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Paris Police 1905 - 2022 - France

Paris Police 1905 - 2022 - 6/10
 

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Five years have passed since Paris Police 1900, yet the brutality of the 15th century endures.
Where the first outing wrestled with huge issues, the Dreyfus Affair, street riots, attempts to undermine stability, this focuses on bodily functions.
Prostitution, sodomy, syphilis, perverts, inverts, quack cures, who does what to who, and who photographs the deeds.
The themes are simply not as compelling.
Chances are, this would have carried more weight 40 years ago – and it never would have been made.
Acting and direction are stellar, lavish sets, gloomy cinematography, stark tone.

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A Very British Scandal - 2021 - UK


A Very British Scandal - 2021 - 7/10
 

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How very unpleasant.
Sordid breakup of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in 1963.
She comes across as an insatiable narcissist, he an alcoholic financial sponge.
Both are extraordinarily repellent and crass.  Aristocratic white trash.
Acting is fierce and unsettling; one gathers the narrative is quasi-faithful.
Champions of women’s empowerment will be sorely vexed.
Margaret is hardly a role model, while the world she inhabits – it’s a man’s world.

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Good People - 2022 - Belgium

Good People - 2022 - 6/10
AKA - Des Gens Bien
 

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Their car skids off the road, hurtles downhill, explodes into flames.
Tom escapes, while Linda is burned beyond recognition.  And they had been very much in love.
What the hey, she had been insured to the max, which will come in handy for Tom.
Debt, huge debt, embarrassing obligations.
Almost everyone buys his version of events.  Almost.
Tom can barely keep his lies straight, his anxiety is soaring, while the sexual blackmail is best left unmentioned.
Extremely funny murder series lacks complete closure (producers gambled for a S02 and lost), yet any viewer with a passable IQ should be able to stitch this up.

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Spy/Master - 2023 - Romania

Spy/Master - 2023 - 6/10
 

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Romanian Dictator Ceausescu's right-hand, Victor Godeanu, needs to defect.
Long a KGB sleeper agent, Romanian security is beginning to out him.
Bad timing.  Washington, transfixed by the 1978 Camp David talks refuses to commit itself.
Instead, Godeanu is left with a devious and inexperienced CIA handler.
A Romanian series, this steers a wary course.
The US is distracted, Soviet Union formidable, Romanian Intelligence relentless.
Decent espionage thriller, based loosely on Ion Mihai Pacepa, parts are better than the whole.

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A Very English Scandal - 2018 - UK

A Very English Scandal - 2018 - 7/10  
 

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Early 1960’s, Lib-Dem party leader, Jeremy Thorpe initiates an affair Norman Scott.
As with almost all romantic relationships, it comes to a sloppy end.
Jeremy, however reckless, is highly ambitious, and Norman, well, he is emotionally unstable.
He needs his National Employment card for work and health benefits.
Homosexual laws and stigma informs this brief series, but do not be put off.
This is extraordinary funny!  Especially by E02, where Mr Thorpe tries to murder the pesky Norman.
Casting is top notch, the script razor sharp.
Based closely on real events and persons (stick for those credits); truth better than fiction.

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Murder In Provence - 2022 - UK

Murder In Provence - 2022 - 6/10
 

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The Brits borrow a page from the seemingly endless flow of French mysteries.
Roger Allam and Nancy Carroll play the prosecutor and forensic whatever, investigating deaths around Aix.
The countryside is nicely displayed, the murders have clever trails, numerous suspects.
The investigating couple are already an “item”, so there are no silly romantic sparks.
Dry humor pervades, and this is fine for fans of cozy.
For all this, the brief series could just as easily have been set in the Cotswolds.

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Traitor: S02 - 2021 - Estonia

Traitor: S02 - 2021 - 7/10
AKA - Reetur 2
 

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Alfred Vint returns, higher this time in the Estonian Defense Ministry.
He still receives payments from his Russian masters, but he is also blackmailed by them..
Intelligence now has him in their sights, however, even as he undermines security further
A smart espionage thriller, low on action such as bullets or explosives.
This is stealth, surveillance, spying, gathering intel.
Vint can be extraordinarily maddening, as he is one slippery bastard.
Both seasons have been quality, and a trailer for S03 shows promise.
Advise you wait for good subtitles; A I remains undesirable.

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The Avengers: S04 - 1966 - UK

The Avengers: S04 - 1966 - 6/10

First season after the departure of Cathy Gale (the formidable Honor Blackman).
This marks the beginning of the Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) era, but is likely NOT the Emma fans think of.
Peel is less intimidating than Gale, more kittenish, more deferential to Steed.
In most episodes, she requires manly rescuing.
Late, very late in the season, Rigg must have asserted herself, and by “The House That Jack Built”, Peel is the cool, calculating partner fans think of.
 

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The series, however, is becoming campy, playful.  Not silly, but clearly heading that way.
“A Sense Of History” makes an interesting example.  Robin Hood, arrows, murders, yet a late chance to see vintage Steed, ruthless and a brawler.

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Demon Ward - 2013 - Japan

Demon Ward - 2013 - 5/10
AKA - Akuryô Byôtô // 悪霊病棟
 

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And just how evil is this hospital wing?  Wait till patients receive the bill!
There is the new hospital, where patients who see the apparition, drop dead.
Then there’s the old hospital across the way, where the nurses have to enter for some medicine or equipment, in the middle of the night, no power, just their flashlight.
What lurks within?  Yes, a ghost, demon with black teeth, that bites.
And leaves victims dead or infected.
Half hour horror series is cheap looking, poorly acted, with a copy cat script.
Finale (episode 10) was more compelling, but it took me over three years to get there.

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Millennium - 1996 - USA

Millennium - 1996 - 8/10  
 

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A remarkable series, too dark, too bleak, too far ahead of its time.
Ex-FBI profiler, Frank Black, retired (burned out?), is recruited by the Millennium Group.
In addition to criminal analysis, Black has second-sight, a gift and a curse.
S01 episodes are akin to “monster of the week”.  Serial killers, conspiracy, occult.
The second season delved deeper into the Millennium Group.
Remember, this aired as 2000 approached, along with the dread Y2K phobia.
 
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S03 was a retrenchment of sorts, with no overlying arc.
In the end, I think Millennium was too grim, remorseless, for viewers hoping for another X-Files.
I also find it remarkable that this aired on FOX and that FOX gave it a three year run.
A modern media company like Netflix would have whacked it at 10 episodes.
Lucy Butler seems to be more active than ever nowadays.
Fine documentary called Millennium After Millennium.
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The Reckoning - 2023 - UK

The Reckoning - 2023 - 7/10
 

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The rise of Jimmy Saville from local DJ to national icon.
Along the way, “Top Of The Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It”.
Relentless charity work leads to knighthood, meeting royals, meeting the Pope.
Yet behind the crowd pleasing funster lurks a darker soul.
One with an appetite for young girls, for children.
Cloaked behind fame.
Steve Coogan charismatic and frightening, superb job.

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Firefly - 2002 - USA

Firefly - 2002 - 6/10  

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Small ship Firefly flits across the galaxy, smuggling, transporting cargo, embroiled in conflicts.
The look and adventures are Space Western.
Crew is ex-military, idealists, convicts, a troubled girl.
Credit for many things done right: grub food, language a mix of English, Spanish, Mandarin.
Stories are character and plot driven, effects not so much.
Joss Whedon’s dialogue is twee and arch, however, and I suspect that puts off casual viewers.
All the outposts they visit are primitive, low tech, causing one to wonder: what’s the point of the future?

 

 

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Arcadia S01 - 2023 - Belgium

Arcadia: S01 - 2023 - 6/10

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Dystopian future finds citizens of high merit living in the Dome.
Merit is calculated by a score-keeping implant that tracks skills, IQ, work ethic, attitude.
Higher score members have perks, lower orders scramble to avoid the dread “2” and expulsion.
Of course, everyone is monitored night and day in this utopian police state.
Inspired work done with architecture, and making the most of costumes.
Nonetheless, the script has drawn the main family (all females) as utter dolts.
They are wide-eyed, trusting, gullible fools, repeatedly committing illogical and stupid decisions.
By E05, with more narrative track being laid down, I knew this series would not conclude.
A second season is announced, and this has the skeleton of a great yarn, if characters wise up.
Producers need to fire every single writer, however, and hire intelligent ones.

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V Efeket - 2024 - Serbia

V Efeket - 2024 - 6/10

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Exciting Serbian series set among the theatre crowd.
The season opener gives those attending a prop malfunction.
The hanging sequence, well, someone sabotaged (lengthened) the support rope.
All the kicking and struggling by the heroic lead, no wonder it looked so realistic.
Police arrive, as do government agents, since a shady minister owns the building.
And the building used to be over a clandestine government agency.
Cops soon have a series of murders, and suspects, actors, who are trained to lie convincingly.

I believe this is a very good show.  HOWEVER.  The version I viewed had “Whisper” subtitles.
Those were atrociously bad.  A character’s gender was mixed, often thrice in a sentence.
Long patches of dialogue missed subs altogether.  Descriptive words were not remotely accurate.
A I in this case means Artificial Ignorance / Ineptitude / Incompetence.
“Whisper” CANNOT, at this time, decipher Serbian.
Unless you are a native speaker, avoid and wait for proper subtitles.

 

 

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Nordland ‘99 - 2022 - Denmark

Nordland ‘99 - 2022 - 7/10

Alex tries to mend things with an ex-girlfriend.  Her current, drug-pushing boyfriend disagrees.
By the end of the episode, Alex has vanished and suspicion swirls in the Denmark village.
Local cops are disinterested, even though he is the second teen to mysteriously disappear.
Who starts searching?  His gun-toting sister, and his friends.

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Into the illicit drug world, into rural backwoods, broken down cabins, secret lives.
Slow boil thriller has a brooding launch, then grows progressively darker.
Eight half-hour episodes.  Don’t be put off, this is not aimed for ADHD teens.

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