The must-watch small screen offerings to check out in the new year

Jan 06, 2024
Grab your popcorn and settle in for some quality time in front of the TV with these must-watch offerings for January. Source: Getty Images.

Happy New Year! Although it’s non-ratings season there is an abundance of great viewing available to while away those hot summer days. On a really hot afternoon, there are few things better than a cool spot inside, with an icy beverage and something great to watch. Here are some of my picks.

Book Club : The Next Chapter

Not much of a story line and the stellar quartet who star probably deserve better than the lame jokes and cliché one liners, with lots of prosecco and penis jokes, but it’s a fun, easy watch if a little ridiculous and patronising in parts.

Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen return as the long-standing group of female friends, who we came to know in the first movie, decide to take a long ago planned but postponed trip to Italy. The introduction montage of Covid lockdown with the group catching up with on line calls was funny and relatable and the costumes are rather nice too. I enjoyed the Italian travel, beautiful places and scenery.

It’s a story about female friendship, taking opportunities and is just harmless fun. This film won’t be on any award platforms anytime soon but will appeal to many Start at 60 viewers who should enjoy central characters who are all in their 70’s which is a rarity on the screen. This Bill Holderman directed offering was also a nice way to get through a 40 degree plus afternoon. I watched it on Netflix.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Alice Hart is sent to live with her grandmother on a flower farm following the death of her parents in a fire. This is a well crafted mini series of 7 episodes that should come with some trigger warnings. It’s a bit slow in part but given the difficult subject matter including domestic violence, the importance of safe spaces and family secrets, time is probably just what is needed to weave the story. Visually beautiful, with lots of gorgeous flowers, as you might expect if you have read the book its based on, this is an emotive miniseries with flawed real characters who grow on you as their story unfolds.

Sigourney Weaver plays Alice’s grandmother and anchors this emotional story of trauma, memory, family and forgiveness supported by Alycia Debnam- Carey, Asher Keddie and Leah Purcell. Directed by Glendyn Ivin this is a story that will stay with you. Not surprisingly, there are 12 Australian Academy of Cinema Television and Arts nominations for the cast and crew of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart with Sigourney Weaver nominated for Best Lead Actress in a drama and supporting actress nomination for Debnam- Carter and Purcell. Other nominations include Best Cinematography, Best Direction in Drama or Comedy and hair and makeup nominations. I watched it on Prime.

The Great British Sewing Bee ( GBSB)

I would imagine this reality series on Binge has developed a bit of a cult following. Like many people over the age of 60 I learnt sewing at school, (I did ask to try woodwork but the gender-based curriculum of the day meant that I had to learn sewing and cooking instead). I made a lot of my own and my children’s clothes back in the day and now I even have the space keep the machine out and threaded ready to immediately attend to any mending or other activity, something I could only dream of for many years. I was not surprised to learn that these “old fashioned” skills are coming back into vogue after recently receiving a request from a granddaughter for some crocheted granny squares to be fashioned into a top- who else would you ask for granny squares but your granny?

The GBSB is a reality, competition-based format with sewers competing in 3 challenges each episode, a pattern challenge where a pattern is followed and garment created in a limited time, an adaptation challenge where recycled garments and fabrics are repurposed and a made to measure challenge where a specific garment must be made and fitted to a model. Season 9 has just aired with judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young putting the contestants through their paces over 10 episodes and host Sara Pascoe providing some levity. Season 10 is already planned with a new host joining the team.

There is also a Christmas special each year but I haven’t watched that yet. The show has spawned websites, pattern sale sites and a range of other sewing based activity and I found myself waiting for the new episode each week, although I must admit I had the winner picked quite early in this season. I watched it on Binge.

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