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Reviews

The Good Fight: The Gang Deals with Alternate Reality
(2020)
Episode 1, Season 4

A premiere which bet high, raised the bar and showed high esteem for the viewer's intelligence!
I agree with the remarks of several favorable reviewers here.

For much that I've always loved this show, this premiere astonished me with a fantastic twist in the narrative and lifted the memory left by the third season's finale.

The complexities of the "Possible Conjectural in Politics" are shown through the lenses of an alternate reality (a very clever narrative choice) but with a nuanced and smart turn.

Diane slides from the immediate, emotional, almost childish elation of the political "fanactivist", to a more reflected assessment of the contradictions and costs involved in the protection of the greater good. The dramatic transition from her embrace of the alternate reality to the suspicion of being into a dream, to her waking up marks a high point in the episode!

Old political dilemmas shown through a masterclass of screenwriting and direction with a permanent wink to the viewers' intelligence. I love this show and I celebrate that they have raised the bar with this new season!

De Twaalf
(2019)

Fantastic performances, storytelling and pace! A second season would be great!
I found this series fascinating. The story is delivered in different time frames, so we follow the case in court while some flashbacks drop hints or revelations about what really happened.

There is thrill and suspense until the very end, and the last episode is really nerve wrecking and emotionally painful. I will not include spoilers here, but the ending leaves much room for reflection about guilt, justice, truth and retribution.

Every single performance here is outstanding, and the storytelling proceeds at a superb pace, with a remarkable balance between what is revealed and what is withheld.

The story goes beyond the case and extends to the transformative effects of the procedure in the lives of the jurors and their families, as well as the impact their private experiences have in the way they finally will vote for or against absolution.

If a second season of the story comes out with a follow up of the eventsl, I will be the first to watch it! Strongly recommended show for genre lovers!

Succession
(2018)

EXTRA-ORDIN-ARY!! Masterclass of performative talent, direction, scriptwriting and... MUSIC!
Everything in this show is fantastic. Second season is even best than the first, if this could be possible.

From the mesmerizing title score by Nicholas Brittell (Chopin of the 21st century) to the tremendous, really tremendous performance by Brian Cox (he deserves every award for his composition of Roy Logan). But then every character... I had never watched Jeremy Strong before, and I have to say his Kendall is, as another reviewer said here, tragically fascinating both with empathy and pity. Kudos! And Nicholas Braun as grandnephew Craig-Greg is a most welcome box of surprises (is he a naive fast-learner making his way through the game, or a machiavellic master chess player?) The casting people have made an impeccable, perfect choice for every character in the show.

Very complex characters, intriguing plot even with the cards on the table, outstanding pace. Don't miss this show redolent of quality, skill, intelligence and theatrical tension. Some of the episodes have been remarkable jaw-droppers!

La Casa de Papel
(2017)

Disappointed about 3rd season, which is basically people shouting and top-volume music
All things which were alluring in seasons 1 and 2 (8 or 9/10) have disappeared in this new season coming out of the Netflix Meat-Mincer Machine (they do this with every successful show, once they take over, as in Lilyhammer, for instance). The seductive presence of the Professor, always composed, with his razor-mind always one step ahead of things, now has turned into a conventional man heading a theft as many others. The very well paced and interesting relationship with the hostages now has become sparse, thinner and less relevant. The cliches and flagship gestures which were innovative in the previous seasons now seem an overcooked repetition of resources in a less effective context. The fascinating cat-mouse liaison between the Professor and the Inspector now has been replaced by the typical bedroom rows and marital power quarrels. And then the disgusting, terribly acted pregnant detective, what was that character mean to add? In any case, she hasn't done it.

Instead of the good things, they have injected the show with a contemporary American idea of what "action" means: frantic, blasting music overscoring every dialogue and every scene at top volume (you have to turn it down and up every minute because it's really bothersome) and frantic people shouting their lungs out at every sentence. No nuances, no finesse this time.

Also, the "ideology" element and the politically correct agenda seem so force-fed and poorly justified that they make you sigh. Didn't they know that powerful countries tortured people before Rio's detention? Didn't they care until then?

Rodrigo de la Serna saves the day with his excellent performance as usual. But the rest is a disappointment.

Metod
(2015)

A noir love story as intense and fascinating as it gets... in a setting of Russian police, nuthouses and serial killers
This is a love story. Don't let the crimes fool you. And what a Shakespearean love story! Amazing! Really surprising in the best way!

You'll watch a mini-series with all the tragic excesses, character development and intensity of Russian drama, if you accept that in a timeline of 16 episodes all the pervert, diabolical, schizophrenic and depraved serial killers of Russia happen to act in a row, in a non-stop spree of murder with all its ingredients. In this sense, it's cartoon-like and it reminded me of the old Batman TV show in the 60s, with the carousel of villains and the fascinating dynamics among the two detectives. But it is also a fantastic and enthralling drama about psyche, identity, good and evil.

Deep but with lots of action. Noir but with sexual tension. Philosophical but gripping. And very well acted!

There are flashbacks from the start, and the action goes back from the present to the past with an intriguing puzzle which you will only clarify at the end, and with a twist.

The performances are brilliant, and the narrative builds up very well from the first chapter, which is 7/10, until you get hooked with Rodion Meglin and Esenya, her origins and their stories full of holes and dotted lines to follow. It's a pity that the story ends at the last episode, as I could have watched Meglin forever. These guys know when to end things at their height...

MotherFatherSon
(2019)

Modern Shakespearean story. It gets better as the episodes go by
I don't understand the harsh reviews. It is a solid show, with a heavy, intense, highly dramatic and climactic story where intrafamilial, transgenerational drama intertwins with high politics, high media and high-tech espionage. Although the first episodes seem a bit too excessive and complex, as the chapters go by the dust sets a little and you start to get where this comes from, although not where it goes (I am on chapter 5 so far). The performances are really intense and brilliant (McCrory is a shining actress), and yes, sometimes it gets a bit over the top, but the story is a modern Shakespearean drama, with a monstrous father who has also been a victim and is keen on creating an improved version of a young monster in his own adult child. I have found it to be intriguing, passionate and well paced.

Shetland
(2013)

Brilliant, intriguing suspense! Prepare to love Jimmy Perez, the opposite of the corrupt, dark, tormented detective! This is noir with humanity!
There are few detective stories where the main character is not only a deductive, sharp-minded person, but also an honest, justice-loving, decent guy without a tormented past, or weaknesses, or complex moral contradictions. (I think of Foyle, who is also such a good guy and father, or Lewis, also in this vein.)

Here we have Jimmy Perez, which is so well performed and written that you simply fall for him and his humanity, though the cases often portray damaged people or bitter crimes.

I always say farewell to each season eagerly waiting for next year, so we can resume our tremendously pleasant and thrilling engagement with Shetland, their people and the characters in this show.

Plus the landscapes and the atmosphere, which are enthralling and make you yearn for the place even if you've never been there.

It is not a fast-action show, but very thrilling with a brilliant management of suspense, the whole who-dunnit thing and the gradual unveiling of the truth shared by the team. If you like detective series, really give it a try. It deserves a huge audience!

Vera
(2011)

I can't get enough of Vera! Superb in every regard! Add Morse to Miss Marple and you get this jewel
I am now into Season 9.

My faithfulness to Vera is unending, and I truly hope we'll have Vera for many years to come.

Why? Because it is a flawless crime drama, with perfectly written and directed episodes (one case per chapter) which keep suspense and tension in the exact degree without descending to using cheap tricks. It portrays realistic, believable and lovable characters (despite their failures), which are exceptionally well performed by the whole cast (Brenda Blethyn, come on, what a tremendous actress!). It avods many cliches which sometimes turn detective shows rancid and exhaust the genre lovers. The atmosphere, cinematography and photography are fascinating.

But the strongest of it all is... Vera! There is not a single detail which does not ooze «character building» in itself.The way she plays with the suspects brandishing her old-lady-neighbour «luvs» and «pets» to feign simplicity and proximity; her Perramus, dresses, stockings and hat... (a manifesto in themselves); the relationship with her sargeant; her relentless wit and alert mind as a crouching cat entrapping the mouse... The balance between a cold scalpel-mind and a sensitive, sensible heart. It is a festival for detective and crime shows fans!

One of the most remarkable suspense shows in Brit TV since 2011! A must see! Long life to Vera Stanhope and to dame Blethyn!

No Offence
(2015)

Fantaaaaaastic! What a surprise! Twisted humour, gritty stories, unusual smart-ass boss!
This took me by surprise. I didn't expect any of this. I thought it was a conventional detective, procedural series. And I was very delightfully impressed. The storyline is original, gritty, very well developed in terms of thriller and crime situations. The humor is really great, twisted but really refreshing. But the best of it, the characters! A very welcome show!

Le Bureau des Légendes
(2015)

As brilliant as it gets. The best spy series ever, and it keeps getting better every season!
I cannot praise this show enough. I agree with other reviewers on the high bar this show sets for the genre. It is the French Homeland, but more credible, low-keyed and deeper.

Everything distills quality here: a really, really superb script which is intelligent, sensible and gripping to the end; extraordinary characterisation and performances from the main to the last character; tremendous production and attention to detail; credible information about the metier; an impeccable direction which keeps extreme suspense and intrigue, only without the flamboyant, explosive special effects so inevitable in American series, but it is still very action- and field-oriented.

Season 4 is really fantastic, it has not decayed in the least. The addition of Mathieu Amalric makes an extra bonus, with the talent he brings to fore in every performance. Marie-Jeanne acquires more weight in the show in the most positive sense. Florence Loiret Caille is such a superb, nuanced actress! And the priceless Kassowits recreates his complex Malotru, the antihero always full of surprises which you respect, admire and love as the seasons go by. He is the perfect spinal cord for the show.

In short, this is the most exciting show in the year. I really hope it will maintain the high quality and the cast in years to come, to the delight of all the genre lovers. Kudos to everyone involved in the production!

Innocente
(2016)

Poor performances. Far-fetched and implausible storyline. Nothing remarkable in this series
Compared to the array of brilliant French TV shows which you can watch these days, this series doesn't stand out as anything remarkable. It is not terrible, but the weaknesses really show while you watch.

Firstly, there are too many far-fetched situations which defy the spectator's credibility. The storyline is frankly implausible, and nothing really happens that way in real life, not once but twice! Every single character has an implausible behaviour and there is no rationality or sense behind their actions. I will not go into detail here for spoiler reasons, but it happens every ten minutes.

The performances are very lame, without real talent; all of the actors seem to consider that performing art consists of making obvious faces. I didn't find Julie de Bona outstanding at all; on the contrary, I couldn't believe her acting in any of the six episodes. The same goes for the implausible inspector, whose terminal illness comes and goes without any explanation or justification in the story. A transfer would have been a more credible situation.

In short, this show will not leave a lasting mark in French or police procedural TV records. It is quite mediocre and hard to believe, and you could devote six hours of watching time to much better productions in the genre.

Rocco Schiavone
(2016)

Lovable guy, well developed plots, alluring, perhaps with too much resemblance to Montalbano
You cannot refer to this show without bringing in Montalbano.The strong and the weak aspects are quite related to Andrea Camillieri's character, in a way.

Schiavone is as lovable, picturesque and local as its predecessor. Rocco and Salvo are both quite effective, earnest, individualistic detectives, remarkably better than their peers, with a strong commitment to put the evil guys in jail, but a penchant for overstepping boundaries and taking justice in their own hands.(This is a cliche in many detective shows, right.)

They both have a neurotic behaviour in terms of love relationships which renders them unable to commit in real terms to an actual partnership.

They both work in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape-- seaside Vigata in the south, in the case of Salvo, and northern snowbound Aosta in Rocco's case. In both series, the landscape and scenery have a major role to play.

They both work in a small town questura (police station) with similar teams, where smart, loyal juniors (Pierron / Fazio) coexist with the funny crew of clueless, dumbass agents. These (D'Intino / Catarella) bring out the worst of their bosses, exasperate them to death, but also infuse some comedy relief into the gritty, sordid cases. And when they turn to do things right, it is always despite themselves. (Both Catarella and D'Intino have something on with their bosses' doors, which is quite funny, by the way.)

Both Rocco and Salvo swear, throw things and lose temper as a hallmark, women find them irresistible in their low-key flirty ways, they tend to be in conflict with procedural propriety, and they look the other way when rules contradict their natural sense of justice. Also, they both have a similar bromance with their boastful and genius pathologists, who are strong characters in themselves...

Lovers of Italian crime shows will soon recognize more similarities in both series.

However, there is a female bright young detective here instead of Mimi Augello as a sidekick, and Rocco goes farther than Salvo in his troublesome behaviour. He is a heavy weed-smoker (an early joint at the office is his "morning prayer"), a Robin Hood to thieves, and has a heavier dark past upon his shoulders. The relationship with his band of crazy friends is a nice parallel story, and the acting is superb, really fantastic. Makes you fall in love from the very first episode.

(Rocco's relationship to his wife has already been developed in Bron/Broen last seasons, and has similarities to River plotline, so it was a bit of a deja-vu for European crime shows fans.)

In short, if the cliches and resemblance to Montalbano doesn't bother you too much, there is a lot to enjoy in this first season of six, 100-minutes episodes. It is a lovely show, well developed and produced, remarkably well performed, and very entertaining.

Hidden
(2018)

Frankly compelling, suspenseful, brightly interpreted and well produced! Excellent!
Craith is a slow-paced, but highly suspenseful crime puzzle involving:

  • an electrifying serial killer storyline (I found some reminiscences of the Silence of the Lambs),
  • a damaged, twisted criminal
  • a succesive unveiling of more victims spanning from the past to the present,
  • a low-key but persistent female sleuth (memorable interpretation!)
  • a rich focus on complicated family dynamics (both in the lives of the criminal and the detective).
  • a beautiful, dark, forest scenery.
  • Ed Talfan's hand everywhere (particularly in the opening credits sequence, the music and the solving process approach).


The script is fantastic, the suspense is very well administered, and the interpretations are really credible, both intense and contained and the same time.

This is the kind of thrillers that I enjoy so much. Kudos to everyone involved!

Strike
(2017)

Two possible approaches for a review. One more favourable than the other.
You can review Strike in reference to the original book, that is, considering how efficiently or accurately the TV show has captured the source characters, atmosphere and plot. Or comment Strike as an original work in itself, without any comparative reference to the J. K. Rawling's books.

As I haven't read them and I am not a particular fan of hers, I will refer to the show as an orginal production.

I liked it generally, and I enjoyed the whole story and pace. It is the traditional, Christie-style private detective-and-his-femele-sideling story. The tone is not tormented noir (no Luther, nor Y Gwyll here), although some degree of light-weight mess is shown around the main character. I didn't find the script so unbelievable or nonsensical as a couple of reviewers have stated, although I concede that one or two lines were a bit too disconnected or far-fetched.

Strike is a well composed and interesting character, I think finely interpreted by Tom Burke, whom I found convicing and charming considering the not-too-deep atmosphere or intensity of the script.

I cannot know how faithfully Holliday Grainger plays her role in terms of the original character in the book. In non-comparative terms, I found her acting a bit annoying and, in fact, anti-climactic. Her pouting, overacting and excessive facial language, in a comedic key, pulled me away from the dramatic tension all the time. In my opinion, the production could have gained from a more subtle interpretation or actress, while also keeping the naive, well-meant spirit of the character.

I hope the next series will be as fine and enjoyable as this.

The Good Fight
(2017)

Fantastic! The Kings have made it again, and even better!
I have to thank the producers and creators for such a great TV show, following the trail of the extraordinary The Good Wife but giving the sequel an excellent twist with an array of strong female actresses who are witty, brave, funny and strong-willed.

I can't wait to see the next episodes. Kudos to Christine Baranski, Rose Leslie, Cush Jumbo and the whole team. The stories are intriguing, enjoyable and so well written, the supporting characters are always brilliant (just as in The Good Wife) and the whole thing grips you from the start. Plus the politics.

The first season was amazing, above standard! Now, two episodes down the second season and I have fallen for it completely, as every year! Please keep on and up with the wonderful work! And, if possible, keep on with the TGW tradition of LENGTHY seasons, around 22 episodes each! We adore your show!

Sinfonía para Ana
(2017)

Beautiful, truthful, painful. A necessary exercise on political and historical memory.
For those who have lived through this somber chapter of Argentine history, i.e. the cruel, repressive dictatorship who perpetrated State terrorism against civilian citizens in the late 70s and early 80s, watching this movie might be an extremely painful, vivid and heartbreaking exercise of political memory. For those who have not, it will be an equally sad, vivid and heartbreaking exercise on LatinAmerican recent history, from the narrative standpoint of a high-school girl engaged in political activism.

At the cinemas, people sob and weep in their seats as the film comes to an end, and as they leave the halls they don't care to hide their tears, shed for the bitter, sad memories but also for the fearful perspectives about human rights which, 40 years later, now seem to loom again on their country's horizon, with the supression or persecution of dissident voices, and the illegal intrusion of armed forces in high-schools and universities. The spontaneous remarks in this regard voiced by viewers as they leave the theatres may surprise the tourist spectator, but they also highlight the deep impact the film has on local public. Both directors have made a great job at portraying a realistic and truthful story, in an effective, rich middle ground between documentary and introspective fiction. Hard to watch, but beautiful and well performed. If you have the chance to watch it, don't miss it.

Den fördömde
(2010)

Not Nordic finest hour
Give it a try, as it is a two-episode show. It is interesting. But it is definitely not in the summit side of Scandinavian crime shows.

In my opinion, the most serious turn-off is the choice of Ralph Lassgaard for the main character. He is a fantastic actor, but his physique-du-rol betrays the role in every aspect. He has the looks and the body of an overweight old lady, when he is supposed to play a successful womanizer with an irresistible appeal. He has no sex appeal at all, not even when he is picking up women. The same story played by Gunvald would have been a much believable thing. ;)

Glacé
(2016)

The Crime Genre Cliché's Handbook, in French language
This is a composite of everything you have already seen about in dozens of crime movies or TV shows:
  • a twisted, diabolic, mastermind serial killer still murdering by proxy from the prison
  • a damaged, ill, obsessive, alcoholic detective revisiting his career case
  • a young, pretty, promising local policewoman as supporting partner
  • a lingering personal bond linking detective and killer from the past
  • an extreme, stunning landscape in a small village
  • a plan to avenge an old unpunished crime from the past
  • a long series of traps and baits into which the good guys are invariably lured
  • pervasive suspenseful background music to create a climactic atmosphere
I agree with another reviewer---the cheap stereotypes and clichés are so frequent and obvious that the whole thing becomes laughable/annoying. It is well filmed and staged but not enough to be rated as a good crime series. In short, there are many decent and fantastic murder shows to enjoy, so don't waste your time on this if you are a fan genre.

Les engagés
(2017)

Encouraging story about self-discovery and empowerment in an innovative format
This is a lovely story about the struggles of a Muslim young man in France, in the search for his sexual awareness and the building of his own self-chosen subjectivity beyond gender, religious, political labels.

In his quest he finds an LGBT center in Lyon which acts as an empowering, nurturing but diverse environment. There, while Hicham tries to take a stance for a self-assumed gay life, he also discovers and questions the ways of activism, political and social debate, ethics, enjoyment, social reform and family relationships. His journey also means a liberating experience for his sister, who finds new ways of addressing reality and a place for herself while trying to understand his Muslim gay little brother.

This is a 10-part web series consisting of 10-minutes episodes, which is an innovating narrative format for audiovisual productions. The episodes, so brief in themselves, require a narrative economy or simplification which may be seen as a plus or a minus, depending on the perspective. I have not found them disturbing nor failing. On the contrary, they give the show a kind of "refreshing approach" about the importance and meaning of grass-root empowering movements, while avoiding the heavy undertones so frequent in the ruminations of more ambitious or pretentious stories. It is true that the whole show leans towards didacticism, yes, but this is not necessarily a bad thing if it is well thought and filmed.

Despite the light-hearted approach, contradictions and power struggles are pervasive along the episodes, both within the center and within the characters, and the well-devised dialogues are spilled with wise one -liners and reflections ("Activism is like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon (but even so...)".

The whole 10-part story is barely 100 minutes long, the average length of a not-quite-long movie. But the serial treatment allows for a more focused progression of Hachim's self-awakening journey, which is reflected in the episodes' titles: Running Away / Gathering Together / Opening Up / Kissing Each Other / Emancipating / Clashing / Discovering, and so forth.

It is a very remarkable experiment in short-episodes narrative with commendable performances and an excellent direction. Congratulations to the team involved!

Braquo
(2009)

Outstanding 1st season, then declining.
I really liked and enjoyed Braquo's first season, a gritty, crude, climactic production with a very fine script and remarkable performances. It was a pleasure to watch.

The rest of the seasons were noticeable inferior to me, basically in terms of the storytelling and script-writing, while the performances and production remained equally good.

While the first was more subtle and rich with nuances, the remaining seasons were more "commercial" and a bit cheap to me, introducing too many unbelievable situations, cartoon-like characters and extremely violent scenes which were as unnecessary as excessive.

Even so, despite the slope down, it is a fine show which will delight dirty cops and gore lovers.

Graven
(2004)

A fantastic discovery! Brilliantly directed, written and performed! And how truly intriguing!
This is an amazing crime story for many reasons.

The plot is very gripping from the start, truly intriguing until the end.

In the first twenty minutes of the first episode the table is set, so as to say, and all the pieces are in the right place to start the race.

I will not go into spoilers here. To be vague enough, there is a quite mysterious and eerie crime to solve, which must be kept away from public knowledge for as long as possible, and a team of tremendously skilled but complicated people who join their talents to investigate it---using a boat (!) as both lodging place and police headquarters, offshore the site of the crime.

Living together gets hard, as private and professional matters get entangled, and old, rancid relationships surface among some members of the team. The crime proves to be bigger and deeper as the episodes pass by, and there is a climactic finale at the end. The whole narrative arc of the story takes 8 episodes, so it could be thought of as a mini-series.

In terms of storytelling, the narrative is fantastic. The characters are wonderfully written, not just sketched but developed in depth, although their backgrounds are presented drop by drop, and so the questions do not only refer to the crime itself, but to the people who have to solve the case.

The performances have to be credited to a cast of brilliant actors who master their craft. I also found the direction compelling, with suspense, insight and subtleties in equal doses, and a rich, bold use of cameras and perspective. I really liked what they did, cinematographically speaking.

I will try to watch Morden, which is a sequel with the same characters. If Morden is as good as Graven, I will have a great time indeed!

Missions
(2017)

Highly promising sci-fi show, great effects, plot and atmosphere
This is the 10-episode first season of a French sci-fi production which (having seen two episodes) seems to be solid, well-plotted and gripping, though perhaps with some expected genre commonplace. The episodes are very short (23 minutes each), but they are compact, well paced and filled with action. The acting is okay and the atmosphere is suspenseful and tense, underlined by fine special effects and a professional production. I would say this is a psychological, supernatural sci-fi thriller.

Two millionaire philanthropists vie with each other to finance the first successful manned mission to Mars.

The French crew has 8 passengers. The eighth passenger to board the spaceship (reference to Alien?) is a psychologist who is summoned in the last minute to replace a member of the team who dies unexpectedly. She seems to be the pivot of the events unfolding along the episodes.

The Americans land on Mars first, one day earlier, but Earth loses contact with them as soon as they get there, and the French mission, soon before reaching destination, gets a disturbing danger message from the lost US crew warning not to attempt a rescue. The French decide to go for them anyway, despite the danger, and so the exploration team becomes a rescue party.

However, things get eerie as a series of mishaps and complications start to come up the more they approach Mars, compromising both mission and survival.

A strangest and unexpected presence they find in Mars defies their rational understanding of the mission and anticipates several possible plot lines to develop, from the supernatural to the political and the scientific.

We found the show gripping, suspenseful and very watchable. The French are producing high-quality, superbly written and acted TV shows lately, and this is no exception. Though it is not fantastically innovative (so far), we are enjoying it quite much! Let's see what happens as the episodes come along. It is a 9/10 for the time being.

Veep
(2012)

So witty, talented and hilarious! Long life to Selina and her crew!
I will be brief, as there are splendid reviews already in this forum.

This is high quality, smart political comedy, including all kinds of smiles and laughs available to human response. It is political incorrectness validated as the political norm. The script, the direction and general tone, the cast, the actors, the fast paced dialogues full of wit. Please do watch it and enjoy this show which gets better as the seasons go by.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is AMAZING, she makes you love such an atrocious character with a shameless array of self-assumed faults and horrible traits--- which happens to be the President of US, and always manages to stay afloat despite her overt skill to make all the wrong decisions and fail at every move.

But the cast is second to none. Every single member of the team excels and is a gem. It's a terrific-characters parade! You cannot stop laughing, sighing, raising your eyebrows in amazement.

My congratulations to the wonderful Selina and to Armando Ianucci. I had my doubts about the American simile to The Thick of It, but I have to admit they both made a masterpiece here!

The Halcyon
(2017)

Outstanding costumes. Awful writing. Terrible performances.
I basically agree with most of the reviews which deplore of the poor performances, the transgression of the true facts, the singing style not adequate to the 40s, the unbelievable situations along the plot.

In my case, the two things that prevented me from staying with this show were Matt Ryan's performance and the predictable script. There is nothing more embarrassing or off-turning than thinking "Now this situation will go from here to there", and then, scene after scene, boringly confirm that every twist and turn of the script was so helplessly within the anticipated lines.

And Matt Ryan-- his performance feels so phony with all the clichéd facial expressions, American-rogue looks and body language, trying so hard to infuse the show with a climax of heroism. I don't think the actors are bad. I think they are poorly directed and so there is no chemistry or magic, or genuine connection between them.

It is a pity for I would have liked to see a fine show around a similar idea, but avoiding the common places and the deja-vus which exhaust The Halcyon out from the first two episodes.

Brilliant wardrobe though, particularly those of the ladies.

Fortitude
(2015)

From horror to paranormal to serial killing to science, you are taken through a most suspenseful story in the eeriest Arctic landscape!
Edit: I am struggling to watch Season 2, which so far is a disaster. The story has went astray and lost its original allure. It now seems to resemble a mediocre American horror movie with violence, gore and cheap supernatural ingredients. So my 9 stars to Season 1 have become a 6. What a pity!

***

This has probably been one of the most welcome surprises of the year.

Everything is fantastic and a bit different in this story: the Arctic landscape with the pervasive eerie white and the merciless polar cold; the micro-society of the small station, with its relationships and dark secrets; the performances who are brilliant (Gröbel, Dormer, Tucci, Gambon, but really almost everyone here); the pace of the storytelling, which holds strong and gripping through all the episodes; even the theme song, and, finally, the story itself which is, truly, the jewel in the crown.

What are you watching here? You can't say for sure until the second half of the show.

The premise of this small scientific community isolated from everything, whose sovereignty is ambiguous, is that Fortitude is the safest place on earth. You are not allowed to live there if you are seriously ill or if you don't have a steady income. The small police force, in fact, only takes care of small domestic issues, polar bears, and frostbite, and has never ever needed to solve a murder. Until inexplicable horror sets in---

Is this a zombies show? Is there a serial killer at large? Is there an epidemic? A paranormal plot? A terrifying experiment in an isolated place? You cannot tell at first, because the script leaves all ends dangling and plausible.

The end is well presented in terms of explaining the whole mystery with a climactic final act, not free of some moments of strange parodic humour.

In the middle, there are many interesting side story lines which are relevant and contribute to create a solid, credible experience, mainly through an excellent production and a remarkable development of the characters and their reasons to live in a place like that. (I only hated the Russian ambitious character who is a joke and stands out as a poor performance).

I hope they will not spoil the whole thing in a second season, which is confirmed, and that they will keep the standard they created themselves.

In short, I recommend this show as a brilliant first season which leaves a long lasting impression.

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