Friday, April 15, 2016

Television Review: Flaked Season One (Netflix)

Whenever I start a new series such as "Flaked" I ask myself why.   The answer to that question is that it is usually a cartoon and I'll watch most anything if it's animated.   With "Flaked" though I knew that I had yet to watch a Netflix show that I didn't really like and on top of that Will Arnett is in here.   While watching "Flaked" I did realize that of my three favorite movies from 2014, Chris Pratt stars in two of them and Will Arnett does have roles in two of them as well, so this does possibly mean that Will Arnett is becoming one of my favorite actors.

In any case, it seems like "Flaked" was added to Netflix when a lot of other shows were being added to other places (and Season Two of "Daredevil", "Love" and probably others to Netflix itself) so it sometimes can feel a bit overwhelming.   I don't like to ever feel like I'm watching too much television so rather than explain to you why this show is funny and full of characters you can become invested in even if you cannot relate to them personally let me tell you two of the biggest reasons- for me- that you should watch "Flaked".

For one thing, this show feels like a movie.  I know that "Unbreakable" was made for NBC and then Netflix picked it up, but even if you watch "Cuckoo" (The last Netflix series I opened up) you can get that BBC sense to it.   I've also been watching this new show for NBC called "Crowded" and that just feels like a sitcom, you know, it has the look that can date back to "The Brady Bunch" if not older.   But "Flaked" just feels like a movie.   It's every piece of the directing and editing right down to the cinematography which makes it feel this way though.

I've noticed that in a lot of television shows there are cut scenes where you can go from being one place to another.   What "Flaked" does that not every show does but should do is takes the characters from one scene to the next.   I'm not saying they don't have those scene changes but they're not as frequent which is what makes it feel more like a film to me.   It's something as simple as two characters having a conversation while walking from a coffee shop to the furniture store rather than just seemingly being teleported from one place to the next.  It makes it feel more realistic.

It does also need to be noted though that this show takes place in Venice, which just looks beautiful on film, and so it definitely helps that they can pan out in between scenes or at ends of episodes to show you wide shots of everything from streets to the beach.   This series is just, more than anything else, visually stunning.  

And then you wonder how to keep the flow going without dialogue.   What if someone is walking somewhere by themselves?   Well, this is where the music comes in.   I don't know anything about who did the music but whoever set the score/soundtrack for this one deserves a raise.   It is every song in its proper place and I can only address it to you in the way that I think it might have gone during the reading of a script.

Imagine the actor asking what to do during a scene where the script says to "sit on the couch and look sad".   Should the character cry?  How does this come across exactly?   Then the director says don't worry, we've got it covered, we're going to play a song.   You have to play the exactly perfect song to set that mood and almost act as a character itself in this show.   You can't just go to that "Cause you had a bad day" song or something people will laugh at or might take them out of the moment.   And "Flaked" does it every single time flawlessly.

If you don't want to watch this series because of the visuals and music then know this: I watched these eight episodes over the course of a day.   I watched the first six, took a small break and then watched the final two though I wish now, looking back, I hadn't taken that break.     This show is funny and genuine.   Will Arnett is on his A Game and the way he interacts with the other actors is something you can't teach.   I sometimes begin to feel like his dialogue is being improvised because of the way it just seems to come out so naturally (Especially in his scenes with Cooler)

Now, onto the spoilers.   Don't read any further if you haven't seen the show yet.   You've been warned.

"Flaked" seems like an innocent enough show but it really unravels as a Russian nesting doll or something similar.   It just keeps unfolding, episode after episode.   There is one scene where Chip (Will Arnett's character) questions what he is doing with London because his friend Dennis likes her and he is in a sort of relationship of his own.    Then, London questions the same thing outside the door when Chip is inside questioning it.    We do find out that London kind of skipped out on her marriage so at that point in time the only thing I'm thinking is that she shouldn't be doing that if she's supposed to be getting married and needs to work all that out.

And then the bombshell hits like a ton of bricks.   The driver Chip killed in his drunk-driving accident ten years ago was actually London's brother. Ka-freaking-boom.   When Chip mentioned it- which he does more than once- I never thought of putting it together with the fact that London said at one point she had a brother but he died.   But looking back on it now, something the character Dennis points out, it does seem like she always asked a lot of questions about Chip and it just seems so obvious in hindsight.

I also like to imagine- though this may or may not be true and I don't want to know either way- that this show was somehow shot so that the actor playing Dennis (David Sullivan) didn't know in advance that Chip had killed London's brother.   When George comes and breaks the news to Dennis, as we all kind of find out at the same time, Dennis just has such a genuine reaction as a character I feel like that was something you can't fake no matter how good an actor you are.

Of course from there things just spiral out of control.   Chip seemingly saves the day again only to be found out for drinking and that, coupled with the fact that everything about Chip seems to be a lie, puts Chip and Dennis at odds again as the season ends.    It is strange to think that Chip seemingly built the last ten years of his life based on the idea that he killed someone while driving drunk but really he's just been protecting his famous actress wife.

It just seems like this show was supposed to be a comedy and feels a little more light-hearted in the beginning, but then when it really opens up and starts hitting with the bombs they start hitting hard.   There is still some humor in here, sure, but what is that saying about a comedy, a tragedy and timing?  I think "Flaked" is a good example of that and even though I've had some reservations about the title it's really stuck with me now.

If you really think about it, Chip is this character who seemingly flakes on everything.   He stood up his sort of girlfriend and avoids his landlord, just things like that, but then also things on a larger scale of life.    But then this whole just somehow flaked on being a comedy, like, just kidding, we're going to make you feel things other than laughter now and it's too late for you to do anything about it.   This is not something that can easily be done but "Flaked" is not your every day show.

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