Saturday, December 10, 2016

What to Binge Over the Holidays - The Streaming Edition

1. STRANGER THINGS (scifi) If you like The Goonies and E.T. and all things 1980s, this X-Files flavored break-out drama is just what the doctor ordered. It's one of the best things I saw in 2016 and show-runners are hard at work on a second season now. There's a monster, but the scare factor was mild in my opinion. The rating is TV-14. NETFLIX - 1 Season available to stream instantly.

2. JOHNATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL (historical fantasy) For me, this charming 7-episode adaptation of the novel of the same name was better than the book! Fans of Harry Potter and alternate history may take an episode or two to become fully invested, but will eventually be completely hooked by the antics of the last remaining practical magicians in England as they stave off Napoleon and a powerful trickster. NETFLIX - One season and the series is drawn to a satisfying conclusion.

3. DAREDEVIL (comic book action) Action fans rejoice. We rarely see John Wick level fight choreography on the small Netflix considered the small screen? At any rate, this on-going series delivers bone-crunching action as a young, blind lawyer comes into his own as a masked vigilante. Marvel True Believers will quake with glee as Daredevil's tutor, Stick, is finally seen in all his live action glory. Yes, there's a Punisher and an Elekta (oh-my-gosh-and-the-HAND!) as well. I hear LUKE CAGE is also all that and a bag of wonderful, but alas, I've not gotten to that one yet. NETFLIX.

4. GRANTCHESTER (historical detective drama) If there is a gaping hole in your heart left in the wake of Downtown Abbey's cancellation, Grantchester can fill it. When a young British vicar joins forces with a 1940s local copper, the two find they work well together solving crimes. AMAZON PRIME- There are currently 3 seasons, only 2 of which are available to stream. A 4th season is in the works.

5. MARCELLA (detective drama) Sorry if you start to see a theme, but I adore British and Danish cop stories. In the first season of Marcella we meet a tough lady cop on the verge of losing her family as she hunts a killer. The catch? The stress is causing black outs and the sketchy memories and flashes she does have suggest...she may be the killer she's hunting! NETFLIX. Note: If you dig Marcella, you'll like PARANOIA, also on Netflix. Who is my favorite British detective? That's tough, but I have to say Edris Elba as LUTHER. Guess what. You can also find him on Netflix.

6. THE CROWN (historical drama) How does a young girl ascend to the role of Queen? This is Queen Elizabeth's story. John Lithgow's turn as Winston Churchill will definitely draw award nominations. Netflix has stepped up its game in 2016. This series is compelling and even beautiful. Take note, fans of Out of Africa, and if you can, please watch the film, The King's Speech, prior to devouring The Crown.

7. BIG EYES (true story) Hey, there are movies on Netflix, too! This is the true story of "kitsch" artist Margaret Keane, whose husband took credit for her paintings for decades. There's a touch of whimsy in the film thanks to director Tim Burton, but that added charm for me and the added challenge of hunting Burton-esque Easter eggs. Christoph Waltz fans get to see the divine actor play another smiling villain. If you enjoyed Jack Black in BERNIE (another true story BTW), this may be for you.

8. BRAINDEAD (political dram-edy/ scifi) There aren't many comedies out there that don't either insult your intelligence or include ridiculously raunchy hi-jinks or unrealistic sitcom families. This gem is definitely a unique stand-out. Have you ever wondered why our politicians are so crazy? Could it be that tiny alien ants have taken over their brains? Amazon Prime is streaming BRAINDEAD now for fans of The Good Wife, The X-files and Monk. Its one season which comes to a full conclusion. Bonus: I adore actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Head to Redbox and see her in 10 Cloverfield Lane (JJ Abram's tense John Goodman thriller film) NOW if you haven't already. I've seen this movie twice this year!

10. DEPARTMENT Q (gritty crime thriller) I can't very well mention Danish cop shows and not have one on this list. For fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and more traditional detective procedurals, I give you the three films THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES (the best one), THE ABSENT ONE (also good), and A CONSPIRACY OF FAITH (the weaker of the three). And you can stream them on Netflix now, so long as you don't mind reading subtitles. A down on his luck cop is banished to the basement Cold Case unit, where he stumbles upon the file of a missing woman who may just be alive and under the harsh imprisonment of a driven madman. Note: Once you grow accustomed to the subtitles and edge-of-your seat suspense, dive into HINTERLAND, also on Netflix. If you prefer a good, old-fashioned American detective (even if portrayed by an Aussie), check out LONGMIRE, the modern-day Western.

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