Andor Review

There are two arguments when it comes to a prequel. One is that it allows a formerly minor character to get a little bit of time in the narrative spotlight. The other is that it is a cheap copout by the studio. Instead of giving voice to new stories, they are relying on a known (and perhaps too reliable) IP.

Andor premiered last Wednesday on DisneyPlus. In short, it is a prequel of a prequel. Five years before the events of A New Hope, it follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he becomes the rebel that we know him to be in Rogue One.

While getting on the bad side of bureaucrat Syril Karn (Kyler Soller), he joins the rebellions by way of Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) and Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona).

So far, the first three episodes have been released. The connective tissue between the boy he was and the man he has become is starting to come together in a way that feels right for the character.

My favorite character so far is Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw), Cassian’s adopted mother. She is not blind to what is happening and though she does not appear to have one, she has a spine made of steel.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Andor are released every Wednesday on DisneyPlus.

Rogue One Disney GIF by Star Wars - Find & Share on GIPHY

Flashback Friday: Boy Meets World (1993 to 2000)

Our adolescent years are not easy, as anyone who is or has gone through those years knows/remembers. The emotional experience of growing up, learning about the world, and who you are often come out of hard lessons and difficult experiences.

The classic (at least in my mind) 1990s sitcom Boy Meets World (1993 to 2000) followed Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) as he slowly changes from a boy to a young adult. Along the way, he deals with love, loss, heartbreak, etc, and learns that the simplicity of childhood does not last forever.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this show is one of the best of my generation. I grew up with Cory and feel a kinship with this character. Granted, it was television and not exactly reality. That being said, I can look back at BMW and parallel my preteen/teenage years with Cory and company.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The US and the Holocaust Review

There is a famous quote about history. As cliche as it sounds, it is the truth

If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

The new PBS three-part documentary series, The US and the Holocaust premiered this past weekend. Co-created and co-directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein, actor Peter Coyote narrates the story of the near destruction of European Jewry from 1939 to 1945.

Within the film, there are interviews with historians, survivors, and readings from respected actors such as Meryl Steep, Paul Giamatti, and Liam Neeson. It does more than share what the events in our history books have already told us. It takes the viewer back in time to show what led the Shoah and repeats what most of us (hopefully) know. Though it’s been nearly a century since World War II, it is clear to me that we have not learned from the experiences of that generation.

The thing that hit me immediately is that there are far too many parallels to what is happening now both in the United States and around the world. Xenophobia and hatred have once again become the norm. We have a former President who has authoritarian tendencies, refuses to accept the results of the previous Presidential election, and has convinced many that he is the victim.

What made me angry was the spoken and unspoken complicity of a majority of Americans at the time. Though this country is supposed to be the land of immigrants and freedom. Instead, it became a land of isolation and hypocrisy. That hypocrisy was clear in the first episode when the connection was made between the Nazi’s racial laws and Jim Crow.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. In fact, I would say that it is required viewing for every American.

The first two episodes are available for streaming on the PBS website. The third will air tomorrow night at 8PM.

P.S. After I watch or read anything about the Holocaust, I can’t help but think of what the victims or the descendants might have given to the world. The late performer Olivia Newton-John was Jewish on her mother’s side. Her maternal grandparents got out while it was still possible to do so. If they hadn’t, it is very likely that she would have never been born and therefore, not entertained multiple generations of audiences.

The Serpent Queen Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that for most of human history a woman in a seat of power has had a precarious position. She is either beloved (i.e. the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II) or reviled as a temptress and viewed as unworthy of the title (i.e. Cleopatra).

The new Starz eight-episode miniseries, The Serpent Queen, tells the story of Catherine de Medici. Based on the book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, by Leonie Frieda, the first episode tells the story of the French Queen. Played by Samantha Morton, she tells her story to Rahima (Sennia Nanua), a servant girl who has been sent to bring the Queen her dinner. Through backstory, we learn about the young Catherine (Liv Hill) and her traumatic path to the throne.

What I like is that so far, is the younger Catherine breaks the fourth wall. She is also cheeky, intelligent, and driven. As an adult, she is also not above using underhanded methods to retain power.

So far, I have mixed feelings about the series. It’s compelling but has yet to completely suck me in as a viewer. As a character, Catherine breaks the mold in an unsettling way that makes me curious, but also sends warning signs to my brain. This woman is not one to be ignored to taken lightly.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

The Serpent Queen airs on Starz on Sunday at 9PM.

Flashback Friday: Feud (2017)

For every great movie, there is a great behind-the-scenes story.

The F/X 2017 miniseries Feud tells the story of the making of the 1962 movie, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Playing the film’s leads are Susan Sarandon (Bette Davis) and Jessica Lange (Joan Crawford). Manipulating the actors while directing the film is Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina).

As the series goes on, it becomes more apparent that the feud between Davis and Crawford has been partially manufactured by the press and the male heads of the movie studio as they play the aging actresses against one another.

Wow. Though I’ve never seen the film that the series is based on, I might be tempted to watch it. Lange, Sarandon, and Molina are fantastic in their roles. One of the points that were made was that while men are allowed to age, a woman has a shelf life. Once she is on the figurative shelf, she is automatically replaced by a younger model. The number of older women that are still allowed to be active is often limited and pitted against one another because G-d forbid a woman of a certain age is active and vital as her male counterpart.

Like other Ryan Murphy-headed projects, there is a message built into the story. There is also a subtle level of campiness that allows the audience to laugh while observing that the superficial bullshit that is the backbone of the narrative is still alive and well today.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Hoarder House Flippers Review

There is an old saying:

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Though this phrase is usually used when referring to people, it can also be applied to property. In the world of home renovation, when the average person sees trouble, a flipper sees possibility.

The new Hulu home renovation show, Hoarder House Flippers, takes this concept to the nth degree. The program follows three teams of flippers who buy homes that have a double negative against them: they are in need of desperate repair and formerly owned by hoarders. The goal is to fix up properties and sell them for maximum profit. Along the way (which is par for the course), there will be unforeseen problems and disagreements.

I admire the people who take on projects like this. It takes guts and creativity to see through the mess and the challenge. Though this show is thoroughly predictable, what I take away from it is the vision of a home that needs a family to fill it with love and memories.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Hoarder House Flippers are available for streaming on Hulu.

Flashback Friday: Celebrity Fit Club (2005 to 2010)

Basic medical advice tells us that carrying extra weight on our body creates health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. The larger problem is that in our culture, there is such a focus on body size (i.e. thin) that it is more about fitting in than being healthy.

Celebrity Fit Club aired on VH1 from 2005 to 2010. Like its non-celebrity reality show sibling, The Biggest Loser, the purpose of the show was for the contestants to lose weight. The only difference is that those involved in this show are famous. Throughout the series, they are put through their paces and weighed at the end of each episode.

Working with a nutritionist, a psychologist, and a trainer, each competitor is given the opportunity not just to lose physical pounds. They are encouraged to work through the issues that have led them to their current state.

Like all reality television, there is the usual question of what is “real” and what is scripted for the cameras. But what I think makes it different is that this program is that it shows that those who work in show business don’t always look like we think they should look. Like all humans, if they drink and eat excessively without some sort of physical activity, they will put on the pounds.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (2008 to 2011)

These days, it seems that reality television knows no bounds.

Between 2008 and 2011, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew aired on VH1. Led by Dr. Drew Pinsky, the raison d’etre of the program was to help celebrities break their addictions to drugs and alcohol.

I have mixed feelings about this reality show. This is obviously an issue that is deeply personal and requires a lot of emotional excavation to get to the bottom of. While it takes away some of the stigma from addiction, it also comes off as slightly voyeuristic. Someone else’s pain should not be entertainment for another.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Review

*I know nothing about the original comic book on which the show is based. This review is strictly about the series.

In life, and in writing, when one door closes, another opens. Just because one storyline has been completed does not mean that there is room to take a connective narrative in new directions.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premiered a few days ago on DisneyPlus.

Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is a thirty-something lawyer who is doing her best to get ahead in her career. Then she gets into a car accident, which changes everything. In the passenger seat is Jennifer’s cousin, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

As a result of this accident, Jennifer turns into a She-Hulk, creating new problems. In addition to her job and her personal life, she is now officially a superhero and must save the world.

So far, I really like this series. It is funny, action-packed, and Maslany as the title character is fantastic. It speaks to the fact that many women (regardless of their romantic or familial status) are balancing multiple aspects of whatever is part of our daily lives.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will be released on Thursday on Disneyplus.

P.S. There is a post-credit scene that is worth waiting for.

Flashback Friday: Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers (1988 to 1990)

There is something about a childhood cartoon that instantly takes you back to that time in life. That innocent, simple era when decisions were uncomplicated and nothing was impossible.

Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers was a Disney cartoon that aired from 1988 to 1990. The series followed best friends Chip (Tress MacNeille) and Dale (Corey Burton) as they fight crime with their friends and save the day.

This show was so much fun when I was a kid. It was charming, it was entertaining, and perhaps there was a lesson or two subtly built into the narrative.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Rescue Rangers Disney GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
%d bloggers like this: