Can't decide what to stream? Here's what to watch this week

The wealth of offerings on TV and streaming options can be daunting. Here's our pick for the best of what to watch this week.


Sneaky Pete
Amazon Prime Video

When Bryan Cranston and House creator David Shore set about making this tense, character-driven crime drama they really knew what they were doing.

They put together a terrific cast – Giovanni Ribisi, Margo Martindale and Cranston himself, to name a few – and they were just as astute in filling crucial off-camera roles.

Getting Justified creator Graham Yost as showrunner was as big a coup as you can get for a series that seeks to balance kinetic crime capers with the slow reveal of the back stories and inner lives of thoughtfully-drawn characters.

Then there was the drafting of music supervisor Thomas Golubić, whose team has brought musical style, swagger and playfulness to such shows as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Halt and Catch Fire and The Walking Dead.

Giovanni Ribisi has a lead role in Amazon's Sneaky Pete.

Giovanni Ribisi has a lead role in Amazon’s Sneaky Pete.

Deliberately swerving past the pop, rock and soul classics ever present on radio and so routinely slapped on to other soundtracks, Golubic and company invest their shows with unique musical textures that create a priceless sense of originality.

And with a roster of writers and directors well acquainted with top TV, Sneaky Pete was an uncommonly assured show right from the get-go.

That get-go sees conman Marius (Ribisi) getting out of prison in New York and going on the run from a gangster named Vince (Cranston), who is holding Marius' brother, Eddie (Michael Drayer), hostage over a debt.

Vince is going to start cutting Eddie's fingers off unless Marius starts coming up with some serious cash, so Marius' only play is to assume the identity of his old cellmate, Pete (Ethan Embry), and try his luck with Pete's long-estranged family.

Imposter stories tend to err on the side of too many contrivances involving the imposter nearly getting caught, but Sneaky Pete quickly shifts much of the focus to Pete's family – who are poignantly not the sort of piggy bank that Marius was hoping for.

Ribisi stars with Marin Ireland in the cleverly made crime caper.

Ribisi stars with Marin Ireland in the cleverly made crime caper.

Grandparents Audrey and Otto (Martindale and Peter Gerety) have a struggling bail-bonds business, and Pete's cousins (Marin Ireland, Shane McRae and Libe Barer) are a broke single mum, a man-child cop and a teenage shoplifter respectively.

All of them emerge as intriguing, multi-faceted characters, though the same can't be said for Cranston's character, who remains a bit one-dimensional.

No sooner has the first season reached its climax than the second is upon us, bringing with it Rory Culkin and Jane Adams. Well worth a look.

Cooking on High is available on Netflix now - but it's your call whether you need to watch it or not.

Cooking on High is available on Netflix now – but it’s your call whether you need to watch it or not.

Cooking on High

The galloping legalisation of cannabis across North America made cannabis cooking shows inevitable. Just as inevitable was the fact that some of them would be as unappetising as this one.

Host Josh Leyva supplies a grating California-millennial energy as chefs who apparently specialise in cooking with cannabis prepare unlikely dishes for ostensible celebrity judges.

The judges don't bring a lot to the table – in the early episodes they're mostly a procession of grimy-looking, no-name comedians and rappers who arrive at the studio high as kites and end up significantly more impaired.

The cannabis comes in the form of an oil that is incorporated into butter, pesto or whatever, and so is almost incidental as an ingredient. The dishes, which include hand-made gnocchi, a vegetable souffle, and a quinoa and black bean puree, aren't practical stoner snacks, and anyone taking cannabis for medicinal purposes would find capsules more convenient.

The one good thing about it is comedian Ngaio Bealum, who is the show's resident weed authority and a knowledgeable, laid-back sort who really ought to get his own series.

A scene from the 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead.

A scene from the 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead.

Rifftrax Live: Night of the Living Dead
Amazon Prime Video

They kept up the movie-commentary business with their Rifftrax movie specials – dozens of which are now on Prime. Newcomers should probably start with a studio instalment, but fans will dig this live special taking the mickey out of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.

W. Kamau Bell in his stand-up show, Private School Negro.

W. Kamau Bell in his stand-up show, Private School Negro.

W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro

Comedian W. Kamau Bell has spent years examining racial and political issues on stage and screen and in his work with activist organisations.

So you'd think this new stand-up special, built around his parenting of his young, mixed-race daughters in the time of Donald Trump, would be a timely, potent distillation of his thoughts on such things.

Sadly, the moments of focus and purpose are fleeting, and Bell squanders too much of his time on dated talking points and extraneous anecdotes.

The cast of Ex on the Beach, now on Stan.

The cast of Ex on the Beach, now on Stan.

Ex on the Beach

MTV has repeatedly struck gold by cramming loud, libidinous, appearance-obsessed young Brits into shared accommodation, letting them load up on booze and then watching the sparks and the fluids fly.

Here, though, sardonic Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison and her housemates in a Spanish seaside villa are shocked to learn that their exes will be moving in too.

Will old flames be rekindled? Who will lose their mind when their ex cops off with someone new? The pyrotechnic possibilities ostensibly entice.

Tom Hardy stars in gritty period drama Taboo.

Tom Hardy stars in gritty period drama Taboo.

SBS On Demand

Tom Hardy's dark period piece is no typical collection of stuffed shirts and crystal decanters.

Here, the London of 1814 is a place of rough waterside taverns where brothel madams describe the colourful violence their thugs do while dogs gorge on the flesh of the suicides that jump from Blackfriars Bridge.

As Hardy's enigmatic and distinctly dangerous James Keziah Delaney returns from overseas it seems as though supernatural forces might be at work alongside those of geopolitics and base human appetites. Good fun.

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