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COMMENT: Netflix has saved me from the Late Late

Monday, 25th March, 2019 7:59am
COMMENT: Netflix has saved me from the Late Late

‘Breaking Bad’ is a modern day television classic.

COMMENT: Netflix has saved me from the Late Late

‘Breaking Bad’ is a modern day television classic.

THERE was once a time, back in the day of two-channel land, when ‘The Late Late Show’ was compulsive viewing in every Irish home.

 During Gay Byrne’s reign as host, the programme was credited with modernising Ireland and helping release the iron grip the Catholic Church had on the country’s collective morals.

It’s fair to say that the Late Late started to lose its edge during Pat Kenny’s tenure and has plumbed new depths of banality since Ryan Tubridy took over. But this is a reflection on the predictable format of the show rather than a slight on the host himself. More often than not, the Late Late is merely a promotional vehicle for plugging other RTÉ programmes and seems to have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with country and western music.

Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on a set of rabbit’s ears to get a decent television reception and we have a multitude of channels to choose from. Switching over to Graham Norton can be an effective antidote to the torturous two-and-half-hour endurance test that the Late Late has become. But even the affable Corkman’s show has become a bit formulaic and stale, often descending into a big love-in for egotistical Hollywood A-listers.

In my house, the sound of the theme music to the Late Late is generally met with a chorus of: “Let’s see what’s on Netflix.” And the streaming service rarely disappoints, offering top class documentaries and a standard of programming we have come to expect since the bar was raised by ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The West Wing’.

Netflix is particularly strong when it comes to documentaries, with the likes of ‘Making a Murderer’, ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ and ‘The Staircase’ introducing the genre to many. Recent releases, such as ‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’, also make for must-watch viewing - if you have eight hours to spare!

Netflix has come a long way in terms of its quality and content since introducing streaming more than a decade ago. It has captured the zeitgeist by pandering to this generation’s need for instant gratification. Back in the 1980s, we had to wait for what seemed like an eternity to find out who shot JR Ewing. These days, end of episode cliff-hangers are no more thanks to the new binge-watching culture we have so willingly embraced.

It has its drawbacks, of course. It’s possible to lose entire weekends to a decent boxset, where you eschew the great outdoors for a more sedentary lifestyle on the couch in a darkened room. 

Like everything in life, Netflix is probably best enjoyed in moderation – despite being designed for overindulgence.

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