Chef's Table, season one, episode three
He's an acclaimed, renowned, celebrated chef. And he burns everything. Literally, everything. Francis Mallmann's specialty is cooking animal carcasses over fire pits. Or fish encased in clay tombs over burning embers. He even burns puddings. Mallman might be a pyromaniac.
That's not all. The Argentinian restaurateur profiled in the first season of Chef's Table is quite a character. He sacks staff when they get too good, resides on a remote island that involves a long drive and a long boat trip to get to, and only lets his family live with him for a handful of days every month. He can also only spend three days in one place at any one time. He's a nightmare. He's also thoroughly entertaining. I loved this episode so hard I burnt the next dinner I cooked. On purpose.
- Chris Schulz
Narcos, season one, episode nine
I've watched so many hours of amazing Netflix goodness, it's hard to pick out just one. I'm not actually sure where I find the time to watch four or five episodes of TV at a time, but it's allowed me to blast through the gripping Making A Murderer, Jessica Jones and countless others. But among all those many, many hours, one still stands out: Episode nine of Narcos. Titled La Catedral the episode is the second to last in the season of the Spanish language, Breaking Bad-esque crime drama, which delves into the real-life story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Everything reaches its peak in this episode before getting resolved in a massive shoot-out in the season finale. It's a moment in the show where all the insane, ridiculous and horrifying things Escobar has done and gotten away with all start to unravel and crunch with reality. In La Catedral, the hunt for Escobar is seemingly over and now the drug smuggler finds himself in his very own prison, sneaking illegal goodies into it. The DEA cotton on to what he's doing and convince some of Escobar's men to flip on their boss. They also hide cameras in one of the vans going in and out of Escobar's compound. Tensions reach their dramatic end when Escobar beats one of his men to death with a pool stick for selling him out to the authorities. It's hard to watch, but you can't look away. So intense.
- Rachel Bache
Mad Men, season 3, episode 13
The best hour I've ever watched on Netflix, unsurprisingly, comes from the best series I've ever watched on Netflix. Mad Men. No, it's not one of their original series but was one of those shows that somehow passed me by when it first screened on television. For years, friends and colleagues have cited it as one of the best shows on television and for years I remained unconvinced. Until one rainy day, it popped up as a recommended watch on Netflix. Six hours later, I was hooked. But never more so than the final episode of season three, titled Shut the Door. Have a Seat.
The episode sees Don Draper and his colleagues devise an ingenious plan to break free from their corporate overlords and set up a new firm - over the course of a weekend. Meanwhile, at home, Don's wife Betty announces their marriage is over. The explosive episode turns the previous three seasons on their head and leaves viewers desperate to know more. In hindsight, the episode marks the peak of the series, achieving a breathless exhilaration that never quite returns.
Fawlty Towers, season one, episode three
The classic 1970s British sitcom is still effortlessly hilarious and full of gems. Basil Fawlty as played by John Cleese might be one of the best comic characters ever created with his endless blustering, misunderstandings and social faux pas, despite his best efforts to run a top hotel. His relationship with bossy but efficient wife Sybil, as well as delightful young waitress Polly (played by Cleese's wife at the time Connie Booth) and well-meaning but chaotically incompetent bell boy Manuel provide much mirth, while the neverending parade of curious guests allows for many farcical situations. A favourite episode, The Wedding Guests, sees Basil losing his head when he thinks all sorts of salaciousness is going on in his establishment, much to the amusement of the guests. Perfect for a rainy weekend.
- Lydia Jenkin
Black Mirror, season one, episode three
In a show that involves the British Prime Minister engaging in some unsightly relations with a farm animal, it might seem like Black Mirror is some sort of prophetic imitation of reality. With each episode featuring a stand-alone plot, the first season of this dark futuristic satire examines the power of social media and the wrath of reality TV, but it's the season's penultimate episode that truly enthralls viewers in the most terrifying and disquieting fashion.
The Entire History of You entertains an alternate version of the world where individuals have access to the entire backlog of their memories thanks to a "grain" implanted behind their ear. It's a simple concept, but what Black Mirror does so well is that it uses it as a tool to amplify primal human behaviour - in this case, jealousy, paranoia, and obsessive compulsion. After all, judging by the extent to which we take information on Facebook so seriously, wouldn't you try and figure out whether your partner was cheating on you by rewatching every trivial interaction over and over and over again?
The episode is an example of sci-fi at its zenith, adding enhanced technological elements and making an uncomfortable parable to our existing world. No wonder Robert Downey Jr wants to put it on the big screen.
- Jihee Junn
Mike Birbiglia - My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
One of the things I love most about Netflix is their commitment to stand up comedy. New comedy specials pop up with reassuring regularity. When it comes to delivering the laughs the streaming service is dead serious.
Since signing up last year I've watched the big names like Jimmy Carr, Aziz Ansari and Todd Barry and laughed along with less well-known acts like Jen Kirkman, Iliza Shlesinger and Bill Burr. To name just a few.
As a comedy fan I've watched a bunch, But the hands-down best special I've watched belongs to Mike Birbiglia and his show My Girlfriend's Boyfriend.
More a comedic memoir than a series of jokey set pieces, Birbiglia charts the initial success and ultimate failure of his first big love. It's brutally funny, often tragic, and devastatingly poignant. It resonates in its honesty.
This incredibly clever, brilliantly written special pushes the concept of stand-up comedy to breaking point to deliver something really quite special indeed.