A bit of an odd month this month. I went into a bit of a voluntary cultural drought and wasn’t in the mood to start watching any new series of a big American drama or comedy. Instead, I went back and watched episodes of the ol’ familiar in my life. Also, a change in my circumstances (new job! New flat!) half way through the month impacted on my ability to watch bits and pieces as regularly as I used to.
The Fundamentals Of Caring
Netflix Original! Netflix Original! For something that in essence is the equivalent of a straight-to-TV or straight-to-DVD movie, Netflix sure trumpet their exclusives a lot. Starring Craig Roberts out of Submarine (and Tracey Beaker, apparently? I have no memory of him whatsoever), Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez of all people (it took me a while to figure out where I knew her from) this is all about living your life to the full and not precariously through a screen. Oh the irony, as I sit here watching Netflix like its some life-giving organ rather than the life-sucking reality. This is an alright film – a good length, a solid plot and not too shoddy acting. Is it great? Nope. About as average as its possible to be and it could be funnier but it wastes 90 minutes of your life so whatever.
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
I feel like this film has been staring back at me from streaming services’ homescreens for years now and I’ve always intended to get round to watching it but was always a little afraid it’d be a bit heavy going and never found myself in the mood for it. However, its time came and I’m glad it did. There’s always the fear that when you’re using 9/11, or something of a similar nature, as a plot device it can be easy to sway towards being crass in delivery or completely unoriginal and be using it for the sake of using it. ELAIC delivers on it incredibly well though, as the life of a young boy and only child is affected by the death of his father who was in one of the Twin Towers. Thomas Horn as Oskar Schell is *outstanding* and it was a real surprise to me to discover on IMDb that he’s not done anything since. I really hope if he still has his acting talent as a now young adult he will pop up again in something. Moving and heartbreaking this is a must watch – there were tears.
A Very Secret Service
Netflix Original! Netflix Original! I know we’ve discussed this earlier in the post but another issue with the phrase ‘Netflix Original’ is that it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve produced and commissioned the show themselves. A whole host of BBC stuff (including Happy Valley) is billed as Netflix Original over in America purely because they’re the media company broadcasting it in some sense. Here, this is a French series by the TV channel arte and Netflix picked up worldwide distribution rights. It took me a few episodes to get into this but by the end I quite enjoyed it. It’s not side-splittingly funny but there’s humour there (although some of it is a bit bizarre. Why do they keep going on about the state of the protagonists suit?!) and the main set is fantastic. It’s all based in the French Secret Service in the 1960s complete with token misogyny and bureaucracy and a belief that France is the best thing since slice bread even though their empire is crumbling around them. It’s all presented tongue in cheek and it’s got a great themetune to boot. I would say, however, that its a real shame that the one high ranking female spy is purely there as a plot device. We never see her in action really and she often uses her sexuality to get things done. Double- timbrée!
Boy Meets Girl
I really want to like this show and yet there’s something nagging at me… that it’s not actually very good. I feel like with a lot of linear TV shows sometimes you watch them purely because there’s hope, on a week by week basis, that the next episode will be an improvement. Boy Meets Girl is one of those shows for me. Obviously it’s great to have a transgender character on screen played by a transgender actress but if the scripts and plot aren’t up to scratch there’s only so much I can excuse… Essentially, this is a 30 minute drama with the occasional joke. To class it as a comedy is misleading. Meh.
Judge me all you like but I loved Miranda when it first aired and still do – proper studio, slapstick comedy is lacking in this modern age. Admittedly, I’m one of those terrible people who prefer comedies without laughter tracks but if it’s a studio based comedy then I can make an exception. I must have watched all the series at least four or five times now and there’s still many moments that make me cackle. I’m not so sure S1 has aged necessarily well viewing it seven years on but it’s an old familiar for me, a comedy comfort blanket when I’m not up to watching anything else.
Please Like Me
FINALLY, this show is now legally available to view in the UK via streaming service Amazon Prime. As a result, I also delved back into this, watching the occasional episode (out of sync). I won’t go into too much depth as I’ve discussed it earlier in the year but this is a *must watch*.
Another comfort blanket for me when nothing else will do, although not an old familiar. I’ve mainly watched this in the past when I’ve been ill but I wasn’t willing to wait any longer to continue with it. All episodes are completely new to me aside from the very recent specials but this show is right up my alley. Mysteries, comedy, self contained episodes and all wrapped up nicely by the end. Strong casts, good solutions blah blah blah. This time round I polished off S4 and although not as strong as previous seasons (how could it be without Caroline Quentin?) this still had a lot going for it. Whether or not the new 2016 special will do too we shall see.
Celebrity First Dates
Once again Channel 4 continue to mess with my head by having new episodes of First Dates airing at a completely random time and then only for a few episodes. It moves position more than someone in a doctor’s waiting room with piles. ‘slebrity First Dates though is a nice idea and it’s always great when the date have no idea who they are.