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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ozark: Frying Pan into the Fire

Netflix checked in with another unusual, noteworthy binge-watchable original series last month - Ozark, the story of how a brilliant high-finance money-launderer in Chicago escapes with his family to the Ozarks, and goes from the frying pan into the fire.

Among the many highlights are memorable performances by even the supporting characters, to the point where just about everyone has a crucial role, and a plot full of twists and turns that surprise from the first episode to the end of the last.

Like just about all of Netflix's original series, and Amazon's too, Ozark tells a story which on first glance is familiar - the city slicker in the hicks - but on second and third glances and every glance thereafter is rich with original detail.  Marty Byrde, superbly played by Jason Bateman, finds himself beset not only by the "second biggest" drug cartel in Mexico (whose murderous rep in the U. S. sarcastically notes Byrde with his precision can't help but mention) and the FBI, but by two hillbilly or redneck families (and I'm glad I'm not a character on the show because mis-identifying one as the other could easily get me killed).

Byrde's family plays a major role - Laura Linney puts in a great performance as Marty's wife, who was having an affair in Chicago before the family was forced to leave - and the two kids have quirky, unpredictable and powerful stories, too.

There's a lot of time spent in or near and around the water, which also plays a crucial part in the story. And though the characters remark that it's a little too cold for swimming, it feels like summer - I don't recall seeing any snow, even in Chicago - which makes Ozark especially good viewing for anyone now in the Northern Hemisphere.   But, hey, the Southern Hemisphere will find lots to be glued to screen about in this one, too.

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