There’s a bevy of great new television shows that we can’t stream in New Zealand without breaking the law, and Aaron Yap has had it up to HERE.
If there is one downside to this golden age of television on demand – where we’re all losing our minds over no fewer than ten amazing shows each week – it’s that we constantly crave more. It’s created the perception we should have every new TV show available at our fingertips right this goddamn minute.
So in the spirit of this deeply entitled, instant-gratification-seeking generation, blissfully blind to the myriad complexities and commercial realities of running a business, let’s calmly ask: WHY AREN’T THESE AWESOME SHOWS AVAILABLE TO LEGALLY STREAM IN NEW ZEALAND YET??
With the recent news of The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos turning to TV, I’m excited at the prospect of more foreign arthouse auteurs doing the same. In 2014, Frenchman Bruno Dumont, a consistently divisive, but always welcome voice on the festival circuit, gave us a glimpse of what this could be like with a bizarre-looking mini-series that’s been compared to Twin Peaks and Gummo. Described as an “absurdist, metaphysical murder mystery” – and also Dumont’s “warmest”, “funniest” work to date – Li’l Quinquin could feasibly capitalise on the hype of the forthcoming, much-anticipated return of Twin Peaks.
The Good Place
Miss the radiant optimism of Parks and Recreation? Well, its co-creator Mike Schur brought his lovably goofy vision back to telly last year with this high-concept comedy starring Kristen Bell as a self-absorbed woman who dies and is mistakenly transported to a heaven-like afterlife. Ted Danson co-stars as her bow-tie-wearing guide and the architect of “The Good Place”. Bell has received plenty of praise for the comic range of her performance, while Schur’s deft balance of big-hearted lunacy, imaginative world-building and prickly moral quandaries should delight fans of his former show.
Hap and Leonard
It was only a matter of time before peak TV came knocking on the door of genre-straddling award-winning author Joe R. Lansdale. A couple of his novels have already made decent movies: the indescribable oddity Bubba Ho-Tep, and the pulp-perfect thriller Cold in July. Developed by Jim Mickle and Nick Damici, the creative duo behind the latter, Hap and Leonard is based on Lansdale’s series of private eye novels about the sleuthing adventures of an ex-con (James Purefoy) and a gay Vietnam war vet (Michael K. Williams). The Justified/Banshee crowd will want this offbeat Texas buddy-noir on their watch-list pronto.
For those who consider Pamela Adlon’s recurring acerbic presence on Louie one of the unsung strengths of the show, Better Things definitely could be the ideal showcase for her talents you’ve been waiting for. Produced by Adlon and Louis C.K., this unsentimental, semi-autobiographical look at the trials and tribulations of motherhood in Hollywood earned solid raves and appeared on many end-year lists of 2016, but still hasn’t materialised here.
[Editor’s note: In a shocking twist of events, I have been informed that Better Things is in fact coming to Lightbox in April. Completely unplanned, we swear.]
Andy Daly’s adaptation of the Aussie show Review with Myles Barlow has been one of the best-reviewed comedies on television since premiering in 2014. Its clever premise, centering on a professional critic (in Daly’s version, Forrest MacNeil) who reviews life experiences at the request of his viewers, is fertile ground for pitch-black comedy gold. If you like your laughs on the unhinged and cringey side, MacNeil is probably someone you need to be acquainted with.
Not that I place much stock in YouTube comments, but someone’s suggestion that Patriot “looks like Homeland if it was directed by Wes Anderson” did make me take notice. Patriot could be a love-or-hate proposition: totally grating and affected, or wondrous and special. It’s being discussed in the same breath as The Americans and Mr Robot in some circles, so one would be inclined to assume this loopy take on the spy genre will be an intriguing watch. Plum roles for Terry O’Quinn and Kurtwood Smith seal the deal for me.
What if Girls was a little less annoying and also an existential detective show? Search Party seems to answer this question, mixing narcissistic young New Yorkers and a bingey missing-person narrative into “one of the best shows of the year”, declared Vulture critic Matt Zoller Seitz back in November. Ubiquitous indie mainstay Alia Shawkat is a good reason to watch anything, and the word is her performance as Dory, a twentysomething obsessed with the disappearance of an old school friend, is the best thing she’s done so far.
Swedish crime drama Modus was on the verge of coming out here on DVD before the obscenely high classification costs prompted the distributor to pull it from release. Here’s hoping someone else will pick it up. One of Sweden’s most successful shows ever, it’s an eight-part atmospheric “whydunnit” that looks like no-brainer catnip for viewers gripped by the Scandi-noir likes of The Killing and The Bridge.
As far as I am aware, this AMC show, which was cancelled after one season in 2010, has strangely, and mysteriously fallen through the cracks. A pre-Homeland journey into the shadowy world of the intelligence community, Rubicon was a true cult item: it suffered from poor ratings, but those who tuned in adored its low-key, ‘70s-conspiracy-thriller vibe and intricate, intelligent writing. You can’t officially stream or buy it on DVD or Blu-ray anywhere in the world. A conspiracy, perhaps?
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