Answering the question that always comes up at gatherings: What have you been watching?
It wasn’t supposed to be an anthology series, but the response to the first season made the idea irresistible. The first season built a recyclable framework upon which to hang subplots about wealthy people on holiday at a swanky global resort chain where someone must die while sexy people who have everything hope to find happiness or at least a little respite. Take note that we get a higher body count — it is Sicily after all. The cast carries this season, and yes, Jennifer Coolidge again stands out as comic relief. (HBO Max)
Somewhere in the middle of this series, I stopped seeing Imelda Staunton as the deliciously vile Dolores Umbridge. I didn’t think anyone could top Olivia Colman, but now I’m not so sure. This whole season is really just a setup for Diana’s fateful trip into that Paris tunnel, which should come in season six. We otherwise see Charles get his divorce, the Queen lose her yacht, and Dodi Fayed’s pre-Diana girlfriend rejected by his social climbing father. (Netflix)
I’m not watching for the writing, nor am I watching it for Kevin Costner’s acting skills. I’m certainly not watching it for slow-building character development. I think I’m watching it because of the scenery, and because with Hollywood bending over backwards proving how diverse and socially responsible it can be, “Yellowstone” at least strikes a balance. Maybe I’m watching it for Beth. I can’t deny the fun of watching her start cat fights, but her character’s power plays have all the subtlety and intrigue of a stampede. (Paramount+)
I don’t doubt that Taylor Sheridan has another major hit on his hands with this latest “prequel” to “Yellowstone”. How can you go wrong with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren? Well, you can’t. After “1883”, we jump ahead 40 years into the Roaring 20s, where vestiges of the wild west sees ongoing range wars between sheep herders and cattle ranchers (See “Heaven’s Gate”. No, really.) This show grabbed me in the second episode when the wealthy, elegant English socialite Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer) seduces rugged Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) with her electric smile while he’s on safari in Africa shaking the demons he picked up in the trenches of WWI. (Paramount+)
If anyone knows what happened in this series and who is who, please comment. This series has so many moving parts and warring factions across a few timelines, it made me dizzy. I haven’t been this confused since somewhere in the middle of the Game of Thrones when an introduction of yet another character made my head explode. After watching all eight episodes, I know that there’s time travel (always a fraught plot device), a global cataclysm, gripping action, and a Chosen One. Visually, it’s captivating, but like the first three episodes of “Andor”, I may have to watch it all again. (Amazon)