Words by Helen Sanfey
October 16th, 2015
Set in Florida Keys Bloodline is centered around a family who on the outside seem perfect but beneath that clean exterior the truth is based on lies and deceit. The Rayburn family is made up of ex-sailor Robert (father), an adoring wife Sally, John the cop (son), Meg the lawyer (daughter), Kevin the boat captain (son) and the eldest of the group and the most troubled Danny. A pillar of the community this family has it all….or do they? When Danny arrives back in town each family member seems to shake. They are overcome with guilt but the viewer is not made aware why. Throughout each episode we are fed more and more information about what really happened in their childhood. There are times throughout the series that we are shown the gruesome ending but are then cast back to the events that caused it. In similar ways to a classic soap opera the plot-lines tease and engage and make you want more as you’re brought back and forth to tell the story.
The journey in which the main characters go on from the first episode to the last is sublime. The characters in which you thought were relatable truly test you and the characters with the most troubles are ones you root for.
A Netflix original Bloodline was released in March of this year. This drama pushes the boundaries of family loyalty and shows you the hold guilt can have over a person. Made up of a superb cast including Ben Mendelsohn, Sam Shepard and Linda Cardellini to name but a few make the viewing even more compulsory.
A Netflix original The Returned is an adaptation of the French drama ‘Les Revenants’ focusing on a small town in America that sees the return of loved ones that were presumed dead a long time ago, with no recollection of their deaths. For their family and others around them who suffered a profound loss this turns their lives upside down as they wonder if it is a miracle or the start of a horror story. Soon after their arrival home strange and gruesome events start to unravel and we start to realise that some people should have stayed buried.
Each episode focuses on a different reincarnated person and their family who are affected by this occurrence and you find yourself becoming emotionally connected to a lot of the characters as you witness long lost love, deep loss and pure elation.
Released in May of this year The Returned makes you think ‘what if?’ and it is done in such a hauntingly lamentful way that it may cause serious empathy and tears, but it is worth it!
Gotham is an action drama series following two cops James Gordon and Harvey Bullock who are trying to fight crime in the corrupt city of Gotham. Set in the pre-Batman era this series gives you a proper insight into the way things worked before ‘Batman’ came to be born, why Bruce Wayne had to don the cape due to the corruption and vengeance for the death of his parents. It gives you a rare glimpse into the making of the classic villians from the Batman franchise, with Penguin, Catwoman, Two Face Harvey and The Riddler as their ‘human’ counterparts.
Focusing mostly on Penguin a.k.a Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot and Catwoman a.ka. Selina Kyle, it is really Penguin and the almost unrecognisable Jada Pinkett Smith as corrupt mobster that steal the show. Penguin, played by Robin Taylor not only brings the inception of Penguin alive but his portrayal is menacing and perfectly cartoon-like that even Tim Burton would be proud of.
Not a Netflix original, it is however available on Netflix to watch from the beginning. The first season is a definite teaser and taster of what is to come as I am sure each season more infamous Gotham characters will be introduced so we can now experience and understand their journey into the realm of the Bat.
Gripping French thriller Witnesses is set in a small coastal town following two detectives on their quest to find who is responsible for unearthing bodies from their graves. A suspicious picture found in one of the crime scenes of former chief of police Paul Maisonneuve raises some strange questions and detective Justin (Jan Hammenecker) and police lieutenant Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier) are hell bent on finding who the culprit is. However the return of the retired chief makes Sandra uneasy which immediately sparks our curiosity as to what the past has hidden between both of them.
As a massive fan of French cinema this drama ticked every box for me. It grabs your attention straight away, the plot is cunning and unique and the tension it creates throughout the series is simply thrilling. Created and directed by Herve Hadmar Witnesses first aired in France in 2014. A massive hit, it soon made its way to English channels airing on Channel 4. If you want a real thriller binge stream on Netflix now.
Narcos is a captivating drama/docu series portraying the rise of the 1980’s Medellin cocaine cartel run by Pablo Escobar and the efforts of the United States and DEA agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena to capture Escobar and try put a stop to the drugs being transported to the U.S.
Written by Chris Brancato and directed by a magnificent team of filmmakers including Jose Padiha, Narcos is the single best T.V series I have seen this year. From the first 10 minutes you are captivated by the pace, narration, acting and ‘the hard to believe’ this all happened moments, immediately putting it into ‘must watch more’ territory.
For those of you who are not familiar with Pablo Escobar, fear not as this series explains everything in great detail and although subtitled and fast-paced, DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd HolBrook) is the voiceover so you can never be confused about what is going on.
Narcos shows the involvement of the U.S government in the fight against the drug lord, the unbelievable corruption with Columbian law enforcement and politics and the ruthlessness and pure genius of Escobar.
Featuring real footage from archival news reports mixes the genres from drama to documentary filmmaking giving you a real insight into the devastation caused by Escobar and his cartel not only in Columbia but in the U.S also.
Incredible acting from all characters especially Wagner Moura who plays Escobar himself, the resemblance of the actors to the real people being depicted is uncanny.
A Netflix original, this series is so addictive I recommend you clear your schedule or pick a duvet day and do a ‘Breaking Bad’ (watch in one run). All episodes are available to watch right now.
Without a doubt one of the best original series to come from Netflix, albeit the title and image could put off some misguided people thinking it was ‘another’ superhero series. (There are so many after all). But Daredevil is nothing like any superhero movie or series on TV at the moment, closer to Christopher Nolan’s vision of dark heroes, this series is violent, brutal and captivating. Based on the marvel comics and focusing on the alter ego of Matt Murdock (a struggling blind public defender by day and vigilante by night) played by Charlie Cox and his trusty steads and partners which include Deborah Ann Woll of True Blood and Rosario Dawson of Sin City. We are shown how an accident as a child that left Murdock blind have subsequently enhanced his extra senses to superhero scale.
The first series chronicles the early days of his vigilante career trying to right the very serious corruption that is rotting Hell’s Kitchen in New York run by the most interesting and complex villain I have seen in recent years. Vincent D’Onofrio plays Wilson Fisk a.ka. the kingpin to those who know the comic books with a haunting and bubbling undercurrent of raging homicidal tendencies mixed with a deep sense of sadness. It is is in the uncharacteristic and unconventional portrayal of a villain that makes it so captivating. There are moments of real tenderness before extreme violence that make it not only difficult to watch but hard not to.
The action sequences are also gritty and extremely real with true ninja style set pieces as the dark and gritty story unfolds over 10 episodes. The final episode is also worthy of any cinema screen time with suspense, drama and fantastic dialogue with Fisk at the helm. It is probably one of the biggest injustices that D’Onfrio was not noted for his unbelievable performance at the recent Emmys but hopefully the Golden Globes next year can right some serious wrongs.
Watch it for his chilling portrayal of a comic book villain that he makes his own, the gritty realism and the noir visuals but be warned it is extremely violent.
Better Call Saul
After one of the most successful and iconic new series of the last decade, Breaking Bad finished last year, there a definite loss on the airwaves. What can we watch that will replace this void? Then immediately after there was talk of a spin off focusing on the jolly but corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman, I have to admit, I was not convinced, was this going to be another excuse to make some money on a spin off that doesn’t deserve a second chance. Are you going to just dilute something that was already perfect. Thankfully I was wrong.
Better Call Saul, written and directed by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan proved why he is one of the best in the industry. The new series is cleverly tied into Breaking Bad offering subtle links back and forth to its predecessor with the opening sequence offering a sneak peak of life post Walter White and immediately brings us on a journey back in time to how Saul was born. Known at the time as Jimmy McGill an attorney down on his luck and trying to make with a series of public defending gigs that never pay well, Jimmy’s journey to the ‘dark side’ is traced with the most wonderful pace and ease and beautifully played by Bill Odenkirk. This Jimmy is very different to Saul, someone who is genuinely trying to do the right thing, but circumstances and bad luck seem to get in the way. It tracks and shows us how he forms a bond with Mike (his long time side kick in Breaking Bad) and more interesting the story of his troubled relationship with his brother which ultimately impacts the decisions he chooses to make.
This is not the Saul of Breaking Bad, this is a tender, clever and heartfelt character that allows you to empathise and understand the complex journey he took and why he becomes the ‘Saul’ we all know down the line. And with Season one only having eight truly special episodes, I cannot wait to see how the journey into to dark continues. I thought it was impossible to say, but this is one of those series that might even outdo its predecessor and go down in time as one of the best sequels/prequels ever.
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