Critics’ picks: Aboriginal series ‘Cleverman’ transcends reality

“Cleverman” airs on SundanceTV.
“Cleverman” airs on SundanceTV. SundanceTV

1 Cleverman: Australian Aboriginal culture doesn’t show up on American TV often and it’s even rarer to see any Aboriginal fantasy/speculative fiction. That’s just one of the reasons why this flawed but compelling six-episode series, airing on SundanceTV, is such a landmark. Set in a slightly alternative Australia where creatures from the surreal Aboriginal concept of Dreamtime emerge from the shadows to live among the rest of us in the real world, Cleverman has parallels to the old American TV series Alien Nation and the South African film District 9. 9 p.m. Wednesdays and online at

Cary Darling

2 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three on Blu-ray: Over 40 years after its initial release, director Joseph Sargent’s gritty thriller has lost none of its edge. While modern New York City is far shinier than what’s depicted here, the adrenaline rush of watching acting greats like Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw undertake a hostage negotiation is timeless. Newly restored on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber, the disc, in stores Tuesday, features retrospective interviews with the cast.

Preston Jones

3 Full Frontal With Samantha Bee: Ignoring the handwringing about the inherent white maleness of late-night TV, Samantha Bee has emerged as one of the funniest, most trenchant commentators in any medium this year, offering unvarnished opinions on everything from Brexit to the sovereignty of American Indian courts. Long may she reign. Full Frontal airs at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on TBS.

Preston Jones