February 05, 2024

Keeping Up With Netflix: Paranormal

I know I've been banging on and on about stuff I've seen on Netflix and nowhere else, but it's because in my household, Netflix is the only entertainment platform we have. A number of reasons are behind us no longer going to the theater for movies, the overriding one being health (not mine, but my husband's). 

I'm actually good with this, though. Never had any problems turning to alternative methods of enjoying films and even series. Heck, I've even developed a preference for limited series runs versus the standard X number of seasons' long runs on TV back in the past. We've also got rid of our TV twenty years ago, so it isn't as though this is new. 


This limited series was on my queue for the longest time, and I finally got to see it (not binge, though -- I stopped binging stuff ages ago, too). It's got a fun premise, and I like the setting (Egypt in the 1960s). The protagonist is a doctor who's a bit of a sad sack type, going around smoking non-stop and with his shoulders stooped and his head bent. He's convinced he's the unluckiest person on Earth, and small mishaps happen around him all the time. 

There's a love triangle going on between him, an old university friend with whom he's always been in love, and a cousin who's in love with him and is also engaged to him. The premise of the series, though, revolves around paranormal events meant to test his beliefs. 

The series is episodic on the whole though there's a theme that links them all together, the first episode and the last being bookends that cycle him back to where the story begins. The primary conflict involves the ghost of Shiraz, a little girl who was his playmate when he was a kid. So her mystery was the one I was the most invested in, but the show still needed to go through a few more supernatural adventures that lead Refaat back to Shiraz. Those adventures are there to test his beliefs in science and use them to explain whatever supernatural events are happening. So his struggles aren't just with the outside world and all the calamities coming his way, but internally as well.

The series is based on books written by Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, and it's a fun one to follow. I suppose my favorite episodes are the ones around Shiraz (first and sixth) and the one about the naiad (fourth). The setting is really to die for, but it does get overwhelmed by the moody lighting, which is incredibly dark and murky at times that it almost feels like a slog, watching an episode. As the lead character, Refaat is a hoot with his dry, self-deprecating humor, but after a while, it does get a little too much at least for me. I think I paused my watching more and more frequently the further into the series I went, and much of the relief from his character's dourness comes from the side characters, who are much livelier and offer a necessary counterpoint to his.

However, it ends pretty satisfyingly, and it's raised my interest in the original books. I don't know if they're available translated, but I do need to dig around.

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