As we all have a lot of time on our hands, here is my list of things to watch: The New Pope (and the old series, with Jude Law) If you love art, design, costumes, dialogue with flair, religion, pomp and ceremony with a lot of naked bodies, this is your series. Often over-the-top. this series by director Paolo Sorrentino (The Grand Beauty) is a series with a grand vision of things. In the New Pope, his theme appears to be a great concern for the lost amongst us—children with defects, the lost parents of those children, a dwarf nun, drugs, nudity, the politics of the church all get scrambled into one great nine-week series. You don’t need to back to the older series, just understand that Jude Law was the young Pope who had a stroke and has been in a coma, while laconic John Malkovich comes into the picture as Sir John Brannox, a man with a taste for great clothes while his politics run in the middle (the middle way) and his own unhappiness informs nearly all his decisions. There are gay priests, lesbians, drug addicts, werewolves and dancing nuns—it doesn’t get much better than this. The final episode, the Ninth Episode rises above the usual final series ambiguity—all the questions are answered, yet remain shrouded in mystery nonetheless: The last scene is Jude Law wearing a small white bathing suit heading into the ocean, he pauses, he winks at the camera. We are left with people in their rightful places, Cardinal Voiello has appropriately risen to a higher station, Sofia Dubois has taken a lover, the bad people are in jail, and a child has become a pain in the ass
The Prime Video, Hunters created by David Weil and produced by Jordan Peele plays games with some serious issues.
Hunters: a little hard to take seriously when in one scene you have the Nazis using Jews as a pawns in a very real game of chess in concentration camps and in the next, you are treated to a Marvel Comic portrayal of a group of Nazi hunters. This doesn’t happen often but then it does—as in the short game show sequence called “Hate the Jew” its last question is why we hate the Jews—the answer is, “because they’re Jewish.” Nonsensical and ridiculous it still never fails to compel further watching—and they may be its best promotion—it has audacity. It also has Al Pacino doing Al Pacino, but with a Yiddish accent. Logan Lerman, has and remains a fine actor as he heads into adulthood. Other standouts are Josh Radnor as Lonny Flash, Dylan Baker as Bif Simpson (a delicious if not completely absurd role) and a special nod to Greg Austin who plays Travis Leich, a very scary, threatening presence that seems right at home in the world of today. A very special award-winning performance is rendered by Carol Kane as Mindy Markowitz—rarely has loss been so sensitively portrayed. Needless to say, this show is about something that actually did happen in America, Operation Paperclip, and it answers that nagging question we all have had: where did the Nazi scientists go after the war?
The Hulu/FX Network show DEV: why is the daughter a statue? This and other existential questions are asked.
Screening recently is the compelling series, DEV, on Hulu and FX networks. Written and directed by show creator Alex Garland (of Ex Machina fame) this series takes us to a northern California quantum computer company called Amaya. Ponder this: a quantum computer company. Yes, this show gets heady, it gets complicated: it’s a love story, a murder mystery, a suspenseful corporate spy espionage story, a philosophical look into what is “determinism”, what is time, what is past and so on. So, it’s light stuff, and it moves, speaking of time, rather slowly. But it has a sensational Sonoya Mizuno (also in Ex Machina), Nick Offerman, Karl Glusman and the terrific Jin Ha, who played Annas in 2018’s live version of Jesus Christ Superstar on television.
This is show not without humor—for example, in one scene, we are treated to a blurry version of Arthur Miller screwing Marilyn Monroe and a short discussion on why progress in human nature always ends in porn. Fair enough. My own suspicion is that this about time travel, reality and not to give too much away, I think we will see the important events unfold in the golden room where all the quantum things take place.
The Great Expanse shows us that the future, everyone will be beautiful.
The Great Expanse: Hundreds of years in the future, things are different than what we are used to after humans have colonized the solar system and Mars has become an independent military power. Rising tensions between Earth and Mars have put them on the brink of war. Against this backdrop, a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain come together to investigate the case of a missing young woman. The investigation leads them on a race across the solar system that could expose the greatest conspiracy in human history. Starring Steve Strait—a beauty of an actor, tall, lean, loves to show his 12 pack, and like nearly every character on this show, has full lips. Can get a little confusing with so many story lines, there are a lot of characters, but as the series develops it gets better and better.
Off to a slow start, but we all await the “Paint it Black” moment in this unique series.
Westworld. A new season, a new setting, some new cast members and somewhat difficult to get into. Maybe for those us in Los Angeles, seeing that MacArthur Park and The MacArthur building as shooting locations takes us very far from the dystopian world of the West in the previous shows. It also begins to have a Blade Runnerish quality. It’s early, it’s too soon to know where it’s going, but we apparently have time, a lot of time to spend, catching up.