Before they send you home from the hospital with your newborn, they really should surgically attach two more arms to all moms. Because everything with babies requires two hands: nursing, feeding bottles, holding them while they cry for seemingly no reason, making sure their pacifier doesn’t fall out of their mouth. Et cetera.
So all you can do to keep your brain from turning to baby mush is watch TV, because this requires no hands at all. Bonus points if you never have to change the channel. At Christmas, I watched every single holiday movie on the Hallmark channel at least once. Now it’s HGTV or Food Network.
But the better option obviously is binging TV shows on Netflix. So here are a few of the things I’ve enjoyed recently.
This is a Netflix original animation inspired by the classic video game of the same name. The story follows vampire hunter Trevor Belmont as he and his group attempt to stop Dracula from taking revenge on humanity after the vampire’s wife was unjustly executed for witchcraft. I’ve never played that game series, but my husband recognized several elements from it. It is also quite violent and gruesome, so I wouldn’t recommend it for children despite the fact that it’s animated.
I give it major points for the quality of the writing and animation, plus the voice cast is great, featuring Richard “Thorin Oakenshield” Armitage as Belmont.
The first season is only four episodes, which mostly just sets up the story, introducing characters, etc. The second season will be out this year, and there are more planned after that.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
I read and enjoyed this series of books around 15 years ago, and this adaptation is quite frankly all I could have asked for. The story follows the three Baudelaire orphans as they try to escape the clutches of the evil Count Olaf, who is after their fortune. It is narrated by the fictitious author Lemony Snicket with a tone of surrealist dark humor. Also the theme song is absurdly catchy.
The cast is excellent, featuring Patrick Warburton, Alfre Woodard, Catherine O’Hara, and especially Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf. The three Baudelaire children are also excellent and carry the series easily.
The first season covers the first four books in the series, with two episodes per book, and the pacing is perfect. The second season, which I am looking forward to in March, with cover the next five books over ten episodes.
I’m still working my way through this one, but so far it’s been on par with the better Marvel Netflix series.
This is a series I certainly would not have had much interest in…until the portrayal of Frank Castle was the best thing about season two of Netflix’s Daredevil. Now he has his own series, and his own season two is on the way. Frank is still dealing with the loss of his family as well as secrets from his time serving in Afghanistan; after the events of Daredevil, only a few people even know he’s alive.
This show has the intensity you would expect, and I thought the violence was about on par with Daredevil, perhaps a little more brutal. I tried watching this back in December, and while I thought the first episode was a great start to the series, I just could not handle it in my post-partum state. I cried straight through the last ten minutes of it. So now I’m trying again.
I don’t think this show has gotten as much hype as the other Marvel Netflix shows, so I would encourage you to check it out even if you haven’t seen the others. It’s nice to have a story with an antihero every now and then; Punisher is much more “grey” than the other Defenders main characters.
Sword Art Online
People have been recommending this one to me for years, and with good reason. It follows a group of gamers stuck in a virtual reality MMORPG. The premise reminded me of .hack//Sign, an anime from the 2000s that I enjoyed. Having played MMORPGs, a lot of the concepts were familiar and worked well with the story (but you don’t need to be a gamer to enjoy it).
I actually watched the English dub for this one and I thought it was pretty good. The animation is nice, too, but nothing revolutionary. I very much liked the episodic way the story is laid out; it sometimes skips ahead months to the next quest/raid/boss battle. The two main characters, Kirito and Asuna, are great, and there’s a nice supporting cast.
The tone of the story is a nice balance; it’s not very dark, but it does deal with some serious concepts about life and death and reality. The second story arc is less impressive, sidelining Asuna in a weird, rapey plot. Overall I would definitely recommend it, but it’s probably not among the best anime I’ve ever seen.
I’ve been further catching up on my anime with Death Note, and enjoying the new Japanese drama The Many Faces of Ito. I always enjoy a good BBC drama, and Call the Midwife has been really interesting to me, having recently had to do just that!
What are you guys watching right now? Any recommendations? Especially light comedy or drama! I also have Amazon Prime, and I’m contemplating getting Hulu so I can watch The Handmaid’s Tale and Runaways.