This week in Next on Netflix, Tom recommends three very different shows currently available on Netflix.
Couple Archer’s machine-gun wit with Alan Partridge’s outdated-celebrity-with-misjudged-sense-of-importance and you’ve got the latest, animated Netflix Original, BoJack Horseman. Set in a world where humans and anthropomorphised animals coexist, washed-up star of 90’s family sitcom Horsin’ Around BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) is attempting to bounce back with a tell-all memoir and minimum effort. When his publisher (a penguin, naturally) assigns him a ghost-writer Diane he stumbles from scandal (stealing the D of the Hollywood sign?) to madcap plan (creating a rock opera) dragging along cat agent Princess Carolyn, human slacker houseguest Todd and dog actor/rival and Diane’s boy(?)friend Mr Peanutbutter for the
“Why is it that 90% of our conversations these days revolve around plotting sabotages?” “Are you saying I should plot a countersabotage?”
With mildly surreal storylines and a superb voice cast (including Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Amy Sedaris, Patton Oswalt and Stanley Tucci), the show substantially improves over the course of its first season (another has been commissioned), getting funnier and less frivolous along the way, as well as finding time for some subtle satirical jabs.
The Thick of It
With Peter Capaldi beginning his run as another iconic character, now is the perfect time to (re)visit his first towering portrayal in The Thick of It, the BBC’s modern comedy classic. Ostensibly an ensemble piece, showing a political department so distracted by public appearances, lost data and manipulating their way to the top that the actual running of the country often takes a back seat (yet sympathetically; one can’t help but recognise that the reality can’t be far from this, as even the people with the best intentions are stuck between a rock and a public scandal), the undisputed fact is the show revolves around spin doctor and walking f-bomb Malcolm Tucker.
“Do you know ninety percent of household dust is made of dead human skin? That’s what you are, to me.”
In the beginning his relatively minor appearances are an invigorating and welcome hurricane through a hallway, but as his presence becomes more constant, the human beneath is glimpsed and it’s clear he’s not the antihero, just the only one who puts the party before its members’ self-interests. In fact it’d really all be worth watching for nothing other than the hour long penultimate episode of the show, involving a powerhouse final speech from Capaldi. If you’ve not seen it, in the words of Tucker himself, sort it or abort it…
Top of the Lake
When a twelve year old school girl tries to drown herself in the titular body of water, the police find her pregnant and this leads troubled detective Robin Griffin (the excellent Elisabeth Moss) into suspicious families, traumatic memories and sexual exploitation. And all this before the girl goes missing. So far, so standard. But to reveal any more of the plot beyond would be to detract from the slow-burn surprises the show revels in delivering. Such a deliberately paced show has the potential to come across dry and boring. Whereas the tension in a show like Breaking Bad builds to some form of dramatic crescendo virtually every scene, the tension in TOTL simmers perpetually with uneasy dread, akin to Twin Peaks, the connection compounded by the inclusion of bizarre community and incredible scenery.
“Oh, I remember the detective. So, you are on your knees? Good. Now die to yourself. To your idea of yourself. Everything you think you are, you are not. What’s left? Find out.”
Creators Jane Campion (The Piano) and Gerard Lee could have just relayed a basic mystery with ease, but instead deal with issues of masculinity and its interactions with women to an extent and in a manner atypical of similar shows, to its credit. Sterling naturalistic performances and a focus on the raw elemental forces surrounding these tiny people and their tragedies are what linger in the mind the longest after viewing. Taking unoriginal base components, Campion and Lee create one of the stand-out series of the decade.