Tuesday, December 28, 2021

TV Reco: Line of Duty

Watching a for-the-ages great series like "Succession", "Breaking Bad" (I told you about both long before they were popular; the former at the end of season one and the latter early in season two), "Atlanta", "The Leftovers", “Patriot”, or "Rick & Morty", you'll never roll your eyes. No illogic, no gaping plot holes, low dramatic license, and a blessed absence of clichés, transparent fan service, and telegraphing of jokes/explaining of nuances.

But those are all boutique premium cable shows run by pampered auteurs with ample budgets. What if someone decided to do a standard network police show (anti-corruption unit, i.e. watching the watchmen) with that stratospheric level of craft, talent, and intelligence?

You won't come away from BBC's "Line of Duty" dazzled by its immortal greatness, as with the shows name-checked above. But you'll be as thoroughly and intelligently entertained as you ever have been in your life. This is what ordinary TV can be with really good writing, acting, directing, and cinematography, with absolutely every last quid of value squeezed from a wee budget, and your intelligence seldom insulted.

It streams free on Amazon Prime (minus the final two seasons, at least for now) and on Hulu, and while six seasons would normally seem like an ambitious binge, they're short seasons of 5 to 7 shows each. Think of it as six trays of delightful small plates.

Line of Duty's IMDB page (check out the crazy-high user ratings).
The Line Of Duty Wiki (to help keep characters and plot points straight).
Sarah Hughes' excellent recaps for The Guardian (the paywall is a pushover; just click "not now"): Season 1 thru Season 3 episode 5, and Season 3 Finale thru Season 6 Finale (she actually literally doesn’t make it to the end, which is incomparably sad, but you can worry about that when you get there). 
All the Slog's TV postings in reverse chronological order

Next in my TV queue, I'll sign up for Disney+ just long enough to catch up on The Beatles: Get Back, Mandalorian, WandaVision, and Hawkeye.

Then on to:
Arcane (on Netflix) 
Euphoria (on HBOmax)
Dave (on Hulu)
Witcher (on Netflix)
Spiral (on Amazon Prime)
Rake (on Amazon Prime)
Travelers (on Netflix)
The Great (on Hulu)

And I'm saving these two for last: John from Cincinnati (on HBOmax), and Deadwood (on HBOmax, but I'll watch on blu-ray for best quality).


Unknown said...

I probably wouldn't have picked up on Succession without reading about it from you, so thanks for strongly recommending. I'm using all my power not to binge it because I savor the knowledge that I still have another episode to look forward to at the end of the day.

Your Get Shorty (series) recommendation was also terrific.

One question. I don't recall seeing a recommendation from you for the film Tampopo. I assume you've seen it, but if not. it might be up your alley.

Happy New Year.

Jim Leff said...

Good news. Succession is better in the rewatch. And I've now rewatched three times, and it's WAY better the third time. It's just another aspect of the Shakespeariosity of this show, I suppose.

For one thing, you'll discover that Stew, who originally struck you as one of Kendall's "bros", was always a ravenous predator, and Kendall's taking him into his confidence 1. shows how feeble at biz Kendall actually is, and 2. feeds into what was clearly always a long game on Stew's part.

Also, tons of cross talk and throwaway lines you missed. And plot subtleties. Small threads are way more significant in retrospect.

So go ahead and blast through, knowing you can return to the well again and again.

If you liked Get Shorty, you need to see Mr. In Between. And Tampopo is great, an unassailable food movie classic!

But a great big TV round-up publishes tomorrow morning, so stop back!

Unknown said...

I don't know if I've ever seen anything as good as "OZARK" and I don't see it on your list!

Jim Leff said...

This isn't a list, it's a review of a great British cop show.

Tomorrow I'm posting a list. But Ozark doesn't appear there, either. It's as dark as Breaking Bad, but without any of the humor or whimsy. Feh!

Unknown said...

Yes! Already picking up on Stewy being much better at this than Kendall, who has the ambition and the ruthlessness but not much else.

Looking forward to the big list!

Jim Leff said...

Big list published this morning, go to front page.

Stewy's early maneuvers are just 1/100000 of what you'll pick up on re-watch. I confess to being somewhat dim and sieve-like - I miss more plot points than most people - but I promise you'll get fresh squeezed goodness out of even two rewatchings.

Jim Leff said...

Kendall, who has the ambition and the ruthlessness but not much else

I write a lot here about the difference between "being" and "seeming", which most people compact into the usual clichés re: posing and imitation. But it's way too deep and under-explored a distinction to be reduced to cliché.

Most singers become singers not because they want to sing but because they want to be singers. Similarly, Kendall wants to be a business leader not because he wants to do business (ala Logan), but because he wants to be a business leader. It's a whole other thing. A whole other world.

This distinction is the connective tissue running under society. It's also a magic wand for those willing/able to reframe themselves this way.

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