We've all been at that place where we're staring at Netflix and trying to decide which new series to dive into. It's a difficult decision, I get it. It takes forever for me to figure out my next TV obsession. I just now started The Flash and realized that I'm way late to that party. The point is, we take our online television very seriously. We have to spend an hour on a show we know almost nothing about, just to decide whether or not we want to put in a significant amount of our precious time to continue watching it. Since I have a problem with actually finishing all of these shows, I thought I'd do everyone a favor and take that first step for you. Each week, I'm going to be watching the first episode of a series that has some binge potential. I'm going to skip things like Daredevil or The Walking Dead, and stick to some lesser known shows that may not be on everyone's radar. Hopefully I can give you some decent advice and make your decisions just a little bit easier.
In honor of Halloween, I wanted to kick this shindig off with a horror series that has been on my radar for a while now. Hemlock Grove is one of Netflix's first original series, but it's also one of the least known. Based on the novel by Bryan McGreevy, and produced by Eli Roth, the series was Netflix first foray into the world of horror. Debuting on April 19, 2013, the series has three full seasons of 33 episodes and finished the story after the third season.
The first episode, titled Jellyfish in the Sky, opens with a grisly murder of a teenage girl going to meet one of her teachers for a late night rendezvous. While you don't see what attacked her, you can tell it definitely isn't something human. As the story backtracks a day or so, we get introduced to the main characters of the series. Danny is a gypsy who just moved to town, Roman is the son of the wealthy Godfrey family, and Olivia is the widow matriarch of the family. We learn that the Godfrey's, who obviously have a lot to hide, can basically buy whatever they want. While there were plenty of cliffhangers about this family's history, my biggest question lied in the sister. What in the hell is she?!? There's some kind of Frankenstein's monster thing going on here (doesn't help that her name is Shelley), and it's the most intriguing piece of the story to me.
By the end of the episode, the girl's body is found. For some reason new guy Danny is the first suspect on everyone's list. A girl get's murdered and you think that some random 17-year-old who never met her had something to do with it, just because he happened to be walking past the crime scene? That didn't quite add up to me, but I don't want to get caught up in the semantics. It's fairly obvious to me that there's something supernatural going on with Danny and his mom; I'm gonna go with werewolves? No guarantee on that one in this episode, but I'm fairly confidant that's where it's heading.
All in all, I was pretty pleased with the show. The episode was fairly slow, but I expect that in a series opener. They were able to keep my attention while introducing me to the characters, and that can be hard to do. My issue is how many "main" characters there seem to be. I don't want to try and keep up with eight or nine large story arcs at once, but it seems like they might be able to pull it off. For the most part, it's well acted, and the cinematography is beautiful. The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of horror that I was looking forward to. I had gone in hoping for something a bit creepier than what was delivered. I can also see this as being one of those series that has a great story for the first season, but fails to bring in great writing after that. Judging by the fact that there's only three seasons, I'm afraid I'm probably right. Despite it's downside, I think Hemlock Grove has some potential. And based on that potential alone, I'd recommend it. If you're looking for a break from zombies and the Arrow-verse, I'd definitely give this Netflix Original a shot.