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The 15 Best New TV Shows of 2022 So Far

It's catch-up time — these are the standout new small-screen arrivals this year that are thoroughly worth your attention.
By Sarah Ward
July 08, 2022
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By Sarah Ward
July 08, 2022
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So much to see, so little time. If hitting the couch is one of your favourite ways to unwind, that'll be a familiar refrain. Now that there are far more streaming services to choose from than we each have fingers and toes, finding something to watch is never a problem — and in 2022, there's been a lengthy list of excellent shows worthy of your attention.

Some have tapped into our struggles with work-life balance in chilling and thrilling ways. Others have made hearts soar and swoon several times over. Also on this year's must-see list: a show that dances with an exceptional movie, a behind-the-scenes television great doing what he does best, a bold twist on true crime, spectacularly lifelike dinosaurs and murder-mysteries. And, they're just some of 2022's standouts.

Haven't been able to watch all of the year's ace new arrivals thanks to life getting in the way? Not quite sure where to start? With 2022 now at its midway point, here are our picks of the year's 15 best new television and streaming shows — consider it your catch-up list over the next six months.

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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 is available to stream via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

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IRMA VEP

One of 2022's most magnificent new shows, and 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 is available to stream via Neon. Read our full review.

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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 charged with 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 is available to stream via Neon.

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OUR FLAG 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 is available to stream via Neon. Read our full review.

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THE AFTERPARTY

Only Murders in the Building isn't the only new comic murder-mystery series worth streaming from the past year or so. Joining it is The Afterparty, which also sports a killer cast — this time Sam Richardson (Detroiters), Ben Schwartz (Space Force), Zoe Chao (Love Life), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project), Dave Franco (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Tiffany Haddish (The Card Counter) — and a savvy spin on an oft-used gimmick. Rather than skewering true-crime podcasting, this quickly addictive comedy from writer/director Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) toys with the reality that every tale differs depending on the perspective. Whodunnits always hinge upon that fact, and Miller has also clearly seen iconic Japanese film Rashomon. And, considering that its big murder takes place after a school function, there's a touch of Big Little Lies at play, too. With his directing partner Phil Lord, Miller has made a career out of getting smart and funny with familiar parts, however, and that doesn't change here.

The setup: at the afterparty following his 15-year high-school reunion, obnoxious autotune-abusing pop star Xavier (Franco) winds up dead on the rocks beneath his lavish mansion. Enter the determined Detective Danner (Haddish), who starts grilling his former classmates one by one to find out who's responsible. Her interrogations start with the sensible Aniq (the always-great Richardson), who was hoping to finally make a move on his schoolyard crush Zoe (Chao) — and after his version of events, Danner hears from Zoe's macho ex Brett (Barinholtz) in The Afterparty's second episode, then from Aniq's best bud Yasper (Schwartz, riffing on Parks and Recreation's Jean-Ralphio without being quite as ridiculous), and so on. The cast is top-notch, the writing is clever, there's much fun to be had with its genre- and perspective-bending premise, and the throwaway gags are simply glorious.

The Afterparty is available to stream via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

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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 is available to stream via Netflix. Read our full review.

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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 is available to stream via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

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LOOT

Aptly given its title, new Apple TV+ sitcom Loot doesn't look cheap — or sound it. It's partly filmed in one of America's biggest private homes, an enormous mansion with 21 bedrooms, five pools, a bowling alley and a cinema. It's filled with well-known needle drops that come quickly and often, with one episode featuring three Daft Punk tracks alone. It couldn't scream louder or drip harder with excess; the series is about a mega-rich tech whiz's wife who gets $87 billion in their public and messy breakup, after all. And, it is inescapably made by a company that's a big technology behemoth itself, and has been splashing stacks of cash to build its streaming roster (see: The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Severance, Physical, Prehistoric Planet, Foundation, The Shrink Next Door, Shining Girls, Slow Horses, Lisey's Story and more).

Loot is also clearly a satire, however, and a canny, warm and funny one at that. The premise: amid being gifted a mega yacht for her birthday, then jumping to a party in that aforementioned sprawling home, Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph, Big Mouth) discovers that her husband John (Adam Scott, Severance) is cheating on her. Post-divorce, after that huge settlement and a stint of partying around the globe with her assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster, Fire Island), she gets a call from Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pose), the head of the foundation she's forgotten bears her name (and even exists). With Molly's drunken decadence all over the news, the charity is finding it difficult to do its work. So, the organisation's namesake decides to ditch the revelry — and her married moniker, becoming Molly Wells — and put all that dough to better use. She also commits to playing an active role in how her funds can truly help people.

Loot is available to stream via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

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LANDSCAPERS

In 2013, in an ordinary backyard in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK police excavated the bodies of Patricia and William Wycherley. The elderly couple was last seen 15 years prior, with their librarian daughter Susan Edwards and her accountant husband Chris telling neighbours that the Wycherleys had moved — before Susan and Chris fled their own bills and chased their own love of Gallic cinema to France, that is. In 2014, the younger duo were convicted of the Wycherleys murders, despite willingly returning to England to face questioning and offering their own version of events in the process. To the police, the crime was a premeditated act motivated by money. In their tale, Susan and Chris spoke of multiple layers of abuse, of a heated night that ended badly, and of poor decisions inspired by a lifetime of fear.

With Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) playing Susan and David Thewlis (I'm Thinking of Ending Things) as Chris, Landscapers unfurls the Edwards-Wycherley saga, digging into the story's details across a four-part true-crime miniseries. But as its irreverent name makes plain, this isn't the usual dive into real-life crime — and not just because its two leads turn in phenomenal performances that rank among their very best. As he's done in both TV series Flowers and recent feature The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, filmmaker Will Sharpe brings his whimsical style to this experimental retelling. On paper, such a tone and the visual flourishes that come with it might seem ill-suited to the material, but it's all a part of the show's interrogation of how its central pair — and everyone in general — navigate life by spinning their own version of reality. It's an inspired touch, and makes Landscapers one of the most distinctive and engrossing additions yet to a ridiculously busy, ever-popular genre.

Landscapers is available to stream via Neon.

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PACHINKO

When novels are turned into movies, there's usually a sense that's something is missing, no matter how fantastic the film proves. That's understandable; when you compare the time it takes to unfurl a story on the page with the usual running time of a feature — even a lengthy one — not everything can make the leap from book to screen. Named for the gambling machines that fill Japanese arcades, Pachinko turns author and journalist Min Jin Lee's award-winning text into an eight-part series instead, and it's a canny and clever move. So too is getting filmmakers Kogonada and Justin Chon to direct four instalments apiece, both coming off fantastic work via After Yang and Blue Bayou respectively. And, adding to the smart and savvy choices made by this immediately engrossing series, which unfurls a sweeping, 20th century-set, multi-generational tale about struggle, resilience and endurance: casting always-wonderful Minari Oscar-winner Youn Yuh-jung — as well as newcomer Kim Min-ha as the younger version of her character.

Youn and Kim play Sunja (and, as a child, first-timer Yuna does as well), who anchors a story that's both impressively sprawling and devastatingly intimate. As a girl, she grows up in Japanese-occupied Korea, a fact that shapes every part of her young life. When she's older, she moves to Japan — and by the time that she's a grandmother, that's where the bulk of her existence has unfolded. Jumping between different periods, Pachinko charts how the shadow of colonial rule has lingered over not just Sunja but the family she's brought into the world, including in the 80s where her grandson Solomon (Jin Ha, Devs) works in finance in New York and her son Mozasu (Soji Arai, Cobra Kai) has made his way thanks to the titular game. Splashing an epic story told with emotion, resonance, insight and elegance across the screen, this is at the pinnacle of novel-to-screen adaptations.

Pachinko is available to stream via Apple TV+.

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SLOW HORSES

One of several espionage-themed efforts hitting streaming this year — see also: the returning The Flight Attendant and movie All the Old Knives — Slow Horses gives the genre a pivotal switch and entertaining shake up. It's still a tense thriller, kicking off with an airport incident and then following a kidnapping, but it's also about the kind of spies that don't usually populate the on-screen world of covert operatives. Stationed away from the main MI5 base at a rundown, clandestine office called Slough House, Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard) and his team are the agency's rejects. They haven't been fired for a multitude of reasons, however, including boasting ties to influential past employees, being great at their jobs but also a drunk and having impressive hacking skills yet proving impossible to get along with. Given the nickname that gives the show its moniker, usually they do little more than push paper, too, until they get caught up in a high-profile case.

Oldman goes big and broad as Lamb, and he's also ceaselessly absorbing to watch, but Slow Horses isn't short on stars. In a six-episode first season adapted from Mick Herron's 2010 novel of the same name, Kristin Scott Thomas (Rebecca) plays MI5 Deputy Director-General Diana Taverner, Lamb's supremely competent head-office counterpart — although it's Jack Lowden (Fighting with My Family) and Olivia Cooke (Pixie) as young operatives River Cartwright and Sid Baker, and their efforts to chase down a lead they're not meant to, that's at the forefront. Behind the scenes, executive producer and writer Will Smith (not that one) brings a sly and witty way with dialogue from his past work on The Thick of It and Veep, making Slow Horses both crackingly suspenseful and tartly amusing. The slinky theme tune by Mick Jagger also helps set the mood — and season two is already in development.

Slow Horses is available to stream via Apple TV+.

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OUTER RANGE

Some shows commence with a dead girl wrapped in plastic. Others begin with a plane crash on a spooky island. With Outer Range, it all kicks off with a void. On the Abbott family ranch in Wyoming, in the western reach that gives the show its name, a chasm suddenly appears. A perfect circle swirling with otherworldly mist and resembling an oversized golf hole, it's just one of several troubles plaguing patriarch Royal (Josh Brolin, Dune), however. There is indeed a touch of Twin Peaks and Lost to Outer Range. A dash of Yellowstone, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files and whichever family-focused prime-time soap opera takes your fancy, too. As a result, while Royal is visibly disconcerted by the unexpected opening staring at him in an otherwise ordinary field in this intriguing, quickly entrancing and supremely well-acted eight-part series — a show that makes ideal use of Brolin especially — he has other worries.

His rich, ostentatious and increasingly madcap neighbour Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton, Halloween Kills) suddenly wants a parcel of the Abbotts' turf, claiming mapping inaccuracies. One of Tillerson's mouthy and entitled sons, Trevor (Matt Lauria, CSI: Vegas), ends up in a bar spat with Royal's sons Rhett (Lewis Pullman, Top Gun: Maverick) and Perry (Tom Pelphrey, Mank). And there's also the matter of Perry's missing wife, who disappeared nine months back, leaving both her husband and their young daughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie, The Haunting of Hill House) searching since. Plus, into this sea of faith-testing chaos amid such serene and dreamlike scenery, a stranger arrives as well: "hippie chick" backpacker Autumn Rivers (Imogen Poots, The Father). She just wants to camp for a few days on the Abbotts' stunning and sprawling land, she says, but she's a key part in a show that's a ranch-dwelling western, an offbeat enigma, an eerie sci-fi, a detective quest and a thriller all at once.

Outer Range is available to stream via Prime Video. Read our full review.

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THE DROPOUT

Dramatising the Theranos scandal, eight-part miniseries The Dropout is one of several high-profile releases this year to relive a wild true-crime tale  — including the Anna Delvey-focused Inventing Anna, about the fake German heiress who conned her way through New York City's elite, and also documentary The Tinder Swindler, which steps through defrauding via dating app at the hands of Israeli imposter Simon Leviev. It also dives into the horror-inducing Dr Death-esque realm, because when a grift doesn't just mess with money and hearts, but with health and lives, it's pure nightmare fuel. And, it's the most gripping of the bunch, even though we're clearly living in peak scandal-to-screen times. Scam culture might be here to stay as Inventing Anna told us in a telling line of dialogue, but it isn't enough to just gawk its way — and The Dropout and its powerful take truly understands this.

To tell the story of Theranos, The Dropout has to tell the story of Elizabeth Holmes, the Silicon Valley biotech outfit's founder and CEO from the age of 19. Played by a captivating, career-best Amanda Seyfried — on par with her Oscar-nominated work in Mank, but clearly in a vastly dissimilar role — the Steve Jobs-worshipping Holmes is seen explaining her company's name early in its first episode. It's derived from the words "therapy" and "diagnosis", she stresses, although history already dictates that it offered little of either. Spawned from Holmes' idea to make taking blood simpler and easier, using just one drop from a small finger prick, it failed to deliver, lied about it copiously and still launched to everyday consumers, putting important medical test results in jeopardy.

The Dropout is available to stream via Disney+. Read our full review.

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MOON KNIGHT

Marvel's knack for casting is one of its superpowers, and it flexes those talents in Moon Knight. Enlisting Oscar Isaac fresh from the phenomenal 2021 trio that is DuneScenes From a Marriage and The Card Counter is as shrewd a casting move as the behemoth responsible for the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made, especially given that he plays two roles in one. The series starts with Isaac as Steven Grant, who works in the gift shop of a British museum, wishes he could lead tours instead, studies Egypt and sports a broad English accent. Oh, and chains himself to his bed every night, even though he has trouble sleeping. But as gaps in his days lead him to learn, Steven is also American mercenary Marc Spector — or, to be exact, vice versa. Complicating matters further, he's the on-earth conduit for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu as well.

Even within franchise confines, Isaac is mesmerising in Moon Knight, playing a man grappling with dissociative identity disorder — as complex a character as the MCU has delivered so far — who's also drawn into a continent-hopping mystery-adventure. Also complicating matters: shadowy cult-like figure Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird), who has unfinished business with Khonshu and big plans of his own. Welcomely, the Marvel formula feels fresher here. Also pivotal: that, because it branches off with a previously unseen protagonist rather than the sprawling saga's usual heroes, this is the first MCU Disney+ series that doesn't feel like homework. Having filmmakers Mohamed Diab (Clash) and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Synchronic) also leaves an impression, in what's easily the most intriguing small-screen Marvel effort so far.

Moon Knight is available to stream via Disney+. Read our full review.

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ARCHIVE 81

Australian Malignant, The Conjuring and Saw filmmaker James Wan doesn't direct any episodes of Netflix's new sci-fi/horror series Archive 81, but he does lend his executive producing skills to the podcast-to-screen show — and it's easy to see why. The immediately creepy found-footage effort slots in seamlessly among the fright-inducing fare that's helped make his career, all while taking its time to dole out its scares, shocks and eeriness. It's also plain to see why Resolution, The Endless and Synchronic directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead helm two episodes, too, thanks to their already-demonstrated affection for mind-bending, genre-twisting tales that play with space and time. That pedigree alone makes Archive 81 a must-see for movie buffs, and so does the fact that the series also doubles a love letter to everything strange and out-there that's ever been captured on celluloid.

Usually devoting his time to unearthing lost gems or just trawling through old video tapes looking for recorded treasure, film archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie, Black Box) gets an unexpectedly lucrative job offer: restoring Hi8 footage shot by college student Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi, Altered Carbon) back in 1994. He has to agree to live in a remote compound, under video surveillance, to take the gig — and he'll be sifting through material that Melody filmed in the Visser, an odd New York apartment building where she was looking for her mother but started to notice otherworldly things afoot. Much of the thrill of the impeccably made Archive 81 stems from its multi-layered mysteries, including what's actually happening back in the 90s, the real motives behind Dan's well-paying position and why the two time periods seem to start bleeding together. Developed, produced and mostly penned by The Boys alum Rebecca Sonnenshine, it makes for tense, trippy and often daring viewing, even when things get a tad silly in the supernatural department.

Archive 81 is available to stream via Netflix.

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Looking for more viewing highlights? Check out our list of film and TV streaming recommendations, which is updated monthly.

We also keep a running list of must-stream TV from across the year so far, complete with full reviews.

Published on July 08, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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