Gary Does: 2016 Netflix

22.12.16 · TV

Round-up of the year. Blah blah. Well, I’ve got a good reason to be looking back and getting all nostalgic, and it’s thanks to Netflix. A groaning grab bag of superb original content (and some not so great – Spectral) which has kept me highly entertained.

Not only am I obsessed with film and TV, but music too. Netflix have done a bang up job in making original content that not only looks good, but sounds amazing too, and with a distinctly retro flavour for some of its flagship shows.

It’s not a definitive list, but more of a snapshot of what has visually and sonically floated my boat.

Stranger Things – I’m not going to add anything new to the miles of coverage given to the show and its music, but wow. Thoroughly gripped from beginning to end. As synth scores go, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein from Austin’s Survive have created a pitch-perfect synth soundtrack that draws obvious comparison to John Carpenter (the whole show is a sticker book of pop culture references). The fact that it’s synth based means that it can permanently plant one foot in the future and the past. Strangely timeless. I also bought the poster but it’s not been universally well received in our house! When I get that man cave …

The Get Down – Jumping back a decade from Stranger Things’ 80’s to the late 70’s, The Get Down was a bit bloated and convoluted at times (Dring dring. Hello? Baz Luhrmann?) but grew into something cohesive, emotionally resonant and damn good fun. It also made me go all gooey inside. Charting the birth of Hip Hop, the OST is filled with wall-to-wall classics. A bit like my record collection really, which is why I’ve added an electro mix of mine to complement the post.

Luke Cage – Treading a similar musical path, Luke Cage was scored by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer/producer Adrian Younge. Smokey, atmospheric beats, and as a cunning plan probably not seen since The Bronze in Buffy played host to early emo and shoegaze bands, Harlem Paradise saw a parade of soul/neo-soul/bluesy singers that included Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones (RIP) and The Dap Kings, and Raphael Saadiq play, in-show.

Luke Cage is definitely worth a look but warning: there’s a LOT of exposition (more smash in s2 please!).

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was strangely brilliant. It’s not retro themed, but the original Douglas Adams source material does have an 80’s British sci-fi feel to it. A bit random, ramshackle and brilliantly surreal in a Python-esque way. Max Landis (son of the great John Landis) did an excellent job in harnessing its quirkiness and energy. He partnered the perpetually neurotic Elijah Wood with the brilliant Samuel Barnett for a timeline pinging, UK meets US, character driven adventure that’s head-scratching, slightly scary at times but utterly watchable.

 It’s all glued together by Juan Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s atmospheric electronic score (he also scored the fantastic Utopia for C4). It’s emotional, melodic, discordant, menacing and twinkly, sometimes all at the same time.

Black Mirror series 3 was a masterclass in writing and atmosphere (all bow to the genius of Charlie Brooker) with each episode’s soundtrack carefully curated to fit, and with scores to match. Episode 1 (Nosedive) was wonderfully cored by post-minimal composer Max Richter. Episodes feature everything from The Pixies and Radiohead, to Kaytranada (one of the albums of the year) and Elvis.    

Honourable mentions go to Jeff Beal’s House of Cards theme and Narcos’ hip-swaying, sultry soundtrack.


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