1899 – Review by Susan Granger

When a trusted friend recommended the supernatural Netflix sci-fi series 1899, he urged me to see it quick – because – despite audience enthusiasm and positive reviews – it’s been cancelled. So I did – joining legions of bewildered viewers, wondering why there won’t be a second season for this spooky, genre-juggling maritime mystery? Was it a tax-write off? Forbes concluded: “Netflix is becoming a graveyard stacked with dead series and unfinished conclusions.”

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THE YELLOWSTONE TRILOGY – Review by Susan Granger

With Yellowstone currently wrangling its fifth successful season, its creators – Taylor Sheridan and John Linson – have lured audiences once again into the interconnected Big Sky mythology of the American West, as epitomized by the dysfunctional Dutton dynasty. The Dutton family has owned the Yellowstone since 1883. That prequel series detailed their westward journey from Texas in a wagon train, showing how John Dutton’s great-grandfather, Civil War veteran James and his wife Margaret founded the Dutton ranch on a spot of land chosen by their daughter Elsa for her gravesite.

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THE WHITE LOTUS: Season 2 – Review by Susan Granger

For its Emmy-winning initial season The White Lotus was set at a luxurious Hawaiian resort. Now, The White Lotus: Season 2 moves to a deluxe Sicilian hotel, perched on the cliffs of Taormina overlooking the Ionian Sea. “It’s a different vibe,” clarifies series creator/writer/director Mike White. The first was focused on the guests vs. the employees – who has the money, who has the power – set against a colonialism backdrop. While still revolving around decadent, rich discontents, the second season is more about sexual politics with elements of a bedroom farce as people sneak in and out of hotel rooms.

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RESERVATION DOGS – Review by Diane Carson

Teenage driven narratives stretch back to earliest films and television dramas. But, to its immense credit, the two season series Reservation Dogs breaks new, extraordinary ground. Set on an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and there are many in Oklahoma, we’ll learn four young men and women face what they consider bleak futures on the rez and envision better lives elsewhere. Typical, eh? But several unique elements elevate and recommend Reservation Dogs above what certainly could be formulaic struggles.

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HOLD TIGHT – Review by Diane Carson

Set in a Warsaw suburb, the Netflix series Hold Tight just might be encouraging the viewers with that title because it periodically becomes confusing. The through line, however, remains clear. Teenage Adam has disappeared after his best friend Igor died under mysterious circumstances. Adam’s mother Anna drives the narrative with her single-minded determination to find him.

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TOKYO VICE – Review by Diane Carson

Tokyo Vice follows a journalist probing Japan’s yakuza. A bonus of watching a series based on real events set in a foreign country is the immersion in that culture, the opportunity to learn customs while being entertained. This holds true for the HBO series Tokyo Vice based on American Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir of his journalistic days on the crime beat at the fictional, daily Meicho Shimbun newspaper.

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NOT SO PRETTY – Review by Martha K Baker

Award winning documentarians Dick Kirby and Amy Ziering instill trust in this educational series Remember that feeling of horror and betrayal while witnessing chief executive officers of major tobacco corporations declare, man for man, that cigarettes are not harmful? Similar scenes are played over and over in Not So Pretty, a series of four half-hour investigative documentaries that tear apart the beauty industry. Not So Pretty moves swiftly and carries a bruising punch.

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MINX – Review by Martha K Baker

Minx, a 1970s magazine, presents gents in the buff in the centerfold. To select the right bulked firefighter or buff athlete, menfolk have to audition. There’s nothing coy about these auditions, and that’s one of the most honest aspects of the 10 episodes. Minx jostles down memory lane, complete with polyester clothes, typewriters, and the rhetoric of the Seventies. However, one grating anachronism is generic use of “guy,” rarely heard in 1971. The music, including, of course, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” signifies throughout, and allusions to Gloria Steinem fit neatly. Minx works on so many levels.

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THE OUTLAWS – Review by Martha K Baker

Trust Stephen Merchant — all 6 feet and 7 inches of him — and his humor and insight. Known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais on The Office and Extras and as an actor on those television rockumentaries and in movies, such as Jojo Rabbit, Merchant brings both talents to a brilliant, six-part British dramedy, The Outlaws.

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SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE – Review by Martha K Baker

Admirers of Bridget Everett’s bawdy, bosomy, song-belting stage show may fear that her work in this streaming series will be corseted. In many ways, it is — up until the last of the eight episodes. Throughout, however, Everett portrays 40-ish Samantha, a character a little like herself. Sam goes home to Manhattan, Kansas, from Manhattan, New York, from the Big to the Little Apple. The death of her sister brought Samantha home. Sam is surrounded by her farmer father, her alcoholic mother, her randy brother-in-law, and her perfect sister Tricia, who shares her sister’s sass. The series covers Sam’s new life in Manhattan as daughter, sister, store clerk, and friend. And singer. Thankfully, she remains vulgar and sarcastic as she slides into her new, old community.

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