Away (Netflix 2020)

2 Kernels

There is much buzz about the Internet and multiple reviews on this new show. People are hankering to lift off from the planet earth and watch an inspiring Sci-Fi series to get their mind off of earthly riots and pandemic. Well, as most reviews you will read, this new series isn’t going to lift you off very far. Instead, it’s going to keep you grounded in earthly soap opera antics and introduce you to a dysfunctional spaceship crew that can’t quite get it together until the end.

I will be frank with you. I watched the first three episodes and then skipped to the last episode, leaving behind a few unseen. The short synopsis of the the ones I missed filled in the blanks enough for me to try and reach a climatic ending of a Mars walk.

I have no complaint with Hilary Swank. She is a fine actress who has her share of awards. As she plays, Emma, the commander of the mission, her story is more grounded in earthly problems with her husband having a stroke and leaving behind her teenage daughter for three years while she sets off to Mars and the unknown. In space, she can’t quite get the support of the crew she is supposed to lead.

The rest of the crew, who are all from different countries, can’t seem to get it together as a team. There is backbiting, complaining, no trust in their commander, and the same old crap we deal with on earth is flown off toward Mars.

The spaceship has more problems than a car with 100,000 miles on it, creating small crises along the way that need fixing or else the mission is doomed. For some reason, you don’t quite feel that being doomed is all that bad, when five people can’t work together for a common goal.

Then there are the technical problems that some people are ranting about in reviews. Frankly, I was quite surprised, too, that talking on a cell phone from a spaceship far beyond the moon was possible. The reception is better than what we get on earth.

If you are looking for a cool science fiction series, you will be disappointed. If you’re looking for the same old earth-antics, coworker angst, and family problems played out in outer space, this one is for you. The only good scenes were when they landed on Mars after the eight-month voyage (and yes, they make it), taking another giant leap for mankind but not for television.

Finally! Season 4 – The Crown

Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher) and Emma Corrin (Lady Diana Spencer) join Olivia Colman. November 15th!!

Virgin River (Netflix Series 2019)

3.5 Kernels

Well, from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., I binged a new series on Netflix – Virgin River. Was it a waste of time or could have I been more productive finishing my laundry and vacuuming instead?  As guilty as I felt about sitting on my rear for so many hours in one day, with occasional bathroom, kitchen breaks, and a short one-hour nap, the show obviously kept my interest.

Virgin River is a romantic series, which Netflix has already commissioned a second season due to be released June 2020. Therefore, don’t throw your hands up in the air when you reach the last episode of season one, because more is coming your way.  The show is “loosely” based on a series of books written by author Robyn Carr, another lucky author (unlike myself) whose books are being brought to life on television.

The series is about Melinda Rose, a talented nurse played by Alexandra Breckenridge, who brings strength to the leading female character. Melinda has a terribly sad past and has experienced horrible heartache, all of which she is hoping to forget by taking a job in northern California. The fictional town of Virgin River is apparently two hours from Eureka, on the California coast. However, the show was filmed in British Columbia, and the scenery is far more mountainous than the actual location depicted. There are also shots of Eureka, but they are far from what Eureka looks like. After living there for eighteen months, I can tell you much about the place.  Nevertheless, setting aside the rather unrealistic locations, it’s worth tuning into.

During the series, there are multiple flashbacks to Melinda’s life, which are slowly revealed in each episode as to the reason she has left Los Angeles in an attempt to forget the painful memories of the location. It takes time to peel back the reason behind her hurt and pain. When she arrives in Virgin River, she meets an eclectic group of individuals. First, there is the seventy-plus year-old-doctor that she is supposed to support as a nurse. She quickly learns he doesn’t want her there and is being forced to take on extra help in his sole practice as the only physician in Virgin River. Then there is the mayor of the town, who pretty much tricked her into coming, who is a character in herself. As small towns go, she’s just part of a larger group of women who knows everybody’s business and can’t seem to stay out of anything in anybody’s life. Like a dog with a bone, you’ll soon find out that she is not the most likable individual.

The slow-burning romantic interest comes in the way of Martin Henderson, playing Jack Sheridan, the owner of the town bar. He has his own past of being a vet with post-traumatic stress disorder. He hires other vets to work for him at the bar and is intent on helping those who can’t get back into the swing of things after coming out of service, all to ease his own guilt of what happened in Iraq.  He immediately feels a spark of attraction to Melinda and quickly offers to help her get settled into Virgin River. However, he has his own surprise twist waiting in the wings. Melinda is extremely secretive with him about her past, and he doesn’t understand what she has been through into much later in the episodes.

There are other sub-plots through the series and characters to keep your interest from illegal pot growers in the mountains to a woman on the run from the law with her young son. These offshoots are merely fillers in the larger picture of Melinda and Jack’s journey to wholeness. Though some of the episodes have places to yawn, overall I found Virgin River to be entertaining and will tune to the second season.

As far as the heat level, think Hallmark clean. Very little swearing. No glaring sex scenes – just kisses. I found that interesting because a few of the book reviews complain about sexually explicit scenes or too much sex. Apparently, the screenplay writer decided otherwise. Fine with me.

The Crown: What was the Suez Crisis and why did it bring down Prime Minister Anthony Eden?

Season 2 of The Crown is streaming on Netflix.  Of course, I didn’t waste much time watching the first episode.  Things are tense between Elizabeth and Philip, Princess Margaret is drinking too much, and Philip may be cavorting with a ballet dancer.  Of course, you’re going to be in for more historical insights if you weren’t alive in 1956, including the Suez Canal crisis.  Looking for the real scoop?  Radio Times hasn’t wasted any time clarifying it for you in this article.

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a political disaster for Britain and for Prime Minister Anthony Eden as the joint invasion was met with international outcry – find out more about the events behind The Crown season 2

Source: The Crown: What was the Suez Crisis and why did it bring down Prime Minister Anthony Eden?

Alias Grace (2017 Netflix Series)

alias-grace5 Kernels

WARNING:  Binge-watching a television series is hazardous to your health.  We’ve all read the warnings so I did take a break after episode three for one hour and went back for three more episodes.  What does that say?  I’m fat and unhealthy because I watch too much TV?  No, it means that Netflix hit it out of the park again as far as I’m concerned.

After being sucked into the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I have a growing admiration for the mind of this writer after seeing Alias Grace.  However, I never have time to read (only write), so picking up a book adaptation on screen now and then works for me. The downside, of course, is I will never know what is better – the book or the series.

Alias Grace is a wonderful and intriguing story that pulls you along slowly.  However, I will warn you up front that if you don’t like listening to one woman with an Irish accent narrate and talk for hours on end, this series is not for you. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a period drama set in the mid-Victorian period about a woman imprisoned for committing murder, take a seat and grab the remote.

After spending 15 years in prison, Grace has become somewhat of a celebrity murderess for her participation in a ghastly murder that breeds public fascination. A group wants to see her released from prison so they invite a well-known psychiatrist to do an assessment of her mental state. Dr. Simon Jordan (played by Edward Holcroft) interviews Grace.  In the process, while he attempts to ascertain her criminal mind, he becomes entangled in his own emotions of seemingly falling for this delicate but complicated creature. As the interviews continue, you wonder how much of Grace’s story is told for his benefit or her own as she weaves the tale.

AliasSarah Gadon who plays Grace is an excellent choice for this demure young lady from a poor upbringing.  After immigrating from Ireland to Canada, she leaves home and works as a maid.  It’s here that she meets another servant girl who becomes her best friend. When she passes away, she decides to depart for a new employment situation. It brings her into a difficult scenario with a lecherous boss and his housekeeper/mistress who is unlikeable and often cruel.  Another servant, James McDermott, has had enough of his job and plots to kill their employers, dragging Grace into the mix.

The interesting and mind-boggling outcome of the search for her guilt and innocence will surprise you as it draws you into the lives of these characters.  Apparently based on a true-to-life sensationalized murder that happened in Canada in 1843, Margaret Atwood takes the story to a new level for her readers.  Netflix has added that dimension for its viewers, leaving you with the not-so-concrete answer of her participation in the dastardly murders.

For each 44-minute episode, it’s worth risking your health for the four and half hours spent in the chair in front of the television.  Highly recommended.