Movie Reviews: Max Manus / Occupied

by Steve Lancaster8/5/17
Max Manus: Man of War  •  Two reviews, both are Norwegian, subtitled, and available on Netflix. Don’t let the subtitles keep you from these two. Max Manus is a real historical hero of the Norwegian resistance during WW II. Max volunteers to assist the Finns to repulse the Soviet invasion in November of 1939. An invasion that like its counterpart in Afghanistan, 40 sum odd years later, did not turn out well for the Soviets — although, on paper the Finns conceded territory to the Soviets. Keeping that territory would become problematic for Stalin.

Max returns to Norway on the same day that the Germans invade Norway. Max and his friends form a small resistance group, printing pamphlets, painting walls, and minor disruptions. They are so amateurish that a blind man hanging from a balloon could find them, and Max is soon arrested. He makes an escape out of a window and ultimately ends up in Sweden and then the UK.

It is in the UK that Max learns the English method of tradecraft as a saboteur and spy. He is sent back to Norway and for the rest of the war keeps the Germans tied in knots. However, at tremendous cost. By April 1945 his group is destroyed and he is the only one remaining.

Max receives the highest military honors Norway can give, but for the rest of his life he suffers from what we now call PTSD. The history is well told and the feeling of an occupied country is evident in the interactions of the actors.

Occupied

Occupied is a series in 10 parts, and it appears that there will be a second season. It is produced by Yellow Bird Productions, the same folks who did the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and written by a well-known Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbo. The series is set in the not-too-distant future. The PM of Norway is elected on a platform of ending dependence on fossil fuels. He proposes building Thorium Reactors to replace the lost energy of fossil fuels when Norway shuts down production. And, horror of horrorm he actually does what he promises. The bureaucrats in Brussels and the rest of the EU are shocked as reality sets in — no more natural gas and oil from Norway.

The United States has withdrawn from NATO and is independent of foreign oil. The American position is that it is a European problem, let them fix it. The fix by the EU is to encourage the Russians to seize Norway’s oil and gas fields. The PM Jesper Berg calls on the EU for help and gets not-so-politely turned down cold.

Berg is a thought-provoking character. As PM he is responsible for maintaining security in the country, and in the face of a Russian invasion he folds like a dirty sheet. His rationalization is that there is no way Norway could win, so to save lives he takes on the part of another Norwegian, Quisling, and cooperates with the Russians. The Russians keep promising to leave but always find a reason to stay, much like the Germans in WWII.

Berg tries to remain true to his ideals, but reality keeps creeping in. He is slowly pushed into understanding that his accommodation policies are responsible for the enduring occupation. Since it is a series, there are parts that drag, but thankfully, few. Think of it as a ten-hour movie. There is some preaching on global warming, but comparatively little considering the source. The gradual evolution of the PM, Berg, from spineless wimp to resistance leader is the most interesting characterization. However, the other primary character, Hans Martin, contributes to the story.

Hans Martin starts the series as a bodyguard for the PM. He saves the life of the Russian ambassador during a resistance assassination attempt.  For much of the rest of the series he acts as go-between from the PM to Russia. He is ordered by the PM to cooperate (spy on) the Russians. This puts him in difficulties with his boss in the security agency and his friends. By the 10th episode, both are working to end the occupation.

It’s not a bad idea to watch both of these. One is factual history and the other is speculative. However, the interplay between fact and fiction presents a dynamic contrast. In light of the Russian occupation of Ukraine and Georgia, both give an opportunity for serious thought. • (7779 views)

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90 Responses to Movie Reviews: Max Manus / Occupied

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    These sound interesting, but I will note that the Norwegian oil and gas fields, like most of those in Europe, are located well off-shore in the North Sea. Technically, they could be occupied without occupying any Norwegian territory, though in practice Russia probably would at least hold the nearest areas.

    I will add that Quisling actually encouraged Germany to invade. The collaborationist prime minister might be compared to someone like Pétain in France.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I watched the first episode of “Occupied” today. The production values are good. The casting is good. The plot moves along. This looks like a serious effort at a drama.

    And Steve’s right. Don’t worry about the subtitles. I’ll even be less gracious then that: If you avoid movies either because of subtitles or because they are black-and-white (and I know some people like this), you are an idiot. There are a lot of good foreign films out there.

    If you don’t want spoilers then don’t read on. But I don’t think this will spoil the first episode and it will give you an idea of whether it’s your kind of thing or not:

    Al Gore is elected Prime Minister of Norway (or it just seems that way) and declares that they will halt all oil and gas production. They’re going to depend on the new miracle element discovered by some monk. It’s call “thorium,” named after the Norse god, of course.

    Next thing you know, a black helicopter kidnaps the Prime Minister and coerces him into accepting Russian control of Norway’s gas and oil facilities, including offshore platforms and on-shore refineries and such. The Prime Minister’s overarching motivation (acting more Swedish than Norwegian) is that no one get hurt. He capitulates at the drop of a feather.

    The humorous part is that when the PM is in the helicopter with guns pointed at him, who should appear on a laptop screen to say “Howdy” but an official of the EU. So basically the EU, in cahoots with the Russians, have kidnapped the Prime Minister of Norway and said: “Dammit…you will power our laptops, smart phones, and teflon vibrators with the only source of energy that can do so…even if we have to turn sovereignty of part of your country over to the Russians. Have a nice day. And, by the way, you can talk to the Swedish PM (hello there) who is (et tu, Elsa?) also in on the plan. Fuck you very much.”

    From an American point of view, it’s completely impossible for me to guess whether Norwegians would see this kind of drama (judging from the first episode only, of course) as a parody of the global warming scam, a warning about the power of the EU, the danger of feckless politicians, the danger of institutional lying, etc. I really have no idea. I suspect there are more than a few Norwegians who aren’t happy with any of this. But my guess is that most of this goes right over their head. It’s likely as unconnected to real life (in their eyes) as “The Wizard of Oz” is to practical life in Kansas.

    Also, consider the context that it is the importation of Muslims into Norway that threatens the foundations of the country far more than a modest rise in sea level (even if global warming was true).

    My advice is to watch this with a friend and laugh at the stupid Europeans. They are getting what they deserve. Are Norwegians astute enough to realize that shit will happen if their leaders actually act according to their chicken-little global warming beliefs? They’re already wrecking their country because of their multicultural beliefs. And although politicians run on platforms of “sustainability” and “green energy,” only the True Believer (such as Jerry Brown and the multitudinous kooks in California) actually believe they could shut off the oil spigot…and should. Vast sums of money have already been wasted on “sustainable” energy. But it seems a marketing ploy by politicians meant for gullible voters. Most don’t really mean it. But, goodness sakes, this Norwegian PM does.

    I wonder who the target market is for a series such as this. Is there anyone left in the EU who would see a series such as this a realistic and relevant warning? As one reviewer noted, the situation in Greece (being coerced by the EU to toe the line on finances) is vaguely similar. A small country dominated by the demands of a larger consortium.

    What I immediately get from this is how easily Europe could be toppled by Russia if Russia flexed its muscles. People have become disconnected from reality and would likely swallow down anything. In this first episode, the Secret Service agent’s black wife swallows down the PM’s announcement of the Russians taking over oil and gas production. “See…no war, like you said” is what she more or less says to her husband. The public is so gullible right now.

    The Russians could just send a note to the EU saying “We’re nuking London, Paris, and Berlin and killing every EU leader tomorrow unless you announce that Russia will be partnering with the EU for their security arrangements.” When lying becomes easy, wouldn’t their first act be to lie again? Why would any of these douche-bags take a risk for a principle such as national integrity? They dumped that idea long ago when they started flooding their country with Muslims.

    In essence, Angela Merkel already acts as a traitor to her own country. Nothing in this first episode is far-fetched, although this exact scenario seems a little dumb. But then it’s difficult for me to judge because most of what the EU is doing is pretty dumb.

    I like the casting in this as well so far. I’ll give it another episode or two. This doesn’t really seem like the type of series I’d stick with. But who knows?

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    A couple intern yutes at NRO wrote an article that isn’t half bad: If Millennials Won’t Stand Up for Themselves, Who Will? I think it generally intersects on the subject matter of “Occupied.”

    Maybe Steve, who has seen more of this, can fix my errors of generalization. But it seems that Norway is first “Occupied” by a libtard Prime Minister voted in by a vapid and gullible electorate whose dumb religion-of-choice is the Church of Global Warming. Prime Minister Berg is of the Green Party.

    The NRO article is about (or should be more about) yutes obsessing over relative trivialities (global warming, for example) while being sold down the river financially by their elders. What a racket. Aging politicians such as Pelosi (or young Messiahs such as Obama) whip up various chimeras while the idiot electorate is harmed. Sure, a $15.00 minimum wage (or “saving the planet”) sounds good. But what are the costs?

    In “Occupied,” the costs are losing their country piecemeal to the Russians. I don’t think I’ll stick with this series because I think it will just be a one-note theme of collaboration leading to loss of liberty leading perhaps to rebellion and whatever. I supposed this kind of series could potentially be a tonic to the people of Norway (and anyone else who watches it). But will they ever perceive that the villain is not CO2 but these slimy and ideologically goofy politicians selling their utopian snake oil?

    I fear this series will offer very little political introspection or critique. This is one thing I liked about the first season of Lilyhammer. It was a spoof of many of the girlish and libtard ways of Norwegians, in particular, and Europeans, in general. I don’t see that happening in this series. But maybe Steve can give an opinion on this.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Everything government does comes at a cost. Naturally, those who propose new programs, or enlarging old ones, have no interest in discussing costs. But sooner or later they have to be addressed.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The cost of the PM’s “renewable energy” schemes would appear to be the sovereignty of his nation. I’ve now watched most of the second episode as well. I’m already tired of it. Basically this is libertarian porn. It is the slow-motion playing out of the camel (the Russians, in this case) sticking its nose under the tent.

        And I’m all for libertarian political porn. But this series seems too predictable and one-note. Nor is there anyone offering a critique as events play out. I mean, shouldn’t there be a character saying something like, “Well, if the Norwegians and the Norwegian Prime Minister don’t want to play the role of adult in securing necessarily energy resources for their country, then someone else will have to.”

        In this case, the EU (with gleeful help from the Russians) step in as the responsible adult. But this series is not “House of Cards” where at least the cynicism is on display in various asides and soliloquies. There is no character (yet), for example, telling the Norwegian PM “It’s all well and good to campaign on the threat of ‘climate change’ and ‘green energy.’ But, good god man, it would be disastrous to actually act on it.”

        So it appears this series remains very much unreflective. You do have the matronly feelings coming from this ostensibly male Norwegian Prime Minister that the overriding principle is that no one is getting hurt. He is justifying capitulation to the Russians and the EU because “no one will get hurt.”

        Too bad we didn’t see more of the PM in the chopper while the Russian commando kidnappers had him. In reality, we can suspect that the PM agreed to their terms, in part, to save his own skin. But we have not seen much in depth into his character. He’s basically Neville Chamberlain at this point, believing all kinds of vague promises from the Russians and EU….but always giving ground when push comes to shove.

        This could have been a good series that explored many controversial political themes. As it is, it just seem to be superficially driving past the subjects. But maybe it begins making and having a point later on. I just don’t think I’ll get there.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One should note that Chamberlain, under pressure, at least learned better. Shortly after Hitler moved into the Czech territories and set up a protectorate Igiving Slovakia nominal independence), Chamberlain denounced this, and from then on remained a determined (if not very effective) opponent. This would be very unlikely for a Green. At a key moment during the 1940 campaign, Chamberlain joined with Churchill to rebuff Lord Halifax’s idea to see what terms Hitler would offer Britain.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            According to Steve, the Norwegian PM finally does join the resistance. Perhaps the main difference between liberalism and conservatism is the willingness to take a mallet to the support structures in hope that something better will be produced, perhaps thinking that those structure are “regressive,” even “racist,” in the first place.

            The Norwegian PM — so insistent on throwing away proven technology — reminds me of Steve Jobs who was forever inconveniencing his customers by removing legacy support for devices and standards. Mac users spent a lot of money to be able to run in place. Once a technology was deemed “old,” it was dispensed with whether that technology was still abundantly useful or not. Steve knew better (or so he thought). The rest of us were brought along kicking and screaming.

            And sometimes he did know better. Often he did not. But at least he was betting his own money. There is no real cost when the leftist idealists are wrong. Again, I’d watch more of this series if there was at least one character making comments such as this. Yeah, it might suck in the short-term to have the Russians take over your country, but might they do better? And will the people really care as long as their iPhone rechargers can still be plugged in?

            Perhaps there’s something to be said for the ancestors of the Rus to return and run Norway properly. And who needs “thorium” when you have uranium? There is (as yet, through 2 episodes) no back-story on why this energy source is viable, if it produces fewer waste products, etc. Perhaps it is superior and viable. But there’s just not enough juicy detail and introspection in this series to make it worthwhile. There’s a core of an idea there. But, at least as I would have it, there is little meat put on the bones of the skeleton.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              My understanding is that thorium is a lot more abundant than uranium (or maybe just fissionable isotopes of it), and it would be very suitable for fission for electric power.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Here’s a Wiki article on thorium which says:

                Thorium is predicted to be able to replace uranium as nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors, but only a few thorium reactors have yet been completed.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the sub-plots of “Occupied” is some restaurateur chick whose business is going under. But a happy surprise for her is when a group of Russians want to rent it out for the night. No place else was available or willing. And it looks more and more like she will rely on the Russians, and only the Russians, to keep her business going.

    Collaborationism is central to this series. And none of it is far-fetched. Look at the leaders in the West collaborating with Islam. The Norwegian PM has nothing over the traitor, Angela Merkel. There was a story the other day that some town council in the U.S. had forbad a Synagogue from opening because it might attract violence – from the religion, of course, that these same people claim is non-violent.

    Only the lack of some good dialogue is holding this series back. But all the situations are real. Not only is this restaurateur chick willing to collaborate with the Russians to save her restaurant, she might even be looking to replace her Norwegian journalist boyfriend with one of them. She has already kicked him out of the restaurant because some of the Russians are nervous about him.

    And there was finally one bit of explicit commentary of the type I’ve been waiting for. This one Norwegian journalist is about the only one in the press holding the PM’s feet to the fire about the Russians. Doing the job that you would expect a journalists to do. His boss is more or less with him. But his boss noted that they were losing circulation because of this, especially when all the other papers were featuring stories about the PM’s new baby.

    All of this is believable. All of this and worse is happening right now in America where we’ve elected a corrupt and vulgar game show host and casino operator to be president, a man who is fundamentally shallow and dishonest. Our press, too, looks away from and ignores the real problems to basically report on fluff.

    I’m not sure how this series turns out. But at the end of the day you know that people who have a self-interest more focused than “saving the planet” are going to be running the European countries one way or another. The European countries have decided in so many ways that they can’t be bothered with their own future.

    We in America are little better as we squander our children’s futures to pay for entitlements and “free stuff” for all those bedrock conservative and other voters (and, you bet, more than a few libtards as well).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Such collaboration tends to be common. You saw a lot of it in France during World War II, and many of them paid the price after liberation. Of course, many in Russia were initially happen when the Germans came in and kicked out the Communists, though this changed as they found the Germans were even worse.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Where do one’s loyalties lies? Saving the planet? Nationalism (now a dirty word)? Or making a buck?

        I would love to watch this series with a typical Norwegian. Again, I honestly have no idea what they think of such a series. Do people even discuss their private thoughts anymore?

        Certainly I ought to side with the entrepreneur rather than her journalist boyfriend or husband, (I’m not certain of his status. But it’s obvious that he’s an expendable male.)

        Is working with the Russians worse than collaborating with this kooky Green Party Prime Minister? Where should a German’s loyalties lie, for instance, with the traitorous Merkel or somewhere else?

        We see the same problem in America. What does a good conservative or Christian do in the face of Donald Trump? Do you collaborate or not drink the kool-aid?

        The world has always been a morally complicated place. But it’s becoming crazily so. PETA now says that eating cheese is sexist.

        I suspect the Russians might do a better job at energy production than the countries enfeebled by the state religion of Global Warming. One thing this series does not do very well so far is give you an idea of why the EU would back a Russian invasion of Norway. (Why not send in the Germans or Brits who are at least a part of the EU?) And this is what we see happening as the Norwegian prime minister is emasculated by his overriding concern that no one get hurt. The Russians are there ostensibly just to keep the pumps running, but it’s very clear that they (and the EU) mean to stay and expand their influence.

        Yes, defending one’s borders from invaders (either the EU or Russia) might get someone hurt. But slavery is the alternative. There is some slight feel to the program that the general populous doesn’t much care about the Russian “energy management” as long as their iPhones can be recharged when they plug them in. But this series is doing very poorly in giving you a larger scope of what is going on, what people are thinking, what the Russians are actually doing, what the EU is thinking, what member states and the general populous of the EU think about this. I’m sure to some extent the details will unfold. But this so far this story if too disconnected from reality. It’s more like a Twilight Zone episode that is running longer.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      “The European countries have decided in so many ways that they can’t be bothered with their own future.”

      Well Brad you’ve nailed it. Europe will ultimately fold because there are no more Europeans. The birth rates and the church attendance rates tell the whole story. People who have no religion have fewer children, and people who have no children have no future. Both are acted out in Europe today, attendance at religious services is mostly by gray heads, like you and me, and is in single numbers in most of Western Europe. At the same time the birth rate per woman is approaching 1 child per woman, even in countries like France with its large Moslem population. By 2050 the native European stock will be half of what it is today.

      I doubt that there is any way for Europe to reverse this slow moving demographic death. Our children and grandchildren will have to deal with a Europe that is Moslem, non-democratic, and armed with nuclear weapons. There may be hope for Poland and the Baltic Nations, even Russia, but France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, and Italy are lost already.

      The UK may have a chance by closing its borders and the Chunnel but I put that at best 50/50. The legacy of the Empire may live out in the Commonwealth. Sooner or later the Scotts will vote to withdraw and Northern Ireland will blow up again, the Welch are making nationalist noises. The Empire that took a 1000 years to build will be shattered.

      Only the rebellious colonies will have the capability to withstand the onslaught that I believe is coming. The world views America as weak, and every time that happens fat-rapists of little girls, and anti-Semites think they can challenge consensualy governed free people. It won’t work out well for the dictators but then they never listen anyway.

      I suppose I may be overly pessimistic but I see real nation-state war on the horizon with millions dead and economies shattered, and I don’t think there is a way to prevent it.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well Brad you’ve nailed it. Europe will ultimately fold because there are no more Europeans.

        Steve, I just started episode four. And (however ham-fisted) it was the first time there was any political introspection from the outside looking in. The black chick (wife of the security guy who is now basically a lackey for the Russians via his government) and some blond chick are having a discussion out on the balcony. The white chick is bemoaning the lack of democracy and the loss of rights. The black chicks thinks the white chick is hyperventilating over nothings. After all, the Parliament approved the measures. And what do you want, a war with the Russians?

        This back-and-forth was pretty stupid and dull…although, arguably, representative of what passes for dialogue in the West. And then the stupid white chick said the stupidest thing of all, and I paraphrase: “The way things are now, I couldn’t bring a child into this world.”

        Oh, the drama. How horrible. CO2 will kill us all. DFC.

        And there you have another reason for the death sentence of Europe. Frankly, I say give it over to the Russians. They probably would run it better.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One thing to note is that one of the main reasons Europe has such a low birth rate is because so many pregnancies end in abortion. I read this about Kosovo back during the bombing campaign there. The Serbs has lots of abortions and thus few children, whereas the Muslim Albanians were the reverse. The same thing is happening in much, perhaps virtually all, of Western Europe.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Tim, abortion is a concern from a moral point of view but aborting reflects the desire to not have children, is distinction without a difference. The birth rate even among Muslims is declining. 2nd and 3rd generations have noticeably lower birth rates than new immigrants, still higher than native Europeans. The demographic steamroller may be delayed but not stopped.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            You wonder how many of these people indoctrinated into the Church of Global Warming really believe that bringing another life into the world puts the planet at risk. I think many of them do.

            One of the problems — and do correct me if you think I’m wrong — is that there are few Christians in high-profile places giving an example of the opposite point of view, that humans have value, that the earth was made for us, that we have a destiny higher than vacation time and early retirement.

            Many Christians (see: Trump) have fallen into the trap of politicizing their religion. That is, putting politics over the core meaning. And, well, is Joel Osteen the answer? Or the various ass-kisser media ministers whose idea of carrying a cross is screen time?

            I agree with Dennis Prager that Leftism is the world’s most dynamic religion. But surely we see that this is a shooting star, a short-term burst, a set of self-refuting beliefs that cannot stand the test of time if only for the simple reason that self-extinction is core to the beliefs.

            That leaves Islam and Christianity. And few on the Christian side have the dynamism and clarity of purpose that many on the side of Islam have, although a very bad purpose it is on that side.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I suspect that leftists see the question of progeny in terms of conversion, much like the Shakers (who eventually died out, but lasted for a while). That’s why control of education is so important for them. The idea is that the deplorables produce the children and the leftists brainwash them.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              The charter for the EU, completed some ten years ago, does not mention Christianity or Judo/Christian values in any of its thousands of words. It is a totally secular document. I suppose it is possible to extrapolate those values but there is no substantive expression of the historical roots of Europe. I will make a bet that any person who has four or more children, here or in Europe, is one of four:
              1. Orthodox Jew, 2. Evangelical Christian, 3. Mormon or 4. traditional Catholic.

              Further, I would also assume in each case they are middle class. Europe’s only goal is to die a comfortable death, the one thing they seem able to accomplish.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                One should add a fifth type who might have 4 or more children: active Muslims. And they aren’t likely to be middle class.

              • Steve Lancaster says:

                Tim, interestingly enough the demographics present a mixed picture. Large families are common among Muslim immigrants in the first generation say those who immigrated in the 70s and 80s, however, 2nd and 3rd generations almost match the European norm, while 4th generations do match down to decimal points.

                While many of these communities remain rigorous in their orthodoxy they are not producing children in the mass number expected. I believe this is part of the motivation of Merkle and others to open boarders. In general, as new immigrants arrive they maintain large families only for the first generation and scale back in subsequent generations.

                If you examine the immigrant flows to our Southwest from Latin America a similar pattern emerges. Birth rates per woman are still higher then the American norm in 2nd and 3rd generations but by 4th generation they match our current rate of 2.0.

                The US is the only Modern society with a replacement rate that will keep the population stable. The reason, I believe, is the fundamental belief in G-d that is a part of our cultural DNA.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Well, as I mentioned, the Kosovo Albanians had few abortions compared to the Serbs, and therefore presumably more children. I don’t know how big the difference was/is.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                “Die a comfortable death” might make a good James Bond film title.

                I’m through 5 episodes. The Russians were (apparently) planning to leave until a bunch of their workers were killed by Free Norway. Given the nature of the intrigue, for all we know, Free Norway is run by the Russians. I wouldn’t doubt it in the least.

                The party is trying to oust the PM but he seems to being using this bombing of an oil refinery as a way to avoid a party conference which his party wanted in order to oust him.

                The blond security director chick with the brain tumor is, for some reason (and I guess I missed why), working to help Free Norway.

                Kudos to the acting job of the guy playing the Norwegian PM. He’s the stand-out. I don’t consider any of the cast as bad actors. But he’s the one of quality. And although I really don’t like her, the restaurateur chick is also doing a good job of acting. Oh, and I guess her journalist husband is okay as well…who is now freelancing, the government having intimidated his publisher into silencing any hard-hitting news.

                I’m rooting for the Russians against the Green Party. And there’s little sign that these Free Norway terrorists are little more than Norwegian yutes with too much time on their hands. Right now the series is sucking air just a bit. Lots of things in motion but I don’t know if this will all come together craftily.

              • Steve Lancaster says:

                Brad,
                The security minister actually has an epiphany and comes to the logical conclusion that the Russians have no intention of leaving. Perhaps this is triggered by her brain tumor and thoughts of impending death, the captions on that slipped by me also.

                One of the interesting things about this series is the gradualism of the Russians in taking over, from the intelligence operations being run in the Russian embassy to the overt presence of spegnatz troopers guarding vital resources. In very many ways it almost too easy for the Russians. But in light of the occupations of Ukraine and Georgia and the ho-hum response from Europe, perhaps it matches reality too closely.

                Additionally, the gradual growth of the resistance, from fumbling school kids to dedicated professionals. A similar trend is in Max Manus. Could the second season yield the same results in this fictional occupation as the actual occupation during WWII?

                The news man has a story to pursue but has a lot of trouble being heard. There are a few surprises in the remaining shows. His wife the restaurant owner also has an epiphany about the Russians.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                The Norwegian resistance to Hitler didn’t liberate the country. It was still occupied when Admiral Dönitz surrendered.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Steve, first of all, I want to give you some credit for some moxie. You don’t whine, “I post these wonderful reviews of cool stuff and all Brad does is criticize it. Wah. Wah.”

    I appreciate that you give me the freedom to speak my own mind without taking my opinions as a personal insult. You understand, from the get-go, I’m opinionated when it comes to books and movies. And you also know that my opinions are never based on anything than my aesthetic judgments, flawed or singular they may be.

    I will maintain that “Occupied,” unlike so much other dashed-out junk out there, is a serious effort at a series. What it’s lacking is introspection and overview. But I understand it’s quite possible that the crowd who make this kind of series are either incapable of it or think it is too dangerous. Ask that Google employee what the reward is for even letting a little bit of reality in.

    The security minister actually has an epiphany and comes to the logical conclusion that the Russians have no intention of leaving. Perhaps this is triggered by her brain tumor and thoughts of impending death, the captions on that slipped by me also.

    I sort of got that she was into the “Let my life make a difference” mode because of her terminal illness. But those on the Left are always in that mode. It’s what drives them. The problem with this series is that we don’t have much of a rationale for why the EU let the Russians in. Nor do we see anything from the Russian point of view. It’s all simply told to us that Russia means to increment themselves into total control of Norway. But, hell, we barely see them dealing with oil production. So this series fails in regards to the need to “Tell the story, just don’t speak the plot through verbal asides.”

    So I, for one, don’t see the slippery-slope of a Russian effort to take over the country. At least the average person would not, especially because of the newspapers covering for the PM (for the most part). And given that national identity in Norway might not be strong (but how do we know?…this is not dealt with), we might suppose that the EU’s authority legitimizes the Russian takeover of gas and oil production. Maybe that would elicit a big yawn from the populace. But, again, we have no perspective on this. The series doesn’t even attempt to fill in these sort of blanks to give a bit of realism.

    From a strictly outside perspective, there ought to have been a growing resistance against Norway’s own government decades prior, just as there should be ongoing resistance in Germany to Merkel. But last I heard, she’s set for a rather easy re-election.

    With this in mind, with the invited invasion of civilization-destroying Muslims into Scandinavia, should one get all hot and bothered over the EU and the Russians doing the adult thing and keeping the pumps and refineries going? It seems the real threat to Norway is from liberal weenies such as PM Jesper Berg.

    Perhaps it is too much to expect a European-funded series to take a real look at itself in context. And to me, that is what I think is going on and why so much of this series feels like it is superficial. It’s not unbelievable that the EU would try to impose its will on a member state. That’s what it does and has been doing. But there’s not even an inkling or question asked as to why they would ask the Russians to come in. That makes no sense from the get-go. A little back story or some behind-the-scenes scenes from the EU’s perspective would have made this a much richer and believable series.

    Addendum: I think it’s a distinct possibility that the Russians bombed the oil refinery. The one guy from Free Norway says he doesn’t know who did it. And we have no idea how many cells there are in Free Norway or if he’s the only active one. He certainly might not have known even if a member of Free Norway did it.

    Also, it’s certainly possible that the Russians would sacrifice some of their own in order to sink their hooks into Norway even deeper. After all, who wouldn’t want to add a Scandinavian country to their collection? But I think investigations will show that either the workers got out of the van before it exploded or it was full of political prisoners or something like that.

    We all knew that if you scratch a “green” party member you get an authoritarian red Commie underneath.

    The most “House of Cards” Francis Urquhart-esque moment has happened when the Norwegian PM brow-beat his blond chick justice minister. He said, in essence, “Support my decision to have a nationwide referendum on continuing gas and oil exploration for ten years or I’ll tell everyone that you refused to increase security around the oil refineries and thus are responsible for 18 Russian deaths.” And the intimation is that he had never actually told his justice minister to do so but told her point-blank that he would tell the public that he had done so if she didn’t go along with him. Shades of Roger O’Neill.

    The EU had given the PM an ultimatum on this. I don’t remember what it was. But I think the implication was that the Russians would never leave unless the PM went along with producing some sort of guarantee of oil and gas production.

  6. Steve Lancaster says:

    Brad,
    I was under the impression that the basis for Stubborn Things is free and open discussion. That means, to me at least, some one may have an opinion different than mine. One of the reasons I make the reviews short, 500-600 words, is to spark some interest and debate. I figure if you want a full plot analysis then you could go to IMDB and find it.

    Additionally, a good discussion always brings up side issues, often more interesting than the main topic, and that is what communication is all about. I had lunch today with a good friend and our discussion went from his business, to Yosemite, to our boyhoods in Arkansas and the possibility of war in Asia. Nothing was solved except we both gained from talking shit through.

    You have made many valid points about the series. Some I have not responded to as later episodes will answer your questions. However, yes the Russians did bomb the refinery. That will come out in either 8, or 9 when Has Martin discovers that all of the Russians on the bus were prisoners of the FSB. Even Russian don’t blow up engineers when there is a ready flow of condemned prisoners.

    As to why the EU asks the Russians to do their dirty work. Well, thats just supposition on my part but I could see France, Germany and the UK agreeing that invading another EU member would make for bad press, however a Russian takeover would leave these worthies free to tut, tut and moan about the evil Russkies while profiting from the Russian actions.

    I did not like Berg from the outset. I thought he was a typical European PM who thinks all good flows from government. I will grant, the guy who plays him is an excellent actor. Even knowing that he ultimately leaves the collaborationist behind and joins the resistance does not make me trust him. I think in season two he will attempt to take over the resistance and in the process wimp out yet again. Folding in the face of danger seems the only skill Europeans have perfected.

    In a world where the Soviets and later the Russians have invaded and occupied Afghanistan, Ukraine and Georgia not to mention the occupation of all of Eastern Europe from 1945 to 1991 it is not too far fetched to see those very same Russians taking Denmark.

    The one issue that in the real world need be dealt with is the influx of Muslims into the EU. Most of North Eastern Europe have closed their borders, Poland and the Baltic States. However, they are also the most Catholic and Orthodox of all of Europe. The discussion Tim and I had on demographics explains much of the why.

    With so much utter crap on broadcast TV, even a flawed series has its charms. A lot of Occupied is filler, or so it seems, 3 two hour episodes would not only make it more watchable but the flow would improve. But, I guess yellowbird productions makes more money with 10 episodes than 3.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The Russians may be inspired here by the Nazi example. In their fake Polish attack on the radio station at Gleiwitz to justify the invasion of Poland, they left behind a few dead bodies. Naturally, these had been concentration camp inmates.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The Russians certainly tore a page out of their playbook, Timothy. It’s unclear at this point whether they did so in cooperation with the EU. One suspects not, but there’s likely a motivation behind the EU cooperation with Russia that has not yet been revealed. Let’s hope, anyway, or the entire basis of this series won’t make a heck of a lot of sense.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, Steve, that’s all very well said indeed. And I was right! 😀 The Russians were behind the bombing of the refinery, although it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see that coming.

      One of the most humorous moments for me was what is ostensibly a wonderful portrayal of peer pressure and groupthink when the yute (son of the restaurateur chick) uses his cozy familiarity with the Russians to sneak a Molotov cocktail past Russian security. And not only does he do so but he lights one of them and throws it…at something. His own mother’s restaurant? I wasn’t sure.

      But at least he now looks good in the eyes of that chick he was pursuing and had seemingly lost to the more radical yute who was moving in on him. They were all at a yute protest against the Russians. Do we see in a nutshell not only groupthink and peer pressure but how young people tend to be drawn to radicalism for no other reason than achieving some kind of political high? It’s doubtful many of these yutes could spell “Russia” let alone find it on a map.

      And in complete confirmation of Brad’s Theory of War-Facilitating Women, we see how women can drive conflict with men doing their bidding. I’ve never bought the line that “If only women ruled the world there would be no wars.” Baloney. I contend that most wars are fought on behalf of, because of, or partially instigated by women. But don’t tell Google. I could be fired.

      Speaking of which, two articles I recommend reading this morning to confirm Steve’s theory that side-issues that arise in a discussion are sometimes the most interesting part: Stifling Diversity to Protect Diversity. (No one, of course, has pointed out the real driver of all this, which is the reason for the Orwellian lying and doublespeak. This shows a culture that has given women most of the moral power and has used them as a model of conduct. Guys must apologize for being successful and for dominating a particular occupation while women need never bother apologizing for the same in nursing.)

      Here’s another good article by Jay Nordlinger. I’m in 95% agreement with him. If I don’t say much about politics these days it’s because I think most of you out there have gone cuckoo and so there’s not much point.

      Steve, your theory about why the EU would approve of Russia getting involved with Norway is as good as any. We’ll just have to suspend disbelief on this point unless they fill in some backstory in a subsequent season.

      Yes, the guy who plays Berg is doing a great job showing that kind of politician (the kind who predominates now in the West). And I think you’ve nailed it. Even though he will join the resistance, it would make sense that he’d probably undermine that with his own wimpiness. Given that being a man and speaking one’s opinion about things is all but outlawed (See: Google), it’s not surprising that wimpiness predominates. Perhaps an offshoot of this is radicalness. I won’t call it the “middle ground” or “moderation” by any means. But what the West lacks are Reaganesque leaders who are not wimps, are not radical loons, but have firm opinions about things, are forthright, and will draw a line in the sand when it is absolutely necessary. For the Berg types, it is never absolutely necessary to draw a line in the sand.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Djupvik has been thrown under the bus by his boss, Wenche Arneson, the chief of the Norwegian Police Service, in order to cover her collaboration with Free Norway. Wenche has also made contact with an ousted general who early-on was politically incorrect enough not to kowtow to the Russians and thus was forced into retirement. Now he seems to have been recruited by her as a major organizing force, taking the resistance from zealous yutes simply hellbent on blowing something up to a firmer and more organized basis. Or so it looks.

    The Russians have been doing something off the coast. It looks as if they may have landed some commandos of some kind. It’s unclear what all those ships were doing right off the coast but truck tracks were discovered heading inland and then retreating again.

    The restaurateur chick is having an affair with one of the Russians. Her journalist husband (who does, at least in this case, earn that title) is freelancing, having quit the newspaper he was working for because the government put pressure on the publisher not to print anything critical of the PM or the Russians.

    The weenie PM has asked for military help from the EU in order to kick the Russians out. The Russian occupation is still mostly theoretically. It’s a weird thing. You have no idea how many Russians are in the country. Likely it is a very small number. But the Norwegian PM and others are paralyzed by the notion that they should do nothing to upset the Russians. Still, the PM is looking for some kind of show of resolve by the EU.

    Although the plot is highly deficient in making this occupation seem real (thus far), it’s, of course, believable that politicians would cave to an invader. We’re doing so regarding both Muslims disguised as “refugees” and the illegal aliens to the south. The girlified PM just wants to make sure no one is hurt and nothing is escalated….which is basically a surrender (as we have done to illegal aliens).

    FYI, this building, the offices of energy company Statoil, is used as the fictional office of the Prime Minister. It’s an interesting building.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I had an inkling even before the PM suggested it that Djupvik would take a job with the Russians as a double agent. That is apparently what he is going to do. Dangerous work, one would think.

    Hundreds of Russians have apparently come across the border at night and are infiltrating Norwegian society in order to be in place to subvert it. One wonders why they bothered sneaking in at all. Put a rag on your head and call yourself a “Muslim refugee” and the door is already wide open.

    Oh, if only these types of series had a little wit like this. The journalist (the husband of the restaurant chick) was reported to have been killed at the Russian border. IMDB lists him as in only 8 episodes, so it must be true. That opens the way for Norwegian-Russian relations to heat up, at least between the chick and the dark-haired Russian guy.

    The EU sent squadrons of fighter jets in support of Norway….but left out the bombs and all other munitions, so it’s an empty gesture. The EU has now totally sold out Norway, in parallel cutting a deal wherein the Russians will run an even bigger pipeline to Europe and give them a discount.

    Interesting to see a Norway production showing the EU as a predatory force. Again, I can’t say that I can get inside the average Norwegian’s head. Maybe most are tsk-tsking about how big, bad oil yet again finds a way to ruin everything. But, if anything, the PM’s quest for replacing oil and gas with Thorium power plants is presented more like a naive pipe dream. Oil and gas themselves are not demonized. But clearly the EU officials are seen as bad guys. Interesting.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    “Occupied” finished well, in my opinion. The threat of the Russians becomes real and not just something talked about in the background.

    Poor Prime Minister Berg. He can’t get any respect. The Americans poison him just to get him out of their embassy in Norway where he had taken refuge. I found it a little hard to believe that a Norwegian PM would hide out in the U.S. embassy. Wonder how Norwegians saw that. I mean, if you can’t protect your PM, you’re really not a nation anymore.

    The restaurant chick has soured on the Russians and is now aiding Free Norway. Hans Martin has once again saved Sidorva. It’s a little bit like watching an episode of “Blue Bloods.” No crime can be solved in New York City without a Reagan on the case. Same with Hans Martin Djupvik vs. Free Norway.

    PM Berg is kidnapped by Free Norway in the last episode of season one and the season ends with him considering whether to join the resistance or not. In fact, I was expecting a really stupid cliched cliffhanger ending. The ending of the first season was handled extremely well, with subtlety and class.

    Wenche has an interesting exist. She commits suicide and instructs her minister to cremate her body in secret. Wenche has previously made a video tape of her announcing that she was resigning her job as security chief and leading the Free Norway movement. I suspect this was a clever move because she’ll be damned hard to track down now. It could take some pressure off the real leaders.

    But why this stupid Norwegian also poisoned her cat, Goebbels-style, is beyond me. The last two episodes saw a lot more Jason-Bourne-like action and less of PM Berg waffling in closeup. He is a great Neville Chamberlainesque character, always believing that “hope” and acting nice (and avoiding tension) will make everything come out alright. He must cave on some point or another, on average, about every fifteen minutes in this series. One wonders, again, how Norwegians would see it. He may look courageous to them.

    Djupvik has been offered the job of security chief for the Russians, presumably in charge of hunting down Free Norway. He hasn’t accepted yet. That will have to wait for next season, but one assume he does, if only to protect his wife. The writing is on the wall. The Russians are taking over. He’s well-positioned in regards to the Russians, but only if that side wins.

    Regarding characters, acting, and production values, this series was good. Regarding plotting and story-telling, it’s pretty weak much of the time. In the end, it’s laughable, really, that these people — mirrored by their counterparts in Norway and elsewhere — are doing great damage to their country via the religion of Global Warming. There are a couple good scenes in there (rare for this first season) where Berg — the leader of the fanatical and deluded Green Party — browbeats some of his stupid subordinates. In essence he’s telling them, “This is no longer about saving the damn planet. It’s about saving Norway as a nation.”

    I will approach season two when it becomes available cautiously. The series has already begun to repeat itself to a large extent. They need to bring in some better writers and more realistic dialogue.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Brad,
      Good summary, I would add one point. The series does not get preachy on the warming/cooling/whatever issues. It seems that the writers only used that as something to hang the initial plot on and then left it behind. Apparently, there are still some people in Europe who might question the religion of the environmental cult. A small glimmer of hope in a continent otherwise devoid of intelligent life.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Indeed, Steve, on the scale of Obnoxious Leftist Haranguing, it rates fairly low on the whole Cult of Global Warming thing, although the opening credits show “extreme weather” and, presumably, rising oceans. One wonders if global hysteria isn’t more of an overt issue in this series because for the target audience it is taken as a given, as real as gravity.

        I was reading a few reviews of “Occupied” over at the IMDB.com page. And for a lot of people (understandably so), the plot point of the EU choosing Russia to take over the Norwegian oil and gas industry is a problem. I hope (and expect) the subsequent season to flesh this out more. It’s begging for some kind of realistic answer. And a lot of people felt that letting the Russians in would cause an uproar from the rank-and-file in the EU.

        We should remember that the rank-and-file living in the EU have had every insult thrust upon them as traditional names, weights-and-measures, etc., are standardized and regulated by the diktats of EU bureaucrats. A series that showed EU officials discussing behind closed doors the implications of letting the Russians into Norway could have been solved by some offhand comment such as, “We tell them how much curvature their bananas have to have. They’re do what they’re told so long as we promise a ‘vision’ of a European utopia.”

        Perhaps the writers are unable to tackle these subjects because of the chilling effects of the Progressive Goolag-esque inability at honest self-reflection. (Love this graphic, in particular.) But there were all kinds of opportunity to explore these issues — pro and con — but they’re not touched on. A rich texture of contextual meaning was never mined by the plot.

        Whatever its shortcomings, I’ll be sure to at least try the first couple of episodes in season 2 and see if it’s worth watching.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Brad,
          To me Norway makes sense. It is the only country with an immense coastal oil and gas reserve and close proximity to the Russian mainland. Finland spells trouble for the Russians, they still remember WWII, and Sweden may or may not have nuclear weapons. So Norway is a logical choice, additionally, Norway has other natural resources that a Russian takeover could exploit.

          Or, perhaps Yellow Bird productions, a Swedish company just wanted to pick on the Danes.

          Sorry about your cold, get better soon.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Steve, all of these reasons make sense from Russia’s point of view. But I think a lot of people are still scratching their heads over why the EU would sell out one of their countries to what is generally perceived as an enemy…or at least a rival. Again, this could be made clear in the second series. But, oddly, it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue to the Norwegians in this series. They are not generally howling in offense over how the EU could sell them out. (Again, from my perspective, the European electorate is likely used to being sold out by now and just don’t care.)

            The cold is getting better! Thanks.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Well, a spine is not something the EU seems to have or they would be ejecting Muslims rather than putting out the welcome mat. Remember the trouble in the Balkans during the 90s. The EU could not get up enough effort to stop the genocide on their own backdoor.

              As long as they can retire on a state pension at 55 they could care less who invaded who and why. But, then I personally think Europe is a sinkhole where freedom, justice and individuality has gone to die; so maybe I’m biased.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Steve, an article I linked to yesterday or the day before noted that conservatives have trouble defining what they are for. And, as you likely know my mind, I think conservatism has devolved to little more than being against a laundry list of things. This has become so habitual and reflexive, we care only that someone opposes these same things (or seems to). Thus Trump. Thus the RINO Republicans as well who can tick off the list of Bad Things To Be Opposed during election cycles, but then always find reasons not to do anything. This is representative of an electorate that is only against things, not for things, for being against things is little foundation for implementing a platform. One would think being against things would be enough impetus for at least abolishing various things (Dept. of Education, etc.) but it shows the weakness of simply being against and not for.

                We see this playing out in this “alt-right” business. I’m no friend of the “alt-right” (whatever that is). But we see the feckless and outright stupidity of the conservative media as they run to distance themselves — a distancing the inherently thus delegitimizes any critique of the main theme of the Left which is anti-white racism. They thus further cement the idea that it is okay to be against any kind of “white” identity, but god help you should you question black identity, or woman identity, etc.

                Go to the pages of NRO and witness the emasculated article penned by Rich Lowry about maybe it’s time to take down or move statues of Robert E. Lee. I’m no friend of Robert E. Lee and some of Lowry’s criticisms seem legitimate. But only a feckless appeaser with his head buried in the sand could not see that those who want Robert E. Lee’s statue taken down will soon follow suit in regards to all statuary of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc.

                Retirement on a state pension at 55, and to hell what happens to my country as a whole, may be a narrow and destructive purpose, but at least you know what Europeans are for. This lack of a good moral purpose is covered by virtue-signally, as they now call it, and caterwauling over saving the planet, being exemplars of compassion, etc. But at least in some basic sense they know what they are for.

                One of my impetuses (always on the cutting edge here) for paring this site down to tangible action (or reporting on tangible actions, by oneself or others) regarding politics rather than just recreational bitching is because I understood, at least intuitively, what was going on. Despite supposed noble and heartfelt fealty to guns, god, and limited government, conservatives and Christians have been amongst the most shallow of ideological soldiers. Oh, we know how to be offended (matching the greatest talents of those on the Left) but, unlike the Left, we don’t (or don’t care to) do anything tangible about it.

                So the torch has been passed now to Progressives, the various victim groups (all picking at the carcass of America), Islam, and those forces of the “alt-right” who, unschooled in any coherent political principals and teeming with the blinding zealousness of youth, fill the vacuum that was left primarily by the Republican Party, Christians, conservatives, and the “conservative” media.

                Again, I’m no friend of the “alt-right” but the real story here isn’t about a few Nazis. It’s about opposition to the reigning paradigm of Cultural Marxism having been de-legitimized as “racist” by even those on the right. There is now 0% chance of meaningful reform coming from the Republican Party (although they are capable of adjusting or slightly ameliorating the Progressive platform, but never rebutting it, and thus always legitimizing it).

                In the “Dr. Blake” series that I’ve been watching, a new constable (sort of a spy for Dr. Blake’s enemies) has replaced the congenial Constable Parks. This new constable, Charlie Davis, has a chip on his soldier and seems to be going out of his way to be unlikable. In his overzealous handling of some teens waiting for their rock idol outside of a stage door, one of Dr. Blake’s friends accidentally hits the constable in the face (as she was being pulled by the constable). Superintendent Lawson (no friend of this new constable and at least a friendly acquaintance of Blake’s friend) allows the constable to lock her up. The superintendent tells Blake, “I’m just going to let this play out.” He understood that countermanding the young and zealous constable would not have resolved this situation for the better.

                And that’s where we are now. Those who have knowledge of where we should go and where we ought not to go either are in the extreme minority or are living much like the Europeans: virtue-signaling about how awful thing are but otherwise comfortable in their homes, jobs, and/or entitlement benefits. We thus can only let this play out.

              • Steve Lancaster says:

                Brad,
                Good points too often conservatives and libertarians (not the crazy ones) fail to talk about what they are for.

                The latest riots are an excellent example of two fascist groups engaging in violence. Mostly, I believe just for the adrenaline thrill. Both groups, Nazis and BLM/ANTIFA are utilizing tactics perfected in the 30s by Franco, Mussolini and Hitler. At least we know with surety exactly what the Nazis want and the Nazis are very truthful about their goals. So perhaps the Nazis have a minimum of greater moral standing than BLM/ANTIFA. Irony is a bitch.

                I see little philosophical difference between the groups, all are posters for oppression, tyranny and murder. What we are witnessing is similar to Mao’s cultural revolution. I wonder if we will have a Deng Zho Peng to reverse it?

                I think that individual responsibility, limited government and property rights must be the basis for a free society all of these are a part of the 10 pretty good suggestions Moses brought down from the mountain and the method for enabling them are the Bill of Rights. Everything else is subject to discussion within the parameters of these 20 items.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Franco didn’t rely on street mobs, though there were plenty of them on both sides leading up to the Spanish Civil War. He was a traditionalist general leading a typical Spanish military uprising (which actually was planned by Mola).

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Actually, the mainland European countries adopted the metric system long ago, just as many adopted the Code Napoleon for their legal system.

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Since we’re talking about series you can stream on Netflix that aren’t half-bad, let me introduce you to The Doctor Blake Mysteries, not to be confused with Murdoch Mysteries, a series I haven’t been able to develop a taste for.

    Dr. Blake, with hard service in WWII not far behind him, takes over his deceased father’s medical practice. Not unlike Jesse Stone, he’s a fine upstanding character but drinks a bit too much in order to wash away the pain. Think of him as a Dr. Thorndyke without the self-restraint and strict gentlemanly behavior. That is, he’s not Dr. Thorndyke but he is a doctor who regularly investigates cases alongside the police in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

    And elements of this series are just a stone’s throw from the Jesse Stone series with Tom Selleck. In place of the hayseed deputy, “Suitcase,” there is young Constable Park (who apparently is in only the first 10 episodes). Doctor Blake has a slightly antagonistic relationship with his housekeeper (but, in effect, his office manager), Jean Beazley, who could maybe someday be a love interest. Beazley plays the role of Miss Marple at times. She knows everyone in the community and all their little secrets and Dr. Blake will pick her brain accordingly.

    Joel Tobeck plays the generally congenial, but no-nonsense, Chief Supt. Matthew Lawson who recognizes the value of Dr. Blake even if he has quite unorthodox methods at times. But at least through the first three episodes, they do not have the stereotypical bellicose adversarial relationship codified in either “McCloud” between Dennis Weaver and Peter B. Clifford or in “Starsky and Hutch” with Captain Doby. You could probably name a half dozen other great movie or TV antagonist pairs. Surely Dirty Harry had a couple bosses like that.

    There are dozens of cop or detective series on Netflix. And most of them are severely lacking. I just ask for them to not be too self-consciously stupid. In “The Doctor Blake Mysteries,” the people mostly act like real people rather than raging stereotypes. No overt political agenda seems to be apparent, although episode three dealt with homosexuality in, of course, a mostly sympathetic way.

    But part of the charm is that this is a period piece. The old cars are particularly cool. And although Blake is no Thorndyke, he is well-dressed and gentlemanly in demeanor. Low-brows looking for a constant stream of f-bombs will not find it here. This is a “smart little medical mystery show” as one reviewer called it. It’s an oasis away from the normal vulgarity. But that’s not to say the show is extremely riveting. It is indeed sort of a small show. There are three seasons of this on Netflix, so we’ll see how it holds up.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This sounds like how The Avengers got started. Ian Hendry had starred in a short series about a police surgeon. So they decided to take his character and get him involved with espionage through a mysterious chap named John Steed (who was already played by Patrick MacNee). After a year Hendry left and MacNee became the lead, with Honor Blackman playing his partner, Cathy Gale.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I picked up a cold late last week. It really hit me this weekend so I had the strength to do no much more than binge-watch a little Netflix. I went trough the entire first season of “Dr. Blake” and the first show of the second.

        This show is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And certainly if you’re a Sherlock Holmes, CSI, or Thorndyke fan, there isn’t quite as much technical/investigative aspects to this show as I’d like. But there are some.

        But mostly a show like this is good because you like spending time with the characters. It’s a shame they got rid of (or he moved on) the young Constable Parks (Rick Donald) who immediately went into what looks like a PC-weenie series called House Husbands…if only for 13 episodes.

        The reason given in the series for his departure was that he was seconded to Melbourne, and his replacement is suspected to be a spy. It’s quite true that Constable Parks would regularly aid and abet Dr. Blake by giving Blake information that technically he should have given him. And Parks’ replacement seems a starched-shirt kind of by-the-book constable.

        Blake is a suitably quite human and fallible doctor and runs into situations, mostly of his own making, that require apologies afterward. His receptionist/housekeeper worked with his much-beloved father and is there to help keep him on the straight-and-narrow. The doctor is fearless in pursuit of the truth but his overzealousness often gets him in needless trouble. Chief Superintendent Lawson is willing to living with this because he is right, he says, more than he is wrong.

        Generally the plots are sufficiently interesting and the characters are (for a crap-always-happening TV show) lifelike.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I have a book on the Columbo series which notes that mystery series can have good plots without much in the way of interesting characters (such as Banacek) or interesting characters with ordinary plots (such as Magnum, P. I.). The latter tend to be more popular. Columbo notably had good plots and interesting characters.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I think many series match the category of “interesting characters with ordinary plots.” The Dr. Blake series is a nice balance of both…again, depending on one’s general taste in drama. This one is decidedly adult entertainment without being high-brow.

            We can even see a little of Sherlock Holmes in the Dr. Black character. Blake has his chemical weakness (alcohol). He’s single-minded and tireless when the game is afoot. He has the unintentional ability to annoy the upper crust (which is, of course, often somewhat intentional). He’s a gentlemen and can mix with any segment of society because of his innate and strong sense of justice. And he’s single, although not by choice. Blake’s wife and daughter went missing during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia (or thereabouts). This storyline comes to a conclusion at the end of season one/start of season two. (Spoiler: The wife is dead, the daughter lives with an adopted family in China and has no desire to re-connect with her father. She’s 23 and he is hardly a memory to her.)

            I just finished one truly mediocre plot today. It was the season two, episode 2 “The Food of Love.” It was about a Beatles-like up-and-coming rock star who got stabbed backstage after a performance. As it turns out (spoiler, but it will make no difference to the enjoyment of the episode), the father of an under-age teen thought the lead singer of the band had seduced his daughter. He knifed him. As it turns out (the thing that made this plot really stupid) is that the girl was making it all up…and to the extent where she believed it herself. That’s all well and good had this girl been an integral part of the plot from the beginning. But she’s more or less thrown in at the end, mimicking the worst aspects of Agatha Christie. Those keeping score might note the daring aspect of this plot wherein a girl did indeed lie about (statutory) rape. But this angle is not played up. It’s just an afterthought for the conservative mind pounded daily by the absurd.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the characters I’ve gotten to like in “The Doctor Blake Mysteries” is Jean Beazley, the live-in housekeeper, bookkeeper, receptionist, and scheduler for the practice. Apparently Doctor Lucien Blake’s father, for whom she worked for a time, did some of these tasks (such as the bookkeeping) himself. But Blake isn’t much of a behind-the-desk sort of guy.

    The Jean Beazley character is refreshingly not a “modern” woman. She still sees the role of wife, mother, and keeping home as noble and legitimate occupations. She’s also the clear-thinking one on issues such as the death penalty, which was featured in one episode. Of course you get the modern viewpoint shoved down your nose in the episode, “Brotherly Love.” But Miss Beazley is having none of it. She’s more of the “What if your husband or children were killed by a maniac?” sort of person.

    This series is set in that transitional time between (mid 1950’s, I believe) before the idea of woman-as-man-with-a-vagina was taking hold. And, really, this makes for interesting material just as it does in the series, “Call the Midwife,” as we see women taking on greater responsibility in the workplace. And most emasculated males (See: Google) have simply gone along with the feminist propaganda of female victimhood rather than a more rational and moral viewpoint of opening up access to professions based entirely on merit, not sex or race — an important distinction that is obviously lost on most these days.

    Be that as it may, not all ladies saw crashing down barriers just because they were there as a good thing. Miss Jean Beazley rightly sees herself as part of a very important team. She is not competing with Dr. Blake. They are both doing various tasks in order to serve their patients in an honorable, prompt, and competent way.

    Anyway, the job done by Nadine Garner in fleshing out this realistic character is extraordinary…particularly because it’s likely any woman these days (even in Australia) is likely to be very liberal. She’s either very talented or perhaps sees with a viewpoint wider than narrow liberalism.

  12. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the constables in the “Dr. Blake” series mentioned the book, Biggles in the Gobi. As I understand it, there was an entire series of books about Biggles. Has anyone read any of them?

  13. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Mostly, I believe just for the adrenaline thrill.

    That sounds plausible. What would be good, Steve, would be for some actual journalists to go inside these groups and get a feel for what is going on. I mean, I don’t know. I can guess. I can guess that the adrenaline thrill is part of it. I can guess that many of these yutes are from single-mother families and thus have never learned how to act like men (or women). I can guess that the Left, having told them how horrible the world is, has left them alienated, nihilistic, and grasping for meaning.

    But we’ve always had mobs. It’s sort of like poverty. No one need explain poverty. It’s the natural condition of humanity. What needs to be explained are the set of ideas, institutions, and cultural practices that lead to more civilized forms of being.

    And that, I think, is really what we’re dealing with. There will always be thugs. But in our time in America, the moochers, law-breakers, and destroyers have been elevated while hard-working, principled, and good people have been shat upon.

    Things are still too good (materially) in America and across the West to sustain anything but fringe groups here or there. As pissed off as many people are, most still have it good enough where their anger and rage can mostly be theoretically (and purely recreational) and not tangible.

    But we’re getting closer. We’re getting closer to the point where the Left, and the mobs they support and instigate, can no longer so easily be seen as someone else’s problem, or a problem to “tsk tsk” about online while trolling for Facebook “likes.”

    I think that individual responsibility, limited government and property rights must be the basis for a free society all of these are a part of the 10 pretty good suggestions Moses brought down from the mountain and the method for enabling them are the Bill of Rights.

    I couldn’t agree more. And that view is diametrically opposed to the view that predominates today.

  14. Steve Lancaster says:

    Brad,
    Just saw on the news that Denmark is bragging that they have almost eliminated Downs Syndrome. Sounds like great news until you discover the method. Almost 100% compliance with genetic testing of pregnant mothers and 90% abortion rate of those testing positive for Downs, of course all paid for and encouraged by the state. As a means of forcing compliance no additional medical or educational services are available for parents who choose not to abort. It seems that Hitler is alive and well. My disgust for the Dutch over their euthanasia of old people is actually exceeded by my revulsion of the Danes. Europe deserves to die a long and uncomfortable death.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s Iceland, not Denmark, that achieved this landnark in eugenics, But we probably will see it spread through much of Europe. It as been severely criticized by many conservatives, including Sarah Palin.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I just read an article that the percentages of Down Syndrome chldren aborted. Even the US had 67%, but Denmark had 98% and one can assume Iceland is at least as bad.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          One of the richest themes in sci-fi is genetic manipulation of human beings in order to construct something better — sometimes for single-purpose duty such as in one of Ben Bova’s (I think) books on Mars wherein some humans (volunteers or otherwise, I forget) were genetically altered in order to be able to breath the Martian atmosphere. Once altered, that was there lot. There was no going back.

          I think that in the novel some of these altered humans began to rebel…or at least to sabotage some of the human infrastructure on Mars. It’s been decades since I read that. Could have even been another author.

          We’re dealing with tribal politics and beliefs, not reason or morality as commonly envisioned. But it’s interesting that technically the beliefs of the Left (eugenics—culling the human herd for one reason or another) and emphasis on racial superiority (if only in victimology) leaves them no principled recourse against the Nazis for whom they profess so much hatred.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            James Blish did a whole series of stories, collected in The Seedling Stars, about people being modified (often very severely — in “Surface Tension” they’re converted into aquatic life about the size of rotifers) to live on planets unsuitable for normal humans.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I won’t be holding my breath waiting for my Spider Senses to be grafted on or the ability to leap tall buildings. But I am wondering if my left-handedness will be illegal in the future. Also, I’m slightly pigeon-toed. How long until these eugenic nuts send us off for “rehabilitation therapy”?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      By coincidence, I read about that Iceland/abortion situation this morning. No worries here. They’ve simply applied a scientific solution to a problem. And it was the woman’s right to choose. And what value is there in an imperfect person? Problem solved.

      I have a friend who has a Down Syndrome child. And another friend. And another friend. I think in all cases these are Christians who made a conscious choice. One of them is a pastor.

      If the only point of life is to eat, drink, and be merry, I can’t imagine taking on the burden of a “special needs” child. That child could only ever represent an impediment to the merry. Of course, many aren’t having children at all for this very reason.

      Aborting a Down Syndrome child is a rational solution. Children are definitely inconvenient in terms of adults pursuing their own lives outside the home…special needs children, quadruply so. China may have the “one child policy” but the West increasingly has the “one perfect child” policy — if people have children at all.

      It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

      Very convenient that Icelanders live on an island so close to the sea.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        This is getting very close to “Brave New World.”

        How long before “Soylent Green” becomes a reality?

        Anything Danish should be boycotted.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Young animal flesh tends to be favored (veal, lamb), so the liberal fondness for killing babies could easily supply some tasty tidbits for refined tastes. Paging George Donner, paging Alfred Packer. . .

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          This is getting very close to “Brave New World.”

          People are going nuts here in the Northwest over this coming solar eclipse. My friend in Oregon told me about a 12 mile backup in traffic a couple days ago. And there’s one city that is a popular destination for this that has run out of gas to sell.

          I don’t want to pooh-pooh too much this interesting (but not rare) astronomical event. But there will be hundreds of people in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the I-5 corridor who will never likely get anywhere near the eclipse totality zone. Part of the Northwest’s problem is that, up against the ocean, the I-5 squeezes a lot of eclipse seekers, from British Columbia to California, into a narrow band. I’ve been told by a supplier in Portland to expect a two-day delay on getting my goods because of traffic.

          I wish that behind this sudden interest was a scientific sensibility. I’m pretty sure it is not. It’s just another thing to do for a population that is always looking for bigger and bigger distractions.

          And I put another spin on this as well. This eclipse is the equivalent to a Magi to this secular/atheistic culture. Remember, as I’m sure you do, this is the culture that goes ape-shit if an egg from an endangered species is harmed but actively cheers on killing human unborn. They are for “science” and yet most couldn’t tell you the constituent parts of an atom. They would “save the planet” but show no desire to even save their own nation from debt and dissolution.

          What a perfect metaphor. The children of darkness all traffic-jamming their way to a modern Paganistic ritual of eclipse-spotting. The Brave New World indeed.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            When we had a near-total eclipse during working hours a few decades ago, one of my co-workers had a suitable apparatus for watching, and we made use of it during the eclipse. But that was as far as we went — no one “flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”

            A friend of mine may go to Hopkinsville (he used to live there, and probably still has family), where it will reach maximum totality. (They’re also having the local Little Green Men event commemorating the Kelly incident from several decades ago. I doubt he’ll be attending that.)

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Someone told me that where I live will get 92% of totality. That seems a little high, but who knows? It will still be an interesting sight to see the sky darken around 10:30 or so and onwards for I’m not sure how long. I plan to join a bunch of looters over at the mall.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              “flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”

              An old Carlie Simon fan, are you?

  15. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    It’s Steve’s fault that I’ve become re-addicted to series on Netflix. Having come down with a bad cold a couple weeks ago, and thus couldn’t go out, is a contributing factor as well.

    Normally when reading books, I have a fifty page rule. If the writing isn’t obviously junk, sometimes you just have to let the story develop before you can properly judge it.

    However, for series on Netflix, I have about a five-second rule. Sometimes that’s all it takes to see, for example, that is series is made for the low-brow vulgarians who have no taste. If you can’t pick up on that in five seconds or so, it’s time to question your own taste.

    So, goodness, having started a number of season one, episode one, episodes of various series, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s an awful lot of crap out there, thus Steve’s original review was helpful to sift through it. I will add to that effort, and I guess this article here will be a catch-all for that for the time being.

    I know that Mr. Kung had vented his outrage on the newest Father Brown series. I sat down and watched a couple of them. Having read only a very little bit of Father Brown, I can’t intelligently comment on authenticity. But I have to believe that Mark Williams as Father Brown is one of the worst bits of casting in recent memory. He is a dim bulb and shows no inward sparkle of intelligence.

    And yes, Mr. Kung, this series has been fully libtarded and I won’t bother watching another minute of it. It’s garbage.

    Mostly I’ve been sampling the various detective shows available for streaming on Netflix. There are a couple that didn’t grab me but that didn’t shout “stupid” that I may get back to such as “Shetland” and “Hinterland.” Also, although I’m sure I’ve mentioned it in the past, “The Bletchley Circle” is worth watching.

    And having binge-watched all three seasons of “The Doctor Blake Mysteries” that are available on Netflix, I can certainly recommend this one, with a few caveats about the sometimes insufferable narrowcast acting and character of the doctor. But it’s certainly a jewel amongst the crabgrass.

    And that brings me to my latest series that isn’t insulting and as dumb as bricks: Bordertown. Here’s the synopsis at IMDB.com:

    A top murder investigator from the capital city of Finland moves to a small town of Lappeenranta nearby the Russian border in order to work less and spend more time with his family. However he soon realizes that the bordertown isn’t that peaceful he thought it was.

    Kari Sorjonen (a man) is the principal detective in the series. He’s got a bit of Rainman in him. He a sort of Lovejoy-ish “divvy” in regards to crime scenes, not art. They play this up mostly in the first episode and not all that much afterward. But the acting is solid throughout. To a large extent, the series is weighed down as they follow the life of Sorjonen’s wife and daughter which just plays as an interruption to the much more interesting criminal investigations. But this is made less annoying because at least the daughter, for one, is woven into one of the crime stories.

    And I hope you’re sitting down when I mention (and praise) Anu Sinisalo who plays a believable ass-kicking-female cop. Think of how stupid Keira Knightley was in “King Arthur,” my favorite example of a really stupid (and stereotypical) portrayal of the ass-kicking female.

    But Anu Sinisalo sparkles as the Charles-Bronson-like redeemer who certainly has a death wish for the creeps who kidnapped her daughter. She is featured in the first three episodes which is a 3-parter. The woman who plays the senior cop in Sorjonen’s “serious crime unit” (or whatever they call it) is the weak link in this series, but she doesn’t have much screen time, which is good. One of the flaws (or is it intentional?) is that they specifically hire Sorjonen (who is famous, or infamous for his methods) and then most around him spend their time rolling their eyes at him . . . even while Sorjonen is getting results. It mars some of the earlier episodes.

    The series is set in Finland and has subtitles. The worst aspect of this series is the extremely stupid theme song. But I fast forward past it now. It’s that bad. But otherwise most other technical aspects of this series are well done. There’s not that many episodes available on Netflix. The series started only in 2016 and I don’t know if it has continued in 2017. But if you’re looking for something that won’t insult your intelligence and has good acting and halfway decent plots, this could be for you.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One minor point about the original Death Wish: The idea was that the avenger himself had the death wish, hence his risky path of revenge. This was more evident in the book than in the movie.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Thanks for the clarification. Haven’t seen any of those Bronson movies in years.

        The last of the first season of “Bordertown” is a two-parter about chasing a professional racket of dog fighting. And this racket seems to be yet another criminal enterprise offshoot of one of the largest companies in town, and one that has ties to the mayor.

        What is interesting is that apparently they have paid (or forced) some girls to fight the dogs as well. One has turned up dead. The other was locked in strange convulsions that no one could figure out. Foaming at the mouth, etc. (Rabies, of course.)

        So I did some online reading of rabies. I knew it was a serious virus but I had no idea that once symptoms occur, you’re basically dead. You have to get a vaccination soon after being infected or you chances are almost zero. A few people have been saved via inducing a coma and administering specialized drugs, but even that success rate is extremely low.

        So rabies — not unknown these days, but rare — makes an appearance in Finland. Anyone who has even the remotest contact with the blood from one of the crime scenes (one of the rabies victims is a hooker and goes nuts during a hookup and beats the hell out of her John) is vaccinated. Had this chick been carrying AIDS, I’m pretty sure a European drama such as this would have had them finger-painting with the blood with no angst whatsoever.

        The Death Wish chick (she’s joined this special crime unit now…she was either part of the Finnish police or was with Russian police…I sort of missed that part) is now going to go undercover as a chick-who-fights-dogs. That will be risky. And this is the same mother who braved all to save her daughter from the sex slavers. And her thanks? Her spoiled-brat daughter only ever complains that her mother isn’t giving her enough emotional validation.

        I give the series credit both for showing the horrors of drug use and (perhaps only inadvertently, but I wouldn’t bet on it) the Snowflake nature of today’s yutes. It’s not just one smoldering pile of political correctness. Other than the ass-kicking female, of course, but at least it’s somewhat believable in this case. And what modern show would be complete without at least an element of man-hating? Can’t be avoided.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Interestingly, the various Roman gladiatorial bouts including man vs. animal fights. This is aside from the use of lions as a means of disposing of unwanted prisoners. I doubt they used women as animal-fighters, though. Probably not domestic dogs, either. The Muppet Show once did a parody of such a bout, with Sylvester Stallone as a fully armed gladiator up against a Muppet lion.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            And apparently the rabies was not accidental. They were giving it to the dogs to make them more vicious. We call that virus “Leftism” in today’s culture.

            This series (Bordertown) took a turn for the worse in the two-part “The Lady in the Lake.” God help me, I could not follow the plot. It was marred by something I don’t know that they have a term for. “Dues ex machina” doesn’t seem to fit and is too pretentious of a term. I called it something like “Theatrical Robotics.” It’s when you know hack writers have come in who haven’t even watched the previous episodes (but have probably read a synopsis) and who then bend and articulate the characters to rough form as if they were wire skeletons.

            By rights, the characters are certainly going through some of the usual mannerisms, the plot formula is roughly followed, but it’s perfunctory instead of artistic. Some people think the mechanical abstraction of sex dolls will do for sex what this same sort of unthoughtful writing obviously does for TV series.

            Anyway, although this wasn’t long in coming, Kari Sorjonen’s (the special police crime unit investigator) abilities of divvying has devolved to him simply covering his face with his hands in weird ways. I think the first couple of episodes handled his crime-divvy special powers of insight better, simply because he explained them afterward. Now it’s just close-ups of his face covered with his hands while he walks around in his “memory mansion” (a duct-taped grid of rectangles on his basement floor).

            Anyway, it was worth watching this far just to see the mother, Lena Jaakkola (the one who had saved her daughter from sex traders), bitch-slap her whiny daughter. Well, it turns out that Kaita is not her daughter. Lena was working a particularly sad case where several babies were left behind in cardboard boxes. Either death or a Russian orphanage was their prospect, so Lena decided to save one from this cruel choice. And the thanks she got was a forever whiny and ungrateful daughter, although after this revelation they may have patched things up a little.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              The link between rabies and leftism is appropriate because the term rabid is often used for a fanatical adherent of some Cause.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Now, if you can work in fear-0f-water into that paradigm in regards to the Left, we might be onto something. The foaming at the mouth is already in full accord.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      I humbly take responsibility send me the pain.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The pain is appreciated, Steve. It’s much better than sifting through the crazy political and social wreckage of the day’s headlines, although sometimes those can be amusing.

  16. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Continuing on with Steve’s great idea of mentioning Things Worth Watching on Netflix, I ran across an article at The American Spectator a few days ago that mentioned a Netflix series about a family with an autistic child. The review was sort of dull so I won’t link to it. (Can I do better? Yes, of course.)

    The series in question is titled Atypical and I almost turned it off after the first episode. Many of the autistic jokes were de rigueur. Think of “Weekend at Bernie’s” style humor. Not that Weekend at Bernie’s wasn’t funny on some level. It was. But at first glance there appeared to be little depth here.

    That is, this series (only one season from 2017 exists) has its share of juvenile humor mixed into it. Atypical follows the rather typical lives of a white middle class TV family. And my metaphysical point here, surpassing even “If a tree falls in the woods…”, is whether or not a TV family is actually that different from a real family. Granted, due to the nature of an entertainment series, something funny or dramatic happens every day in a TV family. But my gut tells me that most people gauge normalcy from television so that a TV family such as this is probably an imitation rather than a caricature.

    Be that as it may, it’s not all about juvenile autism jokes. You will come to feel for this poor teenage boy who is a penguin out of water when it comes to dealing with other people. The strength of this comedy/drama is that it mixes in heartfelt moments with good humor.

    And Jennifer Jason Leigh is stellar as the mom. This series’ strength is that it is neither Leave it to Beaver nor Married with Children. It’s an imperfect family but its imperfections are not glorified. But it is a good family that tries hard to be one although it has a history of stumbling.

    Leigh is great as the mother who has dived in 100% to be the helpful and protecting mother of an autistic child. At times the poignant humor regarding her over-protection shows that the writers can do more than write autism jokes. When these moments come, they are as good and real as anything on TV.

    Michael Rapaport is the loving father who loves his son and yet has had a hard time adjusting. All the acting here, with perhaps the exception of the daughter, is spot-on and not over-the-top.

    The main character, of course, if Sam Gardner, the 18-year-old son with autism. But he is a high-functioning one on the “spectrum.” Keir Gilchrist does a fine job of it although my hunch is that playing such a character is likely fairly easy. Still, he’s believable in the role and evokes sympathy as well as sometimes derision. This is not a soft-focus look at the boy. He can also be hard to be with.

    And yet you will end up sympathizing with him. Amy Okuda, who plays his counselor, Julia, is another well-cast actor as is the too-autistic-centric support group leader of the autism group for parents that Elsa Gardner (Leigh) attends. One of the best scenes is when the father, in a rare appearance, joins his wife for a meeting. He’s basically alienated because nothing he says is right according to the group leader. He doesn’t use the right words. For instance, you must say “son with autism” not “autistic son” because of the catch-phrase idea “He’s a person first.”

    The strength of this show is that it dares poke a little fun at about everything while weaving a story of the hard life of Sam Gardner which has its ups and downs. As they say at group, you must celebrate the small victories.

    This first season is successful because it does what is becoming exceedingly rare for television programming; It gives you a new perspective on life. These people are flawed but redeemable. So may we all hope to be.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Funny that you should mention this program. I heard about this program only last Saturday. It was highly recommended by a woman who has an autistic son.

      I don’t subscribe to Netflix, but will see if I can somehow view it elsewhere.

      He doesn’t use the right words

      Americans have always been prone to euphemism, but are especially bad when speaking about the handicapped. Forget “mentally retarded”, even the term “handicapped” is offensive to some.

      What too many don’t seem to know is that the words “retarded” and “handicapped” were chosen to replace words like, “idiot” and “moron” that is, they could also be seen as being euphemistic. It never ends.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I’m reminded of the college conservatives who got in trouble for re-labeling a box reading “colored paper” to “paper of color”. Leftists lack a sense of humor when their own bubbles are pricked.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Mr. Kung, I can’t find the series for either rent or purchase. Looks like you might try a free Netflix trial if they have one. Perhaps you can just sign up for one month to their streaming service. (It’s about $9.00 a month.) That’s a likely option. You’ll need some form of high-speed internet first, of course, which I think you likely have (cable, DSL, or satellite).

        I couldn’t possibly comment on the authenticity of the portrayal of autism. But wouldn’t it be presumptuous to suppose there is only one way to be? Suffice it to say, Sam’s autism is played to comic effect but you’ll soon not be laughing at him but sharing his painful and poignant moments. The comedy is a relief. And, really, what autistic people sometimes do is downright funny. This series hasn’t wussed-out and gone all PC.

        The main euphemism used is having a “spectrum” child (or a child on the spectrum). I’d never heard that use before. I usually say “handicapped” or “special needs” or something like that. Or, more likely, call a child by his or her name. They certainly are much more than any affliction they have. One of the most memorable lines in the series was one someone said “No one is normal.” That seem altogether true.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          My understanding is that there is considered to be an autism spectrum, though I’m not sure how they place people on it.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Here’s more info on “the spectrum.” And proving once again that simply being a man puts one on “the spectrum,” one of the points on the spectrum is:

            Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified – PDD-NOS

            PDD-NOS is a catch-all diagnosis meaning that a child may exhibit some symptoms of autism yet does not specifically fall within any other category within the spectrum. To be diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a child may show some characteristics of autism yet cannot be categorized in the other four classifications. Furthermore, a child may even have a severe deficit in language skills yet still not enough to be categorized.

            I’m proudly a man (but not that kind of fruity “pride”) and therefore proud to be on the spectrum. Really, the “spectrum” that exists is from 100% PC Wussified on one end to Chuck Norris on the other.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          The main euphemism used is having a “spectrum” child (or a child on the spectrum). I’d never heard that use before.

          I have also never heard someone say they have a “spectrum” child.

          The range of intelligence and behavior which can be observed in autism can be dramatic. From the severely mentally handicapped to the high IQ Asperger’s individual, from completely unresponsive to shy, from extremely obsessive compulsive to merely obsessive. (that was a joke) Sometimes it hard to tell if someone is autistic. Other times it is absolutely clear that a person is.

          I believe they use the term as it is very difficult to pin down what autism actually is when many people have tendencies which could be seen as being autistic. They do have tests which need to be given by qualified people which can determine whether or not a child is “clinically” autistic.

          Of course, having an agreed term for a very broad range of maladies helps when discussing the the subject. And it makes experts out of many who have no idea of what they speak.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            And it makes experts out of many who have no idea of what they speak.

            It’s a known fact that we are over-diagnosing in this culture (except for when a man wants to dress and act like a woman, then we call it “normal”).

            I hope you get a chance to watch this, Mr. Kung. Again, one of the best parts is when the father joins the autism support group. He’s completely put-down and alienated and is left pretending to his wife that he found it enriching (while rolling his eyes).

            It’s not that the support group is bad, or that support groups in general are bad. (Again, though, I think they are way over-used. Man up and deal with you emotions. If someone is killed at school, you don’t need to send everyone to a counselor. Yes, it sucks when someone you know well dies — as happened to me — but to pussify it and force kids to go to a counselor is just asking them to over-dramatize themselves.)

            Did I digress? Maybe. But the great thing about this one episode of the support group is to show you how overdone much of this stuff is, including, of course, the “correct” language to use.

            The father and mother of this story are both heroes of sorts, although there is some backstory on the father that gives you a perspective of his struggles with having an autistic child. The mother is gung-ho in support (and this is good and needed), but she doesn’t know how to tone it down as the child grows older. She’s a bit over-protective. But, of course, events unfold to show just how fragile Sam can be in novel situations (such as dealing with his first ever girlfriend).

            I have a relative who is autistic, so I get it better than most. And my friends (and to my face) kid me that I’m Asperger-like. That’s very true to a degree. And, really, it’s true to a degree (when compared to what is considered now the female ideal) that all men are broken, that they are Asberger- or autism-like.

            God help us all if we were ever on the end of the “spectrum” where we had to endlessly discuss every damn feeling we had. True, I wouldn’t want Sam’s out-of-touchness in regards to his social abilities. But even then, no man can watch this program and not see part of himself in Sam. As one person said, “Dating isn’t easy for any guy.” Well, it is for some. But for many, at least at times. we’re all Sam. In this regard, I have a lot in common with Sam.

            But my advice, Sam, is find yourself a nice traditional Asian girl. American girls have been ruined to a large extent. One of the great subplots in this first season is the playing out of Sam’s crush on his cute Asian therapist. She’s played very well as well by that actress. Nothing over-the-top like you see in stupid TV series such as “Big Bang Theory.” This isn’t like that. It’s more realistic.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              It’s a known fact that we are over-diagnosing in this culture (except for when a man wants to dress and act like a woman, then we call it “normal”).

              I am convinced one of the main reasons for this over-diagnosing is to try and do away with free will thus making nobody to blame for their actions.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I am convinced one of the main reasons for this over-diagnosing is to try and do away with free will thus making nobody to blame for their actions.

                Oh, you don’t have to twist my arm to believe that, Mr. Kung. Just about an hour ago I had a first-hand incident of that.

                Someone in an SUV with a bunch of cargo tied to the top of it pulled into our driveway. This happens frequently because there is an apartment building on the *second* left from the main road. We’re the first left. The apartment buildings have very poor signage so it’s an understandable mistake. People pull into our driveway, discover that it is a dead end, and then pull back out again.

                That SUV pulled in and then pulled out. It look like the same sort of mistaken turnoff. He turned around and then apparently went out to find the correct entrance to the apartments. It just happened that I was going out the door to do a little gardening. What actually happened was that this guy had pulled up our driveway but not out, but he was otherwise hidden from our view.

                Well, I come around the corner, see the car parked in front of the garden, and suppose he’s just lost. But then I come around a little further and see that the car door is open. I come around the sloping corner still further and this dirtbag is on his hands and knees filling his hands with my cherry tomatoes.

                I yelled at him “What are you doing?” He said something like, “Just getting some tomatoes.” And I yelled, ,”Ever heard of asking?” And then he said “Well, I’m homeless.”

                Like that excuses being a thief. Had he stopped and asked, I would have filled a bag for him of tomatoes. I just want to slap each and every one of you idiots out there who have contributed to this “no one is to blame for their actions” by seeing everyone as a victim, especially “the homeless.” This guy wasn’t homeless. He was just a thief, what we used to call a drifter or a bum.

                This really cheesed me off and had he gotten in my face I can seriously imagine striking this “homeless” man. Boy, I was pissed. Just ask my brother. This is what you friggin’ dumb-ass “do-gooders” have done to our society. For a truly needy person I would have moved heaven and earth to help…or at least supply a bag of tomatoes.

                But this fellow knows how to work you emotional wimps out there. Just tell people your are “homeless” or that you are a “single mother” or that you are “a person of color” or that you are “trans-gender.” The number of excuses is growing for not taking responsibility for your own actions.

                As I told my brother, this is why, although I admire the man, I could never be another St. Francis. I’m more like St. Paul. “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.” We’ve done a marvelous job in this country, under the guise of “compassion,” to make people comfortable in their sin.

                Hell, it was only about eight cherry tomatoes or so. I routinely give away a few hundred every day. That’s how big the crop is. But it’s not the material goods being stolen. It’s that they are being stolen and by a low-life who has learned to be a societal parasite, made all the easier by those who can only ever see “the homeless” as helpless victims. Most are not. It is a parasite class.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                The guy had some nerve.

                I know what you mean about being happy to give the tomatoes away, but not appreciating a thief come and help himself to your property.

                In Singapore, we had a couple of mango trees in our garden which produced many more mangoes than we could ever eat. We gave them away all the time. But had someone climbed over the fence to help himself to the mangoes, he would have had a big problem with me.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              This is always the problem. Someone driving around in a car probably isn’t homeless to begin with. I remember many years ago when we were coming back from a Christmas/New Year party in Bloomington, and at a rest area some guy was asking for money for breakfast.

              I don’t recall why he needed it. Of course, there’s always the problem of whether or not he was telling the truth. But as it happened, we had some powdered doughnuts left over from the party, and let him have some.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I consider powdered donuts to be a good breakfast. Or used to. Good for you for helping someone out.

                My premise is that “homelessness” has become an industry. People are using that label as a way to play on the emotions of the superficially virtuous. I was listening to some pricks on a local libtard station sneering at those stupid right-wingers who don’t believe in global warming (their words…they hadn’t gotten the message that it’s now “climate change”). And I thought about these smug low-lifes pontificating on the radio and wondering how much good could be done for children with cancer, for instance, if you diverted the billions wasted on the fraud of global warming to medical research or just paying doctor bills.

                Smug assholes. I do hate these type.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              But my advice, Sam, is find yourself a nice traditional Asian girl. American girls have been ruined to a large extent.

              Along those lines, pls note the below link to an article at PJ Media.

              The article itself is not terribly interesting, but the comments below it give one a feel for why so many American men are not getting married these days. I suppose the lesbian feminists are happy, but wonder how the, oft-married, non-lesbian types are feeling these days.

              https://pjmedia.com/drhelen/2016/02/01/do-men-really-prefer-intelligence-to-big-breasts/

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Ha! Love the comments, including:

                “Being a feminist cuts the MMV in half, at least. Marrying a feminist is volunteering for slavery.”

                The correct answer is, of course, men prefer women with big breasts who are nice to them. Intelligence is a politically correct thing. The same could be said about men. Women are going to prefer a man with a muscular physique, but could likely not care about their intelligence (unless he’s a real dolt) if he treats her well.

                Isn’t this what everyone is forgetting? Yeah, men are wired one way and women are wired another. And plenty of superficial people get together for superficial reasons. But at the end of the day, if a person like being with you, that’s what counts. Not being a jerk, not being a liar, not being a loafer, not being a philanderer, etc., are going to absolutely dwarf any considerations of intelligence.

                Still, to get to the point where you find out about another person and get close to them, there is that entryway. For men it is looks. For women it may be something else. I’ll let them explain. But for men, big tits can obviously be a passport to a first meeting. But they’re not everything. And some men (such as myself) think medium-sized ones are preferable.

                Love this comment:

                “Many women think their sharp-pointed snarky stabs are a sign of intelligence. The right question would be if men preferred moral and emotional maturity to large breasts. Of course no-one would ask that question, because it would force people to recognize that women are as prone to moral and emotional immaturity as men are.”

              • Timothy Lane says:

                According to a book I read a couple of decades ago, the entry test for women is money. The author suggested that women might put up pin-ups of Bill Gates.

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