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From Machine Gun Kelly in Project Power to The Trip To Italy: The best on demand TV this week

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NETFLIX 

Project Power

Project Power was the subject of a bidding war between various companies before Netflix won the rights to turn it into a movie. 

Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Machine Gun Kelly (above) are among the cast of Project Power which was he subject of a bidding war before Netflix won the rights

Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Machine Gun Kelly (above) are among the cast of Project Power which was he subject of a bidding war before Netflix won the rights

It’s an original story by Mattson Tomlin set in New Orleans focusing on the unlikely partnership between a former soldier (Jamie Foxx), a cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a teenage dealer (Dominique Fishback) who join forces to track down the group behind a mysterious new drug that unlocks the unique powers – not all of which are super – of whoever takes it. Rapper Machine Gun Kelly also stars as human fireball Newt. From Friday

 

Dirty John

Inspired by a hit podcast, the first run of this acclaimed true-crime anthology series starred Connie Britton as a successful interior designer whose life spiralled out of control after she fell for a conman, played by Eric Bana. 

Amanda Peet (above) and Christian Slater star in the second series of this acclaimed anthology series as Betty and Dan Broderick, whose marriage broke down after Dan had an affair

Amanda Peet (above) and Christian Slater star in the second series of this acclaimed anthology series as Betty and Dan Broderick, whose marriage broke down after Dan had an affair

Amanda Peet and Christian Slater take centre stage in the second season, called Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, as Betty and Dan Broderick, whose marriage broke down after lawyer Dan began an affair with his legal assistant. The drama charts Betty’s subsequent mental collapse, which results in her taking vicious revenge. From Friday

 

The New Legends Of Monkey

Readers of a certain age will probably remember watching Monkey, the cult Japanese adventure series shown in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s. 

Kaedo (Atticus Tron Iti, above) is one of the new characters we meet in this second series of the reboot of cult Japanese adventure series Monkey

Kaedo (Atticus Tron Iti, above) is one of the new characters we meet in this second series of the reboot of cult Japanese adventure series Monkey

In 2018, TV companies from Australia and New Zealand joined forces to create a new version, and now it’s back for a second run. Monkey and his friends Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy set out to find the lost scrolls of wisdom and meet new characters, such as Kaedo. Available now

 

Rob Schneider: Asian Momma, Mexican Kids

He’s probably best known on this side of the Atlantic for Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo as well as supporting roles in many of his old pal Adam Sandler’s movies, but Rob Schneider, a Saturday Night Live alumnus, started out in stand-up. He goes back to his roots in this comedy special, during which he pokes fun at his own family and the issues that arise from its multi-racial make-up. From Tuesday

 

(Un)Well

A welcome six-part documentary series putting the global, multi-billion-pound ‘wellness’ industry under the spotlight. The ‘wellness’ racket is rotten with crackpots, charlatans and crooks and unhinged conspiracy theorists who are more than happy to separate the credulous from their cash. Breast milk, ayahuasca, essential oils, bee venom therapy, tantric sex and extreme fasting are among the supposed panaceas being examined. From Wednesday

 

SKY, BRITBOX, APPLE TV+ & DISNEY+

The Trip To Italy

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play heightened, fictionalised versions of themselves in Michael Winterbottom’s partly improvised six-part series, a sequel to The Trip. (Two further series have followed.) This time, instead of northern England, they’ve been sent by a newspaper to travel through Italy, stopping off at fabulous restaurants and reviewing them. 

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play heightened, fictionalised versions of themselves in Michael Winterbottom’s partly improvised six-part series, a sequel to The Trip

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play heightened, fictionalised versions of themselves in Michael Winterbottom’s partly improvised six-part series, a sequel to The Trip

It’s a tough job, right? Brydon and Coogan eat a lot of amazing-looking food in spectacular settings. They banter, bicker, competitively do impressions of Michael Caine and generally have a high old time. It’s very funny and the scenery is wonderful to look at, but be warned – if you’re not going on holiday this year, this could raise your envy levels dangerously high. BritBox, available now

 

The Greatest Showman

Nobody could have predicted the success this lavish musical has enjoyed. On its cinema release, many critics described it as shallow and pulled it to pieces for playing fast and loose with history. But audiences ignored them and flocked to see it at the cinema, while the soundtrack was a hit across the globe. 

Hugh Jackman is outstanding as P.T. Barnum; the film charts the showbusiness entrepreneur’s rise from poverty to fame as the creator of the American Museum. Also featured are the stories of some of its performers, unique entertainers who might otherwise have been destined for life in a freak show. The songs, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who also worked on La La Land, are wonderful too. Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya are among the supporting cast. Disney+, from Friday

 

The Oprah Conversation

Oprah Winfrey’s relationship with Apple TV+ continues. Following her popular Book Club and Talks Covid-19 programmes, she’s returning to the platform in the genre she knows best – the chat show. Each edition is filmed remotely from her Californian home and features in-depth interviews with movers and shakers in a variety of fields. Guests include athlete Emmanuel Acho and Ibram X. Kendi, an expert on race in America and the author of How To Be An Antiracist. Apple TV+, available now

 

Little Birds

Six-part adult drama inspired by the erotic short stories of Anaïs Nin, friend of John Steinbeck and Henry Miller. American heiress Lucy Savage (played by British actress Juno Temple) travels to Tangier in 1955 to marry a posh but impoverished Brit, Hugo Cavendish-Smyth (Hugh Skinner, who played Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s long-suffering on/off boyfriend in Fleabag). 

American heiress Lucy (Juno Temple, above) travels to Tangier in 1955 to marry a posh but impoverished Brit (Hugh Skinner) in this drama inspired by the erotic short stories of Anaïs Nin

American heiress Lucy (Juno Temple, above) travels to Tangier in 1955 to marry a posh but impoverished Brit (Hugh Skinner) in this drama inspired by the erotic short stories of Anaïs Nin

Unfortunately for her, Hugo is gay – when the pair are pronounced man and wife he awkwardly goes to shake her hand – and so she has to search elsewhere for the love and sexual excitement she craves. Fortunately, they aren’t too hard to come by. By happy chance she’s landed slap-bang in the middle of a hedonistic, bohemian world of decadent rich people who seem to spend a lot of time having adventurous sex with each other. A lavishly, sensuously filmed show. Sky/Now TV, available now

 

The Shadow Line

With more twists than a Curly Wurly and a dream cast – Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Rea, Christopher Eccleston, to name but a few – 2011’s thrill-a-minute, seven-part crime drama won a Bafta for its director, Hugo Blick.

With more twists than a Curly Wurly and a dream cast – including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Rea & Christopher Eccleston (above) – this crime drama won a Bafta for its director, Hugo Blick

With more twists than a Curly Wurly and a dream cast – including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Stephen Rea & Christopher Eccleston (above) – this crime drama won a Bafta for its director, Hugo Blick

A crime boss has been murdered, and both the cops (an amnesiac Ejiofor) and the baddies are on the hunt for the killer. Along the way, the chase brings in Turkish drug gangs, rent boys, bent coppers, secret love-children and a particularly deadly honey trap. Ejiofor is typically enigmatic as the policeman with a bullet lodged in his head and a mysterious suitcase full of cash in his house. BritBox, available now

 

Ted Lasso

Disgruntled football fans will tell you that it often seems as if the manager of their favourite team has no idea what he’s doing. In this new ten-part sitcom, that is literally the case. Jason Sudeikis plays the title character, a small-town college American football coach who is plucked from obscurity to take charge of a professional English soccer team, despite having no prior knowledge or experience of the sport. 

Sudeikis previously played the character in ads for NBC’s Premier League coverage and is the co-creator of the series alongside Bill Lawrence, the producer who brought us Scrubs, Cougar Town and Spin City. Apple TV+ from Friday

 

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

Good Girls (Netflix) 

Harassed mother-of-four Beth (Christina Hendricks) is ‘like a Stepford mom without a pulse’, according to her younger sister Annie (Mae Whitman), a single mum who needs a lawyer because her ex wants custody of their daughter.

When Beth discovers her idiot car-salesman husband is having an affair and has run up huge debts, she has finally had enough of just letting things happen to her and decides to rob a supermarket. Along with Annie, she ropes in her best friend, Ruby (Retta), whose daughter is ill and needs expensive medicine. If the three do just one armed robbery, Beth argues, she gets to save her family, Annie can win her custody battle and Ruby can buy the drugs she needs for her kid, ‘…and we’re done. We never do it again.’

Good Girls is definitely preposterous, but it’s also witty, and the chemistry between the three leads (Retta, Christina Hendricks and Mae Whitman, above) makes this a hit show

Good Girls is definitely preposterous, but it’s also witty, and the chemistry between the three leads (Retta, Christina Hendricks and Mae Whitman, above) makes this a hit show

Of course, keen students of TV will know that it’s never over after just one heist. The novice armed robbers’ haul is much bigger than they expected – half a million dollars – because the store was laundering money for some very bad guys. And the bad guys want their money back. So the trio can’t yet hang up their masks, and before long they are good girls gone bad and deep into a life of crime.

Preposterous? Definitely, but it’s also witty, and the superb chemistry between the three leads makes this a hit show – a comedic Ozark meets Breaking Bad. You can binge watch series 1-3 now and a fourth run has just been commissioned.

Neil Armstrong 

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BBC iPLAYER, ALL 4 

The Rise Of The Murdoch Dynasty

The news this week that Rupert Murdoch’s son James has resigned from News Corp, the media empire his father built over five decades, is a timely coda to this captivating three-part chronicle of the 89-year-old Dirty Digger’s rise to power. 

This captivating three-part documentary chronicles the rise to power of media mogul Rupert Murdoch (above, with second wife Anna Torv and baby Elisabeth in 1969)

This captivating three-part documentary chronicles the rise to power of media mogul Rupert Murdoch (above, with second wife Anna Torv and baby Elisabeth in 1969)

It’s a portrait of a man driven by ambition. Interviewees such as Alastair Campbell and Piers Morgan help complete the picture of the seldom-profiled mogul, particularly fascinating in the second episode when it comes to the 2011 phone-hacking scandal. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

The Lawyer

The first episode of the second series is being shown tonight on Channel 4, and if it gives you a taste for more, you’re in luck – the rest of the run is already available to stream. The fast-paced Nordic thriller’s first season introduced viewers to defence lawyer Frank Nordling (Alexander Karim), who was searching for answers about his parents’ deaths. 

The fast-paced Nordic thriller introduced viewers to defence lawyer Frank Nordling (Alexander Karim, above with Malin Buska), who was searching for answers about his parents’ deaths

The fast-paced Nordic thriller introduced viewers to defence lawyer Frank Nordling (Alexander Karim, above with Malin Buska), who was searching for answers about his parents’ deaths

This time around Frank and his adoptive sister Sara (Malin Buska) hope they can move on with their lives, but Frank is haunted by his guilty conscience over his past misdeeds. When new evidence arises that may implicate him, he must form a partnership with an old enemy, and soon he and Sara are once again caught up in dirty dealings within the legal system. All 4/Walter Presents, available now

 

What We Were Watching: Summer TV Classics

Grace Dent takes a sun-kissed journey through televisual highlights from summers gone by. Most of the clips come from the 1970s and 1980s, and there are some real gems in store – the best involves Tony Blackburn gingerly entering a cage of lions where he performs Tie A Yellow Ribbon during an edition of Seaside Special. Why that was deemed a good idea is anybody’s guess, but at least he lived to tell the tale. Watch out for memorable moments from Hi-de-Hi! and Only Fools And Horses, as well as more serious reports involving the Notting Hill Carnival. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

The Real McCoy

A timely opportunity to watch all five series of the sketch show featuring a predominantly black and Asian cast. Despite being hugely popular during its run in the 1990s, it’s never been released on DVD, so for many, this may be their first chance to see it.

The show helped launch the careers of Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Kulvinder Ghir, who went on to work together on Goodness Gracious Me. Others to look out for include Felix Dexter, Perry Benson and Junior Simpson. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Bitter Lake/HyperNormalisation

Two epic documentaries from cult film-maker Adam Curtis. The first, 2015’s Bitter Lake, focuses on how naive, arrogant interventions in the Middle East by America, starting in the 1950s, fuelled decades of instability and the violence that continues to this day. 

The second, HyperNormalisation from 2016, posits that our ‘leaders’ are in fact so far out of control that the best they can do is present a ‘story’ of what’s going on in the world. Both films are visually stunning, featuring archive clips set to an eclectic soundtrack and Curtis’s authoritative, apocalyptic narration. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

AMAZON PRIME

World’s Toughest Race: Eco Challenge Fiji

Yes, Bear Grylls is back on the box, but for once he’s not putting his own survival skills to the test. Instead, across ten episodes of thrills, spills and adventure, he offers observations on those taking part in a gruelling race. 

Sixty-six teams from 30 countries are at the starting line and have 11 days to traverse 417 miles of rugged Fijian terrain – trekking, outrigger-paddling, mountain-biking, rappelling, climbing, whitewater-rafting, pack-rafting and paddle-boarding. Not all of them will complete the course: only those who manage to work together as a team reach the finish. From Friday

 

Hotel Coolgardie

Two Finnish girls working in a pub in a Australian mining town might not sound like a great subject for a documentary, but the resulting film is engrossing. Lina and Steph arrived in Coolgardie to replenish their funds by working at a local pub. However, their dream trip soon turns into a nightmare thanks to the local men who think the women have arrived to serve up more than just drinks… Available now

 

You’ve Got Mail

Remember the days when email was such a novelty that they made a film about it? Tom Hanks stars with Meg Ryan in a movie that was a hit in 1998, though not as popular as their other pairing, Sleepless In Seattle. 

The plot tiptoes through the no-man’s-land between the online world and reality: singletons Tom and Meg are involved in a budding e-mail romance, but offline he’s the boss of a mega bookstore company threatening her little shop. Fifteen years before the launch of Tinder, the film’s technology might seem old-fashioned, but dating is timeless. From Friday

 

The Last Samurai

Tom Cruise leads the cast as former US army captain Nathan Algren, a disillusioned civil war veteran who’s sent to Japan to help train the Imperial Japanese army in order to crush a Samurai-headed rebellion. 

Tom Cruise leads the cast as Nathan Algren, a disillusioned civil war veteran who’s sent to Japan to help train the Imperial Japanese army in order to crush a Samurai-headed rebellion

Tom Cruise leads the cast as Nathan Algren, a disillusioned civil war veteran who’s sent to Japan to help train the Imperial Japanese army in order to crush a Samurai-headed rebellion

But his entrenched beliefs look set to be challenged when he’s taken captive by the Samurai and his eyes are opened to the warriors’ ancient way of life. From Saturday

 

Films 

Endings, Beginnings

Daphne, played by the always watchable Shailene Woodley, is having an early midlife crisis. She’s broken up with her long-term boyfriend, quit her LA arts-scene job and moved into her sister’s pool house. 

But life for this attractive thirtysomething with the covetable wardrobe is about to get a whole lot more complicated as she tentatively begins relationships with two very different men who, unbeknown to her… no, despite the Californian therapy-speak, you’ll enjoy finding out. Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan co-star. Most platforms, available now 

 

Perfect 10

Her teens are not proving easy for Leigh (Frankie Box). She’s being brought up by a feckless father, the older girls at her gymnastic club bully her and, to top it all, she’s just discovered a half-brother she never knew she had. 

Gymnast-turned-actress Frankie Box (above) is brilliant as Leigh in a naturalistic, heartwarming drama that has impressive echoes of Andrea Arnold and Ken Loach

Gymnast-turned-actress Frankie Box (above) is brilliant as Leigh in a naturalistic, heartwarming drama that has impressive echoes of Andrea Arnold and Ken Loach 

The delicious twist to Eva Riley’s feature film debut is that although Joe (Alfie Deegan) runs with a rough crowd he’s actually got a heart of gold. Gymnast-turned-actress Box is brilliant as Leigh in a naturalistic, heartwarming drama that has impressive echoes of Andrea Arnold and Ken Loach. Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player,  available now

Matthew Bond

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