TV: The Night Manager, Confirmation,Vinyl, Supergirl and Better Call Saul

 

Premiers

The Night Manager (AMC)

The Night Manager premiered this week staring Hugh Laurie (House), Olivia Coleman (Broadchurch) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki from the Avengers). The pilot starts out with a slick, James Bond type of intro which speaks volumes to the budget for this show!   Laurie plays an evil billionaire arms dealer and Hiddleston plays the night manager of a hotel who inadvertently becomes involved with some of the arms dealers in Cairo. Coleman who plays a British investigator to help bring down Hugh Laurie’s character enlists Hiddleston just a little too easily but I’m willing to go with the flow.

The mini-series is adapted from a John Le Carre’ novel and has the potential for  a nifty spy series. I enjoyed the pilot although from the critics I have read, it is the weakest episode. If this is the case, I’m going to really like the rest. Laurie is amazing as a super scary villain and I love Olivia Coleman who plays a very similar character to her role in Broadchurch. Tom Hiddleston is sexy and fun as a junior James Bond. This show is a nice surprise in a month that I was only focused on the return of Game of Thrones and wasn’t expecting anything else particularly noteworthy.

Confirmation (HBO)

It’s hard not to compare Confirmation with the recent American Crime the OJ Simpson story. Both take place around the same time; both events captivated the American audience and divided it at the same time. The OJ production was great. Confirmation was fine. What made the difference? Confirmation was a less than 2-hour movie of the Clarence Thomas hearing where Anita Hill (played adequately by Keri Washington) accused him of sexual harassment. It was a straightforward timeline of the events surrounding the nomination. Never do we really understand the motivations and impact on either Hill or Thomas. This could be because of the brevity of the movie – I don’t know whether it would have been better had it been a short mini-series. It also could be that these two individuals have never put themselves out there in the public eye like all the participants of the OJ story. I don’t think the writers and actors had enough meat for Confirmation to enable us to really empathize and relate with the characters.

That being said,  Confirmation is fine. It is not great like the OJ series. It may appeal to those who have an interest in history, the Supreme Court, politics and/or women as victims of sexual harassment in the work place. It is an important film for young people who weren’t old enough to remember the hearings who should be reminded of the ugliness of certain aspects of our political system and the treatment of victims. Unfortunately, for those of us who do, there is really nothing new to what we remember other than a reminder of Joe Biden’s wishy-washiness. If you are of an age where you remember these events, I don’t think there is any compelling reason to see Confirmation. You’ll be much better entertained seeing the OJ series.

Finales:

Vinyl (HBO)

Thank god it’s over. I will never go back for season 2. They could fire every actor; every writer, every producer, Director and show runner and I still wouldn’t come back. It was awful. Even the finale was really boring and the final scene just ridiculous. When Vinyl and Billions both premiered at the same time, I made the choice to watch Vinyl and DVR Billions based on the preliminary reviews. Based on more recent reviews, I made a BIG mistake. People actually like Billions. Now I have to go and binge like 10 hours of a bunch of rich white guys making a lot of money through questionable tactics!

Back to Vinyl. The characters are awful and I’m so tired of the cocaine and alcohol. The writers should really watch Mad Men again which takes place around the same time and is much more effective in incorporating the impact of drinking all day into the story. I really watched Vinyl to hear music from one of my favorite periods but have been disappointed in how little of it there is. At the end of the season, I could care less if the record company folds, if all their relationships crumble or if they all die from overdoses. There is just nothing to warrant interest about for any of these people or what they are doing.

I think HBO is in big trouble when it comes to the hour drama.  The crown jewel, Game of Thrones, is coming to and end.  The critically acclaimed “the Leftovers” has only one more season to go and it hasn’t had large audiences.  The few dramatic series they have in pre-production all have serious problems and the new shows like Vinyl are not good. I guess it just goes to show that a network can pour more money into series than any other network and still come up with garbage.

Better Call Saul

I liked Better Call Saul’s first season but think the second was even better.  I’m not sure how long this show can keep going as a prequel to Breaking Bad but I’m in it for the ride. Each show this season has been fun to watch while Kim and Jimmy struggle in their corporate life and finally leave the law firm to start their own practices. Kim has been a really great character in Season 2 and I hope she stays for the duration. Mike’s story has centered on his relationship with the drug cartel and is equally entertaining as we watch his story progress while former Breaking Bad “Baddies” show up along the way. Although the two storylines don’t intersect much, there is a lot of substance to them both.

The finale had a huge cliffhanger, as brilliant Chuck is able to hoodwink Jimmy into confessing to his crimes. It is due to the power of the writing and acting that despite the fact that Chuck is the more honorable brother, we still are rooting for Jimmy to get away with his crimes. Although he is a crook, he is likeable and has a lot of heart. He genuinely tries to help his brother, which makes us like him even more. If you haven’t seen Better Call Saul and are a fan of Breaking Bad, it’s worth catching up on over the summer

Supergirl

This is just a really nice little show. The star, Melissa Benoist is infectious as Supergirl and Calista Flockheart is absolutely fantastic as Cat Grant. I could watch her all day and night. The rest of the cast, much like the Flash are engaging and interesting. Who really cares about the weekly alien attack; what we care about (again, like the Flash) are the relationships between these immensely likeable characters. We want to know their stories and relate to them.

The finale was great. All the characters we care about survived to see another day as Supergirl saved the world. Things progressed with Jimmy, Cat seems to know who Kara is and there is a big mystery for Season 2 assuming the show is renewed. It’s all good.

 

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