Five Days at Memorial.

    Hi Mark, which series should we not miss this week?

    ‘I saw Five Days at Memorial (drama, Apple TV Plus, eight episodes), based on a 2013 non-fiction book of the same name. The series centers on the New Orleans storm, Hurricane Katrina, and the suffocating effect that storm had on a city hospital. The opening scene comes in: when the hospital is finally evacuated after five days, it turns out that there are 45 dead patients in the building.

    “The events in that hospital show in miniature what went wrong throughout the city. Katrina announced itself days in advance as the largest storm to ever make landfall in the US. So everyone braced themselves for that. In the end, New Orleans was less badly hit than expected, so everyone in that hospital initially breathed a sigh of relief: it’s not that bad, the building is still standing.

    ‘But the worst, we now know, was yet to come. The rickety watersheds collapsed under high water and rainfall, New Orleans was flooded. That was the real disaster. The power in the city went out, on day three the water in the hospital was so high that the emergency generators also gave out. Well, then it really is a matter of life and death, with weak people on a ventilator, and you get an untenable situation.

    ‘In this strong reconstruction, with all kinds of great actors, it becomes clear that there was no script and no one took responsibility. This applied not only to that hospital, but to every layer of government. There was an enormous lack of knowledge, passivity prevailed. When the evacuation finally gets underway, it turns out that the medical staff cannot take everyone with them. Patients are euthanized without their consent. The thought is: soon this hospital will be empty and these people will die a slow death, and that is even worse. Very dramatic.

    ‘But in Five Days at Memorial The question is also addressed: whose fault was this? Who was responsible? And which decision was made for what reason? I found it very impressive and fascinating to watch.’

    And then: already the fifth season of The Handmaid’s Tale. What will we see?

    “The first season, based on Margaret Atwood’s classic, was a true masterpiece. In this it becomes clear that a large part of humanity has become barren. The few fertile women who are still there are forced in the land of Gilead – formerly America – to provide for posterity. Since the series was so popular, the creators thought: we should continue with this story. In the fourth season, fast forward, lead character June escapes to Canada, the promised land that is still a democracy with equal rights for women. Now, in the fifth season of The Handmaid’s Tale (Amazon, ten episodes), she still wants to go back, because her child is still stuck in Gilead.

    “Although this latest season is once again well done and the actors are good in their roles, I also think: here we go again. The original strength of the rock-solid first season is diminishing somewhat. The creators have gone on too long. As a viewer you hope for catharsis, completion. Anyway, I will continue to follow this series until the bitter end. I’m still curious where this is going.’