6 Amazon original series you need to binge right now

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Jean-Claude Van Johnson

The ads for Jean-Claude Van Johnson do not prepare you for the level of absurdity it contains. The premise, of course, is that Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movie career is an elaborate cover for his second secret job as a spy codenamed Johnson.

The tone approaches the levels of tongue-in-cheek and campiness of films like Hot Shots! or Machete. Van Damme excels at playing the washed-up hero with the kind of pitch-perfect, over-the-top earnestness that ties every joke and every scene together.

At the same time, he affects a perfectly French ennui that adds another dimension of parody to his performance. Refreshingly, Van Damme does nothing to deny that he’s an aging action hero — he actually embraces the fact — and lovingly lampoons the most famous films of his career while satirizing the collapse of the Hollywood movie machine.

At the same time, Van Damme is obviously in fantastic shape – much better than some of Hollywood’s other aging action stars who continue to make action movies without regard or reference to their age — so there’s something doubly pleasing about watching him play Johnson.


Comrade Detective

Comrade Detective is an unusual addition to the Amazon Original roster. It is elaborately presented as a lost Romanian detective series that aired in the ’80s and was intended to promote communism throughout the country.

The propaganda is hilariously unsubtle — but played with straight-faced — satirical brilliance by both its Romanian actors and by the English voiceover stars Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And while obviously meant as a comedy, there is something we can learn from the “communist” view of our toxic capitalist society.

The Americans in the show are greedy, uncouth, short-sighted, and self-destructive. While they play as cartoon villains, its perhaps not an unfair depiction of how our materialistic and consumerist tendencies hurt ourselves, our environment, our economy, and others.

Comrade Detective itself is fun, fast-paced, and action-packed, with an interesting mystery and some awesome ’80s fashion sense.