New to View: January 10 – 16

A weekly guide to what’s new of note on air and online

Sunday


A Perfect Planet TVNZ 1, 7.00

“A near-perfect programme. The cinematography is as awesome in scale and majesty as anything that has gone before, capturing both vast panoramas of tropical atolls and the tiniest wrinkly detail of a giant tortoise’s backside. The theme of the series is clever and novel, each episode analysing one of the great forces of nature that have created ‘the only planet in the universe, so far as we know, where there is life’ – the sun, weather, oceans and so on … The usual climate crisis sermonising is in there (and quite right too), but not until about halfway through, and not too hectoring; it is a delicate balance between entertainment and education.” — Independent.

Life TVNZ 1, 9.15

“Screenwriter Mike Bartlett’s soapy new BBC drama [gets] off to a great start. (And when I say ‘soapy’, I don’t mean that in a bad way at all.) Set within a large subdivided house in Manchester (rather than a soap-style street or square), this six-part drama follows the inhabitants of the building’s four flats on their different – but ultimately interconnecting – storylines. Plus there are some soap-style bombshells, which range from the brilliant to the slightly-daft.” — Radio Times.

A Discovery of Witches SoHo, 9.30/Neon

“Season 2 is based on the second book, Shadow of the Night in author Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy, which shifts the action from contemporary times to 1590s London and France. Whether you’ve read Harkness’ books or not, it’s important to bank that the novelist is a professor of Western European history at the University of Southern California, and an extremely involved executive producer on the series. All of that translates into authentic history being heavily woven into the season’s 10 episodes, including a plethora of historical and religious name-dropping, a revolving coterie of costumes to drool over, and enough true events of note to invoke midterm studying sweats-by-proxy.” — Paste.

Monday


Top Gear TVNZ 1, 8.40

The vintage road show changes channels for its 29th season, complete with a new Covid-driven format. “The  BBC workhorse is wheeled out again – but has a woker, gentler format dulled its gleam?” — The Telegraph.

Shortland Street TVNZ 2, 7.00

Also back for its 29th season, with an hour-long resolution of last year’s cliffhanger — in which a rogue cop shot Chris Warner in the heart. Star Michael Galvin, who’s been a Shorty staple since the start, told The TV Guide: “How many more lives does Chris Warner have? Hopefully, at least one more, but we’ll see.”

American Gods Amazon Prime Video

“This season attempts to copy the aesthetics of previous seasons without matching the intent behind them. CGI isn’t just what made American Gods beautiful, it was the meaning and artistry behind the visual choices. Although the visuals this season can still be interesting at times, they can also ring hollow. Slowed-down blood droplets flying across the screen have little impact if they are just there to look cool and not to further the story.” — Paste.

Tuesday


 DNA Rialto, 8.30

DNA, in Danish, French and Polish with subtitles, is, I’m convinced, our new The Bridge … It’s every bit as enthralling as the Saga Norén chiller – indeed, this eight-parter is from the imaginarium of the co-creator of The Killing, Torleif Hoppe … It’s also got Charlotte Rampling as the incroyably chic older French investigator.” — The Guardian.

Wednesday


➢ Prodigal Son TVNZ OnDemand

The #1-rated series of the 2020 US TV season returns for its second season, complete with two new cast members: Tony Award-winner Christian Borle (Little Shop of Horrors) and Michael Potts (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). The latter joins as a therapist and the former as “Friar Pete”, a mass murderer who’s in the same psychiatric ward as Michael Sheen’s serial killer-cum-crime solver. Also express from the US today is S3 of The Resident.

➢ Yellowstone SoHo, 8.30

If you subscribe to Neon, you can binge on the first three seasons; otherwise, you can watch Kevin Costner’s modern-day ranching drama unfold weekly. “Frequent drone shots remind us we’re in Big Sky Country, and while some of the dialogue is decidedly ripe, with Costner at his compelling best, it’s hard not to get swept up into this binge-worthy cowboy saga.” — Stuff.

Thursday


The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty BBC UKTV, 8.30

“CNN’s fascinating series confirms why the dysfunctional royal family still rules. Why can’t we quit the royals? This soapy docuseries sheds light on the clan even odder than yours … Combining subtle reenactments — shots that suggest the key players rather than show them outright — archival footage, and interviews with historians, friends, and distant relations, The Windsors follows a comfortingly familiar format.” — Salon.

Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President Sky Arts, 8.30

“A potent and poignant reminder of how some things used to be and may never be again. A fun soulful documentary that’s rarely ever invasive, depicting the type of statesman we’re sorely missing today.” — New York Times.

Friday


➢ The Stand Amazon Prime Video

“Stephen King’s post-pandemic allegory about good and evil … is a car on cinderblocks. It looks great. If you glance under the hood, you can see all of the work that’s been done on the engine. But no matter how ready it seems to peel out onto the road, it isn’t going anywhere. Very rarely is the Benjamin Cavell-steered adaptation, with Josh Boone directing the pilot, actively bad, but it’s very frustrating.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

➢ WandaVision Disney+

Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are happily married in idyllic suburbia. Or are they? “Of course, beneath the monochrome, there’s a twist: Wanda and Vision’s double life as super-powered beings begins to creep into their domestic bliss, and villains lurk behind every manicured lawn and under every sewer grate.” — Rolling Stone.

➢ Servant Apple TV+

“Where did the baby go? Was there ever really a baby to begin with? Questions like these hang over the upcoming second season of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘slow-burning nanny nightmare‘.” — Entertainment Weekly.

➢ Bling Empire Netflix

“Follows the journey of LA’s extremely rich Asian Americans that are blessed enough to spend money on things like people breathe air. This will literally scream the Kardashian-Jenner vibe to you in all senses. It shows how lavishly a certain percentage of the community are living their lives.” — Binged.

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2 Responses to “New to View: January 10 – 16”

  1. Am I missing something or is Choice TV is skewing less lifestyle and more male centric programming because of its Discovery ownership? It looks as if Choice is slowly ditching its lifestyle programming and moving towards a freemium version of the Discovery Channel, it also looks to be muscling in on Duke’s male skewing territory as well. If this was the long term plan, then axing ThreeLife might of been premature unless Discovery is planning to launch Food network on Freeview (speculation). I’m guessing the strategy is to have each free-to-air channel Discovery owns, must have a defined niche/identity.

  2. Very astute observations, Leo. I don’t monitor Choice’s schedule because it’s not an HD channel but reviewing the the latest highlights suggests you may be right, with new series like Aussie Lobster Men, Ice Cold Gold (US miners prospecting in Greenland) and S2 of Chasing Monsters launching next week as a three-hour Wednesday night block. But lifestyle still predominates, with a proliferation of cooking, property and travel shows.

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