Prodigal Son: Family Drama can be Murder – HBO Max Review

The son of a serial killer becomes a criminal profiler in order to stop other murderers.

SUMMARY

Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) is a criminal profiler who works for the NYPD. His father, Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen), is a world-class doctor… and a serial killer known as “the Surgeon” who killed at least 23 people. Martin was arrested when Malcolm was a child and has since resided in an asylum. Malcolm’s sister, Ainsley (Halston Sage) is a TV Reporter while his mother Jessica (Bellamy Young) is a successful businesswoman and more successful alcoholic. Along with Lt. Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips), Det. Dani Powell (Aurora Perrineau), Det. JT Tarmel (Frank Harts), and medical examiner Edrisa Tanaka (Keiko Agena), Malcolm uses his unique insight into the mind of a serial killer to track down murderers, sometimes with his father’s advice.

I kinda buy the family resemblance.

END SUMMARY

I had not heard anything about this show during its first season on Fox, but when the show came on HBO Max, I was told to check it out. I’m not going to say that this show is a game-changer or anything like that, but it is a nice take on the idea of having someone touched by evil being gifted at fighting evil. Malcolm is frequently depicted as being able to envision what the killer did by placing himself in their mindset, something that often seems to damage his psyche a bit. Due to his father and these tendencies, most of his colleagues are at least hesitant to work with him. He has a history with drugs. He also is shown to have insomnia and violent night-terrors. His trauma, while he is able to use it, is still affecting every aspect of his life. I find this to be much more interesting than many other series where the person is just depicted as “dark and brooding.” 

He also gets into some very dark situations.

Michael Sheen is absolutely captivating as Martin Whitly, something that helps sell the belief that he is a psychopath. Whitly is not your typical Hannibal Lecter-esque mastermind. Instead, he’s a blatant narcissist who twists everything to his own glorification. He constantly praises his history as a doctor, claiming himself (accurately) among the best in the world, and says he’s a great father, but he often refuses to acknowledge being a serial killer. Despite that, when it comes up, he suggests that serial killers are better than normal people, making outlandish claims that are often easily rebuffed by those he is talking to. It feels fairly original and potentially more accurate to how such a person might be.

And here I thought he was an angel.

The supporting cast in this show is excellent. Lou Diamond Phillips plays the detective who both employs Malcolm and arrested his father. It gives him a strange relationship to Malcolm and his mother, bordering on being a surrogate father in some ways, but also distanced because he did still technically break up their family. Phillips does a great job balancing the elements. The rest of the team has their own relationships with Malcolm, but my favorite is Keiko Agena as Tanaka, who has a terrible crush on Malcolm and is hilariously awkward around him. 

I do love me some LDP.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid show. I really recommend it if you’re a fan of detective shows. 

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Amazon Prime Review – Good Omens (Season 1): It’s the End of the World as We Know It and this Show’s… Okay?

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaboration is brought to the small screen.

SUMMARY

In the beginning, God (Frances McDormand) created the heavens and the Earth. This is generally regarded as a bad move. God then created people, which is just a giant mistake, because have you met people? Although, it did give us Douglas Adams, so maybe that’s a push. Well, in any case, people quickly got kicked out of paradise due to being tempted by a demon in the form of a snake. That demon, named Crowley (David Tennant), was sent to Earth by the forces of Hell to stir up trouble. Meanwhile, his counterpart, the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), who was supposed to guard the gates of Eden, is stuck on Earth opposing Crowley. Over the millennia, the two have grown fonder of Earth, and of each other, than they are of either Heaven or Hell. However, it turns out that the apocalypse is drawing nigh, so the two are determined to work together to stop the antichrist (Adam Taylor Young) from accidentally ending the world, along the way meeting one of the last witchfinders (Jack Whitehall) and a witch (Adria Arjona) following a series of prophecies by her own great-great-great-grandmother (Josie Lawrence).

GoodOmens - 1JonHamm
Also, Jon Hamm buys pornography poorly.

END SUMMARY

I always compared Good Omens to the song “Under Pressure.” It’s thoroughly enjoyable, to be sure, and the product of a collaboration between two absolutely brilliant minds, but it’s not the best product of either of the authors. That said, it’s still a really fun book and has a lot of amazing character moments that clearly arise by having the creations of two very different writing styles interacting. One thing that consistently works about the book are all of the fun intercalary passages depicting the strange things happening as the world approaches the end times and all of the fun prophecies put forth by Agnes Nutter.

GoodOmens - 2Agnes
She also has the hottest execution on record.

This TV show is a solid adaptation of the material, but the material is difficult to adapt. The beauty of much of the writing of Good Omens is the almost lyrical language that the two authors carry into the narrative and the multitude of fun, well-developed characters.  Even with the huge amount of narration in this series, it’s still tough to get the humor to the screen without literally reading the entire thing. The series manages to do this well enough, mostly through having a lot of clever cuts and framing devices for different scenes. The fact that most of the characters are color coded and heavily distinctly costumed also helps to elaborate on their backstories without having to dwell on them. I particularly love what they did with the Antichrist’s friends, coloring them as the horsemen of the apocalypse. The thing is, though, they still can’t quite visually represent the same level of quirky humor and the endearing descriptions that are found in the novel. The show is definitely cute and funny, but only a handful of the scenes have any real staying power and only a few of the jokes really showcase the strengths of the source material.

GoodOmens - 3Hound
The Hellhound gag is still amazing, though.

There are a few highlights, though. First, Tennant and Sheen are just freaking magical in their scenes together. They really manage to convey “best frenemies” perfectly, with each of them clearly caring deeply for the other while making a show that they don’t. It’s pretty much summarized by a scene in the first episode where Aziraphale fiercely says “Get thee behind me, foul fiend,” before politely inviting him to enter the building, saying “after you.” One of the best sequences in the series is a depiction of their history from Egypt through the French Revolution.

GoodOmens - 4AngelDemon.jpg
The Crucifixion was awkward, much like in real life.

Another highlight is that some of the characters are really well designed, particularly the demons. Almost all of the demons who are associated with flies are found with some type of insectivore living on their person, which is just funny. The angels are similarly depicted as being fussy and obsessed with order, particularly Gabriel (Jon Hamm), who loves human suits.

GoodOmens - 5Suit
Something he’s never done before.

The side-stories aren’t quite as good visually as they were when being described, mostly because a lot of them were just designed to be quick jokes that just colored the world, whereas the TV format kind of forces a little more time on them just to justify the expense of setting up the scene.

GoodOmens - 6Horsemen
Granted, if you get the four bikers of the apocalypse in costume, you use them.

Overall, it’s not the best show on TV, but it is definitely a pretty solid one. It’s fun and that’s about all it needed to be. I’d say give it a try if you have the time.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.