Scoop - Photo Netflix
Scoop – Photo Netflix

“Scoop,” Netflix’s drama about the downfall of Prince Andrew, drives home the old proverb – “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas” – a warning to be mindful of who we surround ourselves with and what behavior we condone.

The plot of “Scoop” revolves around how – back in 2019 – the BBC secured an exclusive interview with the Duke of York about his friendship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.  The broadcast ultimately triggered Andrew’s disgrace, confiscating his HRH title, patronages and removing him from Royal life.

It all began with Sam McAlister (Billie Piper), a flamboyant junior producer at the BBC’s ‘Newsnight,’ whose primary job is booking guests. Worried about the current wave of downsizing, she decides to track down rumors about Prince Andrew’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, who was still alive at that point.

Using the guise of promoting Pitch Palace, the Prince’s entrepreneurial ‘initiative,’ Sam contacts the Prince’s aide Amanda Thirsk (Keely Hawes). But when news breaks about Epstein’s suicide, including claims that the Prince had sex with a 17-year-old girl trafficked into Epstein’s sex ring, the focus inevitably changes. 

After consulting “Mommy” (the Queen) who told him to use his best judgment, the Prince (Rufus Sewell) agrees to the opportunity to put the record straight and, hopefully, repair his tarnished public image. 

But his interview with journalist Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) causes even more acute embarrassment for the Palace since the Prince comes across like a bumbling oaf, admitting he doesn’t regret his friendship with Epstein because the “opportunities” he gained from it were “actually very useful.” Explaining why he continued be Epstein’s houseguest, he says, “It was a convenient place to stay.”

Reminiscent of Harvey Weinstein’s predations and the child abuse tolerated by Boston’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the show is based on Sam McAlister’s book “Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews.” 

Adroitly directed by Philip Martin, there’s a significant moment in the conclusion when exhausted Sam takes the bus home, gazing at some giggling, carefree teenage girls, obviously thinking about Epstein’s victims and how the rich and powerful can so easily prey on the weak.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Scoop” is a sensationalistic 6, streaming on Netflix.

Remember Dev Patel, that appealing young Indian actor in “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and its sequel?

Now he’s made his writing/directing/producing debut with “Monkey Man,” a grim action-packed revenge thriller set in the squalid (fictional) city of Yatana in India.

Patel plays an unnamed Kid who grew up in the forest with Neela (Adithi Kalkunte), his hard-working single mom who kept him enthralled with Hindu stories from the Ramayama revolving around about the mythological monkey deity known as Lord Hanuman. 

When a greedy land developer, disguised as a spiritual guru, with the help of a populist rightwing politician, destroyed their village, his mother was brutally killed by Rana (Sikander Kher), the corrupt local police chief.

As years pass, the skinny Kid with badly scarred hands develops into a formidable, monkey-masked fighter, but he’s often defeated at the bloody, bare-knuckle bouts staged by sleazy Tiger (Sharlo Copley), a ruthless Master of Ceremonies.

Determined to wreak revenge for his mother’s death, he steals enough rupees to enable him to go undercover as ‘Bobby,’ a dishwasher-then-waiter at an elite nightclub/brothel run by Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar) under the ‘protection’ of villainous Rana.

Awkwardly scripted as an underdog story by Patel, Paul Angunawela, and John Collee with nods to the obvious influence of the Bruce Lee/John Wick genres, it’s filled with so many graphic close-ups that narrative/political coherence is often discarded, despite energetic cinematographer Sharone Meir and rapid-fire editors David Janesso & Tim Murrell. 

Intriguing supporting characters, like the compassionate trans-woman Alpha (Vipin Sharma) – who identifies as hijira, a Hindu term for the third gender – and the prostitute Sita (Sobbhita Dhulipala), appear and inexplicably disappear.

Raised in London by Gujarati parents from Nairobi, Kenya, Dev Patel has obviously been deeply influenced by his Indian heritage, particularly the caste system, and he feels strongly about its socio/political context. Plus, he has trained in Taekwondo since he was 10 years old.

Originally set to debut on Netflix, the film was boosted to a theatrical run when filmmaker Jordan Peele convinced Universal Pictures of its commercial viability.

On the Granger Gauge, “Monkey Man” is a grisly, gruesome, gory 5, having opened in local theaters last Friday.

Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See all her reviews at www.susangranger.com.