Highlights of our TV watching month!
Featuring: Ozark, Brassic 2, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, The Last Dance, Code 404, Homeland, Afterlife 2 and Breeders.
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 May…
First-up was Ozark. This had to be a bit of a binge-fest as we had not seen any of it and it had 3 series of 10 episodes each. That was no problem though as it was very good!
The acting is great and the lead roles of Marty and Wendy are superbly executed. For me however Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore is the real star. I didn’t like her character at first but as the show progressed it was hard not to warm to her, despite her ungraceful ways.
Ozark is up there as one of the best shows on Netflix and hopefully their are works in the planning for Series 4.
Still on Netflix and drip-fed to us over several weeks was The Last Dance which could well go down as the most outstanding sports documentary of all time.
Reliving the story of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teams throughout the 90’s, the series primarily focused on the pursuit of a record breaking sixth title in eight years in 1997-98 while also confirming Jordan’s status as the Greatest Of All Time in the sport.
Alongside the main narrative, the series also dives deep into the history of the team itself, and of course, the greatest player to ever take to the basketball court. The Last Dance is a wonderful, informative, and entertaining documentary the really gets us to see the winning mentality needed to succeed at the top level of sport.
I’m no big basketball fan but you don’t need to be, the winning mindset on display here is incredible and quite inspiring.
Following Tiger King this is high up on the Netflix must watch list.
Another show that needs to be high up in the charts is Afterlife. Specifically in this case, Afterlife 2.
In the first series of Afterlife we saw Tony struggling to deal with the grief of losing his wife Lisa at an early age to Cancer. In Afterlife 2 we get more of the same and once again, it’s an emotional ride of tears and laughter.
Ricky Gervais is a genius in getting us to emotionally respond to his characters and although this series has more sadness than laughs compared to the first one this 6-parter is must-watch TV and definitely one of the best shows ever written.
Not for kids, Afterlife 2 has more ‘C’ words than anything else on TV and they often come out of the mouths of the most unexpected people. Even just writing about it now makes me laugh as I remind myself of the scenes and events that went on.
It’s just great – go watch.
Away from the big red N we watched a couple of good series on Sky during May.
Code 404 was a Comedy Police drama where Daniel Mays plays DI John Major, an undercover policeman shot dead during a drugs sting gone wrong. His best mate and fellow copper DI Roy Carver (Stephen Graham) is distraught, not least because it was his lapse in concentration that led to Major’s death.
Major gets to investigate his own murder, as he returns as some sort of part human / part robot and sets about discovering who put him to rest.
The mystery of the murder gets solved and with the usual whodunnit twist involved but this is not really a crime drama and more a comedy series. Quite unique really in it’s making but found somewhere on the scale between The Bill and Police Academy.
I don’t think this is for everyone but it was for me. Just what is needed in these times of sorrow, something to laugh out loud to and not to take too seriously.
In a similar Comedy / Crime drama way Brassic 2 also entertained us this week. We really enjoyed series one so were glad that this was re-appearing on our screens.
Brassic’s charms are not for everyone – It’s crude and lewd and certainly not for young eyes. The connection between the leading characters is what makes it great though and you genuinely hope that they will succeed in their dangerous escapades. A feel good funny comedy and right up my street.
Staying on the Sky comedy front Breeders was a decent series that had a 10-show run in recent weeks. It stars Martin Freeman as Paul and Daisy Haggard as Ally, a couple that struggle to keep sane while raising their 2 children, Luke and Ava. The kids are generally well-behaved but they are involved in daily events that infuriate their parents, especially Dad, leading to them often being on the receiving end of a few choice words.
I could empathise with a lot of things that they go through as parents so found it an easy watch with many moments of laughter.
Despite now having 8 seasons under it’s belt Homeland is still powerful, extremely relevant and consistently one of the best shows on TV.
The latest 12-part offering has just concluded and in my opinion it was probably the best Homeland series since the first couple and as a result keeps at the top of my favourite TV shows of all time.
In Season 8, Carrie Mathison is recovering from brutal confinement in a Russian gulag. Her body is healing, but her memory remains fractured. This is a problem for Saul, National Security Advisor to President Warner, as he has been dispatched to engage the Taliban in Afghanistan peace negotiations. But with Kabul being such a dangerous place Saul needs the relationships and expertise that only his protégé can provide. Against medical advice, Saul asks Carrie to walk with him into the lion’s den and she is only too happy to oblige.
We see a lot of similarities between the show and events in the real world – from migrant crisis to social media rigged elections plus a trigger-happy leader of the free world. This all adds to the realism and the writers must be given credit for being bang on trend and being happy to confront issues that could be seen as being to close to home.
It all builds up to a final scene that is a classic and would have brought a smile to fans of the show who have loved the first 8 series and are hopeful for a 9th.
Just the one film this month but it was a good one – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The latest, and probably final, film in the Star Wars franchise was released on Sky on May the 4th and as a big fan of the now 9-part series I thought I better gather the family around, bring in the popcorn and give it a watch.
As a kid I loved Star Wars and still do now. Fortunately my youngest is into it and I even named my middle child Luke after the star of the show.
For us oldies it is great to see short cameos from Han Solo, Lando, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in this film, giving a great nod to the past while also finally passing the baton on. The scenes that show the end of Leia are also quite moving for people like me who grew up with Carrie Fisher as a heroine but her time is now over and Rey has been given the power to take control.
Rey is the main focus of Rise of the Skywalker and does a great job leading the resistance to glory over the dark side. We now have answers to questions we have posed and with the death of many key players you do have to wonder where Disney will head with this one in the future.
They are sure to not let it just fade away as this is a real money-maker for them with this latest instalment returning over $1billion at the box-office with just a quarter of that spent in outlay.
Add that to merchandise and Digital sales and we are sure to see some version of Star Wars on our screens again soon.
Until then watch this one. Sure it’s not up there with the originals but there are plenty of pointers to those and the fight scenes are settings are still great.
That wraps up May, it wasn’t all we watched but they were certainly some of our telly highlights.