Netflix to the rescue with Dark, Colony and Alice in Borderland - Liam Rudden
Whether it's on the BBC or ITV there's a mediocre sameness to much of British TV output these days - maybe it's due to the tiny pool of actors, writers and directors that an equally tiny pool of producers want to use.
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Yes, whether it's the old boys or indeed old girls network, nepotism, or just plain laziness when it comes to casting around for talent, thrives; why search out new exciting actors when you can stick a popular ‘one-trick pony’ into a role and guarantee the same ratings.
Even if Line of Duty does manage to cast its inexplicable spell over the nation for a few weeks every year, each new series simply follows a now predictable formula - so much so that Line of Duty Bingo has become a thing.
Of late, I'd thought my days of watching TV drama were long gone, lockdown changed that when I was finally introduced to Netflix.
With the latest Covid restrictions seeing theatre and live music shuttered once again and having explored every series and podcast BBC Sounds has to offer, I've been forced to explore Netflix’ vault of small screen series once again, and yes, there's a lot of dross there too.
However, amongst all the over-hyped, instantly forgettable tales there are some cracking gems just waiting to be discovered.
The series that got me hooked on trawling Netflix was Squid Game. A brutal South Korean series that proved riveting. Imaginative and with no respect for the watershed it was also deeply thought-provoking. Check it out if you haven't already, but be warned, it's not for the squeamish. And that's as close to a spoiler or trigger warning that you'll get from me.
So, with nothing to do between Christmas and New Year but eat, drink and be merry, here are three Netflix dramas that will be filling the hours in between the cups of tea and mince pies.
The first is Alice in Borderland, a 2020 Japanese sci-fi series in which an aimless gamer and his two friends find themselves forced to compete in a series of sadistic games to survive. It's like Squid Game's little brother and surprisingly addictive. Probably one for a younger demographic to be honest, but definitely an 18+.
Next up is the 2016 American series Colony. Like a modern day V, Colony is a tale of oppression and resistance. When LA is invaded by outside forces and becomes a walled-in settlement, a former FBI agent and his wife risk everything to find their lost son. Yes, Earth is subject to an alien invasion in this gripping drama for all the family. Numerous story lines unfold at once ensuring something for everyone.
The last series I'll binge on is the brilliant Dark, and I've kept the best until last. This mind-bending 2017 drama from Germany is exactly as its title suggests; a missing child sets four families on a frantic hunt for answers as they unearth an seemingly inexplicable mystery that spans three generations.
Intelligent, teasing and meticulously executed, Dark is easily the best TV drama I have seen in a very, very long time and the great thing is about all these series is that I don’t have an age between series.
Wishing you all a safe and peaceful Christmas.