TV: Rectify is back along with some new Netflix additions (The Crown and The Fall and Black Mirror)



Rectify (Sundance)

Rectify, one of the very best shows on television, commenced its fourth and final season (the first 3 seasons are on Netflix) last week with Daniel (Aden Young) leaving his hometown of Paulie and settling in Nashville. Just to regroup, Daniel Holden is released after 2 decades on Death Row for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend. As one would expect, those years in isolation have taken a toll on him and he is a damaged soul. The first three seasons take place over a few months as Daniel tries to reintegrate with his family and town with little success. At the end of Season 3, he leaves Paulie.

Why is this show so special? Why do many of the best TV critics declare it not only one of the best shows of the decade but of the last 20 years? There are many reasons but it is a show that focuses on its characters all of whom are complex, realistic and struggle with life’s choices and moral dilemmas. These characters have evolved over the course of the show through the good and bad decisions they make. Rectify moves slowly, capturing all of the subtleties and nuances of the impact of Daniel’s release. The audience bonds with these characters – their strengths, weaknesses and moral choices.

The first show of the final season revolves totally around Daniel. We don’t see the rest of the family.   He moves to a half way house and is able to obtain a menial job. He struggles with the rules and structure of both. By the end of the show, he has made some progress and connections but it is a difficult journey.  I’m assuming that how Daniel tries to put his life back together with some meaning beyond a subsistence level job will be the focus of this season. I’m sure we will also explore how his relationship with each of him family members evolves with him being removed from their everyday life. His family is back in Episode 2 and they are pretty much where we left them last season. We may never know if Daniel murdered his girl friend or not nor is that important to the show. I’m going to relish every moment of this final season which is sure to be one filled with hope, setbacks and tears along the way.

The Crown (Netflix)

The Crown dropped its first season this week. It is the dramatization of Queen Elizabeth II‘s early years as Queen. It begins with her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947 and goes from there. I don’t think this is award winning drama but having watched the first few episodes, it is a welcome change to the Netflix dramas reviewed below. It is also a wonderful way to escape the election madness we are in the midst of. Claire Foy who was terrific as Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall is perfect in the role of Elizabeth. Despite the well established reticence of the members of the Royal family,  she is able to express so much through her eyes and facial expressions. Also in the series is John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, Daniel Betts as Prince Philip and Jared Harris as King George VI.

For those who are intrigued by the British monarchy, this will appeal to you. There obviously isn’t anything new or exciting and the history is very recent but the costumes and jewelry are quite impressive.  The Crown is quite good and is a drama that is actually enjoyable to watch. 

The Fall (Season 3) Netflix:

The first two seasons of the Fall were incredibly intense but very good. Gillian Anderson is a brilliant police detective trying to catch a serial murderer played by Jamie Dornan (yes, 50 Shades of Grey Jamie Dornan and he basically plays the same character in both). She is ultimately successful by the end of Season 2 so I’m not sure where season 3 is going or if it will be the final one. There is a shootout in last season’s finale, which results in Dornan’s character Paul Spector, being critically injured. Most of the first episode this season is like a Grey’s Anatomy case while the doctors frantically work to save his life while blood spurts everywhere.

The Fall is a very sober crime drama that delves deeply into violence against women and male rage. It is not for everyone. The Director intersperses the crime element with lots of slower moving dialogue and complex relationships which sets it apart from many of the ones out there.  I’ve only seen the first episode of what I presume will be the final season but if you are interested in British crime dramas and in a mood to handle the subject matter, the Fall has many moments of brilliance and is a compelling drama.

Black Mirror (Netflix)

Black Mirror is a British anthologies series that has been picked up by Netflix. It originally premiered in 2011 with the third season dropping on Netflix this past Friday. Seasons 1 and 2 are also available on Netflix so I thought I’d start at the beginning to check out this highly regarded show. I really knew nothing about it when I clicked on Season 1, episode 1 which was about a British princess who was kidnapped and the ransom demanded was that the British prime minister have sex with a pig on live national TV. The second episode is a futuristic one about a guy living in a cube with streaming entertainment comprised of about eight very strange shows. He is with people trying to get on a talent show. Each day they emerge from their cubes and get on stationary bikes where they log points, which will ultimately be used to get on the show, I think. I guess if they don’t make it on the talent show with three Simon Cowell-like judges, they stay on their bicycles and in their cubes forever? I have fallen asleep twice trying to get through it which is never a good sign.

Because you can watch any of the episodes in any order (at least in the first two seasons), I may research which episodes are supposed to be the very best and try again but I suspect that this might not be the show for me. In the meantime, the Crown dropped so I put this one on the back burner while I binge on the British Royal family.


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