Banished has a fantastic premise that feels wasted with this show. It has the chance to explore something we have never seen before. But instead, it makes vague allusions and oblique references to things like interactions with “the natives” and only one character succumbing to snake bite. But if you were the first “colonists” – prisoners and the military men from England – sent to Australia, this should somehow feel wider – told as a much bigger story and through a broader lens, yet with a lot more detail. But it feels like everything about the story and the scenery is too contained, too limited. It never fully conveys how far away they are from everything. They talk a lot about these long prison sentences and the opportunity to go home someday – and even if they all know they will never really get there, or that they will starve before their sentences are up, you never quite sense that urgency or the true sense of eternal banishment that the round-the-world incarceration of geography has imposed.
On a lighter note, the British dude from one of my least favorite shows (another one with a good premise and the opportunity to tell a much-needed story), Looking, gets to beg in the same way in both shows. In Looking he was constantly telling his illicit lover, Patrick, that he will leave his boyfriend someday. But just not yet. Be patient. Eventually he leaves the boyfriend and gets together officially with Patrick, but in the last episode, sets Patrick off by pleading with him to consider an open relationship.
In Banished, he begs for his food back when a bully steals his food every day. Then begs the authorities to take action when he tattles on said bully for stealing his food. When nothing happens because the bully is the only smith among the prisoners, he eventually kills the bully. And then begs for his life and whines and cries in an understandable but not particularly appealing way.
We also get to see Ewen Bremner – best known as Trainspotting‘s Spud – as the colony’s minister/pastor. Funny how nearly the whole gang from Trainspotting are television staples today.
Hopefully, if this series has a second season ahead of it, these kinds of problems can be addressed. I don’t really think a premise with this kind of rich historical import deserves to be a second-rate soap opera.
Overwrought, overbaked, pretentious eight-part program based on an Australian book and then Australian series of the same name – The Slap. Americans always make a mess of things they try to redo. A story that details the aftermath of an unfortunate and heated afternoon in which an adult slaps an unruly child across the face, and what that does to everyone who attended the event where the slap occurred.
I do admit though that the final of the eight parts was somewhat moving (as well as the hour that focused on Uma Thurman’s middle-aged character facing a surprise pregnancy, which was quite difficult for me even though it was as wrapped up in stupidity as the rest of this series). This was quite a waste of time. Many friends have mentioned trying to watch this, but found it hideous for a number of reasons. First, totally disconnected narration that sounded like it was a part of another show; second, characters who are ostensibly married, related or best friends who seem like they don’t know each other at all – absolutely no chemistry. Finally, it was just overdone and pretentious in every way. It came together in the end. A seemingly minor character, Richie, weaves everything together in the end – and he turns out to be the only sympathetic character in the entire show.
The Goldbergs was a bit over the top for me in the beginning, but as I continued to watch, the 1980s nostalgia eventually won me over. Many, many moments choke me up with tears. The show manages to evoke nostalgia, emotion without being overly saccharine. And I suppose people who did not grow up in that era might not feel as strongly about it. But they can find other points to connect with emotionally (the importance of family, the connection the crazy mother has with the kids, the sense of not wanting your kids to grow up, the feeling that everyone is awkward in youth but eventually, with the right guidance, they find their voice and path). It is interesting to watch the Goldberg kids grow up.
A recent episode made me laugh out loud. The dad wonders why someone would destroy a perfectly good Fiero to make a robot when the youngest, Adam, enthuses about the greatness of The Transformers (toys and cartoon). Adam pits the “stupidity” of a game “where grown men hit a ball with a stick” against his future run by robots. Argument ensues about baseball versus robots – America’s pastime (past) and its robotic future.
“Robots aren’t even real.”
“Oh you’ll see how real they are when cyborgs take over and outlaw your precious baseball.”