Comedy

Fallet (2017) [TV Series Review]

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Rating: 4/5

Number of episodes: 8

Fallet is a Swedish television series on Netflix, part satirical comedy, part crime drama. It stars Lisa Henni and Adam Godley in the lead roles. What I liked most about Fallet is its brilliance in sticking to its rare genre. The case is a very serious one but the characters’ antics can’t stop you from laughing. 

Sophie Borg is a Swedish detective; young, arrogant and always goes with her instincts, her very bad instincts. Almost every decision of hers ends in a disaster. But that doesn’t stop her. On the other hand we have DCI Tom Brown, a British detective, timid and innocent, he lacks the authority needed for his position. He rarely solves cases and frequently talks to his dead mother. When a British man is found murdered in Norrbacka, both Sophie and Tom are assigned the case, a last ditch opportunity to save their career. 

Till probably the first episode, I didn’t realise it was a satirical comedy. But with the introduction Klas Wall and Bill Wall, Norbacka police, the genre becomes clear. Klas is on the verge of retirement and doesn’t want to take any risks. Sophie takes it as her mission to break the rules while Tom makes sure he follows all British etiquette of pleases and thank yous. Sophie confidently bursting into a “drama” rehearsal and taking a bizarre shot at an alleged suspect was so funny. Bill’s character grows on you. His sincerity in taking down Morse coded statements from a witness was too good. 

Apart from these quirky antics, what makes the show even more interesting is the case itself. The murder followed by few other murders kept me on the edge of the seat. The connection to a group of exchange students and Sophie’s mother being a part of that group made it even more engaging. When the story took the turn of Tom being attracted towards Sophie’s mother, I thought it was very cliched but that’s what the writers intended to do. Make the show cliched. It’s really difficult to get into this complex genre where the case is dark and the actions are silly. The investigation process is very nicely done and the ending stood up to the build up. 

Fallet is quirky, funny and interesting. The cast is very good. The setting is magnificent. The writing is crisp and clear. An easy and comfortable watch. 

 

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The Middle [2009-2018] (TV Series Review)

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Rating: 4.5/5

Seasons: 9

I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a show so much like this one. I haven’t watched many sitcoms as my interest is mostly into crime thrillers. But wanting a break from my favorite genre, I was browsing through to find a good-feel show and The Middle smashed it out of the park. I am so glad to have found this show. 

The Middle follows the lives of the Hecks- a middle class, perfectly dysfunctional family and their struggles with every day life. It doesn’t take you much time to connect to the characters and warm up to them. Every character is written with so much substance. Each one has their own strengths and flaws which are so common in the real world. You can identify yourself to one character or different characters at different situations. 

Mike Heck is the man of the house- a man of few words. He is easy going and doesn’t take things too seriously. He likes his sports and can sit in his couch watching sports all day. He struggles to express his feelings and the times where he uncomfortably speaks his heart out are the best moments of the show. His relationship, with Sue in particular is so heart warming. He and Frankie make a great team and have a great understanding. 

Frankie Heck is the mother of the house. Yes- her main role is of the mother which she loves to be but at times wishes she didn’t have to. She is loud, hysterical at times, but loves her children a lot. She is lazy and irresponsible, keeps forgetting her children’s school activities and does everything at the last moment. Nevertheless, she is a wonderful mom who craves for her children’s love and attention. She always works very hard to make her family as a normal family- a family who shares their day with each other, sits together for dinner, etc. But it just doesn’t happen. 

Axl Heck is the first of the three children. He symbolises the teenage boys of today perfectly. Lazy and careless with no discipline but with high self esteem, Axl always gets what he wants. But once he gets into the college, reality strikes and he slowly learns that the real world isn’t easy. He has little respect for everyone but deep down loves his family a lot. I wish Axl had more character growth but his character was in a good spot at the end.

Sue Heck is the middle child- happy and excited at all times and full of hope. She is the most positive person in the world. With no talent of any sort, she tries out almost every club and competition meeting failure, but nothing affects her. Even though I found her irritating in the first 2 seasons, the character slowly started growing on me and became sort of an inspiration at the end. She is more like Frankie, who wants her family to do normal things- celebrate birthdays and other festivals, etc. 

Brick Heck is the youngest child and is occasionally mentioned as the mistake. With at least 4 to 5 years age gap between him and Sue, he gets left out of the siblings group all the time. Even from his parents, he gets the least attention. Being a voracious reader, the negligence matters very little to him. Probably after Mike, he is the wisest of the lot. The growth he has from being a weird kid to a slightly less weird teenage boy is great. 

The supporting cast which includes the neighbours- Donoghues, Norwoods and Glossners are great as well. 

What makes The Middle work are the realistic situations and struggles the characters face. Be it problems with the homework or a tap leak or an out of function washing machine- everything is so relatable. Every Thanksgiving, Birthday, Christmas and Anniversary celebrated are memorable. I love how Sue is the only one to take initiative to arrange a party while the boys just put their hands up doing nothing. Also, the series shows how parents aren’t perfect. They try but they fail. They get impatient with the kids just like how kids get impatient with them. They also crave for some good free time, doing things they love. Whenever the show takes the emotional path, they nail it. A funny scene effortlessly turns into an emotional one and you see what family is all about. Below are few of my favorite moments. 

  1. When Mike and Sue has a heart to heart conversation after Mike feels he hasn’t been a cool father to his daughter. Sue reminds him of all the small but great things he does for her- depicting how the gestures needn’t be big but even small ones get to the kids. 
  2. Sue and Axl always have a tom and jerry relationship but whenever Axl does small loving things for his sister, it just brings a smile to your face. 
  3. When Brick sits down to advise his mother not to expect anything from others and start loving herself as she is the best person in her life. 
  4. Sue always has the tendency to dream big and when she dreams for the big colleges, it puts Mike and Frankie in worry as they wouldn’t be able to afford it, forcing them to work more. When Sue realises, she tells them that she dreams big because she loves that feeling but she knows the reality and doesn’t want her parents to worry or stress themselves. The mature Sue. 
  5. When the neighbours come in for help to fix their house’s roof.
  6. The entire Brad track was so sensibly and sensitively handled. When he enters the show as Sue’s boyfriend when they are about 12 years old, Mike and Frankie instantly knows- Brad is gay. But they leave it to Brad to figure it out himself. After Sue and Brad decides to be just friends, and after 7 years of great friendship, Brad after realising it himself, decides to tell Sue. That scene is wonderfully executed. It was all understood. 

There are so many more moments- funny ones like Frankie becoming hysterical because the kids chose Mike over her, the family’s trip to Disneyworld, all the road trips the family takes and the bickering, the forgetting of the blue bag, all the disastrous mother’s day gifts, kids conducting an intervention for the parents, Mike and Frankie taking the house and their lives back from the kids, all the sports meet and competition…the list can go on. 

The cast plays a huge role bringing so much fun to the characters. Every actor plays his/her part so well that you actually connect to the character so well. I can’t pick one- all 5 of them are great. 

The writing is the star of the show. Wonderful storylines for each character and nicely written dialogues and screenplay makes the show so light and comfy. 

If you want to watch something light, heart warming at the same time very relatable, The Middle is the show to go for. 

W1A (Season 3 Review)

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Rating: 5/5

You may like it. You may not like it. You may understand or you may not. But the fact is, this show is a brilliant piece of writing. I haven’t reviewed the first two seasons but I remember thoroughly enjoying it. I read this season, Season 3, is the final one. Sad. So here goes my thoughts.

W1A- I still don’t know what it stands for- is a mockumentary, a satire, a parody of BBC and the insider happenings. The show follows a team of people, their meetings, discussions and outcomes on various popular incidents in the entertainment world. The show is narrated by David Tennant in a documentary tone, and the narration is as funny and hilarious as the show itself. The heart of this show is to present how ridiculous and nonsensical a corporate set up can get. There are way too many meaningless teams and a Head for each one. I mean- Head of Values, Head of Better, Head of Inclusivity, Head of Diversity- and each one wondering what their exact roles are.

I love Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), Head of Values. He is the only sane guy in this dynamic and interesting group of insanity. He is mostly unheard but the one to solve the issue at the end. Siobhan, Head of Brand from Perfect Curve and later Fun Media, has to be the most exciting character ever. She is sharp and pointless. Her ideas are bizarre in the name of creativity. I still remember her and her team’s idea to change the BBC logo to mere 3 lines and they gave a very serious explanation to support this strange idea. The competition between Anna and Lucy just gets better everytime. Neil is the underdog in the group but the one with the best one-liners. Will with his, “Yeah…cool…yeah” is adorable.

The show’s pulse is its writing. Just the way the meetings take place with everyone just muttering, “Right”, “Brilliant”, “Hurrah”, “Fabulous” without listening to a word- is probably how conferences are conducted nowadays. Just lines like the one by Anna, “This is about identifying what we do most of the best and finding fewer ways of doing more of it less.” I mean what is that! But if you actually sit and dissect the lines, it does hold some deep meaning. Initiatives like Renewal Team, More of Less, BBC Me- It’s about You- each one of the storylines better the other.

I wait for crisis in the show and how the team sits for a Damage Limitation Meeting. In Season 3, the best crisis has to be with how the new automatic subtitle software mispronounced Jules as Jews and the subsequent media roar. I couldn’t stop laughing when the software named Maggie Smith as Baggy Smith. Naming current shows like Strictly, and the stars involved makes the show even more interesting. And the Forecast App! Wonderful!

The silent discos, On my bike, uproar over cutting down BBC orchestra, the plot on the cross dressed football analyser, new roles like Head of Empowerment and Head of Purpose- each one of them has excellent moments involved. Comparing Ben and Jerry to Ant and Dec was hilarious.

Few more lines to quote.

“No one watches Television anymore, like no one. Get over it. It’s over. It’s not an overstatement. It’s an Uber statement.” -Siobhan. Reaction from others is same as yours-“WHAT?”

“Given the strong reactions provoked by Ryan’s Match of the Day appearance, and given the complex and sensitive issues involved, the problem for BBC is they don’t know what to do.” – Narrator.

“What are we actually going to do when we actually run out of time?” – Tracy

Siobhan: “We need to prioritize Plan B”.

Neil: We don’t have a Plan A, stupid.

Siobhan: “That’s why we need to focus on Plan B.”

The show also showcases on the huge number of things that had to be concentrated on for the running of the network. It’s interesting to see how brand and marketing works. The location being the actual BBC office, it adds a lot of credibility. I mean those chairs! The actors are absolutely marvelous. It’s difficult to perform in a show like this where the lines have absolutely no meaning, yet you need to deliver them with utter seriousness.

Many people might not get this show. Also, I wouldn’t say it’s a hilarious show either. It’s just BRILLIANT! I couldn’t stop admiring and being astonished by the writing by John Morton. I really wish for more seasons.

This show is a joy to watch. Don’t miss it!

Atypical (2017 – ) [Review]

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Rating: 4.5/5

Number of episodes: 8

Atypical is an innocent and endearing tale about Sam, an 18 year old boy who is on the autistic spectrum. During one of his sessions with his therapist, Sam divulges his wish to have a girlfriend and is extremely surprised when his young therapist encourages the idea. The first season of this beautiful light comedy follows Sam and his amazing methodical ways to acquire a girlfriend.

The best thing about this show is it doesn’t expect the audience to sympathize Sam and his condition but just to accept him for what he is. Sam is autistic but very intelligent. He is passionate about Penguins and Antarctica and can speak non-stop on the subject. He has problems socializing and is troubled with overly noise. Apart from this, he is normal. And yes, he is radically truthful.

The family is a normal middle class family. Sam’s dating mission sends his mother, Elsa into intense restlessness. Having always been the go to person in the family, Elsa feels used and left out when Sam and the rest begin to lead their life on their own not wanting her help, sending her into having her own affair. I loved how the show portrayed different dynamics in the relationships within the family.

Sam and his sister Casey are amazing. Casey is so protective of Sam and loves him to the extent of sacrificing her own goals. She knows the family revolves around Sam and his needs. Yet, there are times when she feels her wishes and dreams are compromised for him. This scenario was beautifully written and executed. Sam and his father have a very interesting relationship. Doug has always had troubles connecting to Sam. There is a visible distance. But when Sam embarks on his girlfriend mission, he turns to Doug for guidance which surprises and excites him. Wonderfully, he takes the situation seriously and really wishes Sam could succeed in his mission.

A must mention is Casey’s boyfriend, Evan. Somehow, Evan seemed to be the most matured guy both in his relationship with Casey and his understanding of Sam. Also, not to forget is Paige, Sam’s trial girlfriend. Her understanding and handling of Sam is marvelous, especially her idea of having a silent prom.

All said and done, Atypical works for the most part. The part it falters is in the handling of emotions in the scenes. Every time, I feel a void in the scene. Is it the writing or is it the actors, I am not sure. You don’t feel completely involved in the scenes. You enjoy them yet it is forgettable. The track of Elsa’s affair is boring and irritating. You don’t feel for Elsa and her needs. Equally irritating is Sam’s friend Zahid. It’s good that Sam is having good friends, but Zahid is extremely irritating and is forced to be funny.

Keir Gilchrist as Sam is amazing. He brings a lot of life to the character. Brigette as Casey is wonderful. The rest of the cast are good enough but not fantastic.

Atypical is a feel good show. It’s not perfect nevertheless there are loads of moments which you would thoroughly enjoy. It gives a different take on autism and at the end, it is very lovable.

Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai (Take 2) [Review]

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Rating: 1/5

I feel immense distress in writing this review. I did my best to postpone reviewing this show, even skip reviewing it. I was in denial to be honest. How can one of the best written comedy shows in the history of Indian Television come up with such a poor script and structure! I remember being on cloud nine when the season 2 of Sarabhai was announced, especially with almost every show currently on Indian TV being either disgusting or bizarre. Hatsoff Productions have always given us magnificent shows in the past with the likes of Khichdi and Baa Bahoo aur Baby. Not to forget the first season of Sarabhai itself. I believed there was no way the writers would mess with the cult status of this show. But I was proved terribly wrong.

Almost everything about Sarabhai Take 2 is wrong. Season 1 worked extremely well for several reasons- Maya’s high class attitude, Monisha’s middle class antics and Rosesh’s weirdly entertaining poems.  These three factors were given in balanced proportions which paved way for the huge success of the show. Take 2 completely messed with this balance. We had an overdose of Rosesh for one. Every scene of his had a poem which seemed to have been written in such haste without any thought. Jasmine, Rosesh’s girlfriend, has to be one of the most irritating characters written by the Hatsoff writers ever. In the beginning, she did seem entertaining with her funny English and giving a strong fight against Maya. But later, it became too much to bear. The simplicity and innocence of Season 1 was a complete miss in Take 2. The story line was never funny. Maya Vs Monisha didn’t have the earlier charisma. Maya was so preoccupied with Jasmine that Maya Vs Monisha took a back seat. Indravadhan was wasted. I missed his one-liners. Sahil looked helpless. His character seemed so different. I couldn’t see the purpose behind including Arnab in the family. He didn’t make any difference to the story line. Only Dushyant and Fufaji were enjoyable.

One of the major success factors of Sarabhai was its situational comedy, clean comedy. Take 2 boasted itself to be clean comedy but took high liberty in using double meaning lines especially from Jasmine. The show being a web series, there is no issue of scrutiny by censor board, yet, these jokes damages the image of Sarabhai. It’s painful to see the wonderful characters reduced to such jokes when they are capable of much more.

Another con for Take 2 is it’s continuous story line instead of it being episodic. I give it. It was an experiment but it didn’t work. I loved the apartments in season 1. The apartments in Take 2 didn’t feel like home. I know it is unfair to compare but it is also inevitable. I felt the show tried very hard to be modern, to be contemporary which was unnecessary in my point of view. They could have stuck to normal family incidents.

The actors were in form, no questions there. They performed their best sticking to their characters. I wish they had a better script.

Having said all the above, when compared to all the awful shows on TV, Sarabhai Take 2 is still watchable. It’s different. It’s online. And there is no meaningless melodrama. It falters badly only when compared to its legacy.

I hope the team learns from their mistakes and give us a better show the next time.

 

Speechless (2016) [Review]

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Rating: 4/5

I have to admit, I didn’t have the greatest first impressions of this show. It looked like any other comedy show based around disability with no boundary for insensitivity. The first episode was too loud and the characters looked superficial. Yet there was something, some factor, some emotion which drew me towards it. Something was definitely pulling me to continue watching this show. I couldn’t figure out what at the beginning, but as the episodes passed, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the show and loving all the characters.

Speechless revolves around the DiMeos, a very dynamic dysfunctional family. JJ, 16, is the eldest son of Jimmy and Maya, is disabled. He is wheel chair bound and cannot speak. He uses a board of words attached to his wheel chair and uses a laser pointer to select the words which he wants to speak. The entire family adjusts their life for JJ. They relocate a lot to find the perfect school for him. Maya, the mother, is loud. She gets her way through by shouting. At the school, she finds Kenneth, whom she appoints to be JJ’s voice. Then starts the roller coaster ride of numerous funny situations and enjoyable unpredictable reactions of the characters which turns the show into a perfect family entertainer. This show, just like I had said for Life in Pieces, isn’t hilarious. But there are so many funny moments mixed with heart-warming family moments which transforms this show to be an extraordinary one. Whatever factors irritate in the first episode turns out to be a fantastic standout features of the characters.

JJ’s disability is definitely the central theme of the show but it is handled with so much care and sensitivity. Full credit to the writers to have depicted it with so much respect yet everything seems normal. The show brilliantly portrays how a family with a disabled member leads a normal life. They don’t sit and lament everyday over their child’s weakness. JJ is such an inspiration. He has accepted his handicap and looks at other things that will make his life happy. He wants to do all the things he can. He doesn’t need pity but knows he is always seen with sympathy. The parents are mostly caught in a dilemma. They don’t want to make JJ feel bad but they don’t want to see him hurt. All these emotions are portrayed so subtly that they come and go, we feel and move on.

Jimmy DiMeo, the father, is a matured man. He handles his dysfunctional family so well. He understands his kids really well and does his best to fulfil their wishes. Maya DiMeo, the mother, is an over protective, loud, attention seeking woman, who argues her way through every problem. Initially, Maya is really irritating, but you get used to it. The mother in her is always on the lookout for her children. JJ DiMeo- I have said a lot about him. He is a happy boy in spite of being a special child. Ray DiMeo, the middle child, is a hyper and stressful boy who becomes nervous all the time. He, like his father, is very matured, more matured for his age. His wants and needs have to be compromised several times for JJ, but after the initial sadness, he is happy for his brother. Dylan, the youngest of the three, is an angry little girl, full of rage and fury. She talks very fast and makes very quick decisions. The three siblings have a wonderful bonding. They give in for each other and care for one another’s happiness. Kenneth, JJ’s voice, is an easy going fun guy. He is confused about his job initially but later understands that he just have to repeat loud what JJ points in his board. Through Kenneth, JJ gets a buddy. In due course, Kenneth becomes like family. Kenneth doesn’t treat JJ as special. He becomes more like his guru, teaching him the realities of life.

The story mostly revolves only around these 6 characters. A situation and loads of confusion. The actors are fantastic, the kids especially. It’s purely a family show. The writers make sure to project the thoughts of the kids wonderfully well. We can see what kind of ideas and fears run in those little minds. Just like adults have their worries and concerns, kids have their own stress too. Kudos to the writers.

I am absolutely loving this show and look forward to it every week. Surprisingly, this show doesn’t air every week and I have no idea about the reason. Nevertheless, do watch this show. It has its heart at the right place.

Life in Pieces (2015 – ) Review

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Rating: 4/5

Seasons: 2 (Ongoing)

I am a HUGE fan of FRIENDS. I love it for the beautiful characters and the wonderful emotions they displayed (Sad to use the past tense L) on screen. The lovely bonding, their day to day struggles in life and their determination to overcome every challenge with the support of their loved ones was what made FRIENDS a supremely memorable show. It still rules our hearts even though it ended like 12 years ago. After FRIENDS, I found great difficultly to find another show which held the same emotions. I did watch How I Met Your Mother and quite liked it but not as much as FRIENDS. Just my personal opinion. Anyways…After watching pilots of many comedy shows and rejecting them instantly, I found Life in Pieces really refreshing. The characters are relatable, the jokes are good (not hilarious though) and the packaging is really nice and different.

Life in Pieces – “One Big Family – Four Short Stories” – That’s the tagline. The show is about the Shorts family. Every episode has four stories which are not connected in anyway. I really liked this idea. A small situation is taken and the characters are dropped in to see how they react. There are no continuous story lines of any sort. Let me get into the characters directly as they are what the show is all about. There isn’t any story to talk about LOL

  1. John and Joan Short- The elder couple. Parents of Matt, Heather and Greg. John is a retired Pilot and Joan is a Therapist. They got divorced in 1980 but are still together. They are in a phase of absolutely freedom and enjoyment. All their kids have settled in life and they are in complete peace. John is mischievous and is always up to doing something weird. Joan is more of a disciplinarian and little old fashioned. They do make a fun couple but at times it becomes too clichéd and cringe-worthy, but not always. A scene where Joan consoles Jen during her miscarriage is one of the most heart warming scenes in the show.
  2. Matt Short and Colleen – Matt is the eldest son of John and Joan. He is a graphic designer. Once married, he falls in love with Colleen and resigns his job as their office doesn’t support colleagues dating. Impressed Colleen but… He lives in his parents’ garage and doesn’t have a regular income. Colleen breaks her engagement with Chad, her roommate. Matt and Chad have some funny confrontations but it becomes boring later. Good, Chad leaves after few episodes. Matt and Colleen make a very good matured couple. They are more like life companions. Colleen’s interactions with Matt’s family are very nice. I particularly liked how she gets the family to sing carols when John feels low missing his friends during Christmas.
  3. Heather and Tim Hughes- Heather is John and Joan’s daughter. Home maker. Her life revolves around her family. Tim is a doctor and a fun loving guy, wife fearing too. They have three kids- Tyler (18), Samantha (14 appx) and Sophie (10 appx). Heather and Tim struggles to grow along with their kids. My favourite is Sophie. She is like more matured than her parents. Her questions are so truthful. Heather is one of my favourite characters. She is the go-to person for almost everyone in the show. She can get hyper but that makes things more enjoyable. Her banter with her mother is something to look forward too.
  4. Greg Short and Jen- My favourite couple. New parents. Their stories are always funny and real. Their struggle to handle the baby is hilarious- dividing tasks among themselves, staying awake through the night, fighting who should get up to handle the crying baby etc. These situations and the way they support each other are very good to see. Jen is the daughter-in-law of the house but the bonding between Heather and Jen and how they get together during some fun plans are wonderful. Greg is the softie. He listens to everyone and is a mother’s boy. He is mostly caught between Jen and Joan and his dilemma is so much fun. But at the end of each case- either Jen or Joan give in.

Life in Pieces isn’t completely “clean”. There are some situations which might not be appropriate for a very young audience. Some sequences could be considered crude or insensitive too. But which show doesn’t have the above? It’s impossible to have clean comedy nowadays. Hence, ignoring the portions which I found “unnecessary”, I am really enjoying this show. I love the fact that the family are so together and share all their happy and sad moments. There are some wonderful relationships which win above all the comedy. This show isn’t hilarious. The characters don’t have funny mannerisms or catch lines. The dialogues aren’t witty enough. Yet, this show has very good family moments, interesting situations and stories and fun filled incidents which makes the show very pleasing to watch. The actors are all so good. Not one is weak compared to the other. If the writers could work harder and bring more witty lines and make the show hilarious rather than just fun, the show has a very long way to go. I have read a lot of comparisons made with Modern Family, but since I haven’t watched that show, I can’t comment much.

If you are looking for a family drama but with no intense story lines, this show will fit perfectly.

P.S: First few episodes aren’t impressive but the show gets better after 3 episodes.