Mad Men

Better late than never, I finally got to the end of this beautiful show yesterday and I’m still flabbergasted about just how masterfully the last season was crafted and the series’ top-notch quality overall.

Though «Mad Men» sometimes tended to be on the earnest, almost (almost!) dry and depressing side of things,  I’ve always loved the series thanks to its social relevance, the rich characters and its on-point art direction, cinematography and music.

Where other shows fail, «Mad Men’s» seventh and last season feels fresh, positive and satisfying as hell and, above all, cathartic and extremely enjoyable. For a program that serious and ambitious, that means a lot!

So, for all the fans of inspiring storytelling,  compelling drama, fine humour and perfect characters who have been living under a rock since 2007, check it out and proof me wrong.

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 3

While «Iron Fist» and «Luke Cage» got cancelled some days ago I’d almost forgotten that there still was a very enjoyable Marvel show to premiere that very same week:

«Marvel’s Daredevil» might have been the first attempt of bringing one of the less spectacular superheroes in a smaller scale to Netflix, but with season three the man without fear still remains the best and most solid installation of all the Marvel superhero series on the streaming service by far thanks to struggling and evolving characters and some risk-takingly spectacular cinematic moments of storytelling and montage.

But characters is what «Marvel’s Daredevil» really is all about: The show proves that Superhero stories CAN work on a smaller scale, as an action-infused drama, when done correctly (I’m looking at you «Gotham»).

The core of season three is all about family, legacy and relationships – old and new characters all get their chance to explore different angles of this underlying theme. And it’s a bliss:

Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page gets her own superb isolated episode which sheds light on her past, Wilson Bethel as Benjamin Poindexter («Bullseye») reminded me that a great character doesn’t have to be likeable and Charlie Cox as «Daredevil» proofs once again how satisfying and cathartic a tragic (super-) hero can be. But the real show-stealer (even more so than Jon Bernthal as «The Punisher» in season two) is, of course, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.

D’Onofrio’s wonderful, tragic, scary, phenomenal, uncanny performance as the «Kingpin« left me in awe. But even the secondary characters get a chance to shine: Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Father Lanthom (Peter McRobbie), Joanne Whalley as Sister Maggie and Jay Ali in the Role of Special Agent Ray Nadeem all get their chance to shine or at least support the impact of the main characters’ arcs.

After having stated my doubts about the quality of Netflix’ latest series in general, the fact that I usually don’t take the time to list the whole cast of an ensemble by name might show that there’s still hope, considering how well this season of «Marvel’s Daredevil» was written, performed and crafted… chapeau! I’ll take some more of that, please.

 

Mr. Robot

Just dropping in with an important message to all the fans of awesome TV-entertainment: If you haven’t already, watch M. Robot! I’m just about to finish the third season on Amazon Prime and I’m still flabbergasted on how breathtakingly good it is.

As always, I won’t go into any details but don’t be fooled by the fact that every season of Sam Esmail‘s show is basically a retelling of one or several modern movie classics…

While taking common storylines, tropes and themes and turning them upside down (or not) seems to be the basic idea, it’s just a jumping-off point to dive into some really stunning storytelling, cinematography, top-notch performances and use of music and sound, reinventing the show with almost every other episode.

And while you’re here, check out the new trailer for «Bohemian Rhapsody», Rami Malek‘s take on Freddie Mercury. I’m not sure yet if I like the idea of this «Queen» biopic, but if Malek really gets his teeth in it, he actually might be able to pull it off.

Jessica Jones Season 2

After the disappointing «Defenders» and «Iron Fist», «Jessica Jones» remains one of the stronger Marvel Netflix series thanks to Krysten Ritter who really made the character her own.

I’m all in for female-driven storytelling and I guess it worked just fine. But I’m wondering if the best central conflict the creators could choose for our heroine this season really was the fear of turning into her mother? It’s quite the leap from codependency, rape and trauma in the first season to this.

I’m not sure why a similar thing worked much better and more effective with Tony Stark’s Daddy issues. I guess it has to do with the fact that writing a strong female superhero character is still a relatively new, even unexplored field. (Or maybe it’s just ’cause I’m a bloke).

Let’s give Jessica and the audience some credit and let her do some superhero things, shall we? There must be some middleground to this. And there might be: Though it didn’t really lead anywhere (besides avoiding the issue what might happen when the Hulk and Black Widow would «get it on»), Marvel tried it in «Avengers: Age of Ultron» when Natasha Romanoff had to deal with her inability to bear children. And she did it while saving the world.

If not, I fear that «Defenders» Season 2 will revolve around Jessica Jones’ struggle to buy a pair of new jeans that doesn’t make her look fat while Iron Fist tries to become a social media influencer.

Post Scriptum:

I hate to say that I probably didn’t give enough credit for the fact(?) that Jessica Jones Season 2 might be less about her fear of turning into her mother than about coming to terms with a loved one losing the battle against mental illness…

Mea culpa… oh, look: Isn’t that Thanos over there annihilating half of the universe just cause he’s in love with a chick who happens to be frakking death itself? Men are simple…

Binge-worthy series in October 2017

After Marvel’s disastrous «Iron Fist» I must say Marvel’s latest Netflix series «The Defenders» surely was not the redemption all the disappointed fans had been hoping for. And since I haven’t even bothered to download «Inhumans» I thought I’d try to stay positive and share some of my latest «discoveries» on Netflix:

So let’s start there, «Star Trek: Discovery». Is it any good? I’m not sure yet. I was quite disappointed after the first two episodes: No sympathetic character, too much exposition talk and even more Klingon babble. But I rather enjoyed episode 4. Jason Isaacs’ Captain Lorca might just salvage this property from sinking. I’ll wait and see…


Now to the really good stuff: «Mindhunter» might be more form than function but I enjoyed the hell out of this crime-drama set in the seventies following two FBI agents in the early days of criminal profiling.

Maybe it’s the theme of serial killers that got to me. Even David Fincher’s (who produced and directed some of the episodes)  «Zodiac» was mostly talking heads and even more shots of people talking on the phone, and I still loved it a lot. It must be Fincher’s style that I just cannot get enough of. «Mindhunter’s» cinematography, sound, music, dialogue and acting are just phenomenal, even though not really that much happens story-wise. 


Then, «The Good Place» got me by surprise. I didn’t know anything about it and I recommend to watch it in the same way. It’s really funny, thought provoking, clever and… really funny.

I might have known that I’d like «The Good Place» because it’s by Michael Schur, the same guy that created «Brooklyn Nine-Nine» another show I just binge-watch the hell out of. Just because it’s funny, clever and, like «The Good Place» damn enjoyable without having the need to get «dark» as so many series nowadays do (which is not a bad thing per se. I love the good ones like «Breaking Bad» or «Mad Men» but it’s nice to see, that a good series can be light AND relevant today.) 


Let’s get over here to some adult animation entertainment (not what you think). I’ve seen Nick Kroll pop up a lot in the last few years in this or that movie and in even more late night talkshows. But the Netflix version of the brilliant Broadway show «Oh, Hello», his collaboration with comedian John Mulaney made me curious about his Netflix show «Big Mouth» . This pretty dark, naughty, but somehow true and heartwarming series where “Teenage friends find their lives upended by the wonders and horrors of puberty”  (IMDb) does the trick and entertained me a lot with some let’s say uncomfortable themes. 


Talking about «dark»: It took much too long for me to finally take a gander at «Rick and Morty». Mostly because I couldn’t believe how a show seemingly drawn this crude could be that ingenious and so exactly hit my pleasure center. It’s deep, it’s mean, it’s funny and it’s full of pop-culture and science references. It’s «The Simpsons» and «South Park» on steroids… or on LSD… probably both.

And it’s co-created by Dan Harmon, the creator of «Community», and it shows… so there’s that.