Ten Dramas to Binge Watch Over the Holidays

Good afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce my novelist again and let me tell you the tables of turned. That smug little Maltese got his comeuppance this past week when he did something unspeakable to my novelist’s grocery bag. Dreadful. And he had the nerve last week to embarrass me by telling all of you how I put him in his place. Now things are set right, and I am once again in charge of introducing this blog as I should be. I must mention my novelist has her first novel Chicane for free on Amazon right now which is fitting as the story takes place during the holiday season. And let me tell you I enjoyed this wild winter’s tale immensely. It is explicit in parts but that only makes it more fun. We hope you enjoy it.

Hello. I am Tucker the Maltese. May I say something…?

Absolutely not. Without further ado here is my novelist.   

CHICANE IS FREE ON AMAZON!!!

The Kindle version of my first novel Chicane is FREE to download from Amazon right now until Sunday, December 20th. This is a fast-paced short novel about a racecar driver who is forced to face his demons when he must drive a desperate passenger from a remote cabin outside Nederland to Bolder, Colorado through a harrowing December blizzard.

Also, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist! is coming out in January 2021. This is the third installment in the Musicology book series. I will update you soon on the release date.

This week as promised I have a list of Ten Drama Series that are fantastic to stream over the holiday break. I am going to assume you have already binge watched all of Breaking Bad. If you have not watched all five seasons you need to do that first. Afterwards you can partake of the following holiday binging Smorgasbord. Here they are:

HOMECOMING (Amazon Prime)- If you have not gotten a chance to watch the first season of this riveting show check it out. Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) is a psychiatrist for soldiers returning from the war who stay at the Homecoming facility run by her slick supervisor Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale). The facility is designed to help soldiers figure out how to reacclimate to civilian life before they return home…or is it? Heidi is especially focused on Walter Cruz (Stephan James), a young man who believes he is being held at Homecoming against his will.

SUCESSION (HBO)-This dark (and I do mean dark) comedy won the Emmy this year for best drama and best leading actor (Jeremy Strong). It is the cautionary tale of what happens when you have no heroes whatsoever. Centered around the ultra-wealthy Roy family who own and run Waystar Royco a global media empire, dear old dad, and lead viper Logan Roy (Brian Cox) has a stroke and his adult children son Kendall (Jeremy Strong), daughter Siobhan (Shiv) (Sarah Snook), youngest son Romulus (Roman) (Kieran Culkin) and son from a prior marriage Connor (Alan Ruck) begin a war for the coveted CEO spot all in their own way…if they can convince dad to let go of the throne. And let me tell you this family of narcissists take self-centered scum to a whole new level. Don’t let the first episode fool you. This tale just gets more and more twisted as it goes along, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off it till its remarkable season finale is over. 

BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC but you can stream it on Netflix)-Bob Odenkirk reprises his iconic character in this fantastic prequel to what is probably the best television drama series ever made, Breaking Bad. Bouncing between the epilogue of Breaking Bad shot in black and white and the living color pre-Heisenberg era when Saul was a young pre-attorney and then ambulance chasing lawyer it is the humorous and harrowing evolution of how young Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman. Along the way we see the development of his relationship with Mike (Jonathan Banks), his tender romance with fellow attorney Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) and his tumultuous connection to his brilliant but mentally ill older brother Chuck McGill. This is probably the most underrated show on television. An absolute must see.  

MANIAC (2018 American version Netflix)-Quirky and irreverent this remarkable miniseries is a off-beat blend of present day and science fiction. Owen Milgrim (Jonnah Hill) the quiet somewhat unstable son of the upper class Miligrim family has foraged out and is trying to make it on his own. He decides to participate take a paying gig as a gunnie pig for a drug experiment by the Neberdine Pharmaceutical Biotech company where he meets the troubled and sarcastic Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) who has more than a few problems of her own. During the mind-bending trial, the two of participants start having dreams where each of them crosses into the other’s vision. 

THE CROWN (Netflix)This sumptuous period piece biopic is fantastically well done, and an absolute must see. Starting out with a young Elizabeth (Clair Foy) who is more than smitten with Philip (Matt Smith) the Duke of Edenborough and the two have plans to wed. Elizabeth’s father King George VI is a consummate smoker who at the age of 56 died from a cancer related heart attack. Elizabeth at the age of 25 then becomes Queen a roll which she both does not want and takes very seriously. She is assisted by Winston Churchill (wonderfully played by John Lithgow) who helps navigate her through the brutal territory of British politics. As Elizabeth continues learning and growing from obstacle after obstacle including the deep-seated jealousies of her husband.

OZARK (Netflix)-A dark and gritty crime series this one is set primarily in the Ozarks, but it starts with a blood fest in Chicago. White-collar money launder financial adviser Martin “Marty” Byrde (Jason Bateman) is distracted by the fact that his wife Wendy Bird (Laura Linney), a public relations worker for political campaigns is having an affair with a douche. He quickly comes out of his stupor when he finds out that he and his business partner are in extremely hot water with a Mexican cartel. On his knees and begging for his and his family’s life Marty cuts a deal to launder a huge sum of money in a short amount of time after he gathers his wife and children, bratty teenage daughter Charlotte (Sophia Hublitz) and psychopath wannabe son Jonnah (Skylar Gaertner) and runs as fast as he can to the Ozarks where he meets Rachel Garrison (Jordanna Spiro) whose establishment the Blue Cat hotel and bar Marty purchases as one of his laundering projects. He also builds an unusual relationship with a young woman named Ruth Langmore (two-time Emmy winner Julia Garner) who will do anything she has to in the name of enterprise and survival.  

BIG LITTLE LIES (HBO)-Based on the book by Liane Moriarty. This absolutely riveting story is centered around a group of upper-class women and the intricate way their stories connect via their children at an elementary school in Monterey, California. Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) was blessed with amazing management skills and brilliantly arranges whatever needs to get done. She is married to her second husband Ed (Adam Scott) a likable dependable computer programmer with whom she has a young daughter named Chloe (Darby Camp). She also has an angst-ridden elder daughter Abigale (Kathryn Newton) sired by her first husband beach bum Nathan (James Tupper). Nathan is remarried to yoga instructor Bonnie (ZoëKravitz) and they have a daughter named Skye (Chloe Coleman). Madeline’s best friend is beautiful Celeste Wright (Nichole Kidman) a retired lawyer married to a younger man named Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård). They have twin sons Josh and Max (Cameron Crovetti & Nicholas Crovetti). Madeline’s nemesis is Renata Klein (Laura Dern) a spoiled accusatory woman married to Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) with whom she has a daughter named Amabella. Into the picture arrives young, less affluent single mother Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) and her young son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) whom Renata accuses of choking Amabella. One of these characters is dead. And as the series unfolds through backstory it is up to the audience to figure out which one, why and how.  

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (Netflix)-Based on the book by Jay Asher whose story was inspired by a female family member’s suicide attempt in high school which she survived; the first season of this tragedy is one of the finest shows about teenagers I have ever seen. Unfortunately, the second season is pure dreck. But I am strongly recommending Season One. Be aware, however, this powerful and moving story is graphic and not for the faint of heart. Set in fictional ordinary Liberty High School the series is about a boy named Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and his grief over Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) the girl he loved who committed suicide. Shortly after Hannah has been buried Clay receives a strange package in the mail. When he opens it, he finds it is filled with seven cassette tapes. Each side of each tape has a number making thirteen sides in all. On each side Hannah narrates the story of a person in her life and how that person contributed to her suicide.

MINDHUNTER (Netflix)-Based on FBI agent John E. Douglas’s memoir, this series set in the early 1970’s delves into law enforcement’s first innovative steps towards understanding the minds of psychopaths and serial killers through criminal psychology and criminal profiling. The author’s character is renamed Holden Ford (Jonathon Groff) a young FBI agent who after a bungled attempt to stop a psychotic from shooting himself and others, teams up with the older more seasoned Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and female psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr to interview imprisoned psychopaths and create a method with which to hunt and capture them. Their first interview is with the Coed Killer brilliant but deranged Ed Kemper who is serving time for a handful of murders. Kemper is delighted to be interviewed and gives the two agents and psychologist their first glimpse into the new and terrifying criminal mind. 

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (Netflix)-If you watch no other show this year (except Breaking Bad of course), watch this miniseries. Based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy in a landmark performance) is an INTJ chess prodigy. The only problem is her brilliant and troubled mother tried to commit vehicular homicide/suicide with nine-year-old Beth in the car. Mom succeeds in the suicide, but Beth escapes unharmed and her odyssey begins. She is carted off to an orphanage where she befriends fellow orphan Jolene (Moses Ingram) and convinces the introverted custodian Mr. Shaibel (Bill Camp) to teach her how to play chess. Impressed with her extraordinary talent and spatial intelligence, Mr. Shaibel introduces Beth to Mr. Ganz a high school chess teacher who ushers her into the world of competition, but not before Beth is introduced to addictive tranquilizers which the orphanage issues to the girls daily.

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane (which is FREE on Kindle from Wednesday, December 16th until Sunday December 20th) and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! and Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. Musicology Volume Three, Twist! will release this January 2021. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)-HBO Max

This is a tremendous movie to watch during the holiday season and one I think might get overlooked. The critics at Rotten Tomatoes rightfully give it 100 percent. In Budapest, Hungary in 1940 is an upscale shop owned by mildly gruff but likable businessman Hugo Matuschek (The Wizard of Oz himself Frank Morgan) who has an eclectic staff including his favorite and longest tenured and most trusted employee Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) who has been with Matuschek and Company for nine years. However, there seems to be something amiss between the two men which starts out with Alfred acquiring a female pen pal. The two letter writers have decided to remain anonymous even as the correspondence becomes more serious. Other salespeople in the store include family man Pirovitch (Felix Bressart), salesman and dandy Ferencz Vadas (Joseph Shildkraut), saleswoman Ilona Novotny (Inez Courtney), clerk Flora Kaczek (Sarah Haden), new young ambitious saleswoman Klara Novak (Margret Sullivan), and young plucky delivery boy Pepe Katona (William Tracy). The film is based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László. The play was also made into the films You’ve Got Mail, In the Good Old Summertime, and the Broadway musical She Loves Me. The Shop Around the Corner is by far the best of these adaptations.  

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: KLAUS (2019)-Netflix

A good movie for both younger and older kids and adults for that matter. Jesper Johansson, son of the Royal Postmaster General is a spoiled young adult. He is so lazy he gets kicked out of the postman academy…and his father is not happy about it. Fed up with his attitude, dear old dad sends Jesper to the little remote ice-cold town of Smeerensburg where if he doesn’t deliver 6,000 letters within one years’ time, he will be cut off from his family’s fortune. But it is not easy to deliver that much mail in this small rough and tumble town…that is until he meets a reclusive toymaker who lives in the woods.     

SCREENWRITINGU FREE CLASS FRIDAY: 5 Master Rewriting Processes

This week’s class is 5 Master Rewriting Processes. You can sign up for the class here. ScreenwritingU Free Friday Classes are teleconferences unless otherwise specified.

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