Part 4 of the 2018 Entertainment Top 25 as chosen by the entertainment obsessives at Red Bee.
10. England Netball Commonwealth Games
There are moments in time that catapult some sports from the nation’s peripheral vision into front and centre. Think of Rhona Martin’s curling team at the 2002 Winter Olympics, or Bradley Wiggins' first Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France. On 14th April 2018, when Helen Housby gathered herself in the final second of the Gold Medal Commonwealth Games match, to shoot for glory, a country held its breath. The euphoria that greeted the 52-51 victory over hosts and favourites Australia was tangible. England Netball has ridden the crest of that wave signing kit deals with Nike, broadcasting deals with Sky and the BBC, and is driving mass participation in the sport. All this before the World Cup comes to Liverpool in 2019. Go Roses!
9. Red Dead Redemption 2
How on earth could they follow up on Grand Theft Auto 5? After years of speculation and release delays, Rockstar Games has delivered a Wild West sandbox game described by The Guardian as ‘a near miracle’ and ‘reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s border trilogy’. With a map four times larger than that in the original Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar have demonstrated they don’t just excel at making vast open worlds, they also make them beautiful. The level of detail is astonishing. Shimmering skies and sparkling water look as real as anything we’ve seen, in a wholly reactive natural environment. Even your horse’s testicles contract when riding in the snow. And the painstaking precision comes through in the gameplay too: skinning an animal takes time and craft; when hunting, some guns require you to cock the weapon with one button before firing with another; riding your horse across the map can take ages. But it’s all part of a drive to move away from the dip-in-and-out quick-fire adrenaline of Fortnite and other battle royale shoot-em-ups, and lull gamers into a slower-paced, longer-term, immersive experience. It’s like mindfulness for cowboys. And with the online mode now open, the 60 hours of campaign playing time will serve as merely a teaser. Go west. Life is peaceful there.
8. A Quiet Place
John Kransinski co-writes, directs and stars in a meticulously crafted, twisting, sci-fi horror movie. Set in post-apocalyptic America, the film follows one family trying to survive as aliens roam the land, killing humans they detect through their advanced hearing. The family have learnt to live in silence: walking barefoot on paths they build in sand, signing conversations over the dinner table and making games with felt. But as the story develops there are new threats to shatter the silence, that come from within the family itself. Co-starring Krasinski's wife, Emily Blunt.
7. Taskmaster SERIES 7
A show that showcases Dave’s ability to really grow a show, and then swiftly commit to multiple series when they uncover a hit. (7 series in 3 years). The chemistry between taskmaster Greg Davies and task deviser “little” Alex Horne has blossomed into a fine double act relationship, and the casting of the five comedians remains pitch perfect. Interestingly, when pitching the show, Alex Horne got massive push back from broadcasters on the wisdom of having a returning cast every week, but again Dave trusted the concept, and now shows like Richard Osman’s House of Games have swiftly borrowed that format point. Series 7 is the best yet, with James Acaster possibly the perfect contestant and the social media shared out-takes are funnier than most shows in-takes.
6. Fauda SEASON 2
Touted as the next Homeland, this white-knuckle thriller follows a ruthless Israeli unit hunting down terrorists in the West Bank. Some critics have praised the show for its evenhanded portrayal of the Palestinian conflict but there's an undeniable pro-Israeli bias. Despite this, the brutal testosterone-fueled story and the mesmeric presence of lead character Doron Kavillio make it compulsive viewing. Roll on season 3.
No. 5 to 1 coming soon…