Saturday, 4 July 2015

"Orange Is The New Black - SEASON 3" on BLU RAY and DVD - A Review Of The Netflix TV Series Aired 2015...Amongst The Best TV Ever...

I can’t stop thinking about 2015's Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black.

If this amazing Netflix TV program continues on like this into Season 4 or even Season 5 – it will surely join the rarefied pantheon of American super television occupied by the likes of Breaking Bad, The Wire, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Homeland, Lost, Frasier, Rescue Me, The Newsroom, Girls, Northern Exposure, Boss, House Of Cards and Nurse Jackie (to name but a few) - as being the greatest television ever made. With quality like this on our goggleboxes - is it any wonder that fans have become disillusioned with movies and stopped going to the flicks – not wanting to be fleeced anymore by endless rehashes and safe bets that do the job but little else.  

“Orange” is ballsy, it's brave, it’s funny and it's gross too - every single episode taking chances and risks that British TV seems incapable of in 2015 because of the politically correct brigade and their self-serving gutlessness. This program relishes the unspoken and rarely touched upon subject matters - consistently going to awkward and embarrassing places. And yet it still manages to be human – to be warm – regularly stroking your intelligence with hurt, pathos and hard truths that few programs go anywhere near.

And it’s not popcorn prison either – not a laugh a minute for the sake of it. Like many I’ve become sickened and disillusioned with the sadistic slime of torture porn that now seems to regularly slither over much of Game Of Thrones - otherwise ruining a genuinely great TV Series. And although set in the brutalising world of American Prison for Women - “Orange Is The New Black” is different in its depiction of cruelty precisely because it goes in deep. The writers seem determined to explore what makes these women what they are and how the system affects them. Of course prison corrupts and dehumanises a soul (even if they are felons) but inside this pressure cooker, this cage of regret, grinding routines and demeaning tasks – the women develop bonds, friendships and even love. They pour over their pasts, their mistakes, and especially the people who claimed to be loved ones – parents, brothers and sisters. Painful truths are arrived at, mistakes acknowledged and the world beyond the fence longed for (a precious second chance). There’s sex, there’s no sex, there’s contact and there’s no contact – it’s a strange world of both. Inmates and Guards - each side struggles to maintain some semblance of humanity in a situation that sees both pitched against each other and a corporate ownership that only cares about quarterly share dividends.

You also have to talk about the staggering cast drawn from every ethnic background that makes up the stewing pot of American society. The opening credits feature extreme close-ups of a long line of women’s skins – ordinary, marked, spotty, tattooed, studded, pretty, scarred...all facing outwards like a mugshot to Ronnie Spektor’s aggressive theme song “You Have Time”. But even after that’s done the lead-in scenes will have maybe 10 to 15 more names come up on screen – almost all of them unknown to us. “Orange Is The New Black” has a massive ensemble-cast that is an Emmy-winning wonder to behold – so many new actors and actresses given amazing material that allows them all to shine.

Locked up in the fictional Litchfield Prison - Principal Leads Taylor Schilling as ‘Piper’ the preppy socialite caught carrying drugs for a street-savvy friend and lover Alex (Laura Prepon) and Kate Mulgrew as the butch Russian chef ‘Red’ who rules with a rod of iron - anchor each episode. But it’s their bunkmates that keep you watching – the mentally unhinged Crazy Eyes who writes space porn and is vulnerable to manipulation by prison bullies and voices in her head (a career making role for Uzo Aduba – won the Golden Globe), the expletive-spouting rehabilitating druggy redhead Nicky (stunning work from Natasha Lyonne), Burset the crossing-dressing hairdresser trying to hold onto a gender-confused son (a stunningly brave part by LaVerne Cox), the soft-hearted Dayanara playing by the beautiful Dashca Polanco, a simple Dominican women who falls pregnant to a guard who professes love but finds it difficult stepping up to the plate. Then there's the men who are all brilliant but special mention should go to Michael Harney as the plumb soft-spoken guidance counsellor Sam Healy who struggles with a cold Russian bride at home and his feelings for the inmate Red within - and Nick Sandow who brilliantly layers his flawed but essentially decent Prison Warden Joe Caputo - a middle-aged underachiever trying desperately to keep a lid on everything and everyone (including his staff's jobs). There's so many more...we'd be here for weeks...

The back-story for each inmate and each member of staff is intricate, well thought out and wholly believable. As the episodes go by and the tragedies multiply – you’re shown crappy housing projects, poor role models, no hoper cities and the easy ways to money. The textbook upbringings that virtually guarantee a fresh supply of new inmates in yellow are shown in graphic and uncompromising detail. And the music... There’s usually a singular song placed in each episode that gets woven in as a theme/backdrop. The choices run the full gamut of genres – Rock, Pop, Schlock, Theatre and Blues – often picking tunes that seem the most unlikeable candidate – yet they work (Blue Oyster Cult, Les Miserables, Foreigner). And that joyous scene by the lake in Episode 13 will stay with you...

First aired in the USA in July 2013 and written by Piper Kerman with a huge team of contributors who deserve all the accolades going - “Orange is The New Black” makes you care and think and laugh and wince and hurt – all at the same time. It’s also showing that women of all shapes, sizes, colours and backgrounds can bring in Hollywood type box-office numbers because the public is frankly sick of shallow and longs for substance like this.

“...I want to know what love is...” - the lyrics to that Foreigner ballad plays as the newbees arrive for the first day of incarceration - that look on their faces - lives wasted - maybe a second chance somewhere in the future...

“...I want you to show me...” – the singer continues. 

Well “Orange Is The New Black” does...

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