From royal plots to a musical genius, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. The Queen and the Coup – Wednesday, July 28, KCTS, 4:30 p.m.
PBSIn 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was unwittingly deployed in a secret plot to topple Iran’s democratic government in favour of an all-powerful Shah, a coup d’etat planned by M16 and executed by the CIA. Thanks to newly declassified documents, the truth can finally be told.
2. 2021 NBA Draft – Thursday, July 29, 4 p.m. & 7 p.m., Sportsnet 360; 5 p.m., ABC
Sportsnet 360As all sports fans know, there’s no such thing as an “offseason.” Not when you’ve got free agency and the draft to obsess over. On that note, this year’s NBA Draft finds Oklahoma State PG Cade Cunningham as most likely to go No. 1 to the Detroit Pistons.
3. The Wine Show – Thursday, July 29, Acorn TV (Stream) | Season Premiere
Acorn TVIf you’ve been missing out on travel, good friends and sampling delicious food and wine, then this show will have you yearning for your own adventures in the very near future. For now, big-time stars Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) are doing all that for you. (You’re welcome.)
In each episode, they explore the people and stories behind some of the world’s most fascinating wines, proving that those Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs are about so much more than a glass to pair with cheese. The first season was based in their villa in the Italian hills but filmed in beautiful locations all over the world, while the second season homed in on all that France has to offer. When the seven-episode third season drops this week, James Purefoy (Rome) gets in on the action along with another new team member: Dominic West (The Wire).
The whole gang meets up at this year’s headquarters, Quinta do Noval in the stunning Douro Valley in Portugal. Follow along as Purefoy, West and Goode explore Portugal and speak with experts in the art of wine, learning more about this region’s wonderful grapes. Meanwhile, Rhys and wine guru Joe Fattorini lunch at restaurants throughout New York City, where they pair wine with international cuisines to showcase a whole new world of flavours.
Also new this season is sommelier Charlotte Wilde, who travels to The Azores and finally answers the question: who really invented sparkling wine?
Be sure to prep your own flights of wine and charcuterie boards accordingly. Otherwise, you’re definitely going to be left with a thirsty palate and a rumbly tummy.
4. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Friday, July 30, 8 p.m., City
CityDesignated Survivor’s Italia Ricci stars as Miranda, who runs a boot camp for the broken-hearted. The arrival of a reporter (Ryan Paevey), investigating whether her camp is a fad or phenomenon causes sparks to fly. Anyone who’s ever seen a Hallmark rom-com knows what happens next.
5. Glow Up – Friday, July 30, Netflix
NetflixIt seems like makeup is more popular than ever, what with influencers, social media tutorials and a slew of celebrities hocking their own lines to fans. But, amateurs aside, the “glow-ups” that true makeup artists can achieve is absolutely jaw-dropping. For proof, look no further than the first two seasons of this British competition show.
On Friday, as the third season drops, we’ll meet a new group of hopeful makeup artists eagerly pouncing upon their own chance to make it big.
Judges Val Garland, Dominic Skinner and a weekly guest star will oversee a series of challenges in which these competitors have to prove they’ve got what it takes to gussy up—hiding the flaws but also accentuating the existing beauty.
6. Jungle Cruise – Friday, July 30, Disney+
Disney+Movies inspired by Disney’s theme park rides have been something of a mixed bag. Sure, Pirates of the Caribbean was a huge hit that spawned multiple sequels, but beyond that viewers are left with such dreck as Eddie Murphy in The Haunted Mansion, George Clooney’s Tomorrowland and the Disney dumpster fire that was The Country Bears.
Yet hope springs eternal that the latest, Jungle Cruise, will get it right. Available via Premier Access on Disney+, this movie based on Disneyland’s iconic Jungle Cruise ride stars Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff, skipper of the ramshackle boat La Quila, hired by intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) to take her deep into the Amazon to find an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities—possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Unlocking the secrets of the tree, however, involves facing an array of perils, from dangerous jungle creatures to supernatural forces, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.
7. The Last Mercenary – Friday, July 30, Netflix
NetflixThough many have tried, not every action star has been so successful at showing fans that, “Hey guys, I can be funny, too!” Jean-Claude Van Damme hasn’t really had that problem, having poked fun at himself on Friends, in an episode of Robot Chicken (where he also voiced Rhett Butler and Count Chocula!), in the film Welcome to the Jungle and—more recently—in the six-episode Amazon series Jean-Claude Van Johnson.
In this new French flick, the so-called “Muscles From Brussels” plays Richard Brumère, a.k.a. “The Mist”—a former special agent for the French Secret Service who’s since become a mercenary. After his son Archibald gets caught between the government and the mob and is wrongly accused of arms dealing, Richard must return to France and put together a new team—or something approximating one, anyway—to save the kid’s life.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Richard has something else he really needs to do, something he’s been putting off for far too long: he needs to tell Archibald that he’s his father. As Van Damme put it in a press release: The Last Mercenary is “a beautiful story with emotion, a lot of action and a lot of humour.”
8. Physical – Friday, July 20, Apple TV+
Apple TV+As burgeoning aerobics guru Sheila (Rose Byrne) struggles to strike a balance between being a good mom to Maya and maintaining her own sanity, the studio’s workout video is turning into an unexpected smash.
9. The Pursuit of Love – Friday, July 30, Amazon Prime Video | Series Premiere
Amazon Prime VideoIf you’ve been missing Downton Abbey and are positively itching for new episodes of Bridgerton to drop, then this sexy and insightful three-part miniseries may be your new obsession.
Written by and starring Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom) and based on the novel of the same name by Nancy Mitford, the period piece revolves around two female cousins and best friends who want more from life than what their current circumstances offer. The show is set in Europe in between the two World Wars, where Linda Radlett (Baby Driver’s Lily James) and Fanny Logan (Cruella’s Emily Beecham) are on the hunt for an “ideal” husband. However, when Fanny settles for a steady life with a solid match and goes on to start a family, their friendship is put to the test. That’s largely because Linda opts for a less traditional course of action. Rather than settling for someone “suitable,” she follows her heart to wild and outrageous places, ditching the life that’s been so thoroughly expected of her.
In the end, the choices each woman makes prompt the audience to consider questions about freedom, love and sex, while the show also tells the larger story of a Europe that’s right on the cusp of major upheaval thanks to ever-widening social and political divides. (All of which remains strikingly relevant to this day.)
“Emily took inspiration from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette film, where you can be in Converse [shoes] running down a corridor one minute and in period gowns the next,” James told The Guardian. “It’s rooted in history but also feels alive. You feel it could be taking place now.”
Dominic West (The Affair) Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Beattie Edmondson (Patrick) also star.
10. Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson – Friday, July 30, Apple TV+
Apple TV+The name Mark Ronson may not be instantly recognizable to everyone, but anyone with even a passing interest in popular music will recognize the output of this in-demand DJ and producer. Having worked with a vast array of artists ranging from Lady Gaga to Foreigner to Adele, Ronson’s signature sound can be heard on such hits as Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”
Ronson is our guide for Watch the Sound, a six-episode docuseries from Oscar-winning producer Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) that aims to “examine sound creation and the revolutionary technology that has shaped music as we know it.” Each episode follows Ronson as he uncovers the untold stories behind music creation and the lengths that producers and artists have been willing to go in their sometimes quixotic quest to find the perfect sound.
As a result, Ronson explores the unique intersection between artistry and technology in candid conversations with a diverse and impressive roster of stars, including Paul McCartney, Questlove, King Princess, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Ad-Rock and Mike D from the Beastie Boys, and more, probing the ways in which their technological tools have influenced their work.
At the end of each episode, Ronson will create a piece of original music using such groundbreaking technology as reverb, synth, auto-tune, drum machines, sampling and distortion, in order to illustrate how these elements have shaped the music that’s become the soundtrack to our lives.
“Sound matters, and when I first started out I wondered, ‘How did they do that?’” Ronson says in the series’ trailer. “I’ve always been obsessed with how things sound. It’s the difference between a great song and an iconic recording.”