Over the past couple of months I’ve watched some very good shows on Netflix. Yet until recently, I hadn’t put together that they pretty much all shared a theme of using multiple time-lines through flashbacks, or just multiple time-lines in general. The thing is, if a show has multiple time-lines and it’s executed poorly, it can be disastrous. The constant jumping back and forth can really screw up the viewer’s experience because they’re confused as hell trying to figure out what’s going on. Potential hot take here, but the second season of Westworld was nowhere near as good as the first and that was due to the obsessiveness of the non-linear approach. Another example, and if you’re a comic book nerd like myself, was Arrow’s flashbacks. They were really really cool until they caught up with the show, and when the writers decided to go into a future time-line, it was absolutely terrible.
Having said that though, when it works it’s absolutely great. Although it’s a non-Netflix show, True Detective (specifically season 3) springs to mind where they absolutely killed it with these different time-lines with the aid of incredible acting. When it’s done well, putting together the pieces of the puzzle is satisfying but is dependent on having great writing. I’m not saying the shows I included are the best shows I’ve ever watched, but the writing is good enough to make it work.
It isn’t clear if the following three shows will continue to have a similar theme as did their first seasons, but they were all carried out very well so thought I’d share:
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
No. of Seasons: 1 (10 episodes)
Certification: TV-MA (US) / 15 (UK)
IMDb: 8.7/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Jordan (me): 8.5/10
I’m not typically a horror guy, but bloody hell this was a great show. It’s scary, jumpy at moments, and keeps you guessing for the entire season. It follows a dysfunctional family over two timelines, one past and one present. It focuses on the family’s paranormal experiences associated with “Hill House”, and what led to their escape of the home in 1992 at the end of the older timeline.
A second season is coming our way, The Haunting of Bly Manor, however the date is currently unknown and the reported cast seems to be a little different. I think we could see it this year, so maybe it’ll follow an October release like the first season did to take advantage of the Halloween season…
The Witcher (2019)
No. of Seasons: 1 (8 episodes)
Certification: TV-MA / 15 (UK)
IMDb: 8.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Feeling a little down since Game of Thrones came to a somewhat disappointing end and need a medieval-esk show to fill that dark hole? Well here’s one for you. Based off of the books and video games, Henry Cavill stars in The Witcher as “Geralt of Rivia”, a half-human and half-mutant monster hunter. Geralt tackles these beasts for valuable coins… a.k.a money, but the underlying story all leads to a “destiny” with an adolescent princess and a witch – all of whom are in different timelines.
The show was renewed for a second season before the first was even released. The second season’s release date is unknown but we will probably see it early 2021 due to the different filming locations and actor’s schedules. Showrunner Lauren Hissrich has said that the second season will feature a more traditional narrative structure and timeline than season 1.
Altered Carbon (2018)
No. of Seasons: 1 (10 episodes) Certification: TV-MA (US) / 18 (UK)
IMDb: 8.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Altered Carbon is a sci-fi mystery that I had a lot of fun binge watching. This will need a little more explaining due to its complexity, but the show follows skilled soldier Takeshi Kovacs when he wakes up after spending 250 years in “prison”. Humans are now able to upload their consciousness into a device implanted in their bodies, and this allows humans to live forever so long as their “stack” isn’t damaged. If their body, or “sleeve” dies, they can transfer their consciousness into a new sleeve and continue living. One of the wealthiest people in the world hires Kovacs in an attempt to find out who murdered his old sleeve. The show consists of frequent flashbacks which ties Kovacs’ past with his present, all leading up to the last episode. Yes, I understand this synopsis possibly makes this show sound incredibly difficult to follow, but it’s great, promise.
A member of The Avengers, Anthony Mackie, will star as the new “sleeve” for Takeshi in the second season which is dropping on Netflix later this month.