Inside the Lightbox is a new sponsored feature where we mine the extensive Lightbox catalogue for cool shows you might like to watch. This week, Alex Casey gives you a full rundown of all the blood-soaked, history-rich and superhero-stuffed shows arriving throughout April. //
Wolf Hall (April 1)
Based on the already classic Hilary Mantel novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, this BBC series is a rich historical drama set within a very tense Tudor England. The story follows the ascension of Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance), the lowly son of a blacksmith who skilfully connives his way through the expansive Tudor ranks to become the chief minister of King Henry VIII (played by Homeland‘s Damian Lewis).
The performances in Wolf Hall have been universally applauded by UK critics. Homeland’s Lewis ditches the khaki to play the most mercurial version of Henry VII possible. “Damian Lewis is so good as the capricious monarch that at times you want to slap some sense into him and remind him to stop being such a prima donna,” writes The Independent. In the role of enigmatic Cromwell is Mark Rylance, who performs the complex character with astounding restraint. In a world where ‘man is wolf to man’, Wolf Hall delivers a riveting historical drama for a modern audience.
Downton Abbey Season 5 (April 1)
A show that needs almost no introduction, the fifth season of Downton Abbey arrives on Lightbox April 1. Bringing back all your old favourites such as Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery, the 1924 period drama continues to deliver more upstairs-downstairs drama than a possessed slinky.
Intricately weaving together the stories of characters throughout the English country estate, Downton Abbey delivers yet another season of new revelations, new lovers and brand new characters.
American Horror Story S3: Coven (April 1)
The third season in the skin-crawling anthology series American Horror Story arrives to Lightbox on April 1st. Set in the present, with characteristically AHS flashbacks to 1830s, 1910s, and 1970s, AHS: Coven casts a creepy spell on you as it follows modern day witches in New Orleans, Louisiana. All residing under one roof at Miss Robichaux’s Academy, there’s a more concentrated dosage of witches here than anything Roald Dahl ever could dream up. From Fiona (played by the inimitable Jessica Lange) the Supreme Witch to Zoe Benson, a rookie witch who can make men have a brain haemorrhages during sexual intercourse, it’s a notch up from the Sabrina for sure.
“You girls need to fight,” the Supreme Witch warns, “because when witches don’t fight – they burn.” It’s a bubbling cauldron of terror, wicked humour and enchanting performances, and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Outlander Season One, Part Two (April 5)
The premiere of part two of Outlander’s first season arrives to exclusively Lightbox on express delivery at 4.30pm on Sunday April 5. Just like the resurrection of another ripped long hair, Jamie will rise again this Easter Sunday. For those unfamiliar with Outlander, the show’s based on a series wildly popular historical romance novels by Diana Gabaldon. The story follows Claire, a nurse in 1946 who, whilst on holiday in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, falls through mystical standing stones and finds herself transported to 1743. Classic getaway.
Trapped in the past she is forced to adjust to the bizarre new (old) society, in the midst of civil war. Her only salvation is flame-haired Jamie Fraser, a complicated and scarred Scot who quickly falls for her faster than you can say “standing stone”.
What ensues is an incredibly romantic yet heartbreaking story of a woman torn between two times. The sweeping fantasy with Jamie is marred not only by knowing the ultimate fate of the era she is living in, but also the pesky stress of having a husband whose grandfather hasn’t even been born yet. But it’s not all heartache and pectoral muscles – history fans will rejoice in the damp day to day life of 18th century Scotland. There’s still time to catch up before part two comes out, I suggest you throw yourself at those standing stones with all the power of a Highland cow.
The first Playstation Network original series (even better than Crash Bandicoot: The Musical), Powers is a superhero drama based on the Marvel comic book series by the same name. In a world where humans and superheroes co-exist (badly), homicide detective and ex-superhero Christian Walker works with his partner Deena Pilgrim to solve superhero-inflicted crimes.
There’s power-enhancing drugs, terrifying transformations and more cops on the beat than St Patrick’s Day on the waterfront. In this world, superheroes aren’t the swooping good samaritans who get changed in phone boxes, but an elite ruling class. It’s a rethinking of the caped crusader archetype, twisting tradition and blurring the lines between good an evil. As a wise man once said, “no one man should have all that power”.
The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (TBC)
“Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”
Christina Ricci stars in this bloody eight-part series, based on the true story of a young woman who was tried for the murder of her own mother and stepfather in 1892. It’s one of America’s most famous murder trials, with Lizzie acquitted based on inconclusive testimonies in 1893. Following her life after the grisly murders, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles explores the events and people affected by the fallout of her acquittal.
Her newfound celebrity, filled with sordid love affairs, quickly comes crashing down, as those around her start to die under puzzling and brutal circumstances. But is little hatchet-wielding Lizzie to blame? With a supporting cast of Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), Clea DuVall (American Horror Story) and Cole Hauser (Good Will Hunting) – you’d be an axe murderer to miss this one.
X Company (TBC)
Set in the volatile world of WW2 espionage, X Company follows the journey of five aspiring agents. Coming from Canada, America and Britain, the unconventional young recruits abandon their ordinary lives to train in unconventional tactics. Heading to Camp X, the first spy training facility in North America, they prepare to go behind enemy lines using methods that have never been tried before.
Driving the show are the five main characters, played by the likes of Evelyne Brochu (Orphan Black), Warren Brown (Luther), and Dustin Milligan (90210), who venture out into terrifying territory together, a merry band of agent misfits. Don’t be fooled by the grandiose historical facade, it’s a show about intimate friendships, trust and relationships. As the executive producer Mark Ellis said, “we’re not writing episodes that are about epic battles or air raids or extractions. It’s about one-on-one encounters with people.”