Amazon Prime Review Round Up: Outlander, Bosch and Transparent

I read somewhere (in one of the numerous “Things you should never do on a blog” type things that are out there) that you shouldn’t apologize for lack of blogging unless it’s been a really long time, as it’s boring and no one really cares. So I…won’t? It’s only been a week after all, but I seem to be slacking off lately so I am sorry anyway, so there, blog “rules” overlords! Mostly I’ve been busy, and the weather has just been too gorgeous to ignore. I’m actually getting my hopes up for summer, which is crazily foolish if you’re remotely aware of Scottish weather! After 14 years here this May, and many, many years of hearing the refrain “We’re due for a good summer, Aye, I can feel it, it’s coming!”, only to be let down by another soggy 60 degree summer…. I feel weirdly optimistic this year…so maybe that means I’m turning a bit Scottish?!
Speaking of which, that leads into my first Amazon Prime review this week….the much hyped program Outlander, based on a popular book series in which an English nurse in WWII travels through time via some standing stones in Scotland, back 200 years to the Highlands during their rugged, pre-Jacobite revolutionary times. Anyhoo let’s get this review party started.

Outlander: Ok so I watched the first episode with the o.h. He was irked at some of the dodgy Scottish accents and general stereotypical Scottish stuff. He wasn’t having it. OK so it makes Braveheart seem subtle. Americans are lapping this stuff up as “authentic” no doubt, and I don’t blame them any more than I blame Brits for thinking “Deliverence” is an accurate depiction of the Deep South. I feigned disapproval as well….but then young (ish, the actor who plays him is actually in his 30’s) Jamie appeared, needing his wound bandaged by the “Sassenach” (if you watch you will quickly come to love this word) time traveler Claire, who happened to be a nurse in the British Army. For such a hearty Highlander, Jamie is quite prone to accidents, which requires much sitting by the fire with his shirt off while he is being bandaged…tragic! So yes…somehow this show grew on me!

It’s actually a nicely done love story, oh sure Claire is married in another realm, but her husband hasn’t even been born yet…so it’s all good! The author has created the ultimate get out of jail free bodice ripper here, with a romantic and turbulent historical backdrop. It’s actually filmed in Scotland, which is filmed like a picture postcard and utterly stunning, and the two leads have fantastic chemistry. It also pulls the neat trick of having the actor who plays Claire’s husband Frank in the 1940’s turn up as dastardly, evil Captain Randall in the 1700’s. They play with the time traveler thing enough to make it fun, which helps because there is an awful lot of unpleasantness towards women, this being the time where “witches” were still burned alive in Scotland amongst all of the other atrocities. It’s not a show to be taken terribly seriously, but for escapist romantic period pieces it’s pretty satisfying. I haven’t seen BBC's Poldark but for anyone going through withdrawal as it comes to an end, I think you might find Outlander a very pleasing replacement!


Reasons to watch Outlander...ummm
Share some of that tartan Jamie!


Bosch: an Amazon Originals drama, again based on books. I liked Bosch. The main character is played by Titus Welliver, one of those “What have I seen him in?” actors. He’s very good as Bosch, a rebellious homicide detective with a troubled past in L.A. It’s very Noir-ish and slick, it sometimes feels a tiny bit familiar, but it’s very well played and produced. The first series centered around a serial killer and a 20 year old child murder, with the story-lines interwoven nicely. It also has a lot to do with police and city politics and palm greasing, corruption etc. L.A. feels glossily dark, especially when seen from Bosch's insanely modern glass house in the hills, where he listens to jazz on vinyl (of course!). I really liked Bosch’s relationship with his teenage daughter, it humanizes the lone wolf of a character that sometimes borders on self-destructive. I enjoyed this series and look forward to the next.

Transparent: I’ve been meaning to review this for a while. Jeffrey Tambor won an Emmy for his wonderful portrayal of Mort/Moira, a man who decides to live openly as transgender female after a lifetime battle. Moira has three adult children and an ex-wife played by Judith Light, who is fabulous in this. It’s got that Laurel Canyon, “everything is good we’re a liberal family who talk about everything” vibe, but with a murkier underbelly of the various dark things that happened to the Pfefferman offspring during their formative years. We see in flashbacks to 1994, when the kids were teenagers and Mort was secretly dressing as a woman. The irony being that the issues of the parents really have little to do with what has gone wrong with the kids. Well, a bit of neglect/absence perhaps opened the door. It’s kind of dark and twisted and only hints at some things which confused me a bit. The kids as adults are kind of stunted and basically still act like selfish teenagers, so they’re not the most naturally sympathetic bunch, but it’s so well written you do care about them.

It deals with their dramas as much as Moira’s struggle to find her place in the LGBT community. Moira really struggles to find support, and instinctively still seeks it from her family, who despite trying to be cool with it, fall short of understanding or being there for her on many occasions.They're still expecting her to be their Dad, basically, which is perhaps natural but also problematic. I don’t know why this is classed as a comedy, yes it is darkly funny, but for me it has such heavy issues it really falls solidly into the drama category. At any rate it’s a good familial story, if I had to criticize it I would say that I felt like the whole season was building to some kind of growth or change for everyone, but only Moira really succeeded in that. Which leaves the door open for the next season, because these kids are not all right.

Ok thanks for reading, hope you have a great weekend, we're traveling (not through time...though there is standing stone where we're going...hmm!), to Forres for an in law visit and to catch up with old friends. Must pack, argh, I hate packing for weekends away, I always seem to pack too little or too much - just me? 


4 comments

  1. I've had Bosch on my "to watch" list but haven't been able to pull the trigger. I may need to rethink my current plan of "watching what I know" and give it a try!

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    1. It's definitely worth a watch I think! I'm kind of the same w/the Amazon Originals shows because they can be hit and miss (I thought Extant was kind of a dud) but Bosch is good stuff :-)

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  2. Hi Steff, I have been kinda absent for a bit too. I don't usually apologise for not blogging but usually feel guilty for not getting around to read all my favourite blogs and then even guiltier if I post something while being so behind in my blog reading. Transparent sounds really interesting. Thanks for reviewing it as now I am inclined to give it a try. I read the first three Outlander series books and by the fourth one found it all too boring. I don't do well with a series unless it is Harry Potter. The first one, Outlander, I couldn't put down and it was the first of it's kind that I had ever read. I think it was the best of them all though. I can't bring myself to watch the series because things based on books usually disappoint me. I used to watch Monarch of the Glen all the time for my regular dose of Scottish accents and kilts-lol. Hope your weekend trip is great! xo

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    1. Hi Shawna! I want to read at least the first book just to compare it to the series now, I have heard a few plot details from further along that make it sound like maybe it's better to leave it - I don't know! I do think the two lead actors are very good in it, and it is thoroughly enjoyable. I might be too critical being someone who is constantly reminded of what is and isn't "authentic" in portrayals of this strange land I live in! I certainly related to Claire's fish out of water-ness even in the 21st century! I loved Monarch of the Glen too!

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