Small Screen Highlights: Summer Streaming

Screenhub Hivemind

Pull down the blinds, turn off the phone and prepare for a holiday binge. Here are some suggestions from Stan, Netflix, iView and more.
Small Screen Highlights: Summer Streaming

Image: You're only young twice. Gothic fairytale BLOOM stars Phoebe Tonkin and Jacki Weaver. Source: STAN. 

Check Out New Australian Drama

Bloom (STAN, 1 January)

Last New Year's Day, STAN premiered its original Australian drama series Romper Stomper. This time, it's unveiling Bloom, a mystery drama 'about the scarcity of time and the choices we make'.

One year after a devastating flood kills five locals in a country town, a new plant appears that bestows the gift of youth. Jacki Weaver plays a former actress with Alzheimer's who is restored to her youthful beauty (played by Phoebe Tonkin). Initially this delights her husband (Bryan Brown) but he soon discovers the dangerous side of the miracle that some will kill to keep secret. The series also stars Ryan Corr, John Stanton, Sam Reid, Genevieve Morris and Tessa Rose. Bloom is a Playmaker production for Stan and is created by Glen Dolman (Hawke), produced by Sue Seeary (Love Child, House Husbands) and shot by Geoffrey Hall (Red Dog). The first three parts are directed by John Curran (Tracks, Praise), and the last three by Mat King (Pine Gap, Dr Who). Nobody's seen it yet, but hopes are high for a supernatural drama along the lines of the hit series Glitch.

 

Tidelands (Netflix, now available)

Another Australian supernatural thriller set in a small town, Netflix's first fully funded original Australian series Tidelands was released last week to a mixed critical response. Many seemed disappointed the 8-part series wasn't 'prestige TV' . The story follows a former criminal (Charlotte Best) who returns home to the remote coastal village of Orphelin Bay where strange and dangerous half-siren half-human creatures, known as 'Tidelanders' are luring men to their deaths.Shot in southeast Queensland and made by Hoodlum Entertainment, the series was created and produced by Stephen M Irwin (Wake in Fright, Australia Day) and Leigh McGrath. It stars Elsa Pataky (also known as Mrs Chris Hemsworth) as the authoritarian leader of the sirens, as well as Aaron Jakubenko, Marco Pigossi, Jacek Koman and Alex Dimitriades.

Writing for News.com, Wenlei Ma was unimpressed, finding it 'lightweight and underwhelming', but said: 'It has hotties with supernatural powers in a small town-contained soap opera story, punctuated by violence and “sexy” nudity. So, yes, it will have an audience.’

Getting right onto the wavelength of the show, however, was Junkee's entertainment editor Patrick Lenton, who enjoyed the 'hot semi-nude mermaids and ab-packed smugglers who just love sex, drugs and magic horns'.Lenton admitted that Tidelands 'had all the gratuitous sex, muscled bodies and random violence of something like True Blood, but without the defined and committed aesthetics and actual sense of fun.' but found himself 'absolutely and utterly hooked'.

Buzzfeed have published an article entitled 'Tidelands is so bad it's good and here are the Tweets to prove it'. It makes for entertaining and sometimes hilarious reading. We are intrigued. 

 

No Activity: The Night Before Christmas (Stan)

No Activity was the hilarious semi-improvised comedy series that defined Stan's local content when it was launched. The show was so successful it was remade as a US version, but now there's a one-off Australian Christmas comedy special, reuniting inept detectives Hendy and Stokes (Patrick Brammall and Darren Gilshenan) on their latest police assignment. Tasked with a Christmas stakeout, they're monitoring the scene from their parked car as a disgruntled Santa Claus (David Field) and his elf (Dan Wyllie) hold a group of innocent shoppers hostage inside a mall. Trent O'Donnell is back directing the Jungle Entertainment production, which also stars our favourites Genevieve Morris and Harriet Dyer.

 

Snack on Short Animation: Lost & Found

Australian short animation Lost & Found has already picked up a bunch of awards, including the AACTA for Best Animated Short, Short Film Production of the Year at the Screen Producers Australia Awards,and Best Animation and the Major Award at the AWGIE Awards. But now it's been named as one of ten films on a shortlist for the Academy Award for Best Short Animation. Nominations will be announced 22 January.

In the meantime, watch this adorable bittersweet tale of friendship and devotion between two knitted animal toys. The completely dialogue-free film, co-directed by Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe, and produced by Lucy J. Hayes, is available to watch on YouTube now. It's only seven and a half minutes and well worth your time.

 

 

Watch Prestige Cinema at Home

Roma (Netflix, 2018, 135 mins)

This sweeping Mexican masterpiece, distributed by Netflix, is rightly featuring large in Best Of 2018 critics' lists and Awards nominations, after premiering at the Venice International Film Festival in August and winning the Golden Lion. Roma is written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity), who also shot the film himself in sumptuous black and white, and co-edited the picture. The story is set in 1970/71 in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City, and focuses on Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a maid in a middle-class home with an unhappy couple and their four children. Inspired by Cuarón's own childhood and the woman who helped to raise him, the film gives dignity and scope to the tragedies, joys and heartaches of a humble life. The intimate story is set against a grandly realised backdrop of political and domestic unrest.There are scenes in this film you will never forget.

Bird Box (Netflix, 2018, 124 mins, from 21 December) 

Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a survivor (Sandra Bullock) and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. This Netflix feature film is written by Eric Heisserer (Arrival), based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. The film is directed by the wonderfully intelligent Danish director, Susanne Bier (Brothers, In a Better World and After the Wedding) and also stars John Malkovich and Sarah Paulson. It looks tense and terrifying.

 

Have your own Australian Film Festival on SBS On Demand

Flick through the feature film selection on SBS On Demand, and you'll find the 'Homegrown' category of Australian films. With 36 titles to choose from, they're a mixed bunch of classics, curiosities and trash. Revisit the feminist standout Shame (1988) starring a young Deborra-Lee Furness, or watch Michael Hutchence and Saskia Post in Dogs in Space (1986). Other options include Death in Brunswick (1990), Angel Baby (1995), Razorback (1984) and Body Melt (1993). If you enjoyed Stan's first Australian feature The Second, why not watch the previous film written by Stephen Lance, My Mistress (2014)? Or you could have yourself a teenybopper Nicole Kidman double bill with Bush Christmas (1983) and BMX Bandits (1983).


Catch Up with Aunty

According to TV Tonight, ABC iview have a huge list of titles available to catch-up over summer, until Thursday 7 February. Some of the shows we personally intend to finish include Killing Eve, The Letdown and Pine Gap.

Comedy:

The Letdown
Rosehaven (Series 1 & 2)
Sando
Squinters
Superwog
Ronny Chieng International Student
Get Krack!n’
Back in Very Small Business
Black Comedy (Series 3)
Comedy Up Late (Series 4, 5 & 6)
Melbourne Comedy Festival 2018
Melbourne Comedy Festival 2017
Fresh Blood: The Angus Project. (Pilot)
Fresh Blood: Be Your Own Boss (Pilot)
Fresh Blood: Koala Man (Pilot)
Fresh Blood: Why Are You Like This (Pilot)
Dead Boss
Threesome (Series 1 & 2)
Way to Go (Series 1)
This Country (Series 1 & 2)
Zapped (Series 1 & 2)
Plebs (Series 1, 2 & 3)
Catastrophe (Series 1, 2 & 3)
Hang Ups (Series 1)
Gary And His Demons (Series 1)
What Could Wrong? (Series 1)
The Housemate

Drama

Mystery Road
Killing Eve
Harrow
Pine Gap
F*!#ing Adelaide
Deadlock
Cleverman (Series 1 & 2)
Friday on My Mind
Pulse
Doctor Who (Series 11) plus the Doctor Who Festive Special
Janet King (Series 3)
Jack Irish (Series 2)

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And that's a wrap!

The Screenhub Hivemind wishes you all a very happy, safe and entertaining summer break. We'll see you next year with more small screen highlights.

About the author

Mostly David Tiley and Rochelle Siemienowicz, with contributions from friends, fans and Artshub staff. Between us, we flinch at nothing.