This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Long evenings, the festive season with a hint of a lockdown on the way means we may well need some good home entertainment. There is lots to choose from in this Best TV article and I have even added some Christmas films that have just the right amount of cheesy schmaltz!
BEING THE RICARDOS | AMAZON PRIME
A biographical drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin about the relationship between I Love Lucy, stars Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem).
“A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom I Love Lucy.”
Airs 10th December.
HARLEM SEASON 1 | AMAZON PRIME
Harlem is a new comedy following a group of stylish and ambitious best girlfriends in Harlem NYC, the mecca of Black culture in America. Camille is a popular young anthropology professor at Columbia with extensive knowledge of the dating norms of many cultures, but has a hard time navigating her own love life; Tye is a successful, queer dating app creator who prefers keeping vulnerability—and romantic partners—at arm’s length; Quinn is a hopeless romantic and trust fund fashion designer who is trying to give back to the world while running a struggling business; Angie is a confident, vibrant, and filter-free singer and actress who also lives rent-free and fabulously with Quinn. Together, they level up from their 20s into the next phase of their careers, relationships, and big city dreams.
AMERICAN RUST | SKY ATLANTIC
This small-town drama, which unfolds in the Pennsylvania rust belt region of America’s Midwest, hinges on intimate relationships. The drama is headlined by Hollywood veteran Jeff Daniels as beleaguered police chief Del Harris and provides the bedrock to a series which audiences may have trouble connecting with at first. He’s burdened with the psychological scars of active duty, which manifest through regimented sedation and selective flashbacks. But despite that, Del is able to find solace in his job.
Stick with it as first episode is hard to follow.
LANDSCAPERS | SKY ATLANTIC
Landscapers is a true-crime drama starring Olivia Colman. The four-part series is inspired by real events and documents the unique transformation of a mild-mannered English couple into killers. Also starring David Thewlis. Airs 6th December.
THE NIGHT OF | SKY ATLANTIC
This eight-part series stars Riz Ahmed as a man accused of a brutal murder and follows the police investigation and legal proceedings, all the while examining the criminal justice system and the purgatory of jail.
IMPEACHMENT | BBC2
Impeachment focuses on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that occupied minds, headlines and the House of Representatives for much of 1998.
VIENNA BLOOD Season 2 | BBC2 10th December
Vienna Blood, penned by Sherlock writer Steve Thompson and adapted from the best-selling Max Liebermann novels, is returning for a second season.
Vienna Blood, set in the 1900s in Vienna, follows a know-it-all junior doctor, Max Liebermann (Matthew Beard), and a taciturn detective, Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt (Juergen Maurer), who form an unlikely crime-solving partnership.
There is no trailer for Season 2 but below is the trailer for season 1.
SMALL ISLAND | BBC iPLAYER
This is an old series but just in case you missed it back in 2010 then it is well worth revisiting.
It’s a tale of two couples. Queenie (Ruth Wilson), living in London but desperate to avoid being dragged back to life on her parents’ pig farm, seizes on an uncharacteristically daring marriage invitation from Bernard (Benedict Cumberbatch), unaware that the man within is even more narrow and dessicated than his external appearance suggests. In Jamaica, the fanciful and vain Hortense (Naomie Harris) is arming herself with the accoutrements of a schoolteacher of proper young ladies, and dreams of travelling to England to find employment in a respectable school. She harbours a secret love for the headstrong Michael (Ashley Walters), with whom she has grown up in her adoptive family.
THE TOWER | ITV catch up
This ITV series is based on former Metropolitan Police detective Kate London’s novel Post Mortem, follows a female Met detective surrounded by morally ambiguous colleagues. The series arrives at a time of public scrutiny for the force, following the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, and the recent case of two Met officers who pleaded guilty to taking and sharing photos of the murder scene of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.
AND JUST LIKE THAT (Sex & the City revival) | SKY COMEDY & NOW
The 10-episode series will follow three of the four original main characters — Carrie, Miranda Hobbs and Charlotte York, played by SJP, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis — as they navigate life and relationships in their 50s. Sadly Kim Cattrall declined to appear in this new series.
Reflecting on how a revival series of a show that largely included lots of dating, parties and cocktails would reflect 2021, Parker told Vanity Fair on January 29 that the Coronavirus would be included in And Just like That.
‘[Covid-19 will] obviously be part of the storyline, because that’s the city [these characters] live in. And how has that changed relationships once friends disappear? I have great faith that the writers are going to examine it all,’ the actor and shoe designer said.
Airs 9th December.
SAVE ME TOO | SKY ATLANTIC
SAVE ME TOO is the second season of the award-winning thriller SAVE ME. In the dramatic continuation of season one, SAVE ME TOO heads deeper into a dark, hidden world. Nelly Rowe’s life was turned upside down when he was accused of abducting the daughter he barely knew. Now, 17 months later, his daughter Jody is still missing but Nelly’s quest to find her lives on as he put his relationships, and his life, on the line. New potential suspects are revealed, and long-buried secrets are unearthed as Nelly is torn between protecting Grace, the young woman he found in a caravan park and continuing his mission to find Jody.
I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE | SKY ATLANTIC
Based on the 1998 bestselling novel by Wally Lamb, adapted and directed by Derek Cianfrance, this limited series follows the parallel lives of identical twin brothers, played by Mark Ruffalo. A family saga, it tells a story of betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness set against the backdrop of 20th-century America.
EMILY IN PARIS Season 2 | NETFLIX
Emily in Paris took the world by storm last year, becoming one of Netflix’s most popular and binge-worthy shows. Not sure if it was the campy fashion, kitschy storyline, or Parisian romance (or all of the above), but it became a full-blown phenomenon. And it’s back with a second season. One for the girls….
Airs 24th December
THE WHEEL OF TIME | AMAZON PRIME
This series is definitely for lovers of Game of Thrones. The Wheel of Time follows Moiraine, a member of the Aes Sedai, a powerful organization of women who can use magic. She takes a group of four young people on a journey around the world, believing one of them might be the reincarnation of the Dragon, a powerful individual prophesied to either save the world or destroy it. Starring Rosamund Pike.
JUST A FEW FILMS I HAVE FOUND ON NETFLIX & AMAZON PRIME THAT COULD SORT OUT SOME SOFA SLUMBER AFTERNOONS OVER THE FESTIVE PERIOD:
A CASTLE FOR CHRISTMAS | NETFLIX
This romcom is centered on a divorcée who, after a public meltdown, buys a castle in Scotland, meets a dreamy duke, and regains her creative vitality.
Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields) is a successful romcom novelist, having released a dozen books in the popular “Emma Gale” series. However, the celebrated author has recently come under fire by her fans since choosing to kill off her protagonist’s love interest — a creative decision motivated by her own bitter divorce after her husband left her for another woman. An on-air breakdown on “The Drew Barrymore Show” causes her to rethink her creative pursuits and hightail it to Dun Dunbar, a tiny town in Scotland where lies the castle in which her father was raised. She travels to Scotland to where her father was born and reconnect with family.
She discovers that the palatial palace from her dad’s youth is for sale. The only problem is that obstinate owner Myles (Cary Elwes), an adversarial, cash-strapped duke, is reticent to hand over the keys
I think we have found our Boxing Day film when we have all over-eaten and are lying on the sofa. Just the right amount of cheesy.
WORTH | NETFLIX
The true story of the lawyer tasked with allocating funds for those who lost someone during the terrorist attacks in 2001 is brought to the screen with sensitivity and care. Starring Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci (a favourite of mine.)
OFF THE RAILS | AMAZON PRIME
This film was released in June 2021 and is a feel-good, curl up on the sofa on a grey afternoon in December (post-Christmas). It’s another one for the girls. Starring Jenny Seagrove,
WILD TARGET | NETFLIX
Longing to get out of the assassination business, a hit man (Bill Nighy) decides not to follow through with his latest assignment to kill a pretty art thief (Emily Blunt).
Bit of a farce but still entertaining especially if you love Bill Nighy (as I do!).
THE POWER OF THE DOG | NETFLIX
A great American story, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog centres on Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), a swaggering man’s man. For decades, Phil has been raising cattle on his family’s Montana ranch, a parched expanse ringed by jagged mountains. As hard and isolated, open and defended as the land, Phil has been playing cowboy his entire adult life: He rarely bathes, picks a banjo, and castrates bull calves using a blade he then holds in his teeth so he can finish the merciless procedure with his bare hands.
MINARI | AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
The Yi family arrive in Arkansas from California, where they’d lived for a decade since immigrating from Korea. Dad Jacob has moved his dubious family across the country to follow his dream of growing Korean fruit and vegetables on his own farm. But as tensions — familiar and new — emerge, and his mother-in-law comes to stay, will the family survive his attempt at the American Dream?
This film had me in tears, so poignant and charming but realistically showing how challenging it is to leave one’s country of birth and start again.
And a few ‘iconic’ TV programmes to make you laugh…….
For those of us who want a trip down memory lane then tune into THAT’S TV – SKY Channel 187 or Freeview 91. They are the channel behind the licensing of such U.K. classic comedies as The Benny Hill Show, Kenny Everett and Frankie Howerd. It is definitely worth a look.
MORECAMBE & WISE XMAS DAY | BBC
The BBC will screen a long-lost episode of Morecambe and Wise in full as a Christmas treat for fans – after it was found in an attic by Eric Morecambe ’s son.
The episode, which aired only once more than half a century ago on October 8 1970, was watched at the time by an audience of 14 million.
It has now been lovingly restored and painstakingly changed from black and white into colour by a team of BBC experts.
MORE UNMISSABLE TV SUGGESTIONS CAN BE SEEN HERE