The streaming game feels particularly strong this week, which is fantastic news, given that the outside world feels a little less safe than it did a mere week ago? Do you want to know where you’ll find the best bang for your buck among the streaming services? There are two top contenders this week, and I’m talking about Apple TV and Netflix. The former’s bringing back a widely beloved Jason Sudeikis title character, who is sorely needed right now to spread his brand of optimism. And the latter has a sequel of a fondly remembered 1980s series, along with the most bizarre dating series that you’ve ever heard of and more. In other words, it’s impossible to break this Apple TV /Netflix tie, but there’s something for everyone on those two services.
However, it’s worth noting here that there are three other strong competitors this week. AMC keeps adding to its coffers with The Walking Dead: Origins being their cap’s feather, but there are three other (relatively) new shows on the roster as well. HBO Max brings in a good showing with selections that showcase music, comedy, hard-hitting journalism, and a different side of Sesame Workshop. Disney follows with a Loki behind-the-scenes special and a few other new series, and the streaming realm is not done yet. Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Paramount all have fresh offerings for you as well.
Here’s everything that you should consider putting in your queues this weekend.
Ted Lasso: Season 2 (Apple TV series) — First thing’s first: Everyone who’s caught a glimpse of this Bill Lawrence co-created and developed series loves it. That’s a notable feat, considering that star Jason Sudeikis first portrayed the title character way back in 2013 for NBC Sports’ promos for Premier League coverage. Fast forward to the fresh hell that was 2020, and the show surfaced as one of the year’s lone bright spots. Ted Lasso is somehow both relentlessly and charmingly cheery, although the last season finale showed the team losing against Manchester City, which spelled bad news, since the team can no longer hang in English Premier League games. We’ll see how they can turn themselves around, and while considering that possibility, it’s best to remember that Ted Lasso (and Walt Whitman) once said, “Be curious, not judgmental.”
Schmigadoon!: Season 1 (Apple TV series) — If a musical comedy series starring Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jane Krakowski sounds a little bit too frenetic to you, consider this: Apple TV has been crushing the comedy game these days with the likes of Mythic Quest and Ted Lasso under its still-young belt. So, one can bet that if a series called Schmigadoon! can succeed, the show found the correct streaming home. Strong and Key portray a backpacking couple who stumble into a 1940s musical, literally. The premise might sound a bit like a horror movie, but it’s intended to be (bizarrely) romantic with a bang-up cast that demands a streaming shot.
The Snoopy Show: Season 1 (Apple TV series) — Don’t be a blockhead, Charlie Brown. Instead, tuck into this new animated series for all ages, as long as you’re into the almost universally beloved beagle, Snoopy (duh), and his best friend for life, Woodshock. Not only is Snoopy actually Joe Cool, but he’s also Masked Marvel and a World War I flying ace, and yes, do not try to resist this delight of a revisiting that’s based upon Charles M. Schultz’s “Peanuts” comic strip.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Netflix series) — The very battle for Eternia’s soul continues with the ultimate fanboy, Kevin Smith, picking up the showrunner sword. Smith’s enthusiasm for all stuff geeky has led him down many roads, all of them filled with huge feelings, and honestly, the dude has the Power of Grayskull running through his veins. So, one can expect him to nail the tone here while advancing the story, justifying a revival, and continuing the story of the rivalry between Skeletor and everyone else. Cringer and Orko and Teela are on board, and the voice cast (including Lena Headey, Henry Rollins, and Jason Mewes) is phenomenal here, especially Mark Hamill as Skeletor. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of He-Man, guys.
Sexy Beasts (Netflix series) — Well, if you thought that you’ve seen every kind of dating series out there, Netflix is shouting something about holding their beer. The show purports to feature contestants that will choose matches based on personality only. Sounds practical, right? Well, the key to doing that here is dressing up as furries and other prosthetic-adorned creatures, and no reveal of actual physicality shall happen until the pivotal decisions are made. It’s like The Masked Singer, only way hornier.
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans (Netflix film) — This franchise installment (from Guillermo del Toro) picks up after the events of the Tales of Arcadia films, and those heroes must now come together to banish the evil Arcane order and defend humanity. Of course, the Arcane Order has ancient titans on their side and the darkest of magic, so vanquishing them won’t be a simple feat.
The Last Letter From Your Lover (Netflix film) — Shailene Woodley and Felicity Jones star in this story (based upon the novel by JoJo Moyes) about a journalist who uncovers decades-old love letters that reveal a forbidden affair. While investigating the individual threads that make up the mystery surrounding the affair, the journalist soon falls into a love story of her own.
Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage (HBO film on HBO Max) — All was not what it seems for this three-day music festival that was meant to revive the countercultural idealism of its 1969 predecessor. Well, things weren’t “peace and love” in 1999, but rather, a total disaster by most standards. Mosh pits, blazing heat, a distinct lack of sanitation, and an absence of free water led to riots and looting, all of which were not deterred by the scant security measures. Decades later, this documentary looks back upon a pivotal moment when rose-tinted nostalgia evaporated under the hard truths exposed by this mismanaged festival. All pre-Fyre Festival!
Tig Notaro: Drawn (HBO special on HBO Max) — On the heels of the “hot Tig” role in Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, quadruple threat (comedian, writer, actor and director) Tig Notaro pulls off an innovative first. That feat would be the first-ever entirely animated stand-up comedy special, in which you’ll witness an hour of pure genius. Several artistic styles will mesh with Notaro’s voice and storytelling style, and expect anecdotes about Dolly Parton and Jenny Slate, along with other fearless touches.
Through Our Eyes: Season 1 (HBO Max series) — Sesame Workshop gets dark with this quartet of 30-minute films that intend for adults to watch with their kids, who should be at least 9 years old, according to HBO Max’s press information. Each installment will follow children as they experience enormously challenging family issues, including parental incarceration, housing insecurity, weather-related disasters, and the hurdle of a military parent who’s been injured. These very real issues mean to teach lessons in empathy and will hopefully educate all ages.
Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes (HBO series on HBO Max) — Ronan Farrow’s podcast undergoes this miniseries treatment here while expanding upon existing interviews with whistleblowers, private investigators, and more. The minseries will dig into the powers that be, beginning with the Harvey Weinstein case, for which Ronan’s groundbreaking New Yorker investigative report got the #MeToo ball rolling.
Gossip Girl: Season 1 premiere (HBO Max series) — The original CW series helped to launch the careers of Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Sebastian Stan, and Penn Badgley (and the latter is now portraying an amped-up version of the same character on Netflix’s You). HBO Max is now ready to welcome another crop of mostly unknown faces playing wealthy, privileged teens who find themselves socially surveilled and at the mercy of the “Gossip Girl” narrator, who’s still voiced by Kristen Bell.
The Walking Dead: Origins (AMC limited series) — This batch of episodes will bridge the gap between zombie-apocalypse-laden seasons with the origin stories of Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and Negan. Expect a lot of interwoven clips (along with cast interviews and narration) to remind everyone of these characters’ most pivotal moments as their stories head into the final season.
Ultra City Smiths: Season 1 (AMC series) — Fans of Robot Chicken will undoubtedly want to check out this stop-motion animated selection from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and showrunner Steve Conrad. Expect very adult-oriented humor and the voices of Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Alia Shawkat, Tim Meadows, John C. Reilly, Bebe Neuwirth, Jason Mantzoukas, and Damon Herriman. The show revolves around a corrupt city and a group of characters who only want a kinder, gentler atmosphere in which to, uh, live. It’s a sort-of whodunit with the most unorthodox detectives (literally baby dolls) who are attempting to save the world. Hey, this show has Dewey Crowe, so why ask for logic?
The North Water (AMC limited series) — This adrenaline-filled series stars Jack O’Connell, Colin Farrell, and Stephen Graham with a story about a beleaguered and disgraced military surgeon who must contend with a terrifying Arctic mission. The elements are the worst enemy here, followed closely by the crew-mate violence at hand. Civilization is a long way away from this story.
The Beast Must Die: (AMC series on AMC ) — Jared Harris and Cush Jumbo star in this revenge-thriller series that has already been renewed for a second season. The story’s based on Nicholas Blake’s 1938 novel and revolves around a mother who’s hell-bent upon avenging her son’s death, all while a PTSD-afflicted detective’s working the case. It’s an enormously chaotic show, but it’s so crushingly executed that you’d be gripping your seat arms if you watched it in a theater.
Marvel Studios: Assembled:: Season 1 The Making of Loki (Disney series, releasing in the wee hours of Wednesday morning) — This immersive documentary-type series brings us a fresh installment to help us feel a little bit better about having to wait for Season 2 of all of the Lokis and their mercurial pursuit of the glorious purpose. Tom Hiddleston had an absolute blast playing the MCU’s trickster god, and hopefully, we’ll hear more about that crushing moment and the new big bad. This is the best Disney show so far, and Loki’s so beloved that you might binge the whole season all over again.
Turner & Hooch (Disney series) — The beloved 1989 Tom Hanks film gets the reboot treatment with Detective Scott Turner’s son taking the helm. Josh Peck stars as a U.S. Marshal who’s saddled with an unruly canine, only to realize that this pup is actually the partner of his dreams. Hooch is portrayed by five French Mastiffs, which means that series doesn’t take CGI shortcuts, and these dogs will charm everyone.
Stuntman (Disney film) — The Rock executive produces this movie that tracks veteran Hollywood stuntman Eddie Braun through highs and lows. Both arose from Braun’s career, including his attempt to complete cinematic history’s (arguably) most dangerous stunt, which happens to be replicating (and besting) Evel Knievel’s (failed) Snake River Canyon jump. What would be a more fitting way to put an exclamation point upon a crash-and-explosion filled career in Hollywood?
Playing With Sharks (National Geographic film on Disney ) — Valerie Taylor, a legend and icon in the shark-exploration world, shows off her incredible underwater archival footage in this documentary. She’s a pioneer, for sure, along with a leading spearfisher and an ardent activist for shark protection.
Jolt (Amazon Prime film) — Honestly, I couldn’t describe this film better than the synopsis, which I’ll quote here. Kate Beckinsale stars as a “bouncer with a slightly murderous anger-management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest she uses to shock herself back to normalcy whenever she gets homicidal.” Well, at least she’s a self-policing menace? Unfortunately, she actually falls in love with a dude who ends up dead, which causes a few problems, including being the primary suspect for obvious reasons. Jai Courtney and Stanley Tucci co-star.
Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years: Season 1 (Paramount series) — Young SpongeBob, age 10, goes to sleepaway camp, where Mr. Krabs rules the roost. Our protagonist seeks to nab his first jellyfish, and of course, his friends step up to assist while antics rage elsewhere.
American Horror Stories: Season 1 (FX on Hulu series) — This spinoff of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology-based franchise will present a new iteration of horror. Viewers will receive a fresh set of terrors within every episode, after the flagship series already dove through an unsettling asylum, a freak shows, a haunted hotels, a witch coven, and the apocalypse. It’s not as scary as the real America, but close.
McCartney 3,2,1: Season 1 (Hulu series) — The legend himself (yes, Paul McCartney) sits down with Rick Rubin to get real about his work and legacy from The Beatles, along with his five decades as a solo artist. This is a six-part series the aims to be much more revelatory than your usual pop-culture documentary, which is fitting, given that we’re talking about an iconic musician.