Bridgerton Series Review

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Typically, this time of year is award season, for films and series. Due to last year’s restrictions on producing those films and series, all award shows are currently pushed farther out.

I realized today how few movies I watched last year, perhaps the lowest number in my entire life. My local movie theater closed last March and has not opened again. Thankfully there are streaming services, offering a variety of wonderful movies, documentaries and series.

For some reason, I’ve gravitated toward more series than films during this strange time. As nominations come in for awards, my viewing patterns will shift. Today, however, allow me to share a review of one of my favorite series…so far…currently available on Netflix. I enjoyed the eight episodes so much that I did a rare thing. I watched the entire series for a second time and loved it as much.

Check out my Bridgerton series review.

Bridgerton Review title meme

Bridgerton Cast

This opulent, Netflix Original Series features a large ensemble cast. Actors include Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Nicola Coughlan, Jonathan Bailey, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Ruth Gemmell, Florence Hunt, Claudia Jessie, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Will Tilston, Ruby Barker, Ben Miller, Adjoa Andoh, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuvel, Ruby Stokes, Freddie Stroma and Julie Andrews (voice only).

Directors for the series include Julie Anne Robinson, Sheree Folkson, Alrick Riley and Tom Verica. Chris Van Dusen created the series, based on the books by Julia Quinn.

Each of the eight episodes runs an hour and carries an Ma for mature rating.

Bridgerton Review the fam
Bridgerton Series Review – the family, minus daughter Fran

Meet the Bridgertons

The title of the series comes from the family bearing the same name. The tagline sets the tone for what unfolds during the eight episodes: “Wealth, lust and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency Era England, as seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton Family.

Lady Violet Bridgerton (Gemmell) raises her large family of eight children alone, after the death of her husband. For convenience, the couple used names beginning with A – H for their offspring: Anthony (Bailey), Benedict (Thompson), Colin (Newton), Daphne (Dynevor), Eloise (Jessie), Francesca (Stokes), Gregory (Tilston) and Hyacinth (Hunt). That trick helps the viewer keep the children straight as well!

The story focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, fourth born child and eldest daughter, at the beginning of the London Season. Every unmarried young woman…and her anxious mama…are out and on the hunt for a suitable husband.

Bridgerton Review daphne
Bridgerton Series Review – Daphne

The London Season

Daphne debuts and sets the bar high, as Queen Charlotte (Rosheuvel) notices her during the presentation of the debutantes. The mysterious writer of the high society gossip sheet, Lady Whistledown (voiced by Andrews), creates a stir with her scathing commentary on London’s elite. Although no one knows who she is (including the viewers), she seems to know everything about everyone.

When London’s most eligible bachelor, Simon the Duke of Hasting (Page), arrives in town, he and Daphne strike an unusual deal. Daphne wants to marry for love, in spite of her brother Anthony’s intention to make a quick match for her. And Simon never wants to marry at all. The two decide to create a pretend courtship. The ruse keeps mothers and their single daughters away from him. And Daphne can take her time finding a suitor to fall in love with.

Bridgerton Review duke and duchess
Bridgerton Series Review – less a match, more an agreement

London Atwitter

It turns out Lady Whistledown has much to write about.

Neighbors of the Bridgertons, the Featheringtons, gain a niece for the Season, much to Lady Featherington’s (Walker) dismay.  She already has three unmarried daughters to find husbands for: Philipa (Cains), Prudence (Carter) and Penelope (Coughlan). And Lord Featherington’s (Miller) niece, Marina (Barker), possesses beauty, charm and a sharp wit. She immediately attracts many would-be suitors, including Colin Bridgerton.

When Queen Charlotte’s nephew, Prince Friedrich (Stroma) arrives, and strives to win Daphne’ heart, all of London watches to see who ends up with the “diamond of the season”.

Bridgerton Review queen charlottes court
Bridgerton Series Review – Queen Charlotte’s court

Mysteries, Secrets and Scandals

While courtships form or falter and love blossoms or dies, the undercurrent in London becomes more complex. Eloise and Penelope form a partnership to uncover the identity of the mysterious Lady Whistledown.

Marina hides a secret that makes her desperate to marry quickly. And Daphne must choose between a prince and the man who vows he will never marry, but who has captured her heart nonetheless. Simon is not immune to Daphne’s charms however a difficult relationship with his father hardened his heart toward marriage and siring children.

Presiding over all these stories…of joy, desire and heartbreak…and over all the balls and society gatherings, is the queen and Lady Danbury (Andoh). This feisty, fierce, yet kind woman knows more about Simon and matters of the heart than anyone else.

Bridgerton Review simon and lady danbury
Bridgerton Series Review – Lady Danbury and Simon

My Thoughts on Bridgerton

I loved this series. First of all, because it’s a lavishly depicted historical piece. The costumes and settings astound with their beauty. And I find British shows especially fun to watch.

Secondly, I enjoyed the multiple story lines. A few characters, like Pen’s sisters, have minor roles. That’s understandable with a cast this large. Most characters though develop nicely as the series progresses. I came to adore Eloise Bridgerton, who follows curiosity and never hesitates to speak her mind. And Penelope is a joy to watch as she learns to carve out her own unique space apart from her mother and sisters.

And finally, I appreciate the casting of the characters. Everyone is simply, or complexly, who they are, regardless of race or skin color. They are people with complicated, intriguing stories and lives, period. Although set in the past, Bridgerton shows what’s possible when we accept each other as we are.

Bridgerton Review behind the scenes
Bridgerton Series Review – fun behind the scenes moment

Second Season Picked Up

The good news is, for those of us who watched Bridgerton and immediately craved more, a second season is on the way. I’m so excited!

There are eight books in the series, and Netflix intends to create eight seasons. Each book focuses on a different Bridgerton child. The series intends to follow the same format. That means I have seven more seasons to look forward to. In the meantime, I’m now reading the books.

Have you seen Bridgerton? If so, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. If not, know this. The series is intended for mature audiences. Due to some nudity and quite a lot of sexual content, this series is not for children. Savor the show after the kids go to bed, with a glass of wine or a mug of hot tea. But do savor it. It’s a visual and emotional treat.

Bridgerton Review Anthony
Bridgerton Series Review – season two focuses on the eldest Bridgerton child, Anthony

Pick up the Bridgerton books from Amazon:



And if you enjoyed this series review, check out this one:

Yellowstone Series Review


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Series Review: The Twilight Zone

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Tonight CBS All Access rolled out their newest series, which is a reboot actually. The original Twilight Zone premiered in 1959. Hosted by Rod Serling, the series built its seasons and its popularity on a very basic and powerful human emotion…fear.

Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone explored our fears of nuclear annihilation, space travel and what might lurk out there, inanimate objects that moved and talked, war and technology that ran amok.

At its core, however, Twilight Zone exposed human nature, with all its frailties and sometimes its strengths. The series delved into collective fears and also pulled back the curtain on our single greatest fear: that we are each of us alone in the situation we find ourselves in, and our words and thoughts are not believed.

Series Review: The Twilight Zone

You Are Now Entering the Twilight Zone

Twilight Zone scared me as a young child. I missed the deeper messages initially. The talking doll and the evil ventriloquist dummy birthed more nightmares into my already fear soaked little life. Years later, watching reruns, I realized Serling’s stories sought to reveal rather than terrorize. And if the unexpected twists and turns created goosebumps, that was an added perk.

I came to appreciate the bold and creative story-telling of Rod Serling. I’ll never forget the classic episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” featuring a young William Shatner. His character, with an intense fear of flying, is not just terrified by a monster on the wing of the plane. He is terrified because no one else can see it. He alone bears the crushing burden of knowing the plane is doomed by a menace only he can see.

Tonight CBS All Access released episodes one and two of The Twilight Zone, created for a new generation and narrated perfectly by Jordan Peele, who is also the executive producer.

Series Review The Twilight Zone

Episode One: The Comedian

The premier episode stars Tracy Morgan, Kumail Nanjiani, Diarra Kilpatrick and Amara Karran. Owen Harris directs The Comedian, which has a run time of 1 hour. The fantasy/drama carries a TV-14 rating, for very strong language. This episode, at least, is not suitable for young children.

Samir Wassan (Nanjiani) struggles to get the laughs as a stand up comic in a nightclub. His colleague and competitor, DiDi (Kilpatrick), brings the house down with her routine. However Samir, who wants to reveal truths while making people laugh, bombs night after night. His long suffering girlfriend Rena (Karran), a successful lawyer, provides for both of them financially.

After a particularly dull performance one night, Samir meets legendary comedian JC Wheeler (Morgan). He tells Samir that no one wants to hear him make political points. Wheeler challenges him instead to tap into his only true resource, his own personal life.

When Wheeler asks what Samir most wants, the younger comedian realizes that beyond making a difference in the world, he wants the fame, the fortune…and the laughs. Wheeler warns Samir that once he offers from his own life, and the audience connects with it, the material will be gone forever.

In this “be careful what you wish for” story, Samir discovers the high cost of fame.

Series Review: The Twilight Zone

My Thoughts on The Twilight Zone

I appreciated this first episode. Having only seen a brief trailer for the series in general, I kept expectations in check and didn’t read up on the premise before watching The Comedian. Interestingly, in reality I dislike watching stand up comedy. It troubles me and creates low level anxiety if the comedian doesn’t get the laughs.

So how bizarre that this first episode features a comic who isn’t funny. And yet he longs to be, more than he longs for anything else in the world. The whole situation created tension for me, adding an unsettling element while watching the story unfold.

I loved Jordan Peele’s opening and closing narrations, so reminiscent of Serling’s. And while the plot proved a bit predictable…perhaps because I’ve seen so many episodes of the old Twilight Zone…the characteristic twists at the end brought a smile. And I confess, I experienced a bit of a creepy chill in the closing moments . I so enjoy when that “oh wow” surprise sneaks up on me.

A Promising Twilight Zone

I look forward to watching episode two later this week. Called “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”, this episode offers nods to the famous William Shatner tale. I’m willing to enter into this new Twilight Zone experience…and see what truths I can discover there.

The Twilight Zone airs on Thursday evenings, when it returns April 11, exclusively on CBS All Access. You can sign up for a free 7 day trial by clicking the link below. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can add this streaming service for an additional monthly fee. Start a free Amazon Prime Video Channels Subscription trial HERE.

All Access airs CBS programing and original shows, including my favorite, Star Trek Discovery.

Series Review The Twilight Zone


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The Brightest Star

What’s the perfect topic for a Sunday Short post? A Star Trek Short Trek! The Brightest Star, the third of four Short Treks, premiered Thursday evening. I grabbed an opportunity to watch it this evening.

The Brightest Star

The Brightest Star Cast

This sci-fi short stars Doug Jones, Hannah Spear, Robert Verlaque and Michelle Yeoh. The episode was directed by Douglas Aarniokoski and written by Bo Yeon Kim, Alex Kurtzman and Erika Lippoldt. It has a run time of 15 minutes.

Star Trek Short Trek: The Brightest Star is available on CBS All Access.

The Brightest Star

Saru’s Backstory

Saru (Jones) is the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet. The Brightest Star offers a glimpse into this character’s intriguing past.

A young Saru lives in a village with his father Aradar (Verlaque) and sister Siranna (Spear). Life is simple on the planet of Kaminar, governed by traditions and meaningful tasks.

The Kelpiens are a pre-warp drive race that has developed a heightened sense of danger. Ganglia on the backs of their necks alert them to impending danger. They live in fear…and resignation, knowing that in accordance with their beliefs, they may be called upon to offer themselves up as sacrifices, to preserve “The Balance” in their way of life.

When Kelpiens look to the sky, they feel fear. But not Saru. He feels curiosity about what lies beyond his world. And in contrast to his upbringing and his father’s teachings, he feels hope. There must be something more out there beyond the stars.

The Brightest Star

Saru Goes Beyond

The intensity of Saru’s desires provides an opportunity to reach out. Advanced technology literally falls from the sky, from an unseen race that the Kelpiens fear and seek to appease. Rather than destroy the beacon, as commanded by his father, Saru sends a simple message into space that’s part greeting and part invitation.

After several days, his greeting is returned. And the invitation is accepted. TODAY the return message says. After a sweet goodbye to his sister, Saru waits in the dark, watching the stars. A shuttlecraft appears, with familiar markings. Out steps a young Philippa Georgiou (Yeoh), a lieutenant at this stage in her Starfleet career.

Saru makes a choice that opens the universe for him and alters his life.

The Brightest Star

My Thoughts on The Brightest Star

This was a lovely episode, about one of my favorite characters in the new Star Trek: Discovery series. During the first season I got to watch Saru grow tremendously, as a being whose race lives in perpetual fear. The short provides more pieces of information about the Kelpiens and Saru in particular. His curiosity and hopefulness set him apart from the others in his family and community. It becomes understandable why Saru is the only Kelpien to take to the stars.

The Brightest Star creates questions as well, which in my opinion is one of the signs of a good story. It’s a “page turner”, creating in me the desire to know more about the early development and customs of the Kelpiens. And I’m always open to learning more about Saru.

Doug Jones shines in this role. He is a talented actor who appears to be a genuine, good-hearted, kind man who brings those same qualities to Saru. I’m excited to see how the character develops in Season Two.

The end of The Brightest Star brought a lump to my throat. I identifiy with Saru. His yearning to go beyond is mine as well and has been a driving force in my life these last five years. I want to know what’s out there…beyond the stars AND beyond my fears.

Saru’s voiceover as the shuttle flies away is perfection:

“I saw hope in the stars. It was stronger than fear and I went toward it.”

I get teary eyed just typing his words. Hope is always stronger than fear. I keep moving toward it too.

The Brightest Star

Series Review: The Haunting of Hill House

I heard much about this new Netflix original series, and saw a couple of trailers for The Haunting of Hill House, before it premiered this month. Typically I don’t watch scary movies, if they are primarily geared toward gore or making the audience jump. However, this series is based upon the 1959 gothic horror novel by Shirley Jackson, which is considered one of the best literary ghost stories ever published.

The Haunting of Hill House inspired other authors and filmmakers, such as Stephen King, and generated two films before Netflix created the ten episode series. The first Haunting of Hill house film, released in 1963, was in turns terrifying to me and fascinating. It scared me, as a child who experienced hauntings of my own, and yet I could not look away. With these connections to the story, I had to see this newest creation.

Series Review The Haunting of Hill House

Cast and Crew

The Haunting of Hill House stars Timothy Hutton, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Michiel Huisman, Paxton Singleton, Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Kate Siegel, McKenna Grace, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Julian Hilliard, Victoria Pedretti, and Violet McGraw. The horror/drama, created and directed by Mike Flanagan, carries a MA rating for scary scenes, adult themes, language and violence, and each episode has a run time of 50 minutes.

The Story of Hill House

Hugh Crain (Thomas and Hutton) and his wife Olivia (Gugino) purchase a huge old mansion that has been vacant for many years. Known by the locals as Hill House, Hugh and Liv intend to restore the property to its former glory and then flip it. Selling this house takes the Crains one step closer to building and settling into their dream home. Hugh doesn’t pay attention to the fact that everyone who is familiar with the house refuses to stay in it after dark. Even its long time caretakers make sure they are away before the sun sets. Hugh and Liv move in with their five young children…Steven (Huisman and Singleton), Shirley (Reaser and Wilson), Theodora (Siegel and Grace), Luke (Jackson-Cohen and Hilliard) and Nell (Pedretti and McGraw).

The story moves back and forth between the past and the present day, detailing the strange and disturbing events that took place in Hill House and showing how they affected the children into their adulthood. The haunting that takes place is not just a physical occurrence that stigmatizes the house, it has psychological and emotional consequences that remain with the former occupants all of their lives. The story is as much, or perhaps even more so, about how the family learns to deal with the trauma, guilt and shame that overshadows each of them, as it is what creeps about in Hill House.

Series Review The Haunting of Hill House

Thoughts on The Haunting of Hill House

I don’t want to talk about the storyline any more than that brief summary. This is a series that is best viewed without a lot of prior knowledge. Watch it and experience it and let it unfold.

I will share some personal thoughts.

This is an extremely well done spooky series. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being “nah, it’s not scary at all” and 10 being “watch it with a friend during daylight hours” the scare factor hovers around a 3 or 4, for me. At times it elevates briefly to an 8. And at times it isn’t scary at all. It’s sad and troubling. As a bonus, Netflix creates an incredible backdrop for the action that is full of dark surprises. Many of those extra details escape the human eye initially, although the viewer may wonder why they suddenly feel the hair rising on the back of the neck.

What I love most about this series is that it tells a story about family relationships. The first five episodes focus on each of the children, and we see what happens, at Hill House and later in their lives, from their unique perspectives. We see how the children relate to each other and the past, and how some were affected more greatly by the haunting than others were.

Many times my eyes filled with tears, as raw emotions bubbled up in Shirley or Theo or Luke, feelings such as anger, fear, resentment, sibling love and bonding, sibling rivalry and jealousy. Every child had a role that they fulfilled when they were young. As adults they realize how much those roles were shaped by what they encountered and experienced.

Series Review The Haunting of Hill House

We Are All Haunted

Ghosts and jumps and bumps in the night aside, The Haunting of Hill House reminds me that we are all haunted to some extent by our pasts. Until we work to free ourselves from those troubling episodes that we’ve all had, they will continue to affect us and shape us.

I’ve seen this as true in my own life, from the fears I carried forward from my childhood to my fierce independence to the way I handle current situations, if I allow myself to fall back into default mode. Exorcising the ghosts from our pasts clears the way for light and wholeness and fresh ways to respond to events.

Such revelations make The Haunting of Hill House a powerful series to watch and re-watch. Netflix got it right. Still, even with all the insights and the deeper stories, I’d recommend viewing the first few episodes during the day! It is a haunting story, after all.

Series Review The Haunting of Hill House



Series Review: Castle Rock Season One

Awareness of the Hulu original series, Castle Rock, came to me as a result of a synchronicity thread I’m experiencing. As this year winds down, I’ve already received the word, Enchanted, and the symbol, the Queen chess piece, for 2019. It’s been an incredible experience, receiving confirmation that these are indeed crucial to my journey next year, even if I don’t yet fully understand why.

Riding in my daughter’s car last month, we listened to beautiful music from Max Richter. She shared how the music sounded familiar, when she played it recently, causing her to track down where she had heard it before. Elissa’s search led her to Episode 7, of the series Castle Rock that she had just watched. Her enthusiasm for the series created a desire to watch it as well. And Episode 7, Elissa told me, was titled The Queen! She felt it was the best episode she had ever seen on television. With that title it seemed important for me to view it.

Over the last 10 days, I watched the entire first season of Castle Rock. I’m so glad I did.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Castle Rock Season One

Castle Rock is inspired by the characters and stories of Stephen King. The fantasy/drama stars André Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Melanie Lynskey, Sissy Spacek, Terry O’Quinn, Scott Glenn, Caleel Harris, Adam Rothenberg and Chosen Jacobs. The series carries a MA rating, for language, violence and adult themes, and each episode has a run time of about 45 minutes. Currently the series is only available on Hulu.

Castle Rock is a town in Maine, well known in the Stephen King multiverse. It appears to be a small town where lots of bad things happen. Shawshank Prison looms over the town, literally and energetically. An anonymous call from there brings attorney Henry Deaver (Holland) home to meet with a mysterious client, discovered caged beneath the prison.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Castle Rock unsettles Henry. The strange man he represents, known only as The Kid (Skarsgård), disturbs him even more. The man was caged by former prison warden Dale Lacy (O’Quinn), who commits suicide, leaving The Kid to be discovered when the new warden arrives.

As Henry attempts to unravel The Kid’s past, he reconnects with his mother, Ruth (Spacek), and her long time companion, former town sheriff Alan Pangborn (Glenn). Henry’s father, the Reverend Matthew Deaver (Rothenberg), died tragically when Henry was a boy. Being home stirs up the past.

Henry has mysterious circumstances in his own life. He was adopted by the Deavers and disappeared for days during a cold Maine winter. Young Henry (Harris) reappeared just as abruptly as he vanished, with no memory of what had happened to him. The father died while his son was gone, and the townspeople believe Henry was responsible for the reverend’s death.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Henry’s dark past distracts him as he digs deeper into The Kid’s story. His mother’s fragile memory is cause for concern and Molly (Lynskey), his former childhood friend and neighbor, has grown into a troubled woman with a secret ability. Castle Rock appears to being growing darker and more violent by the day. Time is running out to protect the people he loves and figure out The Kid’s identity.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Episode 7 The Queen

Elissa’s praise for this episode was justified. Situated toward the end of the season, this episode is the pinnacle of the story. Ruth is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and throughout the show she has lucid moments and times of confusion.

Ruth’s neurologist describes her symptoms as “confusion with time and space”. Ruth tells her grandson Wendell (Jacobs) that she has been snatched from the predictable path of time, and misled into other days and other years. She relies on a system she created for herself, to help her get back to Now. Her Lewis chess pieces, a gift from Alan, are the breadcrumbs that lead her back.

Ruth, who buried her husband in 1991, can walk into a room and suddenly find herself talking to him, or reading a story to young Henry. But when she travels to these other times and places, finding one of the chess pieces propels her back into the present.

This hauntingly beautiful episode highlights the confusion and fear that one with memory loss must live with. What was once ordinary and routine becomes a jumble of mixed up memories and times. Sissy Spacek portrays Ruth with incredible depth and poignancy. Seeing life in Castle Rock from her perspective gives me great compassion toward those bravely battling all forms of dementia.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

The Messed Up Town of Castle Rock

I enjoyed this well done series. Although it stands on its own, whether the viewer is familiar with the works of Stephen King or not, the show has delightful and creepy King touches. The residents of Castle Rock continually blame the town itself for the bad things that people do there. I’m still thinking about the implications of this first season. The finale left the end of the story open to interpretation. I have my own ideas and I look forward to discussing Castle Rock with family members who have already watched it.

I am thinking the most about The Queen. The story intrigued me. Was Ruth a time walker or a sad woman lost in muddled up memories? And what deeper message is there for me? My symbol for next year just keeps showing up, and I know these aren’t mere coincidences. The chess pieces throughout the series, that played a key role in this episode, seemed to call to me as well. I’m still sorting it all out.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Series Review: Doctor Who Season 11

The new season of Doctor Who premiered today. For the first time in the show’s long history, a woman, actress Jodie Whittaker, assumed the role of The Doctor.

I have eagerly anticipated the return of Doctor Who AND this momentous episode when New Who is made even more…new.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

Doctor Who?

As a recap, Doctor Who chronicles the adventures of a time traveling alien who routinely saves the universe. He is particularly fond of Earth and his traveling companions are typically humans. The Doctor, whose name is never revealed, explores time and space in a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) that appears as a blue police box. Looks are deceiving though. This box is a spaceship that is much bigger on the inside.

Peter Capaldi recently stepped down as the 12th Doctor in the rebooted series known as New Who. However this alien with two hearts doesn’t die. He regenerates when he’s near the end of life, assuming a new body and personality while retaining memories. Thus various actors have portrayed the Doctor and continued the series over decades. With Capaldi’s exit, it was time for Doctor number 13.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

New Who Has a New Gender

Season 11 opened today with “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. Episode 1 starred Jodie Whittaker, Sharon D. Clarke, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh. Jamie Childs directed the debut by new show runner Chris Chibnall.

Doctor Who airs on Sunday evenings on BBC America, at 8:00 PM Central Standard Time.

In South Yorkshire, mysterious things are occurring. Ryan Sinclair (Cole) discovers a peculiar vessel in the woods. Police officer Yaz Khan (Gill), who responds to his call, happens to be an old school friend. As the two examine the strange craft, Ryan receives a frantic call from his grandmother, Grace (Clarke).

A menacing intruder has boarded the train that Grace and her husband Graham (Walsh) were journeying home in. Locked into the train car, injury or death seems certain…until a woman falls through the ceiling, landing in front of them. Unsure of her name, and dressed in a man’s rumpled suit, the woman (Whittaker) nonetheless quickly takes charge of the situation.

Yaz and Ryan arrive at the stalled train. And an unexpected adventure unfolds that involves not one but two aliens, a newly formed group of allies and a woman who fights to save others while desperately attempting to remember exactly who she is.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

The Woman Who Fell to Earth

I watched episode 1 three times today. Rather than reveal much about the story, I’d rather share a few thoughts about this new era in Who and encourage readers to become viewers.

First, well done Chris Chibnall, cast and crew on creating an engaging story as Doctor Who heads in fresh new directions. I enjoyed the cinematic look and feel of this episode. Chris sets the stage for future episodes that will focus a great deal on the human companions who accompany The Doctor. They have interesting stories of their own, these three companions, and the development of their characters is something to look forward to.

Jodie stepped into the role of Doctor and quickly made it hers. Regeneration episodes are always a bit tricky. A beloved actor has just left. A new person assumes the role. It usually takes me several episodes to get in sync with the new Doctor. I caught glimpses of Calpadi’s Doctor in the words and mannerisms of this fresh personality, and that eased the transition for me.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

My Doctor Who

Jodie became my Doctor today. Confused initially about who she is, she asks Yaz why she keeps calling her “madam”. When Yaz shares it’s because she’s a woman, The Doctor whirls around and asks, earnestly, “Does it suit me?”

She didn’t asked if it suited the others or if it was okay if she was female. I loved that distinction. It was brilliant.

Jodie was brilliant. By the end of episode one I had embraced the change. I await further episodes and look forward to getting to know all of these new characters. What a great group of companions The Doctor has.

My favorite quote of the night was spoken by The Doctor, as she created her own sonic screwdriver:

“There’s this moment when you are sure you are about to die and then…you are born. It’s terrifying. There are echoes of who I was and this call toward who I am, and I have to hold my nerve and trust all these new instincts and shape myself towards them.”

What a tremendous place to exist in. We can grow into the person we are becoming, without losing who we are. Echoes and a call. Trust.

It’s going to be an amazing season.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

Series Review Manifest

I appreciate cleverness in a movie or series, so much so that I am currently watching three engrossing and intriguing shows. I’ll be sharing reviews about all of them in upcoming days. The first review is for the new drama mystery, Manifest.

Series Review Manifest

Manifest Series

Manifest stars Josh Dallas, Melissa Roxburgh, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur and Victoria Cartagena. Episodes, with a run time of 1 hour, air on NBC Mondays at 9:00 pm central time.

When Montego Flight 828 lands safely after a short but turbulent flight, everyone on board is relieved. However, passengers immediately notice that their cell phones can’t get service. And the number of emergency vehicles in attendance seems out of proportion with the rough landing.

The passengers are asked to exit the plane while on the tarmac, instead of being taxied to the terminal gate. Ben Stone (Dallas) disembarks with his sister Michaela (Roxburgh) and young son Cal (Messina). Due to an overbooked airplane earlier, the three volunteered for this later flight. Ben’s wife Grace (Karkanis), daughter Olive (Blaise) and parents left on the original flight as scheduled.

Series Review Manifest

To their surprise, the passengers of Flight 828 learn that in the few hours they were in the air, five years have passed. The plane was declared missing, and its crew and passengers listed as presumed dead.

Cal’s twin sister Olive is a teenager, while he remains a child. The leukemia that threatens the boy’s life is now treatable, because medical researcher Saanvi (Kaur), who was also on the mysterious flight, sent in her findings as she boarded the plane.

As excited as people are to see their family members alive, much has changed in five years. Ben and Michaela’s mother died. Michaela’s fiancé Jared (Ramirez) married her best friend Lourdes (Cartagena). Relationships feel awkward and strained. People who mourned their supposed losses moved on and created new lives.

As the passengers of Flight 828 adjust to a time leap, they discover that they too have changed. They are more than they were previously, with heightened awareness and new abilities that trouble them. Deeper mysteries are unfolding.

Series Review Manifest

What is Manifesting?

Like many who watched episode one of Manifest, I saw a strong resemblance to another series from the early 2000s, Lost. In both shows there’s an airplane involved and passengers who end up in an unusual situation. Coincidences are abundant, with numbers playing a key role in the whole Lost series and in the first episode of Manifest.

I appreciated Lost, so any similarities were fine with me. Although, I do hope for a different type of ending for this new drama, if it runs for six years. That’s a long time to invest in a series and Lost fell short in its series finale for many viewers including me.

I am intrigued by Manifest. By episode two I wasn’t thinking of Lost any longer. I was trying to think ahead of the show and grasp where the story is heading and what is happening. There are mysteries to unravel for sure. And a creepy, menacing element appeared in the second episode that unnerved me.

I like that the characters’ lives are messy and disjointed, as they would be if five years passed for some and only hours for others. Shows and films about growth, transformation and acceptance are among my favorites to watch and Manifest has caught my attention and my interest.

Episode three airs Monday, October 8 on NBC. I’ll be watching.

Series Review Manifest

Series Review: Jack Ryan

This latest incarnation of Jack Ryan, a well known character created by late author Tom Clancy, secures his place on the small screen this time. I got to know the character through a series of movies, played by a string of actors that included Harrison Ford and Chris Pine.

Amazon Prime released season one on August 31. This is a series review of Jack Ryan.

Series Review Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan stars John Krasinki, Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, and Ali Suliman. Episode one, titled Pilot, was directed by Morten Tyldum and carries a TV-MA rating for language and violence. Each episode in this series has a run time of 1 hour and 4 minutes.

Jack Ryan (Krasinki) is a former US Marine serving behind a desk as a CIA analyst in the Counter Terrorism Center: Terror Finance and Arms Division. As he explains to his new boss, he studies marketing and financial transactions in Yemen, looking for aberrations.

He’s found one that concerns him. Massive amounts of money are being funneled into a single account that appears to be connected to a mysterious man known as Suleiman (Suliman). Jack feels the account needs to be frozen and Suleiman tracked down, to prevent another 9/11 type tragedy.

Series Review Jack Ryan

Jack’s supervisor, James Greer (Pierce), initially disagrees, leading Jack to take matters into his own hands. He freezes the account. While getting to know a former colleague’s daughter, Cathy (Cornish), at a birthday party, Jack is interrupted and called in. He and Greer board a plane bound for Yemen, where two men have been captured and held for interrogation.

It would appear that Saleiman and his bodyguard have been apprehended. Far from his analyst desk in Washington DC, Jack finds himself in the middle of an explosive situation that poses a dangerous threat to the entire world.

Series Review Jack Ryan

I was impressed with this premiere episode in a fresh series about a familiar character. As I’ve seen several of the Jack Ryan movies and reboots over the years, it was good to start again at the beginning and see how an analyst ends up as an agent in the field.

John Krasinki inhabits the character well, I think. Best known for playing Jim Halpert for eight years in The Office, Krasinki brought a hint of humor to Jack Ryan and a surprisingly buff body. We get a glimpse of Ryan’s back story and recognize that he suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome. Krasinki brings a vulnerability to the role that I liked.

I especially enjoyed the banter between Ryan and Greer. The two get off to a rough start. Greer was sent back to the US as a disciplinary action and reluctantly assumes his new position with the CIA. Back in the field together the men develop a cautious respect for each other.

With eight episodes available for season one and the second season already confirmed, this new series, Jack Ryan, promises action, adventures and dangerous situations to defuse. I’ll be watching. Well done, Amazon Prime.

Series Review Jack Ryan

Yellowstone Season One Review

Tonight was the season one finale of Paramount Network’s big bold series, Yellowstone. I got in on the beginning of the series and was immediately drawn to the story that is best described as gritty and intense. Check out my first review from the beginning of the season. Below are my thoughts after watching all of Yellowstone season one.

Yellowstone Season One Review

Yellowstone stars Kevin Costner, Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Michaela Conlin, and Wendy Moniz. This western drama, directed by Taylor Sheridan, carries a MA rating for language, violence and adult situations, and has an episode run time of 1 hour.

Tonight’s episode was aptly titled The Unraveling Part 2, and was the conclusion of a two part season finale.

Yellowstone Season One Review

A Whole Heap of Trouble

The events in this season ender of Yellowstone tied up a few loose ends in the story, and peaked in the middle of a broiling stew of trouble, creating a wonderful cliffhanger.

John Dutton (Costner) carries many secrets and one of the most troubling for him involves his health. This man shoulders the burdens of owning the largest ranch in the US, a very real kingdom in the west built by his family over generations, and he feels he has no one among his adult children to hand the keys of the kingdom over to. Time is slipping away and it makes him desperate.

The son who was being groomed to run the ranch is gone. His attorney son Jamie (Bentley) has seemingly turned his back on the family to pursue his own career in politics. Younger son Kayce (Grimes) is most like his father but he’s a wild and unpredictable man, as untamed as the horses he breaks for a living. And daughter Beth (Reilly), a shrewd businesswoman, will do anything to take down her father’s enemies. But when Daddy is gone, she will be the first to sell off the ranch, piece by piece.

Yellowstone Season One Review

Yellowstone Season One Review A relaxed shot of the actors who portray Kayce and Beth.

Who to Trust

The person John trusts the most is his ranch foreman, Rip (Hauser). Loyal to the point of bending the law for his boss, Rip has a better understanding of the workings of the ranch and John’s intentions to hold it together, than any of the children. He will do anything to protect John and Yellowstone.

The level of strife in John’s family is multiplied among the people seeking to destroy him and seize his property. Chief Rainwater (Birmingham) has formed an uneasy partnership with ruthless land developer Dan Jenkins (Huston). The two have plans to build a casino, hotel and housing development on the edge of Yellowstone. Their ultimate goal is to drive the Duttons out and take control of their property. Even John’s love interest Governor Lynelle Perry (Moniz) appears to have her own agenda to topple him.

Other skirmishes are in play among John’s children. Kayce’s wife Monica (Asbille) has left him and taken their son. And Jamie’s political campaign is challenged by a journalist from New York, Sarah Nguyen (Conlin), who intends to expose his father as a corrupt man.

When John Dutton says the whole county has turned against him, it appears to include his own family.

Yellowstone Season One Review

Yellowstone Season One Review

Character & Story Development

This series is much more “drama” than “western”, in spite of the horses and the cowboys who work on the ranch. I was curious after episode one, to see how the characters and the story developed. I have not been disappointed.

These are complex, convoluted characters. There aren’t good guys and bad guys in Yellowstone. Everyone is a mixture of both, from the people plotting to bring the Duttons down to John Dutton himself. The characters are portrayed as flawed, broken, hurting people who sometimes do dark deeds and sometimes display moments of courageous authenticity in the face of challenges.

I love the inclusion of backstories for the major characters. I get to see how they got broken, who hurt them, and why they now attempt to manipulate and hurt others. I can see the good that was once in them and hope for its reappearance as they grapple with life. And I recognize that while these characters are larger than life, they represent snippets found within all of us. My eyes fill with tears often as I watch their struggles. Why? Because it births compassion in me and makes me look at people in my reality differently. People that hurt, have been hurt, and everyone has a backstory of their own.

I was glad to find out this week that Yellowstone has been renewed. There will be a season two airing in 2019. That’s good news for me because the story of the Duttons and the ranch and the community that surrounds it is far from over. In fact, it has just begun. I look forward to the next dynamic chapter of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Season One Review

Series Review: Yellowstone

I’ve seen numerous previews for this new television series, starring award winning actor, director and producer Kevin Costner. The series premiered last month on the Paramount Network. I only yesterday realized I get that station, via Direct TV. I’ve long respected Costner’s work and although traditional westerns are not my favorite genre, this series caught my attention. I had the opportunity to watch episode one this evening, through Direct TV’s on demand feature.

Series Review Yellowstone

Yellowstone has a large ensemble cast that includes Kevin Costner, Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Dave Annable, Kelsey Asbille and Gil Birmingham. This western/drama, directed by Taylor Sheridan, carries a MA rating, due to adult themes, language and sexuality. Each episode has a run time of 1 hour and 32 minutes. Episode one is titled Daybreak.

John Dutton (Costner) is a 6th generation rancher and the current owner of the family’s immense Wyoming property, Yellowstone. He is assisted on the ranch by his eldest son, Lee (Annable), who spends long days working the land and caring for the livestock. And John is aided as needed by his middle son, Jamie (Bentley), who is an attorney that specializes in land.

John’s daughter Beth (Reilly), and youngest son Cayce (Grimes), are the family members who, although not quite outcasts, dwell on the fringe. Cayce, whose relationship with his father is very strained, lives on a nearby Indian reservation with his wife Monica (Kelsey) and their young son.

Series Review Yellowstone

Series Review Yellowstone

As the owner of the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, Dutton encounters conflicts with those who share his borders…the reservation with its new Chief (Birmingham), an expanding town, a land grabbing developer, and one of the most famous parks in America.

It’s as the patriarch of his family, however, with its complex and complicated relationships, that true strength and wisdom are required from him.

Series Review Yellowstone

I enjoyed this first episode, and I’m grateful for the ability to catch up on the series through On Demand. There’s intrigue present in the well done story, family secrets, deeper family sorrows, and beneath it all, the land.

Although there are plenty of cowboy hats, cattle and horses in the series, this isn’t a typical western. John Dutton rides in a helicopter, rather than on a horse, to survey his domain. And the family dynamics are as much a focus of the show as the escalating conflicts over land. Kevin Costner definitely shines in his role as a man who, while embracing his duties and obligations as a rancher, has endured much in his lifetime, and who may be growing weary of it all.

I look forward to seeing how the characters and the story develops in Yellowstone. I have one more episode to watch, and then I’ll be caught up and ready for the third episode when it televises on July 11. Ten episodes, at an hour and a half each, should be just the right amount of time to tell this big, big story.

Series Review Yellowstone