It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through 2020, and yet at the same time, it does feel like it's taken a while to get here (It's not just us, is it?). With the global Coronavirus pandemic requiring Australians to spend three months social distancing and staying inside, we have all been getting our stream on and watching a lot of TV to help pass the time.
At the Guide we've run the numbers to find out the top shows our SBS On Demand audiences haven't been able to get enough of in 2020. We've provided a rundown below, of the most popular titles you should add to your watch list. Apologies if you are looking for some comedy; it has been all about detectives, spies, crime and popes so far.
The New Pope
If Italian decadence is what you are after, then The New Pope is for you. The follow-up season to Cannes Jury Prize- winning director Paolo Sorrentino's The Young Pope, as the title would suggest we have a new pope, who is played by none other than John Malkovich.
In the second season (spoilers for season 1) Pius XIII (Jude Law) is still in a coma, leaving the Cardinals and Vatican staff to search for a worthy successor (who is also malleable, of course). Eventually succeeding him after a few mishaps is the charming and moderate English aristocrat Sir John Brannox (Malkovich) with the name John Paul III. Quickly, the new pope realises it won't be easy to replace Pius XIII who has become a Saint with thousands of faithful followers now idolising him. Like season 1 this season has fantastic acting, intrigue and surprisingly an awesome soundtrack (be right back, making a playlist).
The New Pope is available to stream now at SBS On Demand.
Need to start from the beginning? Watch The Young Pope at SBS On Demand.
The Little Drummer Girl
Florence Pugh is so hot right now and The Little Drummer Girl was one of her first big leading roles. Based on the best-selling spy thriller novel by John Le Carré this 8 part mini series is a passionate love story and a deeply immersive thriller. It portrays a world in which the lines between hero and villain, and between love and hate, are dangerously blurred.
Set in the late 1970s, it follows Charlie (Pugh), a young, fiery but unfulfilled British actress and idealist whose resolve is tested after she meets the mysterious Becker (Alexander Skarsgård) while on holiday in Greece. It quickly becomes apparent that his intentions are not what they seem, and her encounter with him entangles her in a complex plot devised by the spy mastermind Kurtz (Michael Shannon). Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) this thriller is as suspenseful as it is stunning; the direction and cinematography are exquisite.
Audiences can't get enough of Carrie and Saul with the eighth season of Homeland. This final season of the hit US spy thriller series finds Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) recovering from months of brutal confinement in a Russian gulag. Her body is healing, but her memory remains fractured – and that is a problem for Saul (Mandy Patinkin), now National Security Advisor to the newly ascendant President Warner, who wants to take her to Afghanistan, feeling her knowledge and experience there are essential. The stakes as always are high as the successful series sadly comes to an end.
Homeland season 8 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
We are starting to see a trend here – our audience is loving international spy thrillers based on best-selling novels, including Agent Hamilton. Based on the best-selling Hamilton novels by Jan Guillou the series stars the charismatic Jakob Oftebro in the lead role of Carl Hamilton. On his return to Sweden, after training with the Navy SEALs in the United States, Hamilton is on a secret mission from his CIA employer Farrin Haig (Rowena King). He has been given the assignment to hunt down a group of terrorists responsible for a series of bombings and cyber-attacks that shook Sweden to its core. But to make things more complicated, on Haig's orders he also accepts a job at OP-5, a top-secret unit within the Swedish military, making him a double agent in the process.
Agent Hamilton is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Set in rural Ireland Blood is a psychological thriller set around the Hogan family. In season 1 Cat Hogan returns to her home following her mother’s seemingly accidental death from a fall at the bottom of the garden by the pond. Over the course of the series, Cat begins to suspect her father, Jim's (Adrian Dubar) involvement in the death. Was it an accident? Or was it murder?
In season 2 the perspective is switched to Jim's daughter and Cat's sister Fiona Crowley (Grainne Keenan). The series opens with catastrophe when Fiona’s car veers off the road and into a canal. As the family gather round to support an ailing Fiona, they are shocked to learn that the body of Fiona’s husband Paul has been found in the boot of the car. But how did he get there, and who was responsible? Who killed Paul Crowley (Ian Lloyd Anderson), and what circumstances led to the night of Fiona’s fateful crash?
Blood is about old secrets, older betrayals, mind games and the lies families tell each other. If you've spent three months cooped up together with your family, perhaps you can relate.
Blood seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming at SBS On Demand. Start at the beginning.
Jump to season 2.
Staying in Ireland this TV series brilliantly blends the first two books in Tana French’s bestselling 'Dublin Murder' series to deliver an 8-parter full of psychological mystery and darkness. Dublin Murders focuses on two murder investigations led by ambitious and charismatic detectives Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene).
The victims – a young talented ballerina and a vivacious free-spirited woman – are seemingly unrelated. Adding to the creepiness, the woods where the child was found is the same place where three children went missing over 20 years earlier and only one was found alive – that boy was Rob Reilly. You'll watch this heart-thumping psychological thriller in record time.
Dublin Murders is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Reprisal follows a woman's unrelenting journey of vengeance against a gang that tried to kill her. After her brother and his crew left her for dead, Doris (Abigail Spencer) has re-emerged many years later and many miles away into a new, seemingly quaint life in Detroit.
Armed with the expected inheritance from the impending death of her husband, Doris embarks on a vengeful mission to destroy the same gang that tried to kill her. When her plans are thrown off course by a mobster who threatens to take the inheritance intended to fund her rescue mission, Doris ruthlessly takes matters into her own hands. Doris sets out with a plan to infiltrate her brother's crew and take it down from the inside. Full of strong performances, rockabilly style and pulpy goodness Reprisal is a thrilling binge watch.
Reprisal is now airing on SBS at 9:30pm Wednesdays with episodes streaming at SBS On Demand the same day as broadcast.
ZeroZeroZero is an action crime drama spanning three continents and six different countries inspired by best-selling author Roberto Saviano’s (Gomorrah) book of the same title. The series follows the journey of a cocaine shipment, from the moment a powerful cartel of Italian criminals decides to buy it until the cargo is delivered and paid for, passing through its packaging in Mexico and shipment across the Atlantic Ocean.
Through its characters' stories, the series explains the mechanisms by which the illegal becomes part of the legal economy and how both are linked to a ruthless logic of power and control affecting people's lives and relationships. With an all-star cast featuring Gabriel Byrne, Andrea Riseborough and Dan DeHaan plus soundtrack by Mogwai you'll be quickly hooked.
ZeroZeroZero is now airing on SBS at 9:30pm Thursdays with episodes streaming at SBS On Demand the same day as broadcast.
Winner of 20 Canadian Screen Awards over its four seasons, Cardinal has become one of the top watched and most loved series at SBS On Demand. If you love Nordic noir then this Canadian crime thriller series is for you. Adapted from the crime novels by Giles Blunt, the series follows Algonquin Bay city detectives John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and his partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse).
In season 1 John Cardinal is on a chilling hunt for a brutal killer, in season 2 Cardinal and Delorme's investigation exposes the seedy underbelly of picturesque Algonquin Bay, in season 3 it's autumn but the glorious colours can’t hide the town’s most gruesome double murder as they investigate a doomsday cult with nothing to lose. And in the fourth and final season there are murders to be solved and they are challenged in fresh, frigid and frightening ways in the icy winter.
Cardinal seasons 1-4 are now streaming at SBS On Demand. Start at the beginning.
Jump to season 4.
Based on the best-selling novels by Michael Connelly (there is definitely a theme in this list) Bosch focuses on Hollywood Homicide Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch (Titus Welliver). Bosch operates by the motto, “Everybody counts or nobody counts,” he expects justice for everyone and he may rattle a few feathers to make sure it is served.
In season 6 after a medical physicist is executed and the deadly radioactive material he had with him goes missing, Bosch finds himself at the centre of a complex murder case, a messy federal investigation and catastrophic threat to Los Angeles - the city he’s pledged to serve and protect.
Bosch season 6 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.