Anne, Reacher, Severance: The best TV shows of the year so far (and where you can watch them right now)
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It’s not really a golden year for television.
While there are likely to be more choices and new shows arriving every week than ever before, their quality has come under greater scrutiny as subscriber numbers have faltered for traditional leaders like Netflix.
Dramatic adaptations of scams and decidedly dodgy business practices dominated – The Dropout, Super Pumped, Pam & Tommy, Winning Time, Inventing Anna – while the highly anticipated return of shows like Barry, Bridgerton, Atlanta, Stranger Things and The Flight Attendant yielded mixed results.
However, after looking back over the last six months, Things to watch has compiled a list of 10 shows that we think are worth seeking out.
A dramatization of Black Summer in Australia, the television debut of a beloved book character and the latest post-apocalyptic tale are just a few of the brilliant series that debuted on our screens in the first half of 2022. .
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Anne (Gland TV)
Told in four parts, it focuses on Anne Williams (a gorgeous Maxine Peake), whose 15-year-old son was among thousands of Liverpudlians who made the 63-mile journey in April 1989 to Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield to attend to a fateful AF. Cup semi-final between their Reds and Nottingham Forest.
A clever mix of archival news footage and searing intimate drama, Anne is a compelling watch, but certainly not an easy one. This is a series designed to evoke emotions – and it delivers in spades. It’s anger, grief and despair captured in the raw – with powerful and provocative effect.
Inspired by the stories of those who witnessed and endured unimaginable horror and loss in the weeks and months when vast swaths of the Lucky Country seemed permanently aflame during Australia’s dark summer of 2019-20, each episode of this six-part anthology focuses on different characters. placed in harrowing and impossible situations.
Russell Dykstra, Sam Worthington, Noni Hazlehurst, Steve Bastoni and Sullivan Stapleton are just some of the Australian luminaries on display, though it’s the second installment that boasts the real heavyweights (Miranda Otto, Richard Roxburgh) delivering the climax. from the Serie.
The Golden Age (neon)
This 1880s New York drama features all the tropes you associate with acclaimed Downton Abbey screenwriter Julian Fellowes: power struggles, frowned upon romances, a range of characters that span the different classes within the same household and an acerbic, scene-stealing matriarch. .
Here, it’s Agnes van Rhijn (a magnificent Christine Baranski), a woman whose “family has been in charge since the arrival of the Mayflower”.
As one would hope, the production design is outstanding, the costumes exquisite (Carrie Coon’s Bertha’s seemingly endless new selection of jaw-dropping gowns and jaw-dropping gowns are easily the best in the show) and the top notch cast.
Rag Doll (TVNZ+)
fans of Luther should definitely check out this British crime series. It’s a six-parter that shares the same macabre streak, gallows humor and actor Michael Smiley as Neil Cross’ Idris Elba featuring the beloved dark drama.
Based on Daniel Cole’s 2017 novel of the same name, Ragdoll centers on British Detective Sergeant Nathan Rose (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). Two years after being suspended from the force for very publicly attempting to kill the infamous ‘Cremation Killer’ in court after a trial went wrong on technicalities, Rose, still psychologically fragile, finds herself having to confront his past when he, his good friend Detective Inspector Emily Baxter (Thalissa Teixeria) and American newcomer Detective Constable Lake Edmunds (Lucy Hale) are called to a tower block adjacent to where Rose now lives.
Reach (Amazon Prime Video)
Fans of Lee Child’s most famous creation rejoice.
Freed from (Tom) Cruise control, Jack Reacher finally has a physical form that matches the literary descriptions of born author James Dover Grant. In fact, Alan Ritchson (Smallville) looks almost taller than the 196cm former military man portrayed in 25 novels over the past quarter century.
Equally important to this eight-part series is a mysterious and charismatic winning mix of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. The show’s real secret sauce is its character interactions and light touch. Ritchson possesses a devilish sense of humor and has terrific chemistry with Willa Fitzgerald’s Officer Roscoe, a smart, no-nonsense match for him who could also be the show’s unsung MVP.
Indemnity (Apple TV+)
Director Ben Stiller does a terrific job of bringing the futuristic yet retro atmosphere of Lumon Industries to life and drawing the viewer into the mystery of what they really do, in this evocative and intriguing nine-part sci-fi drama. .
It also makes the most of a fabulous ensemble, even if it’s very much the Adam Scott show, beautifully delineating the two disparate and very separate parts of his character’s life.
To say more would be to spoil some of the series’ delights, but whether you see it as an allegory of modern life or just high-level escapism, it offers plenty to think about and enjoy.
Slow Horses (Apple TV+)
Gary Oldman’s first multi-episode TV role in nearly four decades has been worth the wait. Based on the 2010 book of the same name by Mick Herron, it focuses on the inhabitants of a British security service office in Aldersgate, London, a place “so far from the heart of MI5 that it might as well be at Slough”.
While there are potentially scene-stealing supporting turns from Kristin Scott-Thomas and Jonathan Pryce, the epicenter of the dark, sometimes dark comedy is the tour de force that is Oldman’s Jackson Lamb. A creation to rival the Oscar-winning Darkest Hour’s Churchill, Sirius Black or The Professional’s classical music-lover Stansfield, it’s a role Oldman seems to throw himself into with all his heart.
Station eleven (neon)
Like last year’s brilliant Kiwi-shot Sweet Tooth, this 10-part sci-fi saga is based on an already popular literary source (here, it’s Emily St. John Mandel’s award-winning 2014 novel by same name) and its fractured narrative oscillates between the buildup and causes of the outbreak and the struggles that the remnants of humanity face afterwards. The cast includes Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel and Lori Petty.
With as much emphasis on characters and emotional drama as it does on sci-fi elements, Station Eleven is a show that’s easy to get hooked on.
It’s Gonna Hurt (TVNZ+)
The BBC’s latest hospital series couldn’t be further from the brilliant visions of Grey’s Anatomy.
If you’re looking for a slick soap disguised as medical drama, then you’ve come to the wrong place. It is a dark, comical, raw and disturbing look at the lives of young doctors working in an obstetrics and gynecology ward at a National Health Service hospital in London.
The masterstrokes here saw accomplished comedy script editor Adam Kay adapt his own critically acclaimed 2015 memoir (based on his own experiences as a young doctor), as well as cast the brilliant Ben Whishaw to play it. The 41-year-old now has a unique ability to combine beautiful comedic timing with extremely relatable vulnerability, skills that are put to full use here.
Under the Banner of Paradise (Disney+)
Based on Jon Krakauer’s 2003 investigation into the 1984 murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty, this sees in-form Andrew Garfield play East Rockwell, Utah detective Jeb Pyre.
Like 99 percent of the town, he is a God-fearing Latter-day Saint (LDS) member, using the teachings of Joseph Smith to guide his actions and lifestyle. But he is deeply shaken by the “house of horrors” he encounters one evening, a 24-year-old young woman and her 15-month-old daughter brutally murdered, their blood spattering over a wide area.
Get rid of religious trappings and investigate the story of a particular faith and, at its heart, it’s just a tremendous dramatization of crime. Gripping and dripping with dramatic tension, it feels like a lost True Detective series.