Boxset lockdown: What to watch while stuck indoors during the Covid-19 outbreak
With live events being cancelled everywhere and all unnecessary social contact currently being discouraged, there's never been a better time to lock the doors, draw the curtains and get stuck into the plethora of quality on-demand entertainment now available at your fingertips. Seasoned couch potato David Roy explores what's out there
OBVIOUSLY, there are lots of things you could be doing under our current health advisories other than just watching TV.
However, be honest: you're unlikely to bang out one of the great works of Irish literature in the next few weeks (trust us, we're on the carnage-wracked frontlines of crap self-published literature here at Irish News Towers) and that DIY project you've been working up to for the past five years is likely to end in an unsightly disaster you'll be living with until it's safe for a professional to come out and undo your 'handiwork' – or worse, a bodily injury which places further strain on our already besieged health service.
It's better (not to mention safer) for everyone if you simply make use of current social isolation strategies to get your money's worth out of the premium streaming services you're already paying for. So, make sure granny has her messages, stockpile some snacks and beverages and prepare to get square-eyed in front of the idiot box.
If you're sitting comfortably and two to three metres apart, then let's see what's out there...
:: Star Trek: Picard – Available exclusively to Amazon Prime Video subscribers
WHAT did Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) do after boldly going where no-one had gone before? According to Star Trek: Picard, he retired to France and got heavily into wine. However, just when he's finally become accustomed to life back on terra firma, the slap-headed ex-starship captain/admiral gets sucked back into space-related shenanigans involving vengeful Romulans and one of his old Starfleet comrades. Set phasers to 'pleasantly surprised' for a Star Trek spin-off which can be enjoyed even by those who wouldn't know the Borg from a Bird of Prey.
WITH so much uncertainty in today's world, it's nice to know that some things never change – like professional misanthrope Larry David. The latest series finds the Seinfeld creator cum comedy curmudgeon opening a 'spite store' to put a coffee-brewing nemesis out of business, offending his postman (top tip: never offend your postman), discovering the perils of 'side-sitting' and targetting a hip restaurant which insists on seating him in 'the ugly section'. If you've missed the past few series, they're also available for free to subscribers via SkyGo or to rent via Amazon Prime Video.
:: Better Call Saul series three – exclusively on Netflix, new episodes every Tuesday
BOB Odenkirk continues to delight as a canny conman turned slick criminal lawyer in this superb Breaking Bad spin-off/prequel: in the current series, Jimmy (Odenkirk) has finally rebranded as Saul Goodman and set about recruiting a lucrative client base of entertainingly boneheaded low-level criminals, while also being drawn deeper into the dark dealings of the aforementioned aspiring drug baron/fried chicken impresario along with ex-cop enforcer/doting grandad Mike (Jonathan Banks).
ROB Brydon and Steve Coogan's latest comedic jaunt finds them visiting the Hellenic islands, dividing their time between visiting historic sites and sampling various gastronomic delights. As ever, the latest six-part series offers a hugely palatable combination of fine dining, celebrity impressions and middle-aged ruminations as these celebrity friends gently send themselves up under the skilled direction of Michael Winterbottom.
:: Succession – Series one and two available to buy via Amazon Prime Video
THIS pitch-black HBO satire about an ageing media mogul and his family members' Machiavellian scramble to position themselves as his one true heir is one of the best things on TV, so now's your chance to get up to speed before series three arrives at the end of the year (Covid-19 permitting). Brian Cox is in the form of his life as grouchy Scots-Canadian billionaire Logan Roy (no, relation – honest), while the 'kids' – Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck) – and extended family make for a remarkable ensemble.
BASED on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal 1980s-set graphic novel which takes place in an alternate universe where the US won the Vietnam War with the aid of superheroes, Damon Lindelof's brilliant TV series is set in Tulsa 34 years after the seismic events in the original text (which involved an inter-dimensional attack on New York that effectively ended the nuclear arms race) when superheroes have been outlawed and (ironically) police officers are required to wear masks. Featuring a dynamite lead turn by Regina King, this dark, gripping and incredibly stylish series successfully harnesses the satirical spirit and social conciousness of Moore's original story while breaking its own new ground.
:: Marc Maron: End Times Fun – Netflix
BAD news, people: the lizard portal is open and there's nothing we can do about it. US comedian/podcaster/actor Marc Maron has made a career out of exploring his myriad neurosis: in this new Netflix special he offers his amusingly blasphemous apocalyptic theories on the Trump era while also exploring current obsessions including mid-level fame, wokeness or lack thereof, the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of daily vitamin regimes, the box of unused cables for old electronic devices he's accumulated over the past decade and how grown male nerd children have destroyed modern entertainment.
NEW AND RECENT FILMS
WITH cinemas closed or closing, the movie business is scrambling to adjust – including taking advantage of streaming platforms to get new releases out to their intended audiences while they're confined to the house.
While big titles like the new Bond and horror sequel A Quiet Place 2 have been pushed back to later in the year, Universal Pictures has announced that its recent releases The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma will be available to rent via Sky Store and Amazon Prime from today, with future new releases likely to appear simultaneously on demand and in whatever cinemas are still open.
No doubt other studios will follow suit – insert your own joke about tapping up coughers to top up coffers here – but, in the meantime, here's a list of recent cinematic outings which are currently available on demand alongside a selection of rewatch-worthy classics, some of which suddenly feel scarily relevant.
:: Uncut Gems (Netflix)
:: 12 Monkeys (DVD/Blu-ray via Amazon)
:: Dog Day Afternoon (Amazon)
IF YOU'RE still bored, there's always five decades worth of quality television to revisit and/or finally get around to investigating. Never bothered with Game of Thones? Now's your chance. Ignored your dad's repeated insistence that James Garner's Jim Rockford is the greatest TV detective of all time? Dig in now and decide for yourself.
:: Father Ted (All4)
:: Line of Duty (Netflix)
:: Inside No 9 (BBC iPlayer)
:: Spaced (All4)
:: TJ Hooker (Sony Channel)
:: The Rockford Files (Dailymotion)
:: Friends (Netflix)
:: Seinfeld (All4)
:: Threads (Archive.org)