I read an article recently about why there isn’t an overabundance of admirable options for TV shows and movies on streaming sites like Netflix. The amount of time that it takes for these quality choices to become available is at least three to five years following a long journey of appearing in hotel pay-per-views and airline flights. That’s why most of you will understand when I say that it always feels good to score with a hidden gem every now and again. Here are some pretty sweet scores that I’ve uncovered in my searches lately. Enjoy!
Rectify (Sundance TV, 2013)
This was actually a show I found that came recommended by someone that brought it up on a Breaking Bad-related web post and I decided to check it out. Rectify focuses on Daniel Holden, a man who lived on Georgia’s Death Row for 19 years after being convicted of the rape and murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend, Hanna, when he was a teen. To Daniel and his family’s surprise, a vacated judgment is ruled over his case due to the introduction of new DNA evidence. What follows is the process Daniel must go through in order to go back to living a normal life, or at least the closest thing to it. Along the way he encounters bumpy paths with his step-father and step-brother, angry locals who think he’s still guilty, and a crooked politician with a taste for the town diner’s waitress, but won’t allow Daniel’s innocence to ruin his public image.
The concept of the show really turns out to be complex, as it not only focuses on the big differences in re-learning life, like how to socialize with people, but the subtle ones, like walking into a convenience store and seeing brands or products you don’t recognize at all. The show was originally going to air on AMC before ending up as the first original series from Sundance TV. It is a show with quality up-to-par with many shows produced by AMC as of late with great cinematography, timely flashbacks and deep character progression, all topped off with a gripping season finale. The cast seems uncertain of their chemistry at times, but almost adds to the reality of the awkwardness the family must be facing by almost adopting a new member. There is only currently one, six-episode season on Netflix, with the second airing in the fall of this year. Obviously that means it’s an enticing opportunity for binge watchers, but won’t take very long to finish.
Mud was one of the few films that I really wanted to see, but missed when it came out. Opening with a limited release in select theaters, the movie stars Matthew McConaughey as a fugitive who is happened upon by two teenage boys looking to commandeer a boat stuck high in the trees on an island where he happens to be living. In exchange for Mud’s .45 pistol and the boat, they make a pact with the mysterious man, who claims to have grown up in the area and looking to reunite with his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Mud explains that he murdered a man who impregnated Juniper and pushed her down the stairs, killing the child. The two boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), agree to help Mud and risk everything to keep him hidden as well as assist in communicating with Juniper.
The film got pretty good ratings for one that’s popped up on Netflix rather soon after its screen time, and the cast is a nice combination of new and familiar faces. Along with McConaughey and Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) and Ray McKinnon (ironically the creator of Rectify) round out a balanced group.
666 Park Avenue (ABC, 2012-13)
This one caught my eye with the presence of Terry O’Quinn, who is no stranger to ABC, best known as John Locke from the channel’s previous success, Lost. The story here revolves around an apartment building in the Upper East Side of Manhattan called “The Drake” (The Ansonia in real life), owned and operated by the Dorans, Gavin (O’Quinn) and Olivia (Vanessa Williams). Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable) are an ambitious couple from Indiana who have taken on the position of co-manager of the building and quickly witness the dark forces within it. Here, all of your deepest wishes and desires can be made reality, but at a price. Whether it’s the two-timing tenant who used a loan to gamble on horse racing, or Henry the aspiring politician, fortune and fame can be made real by The Drake and its mythical owner who just might seduce you into selling your soul to the devil.
Another bittersweet one-season stint with this show as well, as it was cancelled due to low ratings after only 13 episodes, but promises to tie up loose ends by the conclusion. I’m about halfway through and around then it really tests how far you’re willing to go to see how the season ends, but again, it’s an addicting chance for those looking to binge-watch or even fill time waiting for something more delectable. O’Quinn leads a hit-or-miss cast that sadly, sometimes results in good actors with potential being limited by a poor script.
Overall, the concept is definitely the primary reason to stick it out, along with ABC’s knack to generate suspense at all the right times.