Friday, November 6, 2020

Quick Reviews: Shows I Watched In Lockdown (Part 2)

Since the Coronavirus lockdown started earlier this year, there's been more time to watch new television shows and revisit some of my older faves. I didn't think there would be so much time to watch as many series as I have so far, or that we'd be eight months later since March still trying to get control of the Coronavirus fall-out. 

Below are my quick (mostly disappointed) reviews of shows I watched over the summer. Spoilers are included for The Office, Ratched, The Boys, Lovecraft Country, and Watchmen.

The Office (rewatch)

I started to re-watch The Office to subdue a wave of panic attacks. I mostly catch random episodes in the background, and haven't watched it from the beginning since the series initially aired. I'm still working my way through the series, but it's fun to see it evolve. Not only is the camera blocking impeccable, but the cast brought something different to every character. Steve and Rainn's chemistry, in particular, is iconic and a shame they both never won an Emmy. And I love watching Jim and Pam's relationship evolve again. There are a few storylines I would change, but it's still one of my all-time faves. I appreciated reconnecting with this right now.

Ratched

Mildred Ratched is hired at the Lucia State Hospital under the guise of helping Dr. Hanover manage his patients but she has far more nefarious plans hidden up her sleeve.

Ya'll know, I love Sarah Paulson. But I did not like this series and praise this review endlessly. As a spin-off, I expected it to depart from One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest, but the depth of Louise Fletcher's performance of Nurse Ratched is why the character has endured for long as it has. Her coldness to her patients and her power grabs at the asylum is what makes her compelling. You really don't know why she's a villain until you truly think about it. Ratched doesn't give two peaches about that - it introduces characters, makes sensationalist backstories, and then kills them off -among so many other issues. Sarah is usually fantastic in everything, but I felt she was given and gave herself (she serves as executive producer) nothing original or captivating to work with. And I expected much more than the rest of the cast as well - the only one I walked away loving was Judy Davis.

According to Cynthia Nixon in an interview, Mildred and Gwendolyn were meant to have a outcome and requested changes. I'm glad they did because the recent tropes and trends are tiring. I was so happy about decent lesbian representation played by queer women, and that oyster scene left me speechless. I can't believe this is getting a second season, but if they're together and relatively happy, I will fast-forward to their scenes.
Rating:☆☆☆

This doesn't deserve a gif.

The Boys

A group of superheroes take over the modern world as human rights ambassadors, movie stars, and everything in-between. 

This lost me in the first episode after the Wonder Woman clone was sidelined and a second female character was killed. When Starlighter was sexually assaulted, I checked out. From then on, almost every "twist" became painfully predictable. The tropes are cringe-worthy. I heard somewhere along the way there is an attempt at exploring bi-erasure with superhero characters, but I don't trust the show to handle that tactfully...so it's an overall discount version of Watchmen to me- both the HBO series and the graphic novel/Zak Snyder movie. I don't even know how much I watched of it just for Karl Urban.

Rating:☆☆☆



Lovecraft Country

Inspired by the book by Matt Ruff, Korean War veteran Atticus "Tic" Freeman traces a trail of ancient magic in his bloodline to fight off the racist terrors of white America.

In the beginning, it was fun to ride the rollercoaster ride of genres between fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. As the story progressed, the series struggled to blend the tones between Misha Green, J.J.Abrams, and Jordan Peele. I could tell, or felt like I could tell, who had input over special effects, suspense, or contemporary elements because they varied so drastically. I also loved the characters at first, but then they lacked consistent development, the mythology spiraled all over the place, and everything from real events to queerness gradually dropped into the series without a lot of nuance. These two reviews explain my frustration better than I can. The cast (especially Jurnee and Jonathan), costume design, production, symbolism and representation, and use of music/speeches, etc. gave a unique departure from movies and tv shows set in the 1950s. It had some fantastic scenes and performances, but overall left a lot to be desired.

Rating: ★1/2☆☆

Watchmen

An an alternative version of the graphic novel, Angela Abar, a Tulsa Police detective and undercover vigilante contends with plots to kidnap Doctor Manhattan and the rise of a white supremacist group.

Watchmen took advantage of an alternative storyline from the graphic novel and built its own world-building that was both different yet fit what Alan Moore created - despite how much he disapproved of the series. The performances were simply fantastic across the board (Regina King and Jeremy Irons, in particular). While I think the show could've delved more into James Wolk and the Seventh Kalvary, the series focused more on the original group to establish them to explore everything going on today and the past - the Tulsa race massacre, reparations, history of white supremacy, etc. All of those things on their own were effective and seamless. None of the episodes wasted or lost sight of the series' arc. Typically, I loathe ambiguous endings because they don't even felt earned, but this one did. Even though it came out in 2019, it's a stand-out for me this year.

Rating: ★★★

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