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Old 02-01-2019, 11:15 AM
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Russian Doll on Netflix (open spoilers)


I'm a teacher and ended up with an unusual situation. My own kids have school while I received another cold/snow day. I had zero expectation for this one, so I had....zero plans.

I've been watching a new show that hit Netflix today called Russian Dolls.

It's like Groundhog Day. Or even more, it's like Happy Deathday. Lady dies, repeats the same day over and over. It's only 25 minutes long per episode, by the way.

I'll go full open spoilers in the next post, but would love to hear others thoughts as(or after) you watch.
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:17 AM
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I have seen 5 of the 8 episodes as I write this and the show has really improved by adding Alan, the guy who is also dying and repeating the same day.

I kind of hated Nadia for the first couple of episodes, but she has grown on me as the episodes have gone on.

It's listed on Wikipedia as a comedy, but I don't find it funny as much as it is interesting.

Anyone else watching?
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:55 AM
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I plan on trying it.

If there are two people repeating, does it borrow any influence from the Ken Grimwood novel Replay?

Do you see any homages or influence from the other GHD-like films, such as 12:01?
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:45 PM
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I've finished it now and liked it and its ending quite a bit. Very cute and a much better show than the first 2-3 episodes indicated.

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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
Do you see any homages or influence from the other GHD-like films, such as 12:01?
A song always plays when she restarts her day, much like Groundhog day or the Supernatural episode like this.

Death triggers a restart, though it seems to be required here and wasn't in GHD.

The theme of "solving problems" or "fixing life" comes up in both.
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Old 02-01-2019, 02:33 PM
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Fixed typoes in title
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Old 02-02-2019, 02:09 PM
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How Russian Doll uses Groundhog Day to make a better—not necessarily novel—show
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:02 AM
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I finished watching it yesterday. Ultimately, I thought it was a longer, less funny version of "Groundhog Day".

It was interesting in parts, but I think it was only partially successful at having a greater emotional or dramatic depth. Maybe it would have had more impact if I had grown up with serious mother issues or something.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:21 AM
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I just finished watching it, I loved it. I thought it was really funny, Nadia had a lot of great lines, Max was funny, and some of the visual things were funny, like when Nadia repeatedly fell into the open basement doors. The editing was also really great, with the knocking of each reset, and that changing as it went, and the music cues in the episode.

Natasha Lyonne was great as Nadia, both hilarious and emotional. I've never seen the actor who played Alan before, he was very good and I can imagine him being big in the future. Also Netflix seems to have learned from some previous series, this one was the perfect length of time, enough to get into weirdness but didn't drag it out too long.
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by hogarth View Post
I finished watching it yesterday. Ultimately, I thought it was a longer, less funny version of "Groundhog Day".
It's definitely not standing out in my mind much a few days later.

I hated Nadia the first 3 episodes. Thing is, Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day was supposed to be hated, but they set his character up in a way where we hated him, but enjoyed watching his journey through the experience.

The show would have done better to star with Alan and watch him get comfortable with his routine. Then, he meets Nadia and her strong-willed personality pushes them to solve the problem.

I could almost start this show with episode 4.
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Old 02-03-2019, 07:16 PM
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The dialogue and symbolism is clever enough to be entertaining, if at no point subtle (God, Schrödinger's Cat, goldfish bowls, "the illusion of free will", the video game, various minor characters' rants, etc); arguably not clever-clever, and by no means original. But the number and length of episodes are short enough that it's easy to watch without having it drag out (or are there supposed to be multiple seasons?)

It did make me wonder who came up with the original Groundhog Day concept. The earliest that pops into mind is Nietzsche, but does it go as far back as classical philosophy?
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Old 02-03-2019, 07:29 PM
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It did make me wonder who came up with the original Groundhog Day concept. The earliest that pops into mind is Nietzsche, but does it go as far back as classical philosophy?
Christmas Every Day from 1892 is the first.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:23 PM
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Christmas Every Day from 1892 is the first.
According to Wikipedia, The Gay Science was published by 1882, so that still does not beat Nietzsche:
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What if a demon crept after thee into thy loneliest loneliness some day or night, and said to thee: "This life, as thou livest it at present, and hast lived it, thou must live it once more, and also innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh, and all the unspeakably small and great in thy life must come to thee again, and all in the same series and sequence—and similarly this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and similarly this moment, and I myself. The eternal sand-glass of existence will ever be turned once more, and thou with it, thou speck of dust!"—Wouldst thou not throw thyself down and gnash thy teeth, and curse the demon that so spake? Or hast thou once experienced a tremendous moment in which thou wouldst answer him: "Thou art a God, and never did I hear aught more divine!" If that thought acquired power over thee, as thou art, it would transform thee, and perhaps crush thee; the question with regard to all and everything: "Dost thou want this once more, and also for innumerable times?" would lie as the heaviest burden upon thy activity! Or, how wouldst thou have to become favourably inclined to thyself and to life, so as to long for nothing more ardently than for this last eternal sanctioning and sealing?—
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:34 PM
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God, Schrödinger's Cat, goldfish bowls, "the illusion of free will", the video game, various minor characters' rants, etc
Also the matryoshka of the title, as if that needed saying, not to mention the main character's name (!). It's all openly in your face.

I feel like they should quit while they are ahead; the story does not need a sequel any more than did The Matrix.

Last edited by DPRK; 02-03-2019 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 06:22 AM
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I feel like they should quit while they are ahead; the story does not need a sequel any more than did The Matrix.
The movie "Edge of Tomorrow" showed that it was possible to put an interesting twist on the "rebooting" idea. But I thought "Russian Doll" suffered a bit from being so similar to "Groundhog Day". If someone told me there was a director's cut of "Groundhog Day" with 10 minutes of comedy removed and 70 minutes of dramatic scenes added, I'm not sure I'd rush out to see it.

By the way, I thought there were some very funny scenes, especially the physical comedy (like walking down stairs). But pacing seemed a bit weird when mixed with all of the more serious plot.
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:09 AM
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Thank you for the recommendation, I love films about time loops. I'll check it out tonight after work.
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:16 PM
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I just watched all 8 episodes. What struck me was how did all these people afford such large, nice apartments in New York City? Thats probably the wrong lesson, but it reminds me of something I heard about home alone. You know you're an adult when you watch home alone and you keep trying to figure out what Kevin McCalister's dad did to afford such a large house.

This show got much better in the middle and final episodes. I also noticed at least 3 actors from orange is the new black are in this.
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:44 PM
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In the last week I've watched Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, and now all of Russian Doll, three similar yet quite different shows.

At least Happy Death Day acknowledged Groundhog Day, and though the AV Club article referenced above talks about it, Russian Doll must be in a different universe than the rest of us, since whether intentionally or not, no one in Russian Doll is aware of the other movies.

I really like Natasha Lyonne; I think that on re-viewing of American Pie that she's the best part of that movie (well, maybe the second best part). Her character her is just as smart assed, smoking and drugging up like there's no tomorrow and like no one cares. That's the whole point of the series: no one cared for either of the two repeating characters, and they need to find lives where someone does care for them.

The music throughout was interesting, and Lyonne has a nice comic flair. For much of the timeI thought she was doing a Pamela Adlon impression. Like others have said, the first few episodes with just her doing all of the dying were pretty raw, and only when Allen shows up in episode 3 do the rough edges calm down a bit. By the end it captivated me enough to look forward to a second season.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:22 PM
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Just finished and I loved the whole thing.

While the Groundhog Day influence is obvious, to me it most of felt much more like an extended Black Mirror bit. Their programming and games references were pretty solid even to her explicit stating that this is a bug in the code.

Strongly disagree that "no one cared for either of the two repeating characters" - others cared deeply for each of them. They each though had aspects that were pushing others away, her more intentionally than him.

Her voice mannerisms as Nadia had me thinking of Peter Falk more than anyone else though! Was I alone in hearing that?
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:32 PM
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Their programming and games references were pretty solid even to her explicit stating that this is a bug in the code.
She quickly fixed it, though And, when it came down to it, was willing to play her own game.

Quote:
Strongly disagree that "no one cared for either of the two repeating characters" - others cared deeply for each of them. They each though had aspects that were pushing others away, her more intentionally than him.
The fruit was only rotten on the outside...

Quote:
Her voice mannerisms as Nadia had me thinking of Peter Falk more than anyone else though! Was I alone in hearing that?
Well, they are both from New York. But I would love to hear about any deeper connection.
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Old 02-09-2019, 07:58 PM
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I just watched it. Like others I thought it got much more interesting when Alan showed up.

At first I found Nadia and her friends irritating and was actually on the verge of giving up and finding something else to watch, and then Alan showed up at the end of episode 3 (or was it 4?). That's when it started to get interesting.

It sounds like there's a good chance of there being more episodes.
https://www.digitalspy.com/tv/ustv/a...-plot-trailer/
Quote:
You might think, having watched season one, that the story is done. How could they do another? Well, co-creator Leslye Headland told The Hollywood Reporter, "We pitched Netflix three seasons of the most bonkers, heartfelt, passionate, this-is-what-we-truly-feel-like-is-our-story-to-tell idea… And they said: 'Great, the more of that the better.'"
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Old 02-09-2019, 09:53 PM
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I liked this. I’m leary of TV series that offer up an interesting scenario — but that I can’t trust to have a good resolve. (So, I quit LOST after one or two episodes.) In the case of Russian Doll I just did not care because the production, acting and writing were great quality.

The fact that it was so similar to Groundhog Day was actually a virtue. Bill Murray was excellent in Groundhog Day, but the moral lesson was fuzzy and trite — I had no expectations that Russian Doll would have a decent payoff, so I just enjoyed the ride with no concern for the destination.
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Old 02-09-2019, 09:59 PM
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I watched it all in the last few days, and I really enjoyed it. Nadia was kind of horrible from the start, but horrible in a way that I really enjoyed watching. Great dialogue and character work.

I'm not sure how exactly they could go forward, at least not with the same premise (same day repeating). But if they explore some other sort of "glitch in the matrix" type scenarios, that don't cover the same ground, then perhaps. I'll certainly give the next season a try if it gets one.
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Old 02-10-2019, 07:31 AM
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I watched it all in the last few days, and I really enjoyed it. Nadia was kind of horrible from the start, but horrible in a way that I really enjoyed watching. Great dialogue and character work.
Nadia didn’t seem horrible, she seemed like a funny, caring, mostly self-assertive person. In fact she had a room full of friends. Her big flaw was wide-ranging drug use and occasional unprotected sex with strangers — but apparently she wasn’t dying from a STD, and wasn’t addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth, opioids or sex.

Alan points out that she broke up John’s marriage, but hey, John is portrayed as mostly an adult, so it’s mostly on him. Nadia isn’t portrayed as a compulsive amoral seducer.

Alan, on the other hand, is kind of horrible, with compulsions but no real virtues. I did not enjoy his introduction. Presumably he was required by the “plot”, but I really did not take the plot seriously. I hope there is not a continuation.
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:15 AM
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I binge-watched it yesterday afternoon, and really enjoyed it!

I honestly don't get all of the reactions along the lines of "it was pretty much just another Groundhog Day" (a movie I love and have watched, uh, repeatedly). The only similarity is in the idea of a repeating day, but even on that account Russian Doll was different because sometimes she wouldn't die until the next day. In GD there was no second "repeater" or effects on the rest of the world from the repeats; in RD, no one underwent a personality change or fell in love. And the song that played every time Nadia reset -- Harry Nilsson's "Gotta Get Up" -- wasn't heard by any of the characters: it wasn't playing at the party, or on the radio, etc. It was only heard by the viewer. Just like the instrumental that played every time Alan reset. I'd heard GD comparisons before I watched it, but found there to be practically no shared elements.

Anyway, I thought it was very well-written and -acted. And I thought the ending was neat. My understanding from a few articles I read (can't remember details enough to cite anything in particular) is that Lyonne et al haven't decided yet whether season 2 will be related to the season 1 story or a completely different thing; they might turn RD into an anthology. Whatever they do, I'll watch.

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I've never seen the actor who played Alan before, he was very good and I can imagine him being big in the future.
I recognized him, but had to go to IMDb to remember from where: he played the troubled firefighter candidate Peter Mills in the first few seasons of Chicago Fire.
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:37 PM
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I got about two minutes into S1E1 and bailed. For my taste it sounds like I made the right choice.

Last edited by dropzone; 02-10-2019 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 02-10-2019, 06:52 PM
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I got about two minutes into S1E1 and bailed. For my taste it sounds like I made the right choice.
That's...a bit early to even see what this show is like. The people are a lot more likable than they appear in that opening 2 minutes.

Still, why bother if you aren't interested?
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:01 PM
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I'd heard GD comparisons before I watched it, but found there to be practically no shared elements.
Ultimately, it was a comedy about a snarky person who is stuck in a (short) time loop who can only break out
SPOILER:
by learning an after-school-special type of lesson. And the cause of the loop is never really explained.


Yes, there were a few wrinkles on the formula (with a second person and a ticking-clock scenario); that is almost inevitable, considering one is 101 minutes long and the other is 3+ hours long. But I thought the overall arc was pretty familiar to me.

As I said, I liked it overall, but I was somewhat indifferent to the family drama segments (which didn't seem like anything ground-breaking) and that was a fair-sized chunk of the series.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:01 PM
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I am half way through the series and I am loving it so far. Thanks.
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:21 PM
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I really liked it. But couldn't one of them have bothered to stick a note on the broken elevator? And what about the gas leak?
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:27 PM
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Not sure those things happen if they are not there to die from them.

Horse is still around without her protecting his shoes and eventually she has the tea without the house exploding.

But then they don’t know that.
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Old 03-16-2019, 09:10 AM
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Bumping... just binged this last night, looking for something to watch while my wife was out of town visiting her sister. I liked it enough that I will watch it again if she wants to watch it when she gets back. A couple of comments/questions:

It took me about three episodes to remember where I had seen the actor who plays John before. He was one of the two gay men in "Seinfeld" who steal the armoire that Soup Nazi gives to Kramer. (And they also show up in a couple of later episodes.)

The bar on the corner is the one where Luke Cage works in "Jessica Jones", right? I thought I recognized a couple of other locations from "J.J." as well.

I thought it was odd that nobody seemed to notice the rotting fruit.

Why did she insist on going down the fire escape after falling down the stairs a few times? Why not just scoot down on her butt?

Was it just me, or was the actor playing Mike doing his best to channel Jack Nicholson?
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Old 03-16-2019, 09:16 AM
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It starts depressingly and my wife and I wanted to see another episode just to see how much more they could get out of it , then it improved, and by the end of the season we were excited to see the next season. It's worth watching.

Natasha Lyonne's recient interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was just painful to watch. She clearly didn't want to be there. Are all her interviews like that?
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:05 AM
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I was sold when her (ex) boyfriend asked if he was needed to speak to the rabbi because she’d committed a hate crime. Or maybe because of the Harry Nilsson.

I do love Harry Nilsson.

I’ve read that it’s supposed to be a show about the process of therapy. And I can see that- reliving the trauma (dying over and over and, eventually, confronting what her mother did to her) on the way to catharsis. With a religious stop-off to see if God might fix it without needing to acknowledge the past.

Maybe could have been a bit tighter in places, benefitting from fewer episodes, but I enjoyed it.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:31 AM
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I binge-watched it 2 or 3 weeks ago and liked it. I'm a fan of time-shifting movies (though I didn't like Groundhog Day much). Is there a good list where I can see if I've missed any movies like this?

Recently I saw, and now recommend, the 2000 film Memento. Not exactly time-shifting, but similar (or rather, reversed!).

Last edited by septimus; 03-16-2019 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:59 AM
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I thought it was odd that nobody seemed to notice the rotting fruit.
They noticed; it's just not polite to bring it up.
Quote:

Why did she insist on going down the fire escape after falling down the stairs a few times? Why not just scoot down on her butt?
Easier to run out the back than face people, much less face them on her butt.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:03 PM
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Look! There is yet another doll inside that last doll! It has been renewed for another season.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 06-12-2019 at 01:03 PM.
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