Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Herrens Veje’ and ‘First Reformed’

‘HERRENS VEJE’ (‘RIDE UPON THE STORM’) (NETFLIX) Series creator Adam Price previously gave the world the infectious and intelligent show “Borgen,” which portrayed the fictional first woman prime minister and launched the international career of actress Sidse Babett Knudsen. Here he takes the same attention to detail he showed to Danish politics and applies it [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘After Life’ and ‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’

‘AFTER LIFE’ (NETFLIX) Appreciating the work of Ricky Gervais has always hinged on your taste, and even then, some of his efforts over the years seem to have lost him fans. His problem is that he’s always pushing the boundaries of good taste in ways that some people find mean-spirited, focusing his comedy on concepts [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘A Very Secret Service’ and ‘Now He’s Out in Public’

‘A VERY SECRET SERVICE’ (NETFLIX) The words “spy comedy” evoke something very specific, but this French period comedy delivers something deliciously outside of those restrictions. Taking place in the early 1960s and featuring an attention to period detail that rivals “Mad Men,” “A Very Secret Service” follows the experience of Andre Merlaux (Hugo Becker) as [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: “Quicksand” and “Rillington Place”

‘QUICKSAND’ (NETFLIX) School mass shootings aren’t quite a daily occurrence here in the U.S., but it’s sadly gotten to a point where you could imagine that happening. This Swedish series doesn’t come from that depressing reality. Sweden has faced eight school mass shootings since 1967, while in our own country there have been 148 just [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘51 Birch Street’ and ‘Making A Murderer’

’51 BIRCH STREET’ (APPLE, SUNDANCE) Thank goodness for people who like to work out their problems in public, because they have single-handedly enlivened the dysfunctional family documentary genre, and I’m a sucker for those. In “51 Birch Street,” filmmaker Doug Block mourns the death of his mother and then is blindsided when his father decides [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Nico 1988’

‘BODYGUARD’ (NETFLIX) If you want tense, exciting, hard-to-predict crime conspiracy stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, British television writer Jed Mercurio should be your go-to guy. His series, “Line of Duty,” a labyrinthine display of tension and amazing guest performances in the setting of a police internal affairs investigation unit, is [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ and ‘Requiem’

‘AT ETERNITY’S GATE’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) It seems obvious from the moment he appears on the screen that Willem Dafoe was meant to play Vincent Van Gogh, even though there’s nothing particularly Van Gogh-ish about his appearance. And yet, as he wanders through the fever dream of “At Eternity’s Gate,” Dafoe is [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Transferts’ and ‘Vox Lux’

TRANSFERTS (NETFLIX) There are two behaviors in science fiction that humans will never disappoint with. One is that if there is an advance in technology that extends life or youth in any way whatsoever, it will only be available to rich people. Another is that if humans have any reason to hate and persecute the [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Border’ and ‘Watership Down’

‘BORDER’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) There’s something about “Border” that made me think of the current DNA craze, the impulse by people to find the answers to themselves within their own genetic structure. Looking for your ancestry is one way of asking, “Who am I?” especially in a world where we fabricate race [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ and ‘The Cry’

‘ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT’ (NETFLIX) Much has been made of this true-crime documentary in regards to the victim and her parents, with the idea that only stupidity on the part of Mary Ann and Bob Broberg could explain their gullibility in falling for the manipulations of sociopathic pedophile Robert Berchtold that led to his abduction [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘1983’ and ‘Bancroft’

‘1983’ (NETFLIX) This Polish series is alternative history science fiction, telling the story of a dystopian world where the Iron Curtain never fell and Poland is the center of the universe, but in doing so, manages to ask some more subtle questions about political control that are rewarding over the course of the series. The [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ and ‘Roma’

‘BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH’ (NETFLIX) My viewing experience with “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is not the same as your viewing experience with “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” but that’s the way it was designed. Or maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe our experiences are more alike than we think. Maybe it was never designed to be that different from each [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Flowers’ and ‘Tabula Rasa’

‘FLOWERS’ (NETFLIX) It might take a few episodes to get into the rhythm of “Flowers.’ That’s what I required, but once I had cracked the code, I was its prisoner. Initially, a quirky shock-style comedy that reveled in its rudeness, “Flowers” progresses into something entirely different, taking the basic cliches it presents up front and [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Ministry of Time’ and ‘Three Identical Strangers’

“The Ministry of Time” (Netflix) This unassuming, slightly clunky, but entirely affable and often surprising Spanish science fiction show sits in an unnoticed corner of Netflix, away from most people’s sights, much like the central location of the series itself. But much like the secret headquarters of “The Ministry of Time,” bumbling upon it yields [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘3%’ and ‘The Rain’

‘3%’ (NETFLIX) In some ways a YA dystopian novel that skipped publication and went straight to television instead, “3%” is a Brazilian series depicting a means by which undesirables are selected out of society and placed in an exclusive society on an idyllic island. Or, basically, it’s a fable for income inequality, something that I [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Ramblin’ Freak’ and ‘Wild Wild Country’

‘RAMBLIN’ FREAK’ (AMAZON, APPLE, VUDU) Neither the title nor the premise of the documentary, “Ramblin’ Freak,” gives much insight to what the film is about and if you take your cue from either, you’re probably going to be wrong. Sold on Amazon as a documentary about a guy who decides to take a road trip [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: “The Man Who Would Be Polka King” and “The Sheik”

‘THE MAN WHO WOULD BE POLKA KING’ (NETFLIX) A recent Jack Black dramatization of the crimes of polka singer Jan Lewan has shined a recent spotlight on this 2009 documentary, and that’s a great thing since it’s an infinitely superior version of the story. During a time when we are trying to push uplifting tales [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: “A Gray State” and “Wormwood”

‘A GRAY STATE’ (APPLE, NETFLIX) At a time when reality is dismissed as “fake news” in favor of “alternative facts,” “A Gray State” functions well as a cautionary tale of allowing such reality dysmorphia to take control of your life. But that’s only part of a cocktail that turns deadly for David Crowley and, most [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Dark’ and ‘Jordskott’

‘DARK’ (NETFLIX) Being called “Dark,” you’re not going to expect this German series to be a chipper pick-me-up, but the title possibly hints at something it is not. Dark implies darkness, which implies horror and monsters, and in some of the lazier tropes of today, that’s what you would get. Not so with this meticulously [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ and ‘The Unknown Girl’

‘PHILIP K. DICK’S ELECTRIC DREAMS’ (AMAZON) Adapted from the shorter works of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, “Electric Dreams” covers the author’s typical concerns about what reality is and where humanity begins — Dick was particularly fascinated by artificial intelligence and hallucinogens. Translating these into a modern anthology series which takes some cues from “Black Mirror,” [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Bonus Family’ and ‘Obit’

‘BONUS FAMILY’ (NETFLIX) One of my favorite things about watching foreign series is the chance to learn about little differences in their daily experiences. For instance, in “Bonus Family,” I discovered that in Sweden, some people apparently add ketchup to their spaghetti and sauce. This was a bombshell, of course, but there’s plenty more to [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Alias Grace’ and ‘Clair Obscur’

‘Alias Grace’ (Netflix) Margaret Atwood had already made a splash on television earlier this year with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which imagines a dystopian America where women are second-class citizens whose entire being is defined by their usefulness to men. It was excellent viewing, but the obvious question remains — do you really have to imagine such a [...]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Broken’ and ‘Voyeur’

“BROKEN” (BRITBOX) I’d like to say I’m surprised the BBC series, “Broken,” hasn’t gotten more attention, but I suppose I’m not. I think the reason it hasn’t has a lot to do with what makes it such a superior drama and one that I recommend over most others this past year. “Broken” focuses on the [...]

Charles Forsman: It’s the End of the Effing World

When the television show “The End of the Fucking World” debuted on British television in October, it was greeted with unanimous rave reviews. Less known amidst the acclaim is the show’s Berkshire origins: It is based on a comic book created by Adams-based cartoonist Charles “Chuck” Forsman. Forsman’s 2013 graphic novel follows troubled teenagers James [...]