Defending Jacob (Apple TV 2020)

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Well, it was a boring Sunday/Monday scenario, and I binge-watched another series, Defending Jacob, which is an Apple TV production.  Let me just say that I’m impressed by the quality of these series.

This one is based on a book written by William Landlay, but takes the liberty of changing the ending. I’m definitely not going to tell you the change, and if you just can’t wait, you’ll have to Google it yourself.  However, I suggest if you do, wait until you’ve watched the entire series. Each episode runs an hour long.

Based on the story of a family living in a small town in Massachusetts, it revolves around the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy. Meet the family in the center of this tale, which is the son, Jacob, played by Jaeden Martell, his father the Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber, played by Chris Evans, and the mother, Laurie, played by Michelle Dockery (who ditches her English accent for an American part). They are the perfect family until suddenly evidence points to Jacob being the murderer of a classmate by the name of Ben.

If you think by the title that this is an eight-part courtroom drama, you can put away that assumption. Although you will be part of the courtroom for two different proceedings, the story is mainly focused on the family dynamics of two parents whose son is accused of murder. The trial itself is only two episodes, but the episodes are not entirely in the courtroom.

So the crux of the story revolves around the unconditional love question. Do you believe Jacob when he says he didn’t do it or do you stand by him in the belief you know your son would never do anything like murder a human being? This is the conundrum that Andy and Laurie find themselves in as they vacillate back and forth from did he or didn’t he.  Being the great drama that it is, it does a fine job of throwing your own assumptions back and forth and never gives you a clear-cut answer to that pointed question.

Other characters are (1) the grieving parents of the dead boy, (2) Cherry Jones who plays the defense attorney, (3) Pablo Schreiber who plays the prosecuting attorney (who by the way is annoying as hell); and Betty Gabriel, a police detective. The only dynamic that I didn’t quite understand was this hatred by Neal, the prosecuting attorney against his coworker Andy, who taught him the ropes. Not sure if that was a plot hole why he hated Andy so much or if I missed it during a bathroom break.

I have to say that it’s a five-star show, keeping audiences engaged. Acting is top-notch and frankly makes you wonder how you, as a parent, could survive such an ordeal yourself. As far as the fourteen-year-old son, who is the focus of the story, the young Jaeden Martell does an excellent job of jerking your chain by not quite giving you a hint either way.

It makes me admit that this show is as good as it gets with drama and mystery, nearly giving my beloved Brits a run for their money. It’s high octane acting by all, well played, throughout, and filled with a few twists and turns. You’ll just have to make your own decision in the end – did he or didn’t he do it?

Also, after reading the ending of the book versus the movie, I probably would have gone for the book ending instead. Nevertheless, you know those writers, directors, and producers in Hollywood have to give things their own twist.

Line of Duty (BBC 2012-Present TV Series

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BBC films. Acorn TV posts. I binge.

It’s as simple as that scenario to keep me glued to my recliner. My latest binge, when I should be writing and editing my books, Line of Duty – now streaming on Acorn TV.

The show is from a different slant about DS Steve Arnott (a short man who has a lot to prove), who is transferred to the police anti-corruption unit after a dastardly stint in another. Series one focuses on the officer of the year, who tells enough lies to wrap himself up in a sticky spider’s web with no way out.  

It’s well done, well acted, just the right amount of suspense, not too boring that you fast forward, and keeps you guessing and entertained until a surprising and inconclusive ending.  I’m afraid to start season two because I will probably waste the entire day getting nothing done.

As usual, British television does it again. The show apparently started in 2012 and is now in season five in 2017.  I suppose that tells you it is good enough not to cancel.

Check it out if you’re a crime-crazy nut that would rather watch the corruption from inside the force, rather than the force fighting the corruption outside.

UPDATE:  As a side note, I’ve watched Season 2 and Season 3, and they continue to be extremely engagement, to say the least.  Great show!  Keeps you guessing.

Shetland (BBC Scotland TV Series 2013-Present)

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You’ve heard of Shetland ponies and sheep dogs– now comes a Shetland BBC Scotland TV series.

Once again, the BBC takes me on a trip to places I’ll never visit but find hauntingly beautiful under cold gray skies in the way-up-northern hemisphere. Oh, how I wish I could live there where the madness of the world slips away to a sleepy village with a few murders sprinkled here and there among the back-road and coastal communities.

Shetland is currently streaming on Netflix and is another fine BBC who-done-it drama.  Once you get used to those heavy Scottish accents, the first two episodes will pull you into another world.  Of course, I run off and must Google everything, to see it on the map and read about the history, but I won’t bore you here on an entertainment review blog.  To my disappointment, the series is filmed in mainland Scotland that is somewhat like the Shetland Islands, and only a few scenes have included Lerick. Be prepared to watch the ferry cross the waters back and forth between island locations.

Nevertheless, the first two episodes is an intriguing story of a murdered elderly lady, who had a love affair in her youth with the Norwegian leader of the Shetland Bus. You’ll have to tune in to figure out what that period of World War II was all about.

In addition to that tidbit, the first two episodes also give you the experience of watching the Up Helly Aa fire festival of marching men in Roman outfits and a Viking long ship being burned by torches.  It’s worth watching just to see the last few scenes of torches being tossed on the ship and flames flying everywhere.

Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez (tune into the third episode to find out why he has a Spanish surname), played by Douglas Henshall, is the inspector traveling back and forth on a ferry with his rugged SUV to travel the highways in the middle of nowhere.  Much like series Vera or Hinterland, he traipses about the barren landscape, solving murders among the community.  Apparently, the series is based on novels by Ann Cleeves (not to be confused with Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII – just thought I’d throw that out there).  Douglas Henshall apparently won the best actor BAFTA award for 2016.

The series started in 2013 and is scheduled for more episodes to be released in 2017.  If you’re looking for another British mystery crime show, I highly recommend Shetland to add to your binge list.  I haven’t seen any Shetland ponies or dogs yet, but here’s hoping.

Hit drama Hinterland to return for a third series – Cambrian News

THE HIT Abersytwyth-based crime drama series Y Gwyll/Hinterland will return for a third series, it has been confirmed.

Source: Hit drama Hinterland to return for a third series – Cambrian News

Well, now, I can only say they better return for a third season.  I just finished binge watching Season 2 on Netflix.  What a freaking last episode!  I swear that I suffer post traumatic television stress disorder every time a show from across the pond keeps me hanging.  I actually watched the credits roll by and yelled, “What the hell?”  I’m feeling frustrated.  😦

Hinterland Season 2 (New Episodes on Netflix)

hinterland2NEW EPISODES now on Netflix, more heartrending British television this time from Wales. The first episode has started off with a depressing cliff, once again meddling with the emotions of the audience.  No happy endings here — only tears, regret, and shocking revelations while the morose DCI Tom Mathias solves crimes with his overlooked female coworker who can’t seem to get ahead.

Read my review of Season 1 HERE and get caught up on the barren landscape of Wales.  If you like drama, this is another show to binge watch.  However, you may need something more lighthearted to watch afterward or go have a beer.