Has Netflix lost its mojo?

10 January 2018 | Ents/TV

Netflix has been my main source of television entertainment since 2014 and I’ve spent a lot of time enjoying many boxed sets, but recently things seem to have taken a bit of a downturn – or is it my imagination?

During 2017 I worked my way through some great television, top of the list being Stranger Things. Some programmes, like Medici, grew on me, especially when I watched them a second time. Others I was very excited about, like Star Trek Discovery, but which initially proved to be disappointing but eventually became excellent.

Stranger Things will probably stay as my ‘best of 2017’ for a while, much as The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul were in previous years. It’s a great story with great photography, good special effects and good acting. Four boys with very different personalities are pitted against a strange and dark underworld that exists beneath our own, and which is inhabited by dark, shadowy and really quite scary creatures. It’s great fun and even series two was good, so let’s hope there is a series three.

Medici was quite good on first watching. I watched it again after the Apple 4K HDR TV was released, and the cinematography is truly stunning; how did they get those perfect period images of Florence?

I love Star Trek. I’ve watched it since the 60’s so was pleased – and surprised – to see a new Netflix series launched in 2017. However, the first episode did not work for me. I was not invested in any of the characters and the story was dull. The second episode was not much better. But by episode 3 I was totally hooked. As soon as Michael Burnham became the main character and her story became interesting I was well and truly absorbed. Sonequa Martin-Green is very good. At first I couldn’t quite figure out why she was so familiar, until I remembered her from The Walking Dead, one of the greatest TV series of the last decade or so. She is a very different person in Star Trek Discovery. For me, this is one of the indications of a great actor – playing two very different roles so well that it is hard to believe it is the same person playing them. I found myself REALLY rooting for her; I want her to succeed against all the odds stacked against her. I want her to win. For me, this is Jean-Luc Picard mark 2. I can’t wait to get through the rest of series 2.

Since about November last year I’ve sat myself down in front of the TV and gone to Netflix as usual, but I haven’t really found anything that grabs me. It feels as if I’ve exhausted their catalogue. Glitch, 12 Monkeys, The Expanse, Jessica Jones, Timeless, Person of Interest and OA were all good, but where is the new stuff to replace them? I’m very pleased to hear that Jessica Jones will be back for series 2 in the next few weeks or so, but what about the rest? I’ve dipped my toe into a few of the new ones but nothing really grabs my attention or stands out in any way. Some of the new crop – like Salvation – seem to have such dull story lines that I can’t even be bothered to watch a few minutes of episode 1. I mean, asteroids colliding with Earth – that is really hackneyed and dull.

In some ways the recent lull in Netflix quality has been a good thing. I’ve re-discovered the pleasures of British drama, and it doesn’t get much better than Endeavour and Taboo.


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