Monday, January 2, 2017

Spoiler alert: The OA stands for Only Average

Since Dan watched the entire 55 or whatever episodes of Breaking Bad, he's never been able to find another show that interests him wit the same intensity. I'm fine with Poldark (he calls it Dark Pole) or Downton Abbey or any PBS mystery show (though not a total fan of Miss Fischer's Murder Mysteries because I can't get a bead on when it was actually made or how old she's supposed to be and I just really can't believe that many murders would happen around the same person). We tried two and a half seasons of the Wire, and he found it to be dated and not very compelling. We've tried episodes of Broadchurch, Marcella, The River, and other British mystery procedurals, but he's not into those. We liked Stranger Things, largely because of the nostalgia for the 80s. The closest he's come to finding a show he couldn't wait to watch again is The Night Of on HBO, that crime drama with Jon Turturro, and he and Luke also like The Walking Dead (can't watch it--they always kill off the animals).

We started watching a new Netflix original called The OA. I liked the first episode--a woman jumps off a bridge, survives, and we discover she's been missing from her family for seven years, but won't explain where she's been. You soon discover that she used to be blind, she's been adopted by a family after her Russian aristocratic father had to hide her away, and she has survived a near death experience.  In her search to get an Internet connection, she meets up with some misfit teens and that lady from The Office and starts to tell them her story in an abandoned housing project. As she tells them what happened through a series of flashbacks, we learn that she's been abducted by a doctor who's obsessed with figuring out what happens when you die and return to life. She's not alone; he has also sought out and captured three other NDE (near death experience) people, and all of them are locked in these plastic, climate controlled cells in his huge basement. His experiment is to kill them over and over again to see if he can learn more about life after death.

We've only watched half of the eight episodes, but midway through the second episode, I encountered some plausibility problems that I couldn't readily dismiss. First of all, she nearly makes her escape when she accidentally makes the doctor a borscht stew. She has put drugs in the stew, but that's not what nearly fells him. It turns out that he's deathly allergic to tomatoes, and the stew contains tomato paste. As he's gasping for air and she's searching for an epi-pen, Dan goes, But why would he even have tomatoes in his house if he could die from them? Next, he tells her that she must save him, because he's the only one who has the code to release the other prisoners. But really, we did see in episode one that he has a telephone, and there are ways to feed the prisoners through a bin, so couldn't she have gone ahead and let him die and then gotten help? Then we realize that the story she's telling to the five strangers has to be spooled out an hour at a time in this abandoned house, and she's also told them that when they leave the house, they have to keep their front doors open--every time. For some reason, none of the children's parents wonder why the front door is always hanging open. Is there no way she could've cut to the chase the first night to tell them why they are meeting up every evening? By episode four, when you realize that years have passed with them in that chamber in the basement, you begin to question some basic logistics such as where do they go to the bathroom? Why are they still wearing the exact same clothes, including one guy, who wears the same gray and purple football jersey to remind us that he was knocked out as a football player and almost died? Why do the guys never need a haircut or does the doctor also give them regular hair cuts and shaves? Also, they do eventually figure out that the doctor is gassing them to make them unconscious (so he can kill them and bring them back), and so they trick him and pretend to be unconscious when they aren't, and yet never attempt to escape while he's leading them to the experiment site. And she does get her sight back, but manages to not let the doctor know, but hasn't yet used that to her advantage to get in the house and stab him with a knife. Then there's all of this mystical stuff, like when she dies another time, she has a vision of another world and a mysterious woman who tells her to eat a bird...I don't know. I read that the person who conceptualized it is also the person playing the main character, so it feels like a vanity project that got made without a whole lot of people asking questions about the plausibility of the plot. But still, we are enjoying it, in part because of the flaws.

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