When The OA first came to Netflix, it was to minimal fanfare. Just as Stranger Things came to us with almost no publicity, so The OA came with a not especially informative trailer and a title and that was about it.
Then, of course, we got to watch them and marvel in projects that at times bordered on genius. The first season of The OA wasn’t exactly plain sailing or without its ups and downs, however. Indeed, it took me a little while to get through all the episodes, rather than just boxsetting them (episode reviews: 1, 2-4, 5-8).
But Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s story about a blind girl (Marling) who disappeared and then reappeared seven years later, her sight restored, and now claiming to be ‘The OA’ (the original angel), was nevertheless a stunningly original piece of work, unlike pretty much anything you’ll see on TV, outside David Lynch’s most auteured piece. In parts supernatural, in parts fairy tale, it was a musing on a musing on the power of storytelling – and of the need to tell stories – as well as of art, music, dance, nature, life, love, masculinity, femininity and more.
The ending, however, wasn’t so much ambiguous as diminishing, suggesting that the whole thing was just made up by The OA based on things she’d seen and read, in the style of The Usual Suspects.
Marling also suggested that she hadn’t even considered a second season and that was that for the story – until the show’s success inevitably resulted in its renewal.
A fairytale sequel
What then for season two – or Part II as it now is? How do you create a sequel to a fairy tale? And how do you do it when you no longer have the element of surprise, as you did with your first season?
As you might expect, Marling’s answer is not whatever answer you just came up with but is something staggeringly different. Indeed, there’s one key line in Part II that sums it up: “I think logic is over-rated.”
And I mean that in a good way, because in terms of ideas, I’d say Britt Marling is the closest we now have to a young, female David Lynch. Or maybe David Lynch is just the older male version of Marling.
In Italy: Aired on Sky Atlantic, May 2018
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
Like most right-thinking people, I hate Rupert Murdoch. Being a Sky customer for 15 years – through necessity, rather than choice – has therefore been something of a vexing experience. We didn’t want to give money to Rupert Murdoch but… we did. Things obviously got better last year when News International sold all its share in Sky, but there’s still that lingering “Grrr” of annoyance at the thought of supporting Sky.
What’s equally annoying is that Sky is responsible for some of the better European TV out there. As well as all the Sky Atlantic originals we’ve had in the UK, we’ve also recently had both Babylon Berlin and Das Bootfrom Sky Deutschland, and from Sky Italy we’ve had the likes of 1992 and now Il Miracolo. The last of these isn’t quite in the same league as the rest, but it’s clear that we’re all going to have to get used to the idea of a benevolent Sky god, rather than Rupert Murdoch.
The Miracle (to give it its English name) starts off at a somewhat different level from the rest of the show – with an almost literal blood bath. Police raid a mafia boss’ home but when they find him the basement, he – and most of the basement – are covered in bucketloads of blood.
But there are no bodies.
Meanwhile, Italy’s prime minister (Guido Caprino) is having a hard time of it. There’s a referendum on leaving the EU due to take place in just a few days. Meanwhile, his wife (Elena Lietti) is having random sex at parties with ugly blokes and his kids are just humming. No, really, they’ve got a nanny and every time he passes their bedroom, they’re praying – and usually humming – with her.
Then the police tell him they have a very particular concern. They show Caprino what they found in the mafia’s boss basement – a plastic statue of the Virgin Mary. Thing is this statue is crying blood. They’ve tested it and it’s definitely a man’s blood. And despite being attached to nothing, the statue is crying blood at the rate of nine litres an hour, every hour. They’ve even had to stick it in an empty swimming pool with a bucket under it to catch all of it.
Is this a miracle? If it is, what does it mean and what does God have up His sleeves? And more importantly, what should Caprino do with the information – tell the world and risk riots or keep it to himself? And can he even keep it to himself or will the news leak anyway?
Watching Fox’s new legal drama, Proven Innocent, reminds me of how it’s possible to feel sorry for actors even when they’ve managed to bag the lead role in a TV series. Sure, they’re the star. But in this? Oh dear, I’m so sorry.
I’ve always quite liked Rachelle Lefevre and thought she’s deserved a better career than she’s had, ever since she was bumped from the US adaptation of Life on Mars in favour of Gretchen Mol in the reshoot. She joined Off The Map, the only Shondaland series to get canned after one season. She was Victoria in the first two Twilight movies but was replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard in the third movie, Eclipse, just as the role got meaty. It’s only Under The Dome that’s really given her any success and that was a prevaricating lump of daftness at the best of times.
Kelsey Grammer, on the other hand, is a fabulous comedic actor who had huge success with two long-running comedies: Cheers and Frasier. Unfortunately, all his comedy series since Frasier – Partners, Hank, Back To You – have been truly awful. Boss and The Last Tycoonboth demonstrated that he’s an amazing dramatic actor, too, but those shows got cancelled fast.
And with Proven Innocent, all I can do is feel sorry for the both of them – as well as Vincent Kartheiser (Angel, Das Boot, Mad Men), Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead, The Americans, The X-Files) and Riley Smith (Frequency) – as they endure some really quite pitifully poor material as they head towards yet another inevitable cancellation.
It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
The schedules are a shifting and new shows are arriving. Now, there’s not much on Mondays but lots on Wednesdays, meaning that for a second time, while I’ve watched Corporate, I’ve not had a chance to watch this week’s Magicians. Therefore, WHYBW might well be moving to Tuesday next week. Let’s see how it goes, though.
This week’s reviews
I dedicated much of the weekend to watching this week’s Orange Wednesday movies Close (2019) and What We Do In The Shadows (2014), as well as the first five episodes of Das Boot.
Coming up in the next week, there’s a lot. YouTube launched Weird City last night, so I’ll be watching that, and TBS has also given us Miracle Workers, so I’ll be tuning in for that, too. However, there’s much more than that on the way, including some Australian programming, so expect quite a few reviews over the next week.
On top of that, Comedy Central (US)’s three-part mini-series Time Traveling Bong will be airing in the UK from Sunday, so I gave that a view. Well, some of it. I’ll take about that after the jump.
Magnum P.I., DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Orville were all on a break last week, so after the jump, we’ll be talking about: Cavendish, Corporate, Counterpart, The Passage and Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the final three episodes of Das Boot. See you in a mo!