Weekly Input: TV Shows


This is an occasional catch-up into what I’ve been watching (I need to turn off occasionally and stop thinking about books!). As I use an iPad more than a TV I tend to view on the move in small chunks, which is not conducive to anything too demanding and atmospheric. For films and shows that require concentration I switch to TV and sometimes Blu-Rays, because they’re still unbeatable in terms of picture quality.

‘Gomorrah’ – I’m still catching up, currently near the end of Season 2. There are no likeable characters in Roberto Saviano’s reworked exposé of the Napoli mafia and the series gets stuck in a cycle of tit-for-tat killings but it’s still compulsive viewing, partly for the way it shows how church and gangs are intertwined, partly because I want to see how many more ways Gennaro can readjust his stance whenever he gets bad news. Every time he hears the code has been violated again he remains silent and shifts his weight from one leg to the other. It’s almost as if he’s acting. The show never recovered from the death of Lady Ima, and yet I enjoy every disused factory meeting as I wonder; why would anybody bother to be a gangster?

‘The Family’ – a five-part Netflix documentary series about the Brotherhood, which prides itself on its invisibility, and the disgraceful global influence of American Evangelical Christians should have been a shoo-in for me; a guilt-ridden name-and-shame series which involves 80 years of holier-than-thou types pushing their agendas onto other countries and losing their own ministers to scandals. Starting out as a Jesus-Mafia frat house cult and ending up with, inevitably, the deranged Brotherhood-fed rantings of Trump, it somehow ends up being too evenly balanced and often painfully slow and generic.

As the story moved to the church’s connections in Africa and Russia I expected sidebars on Eisenhower’s assassination slush fund for the Congo and Trump squaring prayer breakfasts with godless Putin, but – perhaps because of the Brotherhood’s sworn secrecy – the punches felt pulled and nothing much landed beyond what we already know – that Trump is a stooge for hard-right interests. Expect to be depressed by the bizarre uses of religion in politics, but don’t expect many surprises, other than one that reveals the Brotherhood produces its own short easy-read version of the Bible called, simply, ‘Jesus’. Jesus.

It’s easy to see why ‘Succession’ is a media critics’ darling; it’s venal, hateful, expensive, vulgar and not at all about the Murdoch empire because if you say it is they’ll sue you. I watched the whole of the first season and the first episode of the second but enough now; I get it. It’s a high-end soap with extra betrayals and cover-ups, but the shrug-factor has increased to the point where if one of the sons decides to machine-gun the rest in the dining room of the George V I wouldn’t really care. Plus, why is it that when Americans swear extravagantly it doesn’t sound half as rude as when the British swear? Every time Brian Cox drawls ‘Fckarf’ it’s less effective than a proper Ray Winstone-intoned ‘Fuuuuuuck off.’


3 comments on “Weekly Input: TV Shows”

  1. Ian Luck says:

    When Americans swear it never sounds threatening, as they stress the words differently. My favourite swear word is, unapologetically, ‘Cunt’. Americans use it as an insult against women. Here, it’s solely used against men, and usually prefixed with words like ‘stupid’, ‘Fat’, ‘Idle’, ‘dirty’, etc. When Americans say it, for some reason, they turn the hard, threatening ‘T’ at the end into a soft ‘D’ sound. No impact at all. Similarly, ‘Wanker’ – here, we put the emphasis on the ‘W’, and the Americans don’t. ‘Bastard’ always sounds better as if Sean Bean were saying it, with the stress on the ‘BAS’ part of it.
    As the great John Cooper Clarke (who lives in Colchester, which probably explains why I saw what I thought was a bloke dressed exactly like John Cooper Clarke there once) wrote in a poem:
    “I don’t wanna be nice/I think it’s clever to swear…”

  2. bill051 says:

    Brian Cox ? Which one?

  3. Ian Luck says:


    BRIAN COX: Almost directly overhead is the contellation of Cygnus, the bastard Swan, with the two bleedin’ stars, Deneb and poxy Albireo as it’s tail and head. The first definite black hole, fuckin’ Cygnus X-1 was discovered amidst all the other interesting shit it….
    DIRECTOR: Brian, love, that was gorgeous, but a tad… Sweary.
    BRIAN COX: I must have thought that I was the other Brian Cox for a moment.
    DIRECTOR: Well, don’t. Tarantino kicked him off set for explaining Planck’s Constant, and the Chandresekar Limit, when he was supposed to be threatening Steve Buscemi with a slab cutter.

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