*TV SERIES RECAP: THE KOMINSKY METHOD (Season 3)

After binging the first two seasons during the early days of the pandemic slash lockdown, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how charming and funny this series was. So I was anxiously looking forward to this third and final season.

Sadly, Alan Arkin (Norman) decided to abruptly retire from acting, throwing a major monkey wrench to this series. As a result, Chuck Lorre and his writing team had no choice but to kill off Norman — that was a bummer. The chemistry between Norman and Sandy (Michael Douglas) made things unique and special in the first 2 seasons. 

So at the start of season 3 we find out that Norman is now dead, and the grieving premise from the first 2 seasons is again one of the main themes here. We also find out that Norman left Sandy as the executor of his state, leaving Norman’s daughter Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein) and her son Robby (Haley Joel Osment) dependent on Sandy to have access to their inheritance. Plus, Phoebe and her son Robby keep coming up with all kinds of crazy schemes to get their hands on Norman’s money. 

Additionally, Norman left sandy’s daughter Mindy (Sarah Baker) a big chunk of cash in his will — but Sandy doesn’t want Mindy’s boyfriend Martin (Paul Reiser) to know about it. Sandy is concerned that Martin will exploit Mindy’s inheritance. At the same time, the age difference between Mindy and Martin becomes a significant component of the plot. Sarah Baker’s performance continues to be a bright spot here. Also, Estelle (Christine Ebersole) Martin’s mom shows up, creating tension in Mindy and Martin’s relationship. Estelle is awful, mean, and nasty — she is a monster. 

Notwithstanding all the grief, loss, and stress surrounding Sandy’s life, he is also undergoing a late-career resurgence and gets the role of a lifetime. On top of all that, his ex-wife Dr. Roz (Kathleen Turner), returns home to be reunited with her daughter Mindy. I really liked how Dr. Roz got a more prominent role in this 3rd season. In addition, I was beyond happy to see how the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner is still magic. It was like watching a Romancing the Stone (1984) and The Jewel of the Nile (1985) reunion between Douglas and Turner. Another highlight for me was Morgan Freeman hilariously playing himself.                                                                                   

At its core, this season continues to tackle the same themes from the first two seasons. It deals head-on with real human issues like the fragility of aging, mortality, and grief — all of those things come together beautifully along with the comedic premise of the show. 

The first 2 seasons got lots of Emmy nominations, and it received high critical acclaim. But this third season did not receive as much appreciation as the first two. For one, the absence of Alan Arkin made a difference — I missed the back and forth banter between Sandy and Norman; It was a crucial component of the unique “dramedy” basis of the series. However, Chuch Lorre and his writing team did find a way to wrap things up and bring the story to a close.

All in all, season 3 suffers from not having Norman back, but the series, as a whole, is pretty enjoyable and worth binging straight through.

Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿

THE KOMINSKY METHOD Season 3 (Streaming on Netflix).

*TV SERIES RECAP: ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (Season 1)

First, I have to get something off my chest. I think that it should not be allowed for streaming platforms to release episodes of their shows on a week-to-week basis…… Okay, there I said it.

After watching the first two episodes, I really wanted to binge the fuck out of this series in one or two sittings, but I made the mistake of starting this series right smack in the middle of its initial week-to-week release back in September. As a result, I had to suffer and wait every week for a new episode to drop.

Anyhow, this is a charming murder-crime mystery type of show with lots of whimsical comedy. Two great comedy legends, Steve Martin and Martin Short reunite for some brilliant stuff here. The chemistry between Steve Martin and Martin Short has always been pure fire, case in point, the Father of the Bride series, Three Amigos, Broadway shows, and a few other things along the way.

The story takes place at the Arconia apartment building, an upscale NYC co-op in the Upper West Side. Steve Martin is Charles Haden-Savage, an actor best known for playing a TV detective in the 90s. Charles lives alone; he seems lonely and bored. Martin Short is Oliver Putnam, a washed-up broadway director, and producer— Oliver is struggling to keep up with his UWS lifestyle and is in desperate need of money. Also, Selena Gomez joins our legendary duo as Mabel Mora, a mysterious young girl living in the same building.

The central premise here surrounds the murder of Tim Kono (Julian Cihi), a resident of the Arconia who is found dead in his apartment. The circumstances of his murder are highly suspicious. At the same time, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel share an interest and passion for true crime podcasts, and they decide to join forces to solve the murder of their fellow neighbor.

Armed with a handful of clues, the three of them start their own investigation and their own podcast chronicling their investigation. There are layers and layers of intrigue sprinkled throughout the entire 10 episodes of the first season.

Sometimes, the performances are a bit over the top — somewhat typical of Martin and Short, but it all works nicely. Surprisingly, Selena Gomez steps into this already established chemistry and holds her own. The generational gap between them is what drives things here. There is a sense of sadness and loneliness from these three characters — which pulls them towards each other.

The Arconia building is a crucial component of the series; it is a character by itself with many moving parts. The building residents are also important characters; they are all pretty weird and eccentric. Nathan Lane is outstanding here; his scenes with Martin and Short are remarkable. Sting playing a fictionalized version of himself is hilarious.

I liked how the show focused on the recent growth of true-crime podcast culture and made it part of the actual amateur crime-solving storyline. Even the Hardy Boys young adult mystery series is featured prominently in the show.

Only Murders in the Building is a delightful and entertaining show. It is a very New York-driven show, especially if you live in NYC. It is diverse, progressive, and although exaggerated at times, it still comes off as realistic enough. You can’t help rooting for these characters and their delusional detective skills. I cannot wait for season 2 — spoiler alert, the final episode sets up next season’s murder mystery. It is definitely one of the best and most satisfying shows of 2021.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

Only Murders in the Building (2021). Streaming on HULU.

*TV SERIES RECAP: RATCHED (Season 1)

I genuinely appreciate the type of shows Ryan Murphy puts together. He is at the forefront of a powerful movement happening right now in the creative fields of show business. I see him as a crucial part of this new creative force that seems fully committed to reinventing Hollywood as an industry—and reinventing how entertainment is being produced and presented to the world.

Ratchet is an origin story, told in a Ryan Murphy way, adding a modern sensibility to a period piece, along the same lines as Murphy’s Hollywood Netflix series. It is a highly stylized TV show with extensive uses of colors and fantastic location shots. It is a very visual show, with excellent production quality, set designs, costumes, and cinematography. There are many Hitchcock and David Lynch influences in it — Simply put, it is visually a beautiful show to watch.

The character of Nurse Mildred Ratchet (Sara Paulson) was Introduced to audiences in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. This nurse Ratched character was originally played by Louise Fletcher, a performance for which she won an Academy Award for best actress. Interestingly enough, I heard Louise Fletcher was never approached regarding the revival of her character.

Nurse Ratchet is portrayed as a mysterious and psychologically damaged person trying to save her adopted brother Edmund (Finn Wittrock) from execution after murdering a bunch of priests. She manipulates her way into a mental facility where Edmund is being held to determine his mental capacity. Once inside the hospital, nurse Ratched will devise a plan to free her stepbrother.

The mental facility is run by Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones), an eccentric doctor who believes in unconventional mental rehabilitation methods. For example, he believes lesbianism is a mental disorder and can be cured by extreme methods like putting women in a boiling hot bath, followed by a freezing cold bath. He also puts patients under lobotomy procedures to cure them of whatever he perceives to be mental disorders.

There are many compelling and redeeming qualities to nurse Ratched, more so than in the 1975 film. I started viewing her as this monster in the making, and as I finished binge-watching the show, I unexpectantly began rooting for her. We explore things from her past that allow us to become more empathetic to her. We see how sexual abuse and mental illness can be linked together. The character Gwendolyn (Cynthia Nixon) comes off as the most believable real-life character here; Gwendolyn allows nurse Ratched to appear a lot more relatable and human.

The supporting cast is incredible. Nurse Bucket (Judy Davis) delivers a magnetic performance. Lenore (Sharon Stone) is great as this bizarre, super-rich diva, hell-bent on revenge on Dr. Hanover. Corey Stoll plays a 1940s Humprey Bogart type of private detective, hired by Lenore to hunt down Dr. Hanover. Amanda Plummer is a scene-stealer as this weird and possibly deranged motel receptionist. Nurse Dolly (Alice Englert) delivers a seductive and captivating performance.

As I finished binge-watching this first 8 episode season, I realized that Paulson is exploring something psychologically profound with this role. It seems to me that she is approaching this character in a unique and sophisticated way.

All in all, Ratchet is an extravagant, outrageous, and at times ridiculously insane show to watch, but it is incredibly entertaining, and I could not get enough of it. I’m looking forward to season 2.

Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿

RATCHED (2020). Streaming on NETFLIX.

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