Geralt is an itinerant and preternaturally gifted swordsman who ekes out a living killing monsters — one of which explodes out of a swamp to meet his blade in the very first scene. Such a hero would be welcome anywhere, you’d think, but Geralt is a mutant possessed of certain rudimentary magic abilities, and you know how bigoted and superstitious we “normal” humans can be. He turns up in a town full of trouble. Folks want to kill him on sight, natch, but sexy bandit queen Renfri (Emma Appleton) wants him to help her kill corrupt sorcerer Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen).
Meanwhile, half a continent away, the kindly Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May) and her ingenue granddaughter, Ciri (Freya Allan), face an invasion of armoured, battle-axe wielding psychos who are intent on pulling people’s entrails out while they’re still alive to watch.
Keep an eye on hunchbacked Yennefer (the impressive Anya Chalotra), a simple-minded pig-farmer’s daughter who might prove crucial to the whole thing.
But be warned: whatever immersion you achieve is likely to be broken by the jarringly modern music and attempted comic relief of annoying bard Jaskier (Joey Batey, an actor much too well credentialed for such a crummy role). It ain’t exactly Game of Thrones.
The Witcher is available for streaming on Netflix.
Pick of the Litter
A heartwarming American documentary series following six labrador and golden-retriever puppies as they set out to become assistance dogs for people with visually impairment. But for our gorgeous little heroes it’s not a case of simply turning up and getting the job. They can be instantly “career changed” into being family pets or guide-dog breeding animals if they turn out to have allergies or elbow dysplasia, or if they get into the rubbish or they poo without permission.
The Grand Tour: Seamen
Amazon Prime Video
Geralt of Rivia, a mutant with certain magic abilities, turns up in a town full of trouble.
If you think the titular double entendre is a bit too single-entendre for prime time, well, you won’t have long to wait until the disagreeable Jeremy Clarkson and his cronies Richard Hammond and James May drop the double part altogether. This special, in which the boorish former Top Gear presenters travel through Cambodia and Vietnam in boats, made headlines for Clarkson’s acknowledgement that global warming is real, but there’s nothing to recommend it unless you like watching rich Britons make fun of poor Asians.
Smack the Pony
Twenty years on, the earthily absurd and unpredictable British sketch comedy starring Fiona Allen, Doon Mackichan and Sally Phillips remains an absolute hoot. Series creator Victoria Pile, who would also go on to create Green Wing, enlisted a long list of writers to contribute sketches that split sides while putting distinctly bonkers female perspectives on everything from dating to music videos by The Corrs and the rapid escalation of Harry Nilsson singalongs in workplace break rooms. An unfettered delight.
Stan, from Wednesday
Supernatural-tinged Tassie-noir The Gloaming makes fine use of bleak and creepy locations.
Tasmania only seems to get spookier every time you see it on TV, and Stan’s new, supernatural-tinged Tassie-noir makes more fine use of some bleak and creepy locations.
It also has a fine lead in AACTA Award-winning Emma Booth, who plays maverick detective Molly McGee, a woman whose semi-estranged 14-year-old daughter, Lily (Josephine Blazier), is forever taking a back seat to her work.
When a 62-year-old woman is murdered and her body put on ghastly symbolic display, it’s disturbing enough. But there’s also a bizarre link to an unsolved murder from 20 years earlier.
Molly is the type of TV detective who likes to work solo, cruising around Hobart in her clapped-out old Valiant instead of a nice new squad car. But she’s about to be saddled with an unwanted partner in fellow detective Alex (Ewen Leslie), who has a history with her and a personal connection to that earlier crime.
Series creator Victoria Madden (The Kettering Incident) writes some parts more convincingly than others, but her angry-suspect part brings a confidently frightening performance out of young gun Matt Testro.
Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
Kanopy, being an academically inclined streaming service, hosts university lectures alongside its big collection of feature documentaries. Reel Bad Arabs is essentially a lecture delivered by distinguished American academic Jack Shaheen, but it gets a documentary feel from the assiduously edited overlay of clips from American movies that have denigrated and dehumanised Arabs and Muslims over the course of many decades. Shaheen points out that this would never fly with any other ethnic or religious group.