Free-to-air TV is about to shut down for Christmas, but the new shows on streaming never stop. One that is slipping in under the radar is Smothered (Binge), but this feel-good romcom offers a good escape this summer.
Smothered follows an unconventional but very modern relationship between party girl Sammy (Danielle Vitalis) and slightly older Tom (Jon Pointing). He has a young daughter and wry ex-wife (Aisling Bea), while she has two saucy housemates, one frustrated sister, and dad David (LA Law’s Blair Underwood).
Given how many times we’ve seen this story before, it’s pleasing to see this one taking a U-turn every time it veers towards cliched territory. And at just six half hours, it will be over before you realise – huge thumbs up.
Archie (Britbox) is a four-part biopic about legendary movie star Cary Grant (Jason Isaacs). It is based on two books written by his daughter and ex-wife, and Jennifer Grant and Dyan Cannon are on board as executive producers. They get a lot of stuff right, but they are lacking when it comes to supporting cast.
Laura Aikman absolutely nails it as Dyan Cannon, and Kara Tointon and Harriet Walker are brilliant taking turns as Grant’s troubled mother. Four actors play Cary Grant over a timeline that is always jumping back and forth, and Jason Isaacs almost gets there as the elder statesman, but not quite. Those playing other Hollywood legends (like Grace Kelly or Mae West) are sorely lacking.
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets (Prime) is a 4-part expose on the family from the reality hit 19 Kids And Counting. Once the biggest show on TLC, it was swiftly cancelled when news broke that eldest son Josh had been abusing his sisters.
One Duggar daughter has gone rogue to appear in this, and she has good reason to be angry. Pushed into a spin-off series to keep the franchise rolling after the scandal, she was paid nothing and then offered just $10 an hour for being filmed 24/7. Meanwhile, her father was pocketing millions, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Shiny Happy People reveals the Christian fundamentalist group behind the Duggars that used them to push their twisted agenda. With wives ordered to be subservient to their husbands, and the kids literally being beaten into submission, it’s a huge eye-opener into the machinations behind “shiny, happy” reality formats.
Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast
Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.
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This week: Archie, Talk To Me, Vigil (Season 2), Smothered, Bump (Season 4)
Five big productions as the year draws to an end. The podcast starts with a review of Archie (Britbox, series), the dramatised life of Cary Grant and his relationship with Dyan Cannon. Then it’s our sole movie this week, the Australian-made horror film Talk To Me (Netflix).
Suranne Jones always gets plenty of time on a TV Gold podcast and this week we look at season two of her crime thriller Vigil (Binge/Foxtel, series), then there is a change of pace with the hilarious Smothered (Binge/Foxtel, series) and the very popular Australian comedy from John and Dan Edwards, Bump (Stan S4, series).
Tune in next week for our legendary end of year special episode with your summer viewing sorted as we highlight the must-watch series and those you should avoid.