The Netflix TV Show Thread

Second season of the Belgian show La Treve (The Break) is up on Netflix. The first season was very good.

Just finished Russian Doll this evening. Very clever, and it was more thought provoking than I had expected. I dig the creativity that comes with these shorter projects (e.g. Maniac). Not everything needs to be six seasons and a movie.

Apparently they’re planning further seasons, which is really too bad. It thought it ended perfectly, just as it is.

I guess I don’t have to watch any further, though, so whatever.

I think this is a series, so it goes here. Trailer just dropped for a David Fincher animated Sci-Fi anthology series, debuting March 15th, LOVE DEATH+ROBOTS. It’s a bit crazy and all over the place, style-wise. Reminds me of the Animatrix. Apparently mildly NSFW (RED BAND WARNING when it starts). Looks like fun.

That looks exactly like Animatrix. I’ll definitely check that out.

Two episodes in, I enjoy the casting a lot but nothing else about the show excites me much yet.

It’s a weird mix on the production side. It doesn’t seem low-budget. There’s a pretty solid looking digital monkey character, good use of other more subtle effects, sets look nice, etc. They also clearly budgeted for music licensing, but that’s where things start to go wrong for me.

My Chemical Romance always had a sort of Hot Topic goth-y aesthetic I approached assuming I would hate but actually really dug. I don’t know how to articulate it other than to say they had a flair and style that worked for me, and as lead singer Gerard Way wrote the Umbrella Academy comic (co-creating it with artist Gabriel Ba), something of his artistic sensibilities came through and resonated with me there too.

None of that flair makes it to the screen in the TV show. The notable musical numbers so far are a Tiffany song, and distractingly edited* versions of Istanbul by TMBG and Don’t Stop Me by Queen. All fine (even great) songs, but none of the scenes feel like they’re doing anything other than ticking a checkbox on some design doc Way created but had no control over in production. “Include cool music” was the directive, and it was handed off to someone with dull taste and no sense of when and why they should pick the songs they picked.

I’m coming down pretty hard on those couple of musical choices and it’s only two episodes in, so I should probably reserve judgement. I’m still glad to see any adaption at all off this weird little niche comic that was popular a decade ago. But right now I’m just projecting the magic of the comic onto the safely executed but uninspired production of the show.

*the cutting up of the songs really bugs me, but that’s pretty common. So I know I shouldn’t hold that against the show too aggressively, but it just drives me nuts when a TV or movie scene goes to a song I know and then starts making jumps to the chorus too soon or skips verses or whatever. If you want to see this done right, watch this scene from season one of Legion (no revelatory spoilers, if you’re not familiar with the show you won’t even have the context to understand what’s going on well enough to have much spoiled should you watch it later on). If you want to see it done wrong, watch pretty much any other show.

anyone else watched homicide? im mid-series and its weird as fuck.

I assume that’s a different series than the old one with Yaphet Koto?

I am an idiot. I mean maniac… with jonah hill and emma stone

Maniac was a bit uneven at times but overall I liked it. It has lots of clever touches that make up for some of its shortcomings.

(on Umbrella Academy)

I just wrapped up episode 3 myself and I’m enjoying it. I was just wishing we’d get a little more action and then episode 3 delivered that, and had some fun twists.

I can’t really comment on the music - if I hadn’t read your post I wouldn’t have given the music a second thought. Shows have background music during big scenes, so to me this is the same as anything else I’ve seen, from I’d Love to Change the World playing during the 100th episode of Person of Interest to any time a guitar riff is heard during an action sequence in Mad Max. I guess I only notice when it’s a song I don’t care for, which is pretty rare in these kinds of things, now that I think of it. Though, I could have done with a lot less musical numbers in S1 and 2 of Luke Cage. I’ll never stop bitching about that.

For correctness, that is not a Tiffany song, that was written by Ritchie Cordell and originally released by Tommy James and the Shondells and covered by Tiffany. Gotta give credit to original artist. I’m with you on the whole song chopping stuff. It can be a bit jarring sometime. And definitely agree with referring to Legion to see how music is properly used in a show. They had several great scenes where they have done that. Their use of Behind Blue Eyes during a psychic battle was very cool.

Laziness on my part, I know and prefer the original version and actually wouldn’t have been able to say for certain who covered it if you asked a week ago. But I just saw someone else identify it as the Tiffany cover so that was fresh in my mind. I don’t begrudge the correction!

I’m glad Netflix is so aggressive in marketing their new shows to existing users. Without that, I would have carried on thinking Umbrella Academy was somehow related to Resident Evil. But it’s got nothing to do with it. Looks more like a Professor X’s academy place from the X men.

I’m on episode 4 or 5, and I actually like the musical selections, though I find MCR insipid and annoying, so I might just be your polar opposite. I do understand the hate for chopping up songs on a conceptual level, but recognize the practical use for it, and can accept it well enough in the moment. But I digress.

Take that Tiffany track (yeah, I know) , for example. Forgiving the fact that being born in 1989, all of them would have been far too young for it to mean anything to them (much less to have it on vinyl!) the way it was shot, and with the dolls-house view pulling out, told us about their relationship to each other, their dad and mom, and the lyrics were a nice point on that. Most of the music has been like that. Perhaps I’m just easily entertained.

I watched Episode 1 of Umbrella Academy. Unfortunately it reminds me a lot of the Marvel Netflix shows. Here we have a large episode in which very little actually happens. The only entertaining part of the episode are flashbacks to 17 years ago, and the two songs.

Also, that song’s not originally by Tiffany? That’s disappointing. I hope Istanbul was originally by They Might be Giants, at least.

Anyway, the action scenes remind me a lot of Daredevil, in that I’m not quite bored enough to want to fast forward, but not quite interested enough to actually pay attention.

Oh well, hopefully the show will get more interesting. I’ll give it one more episode. If it keeps feeling like Daredevil, I’m out.

I had always thought it was but apparently not.

We’re 2 episode in with The Umbrella Academy. Seems fine so far, if a bit slow. I don’t know if it’s just us, but the lighting is really dark and shadowy to the point it’s hard to see the characters and what they are doing. The characters are either in complete or partial shadow or in front of a very bright back light so they’re washed out. The only other show I’ve seen that looked like this is the Sabrina reboot. Everything else we watch on Netflix and anywhere else is fine.

Since my last post I’ve watched the third episode of Umbrella Academy, and re-read volume 1 of the comic (which I’m assuming is more or less what the first season covers).

I like the cast more and more, they’re really all pretty great with the possible exception of Ellen Page. She’s just kind of moping around, which may be the character’s fault, but so far she’s the boring center of a much more interesting cast.

I definitely forgot a lot from the comic. I hope the show is just taking its time to ease into some of the crazier comic things rather than ignoring them all together. Zombie Robot Gustav Eiffel attacking Paris as he tries to operate the Eiffel Tower (which was of course actually a spaceship) in the comic was a much more opening set piece for the students than thwarting a bank robbery on the show.

I also completely forgot that Hargreeves was an alien. That’s casually revealed in the very beginning of the first issue of the comic, but doesn’t actually affect the plot directly, so I wonder if that will come up at all in season one of the show.

We watch Netflix on a Roku enabled TV. I discovered that Netflix was overriding my TV settings and for some shows (like The Umbrella Academy) setting it to something called “Dolby Dark” which is supposed to emulate a theatrical visual experience. Except for us is was just horribly dark. I reset it back to Normal and now everything looks great. I take back what I said about The Umbrella Academy. It looks just fine.