Dead to Me

Dead

If you like black comedy, check out the Netflix’s show, DEAD TO ME. Two women (Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini) meet at a grief counseling session and become close friends. The bitter Applegate lost her husband in a hit and run. The flakey Cardellini lost her rich boyfriend who is still very much alive. Though this “Odd Couple”  become friends supporting each other, there are dark hidden secrets and unexpected compelling twists that could rip their relationship and lives apart if exposed.

You

Y

I’m more than halfway through season 1 of YOU the Netflix series (originally on Lifetime). The show has a lot to say about our society’s addiction to social media, and the image we project of ourselves online and who we are in real life. YOU is a dark, sexy show about Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), an intelligent, seemingly well-mannered young man who works in a bookstore. It’s there he meets Beck (Elizabeth Lail), a beautiful wannabe writer/student. Joe is immediately attracted to her and begins to stalk her, following her on social media, and eventually controlling her life and other relationships. Mild-mannered Joe will do anything for Beck including eliminating others in her life. YOU is intense, unsettling and creepy.
Season 2 is coming soon on Netflix.

Lilyhammer

Netflix

  I have been wondering how many people have seen the Netflix series Lilyhammer? After three seasons that began in 2012, the show was canceled. It seems unclear why. Steve Van Zandt who starred in the series only stated at the time in a tweet, “business got too complicated,” a vague statement at best. Lilyhammer never got the attention that other Netflix shows like House of Cards received at the time. I never heard of the show until recently when I was browsing the Netflix catalog and came across it.
Van Zandt portrays an offshoot of his Sopranos character, Silvio Dante, but do not misunderstand there’s no connection to the earlier show. Still, his character is so close to Silvio you would think there has to be a genetic connection (a brother from another mother). Van Zandt portrays Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano, a New York hood who after co-operating with the Feds, testifying in a trial against a former mob boss, now has a “hit” ordered on his head. Frank is put into the Federal Witness Protection program and requests he is relocated to Lillehammer, Norway (he saw the town on TV when they hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics). He figures whose going to look for him there? Frank’s given a new identity, Giovanni “Johnny” Henriksen, a Norwegian/American immigrant. Frank/Johnny has to learn to adapt to the small Norwegian community, and they to him. It’s not a smooth transition. When certain situations arise that are troubling, Johnny finds it necessary to resort to some of his old tactics.
Lilyhammer is not your typical crime show; it’s offbeat, funny, dark, edgy and as you may imagine bloody. As you may expect the soundtrack is superb thanks to Van Zandt. The show may not be to everyone’s taste, but I found it to be a show to savor and wished it had last longer. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Spoiler Alert!!!

The show’s final episode has a special guest.

 

3. The Honeymooners (1955-6)

The Honeymooners is my third entry in Wonders in the Dark’s TV Countdown.

Wonders in the Dark

by John Greco

My parents and I moved to Bensonhurst when I was three days shy of my eleventh birthday. Like the Kramden’s we were a blue collar family and lived in an old apartment house. However, it was in better shape than Ralph and Alice’s two room apartment. For one thing, we had three and a half rooms! We also had a refrigerator instead of an icebox, a better sink and stove, and my Mom eventually got her first clothes washer! Alice, on the other hand, in the first of the classic 39 episodes, complains to Ralph that they have been living in their dingy place for 14 years, and their electric bill was still an embarrassing thirty-nine cents! Cheap even for the mid-1950’s.

Ralph Kramden and company made their first appearance on the now long defunct Dumont Network. The show was called The Cavalcade of Stars, and…

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36. Your Show of Shows (1950-54)

This is my second article included in Wonders in the Dark’s TV Countdown. My first, The Odd Couple, can be found here.

Wonders in the Dark

by John Greco

Your Show of Shows premiered on Saturday, February 25th 1950. It was a live 90 minute variety show consisting, for most seasons, of 39 episodes. It was the equivalent of putting on a new Broadway show every week. The show starred Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris as regulars. James Starbuck would join the cast in 1951.    Among the show’s writers, were Mel Brooks, Neil and Danny Simon, Mel Tolkin and Lucille Kallen. One of the misconceptions is that Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen wrote for Your Show of Shows. Gelbart actually wrote for Caesar’s Hour and Woody Allen worked on a few episodes of The Sid Caesar Show.

The man behind the idea was Viennese born Max Liebman who for years before the show’s premiere was in many ways priming himself for his big moment. In the 1930’s Liebman worked…

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The Steel Helmet on TCM

TheSteelHelmetSam Fuller’s gritty Korean War film, The Steel Helmet,  will be on Turner Classic Movies on  Saturday May 27th (4:30pm ET) as part of its annual Memorial Day  Weekend  tribute. Despite being  over 60 Yeas old, the film is quite contemporary in its view of the  high cost of war. Gene Evans, Steve Brodie, Robert Hutton and James Edwards star in this under the radar film.

You can read more about it in my book, Lessons in the Dark, available at Amazon.

Here is an excerpt…

“Fuller has filled the screen with brutal battle scenes presenting one of the harshest views of the realities of war. Bloody, horrific and deadly. The men are dirty and scared. There are no heroes and no cowards, just men trying to survive and survival is precarious.  Fuller’s Americans are multi-cultural, from different backgrounds, filled with misfits and offbeat characters. From John Wayne’s patriotic war films to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), we have seen the unit composed of the misfit, the hotheaded kid, the kid from Brooklyn, the kid from the mid-west, the pacifist and so on. What makes The Steel Helmet unique is a coarse quality that filters throughout separating it from the others”  – Lessons in the Dark 

Lessons in the Dark Cover-Small-003

 

Planet Earth II

After a ten  years wait, Planet Earth II begins this coming Saturday on BBC America. Once again, the stunning photographic wildlife adventure is narrated by Richard Attenborough. The recent advancements is technology (photographic, drones) will make this a breathtaking journey. Check out the trailer attached below.

 

Longmire is Back!

longmire-htmWalt Longmire, portrayed wonderfully by Australian actor Robert Taylor, rides again this month with a doubleheader for fans of the sturdy Gary Cooper type sheriff of Absaroka County. Despite Taylor being from half way around the world he sounds and looks like a true westerner. Continue reading “Longmire is Back!”

Quarry – New Cinemax Series Scores A Hit

quarry-on-set

The new  TV fall season has barely begun, yet what is most likely going to be one of the fall’s most interesting shows premiered on Cinemax last Friday night. Quarry is based on a series of Max Allan Collins novels. The show follows the story of Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), a recently discharged marine just back from Vietnam. Set in the early 1970’s, the political winds of the county were blowing against the war. Unlike soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan now, nobody was thanking Vietnam Vets for their service. Mac and his fellow marine and friend, Arthur, are greeted by protestors at their home town Memphis airport. Continue reading “Quarry – New Cinemax Series Scores A Hit”