screen savors: ‘Wolf Hall’ debuts; ‘Orange’ and ‘Episodes’ return

The wait is over for fans of Orange Is the New Black. Season 3 was just released all in one go by Netflix and is available on HOT Xtra VOD.

June 24, 2015 18:00
3 minute read.
‘Wolf Hall’ TV show

‘Wolf Hall’ TV show. (photo credit: PR)


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Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall has passionate admirers, but they aren’t likely to rave about the new BBC series based on the novel, which just started on YES VOD and will be shown on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on YES Oh starting June 21.

Like the novel, the series focuses on palace intrigue at the court of Henry VIII. It is told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance, one of Britain’s most distinguished stage actors), the secretary to Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce, who plays High Sparrow on Game of Thrones, and who may be best known as the unfortunate hero in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil) who becomes an adviser to the king (Damian Lewis, who played Nicholas Brody in Homeland).

The series is concerned with the king’s rejection of the Catholic church, which would not allow him to remarry when his wife could not give him an heir, but the story is all about the schemers who surround the royal family and how an intelligent man such as Cromwell makes his way there.

Although I haven’t read the book, I watched the series with someone who had. She felt that the series, while well acted, missed the essence of the novel— the back story, eccentricities and comic touches that made the characters so vivid. What is left is simply the story, which we got a much livelier and sexier version of in the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, with Natalie Portman scheming and flirting as Anne, and Scarlett Johansson as Mary.

Readers of the book will be curious to see the series, naturally, and some may follow it to the end.

But most casual viewers won’t be drawn in.

THE WAIT is over for fans of Orange Is the New Black. Season 3 was just released all in one go by Netflix and is available on HOT Xtra VOD.

The first season of the series, which was created by Jenji Kohan (Weeds) and was based on a memoir by Piper Kernan, about her prison time for a drugsmuggling offense, focused on Piper, played by Taylor Schilling. In the second season, the show took a closer look at the lives of nearly a dozen other inmates. With each back story, it became richer and more complex.

Those who have been following Orange, one of the boldest, funniest and most sneakily political shows ever, will enjoy this third season as much as the earlier ones.

Alex (Laura Prepon), Piper’s drugdealing ex-girlfriend, who betrayed her twice to the authorities, is back behind bars, thanks to a tip from Piper, and their strange relationship continues. The doomed romance between the pregnant inmate Dayanara (Dascha Polanco) and the nice-guy guard John Bennett (Matt McGorry) gets even more complicated.

And in a storyline that is emblematic of what is unique in this series, the prison becomes infested with bedbugs. All the linens and clothing must be washed immediately; but there aren’t enough replacement uniforms to go around, so about a third of the inmates walk through the episode in their underwear.

This show is remarkable for portraying females who look and act like real women, and this brings the point home. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but the bedbugs get into the library, and all the books must be burned.

Several of the prison’s avid readers have a funeral service for their favorite books, then scatter the ashes on the grounds. Among the show’s many virtues is the fact that so many characters love to read, since reading is one of their few diversions, and talk about books.

ANOTHER FUNNY series, Episodes, is returning to YES Oh for its fourth season on June 24 at 10 p.m. and will also be available on YES VOD. You can catch up with the previous seasons on YES Binge. It’s about a married British comedy-writing duo who go to Hollywood and find their witty series transformed into an unfunny mess when Matt LeBlanc of Friends (playing himself) takes the lead role. Episodes is a sophisticated satire of Hollywood, with sparkling writing that brings to mind 1930s screwball comedy.

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