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All cards on the table: "Poker Face" returns television to safer and more predictable days - voila! culture


The new mystery drama of the Peacock network warmly embraces the formulaic approach, which has characterized television for many decades. The problem is that its course is built on quite a few compromises in credibility

Trailer for the series "Poker Face", starring Natasha Leon (Peacock)

Human memory is usually not a very fine thing.

It is also related to the fact that we get used to and adapt ourselves very quickly to new times and trends.

And since everything is changing and moving so fast all the time, it's easy to forget that the whole television quality revolution we're used to lasts a relatively short time.

Until the beginning of the current millennium with the first (and some would say the only) golden age of the 2000s, the staple of American television, our main menu, was procedural series: an hour-long story that takes place on its own within the world of the series, with conflict and resolution all occurring by the time the credits roll.

Although there were pioneers like "Blues for the Blue Uniforms" and series like "ER" with larger story arcs that tied the stories together, as well as characters that developed and entered the hearts of viewers throughout the seasons;

But most of the time, in most series, you could miss an episode here and an episode there and it didn't matter.

The works that refer to the story in a seasonal or even perennial structure, those that build themselves layer upon layer, chapter by chapter and season by season, the ones that seem so obvious to us - are the result of a two-and-a-half-decade transformation.

At a time when it seems as if the entire television industry is in a kind of rethinking about the way forward, it's no wonder that a series like "Poker Face" (which airs bis every week, next to the original broadcast on the Peacock streaming service) receives so much warmth and love.

It has the nostalgia and natural warmth of simpler days, without complex characters and cultural allegories and hidden details that require podcasts and blogs to cover.

Moreover, like other retro phenomena, it seems that its encounter with a new generation of viewers who did not know or were familiar with the original formula, produces an answer to the need of many to enjoy television that does not charge an emotional or analytical price in exchange for its entertainment.

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Photographed and looking great.

"Poker Face" (Photo: Karolina Wojtasik/Peacock)

At the center of "Poker Face" is Charlie Kyle (Natasha Leone, "Russian Doll", "Orange is the New Black"), a casino worker who has an extraordinary ability to detect lies.

As you can easily guess, this death is both a blessing and a curse, which leads Kyle to the places where people usually lie: crimes.

The first episode that takes place in the casino is the introduction to the chain of events that leads Kyle to hit the road and never look back.

From here on, every episode she arrives in a different town, like the heroes of classic westerns.

A foreigner who comes to solve the crisis that the locals created.

Rian Johnson ("Star Wars: The Last Jedi", "Murder Well Written"), the creator and director of its first two episodes, is the driving force behind the series, and it does carry quite a bit of his style with it.

First and foremost is of course the visual part and Johnson's ability to infuse spectacular cinematic depth into each and every scene.

While the entire series is shot and looks great, it's hard to ignore the gap of the first two episodes, with Johnson's mastery of camera angles and movement to tell a story without words.

Another characteristic of Johnson throughout his career (including in "Looper" and "Brothers Bloom") is the ability to tell a story so that a central part of the plot is hidden from the viewers until the third act.

The road to discovery passes through witty dialogues that produce the brain battles between the characters on the way to the great breakthrough.

This is also the formula that characterizes every episode of "Poker Face".

It begins with an introduction of the murderers and the murdered on duty and the chain of events, while Kyle is not in the picture.

Only later in the episode do we find out that Kyle was in the area the whole time, and is now trying to piece together the details that will lead her to solving the murder.

A great deal of this approach is of course built on Leon, who delivers the goods as always.

All her characters have a winning combination of authenticity, playfulness and a slight touch of cynicism.

And so Charlie is at the same time the clueless one who gets caught up in the incident, and at the same time also the one who knows more than anyone who is faking and who is telling the truth.

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Delivers the goods as always.

Natasha Leon, "Poker Face" (Photo: Karolina Wojtasik/Peacock)

But here also lies the main problem of "Poker Face".

Her gimmick, Kyle's ability to spot liars, could have been much more interesting if she had actually rolled without intending the hidden truth, relying on the fact that people don't suspect her when they lie, as she is not an investigator and does not come from a detective background.

The problem is, that's not really what's happening.

Each episode, Kyle not only forces herself into the investigation of the case, but also discovers inference, reconstruction and evidence-finding abilities that would have put Sherlock Holmes himself to shame - including tasting wood chips and identifying patterns of heart attacks.

If in "A well-written murder" the character of the veteran detective justifies these impressive abilities, in the case of Kyle it quickly becomes "oh really".

And so there is hardly an episode where Kyle's path to the solution doesn't start to look like a parody of Scooby Doo.

On the other hand, and this is really quite an amazing thing, the criminals in the series manage to be both overly sophisticated and incredibly stupid at the same time.

On the one hand, their crimes are planned in an almost chilling method until the last bit of evidence is destroyed, and on the other hand, their behavior in sarcasm and their reactions are so transparent that it seemed that even if there was no woman with unusual abilities in their environment, they would have found a way to declare the crime they committed on their own.

Precisely against the background of Johnson's ability to breathe life into Agatha Christie's complex riddles full of twists and turns, it is a bit disappointing to discover how many holes and assumptions his main character receives here, just so that she can solve another case and move on to the next one.

But in the end, this is also the secret of the magic.

The complete lack of pretension of "Poker Face" and the comfort it gives to its viewers regarding the happy ending and the victory of the good, are its promise to those who are tired and fed up with the complexities.

It's fun, wonderfully acted and wonderfully photographed, contains an impressive array of surprising guest appearances, and relies on the infectious charisma of its star to pass an hour pleasantly.

It's nice, warm and non-binding.

The last word here is key: since each episode of "Poker Face" is similar to the next with an event, an investigation and a resolution, the entire series can be exhausted in episode 5 or in season 2. Either way, there is no reason to hang on just so we can find out how it all ends .

  • culture

  • TV

  • TV review


  • Poker face

  • Natasha Leon

  • TV review

  • Rian Johnson

Source: walla

All tech articles on 2023-01-27

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