Episode #48: Dexter: New Blood – Episode 4: H is for Hero, a review

In this episode Mark talks about the latest episode of “Dexter: New Blood” – Episode 3: “H is for Hero”, which is also the 100th episode of the series “Dexter” overall – in which Dexter becomes concerned about his son, Harrison, following an attack at their high school.

TMHE – Episode #43: Parks and Recreation (TV series), a review

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite TV shows: the American political satire mockumentary sitcom television series”Parks and Recreation”, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Shur, which originally aired from April 9, 2009, to February 24, 2015, consisting of 125 episodes, over seven seasons. The series stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a perky, mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks Department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana, and along with an ensemble cast – including Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Audrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir, and Retta – we follow the personal and professional ups and downs of the characters of the show as they interact with one another, live their lives, find their true calling, and follow their dreams.

TMHE – Episode #42: Dexter: New Blood – Episode 2: Storm of ****, a review

In this episode Mark talks about the latest episode of “Dexter: New Blood” – Episode #2: “Storm of ****” – in which Dexter/Jim Lindsay (played by Michael C. Hall) has to cover up from the events of last episode, during which his “Dark Passenger” resurfaced after 10 years of being dormant and which lead to the killing of a local young man.

TMHE – Episode #40: Dexter: New Blood – Episode 1: Cold Snap, a review

In this episode Mark does a spoiler review of the first episode of the American crime drama mystery miniseries “Dexter: New Blood” – Episode 1: “Cold Snap”. Set ten years after the events of the original series finale, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has moved to the town of Iron Lake, New York, where he is hiding and living under the name of Jim Lindsay, a local shopkeeper, and has developed a relationship with the town’s chief of police, Angela Bishop (played by Julia Jones), and for the most part he has been able to suppress his serial killer urges and live a normal life – but who sees the ghost of his dead sister, Debra Morgan (played by Jennifer Carpenter), who warns Dexter to not bring attention to himself for fear of being discovered for who and what he really is. However, when a series of incidents around the town cause Dexter’s “Dark Passenger” to reassert itself he finds himself returning to old habits and with the arrival of a new young man in town who seems to be very interested in him, Dexter also has to face up to someone from past and choose whether to push them away or accept them as his own.

Episode #35: ‘Doctor Who’ – S8, E4: “Listen” (2014), a review

In this episode Mark does a review of one of his favourite episodes from one of his favourite TV series: ‘Doctor Who’ – S8, E4: “Listen” (2014) written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Starring Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald.

Episode #32: “Squid Game” (TV series), a review

In this episode Mark does a review of the critically acclaimed South Korean survival drama Netflix television series “Squid Game”. The series centres on a contest in which 456 players, from all different walks of life but who each are deeply in debt, participate in a set of children’s games for the chance to win a ₩45.6 billion prize – however the penalty for losing in a game is death, which leads to an intense experience for every player as they fight to stay alive and make it to the end of the game so that they can be the sole winner of the prize money.

Episode #27: “The Many Saints of Newark” (2021 film) *Spoilers*

In this episode Mark talks about the 2021 American crime film “The Many Saints of Newark” directed by Alan Taylor and written by David Chase and Lawrence Konner. A prequel to David Chase’s HBO crime drama TV series “The Sopranos”, the film stars Michael Gandolfini, Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga. Set in the 1960s and 1970s in Newark, New Jersey, using the 1967 riots in the city as a backdrop for tensions between the Italian-American and African-American communities, the film follows the teenage years of Tony Soprano in the midst of a violent gang war his uncle and family are involved in.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #8: “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” (TV series) – Episodes 14-16: a review

In this episode Mark talks about episodes 14, 15 and 16 – the penultimate episodes of Season One – of the animated Disney+ television series “Star Wars: The Bad Batch”. *Spoilers*

My Poem “Getting Ahead of Myself”

As a child, I always looked to the future…
as a child, when I imagined what would be,
I was always sure that things would turn out
like they were predicted to
in films and in television shows
that I watched which depicted
a world to come when anything
and everything was possible:
including vacations on the Moon,
underwater cities, and, of course, time-travel.

As a child, I was always hopeful
of a bright and inspirational tomorrow –
because looking immediately
for the positive of any situation
for me has always been in my nature…
as a child, I was like Luke Skywalker,
in the Star Wars movies:
always looking to the horizon
and always believing that anybody –
even someone as seemingly
bad as Darth Vader could be
redeemed and returned
from the dark side to the light.

As a child, fantasy worlds
drew me to them, because
what I saw and who I saw
had this magic to them
that had aspects to them
that were incredibly enthralling –
including: quests, adventures,
and other realities that seemed
wonderfully exciting.

As a child, real life was somewhere
where I interacted with my family,
where I hung out with my friends,
where I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
and where there wasn’t such things
as flying cars, teleporters,
jet-packs, and robots who
looked as human as anybody I knew –
but I knew that one day all those
things that the television showed me
would come true one day.

As an adult, when I look around
at the world of the present –
while simultaneously reflecting
back upon the past and at what I used
to believe would be a reality
when I was all grown-up –
there are times when I genuinely
have to ask myself,
in the words of Freddie Mercury:
“Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?”

As I have grown older
and as I have seen and experienced
even more of the world,
my instant impulse to imagine
possibilities before they happen
is still my immediate instinct –
and though there have indeed
been times in my life when my belief
that the world is innately hopeful
and optimistic has been tested,
I will never be convinced by
anything or by anybody
to stop reaching for that which
seemingly lies upon a higher shelf of life,
and I will never stop being someone
who naturally and occasionally
gets ahead of himself.

My Poem “Tony Soprano”

There has never been a TV show since,
and there may never be a TV show
again,
like the hit show ‘The Sopranos’ –
and there will never be another
character like Tony Soprano:
the Mob Boss of North New Jersey,
who in my opinion was the first
anti-hero on TV who was so complex,
so intriguing, and so compelling
that nobody who watched him
could help themselves from
rooting for him, no matter what
he did and no matter what he said.

Tony Soprano woke up every morning,
he walked down his driveway
to retrieve his copy of the daily newspaper,
and then after that there was
no telling what he was going to next;
but one thing was always clear:
whatever Tony did he did for his family –
both his blood family
as well as for his crime family,
and everything that he did
was all to keep the Soprano family
and the thing of theirs
that was their life going
by any means necessary.

In my opinion, no one could have
played Tony Soprano
like James Gandolfini did –
because Tony Soprano was
someone who was smart;
Tony Soprano was someone
who internalised and wrestled
with a lot of psychological trauma
because of his mother, Livia,
and because his father Johnny Soprano
had been a gangster before Tony
was even born
there was no question that he would also
become a member of the family business;
but Tony Soprano was not like
everybody else in his family:
he suffered panic attacks –
and because he loved his family
so much he sought out the help
of a therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi,
in order to be a more effective
father and boss to those who followed his lead.

You don’t get to meet too many characters like Tony Soprano,
nor from episode to episode
watch someone like him
do what only someone like him
could do…
you don’t get to see acting of the
calibre that James Gandolfini had that often –
and it is clear as day that he put
every ounce of his talent into
making Tony the engaging, the profound,
and the powerhouse of a character that he was;
which is why viewers did not
want to see what they ultimately saw
at the end,
when the screen suddenly went to black –
because nobody knew that only moments before
they had just taken one last look
at one of the greatest characters
in television history:
the one and the only Tony Soprano.