Usually when the Boy and I find a new show to watch on streaming, especially if there is a whole season or two available, we take our time. Especially if it’s a juicy, dramatic piece with lots to think about. I will push for the next episode, and the Boy will go, “No – we need to let that sink in.” Think House of Cards as the perfect example of that. Slow and steady. And yet, over the past week or so, we have veritably mainlined (well, for us who have limited time in the evenings to watch things together) a new show. It’s one that has been on my list for about a year now, and it was “The Night Manager”.
The Night Manager is the story of Jonathan Pine, a hotel night manager who gets caught up in the world of a arms dealer Richard Roper, and works with a British enforcement agency to take it down from the inside. It’s based on a novel by John le Carré, the master of suspenseful spy novels. He did Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Constant Gardener, and so many more. Hollywood loves to turn his stories into movies because they are tightly written, exciting, interesting, and feel very real – particularly to those who aren’t involved in the spy trade. More real than say, your average James Bond flick which doesn’t feel based in reality. In any case – the show is 6 hour-long episodes, stars Hugh Laurie (from House! as the bad guy!), Olivia Colman (you’ve totally seen her before!), and my crush and yours – Tom Hiddleston.
Let’s just say that if you have no interest in spy stories, but are very invested in imparting your female gaze upon the lithe body of one Mr. Hiddleston, you will not be disappointed in this show. Yes, he does a fine job of making Pine a character we are interested and invested in – but who we wonder constantly if he will switch sides as well – but the man can wear a suit like few others. There are also a few gratuitous shots of his butt and naked torso at other times that seem to have been specifically included for women (or men!) to enjoy as a counterpoint to the various naked breasts that seem to grace the screen about once per episode. Note: maybe don’t watch this with kids under the age of 15?
But while the Hiddles was enjoyable to look at, probably the most exciting character to watch in the whole show (at least in my opinion) was that of Angela Burr, as played by Olivia Colman. She is the chief of this nebulous “British Enforcement Agency”, and is the one who recruits Pine to work against Roper, all while dealing with budget cuts, working with a man who seems to be her ex-lover, and being massively pregnant. That’s right – she’s 8 months pregnant for like 2/3 of the show, and it turns out that Colman was actually very very pregnant while filming. I believe the story I saw said Colman petitioned for the role and said that Burr could be like Marge Gunderson from the original Fargo movie – how she was portrayed as no less capable as a policewoman despite being heavily pregnant there. In any case, Angela’s experiences seem the most relatable of most of the main characters, and she has these big eyes that make you feel instant empathy with her.
The other reason you’ll want to watch is because the locations are fabulous. Over the course of six episodes we are taken on a whirlwind tour of lovely places. Egypt starts as a site of protest, but we are still shown its beauty – especially above and outside the city. We spend time in Zermatt, Switzerland; in Devon, England; and quite a lot of time in Majorca and Madrid. Both of these settings are lush and lust-worthy. It makes you want to be a very rich person and be able to have a home in a fort on the bay in Majorca.
Also – the title sequence is pretty amazing.
The best part of this mini-series is that it is the perfect length – long enough to draw out the story in a way that makes sense, but never resorting to useless cliffhangers. The script is tight, and you feel satisfied and excited at the end of each episode. And this was precisely the reason why the Boy and I found ourselves watching it each night instead of our usual fare. We had been expertly drawn in to a well-made world that was better than anything else we could have chosen. I did record the series to my DVR when it first aired on AMC last year, but now have a hard time imagining the patience that would have been required to wait from week to week. This is a series worth binging.