music friday: 2016
cure (kiyoshi kurosawa, 1997)

tv 2016: the night manager through outlander

The Night Manager. Classy mini-series based on a le Carré novel, with a cast headed by Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, along with other stalwarts of modern television like Olivia Colman, David Harewood, and the ever-present Tobias Menzies. (I first saw him as Brutus in the great Rome, but he has really kicked it into another gear the last few years. Besides The Night Manager, he was in an episode of Black Mirror, was in Game of Thrones, The Honorable Woman, a regular (in two roles) in Outlander, and the English comedy Catastrophe. All in the last three years.) It won a couple of Emmys, and probably would play well if binged. We watched an episode a week, and liked it, but I wouldn’t go any further.

The Night Of. “The first of eight episodes is as good as TV gets, and if the rest of the series can’t live up to that introduction, it’s still plenty good. Zaillian and Price work hard to elevate The Night Of above the usual crime drama, then turn it into something far more ordinary at the end. It’s a shame, because much of that last episode is equal to what came before. The result is a series where the first episode was an A+, the next six episodes were A/A-, but the last episode fluctuated between A and C.”

Orange Is the New Black. Now we’re four seasons in, and still going strong. The cast is enormous, which creates problems when trying to tell everyone’s story, but for the most part, Jenji Kohan pulls it off, adding new characters, changing things around to keep it fresh. The characters have evolved over the years ... no one is stagnant. And great acting abounds. Special shout out to Samira Wiley.

Orphan Black. Fans of the show might differ with me, but as a series, Orphan Black has about run its course. But it could run for another ten seasons and I’d be watching, just to see what Tatiana Maslany will manage next. It’s a decent show, but Maslany is far and away the best part. This year, she finally won her Emmy.

Outlander. A fascinating show, gorgeous to look at, intriguing in its narrative (a romance with sci-fi thrown in), and remarkable in its female-centric view of sexuality. (Maureen Ryan wrote strongly about this in Season One.) Showrunner Ronald D. Moore once again demonstrates a facility with genre fiction, taking us far beyond our preconceived notions, much he did with Battlestar Galactica. Drawing on a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, Moore is true to the books while creating something special on its own. And Caitriona Balfe is exquisite.

Night Manager trailer:

The Night Of trailer:

Orange Is the New Black Season 4 trailer:

Orphan Black Season 4 trailer:

Outlander Season 2 trailer: