Away (Netflix 2020)

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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.

Young Wallander – Guardian’s Review “Back to the future with TV’s gloomiest copper.”

1 Kernel

I tuned into the Young Wallander, now streaming on Netflix.  After two and a half episodes, I couldn’t take much more.  Violent, gloomy, dark, and boring.  Violent and dark is what I said of the original series in my review (Read Here), but the original series had the psychological intrigue of the man who solved the crimes.

This is supposed to be about Kurt Wallander’s younger years as a copper, but instead it’s not set in the actual years of his life.  It’s a set in today’s modern-day, giving us no insight into what forges the man during his formative years as a policeman.  The lead is dull and his monotone voice and lack of acting will put you straight to sleep.

Read more at the Guardian – link below.  I’m not going to waste any more space on this review or time on the series.  Sorry, this failed to pop.

Netflix’s prequel to the Wallander novels and TV series takes place in the present day, weaving in contemporary politics – but would a straight origin story have been better?

Source: Young Wallander review – back to the future with TV’s gloomiest copper

The Royal House of Windsor (2017)

5 Royal Kernels

Now streaming on Netflix and more recently aired on PBS, is The Royal House of Windsor, a six-part documentary about the royal family. I have to say that this is one of the best tell-alls that I have viewed. The episodes are:

  • Adapt of Die
  • Love & Duty
  • Enter the Outsider
  • Shadow of a King
  • Fire, Feud, and Fury
  • The Top Job

It isn’t a tabloid-type look into the family, but rather a good historical accounting of facts. Starting with the Royal Family during WWI, it goes through WWII era, Prince Philip’s struggles, Charles and Diana, the turbulent marriage and divorce, and the children, and Prince Charles’ imprint on the monarchy and his views. Its insights into their personal lives, such as their upbringing and values, add to the intrigue of the series. It’s an eclectic group of individuals from traditionalists to liberals, making their way through love and duty.

If you’re into the English royal family, I high recommend this informative and well-done show that will give you a deeper understanding of what makes its various members tick. Long live the Queen.

Radioactive (Movie 2019)

p17646802_v_v12_at2 Radioactive Kernels

Streaming on Amazon Prime is Radioactive, a movie about the life of Marie (Sklodowska) Curie, played by Rosamund Pike. The movie is rated on the mediocre side by most critics and has a lousy 3.2 start rating on Amazon (somewhat like some of my books).

If you don’t know who Marie Curie is, shame on you because you didn’t pay attention in your science class. You can thank her and her husband for discovering radium and polonium. She also came up with the name “radioactivity.”  You can read about her life here at the Nobel Prize website.

You know, if you’re interested in a simple down-to-earth science refresh, I found this show on PBS that actually got my attention far more than the movie.  Do a refresh about Radium that is found in Uranium by watching Twisting the Dragon’s Tail.

Okay, back to the movie. There are things in this movie that work and don’t work. You will find Marie Curie portrayed as a rather eccentric individual. She falls in love with another scientist, and their discoveries win the Nobel Prize. After two children and a husband who dies tragically, there are endless boring scenes of her depression and subsequent affair with a married man.

The oddity of how this movie plays out is that it juts back and forth from the timeline of Marie Currie’s life and suddenly fast forwards to the scenes of the future such as the invention of radiation therapy for cancer, the testing of the atomic bomb in the United States and the subsequent falling on Hiroshima and it’s destruction. It also flashforwards to the Chernobyl disaster.

The purpose, of course, is that Marie and Pierre realize early on that their discovery contains both good and evil.  Pierre has more hope in humanity than most, hoping that only good will come from radium. However, as time goes on, people who are using the newly discovered radium for anything under the sun are becoming ill. The pointing fingers of blame start coming their way.  Eventually, even Madame Curie dies of prolonged exposure to radiation. She died in 1934 of aplastic anemia.

The movie was a bit slow, dark, and uninspiring. I must be in a bad mood lately because everything I’m watching recently isn’t popping my kernels. Unless you are really curious about who Madame Curie was and her discoveries this one may put you to sleep. True scientists will probably be bored as well. Actually, the PBS documentary linked above is far more interesting and teachable.

 

The Nest (BBC 2020)

The Nest2 Dry Kernels

Now streaming on Acorn TV is The Nest, a five-part British series. You’ll recognize Martin Compston from Line of Duty and struggle to understand his heavy Scottish accent. Rounding out the characters are Sophie Rundle and Mirren Mack.

The story is about a married couple, Emily and Dan Docherty, who are desperate to have a baby.  Emily cannot conceive and after years of trying, they are looking into having a surrogate carry the baby with their dwindling supply of baby-making material.  After a failed attempt with a family member to carry a baby to term, Emily has a chance encounter with an eighteen-year-old girl, Kaya, who agrees to be her next host for the hefty price of 50,000 Pounds. Apparently, in Scotland, it’s against the law to pay surrogates to have a baby, except to cover their basic expenses.  Dan is very skeptical of using a stranger, as he has a long list of requirements, wanting a baby birthed by a decent person.

Of course, Kaya, has a very dark background and a secret that eventually comes to the surface. Dan, the would-be father, is far from perfection himself. Emily needs a good dose of counseling as she is obsessed with having a baby, and pressures and threatens Dan the entire journey as Kaya’s pregnancy transpires.

This is really an odd series. It’s convoluted. Full of plot holes. Side stories that go nowhere and never get fully baked, and questions that don’t get answered. When you should find some satisfaction in the ending, you sort of turn off the television and immediately forget the series.  Perhaps it is the way the story was presented that makes it so odd to me and unsatisfying.  I wasn’t exactly feeling anything of much for the characters. Surprisingly, it has a 93% Tomatometer from 15 critics and a 7.2 rating on IMDb.  I’m not sure why I’m out on the fringe with this one compared to reviews, but it just didn’t float my remote.

Next, please.