Sunday, January 11, 2015

Luther: Excellent British Crime Drama on Netflix Canada

Luther is a show that wraps up three seasons in just 14 episodes.  It is full of action and delivers an intense viewing experience. The lead actor, Idris Elba, was perfectly cast, he looks a bit hulking and slightly imperfect, making his appearance match his character's rough-and-tough side.

The opening scene was fantastic with a lot of action, and instantly made it clear that Luther is a detective who works by his own set of rules.

Luther is given a new junior detective to work with, which at first makes it appear that this crime drama is about the typical detective team: a hard-hitting cop with a tough exterior, and dorky sidekick who is just learning. But that is not what this series is about.

Luther plays by his own rules, but he is also an excellent teacher to his team (although he has difficulty maintaining their trust in him). Bad things just keep happening to Luther, but he develops a very interesting relationship (or could be called a forced friendship) with an intelligent killer that proves useful in the end.

Overall, I give Luther a 10 out of 10 in my books!  Highly recommended!  Just make sure you set aside a free weekend to watch this series, because once you start watching it, you may not want to stop.

Find out more about the series and the numerous awards it was nominated for here:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Broadchurch recently released on Netflix; better than the American version

I watched Broadchurch, a British television crime drama when it originally aired in 2013. It was captivating, and although it was not based on a true story, it was eye-opening.  How?  Well, it brought to light the effects that a murder can have on family, friends and even acquaintances of the victim. The people who surrounded the 10 year old boy who was found murdered in episode 1 of the series, were all questioned, and for some the hint of accusation wreaked havoc on their lives.

The American remake, called Gracepoint, was aired on Fox in late 2014. I watched several episodes, but then lost interest. I'm not sure if it was because it was too similar to the original (I am never sure why, in this day and age, we need two versions of the same show - can't the American's just watch the British version? Most Canadian's have the same accent as Californians and we have no issue watching British television shows) or if it was because the American version lacked the grit and quieter horror of the story.

On Gracepoint, the lead female detective is played by Anna Gunn, considerably more 'American' in appearance.  In British television, actresses are not normally 'beautiful' in the way that movie stars are or American actresses.  They normally look like regular women, and they have that down-home grit to them of a normal housewife or average office worker. So perhaps that is why Fox did not renew Gracepoint for a second season, whereas Broadchurch was renewed (which starts here in Canada on January 16th on Showcase) for a second season.  Perhaps the American version was missing the overall grit of the show, and the emotion that comes with a story that could happen to anyone in real life.

I give Broadchurch a 9 out of 10.  So catch up quick before the second season airs next Sunday!

Here is the Wikipedia link to info on Broadchurch:

Netflix has an 'Appropriate Adult'

One fantastic series to catch on Netflix Canada is 'Appropriate Adult', a 2011 British 'television film'. Emily Watson stars in this 2-episode series as the real-life Janet Leach, an average woman who became an 'appropriate adult' to assist in representing Fred West, a notorious British serial killer.  Some say the show was mis-representative, in fact, the police who interviewed Fred West apparently felt that way.

There is a great article in the Mirror that outlines Janet Leach's side of the story, and how her perspective was well represented in the film.

The performances were fantastic all around and the series was truly captivating from start to finish.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Here is the Wikipedia description of the series:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Without a Trace; an oldie-goldie 1983 movie on Netflix still enjoyable

Last night I watched an old 1983 movie on Netflix called Without a Trace. Since 1983, we have seen an endless number of child kidnapping stories on shows like Law and Order and countless other films and television series. However, this one still holds up.  Despite the poorer quality of film, it kept me captivated from start to end.  It also took me on an emotional ride.

Excellent cast and Judd Hirsch did a fantastic job of a character that needs to be logical, practical and sometimes harsh in order to do his job, but also caring and considerate and able to relate the feelings of others to his own life.  The actors all spoke in that way that actors spoke prior to 1990, a little over the top with a lot of inflection, but it was still excellent.

Here is the link to the full Wikipedia description of the movie:

I highly recommend it. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy Valley - Action, Suspence and Scenes Horrifying to the Imagination

I give Happy Valley, currently streaming on Netflix Canada, a 9.5 out of 10.  I absolutely loved it.

This British drama has only six episodes but a big impact. It follows a 50-something female police sergeant and a series of linked criminal events that take the viewer on a suspenseful ride.

The lead character starts the series as very pleasant, but with a determined grit about her.  In the first 30 minutes, you can see that she carries a lot of emotion behind her hard exterior. And we find out that she has had a lot to deal with including a sister who is a former drug addict and who now lives with her and her grandson. In the first episode, we can see there is something deeper in her story, and it has to do with a man who has been released from prison earlier in the day.

The story starts off simple enough, and we nearly begin to believe it could be one of those typical crime dramas where a new crime is highlighted in each episode.  However, that is not how this series turns out. A crime occurs that seems simple enough (to the criminals, at least), and it takes unexpected turns for both the characters and the viewers. There are moments when you might find yourself yelling at the screen in an attempt at telling certain characters that they are making stupid decisions.

The writers and direct did a wonderful job of producing a crime drama that was not all that graphic, but rather left an imprint of horror on the viewers imagination.  Blood, guts and severed heads could not equal the scenes in Happy Valley where murder is left to ones imagination.  For instance, in one murder scene a car is driven over a person several times, back and forth, back and forth. We never see the body get hit, but only the driver and the thud sound of his car as it goes over the body, time and horrifying time again.  The scene is emotionally draining on the viewer, because it leaves a lot to the imagination, and because the character who is killed is so very likable.

So if you are a fan of British crime dramas and like the grit that comes with them, I highly recommend that your check out Happy Valley on Netflix. And for more info on the series, check out Wikipedia's description here, where you can also learn about a second Happy Valley series filming in early 2015.

Why Review Netflix?

Before we get started on Netflix reviews, I thought I would introduce myself and tell you why I am writing about Netflix.  For starters, I love to write.  I have an education in marketing and public relations, and over time I have realized that I am not so bad at writing, and I enjoy it quite a lot.

Secondly, my day job is a chocolatier and pastry professional. I own a chocolate business in Northern Ontario, and I work alone for long hours.  Dipping treats in chocolate can be tedious at times and with today's technology, I have the ability to set up a tablet and watch Netflix as I work, to pass the time pleasantly.  Since signing up for Netflix last Spring, I have now watched so many television series that I am able to differentiate the good from the bad, and see what makes certain series so very captivating and others, well, not so much.

I realize that most people do not own their own business, and if they do, they may have customers come through their doors regularly or employees to deal with.  However, I simply own a commercial kitchen that is not open to the public, and so I have the time to make it through series after series undisturbed (except for the one fact that often times, my eyes are not perfectly concentrated on the screen). And knowing that I can watch way more Netflix than the average person, I thought I might share my experiences with others through this website, to help you choose the best television series and movies on Netflix, so that you do not waste your precious t.v.-viewing time.

Feel free to comment on anything that you see on this site, and let me know if you feel the same way, or differently than me, about these shows!  I'd love to hear from you.

If you'd like to see a little more of my work, you can find me regularly at The Ultimate Chocolate Blog, where I review fine chocolate, and provide many of the chocolaty recipes that I have created over my years as a chocolatier.

Happy Netflix Watching!