Shmee Visits Fargo!

My wife made an amazing discovery, all of FX’s Fargo is now streaming on Hulu, so we quickly watched season one, and all the hype is real.  It is a thrilling and darkly funny ride.  I was worried how the creators were going to translate the Coen Brother’s crazy style to the small screen, but Noah Hawley and crew managed it daftly.

The story for the first season follows the hapless Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) as he gets mixed up in murder and mayhem.  All the while the Bemidji police are on his tale.  Well one police officer, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), is on his tale, the rest of the police would probably rather be fishing.

It is such a strange tale that you can’t believe your eyes for most of it, but it still manages to hang together and keep you on the edge of your seat.  Much like Fargo the movie.  Obviously the “this is a true story” at the beginning of every episode is just as false as it was for the movie, but it still manages to add to the tension anyway.  If not just give us all a little laugh.  Which is all Fargo wants to do anyway.

We all know that Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton will give us good performances, but Allison Tolman is great as Deputy Solverson, and Fargo is probably the best thing that Colin Hanks has ever done.  He may never be as good as his dad, but this was truly some good work on his part.  I hope this gets him better roles in the future.

Fargo is worth watching if you are looking for something interesting to watch.  I laughed and I wondered what would happen next, and I was almost always wrong.  The first season was great, and I can’t wait to see what story they cooked up for season two.  I hope it is just as good, if not better than season one.

GLOW Shines Bright In Season 2!

I really enjoyed the first season of GLOW, and I think it gets even better in season two.  It doesn’t take any time to get going, we know all these characters now, so there is no need for introductions or motivations.  It just gets right down and dirty with these ladies as they try and make a women’s wrestling show work.

While season one was about them trying to get a show, season two is about them trying to keep it, and of course trying to keep their sanity at the same time.  All the while diving deeper in to their interpersonal relationships.  Which of course for Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin) continues to be very complicated, but the rest of the cast get some great moments as well.

I think the writers did a good job with this season of GLOW.  There didn’t seem to be any wasted episodes.  I can’t think of one the series would have been better without.  Of course the fact that there are only ten thirty minute episodes is probably the reason for that.  Five hours is not a lot time for a dramedy like this.

While series stars Brie and Gilpin do most of the heavy lifting, Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia and Britt Baron as his newly reunited daughter deliver a fun to watch and touching story as well.  In fact for as large as the cast is, most still got a moment or two in the spotlight, which is good to see.

All this to say, if you enjoyed season one, season two of GLOW doesn’t regress at all.  It is still the fun and emotionally complicated show from last season.  There are just now ten more episodes.  Which I think is exactly what fans of the series were hoping for.

The Kids Aren’t Alright In DC Universe’s Titans!

So DC Universe dropped their first trailer for Titans which is going to headline their new streaming channel, and wow, it is a departure from what the Titans are known for these days.  The kids are killing people and using the F-Word.  Right in the trailer!  I mean if this is what they thought was safe to show us, I wonder what they are holding back.  I guess if we become subscribers we will know this fall, but this was a rough introduction.

Shmee Hangs Out With The Handmaid And Listens To Her Tale A Little More

My wife has been waiting impatiently for season two of The Handmaid’s Tale since season one ended.  Season one was gripping and profound in ways few shows are.  Especially when it daftly draws parallels to our past and our always possible future.  Warning, this review contains a few minor spoilers for season one and the beginning of season two.

Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale starts off right where season one (and the book it is based on) left off: with Offred/June in a truck on her way to freedom.  The writers had to figure out a way around this however, so they waste a few episodes writing out of that hole.  Which is to say, season two starts slowly, and not entirely coherently, but once it finds its feet in the second third, it is as gripping as ever.  New horrors await June and her fellow Handmaids at every turn.

Which besides the slow start is another criticism I have about season two, it really, really wants us to know how bad Gilead is.  I mean trust us Hulu, we get it.  It is terrible there, like super bad.  Though it makes this season’s payoffs even sweeter when they come.  Even if I am still baffled by the ending of the season, the build up was fantastic.

Elisabeth Moss continues to be a tour de force as June, who does such a great job it glosses over any of the faults this show has, and Alexis Bledel is fantastic as well.  Joseph Fiennes’ portrayal of a desperate man trying to keep all the power he has, and barely holding it together, is immensely watchable.

In the end is season two perfect? No, but it is very good.  Had they cut out a few of the opening episodes and tweaked a few things, it probably could have been.  The Handmaid’s Tale is Hulu’s only truly must watch show, and it lived up to that in season two.  If you have been holding off so you can binge the whole thing during a free trial, you are in for a treat.

Darling In The FRANXX Versus Children Of The Whales!

I have been watching a lot of anime lately, and I just finished two series, so I thought I would let you know how I felt about them.  First up is Darling in the FRANXX.

I started Darling in the FRANXX because there was a lot of excitement online about this show, but after the first episode I was confused.  It seemed like the standard girl in a skin tight outfit with a crush on a whiny dude who pilots a giant robot mecha-anime.  To make matters worse the guys have to get behind the girls in a very compromising position to pilot these mechs, but it was well drawn, and the action was cool, so I stuck with it.

It turns out the looks can be deceiving.  While Darling could have very easily turned in to just another cheesecake affair, it morphed in to something deeper.  The ‘children’ driving these mechs had real feelings, and the bonds they were creating were fascinating.  The mystery of the world around them was intriguing.  By the end of its twenty-four episode run I was tearing up on a regular basis.  Sure hearing “Darling” and “Zero-Two” over and over got a little annoying, but I will forgive it just this once.  I am not sure how they could create another season, but I would watch it if they figure out a way.  You can watch all of Darling in the FRANXX on Crunchyroll or Hulu now.

Now for Children of the Whales!

Children of the Whales was another anime that took me by surprise.  At first it is a bunch of happy kids on an idyllic island, but then everything goes sideways and there is blood everywhere.  The fact it is TV-MA should have tipped me off.  While I didn’t like it as much as Darling in the FRANXX, it is still a well done show.

The gist is that there are a bunch of kids on an island, the ‘Mud Whale’, on a sand sea that floats around all over the place.  There are two types of people on the island, the ‘Marked’ who can move stuff with magic, and they die around 30.  While the ‘Unmarked’ get to live long lives, but they don’t get the cool powers.  They believe they are all alone until they come across a new island with a lone girl who also has magic powers.  That is of course when all sorts of bad things start to happen.

Netflix only has half of the twenty-four episode arc as of now, but I am dying to find out what happens to the “Mud Whale’ and her passengers.  If you can handle a few crazy people and a lot of blood, Children of the Whales is the type of anime that reminds you that Japan can do more than just fanservice-y nonsense.  It can also create weird and interesting mysteries to solve.