Friday, January 6, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Netflix & Chill TV Reviews

I’m doing Netflix TV this week because let’s be honest: no one cares about Congressional ethics panels.  Am I right?  Certainly not Congress.

So fuck it.  If they don’t care, why should we?
It’s Star Wars-meets-Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives.  Trollhunters is an archetypal monomyth adventure in which our hero discovers a magic amulet that enables him to summon what can only be called a Shardblade and Shard Plate.  These are his weapons in the eternal battle against rogue trolls.  It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, but the echoes to Star Wars are so strong that I keep hearing Samuel L. Jackson’s voice in my head every time I watch it.  
“Use the Force, motherfucker!  Come on, let it guide your actions.”
Plus, our hero falls in love in the high school gymnasium, and as a result, I keep waiting for him to bang his would-be girlfriend in the laundry room ala the Kim Cattrall scene in Porky’s.  No, not the shower scene, the other one.  Alas, it’s a cartoon.  Still, given that it’s also a Guillermo Del Toro project, I keep wondering how many of these weird-ass 80s cinema allusions are intentional.
Anyway, we’re only about four episodes into Trollhunters, but so far it’s been okay.  I like that they’ve gone to some trouble to depict sword fighting as akin to fighting with long knives rather than with sharp baseball bats.  The first few episodes were a little slow to start but definitely entertaining.  Plus, Emma seems to be enjoying it.
2. ARQ
The CW’s Robbie Amell and Jessica Jones alum Rachael Taylor play star-crossed lovers in what is essentially a low-budget made-for-TV sci fi movie of the week.  This is Panic Room-meets-Groundhog Day, as a home invasion goes hideously wrong thanks to the sci fi magic of the ARQ reactor.  It’s clever, though, in the way the movie plays through the million-and-one permutations of its central plot device, increasing the cast’s distrust of one another and general paranoia.
I found myself deeply invested in finding out how this movie would end.  Amell and Taylor also have a lot more chemistry than I’d expected.  Considering that Amell couldn’t even hold a show on the CW, I’m guessing that most of this is on Taylor.  She’s terrific.
3. The OA
Netflix marketed The OA as a kind of step-sister to Stranger Things, but man, it is not that at all.  It’s brilliant, well-acted, and deeply weird, but that is where the similarities end.

The OA
I read one review that called this show “a meditation on loss.”  That’s a good description.  We’re six episodes in, and so far Sally and I are both enjoying it quite a bit.  However, it is deeply sad.  I have no idea whatsoever how it’s going to end.
4.  Travelers
My favorite recent Netflix discovery is Travelers.  It’s Syfy’s Continuum-meets-Criminal Minds.  That description doesn’t nearly do the show justice, however, since it’s a good bit more entertaining than either of those originals.  
The story here is standard time travel fare.  The future is a wreck, and time travelers have come back to the 21st Century to try to repair the damage before it happens in the first place.  But it turns out that saving humanity from itself is both more fraught and more complicated than you might expect, and wackiness ensues.  

Honestly, I could take or leave some aspects of the show’s mission-of-the-week format, but the series as a whole succeeds magnificently on the basis of characterization.  The “travelers” all inherit the bodies of actual 21st century people, each of whom comes with his or her own embedded problems.  This drives almost all of the best action and gives the show its heart.  I enjoyed it tremendously.
Voltron: Legendary Defender (Season One) was the best thing that the kids and I have seen on TV in quite some time.  In fact, it’s currently sitting at 100% fresh on  Everybody loves it.  Now comes news that Season Two debuts on January 20th.

Details on the new season have been super-hush-hush.  I’m excited.

* * *
Before I let you go this week, here’s a brief list of movies that you might consider watching on Netflix this month:

-- E.T.
-- Braveheart
-- Nancy Drew (2007)
-- Caddyshack
-- Superman & Superman II
-- Ocean’s Twelve

You know it's true...
That’s all I’ve got, folks.  Happy trails!

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