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Lauren Ambrose

M. Knight Shyamalan Brings Mystery to SERVANT

Servant cover
Jeri Jacquin
Currently on Apple TV+ from creator Tony Basgallop and M. Knight Shyamalan is the stunning and jaw dropping series SERVANT.
Chef Sean (Toby Kebbell) and television reporter Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) are a couple that are dealing with the loss of their son Jericho.  At the suggestion of family friend, Sean gives Dorothy a doll that she sees as her son. Dealing with the situation, the arrival of the very young and meek Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free) is hired to be Jericho’s nanny. Following Dorothy’s lead, it is Sean who waits until they are alone to inform Leanne that she doesn’t have to pretend with him.
A few days after her arrival, Sean hears a baby crying and follows the sound to the nursery where Dorothy’s doll has become a live baby. Freaking out, Sean calls brother-in-law Julian (Rupert Grint) to show him what has happened. Immediately Julian suspects that the new nanny has something to do with it and shares his theories with Sean.
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Dorothy doesn’t seem to notice the difference and is thrilled to be back to herself with a new baby and doing her reports once again. Leanne is actually fascinated and disturbed by the goings on in the Turner house with Sean’s sous chef Tobe (Tony Revolori) taking an interest in her. At her husband’s request, Dorothy starts asking questions about where Leanne is from and her life.
In the meantime, Julian is on the case hiring Matthew Roscoe (Phillip Brannon) to find out where this mysterious girl has come from and what she is up to. He can’t wait to show his brother-in-law what they have discovered which deepens the mystery.
So, I’m going to stop right here because this is a series you absolutely have to experience for yourself!
Kebbell as Sean is an arrogant chef who loves his career and wife (even though they can, at times be mouthy to one another) and is twisted by what is happening. Giving a performance that mostly, so far, has this actor with a huge question mark above his head, also can’t help but feel fatherly toward Jericho #2. I have to say that watching him great dishes during the show is pretty cool. He gets a chance to experience a one two punch of mystery and good eats and I’m all for that.
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Ambrose as Dorothy is a woman who is proud of her reporter skills yet she seems to have blank screen when it comes to actually knowing what’s going on in her own home. She’s a good person with a quick wit and a protectiveness towards her family – including brother Julian. At first I was annoyed with Dorothy and then I just dropped my jaw and became in awe of her. Certainly most of us might behave differently but that isn’t going to stop viewers from jumping on to her bandwagon to see where this ride is going to take us. Well done Ambrose!
Free as Leanne is a young girl who seems to be missing part of the real world in her life. Fascinated by the life she is beginning with the Turner’s, she also seems to enjoy taking care of baby Jericho (that is, the doll that is now a real baby Jericho – confused yet?). Taking a liking to Dorothy, she begins to feel part of the family even if she gets snide comments and judgmental looks from both Julian and Sean.
Grint as Julian is a messed up human being who loves the wine at his brother-in-law’s house. It is clear that he’d like nothing better than to expose Leanne for whoever he thinks she is but worrying about his sister has become a full time job. Julian wants to protect her from any more pain but this is a situation that isn’t going to let that happen. Grint is on his game and I must admit to it being weird not hearing Ronald Weasly’s voice come out. Trust me when I say that thought will fade fast because he is aaaaaamazing as Julian.
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Brannon as Matthew is on the case by going with Julian to where Leanne says she comes from. What he finds disturbs him just as it would anyone else. Revolori as Tobe is attempting to be friends with Leanne but is confused by her reaction to things. That’s not going to stop him from being Sean’s best sous chef so we’ll be seeing more of him in upcoming episodes.
Apple TV+ is a video on demand web television service of Apple Inc. The content is viewable through Apple’s website and through Apple’s TV app which is available through electronic devices. Accessible in about 100 countries, they distribute their own content and original programming.
The directing duties begin with Shyamalan taking the helm with the first episode Reborn, with the directing duties going to Daniel Sackheim for episode 2 Wood and 3 Eel. There are seven more episodes to bring the series to a climatic season finale with that feeling of ‘awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!’ knowing the wait it on.
SERVANT is a series that is going to have you wanting more and more and even more. The episodes are a half hour each which absolutely and totally drives me insane. That’s probably what creator Basgallop had in mind in the first place. Sitting at his keyboard wondering what would be the best way to make everyone growl like a bear when the credits start to role – it worked so well played sir!
The show is a bit of brilliance and it is clear why Shyamalan would want to be part of it, the storyline is right up his professional ally. SERVANT is a mixture of feeling crazy, not understanding what is in front of us, twisting our brains trying to jump ahead and figure things out but then stopping because we can’t get away from the crazy feeling. Now personally, I happen to like when a show does that and I’m not going to lie, SERVANT had me slapping my head a few times, yelling at the screen with ‘what…THE…&$%@!’ or ‘you’ve GOT to be kidding me!’
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Yet, I went back, again and again wanting more, wanting answers and wanting to be riveted and I got it (I still want more than a half hour but I guess you can’t have everything – yet!). The show is creepy, eerie, maddening and filled with twisted humor moments. Apple TV+ has a hit on its hands and now I am curious to see the other series they have to offer and trust when I say I’ll be checking them out for you so stay tuned.
In the end – there is not an easy mystery to unravel!

Know the Truth with THE X-FILES: The Event Series

xfiles cover

 

Jeri Jacquin

The truth is out there this week from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and the release of THE X FILES: The Event Series on Bluray and DVD.

Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) are back in the X-Files business when called in by former boss Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) to investigate the unusual. Finding their little dark corner in the basement, Mulder is as jaded as ever and Scully is still based in science with an open mind.

Both are struggling with the events that have led them to this moment. Mulder still searching for his sister and Scully finding her emotions regarding their child. When Scully discovers that she has an alien genome in her DNA, she is more likely than not to listen to Mulder.

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It is internet sensationalist Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) that starts to question everything calling in Scully and Mulder to meet someone else who has the alien genome. This starts a chain that no one could possibly have seen coming.

They are again called out to investigate a growling horned monster plaguing a small town. It is Mulder who seems to be edgy about believing while Scully knows that it is best to follow the science on this one. What they find is not exactly your typical monster.

When a shopping mall is bombed by a terrorist, Mulder and Scully both have different ways in finding answers. Agents Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) and Miller (Robbie Amell) are younger versions of the scientist and believer and both learn that their elders do know better.

It all comes to a glaring finale when Mulder never makes it to a meeting with Tad O’Malley who confronts Scully about the DNA tests. In a panic she races back to the hospital to discover that the beginning of a break down is happening. With the help of Einstein they discover that vaccine shots given to people when they were young actually altered their DNA making them victims to sickness. Scully also sends Miller out to look for Mulder.

Trying to find a cure and Mulder becomes paramount for Scully. A face from the past intervenes as Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) tells Scully something that shakes her to the core. Mulder already knows where to look, coming face to face with Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis). Like all power hungry people, he lays out the plan for the world to fall only to rise with new leaders and offers Mulder a place at the table.

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Back at the lab Einstein is getting sick and Scully must work faster to save as many as she can, including Mulder and Miller who are now both sick. In Mulder’s case, the cure isn’t going to be enough and what will is out of reach.

Or is it?

Duchovny as Mulder doesn’t miss a beat coming back to reprise his role as a man obsessed with finding his long lost sister. Although age may have mellowed him a bit, the wit and sarcasm seems to be right on point. I think the best episode includes his hallucinating line dancing, have to say I wasn’t expecting that! Duchovny will always be Mulder – accept no substitute.

Anderson as Scully also doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. Back to work as a doctor, she seems to jump at the chance to get back to the insane and unusual. It also gives her face time with Mulder which isn’t so bad either. Scully is scientifically thorough in her investigations but now, she is much more open to the ‘not everything is as it seems’ theory Mulder had been trying to convince her of for years. Anderson is such a joy to watch.

Ambrose as Einstein is brash and non-budging in her beliefs and although she experiences a thing or two out of the ordinary, it might take more convincing. Amell as Miller has such a gentle nature about him, he needs to hang around Mulder for a while to get the hard edge for the job.

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It is good to see Pileggi as Skinner once again trying to keep the dynamic duo out of trouble. The Smoking Man played by Davis is still as demented and secretive as he has always been but this time add creepy – well done! Gish as Reyes comes back to try to make amends but will it be enough?

Newcomer McHale as O’Malley certainly is a character with duality. On air he is about hollering and scaring people but in person he has a little more concern about what is happening and how to stop it. I enjoy McHale in most things he does so good on ya!

It was good to see the “band” get back together as it were. So many people were excited when the announcement was made that the series would be coming back even if for a limited run. The finale of the series leaves the door so wide open you could part a flying saucer in it as to whether there will be more – so my question is what will it take for that to happen? I have $5 we can start a GoFundMe page if that’s the issue!

Writer/Creator and Director Chris Carter said of the revival, “We’re going to tell X-Files the way that we’ve always told them; we of course set them in the time and place that they exist. We’re telling contemporary stories about contemporary situations, true to Mulder and Scully’s characters and their relationship and the passage of time.”

The Bluray includes the episodes My Struggle, Founder’s Mutation, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, Home Again, Babylon and My Struggle II.

The Special Features to the Event Series include an Audio Commentary of Select Episodes, Deleted Scenes, The Making of a Struggle, Season X – An In-depth Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Series Event, Gag Reel, Monsters of the Week: The Wildest and Scariest from the Original Series, The X-Files: Green Production, Grace-From the X-Files Karen Nielsen.

In the end – the truth is still out there!

 

trust no one

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