The Dope

Still working our way through season three of Succession, which continues great. Every now and then a sense of burnout looms, what with all the characters being nasty pieces of work/shit, but then it reinvigorates itself miraculously — episode 5 was incredible. And episode 6 implies that the series could eventually get a bit serious. Already it has more actual politics than House of Cards ever did (grading on a curve, I know).

But Dopesick is maybe even better? I know one shouldn’t overvalue the serious and worthy at the expense of the wickedly funny — trust me, I know. But there’s also more good-quality film directing in Dopesick. The first two episodes are helmed by Barry Levinson. The performances are equally strong — Michael Keaton is doing the best work of his career.

There are moments when you think you know what’s coming — one episode has an explosion and a car crash, very traditional surprise elements — but they somehow tricked me into thinking it wasn’t coming, or was coming in a slow, unstartling way, and then they made me jump out of my seat. A scene later where Keaton’s character, a dope-addicted GP, performs a surgery while high had us cringing at high volume.

The use of music in both shows is exemplary. Nicholas Britell’s Succession theme has that rollicking operatic thing, and Dopesick seems to take a leaf from Chernobyl’s songbook — where Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music for the earlier series created the sound of radiation, creeping in everywhere and poisoning the atmosphere, Scotsman Lorne Balfe’s Dopesick music scores addiction, often present in a scene symbolically rather than literally — a boardroom decision that will spread the opioid plague will be accompanied by sounds of dread, disquiet, pulsing away underneath.

10 Responses to “The Dope”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

    I’m sure these are all quite good but my favorite series these days is “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” starring My Favorite Bear, Vincent D’Onoffrio.

    All things considered “The Sopranos” raised a bar tht has yet to be matched — much less crossed.

  2. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Oh Hell! That was a link to the matchless finale

  3. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Wait — Here it is !

    This was greatly resented for depriving the viewer of a splashy finale I which Tony gets wacked. But what it’s about is living with the knowledge one could get wacked at any moment.

  4. David Ehrenstein Says:


  5. I still have to watch The Sopranos but I already know the ending so that’s cool.

    It’s quite startling how good the best TV has gotten. And I feel like British TV is now way behind the US. But will probably look at A Very British Scandal over Christmas.

  6. There are so many scandals that have been deemed “Very British” that I assumed that “A Very British Scandal” was something I’d already seen. Jeremy Thorpe, perhaps? But no — that was “A Very English Scandal.” This one’s about a scandal that I never heard of. Something to look forward to!

    Re: Succession season 3 — there was a little groundswell of critical kvetching about character and plot stasis developing, which the last several episodes largely put a damper on. I thought they were among the best of the series. The show does get more serious, I think, along the lines of direct emotional rawness. I give you: Kendall’s 40th birthday party. Gird your loins.

  7. David Ehrenstein Says:

    “A Very British Scandal” REQUIRES Hugh Grant. He’s marvelous but the adorable Ben Wishaw steals the show.

  8. David Ehrenstein Says:

    As for the OTHER British Scandal — cue Dusty and the Pets

  9. I still… still… can’t get over my objection to Succession’s theft of the opening credits of The Game. Apparently I’ll get over it be series 2. Oh, and Happy Merrineum!

  10. Right enough, I’d forgotten about The Game. It’s like that, with an extra taste of the Prelinger Archive thrown in. And it doesn’t mean anything, the imagery doesn’t seem to relate to any backstory (there’s evidently some backstory to Logan Roy which hasn’t been spelled out yet, but this doesn’t help with that).

    Still, I guess since everyone and their grandkid ripped off the Se7en titles, The Game was overdue to be pillaged.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: