I rate The Crown Four Fingers and One Thumb.
It is NEAR PERFECT at 97%.
Due to formatting issues when WP changed to blocks, I’ve decided not to add anything else to this page until I start a new page in 2021. I have a Frankenstein version going on and I’ve spent way too much time on it trying to make it right. You can always see my TV recommendations and reviews on my blogs for the rest of this year called 2020.
August 12, 2020: Documentary Recommendation: Athlete A (2020)
I rate Athlete A Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%.
August 10, 2020: Netflix TV Show Recommendation: Dead to Me (2019-)
I blazed through the first two seasons and only one season left before the producer calls it quits. I think some TV shows could learn from this. Go out on a high note. Dead to Me is a drama drenched in the right combination of sarcasm, loneliness, and friendship to make a positive impact on the viewer. It is nice to see Christina Applegate in a role where she’s a mom with real life problems and Linda Cardellini is bizarre just enough without being a crazy woman. The interaction between them and their interactions between James Marsden’s character is solid acting. I know this word has negative connotations, but the great thing about this show is after a while you realize not everything is as it seems at first glance. There is a good lesson to learn as the saying goes don’t judge a person at first glance. After the initial conversation of getting to know each other, keep going. This is what the show does where you are at a good stopping point but don’t want to put that remote control down. Some parts may have been predictable, but it was carried out well enough that I didn’t care. I’ll be sad to see if end but glad I gave it a chance.
I rate Dead to Me NEAR PERFECT at 96%.
May 16, 2020: Coronavirus Explained
Executive Producers: Claire Gordon, Ezra Klein, Mona Lalwani, Chad Mumm, Mark W. Olsen, Joe Posner, and Marina G. Stadler
Major Cast: J.K. Simmons (narrator), Peter Daszak, and archival footage
Running Time per Episode: 28 minutes
TV Rating: TV-PG
To take a breather from watching all kinds of shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, I decided to watch this short episode (the only one so far) about the Coronavirus. It’s pretty elementary in its content, but important nonetheless. It’s for those laypersons including myself that have no brain capacity or desire if I had it to break down the components of viruses in order to find a vaccine and whatever else scientists do in their labs. The only thing I know is antibiotics only help with bacterial infections. Viruses, on the other hand, you need to wait out if you get it and much like the world is doing currently. It’s really the little things you can’t see that put large populations at risk. As Vern Schillinger (I hope some people get this reference) narrates about the comparison of COVID-19 to other past virus outbreaks, the impacts of viruses in today’s world, and the miracle of medical advancements to get a vaccine in a relatively short amount of time, the practicality of it all is what people have a hard time accepting. I’ve said this before and I’ll say again, viruses don’t care what look like or where you live because they only care if you’re an ideal host, which is basically any person. Given the COVID’s ability to evolve at a rapid pace, let alone spread easily, it’s important to be clean and by clean, I mean washing your hands more than once a day. I’m not going to get into the mask or social distancing debate except to say you won’t find me sitting in any food establishment anytime soon. As for the outlook on the Coronavirus, while it is here to stay, over time the dark cloud hanging over our heads hopefully won’t be so dark.
I give Coronavirus, Explained PERFECT at 100%.
It gets FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB.
March 15, 2020: TV Recommendation: Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)
Quote from Orange is the New Black by Crazy Eyes
“I threw my pie for you.”
Creator: Jenji Kohan
Writer: Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison book)
Total Seasons: 7
Total Episodes: 91
Episode Length: average is 59 minutes
Major Prisoner Cast: Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, Laura Prepon as Alex Vause, Kate Mulgrew as Galina “Red” Reznikov, Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, Danielle Brooks as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols, Taryn Manning as Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett, Selenis Leyva as Gloria Mendoza, Adrienne C. Moore as Cindy “Black Cindy” Hayes, Dascha Polanco as Dayanara “Daya” Diaz, Yael Stone as Lorna Morello, Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington, Jackie Cruz as Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, inmate, Lea DeLaria as Carrie “Big Boo” Black, Elizabeth Rodriguez as Aleida Diaz, Jessica Pimentel as Maria Ruiz, Laura Gómez as Blanca Flores, Dale Soules as Frieda Berlin, Diane Guerrero as Maritza Ramos, Constance Shulman as Yoga Jones, and Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset
Additional Prisoner Cast: Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette Pelage, Annie Golden as Norma Romano, Vicky Jeudy as Janae Watson, Julie Lake as Angie Rice, Emma Myles as Leanne Taylor, Abigail Savage as Gina Murphy, Lori Tan Chinn as Mei Chang, Tamara Torres as Emily “Weeping Woman” Germann, Lin Tucci as Anita DeMarco, Beth Fowler as Sister Jane Ingalls, Barbara Rosenblat as Rosa “Miss Rosa” Cisneros, Madeline Brewer as Tricia Miller, Kimiko Glenn as Brook Soso, Lori Petty as Lolly Whitehill, Yvette Freeman as Irma Lerman, Lorraine Toussaint as Yvonne “Vee” Parker, Blair Brown as Judy King, Emily Althaus as Maureen Kukudio, Ruby Rose as Stella Carlin, Daniella De Jesus as Irene “Zirconia” Cabrera, Shannon Esper as Alana Dwight, Rosal Colon as Carmen “Ouija” Aziza, Francesca Curran as Helen “Skinhead Helen” Van Maele, Kelly Karbacz as Kasey Sankey, Amanda Stephen as Alison Abdullah, Asia Kate Dillon as Brandy Epps, Miriam Morales as Ramona “Pidge” Contreras, Jolene Purdy as Stephanie Hapakuka, Shirley Roeca as Juanita Vasquez, Rebecca Knox as Tina Swope, Sipiwe Moyo as Adeola Chinede, Besanya Santiago as Raquel “Creech” Munoz, Finnerty Steeves as Beth Hoefler, Christina Toth as Annalisa Damiva, Amanda Fuller as Madison “Badison” Murphy, Vicci Martinez as Dominga “Daddy” Duarte, Mackenzie Phillips as Barbara “Barb” Denning, and Henny Russell as Carol Denning
Major Prison Staff Cast: Michael Harney as Sam Healy, Nick Sandow as Joe Caputo, Matt Peters as Joel Luschek, Alysia Reiner as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, Ismenia Mendes as Tali Grapes, Catherine Curtin as Wanda Bell, Joel Marsh Garland as Scott O’Neill, Brendan Burke as Wade Donaldson, Pablo Schreiber as George “Pornstache” Mendez, Lolita Foster as Eliqua Maxwell, Germar Terrell Gardner as Charles Ford, Matt McGorry as John Bennett, Lauren Lapkus as Susan Fischer, Kaipo Schwab as Igme Dimaguiba, James McMenamin as Charlie “Donuts” Coates, Alan Aisenberg as Baxter “Gerber” Bayley, Jimmy Gary Jr. as Felix Rikerson, Mike Birbiglia as Danny Pearson, Marsha Stephanie Blake as Berdie Rogers, Beth Dover as Linda Ferguson, Nick Dillenburg as Ryder Blake, Mike Houston as Lee Dixon, Emily Tarver as Artesian McCullough, Brad William Henke as Desi Piscatella, Evan Arthur Hall as B. Stratman, John Palladino as Josh, Michael Torpey as Thomas “Humps” Humphrey, Hunter Emery as Rick Hopper, Shawna Hamic as Virginia “Ginger” Copeland, Susan Heyward as Tamika Ward, Josh Segarra as Danilo Stefanovic, Greg Vrotsos as Greg Hellman, Nicholas Webber as J. Alvarez, Branden Wellington as Jarod Young, and Adam Lindo as Carlos “Clitvack” Litvack Additional Outside of Prison Cast: Jason Biggs as Larry Bloom, Michael Chernus as Cal Chapman, Tanya Wright as Crystal Burset, Berto Colon as Cesar Velazquez, Carol Chapman, Tracee Chimo as Neri Feldman, Maria Dizzia as Polly Harper, Ian Paola as Yadriel, John Magaro as Vince Muccio, Mary Steenburgen as Delia Mendez-Powell, Miguel Izaguirre as Dario “Diablo” Zúñiga, Michael J. Burg as Detective Mark Bellamy, Bill Hoag as Bill Chapman, Karina Arroyave as Karla Córdova, Melinna Bobadilla as Santos Chaj, Marie-Lou Nahhas as Shani Abboud, and Alicia Witt as Zelda
This show pulls you into the characters so much you want to know what happens at the end of each episode and how the show will ultimately end as well. Orange is the New Black is based from the autobiography of Piper Kerman and as the show progresses, it takes creative liberties within the federal prison system. There is not a chance some things would’ve happened in actual prison life as it did in the show, but the success of any show is usually a mixture between fact/reality and fiction/imagination.
By the time Piper set foot in the minimum security federal prison due to a drug offense earlier, she finds herself unable to cope with her new reality. Her past relationship with Alex Vause has caught up to her and becomes trickier yet when she sees her again. Piper’s first month at Litchfield makes her realize there is only herself to blame and she alone has to keep her safe. The other prisoners are not her friends and there is no shoulder to cry on. The strength of this show is the weaving back and forth between past and present time in flashbacks. These are not only exciting to watch but gives us insight into how the prisoners were sent there. The prison officers are portrayed in the often stereotypical ways seen in past television shows and movies, but accurate in other ways. There’s no way certain things would remain secret for so long, but I forgave this. Let’s just say people love to talk no matter where you are. As the prison changes operational hands, it highlights the dangers of inadequate training, overcrowding, lack of officers, increased corruption and chances of rioting. There are great supporting characters, Lolly Whitehill comes to mind (played by Lori Petty) and Carrie Black (played by Lea DeLaria)
By the final season, Piper Chapman and Alex Vause are still figuring out their lives as well as the other prisoners they have come to know. The television world is simply this: not everyone lives, not everyone dies, not everyone succeeds, and not everyone fails. Because this show mirrors “real life,” the finale has a somber ending and even though many didn’t make it or will soon be in a worse position, the ones who did survive in the makes it worth watching.
The best episode of season one is number 3 called “Lesbian Request Denied” where Piper finds out what happens when she rejects Suzanne Warren’s “Crazy Eyes” requests and tries to suppress her hatred for Alex Vause. It aired on July 11, 2013.
February 26, 2020: The Last Three Documentaries I Watched
I decided to do this a little differently this time around. I’m not going to list all the behind the scenes people involved and focus more on the content of each documentary and my short thoughts on each one.
https://youtu.be/YCbAyk8aRxI Crime + Punishment (2018) is the second one I watched. It covers the 12 whistle blowers in the NYPD who exposed the illegal quota practices. Just because a piece of paper is passed around outlawing quota practices in 2010 doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur now. As interactions between superiors and street patrol officers are secretly filmed, retaliation for bringing this into the open manifests in obvious retaliatory ways. These quotas once used only by large police departments across the U.S. has seeped its way into smaller towns. It’s a brutal fact that New York City financial well being depends on arrests and summonses as well as other cities. My thoughts about this police policy is this: the whole criminal justice system needs to be gutted from top to bottom and for those police officers whose goal is to help people, it’s a shame they get caught in this net. It is one hour and 52 minutes and watched it on Hulu. https://youtu.be/n4WfaaJi_fQ The House of Suh (2010) is the last one I watched. It covers the evolution or more de-evolution of a Korean family that immigrated to the United States. While it takes some time to get into the story, keep watching because it’s a fascinating story. You have old Korean cultural values intersecting with two different personalities growing up in America. One is a rebellious female teenager and the other a dutiful male that gets absorbed into the chaotic life of his sister. It this is a tragic story? Yes. Does this highlight family brokenness? Yes. Does this make for a good movie? Yes but only if Kristy Swanson can play the lead. The TV movie is called Bad to the Bone. My thoughts about this brother and sister relationship is this: the brother was blind to his sister’s intentions and because of his loyalty to her found himself in a bad situation. It is one hour and 30 minutes and watched it on Amazon prime. https://youtu.be/jFtKATa55gA
February 17, 2020: TV Show Review (So Far): The Crown (2016-)
Quote by Prince Charles
“Something as curious as the monarchy won’t survive unless you take account of people’s attitudes. After all, if people don’t want it, they won’t have it.”
DON’T READ ANY FURTHER UNLESS YOU’RE OKAY WITH KNOWING ABOUT MINOR PAST AND PRESENT SPOILERS!!!
Creator: Peter Morgan
Executive Producers: Peter Morgan, Stephen Daldry, Robert Fox, Andy Harries, Suzanne Mackie, Matthew Byam Shaw, Philip Martin, Tanya Seghatchian, Allie Goss, Nina Wolarsky, and Benjamin Caron
Writers: Peter Morgan, Edward Hemming, Laura Deeley, Jon Brittain, Jonathan Wilson, Tom Edge, Nick Payne, Duncun Macmillan, Amy Jenkins, James Graham, and David Hancock
Directors: Benjamin Caron, Philip Martin, Stephen Daldry, Julian Jarrold, Philippa Lowthorpe, Samuel Donovan, Jessica Hobbs, and Christian Schwochow
Cast in Season 5 (so far): Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II
Cast in Season 3-4: Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Marion Bailey as Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother), Charles Edwards as Martin Charteris, Emma Corrin as Princess Diana, Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher, David Rintoul as Michael Adeane, Sam Phillips as Equerry, Jason Watkins as Harold Wilson, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Alex Jennings as David (Duke of Windsor), and Lia Williams as Wallis Simpson
Cast in Season 1-2: Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, Matt Smith as Philip (Duke of Edinburgh), Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother), Julian Baring as Prince Charles, Billy Jenkins as Prince Charles, Will Keen as Michael Adeane, Pip Torrens as Tommy Lascelles, Lizzy McInnerny as Bobo Macdonald, James Hillier as Equerry, John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, Jeremy Northam as Anthony Eden, Harry Hadden-Paton as Martin Charteris, Clive Francis as Lord Salisbury, Ben Miles and Peter Townsend, Greg Wise as Lord Mountbatten, Anton Lesser as Harold MacMillian, Jared Harris as King George VI, Alex Jennings as David (Duke of Windsor), Lia Williams as Wallis Simpson, and Verity Russell as Young Princess Elizabeth
Seasons: three so far and five when the show ends
Episodes in each season: 10
Running time of each episode: 58 minutes
I was really hoping The Crown would last more than five seasons. The first season two seasons had Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II. It made sense to me to have two seasons with Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II and then at least two more with Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II. It would have been interesting to see sort of a family arc come sort of full circle: staring with the Duke of Windsor leaving with Wallis Simpson and ending with Prince Harry leaving with Meghan Markle and their son. Then again, most of the world already has intimate knowledge about the latter’s relationship so it probably makes better sense to end it in season five.
It seems half the world’s people doesn’t care about British royalty where the other half is fascinated by it. I guess I fall in the latter half. I’m fascinated by all royalty including the Windsor and Mountbatten-Windsor family. Queen Elizabeth II is in fifth among the longest reigns of sovereign states with exact dates. She is the only one living from this list and has ruled for 68 years and 10 days so far. The top spot belongs to Louis XIV from France with a reign of 72 years and 110 days.
This drama and history show begins with a change in trajectory of Princess Elizabeth’s life where she becomes Queen after her uncle abdicates the throne and her father dies prematurely. She faces the task of keeping neutral as prime ministers come and go. Highlighting is her marriage to Prince Philip and strong relationship with Winston Churchill in the first two seasons, but familial turmoil continue to as third season begins with new dramas as well as political fractures.
The Queen is older and a mother of two young adult children with a mind of their own. Prince Charles and Princess Anne are about as different as the Queen and her sister. Prince Charles takes on more duty as a royal and catches the eye of Camilla Shand. It is also where Princess Margaret and Princess Anne are trying to find their places in the royal family and illustrate no matter how big of a castle you live in, there are reasons not to celebrate. And yet, season three ends with the Silver Jubilee for the Queen.
December 13, 2019: Netflix Documentary Recommendation
The Movies that Made Us (2019-)