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Kleo - 2022 - 6/10

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Mid 1980’s, Stasi assassin Kleo glides from East Berlin to West, snuffing enemies.
With her last one, a mishap occurs and she is sentenced to prison.
Jump a few years, the Berlin Wall collapses and Kleo is released.
Why was she sentenced?  Who set her up?
She starts murdering her way up the ladder.
For an espionage thriller, this Is laced with black comedy.
Unlike so many series, the mid-section is strong.
The “conclusion” is a Netflix ending.  The show was clearly tying loose ends, when gorks chose to milk for S02.

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Mock The Week: S21 Final - 2022 - 7/10

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No!  Really?  Canceled?  Over and done?
Long running panel show hosted by Dara Ó Briain.
Brood chamber for dozens of young comedians, many of whom went on to gre****ess, or mass popularity.
I have watched and laughed for over a decade.
Where, oh where, will I get the warped take on British news, as well as the rest of the world?
Say it ain’t so.

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Black Wedding - 2021 - 7/10
AKA - Crna Svadba

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Supernatural mystery starts off with a bang.
Mass murder in a small village that draws in the police, both official and secret.
The story downshifts into slow boil, delving into Vlach curses, spells, beliefs.
On the fringe, keeping a wary eye, the Orthodox Church hierarchy.
And yes, priests have a role, as an ancient foe is gathering strength.
When society becomes cynical, when faith is lost, the community lies exposed for evil.
Such is the underlaying theme,
Serbian series may be too slow for the impatient, yet this is rich in details and atmosphere.
This ends on an unresolved peak and S02 is currently filming.
There feels like there is enough narrative for a decent second season.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Ipcress File - 2022 - 7/10

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“He’s not Michael Caine,”  said my wife.
“That was over 50 years ago,”  I said,  “and most won’t watch that nowadays because they won’t watch black n white.”
Six episode miniseries reboots Harry Palmer into the thick of Cold War espionage.
Here, Palmer is recruited out of prison.
Extremely intelligent, cheeky, yet not of the right class, so Palmer’s horizon is truncated.
After a scientist (nuclear weapons sort) is kidnapped the Ministry of Defence turns the matter over to a shadowy government agency, who offers Palmer a prison release and a possible future.
Dialogue is barbed wire sharp as adversaries UK, Soviet, USA, kidnappers circle and undermine each other.
Fans of spy thrillers, no it ain’t Michael Caine, but this is very good.

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Happily Married: S01 - 2020 - 7/10
AKA - C'est Comme ça Que je t'aime

Gaétan and Serge, neighbors and best friends, are married to Huguette and Micheline.
Only thing, Gaétan is banging Micheline, Serge’s wife.
Separately, Serge and Huguette decide to murder the adulterous pair.

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When attempts fail, the group swirls into the local underworld.
Canadian series is a knowing spoof of those seemingly endless crime dramas.
Not only that, but a spoof of 70’s shows.  Big cars, thick mustaches, coke.
The show is as smart as the characters assume they are.
And no, these folks are extraordinarily foolish.
(A running tally of dead bodies is thoughtfully provided.)
One of the better comedies I’ve seen in years.

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Camping - 2016 - 6/10

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Weekend campout / birthday celebration in the cabins, close by a beach.
The mild-mannered man and his overbearing wife.
Our caretaker, who could be janitor at Camp Crystal Lake.
Enter the late arrivals, the recently separated man and his eager beaver girlfriend.
Add alcohol, old resentments, jealousy, rampant sexual antics.
Wildly incorrect Julia Davis series boasts drug use, nudity, unappealing ruttings.
If you have a taste for Julia Davis’s work, this is laugh out loud funny.
Beware the sanitized USA remake.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bones Of Steel - 2020 - Japan

Bones Of Steel - 2020 - 6/10
AKA - Tetsu no hone  // 鉄の骨
 

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Heita (right) works as site inspector for the construction firm.
His overzealousness gets him transferred to HQ Operations.
Abilities, idealism, or less obvious reasons.
The mid-sized company has trouble competing against the large groups.
Nevertheless, all outfits engage in illegal bid-rigging and collusion.
Legal and ethical concerns weigh against company loyalty and climbing the corporate ladder.
Sharp “business drama” is a mere five episodes, so easily watched.
If you develop a taste for this, check out the superb Hanzawa Naoki.

 

Edited by Vultural

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Strangled - 2016 - Hungary

Strangled - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - A Martfüi Rém
 

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Réti stalks his girlfriend as she leaves the shoe factory, attempting to reconcile.
Not interested.  So he threatens her, smacks her, and the next morning her body is found.
After a few days of police interrogation he confesses and is sent to prison.  Case closed.
Except a few years later, a similar murder occurs.  Followed by another, then another.
Local police come under extreme pressure.
Communistic Hungary does not make mistakes!  There is no serial killer in Communistic Hungary.
In other words, investigators cannot let on there is a sex murderer loose.
Or that the State could possibly have made a mistake.
Political interference and restrictions enhance based-on-actual-murders series.

 

Edited by Vultural

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Cornwall And Devon Walks With Julia Bradbury - 2020 - UK

Cornwall And Devon Walks With Julia Bradbury - 2020 - 6/10

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“Wow!  Would you look at that!”  Later,  “My God, look at this!”
And so it goes.
Julia Bradbury, who I have enjoyed in previous docs, has developed chronic jabberjaw.
She comes across as an American teenage cheerleader on cocaine.
Besides constant camera mugging, she is incapable of simply appreciating the obvious.
Whenever she is with anyone, Julia is at least 3 dB louder than they are.
More than once, you can see guides or guests, put off, who refuse to engage with her.
Score is for breathtaking scenery.
Advice.  If you go on a walk with Julia, wear earplugs.  She cannot help herself.

 

Edited by Vultural

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SS-GB - 2017 - UK

 

SS-GB - 2017 - 7/10

Imaginative series presupposes the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 was not broken.
The Wehrmacht sweeps through Europe, and the Luftwaffe overwhelms the RAF.
As the German Army occupies Britain, waiting to take control stands the SS.
After the Resistance murders an inconsequential black market dealer, Scotland Yard investigates.
 

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The pacing is steady, a handful of threads coiling around the mystery.
Production detail is an overripe blend of tainted grandeur and full Noir.
 

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For those who gave up on The Man In The High Castle series, this ought to be easier.
Five episodes, a constant narrative thrust, and a few good misdirects.
The Scotland Yard inspector strikes me more as an SD operative, perhaps by design.
While the finale is a trifle open-ended, this should satisfy most.

 

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  • 1 year later...

Kinpika - 2016 - Japan

Kinpika - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - きんぴか

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What do a yakuza enforcer, recently released from prison, a disgraced political aspirant, and a discharged combat soldier have in common?
Give up?  Yeah, well, nothing.
Except a retired police commissioner puts the trio together, gives them swank digs, and lets them right wrongs.
Guts, muscles and brains.  Age-old premise of the mismatched unit bonding.
Slick, stylish, empty headed.
At five episodes, this is worth a watch, **** easily through into eyes and out the back of your skull.
Edited by Vultural

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OVNI(s) - 2021 - France

OVNI(s) - 2021 - 6/10
 
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An optimist gazes at the stars and thinks, “We are not alone.  If aliens arrive, they will surely help us.”
The skeptic thinks,  “Encounters between advanced civilizations and primitive ones always spell disaster for the less developed.”
The cynic thinks, “Why come to a backwater planet, where every single creature murders the other?”  
Rocket scientist Mathure’s vessel explodes soon after liftoff and he is shunted down to GEPAN.
A tiny government agency investigating UFO reports.
Mathure, who desperately wants back into rockets, is caught between two powerful factions.
One wants him to close the pointless agency, one wants him to prove UFO’s exist.
Set in the late 70’s (the look is spot-on), this light comedy is filled with goofy characters, and very odd moments.
For the Fox Mulders out there, believers, this is for you.
Edited by Vultural

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Winter Walks - 2020 - UK

Winter Walks - 2020 - 7/10
 

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Quiet outdoor series proves a refreshing alternative to similar programs hosted by noisy blabbermouths.
A different host each week rambles along a favorite route.
This is winter, and one feels the cold simply watching.
Plus side, there are no turistas.
Hosts vary between perceptive and insightful and those who may be slyly self-serving.
Those sensitive to their surroundings resonate best.
“What was once this kind of powerhouse of industry and prayer and culture
and civilisation, became a memory, an echo. Just an outline of what it had been before.”

Rev Richard Coles (S01E05)

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Blackout - 2021 - Germany

Blackout - 2021 - 6/10
 

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Across Europe, the lights go out as the entire power grid fails.
No accident, either, but terrorism enacted by … there’s another problem.
Are “unfriendly” neighbors, who offer aid, actually guilty?
Four plotlines:  two children (pointless, added for parental demographics).
Manzano, classic Hitchcockian type.  Innocent who is the police’s prime suspect.
Nuclear power plant.  Will it blow?  When will it blow?
Bickering government officials.
Don’t probe too deeply and this thriller should satisfy.  At six episodes, a digestible length, too.

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Paris Police 1900 - 2021 - France

Paris Police 1900 - 2021 - 7/10  
 

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Perhaps better for French history majors, but one should be able to keep up with references.
In this case, the ongoing, divisive Dreyfus Affair, which the military is unable to cover-up, and agitators are exploiting.
The root is anti-Semitism, which, like any hatred, is a toxic stew of hatred of the other, self-hatred and fear.
Dreyfus is background to the sexual intrigues, assassinations, beatings, animal cruelty.
And yes, the treatment of animals in this is fairly shocking.
E07 ends on a momentous cliffhanger.  The resolution of that is particularly lame.
Excellent series, and I plan to view the followup, Paris Police 1905.

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The Fall Of The House Of Usher - 2023 - USA

The Fall Of The House Of Usher - 2023 - 7/10
 

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Diabolical spin on the opioid billionaire Sackler family steeped in Poe.
One by one, the scions are dying.  Deaths ugly, brutal, horrifying.  One day after another.
Can any spy a pattern?  No, because they are the definition of stupid rich.
Roderick Usher invites his long time nemesis, Augustus Dupin, for a drink ‘n’ confess session.
And the history, shady deals, deviltry, trickle out over a short season.
Packed with poetry, allusions, character references, story spins, this should delight knowledgeable Poe fans.
Non-readers?  Fear not, plenty of deaths and gore to satisfy bloodlust.
Most of the males are weak or stupid.  Two daughters deserved more screen time (Camille especially).
I shun Hollywood TV soaps, but this one concludes.  No unresolved cliffhangers.

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Trapped - 2015 - Iceland

Trapped - 2015 - 7/10
AKA - Ófærð
 

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A body is fished out of the harbor.  Actually a torso.
The body had been chopped up, while the cruise ship anchored nearby.
A vessel apparently engaged in human trafficking.
As for the harbor?  Chinese investors want to transform it into a mega port.
If enough locals are willing to sell their land, to their elected officials in charge.
Icelandic series follows numerous threads on a small island community.
Blizzard conditions mean the tiny police force is on their own.
Inspired plotting in this modern Noir.

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This England - 2022 - UK

This England - 2022 - 6/10
 

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Done with the Covid pandemic already?  Well, it’s not done with you.
Newly elected PM Boris Johnson and cabinet have plans, big plans, for overhauling the nation.
Only thing, there is new mysterious disease erupting in China … then Italy
While the government dithers, the disease arrives in the UK, and spreads exponentially.
Scene after scene of an individual coughing, leading inexorably to the last gasp.
Kenneth Branagh is uncanny as Johnson.
Too much time, however, is wasted with his ditzy girlfriend / wife.
More, excruciatingly so, is given to that damned dog of theirs.
Those who relish suffering hospital dramas will be in heaven.
Others may find this a puzzling misfire.

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Revenant - 2023 - S Korea

Revenant - 2023 - 6/10
AKA - Akgwi // 악귀
 

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“Beware of the handshake, that hides a snake.
“For smiling faces, smiling faces tell lies, and I got proof.”
Our heroine is possessed by a ghost, beneficial at times, murderous at others.
Trying to aid her, and exorcise the spirit, is a folklore professor.
Meandering K-drama goes full bore into supernatural, shamanism, fetishes, and violent deaths.
The narrative drags in the middle and is repetitive.
Plus, the mother is extremely tiresome; an anxious, fearful, foolish, nonstop whiner.
A fun watch, nevertheless, for its theme of what some will do for good fortune.
Finale is fairly enthralling, as twist piles up twist, clever opponents outguessing each other.

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Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley On The Mystery Queen - 2022 - UK

Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley On The Mystery Queen - 2022 - 7/10
 

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Fine attempt to pinpoint Christie, who seems an elusive figure behind the facade.
Three part documentary is about the individual, not necessarily her output.
Privileged childhood, before Father squandered all the money.
Great War service, early writing (the Mary Westmacott novels are the most revealing).
Marple, Poirot, the still unexplained disappearance.
Numerous old photographs enhance the proceedings, and Ms Worsley offers some of her own theories.
All in all, essential for Christie buffs, although best taken with a grain of salt.

 

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