Welcome to the latest chapter of StreamChat, where we chat about what we’ve been streaming at home this month. If you have anything you’d recommend we watch, based on any of the shows or movies in this post, then feel free to get in touch and let us know via our socials.
Derry Girls (All 4)
Sarah: Airing its final episode this month was the Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls, which has become one of the channel’s most successful comedy shows ever. Set in Derry, Northern Ireland, the show centres around a group of 5 teenagers who, along with the political troubles affecting the country, must deal with the often absurd situations they get into on a daily basis.
Until recently I’d never even considered watching this show, but with the final season airing this month I decided to give it a go and I’m incredibly disappointed that I didn’t watch this sooner. It’s absolutely hilarious and even more impressive is that this humour is seamlessly mixed with the serious political events that affected Northern Ireland in the nineties. It has a quick and very intelligent script and some loveable, brilliant characters, with the rather inappropriate, cuttingly funny Sister Michael and McCool patriarch Joe, who never fails to have a jab at son-in-law Gerry being two notable standouts.
The girls tend to get themselves into some ridiculously stupid scenarios which could have come across as a little too farcical. but fortunately, it stays on the right side of funny and is helped by a fair amount of heartwarming moments. The brash, ridiculously self-centred girls surprisingly bring so much heart and the final season especially has many poignant, touching scenes (along with a rather hilarious big name guest star). This is a brilliantly funny, touching show that has been executed perfectly from start to finish. And while the finale has wrapped this up so well, this is one show I wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more from.
The Pentaverate (Netflix)
Lee: Mike Myers is back, and this time he’s playing seven different characters in The Pentaverate, a six-episode series now streaming on Netflix. The Pentaverate are a fictitious society of five men (all played by Myers), who have been secretly influencing world events for the benefit of humanity ever since the Black Plague. And, according to narrator Jeremy Irons, they are actually a nice organisation.
After the death of one of the five, The Pentaverate recruit a nuclear physicist to join their ranks (Keegan-Michael Key), while Canadian journalist Ken Scarborough (also Myers) tries to expose the group with the aid of a camerawoman and a conspiracy theorist, who is also played by Myers.
Sadly, most of the characters just aren’t that interesting or funny, and neither is the plot. And while it’s all very grand and cinematic, The Pentaverate just feels like a movie that’s been broken down into very bloated smaller parts in order to come up with a series. I will admit to laughing out loud on more than one occasion at some of Myers trademark silly crude humour but, disappointingly, the laughs are all too few and far between for me, and the plot is simply not good enough to sustain it.
Dr Brain (Apple TV+)
Erika: Apple TV+’s Korean- language series, Dr Brain, focuses on brilliant, autistic neuroscientist Dr Koh Sewon (Lee Sun-Kyun) following a series of personal tragedies. Obsessed with his research, Koh completes the transfer of memories between mice in an experiment. Desperate to understand what happened to his family and why there are so many suspicious deaths surrounding him, he begins to ‘brain sync’ with the recently deceased to uncover memories to solve the mystery
I really liked this series, and I didn’t exactly know what the genre was going into this. It was a little all over the place; sci-fi, mixed with a teensy bit of horror and a bit of a mystery thriller. It wasn’t the most mind-blowing, original thing, but the science behind the brain syncing was fascinating. Korean and Asian media, in general, have surged in popularity, thanks to Parasite and Squid Game and Apple definitely jumped on this train by producing Dr Brain. The series is based upon a popular Korean webtoon, like several other series produced in South Korea – Sweet Home, Hellbound, The Sound of Magic, Tomorrow, etc. Webtoons are a considerable part of South Korean culture, and English-speaking audiences are now benefitting from the medium.
My only real gripe was the pacing of the series. Only making the show six episodes was smart, but it slowed down to a snail’s pace after episode four. I found my mind wandering a little more than it should have during the last episode. But this didn’t affect my opinion on the series overall, and I’ve already recommended it to friends. 5 stars.
Candyman 2021 (Prime Video)
Sarah: Candyman is the latest horror to be given the “requel” treatment – a cross between a remake and a sequel – and was released in cinemas in 2021, 29 years after the original hit our screens. Directed by Nia DaCosta, the film takes us back to Cabrini Green which has now been completely gentrified with the original towers having been torn down. Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Paris) have moved into a new apartment in the new Cabrini Green. As a struggling artist, Anthony takes inspiration for his next piece from the legend of the Candyman and on showing his art, begins a slow downward spiral into madness that releases the violent horror of the Candyman back into society.
As requels go, this was a lot better than I expected. It ties in very well with the original film and even has great looking shadow-plays that accompany the retelling of the various urban legends that work very well. The film looks good, it’s very bloody and gory and has a great visual style along with a haunting score very similar to the original and again this works well. My issue with this is that the plot is too similar to the original, and Anthony’s descent into his obsession with the Candyman is almost identical to Helen’s. In a way, this makes sense considering how the story plays out, but it did just make me wonder what the point was in it all. Overall, it’s definitely not a bad film, but I’m not convinced it’s a requel we really needed to see. I’d give it a 3.
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Sky/NowTV)
Lee: As usual, I haven’t read the book and I haven’t even seen the 2009 movie version, so I’m coming to this new 6-part series without any preconceptions. Rose Leslie stars as Claire Abshire, the wife of time traveller Henry DeTamble (Theo James) as they recount their complex lives in a documentary style.
When Henry, aged 28, meets Claire, aged 20, for what he believes is the first time, she reveals that he has actually been visiting her regularly over the last 14 years and that they are to become man and wife. As we revisit some of those past moments, or future depending on the person reliving them, along with other occasions where Henry has travelled, a handy subtitle on the screen tells us the current age of the particular version of Henry and Claire we’re currently watching. And in some scenes, especially the moment that Henry’s mother (the brilliant Kate Siegel) was killed when he was 8, there can be anywhere up to 12 versions of Henry nearby, all of varying ages and unable to alter the event. Further rules surrounding Henry’s ability are revealed, like the fact that any body part of Henry’s that gets removed, such as baby teeth, blood and hair etc, continues to randomly and independently time-jump. We also learn that he is only able to jump within his own life span.
We’re currently only a few episodes in but I’m finding the time-travelling in the show to be refreshingly unique and you certainly do need to be paying attention at times in order to keep track of the characters and how old they are in each scene. Definitely interested to see how it all plays out.
Slow Horses (Apple TV+)
Erika: Based upon Mick Herron’s novel, Slow Horses follows a group of exiled MI5 screw-ups. These “slow horses” have been banished to Slough House to spend the rest of their careers doing menial tasks instead of being fired. After botching a public training exercise, River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) ends up in this administrative hell. Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) assigns River to conduct surveillance on a right-wing journalist by going through garbage. River, determined to get back into good graces, proactively joins fellow slow horse Sid Baker (Olivia Cooke) to do actual surveillance. When Hassan Ahmed (Antonio Aakeel) is kidnapped by a far-right group, the Sons of Albion, River believes it’s somehow connected to the journalist. With the clock counting down to Hassan’s online execution, River, Lamb, and the rest of the slow horse crew race to locate him.
The first two episodes were solid, but I didn’t feel any urgency to continue watching, even with the cliffhanger ending. But I had some free time and started the third episode. Then I was hooked and watched the rest of the series that same day. The espionage genre is pretty saturated and overdone, but this series is slightly different. It’s darkly humorous, and while the slow horses are screw-ups, they are at least semi-capable of doing their jobs.
The cast was the main draw; as I mentioned, the espionage genre is pretty tired. I’m a Jack Lowden fan, so I hunted down an Apple TV+ login. Gary Oldman was rather repulsive as Jackson Lamb. I didn’t really like the character; he annoyed me. I nearly stalled out on watching the series because he was so unpleasant. The dynamic between Lowden and Oldman really worked and was the best part of the series.
Was it the most original, groundbreaking series? Of course not. Was it a nice change from the classic spy genre? Yes. It was the perfect length to watch in a day, and I’m pumped that there will be another season. 4.5 stars.