Sunday TV Watching

It's been raining and cold in Denver for days. Perfect activity for being indoors on a holiday weekend: Watching the final 24 episodes of Season 1 of El Cartel, aka Cartel De Los Sapos (Cartel of the Snitches.) Unimas has been re-airing episodes every weeknight since April, but is only up to episode 23. Since I hate to wait, I ordered the second half of season 1 for $5.00 on Ebay (free postage, brand new and shrink-wrapped). The six disk set with 24 episodes and English subtitles arrived yesterday. I've already watched 12 episodes. There are no commercials, no ads at the bottom of the screen and no annoying previews.

I knew El Cartel was the story of the end of the Cali cartel and the rise and take-down of the Norte Valle Cartel in Colombia, but I hadn't realized until watching the show how the NV takedown was done. Here is the true and fascinating story taken from U.S. court records of how agents from DEA Group 43 conducted a rogue operation, and along with their famous informant, photographer Baruch Vega, convinced dozens of cartel bigwigs that if they paid millions of dollars each, promised to stop trafficking and divulge their trafficking routes, they could come to the U.S., get bail, return home, keep all their money, and serve no jail time. Dozens fell for it. [More...]

What messed it all up was that DEA Group 9 had implemented Operation Milennium, targeting some of the same cartel leaders Group 43 was protecting. The principal DEA agents, David Tinsley and Larry Castillo, got suspended (and later reinstated.) Baruch Vega was charged with some crimes for the millions he took in, but all charges except a misdemeanor tax count were later dropped. He was sentenced to four months in prison.

When the Group 43/Vega deals fell through, an all out war started began the cartels, with snitch accusations floating all around. DEA Group 9 prevailed and turned many of the cartel members into snitches. The deals weren't as sweet those offered by Group 43, but better than the 30 year sentences handed out to those who didn't snitch. Although, for others, like the lead defendant in Operation Millenium, the cooperation proved fatal. More on his cooperation here.

The series is taken from the book Cartel de los Sapos, written by Andres Lopez-Lopez, a member of the cartel since he was 14 and the chief snitch from whose perspective the story is told.

In real life, Lopez was rewarded for his cooperation with a sentence reduction to 20 months. He wrote Cartel de los Sapos while in prison. He is now a millionaire and best selling author -- he went on to write Senor de los Cielos, among others. He lives in Miami, is not in witness protection, and apparently has no fear of retaliation.

Streaming via Xfinity, Hulu, Netflix all have one drawback: Incessant commercials. On Xfinity, I streamed one episode of a show and there were four 15 second commercials before it began. If I pressed "fast forward" or "rewind", I had to watch the commercials again. I'm much rather pay $5 to $20 and order the series on DVD. Not only are you spared the commercials, but there are accurate subtitles, in both English and Spanish. (Just make sure if you buy the dvds, it says there are English subtitles. There are versions from Colombia with only Spanish audio and no subtitles or captions.)

Is anyone else "binge watching" TV this weekend?

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    Anyone wathcing 'Grace and Frankie' (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ruffian on Wed May 27, 2015 at 04:47:00 PM EST
    on Netflix? It is the one with Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston, and Martin Sheen'. Premise is that Sheen and Waterston are long time law partners that come out as a gay couple, to the surprise of their wives, Fonda and Tomlin respectively. It is one of those shows that could be horrible with a lesser cast and normal sitcom writing, but this group really pulls it off. Hard to describe it further, but all the characters are very well drawn. Waterston and Tomlin are particularly delightful, and their characters have a different trajectory since they genuinely had a happy marriage and are still best friends despite Tomlin's heartbreak. Good to see Waterston in a lighter role, and Tomlin in something with a little meat to it. All of the chemistry really works.

    I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

    Holey Moley (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by sj on Thu May 28, 2015 at 11:51:53 AM EST
    How did I not hear about this? I haven't been watching, but I will now.

    There is some really funny stuff (none / 0) (#19)
    by ruffian on Thu May 28, 2015 at 12:14:08 PM EST
    in the later episodes about being an older woman trying to get back into the dating scene. funny because it's true!

    Yes, I just (none / 0) (#15)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 27, 2015 at 06:44:55 PM EST
    finished watching the whole series. It starts of kind of slow but gets better as it goes on.

    I Was Getting Ready to Check It Out... (none / 0) (#17)
    by ScottW714 on Thu May 28, 2015 at 11:25:38 AM EST
    ...the the new Jimi Hendrix movie caught my eye, 'Jimi: All Is by My Side).

    I am a huge Outcast fan so I could not pass up André 3000.  Wish I had.

    I have seen several JH movies, and this is some alternative version.  From the day Keith Richards gf, Linda Keith saw him up until right before he plays Monterrey.  Basically when he lived in NYC and London.

    I give it a 2, but critics seem to like better then me.


    Haven't watched yet (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun May 24, 2015 at 07:59:50 PM EST
    but I'm recording the Battlestar Gallactica marathon on BBC.

    Never saw it but always meant to.

    I assume you're talking about the more recent (none / 0) (#4)
    by McBain on Mon May 25, 2015 at 01:43:15 AM EST
    version with Edward James Olmos?  I thought it was excellent.  They did something different than most sci shows/movies.  I'll wait until you see a few episodes before explaining.

    Great series (none / 0) (#16)
    by Yman on Wed May 27, 2015 at 08:52:54 PM EST
    If you like Sci-Fi, it's a great series.

    Xfinity (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun May 24, 2015 at 08:55:59 PM EST
    is horrible about the ads. I think streaming on Xfinity actually takes longer beause it has MORE ads than if you watch the show when it comes on.

    The last episode of Mad Men I streamed and it was over an hour long. I doubt if I had been able to stay up and watch it it would not have been that long.

    If you go through On Demand though sometimes you can fast forward through the commercials.

    Game of Thrones (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun May 24, 2015 at 09:31:02 PM EST

    there is a great scene that ends with Cerci walking down a hall smirking after visiting her daughter in law in her cell and every person watching was thinking "oh god, just let me live long enough to see that smirk wiped off her face"

    AND THEN!!!!!!!!!!!

    PreviouslyTV (none / 0) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 25, 2015 at 01:24:20 PM EST
    Oooh! It's like a medieval version of Orange Is The New Black!

    I don't know what that is.

    Me either! But I would totally binge-watch it on Netflix!

    Also don't understand that.

    It's how people do it now.

    Do what?

    Nothing. Don't worry about it.

    Yes, that was so good. (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Tue May 26, 2015 at 03:32:49 PM EST
    Hope she enjoys that day old venison....
    Loved the raven talk you linked to below also.

    Brienne better come to Sansa's rescue soon. Ramsey needs his comeuppance too.


    The Ravens always make me laugh (none / 0) (#12)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 26, 2015 at 04:03:24 PM EST
    and yes Ramsey definitely has "the smirk of impending comeuppance"

    Carrying on to this week (none / 0) (#20)
    by ruffian on Sun May 31, 2015 at 09:03:49 PM EST

    On the record for not being a super fan of this part of the story, but....WOW!


    Tyrion (none / 0) (#21)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun May 31, 2015 at 09:11:27 PM EST
    is finally on the right side

    Yes, that is going to really pump some life (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Mon Jun 01, 2015 at 06:49:41 AM EST
    into things. I could have watched a whole hour of cocktail hour with Dany and Tyrion. But that fight at the end was truly spectacular. I was genuinely afraid for a few folks I like.

    I wound up helping my neighbor (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Mon May 25, 2015 at 06:26:55 AM EST
    replace the front porch and steps.

    lotta' fishing down here... (none / 0) (#6)
    by fishcamp on Mon May 25, 2015 at 07:04:06 AM EST
    please put these in an open thread (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Mon May 25, 2015 at 09:02:59 PM EST
    this one is about TV.

    Monday nite TV (none / 0) (#9)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 26, 2015 at 02:54:28 PM EST
    the AMC series TURN about spys in the revolutionary war has been great lately.

    Penny Dreadful had some fun moments (none / 0) (#11)
    by ruffian on Tue May 26, 2015 at 03:36:07 PM EST
    amid all the dreadful this week. Undergarments!

    Last week was good too...I thought that looked like Patti Lupone as the witch, but was not sure until the credits rolled. Fantastic casting there.

    She was also recently on (none / 0) (#13)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 26, 2015 at 04:04:22 PM EST
    American Horror Story as the crazy neighbor in the witch season.