Viewers who find comfort in platitudinous waffle will be heartened by Winfrey’s contention that the current pandemic is “an opportunity” for us all “to really rise”. The reassurance of her favourite pastor, Wintley Phipps, that “nothing can happen to us that we can’t handle” will be of limited use to anyone currently being zipped into a body bag. Idris Elba, calling in from isolation with his own barely symptomatic COVID-19, floats the idea that the disease could be nature striking back against humanity for the damage we’ve inflicted on it. It’s not clear how literal he’s being but when you step through the looking glass into Winfrey’s world, anything is possible.
There are, however some more edifying episodes, such as Winfrey’s interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, and who has some interesting suggestions for viewers struggling with isolation. Perhaps most useful of all is the simple introduction to mindfulness relaxation techniques by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the scientific application of mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Just trying his breathing exercise for a few seconds will leave you much more relaxed by the end of the episode – if not fast asleep. Winfrey has the biggest Rolodex in the business, so there’s no telling who she’ll have on next.
We’re off to Wales, where the grey skies match the slate coming out of the quarries, but neither is quite as dark or heavy as the crime at the centre of this engrossing drama series. When a young woman washes up dead in a chilly stream, it’s soon clear that she has been held – shackled – for a long period of time. The viewer soon knows who the rustically grotesque culprits are, but detectives Cadi John and Owen Vaughn (Sian Reese-Williams and Sion Alun Davies) do not.
Metal Down Under
Amazon Prime Video
How the times and the music have changed! Director Nick Calpakdjian’s three-hour odyssey into the history of the Australian heavy metal scene is a celebratory delight loaded with nostalgia – particularly for those old enough to remember the ’80s and ’90s, when independent record stores such as Melbourne’s Central Station were life-sustaining hubs for pre-internet metal communities. Packed with entertaining and illuminating interviews, it covers the story right up to 2014, highlighting the innovation and influence of under-appreciated artists.
The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show
The energy and attitude of Iliza Schlesinger’s new sketch show might remind viewers of Inside Amy Schumer (Foxtel On Demand) but, to begin with at least, the sketches aren’t as tightly edited, Schlesinger doesn’t quite match Schumer’s sublime filth, and her dissection of societal misogyny isn’t quite as memorably sharp. There are plenty of chuckles to be had, though, not least in Schlesinger’s “Ripped Fat-Guy Workout” videos and the “Female Jackass” skits showing how creative women can be when it comes to hurting themselves. Well worth a look.
Tales from The Loop
Amazon Prime Video
Sci-fi technology provides a retro-futuristic heavy-industrial backdrop to this series of interconnected stories. The stories themselves, though, are very much human ones, with wistful melancholy running through them like a splintery skewer through satay chicken.
Events take place in what looks like the ’80s in a small town in rural Ohio, where an experimental-physics facility known as The Loop rumbles away underground. The results of the experiments down there manifest in different ways, from the sight of a giant robot walker standing silent and snow-covered in the woods to an eerie kind of localised, accelerated entropy. Growing up in town is a young girl (Abby Ryder Fortson) who you’d suspect would be completely alone were it not for the mother she wholeheartedly adores.
But in the first story, directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo), the mother disappears and the girl is left to deal with a kind of mystery and tragedy that only The Loop can produce. Series creator Nathaniel Halpern (Legion), adapting the narrative art book by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, has quite a trip in store.
The Funny Dance Show
It’s a simple concept. Get a bunch of comedians who aren’t known for their dancing – and who, in fact, aren’t very well known at all – and pit them against each other in comedic dance-offs. The first episode has Jessimae Peluso and the hilariously German Flula Borg taking on Candice Thompson and Maz Jobrani in a high-energy interpretive dumpster fire that covers everything from paternity tests to prison riots. Everyone looks like they’re having a blast. Also on Foxtel On Demand.
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