News, Culture & Society

From Kristen Bell in Frozen II to the Glow Up final and Dead Still: The best on demand TV this week

SKY/NOW TV & DISNEY+ 

Frozen II

Just when children – and, let’s face it, many adults – finally got the catchy tune Let It Go out of their heads, along came this sequel. 

Set three years after the original, Frozen II sees Elsa lured to the Enchanted Forest, where she accidentally awakens the spirits, forcing Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf to save their kingdom

Set three years after the original, Frozen II sees Elsa the Snow Queen lured to the Enchanted Forest, where she accidentally awakens the spirits, forcing Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf to set right an old wrong in order to save their kingdom. 

Thanks to the stellar voice cast led by Idina Menzel’s Elsa, stunning animation and some catchy tunes, this is a film well worth a leap Into The Unknown (this movie’s Let It Go) for. Disney+ & Sky/NOW TV, from Friday

 

Washington

If you can’t wait to see the entire series play out on Sky History next weekend, there’s a chance to stream all three feature-length episodes of the acclaimed docu-drama back to back. Narrated by Jeff Daniels, the programme takes a no-holds-barred look at George Washington, America’s first president, offering insights into his rarely explored but troubling life. 

Nicholas Rowe plays Washington in the dramatised segments, while Bill Clinton, Colin Powell and Pulitzer Prize-winning historians Joanne Freeman, Alan Taylor, Jon Meacham and Annette Gordon-Reed offer their views on an increasingly controversial figure. Sky & NOW TV, from Saturday

 

On The Record

In 2016, film-maker Amy Ziering, after meeting Rose McGowan, considered making a film about the actor’s experiences with Harvey Weinstein. Sadly, she was forced to shelve the idea, but as support for the #MeToo movement grew, Ziering and her collaborator Kirby Dick joined forces with music executive Drew Dixon, the first person to accuse Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons of assault. 

In this powerful documentary, Dixon discusses her ordeal and the impact it had on her life and career. Several other accusers also participate in a project that received a standing ovation after its premiere at the Sundance Festival in January. Sky & NOW TV, from Saturday

 

Will & Grace

Much like our own Gavin & Stacey, this US comedy may be named after the title characters – Will Truman, a gay New York lawyer, and his best friend, and one-time partner, interior designer Grace Adler (Eric McCormack and Debra Messing) – but the best lines and best scenes belong to the supporting cast. 

This show may be named after the title characters – Will Truman & his best friend Grace Adler (Eric McCormack & Debra Messing, above) – but the best lines belong to the supporting cast

This show may be named after the title characters – Will Truman & his best friend Grace Adler (Eric McCormack & Debra Messing, above) – but the best lines belong to the supporting cast

Jack McFarland is a flamboyantly camp, oft out-of-work actor, but cream of the crop is Karen Walker – the demonically rich, rude and raucous socialite. The show was revived in 2017 but the best episodes are all in this original eight-series run. Sky & NOW TV, from Wednesday

 

The Office US

Adapted from the BBC series starring Ricky Gervais, the American version of The Office stars Steve Carell as the boss of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Like the original, The Office US is filmed mockumentary-style with direct-to-camera addresses from its cast of quirky characters. 

Adapted from the BBC series starring Ricky Gervais, the American version of The Office stars Steve Carell (above, centre) as the boss of Scranton, PA's Dunder Mifflin Paper Company

Adapted from the BBC series starring Ricky Gervais, the American version of The Office stars Steve Carell (above, centre) as the boss of Scranton, PA’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company

While some felt the show got off to a rocky start, it quickly forged its own identity, and some critics eventually declared it better than the original. Interpersonal relationships, workplace dynamics and changes in the company form the basis of the clever, uniquely satirical and observational plot-lines over the course of nine seasons. Sky & NOW TV, from Wednesday

 

I Love You, Now Die

Its title is shocking enough but the substance of HBO’s two-part true-crime documentary is equally so. In Massachusetts in 2012, two teenagers, Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy, started a romance that blossomed via texts as the couple sent thousands of SMS messages to each other. Nothing unusual in that. 

The substance of HBO’s true-crime documentary is as shocking as its title. It asks whether Michelle Carter (above) did in fact encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself

The substance of HBO’s true-crime documentary is as shocking as its title. It asks whether Michelle Carter (above) did in fact encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself

But when Roy killed himself in 2014 by pumping carbon monoxide into his truck, police found texts from Carter that seemed to be encouraging his suicidal thoughts. Was she partly to blame for his death? Or was she genuinely trying to help him, out of love? Like other true-crime shows, of the sort popularised by Netflix, this begins as a clear-cut case, but through interviews with Roy’s family it slowly morphs into something much less certain and far more disturbing. Sky & NOW TV, available now

 

Hamilton

Many West End productions may not be returning until next year but musical theatre fans can still get their fix. A film of the live Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Hamilton, starring its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been brought forward by 15 months, having originally been scheduled for October 2021. Directed by Thomas Kail, the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton was filmed with all the original cast, including Daveed Diggs and Renée Elise Goldsberry. Disney+, from Friday

 

NETFLIX & ACORN TV

Dead Still

The Victorians liked to dress up the newly deceased in their Sunday best, arrange them in lifelike poses and take photographs of them. Weird? Yes, but the past is a different country. 

In this six-part series, Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley, above), a celebrated ‘memorial photographer’ is caught up in a series of bizarre murders in Dublin

In this six-part series, Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley, above), a celebrated ‘memorial photographer’ is caught up in a series of bizarre murders in Dublin

In this six-part series – part drama, part morbid black comedy – Brock Blennerhasset (the dependably excellent Michael Smiley), a celebrated ‘memorial photographer’ whose skill can ‘bring the dead to life’, is caught up in a series of bizarre murders in Dublin in which photography seems to play a part. Acorn TV, from Monday

 

Desperados

If you’re looking for an undemanding romcom to ease you into the weekend, this should tick the box. Nasim Pedrad stars as Wes who, after sending her boyfriend a drunken rant via email, persuades her two best friends to help her delete it before he can see it. 

In Desperados, Nasim Pedrad (above with Anna Camp) stars as Wes who, after sending her boyfriend a drunken rant via email, persuades her friends to help her delete it before he sees it

In Desperados, Nasim Pedrad (above with Anna Camp) stars as Wes who, after sending her boyfriend a drunken rant via email, persuades her friends to help her delete it before he sees it

The only problem is that he’s in Mexico – as is Wes’s ex-beau, who also gets caught up in her panic-stricken scheme. Look out for former A-lister Heather Graham in a supporting role. Netflix, from Friday

 

Caliphate

This tense, gritty Swedish thriller smashed viewing records when made available there. A charismatic Isis recruiter is grooming vulnerable young girls in Sweden to become wives for Islamist fanatics. In Raqqa, Syria, the wife of an Isis thug wants out and is trying to negotiate a safe exit for her and her baby with Swedish Intelligence by gathering information on a terrorist attack in Stockholm. Depressingly, the show’s creator got the idea after seeing pictures of the Bethnal Green three, teenagers who left Britain to join Isis. Netflix, available now

 

Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved Mysteries was a long-running American documentary series that examined supposed instances of the paranormal and the unexplained, as well as venturing into true crime and looking at cold cases. Now it has been rebooted by the creators of the original show and the producers of Stranger Things. Volume One will consist of 12 one-hour episodes – six released now, six later – each focusing on a single mystery. Among the first batch is an episode looking at a case of alien abduction in New England in 1969. Netflix, from Wednesday

 

Daughters Of Destiny

India may be one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but there is still grinding poverty there. This powerful and moving four-part documentary celebrates the work of the Shanti Bhavan boarding school, which lifts up some of the country’s poorest youngsters by giving them a good education. The series follows five schoolgirls from the so-called ‘untouchable’ caste over seven years. Netflix, available now

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

The Bureau (Netflix)

The Bureau originally appeared without fanfare, settled in unobtrusively and went quietly about its business without drawing attention to itself. Now, though, its position is compromised and its cover blown – it has become a sleeper hit, a word-of-mouth sensation.

There are five series of this classy, suspenseful French thriller about the work of the DGSE – France’s equivalent of MI6. Season one begins with agent Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz) recalled from his six-year mission in Damascus at very short notice.

Season one of this classy, suspenseful French thriller begins with agent Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz, above) recalled from his six-year mission in Syria at short notice

Season one of this classy, suspenseful French thriller begins with agent Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz, above) recalled from his six-year mission in Syria at short notice

At the bureau he is hailed as a returning hero but finds it tricky to slot back into his former life. He has an awkward reunion with his daughter. ‘What was your mission?’ she asks. ‘Did you kill people?’ Then, when he discovers that his Syrian ex-girlfriend is in Paris, he has to keep her presence secret from the DGSE, and not let her know his real identity. Assuming she is who she says she is.

It’s more George Smiley than James Bond but it’s not all everyday mundanity, and soon we’re meeting Syrian intelligence officers, Russian agents and Islamic State terrorists. Matters are out of control in Algiers and in Tehran. And because of the show’s realism, when characters are beaten or tortured or killed, it’s much more shocking than when it happens in, say, a Jason Bourne movie.

It’s gripping, compelling and packs a real emotional punch. Once The Bureau has its hooks in you, it doesn’t let go.

Neil Armstrong 

BBC iPLAYER, ALL 4 & YOUTUBE 

Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star

Who will follow in Ellis Atlantis’s sparkly footsteps as the second winner of this likeable talent contest? We’re about to find out as the final three wannabe professional make-up artists do their utmost to impress judges and industry legends Val Garland and Dominic Skinner one last time.

Who will be crowned the winner as the final three wannabe professional make-up artists do their utmost to impress judges Val Garland & Dominic Skinner & host Stacey Dooley (above)?

Who will be crowned the winner as the final three wannabe professional make-up artists do their utmost to impress judges Val Garland & Dominic Skinner & host Stacey Dooley (above)?

As ever, the contest is hosted by Stacey Dooley while joining in the fun are Annalise Fard, Harrods’ director of beauty, and Anastasia Soare, creator of Anastasia Beverly Hills, who help Garland and Skinner decide the winner following challenges involving a daunting masterclass at Harrods and a dramatic look based on the theme of evolution. BBC3/ iPlayer, from Tuesday

 

Cardinal

The fourth and final run of the bleak but brilliant Canadian crime drama recently finished on BBC2. It’s also available to stream alongside all its predecessors, so if you haven’t sampled it yet, grab this opportunity while you can. Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse are detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme, who ply their trade in the sparsely populated area in and around the fictional city of Algonquin Bay. 

He’s dogged, determined and deeply troubled, while she’s incisive, skilled and capable of keeping him on the straight and narrow when his demons threaten to pull him off track. Unmissable. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

The Other Mother

If you missed this French psychological thriller when it made its debut on Channel 4 in May, fret not because every episode is still available to stream. It focuses on a dilemma faced by the authorities – should they believe the word of a child and risk wrecking a family, or ignore the youngster to maintain equilibrium? 

This French psychological thriller centres on three-year-old Malone (Tom d’Ornano, above with Samuel Theis), who claims the woman saying she's his mother is an imposter

This French psychological thriller centres on three-year-old Malone (Tom d’Ornano, above with Samuel Theis), who claims the woman saying she’s his mother is an imposter

Their problem begins when three-year-old Malone (Tom d’Ornano) claims the woman who says she’s his mother is an imposter. Child psychologist Vasile (Samuel Theis) is sure he’s telling the truth, but detective Marianne isn’t convinced. She’s too busy dealing with a complex robbery to care – until it becomes clear the two cases could be linked. All 4/Walter Presents, available now

 

Les Blancs

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry died in 1965 at the tender age of just 34, but left behind an impressive legacy of work, including the groundbreaking A Raisin In The Sun. She was also the first African-American woman to have a play performed on Broadway. Hansberry considered Les Blancs to be her finest creation, and in 2016 it was revived by the National Theatre. 

Here’s a chance to see the acclaimed production, which confronts colonialism in Africa during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, as witnessed by one family. Danny Sapani, Tunji Kasim and Siân Phillips are among the cast. National Theatre Live/YouTube, from Thursday

 

Pele, Argentina And The Dictators

Although holders England were gutted to be unceremoniously knocked out of the 1970 World Cup at the quarter-final stage, the tournament itself featured some of the most incredible football ever played, not least by a Pelé-inspired Brazil, who beat Italy to lift the trophy. Eight years later another South American nation, Argentina, won the title for the first time on home soil. 

This programme, part of the Football’s Greatest Moments series, offers highlights from both finals as well as an insight into how military dictators from both countries seized on national fervour for their own ends. BBC iPlayer, from Monday

 

Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners

Following the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the BBC has made this 2015 Bafta-winning documentary from historian David Olusoga available again. He investigates what happened to the wealth generated by the slave trade and the money given in compensation to 46,000 owners following the abolition of slavery in 1833, and unearths links with some of the country’s most well-known institutions. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

AMAZON

Hanna

The titular teenage killing machine (Esme Creed-Miles), rescued as a child from a CIA project to create super-soldiers, is hiding out in a forest with Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince) at the start of the second series. This season Hanna is up against a new bad guy, John Carmichael (Dermot Mulroney), who is now in charge of Utrax, the training programme that turns teenage girls into ruthless assassins. From Friday

 

Carnival Row

This inventive fantasy series started life as a film script with Neil Jordan and Guillermo del Toro among those slated to direct. It’s set in a steampunk-ish alt-universe in which humans live uneasily alongside faeries and other fantastical creatures. 

Detective Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom, above with Cara Delevingne) investigates a series of murders in this inventive fantasy series set in a steampunk-ish alt-universe

Detective Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom, above with Cara Delevingne) investigates a series of murders in this inventive fantasy series set in a steampunk-ish alt-universe

Detective Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) investigates a series of murders, a task complicated by encounters with his ex, a tough refugee faerie, Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne, a revelation in her TV breakthrough role). A second series is due. Available now

 

Tales From The Loop

Unusual, beautiful-looking sci-fi show inspired by the surreal images of artist Simon Stålenhag. ‘The Loop’ is an underground experimental physics laboratory, the work of which seems to have a strange effect on the small town above. Each episode focuses on a different citizen of the town. It stars Rebecca Hall, and directors on the series have included actress Jodie Foster and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E). The atmospheric score is co-written by Philip Glass. Available now

FILMS 

Irresistible

Where Armando Iannucci led with The Thick of It, US comedian Jon Stewart now follows with the story of Democratic strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) arriving in smalltown Wisconsin to get a former Marine elected mayor. Takes a while to get going but it picks up once Rose Byrne arrives as Zimmer’s Republican nemesis, and the last lap is a hoot. Amazon and others, available now

 

Ride Like A Girl

The story of Michelle Payne (Teresa Palmer), the first female jockey to win Australia’s Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history, after overcoming tragedy and prejudice. 

A surprisingly effective film telling the story of Michelle Payne (Teresa Palmer, above), the first female jockey to win Australia’s Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history

A surprisingly effective film telling the story of Michelle Payne (Teresa Palmer, above), the first female jockey to win Australia’s Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history

With Sam Neill as her father, Rachel Griffiths directing and impressive racing sequences, it’s surprisingly effective. Rakuten, Sky, Amazon, Apple+, available now

 

Fanny Lye Deliver’d

In 1657, the farm of a God-fearing civil war veteran, Captain Lye (Charles Dance), and his younger wife, Fanny (Maxine Peake), is invaded by a young couple. As the Lyes’ Puritan beliefs are tested, The Wicker Man comes to mind. Various platforms, available now

Matthew Bond

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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