1. “Seven Seconds” (available February 23)
Why Should I Watch It? Regina King is in it. Now, I realize no one needs any more reason than that, but just for fun, let’s play this out: “Seven Seconds” focuses on the amount of time it takes to end a life and upend a community. Tackling race relations in modern America, the 10-episode first season starts with a white cop critically injuring a black teenager, an attempt to cover up what happened, and the ensuing, massive trial. King plays the teen’s mother, Latrice Butler, while the chief protagonist is KJ Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey), an assistant prosecutor who takes the case and struggles with its rippling repercussions. Timely and well-cast, “Seven Seconds” is bound to generate plenty of discussion.
Best Episode: Reviews are embargoed until February 16. Stay tuned. There’s much more to come on this one.
2. “Everything Sucks!” (available February 16)
Why Should I Watch It? Depending on your age, this next sentence may knock you for a loop: Netflix is moving beyond the ’80s-set “Stranger Things” to mine ’90s nostalgia in “Everything Sucks!” That’s right: Not only does the title use an annoyingly aggressive exclamation mark, but it dares to presume the ’90s didn’t happen yesterday as the rest of us remember quite clearly. Focusing on an A/V club and drama club who connect in an Oregon high school, here’s hoping the executive producers from “Zoo” have a few fun tricks up their sleeve for this one. Oh, what am I saying? Of course they do.
Best Episode: Reviews are embargoed until Valentine’s Day, so I’m just hoping having a review embargo that close to the release date doesn’t indicate a lack of confidence in the series.
3. “Altered Carbon” (available February 2)
Why Should I Watch It? A futuristic sci-fi noir with a big budget and slightly less big ideas, “Altered Carbon” stars Joel Kinnaman as an ex-con woken from a 250-year coma and hired to investigate the attempted murder of one of society’s richest men (James Purefoy). In this world, an adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s novel, no one really dies — they can, but only if their transportable, downloadable subconscious is destroyed before it can be transferred (like an old floppy disc) into a new body. Bodies cost money, so the wealthiest citizens live longer and better than anyone else. Filled with action, mystery, and lots and lots of nudity — the obsession with physicality is thoroughly explored — “Altered Carbon” builds an expansive world with a look similar to “Blade Runner,” if not the patience for its existentialism.
Best Episode: To avoid any spoilers, I’ll simply say Episode 4 most effectively combines themes of feeling and feelings. “Altered Carbon” wants to explore what connects the physical reactions to pain and pleasure with the more elaborate concepts of anguish and love. It’s very good at capturing the former, but the fourth episode eliminates a lot of the peripheral gobbledygook and focuses on one simple yet imaginative set-up (and a key B-story juxtaposition) that better illustrates the latter. We’ll dig into this more when our full review runs alongside the series’ premiere.
4. “Bates Motel” Season 5 (available February 20)
Why Should I Watch It? If you’ve been bingeing the first four seasons via Netflix, then you know how addictive “Bates Motel” can get. Hell, you probably caved and bought a cable subscription to see the final season as it aired, and you’re probably already hankering to watch it again. So here you go! But for the rest of you, those who were worried Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse’s alternate reality adaptation couldn’t live up to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, know this: It’s a different story without losing the horror film’s disturbing familial themes. Oh, and new Golden Globe nominee Freddie Highmore is incredible, not to mention the always impressive Vera Farmiga. Give this one a shot.
Best Episode: The series finale, “The Cord,” is quite good, but how Ehrin and Cuse brought in Marion Crane in Episode 6, “Marion” — with Rihanna taking over the role — is too savvy to ignore. There’s an excellent twist on the iconic shower scene, and Crane’s story fits into the season arc nicely.
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