Watch, listen and be inspired by Calum Henderson's definitive list of what's hot right now and from the vault.
On the Verge (Netflix)
Imagine a parallel universe where HBO's Girls never ended, just kept going until all the characters were in their 40s and 50s with husbands and kids and, if anything, even more angst. The show you're imagining is probably not too far off the new Netflix comedy series On the Verge.
Written by and starring Before Sunrise's Julie Delpy, this series is – much like Girls – populated by a set of not always easy-to-like characters going about their privileged but rarely straightforward lives, this time in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles.
Delpy is Justine, a celebrated chef trying to run a restaurant while also writing a pretentious cookbook her publishers have pitched as "a kind of diary with recipes". She lives with her husband, an out-of-work architect who gave up a promising career in France to follow her to LA and has never for one day let her forget it, and their tween son Albert, who is forbidden from eating sugar and is inexplicably obsessed with John Lennon.
Juliette's three best friends are Anne (Elisabeth Shue), a fashion designer who has taken to edible cannabis gummies in a big way, Ell (Alexia Landeau), a single mother-of-three struggling to make ends meet and Yasmin (Sarah Jones), who has the nicest house of the group but no obvious career.
What exactly they're On the Verge of – aside from a very intense game of paintball teased in the opening scene – is not entirely clear either. The show drifts from dinner parties to work disasters to family dramas in a way that will no doubt feel maddeningly meandering to some. For others, though, these deeply flawed characters and their chaotic lives will be a delight to watch for 12 episodes, and hopefully many more.
Back to the Rafters (Amazon Prime Video)
Australian TV certainly knows how to do a good family drama, and there has arguably been none greater than Packed to the Rafters. The original six seasons wrapped up in 2013 but now it's back, on Amazon Prime Video of all places, with a more-than-welcome 2021 reboot. Most of the main original Rafters have returned, with the new series finding Dave and Julie living in the country as almost-empty nesters with their youngest daughter Ruby, while the older children are dispersed around the place and facing their own grown-up trials and tribulations.
If you thought a romantic drama about a young throuple was going to be wall-to-wall salaciousness and sex scenes, you might feel a little let down by the BBC's Trigonometry. But if you value things like depth, nuance and character development in a TV series, this could be right up your alley. It starts when partners Kieran and Gemma decide to fill the spare room in their small London flat to help pay the rent. Enter Ray, a synchronised swimmer looking for a place to live and a change of pace, which she certainly gets when feelings start developing between her and her flatmates. Trigonometry's eight episodes chart the progression of the relationship and its complex emotional dynamics in a refreshingly thoughtful way.
Rutherford Falls (TVNZ OnDemand, from Wednesday)
Cars keep crashing into the statue of "Big Larry" Rutherford, mostly because it sits in the middle of a major intersection in the quaint American town of Rutherford Falls. When the city tries to relocate the statue, Big Larry's proud descendant Nathan (Ed Helms) launches a campaign to keep it right there, setting in motion a big fight over the big, pertinent questions around history and colonisation. Sounds unfunny, but it's from the makers of Parks and Recreation and The Good Place, who've already managed to turn local council and the afterlife into successful sitcom settings.
Movie of the Week: Kate (Netflix)
Move over John Wick, there's a new violent assassin in town. And her name … is Kate. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Birds of Prey) plays the trained killer sent to Japan to knock off a high-ranking Yakuza boss. But when she gets poisoned and learns she has just 24 hours to live, she spends her final moments tracking down the culprit to exact her revenge. It's big, loud, violent, idiotic, but it has a sense of humour and some top-drawer fight choreography. If you're a fan of Wick or Kill Bill, Kate should tick all the right boxes.
From the Vault: Once Upon a Time in America (1984) (Netflix)
What's the longest movie you've ever watched? Why not break that record with Sergio Leone's three-hour, 49-minute mobster epic Once Upon a Time in America. Set in 1920s New York, it's got De Niro and Pesci and James Woods doing all the organised crime you could ever dream of, directed by the master of the Spaghetti Western himself.
Podcast of the Week: Up to Speed with te reo Māori
We have come a long way since Marj raised eyebrows by answering the phone "Kia ora, Shortland Street". As you may have noticed more than usual this past week, being Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and all, te reo Māori is now used across all sorts of media and in a number of other daily situations – and it's got a bit more advanced than just "kia ora" and "ka pai" these days.
Up to Speed is a new podcast series with the simple aim of helping us keep up with all those words and phrases we keep hearing on the news and in our daily lives. In each short, five-minute episode, host Stacey Morrison takes real examples from TV and radio and explains what they mean – in the process helping to expand our vocabularies in a range of different areas, from greetings and place names to days of the week and food to some of the most commonly heard whakataukī (proverbs) and pepeha (introductions).
It's a cleverly done, consistently interesting and very quick way to brush up on the kind of things you might feel you should know about, but probably were never taught at school.