It’s that time of year again – the new series of Drive to Survive has dropped on Netflix. Almost a year ago, on last season’s release weekend, I wrote about the “documentary” about Formula One and the accusations of Netflixification of my favourite sport. Well, I didn’t watch the end of last year’s season – because I couldn’t bear to watch the controversial ending to the season again, but I’m back watching the new season, once again to see what storylines they’ve picked – and which they haven’t and to see who it deals with the various controversies that hit the sport last year, including but not limited to all the headlines that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem caused with his various decisions and statements before he decided to take a step back from being directly involved in the sport.
We’re two episodes in as I write this, and not going to lie, it’s tough to watch Lewis Hamilton in the aftermath of losing the 2021 championship and the struggle of the Mercedes team with their new car. However, Haas boss Guenther Steiner remains a delight – and his double act with Ferrari’s Mattea Binotto that opens the series is lovely, although a little bittersweet if you know how the season plays out. The release of the new series has coincided with the testing for the new season which starts next weekend in Bahrain so after a couple of weeks of motorsport deprivation, it’s all roaring back with a vengeance. Great news for petrolheads – but what does it mean for my reading list?! Stay tuned…
Back at Halloween last year I wrote about the Addams Family films from the early 90s and now I’ve watched the new Netflix series about Wednesday and can report back!
So the premise of this, as you can probably tell is Wednesday Addams Goes to Boarding School – and it’s a boarding school for outcasts. Now given my fondness for boarding school stories I could very much get on board with this. And obviously because this is Wednesday we’re talking about – allergic to colour, incredibly morbid, not really into emotions – this is going to pose some challenges. On top of that, this is the school her parents attended and to say there is some history there is to understate the situation. And then there’s the fact that there appears to be a monster killing people and the pupils of the school, with their special powers/skills are the prime suspects. So a fish-out-of-water school story with a murder mystery/thriller twist, brought to you by Tim Burton. Sounds good right?
There is also good news for those of you who are as sentimentally attached to the Julia/Huston Gomez and Morticia as I am, that although the parents appear in the show, they are only in a couple of episodes. And though I have a few issues with Catherine Zeta Jones’ Morticia (not least the wandering accent), Luis Guzman’s Gomez is brilliant in a different way to Raul Julia and I really, really liked it. And as Wednesday, Jenna Ortega is fabulous, she’s got the creepy, disconnected affect down as well as the deadpan delivery. And the plot and script are really clever too. There are nods and winks to the various different incarnations of the family previously (not least Christina Ricci as Wednesday’s dorm mother) whilst still making it feel its own thing.
Wednesday has Thing with her at school – which shows how far CGI/Special effects have come in the last 30 years that it’s now super easy to have lots and lots of Thing, and Uncle Fester pops up too. But for most of the characters are new – Enid, Wednesday’s roommate, a crowd of popular kids including a siren and a pupil whose drawings come to life and a group of townies who have a very, very mixed relationship with the boarding school on their doorstep which adds another level of tension to everything. And then there is Wednesday’s special gift – which causes her even more issues. In short – plenty of plot strands to keep everything moving along and to keep you guessing about how it all might tie together.
We watched it across about four days – there are eight episodes – and were really sad when it was over. And clearly we’re not the only people who have made it to the end of the series (which seems to be the metric which Netflix bases stuff off) as they announced a second season last month. I’m interested to see where they take the show next, as the plot for this was self contained enough that it wouldn’t have left viewers mad if it didn’t get a second series but equally left you with a tease for what might happened next. And don’t worry, the teaser trailer below doesn’t give any spoilers away.
So if you need something to binge watch, and you haven’t already, I recommend this for your next duvet day on the sofa.
Happy Sunday everyone, another Netflix recommendation this week – but this time it’s a film not a documentary series so I am mixing it up a little bit, even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface of it.
Glass Onion is the sequel to Knives Out, which you don’t need to have seen to understand this because it’s standalone and the only character who carries over is Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc. If you haven’t seen is well worth a look though. Anyway moving on: the plot. A tech billionaire invites his closest friends to a party on his private Greek Island. He’s planned a murder mystery weekend and famed detective Benoit Blanc is invited too. Then a real murder happens and that’s about all I can tell you without spoilers because I double checked the trailer!
It’s very funny and more than a little bonkers – Daniel Craig’s southern accent is as mad as it was in the first film – and as well as him it has a great ensemble cast who seem to be really enjoying themselves. And contrary to the usual thing of fun shoot bad film the movie is really good. Or at least we enjoyed it! And if you want to draw some comparisons with real life figures, then that’s your prerogative.
Anyway if you’ve got Netflix, it’s a good way of spending a couple of hours. It did have a limited cinema release – but I missed it because work was insane at the time. I think it would have looked really good on the big screen too. And in a fun connection between a couple of my interests, director/writer Rian Johnson (of Last Jedi fame) is married to Karina Longworth, who wrote former Book of the Week Seduction and is the writer/presenter/creator of one of my favourite podcasts – You Must Remember This – which is one of the ones I save for running. Except for the Erotic 80s series which we binged on our last holiday – the 90s series is coming soon too.
It was the Japanese MotoGP Grand Prix today – time differences mean it’ll already be all over by the time this post goes up, but for today’s Not a Book, I’m writing about Amazon’s Drive to Survive rival – which focuses on the world of grand prix motorcycle racing.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the motorbike racing world, MotoGP is the premiere category in motorbike racing. The riders ride purpose built, specially designed bikes – as opposed to World Superbikes where they race versions of production models. MotoGP weekends also include two feeder series, Moto 2 and Moto 3, with smaller bikes and developing riders – a bit like Formula one has F2 and F3, except that the paddocks are all more linked – some of the MotoGP teams have junior teams in the junior categories and some of the riders themselves own junior teams. The first season of MotoGP Unlimited follows the 2021 season, primarily looking at the MotoGP action, but the other categories feature where the action crosses over.
The big difference between the actual sports is that motorbike racing is much more dangerous than F1 is. Every year MotoGP has broken bones and injuries. In fact if you look across the three categories you’d probably say every weekend has a rider breaking something. There are a number of people in the paddock in wheelchairs as a result of bike crashes. And sadly sometimes people die – and I warn you that it happens in one of the junior categories in this season although you don’t see it happen, but you do very much see the effect it has on the riders.
Then I would say there are two big differences between the MotoGP Unlimited and Drive to Survive. The first is that while English is the first language of the paddock in F1, it is very much not in MotoGP. So the producers decided to let the riders speak which ever language they are most comfortable with – which means a lot of Spanish and Italian. Initially they released the series dubbed, but there was an outcry and they added a subtitles version (much better). This means you get a real sense of the riders and their personalities and the rivalries and friendships, which I don’t think you would have got if the producers had forced them to speak in English.
The second is that while Drive to Survive picks centres each episode around one story and follows it across a couple of races or even most of the season, Unlimited takes the season in chronological order. As someone who watches both sports all season long, I think the unlimited approach gives you more of a sense of what it actually felt like to follow along, whereas the DTS approach creates more drama and tension and gives you backstage shenanigans you don’t know about as the races are happening. Both approaches have their merits – DTS has come under fire for creating drama where there was none but it has also boosted F1’s profile enormously, made Daniel Ricciardo everyone’s second favourite driver, turned Günter Steiner into a meme and boosted Haas’s profile. I’m not sure Unlimited has done the same for MotoGP, but it’s only had one season yet so give it time.
I’m not sure it will convert fans the same way that Drive to Survive has, but if you’re a casual motor bike racing fan it’s definitely worth a look – and hopefully we’ll get a second season to see it get into its stride – MotoGP is struggling a little this year with how to deal with the retirement of charismatic sporting icon Valentino Rossi which could make for an interesting side story to the 2022 title fight.
Bonus photo: We went to the Silverstone race that features in the series – and here’s my best attempt at a photo of Valentino Rossi at the end of the race.