Netflix. I’d heard about this web-based TV subscription service before but I thought it wasn’t of interest to me. Lately, I suspected I was probably missing out on some good content. The excellent reviews of Netflix shows on Kirsty’s blog have confirmed this. However, I never investigated the site, until recently. I thought I couldn’t spare the time to watch anything else, and besides it had a cost. It turns out to be cheaper per month than the UK TV licence and to have a broad range of content, particularly Netflix Originals (commissioned for the channel). New items are added every week.
My experience has been good so far. I particularly like the search function, which allows you to find content by actors and directors, for example, and will show similar items. The only disadvantage I can see is that, unlike BBC iPlayer, the expiry dates of the shows are not visible. This means that items you’ve added to your ‘watch list’ can vanish without warning, so you need to prioritise and watch your most wanted things as soon as possible, unless they’re Netflix in origin, in which case they should be available for a long time.
Here’s what I watched in the first few months of being a Netflix user:
The Last Kingdom. Set in the late 9th century and based on Bernard Cornwall’s fiction about Uhtred, a warrior who identifies as a Dane but who more frequently works for King Alfred. I’d seen the first two series on the BBC and then it moved to Netflix. It’s a good watch, if brutal. There’s going to be another series so let’s see what fate has in store for Uhtred – as he says in every episode, “destiny is all”.
Stranger Things. This popular horror / science fiction / coming of age drama is also a 1980s nostalgia fest. It’s set in the town of Hawkins where a group of nerdy kids battle against monsters. It’s funny, gripping and suspenseful. I watched all three series within the same number of weeks and I’m looking forward to the fourth.
Black Mirror. Edgy and thought-provoking, these are self-contained fictional episodes which examine the effects of new technology and communications on how we live, specifically our relationships. It began on Channel 4 before moving to Netflix. I have only watched a few of them so far but I hope to get through all of the series eventually.
Anne with an E. This (very loose) adaptation of L M Montgomery’s well-loved ‘Anne’ books is charming, uplifting and a little grittier than the originals. The settings are perfect and the characters are wonderfully realised. There are three series, definitely worth watching if you love Anne – just be prepared for a lot of modernisation and some topical issues not present in the books.
James Acaster Repertoire. Four stand-up sets from Mr Acaster with his trademark offbeat pedantic comedy. He ends one of them by eating a lit Christingle orange. They were certainly funny at times but mostly stayed away from politics. I like how he always ends a show by linking it back to the start.
Sex Education. Set in what appears to be an American high school in which everyone has a variety of British accents, this is an incisive and warm-hearted comedy which focuses on sex and friendships. I watched both series in quick succession and am looking forward to the next, which should resolve some of the characters’ storylines.
The IT Crowd. I only ever saw a few episodes when it was on Channel 4. It was great to watch from the beginning and at around 20 minutes per episode, this quirky British sitcom is ideal when you want to watch something funny but haven’t got much time. It’s interesting to note that some aspects of the humour seem a little dated now, which shows how quickly society changes.
Films: Thelma and Louise, Blade Runner 2049, When Harry Met Sally, My Neighbor Totoro, Clueless, RoboCop (the original and the remake), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Lady Bird and The Neverending Story, … all of which I hadn’t got round to watching before, so I was pleased to have the opportunity. There were a few other films on my watch list, which disappeared before I managed to see them.