5 GOLD RINGS (TVNZ OnDemand)
Former Shazam! host Phillip Schofield is back on New Zealand screens with this UK game show which pits two teams of two against one another. They must use the eponymous rings on an interactive LED floor to answer a sequence of pictorial questions.
“The longer they last, the smaller their rings become, making the challenge more difficult. There’s £25,000 for the winning team and, sadly, nothing at all for the losers,” wrote The Guardian’s Hannah Verdier. “Imagine the innuendo that would ensue if [former British Bake Off hosts] Mel and Sue were presenting this new hi-tech gameshow.”
LONG WAY UP (APPLE TV+)
Having motorcycled round the globe from London to New York and down from John o’ Groats to Cape Town, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are now taking on a potentially even tougher challenge. A three month, 13,000km trip featuring 13 countries and 16 border crossings as they make their way from Argentina’s Ushuaia to Los Angeles.
To add exponentially to the degree of difficulty, not only are the pair now much older (Boorman having also suffered two significant bike accidents in recent years), but they are desperate to complete their mission on electric motorbikes. Problem is, such vehicles are only at the prototype stage, not nearly capable of completing their target of 180 miles a day without charging at least twice. With so much interesting territory to cover, green technology to test and celebrity anecdotes to both retell and create, this is an engaging, entertaining and enlightening trip well worth tagging along for.
* November’s top TV: Netflix’s The Crown, Neon’s A Teacher, TVNZ’s Roadkill
* The Queen’s Gambit: Why you have to check out Netflix’s mesmerising chess drama
* The Haunting of Bly Manor: Netflix’s Hill House follow-up fails to fire
* Taskmaster NZ: Kiwi comedians, TVNZ prove up to hit UK show’s challenge
Move is now streaming on Netflix.
Five-part documentary series that takes a look at some of the dancers and choreographers who are shaping the art of movement around the world. Those highlighted include street dancers Jon Boogz, Lil Buck, Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, Flamenco dancer Israel Galvan and Jamaican dancehall specialist Kimiko Versatile.
“You don’t have to be a dance fanatic to enjoy Move. It will introduce you to forms of dance that you likely haven’t seen beyond brief YouTube videos, and the great stories behind the dancers and choreographers who have brought these forms to the mainstream,” wrote Decider’s Joel Keller.
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (NETFLIX)
Emma’s Anya Taylor-Joy stars in this seven-part drama based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name.
It’s the story of orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon, who struggled with addiction from an early age in trying to achieve her quest to become a Grandmaster. The cast also includes Bill Camp and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
“With production values that compare with anything on television this year, a performance at the centre that never falters, and the kind of rich storytelling more common to literature than television, this is one of the most consistently entertaining and impressive shows of 2020,” wrote The Playlist’s Brian Tallerico.
TASKMASTER NZ (TVNZ ONDEMAND)
Leigh Hart, Angella David, Brynley Stent, Madeleine Sami and Guy Williams are the five Kiwi comedians lined-up for this local spinoff of the hit British panel show. Their diverse backgrounds pay almost immediate dividends, as viewers are treated to a range of approaches to the various challenges.
With plenty of frenetic fun, no little artistic skills, the occasional memorable one-liner and a final task that actually has practical applications for the general public, Taskmaster NZ is off to a terrific start. From just the opening episode, you’ll learn that cocktails don’t need liquid or alcohol, you should never underestimate the power of gluten-free bread and that you might just need to put an hour aside for the next few weeks.
TRUTH SEEKERS (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Nick Frost, Malcolm McDowell and Simon Pegg star in this eight-part series that revolves around a group of part-time paranormal investigators who team up to uncover and film ghost sightings across the UK, sharing their adventures for all to see.
However, as they stake out haunted churches, underground bunkers and abandoned hospitals with their array of homemade ghost-detecting gizmos, their supernatural experiences grow more frequent, more terrifying and even deadly. “A fun, funny recasting of Mulder and Scully with ramshackle Englishmen,” wrote Empire magazine’s Ian Freer.
THE UNDOING (NEON)
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant play a New York-based couple whose lives are thrown into turmoil when the mother of one of their son’s schoolmates is found murdered. Abundantly filled with twists and turns, this six-part adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 tale You Should Have Known offers plenty of opportunities for David E. Kelley, the former The Practice and Boston Legal showrunner, to skewer America’s “injustice” and class system, as well as create memorable characters and shocking scenarios that will have desperate for the next episode in this six-parter to drop (yes, you’ll have to wait if you want to bingewatch).
UTOPIA (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
As with the short-lived, but much-loved 2013-14 British version, this is the story of a group of comic-book fans-cum-conspiracy-theorists who believe a graphic novel predicted several disastrous global epidemics.
Smartly adapted and updated by Gone Girl and Sharp Objects scribe Gillian Flynn, this begins with a young couple who uncover a copy of a sequel in a house they’ve inherited and decide to auction it off at a conference. But amongst the collectors, the obsessives and our heroes, there are also those determined to get their hands on it for more nefarious purposes and to ensure that anyone who has even had a glimpse at a page can never divulge its secrets.
Funny, violent and boasting both John Cusack (in a rare TV turn) and a weaponised disease premise that feels troublingly resonant in our current pandemic times, Utopia is far more than just this generation’s Heroes.