BeneCumb

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Reviews

The Flight Attendant
(2020)

Rather good and has its moments - but its benchmark is unrealistic
I was rather surprised when I read that the Series is based on a well-received book from 2018... I mean, what kind of air operator has nowadays people with such habits and background as their flight attendants, and even in Business Class?! Persons with drinking problems, promiscuous lifestyle, unstable nerves are a strong security risk on many levels.

Having said that and if not paying attention to this, the course of events is rather pleasant, with alternating fun and sorrow, with catchy use of flashbacks with a certain leading character included... Kaley Cuoco is up to her task (perhaps sometimes too much prevailing on screen), but there are several other pleasant performances providing additional value to this Series (using international cast; well, ladies, however, have catchier roles). Not all episodes arise equal interest and some twists are wtf! Ones, but it is definitely not a flop, as providing some distinct approaches and solutions.

Trigger Point
(2022)

Too protracted and too much focused on a single person
True, Vicky McClure is talented and she has had several pleasant roles and performances in thriller series (e.g. Line of Duty, Broadchurch), but in a teamwork - as modern sophisticated crimes are not solved by a single individual any more.

Well, Lana Washington is part of a team as well, even a leader, but the camera is too much on her and even her co-workers are some gophers around that you hardly remember their faces... The plot has its twists, but the outcome is often airy-fairy - as even laymen know how widespread and thorough are nowadays security (background) checks. The creators have evidently also thought that dedicating many minutes for defusing a bomb is thrilling to most of viewers - in fact, it is rather boring and protracting as it is unlikely that the leading character gets killed...

In general, Trigger Point is more than average, but not much - for a British series.

Hidden Assets
(2021)

International dimension adds thrill, but does not remove certain aridity in full
Plus the finance aspects of this plot are too complex for laymen to grasp and the "big guns" behind all this mess could have been surmised long before the round-up and finale. Some viewers apparently miss chases and shootings, but modern crime is more over Internet and current approaches are not too keen on catching wrongdoers "heavily" in urban areas...

True, the performances are good (main cast ladies in particular), the Irish and Belgian approaches and differences nicely visible, but the number of scenes and storylines not providing additional value was somewhat big. On the other hand, Season 2 may follow, and I will probably find time for that - as many aspects remained unsolved and the ending scenes were not ultimate.

The Responder
(2022)

Apparently realistic, but too much focused on one character
Plus the thing that Martin Freeman just excels all the others, there is not enough worthy confrontation; perhaps just Ian Hart as Carl can bring deserved intensity to their relationship. E.g. Emily Fairn and Josh Finan have realistic looks, but their line and link are less elaborated.

Well, the mood and issues are well captured, and as mentioned, Freeman as Chris is really good. The Series includes several moments characteristic to Nordic Noir, but gloominess and pessimism are too much intertwined. Is it everything so messed up in the British police and under maintenance of law and order? Too small competition or too much politics to be considered resulting in less competent staff and diminished safety?

All in all, not bad, but BBC One could deliver more teamwork-series (although last years have brought along several crime dramas focused on one character/performance - but this field is never a single-person one).

HPI: Haut Potentiel Intellectuel
(2021)

Particularly worth watching due to Audrey Fleurot
/refers to Season 1/

Mrs. Fleurot is a really versatile actress, I have seen her in several other series (Engrenages, Un village français, Safe, etc.) and here she is so different - not frigid, not serious, but frivolous and careless... And she steals the show in every episode, even Mehdi Nebbou (a good actor as well) is not totally fitting/merited companion to her.

The cases are of different smoothness, but yet with twists, and even if you figure out the wrongdoer soon, there is always something behind until almost the very end. All in all, 8 points from me - 9 for Fleurot´s performance and 7 for script (realism included). And I am looking forward to Season 2.

Jack Taylor
(2010)

In spite of several cliches, still catchy to follow
At present, the so-called locality series are well known, but 10+ years ago their number was not so big. Here, we see Galway in its glory and misery (mostly the latter), meaning that the venue is a solid supporting cast, emphasizing the gravity of crimes and the demons of the main characters...

Ian Glen is great, with Killian Scott and Nora-Jane Noone also pleasantly creating multiple giggling moments and thus adding rays to gloominess (well, I was not too happy with their replacements in Season 3, so I regard this season weaker than 1 and 2).

The cases are not evenly meaty and interesting, but even you can guess the wrongdoer, the other events add sophisticated nuances; thus, Jack Taylor episodes are not just about solving the case, but providing multi-layered perceptions of Galway and its inhabitants, mostly of those with several issues, including related to physical and mental health. Living in a periphery in bad weather and booze available is often challenging...

Man in Room 301
(2019)

Compared to several other Finnish crime series, just mediocre
Usually, the Nordic nations are masters of thrill and suspense, with static meaning not boring, but here, in spite of a promising starting point, it becomes protracted soon, with too heavy dominance of burden and oppression. Perhaps the number of episodes could have been less (4, for instance), some confusing twists added, and the round-up less sophisticated. The characters and performances not too elaborate either...

Finland has produced several interesting crimes series, e.g. Sorjonen or Karppi. Alas, Huone 301 is long behind of them.

Il giovane Montalbano
(2012)

Great spin-off -- and I watched it before "the real Montalbano"
Being a fan of UK and Scandinavian police/crime series in the main, I try to widen my horizons and see what other countries tend to offer in the similar area. So I was somewhat referred to this series - and it captivated me from the beginning. Another so-called locality-based series, where the crime or its solution itself are not of the main importance, but the charisma of the characters-performers and local touch influence the viewers most. I did not have a joy of recognition as I have never visited Sicily, but the pleasant environment and landscape were a nice supporting cast. Later, when watching Il commissario Montalbano, the events and past depicted here provided a solid background understanding.

As this Series and particularly the leading character and performance were so pleasant, it took me some time later to get accustomed to Luca Zingaretti´s Montalbano. And I still find several characters more interesting here (e.g. Mimi or Catarella).

And now, well, I would really like to visit Sicily...

When Heroes Fly
(2018)

Another strong series coming from Israel
In spite of recurring topics and performers as well as apparently one-track approach, this is also a series (in addition to e.g. Fauda, Bnei Aruba, Hit&Run) that caught my attention from the beginning to the end (the inclusion of a distant foreign country, Colombia, just added thrill and dynamism). All the leading performers are also up to their task, with the distress past and present well depicted, without become too effusive.

Well, the ones with far deeper knowledge of Israel may find more oddities, including as regards to the end, but I found Bishvila Giborim Afim to be another solid stone of the Israeli modern television.

Ripper Street
(2012)

Seemingly realistic and natural BBC historical crime series
/refers to all seasons and episodes/

Being fond of crime thrillers, I am often keen on watching and comparing how lift went on in previous eras, how crimes were committed and solved without using modern scientific and technological achievements. So, Ripper Street was a series I decided to dedicate my time on, and I was not disappointed. Different and apparently realistic venue, mix of real and fictitious characters, mostly catchy cases when the wrongdoer was not evident at once, or if was, then the process of catching him or her was pleasantly constructed.

True, sometime the "love and hate" of the leading characters was alternating too abruptly, but then the fine performances enabled to smoothen it (all the main and most additional cast were convincingly presented, pity that some of them were killed rather early and it took some time to get used to the new ones, e.g. Their killers). Last season was somehow slower and less elaborated, but at least the work was finalised with a logical ending.

Invisible Heroes
(2019)

Rather good (particularly considering the production countries), but alas one-track creation
The Series is based on real events, which I was not aware of (well, I had some knowledge of the political events in Chile in 1973, but not of the role of the Finnish Embassy), but the depiction is largely as a ball into a single goal - it is known at present that Allende´s regime was not too progressive either, with several gross mistakes in several areas...

Anyway, the Finns and Chileans have jointly created an interesting work to follow, and the leading performances are good and the Spanish they speak sounds decent in my ears (true, when visible, Mikael Persbrandt as Harald Edelstam steals the show). In my opinion, the true events hold the run of events in a plausible manner, with leftist sympathies stressed not distractingly, but still is somehow lacked the depth as in e.g. Argo or some other films or series where there role of an embassy alternates under turbulent times.

Rocco Schiavone
(2016)

Pleasant, often humorous depiction of "atypical" Italy
/refers to all 4 Seasons and episodes/

Well, I mean, no constant sunshine, lambent sea, people with a few sexy clothes, but high snowy mountains, cold and moisture - this is Aosta, almost Switzerland, far away from Rome, a real hinterland... But crimes occur there as well, although not often, so the personnel is not too gifted and experienced. So Mr. Schiavone (splendidly performed by Marco Giallini, who was before unknown to me) has to deal with both current crimes and his "demons" from the past, sometimes helped by some dubious childhood friends and balancing on a thin line of right and wrong...

In spite of some evident exaggerations in depicting some officials, the Series is pleasant to watch, gloomy crimes are stressed by the bad weather, and the wrongdoer is not revealed too soon. Schiavone´s past enables to include leitmotifs in addition to the cases to be solved (usually 1 per episode), thus being part of the modern, 21st century approach and moving beyond Poirot-Wallander type of series.

Mirage
(2020)

French meal in the U.S. sauce... Or vice versa
And all this is served in Abu Dhabi with a German touch... Should/could be something for everyone, but the result is another thriller where renegades and "unsophisticated" specialists attempt to avoid a disaster. As often in (mostly) U. S. series, lenient people become heroes overnight, getting ready for chases and weapons within some hours, and viewers are "confused" using mysterious events and clips from the past... The venue was evidently chosen for their contribution to the series budget :) - although it is exotic and beautiful and makes many to (re)visit the Emirates again.

As for the cast, most performers were unknown to me, except Grégory Fitoussi, but even his role was too ordinary. The leading performances were not too impressive and several characters did not bring additional value to the Series (e.g. Zack and his teen friends). Thus, Mirage has some kind of entertaining value and 6 episodes is not too long, but as there are hundreds of more interesting related series out there, it is not a creation that brings you wow! On novel effects.

Hit & Miss
(2012)

Bold and intriguing, with great performances, but several airy-fairy plot elements
Particularly regarding guardianship and related family matters - as the events take place this century, when the UK was a member of the EU where those topics have (too) strict supervision and conditions. How a person with multiple identities and trying to avoid authorities, including police, in any way, is given custody right to minors? When the family itself is in need of improved care and living conditions? Plus a disturbed adult relative around children...

Oddity No. 2 - police invisibility following Mia´s "jobs". In the UK, in a relatively small surroundings, almost daily murders totally neglected by any authority?

Having said all that, I really enjoyed most of the performances, particularly Chloë Sevigny as Mia and Jorden Bennie as Ryan. The plot itself, including alternate tragic and comic moments, bring the viewers to an ambivalent ending, somehow promising the Season 2, but still never realised.

All in all, when you let yourself carry away with the events and concentrating on performances, you will have a rather pleasant experience. But for me, the evident lack of realism was often a disconcerting factor.

Giri/Haji
(2019)

A pleasant UK-Japanese cooperation result
In spite of "necessary" cliches prevailing in the Series (Yakuza, above all), the depiction of circumstances and human relations is realistic, and the touch of both countries and comprehensions is clearly visible. True, there are some excessive scenes and characters and odd moments in the relationships between parents-children, but the thrill is maintained and "good guys cry and die too". The performances are also good, obtaining the necessary chemistry or aversion depending on the characters, and the plot is dominated by the "famous" ones who tend to steal the show. Will Sharpe won BAFTA for being Rodney, yet his role caused rather many ambivalent feelings...

Well, bearing in mind the BBC presence, I would have expected a more sophisticated round-up, but it is still more okay than in e.g. Most US series where good guys win everything in a clear manner.

Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators
(2018)

Another solid BBC production
A pleasant locality-based one ("promoting" Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare) where the crimes depicted / in need of solving are not too multilevel, but still enabling to reveal the skills and talents of a former detective and former hairdresser, with a want-to-be actor as their assistant and secretary... Their trio is often funny and in solving their cases they meet a lot of strange people and occur in funny situations, but it is to my liking that deaths and misery are never depicted in a comic manner.

As for the performers, they are much up to their task, although the leading ones they were unknown to me (I consider myself a frequent follower of BBC crime series, thus rather surprising). The Series also includes more famous actors in supporting cast, providing a certain steadiness yet freshness into the episodes. Well, on the other hand, you start to watch them more closely as famous ones do not die soon or they are directly involved in offences...

Anyway, a recommended series.

Kriger
(2018)

Not too good -- as for a Danish series
Well, Denmark has its own issues with gangs, but really to such a degree that people are harassed and killed almost in the centre? The army mission related stuff is not novel as well, it has been a topic in several and catchier creations in Denmark... But the thrill in Kriger is somehow maintained and the events-scenes (although lopsided at times) take the viewer to the logical ending - but without any wow! Effect.

It seems to me that the primary goal of this Series was to provide Dar Salim, Danica Curcic and Lars Ranthe to perform protagonist roles (they have been usually cast into supporting roles). Here, Ranthe in the role of a gang leader was most to my liking, he has mostly performed positive/mild characters in other series.

So, Kriger is not a must see, but if you like to know about as much as Nordic crime series as possible, it is definitely not with a warning "Do not watch!" :)

Cambridge Spies
(2003)

BBC comes up to scratch even when depicting painful/shameful parts of British history
I had heard and read about Kim Philby, of course, but not of the other ones, plus I was not aware of their past and story of formation. Realistic atmosphere, motives well explained and logical, vices and virtues of the protagonists, etc. - everything depicted in a skilful manner. And, of course, the performances, particularly Tom Hollander as Guy Burgess, but also the others - convincing, stylish, but also showing dangers of "elite" and closed communities where depravities are so easy to emerge and develop.

In retrospect, one may ponder on and over how the British authorities were so naive, but, on the other hand, it was an era without much technology and funding to deal with "the own"...

O2
(2020)

Finally a good spy film from Estonia
And based on real events... The atmosphere of the 1930ies is captured well, performances are convincing, particularly Priit Võigemast as Feliks Kangur - well, the whole well-written plot is about-around him, there are really few scenes without his presence. The events develop smoothly and everything is nicely rounded up, although some deuteragonists seemed excessive and/or their inclusion remained unexplained.

Should be especially interesting for those familiar with Tallinn.

Ojing-eo geim
(2021)

Good? Yes. Conceptional? No...
The usage of children games in an adult world is catchy, but the realism behind all this is somewhat shaky - South Korea is no "Wild West" and one can hardly think of events like this happening there, with so large body count... The idea of fierce contests with elimination has been utilised before, plus it is hard to maintain a thrill when there are leading performers from the beginning apparently not dying before the end...

Underplots are not too elaborate and they tend to "mince" the main plot. Luckily, this anti-capitalist idea is not overhanging too much. The number of episodes could be less, but some good twists in the final one elevated the thrill that began to fade away in e.g. Episodes 7 and 8.

However, the performances are interesting, so different for the Western ones, how they react and how they depict, with men more versatile though. Lee Jung-jae and O Yeong-su were most to my liking, the latter providing a nice twist towards the end as well...

Season 2 might be underway - based on the ending scenes... I would probably watch it as well. But not impatient though.

The Chestnut Man
(2021)

Heartrending and thrilling - in spite of some cliches
Another solid creation based on an apparently solid book (well, I had/have not read it, although by famous Søren Sveistrup, and with the prior knowledge of the wrongdoer most of the thrill would be gone, it is no Hamlet or similar, come on! :)) Some scenes were probably excessive and some motives were motivated vaguely, but the story develops and some twists create necessary confusion for not guessing the wrongdoer too early. The multiple finalisation was to my liking as well.

The cast is uneven, however, some TOP10 Danish actors not in leading roles (as for one, it is grounded since Episode 5), and with female leads not too impressive, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as Mark Hess is the most convincing police. It seems that the creators wanted not to overexpose the most famous actors who sometimes seem to participate in every interesting series :)

Another "must", if you are fond of Nordic Noir and lots of distress within crimes.

Professor T.
(2015)

Belgians have excelled themselves in the Nordic approach
In spite of potential unreality and exaggeration (I am not sure that a person like that could be in contact with young people and assist authorities nowadays), but the concept and its realisation are really distinct. True, the cases are not equally interesting, but when the wrongdoer could be guessed in advance, there is always a twist in his-her motive and some aspect the viewer (as well as the police) was unable to ascertain...

The gem of this Series is undoubtedly Koen de Bouw - he is really something, so different from his other performances; I have also briefly looked at remake trailers and must state that no other actor in the role of Professor T. Is up to this task. Plus, here my another favourite was Goele Derick as Ingrid Sneyers. Well, the remaining cast was good as well, though I was not fond of certain replacements in Seasons 2 and 3... As for the latter, I disagree with those claiming that Season 3 is worse or unnecessary, I find it pleasant change of venues and skilful roundup of the story, no hasty finish due to less viewers, lack of funds, etc.

Thus - 10 points for performances and depiction of "crazy moments", 8 for the smoothness - 9 in total. Good work!

Hvide Sande
(2021)

Rather pleasant locality-based series, not conceptual though
Last decade or so has seen the rise of Scandinavian series where events occur in a smaller area or community, (e.g. Morden i Sandhamn, Sommerdahl) where beautiful local landscape and dense human contacts have a different approach than in cities or international communication, plus enabling less known actors to star.

Hvide Sande is another example of this, where the beauty of Jutland West Coast is revealed and the solving of the crime itself is not the primary reason for the Series. The plot is yet not too smooth, with several cliches, and I can´t say that the leading performers provided wow-performances (at times, it was funnier to watch the dog... :)) But as the motives of the crime itself and the round-up were interesting and I did not guess the wrongdoer, I can easily rate it with 7 points.

PS Such series are apparently meant to boost tourism - not a single rainy day in the Series (as in Sommerdahl)) but those who have lived-visited Denmark, even in summer, know that it is a big exception :)

Vigil
(2021)

Better than expected
True, BBC is a sign of quality but I am usually not into events happening mostly in confined vehicles (e.g. Submarines, spaceships)... But the story captivated me from the beginning and the final scenes in each episode made an urge to watch the next one immediately...

True, the plot is not always smooth, with some questionable moments and politically correct approaches as well as plain ending, but the cast is great, particularly Shaun Evans as Elliot Glover - so different from Endeavour - but also the ladies´ couple is pleasant. And as I did not guess the "veritable" wrongdoer, this Series was definitely to my liking.

Secret City
(2016)

Quite good, with Season 2 catchier than 1
I tend to be an admirer of British and Scandinavian crime/thriller TV, but from time to time I decide to broaden my horizon and see what other further countries can offer and how they have evolved in this field. I cannot even remember my last Australian series or film before this and I am unable to recall events taking place in Canberra (well, it seems a beautiful city) instead of customary Sydney...

Season 1 started off a bit confusingly, with jobs and relations becoming evident late, but then the script began to roll and Harriet Dunkley (Anna Torv) is a pleasant "lady in the middle" of all the events. True, I often got the feeling that Australia is a small country where "major" people know each other and institutions are small, but still... :)

Season 2 has more and more versatile side-/subplots with nice twists, but there is no distinct supporting cast as Damon Herriman as Kim Gordon... Apart from this, it is interesting to follow what topics and which countries are important to this distant country. So, I rate this Series 8 points instead of 7 I would have given to a similar British or Scandinavian series (some storylines seemed redundant and some thrill more characteristic to a country with severe corruption issues).

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