April sees the return of some popular streaming shows like Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Amazon’s Catastrophe, season two of both shows. New debuts include the first season of Ashton Kutcher’s The Ranch, a Patton Oswalt stand-up comedy special, and a new movie written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais exclusively on Netflix.
The Ranch – Now Streaming
After Two and a Half Men ended, Ashton Kutcher decided he wanted to do another sitcom, but doing a sitcom on Netflix is a little bit different. First of all, they can swear and you’ll hear some F words on The Ranch. Netflix also allows The Ranch to be a little more dramatic than even the most very special episodes of a studio audience show.
Kutcher plays Colt Bennett, a young man who returns to his father (Sam Elliott)’s ranch after a number of setbacks and failures in life. The conflict between Colt and his father has real gravitas. The tough love is poignant. Sometimes you do have to push your kids to make something of their lives.
Catastrophe Season 2 – April 8
Amazon’s raunchy rom-com returns for a second season to find Rob (Rob Delaney) and Sharon (Sharon Horgan) struggling to make marriage work as parents. It’s still a catastrophe, as the first season promised, both major and minor. On the minor side, Rob and Sharon try to navigate their sexual relationship. On the major side are issues with Sharon’s aging parents and office politics for Rob.
A trip to Paris gives Sharon and Rob a change of scenery, but more trouble with Sharon’s postnatal biology and an overzealous hotel massage. Rob’s friend Chris (Mark Bonnar) explores a new sexual fetish and Dave (Daniel Lapaine)’s perfect new relationship may expect too much from him.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 – April 15
Kimmy Schmidt is back and more Netflixy than ever. Since this season was produced exclusively for Netflix, they really embrace the format. Most of the episodes are closer to 30 minutes. The first season was still conceived for NBC, so even though they could run longer on Netflix, they didn’t really push it because they just hadn’t prepared for nonlinear timing.
Guest star Anna Camp is maniacally fabulous, and pay close attention for background jokes. There are props behind Kimmy that answer questions she’s asking. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s writing is such that their characters will say something and just when you think you know where it’s going, they explain that it’s something else.
Patton Oswalt: Talking For Clapping – April 22
Patton Oswalt’s latest standup special is some next level satire and truth. Oswalt has a way of addressing current issues by sneaking up on the point, so by the time the audience realizes what he’s really talking about, they’re open to the message. He begins with sillier stuff like people getting bad news with silly ringtones. He turns the comedy back on himself, and on the internet, thus explaining how comedy works. You didn’t expect his internet joke to be self-critical, but that’s the point.
When he gets into trans rights issues he’s very perceptive, pointing out that if you’re getting hung up on correct terminology, that’s not what’s standing in the way of trans rights. He’s honest about Obama and future candidates. He compares film editing to pregnancy and it works.
Oswalt’s ultimate message is optimistic, which is a great relief in these dire times. If someone as smart as Oswalt thinks it’s going to be okay, that’s reassuring. He’s right to point out that things will change, but the change will be less radical. He even creates sympathy for the DMV and post office, so if that sounds impossible to you, wait ‘til you hear how Patton Oswalt does it.
Special Correspondents – April 29
This Netflix exclusive movie was not available to screen before publishing, but based on the quality of their recent original movies, it should be as good, if not better, than the crop of comedies in theaters. Ricky Gervais wrote, directed and stars with Eric Bana in the story of a radio journalist who fakes breaking news.
Gervais is a perceptive satirist so I expect a scathing indictment of what the media has become, with Gervais’ biting wit. Hopefully he nails some real targets in addition to just being silly. The movies haven’t utilized Gervais’ potential as well as his TV shows or hosting gigs, but hopefully on Netflix he will be free to say everything he wants.