I am a member of a fictional 50-something Beatles who was living in a Tijuana motel when Paul and John came to town in March 1964.
A million miles away from the precocious Beatles teens you might remember, my family and I were polite to the upstarts from Liverpool. I was 16. As I watched “The Beatles: Get Back” on my Android TV set through Apple TV, my emotions ranged from emotional indifference to curious admiration to profound love.
The early years of the Fab Four’s stay in Tijuana – their first time to that strange, sticky, English-influenced and colonized city, complete with avocado groves, cacti and haciendas – aren’t in this Netflix show, which Netflix published last week. But I could have rewatched as many times as I wanted. You can do that because the mere specter of the Fab Four looms large in this show, even when the Beatles are and appear like minor players. They are cast in an almost Disneyesque fairy-tale, the way princesses are in its animated series.
This is a far cry from the Beatles, but it may be their most relaxed self yet. Sure, they’re in a motel room. Sure, Ringo loves that “girls” in the Tijuana consulate are wearing spaghetti straps. But, hey, it’s also pretty much what you’d get, with actors lip-syncing to complex songs and sharp backing music … not exactly hardcore tracking. These are TV performers, someone who played on “American Idol” can sing, and even Anthony Newley from “The Shaggy Dog” doesn’t have a better voice than the tween Jimmy, played by Ben Schnetzer. (I’d love to hear his version of “Revolution.”)
Of course, it’s a show about the Beatles, and not just for the 12-years-older viewers likely to be peering at it on the screen from home. Also in the know: The spy, Richard (Michael Malarkey), who had unofficially become a sounding board for the Beatles after befriending their eldest son (Griffin Hoskyns). Richard returns at the end of the first episode and eventually becomes a full-fledged, permanent Beatles agent, a producer and even a producer for the TV show “Slop.”
I may be in love with Schnetzer, but I’m mostly experiencing a kind of torture watching him sing, especially when the song choice is the lead single from “Yesterday,” or even the snoozy “The View.” He is superior in another ways – he has the looks, the charisma and the clean, casual demeanor of the fans we met in the real-life Tijuana. Even so, watching him belt out “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a bit of mind-numbing humdrum. If it were able to sound anything like how the original Beatles did, this show would be one heck of a ride.