LOADS of people are excited about the return of Doctor Who this week.
As a non-Whovian, I was excited at the prospect of a new season that required no pre-knowledge of the show, so I could check out the new, kick-arse female Doctor without the fear of going “huh?” every few moments.
It’s pretty great, by the way — especially if you’re looking for an adventure story you can share with your kids.
There’s actually quite a bit on this week and with the rain deciding to settle in across most of the country for the next week and temperatures in Sydney apparently forgetting we’re midway through spring, you may as well forget about those extra daylight hours and just give in to your couch.
(Nine — Wednesday, October 10 at 8.30pm, then 9Now)
Manifest is the highest-rating new US series and it actually has a pretty intriguing hook. Almost 200 passengers and crew board a plane in Jamaica, bound for New York. After one turbulent episode, when they finally land in NYC, they’re surrounded by flashing lights and scurrying federal agents.
That’s when one of the men in black tells them, they boarded their flight in April 2013 and it’s now 2018, they’ve been missing and presumed dead for five and a half years. Not one of the people on the plane has aged a day.
It’s aiming to be a high-concept series in the vein of Lost, The Leftovers, The 4400 and The Returned, a drama dealing with the fall-out of what happened to that plane and how these people fit back into the lives that moved on without them.
But despite its promise, it devolves into cheesy sentimentality a la Touched by An Angel with its maybe-explanation of whose hand was behind the incident. Oh, and some of the people on the flight now have special powers where they hear voices and sounds that help them save people. What a waste.
(ABC — Monday, October 8 at 5.55pm, on iview now)
It’s a new era for the iconic, long-running British sci-fi series. A new Doctor, in the form of a woman, and a new writing team with an almost-blank slate to really make their mark — so anyone can jump into Doctor Who without the weight of 55 years of TV history to contend with.
Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) as the Thirteenth Doctor has an amazing energy — at times manic, at times nurturing and, at all times, really likeable. “Oh, brilliant” were the first words the new Doctor uttered and “oh, brilliant” is exactly what Whittaker is going to be.
The first episode involved a Hershey’s Kiss-shaped alien pod, a sky-high fight across two cranes and, of course, meeting the new companions.
(ABC — Sunday, October 14 at 8.30pm, then iview)
The secret US spy base in the middle of the Northern Territory outback has been the subject of rumours and speculation since its inception — just what are the Americans up to? This new ABC-Netflix collaboration is a scripted drama set at the elusive outpost, centred on a group of intelligence officers, both Australian and American.
One day on shift, they pick up a rogue missile being launched at a civilian plane from near the Bangladesh and Myanmar border, a few clicks from where the US president is attending APEC. But it’s too late, the missile blows the plane out of the sky. Who’s responsible and is there a threat from within their ranks?
(Amazon Prime Video — Friday, October 12)
Mad Men creator Matt Weiner’s new series premieres this week, but unlike other Amazon Prime original shows, we’re not going to get the full drop at once, rather a week-by-week drip. The Romanoffs is an anthology series based around people who believe they’re the descendants of the famed, tragic Russian royal family.
It’s an expensive TV show at $70 million for the eight-episode season but the budget appears to at least be well-spent with amazing location shots and an incredible cast including Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Kerry Bishe, Isabelle Huppert, Aaron Eckhart, Diane Lane and John Slattery.
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: LIVE IN LONDON
(The Comedy Channel on Foxtel — Tuesday, October 9 at 8.30pm, then Foxtel Now)
It’s been far too long since we had some melodic, comedic Kiwi gold from the Flight of the Conchords duo. Filmed during their sold-out UK tour, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie promise to make you wee your pants (just a little) with their new tunes alongside some classics.
(BBC First on Foxtel and Fetch — Wednesday, October 10 at 8.30pm, then Foxtel Now)
There has been no shortage of adaptations of William Thackeray’s social satire about orphan Becky Sharp, denounced as an ambitious social climber but a very clever one — not a trait that rewards women in 19th century England, against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.
This new, lush BBC adaptation stars Ready Player One actor Olivia Cooke as it follows Becky through high society in London, the court of the King and the Battle of Waterloo as she schemes her way into the hearts and wallets of people “above her station”.
(Netflix — Wednesday, October 10 from 6pm AEDT)
The July 22, 2008 attack in Norway was the worst act of violence in the nation since World War II. When far-right fanatic Anders Breivik set off a bomb in Oslo and then drove 40km north of the city to a youth camp and opened fire, killing 69 children, it was utterly shocking.
After his capture, his extreme anti-immigration rhetoric seemed so anathema to Western democracies around the world then, but in the decade since the incident, it has snuck into mainstream political discourse.
Perhaps this is why American director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) chose to make this movie at this time. The film, which is released on Netflix this week, was made with a Norwegian cast and crew, albeit in English, and it is a stunning work of the attack, the aftermath and the trial. It’s a properly chilling film.
(Stan — Wednesday, October 10)
Positioned as a cross between Friday Night Lights, The OC and The Blind Side, this new series from mega producer Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Riverdale) is inspired by the real story of football star Spencer Paysinger.
All American follows a gifted player from a disadvantaged school in South Central LA who’s recruited to play for the ritzier Beverly Hills High. It’s a culture clash with two very different families and worlds threatening to collide.
THE WALKING DEAD S9
(Fox Showcase on Foxtel — Monday, October 8 at 7.30pm, then Foxtel Now)
Bye, Rick Grimes. Every fan knows by now that The Walking Dead’s leading man, Andrew Lincoln, is signing off after the latest batch of episodes. As one of the few original cast members remaining, his exit as the zombie-killing hero is a massive deal for the long-running undead series.
Lincoln has already finished filming his run of episodes and was emotional over the weekend at New York Comic Con, farewelling fans — “Don’t make me cry, guys!” — so the only question that remains is how will he go? As a human with a semi-happy ending, as a human with no more miles left or as one of the legion of undead?