Netflix has all sorts of oddities that you can find if you know where to look. Many of these essentially “secret” Netflix shows don’t show up on its internal search. I was only able to find a few of these particularly strange gems after combing various online forums and experimenting with different Google searches.
By “weird,” I don’t mean the conspiracy theory videos or the disturbing competitions shows (see “Flinch”) Netflix makes readily available. I also don’t mean the awesome, but strange telepathic octopus from the recent season of “The OA.” I’m not even referring to the fireplace video that seemingly everybody knows about now and is just a 101-level of weird.
I’m talking about beeping noises, stock images of random people and shots-of- a-man-moonwalking-while-holding-a-laptop weird.
Now, why would you watch any of these things if Netflix doesn’t want you to? Curiosity, mostly. But I’d also recommend using them to troll at parties (I’m good at parties). A few of them have actual value in testing features of your television, but that’s boring. Instead, lie to a friend about how that robotic voice is actually a “number station” used by foreign spies. What’s better for a long “Netflix and chill” than an eight-hour-long loop featuring a creepy animation of a character named Proog trying to escape a mysterious machine?
I can think of nothing sexier than Proog.
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In this eight-episode single season, Netflix gives you various options for testing the colors on your television. Instead of pairing silence with the still images used in each episode, Netflix added the soothing sounds of running water. You could theoretically use this season as a white noise machine.
The premiere episode features square boxes of color (as seen above), while other episodes include stock images of people, the Netflix logo and subtitles paired with more boxes of color.
My favorite episode is the finale, “Box Art,” which lets you test whether the promotional images of three canceled Netflix Originals (“Fuller House, “Luke Cage” and “Lady Dynamite”) look correct on your screen.
“Sparks” only lasts three minutes, but may stick with you for a lifetime. As Netflix describes it, this is a “high dynamic range high frame rate test content featuring a day in the life of a welder.”
You don’t get to learn much about the welder protagonist other than that he puts on special equipment, rides an elevator and knows how to make sparks. At one point the welder says, “yeah,” while another welder points. At the end of the day the welder strips down his uniform and a cleaning truck drives by to wash away the day’s debris from the work site.
If you don’t want to listen to the sound of welding, I recommend you put on the Beach House song “Sparks” while watching this.
Over the course of four seasons, a robotic voice counts to 59 over and over again in episodes that stretch two hours. I was hoping for some character development and would have welled with emotion if the counter said sixty in the finale, but no such luck.
This counting of seconds is paired with a still image of a young girl playing with instruments. The whole endeavor looks and sounds like creepy secret agent code.
In reality, this helps you sync your audio and visual feeds if you’re playing around with television settings. A diamond around the girl (seen above) will help you guide the visual to the center of the screen. Presumably, the various colors of the still image and the other images surround the girl help determine if your screen has any other troubles with rendering visuals.
Perhaps the most notorious oddity on Netflix, as HuffPost and many other outlets have written about, is “Example Show,” a particularly strange show that stars one character acting strange by himself (this deserves the title “Stranger Things” more than that Netflix Original). He sensuously runs his hands through the falling water of a fountain. He moonwalks while looking at a laptop. He recites Shakespeare directly into the camera and then finishes the monologue by making popping noises with his mouth. Just general weirdo stuff.
While the protagonist runs around being a goofball, a subtitle that says “There’s no crying in baseball!” (a line from the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own”) continuously plays on the bottom of the screen. At no point does the protagonist actually say this.
Clearly an internal test, Netflix has various versions of “Example Show” including an eight-hour version in which the show plays on a loop and a different version plays with a foreign language overdub.
The least fun show of the list, this just serves as an example for the feature that automatically plays the next episode in a television series.
Netflix simply scraped scenes from “BoJack Horseman” for this show. I suppose you could technically call this a secret season of “BoJack,” but the episodes only last a few seconds and recycle footage from what’s already available to view. But as a fun twist in the finale of this season, the show pivots away from “BoJack” clips and features the previously mentioned “Example Show” instead.
In this over seven-hour epic, Norwegian salmon fishers try their luck in Norway’s Gaula River and compete for a pair of ugly brown sunglasses with a camera on them.
Shots of rippling water and fishers waiting around eat up most of the time. Occasionally a host interviews fishermen and other people involved in the competition. A group of people starts singing an hour and twenty minutes into this.
You’d think that the camerawork would be amazing to sustain such a long program, but this mostly has the visual quality of whatever you’d film if only given an iPhone and no directive on shot selection. The camera will often feature faraway fishers that look extremely pixellated. That Netflix bought this is honestly inspiring for anybody with the dream of technically having a Netflix show.
In contrast to the ugly, amateurish shots of the Norwegian fishing show, “Moving Art” features a seemingly endless succession of stunning nature shots.
Over two seasons, this program highlights a few of the most beautiful places on earth. Special care seems to have gone into finding places with vibrant color, such as flower meadows and the depths of the ocean.
This very much looks like the example footage you’d see on the showroom televisions at Best Buy. So if you’ve ever wanted to make your home feel like a Best Buy, this is for you.
You can’t actually watch the misspelled “Mult-Purpose Chart,” but I’m including it here because Netflix clearly never wanted you to even know of its existence. The synopsis reads: “This is a placeholder-only synopsis for a test or example title. This copy is not meant to be displayable on the site or any devices.”
Another in the testing category, this one episode show features a blank screen and beeping noises. As the synopsis says, this is a “test title to evaluate a Dolby Vision display’s representation of unique metadata.”
According to Decider, this has become a popular enough test that the show has messed with rankings of the most watched Netflix shows. Netflix should consider renewing it for another season.
The most actively bizarre of the bunch, “Elephants Dream” is a Dutch, copyright-free movie from 2006 that Netflix has used for various internal tests. The creators of “Elephants Dream” describe the plot as such:
“Elephants Dream” is the story of two strange characters exploring a capricious and seemingly infinite machine. The elder, Proog, acts as a tour-guide and protector, happily showing off the sights and dangers of the machine to his initially curious but increasingly skeptical protege Emo. As their journey unfolds we discover signs that the machine is not all Proog thinks it is, and his guiding takes on a more desperate aspect.
To the best of my knowledge, you can’t search for “Elephants Dream” on the service and have to click into it from Google (or the link above).
Bonus: All the other “Slow TV” shows
The Norwegian fishing episode is just one of many “Slow TV” projects on Netflix. You can also watch a train ride between the Norwegian cities of Bergen and Oslo (the camera is just on top of the train), a few variations on a “National Firewood” event (Stephen Colbert once had a segment on “The Colbert Report” making fun of this Norwegian phenomenon) and both a “National Knitting Evening” as well as a “National Knitting Night.”