In this edition of Cronick’s Couch, I recommend a show about a single mom and her three daughters and a great sports documentary, tell you to avoid a drug scandal documentary, and ask the question: Can you admire an artist but not the man?
“The Last Dance” (Not rated, 2020, 10 hourlong episodes, ESPN) — Those jonesing for some sports should look no further than “The Last Dance,” the phenomenal, 10-part documentary about the 1997-’98 NBA championship Chicago Bulls.
Write a thank you letter to Michael Jordan, who previously stopped this film being made for years but was ultimately convinced by producer Michael Tollin, who relies on more than 500 hours of all-access footage that was filmed before, during and after Jordan’s last season with the Bulls.
Dubbed “The Last Dance” because head coach Phil Jackson’s playbook was titled the same after GM Jerry Krause told the legendary coach that even if he won all 82 games and the championship that this would be his last season with the Bulls, the series looks deeply into the turmoil between Jordan, Jackson, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and the rest of the Bulls and the front office.
More than 100 people were interviewed for “The Last Dance,” including the major Bulls players from that season, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Jackson, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
With two hours being aired every Sunday, it’s the fastest two hours in quarantine every week.
“Better Things” (four seasons, FX) — Perhaps the most underrated series on cable TV, no other series in the history of TV captures the fun, turmoil, frustration, challenges, successes and love of single parenting better than “Better Things.”
In its fourth season, the dramedy created by Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K. stars Adlon, who many might remember as C.K.’s wife in HBO’s “Lucky Louie,” sassy girlfriend in “Louie” and from her major role in HBO’s “Californication,” as a successful actress in Los Angeles who is divorced and raises three daughters with remarkable difficulty.
The show’s honesty, accentuated by Adlon’s Emmy-nominated, blue-collar persona and take-no-crap attitude, is artistic, beautiful, hilarious, emotional, raw — get ready for the most profanity of any cable show since “The Shield” — and real, offering an honest examination of not just single motherhood but humanity. Season 4 is a roller-coaster of emotions as Adlon — and the kids — struggle with getting older and the loneliness that may come with that.
“Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” (Not rated, 2019, 115 minutes, Netflix) — Is it OK to admire an artist whose music changed the world and continues to influence everyone in its genre even though that person was certainly not the nicest person to roam the earth?
That is the quandary that exists after watching “Mike Davis: Birth of the Cool,” a pointed, truthful, no-holds-barred look at possibly the greatest jazz musician of all time.
Not only was Davis the greatest trumpet player, he was also a miserable, wife-beating, egomaniacal drug addict who lived in a time that tolerated that behavior.
But no matter how awful Davis was as a person, the interviewees can’t help but sow accolades on the jazzman, including his peers and contemporaries such as Jimmy “Little Bird” Heath, Jimmy Cobb, Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Ron Carter, Clive Davis, childhood friends and ex-wife Frances Taylor Davis.
Director Stanley Nelson tells an even-handed tale, never letting the audience forget the devil behind the genius of Miles Davis.
Not worth your time
“How to Fix a Drug Scandal” (Not rated, 2020, four hourlong episodes, Netflix) — A good documentary relies mostly on its subject matter.
And while “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” seems to possess all of the elements — drug use, inept government and inequity — it falls short of its potential.
The four-part series focuses on the story of Sonja Farak, a drug lab technician in Massachusetts who became addicted to the substances she was supposed to test, ultimately leading to the dismissal of thousands of drug cases in the state.
Sure, seems like compelling stuff, but director Erin Lee Carr’s slow, meandering tale could have easily been told in two hours and sometimes comes across like a bad cable TV crime documentary with actors re-enacting scenes to result in a sometimes boring and amateurish experience.
With so many compelling documentaries out there, this is a drug scandal you should definitely avoid.
If you have anything you want to recommend, email scronick@ pressofac.com with your mini-review, which we may publish.
Listen to “Off The Press with Scott Cronick” at 4 p.m. Wednesdays for Movie Wednesdays, where Cronick and Kevin Cronin from The Iron Room discuss movies and television, on WOND Newstalk 1400 AM, 92.5 FM and at WONDRadio.com.
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