It is always amazing how quickly things are forgotten. It turns out that when I was very young there was a cult that tried to take over Wasco County, Oregon, and that they poisoned over a hundred people in The Dalles with salmonella. They wore bright colors and meditated a lot, and they tired to assassinate the Attorney General of Oregon. It seems like it would have been such a massive happening that people would still be talking about it, but until I watched Wild Wild Country on Netflix, I had never heard a thing about it, or if I had it must not have been talked about with any importance.
Wild Wild Country is a docuseries that interviews all parties involved with setup of Rajneeshpuram, the commune created for the followers of Rajneesh. Those who made it happen, and those that tried to make it go away. It is an amazing tale, and all I could do is watch in disbelief as I heard of some of the things that went on out in the middle of nowhere Oregon.
The documentarians do a good job of leaving their voices out of this series, and letting all the people have their say, so it ends up being surprisingly nonjudgmental. You can see both sides up to a point, and that point is obviously committing several Federal crimes. Then you realize some terrible stuff was happing out on their ranch.
Wild Wild Country was fascinating to watch. It is so crazy, I can’t believe this was the first time I really heard about all this. If you are like me, and have never heard about any of this, it is must watch, or if you do remember it, but want all the info it is still worth your time. Obviously due to the subject matter it is rated TV MA for a reason, so it is not a history lesson for young kids, but if you are of age, it is a mind trip worth taking.
Season One of Jessica Jones was pretty dang good, and it had one of the best villains in the MCU (which they keep insisting the Netflix Marvel shows are a part of). While season one kind of explained why Jessica was a grumpy drunk, they really didn’t get in to it. Season two takes a deep dive in to Jessica’s past. Since her memory is sketchy at best, we figure out her origins with her as she investigates them. It is not a happy trip down memory lane.
Had they just stuck to the Jessica stuff, things would have been excellent, but sadly season two has an irritating Trish Walker ‘B’ story that is aggravating to watch. Every time she is on screen she is doing something dumb. Which was true in season one as well, but they really amped up the annoying for her this season. Additionally, Netflix has this strange need to make their Marvel shows thirteen episodes long, and this season would have been much better had they cut out at least three episodes.
Figuring out where Jessica is from makes Jessica Jones Season Two well worth watching, unfortunately the show takes a dive almost any time she is not on screen. Good side characters are a requirement for a long running series, and so far almost all the Marvel Netflix shows have no one other than the main character we care about, and this is becoming a problem. Maybe they can just clone Foggy or something. Regardless, I still enjoyed season two quite a bit, and it had some of the series’ greatest moments, but it is bogged down by all side stories. I hope they can figure this out for future seasons.
The Starz TV show American Gods, based off the Neil Gaiman novel with the same name, asks the question, “What if people brought their gods with them when they immigrated to America? And what if those gods were fighting for scraps of favor from people who were rapidly forgetting them?” The answer is, sexy, brutal, but most importantly, very strange. The gods in question don’t behave in their own stories, so why would the act any different in this tale.
Much like the book, American Gods follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) as he tries to get a handle on the world Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) has dragged him in to, and what part he has to play in this war everyone is talking about. If the story was just about Shadow and Wednesday it would be a little dry, so thankfully there is a diverse cast of crazy gods to spice things up.
If you were hoping that American Gods would be a straight adaptation of the book, you will be disappointed. The series has taken several detours along its route, and while I am not a stickler keeping things the same between mediums, different forms of media require different forms of story telling after all. In this case the changes are mostly not for the better. Which is a shame since the source material has so much potential. However, the parts they get right are really good.
Also bolstering American Gods is the great cast and Bryan Fuller’s incredible visual style. There is always a good performance or insane set piece waiting in every episode. Well, almost every episode. There are a couple of filler episodes in the middle that kind of kill the momentum, but the first season starts and ends well.
Season one covers about a third of the book, and Starz has promised it is coming back. However, the current producers, Green and Fuller, have been dropped and replaced by one of the show’s writers and Gaiman himself. Which sounds like good news, but who knows how long it will take them to get things moving again. Especially since Gaiman is currently producing the TV adaptation of Good Omens. Regardless, American Gods showed a lot of potential in season one, and I hope it delivers on it in seasons two and three. Whenever they come out.
While Joel McHale’s new show is actually titled The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (leaving the door open for a Joel McHale show not hosted by Joel McHale) not The Soup, it is almost exactly the same thing. Except now he can drop an F-Bomb from time to time and Paul Feig hangs out a lot more. Like a lot more (he is now an EP). Watching The Joel McHale Show every week has reminded me how much I have missed The Soup.
I understand that E! got away from its comedy line up, so The Soup apparently had to go, but we all needed something to reaffirm that pop culture was actually as silly as we perceived it to be, and The Joel McHale show brings that back. Once a week, for twelve weeks, and we are already four weeks in. I hope that Netflix sees fit to pick up the Joel McHale show for more than just one season. I am not sure that it is something I can loose again.
It is hard to keep track of the almost infinite number of shows Netflix has, but my wife’s love period pieces combined with my love of light horror made The Frankenstein Chronicles very interesting. Now, if you are from across the pond you may be wondering what the big deal is. This show is from 2015, but due to channels changing and going under and a myriad of rights issues it has taken three years to hit North America, and it is now called a Netflix Original. Of course the main reason to watch this show is to see if Sean Bean’s character can live through it.
The Frankenstein Chronicles takes place in London during the early 1800’s. Which if you were not rich was apparently not a great time to be living in the city. Much like Taboo and a lot of other new grimy period UK dramas, there are not a lot of balls or tee parties in this show. Instead, Sean Bean plays a police officer that patrols the water ways, and one day a child washes up on shore. Which sadly isn’t that uncommon, but in this case it looks like it is several children all sewn together. Not unlike Mary Shelley’s infamous (at the time) novel.
The story and the actors really make this show work. Not to mention the time period makes for a great setting since scientific medicine is just starting to take hold, but it is making the uneducated and superstitious populace very nervous. Unfortunately, you can tell it is a non BBC show. While the costumes and the actors are great, it feels like they are always in the same three rooms all the time. Which is the long way of saying it feels like they blew their budget hiring Sean Bean, but he was worth cash in this case since he carries the show.
If a little blood and Sean Bean don’t scare you, The Frankenstein Chronicles is worth watching. It is interesting, and there are some slight chills and thrills woven deftly in to this tale, as you would hope with Frankenstein being right in the title. Now that Netflix owns it, I hope they pick it up for a few more seasons.