From a bizarre reality TV show to a chilling docuseries about a crime wave that still demands answers, there’s a bevy of choices this week – plus some older favourites.
SOMETHING WITH FUR-FRIENDS
The Pack: It sounds ludicrous on paper, but it’s so bizarre it may actually work.
The Pack is basically The Amazing Race but with dogs – well, owners and their dogs. The teams go on a globetrotting competition with challenges like abseiling down a waterfall with their pups attached.
Admit it, that sounds like a ridiculous concept. But people also build Lego and play mini-golf on TV these days.
Usually, the particular brand of earnestness you find on competition shows (“I just want to prove to myself that I can do this”) would be nauseating but surely people talking about their bonds with their fur-babies has to be so pure.
Of course, the fact that it’s American and from Amazon elevates its production values so expect that money to be splashed all over the screen, where one episode probably cost more than an entire season of an Australian reality series. Especially as it includes visits to Costa Rica, Vienna, Florence, London, Paris and Switzerland. Doesn’t seem like anyone has scrimped here.
The trailer alone is enough to make you give your dog big hugs (and lots of treats).
Watch it: Amazon Prime Video, from Friday, November 20
Pick of the Litter: While we’re on the subject of very good doggos, this documentary about a litter of would-be guide dog puppies is so emotional, and proof that humanity is worth saving. Five dogs are born and over the next 18 months, they’re fostered by families and go through vigorous training to assess whether they’re suitable to help a vision-impaired person live a freer life. There’s also a spin-off series on Disney+ if you feel you need to gobble up all the dog content. Watch it: DocPlay/Stan
RELATED: Full review for Pick of the Litter
Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: Between 1979 and 1981, more than 30 African-American children and young people disappeared in Atlanta. Many of them were found murdered. A 23-year-old man was later convicted of the killing of two adults while linked to the deaths of 10 of the dead children even though many of the cases were never properly investigated. This five-part docuseries looks at the racial dynamics of a city gripped by fear and why true justice was never achieved for these victims and their families. Watch it: Binge/Foxtel Now, from Monday, November 23
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Mindhunter: David Fincher’s riveting crime series spent most of season two examining the Atlanta child murders, delving deep into the traumatising effect on local communities and their frustrations with how the investigation – or lack of one – is being run. It’s an exploration of institutionalised racism in that even victims are treated differently because of who they are. The second series is also a rich character tapestry for the series’ three leads whose lives outside of the FBI become more pivotal to the story. Watch it: Netflix
Shameless plug alert: I will be in conversation with Mindhunter’s Anna Torv for the AACTA Screen Fest, where she will share her experiences working on the series. Tickets for the virtual festival are free and the Mindhunter session is on December 1 – register now
Palm Springs: Probably the freshest and most charming romantic comedy since The Big Sick, this is a movie that will make you laugh, make you love and make you think really hard about how time loops and potentially multiverses work. Andy Samberg plans a man stuck repeating the same day (a la Groundhog Day), living a disconnected, existential life until Cristin Millioti’s Sarah is accidentally pulled into the loop with him. Brilliant. Watch it: Amazon Prime Video from Friday, November 20
Celeste and Jesse Forever: For another Andy Samberg-starring rom-com that offers something different to the usual meet-cute, this 2012 film pairs him with Rashida Jones, who co-wrote the movie with Will McCormack. Jesse and Celeste are an on-again-and-off-again couple that continuously find themselves in each other’s lives despite an amicable break-up. It’s a more nuanced take on relationships than your regular rom-com fare. Watch it: iTunes/Google Play
SOMETHING WITH FAMILY LOVE
Fresh Prince Reunion Special: This is one for those who like their nostalgia heartstrings plucked. Will Smith gathers his Fresh Prince family – including both Aunt Vivs! – in a taped reunion special that will feature reminiscences and hopefully a Carlton dance or two. It’s not a sequel episode but a hang with familiar faces. Watch it: Stan, from Thursday, November 19
Kim’s Convenience: There’s something about Canadian comedies at the moment. Maybe it’s because they’re less brash than their American cousins south of the border, or maybe it’s because their sense of humour is a bit more deadpan. Or maybe it’s because they don’t think universal healthcare is an evil socialist plot – who knows? With four seasons under its belt, Kim’s Convenience is centred on a Korean-Canadian family running a corner shop in Toronto. It’s a classic family sitcom in many ways, right down to its high-comfort factor. Watch it: Netflix
His Dark Materials S2: That HBO budget is splashed all over the screen on this expensive and expansive fantasy series adapted from Philip Pullman’s novels. With a cast that includes Logan’s Dafne Keene (James McAvoy will not appear in season two but is expected to return later down the track), it’s an ambitious series about a young girl in a magical world (or that’s actually magical worlds) who, in this season, will meet a young boy named Will only to find out their fates are entwined. Watch it: Binge/Foxtel Now*
Constantine: Nominated by Keanu Reeves himself as the character he would most like to play again, Constantine is a wild, over-the-top fantasy about damned souls, demons, angels and exorcists. But its hyper-stylised visuals and a cast that also includes Tilda Swinton, Rachel Weisz and Peter Stormare, Constantine is a sensory experience that always excites. Watch it: Netflix
RELATED: Nine essential Keanu Reeves movies
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