What’s on the box? 12 new TV shows and films this week
Nowhere to go and nothing to see? Au contraire - snuggle down on the sofa and transport yourself with the best new watches of the week.
Lovers Rock (BBC 1, Sun 22 Nov)
After last week’s thrilling true story Mangrove, set in late 1960s Notting Hill, the second in Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen’s five interrelating Small Axe films for small screen, Lovers Rock moves to 80s West London. The film is a fictional ode to the romantic reggae genre, young love and boozy West Indian house parties, despite social unrest. It opened to wall-to-wall rave reviews at the New York Film Festival.
We Are The Champions, Season 1 (Netflix, 17 Nov)
Tried out any new hobbies during lockdown? Knitting, yoga… cheese-rolling? This original new docuseries from Netflix explores some of the world’s weirdest sports and competitions, from dog dancing to fantasy hair-styling. Oddly inspiring.
Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas, Season 1 (Netflix, 18 Nov)
If you’ve not put up the Christmas decorations yet (I’m twitching to whack up the tinsel but Mr M has vetoed it until December), then this might inspire you to put a little extra ‘oomph’ into this year’s efforts. Interior designer Benjamin Bradley (aka Mr. Christmas) puts his team to work to transform homes into winter wonderlands.
The Princess Switch: Switched Again (Netflix, 19 Nov)
One for Vanessa Hudgens fans, as she plays no fewer than three different characters in this sequel to 2018 family film The Princess Switch. Think The Princess Diaries mixed with The Parent Trap, with a healthy dose of Christmas cheese.
Alien Xmas (Netflix, 20 Nov)
Exhausted all your usual Christmas cartoons already? Stick the little ones in front of Alien Xmas, an adorable stop-motion about X, an alien defending Earth from invading forces (with the help of Father Christmas, natch). It’s only 42 minutes long so not too gruelling for adults to sit through either.
Voices of Fire, Season 1 (Netflix, 20 Nov)
This should be a mood-lifter if ever I saw one. Pharrell Williams heads back to his hometown in Virginia to help his uncle, Bishop Ezekiel Williams, put together one of the world’s most inspiring gospel choirs.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (Netflix, 22 Nov)
Dolly’s here to save Christmas! Her brand new festive musical includes 14 original songs devised by the Queen of Country herself, and stars Christine Baranski as a modern day Scrooge attempting to evict the residents of a small town on Christmas Eve. Luckily, an angel (played by a rhinestone-bedazzled Parton) steps in to remind her what the holidays are all about – awww.
One Man and His Shoes (BBC Three, 17 Nov)
This documentary examines how Michael Jordan’s stratospheric rise to stardom helped elevate then-struggling shoe brand Nike throughout the 1980s to become the cultural icon we know today – but at what cost? Not just one for sneakerheads and sports fans, director Yemi Bamiro touches on race, class and advertising in the film’s 83 minutes.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special (Disney+, 17 Nov)
Readers of a certain age (*ahem*) might remember the first, and disastrous, Star Wars Holiday Special that debuted in 1978, and this LEGO version pokes fun at it in more ways than one. Rey discovers a time travel device that sees her whizzing through some of the franchise’s most iconic moments – lots of meta silliness ensues.
The Good Lord Bird (Sky Atlantic, 18 Nov)
Based on the award-winning novel by James McBride and produced by and starring Ethan Hawke, this miniseries set in the mid-19th century examines the life of the ferocious abolitionist John Brown. Newcomer Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Little Onion, a young slave who ends up in Brown’s company and gets involved in the famous 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry.
The Photograph (Sky Cinema, 20 Nov)
Two love stories for the price of one in this romance starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield. Main character Mae is investigating the life of her late mother, a famous photographer named Christina Eames, with the help of journalist Michael. As their relationship begins to blossom, we also see Christina’s love life through flashbacks.
The Pack (Amazon Prime, 20 Nov)
It might be absolutely bonkers but a reality TV show about dogs travelling the world might be just what you need after another week of lockdown. Twelve dog-owner duos take part in a series of global challenges to win a $500,000 prize as well as a $250,000 donation to an animal charity of their choice.