It’s a veritable chocolate box of choices this December week in TV and streaming, with the return of the ‘White Wolf’ in dark fantasy favourite, The Witcher, a documentary on the ills of social media from David Baddiel, crime dramas from New Zealand and Italy, and an angry, anime red panda from Netflix. Here’s what you should be watching this week, Mon 13 – Sun 18 December.
David Baddiel: Social Media, Anger and Us – Documentary Special
Much like the experience of being on the platforms and applications themselves, our opinions on social media can be extremely volatile and polarising. Some see the benefit in having an interconnected, globalised culture where communication has few barriers and information is widely accessible. Others see the danger in having millions upon millions yelling unproductively into a void – or worse, an echo chamber of unchecked extreme opinion. If you fall more into the latter camp, David Baddiel: Social Media, Anger and Us might confirm – to the point I just made – what you already think. If it’s the former, maybe the one-hour slice of factual BBC programming might instead be a wake-up call, or merely a cautionary tale about the toxic effects Facebook et al can have on the delicate developing psychologies of teenagers, not to mention those of us susceptible to the addicting qualities of the infinite scroll. (So… all of us, right?)
Airs Mon 13 Dec at 9pm / Wed 15 Dec at 11:15pm on BBC Two, and available for streaming on iPlayer thereafter.
The Gulf, Season 2
An exclusive to crime-specialists Alibi, The Gulf is pitched as New Zealand’s answer to Nordic/Scandi-noir – itself an antidotal answer to the quintessential, cosy whodunnit genre that we Brits (and some Americans) love, influenced, thematically, by the oppressive bleakness of a part of the world that sometimes only gets around six hours of sunlight per day. Much of our view of New Zealand – or perhaps, my generation’s, anyway – is coloured by the epic vistas present in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which to be honest, make anything thereafter set in the island nation feel instantly nostalgic and atmospheric. The Gulf doesn’t feature any orcs or (sadly) Viggo Mortensen jogging across said vistas but it does have amnesiac detective Jess Savage (real name) investigating the morally grey areas of both her own identity and a crime-ridden Waiheke Island. The miniseries returns for a second serving this week in December.
Begins airing Wens 15 Dec at 9pm on Alibi.
Aggretsuko, Season 4
Anime has been prospering on Netflix for the past few years, with the streaming service even switching to a more standard weekly episode release pattern for brand new shows to compete with the likes of Crunchyroll and Funimation, who lure in fans with the promise of simulcasts and simuldubs. Of the many hits and misses in Netflix’s catalogue, Aggretsuko, with its quirky premise and underlying themes, is absolutely one of the feathers rather than fluffers in its cap. Based on a mascot created for cutesy company Sanrio (of Hello Kitty fame), the series follows Millenial red panda office worker, Retsuko, an anxious young woman who vents her frustrations about daily life through nightly death metal karaoke sessions. The show’s contrast of adorably animated characters with mental health issues, work stresses and Retsuko’s desperate search for contentedness has earned it praise beyond typical anime audiences. Season 4, streaming this week, will hopefully continue that positive trend.
Streaming from Thurs 16 Dec on Netflix.
The Witcher, Season 2
Henry Cavill and fantasy lovers alike rejoice! Streaming giant Netflix’s The Witcher is returns to TV for a second season this December week, bringing more bardcore bangers, gratuitous bathtub nudity and confusing timeline shifts with it, I’m sure. Adapted from Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s popular book series of the same name, and before that, an equally successful game series by CD Projekt Red, the second season of the TV version will largely draw from Sapkowski’s Blood of Elves, which continues the partnership of Cavill’s Geralt and lost magical princess Ciri (Freya Allan). In the story, Geralt takes Ciri to the Witcher keep to meet his master, Vesemir, the backstory of whom was recently adapted into a pretty decent Netflix Original ‘Anime’ film, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, which probably isn’t essential viewing ahead of the second helping of the live-action show but will certainly give you some helpful solid footing in sordid, monster slayer history. Like the first season, The Witcher Season 2 will be comprised of another eight episodes.
Streaming from Fri 17 Dec on Netflix.
Gomorrah, Season 5 (final)
Mafia dramas have more or less been entirely defined by the likes of The Godfather and The Sopranos, but for something straight from the source – that source being Italy, not America – you can’t go wrong with Gomorrah, which is about to enter its fifth and final season. The Sky exclusive drama series, created by the author of its literary source material, Roberto Saviano, follows the Napalese Savastano clan, told through the eyes of up-and-comer Ciro Di Marzio (“The Immortal”), who has to navigate internal and external warfare: chief among them being the Conte family. Though it’s not a household name over here, Gomorrah has become the ‘most-watched’ cable show for Sky and garnered a huge global audience after being packaged off to nearly 200 international stations. It’s also gone down pretty smoothly with most critics, too, with one particularly memorable review from The LA Times describing it as the “real Italian espresso” of the mafia genre after “years of skinny vanilla lattes.” Take that, Tony!
Begins airing Sun 18 Dec on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.
words HANNAH COLLINS
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