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Good news hour

Tiya Sircar in Good Sam (Netflix)


Good news hour

A reporter hunts down the source of anonymous gifts in lighthearted Good Sam

Netflix is spending billions of dollars this year to produce original movies and series for its subscribers. Regrettably, many of these shows are awash in objectionable content. A quick scan of newer original releases on the streaming network shows that much of this content is rated for “mature” audiences. Are Netflix executives also willing to finance family-friendly fare?

The PG-rated Good Sam is one of these efforts. New York City television reporter Kate Bradley (Tiya Sircar) is getting tired of the “bummer beat”—reporting on fires, car accidents, and robberies. She’s skeptical there are any good-news stories worth telling in the Big Apple.

When an anonymous donor starts giving bags of $100,000 in cash to needy citizens, Kate finally has an assignment that seems to be only good news, and she digs through clues to uncover the identity of this good Samaritan (“Good Sam” for short). Gift recipients seem eager to share their newfound wealth, finding creative ways to help others even more needy than themselves.

It all seems too good to be true, and Kate’s instincts tell her something is not quite right with this mystery hero: Could anyone really be this giving, with no ulterior motives? She is determined to get to the bottom of the story and expose whatever she finds.

The plot of Good Sam is a bit thin, maybe even predictable, but the show remains worthwhile, lighthearted entertainment. And it is refreshing to find Netflix funding movies that are reasonably family friendly. (While the film portrays no sexual situations or violence, it regrettably includes some blasphemy in a couple of scenes.)

It’s also enjoyable to see a film portraying immigrant characters in a way that feels natural, without pandering to cultural stereotypes. Kate’s family moved to the USA from India, and they do not hide their ethnicity, but are proud to be contributing as Americans in their new homeland.