Netflix Binge – Columbo

I have written before on my love of classic TV, including a Detective series from the early 1970’s, Columbo.

Once again, I am back, re-watching the series, and I am again struck by the production quality, and the stories.

Yeah, like many of the genre, the stories are predictable, but the theatrical presentation is outstanding, and the character Columbo, is the perfect vehicle for Peter Falk to shine. Quirky at his finest, and completely at home in his role as the unkempt homicide detective, Peter Falk remains charming in his portrayal, and the type of character is reprised often (including his outstanding performance in “The In-Laws“, a movie I highly recommend.

Furthermore, unlike many detective stories, the viewer knows up front who the villain is, and we get to watch the process of elimination that Columbo follows, ultimately finding out that it was an early clue (that we all caught), that causes the culprit to dissemble and be caught in the act.

One more point, the shows work out to about 70 minutes, so they were broadcast in a 90 minute time slot, giving ample time for story and character development. This really helps the enjoyment of the story, as there isn’t a feeling of being rushed in the telling of the story.

There is the trademark green, “stinky” cigar that Columbo is always puffing on, as well as the “Oh, one more thing…” the beginning of a question that cuts to the bone, and begins to unravel the composure of the guilty party…

Ah, how I love Netflix, and binge watching. My classic TV addiction is fed once again.

Oh, and pick up a copy of The In-laws, it is a very very funny movie…

Drugs, Inc.

I have posted before on the NatGeo show, Drugs, Inc. having blown through the first 4 seasons in a binge watch, then forgot about it. Lately, I saw that Netflix had a couple of new seasons, so back I go into it.

This set of episodes is a little different than the early ones that were more on the supply chain, and talking about the logistics. Now they go into detail on the party scene that drives demand, like the Molly users on the club circuit, or spring break celebrations, or the Independence Day celebration in Chicago, or New Year’s Eve in New York.

Like the original episodes, they do a great job of capturing the human element, the risks taken by the people who source the raw materials, the intermediate production steps, and the traffickers.

Of course, there is plenty of focus on the users, the “demand” component to the equation.

In all it is a pretty balanced view, and there is little sympathy for the end users. They clearly have gotten themselves into their situation, and many of them acknowledge their problems, and don’t blame anyone but themselves. Still, it is fairly tragic to watch.

The detail that they go into, particularly around the Mexican cartels, and the hidden camera work is impressive. Clearly, they have made good use of GoPro cameras.

If you get a chance, drop it in your Netflix queue.

The new Hawaii 5-0

As part of my Netflix binging, I have watched (most) of the original Hawaii 5-0 and the 2010 remake. An interesting amalgam of shows.

The original series was a Jack Lord vehicle, a way to justify living in Hawaii, and to promote tourism in Hawaii. Beautifully filmed, the writing was crisp and fresh (for 1968 that is), and the stories were compelling.

The Remake is refreshing. A lot more character development gets you more involved with the personalities behind the main players. In the original, over the 8 years I watched, there was “some” development of the McGarrett character (played by Alex O’Laughlin, a favorite for the ladies), and even less of the Danny Williams character. In the remake, there is a lot more background, and extended divergences into their backstories.

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Damn NCIS

Last weekend I finished the 12 seasons of NCIS that are available on Netflix. Not quite a binge watching, but a pretty addicting stretch of TV.

While this isn’t a surprise, I often watch old TV shows and series on Netflix, I usually get to a point where I give up. Either the story line becomes tired and stale, or I get bored, and move on. Rockford Files and Columbo are two examples where I fade away after 5 or 6 seasons.

However, NCIS was different. There are several reasons why I stuck with it (and will likely pick up the 13th season when it hits Netflix.)

The Writing

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Vietnam in HD – History Channel series

I love Netflix streaming. There is a constant stream of recommended shows that are hit and miss. One, “Aliens on the Moon, the Truth” was a miss. However, “Vietnam in HD” was outstanding.

It is a series, 6 episodes (40 minutes each, so originally broadcast, they were hour episodes) of commentary and footage from home movies, journalist cameras, and other sources. The commentary were from veterans, or people who were inextricably linked to the war. Fascinating watching, and once I started I couldn’t turn it off.

Having been born at the beginning of the escalation, it was before my consciousness, so I really had little opinion on the conflict from my direct experience. I of course couldn’t avoid reading about it growing up, but it seemed distant. A conflict to prevent the spread of communism, a domino theory in the cold war between east and west, it seemed remote.

This show dispelled that notion. It starts off with the lead in. The advisors had been in country for a decade (starting in the mid 1950’s) but boots on the ground didn’t commence until 1965.

The story in the first episode about taking hill 875, and the 12:1 ratio of dead Vietcong versus Americans, and how this created the new metric for conflict, the body count.

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