Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Netflix Pics Picks

Netflix is becoming my favorite thing ever. They're not perfect, mind you. My brother-in-law reached a level of indignation with them normally reserved for people trying to deny your civil rights when it took several weeks for him to finally receive a copy of Slumdog Millionaire. Still they did heavily contribute to the end of Blockbuster's reign of evil over the video rental industry and for that we must all be eternally grateful.

Something I'm using more and more is their streaming service where you can watch something instantly on your computer, as God intended. When they first started doing this, their selection basically consisted of movies you had never heard of, always with good reason. These days, they have some excellent selections including Superbad and The Terminator. I thought I'd review a few of those and ended up concentrating on BBC television shows. For you Americans who have never heard of the BBC, it's the British Broadcasting Corporation, the main source of television and radio in England. England is a country that's not America and thus is considered by most U.S. citizens to be a godforsaken hellhole though they do manage to lighten things up by putting the picture of an inbred figurehead on all their money. I find this far superior than America's ghoulish penchant for putting dead guys on our money.

Neverwhere -- It's odd considering that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and I had read the book years ago that I had never seen the six part BBC television production of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere until a few weeks ago. Made in 1996, it manages not to look dated, probably because most of it takes place in a fantasy world. It is the story of Richard Mayhew, a Londoner who accidentally becomes part of a world of magic called London Below when he encounters one of its citizens, a girl named Door. After saving Door from the assassins who were hunting her, he discovers that people no longer notice him and even his best friend and fiance no longer recognize him. Luckily, his friend was a dick and his fiance a shrew yet he is still upset over losing them.

Richard and Door encounter some great characters along the way, especially the ruthless Marquis De Carabas, a man who has made sure that everyone he encounters owes him a favor. The show's biggest flaw is a character named Hunter. Oh, I liked the character well enough but she's supposed to be a superior fighter and every scene where she had to prove it made painfully obvious the fact that the actress had no fighting skills to speak of. Still, the show is interesting and, if you have Netflix, you could do worse than to spend a few hours having this streamed into the computer box where you keep your dirty pictures.

Jekyll -- If you saw a show last fall with Christian Slater called My Own Worst Enemy, you should know that you were watching a stupid, boring and vastly inferior ripoff of Jekyll. Written by Steven Moffat (one of my favorite writers of any medium), it stars James Nesbitt as Dr. Tom Jackman, a man who comes to find out he's sharing his brain with a sadistic personality that eventually names himself Mr. Hyde. Luckily, he has two of England's hottest women (Gina Bellman who plays his wife and Michelle Ryan as his nurse and assistant) to help him solve the mystery of Hyde and get his life back to normal. Jekyll is the type of show that restores your faith in the potential of television, only to have that faith dashed when America gets a hold of it.

Coupling -- And speaking of having America dash your faith, I present to you Coupling. American television tried to do its own version of this excellent comedy (also written by Steven Moffat). Even using Moffat's scripts, they managed to make it dull and unfunny. The original British version is one of my favorite sitcoms ever. It pushes the limits of good taste and gets away with it because it's funny. My favorite character is Jeff, an odd fellow whose odd theories about relationships and women often get him and his friends into trouble. He once talked about the Melty Man, a demon who comes from the bottom of Hell to steal men's erections. This caused his friend Patrick, a dimwitted Lothario, to lose his erection at a crucial moment. Coupling again has the extremely gorgeous Gina Bellman as Jane, a promiscuous woman who manages to breeze through life unaware of the fact that she's not very bright. She once tells tells a religious man who wonders why God doesn't answer his prayers that the reason for that is that God is a made up person and expecting him to answer your prayers is like writing a letter to a soap opera character and expecting a reply. What really made that funny was that she said that in an innocent attempt to be helpful, unaware of the fact that the man would find it offensive.

Next week, I'll do another review of Netflix's streaming selections. Hopefully they'll add a hardcore porn section between now and then and I can review that.

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