TV Time: Hit & Run (Netflix)

My new TV obsession this week is Hit & Run, the American-Israeli production now streaming on Netflix. (One season so far, dropped earlier in August – 9 episodes total)

Set in Tel Aviv and New York, Hit & Run‘s main character is Segev Azulai (played by the intense Lior Raz). Segev seems to be a straightforward family man. He lives on a moshav (collective farm) with his second wife Danielle and his pre-teen daughter Ella. Segev is devoted to them, and spends his days as a jovial tour guide for visiting Americans.

Danielle is a dancer with the renowned Batsheva Dance Company, but as the story opens, she’s about to fly to New York for an audition with another company. She and her driver stop for coffee on the way to the airport, and as she’s crossing the street, she’s the victim of a hit and run. She dies soon after, leaving Segev bereft and deeply in mourning.

Segev’s mourning takes a turn when his home is broken into and he’s assaulted by the intruder (whom he kills in the struggle), but by the time the police arrive at his home, the body of the intruder is gone. This kicks off Segev’s suspicion that there’s more to the story. Why is he suddenly a target? How can he keep his daughter safe?

Assisted by his cousin Tali, a detective who happens to be six-months pregnant, Segev starts to look for answers. Secrets of his own past emerge — he has a shady history from years back, when he worked as a mercenary in Mexico and was responsible for a former friend being sentenced to prison. Could Danielle’s death have been planned as revenge on Segev?

I will not give any spoilers, but let’s just say that this is only the beginning of the twists and turns and absolutely shocking revelations that come up in every episode of Hit & Run. Just when we think we know what’s going on, some bonkers new secret completely blows all previous theories out of the water.

The action moves between Tel Aviv and New York, and is focused on the grittier sides of both. As you can see from the trailer (below), there are plenty of scenes of violence — hand-to-hand, gun violence, car chases, etc — which is usually so not my thing, but the suspense here was just so fantastic that I couldn’t look away.

The acting is terrific. Lior Raz is all quiet menace and grief and aching emotional wounds. Moran RosenblattĀ as Tali is tough and lovely — you haven’t lived until you see a pregnant bad-ass woman chasing down bad guys. Sanaa Lathan is also great as Naomi Hicks, an American journalist whose past friendship with Segev leads her beyond mere investigation and into personal involvement and risk.

Each of the nine episodes is packed with great acting, hefty action sequences, and twisty plot developments that always contain surprises that pivot the story in yet further new directions.

For anyone who has spent time in Israel, and especially for anyone who speaks Hebrew, the series is very fun to watch. I was on the edge of my seat during one particular car chase early on, when suddenly the cars were speeding down the Tel Aviv road my family uses to get to the beach during every visit! As for the language, the dialogue throughout shifts between Hebrew and English depending on where the scene takes place and which characters are involved. The subtitles are fine, and it’s easy to keep up — but if you speak Hebrew, hearing the slang and the conversational interchanges is especially entertaining.

One interesting thing about the subtitles, as explained by a producer:

It was U.S. Netflix, but we shot half of it in New York and half of it in Israel. All of the scripts were written in English and then the parts that were in Hebrew were translated at a certain point. We got Netflix approval, or their promise, early on that when it came time for subtitles we would go back to the original English scripts, even if it was translated differently in Hebrew, so that we could keep the integrity of the story. It took them a little while to get used to the idea of showrunners. But eventually, they came to respect that.

The full article this came from is really interesting, but it’s full of spoilers, so proceed with caution.

As of now, season 2 has not been officially announced by Netflix, but given that season 1 ends with a cliffhanger, I think it’s safe to assume that the show producers are counting on getting a second season. And given how much buzz this show is generating, as well as its trending status on Netflix, I’m feeling really hopeful!

I mean, they can’t just leave me hanging like that forever, can they?

Hit & Run won’t be everyone’s cup of tea — it definitely doesn’t fall into my usual go-to categories of being upbeat or light or sweet. I’m glad I ventured outside of my comfort zone for this one. If you can tolerate blood and violence, the ups and downs and twists of the story, not to mention the fascinating characters, make this a show that’s well worth checking out.

TV Time: Love, Victor

Is it wrong for a grown-ass woman to be completely in love with a teen TV series? If so… well, guilty as charged. I binge-watched this adorable, addictive series over the past week, and become instantly obsessed.

Love, Victor is a Hulu original series that starts out as a spin-off of the 2018 movie Love, Simon (which is an adaptation of the 2015 young adult novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli). Got all that? Love, Victor has just aired its 2nd season, and if anything, it’s even better than the first.

Each of the two seasons includes ten 30-minute episodes — perfect for nonstop bingeing!

The storyline centers on lead character Victor Salazar, a 15-year-old whose family has moved from Texas to Atlanta after a messy situation (not immediately explained) involving his parents. Victor, along with his two siblings, has to start over, and for Victor, it’s a chance to redefine himself and figure out who he wants to be.

He’s heard great things about Creekwood High, especially when it comes to Simon Spier, a former student who was cheered on by the entire student body when he had the ultimate romantic moment kissing the boy of his dreams on a ferris wheel. (See Love, Simon or read the book if you want to know more!) For Victor, he’s inspired by the idea of Simon, but also annoyed that Simon’s situation seemed to be so easy while for Victor it’s complicated as hell.

For starters, Victor is the son of conservative Catholic Latinx parents who are fine with tolerating nontraditional approaches to life, so long as they’re not in their own family. Victor is also trying to understand his own sexuality, definitely attracted to boys but not quite ready to come out or declare himself gay.

When Mia Brooks, a totally sweet and cute popular girl, takes an interest in Victor, he allows himself to fall into a relationship with her. He likes her and thinks she’s great, and quickly learns that being Mia’s boyfriend gives him instant acceptance at Creekwood. (Being a top basketball player doesn’t hurt either). He even likes kissing her… although when she’s ready for more and he’s absolutely not, he has to face some hard facts — like he’s just not attracted to girls.

Meanwhile, Victor develops an immediate and intense crush on Benji, an out and proud gay boy who attends his high school (and who I think looks distractingly like Rob Pattinson/Edward Cullen). Victor works with Benji at the local coffee shop, where they become good friends, although Victor doesn’t dare admit to his growing more-than-friendly feelings.

Season 1 ends with Victor and Benji embarking on a new chapter and with Victor coming out to his parents. And it’s awesome! And even more awesome that I watched the season when the 2nd season had already dropped, so I could continue straight on through.

Season 2 picks up right where season 1 ends, with Victor coming out to his parents, who are not able to put aside their own biases in order to give him the support he needs. While dealing with his parents’ reactions (especially his mother’s), Victor and Benji are moving forward with their relationship, navigating being out as a couple at school and what that might mean for them.

Victor faces hostility and intolerance from some of his basketball teammates, which becomes one of the season’s overarching storylines. The show also shows Victor and his best friend Felix’s parallel journeys into first love, first relationships, and losing their virginity. I really appreciated the honesty and anxiety depicted about becoming sexually active, feeling really nervous about it, and figuring out whether they’re ready.

Victor and Benji are lovely together, although over the season, certain differences between them build up obstacles that neither had foreseen while in the rosy days of first love. And as the season winds to a close, a love triangle comes into play and the series has the inconsiderate audacity to end on a cliffhanger!

I’m totally Team Benji, by the way, and if you want to know why, you might want to check out this adorable clip:

And just another little taste of sweetness:

I don’t want to give the wrong impression, that this show is just sweetness and light and sweet kissy moments. The characters all face challenges and emotional ups and downs, both the teens and the adults. In season 2, there are many heavier moments, including Felix’s struggle to support his bipolar mother, a Muslim boy’s desire to live his truth but fearing his parents’ reactions, and issues of trust and secrets that affect several of the couples in the series. Additionally, Victor’s parents’ storyline in season 2 is especially strong, as they deal with both the strains in their marriage and their different reactions to Victor’s coming out.

The acting is strong all around in both seasons. Season 2 features some great cameos, and the main cast is terrific all the way through.

I can’t recommend Love, Victor highly enough! I’m thrilled that Hulu has confirmed renewal for a 3rd season already, although I’m frantic over that cliffhanger ending and the fact that it’ll probably be a year before season 3 airs. That’s a long time to be in suspense!

But seriously, check out this sensitive, sweet, funny show. It may be a teen TV series, but adults will love it too.

TV Time: Last Tango in Halifax

If you’re looking for feel-good viewing with quirky, (mostly) lovable characters, I don’t think you can go wrong with Last Tango in Halifax.

Now streaming on Netflix, this BBC production originally aired starting in 2012, continuing over five seasons (on and off) through 2020. Altogether, there are 24 episodes (which Netflix presents as 4 seasons, but it’s all the same show.)

Here’s the trailer for season 1:

The basic plot: Alan and Celia, widowed and in their mid-70s, reconnect on Facebook after their respective grandchildren set them up with social media accounts. Meeting again after last seeing each other in their teens, they each confess that they were in love with the other way back when, but were separated by occurrences outside their control. Now reunited, they shock their families by announcing on the day the meet that they plan to get married!

Their backgrounds are starkly different: Alan lives on his daughter Gillian’s sheep farm with her and her teen-aged son, and Celia lives in the guest apartment of her daughter Caroline’s big, posh house.

Gillian is a crass, outspoken, hardworking farmer who likes casual sex without strings, even though her flings tend to catch up with her. She’s still haunted by her abusive husband’s death 10 years earlier, which is not made easier by her former brother-in-law’s constant suspicions.

Caroline is the head of a well-to-do private school. She is very refined and upscale, although her personal life is messy too — her husband John left her for another woman, then tries to come back once discovering the other woman is an alcoholic. I’m not sure why the expression “sad sack” entered my mind (it’s not a term I remember ever using!), but it suits John to a T — he’s such a loser that he’s utterly pathetic, and yet he just sticks around constantly.

Celia and Alan have their differences too, on very different sides of the political spectrum and with very different ideas when it comes to acceptance and judgment and their children’s lives. Still, there’s no denying their instant connection, and their giddy stages of early love are quite lovely to behold.

As the show moves forward, the circles expand and overlap. Gillian and Caroline, against all odds and despite major blow-ups, become close friends. Alan and Celia’s relationship experiences ups and downs. The grandkids grow up and have their own lives, Caroline finds new love, and the plot weaves in and out between all the characters, showing the glorious mess of having a large, unconventional family.

I went into Last Tango in Halifax expecting something light and silly — and while there are plenty of light, silly moments, there’s also real depth, sorrow, and drama here too. The cast is superb (I mean, really, Derek Jacobi!!!), and I got completely caught up in the characters’ lives. And even though my opinions of them changed over the course of the episodes (I started out thinking Caroline was snooty and awful, yet by the end, I think she was my favorite character — and Celia just made me bonkers so often with her intolerance, yet still charmed me whenever she’d giggle at Alan), I was invested in all of them and basically loved them all.

I’m so glad I made the time for this excellent show! Please check it out — you’ll be glad you did!

Note: The video below is a lovely look at the cast and character dynamics, but it does contain some plot spoilers, so proceed at your own risk!

Binge ideas needed – ready, set, go!

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Binge-watching during the pandemic… well, it passes the time! I’ve actually watched some great TV over the last several months, and now I need some fresh ideas.

So hey, why not turn to the hive-mind for suggestions? I’ll tell you what I’ve loved, and hopefully, you’ll tell me what to watch next. Deal?

So far, my best binges have been:

  • Harry Potter movies
  • Fast & the Furious movies (yes, I have a teen-aged son…)
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Schitts Creek
  • Derry Girls
  • Harlots
  • Veronica Mars
  • The Witcher
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Dead To Me
  • Hollywood
  • Sex Education

I don’t like to watch:

  • Police procedurals
  • Hospital procedurals
  • Crime, violence, gangs, drug cartels (so despite my son’s best efforts, I’m not going to watch Narcos or Queen of the South)

Series I’ve started but haven’t finished:

  • Anne with an E: I enjoyed the few episodes I watched (only 3 or 4), but just haven’t been in the mood to continue
  • The Vampire Diaries: I watched devotedly through season 6, then walked away. Should I go back?
  • The Umbrella Academy: I watched three episodes of season 1, but I don’t really see myself continuing.
  • The Outsider: I loved the book, and I thought the few episodes I watched were really good — but I just don’t think I’ve been in the right mindset for something this dark.

I’ve been thinking about watching Cursed, and I’ve been told I should watch Succession. Meanwhile, I’m watching season 1 of Supernatural in bits and pieces, but don’t feel hooked yet.

So….

I’m open to suggestions! What have been your favorites binges during your months at home? What should I bump to the top of my to-watch list?

All ideas are welcome — ready, set, go!