Another month in lockdown, another re-worked column from your boys. With film premieres continuing to be pushed back for the foreseeable future and many countries looking to extend lockdown measures, it seems we may have some time on our hands. Therefore, Flip Screen’s James Palmer and George Forster are here to make a few TV suggestions to keep you going for the long haul.
This is Flip Screen’s guide to May 2020, Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Ryan Murphy, Netflix
Given a straight-to-series order after Netflix’s mega deal with Ryan Murphy, Hollywood is hoping to follow Murphy’s previous successes (American Crime Story and American Horror Story). Murphy co-created the show with long-time collaborator Ian Brennan (Glee and Scream Queens) who have both worked on The Politician for Netflix previously. With most of the plot still unknown before its release, Hollywood follows a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers trying to make it in Tinseltown post World War II. A large ensemble cast featuring Samara Weaving, Darren Criss and Laura Harrier – the aesthetic is already there, it’s now just a waiting game to see if the story is too.
The Thick of It (Four Seasons)
Armando Iannucci, Netflix/BritBox
Readers of our last column will know that I love a bit of political satire, and as far as I’m concerned you cannot beat the master himself, Armando Iannucci. Following from his work of the mid 90s, Iannucci created, in my opinion, his magnum opus – The Thick of It. Following the fictional Department of Social Affairs, we are treated to blundering ministers, weaselly spin-doctors and Peter Capaldi as number 10’s terrifying enforcer. The show is bitingly funny – the scandals and absurdity cut right to the heart of British politics. It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it wasn’t so true.
The Last Dance (Miniseries)
Jason Hehir, Netflix/ESPN
A trending topic each Sunday night, The Last Dance has provided a fascinating insight into one of the greatest sporting dynasties of all time. Its structure of releasing two episodes weekly will carry on throughout May. The episodes themselves take a conflicting look between the rise of the Chicago Bulls as well as their downfall with their eponymous “last ride” for the 97-98 season. The documentary does not just focus on the transcendent star of the Bulls franchise, Michael Jordan, but provides insight into each of the catalysts that helped achieve one of the finest accomplishments in sports history. Packed with plenty of unaired footage from Jordan’s final season with the Bulls, The Last Dance seems to be the start of a sport-documentary renaissance.
What We Do in the Shadows (Two Seasons)
Taika Waititi & Jermaine Clement, BBC iPlayer
I think many fans of Taika Waititi’s hilarious What We Do in the Shadows were slightly apprehensive about a proposed spin-off series without Waititi or Jermaine Clement resuming their starring roles of the quirky Wellington backdrop. I certainly was, and I was delighted to find the series just as charmingly funny as the 2014 mockumentary. Starring Matt Berry (The IT Crowd), Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker) and Natasia Demetriou (Stath Lets Flats), the series builds on the secretive world of modern Vampires in imaginative, side-splittingly funny ways. What We Do in the Shadows is a great binge watch to take your mind off of everything going on – that’s true of the series as well as the original film, and if you’re in Australia (or have a VPN) I would highly recommend checking out another spin off series, Wellington Paranormal.
Better Call Saul (Five Seasons)
Vince Gilligan, Netflix/AMC
With Season 5’s finale airing a few weeks ago and an unknown date for when it will return, now is a better time than any to catch up on Better Call Saul if you haven’t already. Originally, many people saw this as just a prequel to the more successful Breaking Bad but over the last few seasons, Better Call Saul has found its style and stuck with it – creating a character arc for Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) that is just as compelling and detailed as Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston), albeit in a much different route.
Repertoire (Four Episodes)
James Acaster, Netflix
I don’t usually go in for stand-up routines if I’m honest. I tend to prefer my comedy interwoven into a plot so it hits you as somewhat of a surprise rather than a prescribed dosage of laughs. For whatever reason, I do not have that issue with James Acaster. I first watched his 4-part Netflix special, Repertoire, when I was stuck in my flat with a nasty flu last year, and whether because of his jokes or the fever, I couldn’t stop laughing. I think my fondness stems from the fact he looks, sounds and acts rather alike my younger brother so I may be biased, but hey, if it brightened up my week and a half in bed then maybe it’ll help some of you now we’re all shut inside.
Nirvanna the Band the Show (Two Seasons)
Matthew Johnson & Jay McCarrol, Viceland/All4
If you haven’t watched this show yet you’re missing out on something truly special. Following two best friends who live in an apartment straight out of the nineties, Nirvanna the Band the Show’s plot is simple – for these two characters to get a show for their band at the Rivoli, a restaurant/concert venue/pool hall. Every episode involves a different scheme, each paying homage to a variety of beloved movies or TV shows. With a mockumentary style, this show is a masterclass in how to avoid copyright issues with a small budget idea.
Devs (Eight Episodes)
Alex Garland, BBC iPlayer/Hulu
Devs is something I’ve been excited about ever since I heard Alex Garland’s name mentioned in the same sentence. I’m a huge fan of Garland’s other work; Annihilation and Ex Machina are two of my favourite Sci-Fi movies of all time, each striking a perfect balance between challenging the audience and providing (especially in the case of Annihilation) thrilling bouts of action. I can only hope Devs is more of the same – judging from the promotional imagery of Nick Offerman’s character, Forest, stood with a not-so-subtle halo over his head, I expect Garland will, once again, lean heavily into symbolism. Do they lean too far? I can’t wait to find out.