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Bingeworthy or Bust? 11 Popular TV Dramas Reviewed

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You know we’re all about books here. Good stuff. Lousy stuff you don’t need to waste your valuable time on.

But binge-watching just about anything on Netflix or whatever seems to have become a favorite indoor sport since the never-ending pandemic took root. So we’ve been getting requests for feedback on some of them thar Netflix-y type drama series of the TV kind.

So. What’s binge-worthy and what’s not? Here goes:

 

Saving You Time

First, we’re gonna save you some serious time here by telling you what’s worth watching and what’s not, in our opinion. In the latter category, we typically differ vastly from what’s “trending.” Cuz, ya know, we have standards. Taste. And we don’t have time for garbage. No matter how many peeps are bellying up to the bar and tuning into crap disguised as a TV drama series.

So don’t say we didn’t warn you, okay?

The Lists

Here, without further ado, are our totally subjective, 100% unscientific lists of winners and losers in the drama series races. The former are generally worth watching based on solid performances, strong scripts, engaging stories and top-notch production values. They latter aren’t. Losers first:

 

BARF ALERT!

The “drama series” below may get high marks elsewhere. We could care less. Cuz the following really belong on the bottom of the nearest bird cage.

Some of these shows had real potential. They crashed and burned big time due to needlessly graphic violence, vulgarities, and “dialogue” so filthy it’d make a sailor blush. Ditto characters who give pond scum a bad name.

Any show that makes The Official Mom and Kimber Barf List is one you may want to give a wide berth. Or BYO barf bags. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The Last Kingdom

Oh, for Danes’ sake!

Over-the-top violence, murder, mayhem, wanton immorality and boat loads of vice and corruption spew from this Braveheart wannabe at nearly every oar stroke. That’s too bad. Cuz we were interested in this history. Didn’t know that much about Alfred the Great and how he repelled the Viking invasion of England way back when. But…

In season 1, young Saxon noble Uhtred is abducted by marauding Vikings (“Danes”) and raised as a Dane. He becomes a warrior and seeks to regain the lands annexed by his cunning uncle.

If the series stuck to this basic storyline without almost constant meandering into bile-inducing bore, gore and profanity, it might’ve turned out okay. We had a bellyful after Season 1. Bye, Uhtred. Have fun stormin’ the castle!

2. The Last Tsars

How disgusting and depraved was Rasputin and how clueless were Nicholas II and Alexandra? Those two questions run neck and neck for Top Trash Talk Honors in this loser. Another “period drama” that had potential but got sidetracked with the vile, the vulgar, and the just plain gross-er.

3. Marco Polo

An American drama streaming television series supposedly inspired by Marco Polo’s early years in the court of Kublai Khan. It lasted two seasons, which was two seasons too many.

We jumped ship after Episode 1. Pass the No Doze.  

4. Yellowstone

Going against the tide here cuz apparently “everyone” loves this Godfather on Horseback show. We don’t. Here’s why.  

We tuned in to Yellowstone for one main reason: Kevin Costner. He’s been a favorite since Silverado and Field of Dreams (both are far better films than this garbage dump of a saddle soap opera.).

Costner plays rancher John Dutton of the Yellowstone ranch, Montana. You know. Big Sky Country. That’s the high point. It’s all downhill from there. Cuz this series has some the laziest writing – if you can call it that – we’ve ever seen/heard. To wit: It can’t go 10 seconds without dropping the F-bomb. And worse. To the point where you’re better off hitting Mute. Permanently. And Dutton’s daughter Beth? She gives cesspools a bad name.

That’s too bad, too. Cuz Yellowstone has potential: Sweeping outdoor panoramas. Stunning scenery. Truckloads of dramatic tension and conflicts galore as Dutton (Costner) battles to save his ranch from greedy land developers, conniving politicians, scheming special interests, cut-throat competition, and pretty much the whole world. Including his own fam.

But sloppy writing sours the series like cheap wine in a Dixie cup. With holes in the bottom. Apparently the writers couldn’t figure out how to put any actual, coherent dialogue into the character’s mouths, so they wrote perennial potty-mouths instead. All need a mommy very badly. And an industrial-sized bar of soap. Disappointing. Because the nearly non-stop profanity diminishes what would otherwise be a good solid story. It doesn’t need to be there. 

Maybe that’s why the best characters in this show are horses. They’ve also got the most sense.

By the way, where’s the Pepto?

1. Victoria

The early life of Queen Victoria, from her ascension to the throne at age eighteen to her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert. Jenna Coleman is luminous as Victoria and Rufus Sewell is magnificent as Lord Melbourne.

2. Poldark

The bestselling Poldark series is loved across the world for its compulsive blend ofromance, drama, unforgettable characters and beautifully evocative portrayal of Cornwall.

Mom has read the first three books in this 12-part series: Ross Poldark, Demelza, and Jeremy. The BBC adaptation of Poldark books by Winston Graham ran from 2015 to 2019. It closely parallels the books for the most part. And, oh, those sweeping scenes of the Cornwall coast! Delish!

3. Dickensian

A drama set within the fictional realms of Charles Dickens’s critically acclaimed novels, Dickensian brings together some of his most iconic characters as their lives intertwine in 19th century London. The delightful Dickensian mash-up features some of our favorite characters from Great Expectations, Bleak House, A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Martin Chuzzlewit, and The Pickwick Papers.

Stephen Rea as Inspector Bucket is a scene stealer!

Too bad it only lasted one season (2015 – 2016). It deserved more.

4. The Crown

This Netflix series follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the twentieth century. Lots of palace intrigue and a behind-the-scenes look at headlines that dominated House of Windsor doin’s for years.

Caveat: Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher wasn’t only wooden, it was ridiculous. What a dud.

5. The English Game

The story of the invention of football and how it quickly rose to become the world’s most popular game by crossing class divides. Predictable in places, but worth some time overall.

6. Little Dorrit

A wonderful story about a girl, Amy Dorrit, who’s grown up in and spent her life in debtor’s prison, her father and siblings, and those whose lives they touch and whose lives are touched by others. Being a Dickensian novel, there’s also plenty of intrigue, mystery, and romance. Also sturdy characters and plot twists and surprises galore.

7. Call the Midwife

 

What are your drama series hits and misses?

 

Stay tuned as we dive into our Official Holiday Celebration Stuff next time! Arf! Arf!

 

 

Loser image credit

 

Winner image credit

 

Pepto Bismol image credit

 

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