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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

From WandaVision to Pulling and American Gods: The best on demand TV to watch this week 

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DISNEY+, APPLE TV+, SKY & BRITBOX

 

WandaVision

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprise their roles as Marvel heroes Scarlet Witch and Vision, as they set up a new life in a seemingly idyllic sitcom-inspired town. 

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany (above) reprise their roles as Marvel heroes Scarlet Witch and Vision, as they set up a new life in a seemingly idyllic sitcom-inspired town

WandaVision is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, but fans have theorised that it could follow Wanda (Scarlet Witch) as she creates a sitcom world where Vision is still alive. Disney+, from Friday

 

Ant Middleton And Rebel Wilson: Straight Talking 

The former Royal Marines Commando and the Australian-born Pitch Perfect star may seem like an odd couple, but they get on like a house on fire in this mix of candid interview and adventure. 

The former Royal Marines Commando and the Australian-born Pitch Perfect star (above) may seem like an odd couple, but they get on like a house on fire

The former Royal Marines Commando and the Australian-born Pitch Perfect star (above) may seem like an odd couple, but they get on like a house on fire

The duo embark on an exploration of Mexico, during which Wilson opens up about negative aspects of her life, while questioning Middleton about his background. Sky/NOW TV, from Thursday

 

Servant 

In series one, Dorothy had a breakdown following the death of her baby, and then her fragile recovery depended on her and her husband treating a lifelike doll as if it were real, to the extent of hiring a nanny to look after it. 

But something seemed off about the enigmatic young nanny – and then one day, the doll appeared to have turned into a real infant. It’s quite an achievement for a show to be genuinely creepy and disturbing one moment, and laugh-out-loud funny the next. 

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free and Rupert Grint, this is unlike anything else around. Do yourself a favour and watch series one first. Apple TV+, from Friday

 

Miranda 

All three series, plus the two-part finale of Miranda Hart’s much loved sitcom, are being made available. For the uninitiated, they follow the misadventures of a socially inept ex-public schoolgirl who struggles to connect with her peers, including the object of her affection, former university pal Gary. 

For the uninitiated, they follow the misadventures of a socially inept ex-public schoolgirl (above) who struggles to connect with her peers, including the object of her affection

For the uninitiated, they follow the misadventures of a socially inept ex-public schoolgirl (above) who struggles to connect with her peers, including the object of her affection

Tom Ellis, Patricia Hodge, Sarah Hadland and Sally Phillips co-star. BritBox, from Thursday

 

The Wire 

David Simon drew on his experience as a police reporter and as a writer embedded with the Baltimore police when creating The Wire. There are a lot of characters and a lot of impenetrable slang you’d only be familiar with if you were either a Baltimore cop or a drug dealer. 

This expansive drama quickly develops into one of the all-time great TV series, with unforgettable characters. Dominic West (above) and Idris Elba are among the cast

This expansive drama quickly develops into one of the all-time great TV series, with unforgettable characters. Dominic West (above) and Idris Elba are among the cast

But stick with it because this expansive drama quickly develops into one of the all-time great TV series, endlessly quotable and with unforgettable characters. Dominic West and Idris Elba are among the cast. Sky/NOW TV, available now

 

BBC iPLAYER, ITV HUB & ALL 4

 

Pulling 

Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly’s hilarious sitcom about three youngish friends sharing a house in London. It ran for two series and a special in the Noughties and seemed to be growing in popularity and winning critical acclaim when it was unaccountably canned. 

Sharon Horgan, Tanya Franks and Rebekah Staton (above) play the flatmates and, watching it again, it seems an obvious precursor to Fleabag

Sharon Horgan, Tanya Franks and Rebekah Staton (above) play the flatmates and, watching it again, it seems an obvious precursor to Fleabag

Horgan, Tanya Franks and Rebekah Staton play the flatmates and, watching it again, with its adult themes and frank depiction of disastrous sexual relationships and personal lives, it seems an obvious precursor to Fleabag. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

The Night Manager 

This multi-award-winning six-part drama based on a novel by the late John le Carré stars Tom Hiddleston as a hotel worker recruited by the Foreign Office to infiltrate the inner circle of an unscrupulous arms dealer. 

This multi-award-winning six-part drama based on a novel by the late John le Carré stars Tom Hiddleston. Olivia Colman, Elizabeth Debicki (above) and Hugh Laurie are among the cast

This multi-award-winning six-part drama based on a novel by the late John le Carré stars Tom Hiddleston. Olivia Colman, Elizabeth Debicki (above) and Hugh Laurie are among the cast

Tom Hollander, Olivia Colman, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Laurie are among the cast. Also available is the 2011 film version of le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman as George Smiley. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Des 

David Tennant delivers an unusually downbeat and chilling performance as Dennis Nilsen, the serial killer convicted of killing six people at his home in North London, but who may have murdered many more. 

David Tennant (above) delivers an unusually downbeat and chilling performance as Dennis Nilsen, the serial killer convicted of killing six people at his home in North London

David Tennant (above) delivers an unusually downbeat and chilling performance as Dennis Nilsen, the serial killer convicted of killing six people at his home in North London

The superb three-part drama co-stars Daniel Mays and was one of ITV’s biggest hits of 2020. ITV Hub, available now

 

People Just Do Nothing 

A chance to dip into the chaotic lives of MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa), DJ Beats and the rest of the inept gang who run Kurupt FM, a pirate radio station dedicated to UK garage and drum ’n’ bass music. 

A chance to dip into the chaotic lives of MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa, above with Lily Brazier), DJ Beats and the rest of the inept gang who run Kurupt FM, a pirate radio station

A chance to dip into the chaotic lives of MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa, above with Lily Brazier), DJ Beats and the rest of the inept gang who run Kurupt FM, a pirate radio station

Refresh your memory of the Bafta-winning mockumentary ahead of the release of the spin-off film, Big In Japan, set to open next August. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Monster 

Another entry in the seemingly never-ending list of stylish Nordic noir thrillers. Anne Sewitsky, who worked on Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series, directs the seven-part tale of two mismatched detectives thrown together by an investigation. 

It soon becomes clear that both cops also have something horrific to hide… All4, available now

 

Fight For First: Excel Esports 

In 2014, brothers Joel and Kieran Holmes-Darby founded Excel Esports, a gaming team based in London. In a five-part series, cameras follow their attempts to establish themselves in the potentially lucrative League of Legends, the sport’s equivalent of the Premier League. 

Cillian Murphy, a self-confessed games enthusiast, narrates. BBC3/iPlayer, from Sunday 

 

Why is there such a buzz about..?

Blithe Spirit (Sky/NOW TV, from Friday)

Mention Blithe Spirit and most people will think either of the much-loved 1945 David Lean film starring Rex Harrison and Margaret Rutherford, or the regularly revived, audience-pleasing Noël Coward play on which it is based.

But now there’s a new version coming to a digital download service near you, and for those in need of having spirits lifted, it’s well worth a look. Yes, theatre director Edward Hall and his writing team have taken a few liberties with Coward’s lightweight plot but all the important bits are there and, visually, the 1937 setting is an Art Deco/modernist delight.

Dan Stevens (above, with Leslie Mann, Judi Dench and Isla Fisher)

Dan Stevens (above, with Leslie Mann, Judi Dench and Isla Fisher)

Downton Abbey alumnus Dan Stevens (right, with Leslie Mann, Judi Dench and Isla Fisher) takes on the role of Charles Condomine, a successful author now suffering from writer’s block so badly that, in search of inspiration, he hires the scatty medium Madame Arcati (Dench) to hold a private seance. 

To the surprise of no one, little appears to happen – trance, fainting fit and crashing French windows aside – until Charles comes down for a nightcap and finds the ghost of his beautiful first wife waiting for him.

Elvira – now American and none the worse for it – has returned. Which certainly isn’t going to please his second wife, Ruth.

The comedy is a little broader than expected but Mann and Fisher are delicious as the feuding wives, Charles’s understandably divided romantic loyalties are better established and the reworked ending works rather well. 

Good fun.

Matthew Bond 

 

AMAZON

 

American Gods

Visually striking fantasy drama starring Emily Browning, in which a coalition of the Old Gods of mythology, led by Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) – Odin from the Norse pantheon – try to recover some of their waning influence by taking on the New Gods (media and technology) who now reign supreme in America.

Visually striking fantasy drama starring Emily Browning (above left). There's a coalition of the Old Gods of mythology, led by Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane)

Visually striking fantasy drama starring Emily Browning (above left). There’s a coalition of the Old Gods of mythology, led by Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane)

Disagreements led to the showrunners leaving after the first season, and Gillian Anderson also went, apparently in support. Many felt the second series suffered as a result and there has been more turbulence; the popular Mr Nancy (Orlando Jones) will not be appearing in the third series. From Monday

 

One Night In Miami 

There’s an awards buzz building around One Night In Miami, which sees playwright Kemp Powers adapting his own play about a night in Miami that actually never took place. 

Yes, the then Cassius Clay really did beat Sonny Liston in February 1964, but he didn’t meet up afterwards with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke (played by Leslie Odom Jr) and American football legend Jim Brown to discuss racism, civil rights and black American politics. 

The then Cassius Clay really did beat Sonny Liston in February 1964, but he didn’t meet up afterwards with Malcolm X and Sam Cooke (played by Leslie Odom Jr, above)

The then Cassius Clay really did beat Sonny Liston in February 1964, but he didn’t meet up afterwards with Malcolm X and Sam Cooke (played by Leslie Odom Jr, above)

You’re left admiring the performances from a cast that includes London-born actor Kingsley Ben-Adir (he plays Malcolm X) but wondering how much the wordy subject matter will mean to British audiences. MB From Friday

 

No Man’s Land 

The gripping eight-part drama inspired by tales of all-female militia groups and their battle against Isis in Syria reaches its finale. James Purefoy, Félix Moati and James Krishna Floyd star, and if you haven’t caught the rest of the series yet, it’s now available as a box set. From today

 

Blackbird 

An all-star cast – Susan Sarandon and Sam Neill, Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Lindsay Duncan and Rainn Wilson – make this moving drama well worth a look. 

An all-star cast – Susan Sarandon and Sam Neill (above), Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Lindsay Duncan and Rainn Wilson – make this moving drama well worth a look

An all-star cast – Susan Sarandon and Sam Neill (above), Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Lindsay Duncan and Rainn Wilson – make this moving drama well worth a look

It’s a revamp of the 2014 Danish movie Silent Heart and focuses on a family gathering held by a terminally ill woman as she prepares to end her own life. From Monday

 

Upload 

Greg Daniels, one of the driving forces behind the American version of The Office, Parks And Recreation and the Steve Carell collaboration Space Force, is the creator of this scathing sci-fi comedy drama set in 2033. 

Robbie Amell plays Nathan, a twentysomething who dies prematurely and ends up at Lake View, an expensive virtual-reality alternative to heaven. He befriends another soul, Nora (Andy Allo), who begins to suspect that Nathan may have been murdered… Available now

 

FILMS

Stardust 

Musician turned actor Johnny Flynn (above) has made an impressive transition

Musician turned actor Johnny Flynn (above) has made an impressive transition

Musician turned actor Johnny Flynn has made an impressive transition to the big screen but he comes unstuck here, miscast as a young David Bowie still searching for fame in the early 1970s. 

He’s not alone in a film that further suffers from having no access to Bowie’s music. But it does have an interesting story to tell as Bowie embarks on a shambolic solo tour of America and makes a mess of nearly everything he does, only to realise he’s going to have to reinvent himself to find the success he craves. Most platforms, from Friday

 

The Broken Hearts Gallery 

Romcoms are a little out of fashion but this is a decent one. Yes, it’s loud, in-your-face and aimed at a young-adult audience but Geraldine Viswanathan is hugely engaging as the memorabilia-obsessed New York gallery assistant who comes up with the idea of a gallery for broken hearts, the laugh count is high and it definitely moves the genre on. 

Just what we need. Most platforms, now 

 

NETFLIX

 

Night Stalker 

During the sweltering summer of 1985, serial killer and rapist Richard Ramirez, nicknamed the Night Stalker, terrorised Los Angeles and the surrounding area. A drifter and drug-user, he claimed to be a satanist and was certainly demonic. 

During the sweltering summer of 1985, serial killer and rapist Richard Ramirez (above), nicknamed the Night Stalker, terrorised Los Angeles and the surrounding area

During the sweltering summer of 1985, serial killer and rapist Richard Ramirez (above), nicknamed the Night Stalker, terrorised Los Angeles and the surrounding area

He specialised in home invasions and committed a string of killings so disturbing you should steel yourself before watching this four-part documentary about his crimes and the race to catch him. From Wednesday

 

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption and Conspiracy 

Stanley Nelson, the Emmy-winning documentary-maker behind The Murder Of Emmett Till and The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution, turns his attention to the war on drugs. 

The project focuses on how cocaine went from being the party drug of the rich and famous to becoming the scourge of poverty-stricken communities. From Monday

 

Outside The Wire 

A sci-fi movie set in the near future. Damson Idris plays Lieutenant Thomas Harp, a disgraced drone pilot sent into a deadly militarised zone where he finds himself working for an android captain (Anthony Mackie), a super-warrior who is searching for a weapon of global destruction before it falls into the hands of insurgents. 

It’s in the same vein as Extraction and The Old Guard, which were fairly formulaic action movies but big hits for Netflix. From Friday

 

Disenchantment 

The third series of Matt Groening’s animated sitcom sees hard-drinking Princess Bean follow her destiny. Abbi Jacobson, Eric Andre and Nat Faxon voice the lead characters, while former Mighty Boosh stars Matt Berry, Noel Fielding and Rich Fulcher are also among the cast. From Friday   



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