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So Far 'The Dynasty' is Top Notch Patriots Porn

The qualities I look for in any documentary film or series are:

--Is it accurate?

--Is it unbiased? 

--Does it teach me something?

--Does it show me things I haven't seen before?

With Apple TV's 10-part Patriots series The Dynasty, those last two are the real challenges for any Pats fan. Especially one who was an adult throughout the entire 20-year run of having Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Mr. Kraft as the Football Trilogy around here. And it's particularly tough when the viewer has been hyper-focused on all this to an obsessive, emotionally crippling, and downright dangerous degree. (I raise my hand to that.) 

But so far? After just the first episode, because I don't have all day to watch TV? I have to give them credit. They've checked all four of these boxes and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. 

Obviously, a lot of this is well-trodden ground. But as you revisit it, watch the narratives unfold, realize once again just how unlikely this whole run of success was, and how insanely close it all came to not happening at all, it does give you a renewed appreciation for how fortunate you are to have witnessed it. 

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The thing I was most concerned about, as I've mentioned before, was how the trailer gave you the impression that show was going to go scorched earth on the franchise. That the focus was all going to be on controversy, tension, drama, that convicted murderer guy, and so on. And admittedly, you can't tell this story without that stuff. But so far I get the feeling this show is aware that there was a lot of good times and unimaginable success mixed in. 

The first episode's main focus is on the transition from an injured Drew Bledsoe to a young Tom Brady. 

And even here, it manages to put some fresh food on the table for consumption. A camera angle of Bledsoe after the hit from Mo Lewis that I swear I've never seen before. Him lying on the sideline through a forest of legs, his body contorted and in obvious pain. Odd that they didn't mention how he got back on his feet and actually went back in for the next series before Brady himself realized he was talking nonsense and his condition was worse than anyone thought. But whatever. The doctor who performed emergency surgery to fix the rupture in his artery that almost killed him makes an appearance. As do his X-rays. All of which goes to show how remarkable the story of this Dynasty is. And how worthy of at least a 10-episode series. 

The next thing we get that has never been seen before is 2001 Brady bro-ing out. His roommate then was defensive lineman David Nugent, who took incredible home video back when it involved a lot more than just opening an app. Them in their fleabag room at the Endzone Motel next to the stadium. Then in the bachelor pad condo Brady bought from Ty Law once he made the team. Come to see the MTV Cribs-style set up and the Tecmo Bowl battles they had. Stay for Brady and Law beefing about who ripped off who in the deal. Every time Brady uses "fuck" and "shit" in the same sentence on camera, an angel gets its wings. 

Especially fascinating is the interviews with Brady's teammates at the time, and how little they thought of him once he became the starter by default. Law, Lawyer Milloy, Damien Woody, Tedy Bruschi. To a man they all thought Brady was out of his depth and the second Bledsoe was cleared he's be back holding a clipboard where he belonged. As did the Boston media. And pretty much the world outside of the Patriots head coach's office. 

And there's where the story takes off. I especially appreciate the way they draw a through-line from Foxboro in 2001 to Cleveland when Belichick caught hell for benching Bernie Kosar, of all people. Again, this is common knowledge. It was covered at length in the 1995 Browns episode of A Football Life. But to see more of the mass hysteria directed at Belichick over that move never gets old. Every time you hear someone with a thick Cleveland accent saying Belichick should be fired, or hanging him in effigy because the fucking owner of the fucking Browns moved his team to Baltimore, you feel better about them going 1-31 and never making a Super Bowl. I say again, if the Cinnabon at the mall announces it's closing, you don't scream at the kid getting paid minimum wage to ring the register unless you want to have failure brought upon you. Regardless, I was just happy to watch a stern, uber-serious Belichick make that Kosar announcement at a press conference while dressed like a member of the entourage in a '90s skiing comedy.

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This episode confirms that Bledsoe, to use the cliche' "went up the back stairs" to the owner's office demanding Mr. Kraft intervene to get him his job back. And while RKK did ask, he told Bledsoe he wasn't going to force the issue. And if the move turned out to be wrong, Belichick would be held accountable. Hearing Bledsoe and his wife describe how betrayed they felt, and Scott Pioli explain how they understood perfectly just how big the stakes were, gives you an all new appreciation for just how ballsy it was to bench the NFL's first $100 million player for a doughy, unimpressive Tecmo Bowl enthusiast. 

If I have problems with the show so far, it does play fast and loose with some of the facts. The regular season game against the Rams is presented as a crushing disappointment that had everyone doubting Brady and questioning the wisdom of the QB switch. When the truth is, that game only convinced everyone the Patriots were capable of competing against the best team in the league. What cost them the game wasn't Brady, but an endless drive by St. Louis that took 14 plays and drained the entire last half of the 4th quarter off the clock. But I guess you need to have it end on a down note for that cliffhanger ending feel. 

The other part I can live without is the obligatory cartoonish Masshole charicatures they dredge up every time they make one of these sort of shows.

Still, I'm picking nits. If I'm not going to have a Dynasty any more (not for a while, anyway), I'll settle for The Dynasty. So far Certified Fresh on Thorntomatoes [tm].