“Valley of Tears” was too violent for Felice. But I recommend it, it’s an Israeli series on HBO Max about the 1973 war, incredibly well done, not that I’ve finished it yet, I’m six episodes in, and when Felice dropped out I switched to my iPad and it just didn’t have the same effect, it needed the big screen, making me wonder how people’s perceptions of visual entertainment are affected by the screen they use. This is not about theatre versus home, that ship has sailed, it’s about getting a 65″ screen that is state of the art or…watching on an old TV. As for movies… If I see one more VOD movie reviewed in the New York or Los Angeles “Times” I’m gonna puke! Do you know how much I’m paying for cable/internet/streaming? Do you really think I want to pay another ten or twenty bucks to see some film? The truth is today I can live without ANYTHING! Other than food and water and shelter, I’ve got no necessary needs. I can miss anything. But purveyors don’t seem to realize this. Put up an extra payment, on your film, on your music, on your newsletter, and I’m out. Do you know how much I subscribe to that I rarely read/watch? I’m not lacking for input, I’m not bored, if anything I wish I had three lives, one to work, one to read and one to watch television, there’s just that much out there and I have just that much desire. The papers should be reviewing TV shows, not movies, but the news is always one step behind, even in its own business of journalism.

So checking my list for a new show, I came across “Undercover” on Netflix. It’s a Belgian/Dutch series. Yes, you can watch it dubbed, but please turn on the subtitles. It turns out that the flatlands of Belgium are a hotbed of ecstasy production, the world’s number one, who knew? And Ferry and his compatriots are ecstasy dealers and…

Now we are not familiar with the actors. But having said that, they perform so well that I believe that’s who they are. This is not the casting of America where first we consider your looks and your fame, the people look like those you encounter in real life. And Bob and Kim are cops who move into a trailer park to snare the bad guys and… They believe in their jobs. They’ll sacrifice anything for their jobs. And Kim refuses to take a back seat, she’s innovative, she tests the limits.

Most people are not passionate about their jobs, no matter how much money they make. It’s about the money. Especially if you’re in banking…I mean who cares? But in order for life to be fulfilling, you need something to live for. In this case, catching the bad guys, which is very hard to do.

And the bad guys are not dumb. Trust is truly off the table. Ferry knows not to go too big, because then attention is drawn. And just like with the Mafia, once you’re in you can’t get out, cross Ferry and cronies at your peril. And even if you’re innocent, they might still believe you’re guilty.

But what makes the show so inviting is the mood. This is not the fast and flat cinematography of typical TV movies, never mind regular shows, the images are rich, they feel real, you’ve been there, to a camping site where it’s not always sunny, but you accept it. And where everybody is not always rich. And it all doesn’t look like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself if you’re rich. Trump never got this memo, he was skating on his tax shenanigans, now he’s probably going up the river. The nouveau riche think it’s about totems, showing off, those with real money, who’ve been in the game for a while, are low key.

So, what does it take to make friends? Can you read a room? Know when to talk and when not to? Danielle can’t, and therefore she’s rejected and lonely, ready for Kim/Anouk’s entreaties. As for Bob/Peter…he’s actually not as skilled as Kim in infiltration, but he’s the one who has to snare Ferry. As for Ferry… He’s played by Frank Lammers, and he’s so good, if this was an American show he’d win an Emmy or a Golden Globe or whatever phony award they’re giving out this week. The truth is these criminals rarely look like an Adonis, like they’re out of a fashion spread. Ferry is far from classically beautiful, and he’s got a beer gut, but he can be intimate and off-putting, he shows the range of all emotions while calculating all the while and…

The hits just keep on coming. Some literal, some figurative, the plot keeps moving forward, and the cops don’t always win! In real life it doesn’t always go the cops’ way, and the truth is to be a really successful criminal you’ve got to be very savvy, not a hothead, you’ve got to learn from experience, and keep your eyes open at all times.

“Undercover” is akin to “The Sopranos,” but without all the family interactions that made that series the best of all time. But when it comes to the crime, the interaction, that’s similar. But Tony and his gang are part of a family, Ferry’s organization is independent, and much smaller. And the cops are savvy, but they’ve got to catch him in the act…you can know someone is guilty, but proving it can be very difficult.

So if you’ve watched the biggies…”Spiral,” “The Bureau,” “Borgen,” “Prisoners of War”…and you’re looking for another intense drama, I highly recommend “Undercover.” You’ll want to watch it. That’s the criterion, all day do you think about when you’ll be able to park your butt and watch, if not…it’s not a hit. And you feel like you truly know these characters, who are far from one-dimensional, they are not cardboard cutouts, they are patently three-dimensional and real.

As usual, I don’t want to tell you plot details, I don’t want to ruin it, I want you to be constantly surprised, thinking you’ve got it figured out, but you don’t.

I’d say they could remake “Undercover” as an American show, but there’s no need, the original is just a click away on Netflix. And if they did redo it, they’d get famous actors who would overshadow the roles, I’ve never seen a movie with Meryl Streep where I didn’t see Meryl Streep. A few U.S. actors can transcend their real life identity, but not many. Maybe because we make them into stars, when the truth is in other countries there’s less money to be made and acting is seen more as a profession.

As is viewing.

We live in an incomprehensible world. All day long we deal with incoming. Even worse, we never feel like we’re caught up. We end alienated, disconnected, wondering where we fit in. But when I watch “Undercover” I realize life is really just about your little world, and that most people, no matter how rich, are not instantly recognizable and don’t live a life of perks 24/7. We’re all the same under the skin. But what profession do we pursue? You don’t need an education to be a criminal, but to succeed you’ve got to be really damn smart. Ferry is sharp, but he’s not the Professor in “Money Heist,” he’s got a violent streak and he runs on feel, on instinct, which can be right, but can also be wrong. Ferry is taking it day by day, just like you and me. As for Bob and Kim? Their lives are their jobs, but they think their jobs have meaning. Do they? I’ll let you decide.

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