What I thought about: Mary Kills People (Seasons 1-3)

Thought-provoking and dramatic, if a little rough around the edges, this drama about a doctor who assists suicide whilst balancing home and work life and being under constant peril from police investigation, is a great watch for fans of shows like Dexter.

Des, looking confused as ever.

What’s it about?
Dr Mary Harris is a doctor who saves people. She also kills people. You see, Mary thinks people should be in control of their death as much as they are of their life. Some of the patients at her hospital, referred to her by nursing colleague Annie, are facing terminal illness, and are usually in pain or will deteriorate to such a point. Because of that, they want to go sooner rather than later. Mary issues a fatal dose of pentobarbital, a sedative sometimes used to execute prisoners when carrying out the death penalty.

Of course, what Mary’s doing is illegal* and only a select few countries, such as Switzerland, allow you to die with the assistance of someone else. Mary, together with her business partner and former plastic surgeon Des, therefore pose as end-of-life counsellors and meet discretely with patients. The series arc sees an undercover police investigation to catch Mary in the act. Let’s just say it doesn’t go according to plan.

What do I like about it?
First up, it’s got that consistent pacing I love in US dramas. Yes, there’s a wider series plot, but the show doesn’t get swallowed up in it. This is gonna sound weird, but every episode is Death Guaranteed. A new person, a new story, every single time. It helps to build the thought-provoking piece of the show as you learn about the different conditions and reasons why people might want to end their lives in this way.

Next, there are some nice side plots. Mary is a real doctor and also a (divorced) mother of two children, so it’s a lot to juggle and can get quite chaotic. The elder daughter, Jess, is friends with Naomi, a troubled teenager often left alone while her lawyer mother is away on business. Naomi gets jealous of Jess’ relationships and throughout the show she spirals further and further out of control. Gripping in its own right.

What do I not like about it?
In a word: Des. He is terrible. He is weird. His British accent is… questionable. He is misery. He is pain. He is weak. I kind of get it, but at the same time I kind of wish they’d put in a side character who is mostly free from those attributes.

Des sums up the show’s occasionally shabby edges, another of which is their unrealistic portrayal of police investigations.

Worth a watch?
I binged this thing hard. If you don’t mind the philosophical issues and you like the typical American black comedy style, then absolutely.

By the way…

  • *The show is set in Canada, where assisted suicide was illegal until the law changed during filming of the third season, which means it technically doesn’t make any sense now.
  • I have to give credit to Katie Douglas for a particularly standout performance as Naomi.

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Quickfire round: Trinkets (Season 2)

Much worse than the first one, this final season of the show about an unlikely trio of friends who bond over court-mandated visits to Shoplifters Anonymous was full of terrible writing and sketchy plots. Still, the cast are amazing and the finale was strong.

At the start of the season, the trio walk into school together for the first time.

Trinkets is essentially a story of friendship. Three characters from school (Tabitha, the rich and popular one, Moe, the smart but scatty one, and Elodie, the shy newbie) bump into each other at a meeting of Shoplifters Anonymous. The story is funny but quite emotional – it’s clear that Elodie shoplifts because she misses her recently deceased mother, and Tabitha because her parents are divorced and her boyfriend is physically abusing her. As for Moe, well, that one’s quite the spoiler.

The show’s first season was really quite good. The trio break down the barriers of social interaction between different groups of people in high school and form an unlikely – and mostly secretive – bond. They even get matching tattoos (of a triangle, no less). They help each other overcome their problems of relationships or abuse or loneliness, with plenty of shoplifting along the way.

It all ended with Elodie running away from home to join a singer on tour whom she was clearly enamoured with. The problem with that ending is that they needed her to come back for the second season, so her position gets abruptly reversed. That’s the problem here – many scenes in the show are just… weird. In some scenes, characters make a big deal out of nothing, while other scenes there seems to be a set up for bigger drama down the road only for that story arc to fizzle out into nothing.

The cast make the most of the bad writing and you do feel invested in the characters themselves, it’s just a shame that the shoddy writing cuts through and is more noticeable than in other shows I have seen this year, and certainly more so than in the previous season.

So, although I was ultimately enough of a fan to binge the second season, I can’t say I particularly recommend Trinkets to anyone who doesn’t feel immediately captivated by the synopsis.

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What I thought about: Teenage Bounty Hunters

This show about, well, bounty hunters who happen to be teenagers, has the same energy as Netflix’s Insatiable. That is to say, it’s random, doesn’t make sense, and is probably, technically, not a very good show. And yet, somehow, being drawn so much to the characters makes me want a sequel.

Looking far too happy, given the situation

What’s it about?
Actually, you know what? The title is misleading. The trailer even more so. I was led to believe that the show would start out with the main characters – twin sisters Sterling and Blair – already being seasoned bounty hunters. Instead, they stumble into the world of bounty hunting by virtue of being white, living in Atlanta, and thereby knowing how to shoot a gun. The girls help a stereotypical ‘old, tired, wise, and fed up’ character, Bowser, apprehend a bail skip.

They split the cash with Bowser but beg him for more work to pay for repairs to their Dad’s truck which they wrecked earlier on. I would like to say that the rest of the show sees the twins in various scenarios hunting down bail skips with a great deal of comedic violence, but bounty hunting is only about 30% of this show. The rest of the screen time is dedicated to the girls’ relationship issues with both their partners and their family, including an incredibly shaky family-secret plot that really doesn’t stack up.

What do I like about it?
The chemistry between the twins is fantastic (the actors are not actually related IRL) and despite the weird, disappointing, plot, you can’t help but be drawn to them. It is also funny in parts, and I suppose I have to give credit to the show’s creator for shining a light on the weird little part of society that is hyper-religious upper middle class Atlanta, not something you really see in television.

What do I not like about it?
Pretty much everything else. Like I said, the plot just doesn’t work. It’s too absurd in some ways, and too serious in others. There’s no equilibrium. The trailer also massively oversells the content of the show – I can count on one hand the number of bail skips they actually apprehend. Too much of the plot is mired in this bizarrely fake-feeling emotional turmoil experienced by the twins and their peers at school.

And don’t even get me started on the series finale. The writers kept everything so incredibly coy up until the final episode that the number of twists and turns occurring in it don’t have nearly as much satisfaction as they would if they were paced correctly throughout the show.

Worth a watch?
I know the show has some important undertones for some people, and there’s a lot of hype on social media for it. Unfortunately, from a technical standpoint, I just can’t recommend it. The story ruins it, the trailer massively oversells it.

By the way…

  • The show was going to be called Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters, which would have served basically no purpose
  • There’s a lot of Christianity in this show and honestly it’s just weird in 2020

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Back for more: How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) (Season 2)

The teenage drug kingpin is back. MyDrugs has become a national hit, and Moritz has developed an online persona, m1000, to carry that fame anonymously. With an expanding business, he faces new challenges – especially as his friends and accomplices want out.

Who knew to sell drugs you had to befriend a bunch of Albanians and go hunting?

This season was a nice continuation of the first, and I must have watched it all in under 48 hours. So, yes, it’s just as gripping as before. Moritz is pressing ahead with his business, aided by his friends (read: suppliers) from the Netherlands, who encourage the expansion and even ask Moritz to develop a front to keep control of his operations.

The show also continues to nail the more technical aspects of the plot. For example, new character Lena (whom Lenny has been catfishing since Season 1) is revealed to be a travelling con artist, blackmailing businessmen in hotels across region by hooking them into her fake ‘Free Hotel Wi-Fi’, an act that allows her to view their browsing activity and even remotely record their webcam while they… you know what. This is a very real possibility and a good lesson to be careful about joining any public / unsecured Wi-Fi networks, especially without the use of a VPN to encrypt your browsing.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. Moritz struggles to balance his schoolwork, drugs business, and relationship with his girlfriend Lisa, whom he is desperately trying to keep safe from any knowledge of his activities. There might even be the return of a certain Albanian drugs gang looking for answer about how one of their own killed themselves with a certain someone’s 3D-printed gun…

It looks like this show is going to be renewed for a third season, and I’m all for it. The production values are fantastic and I love the attention to detail shown to the technical aspects of the show.

As always, watch in German and turn subtitles in if you need to.

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Quickfire round: Sonic the Hedgehog

Affectionately known as the Blue Blur, Sonic the Hedgehog stars in a live action debut that is… actually pretty good, really. With a much improved character model, this is a solid family movie.

Before and after. You can see the immense improvement to Sonic’s model.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game series dating back to 1991. I was born in 1996, and my first proper experience with Sonic games were the GameCube trifecta of Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, and Sonic Heroes, which I think all came out in 2003. The game series had more of an impact on my life than you might think, but that’s a story for another day. What matters is that Sonic has a hugely varied fan base – the target audience of children, and sone much, much older fans who remember the classics.

So, when we first saw the trailer for the live action movie, we were all taken aback by the insanely awful character model. Live-action Sonic looked too human to the point where it was just terrifying to look at. Nowhere near human enough to pass as a human, though, which begged the question – why? Why did you need to massacre the original design of the character just to fail at making him fit into the real world even a tiny bit?

Thankfully, the studio listened, pushed the release date back, and re-did the models. The result is much better. As for the rest of the movie – it’s all fine. There are funny jokes. The acting is decent, especially Jim Carrey, whose casting made complete sense, as chief antagonist Dr Robotnik. There are action scenes, there are slower more dramatic scenes, and you genuinely root for the characters.

The only criticism I have is that the plot was very shallow and it all felt over very quickly. I mean, everything pretty much happens over the span of 2 days. Given the target audience, however, I suppose it makes sense. Go watch!

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