New Netflix show is one of the best things you’ll see all year

With so many entertainment options, it's easy to miss brilliant TV shows, movies and documentaries. Here are the ones to hit play on, or skip.

Natasha Lyonne is the star of Russian Doll. Credit:Courtesy of Netflix

Nadia is a computer-game programmer trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare involving her 36th birthday party – an event weighted with emotional significance given that her own deeply troubled mother died at the age of 35.

The party is being thrown by Nadia's friend Maxine (Greta Lee), who shares Nadia's facility for verbal barbs and her appetite for illicit substances – and who provides many of the chuckles across the series' eight half-hour episodes.

Others at the shindig include their sex-enthusiast pal Lizzie (Rebecca Henderson); Nadia's mooning ex (Yul Vazquez); a sleazy literature professor (Jeremy Bobb); and Nadia's wise and long-serving surrogate mother figure, Ruth (Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley, bringing great presence in a delightfully layered performance).

As Nadia's nightmare progresses, she becomes sure that her fate is tied to that of a young local neurotic (Charlie Barnett), and she applies her fearsomely logical mind to the task of trying to figure out just what has caused this apparent glitch in the universe.

The new series, on Netflix, is one of the best shows you’ll see all year. Credit:Netflix

As terrific as the story and performances are, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Russian Doll is the amazing balance of tone, in which humour, horror, love and inky emotional blackness supply each other with revolving counterweights.

Things frequently change with the shocking impact of a car crash, but the emotional whipsaw never feels random or gimmicky, and it never drags the whole too far in any one direction. Everything takes on an added poignancy as the viewer becomes aware of the parallels between Nadia's background and Lyonne's own difficult real life.

One of the very best things you'll see all year, without a shadow of a doubt.

English heavy metal band Judas Priest. Credit:Paul Rovere

Heavy Metal Parking Lot

In 1986 guerrilla filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik rolled up to a sports stadium in Landover, Maryland, to interview young people getting wasted in the carpark before a Judas Priest concert.

The resulting 17-minute documentary became an underground classic and it remains a precious snapshot of a time when metal ruled but it was still OK to wear a Foreigner T-shirt in public.

YouTube has the 1996 sequel, Neil Diamond Parking Lot, and 2006's Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni: Where Are They Now?

Man in an Orange Shirt airs on Stan. Credit:BBC

Man In an Orange Shirt

The Britain of the 1940s is homoerotically charged and cruelly oppressive in this evocative multi-generational miniseries, which British novelist Patrick Gale based on his own family history.

Gay sex is illegal, and a neighbour's denunciation is all it takes to have the police haul you off in the middle of the night.

So devastatingly handsome ex-soldier Michael (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) commits to the equally cruel charade of marrying his unsuspecting life-long friend, Flora (Johanna Vanderham), while he's really in love with artist Thomas (James McArdle).

An employee at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.Credit:AP

Fukushima: Robots in Hell
Amazon Prime Video

The profiles of the various ingeniously designed robots that have been deployed to explore and decontaminate the shattered reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant are just part of this absorbing documentary.

There's also a clear and useful recap of how the 2011 tsunami caused meltdowns, huge explosions and the release of radioactive materials from the reactors, and of the enormous task of decontaminating the plant and its surrounds.

Surprisingly, the robot operators have to stay so close to the robots that they work in a lead-lined room.

Rapper and businessman Killer Mike.

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike

Rapper and businessman Killer Mike brings an imaginative "free-thinking" approach to racial inequality this wildly uneven documentary series.

Most of the really thought-provoking stuff comes in the first couple of episodes. Mike points out that one of the side-effects of desegregation in the US is that money no longer stays within the black community like it did when black people could only patronise black-owned businesses.

To illustrate the point, he tries to spend three days using only black-owned goods and services in the majority-black city of Atlanta, Georgia, and nearby Athens. He ends up going hungry, sleeping on the street and not even being able to smoke cannabis because the weed is all grown by white folks back in California.

His call to viewers to take part in "Black Friday" by patronising a black-owned business each Friday is a great idea. Some of his other episodes, though, are dominated by silly, drawn-out stunts, and his work to help notoriously violent street gangs make money through merchandising seems hugely wrong-headed.

Still, the abundance of interesting insights and perspectives makes it well worth checking out.

William Shatner.

William Shatner's Brown Bag Wine Tasting
Amazon Prime Video

It's such a William Shatner thing to do: wander around Los Angeles having short, sit-down conversations with ordinary everyday people over a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag.

To pick a person at random, how about railway museum worker Nancy, who explains how vintage locomotives help her tell the story of America, and who describes Shatner's pinot noir as having notes of oak railway sleepers.

Series two shifts the focus to minor celebrities, which is a bit of a pity.

*Stan is owned by Nine, the publisher of this website.

Source: Read Full Article