My new page for 2021 and beyond that will list my Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and TV recommendations/reviews.
10/02/2021: NETFLIX TV REVIEW: BRIDGERTON SEASON ONE (2020)
Because I didn’t know anything about the books or show, I really wasn’t sure what it was all about except the location was in Britain. I had no idea Shonda Rhimes was involved. I heard something about the male lead on the Internet. This show reminds me of a weathered down version of another show I recently watched on Netflix. Most episodes are 57 minutes long and the last episode is 72 minutes. It is created by Chris Van Dusen.
Bridgerton is about an aristocratic family called the Bridgertons. There are many children in this family, but the main focus is on the oldest daughter named Daphne and the oldest son named Anthony. Fatherless, Anthony is chosen to look after the family alongside his mother. The family finds themselves in the spotlight when Daphne catches the eye of the Queen. The spotlight continues with the help of a newsletter that is read by many about the latest gossip. When Simon Bassett returns to London, he finds himself in a situation where cutting all ties with the Bridgerton become impossible.
Bridgerton has a great cast. Most of the actors and actresses I wasn’t familiar with although some of them I remembered from past shows or movies. In terms of mystery and suspense, there is little except for the identity of the person writing the newsletter. She is referred to as Lady Whistledown and clearly has a lot of free time on her hands. The show is narrated by Julie Andrews. If you like the Victorian era with corsets and wigs, this is the show for you. If you like English society where creative liberties were taken in terms of inclusiveness, this show is for you. Despite the ending as I wanted it to go another way, it was worth watching.
I rate Bridgerton Season One at 95% with FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB
Sep 18, 2021: AMAZON DOCUMENTARY RECOMMENDATION: LULARICH (2021)
LuLaRoe is a classic example of a multi-level marketing skirting the edges of being a Pyramid scheme in that you have to keep recruiting people to get your profits (in LuLaRoe’s case it was bonuses). Sure, LuLaRoe started out small, as most start up businesses have to, and then grow out due to demand via advertisement and promoting. Sure, LuLaRoe had a great product to sell as in leggings but when a company grows too fast, things can go very wrong. This is the gist of this documentary of how the major players especially the owners of Mark and DeAnne Stidham with the help of their blended family brought a great idea to a grinding halt (sort of). Let’s say it’s a lot smaller since the company has legal troubles that probably rival any major hospital. This documentary has four parts and aptly titled: Start Up, Show Up, Blow Up, and Toe Up. This company reminds of an ambitious team (nothing wrong with this) that gets very lost along the way. It’s tantamount to biting off more than they could chew. It’s losing control and dealing with it by lavish parties and performances.
It was that compelling of a story in the first episode despite knowing nothing about it. I had never even heard of this company until now. I binge watched the whole thing in one sitting. I truly enjoyed listening to the major movers and shakers, including the buyers and staff, where many no longer work there. It’s hard to have sympathy for these retailers who are spending their six figure incomes on fancy dinners, designer clothes, and expensive vacations until you hear them speak about the other “perks” of working for LuLaRoe. This helped lead to the financial devastation of the highest producers to the lowest earners in the company and those that left were labeled as strangers. No matter what their rank, they became the enemy of the company especially if they were fired. LuLaRoe still sells clothes, but has a F rating with the BBB. I have to hand it to the people who were former retailers and office workers that spoke out against the company. LuLaRich is engaging and realistic in there are winners and losers except in this case the winners thought they were winners (for a while) and the losers were really lost from the beginning (and still are to this day in some respects).
I rate LuLaRich FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB at 100%
9/18/2021: TV SERIES RECOMMENDATION: SECRETS OF THE MORGUE (2018-)
I’ve watched more than half of these episode and while some of the cases I’m already familiar with, it’s interesting to hear about the cases from a medical examiner’s viewpoint where it goes a little more in depth than say Forensic Files. I’ve watched a few crime shows with poor narration and coverage that it completely turns me off. Apart from the sheer brutality of the crimes, the way the examiners solve how the person was killed and identify the weapons used to kill or cut the body apart is amazing. I can’t imagine the amount of education and patience it takes to do this. Medical examiners are important in solving crimes and convincing juries that this is the right person to be convicted of murder or wrong person to be bringing to trial. Equally important it provides, at least, a little closure for the surviving family and friends. In this current age of technology, no matter how hard you try to erase or get rid of evidence, it more than likely will be found somewhere in the investigation. There is no surprise, detectives have a poor rate of solving crimes (due to lack of staff and resources). Yes, some detectives are far better than others. It happens in every precinct. The more severe the crime such as murder and aggravated assault, the more likely the crime will go to the top pile to be solved. This show highlights the hard work it takes to be a good detective and when paired with medical examiners, their partnership can result in removing a murderer from society, no matter how long it has gone unsolved.
I rate Secrets of the Morgue FOUR FINGERS at 90%
09/11/2021: NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY SERIES RECOMMENDATION: UNTOLD (2021)
When I started watching these, I didn’t know what to expect. The Untold Deal with the Devil was the first one I watched. After it ended, I was convinced the second one about Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce) would be decent too. I was not disappointed as I listened to her (formerly him) describe how he trained incredibly hard in order to win the Gold medal in the decathlon during the 1976 Olympics. From there, the episodes were just as great as the two previous ones. It probably helped because I knew nothing about these sports incidents/stories because either they happened before I was born but mainly I’ve never been a die hard sports fan in any sport. These documentaries couldn’t be more varied. Deal with the Devil is about a female boxer surviving her husband. Caitlyn Jenner should be self-explanatory. Malice at the Palace is about professional basketball players relationship with fans. Crime & Penalties is about a minor league hockey team tied to the mob. Breaking Point is about professional tennis players and the way mental illness is perceived. As a non-sports fan, take a chance to watch all of them. You won’t be disappointed. I learned new things and finally understood why Metta World Peace was on DWTS.
I rate Untold FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB at 100%
09/11/2021: AMAZON TV RECOMMENDATION: JACK RYAN SEASON 1 AND 2 (2018 AND 2019)
Say whatever you will about this series but I really liked it. So far, there are two seasons dealing with Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst, that trades his desk for being in the field (first season in the Middle East specifically Yemen and Turkey and second season in South America specifically Venezuela). Ryan is a part of the CTC (Counterterrorism Center) and T-FAD (Terror, Finance, and Arms Division). What happens in the series is close to what is going on in currently in the world: nuclear weapons, cyber espionage, political red tape, terroristic acts, and viruses. The main cast is John Krasinski as Jack Ryan and Wendell Pierce as James Greer, and Michael Kelly as Mike November. The supporting actors that stood out the most to me were John Hoogenakker as Matice, Ali Suliman as Mousa bin Suleman, and Tom Wlaschiha but of course all the cast was great. Jack Ryan is created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland. I can’t wait for season three and hope it keeps going.
I rate Jack Ryan FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB at 95%
08/30/2021: DOCUMENTARY RECOMMENDATION: NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE (2009)
This documentary is an older one about movies but worth the watch especially if you are a horror movie fan. From Nosferatu to Leatherface to Jigsaw, NIghtmares in Red, White and Blue highlights the evolution of the American horror film (just as the one sheet says). In most every movie, there are unintended consequences and lucky breaks that happen during filming. These horror movies are no exception and while horror movies can range from the outlandish scenes that you think would never happen in real life, the scary reality is that some do occur whiles others are mirror images because the horror movie is based on “real life.” There is one movie genre that will forever be cheap to make into a movie compared to other genres and that is horror because of its core elements, People are drawn to the obscene, mysterious, and destruction in any good horror monster or beast or human. People want to be transported to another world and scared to their core. A horror movie is an escape from their own life. The suspense gives them something else to feel and that is fear. Some horror movies are seen for what it is on the surface, for the gore and blood, but often to the writer and director the idea was conceived for different reasons. Blending “horror” and “reality” makes for the best scare the shit out of you movies because while it’s easier to believe this stuff never exists in the “real world,” when you walk out of the theater or turn off your T.V., how many of you check your closet or under your bed before going to sleep. If you do, this is the power of the horror movie and the genius of the writers and directors.
I rate Nightmares in Red, White and Blue Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%
08/30/2021: DOCUMENTARY RECOMMENDATION: VAL (2021)
“It’s important to be yourself. What art does for everyone, helps you understand yourself and in a distilled way, whether it’s a painting or a scene in acting or a joke. It distills something about everyday life that can be important to you.”
For sake of time and because Val Kilmer does a good job explaining himself of his childhood, marriage, divorce, children, and being a Hollywood actor, I don’t need to write too much more. This documentary speaks of the impacting moments during this life that will live with him until his death. Some of it is heartbreaking, other parts uplifting, and the rest is life as most people know it. Except he’s Val Kilmer and if you know anything about Val Kilmer, he’s more than Iceman from Top Gun and Batman from well Batman Forever. He’s a complex person that recognized the rewards and pitfalls of Hollywood along the way. He’s also a human being that happened to be an actor for whom cancer did not care. Now in his early 60s, he’s still eccentric and maybe this documentary serves as a reminder to all us: don’t pass judgment on others you’ve never met or even said hi too (in the general sense). Because in the end with the majority out there, very few will remember you even existed 100 years from now except family members if they are interested in their ancestors. Maybe this documentary reminds us to live our lives as best we can even in the worst times because there’s no other way around it but through it.
I rate Val 90% of GREAT at Four Fingers
July 31, 2021: SHORT REVIEW OF KILLING EVE: SEASON 1-3
Killing Eve is a combination of great acting, dialogue, and editing that makes this show worthy to watch. Besides the relationship between Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the relationship of Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) and Konstantin Vasiliev (Kim Bodnia) is superb. While it’s nothing out of the ordinary, in terms of script plot advancement, the heart of it is the acting and even the music that puts makes you want to watch it. Eve works for the British intelligence and is engaged in a hunt for a female assassin that goes by the name of Villanelle. In season three, you get more understanding of where Villanelle originated and the reason for her inability to maintain any kind of relationship. While she becomes less mysterious although still as deadly, there’s more than enough weird encounters to keep watching. As a non-spoiler recap, the first season focuses with building the relationship between Eve and Villanelle as well as Konstantin trying to control Villanelle’s impulses. The second season furthers the relation between Eve and Villanelle, never knowing who has the upper hand, but knowing a zebra and tiger both has stripes. The third season introduces Dasha Duzran (Harriet Walter) who tries to get Villanelle on her side again. There’s a major turning point in Eve and Niko’s relationship too and again, by the end, one thing remains clear. Eve and Villanelle’s relationship is toxic than ever and yet, they can’t stay away from each other. There’s one more season left. I’m sure it will end in spectacular fashion. I can’t wait.
Killing Eve Season 1-3 gets Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%
July 24, 2021: SHORT REVIEW OF BILLIONS: SEASONS 1-4 (2016-2019)
Billions is one of those shows that you wish had more episodes in each season. The relationship between Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is one made for T.V. heaven. As much as they loathe each other for different reasons, they are similar in ways, but they aren’t willing to accept it. Rhoades is just as devious and dirty in his job as attorney as Axe is when it comes to hedge funds.Then, when you mix in Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), it becomes a chaotic mess of her not taking sides but looking out for her own. In addition to the unusual and dysfunctional relationship among the three characters, there are other great characters in Wags, Mafee, Bill, Taylor, Ari, and Chuck Sr. The location is set in New York City where politics, law, and money are the pathways to everyone’s goal and that goal is power. Billions is about losing your friends along the way and having only one option of stripping them of their defenses and leaving them crawling back to you. The only problem is there’s often an enemy move you haven’t seen. He, she, or they haven’t revealed their true intentions until it’s too late and then you have more than one problem on your hands.
Billions Season 1-4 gets Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%
July 18, 2021: The Blacklist Season 8 Short Review (2020-2021)
When COVID stopped all productions in Hollywood, The Blacklist was one of them. The final episode of season 7 wasn’t the greatest but when it came back for season 8, there were definitely some questions needing to be answered. Long before I knew Megan Boone was leaving the show due to her missing in many of the episodes in season 7, I had a good feeling she wasn’t coming back after season 8. I was right but what surprised me was the creator, Jon Bokenkamp, leaving his creation. It might give the new person taking the lead the ability to guide the show on a different path. It is clear the loyal watchers including me want to know who truly Raymond Reddington is and where Elizabeth Keen’s mother has been hiding all these years. I could see the show lasting one more season being the last one and tying it up nice and neat. I mean how many lives does Reddington have? He’s escaped death many times and with his illness, his time is limited. The focus could go back in the direction of finding a successor of Reddington now that Elizabeth is gone. He still cares about his legacy and wants full control of his secrets long after he is dead. There are ways to change the angle of Reddington’s inevitable death so he gets another life. The writer’s could pull it off but who knows. I think season 9 should focus on Raymond and Katarina Rostova. Now that Neville Townsend is out of the way, who is going to take care of Agnes? I hope this show doesn’t fall into the same trap of revolving through the same doors season after season. I don’t think it will because while I enjoyed watching Aram investigate the Butterfinger undercover operation while it was on hiatus, it’s not the same thing as watching the progression of a worthy show.
The Blacklist Season 8 gets Four Fingers and One Thumb at 93%.
June 24, 2021: The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4 Review
I religiously watched every episode in this season as soon as it came out. I have to say I pretty much knew the outcome of the last episode after the certain arrest of a certain someone. It wasn’t hard to deduce what was going to happen. The connection between Nick and Offred/Ofjoseph is undeniable. They formed a bond and a baby that no one can take away from them. Yet, Nick is someone who clearly feels Gilead is necessary and right for him. He has risen in the ranks and now being a commander himself, he holds more power and weight than he used to, but he is young.
The fourth season felt like a rewarding dessert the viewers got for sticking with Offred and the other Handmaids throughout the three seasons. Some of them truly escaped to freedom and while I was rooting for Ofjoseph to keep her freedom, Janine was the biggest disappointment for me. Can’t that woman get a freaking break? She lost an eye. She lost her baby, twice now. She lost her friends. She was so close to finding a forever freedom. I didn’t understand how Ofjoseph was covered with debris while Ofwarren/Ofdaniel/Ofhoward was taken away by the Gilead police. Did she fly through the air like a projectile object and land out in the open for them to see? I will suspend something within me that says this wouldn’t have occurred. The bottom line is Ofjoseph was able to say she was partially June Osborne again where Ofhoward had to refuse her identity as Janine Lindo.
There are great scenes between June and her husband, Luke. Her way of handling her trauma worries Luke and for good reason. A person doesn’t revert back to the way life was before being subjected to years of submission, punishment, and torture. It just doesn’t happen. The survivors have to deal with the aftereffects. Some handle it better than others. The season does a great job highlighting the emotions involved between the former aunts and handmaids in Canada. One thing is clear and that is June wants and expects retribution. She will go to any length to get what she wants. There is a new character that becomes the new friend to Ofhoward after her recapture. What occurs will be interesting in the next season as the character is now a disgraced wife turned handmaid and played brilliantly by Mckenna Grace.
As much as I knew June would not be able to escape with Hannah by her side as that is for the next season or maybe never, I did enjoy watching season four from start to finish. It didn’t have the newness as the first season and the violence against the handmaid’s is repetitive, but this is what Gilead is and does. The rule makers break you down and places you wherever they want to put you. It’s clear the commanders have the most power. It’s clear there is disagreement among them. This should play a significant role in the next season. One thing was certain by the final episode and that is for all the freedom June wanted, she took a giant step away from Luke and another one closer to no man’s land.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season Four gets Four Fingers and One Thumb at 92%
06/03/2021: Netflix Summertime Season 2 Review (2020)
This is what I wrote about Summertime Season 1. There are two things that really bother me. One is bad dubbing in movies or tv shows. The other is poor writing. This series had both. I don’t know why I watched this. It was painful every minute of every episode. I don’t know what the reason for watching this but jeez, this dubbing in English was so freaking bad. It bothered me even more than the weak writing. The subtitles even made it worse. I think whoever did the subtitles was having fun. They used the F word more times than I could count. For a TV show that focuses on teenage summer love, I don’t think the creators were going for the F word in the dialogue. I’m positive the dialogue sounded much better in Italian. The envy of this show was seeing the blue water and wishing I could dip my feet into it and how they could travel to Rome in a heartbeat. The main character of Ale, played by Ludovico Tersigni, reminds me of Rami Malek’s long lost cousin. The other main character of Summer, played by Rebecca Coco Edogamhe, reminds me how I got screwed when it comes to height. Summertime reminded me of any fan fiction books that were made into movies. Maybe, I should take a swim in fan fiction and see where it takes me. Of course, that is after I write all my other stories. I can’t even call this show so bad, it’s good. It’s a so bad and waiting to see if the second season is just as bad or worse.
I’m not going to lie that I spent the majority of my day watching this show and last night too. I knew it was being released on June 3rd. I obviously needed an outlet. I’m not going to pretend anymore that I watched it to see how bad it was compared to the first season. Okay, maybe, a little bit. The dubbing was just as bad although a little less painful. What I would’ve given to have it spoken in the language it was filmed. The only reason why I’m glad it had the bad dubbing was because it allowed me to close my eyes and listen to the dialogue. This season opened up similar to the first season except all the major players are pretty much in different relationships. Ale, pronounced All-e, not to be confused with the beer. Bad joke on my part. Well, Ale is now with a different girl/woman and submerged in the lifestyle of motorcycle racing. Summer is also with another partner. Sofia and Dario maintains their friendship and actually is pretty solid when it comes to their friendship. The character Dario is growing on me despite him being a player. Sofia, on the other hand, is still confused as ever when it comes to romance. She has a hard time showing her feelings, but who doesn’t when you are a teenager. Edo is also immature in some ways, but adultlike in other ways. I will say this season offered a little more of a storyline besides summer love and motorcycles. The key word is a little. There is growth to some characters while others remain just as confused as before. It seems Summer and Ale’s relationship is on par with what you hear and see in an actual relationship. This is what makes it appear normal in the sense of ironing out the kinks when two people are together. This season was better than the first. It was a nice diversion from my reality. Maybe, I need to get a new hobby or go back to the ones I’ve neglected. You could say I’m an equal opportunity viewer of bad or good shows and everything in between. Or maybe, I’m just a sucker for mindless shows that doesn’t illicit too much brain capacity although some of the DP shots are decent and it bumps the score up as well as better storylines.
I give Summertime Season 2 GOOD at 71%
05/14/2021: Netflix Recommendation: This is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist (2021)
The 1980s have come back with its terrible fashion and the 1990s have come back with the revival of shows like Fuller House and Saved by the Bell. So too have the events of the past been revisited such as this 1990 Gardner art museum robbery in Boston. It coincided with St. Patty’s day so the police were more concerned with keeping the Bostonians partiers in check. The fact the museum had little security when it it was robbed didn’t help. It was obviously done by people who knew little about art from some of the work they took although they managed to take a Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and others worth 500 million dollars. There are four episodes in this series and although it does start out strong, with each episode it sort of wanders a bit. There could’ve been a little more structure to how it was presented, but it’s clear the Boston mafia had their hand in the robbery. How much is to be determined? This was before cameras and when the FBI was brought in, too much time had lapsed. Evidence was collected and lost. The original investigation was poorly done. The case will probably never be solved with a definite answer. It’s now a museum I’d like to visit if I’m ever in Boston.
I give This is a Robbery THREE FINGERS at 80%.
05/14/2021: Netflix TV Series Recommendation: Money, Explained (2021)
If you want to be in the top 1% of Americans, you need to earn around 758,00 dollars yearly, according to 2019 data (EPI).To be a part of the top 10% percentiles, you must make between around 130,000 to 210,500 dollars (EPI). When you are talking about net worth of the top 1% in the U.S, you must have, at least, 11 million dollars by 2019 figures (Investopedia). To be part of the top 10% in the U.S, you must have, at least, 1.2 million dollars by 2019 figures (Investopedia). The average worker earned around 57,000 dollars the same year which is the largest chunk of the American workers (EPI). The magic number to be saved for retirement is 1 million dollars since people are living longer and having more health problems. There are five episodes about money: get rich schemes, credit cards, student loans, gambling, and retirement. While none of this information should be new to anyone, it’s educational in some ways and depressing in most ways. The bottom line people the U.S. is in trouble when it comes to retirement. Get used to seeing more elderly people being forced to work in their twilight years in the next 50 plus years unless something changes. Many millennials and generation Xers are still drowning in debt. The other bottom line is most anything today is money maker from credit cards to student loans to lottery tickets. I watched it mainly because I like educational programs, but it’s nice knowing I won’t be the only one not saving a million dollars by the time I retire. And if you gamble, don’t wash your ticket like a recent CA winner did and lose 26 million dollars.
I rate Money, Explained FOUR FINGERS at 90%.
05/01/2021: TV Review: The Sinner (2017-)
There are three seasons of The Sinner that have nothing to do with each other and the only constant character is played by Bill Pullman as Harry Ambrose. I have to give it to the second season. It was the best out of all of them. The first season was the second best. The third season was my least favorite. It didn’t have the kind of ending I wanted and some of it didn’t make sense. I was beginning to think that way in the second season but it came around and finished strong. The third season started strong but slowly over time became weak. I suppose I was looking for something more. I’m curious what other people think. What is each season about and should you watch them?
I suggest watching the first two seasons if you like a slow build to movies or shows. Everything doesn’t come at you all at once in either season. This is what I like about them. There were clear reasons why Julian was so messed up in the head. The third season seemed to be missing something from the antagonist. If there ever was a character I didn’t feel a bit sorry for, it was Jamie Burns. I understood the need for acceptance and his high IQ level, but there was something within him that didn’t set right in the end. It didn’t seem believable. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but for all his ambition, it fell flat. I also wish more time had been spent on the relationship with his wife and students. Therefore, I suggest watching the last season to say you watched it.
I rate Sinner Three Fingers at GOOD
April 9, 2021: TV DOCUMENTARY RECOMMENDATION: HEMINGWAY (2021)
I recommend you see this three part documentary film playing on PBS. if you a writer, alcoholic, suicidal, contradictory, or any combination I just listed. Ernest Hemingway is about as influential on writers as is Edgar Allan Poe. They were both alcoholics but one was able to survive as a writer while alive while the other hardly survived at all. Both had trouble with family and both had friends that turned into enemies. I enjoyed watching every bit of this documentary film about Hemingway that begins with his childhood and ends with him taking his life by a gun to his head. There is such a thing about the tortured writer or artist. He was definitely one of them although he allowed many of his personal demons to control him and let his impulses do whatever they felt like doing. He had little sense of delaying gratification, but how frustrating it must be to have a declining physical and mental health getting in the way of what you love to do. I’m pretty confident I won’t go the same route as Hemingway. I don’t drink and I don’t have an inflated ego as he did and yet, I am fascinated and interested in sexual and gender roles as he was. I haven’t read too many of his books, but I plan on reading more. In the short span of time he lived, he wrote quite a bit of novels, novellas, and short stories. On the flip side, Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, Zora Neale Hurston, and John Kennedy Toole gained the recognition they deserved after their deaths (wrong on all levels). It goes to show a person should write for the love of it and everything else comes second, third, and on and on.
I rate Hemingway Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%
March 29, 2021: TV Review: American Horror Story/Seasons 1-9 so far
I recently finished all of the seasons, so far, in American Horror Story. Thanks for the viewers, the show will continue to the 13th season. The 10th season includes a new cast member of Macaulay Culkin (I can’t wait to see him) and Kaia Gerber (I’ll have to see how she does). The creators are bringing back Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson as they were missing from season nine. The 10th season also has Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Lily Rabe, Angelica Ross, and Finn Wittrock. What is the 10th season about? It deals with the environment dealing with the sea and sand. It’s aptly called “Double Feature.” I preferred certain seasons over others although I noticed in later seasons a kind of throw everything in the mix including the kitchen sink with leaky pipes and foul-smelling garbage disposal. I think the flashbacks are necessary in some of the episodes, but it appears the writers and creators have used it a little too liberally. You don’t need to give me a reason for everything that happened. Leaving pockets of mystery is a good thing. In addition to a short synopsis of each season, I will also put the seasons in order of best to least liked. Season 1 Murder House takes place in present time of 2011. The plot centers around the Harmon family making a new start in Los Angeles. Ben and Vivien and their daughter make acquaintances with peculiar neighbors and roaming ghosts, all while trying to reunite their family after tragedy. Season 2 Asylum takes place in 1964 and filmed in 2012-2013. The plot centers around Briarcliff Manor in Massachusetts. This place houses the criminally insane where religious beliefs and scientific experiments are therapeutic treatments. Season 3 Coven takes place in present time of 2013. The plot centers around the descendants of the Salem witch trials. When a new member arrives at an all-girls boarding school in New Orleans, the headmistress finds keeping the young witches and her mother all on one page difficult. Season 4 Freak Show takes place in 1952 and was filmed in 2014-2015. The plot centers around a freak show in Jupiter, Florida. The leader tries to have a revival of sorts. She wants the fame and recognition she once had back in the day, but the townspeople have negative views of the freaks and only want to destroy them. Season 5 Hotel takes place in present time of 2015. The plot centers around Hotel Cortez in Los Angeles. Those who take residence there are at odds with those who check in and unfortunately never check back out. It doesn’t help that a serial killer is leaving victims for everyone to see. Season 6 Roanake takes place in the present time of 2016. The plot centers around a reenactment of a crime in the Roanoke Colony in North Carolina and then a reality show involving the actors and real-life counterparts. Season 7 Cult takes place in the present time of 2017. The plot centers around citizens living in the small town of Brookfield, Michigan after the results of the 2017 election is announced. There is a clear distinction among the Trump, Clinton, and Stein followers. Reality becomes a twisted knot and distrust becomes synonymous to survival. Season 8 Apocalypse takes place in the present time of 2018. The plot centers around a group of people living in a fallout shelter. It is one shelter among many for those rich enough to afford it. The purpose of living there is uncovered one flashback at a time where the power struggle becomes all too real between good and evil. Season 9 1984 takes place in 1984 and filmed in 2019. The plot centers around Camp Redwood reopening after years of remaining closed. The head counselor demands strict adherence do the rules. Everything is going well until one-by-one, the newly signed on counselors realize their lives are in danger and everyone has something to hide. The order of best to least liked seasons and the reasons why. 1. Freak Show because I have a fascination with circus life and it’s a time where there was so much contradiction. Circus owners made money on the display of human oddities and animal tricks. Families that went to watch them perform had no idea or ignored the mistreatment of performance artists and animals. I really liked the Twisty character for some reason. 2. Cult because the season was nothing what I thought it would be. It turned out to the one of the more cohesive storylines that didn’t stray too much. It wasn’t over the top and while it had flashbacks, they didn’t go out of their way to overstate information. There were more twists and turns in the main story compared to the rest. 3. Hotel because there’s been a reawakening of sorts with serial killers. There’s going to be another Jeffrey Dahmer focused show/movie. The play between alive and dead is done well, and the flashbacks were definitely necessary in this season. It also appealed to me as vampires always brings any story alive if done the right way. 4. Asylum because any sanitarium is not only creepy, but the level of cruelty powerful people dispenses on those with lesser resources. It’s all in the name of religion and is about as corrupt as it gets. 5. 1984 because even though I was a child at the time, I still remember the terrible fashion and hairstyles of the 1980s. This season only solidified the overall bad culture and gave me insight into the true horror young adults went through. The story would have been even better had it not strayed in the end. The first half was great, but the second half was less cohesive in its story. 6. Apocalypse because of the historical elements and representations of good and evil. As with season 5, this one started out with great promise. I was willing to finish it until the end, but it took such an abrupt turn around the corner, that it lost its momentum. The devil with horns can take many forms. There was too much explanation and too many flashbacks. I thought the end was weak. I hope the writers’ refrain from incorporating the witches in season 10. 7. Coven because while it kept my attention, there were parts that were disjointed. It’s been a while since I’ve watched this season. From what I remember, it was a little too high schoolish for me. Nothing really stood out enough to call it one of my top five seasons. 8. Roanoke because it took me two tries to finish the season. I liked parts of it but others I didn’t like. I wasn’t too keen on the whole reality show part of it until it picked up steam. It was an overall okay viewing experience. 9. Murder House because it’s also been a long time since I’ve watched this season. I guess from a realistic standpoint of family squabbles after a tragedy was achieved. I remember the Rubber Man running around at night. I’m wanting to re-watch this season because I’ve forgotten some vital parts. I do like how it ties into season 6.
I rate American Horror Story (all seasons) FOUR FINGERS at 85%.
March 24, 2021: TV Series Recommendation: Lincoln: Divided We Stand (2021)
This six part series started on February 21st and ended on March 21st this year. It begins with Abraham Lincoln as a child and ends with his untimely assassination and the possibilities of a smoother Reconstruction period had he served a second term. This documentary highlights the myths, contradictions, tragedies, and evolution of Lincoln as President of the United States. He never would’ve become president if the Democratic party had been more organized. He never would’ve been president if he had been a mediocre speaker and not able to be politically astute. The legacy of Lincoln is a combination of truth and fiction. The reality of living in a country where the great American experiment is still occurring speaks for itself. Lincoln: Divided We Stand is more than one person trying to hold the Union together. Not everything was done out of the goodness of Lincoln’s heart. He still had a country to run and he still had a war he wanted to win. His own quest for greatness and making a dent into American history came at a cost to family and friends. The life of Mary Todd Lincoln after her husband died was tragic, but so was the state of the country after the war. It’s easy to adopt a mentality of that was then and this is now. I believe parts of America is still dealing with the struggles people faced in the 1800s. Some may disagree but it’s clear the southern states have a higher rate of poverty than any other region in the U.S. To make long lasting changes on a wide scale, it takes more than one person and sometimes more than one effort, but striving for a more perfect union has never stopped.
Lincoln: Divided We Stand gets a rating of Four Fingers and One Thumb at 95%.
March 13,2021: Documentary Recommendation: Made You Look (2020)
What does Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko have in common besides being abstract expressionist painters? Their paintings were all bought by the Knoedler gallery in New York by Ann Freedman and sold for millions of dollars. The only problem was they were fake paintings that led to the discovery of the team of Glafira Rosales as art dealer and Pei-Shen Qian as the painter. It eventually leads to a trial where the major players come into the spotlight including Michael Hammer, Domenico De Sole, José Carlos Bergantiños Díaz, Patty Cohen, Jack Flam, etc., but not everyone is equally to blame in the court system and in the art world. Most everyone was duped by these paintings including family members of the famous painters. Made You Look is directed by Barry Avrich and is one hour and 29 minutes running time. It’s engaging down to the last fake brushstroke and as this documentary shows it takes a special kind of art collector to debate with others how to hang a fake abstract expressionist painting. You can’t make this stuff up even if you tried.
Rating of Made You Look: Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%
February 16, 2021: Amazon Recommendation: The Great Commanders (2003)
The Great Commanders is a Magellan production from 2003. It includes six military leaders of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Horatio Nelson, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ulysses S. Grant, and Georgi Zhukov. It is directed by Phil Grabsky and while some of the graphic reconstructions are simplified, the content is not. Every leader in battle has to innovate and inspire in order to win and in some cases be reckless and exploitative. Whatever their military skills and insights, often the traits that make people great leaders leads to their downfall which is discussed in the series. Not all of the leaders discussed succumbed to this, but all of them were responsible for their actions whether in accolades or punishment. It is evident these great leaders influenced every future leader that came after them.
I give Great Commanders THREE FINGERS of GOOD at 80%.
February 13, 2021: Netflix Docuseries: Nightstalker (2021)
There are some spoilers in this review!
Richard Ramirez Case 101
Richard Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas in 1960 and influenced by his family. He was often surrounded by violence through stories or as a first hand witness with his cousin. Ramirez dropped out of high school in ninth grade and moved to California when he was 22. There he started killing in 1984 in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas until he was caught in 1985. As local police departments were searching for the Night Stalker, given to him by the news media, he continued to outsmart them. There clearly was a serial killer roaming the streets of California. When he was finally caught and charged with murders, attempted murders, sexual assaults, and burglaries in 1989, Ramirez was sentenced to death. While none of this will be too much of a surprise for those who know about the case, this docuseries is excellent in that it also involves the love/hate relationship between media and police as well as the victims’ families. It is rated TV-MA, has four episodes, and is three hours and nine minutes long.
A Stab in the Dark
The good thing about this case is the general human population, the common person, if you will. Most murders and major crimes go unsolved. The percentage of those solved and convicted is pretty small. No wonder why people should rely on themselves first to protect themselves (within reason). When I lived in LA, it took the police two hours to arrive to the apartment for a non violent offense. It took a long time. Now when this guy waving around a machete and threatening people in the apartment complex, they were there in a hurry. It depends on the situation. I bring this up because even the best, brightest, and dedicated police detectives have huge obstacles to overcome. I have no doubt Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno did their best to capture the Night Stalker and yet it took them months to find out his name. Others who met Richard Ramirez in passing comment on his odd behaviors including the police once he was in custody. This includes his trial which he disgustingly played to the camera. I will never understand the appeal of being attracted to a serial killer and to be seen as charming where his followers feel sorry for him. I suppose it’s another type of brainwashing that occurs in society.
Overall View of Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer
It isn’t hard for me to watch this kind of stuff. I will warn you there are some graphic scenes in this docuseries but the cat and mouse game of cop and killer is about as old as peanut butter and jelly. It’s something people find interesting. Los Angeles in the 1980s was a different time than it is today and thankfully his terror on society came to an end in 1985. He had been on death row over 20 years before he died in 2013 at the age of 53. He did not die soon enough for his victims and their families. They were the ones to suffer the most. If anything is learned from Richard Ramirez’s crime spree, it is that sometimes people are influenced to do very bad things and sometimes people are pure evil and not much else.
I rate Night Stalker Four Fingers and One Thumb at PERFECT at 100%.
February 13, 2021: Netflix Recommendation: History of Swear Words (2021)
There’s not much to say about this six episode TV show about swearing. It talks about the history of swearing in culture, entertainment, and in our personal lives. The swear words included are those that adults teach their children is not okay to say. Nicolas Cage is the host where you can see his overacting skills at its finest. There is other commentary by Sarah Silverman, London Hughes, Baron Vaughn, Patti Harrison, and more. There is expert, critic, and author commentary by Benjamin K. Bergen, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Mirelle Miller-Young, Elvis Mitchell, Melissa Mohr, and Kory Stamper. It’s informative and funny at the same time. You find out who swears the most among Hollywood and if you want to find out, you’re going to have to watch it yourself.
I rate History of Swear Words Three Fingers of GOOD at 80%.
January 2, 2021: NETFLIX MOCUMENTARY RECOMMENDATION: DEATH TO 2020 (2020)
After watching Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen get hammered on CNN, this seemed like the fitting end to 2020 on January 1st, 2021. One can’t get enough of 2020, right? The answer is yes you can. However, if you want to laugh at this mockumentary Death to 2020 and realize how old Hugh Grant is now (he’s 60), then this Netflix production is for you. It’s directed by Al Campbell and Alice Mathias. I don’t think I laughed so hard in some parts since the last mockumentary I watched twenty years ago called Best in Show. It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Lisa Kudrow, Kumail Nanjiani, Tracey Ullman, Samson Kayo, Leslie Jones, Diane Morgan, Cristin Milloti, Joe Keery, Laurence Fishburne, Angelo Irving, and move. It is rated TV-MA and is one hour and 10 minutes long. Critic reviews didn’t like it but regular viewers rated it similar to mine. The bottom line is it poked at the dumpster fire 2020 really was and the average person liked it enough to watch it as did I.
I rate Death to 2020 Three Fingers of GOOD at 80%.