Wednesday 22 November 2017

New on netflix: Getting down with the Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls, Seven seasons, available now

Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls.
Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls.
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

Later this year, Netflix will release the long-awaited Gilmore Girls reunion special, A Year in the Life. Until then, fans can gorge themselves on all seven seasons of the fast-paced, pop-culture-savvy comedy. Fans of Carole King theme songs, intriguingly fraught mother-daughter relationships and fast-paced banter have been having 140-character freak-outs on Twitter all month and with good reason.

On paper, Gilmore Girls sounds simple enough: the show is about a mother who got pregnant at 16, and now 16 years later, the daughter is in high school and she and her mother are more like friends.

Despite its intelligence, it's not a methodically-paced drama like, say, Mad Men, but it also doesn't burn through narratives and recycle them the way so many other binge-ready series do. In the best possible way, Gilmore Girls feels almost like one long indie movie. We live in a reboot culture - Fuller House, Twin Peaks, a six-part miniseries for The X Files - so it was time that this much-loved series got its due.

Star Trek

Three seasons, available now

The latest big-screen Star Trek instalment, Star Trek Beyond, is a few weeks away, but Netflix have a treat for those who can't wait to go on another intergalactic voyage with Captain Kirk and Spock. Our version of the streaming service has just added all three seasons of the original Star Trek TV series to its catalogue. The iconic sci-fi series from Gene Roddenberry originally aired from 1966, and now all 79 episodes are available to watch. To add to the nostalgia, both seasons of Star Trek: The Animated Series, which feature the original cast's voices, are available for streaming too. Also available are some of the franchise's big screen adventures. And if all of that doesn't scratch your geek itch, we submit it wasn't there in the first place.


Available from Friday

This is a period drama without the sleepy pace we might associate with that genre. It centres around William Murray (Tom Wilkinson), the British Lord Chief Justice who made the deliberate killing of black slaves legal in the infamous 1783 Zong massacre case (the inspiration for Turner's iconic painting, The Slave Ship). Unbeknownst to most, Murray also had an adopted African daughter, Belle, whom he raised as a member of the English aristocracy. The upper classes see her as either a scandal or a curio: she can't dine with her family when visitors come, and the only dark faces around her are painted in oil - servant boys and girls in the margins of other people's portraits. Beneath the primness of the setting, this is a gripping meditation on race, class and aristocratic hypocrisy and Gugu Mbatha-Raw deeply deserved her Best Actress Bafta win for her performance in the title role.

The Invitation

Available from July 8

If you agree to go to a dinner party, the worst that can happen would usually be bad food and maybe a little stilted conversation. At the beginning of The Invitation, it's clear that Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is reluctantly attending a dinner hosted by an ex (Tammy Blanchard) and her husband. But, when he and his wife (played by Emayatzy Corinealdi) arrive, the movie settles into Big Chill mode, with amusing talk about old times, music and huge tables full of food. So why does Will remain so ill at ease? Director Karen Kusama gets back to the small-scale, the personal, the indie of her first film, 2000's Girlfight, with this chillingly crafted portrait of quietly menacing uncertainty: has Will picked up on a simmering danger that none of the other dinner guests have noticed, or is it all in his head?

The story, which works completely within the realm of psychological suspense for almost 90 minutes, takes a vicious and unexpected turn at the end. Kusama handles that shift well, keeping the action plausible and emotionally grounded and all the more frightening for that. Definitely worth a look.

Catch up now

The Queen's Mother-in-Law

Channel4 On Demand, until July 11

One reviewer dubbed this "a story so amazing it almost makes you forgive Prince Philip." High praise indeed! Philip's mother, Alice of Battenberg, was part-German, part-British, and married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, although the couple were kicked out of Greece with their five children following the Greco-Turkish war. However, before that, Alice, who was deaf, went mad and was committed to an asylum by her own mother, where Sigmund Freud recommended X-raying her ovaries in order to precipitate menopause, which he thought would cure her. Later - less mad - she returned to Greece and helped rescue Jews from the Nazis then occupying the country. Later again she became a nun and was reunited with her son, Philip, by then married to Elizabeth and living in Buckingham Palace, where Alice came to live.

Interview with a Murderer

Channel4 On Demand, until July 12

THE murder of 13-year-old Carl Bridgewater in 1978 has never been solved. Carl was a paperboy who, while doing his rounds, stumbled upon a robbery at Yew Tree Farm in Staffordshire, and was shot in the head at close range. The police came under heavy pressure to solve the case, and four men were duly charged and convicted. Two decades later their convictions were overturned and they were freed. All along, a fifth man, Bert Spencer, a convicted murderer (he shot and killed a 70-year-old neighbour), was mentioned as a possible suspect, but never charged. Spencer has always maintained his innocence. Here, he allows himself to be interviewed by criminologist David Wilson, in a series of encounters that are perfectly pitched - serious, low-key, never sensationalist. At one stage, Wilson subjects him to a P-scan, otherwise known as the "psychopath test", and concludes, with admirable restraint, that Spencer is "a liar," saying, "The kindly old grandfather figure… that's your shtick, Bert." Absorbing, and more than slightly chilling.

- Emily Hourican


WTF With Marc Maron


MARC Maron has been pushing the boundaries of stand-up comedy for over 20 years, writing and performing his own very raw, very honest material on stage and on TV, with shows including David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Charlie Rose and Conan O'Brien. In 2009 he started WTF, a series of sharp, often confrontational, always revelatory conversations with a wide range of people such as Robin Williams, Keith Richards, Ben Stiller and Barack Obama. There are now almost 750 episodes, and counting, each one remarkable for its insight into the life and mind of the interviewee. Recently, Neil Young talked candidly about his life, family, friends and new album, while Susan Sarandon spoke about trying to evolve as an actor, and revealed how Bernie Sanders restored her faith in humanity.

Shakespeare Retold


ONE for slightly older and rather literary kids, although the stories are easily gripping enough to appeal to any child keen on What Happened Next . . . Ten of Shakespeare's most famous plays are used as inspiration for original tales by writers including Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Pamela Butchart and Jamila Gavin, read by actors such as Simon Callow, Shirley Henderson and Julian Rhind-Tutt. So there is Hamlet Lives Forever, Ol'Fella, based on Othello, All For a Pound of Flesh, based on The Merchant of Venice; each with a new and interesting angle on the original play. Each story is 15 minutes long, with plenty of bonus material, including short interviews with each writer and teachers' notes.

- Emily Hourican

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