Friday 19 January 2018

New on Netflix: Gettin' silly in Philly and a bit serious with Venus

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia - From today, 11 seasons

Danny De Vito (right) cheers on a pal in a drinking game in eposide one of season 11 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'.
Danny De Vito (right) cheers on a pal in a drinking game in eposide one of season 11 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'.
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

Last month saw the announcement that this series has been renewed for not one but two more seasons, 13 and 14, vying for the record of longest-running live-action comedy in television history with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which ran from 1952 to 1966.

Not bad for a concept that started out life on as a home movie shot on a camcorder. It's now set to run all the way up to 2019. But before all that there is season 11 to get through, which has already aired to critical acclaim in the US. It centres on the usual gang of self-centred, sociopathic eejits who only wish to better their own standing in life regardless of who they have to step on. Set in 'Paddy's Pub' in South Philadelphia, the show stars series creators and executive producers Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney. Also starring are Kaitlin Olson as Sweet Dee, and Danny DeVito (yes that Danny DeVito) as Frank Reynolds. Last season, the gang crushed Wade Boggs' cross-country flight drinking record, killed Mac's dad, and started a cult. This season, they get involved in even more interesting adventures including a move to the suburbs, shooting a dirty film, defending themselves in court, and playing another deranged round of the legendary board game, Chardee MacDennis.

Grace and Frankie

Available now, 1 season

NOTHING ages as badly as comedy, but there are exceptions. In Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda (Grace) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie) reunite after their success on 9-5. They star as two women whose lives are changed forever when their husbands reveal they are gay and leave them for each other. Both frenemies and partners-in-crime, Grace and Frankie form an unlikely (one is kind of hippy dippy, while the other is a type-A Wasp) and unbreakable bond and face their uncertain futures with bravery and wit. Together with their ex-husbands and children, they discover the true definition of "family," with laughter, tears and plenty of mood enhancers along the way. It's a bit like Beaches (and indeed there is a scene where they wallow in their angst on a beach), with a dash of Sensitive Skin. Tomlin and Fonda turn in two career-defining performances.

Venus and Serena

Available now

Serena Williams has long since moved on from being a mere sports star and taken her place in the celebrity firmament alongside friends like Beyonce and Drake. But of course her legend was forged on tennis courts. This documentary film looks back at the career of the world number one and her sister, back to their days on the glass-strewn courts of Compton, California, right up to the top of the world game. As you would probably expect it's a little bit of a hagiography and there's lots of things glossed over (what really induced their parents' split, for instance and why is the father no longer court side?). There are some quietly jaw-dropping moments - at one point, Venus talks about how, as a Jehovah's Witness, she believes that a woman should be submissive in marriage and explains that her solution is to not get married. The talking heads are also impressive: Anna Wintour and Bill Clinton amongst them.

Frankie Boyle: Hurt Like You've Never Been Loved

Available now

FRANKIE Boyle's Guardian columns are consistently must-reads, but his standup is even better. This latest show doesn't hold back on the savage one-liners, but places them within a greater context than before. The world is a lonely, cruel place, and his biting jokes are more honest about that than any political soft-soaping. The show is only an hour long, but it's packed with purposeful provocation and first-rate comedy. The laughter is heightened by that sense of transgression Boyle does so well.

Catch up now

Emily Hourican

The Many Lives Of Kevin McGeever

RTE Player, until May 12

The appearance of Kevin McGeever, wandering in a state of confusion and disarray, in January 2013, looking, according to the woman who found him, like an "underfed elf", and telling tales of abduction and forced imprisonment, has to be one of the all-time bizarre episodes in Irish life. The property developer had been missing for months, and claimed to have been held in an underground prison by an armed gang. After a six-week garda investigation, he then admitted he had made the whole thing up in order to throw off his creditors. This is the story of his most peculiar life and times.

The Job Lot

UTV Player, until May 16, episode one, season one

This six-part comedy series is now into its third season on ITV, so here's a chance to catch up from the very start. Set in a busy job centre in the fictitious town of Brownall, in the West Midlands, this is written by Claire Downes, Stuart Lane and Ian Jarvis.

Harassed job centre staff navigate their way through various challenges, including difficult clients, social problems and personal issues. Here, manager Trish has a world-of-work seminar to run, the temp is late, and difficult employee Angela returns, fresh from winning a tribunal.


Channel4 On Demand, episode one

Police drama series co-created by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and set in London. The narrative switches between cops on the street, senior members of the Metropolitan Police Service and the PR department of Scotland Yard, whose job it is to manage the public image and counteract any fallout from specific incidents. An American PR expert, played by Brit Marling, has been head-hunted by the commissioner, played by James Nesbitt, but to the irritation of senior management. An interesting combination of humour and seriousness, as the demands of PR conflict with the necessities of operations.

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