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.

Enola Holmes (Netflix 2020 Movie)

4 Fun Kernels

Streaming on Netflix is an entertaining period movie – Enola Holmes. It runs 123 minutes, so get your popcorn and enjoy.

Enola is the daughter Eudoria Holmes, the mother of the infamous Sherlock Holmes. By the time she turns sixteen, her older two brothers are long gone from the household and her father has been dead for many years. Her mother, played by Helena Bonham Carter is not your usual English lady. She has a mind of her own, secrets aplenty, and has given her daughter a very unconventional upbringing.

Enola wakes one morning to find her mother missing, and contacts her two brothers who show up. The elder brother Mycroft is the ward of his little sister and aghast that she is so unlady like. He plans to quickly send her off to finishing school. Sherlock on the other hand is like a dog with a bone, sniffing about the house looking for clues to their missing mother. Before her older brother has the chance to send her off, Enola sneaks out of the house dressed like a boy and vanishes as well. Her intent is to find her mother.

Her travels take Enola to London where she meets a young man along the way on the train who is a Viscount, escaping from his own home life. They soon discover that someone is out to kill him, and as they say, the game is afoot. Enola, of course, has left to find her mother, following clues Enola deciphered. They form a quick friendship but eventually part ways, yet their stories run along side one another.

The tale is told from Enola’s point of view, and this is one of those quirky productions where she’s talking right into the camera telling the audience her thoughts and what’s going on. The can either make or break a movie, and frankly it totally makes this very quirky and overly entertaining tale. It’s filled with mystery, coming of age young love, and enough danger to keep you on the edge of your seat. There are a few violent scenes that you may find disturbing, but be assured truth and goodness wins in the end.

Henry Cavill plays Sherlock Holmes, and Millie Bobby Brown who plays Enola is delightful. Sam Claflin is Mycroft Holmes, the elder brother, who is unlikeable.

With a great twist at the end, you will enjoy this movie. I do hope they make more of her adventures as a young detective who is just as good as her elder brother. I would definitely watch again.

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.