The Disgusting Brothers on the rampage
'Succession' Season Four begins on a high note, 'The Mandalorian' gets ambitious, and 'Daisy Jones & The Six' concludes
This week’s What’s Alan Watching? newsletter coming up just as soon as I have a ludicrously capacious bag…
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We have to begin with the return of Succession, which I recapped here. After so much time away, it’s nice to be struck by how spectacularly funny this show remains. It’s one of the most quotable series in recent memory, to the point where every week the decision of which “just as soon as” gag I will use is going to be damned difficult. Every Tom/Greg exchange in particular is a gift. (“Did you rummage to completion?”)
As someone who had expressed concern in the past that the show was going in circles — albeit at such a high level of execution — I really appreciated this new dynamic of Logan having inadvertently turned the three main siblings into a functional unit for the first time in their adult lives. Lots more to discuss in the coming weeks, but this was a great beginning.
The Pirates of The Mandalorian
As usual, I also recapped this week’s The Mandalorian. What a strange — but still mostly entertaining — season this has been so far. After Mando came in and basically took over the home stretch of The Book of Boba Fett, he now practically feels like a guest star in his own show — or, at least, has now become just one piece of what’s gradually turning into a sprawling, Andor-esque ensemble. Mostly, though, my concern is that the more we learn about the culture of Mandalore and/or the Watch, the less interesting I find it all. They seem like an unintentionally silly group of people, and when you pit them against an extremely silly group of space pirates, you get one of the goofier episodes the show has done. Though I imagine 8-year-old me would have just loved
Pizza the Hutt Pirate King Gorian Shard.
Daisy Jones plays its final show
The finale of Daisy Jones & The Six had dropped before last week’s newsletter went live, but I didn’t mention it for two reasons: 1)I wanted to give people time to finish before the discussion began, and 2)I honestly just forgot, because the irregular release patterns of so many non-Netflix streaming shows makes it hard to keep track of when they’re finished, if I’ve already watched screeners of the whole thing.
(*) This is not a complaint, btw. In general, I am anti-binge release, and I think these hybrid approaches of dropping 2-3 episodes per week is a good compromise, even if I’m an old man who ultimately prefers one episode at a time.
Since publishing my review of the series, I finally got around to listening to the utterly fantastic audiobook, which has actors like Jennifer Beals, Pablo Schreiber, and Judy Greer voicing Daisy, Billy, Karen, et al. I read and enjoy the book back when it came out, but this put it much more freshly into my mind, and it wound up making me like the show even less. With the exception of giving Simone and Teddy more well-rounded characterization, I would argue that every single change the show made was worse than the version in the source material. It’s not just that the series couldn’t find a way to replicate the conflicting POVs of the book’s oral history format, but that so many of the conflicts were simplified and soaped up, despite having 10 episodes to tell a story that really didn’t need that many. In particular, my audiobook listen reminded me of how much the conflicts between Billy, Daisy, and the rest of the band were creative ones. Some of the book’s best passages are about disagreements over lyrics, arrangements, performance style, etc., and there’s barely any of that here, other than a bit in the episode where Billy and Daisy barricade themselves in Teddy’s house to try to write together. And changing the dynamics of the day the band broke up — in particular, making things entirely Billy’s choice, rather than Camilla’s — makes the romantic triangle much less interesting.
Meanwhile, I understand why the producers relocated the framing device from the present day, nearly 40 years after the band broke up, to only 20. As it is, the wigs and makeup everyone wore in the documentary interview scenes looked ridiculous, and I don’t want to imagine what they would have tried to make Riley Keough or Suki Waterhouse look like they’re in their 60s. But the meaning of the ending changes completely with the shift in age. It’s one thing for Billy and Camilla to have lived a full life together, and for him to then perhaps go see Daisy now that he’s a senior citizen with not a lot of time left on this earth. But if they’re substantially younger, then it just becomes this:
That said, I still really liked Keough and Sam Claflin and several of the other performances, and I have been listening to “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” an awful lot over the last month, so it wasn’t all bad. Just a disappointment given the strength of the novel.
Are we almost done having fun yet?
Finally, one of the reasons I opted to publish this newsletter on Friday mornings is that most of my stories for the week have run by then, and it seemed a good day and time to catch up on various reviews and recaps. Occasionally, though, I have content slated to publish relatively late on a Friday. In this case, I’ve got some post-mortem material on the new season of Party Down going live after the season finale airs. I cannot say anything other than that the episode is very good, and that I hope they get to come back again at some point. But take a look at my Rolling Stone author page tonight around 9:45 Eastern for that, and feel free to talk about it in the comments over the weekend. I’ll have some more thoughts in next week’s newsletter, which is my cue to ask…
What did everybody else think?
Here is that Party Down story, btw: https://bit.ly/40vjWhe
As someone else pointed out, “rummage to fruition”. It’s just a funnier word which is why I cackled both times I watched the episode.
I never read Daisy Jones & the Six, so I had no basis for disappointment. I really enjoyed the show. I thought the reveal related to the framing device was well done and wrecked me. The whole final episode did. Like blubbering mess wrecked me. Making them younger in the series also could set up another go at it where Billy and Daisy start working together again.