The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Tuesday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY

The 15 Best New TV Shows of 2022

If you only catch up with 15 of 2022's exceptional brand-new TV shows over summer, make it this 15.
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2022
  shares
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2022
  shares

If TV is your way to escape the nine-to-five grind, or one of them, then the best of the best of 2022's small-screen newcomers thoroughly understands. All five of the year's absolute top fresh arrivals contemplated work in some way. Some showed its nightmarish side, while others delved into life and work as a performance — and you spent some time spending at your streaming queue over the past 12 months, you eagerly clocked in for office hell, hospitality tension, film industry chaos, law-and-order disorder and approaching existence as something that can be rehearsed.

Chills, thrills, laughs, horror, jaw-in-the-floor moments: that's just part of what television delivered in 2022. Porn for women, pirates, dinosaurs, murder-mysteries, rom-coms, chaotic holidays, the best Star Wars story yet: they're all on the list as well. Whatever your preferred genre or topic, it's likely there was an ace new TV show about it this year, keeping you glued to your couch.

'Tis the season to reflect upon, revel in and revisit the year's new small-screen gems — and maybe even throw a waffle party or tuck into a beef sandwich in celebration. We've spent the year watching and rounding up TV highlights — including initially naming our favourites midyear — but these 15 newcomers are 2022's must-sees from its new must-sees. And, your catch-up list over summer.

cp-line

SEVERANCE

It's the ultimate in work-life balance, an antidote to non-stop after-hours emails and Slack messages, and a guaranteed way to ensure what happens at work stays at work. In mind-bending thriller series Severance — which plays like Black Mirror meets the Charlie Kaufman-penned Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with Wes Anderson's aesthetic if he designed soulless office complexes, plus sprinklings of everything from George Orwell to also-excellent 2020 TV effort Devs — switching off when clocking off at Lumon Industries is easy. There's a brain implant for exactly that, and it's a condition of employment on "severed" floors. Accordingly, when quittin' time comes for Macrodata Refinement division employee Mark (Adam Scott, Big Little Lies), he physically steps into a tiny, shiny elevator to re-enter his after-hours life; however, the version of him that works for Lumon won't recall anything beyond the company's walls. The instant that the lift starts moving, it goes back to the office for Mark's "innie", as his work-bound consciousness is dubbed. Voila, it's clocking-on time once more.

Severance's attention-grabbing premise springs from creator Dan Erickson, a TV first-timer, and understands how most folks feel about the nine-to-five grind. The show is knowing in its lead casting, too, given that Scott is best recognised for two workplace comedies: the joyous hug that is Parks and Recreation, as well as the acerbic, astute and soon-to-return Party Down. But as savvily and evocatively directed by Ben Stiller in its first three season-one episodes (and again in its last three, with Kissing Candice filmmaker Aoife McArdle helming three in the middle), Scott's new series dwells in 'be careful what you wish for' territory. For the part of Mark's brain that blanks out work, Severance initially seems like heaven. For the half that only knows the office, it's hell. For everyone watching, soaking in its twisty mysteries — and enjoying Patricia Arquette (The Act), Christopher Walken (Percy vs Goliath) and John Turturro (The Plot Against America) as fellow Lumon employees — it's a surreal and riveting must-see.

Severance streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

cp-line

THE BEAR

First, an important piece of advice: eating either before or while watching The Bear is highly recommended, and near close to essential. Now, two more crucial slices of wisdom: prepare to feel stressed throughout every second of this riveting, always-tense, and exceptionally written and acted culinary series, and also to want to tuck into The Original Beef of Chicagoland's famous sandwiches immediately. The eatery is purely fictional, but its signature dish looks phenomenal. Most of what's cooked up in Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto's (Jeremy Allen White, Shameless) kitchen does. But he has taken over the family business following his brother's suicide, arriving back home after wowing the world in fine dining's top restaurants, and nothing is easy. Well, coveting The Bear's edible wares is across the show's eight-episode first season — but making them, keeping the shop afloat, coping with grief and ensuring that the diner's staff work harmoniously is a pressure cooker of chaos.

That anxious mood is inescapable from the outset; the best way to start any meal is just to bite right in, and The Bear's creator Christopher Storer (who also directs five episodes, and has Ramy, Dickinson and Bo Burnham: Make Happy on his resume) takes the same approach. He also throws all of his ingredients together with precision — the balance of drama and comedy, the relentlessness that marks every second in The Original Beef's kitchen, and the non-stop mouthing off by Richie, aka Cousin, aka Carmy's brother's best friend (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, The Dropout), all included. Carmy has bills to pay, debts to settle, eerie dreams and sleepwalking episodes to navigate, new sous chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri, Dickinson) mixing up the place and long-standing employees (such as Hap and Leonard's Lionel Boyce, In Treatment's Liza Colón-Zayas and Fargo's Edwin Lee Gibson) to keep happy. Every glimpse at the resulting hustle and bustle is as gripping as it is appetising — and yes, binging is inevitable.

The Bear streams via Disney+. Read our full review.

cp-line

IRMA VEP

A cinephile's dream of a series, Irma Vep requires some unpacking. The term 'layered' has rarely ever applied to a TV program quite as it does here. French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper) retraces his own footsteps, turning his cult-favourite 1996 movie of the same name into an Alicia Vikander-starring HBO miniseries. And, in this series itself, a director is also remaking one of his own past flicks as a television project. In all versions of Irma Vep, the movies and shows being made are also remakes of 1915–16 French crime effort Les Vampires. It was a ten-episode, seven-hour cinema serial, and it's supremely real. Indeed, by first helming a feature about remaking Les Vampires, and now a series about remaking a movie that remakes Les Vampires (which, IRL, is also a remake of a movie that remakes Les Vampires), Assayas keeps remaking Les Vampires in his own way.

It all sounds exactly as complicated as it is — and Assayas loves it. Viewers should, too. The nested dolls that are Irma Vep's meta setup just keep stacking, actually. The 1996 Irma Vep starred Maggie Cheung, who'd later become Assayas' wife, then ex-wife — and the 2022 Irma Vep haunts its on-screen filmmaker René Vidal (Vincent Macaigne, Non-Fiction) with visions of his ex-wife Jade Lee (Vivian Wu, Dead Pigs), who, yes, led his movie. If you're a fan of word puzzles, you might've also noticed that Irma Vep is an anagram of vampire; that said, Les Vampires isn't actually about bloodsuckers, and nor is any iteration of Irma Vep. To add to the list, while Cheung played a version of herself, Vikander (Blue Bayou, The Green Knight) plays fictional American star Mira — a name that's an anagram of Irma. You can also take that moniker literally, because mirroring is patently a pivotal aspect of the brilliant Irma Vep in every guise.

Irma Vep streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

WE OWN THIS CITY

For the past 20 years, we've all fallen into two categories: people who've seen, loved and haven't been able to stop raving about HBO's Baltimore-set masterpiece The Wire; and folks who don't tick any of those boxes but have been told by everyone who does that they really need to watch it ASAP. We Own This City deserves to spark the same response — and shares many of its predecessor's key pieces. It too takes place in Maryland's most populous city. It also follows a law-and-order battle, complete with time spent within the Baltimore Police Department. It springs from former Baltimore Sun police reporter-turned-author, journalist and TV writer/producer David Simon as well, and sees him reteam with writer George Pelecanos, a veteran of not only The Wire but also Simon's Treme and The Deuce. Oh, and as it tells a compulsive crime tale, it's packed with phenomenal performances.

One of those astonishing portrayals is among the first thing that viewers see, in fact, with We Own This City opening with Sergeant Wayne Jenkins lecturing new recruits on the BPD Gun Trace Task Force. Chatting through how to legally do the job — how to get away with what he deems necessary, that is — Jon Bernthal (The Many Saints of Newark) is hypnotically unsettling as Jenkins, who'll become the focus of a corruption investigation for his methods. He isn't the only "prime example of what's gone wrong in Baltimore," as viewers are told. So is Daniel Hersl (Josh Charles, The Loudest Voice), who is initially glimpsed pulling over and terrorising a Black driver for no other reason than that he can. Department of Justice Civil Rights Department attorney Nicole Steele (Wunmi Mosaku, Lovecraft Country) is among those tracking the force's bad eggs, and that's just one of this complex, revealing and arresting six-part miniseries' layers. And if it feels so detailed that it could only be true, that's because it's based on a non-fiction book by Justin Fenton another ex-Baltimore Sun reporter.

We Own This City streams via Binge.

cp-line

THE REHEARSAL

Early in the first episode of The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder meets Kor Skeete, a Jeopardy!-watching, trivia-loving New Yorker with a problem that he's seeking help with. Skeete has been lying to his bar trivia team about his educational history, claiming that he has a master's degree instead of a bachelor's degree, and he's hoping for assistance in coming clean. His biggest worry: how his pal Tricia might react, and if it'll end their friendship. First, however, in their initial meeting in Skeete's apartment, Fielder asks Skeete if he's ever seen any of Fielder's past work. Skeete says no, despite claiming a particular interest in television as his favourite trivia subject — and his response to what Fielder explains next will likely mirror anyone watching who comes to this with the same fresh eyes. Until now, Fielder was best known for Nathan for You, in which he helped companies and people by using his business school studies. Fielder played a version of himself, and the result is best described as a reality comedy. It's the kind of thing that has to be seen to be truly believed and understood, and it's both genius and absurd.

In The Rehearsal, Fielder is back as himself. He also wants to use his skills to help others again. His tactic this time is right there in the name, letting his subjects rehearse their big moments — baring all to a friend in that first episode, and exploring parenthood in the second, for instance. The show's crew even build elaborate sets, recreating the spots where these pivotal incidents will take place, such as the bar where Skeete will meet Tricia. Fielder hires actors to assist, too. And, adding yet another layer, Fielder also steps through the same process himself, rehearsing his first encounter with Skeete, with thanks to an actor, before they cross paths. If you've ever thought that life was a big performance, and that every single thing about interacting with others — and even just being yourself — involves playing a role, you'll find much to think about in this fascinating, funny, often unsettling, quickly addictive series. There's reality TV and then there's the way that the deadpan Fielder plays with and probes reality, and while both can induce cringing, nothing compares to this.

The Rehearsal streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

ANDOR

When it arrived in 2016 between Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars sent a message in its own spy-slash-heist flick way: it wouldn't be slavishly beholden to the Star Wars franchise's established and beloved universe. It felt earthier and murkier, more urgent and complicated, and far more steeped in everyday reality — within its science-fiction confines, of course — and more concerned with the here and now of its specific narrative than the bigger saga picture. It was certainly and unshakeably bleaker, and felt like a departure from the usual template, as well as a welcome risk. The same proves true of impressive streaming prequel Andor, which slips into its namesake's routine five years prior. The Galactic Empire reigns supreme, the Rebel Alliance is still forming and, when the series opens, Cassian (the returning Diego Luna, If Beale Street Could Talk) is a wily thief living on the junkyard planet of Ferrix.

A Blade Runner-esque sheen hovers over a different place, however: the industrial-heavy, corporate-controlled Morlana One, which couldn't be further under the boot of the Empire if it tried. As Monos-style flashbacks to Cassian's childhood aid in fleshing out, he's searching for his sister, but his latest investigatory trip results in a confrontation and the Preox-Morlana Authority on his trail. Back on Ferrix, he endeavours to hide with the help of his friend/presumed ex/mechanic/black-market dealer Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona, Morbius) and droid B2EMO (Dave Chapman, Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker), while keeping his latest antics a secret from his adoptive mother Maarva (Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve). But, even after being told to drop the case, persistent Imperial Deputy Inspector Syril Karn (Kyle Soller, Poldark) and higher-ranking officer Dedra Meero (Denise Gough, Under the Banner of Heaven) aren't willing to give up.

Andor streams via Disney+Read our full review.

cp-line

BAD SISTERS

Bad Sisters begins on the day of an Irish funeral, farewelling John Paul Williams (Claes Bang, The Northman) — after his widow, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff, Sex Education), makes sure that the corpse's erection won't be noticed first. He's long been nicknamed 'The Prick' anyway, with his four sisters-in-law all thoroughly unimpressed about the toxic way he treated his wife. In flashbacks, they joke about saving her by getting murderous, and exactly why is made plain as well. Bonded by more than blood after their parents died, the Garvey girls are used to sticking together, with the eldest, Eva (Sharon Horgan, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent), stepping in as the maternal influence over Grace, Ursula (Eva Birthistle, The Last Kingdom), Bibi (Sarah Greene, Normal People) and Becka (Eve Hewson, Behind Her Eyes). She's fierce about it, too, as characters played by the Catastrophe and This Way Up star tend to be. When a guest offers condolences at John Paul's wake, Eva's response is "I'm just glad the suffering's over" — and when she's then asked if he was ill, she replies with a blunt and loaded "no".

If this scenario sounds familiar, that's because Belgian TV's Clan got there first back in 2012, which means that Bad Sisters joins the ever-growing list of series that largely exist to make the leap into English. That isn't a criticism of the end result here, though, which proves itself a winner early.  Also part of both shows: two insurance agents, aka half-brothers Thomas (Brian Gleeson, Death of a Ladies' Man) and Matthew Claffin (Daryl McCormack, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) here. Their family-run outfit is meant to pay out on John Paul's life insurance policy, but it's a hefty amount of cash and will bankrupt the firm, which is why Thomas starts asking questions. It seems an obvious setup, but this is a series with both bite and warmth. Brought to the screen by Horgan, Bad Sisters finds both the pitch-black comedy and the drama in its whole 'offing your arsehole brother-in-law' premise, and the tension and banter as well — and the sense of sorority between its quintet of main ladies, too.

Bad Sisters streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

cp-line

MINX

When home video, the internet and mobile phones with inbuilt cameras each arrived, six words could've been uttered: get ready to look at dicks. HBO comedy Minx is set the early 70s, so before all three, but the same phrase also applies here. It's true of the show itself, which isn't shy about displaying the male member in various shapes and sizes. It also stands tall in the world that Minx depicts. When you're making the first porn magazine for women — and, when you're making an ambitious, entertaining and impeccably cast The Deuce meets Mrs America-style series about it, but lighter, sweeter and funnier (and all purely fictional) — penises are inescapable.

Also impossible to avoid in Minx: questions like "are erections consistent with our philosophy?", as asked by Vassar graduate and country club regular Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond, Trying). Idolising the magazine industry and unhappily working for the dispiritingly traditional Teen Queen, she has long dreamed of starting her own feminist publication — even penning a bundle of articles and making her own issues — but centrefolds splashed with male genitalia don't fit her ideal pitch. No one's buying what Joyce is selling, though; The Matriarchy Awakens, her dream mag, gets rejected repeatedly by the industry's gatekeepers. Only one is interested: Bottom Dollar Publications' Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson, Ride the Eagle), but he's in the pornography business.

Minx streams via Stan. Read our full review.

cp-line

FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE

The title doesn't lie: when Fleishman Is in Trouble begins, its namesake is indeed struggling. He's also perfectly cast. If you're going to get an actor to play an anxious, unravelling, recently divorced man in his forties who's trying to navigate the new status quo of sharing custody of his kids, having a high-powered ex, and being initiated into the world of dating apps and casual hookups, it's Jesse Eisenberg. If his Zombieland character lived happily ever after until he didn't, or his Vivarium character was trapped into a different type of domestic maze, this book-to-screen series would be the end result. Fleishman Is in Trouble has Eisenberg play Toby, a well-regarded hepatologist who is passionate about being able to help people through medicine, but has spent more than a decade being made to feel inferior by Upper East Siders because his job hasn't made him rich enough. His theatre talent agent wife — now former — Rachel (Claire Danes, The Essex Serpent) had the exact same attitude, too, until she dropped their kids off at his place in the middle of the night, said she was going to a yoga retreat and stopped answering his calls.

Written to sound like a profile — something that journalist, author and screenwriter Taffy Brodesser-Akner knows well, and has the awards to prove it — Fleishman Is in Trouble chronicles Toby's present woes while reflecting upon his past. It's a messy and relatable story, regardless of whether you've ever suddenly become a full-time single dad working a high-stakes job you're devoted to in a cashed-up world you resent. As narrated by the ever-shrewd Lizzy Caplan (Truth Be Told) as Toby's old college pal-turned-writer and now stay-at-home-mum Libby, Fleishman Is in Trouble dives into the minutiae that makes Toby's new existence such a swirling sea of uncertainty. At the same time, while being so specific about his situation and troubles, it also ensures that all that detail paints a universal portrait of discovering that more of your time is gone, your hopes faded and your future receded, than you'd realised. Everything from class inequality and constant social hustling to the roles women are forced to play around men earns the show's attention in the process, as layered through a show that's both meticulously cast and evocatively shot. Fleishman is indeed in trouble, but this miniseries isn't.

Fleishman Is in Trouble streams via Disney+.

cp-line

THE ENGLISH

It tells of gold rushes, of brave and dusty new worlds, and of yellow frontiers stretching out beneath shimmering and inky blue skies; however, the true colour of the western is and always will be red. This isn't a genre for the faint-hearted, because it's a genre that spins stories about power and its brutal costs — power over the land and its Indigenous inhabitants; power-fuelled in-fighting among competing colonialists; and power exercised with zero regard for life, or typically for anyone who isn't white and male. It's a rich and resonant touch, then, to repeatedly dress Emily Blunt (Jungle Cruise) in crimson, pink and shades in-between in The English, 2022's best new TV western. She plays one instance of the show's namesakes, because the impact of the British spans far beyond just one person in this series — and the quest for revenge she's on in America's Old West is deeply tinted by bloodshed.

In her first ongoing television role since 2005, in a stunning and powerful series from its performances and story through to its spirit and cinematography, Blunt dons such eye-catching hues as Lady Cornelia Locke. With a mountain of baggage and cash in tow, she has just reached Kansas when The English begins, seeking vengeance against the man responsible for her son's death. But word of her aims precedes her to this remote outpost's racist hotelier (Ciarán Hinds, Belfast) and, with stagecoach driver (Toby Jones, The Wonder), he has own mission. That the aristocratic Englishwoman arrives to find her host torturing Pawnee cavalry scout Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer, Blindspot) is telling: the plan is to blame her end on him. Before the first of this miniseries' episodes ends, however, Cornelia and Eli have rescued each other, notched up a body count and started a journey together that sees them each endeavouring to find peace in a hostile place in their own ways — and started their way through one helluva show.

The English streams via Prime Video. Read our full review.

cp-line

THE RESORT

If the last couple of years in pop culture are to be believed, it mightn't be a great idea to go away with a character played by Cristin Milioti. In three of the always-excellent actor's most recent high-profile roles, she has decamped to idyllic surroundings, only to find anything but bliss awaiting. Palm Springs threw a Groundhog Day-style time loop her way in its titular setting. Made for Love saw her trapped by sinister futuristic possibilities. In The Resort, which hails from Palm Springs screenwriter Andy Siara, she now has the ten-year itch — and a getaway to Mexico that's meant to soothe it slides swiftly into a wild mystery. In this instantly twisty comedy-thriller Miloti plays Emma, spouse to William Jackson Harper's (The Good Place) Noah. After a decade of marriage, they're celebrating at the Bahía del Paraíso in the Yucatán, but they're really trying to reignite their spark. At this stage in their relationship, he recoils at her bad breath, she makes fun of him falling asleep on the couch, and they're rarely in sync; even when they're floating along the resort's lazy river, cocktails in hand, they want different things.

Bringing them together: a missing-persons case from 15 years ago, after Emma goes tumbling off a quad-biking trail, bumps her head and spies an old mobile phone. It belongs to Sam (Skyler Gisondo, Licorice Pizza), a guest at the nearby but now-shuttered Oceana Vista Resort, who was on holidays over Christmas 1997 with his parents (IRL couple Dylan Baker, Hunters, and Becky Ann Baker, Big Little Lies), as well as his girlfriend Hannah (Debby Ryan, Insatiable). As Emma learns via Sam's photos and text messages, all wasn't rosy in his romantic life. After running into fellow guest Violet (Nina Bloomgarden, Good Girl Jane), who was travelling with her dad Murray (Nick Offerman, Pam & Tommy), his SMS history skews in her direction. But the pair promptly disappeared, and any potential clues were lost when a hurricane struck and destroyed their getaway spot. If The White Lotus joined forces with Only Murders in the Building, it'd look a whole lot like this entertaining series, which also includes an ace performance by Luis Gerardo Méndez (Narcos: Mexico) as Baltasar, Oceana Vista Resort's head of security.

The Resort streams via Stan. Read our full review.

cp-line

OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH

In the on-screen sea that is the never-ending list of films and television shows constantly vying for eyeballs, Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby have frequently proven gem-dappled treasure islands. When the immensely funny New Zealand talents have collided, their resumes have spanned four of the most endearing comic hits of the big and small screens in the 21st century so far, aka Flight of the ConchordsWhat We Do in the ShadowsWellington Paranormal and Hunt for the Wilderpeople — and now, with pirate parody Our Flag Means Death, they've given viewers another gleaming jewel. This show was always going to swashbuckle its way into streaming must-see lists — and into comedy-lovers' hearts — based on its concept alone, but it more than lives up to its winning idea and winsome casting. Come for the buccaneering banter and seafaring satire, stay for a thoughtful and sincere comic caper that's also a rom-com.

The inimitable Darby stars as Stede Bonnet, a self-styled 'gentleman pirate' and a great approximation of Flight of the Conchords' Murray if he'd existed centuries earlier. Meanwhile, Waititi dons leather, dark hues aplenty, an air of bloodthirsty melancholy and an eye-catching head of greying hair as Edward Teach, the marauder better known to the world as Blackbeard. The two real-life figures eventually cross paths after Bonnet leaves his life of wealth, privilege and comfort to rove the oceans, captains a ship staffed by a motley crew to end all motley crews, and initially gets captured by Blackbeard — or Ed, as he calls him. As these two opposites bond, riding the waves from adversaries to co-captains to potentially something more, Our Flag Means Death truly and gloriously opens up its warm heart.

Our Flag Means Death streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

HEARTSTOPPER

It only takes minutes for British newcomer Heartstopper to explain its title — showing rather than telling, as all great shows should. A year ten student at Truham Grammar School for Boys, Charlie Spring (first-timer Joe Locke) finds himself seated in his form class next to year 11 rugby player Nick Nelson (Kit Connor, Little Joe). Sparks fly on the former's part, swiftly and overwhelmingly, with the eight-part series' graphic-novel origins inspiring a flurry of fluttering animated hearts on-screen. But Charlie has a secret boyfriend, Ben (Sebastian Croft, Doom Patrol), who won't even acknowledge him in public. He also hardly thinks of himself as sporty, even after Nick asks him to join the school team. And, while a friendship quickly solidifies between the two, Charlie is initially unsure whether anything more can happen — and anxiety-riddled in general.

As well as writing Heartstopper's source material — which initially started as a webcomic — Alice Oseman pens every episode of this perceptive teenage-focused gem. From the outset, it bubbles with heartwarming charm, while its coming-of-age story and central love story alike prove wholly relatable, aptly awkward but also wonderfully sweet and sensitive. In short, it's a series that plunges so convincingly and inclusively into its characters' experiences that it feels like its heart is constantly beating with affection for Charlie, Nick, and their fellow high-schoolers Tao (fellow debutant William Gao), Elle (Yasmin Finney), Isaac (Tobie Donovan), Tara (Corinna Brown, Daphne) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell). First crushes, young love, the swirling swell of emotions that comes with both and also figuring out who you are: all of this dances through Heartstopper's frames. Also, when Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) pops up, she's glorious as always.

Heartstopper streams via Netflix. Read our full review.

cp-line

PREHISTORIC PLANET

Five episodes, one comforting voice, and a time-travelling trip back 66 million years: that's the setup behind Prehistoric Planet, an utterly remarkable feels-like-you're-there dive into natural history. Having none other than David Attenborough narrate the daily activities of dinosaurs seems like it should've happened already, of course; however, now that it finally is occurring, it's always both wonderful and stunning. Filled with astonishing footage on par with the visuals that usually accompany Attenborough's nature docos, all thanks to the special effects team behind The Jungle Book and The Lion King, it truly is a wonder to look at. It needs to be: if the Cretaceous-era dinosaurs rampaging across the screen didn't appear like they genuinely could be walking and stalking — and fighting, foraging for food, hunting, flying, swimming and running as well — the magic that typically comes with watching an Attenborough-narrated doco would instantly and disappointingly vanish.

Welcome to... your new insight into Tyrannosaurus rex foreplay, your latest reminder that velociraptors really don't look like they do in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World flicks, an entertaining time spent with al kinds of animals, and your next favourite dinosaur project with an Attenborough attached. Each of Prehistoric Planet's five instalments focuses on a different type of terrain — coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice and forests — and chats through the creatures that call it home. Set to a spirited original score by Hans Zimmer, fresh from winning his latest Oscar for Dune, there's a formula at work. That said, it's no more blatant than in any David Attenborough-hosted show. Viewers watch as some dinos look after their young, others try to find a mate, plenty search for something to eat and others attempt not to be eaten. The same kinds of activities are covered in each episode, but the locations and dinosaurs involved all change.

Prehistoric Planet streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

cp-line

COLIN FROM ACCOUNTS

A girl, a guy and a meet-cute over an adorable animal: that's the delightful and very funny Colin From Accounts' underlying formula. When medical student Ashley (Harriet Dyer, The Invisible Man) and microbrewery owner Gordon (Patrick Brammall, Evil) cross paths in the street one otherwise standard Sydney morning, they literally come to an impasse. He lets her go first, she flashes her nipple as thanks, then he's so distracted that he hits a stray dog with his car. As these circumstances demonstrate, Colin From Accounts isn't afraid to get awkward, much to the benefit of audiences. There's a syrupy way to proceed from the show's debut moments, intertwining sparks flying with idyllic dates, plus zero doubts of a happy ending for humans and pooches alike. If this was a movie, that's how it'd happen. Then there's Dyer and Brammall's way, with the duo creating and writing the series as well as starring in it, and focusing as much on ordinary existential mayhem — working out who you want to be, navigating complex relationships and learning to appreciate the simple pleasure of someone else's company, for example — as pushing its leads together.

Just like in the Hollywood versions of this kind of tale, romance does blossom. That Dyer and Brammall are behind Colin From Accounts, their past chemistry on fellow Aussie comedy No Activity and the fact that they're married IRL means that pairing them up as more than new pals was always going to be on the show's agenda. It's how the series fleshes out each character and their baggage — including those who-am-I questions, Ash's difficult dynamic with her attention-seeking mother Lynelle (Helen Thomson, Elvis), and the responsibility that running your own business and committing to care for other people each bring — that helps give it depth. Colin From Accounts lets Ash and Gordon unfurl their woes and wishes, and also lets them grow. Sometimes, that happens by peeing and pooping in the wrong place, because that's also the type of comedy this is. Sometimes, it's because the show's central couple have taken a risk, or faced their struggles, or genuinely found solace in each other. Always, this new Aussie gem is breezy and weighty — and instantly bingeable.

Colin From Accounts streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

Looking for more viewing highlights? We also rounded up the 15 best returning TV series of 2022, as well as 15 excellent new TV shows of 2022 that you might've missed.

Plus, we've kept a running list of must-stream TV from across the year, complete with full reviews.

And, you can check out our regular rundown of film and TV streaming recommendations, which is updated monthly.

Published on December 22, 2022 by Sarah Ward
  •   shares
      shares
  • VIEW COMMENTS
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter Pixel