Documentary Review: The Social Dilemma (Netflix)

Directed by Jeff Orlowski and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis, The Social Dilemma aired on Netflix in September 2020 and explores the rise of social media. Focusing on its exploitation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining, the documentary looks at the damage it has caused to society, how its design is meant to nurture addiction, its use in politics, its effect on mental health, and its role in spreading conspiracy theories.

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TV Review: The Haunting Of Bly Manor (Netflix)

The follow-up series to The Haunting of Hill House (although not connected) and created by Mike Flanagan for Netflix, The Haunting Of Bly Manor is loosely based on Henry James‘s work, particularly his 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw.

The story tells of Dani (Victoria Pedretti), a young governess who is hired by a man (Henry Thomas) to look after his niece and nephew – Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) – at the family country house after they fall into his care. Arriving at the Bly estate, she meets chef Owen (Rahul Kohli), groundskeeper Jamie (Amelia Eve), and housekeeper Mrs Grose (T’Nia Miller). But she soon begins to see apparitions that proceed to haunt the premises.

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TV Review: 9-1-1 (Sky Witness) – Season Three

The third season of Sky Witness’s 9-1-1, created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear and follows the lives of Los Angeles first responders: police officers – Athena (Angela Bassett) – paramedics – Hen (Aisha Hinds) and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) – firefighters – Bobby (Peter Krause), Buck (Oliver Stark), and Eddie Diaz (Ryan Guzman) – and dispatchers – Maddie Kendall (Jennifer Love Hewitt). The latest season picks up 5 months after the events of the last season as a massive tsunami hits the Santa Monica Pier.

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TV Review: Criminal: UK (Netflix) – Season Two

The second series of Netflix’s police procedural anthology series created by George Kay and Jim Field Smith aired in September 2020. Set within the confines of a police interrogation room, the series follows a group of London investigators – Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Hobbs (Katherine Kelly), Detective Inspector Tony Myerscough (Lee Ingleby), Detective Constable Hugo Duffy (Mark Stanley), Detective Constable Vanessa Warren (Rochenda Sandall), and Detective Constable Kyle Petit (Shubham Saraf) – who engage in intense games of psychological cat-and-mouse with their suspects to find the answers that they need to solve their cases.

The latest series sees the team question Julia Bryce (Sophie Okonedo) when a routine interview with a convicted killer’s wife takes a provocative turn, arrogant businessman Alex (Kit Harington) who is accused of rape by a woman who works for him, Danielle Dunne (Sharon Horgan) who is the head of an online group that unmasks sexual predators, and Sandeep Singh (Kunal Nayyar), a shrewd convicted killer wanting to cut a deal.

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TV Review: Criminal: UK (Netflix) – Season One

A police procedural anthology series created by George Kay and Jim Field Smith, the first series of Criminal: UK aired on Netflix in 2019. Set within the confines of a police interrogation room, the series follows a group of London investigators – Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Hobbs (Katherine Kelly), Detective Inspector Tony Myerscough (Lee Ingleby), Detective Constable Hugo Duffy (Mark Stanley), Detective Constable Vanessa Warren (Rochenda Sandall), and Detective Constable Kyle Petit (Shubham Saraf) – who engage in intense games of psychological cat-and-mouse with their suspects to find the answers that they need to solve their cases.

This first series sees them question Dr. Edgar Fallon (David Tennant) who is suspected of sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter, Stacey Doyle (Hayley Atwell) who is accused of poisoning her sister’s partner, and Jamal ‘Jay’ Muthassin (Youssef Kerkour) who must help the police locate an abandoned trailer full of immigrants.

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TV Review: Appropriate Adult (ITV) – Miniseries

Originally aired on ITV in 2011, Appropriate Adult is a two-part miniseries that focuses on the way in which the Gloucester serial killers Fred (Dominic West) and Rosemary West (Monica Dolan) were brought to justice in 1994. During his time under police investigation, Fred was granted an appropriate adult, which role was given to housewife Janet Leach (Emily Watson). When she first attends a police interview with Fred, he confesses to killing his daughter. He then privately tells Janet that there were more victims, but appropriate adults cannot share conversations. Janet is given the opportunity to leave the case due to its distressing nature, but she resolves to continue in hopes of finding Fred and Rose’s other victims.

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TV Review: Des (ITV) – Miniseries

Aired in September 2020, ITV’s Des is a three-part miniseries that tells the true story of Dennis Nilsen (David Tennant), the Scottish serial killer who was arrested in 1983. When Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) is called to the leafy North London address, he discovers the drains clogged with rotting flesh and bones. As he waits for Nilsen to return from work, he expects the culprit to deny accountability. But when Nilsen freely admits that it’s not just one or two bodies but “15 or 16”, the police must work quickly to try to secure a conviction and identify the victims, as biographer Brian Masters (Jason Watkins) begins a game of chess with `Des’ in an attempt to understand his motives.

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TV Review: Harlots (BBC) – Season Two

Originally premiered on ITV Encore in July 2018, Harlots has recently been picked up by BBC, with the first series airing from the beginning in August 2020, and the second continuing in September 2020. Written, directed and produced by an all-female team, and created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman, the 18th-century drama is set in London and follows brothel owner Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) and her two daughters, Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Lucy (Eloise Smyth). Continuing from the drama of series one, Margaret and Nancy (Kate Fleetwood) must race to find witnesses to give evidence against Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), as Charlotte settles into life at Quigley’s house while secretly plotting against her.

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TV Review: Harlots (BBC) – Season One

Originally premiered on ITV Encore in March 2017, Harlots has recently been picked up by BBC, with the series airing from the beginning in August. Written, directed and produced by an all-female team, and created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman, the 18th-century drama is set in London and follows brothel owner Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton). As well as her two daughters, Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Lucy (Eloise Smyth), Maragaret also runs her business from the family home. But when it is attacked by rival Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), a war breaks out over the city’s most profitable commercial activity: sex.

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TV Review: Little Birds (Sky Atlantic) – Season One

Released on Sky Atlantic in August 2020, the six-episode series is playfully inspired by Anaïs Nin’s 1979 collection of erotic short stories. Set in Tangier in 1955, Little Birds follows heiress Lucy Savage (Juno Temple) who, fresh off the transatlantic steamer, is ready for love. But when her husband Hugo (Hugh Skinner) does not receive her in the way she expected. But Lucy desires an unconventional life free from the societal cage she’s been kept in and finds herself on the cusp of achieving a painful yet necessary independence.

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TV Review: The Mandalorian (Disney+) – Season One

Created by Jon Favreau and released on Disney+, The Mandalorian is the first live-action series in the Star Wars franchise. Set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi and 25 years prior to the events of The Force Awakens, it follows the title character, a Mandalorian bounty hunter named Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), and his exploits beyond the reaches of the New Republic.

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TV Review: The Deceived (Channel 5) – Season One

Created by Tobias Beer and Lisa McGee, The Deceived aired in August 2020 and follows university student Ophelia (Emily Reid) who falls for her married lecturer, Michael (Emmett J Scanlan). When he mysteriously disappears, she tracks him down and discovers that his wife has died in a fire. So why is Ophelia seeing visions of her in their house?

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TV Review: Snowpiercer (Netflix) – Season One

Created by Josh Friedman and Graeme Manson and based on the Bong Joon-ho film of the same name which was released in 2013, which in turn is based on the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, the ten-part Netflix series aired in May 2020. A reboot of the film’s continuity, the series follows the passengers of the Snowpiercer, a gigantic, perpetually moving train that circles the globe carrying the remnants of humanity seven years after the world becomes a frozen wasteland. Built by billionaire Wilford, the train is rigidly separated by class, with passengers caught up in a revolutionary struggle against the strictly imposed social hierarchy and unbalanced allocation of limited resources.

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TV Review: The Secrets She Keeps (BBC One) – Season One

Adapted from the award-winning book by Michael Robotham and aired on BBC One in July 2020, The Secrets She Keeps is a six-part drama which follows two women – Agatha (Laura Carmichael) and Meghan (Jessica De Gouw) – from vastly different walks of life who hold one thing in common – explosive secrets that could destroy everything they hold dear. Both will risk everything to conceal the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in one shocking act that cannot be undone.

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TV Review: Broadchurch (ITV) – Season One

The eight-part series which originally aired on ITV in 2013 and created by Chris Chibnall, Broadchurch is set in the fictional close-knit coastal town of Broadchurch and follows local police officer Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and shady newcomer D.I. Alec Hardy (David Tennant) as they investigate the murder of an 11-year-old boy. It’s not long before they are forced to look at the community in a whole new and disturbing light.

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TV Review: Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Netflix) – Documentary

Based on the 2016 book of the same name by James Patterson and released on Netflix in May 2020, the four-part documentary, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, explores the crimes of the wealthy convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and exposes a sex-trafficking ring of powerful enablers leading up to his 2019 arrest. It features interviews with several survivors and former staff members and former police chief Michael Reiter, a key individual from the first criminal case against Epstein.

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TV Review: Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix) – Season One

A reboot of the American series which began in 1987 and was originally presented by Raymond Burr, Karl Malden, and Robert Stack, Netflix aired the first volume of Unsolved Mysteries in July 2020. The series documents a collection of cold cases and paranormal phenomena, rooted in the experiences of ordinary people who have lived the unthinkable. Families, detectives and journalists hope viewers hold the clues to solving these mysteries.

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TV Review: Thirteen Reasons Why (Netflix) – Season Four

The fourth and final season of Netflix‘s Thirteen Reasons Why sees Liberty High School’s Senior Class prepares for graduation. But before Clay (Dylan Minnette), Jessica (Alisha Boe), Justin (Brandon Flynn), Alex (Miles Heizer), Zach (Ross Butler), Tony (Christian Navarro), Tyler (Devin Druid), Ani (Grace Saif), and Charlie (Tyler Barnhardt) can say goodbye, they’ll have to keep a dangerous secret buried and face heartbreaking choices that might alter their lives forever.

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