P-Valley S1 and everything else that’s new on Showmax this November

1st seasons of P-Valley, The Undoing; new seasons of His Dark Materials, Famalam, Das Boot; full season of I May Destroy You  

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FAMALAM S3 | Binge now, first on Showmax

The BBC’s hilarious sketch comedy, Famalam, is back for its third season. Learn how to make White People Chicken, see our favourite aunties handle their nephew coming out, and discover Nollywood’s ‘finest’. We’ll also get to check out Idris Elba’s skill set (Idris Elba can do anything!), and watch the rudest Midsomer Murders ever. 

The Independent (UK) calls it “a sublime achievement of satire,” saying, “Like all the best sketch shows, Famalam is a mix of comforting recurring characters and scenes, but tweaked with a delightful and clever wit on every outing.”

Nigerian Gbemisola Ikumelo picked up a 2020 BAFTA nomination for her performance in Famalam, which has also earned writer-producer Akemnji Ndifornyen a BAFTA TV Craft Award and Samson Kayo nominations for Best Comedy Performance at both the BAFTAs and the Royal Television Society Awards.

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DAS BOOT S2 | Binge now, first on Showmax

A reboot of Wolfgang Petersen’s Oscar-nominated classic 1981 movie, this German World War II drama has an 85% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Das Boot possesses the atmospheric pressure of its cinematic forebear while adding new depth to its compelling ensemble, making for a riveting international production.” Or as The New Statesman puts it, “Each episode is like a shot of something very illegal to my arm.”

Last year, Das Boot won the Magnolia Award at Shanghai International TV Festival for Best Foreign TV Film/Miniseries and Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) won the Golden Nymph for Best Actress – Drama Series at Monte-Carlo TV Festival. She also picked up the Best Actress award at the German Television Awards, where Das Boot won Best Cinematography. The series was nominated for Best Sound Design at the 2020 German Television Academy Awards, where it won for Best Visual Effects last year.

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PRIMAL S1B | Binge now, first on Showmax 

Adult Swim’s Primal has just won three Outstanding Achievement In Animation Awards at the 2020 Emmys, for storyboard artist Genndy Tartakovsky, art director Scott Wills, and character designer Stephen DeStefano. 

From Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai JackHotel Transylvania), Primal follows a caveman at the dawn of evolution and a dinosaur on the brink of extinction. The two creatures, one on the way out and one on the way in, become each other’s only hope of survival in a treacherous world. 

Primal has an 8.7/10 score on IMDb and a 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus is, “Epic in every sense, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal is a stunning feat of visual storytelling.”

| Binge now 

Nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the 2020 Emmys, this in-depth docu-series shines a spotlight on one of the most polarising political figures of our time, Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

The four-part series, directed by Oscar nominee Nanette Burstein (On The RopesAmerican Teen), tracks Hillary’s life from childhood to the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond, drawing on thousands of hours of footage and extensive interviews with Clinton herself, as well as her family, friends, journalists and even former US President Barack Obama. 

Hillary won the Critics’ Choice Real TV Award for Limited Documentary Series and holds an 80% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “It’s difficult to think of any film that speaks to our moment as strikingly as this documentary does,” says The Wall Street Journal, while The Times UK calls it an “astounding and audacious political documentary”. 

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Oscar winner Russell Crowe (A Beautiful MindGladiator) won a 2020 Golden Globe for his unrecognisable performance as disgraced Fox News head Roger Ailes in this biographical mini-series, which was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Limited Series.

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Based on Gabriel Sherman’s bestselling book The Loudest Voice In The Room, the series charts the former CNBC president’s meteoric rise as he’s hired by Rupert Murdoch to establish a new cable channel aimed specifically at conservatives. As Fox News grows from strength to strength, Ailes sets about capitalising on 9/11 to push the network to the top of the ratings race, pit the might of his news empire against the Obama administration, and eventually, throw his weight behind the Trump campaign. In the process he becomes known as the “de-facto leader of the Republican Party” – until his fall from grace after years of sexually harassing his female co-workers.

The Loudest Voice also stars Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (The ImpossibleTwin Peaks21 Grams), Golden Globe nominees Sienna Miller (American SniperFoxcatcher) and Josh Charles (The Good Wife), and the Oscar-nominated creator of Family Guy and The Orville, Seth MacFarlane. 

Time Magazine calls it “an elegant mix of character study, workplace drama and political thriller,” while Indiewire says it’s “a compelling, even artful, historical horror show out to remind viewers how news and politics were manipulated into the sorry state they’re in today.” 

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NEW AMSTERDAM S2 | Binge now

Based on Eric Manheimeris’ book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital, this moreish medical drama centres on Dr Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold from 90210 and The Blacklist), the new director at America’s oldest public hospital, New Amsterdam, who sets out to put saving lives above the bottom line, and breathe new life into this underfunded and underappreciated hospital.

But Max has had his own demons to battle, with a cancer diagnosis putting early strain on both his professional and personal life. Then tragedy struck at the end of Season 1, with a horrific accident just moments after the birth of Max and Georgia’s daughter. We know not everyone survived, and it’s been a hard wait to find out who made it and who didn’t. The three most important women in Max’s life were in that ambulance, and this season, a devastated Max will have to pick up the pieces, because New Amsterdam needs him more than ever. 

The hit series has an 8.1/10 score on IMDb and has been renewed for a further three seasons.

WORLD ON FIRE S1 | Binge from 5 November

Set in 1939, on the eve of the German invasion of Poland, World on Fire follows the interwoven stories of ordinary people caught up in catastrophic global events beyond their control.

The critically acclaimed World War II drama has an 84% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has already been renewed for a second season. 

The impressive cast includes BAFTA winner Sean Bean (Game of ThronesLord of the Rings), Oscar winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It GetsMad About You), Oscar and BAFTA nominee Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Harlots), and Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women) who’s set to star as Prince Eric in the upcoming Disney live-action remake of The Little Mermaid

“It’s hard to recall any dramatic work that captured the terror of this invasion with such immediacy,” says Wall Street Journal.  

BBC hailed it as a“must-watch”, with Scott Bryan calling it “deeply haunting… a remarkable form of storytelling; from different sides, different locations, people from different classes, sexualities…”, and Hayley Campbell praising its depiction of “war, on a personal level… focusing on civilians rather than soldiers; this huge global thing shrunk right down.”

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I MAY DESTROY YOU S1 | Binge from 11 November

I May Destroy You centres on Arabella (BAFTA winner Michaela Coel from Chewing Gum), a carefree, self-assured Londoner with a group of great friends, a boyfriend in Italy, and a burgeoning writing career. But when her drink is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life.

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I May Destroy You is #21 on Rotten Tomatoes Best TV of 2020 (So Far), with a 97% critics rating and a critics’ consensus that reads, “I May Destroy You is at once brave and delicate, untangling the trauma of sexual assault with dark humour and moments of deep discomfort, all held together on the strength of Michaela Coel’s undeniable talent”. 

In their five star review, The Guardian raved, “It is the drama of the year so far… Michaela Coel’s exploration of consent, race and millennial life… works on every level… An extraordinary, breath-taking achievement without a false note in it, shot through with humour and with ideas, talent and character to burn at every perfectly plotted turn.”

Including it in their roundup of the 10 Best TV Shows of 2020 So Far, The Hollywood Reporter called it, “The most ‘2020’ show of 2020”, adding that it’s “representative of the mood of the moment – the combination of anger, confusion, uncertainty and unexpected humour; the exploration of intersections of gender and race, sexuality and violence, youth and hard-earned experience.”

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ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER? S1 | Binge from 16 November

Round up the family and fire up your brain cells! There’s $1million up for grabs in this hit game show. All you have to do to win is be smarter than a 5th grader. 

But if the past 13 years since the show first aired have taught us anything, it’s that 5th graders are pretty damn smart. And even the most confident of grown-up boffins are often … not. 

The latest US edition of the show sees host John Cena (Bumblebee) step into the ring with the hopefuls, who’ll be racking their brains for those elusive ‘elementary’ answers. Fortunately, they’ll have a little help from a classmate of their choosing from the panel of ‘experts’ – kids themselves.

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?  was nominated for an Emmy and a Kid’s Choice award this year. The show’s exec producers include Mark Burnett, who’s won nine Emmys for producing shows like The Voice, Shark TankThe Apprentice and Survivor.

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HIS DARK MATERIALS S2 | Tuesdays from 17 November, first on Showmax 

In this adaptation of Philip Pullman’s classic fantasy novels, Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and sets off a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. 

Season two begins after Lord Asriel has opened a bridge to a new world. There, in a strange and mysterious abandoned city, Lyra meets Will, a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs Coulter searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary. 

The epic fantasy’s cast includes child stars Dafne Keen (Logan) and Amir Wilson as Lyra and Will, supported by Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (The AffairLuther), Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), and Golden Globe nominees Andrew Scott (FleabagSherlock) and James McAvoy (X-Men). Oscar nominee Terence Stamp (The Limey and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) joins the adventure this season.

Having won an Annie Award for the character animation on Iorek the Bear, as well as BAFTAs for Special, Visual and Graphic Effects and Titles & Graphic Identity, His Dark Materials has an 80% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Slate calling it “Proof that TV is now the best medium for bringing epic literary fantasy to the screen.”

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P-VALLEY S1 | Tuesdays from 24 November at 22:30, same day as 1Magic

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P-Valley is the 12th highest rated new TV show of 2020 so far, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and set a new record on the Starz App for the most viewed series premiere ever. 

As Rotten Tomatoes’ 100% critics consensus says, “A stunning, lyrical piece of neon noir, P-Valley explores the unseen lives of strippers in Mississippi through Katori Hall’s singular gaze, celebrating the beauty of the craft without sugarcoating the challenges.” 

Indiewire hailed it as “unlike anything ever seen on TV…  the series knows exactly what it wants to be: a sexy, fast-paced drama that sets out to de-stigmatize the world of stripping and shatter misconceptions.”

Welcome to the Dirty South. 

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| New episodes every Wednesday, same day as M-Net. Binge from 25 November 

Enslaved is a six-episode docuseries that explores 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World by following the efforts of Diving with a Purpose, as they search for and locate six slave ships that went down with their human cargo.

Executive produced and featuring Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp FictionAvengers), Enslaved tracks the efforts of divers as they utilise new methods of underwater archaeology to identify and locate these sunken slave ships for the first time in history. These modern day adventures serve as a springboard to tell the stories of the ideology, economics and politics of slavery, while also celebrating stories of resistance, the cultures left behind and the culture that we live in.

The series also traces Jackson’s DNA back to Gabon, where he visits in the first episode to locate his own ancestors in the Benga tribe.

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THE UNDOING S1 | Mondays at 22:30 from 30 November, same day as M-Net

This six-part mini-series stars Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies, Lion) as therapist Grace Fraser, whose idyllic existence is shattered by a violent death and a very public scandal. With her husband Jonathan (Golden Globe winner Hugh Grant from A Very English Scandal) missing, Grace must face a chain of terrible revelations and try to build a new life for herself and her son (Critics’ Choice nominee Noah Jupe from Honey BoyFord v Ferrari, and A Quiet Place).

Based on the book You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Undoing is created by multiple-Emmy winner David E Kelley, the man behind Big Little LiesPicket Fences and all your favourite legal dramas, from L.A. Law to Ally McBealThe Practice to Boston Legal, and directed by Emmy winner Susanne Bier (The Night ManagerIn A Better World). 

Academy Award Honorary winner and Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland (TrustThe Hunger Games), Golden Globe nominee Edgar Ramírez (American Crime StoryThe Girl on the Train) and Eswatini-born Noma Dumezweni (Black Earth RisingThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) co-star.

Other international series you can binge now include:

• Beecham House S1, a Delhi-set period drama, directed by BAFTA nominee Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and nominated for best costumes at the 2020 BAFTAs

• Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector S1, with Black Reel nominee Russell Hornsby (The Hate U GiveFencesSeven Seconds) as one of bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver’s most memorable characters, quadriplegic forensic expert Lincolm Rhyme.

To see everything on Showmax in November, from hit international movies likes Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man and Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers to local favourites like Chasing The SunInconceivableDie Verhaal Van Racheltjie De Beer and Akin Omotoso’s The Ghost and the House of Truth, click here. Please note this release schedule is subject to change. 

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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