TV Review: The Gilded Age (Season 1)

I still remain in awe of how Julian Fellowes has a career as a writer but the first series of The Gilded Age is often a fine showcase for its cast of Broadway royalty

“I haven’t been thrilled since 1865

I really wasn’t a fan of the first episode of The Gilded Age but a cast full of Broadway royalty meant that I was always going to persevere with this first season. And from slow beginnings, the series did actually improve, albeit within the confines of what a Julian Fellowes-conceived show can ever do so. 

Set in 1880s New York City, the show hedges its bet about where it actually wants to focus. The main arena is ostensibly the clash between new money and old, the closed doors of society being assailed by hyper-rich newcomers. But being Fellowes, it’s also about their servants with whom they have unreasonably cordial relations. Continue reading “TV Review: The Gilded Age (Season 1)”

TV Review: The Gilded Age Episode 1

Only the presence of Broadway royalty make Episode 1 of new Julian Fellowes tosh-fest The Gilded Age (barely) watchable 

“If you’re going to do a thing, you may as well do it properly”

Heavens above. Julian Fellowes continues his stranglehold over TV commissioners with his latest venture into numbingly crass serial drama. The Gilded Age is set in the upper echelons of 1880s New York City where the biggest drama is how dismissive the people with old money feel about those with new.

So in this first episode, the newly arrived Russells host a grand soirée in their freshly upholstered mansion but none of society, in particular the van Rhijns who live across the way on Fifth Avenue, deign to turn up. And it takes us over an hour to get there in amongst the heavily laden set up and the desperately poorly written dialogue. Continue reading “TV Review: The Gilded Age Episode 1”

12th Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees

Best Drama Series
Evil (Paramount+)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
The Good Fight (Paramount+)
Pose (FX)
Squid Game (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)
Yellowjackets (Showtime)

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us as Randall Pearson (NBC)
Mike Colter – Evil as David Acosta (Paramount+)
Brian Cox – Succession as Logan Roy (HBO)
Lee Jung-jae – Squid Game as Seong Gi-hun (Netflix)
Billy Porter – Pose as Pray Tell (FX)
Jeremy Strong – Succession as Kendall Roy (HBO)

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba – In Treatment as Dr. Brooke Taylor (HBO)
Chiara Aurelia – Cruel Summer as Jeanette Turner (Freeform)
Christine Baranski – The Good Fight as Diane Lockhart (Paramount+)
Katja Herbers – Evil as Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Paramount+)
Melanie Lynskey – Yellowjackets as Shauna (Showtime)
Mj Rodriguez – Pose as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista (FX) Continue reading “12th Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominees”

Film Review: Respect (2021)

Aretha Franklin biopic Respect misses the mark with a shockingly bad screenplay doing this musical legend a real disservice

“We’re not done yet”

The musical biopic is always a tricky beast to get right and for a number of reasons, Respect falls flat on many counts. Covering the early part of Aretha Franklin’s career, it cherry-picks the aspects of her life that suit the narrative structure imposed here, in order to provide the ultimately uplifting storyline that has – deceitfully – been prescribed.

There’s no doubting that Jennifer Hudson can sing, and she interprets some real classics real well here, but she’s marooned in the film around her performances. Tracey Scott Wilson’s screenplay does her few favours and the story arc (by Scott Wilson and Callie Khouri) suffers from a real choppiness and a selective memory about the past. Continue reading “Film Review: Respect (2021)”

TV Review: The Good Fight Series 5

The loss of Cush Jumbo is big but The Good Fight easily survives without Lucca, Series 5 focusing on a battle royale between Diane and Liz

“Let’s split the firm down the middle”

The Good Fight really does feel like some of the smartest writing on US TV at the moment, able to co-opt the most contemporary of references but still fold them into the fabric of the show so they never feel extraneous. After a COVID-truncated fourth season, Series 5 carries on in that same vein and is a delight to watch.

A brilliantly conceived series opener takes the form of a series of recaps which allows the show to eloquently cover the pandemic, the George Floyd protests and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing, as well as bidding Lucca goodbye and introducing two new junior lawyers to the firm, one of whom just happens to be a fast-tracked Marissa. Continue reading “TV Review: The Good Fight Series 5”

TV Review: The Good Fight Series 4

Covid meant we sadly only got 7 episodes of Series 4 of The Good Fight, that’s just not enough Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald and Cush Jumbo

“We need evidence, no conspiracy theories”

Just a quickie for this as the truncated fourth season of The Good Fight meant that it had a rather abrupt finish that cheated the creators out of the fullness of the stories they wanted to tell. What we did get was the customary tackling of huge up-to-the-minute issues – racism in the workplace, political parties trying to reach marginalised communities and in the daring final episode, Jeffrey Epstein.

Baranski’s Diane Lockhart remains one of the great TV characters but I’m not sure anyone was particularly well served by the larger themes of the show. The ramifications of the buyout were tiresome, Memo 618 didn’t get the resolution it needed and Lucca’s plot strand smacked of them not knowing what to do with the character, given how little she ended up interacting with the rest of the main cast. Continue reading “TV Review: The Good Fight Series 4”

Review: The Sound of Music Live (The Show Must Go On)

Despite great work from supporting players like Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti, The Sound of Music Live isn’t a great advert for The Show Must Go On

“Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her”

In some ways, turning to the series of live TV musicals to continue The Show Must Go On now that Andrew Lloyd Webber has exhausted the content he is willing to give for free, for weekends at a time. The problem is, its opening salvo – The Sound of Music Live from 2013 – really isn’t a good example of the form. 

Directed by Rob Ashford and Beth McCarthy-Miller, it has all the requisite component parts and as a piece of live entertainment, it is all very competently done. There’s an impressively capacious set, slick camerawork and a well-drilled ensemble who barely put a foot wrong throughout the 2 hours plus of the show. Continue reading “Review: The Sound of Music Live (The Show Must Go On)”