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Davis Journal

The Movie Guru: ‘Cobra Kai,’ ‘Ted Lasso,’ and other binge-worthy stream options

Jan 31, 2022 11:13AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Cobra Kai (Netflix)

If you’re looking for emotional twists and turns, well-done nostalgia, and some solidly good fight scenes, then “Cobra Kai” is for you. Based on the classic 1984 movie “The Karate Kid,” the series picks up the stories of the main characters more than three decades later. Surprisingly, though, the show’s main POV doesn’t come from the movie’s protagonist. The biggest focus here is on Johnny Lawrence, the main teen antagonist of the original movie.

These days, Lawrence isn’t doing very well. No one is, really, including original hero Daniel LaRusso or any of the teens who decide to be their students. The emotional journeys the characters take during the (currently) four seasons of the show, complete with setbacks, are one of the best things about Cobra Kai. There’s also a healthy dose of pure narrative drama, thanks in part to the machinations of returning villain John Kreese.

The Expanse (Amazon Prime)

If you really liked HBO’s “Game of Thrones” but wished it had been better written, you might want to try “The Expanse.” A sweeping sci-fi tale of the conflict between Earth and the people raised in our solar system’s asteroid belt, the series is a deeply engrossing mix of politics, fighting, and personal stories. Add in spaceships instead of dragons, and you’ve got enough to keep the audience’s attention through the show’s entire six season run.

Saved by Amazon after it was canceled a few seasons ago, “The Expanse” also offers something most shows don’t get the chance to. The creators have said the end of season six should be considered the show’s finale, which means you’ll get a completed story as a reward for time spent watching. Even better, it’s actually a satisfying ending that still leaves room for more stories to be told.

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

Though “Ted Lasso” isn’t as long as the other series on this list, you’ll wish it was. Even if you have no interest in soccer, the Emmy-winning show almost immediately draws you in with a mix of sweetness, humor, found family dynamics, and a genuine exploration of how messy and complicated it can be to care about people. And even if you don’t understand the soccer bits, don’t worry – even after two seasons, Ted still doesn’t really understand them, either.

The first season is lighter in tone overall, though there are still some stressful bits. (Anthony Head is at his ruthless best as the show’s main villain.) The second season is considerably more stressful, enough that the creative team refers to it as the show’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” but there’s still plenty to love. The Christmas episode is a particular delight, and will make you feel festive no matter what time of year you watch it.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]  

Credit for photo ©Warner Brothers Television