Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Binge Streaming the British on Netflix

So I have finally discovered binge streaming. The funniest part is that we have been Netflix members for years only I never bothered to look at any of the programs offered. The hubby and the boys tended to watch their Netflix programs, but it just didn't occur to me to take a look on my own. Don't know why, don't ask.

I actually became enamored of binging when Netflix produced the new Marco Polo series. In fact, one of the more interesting aspects of my binging is that I have discovered some very high caliber British television. Not that I hadn't paid attention to British TV before, being a Dr. Who semi-fan and rather intrigued by the show M-I5 and quite enamored of  Downton Abbey. But, I only watched those shows on PBS masterpiece theater or BBC America. Now I have an entirely new arena in which to get my mysteries on...

Anyway here are a few reviews of some of the programs I have lately streamed:

Marco Polo

Extraordinary attention to detail with an eye to the historical. While of course it is romance, swashbuckling fun at its best (even though it is all on land), there is an attention to period detail that I found extraordinary. The story of Marco Polo and the Kublai Khan is an interesting clash of civilizations and the opening of the Silk Road is one of the most important periods in history. But moreover, the cast is the extremely talented  amalgamation of some of the best that not only British, but the European actor guild has to offer. Definitely watch this as a binge if you can. I can't wait for season 2.

Happy Valley

Police, murder, rape all combined with the concept of redemption. Simply ask yourself how would you feel in the main character's shoes and how would you have handled the situation any different? All-in-all while there is an interesting crime mystery to solve, the real story is about the people, who they are and how life, in and of itself, is the one true mystery. You don't have to binge watch this series. But I found myself getting quite drawn in to the story and didn't want to wait to finish it, even though I had to go to sleep so I could function the next day. P.S. one main question, I still don't know why the average British police are not armed, when all the bad guys do have weapons and men are really stronger than women (despite what some feminists might tell you)...just asking.


They made this series into an American television show called Gracepoint. Now I actually started watching the American show before I streamed the British version. I hadn't known that Gracepoint was based on this series at all. In fact when I started watching Broadchurch I knew there was something familiar about it, then I realized I had watched some of Gracepoint.

Interestingly, I really didn't like the American take on the series. Ironically, Gracepoint was almost verbatim what the British version was, but I couldn't watch past that first episode. However, it really worked as a British mystery. Perhaps I was just not in the mood for the show when it aired on Fox. But I do know that the endings are actually different for the two shows, well according to the reviews as I never did watch Gracepoint after that first episode.

For Dr. Who fans, David Tennant is the detective in both versions.

The Fall

Another good British series, replete with multitudes of flawed characters. Gillian Anderson, who you will remember from the X-Files, is terrific as the senior police detective on the case. The series takes place in Belfast, which is still having problems since The Troubles.  But be forewarned it is a serial killer case and the script, as well as the actor Jamie Dornan,  does a good job of really creeping out the watcher. I streamed Season 1 as a binge and then started season 2. I had to skip to the last episode in season 2 without watching all the episodes, not because it wasn't good, but because it just got too under my own skin.


This is a rather old series and if you don't have Netflix, but have amazon prime you can stream it for nothing there. It is a very good and humanizing look at the people that keep Britains safe from terror. There is not just one plot, but many subplots throughout the series with an ever changing cast, all happening at the same time. It keeps you rather riveted. It is nice to see that at least in some areas of the world, people respect those who give their lives in service to their country and to freedom. There are 10 seasons and I suggest you start from season 1.

The Honourable Woman

I watched the entire miniseries because people told me how wonderful it was. I kept hoping that it would get better. And yes Maggie Gyllenhaal just won a golden globe for her performance (why I have no idea). I have never seen her in any other production, so I am assuming that she can really act. But here she seemed to simply be going through the motions as a zombie. I don't know if that was the directors idea, or if that was in the script trying to show her to be an emotionless individual, but I found it distracting to say the least.

In truth the story is quite stupid, and the mystery not such a mystery. I figured it all out in the very beginning. No I don't think it's because I am that astute. Truth is that the story was rather typical for those trying to be profound about the Middle East, without any real knowledge about the Middle East. It was also no surprise especially in the end when you find out who was the real "Honourable Woman." (This one I would skip if I were you.)

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