Netflix’s hidden gems

Netflixs hidden gems

During the last few years the question “What’s on TV tonight?” has been uttered less and less, being replaced by the new question, “What’s new on Netflix?” This cultural 180 has brought some unique new ideas to the way television shows are made, written, and marketed.

Instead of being targeted at the largest audience possible and diluting the possibility of a hit, shows can now be targeted at a very niche audience. Shows like Hannibal, Community, and most of the original programming from Netflix, have found very loyal, but rather small, fan bases. This allows the show to be better written for their small audiences.
Also, now that TV shows can now be watched in its entirety in only a week or two, shows now have the option of having a single season long plot without much hand-holding or the all too common “Previously on…” format that shows used to be forced to use to ensure that the audience didn’t walk into an episode without missing any of the big plot points from former episodes. Today shows can assume that, not only do you know what is happening, but that that you may have just seen the last episode a minute or two ago.

But, as it is in any library of entertainment as large and expansive as Netflix’s online streaming service, there are a few notable hidden gems that remain just off the radar of the casual patron. For that reason I have created a list of five TV shows and movies on Netflix streaming that I think are criminally under appreciated.

Donnie Darko – Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%
Donnie Darko is far and away one of the strangest movies that I have ever seen. Somehow feeling both nonsensical and perfectly coherent. It follows the titular character of Donnie Darko (played by a young Jake Gyllenhaal) through the events that follow a plane crash and a six-foot tall rabbit who tells Donnie the exact date and time of the end of the world. The story is dark and scary as the line between reality and insanity starts to blur and we see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

In Bruges – Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
In Bruges is one of the finest examples of dark comedy that you could hope to find without the names Joel and Ethan Coen attached to it. It follows two British hired killers (played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who, after a botched job, must hide out in the scenic town of Bruges. The movie manages to expertly balance fantastic humor with great story and character growth. The movie is a great example of how to do dark comedies justice is a definite must see for anyone that is a fan of the subgenre.

Indie Game: The Movie – Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
The only documentary to be on my short list of must-sees, it follows the stories of the creation of three of biggest independently made video games of the last console generation. Showing the creation and aftermath of Fez, Super Meatboy, and Braid it is an interesting insight into the world of a game designer, shows the harsh realities and troubles of making independent video games, and effectively showcases the truth that making video games is no fun and games.

Monsters – Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%
Ever wonder what Garth Edwards did before he made this year’s box-office blockbuster Godzilla? Well this is for you. Monsters is a beautifully shot movie about two people making their way through the quarantined zone that now separates the U.S. and Mexico after an asteroid crashes and releases giant alien creatures into the Mexican jungles. It is a Movie, much like Godzilla, where you came to see giant monsters (which Monsters provides in spades), but unlike Godzilla it offers interesting characters who last the entire movie without becoming boring. It’s definitely an under-seen sci-fi gem, which I recommend to anyone with a soft spot for giant deadly monsters terrorizing humanity.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels – Rotten Tomatoes score: 76%
The quintessential British dark comedy. Lock, Stock follows the antics of four lifelong friends as they desperately scramble to get the money they owe a major crime lord after a bad game of poker. This Guy Ritchie film is my personal favorite from him, having some of the funniest scenes and characters of any film, a winding interconnected story, and some of the best use of slow-motion in any movie I have ever seen. It is also famous for being Jason Statham’s first movie, and best role.

Firefly – IMDB score: 9.2/10netflix
Firefly is one of the best TV shows ever. Period. It’s the short-lived sci-fi show that launched the careers of Nathan Fillian (Castle) and Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and created one of the most vocal and passionate fan-bases ever (just Google browncoates to see what I mean.). It follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity as they try to eek a living on the fringe of society by doing any job. Funny, action packed, and with characters you will never forget this is one show not to miss.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – IMDB score: 8.7/10
Humor in space! This show follows either Joel or Mike and their mutual robot friends Tom and Crow as they watch old terrible movies and make fun of them. Yep, that’s the entire plot of the 11 season show, sit down, make fun of movie, create comedy gold, a true record for success.

Doctor Who (2005-) IMDB score: 8.9/10
You are not a true nerd if you have not seen this revived sci-fi staple. Following the adventure of an unnamed alien known only as the doctor as he travels through space and time (yes both) with his companions, this British import has plenty of characters that you just can’t help but relate to and care for. Last season marked not only the 50th anniversary of the beloved show, but the arrival of the twelfth actor to play the doctor. Though you may not have seen the show yet I bet you’ve seen the doctors somewhere, Christopher Eccleston (HBO’s the Leftovers), David Tennant (Fox’s Gracepoint), and Matt Smith (Star Wars episode 7) have become Hollywood’s must have actors , and it shows in the show.

The League – IMDB score: 8.4/10
Enough Sci-fi, let’s get into the comedic side of television with this FX (or FXX now) classic hilarious stand out. The show follows the overly dedicated owners of the most competitive fantasy football teams in the world, going well above the call of duty to ridicule each other and end the week with a victory. The show is very profane and vulgar, but at the same time very funny and hosting a plethora of comedic talent that keeps the show worth watching. In short funny, but not for everybody.

Luther– IMDB score: 8.6/10
Another British import from over the pond, this police drama follows John Luther (played by golden globe winner Idris Elba) as he handles some of London’s most morally depraved killers by doing things that other cops can’t do. This dark and gritty show feels almost like a long series of movies, with each episode running a little over an hour and a half, with some episodes better than the others. But the true stand out of this show is the acting, especially from Idris Elba and the assorted killers. This show is a dark and serious one, bordering on horror sometimes, but if you can handle the intenseness of the show you will be rewarded by a great show.

Well, those are my picks for the most underappreciated films and shows on Netflix. Please leave a comment if there is one of your favorites that I might have missed, I could do with some more stuff to watch.