Discover Calum Henderson's definitive list of what's hot right now.
Pick of the Week: Them (Amazon Prime Video)
You know you've moved into a deeply cursed and definitely haunted house when the dog starts acting up. When you unlock the door he's barking and scratching at and see that it leads to a classically scary basement? Leave that house straight away and don't go back until it's had a full exorcism.
The family in the first season of Amazon Prime Video's new horror anthology, Them, don't heed this advice. To be fair, they've just driven halfway across the country as part of what the opening cards explain was the Great Migration, where millions of African Americans moved out of the rural south to cities in the west and northeast in the middle of last century. This family also has more immediate concerns – their new neighbours in Compton, California, seem dangerously hostile to the arrival of the first black family in their exclusively white suburb.
Set in 1953, Them has similar stylistic and visual flourishes to last year's Lovecraft Country and treads similar (if much more overt) thematic ground to Get Out. The first episode sits comfortably somewhere in between the two – but on top of all that, it's also the most classically edge-of-your-seat, jumping-out-of-your-skin scary TV since the bent-neck lady swung her way into our nightmares on The Haunting of Hill House.
At first, the frights come from the menacing welcome the Emory family receive from the local Neighbourhood Watch committee, who congregate en masse on the street outside their house like they're there to watch a spaceship launch. But these very real and present threats aside, there's definitely something up with the house too. It's got awesome wallpaper and the aforementioned generous basement – so why was it on the market for so long?
The Serpent (Netflix)
If you found yourself thinking Ted Bundy was actually quite handsome for a serial killer when his documentary was all over Netflix, watch out – you're probably going to lose it when you find out about Charles Sobhraj. He's the suave, enigmatic serial killer who preyed on young backpackers on the hippie trail through Southeast Asia in the 1970s, stealing their passports and using their identities to travel around the place selling jewels. He's played by French actor Tahar Rahim in this wild 8-part BBC/Netflix drama series based on his life and crimes.
Popstars (TVNZ 2, 7:30pm Monday-Wednesday)
The original Popstars, which legend has it inspired Simon Cowell to create Pop Idol, which led to X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and all that followed, would probably be cancelled within seconds if it aired today.
Smartly, if a little disappointingly, the 2021 reboot looks like an entirely different show – one that's based more on experienced popstar trio Kimbra, Vince Harder and Nathan from Zed nurturing creative talent than on record label moguls trying to shape a group of young women into New Zealand's version of the Spice Girls. Will any of them manage to produce a piece of music anywhere near as good as the TrueBliss anthem, Tonight? That's the real test.
Nigella's Cook, Eat, Repeat (TVNZ OnDemand)
In any other context a title like Cook, Eat, Repeat would probably sound a little depressing. Oh, the drudgery of it all. But not when it's Nigella doing the cooking, eating and repeating.
This new series, another masterclass in the joys of home cooking, finds the chef in good form – it's the one where she famously (and deliberately) mispronounced the word 'microwave' to make it sound more posh. Classic mum joke.
Movie of the Week: Made You Look (Netflix)
Not many scams go quite as hard as an art scam. Whereas the new Netflix documentary series This is a Robbery goes does the rabbit hole opened up by the unsolved 1990 Boston art robbery, film Made You Look opens a different door with its tale of forgery in the upper echelons of the New York fine art world. Between the mysterious woman who'd turn up at a high-end art dealer's house with a car boot full of Rothkos and Pollocks and the art dealer who bought them on sight and then onsold them to her high-end clients, it's hard to tell exactly who's scamming whom, or how deep the conspiracy goes.
From the Vault: The Fall (2013) (TVNZ On Demand)
Some time between being Dana Scully on The X Files and Margaret Thatcher on The Crown, Gillian Anderson was Stella Gibson in The Fall – and it might just be her greatest role of them all. The Nordic-sounding psychological thriller, which also starred future Fifty Shades leading man Jamie Dornan, was actually set and filmed in Northern Ireland, and its two seasons represent some of the highest quality British crime drama of the past decade.
Podcast of the Week: West Cork
The world is full of really good podcasts but there have only ever been a handful of truly great ones – series you could honestly say were up there with the best books or films. Serial was one of them, and S-Town remains one of the best examples. But West Cork might be even better.
The 13-part series was first released as an Audible exclusive back in 2018, but has only recently become available on other platforms. Like countless other true-crime podcasts, it's the story of an unsolved murder – this one involving a French woman in the small western Ireland town of Schull in 1996.
The first episode is most notable for how well documentarian Jennifer Forde and journalist Sam Bungey set the scene, painting a vivid picture of the remote community and the characters who call it home. "The murder", as it is simply known in these parts, still haunts the town to this day.
But what at first appears to be a fairly procedural true-crime mystery turns out to be so much more. The less you know going in the better – just set aside some time and prepare to be engrossed by one of the best podcast series ever made.