Amazon Prime Review Round Up: January/February!

Amazon Prime Review Round Up: January/February: T.V.

Hello! Ok I’ve fallen well and truly behind on these, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet as possible! I have written better set ups of some of the shows in previous reviews for anyone interested.

Transparent (season 2): I have written an epic post in itself (which I guess I will put up if anyone is interested, whatever ;-0) about the second season of this dramedy about a California family coming to terms with their dad’s decision to transition into a woman in later life. I was a fan of season one even though the Pfefferman offspring do grate at times with their immaturity and selfishness. Season two is no different; in fact, everyone is behaving so badly, often in painful/unfunny ways, that honestly I was ready to throw in the towel on this show altogether midway through.

But by god if they didn’t come out with two of possibly the best episodes of television, ever, towards the end. The flashbacks to Moira’s mother and her family in Nazi Berlin are haunting in the extreme, and the womyn only festival that anyone who survived Lilith Fair in the 90’s will be singing along to joyfully, were perfect episodes, basically this show drives me nuts with the love/hate pendulum!

Ray Donovan (season 2): I really enjoyed this season; it expanded most of the characters interior lives nicely in among the seedy L.A. crime capers and cover ups. Jon Voight continues to delight as Ray’s career criminal dad, plotting one last big heist that is so comically doomed to fail. Ray (Liev Schreiber) is opened up a bit more, albeit in a very repressed hard man type way. Some of the story arcs felt outlandish/unnecessary - while I loved seeing Eion Bailey (of OUAT and Band of Brothers) in a scenery chewing role as a psychotic self hep guru, I’m not convinced it added much to the story other than revisiting yet another of Ray’s mistresses. I can only handle so many Ray mistresses per season before I turn on the guy!

Also they have made a bit of a mess of his wife Abby's storyline, I presume trying to make Ray more sympathetic, but I really liked her in season one, now, she’s being portrayed as completely superficial and out of control – some of her behaviour is understandable as let's be honest, her marriage is a mess, but it felt over the top to me. 

The episode that Schreiber directed “Walk This Way”, is probably my favourite episode of the show so far, it focuses on a family birthday party for their teenage son which goes catastrophically wrong, reaches Sopranos levels of family anger management issues(!), and then manages a magnificently touching and funny closing scene.

Mozart in the Jungle (season 2): It won the Golden Globe for best comedy and actor, to the surprise of most people (most people being people who have never seen it!). It continues to charm me, this story of a fictional New York symphony orchestra, and its quirky and eccentric maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal). I thought they spent a little too much time in Mexico; the caper with the stolen violin was a bit silly. When they create classical music magic, as they do once more in Central Park, it's pure joy. Rodrigo and Hailey’s will they /won’t they is true romance, the comedy lightweight and fizzy, and Bernadette Peters finally gets to sing! Delightful. I want to watch it all over again from the start.

Mad Dogs (season one, U.S. version): I never saw the British version so I can’t rightly compare, but it does have two cast members from that one (Ben Chaplin – le swoon!, and Phil Davis), albeit playing different characters than they did in the British version, which is kind of cool. It’s about a group of 40 something men who are old friends, the kind who stay in touch but maybe don’t really know what’s going on with each other, who go on a paid vacation at the invitation of their friend Miles (Billy Zane) a mysterious, charismatic guy who wants to show them his massive villa in Belize.

Tensions bubble up quickly, Miles’ criminal underbelly reveals itself, and the guys are left having to clean up a big old mess/try to get home somehow despite being neck deep in local trouble with the police, drug lords, etc. It’s funny and edgy ensemble work (Steve Zahn, Romany Malco, Ben Chaplin and Michael Imperioli are all great): a meditation on old friendships and how far they will stretch. It queries the lengths people will go to save their own skin, or choose to stick together in tough times. Sadly, I just read they won’t be doing any more due to “creative differences” with Amazon. Boo hiss sad face.

Flesh & Bone: I keep meaning to review this. I think I actually watched it back in December! Ballet psychodrama in the manner of Black Swan, with a little Flowers in the Attic thrown in for good measure. The dancing and everything to do with the ballet production and company drama is the best. Some of the back story of the main character Claire is a little over the top. Ok so frankly a lot of it is absurd and slightly ludicrous at times. But oh the dancing! Anyone with a hidden inner ballerina in them cannot help but love this aspect of the show. It’s one of the best ballet captures on film, ever. It’s very binge-able. Sadly, again, it’s not been renewed for a second series.

Maison Close (season one): A few years old, this French drama set in a, erm, house of ill repute in Paris, circa 1871. It is dark and gripping drama, albeit with a bit of clich├ęd storytelling, but it didn’t bother me too much, maybe because it’s French? The Madame of the house, Hortense, is a tough character who initially is not very likable, but as we learn more about her past she becomes more sympathetic. The young heroine is country orphan Rose, who through predictable misfortune ends up working there.

The first two episodes made me uncertain if I wanted to continue, because it is deeply unpleasant towards women. I mean, it’s probably quite realistic, especially for the times. But as it progresses, the women become more empowered, and each in their own way begins to fight back against a system that has held them down simply because of their sex and circumstance. I wasn’t going to bother reviewing this because it had been on Prime for over a year without the second series added, but I just noticed today they FINALLY added the second series so I’m excited to watch it. I do recommend it with the reservation/warning that it has upsetting scenes, but the acting in it is really good and subtle in that elusive French Je Ne Sais Quoi type way, um…yeah, hopefully you know what I mean! ;-)

I'm going to do a film round up in a separate post because this post is plenty long! How about you, have you seen any of these shows/what are you digging right now?


  1. I have this weird word blindness where I just cannot see double meanings and puns, and I literally only had the lightblub moment about the title Transparent the other day. Thomas laughed at me. Sorry, that's not actually relevant! We're re-watching old seasons of Community at the moment, plus this amazing Icelandic crime drama called trapped that's on BBC4 - much recommended.

    1. Oh I think the Transparent thing didn't hit me right away, either! I still have to see the last season of Community, they took it off Prime unfortunately. I will check out Trapped on the iPlayer thanks! :-)

  2. I've been interested in seeing Transparent, I loved him in arrested development, just haven't gotten around to it yet!

    1. He is my favourite part of the show, its mainly the kids that annoy me! I have a hard time talking about this show in less than a thousand words. There's so much right with it, despite my criticisms!