It's good to have a distraction when your summer does not involve sun, sea and sandcastles, especially when you wish it did, and Netflix fits the bill perfectly. It's the silly season in the media, with endless repeats, stand in presenters, stupid surveys and sunburn stories filling the airwaves and papers. Not good and not a great way to entertain those of us stuck at home, whether we're trying to relax, or even while doing the chores. But Netflix is, and here's what we've been watching:
No don't stop reading: I know that everyone is praising this series and writing about it, but perhaps, like me, you thought you wouldn't like it? I saw the trailers and publicity and wrote it off as another mild horror/psychological suspense series that would be too scary for me. Yes I'm a big baby, but I don't need anything else to keep me awake at night!
But with so many recommendations I ended up giving it a try and despite being put off by the opening scene, I was soon drawn in to the story, which begins properly as four young friends meet up for a table top gaming session some time in the 1980s and one of them disappears on the way home.
This is the most significant event to have happened in this sleepy Indiana town in living memory and gradually most of the townspeople get drawn in to the drama, for good or bad, as more and more strange things start to happen.
My memories will be of a distraught mother who is desperate to be believed, while those around her think she's losing her mind, resourceful friends, an upright cop, evil middle aged people in suits (a metaphor methinks?), superbiking, the loneliness of Middle America that reminded me of Winter's Bone, a film I adored, and Joy Division's Atmosphere capturing the mood of one of the saddest scenes...
Not to be missed, and there's already talk about a second series too.
I was prepared to dislike this show with its cheesy smiles, cliched lines and tired stereotypes, but actually I enjoyed it, and best of all it stars 'Mike' from Desperate Housewives. Remember him?
The Good Witch lives in the Grey House, a B&B, in another small American town. She doesn't have a wand or mix up potions, she just has the intuition or foresight to engineer events to help people with their lives. She does have an irritating tendency to speak in inspirational quotes and a bias against coffee though, while two of the teenagers irritated me greatly when they used the word 'cretin' as an insult, surely that is no longer acceptable?
Anyway a divorced doctor moves in next door and his son makes friends with her daughter. Teenage rebellion ensues, parents struggle to cope, and a succession of guests at the Grey House with a variety of problems keep the stories moving along.
I found it a heartwarming easy watch.
My teenage son recommends this show, in fact he loves it so much that we're now watching it together. It's a US series inspired by Japanese anime, the production values (as my son would say) are not the best and there are plenty of plot holes, but it does have certain charm, and if you have a child on the spectrum, they will surely recognise themselves in some of the characters. A parent could get a good insight into the way their child thinks by watching it too, I would think.
The story? Well in the first episode a bunch of oddly assorted teenagers are set various tasks to enter a school for warriors, there's some impressive fighting scenes, but why do so many of the female characters resemble extras from sleazy rap videos? Subsequent episodes have featured more of the same, plus working through the usual crop of teenage problems.
Between(Words provided by my 23 year old daughter who recommends this series)
Between is a sic fi drama starring Jennette McCurdy. It is set in the small town of Pretty Lake, where there is a mysterious disease outbreak that kills everyone over 22. Due to the outbreak the government quarantines the entire town and the series focuses on how these kids survive and fend for themselves.
Jennette McCurdy plays Wiley, the pregnant teenage daughter of the minister. Jesse Carere plays Adam, a 'hacker' who views the disease outbreak as a conspiracy from the beginning. Other featured characters include a convict, a rich kid a farmer who has just enlisted in the army and the town outsiders.
Soon we see the town descend into chaos as food runs low, young kids are left to mind themselves and people turn against each other.
I'm especially looking forward to season two of the South American drug series Narcos (release date TBA) and also the techno-paranoia series Black Mirror, which is new to Netflix and will be available on October 21st.
Whatever you watch, have a great summer!
Disclosure: I have received free Netflix streaming, a streaming device and an iPad as part of my membership of the Netflix Stream Team, plus a few summer goodies too! But all words and opinions in this post are my own.