THE CROWN (NETFLIX)
Events for this fourth, 10-part season begin in 1979, with the Irish Republican Army’s IRA’s objection to British occupation in Ireland entering a new phase and new UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) promising to change things from top to bottom. However, aside from issues of state, there’s another problem weighing on Queen Elizabeth’s (Olivia Colman) mind, the love life of oldest son Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor).
As with the previous Crowns, the costumes and production values can’t be faulted, while point-of-view shots and clever framing draw the viewer into the well-paced drama. Of the newcomers, Anderson is quite brilliant as Britain’s Iron Lady, while Emma Corrin (Pennyworth) certainly looks and sounds the part as a certain part-time kindergarten “helper-outer” turned “people’s princess”.
5 GOLD RINGS (TVNZ OnDemand)
Former Shazam! host Phillip Schofield is back on New Zealand screens with this UK game show which pits two teams of two against one another. They must use the eponymous rings on an interactive LED floor to answer a sequence of pictorial questions.
“The longer they last, the smaller their rings become, making the challenge more difficult. There’s £25,000 for the winning team and, sadly, nothing at all for the losers,” wrote The Guardian’s Hannah Verdier. “Imagine the innuendo that would ensue if [former British Bake Off hosts] Mel and Sue were presenting this new hi-tech gameshow.”
* November’s top TV: Netflix’s The Crown, Neon’s A Teacher, TVNZ’s Roadkill
* The Queen’s Gambit: Why you have to check out Netflix’s mesmerising chess drama
* The Haunting of Bly Manor: Netflix’s Hill House follow-up fails to fire
* Taskmaster NZ: Kiwi comedians, TVNZ prove up to hit UK show’s challenge
James May: Oh Cook begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on November 13.
JAMES MAY: OH COOK (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
As with Julia Child’s The French Chef, much of the joy of this seven-part cookery show is in seeing how much wine the former Top Gear and Grand Tour host can quaff and the tension as to whether a dish will succeed or not.
Each episode covers a specific cuisine theme, from pub classics to Indian, cakes, roasts and, in the opening two episodes, pasta and rice and noodles.
“This will be a journey of fusion and confusion,” May says before whipping up/struggling with a tasty looking Thai chicken soup, breakfast sticky rice, a salmon main and a scary sounding dish he’s coined Spam-en in the debut installment.
THE LIBERATOR (NETFLIX)
This four-part series uses a new animation technique called Trioscope (which combines CGI and live-action performances) to bring to life the story of a US infantry unit that fought for more than 500 days during World War II.
Known as The Thunderbirds, they were part of Operation Avalanche – the Allied invasion of Italy which began on September 9, 1943. The show is based on the book of the same name by Alex Kershaw.
“A striking series with a distinctive visual style… the show’s appeal is evident through the strength of its performances,” wrote The AV Club’s Toussaint Egan.
The Liberator is now streaming on Netflix.
THE OTHER TWO (NEON)
US comedy about a pair of adult siblings, an aspiring actor and a former professional dancer, who are trying to find their place in the world while wrestling with their feelings about their 13-year-old younger brother’s sudden rise to internet fame.
“With its blend of biting showbiz commentary and earned emotional moments, The Other Two is a goofy gem, a modern-day fable about the healing power of other people’s fame,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Kristen Baldwin.
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (NETFLIX)
Emma’s Anya Taylor-Joy stars in this seven-part drama based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name.
It’s the story of orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon, who struggled with addiction from an early age in trying to achieve her quest to become a Grandmaster. The cast also includes Bill Camp and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
“With production values that compare with anything on television this year, a performance at the centre that never falters, and the kind of rich storytelling more common to literature than television, this is one of the most consistently entertaining and impressive shows of 2020,” wrote The Playlist’s Brian Tallerico.
The Other Two is now streaming on Neon.
TRUTH SEEKERS (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Nick Frost, Malcolm McDowell and Simon Pegg star in this eight-part series that revolves around a group of part-time paranormal investigators who team up to uncover and film ghost sightings across the UK, sharing their adventures for all to see.
However, as they stake out haunted churches, underground bunkers and abandoned hospitals with their array of homemade ghost-detecting gizmos, their supernatural experiences grow more frequent, more terrifying and even deadly. “A fun, funny recasting of Mulder and Scully with ramshackle Englishmen,” wrote Empire magazine’s Ian Freer.
THE UNDOING (NEON)
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant play a New York-based couple whose lives are thrown into turmoil when the mother of one of their son’s schoolmates is found murdered.
Abundantly filled with twists and turns, this six-part adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 tale You Should Have Known offers plenty of opportunities for David E. Kelley, the former The Practice and Boston Legal showrunner, to skewer America’s “injustice” and class system, as well as create memorable characters and shocking scenarios that will have desperate for the next episode in this six-parter to drop (yes, you’ll have to wait if you want to bingewatch).