Here I’m going to offer my thoughts about some of the original series available through Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.
“Russian Doll” Netflix
Remember “Happy Death Day“? No? In the horror comedy, a young woman wakes up on her birthday to find a killer stalking her. If the killer successfully completes his/her job, our heroine wakes up again on the morning of her birthday to start the cycle all over again. She quickly learns to spend her time trying to figure out who is trying to off her, and thus hopefully ending the time loop, while dying over and over again in various ways. I really enjoyed it.
“Russian Doll” is a series about a woman named Nadia, played by Natasha Lyonne, who is attending her birthday party. Sometime after she leaves said party, she dies in an accident. Then she finds herself once again at her birthday party. Again, she leaves. Again, she dies in an accidental manner. Again, she revives at the party. She is desperately trying to figure out why this is happening to her, why she keeps dying over and over again in various ways, and how she can stop the time loop.
While the basic premise is the same, both titles stand on their own. “Russian Doll” is definitely not a horror story, but more an adult coming-of-age tale. Nadia, a hard-drinking, drug-taking, partying New Yorker does what she pleases and lives a rather hedonistic lifestyle. But frequent death can put a damper on that, and on your mental outlook. I’m not sure the exact message the show was trying to convey, but in essence it is primarily about paying attention and being thoughtful. I think.
Final Grade: B-
“One Day at a Time” Netflix
A remake of the 1970s sitcom, this time concerning a family of Cubans living in the LA area. A grandmother (Rita Moreno), single mom (Justina Machado), and her two children (Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz) rent an apartment from their eccentric landlord (Todd Grinnell) as they deal with the trials and tribulations of every day life while trying to make ends meet.
The show has its funny moments. It also has its touching moments. It has explored racism, sexism, homophobia, addiction, depression, anxiety, xenophobia, and a slew of other heavy topics. While overall I do enjoy the show, it is a sitcom, and as such has around 25 to 30 minutes with which to get a message across. Which usually results in said message coming off terribly heavy handed. Having recently posted the show’s third season, I just wish it would be more comedy and less messaging.
Final Grade: C
“The ABC Murders” Amazon Prime
An adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, we follow Hercule Poirot (John Malkovich) as he attempts to decipher the intentions of an anonymous letter writer contacting him and warning him of nefarious deeds. When the warnings come to fruition and people start dying, Poirot finds himself not only trying to solve the crimes, but facing off against Inspector Crome of Scotland Yard (Rupert Grint) as well.
I have not read the original novel to know if the series was faithful to it or not (though presumably it is more to the not faithful side of things). But like any good mystery should do, the show is full of misdirection and red herrings to keep you guessing. Rupert Grint shows he is much more than Harry Potter’s sidekick in his portrayal of the police inspector, while John Malkovich provides an interesting take on the Poirot character. Interesting and subdued, making him not a terribly interesting character. Poirot’s included back story seemed a bit off as well, and mainly served as filler.
Final Grade: C