While fantasy fans await the big prequel showdown between Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings spin-off The Rings of Power and HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of Dragons, lovers of Stranger Things-style 1980s sci-fi/horror nostalgia have something new to chew on.
Paper Girls (Amazon Prime) is based on a comic book series about a group of newspaper delivery girls who get caught up with time travellers and find themselves catapulted from 1988 to 2019, where they encounter their disappointing older selves.
That old psychological thriller standby, amnesia, rears its confused head again in Surface (Apple TV+), an eight-parter starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman who tried to kill herself four months earlier, but now can’t remember why, or indeed much else about her past life.
With new streaming series now appearing at the rate of several a week, here’s two that arrived in recent days and are worth catching up with.
Under the Banner of Heaven (Disney+, since Wednesday) is based on a non-fiction book about the 1984 murder of Brenda Lafferty, who belonged to a Mormon family, and her baby daughter. Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Brenda and Andrew Garfield is the (fictional) detective Jeb Pyre, himself a devout Mormon, whose faith is rattled by the investigation. It unfolds over three timelines.
The six-part Light & Magic (Disney+, since Wednesday) is a glorious, star-packed celebration of the work of Industrial Light & Magic, the company George Lucas formed when he couldn’t find anyone to create the special effects he wanted for Star Wars. A must for those of us who love seeing what goes on behind the curtain.
After a tsunami of media coverage that was way out of proportion to the popularity of its subject, it’s finally time for the hour-long finale of Neighbours (Channel 5, 1.45pm, repeated at 6pm and 9pm).
Since 5 isn’t available as standard on any satellite provider, you’ll have to add it manually if you can — or wait till the episode shows up no RTÉ2 next Wednesday.
As everyone must know by now, former cast members Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce, Natalie Imbruglia and, via a segment recorded in the US, Margot Robbie will be popping by Ramsay Street.
There’s a strong whiff of The White Lotus coming off The Resort (Peacock), an eight-part black comedy about a disgruntled married couple (Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper) who check into a luxury holiday complex and get drawn into a 15-year-old mystery.
Nobody was more surprised or delighted than Kate Bush when her 37-year-old song Running Up That Hill raced to the top of the charts after featuring heavily in Stranger Things. No better excuse, then, for an evening delving into the Kate Bush Archive (BBC2, from 8pm).
There’s a compilation of her appearances on the Beeb between 1978 and 2011 (8pm), a 2014 documentary (9pm) with contributors including Elton John and David Gilmour, who was instrumental in nursing Bush’s talent and launching her career, and finally, a 1979 BBC stage performance (10pm) with her friend Peter Gabriel joining her for a couple of songs
Television nostalgia is on the menu in the repeated The Fight for Saturday Night (BBC4, 7pm), Michael Grade’s winning 2014 look at the sometimes vicious light entertainment battle between the BBC and ITV from the 1970s through to the the 90s.
The documentary kicks off a night of vintage programmes: a 1993 edition of The Generation Game (8.30pm), The Two Ronnies Sketchbook (9.30pm) from 2005, and the 2004 documentary Remember the Secret Policeman’s Ball? (10.30pm), featuring reminiscences about the Amnesty International concerts from members of the original line-up, including Rowan Atkinson and the Pythons, plus lots of wonderful clips.
THIS column generally avoids mentioning sport, purely for reasons of space, but we’re making an exception for England v Germany in the Women’s Euro 2022 Final (RTÉ2 & BBC1, 4pm).
Featuring the two best teams in the competition, it’s a fitting end to what’s been a tournament and an example of football the way it should be played: no playacting, posing or preening for the camera, just skill, honesty, passion and commitment. The quality of the football has been matched by the quality of RTÉ’s coverage.
And speaking of RTÉ, to my enormous embarrassment, I discovered only after reviewing Australian drama The Newsreader (BBC2, 9pm & 9.55pm) on Monday that the whole series is available on the RTÉ Player. Hands up, head down, my bad!
Anyway, it’s engaging stuff with an authentic 80s flavour that wears its period trappings lightly and seamlessly weaves in big stories of the time (in this week’s double bill it’s exoneration of Lindy Chamberlain in the “Dingo baby” case).
In an otherwise thin night, the documentary War and Justice The Case of Marine A (Channel 4, 9pm) stands out. It recounts the story of Royal Marines sergeant Al Blackman, who shot and killed a wounded and disarmed Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, becoming the first British soldier since WWII to be convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield.
Note that BBC1’s regular schedule moves to BBC2, due to coverage of the Commonwealth Games.