pick of the week
There are no bells and whistles about this new thriller – and it’s all the better for it. The Patient is a spare, nervous affair: two actors with compelling chemistry and a good premise unfolding over 10 concise 20-minute episodes. Steve Carell is psychotherapist Alan Strauss, recovering from a bereavement, then abducted and imprisoned by patient Sam (Domnhall Gleeson). Sam seems a gentle and reasonable sort – all he wants is for Alan to cure him of his awkward compulsion to murder, which he has been powerless to resist several times. Cue a suffocatingly intimate two-hander, as Alan realizes that his survival depends on his therapeutic ability.
Disney+ , from Wednesday 30 November
Another generation gets the chance to appreciate the wonders of Willow, as Warwick Davis reprise his role as the titular sorcerer from Ron Howard’s 1988 film in this new series. Once again, the forces of evil need defeating and a by now middle-aged Willow is summoned to work his magic. The tone is subtly (and refreshingly) different from much recent fantasy, with the smothering earnestness replaced by self-deprecating humour. However, as the nature of Willow’s quest becomes apparent, the stakes couldn’t be higher. A lavishly enjoyable affair, with Joanne Whalley also returning as Sorsha.
Disney+, from Wednesday 30 November
The Kingdom Exodus
Back in 1997, before cinematic notoriety kicked in, Lars von Trier was responsible for The Kingdom, a dark TV phenomenon centered on a haunted hospital in Copenhagen. In the subsequent two-and-a-half decades, von Trier has become the transgressive bad boy of European cinema and, sadly, three key cast members of The Kingdom have died. In admirably self-reflexive style, the director has worked around this problem, creating a third season based on the legendary status of the “stupid TV show” that created the cult in the first place.
Mubi, from Sunday 27 November
Alfred Molina was clearly born to play a gnarled but sensitive and melancholic detective in a mystery drama – and so it has come to pass. In this adaptation of Louise Penny’s novel series, he plays chief inspector Armand Gamache, an intuitive cop investigating a series of murders in Three Pines, an apparently idyllic village in rural Quebec. As with all crime-plagued fictional rural idylls, a little light probing uncovers all manner of dysfunction. But inevitably, Gamache also has to reckon with hidden darkness of his own.
Prime Video, from Friday 2 December
The housing situation in the UK is, of course, difficult. But could you be persuaded to share a bed with a stranger? And would it help if you never actually had to meet them? Adapted from Beth O’Leary‘s novel, this is the neat premise of a fun six-part comedy-drama. Jessica Brown Findlay stars as Tiffany, a skint twentysomething who finds herself in an odd arrangement with Leon (Anthony Welsh): they will flatshare but never meet, thanks to opposite working patterns. “It’s not romantic,” says Leon. “It’s practical.” Who does he think he’s kidding?
Paramount+, from Thursday 1 December
This soapy, hyper emotional drama is based around a friendship rather than a love affair. But the currents run just as deep and the scars of a lost friendship are just as painful. As we rejoin Tully and Kate (Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke), we’re about to find out what ended their incredibly tight 30 years of mutual support. By means of an explanation, Kate is struggling with the aftermath of Johnny’s ordeal in Iraq while the previously ostentatiously successful Tully is facing career oblivion after a brutal lawsuit. Expect tears and tantrums, hugging and learning.
Netflix, from Friday 2 December
We are starting to see the TV harvest of Covid-19 come to fruition, as ideas hatched during the pandemic make it to our screens. This Turkish miniseries imagines a pandemic spread through verbal communication – a sort of raging, jabbering mental disorder afflicting conversation. In a world of protective headphones, linguist Murat Siyavus seems to be the only person who is immune, but he also has to protect himself from the enigmatic Anti-Epidemic organization who are desperate to understand the reasons for his immunity.
Netflix, from Friday 2 December