Eight great shows to stream this week.
THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR (NETFLIX)
The success of 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House has prompted Netflix to enlist writer-director Mike Flanagan to create another similarly-themed, horror-infused series.
Inspired by Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, it follows the fortunes of a young governess hired by the owner of a country estate to look after his niece and nephew. Among the returning Hill House stars are Victoria Pedretti and Henry Thomas.
“Bly Manor might not be scary, but it certainly sticks in your brain long after it’s over, because stories – like houses, like people – don’t have to horrify to be haunting,” wrote Collider’s Vinnie Mancuso.
JOURNEY OF AN AFRICAN COLONY (NETFLIX)
Based on the book by the show’s host Olasupo Shasore, this seven-part docu series delves into the untold stories and unsung heroes that helped pave Nigeria’s road to independence.
“As a Nigerian living in Nigeria, I found the documentary a powerful reminder that to truly celebrate this country’s independence, we must take stock of where we came from,” wrote Nigeria Health Watch director of policy and advocacy Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor for America’s National Public Radio.
The Right Stuff, Penance and Journey of an African Colony are among the great new shows available to stream this week.
* Long Way Up: Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman deliver another engrossing ride
* September’s must see TV: Netflix’s Away, Neon’s new Fargo and more
* What to expect from the rest of Lovecraft Country
Journey of an African Colony is now streaming on Netflix.
LONG WAY UP (APPLE TV+)
Having motorcycled round the globe from London to New York and down from John o’ Groats to Cape Town, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are now taking on a potentially even tougher challenge. A three month, 13,000km trip featuring 13 countries and 16 border crossings as they make their way from Argentina’s Ushuaia to Los Angeles.
To add exponentially to the degree of difficulty, not only are the pair now much older (Boorman having also suffered two significant bike accidents in recent years), but they are desperate to complete their mission on electric motorbikes. Problem is, such vehicles are only at the prototype stage, not nearly capable of completing their target of 180 miles a day without charging at least twice. With so much interesting territory to cover, green technology to test and celebrity anecdotes to both retell and create, this is an engaging, entertaining and enlightening trip well worth tagging along for.
PENANCE (ACORN TV)
Neil Morrissey, Julie Graham, Art Malik and Nico Mirallegro star in this three-part British drama, based on the novel by Kate O’Riordan, about how the lives of a grieving mother and her daughter are changed forever when they meet a young man.
“A stubbornly working engine drives this tale, thanks to which it becomes, in its own quietly suffocating way, drama that sustains suspense,” wrote The Wall St Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz.
Penance is now streaming on Acorn TV.
While the characters and writing may not exactly be nuanced, this 10-part One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest prequel is a triumph of casting, costuming and production design. Everything surrounding Sarah Paulsen’s Nurse Mildred, from her stunning outfits to her vivid lipstick looks and feels like a technicolour fever dream. Showrunner Ryan Murphy and company cleverly contrast this with the dank, drabness of her motel lodgings and the sterile, pastel environment of the hospital.
And, if the eye-popping visuals don’t get you, then the supporting players will. Vincent D’Onfrio (Full Metal Jacket, Criminal Intent) is at his scene-stealing best as Governor George Milburn, while Judy Davis (The Dressmaker), Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Corey Stoll (Billions) and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) all have key roles to execute.
THE RIGHT STUFF (DISNEY+)
Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book (previously adapted into a critically acclaimed 1983 movie) about the men involved in NASA’s Project Mercury gets the full eight-episode treatment by National Geographic.
Billed as the first of many seasons, it follows their fortunes from the Mojave Desert to the edges of space.
“These characters are messy and flawed and full of contradictions, and the show isn’t afraid to engage with those less pleasant aspects of their lives. As a dramatic series, it’s phenomenal; it’s frequently touching and just as thrilling,” wrote Collider’s Drew Taylor.
The Right Stuff is now streaming on Disney+.
UTOPIA (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
As with the short-lived, but much-loved 2013-14 British version, this is the story of a group of comic-book fans-cum-conspiracy-theorists who believe a graphic novel predicted several disastrous global epidemics.
Smartly adapted and updated by Gone Girl and Sharp Objects scribe Gillian Flynn, this begins with a young couple who uncover a copy of a sequel in a house they’ve inherited and decide to auction it off at a conference. But amongst the collectors, the obsessives and our heroes, there are also those determined to get their hands on it for more nefarious purposes and to ensure that anyone who has even had a glimpse at a page can never divulge its secrets.
Funny, violent and boasting both John Cusack (in a rare TV turn) and a weaponised disease premise that feels troublingly resonant in our current pandemic times, Utopia is far more than just this generation’s Heroes.
WHOSE VOTE COUNTS, EXPLAINED (NETFLIX)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Selena Gomez and John Legend narrate this three-part documentary series which takes a deep dive into the messy history of US voting – and who can rig it.
Concepts like gerrymandering, the Electoral College, voter suppression and ballot box fraud are explained, as it urges Americans to get out and vote in the November 2020 Presidential elections.