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A review of the new Netflix series Tabula Rasa.
It’s estimated that Netflix will spend about 8 billion dollars this year on programming and I suspect that the presumption is that this money will be spent on Netflix produced content. Of course, a large chunk of it will be spent on Netflix original productions but, just as they have done in the past, Netflix will spend a substantial amount acquiring the rights to shows from other countries.
While the crime drama has always been a staple genre of American television, it’s interesting to discover that it's a popular genre across the globe. Thanks to Netlfix, and others, we can see how popular the genre is and how other countries present it. On Netflix alone there are crime dramas from Iceland (Trapped, Case), the Ukraine (The Sniffer), Wales (Hinterland), Finland (Bordertown) and on and on.
If you’re anything like me and love the genre, the idea that you’ll run out of crime dramas to watch is unfathomable … provided you’re not averse to subtitles … always subtitles, never dubbed.
The UK (subtitles seldom needed), in particular, really seems to love their crime dramas. Shows like Happy Valley, Shetland and The Fall could easily go toe to toe with anything that the best of Hollywood could produce.
However, not to be outdone is Belgium, with The Break, Hotel Beau Sejour and the recently released Tabula Rasa they’ve upped the ante by putting their own dark spin on the crime drama genre.
There may be some scuttlebutt and chatter about how Tabula Rasa may lean more towards horror, but don’t believe it. The show is a classic whodunit with enough twists and turns throughout the season that will certainly keep you guessing.
First things first, before you do your Google search, tabula rasa means “clean slate” and considering that the show is about someone with amnesia, it’s apropos.
Tabula Rasa comes out of the gate full throttle and rarely lets up. If you’re a fan of crime drama, there are a couple things that you will pick out pretty early on (no spoilers here).
Now that would typically be enough to turn me off and bore me, but not here. It’s as if they acknowledge the obvious plot point, shrug their shoulders, and move on. What makes Tabula Rasa so good is the ride it takes you on to get there and then how it moves forward.
The fact that the series only has two directors for its nine episodes allows for a more coherent and structured narrative journey.
Now I suspect about halfway through you’ll find yourself thinking you’ve got it all figured out. I can assure you, you don’t. Well, you might … but maybe not. You may be surprised.
Tabula Rasa reminds us that the law and justice aren’t always served together.
While there isn’t anything necessarily new in Tabula Rasa, if you’re a fan of crime dramas you’ll find that the narrative structure, the journey and the conclusion are all a very refreshing take on a reliably entertaining genre.
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