“Daaadaaa, Dadada, Daaa, Dadada – dadada, dadada, dadada, dadada-da.” It saddens me to say this, but in the years to come when I look back at my 40s, some of my happiest moments will be associated with that theme music – so yeah, not my family, my job or even my heroics on the football pitch.
Just like everyone remembers the birth of their children, I vividly recall how in an age before streaming I randomly came across the opening credits of the first episode and was instantly bewitched by the wondrous imagery and haunting music. Kingslayer took a bit of getting used to, though, and it wasn’t until I stumbled across Ned Stark’s fate that I realised that Game of Thrones (S8 on HBO Nordic from April 15) was truly the TV of the gods. I think I pretty much watched the first season back-to-front.
I won’t pretend that some of my most distraught moments have preceded the often sombre closing credits – I love all that unexpected butchery, although I did feel a bit sorry for Kingslayer when he had his hand chopped off. Or at least relieved it wasn’t mine.
Would you Barry and Eve it
Thrones’ legacy will be its masterful character motivation (impressively achieved with almost no flashbacks). While shows like The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Breaking Bad have introduced us to protagonists we grew to know better than our own family members, Thrones has accomplished this with around 50 characters over its seven seasons so far. It makes the final cut feel all the more deeper.
After all, strong characterisation can enable series like Killing Eve (S2, HBO Nordic from April 8) to excel with relatively silly premises. It’s a lesson to screenwriters that characters must always come before story. The comedy Barry (S2, HBO Nordic from April 1), which has a pretty forgettable storyline, is another example – and their second seasons have scored 86 and 87 on Metacritic respectively.
When April drools
Also returning this April on HBO Nordic are Bosch (S5, from April 20), The Chi (S2, from April 8) and Veep (S7, from April 1) … the final outing for America’s favourite vice-president since … now, that is a tough one.
Selling the miniseries Fosse/Verdon (75 on Metacritic; HBO Nordic from April 10), starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as the acclaimed choreographer and his muse, to anyone who doesn’t like cabaret is a tough order.
But the same can’t be said if you have an Austen aversion in the case of Gentleman Jack (HBO Nordic from April 23), a new series based on a true story set in the 1830s English countryside. The heroine and title character is everything Elizabeth Bennet isn’t: she fights men, seduces women and pops her feet up … on pretty much anything and anyone she fancies.
British actress Suranne Jones (Dr Foster) is perfectly cast, and in one episode her character visits Denmark, where the queen is played by none other than Sofie Gråbøl of Forbrydelsen fame.
Mostly April stools
While Jones will have eight hours to infuse Gentleman Jack with life, Julianne Moore has less than two in Gloria Bell (80 on Metacritic; released on April 11), one of several recommended releases this month, but you question whether the tale of a divorced woman finding love on her own terms is worth the admission price, when there are half-a-dozen similar TV series, such as the highly-lauded Better Things, a click away at home.
The age-old argument is watch something worthy of the big screen, such as a superhero film like (please be the end!) Avengers: Endgame (Not Released Worldwide; April 24); Hellboy (NRW; April 11), a darker reboot starring David Harbour and Ian McShane; and Shazam! (72; April 4) in which the alias behind the cloak is a child, so Big meets Superman basically.
Children in disguise is normally spooky, and Pet Sematary (58; April 4) has plenty of shock value, but can it compete with a tale of racism in the US? Native Son (63; HBO Nordic from April 6), the story of a young black chauffeur accused of killing his white boss’s daughter, makes a strong case.
In contrast, Stan and Ollie (75; April 25) starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly as the legendary duo Laurel and Hardy is an undemanding affair in what is a long overdue release given it’s already out on DVD.
The sunset kid
Game of Thrones isn’t our only farewell as Robert Redford has confirmed that his turn as a bankrobber in The Old Man and The Gun (80; April 4) will be his last role. In case you’re wondering, it was released in the US last year, so there will be no sickly Oscar finale, but the film has been warmly received.
We doubt that any of the leads in Netflix romcoms The Perfect Date (NRW; from April 12) and Someone Great (NRW; from April 19) will one day be missed as much as Thrones and Redford.
For Netflix in general, April looks underwhelming, although a few series have serious potential, including Swedish thriller series Quicksand (from April 4); US dominatrix drama Bonding (April 24); Special (April 12), a US comedy about a gay man with cerebral palsy; and Huge in France, a comedy about Gad Elmaleh, the ‘French Seinfeld’, trying to reconnect with his son in the States, complete with a cameo from Seinfeld himself.
Ah yes, the dreaded cameos, the only bum note in eight years of Game of Thrones, thanks to ill-advised appearances by Ed Sheeran, and members of Coldplay, Mastodon, Sigur Ros and Snow Patrol.
Where’s Kingslayer when you need him?