By Thomas Mitchell
Top streaming in July (from left): Brooke Satchwell in The Twelve, Chris Pratt in The Terminal List and Dakota Johnson in Persuasion.Credit:Brook Rushton/Foxtel, Amazon Studios, Nick Wall/Netflix
We’re halfway through the year and the winter chill has well and truly settled in. It’s the ideal time to hit the couch.
Luckily for you, the streaming gods have been hard at work, cooking up a new batch of shows to help fire up your ‘what to watch’ schedule.
A mix of old, new, funny and true; our ‘what to watch’ list for July is guaranteed to offer something for everyone.
Let us know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to tell us what you’re watching.
Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.
Clockwise, from left: Snowflake Mountain, Dakota Johnson in Persuasion and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things.Credit:Pete Dadds, Nick Wall, Netflix
Our top recommendation on Netflix is Snowflake Mountain, which gets ★★★.
A group of spoilt 20-somethings are tricked by their fed-up parents into thinking they’re appearing on a new reality show filmed at a five-star resort, but actually, they’ve been sent to a wilderness retreat where two former military hard men, Matt Tate and Joel Graves, hope to teach them how to behave like fully functioning adults. Not the bitching, vain, fashion and social media-obsessed “kidults” they are when they arrive. Expect eight episodes of bitching, moaning and, of course, weeping, despite a somewhat luxurious campsite and some “wilderness” activities that are not exactly taxing. The only things pushed to their limits are the motivational metaphors. The series’ wilderness experts Matt Tate, Joel Graves and Cat Bigney, all of whom are, arguably, far more interesting than the contestants. – Kylie Northover
If you want an eye-opening documentary … The Art of Incarceration (from July 3) shows the power of art to change the lives of Indigenous people in prison and improve their prospects on release. Director Alex Siddons takes us inside the Fulham Correctional Centre in Sale, where Indigenous inmates can make art and sell their work via The Torch. The art is striking, and the inmates open and insightful about their backgrounds, their crimes and their challenges. As some of the men are released, there are hopeful signs and a terrible tragedy. – Brad Newsome
If you’re a Jane Austen fan … a new adaptation of Persuasion drops on July 15. Dakota Johnson stars as Anne Elliot, the leading lady who laments breaking off her engagement to an inconsequential naval officer, Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis), at the behest of her vain family. Fast-forward seven years, and an unexpected reunion sees an unmarried Anne regretting her decision to ditch Frederick.
If you can’t stop Running Up That Hill … the season four finale of Stranger Things hits Netflix on July 1. Prepare for two very long episodes (85 minutes for episode eight, and a whopping 150 minutes for episode nine) as the town of Hawkins goes into battle.
Clockwise, from left: Brooke Satchwell and Pallavi Sharda in The Twelve, Kristen Schaal in What We Do in the Shadows and Below Deck Mediterranean.Credit:Brook Rushton/Foxtel, FX/Binge
Our top recommendation on Binge is The Twelve, which gets ★★★★.
When a show is remade for a local audience, often the first question is: why? In the case of The Twelve, loosely based on a Belgian series of the same name, that question is answered comprehensively. The basic concept is such a great one that you wonder why no one’s done it before: a courtroom murder mystery that also weaves in the secrets, lies and stories of the jurors: the 12. Showrunner Sarah Walker has taken the basic building blocks and created something distinctly Australian, hitting a host of resonant issues, from Bill Henson’s oeuvre to refugees and queer and race politics – and maybe even a touch of the Melissa Caddick disappearance. It’s a compelling and potent mix, and the fabulous production more than does it justice. The big ensemble brings together some of the best talent in Australia: well known and not so much, and genuinely multicultural. Polished, honest, intelligent and completely involving, this is first-rate television that feels both international and unashamedly local. – Melinda Houston
If you’ve thought of a cracking comeback once the moment has passed …The Rehearsal allows ordinary people to prepare for life’s most significant moments by ‘rehearsing’ them in carefully crafted simulations. Hosted by comedian Nathan Fielder, this strangely satisfying show releases on July 16.
If you love anything Taika Waititi touches … then the fourth season of What We Do In The Shadows drops on July 13. The comedy series based on Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s 2014 film of the same name has taken on a life (or death) of its own.
If your sea legs are in order …then it’s all aboard as Below Deck Mediterranean sets sail on July 12. Expect drama on the high seas as we follow the daily lives of the crew and guests on a 150-foot yacht.
Amazon Prime Video
Clockwise, from left: Chris Pratt and Riley Keough in The Terminal List, Keiynan Lonsdale in My Fake Boyfriend and former AFL player Michael O’Loughlin.Credit:Amazon Studios, Stephanie Montani/Lionsgate
Our top recommendation on Amazon Prime Video is The Terminal List, which gets ★★★½.
The bullets fly in this action-packed international military-conspiracy drama series based on the novel by former US Navy SEAL Jack Carr. It stars Chris Pratt as US Navy SEAL James Reece, who leads his team into Syria on a mission that ends in bloody disaster. Back home in the States, concussed, traumatised and being grilled by Navy investigators about what happened, he learns that the recordings of his team’s radio communications don’t match his recollection of events. Reece’s immediate conclusion: some unknown enemy has replaced the real recordings with fakes. Oh, and they’ve also sent assassins to kill him. Might there be a whiff of Jacob’s Ladder about all this? Is Reece just going mad? With director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) at the helm for the first episode, the series arrives with impact, intrigue and exciting tradecraft, even if Pratt isn’t a terribly captivating lead. – Brad Newsome
If you like seeing homegrown stars in Hollywood … My Fake Boyfriend features an accomplished and beautifully judged performance by Australian Keiynan Lonsdale. He elevates this preposterous romantic comedy, which could easily have been a complete turkey. Lonsdale plays Andrew, a soap-opera stuntman (really!) who can’t stop getting back together with his toxic ex, the show’s ridiculously good-looking but manipulative leading man (Marcus Rosner). To keep them broken up, Andrew’s annoying friends Kelly and Jake (Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland and former Disney Channel star Dylan Sprouse) create him a fake boyfriend who quickly becomes a huge social-media star. – Brad Newsome
If you enjoyed the Adam Goodes documentary The Australian Dream …Warriors on the Field is in the same ballpark. Presented by AFL legend Michael O’Loughlin, the documentary is a powerful look at the strength Indigenous players get from their culture, connection to the game, and how it helps them navigate racism in Australia.
If you like your comedies with a dash of tragedy … Don’t Make Me Go (out July 15) is a heartwarming film that asks what you would do if you knew your days were numbered? When single father Max (John Cho) discovers he has a terminal disease, he decides to try and cram all the years of love and support he will miss with his teenage daughter Wally (Mia Isaac) into the time he has left with her.
Apple TV +
Clockwise, from left: Maya Rudolph in Loot, Cooper Raiff in Cha Cha Real Smooth and Taron Egerton in Black Bird.Credit:Apple TV+
Our top recommendation on Apple TV + is Loot, which gets ★★★.
Maya Rudolph does wide-eyed bewilderment better than most, and as an uber-wealthy divorcee who is way out of her depth when it comes to doing good works rather than merely having a good time, she has plenty of scope for that in Loot. Be warned: the luxury yachts, stunning views and drool-worthy real estate might make viewers pull much the same face. It’s also worth noting that Loot is filmed in one of America’s most famous houses, The One in Bel-Air, featuring a jaw-dropping 49 bathrooms, ensuring the show doubles as a healthy dose of property porn. – Karl Quinn
If you’re a sucker for an indie rom-com … Cha Cha Real Smooth will scratch your itch. It’s a comic romance about a sweetly goofy college graduate (played by the film’s writer-director Cooper Raiff) who finds himself falling for an older single mother (Dakota Johnson) while he’s working as a party starter at bar mitzvahs. The movie won an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival and then, like CODA last year, sold to Apple TV+ for a small fortune. The Wrap describes it as “a disarmingly heartfelt gem with all the right moves to make you swoon”. – Garry Maddox
If you love true crime … Black Bird is a six-episode psychological thriller adapted from the true-crime memoir In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene and Hillel Levin. It stars Taron Egerton as Jimmy Keene, the son of policeman Jim Keene (Ray Liotta). When Jimmy gets sentenced to ten years in prison, he’s given an ultimatum by prosecutors: Serve the whole term without parole or transfer to a maximum-security facility for the criminally insane and befriend a suspected serial killer (Paul Walter Hauser) in hopes of getting him to confess to more crimes. Drops July 8.
Clockwise, from left: Alicia von Rittberg in Becoming Elizabeth, Birdgirl and Damon Herriman and Jackie van Beek in Nude Tuesday.Credit:Nick Briggs, Madman Films
Our top recommendation on Stan is Becoming Elizabeth which gets ★★★★.
When Henry VIII dropped off the twig, he left behind three children in line for the throne. All three of them would get a shot on it – last, longest and most famously, the young Elizabeth (Alicia von Rittberg). Don’t expect Becoming Elizabeth to be one of those glossy, romantic re-imaginings. There’s a fair bit of grit here, and if the occasionally shrill piano in the score puts you in mind of Succession, you’re on the right track. Young Elizabeth is about to find herself in a nest of vipers as colourful and ruthless as Logan Roy’s offspring. But where Succession leans into dark humour, Becoming Elizabeth leans into darkness in general. As the young Edward (Oliver Zetterstrom) is plonked on the throne, young Elizabeth is shuffled off to live with Henry’s widow, Catherine Parr (Jessica Raine), and her lecherous lover, Thomas Seymour (Tom Cullen). The brazen Seymour is immediately flirting outrageously with the demure Elizabeth and then actively working to seduce her – hands-on. Series creator Anya Reiss writes Seymour big, and Cullen jumps into the role with both feet, portraying a man whose ebulliently aggressive indiscretion almost amounts to a death wish. – Brad Newsome
If you’re a Birdman fan from way back … Birdgirl is a wacky spin-off from the cult cartoon Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (itself a spin-off from the 1960s Hanna-Barbera Birdman cartoon). The impulsive superhero has inherited a giant law firm and industrial conglomerate. She has her hands full dealing with a seriously oddball staff, her unresolved feelings about her father and the need to invest in new products such as a line of sinister talking teddy bears that offer rudimentary psychotherapy at inconvenient times. Enjoyably silly. – Brad Newsome
If you’re after a chilling crime documentary … Revealed: No Mercy, No Remorse rewinds the clock to 1993, when serial killer Paul Denyer viciously murdered three young women around Frankston. Next year he could be free on parole. This compelling documentary by The Age’s veteran crime reporter John Silvester will add to pressure on the state government to legislate to keep him in prison. The documentary is all the more powerful as police video shows the chilling casualness with which Denyer described the details of his crimes. – Kylie Northover
If you’re fluent in gibberish … Nude Tuesday is a wonderfully original film starring Jackie van Beek, Damon Herriman and Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement. The absurdist comedy focuses on a couple that spends a week at a new-age retreat in a bid to save their marriage. The entire film is spoken in gibberish, but audiences can pick from three different subtitle options, each with different endings.
Clockwise, from left: Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building, Jeff Bridges stars in The Old Man and The Bob’s Burgers Movie.Credit:Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu, Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, 20th Century Studios
Our top recommendation on Disney + is Only Murders in the Building, which gets ★★★★.
Even amid the slew of surprise feel-good hits last year, Only Murders in the Building really was a surprise feel-good hit. From the start, the comedic chemistry between longtime friends Steve Martin and Martin Short and their younger but equally luminous co-star, Selena Gomez, was a sheer delight. The new second season brings more of the same and an even more exuberant sense of freedom stemming from the first being so widely adored. And the sublime cast is further bolstered by Shirley MacLaine, Michael Rappaport and Amy Schumer. But for Charles, Oliver and Mabel (Martin, Short and Gomez), the stakes are higher and the quandaries stickier. This time they’re prime suspects in the murder of the building’s formidable owners’-board president, Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), who was found dying in Mabel’s apartment. The trio had already become minor New York celebrities for solving last season’s murder. Their notoriety as murder suspects is bringing them unwanted attention, not least from fellow true-crime podcaster Cinda Canning (Tina Fey). – Brad Newsome
If you’re a Big Lebowski fan … then you’ll no doubt enjoy Jeff Bridges in The Old Man, a high-stakes drama that sees him in career-best form. Bridges plays Dan Chase, a former CIA agent who left the organisation and has been living off the grid since. When an assassin arrives and tries to take Chase out, the old operative learns that to ensure his future, he now must reconcile his past. Releasing July 13.
If you’re craving burgers … long-running animated series Bob’s Burgers is getting the film treatment with The Bob’s Burger Movie. The Belcher family must work around the clock to save Bob’s Burgers after an underground water main breaks, creating a giant sinkhole in front of the restaurant.
If you fancy yourself as a strong speller … Bee Season is a razor-sharp 2005 film starring Richard Gere as an overbearing Jewish father. He pushes his daughter Eliza (Flora Cross) to win her local spelling bee, much to the dismay of his wife, Miriam (Juliette Binoche).
Heather Mitchell, Jessica De Gouw, Lewis Fitz-Gerald and Todd Lasance in the new season of The Secrets She Keeps.Credit:Paramount+
Our top recommendation on Paramount + is The Secrets She Keeps, which gets ★★★★.
The first season of this gripping drama was a surprise hit for Network Ten, but we’ve had to wait two years for a second season to arrive (and it’s been shifted to Paramount+). The drama is based on the psychological thriller novel of the same name by Michael Robotham and follows two vastly different women whose paths intertwine. Supermarket employee Agatha (Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael) and suburban super mum Meghan O’Shaughnessy (Jessica De Gouw). Both women apparently fall pregnant simultaneously, but it quickly becomes apparent that Agatha harbours an unhealthy obsession with Meghan. The second season picks up where season one left off, with Agatha in a maximum-security prison and fearing for her life. Also returning to reprise their roles for the six-part psychological thriller are De Gouw (The Crown, Underground) as Meghan and Ryan Corr (Bloom, Holding The Man) as Simon. Todd Lasance (Spartacus: War of the Damned, Cloudstreet) takes on the re-cast role of Meghan’s husband, Jack.
If you’re feeling like some silly sci-fi … Beavis And Butt-Head Do The Universe sees the animated best friends return to the big screen for the first time in a decade. Luckily, they’re still as clueless as ever, which comes in handy when they accidentally find themselves travelling through time and space.
If you’ve ever wondered why the levee was dry … The Day The Music Died: The Story Of Don McLean’s American Pie is the ultimate guide to one of the all-time great songs. The documentary features first-person interviews with McLean, who will reveal and share the secrets behind his iconic song for the first time.
Clockwise, from left: Mark Coles Smith in Mystery Road: Origin, David Wenham and Ashley Jenson as Agatha Raisin.Credit:David Dare Parker, ABC, Mark Bourdillon/AcornTV
Our top recommendation on ABC iview is Mystery Road: Origin, which gets ★★★★★.
This new instalment of the acclaimed Mystery Road series, which has centred around Indigenous cowboy detective Jay Swan (as wholly embodied by Aaron Pederson), rewinds the story to 1999 when Swan is a freshly minted detective. In Origin, which aims to flesh out the detective’s backstory, Swan is played by Mark Coles Smith, who manages an uncanny likeness to a younger Pederson; by the final of the six episodes, you’ll have forgotten he hasn’t always been Jay Swan. He leads a stellar ensemble cast of Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors in a tightly written, almost spare backstory that retains the neo-western mood of the first two seasons and looks just as phenomenal. Directed by Dylan River, son of season two co-director Warwick Thornton, and with cinematography by Tyson Perkins, nephew of season one director Rachel Perkins, Mystery Road: Origin is a glimpse into the future of Indigenous storytelling, making this instalment an even more extraordinary addition to the Mystery Road franchise. – Kylie Northover
If you love Michael Parkinson’s interviews … Parkinson in Australia offers a terrific excursion into Australia’s history, as the accomplished British talk show host invites noted guests into a Sydney studio for an Australian edition of his BBC series. Produced as the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, they’re a valuable television time capsule.
If you’re after flashbacks with familiar faces … The ABC Of is a six-part interview series that revisits the pasts of prominent Australians through moments drawn from the vast ABC archives. Hosted by David Wenham, the series uses footage to trigger poignant memories of their careers and modern Australian history. First in the hot seat is the unflappable ABC chair, Ita Buttrose. – Bridget McManus
If you want fabulous crime fighters … Ashley Jensen’s flamboyant private eye returns for the fourth season of Agatha Raisin, her trusty gay offsider Roy (Mathew Horne, Gavin & Stacey) ever ready with sexual innuendo as they infiltrate the sleepy Cotswolds in search of murder clues. This farcical whodunit peppered with “Ooh, Vicar!” gags is irresistibly entertaining. And it’s always a marvel how even the saddest stories don’t hurt a bit in this context. – Bridget McManus
SBS on Demand
Clockwise, from left: Off Country, Rarriwuy Hick and Luke Arnold in True Colours and Mandy Patinkin.Credit:Bradley Patrick, Supplied
Our top recommendation on SBS on Demand is Off Country, which gets ★★★★.
This documentary set out to follow seven Indigenous scholarship students from all around Australia over one year at Geelong Grammar, one of the country’s most elite boarding schools, particularly how they handled living between two very different worlds. But the filmmakers found their documentary taking them in unexpected directions when the pandemic hit, making for, arguably, a more compelling portrait of life for these Indigenous teenagers. If you like fly-on-the-wall style documentaries, Off Country will make for compelling viewing. Keep an eye out for just huge the Geelong Grammar campuses are. As one student in the doco says, “The school is like a suburb”. – Kylie Northover
If you want a homegrown whodunit … True Colours debuts on July 4 across SBS, NITV and SBS On Demand. The compelling four-part crime drama starts with the investigation of a car accident and soon turns into an epic hunt for a killer. It’s a murder mystery like no other exploring culture, community, family, and one woman’s pursuit to find her place within it. Rarriwuy Hick and Luke Arnold lead an all-star cast that includes Miranda Otto.
If you prefer life under the sea … submarine drama Das Boot returns for a third season. The crew of U-949 continue to find themselves under attack by the revengeful British Commander Swinburne (Ray Stevenson).
If you’re still thinking about the attack on the Capitol … Indivisible: Healing Hate delves deep into the rise of far-right extremism and how it drove January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Narrated by Homeland star Mandy Patinkin, all six episodes are available to stream from July 18.
Other free streamers
Clockwise, from left: Anna Friel in American Odyssey, Greg Kinnear in Rake and Glenn Robbins as Russell Coight.Credit:Virginia Sherwood/NBC, Hwa Goh/Big Crack Productions
Our top recommendation on 9Now is American Odyssey, which gets ★★★.
A geopolitical thriller that will be a hit with fans of Homeland and 24, American Odyssey sees Anna Friel playing Sergeant Odelle Ballard, a member of the U.S. Army stationed in Mali. When Sergeant Ballard finds evidence that points towards an American business funding terrorism, she becomes a whistleblower. But before Ballard can publicise the information, her unit is attacked, and she finds herself swept into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
If you like your legal shows with a side of laughs … Rake is the US version of the ABC show, which starred Richard Roxburgh as an out-of-control barrister, Cleaver Greene. This time around, Greg Kinnear takes on the role of hot-mess attorney, Keegan Dean, who is plagued by gambling debts, tax troubles, and a psychotic ex-girlfriend, but still manages to put his clients first – most of the time. 7Plus.
If you love the great outdoors … Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures remains the benchmark for any potential outdoorsmen. After 15 years off air, the legendary character (played by Glenn Robbins) returned to screens in 2018 for seven side-splitting episodes, all of which are available on 10Play.
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Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.
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