Tom Hiddleston plays Jonathan Pine, the night manager in a hotel in Cairo who starts a relationship with a woman with some connections to a deep underworld and turns up dead. Some time later, living the life of a loner high in the alps (but still a night manager) he meets Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), one of those dodgy connections. He ends up contacting British Secret Service (though possibly called something different) and working for Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) to try to bring Roper down.
This is one complex story. There are six episodes, it goes around the world, there are heaps of different characters and sometimes it is hard to tell who is good and who is bad. I found that I got distracted at times and found I had to go back and figure out what I missed. None of that is criticism – or, rather, it is criticism of me and my watching habits as opposed to being criticism of the show. It’s brilliant and clever – my only criticism is that I felt no chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and the woman at the start, and given that it is that passion that is supposed to drive the whole plot, I feel like I missed something.
The Night Manager won Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Tom Hiddleston), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Hugh Laurie) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Olivia Colman) and was nominated for Best Television Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.
What would happen if an American was made Pope? What if it was a young American, say in his late fortes or early fifties? What if he was really handsome? And what if, after being made Pope, the Vatican Council (or whoever it is that makes these decisions) suddenly realises that he is dangerous, not only to the Church but to their whole way of life?
Jude Law plays the Pope, and he has this wonderful mix between being a cheesy American evangelist and a hard-line Catholic. He is at times vulnerable and also completely in control. And episode to episode, I had no idea what was going to happen next. It’s fab. Oh, and the title sequence? Brilliant.
Writer Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) and his wife Lisa (Cobie Smulders), a lawyer, are moving to New York where they are going to be reunited with their college friends. There’s Nick (Nat Fazon)living a party life on his trust fund, Marianne (Jae Suh Park), an actress, Max (Fred Savage) who’s in publishing and Sam (Annie Parisse) who is an interior designer and a mother. They have over twenty years of secrets and stories that they need to negotiate to keep their lives separate and together.
I loved this show. I thought that it was extremely funny but also very plausible and annoying and I both loved and hated the characters and I was kind of disappointed when the eight-episode run was over. I think it was extremely well written, and the only thing I found slightly confusing was that I wasn’t sure quite how time was passing. But it didn’t matter – it just all worked for me.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (audiobook read by Caroline Lee)
Set in the fiction Sydney beachside suburb of Pirriwee , Big Little Lies investigates a death that happens during a school trivia night at the local primary school. However, it’s revealed in gradual dribs and drabs, first introducing the colourful cast and then eventually reveal who dies, how and why. It’s fabulous. The audiobook reading by Caroline Lee is wonderful – she brings the characters to life in a fabulous way, each separate and perfect. I found the book a very funny read, even though when I mentioned the humour to friends who had watched the show, they said that it definitely wasn’t a comedy. And it’s not, but it is very funny!
When I heard that the show was set in the US, I was surprised because, to me, it feels like a really Australian story. But with all that juiciness, it was going to translate well.
Big Little Lies (TV Review)
There were a lot of little things that I didn’t like being changed in this adaptation – like the fact that the book starts on Madeline’s 40th birthday. It’s not a big thing, but it’s important. Then there is the whole “Avenue Q” thing, which I didn’t see as being a great addition, and then the French au pair takes a backseat, and that for me, was a delightful addition to the tension in the book. I also didn’t like the changes to Jane – in the book, she is initially in denial about the events of the night when she conceived Ziggy, but the film has her with far more of a need for closure/revenge, and I liked her as someone still dealing with her trauma. One thing that translated beautifully was the Celeste/Perry situation – very, very hard to watch and a massive hats off to Nicole Kidman. I also really liked that there were some characters who, in the book, were quite flat that were really filled out in this. Did I love it? Yes, I loved the book, I loved the show, I’m quite concerned that they are going to squeeze another series out… will it work? I don’t know.
Luke Cage (Mike Coulter) is a muscular bloke who is living under an assumed name after coming out of prison for a wrongful conviction. And is is unkillable – bullets bounce off him, and he is incredibly strong. He’s just trying to get through life, dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, working crappy jobs and keeping his head down. Meanwhile, politician Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) is trying to build up Harlem for all of the African American residents – build it up whilst avoiding gentrification from white society. However, she’s being dogged by her cousin Cornell Stokes (Mahershala Ali), a wonderfully Shakespearean criminal overlord who has used her misappropriated money for nefarious purposes and is going to bring them all down.
There is a lot to like about this show. It’s cast is fabulous, the world they have created is stunning and I just love Luke. And the recurring character of Clare Temple (Rosario Dawson) is just getting better and better. But I think my favourite part of the show is that Cornell Stoke runs his empire from a club that has fabulous live acts – it was wonderful to see Charles Bradley, and then my heart almost broke when the late and wonderful Sharon Jones appeared. Too good.
Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a private detective who lives in the shadows, drinks very heavily and avoids relationships. At first, you think she’s just a bit of a weird loner – but as the series goes, it’s revealed that she was in a “relationship” with a guy called Kilgrave (David Tennant), a nasty man who can control people with his mind, and treated Jessica very poorly. Oh, and Jessica has superhero powers that she wants to keep to herself. When there’s her best mate, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) who is a radio host who is also quite kick ass in her own way, and we meet Luke Cage (Mike Colter) but more about him in his own review.
It took me a couple of episodes to get into this one – I started really disliking Jessica, but gradually I came to love her a lot. And I really liked the characters around her – and how wonderful to see Carrie-Anne Moss back as a cold, self-serving lawyer. Wonderful.
As a child, Matt Murdock was blinded by chemicals as he saved a man in a car accident. Then he was trained by a mysterious old blind man who taught him superhuman gifts to make up for his lack of sight and turned him into an amazing fighter and superhero.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the superhero genre – but now it is getting ridiculous. There is just so much Marvel going on, I don’t know what I want to watch. Like Daredevil. See, I started with Jessica Jones and then moved to Luke Cage and reluctantly returned to Daredevil because I see that in the future, this ties in with the other two. But I didn’t really like it. And this despite the wonderful Vincent D’Onofrio as bad guy (and extremely tragic character in so many ways) Wilson Fisk and Deborah Ann Woll who was wonderful in True Blood but is in this playing a tedious character who, I suspect, will get better in future seasons, but do I have to wait until then? I didn’t like it because I find it hard to engage with Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil. He just has an annoying arrogance mixed with far too much brooding – and maybe all the Marvel fans out there are screaming that this is exactly what his character is supposed to be, but it just didn’t work for me. I can only hope that I grow to like him when The Defenders starts.