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Monday, June 14, 2021

From Loki to Box 21: The best on demand TV to watch this week 

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DISNEY+, NETFLIX, APPLE & AMAZON

 

Loki

The Nordic God of Mischief is back from the dead with his own six-part series. Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who’s long been a recurring figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has generally been a villain, variously attempting to conquer Asgard (his home planet) or Earth.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston, above), who’s long been a recurring figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has generally been a villain

He also has a clever knack of regularly returning from apparent death. But here the scheming antihero finds himself in trouble with the Time Variance Authority, where he is forced to answer for his crimes against the timeline and given a choice: face deletion from reality or assist in catching an even greater threat.

Co-stars Owen Wilson. Marvel-ous fun. Disney+, from Wednesday

 

Home Before Dark 

In the first series, journalist Matt Lisko lost his job in New York and moved the family to his home town of Erie Harbor, Washington, where Matt’s daughter, precocious nine-year-old Hilde (Brooklynn Prince), partially solved an old missing-person case. 

Matt Lisko lost his job in New York and moved the family to his home town, where Matt’s daughter, Hilde (Brooklynn Prince, top centre), partially solved an old missing-person case

Matt Lisko lost his job in New York and moved the family to his home town, where Matt’s daughter, Hilde (Brooklynn Prince, top centre), partially solved an old missing-person case

Yes, the notion of a child reporter does sound insufferable but this was actually pretty good. In the second series, Hilde investigates a cover-up surrounding a mysterious illness. Apple TV+, from Friday

 

Lupin 

The second half of the much-loved French crime caper doesn’t quite have the effervescent brio of the first, but it’s still a very entertaining watch. Our hero Assane Diop (Omar Sy), who takes his inspiration from fictional burglar Arsène Lupin, is after the bad guys who kidnapped his son at the end of episode five. 

Our hero Assane Diop (Omar Sy, above), who takes his inspiration from fictional burglar Arsène Lupin, is after the bad guys who kidnapped his son at the end of episode five

Our hero Assane Diop (Omar Sy, above), who takes his inspiration from fictional burglar Arsène Lupin, is after the bad guys who kidnapped his son at the end of episode five

And he is still planning on clearing the name of his late father and exposing Pellegrini, the villainous businessman he holds responsible for his dad’s death. Sy has already confirmed that there will be another series. Netflix, from Friday

 

Awake 

A mysterious event stops machines from working and people from sleeping. As the effects of sleep deprivation quickly set in – disorientation, hallucinations, hysteria – people go crazy and chaos ensues. 

Scientists race to find a cure, and one girl, who is still capable of a snooze, might hold the key. Stars Gina Rodriguez and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Netflix, from Wednesday

 

Oxygen 

A woman wakes up in a small, high-tech pod with no memory of who she is or what she’s doing there. She is told by MILO, the artificially intelligent ‘medical interface liaison operator’, that her oxygen is running out – and she has to work out how to save herself. 

This gripping French film is essentially a reimagining of the ‘buried alive’ trope and Mélanie Laurent, who has to act her socks off while trapped in a confined space, is excellent. Netflix, available now

 

Clarkson’s Farm 

On paper, Jeremy Clarkson and the countryside don’t appear to be a marriage made in heaven. Nevertheless, he and his partner Lisa are the proud owners of a huge Cotswolds estate and in 2019 let cameras follow their activities across the farming year. 

The result is an often hilarious eight-part series in which Clarkson is seen trying to get to grips with rural life while doing his customary ranting and raving. Amazon, from Friday

 

Fanny Hill 

Rebecca Night plays the title role in this 2007 Andrew Davies adaptation of the scandalous 1748 John Cleland novel, which was originally banned for obscenity. An innocent young country girl comes to London, works as a prostitute, doesn’t absolutely hate it and finds true love. 

It’s a bawdy romp rather than a meditation on the grim realities of 18th Century brothels. Acorn TV, from Monday

 

Noel Gallagher: Out Of The Now 

Noel Gallagher (above) also offers candid insights into his life and career during an intimate show recorded at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

Noel Gallagher (above) also offers candid insights into his life and career during an intimate show recorded at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London

Backed by his band, the singer-songwriter performs ten tracks from his time in both Oasis and High Flying Birds. Gallagher also offers candid insights into his life and career during an intimate show recorded at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London. Sky/NOW, from Thursday

 

The Gloaming 

This spooky new show is unusual for two reasons. First, it involves murders that seem to be linked to witchcraft, with strong hints of the reality of the supernatural. Second, it’s set in Tasmania. 

On one hand, the Tasmanian tourist bods must be thrilled because it presents capital Hobart as a buzzy city. On the other, it does seem to have a problem with homicidal occultists. 

The investigating detectives both have a connection to a murder that took place 20 years ago. And so, it seems, does the dead woman. Emma Booth, above, stars

The investigating detectives both have a connection to a murder that took place 20 years ago. And so, it seems, does the dead woman. Emma Booth, above, stars

The first body is that of a woman wrapped in barbed wire. The investigating detectives both have a connection to a murder that took place 20 years ago. And so, it seems, does the dead woman. Emma Booth stars. Disney+, from Friday

 

THE TEN HOTTEST SHOWS TO WATCH RIGHT NOW ON ITV HUB

David Tennant (above) is chilling as the serial killer of gay men, Dennis Nilsen

David Tennant (above) is chilling as the serial killer of gay men, Dennis Nilsen

1. Des

David Tennant is chilling as the serial killer of gay men, Dennis Nilsen, in this disturbing three-parter covering his arrest and trial.

2. Sherlock Holmes

A selection of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories filmed with Jeremy Brett between 1984 to 1994. For many fans of the great detective, Brett is the quintessential Holmes.

3. Plebs

A classical sitcom that’s also a classic. Three young men try to make it in Ancient Rome. It’s daft, puerile – and an absolute hoot.

4. Unforgotten

There are two series available of the brilliant crime drama in which DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) tackle cold cases.

5. Midsomer Murders

Various episodes of the quirky, cosy crime show set in the picturesque rural county of Midsomer, murder capital of the world.

6. Agatha Christie’s Poirot

It’s virtually impossible to imagine anyone other than David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. His meticulous interpretation of the fussy Belgian detective sets the benchmark.

7. Minder

A collection of episodes from the much-loved early series of the comedy drama about dodgy businessman Arthur Daley (George Cole) and his minder Terry McCann (Dennis Waterman).

8. The Only Way Is Essex

More than 50 episodes showing Brentwood’s finest in action in this popular ‘reality’ show about the lives and loves of Essex boys and girls.

9. Love Island

There’s no denying that the controversial dating series is a talking point. There’s a wealth of content including documentaries, reunions and foreign versions of the show.

10. Marcella

The third series of the Anna Friel drama about a troubled detective finds her undercover in Belfast investigating a crime family and, as usual, getting into all sorts of trouble.

 

BBC iPLAYER & ALL4 

 

Box 21

Originally titled Roslund & Hellström, this six-part Swedish-Romanian crime thriller stars Ioana Ilinca Neacsu as Lidia, a young woman who is lured from her East European hometown by her boyfriend’s promise of a better life in Stockholm. 

Unfortunately, on her arrival, she discovers she’s another in a long line of sex-trafficking victims who are forced into prostitution, so she sets about plotting her escape. 

Originally titled Roslund & Hellström, this six-part Swedish-Romanian crime thriller stars Ioana Ilinca Neacsu (above) as Lidia, a young woman who is lured from her East European hometown

Originally titled Roslund & Hellström, this six-part Swedish-Romanian crime thriller stars Ioana Ilinca Neacsu (above) as Lidia, a young woman who is lured from her East European hometown

Lidia’s fate is entwined with that of two local police officers who are hunting down a dangerous villain, and it won’t be long before their paths cross. All4/Walter Presents, available now

 

Cristiano Ronaldo: Impossible To Ignore 

Now 36, Cristiano Ronaldo is in the twilight of his illustrious career. Nevertheless, if he does, as rumours suggest, leave Juventus this summer, clubs across the world will be clamouring for his signature. 

He’s also set to feature for holders Portugal at Euro 2020, but before then, fans can witness his skills in this documentary profile. It charts Ronaldo’s rise to fame, from Manchester United teenager to global star. 

Now 36, Cristiano Ronaldo (above) is in the twilight of his illustrious career. Nevertheless, if he does leave Juventus this summer, clubs across the world will be clamouring for his signature

Now 36, Cristiano Ronaldo (above) is in the twilight of his illustrious career. Nevertheless, if he does leave Juventus this summer, clubs across the world will be clamouring for his signature

Among those offering their views are Rio Ferdinand, Gary Lineker, journalists, coaches and the star’s family and friends. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Bates Motel 

Although a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, this psychological chiller has a contemporary setting. Freddie Highmore plays a teenage Norman Bates alongside Vera Farmiga as his terrifying, domineering mother Norma. 

Freddie Highmore plays a teenage Norman Bates alongside Vera Farmiga (both above) as his terrifying, domineering mother Norma

Freddie Highmore plays a teenage Norman Bates alongside Vera Farmiga (both above) as his terrifying, domineering mother Norma

The show won numerous awards during its US run and viewers can now stream all five series, while series four begins on BBC1, Tuesday (12.15am). BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Blinded: Those Who Kill 

In this second Danish series involving criminal profiler Louise Bergstein (Natalie Madueño) she is tasked with tracking down a killer who tortured and murdered young men five years ago, one the son of a terminally ill friend. 

The culprit – identified early on – starts up his spree again when his wife departs, leaving him with a young son. What is his motive? A slick, watchable drama that makes a welcome change from the many thrillers strewn with the bodies of women. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Why is there such a buzz about..?

The Beast Must Die (BritBox)

Ironically, Cush Jumbo was able to take the lead role of Frances in this slow-burning revenge thriller because a stage production of Shakespeare’s own slow-burning revenge thriller, Hamlet, in which she was to play the title role, was postponed due to the pandemic.

At the very start Frances tells us: ‘I am going to kill a man. I don’t know his name. I don’t know where he lives. I have no idea what he looks like. But I’m going to find him – and kill him.’

Cush Jumbo (above) was able to take the lead role of Frances in this revenge thriller

Cush Jumbo (above) was able to take the lead role of Frances in this revenge thriller

Her six-year-old son was killed in a hit-and-run accident three months ago. The police have given up trying to find the driver. Frances takes matters into her own hands and befriends the dysfunctional family of George, the man she thinks is responsible, and inveigles her way into their house.

George (Jared Harris) is ‘in property’, and we know he’s a rotter because he wears pink trousers and loafers with no socks and spends most of his time barking into his mobile phone or bullying his son. 

So we, the viewers, are rooting for a would-be murderer.

The pleasure in this five-parter comes from watching Jumbo and Harris. Jumbo’s expression dissolves from a dazzling smile into naked loathing in an instant. 

Harris, so great in Chernobyl, appears to relish playing an absolute horror. And then there’s Billy Howle chewing the scenery as a traumatised cop on the verge of unravelling. 

This is BritBox’s first original drama, and if it can keep on attracting casts like this, it should thrive.

Neil Armstrong 



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