part”, and boy, just a lot happened. There’s mob money, murder, attempted murder, betrayals, breakups, Bobby’s kid lost his virginity! The stakes can be as low as Vince losing himself for a few days tending bar in sleepy Vermont towns, or as high as a dead prostitute washing up and into Detective Alston’s case load. That’s life on The Deuce.