Category Archives: series

In Treatment (s.02, 2009)

Second season of In Treatment continues with the story of dr. Paul Weston. Since the events of the 1st season he got divorced and moved to New York where he opened his practice anew. In addition to the anguishes related to the separation from his kids, he gets sued by the father of late Alex Prince for negligence, with a threat of loosing his licence hanging above his head for the whole duration of the season. Besides dr. Weston’s story, the season comprises 4 other stories of his patients: Mia, a successful lawyer who hates her present state of life and believes Paul is one of the reason she got there (she had some history with Paul from long ago); April, a 23-years old girl who just got diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage but hadn’t tell anybody; Oliver, a 12-year old boy who suddenly found himself in the crossfire between his parents on the field of divorce; and Walter, a power CEO of a huge corporation who started having troubles sleeping recently. Personal circumstances, as well as what was going on with his new patients, made Paul turn to Gina’s help once more.

In terms of quality, the show remained on the same level as in season 1, which is pretty high. The narrative is complex in a way that entices more than scares away: all 5 storylines are strong, consistent and long enough to effect each other, even if just a little bit, – so that altogether they compose an integral and powerful story. All of them are incredibly interesting to watch: even though Mia is so thorny most of the time, it’s plain unpleasant, her line’s development, same as others, is mind-boggling from the psychological point of view. Like before, each session is a real battle for Paul, but his wit, and his knowledge, and the extent of his empathy, are always with him and always at the disposal of his patients.

Each storyline is strikingly deep, and each inflicts a lot of opportunities for an actor. As far as I can tell, these opportunities were brilliantly executed by the cast: there’s so many mind-numbing, exhaustively emotional scenes I really lost count of them. Especially I would like to distinguish Alison Pill, who played April, and John Mahoney (from Frasier) who portrayed Walter, but really Hope Davis (Mia) and Aaron Shaw (Oliver) are just as amazing. Of course, the default characters, played by Byrne and Dianne Wiest, provide nothing to complain about, – quite the contrary, both of them had their bright moments this season too.

Rodrigo Garcia doesn’t seem to have participated in the 2nd season, but that didn’t have any impact on the quality of the show, nor – on the essence. As before, this is a chamber high drama of extremely fine quality, and as before it’s fascinating.

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Man Seeking Woman (s.01, 2015)

Man Seeking Woman is a comedy about a young man in his quest for love. After his girlfriend Maggie broke up with him, Josh was at a loss for a while, but soon, with help from his friend Mike and his sister Liz, he started making his first faltering steps in the field of dating. He went through a number of relationships, different in length, quality and essence, but each time something went wrong and he ended up alone. A hallmark of the show (which, by the way, is based on the book by Simon Rich, series’ creator) is that its universe of discourse resembles the real world very much, but also contains utterly surreal elements that are adroitly merged with the environment so that the whole thing seems consistent in style and level of drama, but has obvious conflicts in the core, which is the source of the most of the humor in this show.

The show is pretty great: all the stories, however surreal, are amazingly consistent when it comes to the logic of the events development, which makes it extremely interesting to watch. It is also fun, because the writers’ fantasy is truly without borders; however, with humor it’s a little bit different. A major portion of it is derived from situations that are more awkward than funny, – it’s a specific type of comedy, and its presence in the humor mixture of this show is quite significant. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of stuff there to laugh at, and good quality too, but that thing imparts a certain mood.

The stories do not directly hail from each other, there are pretty huge gaps between them, and sometimes they remain unfilled; and, of course, none of the surreal excursions stuck: rather than being real events, those are more like filters, or masks, applied to reality for a short time to contort it and later dismissed with no consequences.

All in all, the show feels pretty exciting; it’s entertaining, it’s exquisitely stylish, and it’s sufficient amount fun.

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Scary B.O.O.M. Underground / Scary B.O.O.M. v andegraunde (s.01, 2011)

Scary B.O.O.M. v andegraunde is a documentary series about a russian psychobilly band Scary B.O.O.M., which was one of the few to gain relative popularity in Europe. The show tells about history of the bad, its everyday activities of all kinds, from designing clothing for performance, to controlling production of merchandise, to actually doing music.

I can’t believe this bullshit has been sitting on my self for 5 years; I’ve been a little intimidated because documentaries about music are usually not an easy viewing, and so I only got to it now, and what do I see? First of all, this is not a series about current rock-music scene, like it claims to be; rather, it is a chronicle of a band’s life – excruciatingly circumstantial, – until it suddenly pivots and starts telling about producing merch – again, in way too much detail; and then it pivots again, this time into the view on European music, which actually boils down to a short sequence of interviews with a leader of some band and also with some officials of a Finnish music / film festival. Obviously, the guys didn’t have an uber plan, and as a result we have this loose, incoherent narrative about so many things, it amounts to being about nothing at all.

What’s even worse is that this so-called rock band doesn’t have any temper at all, there isn’t even a hint of charisma in any of the participants, including Ermichev. They surely like to talk about themselves, – well, who doesn’t? and this whole thing would’ve probably looked very different if they’d made it, but they didn’t, and so it all seemed pretty pitiful to me. As far as I’m concerned, the band is long gone, and there’s nothing sad about it, it’s only natural, – it didn’t have a chance in the first place.

As for the music, I can honestly say that after watching this whole season, I would never, not even under a death threat, be able to distinguish songs of Scary B.O.O.M. from songs of any other band that was mentioned in the series. They all sound alike to me; probably, it’s because music plays pretty much all the time in the show, – so much in fact, it effectively becomes a part of the background, and stops to register at all. From those pieces that I can actually attribute to the band, none produces any significant impression, – I didn’t feel there was anything special about that music. I believe, the ideal result of any film about a real music band would be an overwhelming desire in the viewer to go and listen to more of that music; however, after I’ve watched this show, all I wanted to listen to was Eminem. Of all people.

Ultimately, it’s a poorly executed story about music that is not really worth it. I’m not sure, why would I watch the 2nd season of this, but I will. Stay tuned.

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Vicious (s.02 + A Year, 2015-16)

Second and last season of Vicious keeps on describing the same situation as before: 2 elderly queens living together for half a century, their relationship with each other, with their friends, neighbours and family. Ash remains a part of the circle; he came with a girlfriend in the first episode, proposed to her a little later; and it was the rejection that he faced that forced Freddy and Stuart to re-evaluate the type of relationship they have. Most of the subsequent narration is dedicated to their wedding with excursions into Violet’s story (who became a victim of a scam), and Ash’s.

It should also be noted that there is a double episode special called A Year. It follows the story 1 more year after the events of the show’s finale, and is divided into 4 chapters, each depicting one of the seasons. It’s not very different from the show itself and basically winds up the plot.

In comparison with season 1 the show became even louder and cocky due to new visual design: somehow it correlates with the show’s inner essence, but, weirdly enough, does not make it any more pleasant to watch. Same goes for the deviations from the genre: in season 2 there is a lot of exterior scenes, and a whole lot of new, circumstantial characters, which definitely makes the narrative much more vivid, but not harmonious; if anything, it adds a note of nervousness to the whole thing. The way the writers handled new characters shows that they didn’t have a lot of ideas about them except that there should be more people – most of the heroes are easy to forget simply because none of the stays for long, even when it’s appropriate (like with Ash’s girlfriend).

The humor is exactly as it was – crude, slapstick, tendentious. There were less dog-themed jokes (thank god), but otherwise it’s pretty much the same thing. What’s different, though, is how sentimental the story became. Over the course of the season, and then during the special, it gradually became almost a melodrama – and almost here is only because it didn’t have enough time to hatch properly. All in all it’s a tear-jerker alright.

So what can be said about Vicious? It’s a weird and undesired bastard of comedy that strives to be 2 completely opposite things simultaneously, and dies out after finally realizing how impossible of a task it is. It may be worth watching for McKellen’s fans, but should probably be avoided even by them.

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In Treatment (s.01, 2008)

In Treatment is a drama about psychotherapists dr. Paul Weston, his practice and his family. It is almost exclusively a chamber work: most of the narrative is rendered in the form of conversations during Paul’s sessions with his patients, and his sessions with Gina, his own therapist, at the end of each week. The building up humdrum is regularly dispersed with his family intruding into the sacred premises of his practice this way or another; these 2 major aspects of his life intermingle so tightly, it has become a problem for him long time ago. After one of his patients, Laura, confessed her deep affection to him, which would’ve been an ordinary case of romantic transference if not for Paul’s response reaction, things start to escalate (within the normal tempo of the genre). Besides Laura, there are 3 more cases that impact Paul’s state of mind rather deeply: Alex, who is a professional military pilot and once bombed a madrasa killing 16 children; Sophie, a teenage gymnast who had an accident recently which might not have been an accident after all; and family couple of Jake and Amy, who got pregnant after a long period of trial, but who are not sure if that is what they really want. Paul resumes his talks with Gina after many years of not talking to her, because all the stuff that came together in his life all at once bothers him a great deal, and he knows he needs guidance.

The show is a direct adaptation of the Israeli show, which lasted for 2 seasons and comprised 80 episodes overall; I haven’t seen it, but from the description it seems like pretty much the same deal, save for regional peculiarities, and, you know, completely different crew and cast.

It’s quite simple on the conceptual level: therapists, patients, interactions between them, a lot of conversations. Conversations constitute a major part of the universe of discourse, yet, even with the setting remaining more or less unchanged throughout the season, none of what’s going on in the show seemed weak, or forced, or tedious, to me. On the contrary: each of the Paul’s sessions resembles a battle, where he has to fight patient’s ego in order to help his psyche; they are all different, but equally fascinating, – to watch from a distance that is, because for participants is not only extremely hard, it’s also painful, although there is always a hope that the pain would sum up to a solution eventually, – which it often does. The important thing: notwithstanding lack of action, the show is very interesting and surely captivating; but you need to be consistent about it, or else you may get the wrong impression about it.

It is a chamber cinema and that usually implies a lot of close-ups, which is always a challenge for an actor, especially when it comes to stories as dramatic and intense as those told in the 1st season. I have to say, I’m very impressed by all the members of the cast: Byrne, of course, – he managed to become Paul, I really cannot imagine him otherwise right now; Melissa George as Laura; Mia Wasikowska as Sophie; Josh Charles as Jake, Dianne Wiest as Gina, and all the rest of them (there’s not many, so it’s a literal all) have shown acting overwhelmingly powerful. Of course, that wouldn’t have been possible without the words – every dialog, every piece of narrative, is amazingly well-written; they are all flawless, really, they form this structure of stories that is insanely complex and wonderfully balanced at the same time.

The complexity, by the way, comes from depth: every human story featured during the season proved to have multiple layers, at that none of the layers were easy to deal with, each required a whole different approach, with results never guaranteed; and the deeper they went, the more painful for both the patient and the doctor it was to uncover them; and sometimes this work summed up to healing, and sometimes it turned out that there’s nothing to heal. All in all, it’s very lifelike.

Having watched only the 1st season so far, I find In Treatment quite remarkable, and would recommend anybody who struggles to understand the purpose of psychotherapy to watch it carefully from beginning to end. And also to people who love a well-written drama, like I do. You’re in for a treat.

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Episodes (s.05, 2017)

Fifth season of Episodes is the final one. Sean and Beverly are stuck working on a comedy they hate under the guidance of a man they despise. Matt is hosting The Box, a senseless but entertaining TV show produced by Merc; they hate each other, but keep good appearance. Carol is wallowing in depression and self-pity as she has no job, no money, and no hope; Beverly keeps trying to bolster her spirit, but with little success. After a sex scandal blown way out of proportion Matt gets fired from the show, but the network revises that decision pretty quickly after the ratings of the show rise by 30% as a direct result of the event. Besides a longed-for opportunity to rub it into Merc’s face, Matt gets a guaranteed 13 episodes of his own show from the network, and so he and Sean and Beverly start thinking about some entirely new project.

I love it when a story development is designed so meticulously as Crane & Klarik do for Episodes. It is quite obvious that even though the length of the journey could have been different (with correspondingly changed level of detail), but all the landmarks were conceived a long time ago exactly the way they’ve been executed later. The clarity of the story is astonishing; the way they managed to keep it highly dramatic and funny at the same time, with great harmony among the components, is truly masterful. In that respect, by the way, 5th season is better than the previous, which ended in a very gloom place.

This show is interesting in how it’s an exceptionally delicate and delicious combination of purely fictional elements and those that have direct correspondence in real reality: it is not the first work of this sort in cinema, but it is definitely one of the best so far. The writing in general is pretty much perfect, both in concept and in dialogs. I can say with absolute certainty that every minute of it was a pleasure.

The finale deserves a separate conversation, really, but all I can do is mention it. It is not just strong, it is truly surprising (which, to be honest, I did not expect), and would throw you into emotional lowland only to elevate you to a highest peak the next minute. This is probably the best show’s finale I’ve ever seen; it is surely bright, fascinating, remarkable.

Cannot recommend more.

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Orange Is the New Black (s.05, 2017)

Fifth season of Orange is the New Black is dedicated almost exclusively to the few day when Litchfield penitentiary was in riot. It follows the development of the situation and elucidates it from various angles; it tells about a vast number of characters, tracing each of theirs storylines quite meticulously, with conflicts and alliances forming and crumbling apart all the time. Several COs are taken hostages, including Caputo; they become a bargaining chip in the negotiations aimed at improving inmates’ lives, as well as making it right by Poussey. The negotiation are being held by Taystee – for the inmates, – and by representative of the governor (who brushed aside the corporation as soon as the conflict hit the media), with several other inmates and Caputo heavily involved. The COs in the meantime become exposed to quite a few unpleasant manifestations of the inmates’ love, but remain relatively safe, with the exception of Humps (one of the guards) who was shot in the very beginning and later got unlucky enough to get a bad in the hospital ward next to people wishing him ill. The inmates were united only for a brief moment, which soon elapsed, and some sort of feudal chaos took over, with several unions competing for resources, some of them also trying to establish some sort of order, and a great number of loners and tiny groups just minding their own business. At some point Piscatella in disregard of a direct order infiltrates the prison to take the inmates down one by one, and for some time he manages to get away with it. The several days of the wild reign come abruptly to anticipated end, when special ops finally gets the order allowing suppression by force.

Over the course of the show the internal time gets increasingly dense and slow: the duration of the season stays relatively unchanged, while the period of time it covers gets shorter and shorter in each new season, – it’s like a river spats broadwise and because of that slows down its pace forward. This approach allows Jenji Kohan to go deeper into the characters and their stories, instead of rushing the plot along, and as a result, we have incredibly complex narrative with unrivaled number of elements, all of which are relatively harmoniously balanced – relatively, because sometimes the tempo lagged a little bit when some characters were put aside for a period of time too long not to notice their absence; also, it’s quite obvious that some characters (like Bursett) were intentionally removed from the story to unload it at least a little bit. This, however, is pretty much all the criticism of the season I have in me. I think it’s brilliant, ingenious, and generally a remarkable work of cinema, powerful and beautiful in its sincerity.

All the stories of the season, each and every one of them, is interesting to follow; some of them produce wonderfully poetic images and situations, others provide the viewer with something to smile (or even laugh) at, and the best – combine humor with sadness of life to achieve some amazingly powerful pinnacles. I could’ve dived into specifics here, but learing it all anew will be much more enjoyable for you; besides, there’s too much going on there to squeeze it all into just a few paragraphs. Highly recommended for self-study.

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Vicious (s.01 + Christmas Special, 2013)

Vicious is a sitcom about a couple of elderly gays and a bunch of their friends and acquaintances. Freddy and Stuart has been living with each other for almost half a century, yet Stuart’s mother still doesn’t know the truth about them. Things start moving more sharper when a new neighbour moves into the apartment above – a young man named Ash, for whom the Freddy & Stuart company becomes a substitute for a family.

This is a downright sitcom – a really devoted attempt at restoring genre’s original conventionalities and limitations. I can guess Janetti is a fan of it, and through this show he expresses his dearest desire to bring it back. It doesn’t seem like he believes it’s even possible, though, because the whole thing reeks of desperation. It’s like the show tries to be cosy and shocking at the same time, which is naturally weird and produces corresponding effect. The humor bears a note of hysteria, pretty much all of it.

The presence of Ian McKellen, as well as of Iwan Rheon (whom I know from Misfits and, of course, Game of Thrones) is worth mentioning, although in view of the genre policy on the show, neither of them did anything particularly remarkable.

All in all, the show might give you a laugh or two, but considering the negative counter-weights that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to watch it.

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Doll & Em (s.02, 2015)

In 2nd season Dolly and Emily first write and then try to produce and direct a stage play based on a relationship between themselves. They settle down in the Mikhail Baryshnikov’s theater (who owned a favour to Buddy, their producer) in New York, off-Broadway, assemble the cast, including 2 girls to play characters based on them (but not exactly them) – Olivia and Evan. Things between the four of them do not work out very well exactly, but somehow they manage to haul as far as the premiere. Along the way Dolly falls in love with Ewan McGregor, because he picked her up in a bar and they almost dated, and there may be consequences to their encounter. Emily gets her hopes high with a new role she’s been offered, so much so she’s almost pulls out of the play, but then the project falls apart, and she comes back as domineering as ever. Doll & Em try to deal somehow with this new form of their ever-changing friendship, as well as each of them deals with their own personal stuff. In the finale the premiere of the play comes off, offering a few surprises.

The 1st season was really great, but the 2nd one is slightly better – mostly due to freshness of the story and ingenuity of its authors, which has improved significantly. I think, once they’ve established that they can in fact produce a TV series, however small it is, they managed to relax and have fun on top of creating a highly professional product of cinema, which is reflected in the overall tone of the show. The narrator’s voice in episode 4 alone is worth some kind of prize, and that’s far from all.

The cast is pretty amazing: I suppose, Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Woods play fictionalized versions of themselves, as it usually goes; it was really cool to see Mikhail Baryshnikov; Ewan McGregor was kind of funny; the now infamous Harvey Weinstein appeared in a tiny, but quite memorable role of himself (not uncommon for the show, as you might have noticed).

By the way, Emily Mortimer speaks rather decent Russian, although not without noticeable accent.

All in all, in 2nd season the creators managed to preserve that combination of peculiar lightness and meaningfulness that formed in the 1st season, and enhance it with more humor and new ideas. The show has concluded with that, and it’s a good thing: it proves that Mortimer and Wells were never there for the money, that quality bears way more significance to them, and that they know how to end things at the right time.

Highly recommended for everybody.

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Orange Is the New Black (s.04, 2016)

In the fourth season of Orange is the New Black Jenji Kohan and Co continues to explore attractions of the corporate prison concept, prolongs the storylines of the characters we all grew to love, and, of course, adds some new heroes to the mix, interlacing their stories with ones already in progress. Alex, after receiving unexpected help from a mentally challenged Lolly, deals with the consequences of her self-defence actions; old COs retire en masse to strong-arm the management, but get replaced by an emergency fraction at first and with newly hired vets later; new team of COs establish their own rule, one that does not comply very well with the inmates; Chapman tries to assemble a semblance of a gang, but proves too weak for a life of professional criminal, especially after her actions provoke a much stronger reaction: the reinforced latin community starts acting in the same direction but with less humanity, plus the white power thing lifts up its ugly head; Brook Soso and Poussey become a couple; Nicky Nichols comes back from Max, which turns out to be too late for her sobriety; Bursett spends most of her time in SHU for no reason at all; Red works the kitchen, while trying to serve as a glue for the community; Dogget and Donuts become closer while trying to overcome what’s standing between them; Suzanne gets manipulated by ill-meaning guards into some nasty stuff, and so does a couple of other girls; Judy King becomes the queen of the prison, goes through several scandal, makes some friends; Caputo tries to balance between his duty as he sees it and the corporate interest, with the latter winning almost every time, which leads to rise of the tension in their relationship; Healy goes through some really hard times, with his wife gone, and fears about a mental illness inherited from his mother, starting to dominate him; Lorna enjoys the fruits of her unexpected marriage, but then starts acting destructively. Lives of old characters, as well as new ones, are explored through the flashbacks, as usual; this time it’s Poussey, Healy, Suzanne, one of the new guards, and couple of others. By the end of the season the tension between the COs and the inmates reaches its peak after a person gets killed by accident.

This season produces an impression of the strongest one so far: on the one hand, the overall quality remained just as high as it used to be; on the other – the main storyline builds up gradually with aggravation of conflict up to the point of no return (incredibly powerful death in the finale – like a cherry on top) and then escalates into a major cliffhanger, which imparts some sort of accord on the narrative intensifying it tenfold as a result.

The most important, the most interesting things about this season are: the purity of the Soso-Poussey relationship; the idea that criminal way of life is no joke, and you shouldn’t choose it unless you’re willing to go all the way, which you’re probably not; how impossible it is to help Lolly; that corporations are evil, and those dealing with living people are worst of all; certain everyday details of drug abuse and trade in prison; weird relationship between Dogget and the guard; how broken some of the new COs are; how cool it is to be a celebrity; that racial division in prisons is still quite real, but can be vanquished in the face of the common enemy. There were some truly brilliant scenes, including the one with fucking without any touching (#3), the finale in general, and tribute to Poussey in particular (#12-13).

It was quite fascinating, I loved it. Hopefully, season 5 would live up to my overgrown expectations.

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Frasier (s.11, 2003-04)

Frasier‘s 11th season is the final one. It was conceived as such, and, correspondingly, bears a character of a prolonged closing address. Daphne and Niles get pregnant; most of the stuff happening to them is related to pregnancy in this way or another, primary development vector being towards happy family life. Martin gets his development in the second half of the season mostly, and it is about him having found the right person. Roz eventually gets rewarded in the professional terrain, but remains without a constant life-partner, successfully advocating this way of life, not exactly widespread in the pre-Internet era. Frasier resumes his private practice, in part because the radio show started to outlive its capability; after breaking up with Julia he goes through several more minor relationships, and ends up turning to a matchmaking service, with results quite unexpected and encouraging even though obscure. A range of well-loved characters goes marching through the season, including Lilith and Frederick (but not Bulldog); Maris makes a very special appearance in the role of the murderer. Events accelerate towards the finale: on top of the wedding that has been pushed to an earlier date, and the baby who is ready to come out any minute, Frasier experiences an existential crisis comparable in scale to the one that led him to Seattle 11 years ago.

The show is just as wonderful as it used to be: the cast doesn’t go anywhere until the very end; the humor is great, although not without extremes here and there; the level of sitcom conformity is relatively low (a little higher than in season 10, but still); the overall development is logical and consistent enough; and, as usual, there is a lot of amazing characters played by excellent, funny actors. At the same time, there is a definite imprint of sadness overlaying the whole season, which is about things coming to an end –  inevitable, but sorrowful nonetheless. Kelsey Grammer seems old now somehow, – much more so than just a year before. The writers managed to make this final season all about tying up loose ends thus directing the narrative towards the exit; they did it skillfully enough for the viewer to relate to the events in the story, and through that endorse it.

I didn’t quite like that the amount of situations (solutions) with strained premise / circumstance rose over the course of the season. It wasn’t really bad, not enough to constitute a problem, but the tendency was troubling. But the show’s finale put an end to it, excuse the pun.

All in all, notwithstanding certain sags, the season was truly good, – may not be among the best ones, but it’s still a pretty important part of the story.

Frasier proved to be the most consistent show I’ve seen so far (among the comedies so much the more), and consistently good at that. The quality always remained on a rather high level, and never has it ever dropped in any significant way. Not once in 11 years. Quite astounding, if you ask me. I wish they’d do a reunion show, like Will & Grace. Either way, it’s a truly remarkable show, a whale of TV comedy, alongside Seinfeld and Friends, not to mention the later ones.

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Twin Peaks (s.03: The Return; 2017)

Third season of Twin Peaks tells the final part of the Laura Palmer story, happening 25 years after the events of the original show. FBI agent Dale Cooper, who spent all that time in the Black Lodge, starts to fight his way out of there, which requires the return of his Doppelganger, who was walking the earth in his stead. Mr. C (the doppelgänger), however, took measures to remain in the general reality, specifically, he created another doppelgänger several years after his own release, called him Dougie Jones and throw him out in Las Vegas. Struggling through almost complete inability to communicate, Cooper by way of Dougie Jones manages to not only maintain his mission, but to establish a circle of friends and helpers along the way. Following weird and complicated confrontation between the forces of good, represented by a bunch of characters, but most of all – Dale Cooper, and forces of chaos, represented also by a bunch of characters, but most of all – mr. C, Cooper’s dark twin, resulted in seemingly random gathering of chosen heroes that managed to unite in the critical moment. The question, though, is not whether the good guys would win or not, it’s rather, would it even matter if they do?

Technically, 3rd season is a direct continuation of the previous Twin Peaks narrative lines, but the amount of time dividing seasons 2 and 3 is too vast to go unnoticed. Indeed, this new revival season is a freestanding one, it should be considered only in comparison with seasons 1 & 2, not in the aggregate with them.

It is a completely independent work of art, an epic canvas that includes everything Lynch was ever bothered with or haunted by, organized into an absolutely harmonious map of the Lynch universe. As such, it is incredibly complex: although this can be said about pretty much any other of the director’s works, this one stands aside due to unprecedented amount of space the artist had at his disposal and corresponding vastness of the final result. At the same time, never before has been Lynch’s world so clear, so readily understandable: there is still a huge amount of ravings incomprehensible for the audience that are so typical for Lynch, but thanks to the volume factor, they are distributed in a very different way than it usually happens, which, as it turns out, is quite important for the overall balance.

The fact that Frost and Lynch managed to gather the old cast almost in its entirety is rather fascinating; the fact that all of them did an extremely good job is even more so. Reinforced with the new cast members, the ensemble became bulletproof, pretty much impenetrable. Kyle MacLachlan demonstrated mind-boggling performance playing 3 different characters; but really, there is a lot of people, and not one of them sings out of tune.

As for the quality of direction, David Lynch seems to be in his full power, so there’s little to no drawbacks in the whole season, be that of creative or of technical nature. The photography is really amazing, and the special effects are close to perfect (in relation to the context).

I believe, Twin Peaks‘ 3rd season is not only the best thing Lynch has ever created so far, but also a cinema event of the year – at least. It is a powerful work, and I have no doubt it would prove to be exceptionally influential over the years.

P.S.: Lynch’s universe, as I understand it, consists of at least 2 layers of reality, one of which is our, conventional reality, and the other is something in parallel with it. It has nothing to do with the traditional understanding of afterlife, nor with the concept of multiverse; relationship between these two layers are closer to that between a host and a guest entity, which is a parasite and a symbiont at the same time, in unclear proportions. The essence of the Dale Cooper’s mission was to go backwards in time and save Laura Palmer from being murdered; he got delayed in it because Black Lodge, represented by several sinister entities such as Killer Bob and Cooper’s doppelgänger, resisted his efforts, but after 25 years of imprisonment he managed to break out, and after some time more he managed to come back in full, and then he finished the ordeal. The consequences, however, proved to be not as expected. The finale is stunning in a way how silence can be stunning.

Names and figures

Doll & Em (s.01, 2014)

Doll & Em is a story about 2 friends, Dolly and Emily, who remained quite close even though Dolly stayed in London and didn’t achieve much while Emily went to Hollywood and became a famous actress. Doll breaks up with her boyfriend and turns to Emily for a solace. Emily, who is shooting some big movie in the US at the moment, invites her to come and stay with her, and have some fun, and work for her as an assistant at the same time. Dolly accepts the invitation; for some time everything goes wonderful, but a certain tension between them starts building up almost immediately, which eventually leads to a crisis in their relationship.

Totally delicious little thing. It has the power of sincerity, because the story comes from the real-life experience and adopts as much drama from there as possible, and at the same time it is devoid of the roughness ordinarily accompanying veracity of this intensity – the show’s actually very delicate and amazingly subtle. The overall development is psychologically correct, has a lot of nuances and doesn’t have any stretches or omissions. The story is small, non voluminous, that much is true, but whether to deem it a plus or a minus, is a question to which one should apply their own judgement. The execution is impeccable, especially the acting. Also, it’s not particularly a comedy, as the writers do not try to make the viewer laugh, but rather some scenes they want to tell about are naturally funny.

I love gems like Doll & Em here: tiny, almost inconspicuous, as if hiding from the world, but pure at the core, and with no defect anywhere, presenting the audience with concentrated quality. First season was a pure pleasure; hopefully, 2nd will be a match.

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Orange Is the New Black (s.03, 2015)

Third season of the Orange Is the New Black is all about the great change the american prison system undergoes presently: for the general arc, the prison’s senior staff gets in trouble due to their financial indiscretions, but the catastrophe is averted thanks to a giant corporation buying the prison out in order to make it profitable. The transition brings a lot of minor changes to the established environment, some of which may appear critical. Besides this general line that pierces everything else, the season consists of the following storylines: Piper and Alex’s conflicted relationship; the improv class opened by a new counselor and some of its consequences, including Crazy Eyes’s surprising career as a fiction writer; the loophole of a kosher meal that got abused too much, but had a curious consequence of turning Black Cindy into a jewish person before shutting down; Nichols gets upgraded to maximum security; Piper’s undercover enterprise that grew on the weaknesses of the corporate prison approach, as well as her action for its protection; Norma pretty much becomes the leader of a cult; Red returns to kitchen, only to regret it immediately; Alex is freaking out all the time expecting an assassin in every new person; Morello starts a mail scheme that ends up in the most unexpected way for her; Daya gives birth, considering if she wants to keep the baby in the family, or give it away to Pornstache’s mother. The intervals are filled with deep exploration of some of the inmates’ and prison staff’s lifepaths – this time it’s about Norma, Chang, Boo, Lianne, more Pennsatucky, and several others.

All this and more is carefully stirred and balanced for our enjoyment, and constitutes in general a consistent and interesting story for the whole of 13 episodes. The prison management format development does seem a little weird, but, considering all that we know about the US, not at all implausible. It definitely brought in some very curious offshoots to the story.

The narrative is rich and flows without restrictions. The acting is in harmony with everything else in the execution. All in all, the show is more powerful than even in season 3. Which makes me think that one tiny autobiography probably couldn’t have been the source of all of that power, and if so, what else do they use? Not very relevant, of course, as the quality of the final product is the ultimate criteria, and by that measure the show is at the top of the chart so far.

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Frasier (s.10, 2002-03)

In Frasier’s 10th season: Niles and Daphne get married and start living together; after a certain period of confusion Daphne’s mother settles down with them and becomes a permanent partner in their life situations; Niles undergoes a heart surgery; Daphne changes her hair; Frasier goes through several inconspicuous relationships until he falls in love with a person he hated for almost a year; he delivers a speech on his son’s Bar Mitzvah in Klingon language; he sets Lilith’s mind straight when she experiences a personality crisis on account of Frederick becoming a grown-up; and he lets Bebe become his agent again yielding to the power of doctor Phil’s gravitas; Roz successfully continues bringing up of her little daughter, who is old enough now to have an act; later she is offered a bigger job at another station and decides to accept it. Martin doesn’t have a lot of developments; Bulldog appears in several episodes, always short time.

In terms of the story, the development is harmonious and logical enough; story is interesting, sometimes fascinating and always funny; there are no fuck-ups, nothing raises any questions; even such significant additions as, say, Daphne’s mother, or Frasier’s lattermost flame, seem to be really successful – or, at least, workable (because some of them are too new to make conclusions yet). Suffice it to say: every component of this season’s composition is in concordance with every other component; their conjunction is balanced and bright.

In terms of general quality, the show remains consistently good. Episodes contributing to the main storylines are all great, and among those that are in-between there are no lame stories, but a lot of really good ones.

All in all, the show has a rather strict and strong evolution course, which on the one hand makes it somewhat predictable, but on the other – it imparts a structure making the narrative more powerful, and also framing and intensifying humor as well. Tenth season, which is the one before last, lies entirely within this paradigm, meaning it is well-tailored and really entertaining.

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Game of Thrones (s.07, 2017)

In 7th season of Game of Thrones the thread of events gradually becomes tighter through bringing all the remaining storylines even closer together. Daenerys reaches the Seven Kingdoms and lands her forces at Dragonstone. Jon Snow, who was recently proclaimed King of the North, sends a delegation to her asking for help in their fight against the dead enemy, and even leads the delegation himself, leaving Sansa Stark in charge of all the northern business. Soon all 3 of the current Seven Kingdom’s primary forces meet to convince Cersei in the seriousness of this winter, and then decide on the plan of actions. And though it seems like unifying the living despite their differences and intersecting interests would be, in fact, a success, after an unavoidable loss the enemy seems to become stronger than ever, maybe too strong to overcome. The final battle lies ahead, but who knows who would win that thing.

So, besides the process of bringing the story onto the homestretch, which was happening for past few seasons and has almost achieved the closing phase, there is another interesting thing going on with the show as the separation of the scripts from the literary source starts to have its effect on the narrative, which has achieved the habitual rarefied state of a normal American TV show, became not as overly dense as before in terms of internal events intensity, which, on the one hand, is good, because it is much easier to perceive the show this way, but on the other, it leaves a slight hint of dissatisfaction as the expectations aren’t met.

To be totally fair, the creators of the show managed to uphold the level of execution exactly the same, if not higher, which helped a great deal to conceal the loss in density. The amount of work (and money) each episode so obviously costs is truly astonishing, – but, more importantly, so is the final result of all these efforts. Same as before all  the sides of technical implementation are impeccable, including the image, the sound, and, of course, the special effects. The acting is pretty great; it is totally in accordance with the twists and turns of the story, which, by the way, is well elaborated from the psychological point of view, and also just as ingenious as it always has been.

It seems like they have everything for a huge bada-boom for the finale. And I’m sure they can pull it off. But nothing is for certain – after all, the expectations are flying pretty high. All in all, the 7th season was amazing, almost perfect, – and the future probably holds more of good than of bad. Of course, we would only know when it’s too late.

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Ballers (s.02, 2016)

Story in the Ballers’ 2nd season revolves for the most part around Spencer’s feud with Andre, the biggest financial guy in the city who managed Spencer’s money back when he still played and may or may not have caused him the loss of several million dollars. The intensity of the confrontation grows from one episode to the next, the passions are rising, the risks are being taken, the game is being played. The fact that Spencer is having problems with obtaining a license so that he could actually practice does not add a lot of credibility to his position, no more than a Vicodin abuse on account of his hip injury. Yet he manages to execute counterattack by gathering funds from his rich friends to buy the company out.

The story on the conceptual level is pretty good: the origins of the conflict seem plausible enough; the development – quite consistent; and the essence (what seemed like purely ordinary conflict at first, turned out to be the result of Spencer’s internal conflict) – rather elegant. However, the dialogs are sagging: the writers heavily abuse informal vocabulary, sometimes – merely to hide the emptiness of a scene; and even relatively interesting parts resemble Entourage the further the more, and not at their best times, too.

It’s pretty entertaining all in all, but I was definitely hoping for more than that. There is still a possibility, of course, that the show would become more than just talking shit and enjoying the spoils of the wealthy life, but so far the tendency is the opposite.

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Orange Is the New Black (s.02, 2014)

In the 2nd season of Orange Is the New Black previously charted storylines continue to develop in their natural fashion, with some of them interlacing around Vee, a hardcore professional criminal who has history with Red. Piper Chapman and Alex Vause get to participate in the trial of their boss the drug lord, after which Alex goes free, and nothing changes for Piper; she returns to genpop, gets furlough and visits funeral of her granny, makes piece with her ex-fiance and her best friend falling in love with each other, but other than that she just lives. More and more often the focus of attention shifts from Piper’s storyline towards other lines, specifically the one about Vee, who just came to Litchfield, but started to distort reality around herself almost immediately; the one with Brook Soso, another newcomer, a young girl who launched a hunger strike; miss Rosa, a cancer patient who didn’t want to die behind bars; the Diaz baby intrigue, including Mendez the Pronstache, who returned briefly only to be taken to prison himself; and others. The further the more the show seems like a uniform soup with lost of brilliant parts in different places, but no particular hierarchy story-wise.

One of the show’s most powerful features is the diversity: on the one hand, it comes natural, because anybody can end up in prison, therefore no combination of characters would be too unbelievable (plus, there is a build-in mechanism to bring in new ones), all of which means it gives a lot of opportunities for not very high cost; on the other hand, the abundance of faces makes it a little challenging simply keeping up, but so far it’s barely an issue at all.

All of the small stories that constitute the multitude of the show are well thought-out and well-designed; they link together and form storylines that evolve over time. Arguably the strongest constituent of the whole season was Vee, a black woman of around 50 years old showing signs of manipulative and psychopathic behaviour, who gathers almost all black women of the block around herself, and creates out of them a dark force with potential to oppress every other force existing in the prison environment. As contrasted by the events connected to her character, previous prison intrigues seem even kind of childish.

All in all, season seems very strong to me, but with a certain doughiness quality impacting the whole structure of the show, although without any significant consequences so far. Still great, still fascinating, still powerful as hell.

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Frasier (s.09, 2001-02)

In Frasier‘s 9th season Frasier breaks up with Clair, and ends up alone, then goes through several more fleeting, short-term relationships; has a feud with a neighbour; expands his show to another city; and visits Boston. Rose starts dating a garbage man, which becomes one of her most meaningful hookups, but then something happens, and at the moment of weakness she has a thing with her boss, which is huge, but not big enough to ruin their friendship. Niles and Daphne’s relationship goes through natural stages of development, all the way up to the proposal (which was beautiful), and making peace with Daphne’s family. Martin becomes a security guard, and almost falls in love several times, last one – with the neighbor’s mother.

It is astonishing how they managed to keep the overall quality of the show so consistent from one season to the next. It always seems new, – not once has the show repeat itself so far, – and at the same time, it feels so familiar, so comfortable from beginning to end. Apart from the events already mentioned, of which episodes about Daphne’s parents were the most entertaining, there was an appearance by Bill Gates, which happened to be the same episode (#8) when Bulldog returned for a brief period of time; the one about Frederick becoming a national Spelling Bee champion (#18), the one about american flag, the one about the Boston trip (#21), and the one with Daphne’s father (#24).

All in all, a great season: there are lots of fresh stories, and all of them are pretty great quality, including the humor (which still seems funny to me after years of comedy impressions’ stratification on my mind), and the drama (which develops in the orderly, logical fashion and has wonderfully powerful peaks). Watching Frasier is always a pleasure. Names and figures

Orphan Black (s.05, 2017)

Fifth season of Orphan Black is the final one. It starts exactly where the 4th left off: Rachel becomes the executive of Neolution movement, which is revealed to be founded by a man who’s still alive and is now 170 years old, one P. T. Westmorland. Within first couple of episodes the Leda opposition suffers a grave defeat to Neos, when Sarah and Siobhan and everyone else (except Helena) is apprehended by Ferdinand’s people; and then one more time – when Kira chooses against her mother. With Helena being on the loose, however, there is still hope, and besides Sarah and the company are secretly plotting against the seemingly amicable organization. One of the tactics soon manages to bring a powerful advantage to the rebels, one that becomes Neolution undoing, but in the process of it some convulsive movements threaten to make a mutual destruction type of story.

If I had some doubts in the beginning, especially about all the resurrections, that’s because they raised the level of improbability a bit too much, but that was carefully managed by the writers, and by the 4th episode already the narrative straighten out and the story started to grow stronger with each next episode. One of the most powerful storylines of this season is about the refutation of the myth, which I find pretty cool. The overall development of the story is, of course, science fiction, yet it lies within the realm of plausible and, just as important, – believable, and it uses genuine human relationships for its fuel, including family ones (albeit word family applies here perhaps in a broader sense), and that combination sums up to a fascinating work of cinema – smart and entertaining from beginning to end. The acting is, like before, impeccable, with traditional praises for Tatiana Maslany, who is totally amazing in her consistently perfect acting. The execution in general is pretty great, music in particular, but really – everything.

The finale is very conclusive – and it seems like the end of a straight line, one that is natural and expected, and it was obviously intended that way. The show astonishes me first and foremost with how precise and well-calibrated the narrative is, although not without sudden jerks here and there, of course, but none too determinative. The beauty of the concept intensified by the quality of execution makes this show one of the truly great ones. One of my favourites, that’s for sure.

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Ballers (s.01, 2015)

Ballers is a comedy-drama about a bunch of ex- and current football players and the world of professional athletes in general. Primary heroes are: Spencer Strasmore, who left his successful football career while at the peak and became a financial manager for high-level sport professionals; Joe Krutel, his friend who turned him into a financial consultant; Ricky Jerret, a very talented football player with temper issues; and Charles Green, a retired player who tries to find a new way in life. So, for the 1st season, the storylines are as follows: Spencer and Joe try very hard to land Vernon Littlefield, one of the most promising young players in the league, and encounter various obstacles on that path, including blackmail and corporate interests getting the best of loyalty and personal relationships, which is the foundation for everything in that business; Spencer also deals with his nightmares connected to an episode, when he injured an opposite team player so hard he had to leave the game; Ricky gets kicked out of the team due to bad PR vibe he’s producing, but Spencer manages to find him new home – his own old team, the Miami Dolphins, which is not the end of it, because Ricky continues to get into various stories, but he also tries hard to change his ways, and to some purpose too, although he does lose his girlfriend in the process; Charles gets a job as a car salesman, but feels discontented at it, so when he’s offered a way back to his old career, he gladly takes it.

First of all, this show reminds me Entourage a lot: the same atmosphere of big money (only professional sports instead of movies), the same perfect-weather setting (only Florida instead of California), the same general tone of rich people’s problems that are significant, but not too serious, because – you know, – there’s a lot of money floating around. The story is different, though, and I don’t mean specific events, but rather the structure of the show’s narrative, which in this case is more dense, more consistent. Plus, the main heroes are way more likeable – Spencer’s sincerity, his aspiration to help those he cares about, his resolution in building his own personality the way he wants it, – all these things make me sympathize with him; Joe is an interesting character, with his ups and downs, but definitely curious to watch; and the same can be said about Ricky and Charles, too. Their storylines intertwine with each other quite harmoniously. The humor is nice – it’s not jokes based, but rather an additional filling for the events.

However, the ending of the season seemed to me a little too cautious – there is no twist there, no cliffhanger, which sends a message that life goes on as usual, and could go on like that indefinitely, that there would be new things to overcome, but they will come and go, same as everything else. This kind of attitude is somewhat threatening, because it relaxes the writers (because it’s pretty much all the same, so why bother), and relaxed writers are not a good thing for drama. Of course, we would have to see how it would pan out in reality; so far all is pretty great.

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Orange Is the New Black (s.01, 2013)

Orange Is the New Black is a drama with a touch of comedy about a girl (Piper Chapman) who was sentenced to a term in a minimal security prison for assisting drug trafficking some 10 years ago. It is based on the memoirs of Piper Kerman. The story follows Piper’s attempts to adapt to prison life and not lose her identity in the process, which proves to be extremely hard. Larry, her fiance, tries to be as supportive as he can, but some choices Chapman makes while behind bars, turn this task into an impossible one. Secondary storylines follow some of Chapman’s inmates paths, including those of Alex Vause, her former lover and the reason she’s got imprisoned; Miss Claudette Pelage, a Haiti native convicted for murder; Red, a Russian native and a power figure; Crazy Eyes, a strange and intense girl with lots of talents and stage fright; Nicky Nichols, a hot and bright lesbian; Pennsatucky, a christian fundamentalist with mental issues; Laverne Cox, a transgender hairdresser. Prison staff also produces some major characters for the story, including COs mr. Healey, Joel Luschek, George “Pornstache” Mendez and John Bennett; Joe Caputo and Natalie Figueroa. There are many other characters, too many to count, each of whom comes with his or her own story.

I don’t have a lot of words for this show, except, maybe, that it’s extremely rich and perfect in a lot of ways. The thing I loved about it the most, that it impacts the viewer in a way consistent with how Piper’s life developments impacted her – after the 1st episode, I was pretty much terrified with all that’s been going on, and my only thought was that all the romanticization of prison life, all the attempts to rationalize this kind of experience, are utter bullshit, and that I would never want something like that happen to me; later, as Piper adjusted a little bit, found some friends and engaged into some not entirely unhealthy activities, it became easier, and, of course, humor enclosed in the numerous funny situations helped a lot, so I even thought to myself – it ain’t that bad; but then the scale achieved relative balance: I got the feeling that even though life in prison is still life, and people there are still people, I still would never want to get there, because not being able to exercise my will is still a horrible experience, no matter what they say. All those stages of understanding corresponded really well with what the heroine was going through, and in that I see a great achievement of the writers’ team, and especially of Jenji Kohan.

Like I said, the show is very rich, however, notwithstanding the abundance of characters and situations, it would be hard to get lost in them as everything in this story is well-structured and extremely well-balanced. And because the writing and the direction are so good, the narration feels so smooth and easy, you may not notice the time passed. The acting is amazing; all the cast members are in their proper places, and all of them do their job amazingly well. The setting, the makeup, the special effects, – there is literally not a single element of the concept, or the execution, that has been overlooked or tumbled.

This is a great show, because it’s both significant and entertaining, and also because it’s implemented with unparalleled dedication and talent. At least, so far.

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Frasier (s.08, 2000-01)

In the 8th season of Frasier the lie of the land disturbed by the Niles and Daphne’s mutual affection finally unsealed slowly restores to the usual state – over the course of the season, that is. Consequences of the sudden shift (necessity to uphold Niles’s fake marriage, law suits from Donny) fade away rather quickly; and N & D’s relationship slowly evolves to come to a turning point at a later stage, when psychological issues connected with it are recognized. Frasier goes through several unsuccessful relationships himself, reconnects with Lana (the homecoming queen) and becomes a sort of friends with her, which brings him into a relatively more significant relationship with woman named Clair. He also receives a lifetime achievement SeeBee award, goes into midlife crisis, and expands his show with a wine tasting section for a brief period of time. Roz struggles to find a proper man for herself, gets a god, and almost writes a children’s book. Daphne gets fat; Niles throws a basket ball and hits the target. Martin dates 2 women simultaneously, but fails both relationships; he later attends the parole hearing for the guy who caused his injury. The season ends with everybody going to Belize for a vacation.

This season is pretty great, even though the dramatic intensity is nowhere near what was fueling the previous one. Still, it’s a lot of fun to watch the development of all the principal storylines, most of all – that of Niles and Daphne’s relationship. I was a little worried it would be killed off somehow, but the writers chose to embrace it instead. The thing with the psychological issues accumulating during their first year and then bursting blended rather perfectly with Jane Leeves’s pregnancy, which was turned to the story’s advantage as the overeating problem. Frasier’s midlife crisis provoked by the SeeBee award is also a quite important landmark in the development of his character. Martin’s being at the parole hearing was a really nice touch as well, especially with him not being forgiving and not telling his close ones about it – this adds some cold reality to the whole thing.

At that, the quality of humor remains at pretty much the same level as it was before. Also, there were a lot of cases of sitcom entanglement, but none of them were concocted but quite plausible instead. The french break-up thing was really good (#15), as well as the John Glenn bit (#16; although that one can fuel some idle-headed conspiracy theories), the N&D’s transition to physical relationship was executed really nice (#19), as well as their relationship flashbacks, which were embedded rather skillfully, finally, the whole Claire intrigue was quite entertaining.

All in all, the show keeps being great, and for the 8th season in a row it’s kind of big deal.

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Castle (s.08, 2015-16)

The final season of Castle is pretty much the do-over of whatever scraps of the common plot were present over the course of previous 7 seasons. It still consists of unrelated investigation episodes for the most part, but the remaining ones are united in a relatively consistent narrative. As the story goes, senator Bracken turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg of a major conspiracy, which is centered around a mysterious person inside CIA called loksat, who is extremely powerful and extremely wicked analyst. He pulls strings connected to numerous significant figures in the same way he did with Bracken, and he’s very cautions, which is why nobody knows who he really is. Becket together with a guy named Vikram (who worked with Becket’s former DC team before they all got killed for approaching too close to loksat) works in secret to bring down the villain; at first she even separates from Castle in order to keep him safe, but later they join forces. Additionally, at some point Castle finds out that whatever he has learned before about his 2-month absence wasn’t all there is, and the remainder of that term he spent in LA and somehow learned about loksat in the process, which is the main reason he wanted his memory erased.

Okay, on the one hand, the plot of the 8th season is much better than that of any of the seasons before it. It’s basically a remake of the earlier chapters of the Bracken intrigue, only compressed into a denser story, and with better consistency factor. On the other hand, though, the story is weak, because outside of the season it has no roots whatsoever; and it is full of stretches and sentimental bullshit, same as before. The action is relatively good, but not as powerful as it potentially could have been due to lack of plausible psychological elaboration. New characters are rather nice – Toks Olagundoye as Hayley, Sunkrish Bala as Vikram; I suppose, you can even say they breathed some new life into the show, but the established ones are pretty much as they were, nothing really new there, although they are not completely without development: Alexis, for example, started working as a PI assistant, Martha wrote a book, Esposito became a sergeant, and Ryan had another child. Of course, none of those events matter very much.

You can see the show slowly dying out through some circumstantial signs: for example, Stana Katic was absent for 2 whole episodes, which never happened before. It’s rather natural that her refusal to participate in probable continuation of the series was one of the most crucial reasons season 9 never happened. The fatigue of the concept is obvious, the challenges grew too difficult, and combined with the fact that nothing about the show was ever brilliant in the first place, it kind of closed the deal. It also seems to me that the creator of the show, Andrew W. Marlowe stepped down as a show runner and a writer, and that Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter replaced him as the creative force behind it, although there’s not a word about it in wiki.

Now that I have watched this thing from beginning to end, I can say with absolute certainty that this show is mediocre, and save from a few interesting spikes isn’t worth wasting time on; that it had the cast much worthier than the writers, and that its main problems were lack of planning and arising from it lack of consistency, and contamination with sentimentality virus. Curiously enough, Castle is the evidence that this combination of disorders is not at all critical, and probably quite the contrary to it, as an average human mind is more disposed to handling the impotence of commonness than the might of true art.

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The Good Guys (s.01*, 2010)

The Good Guys is an action comedy and a police procedural. It is about 2 detectives brought to work together as partners: one is Dan Stark, a great 1980s cop, whose methods are outdated and rough, but effective, second is Jack Bailey, a playing-by-the-book type, a complete opposite of Stark. Both got demoted to work on property crimes (burglaries, petty thefts, etc.), which is what they do, except that every single case they got leads to something significantly larger, mostly due to pure chance. They try very hard to get back to a better league, and they do produce results, but methods by which they produce them cancel out the positive outcomes, so they just preserve their position without moving forward. Over the course of the season Bailey tries to win back his ex-girlfriend, who’s a smoking hot assistant DA, while Stark manages to charm the hell out of every middle-aged woman he gets to deal with.

It is a comedy, so there is no cross-cutting story here; every episode tells a separate one connected to the others only through the main characters and their relationships with each other. The core idea is far from being original (starting with “opposites improving each other” and up to the concept of police procedural that does not deviate from the standard very much), plus a lot (no – A LOT) in those stories depend on coincidence and/or pure luck, but the execution is actually quite nice. The stylization, sound effects, etc. irritated me at first, but they are not so bad, really. The humor is good, and sometimes even great. There are a lot of wonderful secondary and circumstantial characters.

Frankly, I thought it would be a drag, especially considering unnatural for a comedy overall length, but it was enjoyable. The show’s nothing much from a position of the art of cinema, but it’s surely a wonderful entertainment. Real pity it was cancelled – by all means, it was better than Castle‘s 3rd season with which it partially overlapped. By the way, these 2 shows are very close to each other in terms of format, although they are defined differently. All in all, The Good Guys is a nice option for killing some time.

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