Bridgerton (Netflix 2020)

3 Kernels

Saturday and Sunday, I spent hours watching the new Netflix Series, Bridgerton, based on Julia Quinn’s The Duke & I. There are tons of articles on the Internet that include reviews from mainstream media and entertainment sites. Now I am offering my two cents.

If you haven’t read the book this series is based off, I’ll give you a very quick synopsis. Travel back to the Regency era when the debutantes are presented during the London season. It’s the marriage market, and young ladies are looking for husbands. Duke Hastings doesn’t wish to marry; Daphne is desperate to marry. He wishes to get rid of the mother’s and young daughters clamoring for his attention, while Daphne isn’t getting the attention she needs. They make a pack to act as if they are in love. The duke gets rid of attention; and Daphne gets all the attention, drawing more suitors vying for her heart. Basically, the rest of the story is a soap opera of massive events involving two families – the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons. To add to the story, is an anonymous writer who sells a social newsletter, spilling the latest gossip and scandal about London. Got it?

Story & Setting – Shonda Rhimes’s Netflix version follows the book’s story. However, as indicated at the beginning credits this is “Shondaland,” a vastly different view of the true reality of who composed the English aristocracy. People of color are central in the cast, explained as a result of mad King George marrying a woman of color. Obviously, there are pros and cons that the show deviates from historical reality. In order to enjoy, you will have to re-imagine a world that lives in “Shondaland” and not in fact. The series was filmed in Bath, showing recognizable locales, even though the story for the most part is set in London for the season.

The episodes give all the characters ample focus, but I found myself bored during some of the subplots as they played out. There are over 25 characters in eight episodes. I thought that far too much time was spent on Marina Thompson’s story line and her stay in the Featherington household. Other subplots did not keep my interest either. Frankly, I think overall the series could have been tightened down to six episodes making it more interesting.

Casting – The two main characters of Daphne (played by Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (played by Rege-Jean Page) are interesting. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I was not impressed with the casted couple.  Phoebe isn’t what I would characterize as a great beauty, but plays the role well of an innocent and pure young lady of impeccable breeding.  Rege-Jean, on the other hand, did not float my remote. I’m sorry, but I thought him stiff, making Simon unlikable, unapproachable, arrogant, and unattractive. The way he looks down his nose at you, just about kills any amorous feelings you hope to flourish as a viewer. It has nothing to do with his race, but everything to do with making the leading man appealing to audiences — not just with his clothes off.  (Fine body, by the way.) If the term a cardboard character can be used on screen, I would term him as such. I did not feel any longing for him as a man, which is the fantasy women want when reading historical romance. It’s the irresistible rake who you conjure up between the pages of a book that is lost in translation.  Although the story is definitely a ruse between Daphne and Simon to begin with, their eventual falling in love didn’t capture my heart in any swoon-worthy manner. I didn’t care about them as a couple or their reconciliation at the end. The remaining cast is acceptable in their roles. I was surprised to see Julian Ovenden. Nicola Coughlan was adorable as Penelope Featherington.

Costumes – I’ve read there were 7,800 outfits worn. Some historically accurate — others a little over the top, including the outrageous wigs.  The Featherington family gowns are colorful with bold prints, while the Bridgertons are dressed in more subdued colors with sparkling fabrics. Daphne changes so many times it makes you dizzy. Corsets in Shondaland were a little out of date. If you love men in cravats, you will like their outfits.  I’ve never been a real fan of Regency era styles anyway.  I’m more of a late Victorian dress-gal myself.

Sex – This needs a category all its own. Had I thought about it, I should have kept pen and paper handy to count the number of sex scenes. As I strain my brain to remember how many transpired between Simon and Daphne, I think there were eight. No frontal nudity but enough in bed to wonder whether the actor’s modesty pieces kept intact during the rambunctious scenes of sexual intercourse. Lot’s of skin and no under the covers. They did it everywhere imaginable, moaning enough to give the servants a good chuckle. On the stairs, against the wall, against a ladder in the library, in the grass, and in bed. Simon had his head up Daphne’s skirt a few times as well, sending her into ultimate sexual bliss. (On the stairs nonetheless with a camera overview – geesh! I’m thinking where are the servants?) Then there is the “no consent” scene, which is disturbing.  However, Simon isn’t exactly intoxicated like indicated in the book. He’s definitely more lucid, but is horrified when Daphne gets on top. Anthony Bridgerton has his fair share of scenes in the sack, and the hidden love affair that Henry Granville has with another male touches on the dangers that homosexuals faced in that era but only shows two males embracing.

Season 2 – UPDATE: January 2021 – Yes, there will be a season two. Will Anthony Bridgerton get his love story next? Apparently so, based on the book The Viscount Who Loved Me.

Feel free to leave your thoughts on whether it floated your remote or not.  Reviews have termed it as “sparkly,” “scintillating,” “delightfully horny,” as well as “shallow” and “preposterous and cliche-ridden.” Did you enjoy it, or are you sticking with the book instead?

The Flight Attendant (HBO 2020)

5 Stars

Kaley Cuoco, aka Penny on the Big Band Theory, has proven that she is a competent actress in her own right in the entertaining new series The Flight Attendant. If you don’t have HBO, it’s worth the $14.99/month steaming to watch this highly engaging, quirky mystery, with twists and turns. It also has its share of thriller moments, mixed with comedy, and the seriousness of facing one’s demons while trying to stay alive.

The series quickly takes flight with Cassie Bowden on her way to Thailand. While serving a man in first class seating who flirts with her along the trip, she agrees to go out with him. They spend the night in a whirlwind of drinking and sex. The following morning she wakes up next to him. He’s quite dead, having had his throat slit. Naturally, she can barely remember the evening before and the panic begins.

Michiel Huisman plays the dead man, Alex Sokolov, and very much remains a character throughout the eight episodes in spite of being murdered. It’s quite entertaining. Kudos for his ability to run around drenched in fake blood in a lot of scenes, holding his slit neck. If you have a problem with blood, you may have a problem watching his appearances on a few occasions. However, he’s not always dripping red.

Cassie, unfortunately, has a drinking problem that stems from her childhood. Naturally in denial, the show not only is about the unraveling the mystery of Alex’s death, but also facing her childhood that turned her into an alcoholic. When her relationships continue to unravel with her brother and close friends, it eventually leads her to a self-realization that besides someone else wanting her dead, she’s killing herself.

There are a few other subplots that involve another flight attendant and her poor decisions, along with the FBI tagging along trying to figure out what’s going on. Cassie’s closets friend, who is an attorney, also shares a large portion of the storyline.

Frankly, I was quite impressed by Kaley Cuoco’s acting abilities that she clearly had not the opportunity to showcase on the BBT. Nevertheless, she has undoubtedly matured in this well produced production that left a smile on my face. I hope it evolves into another series and her adventures.

The Undoing (HBO 2020)

5 Kernels

I binged the first five episodes this weekend, and then topped it off with the newly released season finale. It did not disappoint.

Let me say that Hugh Grant ages well. He will be handsome until his dying day. However, I never thought him a great actor until seeing him in this production of The Undoing. Stellar performance along side Nicole Kidman, who ruins my self esteem as I see her skinny body at 53 years of age and beautiful hair. Besides the physical appearances of these two stars, they make a great couple in this thriller of a story of who done it.

Meet Dr. Johnathan Fraser, an oncologist, and Grace Fraser, his wife, the psychologist. They are a power couple, rich, happy, with a fine young son attending a private school for the rich. Then arrives Elena into Grace’s circle of friends helping with the annual fund raiser for their school. She’s not as classy or rich, because her son has a scholarship. She comes to their first meeting, with a baby in arms, and unashamedly breastfeeds her daughter in front of the women. Needless to say it’s easy to see she’s not from their class.

As Elena oddly greets and speaks with Grace, she becomes uneasy and tells her husband about it. He laughs it off, but unbeknown to Grace there is more to the story than meets the eye. When Elena ends up dead, cruelly bludgeoned to death, the truth seeps out in bits and pieces “undoing” their perfect family picture.

Rather than spoil the show for you, I’ll highly recommend this series as a must watch for those who love the thriller who-done-it type stories. I hope Hugh gets a nod of an award for this performance. It was fantastic.

The Crown (Netflix Season 4)

4-1/2 Kernels

It took me two days to get through season four of The Crown. The first three episodes gave me an emotional overload, and I had to step away from it for a good four hours before watching more later in the evening. Let me just say that the season was surprisingly different than I anticipated but did bring me to tears on many occasions, especially when it came to Diana. Emma Corrin did a wonderful job in portraying the late Princess, reminding us why she was the people’s Princess despite being unloved by her Prince.

I had thought that season four would contain more of Charles and Diana, but it was interspersed with others such as Margaret Thatcher’s eleven years in office, and continuing struggles of the royal family on many levels with all of the Queen’s children being introduced. If anything is to be taken away from this season is that poor Diana married into Queen’s kingdom of dysfunctional individuals, without a soul really caring for her at all.

You will spend a few good hours watching Gillian Anderson’s brilliant portrayal of the Iron Lady and her political policies that didn’t always sit well with the Queen. Charles Dance will have a short window of opportunity before his ill-fated trip as Lord Mountbatten. Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret will continue to struggle with her physical and mental health in the shadow of her sister. Erin Doherty plays the very monotone and unhappy Princess Anne, only one of four miserable children all bemoaning their existence of being an unhappy royal child. Emerald Fennel plays Camilla, who by the end of the season you want to slap. Josh O’Connor, whose hands are perpetually in his suitcoat pockets, plays the unhappy Prince of Wales. He is both childish and cruel to Diana on so many levels that you pray it really didn’t happen that way. It’s not a pretty picture.

The Queen is the Queen, and Oliva Colman is perfect being the monarch who cannot show emotion. She is unable to return a simple hug to poor Diana so much in need of acceptance and love. In one episode she is concerned about how her children have turned out and their lives as adults. Nevertheless, she continues to demand duty to the crown, especially where whining Charles is concerned about his marriage to Diana.

Prince Philip is well portrayed by Tobias Menzies, who comes across more of a father figure this season. In a family who doesn’t give much attention to Diana, he becomes her approver early on and adviser at the end, clearly making her understand where her place is when it comes to the royal scheme of life – that everyone’s existence revolves around one person – the Queen.

As stated, I wanted more about Charles and Diana, but what is portrayed is so emotional that we’ve been spared additional heartbreak. Supposedly in real life he only saw her thirteen times before they wed. Diana was approved because of her title to be his wife, but he never loved her. He longs for Camilla, married to another man, with an obsession that is unexplainable. You’ll see very little about the birth of William and Harry, although there are a few scenes with the young children with her individually or when Charles and Diana show up as a couple separately to cheer them on, and then leave in separate cars afterwards to go their own ways.

Season four is heartbreaking, astonishing, disturbing, and above all well acted. The ending will leave you feeling like the look on Diana’s face during the last scene – brokenhearted and trapped in a family of dysfunctional royals.

Season five will bring us all new actors as the years go by and the royal family ages. Unfortunately, it’s another year’s wait to watch the family saga continue.

‘The Crown’ Seasons 5 and 6: New Cast Members, Timeline and Everything We Know

With The Crown season 4 now streaming on Netflix, anticipation for the upcoming next two seasons of the Emmy-winning historical drama about the royal family is already ramping up. Over the past few months, the streaming platform announced some of the new stars taking over for the current cast in season 5 — prepare to say goodbye to Olivia Colman and hello to Imelda Staunton — and confirmed that season 6 will be its last. Per the tradition of the series, The Crown recasts the lead roles every two seasons, meaning that following seasons 3 and 4 audiences will get a whole new cast.

Source: ‘The Crown’ Seasons 5 and 6: New Cast Members, Timeline and Everything We Know