CHATHAM ISLANDERS (MĀORI TELEVISION ONDEMAND)
This seven-part documentary series aims to shine a long, overdue light on the people and community of New Zealand’s remotest, inhabited islands.
Introducing viewers to the Pacific Ocean archipelago’s rich, colourful and dark history, it details how the area was first inhabited by the Moriori, who arrived about 1000 years ago directly from East Polynesia with their own distinct language, art forms and customs.
Featuring a host of colourful characters revealing sometimes stunning stories, this is an erudite, enlightening show that should be compulsory viewing for Kiwis of all ages.
COLIN IN BLACK AND WHITE (NETFLIX)
A Wrinkle in Time’s Ava Duvernay teams up with controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for a six-episode drama which takes a look back at his formative years.
Wonderstruck’s Jaden Michael plays the teenage Kaepernick, as he navigates the insecurities and complexities of growing up as a bi-racial child with adopted parents (Mary-Louise Parker and Nick Offerman) in a predominately white Californian neighbourhood.
“A bold creation, shaped and fuelled by anger, aimed at educating as much as – if not even more than – entertaining. It takes your breath away,” wrote The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan.
* Lochdown: Have Amazon’s Grand Tour trio finally found Top Gear again?
* Cruel Summer: Amazon’s sizzling, stylish new teen drama will keep you enthralled
* Jungle Cruise: Emily’s best Blunted by rocky storytelling, predictable action
* Ted Lasso: I was a cynic, but I’ve fallen in love with Apple’s football comedy
* Turner & Hooch: Disney’s TV reimagining of Tom Hanks’ hit full of canine chaos
* Girls5eva: TVNZ’s Spicy singing group sitcom a fab showcase for Sara Bareilles
Hawkeye begins streaming on Disney+ on November 24.
This six-part Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series is another cleverly conceived, brilliantly cast piece of the Phase 4-puzzle. After the confusing, sometimes confounding star-studded fantasy of the Eternals and the timey-wimey Doctor Who-esque hijinks of Loki, it is something of a relief to have a tale that’s a little more gritty and down-to-earth.
Indeed, while there’s something of a Die Hard-esque swagger to this festive fare, it also feels closer in style to the near-forgotten Netflix Marvel series like Jessica Jones or Daredevil, than the other “official” MCU spin-offs.
And don’t be fooled by the title, while Jeremy Renner’s grizzled archer certainly has a key role to play, this really is the origin story for fellow bow-and-arrow enthusiast Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld, bringing the same charisma that lit up Transformers’ tonal reboot Bumblebee).
Korea’s pop-culture hot streak continues with this compelling, chilling six-part thriller.
From the creative and twisted mind that gave the world the unforgettable 2016 action-horror Train to Busan – Yeon Sang-ho – it’s a police procedural-meets-cult drama, with more than a side order of spooky supernatural goings-on.
A melding of Drag Me to Hell, Ringu, Final Destination and Ghost that doesn’t stint on the spills and thrills, as a Seoul-set battle for hearts, minds and seemingly souls plays out.
Vibrant, haunting, horrifying and thought-provoking, and boasting plenty of twists and turns (and a clever switch in focus part-way through), Hellbound might not have Squid Games’ shock value, but its gripping narrative and arresting visions still pack a punch.
The Shrink Next Door is now available to stream on Apple TV+
THE SHRINK NEXT DOOR (APPLE TV+)
Inspired by real-life events, this eight-part drama details the bizarre relationship between psychiatrist-to-the-stars Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf (Paul Rudd) and his longtime patient Martin “Marty” Markowitz (Will Ferrell).
Over the course of their relationship, the all-too-charming Ike slowly inserts himself into Marty’s life, even moving into Marty’s Hamptons home and persuading Marty to name him president of the family business.
“If you watch The Shrink Next Door as a showcase for two extraordinary actors, you will likely have a great viewing experience. I certainly did,” wrote Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert.
SPREADSHEET (TVNZ ONDEMAND)
Former The IT Crowd star Katherine Parkinson reminds us of her comedic talents in this sometimes outrageous, snort-inducing new Aussie comedy.
A kind of a cross between Rose Matafeo’s Starstruck and anarchic British school-run satire Motherland, as well as a saucier antidote to more traditional Ocker dramedies like House Husbands and Offspring, this follows the misfortunes of the footloose, fancy-free and feckless Lauren.
A divorced mother of two primary school-aged children, she’s now not looking for “the one”, but rather a continuing series of good times.
The conceit could yet be unsustainable as a series, but Spreadsheet certainly starts with a finely balanced mix of acerbic laughs, flawed characters and a smattering of light domestic drama.
Amazon Prime Video
Take a look at new Series The Wheel of Time.
THE WHEEL OF TIME (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Based on Robert Jordan’s beloved, best-selling fantasy novels, this eight-part series is set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, and only certain women are allowed to access it.
The story follows Rosamund Pike’s Moiraine, a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organisation called the Aes Sedai, who must embark on a dangerous mission with five young men and women. Kiwi Zoë Robins (Black Christmas) also features.
“It’s got brio, it’s got style, and it’s got enough portentous voiceover book-ending events to make everything feel high stakes,” wrote The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan.
Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci and our own Melanie Lynskey head an impressive ensemble assembled for this 10-part combination of survival epic, psychological horror story and coming-of-age drama.
It’s the story of a team of wildly talented high school football players who have to overcome many obstacles and privations in order to survive a plane crash deep in the remote wilderness.
Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson’s juicy premise is very much pitching itself as a kind of Lost-meets-Mare of Easttown, by way of Now and Then, Cruel Summer and The Wilds, Lord of theFlies-esque behaviour is teased throughout the opening episode (directed with flair and no small amount of swagger by Destroyer’s Karyn Kusama), as we also learn about each of the key members of the team, both back in high school and today.
At once fast-paced and slow-burning, Yellowjackets benefits from some smart casting between the younger and older versions of the characters. Throw in an evocative soundtrack that, in the first instalment includes classic cuts by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, the Smashing Pumpkins and Inxs, and the result is an intriguing cocktail that could well become the talk of early summer.