I love a gripping series that hooks me right to the very end – what I’m less fond of though is a gripping series where once finished I have to read an online guide to work out what the hell just happened. No seriously, I might not be the most canny streaming watcher but if you need someone to draw you a diagram to figure a show out, maybe it’s a little too clever for it’s own good? (Or maybe I’m an idiot – could be a little in column A, a little in column B..)
In the last two weeks I’ve come across two that fit this particular bill. The most recent did make sense when I read the ‘What’s going on here then?’ write up, the other though was completely beyond saving..
Content warning, there will be possible (but very vague ones at best) for the shows Inside Man and 1899 on Netflix. If you haven’t see either of them yet and want to before I possible ruin everything, maybe bookmark this page and come back after the possible confusion to see if I’m correct or not.
What’s going on with Inside Man on Netflix?
Official blurb: A prisoner on death row in the US and a woman trapped in a cellar under an English vicarage, cross paths in the most unexpected way.
My take: David Tennant does something incredibly stupid to protect his family while Stanley Tucci tries to figure out what’s going on from the other side of the world before things get really messed up. Which of course they do.
We start with the show that made far more sense (even though quite a few reviews have pointed out there’s plot holes wide enough to park a bus in and technically the whole thing could’ve ended on the first episode if everyone paused for a brief moment of common sense.) There’s a protective vicar (David), a death row inmate who’s more clever than the entire prison system put together (Stanley), a maths tutor who seems to be very manipulative (Dolly Wells) and a uber curious crime journalist who gets them all connected in a bit of a roundabout way (Lydia West.)
Why trying to help one of his parishioners, David does something pretty stupid. And then follows up the hole he’s dug himself by digging an even bigger one, shovelling out even more Earth with each episode and before too long he’s in so deeply, you can barely make him out in the gloom. This involves the tutor who has recently become good friends with the journo and a hastily sent photo message quickly has Beth the crime fan on the trail of what’s going on, using the master mind of Stanley to put her on the right path because she happens to be in his universe when the bad stuff goes down.
And plot holes and travel logistics aside, this is a great (and tense) four part mini series on how one bad day can set someone down the path of no return (a similar theme in the comic The Killing Joke). And as much as you want to throw furniture at the screen every time the vicar does something even stupider than the last idiotic idea (this has to be Tennant’s most unluckiest character), for the most part you know what’s going on, it’s really not that vague.
No the Google reaching confusion I had was in the dying minutes of this series and they occurred at a couple of points – one involving the strange gentlemen who suddenly appear when you least expect them to (who are these guys with the shovels and what are they doing there?) and the second is who shows up in the post credits scene.
An online guide solved my first burning question quick smart (one of those ‘ahh well that makes perfect sense then, carry on!’ moments) but the second query not so much, leading to even more questions than answers. I already had to consult the oracle to satisfy my curiosity, why do you have to make my confusion pile on something I thoroughly enjoyed watching even bigger than before?
Still, it certainly isn’t confusing or chock a block full of questions like 1899 on Netflix, so that’s a start..
So what’s going on with 1899 on Netflix?
Official blurb: Multinational immigrants travelling from the old continent to the new encounter a nightmarish riddle aboard a second ship adrift on the open sea.
My take: Old ship full of interesting characters suddenly has to take a detour to investigate another ship and that’s just the beginning of when things really start to go off the rails in the most head scratching of ways..
Oh god oh god oh god oh god, what in the nine hells of strange streaming is going on with this one? What starts as a great premise soon dissolves into an absolute melting pot of confusion and chaos that needs its own version of cliff notes just to keep you vaguely on the same page. And then you get to the end of it where everything suddenly jumps out of its own window laughing maniacally and you really wonder what it was you gritted your teeth and sat the entire way through.
Well that’s how I felt before I went to Google again to problem solve this one and I came back even less enthused than when I started. Please note 1899 on Netflix, that’s not like I like to spend my viewing habits..
So there’s an old cruise ship full of interesting characters both rich and poor and they’re off to the US in what should be a really uneventful and cruisy getaway trip. But this isn’t ‘Uneventful Old Cruise Ship Party’ we’re watching, this is 1899 on Netflix where most people on that ship seem to be on the run or escaping from something back home and not really that keen to turn back for anything, especially an lost ship that suddenly made itself surprisingly un-lost again. But the captain does decided to check it out (the ship he’s on and the one that’s just turned up below to the same company so that does make sense) and soon dragging a derelict boat behind their own leads everything going to absolute hell.
In 1899 on Netflix this Hell includes: Jumping into a lot of dark holes in cabins, walking into different realities, strange pyramids, the French Foreign Legion and lock picking bugs. Yes, I wish I was making that last one up. Oh and this creepy kid, because every strange show needs a creepy kid to keep guessing at.
I’m not even going to describe the ending to this one nor how the massive twists and turns it took to get there, suffice to say that by the point where people were jumping in and out of realities via portals just hanging there in mid air then that’s when I started to get lost. And by the end I felt that even with two hands, a map and a compass and the writers of the show communicating through an ear piece, I’d still be horribly lost never to be found again.
And that’s after reading this ending guide twice now. No matter how many times I get into it, it’s not making things any clearer and it certainly isn’t making me appreciate having watched 1899 right through to the end credits. (I don’t think the suggestion of watching 1899 on Netflix with subtitles instead of the strange dubbed version will help either.) The article I just linked called for a sequel to this series at once but even if it’s half as confusing as the first, I know I won’t be keen to experience the intense migraine I’m going to endure to solve the mystery or at least make some sense of things.
So why didn’t give up earlier then? Beats me, seems I still have a lot to learn when it comes to streaming.
No Netflix, just no! At the end of the day I want something enjoyable to sink my eyes and ears into, something gripping that won’t keep me awake late at night when I should be sleeping, wondering what the hell just happened. Is that too much to ask?