It was nice timing that I ended all my SXSW shenanigans on Thursday night, as I had all weekend to watch Bloodline, the new series from Netflix that I’d been really looking forward to. Along with the terrific cast in the series, it’s also from the creative team of Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman, the men behind Damages, one of the most criminally underrated and best television programs in recent memory. It was the television show with Glenn Close as a ruthless New York lawyer, and Rose Bryne in her breakout role as her protegé. If you haven’t seen Damages, you’re doing yourself a disservice by reading this review instead of watching that program. So you can tell that I had high hopes for Bloodline, and while it isn’t exactly what I pictured the show would be, it was still a really good and very entertaining 13 hours or television. Here’s the review.
Bloodline revolves around the Rayburns, a family who owns a popular and locally owned resort in the Florida Keys, with the patriarch of the family, played by Sam Sheperd, having his birthday celebration as well as a pier dedication in his honor in the coming of weeks. The family has all stayed in the Keys since they were kids. John, played by Kyle Chandler, has a wife and kids and is a detective. Kevin, played by Norbert Leo Burtz, owns a boat dock, and Meg, played by Linda Cardellini, is the family lawyer who has a fiancé, John’s detective partner. However, trouble begins to brew once the eldest Rayburn, Danny, whose played by Ben Mendelsohn, arrives after years of never returning, and appears to have an agenda of his own while down there.
Similar to the style of Damages, throughout the series we jump forward in time to preview the outcome of these characters toward the very end, and its a tool that helped Damages become as addicting and binge-worthy as it was, and works very well here. I really dug Bloodline, particularly the cast, but it does have its share of problems. One of its biggest problems is also one of the best parts of the show as well, and its that Bloodline is a slow-burning thriller. It takes its time building up the tension, and by the last five episodes in the season, I couldn’t stop watching. I stayed up very late watching the show last night because everything that the season had been building up to had finally arrived, and it was brilliant. You just have to get through the beginning and middle of the show, which isn’t bad, in fact it’s very good, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it was slow.
As I mentioned earlier, the acting is what helped me get through the slower parts of Bloodline. Everybody’s fantastic in the show, but the standouts are Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn. Chandler is one of our finest actors working today, who was terrific in Friday Night Lights and had some great supporting turns in films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Wolf of Wall Street as of recent. It’s great to see the actor back in fine form in television, and if I had to pick an area where the show deserved awards consideration, it would be these two performances. Mendelsohn, whose particularly new to American audiences after supporting turns in films like The Dark Knight Rises and The Place Beyond the Pines, is fantastic as the troubled Danny. He’s such a complicated and mysterious character, where he can be a real son of a bitch in one scene and oddly charismatic and charming in the other. It’s a brilliant performance, and its a character that you grow to either love or love to hate.
I also really dug the style of the show, and they did a terrific job in portraying the hot and humid Southern Florida area (I’ve never been to that part of Florida, but I’m pretty sure that the rest of the state is just as hot and humid). The setting of this deep south neo-noir is vital to the show, and the creative team does a terrific job of portraying that on-screen. While Bloodline does have some problems with pacing, the show is worth watching the entire way, and if Netflix does renew the show for a second season (which I’d like to see), I’m hoping the creative team can work around the pacing and we get more of the excitement of the latter half of the season. If you’re a fan of family dramas and dark dramas like this, I think you’ll enjoy watching Bloodline, and be careful watching, because I’m not kidding when I say that the show gets very addicting toward the end.