TV Show: The Mandalorian – Season I (Disney +, 2020)

If you look at the Star Wars Universe nowadays, it’s difficult. Maybe some of you wondered that there are no reviews about the past movies. For some reasons: Since Rogue One, Disney releases Solo and the last two Episode’s of the Skywalker saga (VIII, IX). For me Solo wasn’t that bad movie but in case of Episode VIII almost everything goes wrong.

In case of Solo, A Star Wars Story we saw a background story of Han Solo. Some hints of that story you can find in the old triology. The legendary Kessel Run (“In less than twelve parsecs”) or the story how Han get’s the Millenium Falcon from Lando. Yes, you can tell these background story’s, but as a fan of the old triology it might be better to hold them back (For some kind of mistery). In case of Disney, they want to make the most of them and that’s not a good thing. The new triology (VII – IX) is the best example. “The Force Awakens” feels like a simple copy of “A New Hope” and “The Last Jedi” destroy ‘s everything we liked from the old triology. It’s very difficult to take it seriously. Since 2015 we saw five different Star Wars movies. That’s a lot.

As “Solo, A Star Wars Story” doesn’t provide that expected sucess, Disney made a strategy switch. The plannend Boba Fett movie was canceled and transformed into a live action tv series. Because of the lower risc and the possiblities in tv shows nowadays that could be a great decission. “The Mandalorian” was born. It’s not a story about the most famous Bounty Hunter Boba Fett, it’s a story of an unknown Mandalorian. The thing is, The Mandalorian isn’t a bad tv show. It has some great ideas. In mind here some examples: The opening bar scene, the java sand crawler return, some amazig desert views, Nick Nolte’s character as Kuiil or the so called “Baby Yoda”. The show starts a bit rough and most of the episodes are about less then 30 minutes. I guess that’s also the reason why Disney called it a live action tv show. And here is the first critic, The Mandalorain suffers about content. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea to tell something new, but could it be better with Boba Fett? I guess it could. To bring old characters back could be great idea, if you look back to “Rogue One”. The most important thing here is to find the right balance between old and new content. In some cases The Mandalorian looks a bit uninspired, if you look forward to the last section of season one. As an example the returned droid IG-11 played by Taika Waititi. He died in the first episode and returned as a service droid instead of a mercenary. With Kuiil it’s similar and that’s a bit sad because it was a character with some potential.

The Mandalorian should be a space western, that space western that Solo, A Star Wars Story couldn’t be. And yes in some points it’s that kind of space western, but it could be way better. The reference here is Firefly from Joss Wheden. Both the tv show and the follow-on movie delivers a perfect balance between humor, characters and a story that’s worth it to be told. In case of Mandalorain it’s a bit diffcult. Without the Star Wars branding it’s only a further science fiction tv show and I don’t believe with the same attention.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

TV Show: The Grand Tour (Amazon Video, Season I)

Top Gear is dead, long live The Grand Tour! After a conflict with one of the producers in 2015, the BBC decides to terminate his Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson. In the last decade Top Gear reached a cult status in the UK with a large audience. Right after the announcement the audience protest against the termination in form of a petition. But the BBC don’t change the decision. So it was clear that season 22 was the last one with Jeremy Clarkson. Because of Clarksons termination Richard Hammand and James May also quit thier contracts with the BBC.

After that, the BBC announced to continue Top Gear with a completely new team. The new season starts in 2016 and received much criticism. I can’t say what’s so special about Clarkson (The Gorilla), Richard Hammond (The Dwarf) and James Mey (Captian Slow), but the interaction and jokes are gorgeous. It’s that kind of British humor that wasn’t political correct in every way. All three are completely different characters. Over the years they build thier own characteristics. Carkson has the opinion, that he can do all with speed. That’s totally in contrast to James, with his special name Captian Slow. However Hammand thinks he will not be old. For the spectator these elements are very fimilar. For me Top Gear was at its best with the special episodes. These long road trips have really made fun! But thats not all, there was still our tame racing driver with more than 100 descriptions – The Stig and the Star guest with one lap at the Top Gear track in a cheap car. All these elements makes Top Gear outstanding as a car show. But how it goes on with The Grand Tour…?

After his termination Clarkson decides to create his own new car show together with his mates Hammand and May. Finally they find a new home on Amazon Video. The streaming service engage them and made a contract about three seasons. The new show called: The Grand Tour. The show started in November last year. Something has changed and something not. Let us start with the changes: Now, the team has a mobile studio in form of a tent. Every week they stream from a new country. The star in a cheap car doesn’t longer exist, because The Grand Tour was not allowed to copy elements from BBC’s Top Gear. That’s also the case with “The News” now “Conversation Street” and “The Stig” now “The American”. And here starts the small critic about The Grand Tour. In some ways they want to copy Top Gear without actually creating something new. And yes, normally the copy isn’t as good as the original. That’s the case with “The American”. The cool thing with “The Stig” was his emotion, or the non-emition because you can’t see through his helmet. This leads to some fun scenes! What doesn’t changes was the interaction between Clarkson, Hammand and May and that’s a good thing, even if they sometimes forget to make a car show.

The Grand Tour isn’t the good old Top Gear, but I believe they will be better with every episode. The start was a little bit rough because the audience have to accept all the changes. But after the first episodes the great moments are back. The idea to change the country every week was great because every country has it’s own mentality and also about cars. I’m looking forward to season two and the new special episodes. The success gives Amazon right, so the BBC will be annoyed…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

TV Show: Red Oaks (Amazon Video, Season I-II)

In the past view years TV Shows becomes more and more popular. Nowadays self produced TV Shows by Netflix or Amazon are the new streaming stars. I will not say that the typical block buster movie is dead, but good produced TV Shows reached a new quality. One of these self produced shows is Amazon’s Red Oaks a coming of age comedy which takes place in the 80s. The decision to like or dislike a new show will normally set in the first two episodes.

The pilot episode of Red Oaks introduce the main characters and the story perfectly. If you like the setting you will know how it goes on. The main story is about David Meyers (Craig Roberts) who takes a side job as a tennis teacher in the Red Oaks Country Club during his summer holidays. The members of the country club are often rich and elitist. David’s father Sam (Richard Kind) would like that his son becomes a Financial Accountant to enter his office, but David is completely undecided about his future plans. As he started as a tennis teacher at Red Oaks he works together with leader Nash (Ennis Esmer). Nash introduce David in the world of the rich and beauties from Red Oaks. This constellation takes place in great moments! Also the battle between Nash and Skip (Golf Professional) is totally awesome.

For David, season one leads to some changes. His relationship to Karen (Gage Golightly) does not work as good as in the past and his parants take a break. As he started at Red Oaks as a tennis teacher he early met the club president Doug Getty. Getty was played by Paul Reiser. David notes, that he is not the man that you would like as a enemy. Unfortunately David looks up to Getty’s daughter Skye (Alexandra Socha). So, anger is pre-programmed! Red Oaks provides besides the main story also side stories between Weeler (Chef of parking service) and Misty (Lifeguard) and also David’s parents.

Yes, Red Oaks has this special 80s look and feel and yes, it is a little bit trashy but these elements makes the show great. The setting and the characters are great, the comedy elemets are charming and the short 20-30 minutes episodes fly by. I would like to see more about Red Oaks, hopefully in Season 3.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

TV Show: Sherlock (BBC One, Season I – III)

The old detective stories from Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr. Watson were often filmed in the past. There are two newer movies by Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. John Watson. But one of the main differences between the movies and the new tv show is the time period. While the movies represented the original time era from writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the new BBC TV Show plays in the modern times of London.

This scenario brings a lot of new possibilities for the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Another difference is the format. Normally a TV Show episode provides a length of 40-60 minutes but the Sherlock episodes has the lengh of a feature film (90 minutes). I would like to introduce just the basics of the show and avoid some spoilers. The main actors will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Imitation Game) as Sherlock and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Fargo) as Dr. John Watson.

At the beginning of the series the main characters set up a commune in london city. The new home of both, the traditional 221b Baker Street. The stories are mainly based on the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a modern touch. At the beginning of the show they introduced the main characters. Holmes a intelligent young man with the ability to known things much earlier then his colleagues and Dr. Watson an old war veteran with a trauma. The great strengh about Sherlock is the interaction between the main characters. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman interact perfectly together. But that’s not all. Sherlock has also an older brother called Mycroft played by Mark Gatiss and he works for the government. In some cases he needs the help of Sherlock to solve problems. The small desputes of both brothers were represented very enjoyable. But every hero needs a miscreant. In this way it was played by Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty. I will not reveal to much about Moriarty but what I can say is, he is definitly crazy! And there is also room for a small love story between Sherlock and Mooly Hoper played by Louise Brealey, a pathologist at St. Bart’s Hospital occasionally assists him in his cases. It is very clear that Mooly has feelings about Sherlock, but he is not very interessted in love.

One of the main problems of the show is like every other good tv show: If you are into it you can’t stop to watch it. Yes the format is different you’ve got 3 episodes per season, but that’s all and you have to wait more than 2 years for another season because the main cast has also other movie projects. But this year there are good news for Sherlock fans like me. In December Sherlock comes back to the program with a special episode. This episode is excluded from the main story and acts in the vicorian era of london. I’m very exited about the setting. Hopefully this new epidode can cut down the time until Season 4 comes out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.