HALO S1 | New episodes every Friday; binge from 20 May 2022, first on Showmax
Paramount+ original series, Halo, based on the iconic Xbox franchise and one of the highest-grossing game franchises of all time, set a new record as the most-watched original series premiere globally on Paramount+ in its first 24 hours of release.
Emmy nominee Pablo Schreiber brings humanity’s deadliest weapon – and our greatest hope – to life as the iconic Master Chief. As The Guardian says, “Whoever decided to cast Schreiber, the character actor veteran of shows such as Orange is the New Black (as dodgy prison guard “Pornstache”) and American Gods, as an action hero deserves a medal. Standing 196cm tall and now built like a tank, he makes just the sort of imposing, statuesque figure required for a seemingly unstoppable human battle machine.”
The series is set in a separate timeline to the games, dramatising an epic 26th-Century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. But if the Halo universe sounds worlds away, it’s closer to home than you think: South African Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) directs four episodes, with compatriot Guy Potgieter (District 9, Homeland) as set decorator and Dale Butler as first assistant director.
One of Rotten Tomatoes’ Most Anticipated Shows of 2022, Halo had been renewed by Paramount+ for a second season before the first even launched.
THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE | Binge from 23 May, first on Showmax
Inspired by real events, The Girl From Plainville sees Critics Choice nominee Elle Fanning (The Great, Maleficent) take on the role of Michelle Carter, the teenager at the centre of the unprecedented “texting suicide case” following the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, in 2014.
Among Rotten Tomatoes’ Most Anticipated Shows of 2022, The Girl From Plainville is created by Critics Choice nominee Liz Hannah (The Dropout) and Patrick Macmanus (Dr. Death).
The limited series has a 93% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it, “A compassionate and devastating portrait of two teens in trouble,” and Time Magazine saying, “The Girl From Plainville rises to the significant challenge of offering novel insight into the psyche of a young woman whose widely discussed actions seemed not just indefensible, but also inexplicable to the public.”
The Girl From Plainville also stars Colton Ryan (Little Voice) and Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny (We Are Who We Are).
Also watch the critically acclaimed HBO documentary on the case, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, on Showmax.
THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES S2 | Binge now, first on Showmax
Brothers and sisters, can we get a Hallelujah? The mega-famous televangelist family is back, with more deviance, greed and charitable work in The Righteous Gemstones. Season 2 finds our blessed Gemstone family threatened by outsiders from both the past and present who wish to destroy their empire.
Oscar nominee Eric Roberts (The Expendables, The Dark Knight) joins the cast this season, while multi-award-winner and Vice Principals creator Danny McBride (who also created, wrote and executive produces the show), Emmy winner John Goodman (Argo, The Big Lebowski), Edi Patterson (Knives Out, Vice Principals), Teen Choice Award winner Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Modern Family), Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man, Santa Clarita Diet), and Emmy nominee Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight, Justified) all return to what Collider hails as “one of the greatest ensembles in comedic television.”
Season 2 has an 88% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it “uproariously funny.” Slate proclaims the series “the funniest one currently on air” and Indiewire sings the show’s praises for “elevating the laughs to heavenly heights.”
HBO Max recently renewed The Righteous Gemstones for a third season. “After a season of literal fire and brimstone, blood, sand, and rollerblading, who wouldn’t come back for more?” says Amy Gravitt, executive vice president, HBO Programming. “The Gemstone family makes us laugh like nobody else.”
WOMEN OF THE MOVEMENT | Binge now
One of Rotten Tomatoes’ Most Anticipated Shows of 2022, Women of the Movement tells the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley (Adrienne Warren), who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son Emmett Till (Cedric Joe from Space Jam: A New Legacy) following his brutal murder in 1955 in the Jim Crow South.
The six-part series has a 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critics’ consensus saying, “Women of the Movement enlivens the tragedy of Emmett Till with solid storytelling and a deeply moving pair of performances by Adrienne Warren and Cedric Joe.”
Created and written by Emmy nominee Marissa Jo Cerar (The Fosters, The Handmaid’s Tale), Women of the Movement is directed by four pioneering Black women directors – Black Reel Award winners Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard, Love & Basketball) and Tina Mabry (Pose), and Black Reel Award nominees Kasi Lemmons (Harriet, Eve’s Bayou) and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust).
AND JUST LIKE THAT S1 | Binge now
Carrie Bradshaw and the girls are back in HBO Max’s Sex and the City revival, And Just Like That. Set 11 years after the events of the 2010 film Sex and the City 2, the ten-episode series catches up with the gang as they navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of their 50s.
Emmy winners Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis reprise their much-loved roles as Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte (Samantha has sadly moved on), alongside fellow franchise alums such as Evan Handler as Harry, Mario Cantone as Anthony, David Eigenberg as Steve, and Willie Garson as Stanford. Emmy nominee Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Sarita Choudhury (Homeland, Little Fires Everywhere) come in as new characters.
Developed by Emmy-winning Sex and the City writer and executive producer Michael Patrick King, And Just Like That has already been renewed for a second season by HBO Max. IndieWire hailed the show as a “whirlwind of haute couture, budding romance and fervent friendship,” while USA Today praised And Just Like That as “sharp” and “vibrant.”
You can also binge all six seasons of Sex and the City on Showmax.
THE NORTH WATER | Binge now
Based on Ian McGuire’s acclaimed 2016 novel, The North Water is set in 1859 and follows disgraced ex-army surgeon Patrick Sumner (BAFTA winner Jack O’Connell from ‘71 and Unbroken), who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. But the ferocity of the elements is matched by the violence of his crew mates, chiefly Drax (MTV Movie Award winner Colin Farrell from The Lobster and In Bruges), a harpooner and a distinctly brutal force of nature. As the true purpose of the expedition becomes clear, the conflict between the two men takes them on a journey far from solid ground and beyond the safe moorings of civilisation.
Directed by multi-award-winning BAFTA nominee Andrew Haigh (45 Years, Looking), the five-part British/Canadian co-production’s ensemble cast also includes BAFTA nominee Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire, Time).
The North Water is nominated for two 2022 Satellite Awards: Best Miniseries & Limited Series, and Best Actor in a Miniseries for Farrell.
The series has a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Globe and Mail saying, “This might be Farrell’s best work yet. His Drax is a believable monster of a man, uncivilized in thought and action, epitomizing the rawness under the surface of Victorian niceties.”
ALEX RIDER S2 | Binge now, first on Showmax
After the deadly mission to bring down Point Blanc, Alex Rider is eager to put the past behind him and rebuild his life. But when a horrific attack on a friend’s family draws him back into the world of spies, Alex must unravel a sinister plan with global ramifications.
Based on the best-selling Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz, the series has an 85% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, with Daily Telegraph hailing it as “a junior version of the Bourne franchise… that can also keep adults entertained” and Collider hailing S2 as “another fun, suspenseful, fast-paced season…” that is “deceptively complex.”
CHEATERS S1 | Binge now, first on Showmax
BBC romantic comedy drama Cheaters is a sexy, messy comedy about love, morality, monogamy and how the heart, brain and body are idiots who are never on the same page.
Cheaters kicks off with a cancelled flight, a chance meeting, and a night of drunken airport-hotel sex between two strangers who’d both prefer to forget it ever happened. Except, they – and their respective partners – are about to become neighbours.
Directed by BAFTA nominee Elliot Hegarty (Ted Lasso) and executive produced by Murray Ferguson and Petra Fried, the BAFTA-nominated team behind The End of the F***ing World and Misfits, Cheaters stars British-Nigerian actor Susan Wokoma (Enola Holmes, The Ghost and the House of Truth) and Joshua McGuire (About Time), with Callie Cooke (Britannia) and Jack Fox (Sanditon) co-starring.
In their four-star review, Financial Times calls Cheaters “charming… an irreverent look at infidelity…” with “enough wit and unsentimental tenderness… to keep your eyes from wandering.”
THE PEMBROKESHIRE MURDERS | Binge now
The Pembrokeshire Murders dramatises the real-life 2006 investigation into two unsolved murder cases linked to a string of burglaries in the 1980s. Teen Choice Award winner Luke Evans (The Alienist, Beauty and the Beast, and Fast & Furious’ Owen Shaw) stars as newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins, who goes all in to reopen the investigation against a ticking clock as his prime suspect awaits release from prison.
The three-part miniseries was nominated for four 2021 BAFTA Wales Awards, including Best Actress for Alexandria Riley (The Pact, The End of the F***ing World), and Best Actor for Keith Allen (Marcella, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Shallow Grave).
The BBC crime drama has an 82% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Guardian saying, “The Pembrokeshire Murders is a perfect example of how to do it well. It is sensitive when it needs to be, and never loses sight of who suffered,” and New Statesman saying, “Evans has a face… built for compassion, and a voice that makes instant poetry of everything… But it was Keith Allen who stole the show as Cooper.”
CATHERINE THE GREAT | Binge now
A sumptuous historical drama, HBO’s four-part limited series Catherine the Great stars Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren (who also executive produced) as the 18th-Century Empress Regent of Russia. Determinedly independent in both her political and private life, Catherine became the country’s longest-ruling female leader, reforming the Russian empire and presiding over a golden age in Russian history and the age of the Russian Enlightenment.
Helmed by Emmy and BAFTA winners, writer Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I, The Name of the Rose) and director Philip Martin (The Crown, Wallander), the show’s cast includes Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Mudbound), BAFTA winner Gina McKee (Notting Hill, Our Friends in the North), and Kevin McNally (The Crown, Das Boot, Pirates of the Caribbean).
The series was nominated for an Emmy for its sound editing, and a BAFTA for Make Up & Hair Design, with Mirren nominated for Best Actress in a Limited Series at the Golden Globes. Times (UK) says, “Mirren is magnificent as an august, complex Catherine, simultaneously imposing and insecure, underestimated and resented as a woman in power,” while Daily Telegraph (UK) says, “Catherine the Great is… massive, lush, beautiful, and with an element that’s so often missing in big dramas about major figures: incredibly human.”
RECENT AWARDS FOR SHOWMAX CONTENT
Showmax content features prominently the upcoming British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA TV Awards), being held on 8 May 2022:
Nominees on Showmax include:
• Vigil: Best Drama
• Mare of Easttown: Best International and Leading Actress (Kate Winslet)
• Succession: Best International and Supporting Actor (Matthew Macfadyen)
• The Pursuit of Love: Supporting Actress (Emily Mortimer)
In addition, Time, which is coming to Showmax on 1 July 2022, is up for Best Miniseries, Leading Actor (Sean Bean) and Supporting Actor (Stephen Graham).