Mar 30, 2018

[TV] Mozart in the Jungle: Season 4

Mozart in the Jungle is definitely one of the stand out shows from Amazon Studios and one that is very dear to me. It's hard to capture in words what exactly about the show clicked but it totally did and Tobie and I were hooked on the series early in the first season.

Fast forward to now and we blitzed through the fourth season shortly after it was made available on the Amazon platform. Looking back the show feels totally different from how it started and all the different characters are in very different places versus before. But interestingly enough most of the cast remains unchanged in some odd ensemble.

But I suppose that would make sense given the show is about orchestras and conductors and the crazy world of professional music. And there is a beautiful beat to things and how all the pieces come together and how the different plots intertwine.

This is some of the best television not on actual television.

Synopsis: Mozart in the Jungle is a comedy drama series developed for Amazon Studios by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers. The story was loosely based on Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music written by Blair Tindall.

The season begins with Hailey (Lola Kirka) in a relationship with Rodrigo De Souza (Gael Garcia Bernal). The two remain rather happy and are now trying to explore possible creative pursuits in their respective areas. This eventually leads to Hailey wanting to explore conducting and Rodrigo explores...ballet without an audience? On a similar note there's also Thomas (Malcolm McDowell), who is invited to conduct a smaller orchestra, which in turn becomes a posible avenue for him to explore new creative possibilities.

On the flip side Gloria (Bernadette Peters) is still struggling to keep the main orchestra afloat as patron support hasn't quite recovered from the strike period last season. And things come to a head when the building literally starts to come down. And cellist Cynthia (Saffron Burrows) is still learning how to cope with her injured wrist.

What I Liked: There is something about the quirkiness of this show that continues to appeal to me on so many levels. What other show can feature a dance troupe dedicated to choregraphing a routine that doesn't factor in eventually showing the performance to an audience and yet also feature a Japanese tea ceremony that turns into a metaphorical representation of the state of their relationship? Plus a robot that can conduct an orchestra?

And some of the recurring motifs are really coming into focus. Rodrigo has always been depicted as consulting with Mozart and other great composers from before in his head. But now they're showing that his behavior does look a little odd in public and that brings things into question. But when Hailey as a conductor also starts to have visions of people who aren't there as part of her music - GENIUS. It turned everything on its head and gave things even more magic.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, some of the crazy is still pretty crazy. I love Malcolm McDowell and his portrayal of Thomas but I'm not sure if he still needs to be in the story at this point. Him going all crazy creative with his new orchestra was a fun twist on roles that had Rodrigo seeming to be like the more conservative one at this point but it still felt a little narratively superfluous.

And I still want more for Bernadette Peters than trying to keep the orchestra alive. It has been a bit of a running gag for the past few seasons and after the strike story arc in the last season, you'd think that things would be okay by this point. I love her brand of crazy and I kind of want more of her first season brand of crazy with her backing out of rooms as opposed to her scrambling for cash from any possible donor at every waking moment.

TL;DR: Mozart in the Jungle remains to be one of my favorite shows and it's a shame that more people don't seem to love it as much as we do. But I agree with some of the reviews that I've read that I would never want it to change and step away from his high brow level of craziness as the show is quite comfortable in its skin by now. And thus the fourth season gets a full 5 unexpected conversations with dead composers out of a possible 5.

PS:
The tea ceremony scene is one of the BEST moments in television. Ever.


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