Earlier this year, I registered on Netflix, partly because I was looking forward to watching the Sherlock special episode (alas, it's the only episode not yet available on the video-on-demand platform), and because of that I'm essentially binge-watching several series that I otherwise might not have given a chance. I'm going to divide this entry in two parts: the mafia-themed series here, and comedies next time.
Better Call Saul (seasons 1 and 2)
This is the story of how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman. Told as a flashback, the plot takes us back six years before the events of Breaking Bad: Jimmy is a struggling lawyer who can barely pay his bills. Even though he tries to be honest at his job, he slowly finds himself involved in not-so-legal cases.
At first I was skeptical about the Breaking Bad spin-off/prequel because the latter had been so good that I wasn't sure if it would stay at the same level. And I wasn't disappointed; on the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the risk of repeating the same formula as with its predecesor, Better Call Saul works perfectly as an individual series, whether you're familiar with Breaking Bad or not (if you are, you will recognise the hidden Easter eggs, but the downside is that you kind of know what happens to the returning characers).
If you've watched Breaking Bad, give Better Call Saul a chance. If you haven't, this is a good place to start.
Lilyhammer (seasons 1 and 2)
Frank Tagliano, a New York gangster, agrees to give inside information about a rival clan to the police and be sent to the Norwegian city of Lillehammer, where he is supposed to hide as part of a witness-protection programme. However, Frank (now dubbed Johnny) can't quite leave his gangster ways behind to adapt to the Norwegian lifestyle.
Culture shock, as a tool to create comedic situations, doesn't always work, unless it's done right. And Lilyhammer does it right, mixing cultural and language misunderstandings with "typical" situations of mafia movies and series. The humour can be exagerated at times, especially through Frank/Johnny's ways of acting like a mafia boss, but I really enjoyed it in season 1. In season 2, however, while still generally funny, it isn't quite as fresh and innovative, it feels slightly repetitive. But I'd tell you to give it a chance if you're looking for something refreshing in summer.