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From Stowaway to Genius and The Mauritanian: The best on demand TV to watch this week

NETFLIX & ACORN TV

 

Stowaway

His harrowing 2018 film Arctic was about survival at the North Pole. Now director Joe Penna turns his attention to survival in space. Launch support engineer Michael (Shamier Anderson) is accidentally caught on a three-person two-year mission to Mars when the spaceship takes off early. 

The life-support systems won’t sustain a crew of four all the way to the Red Planet. Decision time! Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette (above) and Daniel Dae Kim also star in this taut sci-fi thriller

The life-support systems won’t sustain a crew of four all the way to the Red Planet. Decision time! Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette (above) and Daniel Dae Kim also star in this taut sci-fi thriller

By the time he is discovered, it’s too late to turn back. The life-support systems won’t sustain a crew of four all the way to the Red Planet. Decision time! Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette and Daniel Dae Kim also star in this taut sci-fi thriller. Netflix, from Thursday

 

Shadow And Bone 

This eight-part series is based on the best-selling young adult novels by Leigh Bardugo and is the latest drama from the production company behind Netflix hit Stranger Things. 

It’s set in an Imperial Russia-type milieu. Young cartographer Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) discovers she has a legendary magical ability that could help her country defeat the evil forces threatening it. 

Young cartographer Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li, above, with Jasmine Blackborow as Marie) discovers she has a legendary magical ability that could help her country defeat the evil forces

Young cartographer Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li, above, with Jasmine Blackborow as Marie) discovers she has a legendary magical ability that could help her country defeat the evil forces

She joins an elite army of soldiers known as Grisha but her power makes her a target and friends might be more than they seem. Netflix, from Friday

 

News Of The World 

Jefferson Kidd befriends a mute child (Helena Zengel, above, with Tom Hanks) and takes it upon himself to deliver her to relatives across the treacherous plains

Jefferson Kidd befriends a mute child (Helena Zengel, above, with Tom Hanks) and takes it upon himself to deliver her to relatives across the treacherous plains

Atmospheric western starring Tom Hanks as Jefferson Kidd, a post-Civil War captain journeying through Texas, reading newspapers aloud to illiterate locals. He befriends a mute child (Helena Zengel) and takes it upon himself to deliver her to relatives across the treacherous plains. Netflix, available now

 

Exile 

Psychological thriller focusing on a journalist who investigates a mystery from his youth. John Simm (above, with Claire Goose) and Olivia Colman are among the cast

Psychological thriller focusing on a journalist who investigates a mystery from his youth. John Simm (above, with Claire Goose) and Olivia Colman are among the cast

Psychological thriller focusing on a journalist who investigates a mystery from his youth, only to find the truth obscured by his father’s failing health. John Simm and Olivia Colman are among the cast. Acorn TV, from Monday 

 

THE TEN HOTTEST SHOW TO WATCH RIGHT NOW ON BRITBOX

BEST FILMS 

1 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (above, with Michael Fassbender)

12 Years A Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (above, with Michael Fassbender)

Searing, award-winning drama about slavery in the American South. Directed by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and based on a true story. 

2 The Long Good Friday

The archetypal British gangster film. Harry Shand’s (Bob Hoskins) plan to go legit comes unstuck when he gets mixed up with the IRA and the Mafia.

BEST DRAMAS 

3 Downton Abbey

Top toff TV. Julian Fellowes’ aristo-soap about the Crawley family and their servants was one of the drama hits of the last decade.

4 Our Friends In The North

Epic saga about four friends set over three decades made household names of Christopher Eccleston, Gina McKee, Daniel Craig and Mark Strong.

5 Broadchurch

Atmospheric crime procedural that set a new benchmark for whodunnits, with a cast including David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker.

6 Inspector Morse

Perfect Sunday night viewing. Less about murder than about the opera-loving, beer-drinking, crossword-solving Morse (John Thaw) and sidekick Lewis (Kevin Whately).

BEST COMEDIES 

7 Fawlty Towers

Some aspects of John Cleese's (above) farce may not have aged well

Some aspects of John Cleese’s (above) farce may not have aged well

While some aspects of John Cleese and Connie Booth’s farce may not have aged well, there is no denying that it is comedy gold. Basil Fawlty is a TV character for the ages.

8 Dad’s Army

Not just a comedy classic – it’s baked into British culture.

9 Father Ted

Fathers Ted, Dougal and Jack and their housekeeper Mrs Doyle may well be four of the funniest, most quotable characters in TV comedy.

BEST DOCUMENTARY 

10 The 7Up Collection

Simply one of the greatest documentaries ever made. Participants have been filmed every seven years since 1964.

 

SKY, DISNEY+, BRITBOX & APPLE TV+

 

Genius

The first two series of the period anthology biopic originally shown on National Geographic are now available to stream. The first stars Geoffrey Rush as scientist Albert Einstein, charting his life from his struggle to land a teaching post to his rise to iconic status.

The second features Antonio Banderas (above) as artist Pablo Picasso, focusing on the discovery of his emerging talent and his encounters with fascism and fame

The second features Antonio Banderas (above) as artist Pablo Picasso, focusing on the discovery of his emerging talent and his encounters with fascism and fame

The second features Antonio Banderas as artist Pablo Picasso, focusing on the discovery of his emerging talent and his encounters with fascism and fame. A third, starring Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin, is heading our way soon, while a fourth focusing on Martin Luther King Jr is in production. Disney+, from Friday

 

The Nest 

Not content with being part of one great British show – Line Of Duty – Martin Compston also starred in a second. In The Nest he plays half of a well-heeled Glaswegian couple Dan and Emily (Sophie Rundle), who appear to have everything… except a baby. 

After many failed attempts to conceive, Emily’s surrogate sister has a miscarriage. Enter Kaya (Mirren Mack), a young woman with a difficult past. The couple’s swift agreement that she should be their new surrogate is a sure sign of trouble ahead. 

A twisty, emotional drama with many ethical shades of grey. BritBox, available now 

 

Fosse/Verdon 

Made by some of the team behind the hit musical Hamilton, this eight-part drama focuses on the volatile real-life relationship between dancer-choreographer Bob Fosse (a superb Sam Rockwell), who won an Oscar for directing Cabaret, and his muse, wife and Broadway star Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams, who got several awards for the role). 

Bob Fosse, who won an Oscar for directing Cabaret, and his muse, wife and Broadway star Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams, above, who got several awards for the role)

Bob Fosse, who won an Oscar for directing Cabaret, and his muse, wife and Broadway star Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams, above, who got several awards for the role)

Here we see how much she contributed to Fosse’s success, far more than she was credited for. Fans of musicals and dance will love it. Disney+/Star, from Friday

 

Centre Stage 

Several Andrew Lloyd Webber shows: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (starring Donny Osmond, above), Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar

Several Andrew Lloyd Webber shows: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (starring Donny Osmond, above), Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar

Missing musicals? Take heart from Centre Stage, where as well as productions by the Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and RSC now include several Andrew Lloyd Webber shows: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (starring Donny Osmond), Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Phantom Of The Opera At The Royal Albert Hall. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Zack Snyder’s Justice League 

The original film was deemed a flop on its release. Many suspected that was because director Snyder bowed out of post-production following a family tragedy, handing the reins over to Joss Whedon. 

Zack Snyder has now created his own superior version of the film: Ben Affleck returns as Batman. Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot (above) and Jason Momoa co-star

Zack Snyder has now created his own superior version of the film: Ben Affleck returns as Batman. Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot (above) and Jason Momoa co-star

Snyder has now created his own superior version of the film: Ben Affleck returns as Batman, who creates a team of superheroes to save the world from a newly awakened foe. 

Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa co-star. Sky/NOW, available now

 

The Year Earth Changed 

Apple TV+ has a pack (a troop? a herd?) of excellent wildlife documentaries. The Year Earth Changed, narrated by David Attenborough, is a one-off film that shows how the cleaner air and water, and quieter cities, that were the result of lockdown affected wildlife. 

Earth At Night, narrated by Tom Hiddleston and filmed across six continents, uses cutting-edge technology to capture animals’ nocturnal lives and show them in full colour. 

Earth At Night, narrated by Tom Hiddleston and filmed across six continents, uses cutting-edge technology to capture animals’ nocturnal lives and show them in full colour

Earth At Night, narrated by Tom Hiddleston and filmed across six continents, uses cutting-edge technology to capture animals’ nocturnal lives and show them in full colour

And in Tiny World, Paul Rudd tells the stories of some of the world’s smallest creatures. Apple TV+, available now

 

Secrets Of The Whales 

If the BBC’s Greta Thunberg documentary series has inspired you to think more about the natural world, then Disney+ has two series that should appeal. Secrets Of The Whales is executive produced by James Cameron, took three years to make and uncovers the emotional lives of these giants of the deep; Sigourney Weaver narrates. 

Earth Moods, meanwhile, transports viewers to remote and stunningly beautiful corners of the world. Disney+, from Thursday

 

Kidnap And Ransom 

Law & Order writer Patrick Harbinson and Silent Witness scribe Michael Crompton each took charge of a series of this drama starring Trevor Eve as hostage negotiator Dominic King. 

The first focuses on efforts to free a botanist kidnapped in South Africa; the second deals with a Brit family’s ordeal in Kashmir. Helen Baxendale (above) and John Hannah co-star

The first focuses on efforts to free a botanist kidnapped in South Africa; the second deals with a Brit family’s ordeal in Kashmir. Helen Baxendale (above) and John Hannah co-star

The first focuses on efforts to free a botanist kidnapped in South Africa; the second deals with a Brit family’s ordeal in Kashmir. Helen Baxendale and John Hannah co-star. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Why is there such a buzz about..?

The One (Netflix)

Imagine if a dating service could find you your one true love, the most perfect person for you in the whole world. That’s the premise of this intriguing, British Netflix drama series based on John Marrs’ bestseller.

Ah yes, if it were only that simple. As we see over eight episodes switching between the present day set at The One’s flashy HQ back to when its two leading lights found out how to use DNA to achieve the desired coupling, there are all sorts of complications, both practical and moral.

The face of the company is the steely, Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware, above)

The face of the company is the steely, Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware, above)

The face of the company is the steely, stop-at-nothing Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware), who’s a real piece of work: she used nefarious means to start the company in the first place and has never stopped finagling to take her enterprise to global heights. 

There’s even a dead body.

On top of this story, the ethical implications of such a business are more intriguing: not only are there the singletons who want to find the perfect partner but also those in relationships seeking a better match (naughty). 

And what about the woman who searches out her boyfriend’s match in order to ensure he never meets her. (Can you guess what happens..?)

Add to this the police detective looking into the aforementioned body who also finds her ideal paramour – a woman in Spain, whom she invites to London. No, that doesn’t go well either.

It’s an interesting idea that, while it doesn’t quite fulfil its promise, is nevertheless bingeworthy stuff.

Mark Cook 

 

AMAZON & STARZPLAY

 

The Mauritanian

This powerful film tells the shocking true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim, star of TV’s The Serpent), who was arrested at a family wedding in his home country two months after 9/11, whisked to Guantanamo Bay and held there for 14 years. 

Enter principled lawyer Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster, above) who takes on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s case, not because she necessarily believes him to be innocent

Enter principled lawyer Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster, above) who takes on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s case, not because she necessarily believes him to be innocent

He was tortured but never charged. Enter principled lawyer Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) who takes on Slahi’s case, not because she necessarily believes him to be innocent but because she believes in the American justice system. 

Ah, but is she right? Amazon, available now

 

Flash Forward 

High-concept series in which the entire human race blacks out and everyone is given a glimpse of their future in six months’ time. Or, rather, most are. Those who saw nothing assume they’re not going to be around in six months. 

It has a great cast including Jack Davenport, Courtney B. Vance and Joseph Fiennes (above, with Shohreh Aghdashloo). Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one season

It has a great cast including Jack Davenport, Courtney B. Vance and Joseph Fiennes (above, with Shohreh Aghdashloo). Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one season

It has a great cast including Jack Davenport, Courtney B. Vance and Joseph Fiennes. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one season. Amazon, available now

 

Confronting A Serial Killer 

Across five episodes, Joe Berlinger, director of Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, follows the writer Jillian Lauren as she attempts to persuade serial killer Sam Little to open up about his crimes. 

He is serving four life sentences without parole, but claims to have killed as many as 93 women. StarzPlay, available now

 

The Expanse 

Over five series, it creates a world as rich as any in science fiction, up there with Game Of Thrones. Featuring Jasai Chase Owens as Filip Inaros (above)

Over five series, it creates a world as rich as any in science fiction, up there with Game Of Thrones. Featuring Jasai Chase Owens as Filip Inaros (above)

Terrific series set a few hundred years from now, when humans populate the solar system. It deals with political conspiracies, power struggles and alien technologies. Over five series, it creates a world as rich as any in science fiction, up there with Game Of Thrones. 

Featuring Jasai Chase Owens as Filip Inaros. Amazon, available now

 

Borat Subsequent Movie Film 

The Oscars take place next week – will Sacha Baron Cohen and his co-writers be taking home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay? They’re in the running for their work on this sequel to the original 2006 mockumentary, while Baron Cohen’s co-star, Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat’s daughter Tutar, has also been nominated for Best Supporting Actress. 

The Oscars take place next week – will Sacha Baron Cohen (above) and his co-writers be taking home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay?

The Oscars take place next week – will Sacha Baron Cohen (above) and his co-writers be taking home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay?

To see if they deserve to win, catch the film in which the duo cause all sorts of mayhem ahead of the 2020 US Presidential election. Amazon, available now

 

FILMS

Antebellum 

Antebellum describes the period before the American Civil War, normally in the South, so it’s no surprise when the film opens on a brutal slave plantation run by the Confederate Army. 

What is a surprise, however, is when the sadistic action jumps forward to the present day, as a successful and very glamorous black academic – played by singer and actress Janelle Monáe – is still subjected to everyday racism. 

The less you know in advance about how these two storylines are linked, the more effective this well-made and, at times, deliberately difficult-to-watch picture will be. Sky/NOW, available now

 

This Italian thriller is much odder than it looks, involving a large rabbit (above)

This Italian thriller is much odder than it looks, involving a large rabbit (above)

Into The Labyrinth 

A disturbed young woman found by the roadside turns out to have been kidnapped as a child 15 years earlier. Dustin Hoffman plays the psychological profiler who’s helping her recover her memory, while Toni Servillo plays a dying detective pursuing her kidnapper. 

Be warned, this Italian thriller is much odder than it looks, unfolding in a heightened reality, involving a series of grotesques and – wait for it – a large rabbit. Donnie Darko it ain’t. Main platforms, from Monday

Matthew Bond 

 

BBC iPLAYER

 

Westworld 

Never mind the excellent recent TV series with Evan Rachel Wood and Anthony Hopkins, writer-director Michael Crichton’s original take on the story is even more chilling – you’ll certainly never see Yul Brynner in the same way again. 

He dons his Magnificent Seven outfit to play a robot gunfighter at a lavish theme park where guests can live out their Wild West fantasies in a variety of settings, with no fear of any consequences or repercussions. 

Yul Brynner dons his Magnificent Seven outfit (above) to play a robot gunfighter at a lavish theme park where guests can live out their Wild West fantasies in a variety of settings

Yul Brynner dons his Magnificent Seven outfit (above) to play a robot gunfighter at a lavish theme park where guests can live out their Wild West fantasies in a variety of settings

Unfortunately, a technical issue causes a major malfunction, resulting in the robots embarking on a murderous rampage. Richard Benjamin co-stars as the relentless Brynner’s human target. Available now

 

Collective: Unravelling A Scandal 

The starting point for this Oscar-nominated documentary is a 2015 Bucharest nightclub fire in which 27 people were killed and 180 injured. It then follows a whistleblowing doctor and journalists as they investigate why the surviving burn victims begin dying too, uncovering evidence of corruption in Romania’s hospitals that goes all the way to the top. Available now

 

A Simple Plan 

Sam Raimi’s Oscar-nominated neo-noir stars Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton as brothers who find a fortune among plane wreckage and decide to keep it, despite knowing underworld figures are searching for the stash. 

Unfortunately, the strain of keeping the find a secret has a devastating effect on their relationship. Available now

 

Bodies 

Long before Jed Mercurio started boggling our minds with Line Of Duty, the former hospital doctor created two series of this 2004 Bafta-nominated medical drama for the BBC.

As you might expect, it’s a tad darker than Holby City or Casualty, depicting (often bungled) operations in graphic detail and centring on Max Beesley’s Rob Lake, a whistleblowing obstetrics and gynaecology registrar. 

As you might expect, it’s a tad darker than Holby City or Casualty. Preeya Kalidas (above) also stars, along with Line Of Duty’s Patrick Baladi, Keith Allen and Neve McIntosh

As you might expect, it’s a tad darker than Holby City or Casualty. Preeya Kalidas (above) also stars, along with Line Of Duty’s Patrick Baladi, Keith Allen and Neve McIntosh

Preeya Kalidas also stars, along with Line Of Duty’s Patrick Baladi, Keith Allen and Neve McIntosh. Available now       

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