Category Archives: Streaming TV

Netflix’s The Sinner is you new Binge Watch show for the Summer.

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Image Credit: USA/Netflix

We’re heading into that “TV lull” time of year where all our favorite weekly must-watch shows head into hiatus during the extended Christmas and New Years break and shows such as The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons feel like they’re on for three hour stretches, seven days a week.

Thankfully, those with access to Netflix will be able to fill a small portion of the upcoming TV void with this years sleeper hit that has been sweeping social media with talks of praise it’s binge-worthiness.

The Sinner is an 8-episode series starring Jessica Biel (7th Heaven) as downtrodden mother Cora Tannetti who seems to be living a very plain and ordinary life with her husband Mason (Christopher Abbot) and their young son. It’s nothing too exciting but there’s something up with Cora and it feels as though she has succumbed to this monotonous life she is living and has basically checked out.  Moments of silent vacant stares and this need to escape the desperation that is her life.

This all leads her to commit a very public and graphic murder in an unprovoked and very shocking attack that while brief in its moment, is the driving force for the entire series.  The Sinner is not a whodunit but in fact a whydunit (if that is an actual word – and if a murder mystery can be a why and not a who!)

For you see, while we know Cora kills someone, she has no idea why she committed murder as she has no idea who the victim is or what came over her to commit such an act and in what should be an open and shut case for the local police, becomes an obsession for local detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) who believes that there may be a more dark and sinister reasoning to Cora’s crime.  With his help, the two begin to traverse the twisted and morbid memories of Cora’s strict religious upbringing and subsequent rebellion that led to the driving moment of the series.

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Image USA/Netflix

Pullman’s Ambrose leads the eight episodic series’ B story, a telling of his broken relationship with his wife Fay (Kathryn Erbe) and his unusual sexual fetish he explores with local dominatrix Sharon (Meredith Holzman).  While the sad and desperate detective usually plays well as a side story, Amrbose’s damaged relationship with Fay and Sharon don’t actually add anything to the main story and by the end of the series, never really comes to a conclusion or involve itself with Cora’s story line.

When it comes to the stars and their acting within The Sinner, Pullman plays sad lonely cop well with his long graying hair and department store suits.  His unnerving desperation to solve the answers to this case while trying to solve the problems of his marriage culminate in one particular scene where a garden hose cops the brunt of his meltdown.

Having been more known as Mrs.Timberlake for the better part of six years, Beil sheds all former glamour to play the bare faced, red eyed and prison jumpsuit clad Tannetti.  A kind of “where has this version of Beil been?” reaction ensues as the first episode closes.  Equally compelling is Nadia Alexander as Cora’s terminally ill younger sister Phoebe.  The guilt about her ailing health comes flying at Cora not only from her overtly religious mother but from Phoebe herself who uses her illness to manipulate Cora into situations she would have normally avoided.

For most of the series run, with each episode, there’s enough information coming in to keep us just on the edge of figuring out the entire plot but also stringing us back into a void of unknown and if there were ever an award for “best use of binge moments” then The Sinner would surely win for their perfectly timed end of episode cut off that literally leaves you begging for more.

The final two episodes is where everything hits us and while most is all revealed in episode seven, the supposed big shock reveal that happens in episode eight actually doesn’t hold the effect it perhaps was intended to.  Maybe because of who it involves or because even though we have most of the answers by that time, the episode still feels rushed as it tries to tie everything up.

For its binge-worthiness and stellar turn by Jessica Biel, The Sinner get’s an 8/10 from me.

The Sinner is now streaming on Netflix Australia

 

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Eveything You Need to Know about the Will & Grace Revival

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Image: NBC

Since the news broke that NBC were two thumbs up for the Will & Grace revival, a slew of information has been streaming out about what to expect when the show returns for a brand new run in late September (Sept 29th on NBC to be precise).  From how THAT original finale plays out into this series to who’s back, who’s missing and who’s stopping by I’ve put everything you need to know about the Will & Grace finale into one single fabulous post!

The Revival:  Even before a single episode has aired of this new season, NBC have already confirmed the show will be back in 2018 for another 13 episode round.  This new season (officially classed as season 9) has already been extended from its originally announced 13 episodes to 16 while at present, season 10 is sitting at 13.

This revival came about thanks to that hilarious election themed mini-reunion episode with NBC taking note of the huge response from fans old and new and went about ordering a 10 episode season revival.

How will the original finale play into this return?:  The original finale that aired back in 2006 saw Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) parting ways for almost 20 years, with both characters married (Will to Vince played by Bobby Cannavale and Grace to Leo (Harry Connick, Jr) and each couple with a child.  The last scenes in that finale saw Will & Grace eventually reunite after their college aged children ended up living across from each other at the campus dorm.

Even though this return will be classed as the show’s 9th season and takes place only 11 years after the finale, the entire dissolution of the friendship and each couples kids will be ‘erased’ from the Will & Grace history. Talking to EW, co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan said  ‘When the decision was made to bring the series back, we were like, well, we left them with kids, right?” And if they have children, then it has to be about them being parents, ‘cause presumably it would be a priority in their lives. And if it wasn’t a priority in their lives, then they’re still parents, they’re just bad parents, right? We frankly did not want to see them being either good parents or bad parents. We wanted them to be Will and Grace.”

The Core Cast:  The revival will see Will and Grace living together as the two did for the bulk of the series’ run with Jack (Sean Hayes) living across from them and Karen (Megan Mullally) still a rich boozy socialite living in her mansion.  Will is still working as a corporate lawyer, Grace remains an interior designer but with a bigger office and working with current day design technology along with ‘assistant’ Karen while Jack, who flitted from ‘acting’ to retail to student nurse to acting teacher during the shows original run will be back in his latter career teaching the ‘Jackting’ method of acting.

The Recurring Cast: Shelley Morrison who played Karen’s long suffering, viper tongued maid Rosario Salazar confirmed she won’t be back for the revival.  Morrison has now retired from acting, with the exception of a small appearance in the 2016 Will & Grace political themed mini episode.  Rosario won’t be forgotten on ignored with Mutchnick adding “The audience has come to know and love her — as we do — and we’re dealing with her as a character and we’re writing to it very specifically.”

Along with Rosario’s absence, the revival will touch on Grace’s mother Bobbi Adler played by the late Debbie Rynolds.

Confirmed to return are thee integral characters to the Will & Grace history – Harry Connick, Jr as Grace’s husband Leo, Bobby Cannavale as Will’s husband Vince and Minnie Driver as Karen’s British nemesis Lorraine Finster.  Noting that the 2006 finale is being wiped, how Leo and Vince fit into this revival is yet to be seen considering Will and Grace will be back living together.

No word yet on Leslie Jordan as Karen’s best friend/enemy number one Beverly Leslie, Blythe Danner as Will’s widowed mother Marilyn Truman or Tom Gallop and Leigh-Allyn Baker as game night friends Rob and Ellen.

Update Sept 18th:  Michael Angarano is a confirmation to return having filmed his scenes last week.  Angarano played Jack’s son Elliot for 12 episodes during the original run and is currently tapped for a single episode in season 9.

The Guest Stars:  From Madonna to Demi Moore, Cher and Britney Spears, the original series run never shied away from nabbing big named stars to appear on the show and this next season won’t be any different with the recent news that Glee’s Jane Lynch, Girls star Andrew Rannells and 2017 Tony Award winner Ben Platt have all signed on to guest star in season 9.

When and how to watch:  Will & Grace season 9 begins Thursday September 28th as part of NBC’s must-see-TV lineup at 9/8c in the states while here in Australia, the series begins on Friday the 29th on streaming service STAN

This post will be updated as news comes about for the sew season.

Archie Goes Dark and Broody in Riverdale

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Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and his father Fred  Andrews (Luke Perry)

There’s a sort of “you-know-what-you’re-getting” vibe when it comes to the world of Archie via the wildly popular classic comic strip with Archie and best friend Jughead continuously getting into mischief while Betty and Veronica bicker over the affections of the larrikin red head.  When it comes to the world of Archie Andrews in the new drama series Riverdale, what we get is the complete opposite of what we would expect.

The quiet and quaint town of Riverdale goes into a complete meltdown after the mysterious disappearance of local high school student Jason Blossom which forces the dark hidden hands of the townsfolk to slowly emerge.

The best way to think of Riverdale is Archie meets Dawson’s Creek meets Pretty Little Liars and it is this mix of shows that gives viewers a lot to take in within Riverdale’s opening episode.

Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is struggling to find even ground for his promising football career and his wishful music career while trying to keep his woeful father Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) happy and his feelings for his music teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel), with whom he had a summer fling with, hidden.  His best friend Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) has romance in her eyes for her read headed best friend but her uppity mother Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) is trying to stop Betty from venturing out at any cost.  Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) is a moody, brooding writer, taking notes about the mysterious disappearance that happened over the past summer while new girl in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) makes an impact right from her first meeting with the Riverdale gang before she locks lips with both Betty and Archie.

Splattered into this modern world of Archie, additional characters from the comic series including the flashy and gay Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), bitchy and privileged Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)  and lead singer of high school band Josie and the Pussycats Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) all appear to shake things up in the once peaceful town.

This fresh take on Archie, made for the modern era teen, is a rather swell surprise that will fit easily into the viewing habits of those watching PLL or fans of Gossip Girl and even the failed Melrose Place remake.  Secrets, lies, murder, scandals….it’s all going down in Riverdale.

Riverdale is currently streaming on Netflix Australia.

7 Binge Worthy TV Shows: What to Watch When the Olympics Are On

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Broad City’s  Abbi and Ilana offer a new level of friendship goals.

If you’re like me, your’e dreading the impending barrage of Rio Olympics television coverage and what it will do to the other free-to-air networks.  Seven have already announced all of their FTA and digital channels will be non stop Olympics, Channel nine will probably opt for Big Bang Theory repeats and Network Ten…well they’ll do want they want and continue with their standard schedule.

So then we find ourselves aimlessly channel surfing trying to find something to watch in between episodes of The Bachelor Australia hoping to find a gem we’ve not yet seen.  This is where the following list of recommended shows to binge during the Rio Olympics will hopefully come in handy.

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Schitt’s Creek  /  Seasons 1 and 2  / Comedy  /  2015 – 

Now currently on hiatus after two seasons (season three is currently filming) Schitt’s Creek has a familiar premise of the fish out of water scenario where the fish is the ultra wealthy Rose family and the water being an unscrupulous business manager that left them with nothing but a small middle of nowhere town (and the Roses new home) named Schitts Creek that Rose patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy) purchased as a gag gift for his son David (Daniel Levy).  Forced to forgo all their luxuries, the Rose’s must endure life as they never knew it until Johnny is able to sell the town to nab back some much needed dollars.

Why you should binge: Comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara back on screen together for starters!  Plus it’s funny, heart warming and very ship-worthy, you’ll fall in love with “is he or isn’t he” David and his spoiled sister Alexis (Annie Murphy) will either make you uber jealous or scratch your head in wonderment.

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Robert Durst, star of The Jinx

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst /  Season 1  /  Documentary  /  2015

With the popularity of Making a Murder being so overwhelming, many people might be looking for something just as absurd and something just as intriguing.  The Jinx delves into the mystery surrounding the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife Kathy along with the murder of his best friend Susan Berman and neighbor Morris Black.  The six part documentary series is told from Durst’s point of view and you’ll be left gobsmacked when things start to unravel and truth’s start to come out.

Why you should binge: It’s like the opposite of Making a Murderer where we all (for the most part) assume Steven Avery’s innocence but are left fuming at the US justice system but here, Dursts’ guilt is obvious right from the go but the police can’t seem to nab him.  it’s an incredibly powerful look into how power, money and influence can keep things hidden.

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The Tanner’s are back!

Fuller House  /  Season 1  /  Comedy  /  2016 –

Sure there’s some nostalgia that surrounds this updated version of 80’s sitcom Full House that those not yet to watch may think be corny, but in fact, Fuller House is such an easy show to watch, you’ll make your way through all 13 episodes in a breeze.  DJ Tanner (Candice Cameron) is back along with younger sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) who all join together to live in the house they grew up in.  If Carly Rae Jepsen’s updated theme song doesn’t get you, then seeing the return of the old Tanner family (minus the Olsen twins as Michelle) will.

Why you should binge: It’s a very easy show to settle into, doesn’t take itself serious and throws uber shade at the missing Olsen twins plus who didn’t love Full House?!  It was staple viewing growing up in the 80’s!

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Richie and Patrick’s relationship take center stage in Looking

Looking  /  Seasons 1 and 2 + finale movie  /  Drama  /  2015-2016

I’ll be very blunt, the first season of gay themed drama Looking killed me.  It frustrated me with its slowness and un-eventfulness but Looking’s slow paced look at the lives of three gay men living in San Francisco is worthy of a binge session.  Patrick (Jonathan Groff) has a stable work life but can’t get his romantic life on track, Dom (Murray Bartlett) is trying to clasp onto his youth with younger men and casual work while Augustin (Frankie J Alvarez) is a struggling artist with a drug addiction that’s spiraling out of control.

Why you should binge: It’s probably one of the more honest looks at the daily lives of gay men than we’ve ever seen to date and the acting by the leads – especially Groff – is understated and genuine.  Once you move onto season two, the pace picks up nicely from season one and finishes off with the recent Looking: The Movie.

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Real life and on-screen best friends Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair

Playing House  /  Seasons 1 and 2  /  Comedy  /  2014 –

Maggie (Lennon Parham) is heavily pregnant, had just thrown her husband out for cheating and best friend Emma (Jessica St. Clair) ditches her job in Hong Kong to move in and support her.  This hilarious look at what best friends will and can do for each other is honest and real and funny.  As best friends off screen, Parham and St. Clair bounce off one another with such ease one could be forgiven for forgetting this was a scripted comedy.

Why you should binge: Filled with laughter and outrageous moments, Playing House is just fun to watch.  Pure and simple, plus Maggie and Emma’s friendship offers up some major feels that will keep you moving onto the next episode.

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Michael Peterson – cold blooded killer or man of innocence?

The Staircase  /  Season 1  /  Documentary  /  2004

Another true crime documentary that falls into the Making a Murderer and the above mentioned The Jinx category where you can’t stop at just one episode.  Offering up two main themes – The investigation into a very complicated murder and the defense and prosecution teams who are trying to construct winning cases, The Staircase is told from the viewpoint of worried widow/cold blooded killer Michael Peterson, and details the case around his late wife who was found at the bottom of their family home staircase in a pool of blood.

Why you should binge: While this 8 part series ends rather abruptly, this case of a woman dead at the bottom of a staircase isn’t as clear cut as it first seems.  The family secrets and compelling connections that are revealed as time goes on will only leave you questioning your own mind on Peterson’s guilt or innocence.

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Broad City  /  Seasons 1 to 3  /  Comedy  /  2014 – 

Abbi Abrams (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) are best friends in their 20’s living the high life in NYC.  Abbi works in a gym as a cleaner but has hopes of making her way up to personal trainer, Ilana works….well we never really find out what she does but it involves lots of sleeping in the toilet and spinning on her chair.  With meaningless jobs, a very short supply of cash and virtually no shame, their day to day experiences lead them down some bizarre and unexpected paths.

Why you should binge: It’s like Girls but funnier, and you don’t want to cause physical harm to any of the characters.  Broad City is wildly outrageous, crude and shocking in it’s approach to 20-something life in New York and the friendship between Abbi and Ilana will make you wish you had something similar, but with a more stable love life, professional life and cash flow.

Getting to Know Stan

Bringing binge TV to the masses

Stan goes live in Australia on Jan 26th
Stan goes live in Australia on Jan 26th

Stan, the streaming subscription service created in a joint venture between Nine and Fairfax, has announced it’s official ‘live’ date – Jan 26th with the service going live just 12 days after Presto (Foxtel’s effort) went live.  Stan will cost subscribers $10 a month with no lock-in contracts (offering movies and television) and is cheaper than Presto who charge $14 per month for access to its movie and television catalog.

I’ve been playing around with Stan for the past week and wanted to share my thoughts on what to expect for those looking at possibly signing up.  Stan’s interface is simple, clean and easy to use with it’s landing page set up to showcase it’s draw-card programs and shows segregated into genres.  You want ‘groundbreaking comedies’ or ‘premium drama’ then it’ll be easy to find.

Dramas including Masters of Sex and Dexter will be readily available when the service launches
Dramas including Masters of Sex and Dexter will be readily available when the service launches

There’s an array of older content (which i’ll get to in a bit) and there’s also some selected new dramas being touted as ‘first on Stan’ including sci-fi cult Lost Girl, award winning drama Transparent and Amazon Original series Mozart in the Jungle all readily available when the service launches.

The rest of the programs available are made up of dramas, comedies and documentaries long since finished: Absolutely Fabulous, Will & Grace (only 4 of 8 seasons available), Dawsons Creek, The L Word and Deadwood among others or those currently airing but featuring seasons past – Hannibal, The Fall, Community, Masters of Sex and Nurse Jackie.

Like with Presto and the imminent arrival of Netflix (sometime before March), Stan’s catalog features a small selection of new content packed in between a slew of old programs we’ve all probably seen and long forgotten.  It’s best to think of these services as walking down the weekly isle at your local DVD rental shop where you can watch all you want but pay monthly for the ability to do so.

Do you need Stan?  To be honest, if you binge watch TV or your TV DVD library doesn’t exist then Stan will be useful.  If you have your weeknight free-to-air schedule worked out and can live without seeing certain shows as they go live, then no.

Stan goes live in Australia Monday Jan 26th.

Do you plan on singing up with Stan or Presto or Netflix?  Sound off in the comments below!