Mercado on TV prepares for Halloween: Following on from his mega spooky series The Haunting Of Hill House (2018) and Midnight Mass (2021), now comes the latest from director Mike Flanagan. The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix) is an audacious R-rated horror series about a mega-rich family who have created a nationwide opioid crisis.
Like a bloodier version of Succession crossed with pharmaceutical sagas Dopesick and Painkiller, Flanagan assembles the same troupe of actors that have featured in those other Netflix series. There’s Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Annabeth Gish, as well as big star newbies like Mark Hamill and Mary McDonnell.
So far, this is the must-see TV series for Halloween, although a British entry is out to deliver plenty of chills too. The Burning Girls (Paramount+) is about a vicar (Samantha Morton) moving to a strange village that is no Dibley. With creepy townsfolk and pagan rituals, it’s a particularly brave move to start a series by burning two young girls alive because they are Protestants.
Payback (Britbox) is an addictive new Scottish thriller written by Debbie O’Malley for executive producer Jed Mercurio (Line Of Duty and Bodyguard). It’s a role call of great Scottish actors like Morven Christie (The Bay), Peter Mullan (Mum) and Derek Riddell (Happy Valley), not to mention English actors like Prasanna Puwanarajah (Doctor Foster) and Steven Mackintosh (Luther).
Despite being about accountants, there is nothing boring in this six-part series. A wife unaware of her husband’s side hustle has to decide between a dangerous crime boss or the police bosses desperate to arrest him. Hear more about it on this week’s TV Gold podcast.
Never Let Him Go (Disney+) is a new four-part documentary from ABC News America and our own Blackfella Films. Made for Hulu, it covers the gay hate crime that left American mathematician Scott Johnson dead at the bottom of a Manly cliff in 1988.
Given how long it took his brother Steve Johnson to uncover the truth, it’s no wonder that Australian Story has covered this story at least twice over the years. Never Let Him Go, however, gets four hours to go into more detail than ever before, and it is still incredibly heartbreaking to watch.
Finally, what the hell was 10 thinking when it moved The Bold and The Beautiful to 4pm so Neighbours could return in its 4.30pm timeslot? That was always going to enrage B&B fans but 10 had enough confidence in their own decision that they would stick by it, right?
Wrong. After refusing to wait even two weeks, the two soaps were switched around. That led to a barrage of negative tabloid headlines about how Neighbours was a ratings flop, despite it being the top-rating Amazon Freevee show in the UK. Let’s stop giving the local press ammunition to take potshots at Australia’s longest-running drama.
Read more Mercado on TV here.
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.
We want your comments, feedback and questions – [email protected].
This week: The Burning Girls, Payback, Surviving Summer
Another busy week in front of the TV with some great recommendations. The Burning Girls (Paramount+ series) arrives in time for Halloween. Payback (Britbox series) is a British crime drama from Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio. Surviving Summer (Netflix, two series) is a family drama from Australian producer Joanna Werner. Never Let Him Go (Disney+ documentary) comes from ABC News in the US and Blackfella Films in Australia. Also this week The Burial (Prime movie).
Andrew talks about his visit to Broken Hill for a new documentary he is filming.
James reveals his highlight of the week was Damian Lewis in a leather jacket and Slayer T-shirt as the metal band blazed away on the soundtrack in the third last episode ever of Billions (Stan).
Tell us what you have been watching. Email: [email protected]