The Romanoffs: “Panorama” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“Matt Weiner’s Decisive Moment” There’s a continuum of narrative duration which captures the breadth of storytelling. Huge novel cycles (Les Rougon-Macquart by Emile Zola [1871-1983)] or Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past [1871-1922]) in literature, and massive cinematic works (Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s fifteen-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) or Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour Holocaust documentary, Shoah [1985]) constitute ...

The Romanoffs: “Bright and High Circle” (2018)

The Romanoffs: “Bright and High Circle” (2018)
“The Music Teacher, or ‘Unhappy in its own way’” “Bright and High Circle,” the fifth episode of The Romanoffs confirms the feminist critique of the show that has dogged it from the release of the pilot a month ago. A grotesque misstep, Matt Weiner’s story of purported mob rule, trying those accused of social transgressions ...

The Romanoffs: “Expectation” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“I bet it’s all lies” Episode four of Matt Weiner’s The Romanoffs, “Expectation,” delivers another astonishing ending, evoking the single effect that Edgar Allan Poe finds so remarkable about the short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The exact intertextual connection between each episode of The Romanoffs and specific short stories is less important than the powerful ...

The Romanoffs: “House of Special Purpose” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“The Fall of the House of Romanov; or, Rasputin, a Real Mad Man” Episode three of Matt Weiner’s The Romanoffs continues to demand attention to the way great authors construct tightly-contained short stories. In “The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale (1842),” Edgar Allan Poe praises the skills Nathaniel Hawthorne displays in ...

The Romanoffs: “The Royal We” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“Tell The Russians We’re Coming” Matthew Weiner’s anthology series, The Romanoffs is beginning to shape up as a collection of great short stories. In the second episode, “The Royal We,” Weiner tells the story of Michael and Shelly Romanoff, a couple whose marriage is collapsing. Figure #1: Michael and Shelly Romanoff at couples counseling One ...

The Romanoffs: “The Violet Hour” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“A Magic Hour” The Romanoffs, Matthew Weiner’s new anthology series streaming on Amazon Prime, seems poised to rival his earlier Mad Men, one of the great dramas in the history of American television. The credit sequence begins with the Russian royal family gathering in a room filled with priceless oil paintings and statuary. Their clean ...

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 10: Laura is the One] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 10: Laura is the One] (2017)
“An Essay of Images” In his quirky little book, Catching the Big Fish, David Lynch describes how he uses Transcendental Meditation to aid in his creative process. In some of the episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, such as “Gotta Light,” he is surely casting bait in search of Moby-Dick. However, in the more tranquil ...

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 9: This is the Chair] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 9: This is the Chair] (2017)
“A Vision of Parents and Children”

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 8: Gotta Light] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 8: Gotta Light] (2017)
“Allegories of Television”

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 6: Don’t Die] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 6: Don't Die] (2017)
“The Fort/Da of Twin Peaks” For a show that has deliberately subverted its audience’s expectations of compelling emotional drama, episode six of Twin Peaks: The Return finally delivers the goods. A little boy is run over by a truck driven by a crazed drug mule. For emotional impact, the sequence rivals only Agent Cooper shepherding ...