Saturday, April 15, 2017

Various Mysterious-Creepy-Suspenseful Shows

Over the last few months, I've gone through several shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime that have in common a mystery-suspense base, built around various creepy premises. You could call them horror, I suppose, though I tend to apply the horror label more to heavy-on-the-gore, jump-scare shows. These are more about the suspense and mystery.
Stranger Things (Netflix) Season One - The best part about Stranger Things for me wasn't the actual mystery, though that's perfectly well executed (despite laying on the "scary monster" stuff a bit thick). Same with the casting and acting performances, all of which are done well. No, the best part is the nostalgia, because Stranger Things is set in the 1980s in a small town in Indiana. I grew up in that era, and lived in a succession of small towns (and both parents came from small towns in the Midwest). Nerdy kids playing D&D in a basement, people using rotary phones, grainy old standard-definition TVs: it all gives me that "man, I remember those days" feeling. Stranger Things would be a solid suspenseful mystery in any setting, but in this particular one it's a great show for my generation.

The OA (Netflix) Season One - I had no idea what to expect when I started watching The OA - didn't even realize it existed until it popped up as a Netflix recommendation. What I got was an engrossing mystery, told from the perspective of a possibly-insane protagonist who draws several others into her orbit. At least, until the last half of the very last episode, at which point the whole thing takes a very strange and (for me) unsatisfying turn. I'm still glad I watched this season, and if they make a second one I'll give it a chance, but I sure hope they come up with a more interesting ending.

Fortitude (Sky Atlantic, via Amazon Prime Video) Season One - Fortitude is about a town built in arctic Norway, originally for mining, which is in the process of a crisis as the mines play out. There's plenty of political intrigue as science researchers, the miners, and tourism proponents clash. Into this mix comes a series of murders, and the unwelcome outside attention that comes with such things. The characters are really well-written and complex - almost no one is all good or all bad, lots of shades of gray. Gorgeous camera work in the landscape shots, too (at least, as long as you like snow). The big mystery was a bit of a letdown for me, since it was foreshadowed so heavily early on, but it's still a fun ride getting to the answers.

The Kettering Incident (Foxtel, via Amazon Prime Video) Season One - After watching the eight episodes that currently exist, I'm not much of a fan of The Kettering Incident. I enjoyed the build-up of the mystery and liked several of the characters, but it feels unfinished. The last episode just sort of ends, with what I thought was an unsurprising reveal - that particular "surprise" had a whole lot of foreshadowing in the last couple of episodes. Rumor has it that a second season is in the works, which could change my mind if it picks up the story and has a more satisfying conclusion.

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