Posts Tagged ‘netflix’

Netflix Turned a Creative Corner In 2017 With Originals Like ‘Dark,’ ‘Suburra’ and ‘The Punisher’

January 2, 2018

Call it the Lilyhammer of the Gods.

In February 2012, Netflix established its creative model right out of the gate. Its first original show, Lilyhammer, starred “Little” Steven Van Zant, fresh from playing a mobster on The Sopranos…as a mobster, albeit one who’s relocated to Norway for witness-protection purposes.

The road from Lilyhammer‘s quirky Sopranos rehash to Stranger Things‘ unabashed theft from ’80s pop-culture staples is not a particularly long one. All that changed was the company’s self-identification as a creator of original content rather than an online video store, and its subsequent accumulation of user data and development of a predictive algorithm to deliver the goods.

Many of the network’s original series —”original” being a relative term— speak to this desire to please the crowd with things that have already pleased them. Why have only one off-beat comedy about the mildly crazy lives of young people set in New York (Master of None), for example, when you can also have one in Chicago (Easy) and Los Angeles (Love) as well? It’s too bad Donald Glover titled his show Atlanta and took it to FX, or else I’m sure Netflix would have something on the docket for that youth-culture mecca as well. In a more traditional move, reboots are common, from the campy (Fuller House) to the acclaimed (One Day at a Time). And that little row of Netflix Original rectangles contains enough grim-visaged cops, crooks, and killers to look like a photo array you’d use to identify suspects in the world’s most focus-grouped crime.

Which is what makes shows like DarkThe Punisher, and Suburra: Blood on Rome stand out. From the outside, these 2017 debuts seem like status-quo programming. But each veered of the course they could have cruised down effortlessly, taking creative risks that yielded entertaining and provocative results.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action: Over at Decider I wrote about the possibility that Dark, The Punisher, and Suburra represent a creative turning point for Netflix, in which the sheer volume of material the network puts out is now enabling some shows to complicate and interrogate their genre elements rather than serving them up straight.

“Ozark” thoughts, Season One, Episode Nine: “Coffee, Black”

August 14, 2017

So I hope you’ll bear with me for a brief rant about Netflix and spoilers. I’ve never understood the contrarian contention that spoilers don’t matter at all. When I say spoilers matter, I’m not joining forces people who complain that the review they chose to read of a movie they haven’t watched yet contains some plot information. Nor am I basing the argument on stories that have nothing more going for them than some big twist, without which the drama is sucked out entirely. What I’m saying is that the rate and timing of plot information is an artistic decision, just like the casting or the editing or the soundtrack or the cinematography. Ideally, you’d learn what happens in the story when it happens in the story, as per the filmmakers’ design.

If you care about art in this way, Netflix’s “the whole season drops at once” model essentially mandates that you cram a show down your throat as fast as possible simply to avoid getting spoiled. As a business move, it’s very canny, since it creates the self-reinforcing impression that viewers can’t get enough of each show. And since most of their many, many, many original series arrive with no fanfare, by the time you hear enough about a new show to get interested, the people who happened to climb aboard right away are already talking about the finale. That spoilery video I mentioned above? It was uploaded just four days after the season debuted. Imagine watching a whole new season of Twin Peaks or Game of Thrones or The Leftovers that way. It’s insane!

I reviewed the penultimate episode of Ozark Season One — and also went off on a huge rant about spoilers and Netflix’s “whole season at once” compulsory-binge business model — for Decider. Don’t let that stop you from reading the thing, though — once again, the cast playing the Langmores do beautiful work here.

“Daredevil” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Six: “Regrets Only”

March 26, 2016

Hey, anyone order a full-fledged Kill Bill homage? ‘Cuz in “Regrets Only,” the sixth episode of Daredevil’s second season, that’s what you’re getting. The ep opens with a crew of yakuza assassins in suits and ties zipping through Manhattan on motorcycles. Sure, they lack the Kato masks of the Crazy 88, and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Date With the Night” provides the soundtrack instead of Al Hirt’s “Green Hornet” theme, but I mean, c’mon. Then there’s the first of two different fights in which Daredevil and Elektra wind up silhouetted against some kind of strikingly lit backdrop and/or behind some strikingly lit screen. “Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves,” baby!

I reviewed Daredevil’s sixth episode of Season Two for Decider.

The Great Don Debate: Discuss the Greatness of Mad Men‘s Anti-Hero

April 14, 2014

The terrific writer and critic Hazel Cills and I are debating Don Draper and Mad Men for Netflix right this very minute. Come by and talk to us about it.