You know those shows that lure you in with a great concept and you hang on and let that “Next Episode” autoplay feature keep going but you’re not sure you’re into it just yet? Love it or hate it, these five shows could be one of them. You can’t be distracted as the plots revolve around science fiction or fantasy and you’re dripfed information so slowly, the payoff can be satisfying after your long investment…
All international shows listed below are available with top notch English dubbing and/or subtitles:
The OA (USA)
Has anyone noticed Brit Marling, creator and star of the show, and her resemblance to a young Julia Roberts? Produced by Brad Pitt, it was devastating to learn that the de-ja-vu moment in Season 2’s finale, which was almost identical to the first season was it for the show. It was a bit of a roller coaster as they relegated the main ensemble cast we fell in love with to the sidelines for most of the second season and had to invest in the new guy that everyone playing this mysterious game was dreaming of. The handful of episodes that Steve, BBA, Jessie and Michelle were in made it feel like our old show again, and after the first mind bending season, it was a little overwhelming having to invest in the new character, Karim. We ended up liking him in the end, but it took way too long.
The theme of a multiverse and the interconnection between all living beings impacted by the choices we make was such a provocative topic and still is in mainstream science. That’s what made this show appealing. In season two, we got more insight into the character of Betty (Phyllis Smith) and saw a softer side of Steve (Patrick Gibson), but it just wasn’t enough as most of their screentime was chopped in half due to the new story that dominated most of the shorter eight episode season.
By telling the story in two dimensions, there wasn’t enough interest to warrant solving a new problem when we hadn’t finished solving the first one where we were left hanging in Season 1. Brit Marling’s strong portrayal of alter ego, Nina was also not enough to keep viewers interested to warrant a third season.
It is still a great watch for science fiction lovers as the theory of everything has never been put into an everyday context for us to unpack before.
When it comes to originality, Netflix France approaches some pretty cutting edge topics. You’ve got Omniscent which revolves around a future world where we are all individually monitored, ranked, rated and evaluated by drones and Call my Agent uses great cinematography showcasing Paris at its best in a Sex and the city like world of PR for example. This one is quite interesting. Very now. In world where online dating apps are commonplace, this particular future of dating have people interacting knowing the use by dates of their relationships. Think about it. Age, Sex, Location… But essentially you need some kind of experience or personal growth to proceed to the next relationship. It’s Tinder with artificial intelligence where our definition of socialisation has become computerised and mathematical… But where and how do emotions come to play?
The important thing to note when starting this new series is to let go of any preconceptions of Vikings, the silverscreen comedy of Thor or Riverdale, because Ragnarok attempts to mesh the vibes of all three together in this teen drama. It’s different, it’s interesting and it does take a while to kick in as most of the early episodes have the dark cloud of grief and death looming over it for much of the season. Unlike Locke & Key, which starts off the same way it stays in this mysterious dark place despite the realism of high school that’s weaved through.
The concept is great. It’s set in a fictional town of Edda which is said to be the last town in Norway to renounce the gods of ‘paganism’ before converting to Christianity and there’s a long standing feud between giants and gods that’s been sparked with the arrival of Magne (David Stakston) and his family to town. Each episode begins with an anecdote of Norse mythology and themes of rich vs poor, corporate empire vs climate change are at the core of the character motivations.
It’s a completely new take on high school drama which is why you may feel uncertain where you stand after watching all six episodes if you’ve been conditioned to the feelgood formats of Riverdale, cattyness of Elite and The Politician. Honestly the story could have been tighter since there were only a handful of episodes, but there is great potential as the show delivered some pretty epic moments particularly around the dysfunctional and mysterious siblings, Saxa (Theresa Frostad Eggesbø) & Fjor (Herman Tømmeraas) are from who play the struggle of family loyalty and duty well.
This show will do your head in if you are not paying attention as its nothing like Back to the Future as it explores time travel and destiny in a more complex way. This is the ultimate puzzle as we’re told stories in several timelines introduced to various characters that turn out to be the same person!
Have I lost you?
Dark takes the subject of time travel, twists it up with kidnapping and missing children, tortures a town of lovable citizens and then it all converges into one time period! It’s an exciting exploration of the idea of time travel held up by very well thought out characters. There are so many answers lying in episodes, you’ll find yourself re-watching them for clues and feel like you need to write things down as you work out who is who and what is what.
The I-Land (USA)
Ten strangers wake up on an island of paradise with amnesia. It’s fun trying to work out where this show takes us – is it going to be like Lost, or Resurrection, or maybe even Manifest. Turns out they are all prisoners who agreed to take part in an experiment to reduce their sentence and have been used as guinea pigs in this Matrix-esque like world. Mix in a bit of prison politics and one of the inhabitants turning out to be innocent, the big twist is when the main character realise they are not the age they appear to be on the island. Nawww. A short seven episode season you can knock down after work…
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