GOING UP: Guy Pearce as  Cleve Jones in When We Rise, M-Net 101, Saturdays at 9.30pm
GOING UP: Guy Pearce as Cleve Jones in When We Rise, M-Net 101, Saturdays at 9.30pm
SHAPING UP: Phila Mazibuko as DJ Coalstove on MTV Shuga Season 5: Wednesday at 9.30pm on MTV Base (DStv channel 322) & BET (DStv channel 129).
SHAPING UP: Phila Mazibuko as DJ Coalstove on MTV Shuga Season 5: Wednesday at 9.30pm on MTV Base (DStv channel 322) & BET (DStv channel 129).

It’s easy to understand the need for this communication tool, because there are so many new shows beginning on the channel, as well as series on production breaks.

You only have to read this column regularly to know that. But if you are serious about keeping up with what’s happening, you should keep reading this because there was nothing about the big bombshell we are dropping a few paragraphs down; and although I am not immune to mistakes and there are often last minute changes which come through after our deadline, I couldn’t resist gloating just a tiny bit at two inaccuracies in the first episode last week.

One referred to episode two of Big Little Lies this week (it was the third), and the episode numbers of When We Rise (M-Net 101, Saturday at 9.30pm).

This began last week, and is running with double episodes although they are considered two-part episodes, so we can let that one slide.

The docu-drama series chronicles the personal and political struggles, setbacks, and triumphs of a diverse group of trans and queer individuals who helped pioneer an offshoot of the Civil Rights Movement from its infancy in the 20th century to the successes of today, and is based on real people. One of them being Aids and LGBT activist Cleve Jones, played in part by Guy Pearce.

The first two episodes were directed by Gus van Sant and the cast includes David Hyde Pierce, Whoopie Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael K Williams and Mary-Louise Parker. Highly recommended.

There have been several new shows on M-Net 101 in the past week or so, and the timing is interesting because from the beginning of next month there is going to be a huge change: M-Net 101 will be absorbing M-Net Edge.

Apparently viewers have been complaining about too many repeats. This annoys me because having repeats is the only way one can keep up with everything. Yes, there is Catch Up, but sometimes that is delayed and all you want to do when you get home at night is watch that one particular series. Murphy’s Law dictates that this will never be available at that time.

And there will always be shows with no repeats and no Catch Up. A case in point is Imposters which began on 101 last Saturday at 8.30pm. It’s surprisingly difficult (for me anyway) to pick up a new series after it has begun with the establishment of the plot and characters. It stars Inbar Lavi as Maddie, a con artist who, with the help of her two teammates, gets men and women to fall in love with her and takes advantage of them.

The next reason to panic is: Will we get to see out all our favourite M-Net Edge series that are currently airing? The answer is yes.

During the course of this month, many series airing on Edge will have double, triple and even quadruple bills (some series will have their last couple of episodes overlapping into 101), so by the time April rolls around, we can look forward to supersized prime time entertainment, with new series and new seasons from 6pm until midnight.

The lighter family fare will run until 9.30pm, with the content we have had on Edge coming in after that. Hopefully there will be no problems with age restrictions because the younger children should be safely in bed by then, and subscribers have the option in their own hands to block adult content not suitable for them.

The weekend reality repeats will make way for repeats of drama and comedy series.

Coming highlights on the new 101 include season two of The Magicians, season three of The Leftovers, season five of Bates Motel, season three of Broadchurch, the second season of Detour, and the premiere season of Mad Dogs.

Detour season one begins tonight at 8 with two episodes, and again next Friday. On March 24 and 31, there will be three episodes back to back. The series, which performed well on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic when it aired in the US a year ago, follows Nate Parker jr (Jason Jones) and Robin Randall (Natalie Zea), and children Delilah (Ashley Gerasimovich) and Jared (Liam Carroll) as they drive from their home in Syracuse, New York to Florida for a family holiday.

The trip experiences several dramatic delays, such as car trouble, run-ins with law enforcement, unforeseen medical mishaps and intervening locals.

Additionally, it is revealed that Nate caused some professional trouble before leaving Syracuse and has ulterior motives for the Florida trip, fuelling flashbacks and a framing device involving several law enforcement agencies and an interrogation into his unspecified crimes.

Besides When We Rise and Imposters, two more new series began on M-Net 101 in the past week. Speechless (Fridays at 6pm) stars Minnie Driver as the crazy mom in a family which includes a wheelchair-bound son, which proves you can make just about anything into a sitcom. Big Bang Theory fans will recognise John Ross Bowie who plays the dad here, and Sheldon’s nemesis (one of them) Kripke in the former. As far as sitcoms go, it’s not too bad.

I’m not yet convinced about Pure Genius (Saturdays at 7.30pm), which stars Dermot Mulroney and Augustus Prew. It’s a medical drama, but set in Silicon Valley where a technology billionaire uses any and all methods to achieve breakthroughs in medicine. 

“The entertainment landscape is changing faster than ever - we’ve made these changes based on what our customers have told us. We know they want to see the best new and returning series, and that is exactly what they will get,” says group general manager for M-Net SA, Nkateko Mabaso.

Other changes on DStv’s M-Net channels will be the dropping of M-Net Movies Showcase (channel 107) in favour of more themed movie pop-up channels and movie festivals on existing M-Net movie channels.

“Our pop-up channels are extremely popular,” says Mabaso. “Viewers love the fact that they can easily find a collection of their favourite movies packaged under a specific theme on one channel. They enjoyed the Star Wars and Harry Potter pop-up channels - and we’re planning several more throughout the year.”

The recently launched M-Net Movies Collection also adds to the breadth of M-Net’s movie offering, and which I have been promising to review for some weeks already. As soon as RSAWeb gets my fiber installed

The M-Net Movies Collection comprise more than 1000 movies and is available on DStv Catch Up Plus, accessible to customers when they connect their DStv Explora to the internet. The collection is also accessible on the Catch Up section on DStv Now online and on the app. DStv Premium customers can choose what movie they would like to watch, when it suits them best.

“Good” news for DStv Family customers is that from April, Vuzu (channel 116) will replace M-Net Family (channel 162), which has not performed as well as expected, and the change will result in fewer repeats on this bouquet as well.

Customers with Exploras and PVRs are reminded to reset their recordings as their favourite shows find their new home on M-Net 101. These shows include Elementary, Major Crimes and Grimm, as well as Express From The US shows Crashing, Girls, Homeland, and Lucifer. I queried this, because the Explora is usually pretty good at picking up what it needs to, and it was suggested I do it anyway, just to be sure not to miss a thing.

For the latest information regarding these changes, consult your on-screen TV guide, find the online schedules at M-Net.tv or DStv.com, or the TV Guide on the DStv Now app. To help you out, we’ll run through the details of all the series and how they will play out in next week’s column. 

in the week

MTV Shuga (MTV Base and BET, Wednesday at 9.30pm): Pioneered in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009 and coming to South Africa for the first time with its fifth season, MTV Shuga is a long-running drama series and multimedia campaign that follows the lives of young people on the African continent.

Having successfully highlighted issues affecting young people in Kenya and Nigeria for nearly a decade, the show uses powerful contemporary storylines and relatable characters to disseminate public health messages targeting South African youth, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and their vulnerability to HIV infection and unintended pregnancy, and exploring sexual identity.