Features & News

Next on Netflix #15

With less than a month remaining until the new semester gets started, we’ve got some suggestions for you to cram in before your summer of Netflix is departed. Bharat bestows the latest in our next best recommendations on Netflix.

X-Men

X-Men

Considered a catalyst for 90’s comic book cartoon adaptations, X-Men: The Animated Series, as its also known, proved to networks and naysayers that Saturday morning superhero stories could be faithful to their scribbly source material, appealing to all ages, and most importantly, entertaining.

Broadcast on the FOX Network from 1992-1997, Netflix UK is currently streaming three of the show’s five seasons. Although X-Men aired during the Fox Kids slot of the network’s line-up, the series accommodates to all ages, with its hilariously cheesy but innocent 90’s dialogue, fun action sequences, yet mature handling of the core issues of the comics, including bigotry, marginalisation and ethical struggles that encompass the conflict between mutants and their less evolved kin.

X-Men was also a landmark show, with its first two seasons boasting season-long arcs for viewers to follow, a relatively unheard of practice in animated television in the early 90s, particularly those with a younger demographic. This revolutionary evolution in animated storytelling gives X-Men an unexpected depth, shared fittingly with its iconic characters, from Beast’s witty literary references, badassery from Rogue, and clashing personalities of Cyclops and Wolverine.

Season three unfortunately confines itself to a conundrum of continuity, substituting an overarching plot with a more episodic and sporadically serialised approach, introducing intergalactic elements along the way which left little room for more grounded themes and appearances from Magneto. Even so, the show remains super, with “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and latter episodes featuring Iceman and Nightcrawler introducing some X-citing struggles for the team to tackle.

Anyone with an interest in X-Men, whether it be the film series, comics or even colouring books, should naturally select this animated series as they evolve through the final stages of summer Netflix consumption.

Undercover Brother

Undercover Brother

Based on an internet animated series of the same name, Undercover Brother brings together its secret agent main character, also going by that name, with The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D, a private organisation determined to thwart “The Man” from his ongoing plan of oppressing black culture and representation in the United States.

Lampooning blaxploitation movies as well as the convenience of the spy genre, Undercover Brother contains a satirically silly yet smart sense of humour, implementing clichéd caricatures of action scenes with car chases and fight sequences, for the sole purpose of demolishing our expectations of them with unexpected punch lines; most memorably “I just bought those!” (You’ll get it once you watch the film).

Undercover Brother also invites a discussion about domestic American racial/cultural relations, albeit in a comedy-driven rather than serious manner. The internal tropes separating “black culture” and “white culture” such as James Brown’s music and the sitcom Friends respectively within The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D, spark some hilarious exchanges, particularly between Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chappelle) and Lance (Neil Patrick Harris). Concerning how we actually define culture by race in an arbitrary way, the film has something to say, and does it amiably.

With a wicked funky soundtrack featuring Brown, Kool & the Gang, Parliament, and Michael Jackson to contrast the “white music”, the Malcolm D. Lee comedy is absolutely assured of what it wants to be: an astutely amplified analysis of American cultural expression.

Funny, funky and intentionally flawed, there is no other, like Undercover Brother.

Luther

Luther

This Sherlock-inspired serial crime drama from the BBC investigates the complex psyche of its titular Detective Chief Inspector of the London police. Starring Idris Elba in the title role (first name John), Luther breaches the intellectual and physical expectations of his job description, much of the time breaking as many laws as he seeks to prevent.

The series’ opening scene immediately establishes the driving force of the show: what lengths will Luther go to in order to ensure his idea of justice has been served? Working in the Serious Crimes Unit, he is ruthlessly committed to his duty as a detective, often leading to mental instability, domestic issues and questionable decision-making.

Even with only 14 hour-long episodes over its completed 3 seasons, Luther consistently provokes the viewer to question their own hypothetical actions in the scenarios Luther puts himself in. This is thanks to Idris Elba’s gargantuan presence in the series, as we instantly build a rapport even with his perhaps distantly intense ethical standards, genius mind and violent tendencies.

Without Elba, this police procedural would probably not be as notable. Elba’s enthralling performances, episode to episode, make up for the series’ one flaw of forced, predictable, clichéd romantic subplots. Regardless, credit is also due to the inverted detective story style that permits a level of depth and insight into the brutal baddies, as well as Warren Brown as DS Ripley, playing a likeable Robin to Luther’s Batman, though that sidekick role sometimes squanders to Ruth Wilson’s charming dominance amongst the supporting cast.

With a feature film for Luther currently in production according to series creator Neil Cross, this TV series isn’t to be neglected on your navigation through Netflix.

Bharat Samra

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Features & NewsFilm & TV

Writer and Editor for the Film & TV section of Impact, Bharat is a keen previewer, reviewer and sometimes just viewer, of all things cinematic and televisual, with a particular passion for biographical pictures, adaptations and sitcoms.

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