8.5/10 Only the second Apple+ TV show I have watched, following the debut season of “Foundation”, “Servant” hails from Tony Basgallop with some help from M. Night Shyamalan. Before Shyamalan’s “Old” came out in 2021, I reviewed “Wayward Pines” since he directed some episodes of that show. Now as “Knock at the Cabin” is set to open in a couple of weeks, I figured I would review the only other Shyamalan directed TV content that I had yet to discover. To my pleasant surprise, this opening season of “Servant” turned out to be one of the best, most intriguing, WTF reaction inducing seasons of a show I have watched in some time. While there are certainly shows with WTF moments, “Servant” might be the only one I have ever seen where every single episode had me questioning just what was going on. My brain never stopped trying to make sense of what I was witnessing unfold and I couldn’t stop watching. This ten episode season’s episodes were all mostly right above the half an hour mark, which was surprisingly short. I assumed episodes would range from 45 minutes to an hour and worried that the shorter run times might not leave enough room for character development, backstory, etc. Despite my incorrect assumptions, the point of “Servant” is that we don’t get too much backstory. We don’t get to know several of the characters, which is what adds to their mysterious nature. The season revolves around a couple named Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell) who lose their baby Jericho and when I say “lose”, I don’t mean misplace. The death of baby Jericho sends Dorothy into a broken mental state and so their recently deceased infant is replaced by a realistic looking doll to help Dorothy cope. She believes the doll is really her living son and hires 18 year old Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free…her parents must be hippies to give her that name) to be Jericho’s nanny. That is all I will reveal about the plot because everything that happens afterwards get crazier and crazier by the episode and the less you know going in, the better. I love that each episode’s title is just a singular word and that this season is a slow burn while simultaneously throwing a lot at you in a limited amount of time. As every episode passes we learn a little more about Leanne’s past, what really caused the death of Jericho, who is in on the replacement doll and who thinks the real Jericho is alive and well, etc. You will want to keep watching just so you can figure out what is real, how any of what’s going on is possible and how it all ties together. The pacing is phenomenal and the season is well directed. We even get a couple of Shyamalan staples like the setting of Philadelphia, supernatural elements, a dark, brooding tone and with enough rain/rain jackets to give me “Unbreakable” flashbacks. The score from Trevor Gureckis eerily sets the creepy mood and leaves you further unsettled the more you watch. It is one of the best TV scores I’ve listened to in a long time. The cast is solid and despite Dorothy and Sean often being extremely unlikeable characters, Ambrose and Kebbell give such great performances that we want to spend more time with them anyways. Speaking of the cast, it was great to see Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley from “Harry Potter”) play against type and go for something completely different, following in the footsteps of some of his “Harry Potter” co-stars. As for complaints, I do worry that many of the unanswered questions won’t be explained in future seasons, which would be problematic. There are also some frustrating moments early in the season regarding Sean’s interactions with Leanne. Leanne’s relationship with Dorothy has a history but Leanne’s fascination/connection seems pretty unrealistic, but maybe we will learn more in future seasons that provide additional answers. Minor complaints aside, this is one of the most interesting shows I’ve had the pleasure of viewing in ages. The roughly five and a half hour run time of the entire first season means that anyone could binge watch this relatively quickly. If you want to get into the Shyamalan spirit before his latest film drops like I do, or just want to see something completely original and well made, I strongly recommend “Servant”. The fourth and final season is currently releasing episodes and I for one can’t wait to begin season two and pray that it holds up to the incredibly strong freshman season.

#TimeTurner / #LiesAndDolls / #ChefBoyRThee / #UncannyNanny / #AfterBirth / #Unshakeable

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