Pick of the month on Showmax: Tokyo Vice


FOR a series that is so dramatically and strikingly gorgeous to watch, the publicity stills for Tokyo Vice are rather disappointing (except for the one above, which I found with Google images, thank you). Looking at them doesn’t make me want to watch it, but I have watched it already and highly recommend it. You can binge it on Showmax from April 12 and then gnash your teeth as you wait for season two which is currently coming to an end in the US.

It’s eight episodes of slow burn, and whatever the TV equivalent is of a book you can’t put down until you’ve read one more chapter. It stars Golden Globe nominee Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) as American-born journalist Jake Adelstein – the series is loosely inspired by Adelstein’s non-fiction, first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat – who has been living in neon-drenched Tokyo for a few years, and is fluent in Japanese, which secures him a job at a huge daily newspaper where he covers the crime beat. Except stories are throttled and controlled by the police, and some of the editors. As in “that is what we tell you and that is all you will print”.

Throw in some rival yakuza, the underbelly of host and hostess clubs, corrupt cops, and Jake’s determination to push through the frustration to uncover and reveal the truth about it all. It’s compelling and uncomfortable and exquisite and violent. It has an 88% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes (should be higher) and has been hailed as “beautifully shot and elegantly acted” by Variety and “addictive and brilliant” by Collider.

Elgort stars opposite Oscar nominees Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim), and Rachel Keller (A Man Called Otto, Fargo). Four-time Oscar nominee Michael Mann (Heat) directs the pilot and is an executive producer, while Tony Award-winning playwright JT Rogers is the show creator. Mostly Japanese with subtitles.

June feels like it’s still far away but it’ll be here before you know it. That’s when you can watch the second season of House of the Dragon express to Showmax and M-Net from 17 June 2024. The Emmy-winning first season was named Best TV Series – Drama at the 2023 Golden Globes and Best TV Series at Rotten Tomatoes’ Golden Tomato Awards for the best reviewed show of 2022.

Based on George RR Martin’s Fire & BloodHouse of the Dragon is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen. Matt Smith is back in his Critics Choice-nominated role as Daemon Targaryen, as is Emma D’Arcy in her Golden Globe-nominated role as Rhaenyra Targaryen. Olivia Cooke, Eve Best, Steve Toussaint, Fabien Frankel and Rhys Ifans also return. New cast members this season include BAFTA nominee Abubakar Salim (Father in Raised by Wolves) as Alyn of Hull, Gayle Rankin (Sheila the She-Wolf in GLOW) as Alys Rivers, Freddie Fox (Slow Horses, The Great) as Ser Gwayne Hightower, and Kieran Bew (Bill O’Hara in Warrior) as Hugh.

Here’s what else is on Showmax this month (some of it anyway).

The Cleaning Lady season three | Binge four episodes now, then weekly

The Cleaning Lady centres on former surgeon Thony De La Rosa, who travels to America for medical treatment to save her son but encounters a system rigged against her, forcing her to become a cleaning lady for the mob.

Created by award-winning writer-producer Miranda Kwok (The 100, Spartacus), based on the Argentine series La Chica que Limpia, The Cleaning Lady won a Women’s Image Network Award for Best Drama Series.

In addition, lead actress Élodie Yung (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Daredevil) won a Critics Choice Award for Breakthrough Actress for Television (Asian Pacific Cinema and TV). As Collider says of “Miranda Kwok’s gripping thriller… There simply wouldn’t be a show without Élodie Yung’s nuanced, heartbreaking portrayal of Thony.”

In season three, the stakes are higher than ever as Thony has to go it alone, risking dangerous new alliances as Fiona (Martha Millan) faces deportation to the Philippines.

Following the tragic passing of series co-star Adan Canto, this season sees Imagen Award winners Clayton Cardenas (Mayans MC) and Kate del Castillo (Bad Boys for Life) join the cast, along with Santiago Cabrera (Big Little Lies, Star Trek: Picard).

Ten Pound Poms | Binge now

Ten Pound Poms follows a group of Brits as they leave post-war Britain in 1956 to embark on a life-altering adventure on the other side of the world. For only a tenner, they have been promised a better house, better job prospects and a better quality of life by the sea in sun-soaked Australia. But life Down Under isn’t exactly the idyllic dream the new arrivals have been promised.

As Terry Roberts, Warren Brown (The Responder, Luther) won Best Actor at the 2023 Monte-Carlo TV Festival, where Ten Pound Poms was nominated for Best TV Series. Created by BAFTA nominee Danny Brocklehurst (Brassic, Accused), the six-part historical drama also stars award-winner Michelle Keegan (Our Girl) and Screen Actors Guild nominee Faye Marsay (Andor).

Power Book Ii: Ghost season three | binge from 5 April

The first spin-off series in the award-winning Power crime drama franchise, Ghost stars BET Award nominee Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq St Patrick, the son of drug dealer James “Ghost” St Patrick.

Grammy winners Cliff “Method Man” Smith and Mary J Blige are both back this season, while new faces include Black Reel nominee Keesha Sharp (American Crime Story, Lethal Weapon, Girlfriends), British-Nigerian Caroline Chikezie (Æon Flux, The Passage), and American-Nigerian Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire, The Deuce) as billionaire Ron Samuel Jenkins.

Created by Emmy nominee Courtney A Kemp (The Good Wife), Ghost has already been renewed for a fourth season.

Moonshine season two | binge from 10 April

A raucous tale of lust, legacy and lobster, Moonshine tells the story of the Finley-Cullens, a dysfunctional family of adult half-siblings battling to take control of the ailing family business, a rundown summer resort in Nova Scotia.

The show has already earned 24 nominations in its native Canada, winning Best TV Series at the Screen Nova Scotia Awards, and earning nominations at the Leo Awards for Tom Stevens (Wayward Pines, Deadly Class) and at the Canadian Screen Awards for Jennifer Finnigan, Emma Hunter, and Peter MacNeill (Good Witch, Nightmare Alley, A History of Violence).

Decider calls it “a fun show with a dreamy, summer vibe.”

Everything I Know About Love | Binge from 22 April

Maggie and Birdy, besties since school, finally land in London to live it large when the unexpected happens – dependable Birdy gets a steady boyfriend.

Adapted by award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton from her own wildly funny, occasionally heart-breaking, and bestselling memoir, the series is led by Emma Appleton as Maggie and BAFTA and Critics Choice Award nominee Bel Powley (A Small Light, The Morning Show, The King of Staten Island) as as Birdy.

The seven-part comedy-drama has an 96% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it “an absolute blast.” Time Magazine adds, “Appleton and Powley are irresistible as mutually adoring friends, and the escapist pleasures of 20-something life a mere decade ago make for an ideal vacation.”

Gordita Chronicles | Stream from 22 April, with new episodes on Mondays

The year is 1985 and Cucu “Gordita” Castelli (Olivia Goncalves) has just said goodbye to all of her friends and family in Santo Domingo and moved to Miami with her marketing executive father Víctor (Juan Javier Cardenas), bold and vivacious mother Adela (Diana Maria Riva), and suddenly status-obsessed older sister Emilia (Savannah Nicole Ruiz). While life in America is far from what they imagined, the Castellis are determined to take charge of their strange new world.

Executive produced by multi-award winners Zoe Saldaña and Eva Longoria, Gordita Chronicles has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “a big-hearted charmer.” At the 2023 Image Foundation Awards, Gordita Chronicles was nominated for Best Primetime Comedy.

Fellow Travelers | Stream from 26 April, with new episodes on Fridays

Created by Oscar nominee Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, Homeland), based on the novel by Thomas Mallon, Fellow Travelers is an epic love story and political thriller that chronicles the volatile romance of two very different men who meet in McCarthy-era Washington.

Emmy nominee Matt Bomer (David Oppenheim in Maestro) was nominated for Golden Globe, Critics Choice, Screen Actors Guild and People’s Choice awards as the handsome, charismatic Hawkins Fuller, who has a rewarding behind-the scenes career in politics. Hawkins avoids emotional entanglements – until he falls in love with Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey from Bridgerton and Broadchurch in a Critics Choice Award-winning performance), a young man brimming with idealism and religious faith.

The story follows its central characters over the course of four decades, from the height of the Lavender Scare through the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the ’70s, and the Aids crisis of the 1980s.

Fellow Travelers was nominated for Best Limited Series at the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards, before winning the category at the recent GLAAD Media Awards. Fellow Travelers holds an 8.2/10 score on IMDb and 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with AV Club saying it’s “as heart-wrenching as it is heartwarming,” and Variety praising Bomer and Bailey’s “electric chemistry,” saying, “Hawk and Tim’s relationship shifts over the decades, but their erotic intimacy and attraction reverberate off the screen.”

The show’s cast also includes Critics Choice nominee Allison Williams (Get Out, Girls, M3gan) and Golden Globe nominee Linus Roache (Homeland).

Black Ops season one | Mondays from 29 April

Who said infiltrating a criminal gang was going to be easy?

Black Ops is set in East London and follows two inept community support officers, Dom and Kay, who join the Met Police in the hope of cleaning up their community but are unwittingly thrust into the murky world of deep cover infiltration as they become part of a powerful criminal enterprise.

The six-part BBC series is co-created, written and exec produced by Nigerian-British BAFTA winners Gbemisola Ikumelo (Famalam, Brain In Gear) and Akemnji Ndifornyen (Famalam, The Queen’s Gambit), who star alongside award winner Hammed Animashaun (The Wheel of Time, Cunk & Other Humans on 2019, Pls Like).

“Can you really make a hilarious comedy about police racism? … the answer – pretty miraculously – is yes,” says The Guardian’s five-star review, calling the show “a pitch-perfect, star-packed joy.” Praising the “dream team of Ikumelo and Animashaun,” they say, “if these two are the future of British comedy, we’re in very safe hands.”

Already renewed for a second season, Black Ops was nominated for Best Comedy Performance (for Ikumelo) at the 2023 Talk Telly Awards, as well as the 2023 Royal Television Society, UK award for Original Score – Scripted.

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