As the cold weather settles in for an extended stay, it’s good to know there are plenty of viewing options to warm up the country’s long winter nights.
July’s free-to-air options include the return of previous contestants for Three’s The Block: Redemption (TBC), the Pax Assadi-hosted comedy panel show Rabble Rousers (Three, July 14) and a new series of Taskmaster NZ (TVNZ 2, July 6).
Netflix’s extensive line-up includes new instalments of the Martin Henderson-starring Virgin River (July 20) and reality competition Blown Away (July 22), a small-screen version of Resident Evil, Jack Black coming back for Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight (both July 14) and the provocatively titled home renovation show How to Build a Sex Room (July 8).
* Along For the Ride With David O’Doherty: This hilarious delight comes to TVNZ
* The Terminal List: Chris Pratt’s deeply disappointing return to the small screen
* The Social Media Virgin: One Kiwi’s crazy quest makes for engrossing TVNZ+ viewing
* The Lazarus Project: Neon’s dense, but devilishly addictive sci-fi thriller
Elsewhere, Neon hosts the fourth season of the US spin-off of Kiwi mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (July 14) and yet another expansion of the Pretty Little Liars universe – Original Sin (July 29), TVNZ+ boasts British sitcom Hullraisers (July 13) and the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under (July 30) and Disney+ has the third round of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (July 27).
However, after looking through the schedules, Stuff to Watch has come up with the list of the 12 shows we’re most excited to see debut over the next four weeks.
Thomasin McKenzie returns to the small screen, Neil Patrick-Harris deals with heartbreak and Taron Egerton finds himself with an awful dilemma, in new shows arriving this month.
Black Bird (July 8, Apple TV+)
Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear and the late, great Ray Liotta team up for this six-part drama about a man, initially sentenced to 10 years in a minimum-security prison, who is given “the choice of the lifetime”. Either serve out his full sentence with no possibility of parole, or enter a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane and befriend a suspected serial killer.
Based on the 2010 true crime memoir In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, the show has been developed by Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone scribe Dennis Lehane.
Hidden Assets (July 11, Acorn TV)
Detective Emer Berry must get to the bottom of why a small-time drug dealer is receiving huge sums of money in the form of rough-cut diamonds in this six-part Irish police procedural.
Begrudgingly working with the police commissioner, together they unravel a political conspiracy fuelling domestic unrest for financial gain.
“A first-rate Irish crime drama series with Scandi-noir twists,” wrote The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle.
Hitmen (July 27, Vibe)
Former Great British Bake Off hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins reunite for this six-part comedy about two best friends – Fran and Jamie – who accidentally stumble into a career in contract killing.
“It’s the unfakeable comedic understanding between Perkins and Giedroyc that really makes it work – they fit each other like old comedy shoes, and the one shoe instinctively knows what the other is doing,” wrote the Sydney Morning Herald’s Brad Newsome.
James May: Our Man in Italy (July 15, Prime Video)
While we eagerly await the second series of Stanley Tucci noodling around the various regions of Italia, here’s a former Top Gear host exploring the country’s history, landscapes and traditions over the course of a six-part series.
As he travels everywhere from the Sicilian capital of Palermo to the peaks of the Dolomites, can a bumbling, middle-aged, British bloke discover the secrets of “la dolce vita”?
Life After Life (July 8, TVNZ+)
New Zealand’s own Thomasin McKenzie headlines this four-part BBC adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s critically acclaimed and best-selling 2013 novel.
She plays Ursula Todd, an unusual young woman who navigates the first half of the 20th century while experiencing a seemingly endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
“[It] achieves its seemingly unreachable goals by anchoring its philosophical ambitions with some wonderful performances and absorbing narrative themes,” wrote The Arts Desk’s Adam Sweeting.
The Midwich Cuckoos (July 4, Neon/Sky Go)
Already given the cinematic treatment numerous times, John Wyndham’s 1957 seminal sci-fi novel finally gets a seven-part television adaptation.
Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley headline this take on the small English commuter town that is panic-stricken when people suddenly start passing out. Everything then seemingly returns to normal, except that every woman of childbearing age has suddenly – and inexplicably – fallen pregnant.
“Effective, engaging and full of ideas. It is, at its core, a fascinating thesis on bodily autonomy and the crippling anxieties of young parenthood,” wrote Ireland’s Independent’s Chris Wasser.
The Old Man (July 13, Disney+)
Based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Thomas Perry, this seven-part thriller’s impressive ensemble includes Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, Alia Shawkat and Amy Brenneman.
It’s the story of former CIA operative Dan Chase (Bridges), whose longstanding off-grid life is shattered when he kills an assassin who breaks into his Upstate New York home.
“What makes this … more than just another boomer action-adventure epic is its interrogation of the selfish, destructive, and self-righteous Chase’s claim to heroism,” wrote Time magazine’s Judy Berman.
Paper Girls (July 29, Prime Video)
Based on the best-selling graphic novels written by Brian K. Vaughan, this follows the fortunes of four girls, who, while out delivering papers on the morning after Halloween in 1988, find themselves unwittingly caught in a conflict between warring factions of time travellers.
Transported into the future, the quartet must figure out a way to get back home to the past, a journey that will bring them face-to-face with the grown-up versions of themselves.
Sherwood (July 12, TVNZ+)
David Morrissey, Lesley Manville, Joanne Froggatt and Robert Glenister lead off a deep bench of British acting talent assembled for this six-part crime drama about two shocking and unexpected murders that shatter an already fractured community. It all leads to one of the largest manhunts in UK history.
“Taut and involving drama about a community dealing with the scars of the past … A triumph,” wrote The Times’ Ben Dowell.
Surface (July 29, Apple TV+)
Eight-part San Francisco-set psychological thriller which sees Gugu Mbatha-Raw play a woman who has suffered a traumatic head injury that has left her with extreme memory loss.
As she attempts to put the pieces of her life back together with the help of her husband and friends, she begins to question whether the truth she has been told is the one she has actually lived.
Too Close (July 14, Eden)
Emily Watson and Denise Gough team up for this three-part British crime-drama about a forensic psychiatrist who is charged with assessing a woman accused of a heinous crime, who claims she can’t remember a thing. Based on Natalie Daniels’ popular 2018 novel.
“The idea of a psychiatrist becoming fascinated – or manipulated – by a patient is hardly uncharted territory, but Gough and Mortimer are two of our best actresses. Watching them go head-to-head is a treat,” wrote London Evening Standard’s Katie Rosseinsky.
Uncoupled (July 29, Netflix)
From the creator of Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Sex and the City and, umm, Emily in Paris, Darren Star, comes this new eight-part romantic-comedy about Michael (Neil Patrick Harris), who is forced to start over when he is blindsided by his husband suddenly bringing their 17-year marriage to a close.
Overnight, he’ll have to confront two nightmares – losing who he thought was his soulmate and navigating life as a single gay man in his mid-40s in New York City.