As Hong Kong’s “zero Covid” crusade continues, six-part Netflix documentary series Midnight Asia: Eat, Dance, Dream delivers a cheery/galling, reassuring/aggravating (delete as appropriate) memo that there is still a world out there. It’s just that for the moment, you can look but you can’t touch. Visits to Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok, Manila and Mumbai – referred to throughout its instalment as “Bombay”; virulent, right-wing renaming imperatives be damned – all remind us of the fun we can’t have after dark. From the “Brooklyn of Seoul” (the Seongsu-dong district) to Soi Nana, in bouncing Bangkok, and from Tokyo’s shimmering Shinjuku to Ningxia Night Market (“the stomach of Taipei”), authors, chefs, bloggers, musicians and entrepreneurs line up to expound the virtues of their respective cities. It is after dark, they say, that every location reveals its genuine identity, each bewitching its wilfully captive audience with its street-food specials, booming beats and promises of artistic fulfilment. Your antidote to New Year cheer? Netflix Thai crime drama Remember You And something similar could be said for the human stars of each episode – the eating, dancing dreamers, young and old – presented as epitomes of the spirit of each place (and all scouted by the show’s producers rather than serendipitously chanced upon). Discovering that fitting in isn’t overrated after all – although that’s not to say they don’t stand out – these creatives make their cities as much as their cities make them. Bonus: they all seem like jolly people to be around. Juggling mixologist Ami Shroff blends magic into her dance of bottle-flipping brilliance at a celebrated Bombay – sorry, Mumbai – cocktail bar, while veteran backstreet-eatery king Sardar Ahmed is still dazzling commoners and Bollywood royalty alike, decades on, at Sardar Pav Bhaji. Seoul grooves intently to traditional pansori musical storytelling infused with indie rock, courtesy of the band Leenalchi ; Bangkok licks its lips at the culinary inventions of “green” chef Tam Chudaree Debhakam, whose restaurant’s fame owes much to its attached herb garden; professional woman wrestler Vernice Gabriel delights in slamming even male opponents onto the canvas at Manila’s Philippine Wrestling Revolution; and in Shinjuku, Tokyo’s daytime dweebs turn into nighttime’s outlandish bons vivants before the mixing console of the heavily sequinned 85-year-old DJ Sumirock. For many of the subjects of Midnight Asia , the night is all about temporarily giving up the day job. For all of them, it is about overcoming stereotyping to be themselves. Across swathes of the continent, freedom of action and expression remain robust. Baiting game Pushing the boat out in radically different fashion is French angler and adventure-travel television host Cyril Chauquet in the six-part fifth series of Chasing Monsters (BBC Earth). But Chauquet isn’t just fishing for his dinner out on the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers. His mission is to catch and photograph certain fish species (before tossing them back) to help scientists appraise the health of ecosystems globally. If a given species is found, then the food chain is likely to be intact – a theory supported by the presence of predators with which Chauquet finds himself in competition, even when fishing from shore. Looking for giant trevally in French Polynesia, Chauquet is “besieged by sharks” as he fights to reel in a brute determined not to come quietly. Off Panama’s Pacific coast, the fearsomely fanged dienton snapper must wait its turn to be tracked down as a starving Chauquet and crew go hunting rodents, having omitted (deliberately?) to take food to their remote island. And in the wetlands of Africa, they are threatened by temper tantrums from that most irate of amphibious monsters, the hippopotamus: jeopardy played out in reel time.