From Dale Price
Fans of British crime dramas are easily among the best catered to groups on Netflix, with Luther, Wallander, The Fall, Sherlock and more still popping up periodically. Happy Valley is the latest BBC drama to surface, and it’s another cracker.
Starring Sarah Lancashire as tough police sergeant Catherine Cawood, the six hour-long episodes cover the intertwining stories of a bungled kidnapping, the release of Cawood’s daughter’s rapist from prison and the bubbling tensions that surface as a result.
Without spoiling too much, the kidnap plot owes a huge debt to Fargo. Almost comical mastermind Kevin Weatherill (played by the excellent Steve Pemberton) resembled William H Macy’s Jerry in many ways – not least his motivations and response to the increased violence. And the violence is extremely graphic for a show that aired on terrestrial TV and not a premium cable channel.
As the plot moves away from the kidnapping to family drama and a side plot involving Cawood’s grandson, things derail a little, but it held me rapt enough that I’m looking forward to the second season. Sarah Lancashire’s performance is credible, and the cast around her mostly keep their end of the bargain. Chiefly Rhys Connah as her grandson Ryan, and James Norton as antagonist Tommy Lee Royce.
Good Morning, Vietnam
From Alex Lowe
I’m sure Netflix has seen a huge spike in Robin Williams’ searches after the actors death last month, and answering the call, they’ve added Good Morning, Vietnam.
Williams plays a radio DJ, brought to Vietnam to run Radio Saigon. Adrian Cronauer, much like Williams, is a comedic genius and impressionist extraordinaire. His antics on the radio entertain everyone except the hardassed supervising officers directly above him. Things are complicated when he begins to teach an English class to meet a girl, but instead defends her brother. That boy shows Cronauer much more of Vietnam than he ever planned on seeing.
As a kid, Good Morning, Vietnam was about watching Williams act like a fool, doing impressions on the radio. Rewatching as and adult, the way Williams handles the more serious scenes is masterful and the way Barry Levinson directs the moments of distress surrounding the building conflict really makes the movie.
Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23
From Claire Rychlewski
Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23 is a modern-day spin on the Odd Couple— we have June, a cookie-baking, wide-eyed Indianan new to the big bad NYC, and Chloe, a sociopathic yet inexplicably charming narcissist, played here by the delightful Krysten Ritter (a talented and authentic actress who I hope to see showcased more in future works). The show has the potential to be formulaic, but the writing is fresh and hilarious. Ritter’s Chloe is simultaneously the friend you’ve always wanted and the roommate you’ve always feared having, and June, played by Dreama Walker, starts out a bit flat, but quickly grows into her own quirks.
James Van Der Beek also appears here, playing himself—or, perhaps, an incredibly vain and self-absorbed version of himself, though truth be told, I don’t know him well enough to say—and his assistant Luther provides more comedic gold as a play-writing, yoga-loving, shade-throwing diva half in love with “The Beek.” Dawson’s Creek is brought up just as much as it should be.
Don’t Trust the B is unpredictable and laugh-out-loud funny—two qualities more television shows should strive for. It’s a shame the show was canceled after only two seasons, but it’s occasions like these when I truly appreciate Netflix. Go watch!
Hilarious – Louis CK
From Jackson Lewis
I won’t say this comedy routine is hilarious, but only because Louis C.K. goes on the greatest rant about the way we use words that pop like ‘hilarious’ and ‘awesome’ entirely too much. He covers a wide and random range of topics from the ungrateful bastards that use technology they don’t deserve to the unexpected danger that wild Italian ponies pose to innocent children.
For those not familiar with Louis C.K., his words are not for the easily offended. He will yell expletives and make up metaphors that have nothing to do with the topic. Even so, these dirty asides are, I will say it after all, hilarious.
On top of it all, Louis has a rare talent. He can go on and on about society’s faults and our imperfections but still seem like the most humble guy on earth. Also, you’ll never look at In-Flight Wifi the same.