The Courier: Nail-biting Cold War drama

The Courier is based on a true story about the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s that almost ended in nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union. Even though I lived through that time and was glued to the news about it, this is a part of the story I never knew. The film is on Prime Video.

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I’m Your Woman Turns Rachel Brosnahan into a Bad Mama

I’m Your Woman, streaming on Prime Video, stars Rachel Brosnahan as the wife of a criminal. She goes on the run when every bad guy in Pittsburgh suddenly and insistently wants to know where he is.

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Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, season 3

In season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is on tour as the opening act for famous singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain). She’s traveling with her manager Susie (Alex Borstein). Things are going great! Beware, there are some season 3 spoilers ahead.

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Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, season 2

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, season 2, didn’t have as much stand up as I hoped it would. I was a bit disappointed in that. It focused more on Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) and the characters around her as people than it did on Midge’s career as a comic. There are some slight spoilers ahead.

Season 2 was more about the people and the life style of 1950s New Yorkers from the Upper East Side. It took me a minute to accept that the story was taking that turn.

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Watch This: A New Trailer for season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Season 1 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel took home a little red wagon full of Emmy Awards and has already been promised a 3rd season by Amazon, even though we haven’t seen season 2 of this comedy yet. Continue Reading: Watch This: A New Trailer for season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Watch This: Trailer for Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime video returns for season 2 with Midge finding work as a comedian in the Catskills. She had trouble finding the self-discipline to actually develop and stick to an act in season 1. We’ll see if she’s learning her craft in season 2. Continue Reading: Watch This: Trailer for Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, season 1

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is an Amazon Video exclusive. The first season of this comedy set in 1950s Manhattan is now streaming. It’s the story of the birth of a comedian. There are some season 1 spoilers ahead.Continue Reading: Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, season 1

Watch This: Trailer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

I watched the pilot for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel last spring. It was hilarious. I thought it was a sure winner. It’s now set for 2 seasons on Amazon Prime. The first season will debut November 29. I’m looking forward to it. Continue Reading: Watch This: Trailer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Dovekeepers

Tonight and tomorrow night, the four-hour mini series The Dovekeepers airs on CBS.

At once epic and intimate, The Dovekeepers is based on the novel by Alice Hoffman about the seige of Masada. Masada was a Jewish stronghold atop a mountain in the Judean desert. The key part of the story involves women whose roles were to care for the doves in a large dove cote.

With food and water available, the Jews at Masada managed to hang on for a very long time, but eventually were overwhelmed. Masada was set upon by Roman armies in 70 C.E. Almost everyone died. The dovekeepers were among the few survivors.

The novel, which told this famous historical tale from the point of view of women, was published in 2011. I read the book and found it excellent, so I have high hopes for this mini series.

Here are previews and interviews about the mini series.

The starring roles are played by Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan, and Kathryn Prescott as the dovekeepers.

Roma Downey is the executive producer of the mini series.

Images © 2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Review: The Blacklist

In the last week or so I watched season 1 of The Blacklist. I got hooked on it and just kept watching. After episode 1, I wasn’t sure I was committed, so I tried episode 2. Before long I decided to watch the whole season.

James Spader in The Blacklist
James Spader in The Blacklist

James Spader stars as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a criminal mastermind who inexplicably turns himself in to the FBI, but only on the condition that he works exclusively with FBI agent Lizzie Keen (Megan Boone). Spader’s performance is outstanding. He has Red Reddington down from the first seconds of episode 1 and plays him with sophisticated grace and depth.

Red’s thing, his deal, is that he has this list of bad guys that he will help the FBI get. He gets immunity for his information, but he only offers information about bad guys that he himself has a reason to want to catch or put out of commission. He calls the shots for a team of federal agents and they run around catching bad guys based on what he tells them. There’s the question of the connection between Red and Lizzie running through every episode.

The Blacklist is an odd combination of the completely obvious plot and the completely surprising and unexpected plot. The characters are never quite what they seem, people’s motives are always questionable, and the action is tense.

Megan Boone in The Blacklist
Megan Boone in The Blacklist

It took me a long time to get attached to the female lead. There are two reasons why this might be. Either Megan Boone plays her character as a stoic personality in control of her own display of emotions, or, Megan Boone is not a particularly nuanced actor. The expression on her face remains the same whether she’s shooting at a bad guy, talking to Red, making love to her husband, or crying over her dying father.

Even though James Spader is the big name, the star, his character is shadowy and mysterious. It’s really Lizzie’s story, her life both inside and outside her work, her marriage, and her early childhood memories. Megan Boone’s lack of affect in this part both put me off and – in later episodes of the season – made me appreciate the internal workings of her investigative mind.

Parminder Nagra is another FBI agent. She is a favorite of mine and I was glad she was in the cast. Gave me a female character that I liked instantly. Her part wasn’t big enough.

Other agents on the team with Lizzie Keen were Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), and Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix). I can never see Harry Lennix without thinking of Dollhouse. His part in this series is very similar to his part in Dollhouse, which contributed to my frequent recollections of the older show.

Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold in The Blacklist
Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold in The Blacklist

Lizzie Keen’s husband is played by Ryan Eggold. A good part of the personal drama for Lizzie involves Red warning her about her husband but her steadfastly believing in her man. Mostly. Maybe he’s a loving husband and fourth grade teacher. Or maybe not.

Interesting recurring characters included Alan Alda as a Senator, Jane Alexander as an FBI higher up, and Rachel Brosnahan as the mysterious Jolene who tries to seduce Lizzie’s husband.

One of the things I like about the show are the sets or locations. I’m not sure how real everything was but there were locations seemingly all over the world. The sets used for the task force and for where the criminals were caught were excellent. I liked the places where Red hung out, I liked Lizzie’s apartment. Outdoor scenes were plentiful and set in interesting places. The action scenes were very well done, too. There were all the requisite gun battles, car crashes, plane crashes, fist fights, knife fights – everything you could want in the way of excitement and action.

Season 2 of The Blacklist begins next week. I’m sure I’ll be watching to see what intricate plots involving criminals get brought into the story, and if Lizzie ever figures out the obvious in relation to who Red is.

Photos by NBC – © 2014 NBC Universal Media