Whether you’re a lover of summer, or prone to some June gloom, this week’s super-varied On the Beat is sure to feature something that will pique your interest.
1. WHAT TO TRY EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU’RE TIRED OF DETECTIVE SHOWS
Based on detective novels written by J. K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, C.B. Strike is a cut above the average crime drama series. Tom Burke (The Musketeers, War and Peace) stars as title character Cormoran Strike, a war veteran now operating as a somewhat scruffy private detective in central London. Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) co-stars as Robin Ellacott, an office temp who becomes, if you will, the Dr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. Debuting Friday on Cinemax, this is a gripping and evocative miniseries underpinned by typically taut Rowling storytelling.
2. WHAT TO WATCH BECAUSE IT’S LIKE NOTHING WE’VE SEEN ON TV BEFORE
Even before it premieres Sunday on FX, this musical drama series co-created by Ryan Murphy (American Crime Story, Feud) and starring Evan Peters, Kate Mara, James Van Der Beek, is groundbreaking. Among its cast and crew are more than 100 trans folk, five of whom take center stage as series regulars. Set in mid-1980s Manhattan, its ambitious premise aims to juxtapose the rise of the Trump Organization with the growing popularity of underground ball culture, a haven for queer people of color famously captured in cult documentary Paris is Burning. With trans activists Janet Mock, Silas Howard, and Our Lady J serving as producers, Pose is poised to give the spotlight, brilliantly, to a long-marginalized community.
3. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF YOU LIKE POP MUSIC THAT GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN
This French singer-songwriter (whose real name is Héloïse Letissier) became a cult favorite with her 2014 album Chaleur Humaine and its distinctive hit single “Tilted.” Now she’s back with “Girlfriend,” the first track from her upcoming second LP, which showcases a surprising new sound. Sleek and sexy, it’s a glistening modern disco song influenced by 1990s G-funk music whose lyrics play with the idea of a woman behaving like a “macho man.” In short, Christine and the Queens sounds a bit different in 2018, but she’s as completely intriguing as ever.
4. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU ENJOY REALISTIC FAMILY DRAMAS
Adapted by Daniel Pearle from his stage play, A Kid Like Jake centers on an affluent Brooklyn couple getting to grips with the fact their four-year-old son may be gender-nonconforming. Both Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons) are impeccably liberal on the surface, but their values diverge somewhat when they disagree on whether Jake’s identity should be used to help him win a kindergarten scholarship. Director Silas Howard, who also produces this week’s hot new show Pose, draws terrific performances from both actors while ensuring the film remains fundamentally sympathetic to Jake. Opening in theaters Friday, Howard’s beautifully nuanced film is a thoughtful and affecting gem.
5. WHAT TO WATCH FOR POWERFUL LEAD PERFORMANCES
Despite airing in Sweden back in 2015, this international crime drama developed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Bobby Moresco (Crash) is only premiering here now. The show also benefits from a pair of instantly recognizable leads: Lord of the Rings‘ Dominic Monaghan plays a New York City detective who travels to Stockholm to help a very different local cop (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s late Michael Nyqvist) track down a serial killer. Debuting Tuesday on WGN America, this is a well-constructed thriller that gains poignancy in light of Nyqvist’s passing last year.
6. WHAT TO ADD YOUR SUMMER PARTY PLAYLIST
Formed while they were studying at world-famous Cambridge University, Clean Bandit are a somewhat unlikely dance-pop act whose sound blends crisp electronic beats with lush classical strings. They’ve already scored big U.S. hits with “Rather Be” and “Rockabye,” but “Solo” is their most high-profile collaboration yet. Demi Lovato delivers a slinky vocal that’s filtered with loads of quirky Auto-Tune effects, resulting in a break-up song that’s both infectious and melancholy. You can expect to hear it a lot as the weather heats up.
7. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR SUMMER PARTY PLAYLIST (TOO)
This second single from Years & Years’ upcoming album Palo Santo is even catchier than the first, “Sanctify.” Co-written and produced by Ed Sheeran collaborator Steve Mac, it’s a deceptively simple electro tune about a relationship that’s falling apart. “One minute you say we’re a team, then you’re telling me you can’t breathe,” frontman Olly Alexander sings on the chorus. “Well you should set me free, baby, if you’re over me.” It’s another impeccable exercise in pop melancholy from the talented British trio.
8. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’RE A SUCKER FOR A POWER STRUGGLE
Created by Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show) and produced by Adam McKay (The Big Short), HBO’s glossy new drama series revolves around a global media dynasty that doubles as a family business. Brian Cox (the actor, not the celebrity physicist) stars as an ageing patriarch who’s considering handing over the reins to his eldest son (Jeremy Strong) who may or may not be up to the task. Although he previously wrote a screenplay for a film about Rupert Murdoch that never got made, Armstrong has insisted Succession isn’t inspired by the infamous Australian billionaire. Tune in Sunday night to see if you fully believe him.
9. WHAT TO TRY EVEN IF YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED BY THE LAST REVIVAL
When Netflix first revived this cult sitcom in 2013, the response was pretty mixed. Because it proved tricky to coordinate the schedules of a cast that includes Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Portia de Rossi, most episodes focused on one or two characters rather than the whole dysfunctional Bluth family. Season five, whose first half launches Friday, promises to right this wrong by returning the show to its familiar ensemble format. With plot lines including an election campaign for de Rossi’s Lindsay and the mysterious disappearance of Liza Minnelli‘s character Lucille 2, Arrested Development definitely has potential to hit top form again.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO WATCH BECAUSE IT’S (ALMOST) YOUR LAST CHANCE
This is the final season of Tina Fey‘s infectious sitcom, so Netflix has decided to carve it in half: six episodes will launch Friday; the remaining six will debut later in 2018. If you’ve never watched before, it’s not too late to catch up. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt revolves around Ellie Kemper‘s title character, a woman adjusting to life in modern-day NYC after spending 15 years in a doomsday cult. Kimmy’s naivety is a well of humor, but this is a true ensemble piece which gives killer zingers to Tituss Burgess‘ wannabe Broadway star and Jane Krakowski‘s spoiled one-percenter. At its best, the succession of pop culture references can be genuinely dazzling.
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