I've watched several made-for-Amazon Prime series, though not most of them. Perhaps five or so. I've enjoyed them all, to varying degrees. I quite liked the first season of Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton, from David Kelly (though have been warned off the new season.) Bosch is pretty good, and I've watched two seasons so far. I very much liked Mozart in the Jungle, although haven't felt compelled to watch the second season yet. Sort of, "Okay, I get it," but haven't yet cared enough to see where it's going. The weakest was Woody Allen's Crisis in Six Scenes -- though even that had some very good things about it, notably every scene with Woody Allen and Elaine May as his wife. Tremendous. As for the rest of the show, it was only six episodes, so it was quite watchable.
And then there's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
It lives up to its name. It's utterly marvelous. Absolutely great, the whole way through the first season. Not one of the eight episodes was a let down, and it ends the year on a proper note. It's so smartly written, joyously acted by the entire cast, and has impeccable production values that's much of the fun, 1950s New York with Broadway music flowing through the soundtrack. The show comes from Amy Sherman-Palladino, who created Gillmore Girls. I didn't watch that, so I can't compare the two. I can only rave about this one.
I'm not alone. It got a remarkable 14 Emmy nominations, including Best Comedy Series.
Though the full cast is excellent, a few people standout. At the top is Rachel Brosnahan in the title role. It's a difficult one to pull off, requiring deftness, and she handles it impeccably, playing an upbeat, young married mother whose husband decides he wants out of the marriage. She's thrown for a loop, yet pushes forward with her positive but now-slightly-pounded attitude. For reasons that make sense in the plot, she falls into the world of stand-up comedy, though the first season doesn't rely on that. The stories cover a range of plots, and she even gets a job in a department store as, step-by-step during the season, the comedy world slowly begins to develop. (The real-life character of Lenny Bruce even appears a few times in the series, played wonderfully by Luke Kirby.) But through it all -- dealing with her wandering husband, kids, comedy, the department store and deeply-caring but overly-protective parents who she lived above and is now forced to move in with -- Brosnahan manages it with a a seriously impressive touch. And got a highly-deserved Emmy nomination as Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Alex Borstein is a hoot as a perpetually-crabby booker, Susie Myerson, who runs a low-end nightclub and sees something in Miriam Maisel, deciding to make the young women her first client as a personal manager. She too got an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. I can't do her character and performance justice by merely describing it. (Happy, I do have a video below, which should help...) I'll just note that to the character's everlasting annoyance but acceptance, people tend to confuse her at first with being a guy. But she has such a hilarious sardonic chip on her shoulder about pretty much everything that little in the world seems to concern her, other than her need to improve her life, which she does her best to hide. (One of my favorite moments requires its visual set up, but I'll just say that I recognized the opening chord of the Broadway song from Flower Drum Song as it began to play, though didn't know where they were going with it, as half a dozen well-groomed, attractive women were entering the department store -- and just as the peppy song hits the line, "I enjoy being a girl", Boorstein comes barreling in behind them.)
And finally, Tony Shaloub and Kevin Pollack are absolutely wonderful as the two fathers -- Shaloub as father of Miriam, and Pollack of her philandering husband Joel Maisel (well-played by Michael Zegen). Both fathers are terrific, in their like-annoyed relationship with each other, but Shaloub especially stands out and got an Emmy nomination for it, as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Oddly, there aren't many clips from the show. And no single one gives the right impression of the show. So, I'm going to post three here.
The first is "Midge" Mainsel coming home -- now living with her parents -- late at night.
And here you get to see Alex Boorstein doing her stuff, as Susie and "Midge" try to figure out what kind of on-stage personality she should have and what her act should be.
And finally, here are Shaloub and Pollack coming to terms about partnering in order to buy their kids' apartment, keeping it available in hopes that they'll get together. Just know that in an earlier scene, Shaloub explained to his family how Pollack's story about World War II drives him nuts and that he had to pay for temple seats on the High Holiday which Pollack thinks they split.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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