My dance card is filling up nicely with the original series streaming on Amazon and Netflix. There are the old reliables “House of Cards,” “Bosch” and “Longmire.” You can add to them newcomer “Goliath.” Now make way for “Ozark.” This is a new show on Netflix that reflects a cross pollination between “Breaking Bad” and “Fargo.” In other words it is a serious drama with quirky overtones.
This ten episode drama stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, two of the best actors around Hollywood today. Bateman also helped produce the show and took part in directing some of the episodes. He is the main draw because of his ability to play likable characters who also have just a bit of an edge to them. His character Marty Byrde certainly has an edge. He is a brilliant financial planner who is also involved in laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel.
As part of the laundering scheme Marty moves his family to the Ozarks in Missouri. He plans to invest in businesses on “the Redneck Riviera” and clean eight million dollars through them. Sadly his career choices have an impact on his wife Wendy (Linney) and their children Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner).
The episodes build the tension of the drama from show to show with each one being more complex than the preceding one. There are scenes that are either dramatic, humorous, emotional or in one rare instance inspirational. “Ozark” runs the gamut but always keeps the viewer hanging on for what is next to occur.
Both Bateman and Linney are at their best in their roles of the Byrde couple. They are ably supported by Harris Yulin, Jordana Spiro and the scene stealing Julia Garner. She plays a native to the area who is wise and treacherous beyond her years. She is a woman/child who is a force to be reckoned with in any and every situation.
To be such a smoothly acted and directed series overall, there are some missteps along the way. One is the scene in which h a pastor walks into the water holding his infant son. It is obvious there is no real baby here but just a prop baby of the worst kind. It is a glaring error. Add to that the entire waste of the eighth episode. It is as bad as that clunky episode in the “Bloodline” series.
Still the series overall is one of the best binge-watchable shows of the year and I hopefully anticipate an “Ozark” season two. There are some members of the main cast still standing at the end of the series so they can pick up just where they left off.
“Ozark” is available on Netflix now.
Jackie K Cooper