I seem to spend most of my life watching films or TV, reading books, listening to music – all that sort of thing – so I thought I’d start doing some posts on what I’ve been devouring lately. Think of them as mini-reviews, or an introduction to new things, or maybe simply as an indication of how much time I really spend lounging about in bed every week. These Watching Lately/Reading Lately/Listening To Lately etc. posts won’t be a regular weekly/monthly thing, but I’ll just post them as and when I’ve got a few things saved up to talk about. So anyway, for the first installment I thought I’d start by talking about a few Netflix Original Series. Some of these I watched quite a few months ago, but I’ve just started on the latest installment and it has reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed watching them all.
Orange is the New Black
Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, a seemingly average, middle-class woman in her early thirties who has recently ended up in prison as a result of a long-forgotten relationship with a drug dealer in her college days. The 13-episode long series follows Piper as she tries to adjust to life behind bars, where she has to throw her usual suburban lifestyle straight out the window. Although focused mainly on Piper, I particularly enjoy how each episode also delves into the back-story of one of the other inmates who Piper has made friends or enemies with (or sometimes both) along the way. Orange is the New Black was created by Jenji Kohan, who also created Weeds, and if you enjoyed Weeds I’m sure you’ll also enjoy this. Both shows have a similar feel; they’re not quite what I’d describe as light-hearted, but they take a bit of a comic look at serious subjects and have their emotional moments too. Both feature seemingly ordinary women caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and all the characters are so well-written and likeable that it’s easy to forget that they are – quite literally – a bunch of criminals.
House of Cards
Originally I was going to give House of Cards a miss because, well politics *yawn*, but my flatmate said it was good, so I decided to start watching. After the first two or three episodes, I wasn’t really sold. It was pretty slow-moving, nothing had really happened and although it was quite interesting it wasn’t what I would call “gripping”. But I kept going, and by episode five or six I was absolutely hooked (it doesn’t help that Netflix automatically starts playing a new episode as soon as you finish the previous one, cheeky). Kevin Spacey plays Francis Underwood, the Majority Whip in the House of Representatives, who is hell-bent on becoming the most powerful man in American politics. With his ruthless ambitions hidden behind his old-fashioned Southern charm, he manipulates the right people and gets rid of the wrong ones in an attempt to cultivate a spot for himself as the President. Once the series gets going, this programme is intense – not in an action-packed/violent/thriller sort of way, but you’re constantly on the edge of your seat as you just know something big is about to happen. Kevin Spacey is brilliant in this, such a menacing but strangely likeable character. I also really liked the way this series was shot, everything seemed dark and moody and really added to the whole atmosphere. Definitely worth a watch if you’re into intelligent and thrilling dramas.
When I first spotted the adverts for Hemlock Grove on Netflix I knew instantly that it would be right up my street. I’ve been a huge fan of all things spooky and supernatural since the days of T*Witches and Vlad the Drac, so anything along those lines is probably going to be just my thing (apart from Twilight, boke). Hemlock Grove is a bit like True Blood but even more ridiculous (in a good way), if that’s even possible. Usually stories like this are fairly predictable, but this one does a good job of keeping you guessing about a lot of things, even if it does have the classic vampire (Roman Godfrey, Bill Skarsgård), werewolf (Peter Rumancek, Landon Liboiron), girl (Letha Godfrey, Penelope Mitchell) thing going on. The series begins with a young girl being brutally murdered, and in the attempt to catch her killer it becomes evident that more or less everyone in the town is hiding a secret of their own. It’s not the best TV show I’ve ever watched, but I liked it’s weirdness, it’s creepiness and it’s over-dramaticness. Some of the acting was a little bit questionable, but the storyline was good and it had lots of little subtle points that don’t usually make it into shows in the “high school supernatural” genre.
And finally, I couldn’t write this post without mentioning Arrested Development, even though it’s not technically an “original series”. I was SO excited when I first heard Netflix were going to be doing a fourth season of this cult show, the original three series were hilarious in a way that was both really subtle and completely obvious at the same time. After what seemed like years of waiting, the new series finally arrived in May and I spent a couple of days watching the whole thing. I loved that all the original cast were still there (with a few excellent guest appearances too) and there were lots of recurring jokes from the original episodes. One thing I didn’t like so much was the way the series was set out, with each episode following a different one of the main characters. It was definitely interesting to see how different events and such interlinked, but I think I preferred it when all the characters were together and each episode was a mish-mash of all the idiotic exploits of the whole family. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed this series and, as much as I loved good old Tobias, I think Gob was definitely my favourite character this time round. If you haven’t watched Arrested Development before (all four series are available on Netflix), start from the very beginning and you won’t be disappointed!
Have you watched any of the Netflix Original Series?
P.S. Not sponsored by Netflix, I just don’t have much of a social life. 😉