Sunday 21 January 2018

New on netflix: Orange - Do you gorge or do you savour?

Orange Is The New Black, Season 4, 13 episodes, Available Friday June 17

Actress Faye Dunaway takes breakfast by the pool with the day’s newspapers at the Beverley Hills Hotel, in March, 1977, the morning after she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for 'Network'. Photo: Terry O'Neill/Getty Images.
Actress Faye Dunaway takes breakfast by the pool with the day’s newspapers at the Beverley Hills Hotel, in March, 1977, the morning after she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for 'Network'. Photo: Terry O'Neill/Getty Images.
PJ Mara was a key figure in Irish politics in the 1980s
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

Netflix doesn't give audience figures - leading to a world of speculation about which shows do well and which don't. But the company has released metrics this week which show which shows we tend to savour and which we binge upon. It considers that an hour and 45 mins per day of watching its shows is "savouring" the series in question, while two and a half hours constitutes a "binge".

Members tend to blow through Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead and are captivated (read: take it a little more slowly) by House of Cards, Narcos, Bloodline and Mad Men. Without doubt one of the series in the binge category is Orange Is The New Black. The show is now a phenomenon, despite what Martha Stewart said this week about it not being as good as the real thing (ie actual incarceration). So what can we expect? Those who did binge on season three will recall that Piper masterminded a dirty underwear empire, smuggling worn knickers out of Litchfield to be sold online to people who are into that kind of thing. Now the success has gone to her head - and it's started an internal battle with the Latina prisoners who take a more prominent role in the new season. Among them are Maria (Jessica Pimentel) and Maritza (Diane Guerrero), whose interesting life stories feature early on. This new season "delves into the racial and economic tensions that run rampant in the halls of Litchfield", and, as ever, the flashback segments are some of Orange Is The New Black's most exciting and entertaining scenes. Set viewing habits to gorge.


Available now, 1977

And then, sometimes, you just have to dial-a-classic. Still, nearly 40 years after its release, this is the best film ever made about journalism in the modern age. It predicts everything about modern media in the 21st Century - from reality TV and YouTube to shock jocks and the tabloid news format. And it did so 20 years before the internet even existed. The plot hinges on an unforgettable scene in which TV news anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) has a mental breakdown while on-air. Ignoring the teleprompter, he breaks into one of the greatest soliloquies of American cinema, a wandering but coherent rant about the banks, crime and unemployment, before finally announcing he will kill himself live on air during the next broadcast. There is uproar amongst the other news networks but one of Beale's own colleagues, Diana (Faye Dunaway) faces the dilemma of whether to harvest Howard's ranting and even death for greater ratings. Dunaway's performance won her the Oscar for best actress and is one of the miracles of modern cinema. She followed it up with Mommy Dearest, which she refused to discuss after it became a camp classic. But she and we will always have this masterpiece.


4 seasons, available now

Set in the high stakes world of US corporate law, Suits is populated by shrewd, nattily attired professionals who exchange acerbic remarks in glassy offices that look out over the Manhattan skyline. It's billed as a legal drama, but the cases don't often get as far as the courtroom. Instead, lawyers try to outfox each other via legal loop-holes, sleight of hand and bluffing their way through big deals in what often looks much like gambling and feels a bit more like House Of Cards meets Mad Men than any of the big screen legal dramas you might imagine it borrowing from. "I don't play the odds," explains leading character Harvey Specter (brilliantly acted by Gabriel Macht). "I play the man." It also has the pedigree of being created and produced by Aaron Korsh who is the man behind a string of big hits, including Everybody Loves Raymond. The new season of Suits airs on America on July 13, so now might be the time to have a look back at the 4 seasons here.

Catch up now

Emily Hourican

PJ Mara: A Legacy

RTE Player, until June 16, season 1, episode 2

Part of the Legacy series, documentaries examining the life and contributions of figures such as Terry Wogan, Tony Ryan and Paida O Se, this is a close look at the Fianna Fail strategist and spin doctor who was first made famous by Dermot Morgan's Scrap Saturday. Witty, engaging, good company, Mara was widely liked by journalists, even those he told to "f**k off," as he occasionally did - although that was usually pretty genial too. In fact, so likeable was he, that he managed to obscure the far less winning sides of, first Charles Haughey, and later, Bertie Ahern. For Mara, all politics was "showtime," and he was very successful in translating this view into his manipulation of Fianna Fail's public image. In analysing Mara's legacy, the documentary includes insights from Paul McGuinness, Sean Duignan - Haughey's original choice of press secretary - and Eamon Dunphy.

Grayson Perry: All Man

Channel 4 On Demand, until June 18

Artist Grayson Perry describes himself as "a lifelong sissy," saying that he has "never felt at ease amongst macho men." For this three-part series, an exploration into what it means, now, to be a man - including confronting the realities of suicide and crime - he throws himself into three very different, very male, environments, beginning with a group of mixed martial arts cage fighters, followed by the Lancashire police force and the men they arrest, and finally, the grand finale, some of London's most successful bankers. In each case, it is Perry's intelligence, curiosity and tolerant humanity that cuts through all the superficial posturing to find the sometimes troubling truth behind these very masculine pursuits. Following his conversations, Perry creates art works in response to what he has learned, and then shows the art to his subjects, for their response. Often, that response is more revealing about them than anything they have said. Fascinating stuff.


Emily Hourican

What I Wore When . . .

This is a podcast mini-series - 10 episodes - put together by Glamour magazine. Designers and editors share their stories of the particular outfit they wore for some of life's most pivotal moments. As with all the best podcasts, this one starts specific, then branches out, to be a series of funny, impressive, touching recollections. There's Ivanka Trump on the dress she wore the night she met her husband-to-be, Cynthia Rowley on the outfit she created for her wedding, the day before it took place, and former child star Ashley Tisdale on her style journey, starting with what she wore for her career-altering audition for The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

You Must Remember This

One to remember for long journeys and lazy holidays. This calls itself "The secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood's first century", and is the brainchild of journalist and author Karina Longworth, who writes, narrates, records and edits each episode, with guest stars including Adam Goldberg, Max Linsky and Mark Olsen. There are episodes on Arthur Miller and the anti- Communist Blacklist, Elizabeth Taylor during her time as an MGM star, beginning when she was a child and ending with some of the best films of her career, including Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, film noir femme fatale Gloria Grahame and her topsy-turvy career, Lana Turner, the 'Sweater Girl' and one of Hollywood's most shocking scandals: the murder of Turner's boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, at the hand of her 14 year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane. Every episode is meticulously researched, lovingly put together, and delivered with verve.

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