09 December 2021

My Gift to You

You know how you read a new book or watch a new TV show, or see a new movie, and you want to tell your friends all about it, but struggle to set the hook without giving too much away?

How about if every recommendation came with a pithy summary sentence, about the same length as one of those infamous "elevator pitches" we are hear about so often in this industry?

Well look no further! Here it is, my holiday gift to you: my take on some of the most recent movies/TV series currently available on a number of streaming platforms!

See below for the good, the bad, the essentials, and the hard passes, all in no particular order. Let's get started!

15. Ted LassoRecently rewatched both seasons of this Apple TV series about an American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) as a fish-out-of-water coaching an English premiere league football team. 

Pitch: "Believe the hype."

14. The Wheel of Time: Expensive epic fantasy series that appears to be Amazon's calculated attempt to capture the Game of Thrones audience.

Pitch: "'Wheel of Time'? 'Wheel of Waiting-For-Something-To Happen,' more like!"

13. Manhunt, Season 2: Martin Clunes (of Doc Martin fame) heads a formidable cast in a based-on-a-true-story procedural about police tracking a serial rapist known as the Night Stalker.

Pitch: "The best stories don't require gore or extended action sequences to render them compelling. Manhunt is one of these stories."

12. The Cleaner: British comedian Greg Davies stars as a state-certified crime scene cleaner in this comedy-drama with Helena Bonham Carter guesting in the pilot.

Pitch: "Greg Davies has managed to clean all of the laughs out of this one. Absurdist humor you want to laugh at, but just can't seem to. Scrub this one!"

11. Mr. and Mrs. Murder: This 2013 Australian series accomplishes what The Cleaner can't. Husband and wife crime scene cleaners solving the crimes they're hired to clean.

Pitch: "Imagine The Cleaner, only with twice the cleaners, and three times the laughs!"

10. Father Brown: Mark Williams (Harry Potter series) stars as G.K. Chesterton's crime-solving cleric.

Pitch: "'Father Bore' would be more accurate. A real plodder!"

9. The Kid Detective: Adam Brody (The O.C.) stars as a child prodigy crime solver still solving the same small-time crimes twenty years later.

Pitch: "Imagine Encyclopedia Brown all grown up and with his own detective agency. And a never-ending hangover."

8. The Madame Blanc Mysteries: An antique dealer's husband dies under mysterious circumstances in a small town in the South of France, so she packs up and moves there to try to solve his murder.

Pitch: "This cozy mystery series actually manages to make the South of France less interesting."

7. Dalgliesh: New spin on the classic PD James police inspector, starring Bertie Carvel and set during the 1970s.

Pitch: "Strong writing, solid plot and unforgettable performances make this series a must-see for any fan of classic British procedural mysteries. Bertie Carvel is a revelation."

6. Professor T: Based on a Belgian series of the same name, Professor T is set in Cambridge and features an obsessive-compulsive criminal procedure professor with a complicated relationship with his free spirit artist mother, who is dragooned into the local police as a consultant.

Pitch: "The scenes between mother (Frances de la Tour) and son (Ben Miller) alone are worth giving this series a look."

5. Bosch: The final season of the highly acclaimed series based on Michael Connelly's best-selling series of novels (Connelly also serves as a series producer).

Pitch: "Titus Welliver is one of those actor's actors one could easily enjoy watching read the phone book. Instead, you get to watch him in one of the best police procedural series ever filmed. And L.A. has rarely been given a better or more balanced treatment."

4. What We Do in the Shadows: A spiritual descendant of the New Zealand film of the same name about modern-day vampires Down Under. This FX series (streamed on HULU and produced by Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the minds behind the original film) moves the setting to Staten Island.

Pitch: "As if the talents of British comedians Matt Berry, Kayvan Novack and Natasia Demetriou weren't enough, you get the hilarious Mark Probst (The Office) as an "energy vampire": a day-walking soul sucker who drains energy from humans by boring them into a stupor (picture that guy in your workplace. The one who goes into excruciating detail about mind-numbing topics such as his sock collection). You'll find this show anything but boring!"

3. Free Guy: Ryan Reynolds plays a non-player character in a popular first-person shooter game who suddenly becomes self-aware.

Pitch: "Come for Ryan Reynolds, stay for 'Dude.' Both are hilarious."

2. Jack Irish: Guy Pearce is probably best known in the States as "that guy who always plays the bad guy and makes him interesting." In his home country of Australia though, he plays "Jack Irish," the hero of a series of incredible crime novels by the great (and underrated) Peter Temple. This is the final season, and it's both grim and compelling.

Pitch: "Come for Guy Pearce actually getting to play a good (well, mostly good) guy for once. Stay for the plot that grinds inexorably to a shocking finish, with plenty of emotional prisoners taken along the way, and for the stellar supporting cast, especially the unforgettable Aaron Pederson, who plays an aborigine enforcer and right-hander man to a horse-race fixer friend of Jack's."

1. Shetland (Seasons 1 through 6): Douglas Henshall heads an all-Scottish cast in this procedural set in the titular Scottish islands. Based on a series of novels by British super-author Ann Cleeves.

Pitch: "Don't let the title fool you: there's nothing small about the pay-off from watching this superb series, a near-perfect balance of light and dark, compassion and vengeance, humanity and violence. Start with Season One, but make sure you've got plenty of time available to you. This one's a binger's dream!"


And that's it for me this go-round. 

See you in two weeks!


  1. I just put Professor T on my watchlist; I'll watch Frances de la Tour in ANYTHING. And if you've never seen it, check out her and Bob Hoskins in "Flickers", free on IMDB TV.

  2. Of those I've seen, I agree. I'd nearly forgotten M&M Murder– good pitch.

    Wow, I have a lot to catch up with.


    Queen's Gambit
    "Good move, Netflix."

  3. TED LASSO absolutely lives up to the hype. My girlfriend's watched it twice, all the way through, and is now watching it a third time with me. Unlike much of what I watch - PEAKY BLINDERS, anyone? - TED actually cheers you up, and I don't mean that it's sappy, either. A seriously good show. Nor could I possibly fault SHETLAND. Windswept and compelling.


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