To stave off possible boredom while at home, every week Marhaba delves in to the wonderful world of popular culture to find the best new TV series, movies, books and music.


what to watch, read and listen to

A German sci-fi show about a missing child, double lives and families searching for answers proved to be a surprise, huge success when the first series aired on Netflix. Dark turns time travel completely on its head, being more a series of puzzles that need solving rather than the formulaic backward and forwards in time. The show is often compared to Stranger Things, since both are set in the 1980s and feature teenagers in a small town dealing with any number of weird events that keep occurring. That’s where the similarities end, however, as Dark is altogether much more complex – some fans resort to charts in order to keep up, while others even check each frame for hidden clues and hints. How best to sum up Dark? In Series 1 we see a wormhole beneath the small town being discovered, connecting different periods of history, each set 33 years apart – 2019, 1986 and 1953. Series 2 adds more timelines and also jumped around within these timelines. The third and final season will air on 27 June (fans will know why it is this date), and who knows how all the loose ends will be tied up! You may need to keep your wits about you, as Dark is full of time travel paradoxes, but it is time well spent watching one of TVs most thrilling sci-fi series for a long time.


what to watch, read and listen to

You’ll forgive us for sticking with Netflix this week, but if you need something a little lighter to watch after binging on Dark, why not try Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga? The movie is all about the wonder that is the world’s largest annual song competition, which never fails to disappoint with its random and bizarre selection of songs from the majority of the European countries (and quite often Australia, for some reason). Aspiring Icelandic musicians Lars Erickssong (Will Farrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) are selected to sing for their country, with the catchy Volcano Man, although most of Iceland couldn’t care less. Other cast members include Lars’ father Erick Erickssong, the most handsome man in Iceland (Pierce Brosnan), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as Alexander Lemtov, Demi Lovato as Katiana, Graham Norton as himself (commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest), and cameos from many of the previous participants. Farrell and McAdams actually attended the competition as research for the film, so we know we’re in for a real treat, and is an excellent replacement for the event that was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus. Available to watch on 26 June.


what to watch, read and listen to

The children’s classic, Not Now, Bernard by David McKee, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. This must-read picture book is being re-released as a special anniversary paperback. There is a simple storyline with a big message, perhaps even more relevant in today’s age of being firmly attached to our phones. In the book, Bernard has a problem: there is a monster in the back garden but Mum and Dad are far too busy to pay any attention. Every time he mentions it to them, they answer ‘Not now, Bernard’. So what’s a boy to do, except try and befriend the monster? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t go according to plan, as he gets eaten by the monster and his parents don’t even notice! This is one of the best children’s books ever written, enjoyed by young children and meaningful to parents.


what to watch, read and listen to

If you’re feeling frazzled and frayed at the moment, John Legend’s new album is just the ticket to calm the nerves. Bigger Love is his seventh studio album and the first new material since Darkness and Light in 2016. The 16 track-album was recorded prior to the coronavirus crisis, but Legend told Apple Music that the songs are about joy, hope, and resilience, and the power of the human spirit. The album is upbeat and funky with touches of ‘70s R&B, soul and pop. There are some instant classics, such as Conversations in the Dark, which has already been remixed by David Guetta and will likely be among this year’s biggest dance hits. The new album cements Legend’s status as one of the most popular and enduring balladeers of the current age – and it makes us feel jolly good about ourselves too.

Author: Sarah Palmer

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