Catching Up…

I’ve had tunnel vision the last few months to focus on book indexing, editing, and revisions on three projects and have not been posting much.  My viewing and blogging have suffered, but I’m about to catch a breath and start catching up.

While I’ve not been out to the movies as much as I would like, I am indulging in some TV on lunch breaks and before I go to bed — one recent series that dropped a new season and three to catch up on!

Following, find brief takes on Season Four of Orange is the New Black, one of my favorite recent series, and my belated attraction to JustifiedThe Americans, and Bosch.

Orange

The buzz among my friends has been mixed.

Several have found this season “too dark,” but I believe the narrative arc for the season is the most cohesive one yet ideologically (the dangers of privatizing government entities) and in terms of plot (what happens when profit comes before people).

There’s more, of course, in terms of themes explored, but this overarches it all.

I’m not one for spoilers, and it is possible that someone in my orbit who intends to has not finished watching the new episodes, so I’ll refrain from any story details here.  But, I must say that while I will miss my favorite character next season, it sometimes takes a big loss to drive home the most important points.  Enough said here.

What’s old is still new to me, and my enthusiasm for this series is certainly Justified.

People have been nagging me for years to catch up with the FX law enforcement series, but it took my son and the easy access provided by Amazon Prime (this really isn’t a commercial) to get me to dive into the stream.

Justified

My son has been dropping by my house on his lunch breaks lately, and — thinking back to the pleasures of the days when we sat on the sofa every week watching King of the Hill — I’ve been trying to think of a show we might like to watch together over whatever meal I’ve concocted for the day.

We took a look at the pilot episode of Justified and both were hooked.  The premise is full of plot possibilities, the location is fresh, and the writing is sharp and inventive.  I think it may be the dialogue that seals the deal for us.

Every episode — we’re about two-thirds of the way through the first season — we turn to one another once or twice or even three times to laugh or grimace or otherwise acknowledge an artful or shocking or hilarious turn of phrase.

Based on an Elmore Leonard short story, Timothy Olyphant plays a U.S. Marshall in Justified who is assigned to the last place on earth he wants to go, his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky.

As much as I enjoyed Olyphant in Deadwood, I think I like him even better wearing this badge.

There is a special joy, I think, in starting to dive into a streaming series after the show has ended because you know exactly what you are getting into and can control the flow of episodes.

I’m looking forward to watching all six seasons of Justified with my son.

And, why didn’t I listen to all of the critics and friends who have been touting The Americans, another FX series with three seasons currently streaming on Amazon Prime?  Just too much TV and too little time, I guess.

That and the fact that the premise seemed likely to be too schlocky for me.  In fact, it is anything but that.

The Americans

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Russian spies who have been in the United States for twenty years with cover that includes a travel agency the run together, a suburban home, a marriage, and two children they have had together.

Wow.

The thing I didn’t expect is that the emotional layers are even more complex than the espionage.  This is a thoughtful and very smart series.

The Americans is beautifully produced, too.  The production design, cinematography, editing are all top-notch.  It’s one of the best TV series I’ve seen in recent years.

You have plenty of time to catch up, too, before the fifth season in 2017 and the sixth and final season in 2018.

Since this post starts off with a nod to Netflix before the remainder reads like a valentine to Amazon, why not conclude with an original Amazon Studios series that I binged my way through right after my semester ended in May.

Bosch

Bosch was developed for Amazon by Eric Overmyer (a familiar name to fans of The Wire and Treme).  While I wouldn’t classify the series as groundbreaking, it is a solid and engaging bit of neo-noir, another beautifully shot series.

Titus Welliver (hey, another Deadwood alum) is terrific as Harry Bosch, an LA police detective who is a bit of a renegade.  (Several familiar faces from The Wire and Treme appear in this series, too, which makes it all feel a little like old home week each episode.  That is a good thing.)

Each of the existing seasons follows a single case, and the anthology style works well here as a welcome departure from formulaic procedurals glutting network television that wrap up a case neaty each episode.  There are two ten-episode seasons of Bosch ready to watch, and the series has been renewed for a third.

Happy streaming!

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