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Apple TV+ – amazing movies and shows – my no.1 go-to service

This year has been a revelation to me in finding out about Apple TV+. It’s worth taking a look…

Apple TV
image courtesy of Apple & author

A pleasant surprise

Apple TV had, until this year, been a bit of a dark hole for me. A warren that I didn’t truly grasp, or comprehend.

I had bought my first Apple TV box years ago, but it had really, just gathered dust, and hardly ever got turned on. To be fair to myself, the early boxes were a little slow and clunky, and there was not a whole heap of choice.

Jump forward to today, and boy, how things have changed.

Only Apple

Apple TV+ was launched in November 2019, and looking back, it was clear what their plans were. Apple has this way of planning years ahead, and then sticking to that vision.

Launching with only a few headline programmes, such as The Morning Show, and For All Mankind, the full weight of what was to come, still wasn’t clear. Only a company with the wealth of Apple, could decide that it was time to open a new movie studio, as in essence, that is what Apple TV+ is.

Where before, it was simply a convenient way to stream TV services like BBC, or Channel 4, now the strength lay in the original content available.

A box full of tricks

I bought my second, and latest Apple TV, last year. It is the 4K box with the much improved, and Siri compatible remote. Compared to that, woeful first set-top box, this one, although similar in appearance, is worlds apart.

It is lightning fast with an A15 Bionic chip inside running the show. It is the 6-core, 5-nanometer chipset, lifted straight from the iPhone 13. Switching between apps is slick, snappy, and glitch free.

The remote is far better in its design, too. Gone, is the Ive influenced, super slim, easily lost, remote. It is replaced by a thicker, chunkier, squared off design version. It is ergonomically easier to use. Skipping, fast-forwarding, switching apps – it is all more user-friendly now.

The picture quality, on this Apple TV 4K box, is what sold it for me, though. Dark, rich, black shadows, vivid colours, and bright, full, highlights. All the main HDR colour formats are covered as well, including Dolby Vision, and HDR10+.

The audio is not left behind either – mine is paired up to a pair of HomePod minis, but you can also choose between Dolby Atmos 5.1 and 7.1, if your home-theatre set-up allows for it. Throw in Apple’s Spatial Audio, and the fact you can have two pairs of AirPods connected at anytime, it just makes consuming your favourite programmes a pure joy.

Content rich

Having all this great audio & visual at hand, though, would prove meaningless, if there were not content to match.

This year, as I mentioned, I have become immersed in what Apple TV+ has to offer. The sheer depth of content, all kinds of content, is mind-blowing. There are new seasons of old favourites cropping up every week, and new movies and documentaries too.

As we head toward the Thanksgiving weekend, with Christmas hot on its heels, it might be, that you are about to buy an Apple TV box, and, with a little more time on your hands, were wondering what to watch.

Below are some suggestions of series, movies, and documentaries that I’ve enjoyed this year. This little lot should keep you out of mischief for a day or two!

Black Bird

Black Bird had me hooked from the very first scene, of the very first episode. It’s based on real events about Mafia man, Jimmy Keene. Handed a ten-year sentence, he is offered a lifeline. He is tasked with breaking down lifer, Larry Hall, who is serving his sentence for numerous child murders. If Jimmy can get inside the dark, troubled and often complex mind of Hall, and find out where the bodies of these young girls are, he will be freed. Greg Kinnear’s acting in the role of Larry Hall is remarkable. Black humour, edge-of-the-seat drama, and often touching insights to the mindset of Hall, make this a must-see. The lead role is taken by Taron Egerton and also features the final appearance of the legend, Ray Liotta.

Five Days at Memorial

An eight-part season, which looks back at the events of New Orleans Memorial Hospital, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The powerful way this series is shot, and produced, makes the squalor, and conditions in those first few days after Katrina, seem all too real. Nurses went over and above their duties, in trying to care for those most vulnerable. We are with them, as floodwaters rise, power fails, and the heat and humidity soar. Heart-breaking choices are made, with the limited resources available, about whom to save, and who will be left to perish. Lessons in life, humility, and love. You can take a look here.

Bad Sisters

I knew one of the foley editors on this series, and so was on the lookout for it. Bad Sisters, aired late summer. This is a true ensemble piece, staring Sharon Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, and Eve Hewson, who are the Garvey sisters. A very close bunch of sisters, who are drawn even closer together when they can see the domestic abuse one of them is living with. Not being able to see the life sucked from Grace, a delicious plan is hatched to kill her husband, brilliantly played by Claes Bang. The Irish humour seeded throughout this series is light, dark, and just plain hilarious. One to sit back and binge on.

Slow Horses

Another slice of home-grown genius. Slow Horses takes us behind the doors of Slough House. Think of this place as a dumping ground for MI5 agents, whose careers have faltered. The illustrious Gary Oldman leads, this quick-witted, dry and often dour look, in to the unglamorous life inside MI5. Oldman is impressed with little, and his hang-drawn expression throughout, is to die for! He’s seen it all before, and is clearly just serving his time-out. The script is lush, and it grips you through every episode. You’ll recognise Kristin Scott Thomas, and Jonathan Pryce among the actors in Slow Horses. The good news is, season two starts 2nd December. Pop it in your reminders.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Staring Zac Efron as Chickie, Russell Crowe as press photographer Arthur Coates and Bill Murray playing bar owner, The Colonel, this movie is set in ’60s America. Effron has this crazy idea of wanting to support his buddies who are on tour in Vietnam. Based on a true story, Chickie decides the way to keep up the moral of his friends best, is to take American beer over to them. What started out as a well-meaning journey, quickly becomes an emotional journey of personal discovery. The situations he finds himself in are simply hilarious, and the relationship he forges with Crowes character, Coates, is touching. Coates is a battle-worn press-man, but sees something in this young kid, that he can’t help but to take under his wing. Most touching, is seeing the real-life characters in a picture at the end of the movie. Full of the feel good stuff. The Greatest Beer Run Ever would make a great watch over any long, lazy weekend.

Sidney

Produced by Oprah Winfrey, this two hour documentary, was approved by the family of the movie legend, Sidney Poitier. In a highly revealing documentary, we learn about his early life, and the struggles he overcame from a very racist America, to garner his place among the finest leading men of his generation. Iconic actor, filmmaker, and civil rights activist, Poitier’s life has certainly never been dull. There are some lovely cameo interviews from Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Halle Berry, Lenny Kravitz, and Barbra Streisand, as we are taken on a warts-and-all journey through the life of this genius. You can find the Poitier documentary here.

Wrapping up

Writing this has been quite the revelation to me, as to how much I have enjoyed Apple TV+ this year.

The above is only a taster – there were plenty of other wonderful programmes I enjoyed this year too, like, We Crashed, CODA, Loot, and the animated movie, Luck. Many of these fine series were aired the old-fashioned way, too, with only one episode per-week coming out…often on a Friday. It all just made it more of an occasion. There is a definite ‘look’ to Apple TV+ productions, with everything beautifully shot, lit, coloured, and produced.

The Apple TV 4K box costs between £149-£169, depending upon the specs you choose, and the monthly subscription, has just gone up to £6.99. This allows you to consume Apple’s content on all your devices.

I recently consolidated my Apple subs together, and have taken out the Apple One bundle. This gives me access to Music, Arcade, News, Fitness, and iCloud+. If you have more than one Apple sub, it really is worth looking in to. Prices start from £16.95 per month.

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