Direct Beam Comms #40
Atlanta – Grade: B
I’m not quite sure what to make of the new FX series Atlanta, co-written and starring Donald Glover of Community and The Martian. On the one hand, the series is beautifully shot and focuses on something I don’t know any series has focused on before. But I’m just not sure that the story’s there, yet.
In the first two episodes that aired back-to-back last week, we meet Earn Marks (Glover), a 20-something man who’s got a kid but no job and no prospects of one. He’s so down on his luck his parents won’t even let him in the house anymore because he’s always borrowing money. But when Earn learns that his estranged cousin Alfred “Paperboy” (Brian Tyree Henry) is an up and coming rapper with talent, Earn decides that managing Paperboy’s career might just be the thing to break him out of his rut.
Which when the characters were interacting was quite interesting. I think where Atlanta faltered was after the first episode the characters are split up after a shooting where Earn spends the episode in jail waiting to be processed which introduces a bunch of new characters to the story. But I was left wondering, am I supposed to be paying attention to these new characters, or should the focus be on Earn, Paperboy and friend Darius (Keith Stanfield)? It seems to me that if they wanted to separate the group like that, it would’ve probably been better to do a little later in the season. But in doing it in the second episode made me wonder just who was who and what was going on?
I can see Atlanta being one of those series that I like enough to watch a whole season of, but not one that ever totally catches on with me.
Narcos– Season 2, episode 1: Grade: B-
The second season of the Netflix series Narcos became available last week. For whatever reason I got about three quarters of the way through the first season and stopped. I think I just had too many other series to watch at the same time so I “paused” watching Narcos but for whatever reason I’ve so far never gone back even though I’ve tried several times.
Narcos details with the rise of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) who becomes a multimillionaire (billion?) by shipping cocaine from Columbia to the US and the rest of the world while also murdering anyone who gets in his way. Trying to bring Escobar down are the Columbian government and US DEA agents exemplified by Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal). Whatever moves Pablo makes they try to check, but when Pablo’s organization is much better funded than either the DEA or Columbian government it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to even contain him let alone bring him to true justice.
Narcos isn’t a bad show, it’s just an extremely all right one. Like if they’d take the sex and nudity out of it I could see Narcos as playing as a summer series on NBC or ABC. Maybe with dubbed dialog rather than subtitles for the Spanish parts, but it wouldn’t take too much work to make Narcos work on network TV. And that’s nothing against summer network series that can be very entertaining at times. It’s just that in a world where there’s loads of TV choices many of which are golden and brilliant it’s a shame that Narcos isn’t much better than it is.
Silicon Cowboys trailer
The Reading & Watch List
- ‘Blair Witch’: Shaky Cams That Left Audiences Shaking
- Philae Found!
- Tinker, tailor, writer, spy: the many lives of John le Carré, in his own words
- Hollywood’s Summer of Extremes: Megahits, Superflops and Little Else
This week in pop-culture history
- 1936: Walter Koenig, Pavel Checkov of Star Trek the original series is born
- 1958: The Blob premiers in theaters
- 1963: The TV series The Outer Limits premiers
- 1965: The TV series The Wild Wild West debuts
- 1965: The TV series Lost in Space premiers
- 1974: The TV series Planet of the Apes premiers
- 1993: The TV series SeaQuest DSV premiers