Six Hidden Gems to Stream on Paramount+

Andrew Buckle,

Some of the tentpole releases on Paramount+ since the service launched in Australia in 2021 include the adaptation of the hit video game series, Halo, the 6-time Emmy nominated Yellowjackets, the return of a cult favourite Dexter: New Blood, period drama The Gilded Age, the newest instalment in the Star Trek universe, New Worlds as well as the first in an ambitious new anthology series, Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber.

But, from the huge catalogue on Paramount+, which includes movies and television shows from under the umbrellas of the Paramount+ Exclusive, Showtime, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon brands and more, we have picked out a selection of gems – both new and old – that may have slipped under the radar, but that we wholeheartedly recommend.

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Players (2022)

This jaw-dropping mockumentary series about the world of professional gaming comes from Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault, the creators of Netflix hit American Vandal. Serving as a parody of sports documentary series such as The Last Dance, Players follows Fugitive Gaming, a fictional pro ‘League of Legends’ Esports team, as it aspires to win it’s first Championship in the era of their veteran player, Creamcheese (Misha Brooks).

For this upcoming season team ownership has invested in a 17-year-old streaming prodigy, Organizm (Da’Jour Jones), who they are priming to usurp Creamcheese to become the new face of the team. In order to make it to the top both players must set aside their egos and work together, but the team struggles to re-tool and unite to maximise their conflicting personalities and play styles.

This is an addictive weekend binge, whether you are familiar with the rules of ‘League of Legends’ and the unique professional setting or not. This series does tread the line, targeting a booming industry for it’s satirical jabs, to often hilarious degree, but still remaining respectful and sincere to the physical and emotional challenges that come with the profession. The simulation of the competitions, the fly-on-the-wall coverage of the character interactions in the group living environments, and the to-camera interviews are all perfectly tuned to potentially fool a viewer into thinking that this is, in fact, the real deal.

The performances are also very strong with Misha Brooks’ Creamcheese a brilliant creation – a grating and often-despicable anti-hero whose spiral out of control is riveting to watch.

Evil (2019)

Clinical psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) reluctantly starts to work with David Acosta (Mike Colter), a priest in training, and Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), a technical contractor, to investigate and find a logical explanation for supernatural occurrences within the Church.

I’d go so far to say that Evil might be the best show you have not heard enough about. This inventive supernatural thriller/procedural series has season-spanning story arcs, exploring the personal and professional crises of the likeable team, that it deftly sutures to an array of unique and often chilling episode-specific cases.

This is a genuinely scary and unsettling show at times, posing some challenging questions about the link between human nature and the origins of evil, a tussle of perspectives steeped in both science and religion. It also possesses a brand of dark humour – watch out for Michael Emerson (Lost), who has a ball as one of the ‘human’ antagonists – that easily satisfies it’s off-kilter aspirations.

OZ (1997 – 2003)

While Oz is a relentlessly uncompromising, explicit and grueling watch, it was one of the pioneers for HBO in the late 90s – their first one hour dramatic series, in fact – as the studio took up the reign as the home of prestige TV. It has since become tied up in some complex rights issues and has long been unavailable to purchase digitally in Australia. It now has a home with all six seasons available to stream on Paramount+.

In the show, inmates and corrections officers inside the Oswald State Correctional Facility, nicknamed “Oz,” battle for power and survival amid the warring factions. Inmates at Oz are considered lucky if they get into the prison’s experimental ‘Emerald City’ unit – which emphasises rehabilitation and responsibility during incarceration – but they’re even luckier if they manage to get out alive.

Oz is headlined by one of the strongest (and deepest) casts in television history. Many familiar faces show up throughout and Oz was not afraid to kill off a major character. Ernie Hudson, J.K Simmons, Lee Tergesen, Dean Winters, Harrold Perrineau, Terry Kinney, Rita Moreno and Christopher Meloni are amongst the core cast.

Oz is a classic, and if you missed this series back in the day and have the temperament for a barely-censored prison drama – this series could be damaging to young eyes, beware – and want to see a show that defined a specific era of television then this is well worth giving a try.

1883 (2022)

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill star as James and Margaret Dutton, ancestors of John Dutton (portrayed by Kevin Costner in the hit series Yellowstone, now available to stream on Stan), along with the mustachioed veteran Sam Elliot (A Star is Born), in this sweeping epic of an origin story.

Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone and Hell or High Water), who has been a very busy man of late, has crafted another rugged portrait of the American West, exploring the plights of people pushed to the limit of what they are willing to do to survive and protect their family. The story follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey through the Great Plains in search of a better future, as 1883 becomes the latest entry into the booming TV Western genre.

The Offer (2022)

How about an offer you can’t refuse? Fans of behind-the-scenes movie-making and The Godfather films will adore this biographical drama miniseries that details the development and production of Francis Ford Coppola’s landmark gangster film.

Miles Teller (Top Gun: Maverick) stars as Hollywood producer Al Ruddy, who after convincing the head of Paramount, Robert Evans (Matthew Goode), to take him on is tasked with bringing Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel to the screen. What he didn’t anticipate was having to evade the crosshairs of mafia boss Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi), who opposes the novel and its denigration of Italian-American way of life.

The series makes Ruddy the focal point, and his efforts to will the film into existence amidst all of the various power plays allows for the creators to have fun with a lot of the popular lore about the production; including the aforementioned battle with the mob, casting decisions and a resistance to the visual style of cinematographer Gordon Willis.

The Good Wife (2009 – 2016)

This serialized legal and political drama, an acclaimed and long-running hit on CBS, focuses on the return to the legal profession of Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, ER), following a public sex and political corruption scandal involving her husband, at the time the Cook County State’s Attorney. To provide for her two children Alicia joins a prestigious firm as a litigator, ending a 13-year period away from the workforce and has to navigate the pressures this puts on her personal and professional relationships.

The casting is outstanding top-to-bottom, with many of the actors becoming synonymous with the characters they craft throughout the seven seasons. Margulies is joined by Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Archi Panjabi in the core cast with Chris Noth, a network veteran with long-running roles on Law & Order and Sex & the City, and decorated stage performer Alan Cumming amongst the many recognizable performers that appear in recurring roles or guest star in one of the individual episode arcs. This well-respected series has spawned a popular spin-off, The Good Fight, also starring Christine Baranski.

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