Category Archives: Netflix

Netflix’s Black Summer is your new Zombie Binge Watch

Courtesy of Netflix

A couple of weeks ago, Netflix quietly dropped a new ‘Netflix original’ series called Black Summer that has everything you need to fill that zombie void until The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead returns.

The series (apparently set within the same world as Z Nation – which I am yet to watch), all bleak and depressing in its stark blue wash, kicks off in the American suburbs only a few short weeks after the onset of a deadly outbreak where people are striving to make it to ‘the arena’, a military zoned rescue point. This is where we first meet our series heroine Rose (Jamie King) as she, her husband and daughter attempt to make it to the evacuation jeeps. But things don’t go to plan and it’s not long before Rose is flying solo, trying to get to her final destination.

The series introduces several other key figures along the way including *possible* criminal on the run Spears (Justin Chu Cary), Kyungsun (Christine Lee) a non-English speaking Korean woman and Lance (Kelsey Flower) who may possibly be the one character to offer a glaringly realistic view of just how an everyday Joe may go about trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse.

And this zombie apocalypse is different to the world in which we’re used to seeing. The zombie’s aren’t your slow-assed Sunday stroll zombies either. These buggers can run. Like fast. And turning them doesn’t take hours after death. It’s literally instantaneously as introduced in the opening episode.

While Black Summer makes for an engaging edge-of-your-seat show, there are a few misses scattered among the many hits that makes the show so great. The eight episodes are all scattered in length making some feel like they ended a little too quickly while others, a little too long. The pilot episode runs for just on 44 minutes allowing for character introduction and a decent look at the world they’re living in while the finale wraps up in a short 20 minute outing forcing the story line to jolt to a somewhat open ended finale.

And don’t be too worried if you feel like your’e missing an episode between 5 and 6. Episode five (Diner) is set entirely within an abandoned diner where the characters bicker and fight while Episode six (Heist) finds the same characters partaking in an extremely detailed heist on an underground warehouse. It’s a situation that is some cause of confusion considering the importance the heist plays on the rest of the season.

Black Summer series trailer

In the end, Black Summer is a series that is always on the go, even in the quietest of moments, there’s a sense of urgency, a sense of needing to keep moving as enemies both dead and alive are right around the corner. And its this constant tension that not only sets Black Summer apart from other zombie apocalypse shows but also makes for entertaining viewing.

Black Summer season one is not available to stream on Netflix.

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Netflix Celebrates Valentines’ Day with Dirty John


2018 Bravo Media, LLC

For most people, living a life of lies and deceit isn’t a lasting one but for John Meehan, he turns it into a house on the waterfront, access to copious amounts of money and a lifestyle he could only have ever dreamed of.

Taking shockingly brutal and unbelievably incredible tales of true crime and turning them into binge-worthy documentaries really is the flavor of the moment. From Making a Murderer to The Keepers, The Staircase and Evil Genius there seems to be a story for everything. And it’s only been recently where those stories have been glossed over for scripted television and and sometimes it’s good (The People vs OJ Simpson) and sometimes it’s not so good (The Assassination of Gianni Versace – unpopular opinion I know)

The next ‘glossed over for TV’ story is Netflix’s Dirty John (via a full season run on America’s Bravo channel)  based off the hugely popular L.A Times Podcast of the same name that follows well-off but unlucky in love interior designer Debra Newell (played by Connie Britton and her fabulous hair) who, with four failed marriages to her name, decides to get back on the online dating train and after a slew of disastrous dates, John Meehan (Eric Bana) with his cargo shorts, sweet demeanor and good looks arrive at the perfect moment in her dwindling love life to sweep her off her feet.

Though red flags begin to appear by the end of the first date, that doesn’t stop Deb and we watch as she dives very quickly into a new relationship with the mysterious John and it’s not long before the people in her life, including her children, start to realize he may not be the perfect man he is making himself out to be resulting in a devastating attack that threatens to destroy the lives of everyone Deb loves.

Netflix, in either a cruel joke (or delight for those who hate the day) are dropping the entire eight episodes of Dirty John for us to binge on Valentine’s Day aka February 14th. Check out the trailer below.

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Netflix’s Sex Education Season Review.


Sam Taylor/Netflix

Netflix is starting the year off with a bang (literally) with the release of their new gawky teen sex comedy series Sex Education that brings in elements of Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek and Porky’s to create one of the year’s brightest and funniest series that shows regardless of sexual experience, sex is never the cut and paste answer to any problem that may arise.

Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) is living a semi-complicated life. At 16, he’s found himself in the middle of a sexual awakening but it’s just not his…which is partly in fault thanks to his mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) who’s profession as a sex therapist muddles itself between what’s appropriate to talk about at work and home causing Otis to be more sexually repressed than his school friends. Though, being the son of a sex therapist does have it’s own rewards when school outcast Maeve (Emma Mackey), looking to make a quick buck, talks Otis into giving out the advice he has learnt at home to the sexually active and confused students at his school. The beauty here is the diversity within the students at the school and the problems they are needing help with. A popular girl with a touchy gag reflex to a lesbian couple having trouble with sex to a shy and awkward teen with an almost stalkerish crush on a girl all find themselves in the presence of Otis who doles out sage advice all the while knowing full well, he’s still yet to experience anything of the like.

Along with Otis and Maeve, there’s Otis’ best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) who doesn’t struggle with his sexuality but with how difficult it is to find someone when there’s only one other openly gay student at the school. He’s also become the target of the school bully Adam (Connor Swindells) who spends most of the season making Eric’s life a living hell – and being a major disappointment to his father, the head master of the school and as the season progresses, there’s little snippets into Adam’s life that reveal why he does what he does.

Gillian Anderson as Jean is just one of the standouts from this series but singling out her performance as the sexually open therapist is a must as this role feels so….un Gillian Anderson that it’s perfect. We’re used to seeing Anderson in constricted, quiet and closed in roles (X-Files, Bleak House, Hannibal) that it feels like a breath of fresh air watching her character smoke a joint and get high with one of her son’s classmates or don a red shag wig and grope and stroke an over sized phallic shaped eggplant.

At only eight episodes long, this first season does not feel rushed or have things swept under the rug to deal with later – though – no spoilers – there is a lot of stuff set up if (fingers crossed) the show comes back for a second outing.

Check out the trailer below:

At the heart of all this though are the three relationships that are either existing or formed throughout the season and how they stretch and break and mend with each passing day. Otis and his mother Jean. Otis and Maeve. Otis and Eric.

Sex Education Season One is now streaming on Netflix.

Why Netflix’s Great News is Your New Binge Worthy Show

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Briga Heelan and Nicole Ritchie star in Great News now streaming on Netflix Australia

To kick this review off, I’ll just start off my saying Great News is…well…GREAT!  Low-ball comedy here from me but Great News comes to us from trusted stock in the form of Tracey Wigfield, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock – all familiar names to those who knew and loved (and still love) 30 Rock.  

The pedigree of those behind the scenes shines through in the cutting yet hilarious take on life behind the camera on The Breakdown, a nightly news program broadcast from New Jersey where executive producer Greg (Adam Campbell) has to deal with egotistical and old-school co-anchor Chuck Pierce (John-Michael Higgins) and his millenial co-host Portia (Nicole Richie) while news producer and lead character Katie Wendleson (Briga Heelan) is trying to vie for meatier stories to work on all the while dealing with her helicopter mom Carol (Andrea Martin) who has just been hired as an intern.

But don’t think that the mother-daughter relationship that plays between Katie who is dying to earn more respect and responsibilities at work and her overbearing mother Carol who has found her way into Katie’s work life as an intern is your usual sit-com fare as the snappy and quick witted script pushes this work place comedy into territory seen in Arrested Development (and of course 30 Rock) and the gone-too-soon Ground Floor and Cougar Town.

Martin’s Andrea, who has been out of the workforce for decades has been hired (out of spite by Greg) to be Chuck Pierce’s intern who, in similar age to Andrea, is struggling to keep relevant in a fast moving, technological era where news stories are delivered via Snap Chat and Facebook and becomes increasingly worried his age and lack of ability to keep up will be the end of his reporting career.  And I quote “Like, who is Snapchat and is he one of the Minions? And are they all Pokémen?”

The biggest shame surrounding Great News is the fact it only survived two seasons before being cancelled by NBC only to find a new life in the world of on-demand television on Netflix.

Check out the trailer below:

Great News season one is now streaming on Netflix Australia

‘Evil Genius’ – Netflix’s Newest Must-Watch Crime Series

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Brian Wells moments before his untimely death – Netflix

The True Crime genre love that has been drawing in viewers for some time now from Making a Murderer to The Keepers and The Staircase among others, has a new must-watch show featuring one of the most bizarre cases ever documented.  Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist recently dropped on Netflix and the four part documentary has enough of all the right genre ingredients for it to be binged in a single sit and leave us wanting more.

At the very base of this case is the town of Eerie, Pennsylvania and a pizza delivery driver named Brian Wells who robs a bank with a working walking cane gun (it’s literally something out of James Bond), a note demanding $250,000 – and a collar bomb around his neck.

After obtaining less than $9000, Wells leaves the bank, is apprehended and while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive, dies when said collar bomb explodes in one very graphic and horrific scene that has traumatized me since viewing. Moments after Well’s shocking death, it’s discovered he was on a scavenger hunt, following a map and instructions in order to defuse the Saw like collar bomb.

The web of this case begins to expand when one of Well’s co-workers mysteriously dies only days later and two people – Bill Rothstein and Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong – enter the fray with a third dead body sitting frozen in Rothstien’s chest freezer.

This fascinating case features master mind criminals, red herrings, crazy theories and law enforcement bungles – just as others in the genre have – but unlike those, the focus on the judicial system is just a haze as the unusual circumstances within this case are just too outlandish to not be put front and centre.

Of the two criminals in this case, Diehl-Armstrong is the only one still alive and the only one to actively communicate with director Trey Borzillieri about Well’s case and the ever expanding landscape that surrounds it.

Check out the trailer below:

Evil Genius is streaming now on Netflix Australia/New Zealand.

p.s – for fans of the genre’, the compelling The Staircase is coming to Netflix along with three all-new episodes starting on June 8th!

Queer Eye, Nailed It and More get Second Season Netflix Order!

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Streaming giant Netflix has given us all an early Easter present with the announcement of new seasons for some of our most binge worthy non-scripted shows!

Dope, Drug Lords, vintage toy docuseries The Toys That Made Ushilarious baking show Nailed it! and the Queer Eye reboot have all been given an additional series order by the service.

“These series are indicative of what we’re trying to accomplish for Netflix unscripted: working with world-class producers to create the best unscripted shows on television,” Bela Bajaria, vice president of content at Netflix, said. “These series elevate the genre with innovative takes on familiar formats. They deliver immersive and nuanced stories. They elicit so many emotions from viewers, from tears of laughter to tears of joy – and that’s just ‘Queer Eye.’”

No news as yet when we can expect the new episodes however The Toys That Made Us’ will have four more episodes from season one to drop shortly!

 

Pinterest Fails Come to Life in Netflix’s “Nailed It”

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When good cakes happen to bad bakers.  Image: Netflix

In the era of modern technology and instant ‘moment sharing’, cooking failures in the kitchen are no longer restricted to shamefully tossing out the food abomination one has created.  Pinterest Fails and #NailedIt hash tags allow us to poke a little fun at our kitchen disappointments and now, Netflix have gone one step further with a new fun filled baking show filled with ‘bakers’ just as inept at baking as most of us are.

Nailed it’, hosted by Nicole Byer, salutes all the wrongs we do in the kitchen by pitting three willing home chefs against each other in a two round bake-off where the aim is to re-create decadent and over-the-top baked goods (in what I feel is a very restricted amount of time), all for the chance to win $10,000 and the Nailed It trophy cup.

From kit kats in the microwave (when the recipe requires melted chocolate) to unflattering self portrait cookies to a President Donald Trump cake that looks like it has come directly out of your nightmares, Nailed It celebrates the fun in failing.

While the format is nothing really new and the contestant introductions feel like they’re on a daytime infomercial spruiking the latest in kitchen utensils, it is Nailed It’s judges that inject the life and festivity to the show.  Host Byers along with renowned chef Jacques Torres and an episodic special guest judge play along with the frivolity of the show and aren’t afraid to laugh at the baking results so much so, I believe the title of the show should actually be “I don’t mean to laugh but – “

While there is laughter at our bakers and their skills, there is no nastiness whatsoever.  Byers, Torres and the guest judge are encouraging and are even able to be called up to offer advice if one of the bakers press their allocated ‘panic’ button.

In the end, our bakers know they’re crap in the kitchen.  There’s no egos, no arguments and no casting of the villain role (hello MKR).  These bakers are here to have a good time, get some baking pointers and have a crack at possibly fluking a challenge to win the $10,000 prize.

Nailed It is currently streaming on Netflix Australia.

 

Netflix’s “Mortified Guide” is the Affirmation that we were all weird in High School.

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Netflix: Mortified Guide

We’re all freaks, we’re all fragile, and we all survived.  This tagline for Netflix’s docuseries ‘Mortified Guide’  rings true for all us 30-something year old’s who can remember the awkward, angst ridden life we all lived ‘back in the day’ of our teen years and the dairy entries that accommodated those life defining moments.

The six episode series takes heed from a generalized topic such as “The Mortified Guide to Fitting In” and “The Mortified Guide to Pop Culture” among others and puts willing participants on stage, in front of a live audience, to read aloud actual diary entries written in the moments of rage, love, happiness and oblivion.

Think of it as a live action, modern day version of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

The beauty behind Mortified Guide is just how affirming it is to know that what we experienced and felt and believed all those years ago, mimics that of pretty much everyone else and that is in thanks to how Mortified Guide is presented.

This is about the celebration of our awkward years, the celebration about how inept we all really were about love and sex and family and well….pretty much life in general and the celebration of how we all saw this and interpreted it into written form.

Each of the six episodes offer plenty of standout diary moments including a re-telling of a very erotic story written about an encounter with Jon Bon Jovi in the high school corridors, a star trek obsessed lad who wrote his diary entries in the form of ‘captains logs’, one girls attempt to get popular with online fanfic readers with her clueless homo-erotic Harry Potter fan fiction and my personal favorite – episode one’s closing of two life long friends re-enacting their old MSN chats where being friend-zoned is painfully hilarious.

There’s so much warmth to this awkward humor, so much so that you’ll be encouraged to pull out your own teenage journal from the back of wardrobe and cringe a little less than the last time you read it.

And so rings true it does, the shows tagline “We’re all freaks, we’re all fragile, and we all survived.”

Mortified Guide To is now streaming on Netflix Australia

 

The History Behind Iconic Toys in Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us.

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Star Wars toys remain a big draw card for kids and adult collectors.

Every year around early December, it becomes clear that there is that one ‘must have’ toy that needs to under the Christmas tree ready for opening on December 25th. From Furbies to Tamagotchi’s to last years ‘Hatchimals‘ and to this years current fad of ‘LOL Surprise Dolls‘ these toys bring in big money for the toy companies that make and sell them and while hugely popular they may be, they don’t hold the interest or the market nearly as long as some iconic toy lines did in the early 80’s to the mid to late 90’s.

The new Netflix documentary series The Toys That Made Us takes a long hard and sometimes dark look behind a collection of the most iconic toys that helped shape companies like Mattel and Hasbro to what they are today.

The eight episode season one (four episodes are currently live for streaming with the following four to come in early 2018) offers a look at the early stages of mega lines like Barbie, GI Joe, He-Man and Star Wars and the sometimes chaotic and spur of the moment thinking that brought about some of our childhood’s most beloved characters, designs and the brilliant marketing behind these that made these toys still as relevant today as they were when they started out.

Mattel - 2016 New York Toy Fair
Barbie’s origin is explored in depth and it’s quite racy!

Each episode (that runs at about the 45 minute mark) features vintage adverts, interviews with creators, designers and many many others involved with the creation of these toys with each episode (aired so far) showcasing the numerous minds behind these lines and the confusion (or difference of opinion) everyone seems to suffer from on just who should be credited with the creation of these toys.

The next four episodes are scheduled for early 2016 and feature Transformers, Hello Kitty, Star Trek, and LEGO with a second season already in the planning stages though what will be covered is still unknown.

Some suggestions though for season two:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Playmates / 1988 – present.

Original Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Originating as a comic book series, the action figure line by Playmates featuring four ninja trained turtles and their news reporter friend became a mega hit with kids and saw the company hit gold, releasing countless waves of variations of the four main characters and almost every single side character ever featured in the comics, animated series and live action movies.  Today, mint carded original figures sell for big dollars.

The X-Men: Toybiz / 1991 – 1998

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 After acquiring an exclusive license to Marvel Characters in 1993, toy company Toybiz set about releasing the first ever in-depth line of X-men and Marvel action figures that featured everything from 6″ figures to 10″ figures, vehicles, playsets and 12″ fashion dolls.  Characters like Wolverine saw 7 different variations, Storm featured a light up lightning bolt on her chest and so big was the line, lesser known characters like Kylun (who featured *barely* in the pages of X-Men side comic Excalibur) were even produced.

Value in original carded figures remains steady – pending the figure – at around the $20-$40 mark.

Celebrity Dolls: Mego / 1976 to 1978.

8861676521_e88590a1e7In 1976, Mego Corporation saw an opportunity to finally take on the massive Barbie market by producing a line of 12″ celebrity dolls with the first two off the ranks being Sonny and Cher dolls to coincide with their hugely popular Prime Time Variety Show.  The Cher doll featured an incredible 32 piece wardrobe designed by Bob Mackie and became the number one selling doll that year.  Off that success, other dolls including Captain and Tenille, Laverne and Shirley, Dianna Ross, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Suzanne Somers were all released.  After shifting their focus to electronic toys in the late 70’s to early 80’s Mego filed for Bankruptcy and closed in 1983.

Original boxed Cher dolls, fashions and playsets can fetch anywhere between $60 to $400.

The Toys That Made Us is now streaming on Netflix Australia.

Amy Schumer’s Leather Special Keeps with the Schumer we Know All Too Well.

AmySNetflix1When it comes to comedian Amy Schumer and her stand-up comedy shows, we pretty much know what we’re going to get.  Themes of self depreciation, sex, fat jokes and offering her own take on the vagina monologues are constant in Schumers work, so much so, when bursting onto the scene, she was applauded for delving into those ‘no-go’ topics.

Now a best selling author and big screen actress (Trainwreck and the upcoming Snatched with Goldie Hawn), the jokes and topics that found Amy stardom continue to pull her along the dark and vulgar path she’s traveled down many a time before.  In her most recent outing for Netflix titled Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, jokes about her feminine hygiene, copious amounts of alcohol and oral sex are once again present and feel somewhat ‘old-school’ Amy Schumer and by old-school, I mean the Amy we first met back in 2014 when Inside Amy Schumer began to gain traction for being a very on point and wickedly blunt comedic sketch show.

Schumer, as witnessed in The Leather Special, rarely strays away from topics that seem to hit with audiences and while topics such as double standard within Hollywood, female sexuality and empowerment and body insecurities are tackled, there’s an uneasy feeling of ‘heard this once before’ as these topics feel rehashed but with added vagina.

But all is not lost for Amy as among all the smut and vomit jokes, she manages to set aside her vagina for a moment and approach the hot topic of gun control, a subject close to Schumer after a gunman (in 2015) opened fire in a cinema showing her film Trainwreck in which two people were killed and nine other injured.

It’s a sidestep into the real world that will undoubtedly get people talking and divide audiences (the special briefly cuts to a small number of audience members walking out when gun control is mocked) but also one that she should visit a bit more often as sadly, this ‘raunch comedy’ that has become so synonymous with Schumer has me fearing that she may never get out of this sexual gag cycle.

Amy Schumer: The Leather Special is currently streaming on Netflix.