Will we ever truly reach peak TV? Maybe! And if we do, 2019 might be the year when it happens. Sam Brooks and Alex Casey run down all the things you absolutely cannot miss in 2019.
Golden Boy / Mean Mums (TV3)
The successful pilots from TV3’s inaugural pilot week are presumably coming this year, both having received funding from NZ on Air. One of them is a low-key comedy about a journalist (Hayley Sproull) who returns to her small town only to find herself in the shadow of her All Black brother, who also happens to never be around. The other is a more straight-up comedy about a mother (Morgana O’Reilly) who has to deal with the very specific social structure of the fancy private school her kid is attending. Both are hilarious, thoughtful shows that well deserved to have been commissioned.
(See our reviews of all the pilots from pilot week here – and check out which were our top two. No biggie, just that we’re right a lot of the time.) / Sam Brooks
Married at First Sight AU (TV3)
I think we are all in agreement that last year’s season of Married at First Australia was the best season of reality television from this corner of the world. Maybe whole world? Maybe ever? With a jumbo crop of ELEVEN COUPLES and a feverish casting director with contacts seemingly across the galaxy (Troy was not of this world, nobody brushes their teeth like that), I simply cannot wait to see how they follow it up. Starting February 3 on TV3, season five features cricketer Cameron Merchant, a Home and Away extra and a First Dates breakout star. Warm up your pasta a la troy (plate of pale mince, big slices of onion, no pasta) and settle in, this is going to be good. / Alex Casey
The Bad Seed (TVNZ)
Based on the popular book series by Charlotte Grimshaw, The Bad Seed is the grimy story of two brothers (Dean O’Gorman and Matt Minto) who have raised themselves out of the bad situation they were born into. One is an obstetrician, one is still pretty rough – and things only get rougher when their neighbour shows up murdered. The adaptation is by columnist and journalist Sarah-Kate Lynch and is rounded out by a pretty great-looking cast (Madeleine Sami, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Amanda Billing) so this’ll be one to watch. / SB
The Casketeers (TVNZ1)
The second season of the best show of 2018 is back on TVNZ 1 next week, and I am positively fizzing. The Casketeers turns my heart into absolute treacle, inviting us within the four walls of Tipene Funerals, New Zealand’s most interesting and lovable funeral home. Proprietors Francis and Kaiora Tipene are the anchors of the docuseries, one which deftly flits between workplace comedy, abject tragedy and cultural anthropology without ever feeling remotely jarring or forced. I can’t wait to see Francis’ leafblower again, I can’t wait to cry again, I can’t wait to laugh again, I can’t wait to feel again. / AC
The Handmaid’s Tale S3 (Lightbox)
Blessed be the fruit, what the heck is Offred going to get into next season? Scant few details have been released about the third season, but seeing as how the second season ended up a stomach-churning cliffhanger that promised that nothing in Gilead would be the same, it promises to be another year of digging your nails so deep into your furniture that you could bill your reupholstery bills to Elisabeth Moss herself. / SB
(You can watch seasons one and two of The Handmaid’s Tale on Lightbox right here.)
Celebrity Treasure Island (TVNZ2)
The seas are boiling but at least we might get to see Max Key tough it out with some ex-All Blacks and washed reality TV stars on a tropical island this year! The return of Celebrity Treasure Island after what feels like a 100 year hiatus could not come at a better time, as the shine of Dancing With the Stars NZ begins to dull. Place your bets on which celebrities will wash up here and, if you know any celebrities, it might be time to teach them how to fend for themselves. Because, in the immortal words of Frank Bunce (season two), “I’ve never caught a fish in my life, I don’t hunt, I can’t cook. What am I going to do?” / AC
The Walking Dead S9 (TVNZ)
I shit you not, I have nearly watched six seasons of The Walking Dead this summer after somehow missing the entire series so please DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. All going to plan, I should be able to catch up to the mid-point hiatus of season nine as it comes to TVNZ, at which point I can finally hold my summit entitled We Need To Talk About Rick’s Sexy Beard. But before that happens, I’m still very much enjoying the breakneck speed, the rapidly unravelling central characters, and the constant threat of violent death that makes me feel only slightly better about my real life. My only hope for season nine is that Rick grows his beard back. / AC
The Crown S3 (Netflix)
It’s the show you’ll be watching with your mum, her mum, her sister, her sister’s cousin – and basically anybody with even the slightest interest in the royal family. Season three trades out Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby (who gave one of the best performances on television as Princess Margaret) for the current star of The Favourite Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham-Carter, who is basically a Vivienne Westwood gown in human form. It’ll be must-see, full-kettle-of-tea TV. / SB
Stranger Things S3 (Netflix)
Finally, after years wallowing in the upside-down without any updates, Stranger Things S3 has confirmed that it will be back on 4 July this year. An American dream, some would say. We’re headed back to Indiana in the summer of 1985, which many fans are speculating might be the summer of… the demo-rat. That’s right, with an episode named “the mall rats” and several of the teaser posters featuring large quantities of rat corpses fused to Demogorgon legs, I for one am ready to welcome our new mutated rat overlords. / AC
The Gulf (TV3)
A six-part German/NZ co-production, The Gulf is a Waiheke-set story about a talented detective (Kate Elliott) who works her way through three crimes. It’s being sold as a dark thriller juxtaposed with the beauty of New Zealand, so think of this like the gritty, dark counterpart to the lighter, but still very much murder-focused, Brokenwood Mysteries. If the runaway foreign success of that show is any indicator, TV3 will have a reliable hit with The Gulf. /SB
The Good Doctor S2 (Lightbox)
“Look at his face! Just look at it!” – the full range of productive cultural commentary I have on The Good Doctor.
No, but seriously, The Good Doctor is basically the most wholesome medical drama on TV. If Grey’s Anatomy is too much crying for you, and Shortland Street is too local for you, then The Good Doctor is the show where you can see the sweetest face on television (Freddie Highmore’s Shaun Murphy) making people better purely by virtue of being the goodest doctor of them all. / SB
(You can watch season one of The Good Doctor on Lightbox right here.)
RuPaul’s Drag Race S11 (TVNZ/Netflix)
Miss Vanjie. Miss … Vanjie. Miss … … … Vanjie.
Not only does season eleven harken the return of the breakout star of season ten of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s another season of brand new queens to stan, obsess over and watch cry through their makeup. I say with all seriousness that my life isn’t as good when this show isn’t on television, and now that the show is seemingly airing constantly, trading off between flagship seasons and All Star seasons, I’ll never have to consider a world where Drag Race isn’t on. / SB
The Bachelor US (TVNZ OnDemand)
Look, The Bachelor US is nothing new, but if you haven’t seen this clip of the contestant who pretends to be Australian for no reason, then you need to get educated. Starts today on TVNZ OnDemand. / AC
Suits S8 (Lightbox)
From our New to Lightbox round-up for January: “The first half of season eight of Suits ended with Donna shaking things up in a series-changing fashion. Sometimes-hero, sometimes-villain, always-pernicious Louis has been made managing partner of Zane Spencer Litt, and his first action point? Making Alex and Samantha name partners. Even more importantly, Louis found out he’s going to be a father. It’s rare to see a show shake its premise up this far into its run, and Suits shows no signs of letting up from its glossy, high-collar, tight-jacketed plotting and overall fun times. Bring on season 8B, still with TV Princess Katherine Heigl.” / SB
(You can watch all eight seasons of Suits on Lightbox right here.)
Kura (TVNZ OnDemand)
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The landslide winner of last year’s New Blood competition, Kura is a webseries set in the South Auckland suburb of Papakura. If the wild success of its public-voting campaign was any indicator, this has the chance to be the local hit of 2019 – stay tuned. / SB
Killing Eve S2 (TVNZ OnDemand)
This show is coming fresh off a Golden Globe win for Sandra Oh, and if you haven’t tuned into this cat-and-mouse spy thriller then there’s no time like the present. Killing Eve might have been my favourite drama of 2018, and the very last minute of the first season sets up a second season that promises to be as bend-over-backwards silly and twisty as the first. If we get even one more Jodie Comer dress like the one pictured above, we will be too fortunate. / SB
Go South (Prime)
This is the year that I have vowed to slow down, to meditate, to look up from my screen to another screen, where I can watch a train barreling through Godzone, uninterrupted, for hours at a time. A mere 123 years since Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, Prime is finally bringing us the reboot we’ve always wanted in the form of Go South, a slow TV experience across the romance of New Zealand’s rails. Look how soothing this looks, holy shit. / AC
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