The best additions to Amazon Prime Video in December 2018
Here are our top Amazon Prime Video picks for December 2018:
Here are our top Amazon Prime Video picks for December 2018:
Humans have landed on Mars, but what happens next?
National Geographic’s seminal space docu-drama Mars returns tomorrow (Sunday, November 11) for new insights on how humans can live on Mars. Last season, based on real science and predictions for the next two decades, Commander Hana Seung (Jihae) successfully established a human settlement on Mars. What comes next is the hard part.
Mars season two looks at questions of science vs profit, disease and human catastrophe on a foreign planet and whether humans are doomed to plunder and destroy. Ultimately, it asks one huge question: Will humans make the same mistakes on Mars as they have on Earth?
We spoke to members of the cast, production and big thinkers assigned to National Geographic’s most-talked-about show for their thoughts on season two and the future for space exploration.
“One of the crises in this season is space programmes aren’t funded in the way they were previously funded,” reveals newcomer Akbar Kurtha, who portrays medic Dr. Jay Johar. “Now you’ve got private corporations getting involved in the space programme, and once private corporations are involved we’re bringing capitalism to a new planet.
“I think there a lot of interesting dilemmas about the world we will create based on the values we have in our current world. That’s what season’s two’s about.”
Series two sees the International Mars Science Foundation team joined in space by for-profit corporation Vulcrum Industries, bringing science and capitalism into conflict on Mars. “I think the second season’s very realistic in that there’s a tension between the commercial people who arrive on Mars and the scientific people,” says Big Thinker Stephen Petranek, who wrote the book How We’ll Live on Mars on which Mars is based. “There are a lot of scientists who would like to leave Mars as a scientific park forever, which is not going to happen.”
“The second season is more about us,” adds Clementine Poidatz, who portrays doctor Amelie Durand. “There is a conflict between IMSF and Vulcrum on Mars for economic reasons. We don’t want to make money out of Mars, we just want to make life. Season one was the survival mission. The stakes were very high. Now it’s been nine years that we’ve been on Mars so life and human nature is explored more in this season.”
The second series uses models of resource extraction on Earth to predict how commercialisation of the Red Planet might start to look. Oil expert Antonia Juhasz was called in to lend her expertise to the show for its second season. She has a bleak outlook on humankind’s history of plundering: “When you look at oil extraction, very often it is the most autocratic governments that have used oil extraction in the most detrimental way without looking at the broader impact on the people who live there and the environments where they are.
“That really can’t be our approach to going to other planets because we’ve seen where that’s led us on this planet.”
“It’s so human of us to think ‘I’ll do it better this time’,” says newcomer Jeff Hephner, who portrays Vulcrum Industries head Kurt Hurrelle. “If our past portends our future, we’re just gonna do the same thing, we’re gonna be humans.
“That’s the negative take on it. The positive take for me is the hopefulness of it. The idea of thinking that there is that possibility we could do it right.”
One small step for woman, one giant leap for diversity.
National Geographic’s Mars is back for a second season and its first mission is smashing down gender roles. After season one saw humans establish a colony on Mars, season two takes us nine years into the future to see what life has become there. Commander Hana Seung (Jihae) is still at the forefront of the mission to make Mars habitable for humans, while Dr. Leslie Richardson (Cosima Shaw) is the new head of the International Mars Science Foundation. It’s a startling and noticeable take on an industry that is usually perceived as predominantly male.
We spoke to members of the cast, production and big thinkers assigned to National Geographic’s most-talked-about show for their thoughts on season two and the representation of female experts in space.
Showrunner Dee Johnson admits that portraying women in power wasn’t meant to be so topical. Johnson, who started work on Mars for season two and previous credits include Nashville, said: “It was set up when I came into season two. There was so much in place already that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew a private company would come and that would be the primary source of conflict, but in addition to that those strong female characters in leadership positions and of course you’re gonna take from your own life.
“I have faced these kinds of leadership decisions and women leaders they have a different experience. This is something I really want to explore. It’s really weird how topical the things we have been exploring in season two would become. Who knew?”
“I think this happened organically in the show,” adds Anamaria Marinca, who portrays exobiologist Dr Marta Kamen on Mars. “The subject matter informed the decisions, and it was a natural thing that [Leslie] become the head of ISMF. It’s like the characters are there, they have a life. It’s the obvious thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Shaw has her own insights. “It’s interesting, we lost two male characters in season one due to bad decision making, but the women survived. The woman who dies in season two dies due to natural causes.” She laughs, before adding: “Maybe Dee’s slightly responsible for it.”
The portrayal of females in prominent positions of leadership on an interplanetary stage suggest some huge questions. What are the fundamental differences between men and women, and how can that affect decision making on a new planet? Shaw believes male and female leaders have some vital differences: “I think we have this classic understanding that men act from their head and women act from their heart, and I think that’s put into question again and again and again throughout the season. We see women in power making difficult decisions that have to come both from the head and the heart.”
The fact of the matter is there are women in science, and plenty in fields that are perceived as predominantly male. Oil expert and Mars consultant Antonia Juhasz thinks such diversity is vital in discussing important world questions. “In season two, the majority of the talking heads are women and there’s a predominance of women of colour. We present different attitudes and a different way of thinking what are the challenges, presenting a much broader sense of answers to the same set of questions.”
Ultimately, the goal is simple. “I hope young women see this and see that there are women in these fields,” admits Johnson. “You kind of get the impression there aren’t, but there are a lot of women in these fields. They just have been invisible. Representation matters. If you see that’s a possibility, then that’s a possibility.”
The cast of Shadowhunters have praised the fan campaign to save the show from cancellation.
Fans of the fantasy series, which is based on Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, were devastated earlier this year when it was announced the show would end after just three seasons.
The announcement sparked a massive fan campaign to save the show, using billboard banners across the world, aeroplane banners over Los Angeles and even ads on the sides of London buses.
Speaking at the weekend’s London MCM Comic Con, stars from the show said they were “humbled” by the fan support for the show.
Chai Hansen, who joins the show as werewolf Jordan Kyle in season three, said: “Coming into it I knew it was huge, but seeing that level of support from the fanbase was so honouring. I feel so humbled. There was like 18-20 million tweets to save it.”
His co-star Emeraulde Toubia, who plays Isabelle Lightwood, added: “I think they always surprise us more. I think they’re amazing and great. It just shows how much they care about the story and the characters.”
As it stands, the efforts by #SaveShadowhunters have not yet born fruit – but series lead Katherine McNamara (Clary Fray) thinks they are far from unsuccessful.
She told press: “The world is so divided. To have a story that’s ultimately about love and acceptance and community and to have all of these people all over the world come together and form friendships and form this community – it’s really an amazing thing to see.
“Even speaking not just about the show, but things like voting. It’s showing just how powerful younger generations can be.
“They’re using their passion for a positive force and that’s ultimately what it is. It’s about choosing the kind of word they want to live in.”
Jade Hassouné, who plays Meliorn, added: “This unifying thing [the fans have] found isn’t going anywhere. Whether the show continues or not, or if it’s us or another form of the show, it has shown us that people can come together and influence for the positive.”
Doctor Who is back for a new series with a brand new front-woman.
Sunday, October 7 was the first episode of the popular science fiction series to feature Jodie Whittaker in the titular role – the first female to portray the role in its sixty year history. The episode was also the first of new showrunner Chris Chibnall’s reign and a complete revamp of the series.
Despite the massive changes to the series, it seems like the new timelord was a hit across the nation, with Twitter heaping praise on Whittaker’s portrayal.
— K (@Jonasantheapple) October 8, 2018
— claire (@clairefp_) October 7, 2018
I've already seen enough of the Thirteenth Doctor to tell you that Jodie Whittaker was born to play The Doctor #DoctorWho
— Johann 🔥 (@Pyronex02) October 7, 2018
— Jeff Howells (@JeffHowells72) October 7, 2018
There was also praise for what was deemed a “marvellous” episode all round and a fantastic ensemble around Whittaker.
Doctor Who had Sheffield, dyspraxia, Jodie Whittaker, technology (like human technology), kebabs being thrown, teeth monster, Bradley Walsh and some stunning views – what's not to love? #DoctorWho
— James Day (@JamesD2Day) October 7, 2018
One thought about today’s marvellous opener for #DoctorWho: it already feels like an ensemble. The other characters breathe and matter.
It’s part writing and part performance: Jodie Whittaker isn’t just a star in the centre, happy to let everyone orbit her. Good #ItsAboutTime
— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) October 7, 2018
It’s confirmed then – the new Doctor Who is a hit!
The television series inspired by the cult Guy Ritchie comedy and starring Harry Potter‘s Rupert Grint, Snatch, is back for a second explosive season.
After scoring a whopping ten million pounds and escaping on a yacht, the Hill gang’s plans for the dream life in sunny Spain don’t go exactly to plan when their yacht is hijacked and money stolen. Now in the Costa del Sol, they have two choices: try to go straight or return to a life of crime.
We sat down with series stars Rupert Grint (who plays Charlie Cavendish-Scott), Luke Pasqualino (Albert Hill) and Juliet Aubrey (Lily Hill) for a chat about what to expect in Snatch series two.
They say Spain is a gangsters’ paradise. Was it paradise filming in Spain?
Rupert: It was definitely paradise. It was quite easy to forget we were there for work. It’s a perfect location for Snatch. Historically it was very famous for hiding bank robbers – it’s got a rich criminal history. It just felt like the perfect place to come back and film.
Even in a three-piece suit?
Rupert: Yeah the three-piece suit was a bad choice – and a neck scarf. I had a lot of fake tan as well. It was still fun.
Luke: I agree – I didn’t have a three-piece suit to wear but a lot of leather jackets and heavy boots, but apart from that it was a lot of fun.
How does being in Spain change the series?
Luke: The end of season one you see the characters go off with ten million pounds in a boat. I think the fact that the characters are on strange soil keeps them on their toes and that’s where the drama comes into it – they’re always slightly out of their comfort zone. And with the Spanish characters that you meet in season two, it’s very much stepping into the unknown with these guys. They don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.
The costumes are such a big part of this show. How has Spain influence that?
Juliet: They were wonderful. Manuel Bonillo and Irene Orts designed as a pair, which is very unusual. They literally lived and breathed it. It was amazing the amount of dedication they gave all the characters and how their journey could be reflected.
How have your characters changed from season one?
Rupert: Charlie’s a bit of a broken man in the beginning. He fell in love in season one and he’s still bruised from that in season one because she [Chloe Cohen, played by Stephanie Leonidas] jumped ship halfway to Spain. She dumped him on the boat and took her share of the money. He’s slightly damaged from that.
The biggest change in Charlie is that he’s got a real thirst for leadership and is constantly trying to find opportunities where he can step in and actually he doubts a lot of Albert’s decisions which makes them clash occasionally. He’s got a bit more serious. Less drinking, more business.
Juliet: More pills.
Rupert: [Laughs] More pills.
Luke: Albert’s goal in season two is he wants to go straight. He wants to leave the criminal life behind him and in episode one they’re trying to get investors in the bar. It’s his dream to go straight and leave all of that behind them, but obviously as the series goes on you see that it doesn’t turn out that way. He’s always getting brought back into that life of crime – that life he’s been born into really.
Juliet: Lily leaves season one on such a high driving the speedboat and getting out with the money going towards the dream she’s dreamt about for years with Vic. And it just turns into a total nightmare. It’s the opposite of what she thought it was going to be, it’s like hell in paradise. And the relationship [with Vic]. They don’t really know each other anymore. She doesn’t really relate to him she doesn’t know why she fell in love with him in the first place. She starts season one really down, but you’ve got to go so far down to start coming up.
There are some big new additions to the show this series. Was there anyone in particular you were excited to work with?
Luke: Kevin Connolly was a big one for me personally. It’s always nice to work with him as director because he’s an actor first. He’s been an actor longer than he’s been a director, so it was nice for us to have someone who understood what it was like to go on the other side of the camera. He was amazing to work with – you could ask him anything and he would have the answer.
Is there anywhere else you would like to take the Snatch gang to?
Rupert: We can go anywhere – that’s the beauty of it.
Luke: Italy would be nice, we could get involved with the mafia.
Juliet: There would be a few heists in Italy, wouldn’t there? Some really, really good ones there. Stealing Jesus Christ’s foreskin from the Vatican.
Al Murray, the man behind Britain’s funniest patriot comedy act – The Pub Landlord – is back for a new series asking a timely question: why does everyone hate the English?
In his new series on HISTORY, Murray exchanges the pint for perspective as he travels to Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and France in a bid to learn more about the feuds they share with England.
Joining up with comics Antoine de Caunes, Henning Wehn, Fred MacAulay, Elis James and Andrew Maxwell, Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate The English? explores some of England’s most fascinating international rivalries.
We sat down with Murray in London for a chat about how Britain’s bloody (and weird) history has shaped its international relations to present.
Does everyone hate the English?
[Laughs] Some people certainly do. One of the interesting things about the programme was looking at it and thinking ‘I can see why people might be bothered about that’ and other bits thinking ‘why on earth are you bothered about that – it was a million years ago’.
In the first episode of Why Does Everyone Hate The English?, we learn about controversy of over the burial of Napoleon. Could you tell us a bit more about it?
That’s really interesting, because when Napoleon died they buried him in three coffins – a lead one, a tin one and a wood one. The people who buried him all signed off on how he’d been buried and what he was wearing. When they brought him back to Paris to bury him, they opened the coffin again and thought that his clothes were not arranged as they had been when he was buried -something was disturbed. They got into this idea that in fact the body had been swapped and it wasn’t Napoleon in the coffin. And in fact it was a French conspiracy theory that Napoleon is buried in Westminster Abbey because King George IV was such a fan of Napoleon that he wanted him in London.
There’s also a lot of contentious debate over who invented what, especially with France.
The invention stuff is really funny. It is contentious, but it’s also surprising. For instance, we argue over who invented television. I had no idea there was a French contender. You go to the Musée des Arts et Métiers and there are plenty of things in there that say they were invented by French inventors. You think they must be making it up, or stretching the fabric of whether it’s true or not, or lying – as Antoine called it. It’s one of those things where you think – do I really know the truth about any of this?
Who of the five countries hates us the most?
If I had to rank them from least to most, it would be Germany in fifth place, France fourth, Wales and Ireland joint second and Scotland first at the moment. It pains me to say that, I’d rather no one did.
Who has the most reason to?
Honestly, Ireland every day of the week – if it had to be anyone.
Do you have a favourite England rivalry?
The thing about France is that the rivalry felt very much like equals. It felt like two old rivals, who had been in this situation for a really long time – rather than in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where it’s basically your big bully next door. In France it feels more like level pegging, so the rivalry has a very different texture. It doesn’t seem to be full of grievance – which you will see in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
There’s so much scope for more series with countries that hate England. Where would you like to go next?
Australia would be brilliant, because that’s another one of those relationships – they’ve got the big brother/little brother thing. And of course Australia becoming a country and finding itself and all that. Australia one way or another is a product of this country, so that would be a really interesting place to go to. The thought that a lot of them really are English. Be interesting going around putting that to Australians and seeing what they make of it!
Why did you decide to include the pub landlord in the series?
He’s sort of the elephant in the room with this, because he’s this super patriot. We thought we’d have a little sprinkle of him across. Also, it gives me the opportunity to show people that it is a character and what he says has to be taken with a bucketful of salt.
It’s a timely series. What are you hoping the audience will get out of it?
Ideally, particularly the Irish episode – you hope people watch that and read a bit of Irish History. At least go on the Wikipedia page for four or five events we talk about in the programme and have a bit of a look at that and maybe understand why right now the Irish government is going ‘no, you can’t just have you want – we’ve had hundreds of years of that, and now the EU has got our back.’
One of things thats a recurring pattern in the history between England and Ireland is that whatever’s going wrong in England eventually gets settled in Ireland. So you’ve got Oliver Cromwell and the end of the English Civil War gets fought in Ireland. And then you get the Glorious Revolution, William of Orange fights the end of the Glorious Revolution in Ireland. You look at Brexit as an internal problem for the English mainly, and you could argue that there’s a border problem – with that being settled in Ireland. It seems to fit that pattern. I think if people knew a bit more Irish History they’d be a bit smarter about how they didn’t land everyone in those situations.
We’re one week into the biggest baking event of the year: The Great British Bake Off.
Twelve new contestants face Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith in the tent for a new series of sensational bakes, technical bake mysteries and soggy bottoms.
Here’s our guide to who’s who in the new series:
“I surely wanted to impress both Blue eyes and lovely Prue. Prue takes the cake on this one with her wealth of knowledge in the food industry. So her taste buds were top priority.”
Job: Full-time parent
“If I was to make an illusion cake, I’d make a bouquet of flowers in a decorative vase. Made from fondant and buttercream, and 12 red roses.”
Job: Full-time parent
“My desert island dish would probably be a simple pain de mie – I don’t think I could live without bread!”
Hometown: County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Job: Countryside recreation officer
“If I had to invent a new crisp flavour, it would be chocolate and cheese onion, it’s the best sweet and sour combination.”
Hometown: Newport, Wales
Job: Blood courier
“I love to make marshmallows!! However, I am also known for my elaborate and fun cakes, for parties. My favourites are the “severed mummy’s leg” (AKA raspberry roulade) for Halloween and a giant Prosecco cake for my wife’s birthday last year!”
Hometown: West Yorkshire
Job: In-store sampling assistant
“I was approaching 60 and I found it really liberating to do something like this. As you get older you feel less inhibited, and think does it matter if you make a fool of yourself.”
Job: Mental health specialist
“When I was a child I used to have to make mince pies at Christmas, and I hated mince pies. But everyone else raved about them! So I started realising that baking was a way for me to fit in and to make people like me, and essentially that is what we all want!”
Job: Civil servant and house/techno DJ
“I love to have music playing and always have my sous-chef (aka my dog Oscar) waiting patiently by my side for something to drop on the floor that he can eat before I have a chance to stop him!”
Job: Software project manager
“I always have a second stomach for pudding. But bread and butter would always be my top craving when I am hungry!”
Job: Research scientist
“Colleagues I knew during my PhD don’t have a clue that I can bake. Back in India I didn’t bake either. All of them and actually myself are surprised that I made it into the tent.”
Job: Project manager
“Let’s be honest – Paul hasn’t smiled since like 1983 so he wasn’t on my radar to impress! I really wanted to impress Prue though, I have admired her for a long time so was super keen, possibly borderline needy ha ha.”
Hometown: West Midlands
Job: Retired air steward
“I am not really looking forward to seeing myself. I have a motor home, I might just escape somewhere!”
After a longer break than usual, Bob Odenkirk is finally back for another series of Better Call Saul on Netflix.
The last series ended with a cliffhanger after Chuck, having sworn off contact with his brother Jimmy, began to suffer from EHS symptoms again. Isolated in his home, Chuck kicked a gas lamp over, trapping himself inside his own home as it burned.
Better Call Saul has received critical acclaim since it first arrived on AMC in the US in 2015. The series, envisioned as a lighter prequel to global hit Breaking Bad, stars Bob Odenkirk as a younger version of his immoral lawyer Saul Goodman.
Known as Jimmy McGill in the show, Better Call Saul explains the story of how public defender Jimmy became embroiled in the world of criminal law.
Watch the trailer for season four here:
New actors have been selected to play the roles of Prince Charles and Queen Mother in the third season of The Crown.
The Netflix series will be entering a new era upon its third instalment and so certain actors have been replaced as the characters get older.
While we might be sad to wave goodbye to certain famous faces, viewers can now look forward to some fresh, new talent on The Crown. Especially after the revelation that showrunner Peter Morgan has cast Josh O’Connor and Marion Bailey to appear in the new season as Prince Charles and the Queen Mother.
Bailey said: “It’s a brilliant show and we have a tough act to follow but what a gift to be playing the fascinating and greatly loved Queen Mother. Thrilled to be on board and working with such a top-notch team.”
Bailey and O’Connor will be joining the likes of Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter, who were recently announced as the new Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
Taking over Matt Smith’s role as Prince Phillip is Tobias Menzies.
The Crown seasons 1-2 are available to watch on Netflix.