Amazon Series Reviewed: Sneaky Pete, Patriot, One Mississippi, Fleabag, Man in High Castle

By | March 30, 2017

After reviewing Amazon’s Pilot Season and upcoming shows, why not take a look back at several series they’ve had recently…[And a handful more tomorrow too]…

Sneaky Pete…This con artist-set series has already been renewed for a second season, but I found it to be a mixed-bag overall. There are certainly great things to recommend like a truly fantastic supporting cast including Marin Ireland, Michael O’Keefe, and several “Justified” alums like Jacob Pitts and the peerless Margo Martindale. The problem is the title character is a supposed-con-man played by Giovanni Ribisi, a man so twitchy and instinctually untrustworthy, you don’t believe for a second that anyone would be dumb enough to believe him. And even though we’re supposed to be rooting against Bryan Cranston’s curiously soulful, self-made gangster ex-cop, I’m sure I’m not the only viewer that found him more sympathetic than our would-be scammer heroes. Also, this is one of the few shows I’ve ever seen that I wanted to be more procedural, as the bail bonds business (and weekly roster of crooks) aren’t featured nearly enough. Grade for First Season: B-

Patriot…You will love this wry spy-dramedy or you’ll hate it. There will be little middle ground, and I’ll be the first to admit the series isn’t perfect (there are a ridiculous amount of scenes that require you to believe something ridiculous), but it’s unlike anything else currently on television. Both a scathing indictment of bone-dry business culture, and a mean little thriller when it wants to be—one of the biggest (and most uncomfortable) laughs comes from how selectively ruthless the hero is, occasionally producing quick jolts of violence. And Terry O’Quinn is one of those great actors that could make almost anything watchable, and he seems thrilled to have a crafty role again after slumming it in TNT or CBS procedural dreck for years. Grade for First Season: B+

One Mississippi…Is there anyone who doesn’t know who Tig Notaro is that doesn’t also know about her mythologically bad four-month period where she fought breast cancer, her mother’s death, an unrelated stomach illness, and a break-up? At times, it can feel like Tig may be exploring her misfortune a little too much, but luckily “One Mississippi” has a crack supporting cast playing her comically unemotional stepfather, likable slob brother, and a few nice love interests for Tig, including Casey Wilson whose sunny self-absorption contrasts nicely with Tig’s more moribund self-pity. Bonus points for being the rare Southern-set series that doesn’t turn the locals into kooky or racist caricatures. Grade for First Season: B+

Fleabag…Phoebe Waller-Bridge has certainly created a different type of BBC sitcom heroine as the title character (literally listed as “Fleabag” in the credits), and the pilot grabs you immediately. Unfortunately, the series doesn’t build much from the first episode, and we’re treated to increasingly repetitive friction with Fleabag’s highstrung sister, tired father, and wicked stepmother. The series usually soars more when dealing with Fleabag’s life outside her immediate family, which is why it’s more than a little disappointing that episode three is a family party, episode four a retreat with her sister, episode five a family dinner, etc. By the time we get to the oh-so-British six-episode season finale, you may wonder if you would return to this world if another season were to happen. Regardless, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a real talent I would gladly watch in something else. Grade for First Season: C+

The Man in the High Castle…A series I want to like more than I do, a curiously uninvolving, slow-building experience that should feel more relevant than ever in the age of Trump, but actually feels hopelessly lost in the past. Although the second season of this “What would it be like if the Nazis and Japanese won WWII?” speculative series is definitely faster paced, it still never really catches fire, and makes the grave mistake of separating our leads from each other for nearly the entire season. Grade for First Season: C…Grade for Second Season: C+

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