Now that the summer holidays are all but a distant memory, it’s the perfect time to escape to worlds real and imagined.
TVNZ on Demand
One of the best things about TVNZ on Demand is the growing catalogue of great local drama. Written by Westmere local Pip Hall, Runaway Millionaire has been nominated as a finalist in five categories including best screenplay in the 2020 New York Festivals Film & TV Awards. It’s the story of a Rotorua couple who become instant millionaires, a dream come true, or is it? Told through the eyes of Kara Hurring, it’s the story of a financially struggling couple who go from pumping gas to a life on the run with 10 million dollars they were given by mistake. Four and a half stars.
Neon or Prime free-to-air
The Brokenwood Mysteries
Now up to series 5, The Brokenwood Mysteries is New Zealand’s answer to the much loved Midsomer Murders. It has all the compelling charm of the best who-done-it style police procedural shows. With well-structured plots set in a small rural town that could be just like the one you last visited, there are enough twists to keep you guessing to the end. The likeable hero, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd, played by Neill Rea, solves macabre, inventive and sometimes unlikely crimes with a team of characters you quickly grow to enjoy watching. While totally binge worthy, the longer format (usually one hour 30 mins +) means the mystery is solved within a single episode, making it totally satisfying to just watch one at a time. Three and a half stars.
A UK crime drama with echoes of a chilling psychological thriller. The Stranger is the latest of this genre to drop from Netflix and is loyal to the binge worthy nature of such shows. At times the way secrets are revealed by The Stranger are truly creepy and it becomes hard to know who the good guys and who the bad guys are. While the plot has intrigue to keep you on the edge, it’s hard to become truly invested in all the characters – unlike in Broadchurch or The Fall. The series may have you wondering what secrets you hold that could end up destroying your world. Three and a half stars.
Danish productions are increasingly popular – in fact, global demand is said to exceed supply. Aimed at teens, the Danish/UK production of Ragnarok is a supernatural mystery that highlights the conflict Scandinavian countries experience between industry and the environment. Set in a fictional Norwegian town where gods and giants once lived and fought themselves to supposed extinction, a misfit teen, Magne, new to town, is determined to do what’s right. When he realises he is the embodiment of Thor, the action ramps up. Ragnarok is certainly a bit different; it’s a mystery filled with interesting, quirky teen characters that traverse a full range of issues including climate change. The weird English dubbing makes it feel a bit clunky but it is still well worth a binge watch. Maybe the subtitled version would have been better. Three and a half stars.
Escape to a world that is lost. The latest series brings the novels of Diana Gabaldon to life once more on our screens. With incredible cinematography, beautiful costuming and a perspective on history that is mostly accurate, if slightly simplified, this series has charmed viewers the world over. It’s a love story filled with action and adventure that crosses centuries, continents and generations. Against a consistent backdrop of arrogant colonial expansion, the hapless lovers Jaime and Claire contend with the travesty of historical events they know they have little power to change. They must bear witness to unpalatable moments in history and potentially cannot avoid their own untimely deaths, or can they? Seasons one to three were 100% binge worthy and while four to six continue to please, they may not be quite as satisfying as earlier ones. Four and a half stars.