Hi, back again folks, hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and New Year and that your resolutions last longer than Christmas Dinner. Speaking for myself, I had planned to start swimming and cycling but I still haven’t managed to get a new tyre on my bike so that’s still on the back-burner. It all comes down to money, doesn’t it? Nothing is free in this world. And as usual this Christmas I’ve had to get another advance to tide me over until after Jan 1. I make the resolution EVERY DAMN YEAR to save for Christmas, or else start buying presents well in advance, but somehow it never happens, and I leave it til the last freaking minute.
Anyway, enough crying poor. The one thing I can do while waiting to start my post-grad study in February is write … but we all know that’s never gonna happen. I’ll probably wind up binge-watching Netflix or Foxtel On Demand (which I’ve just discovered I can watch on my computer now that my TV’s bitten the dust). Bye bye free-to-air TV – not that there was anything but reality bullshit on there anyway. But Netflix … Wow. I mean, I want to give its creator a big friendly hug. It’s one of the best inventions of the 21st century. I know it’s early to say that, but it’s true. Some of my early favourites have been Gotham, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale, The Killing, Scream, Jessica Jones and Anne with an E. Plus it’s also great for catching up with shows I used to watch but never caught the whole series in its entirety, like Gilmore Girls or The 100. So here are my top five shows. Why? Just because I can.
5. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
A reboot of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch (which honestly, I thought was a pretty unimaginative title), this show brings the character from the Archie comics to life as well as into this century in terms of more adult content instead of the family-friendly adventures of the original. Salem, the cat is back, but in this incarnation, he doesn’t talk. Or he does, but only Sabrina seems to be able to converse with him because he’s her familiar. Harvey’s there as well but he’s a more serious, tormented soul this time around, with an alcoholic, emotionally abusive father who blames him for his brother’s death in the mines. Sabrina’s aunts are also less peppy than the 1990’s version, and are much more invested in the religion behind their witchcraft than their predecessors. Which brings me to my one and only gripe with this new version. Witchcraft, aka Wicca, or Paganism, was around BEFORE Christianity. It didn’t spring up as a response or alternative to it, as Satanism did. Yet Sabrina’s witchcraft seems to be a form of Satanism rather than pure Druidic or Pagan witchcraft. They praise and revere The Dark Lord (for instance, saying “For Satan’s sake” or “Thank Satan”) in everyday conversation, and pray to him. That’s Satanism, not Wicca. I’m not sure if that was the show’s intention, but if not, and its supposed to be Pagan witchcraft they’re practising, then they’re doing it all wrong! But I do really like the new, darker edge to the show, particularly the inclusion of its LGBT characters (love Cousin Ambrose, he’s a cutie, although I suspect he’s inspired by Felix from Orphan Black), and the three sisters; but most important of all … That house. I FUCKING LOVE THAT HOUSE. Give me that house!!!!!
Another one from the Archie stable, this is probably not for everyone, as some may find it too much of a teen drama for their liking, but I enjoy the story lines involving conspiracies around Jason Blossom’s murder, The Black Hood and now the whole mystery surrounding Gryphons & Gargoyles (an obvious nod to Dungeons & Dragons) and who the Gargoyle King really is. I like the way the writers have managed to weave in references to popular culture, like the episode parodying The Breakfast Club, and the insinuation that The Farm Polly (and now Alice) became involved with is nothing more than a cult. Some parts have been a little cringe-worthy, however – I’m talking specifically about the conversation in Season 1 where Jughead talks about his beanie and being edgy (although that’s not the word he used, but for the life of me I can’t remember. Trying to repress that particularly memory). And I mean, Jughead?! As a name? Seriously? I know it originated in the comic books, but surely the character has to have an actual proper name. If he was christened Jughead (and his sister Jellybean) his parents need to be committed. Or incarcerated. Or both. I’d say they should never have been allowed to breed, but Cole Sprouse’s Jughead is a bit of a cutie, so I’ll hold off on that. My problem with his character is that he’s trying a little too hard to be broody and disaffected. I think Veronica or Betty once referred to him as Riverdale’s Holden Caulfield. I haven’t read Catcher in the Rye in its entirety because it was the book John Lennon’s killer wanted everyone to read, but what I have read didn’t impress me. It came across as entirely too angsty and pretentious, if you ask me. There, i said it. Sue me. As far as characters I do like, I think Betty would have to be top of my list. She’s inquisitive, loves a good murder mystery, isn’t afraid to confront her fears and has a believable relationship with her mother, calling her out on her occasional hypocrisy. She’s also really smart, as shown when she helps the girls escape the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Yay to Girl Power.
I know this show has had its detractors, and I understand why. The original movies, co-written by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven (creator of Nightmare on Elm street franchise), poked fun at traditional slasher movie lore and tropes, such as the blonde, big-breasted girl being chased by a homicidal maniac ‘going upstairs when she should be going out the front door. It’s insulting’ (Sidney, Scream 1994) as well as the “Sex gets you killed” rule. The TV series aims to do this as well, but with more time to work with, they can pack more drama in and have the characters seem far more upset about the murder of their classmates than Sidney, Randy et. al. Of course this means less opportunity for comedic relief, but we get that in the form of Noah and his best friend Audrey, who call their little crime-fighting duo “Bi-Curious and the Virgin”. Audrey, played by Bex Taylor-Klaus of The Killing and Arrow fame (both Netflix originals), is an androgynous teen with a droll sense of humour and a secret, but I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to see for yourself. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if I had to go gay for anyone (like, if I had a gun to my head), it would be someone like Audrey, because she’s funny, cute and I just love her hair.
The protagonist of the piece, Emma Duval, played by Willa Fitzgerald, is no Neve Campbell, and is at times almost insipid in her portrayal of the put-upon teen whose family has a dark secret. I swear, if I saw her bite her lip one more time I was going to either switch off or scream at the TV “Get another expression you Kristen Stewart clone!” I did feel sorry for her when her ex-boyfriend is murdered in front of her, mostly because of the way it’s done, but that’s where my sympathy ends. The character I feel the most sympathy for is poor Noah. Can’t the guy ever find luck in love? His girlfriends in both seasons 1 and 2 are killed off. Please, can’t the meek just inherit the earth and be done with it?
2. Gilmore Girls
I know this wasn’t technically a Netflix original but to be fair, they did a reunion season of the show to update fans on what’s happening with the characters – something I need to watch again, considering I saw it when I first signed on and just finished watching the original seven seasons. What I love about the new version is that a lot of the old characters came back – but some of them were almost unrecognisable. Miss Patty, for instance, played by Liz Torres, has lost a TON of weight. She looks fantastic. My favourites on the show from the beginning are Lane. because she loved music so much she defied her Korean, devoutly religious mother in order to learn to play drums and join a band; Paris, because even though she began as an enemy of Rory’s she wound up being one of her best friends, despite how intensely ambitious and competitive they both were. The best male character? Apart from Luke, (who I got annoyed with when he found out he had a daughter and felt he had to put his entire wedding to Lorelai on hold when really it was just an excuse), probably Brian. Yes, Brian. The weedy bass player from Hep Alien with the glasses. What is it with me and guys named Brian who play bass?! I guess I like him because he always stood up for Lane when Zach treated her badly. He wrote a song about Lane because Zach refused to, and was a great support when she had her twins. I honestly think he really loved her in secret, because he wound up kissing her lookalike cousin at their wedding.
I’ll admit this now: one of the main reasons I got addicted to this show was the performance of Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, or The Penguin as he’s more widely known. Not only adorable and funny, he brings such depth to a character that was initially pretty one-dimensional. I also really like Cameron Monaghan’s Joker, although at times I think he can get a little too cartoonish, despite obviously channeling Heath Ledger’s version. The origin story of Batman, or Bruce Wayne, is really so much more than the tale of how Batman became, well, Batman. There are so many well-rounded characters, so many villains to hate (and love), so many members of the ensemble cast that you end up caring about, like Jim’s partner, Harvey, played by Donal Logue, and Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler, who is more like a father to him. There is also Dr Lee Thompkins, the love of Jim’s life who winds up an adversary in league with The Riddler (oops, sorry, spoiler). Even though she’s technically a villain you can’t help but like her. Plus, she’s Morena Baccarin, and she was in Firefly. Enough said, I think!