Carpe diem, seize the day!
Or so I thought when the lockdown began. I was going to meditate, get in shape, spring clean the house, cook up a storm, read, write, paint, sing.
The enthusiasm waned as the lockdown extended but I discovered it was the perfect time to dive into the world of web series. Every one was watching including my mother who always said, “There were never enough hours in a day to follow anything on the telly.” Today, she is happily consuming content like gulping water on a hot summer day.
In the spirit of solidarity with the world, I have dipped my feet in but with so many choices, I spend a great deal of time selecting. Call me tough but a series must pass my selection standards of entertainment.
I wonder, do you ask these questions?
* Does anyone else know of this series existence on this planet? Some buzz was better than no buzz at all.
* Does it have ‘Season Cancelled‘ added to its Google history? That pretty much cancels my interest.
* Extremely popular? Check the number of seasons of catching up to do. You see, each season comes with 8 to 12 episodes of roughly an hour each and if a series was already on Season 4, please do the Math.
Was I ready for that kind of commitment?
* I say commitment for in the past I’ve suffered when my love affair with a particular series soured. The story ran its course or simply turned bizarre but I followed it loyally to its very end, all because I fell in love with the characters.
Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Suits anyone?
So here goes the web specials that made the cut during lockdown binge watch.
* Featuring the strong, silent Lone Ranger kind of heroes in a fantasy land.
1) The Mandalorian
Available on Hotstar Disney+ in India, it was surprisingly addictive. It took me two days to finish. I had to keep up the appearances of cooking, washing, eating, sleeping and not be the girl snatched by the Ring Ghost into her screen.
Anyway I was hooked enough to see it to its finale and not because it was set in a galaxy far far away in the Star Wars Universe. I had read and seen enough Baby Yoda memes to know the Star Attraction.
Episode 1 was short and gripping. It introduced the Mandalorian , a bounty hunter. He wore a Darth Vader kind of mask and a tin suit rechristened beskar armour with fancy fighting gizmos like Ironman’s. In the last episode, he gets a jet pack too.
As a bounty hunter, Mando gets roped into hunting ‘the child ‘ but develops an attack of conscience so ends up running away with it. The child is of course Baby Yoda who gurgles and coos and shows off his telekinetic powers (at a very low level).
The story moves in a straightforward manner- save the child from the Imperial Stormtroopers, the other bounty hunters and also earn credits, as in money (he has to feed the kid and repair his ship). His adventures take him to far away planets where he meets exotic species and colourful characters. The Javas strangely sounded exactly like the minions and there were droids that looked like R2D2. I especially loved his band of brothers and one female shock trooper, Cara who made double the impact.
With passing references to Jedi, the Force and a single shot of the Light Saber in the hands of a baddie, it was a bonanza for the die hard fans. The newbies could rejoice in the heartwarming story, the thrilling special effects and bond over the story.
“May the force be with you” received an update patch with,
“This is the way.”
“I have spoken.”
2) The Witcher
Sitting through the Mandalorian, I couldn’t help shaking off the thought of The Witcher, available on Netflix. I mean, there were so many similarities between the two!
Did anyone else feel it too?
The Witcher was a bounty hunter who hunted supernatural creatures.
He was bound to a ‘child of surprise’ whom he had to protect from a powerful Kingdom.
The child or rather in this case a young girl, possessed powers which were only hinted at.
Oh! The Witcher was also a man of few words with his own band of merry companions that included a powerful female sorcerer with complicated history. The bard gets a special mention for singing the catchiest tunes ever ‘Toss a coin to the Witcher’ (it was a part of my playlist for a long long time).
As for the story, it takes approximately Episode 3 to figure out the characters and to realise that the story jumps back and forth in time.
Now for the plus, it has Henry Cavill as the Witcher- big, broad, brooding and beautiful.
The sword fights are superbly choreographed and are a delight to watch.
Did I mention the supernatural creatures? Vampires, swamp spider monsters, djinns and dragons; a fabulous transition series for those still missing Game of Thrones.
Also a word of caution, in spite of the fairy tale elements, this one best not watched with children.
* Ensemble Cast of charismatic characters (in Hinglish)
3) State of Siege: 26/11
I unwittingly got roped into watching this series on Zee 5. Somewhere around the second / third episode (don’t remember when exactly), I had chucked my phone and my eyes were instead locked on to the screen.
The series is a tale of the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai. The story raced, propelled by characters known as well as unknown- the motley group of terrorists, their handlers, the police personnel, the guests, TV reporters and most importantly the Marcos and NSG commandos. With well fleshed out characters, I sat mesmerised watching the events unfold through everyone’s point of view.
The story was familiar and yet the image of Taj Mahal Palace Hotel roof on fire endured. One felt the terror of the hunted and the hostages, the adrenaline charged moments and sheer helplessness of idiotic decisions.
I dare you to tear your eyes away.
A road trip with three siblings, not particularly attached to each other, thrown together on this adventurous road trip. Interesting brief ! In fact what makes this tale of reconnection good are the three leads who couldn’t be more diverse. It is a laugh aloud trip.
I promise you, you will fall in love with them especially the youngest Chitvan, a free spirited DJ. Oh ! Their names are inspired too. Chandan is the responsible big brother, home from US, nursing a broken heart due to his recent divorce and Chanchal is the sister married into royalty but cracking under the pressure of royal pretentiousness.
Seriously, the crackling chemistry, the smart script and the idea of sibling love and trials are just fantastic.
In the end, the dialogue, “Crisis ke time family kaam aati hai“, rings true.
It is available on Sony Liv.
5) Test Case
From the Alt Balaji stables, Test Case is a story of the only woman officer making her place in a testosterone filled Commando Course. She has a lot riding on her shoulders for she is the proverbial test case to determine whether women should be inducted in combat arms.
It offers a glimpse into the kind of training our army personnel undergo (it’s tough), the camaraderie and the tension, especially when a lone female is thrown among a diverse group of young men. The stakes are raised by making the commando course highly competitive.
The drama is gripping and at times over the top but the story makes it binge worthy.
Women are no weaker sex, this series proves it.
* Some honorary mentions
I particularly enjoyed Kota Factory on YouTube. It is filmed in black and white but not depressing at all. The aspiring IITians are actually a fun bunch and yes , one does get a feel of how the coaching factories work.
Other than that, Amazon Prime hits that I saw long ago- Good Omens (perfect casting and a giggle fest) , Mirzapur (any day better than Sacred Games) and Made in Heaven (irresistible big fat Indian weddings) .
So what do you think of these ? Agree or disagree? Do you have any recommendations for me ? Let me know in the comments.
Happy binge watching!
All Gifs via giphy.com