By Peter Hummers on August 24, 2019
In the previous millennium, Netflix was the company that mailed DVD rentals to their subscribers and Amazon was a growing online book store.
Times have changed, and these companies are now challenging television networks as viewing destinations. Netflix (10.99/month) and Amazon Prime Video (included with Amazon Prime membership at 12.99/month) are available as “channels” on the Roku set-top box and Amazon’s Firestick TV, as apps for Android and Apple’s ios, and included with many cable/satellite systems. Both started by offering TV shows inherited from the networks, and now are producing their own movies and series. Today, I’ll look at an outstanding Amazon Prime series and two worthy shows from Netflix.
This Los Angeles-set 2014 series is taken from the noir detective novels of Michael Connelly and its sixth season on Amazon has been confirmed. Titus Welliver (Deadwood) plays Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, a hard-boiled L.A. detective who grew up in foster homes after his prostitute mother was murdered. He is an insubordinate investigator who plays by his own rules, and he’s in hot water in the series opener for shooting a suspect.
He has made a lot of money as a Hollywood consultant and lives overlooking the vast lights of L.A. in an opulent hillside home. His ex-wife is a professional gambler who once worked for the C.I.A. and currently lives in Hong Kong with her boyfriend. Bosch’s teenaged daughter splits her time between her parents.
Along with his skeptical partner, Jerry “J” Edgar (Jamie Hector, The Wire), Bosch investigates odd cases between deconstructing his mother’s unsolved cold case. Sometimes he sees parallels, and at one point feels confident that a current suspect might also fit the bill as his mother’s killer.
“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.”
This acclaimed 2015-2017 Netflix series boasted a deep bench of talent including Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, John Leguizamo, Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard. Spacek and Shepard are the owners of a seaside hotel in Islamorada, Florida. Three of their grown children live in the town. John Rayburn (Chandler) is a sheriff’s detective, Meg (Cardellini) is a lawyer with a local law firm, and slacker Kevin owns a marina.
Their world is upended when their smart black-sheep eldest brother Danny (Mendelsohn) returns for the dedication of a pier on the 45th anniversary of their parents’ hotel. John’s voice-over in the first episode promises, “Sometimes you know something’s coming. You can feel it. In the air. In your gut. And you don’t sleep at night. The voice in your head is telling you that something is going to go terribly wrong and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. That’s how I felt when my brother came home.”
Drifter Danny decides to stay in town and falls in with his outlaw friend, eventually putting the entire family at risk. The Rayburns’ dark past is gradually revealed when John takes steps to deal with his brother’s lawlessness, a past not known even to some in the family.
Another unconventional gem from Netflix, Ozark (2017) is the story of the Byrde family. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman in a rare serious role) is a respectable Chicago money manager and as the series opens, he and his partner are being disciplined by the representative of a Mexican drug cartel for whom they’ve been laundering money, and from whom they’ve been stealing.
When his partner is killed during the meeting, Marty digs deep and suggests to Del, the cartel’s man, that he is worth more to them alive. He recalls a travel brochure he had been given and promises to make it up to Del by laundering millions of cartel dollars in the resort community Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.
Marty’s wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and teenaged children are shocked by their sudden and hurried move from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, but finally sign on for an ultimate family adventure. Marty and Wendy search for businesses to buy or invest in in the rustic, seasonal resort area not unlike the Outer Banks, home to wealthy tourists and crusty locals, which include criminals with ideas of their own about Marty’s money.
The Byrdes, when settled, find the local waters roiled by forces not dreamed of by the tourists. Their antagonists include the cartel, anxious about its investment in Marty, the feds, who are watching him after his partner’s murder and his sudden relocation, a local and vicious crime family, and the young daughter of a family of petty thieves who rivals all of the above. Marty’s own hubris plays its part in his ongoing troubles, but his quick thinking saves him from increasingly dire straits – so far.
Season 3 of Ozark will drop this year. Jason Bateman has tweeted, “I’m happy for me, but concerned for Marty – it’s official OZARK 3 is on its way.”
More underrated streaming gems next time. Email me here and follow Stream On OBX on Twitter.
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