Streaming highlights January 15 to 20: Cobra Kai season three & The Stand

STILL FIGHTING: Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) in season three of Cobra Kai.
Below, Whoopi Goldberg in The Stand.
STILL FIGHTING: Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) in season three of Cobra Kai. Below, Whoopi Goldberg in The Stand.

COBRA KAI - SEASON THREE

Netflix

ONE of the most surprisingly binge-worthy karate chops of entertainment in 2020 was the delivery of Cobra Kai seasons one and two to Netflix.

In reality it shouldn't have been a surprise. We love nostalgia and 1984's The Karate Kid remains a beloved classic. And Cobra Kai is about as nostalgic as attending your 20-year high school reunion, but happily, much less awkward.

Season three begins immediately after the gratuitous school fight in series two which left Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduea) is a coma fighting for his life and Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) on the run.

Reluctantly arch-rivals Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) team up like "Tango & Cash" to track down Robby in a stolen car. It leads to the first of a long list of extravagant karate fights where Johnny and Daniel karate chop and kick side-by-side, before their inevitable differences boil to the surface.

The karate scenes in season three are seriously ridiculous as teenagers who'd struggle to throw a punch, deliver roundhouse kicks like Jean-Claude Van Damme and take blows like they're Rocky Balboa.

But Cobra Kai is an absolute blast. The nostalgic cameos from Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), the villain from The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and Daniel's love interest Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) are pure fan service, but the return of Ally Mills (Elizabeth Shue) is sweet and pivotal to the character development of both Johnny and Daniel.

THE STAND

Amazon Prime

DREAM MAKER: Whoopi Goldberg in The Stand.

DREAM MAKER: Whoopi Goldberg in The Stand.

COULD producers of The Stand have timed their run any better? The master of horror Stephen King might have initially released his epic tale of good versus evil set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic back in 1978, but it's a story which is frighteningly contemporary.

This nine-part series began pre-production in 2011, when initial plans were to produce a feature-length film. Thankfully CBS opted for a mini-series format because The Stand is a complex narrative driven by a raft of characters.

After a deadly biological weapon accidently escapes a US government laboratory the super-flu or "Captain Tripps" sweeps across the globe causing the vast majority of the planet to literally choke on their own mucus, which pools grotesquely in their throat. No manner of hand washing, face masks or social distancing can prevent humanity from collapsing practically overnight.

In the aftermath the confused and isolated survivors begin experiencing a dream from 108-year-old Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) urging them to form a new community based on the democratic ideals of the old United States.

Meanwhile, the supernaturally-powerful Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) is collecting his own band of evil followers for an upcoming war.

Rather than follow the linear storyline of King's novel, the TV series adopts a series of flashbacks, almost like Lost, to illustrate the backstory of the various characters during and after the pandemic, which are portrayed by the likes of James Marsden, Amber Heard, Odessa Young, Heather Graham and Greg Kinnear.

It can be convoluted and difficult to follow, especially as the pandemic feels like a hurried plot exercise to get all the characters to the planned destination.