Top British dramas lead new series offering on Showmax

The Gilded Age
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IT’S a great month for British drama on Showmax, with This Is Going To Hurt, Landscapers and The Responder all up and ready to binge right now, all of which I highly recommend.

You can rest easy with the eternal book-to-screen debate with This Is Going To Hurt, because author (and real life doctor) Adam Kay adapted it himself. It’s based on his memoir of the same name but it must be pointed out the series is fictional. That said, the nuts and bolts of the book, which is both painfully tragic and funny, build the solid foundation of this seven-episode show, which delivers a harsh reckoning on the ailing and often failing, understaffed, underfunded, and overworked National Health System in the UK. The humour is extremely dark.

Ben Wishaw

Currently the eighth best-reviewed series of 2022 according to Metacritic, This Is Going To Hurt stars Emmy winner Ben Whishaw (Mary Poppins Returns, Q in No Time To Die, voice of Paddington) as a junior doctor in the labour ward. It has a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with TIME hailing it as “the best medical drama in years”.

The Responder, Rotten Tomatoes’ 12th Best TV show of 2022 (So Far), stars Emmy winner Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Black Panther, The Hobbit) as Chris Carson, a morally compromised urgent response officer tackling a series of crisis-stricken night shifts in Liverpool. Given what he is faced with on any given shift, you can understand how he gets sucked into less than ideal situations, which have a nasty pattern of getting worse the more he tries to fix them. Plus he has to deal with being partnered with a rookie who still has her morals intact, and juggle broken family commitments.

Martin Freeman, photo by Rekha Garton

Written by ex-police officer Tony Schumacher, The Responder has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Landscapers is one of the more unusual series you’ll watch this month. Mashable explains, “A collaboration between Sky and HBO, the four-part series is inevitably polarising, as an overtly theatrical interpretation of a true-crime police procedural. But if you’re into pulverizing that fourth wall, indulging in a spot of theatre, and the golden acting talents of Olivia Colman and David Thewlis, you’ll be hooked.”

Olivia Colman and David Thewlis

Oscar winner Colman (The Father, The Crown) and Emmy nominee Thewlis (I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Fargo, Harry Potter’s Remus Lupin) star as real-life couple Susan and Christopher Edwards, a unique love story that sees a pair of ordinary Brits become the focus of an extraordinary investigation when two dead bodies are discovered in the back garden of a house in Nottingham, England.

As it is based on a true story you may or may not know the outcome (although details are shared in the opening scene). Either way it is a fascinating presentation of the events that led to that outcome. And awfully sad, too.

The Gilded Age, one of Rotten Tomatoes’ most anticipated shows of 2022, is a new period drama from Oscar winner Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Gosford Park). It’s bright and shiny and clean in 1882 New York City, where old money is pitted against the brash nouveau riche in a societal war. As with Downton, The Gilded Age flips between above and below stairs, and here introduces race issues too.

Christine Baranski

The sets are lavish; it has been nominated for a 2022 Emmy for its production design; and the costumes are to die for. Likely quite unrealistic or historically accurate but gorgeous nonetheless, a visual feast. Young Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) moves from rural Pennsylvania to New York City after the death of her father. She moves in with her thoroughly old-money aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Emmy winner Christine Baranski, The Good Fight) and Ada Brook (two-time Emmy winner Cynthia Nixon, Sex and the City). Aunt Agnes is the Dowager Countess of The Gilded Age although there’s still none better than Maggie Smith.

That railroad tycoon George Russell (Critics Choice nominee Morgan Spector from The Plot Against America and Homeland) and his ambitious wife, Bertha (Emmy nominee Carrie Coon from Fargo), have built a magnificent mansion across 5th Avenue, is an affront to Agnes’s very existence.

HBO has already ordered a second season of The Gilded Age, which has an 8/10 rating on IMDb.

Still to come later this month are season two of The Equalizer, starring Oscar nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago), and limited true crime series The Thing About Pam, starring two-time Oscar winnerRenée Zellweger.

Queen Latifah, photo by Barbara Nitke

Queen Latifah was nominated for a 2022 Critics Choice Super Award for Best Actress in an Action Series for The Equalizer, a reimagining of the classic ’80s series and the 2014 blockbuster movie with Denzel Washington. She was also nominated for People’s Choice, Black Reel and Image awards for her performance as Robyn McCall, a single mother and former CIA operative who helps those with nowhere else to turn.

Already renewed for a third and fourth season, The Equalizer was named Best New Show by The African American Film Critics Association in 2021 and nominated as The Drama Show of 2021 by The People’s Choice Awards.

Renée Zellweger, photo by Skip Bolen

It’s been said Zellweger (Bridget Jones Diary, Judy) is almost unrecognisable as Pam Hupp in The Thing About Pam, but that’s not true at all. She’s doing a complete Karen look but there’s no mistaking her. The true-crime drama is based on the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria, which resulted in her husband Russ’s conviction, though he insisted he did not kill her.

The Equalizer and The Thing About Pam will be available from August 16.

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