Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Review: “Mrs. Maisel” Series Ends with A Bang, a Sensational Emmy Worthy Final Season Full of Precise Acting, Writing, and Directing


I’m going to start backwards here.

The final episode of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” doesn’t come until the end of May. We’re not allowed to say much about it yet. Only you should know that the Emmy winning show comes to a glorious ending, the kind you hope for in every beloved TV series. The voices of both Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand are heard and the final thank you is to Kitty Bruce, daughter of Lenny. Amen.

On the 14th of April, first three episodes of the last season pick up where we left off: Midge, returning from walking around in a blizzard, comes home and has to make decisions about her career. She’s burned a lot of bridges. Nearly always self-destructive in her quest to become a famous female comic, she has to figure out a way to make it work.

This much I can tell you: each episode of this season begins with a flash forward. We learn what happens to all the characters in the future, a neat little device that tells its own story over nine installments. I won’t tell you their fates, but it;’s enough to say almost everyone gets what they want, which is nice. It’s not all perfect, and it’s kind of realistic in a Maisel-type way.

Throughout this season, as in the past, the writing and direction are superb. All the group scenes, musical numbers, and so on are like mini productions within “Mrs. Maisel.” They are choreographed with wit and intelligence, and designed to the nth degree. Every single below the line artisan deserves an award. Daniel Palladino’s direction if it were on Broadway would get a Tony Award. The precision of these executions is mind blowing.

The acting, though, and the writing that informs it what gives the show charm and heft. Rachel Brosnahan is like a combination of Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas from the 60s. She sails through her scenes, making the light and dark seem easy. Alex Borstein’s Susie is a wise cracking fluid Rhoda and Ethel Mertz. Tony Shalhoub — especially in an episode where he has a Woody Allen like sit down dinner with four colleagues — is wise and wonderful.

The rest of the cast deserves every ensemble award. The Maisels– Caroline Aaron and Kevin Pollack, Rose Weissman, played by Marin Hinkle, all the supporting people are so sharply drawn, each pulling out new unexpected textures. The Palladinos manage to give everyone something to do — Susie’s sister appears in a live industrial musical, the Maisel maid gets married in the Weissman living room.

Some info: Stephanie Hsu, who made and got nominated for an Oscar in “Everything Everywhere” between “Maisel” seasons, has a farewell scene and leaves Joel high and dry. It’s a little awkward to move on. Joel. who’s always a bit of a rat, acquits himself by making a life changing sacrifice for Midge. Other guest stars wander in and out, like Hank Azaria and Sutton Foster. The very good Reid Scott, from “Veep,” becomes Midge’s foil as Gordon Ford, a New York talk show host a la Jack Paar. Jane Lynch makes a cameo as Sophie Lennon. There are nods to pretty much everyone we’ve seen in the series. The whole enterprise is more than just satisfying.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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