Baby Reindeer - Photo Netflix
Baby Reindeer – Photo Netflix

Without question, “Baby Reindeer” is one of the more bizarre series ever to capture worldwide attention. Allegedly based on true events, its seven episodes chronicle the creepy relationship of a Scottish comedian and his stalker.

According to Netflix, in its first four weeks, “Baby Reindeer” hass been viewed more than 56 million times, spawning endless discussion and a cadre of amateur sleuths trying to discover the real identities of various characters.

“Baby Reindeer” begins in a London police station as Donny Dunn (creator Richard Gadd, playing a version of himself) awkwardly attempts to report a female stalker named Martha (Jessica Gunning), who wandered into the Camden pub where he works as a bartender and has been tormenting him ever since.

Adapted from his 2019 one-man, award-winning show that played at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and London’s West End, Gadd’s series shows how he spent years trying to find some semblance of success as Donny Dunn, a tartan-clad stand-up comedian with sad eyes and a hangdog face. 

Twentysomething Donny lives in a boarding house owned by the mother of his ex-girlfriend Keely (Shalom Brune-Franklin) and is dating Teri (Nava Mau), a transgender woman, while working out some shameful self-loathing about his own sexuality.

If viewing Donny’s cringe-worthy attempts at comedy isn’t excruciating enough, watching him bumble ineptly through his personal life is even worse, particularly when he’s seduced by Darrien O’Connor (Tom Goodman-Hill), an older, successful TV producer who drugs, assaults and rapes him. 

In contrast, as a serial stalker, menacing, middle-aged Martha is cleverly delineated and steadfastly confident, always thinking two steps ahead of damaged, dimwitted Donny. She’s so lonely and obsessed that she’s lost touch with reality, idealizing and projecting her primal desires onto him, calling him her ‘baby reindeer.’

Like many victims of stalkers, Donny – at first – feels pity for Martha and tries to deal with her compassionately. When that doesn’t deter her, he seems to get some kind of ego boost from her devotion, yet his complicity in engaging with her – while not setting boundaries – is the worst thing he can do. 

During the epilogue, there are generational confrontations which eventually lead to the emotionally ambivalent conclusion. 

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Baby Reindeer” is a sordid 7 – with all episodes now streaming on Netflix.

Unfrosted - Photo Netflix
Unfrosted – Photo Netflix

When your name is as famous as Jerry Seinfeld’s and your bank account tops $900 million (according to Celebrity Net Worth), you can make whatever kind of movie suits your fancy.

For his feature-film directorial debut, 70 year-old Seinfeld chose the campy comedy “Unfrosted” about the creation of the tasty Pop Tart when cereal wars rattled Battle Creek, Michigan, which Seinfeld called “cereal’s Silicon Valley.” 

Back in 1963, both Kellogg’s and General Foods – a.k.a. Post – were eager to break away from the traditional cereal need for a bowl, milk and spoon.

As head of development, Bob Cabana (Seinfeld) works for gruff, goofy Edsel Kellogg III (Jim Gaffigan) whose dynastic, family rivalry with Marjorie Post (Amy Schumer) is legendary. Both companies were eager to launch the first, shelf-stable breakfast pastry, rectangular-shaped to fit in a toaster.

To that end, Cabana recruits NASA’s Dana Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy), fitness guru Jack LaLanne (James Marsden), bicycle visionary Steve Schwinn (Jack McBrayer), ice cream’s Tom Carvel (Adrian Martinez), and others – while trying to corner the sugar market through El Sucre (Felix Solis).

Meanwhile, Post makes a deal with Nikita Khrushchev (Dean Norris) to import sugar from Cuba, igniting an Oval Office meeting with JFK (Bill Burr), launching the Missile Crisis.

Egged on by Cabana’s milkman (Christian Slater), the about-to-be-sidelined Milk Syndicate is headed by menacing Henry Friendly (Peter Dinklage). And when a Kellogg’s employee dies, there’s an absurdly irreverent, cereal-centric funeral.

Plus haughty Hugh Grant voices Tony the Tiger and there are a litany of celebrity cameos, the best of which features Jon Hamm and John Slattery satirizing the ad execs they played in “Mad Men.”

Unevenly scripted by Seinfeld with longtime TV collaborators Spike Feresten, Andy Robin, and Barry Marder, it’s filled with generic jokes and only vaguely reminiscent of other product-inspired movies like “Air,” “Flamin’ Hot,” “Blackberry,” “Tetris,” even “The Founder” about McDonald’s franchiser Ray Kroc.

FYI: Once known as the richest woman in America, Marjorie Merriweather Post was the mother of actress Dina Merrill. Post built Palm Beach’s fabled 100-room Mar-A-Largo mansion, now owned by Donald Trump.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Unfrosted” is a flaky, high-fructose, forgettable 5, streaming on Netflix.

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.