AMERICAN GODS

Available for Streaming on Starz

Hour Long Series

Fantasy/ Mystery

 

Book by Neil Gaiman

Creators: Bryan Fuller and Michael Green

Ricky Whittle

Emily Browning

Bruce Langley

Yetide Badaki

Pablo Schriber

Ian McShane

Crispin Glover

Gillian Anderson

Kristin Chenoweth

Orlando Jones

Betty Gilpin

Cloris Leachman

Peter Stormare

Siobhan Fallon Hogan

Corbin Berson

 

The story in this much-talked-about new series starts with some familiarity. “Shadow Moon,” an intense and seemingly kind, well-built young man, is just being released from prison where he has been serving out time for assault charges. Here’s the first wrinkle in the story – he is being released early because of a catastrophic event involving a loved one that affects his life profoundly. Over the next few minutes he learns more details about this event, details that ratchet up the tragedy in his existence. Now he’s got nothing to lose – he’s ready for whatever life throws his way. This is the thread that connects to our everyday world directly.

From there many scenes unfold that can seem disjointed or out of place if you have not read the book of the same name, on which the series is based. The characters that Shadow meets are the classic Gods that humanity has created, through many cultures over millenniums of mythology. Each of these Gods has taken on a patchwork cloak so to speak, of the vestiges of today’s society. Although I have not read the book, after learning what these characters represent I would like to see more of the series. These Gods, played by some of my favorite actors, are a colorful collection of outrageously flamboyant characters.

American Gods is definitely worth a look. Neil Gaiman’s book was first published in 2001. He notes that at the time he wrote the book, we knew that we were all immigrants. Now he believes the world has “gone mad” in many communities / that the human landscape has definitely shifted since 2001. The show does present questions, about the big picture of what is happening on our planet today.

 

THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Released April 25 for streaming on Hulu

Hour Long Series

Drama/ Sci-Fi

 

Book by Margaret Atwood, Published 1985

Creator: Bruce Miller

Executive Producer: Warren Littlefield

Director: Reed Morano

 

Elizabeth Moss

Joseph Fiennes

Yvonne Srahovski

Alexis Bledel

O-T Fagbenie

Max Minghella

Samira Wiley

 

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a frighteningly plausible world. It resembles an actual sinister environment, the Salem Witch Trials, the backdrop for Arthur Miller’s classic play The Crucible. The location is a serene-looking American town called Gilead. Architecturally it all seems classic and upscale. However we soon realize that government and society have been taken over by a male-dominated totalitarianism. Females are bullied into submission. Not surprisingly, religion is front and center in the ethics structure of this society. Young and fertile women have been recruited as “handmaids,” the term for breeding surrogates for wealthy families whose wives have been rendered infertile by pollution. Every move and word of the handmaids is watched over. These women are forced to travel in pairs, and to speak in religious phrases, supposedly for their own protection. However the real reason is for each to police the other.

“Offred” played by Elizabeth Moss (Madmen), has been recruited as a handmaid. She has bigger ideas than meet the surface. She is fiercely determined to survive long enough to once again be reunited with her young daughter who was taken from her upon her capture. The impact of watching this show is dramatic. You quickly become invested in the characters and there are strong comparisons to events taking place in our society today.

The premier episode of the series had more Hulu viewers than any other series debut. It has already been picked up for Season 2 early renewal. The Handmaid’s Tale is a must-watch.

 

 

PATRIOT

Hour Long Series

Comedy/ Drama/ Thriller

Available for Streaming on Amazon Prime

(Just renewed for Season Two)

 

Creator/ Writer/ Producer: Steve Conrad

Michael Dorman

Michael Chernus

Terry O’Quinn

Kurtwood Smith

Aliette Ophelm

Gil Bellows

 

Patriot is on the surface a spy story. However that’s where the similarity ends to any series that has come before. This is one of the most unusual, creative shows in the collection of groundbreaking ideas now available on the “small screen.” At first glance the hero, “John Tavner,” seems like a kind of everyman – an unassuming, quiet guy…until he’s not. You begin to realize that you are dealing with an unknown quantity with this protagonist. He is very much a hero for those of us who don’t fit into the square box of society. He rides a bike around the city. He’s a singer-songwriter-guitar player. He notices birds in the sky (yes, something many people ignore). He is introspective, only sporadically coming out of his shell, usually to do something totally unexpected and off-the-wall. He happens to be a CIA operative, and here’s the problem: he has a habit including details of his covert interactions in the lyrics of his folk songs and singing them to an unsuspecting public.

Michael Dorman is John Tavner. For this role, show creator Steve Conrad was thrilled to find in Dorman, a skilled, talented actor who really plays guitar, sings and writes music. All of the characters in the show are imaginative and intriguing. They are all involved with Tavner in some way, and Tavner is involved in top-secret espionage in an effort to prevent nuclear war.

Since the whole paradigm of our world as we know it seems to be in flux, watching this show with its unexpected twists and turns and its humorous commentary on people in power, seems almost comforting. My opinion: watch Patriot!

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

 

 

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