We kick off…at the end of humanity with The End is Nye. Bill Nye (with help from Seth MacFarlane and Brannon Braga) runs simulations of global disasters, related to climate change, that threaten our very existence. However he also offers solutions to prevent these events from happening (such as rewilding wetlands). The show manages to be equally entertaining and sobering with a very clear message that we are very much in the red zone in terms of needing to take urgent action.
On a similar note the miniseries Last Light is an interesting concept. The ‘eco-thriller’ stars Matthew Fox, a chemist who discovers there’s a big problem with the formulation of the world’s oil due to an attack by an environmental group. It is a little slow to get going but nonetheless a solid miniseries.
One of the big new genres over the last couple of years has been the comedy-mystery and The Resort superbly carries the torch. Noah and Emma have gone to a resort at the Mayan Riviera to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary (possibly realizing their relationship has gone a little stale). They find themselves unwittingly drawn into investigating a mysterious disappearance from 15 years ago. It has a very funny, dark humor to it as well as being really unsettling. A hard trick to pull off, but The Resort knocks it out of the park.
The Undeclared War is a tech-espionage thriller from Britain. The surveillance team at GCHQ are attempting to rebuff Russian efforts to harm the systems that allow the UK to function. It does raise a lot of questions as to what would happen in the event of a cyber-attack. It is probably true that future conflicts will be fought by people staring at computer screens, however (especially as it features Mission: Impossible’s Simon Pegg) a few more thrills and spills would be welcome.
A Friend of the Family is based on a true story about Robert Berchtold and the Broberg family. It is a real ‘stranger than fiction’ story about how Berchtold abducts young Jan Broberg twice within two years. A lot of the focus in this miniseries is how Berchtold traps and manipulates the family in multiple webs. It doesn’t look to exonerate the Brobergs (especially the parents) but does show how easy it is to fall prey to predatory grooming.
Sadly our hopes for an Abba-themed series have been dashed because One of Us Is Lying is not referencing a lyric of the 70s pop-combo, but in fact is a teen murder-mystery. When one of a group of five students being held in detention dies from an allergic reaction, suspicion falls on the other four. All of whom have motive for murder. There are a few tropes or nods here and there to classic teen thrillers but similar to Bel-Air, there is a sharpness and sympathy towards the pressures young people.
Finally the two part documentary I Love You, You Hate Me takes us back in time to the late 80s and the creation of a TV show about a friendly purple dinosaur called Barney. Then the incredible anger and vitriol he attracts. Your initial feeling, given the anger, is ‘it’s lucky there was no social media then.’ Which becomes the focus of the second half of the documentary, in the ‘need’ to hate and have pariahs. Essential viewing.
The only place to start for November viewing is House of the Dragon. The prequel to Game of Thrones moves at a slower pace and prioritizes characters over spectacle. In many ways this has a lot more in common with the earlier seasons of GoT when it was still in step with the original novels. Also because it is part of the franchise House of the Dragon it doesn’t need to ‘sell’ quite so much making for a more substantial viewing experience.
Probably more of an origin story than a prequel Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler (S3 – all episodes available 10th November) is a real treat. Weaving a very realistic Swinging Sixties London with the superhero genre could very easily have gone wrong (you could easily create an accidental Austin Powers tribute) but this pulls it off brilliantly. In terms of which timeline it fits in, the end point is the Christopher Nolan Batman films. This lends itself to the very believable grittiness and none of the hyperbole that tend to come with a lot of Marvel spin offs.
Next up….it’s time for some comedy. Rap Sh!t is the latest from Issa Rae (co-creator of the peerless Insecure). Set in Miami, it is about two estranged school friends who reconnect to try and make it in the rap game. As you’d suspect it is very well observed with razor-sharp writing. Don’t expect big set-piece gags or belly-laughs, but you will find yourself with a wry smile and come away from each episode with a real sense of satisfaction.
Avenue 5 (2 seasons, all episodes November 28) is another show with an elite pedigree coming from Armando ‘Veep’ Ianucci. Set in the future, the space cruise liner is taking its passengers for an eight week trip around the solar system. Following a malfunction, the new course home will take three years, leaving all the guests trapped, so it is no longer a holiday, but having to readapt to trying circumstances. Of course this allows Ianucci to make some brilliant satirical points about contemporary society (the Captain is merely a figurehead, conspiracy theorists not believing the danger they are in). Well worth a look.
Our final recommendation for HBO Max in November is crime documentary The Vow (2 seasons all episodes available November 21). It’s about the NXIVM cult and its leader Keith Raniere. Due to the profile of NXIVM members (and Raniere’s hunger for fame) there is a lot of archive footage which really helps tell the story and the subsequent consequences. As with A Friend of the Family, often people don’t know they are being manipulated until it’s too late.
As usual there is a luxurious vibrancy to AppleTV+. So it is not unsurprising to see Loot here. It stars the ever-watchable Maya Rudolph as Molly Novak. Molly finds her husband, a tech entrepreneur, is having an affair and she divorces him, walking away with a $87bn settlement. After a stab at hedonism, she realizes that she would actually prefer adding more purpose to her life. Upon learning there is a charitable foundation in her name, Molly takes over the day to day running of it…and that is where the fun really starts. Molly’s ideas are super-cringe (like performing a version of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies at a women’s refuge). However, the show also has real heart to it (it would be borderline psychotic if it didn’t) and is another winner from Apple TV+.
While not brand new, we also need to remind you of the genius that is Ted Lasso. It doesn’t really matter if you like soccer or not, this is one of the all-time great culture clash comedies. Not only are there the differences between the USA and UK, but also Ted, his personality and coaching methods are entirely at odds with the ruthless, arrogant professional sportsmen.
“What if you woke up one day and didn’t know your own secrets?” is the premise of the thriller Surface. In which a woman who has suffered a head injury, and as she tries to piece back together her life, she begins to suspect that the life she is being told about, might not be what it seems. It is maybe a little ‘by the numbers’ but nonetheless a solid, reliable watch.
See is a sci-fi/fantasy drama set a few hundred years in the future. Civilization has been almost wiped out leaving a global population of a couple of million. All survivors have lost their ability to see, a trait which is passed on to their children and so on. Humankind has managed to find new ways to adapt and survive without vision, although it’s closer to medieval times than this current era . As the years progress anyone talking about vision is considered a heretic and the existence of things such as plastic and metals is regarded as being a gift from the gods. News of two children, born with the ability to see, spells danger for a small mountain community. Starring Jason Momoa this has plenty of action to keep you entertained, especially if House of Dragon is not doing it for you.
Hilary and Chelsea Clinton hit the road in Gutsy, a documentary where they travel across the country meeting the gutsy women who have shaped modern times. From Amy Schumer to Megan Thee Stallion this is feel-good and inspiring show
Defending Jacob is a drama based on the 2012 bestselling novel of the same name. It stars Chris Evans as an assistant DA whose life is thrown into turmoil when his 14-year-old sun is arrested on suspicion of murder. It would probably be wrong to call it a crime series (despite the plot concluding in the courtroom) but rather a study in character, as seemingly idyllic family life is put under incredible pressure both by outsiders and from within.
The BOB Team