Highlights of our TV watching month!
Featuring: Jeffrey Epstein, McMillions, The First Team, White Lines, When They See Us, Lance, The Woods and The Staircase.
With the country in Lockdown the telly was getting more of a hammering than usual. Here I round up some of the best shows we watched during June…
Starting this month on BBC with The First Team.
This was probably the weakest of all the shows to get a mention but I didn’t give up on it and probably managed the odd laugh.
The First Team is a comedy written by the creators of the Inbetweeners that follows three young footballers Mattie, Jack and Benji, and their adventures with terrifying team hard-man Petey, mercurial Italian manager Cesare and eccentric chairman Mark Crane.
We don’t see any match action but instead get a lot of locker room banter and off-the-field shenanigans.
It’s a slow build but bear with it — by episode two it feels a lot more confident and funny and by number six you could probably stomach a couple more.
That was it though, a short swift half dozen episodes with an ending that could easily be continued – if it gets a decent reception I guess.
Sky had been bigging up their new docu-series McMillions, so I gave it a watch at the start of the month.
I remember playing the Monopoly game at McDonalds when I was younger, hoping to win big but only able to occasionally be gifted the odd Apple Pie.
Although I never got near one atleast here in England the big prizes were available to be won, but over in the US they were not. The competition was fixed – not that McDonalds were aware though.
From Executive Producer Mark Wahlberg, McMillion$ takes a look into the con that allowed one man to rig the results of McDonald’s popular Monopoly game for an entire decade.
I think my hopes were too high for this one and I was let down to be honest. The storyline is a good one but it took too long to get there and had too many diversions.
Just like a McDonalds hambuger ‘McMillions’ is OK in small doses, but you certainly wouldn’t want to feast on it for the rest of your life.
Far more appetising was the sports documentary LANCE, part of the 30 for 30 series on BT Sport.
LANCE is a definitive look back at the complex life of Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times before being caught doping and subsequently trying to end the careers of those once in his inner circle.
Now I came into this being fully aware of Armstrong’s career, plus had watched his Oprah Winfrey interview where he had come clean about his drug-taking past.
Therefore I had formed an opinion that he was not one of life’s nice guys and probably deserved all of the bad press that had come his way.
After watching this near 4-hour special, I still have that opinion. And maybe now the dislike of him has grown slightly larger.
He clearly agreed to the show in the hope of changing people’s opinions of him. He failed.
I liked this, liked it a lot.
Another slippery character was next on my viewing but this time it was someone I knew little about.
Just released on Netflix is a 4-part docu-series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. A show that exams the life and crimes of the disgraced American financier and friend of people in high places.
Stories from survivors fuel this shocking series examining how convicted sex offender Epstein used his wealth and power to carry out his abuses.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I started watching it as all I really knew about him was that he seemed to be the person that set Prince Andrew up with a underage girl, which the Prince has recently denied. Little did I know what a horrible person Epstein was and it is unbelievable that he was able to get away with what he did for so long.
We got to see how he carried out his crimes and for that reason it was compelling viewing although hard to watch at times.
There was a lot wrong with the series, in terms of production, but the content alone meant that it was worth a watch.
Next-up for my viewing pleasure was a Netflix 10-parter called White Lines.
Now a few people had recommended it but I had put it off as in the short trailers I had seen I wasn’t impressed and really thought it was not going to be my cup of tea.
I was expecting it to be a bit ‘Love Islandy’ with some plastic people larking it around in the sun, swearing for no reason and flashing the flesh – with the series lacking a decent storyline.
I was wrong.
Well, there was lots of swearing…. Lots of flesh on show – it’s certainly not for kids…. and lots of larking around in the sun – Mostly while taking drugs. But the storyline is o.k, the acting is good and I am glad I stuck it on.
With so much division in the world right now certain shows are getting some deserved attention and because of this I got to see series that would normally have passed me by.
Released last year When They See Us is the true story of five young black teenagers teens from Harlem who become trapped in a nightmare when they’re falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park.
Despite there being no evidence, no witnesses, no DNA and no motive the prosecution do all they can to make them look guilty and amazingly the Judicial System agrees.
They all receive Jail time, which is as expected a horrible ordeal.
I watched most of it with my mouth open in shock that this actually happened in real life! It was quite unbelievable.
My biggest bit of advice, other than to watch it, is once you have, watch the Oprah Winfrey show where she interviews the 5 men and hears the story of how it has all affected them. It’s also on Netflix, and is emotional stuff.
I had been looking forward to watching The Woods since I had heard it was on the way as I had really enjoyed Harlan Coben’s previous work, The Stranger and Safe.
The American Crime Writer has a 14 book deal with Netflix so the future looks good if you are a fan but was the Woods as good as those the came before? The answer for me is No. Overall as was quite disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high.
‘The Woods’ is set in Poland, where county Prosecutor Pawel Kopinski hunts for answers surrounding his sister’s disappearance 25 years earlier.
And the main poblem with it, is that it is filmed in Poland.
My biggest issue, and there were a few, was with to do with the fact it is filmed in Polish and dubbed over in English, but not very well.
This severly distracted me and I couldn’t shake it off however much I tried.
Even without that I don’t think it was good enough and I felt quite let down by it in the end.
Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Luckily I managed to finish the month on a high by watching a bit of a random one called The Staircase.
An incredible docuseries following events around a potential murder and resulting court case.
In December 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their mansion in Durham, North Carolina. Her husband, novelist Michael Peterson, said that his wife had fallen, but he was tried for her murder.
This titanic piece of work, shown in 13 parts on Netflix, gives us real-time and behind the scenes action from the side of Michael Peterson and his defence team.
He battles through court cases and a spell in prison and we get to see how it all unfolded, while no doubt making our own opinion on whether he was guilty or not.
I have no doubts that he was, however the missus disagrees and believes his story. Madness.
The accused and certain other people that appear are fascinating characters that make it binge-watch material.
A real gem to end the month on and I am glad I stumbled across it.
Let’s hope July brings more of the same.