Pick of the Week: Orange is the New Black
If you watched any of this week's award shows, you'll have realised Orange is the New Black is Hollywood's new darling. Monday saw the show's leading ladies present at the MTV Video Music Awards, before Tuesday's Emmys, where the series was nominated for 12 awards.
But though the rest of the world has discovered just how great this show is, New Zealand's been a bit slow off the mark. TVNZ screened the first season last year in a late-night slot that passed most of us by. But as the world sings the praises of the dramatic comedy, both Lightbox and TVNZ are now offering you the chance to catch up.
From today, Spark's new on-demand service will offer season one of OITNB, while TVNZ will make both season one and season two available from Monday. So what's it all about?
Taylor Schilling is the star of the show, playing a bisexual woman sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison. Based on the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, the show finds dark humour in its bleak setting and introduces us to a revolving cast of mad, bad and sometimes psychotic characters.
One of those, "Crazy Eyes" has made a star of Uzo Aduba, who won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. The show also picked up the award for best casting. Which, if you watch the show, you'll notice isn't your usual slate of perky blonde starlets (okay, well Schilling is blonde and occasionally perky).
The show has been praised for representing women of all ages, race and sexuality, who are often ignored by mainstream media. In the process, it's also created leading roles for actresses who have struggled to be seen or heard in Hollywood.
Which is all very worthy and commendable. But the real reason you should watch this is simple: It's clever, funny, and original. It doesn't rely on that tired old storyline of so many series, "will they or won't they". There's no McDreamy or McSteamy.
It's a show made to binge-watch. One of Netflix's original productions, the writers deliberately scripted the series to be viewed in bulk. The whole streaming thing is changing the way writers are writing television now. "It's basically a 13 hour-long movie," actress Laura Prepon told the BBC.
"The writers know they can take more time exploring certain characters and storylines because you'll see the other characters in one or two hours."
It was a smart move by Lightbox to secure rights to the show -- and an even smarter move by TVNZ to make both seasons available on demand.
Orange is the New Black
When: On demand
Where: Lightbox (season 1) and TVNZ (season 1 and 2)
What: Prison life
Travel pick: David Beckham: Into the Unknown
After 22 years playing for the world's greatest football teams, David Beckham has retired. For the first time in his adult life he has the freedom to do whatever he wants - sort of. It's a little more difficult to simply get away on a last-minute road trip with your mates when everyone in the world wants your autograph. So, in order to properly celebrate his retirement Beckham decides to go bush, and head off to Brazil for a spot of adventure, and some motorbiking, with three friends. First they stop in Rio, where it only takes minutes before he's spotted by fans and paparazzi, but Beckham still finds time to enjoy a game of beach foot-volleyball with locals from the Vidigal favela. And he finds more anonymity as he dons a helmet and heads off on 1300km of bike and boat travel, into remote jungle territory, home of the Yanonami tribe.
David Beckham: Into the Unknown
When: Saturday, 8.30pm
What: Beckham goes bush
Local pick: Nigel Latta: Is Sugar The New Fat?
Wrapping up his six-part documentary series, Nigel Latta turns the camera on our favourite indulgence - sugar - and looks at the role it is playing in our rising rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A few decades ago one in 14 adult New Zealanders was obese; now the figure is one in three. Why the sudden increase? For a long time, it was thought a high fat diet was to blame, but is that really the whole story? Latta sets out to discover if sugar could be the real culprit in this crisis. After an initial blood test his confidence in what he'd previously considered a healthy lifestyle is snatched away, and what was first a stunt for TV suddenly becomes a very personal journey of trying to find out what we really should be eating. He goes looking for answers from leading international scientists and the food industry, and radically changes his diet in an attempt to understand the truth about our dietary health.
Nigel Latta: Is Sugar The New Fat?
When: Tuesday, 9.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Tackling New Zealand's health crisis
Sci-Fi pick: Doctor Who
As our resident Whovian Robert Smith said in last week's TimeOut coverage of the new series: "It's more than just a new face when a new actor takes on the role of the Doctor."
But it is quite a different face - with the wizened eaglelike features of Peter Capaldi taking over from the foppish Matt Smith, it seems like the 21st reinvention of the sci-fi franchise has gone back to the future - back to when the Doctor was more of a fatherly or grandfatherly figure taking us for a Sunday drive through the time-space continuum. Sunday night's feature-length episode, entitled "Deep Breath", has Capaldi's freshly re-generated Timelord dealing with hasty introductions to himself - "I appear to be Scottish. Oh, grand! That means I can ... complain!" - and his companion Clara. Then there's the small matter of a time-travelling dinosaur in Victorian London which has some aliens in hot pursuit.
When: Sunday 7.30pm
What: A new Who
Sitcom pick: Ground Floor
One of two new sitcoms TV2 is adding to its primetime schedule this week - the other is the less fancied Undateable on Wednesday nights - this is the latest series from Scrubs and Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence. It pivots on the romance between successful young banker Brody (played by Skylar Astin) and Jennifer (Briga Heelan, from Cougar Town) who works 34 floors below his office in the building maintenance department.
The workmates of both disapprove of the relationship which stretches across the tax brackets and that includes Brody's boss Mr Mansfield - played by John C. McGinley who fufilled a similar overbearing role on Scrubs. The formulaic sitcom has had average-to- decent reviews since it debuted on American screens late last year, and it's been renewed for a second season.
When: Monday 7.30pm
What: Romance on different levels