Last month, I wrote about my addiction to Don Winslow’s novels. This month is dedicated to all the fantastic series coming out of Spain. I know a lot of folk don’t get on with sub-titles, but even without a smattering of the language (my Hebrew is virtually non-existent and it didn’t prevent me from enjoying Fauda and Hit And Run) if the action’s great, you soon find yourself immersed.
I wolfed down the first season of ‘Money Heist’ – actually I prefer the alternative title of ‘The Paper House’ and, after romping through others, have just devoured the first part of Season 5. Absolutely character driven, the story, in the first season, revolves around a daring attempt to take over the Royal Mint of Spain by a criminal mastermind with the aim of printing millions of euros. To pull this off, he puts together a team of ‘no-hopers’ who have unique skills. A joyous game of cat and mouse is played out and then things turn dark and, by the last episode, with the final to air in December, darker still. Put it this way, the body count increases and your heartstrings are given an agonising tug.
Any drama that touches on, or involves, the Holocaust requires sensitive handling. If done badly, as in Hunters, with its crass depiction of scenes in the death camps – sorry Al Pacino, one of my favourite actors – but, holy hell, that awful chessboard scene made me switch off and not because I’m squeamish, it reduces a truly dark period in history to shallow entertainment. Not so with Jaguar. Set in the 1960’s, it follows the story of a group of Spanish Holocaust survivors who seek justice against Nazi war criminals in hiding following the end of World War II. Again, fabulous characterisation is a hallmark of the drama. The backstory of the camps, depicting scenes at Mauthausen, are extraordinarily poignant and powerful, without being sensationalist. A genuine cliffhanger ending concludes season one and I’m very much looking forward to seeing in which direction season two travels.
For something completely different, (and I had my doubts when I read the premise) check out ‘Sky Rojo.’ Essentially, it’s the tale of three prostitutes hell-bent on escaping from their pimp and his henchmen. Episodes are short, around twenty-five minutes, which lends pace to the unfolding story. At times, there’s a cartoon-like quality to the action. It’s funny. It’s also brutal, graphic (not for the faint-hearted) and dark. Yes, as the girls frantically seek freedom, their friendship, with all their differences, deepens, and we’re rooting for them all the way.
Finally, there has been hot debate in this household for some time about the identity of the new James Bond. Discussion has also focused on where the Bond franchise will take 007 next. In a sense, each new Bond is a constant reinterpretation of Ian Fleming’s original. So, just throwing it out there, how about a return to the 1960’s, no mobile phones, no high-tech gadgets, and pure retro?