E-Mails Of The Day+

Re: Undercover Season 3

Thank you Bob.

Always nice to read a good review, especially for this season. It was a hard one to make. Getting Bob and Ferry together pitched great but was… yes… a stretch to write. At the time I was busy making the movie, so my good friend and colleague (and co-creator) Piet Matthys did most of the heavy lifting.

Shooting was even more intense, we were at the height of the third covid-wave, Frank was exhausted (shot this back to back with the movie, that’s why his hair is short – we didn’t have time to do something else) and lonely in his hotel room. He’s a Dutchman and we shot most of the show in Belgium with a lot of restrictions, all restaurants and bars closed, no social gatherings possible. It made the experience very “method” for him, although he hates method acting. He’s the kind of actor who can switch on and off in the blink of an eye.

Irony is that I’m in LA now, stuck in my hotel room because of a positive covid test. Gives me time to write!

Nico Moolenaar

(Creator/Producer “Undercover”)

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Dear mister lefsetz,

Thanks for your kind reviews. If you happen to know an agent who would like to help me do some stuff over there, I would be very grateful. And for the record I don’t have skinny legs.

Greetings from Holland

Frank lammers

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So glad you keep the love going for Undercover, as I could not agree with you MORE!

Ferry is one of, if not the best bad guys in years on TV, and for those who know what we’re both talking about, I don’t think there’s been a more lovable, yet despicable “bad guy” like this since Gandolfini in The Sopranos. Ferry is the show, and every second he’s on screen he’s unpredictable, ready to pounce, and flat out someone you can’t help but admire because he says what he means and means what he says, which is sadly something most knuckleheads in our world have forgotten is a noble and stand up quality we desperately need more of.

Thank you,

Richard Suckle

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I was an AFS student in Tunisia in high school and attended a few circumcisions – yes, they are a thing, like a combo bris and bar mitzvah. My eyes were big as saucers the first time I attended one – I don’t think I’d heard the word circumcision said out loud before (I grew up protestant in Pasadena).

Re Frank Lammers – The range. He’s mesmerizing as Ferry. He’s so alive as a character I feel like I can smell him. Repulsive and attractive…the boyish slump in the hotel lobby in Turkey, his tenderness towards Danielle, his rage – when he pulled that table out of the cement floor to reach the phone in prison! – the pursed lips, watching his brain work when he’s negotiating with the police and then…that remarkable scene with Serkan where he goes raw and real about why he desperately needs that drug deal…wow.

Barbara Barna Abel

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I’m watching undercover, it really is good.  Ferry was an amazing character and mean as a snake underneath.  Bob is a full fledged character with his work, his family and I don’t know how people who work undercover for months, years do what they do.

Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll check out Spiral.

Brian ALLMAN

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Ditto…100% !

Kevin Teare

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Great season, loved it, too!

Don Sizzle

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I want an all Fer network.

Gary Mendel

Undercover Season 3

It delivers.

I’d say it’s phenomenal, but there are some plot points that are not fully believable…no, let me just say they stretch it. But having said that one thing you must know is at times it’s so TENSE!

That’s something that TV doesn’t do so well. That’s one of the reasons “The Bureau” is so great, because of the tension. And there were times during the new “Undercover” that it was hard to watch, not because of gore and violence, but because you were worried what might happen to the characters.

I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but let me just say that the series works first and foremost because of Frank Lammers, who plays Ferry. He’s far from classically beautiful, and he’s got a big belly and skinny legs. And what he radiates isn’t exactly charisma, but internal power, confidence, and the ability to manipulate. You’re drawn to him. Ferry is out for himself, but he can be warm and fuzzy, most notably with Danielle.

Danielle… She’s long on heart, but not so good with brains. As for her sexual preferences…I’ll let you watch and find out.

And Tom Waes, as Bob/Peter, is inherently intense. And he never breaks character, that’s just who he is. Focused. Eyes on the prize. Thinking about the game all the time. Which is why he and Ferry play so well together. One from the good team, one from the bad, but both skilled at what they are doing.

And then there’s a new character, Nazmiye Oral as Leyla, the drug kingpin. She’s so believable it’s astounding. Devoted to her handicapped husband partner but shouldering all the responsibilities that he no longer can. She and her family are Turkish. Exotic in Belgium, where this show is shot. They don’t sacrifice their roots, and there’s a celebration commemorating a surgery…I’d never heard of this occasion, proving that television can be a window to the world.

Assuming you watch foreign shows. And if you want a Turkish show, pull up “Ethos,” also on Netflix, which is gritty in its own way and even more believable. I’ve written about it, but I’m constantly getting e-mail from people asking me what to watch, or telling me about a show I’ve already written about, so I want to remind you.

“Undercover” is basically a crime show. The best foreign crime show is “Spiral.” It rings true throughout. But it doesn’t have Frank Lammers, as good as the talent is in that French production. It’s amazing what one star can do.

So be sure to watch “Undercover” with subtitles, it just does not ring as true dubbed. And watch the previous two seasons and the prequel movie too. This is a humdinger. If only we had television like this in the U.S. The U.S. is all about sheen, the look, the stars frequently supersede the roles. But in “Undercover,” you forget you’re watching television, you just go along for the ride. And the ride is not always fast, and when it’s slow it’s tense and…

I’ve tried to watch some of the hyped American shows, like “Maid.” Andie MacDowell starts off okay and then goes over the top and becomes unwatchable. Her daughter, Margaret Qualley, who plays the title character, is a star, but to tell you the truth I’ve been unable to finish the show.

So most people don’t know the new season of “Undercover” started on Monday. But more people know the new season of “Ozark” starts Friday. CAN’T WAIT!

Trailer: https://bit.ly/3Gw6pMs

Damnation Spring

https://amzn.to/34OQQ4C

This newsletter is not a chronicle of everything I’ve experienced…every book, TV show, movie and concert. And it’s certainly not a list. A list is not writing, and not that intriguing.

However, one of the main reasons I read a book or watch a TV show or movie is because of the plot. So it’s not easy to write about something I’ve consumed. Because I want you to have the same experience I do, of the story unfolding, the surprises, the twists and turns.

“Damnation Spring” is not a hidden book. It’s got nearly a thousand reviews on Amazon. That’s one of the criteria I employ to decide whether or not to read a book.

I read about “Damnation Spring” somewhere, and then immediately went to Amazon. It had four and a half stars. Four is not uncommon, but four and a half, that’s relatively rare. At least with real books, not lowbrow crap. So I reserved it via the library app Libby, and then I got to jump the line and had seven days to complete it as opposed to the usual twenty one. If I’d continued to wait for the three week lend, it would have been in excess of three months. So I dove in.

“Damnation Spring” is subtle. It’s not littered with constant plot twists and turns. It’s about regular people. And it’s set in 1977.

Now you can read “Damnation Spring” as a polemic about logging, and that’s in the book, but what got me hooked was the story of the people. Everybody’s just trying to get along. Can you leave your hometown, can you abandon your relatives, or do you need that comfort to exist?

And then you’ve got the issue of finding a partner. If you never leave town, the pickings are much more slim. You adjust your expectations. And then you have to accept the significant others of your family members, and we all know that can be hard to do. What were they THINKING when they married so and so…I still don’t have the answer.

So this is pre-internet. But it’s also pre-cell phone. You live off the beaten path and you’re alone. Good luck calling for help.

And then there are the injuries. Members of the educated elite sprain a finger and immediately go to the doctor. And then you have those on the opposite end of the education/wealth spectrum who just tape it up and move on. Who wear their injuries for the rest of their lives, and don’t complain about it.

And if you live in the boonies… Death is more frequent. Living to an old age is harder, because of the risks of your job, because of the lack of first class health care. Especially if you’re a logger.

Does the logging company care about you? Do all the environmentalists care about you, how you make your living? These questions are baked into the story, but even more intriguing is how the people get along. You know everybody in a small town, but you don’t necessarily like them, or trust them.

So is “Damnation Spring” the best book I’ve ever read? No. But it’s head and shoulders above everything else I’ve read in the past couple of months. The lauded Gary Shteyngart was a huge disappointment, ignore the reviews, and I loved his previous book, “Lake Success,” which is why I bought “Our Country Friends.” Once bitten, twice shy. I’m going back to the library. I was eagerly awaiting “Our Country Friends,” if I hadn’t bought it I would have stopped reading it.

And honestly, “Damnation Spring” does not hook you from the get-go, but you become invested, you want to know what happens. But it’s not only plot.

And at times you’re not sure what Ash Davidson is saying, you’ve got to finish the sentence or paragraph to fully understand, but it’s nothing in comparison to Shteyngart, where you’ve got to completely adjust for his style.

Books are smaller than movies or TV shows. They require effort. But when done right they create a whole world, which you can enter and inhabit. And I love this feeling, especially in an era where there is cell service everywhere, where everybody feels you must be available 24/7, where you always feel connected.

But you want to be disconnected sometimes.

I don’t want to oversell “Damnation Spring,” it’s not for you if you read one book a year. But if you read ten or twenty, check it out.

Jeff Pollack-This Week’s Podcast

Jeff Pollack ran the leading rock radio consultancy and then pivoted into music documentaries. Chances are the AOR station you listened to in the late eighties and nineties was programmed by Pollack. Jeff simultaneously worked with MTV and other clients. As a documentary producer, Jeff is responsible for “Laurel Canyon” on Epix, Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin on Hulu and more. Listen to how one man’s love for music led him from fan to on-air talent to programming radio to ultimately working with such enterprises as Apple, CNN, Red Bull, YouTube, the NFL and more. 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jeff-pollack/id1316200737?i=1000547771608

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/9ff4fb19-54d4-41ae-ae7a-8a6f8d3dafa8/episodes/2c77c0e8-384b-49fb-8253-2a69b43836b5/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast-jeff-pollack