Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Makes Total Sense? No. Enjoyable? Yes.

I'm wondering why exactly I enjoy the series Goliath as much as I do.  I just finished watching season 3 on Amazon, and while I would never recommend it as a show to watch for its verisimilitude, it's a show that over the course of 3 years has only become odder and more fun with each new season.  It started out as a somewhat skewed but still fairly plausible legal thriller style show, yet another from David E. Kelley, but by now, Goliath has morphed into something more idiosyncratic.

Billy Bob Thornton as Billy McBride holds it all together, of course, and this year he features in a nutty quilt of a plot that makes a few overt references to the world of David Lynch. Sherilyn Fenn's death kicks off the season, and a casino Billy spends much time in has a lounge singer who croons a tune or two heard in Blue Velvet.  Usually, Lynch references in films and shows make me roll my eyes, but Goliath does it in a clearly playful spirit that brought a little smile to my face.  And in fact, with its group of rich men who gather at times in the casino's secret room to smoke something potent, with its evocation of some odd mental states, with its somewhat jumbled (but for a reason) chronology that creates its own disorientation in the viewer, the season has a slightly hallucinatory character.  Then there's the whole thrust of the central plot, which revolves around water rights.  This is California, and when you think water rights and a crime story, you can't help but think of Chinatown.  But California has water issues now as much as it ever did, so that's a subject that never goes out of style.  

Where Goliath is most fun, though, is with its characters, a gallery of eccentrics, some quite driven in their particular obsessions, some more laissez faire about life.  Each season has had a sexual undertow that's been intriguing, with the season's heavies having decidedly odd sexual preferences.  William Hurt's character had his in season 1, Mark Duplass quite memorably had his in season 2, and in season 3, we get a brother-sister duo, Dennis Quaid and Amy Brenneman, who have enough issues between them, and a love-hate relationship, that should have had them in therapy for years.  Both actors play their roles to the hilt. The show also gives us entertaining turns from Graham Greene -- full of subtle menace here -- Griffin Dunne, Beau Bridges, Paul Williams, and the too rarely seen these days Ileana Douglas, who's funny as a bar fly.   Besides Thornton, the other cast regulars return as well, with Nina Arianda as harried and amusing as ever.

How to say it? Goliath isn't a show I'd recommend to anyone to watch if they want a crime show that's heavy on social realism or airtight storytelling.  But over three years, it's carved out a niche of its own with a distinct flavor, and I find I enjoy going with its flow.  It lets itself be oddball without going overboard about it, and the actors clearly relish the characters they get to play. 

I also have to say I'm glad next season will be its last.  Ostensibly that will bring closure to the series and four seasons of Goliath sounds just about right.  No need to kill the buzz by overdoing it. 


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