Check out these new additions to the Netflix streaming library for all your British viewing pleasure!
“The Adventures of Tintin”
If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s certainly worth a look. This 3D animated film is a great collaboration of a few names you may know, such as producer Peter Jackson, director Steven Spielberg, and writers Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright. Beyond that, the voice acting cast includes Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliott”) as Tintin, Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock, Daniel Craig as villain Sakharine, and the great comedy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as bumbling detectives Thompson and Thomson. If that hasn’t impressed you, the film is a wonderful combination of three of Hergé’s stories (“The Crab with the Golden Claws”, “The Secret of the Unicorn”, and “Red Rackham’s Treasure”), in which Tintin meets his longtime partner Haddock and together they discover a long-lost sunken treasure. For Spielberg’s first animated film, it’s admittedly not amazing, but it is very good and a fun adventure whether you’re a kid or an adult.
Before the American series with William H. Macy, this British show focused on the lives of the Gallagher family on the fictional Chatsworth council estate in Manchester. David Threlfall plays dysfunctional family patriarch Frank, a very intelligent alcoholic with a fairly inflated (and a bit delusional) sense of self. As characters were written out of the show, the focus of the stories turned more to the neighboring Maguire family with Paddy, Mimi, and their three kids. Netflix has about eight series’ worth of episodes. Also worth a look is an early appearance from James McAvoy who plays Fiona Gallagher’s boyfriend Steve for the first two series.
Going on for five series now, the program acts as a prequel for the Arthurian legends, with a young Merlin living in a kingdom where the king, Uther Pendragon, has outlawed magic. His renowned friendship with the future King Arthur doesn’t start so well either, relying on a classic nerd vs. jock contrast. They grow closer, however, as Uther’s ward and Arthur’s half-sister Morgana descends deeper into evil and threatens to destroy Camelot. There’s a great showing from the show’s cast, including Colin Morgan as the title character and Bradley James as Arthur. Also starring is Anthony Head as Uther and the legendary John Hurt as the voice of a great dragon imprisoned by Uther. Four of the five series are available to watch, with the most recent finishing on BBC One this Christmas Eve.
Those seeing The Hobbit in theaters may recognize one of the stars of this British supernatural show, dwarf Kili who plays the vampire Mitchell, a housemate of ghost Annie and recently-turned werewolf George. The program takes its title from the fact that each of these three “monsters” is attempting to live a normal life despite their more horrifying natures, with George and Mitchell working in a hospital and Annie in a bar. As the show progresses, they face threats both from humans who would persecute them and other paranormal creatures. While the three main characters have since left the show, it continues on into its fifth series on BBC Three. The first four series are available on Netflix streaming.
A great documentary for any Beatles fan. Director Seth Swirsky, himself a singer-songwriter with hits such as Al Greene’s “Love is a Beautiful Thing” to his credit, takes a small camera to interview many people with a story to share about the Fab Four. Those featured include the famous and not-so-famous, such as Sir Ben Kingsley, Yankees player Bernie Williams, Henry Winkler, Beatles engineer Norman Smith, and even the group’s former girlfriends and band mates. Each story works together to paint a picture of men who were musical geniuses and all-around nice guys. Perhaps most interesting about this documentary is the revelation from a former personal assistant that Lennon was growing more conservative as he got older, willing to vote for Ronald Regan and viewing his timeless hit “Imagine” as naïve. Still touching are the heartwarming tales of the interviewees about how the band touched their lives.
“Classic Doctor Who”
If you’ve only watched the newer program helmed by Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, now’s your chance to see where the show began. While Netflix once had each classic serial as its own entry on streaming, it has now combined them into a multiple-season collection from the First Doctor (William Hartnell) to the Seventh (“The Hobbit” actor Sylvester McCoy). Unfortunately, the classic serials do not start with the very first story “An Unearthly Child”, but begins with a later First Doctor story called “The Aztecs”. The first two seasons on streaming comprise stories from the First and Second Doctors, respectively, while the remaining sixteen cover the rest of the show. If you grew up with these serials or want to delve further into the Doctor’s past lives, this is a must-watch.