Showing posts with label TV series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV series. Show all posts

Thursday, June 2, 2022

"Downton Abbey: A New Era" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Downton Abbey movie - "Downton Abbey: A New Era," as well as the movie "Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the TV series "Physical."]

This blog post represents a turning point for Rosy the Reviewer.  

It represents the first time I have been back in a movie theatre since Covid and the Stay-At-Home order, two and one half years ago.  I vividly remember the last movie I saw in the theatre - "Emma."  Watching and reviewing that film, I had no idea what was to come. And then, when Covid hit, that closed up theatre in my small town was a constant reminder of what used to be, because that movie poster stayed on the outside of that closed theatre for almost two years.

But now I'm back at the theatre! And you faithful Rosy the Reviewer fans will recognize the old format.  

When I first started this blog back in 2013, I published twice a week.  On Tuesdays I would rant about retirement, life, how not to get a bad table at a restaurant, talk about fashion and ruminate on how I would do on "Naked and Afraid" or to throw out questions like "Will Your Husband Cheat?"( Okay, I feel your judgment but even the best of us can't be serious and depressed about the state of the world all of the time. We have to have some fun some time).

And then on Fridays I would publish a review of a current movie showing in the theatre along with "The Week in Reviews," DVDs and TV shows I watched that week as well as a book review and reviews of concerts or restaurants. I can't believe I was as prolific as I was but I stuck to that schedule for years.  Then I moved into just the once a week Friday movie and DVD reviews and then Covid hit, so my blog changed again - talking about the virus and reviewing what I was able to watch at home.  

And, by the way, thank you Netflix, Prime, Hulu and you other platforms.  You stepped up and offered us so much content I certainly didn't miss out on movies and TV shows.  But then something else strange happened.  I stopped thinking of myself as a moviegoer. Why go out when I could stay at home, drink wine, eat snacks and wear my jammies and still watch movies?

So pros and cons of going out to the movies?

Pros - I get to see the movie right when it comes out on a big screen with great sound.

Cons - Twenty minutes of previews, people talking behind me or sitting next to me and coughing, no wine.


But here I am again.  This is a turning point.  Will I go back to my weekly forays out to the theatre?  Not sure but at least my beautiful toes have touched back in (and believe it, I have nice toes!)

So let's get on with it and celebrate.  And there is something to celebrate.  If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you will no doubt love this latest movie version.  And even if you were not a fan in the past, give it a try.  Enter this other world of privilege and forget your troubles for a couple of hours.

Only In Theatres

Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)

Hollywood comes calling to Downton.

As the film begins, it is now 1929 and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton) are getting married (fans will remember that Tom was Lord and Lady Grantham's family chauffeur, who married their daughter Sybil, who died in childbirth). And as the camera pans up the aisle of the church, fans will be happy to see all of their favorite characters. There is Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) with her characteristic seriousness and sometimes disapproving scowl; dithering Lord Granthan (Hugh Bonneville) and beautiful Lady Grantham (Elizaabeth McGovern); and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) as well as Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton) and all of the servants we have come to know and love. Everyone is back and they are all presided over by Violet Grantham (Maggie Smith), or Old Lady Grantham, as she is often referred to.   

In the first film version, the King and Queen paid a visit.  This time, Lord Grantham has been asked to allow a film to be made at Downton.  Naturally, he is aghast at such a thought, but Lady Mary, who has mostly taken over running Downton, reminds her father that the roof is leaking and Downton needs repairs that they cannot afford.  So it is decided that the film will happen. Despite some reservations by some of the servants, most are all aflutter at meeting movie stars Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock).

At the same time, Violet tells the family that she has inherited a villa in the South of France from a past admirer and she wants to give to Sybby (Fifi Hart), Tom's young daughter, since she is the only one who will not get a big inheritance.  But the identity of the admirer and why he would give Lady Grantham a villa is mystifying to everyone so off most of the family goes to see what's up with that villa...and to get away from those vile movie people.

So the film goes back and forth between those two plot lines - the making of the movie and the investigation of the villa and all of the characters get some screen time and a storyline, though some more than others.  Lots of characters, lots of storylines, all packed into just a little over two hours.

The movie storyline has a familiar plot that fans of "Singin in the Rain" will recognize.  The film being made at Downton is a silent film but talkies are taking over so the film is shut down until someone gives Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), the director, the idea to turn it into a talkie.  But here's the problem.  The beautiful leading lady has a voice like a truck driver.  What to do?  At the same time, the leading man is attracted to Barrow and makes him an offer he can't refuse.

In the South of France, while investigating the villa and it's former owner, Lord Grantham discovers something about his mother's past that upsets him.

Written by Julian Fellowes and directed by Simon Curtis, it's all very British, very proper and, though there are some surprises and some tears, it's very slow-moving. But that's okay. While watching, I couldn't help but hear the booming of the new "Top Gun" movie playing next door, and I couldn't help but see the dichotomy between the two films, the contrast between the time we live in now and Downton Abbey time. Yes, this movie moved at a snails pace and had no breathtaking cinematic tricks or heart-stopping acrobatics, but we fans of Downton Abbey don't care if the story moves slowly and the film lacks excitement, because we are here for a quieter experience, to revisit characters we care about and to go back to a time of civility, something that seems sadly lacking these days. And that's what we got.

Rosy the Reviewer says...just what Downton Abbey fans would expect and an enjoyable break from modern day turmoil that brought back some happy memories.  I was actually there at Highclere Castle where Downton is filmed, and when I was in that iconic drawing room, I touched every sofa and every curtain! It was fun for me watching the movie and remembering that day!

Now On DVD and Streaming

When her estranged father dies, a single mom inherits his farm where she and her two kids discover his connection to the original Ghostbusters.

The film begins with a high speed chase and the man being chased uses everything at his disposal to get away from the unseen forces chasing him. He is killed but he leaves a mysterious device behind.

Fast forward - Callie (Carrie Coon), the man's daughter, has inherited his farm and moves in with her two kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace). The farm is clearly in disrepair and they discover that her father was heavily involved with the paranormal. And guess what?  The house is haunted! That mysterious device her father left behind is a ghost trap and when Callie pushes the button, she unleashes a monster.  

Phoebe discovers that her grandfather was Egon Spengler (played by Harold Ramis, in the original "Ghostbusters," and who sadly is no longer with us) one of the original Ghostbusters, and with her round glasses and interest in science, Phoebe looks like him and is clearly meant to carry on her grandfather's legacy as is Trevor, who finds the old Ghostbusters car in his grandfather's garage.

The kids end up riding around in that car fighting off the forces of evil and end up in jail.  When they ask for a phone call, the cop asks...wait for it...all together now..."Who ya gonna call?"

I usually have an aversion to precocious kids but Trevor and Phoebe are engaging young actors. Maybe I am getting soft. And Carrie, you are not in "The Gilded Age" anymore, and actually she is much better as a modern mom. Paul Rudd plays a local seismologist who seems to be channeling Rick Moranis from the original film.

And that's what is going on here.  Lots and lots of nostalgia for the original film.  It is even directed by Jason Reitman, who is the son of Ivan, who directed that first "Ghostbusters." As with most sequels, this one, written by Reitman and Gil Kenan lacks the luster and originality of the first film, but there are all of those nods to that first one that you might enjoy - from the arrival of hundreds of mini-marshmallow babies to the ghost Muncher, who could be related to Slimer from the original, to the iconic theme song played at the end. You might have fun catching all of the references and inside jokes related to the 1984 film.  Or maybe not. 

And then here's the question. Do the remaining original Ghostbusters (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson) show up?  Duh. I mean, you got ghosts? Again, let's say it together..."Who ya gonna call?" And there is also a sweet and very sentimental (did I say VERY SENTIMENTAL) CGI homage to Ramis.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I know, I know.  This isn't "Citizen Kane" but it's a light diversion from all of the bad that is happening in the world. Is it as good as the original?  No, but if you miss that movie, this is a fun revival and kids will especially enjoy this. (On DVD and STARZ and available for rent on Apple+)

Now Streaming

Physical (2021)

A bored, angry and frustrated housewife, who also suffers from an eating disorder, finds meaning when she discovers aerobics.

It's 1981 and Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) is a lonely and very angry mom who tortures herself with negative self talk.  She also mentally bad mouths everyone else too.  She is a very unhappy woman battling personal demons, one of which is an eating disorder, which is depicted, so be warned. Sheila and her professor husband, Danny (Rory Scovel), have moved to San Diego from Berkeley. Sheila has anger issues because she gave up her career to care for their daughter and him, and he is a jerk. And things are not going well for Danny, who has been fired from his job. So what do you do when you get fired from your job teaching political science?  Well, you run for political office!  So that is another disruption to Sheila's already disorderly life.

But then she discovers Bunny's (Della Saba) aerobics classes in the newly opened mall and becomes obsessed. She discovers a way to empower herself. But she is still pissed off most of the time.

Remember those Jane Fonda aerobics videos?  "Feel the burn!"  Well, this series, created by Annie Weisman, embodies that, leotards and leg warmers and all things 80's. 

I watched all ten 30 minute episodes in one night, and it was strange watching this series from beginning to end, because even though I didn't really like any of the characters, I couldn't stop watching. It's that kind of series. 

I enjoyed seeing Rose Byrne carrying the weight of this series.  I always think of her as playing wives to the stars in comedies, but I am going to stop thinking of her that way. She has incredible range as an actress.

Rosy the Reviewer says....with its edgy and unusual concept, rather unlikable characters, and dark comedy, it's a strangely compelling series that brings back the 80's. Season 2 starts June 3 (Apple+)

And lest you think that all I did this week was watch movies and TV, you would only be partially correct.  I also went to a killer Boz Scaggs concert. Our rock heroes may be getting older, but with age comes more and more skill.  Boz still has it going on. 

If you have a chance to see him, highly recommended, so says Rosy the Reviewer!

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Monday, March 28, 2022

What Rosy the Reviewer Thinks is Worth Watching

[I review the TV series "Pam & Tommy," "The Tourist," "Inventing Anna," "Servant" and "The Gilded Age"]

Pam & Tommy (2022)

Who knew a mini-series about the theft of Pamela Anderson's and Tommy Lee's honeymoon sex tape would turn out to be one of the best series of the year?

Well, it is.

Lily James has come a long way from playing Cinderella in 2015 to playing Pamela Anderson in this new eight-part series on Hulu that highlights Pam’s Tommy Lee period (he was the drummer for Motley Crue, in case you are too young to remember) and the release of their infamous sex tape by a disgruntled carpenter who had worked for them. How did he come by the tape? Well, that’s half the story as the series is as much about Rand, the carpenter (played by Seth Rogan sporting an epic mullet and putting in a great performance), as it is about Pam and Tommy and how the release of the sex tape affected them all.
Lily embodies Pam from her eyebrows to her hair to her breathy voice to… Well, let’s just say she is Cinderella no more and there is a breast plate in evidence. And speaking of bodies, lots of flesh on display and one can’t help but think there is some CGI at work here, especially when Tommy has a conversation with his penis. And the penis talks! Yes, you heard me. It even gets a credit in the cast list (Jason Mantzoukas)!

Created by Robert Siegel, the series is part love story (Pam and Tommy got married after knowing each other only four days) and part revenge story. It’s a case of the rich and entitled brought down by the poor and overlooked. Let’s just say, Karma is a bitch because Tommy, wonderfully played by Sebastian Stan, is a thong-wearing d**k and jacks Rand around so much that Rand decides it’s payback time.

But this is also a story that is uniquely about the 90’s and the burgeoning power of the Internet, how it had, and still has, the power to invade the private lives of celebrities and feed our obsessions with them. Ironically, one could say that this series also does that by bringing all of this up again for Anderson, though it’s sympathetic to her. Whereas sex tapes helped the careers of Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, this early sex tape hurt Pam, her marriage and especially her career, since she wanted to move beyond her sexy image and be taken more seriously. But ironically it actually helped Tommy whose career was already waning as punk rock was replacing heavy metal. In situations like these, women get slut-shamed and men get high-fived!

Rosy the Reviewer says…all in all, this is a really good, engrossing story, stylish, and a lot of fun, and, even if you aren’t interested in Tommy Lee and Pamela and their sex tape, this is just a really well-done series, one of the best of the year! And no, I never saw the tape. (Hulu)

Jamie Dornan is hot and steamy again, but he's not in another installment of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” No, this time Jamie is in trouble in the hot and steamy Australian Outback.

Our hero (Dornan), known only as “The Man” is The Tourist, driving through the desolate Outback, where out of nowhere, he is chased and run-down by a trucker driving a semi. The trucker is unseen except for his eerie whistling and his fancy cowboy boots. When our hero awakens, he is in the hospital and, not only doesn’t remember what happened, but can’t even remember his name or anything about his past. He has no ID, nothing. His only clue is a piece of paper in his pocket with an address and a time. So he checks himself out of the hospital to embark on a journey to regain his memory. Good thing because here comes those boots and the whistling trucker to pay him a visit in the hospital (I knew I would see those boots again)! When our hero arrives at the address on that piece of paper – a restaurant in a small town called Burnt Ridge - a bomb goes off right where he had been sitting. Yikes.
Someone wants him dead. But why? And is our hero really a hero? Or is he a bad guy? An assortment of strange characters try to help him sort this all out – Helen (Danielle Macdonald), a rookie lady cop with her own issues, the landlady at his B & B, a mysterious woman named Luci (Shalom Brune-Franklin) who seems to know something. And then there’s that guy buried underground who calls him! What? And that’s just the first episode.

What’s going on here? Well, written by Jack and Harry Williams and directed by Chris Sweeney and Daniel Nettheim, there are six episodes that take us on a harrowing journey full of surprises to find out.

Macdonald makes an unlikely leading lady but a wonderful one. What I particularly like about UK and Australian movies and TV shows is the fact that they hire actors who actually look like real people, and when you do that, those of us real people out in the real world can identify. Macdonald is a lovely woman, a bit Rubenesque by film standards, but that's what makes her easy to identify with and easy to root for.

I have had an interest in Australian shows, especially those that take place in the Outback, ever since "A Town like Alice" played on PBS. I find Australia a fascinating country and the Outback a forbidding landscape which makes it a wonderful backdrop for a series like this.

Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like thrillers with a Coen Brothers vibe, this is a must see. Another great series that you won’t be able to stop watching. (HBO Max)


The true crime story of con-woman Anna Delvey who bilked New York elite and her own friends of money to live a life as a socialite.
If you have been following my blog and/or reviews, you probably noticed that I am fascinated by true crime, and how people are led to do bad things (I’m obsessed with “Dateline” even though I already know the husband did it), but my particular fascination lately has been with cons and catfishing. I just can’t believe how people can be so easily manipulated, ignore red flags and suspend disbelief, especially when it comes to love and money. But I guess it’s because most people have good hearts and want to believe that is also the case with others. Unfortunately, no.
So that’s the long intro into why I was drawn to this new Netflix miniseries right out of Shondaland. You know, Shonda Rhimes, who most recently gave us the hot bodice-ripper Regency drama “Bridgerton,” but who also gave us – “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” This series harks back to those more modern stories.
I had already seen the story of Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin) – was it, oh, maybe, “Daaateline? (that's my Keith Morrison impression)” – so I knew what this was all about. I had actually read a book and some articles about her as well. Anna was a young woman who appeared to show up in New York City out of nowhere, lived in a $1500 per night hotel room and convinced everyone in the New York social set that she was a German socialite (she was really Russian) with lots of money. Her story was that she was in New York to start a foundation and arts center but was in fact trying to bilk banks and society folks out of millions.
When the series begins, Anna (Julia Garner) is at Rikers Island waiting to go on trial for her misdeeds, and Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky), a feature writer for “Manhattan” magazine wants to kick-start her career and write a story about Anna (this series is based on an actual article in "New York" magazine by Jessica Pressler).

So who was Anna Delvey nee Sorokin? What was her true story? Why did she do what she did? Vivian sets out to solve the mystery.

Fans of the TV show “Ozark” will recognize Julia Garner as Anna, though trying to recognize her bizarre accent is a different story, but that’s on purpose because Julia is playing a con-woman with a fake accent (she is really Russian pretending to be German). She is quite wonderful as Anna.

Anna Chlumsky hit it big as a child actress in “My Girl” back in 1991 but her career went on hiatus from 1999 to 2005 and, though she has had TV roles, most notably in “Veep,” she has largely avoided the same kind of fame she had as a child star. This series is as much about Vivian as it is about Anna, and I have to say, I could have done without that aspect. It was too much about her when I really cared about Anna and what she was up to, though my problem with Vivian's story could have been more about Chlumsky's acting than the actual storyline. Her acting style was too wide-eyed and intense, and I found her character annoying, which I don't think was the intent. I think this might have been a more powerful series if it had focused more on Anna and less on Vivian, but I understand the writers probably wanted to give props to Pressler who broke this story. But then, dare I say, perhaps, a different actress might have helped?

With that said, the series starts out a little slow, focusing on Vivian in her quest to get an interview with Anna but hang in there. In episode two, Vivian begins to interview Anna’s “friends,” and you start to get how Anna was able to do what she did - how she managed to con so many people and institutions, how she could be all things to all people, how despite the fact she posed as an heiress she was able to get her friends to pay for everything. She was very good at it. She embodied the adage, "The best defense is a good offense." If anyone questioned her, she just told them off. It appears that we regular folks are willing to ignore obvious red flags and be influenced by good acting, a load of arrogance and expensive shoes if it gets us close to the money.

Interesting fun fact. In real life, Anna was paid to have her story told and she is now famous around the world. So does the con continue and she got what she really wanted? Ironically everyone else connected with this case, victims included, benefited in one way or another as well.

This story might appeal more to women than men because, well, it's about a woman and Anna's crimes might not seem very big. I saw a comment from a guy responding to this series by saying, "What's the big deal? She just stole from her friends." Typical guy thing. He needs to see some real criminal activity. Okay, how about wire fraud and grand larceny? And whether friends or not, her stealing from them probably was a big deal to them considering it was in the tens of thousands and more. However, I found this to be a fascinating story and also a mystery. I watched to see why Anna did what she did and to answer this question: was she an evil sociopath?

A case could be made that this didn't need to be a nine-part series - I mean, isn't everything just too long these days? - but I will give it a break because I loved watching Julia Garner deliver this character and it is a fascinating story.

Rosy the Reviewer says…there seems to be some sympathy for Anna in this series and for what her final lofty goal was. You will have to decide for yourself if she was evil or not, because the series doesn't take a stand, but at the same time, you might ask yourself…do I really know the people I hang out with? (Netflix)

Servant (2019-)

***Possible spoilers***

Dorothy and Sean have lost their baby, Jericho. Dorothy hasn't handled the problem very well. In fact, she has a doll standing in as Jericho and everyone appears to be playing along, so much so, that a nanny is now on the scene to help with the charade. A very creepy nanny.

And that's what we have here. Creepy psychological horror. Sometimes I am in the mood for some psychological horror, aren't you? Maybe watching someone else deal with creepy makes our real lives less creepy.
Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) is a TV anchor woman and Sean (Toby Kebbell) is a chef. Both are well-off financially if their beautiful Philadelphia brownstone is any indication but they are grieving the loss of their baby, Jericho, both in very different ways. Dorothy has not been able to accept that Jericho is gone, so her therapist has recommended that she have a therapy doll, which Dorothy treats as her living, breathing Jericho. Sean and Dorothy's brother, Julian (Rupert Grint), continue the charade when Dorothy is around but don't seem to have problems flinging the doll about when she is not.
Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) is the young nanny who shows up out of nowhere bringing with her three seasons of baggage. She doesn't think twice about taking care of the doll and acts as if everything is normal, that the doll is a real baby. Leanne is an odd duck and not someone I would want living in my house. I'm just saying. But then, the doll comes to life and becomes a living breathing baby! What? Is that really Jericho? Has Leanne somehow brought Jericho back to life? Or is it another baby?

Well, that's how it all starts, but if that isn't enough, turns out there is a cult after Leanne, the circumstances of Jericho's death come to light, the mysterious Aunt Josephine and Uncle George show up, and Leanne runs away with Jericho and is eventually tracked down and ends up as a prisoner in Dorothy and Sean's attic. What? I'm out of breath just relating all of that. And there is more, much more.

Is there supernatural stuff at work here or is there some kind of shared psychotic disorder going on? Or something else? And is Leanne good or evil?

Fans of Harry Potter will recognize an all grown-up Rupert Grint as Dorothy's ne'er do well, but very interesting brother, Julian, who has a best friend relationship with wine but who eventually gets sober. Both issues present their own problems. Ambrose, Kebbell and Free are all compelling and draw us into their complex stories that take place mostly in the very dark and claustrophobic Philadelphia brownstone. Ambrose is particularly good because she is not afraid to make her character unlikable and clueless, which she often is.

The series, created by Tony Basgallop, is all about psychological creepiness, with some dark humor thrown in, and there are many twists and turns, some of which make sense, some of which don't. But it's all very addictive despite the fact that Season 3 drags a bit. But hey, a Season 4 is already on the way and rumor has it that M. Night Shyamalan, who is one of the executive producers, expects this to go to six seasons.

Speaking of Shyamalan, his stamp is all over this when it comes to creepy and twisty. Remember his "The Sixth Sense?" That was creepy and twisty, right? It was so twisty in fact that I remember watching in the theatre with my daughter, and at the end, I looked at her quizzically, as in "What the hell just happened?" and she mouthed "Mom, he was dead (and sorry, if I just spoiled that for you but you deserve it if you haven't seen "The Sixth Sense.") Sometimes I am slow to get it. And there is a little of that here but maybe it's just me.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like supernatural creepiness, you will like this because it's creeeepy, addictive and hella good even if sometimes it doesn't make sense, but like I said, maybe that's just me. But, hey, there are at least three seasons to figure it all out. And did I say it was creepy?
(on Apple+)

It's all about old money vs. those vulgar nouveau riche social climbers.
If you have been missing "Downton Abbey," its creator Julian Fellowes has now given us fans this new HBO version about old money (think the Astors and the Vanderbilts) vs. new money, this time in 1880's New York, an era of social problems "gilded" by economic growth, hence the nickname The Gilded Age.

Bertha (Carrie Coon) and George Russell (Morgan Spector) and their daughter, Gladys (Taissa Farmiga, Vera's younger sister), and son, Larry (Harry Richardson), are the "new kids" on the block. New as in new money. George is a railroad tycoon and Bertha wants to use all that new money George is making to join high society. They have just built a huge house across the street from Agnes Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and her unmarried sister Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon). Agnes is all about old money and does not approve of the Russells, and would never lower herself with an introduction, though she is dying to see inside their house. They are joined by Marion Brook (Louisa Jacobson, Mery's Streep's daughter, and she looks just like her), their young, pretty niece from Pennsylvania who has been left penniless after the death of her father and has nowhere to live. Marion befriends Peggy Scott (Denee Benton), a young ambitious African-American writer who also moves into the house to work for Agnes.

It's all about who is in and who is out when it comes to high society and Bertha is dying to get in. There is some romance for Marion and side stories involving drama among the servants, a middle class African American family, and a gay couple, very much a no-no in those days.

The actors are fine, though it took me awhile to warm up to Carrie Coon, who underplayed so much she almost put me to sleep. And the writing seemed stilted at times. But Nathan Lane is always fun (he plays one of the arbiters of high society) and Christine Baranski makes a good attempt at an American version of Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith's character in "Downton Abbey"), complete with caustic, haughty bon mots.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Okay, this isn't "Downton Abbey," despite the upstairs downstairs formula and the rich folks, but the costumes and set design alone are worth your time. And remember, Fellowes is a Brit. This is his take on U.S. history and social manners, and I give him props for taking us on. Give it a chance. You will warm up to it. (HBO)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Friday, February 11, 2022

And Just Like That...This is What I Watched (TV Series)!

[I review these TV series: "And Just Like That...," "After Life," and "The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window"]

And Just Like That...(2022)

Our "Sex and the City" girls 17 years later.  

So let's take care of the elephant in the room first.  I wasn't the only one disappointed in this "Sex and the City" reboot.  But let me make this clear.  I was not one of the haters who blamed the women for getting older.  I mean, c'mon, it's been almost 20 years.  We all get older and I have to say these women look damn good.  So instead of concentrating on their looks, something women actors have to constantly deal with, let's talk about why this series didn't work.  

It didn't work because in trying to be relevant it was just silly.

We meet Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) 17 years after the series ended (11 years after the last "Sex and the City" movie but we don't want to remember that one).  Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has supposedly moved to London, so she is still there in spirit but we all know in reality that Kim Cattrall doesn't want anything more to do with this series because of her famous feud with Sarah Jessica Parker.  But, okay, I can suspend disbelief and think that Samantha still likes the girls and has just moved to London.

Possible Spoiler Alert! Read no further if you plan to watch and have not seen the first episode and don't want to know what happens.  

So, Carrie and Big (Chris Noth) are married but "they" kill Big off in the first episode after a sweaty workout on his Peloton bike (and this is NOT really a spoiler.  If you didn't know that, you must have been living under a rock, because after that happened Peloton stock fell with a thud. It was all over the news) and the rest of the series is all about Carrie grieving, trying to get her life back on track and basically playing straight woman to Miranda and Charlotte, who have pretty much gone off the rails. You will hardly recognize the more subdued, sad Carrie, though she still sports the usual originally outrageous outfits, and I use the word outrageous in a good way. I always enjoyed the clothes.

Miranda has gone to graduate school, is not happy in her marriage to Steve (Dave Eigenberg), drinks too much, tries to impress her black professor (Karen Pittman) with her wokeness and enters into an affair with Che (Sarah Ramirez), who is a fellow podcaster of Carrie's and a non-binary stand-up comic. Miranda handles all of that in a series of very cringeworthy moments. When did Miranda turn into such a nitwit?  For an actress with political ambitions who once ran for Governor of New York State, not a good look.

And speaking of nitwits, how old is Charlotte again?  She acts like an insecure schoolgirl as she tries to be Super Mom to her two daughters, Lily (Cathy Ang and Rose (Alexa Swinton, distant cousin of Tilda). But they aren't cooperating. Rose wants to be called Rock and rejects Charlotte's obtuse attempts to girly her up. Lily is particularly sullen and unpleasant and boy, did she get on my nerves. Charlotte dances around both girls to try to make them happy, but basically, they are both spoiled brats. There was a particularly disturbing episode where Lily starts her period and when Charlotte tries to help her, Lily screams a lot and carries on to the point that Charlotte should have just slapped her! I actually would have slapped both of them! Double cringe (note: no one was slapped during the writing of this review). Charlotte also tries to impress one of the other mothers at her daughters' school and basically comes out looking like a dip.  Again...cringe.

Samantha needs to come back from London and save this thing. 

The best thing about the whole series was Mario Cantone who, in my opinion, is one of the funniest men on the planet. The writers should have given him more to do!

Though I stuck with the show and it grew on me a little bit, because, hey, I was all in with "Sex and the City" and loved those girls, and I do like that it highlights the importance of women's friendships, but ultimately, this didn't work. It wasn't funny and lacked the charm of the original, and in trying to be relevant to today, there were some scenes that were just...did I mention the word cringe?... and these 50+ year-old-women were made to look like they didn't have a clue about the current world they live in. 

Like I always say about sequels.  Don't.  Let us have happy memories of our favorite movies and TV shows.  Don't try to replicate them and fail and leave us with a bad taste in our mouths.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a huge disappointment.  Where is Samantha when you need her? And it looks like there will be a second season.  Hope that one will be better. Sigh.  But I will probably watch it. (Ten episodes, HBO Max)

After Life (2019-2022)

A man is just really, really pissed off that his wife has died.

Ricky Gervais wrote, produced, directed and stars in this comedy series about Tony Johnson, a newspaper writer in the fictional English town of Tambury, who has lost his wife and is really pissed off about it.  He is so pissed off and grief stricken that he decides to kill himself...except he has this dog, Brandy (Anti, one of the cutest and sweetest dogs ever). Who will feed her if he also dies?  So he decides to carry on, but he also decides he is going to spend his life on his terms, which basically means doing and saying whatever he wants, regardless of how that might make others feel. Needless to say, Tony is not easy to be around, but as you might suspect, a series of events help to change things for Tony, but it's a wild ride over three seasons getting there, with an unusual but beautifully satisfying ending.

Like "The Office," which Gervais also wrote, directed and starred in, the newspaper office has a disparate group of misfits: there is Matt (Tom Basden), Tony's hapless brother-in-law who runs the newspaper and who Tony loves to torment; Lenny (Tony Way), the newspaper's photographer who accompanies Tony on interviews of locals where they relate eccentric stories, and Kath (Diane Morgan), the lonely advertising manager who acts like she doesn't give a hoot about being alone, but she does. There is also Emma (Ashley Jensen), a nurse at the nursing home where Tony's Dad is a resident.  She is a possible love interest for Tony, but that doesn't go at all how you would think. Other characters come and go over the three seasons - an incompetent psychiatrist, a clueless postman, a drug addicted newspaper carrier and a sex worker whom Tony befriends, all providing many comic moments.  Typical Gervais. 

But there is also poignancy. When Tony goes to the cemetery to take flowers to his wife's grave, he meets Anne ("Downton Abbey" fans will recognize Penelope Wilton), an older woman sitting on a bench.  She, too, has lost her spouse, but as the two both sit on the bench together, she imparts some comfort and wisdom to our grieving Tony. Turns out the scenes with Wilton and Gervais sitting on that bench were so powerful to viewers that Gervais partnered with Netflix and the suicide charity, CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), to place 25 benches around England to help people cope.  Each bench is inscribed with a quote from the show: "Hope is everything."

Despite the subject matter, this really is a comedy, though typical Gervais kind of humor as in dark and out there. I am a huge Gervais fan. His deadpan reactions are enough to make me laugh, but even if you are not a fan, this is a series you don't want to miss and I challenge you to get through the last episode of Season Three without sobbing.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a series not to be missed. (Three Seasons, Netflix)

The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window (2022)

A grieving woman who likes BIG glasses of wine sees a murder across the street - or did she?

Kristen Bell stars as Anna, a woman whose grief over losing her daughter and husband has led her to give up her work as an artist and isolate herself in her house with big glasses of wine (and I mean BIG) and lets not forget the pills. It doesn't help that she also has a phobia about rain so she spends her time sitting and watching out of her window, and thus becomes fixated on Neil (Tom Riley), the handsome widower, who has moved in across the street with his daughter, Emma (Samsara Leela Yett).

And then…while staring into Neil’s windows, she sees what she thinks is a murder. Was it or was she imagining things? When she reports the "murder" to the police and they see the pills and empty wine bottles, they are skeptical, and when they go across the street to Neil's house to investigate and he doesn't know what they are talking about nor is there any sign of a murder, they don't believe her. But Anna isn't going to give up. Time to get your detective hat on, Anna!

Fans of those psychological thrillers “The Girl on the Train” or “The Woman in the Window (I think I will throw “Gone Girl” in there too),” will get a kick out of this eight-part Netflix series created by Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf and Rachel Ramras that is a send-up of those movies and books with all of the tropes you would expect - a heroine with a troubled past, the unreliable witness to a murder, no sign of a body, red herrings, gaslighting, and the usual twist ending. Everyone and everything is suspicious. What's with Buell (Cameron Britton), the handyman who can't seem to get Anna's mailbox repaired or Anna's nosy neighbor, Carol (Brenda Koo) or that mysterious knocking up in the attic? And what's with the casseroles?

You won’t know whether to laugh or take this all seriously (don’t). It's funny if you get all of the tropes being spoofed but the humor is subtle. Doesn't matter. It's still a good story on its own: entertaining and very bingeable (each episode is only 30 minutes). And this girl knows how to pour a good glass of wine.

Rosy the Reviewer says…despite all of Anna's problems, Kristin Bell makes her engaging and fun to watch. A girl after my own heart, especially the wine part!

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)