Netflix offers something for every fantasy fan, with fresh seasons of many critical darlings and a slew of fan favorites on the way.
With award wins and nominations for fan favorite The Witcher, a prequel to monster-hunting blockbuster Supernatural in the works, and a new season of romance powerhouse Outlander (hopefully) coming to Netflix shortly, it's evident that Netflix's fantasy TV selection is strong.
And, with Netflix in the news for all the wrong reasons, the streaming behemoth will need some of these shows to become hits, since its empire is under siege from fresh, sleek competition on all sides.
Merlin's key characters in a row, with Merlin in front stretching out a hand towards the camera, giving a fish eye appearance.
Merlin, based on Arthurian legend, aired on the BBC from 2008 to 2012. The performances of the two stars, Bradley James and Colin Morgan, are among the show's highlights. They play Prince Arthur and Merlin, a young magician in training. Both performers bring a sense of humour and honesty to their performances, and their chemistry is evident as the show unfolds.
Merlin is the definition of a comfort show, a coming-of-age story with a swords-and-spells twist. Scenes or even entire episodes that are heavily focused on action or plot are well balanced with more comic, slice-of-life offerings. While amusing, the show's principles of acceptance and tolerance, as embodied by Arthur's transformation from a skeptic of magicians to Merlin's closest friend, are still relevant today.
Supernatural has followed the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, as they battle demons and ghouls for 15 seasons. Supernatural draws on mythical beliefs from all around the world, allowing it to remain new until its series finale in 2020.
Supernatural has been a regular at the Canadian Constellation Awards (the show is filmed in Vancouver), receiving 18 awards since its beginning, in addition to several Primetime Emmy and GLADD Media award nominations. Supernatural is entirely an action show, and despite being a cable show, the action sequences are quite realistic. Another pleasant surprise is the writers' ability to deliver comedic material, which provides a welcome break from the show's darker periods.
Key and Locke After a horrific death, the Locke family has retreated to their haunted family home of Keyhouse, according to the Netflix trailer. Tyler, Kinsey, and young Bode Locke discover keys that grant them abilities ranging from super strength to mind reading.
Locke & Key, despite being a fantasy show, has some genuine horror elements that go beyond conventional jump scares. The series' special effects and sound design, however, really set it apart from the competitors. These advantages are used to increase the tension in the show's horror sequences and to bring some of its more imaginative moments to life. Its examples of teen drama can be a little overblown at times, and it can be bogged down by not completely developed romance subplots. However, Locke & Key does a better job of dealing with loss and sadness than one might expect from a YA show.
Sweet Tooth is a sci-fi/fantasy novel set in post-apocalyptic America after a virus known as the Sick has wiped out the majority of humanity and all kids are born part human, part animal. Gus, a young, bright hybrid, is searching for his mother in Colorado in this series.
Sweet Tooth is buoyed up by its more poignant moments, such as 12-year-old Christian Convery's depiction of Gus, which has more depth than one would expect from such a young performer. Another good feature is the soundtrack, which includes the inclusion of Of Monsters and Men's "Dirty Paws" at the close of the first episode, which perfectly captures the show's image. Sweet Tooth also gets praise for its interesting worldbuilding, which, combined with the film's visual choices, allows audiences to easily immerse themselves in the universe.
Matt Groening, the man behind the iconic animated comedy shows The Simpsons and Futurama, created Disenchantment. Disenchantment is set in the entirely magical realm of Dreamland and follows disgruntled princess Bean as she defies her father's attempts to marry her off in the conventional medieval manner.
Fans of Groening's other works will recognize the animation technique, as well as the off-beat comedy. Voice acting can make or break a show, and Disenchantment does not disappoint. Nat Faxon and Eric Andre, both comedy veterans, are excellent in their performances and bring a lot of life to their characters. "The Electric Princess," the ninth episode of season two, exemplifies Matt Groening's current work's maturity and depth.
The Witcher follows Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter (dubbed a "witcher" in the series) who is played by Henry Cavill. While The Witcher has a well-deserved reputation for depicting sex and brutality, the show's more nuanced plot themes are also well-executed, thanks in part to the outstanding performance of the show's two characters, Freya Allan (Princess Cirilla) and the at times terrifying Anya Chalorta (Yennefer of Vengerberg).
Another aspect that needs special mention is the battle choreography; the minimal cuts during action scenes immerse spectators in The Witcher's often-brutal violence, all while the performers do an excellent job of making the actions look real. The Witcher has maintained its momentum after receiving three Saturn Award nominations in 2021, winning wins for Sound Design, Makeup, and Visual Effects. Only time will tell if The Witcher will add more glitzy hardware to its collection as Emmy voting begins in the coming months.
It's not simple to adapt a complex universe like Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse to television, but Shadow and Bone has done just that. Shadow and Bone is a famous coming-of-age narrative about orphan Alina Starkov, who learns to use her hidden magical abilities to defend her homeland and companions from the horrific darkness known as The Fold.
YA media frequently falls into the trap of sugarcoating the serious problems it wishes to discuss. Shadow & Bone skillfully avoids these mistakes while remaining understated. The outstanding costuming in Shadow and Bone does a good job of bringing viewers into a magical world with plenty of real-world elements. Jessie Mei Li, Archie Renaux, and Freddy Carter round out the ensemble cast, which has left fans begging for more.
Ronald D. Moore, a Star Trek alum, has done a great job adapting Diana Gabaldon's work to the small screen since Outlander began in 2014. Claire Randall, a World War II medic, travels back in time to 1740s Scotland and falls in love with Highlander Jamie Fraser in Outlander.
The show masterfully weaves historical fiction, drama, fantasy, and a hefty dose of romance into one of the most enduring fantasy series of the last decade. Outlander is rated TV-MA for severe violence and sexuality, but the show is defined by the romantic chemistry between the two characters, and Caitrona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie) are just electric.
A unique blend of practical effects, dazzling CGI, and puppetry has resulted in a presentation unlike any other. Rian, Deet, and Brea strive to preserve their world from the malevolent Skeksis in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
A star-studded voice acting cast that includes Mark Hamill, Simon Pegg, Anya Taylor-Joy, and a slew of others helps bring the characters to life in a riveting way, in addition to the gorgeous visuals. Age of Resistance has also received positive reviews from critics, earning a Saturn Award nomination for Best Fantasy Television Series in 2021 and an Emmy victory for Outstanding Children's Program in 2020.
Look no further than The Magicians for a magical school story in the Harry Potter tradition. It follows Quentin Coldwater and Julia Wicker, two young magic users on opposing paths to developing their skills.
While it does not always handle its darker issues as well as other YA series, The Magicians has a lot of heart and a sardonic sense of humor that keeps the show going. The Magicians does a better job of worldbuilding than others when it comes to fusing a magical world with our own. A good writing, eye-catching visuals, and Jason Ralph and Olivia Taylor Dudley's performances redeem the production from some of its more repetitious elements.
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