Wednesday 14 November 2018

Still chill: Netflix getting serious about comedy

New on Netflix... The Characters, Season 1- Available Now, 8 episodes

New comedy Flaked revolves around Chip (Will Arnett), a habitual liar struggling to maintain his sobriety. Irish actress Ruth Kearney (right) also stars.
New comedy Flaked revolves around Chip (Will Arnett), a habitual liar struggling to maintain his sobriety. Irish actress Ruth Kearney (right) also stars.
Elektra (Elodie Yung)
Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch


From House Of Cards to Better Call Saul, Netflix has destroyed much of the competition with its dramas over the last few years. But until now it hasn't had a comedy hit that quite scales those heights. This series might change that. Here eight comedians get the opportunity to create their own 30-minute episode of outlaw comedy, "without rules or limits" and the creative autonomy they've been given clearly pays dividends. The sketches that they've lined up range from The Bachelor parodies to music videos to biblical spoofs. The roster of comedians is impressive and features Lauren Lupkus of Orange is the New Black. Every episode has its own voice; the whole series is charmingly offbeat without being self-consciously so.

Flaked, Season 1

Available now, 8 Episodes

And if that doesn't set comedy fans' hearts alight there is always this. Starring Will Arnett - he of 30 Rock and Arrested Development fame - Flaked revolves around Chip (Arnett), a habitual liar and self-apppointed guru who's struggling to maintain his sobriety while attempting to sustain friendships and remain a step ahead of his tangled web of ongoing lies. Irish actress Ruth Kearney, best known for her roles in Primeval and The Following, also stars as the love interest of both Chip and his best friend Denis (David Sullivan) who vie for her attentions, threatening their friendship in the process. Lovers of binge viewing will enjoy the fact that all eight episodes have gone up at once and there are some late-in-the-day twists in this series.

My Beautiful Broken Brain

Available from March 18

So just the sight of David Lynch's name attached to this will be enough to make some hearts race but even those not enamoured of the iconic auteur's directorial style (he's actually a producer here) might find much to enjoy. The documentary film details the experience of Dutch-French filmmaker Lotje Sodderland, after she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and embarks on a journey of rehabilitation and recovery. Documentary is another front on which Netflix has been beefing up its offering. Making A Murderer has obviously been its own kind of phenomenon, as most people know, but two of the company's other productions - What Happened Miss Simone? and Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom - received Oscar nominations this year. My Beautiful Broken Brain has also won a slew of festival awards and if Lynch says we'll be "moved and inspired", that's good enough for us.

Marvel's Daredevil, Season 2

Available from March 18

Elektra (Elodie Yung)

The Marvel comic book-to-screen universe has grown up lot since its beginnings with Ironman back in 2008 and its migration onto Netflix. Marvel's Daredevil came out onto the streaming service in 2015 and unlike its Ben Affleck-starring big screen counter-part, the show received almost universal acclaim. This new series makes better use of the acting ensemble, led by Charlie Cox, and features some jaw-dropping cinematography. Having survived his earlier clash with the Kingpin, Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Cox) now faces new challenges. There's the local vigilante, whom the police have named the Punisher (The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal) and who ruthlessly kills criminals, prompting the huge moral dilemma of what to do about him. Murdoch also meets a blast from his past, Elektra (Elodie Yung), pictured above, who is not only a wealthy heiress but a trained martial artist with her own villainous tendencies. The series gets better as it goes on and seems perfect for binge viewing.

Once Upon A Time, Season 5 Available from March 16 The long-running fantasy series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, whose residents are characters from various folk tales transported to the present and left bereft of their real memories by a curse, kind of like Glee but with fairy stories instead of pop songs. After tepid reviews for season five, the buzz Stateside for this series of the AMC-produced drama has been positive. This season Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is sent off to the Enchanted Forest for a lesson in the ways of the Dark One, in the nefarious form of Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle). The rest of the gang are left to pick up the pieces in Storybrooke, attempting to figure out to where that dastardly Dark One escaped. Oh, and there's also the debut of the series' first Pixar character.

Last chance to see...

By Emily Hourican


RTE Player, until March 17, episode 3

Third and last in the series examining the build-up to and aftermath of Easter 1916, this covers the moment of all-change. Narrated by Liam Neeson, with excellent archive footage, this gives the context of the Rising - Britain at war in Europe, the atrocious rate of civilian casualties and the way the bodies were buried; in haste, without dignity - before examining the aftermath of the grande geste and "a great city reduced to rubble". The documentary describes the way the rebels were transformed from pariahs to heroes. A fascinating, complex view of the time.

Deutschland 83

Channel4 On Demand, until March 22, episode 1

In case you were suffering nostalgia for Cold War thrillers now that it's all about Isil-style Middle Eastern terrorism, this Germany-set series is the perfect reminder of just why we love the era. An East German soldier is taken to the Western part of the city, given a new identity, taught to blend in, and trained up as a spy. At the time of writing there are seven episodes On Demand, but they will start to disappear, so get cracking now on what is a cleverly-scripted, well-acted, absorbing thriller, with perfect period detail. A coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of a bitter ideological divide.

The Good Wife

Channel4 On Demand, series 7, going fast

Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife

If you are lagging behind on this - showing Thursdays on More4 - time to get cracking. Episode 4 has just 11 days left to run, with 1-3 already gone. This is to be the last series of what has been a consistent critical and ratings hit. Alicia Florrick is trying to get her law career back on track by working as a bond court attorney after being knocked out of politics, as well as trying to find some kind of moral rock bottom from which to ascend, after a lot of sinking in series 6. Julianna Margulies, pictured above, is joined by Stockard Channing and Amy Irving.

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