Highlights of our TV watching month!
Featuring: Sunderland Til I Die, Tiger King, Unbelievable, Dynamo, Rocketman, Save Me Too, Quiz, Liar 2, The Stranger, Chasing Tyson, Safe, The Split 2, The Nest.
With the country in Lockdown the telly was getting more of a hammering than usual. We decided to subscribe to Netflix again, having first had a play with it a year-or-so ago.
Spare time was against us then, but there was no excuses now so Netflix was ordered and the binge-watching began.
First-up was something I had been looking forward to for a while – Sunderland Til I Die, Series 2. I watched it with my football-mad son having both really enjoying the first series last year.
Released on Wednesday, April 1, the 6-part docu-series, which chronicles Sunderland’s 2018/19 season and the new owners attempts to transform the club – is once again a fascinating watch.
We get to see behind the scenes of the club as they look to book their place back in the second flight of English football.
Particular highlights are the deadline day signing of a star striker and the runs to Wembley in the Cup and Play-Offs with the two stars of the show giving us incredible access to what goes on at a big football club.
Great for all football fans but probably not-so-good if you don’t like the beautiful game. I do though and thought it was superb. Can’t wait for the next one.
Next-up on Netflix was a show that seemed to be getting a few mentions on the socials – The Tiger King
50% documentary, 50% true crime series and, erm, 50% reality TV show and 100% bonkers.
The star of the show Joe Maldonado-Passsage, or Joe Schreibvoge, or just good old Joe Exotic as he would prefer to be known is absolutely mental.
Early on we get to see him in a cage with playing with tigers. At the time I thought that was mad, but that was nothing compared to what we were about to witness.
The Carol Baskin – Joe Exotic rivalry or hatred towards one another is the main storyline througout the 7-parter. Viewers may switch sides throughout between who they prefer or support but in the end Baskin wins their battle with Mr Exotic forced to make his home behind bars for, among other things, plotting her murder. Carol seems much like a female version of Joe, just that she hasn’t been caught yet. I certainly came away from it with some sympathy towards him and a large dose of negativity towards her.
This show is quite possibly the best thing to watch on Netflix right now. Trust me – go see it.
Unbelievable is a decent watch – available as an 8-parter on Netflix. It is a unique crime drama that was released in 2019 and tells the story of how a victim of a serial rapist was let down by the justice system in America.
With a strong female cast this may be one more suited to the ladies yet I still enjoyed it and would happily recommend.
I’d heard that The Stranger was good, so gave it a go – and yes, they were right. It was a good one!
“All was going well in the Price household until a stranger approached Adam and told him a secret that would end up tearing his world apart.”
That secret would also be the main steer of the 8-part show on Netflix yet it wouldn’t be the only the only time the stanger dropped a bombshell on the star-studded cast.
With trademark baseball cap on head our stranger, played superbly by Hannah John-Kamen, popped into Adam’s life, quickly left it, then weaved throughout the show causing chaos. Not every secret seemed to have a reason why it was told leaving the viewer puzzled and intrigued as to why it was said.
Each episode is left with a fascinating cliffhanger meaning this is classic binge-watch material and anyone that extends this for more than a couple of days clearly doesn’t have enough time on their hands.
It is all drawn together in the final episode, making clear sense of what we have seen before while also proving us wrong in how we thought it may turn out.
Safe is a drama series, created by crime author Harlan Coben, that focuses on widowed paediatric surgeon Tom Delaney. Tom is struggling to connect with his two daughters, but after one of them goes missing, he begins uncovering the dark secrets behind the people closest to him.
The 8-part series is on Netflix right now and although it stretches the boundaries of belief at times is plenty watchable.
Away from Netflix we also gave terrestrial TV a good old hammering. No reviews of Eastenders here but the BBC did come up with a decent series in The Nest this month.
A Middle-Class family are not yet complete and unable to concieve themselves they turn to surrogacy but their first big attempt sees a sad ending. A chance encounter leads to another opportunity as Kaya enters the scene.
Over the 5 shows the story weaves in and out of issues surrounding surrogacy with an unpredictable teenager.
The final episode is a real classic and an emotional rollercoaster. No spoilers here but the ending is a tear-jerker and a fitting finale to a decent BBC drama.
On the same channel was a drama set in the fast-paced, messy world of London’s high-end divorce circuit- The Split. This was series 2 and in it we saw that the lawyers dealing with divorce can often have messier love lives than their clients.
One for the ladies again I reckon but once more I watched it and it wsn’t too bad.
Over on ITV we gave Quiz a go. The story of how ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ got cheated out of it’s top prize.
The real-life and infamous coughing scandal took place in the early 2000’s when Major Charles Ingram, his wife Diana, and accomplice Tecwen Whittock allegedly cheated live on air and together stole a million pounds.
I found the storyline very interesting, as could remember a lot of it, but something was missing so it won’t live long in the memory.
Also on the Channel 3 during April was Liar 2.
At the end of the first season of ITV’s Liar, Andrew Earlham was discovered as a serial rapist. Worst still he kept recordings of his crimes in his mother’s shed, which one of his most recent victims Laura Nielson had discovered. An arrest warrant had been issued for Andrew but three weeks later, his body was found in the marshes. Series Two was all about trying to find the murderer and, as expected, the situation was not all black and white.
This 6-part second series is very good with twists and turns a-plenty.
The ending is excellent – and to many a big surprise!
If you have 6 hours spare, go catch up with it. It’s worth it.
On to Sky now and Dynamo: Beyond Belief. A career-threatening arthritis brought on by his Crohn’s disease saw the Bradford-born conjuror, Dynamo, real name Steven Frayne, retreat from the spotlight in 2017. He has now returned and this week on Sky One we got to see his comeback offering ‘Beyond Belief’ – a 3 part series charting his illness whilst also showing us some of his uniqie and impressive magical skills.
I am a big fan of Dynamo, a big fan of magic in general, but I like him especially as he is a bit different to the rest and was concerned a few years back when I heard he was suffering ill-health.
This series gives us exclusive access to Mr Frayne going through his troubled times giving us behind-the-scenes access to his life and his struggles against the awful illnesses cast upon him.
Magic-wise it is the usual Dynamo stuff. My WOW factor comes from the victim’s responses to the tricks and as expected there is plenty to like here. Mainly though this is an update on what he has been through of late and thankfully this 3-parter shos that the worst has passed.
Something we also watched on Sky was Save Me Too.
Back in 2018 Lennie James’s excellent, bleak drama Save Me made a strong impression when it arrived on the Sky Atlantic channel.
James wrote the series and starred superbly as the main character Nelly, a regular in the local pub and ladies’ man whose relaxed approach to life was turned on it’s head when his estranged daughter Jody went missing.
In the search for her Nelly was drawn deeper and deeper into a criminal underworld that eventually led him to discover a grim sex-trafficking ring, distraught victims but ultimately not Jody.
The 6-part series that followed Nelly continues his search for his daughter as he also protects another young victim that has caused the death of one of the kingpin’s of the seedy underworld that is featured.
It is an emotional rollercoaster of a ride with the sometime hard to hear content drawing you in to hoping it all ends well for the key characters in the show.
The final episode ties all the loose ends yet still manages to come up with a great twist that causes your head to nod and leave you with a good feeling.
Very different but very good. One of the best things away from Netflix for sure.
The final mention of the month goes to sports documentary ‘Chasing Tyson’ which is part of the 30 for 30 series on BT Sport.
Being a big boxing fan I was looking forward to this. It is a story that looks at the rise of Evander Holyfield and follows his professional career from the start to World Title then on to the time he got to face his nemisis Mike Tyson, twice.
This is the story of Evander Holyfield – with the aim of showing that he was one of the all-time masters of his art. Yet only one of them got their name in the programme title and it wasn’t the man who had his hand raised twice.
That’s a shame as Holyfield was good, real good – he was the real deal.
He just wasn’t Mike Tyson.
I loved it but it’s definitely one for the boxing aficionados out there.
I also used 2 hours of my time during lockdown to watch Rocketman, the Elton John story that is currently being aired on Sky Movies, and was surprised with myself that I actually quite enjoyed it.
I am fairly familiar with Elton’s work although wouldn’t call myself a fan. I can remember my dad playing his stuff a lot in the 80’s and seem to know the words to most of his big hits. I was expecting it to be watchable but was a bit concerned that it would be too ‘Musical’ for me, with non-stop singing throughout, however it fortunately didn’t sway too far into that style.
The soundtrack is obviously the key thing and hearing the first chords of a classic turns out to be a satisfying feeling. Elton has a great catalogue with many of his songs known by all and it is hard to not sing-along or atleast play the imaginary keyboard on the side of the sofa.
A good biography, with Taron Egerton playing an excellent lead role.
April done. It was a good one with plenty to keep us occupied during lockdown.
Most were for adults only so I will look at featuring kid-friendly picks in the future!