ARCANE: LEAGUE OF LEGENDS (NETFLIX)
Hailee Steinfeld and Katie Leung are among the vocal talent enlisted for this nine-part, animated series inspired by the long-running online game League of Legends.
It focuses on what happens when new inventions inflame tensions between two cities. In the prosperous Piltover, Hextech democratizes magic, while, in the underground community of Zaun, a drug can now transform humans into monsters.
“Even if you have no interest in picking up any kind of gaming console, do yourself a favor and give Arcane a try,” wrote Paste magazine’s Tara Bennett. “It has more mature storytelling and emotional resonance than many live-action shows do right now. And it deserves to be lauded as the new benchmark for what can be done when it comes to successfully translating worthy videogame universes into a different medium, while refusing to dumb down or simplify complex storytelling. Arcane is a world worth getting lost within.”
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (NEON)
“I’m not the bad guy.”
It’s the constant refrain of Larry David, as the 11th season of this long-running comedy gets underway.
Let’s be honest though, it’s been the mantra of grudge-holding, petty, vindictive, socially awkward, mishap-prone misanthrope “fictionalised” version of the writer and stand-up comedian since the very beginning of this now 21-year-old show.
Like his more famous co-creation Seinfeld, it takes potshots at modern mores and cleverly crafts heightened conundrums based around day-to-day encounters, which often end in catastrophic results. Only this has a cadre of myopic and self-obsessed Hollywood players and not eclectic New Yorkers as its anti-heroes.
It’s frequently laugh-out-loud funny, full of situations and behaviour that will make you cringe – and most certainly an acquired taste. But, at its best, and 47 Emmy nominations attest to its quality, it is awfully hard to beat when it comes to compelling, binge-worthy comedy.
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Dexter: New Blood is now available to stream on Neon and Sky Go.
DEXTER: NEW BLOOD (NEON)
Who would have thought that, just over eight years after Remember the Monsters? outraged viewers around the globe, we’d be watching Michael C. Hall’s familiar visage sharpening knifes at the start of a new 10-part, allegedly one-and-done series?
Returning showrunner Clyde Phillips (whose departure coincided with the series highpoint in 2009) cleverly eschews the show’s defining near-ubiquitous monologue, leaving us only to guess Dexter’s thoughts while he’s suppressing his more primal urges. While newbies will think nothing of it, those familiar with the show will find it both disconcerting – and a masterstroke.
It’s also welcome back to the early black, bleak humour that initially marked out Dexter. Delivered via deadly deadpan by the brilliant Hall, lines such as “I have a thing about blood” and “you’re looking at a guy where secrets go to die” both really resonate and can’t fail to raise a laugh.
While things could get yet go pear-shaped, Dexter: New Blood has certainly started in more than promising fashion. Although it, perhaps smartly, hasn’t attempted to wipe clean its chequered past, it won’t take long to forget the bad times, if the intrigue and quality of the opening episodes continues.
INSIDE JOB (NETFLIX)
Netflix’s first in-house adult animated series might just be the best of the genre to debut on the service since Bojack Horseman.
From two troubled minds that gave the world the tragically short-lived Gravity Falls – Alex Hirsch and Shion Takeuchi – the 10-episode Inside Job is the perfect “grown-up” follow-up, both for those who were in their tweens/early teens when that series debuted in 2012 and those older who discovered and loved it for its smarts, sweetness and brilliant satire.
Two of those qualities remain here as this acerbic, anarchic and somewhat salty language-laced sitcom unfolds.
At its heart, Inside Job is the story of Regan Ridley (Lizzie Caplan, finally getting the comedic leading role her talents deserve), a brilliant, ambitious tech genius whose cutting-edge creations are helping the Men In Black-esque Cognito, Inc keep order in an increasingly chaotic world.
My Name is now available to stream on Netflix
MY NAME (NETFLIX)
Hot on the heels of the global-conquering Squid Game comes this eight-part South Korean crime thriller.
It’s the story of Jiwoo, who joins a drug cartel and becomes a mole in the police force in order to seek the truth behind her father’s death. She encounters some harsh realities in the course of carrying out her revenge.
“Action-packed and instantly engaging, My Name is a solid revenge thriller grounded by its compelling protagonist,” wrote Ready Steady Cut’s Jonathon Wilson.
OLD PEOPLE’S HOME FOR FOUR YEAR OLDS (NETFLIX)
Another social experiment meshed with the trappings of a reality series.
In this five-part, 2019 Australian documentary show, retirement village residents meet preschoolers for daily activities as part of an experiment that aims to combat loneliness.
Don’t be surprised if, in these Covid-19 times, you end up feeling emotionally warmed by the heartwarming goings-on.
“After months of wading through hours of reality show nonsense and grim politics, this social experiment – pairing 11 four-year-olds with the same number of residents at a Sydney retirement village for merged classes – just filled my soul with joy. The producers have done a brilliant job in casting a great mix of shy and outgoing personalities at both ends of the age spectrum,” wrote News Limited’s Holly Byrnes.
Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds is now available to stream on Netflix.
RFDS: ROYAL FLYING DOCTOR SERVICE (TVNZ ONDEMAND)
This is a charming, compelling and surprisingly emotional eight-part drama that has managed to update the conceit of beloved 1980s and ‘90s outback medical drama The Flying Doctors, while still filling it with characters that you’ll quickly fall in love with and care about their fate.
In a way, their tight-knit nature and various troubled backstories reminds one of 9-1-1, which, despite its increasingly over-the-top scenarios, draws you back with the calibre of its cast and depiction of human frailties.
It certainly doesn’t have the pie-and-pint simplicity of the original, as arguably it shouldn’t, but fans of the original Flying Doctors and lovers of both contemporary Aussie dramas and medical soaps should definitely check it out.
The wait for this third season has been worth it.
Two years have passed since we’ve last borne witness to the Machiavellian machinations of the deeply divided and troubled Roys, but now they’re back, with just as much engrossing and crowd pleasing antipathy towards one another.
If you are new to the back-stabbing and brutal behaviour of the family who run the world’s fifth-largest global media and entertainment conglomerate, then come for the witty one-liners and acerbic put-downs and stay for the narrative twists and turns, as each member of this excellent ensemble tries to grab their slice of the action.
Already a paid-up member of the Succession support group? Then simply sit back and enjoy another nine-rounds of top-quality black comedy, dialogue such as “the only reason your hands are clean are because your w….house does manicures” and pick your favourite for who is going to finish at the summit.