There’s so much on streaming and yet it’s all kind of the same. You can’t say that about this genre-hopping series.
There’s so much on streaming and yet it’s all kind of the same. You can’t say that about this genre-hopping series.

Bold, experimental and addictive TV show

Maybe you spent the break catching up on shows you missed during the year, or maybe you spent all your time swooning over the bright young things on Bridgerton.

Either way, I hope you managed to wile away some spare time on some great movies and TV shows, because this week is a supercharged week of new stuff, including Marvel's inevitable conquest of the small screen as well as the big.

And as always, I've paired all the new offerings with something similar from the archives, in case you're in the mood.

Happy watching!

SOMETHING WITH A JIGSAW OF STORIES

ROOM 104 S4

 

Melissa Fumero out of the Nine-Nine
Melissa Fumero out of the Nine-Nine

RELATED: Hailee Steinfeld on fame, art and Dickinson season two

Created by the Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, the fourth and final season of Room 104 starts this week. An anthology series set in a motel room in which every episode a different set of characters call it their temporary home, it's a genre-hopping and imaginative series.

Room 104 is as comfortable being a musical one week as it is a horror the next. Occasionally, it's even animated. Its anthology format makes it easy to dip in and out while its audacious experimentation means you'll never be away from it for long. Truly one of the more original shows to come along in a while.

Among the guest cast for season four are Dave Bautista, Melissa Fumero and Jillian Bell.

Stream it: Binge/Foxtel Now

NIGHT ON EARTH

 

That’s a young Giancarlo Esposito on the right
That’s a young Giancarlo Esposito on the right

 

Jim Jarmusch's 1991 movie takes place over one night across five cities (LA, NYC, Helsinki, Paris and Rome) a collection of vignettes about five taxi drivers and their passengers for the night. Separated by geography and culture, each story is themed on the universal experience of strange and funny human connections.

The cast includes Winona Ryder, Giancarlo Esposito, Gena Rowlands, Rosie Perez and Roberto Benigni while Tom Waits did the music. Much like Jarmusch's other work, Night on Earth is a curious little film.

Stream it: YouTube Movies

SOMETHING REALITY-BENDING

WANDAVISION

 

WandaVision will kick off Marvel Studios’ TV slate
WandaVision will kick off Marvel Studios’ TV slate

RELATED: All the Marvel movies ranked

WandaVision is the first of six planned Marvel streaming series this year alone, a signal that Marvel Studios is not content with merely dominating cinema screens. WandaVision uses Scarlet Witch's (Elizabeth Olsen) reality bending powers to create a world (or pocket universe?) in which she and Vision (Paul Bettany) live in suburbia as a "normal" couple in the style of family TV sitcoms of every era. Expect antics, action and the always great Kathryn Hahn.

Stream it: Disney+, from Friday, January 15

INGRID GOES WEST

 

A clever parable about the dangers of social media
A clever parable about the dangers of social media

 

It's not reality bending in the superhero way but the darkly comedic Ingrid Goes West does swim in the morphed reality of an Instagram-obsessed woman (Aubrey Plaza) who moves to LA to emulate and ingratiate herself with a social media personality (Elizabeth Olsen).

A scathing satire of the shallow, curated fakery of social media, Ingrid Goes West asks at every turn, is any of it real? It's Single White Female for the Instagram generation.

Stream it: iTunes, Google Play or other digital purchase platforms

SOMETHING FROM STEPHEN KING

THE STAND

 

The Stand was previously adapted for TV in the 90s
The Stand was previously adapted for TV in the 90s

 

Maybe your appetite for an apocalyptic horror series is a little waning, but this adaptation of Stephen King's 1978 novel is here, nonetheless. Set after a pandemic wipes out a huge chunk of the human population (uh oh), the supernatural series is pitched as a battle between good and evil in the fight for our soul.

What it does have is a phenomenal cast which includes James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgard, Whoopi Goldberg, J.K. Simmons, Heather Graham and Australian Odessa Young.

Stream it: Amazon Prime Video, from Friday, January 15

THE OUTSIDER

 

Also starring Ben Mendelsohn
Also starring Ben Mendelsohn

 

It's a bummer that The Outsider won't be returning for a second season because Cynthia Erivo's iteration of preternaturally gifted investigator Holly Gibney should get another go-around.

Here, she's brought in after an upstanding local man is arrested for the murder of a young boy in a gruesome crime but there's the question of how he could've been in two places at the same time.

Stream it: Binge/Foxtel Now

SOMETHING CULTY

SERVANT S2

 

Victim or perpetrator?
Victim or perpetrator?

 

If you haven't already seen the first season of creepy thriller Servant, I won't give too much of it away. An underappreciated gem, the M. Night Shyamalan-produced series tells the story of a well-to-do family who hires a strange nanny.

The requisite twist comes early in the first season and the second season, which starts this week, builds on the tension and anxieties by flipping on its head our expectations of victim and perpetrator.

Stream it: Apple TV+, from Friday, January 15

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

 

Martha Marcy May Marlene also stars Sarah Paulson
Martha Marcy May Marlene also stars Sarah Paulson

Yes, it's a bit of an Elizabeth Olsen-themed week. When she's not playing a Marvel superhero, Olsen has built a steady career from smaller indie fare.

Martha Marcy May Marlene was her breakout role in 2011 when the most interesting thing about her was that she was the younger Olsen sister to those famous twins. Her performance in this thoughtful character-driven film about a young woman escaping a cult proved to everyone that her notable family was the least interesting thing about Olsen.

Stream it: iTunes/Google Play

SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU THINK

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

 

One Night in Miami is Regina King’s directorial debut
One Night in Miami is Regina King’s directorial debut

 

One of the best reviewed films of the past year, One Night in Miami is centred on a fictionalised meeting Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke in 1964, a gathering of powerful black men during the fraught civil rights era.

Directed by Oscar and multiple Emmy-winning actor Regina King from a screenplay by Soul co-writer and co-director Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami won the runner-up People's Choice Award at TIFF, a reliable Oscar predictor.

Stream it: Amazon Prime Video, from Friday, January 15

WHEN THEY SEE US

 

When They See Us is based on a true story
When They See Us is based on a true story

Be warned, When They See Us is not an easy series to watch. Not in the slightest. Ava DuVernay's miniseries about the Central Park Five is a deeply upsetting but compelling work of art about the five young boys, from minority backgrounds, who suffered a great injustice when they were rounded up and accused of raping a white woman in 1989. They didn't do it but institutions threaded with systemic racism in its DNA doesn't care.

DuVernay's dramatisation tells the stories and experiences of the Central Park Five so that they are finally "seen".

Stream it: Netflix

SOMETHING WITH A MISSING WOMAN

SEARCH PARTY S4

 

How is Dory going to get out of this?
How is Dory going to get out of this?

RELATED: Search Party season three review

Dory's gone and done it now. After the shenanigans of searching for the not-so-missing Chantal and getting herself caught up in a string of dramas (and murder), Dory is now the face on the missing poster.

Kidnapped by a crazed fan, can her feckless friends mount a rescue? The odds don't look good, but, hey, this is a dark TV comedy, so her chances are vastly improved compared to real life. Plus, now Susan Sarandon is on the case.

Stream it: Stan, from Thursday, January 14

GONE GIRL

 

Never cross Rosamund Pike
Never cross Rosamund Pike

But the really batty missing girl award has to go to Gone Girl's Amy Elliott Dunne, the conniving, determined and just-ever-so-unhinged titular character in David Fincher's taut and thrilling adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best-selling novel.

When Amy disappears, her husband Nick, with his propensity to smile at inappropriate moments, becomes a person of interest. But nothing is what it seems.

Stream it: Amazon Prime Video

SOMETHING WITH CALIFORNIAN TEENS

COBRA KAI

 

Johnny Lawrence finally grows up?
Johnny Lawrence finally grows up?

Never mind that there are so many criminal assaults and destruction of property committed in almost every episode with few legal consequences and barely any school suspensions. Cobra Kai blends nostalgia with drama in this sequel series set 30-something years after the first Karate Kid movie as Danny and Johnny rehash old rivalries through a new generation.

The third season dropped over the break and it's nice to see some actual character progression, even if its commitment to binary villainy is still over-the-top.

Stream it: Netflix

THE OC

 

Fa-la-la-la-la
Fa-la-la-la-la

It's not just LA-adjacent setting of Cobra Kai (the Valley) that evokes The OC, or the fact that there is a poor kid living in the guest/poolhouse of a rich family, it's that there is that same earnest vibe in which people try their darnedest to do the right thing, but also that others behave so inexplicably badly.

The balance between the adults trying to keep control of their melodramatic lives and the angst of the teens falling in love, falling out of love makes for addictive viewing.

Stream it: Binge/Foxtel Now/Stan

Share your TV and movies obsessions | @wenleima

Originally published as Bold, experimental and addictive TV show



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