The Unlikely Murderer to Space Titans: the seven best shows to stream this week

There’s political skulduggery in a tense Swedish thriller, and a documentary on the bizarre billionaire space race between Musk, Branson and Bezos

Pick of the week

The Unlikely Murderer

Stig in the dumps ... The Unlikely Murderer.
Stig in the dumps ... The Unlikely Murderer. Photograph: Netflix

Netflix, from Friday 5 November
Stable, stoical Sweden seems an unlikely place for a political assassination. But in 1986, the shooting of prime minister Olof Palme sparked one of the biggest police investigations in the country’s history – and for years, it came up with almost nothing. This darkly atmospheric thriller tracks the killing and aftermath. Did the murder stem from Palme’s opposition to apartheid? Why was a small-time criminal initially convicted? Was the murderer hiding in plain sight all along? Robert Gustafsson plays the shifty, diffident Stig Engström, a seemingly innocuous witness to the crime who rose to prominence due to his criticism of the investigation, but later became the prime suspect.

***

Angels of the North

Hair today ... Angels of the North.
Hair today ... Angels of the North. Photograph: Paul Husband/BBC/Twenty Six 03

BBC Three, from Sunday 31 October
Back to Gateshead for another series tracking the exploits of Sammyjo, Saffron and the other denizens of the Longlox super salon. There’s been a pandemic since we last spent time with the crew but, on the basis of their relentless effervescence, you wouldn’t know. Tonight we meet Kallie’s boxer boyfriend, Ewan, who is training for his first big fight; Jade does her first piercing; and Sammyjo has decided to build a Barbie doll tribute to her staff. “It hasn’t really gone to plan,” she admits. “They look like dominatrixes.”

***

The Premise

Moral maze ... The Premise.
Moral maze ... The Premise. Photograph: Alyssa Moran/FX

Disney+, from Wednesday 3 October
Creator BJ Novak (Ryan Howard from The Office US) describes this anthology series of standalone comedy-dramas as “half-hour movies”. The idea is that each one will explore – sometimes poignantly, sometimes with squirming awkwardness – modern moral dilemmas. In the opening episode, a deeply embarrassing sex tape emerges, and it also accidentally captures an incident of police brutality against a Black man. Will the star of the tape allow his shame to be broadcast for the greater good? Slight, but not without a few diverting ideas.

***

Narcos: Mexico

Cartel wars ... Narcos: Mexico.
Cartel wars ... Narcos: Mexico. Photograph: Juan Rosas/Netflix

Netflix, from Friday 5 October
Nature hates a vacuum. Particularly when it comes to drug lords. Taking one ruthless criminal organisation out of circulation simply makes space for another. And so it is in the final season of this adrenalised crime caper – the weapons are getting bigger and the illicit profits ever more extraordinary as Joaquín “El Chapo” Fuentes and Amado Carrillo Fuentes arrive on the scene. While it’s as thrillingly visceral as ever, Narcos never fails to explore the moral corruption risked by law enforcement agents and journalists entering this brutal world.

***

Space Titans

Rocket man ... Elon Musk.
Rocket man ... Elon Musk. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters

Discovery+, from Thursday 4 November
According to this documentary, “2021 will go down as the year the billionaires went to space”. Well, that among a few other things. This film tracks the parallel missions of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin as they seek to explore (or colonise, depending on your point of view) space. The trio’s missions seem both comical and profound, and Space Titans never quite leans into the absurdity of rich men doing outlandish things just because they can. But it does ponder their motivations: are these altruistic endeavours, vanity projects or, as seems most likely, a bit of both?

***

Dickinson

The write stuff ... Dickinson.
The write stuff ... Dickinson. Photograph: Apple

Apple TV+, from Friday 5 Novmber
“Civil war ruins everything!” The final season of this periodically effective but sometimes clunky attempt to relocate the life of Emily Dickinson within the format of the modern teen drama finds the young literary icon (Hailee Steinfeld) dealing with family divisions and the traumatic convulsions of the American civil war. This chaos does, however, help loosen the corsets of her stifling domestic life: Emily soon has no choice but to embrace various forms of liberation. Sometimes too self-reflexive for its own good, but undeniably itself.

***

Glória

Spy games ... Glória.
Spy games ... Glória. Photograph: Netflix

Netflix, from Friday
Netflix’s first Portuguese original drama is a tense, twisty spy thriller set at the height of the cold war. From the tiny village of Glória do Ribatejo, an American broadcasting centre known as RARET broadcasts western propaganda into the eastern bloc. But is the institution entirely secure? It turns out that a microcosmic version of the US/Soviet battle for hearts and minds is playing out within its walls, as secret KGB agent João Vidal (Miguel Nunes) covertly faces off against Stephanie Vogt’s CIA operative Anne O’Brien Wilson.

Contributor

Phil Harrison

The GuardianTramp

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