Category Archives: Television

New Amsterdam Character Review: Dr. Akash Panthaki

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

When we start a new relationship, it would be nice to know if this person will be in your life for the short term or the long term. But, as much as we would like to have this knowledge, no one has a crystal ball. We can only put our best foot forward and roll the dice.

In New Amsterdam, Dr. Akash Panthaki (Sendhil Ramamurthy) enters Helen Sharpe’s (Freema Agyeman) life when she least expects it. He appears to be the answer to her prayers. After spending years building her career, she has reached the age in which childbearing becomes more complicated. For a while, it appears that Helen and Akash will be in each other’s lives for a long time.

But life, like relationships, are not as predictable as we would wish it to be. Akash reveals that he already has two children from a previous relationship. Helen initially stays with him after this information is revealed, even though she is miffed that he kept these details from her. But this romance is not fated to last, and they eventually go their separate ways.

To sum it up: I am a believer that people come and go from our lives for a reason. Their presence in your life is not just a random coincidence. We learn something from their presence, regardless of the time we are with them. Though Akash and Helen are not a couple for very long, they learn that they can find love, even if they do not walk into the sunset together.

That is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

Flashback Friday-The Men Who Built America (2012)

American history is built on ingenuity, independence and the willingness to believe in the impossible.

In 2012, the miniseries The Men Who Built America aired on the History Channel. It told the story of five American titans of business who through their individual contributions, changed the way the people of this country lived.

I have mixed feelings about this particular miniseries. It’s educational for sure, but not as good as other miniseries that have aired on this channel. I would have also appreciated to see a greater diversity of stories other than five Caucasian males.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, History, Television, TV Review

The Baby-Sitters Club Review

One of the things I have noticed that as I get older, certain childhood memories come back as if it was yesterday.

The Baby-Sitters Club premiered on Netflix last night. Based on the beloved books by Ann M. Martin, the series is updated to 2020 while remaining true it’s literary predecessor.

Bringing the main characters to the screen are Sophie Grace (Kristy Thomas), Momona Tamada (Claudia Kishi), Malia Baker (Mary Anne Spier), Shay Rudolph (Stacey McGill), Xochitl Gomez (Dawn Schafer), Vivian Watson (Mallory Pike), and Anais Lee (Jessi Ramsey).

I started watching initially for the nostalgia factor and was immediately sucked in. Though I was watching with adult eyes and adult experiences, my former thirteen year old self was watching it with me. It was still the BSC I knew and loved, but with a modern sensibility. I think what makes it feel like BSC with a 2020 twist was the casting. Choosing non-white actors for the roles of Mary Anne and Dawn was a brilliant decision. It was also a brilliant decision to cast Alicia Silverstone as Liz Thomas-Brewer, which made me feel very old.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Baby-Sitters Club is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Netflix, Television, TV Review

The Belgian Antisemitic Rally & Death’s Head Revisited: Drop Them into Auschwitz for the Night

In a certain sense, humans are stupid creatures. We are well aware of the failures that exist in our collective history. But instead of learning from those mistakes, we make them again and again.

Earlier in this week, a pro-Palestinian rally in Belgium turned antisemitic. Which should be a surprise no one.

Back in November of 1961, The Twilight Zone aired an episode called Death’s-Head Revisited. The premise of the episode is as follows: a former SS officer smugly decides to visit Dachau, where he was responsible for the deaths of innocents. To say that he receives his comeuppance is an understatement.

To those who would deny the Holocaust or advocate for the murder of Jews today, I would recommend that they be dropped into Auschwitz (or any concentration camp) for the night. Let the ghosts of those murdered teach them a lesson they will never forget.

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Filed under History, International News, Television, World News

Flashback Friday: River Monsters (2009-2017)

For centuries, humans have made up stories of mythical creatures found in the oceans. Though we live in the 21st century in which science and logic tell us otherwise, there are still stories of what could be swimming beneath the waves.

River Monsters aired on Animal Planet from 2009-2017. The show follows angler and biologist Jeremy Wade as he investigates stories of creatures who existence has been whispered about, but never fully confirmed.

This is not my favorite show on the Animal Planet schedule. However, it is an interesting program. Utilizing both science and the myths, he tells a story in a way that is down to earth and recognizes the ecological importance of the animal to its environment.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

New Amsterdam Character Review: Ella

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Human beings were not meant to be alone. The need to be around others is built into the DNA of our species. We need each other if we are going to not just survive, but thrive.

On New Amsterdam, Ella (Dierdre Friel) is in a jam.

After briefly dating Rohan Kapoor (Vandit Bhatt), Ella has discovered that she is pregnant, but the father of her child is nowhere to be found. What makes her situation more complicated is that Rohan’s father is Vijay Kapoor (Anupam Kher). Ella and Vijay almost did the will they/wont they dance, but that ended when Ella started seeing Rohan.

Unable to support herself, Ella is about to leave New York. Knowing that if this happens, he may never see his grandchild, Vijay proposes that Ella move in with him. Though it takes sometime for them to work out the kinks in their unorthodox relationship, Ella and Vijay eventually meet in the middle. Which comes in handy when Ella reveals that she has OCD and Vijay is the one to help her relax.

To sum it up: As much as we may pretend that we can do it alone, the truth is that we can’t. In Ella’s situation, it would be easy to put up a wall and pretend that she does not need help. In accepting Vijay’s offer, she is not only willing to bring her guard down, she recognizes that their need for support and connection is mutual.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Mental Health, New York City, Television

Throwback Thursday-Life After People (2008-2010)

In the history of the Earth, there are only two species that have been at the top of the animal food chain: humans and the dinosaurs. Science has told us how and when the dinosaurs disappeared. But what happens when humanity disappears?

Between 2008 and 2010, the Life After People aired on the History Channel. Asking the hypothetical question of what if people no longer existed, the series told the story of the world we would have left behind and how it would change.

I think this series is both interesting and eye-opening. I hate to say it, we humans think that we rule Mother Nature. The reality is the other way around. The world we have built is as fallible as a house of cards. Until we are able to admit that, we will never completely understand our place in the world.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

RIP Carl Reiner

Anyone can tell a joke. Anyone can attempt to be funny. But it takes a truly gifted comedian connect with the audience.

The late Carl Reiner was one of those gifted comedians. He passed away yesterday at the age of 98. Born to a Jewish family in New York City in 1922, Reiner was also a writer who worked on early 1950’s classics such as Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour. His collaboration with Mel Brooks on the 2000 Year Old Man was and still is comedy gold. Creating, producing, writing, and starring in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), he introduced the audience to characters are still beloved decades after they left the air.

In the entertainment industry, he was a jack of all trades. Writer, director, actor, comedian, etc. He will be fondly remembered as both a human being and an entertainer whose work made millions laugh.

In the words of our mutual ancestors, may his memory be a blessing. Z”l

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Filed under History, New York City, Television, Writing

Fosse/Verdon Review

When one transcends from ordinary human to legend, we forget that this person is still a human being.

Fosse/Verdon premiered last year on F/X. Stepping in the gigantic shoes of the late Broadway legends that are Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon are Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. Told over the course of multiple decades, the series follows the professional and personal ups and downs of the main characters.

Though they separated (but never legally divorced) in 1971, Gwen and Bob were joined at the hip. She stayed by his side as he cheated on her with multiple women, dealt with addiction issues, and never truly faced his demons. On his end, he relied on her as a respected professional collaborator who understood his unique way of working.

This is one of the best miniseries that I’ve seen in a long time. Both Rockwell and Williams are flawless in their roles, humanizing these giants of the entertainment industry.

I absolutely recommend it.

Fosse/Verdon is available to stream on Hulu.

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Gloria, A Life Play Review

Great women do not become great overnight. It takes years or even decades to be worthy of the title of greatness.

On Friday, Great Performances aired Gloria, A Life. Starring Christine Lahti, the play tells the life story of legendary second wave feminist Gloria Steinem. Via a small cast made up entirely of female performers, the audience is introduced to the real woman behind the icon.

I’m thrilled that this show was filmed for television. I didn’t see the play while it was open, though looking back, I wish I had. I loved it. It was educating, enthralling, and entertaining. If nothing else, the play is a reminder that the issue of women’s right is just a prevalent today as it was fifty years ago.

I absolutely recommend it.

Gloria, A Life can be streamed on the Great Performances website.

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Filed under Broadway Play Review, Feminism, History, Television