Strange Angel is the best original series on 10 All Access
Strange Angel is the best original series on 10 All Access

Best show on 10’s new streaming service

Yes, it's a busy time of the year, with shopping, Christmas parties and more family obligations than usual.

But, be honest, why do you want slip into another pair of uncomfortable shoes when you could be on your couch, semi-comatose from gingerbread cookies?

And Christmas shopping is definitely some demonic torture ritual - are we all already in the Bad Place?

Spare yourself the grief and the stress - pack in all the festive activities and tell everyone you're only celebrating Saturnalia this year. People will get a glazed look in their eyes and leave you be to not sweep up the tinsel from the cracks in your floorboards. Winning.


(10 All Access - now)


Strange and alluring
Strange and alluring

Strange Angel is the most promising of the three original shows 10 All Access is brazenly betting people will pay $10 a month to watch. Based on the bizarre true story of rocket scientist Jack Parsons, the 1930s-set show has an impressive pedigree, created by Mark Heyman, the writer for Black Swan and The Skeleton Twins.

Starring the charismatic Jack Reynor (Sing Street) alongside Rupert Friend and Australian Bella Heathcote, the show delves into the ambitious Parson's quest to prove sceptics wrong about the possibilities of sending something beyond the Earth's atmosphere.

All the while, he finds himself drawn to an occultist group connected to Alistair Crowley.

Jack Parsons was a complex individual, a combination of gumption, brazenness and a lust for fantasy - it's exactly that volatile personality that enabled him to change history.

Strange Angel is an intriguing series with first class actors and high production values, vividly bringing its art deco, post-Depression Los Angeles period to life. The first episode was directed by acclaimed indie filmmaker David Lowery (A Ghost Story, The Old Man & the Gun), who establishes a rich visual style.

If there's any reason to sign up for 10 All Access, it's for Strange Angel - that, and maybe the old Twilight Zone episodes.


(SBS and SBS on Demand - Wednesday, December 12 at 9.35pm)


Tight confines, hot tempers — what a mix
Tight confines, hot tempers — what a mix


A continuation of Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 claustrophobic World War II epic, Das Boot, this German series is a complex and thrilling beast, encompassing not just the action within the tin-can of a U-boat submarine but also the resistance movement on land in La Rochelle.

Set nine months later in 1942, the expensive eight-part series (estimated at $39.6 million), follows the 40-man crew of U-612, sent on a secret mission. Among the crew are Captain Klaus Hoffman, the son of a war hero, and radio specialist Frank Strasser.

On land in La Rochelle, where the submarine base is, Frank's sister Simone becomes caught up in the resistance movement, quite by accident.

Beautifully shot and composed, the tense Das Boot, featuring some of those same frenzied and claustrophobic submarine scenes, has great performances from a mostly German cast, but also Vicky Krieps, from Luxembourg, and Americans Lizzy Caplan and Vincent Kartheiser.

The whole season will drop on SBS on Demand on Wednesday.


(Netflix - Friday, December 14 from 7pm AEDT)


The witching hour is here
The witching hour is here


A surprise hit, the macabre Chilling Adventures of Sabrina returns, briefly, this week with a special holiday episode. Holiday, and not Christmas, because they're devil-worshipping witches and don't celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. OK? Just so we're clear.

There are some cheeky poltergeists, a Yule Log, a séance gone wrong and a malevolent child harvester - though that last plotline is sadly short-changed.

Encompassing the same fun witchy spirit as the first season, Sabrina's holiday special will tie you over until the second season drops in April.


(Netflix - Friday, December 14 from 7pm AEDT)


Roma is a semibiographical story of Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood
Roma is a semibiographical story of Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood


Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron's love letter to his childhood growing up in 1970s Mexico City, Roma is currently in limited release in cinemas right now. If you can, watch it on the big screen. But for those with less time or the inclination to leave their house, the film drops on Netflix this Friday.

Shot in crisp black-and-white, it tells the quiet, intimate story of Cleo, a servant for a middle-class family. She works in the background, looking after everyone, but her real value is indemonstrable.

Roma is an extraordinary achievement - a tender, vivid story and gorgeously shot film with depth and love.


(Netflix - Friday, December 14 from 7pm AEDT)


Netflix’s first Australian original could’ve been so much better
Netflix’s first Australian original could’ve been so much better


While Netflix has co-funded a few Australian shows with other broadcasters, mostly the ABC (Pine Gap, The Letdown, Glitch), Tidelands has the distinction of being the first original series wholly produced and funded by Netflix in Australia.

Shot in southeast Queensland and starring a local cast, including Charlotte Best, Peter O'Brien, Madeleine Madden and Chris Hemsworth's wife, Elsa Pataky, the series is a supernatural crime show.

The concept is there is a small coastal town with some strange citizens - sirens, those mythical creatures that lured fishermen to their deaths. Kind of like mermaids, but without the tail.

The story kicks off with the return of the prodigal daughter of a local crime family, Calliope McTeer (Best), back from prison. Her arrival, unsurprisingly, is the catalyst for all sorts of shenanigans.

Tidelands is not what you'd call prestige TV - its writing and performances are too lightweight and there are some elements that are ridiculous. And the supernaturalness of it all will turn off plenty of viewers.

But there is a younger audience out there for these murderous, mythical stories who'll gobble it up. It's just a shame Netflix's first original Australian series is so underwhelming.


(Stan - Saturday, December 15)


Understatement is overrated
Understatement is overrated


In an explosion of glitter and high heels, RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars is back this weekend with a cast of fierce contestants out to prove that they deserve to be Drag Race royalty.

Returning favourites include Farrah Moan from season nine, out to show that she's more than a crybaby, meme queen Jasmine Masters from season seven and the very tall and ironically named Naomi Smalls from season eight.

RuPaul promises this season will "Blow. Your. Mother. Tucking. Mind." That's not a typo.


(Stan - now)


‘What happened to Brooklyn?!’
‘What happened to Brooklyn?!’


Tracy Morgan's comeback vehicle, The Last O.G. is a 22-minute, 10-part comedy series that also stars Tiffany Haddish, Cedric the Entertainer and Allen Maldonado.

Morgan plays Tray Baker, who on the night of the first American Idol finale, is arrested for dealing drugs. Fifteen years later, he's released from prison, returning to a changed and gentrified Brooklyn more concerned with designer dogs and sustainably sourced organic coffee bars.

His girlfriend (Haddish) has also moved on, to a townhouse, a white guy named Josh (Ryan Gaul) and a high-flying job.

Now that home is like a foreign land, Tray has to reclaim his life, which includes getting a job when no one wants to hire a felon.

The humour here is big but when you put Morgan and Haddish together, there's something fun in their riffing.


(Lifestyle Food on Foxtel - Monday, December 10 at 7.30pm)


This (almost) makes me wish I could bake.
This (almost) makes me wish I could bake.

You can almost smell that ginger and spice in the air. The lovely, lovely folks over at the Great British Bake Off (ie. the most restorative TV show on air) will screen their two most recent holiday specials (2017's) over two nights this week.

Which means you will salivate over sumptuous-looking yuletide logs, mince pies, snowglobe cakes, Bombe Alaskas, magical ice cakes and pistachio Kransekake Christmas trees. As always, make sure you have some kind of sugary treat in your house before watching any episode of GBBO.

Returning contestants include the very energetic Val and her bestie, the cool and chilled out Selasi, also known as the Edris Elba of GBBO (well, known by me), both from the 2016 series.

Share your TV and movies obsessions: @wenleima

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