Baseball took up a lot of time last month. But I still squeezed in some quality television programming.
This brief series tells the story of Eli Cohen, a Mossad agent who infiltrated Syrian society in the 1960s and became a deputy minister of defense before being discovered and executed.
It is a compelling, interesting story that is very well acted and paced, and beautifully photographed. I also enjoyed the old school spy tale angle. When we think of that period, we tend to think of traditional Cold War stories. But what was going on in the Middle East at the time was equally fascinating and, in some ways, far more consequential than spies chasing each other around Europe.
But the revelation was Sacha Baron Cohen in the lead role. I was floored by how good SBC was in a straight, dramatic role. He was excellent and believable, especially in the moments when Eli Cohen began to lose grip on who he really was after spending so much time in Syria.
Ahh, it’s holiday food show season! October is always a fine warm-up for the real deal. Sadly, L doesn’t like to sit and watch these with me as much as she used to. She watched some of the Halloween Wars episodes, but we skipped a couple and went right to the finale Halloween weekend. That show kind of annoys me but I don’t turn down chances to spend time with one of my girls watching food shows.
I’m a bigger fan of HBC. This year’s crew wasn’t my favorite. But it’s a good way to get ready for the holiday season.
Halloween Wars, B-
Halloween Baking Championship, B+
Narcos: Mexico, season one
I loved the first three seasons of Narcos, which focused on the Colombian cocaine cartels of the 1980s. Done with the Colombians, the series moved up to Mexico, focusing on Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo’s Guadalajara cartel and the DEA agents who battled him.
This season took longer to grab me that the Colombian seasons did. Perhaps that is because Gallardo and/or Diego Luna, the actor who played him, were not as immediately compelling as Pablo Escobar/Wagner Moura in the first two seasons.
But this season cranked up the drama in the back half. As Gallardo’s cartel shifted from its own marijuana to transporting Colombian cocaine, the stakes got higher and the DEA became more interested. Especially agent Kiki Camarena. Camarena pushed a reluctant DEA bureaucracy to go after Gallardo’s interests much harder. His reward was to be kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. The episodes that center on his kidnapping are brutal and emotionally draining, and in some ways saved the season from being just ok.
L wanted to make sure we watched this before she went out on Halloween. It has always been the weakest of the Peanuts holiday specials. And it got me thinking about how terrible most of the characters are. A subject for a future post!
Who doesn’t love those videos of (usually) trucks smashing into low bridges and overpasses because the drivers ignore safety warnings? Well this mini-documentary is all about one in North Carolina.