Netflix Recommendations- Hyperdrive

How fitting, just as our ‘Beast’ was in the shop being modified into a genuine ‘Hyper Hatch’, Netflix uploaded their latest original production reality game-show! I’ve heard others describe it like this, and it is one of the first things which comes to mind as well – but it’s literally like Ninja Warrior for cars! Imagine guys and girls pushing themselves to the edges of their physical limits and performance? But insert heavily modified sports cars, driven by guys and girls pushing their machines to the limits of performance and challenging the laws of physics! This is Hyperdrive!

As difficult as ‘drifting’ already is, but drifting a vehicle was the minimum skill the international list of competitors had to master to be even considered for the tournament! Then include ‘Walk on Water’ which tested drivers’ wits, insert the Leveller which tested drivers’ patience and touch, just add water…….blaster which tested drivers’ timing, and include a set of rails which tested the drivers’ nerves! And each step of the way, our nerves as viewers were tested as well! I can’t tell you how many times I cringed from seeing people’s pride and joys being smashed-up and written-off. Let’s just say we’ll never be attempting to drive through a flooded curb-side drain ever again! RIP baby pink BMW 1-Series.

Look, it’s given that rev heads will enjoy Hyperdrive, but honestly it was the best Netflix original I’ve ever seen on Netflix to date! But if you’re not a car-nut, you’ll still enjoy it as well! As it’s exciting, it’s narrative driven, and it’s not American-centric nor gender-centric! To tell you the truth, this post is a little light-on and premature, as I’ve purposefully avoided Googling ‘Hyperdrive’ for interesting facts and details, as we haven’t finished the series yet- surprisingly Hyperdrive has quite a few episodes to get through. Which is great! So, at time of writing this post, I’m still unaware of who ultimately wins the tournament, but whoever does? They’re completely deserving of the crown! DK baby! DK!

If you’re interested to check it out? Just click HERE!        

Netflix/Podcast Recommendations- Last Chance U/Hard Knocks Podcast

Wow! Here’s a first – a cross medium recommendation! But the underlying point of similarity is the fact that they’re both football reality shows!

Netflix- Last Chance U season 1

East Mississippi is a long, long way from Sydney NSW, and this is why we love reality TV, as you get a real glimpse into real lives, oftentimes quite different from our own reality. For us, Last Chance U wasn’t so much the football aspect which made the show interesting for us. But it’s the individuals, it’s the stories, and seeing a side of people which you’d otherwise never see. Be that the good, bad and the ugly of being a coach of young men; the gentleness behind a 250-pound defensive lineman; the genuine connection faculty staff develop with their students; and how this game of football really is the last chance for these young men! And although it wasn’t all about the football, it was still nice to see my wife show interest and attempting to understand the confusing game of American football (if you’ve never followed it before) e.g. asking why it was bad to run up the scoreboard with seconds to go in the second quarter? Haaha.

We’re currently taking a break before we return to Scuba for season 2 (as it was a bit of an emotionally draining series) but we’ll be back to see how the Lions go in season 2016!

If you’re interested to check out Last Chance U, click HERE!

HBO- Hard Knocks Podcast

And if watching Hard Knocks isn’t enough for you, there is even a companion app! Or in my case, I don’t have cable TV and Hard Knocks the podcast is all that I have to keep up with the goings on of Hard Knocks season 14 – starring the Oakland Raiders! Grrrrrr.

For us Aussies who aren’t all that familiar with Hard Knocks, HK is an annual NFL Films production, where camera crews follow a given team for 5 weeks during their pre-season as the team prepares for a new start to a new season. The stories usually centre on the Rookies (college kids who were just drafted to the professional world of football); unsigned or undrafted players who are attempting to make it onto the final 53 man roster (pre-season starts off with almost 100 players); and we discover who are the quirky characters on the team. For the Oakland Raiders the quirkiest characters have been their coach Jon Gruden, their superstar Wide Receiver acquisition Antonio Brown, and Rookie Johnathan Abram “Is it Salmon or Sal-mon?”

Hard Knocks the Podcast is hosted by NFL Network’s Peter Schrager; the pod is a tight professionally produced show (less than 30 mins), discussing the highlights from the latest HBO episode, further insights to the key stories through interviews with people close to the action in Oakland, and if you just can’t get enough of the HBO show, then you have an extra 30 mins of content to enjoy! Great as a re-cap, even better as a summary of the show if you haven’t had the chance to see it- due to lacking access to HBO content.

If you’d like to enjoy the Hard Knocks series in a different way? Check out the Hard Knocks Podcast, just click HERE! Enjoy!

Netflix Recommendations- American Vandal

**Note: This post contains language which may offend some readers.

I was happily listening to a sports podcast (ESPN’s 30 for 30) when they interviewed a pair of documentary producers Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, first discussing sport mockumentaries they had produced, then they flipped their conversation to the pair’s most critically acclaimed work – their 8 episode American Vandal mockumentary which aired on Netflix. From hearing this interview alone, my interest was piqued! So I stowed the information to memory – to be used later on that night.

As my wife and I were settling in for another dinner in front of the TV, I asked Google to play ‘American Vandal’ on Netflix. And with some puzzlement from my wife (we had been following other shows) I sat back to enjoy the show and also to see my wife’s reaction as I hadn’t told her that this was a mockumentary.

Dick, dick, dick! There! I’ve gotten it out of the way! Adult language warning come and gone! If you don’t like crude youth culture and the ‘D’ word, you might not like American Vandal. The premise of the show is that an act of vandalism had occurred at this suburban Ohio highschool. 27 cars in the staff parking lot were vandalised in 23 minutes with graffiti, defaced with red spray-paint depicting the male genitalia. An eye-witness claimed that school clown Dylan Maxwell was seen doing the phallic symbols, which subsequently leads to his expulsion from school (and potentially liable for the $100K damage bill).

And when the mockumentary properly starts rolling, the two main characters are Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund, a pair of sophomores from the school’s Morning Show (student news program) as they interview  students and teachers to get to the bottom of this ‘True crime’. Their motivation – they didn’t want to see a potentially innocent guy go down for a crime he didn’t commit, especially when facts and witness accounts didn’t stack-up. The first couple of episodes are still all about the crime, but as the series unfolds it delves into the themes of modern-day youth culture. And as unlikely as the show can be, it actually becomes a very interesting mystery, with cliff hangers at the end of each episode, and it does a commendable job in depicting today’s youth.

So as Episode One finished, I sat back and observed my wife’s reaction. If she didn’t know it was all fake and scripted, would she think that this was a proper true crime documentary? Would she believe that this act of vandalism actually occured back in 2016 (March 15 to be exact). The signs that she had her doubts was during some scenes she questioned how the documentary obtained “that” type of video footage. And for me, the weak link which exposed it as a fake, was Dylan Maxwell. In my opinion, no normal non-acting Stoner would come off like he did. To describe it, would be to say he acted like an actor being asked to act like a stoner youth. And then proceeding to apply the stereotypical stoner traits to his character, but not all that convincingly.  But when I told my wife, “It’s all fake! It’s a comedy!” I could sense her pause and process this new information, and while she wasn’t completely shocked by this revelation, however the acting was 85% good enough that it could have fooled anyone who didn’t know as being a real true crime doc. And after knowing this, she got even more invested in the show, and I think she enjoyed it more than I did?

For me, American Vandal just reminds me of how grateful I am that I’m no longer a teenager! Especially thankful that I wasn’t a teenager who grew-up with social media, with mobile phones always at the ready. And I’m just so glad to be out of school, just  imagining being  back at school makes me anxious, that whole playground setting where everyone has a label, i.e. the stoners, the jocks, the geeks, the popular ones etc. *Shudders*.

So if you’d like a bit of a laugh, a surprisingly engrossing ‘who done it’ mystery, and a slight throw-back to your youth? Check out American Vandal on Netflix. Click HERE to begin streaming! 

P.S. Season 2 of American vandal is also available on Netflix, and it’s even better and more binge-worthy than Season 1!

Netflix Recommendations- Dating Around/Back with The Ex

Dating shows aren’t a new concept, 80s dating show ‘Perfect Match’ immediately comes to mind, while more modern iterations like ‘Married at First Sight’ draws in the crowds. However ‘Dating Around’ and ‘Back With The Ex’ are different and refreshing takes on the usual dating show.

Dating Around (2019)

Dating Around is a Netflix original production, here a guy (or girl) embarks on a first date….but not any first date, but 5 first dates! In the same episode the same guy (or gal) dates 5 different people! Talk about ‘all the best’ with remembering their names….. Not at the same time though…..but through slick editing by the after-production team  it presents and feels like it’s all one big first date fest!

Each episode features a brand new single looking for love, and as each ep is only 30 minutes in length, there isn’t any wasted time so the interaction and show progressions move right along! Each episode follows the same formula, i.e. friends say what a great guy or gal they are; then we finally set eyes on him or her; then we find out more about them as they meet their 5 first dates; all dates are conducted at the same restaurant which helps the magic of editing, as conversations with one date seamlessly transitions to another usually when they’re chatting about the same topic; as they dine they peel the layers of the onion back until the end of the meal when he/she suggests to kick on to a bar; if the first date is going well, their dining companion are usually more than happy to kick-on…….while a few dates had declined and parted ways after the meal; and in the final seconds of the show, it’s another day, the lead walks purposefully to a rendezvous and then you finally find out who they hit it off with and who was going to have this second date with them (then fades to black).

Dating Around is less about romance and trashiness which comes with some dating shows, but it’s more a sociological experiment which you have a front-row seat for! So if you’re one who loves eavesdropping on another couple’s dining conversation,  then you’ll love this! And the show features a wide cross section of people (same sex, older demographic etc.), so it’s quite enlightening, while being confronting at times.

Back With the Ex (2018)

On the other hand, Back with the Ex is a Channel 7 Australian production, why it differs from the usual dating shows is because the couples already know each other (there are 4 couples). Not only do they know each other, but they were once girlfriend/boyfriends, some being together for as long as 6 years! But for one reason or another, they had broken up and been separated for as short as 3 years, to as long as 28 years!? What the? But for our entertainment purpose (and no doubt some sweeteners from Channel 7), one party has reached out to their ex, floating the concept of getting back together, while a video crew follows them around and films every intimate moment. Sounds interesting? Or does it sound like the most cringing viewing ever?

The couples range from a cute couple in their early twenties, to an equally cute couple in their late 40s/early 50s. And through the seven 60-minute episode series, we follow the 4 couples across a 3 week period in their lives, cameras filming them re-kindle their friendships. We’re invited in to watch them squirm through scripted scenarios like taking turns to temporarily live together at each other’s homes; meet again (or for the first time) family and friends of their ex; go out on lavish dates clearly paid for and organised by Ch7; the awkward (so awkward) drinks with all the other Exs (guys at one venue, girls at another) and have that footage replayed back to their ex, evidence of their behaviour when they’re not around; and the most exciting part for the couples (and probably the single reason why they signed onto the show) was the epic overseas trip they take together before they decide …..if they’d give their relationship another go or not.

Again, it was another interesting watch if you’re into psycho-analysing people, trying to predict if they’re genuine (and if not, if their ex could see through it), and I found myself trying to predict which couple were going to give it another shot, and who was going to crush the other’s dreams. And for one or two, they didn’t come off looking too good, not sure if being on the show might hinder their future attempts at love. I guess only time will tell.

But if you want to nosey into others’ lives, and watch a real-life drama unfold, check-out Dating Around and Back with the Ex as they’re currently both available on Netflix. Enjoy!

Netflix Recommendations- Archer seasons 1 – 3

Can you ever be too old to watch animated TV shows? Not when it’s naughty, like seriously naughty, like this!

I was starting to run out of stuff to watch on Netflix, resorting  to randomly asking Google to play this or that, working my way through my list of 471 shows to watch…But to little success (finding that many programs were no longer available on the Australian Netflix library). Boo! But what Google did locate, was Archer.

Oh boy, this animated series contains adult themes. Like really bad, can’t be repeated jokes in public kind of bad. And after the first couple of episodes, my wife told me that she was out. It was too crude for her.

So I resorted to watching it in secret, before she came home from work each night. Guilty!

Until one night when she came home earlier than anticipated and caught me watching cartoons which make Futurama, American Dad and Family Guy seem utterly family friendly!

The premise of the series focuses on Sterling Malory Archer, a self-obsessed but highly capable secret agent; his mother who runs the spy agency he works for; and his fellow spies and support staff who keep the International Secret Intelligence Service running. It’s like James Bond meets ‘The Office’, it’s as much espionage as its workplace shenanigans.

The themes are all inappropriate, politically incorrect, and offensive to many……. But it is humorous though.

After being found out (due to kick-starting an episode later than usual, and wifey coming home earlier than anticipated), I only had 5 minutes to go so I continued watching, aiming to get to the end of the episode before I had to explain myself…… But as she was going about her own business I heard her chuckle from hearing some of the dialogue (you find yourself laughing, even though you know you ought not to).

But to cut a long story short, let’s just say we’ve now finished season 3 (of 10), but I’ve heard from season 4 onwards, it’s not as funny as it used to be so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep following……

But if you haven’t watched Archer before, and you’re curious to know how bad can it be (and how inappropriately funny), check it out at your own risk – just ask your smart speaker to “Play Archer on Netflix”.

Lana: “Don’t say it Archer!”

Archer: “Whoo!!”

Netflix Recommendations- Formula 1: Drive to Survive

Hey, I want to recommend this sports documentary to you, as it’s wholly unexpected!

It’s a given that motor racing fans and dudes who are into sports will naturally watch this (released on Netflix on 8 March); but the surprising thing was that people who aren’t into F1, who don’t know anything about the sport, and viewers like my wife, actually really got into the series!

I noticed ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ listed as a new release on Netflix, then a friend (female) asked me if I’d watched it, because she had just finished the 10 part series and thought it was great! So when we sat down to experience it for ourselves I was surprised that my wife was just as into it as I was. After watching a couple of episodes, she quizzed me from interest about the format of races, the characters behind the sport (or under those helmets), who ends up winning the 2018 championship, and when I asked her if she would consider watching a real F1 race on TV, her answer was ‘Maybe’- when previously she would’ve looked at me like I was asking the most ridiculous question.  And when we were down to the final half of the series and we were well and truly sucked in, my wife would ask “F1?” when we set-up for a night in, in-front of the TV as it had become like a binge-worthy drama which we couldn’t get enough of! So what was it about this macho sport which captured the attention of such a diverse array of viewers?

Was it the young handsome F1 drivers? Was it the glitz and glam of race weekend? Or was it the need to find out who wins the championship in the end? It was none of these things! But it was just the amazing way the producers (James Gay-Rees, Paul Martin, and Sophie Todd) were able to weave in the stories of the drivers, the teams, and make it a compelling narrative which unfolded like a drama throughout the doco series- which actually unfolded that way in real-life during the 2018 F1 season. For example, the cameras were there to witness the collapse of a team; the retirement of a 2 time World Champion; and the defection of our boy Danny to a rival team. The 2018 season naturally unfolded in a dramatic way- the producers couldn’t have scripted it any better than this!

What made Drive to Survive a next-level doco- was the unbridled access that the camera crews had to the teams and drivers (when previously F1 operated behind closed doors), where we were able to glimpse behind the curtain and learn about what drives these men, the insecurities each driver possessed, and also the uncertainty that each lived under- not knowing if they would be competitive that week, if they would have a job by the end of the season, or could they become the next transcendent superstar in their sport! It was this human aspect to the sport which I think connected with the viewers, so it wasn’t all just cars and dude-stuff, but it was the people and the emotions behind the sport.

But from a sporting point of view, the production was slick and immersive. The actual audio volume levels when people were speaking were quite low, so you inevitably crank up the volume on your TV so you can hear them better. But when the scenes cut to the track, and the sound of the exhausts and the screaming engines shoot across your screen, these action scenes were at normal sound volumes thus it felt like you’re actually track side – right there as these majestic machines go hurtling down the tarmac and cause your TV to shudder under the decibels as you had the volume cranked up to 70! It seriously gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping just viewing it from the comfort of your couch!

Initially I thought I already knew most of the drivers, as I’m a bit of a F1 fan and subscribed to a couple of F1 podcasts who base their shows on interviews with drivers,  but Drive to  Survive were able to uncover stories and approach them from an angle which I hadn’t heard of before, so that was refreshing. I understand that Ferrari and Mercedes did not agree to be filmed for this season, so the behind the scenes stories for the 2 most competitive teams weren’t told in season 1. However the documentary didn’t suffer much as a result of this, not having the voice of the front-runners and ultimate winners of the championship there.  Instead we got a healthy dose of our local hero- Daniel Ricciardo (surprisingly he had a bit of a potty mouth on him) and it was good to see some of the more ‘unsung heroes’ from Formula One get their time in the lime-light.

So if you haven’t yet watched Formula 1: Drive to Survive, place all of your preconceptions of sports documentaries aside, and approach it with an open mind- I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and you’ll enjoy it!

To watch now, click here! Where you’ll see how these young men really need to ‘Drive to Survive’ in the most cut-throat and fickle profession in all of professional sports!