On 22 June, Paramount Global’s streamer Paramount Plus will cross the pond to launch in the UK.
It means yet another service will be vying for a share of our steadily depleting entertainment budgets. So how does it compare to the competition?
Well, as the fifth oldest film studio in the world, there will be plenty of classics to sink your teeth into like Mean Girls and Grease, as well as recent blockbusters (and Tom Cruise running showcases) like Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible 7.
Paramount also announced that, from 2024, all of its feature films will move to the service upon leaving cinemas.
But what about TV? Well, for one, Trekkies will rejoice. The platform is home to the entire Star Trek franchise, and among the multiple new series landing in the UK on launch day is its eleventh, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Not to mention the several other giant franchises on Paramount’s books, including the delinquent trio of South Park, Jackass, and Beavis and Butt-Head. And Jackass actually has a new series on the way following the success of the 2022 spin-off movie, Jackass Forever.
So, before you fret at the thought of another spanner in the works of your personal content curation, we thought we’d offer a helping hand by taking a look at the biggest and best series, new and old, that Paramount Plus has to offer from launch day.
Mayor of Kingstown
Before you ask, in no way is this related to Mare of Easttown. Although the premise and tone echoes it almost as much as the title: Jeremy Renner stars in a dour crime drama as the eponymous, brooding power broker attempting to serve justice to his rust-belt community.
Mike McLusky holds no official title, but as Kingstown, Michigan is home to “seven prisons in a 10-mile radius,” him and his family have taken on the tough job of keeping the peace among all the gangs, guards, cops and convicts.
The only thing is, the system they serve is unequal and corrupt to its core.
The stranger-than-fiction true story of how The Godfather (1972), one of cinema’s all-time classics, almost didn’t get made.
Miles Teller stars as the doggedly determined producer Albert S. Ruddy, whose memories of the disastrous development and production form the basis of the series. Disastrous because there were seemingly endless obstacles, be it the casting of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino - considered, respectively, a has-been and a nobody - sorting locations, dealing with the higher ups (ironically including Paramount boss Bob Evans, played by Matthew Goode), and even the actual mafia asking for a cut.
Movie producers, it seems to argue, are in the business of miracles.
Yellowstone series three & Y: 1883
Oscar-nominated writer Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) returned to familiar neo-Western territory with Yellowstone and ended up producing the most-watched cable series in the US in 2020.
Kevin Costner leads the ensemble cast as John Dutton, the patriarch of a powerful family of ranchers. His “Yellowstone Dutton Ranch” is the largest in the United States, but he is constantly defending it from those it borders: an expanding town, an Indian reservation and America’s first national park.
In this third series, new enemies and new deals force the Duttons to form unlikely alliances to secure their legacy.
Also arriving in the UK is Yellowstone’s prequel 1883, which sees Sheridan go proto-Western as he tells the story of Dutton’s ancestors: settlers Shea Brennan (Sam Elliot) and James Dutton (Tim McGraw), who flee poverty in Texas by heading West to seek their fortune in Montana.
The revered video game franchise finally gets a big budget adaptation, with Kyle Killen and Steven Kane bringing the sci-fi shooter to the small screen for a series that reputedly cost a cool $200 million.
To avoid tangling the complex original mythology, the series imagines a standalone story of an epic 26th century conflict between the ruling United Nations Space Command and an alien threat called the Covenant.
Pablo Schreiber stars as the UNSC’s genetically engineered hero Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, who, following an attack on an Insurrectionist outpost, encounters a mysterious artefact that releases his sealed childhood memories. The visions send him AWOL, freeing the planet’s last remaining, 17-year-old settler Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), before escaping together for a journey of self-discovery.
The Man Who Fell To Earth
A sequel series to the 1976 sci-fi cult-classic and unofficial origin story for its star and extra-terrestrial pop icon, David Bowie. Bill Nighy takes over Bowie’s original role, but the story is recentred on another alien who falls to Earth, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Faraday.
Like Bowie’s Thomas Newton, Faraday also hails from the planet Althea and has come to Earth seeking water to save his drought-stricken home. Although a climate crisis is also ravaging Earth, which leaves him and his allies – Naomie Harris’ physicist Justin and Rob Delaney’s investor Hatch - with two planets to save.
And four from the archive…
Lord of the Flies meets Lost in this genre bending plane crash survival story. In 1996, a high-flying, high school soccer team from New Jersey is travelling to Seattle for a national tournament when their plane crashes deep in the Ontario wilderness. The remaining players must fend for themselves for nineteen long months, and if the cuts to their current lives in 2021 are anything to go by – haunted by flashbacks to all the horrors - their survival was far more brutal than they’re letting on.
The slick and soapy Billions brings the cat-and-mouse game to the world of high finance, where the stakes are high and the morals flexible. Damian Lewis stars as hedge fund king Bobby Axelrod, aggressively accumulating wealth and power with little regard for the law. And on his tail is Paul Giamatti’s United States Attorney Chuck Rhoades, just as ruthless but lawfully so, with a penchant for punishing rich lawbreakers like Bobby who think they can simply buy their way out of trouble.
One of the most celebrated sitcoms of all time that also happens to be a spin-off. Frasier followed the uptight psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) from Cheers after the series wrapped to create a warm and witty comedy based on the lovable snob. Reeling from his divorce from Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), he returns to his hometown of Seattle, buys a luxury pad and becomes a radio show host. But his new home is soon invaded by pests: his grumpy ex-cop father Martin (John Mahoney), his even snobbier younger brother Niles (Pierce) and Martin’s Mancunian carer Daphne (Jane Leeves). Not to mention Martin’s dog and fan favourite, Eddie.
David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is so shrouded in mystery and strikes such an uncanny tone that it defies simple description. The plot has a generic enough premise, with Kyle MacLachlan’s FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper tasked with investigating the murder of a homecoming queen in the fictional small town Twin Peaks. But in typical fashion, Lynch alchemises all the American archetypes into idiosyncrasies, producing a surreal soap opera as campy as it is creepy and arguably one of the greatest series ever made.