Title: Russian Doll Release Dates: 2022 Season: 2 Number of Episodes: 7 Summary/Review:
In the first season of Russian Doll Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett) must figure out why they keep dying and returning the same moment of their lives. The second season, set 4 years later, finds them traveling in time on New York City’s 6 train. Nadia ends up in 1982 in the body of her mother Lenora (Chloë Sevigny) when she was pregnant with Nadia. Alan ends up in his mother’s body in East Berlin in 1962 when she was an international graduate student from Ghana.
The show feels very different from the first season although maintaining the same level of humor and cleverness. The main theme of the show is dealing with generational trauma and Nadia coming to terms with her disappointment in her own mother while also anticipating the grief of losing her mother figure Ruthie (Elizabeth Ashley in the present day, and Annie Murphy in the past). I feel that Alan’s story gets short-shrift and the whole series concludes rather abruptly. But these are small quibbles regarding an entertaining and high-quality series.
Title: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You Release Date: January 21, 2016 Director: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady Production Company: Loki Films | Thirteen/WNET Summary/Review:
Several years ago I read Norman Lear’s autobiography Even This I Get To Experience, and this documentary is basically a companion piece to that book. There isn’t much to the film that wasn’t covered by the book, but with its subject being someone who worked in a visual medium it’s great to see what they are talking about. There are some issues that came up in writing the book, such as Lear’s relationship with his father, that he came to see in a different way. He also admits that one of his oft-repeated family stories was a lie.
Lear, of course, was the tv producer responsible for creating sitcoms like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Sanford and Son, Maude, and One Day at a Time. All of these shows attempted to show realistic families dealing with issues of the day in an honest (but funny) manner that had never before been done on television and rarely has been done since. The documentary focuses almost entirely on Lear’s tv career in the 1970s with a little bit about his activist work for People for the American Way tacked on the end. The movie has a bit of fluff including recurring scenes of a child actor wearing Lear’s trademark hat representing Lear’s “inner child” and coming off as mawkish. Otherwise it’s a straightforward and solid documentary but I think someone who was as revolutionary to the the tv medium as Lear deserve a more revolutionary documentary.
In September 2020, Rolling Stone magazine released their most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which includes a greater variety of artists and genres than previous lists. Looking through the list, there were many albums I’d never listened to before and a few I’d never even heard of. In fact, counting it up, I found that I’d only listened to 140 of the albums, although I’d heard songs from many more. So I’ve decided my project for 2021 is to listen to 10 albums each week and write up some thoughts about each one.
Artist: Joni Mitchell Album: Court and Spark Year: 1974 Label: Asylum Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No Favorite Tracks:
“Raised on Robbery”
Thoughts: I just realized that this is the fourth of five Joni Mitchell albums on the RS 500 list. And yet I have nothing to say about it. Mitchell’s music has a soporific effect on me. I kind of feel like I’m missing out on something that everyone else gets.
Artist: Lou Reed Album: Transformer Year: 1972 Label: RCA Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
“Walk on the Wild Side”
“Satellite of Love”
Thoughts: I’m kind of surprised that so many of the songs that Lou Reed is known for are all from the same album. But it makes it a great album. David Bowie and Mark Ronson participate for that extra glam touch.
Artist: Fiona Apple Album: When the Pawn… Year: 1999 Label: Epic Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
“To Your Love”
“Fast As You Can”
“The Way Things Are”
Thoughts: Another great album from Fiona Apple – the tiny person with a great big voice – that I was totally unaware of at the time.
Artist: Television Album: Marquee Moon Year: 1977 Label: Elektra Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts: Television, pioneers of New York City punk rock, have a glam sheen on their debut album. Television proved the grand extent of possibility within New York punk by being the antithesis of The Ramones.
Artist: Hole Album: Live Through This Year: 1994 Label: Geffen Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Favorite Tracks:
“She Walks On Me”
Thoughts: Hole is a band I was aware of but didn’t pay much attention to back in the 90s. I think part of that was due to the widespread belief that Courtney Love was profiting off the recent suicide of her husband Kurt Cobain, which in retrospect was really unfair to Love. It turns out that “Violet” is the only song I recognize – and I hadn’t even known it was a Hole song – whereas the song I thought I knew by Hole is apparently not on this album (and I can’t remember what it’s called!).
Artist: The Allman Brothers Album: At Fillmore East Year: 1971 Label: Capricorn Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: I’d probably find some other Blues/jam album first Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts: Since “Southern Rock” is not my thing, I wasn’t looking forward to this album. First, of all The Allman Brothers were clearly a talented live act. Second, most of the tracks are extended jams on Blues standards which makes it hard to go wrong. The album does include Allman Brothers’ originals like “Whipping Post,” which is a tired classic rock staple, but overall it’s not a bad album. I haven’t been keeping track, but there don’t seem to be too many live albums in the RS 500 list, which is a shame, because there are a lot of good ones out there.
Artist: Rolling Stones Album: Sticky Fingers Year: 1971 Label: Rolling Stones Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”
“You Gotta Move”
“I Got the Blues”
Thoughts: The opening track and #1 single is best enjoyed if you don’t listen to the lyrics too closely (which I think most people have done over time). But the rest of the album brings about much less conflicted enjoyment with some great Blues rock (“Sway,” “You Gotta Move”), Mick Jagger’s most soulful vocals (“I Got the Blues”), country rock (“Wild Horses,” “Dead Flowers”), Latin jazz fusion (“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”), and the most thrilling to song to listen to while walking a long a moonlit beach when you’re a 15-year-old camping with your family on Assateague Island and can’t fall asleep (“Moonlight Mile”).
Artist: De La Soul Album: 3 Feet High and Rising Year: 1989 Label: Tommy Boy Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
“The Magic Number”
“Jennifa Taught Me (Derwin’s Revenge)”
“Potholes in My Lawn”
“Say No Go”
“Me Myself and I”
Thoughts: I can never be certain what album I listened to most often to in my life but 3 Feet High and Rising is a strong contender. I’ve really exposed my lack of knowledge of 90s and 00s hip-hop as I’ve worked through this list, but I guess I never got over that De La Soul had less of a lasting influence than gangsta rap.
Artist: The Clash Album: The Clash Year: 1977 Label: CBS Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
“I’m So Bored With the U.S.A”
“Police & Thieves”
Thoughts: The Only Band That Matters roars into existence with their debut album. The Clash is full of raw punk rock and meaningful lyrics that still resonate decades later.
Artist: Led Zeppelin Album: Led Zeppelin Year: 1969 Label: Atlantic Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes Favorite Tracks:
“Good Times, Bad Times”
“You Shook Me”
“Dazed and Confused”
Thoughts: Another stunning debut for a genre-defining band, Led Zeppelin captures Led Zep as a pure Blues Rock act. The guitar and drum solos display virtuosic talent and there isn’t a shred of the mystical folk rock and prog rock that Led Zeppelin would incorporate into their sound in later years.
HOLY COW! We enter the Top 100 next week!
Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again
500. Arcade Fire, Funeral
498. Suicide, Suicide
497. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
494. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
489. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector from Phil Spector and Various Artists, Back to Mono (1958-1969)
487. Black Flag, Damaged
485. Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
483. Muddy Waters, The Anthology
482. The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
481. Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
478. The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
477. Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight
469.Manu Chao, Clandestino
465. King Sunny Adé, The Best of the Classic Years
464. The Isley Brothers, 3 + 3
462. The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin
459. Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
457. Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
456. Al Green, Greatest Hits
455. Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley
453. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
452. Diana Ross and the Supremes, Anthology
451. Roberta Flack, First Take
448. Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul
446. Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidanada
444. Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
443. David Bowie, Scary Monsters
440. Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter
439. James Brown, Sex Machine
438. Blur, Parklife
437. Primal Scream, Screamadelica
435. Pet Shop Boys, Actually
433. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
431. Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive?
430. Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
429. The Four Tops, Reach Out
428. Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
427. Al Green, Call Me
426. Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
425. Paul Simon, Paul Simon
424. Beck, Odelay
423. Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
Title: Star Trek: Discovery Release Date: 2019 Creator: Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman Season: 2 Episodes:14 Production Company: Secret Hideout | Roddenberry Entertainment | Living Dead Guy Productions | CBS Studios Summary/Review
While the first season of Star Trek: Discovery showed some promise, it suffered from the 21st-century television malady of using “grimdark” as the baseline for storytelling. The season starts with a brutal war story and then takes a left turn into an evil mirror universe. Thankfully, the second season has more of the hopeful future of possibility that is the heart of Star Trek. There’s definitely a lighter tone, humor, and a sense of a group of people who are working together for, well, discovery.
The season begins with a new captain, Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), transferring from the Enterprise to take temporary command of Discovery. Pike is a character from the pilot of the original Star Trek series who returned for a two-part episode called “The Menagerie.” Being a prequel to the original series, Discovery has been guilty of playing up to fan nostalgia (and one episode in particular this season goes very deeply into going where Star Trek has gone before) by bringing in familiar people and things. With Pike, though, I think it works, similar to Sarek and Amanda, as they are all familiar people in Star Trek lore but have had limited screen time.
A bigger challenge is the significant role of another familiar character, Michael Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) foster brother Spock (Ethan Peck). Not only is Spock one of the most important characters in Star Trek history but he is so entwined with Leonard Nimoy that it feels an act of arrogance to recast him. Ultimately I can’t fault Peck, who does the best he can taking on an iconic role, and Spock’s presence in the series arc makes sense having established him as the family of our main character, Burnham. I can’t help feeling though that this is a way of trying to gain Star Trek legitimacy for the series without really earning it.
While season 2 is a great improvement over season 1, I feel that Discovery is still missing something that I love about Star Trek. What is missing is the whole exploring “strange new worlds” thing. All the plots and conflict of the original series involved “boldly going” somewhere new. By the time of The Next Generation, the Enterprise seemed to be shuttling between places already discovered, but they still met “new life and civilizations” all the time Discovery, by contrast, seemingly is just always in crisis and the conflict is within Starfleet (a big no-no under Gene Rodenberry, and obviously an artificial restraint to storytelling, but Discovery seems to be over-correcting). Even when they do visit places like Saru’s (Doug Jones) homeworld, we really don’t find out all too much about the planet beyond meeting Saru’s sister.
Past iterations of Star Trek have been accused of being boring, but the show did take time for world-building and character development. This season was good in fleshing out some of the secondary characters and giving a little more about the many familiar faces on the bridge. On the downside, one episode finally fills in the background of one character only to have the episode end with their death. It’s an old trick in tv and not a good one. So much of this season is about plot twists and new threats that come so fast it’s hard to even make sense of them sometimes. It starts with a search for mysterious signals in the galaxy, then a search for Spock, and then a mysterious sphere with an archive of data. The antagonists are the CIA-like Section 31 intelligence organization of the United Federation of Planets, and then suddenly a sentient artificial intelligence. It all gets a bit exhausting.
Mind you, Discovery is a fun show and one I want to keep watching. The characters and acting fill in a lot of gaps where the plotting and writing fail. I just think it could be a great show and more true to its Star Trek lineage while also being more adventurous in storytelling. The season ends with a thrilling space battle and an all-hands-on-deck plot to save the universe where all the major characters contribute. And it pretty much answers why we have never heard of Discovery or Michael Burnham or the spore drive in previous Star Trek series while also setting up a premise for Season 3 that could redefine the show in exciting ways. I shall keep watching
Title: Star Trek: Discovery Release Date: 2021 Creator: Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman Season: 1 Episodes: 15 Production Company: Secret Hideout | Roddenberry Entertainment | Living Dead Guy Productions | CBS Studios Summary/Review: As a long time fan of the Star Trek original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and all their spinoff films, I’ve been eager to watch this newest Star Trek universe series. My feelings after viewing the first season are mixed. The show veers away from the Gene Roddenberry rules into darker territory than previous series, but it also has a tendency toward ludicrous plot twists over effective storytelling. Keeping in line with 21st-century television, Discovery is a serialized program as opposed to the mostly stand-alone episodic approach of its predecessors.
Unlike other Star Trek shows which centered on the captain, the main character of this show is Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green, who was great in The Walking Dead), a science specialist on the U.S.S. Enterprise. She is a human who was orphaned in a Klingon attack as a child and raised as the ward of the Vulcan Sarek (James Frain), essentially making her Spock’s adopted sister. As the series begins, she is a first officer being groomed to be a captain, but convinced that the Federation must make a preemptive attack on the Klingon Empire, she attempts a mutiny and is busted down to the lowest levels.
The first half of the season deals with Burnhams attempted mutiny, the start of the Federation-Klingon War, and Burnham’s recruitment to the Discovery by the eccentric military captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs of Lucius Malfoy fame but with an American accent). The early episodes are hit and miss but I think do a good job of establishing Burnham and her regrets and hopes for redemption while also introducing the rest of the characters. It also shows some developments of an experimental technology on the Discovery, the spore drive. Basically it uses a galaxy-wide mycelial network (yes, space fungi!) to jump to different places in space. It sounds weird, but then again, so were dilithium crystals.
The second half of the season is set primarily in the Mirror Universe, a plot device going back to the original series of an alternate universe where everyone has evil duplicates. Unfortunately this half of the season is pretty much mediocre as the creators indulge their desire to make the show “gritty and dark.” There’s a definite influence of the 2000s Battlestar Galactica without that show’s gravitas. The second half of the season also has multiple characters being revealed as not who they were, but not in very effective ways. It feels like the twists were thought up first and then the stories were filled in later. Thankfully, the final episode builds on the hope on optimism that is the corner of Star Trek storytelling and gives me hope for future seasons.
The show is set ten years before the beginning of the original series making Discovery essentially a prequel. There’s wisdom in this as it appears the creators wanted to tell a war story and why not have the Klingons as antagonists rather than creating a new villain, albeit I don’t think they ultimately used the Klingons to their best storytelling potential. Despite the earlier time period, the crew of Discovery have access to more advanced technology than in earlier shows. I’m mostly fine with this, because the 1960s Star Trek did their best to show future technology with the special effects available at the time, so there’s no reason the 2010s show shouldn’t do the same. Ultimately, though, they are going to have to explain why the spore drive doesn’t replace the warp drive by the time of The Next Generation.
The best part of the show so far is its characters. In addition Martin-Green, the show’s main cast includes:
Doug Jones (creature specialist of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Waterfame) as Saru, who is of a rare species known as Kelpien, serves as the first officer, and is the conscience of the ship. He’s my favorite character thus far.
Mary Wiseman plays Sylvia Tilly, Burnham’s roommate who is nerdy and socially awkward, but nonetheless highly-skilled and ambitious. She’s my second favorite character.
Shazad Latif plays Ash Tyler, who is rescued from a Klingon jail by Captain Lorca, appointed security chief, and becomes a romantic interest of sorts for Burnham.
Anthony Rapp plays the sometimes crotchety/sometimes goofy chief engineer Paul Stamets who develops and maintains the spore drive.
Wilson Cruz plays Hugh Culber, the ship’s medical officer, and Stamets’ husband, and is the more sensible of the couple.
Michelle Yeoh has a recurring role as starship Captain Philippa Geourgiu who is Burnham’s mentor.
Due to the aforementioned twists, it appears that several of the characters will not be appearing in future seasons, although none of their endings are written in stone. I’ll find out soon.
Author: Maxwell King Title: The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers Narrator: LeVar Burton Publication Info: Oasis Audio (2018) Summary/Review:
I know a bit about the life of Fred Rogers from watching the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor and reading articles about him. But I couldn’t resist listening to the first book-length biography of Mr. Rogers narrated by another PBS hero, LeVar Burton. King does a good job of getting a clear picture of Rogers’ background, starting from childhood.
His family was wealthy, which allowed Rogers the opportunities to try his new ideas, but his parents’ philanthropy and noblesse oblige also contributed to his humility and simple lifestyle. Rogers was also affected by instances of childhood bullying and the sense that he could find support in the neighborhood of his hometown of Latrobe, PA.
As a young man, Rogers learned television production and studied for the ministry, with the unorthodox plan of putting both callings toward educating children. The big question of this book is whether the Mister Rogers we see on tv represents the real person, with the unanimous response of “yes” from people who know him. So this book won’t expose any “dark secrets” but it is a very good glimpse into how a wonderful man formed his philosophy for teaching children.
Norman Lear’s groundbreaking show All in the Family depicted the real divisions within American family. The famed overstuffed armchair remains on display at the Smithsonian as recognition of the show’s place in history. By the way, I’ve never before noticed how much Donald Trump’s vocal intonations resemble Archie Bunker’s.
Title: More Tales of the City Release Dates: 2001 Season: 3 Number of Episodes: 3 Summary/Review:
I’ve finished off watching all the televisual adaptions of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books with 2001’s More Tales of the City. This is the shortest of all the miniseries and apparently was released in three episodes, although the version I watched on YouTube was edited together into a single three hour movie. The brevity actually benefits the film, because this is the weakest of all 9 Tales of the City books and consolidating the story actually improves the narrative a bit.
More Tales of the City revolved a ludicrous, plot-twist filled story about an Episcopalian cannibal cult. Further Tales of the City revolves around a ludicrous, plot-twist filled story about cult leader Jim Jones living in San Francisco three years after the Jonestown massacre. This main story line has DeDe (Barbara Garrick) and her adorable toddler children returning home after having gone to live at Jonestown, surviving the massacre, escaping to Cuba, and then being expelled for being lesbian. The story does give Garrick a part with more gravitas which she performs well and makes me wonder why DeDe was played mostly for laughs in the 2019 miniseries.
Another central character is Prue (Mary Kay Place), a friend of DeDe’s who had only a small role in previous series, but is the one who discovers and befriends Jim Jones, using the alias Luke (Henry Czerny), when he was living in a maintenance shed in Golden Gate Park. Her sidekick is Father Paddy, a gossipy and secretly gay priest, played by Bruce McCullough (the second member of Kids in the Hall to appear in Tales of the City after Scott Thompson played a bit part in the previous installment). Another newcomer is a pre-Grey’s Anatomy Sandra Oh as news anchor Bambi Kanetaka, who is Mary Ann’s rival at the tv station and who’s mistreatment by the 28 Barbary Lane family reflects poorly on them and is another reason I like this book the least.
The other storylines seem to be treading water. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) and Brian (Whip Hubley) are in a long-term relationship now, but straining over Mary Ann’s career focus (something that is better developed in the later books). Michael (Paul Hopkins) has broken off with Jon (Billy Campbell) basically because of low self-esteem and has a series of flings with an actor (a character Maupin based on his real life lover Rock Hudson), a cop, and a cowboy. And Mother Mucca (Jackie Burroughs) introduces Mrs. Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) to a man named Royal Reichenbach (John McMartin) in a story created solely for television.
It’s a shame that they were never able to continue adapting the books with the original-ish cast. Book 4, Babycakes, is my favorite of all the books and all three of the books from the 1980s are more character-driven and deal with more serious issues, especially the AIDS crisis. Maupin was one of the first authors to include depictions of AIDS in fiction. Alas, to what could’ve been.
Title: More Tales of the City Release Dates: 1998 Season: 2 Number of Episodes: 6 Summary/Review:
Having watched the new Netflix series Tales of the City and then rewatched the classic 1993 miniseries Tales of the City, I dug up the sequel to the original, More Tales of the City on YouTube of all places. This miniseries suffers from the fact that it’s based on one of the weakest books in the Tales of the City series and can’t improve on its source material. The series also anfeatures several characters cast with new actors that can be jarring.
Paul Hopkins takes over as Michael Tolliver and he end being my least favorite of the three actors to play Michael, as he overdoes the Southern accent and seems to lean in to hard on playing a stereotype of 70s gay man. Nina Siemaszko is somewhat more successful as Mona, playing the character with more vulnerability, but also looking like she’s cosplaying Chloe Webb as Mona. Diana Leblanc takes over for Frannie Halcyon who has a much bigger role in this story, and bears a startling resemblance to Barbara Garrick who plays her onscreen daughter. Françoise Robertson takes over for D’orothea and also is an improvement for a character getting a bigger role. Finally, Whip Hubley plays Brian, and while he looks too much like a 70s sitcom character, he does inhabit the role well.
The miniseries overall does have more of a sitcom feel and a lot of the cinematography and direction that made the original Tales of the City great is replaced by more pedestrian styles. I find the plot twists over-the-top (SPOILER) such as Beauchamp dies in a car wreck, Michael is suddenly paralyzed by Guillain–Barré syndrome, and Burke uncovered a Episcopalian cannibal cult! Again, though, those all come from the original source, so they do the best they can.
The main plots of the story involve Mary Ann (Laura Linney) and Michael going on a cruise to Mexico. Mary Ann finds romance with a man who has amnesia regarding his time in San Francisco, Burke (Colin Ferguson), while Michael is reacquainted with Jon (William Campbell). Meanwhile, Mona, feeling lost in life, journeys to Nevada where she ends up working as a receptionist at a brothel for Mother Mucca (a cracking good Jackie Burroughs who is actually 8 years younger than Olympia Dukakis, despite appearances). Brian, enjoying voyeurism from his new penthouse apartment, starts a long distance fling with a mysterious woman (Swoosie Kurtz, 14 years younger than Olympia Dukakis) in another building via binoculars. DeDe has her babies with the help of her new friend-come-lover D’orthea.
It was interesting to finaly see this after 21 years, but unlike the original, I don’t think it would be worth an additional viewing.
Title: Tales of the City Release Dates: 1993 Season: 1 Number of Episodes: 6 Summary/Review:
After watching the new Tales of the City miniseries on Netflix, I saw that this original miniseries is also on Netflix and had to rewatch. As good as the new series is, this original is really a masterpiece of television. There’s a lot about it I love – the dialogue, the pacing, the way San Francisco is incorporated as a character, the camerawork (I especially enjoy how many scenes are shot through windows), and the music, both the period-specific pop tunes and the original score for the series. The new series, and well, a lot of television misses these deft touches.
I also like how it slowly reveals that in a city where no one seems to have any secrets that everyone has deep secrets indeed. I like how well they handled a romance between an older couple – Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) and Edgar Halcyon (Donald Moffat) – something you rarely see depicted on film. Marcus D’Amico is really the most heartwarming perfomer as Michael Tolliver, and I really loved his strong friendship with Mona Ramsey (Chloe Webb). That Michael in the new series doesn’t share any memories of Mona and even changes the story of how he met Mrs. Madrigal is all the more disappointing.
Even though I haven’t watched this in at least 20 years, I was surprised how well I remembered so many scenes. The big exception is that I forgot the whole thing about D’orothea (Cynda Williams) pretending to be Black and Mona trying to appeal to her with sould food, which is one of the big misteps of this whole series and worth forgetting about. Otherwise this is a terrific show and if you have Netflix give yourself a treat and watch it.