New to View: May 17 – 23

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


The Luminaries | TVNZ 1, 8.30

“The 2012 novel The Luminaries, set on New Zealand’s South Coast during the gold rush of 1865, won the Booker Prize for its author Eleanor Catton, and she has boldly attacked her own work for this lavishly-realised BBC-backed 6×60 series from Working Title TV and Southern Light. Catton has cut away at a plot which was already assembled like a jigsaw puzzle and worked on piecing it back together with series director/EP Claire McCarthy (2018’s Ophelia). As a visual package, it sits well with The Piano and The Lord Of the Rings as the top three reasons to visit New Zealand the minute this global pandemic is over. The Luminaries is sheer optical escapism, clad in period settings which, like the gold which drifts from the pink dress worn by its heroine (Eve Hewson) in the arresting opening episode, dazzle and seduce. Once the dust has settled, however, Catton’s story can be harder to fall in love with than its alluring setting.” — Screen Daily.


MRK: The Rivals | TVNZ 2, 7.30

“The producers have thrown a range of ingredients into the mix to jazz up the original recipe. However they’ve also preserved MKR‘s essential ingredients: amateurs cooking in pairs to win a competition, with original judges Pete Evans and Manu Feildel now alongside Colin Fassnidge who’s been promoted to a regular role. Unfortunately, it looks as if The Rivals‘ producers grabbed a bunch of reality-TV tropes, chucked them in a blender and poured the results into the existing MKR mix, hoping to add zest.” — Sydney Morning Herald.

The Great | Neon

“Billing itself with a cheeky asterisk as ‘an occasionally true story,’ Hulu’s The Great immediately frees itself of the usual period drama obligation to connect the historical dots. Instead, it goes for more of an accurate vibe than a completely faithful retelling of a notoriously tumultuous time in Russian history: the six months between when a 19 year-old Catherine (executive producer Elle Fanning) married the country’s new emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult), and the moment she overthrew him to have the throne to herself. Created by The Favourite co-writer Tony McNamara, The Great straddles the line between period drama and slapstick comedy with acrobatic ease.” — Variety.


Sweet Magnolias | Netflix

“Netflix is giving fans a heavy dose of female friendship and small-town romance with its new series Sweet Magnolias is based on Sherryl Woods’ book series of the same name and follows Helen and her lifelong best friends, Maddie (Joanna Garcia Swisher) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), as they navigate their careers and romances in the small town of Serenity.” — The Sun.


The British Tribe Next Door | TVNZ 1, 8.30

“Thanks to their daughter’s semi-celebrity, Scarlett Moffatt’s parents are living in a Namibian desert village with the Himba people, on The British Tribe Next Door. There’s no mud hut for them, though, in this ridiculous format. The production crew have built a replica of their English terrace house and filled it with all their possessions. It’s a tawdry excuse to gawp at traditional African culture while having a giggle at Scarlett’s attempts to dig a well and her dad’s failed efforts at herding.” — Daily Mail.


Making It | Three, 7.30

“You would have to be a most grumpy, dour, negative, naysaying, stubbornly unhappy, anti-life sort of person to turn up your nose at NBC’s Making It, a new competition series hosted by former Parks and Recreation co-stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman … The series is in most respects a close knockoff of The Great British [Bake Off], with crafting substituted for cooking.” — Los Angeles Times.

Homecoming (S2) | Amazon Prime Video

“The new season stars Janelle Monáe as an amnesiac searching for her identity. Stephan James and Hong Chau reprise their roles from the first season, while Chris Cooper and Joan Cusack join the cast.” — Variety.


Little Fires Everywhere | Amazon Prime Video

Little Fires Everywhere is bound to spark comparisons to Big Little Lies, whether it wants them or not. The Hulu miniseries, an adaptation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 novel of the same name, falls into a growing category of shows about privileged moms having extravagant fights with each other, and one of those moms is played by Reese Witherspoon in a collection of preppy cardigans. And that’s usually enough. Little Fires Everywhere isn’t as scorching as Big Little Lies, but it’s worth warming up to anyway.” — TV Guide.

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