From Spitting Image to The Hobbit and a Challenger documentary: The best on demand TV this week | #tinder | #pof

SKY/NOW TV, BRITBOX, & APPLE TV+

Spitting Image

Since it was announced the beloved puppet show was returning to our screens after 14 years, we’ve been drip-fed photographs of the new characters who’ll be appearing. Among the most eye-catching are Dominic Cummings in his trademark hoodie complete with flamboyant silver collar, as well as world leaders Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. 

Since it was announced the beloved puppet show was returning, we’ve been drip-fed photographs of the new characters, such as Prince Harry and Meghan, who’ll be appearing

Viewers can also expect Princes Andrew and Harry, as well as Adele, Kim Kardashian, Jürgen Klopp and Greta Thunberg to be in the satirical firing line. BritBox, from Saturday

 

Tiny World

Who better to narrate a nature documentary about the world’s smallest creatures than Ant-Man star Paul Rudd? This features stunning how-did-they-film-that footage of more than 200 species of tiny mammals, birds, amphibians and insects shot over almost a decade using groundbreaking technology and crafted into compelling narratives. 

Tiny World features stunning footage of more than 200 species of tiny mammals, birds, amphibians (strawberry poison-dart frog, above) and insects shot over almost a decade

‘This is a world where tiny heroes and little monsters need incredible superpowers to help them triumph against giant odds,’ Rudd tells us. The 12-episode series – six now, six next year, each focusing on a different type of terrain – was written and produced by Tom Hugh-Jones, best known for his work on Planet Earth II. Apple TV+, from Friday

 

Locked Up

The fourth and final series of Walter Presents’s provocative Spanish crime thriller set in a high-security women’s prison is showing exclusively on Sky’s On Demand service for a month before appearing on All4. It deals with the aftermath of Zulema (Najwa Nimri), Saray (Alba Flores) and Altagracia’s (Adriana Paz) escape from Cruz Del Norte. Dr Sandoval (Ramiro Blas) is now the new director and his violent policies make the prison more dangerous than ever. Also during this series, Sole (María Isabel Díaz Lago) receives a life-changing diagnosis and Macarena (Maggie Civantos) wakes from her coma. Sky On Demand, from Wednesday

 

Shallow Grave

BritBox has added a collection of 25 Film4 movies to its service, highlighting the best of British cinema. Among them are Danny Boyle’s brilliant feature film debut from 1994, Shallow Grave, in which three friends (Kerry Fox, Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston) find their new flatmate dead and with a suitcase full of money under his bed. The trio hatch a plan to dispose of the body and keep the cash, and some very dark hilarity ensues. The collection also includes Boyle’s seminal Trainspotting, teen comedy The Inbetweeners Movie and two classic British gangster films: The Long Good Friday and Sexy Beast. BritBox, available now

 

Summer Of Rockets

Stephen Poliakoff’s remarkable Cold War drama centres on a Russian-born Jewish inventor of hearing aids, who is forced to spy for MI5. The excellent cast includes Keeley Hawes, Toby Stephens and Timothy Spall. BritBox, available now

 

NETFLIX

Challenger: The Final Flight

No one who watched the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger live on television on January 28, 1986, will ever forget it. The craft exploded only 73 seconds after lift-off. At first there was disbelief. Then there was shock. Then horror. There had been seven souls on board. This powerful, moving four-part documentary looks at what went wrong but also at why this mission – heavily promoted by Nasa – had meant so much to people all over the world. 

This powerful, moving four-part documentary looks at what went wrong with the Space Shuttle Challenger mission which exploded after 73 seconds killing all seven (above) on board

It avoids using the footage of the explosion until the end of the third episode, by which time we have got to know the inspirational crew members, including high-school teacher Christa McAuliffe, Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian American in space, and Ronald McNair, the second African American in space. Seeing the Shuttle disappear in a vast fireball and the lives of those brave astronauts being snuffed out in an instant feels like a punch to the guts. Available now

 

The Fall

Riveting Belfast-set crime drama originally made for the BBC but now shocking a new audience after being picked up by Netflix, where it has regularly featured in its top ten shows. 

Riveting crime drama The Fall is now on Netflix. It stars Jamie Dornan as the loving family man who also happens to be a serial killer and Gillian Anderson (above) as the inspector on his trail 

Grief counsellor Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is a loving family man who dotes on his children but also happens to be a serial killer who preys on young women. DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) of the Met is on his trail. Scenes of sexual violence caused some controversy when first broadcast. Available now

 

Good Morning, Veronica

This Brazilian crime drama, inspired by Raphael Montes’s novel, stars former MTV VJ Tainá Müller as Veronica Torres, an underused clerk at a Sao Paulo police station who gets caught up in a particularly disturbing murder-and-conspiracy case. While hunting a dating-site predator, she receives a frightful call from a woman crying out for help. As she sets about using her investigative skills to expose the truth, her search begins to endanger her own loved ones. Eduardo Moscovis and Camila Morgado also star. From Thursday

 

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Award-winning film-maker Kirsten Johnson’s documentary is basically a love letter from a daughter to a father and is one of the most wildly imaginative shows you’re likely to see for a long time. 

Touching and funny in equal measure, it focuses on Johnson’s 86-year-old father Richard, who suffers from dementia but is fully aware of his participation in his daughter’s project, which portrays different scenarios – some of them violent ‘accidents’ – for his eventual demise. Some of the Jackass-inspired stunts include Richard falling down the stairs, getting into a car accident and even arriving in heaven. From Friday

 

American Murder: The Family Next Door

When pregnant Shanann and her two young daughters, Bella, four, and Celeste, three, went missing from their Colorado home in August 2018, her apparently loving husband – the children’s father – Chris (‘the best thing that has ever happened to me’, Shanann declared in a home video) went on television to appeal for information. 

When pregnant Shanann and her daughters Bella and Celeste went missing in 2018, her husband Chris went on TV to appeal for information. He eventually confessed to their murder

He was arrested the following day and eventually confessed to their murder. Their bodies were recovered from his place of work and he is currently serving five life sentences in a maximum-security jail. This documentary uses home videos, social-media posts, text messages and police footage to tell the story of the investigation and subsequent events. From Wednesday

 

The Social Dilemma

Thanks to social media, we’re more connected to each other but, this documentary contends, less connected to reality. Do we control social media – or does it control us? Social media is responsible for the spread of conspiracy theories, political polarisation and mental health problems. Contributors include Silicon Valley insiders worried about the impact of companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, all of which have brilliant people dedicated to analysing your activities. Available now

 

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

It may have lost out to Schitt’s Creek in all three Emmy categories for which it was nominated last Sunday but The Kominsky Method’s growing legion of fans know that there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

Hollywood legends Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin may be closer to the end of their careers than the beginning – Douglas was 76 on Friday, Arkin is 86 – but in this funny, poignant buddy comedy their performances are delightfully fresh. 

Michael Douglas (above with Nancy Travis) and Alan Arkin may be closer to the end of their careers than the beginning but their performances are delightfully fresh here

Douglas, in his first TV series since The Streets Of San Francisco made him a star almost half a century ago, plays Sandy Kominsky, a once successful actor who now has a thriving business as an acting coach. His mostly young students hang on his every word. Arkin is Norman Newlander, Sandy’s agent and longtime friend and, when the show starts, newly bereaved and grieving.

When the pair get together, they bicker, they crack wise, they comfort each other over the trials and tribulations of old age – memory loss, prostate problems, vanished libido. Their scenes can turn on a sixpence from hilarity to genuine pathos and back. ‘I watched our first scene together and believed these guys have known each other for 40 years,’ Douglas has remarked. Viewers do too, yet the pair had never met before.

Created by Chuck Lorre, who has a raft of sitcoms to his name including The Big Bang Theory, the show has won two Golden Globes and will surely be in the running for Emmys for the third and final series. Supporting cast include Nancy Travis as Sandy’s girlfriend and Sarah Baker as his daughter.

Neil Armstrong  

 

AMAZON & ACORN TV

The Hobbit Trilogy

They may not be as beloved as his Lord Of The Rings films, but Peter Jackson’s second Middle Earth saga – which comprises An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation Of Smaug and The Battle Of The Five Armies – is still a hugely impressive feat of film-making. 

Martin Freeman plays J. R. R. Tolkien’s hero Bilbo Baggins, who is swept along on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, in Peter Jackson’s second Middle Earth saga

Martin Freeman plays J. R. R. Tolkien’s hero Bilbo Baggins, who is swept along on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached by wizard Gandalf The Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining 13 dwarfs led by warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Evangeline Lilly also stars. Amazon Prime, available now

 

Take Us Home: Leeds United

The second run of the fly-on-the-wall documentary series is set during the 2019/20 season with Leeds still looking to make it back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence. After the agony of missing out on promotion in the play-offs, a new campaign has brought fresh hope for head coach Marcelo Bielsa. But first he must revamp the squad and make big decisions on key players. 

Leeds face old rivals Man United during pre-season in Australia and then look to set the pace in the Championship. But will their hopes and dreams be scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic? Leeds fan Russell Crowe returns as narrator. Amazon Prime, available now

 

Queen & Slim

While on a forgettable Tinder date in Ohio, Slim (Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya) and a criminal defence attorney (Jodie Turner-Smith, in her first starring feature-film role) are pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic infraction. 

While on a date, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith, above with Kaluuya) are pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic infraction. Then the situation escalates

The situation escalates, with sudden and tragic results, as Slim kills the cop in self-defence. Now on the run, the fugitive pair encounter a dodgy sheriff in Kentucky, hole up with her pimp uncle in New Orleans, and drive to Miami in the hope of absconding to Cuba. Amazon Prime, from Monday

 

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie

Adapted from Muriel Spark’s classic novel, this seven-part 1978 series was considered by the writer as the greatest portrayal of her character. Geraldine McEwan (Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in the ITV adaptations from the Noughties) plays the charismatic newcomer who takes a group of girls under her wing at Marcia Blaine, an exclusive school for girls in 1930s Edinburgh. In addition to the curriculum, the bohemian Miss Brodie presents life as one long romantic adventure, introducing the girls to her favourite art and music. Lynsey Baxter and Amanda Kirby also star. Acorn TV, streaming exclusive box set, from Monday

 

BBC iPLAYER, ALL4 & DISNEY+ 

Jimi: All Is By My Side

André Benjamin (aka Outkast frontman André 3000) plays legendary musician Jimi Hendrix in this 2014 biopic directed by the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley. 

André Benjamin (above, with Hayley Atwell) plays legendary musician Jimi Hendrix in this 2014 biopic directed by the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley

The film chronicles the year before Hendrix became a superstar in London 1966-67 – and shines a light on the women who nurtured and loved him (played by Imogen Poots and Hayley Atwell). BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Malcolm In The Middle

All4 is releasing all 151 episodes of the acclaimed American sitcom which was originally shown between 2000 and 2006. Frankie Muniz stars as Malcolm Wilkerson, an intelligent boy who lives with his dysfunctional family while dealing with the everyday difficulties of being a teenager and a middle child. 

All4 is releasing all 151 episodes of the acclaimed American sitcom starring Frankie Muniz as Malcolm Wilkerson, an intelligent boy who lives with his dysfunctional family

Bryan Cranston plays Malcolm’s hilariously pathetic dad Hal, while Jane Kaczmarek is equally brilliant as his short-tempered mum Lois. Keep an eye out for guest stars including Susan Sarandon, David Cassidy, Christopher Lloyd, Emma Stone, George Takei and Hayden Panettiere. All4, from Friday

 

The Blood Pact

The crime drama from the Netherlands about two families who are drawn together by the friendship of their daughters, despite having different views of the law, begins its second season. Mobster Marius (the brilliant Jacob Derwig) and taxman Hugo (The Split’s Barry Atsma) find themselves in an even messier situation than before and agree to go their separate ways. Marius starts a new business and Kitty (Georgina Verbaan) opens her dream restaurant. However, the past soon catches up with them. Walter Presents/All4, from Friday

 

Onward

Onward is set in the world of elves, centaurs and unicorns but it’s no fantasy film. Instead it’s a warm, funny and occasionally tear-jerking look at the loss of a parent and the lengths two brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) would go to to spend one more day with them. Disney+, from Friday

FILMS 

The Way Back

Ben Affleck’s problems with alcohol are well chronicled and add power to this otherwise familiar-feeling tale of a former high-school basketball star – now a drunk construction worker – getting a last chance at redemption when he’s offered the job of coaching the school team he used to play for. Affleck is properly good. Most platforms, from Monday

Ben Affleck’s (above with Melvin Gregg) problems with alcohol are well chronicled and add power to this otherwise familiar-feeling tale of redemption

 

Tesla

Highly stylised and, at times, downright odd biopic of the maverick inventor Nikola Tesla. Ethan Hawke’s mannered performance in the central role may try your patience. Amazon, Rakuten & Sky Store, available now

 

The Bay Of Silence

Dark psychological thriller tells the often-distressing story of a newly married couple building a new life together in London. Most platforms, from Monday

Matthew Bond 


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