Things to watch: Your guide to the best times of the week on Sky and free TV
The Janes were an “outrageous company of many smart women” who helped provide approximately 11,000 safe, affordable and illegal abortions over five years, mostly under the radar of the Chicago Police Department and the mob of the town.
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The Janes (9:30 p.m., Sunday, July 24, Prime)
Free debut for this timely new documentary about “the outrageous enterprise of many smart women” that helped provide an estimate of 11,000 safe, affordable and illegal abortions between 1968 and 1973 (when the US Supreme Court’s decision- United on Roe v Wade declared anti-abortion laws “unconstitutional”), mostly under the radar of the Chicago Police Department and the city’s mob.
Through archival and contemporary interviews with key members of “The Janes” (the name given to potential clients in need of the group’s services – “because it was simple, nice and no one was called as it”), we hear the harrowing tales of what desperate young women in Illinois would do before they were settled – and the sometimes tragic results.
Although lifted by lighter reminiscences and the frame of erudite and charming radicals on display, the overall tone is rather restrained, all the more so in light of recent events.
The Janes is available to stream now on Neon and will debut free-to-air on Prime on July 24.
* Sherwood: TVNZ+ launches the best British crime drama from Broadchurch
* Is Toi Time on TVNZ really New Zealand’s answer to The Wiggles?
* Life After Life: Thomasin McKenzie lights up TVNZ’s dark and haunting BBC drama
* My Cat From Hell: ThreeNow’s Incredibly Addictive Supernanny for Angry Moggies
* Former contestants to right Reno’s wrongs on The Block NZ: Redemption
* TVNZ’s Life After Life, Apple’s Black Bird, Netflix’s Uncoupled among July must-sees
The Rising (8:30 p.m., Wednesdays from July 20, SoHo)
Danish actress Clara Rugaard stars in this eight-part crime thriller about a young woman who discovers she’s been murdered. Although initially scared and confused, she quickly becomes enraged, determined to find her killer and bring justice.
Based on the Belgian series Hotel Beau Sejour from 2016.
Top Gear (8:30 p.m., Thursdays starting July 21, Duke)
The original car show is back for its 32nd season, with petrol head hosts Chris Harris, Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness ready to once again push their cars – and themselves – to the limit.
Kicking off the season with a trip to Florida to race buggies through alligator-infested swamps, test drive classic police cars from old-school TV shows, and do Donk races in American muscle cars, this will be another high-octane race, which will also feature the bobsled trio in a Sinclair C5.
Demolition Man (9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 23, Duke)
The closer we get to its 2032 setting, the more hilarious and prescient this 1993 action-comedy becomes.
A seemingly unlikely couple of Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone shine in this tale about a cryogenically frozen 90s cop who is unfrozen when his nemesis (Wesley Snipes) sets out to wreak havoc in a more peace-loving future. It’s a supposed utopia, where people are fined for swearing, had no physical contact, and Taco Bell is the only fast food franchise still standing.
The Masked Singer (7 p.m., Sundays from July 24, Three)
Anika Moa replaces Rhys Darby on the guessing panel for the second season of this celebrity singing contest. She joins returnees James Roque and Sharyn Casey, along with guests like Tami Neilson, Jono Pryor, Paul Ego, Tofiga Fepulea’i and Kings, in trying to determine the identities of those performing in disguise.
The ubiquitous Clint Randell is back on hosting duties.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (8:40 p.m., Sunday July 24, Whakaata Māori)
2019 18th-century French romantic drama about the relationship that develops between a female painter and the young woman whose wedding portrait she was forced to create.
“As the harrowing, all-hovering final sequence plays out over Vivaldi’s strains, it’s been a remarkable sensory journey,” wrote Tara Brady of the Irish Times.
Baby Done (9 p.m., Sunday July 24, TVNZ 2)
While it’s a terrific starring vehicle for our Edinburgh Festival-winning comedian Rose Matafeo, this 2020 Kiwi comedy about an aspiring adventurer who unexpectedly becomes pregnant by her longtime boyfriend doesn’t isn’t quite the wall-to-wall laughter party many viewers might expect. It’s actually a lot more memorable than some shallow, throwaway rom-coms. Think more knocked up or Juno, than nine months or what to expect when you’re pregnant.
That’s largely thanks to the husband-and-wife team of director Curtis Vowell and screenwriter Sophie Henderson (who made Fantail pretty brilliant in 2013) who manage to navigate a delicate balance of pathos, emotion, and drama. Mostly physical humor with aplomb, their well-paced narrative construct a crowd-pleasing conclusion that, while predictable, at least puts a nice spin on traditional genre tropes.