Amazon Prime: Review Round Up

So it’s been a little while since I did an Amazon Prime round up, so I thought I would review a few shows that are recently in my rotation. I find I get through so many more shows with this box set bingeing malarkey – not sure how healthy it is for the old backside but until Spring has officially sprung so be it!
On a side note, our Prime loading has gotten very glitchy in the past few days after being perfectly seamless until now. It’s coming up with a content error now at least once or twice during a show and requires re-loading, and just generally being a bit slow. Other half convinced it’s the Talk Talk Wi-Fi, I’m leaning more towards it being the telly as I’ve read numerous complaints about Sony Bravia suddenly acting weird with streaming services out of the blue as it double streams them through its own servers first or something (I’m a tech dunce so have no idea if any of this is relevant). I'm procrastinating contacting Amazon because the last time I tried over the matter of an episode they had not loaded they were utterly unhelpful, and this is way more complex and am sure they will blame the TV and internet first.

Grr. Also I just bought a shiny new Kindle Fire, which streams everything perfectly via Wi-Fi, which does make me think it’s a connection issue with the TV. Anyway, hopefully everyone else’s is working better than mine, here are a few recommendations!

Black Sails (seasons 1-3 on Prime): Ahoy there matey! (sorry, couldn't resist!). There is actually very little pirate speak in this swashbuckling adventure (sad face). To be fair they do have fun with showing the genesis of a few legendary pirate types. I’m onto the beginning of series two now, I have to say the first few episodes of series one were not really my bag. But it’s gotten better. It’s as much to do with the pirate’s landing/trading bay Nassau, run by a feisty lady called Eleanor. Captain Flint, played by Toby Stephens, has the location of a massive Spanish galleon treasure horde.  A sneaky little thief of a pirate, known only as “John” for the first few episodes (can you see where this is going?) has nicked one of the pages of the log. 

There’s also a dastardly yet dashing captain called Vane, who is the main fun of the piece with his Rhett and Scarlett back and forth with Eleanor. To be honest a lot of the pirate plotting stuff is a tiny bit boring to me, my favourite scenes are the Vane/Eleanor ones, also the actor who plays John is very, ahem, watchable and having a lot of fun with the part. Toby Stephens is fine but I’m not that interested in his season one storyline with the Lady he keeps on the island (which they are expanding in flashbacks this season). It’s good and multi-layered storytelling though generally and I would recommend it for adventure fans. Fairly gruesome at times though, fair warning.

The Following (season one on Prime): I had high hopes for this show because I had heard it was amazing. Honestly, I found the whole thing a bit ludicrous. All plausibility goes out the window with this one. Kevin Bacon as the washed up FBI agent is very good, James Purefoy is having fun scenery chewing as the panto serial killer Joe, but I just found it hard to take seriously at times. Joe is a serial killer/Edgar Allen Poe expert/professor (this right here I had problems with –he is teaching at an elite university, which...Poe is like the Tim Burton of literature, fun, gothic, but certainly not treated with reverence in academia the way he is in this show. I don't know, it probably is just me that finds this weird!). And then there’s the rest of it. Cult-ism that has spread far and wide due to the the magnetism of this one man, meaning that crazy, brain washable people are absolutely everywhere, I mean, come on. I don’t know I just found it silly at times. Bacon and Purefoy almost make it worth watching with their scenes together. If you’re into crime thrillers you may well like it, it's maybe just too OTT even for me..

Scandal (seasons 1-3 on Prime): I had been gripped by seasons one and two, then More4 went and dropped it. Honestly what is the point of terrestrial television at this point? Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) is a Washington “fixer” – she basically covers up scandals for a living, but also kind of sets the world to rights too in many instances with everything from kidnappings to murder. Oh and she’s having an affair with the President (this isn’t a spoiler, we learn this in like the first episode of season one).  Anyhoo I was super excited to see season three finally pop up on Prime. And….hmm. I mean, it’s still a fun, popcorn munching government conspiracy doomed romance.  My main problem with this season was that there was very little Pope & Associates action outside of the White House – all of their usual cases were brushed aside in lieu of working on the presidential election, which for me wasn't as gripping. And the introduction of Olivia’s parents just heaped a big old spoonful of conspiracy craziness on top of the finely balanced mix and I’m afraid teetered over into “What the WHAT?!” territory a few too many times for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love plot twists and turns, it’s what got me hooked on this show. But I do think it lost its footing slightly here and got carried away with itself. Plus I’ve gone from rooting for Olivia and Fitz to rooting against them, maybe all part of the master plan of Shonda Rhimes (who could root against Noel from Felicity twice? Are you with me?). And I HATED the Quinn story line with a passion this season. So yeah, not my favourite, but I’m sure I’ll be back for season 4, because Cyrus (sad face – if you watch you’ll see) and Mellie are still fun. I just hope they get the Pope story lines in order; they’re all over the shop at this point. At any rate I HIGHLY recommend seasons one and two, they’re great and the episodic case fixing/solving is much more fun than season three’s flat out trip to conspiracy crazy town.

Alpha House (Amazon Originals, seasons one-three): Also set in Washington D.C., but far more light hearted. It stars John Goodman as one of four D.C. Republican senators living in a flat together (I guess real estate prices there are as bad as Aberdeen?!). At any rate, it’s a cute concept, and being written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau (not sure if it made it to Britain,  it was a very funny, long running political cartoon in the States that sadly finished a few years ago), it automatically has great promise. The characters are well drawn and really grew on me. I feel that it represents both political parties fairly though it does pillory the (cough numerous ;-) absurd Republican-isms, all of the characters are likable in their own way. It’s a smart, light hearted satire on the American political system. I really enjoyed it more as it went along and I hope they do another season.

Sleepy Hollow (season one on Prime, tapping toes impatiently as we speak Amazon for season two!): 
Oh where do I begin? Take every version of Sleepy Hollow you’ve ever seen and toss it out the window. In this version, Ichabod (played by the swoon-some Tom Mison), is not a cowardly scholar, but a dashing British soldier in the American Revolutionary War. He has changed allegiance to America, has a run in with a certain headless horseman, and dies. Cut to 200 and a bit years later, when he is awakened from his grave in the modern day town of Sleepy Hollow, where not coincidentally the headless horseman has risen again. Crane’s knowledge of the situation is smartly assessed as valuable by local police officer Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), despite his inexplicable back story. The two become unlikely allies in a battle against not just the horseman, but the apocalypse itself. What really makes this show is the fine balance of light hearted humour, mostly revolving around Ichabod’s fish out of water situation. 

Ichabod and Abbie have one of those banter filled friendships that of course people “ship” romantically because they’re just so good together, but of course Ichabod has a wife who is a (good?) witch buried in Purgatory so is not completely out of the picture. We see flashbacks of his life in the Revolutionary War era alongside the modern day story line. There’s plenty of supernatural problem solving along the way – if you are a fan of shows like Supernatural I would say you might enjoy this, it’s perhaps a bit less dark though it seems to be building to a darker season 2. It’s one of my favourite new shows in a long time. It’s occasionally scary, often funny, and just plain enjoyable. 

Devious Maids: (seasons one and two on Prime): Developed by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry from a Mexican series, this show has eerily similar music, tone and filming style to Desperate Housewives. I’m sure this is deliberate, the first few times I watched it I found it a bit jarring though and kept expecting Lynette or Brie to pop around the corner! Like Desperate Housewives, it focuses on suburbia, but this time in more chi chi neighbourhoods where everyone has a maid. The maids are the central dramatic focus, with their employers often being the source of drama as well. It’s kind of camp and black humoured at once in the same way Desperate Housewives was, but feels distinctly less grounded in any kind of reality. Each season has a deep dark secret at its core that must be unraveled, along with all of the other various dramas that are playing out. It’s not something I feel invested in but it can be good veg out television if that’s your bag. It lacks enough stand out characters to root for that kept Desperate Housewives from becoming too silly at times. It’s a bit Scooby Doo with the villains and and mysteries, but it’s also kind of fun in a totally non-taxing way.

Ok well that’s enough for now I think! What are you enjoying streaming just now? Oh Happy St. Patrick's Day America! Enjoy your soda bread and corned beef and cabbage! Thanks for reading :-)




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