Sunday, January 03, 2016

to binge is human, to list ... also human

As we crest into January, I am stepping back from my normal practice of listing top music of the past year. I didn't really listen to a lot of new music in 2015, nor did I go to that many concerts.

But being an unrepentant list-maker, I have to rank something to commemorate the turning of the calendar. And while I may not have listened to much in 2015, I sure did binge-watch. And DAMN if there weren't some great series to eye-guzzle on the old Netflix this past year!

Here, then, are my favourite Netflix series that invaded my chesterfield nest in 2015:

1.  The Bridge

I pretty much had to toss a coin to decide between the first and second ranked shows, but in the end this Danish-Swedish co-production featuring a mesmerizing Asperger-ish police detective took the honours. The series begins with the discovery of a corpse in the middle of the bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden, placed precisely on the border. The Bridge is rivetting, at times cringe-inducing, and over way too soon.

2.  Luther

British crime drama featuring the eminently watchable Idris Elba as DCI John Luther, a brilliant, but self-destructive, investigator. I especially loved the twisted thrust and parry between Luther and his equally brilliant nemesis Alice Morgan. 

3.  The Fall

Here again, numbers three, four and five were neck and neck in their ability to hold me hostage on the couch and destroy my blink reflex. I pretty much had to draw straws here. 

The Fall is an elegant and terrifying psychological murder drama set in Belfast. Gillian Anderson is Stella Gibson, brought in from the Metropolitan Police to act as DSI. She proves without a doubt that Scully is all grown up and still not taking any shit from anybody.

4.  The Killing

I would love to see the original Danish series, because nobody does murder like the Scandinavians, but this American adaptation is utterly gripping. Set in one of my favourite cities, the moody rain-drenched Seattle, it's filmed largely in Vancouver, so there is the added fun of looking for recognizable landmarks. A few too many red herrings were thrown into season one, but the tension between the two damaged police investigators means all is forgiven.

5.  Broadchurch

Equal parts charming and heart-wrenching, Broadchurch is set in a close-knit English coastal town, where the murder of a young boy threatens to tear apart the threads of the community. Not being a Whovian, I didn't realize at first the significance of David Tennant playing the role of the taciturn inspector from away who takes over the investigation. But his snarling Scottish brogue soon had me convinced.

6.  Dicte

Evidently I hold Scandinavian tv series to higher standards than I do North American ones, because I was quite shocked to realize that this Danish show is actually a little formulaic. Despite its "plucky lady reporter solves crimes" stereotype, however, Dicte is really very charming. I liked the characters, the friendships, the laid-back sexuality and easygoing partner-swapping. Heck, I even liked dancing to the cheesy theme music.

7.  Wallander

Again, I would love to see the original series, but this British remake of a Swedish crime drama is really good. I appreciate that they maintained the Swedish setting, instead of trying to wedge it into Sussex or California, even though it is a little disconcerting to have all the Swedes speak with British accents. Damned enthralling show, though.

8.  Lilyhammer

NYC mobster turns witness and gets relocated to Norway to protect him from retaliation. Need I say more? A light-hearted, hilarious fish-out-of-water series.

9.  Death in Paradise

Another fish-out-of-water, in a different ocean. A British police inspector, who only wants a decent cup of tea and a nice beef roast on Sundays, is transferred to a small Caribbean island. He hates it. The Spousal Unit refers to this show as "our generation's Matlock". The beaches are pristine and the murders are squeaky-clean and solved at the end of each episode. It's utter escapism.

Evidently, I did a lot of Netflixing in 2015. With River, Narcos and Hinterland queued up on the old viewing machine, I see no reason to change anything for 2016.

What have you been eye-guzzling? Any recommendations? 


Karen said...

I LOVED The Bridge and Broadchurch! Haven't got around to seeing Luther or Dicte yet. You're definitely correct about Scandinavians and murder ;) have you watched Making a Murderer yet??

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I completely forgot about Making a Murderer, Karen. That one is most definitely on my list.
I am starting to understand why you love winter so much.

John Mutford said...

I've heard good things about Making a Murderer. I should give it a go. I wish I could say I've watched anything on your list. Alas, I haven't. Last year's Netflix hits for us were the Unbreakable Kmmy Schmidt and Master of None. I personally loved Daredevil and am halfway through Jessica Jones as loving that as much. Can't convince Debbie to give them a shot though.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've been hearing good things about Master of None as well, John, but the rest of a bit off my radar. I can't imagine you have a lot of spare time for Netflixing these days.

Erik Donald France said...

Good stuff, indeed. I've some idea of some of these, through sampling.

New ones this year that I've dug include: 'Fargo' (Season 2), 'Better Call Saul.'

Am sampling 'The Americans' seasons 1-2, and still checking out 'The Shield' to study episodes from time to time.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Good list, Erik. I keep meaning to check out "Fargo", especially as it is filmed right here in Calgary. I absolutely love "Better Call Saul" - one of the most successful spin-offs ever!