Ode to Netflix
Netflix is an empire on the rise with one hit show after the next. They have revolutionized binge-watching. And I have proudly done my part in said revolution. I'm a natural born homebody, then Netflix entered my life and all hope of entering the outside world was lost. But how can you deny the joy of engulfing yourself in a new original series like Orange is the New Black or House of Cards? Netflix has made their mark in the renaissance of of the TV show. Now inspiring streaming competitors like Amazon and Yahoo Screen to make original series' of their own, we are truly in the dawn of the new-age of entertainment programming.
-I've become so accustomed to watching new shows in their entirety (often times in one sitting/weekend) I've almost forgotten what its like to watch just one episode a week.
SO, this will be where I share my binge-ventures. I will give reviews, a synopsis here and there and hopefully help you find your next obsession so you can binge along with me.
This week on Confessions of a Binge-Watcher
Once upon a time last weekend, while mindlessly scrolling through my Netflix account I noticed all these new shows I hadn't paid attention to before. I'll be honest the last however many times I had signed in I either went straight for the Documentaries, or to Recently Watched for Bobs Burgers or (MOST recently) Orange is the New Black. Suddenly I noticed all these little red NETFLIX and NEW EPISODES symbols on the thumbnails. But one of the thumbnails wasn't like the others, next to NEW EPISODES read the word WEEKLY. "What is the meaning of this?!" I wondered. Intrigued I selected the thumbnail to read the synopsis. It sounded interesting but I just wasn't sure if I was really ready to dedicate myself to this new show. And only 4 episodes available? I would have to wait each week to continue the series?! That's a tall order for serial binger such as myself. I scrolled to the trailer and pressed play, so began my journey into: B E T W E E N. . . .
OKAY, so I still haven't decided if it was a mistake watching the trailer or not. (I'll post it later in case you want to give it a try.) but I should admit it still didn't hinder me form watching all 4 available episodes in one sitting (naturally). Anyways, here's some info before I get nitpicky and complain.
- A few familiar faces: Wiley played by a miss Jennette McCurdy, from nickelodeons iCarly, and spinoff Sam & Cat. Adam is Jesse Carere aka Chris Collins from the US version of Skins. And Tracey one of the "creekers" in the show was Lizzie in Life with Derek when she was younger.
- Everyone over the age of 21 in the small town of Pretty Lake is rapidly dying from some mystery disease.
(It's strange it's just a sudden bloody bile oozing from peoples mouths and suddenly they're dead. but I guess there's not much you can do when you're going for a completely new disease that doesn't really resemble any existing virus. )
- The entire town is fenced in on a high security quarantine to prevent a national epidemic.
(Everything outside is very hush hush. The media paints a picture as if the government is helping but its not hard to see whats really going on.)
It turns a bit modern day Lord of the Flies, a heirarchy quickly forms. Much of what you would expect; Chuck the rich jock and his team mates become the Law (they're a hockey team, theres your sign or Red (and white) flag that this is a largely Canadian production.) Gord The farm boy is the level headed peacekeeper and Pat, Tracey and Ronnie the kids from the other side of the tracks or "creekers" as they're referred to are made out to be the no good troublemakers you just can't trust. There's randomly a mennonite. And Adam is the genius that everyone expects to know everything, but also don't entirely trust cause he's a bit of a conspiracy theorist.
Those are the basics to know. The good thing is I believe all of my complaints from the trailer happened in the first episode. Which brings me to my first note/piece of advice.
- Pilot episodes are notoriously ROUGH. Power through them and continue through at least episode 2 or 3 before you totally write off a show.
It's not unheard of to have an amazing Pilot episode. I mean the pilot is the first impression, so if we had nothing but bad first impressions constantly no show would ever have a 2nd episode. But even "good" pilots pale in comparison to the later episodes when a show really hits it's mark. For instance, I think all I ever heard about Parks & Rec before I finally started watching it was "Just get through the first season, I promise it gets better." PARKS AND REC! That show has become a comedy lovers national treasure! But yea it had a rough start (I think it was also judged more harshly when it first came out because we were all mourning The Office as it was on it's way out. Bad timing.) All shows go through growing pains. All shows go through numerous writers. And it is precisely the writing where the pilot episode of Between struggled.
What were my fore mentioned complaints you ask? I'll tell you! Ugh there are a few lines that just make me cringe. i.e. Jennette McCurdy's character Wiley says "Will you lie with me?" asking the friend zoned Adam to LIE next to her in bed. I realize this is proper english but come on, what 16 year old (I'm assuming, I don't know her actual age in the show yet but she is in high school so I'm stereotyping) uses proper english that way? It just felt very contrived. Also when main character Gord's Grandpa dies he yells "Grandfather! Grandfather!". I know what anyone calls their grandparents varies but grandfather just feels so Little House on the Prairie. If this show is really supposed to take place in 2015, some of the dialogue is a little confused. There's also a moment in a conversation between Wiley and her sister Melissa where Melissa is STUNNED by Wiley's defiance to pray for their dead mother:
"SURELY you must understand the danger you're in if you don't ask for forgiveness. . ."
BLUGH! I'm sorry Melissa you are not winning anyone over right now. I understand you're the ministers daughter but I'm pretty sure even your dad would only use the word surely non-sarcastically in a sermon. Lucky for you now that your mom is dead you don't have to hide the fact that you're clearly raiding her closet. Even more lucky for you now that ALL adults are dead your time has come, you don't have to stoop to the level of adolescence any longer! You can be Pretty Lakes new nagging overly stressed mother! Um, let's not forget the towns name shall we, Pretty Lake? Really? It's just a bit cheesy and on the nose don't you think? Subtext is truly a beautiful thing, I encourage all writers to use it.
I tend to have a really hard time when writing doesn't sound conversational. If it doesn't sound natural, it pulls me out of the experience and the story. It irks me so much I become completely distracted. "But isn't the acting more to blame for something not feeling natural?" you might ask. Well kind of. But if you have a strict director that doesn't like the actors straying from the exact text of the script an actor can only do so much if said text is just not good. This normally happens in Writer/Director situations. And according to IMDb my suspicions were correct. Michael McGowan the creator of the show is also the sole writing credit for episode 1. His IMDb page is just starting but its a start full of writing/directing credits. Which I mean good for him,sincerely! It's more than I can say for myself. But it does make me fear that he's a repeat offender. I also have an inkling that he leans on the more religiously inspired side of the fence. there's a definite religious undertone to the first episode. Which I'm not afraid to admit is another big part of what turned me off of episode 1. Luckily there are about 5 or six more writers that enter the crew as the season continues. And I haven't felt the same annoyance with the dialogue after the first episode. In fact by the end of episode two I was on the verge of getting a little choked up. The performances improved along with the improved writing. So follow my "pilot episode" rule and you might find you like the show more than you would expect after such a rough introduction.
On a lighter more positive note I am continuously impressed with the young actors of the show. Good child actors seem really hard to come by these days. Or maybe it's just that Disney Channel has lowered the standards and expectations for child acting and children's entertainment alike. I tip my hat to the casting director, they truly did very good work. They somehow managed to find not only the most precious, adorable kids (a handful of them with the most perfect speech impediments!) but these kids are just good at what they do! Let a kid be more than a watered-down-hokey-comedic-sitcom-troublemaker and you could really be impressed by the talent they possess. Out of the older actors in the show the only one I'm not too fond of is Adam (Jesse Carere) but I think it's more his character that I'm not a fan of. He has no emotion. If he's supposed to be a sociopath he's doing great. But if he's just supposed to be a genius introvert with a hint of depression I think there should be a little bit more of a variation in his demeanor.
As you can tell I have mixed feelings for the show. But there's something keeping me watching. I'm not quite sure what, but there's something there. And that's a good hopeful sign. As far as the usual Netflix Original Series goes, this one does fall a touch short. It's more at the caliber of an ABCfamily or MTV drama. Don't let that turn you away though, I strongly believe everyone should make their own opinion.
So if you're interested here's the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df5PELMNVss
** UPDATE **
JUST WATCHED EP. 5! Holy cow guys shit just got GOOOOD! I'm not one to talk to my tv screen but damn, I was yelling at it like it was my job. And there's only one more episode left. Next week is the finale. Not a hard show to binge watch. Okay Between you showed me, I see you, go get you some! I'll check back in with a Between wrap up in a couple weeks, post finale.
Coming up next week: BLOODLINE
Have you watched any of B E T W E E N ? What do you think? Have any questions before you dive in? I wanna hear your thoughts! leave me a comment, let's talk about it . . .