Too Close (SKY Go)
As a forensic psychologist, Emma Robertson is the person the courts go to when they need a report on the mental state of someone facing trial. An important part of the job involves getting home and saying to your husband things like: "They want me to take on the Mortensen case". To which your husband invariably responds by giving you a look of deep concern.
Psychological thriller Too Close goes on to prove there's a good reason for that look. Emma's husband Simon – whom she has saved in her phone as "Si Hubby" – knows about the Mortensen case because it's all over the news. Constance Mortensen, whom the press insist on describing for reasons that are unclear as the "yummy mummy monster", has driven off a bridge with her kid and her neighbour's kid in the back of the car.
Now she's claiming she can't remember anything about it, but is she faking it? Why did she do it? That's what Emma has to try to find out over a series of emotionally and sometimes physically intense interviews. Constance seems to be able to read Emma like a book, especially her fraught relationship with Si Hubby, whose name she spies on Emma's phone. "Professional couple, left it a bit late … just the one child I assume," she needles.
After being read like a book, Emma goes home and listens to the interviews like an audiobook as she potters around the house. Gradually, more of Constance's back story is revealed, but soon it's Emma's story you really want to know more about.
The three-part (a seriously under-rated series length) series is everything you want from a British psychological thriller, executed to near-perfection by Emily Watson and Denise Gough in their performances as Emma and Constance.
The Commons (TVNZ OnDemand)
Set in a far more believable vision of the near-future than most dystopian near-future shows, Australian series The Commons explores the possible effects and ethical dilemmas of climate change, and how exactly we're going to save the planet. Centred around pregnant neuropsychologist Eadie and her disease-studying husband, Lloyd, the series follows a bunch of thought-provoking narrative strands. While they take a while to fully get going, there's plenty to keep us busy imagining what it'd be like living in a world much like the one we live in now, but with acid rain a normal part of the weather forecast.
The makers of Downton Abbey have taken that show's winning formula, taken it back three centuries and set it across the Atlantic in Jamestown. The series follows three women – Alice, Verity and Jocelyn – who're among a shipload of others en route to the settler colony in the state of Virginia, betrothed to marry the men who've paid their way. The arrival of the spirited trio, along with new governor Sir George Yeardley and his wife, certainly shakes things up a bit in a community already full of all the drama, backstabbing and power struggles you could ask for.
Penguin Town (Netflix)
Think Geordie Shore meets David Attenborough meets the episode of Parks and Recreation, where Leslie Knope accidentally marries two male penguins and you might be close to imagining the mayhem of Penguin Town. The documentary series follows the lives and loves of the African penguins that own the shores and streets of Simon's Town, a holiday hot spot south of Cape Town in South Africa. From the "car park gang" who hang out and cause mischief in a car park to "newlyweds" Mr and Mrs C, it's all surf, sand, sun and trying not to go extinct.
Movie of the Week: Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)
It's easy to take for granted how easy we've had it compared to the rest of the world this past year, until you watch a stand-up comedian have a nervous breakdown trying to record a comedy special alone in the same room every day for months on end. It goes without saying Bo Burnham: Inside is a comedy special unlike any we've seen before, but it's more than mere novelty. The musical comedian's songs are peak Simpsons-era quality earworms – funny, dark and sometimes surprisingly profound.
From the Vault: Singles (1992) (Netflix)
Cameron Crowe's relationship movie, Singles, may have helped pave the way for Sex and the City, but these days it serves primarily as an incredible 90s grunge lookbook. Set in Seattle circa 1992 and featuring cameos from bands like Alice and Chains and Soundgarden, it's wall-to-wall flannel shirts and how to wear them. At one point, one of the characters wears a denim jacket as the third of four layers – and it works. You won't find a better layering masterclass on YouTube or anywhere else.
Podcast of the Week: Overheard at National Geographic
If you've ever seen a really cool nature shot in a National Geographic and thought "how did they do that?" then chances are Tom O'Brien (or his predecessor Kenji Yamaguchi) had something to do with it. He has the extremely cool job of being National Geographic's photo engineer, or as the title of one podcast episode puts it, "The Real-Life MacGyver in Nat Geo's Basement".
Overheard at National Geographic is a podcast from the ageless media brand, promising to let listeners in on the unique water cooler conversations that take place in an office full of intrepid reporters and photographers. Other recent episodes include the tale of an epic journey to move some endangered giraffes off an island using something called a "giraft", and one about camping on the ice with whale hunters.
O'Brien's episode is a lovely half-hour audio portrait of a job most of us probably didn't realise existed. He takes us down to his workshop and talks us through some of his favourite inventions, like the remote camera he designed for one of the most hair-raising scenes in Free Solo and something called a "funky bird brain". His current project? A "beavercam" designed especially to take a photo of how beavers store their food under the ice.