With some critics and fans accusing Cobra Kai of having its creative legs swept out from under it in Season 3, the series seems to have rediscovered its crane kick in Season 4.
Debuting on New Year's Eve with a Rotten Tomatoes score back up to its 100% first-season level, Cobra Kai Season 4 generated more than 120 million hours of viewing on Netflix in its first three days, leading all English-language TV shows on the platform for the holiday week of December 27-January 2.
The only show in all of streaming watched more was Netflix's end-of-the-world film satire Don't Look Up, which drew over 152 million hours of streaming, according to Netflix's recently launched "Global Top 10" metrics.
Created by Harold and Kumar masterminds Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, along with Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine), Cobra Kai stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, reprising their roles from the iconic 1980s Karate Kid film franchise. The series mixes redemptive narratives with all kinds of teenage-anxiety storylines from a supporting cast of talented youthful unknowns. Cobra Kai debuted in 2018 and remained a somewhat buried treasure within the bowels of YouTube's ultimately failed original premium subscription programming push.
Netflix acquired the show in the summer of 2020, with the third season already in development. The first three seasons of Cobra Kai produced big viewership numbers for Netflix a year ago, dethroning the record-breaking Bridgerton on Netflix's original Top 10 ratings ranker for the week of Jan. 4-10, 2021.
But some critics, who enthusiastically embraced Season 1 and were already cooling to Season 2, gave Cobra Kai a shot to the ol' solar plexus for Season 3.
"In the latest episodes of Cobra Kai, viewers learn the way of third season mediocrity and the merciless lesson of nostalgia's diminishing returns," wrote Salon's Melanie McFarland, summing up a general consensus that Netflix might have acquired a show that had already jumped the snake.
However, with the series refocusing on the core comedic interplay between the still-rough-around-edges Johnny (Zabka) and the more refined, genial Daniel (Macchio), Cobra Kai seems to have recaptured its All Valley Tournament mojo.
"Somehow, Cobra Kai … keeps surpassing all reasonable expectations," wrote Alan Sepinwall.
For the week ending Jan. 2, Cobra Kai displaced the previous week's ratings champ, Season 4 of The Witcher.
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