Monday 23 October 2017

Watch and listen: April is not the cruellest month on Netflix

New on Netflix...

Kim Cattrall stars as Davina, a woman embroiled in her mid-life crisis, in Sensitive Skin.
Kim Cattrall stars as Davina, a woman embroiled in her mid-life crisis, in Sensitive Skin.
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

A choice of the best offerings from Netflix, the TV to catch up on and the podcasts you should be listening to.

Frankie Boyle: Hurt Like You've Never Been Loved

Available from April 1

April is the cruellest month, wrote TS Eliot, but then he didn't have the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Ranch (which comes from the writers of Two and Half Men) to look forward to. Before that, the streaming service kicks off April Fool's Day with a serious glut of new content. The most appropriate, given the day, might be Frankie Boyle's Hurt Like You've Never Been Loved. The Scottish comedian's Guardian pieces have become compulsive reading over the last year and the tour from which this programme is culled won rave reviews last autumn.

His nihilistic one-liners and scabrous observations also caused controversy. And for those who took offence, Boyle had this message: "You can't argue with a joke - it's like telling a clown their car won't pass its MOT."

Deep Web

From March 31

It's not totally clear if it's the intention of Alex Winter to carve out a niche for himself as the chief oracle of the digital age, but it looks like that's what he's doing. In 2012, he released Downloaded, a look at how Napster and file-sharing have changed the music business and the perception of copyright, but that's just the tip of the iceberg of how computers and the internet have changed things.

Winter's latest, Deep Web, tackles ideas of privacy, intelligence and law enforcement in the tech age through the story of the man, who may or may not be the most prolific drug trafficker in history.

The title refers to a wide chunk of the internet that is hidden underneath all the kitten videos, viral clips and other nonsense that makes up the internet as we know it, or what the computer people call "the surface web". Onto the Deep Web came a service called the Silk Road, an eBay for all manner of nefarious goods and services including illegal drugs. Well worth a look.

Sensitive Skin: Season 1

Available from April 1, six episodes

After her career-defining turn as Samantha in Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall could easily have just resigned herself to being typecast forever more.

But instead, a couple of years ago, she gamely reinvented herself as a married woman who grapples with the vicissitudes of the menopause in this remake of the original Hugo Blick drama, which starred Joanna Lumley.

This series, which has been shown both on HBO and Channel 4, aims for something both broader and more elusive than jokes about wrinkles. Davina is unhappy but she doesn't know why; she's reaching for something but she doesn't know what.

When her co-worker at the art gallery where she works spots her new hairdo, he predicts that a fully developed mid-life crisis is trailing not far behind, complete with an affair with a younger man and a divorce.

"I'm not going to leave Al," Davina says. "I've been married to him for 30 years - we have a son, we have a vintage Jag. I'm not going to leave all that."

We love that the son and the vintage jag went in the same sentence. Very Samantha.

Suits, Season 4

Available April 1, 10 episodes

Of course fans of this legal drama series are mostly already in a tizzy about season six but for this April Netflix releases season four in its entirety.

It sees Mike, a banker, beginning to work for investment banker Jonathan Sidwell.

The problem is that Mike is bad at his banker job because he is a financier with a soul and therefore can't bring himself to screw the poor rich people over (see what we mean? Purest fantasy.)

This season marked the point at which the show began to move slightly away from topical commentary on financial institutional failings and returned to a focus on more purely personal stories - and it was richer for it.

Catch up now

Emily Hourican

Doctor Thorne

UTV Player, Episode 3, ends tonight

If you missed the concluding part of Julian Fellowes's adaptation of Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne last week, here's a last chance to catch it. The excellent cast - Rebecca Front, Richard McCabe, Stefanie Martini and Tom Hollander (slightly confusing for those of us who have also been watching him on Channel 4 as the fantastic Corky in The Night Manager) - do their best with what is a fairly predictable script (who didn't spot the grand finale five minutes into episode one?). But for fans of costume drama, bonnets, heaving bosoms and icy stares, this does the job nicely. We have Sir Louis behaving abominably and threatening to call in the Gresham's debt, while Mary Thorne is impeccable as ever in the face of yet another attempt to persuade her to give Frank up and allow him to make the kind of wordly match required.

Amy

Channel4 On Demand, until March 28

This was very controversial on release because of the way it portrays Amy Winehouse's father, Mitch, and his relationship with the singer and her addictions. However, despite a suggestion of finger-pointing, the main substance is the remarkable footage of Amy - as a child, a teenager, in the recording studio, in the back of various taxis on her way to and from gigs, on holiday, at the Grammys, and the later, tragic, concert footage where she is unable to perform or even stand up. Watching her change from a round-face girl, become thinner, more disorientated and dislocated, and everywhere menaced by thousands of flash-bulbs and paparazzi, makes for sad, sobering but fascinating viewing.

Trapped

RTE Player, season 1, episode 1, until March 30

Last chance for the first episode of this Icelandic drama that is ticking all the right Scandi-Noir boxes. A heavy blizzard isolates a small, remote town just as a murder investigation is beginning.

Podcasts

Emily Hourican

Song Exploder

www.songexploder.net

For music-lovers and the culturally curious. Started in January 2014 and added to consistently since - there are now 68 episodes - Vulture magazine called this "probably the best use of the podcast format ever." Here, musicians take apart their songs, breaking them down bit by bit, and explain exactly how they were made. The picture that emerges is both broad and narrow, from detailed technical explanations, to the more nebulous notion of inspiration. Artists include Iggy Pop on American Valhalla - don't miss that one - Ghostface Killah, U2 (who break down Cedarwood Road), The National and Joey Bada$$. A pleasingly eclectic bunch.

This American Life

www.thisamericanlife.org

The most popular podcast in America most weeks, and for good reason. Roughly two million people download each episode of what is an intelligent, entertaining, accurate reflection of life today. A whizzed-up combination of hard journalism, thoughtful analysis, financial know-how, comedy and longer essays, this is the show that has spawned a heap of excellent spin-offs. Each episode is themed, some overtly political, some more light-hearted, and there are now hundreds available in the online archive. Try the fascinating When The Beasts Come Marching In - an exploration of unexpected animal encounters - Sinatra's 100th Birthday, or the hard-hitting The Night In Question, about the assassination 20 years ago of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and its possible impact on the country. This is the point where the inability of constantly breaking news to provide any meaningful understanding of events becomes very apparent.

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