A pretty light month. I guess that happens when the election wipes out roughly a week of normal TV viewing. Plus I read a lot in November.
Here’s what I did watch.
Archer, season 11
The world’s greatest spy returns for another year. Archer seasons fall into one of two camps. There are the ones that make you laugh so hard that you are constantly rewinding/rewatching to catch the jokes you missed. And there are the ones that feel flat and never really get going.
Until this year.
This season started out as a snoozer but gained traction midway through the run and finished very strongly. The last three episodes kept this from falling into C territory.
I spent the week after the election watching this Israeli thriller. Tamar Rabinyan is an Israeli agent who sneaks into Iran in an effort to cripple the Iranian air defenses before an Israeli attack on several nuclear sites. Her initial effort gets stymied and she spends the next several days attempting to come up with a backup plan so the attacks can proceed.
Her efforts are further complicated when an Israeli tourist recognizes her in the Tehran airport just before she is detained by Iranian security authorities. During the interrogation of the tourist, the security team learns of their contact and begins searching Tehran for Rabinyan.
This was a pretty solid, modern espionage story. There are lots of very tense moments, a big double-cross near the end, but all of the work of the series is undermined by a poor ending.
A couple interesting things (at least to me) about the show:
As it was made in Israel for an Israeli audience, it is almost entirely in Middle Eastern languages. Mostly Hebrew and Farsi, but also doses of Arabic. There are moments of English sprinkled throughout, and even a shot of French.
Rabinyan’s family, and some of the other Israeli agents she works with, are Jews who came from Iran. I did not know there was such a thing. You usually think of modern immigrants to Israel coming from Eastern Europe. Glad to have my ignorance corrected.
Finally, this is an AppeTV+ show, presented as an Apple exclusive. So it made me laugh that no one was using Apple devices. Obviously Apple bought it for US distribution without being involved in its production.
For all the Will Ferrell movies I can quote extensively, there are some I’ve never seen. Like this one. I don’t remember it coming out back in 2010, but saw an online discussion that included it and decided I should watch it.
It had the risk of being one of those movies that throws a terrific scene right at the beginning and can never again match that. But I was pleasantly surprised that it was funny throughout. Not an all-timer, but a decent way to spend 90 minutes or so.
Speaking of movies I missed, I’ve been meaning to watch this one for a long, long time. I chalk up missing it to having kids.
Man, this was a good way to end the month. Certainly not in the same league as Goodfellas, but it’s a fine entry in Martin Scorsese’s mob chronicles. Even better that he used some new faces and locales.
Scorsese’s movies are always dazzling and entertaining and magnificent, but rarely leave you feeling good after. This might have the most bleak ending of any of his movies, though. Those last ten minutes are just brutal.
I’m through the first four episodes of this year’s season. I miss Lorraine Pascale.