The best on demand TV to watch this week

From a stylish take on a Shakespeare tragedy starring Denzel Washington to German crime drama Dark Woods, the best on demand TV to watch this week

APPLE TV+, SKY/NOW, BRITBOX, BT, AMAZON, NETFLIX & DISNEY+


The Tragedy Of Macbeth

Joel Coen’s take on Shakespeare’s story of the murderous Scottish power couple was shot in black and white and looks stunning, like a German expressionist film from the 1920s.

Denzel Washington (above) is excellent as the increasingly unhinged aristocrat in Joel Coen's stylish take on Shakespeare's story

Denzel Washington (above) is excellent as the increasingly unhinged aristocrat in Joel Coen’s stylish take on Shakespeare’s story

Denzel Washington is excellent as the increasingly unhinged aristocrat, as is Frances McDormand as his ambitious wife. And Kathryn Hunter plays all three of the very creepy witches.

There have been a couple of tweaks to the plot but surely the Bard would have been thrilled by this stylish production, which conveys a real sense of evil. Also stars Harry Melling and Brendan Gleeson. Apple TV+, from Friday

 

Save The Cinema

Wonderful home-grown drama based on the true story of Liz Evans, a hairdresser and youth theatre leader from Carmarthen who, in 1993, set about saving her local cinema from closure.

Samantha Morton (above, centre) plays Liz Evans, a hairdresser and youth theatre leader who set about saving her cinema from closure

Samantha Morton (above, centre) plays Liz Evans, a hairdresser and youth theatre leader who set about saving her cinema from closure

Among those who backed her was Steven Spielberg, resulting in a special screening of his then new blockbuster Jurassic Park.

Samantha Morton plays Liz; Adeel Akhtar, Tom Felton, Jonathan Pryce and Susan Wokoma co-star in a film directed by Liz’s fellow Welshwoman Sara Sugarman. Sky/NOW, from Friday 

The Man Who Bought Cricket

A three-part insight into Allen Stanford, the disgraced financier currently serving a 110-year jail sentence having been found guilty of fraud in 2012.

Allen Stanford (above, right), the disgraced financier currently serving a 110-year jail sentence, attempted to buy his way into sport in 2008

Allen Stanford (above, right), the disgraced financier currently serving a 110-year jail sentence, attempted to buy his way into sport in 2008

It focuses on how he attempted to buy his way into the sport in 2008, to the horror of some members of Lord’s, who felt the Texan’s behaviour ‘just wasn’t cricket’. Sky/NOW, available now

 

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania 

The fourth and reputedly final instalment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise provides more animated fun for the entire family. 

Drac (above) and all his monster friends are turned into ordinary humans by Van Helsing’s new invention in the latest instalment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise

Drac (above) and all his monster friends are turned into ordinary humans by Van Helsing’s new invention in the latest instalment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise

Drac and all his monster friends are turned into ordinary humans by Van Helsing’s new invention. Their human friend Johnny, however, becomes a monster and loves it. 

Nevertheless, he, Drac and the rest of the gang head off on a global search for a cure before their transformations are made permanent. Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez are among the vocal cast. Amazon, from Friday

 

The Wrong Mans

Mathew Baynton and James Corden combined sitcom tropes with the action-adventure genre for this well received collaboration.

Mathew Baynton and James Corden (above) play friends Sam and Phil, who find themselves in a web of crime and corruption, in this action-adventure collaboration

Mathew Baynton and James Corden (above) play friends Sam and Phil, who find themselves in a web of crime and corruption, in this action-adventure collaboration

The duo (who also penned the scripts alongside comedy writer Tom Basden) play friends Sam and Phil who, following a twist of fate, unwittingly become embroiled in a web of crime, corruption and conspiracy. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Ballykissangel 

The final two series of the much loved drama are being made available. Sadly, by the time they were produced in the late 1990s, original stars Stephen Tompkinson and Dervla Kirwan had moved on.

Instead, Don Wycherley and Robert Taylor play priests Father Aidan O’Connell and Father Vincent Sheahan, who help keep the locals on the straight and narrow while dealing with their own issues. Series 5-6, BritBox, from Thursday

 

Euphoria

Having starred in blockbusters Dune and Spider-Man: No Way Home in recent months, Zendaya (real name Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman) returns to the small screen for the hard-hitting coming-of-age drama’s second series.

She reprises her Emmy-winning role as teen drug addict Rue, who begins the new run of episodes by trying to piece together her shattered life after falling off the wagon. Sky/NOW, from Monday

Undercover 

The acclaimed Belgian-Dutch crime drama is back for a third series.

The main character, Bob, is now a former cop and is facing jail. But he’s about to be made an offer that he can’t refuse – immunity from prosecution as long as he agrees to unmask a traitor by going back undercover. Netflix, from Monday

 

After Life 

Ricky Gervais is behind and in front of the camera in the highly anticipated final series of the bittersweet comedy.

After a heart-wrenching series two finale, Tony (Gervais) is back grappling with guilt as he chooses whether to open himself up to the new love knocking at his door or spend the rest of his days living to punish the world for taking wife Lisa from him. 

Netflix, from Friday

   

A Discovery Of Witches 

The third and final series of this compelling adaptation of the Deborah Harkness fantasy novels.

A pregnant Diana (Teresa Palmer) has completed her training as a witch in the 16th Century and, with her vampire husband Matthew (Matthew Goode), is now back in the present day.

The tremendous opening episode is like a supernatural Succession. Sky/NOW, available now

 

Turn: Washington’s Spies

Based on Alexander Rose’s acclaimed book Washington’s Spies: The Story Of America’s First Spy Ring, this gripping period thriller tells the story of the Culper Ring, a network of agents formed by Major Benjamin Tallmadge and future US President George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.

Its aim was to report on the British Army’s activities in New York. Jamie Bell heads the cast. BT/AMC, from Sunday

 

Eternals 

This story about a race of god-like beings, the Eternals, and their battle to protect the Earth from another powerful species, the Deviants, is the most divisive Marvel film ever.

Salma Hayek (above), Angelina Jolie and Kit Harington star in Eternals, the most divisive Marvel film ever

Salma Hayek (above), Angelina Jolie and Kit Harington star in Eternals, the most divisive Marvel film ever

It stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kit Harington, and attempts to bring a new artistic sensibility to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Some fans absolutely loved it, others really hated it. It certainly delivers on spectacle but lacks the easy, wry humour of many Marvel films. Disney+, from Wednesday

 

How We Forgot To Save The Planet 

A cast of comedy actors explores how Britain may have left it too late to save the planet and what people must now do to fix climate change.

The irreverent comedy-documentary educates viewers on the history of climate change through impressions and sketches, covering everything from the Industrial Revolution to modern agriculture.

Presented by Kieran Hodgson, it stars Morgana Robinson and Simon Bird. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself 

A film of a one-man stage show that illusionist DelGaudio performed in America, winning rave reviews. It’s part performance art, part magic show.

DelGaudio tells stories from his life revolving around the theme of identity and each tale leads to a startling trick.

The audience seems to find it deeply moving but it loses something in translation to the screen. Disney+, available now

 

THE TOP TEN HOTTEST NETFLIX COMEDIES TO WATCH THIS WEEK

1. Very Secret Service

Under-the-radar French spoof about spies in the 1960s, incorporating real-life issues of the era such as feminism and demands for independence from French colonies.

2. Glow

Big hair, high-cut leotards and half-nelsons in this smart comedy about a bunch of struggling actresses and showbiz misfits who get involved in a 1980s wrestling show.

3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

When a naive young woman is rescued from the Doomsday cult that kept her cut off from the world, she has to navigate modern life. Acclaimed series co-created by Tina Fey.

Nicola Coughlan (above) in Derry Girls, which centres on a group of schoolgirls

Nicola Coughlan (above) in Derry Girls, which centres on a group of schoolgirls

4. Derry Girls

Hilarious show concerning a group of teenage schoolgirls, including Nicola Coughlan, in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

5. Motherland

Anna Maxwell Martin and Diane Morgan lead the cast in a brilliant sitcom about the ups and downs of a chaotic set of women dealing with the challenges of motherhood.

6. The Good Place

Fantasy comedy about the afterlife in which humans must account for their behaviour while they were alive.

7. Parks And Recreation

Amy Poehler is the politically idealistic Leslie Knope, who wants to change the world, despite the fact that she only works in the parks department of a small town.

8. Seinfeld

Long-running and influential hit sitcom focused on four neurotic friends in Manhattan.

9. Call My Agent!

Brilliant French comedy about a Paris talent agency, with big stars such as Juliette Binoche and Monica Bellucci.

10. Dead To Me

A witty, dark comedy series, starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, about a friendship between a hot-headed widow and an eccentric optimist with a secret.

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BBC iPLAYER, ALL4 & TPTV ENCORE

 

Dark Woods

Atmospheric, noir-ish, six-part German crime drama based on the real-life disappearance of Barbara Neder (played by Silke Bodenbender), the sister of high-ranking Hamburg police officer Thomas Bethge who vanished without trace from her home in Lower Saxony in 1989.

Shortly afterwards, two couples were found dead in a nearby forest. Matthias Brandt plays Thomas, who promises his mother he will find Barbara – but is forbidden from getting involved in the investigation by his bosses. 

Atmospheric, noir-ish, six-part German crime drama based on the real-life disappearance of Barbara Neder (played by Silke Bodenbender, above)

Atmospheric, noir-ish, six-part German crime drama based on the real-life disappearance of Barbara Neder (played by Silke Bodenbender, above)

Instead, Thomas has to wait until the case is reopened after his retirement before concluding his search for a sense of closure. All4, from Friday

 

Puttin’ On The Style With Lonnie Donegan 

Before there were Beatles or Stones there was bequiffed Lonnie Donegan, undisputed king of ‘skiffle’. Powered by washboard percussion and tea-chest bass, the late-1950s musical craze was absolutely defined by Donegan’s jittery, breathless Rock Island Line from 1955. 

Before there were Beatles or Stones there was bequiffed Lonnie Donegan (above) undisputed king of ‘skiffle’. Powered by washboard percussion and tea-chest bass

Before there were Beatles or Stones there was bequiffed Lonnie Donegan (above) undisputed king of ‘skiffle’. Powered by washboard percussion and tea-chest bass

And copied by the young John Lennon and co. In this 1989 documentary, Donegan, who died in 2002, tells his own story. TPTV Encore, from Saturday

 

The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane 

This 2012 film about the Stones’ first two decades was made to mark the band’s 50th anniversary. It covers their meteoric rise in the 1960s, when they were cast as the dangerous bad boys in opposition to those lovable moptops, The Beatles. 

We also get Brian Jones’s death, run-ins with the law, drug addiction and the horrific violence at Altamont in 1969. The band recorded interviews which are used as commentary on the fascinating vintage footage. 

The band (including Mick Jagger, above) recorded interviews which are used as commentary on the fascinating vintage footage. It’s a great watch for Stones fans

The band (including Mick Jagger, above) recorded interviews which are used as commentary on the fascinating vintage footage. It’s a great watch for Stones fans

It’s a great watch for Stones fans, but they won’t learn anything they don’t already know. BBC iPlayer, from Friday

 

Superman & Lois 

Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch (above) play Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who return to Smallville to raise their teenage sons. However, they don’t get to enjoy the quiet life for long

Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch (above) play Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who return to Smallville to raise their teenage sons. However, they don’t get to enjoy the quiet life for long

All episodes of the superhero drama are now available to stream. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch play Clark Kent and Lois Lane, who return to Smallville to raise their teenage sons. 

However, they don’t get to enjoy the quiet life for long. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Outlier 

Eight-part drama focusing on criminology student Maja Angell (Hanne Mathisen Haga), who’s researching serial killers for her dissertation when she hears about a murder in a village close to where she grew up in Norway. All4, available now

 

Midnight Special 

Roy (Michael Shannon) and his son Alton (Jaeden Martell) are on the run from the government and a cult who are both interested in the boy’s special powers. An intriguing but slow-moving sci-fi film. BBC iPlayer, from Sunday

 

First Man 

Ryan Gosling is First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong in this intense drama that focuses on the years leading up to the landing, and on the personal toll the Apollo programme takes on the astronaut and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) and their children. 

The qualities that made Armstrong a great astronaut – drive, laser-like focus and emotional detachment – are not necessarily the qualities that make a great husband and father. 

Ryan Gosling (above) is First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong in this intense drama that focuses on the years leading up to the landing

Ryan Gosling (above) is First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong in this intense drama that focuses on the years leading up to the landing

The film does a fine job of showing just what an incredible achievement the lunar landing was. All4, from Tuesday

 

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

Stay Close (Netflix)

Harlan Coben, the US writer of twisty, pacy page-turners beloved of holidaymakers and airport bookshops, has a 14-film deal with Netflix to adapt his books.

So far there have been six – in Polish, Spanish and French, plus three in English, including the hits Safe and The Stranger.

Eddie Izzard and Sarah Parish (above) are on good form in Harlan Coben's drama

Eddie Izzard and Sarah Parish (above) are on good form in Harlan Coben’s drama

Now we have British drama Stay Close, in which we see the lives collide of Megan, an about-to-be married (uh-oh) mother-of-three with a dodgy past; a photojournalist fallen on hard times (Richard Armitage, who starred in The Stranger); and a haunted police detective (James Nesbitt), whose sidekick is his ex-wife.

Set in a north-western coastal town, it centres on a sparkly nightclub where Megan/Cassie once worked as a pole-dancer, a shaven-headed psychopath, a series of deaths and two bizarre (and awfully well dressed) killers who seem to have stepped out of a combo of Kill Bill and La La Land.

No one will be up for acting awards, but look out for Eddie Izzard as a drug-addicted ex-con turned do-gooding lawyer, whose subtle performance displays genuine emotion, while Sarah Parish is on good form too.

There’s no shortage of complex plotting or surprises, and you never feel – as with some recent drawn out TV thrillers such as Close To Me and Angela Black – that you could have ditched at least one episode without doing any damage. 

And there’s not a kitchen island or banister-less staircase in sight.

Mark Cook

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