The best nine shows to watch on Netflix and Amazon in February
Killian Scott plays a fiery, charismatic preacher in Damnation while Absentia is a new serial killer thriller
Netflix, February 1st
Tommy from Love/Hate (Killian Scott) has seemingly forgotten all about that long lusted after bottle of fizzy orange and has now quantum leaped into the body of a gun-toting, preacher with a Peaky Blinders-style hairdo, ready to wreak vengeance on his ne’er do well, pampered parishioners.
Set in Depression-era rural Iowa, Damnation is a gritty tale of the American labour movement, the economics of greed, the seduction of capitalism, a terrain of strikes, starvation and bloodied soil. It’s Deadwood long after the goldrush and minus sweary Lovejoy.
Scott plays Seth, a fiery, charismatic preacher who unites the disgruntled farming community and inspires them to strike until their prices are increased. This sees desperate smaller farmers attempting to cross pickets to save their livelihoods leaving the town awash with bullets and bloodshed. Strikebreakers are sent for to demolish the unions and regain the status quo, with the most effective of the bunch being the smooth-tongued Creely (Logan Marshall-Green AKA American Tom Hardy) who just so happens to be Seth’s estranged brother, turning the tale into Cain and Abel in cowboy hats.
Netflix, February 2nd
Are you ready for another dystopian sci-fi tale about how inevitably rotten our world will become? Okay then. (Where are all the sci-fi versions of Coronation Street eh, where is the Norris of the fourth millennium?)
Here we are again, back in the only vision of the future apparently available, the one which Ridley Scott designed back in 1982, where cityscapes are dark and foggy and everyone moodily zooms about in flying cars that look like giant dust mites.
Altered Carbon is based on the cyberpunk novel by Richard K Morgan and centres around the concept of everlasting life with people having the ability to download their consciousness into different host bodies or “sleeves” as they’re called. This unlimited process is now the playground of the super-rich. Grizzled mercenary Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnamon) is woken up 300 years in the future, hired by Earth’s wealthiest man Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) to find the man who murdered him. Much like Channel 4’s multi-layered anthology series Electric Dreams, Altered Carbon is a sci-fi spectacle in thrall to its own convoluted world.
Amazon Prime, February 2nd
Absentia is Amazon Prime’s new serial killer thriller. A six-part procedural drama with a familiar Nordic Noir twist, it follows the story of Emily Byrne (Castle’s Stana Katic), a presumed dead FBI agent who is found six years after being kidnapped and is then promptly accused of murder.
The series traces the life that continued in Byrne’s absence, from her husband remarrying to her father’s illness while dealing with her trauma and memory loss. With its fuzzy timelines and sketchy protagonist there are shades of Netflix’s exploitation mystery The Sinner and Anna Friel’s troubled Marcella. The show also rather distractingly, features Ralph Ineson (Finchy from The Office) as an FBI agent investigating Byrne’s ordeal but the case of the man who allegedly threw a kettle over a pub in Chichester remains sadly unsolved – here’s hoping for a spin-off show.
Netflix, February 2nd
Is there no end to Snoop Dogg’s talents? Rapper, actor, mogul, weed connoisseur, cooking chum of Martha Stewart and now there’s Coach Snoop, an entire Netflix series following his involvement with a youth football league that supports children from underprivileged areas of Los Angeles.
More in the mold of Hoop Dreams and Friday Night Lights rather than the irreverence of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, the docuseries explores Snoop’s love of football and his belief in its healing properties and the stability it can provide for troubled, isolated kids. Snoop takes a mindful approach as a mentor giving spirited speeches and floating down the sidelines in his grey marl shawl/snood like a sunglasses-sporting Jedi, leaving the real tough love to be doled out by coach K-Mac who endures the tears and tantrums waiting for that all-important breakthrough.
Netflix, February 7th
There was a time when it felt like the tyrannical reign of the judgemental makeover show would never end. We were doomed to see Gillian McKeith poking about in some poor accountant from Halifax’s excrement or twin Sloane Rangers Trinny & Susannah prod at a stranger’s breasts in a changing room for the rest of eternity.
In the age of Instagram perfection (where everyone is their own makeover specialist) these shows seem oddly quaint, which is possibly the misplaced mix of affection and nostalgia Netflix is banking on with their relaunch of Queer Eye. The mid Noughties series (originally titled Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) winked at the premise that gay men are superior to straight men in matters of style, food, culture and personal grooming. A hapless hetero New York man would be made over by the fabulous five (that featured Carson Kressley) and sent on his merry way. It was all a bit like something Carrie Bradshaw would have dreamt up while typing on her iMac in her undies in the middle of the afternoon.
The show itself has now been given a slight face-lift and a whole new fab five are attempting to solve sartorial and social problems but this time they’ve been transplanted to the American South (gasp!) where they gamely engage in conversations around topics such as LGBTQ rights while showing Uncle Randy how to rustle up an impressive avocado toast.
Netflix, February 9th
Seeing Allred is the incendiary (and timely) documentary about the notorious women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Filmakers Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman follow the dogged Allred as she represents some of comedian Bill Cosby’s accusers and supports clients such as Summer Zervos, the Apprentice contestant who accused Donald Trump of unwanted sexual advances.
The documentary examines the attorney’s divisive reputation, for some she is a determined warrior, a lightning rod of righteousness and justice, for others she is a hardened publicity seeker. Although any explorations of her detractors criticisms are mostly kept to a minimum, Seeing Allred instead acts as a loving, ebullient tribute to the flamboyant equality trailblazer.
The Bold Type
Amazon Prime, February 9th
Inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, former edition of Cosmopolitan magazine, The Bold Type is a fun, zingy drama about three young women embarking on fledgling media careers in New York City. It follows the trios’ adventures at the fictional Scarlet magazine where they juggle their complicated personal lives and negotiate office politics and mishaps through the whirlwind of social media – while looking impossibly glamourous, of course.
Netflix, February 23rd
Director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) serves up a soulful sci-fi drama, set in Berlin in the near future (in another Blade Runner-esque version of the city) where brooding mute barman Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) stalks through the city on the hunt for his missing girlfriend. This journey to locate his soulmate leads him to the shadowy world of two achingly sardonic US Army surgeons (played by a be-wigged Justin Theroux and a moustachioed Paul Rudd) who are on their own mysterious quest.
The Cloverfield Paradox
Netflix, February 4th
Surprise! JJ Abrams just pulled a Beyonce, dropping another chapter of his sci-fi ouevre, The Cloverfield Paradox, onto Netflix straight after the Superbowl. An origin story that attempts to clear up the mysterious goings-on in his previous films, Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, it stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl and our own Chris O’Dowd as astronauts who are part of an international team on a mission to save a world that’s in the midst of an energy crisis. It’s the dark paranoia of Black Mirror meets the ponderous philosophy of Prometheous. The most novel thing about The Cloverfield Paradox is its unexpected appearance with the filming staying under wraps until this reveal, ensuring it became an exciting, bona-fide “event” in the over-saturated, apathetic market of modern television.