Alex Casey and Sam Brooks round up the new content coming to Lightbox this month, including UnREAL tackling… The Bachelorette?!
The Good Doctor (available now)
Look, it’s the number one network series in the States, Canada and Australia right now, so if you aren’t watching The Good Doctor then I’m sorry but everyone is secretly laughing at you behind your back. Starring Freddie Highmore (the freaky kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory AND the freaky kid from Bates Motel) as Shaun Murphy, an autistic young surgeon who can diagnose patients at lightning speed, The Good Doctor is appointment viewing for fans of House, Grey’s Anatomy and staying in the loop. / Alex Casey
UnREAL S3 (arrives February 27)
The first season of this show was one of the most compelling seasons of television I’ve seen in a while, using reality TV to serve as a microcosm for the modern world and the constant manipulations and deceits that people use to get ahead. The second season bit off more than it could chew, but ended up sticking the landing, and I’m excited to see where this latest season goes with a Bachelorette rather than a Bachelor. Put February 27 in your calendar for some grade-A, must-watch TV. / Sam Brooks
Mozart in the Jungle S4 (arrives February 17)
Cons: This is not a show about the famous classical composer living Mowgli-style in a jungle.
Pros: This is a very good show about the New York Symphony, which falls neatly into the comfortable drama category: there’s enough drama to keep you engaged but you’re not going to go to your bed wracked with sobs about fictional characters.
Gael Garcia Bernal is a delight on this show, as he always is, and any chance to see living musical theatre legend Bernadette Peters on your screen is one you should take. It’s won a few Golden Globes, it’s a stunningly gorgeous and lush show, and it’s exactly what you could fill a mid-week night with. Treat yourself. / SB
Dimension 404 (February 14)
If you like the sharp satire of Black Mirror and the philosophical conundrums of Electric Dreams, but don’t want to be left wide awake at night with a suffocating sense of existential dread, then Dimension 404 is probably the sci-fi/horror anthology for you. Exploring the weird and wonderful terrors that come from our modern, digital age, each episode of Dimension 404 tells a different story where “the twist ending… is just the beginning.” Also features Lea Michele from Glee, so, there’s the first of many surprises. / AC
Local made-for-TV movies (available now)
Be honest. You’re always telling yourself you should consume more local content and find out more about our rich history. What better way to do that than through the magic of television, more specifically the wizardry of the television movie? You could start with 2011’s Tangiwai: A Love Story, starring iZombie’s Rose McIvor and set on Christmas Eve 1953, the night before our country’s worst ever rail disaster. Or Until Proven Innocent, the 2009 film that follows the true 1993 case of David Dougherty, a man wrongly convicted of the abduction of an 11 year-old girl. If documentary is more up your alley, The Common Touch: The Jake Bailey Story tells the incredible story of a teenager dying of cancer, and how one high school graduation speech changed his life forever. / AC
Diplomatic Immunity (February 12)
The year was 2009. John Key was the prime minister of New Zealand, Avatar came out in cinemas and, on Thursday nights at 10pm, a local comedy called Diplomatic Immunity would air on TV1. Created by local television godfather James Griffin and starring Dave Fane, Craig Parker and John Leigh, Diplomatic Immunity followed the shenanigans at the consulate of The Most Royal Kingdom of Fe’ausi. With cameo appearances from Pua Magasiva, Madeleine Sami and Natalie Medlock, it’s a pretty good way to watch all of our best funny people at once. / AC
Gone (February 20)
The premise for this show is a wild ride: A child abduction survivor joins an FBI unit specializing in child abductions and disappearances, run by the very FBI agent who saved her. It’s a bit convoluted, but I’m a sucker for a premise that promises all kinds of psychological messiness and more than a little bit of allegory. Will she get too emotionally involved? Probably! Will it make for some compelling drama? Definitely.
Plus the cast is pretty stacked (Chris Noth aka Mr. Big aka The Bad Husband to The Good Wife and Tracie Thoms of The Devil Wears Prada supporting cast fame) too! / SB
A touch of nature (February 27)
Back behind your desk, the only nature you’ll be able to easily access in inside your computer or phone screen. That may sound glum, but what if I told you that not only could you learn about the wonder of mother nature, but you could do it with the help of your favourite celeb? Fans of hostage films will be sharpening their very specific set of skills to watch Journey Into Amazing Caves with Liam Neeson, and surfers will be blue-crushing on The Ultimate Wave with Kelly Slater. Closer to home, Catching Light explores the beauty of the South Island in 4K UHD. If you hold your phone right up to your face, it’s like you’re almost there. / AC
Casual (February 28)
Michaela Watkins! If you’re not onboard with this comic delight already, you need to fix that now. I’m talking about Watkins, but Casual is also a comic delight, albeit one with a little bit of gravity behind it. It revolves around the recently divorced Valerie (Watkins) finding her feet and finding a new life in her thirties, negotiating her relationship with her angsty teenage daughter, her live-in brother and trying to find love again.
Watkins is a tremendous anchor for the show, she’s likeable as hell while still being believably harried and sharp, as you might expect from a therapist trying to work out what’s going on with her own life. It’s a great companion piece to Better Things, but a little bit lighter and more focused on the ensemble; it’s a great pick for a Sunday hangover binge, it’ll make you laugh a lot and think just a bit. / SB
Click here to enjoy the delicious new telly fruits of February, only on Lightbox:
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.