Sunday, April 17, 2022

Tom Seaver and Jackie Robinson – NY Mets Honor Two of Baseball's Greatest Players!

 



Tom Seaver and Jackie Robinson – NY Mets Honor Two of Baseball's Greatest Players on Friday at Citi Field in Flushing, NY. It was as if the baseball gods deemed it to be a perfect day. The sky was high blue with hardly a cloud to be seen, and the unveiling of Seaver's new statue honoring him happened to fall not only on opening day but also Jackie Robinson Day as well. Thank you, gods of baseball.

To say I am lucky enough to have seen Tom Seaver pitch in person is to say that I have been blessed. Not just one of the Mets' greatest pitchers, Seaver was one of baseball's greatest of all time. There was something that fans and Mets players felt each time he was going to start there was a very good chance for the team to win today. 

SEAVER'S LEGACY

Think about how Tom Seaver came to the Mets as a rookie in 1967. He immediately became the best player on the team. Fans wanted to see him pitch, and Seaver's greatness wore off on the other players. The Mets were deemed lovable losers  just as the Brooklyn Dodgers before them were affectionately know as "Dem Bumbs," but Tom wouldn't accept that. He wanted to be the best player he could be, and he wanted every other player on the team to think of themselves as winners.

In his rookie year Tom went to the All Star Game, was in the running for Most Valuable Player, and was crowned Rookie of the Year. While his 16-13 record and 2.76 ERA may not seem so impressive at first, we have to realize that he was pitching for the Mets when they had yet to make the big turn to winning baseball. The team finished in 10th place with a record of 61-101. We have to realize that Seaver's season was even more remarkable considering the team batting average was .238, and they hit a paltry 83 home runs. It's a testament to Seaver's sheer willpower that he overcame these issues and won games anyway.  

As a kid, I finally saw a player on my team that was a MLB caliber player. My friends and all the other kids out there who were Mets fans had found their Met knight in shining armor. Tom also had an amazing sense of humor, keen intelligence, and a sharp wit. He was quite capable of dealing with the New York press in a way that endeared him so much to the writers covering the team that they would end up dubbing him The Franchise. 

In only his third season in baseball (1969), manager Gil Hodges and Tom led the team to win the World Series. Mets fans who had their hearts broken so many times over the years were rewarded for their loyalty, and Tom Seaver won the Cy Young Award as well. Mets fans would never forget that it was he who led us all out of the baseball darkness into the shining light of victory.

SEAVER'S STATUE

Tom Seaver statue captures his essence

While Tom Seaver has been honored before by the Mets organization, the statue was long overdue for a player who was so well loved and admired. Sculptor William Behrends loving rendered the familiar dropped right knee and arched left leg, the armed reared back, and face full of determination in this creation that weighs over 3,000 pounds and is more than twice as big as the life-sized pitching great. 

During the ceremony prior to unveiling of the statue, another Mets great named Mike Piazza talked about being an eight year old Philly fan and how his father wanted him to skip school to take him to the game the following day because "Tom Terrific" was pitching. Piazza gushed about getting to know Tom later in life, and it was a touching moment.

Nancy Seaver and family at the ceremony

Tom's wife Nancy and her daughters were there and spoke. Although it was a beautiful day, it was quite windy, and the conditions challenged Nancy a bit as she tried to read her prepared remarks. She did get to express how much the fans meant to Tom and their family, and she knew Tom loved the fans as much as they loved him.

Now the statue, which stands next to the old Mets Home Run Apple outside Citi Field, will forever greet fans as they come across the parking lot and head into the beautiful ball park that is home to the Mets. Tom Seaver, the greatest Met of them all, is now forever its stunning sentinel to baseball greatness and glory.

JACKIE ROBINSON HONORED

Jackie was beloved by Brooklyn fans

Jackie once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." These amazing words are inscribed in the magnificent Jackie Robinson Rotunda that is the first thing fans see when they come to a game at Citi Field. The rotunda honors Jackie's life and legacy, and those words sum up what Jackie did for not just baseball but all sports and American society. 

To say that Jackie had an "impact" is an understatement; Jackie was a juggernaut that shattered the oppressive white ceiling that kept Black (and other players of color) out of Major League Baseball. Being first at anything is never easy, but it took a man of Jackie's caliber and a player with his innate abilities to be the one to successfully chart the course for other players. 

BROOKLYN DODGERS FANS

My family on my mother's side were huge Brooklyn Dodgers fans, and it was very fitting that Jackie came to the majors in New York City. Mom was a young girl when Jackie was to play his first MLB game on April 15, 1947, and most of the time they couldn't get the money together to buy tickets, but she and her sisters and cousins and friends could sometimes watch games through holes in the outfield fence. They and other kids called themselves the Knothole Gang, and there was also a TV show named after those kids who in Brooklyn and all over the country tried see games through holes in wooden fences to watch their heroes play. 

Mom said that at first some fans were angry that the team brought up Jackie, but many fans were quickly won over by his personality and talent on the field. Jackie also was a fierce competitor, and Dodgers fans really respected that about him.  Jackie also shared another thing with the fans: he hated the New York Giants and the New York Yankees as much as they did.  

JACKIE'S IMPACT

Jackie Robinson shattered the white ceiling. He became the first Black player, and this ended the racial segregation of baseball. His style of play, his intelligence, and being a fierce competitor endeared him to the fans and led to players from the "Negro Leagues" not having to be confined to playing in them. 

Having to be the first makes Jackie a hero to all players of color in all team sports  in America. Jackie withstood racism, questions about his abilities, and underlying societal structures to overcome and thrive on and off the field. He became the first African-American inducted into MLB Hall of Fame, and stands today as a role model for all people as a person of integrity, courage, and honor who made a difference that lasts until today.

MLB HONORS JACKIE ROBINSON

Mets honor Jackie by wearing his number

On April 15, 2022, MLB honored the 75th anniversary of Jackie's first appearance for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Players all around the league wore Jackie's number 42, and there was an outpouring of love and gratitude for a man who made a difference at a time when it was needed most. 

When Jackie's wife Rachel first saw the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field, she was shaken by its magnificence and beauty. During the dedication, Rachel said, "I'm speechless." She was mostly taken back because she said, "Jack was a humble man." She felt he would think that he didn't deserve such an honor, but she knew that he did.

Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field

The Mets and MLB honor Jackie's memory every year on April 15th, and the Mets honor him during every home game by having the Jackie Robinson Rotunda be the first thing fans see. This is fitting for a man that was not only an amazing player, but who was responsible for changing baseball and American society forever.

TOM AND JACKIE

Two baseball legends were honored on April 15, 2022, and Tom Seaver and Jackie Robinson more than deserved it. They were both agents of change for the better. Tom changed the Mets organization with his refreshing and winning attitude; the team would never be the same. Jackie changed MLB forever, and his impact also broke in waves across America and changed it forever as well. 

Now, Tom's statue rests outside majestic Citi Field, in front of the entrance to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Two legends, emblazoned on the hearts of Mets fans, inextricably linked forevermore. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

LEGO – From the Simple Brick to the Glorious Splendors of a Galaxy Far, Far Away!





'Star Wars' Iconic Cantina on Mos Eisley

LEGO – From the Simple Brick to the Glorious Splendors of a Galaxy Far, Far Away: the amazing little plastic bricks with connecting studs on top are building blocks with enormous power that craft buildings, vehicles, towers, world famous landmarks, and iconic places and vehicles from TV and film. As every journey begins with one step, every LEGO set begins with one brick. With dedication and great imagination, that little plastic wonder can lead to the house next door or outer space adventures.

What is LEGO?

So, for those of you without kids or who have been living at a remote Antarctic research station, LEGO bricks are interlocking plastic pieces that can be used to create everything from family houses to skyscrapers, little boats to battleships, and toy sets from a variety of imagined TV and movie worlds like Star Wars, Harry Potter, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse. and so much more. It is the versatility of that little brick that makes all of this possible.

LEGO comes from the abbreviation of two Danish words "leg godt" and means "play well." On their website we are told: "It is our name, and it is our ideal." I have to admire that sort of commitment to children to create a quality product with which they can play well. Founded in Denmark in 1932 by visionary Ole Kirk Kristiansen, Lego A/S remains a privately held company that is run by his grandson today. This family is responsible for creating one of the most beloved toys of all time.  

Why Does LEGO Matter? 

Darth Vader and Luke Battle/Cloud City

Over the years my son and I have built so many sets – big and small – and these have been times that afford an ability to bond with one another meaningfully. We are not just building a toy that he is going to play with – we are spending quality time together. As he has gotten older, our conversations have changed from talking about the toys we were actually building to things that are important in his life like school, current events, and our family history. These are treasured moments that do end with a finished product but also bring us closer together. 

Before we got our first LEGO sets, we played with little kid toys. We certainly had fun, and I will never forget how many times we played Blues Clues – I still have the handy, dandy notebook by the way. These were important moments too, and I can still hear my son's baby laughter as he located one of the clues. We went from Sesame Street to Blue to Barney to Diego/Dora to SpongeBob, and then it became superhero time with Superman, Batman, and Spider Man. We had all those toys and had a lot of fun with them, but then he got his first LEGO sets, and nothing ever was the same. 

Why is LEGO a Big Deal?

SpongeBob's House and the Krusty Krab

As mentioned earlier, every LEGO set starts with one brick and then can become something amazing. Over the years we have built so many sets, but the key thing is the sheer simplicity of the building process. Sets are labeled for age levels, so as long as parents stick to the right LEGO sets for their children's age group, LEGOs are super user friendly.

The sets come with a direction book that uses images and no words. Especially when children are younger and unable to read, this is a genius method of having them follow the images and put together the bricks. When my son made a mistake, I would wait and see if he could figure it out himself. Nine times out of ten he would realize it when subsequent images didn't look right, and he would go back and correct the step. This a great way for kids to experience hands-on problem solving.

Showdown/Han Solo and Greedo

Is LEGO Good for Kids?

Building LEGO sets is extremely good and healthy for kids of all ages – it is even good you and me! Some of the benefits include hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and creative thinking. Building these toys get kids thinking way out of the box. And, as they get older, it increases their attention span and helps them focus on something other than a video screen. 

My son and I did not only build LEGO sets from the directions. We also created our own sets. He can now build fortresses, castles, tanks, and spaceships of his own. We have so many bricks and pieces that come with the sets, and when he tires of a few sets he will break them down and make something else. As a young teen, his creative thinking has expanded exponentially thanks to the worlds that LEGO has inspired him to create. 

Come On, Isn't LEGO Just for Kids?

When I have confided in adult friends that I love building LEGO sets with my son, I don't get many positive reactions. One person even asked, "Isn't that a waste of time. A lot of time?" He revealed that his own son could be in the basement for hours at a time building LEGO sets. He would even tell his son to take a break and do something else. This was a man who didn't get what LEGO is all about. LEGO is about concentration, time, and perseverance. It actually relaxes me to build the sets, but it also keeps me focused and thinking. 

Harry Potter's Favorite Place to Shop

You don't think LEGO building is for adults? There is a TV show called LEGO Masters on Fox, and it is all about adults building LEGO sets. It is sort of a Survivor for the toy world, pitting ten teams of two people against each other. One team gets eliminated each week until a showdown between the two remaining teams for the championship. All of the sets are created by the contestants with no set of instructions involved –  it's creativity on overload. My son and I aspire to appear on this show someday.

Our Favorite Sets

The Death Star and its laser

Some of our favorite sets have been the most difficult builds, but that makes them all the more rewarding. The Star Wars Death Star was a troublesome build. The hardest part was the super laser planet destroyer. It kept me up at night thinking about how it kept falling apart. This was a few years ago, and my son was getting upset that it would never be finished. One day we had spent hours building other parts of the set, and that night I lay in bed and couldn't sleep. When I fell asleep, I had a dream about how to hold the thing together. I got up at five the next morning and put the laser together successfully. My son was so happy when he woke up and saw that the build was complete.

Besides the Death Star, Harry Potter's Diagon Alley, Star Wars Cloud City, the SpongeBob SquarePants set featuring the the Krusty Krab, and Mickey's Steamboat Willie are probably our favorite sets. Once they were built and displayed in my son's playroom in the attic, he can immerse himself in any one of these worlds. He can flip Krabby patties with SpongeBob under the sea, or he can head to London and shop for school supplies with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. When he feels like leaving this galaxy for one far, far away, he can join Darth Vader and Luke in Cloud City for the iconic "I am your father" scene. He can also head over to the Death Star and help Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie get out of the trash compactor. 

The LEGO Experience

Mickey and his Steamboat Willie

LEGO is not just about the toys  it's about an experience. LEGO includes games, movies, and related products like cups and keychains. Going to a LEGO store is like a pilgrimage, and it is really an experience itself. When we were in London for vacation a few years ago, the rest of the family wanted to see plays, sights, and visit museums. All my son wanted to do was visit the LEGO Store. Imagine his excitement when he encountered this multilevel marvel in Leicester Square devoted to all things LEGO. There are also Legoland amusement parks around the world where kids and their lucky parents can immerse themselves in this amazing fantasy world. 

But the most important part of the LEGO experience comes down to parent and child sitting down to be creative. It is time spent together building not just toys but lasting memories. Many years from now my son plans to give his kids these sets, and when he builds with them I know he will remember building with me. It's a bond we share that will be forevermore.  


 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

TV Review: HBO Max's 'The Tourist' Emphasizes the "Out" in the Australian Outback


HBO Max's The Tourist emphasizes the "out" in the Australian outback. If you wanted to drop your characters into one of the most isolated areas on the planet, this has to be it. Setting is a key factor to the tone of the series, a sort of barren landscape that is an "out there" that can be seen almost like an alien planet. This deliberate stranding of the protagonist in a wasteland does make this a bleak character building device.

Series directors Chris Sweeney and Daniel Nettheim (who each directed three episodes) keep the story moving at a steady pace, and the writing team of Harry and Jack Williams really gives the actors plenty to sink their acting shops into.

And what fine acting it is. Anyone who is thinking of Jamie Dornan (who plays the nameless The Man) as the guy from the Fifty Shades of Grey movies should immediately throw that thought out the window. Dornan does remarkable work here as a man who has no memory of who he once was, and it's not just his actions and dialogue but the fine nuances of facial expressions that capture his angst, fear, and frustration at not being able to understand why formidable forces are trying to kill him.

Helping The Man find his way across this landscape of despair is Probationary Constable Helen Chambers (a simply luminous Danielle Macdonald). In her earnest desire to help The Man find his way, Chambers puts herself in danger and her relationship with Ethan (Greg Larsen) in jeopardy. The smug Ethan believes he is the "catch" in this pairing, but after watching six episodes of Chambers making every effort to help The Man find answers (and Macdonald realizing the character so fully), the viewers understand how Ethan should be counting his lucky stars.

The series starts with The Man making a pit stop on an outback road to nowhere. He buys some things for his road trip, uses the bathroom (and complains about having to sign his name to get the bathroom key), and then proceeds to get back into the car to continue his journey. A huge tractor trailer zips by out on the road, and before long The Man is being chased by a death machine driven by a mountain of a man named Billy (Olafur Darri Olafson). Eventually, the truck crashes into the car and seemingly destroys it and its passenger. I couldn't stop thinking about the TV movie Duel directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Dennis Weaver because it had a similar scenario, but it ends there with the crash.  

While recovering in the hospital, The Man is visited by Constable Chambers who tries to get to the bottom of what happened to him. The only clue is a piece of paper in his pocket with a place and time for a meeting on the following day. The clue doesn't make sense to Chambers, but this is the start of their partnership as she investigates and starts ruffling feathers, including the homicidal Billy. 

The Man checks himself out of the hospital the following day and gets on a bus. He plans to make that meeting in the small town of Burnt Ridge (a kind of outback Twin Peaks) in the town diner. There he is asked to sit in a certain booth and wait for the meeting, but beautiful waitress Luci (an impressive Shalom Brune-Franklin) spills a drink on him and needs to take him across the street because the diner loo is out of order. While crossing the street, the apologetic Luci continues directing The Man when the diner behind them explodes from a planted bomb.

Now The Man knows whoever is after him really wants him dead, but has no clue as to what to do next. Since Luci is out of a job and is sort of attracted to The Man, she offers to help him and finds him a place to stay in town. Sometimes in his quest for answers, The Man erupts in fits of rage that, when over, surprise us and even him. It leaves us scratching our heads and asking, "Who was this guy?"

The explosion has now alerted the authorities, and Detective Inspector Lachlan Rogers (Damon Herriman) is sent to investigate kind of like Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) going into the town of Twin Peaks. Rogers even starts working with local law enforcement, and Sgt. Rodney Lammon (a hilarious Kamil Ellis) is assigned to him. While TP has lots of supernatural elements that The Tourist does not, there are an assortment of crazy characters that give Burnt Ridge an appealing under current of humor despite the serious implications of the dark forces that are heading its way.

Will The Man, Luci, Chambers, Rogers, and Lammon be able to take on the enormous Billy and Kostas, the man for whom he works (Alex Dimitriades) and his organization? The rest is spoiler territory, and it is far too good to ruin it for anyone.

The acting is exceptional here, and even minor characters are given a chance to glow. Dornan proves his strength as an actor as he slowly puts the pieces of his identity together, and there is a shocking and powerful scene in episode six where a woman from his past whom he keeps seeing in his dreams, Lena Pascal (a haunting Victoria Haralabidou) confronts him with a truth that is more than inconvenient. Dornan's reactions (both physical and emotional) are harrowing as we witness his coming to terms with his past.

The amnesiac protagonist has been done before (think Total Recall, The Bourne Identity, Memento), but here there is a combination of humor, pathos, and rage that is very powerful. I've always found it intriguing that after these characters lose their memories that they come back as better versions of themselves, finding it difficult to believe that they were ever capable of the things that they did. Perhaps it's nature's way giving them a second chance, but The Man has questions about that and learns things that he may feel put him beyond redemption.

The Tourist leaves The Man with a revelation that shakes him to his deepest soul, and the overwhelming question is can he accept what he was now that he is the man that he is? And can Chambers or Luci help him? You'll have to watch until the last seconds of episode six to get the answer. 

I highly recommend The Tourist for your viewing pleasure. Those six episodes move quickly and leave us hoping for more. What about it, HBO Max? Will you grant our wishes?  
              

Please check out the official trailer for The Tourist

















 

Friday, March 4, 2022

New Video for 'Love in the Time of the Coronavirus'

 Hello.

Please check out the new video for my book 'Love in the Time of the Coronavirus.' I am looking forward to your reactions/thoughts about it. Thank you to all of you who have bought and read the book already. I value and appreciate your support.




Friday, February 25, 2022

'Love in the Time of the Coronavirus' Is On Sale

 Hello.

My book Love in the Time of the Coronavirus is in a Kindle Countdown for 99 cents starting today. It is also free with Kindle Unlimited. Please check it out.

Also, thank you to all of those who have already bought and read the book. I appreciate your ongoing support. 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08N189RNT/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0




Tuesday, January 18, 2022

TV Review: 'Cobra Kai' Season Four – A New Threat from An Old Enemy







Griffith's Silver returns to taunt Daniel again.

In Cobra Kai season four, there is a new threat from an old enemy. Anyone familiar with The Karate Kid film trilogy  starring Ralph Macchio will recognize his scary face. It is Terry Silver (a still frightening Thomas Ian Griffith) who is coaxed back to the Cobra Kai dojo by John Kreese (Martin Kove) because he needs his special talents to help defeat their old rival Daniel LaRusso (the ageless Macchio) who has teamed up with their former student Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) to defeat Cobra Kai in the All Valley Tournament.

The series just like the films is all about the tournament. How the students and their senseis get there is another story. Daniel is intent on teaching the tried and true method as taught to him by Mr. Miyagi (the late great Pat Morita), but Johnny is convinced that will not work against Cobra Kai now that Silver is back in town. Of course, this causes a good deal of conflict between Daniel and Johnny, and their  students take note of the increasing tensions.

Silver is living the good life in a seashore mansion when Kreese comes to see him. Flashing back to The Karate Kid III, Griffith portrayed Silver as a sadist who took delight in torturing fledgling student Daniel, who briefly comes under his tutoring in hopes of defeating his bullies with a new style. All these years later, Silver has put that behind him until Kreese reminds him of how he saved him back in Vietnam. Eventually, Silver steps back into the dojo and changes everything. 

Daniel and Mr. Miyagi had a special bond.

At the heart of the films was Miyagi and Daniel's relationship. Miyagi was not just teaching Daniel karate, he was teaching him a way of life. Miyagi's karate was for defensive purposes only, and his goal was for Daniel not just to defend himself but to live of life of balance and honor. 

Daniel tries to train Miguel the Miyagi way.





In the series Daniel has been taking a similar approach with his students, especially with Miguel (a terrific Xolo Mariduena). Miguel is a lot like Daniel was in high school, but he is a bit more confidant and sure of himself. He wonders if 

Daniel's methods will work, but he definitely knows that the extreme type of karate at Cobra Kai is not right for him.

Daniel's daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Johnny's son Robby (Tanner Buchanan) add complications to the situation. Once romantically involved, Mary is now back with he ex Miguel who used to date bad girl Tory (an impressive Peyton List) who is Sam's arch enemy. Tory is now involved with Johnny, so the plot more than thickens. 

Samantha and Tory continue to clash.


When Johnny and Daniel finally realize that they cannot work together, a group of students breaks off with Johnny  to form Eagle Fang Karate. They are training with him for the tournament. Another contingent (including Tory and Robby) are training under Kreese and Silver at Cobra Kai, while Miguel, Sam, and the others stay with Daniel to train the Miyagi way. They will all "settle it on the mat" at the tournament, so conflict between the three dojos continues to rise. 

The obvious question is who will win the tournament? Which pair of fighters will it all come down to? Will Daniel and Johnny continue to clash – to Kreese and Silver's delight – or will they find a way to defeat Cobra Kai once and for all? This is all spoiler territory, so I'm not going to reveal anything now. 

Showrunners Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg have done an amazing job of honoring the legacy of the films while making the series new. Bringing in old characters from the films is proof that the impact they had then and how they still matter now. Seeing Daniel's mother (Randee Heller) now is a great way of making connections to the past. 

Daniel and Johnny tried but failed to work together. 

In the beginning of this series, much was made of Johnny being a down and out handyman since Daniel defeated him at the All Valley in 1984.  Daniel being a successful owner of a car dealership doesn't help matters; however, Johnny has come a long way in these four seasons. Not only has he picked himself up from the bottom, he has started his own business. He has even started dating Miguel's mother (Vanessa Rubio), which doesn't necessarily make Miguel too happy. Still, it's a big step in the right direction for his character who was always likable even in the films but totally misguided by Kreese.

Cobra Kai is well worth your time even if you're not a of of the films. If you are fan of the films, then you will delight in how the series honors them and keeps true to the storyline. Macchio has even talked about what things are "canon" in the series and the films, so you know he realizes how important staying true to spirit of the legacy is to the fans.

Cobra Kai season four and seasons 1-3 are available to watch now on Netflix. Grab a bowl of  popcorn and get ready to binge to your heart's delight. You'll be glad that you did!  Please check out the trailer below.





Friday, December 24, 2021

TV Review: 'Hawkeye' on Disney+ Is Marvel Studio's Christmas Gift To Avengers Fans



Hawkeye on Disney+ is Marvel Studio's Christmas gift to Avengers fans  and anyone who likes an action-packed show. Set in New York City at Christmas time, there is one luscious scene after another of the Big Apple decked out in all its holiday splendor. The city is the backdrop for all the action that takes place as former Avenger Clint Barton (a terrific Jeremy Renner) teams up with young Kate Bishop (the amazing Hailee Steinfield), who has been a fan of his ever since she was a little girl and saw him fighting the Chitauri in the Battle of New York (The Avengers 2012).  

In The Avengers Barton came under Loki's (Tim Hiddleston) mind control until Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (the great Scarlet Johansson) knocked Barton unconscious (and literally knocked some sense into him). After that the two of them worked well together seamlessly, with them being like a one-two punch in any battle. They shared the hardships they had been through and their difficulties of being part of the Avengers team, and became if not best friends more like a brother and sister.

Why this is important is because when young Kate wants to partner with him, Barton is hesitant because not only does he know it's dangerous work, but also because he lost his last partner – Natasha died during the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and he doesn't want to lose her too.

Barton is visiting with his children to experience New York at Christmastime. Meanwhile, Kate attends a charity function with her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) who is engaged to the suave and silly Jack Duquesne (the hilarious Tony Dalton). While not trusting Jack, she follows him down to a secret charity auction that he attends with his Uncle Armand III (Simon Callow). They are auctioning off items from the Avengers' destroyed New York headquarters. One of the items is the Ronin suit (which Barton wore in Endgame when he started slaughtering bad guys because he lost his family during the Blip caused by Thanos (Josh Brolin), wiping out half of the people on Earth.  

The auction is interrupted by the Tracksuit Mafia (a Russian gang that wears tacky tracksuits) bombing their way through the basement wall in search of a special watch. In all the confusion, Kate steals the Ronin suit, puts it on, and battles and defeats the gang. When she goes to find Armand III to get some answers, she discovers he has been murdered. Outside, the Russians surround Kate after she rescues a stray dog, but Barton (who saw the action on TV in his hotel room) rescues her. 

This puts them on a collision course with the Russians, and after they capture Clint and Kate and start interrogating them about Ronin, we discover who their boss is  Maya Lopez (an impressive Alaqua Fox). Apparently, she wants to know who Ronin was because she wants to kill Ronan for killing her father during Barton's time of unhinged murder. Barton tells her that Black Widow killed Ronin  which is essentially true because Natasha stopped Barton's killing spree. 

Eventually Barton and Kate escape from the Russians, but now the situation is even getting more muddled. Is Jack Maya's mysterious boss? Will Eleanor ever believe Kate when she tries to expose Jack as Armand III's killer? If Jack is not the boss, who is "the big guy" and why does he want to kill Barton and Kate? What is so important about that watch stolen by the Russians and to whom did it belong? It seems very important to Barton to get it back.

The rest is spoiler territory, and there are a few surprises and Marvel Cinematic Universe Easter eggs throughout. The series is beautiful to behold; as mentioned before the city and the action sequences are amazingly captured, with kudos to cinematographers Eric Steelberg (three episodes) and James Whitaker (three episodes), and the music by Christophe Beck and Michael Paraskevas is booming in the MCU tradition and captures the fury and intrigue as needed. 

Jonathan Igla (series creator and head writer) gets the MCU right, and this canon miniseries gives us a better look at Clint Barton. Renner shines as the Avenger who seemed to not get as much screen time as the other ones who had superpowers, which is one of the things I liked about the character. His partner Natasha also lacked superpowers, and maybe that's what made their pairing all the more interesting. 

It will not be surprising for you to know that Natasha's younger sister Yelena Belova (an outstanding Florence Pugh) is also in New York to kill Barton. If you recall at the end of the underrated film Black Widow (in a post credits scene), Yelena was told that Barton killed her sister by Contessa Valentina de Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Who is the Contessa working for? I think I have an idea but won't reveal it here.

I'm not sure if there will be a season two of Hawkeye, but there should be. Truthfully, Barton gets battered and bruised a good deal here. When people realize he was an Avenger, he gets either a pass for whatever is happening or praised for "saving the world." Renner plays him as grizzled and weary and perhaps ready to retire, but Kate ups his game, and he even says that she makes him better.

There is terrific chemistry between the two leads, and while the Barton-Romanoff  partnership just made sense, the Barton-Bishop one does too, but here it is more like a father-daughter duo. Kate clearly idolizes Barton and wants to be like him (he's why she took up archery in the first place). They don't actually save the world here, but they kind of save New York and, in the process, save themselves too.

Hawkeye is a fine addition to the MCU, and Renner and Steinfield shine. The story is fresh, exciting, and feels nothing like more of the same, with a fan of an Avenger becoming his protege. While Barton was an Avenger and much of what happens plays off that history, this is a new story that takes Barton to task for his time as Ronin and the other demons that plague him (especially feeling responsible for Natasha's death). His actions after that dark time   and his efforts with Natasha to collect the Soul Stone on Vormir  certainly redeem him in the eyes of young Kate and the audience.    

I enthusiastically recommend Hawkeye, which hits the bullseye and then some. I believe it will become a great addition to your annual holiday viewing library. I know I'm adding it to mine.