The January nights are becoming darker and drearier… so why not curl up with some terrifying TV tales courtesy of Ozark – now entering Season 4 – and Servant, a show that even Stephen King hides behind a pillow to watch. And if all that’s too much, you can wash it down with a chaser of Jim Hensen muppetry. All this and more is in this week’s TV and streaming recommendations for Mon 17 – Sun 23 January.
DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, Book Two
Sitting pretty on the success of its Castlevania and Arcane adaptations, Netflix is perhaps looking to make that three for three on video game properties with its second helping of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood. It’s also one of the few Netflix Original ‘Anime’ – or just Netflix Original anything – to avoid the early cancellation axe the streaming service has become so unpopular for. The first season of DOTA isn’t in the same league as the aforementioned shows, but you can’t say it’s not a fun watch: a semi-original world of adult high fantasy, a quipping odd couple at the helm and a protagonist with a dark secret that sometimes emerges to rip people apart, ala Venom. By far the most interesting character, however, is a nefarious elf wizard willing to do anything – even kill his cold-hearted ex (who happens to be a god) – to revive their lost daughter. This won’t win over anyone not sold on any of those things on paper, but for video game enthusiasts, animation aficionados and Dungeons & Dragons dabblers, it’s worth a look.
Available to stream from Tues 18 Jan on Netflix.
Queens, Series Premiere
Not too long ago in a previous TV/streaming guide, I flagged up spoofy girl band series called Girls5eva. Well, think of Queens as its R&B/hip-hop equivalent. This one has even more music star power behind it, including late 90s/early-mid 00s genre royalty in the form of Brandy, Eve and Naturi Naughton from the group 3LW. Together with Nadine Velazquez (My Name Is Earl, The League), they make up the group ‘Nasty Bitches’ under the monikers Professor Sex, Butter Pecan, Jill Da Thrill and Xplicit Lyrics. Once riding high on their superstardom nearly three decades ago, the now middle-aged women look to do what all formerly successful bands do: reunite, try it all again and capitalise on nostalgia. Behind the camera, meanwhile, are the makers of Scandal and the Ride Along film series, bringing together a more than capable pool of drama, musical and comedy talent. If nothing else, those who are just happy to watch these former chart-toppers still getting steady work might find something bingeable here.
Available to stream from Wens 19 Jan on STAR on Disney+.
Ozark, Season 4a (Final)
Widely regarded as one of Netflix’s best original shows (which, let’s be brutally honest, isn’t that hard), Ozark is starting its TV endgame this week with the release of Season 4 – or the first portion of it, anyway. Starring Jason Bateman in a rare dramatic turn and the consistently excellent Laura Linney, the dark crime drama has been a real slow-burn, gradually finding stronger and more distinctive ground to tread in that hallowed genre as it progressed, culminating in a roundly-praised third season. As we’re living in the age of the antihero, it’s increasingly hard for stories cut from that gritty cloth to stand out. In that vein, Ozark is all too easy to compare to the likes of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, shows that certainly paved the way for it to find an audience. But maybe you’re hoping to fill that precise Tony and/or Walter hole in your TV viewing, for which this money laundering classic-in-the-making is just the tonic. Just make sure to crank up the brightness on your screen before diving into Season 4.
Available to stream from Fri 21 Jan on Netflix.
Servant, Season 3
When horror icon Stephen King takes the time to call something “spooky as hell,” you know to either jump on the bandwagon or avoid it like the plague depending on your tolerance for that kind of thing. If you are looking for a damn good fright this January, and haven’t totally given up on executive producer M. Night Shyamalan making anything of substance since The Sixth Sense, Servant, an early-ish launch series for Apple TV, is about to enter its third season. Featuring, perhaps most notably for British viewers, Ron Weasley – as he’ll forever be known, sorry Rupert – Servant focusses on Shyamalan’s favourite haunt, Philly, and a couple whose babysitter to their young son coincides with some chilling goings-on in and around the house. Though Shyamalan has been present on set, his daughter Ishana has actually been more involved than him on the directorial front in Season 2, and has clearly picked up her father’s eye for intensity and atmosphere.
Available to stream from Fri 21 Jan on Apple TV+.
Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock
Bet you thought you wouldn’t see that name again? Well, actually, this isn’t the first but the second return for the zany, puppet-based Jim Henson property that isn’t the Muppets (but kind of also is the Muppets) has made recently: In case you missed it, Fraggle Rock: Rock On! was released in 2020 on Apple TV. In this iteration, and following an almost 10-year absence and multiple failed reboots, the series had the Fraggles adhering to COVID restrictions by bubbling in their own caves and communicating with each other long-distance. Even glorified sock puppets aren’t safe in this pandemic, it seems. Now, Back to the Rock brings the peculiar colony of music-loving creatures a little closer together for a full-on series (Rock On! was really a test run of shorts), which might appeal to both inner and outer children alike. Fun but slightly off-topic fact: In some parts of Europe, Fraggle Rock was called the rather on the nose, The Silly Creatures of Outer Space.
Available to stream from Fri 21 Jan on AppleTV+.
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