My Top 10 Series – Part 2

Here’s Part 2 and final list of My Top 10 Series…I loved chronicling my favourite shows, hope you like reading it:-)

  1. Fargo (Season One on Netflix): I have watched the first season of this series, and it’s a crime story with the blackest humour you can imagine, helmed so ably and eccentrically by Billy Bob Thornton (Angelina Jolie’s ex-husband, the couple was known for wearing tiny vials of each other’s blood around their neck!), and the able Martin Freeman. Freeman plays a severely hen-pecked husband, who snaps one day and hits his wife on the head, and she dies. Helping him cover up this murder is Thornton, which subsequently leads to more murders and hilariously bizarre situations. Thornton is deliciously ironic, and this series is so, so worth watching. I hope to watch Season Two soon.
  2. Ozark (Seasons One and Two): The story of Ozark is similar to Breaking Bad in that, it is about a man providing for his family, and also trying to protect his family from his bad choices. Except that, after a point, the choices they make are more voluntary, than forced. Ozark keeps you on the edge of the seat, and is a superbly cast and produced series. Yet, Breaking Bad touches your heart more.
  3. The Crown (Season 1-2 on Netflix):  It is the biographical depiction of the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II, who is currently the longest reigning monarch in the world. The series has been dramatised superlatively, remaining faithful to the real events which are widely known. Two seasons are over and the third is eagerly awaited. Superb, not-to-be-missed series.
  4. Broadchurch/The Sinner (Seasons 1-3 and Season One, respectively, both on Netflix):  The British crime series, Broadchurch, is set in the fictitious town of Broachurch in Dorset. The investigation is into the death of 11-year-old boy which shakes up the close community. Leading the investigation is DI Alex Hardy (actor David Tennant), who is a sharp detective, but with his own personal demons to slay. Assisting him is actress Olivia Coleman as DS Ellie Miller. This unlikely duo works well. This is an outstanding series and keeps you on the edge of your seat. While, The Sinner is about a mother on a beach with her family, a seemingly pleasant, happy day, with nary a cloud in the sky, when suddenly something snaps, and she commits murder. Jessica Biel is the reason you must watch this, what a performance, and what a story!
  5. Alias Grace (Season 1 on Netflix): This American-Canadian mini-series is based on a novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. The main protagonist is the intriguing Grace Marks who is in prison since the last 15 years for having committed murder. She tells her story in flashbacks, to the psychiatrist Dr. Jordan who is here to evaluate her for a possible pardon. Grace is no ordinary person and till the last moment one is kept guessing about the veracity of her story. Stunning portrayal by Sarah Gadon as Grace.
  6. Fauda (Season 1-2 on Netflix)This is an Israeli political thriller, which gives a glimpse into the complex security and other challenges between Israel and the Palestine territories. The story, though primarily told from the Israeli point of view, does depict the Arab thinking too. Though it has faced some criticism over its handling of the issue, for the rest, it’s a taut and suspenseful series.
  7. Humsafar/Zindagi Gulzar Hai (One Season Each on Netflix): Both these Pakistani serials star Fawad Khan. Bollywood movies no longer seem to have a place for the chivalrous, utterly romantic leading man, which Shahrukh Khan at one point had managed to craft as his image. Fawad is your quintessential romantic hero, utterly good-looking, supremely charming, and so very chivalrous. But not just Fawad, the rest of the cast of both these serials, have done a superlative job. How I wish such realistic, yet appealing serials were being produced in India too. But then, Pakistan has a long and rich tradition of producing well-narrated and sensitive TV shows. Remember Dhoop Kinare?
  8. Sherlock (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): Most of us saw the first three seasons before it came on Netflix, but having said that, it’s one of the best series on the site. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Holmes as no one before, and even the formidable Robert Downey Jr comes only a close second!
  9. The Chalet (Season One on Netflix)This is a a French crime-suspense mini series. As with most things French, it’s absolutely stylistic, and it’s chilling and spooky, without depicting much gore. Hats off to the director for pulling off this almost implausible plot on the basis of its production values, sets, location and cast. A special mention has to be made of the haunting title song and music. Fabulous and riveting.
  10. Boston Legal (Seasons 1-5) and Grey’s Anatomy (Season 1-15): You may be surprised at these choices. Boston Legal is about a law firm in Boston, which has a set of lawyers, who are morally and ethically sometimes compromised, but are bright, and defend their clients well. I recommend watching this mainly for William Shatner (of Star Trek fame, remember the dashing Captain James Kirk?), and even more, for James Spader.  Spader who acts as lawyer Alan Shore, is brilliant, but is not averse to using shady means to get his victories. Yet, he is honest about his methods, and is uncompromisingly unhypocritical, and that is what I love about his character, and this show. Grey’s Anatomy is about a bunch of new interns at Seattle Grace Hospital in the US, who go through their gruelling training and exciting relationships at the same time. What sets it apart for me, is the sheer casting – Ellen Pompeo who plays Meredith Grey, Patrick Dempsey who plays Dr.Derek Shepherd aka McDreamy, and Sandra Oh who plays Dr.Christina Yang. The chemistry between Pompeo and Dempsey is superb. In its 15 Seasons, the serial has seen many shifts and changes, including the cast, though Ellen Pompeo has been the constant. I would recommend watching upto Season 8 or 9, till when it’s really interesting and keeps you glued.

My Netflix Top 10

Those who know me are aware that I watch a lot of content on Netflix. And often there is a request, ‘Please recommend shows to us”. Okay, so here is my first list of serials and movies on Netflix that I highly recommend. My tastes run to romance, suspense-crime (chilling, but not too much gore), drama, and dramedy (drama-comedy). This is just a beginner’s list and I hope to keep updating it in the months to come.

My Netflix Top 10 series

  1. The Crown –  It is the biographical depiction of the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II, who is currently the longest reigning monarch in the world. The series has been dramatised superlatively, remaining faithful to the real events which are widely known, and you wonder, can an Indian series on India’s sacred cows, aka our politicians, ever be done so frankly and honestly? There would be lynching and violent protests on the streets. The British are indeed made of some other mettle. Two seasons are over and the third is eagerly awaited. Superb, not-to-be-missed series.
  2. The Outlander – This is a travel-back-in-time drama set in Scotland, which at its heart is an epic love story too. It’s about a nurse in the Second World War who is transported back to the Scotland of 1743. She falls in with rebel Scottish Highlanders, and is attracted to one of them. The problem is, she’s married. There is some amount of gore in the series, which I am afraid, I fast-forwarded. But the rest is amazingly and beautifully shot, the cast is fabulous. The whole production is reminiscent of Game of Thrones. It’s based on the brilliant book series by Diana Gabaldon.
  3. Alias Grace -This American-Canadian mini-series is based on a novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. The main protagonist is the intriguing Grace Marks who is in prison since the last 15 years for having committed murder. She tells her story in flashbacks, to the psychiatrist Dr. Jordan who is here to evaluate her for a possible pardon. Grace is no ordinary person and till the last moment one is kept guessing about the veracity of her story. Stunning portrayal by Sarah Gadon as Grace.
  4. Fauda – This is an Israeli political thriller, which gives a glimpse into the complex security and other challenges between Israel and the Palestine territories. The story, though primarily told from the Israeli point of view, does depict the Arab thinking too. Though it has faced some criticism over its handling of the issue, for the rest, it’s a taut and suspenseful series.
  5. The Chalet – This is a a French crime-suspense mini series. As with most things French, it’s absolutely stylistic, and it’s chilling and spooky, without depicting much gore. Hats off to the director for pulling off this almost implausible plot on the basis of its production values, sets, location and cast. A special mention has to be made of the haunting title song and music. Fabulous and riveting. There are English sub-titles.
  6. Call My Agent– Another French drama series, set in Paris. This series has me almost decided about learning to speak French! This is about four partners in a an agency called ASK, which handles celebrities and their careers. It’s fast-paced, fun, and the partners are shown in ironical and humorous conundrums which get sorted by the end of each episode. The series has delicious humour, snappy dialogues and absolutely fabulous acting. And actual French celebrities have done cameos. A definite must-watch.
  7. Sherlock – Okay, most of us saw the first three seasons before it came on Netflix, but having said that, it’s one of the best series on the site. Watch it, watch it, watch it! Benedict Cumberbatch plays Holmes as no one before, and I say this having seen and absolutely loved Robert Downey Jr’s Holmes!
  8. Broadchurch – This British crime series is set in the fictitious town of Broachurch in Dorset. The investigation is into the death of 11-year-old boy which shakes up the close community. Leading the investigation is DI Alex Hardy (actor David Tennant), who is a sharp detective, but with his own personal demons to slay. Assisting him is actress Olivia Coleman as DS Ellie Miller. This unlikely duo works well. This is an outstanding series and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
  9. Shetland – This is another British crime series, much along the lines of Broadchurch. DI Perez (Douglas Henshall) is a cool, suave detective like no other. Watch it for him!
  10. My Next Guest Needs no Introduction with David Letterman – The American TV host and writer-comedian David Letterman starts the series with Barrack Obama, the latter’s first interview since leaving office. Then he interviews Malala Yousafzai, George Clooney, Tina Fey and Howard Stern. These are fun interviews and Letterman already has a deep connection with each, knows these people well, except perhaps Malala. A must-watch.

My Netflix Top 10 movies

  1. Love Per Square Foot – A surprising gem of a movie about a topic which has been dealt with several times – the hunt for a house in this over priced metropolis called Mumbai. The young couple here decides to jointly apply for a home loan despite being near strangers. The ending is predictable, but the acting by Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar, is the strongest point of the movie. They bring a freshness to the whole beaten-to-death topic and the irony and humour in the dialogues and situations are fabulous. If you watch only one movie this month, watch this one.
  2. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte’s novel has been dealt with earlier too, but this movie is well acted and produced. Actor Michael Fassbender’s Edward Rochester is a brooding, dark hero, whom one can’t but feel attracted to! An absolute must-watch.
  3. The HolidayOkay, this one is completely for the dreamy, rainy day. On a whimsical home exchange plan, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet find themselves in the other’s home on different continents, where they both meet the love of their lives. When one of the men is the dreamy Jude Law, your heart too does strange things!
  4. To Kill a Mocking Bird – I know, this is an old, beloved film, but it’s on Netflix now, and if you haven’t seen this beautiful, poignant coming-of-age story based on the novel of the same name by Harper Lee, then it’s an absolute priority that you must!
  5. Waiting – This is a simple story told simply, the powerful cast of Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin, doing full justice. The two form an unlikely bond, as they wait for their respective spouses to gain consciousness from the deep coma they are in, at a Kochi hospital. Rajat Kapoor, who for me has never outgrown the ‘pedophile uncle’ role he essayed in Monsoon Weddings, does a good job here as the specialist treating the two comatose spouses.
  6. The Prize Winner from Defiance, Ohio – This is based on a true story of a housewife who feeds her family with the prizes she wins by participating in jingle writing contests. Julianne Moore essays the role of the cheerful housewife, who tries to remain stoic and undaunted in the face of her weak husband’s moods and tantrums, played ably by Woody Harrelson.
  7. Our Souls At Night – Widowed neighbours – played by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda – decide to alleviate their loneliness by starting a platonic relationship. Well, they sleep together platonically, to begin with. Till, real romance blooms. A sweet love story about falling in love in your sunset years.
  8. The Meyerowitz Stories – A dysfunctional family has a reunion and many perplexing, hilarious situations are thrown up. When you have powerhouse actors like Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller in the same frame, it can only lead to magic, albeit, quirky, whacky magic. I watched this one with trepidation, but was glad by the end that I watched it.
  9. American Sniper – Directed by Clint Eastwood, this is a well-told story based on the autobiography of an American sniper Chris Kyle, known for his deadly skills and more than 200 ‘kills’. Bradley Cooper essays the title role with consummate ease. It’s an American movie in every sense, some jingoism included. But worth watching for sure.
  10. Julia Roberts’s Movies – Watch Notting Hill, Step Moms, Mona Lisa Smile, even if you have watched them before. They are charming, lovely movies, and one can never tire of watching them repeatedly.

Happy viewing! And till the next list…