OK, so I have Netflix, Crave, Disney (for a month, anyway) , Amazon Prime and CBC Gem.
Why can’t I find a series I want to watch?
I tried True Detective on Crave, but it seemed more like sci-fi than detective. I got a few episodes into Fool Me Once on Netflix, but gave up as the story got more complex and preposterous. I finished the new season of Reacher on Amazon, but it was laughably bad.
In desperation, I took a flier on something from Amazon (which, in my view, is the weakest of the streamers) and bingo!
It’s called Indian Police Force, and it is alternately entertaining, preposterous, hilarious and culturally enlightening. It’s definately not good – in fact, it’s pretty bad – but it’s just so different, so weird, so, well Indian, that it’s compulsively watchable.
Right from the opening credits – in fact, before the credits – you know you’re watching something different. Each episode begins with a disclaimer that goes on for more than 200 words. “Any dialogue in this series,” it says in part, is “not intended to offend the sentiments of any individual, caste, ethnicity, traditions, cultures, race or religion, or to denigrate any institution, political party or persons living or dead or affect India’s sovereignty or inter-state relations. The makers have the highest regard and upmost respect for government authorities and agencies …” And it goes on. So don’t be offended by anything other than the cheesy special effects and wooden acting.
Indian Police Force concerns the efforts of an elite unit of the, well, Indian Police Force to track down someone who is setting off bombs in major Indian cities. Episode 1 is barely a minute old when a massive, slow motion explosion rocks Delhi. Flaming bodies fly through the air (in slow motion). Windows shatter (in slow motion). Cars burn in unconvincing CGI (in slow motion). Flames are everywhere, although they are in uniform size and never seem to grow. Into this disaster comes the hero squad, wearing sunglasses, walking boldly (in slow motion) into the disaster scene.
Yes, there is a lot of slow motion in Indian Police Force.
The hero squad is made up of a ramrod straight, very handsome guy (don’t worry about his name, you’ve never heard of him). He has a superior, a very beautiful woman who drives into crime scenes, then emerges from her car (in slow motion). Pretty much everyone in Indian Police Force is handsome, and that includes the evil bomber.
In episode two, we are introduced to the backstory of the very handsome guy, which leads to a three-minute musical number, where the very handsome guy and his very beautiful wife (Spoiler alert: she’s dead) walk (in slow motion) around various shrines, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes, as an Indian love song plays. “O temptor, you stole my slumber,” says the translation. “I don’t have the words for the silent greetings our eyes exchange.”
You do not get to see this beautiful couple engaging in anything other than hugging and love struck stares, as apparently anything more graphic is frowned upon. (In another episode, the evil but handsome bomber has his own love song sequence with his new bride. They are shown in bed on their wedding night … fully clothed.)
The series travels to multiple Indian cities in almost travelog fashion, which is one of the reasons the show is so watchable. But the bombs keep going off, and what bombs there are. A two-storey restaurant is bombed, and flames shoot out from every window, even on the second floor. Oppenheimer has nothing on this guy. But our heroes are no slouches, either. In a fight sequence that Bruce Lee would have regarded as a bit over the top, our heroes (including the very beautiful woman) dispatch an endless stream of bad guys. Handsome hero alone jumps on a boat, and beats the crap out of 20 bad guys, casually breaking their arms and legs. He emerges without a scratch on his handsome face or a hair out of place.
Indian Police Force is the creation of a guy named Rohit Shetty who is apparently a very big deal in Indian cinema, famous for his action movies. It appears he is very popular amongst Indian movie fans, so I’ll not say anything to arouse the ire of his fans. Let’s just say that Indian action films are even more outrageous than anything American movies can produce (there’s a car chase in the final episode that defies all laws of physics). The action is, quite frankly, ridiculous, but man, it’s fun. Stupid fun, but fun.
Elsewhere, for something a little more serious, I recommend The Allegation, airing on Hollywood Suite on Demand. The seven-episode German series (each episode is just 30 minutes) is based roughly on a real-life legal scandal, the so-called German Worms Trials from the 1990s, that rocked Germany.
In the small town of Ottern, a pediatrician discovers seemingly incontrovertible evidence that a little girl has been continuously sexually abused. A social media furor results in 26 people in Ottern ending up being accused of belonging to a local child pornography ring, similar to the Worms Trial, which went on for 300 days of court proceedings.
Actor Peter Kurth plays the brilliant, but troubled (of course) lawyer for one of the accused. He has major gambling debts, so the Chinese Mafia sends along a ruthless enforcer (Narges Rashidi) to make sure he completes the case so they can get their money back.
Kurth is terrific in the lead role, and the series won the Dior Grand Prize and best screenplay at the Canneseries festival in Cannes, France. If you want something more challenging than the mindless violence of Indian Police Force, check out The Allegation.
Guest reviewer Maurice Tougas lives in Edmonton and scans the world for hidden TV gems.