The Last of March’s New Netflix Releases

Well looks like I have to add Mad Men to our binge watching queue

Action & Adventure: November Man

Comedy: Akmal: Life of Akmal, Carl Barron: A One Ended Stick, David Strassman: Careful What You Wish For, Hello Kitty Flanagan, The Umbilical Brothers: The Rehearsal

The Green Prince

Documentary: The Green Prince, Secret Yellowstone

Drama: Frankie & Alice, Take Care

Family: Monster High: Haunted, Bratz: Desert Jewelz

The Pirates

Foreign: The Pirates, Love Me, Traitors, Viva La Liberta, Yume to kyoki no ohkoku, Eva

Mad Men

Television: Inspector Gadget, Turn, Hollywood’s Best Film Directors, a series of LeapFrog specials, a few Truth Behind specials, and new episodes of Mad Men, Trailer Park Boys, Garfunkel and Oates, and The Almighty Johnsons

New Netflix Releases for the Week of 4/1/14

Another week, another slew of viewing choices on streaming Netflix (no lame April Fool’s Pranks here)

King of Fighters

Action & Adventure: The King of Fighters

Anime: Madoka Magica

Comedy: High School Record, The Perfect Wedding, Towheads, The Big Wedding, Bill Burr: Let It Go, Louis C.K.: Chewed Up, White Reindeer, Jim Norton: Please Be Offended

Documentary: Dark Legacy II, Dear Mandela, The Light in Her Eyes, The Punk Singer, Red Obsession, Narco Cultura

Jobs

Drama: Breakfast with Curtis, Elena Undone, The Happy Sad, K-11, L.I.E., My Brother the Devil, Otelo Burning, Jobs

Faith: Surrendered

Family: All Stars, Pup

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Mr. Nobody, Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark

Grandmaster

Foreign: Camille Claudel 1915, Girl on a Bicycle, The Grandmaster, My Engine’s Fragile Sound, The Pool, The Silent Army, Tall as the Baobab Tree, The Berlin File

Horror: Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption

Television: Secret Princes, She is Wow, Codename: Kids Next Door, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, MAD, Young Justice, and new seasons of Adventure Time, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Generator Rex, Regular Show, Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated, and Mad Men

EW Top Ten TV Shows

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is their end of year Top 10 issue. Of course the Top 10 Movies are not available on instant Netflix, some haven’t even hit the theater. Between the two critics, the top films were 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, Blue Jasmine, The Past, World War Z, Prisoners, Inside Llewyn Davis, Captain Phillips, Enough Said, All is Lost, Out of the Furnace, The Conjuring, and Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.

Orange is the New Black

On the other hand, their year’s best TV shows (again between two critics) include American Horror Story (2 seasons on Netflix), Parks and Recreation (5 seasons available), Breaking Bad (all but the final episodes available), Orange is the New Black (Netflix exclusive), Mad Men (5 seasons available), House of Cards (Netflix exclusive), The Fall (first series available), Arrested Development (4 seasons – the 4th is Netflix exclusive). With results like that I’d argue that Netflix has changed the face of television. They are even bringing back the cancelled police drama The Killing.

Game of Thrones

TV shows not available on Netflix from the best of list: Time of Death, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, Enlightened, Please Like Me, The Good Wife, and The Returned show Netflix’ weaknesses: Lack of premium channel content (HBO, Showtime) and CBS shows. Of course these aren’t just Netflix weaknesses as these aren’t available on Amazon Prime or Hulu either.

I have yet to watch Parks and Recreation and The Fall is still sitting in my queue (I tend to put off watching shows involving rape as I’m looking to be entertained more than enlightened). The other Netflix shows though are amazing and I concur that they are the best series on TV. I’m hoping that they’ll put the final episodes of Breaking Bad on before someone spoils them for me.

Mad Men, House of Cards, and The Killing

Last week our daughter and granddaughter went on a trip for a week. We did not have the money for the vacation that we had planned (curse you septic system!) so, for the most part, we spent the week at home. No cross-country travel. No exotic destinations. No McKay’s.

House of CardsIt did give us the time to finally catch the American version of House of Cards. The BBC set of miniseries is excellent (House of Cards, To Play the King, Final Cut) and Ian Richardson is wonderful as Francis Urquhart. I was worried that the American version would not be very good as remakes seldom are.

I was quite wrong. Kevin Spacey is splendid as southern politician Francis Underwood. The politics are quite a bit different so this is more of a re-imagining but it is a good one. We blazed through the entire series of thirteen episodes and look forward to season two at some point.

Mad MenAfter House of Cards, we blazed through the thirteen episodes of season five of Mad Men. I think Mad Men gets better with every season. The story, dialogue, and acting are great but the set design and costuming are so wonderful that they often distract you. My only quibble was a decision made by Don in the twelfth episode that seemed a little arbitrary. While I love Jon Hamm, this season was clearly an ensemble piece and not The Don Draper Show.

The KillingWe actually had some time left over so we started The Killing. We are only eight episodes into the first season but find it to be an excellent and clever show, albeit one that moves at a snail’s pace.

Mad Men – TV week

I have not had much time to watch movies lately because we have been watching loads of TV shows on instant Netflix. All four seasons of Mad Men are currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Mad Men (3007-2010) – Rated TV-14

“Set in 1960s New York City, this AMC series takes a peek inside an ad agency during an era when the cutthroat business had a glamorous lure. When the cigarette smoke clears and the martinis are set down, at the center of it all is ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Meanwhile, his marriage suffers as his wife, Betty (January Jones), recoils from his womanizing ways. Garnering numerous awards, the show also stars John Slattery and Elisabeth Moss.”

This one is absolutely a no-brainer. If you have not seen Mad Men, you are missing the best-written and -acted show on television. This is not to say that it is my favorite show as I love the macabre so Dexter and The Walking Dead are my favorites. Still you are really missing out.

My big bone to pick with Mad Men is that they command such a large slice of the AMC budget that the budget for The Walking Dead (as well as Breaking Bad from what I hear) has been cut and showrunner Frank Darabont has been cut loose.

Mad Men was such a daring move by AMC. Having a series set in the 1960s automatically means greater expense and with the slavish attention to detail the creators have (incredible period props, outfits, and hair styles), the budget for those departments must be shocking but having a program set in another time period also automatically means a greater difficulty winning viewers.

Setting the story in an advertising agency also limits the melodramatic opportunities afforded police and medical dramas. It does however allow them to show how advertising developed for politicians and products which is surprisingly fascinating.

Tobacco use, alcohol use, and sexuality are not only common but rampant throughout the show. Mad Men also does not shy away from the logical consequences of these behaviors.

Jon Hamm is fabulous as the lead, Don Draper. He shows a great deal of charisma and some wonderful nuances in his acting. I like that he is simply the protagonist and most assuredly not the hero or villain.

Hamm is ably supported by John Slattery and Robert Morse as the Sterling & Cooper of ad agency Sterling & Cooper. Working for Draper are Vincent Kartheiser as reprehensible schemer Pete Campbell who strangely comes across very sympathetically, Aaron Staton as Ken Cosgrove, and Rich Sommer as Harry Crane.

For all of that, it is actually the women who are most interesting. Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson has the best character arc as an exceptionally independent-minded secretary. Christina Hendricks is absolutely riveting as uber-secretary Joan Harris. Christina also gets the best outfits. January Jones plays the long-suffering wife Betty Draper and while I have not cared for her in other roles (Unknown, X-Men First Class), she seems to really inhabit Betty.

The acting and writing are so dead-on that everyone comes across as a real person and there are no heroes and only a few villains. I simply cannot recommend this show highly enough.