TV Review: “Loot” Season 2

AppleTV+
In 2016, the short-lived variety series Maya & Marty flew like a meteor across the television sky: bright, ambitious, packed with talent, and fleeting. Canceled after just six episodes, the show was a disaster, bombing with critics and audiences alike. It turns out, to nobody’s surprise, that it wasn’t the concept that failed, it was the format. The concept revolved around highlighting the massive talents that Maya Rudolph and Martin Short are, and someone just needed to find the right way to give each of them their star turns. It took eight years, but, finally, the promise of Maya & Marty has come to pass, as Short’s career has been re-ignited by the massive success of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building and AppleTV+ greenlighting a series built around Rudolph, giving her all the room she needs to showcase her prodigious comedic skills in a much better format.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Silo

AppleTV+
I’ll admit, when I’m choosing something to watch just for fun, I often look for something that has someone I like in it. Such was the case when I pressed PLAY on the first episode of Silo, a show I had heard nothing about, except that it stars Rebecca Ferguson. You may know Ferguson from the Mission: Impossible films, but I had only seen her in Dune, where she plays Timothee Chalamet’s mother, and I instantly wanted to watch her in something else (that wasn’t a Tom Cruise vehicle). So I took a chance on this weird-looking Apple sci-fi series, which turned out to be pretty captivating.

Silo is a dystopian drama set in the future, where all that’s left of humankind is living inside a giant underground silo. Nobody knows who built the silo or why people live there, but what they do know is that there is no habitable world outside it and everyone must follow strict rules for the sake of the community’s survival.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: The IT Crowd

One of the best unexpected surprises of my life was discovering The IT Crowd. A British comedy that aired in Britain from 2006 to 2013, The IT Crowd is one of the best comedy series I’ve ever watched, and guaranteed one you have never heard of—and, if you have, it may be for the wrong reasons.

The series stars Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayode and Katherine Parkinson as a three-person IT department at a large company in London. O’Dowd is Roy, the self-absorbed manchild, Ayode is Moss, the nerdy, brilliant social misfit and Parkinson their boss Jen, the ambitious but ineffective corporate climber who resents being stuck in the basement. While the format of the show is centered around an IT department, the stories rarely have anything to do with work, and mostly are designed to feature the actors, each of whom are brilliant and at the start of soaring careers.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Masters of the Air

AppleTV+
Every Memorial Day, HBO replays their seminal series, Band of Brothers, and every year, I find myself drawn in again to perhaps the most definitive narrative series about World War II. Band of Brothers, based on historian Stephen Ambrose’s book, dramatizes the battles of “Easy” Company, a parachute regiment of the 101st Army Airborne Division, one that faced some of the most brutal conditions and conflicts in Europe and came home as one of the most decorated. A companion series, The Pacific, also on HBO, focused on the Marine Corps’ action in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Both series were created and executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who worked together on what many consider the seminal film about World War II, Saving Private Ryan.

It is clear that Spielberg and Hanks are dedicated to telling the stories of the Greatest Generation, of those who fought—and died—during what many call the last great war, and they will continue their efforts as long as they are able, and as long as there are still stories to tell. Tragically, there never seems to be a dearth of stories from World War II, and Hanks and Spielberg have brought us yet another monumental series dedicated to the generation that saved the world from tyranny and fascism, but this time it’s not about battles fought on the ground, it’s about ones fought in the air.

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YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Our Flag Means Death

MAX
Sometimes you just need something different. And a little wacky. And silly. And sweet. For two delicious seasons and 18 near-perfect episodes, MAX had all of it in a tiny show that everybody underestimated or ignored altogether, Our Flag Means Death. Before being cruelly and surprisingly cancelled after its second season in 2023, Our Flag Means Death carved out an adoring audience, myself included, who was devastated to see it go, but grateful that such a weird and wonderful show ever made it to the airwaves in the first place. If you blinked and missed it when it first aired, now is your chance to appreciate one of the least-heralded, best-kept secrets of the past decade.

Our Flag Means Death, created by David Jenkins, is a weird and darkly romantic comedy about the golden age of pirates. Specifically, the year is 1717 and the plot—based on a true story– centers on one English aristocrat, Stede Bonnet, played by Rhys Darby, who is bored with his life and decides to give it all up to chase his dream of being a pirate. Bonnet, nicknamed “The Gentleman Pirate,” finds his way onto a ship and quickly bonds with a ragtag band of pirates who have been left without a leader. General wackiness ensues as Bonnet’s crash course in pirating is tested when his ship crosses paths with the most famous and vicious pirate of all, Blackbeard, played by Taika Waititi, who, at first, has neither the patience nor the tolerance for Bonnet’s ineptitude. But Blackbeard quickly becomes enamored with Bonnet’s charm and style and the two forge a strong relationship, both professional and personal.

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