Review: Season Three of Ozark

By John Ruberry

Late last month Season Three of Ozark began streaming on Netflix. The center point of the story is the Bryde family, father Marty (Jason Bateman), a former Chicago financial planner, mother Wendy (Laura Linney), a onetime Illinois Democrat political operative, and their children, teens Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner).

In the first season Marty, talks his way out of assassination by convincing his killers that he can be of great use to his Mexican drug cartel client, who turns out to be Omar Navarro (Felix Solis), by laundering even more money for him in the Lake of the Ozarks region of southern Missouri. He does that of course for self-survival, but also for his family.

If you haven’t seen Ozark yet the following paragraph and the trailer contains minor spoilers.

But being the money guy–with bloody hands–is a strain for the other Byrdes, even though Wendy is for the most part a willing participant as the family moves up from laundering cash though a failing restaurant, then a fledgling church, and finally a casino boat, which is how the second season ends–the final shot is a sepia still of the Byrdes–with none of them smiling–at the grand opening. 

Warning: “F bomb” in the trailer.

The second season introduced the cartel’s lawyer, the cold-blooded Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer), another Chicagoan. Like the Byrdes, she is facing a challenge by balancing her criminality with her family, specifically her teen daughter Erin (Madison Thompson). Helen and Erin in Season Three move to the Ozarks for the summer.

The primary new character in the third season is Wendy’s troubled younger brother Ben Davis (Tom Pelphrey), who offers the best performance so far in Ozark in an Emmy-worthy performance. Laura Linney is superb again too.

Meanwhile the Navarros are at war with another cartel. And as with most of the major European wars since the 17th century, the battles cannot stay contained in a tight geographic area. The cartels are always “all in” in their fights–and the title of the last episode of the third season is “All In.”

The FBI, which is not shown in a favorable light throughout the series, remains hot on the heals of the Byrdes. Which means Marty and Wendy not only have to balance their money laundering and shell companies with the needs of Navarro along with the demands of parenthood, but they are also under the constant scrutiny of the FBI, this time led by an agent of better character than what we’ve seen before here, Maya Miller (Jessica Frances Dukes). 

One one more headache for the Byrdes is the Kansas City mob.

Of course there was criminality in the Ozarks before the arrival of the Tom and Daisy Buchanan of Missouri, Marty and Wendy, who as F. Scott Fitzgerald said of former in The Great Gatsby, “smashed up things and creatures.” Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), the leader of that family’s small-time criminal family, is now an integral member of Bryde Family Enterprises. But the other homegrown female crime leader, Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), an avowed enemy of the Brydes, revs up her operation after a respite.

This is the best Ozark season yet. The penultimate episode, “Fire Pink,” is the most powerful one and it contains an homage to the film noir classic The Killers, which starred Burt Lancaster. The 1964 remake, a thriller with John Cassavetes in the Lancaster role, is worth a look too. It was Ronald Reagan’s last dramatic film appearance. 

Ozark is rated TV-MA. It contains graphic violence, torture, obscene language, and nudity.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

All Time Great Team League League report: AL & NL Division 1

Here is a report on one division in the All time great league for Dynasty Baseball game. A report will come out each week for one AL & NL division. Note there are still as of this writing 7 teams looking for a non-computer manager and until 3/31 Dynasty the maker of the game is offering a month free with code USA2 You can join here.

AL Div 1

2005 Chicago White Sox

The pale hose 5-4 start while not exciting is currently good enough for sole possession of 1st place albeit only by 1/2 a game. After losing their opening series vs the 1970 Orioles back to back series wins vs Toronto and Oakland have been just good enough to keep them clinging to a lead, time will tell if that can be maintained.

Heroes: Tadahito Iguchi is on a hitting tear with a .389 avg good enough for 4th in the early season while Scott Posednick’s 6 stolen bases is a tie for the league lead

Zeroes: Bobby Jenks has found his way into four of the teams 9 games and has opponents hitting .409 against him with an ERA of 9.00 Meanwhile at the plate the only nice thing you can say about Jermaine Dye’s start is that while his anemic .182 is last in the team his .229 is better than Joe Crede or Juan Uribe but without any RBI or HR RBIs.

Wild Card: The White Sox success has been despite their failure to find a permanent manager for the season can they keep it up without one and if they find one can he continue to keep them on top?

Coming attractions: It’s a trip to the NL East for 3 vs the Mets at Shea then south to Baltimore for three more.


1970 Orioles

.500 ball over their last 12 might be good enough for 2nd place in the division but new manager Joe S expects better out of the defending division champs who found themselves dropping two straight series one to Toronto and another to the Defending World Series champion Dodgers. Will the return to the DH make the difference?

Heroes: Jim Palmer is all over the leaderboards in just about every category leads the league in wins, WHIP & HR per 9 innings while Boog Powell continues to put the fear of God into the heart of every pitcher he faces.

Zeros: Dave McNally has put the fear of God in the heart of his manager with an 0-3 start and an ERA of 8.25. Meanwhile Pete Richert’s perfect record of two losses and two blown saves in two appearances is turning heads in the wrong direction.

Wild Card: It’s always odd when manager moves on to a different franchise but when he does so AFTER leading a team to a division championship it gets harder for his replacement. Can Baltimore’s new manager get his team to the series when his predecessor could not?

Coming Attractions: 9 straight home games in division starting with the 1st place White Sox followed by Oakland and Toronto will give their fans a chance to cheer their team back into first. That is if the team can rise back to their division winning ways


1988 Oakland A’s

There are few things more discouraging than staring your season blowing a 7-0 lead but twelve games in a half game out is nothing to sneeze at for a team with both Power and pitching and 2nd flock of the games in the division they are more than in a position to strike

Heroes: Dennis Eckersley, despite his opening day loss he has bounced back saving games for Nelson, Welsh and Burns before holding on against Arizona to to even his record. Dave Henderson: With a .367 avg 4 HR and a dozen RBI’s he leads the league in 3 offense categories while placing in the top 10 in 5 others.

Zeros: Jose Canseco despite a pair of Home Runs is managing only a .143 avg and a .246 OB with 19 K’s in 49 at bats. Dave Stewart In three starts opponents are hitting a solid .375 with an ERA of 9.37 a full five runs over the team avg despite only a single loss against him.

Wild Card: Nobody in their right mind would describe Doug Jennings as anything but a backup so his season ending injury might not seem big but over the course of a 162 game season his loss means one less day of rest for a player who might need it or one pinch hit or run that doesn’t happen

Coming Attractions: The A’s get a chance to jump ahead with the last place Yanks coming to town before getting a 2nd shot at the Orioles before running back for a shot at the Red Sox.


Toronto Blue Jays 1993

The Bluejays after an incredible comeback on opening day have not fared as well as they like going 4-6 and possessing the only losing record in the division. But despite this they remain only a game out of first since but despite this remain but a game out of first, more than close enough to strike.

Heroes: Roberto Alomar is hitting over .400 (.404) with an OPS of 1.100. While Rickey Henderson has combined a .311 avg and five stolen bases with three outfield assists in less that a dozen games.

Zeros: Jack Morris has managed in two starts to go 0-2 with an ERA of 8.64 with hitters pounding him at a .389 clip in less than 9 innings. Tony Fernandez, while a single error and a .979 fielding percentage at short is not bad a .200 batting avg and OB percentage is a drag a full .89 points below the rest of the team.

Wild Card: With the only turf stadium in the league will other teams struggle on the unfamiliar surface or will Toronto pay for their surface in DL trips such as Ed Sprague‘s?

Coming attractions: A win in their final game vs Cincinnati can get them back to .500 in time to face a Kansas City team on a mini losing streak and a shot a the 1st place White Sox and 2nd place Orioles on the road.


NL Div 1

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers

The Defending World Champion Dodgers picked up where they left off last year with an 8-4 start including 7-3 in their last 10 and a +24 run differential against their foes If this pace keeps up they may repeat their running away with the division but with 4 more teams and an an extra round of playoffs to deal with they’ll need that to get started.

Heroes: Gil Hodges after winning the NL MVP last season has picked up right where he left off leading the NL in batting and 2nd in OBP & OBP + Slugging. Meanwhile on the mound Karl Spooner is making up for spending most of last season on the DL with a 2-0 record without giving up a run in two starts and holding opponents to a .059 avg.

Zeros: Jim Hughes has been a workhorse working in seven games but a horse with an era of 8.59 while being responsible for a solid quarter of the homers allowed by the team. Roy Campanella has been in a slump of epic proportions hitting a mere .095 and an even more pathetic OBP of .152

Wild Card: With Karl Spooner back this season George Shuba‘s major league stint is over. Last year he spent half a season in the majors hitting .264 in limited service and .333 during the post season. He’s back in the minors and hoping for a 2nd chance and ring, will he get it?

Coming attractions: A trip to Arizona is followed by a 15 game homestand which begins with the last place mets given them a great chance to increase their lead.


Arizona Diamondbacks 2013

For a team that had no business being in an all time great league (the 2001 version was supposed to be invited) they’ve kept pace very well including a series win against the World Champion Dodgers. Their .500 start is good for 2nd place so far and with a little bit of effort 1st place can remain in reach.

Heroes: Paul Goldschmidt .396 and 4 HR have been an unpleasant surprise to pitching staffs around the league. If a .350 avg and seven RBI’s were not enough to celebrate Geraldo Para playing all three positions in the outfield without an error but with an assist would clinch it.

Zeros: Some might think this Arizona team doesn’t belong in this league and Reliever Joe Thatcher is their patron saint thanks to an era of 10.57 and a batting against avg of .441. While Cliff Pennington’s .333 avg looks good on paper a single run scored and none driven in doesn’t make up for two errors in four games.

Wild Card: JJ Putz has been an Arizona workhorse appearing in more than half of the teams game but with a serious injury that will keep him out till early or mid May can anyone else carry the load?

Coming attractions: A six game homestand gives them a chance to repeat their fine start against the Dodgers and welcome Cincinnati who is right behind them before getting another crack at the Mets this time in Shea.


1975 Cincinnati Reds

The Big Red machine did not envision themselves at 5-6 after 11 their only winning series being against a weaker Arizona team, but can their big bats and stingy pitching staff (2nd fewest runs allowed in the league) turn things around before the Dodgers get too far ahead to catch, particularly with the Defense of Caesar Geronimo out of the lineup.

Heroes: Johnny Bench with 3 homers and .340 avg remains a terror to opposing pitchers who dare throw to him. Meanwhile while there has not been a lot to cheer from the bullpen Will McEnaney’s 1.17 ERA & 1.54 AVG has been a breath of fresh air

Zeros: The bullpen has three blown saves in three chances and the worst offender has been Pedro Borbon with 2 Blown saves and a .348 avg for batters. One might forgive Tony Perez his slow start and .226 avg, but it’s hard to be forgiving with no HR only one RBI and a single extra base hit

A Wild Card: The injury of Caesar Geronimo means the possibility of more offence at the Center Field position but will such offense come at the cost of a vulnerable defense.

Coming attractions: Four games remain in Cincinnati’s 12 game homestand one more vs Toronto and 3 against the SF Giants before they head to Arizona in the hopes of getting hot.


1986 New York Mets

There is not a lot to cheer about in New York as the Mets , after starting with two wins in a row dropped six of their last seven and between Gary Carter who was injured on opening day a team that has three pitchers with ERA’s over 10.00 and a flock of bad fielding they are resembling the 67 mets more than a champion team.

Heroes: With two saves in three chances and a 2.38 ERA Roger McDowell has been the rare bright spot in a pitching staff that has been a dismal failure. Meanwhile Mookie Wilson with a pair of HR’s a .308 avg and 12 hits has managed to do what is necessary.

Zeroes: Not only has Howard Johnson not been appetizing at the plate with a .222 avg and a single solo homer but in the field his four errors and .636 fielding percentage doesn’t even rise to the level of anemic. Meanwhile on a staff with a team ERA of 6.24 there are plenty of Zero candidates but Ron Darling with his 0-2 record & 19.89 ERA rises or shall I say falls below the rest.

Wild Card: Ed Hearn was pressed into service behind the plate with the Carter injury at the bat he has been at least serviceable with a .265 Avg 1 HR and 5 RBI but behind the plate he has allowed nine of ten baserunners to steal.

Coming attractions: The bad news continues for the Mets as they face the 1st place White Sox before taking on Philly and then with Gary Carter back traveling to LA & Arizona

Sundays at Rest: The Movies I’ve Bought from Amazon: The Seven Samurai


I’m been meaning to get this Series of movie posts started for while but with Corona Virus/Wuhan Virus panic in place it seems the best time to start recommending movies to buy and watch at home that perhaps folks have not seen.


Common sense tells you that a movie that runs over three hours and twenty minutes would have a slow moment or two that you can or want to take your eyes off the screen.

However that is only common sense if you’ve never watched the Seven Samurai.

There is not a shot, not a performance and not a line not even a glance in the picture that is wasted. Everything plays to the story. It’s everything that a movie is supposed to me.

If you are firm in the quite rational belief that The Godfather or Casablanca or Gone With the Wind or Citizen Cane is the greatest movie ever made nothing will challenge it more than watching this movie.

In theory the movie is about Seven Samurai who are hired come to save a poor village from bandits.

The reality is it’s really about how the process of doing so saves them. I find it one of the most Catholic movies I’ve ever seen. It’s all about responsibility, sacrifice and being one brother’s keeper and the costs that come from it.

In the beginning we see the bandits arriving at the village and noting that the barley harvest has not yet taken place and deciding to come back later when it does. The villagers frustrated by the cycle that all of their labor going to feed others without recompense look for a solution. The old man of the villege suggesting hiring Samurai. When they insist they have nothing to offer expect for food he replies “Find Hungry Samurai”.

Thus begins the 1st of three distinct phases of the picture

  1. The quest to find Samurai
  2. The preparing of the village
  3. The Actual Battle

For the modern viewer ignorant of history the culture shock of the caste system whereby a Samurai has the authority to kill and the villager is nothing and where rice is a currency in itself is striking, but this group of poor farmers attempt to approach Samurai who consider themselves far above them is really something. Eventually they get lucky when they encounter Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) a wandering rōnin, (masterless samauri) who saves a young boy taken hostage by a bandit who considers their problem and agrees to help, they also get in the bargain the young and inexperienced Katsushirō (Isao Kimura) who, impressed by Kambei’s rescue of the child begs to be his disciple. Meanwhile Kikuchiyo also impressed by Kambei’s ( Toshirô Mifune ) actions starts shadowing them .

This entire sequence of Kambei attempting to find and recruit men to go on this quest that offers no glory or reward could easily stand alone as a movie in its own right. In fact if this picture was made in 2014 instead of 1954 it would likely have without a doubt been a trilogy and a whole franchise. Eventually Kambei recruits an old friend Shichirōji ( Daisuke Katô ), Gorobei ( Yoshio Inaba) who is fascinated by Kambei, Heihachi ( Minoru Chiaki) whose real skill is morale rather than the sword ; and Kyūzō ( Seiji Miyaguchi ) the master swordsman interested only his his craft.

These six (followed by Kikuchiyo ) head to the village where the 2nd part of the movie begins. The interaction between the villagers and the Samurai, the preparation for the attack and the bonding of them as a team and dramatic contrast as the villagers deal with both their fear of the Samurai and the sacrifices that they come to realize this entails. There is also the drama of Rikichi one of the farmers who went to recruit the Samurai who has a painful history unknown to them.  It is also a time of comic relief provided mainly by Kikuchiyo & Heihachi who never passes up a chance to needle him.

The climax of this idylic scene comes shortly after the encounter between Katsushirō and Shino ( Keiko Tsushima ) whose father Manzo ( Kamatari Fujiwara ) has disguised as a boy to hide her from the Samurai he fears. They spot three scouts for the bandits coming to spy on the village and the transition to the final phase of the movie, The Battle, begins.

The initial repulse of the 1st attack fills the villagers with confidence that they will be left alone for easier pickings but when they discover that the bandits are in worse shape than them and need to conquer or starve comes the realization that it is a battle to the end. Here we see the real costs of war as the villagers and the samurai both take losses up to the climax.

Ironically director Akira Kurosawa was constantly going over budget and Toho films tried to kill the project repeatedly. Kurosawa who wrote as well as Directed the picture however reasoned that the investment in the picture had been so great that they were unlikely to let it die and successfully argued fought for its completion.

While the movie was a success the critics in Japan were not as impressed but upon foreign release it reaped rewards and directors far and wide would be inspired by this storytelling. The film would be remade in the US as the Magnificent Seven replacing samurai with gunfighters with Mexico as a setting over Japan but the reach of this film, it’s cinematography is perfect, the performances (particularly Mifune & Shimura ) are outstanding and complement some of the best writing and storytelling you will see in a movie.

Social Isolation from the Corona / Wuhan Virus might not be pleasant, but if it means that you and millions others will discover this classic it will certainly not be wasted.

Unfinished Business Under the Fedora: The Democrats Media Masters, J-Lo and Biology, Female Doctors Everywhere, Yockey in Iowa and Mookie over LA

Often events overtake thoughts on items so here are a few things I would have liked to have gotten out from Under My Fedora a bit earlier.

Don Surber, one of the must reads on the net notes that the media have a lot to answer for in terms of the results of impeachment and he’s right in the sense that the media kept pushing all this forward in the belief that it would hurt the president That some in the Democrat leadership and others in the field knew this to be the case was not enough to stop them.

For years I’ve thought the media was at the Democrats beck and call, now I’m wondering if it’s the other way around.


There was a lot of fuss about J-Lo’s performance at the Superbowl and the whole Pole Dancing business, I think life might be a lot easier if we all acknowledged two basic things.

Men like women and are biologically designed to desire them, the more sexually provocative they are the more noticeable they become to men’s eyes. That the actual norm, and it is the cultural restraints that our friends off the left from religion to chivalry that teaches a man to be a gentlemanly and show restraint and to respect the “no” when a woman gives it

Women are also biologically designed to rival each other for said notice of men and said biology and rivalry does not end when a woman is in her 50’s. and when you spend a lifetime making a living off the “male gaze” you certainly aren’t going to let a younger woman outdo you in that measure.

Those same civilizing impulses that acted upon men also acted upon women to be very selective when using that biological power which gives power to a women to improve a man to the point where he is a suitable mate. When our culture abandoned those civilizing tools they abandoned those restraints which ironically is what has actually objectified women.

The sooner these things facts that have centuries of experience developing the better off we will be as a society.


If you missed Doctor Who this week as I have for the last several years you would have found that the 1st female Doctor (played by Jodie Whitaker) was joined by the 1st Black Female Doctor (played by Jo Martin).

There are many issues with this development, from the rewriting of the Doctor Who Canon of fifty plus years to the fact that they will need to take a further woke step to satisfy the Social Justice Warriors whose demands can never be fully me met shall we see the 1st trans woman doctor played by Jessica Yaniv later this season perhaps?

But the issue that is biggest for the current Doctor Who franchise is that according to my oldest son who is still occasionally watching the series not only was the 1st black female Doctor (played by Jo Martin) clearly recognizable as “the doctor” in terms of tone and character unlike the 1st female doctor (played by Jodie Whitaker) to my son, a lifelong Doctor who man fan but she apparently the 1st black female Doctor (played by Jo Martin) completely out acted the 1st female Doctor (played by Jodie Whitaker) to the point where it was according to my son the wrong person was the 1st female Doctor and it wasn’t close.

Oh and for the record the 1st female doctor was in fact Joanna Lumley

FYI My apologies to the good folks at Nerdrotic for stealing his “1st female / Black female Doctor” meme.


Completely missed this tidbit from Stacy McCain concerning old friend Cynthia Yockey. Ten years ago I met the Conservative Lesbian at CPAC and she told me of how she had been rejected and marginalized by gay friend while embraced by conservatives.

Cynthia ten years later:

Speaking of conservatives, my friend Cynthia Yockey caucused for Trump last night. Yes, there was a Republican caucus in Iowa, which Trump obviously won. Cynthia reports that (a) she was drafted to be a delegate to the county GOP convention in March, (b) elected to the platform committee, (c) her plank on transgender issues was unanimously adopted, and (d) “the passionate nominating speech for Trump that opened our caucus was given by an immigrant from India who became a citizen in 2008.”

I’m very happy for Cynthia who is a fine person but I’m even happier for the Iowa GOP & the President who are damn lucky to have her.


Finally in the Midst of all this political news the Boston Red Sox have Traded Away Mookie Betts arguably next to Mike Trout the best outfielder/player in the game along with Starter David Price for a pair of young players. For myself I would have waited till May to see if we had a chance to contend but given that Betts didn’t want to resign here getting something for a guy who hits for power & average, steals bases, has a rocket arm and incredible outfield range is a lot better than getting nothing for him, not to mention the huge savings from getting rid of David Price’s contract.

As for the Dodgers I don’t care if every team in the league has a complete list of every sign you have, if you can’t win the series with the addition of Price still a good pitcher and Betts to that already formidable team you’re just never going to do it and if you can sign Mookie to a long term deal than your team might truly become a Dynasty.

Either way enjoy it, he’s a pleasure to watch.

6 Quick Kobe Thoughts, Confession, The Difference a Day Makes, Life goes on, Liang Wudong, What Impeachment? and some things never change Under the Fedora

What happened to Kobe Bryant is why I don’t get into any aircraft or go on any long trip without going to confession and receiving absolution first.

None of us from short fat lower middle class 56 year old bloggers to 41 year tall healthy rich basketball superstars are promised tomorrow. So if you need the sacrament of confession the best time to get it is now


It’s amazing the difference a day makes, I would wager that 24 hours ago if offered a chance to ride on a chopper with Kobe Bryant and his daughter you could likely count the number of people who would decline such an offer on your fingers and toes.

You could make a very good episode of the twilight zone about a basketball fanatic selling his soul for the chance.


It’s worth noting that moments of silence and tributes not withstanding the NBA games still went on yesterday, the Grammy’s took place yesterday, on Sunday the Superbowl is going to take place and all of the athletes in all the various sports will keep going on as normal. Unless you are one of the family of those who died life goes on as normal. It’s a lesson worth learning if you are one of those taking the court, field or stage yesterday with the crowd cheering you.


Another person died yesterday that should be remembered by likely will not.

There will likely not many glowing tributes in the news for Doctor Liang Wudong who died treating patients from the disease that everyone around the world is running from.

There should be.


If you thought people weren’t paying attention to impeachment last week today you’d better believe that nobody is paying attention to it today.

This is one of those very rare times when a Monday Morning is the perfect time for anyone in politics or business to dump an embarrassing story and know for a fact that nobody is going to cover it.


Finally I was on twitter while all this was happening and saw this tweet from a DC blue check journalist in reply to the President’s comment:

Twitchy has a whole batch of such replies I think my initial reaction to this is correct: God what’s wrong with you people?

Saturday Geeking Picard, Sinking Who, Batwoman Crisis, Where’s the Orville? John Wayne vs Baldrick and Two Down Four to Go

I haven’t taken the time to watch Picard because I refuse to sign up for CBS all access and it seems to be the general consensus is that Patrick Stewart is excellent and while it’s a tad woke it could have been a lot worse.

I really get the feeling that there are a lot of Stewart fans who really WANT to like the series because they want to like him, combine that with the fact that he’s a generally good actor playing an iconic character the he originated and you get fans almost desperate to cheer it.

What does it say about what the woke have done to a series when “Couda been a lot worse” sounds like a victory lap?


Meanwhile Doctor Who continues to crash and burn with rating sinking to McCoy era numbers and worse. The fact that rotten tomatoes keeps clearing out bad reviews makes it even worse in terms of appearance that they have somehow decided to sign for yet another series after this one.

It seems the woke folks at the BBC are determined to purge the last of the old fan base to leave the series pure without it to the point where we are actually seeing people say it’s beyond redemption at this point and better off cancelled.

I have a feeling all of his was avoidable but you get a real feeling that these guys hated their customer base more than the liked the franchise, and frankly the didn’t like the franchise all that much.


The same crashing and burning is taking place in Batwoman. The rating weren’t all that good to start and Crisis on Infinite Earth’s Crossover managed to eat up a lot of oxygen (the whole multiverse idea which now allows the possibility of every single person who ever played any DC character to cross over is big, particularly when you consider that there is at least one comic “universe” where the DC & Marvel heroes co-exist) but once it had to stand on it’s own woke feet the burn began again and the rating are finding new frontiers of holes.

Now it’s possible that even the lousy ratings it has generates enough funds to pay for the series and if it does then they can continue to play the woke game as long as they want (sort of like Doctor Who) where it continues to be a niche show for a niche market, but if that’s not the case and it remains the CW version of the WNBA only surviving because the larger franchise is willing to take a hit to prove its woke credentials it remains to be seen how long it can go on.


With so many longtime franchises committing woke Seppuku the wait for the 3rd season of The Orville has been excruciating. You would not think that one of the wokest lights in Hollywood would be producing practically the last show that can be enjoyed just for being good but McFarline has done it not allowing his woke message (yeah it’s there we all see it just like we did in every series of Doctor Who Pre-Whitaker ) to overwhelm actual storytelling.

The wait is harder because I’ve actually reached the point where we don’t know if the temptation to go full woke is there. He’s reached a point of wealth and celebrity where it doesn’t really matter but I get the feeling he hold just enough of the geek/fanboy inside of him that he doesn’t want to screw over others the way the other franchises have.

Hope I’m right.


Was looking for a free movie on Amazon Prime and settled on Brannigan one of the last pictures John Wayne made where he plays a Chicago Cop to travels to England to pick up a fugitive, John Vernon of Dean Wormer fame.

There is one scene particularly made for comedy geeks where Wayne the acting icon meets encounters someone you would not expect to see in a John Wayne Movie

Yes that’s a very young Tony Robinson before he became a comic icon as Baldrick in the Black Adder series doing a comic pratfall for Wayne. You never see him asked about it in interviews which I find rather strange, but just seeing the two of them together given their histories is enough to make me laugh


Finally with Terry Jones dead the Pythons now have two down and four to go. Combined with Neil Innes recent death it’s a big blow to fans however given their ages not all that surprising.

I suspect it will cause a lot more interest in John Cleese’s visit to Worcester in a few weeks as the realization that the number of chances to actually see these guys in person is dropping exponentially.

I must confess that when I heard he had Alzheimer and Dementia all I could think of was him in the fourth series of Python in drag with a weird umbrella like hood over his head doing an odd dance in the street and ask “given the characters he has played over the years how can anyone tell the difference?”

Review of the Netflix series Thieves of the Wood

By John Ruberry

Are you missing some Robin Hood in your life? If you are a Netflix subscriber and you can stomach graphic violence, including torture, as well as gratuitous nudity, then you may want to take a look at the ten-episode Belgian series Thieves of the Wood, which began streaming earlier this month.

And you must be patient. Thieves of the Wood moves slowly, and if you don’t know about Jan de Lichte or Flanders of the 18th century, as I didn’t until a few days ago, you might get lost.

After watching the first episode I was indeed lost. So I got on my iPad where I learned that Jan de Lichte was a real person, a highway man, who of course robbed from the rich. After all, stealing from the poor is never very profitable. At the beginning of that first episode, de Lichte (Matteo Simoni) is being dragged on a sandy trail by mounted Austrian troops, he’s accused of murder and desertion. Now is the time to bring some historical perspective. Most of contemporary Flanders, a Dutch speaking region, lies in Belgium. But in the 1740s this region was then part of Austria although it was occupied by France. Historians call this conflict the War of Austrian Succession.

De Lichte escapes. He returns to his hometown of Aalst, which is run by corrupt Flemish aristocrats, led by Mayor Coffijn (Dirk Roofthooft). Just as de Lichte arrives in Aalst, so does the new bailiff, that is the chief of police, Jean-Phillipe Baru (Tom Van Dyck). Both learn that punishment is harsh in Aalst. Baru is horrified when he learns that a man and a woman are about to be flogged for the crime of stealing two rabbits from Coffijn’s estate, then branded–while their children watch. Now paperless, they are exiled from the city to live in a nearby forest.

Those woods are not the Nottingham Forest of Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. The refuge is overrun by abject poverty, disease, prostitution, and opium smoking. De Lichte, aided by his half-brother Tincke (Stef Aerts), organize the downtrodden to fight back against the oppression, although it’s not until the fourth episode–I did say that Thieves of the Wood requires patience–that their plans bear fruit.

The loot is shared. Everyone wins in the forest. While Coffijn seethes

The scriptwriters are clearly hostile to the Catholic church. There is no Friar Tuck in this forest, in the town presides an imperious priest, Picke. He reminded me of the cruel Lutheran bishop in Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander. 

As the series played out to me I fully expected a Donald Trump reference or two, especially since America comes up in the dialogue a couple of times. Then it hit me. Two of the town council members, including Mayor Coffijn, wear orange, or I should of course say red, periwigs. Perhaps that’s only a coincidence. Perhaps not. 

Some of the good: The costumes of Thieves of the Wood, including those wigs, are first-rate and the cinematography is superb. 

And now some of the bad: There are no subtitles, the Dutch dialogue instead is dubbed by British actors. The American entertainment industry suffers from the false premise that we won’t watch subtitled offerings. But last night I saw the Korean film Parasite, which is subtitled. Not only is Parasite an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture (and Best International Feature Film), but it is also performing very well in the domestic box office. Deservedly so, I’d like to add. 

Thieves of the Wood is rated TV-MA for reasons I listed above. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Ricky Gervais Does the Impossible

I went to the Doctor’s on Monday to get an update on the shoulder (I start therapy later this month, looks like Surgery is off the table for the moment) and something amazing took place as I entered the x-ray room.

The x-ray tech was talking about the golden globes.

Now if you are my age you are old enough to remember when the award shows of Hollywood were a big deal, who can forget that moment when John Wayne finally won an Oscar.

But this century, and particularly over the last decade as Hollywood has become more disdainful of the people who actually buy the tickets interest has dropped to the point where absolutely nobody cares and so politically correct that a ten year old tweet can doom a promising comic.

Then came Ricky Gervais who came on the air Sunday to host the golden globes and gave an opening monologue for the ages.

I’m writing this post at 2:24 PM on Monday afternoon and as of this moment this video has over 2.3 MILLION views.

As you might guess this monologue didn’t please Hollywood, the response of Lorraine Ali of the LA times (via the Washington Examiner) was typical:

Well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for in China — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”

The commentary would have meant far more if Gervais himself had been brave enough to drop the tired agitator shtick and, for once, read the room.

In that critical moment Lorraine Ali revealed that she did not know who the room was.

Lorraine Ali thought his “room” was the assembled talented but self righteous celebrities who gain their wealth and influence by pretending to be what they’re not for the pleasure of the people who actually build and do the things to keep the world going. But that was not his room, nor is it the room of any TV host as I explained the next morning on twitter

For the first time in decades people are talking about the golden globes both the night of the golden globes and the next day and while I don’t know if the ratings improved as the night went on I suspect more than a few people tuned or streamed in to see if Gervias had more to say, he did:

And in fact in a post show poll over 71% wanted to see him come back next year.

Golden Globes viewers have spoken, and they want Ricky Gervais to host “every year.” A whopping 71% of fans who voted in our recent poll said he did an “amazing” job overseeing the 77th ceremony on NBC. To compare, 9% thought he was “good, but forgettable” while the remaining 20% of haters voted that he was “awful.”

The funniest reaction came from this fellow:

because NOBODY is more marginalized that Hollywood actors.

Now don’t let anyone be fooled, Gervais is a man of the left, he remains such a man but he was hired to do a job and part of that job is to produce buzz for this show.

If I’m NBC I would have make sure people were talking about if the would be signed next year and then with a month or two before the event sign him and watch the buzz begin and the ratings sour.

Review: The Two Popes

By John Ruberry

“I’m not familiar with this part of the garden,” Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) tells Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) as they enter an area overrun by brush and deadwood in The Two Popes. Benedict then asks the Argentinian, “Which way?”

That garden, at the Vatican’s Palace of Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, could rightly be called Benedict’s garden, as he was the Pope. Yet Benedict asks the man who ends up as his successor, Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013, for direction. Oops, I mean directions.

Clearly the scriptwriters and the director of The Two Popes favor the liberal leadership under Francis–the garden scene neatly ties up that sentiment in a bow.

Later, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio decries inequality, repeated images of ugly walls are shown.

The Two Popes is largely fictionalized story centered on the theological divide between the 265th and the 266th pontiffs. After a limited theatrical release, including a showing at the Chicago International Film Festival, which was sold out, preventing Mrs. Marathon Pundit from seeing it, the film debuted Friday on Netflix. The Two Popes is worth seeing, whether you are a Catholic or not, or a believer or not. The Welshmen in the lead roles, Hopkins and Pryce, provide superb performances. Of course Hopkins’ career has been justifiably rewarded, including gaining four Academy Award nominations, and winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Amazingly, despite stellar work in such movies as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Pryce has never been honored with an Academy Award nomination. He deserves it for his performance as Francis, but my guess is that the Academy will overlook Pryce again.

The interplay–and the arguing–is what keeps The Two Popes going.

As for the fiction, there is plenty of it here. There were no long meetings between Benedict and Bergoglio; the catalyst for their movie summit was an offer of resignation from the cardinal, which is harshly rejected as a challenge to Benedict’s authority. The future Pope Francis turned 75 in 2011, it is customary for archbishops to retire at that age. It can be assumed that the pair never discussed the Beatles or their Abbey Road album. And it’s quite likely that Benedict’s favorite television show is not Kommisar Rex, an Austrian detective program where a German shepherd solves crimes. This sidetrack is probably a sly reference to Cardinal Ratzinger’s long term as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican under John Paul II, where he picked up the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

There are numerous flashback scenes involving Francis, including his early romance, his call to the priesthood, his muddled legacy from Argentina’s “Dirty War,” his rise, then fall, and his rise again within the Argentine Catholic Church. 

In the garden walk scene, Bergoglio condemns Benedict’s handling of the pedophile crisis within the priesthood, which included confession of the guilty–he calls it “magic words.” Benedict’s retort is harsh and telling, “Magic words, is that how you describe the sacrament?”

The Two Popes gives viewers plenty to think about. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Trump impeachment leads my list of recent legendary flops

By John Ruberry

Here’s a list of great flops in recent times. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Here we go.

Trump impeachment.
Battlefield Earth movie.
The XFL. (Yes, a revival is planned.)
Jussie Smollett’s hate crime.
Joe Walsh’s Republican primary challenge against Trump, as well as those of William Weld and Mark Sanford.
New Coke.
Cop Rock TV show.
Watermelon-flavored Oreos.
Heaven’s Gate movie.
Bernie Madoff.
Jar Jar Binks.
The Cleveland Browns firing Bill Belichick.
ESPN becoming woke.
Theresa May’s call for a snap parliamentary election in 2017.
Cheetos lip balm.
Paris Hilton.
The Big Ten conference inviting Rutgers to join.
Anything related to Anna Nicole Smith.
Mars Needs Moms movie.
Manimal TV show.
Jeremy Corbin’s term as head of the Labour Party.
Pontiac Aztek.
The San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles.
Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign, “I was born to be in it.”
Google Glass.
CNN’s decision to become the impeachment network.
Rosie O’Donnell on The View.
Michael Avenatti’s presidential run.
Enron.
Motorola Rokr phone. (I was given one of these by my employer at the time. It was truly a dreadful device.)
Heinz purple ketchup.

Now some of these debacles can also double as hoaxes, such as the “racist assault on Smollett. And of course the impeachment of Trump, which of course is stumbling along despite the lack of evidence that a crime was committed.

Witch-hunter in chief in the House, Adam Schiff, dabbles in screenplay writing. Perhaps a Schiff-scripted movie might make it on a future list.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.