BLACK NARCISSUS (NEON)
Loosely based on the 1939 Rumer Godden novel of the same name (which also spawned a memorable 1947 movie), this 1934-set, three-part mini-series is about a nun who is sent to establish a branch of her order in Himayalas. Unfortunately, she is distracted by a World War I veteran she meets there.
Gemma Arterton heads an impressive cast that also includes Alessandro Nivola, Jim Broadbent, Gina McKee and, in her final role before her death in September, Diana Rigg.
Call the Midwife this ain’t. Instead, this is an intense and increasingly erotic psychological drama which could become habit-forming.
CALL MY AGENT (NETFLIX)
Now in its fourth – and final – season, this hilariously cynical French comedy focuses on a top Paris talent agency who are constantly scrambling to keep their top clients happy. Highlights of this latest six-part series include Charlotte Gainsbourg trying to escape a terrible sci-fi movie, Sigourney Weaver demanding a younger love interest and a finale involving Jean Reno.
“At times, its silliness stretches credulity – most of the plots could be resolved in five minutes, if only the characters would talk to each other directly – but it is so charismatic that it almost always gets away with it. … But this remains a wonderful, bright series until the end, and it does end – properly, satisfactorily and neatly,” wrote The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson.
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* The Dig: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes combine for spellbinding Netflix drama
* Amazon’s Soulmates, Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes amongst February’s must see TV
* Losing Alice: Why Apple’s audacious thriller is one of summer’s hottest shows
Firefly Lane is now streaming on Netflix.
FIREFLY LANE (NETFLIX)
Grey’s Anatomy’s Katherine Heigl and Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke join forces for this 10-part adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s 2008 novel. It’s the tale of best friends Tully and Kate and the highs and lows of their seemingly unbreakable bond that has carried them from their teens to their 40s.
“It’s impressively breezy for something that pulls in stories of rape, cancer and suicide,” wrote The Independent’s Adam White. “That ability to maintain an emotional and aesthetic levity at all times, even amid hefty themes, is something these kinds of shows do incredibly well. They don’t often get enough credit for that. Even if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, Firefly Lane’s cosy gentleness would be something to be thankful for.”
THE GOOD LORD BIRD (NEON)
A seven-part, late-1850s-set drama based on James McBride’s critically acclaimed 2013 novel of the same name, this boasts a similar swagger and sensibility to Tarantino’s Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, mixes genre storytelling and modern mores in the same way as Get Out or Us and has a relaxed approach to violence and colourful language that echoes fellow 19th century tales like Deadwood and Hell on Wheels (with which it shares a writer, Mark Richard).
Looking like a cross between latter-day Nick Nolte and Anthony Hopkins in Legends of the Fall and channelling the same fury as Samuel L Jackson at his best, Good Lord’s main drawcard is Ethan Hawke’s performance as abolitionist John Brown. The now 50-year-old former Gen X poster boy spits and dribbles his way through hilarious and endlessly quotable monologues with a voice that sounds like he’s been gargling cocktails of sand and marbles.
Holey Moley Australia begins screening at 7.30pm on Monday, February 8 on Three.
HOLEY MOLEY AUSTRALIA (THREE NOW)
Billed as smallest golf’s biggest night, it aims to reinvent and reinvigorate “crazy putt” for modern day television audiences raised by Ninja Warrior, Wipeout and Cannonball. Yes, in a spin on that traditional golfing adage, Holey Moley’s mantra is “putt for dough and get smashed for show”.
The contestants, eight in each episode, are vying to earn a prestigious golden putter and plaid jacket, items that will also gain them a spot in the grand final and a chance at winning $100,000.
To succeed, they’ll have to defeat their opponents in a series of single-hole challenges. But, as well as getting their ball into the cup, our competitors also have to risk life and limb to reach the business end of each hole themselves. That may mean dodging windmill blades, grabbing a pole while careering down a zipline, or negotiating a rotating rotisserie.
On the evidence of episode one, 95 per cent of attempts result in abject failure, audible crunches and plenty of schadenfreude delight for everyone watching at home.
IT’S A SIN (TVNZ ONDEMAND)
Russell T. Davies follows up 2019’s impressive Years and Years with this five-part drama which follows a group of friends, mostly in their late teens and early 20s, who move to London in 1981 and have their lives turned upside down by HIV/Aids over the ensuing decade. The cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Fry, Keeley Hawes and Olly Alexander, who ironically is better known as the lead singer of the band Years and Years.
“It’s A Sin is powerful, political, and highly emotional television from one of Britain’s most talented television writers… You will laugh, you will cry, you will want to spend just one more night on the dance floor.” wrote The Daily Mirror’s Lewis Knight.
Soulmates begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on February 8.
LOSING ALICE (APPLE TV+)
Eight-part, erotic psychological thriller from Israel which tells the story of ambitious 47-year-old film director Alice, who becomes obsessed with a 24-year-old femme-fatale screenwriter called Sophie. Through the prism of this female Faust, the series explores issues such as guilt; jealousy; fear of ageing, rage and the complex relationships women have with each other, says director Sigal Avin.
“For anyone who loves a good story about two equals ripping each other to shreds, Losing Alice has that in spades… Yet the saga that Losing Alice perfects is truly an internal one. This mini-series captures the war between art and life in a way that’s equally self-deprecating and immediately identifiable,” wrote Deadline’s Kayla Cobb.
SOULMATES (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
From one of the writers of Black Mirror comes this six-part anthology series set 15 years in the future.
A company called Soul Connex has developed a test that can determine the person you were most meant to love with 100 per cent accuracy, but, as each self-contained episode indicates, feelings of the heart aren’t an exact science. The cast includes Bill Skarsgard, Sarah Snook, Betsy Brandt and Malin Akerman.
“What’s great about Soulmates is that focus on the practical. It’s a new way to explore an old subject regarding romantic relationships and how we search for partners,” wrote Paste magazine’s Allison Keene.