TV Review: Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (Netflix) – Documentary

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel aired on Netflix in February 2021 and is directed by Joe Berlinger (Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes). The documentary series chronicles the mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel in 2013, whose final moments, which were caught on the hotel’s lift CCTV, ignited a media frenzy and mobilized a global community of internet sleuths eager to solve the case.

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TV Review: It’s A Sin (Channel 4) – Miniseries

Aired on Channel 4 in January 2021, It’s A Sin is a five-part series written and created by Russell T Davies. Set from 1981 to 1991, the series depicts the lives of a group of gay men and their friends – Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas), Colin (Callum Scott Howells), Jill (Lydia West), and Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) – who lived during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the UK.

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TV Review: The Bay (ITV) – Season Two

Written by Daragh Carville, The Bay first aired on ITV in 2019. The second season sees D.S. Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) of the West Lancashire Police Service who, now that her suspension is over, has been demoted. Now working under D.C Ahmed ‘Med’ Kharim (Taheen Modak), the team are investigating the shooting of a solicitor who is shot on his doorstep. To complicate Lisa’s life further, her ex-husband Andy (Joe Absolom) reappears.

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TV Review: The Ripper (Netflix) – Documentary

The Ripper is a true-crime series directed by Jesse Vile and Ellena Wood that was released on Netflix in December 2020.

The four-part miniseries recounts the events and investigation surrounding the murders of 13 women that took place in West Yorkshire and Manchester between 1975 and 1980.[2] It would eventually be determined that these incidents were inextricably linked by the man carrying out the killings- English serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe.[2] Dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper by the press, journalists were taken with the similarities to the murders conducted by the notorious Jack the Ripper and used the name to spark interest in the public. This series follows the chronology of events and is told through interviews with investigators, journalists, survivors, and family members of victims.

For five years, between 1975 to 1980, the Yorkshire Ripper murders cast a dark shadow over the lives of women in the North of England. 13 women were dead and the police seemed incapable of catching the killer. No one felt safe – and every man was a suspect.

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TV Review: Bridgerton (Netflix) – Season One

Based on Julia Quinn‘s novels and created by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton premiered on Netflix in December 2020. The series centres on the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she makes her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market. Hoping to follow in her parent’s footsteps and find a match sparked by true love, her prospects initially seem to be unrivalled. Enter the highly desirable Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), a committed bachelor and the catch of the season. Despite proclaiming that they want nothing the other has to offer, their attraction is undeniable.

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TV Review: Catherine The Great (Sky Atlantic) – Miniseries

Written by Nigel Williams and directed by Philip Martin, Catherine the Great premiered on Sky Atlanticin October 2019. The four-part series stars Helen Mirren as the titular Catherine the Great and depicts her reign from 1764, two years after taking power, until her death in 1796, and her affair with Russian military leader Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke) that helped shape the future of Russian politics.

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TV Review: A Teacher (BBC Two) – Miniseries

Based on A Teacher by Hannah Fidell, this TV adaptation aired on BBC Two in January 2021. Set from 2013 to 2024, A Teacher focuses on Claire Wilson (Kate Mara), a high school English teacher who has an affair with a 17-year-old student, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson). The miniseries explores the complexities of the relationship and the consequences for both of them and those around them.

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TV Review: The Pembrokeshire Murders (ITV) – Miniseries

The Pembrokeshire Murders is a three-part miniseries that aired on ITV in January 2021. The series follows the true story of newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins (Luke Evans) as he investigates the Pembrokeshire murders by Welsh serial killer John Cooper (Keith Allen) in the 1980s. With advances in technology for Forensic DNA analysis, witness reports and artists impressions of the suspect, Wilkins decides to re-open two unsolved murder cases linked with a string of burglaries. When Dyfed-Powys Police review a 1989 episode of Bullseye, this ultimately leads them to finally catch the serial killer.

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TV Review: The Fall (BBC) – Season One-Three

Created and written by Allan Cubitt, The Fall originally aired from 2013-2016 on BBC and follows Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), who is brought in to assess the progress of a murder investigation that has remained active for longer than 28 days. When it becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose, local detectives must work with Stella to find and capture Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), who is attacking young professional women in the city of Belfast.

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TV Review: Harlots (BBC) – Season Three

Originally premiered on ITV Encore in July 2018, Harlots was recently picked up by BBC, with the three series airing from August-November 2020. Written, directed and produced by an all-female team, the series is created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman and based on The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold. The 18th-century drama is set in London and follows brothel owner Charlotte Wells (Jessica Brown Findlay) as she fights back against the new pimps in town, Isaac (Alfie Allen) and Hal (Ash Hunter), Lucy Wells (Eloise Smyth) as she joins forces with the new owners of the town’s molly-house, Elizabeth Harvey (Angela Griffin) and her son Fredo (Aidan Cheng), while Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) continues to suffer the abandonment of her family and the experimental treatments of her doctors as she befriends the young Kate (Daisy Head).

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TV Review: The Undoing (Sky Atlantic) – Miniseries

Aired on Sky Atlantic in October 2020, The Undoing is written by David E. Kelley and directed by Susanne Bier. Based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, the series follows a wealthy New York couple, therapist Grace (Nicole Kidman) and doctor Jonathan (Hugh Grant), whose lives turn upside down when their family gets involved in a murder case.

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TV Review: 9-1-1 Lone Star (Sky Witness) – Season One

A spin-off to 9-1-1, the Sky Witness series 9-1-1: Lone Star, created for Fox by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Tim Minear, aired in the UK in September 2020. Focusing on a set of fire, police, and ambulance departments located in Austin, Texas, the series follows a team – Owen (Rob Lowe), Michelle (Liv Tyler), TK (Ronen Rubinstein, Grace (Sierra McClain), Judd (Jim Parrack), Marjan (Natacha Karam), Paul (Brian Michael Smith), Carlos (Rafael L. Silva), and Mateo (Julian Works) – as they work to save people’s lives while trying to solve their own personal problems.

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TV Review: Prodigal Son (Sky One) – Season One

Created by Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver, Prodigal Son aired on Sky One in August 2020 and centers on FBI profiler Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne). Now a consultant for the New York Police Department, Malcolm is forced to confront his father, the infamous serial killer Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen), known as “The Surgeon”, after a copycat serial killer uses Whitly’s methods of killing. As a child, Malcolm was responsible for enabling the police to arrest his father, and has not seen his father in ten years. Now, he finds himself drawn back into constant contact with his father as he must both use Whitly’s insights to help the police solve particularly horrible crimes and battle his own inner demons.

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TV Review: The Sister (ITV) – Season One

Directed by Niall MacCormick and adapted by Neil Cross from his own novel, Burial, The Sister is a four-part series that aired on ITV in October 2020. It follows the character of Nathan (Russell Tovey) when, almost a decade into his new devoted married life, is rocked to the core when an unwelcome face from the past, Bob (Bertie Carvel), turns up on his doorstep with shocking news.

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TV Review: Ratched (Netflix) – Season One

Created by Ryan Murphy and Evan Romansky, Ratched serves as a prequel to Ken Kesey‘s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, following the titular character, Nurse Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson). Airing on Netflix in September 2020, the series begins in 1947 when Mildred arrives in Northern California to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital, where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. On a clandestine mission, Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smouldering within.

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TV Review: Brave New World (Sky One) – Season One

Based on the classic novel of the same name by Aldous Huxley and aired on Sky One in October 2020, Brave New World is set in a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family and history itself. As citizens of New London, Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd) and Lenina Crowne (Jessica Brown Findlay) embark on a vacation to the Savage Lands, where they become embroiled in a harrowing and violent rebellion. Bernard and Lenina are rescued by John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich), who escapes with them back to New London. However, John’s arrival in the New World soon threatens to disrupt its utopian harmony, leaving Bernard and Lenina to grapple with the repercussions.

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TV Review: The Third Day (Sky Atlantic) – Miniseries

Created by Felix Barrett and Dennis Kelly and aired on Sky Atlantic in September 2020, The Third Day follows the individual journeys of a man and woman who arrive on a mysterious island off the English coast at different times, where they encounter a group of islanders set on preserving their traditions at any cost. Sam (Jude Law) arrives in the “Summer” after being mysteriously drawn to the island, and Helen (Naomie Harris) arrives in the “Winter” seeking answers.

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Documentary Review: The Social Dilemma (Netflix)

Directed by Jeff Orlowski and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis, The Social Dilemma aired on Netflix in September 2020 and explores the rise of social media. Focusing on its exploitation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining, the documentary looks at the damage it has caused to society, how its design is meant to nurture addiction, its use in politics, its effect on mental health, and its role in spreading conspiracy theories.

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Documentary Review: American Murder – The Family Next Door (Netflix)

Aired on Netflix in September 2020, American Murder: The Family Next Door is a true-crime documentary directed by Jenny Popplewell. The film tells the story of the 2018 Watts family murders, which took place in Frederick, Colorado. It uses archival footage including social media posts, law enforcement recordings, text messages and home video footage to depict the events that occurred.

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