October 23, 2017

Mozart In the Jungle and Transparent – 2nd Seasons on Amazon

Streaming services continue to give the major networks and cable a run for their money. Amazon Prime recently rolled out second seasons for both Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. I’m happy to report that both shows retain the charm they created in their premiere seasons.

Although Jeffrey Tambor won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in Season 1, Season 2 veers slightly away from his character of Maura Pfefferman and is more about his ex-wife (played by Judith Light) and their children (Gaby Hoffman, Jay Duplass and Amy Landecker.) Flashbacks of family members in 1930s Germany add a historical context to the problems of current day Pfeffermans.

Watch for former Chicagoan, singer/actress Alexandra Billings as Maura’s friend, for Angelica Huston in a bedroom scene and for Bradley Whitford’s brief cameo in the flashbacks. No surprise that Amazon has already ordered Season 3 from creator Jill Solloway.

Mozart In the Jungle is a little more self-assured in Season 2, with the tone more consistent than its initial season. Cousins Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman have written and produced the series with director/writer Alex Timbers.

The lead character of Rodrigo is based on Venezuelan symphonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel who makes an appearance as a stage hand in the Season 2 opener. Gael Garcia Bernal continues to delight as mercurial conductor, Rodrigo, but Bernadette Peters as a patron of the New York Symphony and Malcolm McDowell as the emeritus conductor go toe to toe with him in charm and wit. The heart of the show is Lola Kirke as the aspiring oboist and personal assistant to maestro Rodrigo as she mixes practicality with bohemian charm. We might want her to end up with Rodrigo but not until she has had successes and adventures of her own.

Music fans will get a kick out of seeing Lang Lang, Emmanuel Ax and Joshua Bell not only act, but play ping pong and pool, go bowling and dance. Dermot Mulroney has a fun turn as a visiting cello soloist.
True, some of the episodes get a little wacky, but each program is under 30 minutes and the second season as an aggregate just might make you smile.  And whistle a classical tune or two.

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