February means rating season, so the big three networks are pulling out their big guns – read: proven reality-TV juggernauts – so let’s get those out of the way first.
My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals (Seven, February 2)
The 11th season of the catty cook-off series serves up a few twists: Fan favourite contestants from previous seasons return, and judges Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge will act as mentors for opposing teams. Pete Evans will be doing the judging.
Married at First Sight (Nine, February 3)
The matchmaking, headline-hogging and undeniable ratings phenomenon is back, showing no signs of suffering a seven-season itch. Love it or hate it, everyone will be talking about it. A potential point of interest? A mother-of-the bride with open disdain for the series as shown in a sneak peek.
“I can’t stand your show,” she tells a producer before the wedding, calling the format “manipulating” and “ridiculous.” Go on…
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Australian Survivor: All-Stars (Ten, February 3)
The US original has endured as a fan favourite for two decades, and the local version holds up for long-time fans and newbies alike. This season there are 24 returning players from Network Ten’s four seasons, including two winners, Shane Gould and Jericho Malabonga.
Meanwhile, elsewhere …
Locke & Key (Netflix, February 7)
Based on the hugely popular graphic novels by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, the visually stunning horror-fantasy series follows three kids who, with their mum, move into the ancestral home of their murdered dad. The twist? The beautifully strange haunted mansion is filled with reality-bending keys that unlock trippy powers and abilities.
Hunters (Amazon Prime, February 21)
The sometimes hyper-violent and darkly comic thriller stars Al Pacino as the leader of a rag-tag group of vigilantes tracking down and taking out Nazis hiding in 1977 New York City.
“It becomes this story that lives not in black and white, but in the grey and that murky morality,” series creator David Weil told Entertainment Weekly.
“If we hunt these monsters, do we risk becoming them ourselves?”
Jordan Peele executive produced the 10-episode series that is inspired by real events.
Better Call Saul (Stan, February 24)
The fifth and penultimate season of the critically acclaimed prequel series sees damaged lawyer Jimmy McGill morph more fully into the slick operator Saul Goodman. “We are now really encroaching on the events of Breaking Bad,” says Bob Odenkirk. “To me, it’s what we promised.”
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Apple TV+, February 7)
Critically acclaimed fan-favourite sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has run for 14 seasons in the US tracking but down in Australia has always been a bit of a hen’s-teeth dilemma. The team behind the series – Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz – has turned its focus to the world of video game developers with a nine-part series about the making of the biggest multiplayer video game of all-time.
The Trial Of Christine Keeler (BBC First Foxtel, February 16)
The 1960s-set six-part BBC drama tells the scandalous story of the affair between government war minister John Profumo (played by Ben Miles) and Christine Keeler (played by Sophie Cookson), a 19-year-old accused of “sexpionage” after also being accused of sleeping with a Russian spy in the middle of the Cold War. The UK’s Mail dubbed it a “soft-porn version of The Crown”.
Celebrity Mastermind (SBS, February 15)
Jennifer Byrne will quiz 16 Aussie celebrities for two tense minutes on their chosen specialty subject. Among the contenders: Courtney Act (special topic: TV series The Nanny); Jessica Rowe (domestic cat breeds); Adam Spencer (great mathematicians of the 20th century) and comedian Nazeem Hussain (mangoes).
Surviving R. Kelly Pt. II: The Reckoning (Crime, Foxtel, February 2)
The first part of the documentary, which aired in January 2019, detailed decades of abuse allegations against the R&B musician. Within months, Kelly was indicted on sexual abuse charges that were followed by federal charges for kidnapping, forced labour and sending child sexual abuse images across state lines. This follow-up series focuses on the repercussions for Kelly, the backlash since felt by his victims, and the culture of complicity that allowed things to go unchecked for so long.