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Boxsets and Binge Worthy TV for the Winter Months Ahead

Boxsets and Binge Worthy TV for the Winter Months Ahead

Shot from His Dark Materials (BBC/HBO). Lyra stands with a group of polar bears

With those nights closing in and the summer holidays now a distant memory, attention rapidly turns to how one might fill those cold, dark evenings. Well, fear not as it’s also the time of year when the major TV players release a whole host of big-budget, all-star cast laden shows and series that’ll have us eating mince pies and welcoming in the New Year in the blink of an eye (god life moves quickly these days!).

And, in a timely and efficient manner, we thought we’d take the opportunity to get to the bottom of the best boxsets to come, so you can just sit back, relax and binge t0 your heart’s content. Here are the TV programmes you need in your life to survive the winter months ahead.

His Dark Materials – BBC, November 3rd

What is it? 

It’s a collaboration between the BBC and HBO, which bodes well from the outset. The budget is a big one and the cast looks promising and reassuring. It’s an 8-part adaptation of Philip Pullman’s hugely successful fantasy trilogy and the first series will cover the events of his first novel Northern Lights.

The plot follows Lyra, a young orphan girl living with the tutors at Jordan College, Oxford. Set in an alternative world where humans have animal companions called dæmons which are essentially external physical manifestations of a person’s ‘inner-self’, Lyra embarks on a fantastical journey filled after discovering a secret involving her Uncle, Lord Asriel and some missing children. Expect magic and mayhem as Lyra runs into witches, warring Polar Bears and all manner weird and wonderful beings

Some of you (that aren’t familiar with the literature) may be aware of the story as the basis for ‘The Golden Compass’ starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. The film got a mixed reception, in large due to the watered-down adaptation of certain themes in the book, specifically those centred around the rejection of religion. The BBC however, are promising an epic reboot.

Who’s in it?

James McAvoy, Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters.

Best For…

Fans of Game of Thrones.

The End Of The F***ing World 2 – Channel 4, November

What is it? 

The darkly comedic sleeper hit is set for a second series, as viewers hope to catch up with James and Alyssa, although given the rather ambiguous culmination of Series 1 (Spoiler Alert!) where James runs off towards the sea, and we hear police gunfire, leading us to imagine his demise, presumably that can’t be guaranteed.

Channel 4 (yes it’s not a Netflix original) have released very little in the way of what to expect, although we have been introduced to a new character called Bonnie, who will be played by Naomi Ackie, as revealed on her Instagram account.

Show creator Jonathan Entwistle told Thrillist,

“It’s kind of nice that people are annoyed by the ending. I feel like it ends the way it started, where people are like, who are these really insane people? And at the end, they’re like, I can’t believe what’s happened! It’s kind of us having a bit of a joke in a way. I hope that it leaves the show open for expanding the world.” 

One thing we do know is that Blur guitarist Graham Coxon looks like he will once again be lending his musical talents, after his hugely successful foray composing the original score for the first series. Expect more sombre magic.

Who’s in it?

Alex Lawther, Jessica Barden.

Best For…

Fans of Black Mirror.

Shot from the end of the fucking world series two
Robert Chiltern / Clerkenwell Films Channel 4

Temple – Sky and Now TV, Out Now

What is it?

Based on the Norwegian series Valkyrien, the plot follows disillusioned surgeon Daniel Milton who despite a successful career has encountered his fair share of tragedy, most notably his wife Beth’s terminal illness.

Forced to go underground as he attempts to find a cure, Daniel sets up his own clinic treating criminals and other characters existing on the fringes of society in order to raise money to supplement his research.

A fantastic premise and some seriously dark subject matter suggest Temple, which is actually set in an underground labyrinth below London’s famous tube station, will be a word of mouth hit and has plenty of scope for future series.

Who’s in it?

Mark Strong, Marion Bailey, Tobi King Bakare, Daniel Mays.

Best for…

Fans of Breaking Bad.

Living with Yourself – Netflix, October 18th

What is it?

Age-defying Hollywood A-Lister Paul Rudd embarks on a new Netflix original series in Living with Yourself, which is a promising looking comedy/sci-fi amalgamation. The story follows downtrodden Miles, a man struggling with his life, and his place in the world when he comes across an opportunity.

A company offering a revolutionary treatment that promises to reveal, or should we say create, a new and improved ‘you’. This experimental and largely untested solution appears at first to have been successful until we learn that Miles is actually a clone of the real Miles who must now compete with himself.

Who’s in it?

Paul Rudd, Aisling Bea, Desmin Borges.

Best For…

Fans of The Orville.

The Strongest Man in History – History, November 10th

What is it?

After years of competing as rivals, the four strongest men in the world are teaming up to find out the truth behind some of history’s greatest tales of strength.

In the new HISTORY® series, British strongman Eddie Hall (Deadlift world record holder), Brian Shaw (4-Time World’s Strongest Man Champion), Nick Best (‘Grandfather’ of Strongman, Shield Carry world record holder) and Robert Oberst (World’s Strongest Man Finalist 2013 & 2018) travel the world investigating strongman legends and taking on epic feats of strength in a quest to prove who really is The Strongest Man in History.

In each episode, the four strongmen take on three strength challenges from history and try to beat the legend—and each other. They separate fact from fiction–replicating legendary lifts to determine what they actually weighed while competing to see who among them is the strongest. Their journey takes them across America, England and Scotland.

Who’s in it?

Eddie Hall, Brian Shaw.

Best For…

Fans of World’s Strongest Man.

Strongmen Brian Shaw, Nick Best, Eddie Hall & Robert O stand in a line folded arms

Godfather of Harlem – Stan, October 1st

What is it?

We’re not gonna lie, this one’s right up our street, and being big fans of the too rarely seen Forest Whitaker, we’re equally expecting big things. Whitaker plays notorious 1960s New York City crime boss Bumpy Johnson, a real-life former gangster from Brooklyn, who having been released from prison after a ten-year stretch, finds the neighboorhood he once presided over now in the hands of the Italian Mafia, more specifically the Genovese crime family.

Centred around a tumultuous period in the American socio/political landscape, Bumpy Johnson finds the life he left behind a distant memory and a world that has changed beyond recognition. How can he reclaim the streets he once owned? Seeking the help of a rising political figure in Malcolm X, Johnson sets about doing just that and starting a mob war along the way.

Who’s in it?

Forest Whitaker, Lucy Fry, Paul Sorvino.

Best for…

Fans of Boardwalk Empire.

Dublin Murders – BBC, November 10th

What is it?

This eight-part adaptation of Tana French’s internationally bestselling Dublin Murder Squad novels is set to hit our screens in November and it looks like it’ll be well worth the wait.

It’s set in Dublin in the early noughties, and follows ambitious police detectives Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox, who investigate the murder of a young girl whose body was found in the woods. What at first appears to be a standalone case may in fact be linked to another macabre killing.

Dublin Murders looks set to be a taught psychological thriller that airs toward the dark side with a very talented Irish cast.

Who’s in it?

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Killian Scott

Best for…

Fans of scandi dramas.

The Righteous Gemstones – HBO, Out now

What is it?

This comedy series on HBO about a world-famous family of televangelists, who’ve garnered huge success and all the trappings that come with it, thanks to spreading the good word through their megachurches, is a promising premise with lots of potential. Led by the always watchable John Goodman, the preaching patriarch of the family, we encounter the families’ luxury lifestyle all paid for by the baying crowds who fill their football stadium-sized gatherings. Danny McBride, on typical top form, plays one of Goodman’s greedy offspring.

Despite their success, the family are typically dysfunctional and as cracks begin to appear in their home life, and with the devious means by which they accumulate their wealth and the manner of their sin-riddled lifestyle all threatened with exposure by a blackmail plot, there such be plenty of scope for laughs in an industry worthy of ridicule.

Who’s in it?

John Goodman, Danny McBride, Adam Devine.

Best for…

Lovers of Eastbound & Down.

The Mandalorian – Disney+, November 12th

What is it?

This big-budget tv series set in the Star Wars universe, charting the story of a galactic bounty hunter roughly five years after the events of Return of the Jedi and pre the emergence of the First Order as seen in  The Force Awakens, is sure to be a major hit for Disney. It’s in safe hands as well, with Jon Favreau creating, producing and writing, all the things he does so well.

There’s obviously huge scope within the rich and endless landscape of the Star Wars universe and The Mandalorian a shady and mysterious lone bounty hunter operating on the far reaches of the galaxy makes for good storytelling material. The cast is a superb one and if Favreau delivers on his promise to create a show that will be “Star Wars meets Mad Max”, then fans should be in for a treat.

Who’s in it?

Kyle Pacek, Pedro Pascal, Brendan Wayne

Best for…

Star Wars obsessives.

Watchmen – Sky Atlantic, October 21st

What is it?

This original series is set 34 years after the events of the classic comic created by Alan Moore and the movie adaptation by director Zack Snyder. On a scale of one to ten, if the epic trailer release is anything to go by this is an eleven and is set to be the TV release of the year. With a fantastic cast, a big budget and some sumptuous visuals, not to mention an endless story arc to work with, fans of the original groundbreaking novel should be in for a treat.

Set in a contemporary climate with modern-day themes but realised in a fictional alternate world, the series will focus on a terrorist group called the Seventh Cavalry who’ve adopted the Rorschach mask and are targeting police officers. In response, they too have adopted masks and is a symptomatic reflection of the “them and us” prevalent in modern society. Expect a complex and nuanced narrative and a neverending plot maze.

Who’s in it?

Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Best for…

Fans of The Umbrella Academy, The Boys.

Pennyworth – StarzPlay, October

What is it?

The story you never knew you needed to know! Another Batman origin concept from the creators of Gotham, but this time and rather refreshingly it follows the life and times of Alfred Pennyworth, everyone’s favourite butler. Set in a dark and disturbing 60s London, that’s a far cry from the all-swinging, all-dancing image we hold dear, and moreover judging by the themes a place that would swallow the Krays whole, former SAS Soldier Alfred Pennyworth forms his own security company.

Stylistically Pennyworth looks great, much like Gotham, and the landscape makes great fodder a classic spy type thriller, whether the world needs another layer of detail and confusing, complex relationships, how who met who, where, when and why, to add to the growing Batman universe is another matter. But, as a stand-alone vehicle, this has promise, and with London as a playground, there should be much fun to be had. Watch out for a star turn from songstress Paloma Faith.

Who’s in it?

Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, Paloma Faith.

Best for…

Fans of Gotham, Daredevil.

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