'Cobra Kai' kicks up the nostalgia as Season 3 lands on Netflix

After jumping from YouTube Red to Netflix in August, the web series premieres an all-new season. Rick Damigella reports.

Posted: Jan 8, 2021 5:00 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2021 5:00 PM

After a pair of seasons streaming on YouTube's premium tier, "Cobra Kai" was picked up by Netflix, where those episodes found an appreciative audience. Enter season 3, which kicks up the nostalgia factor into an even higher gear while remaining every bit as soapy, playful and disarmingly funny. "The Karate Kid" might be 36 years old, but this series offers a battle plan for other revivals to study.

Continuing to add layers to the existing "Karate Kid" mythology (for lack of a better word), the show builds on the challenges faced by original characters Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), flaring out to encompass the next-generation teens grappling with their own high-school troubles.

The new season also explores a backstory for the villainous Kreese (Martin Kove), while liberally drawing from the original movies with a level of tender loving care that, frankly, makes them seem a lot better than they were. Indeed, the whole thing is presented with a sense of reverence normally reserved for franchises with "Star" in the title.

Along the way, "Cobra Kai" subverts expectations and keeps shuffling alliances, ending each episode with the kind of cliffhangers that nicely lend themselves to binge viewing. The only drawback to that from the perspective of Netflix -- which in a sweep-the-leg scheduling move shifted the premiere date up to capitalize on New Year's Day sloth -- is viewers can easily devour the whole season in a couple of days, which isn't necessarily the best way to perpetuate subscriber loyalty.

Granted, the teen angst can feel overblown, and there's something hilarious about the image of marauding teenage karate gangs waging open warfare across the San Fernando Valley.

Still, sheer ridiculousness and the ingenious stroke of elevating Johnny's role have been central to the program's appeal, and thanks to the deft writing, even the over-the-top moments are generally fun. That's especially true of Zabka's cranky, world-weary performance -- including his ongoing struggles with technology -- which remains a consistent source of delight.

There are several flourishes in this latest season that shouldn't be spoiled, which might even inspire those who haven't seen the films recently to revisit them, although that's hardly required.

For Netflix, that's likely to translate into a lot of people kicking back on the couch. For "Cobra Kai," playing on a bigger platform will likely translate into an enhanced cultural footprint, as the show appears destined to continue blowing up into the kind of attraction it deserved to be from the get-go.

"Cobra Kai's" third season premieres January 1 on Netflix.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1670716

Reported Deaths: 48049
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens2149058858
Kings2143669200
Suffolk1645393105
Nassau1505382935
Bronx1465595920
Westchester1090382116
New York1054913954
Erie660591610
Richmond578951590
Monroe52990993
Rockland39149895
Orange37631730
Onondaga32606634
Dutchess22678410
Albany21030333
Oneida19829480
Niagara15404312
Broome15169336
Saratoga12095145
Schenectady10946178
Ulster10206229
Rensselaer9124132
Putnam846086
Chautauqua7379123
Chemung6454130
Oswego606089
Ontario585889
St. Lawrence562289
Steuben5545138
Cayuga540689
Jefferson485263
Sullivan482260
Herkimer4578107
Wayne451065
Cattaraugus445876
Genesee4450118
Madison386985
Clinton370426
Livingston357656
Tompkins348942
Columbia342596
Fulton338984
Montgomery3219107
Cortland319260
Allegany291381
Warren287255
Wyoming285349
Tioga282656
Greene268271
Orleans246381
Chenango246170
Otsego240243
Washington236652
Franklin212012
Lewis208030
Seneca163253
Delaware154333
Essex135626
Schoharie122913
Yates101726
Schuyler87012
Hamilton2852
Unassigned182118
Out of NY0193
Rome
Clear
20° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 3°
Binghamton
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 3°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 3°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 18° Lo: 3°
Feels Like: 3°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Foodie Fridays Rosa's 50% 0ff - Now thru March 18
Submit your Mutt Madness Picture through March 10th
March into Beautiful Skin Giveaway
Under 100 2021 Golf Cards left!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve